Hey, I Think We Found Another Miscalculation In The County Budget!

In an article posted to JSOnline this evening, writer Steve Schultze of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlines the staff cuts and budget cuts for the County Board that County Executive Chris Abele has proposed in his County Budget. Of course the majority of these cuts are required under the law passed by the Republicans earlier this year with the full support and consent of the county exec (Act 14). From JSOnline:

The Milwaukee County Board will lose three-fourths of its staff and almost 40% of its budget next year, when cuts to the board’s resources ordered under a new state law kick in.

At least, that’s what would happen under the budget proposed by County Executive Chris Abele, a prime backer of the law clamping limits on the board.

Supervisors said they may have some wiggle room to make some adjustments to what Abele suggested for the board’s budget.

And Abele’s budget could be targeted for cuts by the board, despite a provision in the new law its author said was aimed at preventing retaliatory action against Abele by the board at budget time.

Abele’s budget lops $2.5 million and 28 staff positions from the board for next year, leaving it $4.1 million and 11 staffers.

The reductions for the Milwaukee County Board are further moderated because nine staff jobs now under the board would shift to other departments — four research analysts, four committee clerks and a graphics designer.

Those staffers will still serve the board, though they’ll answer to other department heads.

Each of the 18 supervisors had authority to hire a legislative assistant this year, but several of those aides have left in the wake of Act 14. Abele’s budget calls for whittling the number of assistants to four, which would mean four or five supervisors would share one assistant.

The board will get a chance to rearrange the staffing suggested by Abele, said Supervisor Theo Lipscomb Sr.

Well, although that seems excessive it is within the confines of Act 14…but as Capper says…there is more…there always is more”

Abele cut the board’s budget by $45,000 below what the new state limit would have allowed. Lipscomb said that may be changed by the board.

“Yes, I think that was petty,” Lipscomb said.

Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said Abele’s extra $45,000 cut came as a surprise. She said it was never mentioned by Abele or other county staff.

“Didn’t he get everything he want with this Republican bill?” Dimitrijevic said, referring to Act 14.

Abele said he won’t veto the $45,000 if the board decides to add that.

$45,000? Really? “Yes, I think that is petty!

Miscalculations In County Budget Now Total $3 Million

So under legislation passed by his new cronies in Madison, County Executive Chris Abele got a hot shot County Controller who gets to check out the budget…and of course County Executive Abele has his own budget director whose total absolutely most important responsibility is to get the budget right…but instead we get a budget proposal from the County Executive’s office that is out of whack by $3 MILLION…so other than stabbing many of his original supporters in the back over his various anti-county stances…he can’t even do the job he was elected to do!

Here’s the original article from JSOnline that I stole the headline from!

Highlights here:

Errors of about $2.1 million were acknowledged by Abele’s budget staff Tuesday, while County Comptroller Scott Manske said he was to blame for another mistake of nearly $1 million.

The $2.1 million in errors were due to miscalculations, including understating the cost of Abele’s proposal to cut paratransit fares for frail elderly and disabled riders by $1, to $3 a ride; and low-balling the cost of salaries of deputies who work as bailiffs.

(County Controller) Manske apologized for overstating a fund transfer expected from airport revenue by $920,000, a figure relied on by Abele’s staff in crafting his 2014 budget.

Chris Abele: It’s Time To Start Acting Like A Leader

Yesterday The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s JSOnline website published two more articles that outline the dysfunction that continues to plague Milwaukee County government. Now I am not holding the county board blameless in this, but post Act 14, the county executive has consolidated powers…something he fully supported to the detriment of county residents…yet he continues to pout inside the courthouse instead of reaching out to the board. It would be truly beneficial if he would finally act like the county leader he seems to want to be.

First article talked about the long drawn out attempt to come to a working agreement between the tenants at the lakefront War Memorial building. After the two parties couldn’t work out their differences, County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic got involved and asked former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske to mediate a settlement. The resulting settlement has the approval of the veterans groups at the War Memorial, the approval of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the unanimous support of the Milwaukee County Board. Why he is unable to get behind the agreement is totally inexplicable to nearly everyone except County Exec Abele:

County Executive Chris Abele said Wednesday he wants to reach a compromise to avoid vetoing a deal he says is too costly on upgrading the War Memorial Center.

