Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

To worry or not to worry?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It's a bit of a shock to return to the newspaper after a weekend of music, friends, and reading actual books. The news you get on the streets feels a lot different from the news you read, watch, or hear in the media outlets.

Friday I visited downtown Waukesha to commiserate (or is that celebrate?) friend Darryl Enriquez's recent emancipation from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While there, we talked to a small business owner who had just taken an equally generous retirement package from Harley Davidson.

Both men loved their work but, armed with good minds, lots of experience, and vigor (not to mention a fair chunk of change and the ability to continue receiving health insurance), their futures look interesting.

I'm not too worried about Darryl. But I'm worried about the newspaper, and I'm worried about the ability of people like you and me to get at least some responsible, fact-checked information on which to base our own thinking.

On the other hand, it just might be an opportunity to actually do some of that thinking for ourselves.

What I'm NOT going to worry about today

Consulting. Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn's "cozy relationship with his two consultants." And no, we're not talking about Jessica McBride. But investigative reporter Daniel Bice's investigation into Flynn's use of consultants to help guide his department's thinking about crime fighting is a yawner. Lots of fact-checked stuff. But how important is it? Good ideas rumble about outside our own Milwaukee noggins: maybe more people should be hiring consultants whose suggestions pay off.

TLC. Employers providing tender loving care to "survivors:" those of you who still have jobs but have seen your workload increase crushingly as your fellow workers are disappeared. Like that's going to happen--the TLC part, not the increasing workload part. I'm only speculating here, but it seems like fear and a buyer's market are often an excuse for employers to behave badly. This is one of those page 2 Associated Press fillers that are replacing meaningful reportage.

Political blathery. Articles with statements beginning "Nice sentiments. What's the record?" and then giving only sentiments, no record. That would be Patrick McIlheran's Sunday "editorial" punditry, but you can find your own examples on any side of the spectrum. If it makes you nod your head sagely or pound it against the wall in disbelief, you aren't learning anything. So why bother?

What I AM going to worry about today

Everyday money matters. Lobbyists swarming Madison to make sure that Wisconsin remains the only state with no caps on interest rates. Even the most ardent freemarket capitalist ought to be able to make a killing with an 18% cap. Payday loans aren't really a desirable growth industry.

Water. Human feces in Underwood Creek (and other local waterways). And that's not just after big storms. Somehow, probably through broken pipes, the stuff is constantly seeping into open water all around here. The problems are worse east of Wauwatosa, but I care about my neighborhood first and most.

The "least" fortunate among us. Scott Walker's budget cuts for emergency homeless shelter operations and other services to the most vulnerable among us are unconscionable. You can debate forever whether emergency sheltering is cost effective or not, whether it's the best approach to the problem.  But  without any better solution, the bottom line needs to be a safety net for the most vulnerable because it's the right thing to do. And if you think this doesn't affect your own neighborhood, think again. Some 46% of people living below the poverty line live in the suburbs--some of them in Wauwatosa.

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