Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Abele Preparing To Throw Transit Under The Bus

In a must read article which exemplifies all that is wrong with Act 14, Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express reports on the way Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele is looking at possibly allowing foreign profiteers run the county transit system.

Kaiser explains that Abele is taking RFPs (requests for proposals) on operating the transit system.  Abele is mad at the current operators because he fired the people that were to oversee contracts with the transit operators and this led to $9 million being squandered.

The problem is that not only does the County Board have no input whatsoever on how this multimillion dollar contract should look but they aren't allowed to even know what the other proposals might look like, that the one the Emperor's lackeys are offering is the best one or who are the people deciding which one is best:
Perhaps not surprisingly, Weishan said the supervisors didn’t have a representative on the review committee.

“I have no idea who’s on the review panel,” Weishan said.

Act 14 also changed the board’s oversight of contracts. Contracts over $300,000 such as this one now only require approval by the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee and the full board. The relevant committees with knowledge of the issues are bypassed.

“This is likely to be heard by the [finance committee], as contracts are heard by this committee, but the goal is to have it ready also for [the transit committee] in September if it is referred to that committee as well,” Conway wrote in his email.

Weishan was concerned that the contract wouldn’t go to the transit committee and supervisors wouldn’t be allowed to amend any agreements.

“I would think that they will just come in and say ‘This is our pick and vote yes or no’ and they will fight tooth and nail so you don’t get to see things side by side and compare them,” Weishan said.
Given the repeated incidents of corruption we have seen in Abele's administration - from his Director of Administration, Pat Farley, falsely accusing former Supervisor Johnny Thomas of bribery to his Corp Counsel, Kimberly Walker, offering to become his secret router so he could avoid open record requests - and the utter lack of transparency, there is absolutely no reason for anyone not to be suspicious of the process.

Fortunately, even though their authority and their ability to provide a system of checks and balances have all but been all but eliminated, the County Board is not without any resources, including the institutional knowledge of just how the County is supposed to work when we don't have an executive with a Napoleon Complex.

That knowledge includes understanding that the government is supposed to work for the corporations or the profiteers:
Weishan said he wouldn’t approve a for-profit transit operator since he doesn’t believe that profits can be wrung out of the cash-strapped system without sacrificing service or hiking fares. He’s concerned that only highly used routes would be kept while less popular routes would be cut to save money and turn a profit.

Fewer MCTS routes would jeopardize paratransit service, especially on the far north and far south sides of the county, he said. Federal law requires paratransit service to be offered within three-quarters of a mile of all bus stops.
Don't expect any of this to change Abele's mind. After all, he doesn't ride the bus. Neither do any of his plutocratic pals in the Greater Milwaukee Committee. And if there is one thing Abele has shown with any consistency is that he doesn't care how it affects the little people.

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