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Money crunch should heal broken partnerships

By Joe Lanane

Last week, I naively asked one Milwaukee city employee about the city’s working relationship (and vice versa) with the county.

“The two have historically not worked together,” I was told.

I ask: “Why not?”

What previously proved effective no longer works (insert – “in these economic times”), and I’m not certain the non-existent relationship was ever successful.

Gubernatorial elections aside, there has never been a higher need for government efficiency. Milwaukee County and the city failed to effectively set tensions aside to develop the Park East corridor or repair the MacArthur Complex.

There is not another city-county relationship more strained in Wisconsin, and local residents are the ones who suffer most.

“Unless we are all comfortable with the notion of having fewer services and lower quality services, one solution explored is greater sharing of government services,” said Rob Henken, president of the local think-tank, Public Policy Forum.

Henken said there are more recent examples of city-county partnership than what existed previously.

“There is more activity going on today than there has been in the past because of the very fact that virtually every local government and school district has some significant financial challenges,” he said.

There is a unique opportunity to ensure the O’Donnell Park parking structure location is utilized to its maximum potential. This county-owned property is far too significant to Milwaukee for city officials to not be involved. City officials should strive to not be a road block to county success.

Whether O’Donnell is redeveloped or repaired to satisfaction, resources should be combined to guarantee the best possible outcome.

The governor’s election is only one month away, but the problems facing Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will linger for years unless partnerships are reached.

Joe Lanane is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He envisions the city and county working together. He also envisions cats and dogs living together and Republicans and Democrats working together.

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