Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our Region's Political Divide Rooted In 1950's Anti-Milwaukee State Law

The Journal Sentinel is publishing great analysis and data in recent days showing the deep red/blue - - city/suburban divide in SE Wisconsin.

So many of the political issues encompassed in this reality - - suburban transportation disconnects, water access, distorted job development - - have been repeat topics on this blog since it began in February, 2007.

But let's not forget one essential fact that helped to begin and continue and harden the divide - - the so-called Oak Creek law of 1954 passed by the State Legislature - - that treated Milwaukee far differently and more punitively than any other city and city-specific law in the state.

The law froze Milwaukee's city borders, thus preventing any further annexation, expansion and development.

The law accelerated greater suburban growth already being enabled by the new, taxpayer-paid Interstate highway system and a post-war housing boom fed by favorable mortgage and property tax treatment.

These circumstances guaranteed that lower-income working people and minority residents in Milwaukee were discouraged from relocating outside the city, and in some cases, they were zoned out by overtly discriminatory local housing ordinances leading to what former Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier termed "The Iron Ring."

Even today, some suburban building codes require big and expensive lots, or high-square-foot housing-mandates to keep this pattern of economic apartheid going.

And I'm not the only one using that term.

Little wonder that there are profound political southern-style separations between city/suburban, wealthy/low-income, and black/white people in our region.

Enabled, in part, by state, regional and local governmental power.


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you didn't get the chance to pillage every neighboring community and make them as crappy as Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

To 4:22
Milwaukee is not crappy - like any big city it has problems. I suspect you come and visit now and then. Was it crappy ? I'll take Milwaukee over your white flight no sidewalk suburb any day buddy. Tell me - do you have Miller Park in your suburb? Do you have the PAC? Do you hqve clean water?

Anonymous said...

I just moved here to downtown Milwaukee and I am not sure I understand? Is there too much nice stuff in Milwaukee? Does it cater too much to rich folks or something? It is a really nice clean city with all kinds of things going on, so easy to get around, sure there are problem areas, but that is everywhere city or country. Hmm Would love to understand the issues more that make it so "bad" here.