Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why The Other 71 Counties Should Pay Attention To Milwaukee County's Plight

As the gentle reader is fully aware, I have been writing extensively about the insane and overreaching power grab by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and his cohorts at the Greater Milwaukee Committee.  It is not unlike the hostile take over of Detroit that Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder

With this usurpation of power taking another step closer to becoming a horrid reality, there are two main reasons why the other 71 counties should be paying close attention to what is happening here in Milwaukee County.

One reason is that if the state goes through with usurping local control and our democracy, they will be able to do it to any other county or municipality.  Right now, the way the law is written, it's obviously meant to target only Milwaukee County, but it would only take a couple of word changes to make it applicable to every county and municipality in the state.

Now suppose that a frac mining company wants to open a pit mine in Anysmalltown, Wisconsin.  The elected officials of Anysmalltown listen to their constituents and oppose the mine.  Unable to gain ground through local leadership, the mining company then turns to the corporate-controlled Republicans, makes some generous campaign donations, and presto! The Republicans finally find that Anysmalltown is in a fiscal crisis - or that their common council is out of whack with their own distorted perception of reality, or whatever other excuse you want to make - and they take over that community.

Now the mine can move freely in and the people have no voice in the matter.

Oh, I know that Abele has tried to assure the other counties that this would not affect them.  But given how many times that Abele has flat out lied to people, why in the world would anyone want to start believing him now?

And speaking of Abele, that leads me to the second reason.

It's been noted before that Abele is positioning himself to be the next governor.
Now we have a new county executive who again opposes the will of county residents. It is very clear that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele does not want to raise any tax, no matter what the need, because he wants to be able to claim when he runs for higher office, as his friends say he will, that as county executive he never raised taxes. He is focused on appeasing the tea party crowd.

Abele argues that the sales tax is a regressive one since it takes a larger percentage of income of lower-income people. Generally, that is correct, but Wisconsin exempts many basic necessities from the sales tax—for example, food purchased in a grocery store—so Wisconsin’s sales tax is not regressive. Also, it is estimated that about a third of the sales tax would be paid by people who live outside of Milwaukee County but come into our county and utilize our resources.

Unfortunately, since Abele has had no education in or experience with taxation—or government in general—and the uniqueness of Wisconsin’s more progressive sales tax, he is again making poor decisions because, as usual, he refuses to listen to anyone and does not seem to be able to learn how government actually works.

In addition, Abele has now made it very clear to his friends that he is primarily focusing on positioning himself to run for governor and is making decisions as county executive that he thinks will further his gubernatorial aspirations even if they are at the expense of Milwaukee County residents.
Abele, of course, has denied he is considering it. Yeah, and Scott Walker had been denying for months that he's dreaming of being president.

But if Abele is not thinking of being governor, why is he suddenly making critiques of his good friend and hero Scott Walker?
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele didn't see things the same way.

He said the Jackson Hewitt study shows the state and Walker ought to rethink the decision to cap the state Medicaid program at 100% of the federal poverty level rather than the 133% - $15,282 for a single adult - envisioned by the federal law. Abele argued that would more greatly benefit taxpayers.

"There's no amount of taxes that's too small to avoid if we can avoid them without impacts on the state," Abele said of an expansion. "Everybody who's looking out for taxpayers and the people they serve should be looking at this."
Man, that sure sounds like someone gearing up for a higher position to me.

And did you notice that Abele's only concern was the money?  He didn't even express one iota of concern about all of the people who are dependent on this program and would be cut off from health care under Walkercare.

I know what the gentle reader is thinking - "So what if Abele runs for governor? He can't be any worse than Walker!"

Don't kid yourselves.

In two short years, Abele has tried to

  • Double the pay cuts to public sector workers than Walker is doing to state workers,
  • Give his political appointees and cronies a half million in taxpayer-funded bonuses,
  • Cut public safety services,
  • Close the mental health complex, forcing scores of chronically ill people into the community without sufficient safety nets,
  • Unilaterally sell off county property,
  • Help cronies violate residency rules, and
  • Used his Director of Administration to try to frame a former County Supervisor for bribery.
Could you even imagine what this guy would do with the unchecked powers of governor?

I hope that the other counties are paying attention so we don't make the same mistake again.


  1. you forgot - Abele refused to place referendum on ballot to challenge corporate personhood.

  2. You make an excellent point. Many MKE residents voted for Walker to get him the hell out of Dodge (MKE County). He has done as much damage to MKE as Gov as he did as County Exec.

    I will never gamble with my vote again.

  3. The power grab in MKE county is far more nefarious than the take over of Detroit. We can all see that for what it is and the Republican Governor makes no bones about the take over...in MKE County they are doing it under cover of democracy by supporting a referendum for cover...but we are letting you decide...well that don't cover half of the proposed dismantling of MKE County democracy.

  4. "they will be able to do it to any other county or municipality. "

    You do understand that they can do this already?

    Do you understand that counties are creatures of the state, in fact are basically just departments of state government? The State can tell every county exactly how to run its affairs in any way it so chooses.

    Do you understand that?

    1. Ah, so that explains why this one is specifically targeting Milwaukee County and none of the others...