Thursday, April 13, 2006

Living, Breathing Government Waste

Way back in February when the new Taxpayers Protection Amendment was introduced, we all saw a lot of the usual press releases fly back and forth. Tax and business groups supported the new amendment, while groups that actually spend tax money uniformly lined up against it.

But there was one release in particular that caught my eye for its stunning hyperbole. It was written by Kenosha County lobbyist Michael Serpe, and contained some mind-numbing passages such as:

The “hard working families” of Wisconsin are very capably represented by their local units of government, who deliver the services the families want while balancing their budgets under the rules of finance imposed by their rich uncles and aunts in faraway capitals. Now the rich uncles and aunts who have soiled their own balance sheets so shamefully are going to get into their big limousines and drive to see us at our kitchen tables and deliver us from our balanced budgets and efficient ways of life...

With this amendment, its authors and supporters have simply washed their hands of their responsibilities under the law. They have said they are no longer capable of making the tough decisions. They have said they are no longer relevant when it comes to finance. They have said that they're not up to the task. Pontius Pilate would be proud.

Michael J. Serpe
Administrative Assistant/Lobbyist
Kenosha County Executive's Office
1010 56th Street
Kenosha, WI 53140
Telephone 262-653-2831
Facsimile 262-653-2817
Email mserpe@execpc.com
"The ultimate test of what a truth means is the conduct it dictates or inspires."
William James


So we get it. Apparently, enacting TPA is akin to the death of Christ. Very appropriate with Easter coming. And for those counting, that's a 10-line signature. He clearly paid more attention to writing his own description than he did in 9th grade creative writing class.

Reasonable people can, and do, disagree about the TPA. But those that don't like it often make constructive comments or suggestions, rather than throwing a fit with all the coherence of a junior high breakup letter. So if Kenosha County is having trouble making its budgets, I can think of one place you can start to save money.

But what puzzles me is why the Kenosha County Executive would allow himself to be represented by such foolishness. Here you have someone that is actually doing your cause more harm than good complaining that local governments don't have enough money. At the same time, Michael J. Serpe is:

1. Arguing that local governments don't have enough money, and;
2. Proving that Kenosha County has enough money to employ a complete buffoon.

Anybody catch the irony there? He truly is living, breathing government waste.

The state keeps a database of what bills lobbyists are interested in and what positions various groups take on those bills. Occasionally, a lobbyist will register a short snippet to explain their position on a bill. So I went to Kenosha County's Ethics Board page to see what Michael J. Serpe has been up to. I found a gold mine of smug, self-congratulatory comments that must have just pleased Serpe to no end to register. Among them:

2005 AB 49, 1/27/2005: Would be more likely to look favorably on this usurpation of local control if the minimum wage as set by the state bore some actual resemblence to a living wage.

2005 AB 509, 1/12/2006: Isn't it about time that local units of government enjoyed the same treatment as the state?

2005 AB 756, 10/13/2005: What don't the authors understand about 2005 Act 40? And in urban counties, guess where the guests in our jails come from?

2005 AB 902, 12/29/2005: Don't we have better things to do?

2005 AB 1156, 4/5/2006: Why are the sponsor's [sic] so hell bent for leather to restrict local government's efforts to take care of their own business?

2005 AJR 77 (TPA) 2/14/2006: A trainwreck.

2005 SB 564, 2/9/2006: The bill gets close to accusing clerks of inappropriate behavior, and that's really inappropriate.

The only ones not laughing are the Kenosha taxpayers, who pay the salary of this clown to fight to keep their taxes high. They actually pay this guy to hurt their cause at the State Capitol. Message to the Kenosha County Executive - you'd do just fine under TPA if you'd just get rid of dead weight lobbyists that are a little too secure in their jobs.