Abele had insisted on freezing county support at no more than $1.3 million a year, some $300,000 less than a wide-ranging deal approved last month by the County Board on funding and management of the center. The center is owned by the county and its space is shared by veterans groups and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The board unanimously approved a deal that calls for a guaranteed $1.6 million in annual support from the county for a decade.

In the face of an almost-certain veto override, Abele suggested in an email to County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic Friday that she work with him on a compromise figure and a shorter guaranteed funding period.

“If we could do this, perhaps we could even find money to spend on actual services for veterans,” Abele wrote.

Dimitrijevic has not responded to the offer, but instead sought publicity for her call for Abele to back down and sign the measure approved by the board July 25, Abele said.

“She can talk all she wants on harmony,” Abele said, reacting to Dimitrijevic’s urging Abele to agree with the board’s stance. “I sent her an email and asked about compromise on this and haven’t heard back from her.”

Dimitrijevic, in an emailed response, said the board-approved version already was a compromise between the War Memorial and the art museum. She didn’t directly respond to Abele’s request for further changes to the deal.

Abele has called the $1.6 million county aid figure “a freaking insult to veterans and frankly to taxpayers.”

Now keep in mind that the county owns the facility…and would ultimately be responsible for its maintenance if this agreement is nullified. So the board is certainly eager to find a resolution.

But it’s fine and dandy for Exec Abele to call out Chairwoman Dimitrijevic for being uncooperative…but it looks like he is the one who doesn’t get communication here. He sent her an email? They work in the same building…he can’t call her…I bet he has her phone numbers…he can’t walk down the hall and talk to her? Has he reached out to any of the board. A leader doesn’t send an email out and sit back and await a response…that’s a manager and a poor one at that. Exec Abele, you won the Act 14 war, you lost this battle…go down the hall or get on the phone…talk it out and stop procrastinating until the last minute to sign the agreement.

Oh, and the crack about an insult to the veterans…dissing an agreement they negotiated and reducing the amount of county support they requested isn’t a freaking insult to veterans involved? Keep a civil tongue sir!

The second article talks about Exec Abele’s being fearful about seeking confirmation for his new County Parks Director John Dargle. Mr. Dargle has been on the job since May of this year and is technically the acting parks director until the board confirms his appointment. Now technically the board is on hiatus until September but there were plenty of opportunities before the summer break to submit a request for confirmation.

County Executive Chris Abele has held off seeking County Board confirmation for his choice for parks director out of fear John Dargle could become another victim of board backlash over Abele’s support for a new state law cutting the board’s power and budget.

“Before asking supervisors to confirm (Dargle), we wanted to make sure they are familiar with him and his vision,” Brendan Conway, Abele’s spokesman, said Wednesday. “We also want to make sure John was not caught up in some of the other actions the board took against other appointees this summer.”

The board ousted two Abele appointees in July. Corporation Counsel Kimberly Walker was fired by the board, an action upheld in an override of a veto by Abele. The board also voted not to confirm Kathleen Eilers, Abele’s choice to head the county’s Behavioral Health Division.

Abele has attributed those moves to a backlash over his advocacy of Act 14, the state law reining in the board’s reach. Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has denied those ousters were payback.

The explanation for the delay by Abele in seeking a board confirmation vote on Dargle came in response to a letter from Supervisor Gerry Broderick Wednesday saying it was high time that Abele referred the Dargle nomination for a confirmation vote by the board.

Broderick, chairman of the board’s parks committee, noted that Abele hired John Dargle Jr. in May as parks director, but had not asked the board yet to confirm him. That means Dargle is technically serving as acting parks director.

“With the end of summer now approaching, it seems appropriate that we see his nomination before the committee by Sept. 17” so the full County Board can act on it Sept. 26, Broderick wrote.

Now, all I have available is what I read in the paper, but if Supervisor Broderick has to seek out Exec Abele requesting that he submit Mr. Dargle for confirmation, the county executive isn’t doing his job. Apparently he has not made his intentions known to Supervisor Broderick and by inference I would guess he hasn’t contacted anyone else on the board or the parks committee. He didn’t even email anyone this time? Has he introduced Mr. Dargle to the board members? A meet and greet with coffee and donuts some morning?

Yes I understand that the County Exec is reticent to submit a new hire for confirmation if he isn’t sure of the result…or as sure as one can be in any confirmation process…but has he been lobbying the board on Mr. Dargle’s behalf? It sounds like he’s done nothing so far. That isn’t leadership either. If Mr. Dargle is the right candidate, get out there in the courthouse and persuade the board member.s

It’s become clear that County Executive Abele would rather be an administrator or manager than a leader…but now that Act 14 has given the exec’s office more authority than is wise…it’s time he acted like a leader!! And leaders get out and confront the issues…negotiate with their opponents…and proactively do what is right for the residents of Milwaukee County!

