Saturday, June 26, 2010

It Takes an Awful Lot of Nerve

I have no idea whether the tragedy at the O'Donnell Park parking structure is attributable to deferred maintenance and neither, as far as I can tell, does anyone else. To reach that conclusion one would have to know why the accident happened and then identify some particular proposed action that would have prevented it or uncovered the flaw that caused it. To simply note that O'Donnell Park has had problems or that there are proposed repairs to the structure that have been deferred tells us exactly nothing about the connection of these matters to the accident. Scott Walker says the County was aware of no needed repairs or existing problem that could have caused such a collapse. While the investigation is just beginning, no one has pointed to a single fact suggesting otherwise. It may turn out to be so, but we don't know yet.

But that doesn't mean that the political ghouls have held their fire. The Recess Supervisor seem to have jumped on it before the next of kin could be informed. The latter seems to acknowledge that there is no proof that deferred maintenance contributed to the tragedy but, the political arts being what they are, it doesn't matter. He's not exploiting anything, just providing us with a political science lesson. Tom Foley allows that while it is "perhaps" tasteless to inject politics into such a tragedy, it is inevitable so ... what the hay. He might as well get in on it.

But the worst person in the world in this regard is former Milwaukee County Supervisor Jim McGuigan - one the Board members who brought us the County pension scandal. Having been recalled by the voters for the gross stupidity that may ultimately cost a government already overly burdened with legacy costs a billion additional dollars, you'd think he'd be wandering around Brown Deer in sack cloth and ashes. But no, he authors a blog with the ironic title of "Watchdog Milwaukee." A bit late on that, Jim, don't you think?

McGuigan's defends himself by blaming others. Who would have thought to question claims that, since the stock market had gone up, it would never go down? Who would have doubted that the way to address the potential for early retirements prompted by the County's already ridiculously generous pension plan would be to make it even more generous?

I am perfectly willing to believe that at least some of those responsible for the pension mess were clueless rather than cunning. The Board may well have gotten poor advice from its human relations manager and actuaries, although the idea that one could promise the world to employees without risk to the taxpayers seems - as we say in the law - frivolous on its face.

Still, we ought to be chastened by our mistakes. One would think that, having blundered into a first class mess, McGuigan might display some humility and generosity in questioning the judgment of others.

Not for a minute. McGuigan accuses Walker of "killing off constituents to satisfy a craven lust for power." He says that "[t]onight there are two parents who have lost a son because Walker has decided that politics is more important than safety." He doesn't know - he couldn't possibly know - whether there is any truth to these allegations.

I suppose that one shouldn't be surprised that someone who voted to financially hollow out County government would not be overly concerned about whether he knows what he's talking about. What we do know is that Thursday night two parents lost their child and Jim McGuigan couldn't wait until after the funeral to politicize their loss.


Anonymous said...

out of curiosity, did you jump on the GOP candidates when they immediately screamed at Barrett for the structural problems of the zoo interchange?

John Foust said...

The only thing missing from this post would be the pious claim, hand over heart, that Our Side Would Never Do This If The Shoe Were On The Other Foot. Oh, wait, two things: That if you looked deeper, it was actually Obama's fault.

Standard Contradictory Disclaimer™: (From only days ago...) I appreciate that the boys and girls that do this kind of work (on my side as well) aren't playing beanbag. As a consultant on my side told me, we can't play nice when the other guys play nasty.

Foley said "Some people contend it's tasteless to inject politics into what for these victims and their families is undeniably a devastating personal tragedy. Perhaps it is, but it's also inevitable." Foley linked to Recess. He didn't marry him. (And why are you always so shy about linking to Foley?)

What, no mention of Mark Neumann's press release on the matter? Why, Wiggy and Wife even started a Facebook group called "I will never vote for Mark Neumann again". (No word if Klauser made them do it.)

Aaron Rodriguez said...

Good piece. Good piece indeed.

The Recess Supervisor said...

I'm a political ghoul? *And* I'm married to Tom Foley! Awesome! It's my lucky day!!

If we wait to talk about this until Walker's buddy David Clarke or the County DA get around to concluding anything, we'll be here until the day after the general. I've been in/around politics long enough to know how this crap goes. If Walker wants his hands as clean as possible, he needs to demand yesterday that the investigation be handled by people whose offices aren't staffed by people getting paychecks signed by the county treasurer.

The issue for Walker here is that this stuff provides a graphic illustration of what *can* happen when your last audit shows you to be about $200-250MM behind on deferred maintenance. And if you look at the photo evidence that was submitted as part of that audit, you'd know that the Dems have all kinds of ghoulish photos to make liberal use of should it be needed.

