Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds' state of the county address was notable for what he didn't mention.
Neither the fraud and laxity discovered last year in the county's oversight of the Wisconsin Shares child-care program (a state audit showed that the county's day care certification workers have the highest caseload of all 11 counties audited), nor the current spate of stories regarding medical care at the County Jail that have led to the state's transferring out of inmates because the health care they receive here isn't good enough (the $29 million jail addition houses roughly 200 fewer inmates than budgeted; Kenosha County recently cancelled an $880,000 contract to house juvenile delinquents here) received even a passing glance -- not a single word! -- as McReynolds addressed the County Board with his annual appraisal of the county's health.
Instead he talked about unemployment, record numbers of foreclosesures and a "bright spot" as real estate transfer fees stablize. He praised three companies that brought a total of 138 jobs into the county -- "I consider jobs for Racine County my Number 1 priority," he said -- and praised county department heads for cutting 387 positions from the county's employment rolls, "51 slots in this year's budget alone."
He congratulated the County Board for scheduling a referendum on transportation taxes, saying, "All our residents should be able to express their views on transit and taxation in a meaningful way." Of course, the referendum is merely advisory, so ...
And he came out strongly for cooperation among local governments "to do something about duplication of services and facilities." He referred to shared buildings, shared land and "consolidation of emergency dispatch services."
Speaking of duplication, McReynolds (or his speech-writers) was apparently so proud of three facts -- that the county has reduced its debt by $143,000, "within our $50 million target;" general fund equity has increased to $45.3 million; and the county's bond ratings have gone up -- that the embargoed .pdf version of his address mentioned those points twice.
Read McReynolds' entire address here.
(Caveat: We weren't at the County Board meeting where McReynolds delivered his State of the County address. This post is based only on the printed text released by the county. )