On Thursday, Milwaukee County
Emperor Executive Chris Abele presented his proposed 2016 budget to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Let's ignore for the moment the facts that he was a week late and held a sketchy public/private/campaign event the day before, presenting the budget to a select, invite-only group of supporters.
During a question and answer session, Supervisor Khalif Rainey asked Abele what his budget would do to help the African American community, the largest such community in Wisconsin.
Abele's answer would have been worthy of a Fox News panelist, a squawk radio host or a GOP presidential candidate.
Abele proudly replied that in his five year tenure, he increased spending for social programs, such as more programming at the House of Correction (an extension of the county jail), child support enforcement, social services and mental health services.
In other words, Abele apparently thinks that most African Americans are criminals, unwed mothers, welfare queens and/or psychotic.
To add insult on top of insult, near the end of Abele's answer, he finally got to job creation and job training:
"Do I wish that instead of $400,000 on that one [job creation program], it was four million? Yeah."
What makes that statement particularly egregious is the fact that while Abele is claiming that he couldn't find $4 million for a much needed job creation program, he had no problem finding $4 million a year to help his fellow plutocrats build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Piling it on even further, Abele is planning on getting that $4 million by going after the poorest of the poor, including the African American community that he is abandoning.
To further demonstrate his disdain for the African American community, it is also Abele that made a deal with Scott Walker and Republican state legislators to make him the privatization czar for the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Needless to say, when Abele made his tasteless and insensitive comments, the supervisors were taken aback. Shortly after, they expressed their outrage at Abele's comments.
Supervisors Rainey and Martin Weddle issued a joint press release:
“The County Executive all but said he was doing nothing for the African American community in Milwaukee County when he addressed the Board,” Rainey said. “I asked him for specifics, and he came back and said he was increasing funding for social services and the House of Correction, among other things. Is that what he thinks of the African American community? That they need more social services and better accommodations at the House
“Chris Abele has no plan for dealing with the crisis in the African American community, and his comments not only reflect a lack of sensitivity, they reflect complete ignorance as to what is happening in Milwaukee County.”
Milwaukee County’s African American community is the largest in the state, Rainey said, and he added that he was “outraged and deeply discouraged” by Abele’s comments.
“The keys are jobs, equal opportunities and economic development, not social services,” Rainey said. “Does he think social services and the House of Correction only serve African Americans? How can we make progress in this community when leaders such as the County Executive show such ignorance and disrespect to the real needs of African Americans and other minorities?”
Rainey said he was especially angered by Abele’s comments about adding funding for the House of Correction. “Does he think only African Americans are housed there?” Rainey said. “What he said today reflected a prejudice that cannot be tolerated in the leadership of Milwaukee County. Chris Abele should apologize to all Milwaukee County African Americans for his comments, and he should ask himself what he really thinks about an important part of Milwaukee County. He apparently considers the African American community a drain on Milwaukee County. How dare he?”
Supervisor Martin Weddle said: “It’s plain as day to see that not enough is being done to help the African American community get jobs, not just now, but for as long as I can remember,” Weddle said. “As our funding for African American cultural institutions and services continues to decrease, and as job growth in the community continues to lag, we will continue to experience severe difficulties. Chris Abele clearly does not recognize the
needs of a community in crisis.”
Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde also issued a press release expressing how he felt offended by Abele's remarks. Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr. blasted Abele for being missing in action on African American issues and demanding an apology.
Being the son of billionaire John Abele, the 258th richest man in the world, Chris Abele has never known what it is like to struggle. If he had a problem, he would just throw his daddy's money at it until it went away.
Even though Abele has lived his life atop an ivory tower and is more than a bit of a pompous ass, it is no excuse for his callous disregard for a large part of the population he is supposed to be representing. It does, however, go a long way in explaining why Milwaukee is the most segregated community in the nation.
If the gentle reader wishes to contact Abele to ask him to explain himself and/or demand an apology, you may reach him at 414-278-4211 or via email at CountyExec@milwaukeecountywi.gov.