Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies

Paging General Bob Donovan, what happened?

By - Aug 28th, 2015 03:16 pm
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Bob Donovan and the Milwaukee Streetcar

Bob Donovan and the Milwaukee Streetcar

Neither snow nor sleet nor rain nor spring nor the gorgeous weather of this summer has made it possible for the opponents of the Milwaukee streetcar to get enough signatures to stop its construction.

brief story yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel referred rather inaccurately to the “grassroots effort,” letting us know the push “to require Milwaukee to hold a binding referendum before expanding the downtown streetcar appears to have fizzled out. Why or when the petition drive ended was not clear… Stop the Milwaukee Streetcar responded to an email, asking if the petition drive was still on, with a simple: ‘No.’” The end of the drive was also noted by the Daily Reporter.

I have previously written about lamentable problems streetcar opponents have had with the weather. The original petition drive was launched in January, with Chris Kliesmet of the CRG Network declaring that “sentiment in the city is wildly against” the streetcar, but in March he let the media know the drive would be postponed due to… chilly weather. The drive had failed despite help from out-of-town staff and volunteers provided by the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity.

The effort was postponed till spring but somehow never arrived, though the weather did. Organizers then pointed to July to relaunch the drive, but by then had given up on stopping the current streetcar project, but instead were circulating petitions that would prevent potential future extensions of the streetcar.

The result was the same: once again the group failed to collect the 31,500 signatures that must be gotten within a 60 day window.

Ald. Bob Donovan had thundered military-like after the first failure of the petition drive, declaring “this is not a retreat but a strategic withdrawal. We will regroup, and we will live to fight another day.” But alas, Commander Donovan was MIA, and could not be reached to discuss the petition drive’s latest retreat, the JS reported, though with a tad less literary color.

I was able to reach Kliesmet, once so bullish about the drive, but now, it appears barely connected to it. “CRG is often not the coordinator or ‘face’ of citizen action and is not in this case,” he responded. “We provided legal and organizational consulting and a small amount of financial support.  After that, we have had little contact with the group. I would direct you to a gentlemen named ‘Steve’ who can be reached at this private number…”

Given that the number is private I won’t divulge it, so don’t even try to weasel it out of me. But I must note the gentleman named Steve did not respond to my call, nor did queries to the Stop the Milwaukee Streetcar official phone number and email result in any answer. The effort that began with such a bang has ended, it seems, with the whimper of one sad and monosyllabic answer: No.

Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage

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.

Categories: Back in the News, News

6 thoughts on “Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies”

  1. Ryan says:

    It’s FINALLY over. We’ve won and it WILL be expanded. Now, the cherry on top will be when Witkowski defeats his carpetbagger opponent, Murphy wins against his nutjob and Barrett eviscerates Donovan in April.

  2. Hereiam says:

    We should take the lack of support for the anti-streetcar position, as a definitive signal that Milwaukee is finally reach to move forward with this crucial project, including both the starter line and extensions.

  3. TF says:

    I wouldn’t call it a “crucial project” (I think it’s silly, more or less, but ultimately harmless as the money can’t be repurposed), but it’s good to see CRG get its posterior kicked.

  4. Chris says:

    It’s curious to watch the changing narrative with the streetcar. We’ve finally moved on from apocalypse to ‘how do we get I to my neighborhood?’

    The location of the JS article is a good example: buried in the depths of the website. What used to be angry click bait has moved on to barley noteworthy… Maybe Milwaukee is finally growing up?

  5. Dave says:

    Ah yes…the infamous “Steve” Schumacher. Turns out he doesn’t work for free and the grassroots tea baggers (all 100 of them) – all that were left after those with half a brain and the cash read the writing on the wall after their first embarrassing defeat – don’t pay too well. Sometimes he doesn’t even work at all and he just steals it.

  6. M says:

    No, the streetcar won’t “save” Milwaukee or even address its real transit needs. But it’s an investment in the right direction.

    It needs to expand ASAP past a downtown loop that does not even serve much of Westown and convention tourism all that well (until a phase or two from now).

    I’m all for the streetcar but we need to start finding ways to improve MKE in broader, more inclusive ways.

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