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Walker’s Grandstanding Causes Pandemonium

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 9, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

Scott Walker, in another fine example of putting his political aspirations before the common good of Milwaukee County, has started pandemonium among the municipal leaders within the county:

“You’d better be prepared not to have the (paramedic funding) from the county,” Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolender warned fellow mayors and village presidents at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council. “I think it’s just going to die. . . . I have a bad feeling about this.”

Bolender said he expected the cash-strapped county to cut off funding for the service within a year or two. Others, such as Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor, were concerned about what would happen to paramedics and other services if state and county officials dismantle or revamp county government, as discussed in a recent report by the Public Policy Forum.

That report, commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, talks about giving municipalities responsibility for running paramedic service and maintaining county highways, “but I didn’t hear anything about the transfer of dollars or revenue,” Taylor said. Funding also would be a problem if municipalities had to take over county parks, he added.

The problem stems from two things.

One is the fact that Walker, in a grandstanding maneuver that included little forethought except for how it might benefit his campaign, has been touting the idea of dismantling county government.  This is, of course, nothing more than the ultimate abdication of duties by Walker, who has a long history of doing so.

The other issue is that Walker and the County Board passed an illegal budget that only continues to worsen with each passing day.

Frankly, I don’t blame these municipal leaders for being very concerned about the future of Milwaukee County and the support it has given to them.  The county government is in complete disarray, and our elected leaders are too busy either trying to run away from the county as fast as they can or trying to point fingers at others and not trying to fix the issues at hand.

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke shows how far their trust as been strained in this quote:

Also at the meeting, County Treasurer Dan Diliberti defended the role of county government, saying it streamlined services and saved money by avoiding duplication.

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke replied that the county had a chance to play the role Diliberti outlined, but “it sort of blew it. . . . I’m just personally not prepared to give the county another shot.”

And as I had pointed out a long time ago, in a blog far away, merging the redundant municipal services into one larger, more efficient and more cost effective system is proving to be difficult due to politicians not willing to give up the least bit of control of their own little turfs:

St. Francis Mayor Al Richards lashed out at County Board Chairman Lee Holloway’s support for merging municipal health departments into a county agency. Richards called Holloway’s comments “divisive,” and compared them to the city-suburban tensions in the days of former Milwaukee mayors Henry Maier and John O. Norquist.

Terry Cooley, the board’s chief of staff, said later that Holloway was simply advocating the economies of scale that other counties achieve through their countywide health departments.

I sincerely think that if we had a responsible leader that was dedicated to Milwaukee County and not their own interests, the consolidation of services could easily be done.  But that would require someone to put in the time, the energy and the proactive thinking necessary to develop a plan for this to be done and to point out to the municipal officials that they could be saving their constituents money by cooperating with each other and the county instead of having petty turf wars.


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