Tag Archives: chris abele

Chris Abele: Oppose Trump’s plan to defund Great Lakes restoration

Like many of you, I was concerned when I first heard that President Trump planned to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. That concern turned to shock when I heard that the funding was nearly eliminated altogether — a 97 percent reduction.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) sprang from the Great Lakes Compact, a regional commitment to protecting our natural resources that was approved by a bipartisan coalition that included all eight Great Lakes states, the U.S. Congress, and President George W. Bush. Long before I was elected county executive I was lucky enough to be involved with the organizations that advanced the research that led to the Great Lakes Compact. Today, both in office and as a citizen, I remain an ardent supporter of and advocate for the protection of our fresh water.

The GLRI has funded millions of dollars in Milwaukee County Parks alone, to include a four-year, $43 million cleanup effort along the Milwaukee River and a $1.4 million investment in waterway improvements at South Shore and other parks.

Since the GLRI began the need for fresh water hasn’t gone down; it’s gone up. One only needs to look to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan or the freshwater emergency that impacted hundreds of thousands of Ohioans in the Toledo area back in 2014 to know that we must protect the Great Lakes, which hold 20 percent of the entire world’s freshwater.

I strongly oppose the president’s proposed decimation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Environmentalists, business owners, and politicians from across the divide have historically been advocates for our freshwater and they are speaking out now as well. Yesterday, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Gov. Scott Walker all spoke out in favor of restoring Great Lakes funding. And for good reason — the Great Lakes are a spectacular and rare treasure for all of us and we must protect them. Preserving these natural treasures isn’t idealistic or naïve; it’s part of who we are as a country.

I will be writing Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to ask that they oppose this cut and I urge you to do the same. To find your elected officials visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyElectedOfficials

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

 

United Performing Arts Fund to launch 50th anniversary campaign

Continue reading United Performing Arts Fund to launch 50th anniversary campaign

Shameless anti-Abele partisans try to obstruct Colón reappointment

Earlier this year, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele decisively won a bitter re-election battle against state Sen. Chris Larson and his coalition of backers with animus toward Abele. With that divisive experience in the rearview mirror, we had hoped that county supervisors would move the interests of their constituents to the top of their agenda, where they belong. Instead, many supervisors seem mired in scorched-earth political mode. They appear far more interested in outmaneuvering Abele than serving the county’s residents.

Their latest shenanigan is an effort to obstruct Abele’s reappointment of Héctor Colón as director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

By a vote of 3–2, the Milwaukee County Board Health and Human Needs Committee rejected Colón. A definitive vote by the entire board is scheduled for Sept. 22.

Whatever the outcome, the three committee members who rejected Colón show how destructive they’re willing to go just to thwart Abele at the county’s expense.

By any reasonable measure, Colón’s six-year tenure in the position has been exceptional. Among the many community organizations calling for his reappointment are the Milwaukee Urban League, Disability Rights Wisconsin, the American Public Human Services Association, the United Community Center, and the Combined Community Services Board.

Colón’s supporters cite a number of achievements on his part, including:

• Success in securing a $2.4 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help end chronic homelessness.

• A 70 percent decrease in chronic homelessness. (Colón’s foes dispute this figure, using twisted reasoning to justify their aim of discrediting it.)

• Ending a 12-year waiting list for Section 8 housing.

• The transition of hundreds of mentally challenged people into community-living arrangements.

• Implementation of more than $20 million dollars of new or enhanced community-based services that have led to a 34 percent decrease in emergency detentions and a 20 percent decrease in emergency room visits.

• Numerous awards from national, state and community groups.

The list goes on, towering over the objections — most of them dubious — to Colón’s performance in office. Looked at side by side, it’s obvious that the real motive for opposing Colón is politics. Just consider the three supervisors who voted against his reappointment.

Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic seems to oppose Abele with every breath she takes. She heads the Working Families Party of Wisconsin, a left-wing tea party-style group that was Larson’s leading donor.

