1) Can a Milwaukee County Supervisor at the same time hold the position of Alderman in the City of Franklin?
2) Can a Milwaukee County Supervisor at the same time hold the position of Acting Mayor in the City of Franklin?
As expected City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski pronounced it legally OK for Alderman Steve Taylor to keep his 4th Alderman’s position, Common Council Presidency and Acting Mayor (when Mayor Taylor is indisposed). In short he said it was Legal, nothing more, nothing less.
Here is what citizens, the Alderman and the Mayor had to say:
Bob Swendrowski (Former Mayoral Candidate and Whitnal School Board member,Citizen Comment):
I know you don’t want to see me here. I am here regarding item G3 Compatibility with the office of Alderman and County Supervisor ect.
I just wanted to give you a brief history of people who had dual positions as elected office, one was Kathy Arciszewski who was a Village Trustee for Greendale also a County Supervisor. Over her years of service there were a number of conflicts of interest which she dedicated a lot of her votes to. Was it to Greendale or the county side? Another one was Don Almquist who was a Greenfield Alderman and School District Official. Same thing happened with him.
So first of all Alderman Taylor, congratulations on being elected supervisor. But I personally believe being involved in politics for 30 plus years before I decided to step away from it. I don’t see how you can actually commit 110% of your time to both the positions as a County Supervisor and as an Alderman in your District and representing the city of Franklin.
Yes you are dedicated to the City of Franklin, but again the amount of appointments you’re going to be having in Franklin on committees, as a County Supervisor, granted you are going to have support staff with the county being paid 30 to 35 thousand a year. But again where is your dedication? Is it to the residents of your district and to the city of Franklin? What’s going to happen when it comes down to road widening? What about Highway 100, Franklin and Hales Corners? Where are you going to stand on these issues? Are you going to favor Oak Creek and Hales Corners over Franklin? Or favor Franklin over Oak Creek and Hales Corners?
It is my suggestion sir that you seriously take a look at resigning your position as Franklin Alderman, President of the Common Council and Acting Mayor when Mayor Taylor is not available.
You have to make a commitment, a commitment that should be one or the other. YOU CAN NOT BE BOTH! If you want to do the job justice, make a commitment to one.
I would urge the Aldermen to support a move to ask for his resignation as an Alderman in the City of Franklin. Let someone else take that job over, making a commitment to the people of his district.
Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm:
Well…. I am satisfied with that answer (referring to the statement City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski made declaring there was no legal reason Alderman Taylor could not hold all offices) without going out and giving the City Attorney more work. I don’t see the necessity for a motion when we have our answer here this evening unless anything else changes and he should then bring that back to us. I am also aware that legal council is available to council members and should something come up, members that have different seats should be able to get legal council to get a judgment if there is a conflict of interest, prior to any meeting votes.
I guess we already have sitting on the planning commission one member who works for the Metropolitan Sewerage District, we have one member who works for the County sitting on that board as well and this hasn’t come up about that issue. I am going to guess the City Attorney opinion here would apply to those individuals as well.
I know the Alderman is one that will do much more and already has done much more that just showing up to meetings that than the previous 9th District Supervisor. So we are already ahead of the game. I’m pleased to have some Franklin representation and I guess I see that he is dedicated and until I see he is putting on weight, from sitting around doing nothing. (Chuckle) I’ll wait to see he can’t pull off all of these duties. He should be given the opportunity to fulfill his duties as people elected him to do and I guess I will leave it at that. Thank You.
Alderman Ken Skowronski:
When you are representing three faces of government and you representing three government bodies in a county wide item….the city Attorney says its legal but there is more than a legal item here. There is a morale or morality issue on who are you going to represent, TRULY REPRESENT in issues that could be contentious, could make a difference on financial items, could make a difference on items that have been kind of laying dormant that has to be done. I have a very uncomfortable about that. You can’t be a master to three communities and three government bodies and three government positions. I will leave it at that and will reserve my judgment.
Mayor Tom Taylor:
I think it is pretty clear the city attorney has done massive research on the subject. I am hoping the newspapers will get the story out so that all of us do not have to answer this 10,000 times, the question about how is that possible.
I still have, and Alderman Taylor knows this, as we went through the campaign, I still have reservations and I’ll tell you why.
