Are New Bucks Owners Actually Putting Up Their Own Money

Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about financing arrangements that are available through the National Basketball Association. And although the Bucks were quoted in the article saying they might use the credit facility to expand business opportunities around the new arena…some of the writing seemed to indicate that the $150 million that they’ve already pledged might be coming from the NBA pot:

A Bucks spokesman confirmed that if the team chooses to tap into the NBA credit facility, it would do so for business related reasons both on and off the court. While a full financing plan for the arena has yet to be determined, the NBA credit facility could play a role in terms of the $150 million the Bucks ownership group, which includes primary owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, has pledged toward a new arena.

I don’t know…just seems a little edgy…if they have the $150 million to invest why couldn’t the NBA credit line then be used to complete the deal?

On a side note: it seems a little hypocritical of the governor and the pols in Madison to expect the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to invest in the arena with $$$ other than the usual infrastructure when the surrounding counties (their bailiwicks) have already voted against regional participation.

Herb Kohl donates 1,000 acres of Wyoming wilderness to preservation group

Though he’s now retired from the U.S. Senate, former Democratic Senator Herb Kohl is making headlines for something really, really awesome.

One thousand acres of Wyoming wilderness owned by retired U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin is now in the public trust.

The acreage, along the Gros Ventre River, has been considered a top priority by conservationists to be protected to preserve the area’s ecosystem.

Kohl still owns land in the Gros Ventre River Valley, an area near Jackson, Wyoming, famous for skiing and scenic beauty and the gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Kohl is a founding member of the Jackson Hole Land Trust.

“Back in the early 1970s, I fell in love with the natural beauty of the area,” Kohl said in a news release on Monday. “Its preservation and protection have been part of my blueprint as owner.”

What About A New Home For The Bucks?

As any number of ‘civic groups’ line up to lobby for a new basketball arena in Milwaukee, the counties that comprise the suburban ring are voting against a regional tax to build it. Ignoring the fact that the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are the economic drivers that make Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine, etc viable, they are once again voting against their own self interest. Already the boards of Racine, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties have recorded their opposition to a Miller Park type tax to build a new arena.

On the one hand, I think they are being very shortsighted and ignoring the realities of the larger regional economy and how we all benefit. And in most other things like cultural organizations and recreation and transportation, I would really be holding their feet to fire. But guess what, in this instance I am on their side…and quite frankly I would like to see my Milwaukee County Board take a similar stance.

Because maybe just once, all of those ‘job creators’ who are getting the big tax breaks who are pushing for a new arena should step up and create the jobs and build the dang thing themselves. Leave the tax payers out of it…they want a playground? They can build it…we know they can afford it!

On the other hand, did you see the article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the state of our current NBA arena, the BMO Harris Bradley Center?

It seems that the 25 year old building is a ‘senior citizen’. You know what a senior citizen is? The 400 year old building I stayed in while visiting Florence Italy a few years ago, or the 250 year old building I stayed in while in Paris last New Years…25 year old building…sheesh.

Anyway, there are talks of leaking water units, rusting metal doors, obsolete air conditioning units and leaks in the glass atrium…this isn’t necessary evidence of a worn out or obsolete building…what this is is proof of poor management and awful stewardship of a valuable public asset. Once again we the public are told we need a new facility because the powers that be didn’t maintain the current one. So we should hand over a new $400 – 500 million dollar facility? Not on your life…and maybe a few heads should roll or even go to jail!

What’s the Deal with Progressives and Sexism?

Two of my favorite liberal women talked with me about my earlier post: What’s the Deal with Progressives and Agism?

I was so tuned into the issue of agism in progressive politics, partly because I am of the generation of Americans being dissed, that I may have overlooked another issue entirely.

But it was pointed out that sexism is also involved and after having these discussions, I agree.

The one person being prominently called out as too old to run for president in 2016 is Hillary Clinton, a woman. As a 69 year old woman she would be too old to run for president? I don’t think so, but…!

Considering how little was made of (although it was briefly brought up) President Reagan’s age and Senator McCain’s age when they each ran for president, I can’t deny that there is a point. And if we had a retired US Congresswoman of the same age and stature as David Obey, would she have been urged to run for governor in the recall or mentioned as a candidate to replace Senator Kohl? Probably not.

(btw: it is my contention that the Secretary of State is the second hardest and second most stressful position in the US Govt…and Hillary Clinton has more than shown her mettle)

Hey Vets, What Does Senator Johnson Have Against You?

