February 10, 2011- Tom Nardelli, former chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, has been named administrator of the state Safety & Buildings Division.
Nardelli, a former Milwaukee alderman, was Walker's chief of staff for three years, until Walker was elected governor. Nardelli began the state job this week.
As head of the state safety division in the Commerce Department, he inherits an operation with about 165 employees and has oversight of state building and safety codes on everything from amusement park rides to elevators and fire safety, Nardelli said.
The division will be shifted to another state agency, the Department of Regulation and Licensing, in July when the Commerce Department is shut down and reconfigured as a combined private-public agency.
Nardelli was chosen for his "proven record of leadership and accomplishment," Paul Jadin, secretary of the state Commerce Department, said in a prepared statement.
Nardelli, 66, served as Milwaukee alderman from 1986 to 2004. He ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2002, losing a primary to Walker and the late Jim Ryan. He ran a city consulting business after leaving his aldermanic post.
Nardelli will be paid $90,000 in his new job. He was paid about $75,000 with the county as Walker's chief of staff.
Nardelli collects a $30,000-a-year pension from the city and another undisclosed sum from the Army, where he served more than 25 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel.
He's also eligible for a county pension of about $4,500 a year, but that won't kick in until April, when his unused vacation and personal time runs out. Nardelli will also be eligible for a state pension. If he keeps his state job for four years, he could get about $5,700 a year.
After he left the county's employ in December, Nardelli said he quickly tired of being home a lot.
"I was simply bored to tears," he said.
He'll commute to his job in Madison from his Milwaukee home, Nardelli said.