County Executive Not Exempt From Judicial Review
A resolution granting authorization to refile the lawsuit is now before the Board.
Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., expects to re-file a lawsuit against County Executive Chris Abele, seeking a judicial ruling on the proper checks and balances on executive authority.
“On Thursday, the Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee will consider a measure to re-file a lawsuit against County Executive Chris Abele for his unilateral actions in giving exorbitant pay raises to his political appointees.” Lipscomb said.
A previous lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds, with the judge expressly stating that the dismissal was “without prejudice,” meaning that a new lawsuit may be filed to ensure that County Executive Abele acts within the proper scope of his lawful authority. The previous lawsuit was authorized by the County Board on a 14-2 vote. The contract amendment for legal services included representation in a lawsuit and was signed by the County Executive.
“Judge Sosnay acknowledged in open court that the case raised a significant legal issue regarding the scope of the County Executive’s authority to unilaterally grant pay raises to certain county employees,” Attorney Lester Pines said. “The County Executive has repeatedly taken unilateral actions that conflict with County policies, and exceed his statutory authority. Now he is focused on evading judicial review of his actions.”
“There is a difference of opinion about the law, and we’re asking the court to make a judgment based on the merits of the case. Taxpayers need to know if the Executive can provide unilateral raises of nearly $50,000 to his political appointees. Furthermore, the public needs to know whether the Executive can refuse to appear before the public during legislative deliberations.” Lipscomb said.
“Does County Executive Abele think he’s immune from judicial review? His continued delays regarding these legal matters certainly create that impression, and taxpayers deserve a resolution to these issues.
“When given the chance, I trust the court to definitively rule on whether the County Executive can unilaterally give his appointees huge pay increases. In addition, we would like the court to rule on whether the County Executive can continually ignore lawful requests for him to appear publicly and discuss key issues affecting County citizens.
“County Executive Abele’s unauthorized raises to his political appointees exceed the total costs of the lawsuit, and his litigation strategy has merely delayed a decision on the merits in the case. County Executive Abele is wasting taxpayer funds through his actions.” Lipscomb added.
A resolution granting authorization to refile the lawsuit is now before the Board. Once approved, the lawsuit will go forward.