Also rejecting Colón was Sequanna Taylor, who was endorsed and backed by Dimitrijevic’s group. The third vote against Colón came from Supreme Moore Omokunde, who was also a Larson backer. He cited Colón’s lack of transparency as a reason for opposing him, which was hypocritical to say the least: Omokunde was one of seven supervisors who defeated a transparency measure that would have allowed the public to see budget amendments prior to final committee votes.

Colón has earned reappointment. And the residents of Milwaukee County deserve representatives who make decisions based on merit rather than personal grudges.

We’d like to remind Colón’s  detractors that the AbeleLarson race is over and their horse lost. Get over it.

Six Milwaukee County Parks feature community-bonding events in August

Local bands, a fun run for kids, K-9 units, and fireworks are among the attractions at six National Night Out events occurring in Milwaukee County Parks in early August, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced. 

“These National Night Out events bring neighbors together with local law enforcement in a positive environment to build a true sense of community,” Abele said. “These events are another way that Milwaukee County can help strengthen communities by preventing crime and making our neighborhoods stronger.”

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. In partnership with law enforcement agencies and community groups, Milwaukee County is hosting numerous events at County parks from Aug. 1 to and Aug. 17.

Events are scheduled at Wedgewood, Hales Corners, Kosciuszko, Lincoln, and Kops parks. In addition, fireworks on the Oak Creek Parkway will follow a South Milwaukee event being held at the South Milwaukee Police Department building.

Schedule of National Night Out Events at Milwaukee County Parks

Mon., Aug. 1

Wedgewood Park, 7201 Wedgewood Drive, will feature the music of Our House, performing in four-part harmony from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event also includes a 50/50 raffle, prizes, food trucks, a clown, and face-painting for the kids. The Night Out event will run from 6–8:45 p.m.

Tues., Aug. 2

Kosciuszko Park, 2201 S. 7 St., will feature the music of Maracujaz Brazilian & American Jazz from 6 to 8 p.m. Also from 6 to 8 p.m., AWE Truck Studio will lead make-and-take art projects for kids. Also included in the event are a bounce house and police car on display. The Night Out event will run from 4 to 8 p.m.
Hales Corners Park, 5765 S. New Berlin Road, will feature food, music, and activities. Attractions include a fun run for kids, a bounce house, and a maze. Vehicles (including police cars) and boats will be on display. Resources at the event include local businesses and non-profit organizations. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from the Hales Corners VFW and the Hales Corners Lions Club. The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m.

Lincoln Park, 1301 W. Hampton Ave. (in the area adjacent to the Blatz Pavilion), will feature the music of KIC Keep’n It Clean (K.I.C.), with dynamic vocals and inspired rhythms from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Night Out event is from 4 to 8 p.m.
Thurs., Aug. 4

Kops Park, 3321 N. 86 St., will feature local K-9 units and the Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team. Family activities and a raffle will also take place. Free hot dogs, chips, and water will be available while supplies last. The Night Out event is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and includes a variety of family-friendly activities.

Wed., Aug. 17

South Milwaukee Police Department, 2424 15th Ave, will feature food, games, music, and a raffle from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Fireworks will be set off at the Oak Creek Parkway and Michigan Avenue beginning at 9 p.m.

Attack on Milwaukee Public Schools rated Pants on Fire

A digitally altered image bearing a fabricated quote attributed to Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program Commissioner Dr. Demond Means is “not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFact Wisconsin. PolitiFact gave the “ridiculous” claim by Wisconsin Jobs Now a rating of “Pants on Fire.”
 
The Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program was created by the state Legislature last summer.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and OSPP Commissioner Dr. Demond Means have made a commitment to implementing a community schools model through OSPP. They’re asking Milwaukee Public Schools to say “Yes” to a partnership that would preserve resources and support for MPS schools, students, teachers, and families.

