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takingsideschangesWith the growing discussion regarding the question on what to do about the lead lateral pipes feeding contaminated water into over 70,000 Milwaukee homes, the idea of people buying filters to reduce the lead poisoning appears to be catching on with city bureaucrats, elected officials and some not well informed community talking heads.

The filters idea is being pushed because it’s the least expensive pseudo remedy for the city. Bureaucrats argue that Milwaukee’s water is generally lead free leaving the system’s treatment plant, but becomes contaminated as it approaches individual homes that have lead lateral pipes or internal plumbing made with lead.

Another political punt by the bean counting bureaucrats and the cash strapped politicians playing with band-aid solutions to a serious matter.

A couple of points need to addressed about using filters to eliminate lead from drinking water that Mayor Barrett and his cohorts are not willing to discuss.

1. There is no filter that removes all of the lead from drinking water in homes with lead lateral pipes; this is only good for removing some of the lead and is not a long term solution.

2. Children under the age of 6, and unborn children, are still at risk of lead poisoning.

3. The suggested water filters do not fit all faucet sizes.

4. The filters are supposed to be changed every six months, adding additional cost and burden to homeowners and renters.

5. Mayor Barrett is still passing the cost onto homeowners and renters and avoiding any city responsibility.

6. The only way to remove all of the lead from drinking water in the 70,000 homes with lead lateral pipes is to replace the lead lateral pipes, period. There is no getting around this fact!

Suggesting that homeowners and renters go out and buy filters as the panacea to lead poisoning is reckless and irresponsible and is, at best, a piss-poor attempt to appear to be addressing this critical public health crisis.

To say that this is akin to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound is being nice.

The EPA does not test water filters for removing lead, this is not a viable solution

Government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), don’t test water filters for effectiveness in removing lead from water.

Water filters are certified by NSF International, a private organization founded as the National Sanitation Foundation in 1944 that tests and certifies water filters. The American National Standards Institute, a non-profit organization, has accredited the NSF.

What the NSF looks for in a filter is whether or not the filter is capable of reducing contaminants, does not add harmful substances to water, is structurally sound, and uses consistent production and manufacturing standards. The filter selected should be checked for misleading claims, labeling or advertising.

Water industry leaders say that filters meeting NSF certification must demonstrate it is able to reduce lead from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb or less.

These numbers may be good for adults, but it must be pointed out that for children under 6 years of age, no level of lead in the water is safe.

Putting filters in homes with lead laterals still leaves children and fetuses susceptible to lead poisoning

Children, especially fetuses and infants are the most vulnerable, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), because it takes very little lead exposure to damage a child compared with an adult. Low levels of lead exposure are linked to damage to a child’s blood cells and nervous system, as well as learning disabilities, poor hearing, impaired growth and more. In fact, the EPA calls lead poisoning the “number one environmental health threat in the U.S. for children ages six and younger.”

So removing the lead pipes then adding filters that effectively remove lead would be the ultimate way to free Milwaukee’s children from the hazard of lead.

So while the city floats the idea of filtering the water in those over 70,000 homes with lead laterals, extreme caution is in order, as not all filtering systems on the market block lead. The NSF lists ratings on three types: reverse osmosis, filter systems and distillation. It warns that many popular pitcher-type filters don’t meet today’s standards for lead reduction, although they may filter other contaminants.

Why are Mayor Barrett and his Bureaucrats reluctant to even develop a plan to remove lead laterals?

Money!

The bottom line is they prefer to spend city dollars and resources on a downtown streetcar, a downtown sports arena for New York billionaire sports franchise owners, downtown real estate developments and downtown’s tourism industry over ensuring that all children of Milwaukee are drinking clean, safe water free of harmful contaminants.

If they were to exert one-tenth of the energy they exhausted on getting the downtown streetcar or the Bucks arena financing deals done we would at least have a comprehensive strategic plan in place to help homeowners replace these toxic lead laterals. Instead we have nothing.

It says that Mayor Tom Barrett and his Bureaucrats could care less about the children of Milwaukee, especially poor children of color!

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takingsideschangesDuring his keynote speech at Marquette University, Dr. Edwards called the dangers posed by lead pipes a “government-made problem,” noting that cities including Milwaukee for many years required builders to use lead plumbing. There is no question! Property owners should not bear the cost to remove lead water lateral pipes from their property. Mayor Barrett is wrong.

Mayor Tom Barrett says it was after he spoke with Virginia Tech professor scientist, Marc Edwards about filters, he then realized he needed to make his support for filters public.

I guess if I wasn’t a critical thinker I would look at what I’m about to say as just being an asshole, but considering the fact that Milwaukee has been poisoning our children for decades without so much as a precautionary letter before 2016 addressing lead (that I know of), I’m just going to say what needs to be said and to blazes with how it appears.

So now the Mayor sees the need for filters. Why didn’t he come to that conclusion years ago since everyone at City Hall has known of the hazards of these lead water pipes?

During his presentation at Marquette University this past week, Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech pointed out that Milwaukee has had a sordid history covering up facts and not being transparent regarding matters related to water lead problems.

Currently, we filed an open records request with the city health department trying to obtain data from the Department of Public Health regarding lead blood levels of children living in Milwaukee homes with lead water pipes. The Department of Health is fighting against us having that data, which we believe will show these people have been knowing for years that they’ve been poisoning Milwaukee children.

Why did he have to wait for someone like Dr. Marc Edwards to tell him he needs filters? It’s not as if the Mayor did not have someone on his staff with national credentials and experience and who understands the hazard lead presented to our children’s water supply all these years to turn to and ask: “Should we call on our citizens to use filters?”

