By Senator Lena C. Taylor
The unintended consequences of COVID-19 are hitting U.S. businesses, families and the nation’s health systems like a Mack Truck. Plowing through fragile healthcare infrastructures and devastating business norms and routines, the ensuing damage will be all encompassing. However, we can make common sense decisions to minimize the fallout. Getting our head around everything we need to do can be overwhelming. Therefore, when we see other initiatives that make sense, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Mirroring measures being instituted around the nation, it’s time Milwaukee join other cities looking to financially minimize harm to residents during this public health crisis. In neighboring Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced that debt collection and citations for things like parking violations have been temporarily suspended. Obviously, we don’t want traffic and street access impeded, but we can make common sense decisions about if and when a ticket should be issued.
As businesses close and residents are increasingly staying home, we know that money will be an issue for some. We have the ability to suspend towing of vehicles with three or more citations until we get a grasp on the financial fallout from COVID-19.
We know that many residents will be parking their cars all day due to telework situations, layoffs or business closings. Some neighborhoods have two-hour parking during the day. We can suspend enforcement of those rules. Similar to Chicago, we could delay assessment of penalties (ticket doubling) and adopt other measures that could reduce the financial hardship of city residents during this period.
Milwaukee should suspend non-essential towing and debt collection. We should be partnering with the state to contemplate a 30-day moratorium on license plates and driver’s licenses expirations and renewals. We don’t know what the ability will be to get vehicle emissions testing or timely plate renewals. Many of these operations are contingent on staffing and businesses remaining open. Not understanding the full operating capacity of state offices during COVID-19, these are additional unintended circumstances we need to consider.
Bottom line, we’ve had to rethink our entire way of life. Whether religious services, public dining, or daycare capacity, everyone is being asked to do things differently to avoid community spread. Yet, we know that we have to think about the financial toll COVID-19 is going to take on us all. The City of Milwaukee is in a better position to rebound after this public health crisis than the average resident.