County Executive Chris Abele’s take on how to do his job continues to be fascinating. His open battles with Sheriff Clarke. His arms length attitude toward the county board. His czarina firing of Sue Black. His lack of communication with the other powers that be in the County Court House while formulating the county budget.

But seeing some push back from the board and the public and the media on his budget proposals…Executive Abele decides to take his ideas to the people…but not just any people…the people who supported his campaign and he’s doing it via his campaign staff and apparently campaign treasury.

I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen the likes of this before…but here’s his approach to building support for his latest county budget!

email dated September 27th:

I need your help!

Dear Friend,

I just finished by budget speech to the County Board. Despite facing a $28 million deficit, my budget doesn’t raise taxes or significantly raise fees. I know your tax dollars are hard-earned and I intend to ensure they’re spent judiciously.
This budget improves public safety, enhances the critical services Milwaukee County offers, lowers our long-term debt and continues my goal of moving Milwaukee County toward a sustainable path.

I’ve pledged to you to bring disciplined decision-making and real reform to our community. We can’t afford more of the same management policies that left the County with a mountain of debt and declining services. I haven’t been afraid to make tough choices, and I’m going to keep fighting to make Milwaukee County government more efficient, effective and more affordable.

My budget calls for renewed attention to long-neglected parks. This includes making significant upgrades at the Martin Luther King Community Center, as well as Moody, Lindsay, Lindbergh, Johnson and Humboldt Parks.

While many county residents don’t see these parks as some of the more visible and prominent ones – we know that they are valued by the people whose neighborhoods they enrich and it’s high time they got the investment they deserve.

This is just the start; we are already working on a plan to revitalize another round of neglected parks in 2014. I am dedicated to renewing these irreplaceable spaces for everyone and creating parks that nurture families and community.

A big part of making sure parks are attractive is making sure they are safe.
By now you may have read that part of the 2013 Budget proposes working with the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Police Department and other Police Departments across the county to provide security at the County Parks.

I unveiled this plan earlier this week. Using half the money that was given to the Sheriff’s Office for Parks patrols and 911 calls in the city of Milwaukee in 2012, police will patrol parks and the lakefront and take 911 calls in the city in 2013.
During my public budget listening sessions one of the biggest issues I heard about was transit. I know how important transit is to Milwaukee County, and people will be happy to know this budget does NOT include any cuts to transit and para-transit and riders will NOT be asked to pay higher fares.

The Milwaukee County Transit System is a vital part of this community. It gets people to work and school, it helps the economy grow and I am dedicated to making sure it stays strong. As part of that effort, my budget also includes $500,000 more for transit security. Our Transit system is safe and the addition of this money will make sure it stays that way.

As the County Executive I’m proud to lead the more than 4,000 great employees we have. It’s been a difficult number of years for employees who have dealt with pay freezes and furlough days. I’m happy to say that this budget has more for employees. The budget includes a cost of living adjustment and increase for most employees. My budget also includes $500,000 for an employee Recognition Award Program for our best employees. This is a new idea for government and one that I know will help us make Milwaukee County a professional workplace.

If Milwaukee County wants to attract and retain the best workers we need to treat them like the professionals they are.

But I need your support to continue bringing these crucial changes to Milwaukee County.

Please contact the County Board today and tell them that your support my budget!
We have much to do, but I’m confident we can continue accomplishing great things for Milwaukee County – together.

Thank you in advance for your continued friendship and support.

Chris Abele

P.S. Please forward this email to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers and encourage them to support my budget by contacting the County Board today

Authorized and paid for by Chris Abele for County Executive, Jeff Peelen, Treasurer

You’re receiving this because you subscribed via our website.
230 W. Wells #625
Milwaukee, WI 53203

But apparently that didn’t get the job done, so Exec Abele took to the ether again on October 5:


Below is copy of an email sent out from my office at the Courthouse on Friday I wanted you to see.

I still need your support to continue bringing crucial changes to Milwaukee County.

If you haven’t already, please contact the County Board today and tell them that your support my budget!

By working together, we’re making sure that government works for the people.


Chris Abele


Please forward this email to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers and encourage them to support my budget by contacting the County Board today! Forward to a friend

Authorized and paid for by Chris Abele for County Executive, Jeff Peelen, Treasurer.

You’re receiving this because you subscribed via our website.

230 W. Wells #625
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Now the email referenced to in the October 5 email apparently did come from the County Executive’s office and I am not sure who outside of his campaign list received that. But here is that missive as it was included in the email above:

From: Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele
Sent: Friday, October 05, 2012 11:36 AM
To: Chris Abele
Subject: A message from the County Executive

Dear Friend,

As you probably have heard, I released my 2013 Budget proposal last week. The entire budget is $1.3 billion and has more in it than I could put in an email but there are some parts that I want to share.

My budget does not include any tax increases or furlough days. It has more money for Transit, which means no fare hikes or route cuts. I’m adding money for Parks, Public Safety and we’re starting to tackle some of the biggest problems with deferred maintenance across the County. This budget also fully supports the important services Milwaukee County provides.

There are some specific things in my budget that I want to highlight.

For the first time in a long time there are raises and step increases for employees. Times remain tough, but I made it a priority to set aside more than $4.5 million for these raises.

My budget this year includes a new $500,000 plan to offer bonuses to the MVP’s (Most Valuable Performers) of Milwaukee County. This will mean hundreds of extra dollars to employees who go above and beyond on things like quality, efficiency and service. This MVP program recognizes the extraordinary dedication and results achieved by many employees. The bonus program also shines a light on those who make the extra effort.

I’m proposing we change the rate that employees pay for their pension. Under my budget there will be two contribution rates, one for employees who are not eligible for the backdrop and the other for people who are backdrop eligible.

Not Backdrop Eligible – 3.20%
Backdrop Eligible – 4.90%

For the average Milwaukee County workers who are not eligible for the backdrop, this will save nearly $750 a year. Backdrop eligible employees will only pay $140 more a year.

The goal is not to punish those who get the backdrop, but rather to have employees more fairly pay for the benefit they will actually receive.

Health Care
As you may have seen, my budget does call for an increase in health care for some employees. Although premiums are going up a bit I want you to know I took steps to make sure it is not an unfair burden.

Here is the breakdown of monthly premiums:
Employee Only – $100.00 vs. $85 currently.
Employee + Child(ren) – $125.00 vs. $170 currently.
Employee + Spouse – $200.00 vs. $170 currently.
Employee + Family – $225.00 vs. $170 currently.

If you’re interested in more details you can read my budget speech here and check out the whole budget for yourself here.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office is there is an issue you think I should be aware of and keep in touch with what I am up to by checking out my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Chris Abele

This past year I have started to come around to the idea that Executive Abele isn’t that much of an improvement over former Executive Walker. That he is just as opaque and arcane and in his own little universe. And I am certainly surprised that he would circle the wagons of his campaign contacts rather than the traditional politicking in the court house or media to make his point on the budget.

And I am on the email list of a lot of campaigns and lists of elected officials and this set of emails is a first for me. It is novel! Will it be effective? And is this really how we want our elected officials to communicate with ‘us’?

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