Monday, December 3, 2012

Abele's "Stick It To Them" Moment

When the powers that be decided that the old County Stadium had to be replaced, there was a lot of argument about who would pay for it.  Eventually, it was decided that they would impose a sales tax on Milwaukee County and the surrounding counties to pay for the thing. The sales tax still has not ended and it appears that it never will.

At the time, then Governor Tommy Thompson, who was rooting for the sales tax, coined his infamous line, "Stick it to 'em!"

Now we have Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele saying basically the same thing.

The local would-be overlords at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce  (MMAC) (WMC's little brother), who are allies of Chris Abele and his Greater Milwaukee Committee,  have decided that the Milwaukee Bucks need a new arena to play in.  Not that there's really a need.  They just want to rake the taxpayers over some more so they can increase their own wealth.

At the time, I thought that MMAC had screwed themselves over by backing Scott Walker in the general election and again during the recall.  Surely, Walker wouldn't back this idea.

But now that we see Walker and his right wing minions embracing of creating taxways tollways in Fitzwalkerstan, I'm not so sure anymore.

MMAC is getting serious about this idea as well, getting ready to make the big push for it.  They even glommed onto the way that they recently built a new arena in Oklahoma City, although that might not be the best example for them to use.

On Monday, Abele was interviewed by John Mercure, afternoon propagandist at WTMJ-AM.  Mercure asked Abele about the proposed 1% sales tax for a new arena.

Abele, an admitted owner of season tickets for the Bucks, gushed over the idea.  Throwing all his anti-tax statements out the window, he couldn't emphasize enough how much he liked this idea.  He did not say whether he supported it because it would make his friends even richer or if it was that he wanted to have a new arena to sit in for his season tickets.

The really sickening part about this is that even while Abele was on the air to promote the sales tax for the new millionaire's playground, people were gathering to discuss the impending collapse of the Milwaukee County Transit System.  If a dedicated funding source is not found and implemented in the next year, the transit system could face up to a 30% cut in service and/or a huge fare increase.

This could separate tens of thousands of transit-reliant workers from jobs.  And that does not go to mention the elderly and disabled riders who would have their independence severely curtailed.

Needless to say, such a severe cut to the transit system would have a devastating affect on our regional economy as people are no longer able to get to work or get to the stores.

Oh, rest assured that Abele has a plan to save transit.  His plan is to ask Walker - the guy who had already cut the transit system by 20% and raised fares through the roof, and who is doing even more damage as governor - to give Milwaukee County a few more dollars to keep the thing afloat.

Talk about clueless.

If Abele is so keen on having a new arena, he should but some of his personal tens of millions of dollars into the kitty.  He then can have his multimillionaire friends at GMC and MMAC also pony up some of their lucre.

And then let the sales tax go to something that is both useful and sorely needed, like transit and improving our local economy.

It would be really nice if we ever had a county executive that wanted to stick up for the people instead of the usual sticking it to them.


  1. I did support the tax for Miller Park. Baseball has some degree of affordability as a family activity. Pro Basketball seems to be more of a rich person's sport. (Personally, I'd much rather watch college basketball. It's more exciting.)

    There is a difference between need and want. County Stadium was crumbling from years of deferred maintenance. That fell into the need category. The Bradley Center is not that old! A new basketball venue is a want....not a need!

  2. I would argue that neither the stadium or the arena fell into the need category when there were and still are so many more important matters at hand.

    In fact, I have never set foot in Miller Park and never will because of that.

  3. Capper, there IS a lot of need in the community. But if we are going to compare apples to apples re athletic venue, I'd respectfully offer that, I could understand the Miller Park tax. I cannot understand nor support building a new Bradley Center or the tax to finance it. If that means the Bucks leave, so be it.

    I like the way the Packers operate. If they need improvements, they essentially take donations and offer a piece of paper in return! It's the fan's prerogative to participate.....or not!

