At today’s meeting of the Milwaukee County Board a motion to approve a resolution to take $150,000 of the county’s contingency (emergency) fund to pay for a study to determine if the county should return to an in-house system of providing meals to inmates at correctional facilities rather than continue to contract with a private company received 10 votes in favor and 7 opposed. The resolution required a two-thirds vote or 12 votes to pass, so it failed.
I’m about to post a statement that I wouldn’t have dreamed of making several years ago.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor is a breath of fresh air on the Barnum and Bailey’s bunch that is the Milwaukee County Board.
A classic example is an item that will come before the full board at its meeting Thursday. In a nutshell there’s a resolution that would return food services for those housed in the House of Correction, County Jail/Criminal Justice Facility, and Detention Center at the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center to in house county staff as opposed to the current private sector provider. The resolution calls for spending $150,000 from contingency (emergency) funding to retain a consultant to study how the county could make the transition.
The measure was debated at last month’s board meeting but held over until Thursday’s (July 28) meeting.
Supervisor Ryan Clancy, an admitted Socialist, is the author of the resolution, and at the last board meeting was a bleeding heart for inmates.
At a visit to the House of Corrections in Franklin Clancy said he had “the worst meal of his life.” Clancy showed his colleagues a picture taken at the HOC of a vat he said “looked and smelled like vomit. This is what we’re serving folks in our care. It is horrific, unrecognizable as food.”
Enter Supervisor Taylor who represents parts of Franklin and Oak Creek.
He didn’t mince words.
“These are not guests. They’re inmates. And now we’re talking hitting up emergency funding for a study on the quality of the food and whether or not we should bring it back in-house.
“Last I checked we’re not rolling around in cash. There’s no study that’s going to come back and tell me it’s cheaper (returning to in-house services). It will be more expensive.
“This is not an emergency. This doesn’t need to be 5-star dining. As long as there’s enough nutrients being provided. So what if it doesn’t taste good. Maybe that’s a deterrent for going back there.
Supervisor Patti Logsdon also chimed in, saying she spoke with the superintendent of the House of Correction who informed her the food served meets federal requirements.
The supervisors debated for an hour. At no time was any mention made about how the correctional facilities are not hotels. No concern for the victims of crime. Just sympathy for the criminals.
“I used to work in the jail and all the prisoners agreed the food was absolutely horrendous,” said Supervisor Steven Shea.
My reaction to Shea is a big fat ‘so what!’
“Regardless or not of whether they have been found guilty of a crime I would think that all us would agree that food at an institution should be edible,” Shea continued.
“What I take issue with is calling our residents something lower than what humanity requires us to call them,” argued Supervisor Felisia Martin. “Yes they’ve caused some offense against society. Yet that does not remove their humanity and they need to be treated with respect and dignity.”
There were supervisors who did express concerns about the price tag of the study and the impact, if approved, that would have on other projects the county is also committed to.
In the end the board delayed the matter to this Thursday’s meeting.
If Taylor was a supervisor back in the day when I was a radio news reporter covering board meetings I wouldn’t have hit the pause button on my tape recorder when he testified.