Sunday, February 24, 2013

Milwaukee County's Romper Room

With his bid to grab all the power in Milwaukee County not gaining much traction, Chris Abele is trying to stir up controversy wherever he can.

For those unfamiliar with the dysfunctional government here in Milwaukee County, let me break it down for you.

Last year, Abele slashed the Sheriff's Office's budget and force him to lay off nearly 50 deputies.  Abele was so adamant about the deputies getting laid off, he sued the Sheriff to make sure it happened.  Ironically, due to massive retirements, most of the deputies were hired back, after suing the Sheriff's Office to get him to do the right thing.

Abele's attack on his budget caused the Sheriff to start sniping at Abele.  Meanwhile, he's never like the Board much either and regularly takes pot shots at them individually and as a whole, regardless of the topic.  He did this mostly to maintain his Tea Party credentials.

The Board has been doing what it's supposed to be doing in providing a balance to Abele's madness and trying to be the adults in the courthouse.  They had the audacity to tell Abele no on some of his spendthrift schemes.  They also had the nerve to call for an audit of Clarke's office, which revealed all sorts of problems, including Clarke using taxpayer money for a personal gym.

And for this, they're getting attacked on both sides from these two immature, egomaniacal, power-hungry fools.

But Bice's article on Abele's gossip mongering - and the fallout from it - perfectly illustrates the mess we're in here in Milwaukee County.

First we have Conway, Abele's spokesman, spreading the baseless rumor, which he and the other Abele minions have been spreading on Twitter and Facebook for days*:
An Abele staffer said Sunday that he can't remember the last time the sheriff sat on the sidelines on a major debate. Abele is strongly supporting the Sanfelippo plan.

"Considering the sheriff's track record of sharing his opinions with every reporter, talk show host and extremist with a microphone, I'm surprised he has not weighed in on this issue," said Brendan Conway, spokesman for Abele.

Conway, though, said he believes there's a reason for the reticence.

Late last year, the County Board overwhelmingly overrode Abele's plan to pay the Milwaukee Police Department to patrol the lakefront and other county parks. The move restored 27 deputy jobs that otherwise would have been eliminated from Clarke's staff.

The Abele aide suggested that Clarke and Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic - also no fan of Abele - have joined forces "to protect each other." Most supervisors, Conway noted, have zipped their lips over Clarke's use of tax dollars to pay for ads urging citizens to arm themselves and his decision to seek a graduate degree from a California program.

"It seems an unlikely coincidence, especially since both used to put out news releases regularly blasting each other," Conway said.
No proof. No examples. Just innuendo. Of course, that's par for the course for Abele's office. They're the ones who falsely accused former Supervisor Johnny Thomas of taking bribes.

If Abele was looking at getting a rise out of Clarke, he succeeded. Just not in the way he intended.

Clarke responded Sunday evening, on the official Sheriff's Office Facebook page*:
County Executive Abele reveals his true motives. Read the following email from Abele's office to MJS columnist Dan Bice about the bill on County Board size and pay. The email reveals a personal vendetta against the sheriff:

Per your questions about the sheriff.

Considering the Sheriff's track record of sharing his opinions with every reporter, talk show host and extremist with a microphone I'm surprised he has not weighed in on this issue. If the Sheriff wants to support more bureaucracy, unnecessary spending of taxpayer money and go against the will of the voters that's his choice. County Executive Abele supports this reform bill because it will save millions of dollars, make Milwaukee County government more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers.

As to the why he seems so quiet I can only speculate but it seems the Sheriff and Chairwoman Dimitrijevic have come to some agreement to protect each other. The Board gave Clarke $3.3 million more in his budget this year by killing the money saving City/County Parks Patrol Plan that had the support of Mayor Barrett, most alderman, MPD and the vast majority (if not all) of the mayors, village presidents and police chiefs across the county. Now Supervisors are noticeably quiet as Clarke spends taxpayer money on radio ads and spends months out of state. It seems an unlikely coincidence, especially since both used to put out press releases regularly blasting each other. (Examples available upon request but I'm sure you've seen them.)

As an aside, when you say the sheriff seems to really dislike the county executive I will point out that the sheriff seems to really dislike everyone? He has regularly and publicly criticized the mayor, the police chief, the aldermen, the supervisors, the DA, the Chief Judge (a favorite target), and even the JS Editorial board recently. Who DOES the sheriff like?
OK, first of all, it is rather inappropriate for Clarke to use an official county page for his personal rants. I'm not sure, but it might even be illegal, depending on whether one could define this as a political statement.

Secondly, I fail to see any "personal vendetta." All I see is Abele using Clarke as a means to get a dig at the County Board. Which, by the way, wouldn't be the first time. When Clarke came out with his asinine ad advocating that everyone should go out and get a gun, Abele and his crew tried to claim that the Board was too quiet about that. The problem with that is the fact that Supervisor John Weishan did speak out rather forcefully against that foolishness. Does Abele really need all eighteen supervisors to say the same thing before it sinks in his skull?

But I digress.

As for the Board's reaction, Bice's article quotes Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic:
For her part, Dimitrijevic on Sunday accused Conway of reaching a new low.

"This is a wild, irresponsible speculation," Dimitrijevic said. "The people of Milwaukee County deserve better, and I will not stoop to his level and respond."
Holy smokes! There's an adult is in the room!

