My intention was to return from vacation relaxed and raring to go…and start a series on Milwaukee County government. A little history, a little discussion on what it does for us now, some thoughts on the future services it needs to provide, interviewing county government officials, county residents, and other interested parties, and just generally open a discussion on what we all expect from our Milwaukee County government.
Well I still intend to do that…but things on the ground are moving pretty fast and I am going to have to respond and discuss things as they occur…along with the regular series.
This past week there have been dozens of conversations on Facebook and the blogs as a result of articles and editorials in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel related to rookie State Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s (R – West Allis – and former Milwaukee County Supervisor) proposed legislation to reduce the Milwaukee County Board to part time status…and the support his half baked plan is getting from County Executive Chris Abele.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also weighed in on the issue via an editorial on January 8th. And true to form MJS looks to be solidly behind reductions at the board.
In the next few days, I’ll visit these articles in more detail and add my two cents to the pot…but here are just a few comments to get the process started.
As you’d expect these discussions are all over the board in support of reducing board size, going to a part time board, or in favor of the status quo. Discussions compare apples to oranges…other counties to Milwaukee county…without any basic facts actually in evidence. And in fact some investigation on how other counties operate is certainly part of the equation. And often saving money is a major factor in the discussion…well there are a lot of ways to save money…will this be a penny wise pound foolish action? There is talk of vendettas and power grabs and such.
What there isn’t any discussion about is GOVERNANCE and COUNTY SERVICES? I am sorry if I am repeating myself and I know that I am…but the questions…the discussion…should aim to resolve what services we need or expect from county government. And how much government does that require. It won’t be that simple to determine but it is basic common sense. We may find that a full time board is necessary but maybe fewer supervisors, we may find that a part time board will work just fine, or we may find we need a larger board. Or we may find we need to redo/rethink the whole shebang, top down: board, exec, sheriff, etc.
We’ll see where it leads and it will be interesting…and I hope it will be fun as well.