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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
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Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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Stop Jailing Our Ill in Milwlaukee - Monday, March 28, 2016

The Mental Health Board of Milwaukee County, a group charged to close down the County Mental Health Complex finally had a public hearing on persons ill in Milwaukee County with a brain or mental illness. People were allow three minutes to testify. After some of the people would testified the board would ask for copies of their statement. They did not do that for my statements but I decided to send it to them anywhere. Here is a slighted edited version of my testimony.

On a cold winter night in the winter of 1998 I was awaken by a phone call from a friend of my son. My son had stopped taking his medication and in a mental health crisis was banging down the door of his friend. The friend had called the police to take my son to the mental health complex where he had been before. The police came and told this person they could only arrest my son for disorderly conduct. She called me to talk with the police officer about my son’s history of illness. I did but he repeated to me that he needed to arrest my son and put him in the county jail. I did not realize at the time that meant solidarity confinement in a padded cell with nothing to do except get sicker. When I bailed my son out he was angry and swore he would never go back to jail. He did not.

My son committed suicide in 2010 with his greatest fear still being sent to jail.

During the years of 1995 – 2010 I saw the mental health complex deteriorating thanks to cuts by County Executives Ament and Walker, decertification of complex, loss of Froedtert Medical College unit and more. In fact, in one of my son’s commitments to the Mental Health Complex he was in the Froedtert Medical College unit. The doctor there really treated my son and us with respect. In our visit when he was existing, the Doctor said that if he was ever brought there again she was going to try some new medicine that she thought would work. He was sent back there but she and the Froedtert unit was gone and, as usual, there was no record of his past treatments.

Now in 2016 I am researching the mental health system for persons ill with mental health illness and find in part the following: Police are being trained in Crisis Intervention training how to better deal with persons in a mental health crisis and there is a special unit of County Jail and House Correction for a limited number of persons suffering a serious mental health crisis.
However, police are limited where they can take a person in mental health crisis and the jail is not a treatment center. If they are voluntary and have not broken a law they can be taken by police to any hospital that has a psychiatric unit. But the large hospitals in Milwaukee serving Milwaukee Aurora Mt. Sanai, St. Luke’s, St. Joseph’s, and Froedtert in Wauwatosa do not have psychiatric units and thus the ER will not serve them.

If they are suffering a crisis and involuntary they must be taken to Mental Health Complex which has been reduced over the years to 48 beds at present. If an ill person is judged not to meet the strict definition of Chapter 51 of “being a danger to self and others” they are released to the street or if they have a ‘police hold’ sent to County Jail. If a danger to self or others they can be committed to complex or sent to other contracted facilities, like Rogers in Brown Deer or Aurora Psychiatric in Wauwatosa, depending on insurance and agreement, to wait a court hearing.

As distress, poverty. Segregation, unemployment, violence, homicides and incarceration, all triggers for persons genetically predisposed to mental health illnesses, increase in Milwaukee the number of beds for psychiatric treatment have decreased and more are being jailed.

Now the County Executive is talking about privatizing crisis mental health services and using newspaper articles about the County’s failure to maintain a proper level of treatment to justify it. A person in an emergency crisis like a heart attack, car accident, stroke or even being shot while committing a crime, can be taken, voluntarily or not, to any ER, will be treated and remain in hospital or treatment center for recovery. Persons with a mental health illnesses are not welcome at most hospital. Most likely they will eventually end up in the County Jail, House of Corrections or State prisons. They are not health treatment facilities but house over 35% of persons with serious mental health illnesses. Stop jailing our ill in Milwaukee!

“I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me. “ (Matthew 25:40)


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One Liners for Peace and Justice - Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I have rightly been accused of writing or talking too much on various issues of peace and social justice. Some say I am passionate and some say I am obsessed. Either way I plead guilty. I have instilled in me to research statements and invite people into real dialog where there be a conflict of beliefs that often can be resolved on common search for the Truth. I do not believe “you have your opinion of truth and I have mine and let’s agree to disagree.” I believe there is a truth that we are seeking and something that is true cannot be half true and something that is false can also be a half-truth. But I would like to be a part of the new generation so here are some one or two liners of issues of peace and justice, some I have researched and some not.

The Milwaukee Central Office of St. Vincent de Paul says Vicentians “Made 4, 955 visits to homes, senior care centers and prisons. The St. Vincent de Paul Council in Milwaukee has no ministry to senior care centers and prisons.

