Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Is Milwaukee the Next Detroit?

Analyzing this city’s key strengths and weaknesses.

By - Jul 23rd, 2013 10:39 am
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After the news of Detroit’s bankruptcy, I got an email from a reader wondering if Milwaukee was next. “How bad would it have to be before Milwaukee was eligible for bankruptcy?”

That’s the ultimate nightmare. Milwaukee, after all, ranks fourth in 2011 among big cities in the proportion of children — 43 percent — living in poverty, compared to first place Detroit’s 57 percent.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett opened the door to the Detroit comparison in his attempt to kill the state law ending city residency requirements. “If we want the tax base of Milwaukee to resemble the tax base of Detroit, this is the way to go,” he warned.

The city is fighting the new state law in the courts, but if it loses, will that push us closer to Detroit? It clearly won’t help, but the overall picture for the city is far from bleak. Indeed, there are increasing signs that Milwaukee is undergoing something of a renaissance.

Renaissance Center in Detroit

Renaissance Center in Detroit. Photo by Paul Bica.

To begin with, Milwaukee has far lower unemployment, 7.3 percent, than Detroit’s 9.0 percent. Milwaukee is exactly at the national average for unemployment, with a lower rate than in such cities as Indianapolis, Cleveland, Sacramento, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas and Memphis.

Milwaukee, in fact, stood out as the best large city in America when it comes to increasing jobs within three miles of downtown, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution. Between 1998 and 2006, the study found, 44 of 45 large cities saw a decrease in the percentage of its jobs located within three miles of their central business district. Milwaukee was the only city that saw an increase.

How did Milwaukee manage this feat? The biggest factor was probably the development of the Menomonee Valley, which over the past 15 years reclaimed more than 300 contaminated acres and created 4,700 jobs.  That development was the idea of Mayor John Norquist, but as Barrett’s chief of staff Pat Curley notes, Barrett as a congressman was able to secure millions in federal funds for brownfield redevelopment, which made the development possible. And Barrett has worked to woo many of the businesses that moved to the valley.

Nearly as important was Manpower’s decision to move its headquarters to downtown Milwaukee, which brought more than 900 jobs here. That was a victory for Barrett, who offered the company Tax Incremental Financing as a sweetener.

Milwaukee is far different than Detroit in developing jobs near its central business district. Among the 45 largest cities, the Brookings study found, Detroit is the most decentralized, with more than 77 percent of its jobs located more than 10 miles from its central business district, compared to an average of just under 50 percent for large cities. But in Milwaukee the comparable figure is just under 38 percent — lower than all but a couple big cities.

Milwaukee has also begun to outdo other cities in attracting college graduates. A USA Today analysis of Census Data found there was a big increase in college grads flocking to cities from 2006 to 2011. The average increase in cities was 17 percent but it was 45 percent in Milwaukee, bigger than in all but one (San Antonio) of 20 cities the newspaper measured.

And the Census data showed that 80 percent of these college grads moving to cities had gotten jobs. Yes, many may be working in restaurants and bars, but they are earning money that circulates through the local economy. Consider the amazing explosion of restaurants, bars and other retail in Bay View or on Brady Street and you can see the impact of younger residents. We are rapidly reaching the point where, from the north end of the East Side to the far south end of Bay View, an entire stretch encompassing Riverwest, Brewers Hill, East Town, the Third Ward, Walker’s Point and near South Side, are going through redevelopment. This is a major good news story for Milwaukee.

But there still remains another city in Milwaukee that is mired in poverty with high rankings on what you might call the misery index: all the bad things that spring from high poverty, including higher infant mortality, teen pregnancy and crime.

But the health department has worked with local health care systems and social service agencies to combat infant mortality. The result has been a huge reduction in the rate: infant deaths dropped steadily from 140 in 2006 to 96 in 2012.

The campaign to reduce teen pregnancy — where the city health department has worked with United Way, health care providers, community and faith-based organizations — has been even more successful. The pregnancy rate per 1,000 teen girls has dropped from 52 in 2006 to 33 in 2011.

