Yes, County Board Chair Theodore Lipscomb Is Running for County Executive

He sure picked a cold November day to throw his hat in the ring…he’s gonna freeze his head. But as rumored yesterday, the County Board Chair Theodore Lipscomb has announced his campaign for Milwaukee County Executive!

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb Sr. is running for county executive, the fifth person to enter the race since Chris Abele announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in April.

In an announcement posted on his campaign website, Lipscomb highlighted his experience on the County Board and wrote that he and his wife, Nicole, are lifelong Milwaukee County residents

“My time in public service has been defined by working to find solutions to some of our greatest challenges,” he wrote. “Including properly investing in our parks and transit systems. Milwaukee County is at a pivotal moment.

“The next County Executive needs to have a full understanding of the intricacies of county government, our finances, and the roadblocks that have put the brakes on progress for 20 years. That’s why I’m running for County Executive.”

So we now have five candidates. I guess that’s not a surprise for an open seat. A lot of people are obviously interested in ‘moving up’. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and we don’t end up with the herd we are seeing in the Democratic presidential race.

Poor Ideas In Public Safety: Milwaukee Common Council Edition

One of the biggest controversies in Milwaukee is the issue around lead pipe water laterals which may be compromising the health of thousands of Milwaukeeans living in older homes and apartments. The permanent solution is to replace the antiquated lead laterals with modern safer materials. But of course that solution runs to millions and millions of dollars.

So as limited funds become available they should be used for their intended purpose as soon as possible. Unless of course you are Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis!

A 2020 budget amendment from Alderwoman Chantia Lewis would take $50,130 from a city lead abatement program to create a new position focused on supporting events created by Common Council members.

To fund the position, $50,130 would be removed from the $5.2 million lead service line replacement fund. The fund is used to replace the approximately 75,000 lead laterals that connect homes to the city’s water system. Replacing all of the lead service lines is estimated to cost over $750 million.

I mean WTF? By all intents and purposes, $50,000 in the city budget is small potatoes…and it certainly would need to come from somewhere…but the lead abatement program?

But of course the money is for a good cause…it’s to support the members of the Common Council:

“We have in the City’s Clerk office a community outreach liaison who is by her lonesome and maintains 15 alders,” said Lewis during the Finance & Personnel Committee’s October 31st budget amendment meeting. “It’s a lot of work to do Bronzeville Week, Hip Hop Week, the 4th of July parade, Harvest Fest and all of the other things.”

I don’t doubt that it’s a lot of work. I don’t doubt that these are important events in each aldermanic district. But the last place the money should come from is a line item for public health and public safety. May I suggest it comes out of the combined budgets of the Common Council?

P.S. I thought that the 4th of July parades were county events, in and around the county parks. Is there a City of Milwaukee parade that I have been missing??

Racine Republican, Robin Vos, Worried About Milwaukee Budget

It’s that time of year and Wisconsin municipalities are putting together their budgets for the upcoming year. And as always, Milwaukee is struggling to meet their budgetary needs under the various restraints imposed on them by the Republicans in control of the state legislature and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The city is restricted in sources of additional revenue. There are very clear limits enacted by the state on property taxes that prevent the city’s ability to increase existing tax revenues. The state’s animosity toward the city has left the state’s shared revenues stagnant for a decade or so. So it’s no wonder that Milwaukee Mayor Barrett is having a tough time creating a city budget each year.

The City of Milwaukee isn’t the only area governmental body in the area feeling the same restraints. So Milwaukee County has put forward their Fair Deal project to add 1% to the county sales tax rate. These revenues would be used to reduce property taxes and provide revenues for the county and municipalities within Milwaukee County.

Counties can’t unilaterally raise their sales tax rates about the currently permitted 0.5%. So a countywide referendum is required…and that requires the state government to approve holding a referendum.

And that’s where Assembly Speaker Robin Vos pops up. He isn’t a fan of Milwaukee (County or City), isn’t a fan of Mayor Barrett, and certainly isn’t a fan of public transportation…particularly Milwaukee’s initial foray into street cars (the state passed laws preventing Milwaukee County from working with the city on funding the street car and prohibits the street car from servicing any areas outside the city).

So it comes as no surprise that Rep. Vos hates the Milwaukee budget and thinks that we have our priorities screwed up.

Vos’ comments come in the midst of deliberations over next year’s city budget —including Barrett’s proposal to cut 60 police officer positions through attrition — and as Milwaukee-area leaders are lobbying state legislators to allow a binding referendum on raising the county sales tax to 1.5% from 0.5%. Portions of the revenue would be dedicated to property tax relief and the county’s municipalities.

