Abele on Sue Black firing: 'I can get better service'

CREATED Aug 16, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 16, 2012

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MILWAUKEE-  Sue Black, the Milwaukee County Parks director who has won national awards for her work, was fired Thursday.

Black was the department's director since 2003 and was apparently told by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele during a meeting Thursday, saying "we are going in another direction. We are letting you go."

TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson reports that Abele didn't elaborate about the firing during a press conference Thursday afternoon, calling it a "personnel issue."

"What I owe you is the best use of your tax dollars," said Abele to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure."  "It's not me vs. the parks, it's not me vs. any one person."

"I owe people and tax payers outcomes," argued Abele.  "I can tell you the decision wasn't arbitrary. I don't owe you or the public gossip."

John Mercure asked Abele if Black was doing a poor job as parks director.

"I can get better service," Abele responded.

The Journal Sentinel reports that the parks department won the national Gold Medal in 2009, which honors excellence in parks management.  She also won the Norman Gill Award this year from the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum for individual excellence.

Abele previously gave two raises to Black in 2011 for her work.

She was offered a chance to run the Chicago Parks District, but declined.

Abele concluded his interview with "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure" that the decision wasn't a prelude a giant cut in the budget or mass firings.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Gerry Broderick told TODAY'S TMJ4, "Now we have an unproven leader (Abele) who has just fired a proven leader (Black).  Someone has got to explain this to me.  I don't get it."