Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Republican Dog & Pony Show

Legislators Vos and Darling tour city but offer no solutions. So why did they come?

By - Aug 22nd, 2013 01:47 pm

It’s generally a good idea when legislators from outside Milwaukee drop by to tour the state’s largest city. You hope they will come away with a better understanding of the city’s needs.

Sen. Alberta Darling

Sen. Alberta Darling

But Tuesday’s tour of Ald. Bob Donovan’s aldermanic district by state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), had the feel of politicians posing for holy pictures.

Vos lives in the tiny village of Rochester, population 3,682, whose website boasts of a “unique small town charm that mixes urban, farming and country life styles.” It’s located 23 miles from downtown Racine. His perspective on the issues isn’t exactly urban. Darling lives in River Hills but is far more familiar with the city. In the course of their neighborhood tour, we learned they are concerned about crime in Milwaukee — but have no solutions to offer.

Mayor Tom Barrett had called on the state to provide funding for more police officers to help combat crime in Milwaukee. But Darling let it be known that people are not interested in “just throwing money” at the problem of crime. “What’s needed here is an overall plan to make a difference.”

Darling is talking about a police chief, Ed Flynn, who is considered a national leader in policing strategies, and in his tenure here has managed to slash police overtime costs while using pro-active, data-driven deployment of police to improve law enforcement and reduce crime — and this during a period when the economy was is decline and resulting social problems were on the rise. He would probably be the first to concede the department can still do better, but what precisely is Darling suggesting is lacking in Flynn’s approach? What kind of plan is needed? Alas, she did not respond to my email asking this question.

Vos, the Journal Sentinel reported, credited Barrett for trying to boost the police force with city funding, but said the mayor should not count on further state assistance. Vos also complained about Barrett showing up to join their tour of the neighborhood, suggesting the mayor seems ready to show up wherever there is a camera. Of course, Vos and Darling had drawn the cameras there with a tour intended to show their concern about crime in Milwaukee.

Darling offered perhaps the most preposterous comment of the day in response to Ald. Michael Murphy’s request that the legislature extend Act 10 to police and firefighters, whose salaries and benefits account for most of the city’s tax levy. She urged police and fire fighters to voluntarily contribute more to their pensions. That, I think it’s safe to say, will happen when pigs fly.

Gov. Scott Walker has previously offered sympathy to Barrett’s call for state funding of police, but suggested the city must decide how to apply its savings from Act 10, the law eliminating union bargaining rights and reducing their benefits.

That brought a response from uber-wonk Mark Nicolini, the city’s budget director, who says that on balance the city has lost money under Walker. His statistics show the city saved $14 million so far from benefits cuts and $1 million from reductions in overtime costs allowed by Act 10 and saved another $5 million from a separate law that allowed some leeway to change the health care plan design for police and fire fighters. That’s $20 million in savings.

Meanwhile, Nicolini notes, the state cut shared revenue to the city by $13.7 million, cut $1.1 million in recycling grants, and about $650,000 in various police-oriented funding. In addition, he says, the cost of the police/fire contracts rose by an additional $7.7 million during this period because they were exempted from Act 10. All of that wipes out the savings from Act 10.

This does not include the impact of ending residency in Milwaukee, which will add legal costs to fight this in the courts, and if the city loses (which is likely), will greatly lower the property tax base as many police and fire fighters move from the city. All told, the state budget has been far more concerned about Milwaukee’s police and fire unions than the city itself.

Journal Sentinel Downplays Global Warming Again

On Monday, the New York Times reported that an international panel of scientists “has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades.” The findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report. The story rose to second place on the Times lists of most popular, most commented and most emailed stories, showing its high interest for readers.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which picks and chooses which syndicated stories to run, passed on this one. It did not even merit a two paragraph summary in its “Nation/World” briefings.

To judge by Google News, most newspapers passed on the story, though Bloomberg news, National Geographic, and interestingly, the Voice of America, did report on the draft report.

I’d argue, however, that the Journal Sentinel is a special case, as it has undoubtedly done more coverage of the decline in the water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron than any newspaper in the country, yet continues to downplay the impact of global warming as a contributing factor.

Whats behind these decisions? I emailed the editors asking for their rationale and received no reply.

Categories: Murphy's Law

22 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Republican Dog & Pony Show”

  1. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    They came down here to ask what you, the leaders have for solutions, you have failed badly the last 100 years. i know what their answers are, jail the gun wielding thugs, get them off street. Fix the schools so kids have a chance and quit chasing out businesses.
    The usual program of the Left in Milwaukee: Blame Walker, Blame Bush, Blame guns, Blame Reagan, blame the 1%. We need higher taxes.
    I do not know how the Left sleeps at night knowing that they ahve destroyed the lives of so many Inner City kids in the last 50 years.

