When a franchise depends on a game

Readers will recall my prediction last week that there was no way the Legislature would approve a financing plan for a new Bucks arena.

My source for that prediction, Right Wisconsin, may have changed its mind, or something:

A new poll … suggests that majorities of Wisconsinites could be persuaded to support public financing for a new Bucks arena if – and it is a big if – they are given the issue “in context” and hear the strongest arguments of proponents.

The poll, conducted by the Tarrance Group and commissioned by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, is clearly intended as a counter-weight to a recent Marquette University Law Poll that found overwhelming opposition to the arena deal. …

In a memo accompanying the numbers, Tarrance noted that “These numbers stand in contrast to the recent Marquette Poll,” and explained the two major differences between the polls:  “First, the ‘context effect’ of having asked about other budget proposals immediately prior to this question, setting up a contest with other budget items in respondents minds. These other budget proposals included cutting money from public schools, the UW system, and borrowing money for roads.

“Second, the question in the Marquette Poll about the proposal only focused on one specific aspect, borrowing money, and not providing voters that complete picture of the proposal.”

Critics are likely to note that the wording of the poll is clearly designed to elicit positive responses, but its significance may lie in the fact that it demonstrates that there are, in fact, arguments that can be made that can win majority public support. Politically, this might make GOP legislators more comfortable with a “yes” vote than they would have been after the MU poll.

In other words: the arena deal remains a very heavy lift politically, but it may not be as toxic as the earlier poll had made. The poll also suggest how supporters will go about selling the public on the deal – emphasizing the public/private partnership, the economic benefits of the ancillary development, and the payoff from the state’s “investment.”

In that sense, the poll is a road map for selling the Bucks’ deal in the coming weeks.

One interesting tidbit: the poll tests the question of borrowing $150 million – rather than a larger number sometimes floated in Madison. It does not test options for closing any remaining fund gap.

So how did we get to this point? Like this:

“The National Basketball Association, or NBA, says that if a new arena is not built in Milwaukee, they will force the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team to leave by 2017. If the team leaves, the state of Wisconsin will lose more than $730 million dollars in revenue over 30 years, and will be forced to pay over $100 million to keep the Bradley Center open, hurting Wisconsin’s ability to fund other priorities like education and economic development.”

Knowing this, fully 64% of Wisconsin voters think it would be better for Wisconsin if the Milwaukee Bucks stay in Milwaukee, while only 18% say it would be better if the team leaves to go to another state.

Support for keeping the Bucks crosses party lines, with 69% of Republicans, and 65% of Democrats alike agreeing that is better if the Bucks stay.

Regionally, agreement that it is best to keep the Bucks holds at 67% in the Milwaukee and the Green Bay media markets.  Majorities elsewhere prefer to keep the Bucks as well.

Next, respondents were provided with a full description of the proposal:

“There is a proposal to build a new arena in downtown Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Bucks and Herb Kohl have committed to spend $250 million of their own money, half of the cost. The city, county and state would raise the other half. As part of this 50/50 public/private partnership, there would be no new statewide taxes, and revenue generated by the NBA team will more than repay the public investment.”

Knowing this, 67% of voters support building a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, while only 21% oppose. …

Next, respondents are provided some more information about the benefits of the development:

“Total public investment of $250 million dollars for a new arena would attract up to $500 million dollars in additional development beyond the arena itself, creating a sports and entertainment district in the heart of Milwaukee. The total development would create over 10,000 jobs over the next decade, many of them permanent. All of the development and jobs will generate tax revenue for the state that benefits everyone statewide.”

With this additional information, support for building a new arena climbs to 71%, while 20% remain opposed. …

“All told, under the proposal, the state would borrow $150 million dollars, which is only $50 million more than the state will owe on the Bradley Center if they do nothing. Borrowing the $150 million dollars will generate $750 million dollars in additional investment from the private sector and create thousands of jobs, while doing nothing will cause the Milwaukee Bucks to leave Wisconsin and cost the state more than $730 million in lost tax revenue.”

Given that $150 million figure, 64% of voters say that “Wisconsin borrowing money to help fund this arena project is a good investment for the state.”  Only 28% say it is not. …

Finally, respondents are given a little more information about the nature of the proposal for the state to borrow money:

“As you know, under the arena development proposal, the state would borrow $150 million dollars, which will be repaid by tax revenue generated by the Milwaukee Bucks. The loan would come from a state run trust fund, so the state would be borrowing from itself, and NOT from Wall Street. By law, all interest paid back on the loan would go directly towards state education funding.”

Knowing this, 67% say they support “Wisconsin borrowing money from itself to fund the arena development proposal, with the interest paid back going directly towards state education funding?” Only 26% oppose.

