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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Issue of the Week: County Chaos: Follow the Money

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It’s difficult to keep up with the twists and turns in the Milwaukee County saga.

But it’s easy to understand once you follow the money, as advised by Deep Throat during the Watergate scandal.

Over at the courthouse, you have an 18-person Board of Supervisors under siege by state legislators who want to gut the board’s power and hand it to a Milwaukee County executive who would rule like a king.

The opponents of the board are doing everything they can to sow division among county supervisors, make the board look inept and illegitimate, and destroy the credibility of Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. That would boost the chances of state legislators imposing “reform” on the county while thwarting the board’s attempt to make reforms locally.

Fueling the fire is Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who stands to gain from the state “reform.” His wealthy friends at the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) and in the business community would profit, too, since the “reform” would severely weaken the board’s oversight of land sales and contracts.

But that’s not where Abele’s power stops.

The billionaire’s son can be a generous campaign benefactor, too.

In fact, next week Abele will be hosting a fundraiser for Supervisor Deanna Alexander, who has been Abele’s most loyal ally on the board. Also headlining the event are former supervisor Joe Rice and ousted state Rep. Jason Fields.

It’s a surprising alliance. Abele has donated thousands of dollars to push for marriage equality in Wisconsin and also signed the county’s domestic partnership benefits plan. Alexander, who’s taken graduate-level courses in government and public administration at Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson’s Regent University, was endorsed by the anti-gay group Wisconsin Family Action and also attended a Racine Chick-Fil-A appreciation day to show her support when that business was under fire for its anti-gay stance.

But apparently all of that is forgotten when money, power and ambition are on the line.

Abele can introduce Alexander to a new batch of donors, while Alexander can sow division and dissent on the board so that Abele and his wealthy pals get what they want.

So when you hear Alexander speaking out against the board and advocating for state-imposed “reform,” remember that she’s simply taking Deep Throat’s advice and following the money.

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