Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & LawLeave a comment» on Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Yes, the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks have big goals for their basketball team, including ultimately an NBA championship. But they also have big goals for spurring positive developments in Milwaukee, not only in the immediate area of their new arena downtown but more broadly.

“We’re trying to do our part as a good corporate citizen,” Alex Lasry, senior vice-president of the Bucks, said at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Thursday.

Lasry, the son of Marc Lasry, one of the lead owners of the National Basketball Association franchise, emphasized the community involvement goals of the team. That starts with the arena and surrounding developments, including a practice facility, parking structure, and entertainment district. More development will come after the current arena, Bradley Center next door, is razed and land needed for construction purposes is freed up, Lasry said. He said the team was talking about $1 billion in total spending in the immediate area.

Public funding of the arena project, totaling more than $250 million in state and local money, is one reason the team is strongly committed to having a broader positive impact on Milwaukee, he said. But it goes beyond that.

Lasry said the chance to do more than just own a team was one of the big draws for his father and Wes Edens, the other major figure in the purchase of the team from Sen Herb Kohl in 2014.

“When my dad and Wes were buying the team, my dad had been looking to buy a team for about 10 years before he bought the Bucks,” Alex Lasry told Gousha. “He looked at the Sixers, he looked at the Hawks, he looked at a few teams, and was never quite able to pull the trigger on something.

“And I think when they came here, what they saw was not only a chance to own a basketball team, which had always been a life-long dream and has been really cool, but they saw a chance to re-think what a major part of a downtown could be. They saw a chance to actually develop 30 acres of a downtown in a major city, which I don’t know if a lot of you know, but you don’t actually get to do that in a lot of cities, where you kind of get a blank slate for 30 acres in a downtown.”

Describing the reach of what is going on in the immediate area of the arena, which is slated to open a year from now, Lasry said, “What we’re doing right there is exactly what we wanted to do and exactly what we promised, which is create real economic development and not just create an arena on an island, which is kind of what the Bradley Center is right now.”

The team’s community goals also include paying comparatively high wages for all the jobs connected to games; setting – and meeting – ambitious goals for hiring city residents and contracting with businesses owned by minority members and women during construction and beyond; and supporting economic development and community causes such as working with schools and youth organizations. He said the team wants its impact to reach beyond the arena area into neighborhoods across the city.

Lasry, who owns a home in Milwaukee and who has become involved in a list of civic groups, spoke highly of the city. Milwaukee has needs, he said, but the city has “incredible bones,” including a beautiful location and major universities. And then there are the people. “If you give Milwaukee 100 percent, Milwaukee will turn around and give you 200 percent,” he said.

”There is no reason it (Milwaukee) shouldn’t be able to match any big city,” he said. And the Bucks want to be a key part of that.

To watch the one-hour program, click here.  







Milwaukee’s Property Tax Heavy Revenue System Needs Change, Researcher Says

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The City of Milwaukee stands out among its peers when it comes to the structure for financing government functions. And that’s not a good thing.

A new report from the Public Policy Forum, a non-partisan Milwaukee non-profit that researches government issues, finds that Milwaukee receives a higher share of its revenue to run city government from property taxes than any other city among 39 in America with populations between 300,000 and 1 million. And Milwaukee stands alone by a wide margin.

Other cities have more tools for collecting revenue than Milwaukee, including sales taxes, local income taxes and entertainment taxes, Rob Henken, president of the policy forum, said at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Wednesday. That leaves Milwaukee overly reliant on two ways of paying for public service — property taxes and state aid payments that have been effectively shrinking. Continue reading “Milwaukee’s Property Tax Heavy Revenue System Needs Change, Researcher Says”

Richard Florida Calls for Spreading the Success of “Urban Revival”

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette2 Comments on Richard Florida Calls for Spreading the Success of “Urban Revival”

Richard Florida describes himself as a thinker. “I sit in a little room with a computer and think thoughts and write them down,” he told a capacity audience or more than 200 in the Lubar Center of Marquette Law School during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Thursday.

But his thoughts have made him an influential and widely-followed analyst of the trends shaping urban life in North America. His 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, predicted that there would be a surge of vitality in cities where creative people – tech innovators, artists, entrepreneurs, and so on  – clustered.

