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I was skeptical of Chris Abele when he was running for Milwaukee County Executive. His campaign was run by a longtime Democrat hack (a friend, mind you) who I disagree with on nearly every issue. That was all I needed to know about Abele. That he dropped a large wad of his own cash to get the job made me even more reticent about giving him the benefit of the doubt. Who would want that job so bad as to spend a million dollars to get it?
As I've noted on this blog up to this point, Abele has been a refreshing surprise in county government. He's been at loggerheads with the board over taxation issues and, to my mind, has been on the right side.
That said, his crusade against the Sheriff's office is disheartening because it takes needed resources away from an already-understaffed agency and gives them to another already-overtaxed body, MPD.
It seems, however progressive he claims to be, it's not enough for Milwaukee County. JSOnline's headline reads, "Honeymoon Over for Abele, Milwaukee County Board."
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, on the job 19 months, has faulted county supervisors for petty payback politics; poorly considered budget decisions that harm services and raise taxes; and feathering their own nests by voting for an $1,800 county-paid health care stipend for all county employees.
Abele is expected to announce Tuesday his vetoes to changes the board made to his 2013 budget. He plans to restore it to as close as possible to the way he originally proposed it, Abele said. But his disagreements with the board aren't personal, he said.
"My fight isn't with people or personalities, my fight is just for efficiency and sustainability," he said recently. "I have good relations with a lot of the board members. . . . I don't name-call or put out news releases going after people. I don't make declarations that this is going to be war.
Extreme libs on the board say they feel his decisions are personal attacks and affronts, not understanding that they need to divorce themselves from the job in order to best serve their constituents.
Supervisors say Abele is aloof and failed to bring them in early on budget moves he was plotting, such as his plan to pay the City of Milwaukee to patrol county parks or to shift more than $10 million in health care costs onto employees for 2013. The board, by lopsided majorities, rejected the park plan and scaled back the health benefit cost shift.
Dimitrijevic said Abele's actions suggest a lack of a clear understanding of the give and take of the legislative process.
"Not all of your ideas are great ideas, just like not all our ideas are great ideas," she said.
But supervisors also cut two new staff jobs for Abele's office, cut other administrative jobs Abele wanted and voted to force Abele's economic development director to comply with the county's residency requirement. In another budget amendment, the board also declared itself in charge of county lobbying, shutting Abele out of a role he says should be his.
Other perceived slights by Abele also serve as backdrop to the current disagreements.
The problem with the "coexist" mindset is that your opponents may not have the same worldview.