When Walker sent layoff notices to 180 county employees, Holloway was irate. He threatened Walker's top aides telling them they should "pray that Scott Walker doesn't win" his bid for governor. Holloway knows if Walker is elected governor mid-term, then he would become the next "acting" Milwaukee County Executive. If this were to happen, says Holloway, he will fire all of Walker's top aides.
Holloway's threat got me thinking about him becoming the next County Executive. Politically speaking, Holloway is a loose cannon. He shoots off at the mouth often getting himself into trouble. Just last month he accused Walker of race-baiting and compared him to a Ku Klux Klansman. The accusation won him the widespread repudiation of Wisconsin's two largest newspapers, not to mention receiving written complaints by several County Board Supervisors.
Holloway's mouth is only part of the problem. He is also a slumlord. He owns 13 apartment buildings and duplexes on the north side of Milwaukee recently tagged by inspectors as grossly under code. Earlier this year, an adult tutor lodged a complaint on behalf of her student concerning the "appalling" living conditions of Holloway's north side apartment building. Shortly after, a city inspector visited the property and cited Holloway with 39 building code violations. Among the violations were leaking pipes, sinks with no running water, holes in the ceilings and floors, missing door handles, and windows that wouldn't close.
In April, Daniel Bice, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, did some investigative work and found city reports showing more than 150 open building code violations at nine of Holloway's Milwaukee properties. Among those violations were broken doors, defective fire alarms, and roach and rodent infestation. In fact, the violations were so long standing that the city put Holloway's properties on a "special enforcement list", which means that the city had dedicated a single building inspector for Holloway's properties. (Also worth noting is that the city took Lee Holloway and his wife to municipal court in order to force them to correct problems with their duplex on North 7th street. )
After Bice's report in April, Holloway's associates told the Sentinel that Lee was embarrassed by the story. However, in August, Holloway was still facing 150 violations. And today, he is still facing nearly 80 building code violations. More interestingly, the editorial staff of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel even suggested that Holloway get out of the landlord business!
Perhaps the Sentinel has it reversed? Holloway is a landlord of multiple properties and simultaneously the Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board. And recently it's become clear that he cannot do both jobs at the same time. Instead of giving up on his landlord business like the Sentinel suggests, he should forfeit his leadership of the County Board. Managing a few properties on the north side is a small task compared to planning the major operations for the largest county in Wisconsin.
What we've learned is that being a strong "verbal" advocate for low income families is not the same as actually improving their condition. We see many politicians that advocate more government-giving to the poor, but they rarely give a single penny themselves. And in Holloway's case, running properties fraught with roach infestations, unsanitary basements, and unsafe porches do not provide low income families with real human dignity they deserve.
Holloway should do a real service to low income families and relinquish himself from the County Board. By doing this, he can provide something more than slummy living spaces. The city representative is correct, it's not the city's job to manage Holloway's properties.