Monday, November 19, 2012

A Simple Solution To Abele's Brian Taffora Dilemna

Among the handful of contentious issues that arose in this year's budget battle between Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the County Board was the one revolving around Brian Taffora.

Taffora was appointed last year to be Abele's Director of Economic Development. There was one snag though. He didn't live in Milwaukee County, as is required by county ordinances. So, again according to county ordinances, Taffora was given a six month waiver to move to Milwaukee County.

When he couldn't sell his house in Cedarburg, Abele gave him another six month waiver.

After Abele was reelected in the spring of 2012, he renominated Taffora to the same position. The board confirmed this nomination, but pointed out he needed to be living in Milwaukee County.

Two days after Taffora was confirmed, Abele "suddenly" found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to grant a four year extension to the waiver.

The Board was understandably upset. Not only did Abele obviously misrepresent his true intentions - again - but he flipped off all of the other county workers who follow the rules.

In response, the Board eliminated Taffora's position and created another one for which he could apply.

Abele and his apologists were apoplectic over the move, deeming it underhanded and petty, while forgetting Abele's own underhandedness and pettiness.

The really sad part is that all of this power struggling and pettiness is utterly unnecessary and could have easily been avoided. Furthermore, it can still be easily resolved.

All Abele has to do is take a page from the businesses and corporations he so adores.

When a big corporation wants to move one of their executives from one city to another, but said executive has problems selling their house, the company simply buys the house. This frees up the executive to move to where the corporation wants them and resume their work. The company can easily wait out the market until the house sells for what they paid for it, if not more. The cost of the house is nothing compared to the profits they take in and they can get the services out of their valued employee in a much more timely fashion.

Abele could do the same thing. Have the county buy Taffora's house so he can finally move to Milwaukee County, and then the county can sell it at its leisure. If I am not mistaken, this has been done before with other executives who wanted a specific person to hold a position for them. (And no, I'm not counting Kelly Rindfleisch and Scott Walker in this group).

But even though this might resolve the immediate issue, it does raise a couple, three questions that merit serious consideration.

One would be whether Taffora is actually as good an economic development guy as Abele says he is. The economic development director is supposed to sell Milwaukee County to companies to move and/or expand here. How can he do that if he can't even sell his own home? And just how hard was he trying to sell that house?

The other question is how effective of a leader is Abele if he can't think of a simple solution like this on his own, but would rather get bogged down in a power struggle and throw tantrums?


  1. Tafforia could just rent an apartment and live there while his house is for sale. Nothing says he has to sell his house in Cedarburg before moving and it is definitely understandable that he cannot buy one until it sells. Easy solution.

  2. Tafforia can't sell his house, Milwaukee County or anything else. They should look for an individual with business experience to take on this role.