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"Milwaukee County First" is a Partisan Sham

Investigating Milwaukee County First

 

Elections and Liberals

As gubernatorial candidates start to throw their hats into the ring, I anticipate that the media and blogosphere will create somewhat of a political circus.  Politicians will embellish their accomplishments; the media will create stories rather than report them; and local bloggers will ratchet up unfounded personal attacks.  Such is life in the arena of politics, but there are some who go way beyond the realm of appropriateness.

Liberals are very good at creating organizations under the pretense of fighting noble causes, and they use the political machinery of their organization to promote and push a strict liberal ideology.  The National Organization of Women, for example, fights for the rights of women, unless of course you are pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and believe that it's okay to be a stay-at-home mom.  When Sarah Palin and her adolescent daughters were attacked by the media, N.O.W was nowhere to be found.  Another example of liberalism masquerading as noble causes are conglomerate unions.  They fight for the working man, but they are quick to use their funds to champion Democrat causes almost exclusively.  Currently, the AFL-CIO is pushing universal health care despite the costs it will incur on its members.

Chris Liebenthal and Milwaukee County First

Getting to the thesis of my article, a few months ago, local blogger Chris Liebenthal had created himself a non-profit organization called "Milwaukee County First", which he is now using as a leftist tool to propagate unverifiable anti-Walker rubbish.  For some of you who may not know, Liebenthal is a blogger of Cognitive Dissidence, a site nearly devoted to the destruction of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.  In just the past 8 months (from January to August), Liebenthal has written over 208 articles attacking Scott Walker on his blog.  Yes, I said 208 articles.  That is an average of 26 posts a month devoted to just one person.  Can anyone say obsession?  In these blog posts, Liebenthal routinely calls Walker a liar, a weasel, and a phony.  Actually, it's rather interesting that Liebenthal uses the word "phony" to describe Walker since his little  non-profit organization is, well, a phony itself.

Milwaukee County First dubs itself as a grassroots organization trying to stop the decline of Milwaukee County.  Ironically, Milwaukee County is fairing well in the current economic downturn.  It's among the few Wisconsin government entities that consistently show a budget surplus at the end of their fiscal cycles.  Even more interesting is that Milwaukee County First emerged shortly after Scott Walker announced his gubernatorial candidacy.  Coincidence?  Can it be more obvious that Liebenthal is trying to undermine Scott Walker?

Below are a few quotes from Milwaukee County First that concern Scott Walker.  Hopefully this will shed some light on their partisan activity.  Keep in mind that MCF has been publishing content for only two months.

Because of these growing concerns, the County Board repeatedly tried to get a referendum to the voters to see if they would approve of a sales tax increase to save these systems and give the voters relief on their property taxes. But each time, County Executive Scott Walker blocked the people from having the right to express themselves.

Unlike Scott Walker, County Board Supervisors actually come to these to hear what the people want.

Also from Dan Cody, on his personal blog, is a listing of some of the devastating cuts that the parks are facing in the upcoming budget from Scott Walker:

We are not alone in our outrage. Several local bloggers also addressed this issue, including Dan Cody, who appropriately called Walker’s proposals as “downright immoral“

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also reporting that many advocates of the homeless are decrying Walker’s proposals:

MCF commends Supervisor West for her willingness to stand up for Milwaukee County, and to point out that Scott Walker doesn’t.

Scott Walker had first continued to advocate for the dedication of some of the State’s sales tax on new cars be earmarked for Milwaukee County’s transit system. He did this for years, even after it was made clearly known to him that this was not going to happen. Now for the last couple of years, Walker has been pushing for privatization of Mitchell Airport, even though this has been proven to be a bad course of action.

 

A Petition

In Liebenthal's newest scam, he's using his non-profit organization to host a petition site to help save the Milwaukee County's transit, parks, and EMS.  Only one problem.  The transit, parks, and EMS don't need saving.  Let's deal with each of these fictions one at a time starting with transit first.

The State of Milwaukee County Transit

In a recent audit sponsored by the state, an independent consultant concluded that when compared to its peers, the Milwaukee County Transit System consistently delivers more rides for less cost, has the lowest per passenger cost, and has the highest ridership per capita.  Another study conducted by the Reason Foundation concluded that Milwaukee County's transit system "efficient and effective."

