Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let The People Speak

Last week, I wrote about the disparity in the Milwaukee County Park System. My post was inspired by an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that showed how Milwaukee is lagging behind the rest of the nation is spending on local parks.

Today we find that almost a third of the bathrooms in the parks system get poor to failing grades, based on a study done by the Parks Department. The repairs would cost nearly $1 million, and some bathrooms are so bad that the County might be better off just closing them permanently and putting up "prefab bathrooms":
The board's parks committee today got a virtual tour of some of the shabbiest park bathrooms and a bracing estimate of what it might cost to fix them. Remodeling the worst of the worst - the 11 park restrooms given an "F" grade - would cost more than $862,000, supervisors were told.

That's a tentative price tag - the county might be better off to simply close some of those for good or substitute new "pre-fab" bathrooms, said Parks Director Sue Black. The pre-fab units are all the rage among parks officials nationally and would cost less than overhauling outdated restrooms to meet current building codes and federal accessibility standards for persons with disabilities, Black said.

Cost estimates have not yet been made on wiping out the defects at the other sub-par park restrooms.

To add to the County's ongoing embarrassment is an audit that found the Milwaukee County Transit System which found the system to be in decline:
The independent audit, required by state law, depicts the bus system as a cost-effective operation with declining service. Auditors recommended more state and local funding, in the form of a dedicated revenue stream.

Those findings are consistent with the results of previous state audits and of studies by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, the Public Policy Forum and a consultant hired by the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development effort.

These sorts of things have gone on for too long. The decline in quality of life has cost Milwaukee County and its citizens much, much more than a few dollars that it would have cost to restore the parks and the transit system to their previous places of prestige, being yardsticks for the rest of the nation to measure themselves to.

The Milwaukee County Board had approved an advisory referendum to raise sales tax by 1%, with the money to go to the parks, to transit and to property tax relief. Thinking that being in control of a failing county will help his chances to be governor, Walker has vetoed it. I agree with my friend Jay Bullock on how that makes Walker look.

The Board now votes on July 24 on whether to override Walker's veto. The time is now for us to call our County Board Supervisors, and tell them that they must override Walker's short-sighted veto, and take action to restore Milwaukee County back to a place where people would truly find safety, affordability and pride.

You can get the contact information for your Supervisor here, and if you don't know who your Supervisor is, you can find out by clicking here.


  1. It takes a LOT of money to pay for super-pensions and backdrops, eh?

  2. I can tell you the men's bathroom at the Humboldt Park wading pool is in horrible shape. It often appears not to have been cleaned in months, and smells pretty foul too. It would probably be in much better shape if we had some volunteer crews that could clean it even once a month.

    Unfortunately, it's befallen the fate of most central city parks under Scott Walker's watch, crumbling and stinking to high heaven while the suburban parks remain relatively well-cleaned and well-maintained.

  3. so I'm sitting here in Sven's Cafe on KK, looking at the article in question, and I see listed as restrooms getting an F grade:

    Humboldt Park band shell
    South Shore Park boathouse
    Juneau Park Comfort Building

    The top two of these are in Bay View. And it just so happens that me and several hundred other people were in Humboldt Park last night enjoying Chill on the Hill, a free concert series put on by the Parks and the Bay View Neighborhood Association. And I will be at South Shore Park this weekend for the farmers market. This is literally in my back yard. And yes, it steams me. I'll be talking to Sup. Chris Larson about this, hopefully tongiht at Drinking Liberally.

  4. Dad,

    You righties love your tired, old talking points, even when they have no validity, don't you now. If you were actually aware of what was going on instead of sucking pablum, you would have realized that most of them that got that deal is gone, along with the bills.

    The pension deal did suck something fierce, but it is all but dead and done. Walker can't use that crutch anymore. The failings are totally his now.

  5. It is one thing to veto a tax raise but what he is vetoing here is simply asking the citizens what we want. So quite clearly Walker is saying he doesn't care what the citizens want.