“I really under-predicted,” Florida told Gousha. In following years there was “an urban revival on steroids.”

The trends he foresaw have shown up in Milwaukee. “It’s amazing what’s happened here,” Florida said, mentioning some of the things he had done and seen since arriving the previous day. “Milwaukee has done a fabulous job of reinventing itself.”

But the boom in urban living and economic vitality has brought with it downsides, Florida said. All you need to know is the title to his new book to catch his concerns: The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class – and What We Can Do About It. Continue reading “Richard Florida Calls for Spreading the Success of “Urban Revival””

Wisconsin Grows, but Most Municipalities Shrink

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, MilwaukeeLeave a comment» on Wisconsin Grows, but Most Municipalities Shrink

On May 25, 2017, the Census Bureau released its 2016 annual population estimates for subcounty geographic units.[1] This granular level of detail allows us to look more closely at where population change has occurred across the state.

As a whole, Wisconsin gained an estimated 91,419 people between July 2010 and July 2016—including 10,817 in the year ending July 2016. But these headline numbers obscure major variation across the state. Of the more than 1,850 cities, towns, and villages making up Wisconsin, 833 grew since 2010 and 986 of them shrank. Smaller places tended to get smaller, while bigger places got bigger. In 2010, 70 percent of the state lived in municipalities which would grow in the next six years, compared to just 30 percent in municipalities that would shrink. Much of this loss was concentrated in the northern region of the state, with the notable exception of several communities in Douglas County near Duluth, MN.

The map above shows the percent change in population for each Wisconsin municipality from 2010 to 2016.[2] The Green Bay/Appleton and greater Madison regions saw some of the highest growth, with additional sustained growth occurring in the Western part of the state including La Crosse, Eau Claire, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs. Nearly all portions of Marathon County surrounding Wausau have also experienced growth since 2010, although the City of Wausau itself declined marginally. This stands in stark contrast to nearby Rusk County, which lost 4 percent of its total population over the same time period. The only county to fare worse was neighboring Price County where the population declined by 4.5 percent. Dane County fared best with 9 percent growth, followed by tiny Menomonee (7 percent) and Green Bay area Brown County (5 percent).

Applying the same scale to just the past year’s change reveals similar, though necessarily less severe, trends. From 2015 to 2016 the City of Milwaukee lost an estimated 4,300 people, or about 0.7 percent of its population. Combined with a minor decline the year before, this essentially wiped out the city’s slight growth from 2010 to 2014.

Despite stagnant population size in places like Milwaukee and Wausau, Wisconsin’s growth is driven by its most populous communities. Municipalities with populations of at least 10,000 grew an average of 1.5 percent from 2010 to 2016. Municipalities with less than 1,000 residents shrank an average of 0.5 percent.


[1] Estimates are for July 1 of each year.

[2] I use the Census Bureau’s July population estimate base for 2010, not the decennial census. The technical unit of measurement in the map is Minor Civil Division (MCD), which corresponds with Wisconsin’s municipalities except in situations where municipalities cross county lines. In those rare cases, each county’s portion of the municipality is measured and mapped uniquely. Statistics in the report, however, reflect the total figures for each municipality.


Panelists Say New Assessment Tool Makes Pre-Trial Release Decisions “Smarter”

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Judges & Judicial Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Panelists Say New Assessment Tool Makes Pre-Trial Release Decisions “Smarter”

One of the most important decisions a judge or court commissioner makes in handling criminal cases is whether the defendant should be kept in jail or released while awaiting an outcome. A person’s constitutional rights and the community’s need for safety need to be weighed.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Wednesday, Maxine White, chief judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, summarized the obligation of judges and commissioners when making those decisions: “To do everything possible to get it right.”

“When I started as a judge 25 years ago, the ‘getting it right’ was all in Maxine’s head and Maxine’s gut,” White said. “Since that time, we’ve gotten smarter.”

