Law School and Public Policy Forum Offer Web Site on Future of Cultural Assets

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
1 Comment »

Set aside the hot subject of a new basketball arena for downtown Milwaukee – that’s a horse race that’s already far down the track – and we still face a lot of major policy questions about the future of the Milwaukee area’s cultural and recreational assets.

Museums, the zoo, parks, playgrounds, the convention center, cultural organizations– these are important assets to the community and keys to the overall quality of life of people living in and visiting the Milwaukee area.

What should do to keep them vibrant and how should we pay for what we do?

Marquette Law School and the Public Policy Forum, a non-partisan local research organization, are partnering in an effort to help educate people on the issues surrounding these important aspects of our community. The two institutions have created a Web-based tool for learning about the issues and developing your own thoughts on what should be done and how it might be financed. Read more »

Print Friendly



The School of Don Walker

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School History, Milwaukee, Public
1 Comment »

Several people have used the phrase “old school” when talking about Don Walker. I know what they mean and it is certainly intended as a compliment.

But I want to make sure no one thinks that what Don did as a news reporter and editor for 37 years in Milwaukee was in any way out of date.

The Don Walker approach to news was to get to know all you can about important subjects and to tell what you know to the public in as clear and straight-forward a way as you could. That’s something we need so much these days. That’s why whatever he wrote, whatever subject he was covering, his reporting was a must-read for anyone who wanted to know what was going on.

That’s one big reason – but only one – why Don will be missed. He collapsed and died Friday at home, apparently of a heart attack. He was 62.    Read more »

Print Friendly



Urban Poverty Conference Offers Insights and Some Bits of Hope

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
3 Comments »

“Urban Men in Poverty: Problems and Solutions” – that was the name of a morning-long conference at Eckstein Hall on Friday. Not surprisingly, the content of the gathering, which featured presentations from five professors from four universities, shed more light on the problems than the solutions. The problems are large and urgent, and good research illuminates them. The solutions are much more difficult to identify and implement.

That gave the conference a lot of content but a sobering tone. On the other hand, hope was present too.

For one thing, the fact that such a gathering occurred was a promising sign, Marquette University President Mike Lovell told the audience of more than 200. This was the first collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs and Marquette Law School. Lovell suggested this was an example of the kind of partnerships that are needed to create change.

“The only way we’re going to face and overcome the problems of urban men in poverty is by working together,” Lovell said. He said there are no easy answers. The problems related to urban men in poverty are rooted in events of decades. Solutions will not come quickly.  But, he said, he was excited so many people with serious interest gathered to show commitment to pursing solutions. Read more »

Print Friendly



NEWaukee and How to Create the Most Awesome City on the Planet

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Popular Culture & Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

Angela Damiani has a clear goal: “To make this the most awesome city on the planet.”

Note that we didn’t say “an easy goal,” we said “a clear goal.” But don’t tell Damiani that it can’t be pursued and there can’t be progress in getting there. In the six years since it began, NEWaukee, the organization she leads as president, has become a fast-growing  energizer and catalyst for community-building activities, particularly among young professionals.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday, Damiani said the jargon term for NEWaukee is that it is a social architecture firm. What does that mean? In short, NEWaukee is an organization aimed at consciously designing ways to shift a population toward a goal – and that goal is to make Milwaukee a place people think is attractive and appealing.  Which is where the ”awesome city” ambition comes in. Read more »

Print Friendly



Deadly Force in Philly (and Milwaukee)

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public
1 Comment »

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a voluminous report on uses of deadly force by the Philadelphia Police Department. In recent years, there has been a drop in both violent crime and assaults on police officers in the City of Brotherly Love, but officer-involved shootings (OISs) have remained stubbornly high. Amidst media coverage of rising OIS numbers in 2013, the Police Department requested assistance from the DOJ in order to assess the problem.

