Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Barrett Vulnerable, Says Governing Mag

At least the headline says so. But the story is, well, a different story.

By - Jan 20th, 2016 02:06 pm
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Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

“Milwaukee’s Problems Leave Longtime Mayor Vulnerable,” says the headline in a Governing magazine story.

It’s followed by this sub-headline: “Most of the city’s problems, the mayor argues, are out of his control. Will voters blame and oust him anyways?”

Sounds ominous, but the story doesn’t deliver. It notes that Mayor Tom Barrett is being challenged by Bob Donovan and Joe Davis, but quotes political consultant Thad Nation, who says, “I don’t think anybody here sees them as very serious challengers.”

It notes that homicide is up and poverty high in the city, but quotes my story in Urban Milwaukee noting that “Year by year, in an incremental fashion, the Barrett administration has been steadily working and generally succeeding at making this a better city.”

The story did offer one interesting factoid: A 2014 Brookings Institution study which showed that income inequality grew more in Milwaukee than in all but five other large U.S. cities from 2007 to 2012. The study, however, shows that even with this negative growth Milwaukee is not among the top ten cities with the most inequality. (I’d love to tell you the city’s exact rank among the top 50 cities but Brookings offers doesn’t offer a complete list.)

Governing also quotes Dave Seager, president of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association, to the effect that Barrett has cut the fire budget 12 straight years. But has there been any negative impact on the city’s fire fighting ability?

Finally, the story quotes UW-Milwaukee political science professor Mordecai Lee who says he thinks Barrett would “have to be given a passing grade — even by his opponents.”

Depends on which opponents. Just look at the negative comments from conservatives dumping on the city’s leadership in stories we run. The city’s haters — and the Barrett bashers — aren’t hard to find.

9 thoughts on “Back in the News: Barrett Vulnerable, Says Governing Mag”

  1. Ryan N says:

    He’ll win with about 60-65% of the vote. Demographics point to it. Anyone who doesn’t want to believe that and thinks Donovan will win are going to have a little surprise come early April.

  2. Marcel says:

    vote James Methu

  3. beer baron says:

    Only thing I don’t like about Barrett was fighting the police and firefighters in moving out of the city. If they moved out, those unions would lose all power and cavemen like Bob Donovan and Mark Borkowski would be swept into the dustbins of history and we could really double down on making this a world-class city.

  4. Perhaps we might want to ask why the Fire and Police Unions are so dominated by the right wing? This is not the case in every city, it is not an inevitable consequence of cultural divisions. Mayor Barrett’s attempt to straddle the middle just make him a target for both sides.

  5. AG says:

    Yeah Beer Baron, get these solidly middle and even upper middle class wage earners out of our city! That’ll show ’em!

  6. Ted Chisholm says:

    I honestly can’t see any contingency where the mayor takes less than 65-70% of the vote. The voting population does change from November to April, but the city is always solidly Democratic and fairly liberal. Donovan might take an aldermanic district or two (his own and maybe Borkowski’s), but not much more. History is in Barrett’s favor, as well; no elected incumbent mayor has been unseated in 76 years.

  7. Bill Kurtz says:

    Unfortunately, Beer Baron, the MPA and the firefighters have found a way to have their cake and eat it too. Their members can move out to redneck paradise, but as long as they’re plugged in with Republicans at the state level their power is still there. Anytime the city tries anything they don’t like, they just run crying to Madison and get bailed out.

  8. RMH says:

    Every city I’ve ever lived in the fire fighters and especially the police unions have been right wing.

  9. Patrick Case says:

    I, Patrick W. Case, am Running as a Write-In Candidate for the Mayors position. As a 20 + year City of Milwaukee Employee, I will listen to the Citizens who care about the City they live in. I will make all of the City legislators accountable to the Citizens. I will listen to these people and remember the one important thing every Council member forgets. The Voters and Citizens are My/Our bosses. This is MY Platform !

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