Under the leadership of Police Chief Ed Flynn, who has a national reputation as a law enforcement tactician, Milwaukee has also seen significant decreases in crime.

When analysts comment on the demise of Detroit, they point to several causes. One is an over-reliance on one industry: automobiles. Milwaukee remains heavily reliant on manufacturing, but within that sector there is far more variety than Detroit had.

A second factor cited is high government spending and borrowing. In the last six years, Milwaukee Budget Director Mark Nicolini notes, Detroit borrowed $700 million. It’s debt per capita is about seven times higher than Milwaukee’s, he estimates. “We pay 80 percent of our debt within 10 years, compared to a 50 percent national municipal benchmark,” Nicolini says.

Analysts also suggest Detroit had unaffordable government worker pensions. But a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts actually shows Detroit actually had funds set aside to pay 93 percent of its pension liabilities, which was better than in many cities. No city, however, compared to Milwaukee, which actually has a surplus, with 113 percent of its funding liabilities paid for, better than the 60 other cities examined by the study.

A fourth factor, some suggest, is poor government leadership. Some have tried to attack Milwaukee in that regard, accusing it of profligate spending. But compare the leadership of Mayor Norquist, under whom the city budget rose slower than the rate of inflation, to that of Governor Tommy Thompson, under whom the state budget rose two-and-a-half times faster than inflation. Since then every governor has reduced state shared revenue to Milwaukee, even as the state budget has grown. As Standard and Poor’s last assessment of this city notes, “Milwaukee’s financial operations are constrained by decreasing state aid and a state-imposed levy cap.”

In his remarkably clueless column on Detroit and Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributor Christian Schneider twice suggested “Milwaukee has governance problems” without ever offering one example.

Then he went on to suggest that “Gov. Scott Walker‘s union reforms have given Wisconsin municipalities the flexibility to manage their employee costs to avoid meltdowns.” The implication is that wayward Milwaukee was rescued from its profligacy by the state.

On the contrary, Milwaukee was running balanced budgets while the state posted huge structural deficits under both Republican and Democratic governors. Milwaukee was fully funding its pension long before Walker’s union-crushing Act 10. And Milwaukee accomplished all this even as the state continued to welsh on its century-old promise to provide adequate state-shared revenue.

As for the idea that Act 10 was a boon to Milwaukee, most of its employees are police and fire fighters, who are exempt from Act 10, and whose wages and benefits account for more than half of the city’s budget. Meanwhile Walker has struck down the city’s residency requirement, so all those police and fire fighters with their protected salaries and benefits can leave the city and stop contributing to it through their property taxes.

In the decade after Detroit lifted its residency requirement, more than half of police officers left the city.  A study by Anderson Economic Group, East Lansing, found that Detroit lost $21.7 million in tax revenue in the first three years of the change after more than 15,000 people left the city.

In short, Walker hasn’t helped Milwaukee avoid becoming Detroit. He has struck a blow that might well have pushed the city in that direction, if not for the resiliency of this city, and yes, the generally good government leadership it has had. Milwaukee may lose its battle on residency, but it isn’t headed down the road toward Detroit. Most of the important indicators suggest it is steadily moving in the opposite direction.

Categories: Murphy's Law

37 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Is Milwaukee the Next Detroit?”

  1. STACY MOSS says:

    Good news about Milwaukee?

  2. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Great article! There is still a long way to go, but it’s great to see this all in one place. I wish the darn JSOnline would cover this!

  3. Mike Drew says:

    Another winner, by a role model reporter

  4. Dave K. says:

    Bruce, can the city have a pay differential for resident employees and non-resident employees? In other words, can the city pay out of town employees less than in-town resident employees? The city could conceivably make up the loss in tax base by paying the out-of-towners less money. It seems fair to me that if the contracts with the unions were signed with the assumption that employees were going to be lifelong residents (or at least resident during their earning years), the equation has changed and the city would have the right to adjust the pay scale to reflect that change.