To be fair and balanced, however, this does not mean that the transit system is without its problems.  The costs of the transit system have increased significantly in the past 8 years due to decreased state funding (down 5% in 9 years), increased fuel costs (almost doubled last year alone), and rising property taxes which puts additional constraints on transit funding.   These three factors, especially the upsurge fuel costs, can cripple any transit system.  However, recent audits still show that the Milwaukee County transit system is outdoing its competitors in other states even during a time when the entire state is suffering high unemployment and a massive budget deficit.  This is not an area where Walker is vulnerable.

The State of Milwaukee County Parks

Milwaukee County First's mission statement says that county parks are "unkempt and overgrown". Earlier this year, however, the Milwaukee County Parks Department was selected as one of the top four finalists for the 2009 national Gold Medal for Excellence.  The award is based off a 12 minute video and a copy of their master plan, which was submitted to a distinguished panel of experts in parks, recreation, and conservation management. In other words, Milwaukee County Parks is among the top four in the nation to receive such a nomination.  It doesn't sound like the County parks need saving, does it?

The State of Milwaukee County EMS

Also, Milwaukee's EMS has proven to be a beacon of light.  According to a 2008 analysis of EMS services, Milwaukee ranked 2nd in the nation for survival rates after cardiac arrest.  According to Ronald Pirrallo, a doctor and a professor of emergency medicine at the medical college, "these data reflects the fact that Milwaukee County EMS system is a center of excellence."

And as a paramedic, I can speak to the difficulty of reviving a patient after they have gone into cardiac arrest.  It requires good training and a clear skill-set to provide a rapid on-scene assessment, relevant diagnostics, and a concise treatment plan capable of bringing patients back from a pulseless state.  Furthermore, the South Milwaukee Fire Department received an award for their incident management skills involving "flight for life" from the Flight for Life-Wisconsin.  So, it certainly doesn't sound like the County's EMS needs saving either.

Final Thoughts on Milwaukee County First

So how is it that Milwaukee County First is creating a petition site to save the very facets of Milwaukee County that are receiving special recognition and awards for excellence?  The answer is quite simple, the petition is nothing more than a sham in an attempt to use the charitable lure of a non-profit organization to get press during the throws of a campaign season.  As long as Milwaukee County First pretends to be a legitimate organization interested in the welfare of Milwaukee County, I will continue to show just how deceptive liberals are willing to be to get what they want.


Comments (9)
  • dachvid  - 83% correct

    Nice article on Milwaukee First. I am one of the charter Members of MCF and must tell you that you only have about 63% of this right. I was surprised to see that you had not tried to call Chris Liebenthal (Capper) for an interview. I guess this article was just another Fact Free Faith Based Initiative. (FFFBI)

    Dachvid

  • Jason Crye  - 83% or 63%

    Dachvid,

    Call Capper for an interview? That is about as useful as a fish on a bicycle. It's called connecting some rather obvious dots.

    First dot: Capper runs a Walker-hate site that has been demonstrated clearly by the content volume of his Walker-driven posts and the intensified language used when he attacks him. In the month of June, he posted 49 attack pieces on Walker alone. It's called an obsession. It's only cute to those who dislike Walker.

    Second dot: Capper suddenly becomes the chair of a non-profit called "Milwaukee County First" shortly after Walker announces his run for Governor. Could this be to get media attention and to raise funds for anti-Walker ads?

    Third dot: The mission statement of MCF mentions that Milwaukee County is on a decline. What part of Wisconsin isn't on a decline? At least Milwaukee County is running each year with surpluses when the rest of the state is a disaster with more than 9% unemployment rates and a record-breaking budget deficit. So why, I ask you, didn't Capper start a non-profit called "Wisconsin First" since Wisconsin is clearly in worse shape than Milwaukee County?

    Fourth dot: right out the gate Capper went after Walker using MCF as a tool. The real tool is Capper. He couldn't hold his wad long enough to make MCF look legit.

    I'm sorry you're name is involved in this. You guys should have found a better Chair for your organization.

  • grumps

    Partisan? Undoubtedly.

    A sham? I think you're just remembering WILF, that "Conservative" "Think" Tank that was little more than a pass-through for a couple of checks.

    The pull quotes you choose certainly show a viewpoint but they're little different than what I find on your site, albeit with a different slant.

    Your arguments defending Walker are weak but never weaker than when defending the parks award. The judges never saw the parks themselves. The county was judged on a 12 minute feel-good video and a grand master plan that has never been fully realized. Once more, Milwaukee County gets the warm feeling without any of the benefit.

