Dave Reid

M.O.R.E. – Common Council March 25th, 2009 Meeting Notes

By - Mar 26th, 2009 02:52 pm
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The M.O.R.E ordinance was the most widely debated action taken at this Common Council meeting.  This ordinance lays out resident preference program requirements, emerging business requirements, and prevailing wage requirements for both public projects and private projects receiving over $1 million in direct financial assistance.  It is important to note the definition of direct financial assistance excludes funding for public infrastructure built as part of these projects.

As the debate began Alderman Terry Witkowski offered an amendment to change the prevailing wage standard to a living wage standard.  This amendment was strongly debated from both sides of the issue.  Most colorfully Alderman Bob Donovan argued his support of the amendment stating “none of us has a crystal ball” and he indicated the city should proceed with the more cautious method as proposed in the amendment.  Alderman Witkowski reiterated his concerns stating that “we are talking about risking permanent jobs, and development,” and later added that “I don’t want to chance this stopping development in any way.”  Common Council President Willie Hines argued that “it will adversely impact African Americans,” and that “I just don’t think we can take the risk.”  Alderman Jim Bohl spelled out the situation stating “to be honest with you, I think we have a lot of exaggeration coming from all sides” and that “we’re arguing crumbs.”  He explained that generally speaking a development project already pays 80 percent of their staff prevailing wages and that only a few TIF projects be effected by these rules.  That said Alderman Bohl still questioned, “can we as a city afford to subsidize private development?”  This amendment failed on a vote of seven to eight.

There was an additional amendment, brought forward by Alderman Michael Murphy following City Comptroller Wally Morics suggestion that this ordinance include a reporting mechanism to track the costs and benefits going forward.  This amendment passed unanimously.

Common Council President Hines made a last effort to stop the ordinance saying “again there are too many unanswered questions” and that “good intentions, unfortunately isn’t good enough.”  After this last appeal, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton thanked numerous members of the committee and Alderwoman Coggs gave a long summation urging support of the ordinance.  Wrapping up the long discussion, Alderman Willie Wade stated that “I’m prepared to win or lose, because this is a fight worth fighting” and that “we need to grow our middle class.”  This ordinance passed on a eight to seven vote and will now go before the mayor for signing.

Categories: Real Estate

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