Last minute attempts to get 1% sales tax through Joint Finance

We the People of Milwaukee asked for and voted in favor of the 1%. Let’s make it happen!

Copying an email from Bill Sell — hope you don’t mind that, Bill —

Once more into the breach (vote expected this Thursday)

A call today, or tonight (voice mail or fax or email is fine) to

John Lehman (d)
Senate District 21, Racine
PO Box 7882
866 615-7510
608 267-6793 fax

To ask him to support RTA and Milwaukee’s desire for a sales tax to pay our own way to fix our parks and transit

pick any of one or two or three reasons:

* Today 40,000 jobs are inaccessible to public transportation in Milwaukee due to the Walker bus cuts.
* If our buses do not get dedicated funding, the number of inaccessible jobs will rise to something over 100,000.
* Milwaukee voted to fix this with a rise in our County’s sales tax. And a reduction in our property tax. Our bus system will die without this change.

and please say THANK YOU for his support

thanks so much
peace and joy to all, especially
* our Milwaukee workers and students who are
* blind
* underage
* carless for any reason
* seniors who should not be driving

Bill Sell

We also need to push Lena Taylor and Pedro Colón on this, as they both sit on Joint Finance.Let’s make it happen!


Walker or Neumann, which will it be?

As the Sheboygan-based blog SheVegas notes, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker will run against incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle for governor in 2010. This will come with as a great shock to approximately no one, as Walker is as subtle as a wet sock hitting you in the face. What may have come as a surprise to some is the possible presence of former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann in the race. The possible entry of Neumann into the race was telegraphed by Jim Klauser, whom Uppity Wisconsin describes as “a very smart GOP operative,” wrote an open letter to that advocated for Mark Neumann to join the race.

Now, as I was out of the state when Neumann ran against Sen. Feingold, I don’t know much about him. I know a thing or two about Walker, having watched the continued decline of Milwaukee County under his reign as county exec. But, how do these two stack up compared to one another?

Did Neumann graduate from college?

Is Walker a devoted Christian?

Do they both have plans to freeze taxes, and if so, how do they compare?

If the Republican primary was tomorrow, who which one should I vote for?

It’s time to start thinking about and talking about it.

April 24: Feeling left out after seeing Neumann getting all the attention, Walker: Tosa Error has confirmed he’ll run in 2010.

April 26: James Rowen has delivered his thoughtful commentary on this matter.

Joint Finance Committee Asked to Include 1% Sales Tax For Milwaukee County in Budget

[Repost of Dan Cody; I am also part of the Quality of Life Alliance and have taken prescribed action on this matter.]

The Quality of Life Alliance, a group I’m a part of, released the following press release today asking for the Joint Finance Committee to include the voter approved 1% sales tax for Milwaukee County in the upcoming budget.

For the sake of our Park System, Transit, and Emergency Medical Systems, we are asking the Joint Finance Committee to include in the next State budget what the citizens of Milwaukee County have already approved: a one percent sales tax increase that will provide sustainable, dedicated funding for Parks, Transit and EMS.

“Please don?t continue to allow the voices of the 400,000 people who voted in November?s referendum to be ignored”, remarked Cheri Briscoe of Sierra Club-Great Waters Group and Quality of Life Alliance member. The referendum was advisory and requires action from the state to be enacted.

“Our Milwaukee County Park System, once proud and strong, is now limping along with an ever decreasing staff to perform daily maintenance and a log of deferred maintenance for its facilities of nearly $275 million,” added Jim Goulee, a QLA member who is also on the Board of Directors for Preserve our Parks.

This group’s attempt to gain local legislative support for enabling legislation from our state legislators was unfortunately, a tough sell. The Governor instead inserted the creation of RTA for Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Racine and funded by a sales and use tax in his proposed budget, leaving out any support for Milwaukee County Parks.

It is now becoming apparent that the proposal for the creation of the Southeastern Wisconsin RTA is not finding the necessary support from the Joint Finance Committee and may not be included in their version of the state budget. Instituting the sales tax increase in Milwaukee County would, in fact, provide the source of funding needed for a Milwaukee County RTA and could easily accommodate a broader RTA if and when it is created.

“Milwaukee County needs property tax relief and we need a solution to our looming transit and parks crisis,” commented County Supervisor Chris Larson, Quality of Life Alliance spokesperson. “Milwaukee County needs the 1% sales tax that was passed in referendum nearly months ago. Property tax payers can?t wait any longer, transit riders can?t wait, any longer, and all our neighbors who love our parks shouldn?t have to wait any longer to see these problems fixed.”

Quality of Life Alliance (QLA) is a grassroots organization made up of representing a wide swatch of Milwaukee County?s concerned citizens set out to improve our community for a stronger future. Members of the Quality of Life Alliance include transit riders, union leaders, parks supporters, and business men and women, and everyday citizens who are deeply concerned about the future of Milwaukee County and all of Southeastern Wisconsin. Quality of Life Alliance provided the advocacy effort that led to the passage of the sales tax/property tax relief referendum last November. The Quality of Life Alliance is a registered political action committee based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It’s important the members of the Joint Finance Committee understand the importance of this dedicated funding source to the regions well being for decades to come. All we’re asking is to let the voices of the people of Milwaukee County be heard on this issue.

