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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Calm waters, Milwaukee. (PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo )

Finding the good in local government


One of the easiest things to do is to find something wrong and then run out and criticize a local government about it.

Pick a service government is supposed to deliver and finding something to rip is almost too easy. Lord knows I've done more than my share.

So I think it's only fair (and being fair is important to me, believe it or not) to occasionally give a nod to stuff that people do for citizens that makes life a lot easier. I've spent several minutes actually thinking about the good stuff and want to take this opportunity to say thanks or congratulations or good job. Here we go.

The city has finally gotten on the ball and started to repair streets that looked and felt like you were driving on an Afghanistan road after a Taliban bombing. The public works department didn't rebuild any roads, but rather just trimmed them down and covered them with smooth asphalt. The roads run great and they keep on trying to do more and more of them. The powers that be deserve credit.

The city has lots and lots of property, as does the county. I took a couple of drives around town and also keep checking on my area. Government has done a wonderful job cutting the grass and keeping the grounds clean.

Milwaukee's parks, especially the county parks, get lots and lots of use during the summer and I am constantly amazed at a couple of things. One is that people in Milwaukee are pretty neat. I constantly see people wrapping their leftover stuff and putting it in trash cans.

And for those places where the inconsiderate just leave stuff on the ground, it doesn't take long for some municipal worker, in many cases a kid on a summer job, to show up and pick up the trash. Take a look at our lakefront, for example. It is pristine almost every moment of every day.

Speaking of trash the guys (I've never seen a woman doing this work, but there may be some) who pick up the garbage every week do a great job. If you've ever been in cities like Chicago or Pittsburgh or New Orleans you've seen a place where the garbage in the trucks is sometimes matched by the garbage left on the ground. The people who handle our stuff deserve credit although I'm still mixed up about whether we should be using those recycling carts or not.

Here's one I hate to mention, but I guess you could say the city is doing a good job handing out parking tickets. In the last three weeks I've gotten two tickets at places where I have been inside for less than five minutes. Once in front of a Walgreens on Oakland and the other in front of Comet Cafe on Farwell. If I didn't know better I'd say the parking checkers were laying in wait for me. I hate getting tickets, but the checkers are effective for the city coffers.

Dog parks have been a while coming but the county has begun to realize that dogs really are man's best friend. For years there has been a square block empty piece of land that was rumored to be contaminated and people were warned, again by rumor, not to let their dogs run loose or they would die from some unnamed poison. Well the county just proved that rumor false by putting up a brand new fence with those special gates for dogs, naming the dog park and even putting up some benches for folks to sit on while their dogs frolic. It's good for the dogs and it makes for neighborliness, too.

County Executive Chris Abele was handed a real mess when he took over and saw what was going on at the Mental Health Complex. It wasn't easy fighting entrenched forces, but he realized that some of our most vulnerable citizens needed better care and moved to clean up the mess. He's not done, but it makes me feel good to know that someone actually cares about people who suffer a variety of mental problems.

I'm also going to give some props to Mayor Tom Barrett. Some people criticize him for a lack of passionate leadership, but he's a quiet guy.To be honest I'm grateful that he has a steady hand on the tiller of government. We don't have huge crises that get blown out of proportion. We may not be Silicon Valley exciting but we don't create waves, either. I like a little calm in my life.

And finally we have playgrounds. They dot the city, some small and some larger, some city and some county. They are invariably clean and safe, two things you want if you are either a parent or a grandparent. It's nice to know that government, in this case MPS' Recreation department, cares about little kids.

There you have it. Me being nice to government. Now, back to my normal world.

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