Sheriff Clarke’s recent comments have hit a new low. While my office has had policy disagreements with the County Executive, these disagreements have always been at the policy level, never about personalities. Unfortunately Sheriff Clarke has reduced himself to only a personality. He refuses to engage in real discussion much less cooperation with departments.
Clarke’s recent remarks regarding the County Executive and now the City of Milwaukee Police Chief are below the belt, but also entirely out of line for an elected official. If anyone owes an apology, it is the Sheriff for his comments last week regarding the County Executive.
Many Supervisors, including my office, have limited their comments after a heated budget process regarding the Sheriff’s department. Initially, the Sheriff promised the County Board during budget deliberations that he would support returning the House of Correction to a Superintendent, following evidence-based best practices in the realm of corrections. Now reneging on his promise, Clarke’s recent filing of a lawsuit to block the restoration of a Superintendent is proving costly to the County. Clarke’s attempt to control the jail and turn the House of Correction into a second County jail run by his department is at the expense of the taxpayer. Clarke’s hiring of a lawyer to use the courts to force delays is an about-face by the Sheriff who usually criticizes the judiciary. Apparently Clarke is not above using the third branch of government when it suits his view of the world.
My office applauds the County Executive for appointing an interim Superintendent. The Sheriff must not be permitted to bully the Executive, bully the Board, and bully the taxpayer. Bullies do not get to win because they are better at name-calling. The County Executive is following the policy and deadline set out in the budget. Returning a Superintendent will save money and shut down this dishonest attempt by Sheriff Clarke to thwart the will of the people as expressed through their duly elected representatives in passing a budgetary policy to reestablish a House of Correction run by a Superintendent. Clarke, himself, forced this move because he has proven that he cannot work cooperatively with others. It’s time to put an end to these expensive stall tactics and move forward together.