African American leaders denounce bill to cut County Board power
United in their opposition to a state bill designed to limit pay, power and budget of the Milwaukee County Board, African American leaders stood together at a press conference on Monday, Feb. 25 held at the Martin Luther King Community Center at 1531 W. Vliet St.
“The African American community needs more jobs, not less representation and less accountability for local government,” said Mike Wilder of the African American Roundtable, who spoke at the event. “The planned takeover will silence underrepresented voices, especially communities of color, while concentrating more power in the hands of politicians and the corporate elite.”
“This proposal is not one that the citizens have asked for but rather one that the business community determined was necessary. Many in the community perceive this as either a takeover or a power grab that will ultimately disenfranchise the everyday person.
The County Board has and continues to be a great forum for civic engagement, helping to groom our future public servants. Our own U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was once a County Board Supervisor. The County Board is a government body that truly reflects the breadth of diversity within the state of Wisconsin especially for women and minorities. The many changes delineated in this bill in addition to the reduction of funds will limit opportunities and access for all who seek to be active and engaged in their community. It reduces the Board’s ability to help constituents resolve their problems at the County level.
Additionally, the proposed cut to the Milwaukee County Board will also make maintaining a system of checks and balances at the County government nearly impossible and would destroy the very concept of local control.
“This proposal by the Wisconsin State Legislature to enact these draconian cuts is misguided and will ultimately render the local County Board incapable of providing necessary services for the people of Milwaukee County. The Milwaukee County Board is more than capable of determining how to reduce the cost of local government and increase efficiency – and we should let them do it.”
Rep. Mandela Barnes, State Sen. Nikiya Harris, County Supervisors David Bowen, Russell Stamper II, WIllie Johnson, and the Rev. Greg Lewis of Pastors United all spoke and showed their united support at the press conference.