Officials in Milwaukee have known for years that people, especially infants and children, in 70,000 homes are being poisoned by lead in water pipes but have no strategic plan to deal with it.

The downtown of Milwaukee is being developed with new housing units, business development, sports and entertainment, trolley lines to make it more attractive for ‘Millennials’. It should be white, fairly wealthy ‘Millennials’ not black, brown and low income ‘Millennials’.

Marquette University its Catholic Jesuit moral beliefs yet host training for Department of Defense, to train young men and woman in War and Killing.

City and County officials can take any person suffering an emergency, heart attack, stroke, car accident or being shot in commission of crime, with or without consent of person, to any ER of any hospital and they will be treated with one exception. The exception is a person suffering a major brain injury classified as a mental health crisis.

Millions and millions of dollars has been spent by Milwaukee City and County and private and community organization over the years to combat poverty, unemployment, violence and poor education in North and South Central Milwaukee yet these neighbors are become more impoverished and distressed, unemployment remains high, gaps in education between blacks and white is increasing, housing is deteriorating more vacant lots.

Today’s newspaper has a front page article articles about the killing in Brussels of 34 people by ‘Islamic extremists’ and a small ‘briefing’ article about the US Army General, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, apologizing, for the US bombing last year for 29 minutes and 211 shells on a hospital killing 42 innocent civilians.

Elsewhere on you can find research and essays backing up these one liners. Just Search on top for probably more than you want to know.


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Vote to Stop Poisoning Our Children and Jailing Our Ill! - Saturday, March 19, 2016

Part 1 Poison in Milwaukee Water

The Flint Michigan water crisis has made us all aware of the lead in water poisoning in our children. However, are you aware that “4.9 percent of children diagnosed in 2015 in the Flint region, where state and federal officials have declared a state of emergency over the spike in lead in drinking water and children’s blood, had unacceptable levels of lead in their blood.”

However in Milwaukee “the percentage is even higher: 8.6 percent of children tested in 2014 had blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which children are known to suffer health problems, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The high numbers of blood lead levels in both Milwaukee and Flint do not include infants till 1 year of age. “Infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size.” Also the brain of an infant is more vulnerable t o the permanent brain damage caused by lead.

Mayor Tom Barrett and the City Council of Milwaukee have been aware for a long time that about 70, 000 homes, mostly in low income black and brown neighborhoods have lead lateral or service pipes from the main water pipeline into home.

City Water passing though these pipes is contaminated with lead poisoning. An attempt to help city and home owners to replace these lead pipes was passed by the City Council in 2011, over the veto of Mayor Barrett. However, the program was discontinued in 2013 by the Mayor Barrett appointed Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban.

In January of this year the Mayor Barrett put “on pause” 5 miles of water main replacement projects scheduled this year in older residential neighborhoods where lead pipes connect municipal mains to around 500 homes.

The disturbance caused by water main replacement, “has been found to contaminate drinking water and present a public health risk especially to vulnerable populations such as young children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers,” according to Dr. Baker, long time City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner.

What about all the lead water pipes “disturbed” before January 2016? What about all the lead in water consumed by children and infants since birth?

In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on January 27, 2016 Mayor Barrett said: “This is a statewide problem, and we believe we’ve brought this problem to the state’s attention.”

The City of Madison, also aware of the problem in lead pipes has taken another approach. Since 2001, the Madison water utility has worked with property owners to replace 8,000 lead laterals. While in Milwaukee there are still 70,000 homes with lead lateral pipes and nothing has been done by Mayor Barrett and the Common Council, yet the number of homes with lead lateral pipes in Madison is near zero.

Maybe after the April 5 election the Mayor and Common Council will be concerned by this crisis. However we the citizens of Milwaukee should demand from the Mayor and the Common Council, present or running, a commitment to eliminate this danger to our infants and children.

The next Mayor and Common Council needs to make our infants and children a priority over the downtown streetcar and the new sports arena downtown.

Part 2 Sending our ill to jail! Coming soon!