So we have Abele and his crew sneaking around spreading lies and innuendo and stabbing people in the back.  Even the ones they called friends.  All because the Board stood up for the citizens and the taxpayers of the county by telling him no.  Not only does that show a severe lack of leadership, it shows an even greater lack of character on Abele's part.

We also have Sheriff David "Teahadist" Clarke, who is prone to temper tantrums at the drop of his cowboy hat.  He has a history of mismanagement of both staff and finances and has been tied to more than one scandal.  Heck, the Sheriff's spokeswoman is Fran McLaughlin of Walkergate fame.  Just like Abele, Clarke suffers a great deficiency in both leadership skills and personal character.

Yet, somehow, we're supposed to believe that the County Board - the only ones that are going out and listening to their constituents instead of telling them what to think - are the bad guys.  I have a very hard time doing that, since it's pretty obvious that the County Board - or at least the majority of them - are the only adults in this entire situation.

Oh, and by the way, since Abele likes to use Clarke as a weapon against the Board, I feel compelled to point out his hypocrisy.

It was the Board who pushed for the authority over the House of Corrections be transferred from Clarke to Abele because of the bad job Clarke was doing.  Abele vetoed this.  The Board overrode his veto.  Now, Abele is just sitting on his hands due to a lawsuit filed by Clarke.

Apparently, given his resistance to taking over the correctional facility, Abele likes the job that Clarke is doing, even with the excessive overtime and scandals.

But when Clarke loses the lawsuit, that will leave Abele flat-footed with no one to take over.  And guess who gets to pay for all of this folderol.  Here's a hint: It's not Abele or Clarke.

Y'know, it's growing increasingly obvious if we replace both Abele and Clarke, we will have resolved 85-90% of the county's problems.

And we wouldn't have to build a giant romper room for Abele and Clarke to have their tantrums in.

*I have screencaps of these just in case they decide to get smart and try to delete them.


  1. It's quite possible that both Abele and Dimitrijevic may have ambitions of running for a big statewide race in Wisconsin (either Governor in 2014 or U.S. Senate in 2016), as I don't think Conway would have tried to tie Dimitrijevic to Clarke unless Conway and/or Abele think that Dimitrijevic has higher political ambitions of her own.

  2. Clarke is calling Republicans in the Assembly and Senate on behalf of the Board.

    Also, have you found those press releases yet you mentioned yesterday "from Supervisors Lipscomb, Alexander, Dimitrijevic, Borkowski, Taylor, and Bowen." that you said were critical of Clarke?

    Thanks, I'm interested to see them.

    1. still waiting patiently with Dan on those press releases.if they even exist that is.

      ps thanks for using my tweets with Brendan! its pretty creepy that your Twitter stalking should get help for that unhealthy obsession of yours.

    2. If capper or the County Board wanted to hurt Brendan they would have issued press releases that included this one. "@BrendanConway
      @cianciola As long as Clay Matthews is playing you can consider him Miss Wisconsin. #LongLocks"

      Brendan's account proudly states that he's the County Exec's spokesman. Like it or not, anyone interested in Milwaukee County HAS TO follow his, pro-CHICAGO sports tweets. I'm sure Mark Attanasio's people love following an EMPLOYEE of the MILWAUKEE County Exec who so proudly on his Twitter account displays his loyalty to the CHICAGO White Sox. #unprofessional. Brendan's PAID to be an ambassador for MILWAUKEE County. If he wants to Tweet about his love for CHICAGO sports, he should do it under a handle that doesn't connect to his JOB working for the MILWAUKEE County Exec.

    3. Once again Dan Cody has selective memory. Having a conclusion and twisting the facts to fit his warped obsession.

  3. Dan, I know a lot of people don't, but you should refer to him as "Sheriff" Clarke. Criticism is fair, but you should be leading the way in showing respect for his "office."

    Does the County Exec have any polling data on how the "pie fight" is playing with "low information" voters?

    Why did the County Exec only get interested in "reform," AFTER the Board refused to waive the residency requirement for Brian Taffora?

    Then Brian lands at the County Exec's firm: "Taffora and Abele reunited at CSA Commercial"

    Looks to me like the County Exec was "socializing" Brian's salary onto the taxpayers.

  4. Dan, off topic, but you clearly have access to the County Exec's people. As you know, this is the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks' birth. Perhaps an effective and subtle way to hold Sheriff Clarke accountable is to invite the author of the new Rosa Parks biography: "The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
    A new scholarly biography examines the life Rosa Parks – the icon America embraced yet never really knew."

    It's currently #34 on the NYT's Best Seller list.

    Ms. Parks' life is all about vigorous, non-violent, civil disobedience played out over the importance of PUBLIC transit.

    Whether it's a more expensive in-person invitation, in cooperation with the City, Marquette and UWM (Maybe the JS wants to get involved?) or maybe it's just a video-conference?

  5. Romper Bomper Stomper Boo, tell me tell me tell me do....Magic Mirror tell me today did all my friends have fun at play?

    (it just needed to be said)

  6. For those Clarke haters, please refer back to the conditions and expenses at the County Correctional facility (the south one) prior to Clarke taking it over. It was deplorable.

    Additionally, Clarke has returned a budget surplus nearly every year he's been in office.

    And yes, I also realize that the deputy sheriff's union has sued him multiple times for anything and everything just to try and take him down. But yet it's Clarke who's been fighting to maintain his ranks and retain deputies.

    Clarke has seen this attempted power grab by Abele but yet others are blind to it (until it's too late).