The new report, authored by George Fachner and Steven Carter, finds there were 394 OISs in Philadelphia between 2007 and 2014, for an average of 49 per year. The suspects were unarmed in 15% of the cases. Fachner and Carter provide a wealth of data regarding the 394 OISs and dozens of recommendations for the Department.

One recommendation is that the “PPD should publish a detailed report on use of force, including deadly force, on an annual basis. The report should be released to the public.”

I’m pleased to say that we are already doing such annual reports here in Milwaukee. How do the numbers compare?

Read more »

Print Friendly



MULS Conference to Consider Human Trafficking and Restorative Justice

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Immigration Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Labor & Employment Law, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public
Leave a Comment »

MartinaVImage_0On Thursday and Friday, Marquette Law School will host an important conference, “Restorative Justice and Human Trafficking — From Wisconsin to the World.”  As the title suggests, human trafficking — for sex or labor — is a both a global human rights problem and a significant issue locally.  Hundreds of cases have been reported in Wisconsin, mostly in the Milwaukee area.  The conference is designed to raise awareness about trafficking and to help concerned citizens get involved in efforts to address the problem.

The Conference kicks off at 4:30 on Thursday with a keynote address by Martina Vandenberg (pictured above), who leads the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C.  Vandenberg has worked on cases involving trafficking and other humans rights violations around the world.

On Friday, the Conference will continue with a full schedule of speakers and panels.  A panel of victim-survivors will share their experiences.  Local leaders and activists will discuss the impact of trafficking and current efforts to help victims.  Other speakers will cover the existing legal framework, potential legal reforms, and the international context of trafficking.

The Conference is sold out, but there will be a live feed that can be viewed by clicking on the “Watch Now” tabs in the pages linked to above.

Print Friendly



Mercenary Justice?

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public, Race & Law
Leave a Comment »

Earlier this week, the United States Department of Justice released a scathing report on police and court practices in Ferguson, Missouri. Figuring prominently in the DOJ’s criticisms, Ferguson criminal-justice officials were said to be overly concerned with extracting money from defendants. For instance, the DOJ charges:

Ferguson has allowed its focus on revenue generation to fundamentally compromise the role of Ferguson’s municipal court. The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct. Instead, the court primarily uses its judicial authority as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests. This has led to court practices that violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements. The court’s practices also impose unnecessary harm, overwhelmingly on African-American individuals, and run counter to public safety. (3)

I don’t know how fair these particular criticisms are, but they echo numerous other criticisms made in recent years about the increasing tendency of the American criminal-justice system to rely financially on a burgeoning array of surcharges, fees, forfeitures, and the like.

Professors Wayne Logan and Ron Wright have a fine recent article on this subject, appropriately entitled “Mercenary Criminal Justice” (2014 Ill. L. Rev. 1175).   Read more »

Print Friendly



Milwaukee Arrests Rarely Involve Force, But Numbers Vary by District

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law
Leave a Comment »

Last week, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission released its annual report on police uses of force for 2013. The report counts 895 incidents in 2013, employing a very broad definition of “use of force” that does not require either an injury or the use of a weapon. To put that number into perspective, the Milwaukee Police Department made more than 30,000 arrests in 2013. For each arrest in which force was used, there were about thirty-six arrests in which force was not used.

In nearly three-quarters of the use-of-force-incidents, no weapon was used by the police officer. In the remaining incidents, the most commonly used weapons were Tasers and pepper spray. Firearms were used on forty occasions, most commonly on dogs. Firearms were used against human subjects in fourteen incidents; eleven of the subjects were hit.   Read more »

Print Friendly



Milwaukee Residents Give Solid Marks to Police

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law
1 Comment »

Last week, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (of which I am a member) released the results of its first-ever survey of citizen attitudes toward the police.  Although the survey identified a few areas of concern, the overall tenor of citizen attitudes seems positive.

