By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Milwaukee needs a district attorney and judges who will make public safety, not social experimentation, their No. 1 priority, says Milwaukee mayoral candidate Bob Donovan.
The former city alderman joined state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) and Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Patti Logsdon Tuesday at a press conference hosted by Empower Wisconsin. The public officials are calling on Gov. Tony Evers to hold Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm accountable for pushing progressive criminal justice policies at the peril of public safety.
The press conference was held just hours before Evers’ office released a memo from an outside attorney he had hired to review a citizen complaint asking the governor to fire Chisholm. The memo found the complaint was “insufficient,” leaving critics to blast Evers for hiding behind a lawyer to avoid a tough political decision.
Empower Wisconsin this week launched an ad — airing in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay TV markets — urging Evers to remove Chisholm from office.
“If [John Chisholm] wants to be a social worker, God bless him. Then quit and become a social worker. Citizens of Milwaukee are not guinea pigs for his social experimentations,” Donovan told reporters.
“It’s important that our elected officials do the job they’re hired to do and Job No. 1 is to provide for the safety and welfare of our citizens. And that’s not occurring now,” Donovan added. “We seem sadly to be more interested in the welfare of the criminal element than the rest of society.”
Chisholm has come under withering criticism following the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre on Nov. 21. His office recommended a scant $1,000 bail for Darrell Brooks Jr., a career violent criminal, just days before he is accused of plowing his SUV into the parade, killing six people and injuring scores more. Chisholm admitted that the bail was “inappropriately low,” but he blamed the “error” on an assistant DA who did not have access to a risk assessment report on Brooks.
But as Sanfelippo noted, Chisholm has been pushing progressive reforms — such as low/no bail and prison diversion initiatives — for years. Chisholm predicted early on in his tenure that his policies would lead to the deaths of innocent people. Sanfelippo has long warned that Milwaukee County’s revolving door criminal justice system isn’t just Milwaukee’s problem.
“Over the last decade I’ve authored dozens and dozens of tougher-on-crime bills. Each time I did and we would have hearings we talked about this day inevitably coming,” he said of the carnage in Waukesha, a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Evers could open an investigation and remove Chisholm for cause. Several Milwaukee County residents asked him to do just that — more than three weeks ago. They filed a complaint charging Chisholm with dereliction of duty.
Since then, Evers has wavered between saying he would take the complaint seriously and passing the buck. The governor told WDJT-TV in a year-end interview he’d rather Milwaukee County voters determine if Chisholm stays in power rather than “kick someone out of office.” Chisholm’s current term doesn’t end for three more years.
Evers didn’t have a problem opening an investigation last year into former Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King on sexual harassment allegations. Evers, who at the time said he was taking the matter “seriously,” dropped the probe after King resigned.
Logsdon, a Milwaukee County Board supervisor seeking answers to the cheap release of Darrell Brooks, has a personal connection to the issue. Her 14 year-old granddaughter, Samantha, a dance team member in the Waukesha parade, was critically injured when she was run over.
“My granddaughter is actually in surgery right now as we have this [press] conference,” Logsdon said. “We cannot forget these victims.”