Now here’s an old Lyndon Johnson type of idea…how about CALLING County Board Chairwoman Dimitrijevic and offer to sign the War Memorial agreement in exchange for confirmation of your new parks director! Just might work!!

Whither MKE County: Sheldon Lubar Will Show You Whither You Mindless Plotters

Mr Sheldon Lubar, Milwaukee business icon and one of the Machiavellian triumvirate behind the gutting of Milwaukee County elective government apparently is in a snit about the County Board’s firing of County Corporation Counsel Kimberly Walker. Whether you support the boards action or not, they are within their legal right to remove Ms. Walker from office…and if the board lacks confidence in Ms. Walker’s abilities…well she has to go.

Apparently in high dudgeon, Mr. Lubar wrote to Supervisor Theo Lipscomb, “you and the rest of your mindless plotters of 13 supervisors should be ashamed of yourselves”. Well, like any fine area citizen, Mr. Lubar is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he continues:

Lubar said the firing was done to get back at County Executive Chris Abele, who had a key role in advocating for the new state law curbing the authority and resources of the County Board. Lubar also pressed for the change.

“Your conduct is unfortunately more evidence of the dysfunction of the County Board”

Lubar criticized Dimitrijevic as “a child… She has no maturity.” He compared her unfavorably to her predecessor as chairman, Lee Holloway.

Lubar’s letter said, “the solution must be further change” and pledged to work to downsize the board. He said he had no specific plans to seek further legislation to cut the size of the board.

So, for supposedly acting petty and smug by firing Ms. Walker, the board was getting back at Executive Abele. How totally dysfunctional…so his response it to get back at the board by threatening to continue to work to downsize them? Mr. Lubar, it’s time to stand down…you are petty and hypocritical and just a wee bit dysfunctional!

It’s A Done Deal: Scott Walker Signs Bill to Gut Milwaukee County Board

Governor Scott Walker found his way to Milwaukee today and signed Assembly Bill 85 to gut the power and authority of Milwaukee County’s Board of Directors:

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday Milwaukee County government should function more efficiently, under a County Board reform bill Walker signed into law.

“This allows us to empower the taxpayer,” Walker said at a bill-signing ceremony at Serb Hall on Milwaukee’s south side. “It saves money for the taxpayers…and will result in government that is more responsive and efficient.”

The measure cuts the power and resources of the County Board, while beefing up the authority of County Executive Chris Abele.

Supervisors would lose power on contracts, labor negotiations and land sales, under the measure. The County Board’s budget also drops by two-thirds, though some staff and other costs previously counted as part of the board’s current $6.6 million budget are excluded from a new funding cap for the board.

Supervisor terms will change from four years to two, starting with the 2016 elections, under the law.

And supervisor pay would drop by 50% to about $24,000 a year, if voters agree in a 2014 referendum. Only that provision is subject to voter approval.

Walker stressed the importance of the referendum as giving voters the power to decide whether to in effect reduce the job of Milwaukee County supervisor to part time.

“”This allows us to empower the taxpayer,” Walker said…” What, you just took away authority and power from my elected representative which in effect removes my personal direct access to that authority and you call that empowering? Really? I am not feeling it!

And here’s a good one:

The County Board has voted to hire an outside attorney to review the legislation for a possible court challenge.

Walker scoffed at the notion of a court challenge.

Scoffed you say? It’s not like any of his previous legislation hasn’t ended up in court…aina?

And I see a very prominent County Executive Chris Abele looking like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas…Democrat my foot!

Walker Signs AB85

Photograph by Michael Sears and appears on JSONLINE with the article linked here and above.

Whither Milwaukee County: Why Hasn’t Scott Walker Signed THE Bill?

I would have thought that Governor Walker signing Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s Assembly Bill 85 to neuter the Milwaukee County Board was a slam dunk. Or is the governor really too busy jet setting from GOP enclave to GOP enclave?

But really, I would have expected an nearly instantaneous signing with tons of fanfare and rousing high fives all round…

So is there still some back room last minute dealing going on? Or is the governor carefully studying the bill with pen in hand crafting a Frankenstein bill after his own image via line item veto?

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.