'Open the borders' = Screw the city | WisCommunity

'Open the borders' = Screw the city

One of the reasons Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett ran for governor last year, one theory goes, was that he knew how bad his job would be if Scott Walker became governor.

It's certainly playing out as feared.  Walker seems determined to kill the city of Milwaukee by 1,000 cuts -- and not just budget cuts.

Some provisions of his state budget would eliminate the requirements that Milwaukee police officers, firefighters, and teachers live in the same city where they work.

It is not unreasonable to ask people who are paid by city taxpayers to live in the city and pay taxes themselves.  

If they want to work for the city, why not live in the city? 

That is especially true for police officers, who should not become some occupying army of suburbanites who come in to police city residents.  Their presence in neighborhoods does help stabilize them and keep them safe, and also makes them available if needed in an emergency situation that requires rapid response and mobilization.

But the presence of public employees of all stripes -- teachers, cops, nurses, clerks, truck drivers, you name it -- also adds to the city's stability and economy.  Their middle class incomes help keep Milwaukee afloat.

In a wrong-headed the Journal Sentinel not only endorses Walker's budget proposals but say they don't go far enough -- why not free every government worker in the state from residency requirements? 

The most important argument, the newspaper says, is that employees should have the freedom to choose where to live.  They have that choice now, of course -- just as they have the right to decide where to work.  No one forced them to take those city jobs and benefits -- which are now being wrongly portrayed as so cushy -- but they knew when they applied for and took the jobs that the strings attached included residency requirements.

This is likely to pass, at least for Milwaukee, because lawmakers of both parties have always seemed willing to stick it to Milwaukee.  Now the newspaper -- many of whose editors have fled the city themselves -- has joined them.


March 15, 2011 - 9:00pm