Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Hearing Was He At?

Steve Schultze, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, had a little blurb about the first day of hearings as the Milwaukee County Board starts to parse out and try to salvage Walker's budget proposal.

I don't know what hearing Mr. Schultze was at or if he had his article seriously pared from the editorial staff or what, but he is credited for writing is way off the mark and extremely fort of information.

Mr. Schultze fails to report the outrage that the county board expressed when they discussed how Walker wants to do away with the Department of Economic Development and tuck those duties away to underlings in other departments where he hopes to get away with more shenanigans without it being so overt.

He also failed to talk about the senior citizens that challenged the proposal to close the Granville Senior Center. Interestingly enough, the seniors group reported that Mayor Tom Barrett would be going out there today to see if the building is indeed in such poor condition that the County is reporting. I'm willing to bet that it's not.

Mr. Schultze also failed to write about how Walker's budget is pinning a lot of hope on the State of Wisconsin approving Milwaukee County's bid for Family Care, and that there is no contingency plan in place for this event, even though the Director of the Department of Aging, Stephanie Sue Stein, said that there are indications that the State is leaning going to a private agency for most of these services.

Nor was there any report on how union representative presented documentation showing that Walker's no tax increase talking point is not realistic, and that when compared to his first budget, this budget proposal contains a 14% increase in the tax levy. And this is not to mention that Walker increased his office's budget by 18%, while covering up the deficit.

The union officials also presented that the Behavioral Health Division has been contracting out services for computer programming to help their billing department. Despite paying the company $2.1 million dollars a year, they have not resolved problems that have been an issues since at least 2001. Now Walker wants to increase their pay by another $1.4 million dollars a year to do the whole thing. While Walker claims that this would save $277,000, if the IT company did their job, it would have saved millions of dollars a year.

While Mr. Schultze was correct that mental advocates were present and spoke, their focus was on preserving and maybe increasing the amount of services, regardless who was providing it. The only exception was the director of Transitional Living Services, who is vying to be at the governmental trough. But then again, this guy also thought the idea of moving BHD to the old St. Michael's Hospital is a good idea, which shows where he is coming from.

Nor was it reported by the paper that there was documentation submitted to the board that the public sector had a higher success rate in helping the mentally ill, thereby saving more money that would have been spent on institutionalization, including prisons.

Also not mentioned was that when the states of Texas(pdf) and Indiana tried to privatize their Economic Support Divisions, as Walker is proposing to do, they ended up in abject failure. It cost taxpayers a lot more money cleaning up the mess than would have been saved.

Fortunately for us, the County Board saw through Walker's smoke and mirrors and gimmickry, and voted to postpone a vote on these parts of the budget until more information and accurate information have been presented by Walker's people.

All of Walker's shenanigans should outrage people, liberal or conservative. They should some kind of rally or something.

Oh yeah, that's right, they already are.

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