Then County Executive Scott Walker deliberately tried to sabotage the program so that he could privatize it. As a result, hundreds of people were wrongly denied benefits or had their benefits delayed for months, all at the height of the Great Recession. But when a class action lawsuit was filed against both Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle pulled Walker's and the taxpayers' heinies out of the fire by taking over control of the program.
When Walker became governor, he immediately set about mucking things up, using private employees when public employees were mandated, wrongly denying benefits, not providing documents in Spanish and Hmong, etc. Within a few months of Walker taking office, he was being taken to the proverbial woodshed by the feds, again jeopardizing taxpayers as well as the poor.
Fast forward to today, and we find that Walker is still trying to play the same stunts. Doing their civic duty, the good people at Hunger Task Force have been keeping the feds informed of this. True to Walker's nature, instead of correcting the errors, he has decided to take it out on the Hunger Task Force. They have forced them out of an office and into a corner of the public area. To adjust to this, the Hunger Task Force started using mobile computer carts to help incoming clients. The state went after them again:
The Hunger Task Force has had employees in the Coggs Center for several years to help ensure low-income residents deserving of the help get it. After being squeezed out of its office space and placed in a smaller corner of the building, the task force last month began to use carts equipped with computer terminals to help people waiting in line sign up for benefits.Hey, where are the libertarians on this?! The state telling a private agency how they can conduct their business? Hello? Anyone?
The idea was to help clients avoid a wait, communicate with someone who speaks their language and apply for benefits online, said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force.
The task force has Burmese and Hmong-speaking employees who hang out in a Coggs waiting area to assist clients.
Tussler said the help is needed because the state has not provided documents translated into other languages, as is required under federal law.
"Our staff routinely meet people who have had their case(s) closed, received an overpayment or underpayment or (who have) not been given rights information because they don't read, write or speak English," Tussler said in a letter to county supervisors.
Claire Smith, speaking for the state Department of Health Services, said Hunger Task Force workers are welcome to help clients in the task force's small office at the Coggs Center — provided they've been given referrals from state income maintenance workers.
However, roving staffers with computer carts weren't part of a 2013 agreement between the state and the Hunger Task Force, Smith said.
The carts interrupt the work flow and don't provide the necessary confidentiality when taking applications, she said.
"It's the state's responsibility to make sure their personal information is protected," Smith said.
The agreement says that the Hunger Task Force workers at Coggs work "under the direction" of state staff.
But then the reason for the state's conniptions comes out:
Tussler said the state wanted her employees to stop intervening with clients in reaction to the task force's collection of evidence that some people are being improperly denied benefits.But this is where it gets interesting. Current Milwaukee County Emperor and protege to Walker, was all too eager to please and offered to kick the Hunger Task Force out:
"Our interest is in helping the poorest of the poor obtain equal and reliable access to food," Tussler said.
Tussler said she refused a request last week by Hector Colón, the county's health and human services director, to stop using the mobile stations to sign up people for benefits at the Coggs Center. The center is a public building, and her staff members have a right to be there during office hours, she said.It should be noted that this whole thing is coming down just months after Abele Friedens Food Pantry evicted from the Coggs Building so that the state could take up that space as well. They must have needed the room for all the relatives and cronies they've been hiring and promoting.
Colón, in a written response, said he gave no order to Tussler. State officials explained to Tussler that the roving computer cart "was disrupting other operations being carried out by state... staff."
Tussler said Colón and two county staffers on Colón's behalf had told Tussler to stop using the roving cart.
It also comes just weeks after Walker signed the Plutocracy Bill into law, giving Abele unprecedented tyrannical power over the county.
Every day, it's becoming more and more difficult to tell Abele and Walker apart. They both need to be removed from office with all due haste. The longer they stay in office, the more people are going to be harmed.