The Fighting 14th!

The official blog of Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas

Supervisor Haas Celebrates Construction Project; “East Layton Washboard” Now a Smooth Ride

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor Jason Haas, 14th District
For Immediate Release May 5, 2014
Contact:  Jay Saunders, Supervisor Haas’ Office
414/278-4051 or jay.saunders@milwcnty.com

Supervisor Haas Celebrates Construction Project

“East Layton Washboard” Now a Smooth Ride

Supervisor Jason Haas is happy to announce a big step in fixing East Layton Avenue on Milwaukee’s south side between South Howell Avenue and I-794. Sup. Haas nicknamed that stretch of road the “East Layton Washboard” because it was extremely bumpy.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently finished “diamond grinding” on Layton to smooth things out, and there is scheduled to be a complete re-paving of the area in the next year. Supervisor Haas coordinated the effort with the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation.
“I am happy people have a smooth ride along East Layton Avenue for the first time in years,” Supervisor Haas said. “The road was so bumpy I wouldn’t drive on it unless I had to.”
Last year, Layton Avenue was used as a detour during the rebuilding of Interstate 43. That meant increased traffic on Layton, including semi-trucks that neighbors could hear driving down the street.
“The sound of semis clanging and clanking down the street was really difficult for people living nearby to put up with,” Supervisor Haas said. “It was negatively impacting their quality of life, and that’s one big reason why I worked with County and State officials to take care of this problem.”
Diamond grinding involves removing a thin layer of a roadway using diamond saw blades. It is frequently used because it provides a smooth roadway and reduced road noise. WisDOT paid for this part of the project.
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18 Feb Technology (TEAM) Committee Meeting Report

Among my duties on the Milwaukee County Board is to chair the Technology, Efficiency, Adaptability & Modernization (TEAM) Committee, also known as the Technology Committee. It’s a special committee that meets at my calling, and does not create legislation. That said, it provides information to the rest of the Board for consideration by a regular (standing) committee, and then consideration by the full Board. People from the County’s Information Management Services Department (IMSD) speak to us and work with us on the various projects that come through the committee.

Today’s agenda had just three items, which I’ll go through line by line.

1. Presentation on implementing Open Data Standards (Matt Richardson, Milwaukee Data Initiative)

Open Data Standards are a way to turn the great piles of data that the Government accrues and make them readily available to the public. By making the data available, people on the outside can do cool things with it. For an example close to home, see what the City of Madison has done with its open data project, which they implemented just last year. They publish assessor property informationpolice data, and transit data, among other things. (Personally, I find the Vacant Land Sales page to be very interesting.) All of this was from data that the City of Madison already had on hand. But without the open data legislation by Madison Alder Scott Resnick, it wouldn’t be available in this fashion.

In Milwaukee County, we have arguably much more data available from many departments. Think of the possibilities. Then, we will begin to act on them.

Matt Richardson from the Milwaukee Data Initiative (creators of the MCTS Transit Stops and Times project) gave a presentation on what can be done with Open Data. Matt was able to answer questions from IMSD Director Chris Lindberg. James Carlson of Bucketworks also testified to the committee about the great improvements that we could gain through adopting open data. Director Lindberg, Mr. Richardson, and Mr. Carlson all expressed a great interest in working with one another. It is exciting to bring these new opportunities for systematic improvement to the County, and I think that the great technology community that we have here in Milwaukee to help pull the County into the future. With our work, it will be a portable, open technological future.

2. Update on Desktop Transformation Project (Laurie Panella, IMSD)

IMSD has been working on a detailed plan to transition the County away from Windows XP and Lotus Notes, which is (still) the base platform for most of our PCs. We also have dozens, if not hundreds, of customer applications written in Lotus Notes Domino and MS Access. IMSD presented their plan to move us, department by department, off of XP and onto Windows 7.

