OUR Milwaukee County: Groups Opposed to Corporate Take Over of MKE County

From the email:

Broad Cross-Section of Milwaukee Groups, Representing Thousands, Oppose Introduction of County Takeover Bill

MILWAUKEE –Local community groups representing thousands of Milwaukee county residents issued statements in response to the introduction of Assembly Bill 85 Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Sen. Lena Taylor’s bill to eviscerate Milwaukee County government.

Michael Lauer, Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now:

“This plan will drastically weaken the representation of communities of color and effectively remove the community voice at the county board level. Instead of attempting a power grab poorly disguised as reform, business leaders and politicians should be focused on creating good jobs and solving the real problems facing our city.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera:

“Shifting all of this power into the County Executive’s hands would tokenize representation at the board level – both in terms of elected representation, and racial diversity.”

Dana Schultz, State Director of 9to5:

“If current efforts to centralize county governance are implemented, this initiative would diminish representation of diverse communities and make low-income communities and communities of color even more removed from policymaking process, while concentrating power with county executive and the wealthy businesses backing the initiative. 9to5 is opposed to such efforts.”

Mike Wilder, African-American Civic Engagement Roundtable:

“The proposed legislation is nothing more than a power grab that aimed at silencing the voices of underrepresented communities, including communities of color while giving the corporate elite more power to control Milwaukee County Government.”

Jennifer Epps-Addison, Economic Justice Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin:

“Milwaukee County residents want state lawmakers to focus on creating jobs and opportunity for hard working Wisconsinites, not partisan power grabs.”

Mike Thomas, President of the SEIU Wisconsin State Council:

“This bill not only oversteps traditional lines between state and local governments, it strangles the potential for Milwaukee County to improve its education, economic development, and health and social services.”

Candice Owley, President of Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals:

“The proposal is in effect the dismantling of another Milwaukee democratic institution. It is the County Board that is the closest to the citizens, so by reducing the board’s effectiveness, the voice of the people is also diminished.”

Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin:

“Milwaukee is the largest and most diverse county in Wisconsin and a vital part of Wisconsin’s economic growth. We have full-time problems that require full-time supervisors who seek proactive solutions to get our citizens back to work.”

Mary Laan, Chair of Move To Amend Southeastern Wisconsin:

“Rep. Sanfelippo’s bill is an anti-democratic act, a corporate takeover by the Greater Milwaukee Committee. The law actually would increase County Executive Abele’s power to more than that of a typical CEO.”

9 comments to OUR Milwaukee County: Groups Opposed to Corporate Take Over of MKE County

  • Don’t you mean a small cross section of union groups?

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  • It’s not surprising that a number of groups like those above are speaking out. Several of them have made significant financial investments in the County Board and they want to make sure the people they got elected are there for them.

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  • Ed, I guess I don’t buy into the “power grab” line. After all, is forcing Department heads to sit through seven hour committee meetings for no particular reason a “power grab”?
    Is moving the County lobbyists back to the CE office a “power grab”? How about increasing the contract value from 50k to 100k for Board approval?

    Does putting a cap on the amount of time the Board has to confirm appointments make the Milwaukee County Board powerless?

    Hardly, yet these are the actual provisions of the bill. If anyone can answer those questions, without making it personal, I’d be very interested to listen.

    It’s sad really, because people have been so whipped into a frenzy by the Board and some of the groups above to make this seem like it’s some grand scheme to give Abele COMPLETE POWER!!! …by not forcing the Parks Director to sit in a committee meeting for 4-8 hours.

    I think once people take an objective look at what’s actually being proposed, they might find a few things that make sense.

    I would also add that it’s ironic that several of those things probably wouldn’t even be in the legislation if it weren’t for bad behavior by the current Board (Taffora nomination, threatening to slash the CE budget, taking away all the County lobbyists from the CE) over the past few years.

    Was it a “power grab” when the Board moved lobbying efforts under it’s sole direction over the last few years? If not, why is it one when the lobbying responsibilities are being moved back to the Exec?

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    • I am just pissed about their loss of regulation of cat licenses…

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    • Excellent points, Dan; all deserving a more substantive debate/conversation than a snarky one liner.

      Two themes that struck me in the list comments were the racial and “quality of services” claims.

      So far, there has been little evidence in the past 20 or so years that I’ve paid attention to politics and government that a larger “full-time” board leads to better county services. Under our bloated county board, the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare failed to the point of a State takeover. The Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex has had countless problems/issues that have even been documented here.

      I don’t buy into the racial claim unless someone can explain to me, when it comes to competently run county services, the substantive difference in resident expectations between a white person in Oak Creek, a Latino from Bayview or an African-American in Midtown.

      These seem to be mere talking points used to cover the reality that pro-big board folks fall into two categories: 1) those who want their piece of county tax money and 2) those who believe county government is a jobs program. Both types see quality of service to the taxpayer as secondary.

      A recent Marquette University poll showed Milwaukee County residents are split on this issue. To me, such a situation calls for a local referendum on a countywide ballot. What better form of local control could there be?

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      • Ed Heinzelman

        Roland: at this point my only official position on county government reform is that the constituents should have the input and final decision…which is why I advocated for the listening sessions and even a county convention in earlier posts here on BB…I resent that the state (although they have the authority) wants to dictate locally. So I will agree that at there should be a referendum on the form and size of county government here in Milwaukee…but the referendum currently being considered presents a false sense of democracy. I’ve been short of time lately or I would have published a few more posts to discuss this.

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