Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

County's new budget plan: litigation

Milwaukee County, economy

Almost everyone seems to agree with the Kansas City Business Journal's odds-setting:

Here’s a safe bet for 2009: Business litigation is going to go up as the economy nose-dives.

Strike the modifier "business." Litigation is going to go up, and some law firms are going to do very well from people's economic misery.

Milwaukee County is doing its part to drive the litigation economy. In the recent settlement from pension actuary Mercer Inc., the county stands to get some $30 million, while the rest will get eaten up in legal fees.

One third of the money that's intended to punish Mercer sounds like a lot. But then, the litigators aggressively hunted down the information they needed to prove flaws in the Mercer plan and its presentation to the Milwaukee County Board. They earned their cut.

Too bad the board members and executive didn't do their own sufficient oversight up front all those years ago.

On announcing the settlement, supervior Jim Luigi Schmitt sang "Hallelujah," board chair Lee Holloway crowed "vindication!" and executive Scott Walker declared "victory for the taxpayers."

But while it's very nice to have the courts say "yeah, you guys were duped a little--they failed to warn you how much it was going to cost," the county is still left with the sucking wound of the bad pension plan and a $30 million Band-aid.

The money will go to reducing the county's annual payouts. Meanwhile, the board gets to pretend it has reduced its budget without actually doing anything.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Supervisor Mark Borkowski called the settlement inadequate considering the torrent of criticism the supervisors endured over the pension deal."

I'd like to remind the gentlemen that it's not all about them. It's about the citizens.


The settlement acknowledges Mercer to be 51% at fault. That leaves 49% for all y'all. While Mercer acknowledges no wrongdoing, the settlement suggests they didn't want to gamble on being found 51% at fault. But even if they were, that leaves 49% someone else's fault.

And 100% of the bill for the taxpayers.


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