Whither MKE County: County Government Displays Its Dysfunction Once Again!

The latest round of dysfunction in Milwaukee County government is the brouhaha started by first term County Supervisor Deanna Alexander. As reported by MJS’ Daniel Bice in a recent No Quarter article, Sup. Alexander accused the other board members of intentionally preventing her from doing her job. Specifically that board leadership was preventing her from sending out emails or adding arcane requirements before her emails could be sent. And that board staff were either being prevented from helping her draft bills to present to the board or were willfully refusing to help her research and draft a bill.

Now I am not sure how exactly emails get sent or bills get written, but I can’t imagine anyone who survived a campaign for county supervisor would be unable or unwilling to write and send her own emails…and if I were in that position I wouldn’t want anyone else having the input anyway. And I thought each supervisor had at least one dedicated staffer (if Sup. Alexander doesn’t have a staff person I can recommend one with previous county experience). So please, Sup Alexander, get your staffer to do this stuff or do it yourself…really…it is after all, for the moment, a full time job.

But after being told that she couldn’t send the emails she wanted or had to append her home address (which seems a little weird), Sup. Alexander finally sent her email from her personal account (that seems like a bad idea and I hope she kept it in case anyone needs to file an open records request…).

And I don’t know why the legislative staff wouldn’t work with Sup. Alexander without the permission of County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic’s permission or permission from her chief of staff. It would seem that support staff should be available to any supervisor as needed…unless someone was trying to re-arrange office priorities.

I am surprised that she is apparently so thin skinned that a discussion with County Supervisor John Weishan, she described Sup Weishan as ripping her, when he requested that she delay her forum on county government reform. Yet she had the wherewithal to go ahead and hold her town hall forum anyway. A town hall meeting that I announced here on BB! I am glad that we was able to hold the forum.

In Mr. Bice’s column, Chair Marina Dimitrijevic says that she is sorry that Sup. Alexander feels as she says she feels and that she is willing to work with Sup Alexander as she has in the past. And Chair Dimitrijevic said that she has no control over the emails sent by Sup. Alexander…but there was not denial reported by Mr. Bice on whether the support staff refused to work with the supervisor on her resolution.

And never one to miss an opportunity to take a shot at Chair Dimitrijevic, County Executive Chris Abele weighed in in favor of Sup. Alexander:

“Last April, more than 80% of voters in 12 Milwaukee County municipalities called for significant change of the County Board,” Abele said. “It’s disappointing that instead of taking action, the Chairwoman and some Supervisors continue to fight against real reform and punish those who want to move in that direction.”

Abele said in his statement that he appreciates Alexander’s interest in modifying the board.

“While Supervisor Alexander and I don’t agree on every issue, her willingness to have a dialogue on County Board reform is what the Board should be all about,” Abele said in a press release.

So the dysfunction? These are supposedly adults who all work yards from each other in the County Courthouse, yet I have to read about their inability to work together in a string of columns by Dan Bice in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel? You can’t walk down the hall and work this out or pick up the phone? We should expect more from our elected officials!

If you want to have a beer pow wow, just let me know and you are all welcome at my house…I’ll get the beer and some wine and we can start on the detente! Milwaukee County is under attack and we need to work together!

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”

Interesting….

Gov. Scott Walker transferred $40,000 from his campaign account to his legal defense fund on the last day of 2012, according to his latest finance report.

The transfer to the Scott Walker Trust raises new questions about the status of the long-running John Doe investigation in Milwaukee that has ensnared former aides from the guv’s days as county exec.

Thursday Music: Soundtrack for Sheriff Clarke’s Ad

Clash: Tommy Gun

Tommy gun, you ain’t happy less you got one
Tommy gun, ain’t gonna shoot the place up just for fun
Maybe he wants to die for the money
Maybe he wants to kill for his country
Whatever he wants, he’s gonna get it

Tommy gun, you better strip it down for a custom run
Tommy gun, waiting in the airport ’till kingdom come
And we can watch you make it on the nine o’clock news
Standing there in Palestine lighting the fuse
Whatever you want, you’re gonna get it

Tommy gun, Tommy gun

Tommy gun, you’ll be dead when your war is won
Tommy gun, but did you have to gun down everyone?
I can see it’s kill or be killed, a nation of destiny has got to be fulfilled
Whatever you want, you’re gonna get it

Tommy gun, you can be a hero in an age of none
Tommy gun, I’m cutting out your picture from page one
I’m gonna get a jacket just like yours and give my false support to your cause
Whatever you want, you’re gonna get it
Alright

Ok, so that’s agreed, about the price
I make it one two, ten dollar
For ten, reasonable
And boats and tanks and planes, it’s your game
Kings and queens and generals learn your name
And I see all the innocents, the human sacrifice
And if death comes so cheap then the same goes for life

RwP: Interview with Madison Alder Bridget Maniaci and a Look into Michael Best & Friedrich

This week on Rants without Pants, an interview with Madison City Council Alder, Bridget Maniaci. I also take a look at the shady workings of the Republican law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.

