Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A: Because Vos, suburban GOP need a stunted Milwaukee

[Updated Tuesday, 11:40 a.n., from Sunday 5:29 p.m.] Q: What is wrong with these people?

Robin Vos, the GOP assembly speaker from the Racine County Village of Rochester, threw cold water on state partnership participation in funding an NBA arena in downtown Milwaukee.

His ostensible excuse, which among reasonable adults was too stupid to even consider?

The new owner/investors of The Milwaukee Bucks had motored on over to Milwaukee's airport to greet a recent visitor, a certain Barack Obama, a/k/a The President of the United States.

Also a Democrat. The horror!

Disregarding that Wisconsin Republicans had sloganeered that the state was open for business, that these basketball team owners had spent a half-billion dollars on the team, and had pledged to pony up a couple of hundred million dollars more to kick start the arena funding, and were looking to attract another billion or so bucks to make The Milwaukee Bucks and the downtown something of a world-class showcase.

Downtown Milwaukee? All dressed up? Not in Vosland.

Update - - Nice to see papers statewide, now including the La Crosse Tribune, slam Vos for his pear-brained arrogance.

So while you're sorting through his embrace of the ridiculous, remember also that signs are pointing to Republicans using their Legislative majority to quickly change the rules governing local financing tools to block Milwaukee from beginning to fund a streetcar system which would not only tie together and boost a number of major downtown office and housing developments, but could also move Bucks' fans and others easily to and from multiple downtown venues.

Update - - And props to Mayor Tom Barrett for refusing to back down on the streetcar issue - - and thus on pledging to fight for local control and transportation funding fairness - - by refusing to turn over the city to suburban interests that would keep Milwaukee's economy stalled so the out-city areas can more greatly prosper.

Republicans have a deep, ideological and fetishistic fear about transit vehicles that run on rails and carry more than one occupant:

*  They have from the outside barred Milwaukee for nearly 20 years from reaping rail transit's jobs-and-development potential.

*  Vos led the more recent killing of regional transit authorities, lest any rail virus work its way into precious suburban territory.

*  He killed the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter train line even though it would have served his Racine County constituents, alleviated some of the traffic congestion on their stretch of I-94, and offered commuters what conservatives claim is always the goal: a choice.

*  And Vos' boss Scott Walker blocked the Amtrak extension from Milwaukee to Madison even though federal funds had been set aside to cover 100% of its construction.

That self-defeating partisan sop to Walker's Tea Party base and talk radio echo chamber also made sure that no NBA fans in Madison could ever board a Bucks' express into Milwaukee, or that no Amtrak train would carry Badger fans in our region the other way to games or events.

Or bring people on any number of everyday family, business, university, civic, cultural, entertainment or other trips between Milwaukee and Madison.

Like I said, you gotta wonder what's to be gained in our economically flat, jobs'-deprived state by cutting and stifling growth, connections and commerce - - "progress" - - in and between our two largest cities, but principally here in Milwaukee?

Now the answer:

Suburban, Republican conservatives, whether talk radio hosts or legislators or this particular, peculiar Governor need a scapegoat city - - a city they are willing to tie in knots and under-performance through double-standards and traps to validate their stereotyped, skewed vision of cities, and especially Milwaukee, as inferior to their 'successful,' whiter, often wealthier suburbs and exurban towns.

It's as old as Tommy Thompson's "stick-it-to-Milwaukee" sales pitch in favor of a regional Brewers' stadium tax for which he needed and won critical out-state support for passage.

And don't forget that Vos helped end Milwaukee's residency rule for its taxpayer-paid employees - - over Milwaukee's objections - - rolling over the long-time GOP principle of local control and helping move middle-class taxpayers to the suburbs. Maybe even to the Village of Rochester or elsewhere within Vos' district.

A jazzy Milwaukee downtown, with a new entertainment complex built around an NBA franchise energized by new players, with people moving around town on modern light rail all weekend long from condos and apartments and parking ramps and hotels to the arena  - - then to clubs and watering holes - - then the next day to museums and galleries and restaurants to the Lakefront and then to the Amtrak station or the airport defeats the conservative narrative that you're supposed to be afraid of cities, and avoid them.

New Urbanism actually threatens aging or remote suburbs. Millennials, young marrieds and empty-nesters often prefer urban - - walkable neighborhoods, lofts, coffee shops, nightlife and a rail pass - - not commutes in cars to cul-de-sacs, in many cases.

In the Robin Vos/Scott Walker's political world, a city like Milwaukee that is already landlocked by a special 1950's state law works best if it doesn't have too many new options - - which is what cities are really all about.

Vos and Walker prefer a negative relationship with Milwaukee - - which becomes a positive for them at election time when power is taken and used to reward friends and donors.

Walker put his finger on this truth in the upscale Waukesha County community of Oconomowoc Lake towards the end of his 2012 recall campaign when he whipped up the crowd by saying you don't want Wisconsin to "become another Milwaukee."


Jake formerly of the LP said...

This is what mediocre people do- they'd rather other people do worse so they can look better, rather than having everybody try to excel and be better off.

And no area defines mediocrity better than the white guts who live in the 262. If these guys would just let Milwaukee go out in its own and generate it's own revenues and pursue its own policies, we'd all be better off

Boxer said...

When Popcorn kings rule the world . .. . .

Anonymous said...

The unemployment number has dropped but I think it is because people who have education and skills are fleeing the state - not because jobs are being "created." A little off topic I know, but as MKE goes, so goes Wisconsin because like it or not, MKE is a huge economic engine that drives our state.