Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson dismissed calls to privatize certain city services in ongoing negotiations with Republicans about increasing shared revenue and allowing a dedicated sales tax.
“I’m not looking to privatization necessarily,” Johnson said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “But there are areas where there can be consolidation with other governments, particularly with Milwaukee County.”
Johnson praised the ongoing negotiations with Republican lawmakers yet acknowledged more work is needed ahead of the budget debate set to intensify in the coming weeks.
“My pushback to them is the fact that Milwaukee has been reforming, and it’s been reforming for some time,” Johnson said. “We’ve done a number of things because we’ve had to, and we continue to have to.”
Johnson joined a bipartisan group of mayors at the White House on Friday as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting.
“If you want to see things get done, then send resources directly to cities,” Johnson said he told the Biden administration. “Mayors are the ones that get things done.”
Despite calling fellow Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates “extreme right-wing activists,” Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz rejected claims she would be a liberal activist on the bench.
“I’m not a partisan,” Protasiewicz told “UpFront.” “When I call someone an extreme activist, I mean it, and I don’t do that lightly.”
Protasiewicz defended her public criticism of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and calling the state’s legislative maps “rigged” during a recent WisPolitics forum in Madison. Both cases could end up before the state’s high court.
“Sure, I could sit at a forum and say the exact same thing that my opponents say, ‘Sure, I’m going to uphold the law, I’m going to follow the constitution,'” Protasiewicz said. “But why not let the electorate know? Don’t they deserve to know what my values are?”
When asked whether her values would dictate her decisions, Protasiewicz said, “Everybody’s human, right? So you have values you bring with you. You have to set aside your values, certainly, to a certain extent when you’re handling cases. But you look at the facts and circumstances.”
Protasiewicz is one of four candidates running to replace retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack. The other candidates are: fellow liberal Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell; and conservative candidates Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly.
The primary is Feb. 21.
Bob Spindell, the Republican commissioner on the Wisconsin Elections Commission facing calls for his removal, says he has not spoken with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, the lawmaker who appointed him to the commission.
“I don’t think there’s anything to talk about,” Spindell told the show. “I’m not resigning on this. All we did is point out how the Democrats failed in trying to get people out in the city of Milwaukee and how Republicans, finally, after all these years, are making major efforts to try and win over the minority, Black and Hispanic community, which they have not done in the past.”
Democrats called for Spindell to resign after he wrote Republicans should be “especially proud” of lower voter turnout in Milwaukee in 2022, specifically in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
“It was proud that finally the Republican Party of Wisconsin and Republican National Committee after all these years decided to finally put in necessary resources to the city of Milwaukee,” Spindell said.
Meantime Dem state Sen. LaTonya Johnson, one of the lawmakers calling for Spindell’s removal from the elections commission, said Dems will continue their efforts.
“The thing that irritates me most about Bob Spindell and the Republican Party is that every effort that they made was intentional and strategic to suppress the votes in the Black and Hispanic communities,” Johnson told “UpFront.”
Despite her criticism, Johnson said Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee should work with and benefit from Republicans hosting the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in 2024.
“They are going to need that money to sustain their business and to make sure that they are in a comfortable position, and why should they not take advantage of those dollars that are going to be coming into Milwaukee?” Johnson said. “That’s extremely important. But I do hope they caution themselves and they realize that Republicans aren’t out for their best interest.”
WISN-TV announced this past week Gerron Jordan and Matt Smith will co-host “UpFront.”
Smith, who will continue in his role as the show’s executive producer, was also named the station’s political director.
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