PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

So Much Hypocrisy, So Many Lies, So Little Time

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on March 27, 2009

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker sure has been busy during the last 48 hours. It is getting harder and harder to keep up with him. This is especially true when he keeps talking out of different side of his mouth each time he opens it.

First, on the day that the Public Policy Forum issues a dire prognosis for the financial health of Milwaukee County, Walker is busy talking about taking motorcycle rides to a naval shipyard a couple of hundreds of miles away from Milwaukee County.

The next day, despite still wanting to go on that bike ride, and after having given his cronies in his administrations secret, albeit very generous raises, Walker talks about laying off 230 county workers to help with the financial crisis that he helped create. This is generally not a good idea to do, considering that the county and the unions are in contract negotiations. The place to do that is at the negotiating table, but then again, Walker can’t resist a chance to showboat.

That probably explains why on the the next day, he starts to waffle on the stance, and makes it obvious that he is trying to negotiate the contract through the media. Hermes’ Journeys has more on this particular subject.

Also in response to the dire news from PPF, and in preparation for his upcoming announcement to officially kick off the next phase of his perpetual gubernatorial campaign, Walker has announced that he has come up with a refurbished version of his doom and gloom tour from three years ago. This is despite that just last year, he told us that everything looked so rosy.

County Board Supervisor Johnny L. Thomas issued a press release that briefly highlights the folly of Walker’s proposed course of action:

“County Executive Scott Walker contends that the fiscal strategies he proposed yesterday will meet both short- and long-term challenges facing Milwaukee County. But, rather than decreasing the tax burden on County residents, many of his proposals would actually result in increased taxes and fees, with no real positive impact on the County’s fiscal health. The County Executive’s refusal to lobby for stimulus funds, for instance, means that property tax payers might have to face the full burden of future capital projects, rather than using federal dollars to supplement our costs.

“His plan includes leasing General Mitchell International Airport, which is a regional asset that uses no property tax dollars in its operation, to a private operator possibly based overseas. Our airport is widely regarded as one of the most effective and efficient airports in the nation. In fact, our airport is such a good place for airlines to do business that AirTran Airways recently announced plans to increase Milwaukee flights by more than 50 percent. Leasing the airport to a private, for-profit operator would result in higher fees for both airlines and passengers.

“It is unrealistic to believe the County Executive’s approaches would achieve our long-term financial goals. My constituents want fiscal strategies that will work. That’s why, in November, voters in my district—by a 14-point margin—approved the County Board’s plan to provide property tax relief and dedicated funding for transit, parks, and paramedics. That’s what real change and economic stimulus are all about.”

Adding to the folderol, Walker starts spinning on the stimulus money. Again. Walker has a post up on Biz Times Blog, in which he starts out well with finally acknowledging that his sales tax balloon had popped before he launched it.

But then he kicks the hypocrisy into high gear. He starts out with his criteria for accepting any stimulus money. There are two problems with that. First of all, the projects that he and his staff have identified violate his own criteria. Secondly, and more important than the first point, is that it doesn’t matter what criteria he wants. This is a policy decision and policy is set forth by the County Board. He even admits that himself today, when he admits that he will lose any battle regarding the Board’s right to set the policy in seeking stimulus dollars.

Then Walker says that it is all moot anyway:

Last week, the head of the state agency that oversees the federal “stimulus” funds said that anyone who prepared a list prior to the federal plan being signed into law by the President should “tear it up” and start over with the formal application process. We made that point in January when various politicians decried my resistance to submitting a “wish list” to the Governor.

Once the federal legislation was approved and signed and the process became clear, we jumped into action. With my approval, our head of the Department of Transportation and Public Works submitted a list of $66 million in highway projects and $12 million in bridge projects to the state for potential funding. These projects meet all of the mentioned criteria and are part of our long-term plans for the county. Other departments are considering similar requests.

This is just more hypocrisy from Walker. First of all, Walker says that he waited until last week to start working on the requests that he felt worthy. However, on March 10, Cynthia Archer, one of Walker’s staffers, said that Walker already had his people working on requests (even though at the time he was publicly saying he wouldn’t submit any requests) and had been working with state officials for several weeks in order to get them approved.

To make matters even worse for Walker, it was reported today that the requests were submitted on February 18th. And even then, Walker’s staff sent them to the wrong place. When they realized their mistake and sent it to the correct location, it was too late. And to put the final touch to it, the request that Walker had made before he said that he made them while he was saying he wasn’t making them were ineligible anyway.

All of this goes a long, long way to explain the axiom that James Rowen points out:

An old maxim in politics: when you are explaining what you really really really meant, you are losing.

I just hope that the County Board isn’t going to be too delayed by Walker’s malicious obstructionism to get the full benefit that Milwaukee County is eligible for. We could really use the help to recover from the neglect we have experienced for the past seven years.

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