In the Sunday September 16th edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in their Sunday feature, CONGRESS Following the Vote, we find this little tidbit:

VETERANS (sic) JOBS CORPS Senators on Wednesday voted 84 – 8, to debate a bill launching a Veterans Job Corps at a deficit neutral cost of $1 billion over five years. A yes vote was to advance the bill promoting hiring priority for veterans and first responders and creating a variety of jobs on public lands (S 3457)

So, this vote was to allow the Senate to DEBATE the bill…not pass it, approve it or any way enact it into law. Just to let the Senators discuss it in the Senate. One of our Senators voted Yes, to allow the debate. That would be Senator Herb Kohl.

But Senator Ron Johnson voted against it. Voted against democracy…voted against allowing a bill to even be discussed in the Senate…voted against actually doing the job we sent him to Washington to perform. And exactly what does he have against our veterans?

Milwaukee Bucks seeking a taxpayer handout for a new arena?

I’m not sure how I feel about this…

There hasn’t yet been a study released of how much a new arena would cost. But, based on other arenas built in recent years for pro basketball and hockey teams, the rough range could be between $350 million and $500 million, said Marc Marotta, Bradley Center board chairman.

Along with money from Kohl and other private sources, a new arena would need public funding, Marotta said. Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, a year ago suggested extending the Miller Park sales tax to cover those costs, which drew opposition from Abele and Gov. Scott Walker.

The 0.1% tax, which applies to sales in Milwaukee County and the four counties that border it, began in 1996 and is set to expire between 2016 and 2020 once the Miller Park debt is retired. Extending the tax to cover a new arena would require a change in state law.

While I support keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee, I don’t know that I could support the allocation of what’s likely to be hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up the team’s efforts to build a new arena so the team can maximize its profits. What’s more, there are some who believe the economic impact new stadiums/arenas can have on their communities is overstated.

While a new arena may very well help the Milwaukee Bucks maximize their revenue streams, it seems pretty clear to me that a shiny new arena with the same old losing team won’t draw many fans. Fans pay to go see a winning team play, and if the Bucks can’t improve their on-court product, a half-empty new arena won’t do much good.

Barrett & Falk battle over endorsements

As the Democratic gubernatorial recall primary continues to intensify, the campaigns of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk have each announced a series of endorsements of their respective campaigns.

Earlier this week Falk’s campaign picked up the endorsement of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, an endorsement that should come as no surprise considering her campaign has already been endorsed by AFSCME and WEAC. Here’s what Phil Neuenfeldt, president of Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said about the AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Falk:

Kathleen’s dedication to improving the lives of working people and strengthening our middle class communities are key reasons for her endorsement. She has dedicated her life working for and listening to the people of Wisconsin. Her style of clean, open and honest government is the type of leadership Wisconsin needs.

Mayor Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign also picked up a number of key endorsements this week, landing the support of outgoing Democratic U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, who said of Barrett’s candidacy,

I’m supporting Tom Barrett for governor. While I wouldn’t ordinarily endorse in a primary, this is no ordinary race or time. Tom’s decision to run speaks volumes about who Tom is — a strong leader known around the state as someone who will work with everyone to help bring Wisconsinites together and move our state forward again. Tom and I have worked together for years, and his commitment to the people he represents is as strong as his many accomplishments. Whether it’s working with businesses to create jobs, protecting education or standing up for working families, Tom will be an effective and forward-thinking governor for all of our state.

Sen. Kohl’s endorsement came on the heels of former Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Obey’s endorsement of Barrett’s campaign on Monday, while on Tuesday Barrett’s campaign was endorsed by former Democratic Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.

On Thursday Barrett’s campaign also picked up the endorsements of the statewide Amalgamated Transit Union, Operating Engineers Local 317, and the Iron Workers District Council of North Central States.

While Barrett’s campaign may have picked up more endorsements than Falk’s this week, Falk’s campaign has already been endorsed by the Sierra Club, EMILY’s List, and the SEIU Wisconsin State Council, among a long list of endorsements.

Compare/Contrast: Wisconsin Senate Race

With Unites States Senator Herb Kohl deciding not to run for re-election, that left an opening for new players in both parties to step up and try and capture this seat.

In the democratic party, Tammy Baldwin stepped up early, announcing her intentions to run. People across the state know the integrity of Tammy Baldwin and realize what a great job she has done representing the second congressional district(my district) and no one else stepped up to challenge her. Making Tammy Baldwin the de facto democratic candidate for US Senate.

Compare/contrast that to the republican party.

First. perpetual jobber Mark Neumann entered the race. This got all of the right wing bloggers panties in a bundle and they took the drastic step of writing an “open letter”. The right wing of Wisconsin still will not forgive Neumann for having the gall to run against Scott Walker in a primary for Governor. The party appointed Scott Walker as their candidate and it was unacceptable for democracy to be allowed in the Wisconsin republican party. With the backlash from Wiggy and the rest of the crew that left an opening.

Then Ted Kanavas got in the race! YAWN……

Following that Tommy Thompson, in need of affection, and seeing an opening, entered the race. The problem is Tommy is off his meds.

