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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting Thrown Under the Bus

by capper

On the heels of the news that Milwaukee County Executioner Scott Walker wants to continue dismantling the parks, is the story of his efforts to eliminate another chunk of the transit system. I won't repeat what has been so effectively and eloquently stated by Dan, Gretchen and Cory.

The thing that stood out to me wasn't even in the main story, but in the side notes. It reads:

Paratransit service cut Instead of countywide door-to-door service, the Transit Plus van service for the frail elderly and disabled would run only within three-quarters of a mile of county bus routes. Transit Plus fares would rise from $3.25 to $4.

For those not familiar with Transit Plus, it is a transportation service, often contracted out to other agencies, that provide specialized transportation to the elderly, the physically disabled and the developmentally delayed people in Milwaukee County. These people are carefully screened and are not allowed services if they can drive or if they can use public transportation safely. Walker is now saying that if they don't live within three quarters of mile away from an existing bus route, they don't get a ride. This already covers a small part of the county, and if Walker gets all the other cuts he wants in the routes, the permitted areas grow even smaller.

These people don't use the rides to go to the mall or attend festivals. People use these rides to get to and from doctors' offices, to and from day programs and other basic necessities. Imagine Grandma trying to go over three quarters of a mile, with her walker, in the cold winter, or the hot summer. Developmentally delayed people not only suffer from cognitive limitations, but they also are often mentally ill. Does Walker think that this person can walk that far, navigating traffic, crossing roads, and do it safely? Does he think that most people would feel comfortable having these people walking through their neighborhoods? Most people get upset when someone wants to open a group home in their neighborhood, and now they face the prospect of these people walking the streets, just so Walker can have his single issue talking point for his next campaign.

We can only hope that the county board will do the right thing again this year, and put the needs of Milwaukee County and its people before a political posture and soundbite.

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