    Chris has a viewpoint and it's different than yours. You should put on your big boy pants and deal with that.

  • Jason Crye

    Grumps,

    "Chris has a viewpoint and it's different than yours. You should put on your big boy pants and deal with that."

    A little different than mine? That's all? The point of the article is not to defend Walker, but to show how the political games are beginning to emerge.

  • Dan Cody  - Milwaukee County Parks

    Aaron, the Gold Medal award is for the best managed park system, not the most well kept or successful park system in the Country.

    Sue Black and her staff have done a masterful job of managing the parks despite 27 straight years of budget cuts. That's what the award is for.

    It's misleading to say that because the Milwaukee County Parks leadership is up for an award that acknowledges their management of a system that faces serious challenges that everything in our parks system is "just fine".

  • Jason Crye  - Aren't we missing the point?

    Dan,

    I'm not saying the parks are perfect. After all, a home can win an aesthetics award for appearances on the outside, but have cockroaches on the inside. A video can only do so much. But I think we are missing the point here.

    The point is that the parks aren't as bad as Capper portrays them. The picture he draws makes me think of the depressing landscape of Gotham City.

    Times are tough right now. Wisconsin is in a world of hurt, including Milwaukee County. For Capper to focus on Milwaukee County, which is faring much better than the rest of the state in terms of finances, is disingenuous. That's the point here, not defending Scott Walker.

    I know what he's doing, and I think you do to - that's why you aren't defending him.

  • Dave Reid

    Also your discussion of the transit system leaves out a few very very key points. Walker has either cut service, or raise fares every year in office... Cutting service is clearly decline. Then basically all of the capital funds reserve that they had has been used up to pay for operational costs, and now there is a huge funding gap coming soon as buses will need to be replaced in the next few years.

    The transit system surely is efficient but the levels of service have declined, bus replacement has been deferred, capital funds have supported operational activities, and all of this is about to lead to big big problems for MCTS.

  • Jason Crye

    Dave,

    Walker has either cut service, or raise fares every year in office... Cutting service is clearly decline.

    The entire state is in a decline. Our local governments are running prominent budget deficits because tax revenue is declining as unemployment is climbing. We cannot continue to lose revenue from our government coffers while "fully" funding every service in the county. It's called a recession. Everyone else is trimming their personal budgets to make ends meet, and so should the government.

    The transit system surely is efficient but the levels of service have declined, bus replacement has been deferred, capital funds have supported operational activities, and all of this is about to lead to big big problems for MCTS.

    You're right. Our capital reserve will be depleted by 2010 and as many as 150 buses will need to be replaced. The state contribution to the transit system doesn't even cover the costs of inflation. If some services aren't reduced or fares aren't increased, we will not be able to support capital purchases and operational costs. And raising more property or sales taxes during a recession is a good way to push more jobs out of Milwaukee and quite possibly out of the state.

    Liberals need to apply the same budgetary methodology they use in their personal finances to the government. For instance, I expect my income to drop when my wife gives birth in a month. I will not continue my standard of living because half of my income will disappear. Good bye HBO and Cinemax, good bye unlimited texting plan, good bye home phone, and good bye fast food (I'll miss you Culvers). I am making cuts, so why shouldn't the government?

    Let me ask you this, is there ever a good time for government to shrink? Or should we continue to raise taxes so more jobs leave the state?

    I am not arguing that Milwaukee County is a paradise where none of the services have been effected. I am arguing that, given the current economic climate, Walker has done well. You cannot do that while continuing to run fat. Right now, the most we can hope during times of destitution is increased efficiency.

    Walker has delivered increased efficiency to the transit system as the state audit has already reported. The County Transit System continues to outperform its neighbors, and this is a tidbit that liberals continue to ignore.

  • Dave Reid

    @Aaron Those cuts have been going on for years, when the economy was supposed to be good, not just the last couple of years. MCTS was one of the best run systems before Walker arrived, but even during the years before the recession he cut service and raised fairs. Further, being cost effective isn't the only measure of a system, ridership, access, reach, availability and so on.

    Finally, he arguably created a crisis for someone else to cleanup in the future by using the capital funds that way.

    Another bad crisis likely to result from Walker long after he is gone the issuing of the pension bonds. Very good chance we'll see pension scandal 2 now.

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