(MILWAUKEE) – The Milwaukee County Board’s budget will be cut by 50 percent under a bold new set of initiatives proposed before an “Our Milwaukee County” listening session Thursday night.

The major initiative includes but is not limited to government streamlining, mandatory training for County Supervisors to clarify roles and responsibilities in County governance.

“This comprehensive package is the kind of bold reform our constituents asked for during the ‘OUR Milwaukee County’ sessions and various town hall meetings across the County,” said Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. “We’ve had listening sessions in more than half of the County, and Milwaukee County residents want to see reform done locally, not imposed on the County by the state Legislature. This is the one of the most significant and dramatic overhauls of Milwaukee County government in history, and this is what our constituents have demanded.

“We listened to everyone – county residents, state legislators and local officials – to create realistic Board reform. This package reflects that. It’s been said that we would never reform ourselves, that we would never cut our own salaries, and that we would never cut our budget. But this package demonstrates clearly that not only have we listened, we’ve acted with a commitment to true, realistic, locally generated reform.”

Dimitrijevic said that with seven new Board members “it is a new day for County government.”

“These reforms are proof that this is a new Board with a new outlook on reform,” she said. “We have a new chair, and seven of the 18 members of the Board are new. Everyone on the Board – new members and long-time Supervisors – is committed to locally generated change.”

Supervisors’ pay will be cut by 20 percent under the proposal, and the board budget would be cut $2.75 million, which could be used for transit, parks, mental health and other County services.

The reforms mean that beginning in 2016 supervisors pay would be reduced to about $40,000, and that the Chairperson’s salary would be less than that of the Waukesha County Board chairperson.

A majority of people who spoke at the “OUR Milwaukee County” sessions said they favored reform, but not reform imposed on the County Board by the state Legislature, she said. Assembly Bill 85 would reduce the Board’s budget to .4 percent of the County tax levy while cutting Board staff by about 70 percent. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, would strip the Board’s ability to govern effectively, Dimitrijevic said.

“The fact is, the County Board matters, and our constituents care deeply about it,” she said. “They want to be part of the reform process that is taking place on County governance.

“This reform package is real reform generated locally, and we believe our constituents will agree that this package is far preferable to one imposed by the state. There is more than one way to reform, and the most successful way is locally.”

Among other reforms announced were:
· Definition and clarification of roles and responsibilities of both the Board and the County Executive, which agree the Board is a policy-making body and the County Executive is manager of day-to-day operations, with mandatory training for supervisors.
· Creation of an independent Office of Intergovernmental Relations, which will report to both the County Executive and the County Board Chair.
· Changes to contracting policy.
· Requirement of an efficiency audit for all levels of County government and use of a mediator to enforce those efficiencies. Recommendations for additional efficiency measures in governance and operations. Follow-through on the efficiency audit for additional governance measures and County-wide operational efficiency measures.
· Transfer of the Community Development Business Partners department from the Board to the independent office of the County Comptroller.
· There would be no future pension benefit provided to Supervisors unless they choose to pay the full-cost beginning with the 2016 term
“Everything is on the table,” Dimitrijevic said. “We have said that this new board is committed to reform, and we have presented a bold new look for the County Board. We believe this is what the people of Milwaukee County want – change on a local, not state, level.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter in County governance. The people of Milwaukee County spoke, and we listened.”

Chris Moews criticizes David Clarke’s response to Boston bomb attack

On Wednesday Lt. Chris Moews, a candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff in the 2014 election, issued a press release criticizing Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s response to the Boston bomb attack this week.

“As a law enforcement officer and a detective who works every day to both solve and prevent crime on Milwaukee’s streets, I was appalled to see Sheriff Clarke’s premature statement yesterday, just 24 hours after the horrific bombing in Boston, referring to that crime as an ‘intelligence failure,’” said Lt. Chris Moews. “How could he possibly know that? This is a time to let the FBI, Boston PD, the ATF and the other agencies involved do their job to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice, and focus on caring for the victims and preventing another attack.

“Those law enforcement officers are already seeing a real, evidence-based strategy bear fruit,” said Lt. Moews. “Real law enforcement leaders don’t make inflammatory remarks about an event like this without having all the information — we wait for some real data, and some real evidence.

