Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy (not really) city budget proposal day

Mayor Barrett presents his proposed 2008 budget to the Common Council today. He's got to do this, but all that he is putting forward is a guesstimate of a budget, since the state budget issue isn't resolved.

Barrett will fund more cops, even though we keep adding cops and it doesn't seem to make much of a difference and the cops aren't really accountable for spending their money wisely or well. He will propose fewer firefighters on trucks, and the firefighters' union will pitch a fit.

Libraries, streets, Health Department -- something important is going to be on the chopping block so we can devote ever-more money to cops who will arrest more people and take them to an overcrowded County Jail where the jailers will have to release some people to ease overcrowding. We will have more cops, but no more room to hold alleged criminals so all those extra cops will NOT result in more criminals off the street. The returns on hiring more cops already have diminished to about zero -- is this really worth starving libraries and not repairing streets?

Whatever happens today won't be as ugly as what happens Thursday, when County Executive Scott Walker presents his guesstimate of a budget that deliberately makes unacceptable cuts to crucial county services so he can force the County Board to do his job and preserve some of those services and then blame the supervisors for doing it.


John Barmore said...

Well, I would like to think I'm more thoughtful than "pitching a fit", but here goes- cutting our neighborhood ladder truck staffing from 5 to 4 means you have one team of three to search and do other jobs at a fire (driver operates rig) with 5 you have two teams of two, if the citzens want more police officers in evey School instead of neighborhood firefighters so be it but it is a real loss. I don't know if they will find other ways to cut Libraries but I did see in the proposed budget that they were increasing by half an hour per day. I wish no one department had to take a cut but cutting the fire depertment that has been cut every year sinse September 11, 2001 does't make sense to me. To a person on the fire Dept. I hear no one complaining about their job, health insurance, pay, or working conditions- they love their job and appreciate the oportunty to serve Milwaukeeans, they just don't want the person next to them to lose their job making it more unsafe for everyone.Fitfully yours, John

capper said...

I concur. As a citizen of both the City and the County of Milwaukee, I dread Walker's upcoming attack on his constituents by a far, far greater degree.

Gretchen Schuldt said...

Sorry, John -- didn't mean the term "pitching a fit" to denigrate firefighters' concerns. They are legitimate and worthy of debate. I think pitching fits in pursuit of worthy goals is perfectly acceptable.

ΕΡΜΕΣ said...

well put Gretchen, and John.
as a Milwaukee resident and one who works specifically in high-crime, low-income areas, even I don't want to see more cops because that will only exacerbate the problem of overzealous incarceration and neighborhood malaise due to police oppression. the ONLY way this budget shouldn't be laughed out of town would be if there were explicit measurable benchmarks in crime reduction; in other words, I want to see PROOF that adding officers will do anyone any good, AND that the amount of good will offset the amount of bad we get from reduced fire fighters and libraries etc.