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Supervisors target O’Donnell investigation

Emergency crews respond to the scene of the partial collapse of the ODonnell Park parking structure on June 24. (File photo by Joe Yovino)

Emergency crews respond to the scene of the partial collapse of the O'Donnell Park parking structure on June 24. Three Milwaukee County supervisors are calling for an independent investigation. (File photo by Joe Yovino)

By Bill Clements
Special to the Daily Reporter

Three Milwaukee County supervisors on Wednesday plan to call for an independent investigation into possible criminal charges involving the failure of the O’Donnell Park parking structure that resulted in the death of a Greenfield teenager.

Supervisors John Weishan, Chris Larson and Marina Dimitrijevic plan to lead a march beginning at 4 p.m. at Service Employees International Union Local 1, 250 E. Wisconsin Ave., and move to O’Donnell Park, where they have scheduled a news conference.

Milwaukee County Sheriff Michael Clarke (Photo courtesy of Clarke's blog)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (Photo courtesy of Clarke's blog)

At the news conference they plan to say the investigation should not be handled by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and District Attorney John Chisholm but by an independent third party, either the state or the federal government.

“Even if it wasn’t a political season,” Weishan said Tuesday, “I’m not confident that Milwaukee County can do the investigation and possibly find themselves liable. … I want to bring fairness to the process because a tragedy of this level deserves an honest review.”

In the June 24 incident, a 13-ton piece of concrete fell from the O’Donnell Park structure and killed 15-year-old Jared Kellner, who was on his way with his family to Summerfest.

“If we don’t do something independently and don’t look after the long-term safety of the facilities in Milwaukee County — we won’t be serving the people of Milwaukee County,” Larson said.

Larson said the intent of the march and press conference is to “highlight that there are some questions here about the O’Donnell structure as well as at many buildings in this county.”

He added that a piece of the county courthouse’s cornice fell off during the winter, though no one was hurt.

“Buildings are literally falling apart,” Larson said.

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Holloway did not immediately return calls for comment. His spokesman, Harold Mester, said Holloway does not believe a third party investigation is necessary at this point.

Mester, though, added that Holloway wants answers about the safety of county buildings across Milwaukee County, as indicated by his call the day after the tragedy for the county audit department to study all county buildings. That audit is under way.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said Tuesday afternoon that an independent investigation is not necessary. He said Clarke and Chisholm are the proper authorities to handle the investigation.

“Both the county sheriff and the district attorney are both agents of the state, and not Milwaukee County,” Walker said. “They are the people the state would turn to, to do this investigation.”

Walker, who is running as a Republican for governor, added that he believes the call from Weishan, Larson and Dimitrijevic is politically motivated.

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