Abele praises Vrakas, Waukesha/Milwaukee county collaborations
Milwaukee County exec will address Business Alliance Friday

By Darryl Enriquez - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 25, 2014

Chris Abele 
Photo supplied

WAUKESHA - Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele told the Waukesha Rotary Monday that Milwaukee and Waukesha county collaborations are likely to continue because of the mutual benefits.

Abele, elected county executive in 2011, was the keynote speaker at the Rotary luncheon. In an interview after his talk, Abele expanded on his message of county partnerships.

“I’m always surprised when people are surprised that I get along with (Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas). “We’re doing a (shared emergency) radio system together and that’s been easy.

“Dan is a pragmatic guy who likes solutions. These (cooperative efforts) happen a lot more than people know, and there are very real benefits to it. I love Waukesha and I’m really proud to have Waukesha as our neighbor.” 

Abele said partnerships are developed through establishing relationships with other county officials and understanding that counties share the same issues, such as budgeting tax dollars and providing services.

“When we look for allies, we can do anything,” Abele said. “I spent a lot of time developing relationships with Dan and other county executives, probably because we’re all managing similar budgets.

“I like to kid Dan that Milwaukee County for this year had a zero budget increase, and Waukesha County had a one percent increase.”

Understanding where Milwaukee County once was fiscally gives Abele some bragging rights, he said.

“Fiscally, when I came to Milwaukee County, I used to say it would be like the Titanic hitting the Hindenburg, but worse,” he said.

The Public Policy Forum, a Milwaukee-based think tank, had predicted Milwaukee County would suffer a structural deficit of $86 million for this year. Abele said he it kept to $14 million.

“I have reduced liabilities and debt,” he said.

Abele said he enjoys speaking to Rotarians because they are part of “the most priceless and beautiful and exquisite ethic of America, its charitable impulse. We do it right.

“Probably no organization has done it as long and on as large a scale as Rotary.”

Abele will address the Waukesha County Business Alliance in its One on One with Public Officials program on Friday at 7:30 a.m. The Alliance is at 2717 N Grandview Blvd., Suite 300.