Sunday, June 21, 2009

Putting The Brakes To Walker's Power Trip

Scott Walker has been on one heckuva power trip for the last several months, as he has been ramping up his campaign for governor. He has been repeatedly been overstepping his authority, abusing the power of his office, and just flat out lying to both the County Board and to the citizens of Milwaukee County.

He has tried to superimpose restrictions on any stimulus dollars that the County could be eligible for, even while he ignores those same restrictions himself. Fortunately, the County Board was able to take corrective actions and stopped him before he caused any further damage in that regard.

His abuses also include grossly and irresponsibly exaggerating any projected deficit that the County may or may not be facing and using that as an excuse to issue one edict after another, most, if not all, of which he doesn't have the authority to do.

The list of his infractions, great and small, goes on and on and on.

Fortunately for the citizens of Milwaukee County, there are some who still want to put Milwaukee County first, and are taking steps to try to put the brakes to Walker's power trip.

Just as a number of County Board Supervisors, including Marina Dimitrijevic, John Weishan and Chris Larson, as well as a large number of senior citizens were about to stage a press conference/rally to save Noyes and Pulaski pools from being closed, Walker backed down:

Conceding he'd overstepped his authority, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker on Thursday reversed course and ordered Noyes and Pulaski indoor swimming pools reopened.

The planned imposition of a $1 admission fee for county wading pools - another move Walker announced as a way to offset a $15 million budget deficit this year - was also quietly rescinded Thursday. Those pools will remain free.

And from the same article, as I had foretold, Weishan stated that he will be asking the Board to approve a lawsuit seeking clarifications of Walker's powers:

"I don't know anywhere in America where you can just institute a new fee without getting the legislative body involved," county Supervisor John Weishan Jr. said.

Weishan said he would ask the County Board to approve a lawsuit aimed at clarifying the limits of the county executive's power. Raising fees or imposing new ones should be beyond the scope of what the county's top official can do without County Board concurrence, Weishan said.

That is just the beginning, folks.

I have pointed out on numerous occasions that Walker's current "Executive's Ride" was nothing more than a tax payer-funded campaign trip. Finally realizing he might have a problem with this, Walker sent his people out to Air Tran with their hands extended, begging for money. Air Tran obliged them and agreed to sponsor Walker's campaign trip, even though it was only weeks since Walker approved of their gaining more gates space at Mitchell Field. Obviously, this is a big ethics no-no.

I'm not the only one to have noticed this either. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The new twist on the bike trip sparked a complaint from Walker critics to the county Election Commission on Friday. They called for an investigation on whether a $2,800 payment from AirTran Airways for the trip amounts to an illegal campaign contribution.

As an announced Republican candidate for governor, Walker gets a major campaign boost through his weeklong trip, said County Supervisor John Weishan Jr.

"We all know he's a candidate for governor; we all know (the trip) is a campaign event," Weishan said. Walker should drop the trip or else pay for it from campaign funds, Weishan said.


The trip violates state campaign and ethics laws, says the complaint, filed by Weishan and Supervisors Christopher Larson and Marina Dimitrijevic. They called for a prompt investigation and urged the Election Commission to seek a criminal probe from District Attorney John Chisholm.Election Commission Chairwoman Judith Mount said she needed to review the complaint before deciding what steps to take.
But that isn't all for this particular story either. The article also mentions that Walker supposedly ran this corporate-sponsored campaign trip past Ethics Board Chairman David Carr, who stated that he did not see a problem with it. What the article did NOT report is that Mr. Carr was appointed by Walker. Can you say "conflict of interest?"

I have also heard various Supervisors express their outrage at having Walker's department heads either telling them bald-faced lies and/or completely disregarding resolutions passed by the Board. Examples of these would be reports on departmental budgets or when former head of the Department of Health and Human Services Cory Hoze failed to completely fill the funded positions in the call center, which led to the state takeover of the entire Income Maintenance program.

Well, the Board is about to try to remedy that problem as well. In an emergency hearing of the Finance and Audit Committee Monday morning, one of the items on the agenda is this:
Resolution by Supervisor Mayo authorizing and directing the Milwaukee County Intergovernmental Relations staff to pursue changes in Wisconsin State Law to permit the County Board of Supervisors to removed appointed department heads upon a three-fifths vote of the County Board of Supervisors and to establish biennial confirmations of appointed department heads.
If it is passed by the committee on Monday, it will probably be able to be added to the agenda for Thursday's meeting of the entire Board.

It is good to see the Board taking these steps to try to restore the system of checks and balances to the county government.

Now if only they could pass a resolution to remind Walker that he was elected to be the County Executive and that he was not anointed King of Milwaukee County.

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