Nathan Sass

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Correcting the Record on a New Arena

In New Milwaukee Arena, Politics, Sports on May 3, 2014 at 12:34 PM

I was blessed to have an opinion piece recently published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the issues surrounding a new arena in Milwaukee.  In it I discussed some of the roadblocks to “regional cooperation” from the perspective of residents outside the City of Milwaukee.

As expected, what I actually wrote made little difference.  Reading the comments was like listening in on a playground argument.  Most posters decided I “hate the city of Milwaukee” because I am a “racist” (or something like that), that I want Milwaukee to disappear, and that I should “just stay in Waukesha”.

One Purple Wisconsin author actually somehow concluded that I proposed the new Arena be built in Waukesha (which I did not and do not believe makes any sense, nor did I even propose).

For the record, I don’t hate Milwaukee.  I chose not to live there, but I don’t want it to fail either.  I think the arena belongs somewhere “in the city”, not out in the sticks.

My position on locating the arena is rooted in a careful understanding of proven “urban renewal” efforts elsewhere.  While Milwaukee is not New York, it does share some of the same problems New York once had in the pre-Giuliani days.  Crime rates are high (relative to the surrounding areas, at least), which deters people from coming into the city for recreational purposes.  The fears are not universal, to be sure, but they are real and pervasive.  Tax rates are also generally higher than in suburban alternatives, which further drives away potential residents.

Those who live in the city may see such opinions as ridiculous and dismiss them, but they do so at their own peril.  It is generally unwise to ignore the concerns of people you hope to have as customers, be it in business or in urban affairs.  You may not agree with the fears, but you must at least acknowledge them and address them without derisive dismissal.

Shouting “racist” at anyone who dares express a view other than positive about your city will not make people want to patronize it.  In fact, it only deepens the divide and reinforces their desire to stay away.

Giuliani’s master stroke was to accept the criticisms as having some validity and take them on directly.  The NYPD was empowered to make the streets a safe place and welcoming for people not accustomed to the city.  He encouraged development in areas that were proven to viable already (i.e. Times Square, 34th St., etc) and placed special focus on them from a public safety perspective.

New York can also be looked to for other lessons in so-called “urban renewal”.  Many new attractions in New York are placed in already vibrant areas, creating critical mass in those locations.  Rather than put a new attraction in a location with little going on in it, they cluster developments and create what are almost cities within the city.

There are entertainment districts (i.e. Broadway), residential areas (the upper west side), business areas (Wall St. and the financial district) and retail areas (Times Square, 34th st and 5th Ave).  These areas become magnets for additional related development, and as as long as they are viewed as safe, magnets for non-city residents to visit and patronize.  I found New York fun, easy to navigate, and felt very safe in my time there.  The NYPD was seemingly everywhere, very engaging and friendly, and my wife and I felt comfortable walking all over the city.

Barrett, on the other hand, seems to want to only develop in areas with nothing going on.  His desire to locate an arena “downtown” reflects this.  He wants an arena on its own to transform an entire area with its mere existence.  The Bradley Center is living, undeniable proof that this will not work.  The BC never led to any sustained development, even when an entire corridor 2 blocks away was leveled to the ground.  The Park East corridor remains largely vacant to this day because it was placed in a location with little else attracting visitors, and one many people regard (rightly or wrongly) as “less safe” than other parts of the city.

I proposed placing the new arena in the Valley on Canal St. in my op-ed  with an eye to what New York does so well – clustered, related development in areas already showing some signs of life, perceived as safe and attracting visitors from the outside.

I believe Canal St. (which for all those who think I hate Milwaukee is still within the city limits of “Barretland”) is a potential jackpot (pun intended).

Here are just a few reasons I think Canal St. is a more than viable option to consider.

1. Locating on Canal St. would only be done with it a financial contribution from the Potawatomi, greatly reducing the need for any public funds for the arena itself.  The Potawatomi stand to benefit greatly from such a location.  Their new hotel would be the likely choice for out of town teams, media and fans, producing gaming, dining and lodging revenue to their business.  This simultaneously removes the biggest roadblock to the Hard Rock Casino in Kenosha, allowing it to proceed as well.  The Potawatomi Casino would have a draw that competes with the Hard Rock brand and helps offset any losses to a new competitor.  This creates development in the city AND the suburbs (HEY – actual regional cooperation for once!!!).