  2. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Just think, to solve Global Warming all we have to do is put in this little choo choo train adn ban cars from city and everything will be all right. Oh Yes, build a windmill on top of every Leftwngers house.

  3. Patty says:

    Chief Flynn and others commented that Vos and other officials from outside of Milwaukee don’t know anything about the problems here. So in response, they come down here, walk through a challenged neighborhood along with several residents and business owners and now they get chastised for showing up?
    I think they were pretty clear on their reasons too. Giving Milwaukee a one time lump sum of $500,000 isn’t exactly a plan for public safety. Before they consider the request they want to know what the Mayor and the Chief plan to do to tackle the next possible jump in violent crime. We are short 200 officers. That means that as officers, Lt’s, Sgt’s, etc. left the force for retirement or other reasons, their positions were not filled. 200 times.
    Eventually this comes back to bite you. Your City starts to develop a reputation for escalating violence and businesses begin crossing your City off their list as a possible place to locate or expand. Young couples looking to put down roots and start a family cross your City off their list. Empty-nesters looking for a smaller place with less upkeep cross your condo projects off their list. Public Safety must come first. The jobs will follow once your City is again viewed as safe.
    And these comments are coming from a life-long Democrat. In fact, up until the age of 10 I thought being a Democrat was the law for Irish Catholics!

  4. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Patty you are right. they come down to hear what Bob Donovan has to say and the Leftists bite them.. Fun for them. There is nothing in it for Vos to come here to give Milwaukee money. If they give them $500,000 then they will then say that they really needed 5 million.
    Fact is that seding money to Milwaukee is about as exciting for dems and GOP, from out state, as getting shingles.

  5. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Some of the GOP leaders are amazed that Murphy and other Leftists didn’t sic the dogs on them and then put out release lamenting the fact that the legislators are afraid of animals.

  6. Robert Bauman says:

    Bruce makes good points. Walking several blocks in a single neighborhood followed by a phalanx of reporters will generate few insights on urban crime but will generate a lot of political commentary. If Vos and Darling are sincere, which a reasonable person can certainly question based on past statements and policy decisions, they should sit down with the chief and his command staff to discuss crime issues, the tools available to deal with it, and what, if any, assistance the state can provide with no reporters or TV cameras present. If Vos and Darling have ideas on how MPD can do a better job, this meeting would be the opportunity to discuss these ideas. To date no such meeting has occurred. Meetings of this kind is how serious elected officials tackle problems: get the facts, talk to the professionals, understand the challenges, and work to implement legislative and policy solutions.

    I and other members of the council have met with the chief and the command staff on many occasions not to mention the frequent meetings and communications we have with our district captains regarding problem areas, specific properties, and other neighborhood initiatives. I can say without qualification that we are very lucky to have a very competent and dedicated police chief who is employing national best practices in MPD’s continuing efforts to deter and combat crime, fear and disorder. Inflammatory press releases, media tours and general demagoguery will get your face on TV but will accomplish little else.

  7. Observer says:

    Am I the only one that finds it highly ironic that anyone walking with Bob Donovan points to someone else as someone there for the publicity?

  8. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    All of this will make the legislators from out stte laugh and wonder why they ever bother. Right now they are saying let the whine, Baumann, Barrett, Flynn, blame everyone else but no one up there is going to give nay money to Milwaukee till they grow up and want to solve problems rather than blame someone sle.

  9. Steve says:

    “till they grow up and want to solve problems rather than blame someone esle.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

  10. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Bruce, my deepest thanks for starting this blog. What can be more fun than being able to debate all the losing Lefists in Milwaukee and watch them solve problems. They create problems that they cannot solve. There are re sons that all the growth and jobs are in the Red state.
    How soon will waukesha county have a bigger economy than Milwaukee? Why?

  11. Tom Strini says:

    North Shore Nancy and the Rube go to town, wave for the cameras. No point whatsoever in it except PR, and pretty lame PR at that.

  12. Andy says:

    I like the section about Mark Nicolini reporting that the city lost money under walker because ACT10 doesn’t go far enough. This section implies that the 7.7 million added to the police and firefighters contracts wouldn’t have happened if Walker was not the governor. Looks to me like the city saved 20 million, lost 15.5… and thus is ahead about 4.5 million because of Walker’s policies.

