Sue Black fired from post as Milwaukee County Parks Director

MILWAUKEE — Sue Black was fired from her post as Milwaukee County Parks Director on Thursday, August 16th. Now, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he’s begun a national search for a new Milwaukee County Parks Director.

During a news conference held Thursday afternoon, Abele declined to comment on any specific reasons for Black no longer holding her post as Parks Director. Abele said this is about a better use of county resources and spending.

Abele denied any ego clashes or personal disagreements. Abele said it’s about the best use of taxpayer dollars.

“Jobs change. Nobody gets an appointment for life. That’s not an expectation,” Abele said.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Abele said:

“Sue has been a strong steward for the Milwaukee County Parks system. Her leadership has helped put us on a solid path as we move forward. I thank her for her years of service and wish her well in her future endeavors. Residents should know I remain committed to making sure we have the best parks for everyone.”

Black has won national praise for her handling of the parks. She was an enthusiastic face of a department and worked very well with the media.

Not far from where he held his news conference Thursday, Abele delivered the news to Black.

“I wish her well, and the parks are going to be fine. I care about our parks system. We have an extraordinary parks system. It deserves good leadership, and I’m going to work hard to find it,” Abele said.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West spoke with Black after her firing, and says Black never got a specific reason from Abele for the firing.

“She’s in shock. She’s devastated. I really don’t think there’s an adequate replacement in the nation. She’s a woman who gave her heart and soul to this. We are really a better county because of her,” West said.

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic also issued a statement Thursday:

“First, I would like to thank Sue Black for her many years of devoted service to the Milwaukee County Parks and to the taxpayers of Milwaukee County. Black secured several national awards and accolades for the Parks that we all cherish, especially in our urbanized area.”

While I am sorry to see Black go, I recognize that such a personnel decision is solidly in the purview of County Executive Chris Abele. Black became the public face of the Milwaukee County Parks, and I thank her for her efforts to tell the Parks’ story.

I commend Black for her achievements in developing private-public partnerships and corporate sponsorships in the face of diminished public support.

The Park People and the Friends of the Milwaukee County Parks issued a statement to what they say is the “alleged firing” of Black by Abele.

“We have worked closely with Sue Black over the years and have always appreciated her intensity and commitment to the Milwaukee County Parks System. Sue and her staff have done a particularly good job of maintaining our parks when faced with year after year of budget cuts and have been recognized nationally for their innovation and leadership in parks and recreation.

Through her leadership, there have been many improvements to our parks from the renaissance of Bradford Beach, concerts in the parks, Dog Exercise Areas and disc/Frisbee golf courses.

Since 1982, when the County tool over the Parks System, the budget for our parks is less than what it was when the County took it over in 1982. Sue was able to develop strong relationships with local businesses and community groups and partner to make things happen in our parks.

We’re still trying to understand the reason behind today’s events regarding Director Black and await to hear more information from the County Executive regarding her replacement.

We thank her for her years of public service and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.

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