By Barbara Boxer for   Published Mar 14, 2006 at 5:24 AM

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Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway has been in the headlines recently, but certainly not in a good way.

There are 90 ethic violation charges against him, and he had an arrest warrant out for him. He was on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for not fixing windows in apartments he owns in the inner city, causing tenants to use the stove to heat their apartments. His supporters claim this front-page coverage is racist.

As a lawyer, I believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And I believe Holloway will have his day in court to prove his innocence or be found guilty. But I believe Holloway is guilty of a leadership flaw and that his fight to remain board chairman is hurting current and future African-American leaders.

Simply put, the Milwaukee County Board is mired in the Holloway controversy with the African-American community supporting Holloway and claiming racism is behind the coverage. The fact is that the Milwaukee County Board is split along racial camps, and every issue takes on a racial overtone. In the meantime, the important business of county government is at a standstill. That is bad for all of us.

The board is consumed with procedures on how to oust or keep Holloway. The corporate counsel for the county and State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager have wasted time and taxpayer resources arguing about what state law should apply to Holloway's ouster.

Enough! Even Tom Delay stepped down from leadership when the controversy got so bad his leadership was ineffective. Holloway's leadership as board chairman is at that point.

By Holloway making his controversy about race, he causes harm to current and future African-American leaders. Many in the white community ask why the African-American community is supporting Holloway? When white County Executive Tom Ament was under fire, creating controversy and ineffective leadership, the white community didn't support him; he was forced to step down.

There should not be a double standard. When elected officials -- no matter the color of their skin -- are mired in controversy and cannot effectively lead or effectively represent their constituents, they should relinquish their leadership post.

They do not have to relinquish their elected seat; that is for the voters to decide (by recall or in the next election).

But the leader in question should resign from leadership and allow the rest of us to move on. Otherwise, the leadership flaw is apparent in that individual.

Barbara Boxer, an attorney at Reinhart Law in Milwaukee, is a veteran Democratic activist and fundraiser.