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What About The Employees At Madison’s City-County Building?

June 2, 2015

Last night another attempt was made to deal with the growing and continually vexing problem of what to do with the homeless who bring their issues with them as they camp out and sleep at the city-county building in downtown Madison.  After a long meeting that lasted for three hours, it was decided on a tie vote that the homeless will be allowed to continue to create unsafe and unhealthy conditions on the front side of the building.   For those who work in the building or need to attend to business there know full-well the present situation is bad and growing worse.

I think the vast majority in this city have feelings of compassion for those who are homeless.  We understand the need for a safety net to protect those who face life with a wide array of issues that in some cases are no fault of their own.  We are aware that some issues can be dealt with when it comes to employment and mental health care, and we need to be more aggressive in pursing programs that can have a real impact on the homeless.

I along with many others have argued there needs to be a day center for the homeless.   That we go year after year in search of one in a place with this much desire to make a difference is truly baffling to many who know we must do better.  That we can do better.

But having said all that—and meaning it—we also must address the needs of city and county employees who also require our consideration.

There has been no shortage of news stories over the months about the unsanitary conditions, the verbal abuse, drug abuse, and even sexual acts taking place among some of the homeless at the city-county building.  As a result more than 190 employees from multiple city and county agencies in the building signed a strongly worded petition demanding a “safe and clean work environment.”  To be honest I think it outrageous that it came to the point that the employees needed to take such an action.

Yet it seems to me that too often the concerns of those who have stated they are feeling unsafe at work or feel that the environment is not healthy gets pushed aside because the optics of the homeless create a more compelling story.  We claim to have deep concerns about worker rights when it comes to union activity but when it comes to this most glaring workplace problem we too often opt for excuses and letting time slide by.  No one is being heartless when asking simply that the city-county employees be allowed to come and go from their workplace with the same sense of safety that the rest of us enjoy.

It is feared that something very awful will happen at the city-county building where conditions have been allowed to fester.  Then there will be ample number of people coming forward who can act with speed to remedy the problem.  For the sake of those who work in the building or use it for business it seems to me a few courageous leaders in positions to make the needed changes should act now.

5 Comments
  1. June 4, 2015 12:01 PM

    I am not suggesting they come back to your area–I merely responded to your suggestion it is our duty to pay for them and care for them. Additionally, it is clear that you are not fully aware of the full extent of the issues taking place at the CCB.

  2. Tom permalink
    June 4, 2015 10:30 AM

    I do 20 hours a year serving meals to people who need help through the church. I know its not much, but, yeah, I’ve got mine.

    I don’t know what to do with the fabricated argument that the homeless come from places like where I live. What does that matter? At least I clear their plates and not just step over them. Are you suggesting that they should go back where they came from? Not the warmest attitude.

    Conservatives believe that we, as individuals, have the burden to take care of our fellow man. Liberals don’t. They believe the city should build a new center or that we all should pay for a new program; in the meantime, the people are still homeless and hungry. A lot of people need to ignore you before you end up on the street.

    In all of this, the last people we should worry about are the employees of the local governments. What is public service about these days?

  3. June 3, 2015 7:49 AM

    Tom does not seem to understand that many of those who are homeless in our city come from places such as where he lives. That has long been a topic of conversation in our city.

  4. Mark E. Bye permalink
    June 3, 2015 7:22 AM

    I’m just guessing, but “you’ve got yours”, eh Tom?

  5. tom permalink
    June 2, 2015 1:36 PM

    I think the workers need to toughen up and deal with it. Protesters mobbed and “occupied” the Capital for months. Certainly, the city/county building is no less the people’s house. Perhaps they could spend a little less time protecting their privilege and a little more time helping the poor. Typical liberal hypocrites. Here’s another problem that you–not me–should pay for and take care of.

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