The tool that is being used now as a key to getting smarter was the focus of the program in the newly-named Lubar Center (previously the Appellate Courtroom) at Eckstein Hall as White, L’85, along with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Wisconsin First Assistant State Defender Tom Reed, described a scoring system that is being used in Milwaukee County and almost 30 other jurisdictions around the United States to better inform decisions on releasing or incarcerating those awaiting outcomes of criminal complaints.   Continue reading “Panelists Say New Assessment Tool Makes Pre-Trial Release Decisions “Smarter””

Children’s Hospital Chief Says Her “North Star” Is Good Health for All Kids

Posted on Categories Health Care, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Children’s Hospital Chief Says Her “North Star” Is Good Health for All Kids

When Peggy Troy returned to the Milwaukee area about eight years ago to become president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, she was struck by the disparities in children’s health she found. She had been a hospital executive in Memphis and expected that things were better overall in Milwaukee. But when it came to medical issues affecting thousands of children in high-poverty neighborhoods, that wasn’t really the case. The disparities in Milwaukee’s central city were some of the worst in the nation.

Since then, Troy has been a central figure in accelerating the efforts by Children’s and many community partners to improve the overall health of children in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. While the national reputation of Children’s for its medical work has continued to rise, the mission statement for the institution goes beyond delivering care for patients. It is to make Wisconsin’s children the healthiest in the nation.

That broader mission was Troy’s focus during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Thursday.   Continue reading “Children’s Hospital Chief Says Her “North Star” Is Good Health for All Kids”

Abele Offers Big Ideas in Law School Session — Like Making Milwaukee the State Capital

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette1 Comment on Abele Offers Big Ideas in Law School Session — Like Making Milwaukee the State Capital

Chris Abele likes to think big. How big? Try this on:

“Move the capital.”

What? Move the state capital from Madison to Milwaukee? The idea was greeted with laughter when Abele, the Milwaukee County executive, floated it during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Wednesday.

It’s hard to picture the odds of that coming to pass as anything other than flat zero. But Abele was serious – sort of. He knew it was not going to happen, but, he said, “you can’t talk me out of thinking about it.” There is “plenty of research” that shows the advantages in terms of economic impact and government efficiency of the state capital and the state’s largest population center being the same. Think of Boston, Denver, and Minnesota’s Twin Cities.  Continue reading “Abele Offers Big Ideas in Law School Session — Like Making Milwaukee the State Capital”

Chicago, New York Heading in Opposite Directions on Crime; Where Does Milwaukee Stand?

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on Chicago, New York Heading in Opposite Directions on Crime; Where Does Milwaukee Stand?

To judge by some of the political rhetoric last fall, violent crime must be surging in our nation’s cities. Is that true? The answer may depend on which city you are talking about, and which neighborhood within that city.

Consider the contrast between Chicago and New York. The Windy City had about 762 homicides in 2016, while the Big Apple had just 334. The difference is shocking, especially when you consider that New York has three times Chicago’s population.

To some extent, the contrasting figures from 2016 reflect longstanding trends. Although murders did spike in Chicago last year, New York has been doing better than Chicago on this score for a long time. The two cities had essentially identical per capita homicide rates in the late 1980s, but New York’s fell much faster and further than Chicago’s in the 1990s. New York has maintained a wide advantage ever since.

Still, the dramatic widening of that advantage in 2016 should be of great concern to Chicagoans. The chart below indicates the trends in recent years, based on FBI data. Note that the two cities moved in sync from 2013 through 2015: homicides down the first year, basically unchanged the next, and then up a little in 2015. However, in 2016, even as Chicago’s homicides shot up, New York’s dropped back down to where they had been in 2013 and 2014.

One should not get the sense, however, that one faces a dramatically elevated risk of violence throughout the Windy City.   Continue reading “Chicago, New York Heading in Opposite Directions on Crime; Where Does Milwaukee Stand?”

Media Should Inform the Public on Why, Not Just What, of Criminal Legalities

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, PublicLeave a comment» on Media Should Inform the Public on Why, Not Just What, of Criminal Legalities

As we discussed potential procedures following the aftermath of acts causing tension between citizens of the Milwaukee area and police officers, a small group I was part of presented an interesting point. That point was that many times citizens are unaware of the on-goings of the criminal legal system. When situations arise in which officers or citizens are not found guilty subsequent to what seems to be a criminal act, onlookers are furious and the city burns—literally.

