Wednesday, March 20, 2013

OUR Milwaukee County Listening Session?

Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander hosted an Our Milwaukee County Listening Session this evening on Milwaukee's Northwest side.  This is the second time Supervisor Alexander has hosted a constituent get together to discuss the proposed changes that AB85 will bring to Milwaukee County.

This event was a "sanctioned" county get together so Mrs. Alexander didn't get any heat from fellow supervisors this time around.  Supervisor Theo Lipscomb also hosted one tonight in his Northeast side district.  These were the third and fourth sessions held.  Another two are planned and no word on what the rest of the Supervisors will be doing.  For those not in the know "OUR" is an acronym for Outreach for Unified Reform.

Besides Supervisor Alexander, State Rep. Joe  Sanfelippo and Jennifer Epps-Addison the Economic Justice Program Director of the union financed Citizen Action of Wisconsin group were the featured guests.  Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic and County Supervisors John Weishan Jr, Russell Stamper III and David Bowen were also in attendance at various times. 

About 75 people showed up for session tonight and Supervisor Alexander started off asking a question a few of us have wondered after reading accounts of other sessions, "How many of you are constituents of the 18th Supervisory District? (Supervisor Alexander's district)"  About 15 people raised their hands. 

So who were these other 60 or so "concerned citizens"?  Did I mention that one of the speakers was affiliated with a union front group?  Now I don't know for sure, but a large contingent sat together, were rowdy together and interestingly enough after about an hour left together.  In the past when Citizen Action has done events they have paid people to show up, I suspect the wallet was open for this short term employment opportunity.  The low turnout compared to the other two events probably had to do with splitting the work force between the two listening sessions being held simultaneously. 

Wisely Supervisor Alexander allowed her constituents to speak first before giving the floor to other County citizens.

The tone for the evening was evident clearly when Rep. Sanfelippo was introduced to the crowd.  Boos, hisses and cat calls followed the announcement.  As Joe was explaining the legislation the hoots and hollers continued.  It was like attending a church service gone bad.  More then once Supervisor Alexander had to ask the union crowd to give Sanfelippo the respect he deserved as a guest, but I guess when your getting paid to cause a ruckus, you cause a ruckus.

All three speakers did a fine job of presenting their positions and following the legislative changes was easy thanks to a hand out outlining current responsibilities and the proposed changes.

One of the highlights of attending these events is the constituent participation aspect.  Tonight was prime.  Long time activist Curtiss Harris tried convincing the crowd that Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and her husband Joel were double dipping (an issue in AB85) because they were both working for the state at the same time.  We know Mr. Harris is smarter then that.  A couple of the people were at odds about the County Health situation.  A union member was a tad loud as he yelled his views at Rep. Sanfelippo when a simple "in-door voice" would have sufficed.

Two people who attended chastised Supervisor Alexander for not doing a good enough job of letting people know about the listening session.  One was quite abusive saying she heard about the event from social media and not from Supervisor Alexander directly.  Another said he didn't live in district but knew of many people who would have showed up if they had known about it.

I would have like to ask these two a couple of questions.  To the rather loud lady, if you are so involved in the issues why haven't you signed up for Supervisor Alexander's eMail notices.  Your squawking was nothing more then that when you show up at an event and complain about not knowing about it.  And to the gentleman who knew quiet a few people who would have wanted to be there, why didn't you contact them to gauge their interest rather then accuse and assume their interest.

The evening was interesting and I believe it showed that AB85 is a good start on County reform, but still needs some tweaks to make it more palatable.


5 comments:

capper said...

The evening was interesting and I believe it showed that AB85 is a good start on County reform, but still needs some tweaks to make it more palatable.

On what basis do you make that statement? There is nothing in your post to support any such claim. Even the Marquette poll shows that it is highly unfavorable.

yoSAMite said...

I think the county board has overstepped it's boundaries over the years. Rep. Sanfelippo made a very persuasive argument comparing the 1960 part time board and it's responsibilities versus the current board. The "keep it the same" people tried to persuade with feelings not facts. That argument tastes good at first but after a while it irritates the senses.

Also it seemed that Chris Abele is a focal point of this discussion. I think it needs to go beyond the person and focus on the position.

As a conservative in Milwaukee it scares me to think like that, but we also don't need 18 additional county executive wannabes trying to run their little fiefdoms.

capper said...

The 1960's also had no county executive. Also, there is much more now than there was 50 years ago. That's a rather false comparison, don't you think? I know I'm a bit different than I was then.

And Abele needs to be the focus, since he is the one that wants to hold all the power. One has to look at his motivation for wanting this. And not just what he says. I know you're too smart for that.

Also, think about the last three executives and what it would be like without a system of checks and balances.

You'd be paying a hellsite more in taxes, I can promise you that.

yoSAMite said...

Going to a part time board with no executive might be an option. Rep. Sanfelippo also talked about how some of the other counties operate without a county executive.

The changes proposed really don't give the County Exec much more power, they just spell out who should do what concerning county government.

Something must be done to reign in the county board, they are incapable of self restraint.

capper said...

Oh, it does indeed change a lot. If you don't want to believe me or the newspaper, you can believe the attorney from the state's Legislative Bureau, who did the analysis of it.