Conducted for the FPC by UWM’s Center for Urban Initiatives & Research last summer, the survey involved telephone interviews of 1,452 Milwaukee residents.  As detailed in the CUIR’s report, the survey respondents were reflective of the city’s diversity in racial composition and in other respects.

The report’s lead finding is that about three-quarters of Milwaukee residents report that they are at least somewhat satisfied with the Milwaukee Police Department, while only about nine percent said they were “not at all satisfied.”  These findings are notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that fully one-quarter of the respondents reported being stopped by the police in the past year.  One might suppose that this group would be predisposed to negative evaluations of the police.  However, the vast majority (71%) of those stopped felt that they were treated fairly.  The MPD has significantly increased its number of stops in recent years, but it does not appear that involuntary contact with the police normally leads to hard feelings by the person stopped.

Given recent racial tensions in Milwaukee and nationally regarding policing practices, it is especially important to note the racial patterns in survey responses.   Read more »

Print Friendly



The Difficult Pursuit of a Cohesive Approach to the “Megacity” Economy

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public
1 Comment »

Metropolitan regional economies are “the most cohesive economies we have,” Charles L. Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, says.

But what is it that gives cohesion to the metropolitan region that stretches from the Milwaukee area through Chicago and into northwestern Indiana? And how should the region move forwardMarquette Lawyer in a cohesive way?

It’s a tall order to change the way people think, but the Alliance for Regional Development, a non-profit co-chaired by major business figures from Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, is trying to do that. On Dec. 19, it convened a “Summit on Regional Competitiveness” at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

The effort to foster more cooperation in building on regional strengths in pursuit of greater economic success was spurred in large part by a report released in 2012 by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which concluded that the Chicago region was growing more slowly than many other economic hubs around the world. The report strongly urged more effort by all involved to work together as a region. It said regions that work together have flourished more than those that do not. The regional alliance was created in the aftermath of that.

The “megacity” effort has been of great interest to Marquette Law School, as well as Marquette University more broadly. In 2012, a conference at Eckstein Hall brought together leading experts and advocates, and that was followed by the Summer 2013 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine which focused on the subject. Our interest in the regional effort has continued. Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, and I attended the Dec. 19 conference. Read more »

Print Friendly



Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Religion & Law, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Perhaps Kathleen Cepelka effectively summed up a half-day conference Wednesday on the future of Catholic kindergarten through twelfth grade schools simply by describing the state of the schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Cepelka, the superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, told the full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall about the strengths of schools in Milwaukee, about positive developments in enrollment, and about the many praiseworthy people and organizations involved in making the schools as good as they are.

But, she said, the quality of some of the schools isn’t what it needs to be and there are weak levels of achievement among students in some schools.  “We are not satisfied,” she said.

That mix — loyalty and pride in Catholic schools with an understanding of the pressing need to improve —  was voiced frequently during the conference, “The Future of Catholic K-12 Education: National and Milwaukee Perspectives,” sponsored by Marquette Law School and the Marquette College of Education.  Maybe “we are not satisfied” could have been the slogan for the event.   Read more »

Print Friendly



Some Hopeful Perspective on Foreclosures and Abandoned Homes

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Foreclosures and vacant homes in some of Milwaukee’s most challenging neighborhoods – sounds like a pretty grim subject, right? But, without sugar coating the serious problems involved, an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Monday offered optimistic and upbeat perspectives.

Two reasons were highlighted: There are programs underway in the city that are successfully taking empty homes, reviving them, and putting them in the hands of eager owners who are want to be successful, responsible owners.  And Milwaukee’s foreclose and abandoned home problems are less formidable and being managed more successfully than in some other urban centers.

Gousha spoke with Michael Gosman, assistant director of ACTS Housing; Willie Smith, director of housing for the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation; and Aaron Szopinski, housing policy director for the City of Milwaukee. ACTS and the Northwest Side organization are both non-profits involved in turning vacant homes around and putting new owners in them. Read more »

Print Friendly