“If there was an intelligence failure, we’ll find out, and we’ll respond, as a united nation against violent crime and terror,” continued Lt. Moews. “But as we don’t have a full idea what happened, to call it a ‘catastrophic intelligence failure’ on the first day of the investigation is just another example of why most law enforcement professionals are concerned about Clarke’s ability to lead the Sheriff’s department.”

Moews, a life-long resident of Milwaukee County and a Lieutenant in the Milwaukee Police Department, challenged Sheriff Clarke in the Democratic Primary in 2010 and will run again in 2014.

Why do we need universal background checks for all gun buyers? Here’s why!

This week a bipartisan group of Republicans and red-state Democrats successfully filibustered the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill that would have implemented universal background checks for all gun buyers. Many of those Senators who voted against ending the filibuster cited their fears that such a bill would lead to a national gun registry (a lie, considering the bill expressly prohibited the development/implementation of a national gun registry).

So why exactly do we need to implement universal background checks for all gun sales in this country, like the Manchin-Toomey bill would have implemented? Here’s why:

So the next time Republicans talk about how background checks wouldn’t stop criminals from getting guns, remember this video. The men in this video who purchased guns could have easily been convicted felons, but without having to produce identification or go through a background check, it would be impossible for the seller to know.

OUR Milwaukee County: Special Announcement Before Next Listening Session!

MEDIA ADVISORY Important Announcement by Milwaukee County Supervisors, State Legislators, Community Leaders :

There will be an important announcement by County Supervisors, State Legislators and community leaders during
a news conference at the Washington Park Senior Center in Milwaukee at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The important announcement will be followed by an “OUR Milwaukee County” listening session with Supervisor
David Bowen and Supervisor Russell W. Stamper II at 6:30 p.m.

Who: County Board Supervisors, State Legislators and community leaders

What: Important announcement

Date: Thursday, April 18

Time: 6:00 P.M.

Location: The Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vliet Street

Thursday Music: Crab Canon on Mobius Strip

A little fun for the day. Colin Marshall’s commentary following the video is well worth a read. Actually, read before watching. It’s better that way.

For the adventuresome, scroll down to Glenn Gould’s “remarks” on Bach. He’s mad as a hatter, but genius. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, but I’m never sure. Or at least I’m never sure I know what he’s talking about. One thing for sure, he interprets Bach like no other. Unparalleled.


Genuine Compromise and the Domino Effect: Inaction is Not an Option

Not often do Americans mark April 18, 1783 on their calendars as a day of special remembrance. Yet, it is a memorable date. On this day 230 years ago, James Madison introduced an amendment to the Articles of Confederation – the Federal Ratio, popularly termed the 3/5 Compromise. The compromise aimed to apportion the number of slave inhabitants at a 5 to 3 ratio for determining a state’s taxation allotment to the general government. The total number of slaves counted 3/5 of their actual number. The amendment failed, but four years later Roger Sherman and James Wilson would reintroduce the concept to the Constitutional  Convention.

James Wilson, had he not died in 1798, might well be a name revered as highly as that of Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. In my estimation, he was the most erudite of the Founding Fathers, among the most visionary, but also one of the more conciliatory. In other words, at times he gave in to principles he knew were just bad, but forfeited his better judgment due to dire conditions. On April 18, 1783 he held firm on one principle: that individual states ought not cede territory to the United States but that the United States ought to cede territory to the individual states. The suggestion and the implications therein generated no inconsiderable amount of apoplexy in the Assembly, and Wilson was called to order. On the 5 to 3 apportionment, congressional notes record: “He said he would sacrifice his opinion to this compromise.”

Just to give this date a little more context, Congress only a week earlier declared “cessation of arms” against Great Britain, and just 3 days prior approved the Treaty of Paris. The question of taxation under discussion relative to the 3/5 compromise meant discharging some of the war debt. The combined sum to be collected from all the states being a whopping one million dollars. The general government couldn’t pay its debts without sufficient revenue, revenue owed by the states and for which the states refused to comply. They had a revenue crisis. That revenue crisis compounded by war profiteering reached proportions so egregious that dissolution of the Union was imminent by 1787. Fast forward to the Philadelphia Convention when Wilson and Sherman reintroduce the 3/5 Compromise at another crisis point of imminent dissolution.

