Davis Sets, Cancels Meeting on Streetcar
His claim on streetcar turns out to be false. Meanwhile, new city assessor appointed with little fanfare.
The anti-streetcar folks shot themselves in the foot once again in their quixotic attempt to assure Milwaukee remains the densest city without a rail system. Ald. Joe Davis hastily scheduled a Monday news conference to “discuss reports that $54.9 million in federal money that makes up the funding base for a proposed downtown streetcar could be used for a bus rapid transit system,” as he put it.
“The public may have been misled by city leaders who claimed this money absolutely had to be used for a streetcar,” Alderman Davis declared. “The Common Council should have a chance to weigh all relevant proposals for this funding to decide which will provide the most benefit to city residents.”
Reports? What reports? According to Davis, the “report” was an article in the Daily Reporter claiming “that federal funds could be reallocated to build a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. BRTs utilize rubber-tire buses and exclusive high-occupancy vehicle lanes to quickly move passengers between destinations.”
But, less than hour before the scheduled 2:30 p.m. press conference, it was canceled by its organizer.
Why? “In light of a need to verify critical information that appeared in the recent Daily Reporter article,” Davis wrote.
That’s a dignified way of saying “because the story got the facts wrong, and I don’t know what I am talking about.”
Matt Taub, the author of the Daily Reporter article wrote, “some proponents of the proposed Milwaukee streetcar have argued that the $54.9 million the federal government has offered for the project can go to no other purpose. But a closer review of federal requirements, detractors say, reveals that a bus rapid transit system is within the realm of possible uses.” Wrong.
Davis seized on this language from an unnamed source to call his press conference, which he then cancelled, presumably after Taub let him know the story was incorrect. (Taub tells Urban Milwaukee the Daily Reporter intends to run a correction.)
Prior to the cancellation of Davis’ press conference, Mayor Tom Barrett was asked for a comment on the Davis/Taub theory and his office responded with the release of two critical documents. One was the 2011 letter quoted in the Daily Reporter article that, indeed made it explicitly clear that the funds must be allocated to a fixed-rail project, that the Secretary of Transportation has no power to alter the terms of the appropriation, and that any change would require an amendment to the bill.
The mayor also released a 2009 congressional document that codified the appropriation. The budget document [p. 2041] specifically states that “the disposition of these funds has been proposed allotting forty per-cent of the funds for Milwaukee County to purchase energy efficient buses and sixty percent for the downtown Milwaukee fixed rail circulator.”
Notice the words, “fixed rail.” There is no mention of a “fixed guideway” in this document. As far as the bus money, that has been long ago spent by Milwaukee County.
New Assessor for City
In February, Steve Miner was named Assessment Commissioner for the City of Milwaukee. He replaces Mary Reavey, who retired. Miner had served as the chief assessor for the City of Milwaukee since January 2014 until winning this promotion. Previously he served as the City Assessor in Wauwatosa from August 2007 to January 2014. Before that he was the assessor in Cudahy from 1992 – 2007. As a consultant he has reassessed and defended his reassessments of communities like Bayside. Miner got his start as a manager of an athletic footwear store (just like Sen. Chris Larson) before finding himself in the assessment business. Professionally, the Eagle Scout is on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity and the Southshore credit union.
He is also the webmaster and former president of the Wisconsin Association of Assessment Officers. This is yet another professional organization that was blindsided by budget changes offered by Gov. Scott Walker, who proposes to completely restructure the assessment practices of the state by requiring, for example, Milwaukee County to assess most properties outside of Milwaukee City and its largest suburbs. The county, however, does not have an assessment office.
It has been suggested by this writer that perhaps the City Assessor could undertake the assessment functions as a contractor for the county.
The assessor’s office has a 2015 budget of $4,417,671. As Chief Assessor, Miner made $124,800. In her last year as assessor, Reavey made $146,769 — more than the Mayor.
New Deputy Clerk for City
Richard Pfaff is the new Deputy City Clerk for the City of Milwaukee. The department veteran replaces Rebecca Grill, who left in November to become Administrator of the City of West Allis. City Clerk Jim Owczarski, who is appointed to his job for a four year term by the Common Council members, selected Pfaff as his deputy. Owczarski makes $92,376 in his job, while his new number two will be paid $89,479. The office coordinates the activities of the Common Council, including information, tavern licensing, record keeping and other responsibilities. Grill, as administrator, will serve as the Chief Operating Officer of West Allis. She was recommended for the position last October by Mayor Dan Devine, who walked in Milwaukee’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday.
