When I reacted to the news that GMC's lobbyists were in the room helping write the legislation, I compared it to a very similar incident that blew up in 2006. That was the time that some of the very same players and interests were busy writing secret legislation to by-pass county officials and even county voters. That legislation involved lifting a very successful Milwaukee County asset and suddenly making it a regional entity. They were plotting and planning for years behind the scenes to accomplish their goal without input from local/county leaders, any real stake holders or even the public.
Fortunately when this secret legislation was made public in 2006 it quickly blew up on the special interests that were behind it. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, who (naturally) supported the actual idea, chastised the special interests for their secretive tactics and anti-democratic methods. Here is a sample of what the MJS Editorial Board said at the time (all emphasis below is mine):
If a college political science class is looking for a classic case of how not to accomplish something worthwhile, the proposal to create a regional airport authority fits the bill to a T. People that should have known better, namely private business interests and state lawmakers, missed the runway by a mile. In drafting the proposal to create the authority, they needlessly burned political bridges and, in effect, thumbed their noses at local democratic representation.The MJS Editorial Board then agreed with a the statement that the 2006 move was "the most anti-democratic proposal that has come through here in a long time." They go on to state they they are puzzled at why this legislation would be forged behind the scenes. They then chide the special interests saying that going behind local elected officials backs is a lousy way to try to achieve their goal. They conclude the editorial by saying that although they believe that the idea is worthy of pursuit, they say that next time it should be done, "openly and with all stakeholders represented."
Now that we know that some of the same players and special interests are involved now with planning and writing AB 85, where is the strong editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board? If they were willing to take these same special interests to task over the single issue of a regional airport (one that they actually agreed with) then how can they not comment on the same tactics being used for a much bigger and all encompassing piece of legislation? AB 85 doesn't just threaten one Milwaukee County asset, it seeks to overturn our entire system of county government. Someone besides GMC and their lobbyists should have been invited into the room on a bill with such sweeping ramifications. And the MJS Editorial Board should show some intestinal fortitude and take the same stand for local democracy that they took back in 2006.
I'll be waiting and I hope it is not in vain.