There are at least a few dubious assumptions in the poll questions, including all the estimates of economic impact if the arena is built and the negative economic impact if the Bucks leave.

There is a more dubious assumption that these poll results will move Democratic legislators, none of whom have spoken in favor of a state-financed Bucks arena. As with Miller Park in the mid-1990s, it is apparently up to Republicans to get a financing package through the Legislature to benefit primarily Democratic Milwaukee County.

(You would think Republicans would point out to Milwaukee Democrats that it is Democrats’ constituents, the workers at Bradley Center events, who would lose their jobs if the Bucks left Milwaukee. Those people don’t get rich working at the Bradley Center, but what they get paid is far more than unemployment. Or maybe that task of persuasion should be left to Bucks owner Marc Lasry, a well known big-dollar Democratic owner, or former Democratic U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, former owner of the Bucks.)

Whether the Legislature approves a new Bucks arena may depend, perhaps ironically, on the Bucks themselves. The Bucks presently trail their NBA first-round playoff series to Chicago three games to two, having unexpectedly won game five of their series in Chicago Monday night. Game six is at the Bradley Center Thursday night, and tickets were sold out not long after the Bucks’ Monday night win.

This could be analogous to the 1995 Seattle Mariners, who won their first division title and playoff series while the Washington Legislature was considering a replacement for the Kingdome under threats of departure without a new stadium. The Mariners won their series, galvanizing the Northwest in the process, and got Safeco Field.

On the other hand, the Brewers managed to get Miller Park despite their inept play (and, worse, management) through nearly all of the 1990s. The Brewers stayed in Milwaukee because Gov. Tommy Thompson simply refused to have the Brewers leave on his watch. (The Braves’ departure from Milwaukee for Atlanta in 1965 cost the state Supreme Court chief justice his job in the next election. The Braves announced they were leaving in 1964, and in Lyndon Johnson’s landslide election year, Democratic Gov. John Reynolds lost his bid for reelection.

It is also possible that both polls are correct — that a majority of Wisconsinites want the Bucks to stay in Wisconsin, but a majority of Wisconsinites don’t want their tax dollars, directly or indirectly, going to a Bucks arena for a less-than-statewide team. I’m not sure how you get around that, but attitudes might change if the Bucks are able to make an unexpectedly deep playoff run, as they did for the 1995 Mariners.


Why prevailing wage needs to not prevail

Wisconsin government employees now must contribute to their extremely generous benefits and retirement. Private-sector employees are no longer join unions if they work for a union employer.

The next step in economic reform needs to be the complete repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law.

Collin Roth explains how and why:

Recently elected State SenatorDueyStroebel, a proponent for the repeal of prevailing wage, has been touting two water towers in Grafton, Wisconsin as the perfect examples of why Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws are a drain on taxpayers.Here is the story in a nutshell.

In 2011, the village of Grafton sought bids to re-paint and maintain two water towers for a 14-year period. The village believed the work was not subject to Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law and contracted with a company in Georgia for a total cost of $712,183 — $326,468 for one tower and $385,715 for the other.

Six months later, after the initial repainting and rehab work has already occurred, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) came in to investigate. They determined the project was subject to Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law and Grafton would be forced to retroactively increase their compensation and pay a fine.

The village of Grafton challenged the ruling, but lost and a final order was declared in August 2014.

Here is how it broke down:

  • Water Tower One Original Cost: $326,468
  • Water Tower One Cost Post DWD Ruling: $468,841 ($142,373 increase)
  • Water Tower Two Original Cost: $385,715
  • Water Tower Two Cost Post DWD Ruling: $551,979 (at least an increase of $166,264)

In addition, DWD levied a $59,169 penalty against the village of Grafton.

Think about this: a community accepts a competitive bid to conduct a project for $712,183. Once the job is largely finished, the state comes in using the hammer of the prevailing wage law and arbitrarily increases the price to $1,079,989 including the fine — an increase of $367,806.

This is $367,806 in taxpayer dollars that are quite simply robbed due to the prevailing wage law. The village gets nothing extra for this arbitrary increase in price. It is simply a penalty of doing business in Wisconsin.

How does this possibly make sense? How can anyone who claims to defend the interests of taxpayers support such an outrageous scheme?

Can the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition defend this? Steve Lyons? John Gard? Bob Welch? Tim Michels?

Can any Republican lawmaker who is considering opposing prevailing wage based on the whispers they are getting from contractors and road builders?

I suspect they can’t.

