Sunday, June 30, 2013

Entrepreneurial University Hype

Big League Broke

Over the past few years, here in Milwaukee, we've heard evermore rumblings regarding a new, or remodeled, basketball arena. The usual cast of characters has steadily increased their rhetoric. For them, the bottom line is that these arenas, stadia, etc. are economic engines. If your city wants to be "big league," every 20 to 25 years or so, the public must subsidize the remodeling an existing arena or the building of a completely new arena.

Yet, Don Walker recently reported, Head of Wisconsin Center District Says It Has No Money For Arena. From the Wisconsin Center's website, "The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) is a government body created in 1994 to fund, build and operate the Delta Center in downtown Milwaukee, and continue operating the existing venues now called the U.S. Cellular Arena and Milwaukee Theatre."

I thought the boosters were claiming these convention centers and arenas were economic catalysts? How can these facilities be considered catalysts or game-changers if there isn't any money to show for them?

We're an important part of the economic fabric, business is booming ... nonetheless, we're broke.

Typical businesses have an accounting item called replacement reserves. It's just what it sounds like - a reserve of money to replace and fix things. It's an annual expense item, a reserve of money, just in case there are issues that need to be addressed to allow a continued income stream to the facility, building, etc.

Stadiums, and their ilk, seem to operate under the facade of being economic igniters, yet they have no money for repairs, nor do they have any (or hardly any) money for renovations. Wisconsin continually has pumped money into the Bradley Center, Miller Park and the rest of our white elephants. If you can't fund your own operations, you're not a game-changer, you're a charity case.

The cost to the public for these arenas does not support the return we receive on our investment. The public needs to get out of the business of being responsible for building the playing fields for professional sport teams.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Glass Boxes As "Iconic" Architecture

Maybe some of the professors from the School of Architecture need to provide UWM Chancellor Mike Lowell some information regarding the buildings that make up the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

In a recent article, UW-Milwaukee Launches Research Center Construction, Chancellor Lowell (regarding the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Center, which will house the physics department) commented:
It's going to be a gateway to campus from the south on Maryland Avenue," Lovell said of the glassy five-story building. "We really don't have any iconic buildings on campus to showcase. This will be iconic.
Here's a refresher on some of the already iconic buildings on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

From an OnMilwaukee article:
Downer College, Hartford and Downer Avenues...Merrill Hall's battlemented tower and the ornate decoration above the entrance to Johnston Hall. Designed by Alexander Eschweiler and executed in red sandstone, terra cotta and brick.
Waymarking details:
MILWAUKEE-DOWNER COLLEGE, 2512 E. Hartford Ave., is a private school for women. Its eleven red-brick buildings in Tudor Gothic design stand on a wooded campus of 50 acres. In 1895 the school was founded through coalition of Milwaukee College, chartered under the auspices of the Congregational Church in 1851, and Downer College, chartered in 1855 at Fox Lake, Wisconsin. Milwaukee College, which had been started in 1848 as the Milwaukee Female Seminary, was reorganized in 1851 through the efforts of Catherine Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and of Henry Ward Beecher, abolitionist author and preacher. Although primarily a liberal arts college, Milwaukee-Downer has pioneered in art, home economics, and occupational therapy. ---Wisconsin, A Guide to the Badger State, 1941 
Today the college is part of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. The Milwaukee-Downer moved to Appleton and joined with Lawrence College when UW purchased this property.
The Milwaukee-Downer "Quad" NRHP on the campus of UW-Milwaukee, at the corner of Hartford and Downer. This view is looking north at Merrill Hall (architect Howland Russel), with Johnston Hall (architect Alexander C. Eschweiler) to the right. Holton Hall is out of view to the left. [source]
Chapman Hall 2310 East Hartford Ave

Excellent example of Collegiate Gothic architecture. A large tower rises above the mutil-gabled building, which is faced with russet brick and brown sandstone trim. [source]

Sabin Hall 3413 North Downer Ave

Collegiate Gothic structure constructed of red-brown brick and sandstone.

Vogel Hall 3253 North Downer Ave

Red-brown brick college building designed in the English Tudor mode. Architect: Eschweiler & Eschweiler. [source]

Zelazo Center 2419 East Kenwood Blvd

Neo-classical synagogue with a cut Indiana limestone exterior. [source]

Mitchell Hall 3203 North Downer Ave

Educational building contructed in the Neoclassical Style, which was popular in public and institutional architecture of the early 20th century. The facade is red brick with contrasting trim and colonnade. [source]

Merrill Hall 2512 East Hartford Ave

Hefter Conference Center 3271 North Lake Dr

Mansion designed in a restrained Elizabethan mode; constructed of brown brick with stone trim. Architect: Fitzhugh Scott. [source]

Alumni House 3230 East Kenwood Blvd.

Constructed of Plymouth Stone Ashlar and a slate shingle roof. Outstanding Tudor mansion whose design adheres closely to historic precedent. The house is especially notable for the quality of materials and worksmanship, evident in the Plymouth stone walls, slate roof, carved stone trim, ornamental leaded glass, interior woodwork, and hand wrought hardware. Architect: McDonald Mayer and Fitzhugh Scott. [source]

For Further Reading:
Alexander C. Eschweiler, designer of HWTN homes and iconic Milwaukee buildings
UWM Building Directory 
UWM Projects & Planning

Ranked 19th - Milwaukee County Parks

ParkScore, from the Trust for Public Land, recently ranked the Milwaukee County Park system 19th. 

