Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blogging Abele's Referendum Blues

Last week, I wrote about Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele expressing his opposition to three referendum questions that the Milwaukee County Board were considering.  The three referendum were about whether the state should raise the minimum wage, whether the state should accept additional federal funding to expand Badger Care and whether state law should be changed to allow Milwaukee County to have the more efficient county administrator type of government.

Pro-Abele blogger Zach Wisniewski took umbrage with my post:
After hearing news of Abele’s opposition to placing three more non-binding resolutions whose results can be easily predicted on the fall ballot, Chris Liebenthal of Cognitive Dissidence trotted out his predictable line of attack against Abele, an attack that goes something like this.

“Plutocrat, plutocrat, plutocrat….rich guy, rich guy, rich guy.”

Sure, Liebenthal cites some examples of how money could be found in the County’s budget to pay for the cost of placing the referendums on the November ballot, but he seems to ignore the fact that passage of the referendums by voters will change absolutely nothing in Milwaukee County. No policy or laws will change as a result of the passage of the referendums, and given that the outcomes of the referendums really isn’t in doubt, I have to question the point. It goes without saying that I support the policies behind the referendums that will be on the November ballot, but I simply don’t see why they’re necessary. The County Board of Supervisors could just as easily pass resolutions expressing their support for the policies at the heart of these referendums with the same effect as placing them on the ballot, while saving money in the process.
I have yet met anyone that thinks adding these three questions to the ballot, which is already being printed anyway, is really going to cost anywhere near the $120,000 Abele is mewling about. If it does cost that much, perhaps he should find a new company to print the ballots. (There is a print shop at the House of Corrections that could probably do it for cheaper and give inmates job training.)

Wisniewski must really besides himself since this wanton spending spree is happening statewide:
Dane County voters will get a chance in November to weigh in on raising the state minimum wage, an issue that has left researchers, politicians and activists arguing over the impact on the broader economy.

But it will be a largely symbolic gesture since a 2005 Wisconsin law prohibits local units of government from implementing a minimum wage different than the state.

Still, the County Board at its meeting Thursday is expected to overwhelmingly pass a resolution putting a $10.10 minimum wage on the November ballot, joining similar referenda in Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Kenosha counties.
All these spendthrifts, wanting democracy! The horror of it all!

But I have to wonder if that is how Wisniewski really feels or if he was asked to help Abele out.

Six years ago, Milwaukee County voters were given a non-binding referendum question about whether Milwaukee County should increase the sales tax by 1% in order to support the transit, parks and emergency medical systems.  Naturally, Scott Walker, who was county executive at the time and was gearing up for his gubernatorial run, was vehemently opposed to the question even being on the ballot, much less it actually happening.

Wisniewski had a couple of posts about this.  Let's see what Wisniewski said about that non-binding referendum:
So in vetoing a proposal for a referendum, Scott Walker’s basically thumbed his nose at the citizens of Milwaukee County, in essence sending the message that he knows what’s best for the people of Milwaukee County and that they can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves. Whether the referendum had passed or failed, at least the citizens of Milwaukee County would have had a say in the decision, and it’s shameful that Scott Walker took away their ability to choose for themselves. What’s really ironic is that for all their criticisms of how liberals favor a “nanny state” that interferes in the day to day lives of people, conservatives are no better, as Scott Walker has just shown.
And then there's this:
What I find really interesting about conservatives is the level of their hypocrisy. Many conservatives I’ve either interacted with or heard speak have struck similar tones about wanting to “give power back to the people” and about “letting people decide for themselves,” yet every time they’re given an opportunity to put their words into action, they refuse and blame some liberal bogeyman. If Scott Walker really supports voter referendums, then I challenge him to put his money where his mouth is and allow the sales tax referendum to make it to the ballot.
Hmm, hypocrisy indeed.  I wonder what happened to make Wisniewski go from being for referendums to being against them.

Also of note, in the comments section of his post, Wisniewski said he would be all for them if they were binding referendum.  However, counties obviously cannot have binding referendums telling the state what to do.

I still say the people have the right to be heard, especially when so many people in the world don't even get that much of a taste of democracy.  If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

1 comment:

  1. Dawn's Early LightJune 29, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Outstanding Capper - what's really getting their undies in a bundle is that voters will indeed show up to vote on this. That my friend is bad news for Walker's puppet Abele.