Abele vetoes county government audit, citing delays to reform


County Executive Chris Abele on Monday vetoed an attempt by the County Board to seek a state or independent audit of county government.

The board approved the move last month after Abele and the Greater Milwaukee Committee said they backed draft legislation to slash pay of supervisors and make a major cut in the County Board’s budget. Some supervisors have called for a broader review of county government, saying a greater range of efficiency moves should be considered.

Abele described the audit attempt as a delaying tactic.

In his veto message, Abele said another audit was unnecessary because three previous audits – one by the state and two by the county – already “touched on this issue.” A 2004 audit found the board’s budget and staff were above the national average, but “despite this, the County Board did not meaningfully reform,” Abele stated.


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8 thoughts on “Abele vetoes county government audit, citing delays to reform

  1. I was going to hit this later today…but my main question is…what is County Executive Abele trying to hide? The board recommended audit would include his office as well as all other departments.

  2. I get the whole “he’s trying to hide something!” line of attack, but it just doesn’t stick in this case…

    As has been pointed out, there have been three audits (of everything, including CE office) in 10 years and very little action has resulted. Why go through the motions to get another report that will be fairly similar to the last one? And why is an audit such a sudden priority anyways? If one was really needed, why did it only come in response to the Sanfelippo reform bill?

    What action, if any, did the Board take on the LAST audit and why does anyone think they’d do anything meaningful with ANOTHER audit?

    So the political reasons for the Board wanting another audit are pretty obvious to everyone, I don’t particularly think there is a huge amount of practical reason to be doing it though.

    The Board has nearly 40 staff. There doesn’t need to be another audit to point out that’s out of line with other similar governance bodies – especially those that are “full time”.

    1. Dan, nothing is static…the exec, the board, the environment have all changed significantly in the past ten years. I don’t see an issue with another audit…they should be standard operating procedure once per an execs four year term at minimum. Whatever the impetus it isn’t a harmful activity and the public might actually being paying attention this time.

      Or instead we are supposed to sit still and let Rep Sanfelippo and County Exec Abele and the state legislature dictate the form of MKE County government? The limited and extreme choices offered in Rep Sanfelippo’s legislation and the ‘the voters get to decide via referendum’ is the grand canard.

  3. I think the impetus is very important. If the reason this is happening is only in reaction to the events, then it doesn’t mean the Board is very interested in an actual audit, they’re interested in a political response to Sanfelippo. If they were interested in an audit before this all came about, then I would have much greater faith that the results of the audit would be taken seriously.

    If little has been done (and the 2004 downsizing wasn’t a result of an audit, it was the result of pressure from the pension scandal) based on the three previous audits, why do you think that anything will be done this time? The public is burned out from committees, reports and audits. I think that has showed through in the municipalities where a referendum was held on this a year ago.

    I hear where you’re coming from, I just think this is being done for purely political reasons, and that matters very much to me.

    About your last point, County government has had decades to do something itself, and many current Board members have been in office long enough to institute some kind of change themselves. They haven’t and instead have been more than happy to kick the can down the road while our transit system remains an expensive joke, our parks fall apart and people die every few months while in County custody.

    It doesn’t take an audit to take a look around and realize Milwaukee County is not in great shape. And it’s not just Walker or Abele’s fault.

    1. The 125 people who showed up at Supervisor Haas’ listening session would seem to indicate that Milwaukee Co is taking their government pretty seriously…and it was interesting that Rep. Sanfelippo thought enough about it to show up as well…more later when I get time to address this in more detail.

  4. I think it’s great people are showing up to meetings like the one last night. But if we’re back to making the case for what “the people” want done, are 100 people who support the Board & were able to show up last night more important than the people in nearby Cudahy who voted 82% in favor last year?

    When a less friendly crowd shows up in Tosa tomorrow night, will their input be as important, or will we be back to “they only represent X% of the voting population so their opinion doesn’t count” argument?

    I’m not trying to pin you down on this or anything Ed, so don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way. I just find the shifting justification for supporting what the Board is doing fascinating.

    1. shifting opinion? Although I didn’t suggest an audit (and as I’ve said I don’t think it’s a bad idea), I called for these town hall listening sessions long before they were announced. And I didn’t state whether the crowd last night was in favor or against…I was just countering your position that the public is burned out.


      “At this point I would suggest a new round of Chats with the Chair that wholly focus on the current functions and responsibilities of county government. If we are going to be forced to debate and to vote on the size of the board, we should make sure we have voters who are versed in county government.

      And I would suggest that all county supervisors hold similar town hall meetings in their districts as soon as possible. There seems to be a great disconnect between the county and the voters…and that can be easily rectified before it’s too late.”

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