Milwaukee alders are very powerful in their community and on the city council. What's different here is that Milwaukee is the largest city in the state. It's the state's economic driver. So what happens here has resonance.
What may not be so different is that here, the taxi scene is dominated by one company with a de facto monopoly made possible by previous city action. Ald. Bauman is interested in expanding the choices available to consumers. Hence this action.
I serve on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. That body has been maligned so many times it's not funny. One of my colleagues was just elected as an alderman. But that's another story.
Meanwhile, I've got this open data resolution that I'm working on...
Milwaukee's Green Corridor along S. 6th Street is our sandbox for sustainable development. Among many attributes, it has the world's largest slab of water-permeable concrete, which was made part of the stormwater containment system that runs a beautiful stream and provides water for the on-site community gardens. A food hub is being developed just across the street from there, and we're showing true green development is replete with benefits.
The 20th century saw Milwaukee's first apex, and we're building toward a larger, more sustainable one right now. I'm thrilled to be part of it.
To be fair, part of it is problems that I've brought upon myself. I didn't listen when they said "after doing this upgrade, UPGRADE THE FUEL INJECTOR AND THE EXHAUST, or you will pay thousands in repairs." To be fair, I wanted to verify their claim. Which proved to be true.
If that weren't enough, part of it for me will be the cost of repairing body damage, which was not caused by the upgrade in HP/torque that I had done a few years back, but rather a side-effect of the car crash that I was in thirteen years ago (as seen on Slashdot!), which shredded my left eye and wrecked my depth perception. (Tight turns in and out of my garage are a bitch.)
That's got nothing to do with diesel vs. hybrid. It's all about my vision, or lack thereof. But take into account that at least with the TDi, you need to get synthetic oil, and religiously have it changed. You'll need a new fuel filter each year -- North American/European ppl, do this in October. And there at long last, the infamous VW
So now, I still want a car with great mileage. And I'd like get an American car, a UAW car. The Ford C-Max hybrid is of interest, as it satisfies both interests. Even if the mileage may not be all that it's billed to be. And the looks aren't all that great either. But, what can you do? Perhaps -- maybe -- deal.
But dammit, I'm still here. (!!!!)
Here in Wisconsin, we've had some movement as well. The city of Kenosha has had an extensive OSS IT platform in place for years. And here in Milwaukee County, where we have a Windows-centered IT policy, I scored a significant chip at the monolith. In my days since being the guerilla marketer for LinuxPPC, I won election last year as a Milwaukee County Supervisor. That means I'm one of 19 members in charge of policy for a $1.3 billion body of government. Because I now help craft policy — code, even, for code = law — I couldn't let the all-MS policy continue.
In the 2012 budget, I had an amendement that directs our IT department to do a study of open source software integration. I just got an update on the progress of the study: it turns out that rather than writing a white paper, we're going to have a working production model in place within a few months. It will be built entirely upon open source products (some flavor of Linux, Apache-Tomcat, MySQL, PHP, Alfresco, and so on). So we'll have actual documentation of the cost of production, and cost of maintenance. Beyond that, once it's tested, it will be ready for deployment to replace a set of commercial packages that the County Department of Administration uses. The coding will be done entirely in-house, which is a big win. And the programmers are very excited to do it!
That's only the beginning. Milwaukee County still uses Lotus Notes. (Pause to allow groans and shouts...) It's easy to imagine possibilities to replace Notes. And MS IIS. This is going to make a great story for Slashdot in a few months, and I hope it will make a great story to share with my constituents. The trick there will be to put it in terms that they can understand, as most of them don't have what I presume is our shared background. But, that's part of what they elected me for.
I suppose the story here is "get elected, and make a subtle policy (with profound future impacts) that you can sell by saying it will save money." With any luck, the rest will come like gravy.
Back in November 2011, my colleagues on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a small budget amendment that contained an order for our IT department to do a study on moving to OSS. That made it part of the 2012 budget. Work has already begun, and there were a few guys lurking in the basement that had been running Linux for years.
Milwaukee County's IT policy is predictably centered around Windows. But we also have a mainframe somewhere in the bowels of the government, crunching away after all these years. I'm not sure if anyone still knows how to write in COBOL, but it's in there.
Worse yet, we have dozens of custom Windows apps that do all sorts of things, over many departments. I don't know that there was ever a clear voice in guiding their creation. Removing them may be painful, if and when the time comes.
This is just a study to look at integrating open source into our mix. So far, it's going well, though we'll see how it looks when I meet with the IT folks next week. My hunch from initial talks is that we have a good opening for OSS.
Also, an assistant at the county board suggested that I introduce a resolution that would bar the purchase of software with recurring upgrade fees. We need to save money, after all. It would, in essence, guide the county toward the purchase of open source solutions. While not everything has an open source alternative, many of the basic tasks we do could be done for a fraction of their current price. I tell ya, I'll drag Milwaukee County IT into the late 20th century! If not a little beyond that.