Why is Tony “No really…I’m a progressive!” Zielinski opposed to Milwaukee street car?

It’s no secret Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski absolutely hates the idea of a streetcar in Milwaukee. After all, Ald. Zielinski voted with conservative Aldermen Jim Bohl, Joe Dudzik, and Bob Donovan to delay Common Council approval of the streetcar, and Ald. Zielinski recently compared the funding for the streetcar as a “shell game.”

Zielinski compares the proposed funding of the $123.9 million streetcar project to a shell game, one in which he says he won’t be duped. Using property tax revenue to fund the streetcar rather than putting it back into the city treasury where it could be used to repair failing infrastructure, pay for police and fire services, and expand the bus system, he said, is a sleight of hand, and it makes him fume.

Zielinski’s opposition to the streetcar reflects the sentiments of his constituents who are against it, many of whom are struggling to pay their home mortgages and property taxes. “The strong majority of my constituents were opposed to it when I went door-to-door two years ago. And they phone me. They tell me they are struggling to pay their mortgages and property taxes. We have furloughed cops, we have browned-out fire engines, and people are complaining we don’t fill in potholes fast enough. In this environment the streetcar cannot be our first priority,” he said.

Referencing the projected $59 million the proposed three downtown TIDs (Tax Incremental Financing Districts) will generate, he said, “My problem is that but for the streetcar, the $59 million resulting from these increments would go towards needed city services. Supporters cannot pretend that this is found money. This is lost tax revenue!…I do think the TIDs will generate these increments and that is my problem. That money should be used for property tax relief or needed city services.”

I’m not entirely sure how a so-called progressive like Ald. Zielinski could ally himself with conservatives like Jim Bohl, Joe Dudzik, and Bob Donovan in opposition to a streetcar in Milwaukee and still think he’s on the right side of the issue.


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40 thoughts on “Why is Tony “No really…I’m a progressive!” Zielinski opposed to Milwaukee street car?

  1. If this was out to vote and related to property taxes it would go down in flames. Milwaukee has lots of problems and this streetcar does not solve any of them. Stupid idea whose time never came.

    1. WI against prosperity digest,

      Why are you raising the issue of property taxes without mentioning WIGOP’s failure to end the job-killing-gov’t-regs against marijuana?

      Why is Gov. Walker not taking that revenue away from the drug gangs and giving it back in property tax relief?

      Tax cuts work for Gov. Walker’s elite friends. They work for the 99% too.

  2. Modern transportation, pro teams, cultural entities, unique restaurants and bars, parks, trails and waterways, strong colleges and universities are all part of what the growing businesses and their employees demand. Milwaukee will get nowhere squabbling over a shrinking pie – they must make bold moves to expand the pie. The question I’d ask this politician is what is your plan to grow Milwaukee’s economy? It sounds like all he cares is about grabbing money for his district.

    1. Emma that is baloney. All of the businesses have left Milwaukee to got o Waukesha and it has grown with out pro teams, street cars etc. Milwaukee has many problems way ahead of those you mention. It is debate between fixing schools, crime, neighborhoods or doing what Detroit did dollying up downtown. How did that work? The left wing, liberal white racists have detoryed Milwaukee and it will not come back with the Bucks or the street car.

      1. “detoryed” ?

        Do you play scrabble?

        Since you brought up crime, when is Gov. Walker going to criticize Obama for not indicting any Wall Street CEO’s?

        1. Obviously Dohnal is back in all his inglorious command of the English language. I very much like his Waukesha-didn’t-need-a-ball-team-to-get-jobs-from-Milwaukee sentiment. At just such a moment I recall Robin Williams rant that began, “Well, come here Sparky…”

          1. One of the guys on WEAU calls him “Sparky” over there too. He should be used to it.

            1. Typical dumb Leftist reaction says nothing does nothing, things get worse.

            2. The Pope says: “Everyone gets a big heart tattack if the vatican bank goes bad but peopel are dying, hungry, diseaesd, aborted and non one say aa hting”. same here. Milwaukee inner city kids who I have worked with for decades do not hve jobs, are floded with drugs, families busted, cannot read and everyone worries about the billionaire Bucks and theis stupid choochoo. RELLY!!!!

                1. I was pharmacist that worked in inner city for decdes severaltimes per month plus had apts. Inner city kids are not supid, they can fix those sschool but hwite iberal rcists in Milwaukee that are leaders do not want to do it. Keep thme in bondage.

          1. BB provides a spelling feature. If it doesn’t recognize the word, it underlines it in red. You can test it with your “typicl.”

            You’re so lazy, you ignore it. You take no pride in what you write.

            Has Waukesha County learned to live within its means, or is it still seeking welfare from the Great Lakes?