  5. Bruce murphy says:

    Yes, Dave, city is moving to not award raises to those who move out of city. Will be interesting to see if police/fire go to court over that.

  6. Matt says:

    No column by Christian Martinez is “remarkably clueless”. First, the cluelessness is consistent and therefore unremarkable. Secondly, it may not be cluelessness at all. Propaganda has a purpose and Martinez is pursuing an agenda. His employer (which claims independence because he is not “paid”) pushes the same agenda. Of course, both entities are owned by the same corporation, so one may presume its the same agenda.

  7. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Milwaukee is not Detroit for various reasons, mostly the make up is somewhat Conservative fiscally. We had two good Mayors, even though they were dems, Maier and Norquist. Both liked businesses and did not demagogue them as the current bunch of Leftwingers do. County board is nuts, an embarassment. MMSD, same way. Wisconsin center a mess.
    But, Barett is just nothing. He has spent most of his time running for other offices, now he wants to be Fed. judge. Name me three things that he has accomplished while Mayor. What new businesses came here from out of state or that developed here.
    Primary reasons that Detroit was destroyed was the failure of car industry, major crime, poor services and horrible schools. Corruption.
    We have the horrible schools, services are not bad. Crime is not good. Murders are half of what Houston has despite Houston four times the size.
    Flynn has a checkered personal life but is just silly on gun control. He and Barrett rail against semiauto guns that Wisconsinites have had for 100 years, at least three million of them. Only 3 killings last year with rifles, everyone uses pistols. Drug trade is bad, neighborhoods are big problem. Gun laws are not the problem in Milwaukee, we had virtually no gun laws before 1963 and we had far less crime. It is just a convenient excuse for Barrett and Flynn to blame guns. If I got caught doing something bad I tried to blame my little sister. Never works. Out state practically every home has guns. How is the crime out there. Every fall we have one million guys hit the field to hunt. How many shoot each other?
    I have been fortunate to work in pharmacies all through city southside and innerr city and see the problems daily.
    Everything that Bill O’Reilly said last night applies to Milwaukee, as to unwed mothers, poor families, schools cannot teach kids to read and the inner city is not going anywhere.
    Want to solve major problem, fix schools. present way they are organized nothing will ever happen. Break them up and let the neighborhoods run their own schools, give everyone a voucher to find a place where their kids can learn to read. Money is not problem, Wisconsin has dramatically increased funding, way above inflation since 1970 when we had far more kids. Federal involvement and the unions have ruined the schools.
    For years schools bragged about SAT and ACT scores, then they started giving tests to almost everyone like every other state and they went way down. Anyone heard the schools brag about ACT and SATs anymore?

  8. Dave Reid says:

    Ingeteam, Helios, Talgo (until they were chased off). Developed / growing here? Derse, Charter Wire, Direct Supply.. Off the top of my head.

  9. Bruce Thompson says:

    An excellent article. Coincidentally I just read the Brookings report this morning before seeing this. In fairness to the guv, the place where act 10 has had a very positive effect on Milwaukee is reducing the unfunded liability of MPS. A different political entity but with the same taxpayers.

    One distinction that is too-often missed is the difference between the fiscal health of a government unit (city, state) and the health of its economy. One could argue that the guv missed this distinction, creating a state budget surplus while contributing to sub-par economic growth.

  10. fightingbobfan says:

    Don’t forget while all of this was happening, Walker couldn’t even get his act together and hire an economic development director while he was county exec.

    In retrospect, too bad we didn’t work harder to get The Mayor elected governor. Democrats have to do a better job communicating.

  11. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Wow, 4 or 5 in ten years Democrats do great job of communicating, mostly demagogic but look how successful they were under Doyle. Lost 150,000 jobs plus 3.6 billion in hole and billions of new debt. Typical Left wing success. Oh, I forgot, education got worse. More people on welfare and food stamps instead of jobs.