Here’s a bit of free advice for Republican lawmakers who see prevailing wage as a tough vote: you’re in office to be good stewards of tax dollars, not a tool of campaign donations.

Media Trackers explains how prevailing wage hurts businesses:

Ford Construction, a small business in Waukesha that works on jobs throughout southeast Wisconsin, has an especially frustrating real-life example of the confusion and increased cost associated with the prevailing wage mandate. …

In June of 2013, Ford Construction won a bid from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics to build a snowplow building on the grounds of the West Bend Airport. When bidding on the job, Ford Construction used the classification information available on the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website to classify the job as metal building erection. Using this information, Ford Construction submitted a bid of $418,000 for the building.

Halfway though the job the state told Ford Construction that they were using the wrong wage rate, and that they must use a federal wage rate since the project was funded significantly through federal monies. Ford says he was told, “The federal government does not recognize [that] metal building erectors exist, and so you have to use iron workers [rate].” When he asked how he was supposed to know this he says the response was, “Well the federal government does not recognize metal buildings and you should know that so you should have used iron workers rates.”

The difference between metal building erectors and iron workers rates is over $30 an hour. Ford was told that his only recourse in this was to file an appeal with the federal government. Now, a year after the building was completed, he has been through two appeals, several hundred hours of paperwork, and over $4,000 in legal fees, all with no resolution. Until the issue is resolved, the government refuses to release $29,000 of the $418,000 owed Ford Construction essentially putting a $29,000 crimp in their working capital.

Ford said that the state is “supposed to have a pre-bid meeting to go over the wage rates and possible wage rate questions.” If the state had done this, he contends, “perhaps this could have been avoided.”

So apparently state bureaucrats don’t even know their own law. Meanwhile, it would seem based on Roth’s example that every public works project in Wisconsin has been overpriced by up to 50 percent for who knows how long. It’s up to backers of the prevailing-wage status quo to prove otherwise.

Otherwise, it’s time that taxpayers actually get their money’s worth.


Why conservatives and parents are the grown-ups

The answer to the assertion in the headline is because each group knows the power of the word “no.”

(Does that mean liberals are bad parents? Discuss amongst yourselves. My answer is: not necessarily, but that’s because parents cannot have stereotypical liberal attitudes in dealing with their children.)

Kurt Schlichter:

We decent Americans are bombarded with lies, libeled, and subjected to petty (and, increasingly, not so petty) tyrannies by government flunkies. At every turn, liberals and their suck-ups in the media and academia seek to delegitimize our interests, concerns, and opinions. They want us to submit, to take the easy way out, to just go along. Our fate, they decree, is cultural and political dhimmitude.

Well, it’s time to draw a red line and, unlike President Feckless and the Wimptones, to enforce it.

Conservatives, it’s time to say, “No.”

No, liberals, you can’t just lie about us anymore without us pushing back. The days of surrender in the face of your slander are over.

No, liberals, you are the racists. Your party created the Klan. Your party created and enforced Jim Crow. Those weren’t Republicans beating black skulls in Selma – they were Democrats. Bull Connor was a union-loving populist and a delegate to a Democrat National Convention. You liberals elected a KKK member as your Senate Majority Leader and then made him your President Pro Tempore, and you did it in this century.

I repeat, in this century.

Your Democrat party relies on racial divisions, lies, and hatred. Quick, which party would fold tomorrow if racial hatred suddenly evaporated – the party that seeks to limit government and to empower every individual to create his own success, or the party that seeks to grow government to more lavishly hand out scraps to buy votes?

No, liberals, you are the sexists, the ones offering up as your nominee a corrupt, accomplishment-free punchline who got where she is solely by being hitched to a successful man. Anyone else without her plumbing but with her track record of failure would be lucky to be consigned to the Martin O’Malley tier of primary candidate asterisks. If there really was a glass ceiling, a bar exam-flunking, ethically bankrupt hack like Hillary would need a ladder to reach it if she wasn’t already standing on Bill’s shoulders.

You don’t merely tolerate sexism – you reward it. Your demigod Teddy Kennedy didn’t just treat women like trash. He killed one by leaving her to drown alone in the wet, cold dark while he slinked away to his team of Democrat sycophants to sober up and hatch the lies that helped him avoid justice. And you don’t care. You made him a liberal icon.

Then there’s Bill Clinton, Count No. 1 in the lengthy felony fraud indictment of liberal “feminism.” You pretended to be outraged by Anita Hill’s pubic hair/Coke can lies but, like your future nominee, you bent over backwards to enable the gropey, handsy antics of this presidential pervert. And, of course, the real reason you hated Clarence Thomas wasn’t bogus harassment claims – it was because he is black, and it kills you to think a black man might succeed without your approval and “help.”

