Monday, December 16, 2013

The County Emperor's New Clothes

On Friday, I pointed out that Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele - the Mitt Romney of Milwaukee County - was spitting mad because he was once again thwarted from taking away workers' rights.

Abele wanted to gut County Ordinance 17, which preserved the workers' rights that would normally be found in a contract.  Abele wanted to do this so he could bust AFSCME and subsequently, bust all the other unions at his leisure. Instead, the County Board proposed rolling the other unions into Ordinance 17 so they would enjoy the same protections.

In fact, Abele was so angry that he started making wild accusations and threats of recalls:
Abele accused supervisors of flouting the law in defiance of their oaths of office over two issues. One was whether the board should be able to confirm 11 high-level managers appointed by Abele. The second was over a purported delay in adopting uniform work rules for county workers, as called for by the 2011 state law that eliminated most public employee collective bargaining.

Abele even suggested the board's failure to listen to the advice of county lawyers on those issues could provoke a recall effort against supervisors.

"When your legal adviser tells you this isn't legal and you do that anyway, the word that usually comes to mind is recall," Abele said.


Abele also said the board's failure to adopt a set of employee work rules his personnel director referred to the board nearly two months ago constituted disregard for Act 10, the 2011 law spearheaded by Gov. Scott Walker.

The board's finance committee backed an alternative resolution that called for maintaining the rules that were in place in union contracts. The panel also endorsed five new contracts that were limited to 1.5% pay raises — something nonunion employees got in May.
But later on Friday, new information came out, which Abele really does not want the public to know.

HIS legal adviser told him that what the board did was perfectly legal:

Click on image to embiggen
In case the reader is having difficulty reading it, here is a copy and paste version:
From: Paul Bargren/Corp_Counsel/Milwaukee County
To:, Marina Dimitrijevic/CtyBoard/Milwaukee County@milwco, Kelly Bablitch/CtyBoard/Milwaukee County@MILWCO, Bill Zaferos/CtyBoard/Milwaukee County@MILWCO, Chris Abele/Co Exec/Milwaukee County@MILWCO, Amber Moreen/Co Exec/Milwaukee County@MILWCO, John Zapfel/Co Exec/Milwaukee County@MILWCO, Brendan Conway/Co Exec/Milwaukee County@MILWCO
Cc: Mark Grady/Corp_cnsl/Milwaukee County@milwco, Colleen Foley/Corp_cnsl/Milwaukee County@MILWCO
Date: 12/13/2013 11:48 AM
Subject: "Status Quo" Ordinances

In response to some inquiries, let me state the following in case there is any confusion:
Lawyers from the Office of the Corporation Counsel, including me, worked closely with supervisors to draft the "status quo" ordinances they had requested. Those were the ordinances approved by the Finance Committee yesterday. Those ordinances were intended to be -- and are, in my opinion -- consistent with current state law.
--Paul Bargren

In case you missed it, Abele and his top staff were included in this email from Abele's Corp Counsel, Paul Bargren.  And since it came through before noon, there was plenty of time for Abele to correct himself, unless he was incapacitated in some form. such as being drunk, which is a complete possibility.  I know for a fact that he wasn't at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council's holiday event.

Since there was no correction forthcoming, one must conclude that Abele purposefully meant to mislead the public in order to spur the people into recalling the supervisors.

In other words, Abele tried to take away workers' rights and bust the unions because the unions, along with the County Board, has been the only thing to keep Abele from turning Milwaukee County into a plutocrat's playground.  When the County Board thwarted his plan to bust the unions and instead made things better for everyone, Abele became so enraged that he told outright lies in order to get people to recall the board.  That way, they would be out of his way and he could proceed in reaping his political and personal gain.

Now, what was Abele saying about not listening to legal counsel, flaunting the law and recalls?  He just might be onto something.

Except that it should be him that is nervous.  By his own statements and standards, he's the one that should be recalled.  And we all know that we can't count on him to do the right thing on his own.

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