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Clarke could retain House of Correction control beyond April 1 (UPDATE)

By: Beth Kevit, [email protected]//February 26, 2013//

Clarke could retain House of Correction control beyond April 1 (UPDATE)

By: Beth Kevit, [email protected]//February 26, 2013//

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The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting March 12 to potentially push back the April 1 deadline to shift control of the House of Correction from Sheriff David Clarke Jr. to a yet-to-be-hired superintendent.

During 2013 budget negotiations this fall, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, spurred by concerns about the way Clarke has run the HOC, decided to hire a superintendent to oversee the HOC and replace Clarke.

County supervisors plan to shift control of the HOC to a new superintendent April 1, but last month, County Executive Chris Abele asked that the deadline be pushed back to an unspecified date that would fall four months after a judge issues a decision in a related lawsuit Clarke filed against the county.

Clarke sued the county in December, claiming he has constitutional authority to oversee the HOC. The county has requested summary judgment in that lawsuit, and a hearing is scheduled for April 18.

Supervisor Mark Borkowski, chairman of the county board’s Judiciary, Safety and General Services committee, said the committee will meet March 7 to vote on Abele’s request to delay. A full county board meeting has been called for 1 p.m. March 12 to vote on the matter, as well.
One supervisor isn’t willing to move forward without a specific timeframe, however.

Supervisor John Weishan Jr. said he’s uncomfortable with the idea of an indefinite delay. He said he intended to introduce an amendment to set the new deadline for July, before the August break and the beginning of budget discussions in September.

Weishan said he thinks Abele is reluctant to hire a superintendent and potentially anger Clarke.

“The county executive has to step up to the plate and put in place a management team to run the facility,” Weishan said. “You could hire that person today.”

Conway denied Weishan’s claim that the county executive’s is wary of butting heads with Clarke and said Abele hasn’t stopped his search.

“It’s about hiring someone who may sit on their hands for a year and a half,” he said. “This is not our timeline or the board’s timeline. It’s the court’s.”

Weishan discounted the idea that the county should wait to hire a superintendent until a judge rules it has the authority to do so. That authority is well-vested in state statutes, he said.

Clarke’s lawsuit won’t be successful, Weishan said, and waiting to shift control to a superintendent until four months after a ruling could push the timeframe to do so past the end of this year.

“If the sheriff decides to appeal something,” he said, “you’re basically saying you’re not going to do anything in 2013 and possibly not do anything in 2014.”

 

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