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Reality Check: Walker ad attacks Barrett's record in Milwaukee

Barrett faces Walker in recall election June 5

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker is taking a page from his 2010 playbook by attacking Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on his record in the city of Milwaukee.

This time, Walker is using news reports to do it, and although WISC-TV found the reports themselves are true, they're edited to paint a picture that's not the whole story.

"Very disturbing news on Milwaukee's poverty rate from the census bureau," a Milwaukee news reporter says in the ad. "The city is now the fourth-worst in the nation."

WISC-TV found this is misleading. Milwaukee was the fourth-poorest city in 2009. But the most recent figures show that in 2010, the poverty rate went up, and the city's ranking went down. In considering how this reflects on the mayor, one needs to know more about his whole term.

When Barrett took office in 2004, the poverty rate was about 26 percent. It went to as low as 23.9 percent in 2008, which ranked the city 11th-highest in the nation. In 2010, the rate rose to 29.5 percent, which is eighth among big cities in the country.

"Milwaukee ranks third when it comes to the worst-employed cities in the nation," says another news anchor in the ad.

Reality Check: Walker ad attacks Barrett's record in Milwaukee

WISC-TV also found this misleading. This report is citing is a month-to-month figure, ranking Milwaukee third in job losses from February to March of 2010. But a look at Barrett's overall record shows the unemployment rate when he took office was 8.1 percent and dropped for the first four years of his term. The rate then jumped in 2009 to 11 percent and has been declining since, now around 10.5 percent.

"Milwaukee's Common Council approves another tax hike," says a news anchor in the ad.

"Milwaukee property owners will see their taxes go up about 10 percent," says a news reporter in the ad.

WISC-TV found this misleading. The full story from Milwaukee shows what the ad leaves out.

"Milwaukee property owners will see their taxes go up about 10 percent from the current tax rate, with the property tax levy rising 4.4 percent," the WISN-TV reporter says in his story.

So actually, taxes went up around 4 percent in Milwaukee, which was $121 on the average home in 2010. That 10 percent number was only an increase in the mill rate.

Barrett's budgets did raise taxes in every year but one of his term, on average about 2.5 percent a year.

"Tom Barrett has failed in Milwaukee for eight years. Don't let him take Wisconsin backward," says the ad's announcer.

Another thing to note is that for seven of the eight years Barrett was mayor, Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. It's up to voters to decide how much Walker was responsible for some of the same issues.

If you have an idea for a Reality Check, send it to realitycheck@channel3000.com.  

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