Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What If Milwaukee County Had No Board Of Supervisors

When Scott Walker left Milwaukee County for Madison, he left it in dire straits.

  •  He left the county's pension system in disarray with $300 million in unfunded liability and another $400 million in pension obligation bonds.
  • The parks system had more than $200 million in untended repairs and deferred maintenance.
  • The transit system had been cut by more than 20%, separating more than 40,000 workers from jobs.
  • The mental health system was in deplorable condition.  The facility needed tens of millions of dollars in repairs.  Furthermore, services had been cut so deeply that it wasn't meeting the needs of the community, jeopardizing patients, staff and the community.
  • The Income Maintenance Program, which provides energy assistance, food stamps and Badger Care was so badly mismanaged that the state had to take it over to avoid a multimillion dollar class action lawsuit.
  • The county's infrastructure, including buildings like O'Donnell Park Garage and the Courthouse were literally falling apart.
And on top of that, there would be a mountain of legal bills as the county continues to contend with the multitude of lawsuits stemming from his illegal stunts, such as the excessive furlough days.

But as bad as things are, they could have and would have been much, much worse if not for the County Board, who fought him tooth and nail on almost everything. 

If Walker had his way without the Board's interference, the pension bonds would have been ridden in scandal.  Walker wanted to originally do them through Bear Stearns because of their broker, Nick Hurtgen, who was a Republican operative who is as sleazy as Walker.

And if it were not for the County Board, Milwaukee would have missed out on hundreds of millions of stimulus funds that have gone for things like repairing roads and building a residential center for homeless vets.

And needless to say, the parks, the transit system and everything else would be in much worse shape, if not gone entirely if not for the Board keeping Walker from his wanton destruction.

Current Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is no better.

In his first budget, Abele proposed cutting all $3 million dollars the county invests in the Emergency Medical System.  The Board restored half of it.  Amazingly, the leaders of the municipalities - which would have been very negatively impacted by the cut - got angry with the Board for not restoring the full cut, but not at Abele for making the cut in the first place.  In the second budget, when the Board increased the funding by another half a million, they get thanked by getting told they should be cut to minimum wage.

Likewise, there are people who, for reasons known only to themselves, are advocating for the evisceration of the county board because they didn't do enough to stop Walker and Abele from making it worse.

Talk about your Stockholm Syndrome.  There is no other explanation for siding with the person who would make things worse instead of the group of people that are trying to make it better, or at least to minimize the damage.

But considering that Milwaukee has had a county board for 126 years without a problem, until the state forced a county executive on us in 1960, I think we all know where we could make just one cut and save a lot of money and a lot of the things we need for a high quality of life.

Instead of a referendum to cut the board, we should be having one to cut the county executive out altogether.

1 comment:

  1. oh my! a lib who can think for themselves and not buy your propaganda about the dysfunctional mess thats the county board!
    I think I like this Dan guy.
    hes got the right idea.