Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stark Contrasts Regarding Help For The Homeless

The nation is facing a grave economic crisis. Unemployment is hovering around 10%, and is expected to get worse before it gets better. People are losing their homes at a record pace. People find themselves homeless almost overnight.

It is rather revealing on how our elected officials, and wannabe elected officials, are responding to this crisis.

Governor Jim Doyle, who is expected to run again, just announced today that a large amount of stimulus money will be given to private agencies to help the homeless:
Governor Jim Doyle today announced awards totaling $6,395,897 to 88 organizations across Wisconsin for emergency shelter, homeless prevention, transitional housing and supportive service programs. Wisconsin Department of Commerce Secretary Richard J. Leinenkugel presented the awards on behalf of the Governor at the Wisconsin Conference on Homelessness in Middleton.

“These funds will help local agencies provide direct services to homeless persons and also help prevent people from becoming homeless,” Governor Doyle said. “During these tough economic times, it is especially vital that we come together to help one another and make this state a great place to live for all.”
Compare this to Scott Walker's response to the homeless situation, in which he does his best Marie Antoinette impersonation:
The county's Health and Human Services budget request would eliminate $1 million for homeless shelters, $2.4 million for elderly and disabled programs, $721,000 from programs for delinquents and nearly $300,000 from a burial program for low-income families.
As Dan Cody eloquently and accurately points out, Walker's attitude to the poor and the homeless "isn't just wrong, it's immoral."

It also highlights Walker's lack of leadership and vision when he not only refused to apply for stimulus dollars, but actively tried to sabotage the County Board's efforts to get some of the funding.

Mark Neumann, who just formally announced his candidacy a few weeks ago, has been mum so far on the subject. (In fact, I haven't heard of Neumann doing much of anything but issuing his daily "Good morning" tweet.)

Mark Todd, the undercovered Republican candidate in the gubernatorial race, shows the most sense and intelligence of the three:

Appleton businessman Mark Todd, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, also thinks the state should be more concerned about the problem. Last week, Todd was on Madison’s “Sly in the Morning” show on WTDY-AM talking about how he grew concerned about the problem after hearing of the June death of Dwayne Benjamin Warren outside the Capitol. Todd has since struck up friendships with some homeless men in downtown Madison.

“For me to be a leader of all I need to be a servant of all…I can help be a voice for a people that are in pain there right outside the Capitol,” Todd said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. “You don’t understand their problems until you get to know them.”

It is rather telling that the long shot Republican candidate is the only one worth the time paying any attention to. Perhaps that is just another reason why the Republicans have been on such a steep slide from power for the past several years.

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