Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Milwaukee County Supervisors & The Coaliton of "No!"

I think an argument can be made that the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors should be full-time positions. One could also argue that the number of districts, currently 18, could be reduced.

Regardless of this, more and more, it appears the Board is uninformed, petty and counterproductive. I get the fact that many of the Supervisors seem to have chips on their shoulders concerning County Executive Abele. Political representatives are allowed to have differences of opinion. But, at the end of the day, their objective should be to enact policy that benefits their constituents. Blocking and stonewalling legislation as a figurative middle-finger to Abele is childish and wasteful.

I get it, I have disagreements with Abele on some of his policy opinions. But, it seems, even when the Board of Supervisors would seem to be in 99.9% agreement with an Abele proposal, they still find some convoluted reason to block passage. Just saying "No!" without an explicit reason is moronic and immature.

This is the tactic Republicans have used against Democrats for the last two decades and it's merely caused gridlock with no discernible benefit for the public. In fact, it's the same reason more Federal dollars haven't been used for public infrastructure and stimulus programs. Deciding to just blindly block anything the other side proposes is not the action of a good public servant. This is the type of behavior of cultish apparatchiks who have no real concern for our well-being.

Bruce Murphy details the rampant hypocrisy and asinine actions of the Supervisors in Is a County Wheel Tax Needed?
Besides Lipscomb, supervisors Steve Taylor and Deanna Alexander have suggested they would oppose the wheel tax. To date not one board member has offered a positive word about it. “It’s frustrating,” says Sup. Sheldon Wasserman in describing the stance of board members. “They want the services but they won’t pay for them. Some of the no-sayers (on the wheel tax) are adding budget amendments to spend more money.” ...
Lipscomb, in an email response to my questions, made clear his antagonism to the county executive: “Abele spent $5 million on an anti-tax message this spring only to turn around and introduce a new $60 wheel tax. Then, when given an opportunity to more fully explain his new tax proposals in public (October 3rd), Abele abruptly left the table before many questions could be answered – that makes it a pretty tough sell.” Lipscomb predicts the board will come up with a better budget, adding, “we have a history of adopting a more responsible and balanced budget than the Executive originally proposed.”
It would take a book (and not a very enjoyable one) to analyze who was right in all the disagreements between the board and Abele, but it’s worth noting that Lipscomb and his colleagues have contributed to the ongoing budget shortfall by approving the GO Pass, a free bus pass for senior citizens and disabled riders that was never requested by them and that is now projected by run a $6.1 million shortfall in 2016. The problems with this program have been well documented in columns by me and by Jannene.
Thus, the Supervisors counterproposal, Milwaukee County Board considers $30 wheel tax.
"This recognizes the fact that we simply can't say no to a wheel tax," Lipscomb said Monday at a meeting of the board's finance committee. Lipscomb and other supervisors acknowledged there is no other new revenue source available to help pay costs of transit services and major transportation capital projects in the 2017 budget...

The committee's action went against the advice of County Comptroller Scott Manske. In a memo to the County Board, Manske said the revenue from a $60 vehicle registration fee is needed "to maintain the county's portion of the local transportation systems, including highways, the bus system and parkways." 
Even with a $60 wheel tax starting in 2017, Manske said, revenue will not be sufficient to cover transit costs in just a few years without fare increases and route reductions. 
Abele recommended a $60 wheel tax to provide $27.1 million of new revenue in 2017. Half of that amount is $13.55 million.
So, they recognize the funding is needed, and there's no other way of getting it, but they still only recommend half of the proposal.

Maybe we could just increase the sales tax to help pay for public infrastructure. We seem to have billions for sport stadiums, but we can raise enough funding for public transportation, parks and schools?

Nevertheless, the County Supervisor are looking and acting like a bunch of petulant ne'er-do-wells.

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