MILWAUKEE - In a narrow 11-9 vote, a sharply divided countywide
intergovernmental body voted Monday to deny County Board Chairwoman
Marina Dimitrijevic's request to have voting powers.
In May, Dimitrijevic attended a meeting of the Intergovernmental
Cooperation Council of Milwaukee County and asked to have a vote
alongside the 19 mayors and village presidents and County Executive
Members of the ICC take up a myriad issues, including shared
services arrangements and issues of interest across the county. Some
of the items discussed are under the county's jurisdiction a point
Dimitrijevic rose in her pitch to be a 21st voting member on the
"This is about demonstrating a spirit of cooperation,"
Dimitrijevic said this week, before the ICC discussed and voted on
the request. "I think actions speak louder than words." Proponents
of Dimitrijevic's request lauded the overtures she's made in the
past three months since being appointed chairwoman by the majority
of her elected colleagues on the County Board.
But opponents expressed concern of straying away from the ICC's
original mission. The sitting 20 members are directly elected to
their leadership positions. While Dimitrijevic is voted into office
as a County Board member, she is appointed to her leadership role.
Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor, who chairs the ICC, was among the
"This is about working together and putting any sort of
partisanship aside," Taylor said. "This is the essence of the
Intergovernmental Cooperation Council. We seek out cooperation
whenever we can." Under previous leadership, relations between the
ICC and county were, at times, strained. Case in point: last year's
redistricting caused controversy when some municipal leaders
believed their opinions were not taken into account.
But Taylor said he is already starting to notice some of the
"Everything that the chairwoman is doing signals that she is
listening to us," Taylor said. "It's a new day. I think the public
would welcome us working together." In the past, the elected
officials appointed to the positions of County Board chair and
Milwaukee Common Council president have been considered ex-officio
members of the ICC, meaning they are welcome to offer input, but are
unable to vote.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also voted in favor of giving
Dimitrijevic a seat at the table, but followed up with a caveat.
"We've been talking about cooperation, and there's nothing wrong
with that," Barrett said. "But I'm here to say that if Council
President (Willie) Hines asks to have a vote on this body, I'm going
to be very supportive of it. I just wanted to be on the record."
Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke was among the officials who voted
against Dimitrijevic's proposal. With Abele already on the board,
Neitzke cautioned that two county officials could shift the ICC's
"The concern I have is the issues percolating at the county
level," Neitzke said. "I wouldn't want the county executive and
County Board chair sounding off in this body." But Neitzke also
praised Dimitrijevic for the commitment she has displayed to date.
"She's been here for the past three meetings, and I think it's
spades above what the previous county chair did," Neitzke said. "I
don't view this as a vote against cooperation. Far from it." While
he did not explain his reasoning, Abele was among the dissenters at
this week's meeting.
In a prepared statement hours after the ICC's vote, Dimitrijevic
pledged to continue the collaborative efforts she has been touting
in recent months.
"Today's ICC vote was very close, and I appreciate the broad
spectrum of support I received from all four corners of the county,"
Dimitrijevic said in the statement. "We've come a long way already
in recent months."