In Search of An Agenda

By - Dec 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By John Hughes

In recent months, Vital Source has been asking what we feel are four pertinent questions of nine candidates for Mayor of Milwaukee. Readers have had a chance to get a sense of the field, and the widely divergent styles and orientations of the would-be mayors. As the election now draws within just a few short months, and interest in the future of Milwaukee intensifies, we complete our survey with the same four questions, this time posed to mayoral candidate Leon Todd. Vital Source attempted to contact outgoing Milwaukee Police Chief Arthur Jones, but he declined to respond.

Mr. Todd, a member of the Greater Milwaukee Green Party, has served on the Milwaukee School Board for a total of 12 years. He was Director of Public and Community Relations at Northwest General Hospital in Milwaukee, and Director of Sales and Marketing at the Rexnord Corporation’s Data Systems Division. He is also a former MPS School Board member. Holder of two Master’s degrees and one Post-Master’s degree in Urban Education, Mr. Todd is married, and the father of four grown children. He joins Tom Barrett, Vincent Bobot, David Clarke, Frank Cumberbatch, Sandy Folaron, Martin Matson, Tom Nardelli, John Pitta, and Marvin Pratt on the list of people whose thoughts have graced our pages. Mr. Todd answered our questions, and offered eleven additional pages of thoughts on a wide range of subjects.

1. What specific steps will you take to make the police chief more accountable to the people of Milwaukee?

Eliminate the Police and Fire Commission and have the Police Chief report directly to the mayor. The Police and Fire Commission serve the political purpose of buffering the mayor from public accountability for the actions of the Police Chief. We must take the Harry Truman “The Buck Stops Here” [here being the mayor’s office] approach to Police Department accountability. The mayor must work with the Police Chief and not scapegoat that person and the crime issue for the mayor’s own political advantage.

2. To what extent is racism an ongoing issue in this city? How will you address it?

It is a big issue. Just ask those races and ethnic groups who carry a 60-70 percent unemployment rate in the city. Just look at Wisconsin’s number one standing in the rate of incarceration of African Americans. Just look at the color of those who are doing the construction work on Capitol Drive and then look at the color of the majority of the residents, despite all of the hollow talk about Community Benefits Agreements. A lot of racism is generated from city hall when politicians play the race card for their self-serving politics. Race card politics governs a lot of public policy from city hall and has to stop. My wife and I are an interracial couple and as such we are stakeholders in leading this city to color blind stature. We have four interracial children, all of whom are successful products of MPS.

3. Is that algae or sewage causing that unbearable stench coming out of Lake Michigan? What’s going on at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewage District, and what specific steps will you take to rectify the situation?

It is both, algae and sewage; algae feeds on a lot of the untreated sewage. We’re going to have to stop the MMSD dumping and re-engineer the deep tunnel back to some of the original proposal concepts for a workable deep tunnel. A mature urban environment produces a lot of toxic runoff that must be guided into the proper drainage channels and appropriately treated. We must invest in our infrastructure. We must return more of MMSD dollars to pay for adequate sewerage disposal. We cannot afford to compromise the critical flows in proper sewerage elimination by grabbing MMSD dollars for red ink management of city hall.

4. All the candidates promise that they will work hard to help make Milwaukee great, earn our trust, et cetera. How would your term as Mayor be different from that of your opponents?

I have four goals: to restore clean government; to run clean Elections; to produce a clean environment, and to clean up the criminal justice system. Eugene Kane called me the Maverick Candidate; Bruce Murphy, in a cover story for The Paper, called me the Community Agitator and in the Gary George recall I was noted as a Recall Activist. I oppose Tom Barrett’s plantation politics of the takeover of MPS by the mayor’s office, as I publicly opposed the concept as Plantation Politics of Tommy Thompson when I was on the MPS school board. Mayoral tampering is the reason public education is failing today.

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