Bob Donovan
Press Release

The “Donut Effect” and Milwaukee’s suffocating poverty

Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan September 17, 2015

By - Sep 17th, 2015 10:43 am

The article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how Milwaukee is the fifth poorest big U.S. city is peppered with numbers and statistics, but in my mind it speaks clearly – and sadly – to the reality too many families and children in our city face every day: suffocating poverty and despair.
To be clear, the article about the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau estimates paints a grim picture: Milwaukee’s poverty rate of 29% remained unchanged from a year earlier and was nearly double the national rate of 14.8%.

Among children 18 and under in Milwaukee, the news is even darker, as the poverty rate was 42.1%, according to the Census numbers.

The article notes that the poverty rate among African Americans in Milwaukee was 39.9%, among Hispanics it was 31.8% and among non-Hispanic whites it was 14.8%!

And what is Mayor Barrett doing about the crushing poverty in Milwaukee? He’s prancing around downtown, touting the economic development “renaissance” that is happening in and around downtown.

Now I think an improving downtown is great, but those improvements and that boon certainly isn’t being felt by many, many Milwaukeeans. In fact, it’s produced a “donut effect,” where the outer rings outside of the downtown area (on the south and north sides especially) are decaying and falling farther behind. People in many of those neighborhoods are sadly trapped there, in a cycle of poverty and despair, and those numbers are borne out in the Census estimates.

I am deeply concerned about those people, and about the future of our city. We need to do more to bring hope and economic opportunity to those Milwaukeeans living outside the “donut hole.”

For starters, it would be great if the mayor would put forth an effort to start a renaissance in poorer city neighborhoods.

The mayor’s parading around downtown in cheerleader mode isn’t helping the poor children and families who need to find hope for the future.

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6 thoughts on “The “Donut Effect” and Milwaukee’s suffocating poverty”

  1. Ryan says:

    More lip service from Bathroom Bob about poverty. His answer to this problem? Hire more police to arrest all the blacks and Hispanics and throw them all in jail so his supporters can feel “safe” to go outside without all the “scary minorities” around.

  2. Not Ryan says:

    The number of Internet commenters who seem to either fail to actually read what has been said OR just don’t have the reading level to comprehend has hit pandemic levels. I live hundreds of miles from Milwaukee, but I see what this man here describes in my own city. Mainline Democrats, in possession of power, are – all over Wisconsin – cheerleading ,yes actually cheerleading for Reaganomic Trickledown policy while posing as “caring informed Liberals” Not only are they being the biggest and most eager tools of the local Chambers, state-wide land developers and the WMC (while pretending to “hate those guys”) – Doing that is a) a lie, b.) completely ineffective, c.) keeps any money the downtown projects do generate cycling within a very small group. and d.) close the door on ALL other options, locking communities in to behavior sets that guarantee decades of entrenched poverty. It’s a system that actually hurts the great majority of us,but benefits the few. Those few control power and media, and many are Democrats. Barrett is instituting Reagan’s economic policies, policies that benefit developers and the merchant class, policies that increase the entertainment venues of upper middle and upper class white folks, and gives them a feeling of “progress”, regeneration and cleansing… while creating nothing like Progress at all. These policies DO cleanse however, but only in the same way the Madison Greenbush Redevelopment did. Steel and glass cleansing occurred, and the problems and poverty and people were pushed west, south, and east. Problems were moved, not solved. That’s what this guy up there, who I do not know, just said. That’s what the civic leaders in Eau Claire all say. like in many other towns as well I’m sure. “Donut Hole Economic Development” (Gosh sir, I really like that phrase) is truly economic. ethical, and cultural Junk Food, and we’re all eating it.

  3. Steve says:

    Sure would be nice to have some long term, good wage transportation jobs on the northside. Building and repairing rail cars for around the region and country. Oh, wait, we don’t want THOSE type of jobs. Thanks Bob and Scott.

  4. Really? says:

    As usual, Bob has nothing to offer but criticism. How about some positive solutions for a change? If you know so much, why is it that all we hear from you is the same old diatribe. We all know you would like to be Mayer Barrett, but that will never happen. You couldn’t even get a petition successfully gathered, so who would trust you to move our city forward. The development downtown must be supported. If you looked at a recent chart in the local daily paper, you saw the range of areas that supplied the workers for another big downtown project. Those places will need workers. Why don’t you push for the $15 minimum wage for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County if you really care about raising up workers. I haven’t seen you writing about or working toward that.

  5. Paul says:

    Ryan, what’s wrong with arresting criminals and making Milwaukee a safe city? Why are you such a racist thinking that it’s only the minorities that are committing crimes?

  6. Ryan says:


    You need to get better with your reading comprehension. I never said that, but it’s what that human filth Bathroom Bob thinks and all his ilk that support him.

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