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Issue of the Week: Republicans Come to Abele’s Rescue Again

Jan. 30, 2014
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We’re happy when elected officials reach across the aisle to solve problems. But we’re disappointed that, yet again, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has chosen to work with tea party Republican lawmakers to create problems, not to solve them. The latest example is Abele’s attempt to get legal blessing for the planned Couture high-rise on county property. The problem—for Abele, at least—is that this private development may be partially located on former lakebed, which means that it is likely protected by the state constitution’s Public Trust doctrine and its potential sale to a private developer is in doubt.

Instead of doing the prudent thing and going to a judge to get some clarity on the issue, as the county board has directed him to do, Abele is, yet again, recklessly working with Republican legislators and developing a short-sighted solution that will not only jeopardize and further delay the Couture with legal challenges, but jeopardize other developments on the lakefront and Third Ward. It also had the potential to affect publicly owned land and private property around the state. Instead of providing legal clarity, the bill will likely tie up the Couture sale in the courts for an extended period of time and waste taxpayer money on attorney’s fees that will go through the roof.

Abele’s aides are already painting this solution as a “bipartisan” one, but the fact is that the only Democrats who have signed on to this bill likely need Abele’s donations in the next campaign cycle. We’re disappointed that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett supports Abele’s alleged “solution,” since it could adversely affect developments in the city that we sorely need. As far as we can tell, no other elected official at the state or county level who represents this part of the city supports this bill.

Unfortunately, Abele thinks that he can govern without any checks and balances ever since he, along with the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Julia Taylor, pushed through Act 14 with tea party support in the Legislature. Act 14 totally weakens the county board’s mandate to be a check on the county executive. Now Abele is going further to help his friend, the developer of the Couture. Abele wants to make changes that will potentially change the interpretation of the state constitution; once again he is running back to his tea party friends to do more damage to our state’s proud history of clean government. This is old-style Chicago politics at its worst.



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