Eyes forward to the future in Milwaukee County

Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic had her vision for the future of the Milwaukee County government published  in the Sunday April 24 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a friend of Marina’s and her colleague on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, I echo her call for cooperation and proactive governance. While the time ahead of us looks bleak, I think it holds great opportunities for improvement of our quality of life in Milwaukee County.

In her column, Supervisor Dimitrijevic focused on the need for mental health services, developing the Park East land, and increasing sustainability efforts at county facilities. All of these contain long-term cost savings, and the sustainable development bears with it paths to increased revenue. First, providing decent housing and community-based care will alleviate many of the costs of our antiquated mental health system that we are straining under.

Second, getting the Park East land developed would be a huge boon to our quality of life in mangy ways. In addition to new state and county revenue, having the barren land developed at last would revitalize a long-dead part of the city and the county, bringing people and money back into our communities. We all would benefit from the development, even if we live across the county from the land.

Tying into this is the drive towards sustainability which the county put into action through Supervisor Dimitrijevic’s Green Print plan. The legislation has already netted the county nearly $1 million in cost savings, savings which will continue to multiply in coming years. I will strive to expand those savings through innovative projects such as the creation of green roofs, even energy production at county facilities. This will be feasible through the smart public-private partnerships that I helped bring together at the Hide House Community Garden, which is helping revitalize a sleepy corner of Milwaukee’s South Side.

I also recognize  the need to create new sources of revenue. We can begin to do this through implementing my idea for a county “SuperPass,” which will generate tourism and save taxpayers money at the same time. With a SuperPass, you and your friends and family could visit and enjoy our many county attractions with ease. With more people using the facilities again, our quality of life will improve. It becomes a win-win situation rather than a zero-sum game.

The new leadership we have gained in Milwaukee County over the past several years will make it possible for us to overcome the county’s inertia and begin moving forward once again. While it may not be easy, we will work actively to improve our situation. Since I joined the county government three weeks ago, I have meet many talented individuals within the county government who share this goal. Likewise, I have sensed a new willingness to overcome inertia, work together, and improve our quality of life. This is precisely what Supervisor Dimitrijevic has called for. I think it can be done, and we will make it happen.

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Rallying for transit with other Milwaukee County Supervisors at Joint Finance hearing

I will be appearing with three future Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors colleagues at the State Legislatures Joint Finance Committee hearing. Here’s the announcement from Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th District, Patricia Jursik, 8th District, and Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, 19th District:

For Immediate Release April 8, 2011
Contact: Harold Mester, Public Information Manager
414/278-4051 or harold.mester@milwcnty.com

“SAVE OUR RIDE” WITH SUPERVISORS AT JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING

County residents invited to join Supervisors riding the bus to testify at public hearing

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, along with Supervisor-Elect Jason Haas, are inviting residents to join a coalition of Supervisors, transit advocates, and members of ATU Local 998 riding the bus to a public hearing of the State Legislature‟s Joint Finance Committee Monday morning. The coalition plans to ask State lawmakers to “Save OUR Ride” and preserve funding for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), which continues to face a funding crisis. Despite 52% of Milwaukee County voters approving a referendum taking transit off the property tax, the State has not enacted a dedicated funding source.

“Unfortunately, the State Budget proposal includes a 10% cut to transit, which would lead to route cuts, longer transfer times, higher fares, and make it more difficult to create jobs or foster independence for disabled residents,” Supervisor Dimitrijevic said. “A healthy transit infrastructure is critical to our growth. Arbitrary cuts with no ability to increase local revenues could be a final blow to our transit system. We need to tell the Joint Finance Committee to support transit funding to Milwaukee County.”

“My colleagues and others are riding the bus Monday morning to show how important it is for us to have modern transit connections,” said Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr., Chairman of the County Board‟s Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee. “Transit connects workers with jobs, students with education, and retail with customers. We all must ‘Save OUR Ride’ to ensure a bright future.”

“I am particularly concerned about mass transit funding being shifted out of the transportation fund,” said Supervisor Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. “This would force us to compete with all other services in the general fund.”

Transit supporters are invited to join Supervisors as they ride the bus to the public hearing at State Fair Park. The group will board the 8:26 a.m. departure of MCTS Freeway Flyer Route 44U from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (UWM) at the corner of Hartford/Maryland. They will then ride to the Wisconsin State Fair Park Expo Center, 8200 W. Greenfield Avenue in West Allis. The bus is expected to arrive shortly before 9:00 a.m. Freeway Flyers could be cut unless action is taken to preserve State funding.

“Save OUR Ride” News Conference/Rally for transit funding 9:00 A.M. Monday, April 11, 2011 State Fair Park Expo Center 8200 W. Greenfield Avenue

Supporters riding from UWM:

Park in UWM Pavilion structure, Edgewood Ave. between Oakland and Downer. Walk to Hartford/Maryland.

Route 44U departs promptly at 8:26

Media and all other participants:

Supervisors will arrive on Route 44U near 84th/Greenfield by 9:00 a.m.

Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing is 10am – 6pm

 

Let me be clear that I stand with my colleagues. The new state budget spells dire trouble for transit. Without a dedicated source of funding, it has been ever-more difficult to find the funding to continue this vital service. If you want to fight unemployment, fund transit. If you want to fuel the economy, fund transit. To me, that is the only way to go.

Campaign: WIN.

We did it!

My campaign for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has yielded a victory:

Jason Haas 6,281 — 56%

Steven Kraeger 4,906 — 44%

That’s a win.

• • •

I stayed positive, and I thank my opponents for a good race.

I will be sworn in within the next ten business days, and then we get to work on redistricting.

Also, congratulations to my future colleagues, Supervisor-Elect Eyon Biddle and County Executive-Elect Chris Abele! I look forward to working with you and my other colleagues on the board.

I must say thank you to each and every one of my campaign staff and volunteers. I am truly grateful for your support, and thank you for helping make me part of the next generation of Milwaukee’s public servants.

Finally, to my family, and everyone who voted for me: thank you. I wouldn’t have gotten here without you.

Onward!

As reported this morning, I can now begin gathering signatures to get on the spring 2011 ballot!

I have spent much of the past month and a half knocking on doors on the south side, meeting voters, and talking about my platform—Clean Parks, Better Transit, and Community Safety.

I have until January 11 to collect signatures. If necessary, a primary election will be held February 15, which is the same day as the regular primary. Former Supervisor Chris Larson did us a favor by resigning the county seat when he did, as the date of the special election will be the same as the usual spring election. This saves the taxpayers the $52,000 cost of having a free-standing special election.

I thank Chris Larson for his work on the County Board for the past three years, and wish him much success in the state Senate.

And now, the game is afoot. Let’s go!