00:00 – 17:19– Interview with Madison City Council Bridget Maniaci

Maniaci discusses the diversity of her district, how her age relates to her constituents, how great government can be, comparing Waukesha and Dane County, cheap shots, why local races matter, the process of an Alder, how age and gender has inserted themselves in politics, the future of Bridget Maniaci and much more.

17:19 – End A Look into Michael Best & Friedrich

A family’s experience with Planned Parenthood

From my email inbox comes this account of one Wisconsin family’s experience with Planned Parenthood.

Two young adults walk into a Planned Parenthood near suburban Milwaukee in 2007. Faced with new realities about their future together, the young couple came that day to ask for help in a time of great need.

Neither one of the two had insurance of their own. Recently engaged, they knew their love for one another was real. But they also knew things were about to get very challenging for them.

They came to the clinic to determine if they were pregnant. Upon finding out that they had indeed conceived, they knew their choice was clear: in their view, there wasn’t any other choice they could make.

They chose not to terminate the pregnancy.

More than four years later, they have a healthy son together, and remain a family.

This story isn’t uncommon for many families across the country. The perception of Planned Parenthood is that it’s nothing more than an “abortion mill,” that it exists solely for the termination of embryos or fetuses, and that any funding they receive goes towards these services.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, abortion accounts for less than three percent of all the services Planned Parenthood provides for its clients. Think about the significance there: for every three women who do choose to have an abortion, 97 other clients walk into the doors of a Planned Parenthood seeking help in some other way — a health screening, some helpful advice, low-priced contraceptives, or some other service.

The money they receive from government isn’t going towards abortions, either. Planned Parenthood applies for grants that are required by law to be handled with the utmost scrutiny. And since it’s illegal for any taxpayer dollars to go towards an abortion, none of the funds from those grants do so.

That couple from 2007 came in to find out if they were pregnant. They also came to find ways that they could get insured. They were advised to join the BadgerCare program in Wisconsin, that it was a good stepping stone for now, until the college-aged couple could find promising employment with health benefits they could contribute towards themselves.

Today, that couple has such benefits. They have a healthy young boy whom they cherish immensely. They live a not-so-glamorous life, but promising nonetheless, ready to tackle the idea of the American dream head-on.

But they could never have imagined what could have been had they been on their own from the start. Yes, they had help from family. And the state, too, aided them with their insurance.

The first place they went to, however, was a Planned Parenthood. And it helped get their bearings straight. From that point, they knew where to go to, who to count on for help. And the couple knew, when they needed more help, they were always welcome to come back.

——–

When comments like Sen. Glenn Grothman’s (R-West Bend) come out criticizing the organization, it’s not really surprising. The far-right conservative seems like nothing more than a loud-mouth panderer, working towards appeasing the lowest common denominator of his constituents. How he retains his seat in the legislature is baffling — mainly because he’s an embarrassment to the state, grabbing national headlines with his callous remarks on race and women’s rights.

His latest comments on Planned Parenthood, that it’s a modern-day racist organization with a troubling history, are laughable. The organization today is lauded as being as anti-racist as one can get. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights leader of his time and icon to this day, felt compelled to praise Planned Parenthood when they bestowed an honor onto him in 1966 — for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”

Of the Civil Rights and family planning movements, King wrote:

“…we are natural allies of those who seek to inject any form of planning in our society that enriches life and guarantees the right to exist in freedom and dignity.

For these constructive movements we are prepared to give our energies and consistent support; because in the need for family planning, Negro and white have a common bond; and together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute — the human race.”

Whatever the past of Planned Parenthood may be — truthful or exaggerated — it’s current incarnation serves a myriad of peoples, white, black, Asian, Latino, you name it. It doesn’t turn a soul away from its doors. If you’re a person with a health need, chances are the people at Planned Parenthood will do their best to help you through it.

Dr. King recognized the good that the organization did for the world. So, too, did that young, scared couple in 2007.

There are some who come to the clinics seeking to terminate pregnancies — that is an individual right that should not be tampered with. But it’s also an insignificant portion of what Planned Parenthood does for hundreds of communities across our nation. Thousands, perhaps millions, depend on this organization to help them, to deliver them health services that they can’t get elsewhere.

Critics like Sen. Glenn Grothman who marginalize the importance of Planned Parenthood, who ignorantly call it a “racist” organization, do a disservice to the communities they represent, and truly exhibit the idiocy of their knowledge base.

A story about sex trafficking

Though this has nothing to do with our typical politically-based commentary, this is definitely worth taking a few minutes of your time to read.

A few weeks after their first encounter, Richard returned, this time alone. He explained that he and his wife had divorced, but he was ready to move on. Then he asked Brianna if she’d like to “party with him.” She’d later learn this was code for having sex with a client, but at that time she says, “I just thought why would a middle-aged man want to party with a high school kid?” She told him no, but that wasn’t the last she would see of Richard.