Cream City Foundation Welcomes New Director
A reception at the Potawatomi Hotel welcomed Peter J. Holbrook, PhD. as the new Executive Director of the Cream City Foundation Wednesday, March 11th. The foundation focuses on Gay and Lesbian issues in the area. Dan Sawall, Chair of the board, said the group expected about 150 reservations for the event, but “we got 260,” he noted with pleasure. He also introduced outgoing Chair Jim Schleif. Among those in attendance were Bill Zaferos, Raquel Filmanowicz, Martin “Boris” Hintz, Pam “Doris” Percy, Paul Mathews, Michael Johnston, Mary Nelson, Terry Coffman, House Confidential Honoree Will Radler, Matthew Neu and others too numerous to mention including Dr. Robert Starshak.
Daniel Petry, now with the UWM Peck School of the Arts, presenter of the local LGBT film festival, posed for a photo with Raejean Kanter. Holbrook was dressed with a checkered pocket square in his suitcoat, along with a colorful striped tie. His name tag was adorned with an orange ribbon that announced him as a “Participating Sponsor” of the soiree. He posed for photos with Jen Murray. Tom Hoffman was there as were Chuck Kahn and Patti Keating Kahn. The couple are the landlords of the foundation which, like Urban Milwaukee, is located in the historic Colby-Abbot building. Raina Johnson was there with a winning smile, while Tonya Mantilla reacted with glee on learning she had a winning raffle ticket.
Strolling waiters presented fig and orange blossom honey on crostini, red pepper humous, spinach artichoke dip and other tasties, while bartenders served free wine and beer.
Cream City Foundation Reception Gallery
Tammy Baldwin in Town
Even though she won’t have to face the voters for another three years, Tammy Baldwin is keeping up with her fundraising duties. Sunday afternoon, March 15th, she appeared at a welcome reception at the residence of real estate agent Jack Smith on the Lower East Side, where a group of well-wishers showed their support. Among the attendees was Chris Ahmuty, Dave Sartori (former State Treasurer Candidate), Julilly Kohler, and others who were invited to donate $53 for the senator’s 53rd birthday. Smith, the host, said the real estate market is picking up around here. A home down the street from his sold within a week, he said. He was assisted by Enrique Torres and other friends as they served berries, cheese and other goodies, including wine and soft drinks.
Senator Baldwin expressed hope for bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems, so she must know something about the inner workings of the United States Senate that has escaped the rest of us. By virtue of her position on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, or HELP committee, she has taken some lumps in the press for what is said to be overprescription of pain pills by doctors at the Tomah Veteran’s Center, and her office’s tardy response to the questions that cost one staffer her job.
But Baldwin said mental health issues, especially those involving veterans remains a pressing concern. She cited alarming statistics on the problem of Veterans mental health, substance abuse and suicide issues. Having been a soldier may be more hazardous to one’s health than being on active duty in a combat zone when these factors are considered.
Scene on the Street
They really raised the roof at Jo-Cat’s Pub on Brady Street last week. Make that razed. Yes, the tavern is undergoing a considerable renovation. Dumpsters have been hauling away interior debris for over a month. Last week it was time for the roof to be hauled away. Crews disassembled the old roof, right down to the rafters — removed them, too, for that matter. Within a day new trusses, sheathing and shingles were installed on the old place.
A block away, Brady Street has its own Bublr station. This one is painted grey, and is located along the south wall of St. Hedwig’s Church , at the intersection of two bus lines.
And at the west end of the street, a huge pile of gravel has been deposited at the former site of the Habhegger auto repair building (Habhegger relocated to 102 W. Capitol Dr.), and the former Honeymead Warehouse, both of which have been demolished for a planned development. Wangard Partners, Inc. had hoped for a TIF district to redevelop the site, while the city contends that redevelopment of such a vital location on the river should not require city support. Nobody at this time (including the developer) seems to know what this project will look like. A planned commercial component, which shows in the original plans, is said to have been dropped, according to an individual who had considered the location for his business. Since then, there are reports that a commercial portion (which seems essential) is again being considered.
