Saturday, July 31, 2010

Group Think

I have been stewing over a commentary written the other day by Racine's Fair Housing Director Morris Reece. Read it here.

Morris was reacting to an incident in Raymond where racist graffiti was "inscribed" on the fence of an interracial couple, he African American, she Asian. Morris wrote "We know these types of racist groups do not exist in a vacuum."

To the best of my knowledge, there is not a shred of evidence that the vandalism was committed by more than one person, much less a group. But Morris is convinced apparently that not only was this the act of a group, but that there must be other groups since such a group does not operate in a vacuum. In other words, there are multiple racist groups operating in and around Raymond. This is an irresponsible smear on the good citizens of Raymond, who, according to a previous JT article on the subject responded appropriately to the incident, condemning it while offering support to the victims.

Why would Morris suggest, absent any supportive evidence, that there are multiple racist groups operating in our area? I can't be sure but I will note that Morris would not have a job as Fair Housing Director if not for the perception of persistent mistreatment of minorities. As such, Morris has a financial incentive to promote the notion that we are plagued by racist groups. Moreover, I am troubled that someone who must evaluate racist intent for a living, and dish out penalties accordingly, would reach such a conclusion absent any supporting evidence. His essay ought to disqualify him from his job.

And finally, has Racine solved all its problems? Is an isolated racist incident in Raymond worthy of comment when we hear little or nothing from him concerning more serious problems in Racine's black community? We know there are problems with "groups" in Racine. They are called gangs and in addition to vandalism they are engaged in selling drugs and shooting at each other.

All in all, I think Morris should focus more on real groups that are operating in Racine and less on those operating in his imagination.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Discriminate or Else

In the past week or so I have talked to numerous "deciders" of the fate of Park 6 owner Thomas Holmes and his liquor license. I will concede that the city has a very tricky problem on their hands. Among the problems is that Holmes himself has not been accused of any violations of liquor or other laws. Even so, Holmes may lose his liquor license because of problems that his customers are causing in and around the bar. Almost without fail, the "deciders" note that Holmes is literally inviting trouble to his bar and the area via his marketing efforts, and that this is enough of a reason to revoke his license. Ultimately though, it is not who you market to that matters but who shows up, and it is rather obvious that the "deciders" are not altogether thrilled with Holmes' clientele. For the record, the "deciders" have a point here, as Park 6 customers are a drain on the city's police resources. Here is why I have a problem with some of the "deciders": they don't like Holmes' customers but they won't publicly define and identify the people they consider problematic. The reason is rather obvious because the problematic customers (as well as the benign ones) are virtually all black. If the city were to create an ordinance wherein they attempted to identify and define the type of people that they don't want in or around Racine bars, well, we all know that this would soon be national news and the City of Racine would be slapped with a discrimination lawsuit by the federal government. So instead the city is using liquor license leverage to hand the problem over to the bar owners. Instead of having an official city policy that requires bars to refuse "problematic/often black" customers, the city has a wink wink nudge nudge policy that requires bars to discriminate or lose their license. If I were Holmes, I would argue that the city has created a de facto policy that requires bar owners to discriminate against "problematic" customers, many or all of whom are black. The city is putting bar owners in an impossible position. If they refuse to serve a thuggish looking black person, they risk getting sued. If they serve thuggish looking people and said thugs cause problems, they risk losing their liquor license.

A better approach in my view would be to partner with bars in fighting crime. Don't penalize bars for the crimes committed by customers. Crack down on people who commit crimes, not on those that serve them. And lastly, recognize that there is no utopian solution to this problem. If you close down one bar, the people causing problems will simply move on and cause problems at the next one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mystery Solved

Yesterday I heard that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was having a third hand surgery. Now I know how they (politicians) are able to shake hands, grasp your upper arm, and still reach for your wallet.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Education Talk

Channelling their inner Obama, the Journal Times has declared that the time to talk is over and that we must have action, now, to "fix the state's broken method of paying for public schools."

OK, does anyone really think the public education/media complex just wants the education funding method tweaked? Sorry folks, thats just code for we want to raise taxes even more, and then some. Besides, the "method" for funding schools is just fine. An abundant quantity of cash has been delivered year after year, raising at rates far in excess of the rate of inflation. But enough is never enough.

Rather than focus on the method for paying for schools, which isn't broken, the focus should be on the method of educational delivery, which most definitely is broken. Is a bloated, union dominated government bureaucracy the best method for education delivery? Hell no!

But the Journal Times doesn't want to talk about our broken education delivery system. Forget about action.