Saturday, June 1, 2013

Abele Is Paying New Parks Director $140,000 To Spin Off, Privatize Parks

On Thursday, Milwaukee County Executive Emperor Chris Walker Romney Abele  announced that he was hiring John Dargle to be the new Parks Director.

At the time, I noted something that was conspicuous by its absence - no one was talking about how much Dargle was getting paid.  I felt it important to know, since Abele is getting the county sued for paying women less for doing the same job as their male predecessors.

So I sent a Open Records Request to Abele's office asking for Dargle's salary.

Abele's passive aggressive spokesman, failed TV reporter Brendan Conway, sent back the following email on Friday:

In case the gentle reader has difficulty making it out, here it is again:

In response to your request, Mr. Dargle will be paid $140,000.

Brendan Conway
Communications Director
Office of County Executive Chris Abele
Phone:  414.278.5281
Cell: 414.394.7710
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Data on Demand, Sue Black, Dargle's predecessor, made $126,990 in 2011:

Click to embiggen
Dargle is getting paid more than $13,000 more than Black did doing the same job and having the same credentials.  The only difference is that Dargle is a man and Black is a woman.

Update: Per this MJS article, Abele gave Black another raise just before he fired her, putting her salary after many years of service at about the same level as Dargle's starting pay.

I don't know about you, gentle reader, but I am starting to see a real pattern here.

Then again, it might not be just gender involved with the fact that Abele is paying Dargle so much money.  It could be that Dargle comes from a Parks Authority, meaning that they had spun the parks off into a quasi-privatized agency already.  And spinning off the parks into such an entity has long been one of Abele's and GMC's many goals.

If your thinking that this might be no big deal, look at how well it worked out for New York City:
When New York began relying on public-private parks partnerships following the fiscal crisis of the seventies, the idea was that private philanthropic groups would pick up the slack. And they did. Groups like the Central Park Conservancy, the Prospect Park Alliance, and the Bryant Park Corporation rose to respond to that crisis. But the city’s newest parks, paid for and operated largely by nonpublic dollars, are girded tightly by their private patrons.

The High Line was invented as a park by Friends of the High Line, which raised $44 million in donations and helped select the design. Celebrity endorsements (Edward Norton, Diane Von Furstenberg), caps on visitor attendance, adjacent real-estate development, and a dense police presence compared to other parks have all contributed to the appearance of something less than fully public. Elsewhere, the Parks Department has met with a local interest group called Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park, which offered to hire its own security and maintenance forces for the newly renovated green. Parks turned them down but did “discuss the designs of the next phase of renovation.” And in order to build the $350 million Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a public agency, is using the private developers of luxury condos like One Brooklyn Bridge Park to pay for the maintenance of its public front yard (never mind what’ll happen if the condos don’t sell).

Expect more of the same. “What’s happening on a basic level is that the city does not feel that parks are its responsibility anymore,” says Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “But every community deserves to have healthy parks, not just ones that have wealthy benefactors.”


But more and more private control — you can purchase time in a “public” basketball court for a fashion show, as happened in May with designer Joseph Abboud in Greenwich Village, or pay to park a branded exhibition in Central Park, as Chanel did last fall — has become the norm. The question is how much more that means. “While privatization has brought some very good management techniques, like at Bryant Park, the nice thing about it so far is that we don’t have ‘Exxon Bryant Park,’ ” says Christian DiPalermo, the executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. Well, not yet.
So yes, it's very conceivable that we will be paying for the parks twice - once through our taxes and again as a user's fee.

That's how Abele defines efficiency.

*Do you suppose he calls Abele Charles or just Chuck? Oh, and this immaturity is what is passing for leadership in Abele's administration. Explains a lot, doesn't it?


  1. One has to wonder if Milwaukee will go the way of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Where by land was stolen from the City to make a plush Golf Course with fees that none of the residents of Benton Harbor could afford.

  2. That has always been the plan since Walker was in there, it has not changed.

    1. Walker would talk the talk, but knew it was unpopular, so never followed up on it. Abele's not as bright and is much greedier.