Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Can I Have a Cappuccino with that Green Space?

It has been my personal opinion since 2002 that Scott Walker was only using the position of Milwaukee County Executive as a political stepping stone before running for governor. Does anyone else remember how that argument was dismissed when he first ran? Yet that is exactly what happened. Perhaps that is why he seems to act on issues that will only solve rather short term problems. Trying to solve Milwaukee County's long term problems would require too much sacrifice, and could cost him and his political aspirations.

The latest example of this was in yesterday's school choice rally...oh excuse me, Walker for Governor event....oh my...I meant to say the state of the county address. What is the big solution that Scott Walker has for the troubled parks department and county at large? He wants a caramel apple latte. What? According to the story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it appears that Scott Walker's most immediate goal is to bring private companies into our parks. Coffee shops was the most prominent example in the story. Again here he goes with the privatization solves everything mantra. Tell that to the person that just donated $150,000 to Whitnall Park's visitor center to keep it afloat. That project was a collaboration between the County and a private group, which has run into financial problems. This is only one example of how privatizing everything is not always best.

According to the story, Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic believes that this is "the beginning of privatization of the parks." Commenting on private companies eyeing a park in her district, she also termed this kind of thing "pimping off the parks system." Although I don't think that private partnership is always wrong, I think that Supervisor Dimitrijevic is correct in her assessment in this case. I think that Walker has one hell of a mess on his hands while he is trying to convince voters in the state that he should be Governor. He seems to be looking for any short term band aid solution so that he can just squeeze by till his exit to Madison (god forbid) or the private sector (he did promise not to run past 2008 didn't he?).

I have an idea for Scott Walker. While we are starting to sell off the parks system, why don't we make sure you go out in style? Let's start selling naming rights to the parks and other county assets! WE Energies Park, the SBC House of Correction, or how about the Artisan Partners Courthouse? Those all have a nice ring to them don't they? Then you could put a very nice temporary band aid on the county's financial problems and forget the long term substantive issues. All of this while you ride off into the sunset, warm cup of java in your hand, leaving the rest of us to make the tough decisions.

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