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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, March 05, 2011

I've never seen Chris Abele so animated

by folkbum

I was at a community meeting organized by the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, the state PTA, and probably a bunch of other people. I will try to have a better write-up of the thing tomorrow, but I wanted to quickly get one things posted.

Chris Abele, candidate for Milwaukee County Executive, was not on the speakers' list, but showed up as a community member interested in the issue of the day, which was adequate funding of schools, something notably absent in the budget presented this week by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. The facts as presented by a DPI representative--not, you know, some hippie or wild partisan--are pretty dire. Despite Walker's claims that his "tools" will make up for cuts in the revenue cap, schools are still looking at huge deficits. (Milwaukee, for example, is $74m in the hole here; even wealthy Nicolet is looking at up to a $4m hole that can't be made up in property taxes.) I'm getting off track, here, but you can probably imagine why.

Abele spoke for about a minute and a half after being invited to. In all the times I've seen him, I've never seem him speak with the kind of passion and enthusiasm he did today. "Education is an everybody issue," Abele said, explaining why someone running for a county post bothered with this meeting. And he was clear that many things about what Walker's budget does to schools cannot be morally justified, noting in particular the removal of accountability measures at voucher schools. (Another person I talked to emphasized that Milwaukee taxpayers will get whammied this year as the ~8000 private-school students who currently don't qualify for a voucher start taking state money, too.)

Abele mentioned that he'd been talking to local leaders, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, about the devastation the Walker budget will cause, Abele's voice rising, his feet fair bouncing with anger and frustration, he said, "I will drive with you to Madison, and demand a better way every day!"

There are a lot of people I know who aren't sure about Abele, about where he comes from and why he's running. But it's clear that he's on the side of goodness and light here, not to mention the side of our children.

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