Thursday, January 23, 2014

Abele's Courthouse Fire Becoming An Eternal Flame

Last July, due to Abele's deferred maintenance and austerity measures, the Milwaukee County Courthouse suffered a lot of damage when some outdated and poorly maintained electrical equipment caught on fire.

Since then, the costs of the clean up and repairs have run well over $10 million dollars and is expected to top $15 million before it's all said and done.

Even more worrisome, it appears that the insurance companies might have stopped paying for Abele's fire altogether and Abele is expecting the taxpayers to cover the cost of his ineptitude:
But the bills have been piling up since Nov. 1, the last time the fund made a payment on the courthouse fire claims.

"Now they've taken a pause," Tyler said. The state fund halted payments for the fire recovery work about three months ago, pending the outcome of an investigation into the cause of the electrical fire.

Tyler is seeking County Board approval to pull $4 million from a county contingency fund to cover work completed in 2013 but not yet paid for, he said.

He also wants board authority for spending another $3 million on repairs made this year through March. Tyler didn't specify what county account that money would come from.

Local contractors shouldn't have to wait any longer to get paid, Tyler told members of the County Board's Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.

He called his county funding request "a belt-and-suspenders strategy," in which the county money would be available to pay fire-related bills until the insurance money arrives.

Tyler said he was assured by the state insurance commissioner at a meeting last week that the county's fire costs would be covered.

But, he added, "I can't put a guarantee on it."
Gee, now I can see why Abele is so desperate to make sure his political appointees get paid so lavishly! That is some high-grade lying and question-dodging right there!

The fact that the insurance companies are putting their checkbooks away shouldn't surprise anyone.

As noted above, the fire was the result of not replacing or even properly maintaining outdated electrical equipment. On top of that, Abele had important evidence "accidentally" destroyed to try to cover up his failure.

Supervisor Michael Mayo put it quite succinctly on what's going on and what needs to be done to protect the taxpayers from Abele's incompetence and maleficence:
Mayo also questioned whether the County’s insurance companies have stopped paying for repairs because the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. He said media reports indicated key components of the electrical system disappeared after the fire, making it difficult to determine the cause.

“Are they trying to cover for the fact that these components are missing and the insurance companies turned off the money spigot?” he said. “They say they want to pay small vendors who have worked to repair fire damage, but what they are really doing is making sure the big boys get paid. In the past they’ve never shown concern for small business. But when they owe big contractors, they want to make sure they pay them.

“I question the need to make these fund transfers, and I hope the Board will demand more transparency from this administration before we approve them. I want to make sure taxpayers are not on the hook for the costs of this fire.”
Indeed, it's time for Abele to live up to his thus far empty boasts of being accountable by, y'know, actually being accountable.  Telling us what is really going on and taking responsibility for the consequences of his actions and inactions would be a good place to start.