Issue of the Week: Complex Answers for O’Donnell Parking Structure
Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week
This sort of comes as a
surprise, but not really. The safety of the structure had been a concern even
before it was opened to the public in 1991. But the county also failed to keep
a close eye on it through the years. County leadership can’t keep deferring
maintenance, and yet the last assessment was in 2006, when—you guessed it—an outside
contractor found cracking throughout the building. Although the county protests
that O’Donnell’s repairs were up to date, the tragedy in June shows that
something was amiss. Keep in mind that the county does not have a regular
inspection schedule and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker cut the
$150,000 for inspections back in 2008, then vetoed it when the supervisors
added it to his budget. There was simply no oversight of the building. The
county even got rid of employees at the attendants’ booth, preferring to have
an automated booth instead.
It’s easy to turn this
tragedy into a political issue, since Walker
is the Republican candidate for governor. But it’s really a management issue,
since the county is responsible for properly maintaining an unmanned building
that it owns.
Hero of the Week
Community organizer and
tireless activist Dismas Becker died Sunday. He was 74.
A compatriot of Milwaukee civil rights
leader Father James Groppi, Becker, then a Catholic priest himself, branched
out from the Groppi-led open housing marches of the late 1960s to found a local
affiliate of the National Welfare Rights Organization.
“It was in the welfare
rights movement that Dismas found his own voice,” said Peggy Kendrigan, who
worked with Becker.
That was also where he
met his wife-to-be, E. Fay Anderson, with whom he shared the rest of his life.
As ’60s-style activism declined,
Becker carried his social change message to the electoral arena, winning a seat
in the state Assembly in 1977. His fellow Democrats elected him majority leader
Working in his later
years with his inner-city community, his near-North Side neighborhood church
(St. Michael's) and his family (as stepfather to Anderson’s four children and
to another they adopted nine years ago), he came to believe in change at a more
personal or “microscopic” level, while still “reaching for more,” not just for
what can easily be achieved.
Jerk of the Week
Calumet County DA
It’s bad enough that
Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz sent sexually explicit text
messages to a woman whose ex-boyfriend he was prosecuting for domestic
violence. Making matters worse is that Kratz can’t even take responsibility for
what his fellow district attorneys have called “repugnant” behavior. Instead of
doing the right thing and resigning, Kratz has decided to take “medical leave.”
We agree with the statement from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic
Violence and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which reads: “Sexually
harassing a vulnerable victim is the result of a serious lack of integrity, not
a medical condition.” The groups are calling on the governor and the state
attorney general to remove him from office.
Event of the Week
‘The Art of Food’ Benefit for WiSE
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast (WiSE) will host “The Art of Food,” a benefit evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine, music, sculptures, nature and art at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in River Hills. Grammy-winning Thirza Defoe will perform and Localicious will provide food sourced from local farmers and artisans. Tickets: $50 Slow Food members; $65 non-members; $70 at the door. For more information, go to www.slowfoodwise.org.