Ms. Carrie Lewis, Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent “was the first woman in Wisconsin to receive the award for leadership and contributions to the advancement of the water works practice. She is also the recipient of the Wisconsin Water Association Research Award (2001) and the Milwaukee Business Journal’s “Woman of Influence” Award in the Public Policy category (2012).”

Lewis is a member of key and very influential national boards and is recognized as a leading voice regarding water utility issues and clean water.

Yet Mayor Barrett wants us to believe that Dr. Marc Edwards opened his eyes to the value of filters, something his water expert, Ms. Lewis, should have been telling him all these years. I’m supposed to believe filters wasn’t an idea to proceed with until only recently–and only after an outside expert said it is. Really! Is the Mayor inferring that he ignored his own inside expert to pursue the advice of an expert from outside of City Hall?

Not buying it buddy.

Lets be clear about something here. Mayor Barrett and his bureaucrats are trying to make it appear as if the dangers of lead pipes in Milwaukee is something new to them. The false sense of security they are pushing by calling for filters to be placed in the 70,000 homes with lead pipes is just that – false sense of security because it’s a short term band-aide effort. They should have done this years ago, had they planned to start removing those pipes.

The Mayor’s bureaucrats have witnessed a major lead pipe issue in 2003 when higher levels of lead were detected in the U.S. population, especially in children, in certain districts of Washington DC. Pipes at that time was an issue when it was found that when the city changed the disinfectant in the public water supply from chlorine to chloramine (chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia).

The rise of blood lead levels in the population then that used this water supply was caused by the leaching of lead from the interior of the lead pipes in Washington DC due to the change induced by chloramine that water utility decided to use.

So let’s stop playing games. The poisoning of Milwaukee families is on their hands. Because of their lack of concern for our health, thousands upon thousands of Milwaukee residents have been poisoned by lead water.

Mayor Barrett illustrates for us the perfect example of government gone corporate and politicians gone cheeky.

Barrett’s press conference was kabuki theater on steroids. First, stepping out of his office, he tells us instead of eating cake, we should buy filters to stop poisoning our families from the water the city is supplying us. No offer to help the poor.

Yet Mayor Barrett has plenty of help for billionaires wanting tax money to build an arena. Barrett on the other hand, is looking at every option possible not to spend money to remove these pipes, in order to protect Milwaukee families from lead water poisoning. SMDH

takingsideschangesThousands of Milwaukee’s residents may be drinking water that is contaminated with dangerous doses of lead. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows it; state and local governments know it; Milwaukee Water Works know it. The only people who usually don’t know it are those who are actually drinking the toxic water.

The problem stems from two common practices in which lead water pipes are disturbed because of street construction and a practice Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) does called “partial lead service line replacement”, in which MWW replaces sections of deteriorating lead service lines rather than the entire lines. It is a course of action that can do more harm than good.

It’s scary and the magnitude of this problem is huge.

Since the 1970s, lead has emerged as the most dangerous neurotoxin known to man, potentially damaging the developing brain and nervous system, causing life-long learning disabilities and other serious problems. It has been taken out of gasoline, removed from paint and banned from children’s toys. Yet practices developed to keep lead out of water, under an EPA rule, have backfired and can actually increase the hazard.

The Letter below is seeking from the city to stop partial lead service line replacements.
September 6, 2016

Honorable Tom Barrett
Mayor, City of Milwaukee
City Hall
200 East Wells
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Ref: Request for Moratorium of Partial Lead Service Line Removal – City of Milwaukee

Dear Honorable Mayor Barrett:

The Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) is requesting that partial lead service line removal currently being conducted by the Milwaukee Department of Public Works and the Milwaukee Water Works cease immediately.

FLAC is requesting that your office enact a moratorium on all partial lead service line removals in the City of Milwaukee based on the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) view the practice of partial lead service line removal to be dangerous and linked to higher blood lead levels in children.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study reporting direct evidence that partial lead service line replacements may cause elevated lead levels — not just in drinking water, but also in the bodies of children under 6 years of age.

According to the CDC study, “compared with children who had never had a lead service line, children having had a partial lead pipe replacement were at increased risk for increased (blood lead levels).”

The authors concluded that “the practice of partially replacing lead service lines as a method to comply (with the Lead and Copper Rule) should be reconsidered.”
To see study click link: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6104.pdf

In 2011, the EPA asked the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board (“SAB”) to examine the available scientific data regarding the effectiveness of partial replacement, instructing the Board to center its inquiry around five issues: associations between partial replacement and blood lead levels in children; water sampling data at the tap before and after partial replacement; comparisons between partial and full LSL replacements; partial replacement techniques; and the impact of galvanic corrosion.

The SAB submitted its findings in a September 2011 report. Regarding those five issues, the SAB found:

1. As evidenced by blood lead levels in affected children, there was “no demonstrable benefit” in having a partial replacement compared to having an intact LSL, and there is “suggestive evidence of potential harm” from partial replacements.

2. Partial replacements often cause significant increases in water lead levels at the tap for “days to weeks, or even several months,” and there is substantial evidence that the physical disturbance partial replacement entails results in the release of lead particles.

3. While full replacement of LSLs is a generally effective means of reducing lead levels in drinking water, “[partial replacements] have not been shown to be reliably effective” in reducing water lead levels.

4. There is a lack of evidence as to which procedures and techniques might make partial replacement more effective.

5. There is strong evidence that galvanic corrosion (described below) associated with partial replacement poses a risk of increased lead levels in tap water.

