Whither MKE County: The Arrogant Lie That Is A Part Time County Board

There is not one word or mention in the Milwaukee County government reform bill (AB 85) introduced by Representative Joe Sanfelippo about a part time board…not one. Instead the bill limits salaries for county board members at the annual per capita income of Milwaukee County which is currently approximately $24,000.

Per Wikipedia, per capita income is defined as: Per capita income, more simply known as income per person, is the mean income within an economic aggregate such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate (such as GDP or Gross national income) and dividing it by the total population. That could seem like a reasonable amount since it implies that every man, woman and child in the county earns $24,000 per year…but we know that isn’t true!

And that’s where the arrogance and lies start. Representative Joe Sanfelippo and his co-signers, County Executive Chris Abele, the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, local business magnate Sheldon Lubar, and the Greater Milwaukee Committee all know that $24,000 is a pittance for full time work and automatically assume they will get what they pay for…part time money for a part time board.

But what about all of the real people in Milwaukee who actually work full time and work hard at their jobs full time, who make $24,000 or less each year? Shouldn’t they be insulted that the power brokers and plutocrats and business mavens think their incomes are part time wages? And it probably wasn’t a co-incidence that Rep. Sanfelippo’s first rumored cut at this bill set board salaries at $15,000 per year…basically minimum wage at a full time job.

The new pay rate is less than the median income for Wisconsin (according to the Census Bureau: Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount) which currently is about $52,000 compared to the current board salary of $50,679. The current county median of $43,000.

So why is everyone assuming that the board will be reduced to part time just because the pay rate changes? Because they can’t imagine that anyone would run for the board unless they are at least as well heeled as Representative and former supervisor Joe Sanfelippo or County Executive Chris Abele? Because they don’t think of $24,000 as real money? You know, $24,000 would look pretty good to some one making $15,000 right now and they are probably used to not having benefits. And why do they think that someone looking to get their foot on the first rung of the political ladder wouldn’t find a way to make $24,000 work for them?? County supervisor has proven a great stepping stone to higher office…and these are people who could still make hay being a thorn in the executive’s side.

I don’t see the board becoming a part time body because of the change in pay, if it actually becomes effective…


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