Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Sue Black fired

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Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele fired Parks Director Sue Black yesterday. He told BizTimes, “I can get better service.”

My first reaction, this is like the time Jerry Jones fired Jimmy Johnson after winning a Super Bowl.

My second reaction, online speculation she was fired because she attended Tommy Thompson’s victory party? Naaaah. Maybe? Naaaah.

My third reaction, Abele is buying the parks from Milwaukee County and putting his gardener in charge. But then he announced a nationwide search for her replacement.

My fourth? Black probably refused to chase away the noisy kids playing in the park outside Abele’s window. “Susan, release the hounds.”

My fifth reaction, it’s almost budget time. Something might be afoot. She’s had budget issues before. Abele’s last budget had no tax increases. He might not want tax increases again, and Black may have been a problem in pursuing that goal.

And finally, this may be another Al Haig situation. Over at Urban Milwaukee, Bruce Murphy wrote about Black’s employment history in Wisconsin. He included this bit, “She quickly took charge, winning converts but also surprising people with her outspoken style. ‘If this weren’t home,’ she said in 2006, ‘I’d have gotten out of here a long time ago.'” Later in the article he mentions she threatened to quit more than once under Walker. She may have threatened to quit once too often, especially over her budget (see item 4). Her resignation may have been accepted, even if it was not the exact moment she offered it.

This is a rare bipartisan moment. WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes nominated Abele for a “Deep Tunnel Award” for saying he doesn’t owe the public an explanation, calling it gossip. Supervisor Gerry Broderick called the firing an act of war. This is not a popular move by Abele, made more risky given that the budget period is always contentious and he’ll be looking for public support.

 

 

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