  12. Dave Reid says:

    150,000 jobs lost during Doyle… wow that really does sounds awful. How terrible. Of course that is conveniently leaving out what actually happened.. Recession.

  13. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Doyle was in 8 years,during a large growth period before the recession, caused by leftwing congress and Clinton Freddie Mac disaster.

  14. Bruce murphy says:

    To Bob Dohnal: Most of the decline of Milwaukee happened on Maier’s watch and city spending under him went up significantly, whereas it went up at a rate slower than inflation under both Norquist and Barrett. Maier wasn’t a fiscal conservative, he was heavily dependent on federal and state aid.

  15. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    well I never disagree with bruce, they were all bad or sleezy.

  16. Bruce Thompson says:

    Bob Dohnal,
    It is a wise idea to start with actual data. Employment both in Wisconsin and the US peaked around January 2008. It hit bottom around January 2010 and has since been rising. It is useful then to compare changes in Wisconsin with those nationally over the same time period. During the 2008-2010 crash Wisconsin did slightly better than the country as a whole, with jobs declining 5.9% versus 6.3% for the US. During Doyle’s last year, the state also slightly outperformed the nation (1.1% versus 0.9%). Since then, Wisconsin has underperformed the US (2.3% to 4.8%) up to June. If only private-sector jobs are considered, Wisconsin looks somewhat better but still underperforms (3.1% versus 4.8% for the US).

    Much of the criticism of Doyle’s handling of the economy focuses on the period before the recession. For the first two years Wisconsin job growth closely tracked the nation, but then fell behind. Before blaming Doyle’s policies, it would be helpful to rule out other factors. For example much of the apparent prosperity turned out to be the housing bubble, which was much lower in Wisconsin. Another possible factor was the national decline in manufacturing jobs during this period, which would have particularly hit Wisconsin.

    This brings up the question about the Walker period: has something been happening nationally that would have particularly affected Wisconsin. There was a slight uptick in manufacturing jobs during Walker’s first term (they have since been flat), so that is unlikely to be a factor.

  17. jeff martinka says:

    Very interesting piece. Thanks for gathering so many trends and comparisons in one spot.

    Surprisingly, I am still worried for my hometown, but less so, after the read.

  18. D says:

    The exodus of city workers is overblown. Milwaukee still has many great neighborhoods, as mentioned in the article. The problem in Milwaukee will always be the North Side, which poisoned the reputation of our city. Milwaukee would be one of the finest cities in the nation if these bad parents/fools in our poorest neighborhoods would get their act together. Imagine a Milwaukee where a large portion of the city wasn’t a giant ghetto. Those beautiful homes would be bought/restored, storefronts filled/restored with real businesses (not churches)— money flowing in from elsewhere in the metro area. More jobs, better relations between city residents, less fear, and a more educated workforce. Also, the suburbs would be more willing to invest tax dollars and have more of an interest in mass transit. The bad reputation of our inner city hurts our relationship with the suburbs and rightfully so. Why should they want to spend their tax dollars on OUR problems? Roads, arenas ….fine. But parents who don’t even expect kids to graduate high school and tolerate violent crime.

    I am hopeful for the future but we will never be a complete city until these issues are addressed.

  19. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    You have it right, start with the schools, drown most of the County board they are major embarrassment. someone finally with sense.

  20. duane nessman says:

    I used to live in the milwaukee area.now i live in central wi.even my state rep admits its still milwaukee/se wisconsin vs the rest of the statembarret has done a remarkable job considering walker will punish him because he ran against him twice.

  21. East Slider says:

    As you can probably tell by my name, I live in the City of Milwaukee and I love Milwaukee, I think that compared to any other medium-sized city and metro area in the US, it ranks pretty high in overall quality of life and the opportunities available to people living here, job wise life wise, etc. Like any other similar size area it does have some “issues” though, but its not the next Detroit by any means. Yet, we need to fix something here that could turn us into the Detroit if things don’t change, If you look past the whole issue of who’s to blame for Detroit’s problems and just focus on where Detroit is at today and what needs to be fixed, the whole basis for Detroit’s economic disaster is that people with money-upper class people first followed by upper-middle and now even middle-class people have mostly left the city itself and taken their money with them for the most part. I can see this happening here as well, but its not a mad rush for the burbs here like Detroit has been for 30 years, at least not yet.

