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Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

Issue of the Week: Scott Walker’s Criminal County Budget

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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Once again, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has proposed a technically illegal budget that only balances in his fantasies. Last year, Walker’s budget included $32 million in employee wage and benefits concessions that had never been negotiated with the county’s unions. The 2010 budget still hasn’t been resolved, many county workers have been forced to take 26 unpaid furlough days, and the county is still looking at a $7 million deficit.

This year, the amount of Walker’s proposed employee concessions has grown to $45 million. Why? Well, the budget can’t be balanced without it, and according to state law, the county cannot run a deficit. Plus, while on his never-ending campaign trail, Walker had promised to cut the county’s tax levy by $1 million. So that’s why the employee giveback amount isn’t $43 million or $44 million (let alone an amount remotely resembling something responsible and achievable). The $45 million is purely a political number and—once again—his budget is nothing but a press release for his gubernatorial campaign.

Milwaukee County voters are used to Walker’s budget tricks, war on workers and phantom savings. But state voters should take a long look at Walker’s record on the county budget—and his dishonest 2011 budget—as an indicator of how he’d handle the state’s finances. Walker is all spin, no substance.

Hero of the Week

MPD Officer Latunya Meredith

Like all of her colleagues in the Milwaukee Police Department, officer Latunya Meredith puts her life on the line to enforce the law and protect the citizenry. Like many of her colleagues, she also gives generously of her free time to improve the lives of others.

When not in uniform, Meredith volunteers at Nia Imani Family Inc., a nonprofit that helps women transition from homelessness to safe, productive lives. Meredith worked to establish a book club at Nia Imani as a way to help residents work toward their GEDs and gain confidence to find employment as they transition out of the center.

Founded in 1994 by Executive Director Belinda Pittman, who saw a need to help homeless and at-risk mothers, Nia Imani is unique among transitional homes in that it allows women to reside with their children. A small staff and nearly 50 volunteers offer life skills and jobs training programs, including AODA counseling, financial management courses and parenting techniques.

Readers who wish to help are urged to call Nia Imani at 414-933-1633 or visit www.niaimanifamily.org.



Jerk of the Week

U.S. Senate Candidate Ron Johnson

Multimillionaire plastics manufacturer Ron Johnson, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, proved yet again that he believes that the pursuit and protection of the Almighty Dollar is more important than anything—even the pursuit of justice. While it’s been known that Johnson opposed the Child Victims Act, which would have lifted the statute of limitations for civil causes of action on child sex abuse crimes and provided a window of opportunity for past victims to sue their abuser, the release last week of Johnson’s full, scripted testimony in front of a legislative committee still shocks. “I believe it is a valid question to ask whether the employer of a perpetrator should also be severely damaged, or possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice,” Johnson argued.

What thinking, feeling, compassionate person could argue that a victim should be denied their day in court just because it could cause financial damage? Especially since so often the “employer,” as Johnson put it, has engaged in a decades-long cover-up, and those horrendous crimes were committed against innocent children? Johnson may think that his call for more “transparency” by the Green Bay Diocese about its predatory priests will right those wrongs, but victims must be allowed to seek justice in the courts. It’s the right thing to do.