Director Lindberg also noted that the department has successfully transitioned the County’s IT backbone away from being based on from a super-extended local-area network and onto a fiber optic-based wide-area network. I don’t think I want to know how they made a LAN stretch from the Courthouse to the County Grounds in Tosa, but, it was done. I’m just glad it’s running on fiber now.

3. Schedule Next Meeting

As we meet at the call of the chair, I will do just that.

Board Actions on February 7, 2013

Below is the press release dealing everything that the County Board voted on at our last meeting.

It’s worth noting that most of the action, as it were, happens in our committee meetings. The work of the committees then goes to the full board for consideration and a final vote. Virtually everything was unanimously approved, including the final and most controversial item.

 

For Immediate Release February 8, 2013
Contact:  Velia Alvarez, Public Information Manager, 414/278-4230
velia.alvarez@milwcnty.com

RESULTS FROM MILWAUKEE COUNTY BOARD MEETING, FEBRUARY 7, 2013

· 16-0 to authorize and direct the Director of Health and Human Services and the BHD Administrator to develop a detailed implementation plan for mental health redesign in Milwaukee County (Originally directed in adopted resolution File No. RES 11-284)
· 16-0 to layover the confirmations of Supervisors: Alexander, Jursik, Lipscomb, and Taylor to War Memorial Corporation Board of Trustees for one cycle. (Items 2,4,5 and 6)
· 16-0 confirmation appointing Supervisor Russell W. Stamper II to Milwaukee Art Museum Board for a term expiring June 1st 2014. (Item 3)
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Finance, Personnel and Audit adopted, reports were received and placed on file. (Items 7-23)
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Health and Human Needs were adopted; reports were received and placed on file. (Items 24-33)
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Judiciary, Safety and General Services were adopted; reports were received and placed on file. (Items 34,35,37- 44)
· 13-3 (No: Borkowski, Mayo and Taylor) to authorize Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to set forth a model for the provision of shared services and transition of management of the County Correctional Facility- South from the office of the Sheriff to the Executive Branch. Effective April 2013. (Item 36)
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Parks, Energy and Environment, were adopted, reports were received and placed on file. (Items 45-50,52)
· 14-2 (No: Broderick and Jursik) requesting authorization to amend the Weigel Brocasting Co. and Hearst Corporation Lease Agreements by redirecting Parks general revenue to the designated Estabrook Dam Trust Account. (Item 51)
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit were adopted; reports were received and placed on file. (Items 53-59) Item 58 file 13-97 was adopted by the Finance, Personnel and Audit committee, moot in TPW.
· 16-0 all resolutions and ordinances from the committee on Economic and Community Development, reports were received and placed on file. (Items 60-64)
· 16-0 to request Audit Services Division of the office of the Comptroller to confirm that independent outside audit meets professional auditing standards. (Item 65)
· 14-2 (No: Broderick and Mayo) DAS requesting authorization to retain Reinhart Boerner and Van Deuren S.C. for legal services related to the downtown Transit Center and to extend legal services contract by $100,000. (Item 66)All other items on today’s agenda were approved with no objection.  The complete digest agenda from today’s meeting can be found on the County Legislative Information Center:

http://milwaukeecounty.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

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County Board Meeting 02/07/13 Results

As provided by our Chief Committee Clerk: 

County Board Meeting 02/07/13 Results (2 seats vacant until spring election)

JOP

Approved Unanimous Voice Vote 16-0

Unfinished Business (1)

Item 1 File 12-850 Adopted as Substituted 16-0

Confirmation (2-6)

Item 3 File 13-98 Confirmed 16-0

Items 2, 4, 5 & 6 Laid Over one cycle 16-0

Finance Personnel & Audit (7-23)

All Adopted 16-0

Health and Human Needs (24-33)

All Adopted 16-0

Judiciary (34-44)

Item 36 File 12-987 Adopted 13-3 No: Borkowski, Mayo and Taylor

Balance Adopted 16-0

Parks (45-52)

Item 51 File 13-120 Adopted 14-2 No: Broderick and Jursik

Balance Adopted 16-0

TPW (53-59)

