Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thinking small, writing big

Whoa, Nelly!

For perhaps the first time ever, I'm going to link to a post by Fighting Ed Garvey, who seems to think he is the illegitimate grandson of Bob La Follette. But even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile, as Ed would say.

Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker got a huge ride from the Journal Sentinel this morning, with a top-line story making him out to be a hero who is helping the mentally ill.

His proposal is extremely thin soup, but the paper is very invested in the issue, having done an exhaustive series on problems with housing for the mentally ill. The JS wants to show that all of its work brought some results, however meager. Thus, this story:
Housing initiatives proposed
Walker wants to spend $250,000, suggests permanent solutions


Milwaukee County is dramatically shifting its focus in mental health care to provide permanent housing for hundreds of people who now live in squalor.

Under a proposed budget, the Behavioral Health Complex in Wauwatosa would be sold to fund permanent housing for people with mental illness.

The move comes five months after a Journal Sentinel series chronicled the deplorable and sometimes deadly living conditions for people under the care of county psychiatric case managers. The newspaper found many of the county's sickest mental patients living in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, in buildings with dozens of health and safety violations.

Typically, these places are infested with rats and roaches. Some have no heat or running water. Others have broken toilets, faulty wiring, missing smoke detectors and windows painted shut. Over the years, dozens of patients have died in these places from environmental flaws such as exposure to extreme heat.

County Executive Scott Walker said Monday that he is proposing spending nearly $250,000 in next year's budget to enhance housing programs for people with chronic mental illness, at a time when other county programs are being substantially trimmed. His plan calls for some realignment of county agencies, including the creation of a housing section specifically for the Behavioral Health Division.
Says Garvey:
The MJS wrote about horrific living conditions for those with disabilities. Walker's bold idea? He would spend $250,000 for "permanent solutions." No, not $250K per person. That pittance is for the entire community.

How would he spend the money? Again, I'm not making this up. $50K to hire a national expert to develop a master plan. $25K to join a group of agencies called "Continuum of Care;" and the rest to "enhance the availability of permanent housing for people with mental illness".

Don't you wonder what world he lives in? Wisconsin has plenty of expertise in the housing issue; we know how to take care of people with disabilities. Scott Walker makes a joke out of deplorable living conditions. And MJS? Meg Kissinger treated this as news. Whoa Nelly! Maybe next year he could dedicate fifty bucks to the homeless so MJS could say he cares about the homeless. C'mon!


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