This is a story that barely got mentioned during Scott Walker's first run for governor, and apparently, still isn't that important despite the racist email that finally tells the rest of the story. Thank god MSNBC's Chris Hayes picked on Joan Walsh's Salon story about Walker's total disregard for Milwaukee's poor. Why aren't these stories even more important today in our local news casts?
Salon's Joan Walsh tells the whole story too:
Scott Walker’s little-known scandal. When he treated welfare recipients like dogs:
When Scott Walker was county executive, how he handled programs for Milwaukee’s poor will shock and amaze you. A “joke” about a woman trying to sign up her dogs for welfare, because “my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who the r Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty.” The punchline: “My Dogs get their first checks Friday.” Walker’s deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch replied: “That is hilarious. And so true.”
It’s also worth noting: back when Walker was Milwaukee county executive, and Rindfleisch was a top aide, he managed the county’s welfare programs so abysmally that after lawsuits by local clients, the state was forced to take them over. “They didn't just call people dogs, they treated them like dogs,” one Milwaukee elected official recalled angrily.
“Milwaukee County has demonstrated a sustained inability to successfully provide services to its (poor) customers,” state health services director director Karen Timberlake wrote in a February 2009 letter to Walker announcing the state takeover. Milwaukee became the only one of 72 Wisconsin counties to wind up with its programs for poor people under state control ... to many in Milwaukee, his staff’s racist jokes aren't funny.
Roughly 95 percent of calls to the county’s client-intake call center went unanswered in 2008, a state probe later found. The social services department budget funded 25 positions at the intake center, but a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter found only seven staffers working among empty cubicles ... Walker began arguing for privatizing the social services intake unit. “He was managing it to fail,” charges AFSCME contract administrator Dave Eisner. But the problems weren’t just at the call center. In 2008, one out of five food stamp recipients dropped for ineligibility were in fact eligible, and wrongly cut from the program. In 2007, 60 percent of county decisions to cut food or other aid were overturned on appeal within two months.