      2. My, my businesses leaving Milwaukee for Waukesha…. how small your vision is as apparently new companies never start up, divisions are never established nearer supply chains, and businesses never relocate among first class cities. Oh, and free trade and the war on drugs wrecked Milwaukee. Unfortunately few politicians on either side have the guts to do what must be done to save a significant chunk of Wisconsin’s population from the hopelesses of low wages and the prison of class immobility.

  3. Interestingly enough many other cities continue to grow their economies via the use of streetcars. The most recent one I read about this past week was Atlanta. This isn’t a shell game or a diversion of needed funds…it has proven it’s worth a dozen times across the nation. No one in Milwaukee is being duped.

    And for those of ‘you’ in Waukesha…don’t come to Milwaukee…and if you do, please stay off the streetcar. We’ll need the seats for Milwaukeeans.

    1. Ed, you’re on point – other cities that have diversified their public transit options (more bike lanes, trolleys/light rail, etc.) have all experience economic growth along the routes of those public transit options, and I’d venture a guess Milwaukee will be no different.

      1. I speak in txt these days, grow up. we have buses that go out to all of those places, why put in a “iight rail”? Milwaukee has problems and it will never get out of ten most violent, ten most naughty, worst poverty, crime, MPS worst in country, abandoned houses, corruption, ten wrst managed, heroin epidemic, 57% youth unemployment by spending 200 million or more on choochoos. It is an answer to problem that does nt exist. They are doing teh same thing that Detoirt did with RenCen. If your neighborhoods are mess, crime high and schools horrible no one will locate there they will go to Waukesha.

        1. You are going to use speaking in txt as an excuse for your continued poor grammar, poor spelling and poor thought processes? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to claim to be speaking in tongues?

  4. Unfortunately Alderman Zielinksi is my alderman and I am sorely disappointed that he is opposed to the streetcar. I understand that the downtown loop needs to exist before the outlying segments make much sense but once the plan for the leg from the airport to downtown via Bay View is planned…I bet he gets more interested.

  5. The TIFs wouldn’t have been necessary if 1.) the Couture skyscraper project didn’t need a streetcar / bus stop in order to get federal approval to take over a property dedicated to transit use, and 2.) if state GOP lawmakers hadn’t passed a punitive anti-Milwaukee law and got the PSC to require that city taxpayers eat the cost of moving any underground private utilities in the “public: rights of way that would be required to site the project — a requirement not foisted on any other locality in the state. That’s right: If a private copany is using public right of way for free with Milwaukee’s permission and then Milwaukee says, hey, you gotta move, the city has to reimburse the company? Ridiculous.

    Absent these two issues, one caused by Republican meddling and the other by federal rules relating to the development of the Couture high-rise development, the project would have been exclusively funded by the federal government. So you see, as usual, the Republicans meddled around until they messed up the project’s financing, then complained when the city did something creative to get around the GOP’s abuse. Take this and other examples — e.g., Sen. Darling’s further interference in local social services and public education — and it’s clear that Republicans are more and more serving in the role of the chaotic god Loki from the Norse myth.

    1. Cannot you dopy people get your htoughts down without all of the crap? Those of us that are not in Milwaukee and will never use this turkey do not have to pay for any costs. If Milwaukee got serious and start to address teh real issues there would be help. They talk climate change and we want jobs, good schools, no heroin, fix houses up, end corrutpion.

      1. Milwaukee sends more tax dollars to the rest of the nation, state and federal, than it takes in. The feds granted the city this money. Thus we in Milwaukee already have to pay more than our share for programs (highways, social services, jails, etc.) that serve YOUR communities.

        Besides, if you live outside the city and think that denying Milwaukee federal transit funding somehow will save you anything, you’re delusional. Just as in the case of high-speed rail — which every other state around us will soon have and we won’t — the feds would, as they have before, simply redirect those funds to another worthy locality in another state that is more forward-thinking. And you’d still pay for it. Indeed, you already ARE paying for mass transit systems in southern and western RED states, through your federal taxes. Do yourselve a favor and the state’s economic development climate a favor and let Milwaukee’s leaders and citizens figure out what will preserve the city as a vital, attractive economic engine, the state’s biggest.

        As for heroin, insufficient family-supoorting jobs, housing problems and corruption — those are hardly problems unique to Wisconsin’s larget city. It happens in little towns, including my hometown. And maybe Milwaukee Public Schools could gain more traction if the state GOP wasn’t so insistent on sucking hundreds of milions of city property tax dollars out of the Milwaukee schools to fund poorly managed and evaluated private voucher schools that have demonstrated no real benefits. Yet the city’s taxpayers are forced to pay for two school systems, one private. Stop the blame game and start working together instead of buying the GOP “let’s you and him fight” BS.