    When many of the people with money leave a big or medium sized city for the surrounding suburbs, the city’s left with the lower class, who take a larger per capita share of city benefits and aren’t able to contribute nearly as much in things like property taxes, its like going into a downward spiral. I’m scared for Milwaukee because I can see where for middle and upper class people, it is really starting to cost a LOT more to live in the city itself compared to nearly any suburb. The biggest hit is property taxes, for the amount I pay annually to the city, I could own nearly twice as much home in many suburbs and pay the exact same amount in property tax. That is really annoying, but if it would get to maybe say 3 times a the house, I’d be getting angry at that point! Then what does most of tax go to? The MPS system, which for many of the residents with kids is also painful, because a lot of them enroll their kids in private schools because MPS has some pretty dismal scores. Now, I do know more than a few residents who have their kids in MPS and things are going fine, but I know a lot more that take the private school route, which is another direct hit on the wallet! The more kids, the harder the hit, 3 or more and you’re talking probably as much or more than the painful property tax hit. So for that large group of people, its a big financial hit to live in the city itself and it seems to get a little worse each year!

    Look at the numbers, lets say you have 3 kids, you’re upper middle class and have a decent house, nothing too fancy and pay $7,500 a year in property tax. In Brookfield you would be paying $4k, that’s a $3500 a year right there. Then your 3 kids at private school while if you lived in Brookfield, you’d certainly consider the public schools as an acceptable alternative. That could be another $3k or $4k a year per kid, so you could easily be talking $10k a year, just because you choose to live in the city. So, if you’re middle or upper-middle class, let’s say that their household income is $100k annually, that’s $12k to $15k right there on just those two costs, that’s a big chunk of your money!

    Normally, I’m pretty economically conservative, but I totally disagree with killing residency, I think there is going a moderately big “run for the burbs” once it really hits. What if the trend continues and in 10 years our example of the couple with 3 kids gets up to $20k in extra cost just for living in the city is up to $20k? I think it goes up exponentially, the more it costs to live in the city the number of people that will leave goes up exponentially. That’s when we really start getting sucked into the downward spiral, just like Detroit!

  22. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    residency is not to get even woth barrett, he is good guy and there is not nay personal animus between Walker and Barrett, it is a freedom thing. but, Milwaukee has to solve it’s problems which I have itemeized here at legnth, not stck their heads in sand as most people on th eLeft od till its too late.
    My family homesteaded in Maribel in 1856, grew up in LaX, went to Madison for pharmacy and have a large Conservative network throughout state so, hear daily all the things that I repeat here.
    People hat Milwaukee, that is why Tommy had tough sell on stadium. No one will buy a new 500 million arena for Bucks.
    They look at this is as the anal area of Wisconsin and will never vote any money till they fix the problems, starting with the schools.
    No one realizes around here what damage the Milw. Cty board and its little snot of a chair does to the area. Also MMSD, MPS, Wis. Center, MATC and others have bad reps outstate.
    If milwaukee is to grow and prosper it has to fix the schools. Failing that the only people that work for the government will stay here are the people with no kids. Busing drove everyone with kids out of Milwaukee and that was a leftist idea, really stupid, cost billions and never solved a problem.
    People her defend Milwaukee but never fix anyhting. Nothing has happened of value in ten years since Norquist left.

  23. Bill says:

    Milwaukee does not have decades upon decades of corruption that needed to be rectified. For years Detroit never really did anything to actually fix it’s problems, instead slapping in showcase projects without any true planning or thought to improving the fundamental problems. Detroit could have (and could still be) a beautiful hub for events and commerce in the Metro Detroit area.

