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Milwaukee County’s Newest And Biggest Deficit Crisis

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on November 4, 2009

It was revealed today that Milwaukee County is facing a new deficit crisis that no amount of cuts or higher taxes will resolve.

In fact, this new deficit crisis of which I speak has nothing to do with money.  Well, okay, maybe it does, but only in an indirect manner.

The deficit to which I am referring is the fact that we lack a county executive that is credible or honorable.

Today, JSOnline reported that Scott Walker did not just admit to using lay offs* as a malicious manipulative tool, but actually bragged and joked about it.

This is completely reprehensible.scowling walker

Walker actually issued lay off notices to 180 workers last week due to a sudden fiscal crisis which was the direct result of his administration’s incompetence.  As the County Board scrambled for ways to fix the problem that Walker and his staff created, he issued a statement rescinding the notices.  He made a grandiose statement on how nice it was to be able to work together with the County Board to resolve this problem.

And now it turns out he was lying about the lay offs all along, and that it was just his malicious way to try to manipulate the County Board.

Most of us, especially in this rough economic stretch, has either been laid off or at least furloughed, at some time or another.  I don’t know many people that would say it was fun to be laid off and having to instantly worry about how to make all the bills, much less what to do about health insurance and other stressors that go with being unemployed or underemployed.

For Walker to just unfeelingly take 180 people, their families and the clients that rely on the services that these workers provide and so malevolently manipulate them in order to score some cheap political points is inexcusable.

Predictably, this has caused quite a bit of outrage.

Chairman Holloway, along with Supervisors John Weishan, Chris Larson, Theo Lipscomb and Johnny Thomas issued a joint press release condemning Walker’s actions:

“Either he was lying then, or he’s lying now. This is not a game. The fact is that these employees indeed received layoff notices. A true leader would not play games with our community’s core services and the lives of 180 families for personal, political gain.

“If the County Executive were only applying pressure on the County Board to come up with savings, he wouldn’t have actually issued these layoff notices. Once the County Executive decided to pull the trigger, he cannot claim that he never expected to harm these families.

“The County Executive’s comments are a big slap in the face to the residents of Milwaukee County. His radio comments this morning are contrary to the spirit of cooperation we fostered on Friday.”

Likewise, the unions are just as angry, if not more so.  Rich Abelson, Executive Director of AFSCME District Council 48, gave me his statement on Walker’s behavior:

“His [Scott Walker’s] actions are despicable.  It shows the callous disregard he has for the workers who hold the county together and how out of touch Walker really is.”

Milwaukee County First echoes these condemnations.

For Walker to use innocent people as political pawns is disgusting enough.  But to then go behind everyone’s back and brag and joke about doing so shows a total lack of moral compunction and that he is not someone whose word can ever be trusted, even by his supposed allies.

It is also another example of the scorn and contempt he feels towards the people of Milwaukee County, whom he is supposed to be representing.

*Full disclaimer:  I am an employee of Milwaukee County, but was not one of the people identified for the lay off.

Cross posted at Milwaukee County First.

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