Urban Milwaukee

9 Most Commented-On Stories of 2015

Crime, the streetcar, teacher pay, the Bucks bailout and other issues left readers battling.

By - Dec 31st, 2015 03:07 pm

Sometimes the comments go on longer than the original story. Here are the nine stories generating the most comments in 2015, culminating in the most debated story of the year.

9. We Must Imitate Other Cities

Wisconsin Center. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Wisconsin Center. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A study commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee argues we must imitate other cities in building more hotels and bigger convention center but its data actually contradicts these conclusions, Bruce Murphy writes.

“I agree with the report and disagree with this article,” says Will. “Milwaukee is too spread out, the Bradley Center is pathetic, the Bucks district as it stands is a dead zone, we have way too few restaurants, and our convention center is way too small. I also think Milwaukee’s hotels (minus the Pfister and IC) aren’t good.”

“Milwaukee operates on a sad scarcity model,” says Chris. “It’s a bizarre mindset. People here are convinced that if we concentrate effort in new places we’ll somehow drain all the life from something else… This is NOT how a vibrant city functions. Vibrant cities offer more everywhere.”

8. “The NRA’s Vision for America is Anarchy.”

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn

Chief Flynn decries gun violence in city and blames NRA for opposition to any regulations of guns.

“If we enforced the laws on the books the way they are written now, then we would avoid a lot of his issues. We need to prosecute more criminals for the felonies they are committing,” AG says. “When they only get a misdemeanor slap on the wrist there is no incentive to change their behavior.”

“AG: If we follow your line of thinking to it’s logical conclusion, then you should be advocating for massive increases in state dollars for local DA offices to prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent,” Sam says.

7. How Abele Bailed Out Walker

County Executive Chris Abele speaks as a press conference in 2014. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

County Executive Chris Abele speaks as a press conference in 2014. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Abele helped seal deal to subsidize new NBA arena and readers weigh in:

“The current owners of the Bucks could easily afford to pay for everything in this plan by themselves,” Bill Sweeney says. “Or they could get other extremely wealthy people to also invest in this plan. They do not NEED public money to build what they want to build… Polls show that the public are overwhelmingly opposed.”

James counters: “Note what Minnesota, Minneapolis and Hennepin County taxpayers have done with constant public sector investment partnering with private sector investment. ALL of these recent investments are in downtown Minneapolis:

— $1.1 billion in a new Vikings stadium
— $545 million in a new Twins baseball stadium – Target Field
— $129 million to upgrade the Timberwolves basketball arena – Target Center.”

6. The Secret Tax Subsidy Society

Arena Rendering.

Arena Rendering.

Because the public opposes taxes to subsidize sports teams, legislators must find stealthier finance mechanisms, Bruce Murphy argues.

“We don’t need the Bucks,” Andy Umbo says, “I’ve been to the games and they have the top tier of seating closed off and the rest are barely filled. We don’t need to pay our tax money for any of that, or to enrich a private team owner.”

PJ says: “I am not speaking from the viewpoint of a fan who wants to sit in a posh arena or ball park. I’ve been to exactly 2 Bucks games.. However, does anyone remember S 43rd street before Miller Park?… having a world class ballpark in the neighborhood has done wonders for the property value… How many people now enjoy employment along that corridor?”

5. Why the Streetcar Won’t Work

A rendering of the streetcar coming up Broadway out of the Historic Third Ward.

A rendering of the streetcar coming up Broadway out of the Historic Third Ward.

Michael: “I too am skeptical about the streetcar proposal. It doesn’t seem to be solving any transportation problem… You can get an Uber from one end of the street car route to the other for around $6. Nor is it solving a development problem. The downtown/east side of milwaukee already has a wide variety of development projects in the works.”

David: “People seem to forget that the proposed route is just a starter system. The plan is to connect neighborhoods and ultimately the region. Bus service has been cut by 25%, it has no dedicated funding and continues its death spiral. The buses or streetcar debate is a false choice because once the streetcar is killed, the right becomes an opponent of buses.”

4. Why I Support the Streetcar

A rendering of a Brookville streetcar in Milwaukee's Third Ward. Milwaukee's streetcars will be manufactured by U.S.-based Brookville Equipment Corp.

