De Bruin censured by fellow Milwaukee County supervisors

    Milwaukee County supervisors voted 13-6 today to censure Supervisor Lynne De Bruin for releasing details of a closed-session meeting regarding sexual assaults and other problems at the county’s mental health facility.
    The controversy centered on comments De Bruin attributed to Behavioral Health Administrator John Chianelli about the risk of sexual assault in mixed-gender wards being a trade off for the effect the presence of females has in reducing violence among males — compared to what is seen in all-male wards.
    De Bruin defended her release of the information, saying state law allowed her the discretion to do so. She said the 11 reported sexual assaults at the facility and others that may have gone unreported showed multiple failures among dozens of county employees, including staffers and administrators.
    She questioned the priorities of the board and said that unless action has been taken she’s unaware of, that at this point “I’m going to be the only Milwaukee County employee disciplined in any way, shape or form for people being raped and molested at BHD.”
    She also questioned why the board has not censured other members over campaign finance violations and other infractions over the years.
    Supervisor Peggy West said the censure was necessary so those who meet in closed session with the board can tell the supervisors what they need to know and have confidence that what they say will be kept private. She also noted that others at the meeting can’t comment or defend themselves regarding the substance of what was released without breaking closed-session protocol.
    Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo noted that a task force has been set up to investigate problems within the behavioral health division and if there are those who have done anything wrong they will be held accountable.
    Supervisor John Weishan Jr. defended De Bruin, saying the issue became public because the media requested a copy of a letter sent to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker regarding the matter and she was only fulfilling an open records request. He noted that De Bruin had not been found to have violated county ethics rules.
    West, however, said the censure was due to De Bruin releasing her meeting notes to the media, and not about her releasing the letter.
    Supervisor Mark Borkowski, Gerry Broderick, De Bruin, Patricia Jursik, Christopher Larson and Weishan voted against censure, while Supvisors Paul Cesarz, Elizabeth Coggs, Marina Dimitrijevic, Nikiya Harris, Lee Holloway, Willie Johnson Jr., Theodore Lipscomb, Michael Mayo Sr., Joseph Rice, Sanfelippo, Jim Schmitt, Johnny L. Thomas and West voted for it.

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