Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chris Abele: Democracy Is Too Expensive

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee County Board's Judiciary Committee met and approved to put three non-binding referendums on the November Ballot.  The three were whether the state should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, whether the state should accept federal funding to expand Badger Care and whether the state should change state statutes in order to allow the county to go from a county executive to county administrator style government.

These three referendum questions would be in addition to the Move to Amend referendum.  The Board had introduced this last year, but Abele vetoed it at such a late date that the Board was unable to override it in time to get it on the ballot.  When the board brought it up again, Abele was unable to manipulate the timing of his veto and the board easily overrode it.

Predictably, Abele has come out against all three of the referendum.  His irrational rational for his opposition can be summarized as "Democracy costs too much money":
With the $120,000 spent on the three non-binding referendums the county could serve 13,800 more home meals to seniors, process 4,500 more child support cases a year or expand the re-entry program for female inmates at the House of Corrections, he said.

While Abele said he supports a raise in the minimum wage, and expanding BadgerCare, he said that could be done with a resolution signed by the board and him.

"I am worried that we are spending much needed tax dollars on a question that we already know the outcome," he said. A resolution would "make as a compelling statement" without costing taxpayers, he said.
Abele's sudden concern about cost is laughable.

In a $1.3 billion budget, $120,000 is a misplaced decimal point.  But there are plenty of ways that Abele could find the money if he wanted to.

If he cut the salaries of his two top aides, his Chief of Staff and Director of Administration, to the level that Scott Walker pays his same staff, Abele could easily pay for two of the referendum. If one goes by his logic that the county board needed to be pared down to be like all the other counties, and did the same to his two aides' salaries, he could pay for all four referendums and have some left over.

Abele had no problems paying for the red herring referendum to cut the pay of supervisors, but I guess it's only OK when a plutocrat does it.

If he hired a budgeteer that didn't make $3.5 million dollar mistakes, he could pay for all those referendums and still have $3.38 million for services.

If Abele had made the necessary repairs to the courthouse's electrical system when it was brought to his attention, and not caused a massive fire that shut the courthouse down for weeks, he could have paid for all for referendum questions and still had $1.88 million to pay for all these services.

If Abele took a sheriff's deputy for his personal security, he could have used $300,000 out of his request for a private security firm to pay for the referendums and still had money left over for services.

If he didn't have top heavy departments with so many management personnel that no one is even sure what some of them do, he'd have enough money for the referendums and for the services he cited.

Abele could argue that a sales tax could be used to support county services, as the voters called for six years ago.  Instead, Abele would rather see that tax money go to support his fellow wealthy elite and build new arenas and convention center.

Abele could have used the money he spent lobbying to have the state legislature pass a law to redefine geographic history so he could sell off county assets to benefit his fellow wealthy elite and paid for hundreds of referendum questions and paid for tons of services to boot.

But Abele's hypocrisy doesn't end there.  As with all things Abele, there is more, there is always more.

Abele said that he supports the minimum wage hike.  He used the same argument when he tried to block the living wage law.  Heck, he even said that he would be glad to lobby the state for an increase in the minimum wage as opposed to the living wage.  But now that he has a chance to back up his own words, he refuses to.

The real reason Abele is so vehemently opposed is the last referendum - the one he so conveniently left out of his letter - which would allow voters to choose between a county executive and a county administrator.  He doesn't want to the people to have a voice in how their government is run, because he knows that they would reject his power-grabbing, money-grubbing plutocratic ways in a heartbeat.

It's the same reason he was so opposed to the Move to Amend referendum.  He is Citizens United personified - a person who thinks he should be in charge because he is rich and thus better than anyone else, especially mere commoners.  His arrogance and egomania are stunning in their enormity.

They're also proof that Abele can't see past the silver spoon that's been in his mouth since birth.

1 comment:

  1. Scott Walker has said that county executive was like being mayor of the county. The county executive position concentrates too much power in one person, and if that one person is owned by outside influences, then we really don't have a representative government.
    The Greater Milwaukee Committee brought up dissolving the county government, with Walker right on board. That did not happen, Chris Abele gets elected and he has concentrated more power to his position, usurping the power of the elected county board. That would be the next best thing to dissolving government for the GMC, since they would only have to control the executive to effectively control the government.
    The county administrator model would diffuse power, letting government function more as it was meant to, not at the behest of the all-powerful executive, who can often be conflicted with the state government.
    The administrator arrangement would provide for a more representative, democratic form of government, minimizing outside plutocratic influence.

    As a side note, we are still wanting Chris Abele to act on his pledge to release to the public all the John Doe 1 records, as soon as possible.