Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Walker Admits His Leadership Needs Reform

Unsurprisingly, Scott Walker has been assailed by all sides for his failure to protect our most vulnerable citizens, the mentally ill.

Through a series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other reports, we have learned that Walker has created a disaster at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. These issues include:
  • Scores of sexual assaults to occur, of which at least one led to a pregnancy
  • A doctor who was the treating physician of a patient who was allowed to starve to death was left on staff for four years
  • A severe shortage of staff creating an unsafe environment for patients and staff alike
  • Nearly $15 million in deferred maintenance which led the physical building to be described as "shoddy"
In response to having his multiple failures pointed out, Walker came out with this ad:

I have to hand it to Walker. He has taken hypocrisy to a whole new level that I did not think even he could.

He correctly describes the situation as a community problem, but fails to admit his responsibility in creating the problems. He then states that he finds it "unacceptable" if only one person falls through the cracks. And as the topper to it all, he attacks his opponent, Tom Barrett, for playing politics with the mentally ill.

Gosh, where to start...

It was Walker who had repeatedly cut services and staffing at the mental health complex each year of his administration. He continued to duo so even after being warned for years that the staffing shortage was becoming critical and that it was causing unsafe conditions for patients and staff alike.

It was Walker who refused not only eliminated the secure wards that had been at the complex, and then refused to even entertain the notion of reinstating one despite the recommendations of the Director of Psychology.

It was Walker who decided to so drastically reduce the maintenance budget that there was insufficient funding, material or man power to keep the facility from getting into such a state of disrepair that it was described by inspectors as being in "shoddy condition" and would cost up to $15 million to bring it up to snuff.

It should also be noted that it was not just one patient falling through the cracks, but dozens of patients being shoved off the edge, all because Walker wanted to promote his own ideology and his political aspirations.

Walker allowed these problems to go on for years and even worked to exasperate the problems, so how unacceptable could he have found it all?

To his credit, Walker has just announced that he will raise the funding levels for the mental health complex, hire more staff, and increase the security. Unfortunately, the amount he is adding might not be enough to deal with all of the problems that he has allowed to arise out there.

What is really shameful is that it took all of this public attention and outrage, during a big election year, before Walker thought it fit to start reversing the damage he had created. But then again, we went through the same thing four years ago, during Walker's first unsuccessful run for governor, when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a whole series of articles about the horrible, and sometimes fatal, housing conditions that the mentally ill have to contend with in the community. Even then, he had to reach out for help from Tom Barrett and the City of Milwaukee to help fix the problems he had created.

Which brings us to the one thing I fully agree with Walker on. The leadership, or lack thereof, which he has displayed for the past eight years is in desperate need of reform.

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