Milwaukee County Supervisors Condemn Terrorist Attack in Charlottesville

MILWAUKEE – Several members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors released the following statement regarding the recent terrorist incident in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Heather Heyer and the other victims of hate-fueled violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

“Hate has no place in America, and we condemn the individuals and groups that came to Charlottesville seeking violent confrontation as a platform to spread their racist ideology.

“We grieve with the community of Charlottesville, and with the victims and their families, as they cope with the terror of Saturday’s events and the loss of innocent life.

“While we must call out racism and name white supremacy for what it is, we cannot allow the terrorist attack in Charlottesville to sow further division in our nation.

“The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors adopted an anti-discrimination resolution in February and we will continue to take action to ensure Milwaukee County is a place where all people are valued equally.

“Condemning the hateful ideology of white supremacy and neo-Nazism is important, but it is not enough: we urge our neighbors, especially white people, to work intentionally to dismantle racism in all its forms.”

Supervisor Jason Haas, 14th District
Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th, District
Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde, 10th District
Supervisor John F. Weishan, 16th District
Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson, 5th District
Supervisor Sequanna Taylor, 2nd District

For Immediate Release: August 14, 2017
Contact: Brian Rothgery, Public Information Manager
414-278-4230 or brian.rothgery@milwaukeecountywi.gov

Whither Milwaukee County: The Never-ending Saga of the Pension Scandal: Time to Clean House

It’s been 15 or so years since the original Milwaukee County pensions scandal drove County Executive Tom Ament from office and introduced the ambitious Scott Walker as his replacement…the man who was going to clean it all up. Well Mr. Walker has gone on to polluting bigger ponds and Milwaukee County is still suffering with pension issues.

I am not going to go into the whole story but have placed a number of links below from JSOnline that will fill in the gaps and some of the more recent egregious screw ups. And then there is this article from Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee: Who’s To Blame for Pension Mess?

Some of the salient points from Mr. Murphy:

A recent report found that hundreds of county retirees have been getting paid the wrong amount, either an underpayment or overpayment. The report came just a few months after the county discovered it had underpaid nearly 1,300 county retirees, and would have to pay out $11 million to make up for the underpayments — in addition to $6 million more that hadn’t been budgeted to fully cover those retirees over their projected life expectancy. And all this comes on top of another error that blew up in 2014 but had actually been discovered in 2007 and never solved: overpayments to retirees in the neighborhood of $26 million.

“Every single dollar of the wheel tax (recently passed to generate more tax revenue) is being spent on problems with the pension,” Wasserman laments.

At one memorable county board meeting, pension office director Marian Ninneman promised there would be no more errors and boasted she had in place a “fail-safe system.”

County Board chairman Theo Lipscomb blames all the problems on Abele and none on the board. “I’m not blaming Abele for the mistakes that predate his first election, but he’s been county executive for nearly six years. As the most powerful County Executive in Wisconsin, Abele should take responsibility for the growing list of pension errors.”

In fact, the $11 million in underpayments went back as long as 15 years ago when Tom Ament was county exec, and were itemized in a report released in 2007, when Scott Walker was the executive, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. But they’ve never been fixed.

As for the $26 million in overpayments, board members passed a unanimous resolution in 2007 to stop the overpayments and then never checked (nor did the Walker administration) to make sure this actually happened. Then after Abele discovered the problem in 2014 and tried to stop all future overpayments, Lipscomb and the board adamantly refused to allow this, with then-board chair Marina Dimitrijevic calling Abele’s action “immoral.”

Abele blames the recurring problems on complexity. “It’s a really, really complicated system.”

Well this whole thing cost Marian Ninneman here job this past month. But I think it’s time that we cleaned house at the County Courthouse! Abele? gone! Dimitrijevic? gone! Lipscomb? gone! Any and every county supervisor? gone!

The entire pension board? gone!

Walker? He’s out of reach of county voters…but is he out of reach of the law? Is there some way to reach him for this mess?

15 years of negligence…15 years of wasting county resources…15 years of county employees not knowing which way their pensions go…or when…or why.

15 years wasting my tax dollars.

Clean house!

