Since moving to the 4th district in 1998 my wife and I have witnessed many big changes in our neighborhood. More big changes loom over us and I will be writing about them here.
This week in our neighborhood we've seen unusual joggers. Unusual because of how many, and the blue collar work cloths they wear instead of the usual fitness related garb one would expect to see around here. My wife has been exchanging good mornings as they all pass her by on her way to work. Some of the 20 or more past her by a little slower then the rest. And I think the dogs on Martha Washington between Vliet and Martin Dr. all got woken up earlier then they are used to.
It turns out that these men and women are Urban Arborist trainees. As I understand it's a combination non-profit and Milwaukee City Government program where the trainees get a salary while they train and upon completion are guaranteed job in the private sector. The training is taking place at Hawthorne Glen Nature center. It's a 23 acre nature preserve owned by the Milwaukee School District where 12,000 school children visit on field trips every year. It's also down wind of Grede Foundry and in past years many of those children, their teachers, and parents had to have asked what is that terrible smell and learned something unexpected in a nature preserve for children about foundry pollution.
The jogging Arborist were smart to run through our neighborhood instead of running on 60th St. in Milwaukee. This portion of 60th separates the City of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa. It's a narrow asphalt street running only between Martin Dr. and State St. With its humongous pot holes 2 vehicles going in opposite directions have to battle it out to see who stops to avoid driving into the ginormous pot hole. One has to wait for the other driver to pass and go around it. The street itself belongs to the City of Milwaukee. Maybe because its in such an out of the way area in Milwaukee no one has seen fit to replaced it in decades. It's has a dangerous little curve when it meets State St. Speeding cars drive in the middle of it putting oncoming traffic at risk as well as the dog walkers, other joggers, moms with strollers, and those 12,000 MPS students on field trips each year.
I'm glad those future Arborists are getting training. Any job today is hard to come by. It's some good old socialism combined with corporate welfare. From what I could tell from the web it looks like the City of Milwaukee got a Federal block grant, and is using part of it to train the Arborists using City property and city Arborists, and then private companies profit from not having to fully train employees. Seems capitalism needs some socialism to make it work. One example might be how the WDNR calls pollution permit holders customers. To hear the employees at the WDNR talk about it they are understaffed, over worked, and can't afford to do things like air monitoring of businesses like foundries to check if they are really in compliance. They "we" have to take the foundries word for it.
The factory where I used to work at one time ran a federally-funded welding school. My employer seemed to have hired most of the grad students back then too. Just thought I'd add another example of socialism and capitalism working side by side spending US tax money together hand in hand.
What I don't like is privatization of traditional government jobs. Like the cleaning staff at the Milwaukee County courts. These folks were all fired and replaced by a private company. And now the security force at the court house has been replaced in the same way. My fear is it's makes it look too easy for politicians to hold their hands out under the table in cases like this. Why would anyone take such a course unless there was something to gain either politically or other? A politician certainly couldn't gain anything from all the individuals who made up the cleaning staff. But what about now?
Local city and county jobs are so very important to those who start working careers with no skills. Communities and families profit from these local jobs. Jobs with benefits! When a private company takes over instead of the all the employees profiting as they did with county jobs now 1 business owner profits. One family get wealthy. For the fired county cleaning staff it means they lose seniority, the pay level they built up, and the chance to retire from that job.
Yeah I heard how dirty the court house got but wasn't it after staff numbers were cut maybe 2 years ago. Why was it allowed to go on? Why wasn't management managing better? Scotty Walker works in the Court house and isn't he ultimately in charge of the cleaning staff as part of management? Where was management while the elevators, halls, and rest room got so dirty? Sounds like bad management to me. How would Scotty Walker manage a whole state when he can't manage a clean court house rest room.
Whats up with the security now? Have you been reading JS reporting on it? It's now run by a company headquartered in London. Is that where the profits go? To which Milwaukee bank will it go to give out new loans to fired county employees? Another thing that worries me about the county cleaning staff and security being both replaced by private companies is court house security. With the county jobs those folks came to work thinking this is my career and I'm going to retire with a secure county pension, and I'm not going to screw it up. In my mind it made people inside the court house safer; including my wife who works there.
Wait now....how long are the new staff going to stay on? We know these companies are low bidders. How will they treat their employee's and still make a profit. Will hiring new employee's over and over again bite into corporate profits? What will that do to the thoroughness of new employee background security checks? Is this a smart idea in the end? I always thought our county court house deserved the same security as federal buildings with armed security officers.
Without the same permanencies of the county as a employer can we expect less from new employees? No doubt county jobs provided a kind of anchor, and politics was the big spoiler. Really where was the problem? I think the wrong people got fired. Think about it when you go for jury duty or need a divorce.
Lets see, I covered the joggers, how bad 60th St is, corporate socialism, bad county management, and air pollution from the foundry. I'll bring up how noisy the foundry is at night next time.