Last fall, Milwaukee County
Executive Emperor Chris Abele presented his proposed budget to the county board. It was then when he first uttered the words that he was helping the African American community in Milwaukee by improving the House of Correction, increasing child support enforcement, social services and mental health programming. Since then, he's repeated the same thing in other settings and to other audiences.
Thus it was no surprise to anyone, but Abele, when he lost the City of Milwaukee, which has the state's largest African American community, to his opponent, State Senator Chris Larson, by ten percentage points.
This was not Abele's first time for making a race relationship blunder. Most notably, in 2012, Abele sent Patrick Farley, his then Director of Department of Administrative Services to make a fraudulent criminal complaint against Johnny Thomas, an African American county board supervisor.
Since making his infamous comments last fall, two other major incidents of racial discrimination by Abele has come out.
The first is when Abele defied a forty year old federal consent decree that dealt with racial discrimination practices the county did in the 1970s. Abele refused to offer a first shift position to Doris Ellison, an African American certified nursing assistant at the Behavioral Health Division who had been laid off by Abele.
The second incident involves Jonette Arms, the interim director of the Milwaukee County Department of Aging. Even though Arms, who is African American, has held that position since June 6, 2015, when the previous director, Stephanie Sue Stein, had retired, Abele has refused to nominate her to become the full time director.
Not only has Abele refused to nominate Arms - treating her differently than any other director - he has further disrespected her by:
- Undermining her authority in her own department
- Forbidding her from representing her own department at various meetings, including before the county board
- Forbidding her from having any communication with the press
- Smearing Arms in front of the Commission of Aging
Abele recognized that he had damaged himself badly with the African American community, enough so that it could cost him the election next week. And since he was not invested enough to do the work needed to repair his race relations, Abele has decided to go on a full smear attack of his opponent in order to turn off African American voters to both candidates.
To do so, Abele has sent out endless mailers, claiming that Larson is the racist in this race. He has also enlisted the aid of his favorite sellout state senator, Lena Taylor, to express faux outrage over an alleged insult by Larson. It only took her a week to figure out she was offended. And even though she accepted Larson's apology, she continues to try to milk the attention for what it's worth.
Abele has also called on the aid of a corporate African American radio squawker, Sherwin Hughes, as well as a African American "journalist" at the Milwaukee Courier to run nonstop smear attacks on Larson.
The allegations and innuendos leveled by Abele and his camp are utterly ridiculous. If Larson was such a raging racist, as they try to infer he is, Larson would never have been endorsed by such prominent African American leaders such as Congresswoman Gwen Moore, State Senator Nikiya Dodd, State Representative David Bowen and the Honorable Vel Phillips, a pioneer for African American women in Milwaukee and Wisconsin government.
In fact, Abele's allegations have gone so far as to accuse Larson of disrespecting Dodd. Dodd addressed the ridiculousness of such allegations on her Facebook page:
Over the six years I have known Chris Larson, we have had a respectful, professional relationship. Never has he used derogatory language to distort my character, or used demeaning language towards me as a Black woman, as it was claimed on the radio today.
I am deeply concerned that certain individuals have used my name to create a narrative of false accusations, engaged in political mudslinging, and have been spreading rumors without verifying or fact-checking.
If I ever have issues or concerns about any person with whom I have developed a professional working relationship, my practice and my reputation is to address issues or concerns directly with that person.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I stand for respectful professional relationships, and for not tolerating any disrespectful behavior towards me.
I have never had to address these types of concerns with Chris Larson because we have always treated each other with dignity, respect, and professionalism.
We don’t agree on everything, but we’ve never crossed a line where Chris tried to tear me down as a Black woman. That’s not a bridge we’ve ever had to cross.
It’s unfortunate that in this political landscape some people have stooped so low as to abandon all integrity rather than stand up for the truth.
Abele might have a lot of money thanks to his daddy, but all the money in the world won't by Abele a drop of integrity or class.