Overall, the SAB concluded,

Partial pipe replacements can physically shake loose lead fragments that have built up and laid dormant inside the pipe, pushing them into the water, and spiking the lead levels, even where they previously were not high.
See link to review study: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/sab_evaluation_partial_lead_service_lines_epa-sab-11-015.pdf

FLAC calls upon your office to direct DPW/MWW to cease partial lead service line replacements immediately, unless the city is removing all lead service lines from the curb to the home, the work of partial lead service line replacement should stop immediately.

Thank you for your attention to the matter.

Sincerely,

Freshwater for Life Action Coalition members:
Mr. Robert Miranda
Rev. Willie Brisco
Dr. Patricia McManus
Mr. Fred Royal
Ms. Laura Manriquez
Mr. Chris Johnson
Ms. Brenda Bell White
Min. William Muhammed
Mr. Bob Graf
Mr. Rodney Washington
Mr. Jesse Torres

cc:
Mr. Ashanti Hamilton, Milwaukee Common Council President

takingsideschangesWe have a problem not unique to Milwaukee, but a problem nevertheless. Milwaukee tap water is not entirely safe, especially for children and pregnant women.

We have a lead problem. Milwaukee’s older stock homes are affixed with a pipe known as lead service lines (LSL). These LSL bring water into Milwaukee homes that were built before 1951.

Anyone who lives in a home with lead pipes is at risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in a study that higher levels of lead in the water of these homes have higher levels of lead in them than previously thought.  Since Milwaukee has over 70,000 lead service lines before they were banned, lead is potentially leaching into the drinking water of thousands of children.

“There is no way you can consider water to be safe if you have a lead pipe and you have pregnant women or children under age 6 living in your home,” says Marc Edwards, a professor of environmental and civil engineering at Virginia Tech.

Edwards is the 2008 MacArthur genius grant winner who spent a decade uncovering massive spike lead levels in tap water in Washington, D.C., which was linked to possibly thousands of children being poisoned and the miscarriage rate rising substantially and exposed the tragic lead contamination that caused thousands of residents in Flint, MI to become sick.

What does lead do?

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage in children, leading to learning difficulties, aggression and high blood pressure. Lead poisoning often goes unnoticed because there are no symptoms, and problems often don’t appear until years after a child was exposed.

“Lead poisoning is one of those silent epidemics,” says Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths, professor of public health at Tufts University in Boston, who has advised the EPA on water quality for some time. “If you’re a young child, there’s no particular reason that you would know you’re being poisoned.”

A problem known for decades

Homes built before 1951 have lead service lines–lead pipes leading from the water main to the home, supplying the tap water. These pipes can rust and degrade, leaching lead into the water supply.

Milwaukee bureaucrats and the Mayor insist that  the water is safe. In fact, Carrie Lewis, Superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) and the Mayor state that MWW puts chemical compounds and additives in the water in order to reduce the corrosive effects of water on lead pipes.

However, one of those chemicals is proving to be a detriment to the fail safe treatment the city adds to the water to prevent leaching of lead from the lead pipes.

Chloramines is a combination of chlorine and ammonia and is used to provide increased protection from bacterial contamination.  It is a cheap chemical and the easiest of the options available to water utilities around the nation to do the job. MWW uses it because chloramine is stable and will last longer in the water system. Yet even though the use of chloramine is convenient, it is proving to be a chemical that contributes to unsafe water.

Studies indicate chloramine causes more rapid deterioration of the municipal infrastructure and degradation of valves and fittings. In Milwaukee water the use of chloramine is detrimental to lead pipes or components, causing lead and other metals to leach into drinking water. So because this chemical may not cost much, effective and stable, we can’t afford the consequences it produces.

Milwaukee Water Works Can’t Guarantee Safe Water

Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, a civil engineer at Virginia Tech and founder of Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, a group that’s been working to reduce lead levels in D.C. and a colleague of Dr. Marc Edwards states, “The assurances that you have been receiving from your water utility that say that your water meets or exceeds all federal safety standards–these assurances in no way should be interpreted as your water is safe to drink.”

That’s because in a July 2012 study from U.S. EPA showed that the way the water is being tested may be missing the high levels of lead that are actually there.

Up until February 2016, MWW followed EPA standards to the letter when testing water in the home. However, the testing MWW employed before the EPA updated testing standards in February of this year, ignored the fact that in homes with a lead service lines lead can be leaching into the water fairly consistently.

Dr. Marc Edwards notes that testing water in one instance may result in low levels of lead, but can in another instance suddenly spike because a small piece of lead rust falls off the pipe, causing lead level to rise in a blink of an eye without any warning.

Study author Miguel Del Toral, regulations manager for EPA region 5 based in Chicago states, “the public might be exposed to some very high lead levels and they don’t know it because [the way we’re sampling] is masking that.”

So even if your home’s water supply consistently tests low for lead, that can change in an instant, according to experts.

“You can collect 10, 20 samples of your water that show pretty low levels of lead–6 or 7 parts per billion, but then you might collect another sample where you’ve got 3,000 parts per billion lead,” said Dr. Edwards.

MWW states that flushing until your water is very cold will reduce the problem, but the EPA and Dr. Edwards say it will not eliminate lead from leaving. That’s because the infiltration of lead particles can be random and sudden, according to Dr. Edwards who also says flushing is neither practical nor safe.

“If I had a lead pipe, I would never trust the water in terms of lead just because of these particles that fall off,” Dr. Edwards says. “Drinking the water is like a game of Russian roulette.”

takingsidesContrary to public assertions, impoverished, politically enfeebled communities are hardly in a position to refuse water from private water companies’ monopoly because of poor service or bad water.

