Yesterday, State Senator Lena Taylor and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker had their first official debate. Unfortunately, I wasn't there, and the only information is from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (More about this in my next post.)
Senator Taylor pointed out that Walker has failed to work with other leaders, including the County Board, Mayor Tom Barrett, other regional leaders. Even more significantly, Walker willfully sabotaged any efforts to get more money to come to Milwaukee County during the last state budget talk, by putting his own political aspirations before the good of the County. (Not surprisingly, the county budget is already in critical condition and large cuts or other drastic measures will be needed in the near future. Walker is probably just hoping to make it past the election before the matter hits the fan.)
Senator Taylor also highlighted some of her accomplishments, including successfully passing budgets on a state level, bringing millions of dollars to Milwaukee County, effectively pulling Walker's butt out of a mess. Senator Taylor also pointed out that she would find better ways to improve the local economy, including helping people get back into the workforce.
Walker, who got by far, much more coverage, also got away with some, shall we say, inaccuracies. Walker said that he helped form groups studying transit, but fails to state how he has sabotaged those studies. He said that he has worked well with Halloway (who has a history of being less than ethical himself). Another one of his bragging points is the proposed move from the mental health complex to the old St. Michael's hospital. He fails to point out that this would be more expensive than doing the necessary work at the current facility. (This must be the affordability part of his plan.)
Walker said that he had also worked with local communities to train and equip paramedics. This must have been after the County Board overrode his veto of the whole County portion of this budget. He also boasts of going on a local trade mission to the Czech Republic. I can't wait to see this. What is the Czech phrase for "Putting lipstick on a pig.", anyway?
Walker's plan for the future includes the "new approaches" of slashing budgets and privatizing everything that he can, including the airport. That's an attitude that raises questions from even one of his biggest backers.
But the most telling part of who won the debate came in afterwards. Senator Taylor's campaign manager, John Zapfel, put out this statement right after the debate:
“Today, Lena Taylor outlined exactly why she is the best choice to lead Milwaukee County into the future. She has the relationships with the Governor and the State Legislature to fight for the needs of Milwaukee County in Madison, as she did when she provided the county with $3 million for the transit system in the recent budget. She has the ability to work with the Mayor, the board Chairman, and the County Board to get things done. And she has the experience necessary to be an effective Milwaukee County Executive.
“In contrast, Scott Walker has demonstrated an inability to work with public officials in both Madison and Milwaukee, opting instead to blame others for the lack of funding for Milwaukee County. He even failed to approach Senator Taylor this past budget cycle when she was on the Joint Finance Committee in the State Legislature, neglecting his duties as the county’s CEO.
“Milwaukee County residents need action and results, not excuses and scapegoats. Lena Taylor is the right choice for the county, and the voters will make their voices heard on April 1.”
Meanwhile, the MSJ article reports that Walker was doing a lot of mewling:
Speaking after the debate, Walker said that Democrats had made sure that Taylor got credit for sponsoring the $3 million transit budget amendment for Milwaukee County as a way to boost her county executive bid. The aid permitted the County Board to preserve bus routes that Walker had proposed cutting.
First point goes to Taylor.