By Johnny L. Thomas, Milwaukee County Supervisor, 18th District
Last week, Scott Walker took Mayor Tom Barrett to task after news came that Milwaukee is now ranked as the fourth-poorest city in the nation.
The numbers ARE bad, but for Scott Walker, who has risen to power by neglecting Milwaukee’s poorest, this is shameful. His neglect of the African American community, whether it be with jobs programs, cuts to transit, cuts to vital relief services or his animosity toward jobs-creation programs, is catching up with him.
But first things first: Let’s understand what Scott Walker’s responsibilities are. It is the county, not the city, that is supposed to administer state programs to aid the poorest in our community.
In fact, in recent years, the childcare, medical assistance and food stamp programs that he administered were floundering. We all remember Scott Walker’s disastrous call center experiment, in which 95 percent of calls didn’t get through. Things got so bad the state had to take things over.
It’s a pattern that’s repeating itself at the mental health center, which serves Milwaukee County’s most at-risk population. There have been cases of starvation, preventable drug overdoses and rape, but Scott Walker sat idly by.
But the biggest affront to the African American community, and to the very poor in Milwaukee, is Walker’s outright indifference to creating goodpaying jobs, which are the best social programs around. Walker actually de-funded his own economic development department in 2008, at the start of the Recession. While people all over the region were being laid off, Scott Walker eliminated the department in charge of creating jobs.
Unfortunately for the people of Milwaukee County, it seems that Scott Walker is more concerned with his own campaign than the well-being of the poorest folks in our community. Despite these setbacks, I will continue my work as a County Supervisor to right these wrongs. I will do everything I can to prioritize jobs in the 2011 budget, because if people can’t find jobs, this downward spiral will continue.