In other words, he wanted to change Milwaukee County into a plutocracy.
When the Milwaukee County Board stopped some of his more maleficent proposals, he went into a rage. He and his friends at GMC got Representative Joe Sanfelippo to propose a bill they had drafted which would hamstring the County Board and put all the power into Abele's hands.
In reaction to Abele's immaturity and personal attack, the County Board did something that never occurred to Abele. They reached out and asked the citizens for their input on whether reform of the county government was needed and if so, what form it should take. Abele was so used to telling people what to think that it never dawned on him that they might have opinions of their own.
Or perhaps he did know that people have their opinions and just did not want to hear them.
The County Board has had their first two listening sessions now and the response has been overwhelmingly against Abele's power grab.
From the County Board comes this press release after the first hearing session:
More than 100 residents turned out for an OUR Milwaukee County session Tuesday night, with a resounding majority saying that they did not want to see any change at all to the County Board, and if there is to be change, that it be implemented locally, not on the state level.Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express was also at the hearing session. Her report on the meeting confirms the County Board's press release. She included some of the statements made by the citizens with a couple of astute observations:
“Last night’s turnout showed that people are really concerned and, in many cases, passionate about County government,” said County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitijevic. “The message was clear: The overwhelming majority of those at the session want to see improvements in county government, but they want it generated on the local level, not imposed at the state level.
“These OUR Milwaukee County sessions represent an inclusive process designed to get local input on County government reform, in contrast to the closed process on the legislative track in Madison. So far those in Madison pushing a bill to reform Milwaukee County government have yet to commit to public hearings in Milwaukee County.”
Haas said that the County Board is the branch of government closest to the people, and that the Board is committed to these public sessions to get residents’ input on improvements.
“I heard the residents loud and clear,” Haas said. “Many of them don’t want change. But they believe that they should be a part of creating any changes that take place. They don’t want Madison telling Milwaukee County how it should be governed. We on the board are committed to improvement, and I appreciate the input from the public on this issue.
“We encourage more citizen participation at the upcoming meetings”
Sanfelippo attended last night’s meeting at the Wilson Park Senior Center, as did a handful of local electeds.Even the corporate media, in the form of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had to admit that Abele's power grab was going over like a lead balloon:
A notable no-show was County Executive Chris Abele, who supports downsizing the board so that he can grab more power.
It’s unfortunate that Abele didn’t attend, because he would have heard that the (mostly) seniors in attendance overwhelmingly oppose downsizing the board. Sanfelippo just took notes as he sat in the back of the room, keeping his expression neutral.
During the first hour of the discussion, I counted 15 people opposing downsizing and only four speaking in favor of it (one of those folks, of course, was CRG leader Orville Seymer). A few others spoke on other matters, like the reforms being made at the county’s mental health hospital and Sheriff Clarke’s crazy talk.
Public testimony on draft legislation to greatly reduce salaries and the budget for the Milwaukee County Board has tilted strongly negative in the first two in a series of hearings sponsored by the board.By the way, the paper failed to report it, but Mr. Hall is also the leader of the very popular Wisconsin's Overpass Light Brigade.
Critics accused County Executive Chris Abele of an attempted power grab and suggested unnamed corporate interests were behind the measure, echoing complaints registered by supervisors after an early draft of a bill by state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) surfaced in January.
"It's bad to consolidate power in the county executive's office," said John Pokrandt, a Wauwatosa resident, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Assembly and one of 30 who spoke at a Wauwatosa town hall meeting Thursday night. Any reform of county government should be done locally, not through state legislation, he said.
"It's our county, it's our politics - we can sort it out," Pokrandt said.
Alan Nichols said if the bill passes, it would create "an all-powerful county executive" who "would have authority over everything in county government."
"The net effect of this is the checks and balances go out the door," Nichols said.
At Thursday's meeting, 18 of 20 speakers who directly addressed the Sanfelippo legislation said they opposed it and two spoke in favor. Registration cards from a similar session Tuesday at the Wilson Park Senior Center showed 12 against the bill and three in favor.
Lane Hall, also a Wauwatosa resident, said the Sanfelippo bill was aimed at dismantling the County Board. Hall described himself as someone who had worked hard to help elect Abele but had become disillusioned with him.
"I'm deeply, bitterly disappointed by his performance," Hall said. "I'll work just as hard to get him unelected."
But being the corporate media, they couldn't go without trying to give the would-be usurpers an excuse:
Sanfelippo's accusations of it being partisan is hilarious. He must have forgotten that he is a Teapublican and Abele is allegedly a Democrat, much like Sheriff David Clarke is one. He also fails to notice that opposition to their scheme is quite bipartisan.
"There is a lot of misunderstanding of what we are trying to accomplish here," Sanfelippo said.
But even as funny as Sanfelippo's cries of partisanship are, his claim that there is a lot of misunderstanding is downright hysterical.
The truth is that people understand fully what they want to do and that's why they are so dead set against it.
The thing is, Milwaukeeans, like most Wisconsinites, value our democracy and the right to having our voices heard. And when those things are threatened, we get mad.