The ability to talk about race is behind OnMilwaukee's plan to stage an ongoing series of Milwaukee Talks, focused on honest, frank and unedited discussions on the issues of equality and justice with a wide variety of the stakeholders.
That kind of conversation can be nothing but helpful as the hope remains that this city will, at long last, come to grips with this problem and try to solve it.
There is one more thing that’s important to the healing process, and that’s the concept of dreams. We all have to dream what will help, both small dreams and big dreams.
Here’s my list of ten big dreams. Some will cost a lot of money; some come free. But there is an incalculable cost to doing nothing or just nibbling around the edges of a problem.
1. Put two adults in every K-8 classroom in Milwaukee Public Schools
The research is clear that the effectiveness of having two adults – teachers or a teacher and a paraprofessional – can work magic on achievement levels for students. One of the clearest indicators of success is the significant drop in disciplinary difficulties in classrooms.
2. Put two police officers in every squad car
Safety of police officers is critical to allowing them to be effective both in solving and handling crimes and in prevention efforts. We want our cops to be confident when they are on the streets so that they can have a smoother path to establishing relations with the community they serve. With safety comes confidence for a cop.
3. Have government partner with a grocery store to open drop-in stores all over the central city
Fresh foods and healthy choices at reasonable prices. It has both an educational and nutritional component. The city could provide the space in vacant properties, and Pick 'n Save or some other local grocery brand could operate them. Dozens of little stores throughout the community.
4. Get hyper-aggressive recruiting companies to locate in the city
Use tax incentives as well as government underwriting job-specific training programs for each company. Milwaukee is great at soliciting and making it easy for developers to build apartment buildings. The same energy should be applied to establishing companies that employ people. Establish common zones where companies with symbiotic tasks can be located together like tool and die work with metal stamping companies.
5. Create satellite sites for MATC
Create satellite sites for MATC to spread job training programs tailored to specific jobs and get employers to participate in funding the sites. Provide bus passes to enable students to get to the training sites.
6. Create child care centers for parents who are in job training programs
Facilities should be operated under the supervision of established and certified social service facilities to avoid fly-by-night operations springing up.
7. Ban all guns in the city
To avoid the wrath of hunters, create area armories where hunting rifles can be kept and checked out during hunting seasons. Target ranges can also be set up to allow on-site target shooting as a recreational activity.
8. Find alternatives to mass incarceration
Let’s create many more alternative sentencing programs for certain crimes and violations. Make compulsive job training a requirement for the alternative programs and enlist the support of companies so that there is an actual job waiting once training and supervision end.
9. Mentor at-risk youth
Mentoring at-risk youth is a common and proven practice that is widely endorsed. Milwaukee should establish a family mentoring program for at-risk families. There are families in Milwaukee who would benefit from this kind of mentoring, the kind of examples set by functional families. We could have a family-matching program.
10. Get on board with the world of technology
Create a municipal Wi-Fi system and work with a computer manufacturer to provide computers at low cost to families who can’t afford them.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.