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Of Deputies Dogged and Clarke’s Conniptions

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on August 12, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

Earlier this week, Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that

Sheriff Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was up to his usual tricks of playing the petty tyrant and going after union officials.

But first, the background.  When the horrible tragedy occurred at O’Donnell Park, in which a teenage boy was killed by a falling facade off of the parking structure, Clarke correctly called for deputies to come to the scene to help out with traffic and to help people get their cars out of the structure.

Deputy Rich Graber, who is the vice-president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff’s Association, called the patrol captain to remind him of the contract rules about overtime.  Graber also later denied permission for the Sheriff’s Office to  waive that part of the contract.  As it was, there were deputies going back to work after only getting five hours of rest.

Clarke later called Graber into his office and behaved in a most unprofessional manner:

Graber – whose group often is critical of Clarke – describes it more as an expletive-filled, anti-union rant. During the two-hour session, Graber said, Clarke called him a “terrorist” to the agency, a “cancer” and a whole variety of expletives.

Graber’s written and verbal summaries of the get-together have the second-term sheriff using the F-bomb again and again. He used it as a noun, verb and an adjective, the union official said. Clarke initially was upset that Graber wouldn’t let the sheriff ignore the contract when selecting deputies to work mandatory OT monitoring the site after the accident. But the conversation went far beyond that to host of other complaints, Graber said.

According to his written summary, one exchange went something like this:

“Why do you keep calling me a (expletive)?” Graber asked. “I’m not a (expletive).”

“You’re a (expletive),” Clarke countered, repeating the term.

“Well, you don’t know me well then,” Graber said.

“I don’t want to know you – I want to get rid of you,” Clarke said. “I want to rid this agency of waste like you.”

Interesting stuff from a guy who likes to tote and quote books on leadership and management techniques.

A couple of days later, Clarke started whining that the allegations leveled by Graber, stating that they were untrue and that Graber, and the union, were only doing this as a political ploy meant to harm his reputation just before the September primary, in which he faces MPD Lt. Chris Moews.

Unfortunately for Clarke, history does not support his accusation.

In 2008, Bice reported about an incident in which Clarke failed to notice that a driver he was trying to help out of a snowbank was intoxicated.  The drunk driver even had an open beer in the car, as well as several empties, which Clarke also failed to notice.

Deputy Sandra Santoro arrived at the scene and actually followed proper protocol.  She quickly found that the driver’s license had been suspended.  She also noticed that the driver appeared drunk, saw the empties and the open beer can.  It turned out the driver was twice the legal limit and admitted to Santoro that he had been drinking.

When Bice did an open records request into the incident, Clarke slapped her with bogus charges and put a gag order on her and refused to release any documents.

More than a year later, Clarke had a permanent letter placed in her file accusing her of not collecting the empty beer bottles and cans that he failed to notice, even though he was on the scene for a full half hour.  Clarke claimed that she was not following proper procedure.  However, further investigation by Bice showed that this was not out of the norm for the department, and a revised policy was issued after the good deputy’s file had been stained.

And that was not the only incident demonstrating Clarke’s tyrannical ways.

When Deputy Michael Schuh had exercised his First Amendment Right of Free Speech, Clarke took it out on him by ordering him on foot patrol, by himself, in some of the toughest neighborhoods, even though that was technically under the jurisdiction of the Milwaukee Police Department.

There are also numerous cases of the union having to sue Clarke and the Sheriff’s Office for his unfair labor practices and violations of union contracts, which have cost tax payers millions of dollars, just to feed his overinflated ego.

Sheriff Clarke really needs to stop these antics and show proper leadership skills.  We cannot keep affording such irresponsible behaviors from someone who is supposed to be looking out for the public safety, both in the money the lawsuits are costing, as well as having a demoralized force when we might need them to be there for us and our safety, and not playing nursemaid to his ego.


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