From a press release from Supervisor Peggy Romo West:
Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West, District 12, has worked with Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic to provide 100 free flu shots on Monday, December 3 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the St. Vincent de Paul Meal Site, located at 931 W. Madison Street in Milwaukee.
St. Vincent de Paul Meal Ministry provides an average of 250 meals a night to low-income and homeless individuals and families on the near south side. The flu shots provided will improve public health as there is evidence that influenza vaccination is a safe, preventive health measure with potential benefit across all age groups.
“I’d like to thank Aurora Health Care for its commitment to the health of our neighborhoods,” said Supervisor Romo West, who serves as chair of the Health and Human Needs Committee of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.
Participants are not required to bring anything with them to receive a free flu shot.
During the recent budget battle between Chris Abele and the County Board, one of the most contentious issues was whether to abdicate the county’s duties regarding patrolling the parks within the City of Milwaukee. Abele wanted to foist this responsibility onto the Milwaukee Police Department and the cost onto the taxpayers of the city, even though residents from throughout the county enjoy the parks. The Board felt that this was the wrong way to go and amended this part of Abele’s budget.
Histrionic about the move, Abele vetoed it and fought for support of it, even though most citizens were against it.
The Board listened to the people and overrode Abele’s veto.
Now that the budget process is over for another year, Abele released the news that the Assistant Medical Examiner who originally incorrectly ruled that Derek Williams’ death was due to natural causes had resigned. It was only a year later, when the case was reviewed, that the cause of death was corrected to homicide.
However, as Supervisor David Bowen points out in a press release, Abele had withheld that information for two weeks:
“The delay in making public the resignation two weeks ago of the Assistant Medical Examiner shows no respect to this community, which continues to be concerned about the death of Derek Williams in City of Milwaukee Police custody!”
“When the County Executive fires well-respected public servants like Sue Black and Frank Busalacchi, who he had appointed, he makes it a priority to inform the public the same day. But when a community is frustrated by the lack of humanity of officers who refuse to call for medical attention as a resident dies in the back of a police car, the Executive is silent, misleading the public into thinking nothing has happened.
“The resignation of the Assistant Medical Examiner strongly suggests that there has been wrongdoing in this situation, to the degree that he could not continue in his job in good conscience.
“Residents of Milwaukee County should question the Executive’s priorities: Is he more interested in protecting the interests of the residents he represents, or of leaders who protect the status quo of wrongdoing, while relations between the Milwaukee Police Department and community residents deteriorate.
“I call for the County Executive not to succumb to the same old politics that have gotten us into this mess but to enforce accountability and be the honest leader we need him to be.”
Given that Abele was so desperate to push through the spinning off of county duties to the city, it seems likely that he might have withheld this information in order not to stir up the strong feelings regarding the mistakes made in that case and the fact that it was the Milwaukee Police Department who neglected to get medical attention for Williams as he was dying in the back of a squad.
Not only is it a horrible politicization of a young man’s death, but it serves as a glaring reminder of the utter lack of transparency that has become a trademark for Abele’s administration. Abele still needs to explain the sudden and unexpected firings of former Parks Director Sue Black and former DPW and Transit Director Frank Busalacchi.
From our friend at the County Grounds Coalition:
There is no telling how many veterans’ graves will be disturbed by the Froedtert expansion or by the wholesale destruction of the county grounds across the street. The question is if any of the self-serving politicians who feign compassion and respect for veterans, like Scott Walker and Chris Abele, actually care about the consequences of their actions on the veterans buried in these fields.
In the past year or two, it’s been the term used to describe the practice of a public employee who had retired coming back to their old job as a temporary and/or contract worker.
No one likes the practice.
Conservatives hate it because they consider it to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. (Of course, they hate it when any money is ever spent on anything but making corporations and the wealthy even wealthier.)
Unions hate it because it’s taking jobs away from active union workers.
The only ones that like it are government officials that are trying to look fiscally conservative, even though it’s rarely the actual case.
Politicians also like to use double dipping against opponents, trying to paint them as fiscally irresponsible.
In that sense, double dipping has again made the news.
Dan Bice, most likely working on a tip from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s office, wrote an article about how the Milwaukee County Board hired a retired aide for a few weeks as a contract worker, to help clean up Abele’s poorly done and illegal budget proposal.
Colleen Henry, reporting for WISN (Channel 12) news, did a slightly better job on the story. She at least reported that it was not only the County Board bringing back retirees, but also the Sheriff’s Office and Abele himself.
