By State Representative, Leon D. Young
There is a new movement under foot to restructure Milwaukee County government, by creating a Milwaukee County comptroller position. Interestingly enough, this legislative proposal is being touted by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and is co-authored by Senate Alberta Darling and Representative Dale Kooyenga – who are both Republicans.
Under this proposed restructuring scheme, the office of the county treasurer would be renamed; an elective office of the county comptroller for Milwaukee County would be created; and the duties and responsibilities of the Milwaukee County treasurer would be expanded and then transferred to that elective comptroller’s office. More importantly, this legislation would only impact Milwaukee County, since it’s the only county in Wisconsin with a population of at least 750,000 residents.
Ironically, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, the people with real, first-hand knowledge of Milwaukee County governance, opposes this legislation for a number of reasons. First, the proposed legislation only applies to Milwaukee County. Second, this legislation could potentially pose a Constitutional challenge, since it modifies the title of only the Milwaukee County Treasurer’s Office, the qualifications of this office, and the functions of this office. Third, it politicizes this new county comptroller’s office by holding its election every four years in the general (November) election. And lastly, under this bill, the Milwaukee County comptroller would be required to perform all audit functions. Thus, this move would undermine the system’s checks and balances.
This bill is now on the fast legislative track, with a public hearing having been held earlier this week. This begs the question: What do Albert Darling, Dale Kooyenga or the Greater Milwaukee Committee, for that matter, know about the nuances of Milwaukee County government? I dare say NOT as much as the Milwaukee County Executive or the Board of Milwaukee County Supervisors.
In any event, this is yet another example of a Republican power grab attempt, and a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.