spend $5 million on his campaign. That's a helluva lot of money for a job that only pays a little over $129,000.
So what would motivate someone to spend such an extravagant amount of money for a county executive position?
Abele, who is a multimillionaire - thanks to his father, John Abele - surely doesn't need the money.
It could be Abele's need for affirmation due to unresolved daddy issues:
That was exactly what Abele needed to do, too. Like the nonprofits he advised, he wanted to win the approval of a major philanthropist – in Abele’s case, his father. “Chris always said his father felt he was never successful at anything,” says friend Benson. “I think that explains Chris’ workaholic desire to do well.”It could be that Abele was looking to leverage his money. Look at the fact that he owns $2 million worth of condos right next to the future Bucks arena. That property is guaranteed to spike dramatically in value. But then again, as I pointed out above, Abele doesn't really need the money.
Abele’s inability to distinguish himself in his father’s eyes may have fueled his constant need for approval, which he sought in other places, including Milwaukee’s limelight. But he also found the perfect proving ground for another chance. “In Boston, he’d always be the son of John Abele,” says Theoharis Constantine Theoharis, Abele’s former Harvard instructor. “He had to strike out on his own, away from the inevitable comparisons to his father. And he had a certain excitement about what he could do in Milwaukee.”
Abele is also known for not following through on things when they prove to be difficult. For an example, just look at the fact that he didn't bother to complete his education.
So what is motivating Abele to drop so much money on this race? What is his agenda?
The answer is a combination of the above.
In 2010, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, of which Abele was on the board at the time, commissioned the Public Policy Forum to do a study on the best way to completely do away with Milwaukee County government or at least shrink it down enough to drown it in a bathtub.
To summarize their findings, it boiled down to four basic things:
- Spin off things like the transit and parks systems into their own entitites;
- Cut into the pension and healthcare costs;
- Inventory and consolidate county assets;
- Pass off county responsibilities to the state and/or municipalities.
Sheldon Lubar, another GMC member and a mentor of Abele's, had broadcasted this agenda years ago, when he said that they wanted to "blow up" county government:
Lubar offered mostly a broad-strokes recipe for reform: a gradual "devolution" of county government in which duties such as social services, the county jail and House of Correction and the courts are turned over to the state. Parks could revert to municipalities or a regional parks district, if voters want that, he said. Transit, airports and cultural institutions could be turned over to new regional authorities. All would be overseen by a fiscal oversight board.
If one looks at the damage done by Abele over the last five years, you can see that they have been working hard on this agenda:
- Abele got his Republican friends in the state legislature to spin off the mental health system into its own entity, answerable to no one but Abele himself;
- Abele has put such severe pay cuts on county workers, with the help of Scott Walker and Act 10, that Abele had actually exceeded what Walker was doing to state workers;
- Abele had, again with the help of his Republican allies in Madison, made it so he could unilaterally sell off county assets without any input or approval by the county board and without having to tell the public. He has already sold a number of county-owned property for pennies to the dollars, such as the land for the Couture or the Bucks Arena;
- Abele has repeatedly tried to foist the responsibilities for law enforcement, especially in the parks, to the local police, all the while dangerously cutting deputies, endangering public safety for all.
That does not include Abele undermining the county board, concentrating an unprecedented amount of power in his hands. But even that is not enough for Abele, who tried to get his Republican friends to take the county board out of even the budgeting process, making him for all practical purposes, the Fiscal Emergency Manager. We all have seen how well that worked out in Detroit and Flint, Michigan.
In summary, Abele's agenda is to con the people into reelecting him so he can continue working towards his, and GMC's, ultimate goal of a more perfect plutocracy.
Meanwhile, Chris Larson wants to restore democracy and give the people their voice back in how their government is run.