2. Canal St. is book-ended by unique Milwaukee attractions (especially for out of state visitors).  On the east end is the Harley Davidson Museum and Hotel.  On the west end is Miller Park, a one of a kind world class stadium and an engineering marvel.  Placing another distinctive venue between them capitalizes on the draw of these proven attractions, moving closer critical mass.  It also runs along the Menominee River and the Hank Aaron State Trail, which could be very picturesque if developed.

3. To the immediate south of Canal St. is Mitchell Park and the Domes, another unique Milwaukee attraction.  There is a rail yard presently between Canal St. and the park, but those rail lines could be covered and development or expanded green space could connect the park and Canal St.  (Think O’Donnell Park only useful and productive.)  This opens the near south side of the city to development similar to what occurred on 43rd St. following Miller Park’s construction.  This revitalizes a potentially beautiful and historic residential area and encourages commercial development nearby.

4. There are ample developable locations along Canal St. that could host a variety of entertainment options.  Bars, restaurants and hotels could be built in what is now empty or light manufacturing space.  This will certainly not happen overnight, but the potential for profit will likely draw investment in the area as New York has shown.  There will be relocation of some businesses required, but that is not necessarily bad or impossible.  One can even imagine incentives given to companies in the Valley to relocate in other industrial areas of Milwaukee, creating critical mass in multiple locations with distinct purposes.

5. The Canal St. location also alleviates fears of many non-city residents.  The Valley is a less intimidating location for people not accustomed to the feel of the city center.  It is also much easier to police and keep “safe”.  An MPD substation (like the one in Times Square in NYC) would be a great addition and all but eliminate fears of crime for visitors.

6. Canal St. is also far more accessible for non-city residents than Juneau Ave. is, with far more potential parking very near by.  Canal St. can be accessed via Hwy 41/Miller Park Way, 25th St via I-94, 13th St. via I 94, as well as 16th St and 6th St. via surface streets.  These access points are distributed along Canal St. and offer options from within and outside the city.  For those in Milwaukee already, there is easy access on surface streets, while those from the suburbs can use multiple interstate exits to access the area.  Juneau Ave., by comparison, is much more difficult to access for those from outside the city who are not as familiar with the city or uncomfortable in urban centers in a vehicle.  In fact, the Potawatomi Casino is already frequented by many of the same people who generally shy away from “downtown” right now for this very simple reason.

7. There is the potential in the longer term to unite the Third Ward, the Summerfest Grounds and the Valley along the river.  Imagine the potential for those areas if they grew together.  Milwaukee would be a very desirable location for people seeking an urban lifestyle with a “safe” feel and nearby attractions and entertainment.  This corridor would run from Lake Michigan to the east all the way to Miller Park in the west, with most of it within several blocks of water (the river or the lake).  It could be stunning, really, and unique in all the world.

8. This is probably my least favorite reason to look to the Valley, but since Tom Barrett is bound and determined to have a trolley someplace before he hangs it up, let me offer that a trolley that runs the length of Canal St. would actually make a lot of sense and make the area even more developable.  For visitors, Canal St. becomes a “park once, see it all” location.  The trolley would allow easy and rapid movement from venue to venue, and requires a lot less development money to achieve.  It would not interfere with existing traffic patterns, relocation of utilities, and remove needed parking.  For once, a train would make economic sense in Milwaukee.  It might even need to be expand outside Canal St. into the Third Ward or up 27th St., if consumers demand it.

These are just the major reasons to consider strongly a location on Canal St. and I am sure more can and will be identified.

And for the record, this Waukesha resident is actually advocating for a MILWAUKEE location for the new arena.

If the Valley and Canal St. was the chosen location you might find many suburbanites far more willing to support regional participation (especially those in Kenosha benefiting from the Hard Rock development), so long as their opinions and perspectives are not just dismissed by Barrett and his minions, and the money contributed is proportionate to the level of oversight given.

Which is why none of this will ever probably happen.  I cannot ever imagine Barrett and his ilk having anything but contempt towards the municipalities that surround “his” city.  It’s always his way or the highway.

Using the Amway Center (B) in Orlando, FL as a stand in, here are some potential locations for a new arena in Milwaukee on Canal St.

Using the Amway Center (B) in Orlando, FL as a stand in, here are some potential locations for a new arena in Milwaukee on Canal St.

(Map Source: Google Maps: Link)


Hey Conservatives – There is No ‘i’ in ‘team’

In Politics, Sports on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Sports, it is said, can teach us a lot about life.  Teamwork, commitment to excellence, and a will to win are the hallmarks of champions in the world of athletics.

