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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

The author is no fan of mixed martial arts. (PHOTO:

In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Let's figure out transportation in Milwaukee. (PHOTO:

New Year's wishes for 2012

This is the season of wishes, and the time when columnists the world over write columns about the wishes or resolutions they have for themselves. Lose weight, stop smoking, be nicer, that kind of thing.

Me, I'm a guy who is all about my own resolutions. But I also think we are at a point in the life of our city where we should think about making some changes in the way we don things. Some of them are big changes, and some not so big. But if you don't change, then you're standing still and the rest of the world is passing you by.

I don't pretend to have any kind of monoply or special insight into this, but I've got an opinion and I've got a column. Marry the two, and here goes.

1. A new arena for Milwaukee. I want people to think back to the days before Miller Park. A bad team. An outdated stadium. An incredible fight that was won by one vote in the legislature. Then, a new stadium. A new owner. And then...well you get the point. I have heard people say that baseball is more important than NBA basketball. Hogwash. If the Bucks leave, we are a one-sport town and the odds of us ever getting another pro team are astronomical. Major league is major league. Everything else isn't. Herb Kohl doesn't have the money to build one completely by himself. Get over it.

2. Let's find a way to talk about race. I don't know if anyone has noticed recently, but Milwaukee is a minority majority city. That means that more than half the residents of the city are minorities. Some of those figures are startling. In the city, with kids aged 10 and under, there are about 20,000 white kids and nearly 80,000 minority kids. The suburbs in the metro region are largely white. Economic and political power still resides, largely, with white people. But all those minority kids are going to grow up and, with hope and help, become our leaders and workforce of the future. Unless we talk about race and poverty, which are inextricably intertwined, we are going to wallow in mediocrity for decades.

3. Let's talk about moving people around. I'm not sure what the answer to this is, streetcars, light rail, new and expanded bus service, horse drawn carriage, or what. But everybody talks about moving a workforce to the jobs. We have to stop listening to the rabid talk radio zealots and find some way to agree on a mass transit system that we can live with, that we can afford and that will do what we want it to do.

4. Do something with The Ave. For as long as I can remember, The Ave was the nickname for Wisconsin Avenue. If you've been there lately I hope you were able to hold your lunch down. It is absolutely abysmal. Dark and lonely and saddled with stores that come and go quicker than the wind that howls down the street. One thing might be to knock down the expressway that divides Downtown from the Third Ward. It's a huge barrier to development ideas.

5. Potholes. For God's sake, fix them fast. We are always looking for slogans for our city. How about "The City of the Smooth Ride." And as long as we are talking about traffic stuff, let's get rid of those parking meeters where you have to walk to the end of the block to get some time for the space you are occupying. They are annoying as all get out.

6. Raise taxes. I don't know which ones, maybe the sales tax. But the plain fact is that we need money to do some things that need to be done. Knocking down that stupid transit center actoss from Summerfest. The arena. Bringing our parks back to the gold standard. This stuff costs money. I don't mind taxes going for quality of life stuff.

7. Get rid of lots of politicians. I'd cut the county board and common council in half. And I'd make the jobs part time. We couldn't be any worse off than we are now and we'd have fewer people to blame.

8. Pick an identity and stick with it. I'm not sure if we are The City That Works, or a Great Place On A Great Lake, or the City of Big Shoulders or the Freighthandler to the Nation or the City of Festivals Every Two Weeks During the Summer but Dead the Rest of the Year. It seems like every few years we come up with a new identity, have a big press conference, print lots of collateral material, and then shove it into a closet somewhere. About 10 years ago Indianapolis decided to market itself as a Sports City. They've done a hell of a job, mainly because they stuck with it. An identity for a city is a lot like an anchor person on local news. Familiarty breeds great ratings.

9. Outlaw Mixed Martial Arts in the city. I know we'd probably have to go to court to challenge the state law allowing this crap. But that's a fight that's worth it. Think how proud we could all be if we were an MMA-free zone. Now, there's a slogan. "Milwaukee: We Kept Away The MMA."

10. And finally, I'd like to see some cross generational cooperation in this area. The young people have ideas and energy. Us older people have a sense of historical perspective. With all of those things working together, we'd be unstoppable as a city. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Now, let's kick some ass.

You may notice that nowhere on my list is the category "Education." There's a reason for that.

Education is tied into so many of the previous things that I can't make it a category all by itself. Perhaps nothing is as important as improving the way we educate children and the results of those efforts. If we can't do that, the rest of this stuff hardly matters.

Twenty-five years ago I worked in developing change and policy for the Milwaukee Public Schools. The discussions we had then are the same discussions people are having now. I am hopeful, but not optimistic.


miltwnchef | Jan. 3, 2012 at 5:16 a.m. (report)

I like all your comments I'm 54. Willing to work with young gen but how do you connect with a kid who makes $ 1000 to $2000 a week slinging dope.. Who can we trust every wek someone in a upper level respectable position is getting busted stealing or having sex sandals. Young people see this and say F___ it, I'm getting mine anyway I can. And jobs we need jobs.Bring them back from China. (how do we allow a country who we don't trust make products medicines and foods for us?) The northside is full of young men who will work if it was here. Politicians seem to have lost their common sense.I could go on and on,but I'll stop here. Happy new Year and keep writing good stuff.

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paul_fladten | Dec. 29, 2011 at 4:37 p.m. (report)

Despite what your content within the article says about MMA this piece will get a ton of views because of the picture alone. The world's fastest growing sport is here to stay and Milwaukee is one of MMA's hottest markets. Get with the times.

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