Efforts to reduce the size, scope, cost and reach of the Milwaukee County Board are getting unnecessarily complicated. Several sources tell RightWisconsin that the bill's author, freshman State Representative Joe Sanfelippo has larded up the bill in an attempt to get a Democratic co-sponsor. Such moves may even be enough to jeopardize GOP support for the bill. Republicans have the majority of both houses in Madison and there is a lot of Milwaukee area firepower in support of a referendum to clip the Board.
The rookie lawmaker may be getting played, and Milwaukee County Taxpayers may therefore continue be fleeced by the circus known as the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. We'll have more on this topic later today at RightWisconsin.
And indeed we do.
We're still reviewing the legislation, but here is one thing that sticks out. On the bottom of page 20 and the top of page 20 of the proposal Sanfelippo shared with collagues is this gem:
86.19 (12) The department shall maintain the directional sign existing on October 29, 1999, that is located along I 43 for America’s Black Holocaustthe Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum in Milwaukee County. The department may not charge any fee related to the sign maintained under this subsection.
In plain English, this means that the sign for the Black Holocaust Museum, which was specifically addressed in legislation in 1999 (20th Century Pork) and closed down after financial problems in 2008, will be replaced by a sign for the the Black Historical Society (21st Century Pork).
The Specific Information Sign (SIS) logo program is designed to direct motorists to services located up to 5 miles from Interstate highways, freeways, and conventional highways designated by the legislature as of May 8, 1990 as Specific Information Sign highways. The program is designed to be self funded without any state or federal support. Specific Information Signs may only include the following categories of motorist services and meet the following standards for the respective category.
Those categories are gasoline, food, lodging and attractions. To get your business or attraction on a highway sign in Wisconsin, there are normal procedures to follow, which you can read about here.
There is a separate process for Tourist related attractions.
Tourist oriented directional signs (TODS) provide motorists with directional information for qualifying tourist-related businesses, services or activities.
Qualifying businesses - Tourist-related businesses, whose major portion of income or visitors is derived from visitors who do not reside in the immediate area where the business is located, qualify for TODS. The business cannot have direct access to a state or U.S. highway, but must be located within 5 miles of a state or U.S. highway. Businesses qualify for TODS in five categories...
And here is the kicker, from the DOT:
The TODS program is self-funded. No state or federal funds support the program. All administration, manufacturing and installation costs are paid by applicants.
The TODS sign life is estimated to be 10 years, but fees are collected for a 5-year duration. Total estimated costs over the 10-year period are around $550 – that’s $55 per year or about one dollar per week for each sign.
Estimated costs over 10 years:
Administration fee $100/sign ($20 per year fee)
Sign cost $100/sign (Fees vary based on size)
Installation fee $250/sign
Total estimated cost $550/sign
But normal procedures are for suckers. Just get the legislature to pork up a bill to designate an earmark for you and you're golden.
The dollar amount is small in the scheme of things. But the symbolism is huge. What is this doing in a piece of reform legislation? What else is in this reform bill? Will it become a legislative Christmas tree with legislators adorning their own pork ornaments on it in exchange for their support?
It is a microcosm of what's wrong in politics. Symbolism as progress. Earmarks. Purchasing legislative support with taxpayer funds.
The Republicans should be better than this.