Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Board Approves Transgender Sanctuary Designation

Plus: Union-made vehicle policy, Jail Visitation Study, and multi-lingual communication resolution all approved by board.

By - Sep 22nd, 2023 10:08 am
Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to designate Milwaukee County a transgender and non-binary sanctuary.

The resolution was sponsored by Sup. Ryan Clancy, who said transgender people have high rates of suicide attempts and ideation.

“And I’ve seen the struggles of many folks in our community that back those numbers up. The science says clearly that gender is not binary, that sometimes as parents and doctors, we get it wrong at birth,” the supervisor said. “And that puberty blockers, HRT and other drugs and procedures for gender-affirming care are overwhelmingly safe and have been used for many years and that gender-affirming care saves lives.”

Sup. Deanna Alexander, who opposed the policy, said the resolution attempts to pre-empt state law that doesn’t exist yet. She pointed to a clause that states, “if the state of Wisconsin passes a law that imposes criminal or civil punishments, fines, or professional sanctions on any person or organization that seeks, provides, receives or helps someone to receive gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers, hormones, or surgery, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors urges the Milwaukee County Sheriff to make enforcement their lowest priority.”

The supervisor said it’s a “disservice” to the public to make a “blanket statement not to enforce” any rules or laws that have not been created yet. “But we’re taking a stab now before they ever write it, hear it, listen to the public on it or make a decision on it.”

Supervisors Steven Shea and Caroline Gómez-Tom spoke in favor of the resolution.

“So this resolution is an effort to say to transgender and nonbinary community in Milwaukee County, that Milwaukee County will not tolerate violence against you,” Shea said.

“I’d like to just reiterate that our trans and nonbinary neighbors, friends and family deserve our unconditional love and protection, especially when there are so many voices and forces coming out against them either in verbal or actual physical violence,” Gómez-Tom said.

The board voted 12 to 4 in favor of the resolution. Supervisors Alexander, Patti Logsdon, Tony Staskunas and Steve Taylor voted in opposition.

Read past coverage on Urban Milwaukee.

Union-Made Vehicle Policy Passed

The board also approved legislation Thursday that requires the county to buy union-made vehicles.

Sup. Peter Burgelis sponsored the resolution, which requires all fleet vehicles — cars and work trucks — for county government be purchased from automotive companies whose workers are represented by United Auto Workers (UAW).

In the U.S. the big three automakers –Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (created by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot in 2021)— are unionized. Other manufacturers with footprints in North America — Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Honda — do not have organized workforces.

Burgelis has characterized the resolution as an opportunity for the county to put values ahead of financial considerations.

The board unanimously adopted the resolution.

Since the resolution was first introduced, UAW has called a nationwide strike. Workers walked out of automotive plants Sept. 15 after negotiations between the big three automakers and the union broke down. The workers remain on strike.

Read past coverage of this legislation on Urban Milwaukee.

Funding Authorized For Jail Visitation Study

The board approved funding for a feasibility study to determine how much it would cost to bring in-person visitation back to the Milwaukee County Jail.

The legislation appropriates $151,000 from the county’s rainy day account to fund the study. The in-person visitation area in the jail has not been used since 2002 and has deteriorated to the point that the county’s facilities staff cannot renovate it themselves.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) suggested the study as a way to determine what exactly is needed for the facility to be reopened. The resolution was sponsored by Sup. Shawn Rolland. “My expectation is that this is a project that looks at what gives us the ability to reopen visitation within the jail, to be able to have families reconnect with people in the jail. And not any other bells and whistles beyond that, we don’t need gold-plated toilets or anything like that,” said the supervisor.

The board adopted the resolution unanimously.

Read past coverage on Urban Milwaukee.

Multi-Lingual Communication Policy Approved

The board also unanimously approved a resolution authored by Sup. Gómez-Tom requesting a countywide strategy for multi-lingual communication.

The legislation asks county departments to develop a plan for making important government information and services available in languages other than english.

“Accessibility to vital public information is a cornerstone of equity. It is essential that our residents, regardless of the language they speak, have the necessary resources to be well-informed. This isn’t just about information; it’s about ensuring that our community members can thrive and understand the intricacies of what happens in our County,” Gómez-Tom said in a statement after Thursday’s meeting. “Spanish, Hmong, and other languages play an integral role in the lives of many Milwaukee residents. They deserve representation in our communication.”

Read past coverage on Urban Milwaukee.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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