Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stamper Calls It Correctly

Long story short: In Milwaukee, the plutocrats and oligarchs are desperately trying to figure out a way to blackmail taxpayers to build them a new arena and support their downtown businesses, even while they feel that the same taxpayers shouldn't be allowed to get a living wage or basic governmental services.

Fortunately, there are still some civic-minded leaders willing to take a stand.

One such leader is Milwaukee County Supervisor Russell Stamper II. From my inbox is a press release he issued pointing out that instead of just worrying about their playgrounds, they should focus on the needs of the people, such a viable and stable mass transit system:

Says Arena and Cultural Amenities Should Not Be Only Focus of Discussion
Supervisor Russell Stamper II said today that the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Task Force on Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs should consider transit as part of its charge to protect and improve the region’s economy.

“Transit remains an important economic issue not only for Milwaukee County, but for the entire region,” Stamper said. “We need to get people to where the jobs are, and federal funding cuts have hurt our existing transit system.

“I urge the Task Force to consider improvements to transit as it deliberates over the region’s cultural and capital needs. While I believe the Task Force has an important job in identifying and addressing the needs of amenities such as parks, museums, performing arts and a new arena, we should not forget that transit improvements are crucial to the economic health not only of Milwaukee County but the entire region.”

Stamper said his district, which stretches from Fond du Lac Avenue and Townsend Street to downtown, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Third Ward, is one of the most diverse districts in Milwaukee County.

“I understand the need to protect our valuable cultural amenities, and I support construction of a new downtown arena, but there are residents of my district who have never been to the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Milwaukee Art Museum or even the lakefront. Many of them do not own automobiles. Their concerns are not for a new arena, it is for getting to their jobs, the grocery store and the doctor.

“We cannot be successful as a community if people cannot find a way to get to where the jobs are located. This is a regional issue. Without effective transit, we could be sentencing those who cannot get to jobs to lives of poverty and despair. It is absolutely critical that the Task Force consider transit improvements as part of the discussion.

“Yes, it’s important that we keep the Milwaukee Bucks here in Milwaukee, and if a new arena is needed I am in support of finding a funding mechanism to build it. But it is just as important that we have a transit system that serves the people who are most in need.”

The 48-member committee met in December and is scheduled to meet again in February. It is charged with making its recommendations by the fourth quarter of 2014.
I will write about this in more detail in due time, but this is a perfect example of what's wrong with our society. It's bad enough that the wealthy want to get even wealthier but to do so while denying basic needs to so many is unconscionable.

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