Milwaukee County Exec Steps Down

February 21, 2002 ( - Embattled Milwaukee County Executive Thomas Ament, caught in a citizen recall drive because of a controversy over high pension payouts, is giving up the fight.

Ament, 64, told County Board members that his resignation will be effective next week, an Associated Press report said.

“I have sadly come to the conclusion that I cannot effectively lead this government at this time,” Ament told the County Board, the AP said. “I take responsibility for this and I’m truly sorry that it happened.”

Ament and several County Board members were targeted for recall after it was learned that the enhanced pension plan they approved in November 2000 would give Ament and other top politicians lump-sum payments of $1 million or more in addition to their monthly checks when they retire.

Ament has said he did not know the payouts would be so high, and he agreed recently not to collect the higher benefits himself.

County officials said that more than 300 county employees have retired or are considering it because of the enhanced pension benefits.

More than twice the number of signatures needed to force a recall election was filed with the county last week (see Petitions Delivered in Milwaukee Controversy ).