Will The Last Person To Leave Milwaukee County Please Turn Out The Lights
After the "Milwaukee County Pension Scandal", no one should be surprised at the irresponsibility of the Milwaukee County Board. Yet, just when you think they couldn't stoop lower - they do.
For those new to the area, Milwaukee used to have something called the Park East Freeway. This was a small freeway spur that jutted off I-43 just north of downtown and ran east to about Jefferson Street. The Park East Freeway served as a northern alternate for people to get into and out of downtown. On a typical weekday, it carried about 35,000 vehicles.
In one of his final acts, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist succeeded in pushing through a plan to tear down the Park East Freeway. The idea was to get rid of the Freeway in order to make room for a predicted explosion of economic growth in the Park East corridor. Proponents claimed that tearing down the Park East would lead to at least $250 million in economic development!
Ten years after the freeway spur was demolished, the Park East corridor remains what is basically a moonscape - with apologies to moonscapes.
To be fair, there are lots of reasons why there has been so little economic development in the area. For example, early projections of interest by developers were unrealistic in the extreme and the subsequent recession killed what little interest there might have been.
And then there is the role of government - including government mandated wage standards, affirmative action requirements and other employment rules.
Still, some people in the private sector are still trying to swim upstream and make a difference.
In December of 2007, a group of developers came forward with a plan to build a retail/residential development called Park East Square. Since then, the project has be plagued with financial problems and various other delays. On March 5, 2012 Park East Square entered into a partnership with a local development firm called Wangard Partners Inc. With Wangard on board, it appeared as if the initial $20 million plus first stage of the project was finally going to get off the ground.
By a vote of 4 to 3, the Milwaukee County Board's Economic and Community Development Committee declined to give immediate approval of the project. The reason? A year ago, Wangard replaced twelve union janitors with non-union janitors at a building they own at 875 E. Wisconsin Avenue.
That's right. A group of morons on the Milwaukee County Board are stalling a major development project in an area that desperately needs development because one of the developers replaced twelve union janitors - at a building that has nothing to do with Milwaukee County!
So, for the time being, hundreds of construction workers (many of whom will undoubtedly be affiliated with private sector unions) will not be working because of the Milwaukee County Board. You seriously can't make this stuff up.
Will the last person to leave Milwaukee County please turn out the lights?