Monday, January 6, 2014

The Battle For Milwaukee

Via a Huffington Post article written by  Michael B. Sauter and Thomas C. Frohlich, we are referred to a report from 24/7 Wall Street which ranked the largest 100 cities in the country based on how well the cities are being run.

Image courtesy of
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee did not do very well at all, coming in as the tenth worst ran city in the nation:
10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Population: 599,000 (28th largest)
> Credit rating: Aa2, stable
> Violent crime per 100,000: 1,294 (10th highest)
>; 2012 Unemployment rate: 10.1% (27th highest)

Milwaukee struggles with poverty and high crime rates. Last year, a typical household made just over $34,000, and nearly 30% of people lived beneath the poverty line, considerably worse than the country’s figures. There were nearly 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, more than three times the national rate of 387 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The city’s socioeconomic problems were among the reasons Moody’s assigned Milwaukee a Aa2 rating. The agency also expressed management-related concerns, specifically highlighting the city’s debt burden and the complexity of its debt financing.
Unsurprisingly, people like the race baiters at White Wisconsin used this to take jabs at Mayor Tom Barrett.  Lefties are turning around and trying to put the blame on Scott Walker and the Teapublican legislature.

But to lay this at the feet of any one individual is terribly naive and ignorant.  This has been happening for generations and has a root that is deeper on the right than on the left, although it is very pervasive on both sides.

The problems listed in the report has a lot to do with the ongoing racism in this city and this state.

In April 2013, Milwaukee was found to be the most segregated area of the nation.  I pointed out at that time that the segregation was happening on more than just a geographical level.

For decades, Milwaukee school children have been getting set apart by having a large portion of their education funding diverted to support the education privatizers and profiteers, even though these private schools have been repeatedly been shown to be worse than public education.  Not only has the problem never been corrected, in recent years, the siphoning of funds has been greater, making it even more difficult for children to get a good education.

Milwaukee is also segregated electorally.  First there is Scot Walker and the Teapublican legislature reinstating Jim Crow laws and poll taxes, making it harder for many minorities to vote.  Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele furthered the problem by diminishing the representative government the county once enjoyed.  At least locally, it's now harder to vote and you have less of a voice even when you do vote.

Speaking of losing one's voice, let us not forget the bias in the media.  Radio station aimed at a black audience can't stay on the air while WTMJ teams up with the Koch-funded Club for Growth to keep spewing their race baiting.

Along the same line, a gas station in Washington County can make the news in Milwaukee, but the escalated wave of crime in the city itself barely gets mentioned.  It's as if the corporate media wants people to believe that the money from a exurban gas station is more important than the life of a young black man in the inner city.  Oh, wait, that's exactly what they are doing.

Milwaukee's segregation is also economical.  Abele fights any and all efforts to have a minimum wage come to Milwaukee.  Mayor Tom Barrett went against the will of the people and squashed the law requiring paid sick time for workers in the city.  On top of that, there are the Teapublicans that are looking for any chance they get to cut people off of unemployment, food stamps and Badger Care.

And when one considers the other constant issues of segregation, like how a black man has a one in three chance of being incarcerated, it's not surprising that things are going to hell in a handbasket.

All of this ingrained racism, segregation and oppression is really brought home in a blog post written by a former Milwaukeean who eloquently speaks of her experiences here:
I am fully aware that what plagues my family and so many people in Milwaukee is a combination of poor public policy, mass segregation, over incarceration and an even poorer education system. I chose to move away from Milwaukee not the work. I choose to focus my energy and adult working life on public policies where zip code doesn’t dictate destiny, where parental income doesn’t so easily transfer, where schoolhouses can be an oasis of hope.

