Battle between Sheriff Clarke, Milwaukee Co. hits new heights

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MILWAUKEE CO. -- The budget battle between Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele has hit new heights. 27 sheriff's deputies were supposed to lose their jobs under the new Milwaukee County budget, but Sheriff Clarke refused to lay them off as part of the 2012 budget. On Friday, a Milwaukee County judge decided to put this case off for a week -- and therefore, the deputies will remain on the payroll.

The question being argued in court Friday -- what power does the sheriff possess? The County says the sheriff is going beyond his constitutional rights by keeping the deputies on the payroll. The sheriff's lawyers say Sheriff Clarke has a duty to protect the community regardless of the cost.

The judge ruled Friday Sheriff Clarke does not have unlimited power, and the County does have the right to lay off deputies. However, there is another court case involving how many deputies can be laid off in relation to collective bargaining, so the judge did not want to make a decision that would be irrelevant next Friday when everyone returns to court.