There can be no talk of privatization during this time of crisis. The focus of conversation by our elected officials and bureaucrats at City Hall must be on the complete and total removal of 70,000 lead water pipes supplying drinking water to Milwaukee homes.

takingsidesThe non-profit group, Public Citizen spearheading the Water for All Campaign, outlines the following arguments why privatizing water is not the direction governments entrusted with protecting public resources should turn to privatizing as a solution.

The removal of lead water pipes has provided reason for private water companies to stand poised to capitalize on the issue. Many of these companies are multinational corporations whose tentacles are probing the planet for opportunities to capitalize on issues such as lead service line removal as a way to profit.

Instead of protecting existing supplies, enhancing conservation efforts, helping vulnerable populations, curbing pollution and raising public awareness, more and more government officials throughout the country are turning to privatization; transferring the control of this precious resource from the public sector to the private sector.

To relinquish public control of our water utility is no underestimation to say that the very survival of our community could rest on decisions being made – largely behind closed doors – in corporate boardrooms and government offices loaded with profiteers concerned about keeping their investors happy instead of serving the public. With each drop of water that falls into the hands of private interests, any sustainable solution moves further and further from the public’s grasp.

Private sector water companies use rate hikes to maximize profits, which, by definition, is impacts their bottom line. This bottom line often comes at the expense of water quality and customer service, but not at the expense of maintaining inflated executive salaries. For the profiteers, handling water as a marketable commodity, rather than a basic human right and a natural resource, harms the poor who are often negatively impacted by corporate profit seeking decision makers.

The corporate agenda is driven by profit rather than the public good. In addition, privatization usually results in the compromising of environmental standards. Lobbyists who represent organizations like the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), which represents the U.S. private water industry, intensively and perennially lobbies Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to refrain from adopting higher water quality standards. The NAWC also persistently requests that all federal regulations be based on sound cost-benefit analysis, which once again means that public health is compromised for the sake of higher profits.

Corporations that run water utilities cut deals with governments guaranteeing exclusive water distribution rights for decades, effectively making them a monopoly. Once they have secured the contract companies are under little pressure to respond to customer concerns. A basic reality of how a monopoly works. Milwaukee already has a mammoth monopolistic company already, do we need more?

The very structures of privatization encourage corruption. Checks and balances that could prevent corruption, such as accountability and transparency, are missing at every step of the process, from bidding on a contract to delivering water. Contracts are usually worked out behind closed doors with the details often still kept secret after the contract is signed, even though it is the public that will be directly affected by the conditions of the contract. This situation opens itself up to bribery, which, if recent scandals throughout the world are any indication, is not an uncommon occurrence.

When water services are privatized, very little can be done to ensure that the company – be it domestic, foreign or transnational – will work in the best interest of the community. Furthermore, if a community is dissatisfied with the performance of the company, buying back the water rights is a very difficult and costly proposition. Again, the prime directive of the water companies is to maximize profits, not protect consumers.

There is a false perception that when water services are privatized, the financial burden will shift from the public to the private sector, which will save taxpayer money by assuming the costs of repairing, upgrading and maintaining infrastructure. In reality, taxpayers simply wind up paying for these projects through their monthly bills.

Massive layoffs often follow in the wake of privatization, as companies try to minimize costs and increase profits. At times, service and water quality are put at risk due to understaffing. As a result, layoffs can be devastating not only to the workers and their families, but to water consumers and local economies as well.

Once a government agency hands over its water system to a private company, withdrawing from the agreement borders on the impossible. Proving breach of contract is a difficult and costly ordeal. And multinational trade agreements provide corporations with powerful legal recourse.

takingsidesThe Milwaukee Water Works is a leader in the United States and recognized around the world as providing high quality and healthful drinking water. Our water works is a publicly owned utility of the City of Milwaukee; policy is set by the Mayor and Common Council. The utility is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for facilities, operations, and water quality; and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), for rates and accounting.

The Milwaukee Water Works employs hundreds of individuals paying wages that adequately support families. It tests for unregulated pollutants and compounds required by law and while the testing results have always shown that Milwaukee meets or exceeds federal and local water quality regulations, it still must improve on its testing efforts by creating policy that makes the utility go beyond what the EPA recommends. The problem with our water is not Milwaukee Water Works; the problem with our water presents itself when clean water is delivered through lead water pipes, some of which are over one hundred years old.

Rather than reintroduce the idea of privatization our local government officials should resist such option and not fall prey to the false narratives of private water advocates. It is important that all levels of our government continue to provide funding for water infrastructure so that everyone in Milwaukee and Wisconsin can have access to locally-managed, affordable, safe and clean drinking water service.

Private ownership of our water does not necessarily translate into improved efficiency. Private sector managers will adopt profit-making strategies or corporate practices that enhance bottom line schemes that will make services and affordability to the struggling families of Milwaukee difficult.

takingsidesThere have been subtle whispers emitting from City Hall about raising the prospect of privatizing Milwaukee drinking water as an idea to addressing the removal of the 70,000 lead water pipes contaminating the drinking water of Milwaukee citizens. Such talk is counter-productive and will be opposed if any city bureaucrat or elected official introduces privatization of Milwaukee water as a solution for addressing the removal of lead service lines.

Milwaukee visited such an idea once before in 2009 when City Comptroller Wally Morics, with the support of the Milwaukee Common Council, considered whether a long-term lease of the Milwaukee Water Works is one of the answers to the city’s budget nightmare.

At the time Morics argued that revenue “raised by a long-term lease, if invested in an endowment fund, would generate an estimated $30 million annually, which could be used to partially close a looming $90-$100 million yearly budget shortfall caused in large part by a cut in state shared revenues.”

