The Milwaukee Bucks open their season this week, with high hopes, a new roster and coach, and something else: a newly created task force.
If I had a dollar for every task force I’ve seen established in Milwaukee I would be on a beach in some gorgeous clime, a drink with umbrellas in my hand and a servant/reader doing the honors with the latest bestseller.
A task force is created for two reasons. One is to find a solution. The other is to provide a smokescreen because the solution has already been found. I have been a member of both kinds.
For example, when I worked for the Newark Public Schools I helped to create, and was a member of, a task force to study and make recommendations on the controversial question of giving teachers 90 minutes off during their day to plan, work with colleagues and take courses to make them better teachers. The plan would extend the school day by 45 minutes.
Our task force had more than 70 people on it, representing every interest group we could think of and some we couldn’t. We held hearings in every area of the city and had parents testify in droves. Almost all of them hated the idea.
The problem was that we had already cut a deal with the teacher’s union to make this happen. When we announced the task force recommendations, it was not much of a surprise that we thought it was a good idea.
I am reminded of that event, and others like it, with the announcement of the 48-member task force to study how to get a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Let’s make no mistake about it – despite talking about improving or helping the museum, zoo, symphony, Marcus Center and anything else you can find Downtown – this is about getting a new place for the Bucks to play so they don’t leave town.
I’m not about to list all 48 members. But suffice it to say that members represent Milwaukee, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Racine Counties; organizations like NEWaukee, Spirit of Milwaukee and Visit Milwaukee. We have the Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the African-American Chamber of Commerce.
There is as judge, an alderman, realtors and architects, casino people, rich people and poor or average people. Missing from the group are representatives of the the Hmong community, Asian store owners (of which there are many), the bus company, the (not so) Grand Avenue, the guys who are eventually going to open a strip club, Arts Performing Center and people who own restaurants and bars.
To think this group is actually going to do something like develop, research and come up with ideas for saving every entertainment venue in Milwaukee is like thinking the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are real.
This is about the Bucks. And despite all the protestations, I think the deal has already been made.
I think the task force is going to recommend a tiny, multi-county sales tax, like the financing that built Miller Park. I think their report, based on hearings, expert testimony and all kinds of stuff, will recommend just that.
They may go back to that entertainment district thing and fold it into something like the Wisconsin Center District, which can levy its own taxes.
But I believe that this is a done deal. The task force is just for show. Anybody who was serious about needing to get something done would not appoint a task force with 48 people on it. Can you imagine a more chaotic meeting? Forget it.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.