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Political payback? County Board to vote to suspend its attorney

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee County Board is set to vote on Thursday, June 20th to fire its Corporation Counsel — after Board members say the attorney just isn’t working out. Meanwhile, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele claims job performance has nothing to do with the attorney’s firing.

The Corporation Counsel provides legal opinions to both the County Executive and the County Board.

It is no secret the members of the two branches aren’t getting along.

The Board needs 12 votes to remove Kimberly Walker from her position, and on Thursday, that’s what they’ll try to do.

Walker says the County Board’s push to fire her is more disappointing than surprising.

“Unfortunately, it feels to me like a continuation of the power struggle between the Office of County Executive as well as the County Board,” Walker said.

County Executive Abele says he has seen nothing that would justify Walker’s firing.

“I can’t tell you why they made their decision, but I can tell you what it wasn’t — it wasn’t about who’s the best servant and Corporation Counsel for Milwaukee County,” Abele said.

Supervisor Theo Lipscomb declined to give any specifics as to why Board members want to remove Walker, saying it’s a personnel issue.

“Over the two years of her service, there’s been a developing sense people were unsatisfied with her representation and it just finally came to a head,” Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb maintains the decision to fire Walker has nothing to do with Abele.

“That’s an outrageous accusation and unfounded. There’s no basis for that. They may wish that’s the case that we would act on that basis but I have no reason to go after the County Executive by removing the Corporation Counsel,” Lipscomb said.

The County Board’s relationship with the County Executive has gotten worse since Abele publicly supported Act 14 — a state-sponsored measure to force elections every two years, and cut supervisors pay from $50,000 to $24,000 a year.

Walker believes she is now a victim of political payback.

“We have worked very hard to make sure we provide counsel based on law. We’ve tried to stay out of the politics. That’s essentially what we’ve done,” Walker said.

During Thursday’s County Board meeting, supervisors will vote on the confirmation of Kathleen Eilers. Abele appointed her to run the Behavioral Health Division, but in committee, supervisors rejected that appointment by a 6-1 vote.

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