Note that Morics did not mention removing lead service lines, he was more concerned with finding money for the city instead of addressing the removal of tens of thousands of ticking toxic water pipe bombs poisoning the children of Milwaukee.

Privatization is not the answer.

Given the fact that Milwaukee city leaders have known for decades that Milwaukee has a lead water pipe issue, it is of grave concern that city leaders and bureaucrats are once again whispering about the idea of privatization.

Let me be clear, water is essential for life. But increasingly, this vital resource for human survival is being viewed as a source of windfall profits by privateers working in government. This is unacceptable; access to clean water should not be based on who can pay for it. Water is a human right.

Therefore, standing in opposition to the commoditization of water in all forms is and will be part of our efforts to have these 70,000 lead water pipes removed from our drinking water system.

Corporations like Veolia or Suez – and their subsidiaries around the world, including in the United States – are seeking to profit off of managing local water systems that provide our drinking water and sewerage services. This is a recipe for disaster. Profits should not be the priority when it comes to providing water services to people, but that’s exactly what happens when private companies take over local systems.

takingsidesThe young man shot and killed by Milwaukee police, sparking violence and property destruction, was born in 1993. MPD Chief Flynn stated that the young African-American male had an extensive criminal record. He’s was in his twenties.

This young black male fits a profile, according to studies, of individuals who come from neighborhoods where high level of lead is in the blood of children. Lead is a neurotoxin that causes individuals to do poorly in school and increases violent and abnormal behavior in individuals poisoned.

Milwaukee city leaders have ignored lead toxic service lines passing on toxic water to our children for far to long.

Not soon after the violence broke out in Milwaukee, Johnny on the spot on FOXNews is Gov’na Scott Walker bellowing his plan to work with State Senator Lena Taylor, so that an economics growth initiative can begin to happen in Milwaukee’s Black community. Walker’s plan calls for DWD to coordinate with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment board.

What a bunch of Malarkey! First of all, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has no authority to get Earl Buford, president of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB) to do anything. MAWIB takes its orders from Mayor Tom Barrett.

Does anyone seriously believe Mayor Barrett is going to just allow Walker to come into Milwaukee to infuse cash to ignite economic stimulus in the Black community? Why would the Democratic Party give the Republican Party a crack at fighting poverty in an area the Democrats control? 

This is just another Gov’na Walker bamboozle to make believe he’s doing something so that he can increase ratings among moderate and independent Republican voters. His game will be to blame Mayor Barrett because he’s (Walker) not getting any support from Mayor Barrett. In reality, Mayor Barrett isn’t about to let the GOP ride into a Democratic Party strong hold and build an economic power base in the Black community threatening Democratic Party influence.

Unfortunately, caught in the middle of this game called politricks, Black families struggling with poverty everyday.

takingsides

As the City of Milwaukee and State of Wisconsin, have committed 151 million dollars of taxpayer money to the downtown streetcar and $250 million taxpayer dollars for a new Buck’s arena, the call for more police to secure our streets is being bellowed by the usual crowd of xenophobics. Billions of dollars spent on neoliberal development for down town over the past four decades, yet the black community unemployment rate rose during this development.

This is all taxpayer money that could go to city services that could have been spent on replacing lead lateral water pipes leaching lead in drinking water or dealing aggressively with drug addiction and job creation programs/projects. 

The philosophy that poor people are the problem and therefor should be dealt with by adding more police on the streets, is a bankrupt philosophy Democratic leaders of Milwaukee and Republican hardliners have pressed upon the community for years. Do elected officials deserve blame? Partly.

Calling for more police on the streets and enacting policies that remove resources from anti-drug addiction programs and shifting money away from infrastructure improvements, like removing 70,000 lead service lines, are policies of leaders who are inept and lack courage to pursue what Milwaukee needs to create stability in our neighborhoods.  We see the problem and the problem is us! We continue to vote for inept people because they dress well and reflect the skin color we relate too.

We celebrate Aldermen and Alderwomen because they dress sharp, ride big cars and have accomplished for themselves personal achievements that do nothing for the community they represent. Instead of voting for people with real comprehensive plans and vision for improving the quality of life for all of Milwaukee. We vote for them because someone likes them, instead of voting for them for what they present as solid and well thought out achievable public policy measures.

What is the plan? Mayor? Alderpersons? What is the plan to end unemployment? What is the plan to improve the city’s infrastructure? There are none. Why? Because our city elected leaders know that all they have to do to put everyone back to submission is to support feel good measures that put people back to sleep.

takingsides

8th Assembly District. Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) is reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to cite “the passage of a bill she co-authored allowing local distilleries to distribute small samples of their products to consumers as an important win allowing small businesses to compete with national brands”.

The argument that giving free samples in order to compete against national brands so that jobs can be created is completely unfounded. Zamarripa’s bill may contribute to increase sales and competition with distilleries, but that by no means implies more jobs will be created.

This is because the store would continue to ring the cash register without adding new workers until such time the volume of people or sales were to be so large that it requires more workers, which has not been estimated.

Second, more sales could mean using up current inventories without having to increase production of liquor. So current staffing levels at producing facilities are not shown to increase. More sales could actually be associated with more alcoholism which Zamarripa has not even considered.

Currently, there is no evidence this has created significant job growth in her district, let alone Wisconsin.