        1. No these problems are not unique to Milwaukee they are in ever city run by white liberal racists. Choochoos are an answer to soemthing that is not a question or problem. Barrett shoudl ahve talked obama into giving him h money for buses. Halfast rail is a disaster all around the world escalating daily in Ca. it iwould be a bust if put into Milwaukee, we have buses that go faster and go where we want plus they pay taxes. Liberals “back to the past”

            1. Bus from Milwaukee to madison numerous tiems daily is fastr than halfast rail, goes right to Capitol and pays taxes cause private.

              1. “Bus from Milwaukee to madison numerous tiems daily is fastr than halfast rail,”


              2. Dohnal, while I’m waiting for your link, do you think you’re entitled to a 1/2 price discount from a mind reader?

          1. C’mon, get real. Just to take one issue among many: Heroin is now such a huge problem in small towns statewide that the GOP legislature is finally getting off its butt and considering an actual plan of action. When heroin abuse was limited to poor minority populations in the state’s largest cities, the GOP solution was to arrest and throw users in prison for years, in the process spending billions on private and public prisons, making Wisconsin one of the top states in percentage of its overall population behind bars. How’d that work out? It hasn’t. Huge budgets for prisons (more than for our public university system, in fact), while heroin use actually has spread farther. Now that the problem is rampant within many small towns and (I must say this) among white folks and not just poor minorities, the GOP solution apparently is going to involve better treatment options instead of more jail time. And who do you suppose runs all those small towns? “White liberal racists”? Your reasoning is ridiculous.

            Nor is there any basis in fact for arguing that light rail, street cars or other mass transit services besides rubber-tired buses are “the past” rather than the future. Milwaukee is the only major city in the country that is now identifiably being kept in the past. Do you actually believe that modern mass transit systems — even if they outwardly in some ways resemble the systems put into place a century ago– aren’t any better and aren’t in demand? Heck, a growing number of small Wisconsin towns (like the one I grew up in) now have their own mass transit systems, subsidized in significant measure by MIILWAUKEE taxpayers. Meaning that your position reflects a classic “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” attitude on the political right. The GOP in recent years has bent over backwards to hold back Milwaukee at every turn while other large US cities — even those in Republican-dominated states — have moved into the 21st Century. Not a recipe for fixing that economic debacle we’ve so far endured under Walker Republicanism. And if you’re worried about the passability of city streets you ought to direct your complaint at the real source of the problem: Walker, whose budgets have whacked state aid for local and county street maintenance in favor of freeways. This is true not only in Milwaukee but also in our smallest communities, where because of funding cuts and tax caps, potholes and crumbling infrastructure are likewise growing by the day.

            And then suburbanite Republicans have the gall to insist that the state’s taxpayers spend billions unnecessarily expanding I-94 in Milwaukee by a couple of lanes so they can get home from work downtown maybe five minutes faster, impinging further on an important veterans cemetery and an historic neighborhood in the process. This kind of selfishness and obstructionism may be satisfying to right wingers in Wisconsin’s suburbs and exurb. But to the extent it hurts economic development and home rule in Milwaukee, it also hurts the entire state. Wisconsin without Milwaukee would be Iowa, and power-tripping around with the state’s largest city only damages our economy overall. So watch out, because if the GOP persists in these kind of policies, karma’s gonna getcha.

        2. To make Milwaukee a world class city again cause the Leftists n charge are destroying it is to fix the problems at MPS, reduce crime, heroin, youth unemplyment and corruption.

      2. Heroin isn’t an inner city only issue anymore…there’s plenty in Waukesha county…hence the current growing interest in Madison.

  6. Nobody has mentioned the significant streetcar expansion being planned for Kenosha. The proposed north/south loop will complement the initial east/west loop. While controversial, Kenosha has seen a robust renewal of the core downtown area of the city– all along the streetcar route.

    1. yes, and the pst mayors and huge citizen commitee are opposing it and going to referendum No one rides the dumb thing. Wast of money. Stupid idea.

    1. Just happens that I have had bunch of apts fro 40 years down there and it is a loss with big gorup fighting expanison. Take money away from other good projects.

  7. My $0.02 on Dohnal:

    1. Frequency of comments suggests he’s getting paid.

    2. It’s place-holder spam. Funders appear to positioning his handle for a time when the quality won’t be so bad. Appear to think that’s a known handle’s a better vehicle for their message than someone who just shows up.


      1. Yes I am crazy, I just love to pimp the Left. The village idiot can take apart their ideas, which do not work ala Doyle and Barrett.

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