Scott Walker has been traveling the country desperately trying to convince voters that he is best suited to protect the United States from the evils of Russian President Vladimir Putin and ISIS terrorists because, y'know, he ran away from those 100,000 protesters.
Ironically, Walker has stopped calling the issue national security and has oversimplified it to one word - safety.
I say it's ironic because Walker's record on safety has not been very good.
As Milwaukee County Executive, Walker mismanaged the county's House of Correction so badly that it was slammed in a federal audit. Another audit, done by the county itself, found that the problem was Walker's false austerity:
The county audit shows that HOC was originally supposed to have been authorized for 349 guards in Walker's 2007 budget. He then remembered his one trick pony act, and decided to cut $1.5 million dollars from their budget. HOC ended up with only 318 correction officers. Due to this deficit in the work force, officers were forced to work up to 800+ hours of overtime, each, that year. A full 75% of that was forced overtime.
The cost for all that overtime was $4.2 million. That means for every dollar that Walker tried to save the tax payer, that same taxpayer ended up paying three times as much. How is that being fiscally responsible?
The audit goes on to recommend that the County hire on an additional 23 officers. This would cost $1.3 million, but would have more than half off set by the savings in overtime benefits.
Walker's response is not to hire all of the staff needed. Gotta save that money, you know. Well, not really. He is considering giving them a pay raise. (On a side note, while this is a good thing, odds are that Milwaukee County Corrections Officers pay will be still be way behind that of other counties across the state.)
These shortages created unsafe conditions for both inmates and guards. At this time, there were a streak of escapes from the facility, further endangering the unwary public.
Well, as they say, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And Walker is as poor of a student as anyone could find.
As governor, Walker has endangered public safety by mismanaging the Department of Corrections the same way he did as county executive. The results were predictable:
Columbia Correctional Institution, about 45 miles north of Madison, opened in 1986 on 110 acres of land on the outskirts of Portage. As a maximum-security facility, it houses some of the state’s most violent offenders. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was beaten to death in 1994 by a fellow inmate, was held there. CCI’s official operating capacity is 541, but overcrowding has been a perennial issue. The facility housed 839 inmates in 2014, according to its annual report for that year. In all, the prison employs 342 people, including guards, administration and civilian staff.
According to the 2014 annual report, CCI should have 233 sergeants and officers on staff. But the Department of Corrections reported that last May, CCI was 53 positions short, compared with 15 vacancies a year earlier.
All three guards interviewed for this report maintained that the number of open positions at the institution has at times exceeded 70. While the staffing shortage is most acute at CCI, other institutions are feeling the pinch as well.
Fox 11 News in Green Bay recently obtained records that show a dramatic increase in guard staff vacancies statewide since Act 10 became law in 2011. In 2010, Fox 11 reported, there were 88 full-time guard openings in the state’s correctional facilities. This past spring there were 403.
On top of that, Walker has decided to stop manning guard towers at night. What could possibly go wrong?
The staffing shortage has gotten so bad that the state is now offering extra overtime, mileage reimbursements and lodging to get guards to stay on the job and to attract new guards.
All of this raises the question that if Walker can't even maintain public safety in his own state, how are we to believe he could keep the whole country safe from external threats?