July 14, 2022
Job creation has been a popular platform for politicians for as long as I can remember. What seems to be lacking is any sort of “after action report” on the effectiveness of public and private “investment” strategies. As I write this a few of our remaining newspapers are trying to determine what happened to the stimulus money of 2009. (http://www.thestarpress.com/story/money/2015/04/11/brevini-wind-failure-millions-vat-streetlights/25571319). If only we followed these projects as closely as we do the salary cap of our favorite NFL franchise! Without transparency during the process, and proper accounting afterwards, we are unlikely to get the needed employment opportunities and so are doomed to repeat the failures of the past. From what I can tell, the only people assured of paying work are the public relations staff, builders, realtors, and financiers who push them. My beloved home town is presently debating a plan for a new sports arena. This debate started when I was an infant when Milwaukee County Stadium was built with public money to lure the Braves from Boston. It resumed in 1964 when the Braves decided Atlanta’s new government-financed stadium offered better returns. As a high school student I entered a model in the sports arena contest that resulted in MECCA being built; as difficult as it is to believe, they managed to build something even uglier than I built! Milwaukee’s Bradley Center was a “gift” to the public; part of a tax negotiation on the Rockwell International purchase of Allen Bradley. After less time than it took to debate its construction it needs to come down and be replaced with an even larger, more palatial temple to sports. Even small-government advocates seem resigned to spending HALF A BILLION DOLLARS on it with the promise that another $500 million in private investment will follow. I love sports too, but wonder if that is the best use of precious resources. Shouldn’t we check on how our previous investments in sports infrastructure work out before going “all in” once again? Miller Park is a great place to watch a ball game, but was it a good investment? The original plan called for spending $142 million; the final bill to FIX THE ROOF was more than that. Not to mention the tragic loss of workers’ lives trying to get back on schedule. financed stadium offered better returns. As a high school student I entered a model in the sports arena contest that resulted in MECCA being built; as difficult as it is to believe, they managed to build something even uglier than I built!