Item 58 File 13-97 Adopted in FPA (Moot in TPW)

All Adopted 16-0

 

ECD (60-64)

All Adopted 16-0

Special JUD & ECD (66)

Item 66 File 13-152 Adopted 14-2 No: Broderick and Mayo

 

Resolution Presented Under Suspension of the Rules (65)

Item 65 Adopted as Substituted 16-0 Cosponsor Supervisor Alexander

 

Transit Claims Disallowed Approved Unanimous Voice Vote 16-0

Citations Approved Unanimous Voice Vote 16-0

Commenced at 9:50 am

Recessed from 11:00 am until 11:26 am

Adjourned at 12:17 pm

(All times approximate)

* * * * * *

 All in all, most items passed unanimously, 16-0.  (We are down by two until the April 2013 election, when new occupants for the two vacant seats will be elected by the people of the districts.) One of the most consequential items was voting to increase the amount we would pay outside legal council to look at the public trust doctrine issues surrounding the proposed construction on the current site of the Downtown Transit Center. Of course, that won’t be what gets the headlines… and even that passed unanimously in the end.

Go ahead. Ask me anything.

Yeah, you read it right. Ask me anything.

The rules:

  1. An arbitrary decision-making process will be when evaluating your questions. Don’t take it personally if yours doesn’t get answered.
  2. Chances are I won’t answer questions that beg the question (e.g. “When did you stop hitting your wife?” or “What are you doing to further the downsizing of the County Board?”
  3. Be courteous, be curious. You just might get a response.

So there you have it. I’m getting a little punchy, so this may be entertaining.

October 23, 2012 County Budget Blast

Here’s what happened at today’s 2013 budget amendment hearing:

For Immediate Release October 23, 2012
Contact:  Velia Alvarez, Public Information Manager
414/278-4230 or velia.alvarez@milwcnty.com

COUNTY BOARD 2013 BUDGET BLAST: OCTOBER 23, 2012

Milwaukee – The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is holding a series of budget hearings throughout October on the County Executive’s 2013 Recommended Budget.  On Tuesday, October 23, Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Committee will consider budgets amendments of specific functional areas of the Recommended Budget.

Today, the Committee approved the following:

Health and Human Services

 · Amendment approved 5-4 (No: Schmitt, Romo West, Jursik, Alexander) to restore $397,569 on the tax levy to fund staff positions of Behavioral Health Division’s Community Support Program (CSP) Downtown. The amendment eliminates outsourcing of the CSP Downtown services by a community provider.
· Amendment approved 9-0 to realign County employee staffing at front desk and mailrooms at the BHD complex. The amendment seeks to maintain safety within the BHD facility in a cost-effective manner.

Parks, Recreation and Culture

· Amendment approved 9-0 to create one, unpaid position of Crowdfunding Coordinator Intern to be in charge of fundraising via online campaigns, as well as other local campaigns, to develop Parks improvements.
· Amendment approved 7-2 (No: Haas, Romo West) to prevent Milwaukee County land sales from funding the purchase of new public art. The amendment maintains that land sales funds may only be used to repair or refurbish existing public art owned by Milwaukee County.
· Amendment approved 9-0 to direct the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit interest in operating beer garden concessions at various Park locations. Any and all revenues generated from the beer gardens would be placed in the newly created Parks Amenities Matching Fund to fund Parks deferred maintenance.
· Amendment approved 7-2 (No: Schmitt, Romo West) to provide free admission at the Washington Park Pool for 2013. The amendment also calls for swim lessons and other programming for children and adults at Washington Park Pool.

