For the most part over the past ten years I've agreed with the Shepard Express editorials. This weeks piece though regarding "saving mass transit" is something that needs to be pointed out.
A fairly normal editorial piece that starts out under the premise of supporting mass transit – great, I say – turns into a ham fisted attempt to blame the current Milwaukee County Executive for the problems our transit system has with funding and then goes on the praise the County Board. I've noticed this several times over the past few months from the Shepard, but this one really caught my eye because they're basically blaming Abele for not raising a County sales tax to support transit when he has no authority to do so.
Now we have a new county executive who again opposes the will of county residents. It is very clear that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele does not want to raise any tax, no matter what the need, because he wants to be able to claim when he runs for higher office, as his friends say he will, that as county executive he never raised taxes. He is focused on appeasing the tea party crowd.
So my question is why is Abele being called out for "not wanting raise any tax" in the context of a 1% County sales tax, when it's the State legislature and not County Government that is able to do so? I mean, if you're going to blame the current County Exec for not raising the sales tax, why not blame the County Board too since they haven't raised the sales tax either? How about the Milwaukee County medical examiner or the Sheriff?
They all have the same authority – none – as the County Executive to raise the Milwaukee County sales tax. Yet, the Shepard Express chooses to place the blame for this at the feet of only a single person.
Then it goes into a bizarre personal missive against him:
Unfortunately, since Abele has had no education in or experience with taxation—or government in general—and the uniqueness of Wisconsin’s more progressive sales tax, he is again making poor decisions because, as usual, he refuses to listen to anyone and does not seem to be able to learn how government actually works. Then the piece goes on to praise the County Board as it seems to do at every opportunity regardless of the issue.
I get a lot of people are looking for someone to fill the role of villain since Gov. Walker left town a few years ago, and perhaps to them, the County Exec's office feels like a comfortable place to continue to direct their anger. That seems to be the case here with the Shepard Express trying to blame Abele for something he has no control over. They might as well blame him for the gridlock in Washington DC while they're at it.
I should point out that I'm not trying to play fanboy here or curry favor with the County Exec. I'm sure some will make that elementary assumption because they disagree. My recent siding with him on a number of issues are because I have a fairly pragmatic opinion of the issues facing Milwaukee County right now, and I happen to agree with his recent positions on a number of those issues.