Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Government Downsizing: Not In My Backyard

Smaller government and local control are both considered convictions of modern conservative thought. That seems to be creating quite the confusion in the conservative Wisconsin bastion of Waukesha County.

Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas wants to cut the Waukesha County Board from 35 members to roughly 19-25 members. The goal here is saving money (efficiency is also mentioned, but the point of that is really to save more money). The suggestion, however, seems to be causing some conflicted feelings amongst Board members.

Mukwonago Town Board member Barbara Holtz had the most telling response to the plan: "I'm all for less government that does a better job. And yet, I hate to reduce our representation." So, in other words, she believes that cutting government makes government better, but she's afraid that cutting her government will make it worse.

The issue here is maintaining local control vs. restricting local government. Cutting board members will certainly help to restrict local government, undoubtedly saving money. But doing so would also reduce local control by providing fewer representatives in an area where population is growing.

Even support for the plan is hesitant. Here's Brookfield Mayor Jeff Speaker on the issue: "That's not all that bad. I guess I'm open to it." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

These conflicted feelings over the downsizing plan laid out by Vrakas highlight the same tension that exists for moderate Republicans when confronted with the revenue restrictions amendment. Most of the Republicans who are on the fence regarding the amendment previously held posts in local government and are fearful of losing local control, which would happen if the amendment was passed. In order to do a little arm twisting, pro-revenue restrictions advocates--i.e., the business lobby--are undertaking a PR blitz to put pressure on these waffling moderates.

It will be interesting to see how the Vrakas downsizing proposal plays out in Waukesha County, as it will be interesting to see how moderate state Republicans respond to special interest pressure to support the revenue restrictions amendment. Which side prevails in each will be a telling statement on the direction of the conservative movement in the state. Is it heading toward strengthening local control or is it choosing to make the more extreme leap of restricting that control?


Blogger WatchdogMilwaukee.com said...

You're missing the point. Every person who is in an Executive branch level prefers to see a consolidation of power -- specifically under him.

Ament wanted fewer Supervisors and now Walker wants fewer Supervisors. Vrakas is just looking for a way to consolidate his hold on power.

People who, without analysis, favor eliminating or greatly downsizing legislative branches are typically advocating that position due to either a candidate or a partisan loyalty. But if you really look at the net cost of each Supervisor to the taxpayer, you'll find that it is really nearly inconsequential in comparison to the size of their budgets.

The real question is, do you want more oversight, or less oversight? Apparently Vrakas wants less.

February 15, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I agree, Jim, that most execs are interested in cosolidating power. Fewer supervisors means less potential opposition for execs to deal with on the board.

But you actually missed my point, which was really more about the response to downsizing by supervisors than the fact that Vrakas made such a proposal. The conflicted responses suggested to me a tension between the conservative values of smaller government and maintaining local control.

February 16, 2006  
Blogger molliemous said...

Really…enough about the McBride of Frankenstein don’t you think?
From Jessica McBride’s Valentines Day post:
“There is no reason to have 35 county supervisors in Waukesha County. Will we save that much by cutting the board? Not in the grand scheme of the overall county budget. But why should we spend anything for supervisors for which no one has convinced us there is a compelling need?”
Well missy…let’s cut to the chase. Let’s get the Waukesha County Board down to a reasonable number…say five. They, or the voters, select the board chair. Keep the board staff…and, after the voters concur, be rid of the county executive and executive staff.
Now you’re talking real savings and efficiency right. Now on to that overblown, overstaffed state legislature and those totally duplicative fifty states. Canada does quite nicely with twelve provinces, thank you.
Let the people decide indeed!!

February 16, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I like your enthusiasm.

I'd be nice if Jessica would allow for comments on her blog. It would be interesting to see how she would respond to questions like the one you raise.

February 16, 2006  
Blogger molliemous said...

Too bad Jeff Wagner's such an isolationist too!

Dear Jeff,

Read your pithy post about the size of county boards in our area. I found some of your comments to be less than flattering to the residents of the districts you're hoping to influence with your diatribe. Accusing ninety percent of them, with nothing other than your knee cap for a point of reference, of not knowing whom their county board supervisor is not exactly flattering to their image as engaged citizens.

It's really sad that a man of your intellect and influence would use his powerful position to denigrate a unit of local government, the level of government historically embraced by the G.O.P. as the best form of government. Americans, as well as their leaders, have nursed a preference for government close to the people since the very inception of the republic. County government today is often the mechanism by which geographically or socially pervasive challenges are met with strategies that are locally initiated and accountable.

Face this, Jeff. Counties are creatures of the state. If they went out of existence in their entirety tomorrow, just how happy do you think the members of the state legislature would be answering all of the calls and emails from the constituents who currently turn to their county government for the help they need? Perhaps you should ask them how eager they are to accept that challenge.

You know Jeff; I’ve got a hard time trying to understand what makes you so mean. Is the short answer that you’re hurt? Is it the long answer that you really do hurt? At some point, did somebody—your parents, your lovers, Lady Luck—did you dirty. You were crushed. And you're still afraid the pain will never stop, or that it will happen again?

You need help, Jeff No matter what individual personal demons and negative voices continue to infiltrate the sanctuary of your innermost thoughts, here are ten proven guidelines to help you silence them once and for all:

1. Think of ways you can be your absolute best.

2. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.

3. Consistently remind yourself of what you are becoming.

4. Have faith in yourself and know your dreams will come true.

5. Challenge yourself to become all you can be, more than you’ve ever been.

6. Encourage yourself to keep going as you continue to build and expand on this “work in progress” that will eventually become the “new you.”

7. Acknowledge your successes.

8. Remain unconditionally constructive.

9. Allow yourself the freedom and personal grace to achieve greatness.

10. Take a stand for the success you truly deserve.

When you hear the painful demons and voices, you must disagree and fight back. Turn to the truth of your innermost beauty and positive sense of self and focus on your many talents and the incredible character that represents who you truly are. Then play them over and over again in the theater of your mind.

See the ball, be the ball. Come to the light.



February 16, 2006  

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