Capital Improvements 

· Amendment approved 9-0 to create a new Capital Improvements Committee, comprised of the Director of the Department of Transportation, the Fiscal and Budget Administrator, the Comptroller, the chair of the Committee on Transportation, Public Works & Transit, the Co-Chairs of the Committee on Finance, Personnel and Audit and two appointments of the County Executive, who shall be mayors or village presidents of municipalities within Milwaukee County. The Chair of the County Board shall appoint the chair of the Capital Improvements Committee. The amendment also states that the Capital Improvements Committee will develop a five-year capital improvements plan.
· Amendment approved 9-0 to replace the terminal escalators at General Mitchell International Airport during four years. Four of the five sets of escalators in the terminal mall are original to the construction of the terminal in 1982 and are in need of replacement.
· Amendment approved 9-0 to direct the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture to work with local disc golf associations within Milwaukee County to explore the feasibility of installing disc golf courses at Holler Park, Copernicus Park and Humboldt Park.

Transportation and Public Works

· Amendment approved 9-0 to create a Facilities Assessment Team that will provide inspection services to all County-owned facilities and will return to the Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit in April 2013 with a report on the progress of strategically downsizing County holdings or a thorough report on alternate recommendations from the Assessment Team, based on their studies.

Click here to access the 2013 budget meeting schedule
Click here to watch live video from the meetings (available while meetings are in progress)
Click here to access the Budget Overview presented by County Board Staff 

The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, is set to adopt the 2013 Budget on Monday, November 5 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
The County Board’s Annual Public Hearing on the 2013 Budget is scheduled for Monday, October 29, 2012 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, located at 929 N. Water Street in Milwaukee. The hearing begins at 6:30 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m.
Free parking, including handicapped accessible stalls, will be available in the Marcus Center structure.

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And there you have it.

We also laid over my amendment which would lower cash fares on the bus and give a $100,000 tax levy reduction. But that’ll be back on Thursday.

Results from the June 28, 2012 Milwaukee County Board meeting

We had a very good meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors today. Among the highlights are that we voted on items which will save taxpayers roughly $45,000 a month in interest payments, and we approved an agreement to implement the development of a two acre chunk of the Park East land. That will directly translate into jobs and idle land coming to life.

This incarnation of the County Board has only 18 supervisors. One effect of that is that if we vote 9-9 on an item, 9 ayes and 9 noes, the item fails. That happened a few times today. The first time was to override the county executive’s veto of a parks capital spending plan, the second on a proposal from the sheriff’s dept. to lease space at the MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Reserve unit at Mitchell Field).

In today’s meeting we had a lot of good energy and vibrant debate. It felt really good to be part of a democracy today!

Thanks,
Jason.


RESULTS FROM TODAY’S MILWAUKEE COUNTY BOARD MEETING 

• 18-0 to receive and place on file a request from the Office of the Sheriff to grant a leave of absence for Captain Nancy Evans from the Classified to the Unclassified Service

• 14-4 (No: Haas, Johnson, Jursik, Mayo) to confirm the appointment of Mr. Patrick Farley to the position of Director of Administrative Services.

• 9-9 (veto sustained) (No: Alexander, Cullen, Johnson, Lipscomb, Mayo, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Stamper, Weishan) to override the County Executive’s veto of the 5-year Capital Development Plan from the Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture.

• 16-2 (No: Alexander, Sanfelippo) to approve an ordinance change related to residency waivers for positions in an unclassified service.

• 10-8 (No: Alexander, Borkowski, Bowen, Jursik, Romo West, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Taylor) to reject a resolution to fully develop a graduated defined contribution pension plan to replace the existing defined benefit plan, and to report back with a final plan for implementation.

• 11-7 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Cullen, Haas, Jursik, Lipscomb, Schmitt) (item failed to reach 2/3 supermajority necessary to withdraw funds from contingency) to allocate $150,000 in Contingency funds to the War Memorial Center.

• 13-5 (No: Alexander, Borkowski, Johnson, Romo West, Sanfelippo) to deny a request from the Office of the Sheriff to create a Transit Patrol Division for the patrol of Milwaukee County buses and the Milwaukee County harbor area.

• 13-5 (No: Borkowski, Jursik, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Taylor) to develop a process whereby designated representatives of authorized employee groups meet and confer with Milwaukee County management representatives on terms and conditions of employment and operational issues.

