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Walker Needs To Step Down

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 4, 2009

The mission statement for Milwaukee County reads:

“Milwaukee County Government will provide high-quality, responsive services that enhance self-sufficiency, personal safety, economic opportunity and quality of life for all its people.”

Scott Walker’s job, as Milwaukee County Executive, is to monitor the day to day business of the county, follow county and state laws, to ensure that these services are being provided.

He has, either through incompetency and/or willful refusal, has consistency failed to meet even a modicum of his job responsibilities.

As most recently observed, he willfully failed to fully staff the public call center to the point that people were being denied the benefits that the law allows them to help them through rough economic times. Due to Walker’s failure to “provide high-quality, responsive service” the State of Wisconsin has had to come in and take over those programs.

This is by far not the only area of county government that Walker has come up short in.

By failing to properly staff the parks department, and by willfully failing to maintain the parks, it will now cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to restore the system. Things have gotten so bad, that some park bathrooms had to be closed due to them being unsafe for the public. Seeing that he was failing to perform his duties, he tried to abdicate them by pushing for a separate parks authority, but failed in even doing that.

The Milwaukee County Transit system is similar perilous straits. Walker has annually cut routes and raised fares to the point that it is one of the few, if not the only, public transit system that has lost riders during the recent gas price spikes. It is in such financial peril that up to 35% of it may be lost next year, and some say it is in a death spiral. Meanwhile, Walker continues to sit on $91.5 million dollars from the federal government that was put aside to improve Milwaukee’s mass transit situation. Also like the parks, Walker has tried to get out of his responsibilities by trying to pawn the transit system off on the state-operated regional transit authority.

Since originally taking office in 2002, Walker has habitually cut mental health services to the community. It had gotten so bad that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which usually loves Walker and overlooks, if not defends, most of his shortcomings, did a whole year long series about how bad it was. Walker eventually started making efforts to repair the damage he had done, but only after there was such a public outcry.

Even when Walker started to take care of his mistakes regarding the mental health system, he turns around and drops the ball regarding the mental health complex. First, he allows the accreditation lapse. He also allows the building to fall in such disrepair that it would actually be cheaper to build a new one. But instead, he picks the most expensive option of buying out a building which is even older and in worse condition that the current structure, and which would cost tens of millions of dollars more to do.

Walker also severely cut the budget to the House of Corrections, to the point that it was no longer safe for the inmates, for the correction officers, or for the community. It was so bad that a federal audit was done and that showed that HOC had a laundry list of problems. To solve the problem, Walker dumped his responsibilities on Sheriff David Clarke.

Walker has also continuously tried to bilk the courts, juvenile probation, and even burials for the indigent dead. The list goes on and on.

On top of all that, Walker did some political grand standing by refusing to even provide a list for federal stimulus dollars. Now I understand that not everyone is in agreement with the thought of a stimulus package, but that is not logical. If you have to chip into this stimulus package, where is the fiscal responsibility in refusing to gain any benefit from it.

And even if Walker was correct (that would be a first), and there are too many strings attached to the stimulus money, there is nothing saying he has to take it. But to turn down even the opportunity to see if a deal could be negotiated would be a bad, bad business practice.

But Walker’s failure to follow through on things, and then trying to abdicate his responsibilities is a life long pattern for him. How else does one explain why he dropped out of Marquette University shortly after losing an election for student body president to a write-in candidate?

All of Walker’s misdeeds were done with one goal in mind. It was all an effort to make himself look more attractive to the voters in his perpetual race for governor.

There are some that think that these acts of willful neglect and of sabotage for personal and political gain is not malfeasance. Good for them, but I, and a growing number of people, think that it does.

But as I pointed out at the beginning of this post, Walker, either through neglect, sabotage, or just sheer incompetence, needs to step down, so that we can go about trying to save the county, while there is still a county to save. And if he refuses to do the right thing for the county for once, then there are sufficient grounds for a recall.


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