Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Few Observations On The DeBraska Charging

The crimes alleged by the Milwaukee County District Attorney against former Milwaukee Police Association President Bradley DeBraska over an allegedly-bogus memorandum filed in an MPA lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee certainly raise a host of questions.

A criminal complaint usually contains just enough information to support the charging, so we will have to wait for additional facts, allegations and findings to emerge.

Here is a link to the full complaint.

Let me also say that I worked in the administration of Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist when the MPA was peppering the city with pension-related lawsuits, but I left city employment in January, 2004 - - before the allegedly false memorandum was created, so I was unaware of the situation until the news broke last last week about it.

Questions that leaps to mind are:

* How was the allegedly forged and back-dated memorandum that the complaint says was created at DeBraska's direction on an MPA computer transferred onto official city letterhead stationary?

* Who put the Kalwitz signature on the memorandum?

Here are copies of what the complaint says are the memorandum's original text, and the copy on official city/Common council President letterhead stationery on which Kalwitz said is not his signature.

These questions are not answered in the complaint, though the complaint says the MPA did not have the technical means to create such stationery.

Are there supplies of official letterhead outside of the control of the City of Milwaukee?

That would be a serious problem, akin to blank City of Milwaukee checks walking away from the City Treasurer's office.

Such a circumstance would enable misuse, regardless of how stupid such actions might be.

Kalwitz says in the complaint that he did not carefully look at the affidavit that he signed - - the memorandum purportedly from and signed by him was incorporated into the affidavit - - and did not realize that the signature on the memorandum wasn't his signature, the complaint says.

The complaint describes the memorandum as central to the MPA's case.

Kalwitz did receive along with the affidavit that he signed a $2,000 MPA check signed by Debraska for what Kalwitz understood to be consulting services, the complaint says, though the complaint does not further describe that consulting arrangement.

Kalwitz left city employment in 2000.

Finally, will the city bill the MPA for the time that city lawyers, labor negotiators, aldermen and others spent dealing with a lawsuit that the DA now says included an allegedly phony but important document - - that the city and not the city pension system participants (many of whom are members of the MPA) should pay the lion's share of a multi-million dollar pension system computer upgrade.

Some of those city employees who dealt with the police litigation are in the $100,000+ annual salary range - - so you're looking at plenty of hours at $50 dollars each, and more dollars for the time of support staff, too.

All the lawsuits were rolled into what was called the global settlement, hammered out over a period of years with the help also of city-paid expensive, outside lawyers and actuaries.

Those folks don't work for $50 an hour, believe me.

The allegedly forged memorandum also suggests a settlement that would boost one level of employee benefits for police union members to the level enjoyed by city firefighters.

I think the MPA, though it didn't authorize the drafting of the letter, should bear the cost of the actions of its then-President, since the MPA profited and prospered through DeBraska's advocacy as a union official and negotiator which won benefits for their members as part of the global settlement.

In other words, the union should win and lose based on the actions of its President, taking the good with the bad, so to speak.

The MPA did the right thing when it turned over to the DA records it discovered in its computers that showed the creation of the letter at the heart of the felony charges against DeBraska.

If a court finds DeBraska guilty of concocting what the DA alleges is a bogus letter, the MPA should pay for for the staff time that taxpayer-paid staffers spent dealing with a case based in part on a forged document.

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