Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Stone's Self Serving Use of Referendums

Jeff Stone is already proposing a self serving Voter ID bill just in time for the spring election. Now he wants to put equally self serving referendums on the ballot . He is suggesting that the referendums ask voters if the size of the Milwaukee County Board should be cut and whether supervisors should work only part-time. Stone's proposal is nothing more than a political ploy and it is certainly not the first time that someone has accused him of misusing the referendum process for his own political ambitions.

In 1996 while he was both a Greenfield alderman and (unsuccessfully) running for his current seat in the Assembly, Stone pushed for a referendum on the local ballot. It asked the people of Greenfield if they approved of light rail even though Greenfield was not on any of the proposed light rail routes. Referring to the Stone-proposed referendum, a fellow Aldermen commented saying, "I believe the voters of Greenfield were used as political pawns to further his (Stone's) political ambitions." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/28/96]

Based on his current proposal and the 1996 example, you might be thinking that Stone really loves referendums. Wrong. Again in 1996 some on the Greenfield Common Council wanted to put a referendum on the ballot about whether the city should have a full-time mayor or hire a city administrator. Stone opposed that input from the voters saying "I think we have a responsibility to lead this city." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/7/96]

Another example of Jeff Stone not liking referendums came in 2006 when he proposed taking Milwaukee County's successfully managed airport away and putting it under the authority of an entirely new body. It was later revealed that he was secretly working with special interests to write legislation to accomplish that goal. The secretive group specifically wanted him to introduce the legislation in the Assembly because then they had a chance to take the asset from Milwaukee County without even a vote from the County Board or from voters. At the time, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the following:

"And a key priority in those behind-the-scenes talks was ensuring that neither
the County Board nor county voters would have a say in the handover."

So now we know that Jeff Stone has been both for and actively against placing referendums on the ballot. But one remaining question is whether he actually honors voters decisions after they have voiced them? Again, we go back to his time on the Greenfield Common Council for an example. Stone was again pushing for Greenfield to establish a city administrator position. He continued to push on the issue even though Greenfield voters had twice rejected the idea via referendum. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/1/95]

I'm sensing a theme here with Jeff Stone and referendums. Apparently it is only important to hear from voters when it either aids his political ambitions or when they agree with his already established positions. You can call that what you will, but I call it extremely self serving and a misuse of the process.

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