Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another MJS FAIL And An Even Bigger Walker FAIL

Steve Schultze, who has been less than stellar in his reporting on the county budget process, again blows it today.

On JSOnline, he reports on Walker's sharpening on the axe:

Milwaukee County must lay off about 150 to 200 employees to avoid a 2009 year-end shortfall now projected at nearly $3 million, County Executive Scott Walker said Wednesday.

It will take some time to develop a plan to determine which employees will be laid off, Walker said.

The layoffs became necessary following a new tally that showed sales tax receipts lower than anticipated over the summer and a lower-than-expected state Medicaid reimbursement, Walker said.

Most county employees must take four furlough days before the end of the year, saving an estimated $1.6 million. Nonetheless, the county budget still has a $3 million hole, he said.

Walker said other, smaller steps were also being taken to tighten county spending further, including purchasing restrictions.

The county also faces a potential $80 million shortfall for 2010 that Walker has proposed filling through employee concessions and outsourcing.

There are more than a few problems with this short story, and hopefully, as I write this, he is working on fleshing it out and telling the truth of the matter.

First and foremost, Walker does know where the lay offs are going to be. His staffers admitted as much. One of them said that the lists were drawn up yesterday. Furthermore, on Facebook, Supervisor Peggy West stated that the pink slips go out tomorrow.

But even that aside, there are several questions a good reporter would and should have asked:
  • How is laying off 200 workers in the final six weeks of the year going to save $3 million dollars in six weeks? Especially when one considers the other costs that come with it, like unemployment and the possible lawsuit (remember the bad faith bargaining)
  • Why didn't Walker and his staff plan for this when they knew over a year ago that the economy was in a shambles (due to the same type of economic policy he espouses, nonetheless!)?
  • Where are the lay offs going to happen? Walker can do it one of two ways. He can either do it across the board, endangering many programs, or he can just do it in one area, like closing the parks. (I personally think that he will do the former, since it would make the damage less obvious. That said, if he does do this, I could see the state coming in and taking over other programs, like Adult services or the Department of Aging. There just aren't enough workers left that he can cut without severely crippling services.)
  • Why is he only targeting workers and not management, or any of his staff? Isn't that a bit hypocritical? Besides, if he lays off, say Tim Russell, that would be worth two or three workers. Isn't that a much better trade off, economically speaking?
But then again, why should we expect the truth about Walker from a paper whose head honcho is squarely in Walker's camp?

ADDENDUM: Schultze did indeed flesh out the story. However, more problems arise:
  • Walker now admits that the pink slips will go out by Friday. Schultze never asks why he lied about the timeline.
  • As I said, he said that he will spread them to try to hide the damage.
  • Still no question as to Walker's inept management
  • Walker tries to state that the lay offs could have been avoided if the unions accepted the reduced work hours. Schultze didn't ask about the illegality of what Walker wanted, or the loss of revenue related to the reduced hours and/or furloughs.
  • Does anyone really believe the lay offs will be "temporary"?
And how is Walker's myopia and megalomania going to help Milwaukee County which already has one of the fastest growing rates of unemployment?


  1. Your arguments astound me.

    Walker should have planned for this. Had he tried, by cutting staff, the only real option available, you, your union and the Board would have howled and sued. Hell he holds positions vacant to save money in reaction to the situation and you complain.

    When the economic downturn and resulting effects on the County's bottom line became obvious in the spring, he tried to take action, you, your union, and Board howled and sued.

    Oblivious to the economic reality and the County's fiscal reality, or selfish enough to demand that other County employees bare the brunt, you and your supporters on the Board demand a no layoff clause, which would require the County to offset the cost of maintaining those positions by cutting other areas (which you oppose), raising fees (which you oppose), or raising taxes (apparently the only option you support).

    Your lack of understanding, or acceptance, or simple self-interest, is thoroughly amazing. If you ran the County our taxes would be sky-high and yet we'd still be bankrupt in about 6 hours.

  2. A very good post. Capper, do you have a reply?

  3. They're all right here:

    A few months ago you were claiming a deficit the same size as the one you have now wasn't reason for 35 hour work weeks. Had you chosen then to accept fiscal reality and sacrifice for the good of the organization, you and your fellow employees would not be in this situation.

    Instead you made it about Walker and your own self-interest, claiming anything he and his staff told you was a lie and not worth doing anything about. Now that something has to be done about it, you and the Board engage in cognitive dissonance and claim you were never told and it's all his fault. But never mind, you guys can throw the younger employees under the bus and not have to take a pay cut.

    You and people like you deserve a good chunk of the blame for this situation. You can obfuscate and deflect and blame Walker for fiscal problems you wouldn't even understand if you accepted them, it doesn't change the facts.

    Deal with it.

  4. I have a few things to do, but I do have a response for this, since I bothered to find out the truth.

    Of course, that means you won't like it much.

  5. every move skippy makes is about his campaign.someday you will see him for what he size and compensation have grown without anyone questioning why or how much,but only the modestly paid workers are singled out for layoff.funny how that works but thats o. k. you all are blinded by his and talk radio's bull----.

  6. The plot thickens today...the layoffs aren't the result of the old deficit which the board corrected with a furlough plan; this one results from a series of math errors by the Walker Administration that they didn't admit to until today - after the layoff notices started going out. Best of all, the dutiful department heads fell on their swords one by one. Where was the Emperor with no clothes? He was feasting at a breakfast fundraiser in his honor over in the Dells for a mere $200. By the way, is he still getting paid when he takes off to campaign while his staffers oversee firing people because of his administrative ineptitude?