Friday, October 4, 2013

Clash of the Tyrants: The Pot-Kettle Wars of Milwaukee County

It is no secret that there is bad blood between Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.  The feud between these two had long ago passed being ridiculous.  If it weren't for the very real and very negative impact that feuding is costing the good people of Milwaukee County, it would almost be comical.

I have personally compared their strife to watching a game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Viking while the Packers have a bye.  You don't want either side to win but sure enjoy watching them pummel each other.  The sad part is that whoever wins or loses, the Packers will lose half a game in the process.

David Clarke and Chris Abele
Two demented peas in a rotted pod.
The most recent squabble between these two loons came about as a result of Abele's proposed 2014 county budget, in which he cuts the Clarke's budget by millions of dollars, lays off 69 personnel and removes a number of responsibilities from the Sheriff's Office.  At the same time, Abele has decided he wants his own troop of Imperial body guards for the price of $400,000.  Besides insulting the taxpayers with such an extravagant cost, Abele manages to insult Milwaukee's finest - the deputy sheriffs - by saying they aren't good enough to protect his Imperial derriere.

Clarke responded to this with his usual level of poise, tact and style - absolutely none:
The sheriff's cuts drew immediate fire from Clarke.

"Abele should be drug-tested," the sheriff said in a statement. "He has to be on heroin or hallucinating with that statement."

Clarke said he would "provide the level of safety that I believe Milwaukee County residents deserve. He'll have to sue me in court to get me to accept those cuts."

Abele and Clarke have engaged in a long-running, high-profile tiff over the sheriff's budgets, with Clarke providing the more incendiary rhetoric.

Clarke said Thursday that Abele "might go to bed at night dreaming about being a sheriff, but when he wakes up he's the same vindictive little man."
Unfortunately for Clarke, his snit fit came at the same time a prominent Republican state legislator opened up about having a daughter who was addicted to heroin. It also shows his relative ignorance, since heroin is not a hallucinogen. Then again, Clarke isn't able to identify a drunk driver when he encounters one either.

Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee went to the defense of Abele by attacking Clarke, not for his tactless words but accusing him of being a false conservative:
If you’re a numbers-crunching fiscal conservative like Abele, one obvious place to look for cuts is the Sheriff’s Department. In the decade prior to Abele’s election, the sheriff’s budget had risen 61 percent, far faster than any other county department. It was something of a sacred cow under former county exec Scott Walker, rising steadily while the parks budget stayed flat at 0 percent and county transit declined by 8 percent.

The ironic thing is that Clarke claims to be a conservative and he’s at odds with a fiscal conservative. Clarke’s final 2012 budget spent $4.3 million in overtime, increasing total expenditures to $77.7 million. Yet Clarke essentially declares that as a constitutional officer, he can spend whatever he wants. He’s doesn’t just reject (without explanation) Abele’s detailed run-down of how the department might be more efficiently run, but threatens that Abele will “have to sue me in court” to force Clarke to accept any budget cut. His making this claim, moreover, about a budget that barely cuts overall funding for the sheriff.

Call me a wonk, but I think the fact that Clarke claims the right to spend whatever he wants of the taxpayers money is of considerably more importance than whether he thinks Abele is a little man or has penis envy. This is not Reality TV, but a policy issue with large ramifications for taxpayers. Maybe it’s time the media reported it that way.
Ironically, using Murphy's own standard, he also shows that Abele is, in realty, no fiscal conservative either.

It was Abele and his fellow plutocrats at the Greater Milwaukee Committee who hired a silk stocking law firm to write the law which would eventually become Act 14 - the Usurpation Law.  Part of said law includes the clause this tidbit:
Subject to approval by the Milwaukee County Board of the Milwaukee County Executive’s department budget, hire and supervise the number of employees that the County Executive reasonably believes are necessary to carry out the duties of the County Executive’s office.
The part of approval by the Milwaukee County Board is irrelevant due to another part of the same law that allows Abele to enter into contracts less than $100,000 without the County Board's approval.  This means that even if the Board rejects one of Abele's nominated staff, he can just hire said person via a direct contract.  He's already done that on at least one occasion - with Kathy Eilers.

Eilers was denied confirmation by the County Board due to a number of failings, so Abele hired her under a contract in which she gets paid $75 per hour and still collects her pension and free health care.

This sort of arrangement could explain why the corrupt Kimberly Walker has been seen around the Corp Counsel office even though she had been fired by the County Board.

Now, I could spend our time explaining that Abele is a fake progressive, but I won't, since I've already shown that by showing the similarities between Abele and Scott Walker.  In fact, there are times where Abele outdoes Walker, such as in their wars against the workers.

Instead, this led to me think about how similar Abele and Clarke are.

We've already talked about how Clarke is willing to shoot his mouth off about Abele and the County Board.  But Abele is no slouch in name calling and issuing disparaging remarks about Clarke and the Board.

Besides name calling, another trait both men share is pettiness and tyranny towards their workers.  Clarke has assigned a deputy to do solo foot patrol in crime-ridden neighborhoods, viciously berating deputies in public and punishing deputies who made him look bad by doing what he can't - their job.

Abele simply fires the workers he doesn't like, especially if they question one of his decisions or tell him no.  Abele has also been known to use his personal wealth in rewarding and punishing people as he sees fit.

They have other similarities such as being extremely vain and egotistical (although neither are deserving of the high esteem they hold themselves in), both are particularly inept and incompetent, the love of priviatization and both are using the county as their own personal playground.  Needless to say, they are also masters at the art of throwing temper tantrums.

Given all their similarities in attitude, foibles and follies, I don't think that their ongoing feud is a result of bipartisanship - neither one of them could be seriously considered a progressive or a Democrat.   Their feud is more likely stemming from the fact that they art too much alike.

The good news is that we can get rid of Clarke next year when elect Chris Moews to office.

The bad news is we have to put up with Abele for two more years after that - if he doesn't succeed in destroying the county before then.

1 comment:

  1. Abele wants his own Praetorian Guard?

    And it's only going to cost $400K?

    Nobody tell him about Muammar Gadhafi's all-female team of personal bodyguards. All 40 of them could have been models, or at least backup singer/dancers for the Pussycat Dolls.