Sunday, April 7, 2013

Proof Positive That AB 85 WILL Reduce Representative Government

One of the repeated arguments from pro-Milwaukee County factions against AB 85, the Usurpation Bill which would make Milwaukee County into a plutocracy playground is that it would reduce, if not eliminate, our representative government.

The pro-usurpation faction haughtily and arrogantly dismisses this argument, saying that there would still be 18 supervisors.  The Greater Milwaukee Committee really jumped the proverbial shark when they even tried to argue that AB 85 would somehow increase the responsiveness of county supervisors.

The sad truth is we already know that if this bill were to pass, it would most definitely decrease the representation the voters deserve and expect from the supervisors.

The proof of this in in former Supervisor Paul Cesarz.

Cesarz got himself in a financial bind after one of his house-flipping deals went

sour.  In order to get himself out of the hole he was in, Cesarz went back to his former profession and got a job as a pharmacist at a local Walgreens.

The results were utterly predictable:
Paul Cesarz
Milwaukee County Supervisor Paul Cesarz is seldom seen these days at the courthouse.

No one answers his office phone. Messages and emails are ignored.

Colleagues and constituents - including political allies - have grown impatient, even openly angry, over Cesarz's disappearing act.

It's gotten so bad some jokingly refer to him as Casper, as in the friendly cartoon ghost.


There are other signs of neglect. Cesarz's County Board website has grown stale. His biography is outdated, and he's posted only one new item since his 2008 re-election, a joint news release from last year stating his support for reducing pension credit for supervisors. Under a section titled, "What's new," Cesarz's website has nothing. Most supervisors issue at least annual newsletters and often post online press releases.

"He angers me because there's zero effort on his part," said Supervisor Mark Borkowski, a fellow conservative whose district abuts Cesarz's in the county's southern suburbs. Borkowski said he's taken on some of Cesarz's constituent complaints and hears repeated comments from municipal officials on how tough it is to get Cesarz to respond to a call or email.


Now 55, Cesarz has gone back to full-time work as a pharmacist, a job he acknowledged had interfered with his attendance at County Board committee meetings. He did not reply to repeated attempts to reach him this week at the courthouse, his home or on his cellphone. Finally reached by phone at a Milwaukee Walgreens store, Cesarz disputed charges that he'd been unresponsive and said he can juggle the duties of a supervisor with those of his drugstore job.

"Absolutely," he said. "If somebody has a problem like that, it's unfortunate," he said of complaints he'd blown off numerous calls and messages. "I've made an effort to honor requests of people."

Cesarz said he'll soon hire someone as a legislative aide, a job that's been vacant since August. He acknowledged occasionally ignoring calls he felt were harassment. Cesarz said he most likely will seek re-election in April to a fourth term as supervisor.


Cesarz missed 16 committee meetings during the first three years after his 2008 re-election, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis done in May. That was the second highest number of absences among the 19 board members. Cesarz's attendance improved since then, though he missed two of 16 meetings over the summer.

He said he had missed some county meetings, particularly of the board's Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee, because they conflicted with his Walgreens work schedule. He now works nights on the days committees meet, Cesarz said.
As you can see, Cesarz' constituents were NOT being represented. They could not get in touch with Cesarz to discuss their concerns. They also were not having their voices heard in all of those Committee and Board hearings he missed because he was working his other job.

Furthermore, it started to spill over affecting the constituents in other districts because those supervisors now had to deal with his constituents as well as their own.

But that's not the end of it either.

Cesarz eventually chose not to run for reelection, belatedly realizing he didn't have a chance of winning.

When his successor, Steve Taylor, took over, he ran into another problem:
With a skimpy file of five constituent emails left by his predecessor and nothing else, newly elected Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve F. Taylor did what he could to find a way to reach out to residents of his Oak Creek, Franklin and Hales Corners district.

Taylor filed an open records request with the county for four years' worth of email traffic from his predecessor, former Supervisor Paul Cesarz.

Taylor says he'll use the trove of Cesarz emails to add to his list of constituents he sends his regular electronic newsletters.

"When I say we had to come in and start from scratch -- he left us nothing," says Taylor. Cesarz, who was elected as a reform candidate in 2002 and served for a decade, had developed a reputation for being hard to reach.
So now we see that Cesarz unavailability led to a delay in Taylor's ability to do his job correctly. On top of that, it took IT personnel time to get the records. And paying for that took money away from other services that could have been provided.

Now let's compare this to what is being proposed in AB 85.

The bill is proposing that the supervisors get paid $24,000 a year, which will force all but the independently wealthy ones to get other jobs. As exemplified by the Cesarz story, this WILL reduce their availability to their constituents, delaying any response the constituent might get, if they get one at all.

The bill also will forbid supervisors from having direct contact with department heads unless they first get permission from the county executive (whatever happened to separation of powers?) So now, the constituent takes days to get in touch with the supervisor to discuss a concern. Now the supervisor has to contact the county executive to get permission to address the issue, which will also take days. If and when permission is granted, only then will the supervisor be able to start working on the issue, and that is if the department head responds promptly.

Add to this that the bill also calls for supervisory terms be shortened from four years to two years. This means that as soon as one election is over, they have to start working on the next one. They will have to squeeze this in between their other job, attending meetings, and addressing constituents concerns. Exactly when are they supposed to analyze resolutions and contracts being rammed through by the county executive?

Not only will this bill sharply decrease a supervisor's ability to provide effective representation, it will open the door for a lot of corruption.  They won't have time to analyze any proposed resolutions or contracts to make sure they are on the up and up, but with them in constant campaign mode, they could be more easily influenced by the special interests that are pushing the resolutions and contracts Abele is trying to ram through.

The more that one looks at AB 85, the more vile it becomes.  It attacks democracy, representative government, governmental efficiency, governmental transparency and protections for the taxpayers.

There is no responsible person who could get behind this bill in good faith.

It should never have been started, and it most definitely should not be passed.  Ever.


  1. Kind of like how Robin Vos is already a "part-time State Representative", spending a significant amount of time on his popcorn business, his rental properties, and, other business concerns. It's difficult for his constituents to get hold of him and often he refuses to communicate with his constituents in a manner that is convenient for THEM. Yet, although Vos is really "part-time", we taxpayers give him a full-time salary AND he collects another estimated $14,000 a year just in per diems. Vos is a TAKER.

  2. This just goes to show that we do NOT need 18 supervisors, these people do not work 40 hours/week...cut the board and their salaries.

    1. Um, what? Go home, Anonymous, you're drunk.

  3. @anon- read the article and comprehend.

  4. My reading of the bill indicates that a supervisor can contact a dept head in the case of a direct constituent issue or inquiry. And a dept head can still be called to testify at board or committee meetings. Any other contact would need to go through the execs office.

  5. Clearly the best way for constituents to communicate with their elected officials is to give a large campaign contribution. There won't be any issues with how to get in contact with each other, and the supervisor will know exactly what the donor/voter wants. There won't be any need for wasteful constituent outreach or socialist like community forums. Polling won't mean much either.

    Part time or full time, a fat campaign fund communicates effective representation for those who matter.