The media does little to help reduce the animosity, pointing fingers and creating distrust between residents and law enforcement by informing on the what, but failing to expand on the why. We as law school students are all legally educated, and most of us, at the least, have taken criminal law, even if we are not so knowledgeable as those who teach it. So, when an event takes place that seems unjust and nobody walks away in handcuffs, we understand why. The citizens of Milwaukee, however, don’t have that same knowledge and are understandably outraged. Continue reading “Media Should Inform the Public on Why, Not Just What, of Criminal Legalities”

An Election Day Primer for Wisconsin Voters*

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Election Law, Milwaukee, Public1 Comment on An Election Day Primer for Wisconsin Voters*

Voting_United_StatesTomorrow is Election Day. It’s important to vote, so make sure you know where and when you can cast your ballot. New for Wisconsin voters this year is a photo identification requirement. I break down the voting process below to demystify and clarify it.

The main thing, though, is to vote. Even if you don’t like your choices for president, there are down-ballot races, including a state-wide U.S. Senate race between Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson and any number of races for federal or state representatives and other local officials, for which your vote matters. Continue reading “An Election Day Primer for Wisconsin Voters*”

Calling 911 in the Wake of Police Violence

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Poverty & Law, Public, Race & LawLeave a comment» on Calling 911 in the Wake of Police Violence

black_lives_matter_sign_-_minneapolis_protest_22632545857Amanda Seligman is a Visiting Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School.

How does racially-tinged police violence toward civilians affect city residents’ willingness to summon aid in an emergency? A study in the October 2016 American Sociological Review asks what happened to the number of 911 calls after the public revelation that off-duty white Milwaukee police officers beat Frank Jude in 2004. In “Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community,” Matthew Desmond, Andrew V. Papachristos, and David S. Kirk find that in the year after the initial publicity around the beating, Milwaukee residents placed 22,000 fewer 911 calls than might have been expected, resulting in a total of 110,000 calls. Although white neighborhoods saw a spike in 911 calls and then a long but shallow dip, the loss of calls was especially pronounced in black neighborhoods. The authors found no such loss of calls reporting traffic accidents.

Desmond et al.’s 911 study received extensive mass media coverage. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams wrote about the study in The Atlantic, and the New York Times’sThe Upshot” column reported the findings. The study was the subject of two articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one reporting on the findings and one offering responses from District Attorney John Chisholm and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Two of the authors, Desmond and Papachristos, also published an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times commenting on the significance of their research. A small host of other reports suggest broad interest in the study’s implications in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread coverage of police shootings of African American civilians.

Sociologist Desmond is one of our most thoughtful observers of the cultural significance of the 911 emergency call system. In Evicted, his 2015 ethnographic study of housing and poverty in Milwaukee, Desmond observed how victims of domestic violence put themselves at risk for losing their homes if they call the police too often. Continue reading “Calling 911 in the Wake of Police Violence”

Conference Offers Light — and Some Heat — on Gamut of Crucial Water Issues

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Water LawLeave a comment» on Conference Offers Light — and Some Heat — on Gamut of Crucial Water Issues

To the general public, water is “an issue that’s obscure under normal circumstances,” Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and professor of law and public policy, said at the end of the major conference on water issues this week (Sept. 7, 2016) at the Law School.

Franklin was commenting on the relatively mixed level of concern about water issues found in responses to several questions in the Law School Poll’s results from late August. For many people, you turn on the faucet, drinkable water comes out, and you’re likely to pretty much take this for granted.

But then, Franklin said, there are disasters that demand great attention and drive perceptions.

The Law School’s conference, “Public Policy and American Drinking Water,” drew a capacity audience to the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall. Both among the speakers and members of the audience, the room was filled with experts and leading activists on water issues – as well as interested members of the public, Marquette undergraduate and graduate students, and a dozen high school students.

And as Franklin suggested, the conference offered some controversial content of great public interest – namely, discussion of issues around lead in drinking water in Flint, Mich., Milwaukee, and elsewhere – and quite a bit of lower-key discussion around important water issues that don’t attract so much attention (the state of groundwater supplies, pricing and valuation of water, and the role of private ventures in water delivery systems). Continue reading “Conference Offers Light — and Some Heat — on Gamut of Crucial Water Issues”