For all of you policy wonks out there who want to see the full text of State Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s bill to gut Milwaukee County Government, please click here!
There is no doubt that the powers that be in Milwaukee County are openly taking advantage of the recent and current dysfunction in county government and the public’s growing dissatisfaction with the county as a result to make an egregious grab at consolidating power in the county executive’s office.
A dysfunction that County Executive Chris Abele has very obviously maintaining and encouraging as his personal policy agenda!
Who is doing the micromanaging now?
According to a report by Steve Schultze of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Democratic State Sen. Lena Taylor (pictured, right) has agreed to cosponsor Republican State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo’s revised bill to shrink both the size of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and the Board’s pay/overall budget. Sanfelippo’s revised bill would put the matter before voters in an April 2014 referendum. According to Schultze’s report, Sen. Lena Taylor said she agreed to co-sponsor the bill because of savings to taxpayers, as well as the fact that the bill would bring the Milwaukee County Board’s pay and budget more in line with other Wisconsin counties.
While some may have been surprised by Sen. Taylor’s decision to support efforts to downsize the County Board’s size and budget, her support for Sanfelippo’s bill didn’t surprise me one bit, given Sen. Taylor’s penchant for voting with Republicans to implement concealed carry laws, the so-called Castle Doctrine, not to mention her support for the American Federation for Children (AFC), a right-wing school choice group that counts among its lobbyists disgraced former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen. According to Sourcewatch, AFC is chaired by Betsy DeVos, the billionaire wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos (son of Amway founder Richard DeVos) and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. What’s more, AFC is a member of ALEC, the right-wing corporate funded bill mill from which much of the right-wing legislation that has been enacted here in Wisconsin (and across the nation) has originated. In recent years, Betsy DeVos has busied herself sending tens of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts and other right-wing initiatives.
Ultimately, I think Sen. Taylor knows her days as a member of the State Senate may be numbered, and so she may feel she has nothing to lose by helping Republicans get some of their agenda through the State Senate. Given the possibility of a primary challenge to Sen. Taylor by Democratic State Rep. Mandela Barnes in 2016 – not to mention Sen. Taylor’s disappointment over not being re-appointed to the Joint Finance Committee by Minority Leader Chris Larson – I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Sen. Taylor break ranks with her Democratic colleagues more often during the course of the current legislative session. If I had to guess, I’d look for Sen. Taylor to lend her support to Republican efforts to allow mining in northern Wisconsin, despite the fact that a mine in northern Wisconsin isn’t likely to create many (or any) jobs in Lena Taylor’s district. While Sen. Taylor has expressed concerns about mining legislation in its current form, she has also expressed her willingness to work with Republicans to get mining legislation done, having said, “Mining jobs are important. It would be great if we could do it, but I think it has to be done right.”