False claims demonstrate it’s well-past time for local government transparency requirements
A couple weeks back, we Fact Checked Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich’s claim that he added cops to Green Bay streets, and found it false.
Yesterday, the Green Bay Press Gazette weighed in on the campaign claims Mayor Genrich has made about adding officers to the police department. The paper reported the Green Bay Police Department confirmed the numbers of officers we at MacIver drew from city budget documents showing the overall reduction of sworn officers since Genrich took office.
But city officials tried to provide Genrich some cover by telling the Press Gazette that the mayor is using a different way of counting than what’s reported in the official, public-facing officer count on the department’s organizational chart, when he claims to have added officers.
It’s a troubling claim that official budget documents and organizational charts can’t be relied upon. And even though the Press Gazette confirmed the accuracy of our analysis of GB budget documents, we decided to probe further. Is there any proof that Genrich has a special way of counting that can turn a 7-officer cut into a 7-officer addition? We went back to city documents to take a specific look at the personnel changes reported by the mayor’s office – not the numbers the mayor put on the police org chart he’d like us to ignore.
What we found is the city’s personnel change counts also show a cut of 7 officers under Genrich – not the increase Genrich has cooked up with his ‘special’ counting method. Particularly troubling is that, under Genrich, one year the city’s police personnel change counts falsely report the previous years’ level.
Below are screenshots from official city records showing the number of sworn officers was cut by 7 in Genrich’s 2022 budget. (Note that Genrich’s 2022 personnel count falsely claims the number of officers “remain(ed) the same” as the previous year even though the number dropped by 7.)
2020 Green Bay City Budget (Genrich’s first budget, pg. 87 )
As a reminder, the 2020 police org chart lists 185 sworn officers, down from 194 in 2019.
The 2020 personnel change count (screenshot below) says the number held at 194 from the 2019 count.
2021 Green Bay City Budget (pg. 88)
Reminder, the 2021 police org chart lists 187 officers, down from 194 in 2019.
The 2020 personnel change count (screenshot below) says the number held at 194.
2022 Green Bay City Budget (pg. 95)
As a reminder, the 2022 police org chart shows 187 sworn officers, down from 194 in 2019.
The city’s 2022 personnel change count (screenshot below) says the number remained the same at 187. The 2021 personnel count was 194 (see above). This change from 194 to 187 shows a decrease of 7 officers. The decrease is showing in a different year than the decrease of 7 in the org chart (2020), but it’s the exact same 7-officer decrease.
2023 Green Bay City Budget (pg. 100)
As a reminder, the 2023 org chart lists 187 officers, down from 194 in 2019.
The 2023 personnel count (screenshot below) says it held at 187.
Whether looking at the police organizational chart, or at the personnel change figures from Genrich’s budgets, the numbers show Genrich cut the force by 7 sworn officers since he took office.
Time to Enact Local Government Uniform Reporting to Provide Taxpayer Transparency
We at MacIver believe local governments should be required to produce uniform, accurate reports about their taxing, spending and staffing because taxpayers deserve transparency about how their tax dollars are spent. When elected officials make misleading claims – even going so far as Genrich to claim official government documents are not reliable while his special way of counting is – confidence in our government is eroded.
As local governments demand more state funding in the budget while their spending continues to soar, we hope that legislators will implement uniform reporting requirements for local governments before moving ahead with the huge handouts many seem to favor. And we hope that the governor will sign this basic and necessary accountability measure.
Uniform government transparency will go a long way to imposing accountability – if not integrity – in officials across the state.