Things continue to heat up in the discussion of the role of county government and the size of the county board. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, obviously disappointed by the boards rejections of a number of his budget proposals and their override of 22 of his 24 budget vetoes, decided to ramp up the discussion.

In a recent speech to the Wauwatosa Rotary Club, Executive Abele posited the question, “It’s fair to ask, ‘Do we have the right kind of governance?’. Perfect question and something I think we all need to ponder right now. Something I brought up a few days ago here at Blogging Blue as a matter of fact. But unfortunately rather than following up with comments suggesting a willingness to get involved with a discussion on county governance and how we can improve county government, Executive Abele fires a shot across the bow of the Milwaukee County Board. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In raising the downsizing topic, Abele noted it was something the 18-member board itself could do. But that’s unlikely, he said. Or it could be done through the Legislature, he said.

“You can’t be afraid” to consider a change here, Abele said. “If you think changing a system of government and decision making – at any level of government, county or otherwise – is worth doing, be willing to speak up for it,” Abele said

There is precedent for the state changing county government, Abele said, noting that the Legislature in 1959 created the office of county executive.

Executive Abele already has a record of running to Madison for help when at odds with the county board…his fine example at such an end run resides in the County Comptroller’s office. And he wonders why the board is making every effort to shut him out of influence in the lobbying arena?

And Executive Abele also voiced is displeasure over the board’s re-arranging his office for economic development in the county:

Abele mentioned legal concerns in his veto messages on several board-approved budget changes including: abolishing then re-creating the county economic development director job to cancel a residency waiver given to Cedarburg resident Brian Taffora…

Well, when comparing the comptroller changes to the economic development changes, I think we are seeing a tit for tat exchange. Everyone should agree that’s enough now and let’s work toward improving county government and county services.

There are still 18 county supervisors…and Executive Abele…their offices are just yards away from yours…maybe you could drop by to discuss your ideas or invite them to your office for a casual chat once in a while…take a hint from County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic’s Chat With the Chair series…regular informal conversations are a positive initiative even if they don’t immediately produce results…I’ll even host one if you’d like!

I will continue with posts specific to Milwaukee County Government and try to keep the Sizing County Govt: as the lead in for the titles. If you’d like to meet to discuss your views on county government, let me know at And as always I look forward to your comments here!

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