• 16-2 (No: Bowen, Sanfelippo) to increase by $125,000 and extend the term through December 31, 2012 for the Purchase of Services contract with Phoenix Care Systems, Inc., for the provision of Crisis Respite Home Services in the Disabilities Services Division.

• 17-1 (No: Sanfelippo) to enter into 2012 Purchase of Services contracts for the Behavioral Health Division related to the Mental Health Redesign and Community Resource Investment Initiative included in the 2012 Budget.

• 14-4 (No: Borkowski, Cullen, Harris, Taylor) to approve an amended request to extend the Purchase of Services Contract with Our Space for the Behavioral Health Division.

• 17-1 (No: Sanfelippo) to approve payment in the amount of $15,000 to Pledl & Cohn, S.C. in settlement of Scott E.M. Spates v. Jo-Jean Clemens, et al, United States District Case No. 10C1098.

• 14-4 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Cullen, Romo West) to approve payment in the amount of $37,055.84 to the Law Office of Michael A.I. Whitcomb for attorney’s fees incurred in Milwaukee County v. Clarke, Case No. 12-CV-350.

• 16-2 (No: Sanfelippo, Taylor) to approve an amended award to affected employees in the matter of Milwaukee County v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) resulting in the dismissal of the appeal in the Court of Appeals in this matter in return for a dismissal of all appeals and cross appeals by all parties in the litigation related to 2010.

• 17-0-1 (Abstain: Jursik) to refer back to the Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee a request to prepare, review, approve and execute all contract documents as required to hire Johnson Controls, Inc., an Energy Services Company (ESCO) previously approved by the County Board to provide Phase 2-Part B Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting, to repair and renew Milwaukee County building infrastructure based on the energy audits performed at selected County facilities and is contingent upon the satisfactory “Due Diligence” performed by DAS on each GESPC proposal.

• 11-7 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Haas, Jursik, Stamper, Taylor, Weishan) to enter into a lease agreement with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, effective February 1, 2012, for the lease of approximately 1,670 square feet of truck inspection facility space (Building 204) at Milwaukee County’s MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Force Reserve Station).

• 9-9 (item fails) (No: Bowen, Broderick, Haas, Jursik, Romo West, Stamper, Taylor, Weishan, Dimitrijevic) to enter into a lease agreement with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, effective February 1, 2012, for the lease of approximately 7,676 square feet of vehicle maintenance shop space (Building 104) and approximately 20 paved parking spaces at Milwaukee County’s MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Force Reserve Station).

• 12-3-3 (No: Borkowski, Sanfelippo, Schmitt; Abstain: Alexander, Bowen, Stamper) to approve a resolution urging the United States Congress to pass federal legislation limiting Student Loan interest rates, creating new loan forgiveness provisions, and converting some borrowers’ private loans to federal loans.

• 16-2 (No: Johnson, Weishan) to approve a revised development agreement and an agreement to implement the development of Block 26, in the Park East corridor.

• 18-0 to refer back to the Finance, Personnel & Audit Committee item A7 from the 2012 Appropriation Transfer Packet.

All other items on today’s agenda were approved with no objection. The complete digest agenda from today’s meeting can be found on the County Legislative Information Center:

http://milwaukeecounty.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Busy week ahead: 3 committee meetings, 2 community meetings

This week will be rather busy.  The Parks, Energy and Environment Committee meets on Tuesday, and my “SuperPass” resolutionis on deck that day. Its purpose is to form “a Workgroup to explore a Super Pass for various park, recreation and culture facilities with the purchase of one card.”  I have often tried to wrap my brain around the myriad admissions and membership policies of the many County Attractions ad cultural institutions, but it proved to be a bit above my pay grade. The groups’ heads together under the auspices of the chairman of VISIT Milwaukee, whom I know has a hunch on how to make something work.

