Saturday, July 4, 2015

Republicans Give Abele Carte Blanche With Taxpayers' Money

Even without the full effect of Act 14, which consolidated an unprecedented amount of power in the hands of Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele, we have seen the problems that have arisen and the potential for a level of corruption which would leave Scott Walker drooling.

But that wasn't enough for the boy prince, who wanted even more power.  And in return for agreeing to be the MPS Privatization Czar and the for sacrificing Milwaukee County's poorest of the poor at the altar of corporate welfare, the state Republicans have agreed to reward him by increasing his power even more and taking away almost any resemblance of checks and balances in Milwaukee County.

From Lisa Kaiser at the Shepherd Express:
Now, you may wonder why anyone should care. The board is dysfunctional, right?

Well, let’s think about this for a second.

The executive branch crafts its proposals in secret. The executive is not required to hold public hearings on, say, requests for proposal. That happens in the legislative branch, where policies are debated in public.

What will the public ever know about land sales, "transfers," leases and contracts? This is merely inviting corruption.

Next, think about this sort of concentration of power in one person’s hands.

It’s not a good thing. I don’t care who the county executive is.

Already, Abele is planning to hand off the Marcus Center building to the state-run Wisconsin Center District. The county owns it, county taxpayers poured millions of dollars into it. For insurance purposes, the building is valued at $77 million, according to data provided to me by Supervisor Gerry Broderick.

Yet Abele would hand off this $77 million asset to the Wisconsin Center District and stick the county with the center's debt.

No wonder why the suburban Republicans love him.

This billionaire’s son is destroying the county in ways that Walker could only dream of.

Along with the unconscionable shredding of the state's open records laws in the same budget provision, Wisconsin isn't just open for business. It's open to corruption.
Sadly, that's not the worst of it.

After reading the section that deals with the Milwaukee County Emperor's section in the Republicans' omnibus amendment, (on pages 23 and 24), I saw this passage:
"...Authorize the county executive in a county with a population of 750,000 or more to have sole authority over the following administrative actions and specify that that the actions may take effect without any review or approval of the county board: (1) procurement, including requests for proposals or information, negotiation, approval, amendment, execution, administration, and payment; (2) contracting, including negotiation, requests for proposals or information, approval, amendment, execution, administration, and payment; (3) administrative review of appeals of the denial in whole or in part of a contract award, an initial permit, license, right, privilege, or authority, except an alcohol beverage license, for which a person applies through the county; and (4) actions taken under the administrative manual of operating procedures related to the authority and powers granted to a county executive under state law and under county ordinances, and specify that the county executive's action shall prevail over the county board's action to the extent that the county executive's action and the county board's action conflict.  ...Prohibit the county board from enacting an ordinance or adopting a resolution or policy that conflicts or interferes in form or function with the statutory authority of a county executive."
In English, this means that Abele can do whatever the hell he wants without worrying about whether the county board would approve it and that the county board cannot even pass an ordinance that he doesn't like by just claiming it's in conflict with his whims.

And it is more than just county assets. This is about everything in the county.

For example, last year, Abele wanted to hand over the county's transit system to an out of state, for profit company that had a very poor reputation and was in fiscal trouble themselves.  Fortunately, the system worked and two other companies that had also bid on the contract were able to appeal the decision and showed that Abele had rigged the bidding process to favor the first company.  The board found in favor of the other companies and nixed the backdoor deal Abele had made, saving taxpayers a lot of money.

Under these new provisions, Abele could give the contract to whomever he wanted, with no transparency in the bidding process - if there is even a bidding process (something that Abele tends to skip with alarming frequency).  And if other companies want to appeal the decision, Abele makes the decision whether or not he was being fair.  I think we all can guess how Abele would go on any such review.

Look for Abele to put everything up for sale and/or privatization before the ink from Scott Walker's signature is even dry.

And regardless of how bad the deal is or how corrupt the process was, there is not a damn thing that the county board - or the people - could do about it.  At least until spring when we have the chance to oust this petty tyrant from his ivory tower - presuming he doesn't pay off the state Republicans to outlaw elections in Milwaukee County.

Across the country, people are celebrating our country gaining independence from imperial rule.  In Milwaukee County, this day will mark the loss of our independence.


  1. I'm so confused about Milwaukee politics. Although I was born there and lived there until I was twenty-one, I can't remember when the county was sold-out to a capitalist financial manager. Which election was this?

    I am currently living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Forgive me for missing something.