Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
This week we have learned all of the sordid details surrounding Scott Walker's dysfunctional stewardship of the Behavioral Health Division. His policies have caused major staffing problems, massive overtime and total instability. Walker's blindness toward his incompetent underlings (until this week) have only exacerbated those problems. For most of his tenure as county executive we have seen preventable tragedies at BHD coupled with total administrative negligence.
All of these Walker years of dysfunction certainly contrast sharply with his promises back in 2002. At that time he claimed that he didn't advocate privatization at BHD. In fact he went on to declare that he opposed "large-scale privatization in any area." Generally he said that "the first approach should be to make the system work better." Specifically about BHD he said that "efforts to improve and become more efficient must come first." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/24/02]
Obviously it didn't take Scott Walker very long to "forget" these promises. It seems to be a pattern with him: say anything to get elected and then lose your memory after you win. In this specific example, contrary to his words in 2002, Walker has sought to privatize in just about every area possible. He has made it his mission to do this regardless of the actual cost.
As far as Walker's promises to "make the system work better" and to "improve and become more efficient"...well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to confirm that he certainly failed to deliver on those. There is nothing "efficient" about a dangerously short staffing and exploding overtime costs. Likewise, I don't think that anyone would describe what has actually happened on Walker's watch as making "the system work better".
While he runs around making promises and saying anything to get elected, someone really should be present to continually "refresh his recollection" on his own record.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
These numbers speak for themselves and they reveal longstanding Walker Administration policy.
While the MJS lists a variety of reasons in their call for firings, these numbers can not be dismissed. They represent a clear pattern of policy by the Walker administration that have resulted in an overstretched staff at BHD.
To hear Scott Walker's response ("I formed a committee a few months ago") to the current crisis at BHD, one would think that these problems were new. Sadly preventable tragedies and bad conditions at BHD have occurred throughout most of Walker's tenure as county executive.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial is correct. There should be multiple firings at BHD. But no one should be under the illusion that such action would correct the problems in the division because many of them come from flawed policy. It is the same kind of policy that put the Milwaukee County House of Correction in full crisis mode in 2007 and 2008. It is the same kind of policy that caused a meltdown in Milwaukee County's Economic Support Division. It seems that all of these issues share a common thread. You can't ignore the Walker policy of seeking short term gain through massive staff cuts. This politically expedient approach has proven to have long term consequences. Sometimes they manifest themselves in dollars, sometimes as terrible tragedies and sometimes they manifest themselves as both. In the end if these kinds of flawed policies are not fully acknowledged and addressed, a few firings are not going to solve our problems.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
"Neumann in beer stein holding contest"
By the looks of this video Neumann may have the stein holding contest enthusiast demographic locked up. I wonder what percentage of the Republican primary they represent?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Walker says that he is going to form a commission to study waste and fraud in state government. He pulls a number out of nowhere saying that his commission will somehow save the state $300 million. He doesn't state specifically how he came up with that number. In fact his campaign spokesperson admitted that the commission wouldn't know all the areas that they could cut until after the November election.
Of all the examples that Scott Walker could have pulled out of thin air regarding his new phony plan, he chose state overtime costs. What was he thinking? Shortly after Walker announced the "plan", One Wisconsin Now pointed out that the percentage of overtime costs in Milwaukee County have been much higher than they were in the state. The obvious question is if this is Walker's big plan for the state, why couldn't he get his own house in order first? Could it be because it is just another election year gimmick? Yes.
In fact there are two areas where massive overtime have caused major problems for Milwaukee County. In 2007 and 2008 Walker failed to fill fully funded positions out at the House of Correction and overtime costs ballooned. In fact a Milwaukee County audit found that from 2003 to 2007 overtime had absolutely exploded at the House of Correction by over 218%. Walker's vicious circle of dysfunction and poor management at the House of Correction spiraled out of control leading to a nasty federal audit and to Walker totally losing control of the facility.
The troubled Behavioral Health Division is another area that has constantly suffered from exploding overtime costs during Scott Walker's administration. Walker has repeatedly and drastically cut staff at BHD. In addition he has failed to fill fully funded positions. So there should be no surprise that overtime costs at BHD have gone up from $2.8 million in 2001 to over $4.7 million in 2008.
Scott Walker owns this kind of overtime record and he has the nerve to lecture us about overtime costs? Scott Walker's spin machine will certainly have to work some serious overtime to sell this hypocrisy to the public.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Earlier this week Jack Craver asked if Neumann was still in it to win it? After listening to his debate with Scott Walker yesterday, I am actually wondering the same thing. Neumann originally wanted to have debates with Walker all over the state. Now that he finally had his chance he largely failed to draw the aggressive kind of contrasts that an insurgent campaign should be providing. The openings were there on spending, Walker's 24 hour flip-flop on the Arizona immigration law, Walker's waffle on tolls and on infrastructure issues. All were opportunities that he failed to take. In fact, he allowed Walker to be the first to "attack" him regarding his property tax idea. Even when Neumann did approach a contrast it wasn't direct enough ("I'm a businessman, I'm not a career politician" etc).
Most media described the debate as both candidates agreeing on most issues. That is fine for Walker who has the lead and has the GOP establishment support. For Neumann that perception makes the debate a loss (no matter what his email says). Not because Walker did anything spectacular during the debate (he didn't have to) but because Neumann failed to strongly exploit every opening that he was given.
It seems like someone let the guy in the hairnet back into the race. I'm just wondering if this was a one-time encore performance or if he is back for good? If it is the latter then it looks like Neumann might just stumble out of the campaign in the same way that he stumbled into it.
Friday, August 06, 2010
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.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Scott Walker's own proposed budgets show that he has been willing to increase Milwaukee County spending by some 35% during his time as county executive. That number far eclipses Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's spending record over the same period.
And "smart budgeting"? I wonder what is "smart" about at least $200 million in looming deferred maintenance in the Milwaukee County Parks system alone? I wonder what is "smart" about vetoing $150k for building inspections to only (after a tragedy) be forced later to spend an unexpected $700k in the form of a no-bid contract to a campaign contributor? I wonder who defines as "smart budgeting" the act of not paying a pension obligation and instead putting taxpayers on the hook for $400 million more in debt? Not to mention front loading 3 years of borrowing and spending into one (election) year.
One of the only people that could possibly be shameless enough to refer to Walker's record as "smart budgeting" and "less government spending" is Paul Ryan. He has applied that very same delusional practice to his own record in Congress.
Ryan voted in favor of every single federal budget-joining the then-Republican majority in increasing the federal budget by $1 trillion. During that time he also voted for defense authorization measures that were filled with massive earmarks and other pork barrel spending. Ryan is also a lead cheerleader for the renewal of George W. Bush tax cuts for the rich even though such giveaways are a major source of our increasing national deficit.
Given the fact that Paul Ryan suffers from serious delusions regarding his own record, it is really no surprise that he would endorse Scott Walker who suffers from the very same rhetoric v. reality syndrome.