Still on Parks Committee, the Quarterly Financial Update from the Milwaukee Public Museum may prove quite interesting. Also, the committee will approve and adopt the Parks Department’s 5-year Capital Development Plan, which hopes to get some of the $250 million of deferred maintenance taken care of.

Time Warner Cable is seeking a “limited term easement to  to allow for the placement of a new fiber optic conduit packet under park property to better serve the public.” This is at Lake Park, in particular. We’ll see what the Friends of Lake Park think o that proposal.

Finally, there is a resolution “authorizing the Public Art Program and Committee to be placed on an official hiatus to last no longer than the duration of 2012, while the County Executive along with the Department of Administrative Services provide reports on how to successfully locate an adequate funding source that will allow for the program’s reactivation and continuity, as outlined in County Board policy.”

The above is all Parks Committee stuff.  Then on Thursday is the  Finance and Audit Committee meeting, And here’s the agenda (PDF). Following that on Friday is the Personnel Committee meeting, some of the content from that meeting will overlap with the  Finance and Audit—hence our interest in combining the two committees.

Back to Monday. I had a meeting earlier today with Chris Linberg, former Executive Manager of Technology Services for MillerCoors, now the Milwaukee County Information Management Director.  Chris has made a big jump from MillerCoors to the County, and I’m very glad he’s on board. With him, we will be able to start moving into the 21st century. Like me, he was struck by the amount of drift that has occurred in the County over the past many years. A lot of things are stuck in the past, simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. With Chris’s help, we will change that for the better.

This afternoon we have a meeting at General Mitchell International Airport concerning the 128th Air Refueling Wing. The County Board has approved the concept of keeping the 128th here.  The meeting is with local businesses who may be affected if and when the federal government and Air Force decide to keep the 128th here and wish to expand it.

Wednesday has the Airport Gateway Business Improvement District’s annual meeting, and a County Dept. of Transportation lunch event. On Thursday we have the Army Corps of Engineers open house on the KK River rehabilitation, which runs from 4-7PM at the Jackson Park Boathouse, 3500 W. Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee.

Three committee meetings. Lots of phone calls and other events. Not too shabby.

Proposed merging of Finance & Audit, Personnel committees

The first legislative proposal from Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has been to merge two of our standing committees, the Finance and Audit committee, and the Personnel committee. In a conversation that I had with the chairwoman yesterday, she reports having a total of 13 co-sponsors for the resolution, which includes me. Let’s take a moment to look at the described duties of the committees.

Personnel: Employee relations, including collective bargaining, reclassification, compensation and conditions of employment of County personnel and officers are handled by this Committee. Members set policy for the Civil Service Commission and administer the county Employee Merit Award program.

In short, the committee sets employee and employment policies, including employee contracts and collective bargaining. If you ever want to see how a government really works from the inside, sit in on a personnel committee meeting. Once your head stops spinning at the facts and details being debated, you’ll have a much better understanding of how it works.

Finance and Audit: County budget matters, taxation and insurance are all reviewed by this Committee. Reports of the Department of Audit are discussed on a regular basis. Audit reports ensure other county departments implement program improvements and cost-saving recommendations of the County Board. This process provides the best service at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. In short, Finance Committee is in charge of crafting the budget after it comes down from the County Executive’s office. That’s pretty important, as Milwaukee County is a $1.2 billion entity. (Would you want a few part-time people to set the budget for the $1.2 billion corporation of which you are a direct owner?)

Now, here’s a link to the proposed legislation: Link (PDF). If you want to see the fiscal note for the resolution: Link (PDF). (There’s no fiscal impact as a result of this bill.)

On it, I noticed that Supervisors Cullen, Johnson, Borkowski, Broderick, Jursik, Dimitrijevic, Romo West, Haas, Lipscomb, Schmitt, Taylor, Sanfelippo, Harris and Alexander are all listed as co-sponsors. Supervisors David Cullen and Willie Johnson have been named as chairs of the Personnel Committee and Finance Committee, which are currently separate committees. They would be co-chairs of the, larger joint committee.

