Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

He forgot "children are starving in China"


Waukesha Freeman columnist Tim Schilke takes exception to an unnamed conservative columnist in the same newspaper attacking Mayor Nelson for lousy snow removal in Waukesha. Okay, the columnist Schilke attacks is me. Schilke, a resident of Grafton, thinks he detects {shhh…} hypocrisy.

But it’s rare to catch a shiny glimmer of hypocrisy as blatantly obvious as the partisan local reaction to the recent massive snowstorm.

For a week following the storm, many Waukesha residents criticized the storm cleanup in the Sound Off section of this opinion page.

A local conservative columnist echoed their sentiments, and attempted to focus their anger at Waukesha’s new mayor, Larry Nelson.

“The mayor counseled the good citizens to be patient,” he wrote. “After all, this snowstorm was bigger than most of the snowstorms of the recent past.”

He later continued, “Poor response to a snowstorm can doom a politician’s career.” Nelson was an easy target for a conservative columnist, because Nelson is a Democrat.

Well, actually, Mayor Nelson was an easy target because he is the mayor, and he promised us higher quality services even if we have to pay more for them. Believe me, we’re paying more. And more next year, too. D or R next to the mayor’s party affiliation doesn’t matter to me. Snowboarding down Arcadian Avenue three days after the predicted snow fell does matter.

I would remind Schilke that Nelson is hardly the first mayor to be blamed for snow removal problems, some with more dire consequences to their careers, but Schilke has a ready excuse for the mayor. You can’t blame Mayor Nelson because people drowned in New Orleans.

Now imagine sitting in your attic with your screaming children, as the water pours in the front door and through the broken windows. You see it rising, higher and higher. You finally break through the wood and the shingles just as the water reaches the attic. You reach the roof, and you sit there with your family. One day passes. Two days. Three. And the last thing on your mind is the temporary inconvenience of slippery roads.

The snowfall and 2005’s unprecedented hurricane season both brought with them unexpected lessons in political philosophy. A government that scrimps and scrounges and cuts corners to answer taxpayer demands ends up with not enough salt, not enough equipment, and not enough manpower to handle a 10-year storm. Likewise, a government that focuses too heavily on warfare and military spending is more likely to leave its citizens stranded on an overpass or a rooftop for days, with no food or water.

So, because earthquakes happen in San Francisco, I shouldn’t complain about the schools? Or because the Mississippi River occasionally overflows its banks, I shouldn’t complain about the local building inspector not doing his job?

Or is the rule we can only complain about poor government responsiveness when Republicans are in charge? Do we then exclusively blame the Republicans, or can we also lament that a class 5 hurricane struck the part of the United States that most resembled a one-party third-world kleptocracy?

And so, if you’ll excuse me Mr. Schilke from Grafton, I’ll go back to writing about the failures of politicians in Waukesha and even state-wide, regardless of their party affiliations, and I’ll leave the partisan hack writing to you.

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