Zamarripa most likely supported this under pressure from the store liquor owners of the south side under guidance from the Tavern Association.

takingsidesWell, it’s the political season and once again and the Blue Dogs are out spreading misinformation about long time dues paying democrat Laura Manriquez – running for the 8th Assembly District – being supported by a right wing private voucher schools group called the American Foundation for Children (AFC). This action was once tried back in 2012 and proven false when Manriquez financial records at the GAB were released and showed no ties to AFC.

Several articles repeated this lie. They were proven false when Manriquez 2012 and 2014 campaign reports revealed no financial or direct in-kind links to AFC; or Manriquez receiving Teapublican money could be found.

But the truth as to who is parading around with AFC can be seen in this video.

https://www.facebook.com/miles.kristan/videos/ 10207191411404166 /

Yes, the pictures and confirmation showing Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa is much more cozy with operatives of Walker/Trump’s Republican Party than Manriquez ever was will be brushed off by the Blue Dogs. The lies the rats are spreading and the rumors and smears the Blue Dogs are dishing out against Manriquez, to deflect from Zamarripa’s coziness to American Foundation for Children and her Republican friend, who sits on the executive committee of Walker/Trump’s Republican Party in Wisconsin, will be ignored by these hypocrites.  Note: the 8th Assembly District is exploding with new openings of private voucher schools. I wonder way.

takingsidesSo it was learned yesterday that the city was notified that it would not be receiving a $20 million grant to provide an extension (of the not-yet-built streetcar line) north to the site of the future new Bucks arena.

Nothing to see here!

It hasn’t even been determined who will operate the streetcar.

How is it that somehow the City of Milwaukee can find $20 million here, or $30 million there for various projects, but when it comes to removing 70,000 lead lateral water pipes the Mayor’s people bellow it’s the property owners responsibility. Hmmm…we’ll see about that. I’m looking into whether or not the City of Milwaukee mandated that those lead pipes be laid to connect to the City water mains.

So without the $20 million for the extension, I wonder if Mayor Barrett will just go ahead and create another TIF (district) for the streetcar or move to remove poisonous pipes from our water system.

takingsidesI am not a supporter of State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa. So what I have to say is biased and should be taken as opposition to her being reelected.

Zamarripa has surrounded herself with a die-hard network of corporate democrats hell-bent on achieving one thing and one thing only–doing nothing.

To continue on with her nothing agenda Zamarripa, has resorted in past elections to label her opponent, Laura Manriquez as a Republican operative tied to pro-private voucher group American Federation for Children (AFC); a leading advocate organization for the expansion of private voucher schools.

And expansion of private voucher schools is what the AFC is getting in Zamarripa’s district. In the past few years the 8th Assembly District has witnessed an explosion of new openings of private voucher schools in Milwaukee’s near Southside. In fact, one of Wisconsin’s, if not the nation’s, largest private voucher schools is being built in her district at this time.

Zamarripa will say she has stood in opposition to the expansion of private voucher schools, but a video circulating in social media exposes Zamarripa for having accepted campaign money from leading Republican Hispanics and entertaining visits at her fundraisers by AFC representatives, namely Brian Pleva, a leading figure in the AFC movement. Imagine that, a Democrat taking money from leaders of the Trump Republican Party.

What Zamarripa has not stated about the private voucher schools expansion in her district is how it is contributing to the segregation of minorities in Milwaukee.

The Zamarripa campaign hoodwinked many naive democrats into thinking Manriquez, her opponent a couple of years ago, was part of the AFC anti-public education movement. However, That is a bold face lie. No one can find links between AFC and Manriquez, but they can be found between Zamarripa, AFC and pro-voucher Hispanic Republicans.

Zamarripa’s lack of public outcry against private school voucher expansion in her district betray the teacher’s union? How many Town Hall meetings has Zamarripa put together informing the 8th Assembly District of the devastating effects Governor Walker’s private voucher school program has on public education?

Clearly, the ties between Zamarripa and the pro-private voucher school networks in Milwaukee’s near Southside need to be reanalyzed by sources not tied to the current Hispanic leadership networks tied to Zamarripa; which are compromised and polluted with some racists Hispanics and some Caucasian Spanish speaking allies acting as progressives, working together to continue to segregate Blacks from attending public schools where majority of Hispanic and Caucasian children attend.   

Private voucher schools in the 8th Assembly District are more about separation of the races, than they are about education of the children. Zamarripa has never condemned or publicly discussed this as representative of the district. Curious that Zamarripa sounded off against racism when Leon’s Custard got called out for refusing to serve Spanish speakers, yet sits idle and silent while schools in her district become more privatized and segregated.

Zamarripa not only accepts money from Republicans, she accepts money from corporate democrats who have funded right-wing groups that worked to defeat the Scott Walker recall campaign.

Thad Nation of Nation Consulting and other Corporate Democrats are big financial backer of Zamarripa

Thad Nation was exposed last year by bloggers around the country for establishing astroturf type non-profit groups, and then under the cover of the group’s name, gave tens of thousands of dollars to anti-worker, anti-public education and pro-Scott Walker groups operating in Wisconsin; a very common practice by corporate democrats within the Democratic Party.

A corporate democrat is described as a person, or organization, affiliated with the Democratic Party that is heavily influenced, sometimes to the point of corruption, by big corporations and industry. Corporations and industry that include telecommunications companies, oil companies, real estate developers, insurance companies, big pharma, etc…There also are pejorative terms like DINO, Democrat In Name Only, too describe this kind of political posturing. There are slang terms that also describe this kind of political posturing but we will not bother you with those details today. Let’s just say it rhymes with “chores”.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is one of the groups Nation gave money to. AFP was at the epicenter of the anti-Scott Walker recall battle fighting to get Walker reelected. Nation is a big supporter of Zamarripa.