Given that it has 13 co-sponsors, and we now have just 18 supervisors, the resolution’s passage is all but assured.

What would be the effects of this resolution?

It is argued that the combining of the two committees would streamline the county legislative process. What happened very frequently was that resolutions that came to the personnel committee would also have to go to the finance committee, as their effects and purpose were intertwined. In the last (2008-2012) county board cycle, the Finance Committee met prior to Personnel Committee, meaning that even if Personnel rejected a resolution, if it had passed Finance, its passage by a majority of the whole board was virtually assured. This was in spite of the fact that Lee Holloway had stacked Personnel with hard-line conservatives, which had the effect of hurting labor contracts.

Now, we will have both committees in one group.  The meetings are likely to run much longer than before, as we will have to deal with arguably the most important elements of a government: its money and its staff. Hopefully, the gain in “efficiency” will not prevent good work from being done.

Also, let’s look at the current memberships of the two committees. I have italicized the duplicates:

Finance & Audit: Willie Johnson, Jr., Chair; David Cullen, Vice-Chair; Jim “Luigi” Schmitt; Peggy Romo West; Patricia Jursik; Jason Haas; Deanna Alexander

Personnel: David Cullen, Chair; Willie Johnson, Jr., Vice-Chair; Jim “Luigi” SchmittPatricia Jursik; Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.; Jason Haas; Russell Stamper II

The final, combined committee would have nine members:

Johnson, Cullen (co-chairs); Schmitt; Romo West; Jursik; Lipscomb; Haas; Alexander; Stamper

In thinking about the resolution, I can’t see many arguments against its passage. Having long meetings is not something a person in government legislation should be afraid of. Given the importance of these matters, it would be unadvisable for a person who is interested in getting out of there in a hurry to participate in the first place, or to try and stall it. Given the makeup of the proposed committee, I don’t see that happening.

What are your thoughts?

Ideas for The Pass coming to fruition

A few things have happened on The Pass, which my avid readers have witnessed being previously documented. A few more points on this topic:

1. It’s all about the revenues.

The institutions that I’m talking to about adopting The Pass have one overriding concern: making sure they don’t lose revenue. Be it ticket sales or membership revenue, quite naturally, they don’t want The Pass to impact their bottom line. God knows we’ve had enough of a challenge with that. But of course The Pass is intended to help their bottom line.

What, then, can simultaneously enhance their bottom line while making The Pass an attractive purchase for consumers?

2. Tie it in.

What would make The Pass an attractive purchase for consumers? Having the ability to do get you in the door. When I say that, most people think of going to a museum, or something like that. What about the Milwaukee County Transit System: what if The Pass could get you on the bus and in the door at a museum?

3. Visit once, visit twice.

Ensuring repeat business is vital to upholding our cultural institutions. Getting people in the door, giving them reason to come back.

Also, working with the group VISIT Milwaukee is looking like a better and better idea. While I’m not in tourism, they specialize in it. We need to talk. Hopefully today’s phone tag will result in a tomorrow’s productive conversation.

4. If we build it, we have many and much better ways to ensure that they’ll come.

This isn’t bathed in the summer-night glow of Field of Dreams. The fact that you make something doesn’t mean people will use it unless you let them know it’s there. Or practically give it to them. We do have tools like social media that didn’t really exist just ten years ago. That gives us very low-cost ways to get the word out fast and wide.

Say, remember what I said about how people may not use it unless you practically give it to them? I remember hearing from people during my 2011 campaign: “Put it in the property tax bill. It’ll make me feel like I’m getting something good when it’s time to pay my taxes.”

We just might do that, pending legislative approval.

5. Sounds great, sounds easy, but it’s not.

Ever looked at the admissions prices for some of our County Attractions? Options for admissions and membership and many. And they are different for each institution. And for good reason: MPM has different needs than MAM, which in turn are different from those of Boerner Botanical Gardens or the Mitchell Park Domes. Just like my job: it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

What would you like to see The Pass be? Your comments are welcome.

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