Mayor Barrett blasts bill that impacts Fire and Police Commission

MILWAUKEE -- A power struggle is forming between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and some state lawmakers.

A new bill introduced in Madison could change the way police officers and firefighters fight to get their jobs back.

The mayor pointed out only a few years ago, they championed a change that fired police or firefighters, will not continue to get paid as they fought on an appeal. The bill just introduced, would reverse that decision.

Barrett argued the only loser in that end of the deal, are taxpayers.

Barrett claims the so-called "bad apple" could potentially get paycheck even through appeal in circuit court.

Barrett claims the financial impact with adjusted wages could cost the city about one million dollars a year.

Alderman Bob Donovan, a strong critic of the mayor sided with Barrett on that point. However, Donovan supports one section of the bill where, "...the board of a first class city must have at least one member with professional law enforcement experience and at least one member with professional firefighting experience."

The mayor disagreed.

"I don't want a situation where you have peers that have to make these difficult decisions because these are career-ending decisions, to have someone on your "bowling team" make that decision," said Barrett.

Donovan reacted, "Oh, that's an insult to the integrity of the police and firefighters. It really is."

Since the bill was just introduced, it won’t get a vote until next year.

The mayor also called out Republican state Sena. Van Wanggaard of Racine for being a co-sponsor of the bill. Wanggaard's office points out the state senator is a former police officer and served on the Racine Fire and Police Commission.

Van Wanggaard also sent us this statement:

“It’s rare when the Milwaukee city council and state legislature agree on something, but both agree the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) needs reform. The bill restores FPC independence and places FPC power in the people, instead of in one person in City Hall. It gives some oversight power to the city council, while the mayor still retains all appointment power.
 
I don’t know how it can be called an “attack on the Milwaukee” when much of the bill comes directly a Milwaukee-commissioned report about restoring police accountability and strengthening the Milwaukee FPC. In addition, many of the provisions impact every police and fire commission in the state, not just Milwaukee.“

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