Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Who cares about County Board salaries?

While I run a business that I intentionally decided to locate in the City of Milwaukee, I am not a resident of Milwaukee County. So  whether or not Milwaukee County Board Supervisors are paid a full time salary for a part time job has no direct impact on me. What interests me is the way in which the  controversy has become a liberal/conservative issue. For the most part, it is folks on the left who want Board members to be paid a fairly decent salary for make work.
Let's stop for a moment. I will not take seriously anyone who tries to tell me that the job of a County Board Supervisor is full time. Too many people - of all political persuasions - have done an apparently adequate job of serving on the board while remaining gainfully employed in some other way. One can certainly use a position on the board to enable one to engage in free floating political activism claimed to be for the "benefit" of county residents. But that doesn't mean that it requires forty hours each week to do those things that the County Board must do.
Of course, some people may believe that "activist" supervisors are a good thing. There lies your conservative/liberal breakdown. If you believe that the county government should do more and that people in Milwaukee County need more of what politics can bring, then creating more politicians - people who do politics for a living - might be a good thing. A part-time board may be more likely to stick to knitting and work for a County government that does less. The kind of board members that a part-time salary attracts - because they must earn a living doing something else - may be less likely to see the world as something to be ordered by politics.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

County government is going to be "ordered by politics" whether it's run by a county executive doing the Greater Milwaukee Committee's bidding or whether it's run by county supervisors who make their job a full-time job. In either case, politics dictates outcomes. It's just a matter of who will have the power. You've made the same point yourself about how judges are chosen. As you have said, when judges are appointed rather than elected, politics are still involved; it's just a different kind of politics.

If you believe a county executive who heeds the advice of moneyed and business interests is more likely to make wise decisions than a bunch of elected supervisors, you'll support making the county board a part-time gig paying little. Then the supervisors become like wallpaper. I'm not particularly persuaded about the wisdom of most local elected officials, so you may well be right.

But don't think for one second that reducing the power of county supervisors means that county government is not going to be "ordered by politics." County government is inherently political, and no less so just because an elected county exec would have more power than he does now.

Anonymous said...

Paid a "fairly decent salary for make work"? Milwaukee County has a budget of $1.3 billion dollars. In the private sector, a board member sharing in the responsibility for oversight of a budget of that size could expect, oh, let's say $126K (the average compensation for a Wisconsin public company director). In 2011 MGIC had roughly comparable revenues of about $1.5 billion (and a net loss of just under half a billion, if that matters). How much do MGIC directors get paid for their very part-time work? Oh, it's about $228K.

Milwaukee County supervisors make $50,679 a year. "Fairly decent salary," I guess.

If you want to attract reasonably competent people to the job of supervising county government, for a county of the size of Milwaukee County, you've got to pay them something fair for their time. Corporate boards do, for work that is far more part-time than serving as a county supervisor.

Anonymous said...

"So whether or not Milwaukee County Board Supervisors are paid a full time salary for a part time job has no direct impact on me."

Yet, you felt compelled to discuss this matter, with a parting shot at liberals who in your view are the ones who primarily call for earning a full time salary.
Maybe you ought to do some investigating from yesteryear and today before making that sweeping generalization.

http://greensboro.rhinotimes.com/Articles-Columns-c-2012-12-24-214282.112113-Rookie-Mistakes-Hurt-Republicans.html

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-05-26/news/0005260258_1_county-board-district-ballot-21st-senate-district


"The kind of board members that a part-time salary attracts - because they must earn a living doing something else - may be less likely to see the world as something to be ordered by politics."

Try again, Professor. Any and all politicians, part time or full time, are swayed by their point of view and frame of references to ensure that an agenda is created and carried out. Look at school boards, for example. The members work part time, and yet they are just as prone as to political machinations as their brethren in the capitol.


"Of course, some people may believe that "activist" supervisors are a good thing. There lies your conservative/liberal breakdown."

A member of a board is an "activist" in their plan to put into place their agenda. Perhaps you ought to qualify what "activism" from your perspective entails rather than be purposely vague.

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bill meyers said...

As a former County Board Supervisor, I can say that to do the job properly it does take a lot of time. If all Supervisors worked hard on behalf of their constituents, I could support their pay.

Unfortunately, time and again I have witnessed Supervisors take a lackadaisical approach preferring to read their packet material during the meetings. Other times, voting to support one's own fiefdom or their pals.

The root problem is voters continue to return these people to office. If that would change, other solutions would follow.

Anonymous said...

"The root problem is voters continue to return these people to office."

How dare citizens exercise their right to elect those candidates with whom they believe will look out for their interests. The nerve!

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