By Doug Hissom Special to Published Oct 22, 2010 at 1:06 PM

The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, its advertisers or editorial staff.

It took only two weeks for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker's camp to create a commercial exploiting the fact that the City of Milwaukee's new multi-million dollar radio system doesn't work.

The TV spot has a voice-over "police officer" saying cops' and firefighters' safety is in jeopardy because of the malfunctions.

Maybe so.

And it certainly plays right into the fear strategy campaigns use to galvanize support. The Barrett camp for months has been saying Walker can't be trusted based on his track record as county executive.

The latest Walker spot coincides with a mass e-mail paid for by the Walker camp signed by representatives from the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Firefighters Union, two unions that have typically backed Republicans from the get-go.

"Each day for the past six years, we have had to face perilous situations with a lingering doubt. When we, and our brothers and sisters in uniform, push the button on our radio to call for help, we aren't always sure anyone will hear us. That's because for six years, Mayor Tom Barrett has not come through on a promise to keep us safe while we are keeping you safe," reads the missive, supposedly from Dave Seager of the firefighters union and Mark Buetow of the police union.

"Officers with the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments have had consistent problems with the radio system, called Open Sky, noting dead spots and other issues. Officers involved in incidents at schools, caught in high speed chases, even an officer who was shot while serving a search warrant were all unable to call for help!" the two reps contend.

The Fire Department hasn't used the radio system at all because it isn't ready for them in the first place.

The same day the ad was unveiled, Police Chief Ed Flynn was in front of the Common Council Finance Committee defending his budget request and the radio system. He doesn't see the system, which was initially budgeted at about $15 million, but now has a price tag of $18 million, as over budget. He said, rather, the city kept adding amendments to the contract, which added to the cost.

"Neither you nor the police department has anything to be apologetic about," the chief told aldermen.

Barrett, who had nothing to do with buying the system at all, apparently does, according to Walker supporters.

Earlier this week, when the Fire Department was defending its budget, firefighters union representatives were queried by Ald. Michael Murphy about their support for Walker.

Murphy asked the reps why they would support Walker when he is certain to cut local aid that goes to fire fighting and police protection -- almost a certainty since Walker has actually vowed not to raise taxes or increase the state budget if elected.

The union reps were tight-lipped saying that they hadn't talked with Walker about the details of what he'd do in the governor's mansion.

Where's Ryan? Former Cudahy Mayor Ryan McCue was bounced from office last April, but he's landed on his feet in the metropolis known as Wautoma. McCue will be running the city of about 2,000 with the title of city administrator/clerk-treasurer. Overseeing a $1.5 million budget, 16 full-time and four part-time employees, McCue will be paid upwards of $70,000, which should put him on the good side of the tracks in a town like Wautoma.

But in August, McCue told the Common Council that he was having a hard time finding a house for his brood of six. He said four bedroom homes were hard to come by. The Common Council told him he had to make a good faith effort to live in the city, but could live outside the city limits within range of the city's residency requirement, which apparently covers parts outside of town as well. The Council gave him nine months to get some shelter.

What's in a name? The Wisconsin elections board refused to let a Milwaukee candidate list "not a white man's bitch" as her party affiliation on the ballot, but in Illinois it seems all things white is alright.

Rich Whitney is the Green Party candidate for governor in the flatlander state. But he found that his name was misspelled on the voting machines in 23 wards in the City of Chicago. The touch screens listed Whitney's name as ... "Rich Whitey."

No word yet if that's going to get him any more votes. Next time he'll likely list his name as "Richard." Whitney says he is contemplating legal action to force a fix.

AARP carping: An interesting commercial of late from the American Association of Retired Persons states that AARP "doesn't recommend (insurance) plans."

Either the group forgot or it's trying to change its image, since AARP was a key backer and lobbyist for a change in Medicare during the Bush administration. That change created the so-called "doughnut hole," which has mired millions of retirees in serious medical debt. The Medicare change penalizes middle class retirees with thousands in bills that they didn't before. Perhaps AARP is gun-shy now that its desired result has wrecked havoc across the senior landscape.

Doug Hissom Special to
Doug Hissom has covered local and state politics for 20 years. Over the course of that time he was publisher, editor, news editor, managing editor and senior writer at the Shepherd Express weekly paper in Milwaukee. He also covered education and environmental issues extensively. He ran the UWM Post in the mid-1980s, winning a Society of Professional Journalists award as best non-daily college newspaper.

An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.

He lives in Bay View.