By Steve Jagler Special to Published Dec 23, 2008 at 10:25 AM
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

BizTimes Milwaukee always wants to know what its readers are thinking. So, lately, we've been asking you in snap polls about your thoughts on a wide variety of topics at

To be sure, the polls are unscientific. But from my ongoing conversations with many of you, I think they do a fair job of generally reflecting what you're thinking out there. Some of the poll results are surprising. Some not so much.

The results indicate a growing tendency to tighten belts and considerable apprehension about government bailouts.

Here's a sampling of some the poll results in the past few weeks:

  • Will your company need to shift more of the health care cost burden on to its employees, either through higher deductibles, higher premiums or health savings accounts, in 2009? (Yes, 80 percent. No, 20 percent.)
  • Given the state of the economy, will you be cutting back on your charitable giving in 2009? (Yes, 57 percent. No, 43 percent.)
  • Will your company have a holiday party this year? (Yes, 53 percent. No, 47 percent.)
  • Will your company be giving holiday bonuses to employees this year? (Yes, 46 percent. No, 54 percent.)
  • Do you believe the federal government's bailout of the financial services industry was needed? (Yes, 34 percent. No, 66 percent.)
  • Do you plan to buy a new vehicle in 2009? (Yes, 29 percent. No, 67 percent. I would if I could find the credit to do so, 4 percent.)
  • Should the federal government bail out U.S. automakers in Detroit? (Yes, 9 percent. Yes but with some strings attached, 34 percent. No, 56 percent.)
  • Would you buy a car manufactured by a bankrupt company? (Yes, 55 percent. No, 45 percent.)
  • How is your company affected by the health of the American automobile industry? (We are directly affected, 33 percent. We are indirectly affected, 40 percent. We are not affected, 26 percent.)

Perhaps two of the more surprising poll results involve regional transportation. We asked, "Would you be in favor of raising the sales tax by .5 percent to fund a regional transit system that would include the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail?" A majority (56 percent) answered, "Yes."

And here's another interesting one. We asked, "Should Milwaukee County turn over the oversight of General Mitchell International Airport to a private company?" Sixty-one percent answered, "No."

Finally, we asked the no-brainer question of our readers, who tend to be the owners and top executives of privately held companies in southeastern Wisconsin. Drum roll, please ... "Do you believe the mandated sick leave ordinance would be good for the City of Milwaukee?" Ninety-four percent answered, "No."

Merry Christmas or happy holidays. That's not a poll. Just pick the one that fits. Here's wishing you a peaceful, healthy, happy and prosperous 2009.

Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at