Assembly majority leader Jeff Fitzgerald decided to throw his hat in the ring. The problem with a Fitzgerald candidacy, is that no one likes him. Even Robin Vos and Mike Ellise like to get drunk and talk about the incompetence of the Fitzgerald Brothers.

Now the latest candidate/non-candidate is going to enter the race. Millionaire hedge fund manager and Washington DC resident Eric Hovde has decided that maybe since he is a rich he should be the best person to represent the people of WIsconsin. Of course Hovde not living here, is a minor detail. The problem that Hovde has to overcome, is that we tried that last time and the state has incredible "buyer's remorse".

The question then becomes, once the republican party recycles through these retreads and jobbers, who is next? Chris Christie does not live here, Paul ryan is immensely unpopular, Tom Petri too sane, F-jim to busy critiquing women's bodies to run, that leaves pretty much no one else. The republican party is suffering greatly from a lack of talent and hard right turn(that the people of Wisconsin has rejected) as their only way to govern.

I personally like the sound of Senator Tamnmy Baldwin and if the republican party keeps throwing this lack of quality at her, they better get used to saying it.

Former college Republican makes his case for Tammy Baldwin at Milwaukee office opening

Tammy Baldwin’s Milwaukee Senate Campaign Office officially opened its doors Monday evening, and I’m glad I went, and not just because of the photo ops and the Brownie Bites. Hanging out with Democratic greats like Congresswoman Baldwin and Senator Herb Kohl (among many others) was nirvana for a political nerd like myself. But the best part of my evening was listening to Ethan Erickson, a college Republican-turned-Democrat, make his case for Tammy Baldwin for Senate.

I struck up a conversation with Ethan following Representative Baldwin’s press conference, as we were packed into the hallway. I asked him what compelled him to attend the event, and he laid out his rationale, along with the political history that shaped it. As a Roman Catholic who grew up in a Republican household mere minutes from Governor Scott Walker’s home in Wauwatosa, Ethan probably wouldn’t have been caught dead at a Democratic event prior to his political conversion. In fact, not that long ago he was so conservative that he was the “token” Republican in his Government class at Cornell University in high school.

But Ethan’s worldviews started to change, in part, after he began to study Industrial Labor Relations in college. The more he learned, the more he realized that he could “no longer defend” Republican principles and policies, as he said they contributed to inequality and poverty in this country.

Ethan did not take his decision to switch parties lightly. Being Roman Catholic “carries with it interesting political connotations” and while he “doesn’t have a problem” with gay marriage, the issue of abortion is “complicated” for him, which is why he espoused Republican values until he found himself supporting Barack Obama at a mock political convention a few years back.

That’s around the time Ethan realized that “there is a whole other side of Catholicism” that includes “the importance of standing up for the poor” and “worker’s rights.” Said Ethan, “It’s a terrible indictment of this country how we’re treating the least amongst us.”

Ethan is concerned that, unlike in the 1930’s, when “the reaction to having global and financial crisis was that we actually made reforms that…solved the crisis,” nowadays “it seems that whatever attempts have been made to solve the crisis have been under attack, making it worse and worse.” Ethan said he supports Tammy Baldwin for Senate because, instead of “blaming everyone else,” she “represents the best chance of standing up for the New Deal Roosevelt values,” and that “if we connected with that FDR sensibility” it would “go a long way” toward helping Wisconsin workers hurt by the recession. “If she were in the Senate, she’d be…standing up for the…kind of values that Ted Kennedy and Wellstone really championed.”

Ethan also appreciates Tammy Baldwin’s views on the importance of unions. He told me that unions provide an “immediate way of bringing people out of poverty” by “making sure they have a living wage, health care, pension, and dignity at work.”

Ethan, himself, plans to look for a job as a union organizer upon graduation, and says he’ll run for public office at some point, so that he, too, can help shape public policy. So much of public policy, he said, affects opportunities, and government policy can provide opportunities to those who have not been “blessed” with them, as he was. When asked to respond to the Republican assertion that people should be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, he replied, “You can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps if you don’t have any boots in the first place.”

Amen, Ethan.

Photo op- Senator Kohl

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

With the announcement today by Ted Kanavas that he will not be running for the US senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl, it brings to mind a question and an observation.

Question: Who?

Observation: With such a weak Republican field (fitzgerald the lesser, professional jobber Mark Neumann and maybe long time retired Bret Farve Tommy Thompson), it shows that Representative Tammy Baldwin is polling higher than most people think. The republicans will say many things, and come up with many excuses, but privately they know this is not a good time to be a republican in the state of WI. The republicans in this state have heavy ambitions and if there was a good chance they could win they would be climbing over themselves to jump in this race. No one is. Actions speak louder than words!