  24. kyle says:

    All interesting points. I don’t know that it helps to frame the discussion solely in terms of “corruption,” which seems to be a trending word in the comments here. Surely New York and Chicago have had their fair share of political corruption and yet (despite the ups and downs of both cities and a very close call for NYC in terms of declaring bankruptcy) these cities have continued to improve and remain major hubs for commerce. (I fully expect someone to point out the recent uptick in gun violence in Chicago, and this is totally warranted. All I’m saying is that when people around the country think of major Midwest cities, they think of Chicago and I think rightfully so).

    The biggest issue I see adversely affecting Detroit is obviously population density (or lack thereof). Wikipedia lists Detroit’s 2012 density at about 5,142 people/sq mile, while Milwaukee sits at 6,188 people/sq mile. For Detroit this has contributed to extended response times for public services, a ghostly quiet downtown for a city that once housed nearly 2 million, and a runaway perception that “no one” wants to live there (which may be justified in some cases, not so in others).

    So where does that leave Milwaukee? Well, as far as density goes we’re in roughly the same neighborhood. I’d also argue that Milwaukee doesn’t have much of a structural downtown to begin with. There are wonderful neighborhoods here, but whenever I host out-of-state friends they’re a bit confused about where the ‘hoods end and the downtown begins. Is Cathedral Square Park in downtown, or is that Eastown? Is Marquette in downtown or Westown? Are these all parts of downtown? Does it matter? All of which may be a bit subjective, but density is becoming widely regarded as a driver for innovation and healthy economic growth according to articles like this one: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/12/why-denser-cities-are-smarter-and-more-productive/4049/.

    All of this to say that I don’t know that Milwaukee needs to fear an overnight transformation into Detroit. We don’t have the anemic population shrinkage of the Motor City (Milwaukee’s population has been slowly growing since the late 2000′s, though there has been steady decline in population from the 70′s up until that point) nor the crisis in public services. But, there are really important factors, including our industrial history, that make us more similar to Detroit than some might be comfortable with.

  25. Eric J says:

    To those who say fix the schools… what do you mean? No body has a solution to deal with mass numbers of poor kids. The folks outside of the city don’t have clue as to what happens in urban schools. Not a single clue. I am not a teacher, but have sent all my kids through MPS. The schools that that have fewer poor kids in MPS do better that any other school in the state. Thers is no fix for educating mass numbers of poor kids under the current structure.

  26. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Fix schools, first of all get rid of the big districts, no one, teachers or parents can work with these arrogant bastards on Vliet. Break it up into neighborhood districts, give each one a set amount per student. Put the parents and neighborhoods in charge. its their kids, if they cannot do it for their kids it is their problem. Responsibility it is called. Keep handing out vouchers to parents that will use them.
    The more that the Feds have become involved and the Unions education has suffered. The figures are incontrovertible.
    Take a look around the world people in India, Bangladesh, China, do far better teaching kids for peanuts than we do. Watch “Waiting for Superman” and see districts that do well with poor kids.
    The past 40 years have been disaster, so naturally the Left wants to keep doing more of it.
    We spend tons of money, way over inflation to educate kids in Wisconsin. If the present people cannot do it and those that think it cannot be done, then get lost, find people that can. Other wise we destin thousands of kids to poverty.

  27. Dave K. says:

    I don’t have any data to support this hypothesis, but I’d also argue that another reasons Milwaukee is not Detroit is that Milwaukee is part of the Milwaukee-Chicago regional area. I know Wisconsinites like to bash Illinois and Chicago, but there’s a strong economic tie all along this part of the Lake Michigan coast with a massive superhighway and strong rail lines. I suspect that Detroit is much more of an island within the state of Michigan.

  28. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    detroit is an island all right, deserted by anyone that was the least bit Conservative and made some money, chased out by the Left. What is teh biggest state park Illinois uses?

  29. Tim says:

    Bob Dohnal, where is your proof?

