Ald. Bob Donovan
Press Release

Aldermen join forces to launch streetcar referendum petition drive

News conference set for 1 p.m. TODAY at City Hall

By - Jan 5th, 2015 11:13 am
Milwaukee Streetcar.

Milwaukee Streetcar.

Alderman Bob Donovan and Alderman Joe Davis, Sr. today will announce a citywide petition drive to force a binding referendum on funding for the proposed downtown streetcar project. Alderman Donovan and Alderman Davis will be joined by supporters in launching the UNITED for Milwaukee effort during a news conference at 1 p.m. TODAY in the third floor Council Chamber anteroom at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.

The aldermen have formed UNITED for Milwaukee, a committee seeking to pass a local ordinance requiring all rail transit spending over $20 million be approved by referendum. To enact the ordinance, the committee will utilize Wisconsin’s direct legislation statute allowing citizens to circulate petitions requiring the common council to pass the proposed ordinance or bring the request before city voters this April.

State law requires the committee collect signatures equal to 15% of the number of city voters in the last gubernatorial election, or roughly 31,000 signatures. The committee has 60 days to gather the signatures. The full Common Council, however, is scheduled to take up Mayor Barrett’s $123 million streetcar proposal on January 21, so the committee is planning to collect and deliver the required signatures before that date.

Regarding the effort, Alderman Donovan and Alderman Davis issued this joint statement: “The streetcar proposal will have significant short and long-term implications on the city’s finances. Using Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) districts to pay for the project redirects precious tax dollars away from other entities including business growth which will support job initiatives to help relieve Milwaukee’s national embarrassment of having the highest poverty and unemployment rates for African-American men in the U.S., fire and police agencies, public schools, public works projects, and the opportunity for tax relief for the city’s already overburdened taxpayers. This $123 million plan has been described as the first of several phases of the project. There are, however, no funding sources identified for these extraordinary future capital expenses and no plans to even cover the operating expenses of the first phase after three years. Before we create an unbearable mortgage for generations of city taxpayers, we believe it is critical to let the people decide if this is the right direction for Milwaukee.”

Mentioned in This Press Release

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8 thoughts on “Aldermen join forces to launch streetcar referendum petition drive”

  1. Beer Baron says:

    Wait…these two are working with CRG on this issue? CRG as in, they’re with Orv Seymer, a renowned slum lord and tax deadbeat?

    Tells you what Davis and Donovan think of their constituents that they’d stick with a deadbeat.

  2. I wouldn’t count on Ald. Davis getting his brothers in the Steamfitters Local 601 to gather signatures. It will be their job to relocate the utilities on the streetcar route, and against their self-interest to oppose it. In fact, this referendum gambit may sour any electoral support he might have counted on from trade unions. Ditto for Donovan, if he would think this through. This issue is just a stalking horse to gauge opposition to Mayor Barrett.

  3. CK James says:

    Bob has occasionally put his aldermanic efforts into worthy causes, but for the most part – he’s a chain smoking, bar hooping, blow-hard local-yokel. Loves to see his own mug on TV and read his name in the paper.

    He may or may not be a bad guy, but he wastes too much effort making a big kerfuffle about issues that aren’t worth the time or that are too big for him to have any influence on, from his little corner of the world.

    Bob either needs to man-up and run for mayor, or pipe down. Maybe spend less time in corner taverns arguing with his cronies about who’s louder, and spend a bit more time doing charity work. Goofball.

  4. Brisls says:

    Instead of tearing Ald Donovan down for standing up for issues pertaining to this city and his constituents, try investigating this trolley issue in depth. Not just what the media reports, actual costs that it will take to fund this thing from building it, to moving utilities, to loss of business due to loss of parking, cost to subsidize ridership. The jobs it says it’s creating are only temporary. 120 million dollars is only part of the start up fee. This trolley will not create nor transport most people to a job. It is only 2 square miles for the preppy types living in down town. I don’t live anywhere near this folly and I don’t want to pay extra in new taxes to pay for it. Contact former mayor of either Racine or Kenosha about their now defunct trolley. Find out why their trolley went belly up.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Brisls The cost of utilities are part of the $123.9 plus estimate. The annual cost is know as well. There will be a minimal loss of parking.

    I’ll point out that the Kenosha Streetcar, is not defunct, it is currently in operation, though they run historic streetscars whereas in Milwaukee they will be running modern streetcars.
    http://www.visitkenosha.com/attractions/top-attractions/electric-streetcar-circulator

  6. dekjr says:

    why has no one mentioned the street car buses that scurried around empty the vast majority of the time? Wouldn’t a very low cost trial on the proposed route shed any light on the likely demand for such a project? The trolley deserves a much more thorough study before mortgaging the future just to enjoy the pleasure of spending some federal largess that sets up tax payers for substantially a higher tax burden than we already bear. Some things never change: ‘giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen age boys’

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @dekju Because the buses are not empty. More study? The project has been discussed for years and years now.

  8. If I offered $5 for every anti-streetcar argument that included a rational statement of fact, I would not be out a dime. If I offered five bucks for every inane argument (teen aged boys, whiskey and car keys) I’d be out enough to finance the darn project.

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