Saturday, June 26, 2010

Structural problems plague MKE Co. due to Walker's cuts

Earlier this week, a large piece of decorative stone fell off of the O'Donnell Park parking garage in Milwaukee near the Lake Michigan lakefront. A fifteen-year old was killed, while two other persons were injured.

I cannot begin to imagine the emotions running through the families of those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. It is a loss of life that could have been prevented.

It's always a terrible thing when people turn events like these into political arguments. I'm not writing this blog blaming Scott Walker for the loss of life -- it is not as if he is directly responsible for this tragedy. So while it might be easier for some to lay the blame directly on the Republican County Executive, such blame is misdirected. It was an accident to be sure.

But there were certainly clues that something like this could have happened, clues that, as County Executive, Walker chose to ignore.

First off: As Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway points out in a statement, Milwaukee County has seen its fair share of problems as a result of Walker's desire to gut the county of revenue.

"Earlier this year, stone chunks fell off of the Milwaukee County Courthouse," Holloway said. "We are also dealing with numerous structural problems at the Mental Health Complex. Now, we are dealing with a terrible tragedy."

Second: an audit earlier this year shows that Milwaukee County officials knew of the structural problems at the O'Donnell parking garage, knew that almost $600,000 worth of repairs were needed, including preventative measures to reinforce concrete that might be crumbling.

When you take that into account, and add the other structural problems going on at Milwaukee County properties, it should make your heart pump faster. This tragedy could have been prevented. It was known that the parking structure was in need of repairs. It was shown that other Milwaukee County buildings were in disarray as well, were crumbling before our very eyes.

This didn't matter when budgeting was being done. County Executive Walker didn't care, wanted to save a buck. The repairs could be done a year or more later.

Like I said, this is not Scott Walker's fault. Things like this do happen.

But Scott Walker didn't do much to prevent it, either.

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