When MPS Government Bureaucrats Attack The First Amendment

BACKGROUND

I’m a parent of a Milwaukee Public School child.  This is a choice that I made because I believe in the city of Milwaukee and I believe in public education.  This year, I am also an officer at my school’s PTA.  For those who aren’t familiar with how a PTA works, they are an advocacy group for children.  They’re traditionally established at a school, but they’re an outside organization, just like a scouting troupe or other organization that meets in a school.  They are typically registered as a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity.  They provide programming for children and families, and function under their bylaws, which are recognized by the school.

A public school is a government unit filled with government employees and overseen by a number of standards–but most policy decisions come from the elected School Board.

In the mid 1990s, the School Board passed a policy regarding fundraising of outside parent groups, Administrative Policy 7.22.  The policy is very vague, and there are multiple interpretations of how it should be applied, and different school principals have read it in different ways.  (Also, keep in mind, it wasn’t until this year that some bureaucrat decided this policy needed to be enforced.)  In some schools, the principal is saying it limits parent groups to 2 fundraisers per school year.

ISSUES

This policy raises two important Constitutional issues:  Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.

The PTA is an outside association.  Its own policies frown upon using children as entrepreneurs–which would seem to be the intent of the policy.  But if a parent group sells hotdogs at an open house, and sells t-shirts with school logos on it, even though no child is doing anything–the school will count that as two fundraisers and prohibit any further fundraising.  So, if I wanted to have a restaurant night fundraiser (where typically they donate a percentage of the receipts to the PTA), even if I don’t use any school resources, it would violate the policy.  The new enforcement of this policy by the district could cut some PTA budgets by 75%–severely impacting their ability to get their message out, while at the same time interfering in the legal activities of a private association.

It is very clear that the solution is the the School Board to address this policy and ensure that the policy does not run afoul of the first amendment.  Protecting children from having to do fundraising is a worthwhile goal, but the current enforcement of the policy is harmful to children.  It shows disregard for our laws, and it inhibits the parents from doing their job as part of an advocacy organization.  In a district that already has so many budgetary shortfalls, it is absurd to push a policy that takes away resources from an organization that funds student activities, scholarships, and is the front line in one of the pro-ported goals of the district–getting parents and families involved with education.

 

Whither Manitowoc County: Board Passes Resolution in Support of Milwaukee County Board

Quite frankly I am surprised that it has taken this long for other county boards to take notice and then take action:

MANITOWOC, Wis. —The Manitowoc County supervisors have passed a resolution criticizing Republican-backed legislation that would weaken the power of the Milwaukee County Board.

Manitowoc County is three counties north of Milwaukee County, but its supervisors weighed in this week to express their disapproval over the resolution that takes away resources and authority from their Milwaukee County counterparts. They passed a resolution 20-4 opposing the state’s legislation.

The resolution was written by Supervisor Jim Brey, who said the Wisconsin Legislature’s action violates the principle of home rule, the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter reported.

He said “there would be hell to pay” if state legislators tried to tell Manitowoc County supervisors how to do their jobs, and that the action opens the door to the state micromanaging county governments.

WEDC Pay Ain’t Enough To Keep Talent But Proposed Supervisor Pay Is No Problem!

Last week Zach wrote about Governor Walker’s prominent policy initiative, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and their inability to retain qualified staff…particularly a Chief Financial Officer.

He linked to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that explained the situation and included this throw away quotation from Rep. Jeff Stone:

Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), another member of the WEDC board, said the news was unfortunate but understandable. He said it has been difficult to attract the kind of highly skilled financial officer needed for the job, since such candidates can typically earn higher wages in the private sector.

But the Republican powers that be in Madison expect Milwaukee County to attract supervisory candidates that are highly skilled when we cut their salary and remove their benefits? Just sayin’.

State lawmakers to host public hearing on changes to local control in Milwaukee County

From the email from the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus;

State lawmakers to host public hearing on changes to local control in Milwaukee County

MADISON – Local residents are invited to share their opinions on the state-imposed changes to the Milwaukee County Board at a public hearing this Tuesday in Milwaukee. The hearing starts at 5:00 p.m. and will be held at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vilet Street.

After Senate Republicans failed to hold a committee hearing in the community that they are forcing to change, local Legislative representatives of Milwaukee County are holding an opportunity for citizens in Milwaukee County who were unable to attend the midday Madison hearing to voice their opinion on the bill forcing state-imposed changes to the Milwaukee County Board.

WHAT: Milwaukee County hearing on the attack on local control

WHO: Sen. Chris Larson, Sen. Tim Carpenter, Sen. Nikiya Harris, Sen. Lena C. Taylor, Rep. Josh Zepnick, Rep. Sandy Pasch, Rep. Mandela Barnes, Rep. Evan Goyke, Rep. John Richards, Rep. Christine Sinicki, Rep. Daniel Riemer, Rep. LaTonya Johnson, Rep. Leon Young, Rep. Fred Kessler and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa

WHERE: Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vilet Street

WHEN: Tuesday, April 30, 5:00 p.m.

Alderman Bob Donovan Said $11.55 An Hour Not The Kind Of Jobs We Want In Milwaukee

Just a quick hit for a Sunday morning…in an article in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rick Romell reviews the reasons that BuySeasons didn’t bring it’s 450 permanent (300 of them full time) jobs to Milwaukee from Waukesha County.

