This requires some explanation.
Of course the back story is that in a non-binding referendum a gazillion Milwaukee County voters voted NO against a whopping increase in the county wheel tax proposed by County Executive Chris Abele.
Didn’t matter to Abele. Voters be damned.
In proposing his annual budget Abele contended the wheel tax increase was necessary. If not, he went to the political playbook that had dust all over it.
Vote NO and I’ll have no choice but to make all kinds of budget cuts that will cripple the county.
Not at all original.
Didn’t matter to Abele.
He went after the county board chairman who opposed the wheel tax and the potential subsequent cuts by hitting the airwaves with ad after ad after ad blasting the chairman, Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb, who obviously didn’t have the bankroll Abele possessed to go on radio ad nauseum.
To repeat, the supervisors were absolutely correct to fight the wheel tax. They did, rejecting the wheel tax hike even though they approved a new budget on a vote of 15-3.
Abele was quick to fire back.
“Clearly, supervisors believe that $15 million in deep cuts to transit, public safety, parks and social services is what is best for the future of Milwaukee County,” Abele said.
“I will not endorse the County Board’s service cuts and am therefore returning the budget to the board unsigned,” Abele said.
So, severe cuts are coming.
On his Wednesday program, NewsTalk 1130 WISN’s Mark Belling called supervisors that opposed Abele on the wheel tax “wusses.”
Those supervisors clearly were in a winning position because an advisory referendum on the spring ballot earlier this year for a total $60 vehicle registration fee was rejected by 72% of voters.
Abele countered with a strategy of “the sky is falling” with his scare tactic of draconian cuts.
Supervisors, if they didn’t see it coming, acted as if they stepped right into a Mike Tyson upper cut.
Like amateur pool players they played the ball directly in front of them as opposed to the two or three balls after that.
Wheel tax increase? Dead.
Abele was the better pool player.
He immediately responded as you read above.
Deep cuts are coming and you can blame the County Board.
As much as I hate to admit, well played.
Mark Belling accused the supervisors who thought they were deserving of champagne toasts of being “wusses.”
Not that Belling was in favor of the wheel tax increase (he was not), but he claimed the supervisors were outsmarted by Abele.
Abele is now able to paint the anti-wheel taxers as villains. That could have been avoided if those supervisors had merely charted out a plan of attack pinpointing less severe cuts that could be used to offset the lack of a wheel tax increase.
Specifically lay them out there. One after another.
Those supervisors may have won the battle but not the war. That will all depend on public reaction to whatever cuts and their impact lie ahead.