Thursday, January 26, 2006

No news here: Walker passes the buck

Scott Walker pretends, for the first time in his career, to take responsibility for something, but actually passes the buck again, as he always does:

From the Journal Sentinel Daywatch:

Walker issues ultimatum to parks director

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker today publicly gave county Parks Director Sue Black a six-month deadline to erase deficits or “I’ll find somebody else to do that.”

Black responded by asking for the community’s help in finding ways to meet the parks’ needs in the tight county budget. She recounted how she repeatedly rejected Walker’s job offer in 2003 because of her reluctance to take over what she viewed as a failing system struggling for adequate resources.

Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. Senator and Wisconsin governor, finally convinced her to try to turn it around, Black told the County Board’s Finance and Audit Committee, which quizzed her about a surprise projected deficit of $2.3 million for 2005 in parks.

“I’ve been given three to six months,” noted Black, former state parks director. “I’ve been trying to fix it since I walked in the door.”

Walker told the committee that he fully expected that with an infusion of new fiscal oversight, Black would get the job done by this summer.

Walker answered criticisms that he had not taken responsibility for the bad news, which threatens to leave his third straight budget in the red at year-end.

“The buck stops with me and that’s why I’m here today,” he said.

He alluded to his campaign for governor and denied it had caused him to take his eye off of county government.

Supervisor Gerry Broderick, echoing Walker, defended Black’s passion for parks and ability to motivate, and said the public understood those qualities as well. He blamed Walker’s tax-freeze budgeting and a problematic merger of parks and public works for the deficits. The merger has since been undone, with parks and public works returning to separate departments.

“If six months from now this is not solved, the most foolish thing in the world would be to get rid of Sue Black,” Broderick said.

Also at the committee meeting, Assistant District Attorney David Feiss, white-collar crime unit leader, said the criminal investigation into the Milwaukee Public Museum’s near collapse was his sole focus now that he has cleared other cases. Decisions on whether any charges are warranted should come in about one month, Feiss said.

-By Dave Umhoefer


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