Alderman Bob Donovan Open Letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

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Dear Mayor Barrett,

While undoubtedly, we disagreed on a variety of issues and policies over the years, I would hope you would agree we share a mutual love for Milwaukee and its wellbeing. I sincerely hope you read this letter in the spirit in which it is written. A spirit of genuine concern for our community.

While serving 20 years on the Milwaukee Common Council, my perspective on the challenges impacting Milwaukee were decidedly from the inside looking out. Now, as a private citizen, my perspective is from the outside looking in. I can assure you what I am seeing is not a pretty sight and is indeed most alarming.

According to a recent letter from the Milwaukee Police Association, so far this year (2021) crime is up 45%in the City of Milwaukee. Homicides are up 1% from a record high last year. Rapes are up 24%, robberies are up 21%, theft is up 42% and motor vehicle theft is up a whopping 194%.

I need not tell you how disturbing those numbers are. Yet I have no numbers to share regarding the impact of all this violence on individuals and families. I have no numbers to share with you on the growing level of drug dealing and prostitution and its devastating impact on our neighborhoods. I have no numbers to share with you on the out-of-control reckless driving impacting all parts of Milwaukee and I have no numbers to share with you as to the impact of the reality of this crime and disorder and how it is impacting people’s perception of Milwaukee and the decisions they are making as a result. I need not elaborate.

In a sense, Milwaukee is faced with a perfect storm of sorts. Police staffing has been reduced by hundreds over the last decade. Moral is extremely low, officers are overworked and overstressed. The department has no permanent police chief. Add to this the war on cops and all that entails. A criminal element that, for a variety of reasons, feels extremely emboldened. And why not? All too often they are simply not held accountable by the DAs and the judges.

Milwaukee continues to face ongoing fiscal challenges, and is also saddled with a ruling class, with few exceptions, which is unnecessarily critical of police and who are far too willing to acquiesce to the whims of the far left. A ruling class which has failed to recognize the dictates of common sense and human nature and realize if there are no consequences for a person’s bad behavior, that behavior will continue and assuredly escalate.

All of these things together create the perfect storm and a recipe for civil chaos. What’s occurring on Water St. is merely a symptom of these larger issues. Even a mayor as liberal as John Norquist realized the importance of the police, the rule of law, and order maintenance in the wellbeing of our neighborhoods and City.

Mayor Barrett, it is incumbent upon you to take the appropriate action. The beleaguered citizens of Milwaukee deserve a plan to turn retreat into advance.

A plan that spells out the challenges we face, a plan that first and foremost supports the brave men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department. A plan that insists those officers do their job and enforce the law, all laws, fairly, equally and without prejudice. A plan that provides the department with the manpower to do that job. A plan that ensures our DAs and judges hold individuals accountable for their criminal behavior. A plan that effectively deals with the reckless driving epidemic impacting Milwaukee and restores order to our neighborhoods. A plan that addresses not only the chaos on Water Street, but the carnage in our neighborhoods.  A plan that partners with the State of Wisconsin and other stakeholders. And a plan that the citizens of Milwaukee can have confidence in.

Failure on your part to stand firm and unite our City behind the rule of law and offer this plan I fear will only embolden the criminal element and those content to foster chaos and, sadly, hasten the decline of a once great American City.

Bob Donovan is a retired Alderman in the City of Milwaukee. Donovan served District 8 since 2000 and retired in 2019. He is well known for being a supporter of the Milwaukee Police Department, and law enforcement in general. He is an outspoken critic of Mayor Tom Barrett, the HOP (Milwaukee’s streetcar), and an advocate for common sense government and public safety.