Daniel Bice has the following piece in today's Journal Sentinel noting that Sheriff Clarke – who often gives his "opinion" about everything going on in Milwaukee whether or not it's related to his department – has been oddly silent regarding the Milwaukee County reform bill working it's way through the legislature in Madison.
But now that state lawmakers are talking about actual legislation that could cut the pay and funding for County Board members, the sheriff has been noticeably quiet.
He has been offering his thoughts on Milwaukee County judges, background checks for gun purchases, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and even the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board.
But he has said almost nothing about state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo's proposed legislation to cut supervisors' salaries roughly in half to about $24,000 if voters agreed in an April 2014 binding referendum. The board's budget also would be trimmed by about half next year to some $3.5 million and decline 30% more starting in 2016.
So where does Clarke stand on the plan, which has the strong backing of Clarke's allies on talk radio?
"The pay and duties of the Board are not my concern," Clarke said in an email sent Friday. "I'm observing for now."
I can say with absolute certainty that is not the case.
I was in Madison a few weeks ago talking with legislators on both sides of the aisle and at least four of them asked me why Sheriff Clarke was personally calling them and asking them to vote against Rep. Sanfelippo's bill.
They were confused because as Bice points out in his column Clarke has rarely had a good thing to say about County government and the Board in particular over the last eight years. So why was he now calling and lobbying State Senators to kill the reform bill?
I won't attempt to speculate as to the reason the Sheriff doesn't want the reform bill to go through. But I will point out the Sheriff has toned down his criticism of the County Board since last fall and the Board has been virtually silent about Clarke and some of his nutball comments (gun control, etc) lately as well. Supervisor Weishan has been the only Board member to criticize Clarke in recent months.
It's unfortunate this is the case right now as every public official in Milwaukee should be getting behind Clarke's challenger Chris Moews instead of cutting deals with Sheriff Clarke.
Unfortunately, this sudden truce between the Sheriff and the County Board is nothing more than attempts by both sides to maintain the status quo and playing the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" style of politics.
One thing is clear though: despite a lack of press releases siding one way or the other on the County Board reform, Milwaukee County Sheriff has been anything but silent with State lawmakers.