    1. I repeat, no sports arena, field or stadium should be sponsored by the public. Let the millionaire players and owners pay for it.

  4. Chris, this is way over the top, even for you. And lately that's saying something.

    For the benefit of Chris's readers, here are the actual comments in question. It's 5 minutes long:

    The County Exec says things like “It’s absolutely something we should contemplate" and “I applaud the fact that people are willing to look.”

    Meanwhile, he's also called many times for a dedicated funding source for transit, his not-actual-support for an arena tax notwithstanding. In any event, whether saving transit through more state support or through a new revenue source, The Governor will have to sign the legislation either way. So, anybody advocating for either of these has a plan that you've identified as "clueless." Do you have a better plan?

    1. Ohai! You must be new here. You should know I'm always prepared.

      Here's what Abele said about the sales tax that would actually help the people, the taxpayers and the economy:

      While Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele agrees transit is in jeopardy, he says he’s not prepared to back a sales tax option.

      “The sales tax is about the most regressive tax you can have, it hits most disproportionately, the people who least can afford to be hit on it,” Abele says.

      Abele says another drawback to a sales tax for transit, is that it would essentially let the state off the hook -- for money it’s supposed to be providing to the county for transit.

      “Any time we raise local revenue for a service that used to be provided by shared revenue at the state, we’re giving the state another reason to sort of back out funding and push that funding locally, and we’re already paying taxes in to the state out of which we are supposed to be getting the transit funding,” Abele says.

      Don't worry. Another post will be coming. Thanks for the link. It will be useful.

    2. Got it. You don't have a better plan. That's all you had to say.

  5. I can't decide which is stranger: your continuing comparisons of Abele to Walker, or Marina's sudden crush on Sheriff Clarke.

    Even though he inherited Walker's financial disaster, Abele has kept bus fares flat, not cut rates, got all those new more efficient buses, and has consistently said that we need to find a longer term solution. So you're just mad that he hadn't magically solved everything yet there? He also gave more to the mental health complex, child support services, increased the parks budget, etc. That's all the stuff that Walker never did. He got domestic partnership benefits through, has been calling for marriage equality regularly, works well with the mayor, mostly good stuff. Not exactly Walker.

    Sheriff Clarke, meanwhile, has been publicly insulting every wussy elected official (Chisolm, Barrett, Kremers, the supervisors, etc) who stupidly thinks that we shouldn't send everyone who ever got a misdemeanor to Guantanamo. He takes every shot he can to use county money to sue the county, punishes good people in his own department if they don't salute him the right way, and seems to think he's a cowboy. But now Marina loves him, enough to ignore the mayor and the common council pleading with her to support the city/county/mpd deal. And Charlie Sykes loves him, too. Who's right, Capper? Charlie or Marina?

    1. Holy Gish Gallops, Batman! That's as full of lies as a Mitt Romney statement!

      Let's see here...

      Yes, Abele inherited a mess, like Walker did. And also like Walker, he's made it worse!

      He's cut service for the buses and the parks (even Dan Cody, head of the Parks People, says that). He's tried to eliminate the EMS. He's trying to dismantle the mental health complex, closing at least two wards. Funny thing is, there's no where for these people to go so they either never leave or end up in acute care where the county doesn't even get reimbursed for it!

      He's cut the workers for even more than Act 10 called for, and now that Act 10 has been overturned, he's refused to meet with the unions. He's also refused to pay the unions the money the county owes to them. More interest on the taxpayers dime being wasted. Just like Walker.

      And your statements about Marina is laughable. She took the House of Correction away from Clarke because he is such an incompetent fool.

      As for the park patrols, all that would have done is unfairly put the county's expenses onto the taxpayers of the city of Milwaukee. In other words, Abele is trying to abdicate the county's responsibility.

      And when the Board corrects Abele's mistakes, Abele throws a hissy fit like the spoiled rich brat he is, threatening to cut their jobs, setting the county up for another massive class action lawsuit.