Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Republican Gubinatorial Hopeful Milw. Cty Executive Scott Walker Mismanages Food Aid, State Takes Over Program Plagued with Bottlenecks For Poor

The Repubublicans are counting on Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to run for governor and win. For a guy hell bend on selling off parks, pools and airports, not to mention turning down the Obama stimulus money, Walker has now lost control of administering food to the poor due to errors that denied 1 out 5 deserving claims. Inhumane is a word that seems to fit this philosophical zealot.
The Journal Sentinel:

The state's unprecedented move Tuesday to strip Milwaukee County of its role in administering food aid, child care and medical assistance programs was prompted by years of county mismanagement, state Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said.

County Executive Scott Walker, however, called Tuesday's state move "the worst of all scenarios." Walker had suggested a state takeover himself. But he wanted to divest the county completely of the public assistance operation, which he said the state could do more cheaply.

The move was prompted by administrative bottlenecks resulting in unfair benefit denials, Timberlake said. "Milwaukee County has demonstrated a sustained inability to successfully provide services to its (poor) customers." She disputed Walker's assertion that the problem has been the state underfunding the operation, or due to the souring economy. The state "has in fact expended millions of additional dollars and thousands of hours of staff resources to assist your county over a period of years," Timberlake wrote. "

Despite these efforts, Milwaukee County's performance fails national and state standards and is failing the people of the county." The move includes a state takeover of the county's public assistance call center, the focal point of recent criticism about delayed and bungled aid applications. The state move also is aimed at settling a class-action lawsuit accusing the state and county of shortchanging poor families. According to a state memo:

• The county's poor performance in the programs includes answering only 5% of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month.

• The county fails to process 30% of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care.

• In 2007, 60% of county decisions to deny food or health care benefits were overturned within two months. That resulted in benefit delays and forced families to go through time-consuming appeals or a second round of applications.

• The county's high food assistance error rate means nearly one in five deserving applicants were cut off from the program in fiscal 2008.

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