Milwaukee board passes their type of reform

CntyBrdRMwThe Milwaukee County Board pushed ahead with its own reform package, sending County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic’s to the County Executive for his approval or veto on a 15-3 vote.


Dimitrijevic immediately praised the board’s actions, calling them bold and brave.


“This is the kind of local reform our constituents have demanded,” she said. “We listened to everyone – residents, state legislators and community leaders. This bold reform reflects the tone of local input.”


“It’s been said that we would never reform the Board, that we would never cut our salaries, and that we would never cut staff. But we’ve done it. This is indeed a new day on the County Board and we have shown leadership in approving this reform package.”


Since County Executive Chris Abele has come out publicly in favor of Assembly Bill 85 and its companion bill, Senate 95, it is assumed that the local Dimitrijevic plan will be vetoed. It that occurs, the county board will have the opportunity to override the veto at its May meeting.


The plan passed with Supervisors Deanna Alexander, John Weishan Jr and Steve Taylor voting against the measure.


Taylor acknowledged he was wrong to support the measure at the committee level on Monday, April, 22, saying after learning of the e-mails between the County Board and AFSCME in violation of Act 10 he knew he could no longer trust the chairwoman.


“As I previously stated, Act 10 is the law of the land and if members of the Board are willingly and knowingly violating this law, then how can I honestly trust that they will follow through with the proposed Board reforms.”


“This is the first time in my nine-year political career that I can recall where in less than 24 hours after voting on an issue I felt that I made a mistake,” Taylor continued. “Rarely in politics do you get a do-over and I decided to take full advantage of this opportunity, reverse my decision and vote against the Board’s reform proposal.”


“Due to what appears to have gone on behind closed doors over the past few months, my confidence in this body and its leadership has greatly eroded. That is why the only chance for real reform to take place in Milwaukee County is for it to occur in Madison,” he added.


Weishan wasn’t concerned with the leadership – he actually pledged his support for the leadership of the Board – but his disapproval with the Dimitrijevic plan was that there was a reform plan at all. He felt that the plan was “not real compromise and giving into the extortion from the bullys and gangsters in Madison.”


“You are surrendering to the extortionists in Madison,” he said. “What do people in Madison really know about Milwaukee County. This is just a continuation of the racist and bigoted views of Milwaukee County.”


In addition to passing their own reform plan, the County Board also passed a resolution panning both AB 85 and SB 95.


Supervisor Pat Jursik was the most adamant about stopping the legislation in Madison. She badmouthed Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, saying he didn’t do anything about reform when he was a county supervisor and was a “my way, or highway” kind of guy and that a representative whose district is not solely contained within Milwaukee County is suspect.


“Why is AB 85 being sponsored by a Representative whose district is half in Waukesha County?” Jursik asked. “Is this just a way to upset our balance of power so Waukesha can get our water? Is this just a way for Waukesha to get an arena to visit without having to pay for it? He (Sanfelippo) is just trying to upset the balance of power.”


Paranoid much, Pat?


Prior to the vote on the Dimitrijevic plan, Alexander submitted an substitute resolution, which would have asked the Legislature to maintain the four year terms of supervisors and extend that to all counties in the state; reduce pay to 80 percent of the “median household income” of county residents, or $34,717; allow supervisors to receive health benefits for themselves and allow supervisors to pay for any dependent coverage if desired; to give the Intergovernmental Cooperation Counsel only an non-binding advisory vote on contracts and to clarify the meaning of “day-to-day management” of a department.


She asked the the County Board hold a committee of the whole meeting by May 31 to discuss her plan and any others that may come forward before voting on any local plan.


The Legislature is considering the reduction of Milwaukee County Supervisor pay to $24,000, while the Dimitrijevic-backed reform plan would reduce pay to $40,500.


Alexander’s amendment was widely panned by her fellow board members.


“This is just her (Sup. Alexander) cynical attempt to back off her extreme position with the state and now claim middle ground since her constituents are in favor of local reform,” Sup. John Weishan Jr. said. “She’s just creating a future talking point. I think her substitute amendment is inappropriate and I question her character.”


Mayo, Sr. said he didn’t believe the board need reform or that there had been any “self-inflicted harm” to the board. He added that he didn’t want to be bullied by the state, the GMC (Greater Milwaukee Committee) or fellow supervisors.


Sup. Jim “Luigi” Schmidt didn’t support Alexander’s effort either saying he doesn’t think the board is dysfunctional, as the state has said.


“Are we dysfunctional?” he asked. “Yes, because we represent varied interests and are not homogeneous. But if you don’t agree with a board decision doesn’t mean were dysfunctional, it means we have a difference of opinion.”


Alexander explained she offered her plan, which seems to be a compromise between the state and the Dimitrijevic plan, in response to Senators asking why the county can’t meet them halfway.


“When I was at the hearings this week on SB95 the state talked about wanting local reform, but that they can’t back off completely,” Alexander said. “I’m doing my due diligence to do that, to find cooperation and not be run over and to look for a way to have all the sides heard.”


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