Friday, August 06, 2010

Walker's Cheap Attacks Contaminate Real Discourse

Typical Scott Walker. Shamelessly trying to exploit an issue that he suddenly pretends to care about. All because he thinks that he might score cheap political points. This time he is trying to use a historic flood to point fingers about resulting sewer overflows that are actually at historically low levels. He does this even though he has shown no real interest in this issue before. He has never proposed a single solution to the system that his county sewers contribute to nor has he even bothered to attend a single commission meeting. To get an even better view of how little Scott Walker really cares about this issue, you only need to look at his own county sewer failures.

In 2005 scientists from UW-Milwaukee's Great Lakes Water Institute (GLWI) and the City of Milwaukee Health Department repeatedly discovered contamination on Milwaukee County's Bradford Beach. The contamination included E. coli, a bacterium found in human and animal waste. James Rowen wrote one of the first accounts of these findings and the resulting actions that were taken (by everyone but Scott Walker). In typical fashion Walker and his administration were busy pointing fingers instead of working toward solutions. In the end it was found that Milwaukee County sewer "outfalls" were the primary reason for the repeated contamination of Bradford Beach. After rainfalls they would repeatedly spray contaminated water all across it.

Even though it was a Milwaukee County beach and a Milwaukee County source of repeated contamination everyone else had to step up to identify and solve Milwaukee County's problem. Apparently Scott Walker didn't care much about sewers or contaminated beaches in 2005. Again, even though it turned out to be a County problem, it was the GLWI scientists, the City of Milwaukee Health Department, and MMSD that took the lead in identifying and solving it.

Walker attacks MMSD today but actually he should be thanking them for helping solve his mismanagement and the neglect of his own county sewer and beach. The Blue Wave award that he loves to crow about now would have not been possible without their help and over $80,000 MMSD dollars which they were not required to give him. How many of those dollars could have been invested elsewhere if it weren't for Scott Walker's neglected sewers and beach? It should be noted that Walker also received at least $35,000 from the state to help fix his E. Coli problem. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/15/05; 3/1/05; 5/25/05]

Even though everyone else rushed to help solve the problem that doesn't mean that they were particularly happy about doing Walker's work for him. Here are some of the telling quotes that were reported at the time:

"We're bringing the money to the table, and UWM is bringing the science. Milwaukee County is bringing a dirty beach." - Former Alderman Michael D'Amato

"From my point of view, we're just encouraging irresponsible behavior. Maintaining county parks and beaches is the responsibility of Milwaukee County." -State Rep. Pedro Colon

"Bradford Beach suffers from poor maintenance," said Kevin Shafer, MMSD's executive director, in an Oct. 29 report to the district's commissioners (which also advocated for spending $25,000 to help solve the problem).

If Scott Walker didn't have a solution for his own sewer problem in 2005, why should we expect him to have any solutions now? For team Walker everything is a political calculation and a cheap talking point. I'd tell him to flush his cheap attacks down a county sewer but I'm worried that it would again contaminate Bradford Beach. One thing that his cheap attacks have certainly contaminated is meaningful discourse about actual solutions.

1 comment:

enoughalready said...

I believe this important story would make for a good letter to the editor in every newspaper in Wisconsin. We in Milwaukee County especially need to get the word out that Scott Walker has been a less than adequate couty executive and has no business anywhere near the governor's office. It also says volumes about his character.