County Board chairman sues Abele

Chris Abele

Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:43 pm

Theodore Lipscomb, the new chairman of the Milwaukee County Board, filed a lawsuit against County Executive Chris Abele in Milwaukee County Circuit Court asking a judge to declare the powers and rights of the County Board and the county executive’s office pertaining to compensation for county employees, and the board’s authority to require Abele to attend board meetings.

The Milwaukee County Board has seen its authority reduced by recent actions by the state Legislature, often with the support of Abele.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Lipscomb’s lawsuit says the state Legislature did not limit the County Board’s authority over employee compensation, but Abele has refused to implement compensation policies approved by the board.

The lawsuit also states that Abele has failed to attend board meetings when requested by supervisors.

“We are forced to respond to the executive’s overreach and his creation of a shadow system of compensation to increase the pay of his political appointees, as well as his continued refusal to appear before the public in committee meetings as required by law,” Lipscomb said in a news release. “We file this action because our citizens respect the checks and balances in their government, and the county executive is not above the law. With today’s action, we ask the courts to hold the county executive accountable to the law.”

Abele, who is facing a re-election challenge from state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, continues to defend his record as county executive.

“The county executive is incredibly proud of the team whose great work allowed him to offer a budget that gives pay raises across the board, holds taxes flat for the fifth year in a row, and makes significant investments in economic development, transit, and mental health,” said Abele spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. “County staff has spent hours answering the County Board’s questions about this budget. During that time surely the board heard about programs that could benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars in public resources, yet they are instead choosing to spend money on a lawsuit that seeks to cut pay for county workers.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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