While it is legal and he can do what he wishes to do, I do see some potential conflicts of interest as to which master do you serve and would site recent negotiations with Milwaukee County and the 19 municipalities on the EMS/Paramedic contracts. In the fact the County Board of Supervisors cut the funding in half, municipalities across the entire Milwaukee County were very upset about that. I was the leader of that revolt so-to-speak and I know firsthand. We have had an issue with North Cape Road for I don’t know how many years. I don’t think anyone driving down North Cape Road would not agree that that road needs repairs. We have been trying to get Milwaukee County to do that and they keep moving money in different directions.
We could have a situation where Oak Creek is asking for 13th street to be repaired. Hales Corners is looking for dollars and we are still looking for the money for North Cape Road.
So that is very difficult.. Maybe Alderman Taylor can walk the fine line, but I think it’s going to be tough and I think there are going to be times where it is going to cause chilling effects on the Council. Especially in the times when we need to go into closed sessions to discuss negotiations on things.
The city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County went after the Kohls Corporation. It hit all the newspapers. They were willing to cough up 125 million dollars to bring Kohls to their city. We are going after Kohls and continue to go after Kohls so there is another conflict of interest.
And as much as the municipalities, the county, and state do not like to get into completion, it is competition and its fierce completion. We fight over positions whether it be engineering positions or city clerk positions in trying to recruit the best. There could be conflicts of interest when we go into collective bargaining negotiations, Oak Creek may want to settle with its firefighters for X amount of dollars and benefit level, were in direct competition with that. Milwaukee County might enter into its negotiations with its unions, sets a pattern.
Zoning restrictions….We had a plethora of zoning issues or zoning WARS with Milwaukee County, it’s just a fact of life.
Park Properties, We have tried to secure land with Milwaukee County and continue to do so. We also ask for land to be placed in surplus with Milwaukee County.
The one that every one remembers is the 76th Street, the county, would say or promise that package was going to be 70 – 30, I am sorry 80-20, and then without consultation to anyone, unilaterally change the policy at the County Board level and change it to something more like 70-30 which for the people of Franklin, we’re all looking at millions of dollars as an impact of that and that is another situation where we have been after the county to repair that road for …… 12 years! And every time we change County Executive hats we get different answers on what’s the status of 76th street so……..
Alderman Taylor and I, we did have discussion during the campaign, he knows full well that I had a strong position on this subject and I’m bringing it forward. I hope him well. I think he’s very bright, I guess your now Second Chair on the County Board or Third Chair and will be appointed to many committees. I would offer my services to him if I can, I do have some experience down there. But I would just ask the Alderman, ahhh County Supervisor, to weigh things that are coming up from the citizens and I think it’s tough and I think you do your job well in both aspects there won’t be a problem.
Alderman Tim Solomon:
I’d just like to weigh in and I this is a little….
I realize there may be conflicts of interest. He may have to recuse himself in some cases. Some very tough cases, where we would obviously like his input. He does a very good job; he’s a conscientious hard working you man. I would think that if he finds he can’t do it, a month or two or three down the road, then he’s probably going to have to make a choice.
But until then, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let him move forward and wish him well in both endeavors.
Alderman Doug Schmidt:
I would concur with Alderman Solomon.
I think that there may be a perception that there is some potential of a conflict of interest.
I think we are very fortunate at this point that we have someone who is an ally of us sitting here opposed to the other county supervisor who was missing in action. . At least we will gain some benefit from this. I think we should proceed and see how it goes.
AlderVisor Steve Taylor:
Well I appreciate the input from my colleagues and it’s not surprising what was said from each one of em, so I’ll leave it at that.
We have two people that show up to the meeting asking me to go away, that doesn’t surprise me either.
I just want to tell you that I spent the last three months, knocking on doors and everything that came outside my district besides the 72% of the vote was that you better keep doing what you’re doing. As this point in time I have made no decision on if I will leave, when I’ll leave and when I get to the decision at some point and that’s when I tell you I am going somewhere. But in no way shape or form would I put the city in jeopardy or the County in jeopardy. We have the best City Attorney in the state; we have corporate council downtown at the court house, and if there was an issue that came before this body or the county board, at that time I would make a decision to abstain. If it was a closed session, which I cannot prevent from being in I would remove myself so…. In the mean time I am going to do what I do best, serve the residents of the 4th district and I will have the new 9th Supervisory District. I think I have been down there pretty much every day this past two weeks. Which my staff is telling me is more than my predecessor has been in the previous year.
So I appreciate the input and I take in consideration where it came from and we’ll just leave it at that!
Bottom Line folks is that AlderVisor Steve Taylor doesn’t really care what anyone thinks. He legally won both offices and don’t expect him to give up his Franklin duties in the near future. After all he did quit his day job and bought a new car!
I wonder if he has a staff member drive him around?