Minneapolis (1st) was the best, followed by New York City (2nd). Fresno (50th), Louisville (49th), Indianapolis (47th) and Charlotte (47th) were the worst.  Fresno's low score was 27.5. Minneapolis scored 81. Milwaukee scored 57.5. 
City Stats
City area: 154,497 acres
Median park size: 8.07 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.4 %
Spending per resident: $70.67
Playgrounds per 10,000: 1.2
Population density: 3.8 per acre 
Park Facts
Park acreage: 16,085 acres
People served per park acre: 32
Oldest park: Cathedral Square Park, est. 1835
Largest park: Whitnall Park, 625acres
Most-visited park: Veterans Park

Starting-Up More Trouble

The cronyism and nefarious activities at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation weren't enough. Scott Walker and his Republican henchmen have found another avenue of misappropriation.
The Legislature overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to provide $25 million in taxpayer money to start-up companies..."This is one more way that we move our economy forward," Walker said.  ~ Senate, Assembly OK $25 Million For Start-Up Firms
Venture capital provides just two percent of the capital for new businesses.

More than half of new businesses are gone within five years.

For Further Reading:
Something Ventured, (Virtually) Nothing Gained
A Steaming Pile Of Boldness
Venturing Aimlessly
Venturing Wisconsin's Money

Wisconsin Continues Going The Wrong Way

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for May 2013. In the past month, the indexes increased in 33 states, decreased in eight states, and remained stable in nine, for a one-month diffusion index of 50. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 43 states, decreased in five, and remained stable in two, for a three-month diffusion index of 76. For comparison purposes, the Philadelphia Fed has also developed a similar coincident index for the entire United States. The Philadelphia Fed’s U.S. index rose 0.2 percent in May and 0.7 percent over the past three months.

Transportation Infrastructure & Savings

Wall St Boom, Main St Bust

Long-Term Budget Picture

Our New Look At The Long-Term Budget Picture

Since we issued our previous long-termprojections in early 2010, the projected debt-to-GDP ratio in 2040 has shrunk by half — from 218 percent of GDP to 99 percent. The long-term “realistic baseline” of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog,paints a similar picture, with a projected debt-to-GDP ratio of 108 percent in 2040. (CRFB issued its projection before the Medicare and Social Security trustees released their 2013 reports, which slightly improve the outlook.) The Center for American Progress’s recent long-term forecast is also similar.

Voting Rights Act

Voting Rights Act Struck Down By Supreme Court
The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.
Where Voting Rights Act Ruling Matters, In One Map

Weekend Reading

Budget Bunko
Don't Blame The Work Force
Hey Paul Ryan - We All Depend On Government
Milwaukee, Madison Among Nation's Brainiest
Paul Ryan Hilariously Pretends To Care About Poor People
State Skills Gap Myth Gets Shot Down Again
Union Membership Rate For U.S. Tumbles To New Low
Why Walker Opposes Obamacare

Monday, June 17, 2013

America's 50 Best Cities


Rank: 26
Population: 593,545

Milwaukee’s got good air quality and better brews. In the 1970s, America met the fictitious "Shotz Brewery" of Laverne & Shirley. In real life, the Miller Brewing Co. maintains its regional headquarters in the hometown of the “Brew Crew,” the nickname for local major league baseball team the Milwaukee Brewers. With fewer than 600,000 residents, the city still boasts 390 bars, which is a lot per capita. And did we mention the sausages?

Bars: 390
Restaurants: 947
Museums: 20
Libraries: 30
Pro sports teams: 2
Park acres per 1,000 residents: 16 (countywide)
Colleges: 12
Percent with graduate degree: 5.4
Median household income: $44,113
Percent unemployed: 9.4

Sunday, June 16, 2013

We're Broke!*

"10 highest-paid chief executive officers running Wisconsin public companies scored an average pay increase of 31% last year, bringing their average compensation up to $10.5 million." [source]

* [source]

Asset Performance

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wisconsin Republicans Have A Problem With Reality

Wisconsin is "not walking away from a dime" in federal funds by rejecting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. [source]
"With fourteen states opting out, we estimate that 3.6 million fewer people would be insured, federal transfer payments to those states could fall by $8.4 billion, and state spending on uncompensated care could increase by $1 billion in 2016." [source]

"In rejecting the federal money, Joint Finance followed through with Gov. Scott Walker's decision in February to forgo some $4 billion in federal funds through 2020 by expanding Medicaid coverage in the state." [source]
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is pushing a report from his administration’s Department of Workforce Development that puts the state’s net private-sector job gains at 32,000 for 2012. [source]
"As neighboring states add jobs, Wisconsin leads nation in losses over past 12 months." [source]

"As has been widely reported, job creation in Wisconsin in 2011 was the worst in the nation -- literally, 50th out of 50 states." [source]

"Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Falls To 49th In Economic Outlook." [source]

Wisconsin's (Lack Of) Job Creation

As Union Membership Declines, Inequality Rises

Weekend Reading

The Deficit Is Shrinking

Don't Blame Apple For Keeping Its Money
Austerity Does Not Help Unemployment, Stimulus Does
Subsidies - Good News And Not So Good
Wisconsin Lags Neighboring States In 12-Month Job Growth
Why We Need The Corporate Income Tax
Ben Bernanke, Force Of Nature
Hannity's Flip-Flopping On NSA Surveillance
Ron Johnson: 'Restoring Faith In Government' Is Wrong Solution
America's Worst Charities
College Costs Are Skyrocketing

U.S. Budget Cuts Too Fast, Slowing Recovery

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tea Party Inspiration & Republican Pioneer Of Batshit: Ronald Reagan

Wisconsin Republicans Push Through Ultrasound Bill After Silencing Democrats

Wisconsin Republicans' latest plan to boost job creation...requiring women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion.
"Republican state senators in Wisconsin on Wednesday silenced Democratic lawmakers while passing a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before being able to receive an abortion." [source]
Feel the job creation!