PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

The County Executive’s New Clothes

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on March 31, 2009

The news coming out the Milwaukee County Courthouse today reminded me a lot of the famous tale by Hans Christian Anderson.

As I wrote about last night, the County Board had a special session this morning to take immediate action on some pressing issues. Things went pretty much as I expected.

No action was necessary on the mental health complex as that Walker returned the resolution unsigned, effectively killing the move to St. Michael’s.

The Board also laid over the HOC business and passed Supervisor Weishan’s resolution to endorse the Farm and Fish Hatchery at the HOC as “programs of overriding value for the residents of Milwaukee County. this will save the County a lot of money. The fish from the hatchery goes to stock the local ponds and lagoons for the county’s fisherman. Some of the fish goes to the zoo to feed the seals and other fish-eaters, eliminating the need to go to a third party, and spending more money. The farm goes a long way to feeding the hungry in the county, which in allow helps keep the cost of supplemental income down.

What surprised me the most was that the board sustained Walker’s move to throw his friend, Gerard Randall, under the campaign bus. I really thought that they would have overridden the veto in order to put the contract up for bid, especially in these tough economic times when people could use all the help they could get in finding gainful employment.

What was no surprise to anyone is that he County Board overwhelmingly overrode Walker’s veto of the resolution allowing the County to aggressively pursue stimulus money. What was interesting is the level of emotions that more and more members of the Board is starting to show as they tire of Walker’s showboating and his willingness to sacrifice the county for his campaign.

Even more moderate Supervisors like Lynne DeBruin and Pat Jursik are showing signs of disgust with Walker’s shenanigans:

Walker’s criteria for taking federal stimulus aid that the board shot down was politically motivated and “totally bogus,” said Supervisor Lynne De Bruin. Supervisor Gerry Broderick said Walker’s stance on stimulus aid was “great theater or dress rehearsal aimed at the governor’s race in 2010.”

De Bruin said Walker began backing away from his refusal to even consider stimulus aid after Milwaukee business leaders publicly disagreed with him. She called the standoff between the board and Walker the most upsetting issue of her 17-year career as a supervisor.

[…]

Supervisor Patricia Jursik criticized Walker for insisting on rejecting federal aid that required a local match. Walker said his ban on funding that required a local match wasn’t absolute.

I’ll spare both the gentle reader and myself to point out all of the ongoing hypocrisies from Walker as he tried to spin himself out of the corner he has put himself in. That is something I think I have covered in overly abundant amounts, even though it is still true.

However, there are a couple, three things that were not covered in the JSOnline articles, and I have no idea if they will report on these things when the final copy is complete.

One is that the County Board drew a very clear line in the sand for Walker.

While he was given the floor, Supervisor John Weishan told Corporation Counsel to “be prepared to go to court to enforce the stimulus policy of Milwaukee County.” Supervisor Weishan told me that, while he hopes he is incorrect, he would not be surprised to see Walker show the same kind of passive aggressive sabotaging of the pursuit of the stimulus dollars that Walker has shown since the stimulus law was signed by President Obama.

Weishan explained that if Walker decides to not follow County policy, either by ignoring it, or by having another set of circumstances that sabotages the County’s chances of receiving stimulus, dollars, they will ask the courts to order Walker to follow the county ordinances. If Walker then continued to fail in his duties, he could also be found in contempt of the court.

Weishan pointed out that Walker has a history of violating the county’s laws, such as when he refused to fill the authorized and funded positions in the call center, even though he signed off on that himself. Walker’s refusal to do his job in that circumstance, as the reader knows, was the state coming in and taking over the center, but leaving the County on the hook for paying the salaries of the workers.

Weishan also expressed frustration because Walker has not only ordered his staff not to cooperate with the Board, but has yet to fill the slot of the Public Works Director and had eliminated the Economic Development Director. Weishan said that these two things have put the county at a distinct disadvantage in getting things done, much less getting them done efficiently or in a timely fashion.

Supervisor Theo Lipscomb also expressed his frustration with Walker’s constant stonewalling and obfuscation. He said that for the better part of a month, he has been trying to get Walker and his directors to give them a list of what he has applied for as opposed to what is available. He said that Walker has repeatedly refused to work with the County Board and with the Board’s Stimulus Task Force. He said that Walker has consistently refused to give the Task Force any information, or when he did, he would quickly contradict himself, as he has done with his “three requirements.”

When I told Lipscomb that Walker had come out with a press release today, that was supposed to be a release of his stimulus list, Lipscomb was surprised. He said that no such list was ever given to him, and that he is disappointed that Walker is again refusing to cooperate with the board.

Lipscomb told me that Walker obviously came out with this list after this morning’s session, as that it echoes what Lipscomb had said on the floor. He also pointed out that most of the things Walker is listing as having requested are things that were coming to Milwaukee County and/or to the urban Milwaukee area due to a formula that was part of the Restoration and Reinvestment Act anyway.

Lipscomb stated that “this list, provided after the fact of the meeting, only shows that they’re (Walker’s administration) behind the curve.”

He also expressed frustration with the fact that Walker’s people kept telling the Task force that Walker didn’t mean no ongoing maintenance costs, but that he was opposed to any new maintenance costs. Lipscomb said that this was also proven to be more hypocrisy as that his list for transit includes new voice annunciator systems on the buses. None of the buses currently have annunciator systems, meaning that this would require new maintenance costs.

Walker is indeed a county executive with new clothes, but at least the County Board is willing to point out the truth of the situation. Much more importantly, they are willing to do the work that is needed while Walker continues to march about pretending that he is something that he is not.

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