Public employee bashers, meet Pat Stawicki

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To those who portray public employees as the enemies of the taxpayers, a greedy bunch of money-grubbing loafers whose own concern is their pension:

Meet Pat Stawicki.

She's retiring later this month after -- ready for this? --- nearly 56 years as a clerical staffer in the Milwaukee mayor's office.

She started soon after graduating from high school in 1956. Frank Zeidler, Milwaukee's last socialist mayor (so far) was still serving. She saw a few others pass through (Milwaukeeans don't change mayors very often.) Henry Maier was there for 28 years, John Norquist for nearly 16, Tom Barrett for the last eight. Marvin Pratt served several months as acting mayor, too.

The whole time, as mayors came and went, Pat Stawicki was there, quietly doing her job.

She doesn't seek or even like attention, so Tuesday's celebration in the mayor's office, with perhaps 100 current and former mayoral staffers on hand, plus a lot of TV cameras and photographers, was a once in a lifetime event. Mayor Barrett proclaimed "Patricia Stawicki Day" in "the entire city of Milwaukee," and the Dept. of Public Works gave her a Stawicki Way street sign.  [Here's an album of 10 photos by the Journal Sentinel's Mike De Sisti.  I chose the photo above because Pat in front of a TV camera is so out of character.]

She wouldn't want me to tell you this, but after 55-plus years of working in city government, Pat's salary was something like $41,000 a year. She said no to any offers to reclassify her job and get her more; she didn't want attention, or to make waves.

She could have retired long ago with a full pension. It wasn't the money that kept her showing up every at City Hall. It was devotion to duty.

Patricia Stawicki Day was yesterday in the city of Milwaukee, but her day was every day at City Hall. She's a great reminder of what public service is all about.