If you know any of the members of the JFC from the Milwaukee area like Rep. Tamara Grigsby, Rep. Pedro Colon, Sen. Lena Taylor or Sen. Alberta Darling, please contact them to voice your support.

[h/t Dan Cody.]

Vote, darnit, vote!

Today’s the spring election in Wisconsin. There are three four several races I’ve got something to say about:

Zach Wisniewski for South Milwaukee School Board

Zach is a great guy. Given how he talks about the South Milwaukee School Board meetings convening and taking literally minutes to unanimously vote without real discussion or debate, it sounds like they could use a shot of new blood. And Zach is the man for the job. I’m looking at you, my three South Milwaukee readers!

Shirley Abrahamson for the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is on the ballot. That’s the race I have the most to say about. The last two state Supreme Court races have been bought and sold by the manufacturing lobbyist group. They’ve sat this one out for some reason, but that doesn’t mean you can not vote in this. Her opponent is a right-wing hack who would tip the balance on the state supreme court for the at least the next ten years if he gets in. So let’s see that he doesn’t, and vote for Shirley Abrahamson.

Tony Evers for state Superintendent of Schools

My pick in the state schools superintendent race is Tony Evers, who is currently the deputy state superintendent. The teachers that I know want him in. His opponent has a well-connected corporate lobbying effort backing her, but has no actual hands-on experience. That’s why my vote is going to Tony Evers.

J.D. Watts for Judge – Milwaukee County, Branch 15

J.D. has come to Drinking Liberally twice under his own volition. That’s enough for me. And he’s got experience being a judge, and a good legal mind. Give J.D. your vote.

Christopher Lipscomb for Judge – Milwaukee County, Branch 6

Like Mr. Watts, Mr. Lipscomb has abundant experience as a judge. And I bet Sup. Theo Lipscomb’s brother makes for a fine public servant.

Please vote, especially today, when we need every vote we can get to make sure this one comes out right. Look no further than Minnesota, where Al Franken is still waiting to be seated thanks to complexities with vote counting. Your vote does matter.

And the numbers are in…

1) I’m sorry to say that Zach will not be serving on the South Milwaukee School Board. That’s disappointing, but, the voters know who he is now, if not how to spell his name. Seriously, bravo for being a candidate. Also, fellow traveler Michael Mathias narrowly lost his bid for MPS school board. Another well run, honest race; sorry it turned out this way for you both. We need more people like you – both of you.

2) As Chadwick said in the comments, the two statewide races did turn out quite nicely. Congratulations to Mr. Evers and Chief Justice Abrahamson, and my personal thanks to the voters of Wisconsin. Most of you, anyway. 😉

3) Congratulations to J. D. Watts, for beating a man who ran a dishonest, low-brow campaign.

I wonder, if WMC & Co. were buying this supreme court race, would their ethnic-fear-tinged ads have tipped the race to Gabler? We can only wonder. But, the good guys (mostly) won.

Awesome Depression deepens; legal jobs dry up

Word has it that a major local law firm has laid off a bunch of staff and has frozen or reduced its hiring of this batch of new law school graduates. Thankfully, we are not effected, but many of my almost-wife’s classmates are not so lucky. Wisconsin Law Journal has a story citing similar and broader trends in the state legal industry.

Please make it so! State applies for Madison-Milwaukee rail connector money

Some years ago, I wrote to the Journal Sentinel telling them that I knew five people who commuted back and forth between Madison and Milwaukee on a daily basis, and more that did it a few times a week. While I can’t find that letter online, the point still stands. Five people were driving at least 180 miles each day, using 35 to 40 gallons of gasoline each day, and wearing out their cars that much faster, all of which is to speak nothing of the sheer amount of time consumed by driving each day.

As someone who still has regular business in Madison and Johnson Creek, I would be grateful if there were a faster, easier way to go about getting over there.

The good news is that Gov. Doyle and his administration “are seeking federal stimulus money to pay the full $519 million cost of a proposed 110-mph Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train line, not just part of it…” [JSOnline]

A dream would come true were this to unfold!

Wisconsin web site cost $2 MILLION dollars!

Dan Cody is an old school techie like me, having used USENET back in the days when a 2400 baud modem was literally the hottest thing since an overclocked 386 without a dedicated cooling system. Bad analogies aside, Dan took it upon himself to take the old story about how the new Campaign Finance Information System (CFIS) web site that was developed for the Government Accountability Board (GAB). You may recall that the new web site carried a skyline image of Minneapolis rather than Madison, which many of us found amusing, but nothing much came of it after that.

While the site now does have a proper image on it, the cost of the web site is something that deserves more attention. You see, Dan did an open records request to find out just how much money the state had spent on this official state web site.

The cost was $2 million. Yes, two million dollars. Not that somehow less shocking $1M that the Journal Sentinel reported, but two million.

Is it any wonder we’re in a deficit when the state spends this much money on a web site of limited functionality and apparently unlimited budget demands?

Hats off to Dan for his great work on this. It’s one of the best blog stories I’ve ever seen, and it’s right over here.