Saturday, January 09, 2010

I Don’t See Any Deferred Maintenance

In late 2008, the Public Policy Forum conducted a third party analysis of Milwaukee County's Park system. At that time they estimated that the system had between $275 million and $300 million in deferred maintenance. Earlier this week, Milwaukee County released an internal audit that estimated that the number was closer to $200 million. When those massive numbers were released, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Scott Walker disputed them. I don't recall him giving any data or sound reasoning for his challenge of the findings but he disputed them nonetheless. So if Walker refuses to believe a third party analysis and a Milwaukee County audit, would he believe his own Parks department estimates?

Funny that I should mention it because in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they report on a long-range plan drawn up by the parks department that puts the number at $238 million. If Walker disputed the audit's $200 million figure, that must mean that he also disputes the even higher figure set forth by his own parks department right? How awkward of him. Maybe he should remove the hand from his eyes long enough to see reality and the results of his own short term approach to parks policy. How many reports/audits will it take for Walker to admit that his deferred maintenance problem is massive? Maybe he is keeping his eyes covered on the issue because of the self inflicted nature of the subject.

But if Walker were to actually take a look at the reality that he helped create, he would have to focus on an actual solution. One of the primary solutions from his own parks department is for it to have its own sales tax. If that sounds like a familiar idea, it is probably because in 2008 Milwaukee County voters approved such a dedicated source of funding for not only parks but for transit and other quality of life and core services. Walker has rejected voter's insight on the issue and likewise he apparently rejects his own parks department.

In a rare move, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel appeared to criticize Walker's hand-over-the-eyes approach to his parks problem. They suggested that his observations were "sugar coated" and "too rosy". That is the understatement of the year since we are clearly dealing with a person that is trying to move forward by avoiding reality and with his hand firmly implanted over his face.

Afterthought: I wonder if the long-range plan that is mentioned in today's MJS is the same long-range plan that won that gold metal last year? You know the award that was based on an application, a video presentation and a submitted long-range plan? Wouldn't it be odd if Walker was running around touting an award last year that was partially based on a plan that he for the most part rejects?


Dave Reid said...

It sure seems to me the solution is the dedicated sales tax to fund a parks district.

jpk said...

Dave- agree about the sales tax increase, disagree about the district. There's no need. Milw County Parks Dept does a great job. Why complicate things with a new parks district - just give them adequate funding.