Dave Reid

Contentious M.O.R.E Debate Continues

By - Mar 4th, 2009 12:11 pm
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The controversial M.O.R.E ordinance was the primary item of discussion at this meeting of the Common Council.  This ordinance proposed new requirements related to hiring City of Milwaukee residents, the utilization of emerging small businesses, and the paying of prevailing wages for all City of Milwaukee projects and private developments that receive $1 million or more in TIF funding.  It was widely believed that this ordinance was going to be put to a vote of the full Common Council today, which made Alderman Michael Murphy‘s motion to send this file to the Finance & Personnel Committee all that more contentious.  Through the discussion it became evident that this file had originally been scheduled to appear the Finance & Personnel Committee but was removed at the last minute because of a legal technicality.  Immediately prior to the Common Council meeting a fiscal note that indicated the ordinance would require a number of full-time employees to manage the new programs arrived which made the motion to send it back to committee both legal and appropriate.  Although he indicated he would likely support the ordinance Alderman Murhpy argued that “basic issues, and basic questions are just not being addressed” and that “one needs to take the time to do it right.”

At first the sponsors of the legislation were surprised and took the motion as a delaying tactic.  They argued that the process had been fully transparent and didn’t require any further delay.  Alderman Ashanti Hamilton stated that “I think the public has been engaged and involved in the creation of this ordinance.”  During the discussion Alderman Nik Kovac piped in saying “I believe in process, I campaigned on process”, but he then indicated he didn’t believe sending it back to committee would change anything.  In fact he said “the controversy today will be the same in 21 days.”  Alderman Joe Davis fired away at the implication that not enough questions had been asked or that there wasn’t enough transparency to the process contending that “I made a point to schedule a special meeting to achieve transparency.”

Initial supporters of the motion argued more questions needed to be asked and that it would be appropriate to send it back to the Finance & Personnel Committee.  Specifically, Alderman Terry Witkowski supported the motion in an attempt to gather more information saying “I do support sending this back to committee, this was a constantly evolving piece of legislation.”  In an attempt to bring a bit of levity to the debate Alderman Jim Bohl joked “I’m feeling a Rodney King moment, why can’t we just all get along here?” Then he defended Alderman Murphy’s motives and attempted to call the question.  Oddly on this specific motion the ability to call the question isn’t an allowed so the debate continued.  Alderman Murphy responded to the criticisms by stating “I do feel I was attacked unfairly” and he again attempted to clarify his position stating that “the fact is somebody, literally two minutes before the meeting handing you the fiscal note.  That’s not how we conduct business.”

It was evident that the Alderman Murphy’s message got through to the sponsors when Alderwoman Milele Coggs supported Alderman Murphy’s motion saying that “I don’t want to see it tainted in any way, because of issues of transparency.”  In the end all of the sponsors, with the exception of Alderman Davis, agreed to let it be sent back to Finance & Personnel Committee to insure it was given a full and complete hearing.

Categories: Real Estate

2 thoughts on “Contentious M.O.R.E Debate Continues”

  1. Matthew says:

    What is the big rush to get this passed through, it isn’t like there is a large number of developers currently banging down their doors for TIF’s right now since most projects can’t get any funding. Perhaps they should care more about getting their legislation right than getting it done.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    Agreed, and actually think some of them realized that which is why they voted to send it to F&P.

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