As one might imagine, Walker's opposition to the board was reinforced by the conservative media. The local newspaper often misrepresented the facts and would purposely not acknowledge statements from board members, especially the liberal ones. Squawk radio was even worse, blaming them for everything and anything, from taxes to a hangnail.
This eventually led to a call to abolish Milwaukee County government altogether. The call for this was led by Sheldon Lubar, a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), which is a group of plutocrats and power brokers who think that they know better than the people on how the people should live their lives.
To support their argument, GMC hired the Public Policy Forum to craft a "report" on why the county government should be dissolved and the best way to do it. They also joined forces with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to form a front group called My Milwaukee (which they subsequently changed to "Make It Your Milwaukee"). They used this group, as well as their own, to lobby for the changes they wanted. In a nutshell, they want to privatize what services they can, such as the airport, the zoo, the parks and the transit system. What they can't privatize, they want to dump on the municipalities or back on the state.
However, Walker was too political savvy to actually try to remove the Milwaukee County Board. He knew he needed a political foil to blame for all of his failures.
Current County Executive Chris Abele has picked up where Walker left off, but without the same political savviness. Abele's agenda is different from Walker's as well. Where Walker wanted to use Milwaukee County as a political stepping stone, Abele wants to follow through with the GMC agenda of eradicating or at least minimizing county government.
To meet that end, Abele has teamed up with a former county supervisor, newly elected State Representative Joe Sanfelippo (R-Teabagistan), who is drafting legislation to slash the salaries of his former colleagues from the current $50,000 to $15,000 and cut the board's operating budget of about $6.5 million to $1 million.
There is so much wrong with this whole stinking mess that it is intimidating in where to start. Not only is this unnecessary, but it is actually maleficent in its scope.
Their claims that the supervisors are overpaid is bunk. Across Wisconsin, county supervisors are paid about a dollar per person in their district. A supervisor in a rural county might only make $15,000 per year, but they only represent about 15,000 people. When they downsized the board about a decade ago, they increased each district to about 50,000 people, hence their salary.
Another one of their arguments is that Milwaukee is the only county in the state with a full time board. Yeah, so? Milwaukee is also the only county with a House of Correction and a mental health complex. It also has the most people, the largest zoo, the largest airport and a whole slew of other things that other counties don't have.
The real agenda behind this move is to handcuff the board and keep it from preventing Abele really giving the shaft to the citizens and the taxpayers. Right now, the board is able to analyze Abele's proposals and correct or reject the bad ones, of which there is many. If you think things are bad now, wait. Who knows what kind of garbage Abele will be slipping past the reduced board.
By cutting the supervisors' salaries, this forces any supervisor to treat it as a secondary job. Examples abound across the state of what happens when the supervisors or other elected officials are part-timers. People miss meetings, are unable to understand what they are voting for, and are unavailable for their constituents. In Milwaukee, we had Paul Cesarz has a shining example of that.
What could be even more pernicious to the county would be supervisors like Sanfelippo, who used his position to vote for increases in the amount of money the county would pay his cab company for providing rides for the elderly and disabled.
To add to this, by cutting the operating budget so deeply, it would eliminate not only the part time receptionists and aides, but also eliminate the people that analyze bills and do research for transit, the parks and the budget. It would also eliminate some of the transcriptionists that record meetings and votes. So much for transparency in government.
If this bill is allowed to pass and makes it past the voters, Abele will be able to crow about having done what even Walker couldn't do. The destruction of Milwaukee County and ensuring that Democrats will never hold a majority for another generation.
What a guy.