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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Let's fix the potholes, shall we?

A wish list for Milwaukee


Everybody's favorite mayor Tom Barrett delivered his State of the City address this week, and in it he had a long list of things that have gone right and a wish list of things that need to get done.

Perhaps his biggest pledge was to get something done to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in the city, showing a surprising grasp of the vitally important nature of that particular goal.

But, as usual, I think he may have left some things out. If somebody asked me (which they haven't) what I think the State of the City is, here's a little bit of my own wish list.

Fix the streets. I live on Humboldt Boulevard. It's a thoroughfare from North Avenue to Capitol Drive. It is like driving on a road in Afghanistan. It feels like a raft of IEDs has exploded and left craters only slightly smaller than your average grave. This really can't be all that complicated. With all these people out of work in Milwaukee, just hire a dozen or so, give them a shovel, a truck full of tar and send them on their way. We don't need a dozen supervisors or anything. Just people willing to work.

Elect a black mayor. The black community in Milwaukee is big and getting bigger. Over 40 percent of the people who live in the city are black. The issues facing that community, from poverty to decaying neighborhoods, to insufficient health care to access to financial and political power and influence have been ignored for far too long. I'm not saying that a white mayor can't lead a renaissance of the black community. But so far, no white mayor has. If we don't pay attention to the needs of black people we are going to be far less of a city than we can be. I truly believe that the measure of a person is how they care for the least fortunate among us. We need some new leadership, and a black mayor would go a long way toward that.

Let youth be served. This is a city that needs new and creative ideas. This is not to be a criticism of those of us who are a little older. My generation has done a lot of good for Milwaukee. But, without ignoring our history, let's find a way to get the next generation into the power structure and decision making positions. I have a feeling there are a lot of good ideas out there, but they don't know where to go. We should always remember and honor our history, but it is time for the young guns to step up to the plate and for the old guard to step out of the way.

Let's have some fun. We should think about creating a recreation or entertainment district or something. Let's get some people who really understand the business of entertaining, like Gary Witt from The Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall, and Bob Babisch from Summerfest and Omar Shaikh from the Surg restaurant group and John Steinmiller from the Milwaukee Bucks ask them to design a wish list and a plan to create a vibrant and exciting entertainment district. We also should have a strip club owner in the group.

Get more of those pay stations for parking. I still think you should be able to park for free Downtown, but if we are going to have to pay, let's put some more of those pay stations in each block. It's irritating to have to walk in the wrong direction just to have to pay for parking. If we are going to have that kind of meter, let's put three pay stations every block. The harder or more inconvenient we make parking, the more disincentive for people to come Downtown.

Let's get some good mass transit. The trolley around Downtown is a pretty good idea, but I'd figure out some kind of mass transit between Bay View, Downtown, the East Side and the West Side near Wauwatosa. It's a good thing to give tourists a way to move around, but it would be nice to move everyone.

Let's do something about Milwaukee Public Schools. I never thought I'd say this, but I'd think about making the mayor in charge of the schools. In my experience elected school boards get people who rarely know what they are doing and they love to meddle in the business of the schools. I'm not sure making the schools a city department is a perfect answer but the kind of governance we have now doesn't have a great track record.

Let's raise the sales tax. We need money for civic activities. No doubt about it. A little hike in the sales tax doesn't hurt a lot and you can raise a lot of money. It can go into a fund to help support artistic and entertainment efforts. I realize nobody is going to like this one, but this is my wish list.

Talkbacks

AndrewJ | March 1, 2013 at 12:20 p.m. (report)

How about instead of electing a mayor based on the color of their skin, we just try electing one that actually fills up a suit and knows where his office is?

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hardgeminiguy | March 1, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. (report)

last fall i talked to a new committee non-profit organization president. He is from Chicago. Someone asked him what suprized him the most about Milwaukee. I expected him to saw great historic and new architecture or something else positive. Insead he said--THE BAD CONDITION OF MILWAUKEE'S STREETS! so true--even in summer and no pot holes. Many main streets ate STATE streets so i believe the state is responsible for funding those street repairs and not the city. So it is Walker's fault--not funding the needed repairs, re-paveing, etc. for those streets. Streets are extremely bumpy as is Wisconsin ave. west of 27 st. as one example.

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YoungMKE83 | March 1, 2013 at 11:44 a.m. (report)

My wish is OnMilwaukee to get rid of Begel.... how pathetic is this guy? Seriously... electing someone just because their Black? Complaining because he has to walk a 1/2 a block? Raising taxes? Sad Man

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littletinyfish | March 1, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (report)

You want the streets to get fixed, but you don't want to pay for parking. This really puts the wish in wish list.

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Photodavie | March 1, 2013 at 7:48 a.m. (report)

Fix the streets - Welcome to WI. The roads get beat-up in the winter, fixed in the spring, repeat. Elect a black mayor - How about we focus on electing the best man for the job, regardless of skin color. Let youth be served - OMG! I finally agree with you Dave! Are you announcing your retirement?!?! Let's have some fun - Of course you want an entertainment district with a strip club. Of course Dave. Get more of those pay stations for parking - OR you could walk a little. Don't think it will kill you. Let's get some good mass transit - Common misconception, MKE actually has one of the most extensive bus sysstems in the nation. Be happy we have what we have. Let's raise the sales tax - HAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! HA! HA!!! HAA!!! OK Dave. We'll raise taxes for "artistic and entertainment efforts" (like your planned strip club). That's quite a wish.

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