Sadly, both reports suffer from horrible tunnel vision and allow Abele to proceed with his hypocritical attacks unchallenged.
The practice of double dipping has been going on in Milwaukee County for years. It rose to prevalent levels during then County Executive Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, when he would use it to cover the extreme staffing shortages he caused in order to falsely present himself as a fiscal conservative.
While not illegal to do, there were limits regarding the use of contract workers, such as the kind of work they could do and how long they could be used. When Walker would try to push these limits, the union would step in and file grievances which would curtail this behavior.
It should be noted that Walker, as governor, is continuing to use this practice to fill the holes that he has created with his myopic and mean-spirited policies. Funny how that never gets reported by the supposedly liberal media, eh?
Abele has not only continued the practice of using retirees as contract workers, he has expanded the use of them to a much higher degree than the public is aware of, since the media has failed to report on this. Some contract workers were allowed to stay much longer than they were supposed to while others have been brought back time and time again.
Ironically, since Walker finally got his Act 10 rammed through, the unions are not able to take any actions to curtail this irresponsible and expensive practice. And now that Act 10 has been struck down as being unconstitutional, Abele continues to fail the taxpayers by not recognizing this court ruling, thereby allowing him to continue to squander taxpayer dollars to cover up his shortsightedness.
So why is this becoming a news story now and why is it mainly focused on the County Board?
Bice’s article gives us the answer:
[Abele spokesman Brendan Conway] noted that the County Board added the temporary worker at the same time it was refusing to let Abele hire two more people for his seven-member staff.
In other words, Abele is lashing out at the Board because they curtailed the expansion of his own office.
But when one looks at the numbers and where each one comes from, Abele’s complaint looks even more petulant and hypocritical.
The backdrop, the sick time payout and the pension are from Tom Ament’s pension scandal from ten years ago.
So what Abele is really complaining about is that the Board spent $4,845 for a highly experienced and knowledgeable former staffer to help out for a few weeks in repairing his budget. Yet Abele has been spending much more money for a much longer time doing the same thing.
The wonder is why the media is focusing on the County Board’s one time hiring of a retiree while ignoring the fact that Abele is doing the same thing at an exponential level and that Walker also did it as county executive and is still doing it as governor.
Could it be the bias of a corporate media or just lazy reporting?
From our friends at Move to Amend:
Move to Amend Wins Big at the Ballot Box: Americans Fed Up with Big Money and Undue Corporate Influence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
CONTACT: Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, press@MoveToAmend.org , 707-269-0984
From Massachusetts to Oregon, Colorado to Illinois and Wisconsin, and Ohio to California, citizens throughout the country voted overwhelmingly yesterday for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.
Residents in over 100 cities had the opportunity to vote on measures calling for an end to the doctrines of corporate constitutional rights and money as free speech, and in every single town the vote was supportive. Often by an overwhelming margin.
In Eau Claire, WI the vote was 71% in favor of a measure stating, “Should the US Constitution be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech, by stating that only human beings, not corporations, unions, or PACs, are entitled to constitutional rights?”
In largely conservative Pueblo, Colorado, where the city newspaper came out against the measure, residents still voted 65% in favor of Move to Amend’s resolution, placed on the ballot by County Commissioners. Move to Amend volunteers in Massachusetts collected signatures to place the constitutional amendment question before one third of the population of their state. The “MA Democracy Amendment Question” passed by 79%.
Voters in Mendocino County, CA where volunteers collected signatures to become the first California county to place a Move to Amend citizen’s initiative on the ballot, explicitly voted to “stand with the Move to Amend campaign” by a 73% margin. Move to Amend resolutions also passed in several towns in Illinois and Ohio and Oregon, all by similar landslide margins.
Montana voters approved a state-wide resolution by 75%.
Another organization — Common Cause — put forward several measures calling for simply overturning Citizens United and granting Congress authority to regulate campaign spending. These measures also passed by a wide margin. In the state of Colorado, the Common Cause measure passed by 64% and in San Francisco approval was 80% and 72% in Richmond, CA. The group’s measure in Chicago passed by 74%. Common Cause was also an active member of the MA Democracy Amendment Coalition.
Move to Amend’s position is that the Constitutional amendment must go beyond simply overturning Citizens United, “There is no reason for us to shy away from a true and lasting solution, rather than just band-aids,” stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a member of the Move to Amend National Leadership Team. “In every single community where Americans have had the opportunity to call for a Constitutional amendment to outlaw corporate personhood, they have seized it and voted yes overwhelmingly. Tuesday’s results show that the Movement to Amend has nearly universal approval. Americans are fed up with large corporations wielding undue influence over our elections and our legal system. Citizens United is not the cause, it is a symptom and Americans want to see that case overturned not by simply going back to the politics of 2009 before the case, but rather by removing big money and special interests from the process entirely.”
