Barrett Vulnerable, Says Governing Mag
At least the headline says so. But the story is, well, a different story.
“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.