I left my burden somewhere on the sidewalk cracks of Hadley Street on the north side of Milwaukee just as I would in the torn up rubble of the Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago. I’ll never get Milwaukee tattooed on my chest. I probably will never be able to vacation with my family members in some incredible safari resort in Kenya and many of them will likely never board a plane to see what life is like for their cousin, sister, friend in Brooklyn. And while I continue to mourn that Huxatble dream of going back ‘home’ to a place that is safe, supportive, and where people understand me, I’ve learned that the best I could do is be safe, supportive, and understanding to them.

I learned from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie that: stories matter. I learned that stories empower, humanize and can also repair broken dignity. But, as Ms. Adichie often says, this is just one story. It is just one story of Milwaukee and the memories I bury at the airport each and every time I board my plane back to my home where my friends, job and family await me on the East Coast. I will reminiscence about Milwaukee as my grandparents once did of Mississippi, as a place with much history but with no future for me.
Things can get better, but only when we start raising all of our boats and not those of a select few.  The majority of citizens in the City of Milwaukee are African American. It is utter foolishness to think that you can hold down the majority of the population and have any kind of success.

We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We need to allow people to take off for sick children without fear of losing their jobs or their homes.  We need to allow all people to have an equal voice and has an equal chance.  Most of all, we need to call out and condemn the racism that permeates almost every aspect and region of not only Milwaukee but all of Wisconsin.

And if our elected officials - regardless of what party they are in- refuse to make these things happen, we need new leaders who will.  The corporatization of our country has gone too far.  We need to start taking our city, our county, our state and our country back.

But as long as we keep electing politicians that are more worried about the corporate special interests and their money than the people they're supposed to be representing, don't expect things to get better.  They would rather play the same game of finger pointing every time one of these reports comes out instead of actually leading.


  1. MKE had sick days....Walker took them away

    1. Actually, Barrett and Grant Langley decided not to defend the ordinance from a court challenge by Tim Sheehy's MMAC. As a result the ordinance was never implemented.

      Walker only took the power to implement paid sick days away from Milwaukee a couple of years AFTER this happened.

  2. With Barrett set to focus on jobs and neighborhoods why is anybody worried?
    Actually its laughable that you can try to blame a lack of liberal ideals when liberals have run the city for a century.

    1. I even point out that it's a fool's errand to blame it on one level of government, but you go ahead and do so. And to think that Barrett or Walker or Abele are liberals are also laughable. Come back when you have even a clue of which you speak.

    2. OK, So Milwaukee's true liberal ideology has been muddied by middle of the road dems. and occasional conservative politicians? Your premise I assume.
      I myself welcome the intervention by county and state gov. into Milwaukees policies. Because I can see Chicagos future without the same intervention, and Detroit up until recently, for that matter. A comparison I am sure you want to avoid in order to justify your ideals.

    3. Actually, just the opposite. Detroit is sinking because of the austerity you embrace. And there isn't many better examples of a corporate Dem than Rahm.

      It cracks me up how you corporationists screw everything up and then blame the people. But that is the trend of a good capitalist, isn't it? Too bad for you that the house of cards are falling and people are seeing through the lies.

    4. Wow, I was actually thinking the same thing of your views. I was thinking elections are going against your endorsements more often than not. But I still value your opinions, even though I don't agree. Crazy hey?
      You seriously think Detroits problems were all caused in the last few years, as the state tried to reign in the spiraling demise? Same with Rahm, all he is trying to do is damage control, which he won't go near far enough to save it.
      I don't view myself as a corporationist, but if not being a pawn for a union makes me that then I can live with it.

    5. Milwaukee African Americans face a fierce racist opponent in the White flight suburbs who liberal hating and minority punishing rulers crush any and all opposition to go as far as to screw over talgo.

      WI conservatives are as racist as they come because every policy they champion has the effect of crushing the people that do.not vote for them.

    6. Sweet it's IMBR! Uh oh, what's that?

    7. Speaking of pawns, welcome Shane.

    8. In other words, IMBAR doesn't care what the cause is as long as he doesn't have to stop leeching off of the fruit of Labor.

