Friday, May 3, 2013

Abele Vetoes Reforming Milwaukee County Government



Over the past few months, the Milwaukee County Board has been listening to the citizens in a series of townhall meetings aimed at hearing what reforms, if any, the people wanted to see in county government.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris "Little Walker" Abele held no such meetings.  Instead, he went on squawk radio to tell people what they should want.

Despite derisive statements that the Board would never follow through with it, the Board proved them all liars - again - and crafted the reform measures the majority of the people wanted.

Starting to show their desperation, Abele and his minions stated that they would never pass it.  Abele also tried to throw up a distraction by leaking propaganda to his ghost writer that the Board was negotiating with the unions (even though that would be perfectly legal and appropriate to do.)

But don't you mind one minute that his fingerprints were all over the alleged contracts.

Despite these stunts and shenanigans, the Board stayed their course and passed the referendum with a veto-proof majority.  Furthermore, they forced Abele's hands by giving him the minimum amount of time to sign or veto the bill.

As I pointed out at the time, Abele's actions would be telling:

If Abele is really all about reforming the government, he will need to sign this resolution.  It gives him the pay and staffing cuts.  It gives him more power.  And it's much more comprehensive than the GMC bill. 
If Abele vetoes it or just doesn't sign it, it shows that he wasn't interested in reform and that this was nothing but a power grab all along so that he and his plutocratic pals at GMC can divvy up the county's assets for themselves.
Unsurprisingly, Abele chose to veto it.  Just as unsurprisingly, he gave some mealy-mouthed lame excuses for his veto.

Abele offered three specific complaints on the reform package:

  1. It required Board members to get training.
  2. It moved economic development to the auspices of the county comptroller.
  3. It didn't save enough money.
All three of these are crocks of [redacted].  

Abele said it was illegal to require elected officials to take training.  If his is even true, Abele has the power of line item vetoes, so he could've simply removed that clause himself.  The fact that he didn't do so, but rather vetoed the entire resolution shows that he wasn't serious about this.

Abele also complained that moving the economic development department to the comptroller could cost the county $34 million.  The truth is more likely that he wants to hold onto that power so he can sell valuable county assets, like some of the parks, to his plutocratic pals for a song.  That way they could maximize their profit taking by developing the land.  They probably already have designs drawn up for high rise apartments at Lake Park and South Shore.

And as with the training complaint, Abele could have simply done a line item veto.  And just like the training issue, the fact that Abele didn't shows he's not really serious either.

The complaint about the money is laughable on its face.  Abele's bill, which is running through the state legislature, wouldn't save money either.  It would shift that money for Abele to hire more people at exorbitant salaries, just like he's done with his current cast of cronies.

The truth of the matter is Abele vetoed this resolution for only two reasons:
  • It didn't shift enough power to him so that he could sell off county assets and finish busting the unions by privatizing all that he can, regardless of the cost to the taxpayers.
  • It also called for an audit of the county executive's office.  We already know that he's getting very defensive and trying to make it impossible for the public to know what is exactly going on in his office.  Who knows how many unethical and possibly illegal things are going on there?
While the fact that Abele rejected something that would actually reform Milwaukee County government is not surprising, what is shocking is the level of hypocrisy that he took in his statement:
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Thursday vetoed the reform plan approved by the County Board a week ago, calling parts of it illegal and other parts "impractical, unclear and misleading to the voters.
"Precisely because reforming the county governance structure is so important, it deserves a process that reflects its importance to our community," Abele said in his veto message.
"Exactly how seriously can anybody take this as reform?" Abele said in an interview. "What level of legal transgression do they think is acceptable?"
This is coming from a guy who had started working on the bill in exclusive meetings with Julia Taylor and the other plutocrats at the Greater Milwaukee Committee.  That's not exactly a reflection of what is important to our community.

Abele also misses the mark on trying to be moral on anything when he is the one manipulating things in the background, pushing the line on ethical and legal grounds.  

Furthermore, buying legislatures to ramrod this bill through without even holding one hearing in Milwaukee or consulting with any local officials (excluding the times that he and his staff went to lobby for the bill on the taxpayers' dime) is neither ethical or reflective of what the people want.

Which brings us to the real problem with Abele and his overreaching power grab. He forgets that Julia Taylor or anyone else at GMC is not his boss.  The people are.

And we won't be any better off until this bill and/or Abele are gone and long forgotten.

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