What Happened to LGBTQ Work

Zamarripa has championed LGBTQ issues since arriving on the Assembly floor after winning her first election. On many occasions she has made clear that LGBTQ issues are her foremost and top priority.

However, literature Zamarripa is passing around in the 8th Assembly District does not reflect her hard work advocating for same-sex restrooms and LGBTQ rights. Why is she trying to hide her role as a champion of the LBGTQ same-sex bathroom cause?

Her attempt to hide her LGBTQ work from voting constituents in the 8th Assembly District is cowardly. Zamarripa should highlight her LGBTQ work on her literature and show the community that she stands for same-sex bathrooms and LGBTQ rights.

Hiding this from the voters in her community, who rarely follow her politricks anyway, betrays a cause she has made her top priority to fight for. In short, not promoting same-sex bathrooms as one of her top priority issues in her literature shows her to be disingenuous and keeps the public uninformed.

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, at the Republican National Committee (RNC) proclaimed: ‘I’m Proud to be Gay’. So why is Zamarripa hiding her LGBTQ work from voters in the 8th Assembly community?

In sum, establishment Democrats and their allies, along with nonprofit groups that receive contracts through these corporate democratic networks, will support Zamarripa because she has shown that on the education front she is willing to stay in the shadows on the matter of private voucher choice schools segregation, rather than come forward to condemn and say it is unacceptable creating private schools so that brown and white students in Milwaukee’s 8th Assembly District can attend schools without Black children. And it is wrong for Zamarripa to hide from her literature her advocacy work to establish same-sex restrooms and protect LGBTQ rights. The public has the right to be informed about every aspect of the work she is representing us in.

takingsidesRecently, it was announced that Mike Grebe – the head of the Bradley Foundation – is not only poised to leave the Bradley Foundation, he also decided to give up his delegate position at the upcoming RNC convention.

To be clear, Mike Grebe is one of the most influential individuals in the Republican Party leading the conservative charge across the United States of America. Grebe, together with big donors like the Koch Brothers, are ultimately responsible for placing mediocre, incompetent, easily controllable people in offices and legislators, financing and supporting ultra right organizations; such as ALEC, and finally imposing their own vision of reality on the American people while retaining and accumulating wealth for themselves and in the hands of the few regardless of the negative impact on the many.

Using the resources made available by the Bradley Foundation, Mike Grebe became the lifeline of financial support to innumerable conservative organizations who agreed to impose their vision of America, and directly or indirectly supported organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council – which develops extreme conservative legislation that puppet Legislators across the nation then seek to implement.

Also, directly or indirectly, Grebe has advanced the control of the Republican Party across governors, legislators, at all levels of government.

It was Mike Grebe who propelled to office individuals such as Scott Walker, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson, and many others whose job is to advance the extreme conservative initiatives and corpoarte welfare practices that they are being told to advance.

To sum it up, Mike Grebe, together with other big donors like the Koch Brothers, are the shadowy culprits of the extreme conservative agenda and vision of reality being imposed by the Republican Party and its minions across the entire United States.

This same agenda has been causing the Republican Party to move away from its Lincoln roots. The emergence of Donald Trump as an anti-establishment candidate from within the Republican Party has upset all of Grebe’s plans.

No matter whether Trump wins or losses the general elections, the Republican Party’s mask has come off and the Republican Party as an organization as been exposed as the party of ineptness.

Average Republicans are angry. Change will not come easy for the Republican Party because their masters do not want to let go the practices that have allowed them to accumulate immense wealth at the expense of the rest of the population.

Moderate Republicans across the United States are angry at the establishments rigging of the economy, protecting the rich with unrestricted Tax Credits and corporate welfare without relation to job creation. At the same time radical Republican Trump supporters criticize those receiving public assistance, promote small government while maintaining a permanent state of fear and war that benefits specific special interest groups. The extreme elements of the Republican Party advance policies that prevent upward social mobility and which accumulate capital in the hands of the affluent few at the expense of the majority of the people.

Mike Grebe did well in giving up his delegate seat. Moderate and Independent Republicans across the nation have deeply rejected the policies and candidates Mike Grebe and his power elite have advocated for and placed in power. Mike Grebe knows perfectly well that if he went to the RNC convention he would have likely been called out and he would have had to face the public scorn of the Trump delegates and moderate Republicans as the quintessential representative of the Republican establishment.

Mike Grebe was probably advised that he would be confronted at the RNC convention. He did well to leave the Bradley Foundation as in the future this organization will likely face the wrath of Republicans across the nation for what they have done to average Republicans and the rest of the US population.

It is individuals such as Grebe, the Koch Brothers, Susan Hendricks and others who have placed incompetent yet easily controllable people such as Scott walker in office in order to have their agenda advanced and imposed on the rest of the populations.

One GOP official told me that “Republicans across the nation are revolting against the corruption, elitism, and racism advanced by Mike Grebe, the Koch Brothers, and the people they placed in power”.

When the Republican Party losses the presidency and the general elections, it does not have to look any further than Mike Grebe to blame. Donald Trump is but the representation of angry and disenfranchised white Republicans. Of course, Mike Grebe and the big donors are crying all the way to the offshore bank accounts about this.

The US separated from England because of the elite power England was imposing on the colonies. Grebe’s people seek to do the same as England had done and they have been doing it for a long time. Mike Grebe is no fool; he knows very well that the deterioration of the Republican Party away from its true Lincoln roots has been caused greatly by his actions and money through others. So rather than face the music for what he has done all these years, he has decided to run.

takingsidesOn Friday, July 8, 2016, I was notified by Wilbert Ramirez, currently occupying the property Miranda owns on the 5200 block of south 24th street, of an encounter with an inspector from the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) wearing a bullet proof vest and two armed Milwaukee Police Officers sent by city officials to look into an “anonymous” complaint about the property.

