Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grandstanding On Race And Milwaukee

There are opinion-makers at various levels out there having a field day with some serious central city issues in Milwaukee.

Theirs are not the words of good will. They are not altruistic, or offering thoughtful solutions to some of the fundamental issues roiling Milwaukee - - poverty and generations'-long racial discrimination in the region, to name two.

Instead, they are edgy, self-centered voices that are turning up the heat - - naively or deliberately - - while offering nothing constructive.

Ald. Michael McGee has become one of their major targets. Blame McGee for being a fool if he is guilty - - something the courts will decide, not bloggers or squawkers or politicians with time on their hands or agendas to serve.

Ald. McGee is in the justice system. Let it play out.

What's the value of the breathless, minute-by-minute 'coverage' on the Internet by bloggers like Patrick (Badger Blogger) essentially instant-messaging his readers with posts like this:

by Patrick @ 6:17 pm. Filed under Home
The word is, The Alderthug, Michael McGee/Jackson Jr. has sold his home on East Burleigh St.
No details yet. "

Or take Mark Belling, the right-wing AM radio talk show host. In addition to his routine McGee-bashing, he used a recent column slot in The Waukesha Freeman, aimed at a white suburban audience, to call McGee a "thug" and a "goon," and then trashed an entire community and their many leaders this way:

'So long as the predominantly black residents of the inner city keep choosing thugs like Michael McGee Jr. as their "leaders," there is no reason to believe the social pathologies that have turned the area into a ghetto of crime will disappear."

The ugly and violent aftermath of an otherwise peaceful Juneteenth Day celebration offers an opportunity to come forward with solutions. Focus on that.

Are these commentators really interested in making Milwaukee a better city? Are they genuinely interested in guaranteeing a region and state that provides opportunities for everyone - - or are they having too much fun teeing up McGee, or foaming about race?

Talk is cheap. Rhetoric is free.

Solutions, hard work on the streets, tough decision-making among office-holders. That takes serious time, effort, and will by serious people.

It's time to separate the winners from the whiners. The activists from the amateurs. The caring from the careless.


Anonymous said...

You know it's not going to happen. The people you are criticizing are fundamentally distressed by the blatant breakdown of order, civility and the social contract in Milwaukee, which is extremely real and problem for the whole region. Understandably, some average citizens get very upset and slightly obsessed. Is that really a major problem? That folks need to "keep cool" after at least 4 white males, 1 Indian male, and 1 unknown person who were "swarmed" by young black males after an African-American festival in highly African-American part of the City?

There is some cogent discussion of this at places like badgerblogger, where the nuances are explored--such as in these recent events, the racial element is suggested to be not so very conscious but something of a mob mentality, where targets are most likely to be perceived "outsiders" who stick out.

The expansion of the criminal underclass in Milwaukee is a problem that is not going to go away but loom larger every year, as Eugene Kane aptly notes today, certainly not with the constant denial, minimization, and weird obsession with bloggers, talk radio, etc. as worthy of great attention when it comes to inner city issues.

You'd think a little differently if you ever lived and own property in the thick of constant violence and predation.

Anonymous said...

Let me add that the McGee home sale is notable, as the BB commenters realize amid their anti-McGee banter (no worse than lefty anti-Bush banter) that his house (or that of any number of other McGee "supporters") might have paid McGee's bail and could have done so long ago.

What the unpaid bail situation indicates is what is already known in the 'hood--the "support" for McGee and the half-hearted bail money raising campaign is all kabuki theater and yet another opportunity for "activists" and "leaders" to pocket some cash from less savvy suckers on behalf of the "great cause." The McGee and friends operation has been, if nothing else, a system of sucking cash from the community from above (e.g. OIC) and below (e.g. Mother McGee's pharmaceutical swindles). What "the community" gets in return is $5 or some food for a vote, little favors here and there, and the joy of a champion who consistently "sticks it to The Man" and does a fine job of suppressing economic redevelopment and the aspirations of the black middle class, or anyone wishing to enter it.

Maybe the collected fund will end up paying some McGee legal fees, maybe it won't. There is no point in paying the bail, unless one is prepared to pay again for bail on the federal charges. Which indeed could be done, but the truth is McGee has been slipping for a long time.