  13. Stacy Moss says:

    “How soon will waukesha county have a bigger economy than Milwaukee? Why?” Dohnal

    Waukesha is MILWAUKEE you silly boy.

    What airport do they use, for example?

  14. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    You are wrong there, they have their own airport and I can tell you that the leaders in Waukesha are much different, a lot smarter they do not have that Leftist bunch that has chased everyone out to Waukesha cty and so that have eclipsed Milwaukee and the Leftist regimes and are growing quite nicely leaving the Left to continue to destroy Milwaukee.
    Milwaukee would become Detroit if it did not have such great people, too bad they are being punished by their leaders.

  15. Tim says:

    Stacy, you make good points but please remember:

    “Never wrestle with a pig—you get dirty and the pig likes it”

  16. patty says:

    I read the letter that the Mayor and the Chief sent to the Governor and nowhere did it mention either a plan, a detailed strategy or a request for a meeting. The two sentence portion of the letter that asked for the additional funding from the State simply said “Further, we have committed an additional $500,000 in overtime funding for the Milwaukee Police Department to employ our targeted policing strategy. We are requesting that the State of Wisconsin match this amount”.

    In my opinion, this should have been treated like a grant application and details should have been offered as to exactly what policing strategies were going to be implemented, the past track record of these strategies and an explanation of why this temporary influx of funds would make a lasting impact on public safety.

    I am in no way putting one “side” on a pedestal and demonizing the other. In fact, that attitude (among the elected officials and voters alike) is what is stagnating progress in this Country on all levels of Government. I may not agree with all the policies put forth by different people in office, but they were elected by the people under a democratic system and this refusal to work together on solutions to common problems by a select number of elected officials on both sides is way out of hand and I’ve been around long enough to know it wasn’t always like this.

  17. Dave K. says:

    Regarding the section on “Journal Sentinel Downplays Global Warming Again”, I had a auto mechanic who once told me the cheapest way to fix a busted muffler was to turn up the radio. If we just ignore the situation, we won’t really have to deal with it – until we really have to deal with it.

    And as for the politics of the situation – who cares. Did man cause it? People disagree if we did or not. Will man have to deal with it – absolutely. If your leg is suddenly removed, it’s a good idea to seal the wound and stop removing more limbs. It doesn’t matter if you were the one to cut the leg off or if someone else did it to you. So let’s stop pouring greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere and knock off the blame game.

  18. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    There is not any proof that CO2 is causing anything but there has been lots of progress in reducing all kinds of pollutants since 1996. Whether that has anything to do with temp is questionable but it does help air. The nutcases want to go out and blow everything on very questionable solutions. if all the Left just stops huffing and puffing so much we will not have a problem.

  19. James J says:

    Again, the modus is to ignore the problems of the inner city unless it involves guns. If those potential problems were addressed earlier in their cycle, before guns were involved, it would be cheaper and would result in less ruined and wrecked lives. Alderman Donovan is very convincing with this propaganda blitz, although to the trained counter-propagandist is a little too polished and media savvy. Sadly, too many Fox-6 tv viewers cannot tell when they are being manipulated.

    Luckily, as Mr. Kochanski showed citizens of Milwaukee, safety from crime can be found independently from our police department. Why do we need those 100 extra officers when we have armed, concerned citizens who will work for nothing to rid the streets of criminals? In a Democracy, the Government is the People. If the People spent more time working on directly and intelligently solving social problems instead of complaining on internet discussion groups then we wouldn’t have politicians like Donovan emceeing elaborate circus productions on city streets.

    Currently, Cabela’s has their Fall Gun Sale so we can spend a small portion of the Mayor’s 2014 Budget Proposal for MPD to arm honest citizens in the inner city and save that extra $4 Million+ for something more useful, like filling potholes or maybe helping the next generation of inner city youth find a future life that doesn’t involve crime.

  20. Stacy Moss says:

    “Never wrestle with a pig—you get dirty and the pig likes it”


    Who said this…. I love it.

  21. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    We have plenty of officers, this is just frosting to propagandize the proletariat. What we have to do is put the violent perps in jail, right along with tthe multiple owis.

  22. Dave K. says:

    James J (#19),

    Our country spends an awful lot of money and effort every year trying to remove weapons from air travel. I know you’re kidding, but If guns really were the answer, then we’d be required to carry them wherever danger might lurk. The TSA would be requiring airline passengers to carry a weapon onto the plane. If guns were the answer, you’d be allowed to take a handgun on the floor of the Wisconsin State Senate. If guns were the answer, you’d be required to carry a gun with you into a tavern.

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