Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Biggest Loser - Manitowoc

This is a recreation of a blog post I did at  It was yanked for reasons known only to Editors Ms. Hanson and Mr. Reed.  Since I thought it was nothing more than a statement of the politically obvious I did not anticipate the article getting deleted so I did not keep a copy of the original, hence the re-creation.  Given their erratic editorial policies (which I believe are due to political influence) I suppose I should have assumed the worst - so here it is again (perhaps better?) on The Megaphone!

Earlier this month Bob Ziegelbauer won re-election over challenger Carla Halvorson.  We lost and we and the rest of the County will have to deal with that for some time to come.  But last week there was another election that delivered another victor and loser and that loser is perhaps the biggest loser of them all.

In what I believe to be an unprecedented event and in a 13 to 12 vote the Manitowoc County Board voted out Board Chairman Jim Brey in favor of Paul Tittl, a Republican and former political opponent of Bob Ziegelbauer.  Over the last four years the board had become an irrelevant rubber stamp of the Ziegelbauer administration who's policies have dismantled a raft of critical services and demoralized County workers.

Under the previous County Exec Brey supported the building of the Manitowoc County Health Care Center but then under Ziegelbauer supported its sale even though the justifications for each move were completely at odds with each other.  He continually repeated the false claim that the Center had a three million dollar deficit although it was only about half that and all of it was due to the bond used to build it - which had been justified against the re-use of the old center's land being redeveloped for the Harbortown strip mall.  But that was the administration line and he was sticking to it.  Since then the Human Services budget had tanked largely due to the added expense of home care and outsourcing mandated care of patients.

At the same time the Exec was privatizing things like the HCC and Highway Department he was absorbing the formerly private Manitowoc Ice Center (a perpetual white elephant and money pit).  That board of that organization just happens to include the wives of Bob's cousin Randy Binversie and the director of public works Jeff Beyer.  The Ice Center is the home of the local youth hockey league which who's members are a who's who of the children of local business and government leaders.  Through it all, Jim Brey was there to support it all and cut off discussion when it raised too many questions.

Perhaps the most despicable role he played was that of political operative.  When Bob appeared in a TV add endorsing the ethically challenged Republican John Gard for 8th districk Congressman the local Dem party met to withdraw support for Mr. Ziegelbauer.  Although he had never been to any meetings before, there was Jim in the back row observing and then questioning whether or not the Party should do that.  When it came to a vote he made a point of registering his official abstention.   We discovered later that Mr. Brey had never actually been a member of the Party and in fact should not have been allowed into the meeting at all!

When Carla Halvorson and I made our meetings to find a candidate to oppose Bob for County Exec public out of the blue, there was Jim emailing me requesting a private meeting.  I invited him to the group meeting but he declined.  I dont think Ive ever been so insulted by the bull crap and outright lies he offered up in defense of the Exec's positions.  From the HCC to the lack of Stimulus funding to the causes of the loss of business at the Highway Dept. it was a screed of blame for everyone from Obama to Doyle an assortment of unidentified "radical Liberals" - a strange set of positions for a Democrat.  Yet is case for not opposing Bob (for Assembly) was based on the notion that "... we could lose that seat!"  Just exactly what "we" was he referring to.

In that meeting he made it clear that he was looking forward to running for Assembly should Bob choose not to.  It was also clear he had discussed it with Bob directly.  Along with the incident at the Democratic HQ it was equally clear that he was politically snooping both for himself and at the request of Bob.

We saw the same despicable behavior when at the candidate debates he stood up and asked a deliberately concocted question of Carla about whether or not her demands for an audit of PPP's records constituted a violation of HIPPA laws (medical privacy).  The audit demand was exclusively for payroll and billing information and had nothing to do with anyone's medical records.  It was an all too obvious attempt to discredit - not his opponent - but the opponent of his policial benefactor.

In fact through the entire PPP (Triple P) payola scandal Brey consistently used that sort of tactic and outright refused to allow any votes on holding that company or the County officials who were in fact relatives of the owners of that company accountable.  To date that has been very effective.  We have yet to have even the most cursory examination of PPP's records even though we already know they were overbilling for at least one employee.  As I have asked him on more than one occasion, if it was a cover up, what would it look like?

If Brey has been effective at one thing it has been at keeping the crud off of his boss, Mr. Ziegelbauer whom he sees as his benefactor and heir apparent.  But with three of four of the new County Board members being on the other team the writing was on the wall.  As crony in chief he made himself an obstacle and obstacles are for removing.

And so it comes to pass that while we did lose the big election to Mr. Z, a few key bricks have been removed from his wall.  It is perhaps significant to point out that Jim has not won a contested election since 1998.  He was unopposed for County Chair last time and has not faced an opponent in either his City Aldermanic or County Supervisor districts since originally taking office.  In the mayoral race he first lost to Crawford and then appeared to expect to win when Crawford walked away.  But he finished 4th of 5th in the primary and did not even win his own district!  Then he went on to support Dave Soeldner who lost to newcomer Justin Nickels.

All of this is a rather impressive losing streak for a pol who still manages to be in not one but two offices.  I think all that is required is to find an opponent or two for him and we can easily offer him the official award for the Biggest Loser in Manitowoc politics.  Its hard to see any challengers in that race either!

So, g'bye Jimbo.
Its been bad to know ya....

1 comment:

  1. Very well written. I have been hearing rumors about Jim. Rumor has it he is a "fake" Democrat...This article proves there is corruption everywhere--even Manitowoc. Keep up the good fight, and know I am behind you..