Live Blogging Assembly Bill 85 – Significantly shifts power from the Milwaukee Co.Brd. to Milwaukee Co. Executive

Live bloggin’ today for a while.  I am at the hearing on AB85- the bill that would consolidate power currently held by the Milwaukee Co. Brd and place it in the office of Milwaukee Co. Executive. Rm 412 E at the state capitol bldg or live on

Looks like I can use my keyboard here without getting dragged out. (Yes!)

Annnnd I left to eat and go home.

2:20 – Chair of Fond du Lac County Board Testimony:
Home rule is granted specifically only to cities and villages. This will affect all counties.
If people are unconvinced, they can run for office. …I believe that is what you have done. ..Some people have not won the argument…they are now in a partisan body. Where a certain amount of dealmaking can be made- they can impose something from the outside. . There is a reason that we have a representative democracy. …They are able to deliberate. Simple referenda allow no deliberation. Franky we saw that in Fond du Lac Co… …His county brd got cut in 1/2. One individual got almost 1,100 signatures on his own. Figured out some money…. [ speaker cuts off] He hit the 5 minute mark.

Hulsey-Seems like this is a power grab?
“Yes. …
I heard testimony that the MKE CO brd would be the same as others” He says that is not true. “They cld not do intergovernmental agreements (if AB85 passes) – no collec. bargaining- He says MKE CO wld be weakest county gov’t of the state.

1:49 We’ve seen bait and switch before. We are tired. Let’s work this out ourselves. –preacher here testifying for churches. (Apologies for not catching the name – was getting hungry – But I did figure out he is with MICAH)

Testimony from Linnea Sunstrom:
Why even consider voting on this without having a milwaukee co hearing.
Only 13 counties have a smaller board.
How many of you receive state retirement and health benefits. You will need to refuse them to do your job rt….
Given history of fraud, abuse, and waste in Milwaukee Co. Executive Gov’t, why not focus on that?

This bill is unjustified. We have a mechanism to replace/change gov’t. It’s called an election. Described history of the word ghetto. . . This is a power grab leading to a land grab. You are trying to construct a power shift- city to suburbs. Is this a county land grab? … The common good is what you have been elected to promote and to protect.

I’m asking that as a question–why exclude the office of MKE County executive from reform of county.
Sinicki-I would like to pt out that executive who was involved was the former exec. That exec is now the current governor.

Peter Rickman: Brief comment. Blatant attack on local control. Contrary to WI decisions. It is not democracy… why not hold a hearing in the evening in Milwaukee?

Question from committee member; Why are the 99 members of the Assembly concerning themselves with changing Milwaukee County?
Abele- We are the biggest economic engine in the state.

Rep Hutton [people sitting in this rm are here since 10AM…some left for lunch]
Hutton says state has had too much gov’t- too much tax burden.
[Nobody is interrupting this guy to say he is not asking a question–apparently grandstanding is OK if you are in favor of the bill]

12:30 – Sinicki to Abele- I’m going to disagree w. The GMC on this issue. When you were running both times, why didn’t you bring up this issue.
‘I like efficiency. Says the debt issue and need to restore services- (hmm didn’t really get an answer to the question there)

How will this reduce debt? – Sinicki
‘There will never be an organization that I’m assoc with that is not respectful to employees”
(in response, a man in my line of sight shakes his head in disbelief)
Abele lists things he thought were extraneous. $1,500 for healthcare funds.
(So- not a very clear answer. — sort of rambling to me. Did not sound like something that justifies what’s on the table today)]

Abele: ‘This legislature created this county executive position.. This bill simply restores what was set up over 50 yrs ago’ [interesting- I’d like to see that, then]

Sinicki. ‘Do you have a lobbyist?”
Abele- Those two lobbyists [referenced in a Dan Bice article by the way] are with the GMC (Greater Milwaukee Chamber)

“These are good questions. [Abele looks like he’s wincing] ” in response to Sinicki.
Sinicki-“We are very concerned….We are talking about this issue and we should be talking about the state budget which is going to hit Milwaukee hard.

We are here in Madison despite this being about Milwaukee County because the Committee Chair here, who is from Lake Geneva, refused multiple requests to move this hearing to the Milwaukee area.

The bill is being put forth by Rep. Sanfelippo of West Allis. He did a pretty good job of presenting it – he is apparently not one of the Tea Party dullard crowd, although he seems to agree with them on principal. He was on the MKE Co. Brd 12 yrs ago.

You can learn more about it at Wisconsin Soapbox, Cognitive Dissidence, and at Express Milwaukee (hopefully will get those links up in a bit).

It’s clear that Rep. Sinicki is against the bill. Rep. Steve Nass is for it as is Rep. Kapenga.

Chairwoman of MKE brd, Marina Dimitrijevic just delivered a powerful speech against AB85. And she was just asked about a past  referendum: “The referendum that you’re speaking about- 25% of Milwaukee Co residents voted on it. Question then was part time or full time staff on board.  The only thing that is on the referendum as slated in this bill only makes clear compensation.”


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