Appeasement is not Reform

The Milwaukee County Board is under seige. Attacked from talk radio, County Executive Abele, a former colleague of theirs turned State Representative, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the County Board has pushed through a change that would reduce their pay to about $40,000.

That’s not reform — that’s appeasement.

Reducing the salary of the board is pure ignorance. If there are supervisors who don’t do their job they do not deserve to be paid. The work is there. Districts are now large and each Supervisor represents over 50,000 people. If they’re not dealing with constituent calls they should be doing park walks, constituent contacts, attending district meetings, working with their colleagues to draft common sense ordinances or eliminating ordinances that don’t make any sense anymore. There are roads to be evaluated, projects to be assessed and community outreach to be done.

If they’re too lazy to do those things, they don’t deserve to be in office. If they are doing those things, they are underpaid. It is not for the lazy ones to agree to a lower salary for the work horses.

I have strong views that a district deserves the representation they have. You vote for a person who doesn’t work hard for you, you forfeit the ability to complain about the effectiveness of the whole body. It’s just that simple. Now we have a County board that is going to make $40,000 next term. That may seem like a fair amount of money to some people, but will it really generate good people to do the work? In the private sector that would be an unequivocal “NO”. People who have real life experiences and put the time in to do research are not going to want to work for that salary. I’m sorry for those who are offended by this statement but I understand the marketplace. What will now happen is that if qualified people run for the job, they will only dedicate themselves to the job part time.

Studies have been done that show that the amount of money a family must make so they do not have money arguments is $70,000. I’m not saying to increase the salary that much. I am saying that there are people on that board who work hard and deserve to at very least maintain their salary of $50,000 per year. To the folks who don’t make that type of salary and look at it with jelousy, here’s a little hard lesson for you — make better decisions in your life. I worked as a County Supervisor for 6 years. At that time I enjoyed the challenges, the constituent work and interactions and working with my collegues. I would not have given that experience up willingly but I will say this — it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, it make me more cynical, some would say seasoned. Yes, I follow my instincts now as a business owner more than I ever have. If it doesn’t feel right now, it doesn’t happen. I have no problem telling a customer that we are probably not a good match if I have a bad feeling about it.

But that’s not how the County Board is working.

It’s more like the blind leading the blind.

Amusement. That’s the best way to explain the clowning around that is happening on the County Board these days. They’re passing resolutions in support of things they have no control over. It’s a typical union tactic to coerce Supervisors to support things that have little hope of passing. In fact, it’s pretty much the M.O. of decertified AFSCME union chief Chris Abelson to push for legislation that the county board has no real hope of impacting. All of that pressure, for a lousy campaign donation of about $400 and the promise of campaign volunteers that never show up? Seriously? Are the county board members really that stupid?

Apparently yes. They voted in Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic as chair. Marina, as she prefers to be known, is an approachable person who has made some smart decisions but has coupled them with facepalm moments. Reporters have said that she attempted to negotiate some sort of contract or agreement with a decertified union. Bonehead Abelson confirms this. Then she denied it. Now I’ll say this — Abeleson’s words are like the slimiest politician. He would sell out his own mother if he thought it would preserve himself and his own job. If he thinks it will give him some time in his job, collecting his salary, it will pass his weaselly pencil lips. Nothing that comes out of Abelson’s mouth should be viewed as true. If reporters are using his word as their primary source, they’re doing a great job honoring the Wisconsin tradition of former Senator Joe McCarthy and the yellow journalism that he was the beneficiary of.

But why has this happened? I shouldn’t even have to say this, but it is happening because there is not a culture of county legislative experience on the board. The great republican purge of 2002 made that possible. It’s the same thing for the County Executive. Poor little Chris Abele, a man with no private sector experience aside from running the family charity and deciding where to dole out an endowment here or there, won by buying the election. Then again, JFK was said to have bought his election so what does it matter?

It actually matters a fairly good amount since Abele has no experience working and playing well with others. I will admit that at first I thought it was just that he had poor communication skills but it goes deeper than that. Lacking any legislative experience, he has no respect for what goes into the legislative process. By eroding the power in another branch of government, his own power is increased. Is this a good thing? Probably not.

So what should have been done? Dimitrijevic should have stepped down as Chair. She was the one who allegedly negotiated against what was clearly the intention of the Governor sponsored Act 10. Since by statute, Counties are more like departments of the state than individual entities, she has to follow the rules. If she doesn’t, there are consequences.



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