It started when Aaron Rodriguez was fed some misinformation from Abele's camp, and accused the County Board of "secretly" meeting with AFSCME in labor negotiations. Rodriguez accused this meeting of being illegal based upon a blog post by Rick Esenberg, a lawyer who is sponsored by the Bradley Foundation, who claimed that via Act 10, AFSCME was decertified.
As a secondary blame, Rodriguez pointed to the recommendation by Abele's Corporation Counsel, who advised against bargaining with the union.
This was followed up the next day with another lengthy blogpost by Rodriguez, this time blaming the County Board for putting a "gag order" on Supervisor Deanna Alexander, who has to be the most put upon woman in America or simply a pitiful, whiny liar. The smart money would go on the latter.
Later in the week was an article by the corporate media itself with the news that State Senator Mike Ellis and Alberta Darling had their support hose in a bundle because of these vile accusations.
This line of attack still has me scratching my head. It's the political equivalent of accusing someone of obeying the speed limit and using their directional signals.
Using Rodriguez' own reporting, we find that his histrionic accusations of the bargaining to be illegal to be absolutely false (emphasis mine):
Judge Colas held all of the following provisions of Act 10 unconstitutional:In the same article, Rodriguez again contradicts himself by including the fact that Corporation Counsel said that there were risks associated with either choice on whether to open negotiations.
• the requirement for annual recertification elections by unions wishing to remain the certified bargaining representative for a bargaining unit,
• the prohibitions on negotiating fair share and voluntary dues deductions by payroll withholding,
• the limitation on negotiating anything other than increases in base wages, and
• the requirement for a referendum prior to negotiating wage increases greater than the CPI increase set forth in the statutory formula.
There is nothing to make one believe that Milwaukee County is somehow exempt from this. In fact, as part of a reason lawsuit lost by the county regarding pension multipliers, it was agreed by the county that even though it was the nurses union that started the suit, the ruling was applicable to all of the unions. This same precedent would indicate that Milwaukee County would indeed be subject to this ruling.
As for any meetings being held in double secretly and in the cone of silence, that is even more laughable.
In every Finance and Personnel Committee agenda, such as the one coming up, his this item:
The Committee may adjourn into closed session under the provisions ofAnd yes, contract negotiations fall into this description.
Wisconsin Statutes, Section 19.85(1)(e), (g) for the purpose of the Committee deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session; And for the purpose of the Committee receiving oral or written advice from legal counsel concerning strategy to be adopted with respect to pending or possible litigation with regard to the following matter(s). At the conclusion of the closed session, the
Committee may reconvene in open session to take whatever action(s) it may deem necessary.
It sure takes some brass for Abele to be angry at the Board for following county ordinances which he himself had enacted.
The next bit of foolishness, the one where Alexander is complaining about being under a "gag order," is equally inane.
It has always been the rule that supervisors are not supposed to talk about things discussed in a closed session. These rules were tightened down even further when former Supervisor Lynne De Bruin broke the rules to blow the whistle on the deplorable conditions in which Scott Walker had allowed the mental health complex fall. For her troubles, De Bruin was censured.
Ironically, the person who led the push for the censure and the more restrictive rules regarding closed door sessions was former Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo. If Alexander wants to whine about following the law, perhaps she should look at her old friend Joe who made it harder for her to do so.
And as for the state senators complaining about this, there are two things to consider.
One is the fact that no one would expect them to come clean and admit that their precious Act 10 was not only unconstitutional, but also has been the main factor in the state's continuing nosedive in job creation and economic activity.
Secondly, their outrage is rather selective, since they didn't say boo when Dane County and the City of Madison struck deals with their unions. Then again, the authors and sponsors of AB 85 is the Greater Milwaukee Committee, not the Greater Madison Committee. Apparently not enough money was thrown the legislators' way when Dane County was doing the same thing. It should also be noted that Dane County is doing much better in economic activity and job creation that Abele's Milwaukee County.
The only thing about this whole saga that makes any sense is why they picked Rodriguez. He is foolish enough to believe what they tell him without checking the facts and he is very anti-union, although he has no problems enjoying the benefits that the union has won for him.
The really hilarious thing about this whole line of attack is that Abele better hope and pray that he is wrong about whether the unions are decertified.
If the unions are indeed deemed to be decertified after reaching a contract agreement, the worst that could happen is that Abele would have to wait a year or two before really gouging the workers the way he wants to.
However, if the unions are deemed decertified, then the county could stand to lose as much as $60 million due to a lawsuit regarding the Rule of 75. And that is on top of the other lawsuits that have been filed against the county due to actions taken by Abele. These include a lawsuit about pension multipliers - which the county has already has lost and is now appealing against legal advice. Another lawsuit has to deal with the backdrop and is based on the same legal grounds.
And all this is on top of the fact that Abele has cost the taxpayers nearly one million dollars in interest by fighting the payouts - again against legal advice - for Scott Walker's illegal furlough days in 2010 and 2011.
In other words, if the County Board were allowed to negotiate a contract with the unions, it might indeed end up costing the taxpayers a couple million dollars in the worst case scenario. But if Abele gets his way, it could taxpayers exponentially more.
Chris Abele isn't fit to be the county executive, much less the emperor as he wants to be. We can't afford him now, how the heck will we be able to afford him if this bill is passed?