After a very costly pension scandal in 2002 and contract negotiations with a decertified union last year against legal advice, it’s not too surprising that members of the County Board wouldn’t recognize a conflict of interest if it bit them in the buttocks.
On November 1, Supervisor Peggy Romo-West introduced a budget amendment to provide $5,000 to the Tavern League of Wisconsin for their SafeRide program. Innocent enough, right?
Ten days after earmarking money for the Tavern League, Romo-West went before the Milwaukee Licensing Committee and was granted approval to open her own “Romo’s Silver City Sports Bar” on 36th and Greenfield.
As Vice Chair of the County Board, Romo-West should be smart enough to avoid the very appearance of wrongdoing. After all, earlier this year, she was found guilty of violating ethics rules regarding her campaign for office; and just last week, Right Wisconsin (a go-to site for conservative news) ran a story about her using a personal email account to skirt open records laws (p.s. John Chisholm I’m still waiting for the John Doe on a Democrat).
Although Romo-West is probably best known for her struggles with U.S. geography, she has arguably met her match with County Board colleague, Supervisor Russell Stamper.
During a short discussion about Romo-West’s earmark to the Tavern League, Stamper – a member of the Board’s powerful Budget Committee – struggled to understand who or what the Tavern League was.
“What type of sport or what type of league is it,” Stamper asked about the Tavern League.
After Romo-West explained that the Tavern League is an association of bars, Stamper was lost.
“I just didn’t know how a tavern can get in a league,” Stamper demurred. “Because, you know, they got pool leagues and things like that, but it’s not like that, huh?”
You can hear the exchange here starting around the four-minute mark.
There is little doubt that next April’s county referendum to cut supervisor pay will pass, but stories like this help clear the way for the more conflicted Milwaukee County voters about shaking up the County Board. It must be good for Members of the Board to know that, after voters have their say, they will have a place to drown their sorrows.