A rendering of a Brookville streetcar in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Milwaukee’s streetcars will be manufactured by U.S.-based Brookville Equipment Corp.

Bill: “The one thing a streetcar accomplishes…is that the powers that be get to try and dictate where development will occur. I think that’s why it appeals to liberals because many of them like to dictate how people live…I don’t know that the supporters have ever really explained what this will provide that a bus cannot.”

Tom D replies: “Rail attracts more passengers than buses
. Streetcars are faster than buses
. Streetcars can cost less per passenger mile to operate than buses
. Streetcars are cleaner (no tail pipe) and quieter than buses.”

3. Was Act 10 Necessary?

Wisconsin Capitol Protests. Photo by Patti Wenzel

Wisconsin capitol protests during the passing of the controversial Act 10. Photo by Patti Wenzel

The law that largely eliminated public unions continues to divide people.

Will: “There used to be a lot of goodwill stored up for teachers and other govt employees because of their roles in society, but I would say its all been squandered by greed, specifically the greed of the union leadership.”

Casey says: “If teachers’ salaries are not competitive they will leave to greener fields which very well could lead to a decline in the quality of education.”

2. Myths About the Bus Strike

Milwaukee Country Transit System Bus

Milwaukee Country Transit System Bus

Margo Allen: “I support the drivers, even while I have envied their pay and benefits… The job can be difficult — drivers have little control over what equipment, routes, and hours of work. The public has harassed them and attacked them time and again.”

Tim says: “It’s not like these people are running into burning buildings; they’re driving a bus around town & can retire after 27 years. They’re trying to hold people hostage to get more for themselves.”

1. Hey, Let’s Drug Test Food Stamp Recipients

Robin Vos

Robin Vos

Wisconsin Conservative Digest says: “This is a prevention program. Inner city runs on welfare and drug money. I cannot tell you how many times people called me in the pharmacy and asked me for something to ‘clean their systems’, how many people getting or trying to get opioid Rx’s to get high…”

John Wintheiser says: “The money spent on this foolish idea would be better spent expanding drug treatment programs and making them more available to people with a drug problem. The fact of the matter is that a treatment program can be very difficult to find for people who want help.”

6 thoughts on “9 Most Commented-On Stories of 2015”

  1. AG says:

    Oh come on, I’ve had far more quotable comments! Ha!

    Some of those articles really stirred the pot. Too bad there was no bonus category for story that continues to pop up again and again… The loud Harley discussion never ends.

  2. Patricia Jursik says:

    Thanks for all your stories in 2015, I look forward to many more in 2016. Urban Milwaukee fills a needed gap with stories that offer another point of view, often better reasoned than our local daily.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @AG Good idea on the stories that pop up again and again.

  4. M says:

    #7. It’s not surprising that Abele bailed out Walker, since he’s been closely aligned with most of Walker’s agenda at the county level including his quest to sell off/give away/privatize public assets. Of course, despite all economists saying that public subsidies of sports venues have no net economic benefit, pols of all stripes eagerly drank the Kool-Aid (bolstered by all the lobbying hype and campaign cash).

    But mostly, Abele has little allegiance to principles, people or even nonprofits he claims to have served. After he put county voters in hock and hamstrung the Wisconsin Center District (for a total of $128 million plus interest), he gave away Park East land worth $10 million for a Buck. Then he attempted to dump the Marcus Center (PAC) and keep the art museum from trying to look out for its long-term viability (by trying to sell O’Donnell Park, its downtown gateway, for redevelopment). With friends (and former board members) like that, who needs enemies?

    Abele, a Bucks superfan, may think only sports matter and that “culture” is expendable (or must fully pay its own way). He would do well to check stats about what are the biggest draws for Milwaukee’s $1.6 billion in tourism. The Bucks are a minor player compared to cultural attractions.

  5. Casey says:

    Want I really want to know is where is PMD? Did I miss an obituary?

  6. Terry Ott says:

    Urban Milwaukee is to be commended for the coverage it provides, and its Comments entries are by and large the most intelligent discussions one will find, anywhere, in a public forum. It is one of the few bright spots in journalism today. Keep up the good work. And thank you.

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