Monday, February 20, 2006

What Public-Private Partnerships Really Mean

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett gave his State of the City address today. The major theme: partnerships.

There is an important difference between the true partnerships proposed by Barrett and the privatization efforts proposed by Scott Walker in his State of the County address a couple of weeks ago.

Barrett is looking to stabilize public finances through forging joint relationships with area businesses. One example of this is the partnership between the city and Columbia St. Mary's Hospital to work collaboratively on public health initiatives. Another example is the city's agreement with Midwest Fiber Networks, which is building a wireless network for the city.

Walker, on the other hand, is looking to sell off Milwaukee County's public obligations to the highest private bidder--hardly the makings of a true partnership. Rather than investigate creative ideas for solving the parks budget defecit, for example, Walker vetoed the formation of an investigative County Board-supported commission, choosing instead to move forward with ideas to privatize management of the parks and maintenance staffing.

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