  30. Dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    The population went from over 2 million to less than 700,000. They hated the 1%ers. Just like Milwaukee and Barrett went on last year

  31. Clayton says:

    http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/col-charlotte-cities-illusion-growth-economics.html

    The Illusion of Growth Economics: Can Cities Like Charlotte Reinvent Themselves?
    http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/charles-marohn/20313/detroit-american-autopsy

    Detroit: An American autopsy

    http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/charles-marohn/20319/second-life-cycle-blues

    Second life cycle blues

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/07/are-the-suburbs-where-the-american-dream-goes-to-die/278014/

    Are the Suburbs Where the American Dream Goes to Die?

    New research shows upward mobility is higher in denser cities

  32. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Most people do not care about upward mobility, just want a good job, small buisness, fun life. When you put all of these idiots in big cites they change habits. Read Jefferson.

  33. Bruce Thompson says:

    Back in the 50′s, I spent my junior high years in Detroit. Actually we were 5 blocks outside Detroit. I am struck that most articles about Detroit tend to treat the 50′s as its high point.
    Professionals and managers had already mostly abandoned the city (except for the Indian Village neighborhood) for the suburbs. The city was remarkably unattractive, with few parks and the water front largely devoted to warehouses and factories. Belle Isle, the major public space on the Detroit River had a run-down zoo that today the animal rights folks would try to close down in an instant.
    Looking back, I think the seeds of Detroit’s destruction were already set. Once the factories closed, it had no ability to attract creative people who would build the next generation of businesses.
    So one reason that Milwaukee is not Detroit, I think, is that we had the visionaries, who built our park system, preserved many of our streams, and made sure that most of our lakefront was available for the public.

  34. Whiplash says:

    “Dohnal” disqualified himself from any credibility with this insane assertion:

    “residency is not to get even woth (sic) barrett, he is good guy and there is not nay (sic) personal animus between Walker and Barrett,”

  35. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey says:

    “we had the visionaries, who built our park system, preserved many of our streams, and made sure that most of our lakefront was available for the public.”

    Yes, we did; and most of them were Socialists, plus a few Progressives and progressive members of the other two parties.

    We don’t need another Norquist, we need another Frank Zeidler.

  36. dohnal(Wis. Conservtive Digest says:

    Milwaukee vs Detroit: Great article about DEtroit in Todays WSJ. Lays the blame right where it belongs, the crooked administration of Coleman Young for 20 years destroyed Deroits base, very much like busing killed a lot of Milwaukee. Read it and the editorial and you get a much better idea of what happened.
    Milwaukee’s problems are simple to define but almost impossible to solve cause the Leftist cult that controls Milwaukee will not do what needs to be done and when someone like David Clarke offers up ideas they have hissy fits.
    What are the problems? First and foremost is MPS. Terrible schools drive out the base, middle class people with kids will never send their kids to this mess. If they can go to some CHOICE schools they just might stick around in some places.
    Next we have drugs and the shooting gallery that creates great derision out state. People that see little crime or murders in their areas see the headlines daily bout murders and violence in Milw. and just wonder what is going on.
    Next you have the one parent families that have taken over the inner city on north side. That has destroyed the family and all of the problems that come with it. Then you have this little cult that runs Milwaukee headed up by Frank Gimble and co. They are not trusted by anyone in Mad city and for good reason.
    I give Bruce a lot of credit for exposing these crooks but nothing ever happens, just like in Coleman Youngs Detroit. Then Milwaukee Cty. board and whats her name in charge, embarrasses them are every day.
    There are more problems, like MMSD, Wis. Cente,r but the main ones will never be solved cause there is not the will to do so.
    Most of the Leftists sitting round UWM, the eastside and a few neighborhoods are safe in their little balliwicks and social life so they just avoid the bad areas and lecture David Clarke about his radio ads.
    Why does anyone think that Waukesha is a boom town with growing industry and great neighborhoods? Cause the Milwaukee leftists did their best to drive the businesses out there ,along with the middle class. They are not coming back.

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