Milwaukee faces daunting costs with lead water pipes. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dr. Baker’s letter to State
Lead taints drinking water in hundreds of schools, day cares across USA USA Today

Lead in drinking water poses danger for children, pregnant women Wisconsin Watch
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Hazard of Lead in Infant Formula The New England Journal of Medicine


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Children Over Trolley and Building - Thursday, March 17, 2016

Infants who drink formula prepared
with lead-contaminated water may be
at a higher risk because of the large
volume of water they consume relative
to their body size.

Here is a letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the lead poisoning in Milwaukee children crisis that the politicians and media are ignoring. Check Lead Poison in Children More Than Flint for more detail.

Dear Editor

Milwaukee seems to have money for a downtown trolley and for a new sports complex downtown. Yet the City of Milwaukee has 70,000 homes, mostly in low income communities, with lead lateral pipes that bring water from the main into homes. Recently I learned 8.6 percent of children tested in 2014 in Milwaukee “had blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter”, the level at which children are known to suffer health problems, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services” In Flint Michigan a test of children in 2015 found that 4.9 percent of children had similar blood lead levels.

The Mayor and Common Council have known about this issue of lead in water to our children for a long time. Yet in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Jan. 27, 2016 the Mayor says that 5 miles of water main replacement is “on pause” while the public works and health officials plan how they will work with property owners to remove the lead service laterals throughout the city.

I have a suggestion: Mayor and Common Council put “on pause” the downtown trolley and city investment in the downtown sports complex. The health of our children is a priority over any trolley or building.

Bob Graf


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Lead Poison in Children in Milwaukee More Than Flint? - Friday, March 11, 2016

Black = 70,000 Older Residential Properties
with Lead-Pipe Laterals in Milwaukee

Yesterday morning, I attended a press conference on the “Looming Water Crisis in Milwaukee.” After a while one major local TV station showed up and near the end of the press conference another one arrived. When the speakers talked about the brain damage that lead causes I was not surprised. Neither was I surprised that the Mayor and City Council members have ignored doing something about lead pipes carrying water to homes.

Interest perked up when an alderman spoke about how 70,000 homes, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods in Milwaukee were affected. He told us that in 2011 he got the Common Council, over the veto of the Mayor, to support a program that would help homeowner pay for the replacement of lead pipes connecting the main line to their homes only to see the Mayor and water department cancel the program in 2013. When the water crisis in Milwaukee was compared to the one in Flint, Michigan I was very alert. It was explained how the Mayor and the majority of City Council members have committed millions of our taxpayer dollars to a downtown trolley line serving the wealthy white people moving there and also millions of our tax dollars to fund a sports complex downtown for a few Wall Street billionaires. However, they have postponed dealing with the lead in water crisis until after the election.

I was really disturbed after I got home and did some research about lead in children in Milwaukee as compared to lead in children in Flint, Michigan. A Wisconsin Watch study of Water in Wisconsin found that the percentage of lead-poisoned children among those tested in Wisconsin — 4.5 percent — is similar to the 4.9 percent of children diagnosed in 2015 in the Flint region, where state and federal officials have declared a state of emergency over the spike in lead in drinking water and children’s blood. However in Milwaukee “the percentage is even higher: 8.6 percent of children tested in 2014 had blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which children are known to suffer health problems, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Even those percentages likely understate the magnitude of the problem, claims Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor whose team helped identify the lead problem in Flint’s water. In the same report he says that standard testing for lead in blood begins around age 1, a time when children become mobile and may be exposed to lead paint or dust — ignoring infants on formula who may be ingesting large amounts of lead-tainted tap water. “Neither in Flint nor in Wisconsin is the greatest at-risk group being tested,” Edwards said.

A speaker at the press conference called out a City Council member for dismissing the issue when it came up at recent Council meeting saying the Council has been talking about this issue for a long time. The speaker admitted that the Council has been talking about the issue for a long time but doing nothing about it. I looked for media coverage of the press conference and found none, not even by the TV station present.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a report on January 27, 2016 in an article on lead service pipes (laterals) to homes reported “since 2001, the Madison water utility has worked with property owners to replace 8,000 lead laterals.” The same article reports that “in Milwaukee the Milwaukee Water Works has canceled 5 miles of water main replacement projects scheduled this year in older residential neighborhoods where lead pipes connect municipal mains to around 500 homes. The Milwaukee Water Works decision on main construction was made out of concern that the brief disconnection required in main replacement work temporarily would boost lead contamination in the drinking water of those 500 homes.

