Sunday, April 7, 2013

Greater Milwaukee Committee's Epic Flail

A few years ago, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the group that wrote and is pushing the Usurpation Bill, teamed up with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to form a front group called "MY Milwaukee."

Taking a page from their friends at the Bradley Foundation, they have used this
front group in a thus far vain effort to justify their overreaching power grab in Milwaukee County.  In their fact-free endeavors, they end up citing their propagandists, who in turn cite MY Milwaukee, making it nothing more than an example of "We're right because we said we are."

Their latest endeavor to stop the tide from turning on them even further is a series of email blasts which they call "Myths & Facts."  Let me tell you, gentle reader, they are heavy on the myth and very light on the facts.

Their most recent blast included a number of myths.  Unfortunately for them, their "facts" are just as mythical.

Their first myth is "The Milwaukee County Board has always been full time."  They go on to correct this.  It is true that the Board had been part time at one time.  But it is also true that no one is using this as an argument to defend the Board, thus making it a straw man argument and a waste of time.

Their second myth is "County Supervisors do way too much work to be part time."   Even more silly is their justification for this argument:
Fact: County supervisors should be primarily focused on developing policy for the county. Unlike Common Council members, who provide wide-range of constituent services covering a wide range of everyday issues (e.g., garbage, snow plowing, roads, police services, etc.), supervisors generally take few constituent calls. This is particularly true in Milwaukee County, which is the only fully incorporated county in the state. As a result, every Milwaukee County resident also has a city or village government they can reach out to regarding these services.

A 2011 Journal Sentinel article also showed that six Supervisors missed at least a dozen board or committee meetings over the past three years. That amounts to an absentee rate of about 10% or more, depending on a supervisor's particular committee assignments. "We get trashed enough," said Supervisor Borkowski in the same article. "Committee assignments and the board meetings are the extreme least that we can do. The job is not really that complicated."

Additionally, on his blog, Supervisor Jason Haas described a "busy week" of three committee meetings and two community meetings as "Not too shabby."
Gee, that would be so damning if it were even slightly true. The real fact is that a supervisors job is not just in the office. A good supervisor is out in the community they represent, listening to and working with their constituents. Also, a good supervisor does not work from 9-5, but are out there attending meetings and events in the evenings and on the weekends.

For example, since they use Supervisor Jason Haas as a an example of having only five meetings in just one week, what they don't tell you is that he has been setting up "Friends of the Park" groups for almost every park in his district. He also holds regular listening sessions in community businesses and centers.

Perhaps the folks at GMC are perplexed because they only know Chris Abele, who rarely leaves his ivory tower to mingle among the commoners. Or perhaps they are using Joe Sanfelippo as an example, because he spent most of his time at this family's taxi company, counting all the money he voted to pay their company with taxpayer dollars. Sanfelippo's interaction with the community usually was nothing more than insulting women with mental health issues.

MY Milwaukee's third myth was "A part-time board will make it even tougher for constituents to reach someone to help get their problems solved." As in the previous example, their rationale is laughable:
By restoring a part-time board, supervisors will be more responsive to their community by:
  • Holding meetings during the evening, when constituents can actually participate without having to take time off of work;
  • Ensuring that supervisors are not isolated all day, every day, at the courthouse, surrounded by employees. Instead as citizen-legislators, they are members of the community, accessible and sensitive to the needs and interests of neighbors and colleagues; and
  • With a county board and staff no longer focused on micromanaging and otherwise trying to assume the administrative functions of the executive, they will be able to focus that time on constituent services.
I cannot believe that they had typed that with a straight face.

First off, the bill calls for a salary of $24,000 which is not a livable wage.  This means that the supervisors will have to find other work.  How can they be responsive when they are working their other jobs?  The quick answer, which we already knew due to former Supervisor Paul Cesarz, is they cannot.  In fact, things got so bad that Cesarz' successor had to do an open records request on his own office to get access to Cesarz' computer files.

As for their second bullet point, I just discussed how a supervisor's job is not a 9-5 office job, as the GMC is trying to argue that it is.  But considering the role models that they have to work with, it's not surprising.

The GMC's fourth and final myth is "We need a full-time board to monitor county services, like the already challenged mental health facility."  They go on to blame the Board for not making the changes recommended by the Public Policy Forum, which GMC paid to make the recommendation of throwing the people out of the mental health complex.

They ignore the fact that this opposed by the doctors and clinicians, many of whom Abele has fired for standing up for their patients.  They also ignore the fact that it was former County Supervisor Lynne De Bruin who was the one that blew the whistle on the horrid conditions, including frequent sexual assaults, that was happening at the complex.  And they most definitely don't want to go into the fact that the deplorable conditions stem directly from Scott Walker's agenda of austerity and his hand-picked director.

As an added bonus to their lunacy, the folks at GMC's MY Milwaukee added a little blurb at the bottom in which they cite cherry picked data in a failing effort to portray the County Supervisors as being overstaffed and overpaid.  One of the things they cite is a six year old study by the misnamed Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG).

This is telling for two reasons.

One, their numbers, like all of their other arguments, are patently false.  The real numbers show that the Board is actually underpaid:
"I'm not changing anything," state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) told the Milwaukee Rotary Club. By imposing part-time status on supervisors, he's trying to restore a balance that state legislators intended when they created the office of county executive in 1959, Sanfelippo said.

However, a review of past supervisor pay shows supervisor salaries from decades ago exceeded today's $50,679, when inflation is factored in.

Supervisors were paid $11,500 in 1970, which translates to $68,812 in today's dollars when accounting for inflation. The pay was up to $21,537 in 1980, the equivalent of $60,682 in today's dollars. The calculations were based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology.

While the County Board's pay has been considered full-time compensation, the post hasn't been formally designated a part-time or full-time job.

Milwaukee County supervisor compensation greatly exceeds that of any other county in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County supervisors' pay in 2007 - the same as now - ranked 14th of 18 similar-sized counties elsewhere in the United States in a report by the county auditor.
The gentle reader should also remember that the Milwaukee County Board is actually the same as every other county in the state: One dollar per person represented. If they wanted to keep it equitable to other counties, but only pay the supervisors $24,000, they would have to double the number of supervisors.

Secondly, it is very telling that GMC is stooping to the level that they are referencing CRG. CRG is a group of particularly unpleasant anti-government thugs that are used by groups like the Bradley Foundation. CRG's claims to fame including attacking public sector workers who are whistle blowers and illegally dispersing private information about Janesville teachers.

The fact that GMC is stretching the truth so much, scraping the bottom of the barrel in an effort to find allies and flailing like mad men in general is showing the depth of their desperation.  If their overreaching power grab had any merit, they wouldn't need to go to such extremes.

1 comment:

  1. Capper, great job.

    Would like to see the GMC put under half the scrutiny that County government is getting. With all their resources, what has the GMC accomplished in the last twenty-years?