Politics is not much different, really.  Unfortunately, conservatives have a built-in weakness where some of these things are concerned, especially when compared to progressives.

Conservatives are golfers, and progressives play baseball.

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UPDATE: Someone Contact Jessica Sanford in WA!!!

In Barack Obama, Health Care Reform, Politics on October 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

UPDATE: Looks like Jessica Sanford is a liberal “true believer”, and perhaps quite a nasty (or just angry) person to boot.  I sent a note to her via a contact to pass along my sympathies on her messy situation, and told her my family and I were praying for her and her son.

No politics.  No Obamacare shots.  Just a note telling her we were pulling for her.

Jessica Sanford

Just saw the news about her Obamacare ordeal.

If you know her, please let her know we are praying for her and her son.


Here was her response:

Keep your prayers to yourself

I don’t need your prayers.  I am fine without them.  The ACA will work, it’s WA State that has to fix their website.  It’s all on them at this point.
No need to respond 

Jessica Sanford


Sorry Jessica.  Still gonna pray for you.

Oh, and by the way dear, your problem isn’t the website.  You don’t have insurance now because of Obamacare.  The website doesn’t make the rules, and even if the site worked, you STILL wouldn’t have insurance.

But keep the faith like a good angry liberal.

UPDATE:  Turns out Jessica did finally figure out that the deal she thought she was getting was too good to be true.  My sincerest and heartfelt sympathy goes out to her and her son.  H/T: /

From the Rose Garden speech by President Obama today:

I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford (sp) in Washington state, and here’s what she wrote.

I am a single mom, no child support, self-employed, and I haven’t had insurance for 15 years because it’s too expensive. My son has ADHD and requires regular doctor visits, and his meds alone cost $250 per month. I’ve had an ongoing tendinitis problem, due to my line of work, that I haven’t had treated. Now finally we get to have coverage because of the ACA for $169 per month. I was crying the other day when I signed up — so much stress lifted.

Now that is not untypical for a lot of folks, like Jessica, who have been struggling without health insurance. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about.

The point is the essence of the law, the health insurance that’s available to people, is working just fine.

Someone PLEASE contact Jessica Sanford ASAP!  She is probably in some very real trouble!

This is a heartbreaking display of using a person, Jessica Sanford, that probably doesn’t even know what she just got herself into.

Jessica is excited to have signed up for insurance for her and her son for $169 per month.  She cried tears of joy.  She thinks her troubles are behind her.

Jessica thinks that she will now never have to worry about her medical expenses anymore.

She can stop worrying about how to pay for the $250 per month for her son’s medications, and will get treatment for her tendinitis problems.

Has ANYONE in the White House bothered to tell poor Jessica that she will now pay $169 per month for insurance, PLUS $250 per month for her son’s medications (a total of $3,000 per year – half the likely deductible of her new insurance plan), PLUS all the costs of her treatment and medications for her tendinitis?

Has it occurred to ANYONE in the White House that their big success story, Jessica, is now totally screwed?

Do they not understand that her premiums are only $169 per month because her deductible is probably more than she spends for medical care, so the insurance is largely useless to her?

She could barely afford her son’s medications before, and now will probably have $169 per month LESS in her bank account, and SHE WILL STILL HAVE TO PAY ALL THE SAME BILLS.

Does anyone care that this poor woman is about to pay $169 per month for insurance, putting her FARTHER in the hole, and leave her with even less money to feed her son and pay for her other bills?

And THIS is the success story? I hope someone tells Jessica that she still has time to cancel and save her money before she ends up broke thanks to her new “Obamacare” insurance.

If she cried after signing up, just wait until this poor woman gets her first bill for $400 from the doctor, or goes to get her son’s meds and the pharmacist says “You haven’t met your deductible. Your total is $250. Will that be cash or charge?”.

The President (or his “people”) are completely clueless. They read Jessica’s letter and thought “THIS IS A WINNER!!! Lets use her!” and never even thought to look into Jessica’s likely results from this.

Or worse yet, they DO know what trouble Jessica is probably in and don’t care.  They just needed a story to tug at heart strings and figure that no one will ever think about what is about to happen to this woman and her son.  She is just a political pawn to them.

What a bunch of short sighted, heartless, incompetent, jack wagons.

Act 10 Goes To Washington

In Politics on October 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM

For those of us in Wisconsin, the debate over Act 10 – limitations on collective bargaining for public sector workers – is a fresh memory.  Recalls, threats, intimidation, boycotts, rallies, marches, sit ins, sing ins, death threats, and all other manner of acting out are still fresh in our minds.