Milwaukee County voters were denied their right to vote on this important referendum because Milwaukee County Executive thought it was like “a Facebook poll.
Apparently, Abele thinks corporate influence on government is more important than the people’s voices being heard.
With the Milwaukee County Board ready to meet for Budget Adoption Day on Monday, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has shown signs of desperation for his old budget which was nothing more
than a grand illusion met to deceive the taxpayers and the citizens of Milwaukee County.
He’s taking all the refuge he can in order to defend his myopic budget, resorting to the Public Policy Forum, which he financially supports through both the Greater Milwaukee Committee and his own personal group, Argosy as well as with the corporate media giant Journal Communications, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and talk radio.
His latest attempt to mislead the people came on Thursday in the form of an email blast with the ironic subject line of “Government only works when you are watching.”
He list several bullet points, but are incomplete if not utterly dishonest.
For example, his first point is:
Raises taxes nearly $4 million.
Abele actually omits two facts here.
One, is that the tax increase, if adopted and stands up to his veto, would be an increase of just over 1% of the county portion of property taxes, which is 16% of the total tax a property owner pays.
Secondly, given the way the state law is currently written, this would be the last year for the county to raise taxes for the future. The fact that neither Abele or the Board took that into consideration, the following budget will be devastating.
Abele’s next point is both incomplete and dishonest:
Cuts employee pay raises in half and slash a first-of-its-kind $500,000 employee bonus program that would have recognized outstanding County workers who go above and beyond what is asked of them.
As we have pointed out before, the raises that Abele offered were an insult when compared to the cuts he would put on workers’ salaries in the form of higher deductions, higher copays, higher premiums and the removal of all funding for flexible health savings accounts. By reducing the raises, but restoring some of the cuts made through the health care costs, it is much fairer to the workers, even though it is still higher than what Act 10 called for. It should also be noted that Act 10 has since been ruled unconstitutional, making any of these changes illegal.
This would also be a hard thing to sell to people in light that Abele has included a 20% increase in the executive’s budget, including the addition of new staff and raises for others.
Abele’s first budget has already had negative effects of creating higher staff turnover rates and spending an increasing amount of taxpayer dollars on training rather than on services. His proposed budget would have only made this situation much worse.
Furthermore, Abele’s “bonus program” would be illegal under county ordinances, most notably the ethics code and recently codified parts of the former contract.
It should be mentioned, as we had earlier, that many of Abele’s moves regarding workers’ benefits have been challenged in court. Each challenge has thus far been successful, meaning that not only is Abele not saving money, he is increasing the cost through legal fees.
Another one of Abele’s points deals with the deal he made with his friend, Mayor Tom Barrett:
Cuts the City/County Parks Patrol Plan, a collaboration that would have saved $5.2 million over three years
This is basically the first phase in a move to spin off parts of Milwaukee County in his plan to end Milwaukee County Government. It would shift a greater tax burden on the City of Milwaukee and unfairly distribute suburban tax dollars to pay for City Services. This plan would not have saved money as much as simply shifted it and it would have done nothing to make the parks safer. This plan has received overwhelming negative responses from urban and suburban citizens and has been panned by both progressive and conservatives. It’s a bad plan that should never have been introduced and we commend the Board for rejecting it.
In what could be described as his most comical complaint is this one:
Slashes critical positions in the Budget Office and Human Resources Department while adding a position to the Board’s own staff that already includes 56 people.
When Abele appeared on the John Mercure show on WTMJ – 620 AM on Wednesday, he decried the cuts to Human Resources saying he needed this Department to help hire only the best workers available.
Yes, in his first year and a half in office, Abele has shown that this is not the case. Consider these events of Abele’s “best workers”:
- Sue Black – Director of Parke Department: Abele though to highly of her, he gave her a considerable raise in salary to keep her in Milwaukee, then turned around and fired her for unknown reasons.
- Frank Busalacchi – Director of Transit and Public Works: Also fired suddenly with no explanation given by Abele.
- Jim Tietjen – Associate Director of Operations: Fired for running his personal business through his county office.
- Patrick Farley – Director of Administration: Participated in an effort to frame former Supervisor Johnny Thomas. Admitted to lying to Thomas in order to entrap him.