Latest Milwaukee County pension errors to cost $2 million to correct

Hidden report shows hundreds of Milwaukee County pension payment errors

Milwaukee County pension chief loses job after overpayment error

Milwaukee County demands pension repayments because of ‘buyback’ errors

Milwaukee County pension office reverses course 13 months later, denies man’s retirement

Whither MKE County: Time For A Dedicated Park District

By now all of you have read at least one article about the perceived risk of having the county executive sell Milwaukee County park land without input from the county board or the general public. The recent changes in state law that allow the county executive to sell non-park land without notice and without competitive bids begs the question of what is and what is not park land. The current interpretation of the law leans toward: it ain’t park land if it’s not zoned park land by each and every municipality that hosts a county park(s).

But in cased you missed it here’s something from the Shepherd Express, UrbanMilwaukee, and the good old Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

And even more recently we have the closing of the Mitchell Park Domes for reasons of safety for both patrons and employees as the deferred maintenance from both the Scott Walker and Chris Abele administrations has come home to roost so to speak. The Domes have gone from a weekend of closure to an unknown length of time or maybe permanently depending on who is doing the talking…and repairs have been guesstimated at up to $75 million.

And if you haven’t heard about that try these: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or Senator Chris Larson.

So maybe it’s time to take the county park system out of the hands of Milwaukee County and create an independent park district with its own dedicated funding…basically with the half percent sales tax that Milwaukee County voters approved years ago…I don’t know exactly what form that would take but if they have tax levy authority it should include an elected board…not an appointed one.

The value of the park system as a whole can not be overstated. Beyond the pure beauty the green areas bring to the county…add the recreation value…the tourism value…the business/employee recruitment value…the environmental impact…etc etc…the park system is a resource that we can not afford to squander.

Whither MKE County: Marina Dimitrijevic part 2

In case you missed the news today, as rumored previously, County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic has accepted the position of state director of the Wisconsin Working Families Party. The new party is affiliated with national Working Families Party and will support progressive candidates in non-partisan elections as well as progressive Democratic candidates.

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Dimitrijevic was enthusiastic about prospects for the organization, which is associated with the national Working Families Party that is now active in seven states and Washington, D.C. The party’s biggest success nationally was the role it played in the 2013 election of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We’re basically trying to take our state back, starting at the local level,” Dimitrijevic said. “We’re going to begin recruiting, training and running candidates who are champions of working people in the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.”

Eventually, the party plans to expand across the state, Dimitrijevic said.

The party won’t initially seek ballot status in Wisconsin. It aims to back slates of candidates in nonpartisan races as well as Democratic Party primaries. Nationally, the organization has backed causes such as increasing the minimum wage, boosting public services and providing more affordable housing.

In the spring election, the Working Families Party will recruit and train candidates in races for the Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee Common Council. The group plans to participate in legislative primaries next August.

Supervisor Dimitrijevic has not decided on whether she will run for re-election to the county board in 2016.

Whither MKE County: Dimitrijevic Gone?

JSOnline says that County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic is stepping down from the board chair effective Thursday July 30th:

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic is stepping down from the post she has held since April 2012.

On Friday, Dimitrijevic notified supervisors of a scheduled July 30 election for a new board chair to complete her current term that ends in 2016. The election for chair will be held during the regularly scheduled board meeting that day.

Dimitrijevic will continue to serve as chair until Thursday’s election, she says in correspondence to supervisors.

Though she did not give a reason for her decision, Dimitrijevic reminded supervisors that when Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 14 into law two years ago — cutting the power, resources and pay of the County Board — it “was the worst of times.”

Supervisor terms will change from four years to two with the April 2016 elections, under terms of the law. At that time, supervisors’ pay will drop by 50% to about $24,000 a year. Current chair pay of $71,412 will be cut in half.

“We cannot let this divisive law define us, or its supporters truly will have won,” Dimitrijevic says in the letter to supervisors.

Supervisors Willie Johnson Jr. and Theodore Lipscomb Sr. said Friday that they will compete for the chair position. Deadline for submitting a statement of candidacy is 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

I am not comfortable that Sups. Johnson or Lipscomb have what it takes to stand up to County Executive Abele…Sup. John Weishan might be a better choice.