If Obama has to own all of Bush's crap after 18 months in office, surely Walker has to own all of Dave Schulz's and Tom Ament's after being in office five times as long. People, being human, are going to want some accountability on this, and Walker's going to be hard-pressed to point the finger elsewhere. "It was an accident" isn't going to fly. It never does. So one must then ask, where does the blame go?

reddess said...

Everything is "someone's fault" these days. But for heaven's sake, can't people wait until this young man is buried before pointing the finger and making stupid statements. Let's have respect for the family. Losing a child is the greatest loss. And this way is a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

OK, Herr Professor, let me see your posting where you jumped on Walker, the RPW, and Charlie Sykes for piling on the Mayor the same day that the Zoo Interchange bridge was closed.

Seriously, what's the difference between the two situations, save the unfortunate death of the young man?

If you recall, the RPW erected a billboard at the spot blaming Barrett and Sir Charles even commissioned a little ditty that he played ad nauseum, if I recall correctly.

No such questions can be asked or implications made here, however, in view of the death.

Do you think that the hacks on your side of the fence would have been as polite as you demand if there had been a death at the Zoo Interchange, and not merely a seven-day inconvenience?

If you do, I have a defective bridge and a killer parking structure to sell you -- cheap.

Seriously, show us where you threw rocks at the dunces who jumped on the bridge situation or admit that you are also a shameless partisan hack.

reddess said...

What is the difference between the two? What? Are you insane? Or just stupid? Ever lost a child? I have. Let me tell you the two situations have nothing in common. Nothing.
I don't care if you are a Rep, a Dem, or an alien (the kind from Mars). Engaging in politics before this boy's body was cold wass just wrong. Anyone who does this puts the slime in politics.

reddess said...

oops. Make that wass a was.

John Foust said...

Slime in politics? You've got to be kidding. Do you need actual examples? If we wait until the body is cold, will that make it slightly better? If we put it in a TV ad, on a billboard, repeat it on the radio, on an informational DVD solemnly handed to like-minded business leaders at lunch, will that make it more compassionate? Are you the shark or the shepherd?

Walker worked to put chunks of buildings on the street. Like Reuben Lee Mitchell, who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities, Walker found a loophole. Another building went on to fall on another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Scott Walker in Madison, a city with lots of buildings?

Anonymous said...

As a metter of fact, Mrs. Esenberg, we did lose a daughter at a young age, of a sudden-onset malady which could not at the time be cured. As you are well aware, this is a pain which may dull, over time, but which can never go away. I am sorry for your loss as, I am sure, you are for mine.

Sir Winston Churchill is reputed to have asked a woman in London if she would spend the night with him for a hundred thousand pounds. She quickly agreed.

He next asked -- "Would you spend the night with me for ten pounds?"

"Certainly not," she replied. "What do you think I am?"

"That hasa already been established, Madam, and now we are merely negotiating the price," was his response.

The same principle is at work here. Why not simply admit that the folks who piled on Barrett are just as guilty as the idiots you poke and prod here?

It should be noted, however, that the County Executive was leading the chorus blaming Barrett and the Mayor hasn't returned the "favor".

Dad29 said...

Ahhh, the Kind, Gentle, Loving, Left.

Truly the children of Jos. Stalin!

Yes, there IS a difference between the O'Donnell and Zoo Freeway incidents: in point of fact, Barrett and Doyle conspired to delay rebuilding or replacing the Zoo interchange.

Walker did NOT delay critical maintenance.

Aside from the fatality, that's the difference.

Shall we talk about which political party called all the design and contracting shots for the O'Donnell?

Anonymous said...

Of course there is a difference, DaddyZero.

In one case, a damnable Democrat is at the helm.

In the other, a sainted Republican.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Indeed, one need only imagine the posts on Boots and Sabers, Calvin Freiburger, this site; or the blistering commentary by Sykes or Belling were O'Donnell owned by the City of Milwaukee.

Anyone trying to tell me they'd hold off, for even a second, is so kool-aid soaked they glow red.


AnotherTosaVoter said...

Dad, I have a serious question for you:

On what planet should any educated individual who pays attention to politics believe the right is nicer, or any different, than the left?

How are they not different sides of the same coin when it comes to seeking political advantage out of anything?

Be specific.


Anonymous said...

"Shall we talk about which political party called all the design and contracting shots for the O'Donnell?"

DaddyZero proves the point with his own words.

Zero, at issue here is not the "design" or "contracting" but the MAINTENANCE.

Again, in this very simple man's very simple mind, Republican = good; Democrat = evil.

illusory tenant said...

"Gilkes, in an email written the day of the accident, advised Walker's county staff to "make sure there is not a piece of paper anywhere that details any problem at all.'"

How's yer "ghouls" now?