Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Milwaukee's economy cut off, strangled by adjacent counties

[Updated 12:40 a.m. Tuesday from Monday] The Journal Sentinel's Rick Romell has a long piece in today's paper documenting the broader expansion of economies of the wealthier counties relative to nearby Milwaukee County.

The wealth and jobs data that Romell cites show the result of decades of discriminatory public sector policies that disconnected transit links and thus intentionally reduced work and housing options for lower-income, minority Milwaukee residents by literally putting jobs and affordable housing out of reach.

While government builds more highways to serve suburban commuters - - despite a federal court ruling to the contrary - - and even now is contemplating giving the City of Waukesha an exception to a multi-state water management agreement and allow Waukesha a diversion of Lake Michigan water not only for current needs, but to serve undeveloped acreage.

Remember that the State Legislature in the 1950's froze the City of Milwaukee's borders through which what is now as The Oak Creek Law during then-Mayor Frank Zeidler's mayoralty, further guaranteeing that Milwaukee's economy would stagnate while the suburbs - - with some housing overtly segregated at the time - -  would get richer and whiter.

Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist told some of that history and its consequences in an obituary he wrote when Zeidler passed away in July, 2006.

A final observation:

I said the other day when this urban-suburban divide had begun to infect the debate over a possible new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise that conservatives in the suburban counties use - - need - - the power differential fed by the region's basic economic and racial imbalance for their own partisan, power advantages.

The sad irony in all this is that while the suburban counties and their louder political and media voices find votes and comfort manipulating Milwaukee, the state will not succeed like, say, Minnesota, because you cannot have an economically vibrant and attractive state economy if you deliberately constrict, abuse and stunt its largest city - - the center of the state's commerce, banking, culture, entertainment and, in our case, the connection to an even bigger economy - - Chicago,

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