Home / News / Expresso / Issue of the Week: Abele Is Willing to Waste Taxpayer Dollars on Frivolous Transit Lawsuit

Issue of the Week: Abele Is Willing to Waste Taxpayer Dollars on Frivolous Transit Lawsuit

Mar. 12, 2014
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Once again, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get his way.

A legally appointed panel of Milwaukee County supervisors voted to reject the Abele administration’s decision to award a half-billion-dollar contract to MV Transportation to operate the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). The panel worked through hundreds of pages of legal documents, listened to a full day of testimony and deliberated with the help of Corporation Counsel Paul Bargren. The panel found that MV did not win legitimately—it had the lowest score for service and it low-balled its bid—and that the Abele administration’s request for proposal (RFP) process was so flawed that the county couldn’t begin negotiating with another bidder. They recommended that the administration issue a new RFP that would hold up to scrutiny.

Abele appears to treat the county resources as his own and tries to steer county contracts to his friends. When he is called out for it, he goes into one of his hissy fits.

Abele is now threatening to sue to get his way. In a letter sent on Monday, Abele asked the board to work with him on a “compromise.” Abele’s version of compromising is asking the board to help him take away board oversight of RFP appeals, so that it cannot overrule him, as it did on the MV contract. “If at least ten supervisors will commit by March 19, 2014, to changing this [appeals] process as set forth above, we will not move forward with legal action,” Abele wrote.

Board spokesman Bill Zaferos told the Shepherd this latest threat from Abele is part of a pattern when Abele doesn’t get his way.

“This isn’t a compromise, this is a threat,” Zaferos said. “He’s threatening to file a lawsuit costing taxpayers thousands of dollars because he didn’t like the results of an open and transparent and thoughtful process.”

(For Supervisor Tony Staskunas’ response, go to the Daily Dose blog on expressmilwaukee.com.)

Abele spent a ton of his family’s money to get himself elected by portraying himself as someone who can build consensus. Unfortunately, that image in his TV ads was very far from the truth. Milwaukee County voters instead got someone who is too immature and spoiled to work with others. He has proved time and again that he cannot work out a “compromise” with the board—or anyone. Instead, he either runs to his Republican pals in the legislature to get his way and override his Democratic opposition or he threatens to sue and waste taxpayers’ money on private attorneys. Abele should admit that his transit contract was poorly designed and learn from his mistakes when issuing a new one. Unfortunately, we think Abele is too arrogant and self-interested to think of the impact his tantrums are having on county taxpayers. We ask him to grow up and learn how to work with others.


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