Originally posted 7/20/09

MKE Urban Institute

I’m asking this question very loudly after reading Daniel Bice’s No Quarter piece in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The article titled Chief’s Consultant Ties Raise Questions, is fantastic and highlights in great depth how there is tremendous influence and power unseen driving policy within our city.

For instance, Bice links the relationship of the Bradley Foundation, George Kelling (a national police consultant) and Robert Wasserman (Kelling’s partner) to policy being initiated by Police Chief Flynn. Bice even writes that some MKE Cops have started referring to Kelling and Wasserman as shadow chiefs for their influence on the department. He writes that they even helped prepare testimony for Chief Flynn in which he was to present before the Common Council.

The article also mentions that the Bradley Foundation has paid more than 300k to Kelling and Wasserman since ’07.  Part of this money was provided to the two men to provide a study on crime and violence in Milwaukee which was also endorsed by the Mayor.

Bice uncovers many layers of the relationships of the aforementioned parties. His article really made me think about how the African American community lacks this sort of collective, organized institiution. In other words, there is a lack and definite need for a Think Tank dedicated to policy issues impacting the Urban Community in the city.

Wikipedia defines a Think Tank as follows:

A think tank (also called a policy institute) is an organization, institute, corporation, or group that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economy, science or technology issues, industrial or business policies or military advice.

Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. While many think tanks are funded by governments, interest groups, or businesses, some think tanks also derive income from consulting or research work related to their mandate.

A Black Think Tank would be a tremendous benefit for the community. An organization like that could be a major influence on having the city elect its first Black Mayor. A Black Think Tank would be a heavyweight in driving economic policy, education reform, legal policy and much more. Think of the influence such a group could yield in a city where there are hundreds of thousands of African Americans. So I ask again, where is Milwaukee’s Black Think Tank?

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