Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Joe Rice: Screw The Taxpayers!

I've already pointed out how County Board Supervisor Joe Rice had squandered tax payer money on sending out a flier filled with misinformation in an effort to keep them from getting property tax relief.

Now, Bruce Murphy, in his most recent column, highlights how Rice has broken campaign pledges to give back part of his salary. On top of that, he is setting himself up to partake of the pension benefits that has put the County in dire straits already. From the column:

When he first ran for office in 2004, Rice promised to donate $1,000 per month of his salary to a community cause. (Rice said he would earmark it for “parks work.”) He also promised to accept only half his salary. This meant he would have given $48,000 to charity and $101,360 in salary back to the county during his first term in office. In addition, he promised to turn down any pension or fringe benefits.

I’ve made numerous attempts to contact Rice to find out if he lived up to any of these promises, all to no avail. So I asked Harold Mester, spokesperson for the County Board, to check county records. Mester tells me Rice draws the same salary as every other supervisor.

Rice did apparently turn down health insurance, as no deductions were taken for this in 2004, but beginning in 2005 he began accepting health benefits. In 2007, he added dental care and since then has continued to get coverage for both dental and health care.

Rice did sign a waiver of the 0.5 percent pension sweetener for public officials, but has never signed a waiver for the rest of the pension, so he remains eligible for the fringe benefit as well.

I e-mailed this information to Supervisor Rice, asking if he had any corrections to make to this information, and once again was greeted with silence.

In more than 25 years of covering public officials, I don’t recall anyone who made more generous promises of a giveback to taxpayers and the community – or who failed so completely to inform the public of how he lived up to his pledges. In short, the situation seems quite newsworthy.

It is no wonder that he has lined all of his votes up with Walker. They have the same kind of cavalier attitude towards the people of Milwaukee County.

If you wish to contact Supervisor Rice, and tell him he wants to start keeping his promises, and to get his hands out of our wallets, you can find his contact information here.

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