In addition to ensuring that the Milwaukee School Board of Directors would retain their duly elected governance, the partnership proposal submitted by Abele and Means to Milwaukee Public Schools in April of 2016 ensures that: 1) teachers and employees at struggling schools would retain their status as MPS employees, while retaining high licensing standards, ensuring they remain members of their union and keep their MPS employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement; 2) students would remain enrolled in MPS; and 3) per-pupil funding received from the state would be returned back to MPS.

Despite the fact that the proposal protects MPS, opponents, including Wisconsin Jobs Now, “pushed back,” according to PolitiFact:

“The liberal group posted a picture of Means on Facebook on April 28, 2016. The image showed Means holding a sign that read “MPS needs to be gutted!”

Unlike a meme, which typically makes clear the message is fake, the Facebook post included this note: “Abele’s MPS Takeover Czar Demond Means really said this.”

 Whoa.

 Did Means really say that? In a word: No.”

“People who disagree with our proposal to protect Milwaukee Public Schools jobs, enrollment, funding, and Board oversight are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts,” County Executive Chris Abele said. “It’s unfortunate that some people are spending their time and energy telling lies about Dr. Means — an MPS graduate who has spent his entire career working in public schools – instead of working together to find ways to protect MPS jobs, funding, and enrollment.”

Read the entire PolitiFact ruling here.

Sheriff David Clarke’s lawsuits have cost taxpayers over $400,000

Milwaukee County has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past several years to cover the legal costs of lawsuits brought by the notorious county sheriff.

A federal judge this week tossed out Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s lawsuit against County Executive Chris Abele. Clarke alleged that Abele violated his right to free speech by using the budget process to punish Clarke and others who say things Abele disagrees with.

County taxpayers will now have to pick up the $50,000 tab for Clarke’s private attorney, Michael A.I. Whitcomb, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The county has already paid Whitcomb more than $260,000 to represent the sheriff in litigation against the county since 2012. The county itself has paid $83,000 defending itself in these lawsuits.

Altogether, the county has spent over $346,000 for the sheriff to sue the county. With the latest lawsuit, that figure will top $400,000.

“Public safety is too important to Milwaukee families for us to continually waste time and money on lawsuits like this,” said Melissa Baldauff, a spokeswoman for Abele.

Clarke said he has not read the decision in the latest lawsuit, but he had sharp words for Abele. The sheriff did not say if he plans to appeal the decision.

“Abele is the guy who spent $263,000 of his personal wealth trying to defeat me in my last election and he lost,” Clarke said in a statement. “He continues his vendetta by trying to silence me. That little man will stop at nothing.”

Clarke is a darling of right-wing talk radio in Milwaukee and the surrounding deep-red suburbs. He frequently makes national headlines for his over-the-top antics, such as his saying that blacks sell drugs because they’re “lazy” and “morally bankrupt.” He also asked Milwaukee County residents to arm themselves to help his deputies.

Clarke, who often wears a cowboy hat and boots, is African American.

In the run-up to Wisconsin’s presidential primaries, social justice groups Voces de la Frontera and the Coalition for Justice circulated a petition calling for a law enforcement official other than Clarke to oversee public safety at Trump events in the Milwaukee area. In early March, Clarke told a Fox News host that demonstrators with immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter movements deserve to be “hit first and hit hard.”

Last June, Judge David Borowski ordered Clarke to provide un-redacted information about people his department turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The order was made in an open records lawsuit filed by Voces de la Frontera.

Analysis: County board out for revenge against Abele 

Three times in 40 years — in the 1950s, in the ’70s and in the ’90s — the Township and the Borough of Princeton, New Jersey, tried unsuccessfully to merge. The two finally combined into the new Municipality of Princeton a few years ago, allowing them to cut out redundant services and save millions on policing, snow removal and trash pickup.

But the Municipality of Princeton, formed in 2013, is an exception. Consolidations have often been discussed and studied, but the mergers rarely take place. And, based on the politics of the Milwaukee County Executive race, they’re very unlikely to occur in Wisconsin any time soon.

