Dave Reid

MPS isn’t Coke or Pepsi, it’s Walmart

By - Jan 17th, 2011 12:02 pm
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America’s suburban landscape has become littered with empty blight inducing big-box stores.  As Walmart uses up a market, the company shutters stores and moves on to the next neighborhood, leaving hulking vacant boxes and thousands of empty, litter-filled parking spots in its wake.  This happens because Walmart places deed restrictions on the property to insure no possible competitor could purchase the property.

Isn’t this precisely what Milwaukee Public Schools is doing with vacant school buildings?

In response to this problem, Alderman Hines and State Sen Alberta Darling recently announced that they are working together to push for legislation that would change how land sales are handled by MPS.  Their efforts prompted a response from Milwaukee School Board President Michael Bonds making the comment that doing this would be “like asking the Coca-Cola Company to turn over its facilities to Pepsi so Pepsi can expand and compete with the Coca-Cola Company,” but quite frankly MPS isn’t Coke or Pepsi, it’s Walmart.  And that needs to change.

Being for charter schools, or being against charter schools is irrelevant, it seems to me that everyone should be against MPS holding on to these vacant properties that continue to blight our neighborhoods, because they fear a little competition.

Additionally, the current MPS land sale process involves hiring an outside brokerage firm and outside legal assistance.  This is an unnecessary duplication of resources that can be eliminated, as the City of Milwaukee already has a department with the expertise to sell these properties.  Certainly, this change to State Statue Chapter 119 will not resolve the big issues facing MPS, but it won’t bring MPS down if a handful of schools are able to re-purpose existing facilities either.  Hopefully the proposed change will get through the state legislature and signed by Governor Walker so Milwaukee can save some money and put these buildings back into active use.

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2 thoughts on “MPS isn’t Coke or Pepsi, it’s Walmart”

  1. larrywi says:

    Why can’t the city exercise Eminent Domain? Or does that only apply to personal residences? Same goes for WalMart, as long as it is their property doesn’t the municipality hold them responsible for keeping it clean?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @larrywi well oddly it is the city that already owns the school buildings, but because of state law the school board handles the sales currently. As far as walmart and Eminent domain in general I’d say most people don’t want to see the government go to those extremes.

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