One of the main roadblocks was Alderman Bob Donovan who thought the jobs just didn’t, well, pay enough. Despite the fact that the average hourly rate for BuySeasons employees as $11.55 at the time. That comes out to $24,024 per year…which just happens to be the per capita income for Milwaukee County…and wait for it…the proposed annual salary for Milwaukee County supervisors via Assembly Bill 85.

Public hearing will allow Milwaukee County residents an opportunity to speak out on County governance reforms

Intergovernmental Relations Committee to Hold Public Hearing on Local Reform Measures

4 p.m. Monday, April 22, 2013

Milwaukee County Courthouse
901 N. 9th St., Room 203 R

Public hearing will allow Milwaukee County residents an opportunity to speak out on County governance reforms

(MILWAUKEE) – The County Board’s Committee on Intergovernmental Relations will hold a public hearing on local reforms on Monday, April 22, 2013, at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, 901 N. 9th St., in Room 203R.

Those interested in reviewing the details of the reform package can access it online via Milwaukee County CLIC (County Legislative Information Center) athttp://county.milwaukee.gov/CLIC.

The reform package (File No. 13- 397) is sponsored by Supervisors Dimitrijevic, Lipscomb, Romo West, Cullen, Jursik, Borkowski, Bowen, Schmitt, Broderick, and Haas.
Under the proposed reform package, the budget of the County Board would be cut by 50 percent and Supervisors’ salaries would be cut by 20 percent.

Other reforms include:
Clarification of roles and responsibilities
Independent Intergovernmental Relations
Streamline processes
Follow-up on audit for additional countywide and operational efficiencies

Saturday Open Thread: AB 85 vs. OUR Milwaukee County

You’ve all had plenty of time to digest the media coverage and dozens of op ed pieces in favor of and against Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s Assembly Bill 85 to reform Milwaukee County Government…and by now you’ve had a chance to read about the County Board’s own plan to reduce costs and salaries and request to downsize the board itself…but you’ve all been amazing silent on the topic here on Blogging Blue…so now I am asking you to comment:

OUR Milwaukee County: Where Are The Next Listening Sessions?

Here is an excerpt for the February 8th Milwaukee County Board press release announcing the OUR Milwaukee County initiative:

“We are delivering on the promise of government reform discussion that is local and inclusive,” said Chairwoman Dimitrijevic. “We are eager to listen to our constituents – the people who live throughout Milwaukee County – to hear their ideas for efficiency and effectiveness.”

The initiative, which includes a consistent agenda designed to spark discussion and debate, is set to include a series of town hall meetings in all 18 Supervisory districts throughout the months of February and March as well as a nighttime public hearing in March.

I am only aware of four listening sessions so far and tomorrow is the last day of March 2013. There were rumors of one more and Supervisor Taylor has been heard to say he wasn’t going to hold one since he knows how his constituents feel…but I think we are owed 13 more listening sessions…or better yet a county convention!

Whither MKE County: Open Letter to Hold AB 85 Hearings In MKE County

March 25th, 2013

State Rep. Tyler August, Chair

Assembly Committee on Government Operations

Room 119 West, State Capitol

Chairman August:

We write to you regarding Assembly Bill 85, which deals specifically and solely with the structure of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. AB 85 is sweeping in its scope, proposing very serious measures that would profoundly change the shape and role of the Board in Milwaukee County government.

In light of this specific, sole focus and the seriousness of the proposed changes, we believe that the public review process for AB 85 should be made easily accessible to all residents of Milwaukee County. We therefore respectfully request that you hold a public hearing on AB 85 in Milwaukee County itself. A bill that will impact local control in only one place should be reviewed, at least in part, in the locale where the impact of the legislation will be felt.

What is more, a Milwaukee hearing would allow County residents to give comments and suggestions in a timelier manner so the committee members could consider them before voting. This would make the process on this bill much fairer, since the executive session on AB 85 has been scheduled for April 11th, only one day after the Madison public hearing on April 10th.

We would be glad to assist in finding an accessible site for a hearing if that would be of help to your office.

Sincerely,

State Rep. Brett Hulsey State Rep. Christine Sinicki

State Rep. Janis Ringhand

Whither MKE County: Why a Two Year Term Instead of Four?

One of the major provisions of Assembly Bill 85 to blow up county government as we know it…is the change in county supervisors terms from four years to two. What advantage do the powers that be see in a two year term? Keep supervisors off balance by having to constantly run for reelection? Quite frankly four year terms with half of them up for re-election every two year cycle seems pretty rational to me.

Section 3. 59.10 (2) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
21 59.10 (2) (b) Election; term. Supervisors For an election that is held before
222016, supervisors shall be elected for 4-year terms at the election to be held on the
23first Tuesday in April next preceding the expiration of their respective terms, and
24shall take office on the 3rd Monday in April following their election. For an election
25that is held in 2016 and thereafter, supervisors shall be elected for 2-year terms at
1the election to be held on the first Tuesday in April next preceding the expiration of
2their respective terms, and shall take office on the 3rd Monday in April following
3their election.

What am I missing here? Why are two year terms important to these people?