There are 3,069 counties in the country, and many of them provide redundant services in areas such as policing, snow removal and trash pickup. Across the country, advocates of consolidation, including governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Illinois’ Bruce Rauner, both Republicans, say combining county and municipal governments will streamline services and save taxpayers money. But according to the National Association of Counties, cities and counties have only combined 42 times since the 19th century, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

An Illinois report released in December sparked a conversation in that state and in others. It found that living in an area with too many layers of government increases property taxes on residents (the report didn’t break out business taxes) and makes it all but impossible to remember which governmental entity governs what.

The issue is of particular signficance in Wisconsin, which has the most bloated county governments of any state in the nation. In fact 10 percent of all county-level legislators in the United States reside in the state.

While Los Angeles County has five supervisors, Dane County has 37. Milwaukee County has 17 supervisors, compared to 18 in Cook County. And, unlike Cook County, every resident of Milwaukee County also lives within the jurisdiction of a city, town or village government. No part of the county is unincorporated.

But realigning county government is a political hot potato that few leaders in the state appear willing to address. Just consider the backlash against Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele over Act 14, even though it was passed by the Legislature and the voters.  That law placed a binding referendum on the county ballot asking voters if Milwaukee County supervisors should be made part-time as opposed to full-time employees.

More than 70 percent of county voters chose part-time status. Voters also approved eliminating supervisors’ pension and health benefits. The changes brought the county’s pay more in line with others in the state and made money available for services rather than bureaucrats.

Even though Act 14 didn’t merge city and county functions, it still incurred the wrath of county supervisors against Abele. They’ve piled on him in every way possible, waging what’s seemed like a permanent campaign against him in the media.

Former Milwaukee County Supervisor and now state Sen. Chris Larson is running a no-holds-barred campaign to unseat Abele on April 5, and at least some of the board’s supervisors are playing roles in Larson’s effort.

County board chair Theo Lipscomb is part of Larson’s campaign, but the challenger’s top board ally is former county board chair Marina Dimitrijevic, who stepped down from that position last year after realizing that her new part-time status would reduce her salary from $71,412 to $36,076, when it takes effect on April 18.

Dimitrijevic is now executive director of Wisconsin Working Families Party, which is not a party at all. Its emphasis is on an affiliated dark-money PAC that funds challenges against Democrats who are not considered liberal enough. It’s the left-wing version of the tea party: It works to knock out candidates who don’t pass an ideological litmus test or who negotiate compromises with members of the other party, as Abele has done in his efforts to improve Milwaukee’s relationship with the state’s majority Republican leadership.

Working Families has spewed hundreds of thousands of mostly anonymous dollars into Larson’s effort to defeat Abele. What they say about paybacks is true.

On its website, Working Families lists a slate of candidates and vows, “We’re going to work hard to elect these champions for working families into office.”

But only a small handful of those named candidates has received any cash, and one of the group’s recipients, who’s running for school board in Racine, isn’t even listed on the slate. Since January the group has leveled nearly all of its considerable resources against Abele, while all but ignoring everyone else — and completely overlooking right-wing Republicans who face challenges in races where the outcome would make siginicant differences for progressives.

It’s no wonder that insiders see Larson’s race as a grudge match by disgruntled county board members, whose pay dropped from $50,679 to $24,051.

Larson says he’ll restore the county board to its former status and undo what he calls other Abele “power grabs.” But as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out in an editorial this morning, he simply doesn’t have the power to do that.

“It would require changing the minds of Republican legislators who control the Assembly and the Senate,” the Journal Sentinel opined. “Larson was in the Legislature when those changes were approved and he could not affect them. How would he change things as county executive?”

Next in Working Families’ sites is state Sen. Lena Taylor, the only Democrat in the Legislature to vote for Act 14. Working Families is said to be lining up support for state Rep. Mandela Barnes in his likely bid to unseat Taylor.

Faced with this sort of political fallout, counties and cities in Wisconsin will likely continue to operate separately, no matter how much combining them would streamline services or benefit taxpayers.

Information included in this story came from Stateline, a news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts.