Murphy’s Law: David Clarke the False Conservative

This is worth a read…

If you’re a numbers-crunching fiscal conservative like Abele, one obvious place to look for cuts is the Sheriff’s Department. In the decade prior to Abele’s election, the sheriff’s  budget had risen 61 percent, far faster than any other county department. It was something of a sacred cow under former county exec Scott Walker, rising steadily while the parks budget stayed flat at 0 percent and county transit declined by 8 percent.

The ironic thing is that Clarke claims to be a conservative and he’s at odds with a fiscal conservative. Clarke’s final 2012 budget spent $4.3 million in overtime, increasing total expenditures to $77.7 million. Yet Clarke essentially declares that as a constitutional officer, he can spend whatever he wants. He’s doesn’t just reject (without explanation) Abele’s detailed run-down of how the department might be more efficiently run, but threatens that Abele will “have to sue me in court” to force Clarke to accept any budget cut. His making this claim, moreover, about a budget that barely cuts overall funding for the sheriff.

Call me a wonk, but I think the fact that Clarke claims the right to spend whatever he wants of the taxpayers money is of considerably more importance than whether he thinks Abele is a little man or has penis envy. This is not Reality TV, but a policy issue with large ramifications for taxpayers. Maybe it’s time the media reported it that way.



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