Privatizing public services is hostile takeover
By Rev. Willie E. Brisco, president, Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope
I am not going to stand by and watch without protest the corporate machine steam roll into this city as if it were another Benton Harbor, Michigan (92 percent black city subjected to hostile take-over by GOP governor).
I am opposed to government taking away 85percent of the Milwaukee County supervisors’ budget and making the positions of the few remaining supervisors part-time. This plan would abolish the representatives of the people so that private corporations and the rich could take over city and county services.
Since there was no plan to downsize the county board, this is a hostile take-over. Eliminating all but six supervisors and making them part time strips them of power, healthcare benefits and pensions. That means that the county board will consist of the retired or working but wealthy people appointed by these corporations to run our government/public services.
We are fighting against the machinery (of profit), not against a political party. Had this plan been done to make the county board efficient, it would have just streamlined the board to nine from 19. We would not be looking at what is tantamount to elimination. Don’t forget the blizzard of bills that hit the state legislature day after day once Scott Walker took office in 2011. Nobody had time to think let alone fully comprehend the impact of those bills.
Today, right after President Barack Obama was re-elected, Wisconsin again was snowed with bills from the governor to suppress the vote: no same day voter registration, and now this plan to virtually eliminate county government ‘for the people’ and give Milwaukee County services to corporations who only care about the bottom line, including prisons. Right now, 75 to 85 percent of people in prison should have been funneled through medical mental health and addiction services, not prison. And 85 percent of prisoners are black. Most of their lives they’ve been self-medicating and need treatment for addiction.
Private prison corporations come with the mandate that prisons must be filled to 95 percent capacity. The state of Wisconsin continues to recycle people back and forth to prison with no care, fueling single-parent households, which then fuels separation between women and men in the black community. If someone wants to be elected, he or she cannot talk about prison reform programs. Or about the racial profiling that convicts African Americans: 85 percent of prisoners in Wisconsin are black. The show of police in black neighborhoods reminds me of Hitler’s Gestapo showing force to make citizens afraid to hide Jews. The police need to walk neighborhood blocks and talk to residents and show them that the police have their safety uppermost in mind. But police in patrol cars, and on motorcycles, even on bikes, do not get to know the residents, and that is an essential loss to the black community. The police are working on building relationships, but have a long way to go.
People of Milwaukee, we must stand up and speak out against privatizing city and county of Milwaukee services. Money failed to win the last presidential election, and we cannot allow profit to count more than God’s people.
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