It seems that the Act 10 circus has hit the road and is now playing nation-wide.  The instigation for this sequel is a 17% federal government shutdown.

As with all sequels, the second installment is not a total repeat of the original, but the core characters, story line, and plot devices are reused.  This is the case with “Act 10 – Part II – Shutdown Boogaloo“.

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How Wisconsin Can Revolutionize Health Care (and avoid ObamaCare!)

In Health Care Reform, Politics on September 4, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Wisconsin is in a tough economic spot right now.  We are competing with other states that have lower tax rates and less regulatory red tape for employers.  Now comes the news that insurance in Wisconsin will be more expensive thanks to ObamaCare.

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) recently released the rate impacts related to ObamaCare showing a 50% increase in premiums in 2014.

Is there anything Wisconsin can do about this, or are we just stuck because ObamaCare is federal law and we cannot just ignore it?

Well, there is something that we can do, but it will take a lot of guts to pull it off.  I think if Wisconsin were to try, employers might just flock here, and employees might just see a better standard of living, increased wages, and lower costs for health care.

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The State and Marriage – Time For A Divorce

In Gay Marriage, Politics, Theology on March 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM

The SCOTUS has now become entangled in the argument over gay marriage.

One side argues that the state should sanction the union of two adults without regard to gender, that marriage is a “right”, and that refusal to allow same sex marriage is therefore a violation of civil rights.

The other side argues that the state is within its purview to place restrictions on marriage, that marriage is not a “right” in the constitutional sense, and that the population has every ability to pass laws (through the legislative process and elected officials) that define the institution as they see fit, thus hetero only marriage is not a violation of civil rights.

Everybody seems to be missing the larger point (again).

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Open Letter from the Right to the Left on Gun Control

In Gun Control, Politics on December 19, 2012 at 2:07 PM

The following was originally sent to a friend on the left in response to a conversation over Facebook regarding gun control proposals in response to the despicable crime in CT.  I felt it was worthy to use as a larger message to the left from a conservative on the subject.


I think you and I are talking past each other.  Please DO NOT take the following as a personal attack, because it is most definitely NOT.  It’s an observation.  It is really long, because these discussions cannot be had in 4 or 5 sentences, and I have a lot to express.  I apologize in advance for the length. 

From your previous comments, it seems clear that your motivation is largely emotional.  My motivation is largely phlegmatic. This is not a judgment of the motivation, just recognition of it.

We are both saddened and disgusted at what happened in CT.  We are both aligned in the belief that such events should be prevented whenever possible.

Where we depart is how we approach these types of events, and it may speak to the larger inability of the left and the right to find much common ground anymore on almost any issue.

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Time for a New GOP Strategy – Push All In

In Barack Obama, Economics, Politics, Tea Party, The Great Recession on November 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Here’s an idea for the GOP in DC to think about:  Time to “push all in” and call Obama’s hand.

Instead of fighting Obama and the media (a 2 front war is not usually winnable), why not try something innovative and outside the box?

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Roberts’ Folly

In Health Care Reform, Politics, Tax Policy, Taxes, Tea Party on June 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM

The Roberts ruling stating that Obamacare was constitutional, so long as it was considered to be a tax, raises an interesting thought exercise.

If you follow Roberts’s logic to its conclusion, you run into a whole slew of ridiculous outcomes, all of which are fully legitimate under this ruling.

Roberts held that the individual mandate was unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but that the “penalty” that enforces that unconstitutional individual mandate is not a penalty at all, but a tax.

Since the congress has almost unlimited authority to tax, Roberts held that the individual mandate, and therefore the rest of Obamacare, stands.

In one sentence, as long as you use the tax code, you can unconstitutionally regulate or mandate all you want using that tax as punishment for failure to comply.

Where else might this logic be applied?


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The Milwaukee Journal Loves Whiney New Berlin Teachers

In Politics, WI Budget Battle on June 26, 2012 at 9:58 AM

The Milwaukee Journal posted a story on their online edition all about how horribly oppressed teachers in New Berlin are after the evil Act 10 was passed.  (I have no idea where it is, if anywhere, in the print edition because I will never ever pay a red cent for that quasi-journailstic bird-cage liner.)

The headline reads “New Berlin Could Lose a Third of Teachers“.  After reading the story I have one reaction:  good riddance.

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