TCD’s week in review (7/27/12)
News on State Sen. Tim Cullen, the Milwaukee Jobs Act, Sydney Hih, the Milwaukee Water Council, the "Image Task Force," State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa and more.
State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa
Rep. Zamarripa publicly came out as a bisexual this week. The first-term representative from Milwaukee’s 8th District on the city’s south side said, “It’s part of my life, like being a south sider and the only Hispanic in the Legislature, and I’m happy to share it with my constituents.” Many state and local politicians have voiced their support for Zamarripa, including Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West, State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), State Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), and State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison). Rep. Zamarripa is seeking her second term in the state legislature, and was recently named the Wisconsin Chair of Latinos for Obama.
Milwaukee’s water industry continues to blossom. Reports indicate that Milwaukee has taken a regional leadership role in investing in water technology and businesses with the goal of becoming a world water hub, led by the Milwaukee Water Council. Also this week, construction began for a water technology hub in Walker’s Point, which will open next year, and Milwaukee-based water technology company A.O. Smith experienced second quarter growth with net earnings of $35 million.
Common Council Jobs Act
By a 13-1 vote, the Milwaukee Common Council approved the Milwaukee Jobs Act. Funding for the program comes from a $700,000 payment from Harley-Davidson last year, made when the company broke an agreement to expand its museum. The largest portion of the program, at $207,000, will go to the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership Program, which aims to recruit unemployed workers for manufacturing training and potential long-term employment. Funds would also go the city’s Earn and Learn program as well as a program to deconstruct old garages in the city and sell them for parts.
Wisconsin home sales
Home sale prices increased in Wisconsin for the fourth consecutive month, up 19.3 percent in the month of June and up 21 percent in the first half of 2012.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO
Wausau native Marissa Mayer was named CEO of Yahoo on July 16. Beginning in 1999, Mayer was one of Google’s earliest employees, and led teams that produced Google News, Gmail and the design for the Google homepage. Now, she is the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500, and the youngest to make the Fortune Most Powerful Women list. Her annual base salary at Yahoo starts at $1 million.
By a 13-2 vote, the Milwaukee Common Council opposed reconsidering historic designation for Sydney Hih, effectively moving to demolish the building. Former Mayor John Norquist wrote an essay earlier in the week for UrbanMilwaukee.com, titled “Don’t Wreck Sidney Hih,” and a petition had been circulated at the Sydney Hih facebook page to save the building, but alas, the building will be torn down.
State Senate Democratic Caucus
State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville announced on Tuesday that he is no longer a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Cullen, who was among the “Wisconsin 14,” voiced his concerns in regards to committee chairmanships in an email later posted on The Wheeler Report. Cullen said, “Sen. Miller [Mark Miller, Senate Democratic Leader] has made clear that he does not value or need my presence in Senate Committee leadership and, quite obviously, in the Senate Democratic Caucus. He has made his decision, and now I will make mine. As of the sending of this email, I am no longer a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. I will decide over the next few days or weeks whether to become an Independent. I will not become a Republican. This entire episode makes clear to me that Sen. Miller has no time for my independent ideas and my support of bipartisan solutions to the state’s problems.”
After a drawn-out recount in the state senatorial recall in Racine in which Democrat John Lehman defeated Republican incumbent Van Wanggaard, the Democratic Party held a 17-16 majority in the State Senate. Now, the road ahead is a complicated one for our state senate. (Editor’s note: Sen. Cullen and State Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) visited Milwaukee in February on their “civility tour.” Revisit that TCD story here.) (UPDATE: Cullen and Miller made nice, and Cullen will rejoin the Democratic Caucus.)
Alleged White Collar Crime
Two instances this week from both the public and private sector.
Freida Webb, head of Milwaukee County’s program to boost minority- and female-owned businesses, was jailed and suspended last Thursday and has been accused of taking $3,430 from local contractor Homer L. Key to create “sham bills” that were “intended to tap community development block grant funds given to the county by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the search warrant documents.” Neither party has been charged. (Click here for the story at the Journal Sentinel.)
John Losee, has pleaded guilty to “charges related to embezzling more than $800,000” from his former employer, Heim Manufacturing, based in Sussex. Losee, the company’s former general manager, now faces up to 23 years in prison. (Click here for the story at the Business Journal of Milwaukee.)
Wisconsin construction jobs
Over the past year, the state of Wisconsin lost more than 10,000 construction jobs, a decline of 11.1 percent. The only other state with a decline of more than 10 percent was Alaska, leading the way at a 20.5 percent drop.