A few weeks after that, when Brianna had just turned 18, the man of her dreams appeared in the diner. Nick was a gorgeous blond football player dressed in Gucci, designer denim, and an expensive watch. “I noticed him right away,” Brianna says. “He flirted with me and made me feel so special and beautiful. I’ve never been talked to like that. When I told him I liked his watch, he said, ‘I’d like to buy you one to match.’ ”

Nick invited her to visit him in Seattle, and when she saw his chromed-out Mercedes and stately Victorian house, she felt she had wandered into a dream. When her family adamantly told her she could not spend the night with him, he told her to break her ties with them and move into his spare room. He also suggested she could attend college while doing a little work on the side. Why not try dancing in a club?, Nick asked, adding that his former girlfriend did that and made “tons of money doing little work.”

Within hours, Nick had taken Brianna to get an entertainer’s license, helped her choose her stripper’s outfit, and led her to a strip club. There he warned her not to make eye contact with certain men. She later learned this was to keep her from becoming the property of another pimp. During her second night in Seattle, she took the stage at a strip club for the first time, all the while telling herself that even though she was naked, she would have her clothes on in a matter of minutes. She did this for three consecutive nights, working seven hours on the last and pulling in $850—a big change from the $85 she made on her best night ever at the diner.

While the story I linked to may have occurred in Washington State, sex trafficking is also happening in our own back yard, as illustrated by this account from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from late last year.

Sheriff David Clarke: more grandstander than lawman

On Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff (and general laughingstock) David Clarke released a new public service announcement advocating for residents of Milwaukee County to arm themselves because 9-1-1 is no longer their best option. Here’s the PSA:

I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal…your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?

In response to Clarke’s PSA, Chris Moews, who challenged Sheriff David Clarke in the 2010 Democratic primary for Milwaukee County Sheriff and is currently preparing to run again in 2014, issued a statement criticizing Clarke’s call for citizen vigilantism.

“Despite the way our Sheriff carries himself, Milwaukee County is not the Wild West and telling citizens to arm themselves is not an appropriate public safety strategy,” said Moews. “The only law enforcement official who would ever recommend this as a crime-fighting policy is one who has failed to do his own job.”

Moews also noted the rift between Sheriff Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele regarding the Sheriff Department’s budget.

“A real leader is someone who has temperament,” said Moews. “The Sheriff should not be using the public airwaves with taxpayer money to complain about the budget he was given. He needs to find better ways to manage his department, not use theatrics that instill fear in our neighbors. A real Sheriff would lead a collaborative effort with the community to develop substantive solutions, not encourage vigilantism.”

What I find curious is Clarke’s statement urging citizens to arm themselves so they can defend themselves until “we” get there. Surely the “we” Clarke is referencing can’t be the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, because the last time I checked the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office under David Clarke wasn’t the first line of defense for Milwaukee County citizens who need law enforcement assistance.

David D. Haynes characterized David Clarke best in an op-ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when he called Clarke a grandstander first and a lawman second.

The sexist spin on Hillary Clinton’s Senate testimony

I know I’m a couple of days behind on this, but Aviva Shen of ThinkProgress has a great post up highlighting the sexist coverage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony during a Senate committee hearing on the Benghazi terror attacks last week,

In fact, here’s the Thursday morning cover of the New York Post, which is owned by conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch:

Image courtesy ThinkProgress.org
Image courtesy ThinkProgress.org

I’m willing to bet that if a male Secretary of State had become as outraged as Secretary Clinton did by the line of idiotic and hyper-partisan questioning she subjected to, the New York Post cover story probably would not have included a headline about how afraid of him his spouse must be.

Guest Blog: A Letter to the Editor on mining

Dear State Journal Editor –

I attended the Mining Commission Hearing on Wednesday in Madison – hours away from the communities this bill will affect directly. Lest we forget though, this bill sets new mining rules for the whole state moving forward; it could be any of our backyards at some point. I had questions and concerns, and I expected to hear testimony and answers regarding the proposed mining bill – a bill that the mining company had a strong hand in writing. Instead, I along with many were insulted with disdain exhibited by the Republican leadership in not allowing questions and their offering no answers. The rudeness I witnessed to other legislators and constituents was appalling and frankly inconceivable that it was an adult speaking.

One response regarding filling the job openings with Wisconsin workers, was that such details of the plan would be released upon passage of the bill. How is this responsible governance? I am trying to be an informed, responsible citizen, and am met with contempt by Republicans time and time again. How can one not assume their redistricting and “protect the vote” efforts are merely guises for voter suppression. I am very discouraged about any bills being written behind closed doors by special interests and where citizens and the quality of life in Wisconsin are not the priority. We the people clearly don’t have a voice with this leadership, nor a transparent process. This does not pass my “stink test” of a “good faith effort” on the Republicans and mining company’s part.

Elisa Miller