By Doug Hissom Special to Published May 30, 2008 at 5:24 AM

One of the last vestiges of the Art Jones' tenure as police chief in Milwaukee could come to a close next week as a Common Council committee considers settling a lawsuit with a former officer alleging that Jones discriminated against him for speaking out against the chief.

James E. Miller, Jr. sued the city and Jones for $1 million after the then-chief took away Miller's job as head of the Police Athletic League in 2003, a post he held for 12 years. Miller asserted in his federal lawsuit that former chief Jones violated Miller's First Amendment rights by changing Miller's responsibilities and ultimately transferring him to routine patrol duties because of certain statements that Miller made.

Miller and Jones had a dispute overa PAL deal with the Boys and Girls Club. A Taj Mahal of a building was proposed for PAL as part of what was later found to be an illegal kickback deal between former state Sen. Gary George and builder Carl Gee.

When Miller went to Jones and told him that something was rotten in the PAL deal, Miller contends Jones put him on street patrol. PAL closed the building shortly after the George scandal surfaced and the Children's Outing Association now runs it.

Gee and his Opportunities Industrialization Center gave and received kickbacks to George for the building. Gee and George went to prison for their roles. OIC is now defunct.

Miller is now willing to settle with the city for $160,000.

Same as the Ole Boss: Police Chief Ed Flynn made his first pitch to the Common Council to spend federal drug seizure money and it looks amazingly like the laundry list of wishes from previous chiefs. Flynn must have kept the same accountants.

Each year the feds give municipalities money after seizing property from alleged and convicted drug dealers with the caveat that it go toward drug reduction efforts. And it rightly could be argued that any cop on the street is an effort to thwart drug use.

But historically police chiefs in Milwaukee have used the fund to pay for items that would normally not pass muster with the Common Council at budget time. That's how Milwaukee got its horse patrol.

Flynn hasn't forgotten the equestrian unit, asking that the council let him spend $112,000 on it next year. Included in Flynn's request to spend some $950,000 next year:

  • $82,025 to upgrade the bicycle patrol with 10 to 15 new bikes.
  • $22,500 for new laptop computers and projectors to be used at community meetings.
  • $10,000 for room and board for three drug dogs.
  • $5,000 for 12 portable cameras so officers don't have to wait for staff photographers to respond to crime scenes. (No word on whether or not this will result in plethora of MPD video on YouTube.)
  • $45,000 for cell phones.
  • $151,360 on computer upgrades.
  • $150,000 for digital photo storage.
  • $17,455 on new harbor patrol equipment.
  • $56,700 for signs that tell drivers how fast they're going.
  • $325,500 to renovate the old District 3 station on Vliet Street.
  • $25,000 on recruiting.
  • $15,430 on new weapons for the tactical squad.
  • $57,600 to buy used cars for undercover surveillance.
Doug Hissom Special to
Doug Hissom has covered local and state politics for 20 years. Over the course of that time he was publisher, editor, news editor, managing editor and senior writer at the Shepherd Express weekly paper in Milwaukee. He also covered education and environmental issues extensively. He ran the UWM Post in the mid-1980s, winning a Society of Professional Journalists award as best non-daily college newspaper.

An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.

He lives in Bay View.