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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The State Of The County

by capper

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker gave his state of the county speech today. I could paraphrase it to saying "If it ain't working, don't fix it." JSOnline has their own version of it:

Walker says county is on right track

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker lays out a cautious but upbeat agenda today in his 2008 "State of the County" speech, calling for progress on old efforts rather than unveiling any new approaches.

Walker says he'll keep pushing to shift the county's mental health complex to the vacant St. Michael hospital, to cut a deal to sell County Grounds property for the proposed University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee engineering center, to build a new airport runway and to shift work-release inmates to global positioning system monitors. He makes his remarks today at the Hope Christian Schools, 3215 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

All those efforts are in the planning stages and with the exception of the runway expansion, all have generated some friction with the County Board. In a copy of the speech, however, Walker keeps the tone light and makes only scant mention of the board.

He hails the financial recovery efforts of the Milwaukee Public Museum by noting he and County Board Chairman Lee Holloway "stepped up" and jointly appointed a committee to draft a fix, which included an extra $14 million in county support over 15 years.

Walker mentions the board just twice, when he notes the net result of his annual budget tilt with county supervisors has been an annual tax levy increase of "just a little over 2%." That's been due to his insistence on keeping a steady levy, he says.

With the April general election less than three months off, Walker uses his annual assessment mostly to tout past accomplishments. He faces state Sen. Lena Taylor in his bid for a second full four-year term. He was first elected in 2002 after the county pension scandal.

"Overall, plenty of good things took place during this past year," Walker says. "It gives me hope for the future of Milwaukee County."

New construction was up last year, Mitchell International Airport hosted more travelers and AARP hailed Milwaukee as a great place to live, Walker notes. The county park system celebrated its 100th anniversary and a zoo fund-raising effort raised $30 million, Walker says.

Safety, a major theme of Walker's re-election campaign, gets a plug in his speech. He supported Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.'s summer effort "to occupy the lakefront," for a second year, Walker says.

Senator Taylor's campaign also has her statement on Walker's speech:


MILWAUKEE — John Zapfel, Campaign Manager for Lena Taylor, issued this statement today following Scott Walker’s State of the County address Tuesday

“This morning, Scott Walker painted a very rosy picture of the state of the ilwaukee County in his address. For those of us living here, we know the reality is different. Residents are underserved and county government is mismanaged. Our transit system is no longer cost-effective for riders – a result of service cuts and fare hikes. Our parks have all but deteriorated. Just this month, the Journal Sentinel called attention to inefficiency and low employee morale in both the public aid office and at the House of Correction.

“It’s time for new vision and new leadership to address the very real problems facing Milwaukee County, and as County Executive, Lena Taylor will help us get back on

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