Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Boss Abele's Secretly Selling Off Milwaukee County Parks

Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express has a must read article in this week's issue regarding some of the ramifications of Boss Abele's unprecedented power grab - namely, his pawning off of county assets in sweetheart deals.

She points out the questionable way Boss Abele decided to try to practically give away the Transit Center and O'Donnell Park and his backdoor attempt at privatizing the zoo's food service to a Denver-based company.

But the real eye catcher is what he is trying to do with Kulwicki Park:
[Milwaukee County Supervisor Gerry] Broderick said he was troubled by the administration’s attempt to lease parkland without public discussion or even notifying him, the chair of the parks committee.

“This is Abele’s approach,” Broderick said. “It lends credence to the argument that Abele’s intent here is to turn the parks back to municipalities where the municipalities would choose to accept them back and in doing so undo the emerald necklace that is something that Milwaukee County is so proud of.”

Broderick said the county would have had more resources to keep up its parks if the Legislature—and the conservative Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC)—hadn’t blocked the implementation of a half-cent sales tax for parks and cultural assets as approved by voters in a 2008 referendum.  Ironically, an MMAC-led effort to push a similar referendum, including funding for a new sports arena, is now underway.


Broderick said he wanted to bring the matter up for debate in a parks committee meeting as soon as he could. And he warned that while the lease of Kulwicki Park may seem benign on the surface, it could lead to leasing highly sought-after parkland to interested developers with little to no public involvement.

“What’s there to prevent the administration from leasing Lake Park or Grant Park, or encircling the golf courses with high-end condos?” Broderick said. “To say it’s troubling I think understates the facts. This will lead to a two-tier parks system, with have-parks and have-not parks.”
Once again, Boss Abele has proven why people refer to him as Walker Lite. He has all the sliminess and underhandedness of Scott Walker, but with none of the political savvy.

I also have to point out once again that as long as the Democrats keep embracing and honoring people like Abele instead of holding them accountable, they will keep losing elections.


  1. Kulwicki Park is named after Alan Kulwicki, who won the 1992 championship in NASCAR's top division as both a driver and a car owner.

    Chris Abele is effectively giving the middle finger to Alan Kulwicki's grave by trying to give a park dedicated in his honor to his developer cronies.

  2. We attended a family picnic at the Kulwicki Park and pavilion earlier this year. It's a wonderful facility and memorial to Alan Kulwicki, and I encourage others to check it out. It would be a shame to lose it to moneyed, private interests.

  3. Citizens should designate & position a fulltime OCCUPY Park Attendant/Community Representative/Host in all Milwaukee Parks. Palli

  4. Public parks, open to all people, were a crucial way that Americans made the ideals of democracy a reality in practice.

    Schemes to sell off public parks are a major step in shifting from democracy to oligarchy, where all government levers are controlled by a few. Since so many big manufacturers and brewers left MKE, Northwestern Mutual, a longtime fine employer, has begun to flex its muscles more. Now its aggressive CEO, in a JS op-ed, has declared they are entitled to take over a public park (he calls it "preserving" the park) ostensibly because they need parking spaces. If county supervisors won't comply, he says NM will make the rest of us suffer by building their own parking structure and out-competing the county facility, which he predicts will result in O'Donnell Park's "decay." Sounds like playground-bully tactics to me, but it's working with some elected officials.
    Tell supervisors to stand up for the public interest and against veiled threats. Once this irreplaceable lakefront park is sold, a public plaza and pavilion with Milwaukee's best views will be lost forever to the public.