The Mayor of Milwaukee who has been aware of the lead in lateral pipes to homes in predominately African-American and Hispanic low income neighbors in North and South Central Milwaukee for the twelve years he has been in office says, in the same article, the projects are “on pause,” while public works and health officials plan how they will work with property owners to remove the lead service laterals throughout the city. Will the “on pause” end after the upcoming elections? When will the people demand no lead pipes to homes in low income Brown and Black neighborhoods? The health of our children in Milwaukee demands we do something about the higher than Flint lead poison in our children.

Milwaukee is the new Birmingham of segregation. Will it be the new Flint, Michigan of lead poisoning in children?


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War, What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing. Literally - Saturday, March 05, 2016

The wounded finger keeps me from typing much but I am still able to cut and paste so is an excellent article about how War, What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing. Literally.


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Injured in Kind Act - Thursday, March 03, 2016

Injured in act of kindness

Yesterday, in helping to move a friend to Green Bay I injured my middle finger on my right hand. I guess you can say I was injured in a Gospel act of mercy since my friend is very low income. Since the injury limits my typing, like on this posting, you will see limited and briefer nine finger postings the next two weeks.

The day before, March 1st, I also helped a friend move. But this time it was a low income friend with a disability so she had movers. My wife and I were there to be of personal assistance to her as she moved from one supportive living situation to another. I met her brother for the first time and we both recognized each other. After a while we both recognized that we had been jailed together in the County Jail in a Justice for Dontre Hamilton protest.

Today I just drove an elderly priest friend from Burlington to the Airport so he could fly west for some nonviolent resistance against nuclear weapons and war. All went well but after I drove to Mayfair Mall for a 11:30 appointment with a hand doctor life got slow. I thought it was a long wait in the emergency room of the hospital yesterday to get my hand bandaged but today’s wait was worst. I was in the waiting for about a hour and half before seeing the hand doctor and after a half hour of him coming in and out of the room I left with an even more bulky bandage on my middle finger and told to come back in two weeks.

Being injured doing a kind act for poor, ill or senior friends is extra grace and blessings, I hope.


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Ture Or False? - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

In our newspaper and newspaper across the county there is a regular feature call POLITIFACT. It usually takes a statement by a politician or official, does a fact check, and rates the truth of the statement. My problem with the Politifact check is that it often rates statements ‘half true’ or ‘mostly true’ or ‘mostly false’. I am from the old school of philosophy where Aristotle said that Truth cannot be Non-Truth and Non-True cannot be True or ‘mostly true’.

There is a flyer about a sale at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift stores that ends with some facts. In my mind these factual statements are True or False. Here is my analysis of these two statement. I think my ratings are clear.

TRUE OR FALSE? Fact Check of Statements Made by St. Vincent de Paul Central Office in Milwaukee. Truth or Fiction, Decide for yourself.

In recent flyer for the St. Vincent de Paul Milwaukee Store Sales states:
“Did you Know…..
In 2015 Vincentians:
1) Made 4, 955 visits to homes, senior care centers and prisons.”
2) Provided $1, 819, 579 in goods and services to those in need.

Since the actual 2015 budget of Central Council of Milwaukee St. Vincent de Paul or number of request for home visits to central office has not been made public even to the members of the Milwaukee Society of St. Vincent we can make these statements based on history, past and projected budgets, Rule and Manuel of St. Vincent de Paul.

1. Statement “Made 4, 955, visits to homes, senior care and prisons.”

The main mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is to make home visits by volunteers to persons in need. When someone in the need calls the central office for help the central office receptionist uses an outdated computer system to see if the person lives in the designated geographic boundaries of the 55 conferences. Since there are only a few conferences in the most impoverished neighborhoods of North and South Central Milwaukee the answer is quite often “We do not have a parish conference serving your area”. If the person lives in the limited boundaries of a parish conference or if a parish conference is willing to make home visits outside of its area the person in need is told they will receive a call within two months for a home visits. The actual number of People who call for help and number of people served by conference home visits are not available to public and members of SVDP.

The Milwaukee Council of the St. Vincent de Paul in 2015 had no ministry to senior care centers and prisons. In past 166 year history of Milwaukee SVDP there have been special ministries of visits to prisons, senior care center, mental health complex etc. Presently the only SVDP Council ministry is to the two meal programs and


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