Milwaukee County Supervisors Khalif Rainey and Russell Stamper II this week said they would introduce a resolution requiring supervisors to provide an explanation when they abstain from voting on the Board floor or in committee, saying that the residents of Milwaukee County demand such transparency.
“We have approximately 54,000 people in each of our districts who deserve an explanation for any abstention,” Rainey said.
“If supervisors have a good excuse for abstaining, they should explain it to the Board and to their constituents.
That way, the people of Milwaukee County will not be left to wonder whether there is some sort of conflict of interest or other reason for staying out of an issue.”
Rainey and Stamper said they became concerned about the issue after an abstention by a supervisor from a vote to reject a $9 million contract with Encore One, doing business as CleanPower. The contract was for the purpose of housekeeping and janitorial services in Milwaukee County facilities.
“If there is a conflict of interest, the public has a right to know,” Stamper said.
“A supervisor used the existing Board rules to abstain from a vote on a $9 million contract.
Supervisors were elected to vote and the public deserves to know why they abstain.
If you’re not going to vote, then you should provide a reason. This incident was a red flag for transparency.”
The CleanPower contract was rejected Thursday on a 17-0 vote of the full Board, with one abstention that came without explanation.
“Refusing to vote and refusing to give the public an explanation for failing to represent constituents’ interests on a multi-million dollar contract does not pass the smell test,” Stamper said.
“The public deserves greater transparency from their elected officials, so we are researching how other legislative bodies handle abstention votes and will introduce legislation to create greater accountability by the Board.”
Stamper said the resolution would end any speculation by requiring a full explanation of abstentions.
“The Board deserves transparency, our constituents deserve it, and the people of Milwaukee County deserve it,” Rainey said.
“We need to require such explanations to provide full transparency for the people of Milwaukee County.”