Streetcar Approved, but Held
Large majority votes to approve streetcar, but parliamentary maneuver puts issue on hold until February 10th meeting.
In a move that will keep the Milwaukee Streetcar starter system in limbo until February 10th, the project was approved, and then held over at today’s Milwaukee Common Council meeting. The rarely used parliamentary move relies on a project opponent voting for the project, then asking to reconsider their vote. With a three-vote minority required to grant the reconsideration, the file is entered into the journal to be re-voted on the next meeting.
Today’s vote came as a surprise to no one, as during a pro-streetcar press conference yesterday project sponsors announced they had the votes to approve the project. In an anti-streetcar press conference later yesterday, project opponents announced their intent to use the rarely-used maneuver to hold the project. There was, however, one surprise announcement.
The Murphy Twist
During that speech Murphy repeatedly chided the extremism on both sides of the debate, noting that opponents bill the project as the worst thing since ebola, and proponents argue it’s the second coming.
Murphy also said he supports the right of the petition drive to play itself out, and supported holding the matter until the meeting on February 10th.
In his speech, Murphy also noted that the streetcar is a risk, but added, “there is risk in everything in life.”
With the end result being essentially pre-ordained, floor debate was expected to be kept brief. That brevity, as numerous council members referenced, still resulted in almost a half hour of debate on the issue.
When the final vote was taken, council members Ashanti Hamilton, Nik Kovac, Robert Bauman, Milele Coggs, Willie Wade, Murphy, Jose Perez, Terry Witkowski, Tony Zielinski and Russell Stamper all voting for the streetcar.
Alderman Zielinski, a streetcar opponent, immediately moved for reconsideration. This parliamentary move allows him to hold the project for a session and change his vote, as long as a three-vote minority approves the move. He received six votes to do so, the five anti-streetcar votes (Joe Davis, Jim Bohl, Robert Donovan, Robert Puente, and Joe Dudzik) and Murphy, who had previously expressed his support for the delay.
Zileinski’s move enters the file into the journal, which will open it for debate and a final vote at the February 10th Common Council meeting.
Project opponents have repeatedly argued a referendum is needed, and are circulating petition papers to force a referendum on having a referendum on all major rail projects, although that’s unlikely to affect the initial streetcar plan. My colleague Bruce Murphy has reported on the details of this extensively, including the support from a Koch brothers- funded group and the legal difficulties in executing the maneuver while the item is up for approval.
Project sponsors have responded to the referendum proponents with a number of responses including that they’re elected to make tough decisions, that multiple elections have been held after votes have been taken with not a single anti-streetcar candidate replacing a pro-streetcar official and that the issue has been under debate since 1991.
UPDATE: Four of the five streetcar files were held using the reconsideration maneuver. That maneuver was used last time on the fifth file, the creation of TID planning agreement between the city and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM), and required a majority vote to reconsider again. It received only 5 of the needed 8 votes and was then approved. This fifth file was approved after our article was published.
Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage
- Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes – Jeramey Jannene – January 20th, 2015
- Who is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? – Bruce Murphy – January 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum – Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy – January 8th, 2015
- Council Delays Streetcar Until January – Jeramey Jannene – December 16th, 2014
- Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 10th, 2014
- Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 9th, 2014
- RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar – Michael Horne – December 8th, 2014
- How to Sell the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 28th, 2014
- Next Stops for the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 24th, 2014
- Barrett Moving Forward with Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – November 18th, 2014
- Who Will Be Streetcar Operator – Michael Horne – May 8th, 2014
- A Streetcar Named Cooperation? – Dave Reid – April 27th, 2014
- How a Streetcar Spurs Development – Angie Schmitt – November 3rd, 2013
- Streetcar Social – Michael Horne – September 12th, 2013
- Mayor Says Streetcar is a “Trojan Horse” – Michael Horne – April 17th, 2013
- Whoops, We Changed Our Mind – Dave Reid – September 27th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference – Jeramey Jannene – May 18th, 2012
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings This Week – Dave Reid – November 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council – Jeramey Jannene – July 26th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward – Jeramey Jannene – July 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex – Jeramey Jannene – June 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward – Jeramey Jannene – May 6th, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday – Jeramey Jannene – October 5th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett – Jeramey Jannene – September 21st, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up – Jeramey Jannene – April 19th, 2009
- Vote for your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 23rd, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee – Dave Reid – March 14th, 2009
For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Plats and Parcels: Lakefront Streetcar Extension Scheduled for June 2022 Opening - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2020
- Transportation: Should Milwaukee Stop The Hop? - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 13th, 2020
- Transportation: The Hop Now Wears a Mask - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 18th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Is A Couture Deal Finally Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2020
- Transportation: SUV Driver Runs Into The Hop - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 28th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Kiosks Could Bring In $500,000 Annually - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 20th, 2020
- Thanks A Million, Hop Riders! - The Hop - Feb 19th, 2020
- Transportation: We Energies Will Sponsor Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in January Versus 2019 - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in December - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 14th, 2020
Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here