See his campaign finance disclosures in the latest complaint. He has enjoyed VERY LITTLE financial support for quite some time. He owes people a lot of money and favors, and he has been in no position to do either. I see no checks from Jerrel Jones or Lou Fortis or Mikel Holt--Holt who says he'd walk thru hell in gasoline drawers for McGee but consistently denounces thuggery. It was the McGees who paid Jones for their WNOV airtime, formerly with OIC funds, and they were running a bit dry of late. Follow the money here--who gets paid, and who pays? McGee is in jail and in debt of various kinds, useless to the community except as a martyr-victim who some enterprising individual may aspire to succeed as true heir to "the cause" of vintage time-serving, low-level graft-funneling, self-exploiting urban black politics--dedicated to keeping district 6 on the Newark model, keeping the City locked in a bad 1970s blaxploitation knockoff.

Yes McGee is a man fixing to be hung by his own crowd, and maybe he will play along as the martyr. Very sad, very sad, but not for Fred Gordon, or whomever else in that little cabal manages to secure municipal employment after McGee is gone.

Read the details and phone transcripts in the latest criminal complain on McGee. Good people have good reason to be insanely angry with an alderman who is indeed a thug, taking a personal lead in not only extortion but in conspiracy to batter a young man on pure suspicion of wrongdoing and ratting McGee out.

James Rowen said...

Like I said, the overall situation needs people interested in solutions, and I don't see much of that coming from the sort of critics I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

c'mon jiminy cricket! the old illogical, fallacious canard of having to have "solutions?"

BB and the rest CONSTANTLY discuss solutions. Maybe you don't take them seriously, but that's just you.

I'd also say a solid critique and analysis of the status quo is required prior to solution-mongering, and the big local deadlock is the division and lack of consensus about the problem or if there even is one.

I expect this will go on until the white baby boomers who are either out and out racist conservatives die off along with the liberals of that generation who have found ways to deny and sublimate their racism.

BUt in the spirit of reaching out, I'd like to suggest rain barrels for the inner city, maybe rain barrels with anti-crime slogans. Could be a Rowen-Clarke/Frankovis initiative.

James Rowen said...

The last anonymous comment proves my point: critics like these are not serious people.

They bring nothing useful to the debate.

I posted it as an illustration to show that these people have zero confidence and courage of conviction.

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony 1 sez: "The people you are criticizing are fundamentally distressed by the blatant breakdown of order, civility and the social contract in Milwaukee..." No, they're not. All they see is an opportunity to continue to develop their racist argument that blacks will not help themselves and are therefore beyond hope. They don't care; they seek to exploit the problems for their own purposes and to prop up their selectively chosen "voices of the community" like David Clarke and James Harris. We can't say they might be wrong, but they come in good will -- because they don't.

Patrick said...

it is crazy to say we at BadgerBlogger don't talk seriously about solutions to the problems. We have some police officers and Captain Glenn Frankovis, who has a proven successful track record in fighting crime discussing this issue every day.

In an anti-crime press release put out by Alderman Willie Hines, he used information and numbers that Capt. Frankovis and I have posted at BadgerBlogger.

Would you rather count on the recent $600,000 study that the paper reported on a few days ago? As Captain Frankovis stated in a letter to the editor in yesterdays paper, "Any good cop could have told us that for the price of a cup of coffee, and he or she could also tell us where these shootings were most likely to occur."

it is true that a lot of people want to distract from the solutions, because they are not easy, but I think, no, I pray that the residents of Milwaukee's inner-city may be ready to be willing to do this hard work. Listening to the people that I work with, primarily elderly and disabled inner-city residents and callers to "urban" radio stations, they are scared, they know it is their own young people that are the problem, and they know what it will take to regain control of the streets for the vast majority of good hard working people that live in these crime ridden neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

I notice your comments did not offer any constructive comments on how to improve things in Milwaukee.

So in short it is ok for self serving liberals to be critical of conservatives for "not offering and ideas", but not the other way around.

Maybe we can find a new tax increase to address this issue. That seems to be the Democrat solution to everything in this state.

James Rowen said...

What I said was: stop the cheap shots and get serious.

And I said it was the region that needs to bring action, because it is the region that has been and continues to be deeply segregated - - racially ane economically.

I'd like to see the M-7 focus as its top priority on job development, location and creation of employment in Milwaukee.

Not in Pewaukee or Franklin or West Bend.

In Milwaukee.

I'd like to see regional transportation that hubs out of Milwaukee, including light rail to help match city workers with jobs are in the suburbs, and as an economic development/job-producer in Milwaukee, too.

I'd like to see SEWRPC reconstituted or eliminated, because Milwaukee has no representation on its board.

There should be a planning commission just for Milwaukee County, as there is for Dane, that directs planning and some funding into that region - - a one-county entity dominated by a city.

For starters/