Said referendum was a red herring for Act 14, the power grab by Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele. Abele is a plutocrat who bought his way to being county executive.with the agenda of making Milwaukee County into a playground for him and his fellow plutocrat and wealthy elite in the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC).
But his plans hit a wall during the crafting of the 2013 county budget when the County Board stood up for the people and told him no. Abele and his fellow plutocrats at the GMC had a massive temper tantrum and bought off a couple of Teapublican state legislators, Joe Sanfelippo and Dale Kooyenga, to ramrod through a bill which took away the checks and balances in county government by hamstringing the board and concentrating power in Abele's hands.
Abele and his minions tried to pass of the bill as giving a voice to the people, but if anyone believes that, well, the joke is on them.
The brunt of the damage has already been done when the board's staff had been slashed. Hey, who needs staff to research things and make sure that they are fiscally responsible or even legal?
But according to an article by Steve Schultze of the corporate media giant, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, even the vote on the supervisors' salaries is an empty gesture due to the other parts of Act 14:
Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic called the referendum a sham, because the budget cuts previously ordered by the state law will effectively force the supervisor pay cuts.We already have had a glimpse of what life will be like in Milwaukee County with power concentrated in Abele's hands and with a diminished board which will not be able to as effectively counter his malfeasance. Some of the things that have happened since Act 14 went into effect include, but in no way limited to:
The state law forced the board to reduce its budget for this year by $2.5 million, to $4.1 million. The law orders further cuts to the board's budget in 2016.
The referendum question also says supervisors would get no benefits beyond the part-time pay, which means they would lose health insurance, credit toward a county pension and other perks. That part of the referendum is also a sham because last year's Act 14 explicitly prohibited any such benefits to supervisors after the spring 2016 election, Dimitrijevic said.
"It is a sham and it's really continuing to do what it was always designed to do, which is consolidating power into the hands of the county executive," she said.
Dimitrijevic said she would take an active role in making that case but did not say whether she would work to persuade voters to vote no on the question.
Supervisor John Weishan Jr. said the intent of the referendum was to undercut Milwaukee by weakening representation on the County Board. When supervisors are paid a part-time salary, they won't be able to devote as much time and energy to the job, he said.
He called the referendum question "very convoluted and disingenuous. It's meant to be confusing because they don't want people to truly understand the effects of this," Weishan said.
- The 2014 county budget being more than $3.5 million out of balance. Furthermore, the budget that Abele proposed would have severely endangered public safety, privatized more services without accountability or cost savings and rewarded his inner circle with salaries up to $170,000 while slashing thousands from the take home pay of front line workers, exceeding even Scott Walker's system of cronyism and attacks on workers..
- The abandonment of Milwaukee's mentally ill without even the most basic safety nets in place which the board had installed.
- The burning of the Milwaukee County Courthouse which was caused by Abele's willful neglect and refusal to make repairs. To add to it, taxpayers will be on the hook for millions of dollars for the cost of the clean up and repairs, a fact only made known by the diligence of the board.
- Abele has actively fought every effort to allow workers in Milwaukee County to earn a living wage. Abele's malevolence to this cause has gone so far as to endanger all workers in the state who benefit from living wage laws.
- Abele has fought to rewrite geographic history in order to allow a crony to build a 44 story Big lighter on the lakefront. Similarly, he has also found money to help reroute whole freeway ramps. But yet he can't find the money to repair county buildings, pay staff or provide sufficient services.
- Abele tried to bust the unions in the county. Again, it was the board that stopped Abele from making Milwaukee a right to work county.
- Abele opposed restoring the Veterans War Memorial Center, calling a deal to fix up the building to be "bullshit." Abele went on to say that the War Memorial Center shouldn't be on the lake front but dumped on the VA grounds, even though he doesn't have the authority to dictate what happens on federal owned property.
- Abele tried to rig the bidding process so that the contract for the transit system would go to an out of state, for profit company with a shady record and was actually up for sale itself. When his bid rigging was exposed, Abele tried to extort the board into illegal activities to allow his bid rigging to go on.
Needless to say, it's not the County Board that's the problem. Without them, the county would have been in even more dire straits than it is now.
The article reported that Abele is still trying to claim that his power grab was neither personal or political. I'm not sure, but I think Abele is the only one that still believes this. But as I noted above, Abele hasn't been told no nearly enough in his life and so surrounds himself with yes men who wouldn't dare point out reality to him.
Finally, I would note that the reporter is calling the referendum all but a done deal and says that no group has come out in opposition to the power grab.
That is an utterly false statement.
Both AFSCME and the Milwaukee Labor Council have come out in opposition to the referendum. I believe that several other unions and grassroots groups have as well.
But what can one expect. The corporate media will protect its own, even if it means lying to the readers.
Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, which does look bleak due to the way the game has been rigged, one thing for sure.
April 1st - April's Fools Day - is the perfect day for Abele's phony referendum. Maybe the board can pass a resolution declaring the day to be Emperor Abele Day. At least the meaning of that day would be the same.