Roger Sherman was no Wilson, but he was no slouch nor insignificant contributor to American’s founding. During the Philadelphia Convention, he co-authored the Connecticut Compromise which, when modified by Benjamin Franklin, prevented the smaller and mostly Northern states from seceding while the primary architecture of the Constitution was under construction. The Convention, on the brink of collapse with dissolution again imminent, moved forward. That advance led directly to revival of the 3/5 Compromise. Which led to another compromise offered in yet another deadlocked moment – offered by James Wilson – the electoral college.

The sticking point  here was how to elect the President. Wilson himself advocated for direct election by the people. He opposed the alternative proposal of legislative appointment. Madison and Gouvernor Morris also favored direct election. Morris eloquently argued that the National Executive was to be “the guardian of the people” and should therefore be elected by the people. Wilson’s proposal for the electoral college allowed for an intervening system where the people elected the electors for each state who would then elect the President.

And here’s the interesting thing about compromise. It isn’t often what it seems. In 1783, most of the South opposed the 3/5 Compromise. In 1787, they embraced it. Under the Articles of Confederation the 3/5 Compromise meant a higher tax levy on slave states. But under the new Constitution, it granted them a disproportionately higher number of representatives in the first legislative branch – the House. That, in turn, allowed the South disproportionate domination of national politics. The 3/5 Compromise proved a convenient flip. A concept so reviled under the Articles of Confederation became a banner under which to rally. That rallying combined with other bad compromises eventually led to the Civil War. The wide angle: Compromise facilitated the ultimate inaction – perpetuating the institution of slavery.

The significance of this April 18th Anniversary is the potential domino effect carried in bad compromise, that cacophony of causally linked, entrenched disasters. Plenty of entrenched, unending crises resulting from bad compromise loom before us, and at every level of government: From the sequester to chained CPI to sensible gun control to restructuring county government. Though ultimately calamitous, the 3/5 Compromise had a number of things going for it that our own divisive controversies do not: commitment, purpose, and honor. Madison, Wilson, and Sherman proposed the Federal Ratio as genuine compromise. None acted out of regional or special interest. All sacrificed some component of importance in order to accept it. The same cannot be said of our great compromisers today. No honor, purpose, or commitment can be found in contemporary compromises. But today’s compromises are no less shortsighted and potentially calamitous, wrongly grounded, and leading toward strife and suffering. More dominoes. It needn’t be so. As significant, while we should try to avoid those dominoes with foresight, we shouldn’t fear them either by refusing to act.

Today compromise is disingenuous. Today compromise is more often cynical and opportunist at worst. Insincere cozenage at best. That process must end. Then there’s that special species of compromise – no compromise – which allows an immoral and untenable element to continue, to fester and to rot. We saw that kind of corrosive species of compromise yesterday when Conservatives on both sides of the aisle sabotaged tepid gun legislation and filibustered it out of existence. When sensible gun legislation gets watered down until it is barely useful but can’t pass the senate, it’s a herald for sweeping change in gun control laws. It’s time “we the people” demand wisdom, foresight, and stability from our elected officials. Insist on nothing less than the government every citizen deserves and is currently deprived. It’s time for government to do what Gouvenor Morris argued, be “the guardian of the people” by protecting the people from a society unjustly plagued by gun violence.

In 1787, “doing nothing” wasn’t an option because the people quite literally wouldn’t allow further inaction. Which is why despite the many disagreements among delegates at the Pennsylvania Convention, every so often in the debate notes we find the abbreviation “nem. con.” It stands for nemine contradicente. It means “We are without dissent.”

The long view, of course, bodes ill for irrationality. History hath shown protracted obstinancy never triumphs. Not only does it lose, it loses permanently. Background checks are the 3/5 Compromise of gun control. In the end, “sensible gun legislation” will be inconsequential, because in the end an armed citizenry will be imponderable, unthinkable, a relic of the coarse and distant past.