Milwaukee worst city in nation for African Americans

November 6, 2015

Abele backs African American Office proposed by Supervisor Khalif Rainey

County supervisor Khalif Rainey held a press conference October 28 to announce his introduction of a resolution calling for the creation of an office on African American Affairs to study ways to improve the quality of life for African Americans in Milwaukee. Sup. Rainey was joined by Alderman Willie Wade, State Rep. Leon Young and other community leaders who support the resolution.

County supervisor Khalif Rainey held a press conference October 28 to
announce his introduction of a resolution calling for the creation of an office
on African American Affairs to study ways to improve the quality of life for
African Americans in Milwaukee. Sup. Rainey was joined by Alderman Willie
Wade, State Rep. Leon Young and other community leaders who support the
resolution.

By: Steve Waring

Special to The Milwaukee Times

A proposal by Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey to create a Milwaukee County Office of African American Affairs received unanimous support from the County Board’s health and human needs committee on October 28, 2015, but in an exclusive interview with The Milwaukee Times Weekly News- paper, Supervisor Rainey said he began thinking about how to introduce the legislation after the passage of Wiscon- sin’s Act 14 prohibited the Milwaukee County Board from creating new depart- ments. He also reached out and did research because his goal is a results-driven mod- el that can be used over time to rebuild the entire Central City of Milwaukee.

“By just about every indi- cator Milwaukee is the worst place to be an African American,” he said. “Not Alabama or Mississippi, but Milwau- kee. That’s shameful and it’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and address these issues.” Supervisor Rainey and Milwaukee Alderman Willie Wade held a press confer- ence with State Represen- tative Leon Young (D-Mil- waukee) pledging to work for the creation of an office on African American Affairs at every level of state govern- ment in Wisconsin prior to the start of the county health and human needs committee on October 28.

Milwaukee County Exec- utive Chris Abele, who does have the authority under Act 14 to create new county agencies, said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he would support the creation of the office. During the interview, Abele also mentioned a recent study by 24/7 Wall St., a Delaware-based financial news company, that ranked Milwaukee as the “worst city for black Americans,” based on household income, years of education, homeownership, access to health insurance, incarceration rates and unemployment.

Supervisor Rainey‘s resolution lists other studies that conclude Wisconsin is ranked last in the U.S. for African American children and that a growing educational gap in both reading and math continues. More than half of African American men in their 30s have served prison time, according Supervisor Rainey. “This is the issue of our time,” Supervisor Rainey said adding that he and other County staff studied other municipalities which had created a department to improve quality of life for African Americans and they settled on a hybrid of two models: one in Washington, D.C., and the other for the State of New Mexico.

Supervisor Rainey said initially he envisioned a three-person office which would exclusively focus and avoid duplication among different agencies that provide assistance to African Americans. One of the three persons in the proposed office would be a grant writer whose purpose would be to help raise seed money and explore public-private partnerships, an idea championed by Governor Scott Walker. Governor Walker was asked about the creation of the new office by a reporter for The Milwaukee Times on October 29 and said he was not familiar with the details of the program, but that he was favorably inclined toward public-private partnerships as a means of addressing social problems and making state revenue stretch further.