Willie Johnson, Jr
Press Release

Supervisor Johnson: Abele’s Estabrook Scheme Offensive

"His anti-democratic scheme exploits the special powers granted to him by the Republican legislature in Madison."

By - Oct 25th, 2016 08:23 am
Estabrook Dam

Estabrook Dam

MILWAUKEE – In a statement released Monday, County Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr., expressed his outrage over the County Executive’s scheme to rezone County-owned parkland, so that it can be sold to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District without public oversight.

“On behalf of my constituents who live near Lincoln Park and who have experienced significant property loss due to flooding, I’m outraged that the County Executive believes it is appropriate for him to ignore the Board’s rightful role to authorize or deny the sale of County parkland because he doesn’t like the long-established County policy to repair the Estabrook dam.

“The Milwaukee County Board appropriately took action to establish policies and allocate funds to repair the Estabrook dam, but County Executive Abele has refused to direct his Parks department to implement these policies, and my constituents have suffered as a result. The County Board authorized, and Abele signed, $1.6 million to repair the dam in 2013. The Board overrode Mr. Abele‘s veto of additional funds authorization in 2015, and voted again to reauthorize funds for repair in 2016, which Abele also signed, but refused to implement.

“Even more outrageous than the County Executive’s refusal to implement the long-established policy of repair is his so-called “end-run” that undermines the role of the County Board as the appropriate authority over sales of County-owned parkland. This is not the way our democracy should work. His anti-democratic scheme exploits the special powers granted to him by the Republican legislature in Madison, which were not intended for this purpose.

“Abele’s interpretation that he has the authority to sell parkland if it is rezoned as something other than parkland is incorrect. Act 55 makes clear that only the County Board has the authority to sell county land that is zoned as parkland “on or after” July 14, 2015. The Estabrook Park land in question was in fact zoned as park land both on and after July 14, 2015.

“County Executive Abele’s administration has been secretly planning this scheme to undermine the democratically established policy of the board for months and never once did he, his staff, the Milwaukee mayor, any Milwaukee alderpersons, or the staff of MMSD come to us to discuss their intentions. I’m outraged at the undemocratic maneuvering of these individuals to ignore the lawfully established role of the County Board. The County Executive’s behavior is offensive to me and my constituents, and the people of Milwaukee County should be concerned about the very dangerous precedent this action sets regarding the potential for future sales of parkland with no true public oversight.”

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