A small amount of human error and a larger dose of overwork and under-staffing is, I am convinced, responsible for the non-callback to Brittany Zimmermann's cell phone call the day of her death on April 2.
Let's get off the dispatcher's case. Her job is stressful and she did it well for 20 years.
Because the issue is larger than the 9-1-1 center. The issue is our commitment level to law enforcement itself. If we don't build up our policing agencies, if we don't build the infrastructure to keep the bad guys off the streets, we can all be tapping 9-1-1 madly on every cell phone and landline in creation.
That is why you should show your concern for public safety by attending the listening session called by Dane County Supervisors Jack Martz, Eileen Bruskewitz, and Ronn Ferrell. When? Monday, May 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. Where: the Fitchburg Community Center, adjacent to the city hall on Lacy Road (east off Fish Hatchery).
Kathleen Falk has already signaled she has other plans or, I'm sure, she would be there in a New York minute. County Board Chairman Scott McDonell, refusing to hold his own listening session, is trying to short-circuit this one. But, if nothing else, every law enforcement professional, every union member, every family, ought to turn out to show that public safety is, and must be, Job One.
Drain the swamp
It starts, folks, by draining the swamp. It's the broken window theory proven by Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton in New York City: today a broken window, tomorrow a crack house. It is all about stopping the slippery slide into chaos and anarchy.
Perhaps it is mere happenstance that, first, Joel Marino and then Brittany Zimmerman were slaughtered in their own homes in downtown neighborhoods. Perhaps. But I don't think so. That is where Madison Police Lt. Joe Balles has identified the Creeping Charlie takeover of a "predator" class of what he calls transients, what I call vagrants.
Or we can lock and load. Is that what The Kathleen wants?
But not "encourage responsibility"?
Instead, we have a new coalition in Madison. Now, this being Madison, a coalition is likely to break out at any time. This one, like so many before, is going to "speak out and take action against the dehumanizing effects of poverty." Never mind that many of us are or grew up poor and are proud, not bitter (Obama to the contrary). Too bad they won't take action against the dehumanizing effects of substance abuse.
Let's all welcome the Dane County Coalition to Fight Homelessness and End Poverty. I shall permit the always-credulous Patricia Schneider of the ethereal Capital Times to describe its nascence:
The coalition grew out of concern by agencies serving the homeless that homeless people were being stigmatized and scapegoated in some local media, especially Blaska's Blog...
Correction, liberals. Not "homeless people." Not people down on their luck who are trying to get back on the straight and narrow. The term is vagrants -- a predator class that is transient and who threaten, harass, intimidate, and befoul the public spaces and, apparently, some private spaces as well.
What: As coalitions are wont to do, this one is holding an educational summit for the public.
When: Thursday, June 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Avenue. Your Blaska blogger will be there, assuming he can find parking. I might even show up sober.
Operation Enable Park Shelter Squatters
Folks, get out the hankies and be ready to squirt some salt water. This is your tearjerker alert! Overwrought journalism ahead:
A dozen of them sit huddled together against the chill on a recent Friday in the Brittingham Park Shelter -- schooled in bracing against the wind by stints of living on the street -- to hear about the neighborhood's reaction to their presence.
Yes, Patricia Schneider is back at her stall, vending lachrymose pity. The press agent for the homeless enablers is huddling with the wretched masses yearning to breathe free -- and score some hooch. In their midst is our friend Kristen Petroshius whom, the journalist informs us, is not homeless herself.
Yes, Kristen has cobbled together her own power base, an organization called "Operation Welcome Home," described as "an emerging self-help organization for the homeless" -- 100 of whom had driven families out of the neighborhood park by squatting in the park shelter, even to the point of bringing sofas and stereo equipment to facilitate their carousing.
Here are the Cliffs Notes on Operation Welcome Home:
- Bad: Porchlight Inc. and its operation of the homeless shelter at Grace Episcopal Church downtown? Too strict. "We do have some fairly strict policies as it relates to intoxication," Porchlight's Steven Schooler acknowledges.
- Good: Wet shelters. Operation Welcome Home wants them. "Wet" means you can get stinking drunk and it's O.K. No need to change your behavior. You have been dehumanized by poverty.
- Bad: Social workers. "Social workers don't want to give up any power to clients." Good thing that Kristen Petroshius is just a busybody, not a social worker.
- Good: Involving "the homeless" in deciding their own social services. Problem: they're not too good about attending meetings, especially when they are "wet." And if they have such good ideas why aren't they doing them?
- Bad: Surveillance cameras at Brittingham Park. No one asked "the homeless" if they agreed to the cameras.
- Good: Deferred prosecution for committing crime.
- Bad: Stepped up police patrols, also planned for the park without consulting "the homeless."
Quote of the week:
My canary in the coal mine is a mother with a kid in a stroller. I say if she doesn't feel safe in the park, we've got a problem. So, if you cannot or will not behave in the park, you've got to go. -- Bill Barker, chairman of the Madison Parks Commission.
- Bad: Bill Barker
Welcome home someplace else
Well, this is rich! Brenda Konkel really does believe in keeping order in the public square. When it's her neighborhood, not yours. Brenda writes:
A mentally ill person who killed his sister 23 years ago has been ordered by a court to be released to a neighborhood I represent and it's right between two parks and a school. Understandably, the public is upset....
... Some in the neighborhood feel that we have an unfair share of group homes and we can bring maps that show that information. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else we can do. And I'm quite certain that many people will walk away from the meeting extremely frustrated because they do not get the answers to many of their questions. But, we can have a meeting. And be frustrated.
You think you're frustrated?
The happy denouement: The halfway house service provider canceled the placement. Perhaps now he'll have room for Operation Welcome to the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood wet shelter, where it's always happy hour!
Now, let's return to the shutterbug whose stunning photographic record of the misery of what he calls the State Street Family is countered by his absolute cluelessness. Duh!
Glenn Austin's camera captured the denizens of Peace Park on State Street doing what comes naturally: drinking and pissing, cursing, exposing themselves, fighting, resisting arrest, panhandling, and intimidating passers-by. And those are the good guys, according to Austin! Yes, they are victims -- the holiest caste in the liberal cosmography.
You can guess who the bad guys are:
I believe that our society created these people. We have cut our welfare programs, hired more police, and built more prisons. American companies have become so greedy that they don't care what happens to the people they employ. We have done practically nothing for the poor and the homeless.
That is why Mr. Austin advocates the immediate guilt payment of -- cue Michael Meyers' Dr. Evil with pinkie finger curled to mouth -- One Million Dollars!
They aren't going to go away unless the city throws a little bit of money at the situation. I think a million dollars would make a lot of difference.
Gee, that sounds like blackmail! Hey, for one million large, Blaska's Blog will go away! Deal or No Deal? Show me the money! God bless America.
Currency only, please. No change given.
If you must give something to a panhandler, the police recommend food coupons instead of money. But not Mr. Austin:
Give money to panhandlers. Our society doesn't do much for the poor so give them the money directly. No they don't just use it on drugs and alcohol, they mostly use it to buy food. Consider it a small tax.
They don't use it on drugs and alcohol? Then what is up with this poor dear?
Here is Austin's entire website: incurred the wrath of Ben Manski for enforcing the law. Ben, of course, like most on the Hugo Chavez/John Nichols end of the political spectrum, must resort to blatant racist appeals to mask his lack of intellectual rigor. People of the Left: Do you really want the police to determine which laws they will or won't enforce?
Write this on the blackboard: Legal immigration is legal; illegal immigration is not. (Must be the corpus callosum thing again.)
Now, back to that bet: Please, Sheriff Mahoney, I'm too pretty for jail.