Milwaukee Police, Firefighters Support Walker
MILWAUKEE - Members from the Milwaukee Firefighters Union and Police Association are backing Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.
A new ad highlights consistent problems with the radio system Open-Sky, problems they say Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Barrett should have taken care of.
"Here every second counts. Lives depend on it.
Milwaukee Firefighters Union member Dave Seager, who appears in the ad, says that the vital piece of communicating equipment is just not working, risking lives and costing taxpayers a lot of money.
"If our radios fail us, no one is safe."
Mark Buetow with the Milwaukee Police Union agrees. Both blame Barrett.
"This is a stack of reports on troubles with that system," said Buetow. "Any true leader, no matter who that is, is going to pick up the ball and run with it. When it's a project of that magnitude, millions and millions of dollars, it's just a lack of leadership."
Mayor Barrett was not the city's chief executive when the Open-Sky contract was purchased, but the men claim Barrett should have stepped in and fixed it.
"He's responsible, he's the mayor, there's no one else to blame," explained Buetow. "He is the mayor of the city, the CEO. If there's a problem, the manager, business owner, leader handles the situation...it falls directly on his shoulders."
In the past, both Police Chief Ed Flynn and the mayor's office admit there are problems with the radio system, but they continue to make improvements, and standby the decision to keep the system.
At a Common Council budget hearing Wednesday, Flynn defended Open Sky and Barrett. He criticized Walker for making the issue political, calling it a "false issue."
Flynn told the Council that the system is safe and is better than the previous analog system. "No complex, technological communications system is going to go off without a hitch. We've had hitches and we've fixed as many as have come up," the Chief said.
Barrett claims the police and fire unions are angry with him for making tough budget cuts and for pushing a state law that allows cities to stop paying police officers who are fired.
"Public safety has always been my top priority, but I've had to make responsible fiscal decisions," he said.
Barrett added that while Milwaukee police and fire unions support Walker, statewide unions support him.
In the meantime, Seager and Buetow say this system is putting first responders at risk everyday.
The new Walker ad starts airing statewide on Wednesday.