“I think that makes a lot of us say, well maybe your priorities aren’t in line if you think the most important thing for your city is a streetcar to nowhere versus having police officers on the street, knowing that we have guns that are on the street, knowing that we have crime that is impacting an awful lot of families,” Vos told Benson.

Vos said he respects that the city has budget problems and is willing to discuss those but that Barrett needs to convincingly make the case that the city is spending wisely. 

A couple of things…I am not happy about a reduction in Milwaukee’s police force. But I get it…and I will support a sales tax increase if it ever comes to a vote.

But as far as Rep. Vos’ issues with safety on city streets? He can do a lot to help with that.

FIRST: he can increase state shared revenues with the City of Milwaukee…the taxes Milwaukee sends to Madison continues to increase with the healthier economy while as we stated earlier…the revenue currently sent back from Madison has remained stagnant. Milwaukee seems to be subsidizing the out state areas. But as Assembly Speaker, Rep. Vos would have a lot of pull in adequately funding the city. How about that?

SECOND: Rep. Vos and his co-conspirator State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have continued to resist passing even sensible and very popular gun control legislation. If he is worried about gun violence in Milwaukee, he remains one of the contributing factors.

THIRD: he can abandon the GOP’s continued opposition to a street car or other modes of public transportation. There isn’t a mode of any form of transportation that isn’t subsidized at some level in this country. And in calling it a streetcar to nowhere is just playing to his base…he certainly understands that no transportation system is born fully formed from the head of Zeus.

FOURTH: He is willing to give the mayor an audience with the powers that be in Madison. I don’t hold much hope for that but it feels like its more than he’s willing to do for Governor Evers at this point.

Vos said he met with Barrett on Oct. 9 and has asked him to speak with a group of Assembly Republicans.

Barrett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Friday that after watching the interview he came away with an appreciation that he will have an opportunity to meet with Republicans to explain the city’s budget situation.

FIFTH: No matter what his personal thoughts on the county or municipal budgets anywhere in Milwaukee County, he shouldn’t stand in the way of a tax referendum. We the residents of Milwaukee County, as the taxpayers who elected our officials, should get to decide how we want to tax ourselves. He should support the referendum legislation and pass it through his chamber post haste.

So where am I going with this? Robin Vos has been instrumental in creating the tight budget issues for local governments through out the state. He needs to craft a remedy. Robin Vos is responsible for state budgets and indirectly county budgets, but he certainly doesn’t understand the needs and requirements in all areas of the state…nor the expectations of the residents. Locally, he should just butt out and let the voters decide on what they need, what they want, and how they want to pay for it.

So pass the damn legislation on time so the referendum can be held ASAP and Milwaukee County can say for itself: Whither Goes Milwaukee County!

And Yes, I think Mayor Tom Barrett is running for re-election!

And here’s why: from yesterday’s email inbox:

Dear Edward,
I am thrilled to announce my upcoming event in Madison, hosted by Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Mark Pocan! 

When: Wednesday, November 6th from 5:30PM – 7PM
Where: the home of Martha Cranley (4514 Keating Terrace – Madison, WI)

To RSVP, please feel free to click here or send an email to Zach today!
I hope you will be able to join us for a fun evening and great conversation.

– Tom

[unless he decides he wants to be Milwaukee County Executive!]

Abele Is Not Running For Re-election:

That turns the whole county government environment totally on its head. “In a reversal, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announces he will not seek re-election

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is not seeking re-election, he announced Wednesday, a reversal from May, when Abele told the Journal Sentinel he was running.

In a statement, Abele said it was a difficult decision not to run again in April.

“I have approached public service just as I have approached every venture I take on — giving it my all every day, all day, leaving everything on the field,” he said. “But I also believe public service is about passing the torch when we have done our best to do what you have elected us to do.”

The position required “significant sacrifice,” he wrote.

“Now — alongside my three incredibly dynamic daughters and a new marriage with a strong woman who brings life and love into every room she walks into — it is time to write our next chapter together,” he wrote.

Who will this pull out of the woodwork to run? Will other candidates change their minds on what office to pursue? Will one or more of the mayoral candidates in Milwaukee change their heading (and yes, I am sure Mayor Barrett is running for re-election)?

Who do you think is a good candidate for Milwaukee County Executive?

(who wants to be on my exploratory committee? [humor])