MATC and Milwaukee’s Taxpayer Under attack in the State Legislature

By Michael Rosen, Ph.D.

Dr. Rosen is the president of AFT Local 212

Last week a Wisconsin senate committee passed SB 275 that will remove all nine members of the MATC district board and replace them with a board selected by a new, less democratic and representative appointment committee composed of the Washington, Ozaukee and Milwaukee County Executives and the Milwaukee County Board Chair.

The bill is an outrageous power play by Republican politicians who slashed MATC’s funding by 30% last year and have never supported the college or its students. It was bottled up in committee until it was amended to be exclusively about MATC.

There was no public hearing on the bill. Nor did its authors, Senator Glen Grothman (R) and State Representative Mark Honadel (R) discuss the proposal with the MATC board chair, Melanie Holmes, MATC’s President Dr. Michael Burke or the appointment committee chair, Dr. Michael Bonds.

The bill eliminates the current board including all four minority members, none of whom are even eligible to reapply under the new criteria established by the bill.

The proposal gives Washington County 25% of the board appointment committee’s authority even though only 2.4% of MATC’s students come from Washington County and its investment in the college, 4.3% of total funding, is minimal.

Violating American commitment to one person one vote.

Ozaukee County, which provides the college with 14.4 percent of its funding, will also be empowered with 25 percent of the board appointment authority. So, two counties that provide MATC with 18.7 percent of its funding will control 50 percent of the appointment authority, while the city of Milwaukee home to 57% of our students gets no representation. And Milwaukee County, which contributes 84 percent of our funding, gets only 50 percent of the appointment authority. This violates every notion of the nation’s commitment to one person one vote!

The bill destroys the college’s historic commitment to shared governance by eliminating the employee representative seats on the board.

The legislation was clearly designed to remove particular board members, including attorney Peter Earle, the lead attorney challenging the manipulative Republican redistricting maps that were developed in secret and in probable violation of the United States Constitution; Ann Wilson, who directs a non-profit agency; and Alderman Tom Michalski, who ran against Mark Honadel in the November 2010. After the vendetta against Michalski was exposed the bill was modified and the elected representative position was restored.

Lauren Baker, the Director of Career and Technical Education for the Milwaukee Public Schools, will also be removed, despite being featured in the latest issue of the Milwaukee Business Journal for being a great bridge between industry and education. Fred Royal, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Technical College Board’s Association would also be dismissed.

This bill is an assault on the democratic process and on the college. If passed, the governing body of the college will be people with no experience or knowledge of the college or its students. That’s like putting someone with no flying experience in the cockpit of a transatlantic flight!

Why is the board being dismissed?

MATC, unlike the state of Wisconsin, has been a model of fiscal responsibility, maintaining its Aa1 bond rating, while the state’s was reduced. MATC has a reserve fund of 22 percent. The state barely has one. MATC’s costs per student are the state’s average despite running 25 percent more programs than any other technical college. This is nothing more than a power play by power hungry politicians that will hurt our students.

You can help stop this bill by calling your state representative and politely urging them to kill this bill and by attending the press conference opposing the bill on Wednesday, February 29 at 11 am at the downtown MATC campus (room to be announced).

If you don’t know your state representative’s contact information you can find it here:

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx

For more information on the bill see:
http://districtboards.org/advocacy/SB275advances022412.pdf

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on February 28, 2012

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