    9. Yes, what a pawn I am for my membership in, and advocacy of, an organization that not only allows me to effectively bargain for the value of the commodity that I provide, but also provides me with insurance, training, and retirement benefits. You're right as always. How could I have been so blind as to not see the manner in which I've been exploited by that organization that I get a democratic voice within?

      This of course is in contrast with you. The man who never misses a single opportunity to figuratively drop to his knees, mouth open and hands behind his back, to verbally fellate the corporate oligarchy. I'm sure there's a huge benefit to you and you haven't been mislead at all. I'm sure you're routinely tangibly rewarded for your tireless efforts. I'm sure you have a voice within those organizations that can affect the direction their policies take. It's nice that you don't consider yourself a corporatist. A question though? Do you find yourself having a hard time getting the sand out of your hair? What with your head being buried so deeply in it? As always, flawless analysis IMBR!

    10. I was actually thinking you were a pawn for this website. A means to smear any dissenting opinion.
      But if its your union you want to advocate then I am sure you should have no fear of right to work legislation, because all those positives you want to say you have over any non unionized employee will ensure that unions will stay strong when they don't have the ability to force people to pay dues. Which in part are used to help find and elect the very same politicians that ran Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago for 5 decades.

    11. How witty IMBAR is! What IMBAR doesn't want to address is that the constant erosion of what Labor had won over the decades is directly correlated to the loss of the middle class, the growing wage disparity and the economic ruin we're seeing now.

      Apparently, IMBAR's greed is so great that he wants to see people fail so that he can have a few more pennies in his pocket and think he is a winner.

    12. I understand your objection to the chipping away at the sweet deal the public unions have managed to carve out for themselves. But the attempt to imply I am against all unions only tells me that nobody has much empathy for public unions these days as everyone is hurting during this "democrats recovery period" so you need to resort to solidarity of all unions.
      Here's some witt for you:
      A "Liberal Utopia" would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only Law Enforcement has guns. Believe it or not, such a place does indeed exist….

      It's called prison. - Don Imus

    13. By the simple fact that you feel that it is "chipping away" at the "sweet deal" for the public unions shows me that you really don't even understand what the facts are, much less do you care.

      You don't realize that yes, benefits were better, but only because the unions had the foresight to take the long term approach and accepted much lower wages in exchange for them. Now that the benefits are the same or worse than the private sector, but still with the lower pay, is why there has been such an exodus of quality employees and we are stuck with the substandard private agencies ripping off the taxpayers.

      But like most right wing lemmings, all they have to do is say "tax cuts" and you're more than willing to run off the cliff, dragging as many as you can with you.

  3. You seriously think Detroits problems were all caused in the last few years --

    NO, Detroits problems started the minute Clinton Signed NAFTA, The extremist Governor Snyder just put the final chokehold on them, to make sure there was no coming back to life!

  4. There is no single level of government that is responsible for the lack of jobs in Milwaukee. Unfortunately there is one polititian that has put his own political ambitions before the community that he was elected to serve.

    You know who I am talking about.

    This man eliminated living wage jobs while he was the Milwaukee County Executive to promote himself into the Governors mansion. He chased away a manufacturor that had located in Milwaukee to build trains. He cut state aid to local communities directly resulting in the loss of jobs from the budget cuts and indirectly by removing money from the economy.

    What a guy!

    In April of 2012, weeks before his recall election he announced a program to spend $100 million that would be borrowed through a bond sale to create jobs in poor areas of Milwaukee. This spending package which would include several state agencies would "include efforts to reoccupy foreclosed and vacant properties, provide loans and venture funding for small businesses and industrial development, and improve freight and intermodal transportation to foster the revitalization of industry."

    What happened?

    Did it all go to I-tune gift cards?

    Freight and intermodal transportation? Is that to make up for the federal money that he turned down that was part of the high speed rail funding?

    If we all work together, maybe, just maybe we can make this clown go away.