More about the Milwaukee Streetcar
For more information on project details, how the operator will be selected, what the vehicles will be like, and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $28 Million Spent on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 19th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Getting Installed - Jeramey Jannene - May 12th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Gets Waiver on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 17th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Rails Being Welded - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 7th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Won’t Delay Streetcar for County - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 28th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Board Okays Bid for Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Steel Has Arrived - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 16th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Should County Operate Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 8th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Construction Starts in April - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 17th, 2017
- Streetsblog: 80 Transit Projects in 2017 - Angie Schmitt - Feb 6th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Project Receives Federal Grant - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 12th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Cincinnati Streetcar Opens - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Okays Streetcar to Bucks Arena - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 6th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 26th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Donovan Lies About Streetcar Suit - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: BID Sells Streetcar-Related Development - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: Do Millennials Oppose the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 15th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Pennsylvania Company Wins Streetcar Contract - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 13th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: City Accepts $14 Million Federal Streetcar Grant - Michael Horne - Oct 29th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies - Bruce Murphy - Aug 28th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Scott Walker Aids Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Construction Starts in October - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: The Strange Politics of Anti-Streetcar-ites - Bruce Murphy - Jun 18th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Bucks Plan Envisions Arena Streetcar - Michael Horne - Apr 8th, 2015
- A Short History of Milwaukee’s Old Streetcar System - Ken Smith - Mar 31st, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Davis Sets, Cancels Meeting on Streetcar - Michael Horne - Mar 17th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Drive Fails - Bruce Murphy - Mar 5th, 2015
- Friday Photos: Streetcar Signing Is Quite a Celebration - Michael Horne - Feb 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee Streetcar Approved - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who is “Lobbying” For the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Feb 5th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Will Streetcar Help The Inner City? - Bruce Thompson - Feb 4th, 2015
- Back in the News: City Attorney Says Streetcar Petitions Might be Moot - Bruce Murphy - Jan 30th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Millennials And The Streetcar - Bruce Thompson - Jan 27th, 2015
- Op-Ed: Why I Support the Streetcar - Russell Rossetto - Jan 26th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Responses Shows Wide Support - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Approved, but Held - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 21st, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who Is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Op Ed: Why the Streetcar Won’t Work - Samuel Jensen - Jan 14th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum - Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy - Jan 8th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Delays Streetcar Until January - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 16th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 10th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 9th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar - Michael Horne - Dec 2nd, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: How to Sell the Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 28th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Next Stops For The Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 24th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Moving Forward With Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 18th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Who Will Be Streetcar Operator? - Michael Horne - May 8th, 2014
- Back in the News: A Streetcar Named Cooperation? - Dave Reid - Apr 27th, 2014
- Streetsblog: How a Streetcar Spurs Development - Angie Schmitt - Nov 3rd, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Streetcar Social - Michael Horne - Sep 12th, 2013
- Republicans Move to Kill Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 9th, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Mayor Says Streetcar is “Trojan Horse” - Michael Horne - Apr 17th, 2013
- Streetcar Meeting on Tuesday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 29th, 2012
- Donovan’s New Anti-Streetcar Allies - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 16th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference - Jeramey Jannene - May 18th, 2012
- Milwaukee Streetcar Hearing at Frontier Airlines Center - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 15th, 2011
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings this Week - Dave Reid - Nov 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council, Proceeds to Final Engineering - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 26th, 2011
- Alderman Donovan Proposes Delaying the Streetcar Project - Dave Reid - Jul 19th, 2011
- Barrett says Streetcar is an investment in growing Milwaukee - Patti Wenzel - Jul 13th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward - Jeramey Jannene - May 6th, 2010
- Streetcars and Trams Around the World - Dave Reid - Feb 1st, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 5th, 2009
- Downtown Streetcar Open House - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 21st, 2009
- Common Council Creates Streetcar Committee - Dave Reid - Jun 18th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 19th, 2009
- Vote For Your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Map - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 21st, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee - Dave Reid - Mar 14th, 2009
- Palomar or Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2009