In politics, it can be hard to tell the difference between a true friend and a pretender. A true
friend is always willing to listen and will consider your point of view -- even if you end up disagreeing now and then. A pretender will nod along and then go out and actively undermine you.
We once thought we had a friend in Chris Abele. We endorsed him in his first run for County Executive. We didn’t expect that he would always agree with us or even agree with us most of the time. But AFSCME members believed that he would at least be decent enough to listen to us. We thought he would respect the real life experience that front line employees bring to the table.
Instead, we found that once he began consolidating power in his office, Abele had absolutely no interest in listening to front-line workers. Worse, he has made a point of actively undermining our workplace rights and undercutting the already modest paychecks we bring home to our families.
- Abele opposed our efforts to work with the county to extend our contracts, as we have done in other communities where leaders truly respect and value collective bargaining.
- He has twice attempted to strip away rights guaranteed to us by the county Status Quo ordinance, which preserves longstanding work rules and contractual rights not explicitly prohibited by Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting Act 10.
- He eagerly jumped on board a Republican initiative to neuter the County Board and concentrate even more power in his own office.
- He vetoed a county Living Wage Ordinance and then, when his veto was overridden, he ran to Madison to push unsuccessfully for legislation pre-empting Living Wage Ordinances.
Abele happily touts his close working relationship with a Governor who lusts for the destruction of public employee unions and whose policies blatantly favor those who, like Chris Abele, are already rich and powerful.
In short, though he has styled himself as a Democrat and spreads a token bit of his wealth around by writing checks to Democrats – his actions as County Executive are more closely aligned with the policies of his Tea Party predecessor in that office.
We write today because we want to make sure you are aware of this record. We believe his record speaks louder than his words, and it should speak louder than his political checkbook. If he can burn “friends” like us to fuel his own political ambitions, extreme caution is warranted by any who might find themselves getting drawn in by him and his blinding quest for unchecked power.
If you would like to hear more of the story or have any questions, feel free to give us a call.
Brian Stafford, President Boyd McCamish, Executive Director
AFSCME District Council 48 AFSCME District Council 48
Indeed, the point that Chris Abele can't be trusted, regardless of who you are, is one that I have repeatedly made.
When Chris Abele was buying the first election for county executive, he was endorsed by at least two county supervisors, Marina Dimitrijevic and John Weishan. During the campaign, he said that he looked forward to working with them and the board of supervisors. But when Abele was told "no" on some budgetary items, he immediately set about to do his power grab and make himself emperor.
And to prove he knows how to hold a grudge, he is trying to buy any elections that a supervisor might be running in - supporting the likes of Dan Adams, Tia Torhorst and Joe Sanfelippo to do so - all the while claiming it's nothing personal. Apparently, Abele found it to be more efficient to just buy elections than to try to frame people for crimes they didn't commit.
Abele has said that he is in support of Mary Burke in her gubernatorial campaign and has even given her some cash. However, Abele has also been dragging his feet on releasing the documents and emails for the original John Doe investigation. The release of those documents would be invaluable to the Burke campaign but Abele has instead willfully chosen to give cover to his friend and mentor, Scott Walker.
Likewise, Abele has stated that he supports Chris Moews' run for Milwaukee County Sheriff. Again, he has thrown in some money endorsed Moews. But with just six weeks to go before the primary, Abele decides to join the incumbent Sheriff David Clarke in their mutually favorite pastime, going after employees. Which do you think will have more impact on this race - Abele giving Moews some chump change or Abele standing with Clarke saying how they are protecting taxpayers' money just weeks before the election? (And don't get me going on the whole irony of Abele or Clarke saying that they are protecting taxpayers - that's another whole post in itself!)
As the gentle reader might have surmised, these are just a few of the examples that could be cited showing the duplicitous nature of Abele.
The thing that one can take away from these stories is that Abele does not stand with Labor, the Democrats or anyone else.
The only people that Abele stands with his himself and his fellow plutocrats. And he doesn't really care who he has to buy or step on in order to advance their agenda for the 1%.
If Abele comes out in favor of any particular candidate, be careful, especially if he is carrying a load of money. Because in that pile of cash, Abele is holding the knife with which he will stab you in the back.