If this is Abele’s top talent and if this is the way he treats them, Abele is going to need more than an extra staff person or two in Human Resources to find and keep top caliber help.
Overall, the amendments proposed by the County Board’s Finance, Audit and Personnel Committee are much better than Abele’s budget, but it is still a long way from ideal. It does little to nothing to prepare for the future when budget’s will suffer more due to the state failing to meet its duties as responsible administrators of their own budget.
The County’s first priority is to start a serious and concerted effort to find a dedicated funding source for the Transit and Parks Departments. This needs to be started immediately. Without it, the Transit System is looking at stark cuts to services, which will lead to greater job losses and a worsening regional economy.
Call or email your County Supervisor today and tell them to stand up against the plutocrats and profiteers and to stand with the citizens of Milwaukee County by pursuing a balanced and fair budget.
Also call County Executive Abele at 414-278-4211 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him that we are watching and that neither he nor his budget are working for us.
After our questioning the county’s anemic response to the fifth death at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex this year, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele felt a stronger response was necessary. Unfortunately, his response was a blustery one meant to shift the blame for the problem onto someone else.
Abele had this to say on Wednesday about the death of Brandon Johnson:
County Executive Chris Abele on Wednesday promised to discipline any staff member at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex found to have had a role in the death of a 25-year-old patient there.
Abele emphasized that he doesn’t know whether any county staff played a role in the death of Brandon T. Johnson on Oct. 6.
“We need to know everything about how this happened,” Abele said in an interview. “If there are issues and if there is staff responsible, people will be held accountable.”
He said he wanted a thorough investigation to find out circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death.
This is not an unfamiliar pattern for county executives to take.
Then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker chose to make examples of three corrections officers and a corrections manager for an alleged escape of an inmate from the Community Corrections Center. The inmate was suspected of committing murder while on the lose. Except the inmate was never really gone and was not responsible for the murder. The officers finally got their jobs back months later and got paid about $64,000 each in back pay.
All of this was because Walker wanted to divert blame from the real cause of the series of problems which occurred due to a severe staffing shortage.
It has already been noted that one of the largest issues to blame for the ongoing problems at the mental health complex is a shortage of staff:
Complaints by nurses over unsafe staffing levels at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex have surged this year, suggesting that short staffing could be a factor in a rash of patient assaults, nurses’ union officials said Wednesday.
For the first 4 ½ months of this year, 167 complaints were filed by nurses with administrators at the complex, said Candice Owley, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.
That compares with 182 filed for all of 2009.
The complaints generally relate to shortages based on illnesses, staff furloughs and job vacancies, as well as sicker mental patients requiring more intensive care by those on duty, Owley said. An increase in “one-on-one” staffing in which a nurse or nurse’s assistant is assigned to monitor one high-need patient can create dangerous situations elsewhere at the Mental Health Complex’s acute psychiatric unit, she said.
Yet, with these facts well known, Abele had chosen to not only not bolster the staffing numbers, but to cut them further. It should come as no surprise that with even fewer staff and fewer resources, that the problems not only continue but accelerate in frequency and severity.
One has to wonder if Abele will keep to his word and just what discipline he will impose on himself.
When the medical examiner revised his ruling regarding the death of Derek Williams, the young man who was allowed to die in the back of a Milwaukee Police squad, from natural causes to homicide, the Milwaukee County Board sprung to action, holding meetings with the medical examiner and with the district attorney. This was followed up within days with an announcement that new legislation was being introduced which would reform the way the medical examiner procedures including:
The revised policy features several key changes, including: The Medical Examiner or staff investigator must request any and all reports available from known or involved agencies; The Medical Examiner or staff investigator must also request and all available audio or video recordings; and the Medical Examiner or staff investigator must documents this requests, receipt/denial or status of all reports and recordings.
However, when Brandon Johnson died at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex earlier this month, the Board’s reaction has been much different.
Despite Johnson’s death being the fifth one at the complex this year alone and the ninth death since 2010, it took the Board almost two weeks to show any kind of response. Unfortunately, that response, when it finally did come, leaves a lot to be desired. The Board’s response is to have a closed session meeting of the Health and Human Needs Committee. By it being a closed session, that prevents the public from knowing what is going on except for what the Board chooses to tell us.
The fact that there has been five deaths in one year of our most vulnerable citizens is simply outrageous in itself. The fact that the Board has not shared this outrage is disconcerting.