Ramirez notified me that the DNS and the two police officers were sent to the property because the south side 13th District Alderman Terry Witkowski asked that they look into a complaint filed by an “anonymous” individual charging that the property was in disrepair.

DNS informed Ramirez that it was “anonymously” reported that the grass was uncut, vehicles were parking on the front lawn of the property, shingles on the roof of the home were being ripped off by the wind and littering the block, “building materials” were being stored in the backyard of the property and complaints of “excessive public parking” of vehicles on the block.

The dragnet also sought to enter the garage of the property but was told by Ramirez that without a warrant, they were not allowed to look inside the garage.

I have been organizing a lead free water campaign in Milwaukee, helping form the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC).

Upon news of the visit by Milwaukee authorities I contacted the office of Terry Witkowski and spoke with a male who identified himself as Witkowski’s legislative aide.

Witkowski’s legislative aide informed me that one complaint was filed over a month ago regarding vehicles using public parking “excessively”.

I sent email communiqués to Alderman Bob Donovan, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee of the Milwaukee Common Council and Alderman Witkowski, a member of the Public Safety Committee, asking if sending armed Milwaukee Police to assist Neighborhood Services to investigate uncut grass, a roof allegedly in need of repair and a cluttered backyard is standard operating procedure and a wise use of police resources.

Ramirez stated that he was intimidated by the DNS and police officers coming onto the property, but held his ground when they started to ask about gaining access into the garage of the home. Ramirez stated that he denied them access until they produced a warrant.

The DNS and the armed police officers left the property without any citations or warnings being issued.

The incident comes hours after an open records request with the City of Milwaukee Department of Health Commissioner Bevan Baker asking for elevated lead blood data for children under 6 years of age living in the 70,000 homes identified as having toxic lead service laterals delivering drinking water to these homes.

The fact that two armed Milwaukee police officers were sent to do a neighborhood service inspection raises an eyebrow of concern. Is this proper use of police resources?

takingsides

“We have known about the problem with disturbing lead pipes and how that may increase the leaching of lead into the water for decades.” Ald. Bob Bauman

During the Steering & Rules Committee meeting on January 28, 2016, Alderman Bob Bauman declared that Milwaukee city officials should not consider the matter of lead service laterals an emergency. His justification at the time was that the City of Milwaukee has known for decades that construction projects around the city have disturbed lead pipes causing materials in the pipe to go into the water.

Ald. Bauman’s testimony that the city has known about lead getting into drinking water from disturbing lead pipes can be viewed here. His statement begins at approximately 1 hour and 23 minutes into the meeting. The link will allow you to skip forward to that time.

Alderman Bauman’s testimony may provide a brief glimpse into why city bureaucrats and Mayor Barrett’s office are reluctant to send city engineers to the various street resurfacing and sidewalk replacement construction sites in order to formally determine if the road construction is indeed causing lead pipes to be disturbed and if the leaching of lead in the drinking water is happening because of the road construction. They do not want confirmation.

Road construction proven to elevate lead levels in drinking water when engineers conduct testing

In Antioch, located in Lake County, IL on the border between Illinois and Wisconsin, they tested the drinking water in the most high risk homes, older built homes with lead pipe laterals, and found alarming high levels of lead in the drinking water; in some cases lead levels 18 times higher than the federally mandated limit.

They “knew something was very wrong” and were unwilling to stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that the problem did not exist.

The Director of Public Works of Antioch ordered the engineers to look into it and they discovered a pattern; they found that homes with higher lead readings were clustered near a massive street resurfacing project. The engineers deduced that the road construction was shaking loose phosphates that coat pipes to keep lead from leaching into the drinking water.

The City of Milwaukee also uses phosphates to coat pipes to keep lead from leaching into the drinking water.

Road construction often shakes homes, why believe lead service laterals aren’t shaking too?

Milwaukee bureaucrats and elected officials seem to ignore the urgency of removing lead service laterals from Milwaukee homes as evident by Alderman Bob Bauman’s comments that we don’t have an emergency issue in Milwaukee statement during the Steering and Rules Committee meeting in January of 2016.

It’s as if City Hall is the only place on earth that doesn’t understand that lead has been known to be poisonous for at least two thousand years.  Which could explain why bureaucrats seem to not quite appreciate how toxic it could be in the smallest of doses.

It was not until the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1986 that significant reductions in lead content of plumbing was mandated by law. Further limits on lead were enacted in 2011.

Because lead is such a toxic metal, it borders on negligence that our city officials and the bureaucrats that manage our water are unable to come to terms with the idea that if road construction projects can shake up houses, isn’t it logical that the same vibrations are disturbing these toxic lead water pipes?

Why did city leaders fail to inform homeowners and renters of the potential spiking of lead in drinking water that these road construction projects could manifest?

The Department of Public Works, the Milwaukee Water Works and Department of Health failed to ensure that families where many street construction projects took place were properly advised of ways they can reduce lead exposure in their homes. Instructions like cleaning faucet aerators, flushing pipes when water has been standing for a long time (e.g. overnight) and using a filter, weren’t provided to homeowners and renters before construction on Milwaukee streets began.

If the bureaucrats weren’t sure if vibrations would cause lead service laterals to leach lead in the drinking water, why didn’t they send city engineers to inspect and give their opinion on the matter?

Milwaukee has a public health crisis.

Emergency? We’re past that.