Monday, February 27, 2017

Gov. Walker should explain: why won’t he remove David Clarke from Sheriff’s post?

Rep. Crowley asks, “If you are not willing to take the time to respond to a fellow elected official, how can you possibly be responsive to the people of Wisconsin?”

At the end of the month of January, Democratic state Rep. David Crowley of Milwaukee sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker requesting the removal of Sheriff David Clarke from his post.

Clarke, whose fiery brand of rhetoric has gotten him into hot water on many occasions, has witnessed four deaths in one year’s time — including one infant death — in the jails his office is meant to oversee. He has also recently threatened harm onto a Milwaukee County citizen who simply shook his head at the sheriff on a plane flight they shared on their way back to Milwaukee, harassing him shortly after they landed by using his deputies to intimidate the individual.

Besides recall elections, county sheriffs can only be removed from office prematurely by the governor of Wisconsin. And that is what David Crowley requested in his January letter to Scott Walker.

Here’s what Crowley wrote back then (from the Wisconsin Gazette):
The comments and actions of the Sheriff are completely unacceptable for any public official and constitute a cause for removal from office. I call on you to remove David Clarke from his position as Milwaukee County Sheriff immediately. The people deserve a Sheriff who is committed to protect and serve, not one committed to threaten and intimidate. The time for action is now.
No one really expected Walker to remove Clarke from his position of power. Both he and Clarke supported President Donald Trump during the general election campaign, and both share the same extreme conservative ideology, although Clarke is admittedly more vocal about it.

What wasn’t expected, however, was Gov. Walker ignoring Rep. Crowley’s letter altogether. Walker didn’t respond to Crowley with any type of written response (not a letter, not even a tweet) regarding his request. He did speak to the media on the matter, but not to Crowley himself.

Crowley is again sending another letter to Walker — this time, taking the governor to task for his failure to respond.

“It has been 35 days since this request,” Crowley wrote this week, “and I have yet to have received a response.”

He went on:
[T]he fact that in over a months’ time you have not responded to the request of a State Representative greatly concerns me. If you are not willing to take the time to respond to a fellow elected official, how can you possibly be responsive to the people of Wisconsin? I know personally that the constituents that I represent are waiting for an answer in regards to the removal of Sheriff Clarke. This is not a partisan issue. The people that I represent and the people of Milwaukee County deserve a timely written response.
(Emphasis in bold added.)

Crowley closes his letter by telling Walker, quite bluntly, that the “lack of response is completely unacceptable.”

And I’m inclined to agree. Even if Walker had never intended to remove Clarke from his elected position, at the very least Crowley’s request deserved a formal response. The people of Crowley’s district want Clarke removed, and a majority in Milwaukee County (62 percent) disapprove of Clarke’s job performance, according to recent polling. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board says Clarke’s “posts and tweets are clearly not the statements of someone who should be in office,” and they encourage Milwaukee County residents to vote him out in 2018.

Maybe Walker won’t remove Clarke from office. But Crowley’s constituents, who are also Walker’s constituents, deserve to be told in a direct way why the governor feels the way he does. At the very least they deserve a formal written explanation; but if the governor is a man of strong conviction, like he purports to be, he should explain his decision to the citizens of Crowley’s district in person, in the form of a town hall.

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