It could be because they are afraid that these deaths would leave the county liable for lawsuits. However, that should not even be a concern. If the county did something wrong, they should pay for it.
Or it could be that the Board is afraid that these deaths will have a negative consequence regarding their planning to systematically dismantle this vital safety service. The county is planning on pushing these people out of the complex and into the public, expecting private agencies to care for these sometimes dangerous people. So far, the community resources have been woefully inadequate to take on more than a handful of people, although the county has continued with laying off workers at the complex.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele couldn’t even be bothered with a press release about this. But he did express “frustration“:
“I hear about things like this, and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating precisely because I care, and the staff cares, and we are making progress, and we gotta make more,” Abele said.
While Milwaukee’s county executive said he can’t comment on the specifics of this case, he told WISN 12 News he’s committed to addressing the concerns it raises.
“My approach on anything like this is I want to understand exactly how this happened, every detail, and what will we do to reduce the likelihood that this stuff happens again,” Abele said.
Sadly, his desire to reduce the likelihood does not apparently include providing sufficient staffing and other resources.
We need to know the answers to the questions that surround these deaths. We need to know what happened and why they happened and how we can prevent more of these pointless tragedies.
And we need to know these answers soon, since it is budget time. If the deaths are related to the worsening staffing shortage, as some sources have reported to MCF, the Board needs to ensure that this is addressed in the budget.
Anything less would not only be irresponsible, it would be immoral.
On September 27, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele presented his proposed budget for 2013. In his address to the County Board, he painted a glorious picture of the budget, from fixing long-neglected parks to halting the descent of the transit system to actually recognizing and rewarding county employees. He’s promising that his budget will do everything short of washing the breakfast dishes for everyone in the county.
His budget has the usual suspects swooning in admiration, with one columnist going as far as stating that Abele has the “courage of his convictions.”
But as with his predecessor, Scott Walker, what he says and what really is are two vastly different things.
Like a great illusionist, Abele tries to draw one’s attentions to amazing feats of unexplained wonder, while trying to hide the truth from his audience.
One example is his statements towards the parks. Abele stated that he has added to the parks budget and is going to renovate the long neglected and boarded up Moody Park as well as do major work on a number of other parks. These are all things that we can easily support. However, we also agree with Dan Cody, who points out that Abele’s approach to the parks is disappointing and rather misleading. The money that he is touting is money that has been sitting around for years and was earmarked solely for Moody Park. Abele is finally getting around to using it, but is spreading it around to other parks as well, still giving short shrift to Moody Park.
As Cody also points out, Abele’s budget also lays off nearly another hundred workers, which will not help in maintaining safety or appearance in the parks. Can we expect more scenes like the ones we saw two years ago, of pictures of the parks where garbage is everywhere?
Furthermore, Abele doesn’t address the big picture of where he is going to find a sustainable funding source for the parks. This glaring omission should give one pause to wonder if he is fixing up the parks only to make it easier to privatize them down the road.
Abele’s approach to the transit system is very similar to the one he took with the parks. He is touting that he did not cut routes or raise fares. However, looking at the actual budget shows that he is cutting more than $7.5 million from the paratransit system. He bases this on an estimated 325,000 less rides being given, but does not explain why he is making that assumption.
And as with the parks system, Abele tries to ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room – that fact that without a dedicated funding source, transit is going to receiving a massive blow in 2014. Abele’s plan for that eventuality is not to find a dedicated funding source, but to ask Scott Walker to restore the cuts that he made for the county transit system. He might as well ask the sun not to rise in the east tomorrow while he’s at it.
While Abele’s approach to most of the budget is rather neglectful, doing the minimum as he kicks several cans down the road, his approach to his employees is fully of cynical disdain.
Here is what Abele said in his speech about the workers:
One of the big challenges in our budget this year is rising health care costs. While those costs have increased, the employee share of total costs is not going up.
The last number of years has been difficult for Milwaukee County workers. Like many public sector employees, they are unfairly criticized for budget problems that have been made by elected leaders. During these tough budget times, workers have been asked to make sacrifices through wage freezes and furlough days.
I’m happy to say this budget lessens that load. Not only are there no furlough days but employees this year will receive cost of living and step increases. My budget also includes money to reward those workers who go above and beyond.
The Human Resources Department is working on a performance bonus plan that will recognize employees in all departments who truly shine. Public service is a noble calling and this is a small way to thank those who go the extra mile.
