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Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013

Issue of the Week: What Does Abele Want to Hide?

Plus: Hero of the Week

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If there was any question about Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s true motivation for trying to downsize the county board, his plans to sell off county assets should answer it.

Abele and the board have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the sale of the county’s facilities. Supervisors want to study and review county-owned assets in public, while Abele has stonewalled on those plans.

Back in 2011, the board passed a budget amendment to pay for a study and implement a facilities plan. But, according to the plan’s strongest backer on the board, South Shore Supervisor Pat Jursik, Abele stalled on it. Therefore, the commissioned study wasn’t completed in time for its recommendations to be used in the 2013 budget. Abele and Jursik also tussled over a land sales resolution in the 2013 budget, which Abele vetoed, then compromised on.

In the meantime, the county-owned Downtown Transit Center came into play. But instead of asking for proposals in a transparent, public process, Abele formed an ad hoc group, which vetted the proposals in private, then advised Abele. Last summer, Abele unveiled his favorite project with the lucky developer. And Abele didn’t seem to understand why supervisors were so upset that he limited the role of the board and shut the public out of the process.

Now Abele wants to sell off more county properties—at the same time he’s working with the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), the well-connected big business group, to reduce the board’s power and influence.

It isn’t hard to connect the dots between Abele’s affinity for insider deals that escape public scrutiny, and his attempt to destroy the board’s ability to provide adequate oversight of county government, including publicly owned facilities.

Don’t be surprised if you see Abele’s pals redeveloping what was formerly county-owned lands.


Heroes of the Week

The Cathedral Center Volunteers, Staff and Donors

 

The Cathedral Center (845 N. Van Buren St.) is an independent, nonsectarian nonprofit shelter filling a niche in the city’s needs. It’s one of the few shelters in the Milwaukee area that serve individual women and families dealing with permanent housing problems, and it’s the only agency that serves single fathers with children. The Cathedral Center offers referrals to direct services for homeless individuals or families experiencing housing crises, has its own emergency shelter that can house 32 individuals and eight families, offers case management services and opens up an overflow shelter when weather is harsh. The Cathedral Center provides a higher level of service than government funding can support and, to date, the organization has been able to serve more than 10,000 women and families due to the community’s generous donations.

“Perhaps what is most impressive about the wide and diverse range of people who support the organization—from our board of directors and staff to volunteers and donors—is the absolute commitment to our mission,” says Kim Theno, director of the center’s resource development.

Currently, The Cathedral Center is looking for hospitality group volunteers, project and activity aides and student interns. Monetary donations are always welcome. Bus tickets; $5 or $10 gift cards from Target, CVS and Walgreens; hygiene items and socks are also needed at this time. For volunteer information and requirements, to make an online donation or to learn more about The Cathedral Center, visit cathedral-center.org. Readers with additional questions can call 414-831-0394 (staff directory is available online).

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