Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Business of Government

Aaron Rodriguez, a Walker zealot if there ever was one, wrote a piece claiming that Walker's claim of having a $9 million surplus from the 2009 Milwaukee County budget "was good business."

First of all, one would have to look past all the inaccurate and misleading statements in Rodriguez' post. Such as the question of whether the county has a surplus. I pointed out last week, at Milwaukee County First, that there really is no surplus. Not when there was so much unpaid debt and so many bills that had to be paid. I'm not the only one that caught on to this bit of misdirection. Jim McGuigan, former County Supervisor, also notes that Walker has a pile of bills stacked up, especially with the risky pension obligation bond deal.

Rodriguez also misleads the reader with statements like the one accrediting Walker for the $7 million surplus in 2007. An honest observer would have remembered and noted that the 2007 budget was the one that Walker had vetoed in its entirety, saying it would never work. That year's surplus is completely attributed to the County Board and their hard work in repairing his budget proposal.

An honest observer would also note that Walker is currently still facing a budget with a $17 million hole in it. Said hole was actually much higher, $15 million higher, until the County Board was able to patch some of it up. (As opposed to the balanced budget and funded pension fund that Mayor Tom Barrett gave to City of Milwaukee citizens.)

I will agree with Aaron on one point. Milwaukee County does have a very good bond rating, but where the credit for that can go is obviously an arguable point.

But the main question is Walker providing good government, good business, both or neither?

When one tries to run a government, one is almost guaranteed to have trouble.

The mission statement that is printed on the back of every county-issued business card reads:
"Milwaukee County Government will provide high-quality, responsive services that enhance self-sufficiency, personal safety, economic opportunity and quality of life for all its people."
Anyone that has been paying attention can see where the problem lies.

Due to Walker's ineffective leadership, the state had to take over the Income Maintenance Program, lest all the tax payers in the state have to pay off on a big-money class action lawsuit. The lawsuit stemmed from the majority of people not receiving timely, if any, services regarding food stamps, energy assistance and health care at a time when the nation was facing one of its most severe economic crises and unemployment was soaring into the double digits.

That's not what one would call high-quality or responsive services.

And given the recent events at the Behavioral Health Division, the House of Correction (before Walker abdicated his duties there to Sheriff Clarke), and other issues surrounding programs like the courthouse and the Sheriff's Office being severely underfunded and/or understaffed, I don't see how this meets the personal safety promise.

Economic opportunities are severely hampered in Milwaukee County as well. Since Walker became county executive, there has been a 20% cut in transit, leading to some 40,000 jobs being lost. If the state legislature doesn't pass the transit bill before going on recess, the county is facing another 35% cuts in transit services, costing tens of thousands of more jobs and hurting business owners because customers can't make it to their stores.

Things aren't any better for economic development, since Walker first staffed these positions with unqualified cronies from his campaign, then eliminated the department altogether.

Take all of the above issues, add the problems with the parks being so understaffed and underfunded to the point that there are hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred repairs and maintenance, golf courses being set up for failure, a courthouse crumbling down on our heads, literally, and you can see that our quality of life has drastically dropped under Walker's reign.

It would take some seriously myopic vision through heavily rose-tinted glasses to see anything but that Scott Walker has been an abject failure as county executive and really has no business being in government.


  1. I suppose there was no surplus under Clinton either as dems the government still had enormous unpaid debt. Just checking on your consistency.

  2. You bring up a former president from 10 years ago on a post about the present day county executive, then claim you're checking for consistency?

  3. Your words..."there really is no surplus. Not when there was so much unpaid debt and so many bills that had to be paid"

    So, yes checking for consistency; either you have convictions or you're a political opportunist...