Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charge Of The Lightweight Brigade

Last week, I posted about the ongoing neglect of the Eschweiler Buildings on the county grounds. I had learned that a tree had fallen on one of the buildings, and true to the reports I had received, after three weeks, there was not one bit of work done to even patch the damage done, including a branch sticking out of the roof of the building.

In my closing thoughts in that post, I wrote:
It is not surprising that Scott Walker would let these building fall into ruin, whether to have them razed for new development or other purposes. He is not from this area and does not share our pride of our history or understand the significance of these grounds. Furthermore, he is as shallow as only a life long politician can be, and only sees the grounds as something to be used to advance his own personal agenda, his political career.
Apparently, this was enough to set Team Walker into damage control status. Unfortunately for Team Walker, their first line of defense was the on-staff paid Walker apologist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Patrick McIlheran, who has been known for being a bit more than reckless with his facts, regardless of the subject matter.

Old Patrick (who also comes from another state, and doesn't share, or even understand this great state's progressive history) tries to tell us that the ongoing neglect of the Eschweiler Buildings, a registered historic landmark, is no big deal, and that it has been going on for long before Walker's regime was installed. Mind you, he offers no links to support his claims, but expects us just to take him at his word for this to be true.

And I am sure he is accurate. But only to a small extent. The Eschweiler Buildings were in use well into Walker's time as County Executive, including being the home of The Institute for Entrepeneurship (pdf, page 43), who still has a small sign outside of one of the buildings:

Unfortunately, for Team Walker, McIlheran isn't quite the heavyweight that they apparently were hoping for, and he comes up with a string of laughable tangents in trying to defend his favorite perpetual candidate.

First up is the tried and true blaming of Ament and the pension scandal. These are the same people that are demanding that Obama take ownership of the national economy and the recession that started a year before he won the election. But somehow they can't find Walker to be responsible after eight years of his tenure? Do they find him that incompetent?

Patrick then tries the economic angle of claiming the county is strapped for cash, and doesn't need the buildings anyway. Funny, but I would think that if the County was that strapped for cash, they would want to use the buildings they already own, instead of leasing expensive buildings, like the Reuss Federal Building, or selling buildings they own, only to turn around and rent them from the buyers. And speaking of the county grounds, does he really think that selling the land at a third of its value, with no guarantees as to what would go there, is really smart?

McIlheran's next stumbling effort comes in pointing out the one can scrape by successfully on a minimum, citing the parks "gold medal" award. Too bad for old Paddy that his own paper threw him under that bus with a report on an audit showing that the parks are in a state of continued decline, with hundreds of millions of dollars of neglected maintenance that is a threat to the infrastructure of the county.

Paddy then resorts to outright lies, trying to resurrect the failed idea of moving the mental health complex:

If you want to talk about salvaging buildings, Walker spent the last two years trying to get the county to move its mental health hospital out of its outmoded home to a renovation of a now empty hospital on the north side.

The plan made eminent sense, costing far less than the competing idea of building a new mental hospital at the county grounds, but unions objected because it interfered with their featherbedding, and a majority of the county board sided with the unions for pretty much no reason but an anti-Walker reflex.

Now, fixing up St. Michael's Hospital isn't historic preservation, but it certainly would have been a careful stewardship of county resources when it came to buildings. It's a far better indicator than the state of the Eschweiler buildings.

Again, it was shown that Walker was fudging the numbers, and that the move was the most expensive of all the options, even of building a whole new facility. Not only that, but why would it make any sense to move from a not so old, but neglected, building, into an even older building that wasn't designed for psychiatric care? Most people recognize that it is wiser to own than it is to rent, but then, no one has ever accused Paddy of being wise.

Now, I have a confession to make. I did see this article last night, but I held off writing anything in hopes of a certain event occurring. And I was not disappointed.

True to his stunted emotional state, Charlie Sykes couldn't resist but to jump on that broken wagon. Although Chuckles couldn't offer any contribution to McIlheran's lackluster defense, he did get a few personal attacks in, worthy of any schoolyard bully. He must be feeling frustrated with the winter weather of late, since it is too cold for him to go the park and play with his firecracker.

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