Monday, May 21, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Why Tom Barrett Is Awesome

Okay, as promised, it's time to deliver the pros for your hero and mine, Tom Barrett. I see a lot of "I Stand With Walker" signs and bumper stickers. I also see a lot of "Recall Walker" signs and bumper stickers, too.  But frankly, I don't see a lot of "Elect Barrett" signs or stickers. Beats the hell out of me as to why. Barrett's one hell of a gem! Have we forgotten all his positives? Apparently. Personally, I feel that the best endorsement I can give of the man is that I'm scared to lose him.  Seriously, he's been a damn fine mayor, and I'm terrified of who might wind up taking his place. Still, it'd be worth it to see him as governor. Best thing since sliced bread? No. He's the best thing since before sliced bread. How cool is Milwaukee's mayor? Let us count the ways:

10. He’s NOT in the back pocket of the unions. He jumped into the race only when the unions pressured him not to run so that they could ensure Kathleen Falk would win the  nomination. Way to go, Tom!

9. He didn’t declare his candidacy until the very day the recall became legitimate. In other words, he didn’t jump the gun out of partisan hatred. Boy, do we need some of that kind of attitude right now!

8. He puts himself in harm’s way to fight for the oppressed.  Remember when, in 2010, he saw a mugging take place outside State Fair Park?  He ran over and faced the mugger – unarmed!  The thug he faced down was carrying a pipe, and when it was over, Mayor Barrett suffered a head wound and a broken hand.  Walker calls himself “courageous” because he merely put his job on the line.  Barrett laid his very life down.  Whatever else you say about Barrett, you gotta admit, the man has BALLS!

7. Relating to the above, Barrett is humble! Any other politician would be beating the above act of heroism like a drum all the way to becoming the next president. Not Barrett! He barely even talks about it when asked directly about the incident. What a difference compared to Walker’s boundless narcissism!

6. Barrett held the line on property taxes, and actually lowered the property tax rate a bit. I know, I know, you’ve heard that Barrett raised taxes every year but one, right? Wrong. PolitiFact settled that one weeks ago. The actual taxes collected did increase over a span of several years, but only because the property values went up – which they’re supposed to if the Mayor is doing a good job!

5. Here’s a statistic for you: Under Mayor Barrett, crime rates have dropped like a lead zeppelin! When he became mayor in 2004, he inherited an awful police chief named Nan Hegarty, appointed to the post by then-Mayor John O. Norquist.  Somehow, Hegarty managed to be even worse than her predecessor, Art Jones (who was a racist incompetent, to put it mildly). Barrett had the city buy out the remainder of Hegarty’s contract, and then shell out even more money to lure Chief Edward Flynn to Milwaukee. Some critics said he was wasting money at the time, but you get what you pay for.  Flynn and Barrett brought crime in Milwaukee down 26.7% between 2007 and 2010 (according to police statistics). Based on numbers from the FBI’s table of offenses known to law enforcement, crime will be down in 2012 yet again from 2009 numbers. Good job, Tom!

4. Barrett may have the highest I.Q. of any politician in the Midwest! No joke!  He graduated from Marquette High School, then went on to achieve a B.A. in economics from UW-Madison in 1976, Magna Cum Laude! He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa (an academic honor society which only accepts straight-A students).  He achieved a J.D. (juris-doctorate) from UW Law School in 1980.  (Walker, by contrast, is a Marquette College drop-out.  Were he not in politics, he just might land a job at McDonald’s.)

3. Tom Barrett is a job creator! Yeah, yeah, you’ve probably been told about how many jobs the city of Milwaukee has lost.  But have you compared those job losses to the cuts that Walker imposed on the city as Governor?  If you subtract the teacher layoffs, public worker layoffs, and the (literally) derailing of the Milwaukee/Madison pre-bullet train, nearly all of the jobs lost in Milwaukee came straight from Walker’s desk, or came about due to the economic pressure placed on Milwaukee because of those cuts. A better way to evaluate Barrett is to ask if he’s been effective at luring businesses to Milwaukee.  The answer to that is an unqualified yes! He’s brought business to Milwaukee from Ingeteam, Helios, Talgo, C&D Technologies, Cargill, Palermo’s Pizza, the Ironhorse Hotel, and the Harley-Davidson Museum. (Which had nearly abandoned its plans in Milwaukee before Barrett got elected and brought Harley back to the bargaining table. Remember that?) The only non-Madison-induced failure under Barrett came from Frontier Airlines stabbing us all in the back by failing to keep its promises. But they lied to Walker, too (since he was county Exec at the time). The Menomonee Valley now supports some 4,000 jobs, where it previously held zero.

2. Want to see how Barrett’s done as mayor? Just drive through Milwaukee and LOOK.  The city just plain looks better! (And five bucks says most Waukesha politicos haven’t bothered to do this for a long while.) The aforementioned Menomonee Valley used to look like Beirut.  Now it looks like the perfect spot for a picnic!  The corridor between Miller Park and the Harley Museum, going past the Potowatomi Casino, looks great!  The bad neighborhoods surrounding Marquette and UWM are getting slowly beaten back.  Old train corridors have stopped being gang-havens and started being bike trails.  Riverwest is a great area for young college kids to live in again. Bay View is now probably the best place to live in the entire state.  Norquist really hated cars, and so let the budget for road and bridge repair go to hell.  Barrett turned that around.  Now the river crossings at McKinley, at State Street, and soon Wisconsin Avenue will be landmarks we can be proud of.  Been to Milwaukee’s riverfront lately?  An Edelweiss or Iroquois boat tour used to show the ugly side of Milwaukee.  Now it shows it’s best side! Milwaukee, you’re a much more handsome town to live in! Thanks, Tom!

1. He’s just a plain ol’ nice guy! He could be out there calling Walker a control-freak. (True.) He could also be out there calling him a mad extremist, a Tea-Party lemming, a fat-cat's scratching post, or a squeaky-wheel brat. (Also true.) In fact, he could legitimately call Walker all kinds of nasty names. Instead he’s saying that they’re both nice guys (!), but that Walker started an ideological civil war. (VERY true. No getting around that one!) That level of patience and forgiveness is reminiscent of our current President (and that’s a LOT of patience and forgiveness these days!).

In short, I shouldn't have to remind anyone about these virtues. I should also not have to sit in befuddled amazement as the governor who threw the entire state into near-revolt within two weeks of taking office actually leads in the polls, and actually gets an endorsement from the myopic editors at the Journal-Sentinel.

But now that I've said it, let's try not to forget it -- again. 


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