It is true that there are no furlough days, mostly because he learned his lesson by having to pay out for the illegal furlough days from 2010 and still having the payout for 2011 hanging over his head, an issue he has failed to address in his budget proposal. The money owed to the workers is still continuing to gain interest at a 12% rate, compounded daily.
And unless the raises that he discussed are 20%, like those he gives to his cronies, they will not come anywhere near the cuts he has in store for the workers. He is raising health care premiums, deductibles and copays to the tune of approximately $2,500 per worker, or a little more of a $1 per hour pay cut, on top of the cuts he imposed over the last year, which far exceed those outlined in Act 10, which isn’t even a valid law anymore.
Abele is proposing to offset a $9.3 million hike in health care costs by charging employees and retirees $10.5 million. The extra money will be used to cover some of the many holes in his budget.
It should also be noted that in the 2012 budget, Abele removed the HMO option for county employees, forcing the entire workforce into the much more expensive PPO system. Abele continues that in his 2013 budget.
One of the issues of greatest concern is Abele’s plan on initiating a “merit system,” in which he will supposedly reward employees that “go that extra mile.” All of the officials, elected or appointed, and employees in general that MCF had spoken to in the past week have laughed in derision when this subject was brought up to them. No one expects that the half a million dollars will make it far past the executive’s suite or his cabinet. This move is commonly seen as being a legalized form of political patronage and cronyism.
Not only does Abele’s “merit system” have the smack of being cronyism, but it is also illegal. It violates a number of county ordinances, from the civil service codes to aspects of the labor contract which Abele had just signed into law. It also flies in the face of Milwaukee County’s Code of Ethics, which explicitly forbids any county official or employee from giving or receiving anything of worth.
What makes this especially egregious is that the fact that Abele tried to start a cynical campaign to have this law struck down, using the untimely and tragic death of Sheriff Deputy Sergio Aleman, whose widow is also a county employee as an excuse. Abele’s office was telling people that they would be in violation of the ethics code if they contributed to Deputy Aleman’s memorial fund unless the law was tweaked to allow this sort of thing.
It is safe to assume that if this system is passed by the Board and implemented, the unions will be filing a lawsuit to stop it.
Another issue of concern which leaps out is Abele again trying to put limitations on the back drop benefit enacted during the Tom Ament administration more than ten years ago. While his motive for doing so is commendable, the reality makes it less so. Over the past decade, the county has literally spent tens of millions of dollars in fighting the lavish pension benefits that Ament had bestowed on the workers. Each time, the unions have filed complaints, grievances and lawsuits regarding these moves and each time the unions have prevailed. The county has recently chosen to appeal the most recent of these rulings despite being advised by their lawyers that they will lose again, adding to the amount of money being squandered.
One courthouse insider said that the Abele administration is taking a page from Walker’s playbook, in the sense that they are hoping to get these cases to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where such matters are decided on the ideology of the conservative majority rather than on the law. The odd thing about this is that the cases will probably end up going to federal court where the original rulings will be restored. Perhaps Abele is counting on the unions going bankrupt before them.
Finally, there should be concern about Abele’s refusal to raise taxes this year. While no one likes to pay taxes, Abele should be fully aware that this is the last year, per state law, that the county has to build a buffer for the upcoming cuts in shared revenue. His willful failure to do so would leave the county in very dire straits in years to come where vital services and public safety will be greatly damaged.
It is this common them of a lack of foresight which seems to permeate Abele’s entire budget and his management style to begin with. Perhaps it is the fact that he grew up without having to worry about money that limits his ability to look ahead and plan accordingly. Perhaps it is due to his following the agenda of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the plutocrat club which Abele belongs to, which calls for the systematic dismantling of Milwaukee County, opening the door for his friends to gain greater control and more money even as it further hurts the taxpayers and citizens of the county.
The county budget itself is available on the county’s website.
For your convenience, we have also made the County Board’s review of the budget available as well.
Then contact your county supervisor and tell them that they need to make up for Abele’s lack of foresight and his failure to respect the people he is supposed to represent.
Otherwise, we will be stuck with Abele’s smoke and mirrors budget, in which we will be buying the mirrors and left holding the smoke.
We had reported last week that the Milwaukee County Board had changed their venue for the annual county budget public hearing. At the time we lamented the decision to ostracize many of the county’s citizens and questioned the wisdom in the change. We feel that the new setting at the Marcus Center is not as conducive to a productive, interactive exchange.
The Board is not doing anything to dispel those concerns when they come out with a promotional piece like this:
Are they going to be there to listen to the people or are they their to dazzle us with their pageantry in order to distract us from the mess that they plan on making?