No, Mainstream Media, we are not swallowing the lies you pass off as the truth. And no, you can’t have our money or our viewership. Liberal newspapers? Subscriptions cancelled. Let’s see you make a profit with only the rabid coastal elitists reading your little Pravdas. Television? Sorry CNN, you’re going to have to find some other suckers to stare at your turgid coverage of Hillary buying a burrito bowl. We’ll watch Jake Tapper because he’ll try to be straight even if he disagrees with us, but the rest of you can go catfight with the nobodies at MSNBC over the eyeballs of the Manhattan/Hollywood/San Francisco axis. Have at it, champs; divvy up that big 0.2 nightly share of cable-loving pinkos.

Oh, and MSNBC, why don’t you ask your chiseling hosts to pay their damn taxes? We’re getting tired of them running their mouths demanding pay-offs for deadbeat Democrat constituents and then handing us the bill.

No, modern academia, we are not going keep subsidizing the progressive fantasylands that are the colleges of today. It’s more than the fact that technology has made the idea of giant campuses full of hungover sophomores listening to droning professors in 500-seat lecture halls fiscally impossible. It’s also that we’re sick of funding hordes of due process-hating parasites who think that you can count as “education” seminars like “Leave It to Beaver? Questions of LGBT Intersectionality and Gender Identity in 50s Sit-Coms.”

And we’re sick of funding your war upon our kids for the crime of being normal. If our kids are male, you hate them and call them “rapists” even as you gush over rapist-apologist Hillary. If our kids are Christian or Jewish, you want to treat them like outcasts for not worshipping your false gods. And you want to shut them up by empowering campus freaks who shriek that our kids’ dissenting views make them feel “unsafe.”

Tick-tock, the era of the computer college education is coming to an end. Maybe you can find new jobs in the shrinking classified ad sections of those liberal newspapers you still read.

No, liberals, we refuse to go along and be complicit in the suicide of our culture and our country. Your long-term strategy has been to browbeat us into acquiescence, to pester, prod, and persecute us into silence and submission. And why? Because your only power over us is what power we allow you to have.

Unlike your leftist heroes elsewhere, American leftists have no army of willing murderers to enforce your sick vision at the point of a gun – except in Wisconsin, and the spotlight’s on that now, you scurrying cockroaches.

Just remember that most of you can’t even guess correctly which end of a gun goes “bang.” So you have to depend upon us normal people going along, of not resisting, of just giving up.

Well, we aren’t giving up. We’re on to you. We’re fighting back. And here’s our battle cry:


(Notice, by the way, the reference to the fascists in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office.)


Milwaukee’s Giuliani

There is only one Rudy Giuliani, who moved from being a U.S. attorney to cleaning up New York City as its mayor.

But Milwaukee, the source of most of Wisconsin’s social dysfunctions, needs someone to clean up the mess milquetoast Mayor Tom Barrett has allowed to worsen.

Former Milwaukee police detective Steve Spingola describes:

The recent surge of violence has Milwaukee staring at a critical fork in the road. One path leads to Baltimore, a city with the highest per capita homicide rate in nation. The other route runs through New York City, where a legendary mayor transformed a crime-ridden metropolis into the safest big city in America.

In the early 1990s, New York City, a jurisdiction with some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, was awash with crime and violence. During the four-year tenure of Mayor David Dinkins, Big Apple homicides surpassed the total number of American fatalities in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frustrated, New Yorkers did something radical: They elected Rudy Giuliani, a mayor more interested in leading than placating the grievance community.

In 2013, as New York City experienced the fewest number of homicides in its recorded history, Milwaukee’s per capita homicide rate surpassed Chicago’s, a city dubbed the “gang capital of the United States” by its own crime commission.

The difference between New York City’s dramatic turn around and Milwaukee’s abysmal increase in homicides year-to-date, is leadership. Rudy Giuliani did not become known as “America’s Mayor” for blaming the governor, gun laws and poverty for his city’s crime problem. Instead, Giuliani hired a police chief with an actual strategy and gave Bill Bratton a mandate to get the job done.

Unfortunately, Tom Barrett is not Rudy Giuliani. Together with Police Chief Edward Flynn, Barrett has taken no responsibility for Milwaukee’s ineffective crime fighting strategy, while blaming everyone and everything — save global warming.

To make matters worse, the police chief’s politically motivated termination of Officer Christopher Manney has resulted in the loss of what little confidence rank-and-file officers had in Flynn. How many Milwaukee police officers — aware that their department will throw them under the bus to placate an angry mob — are now going to go risk their lives or livelihoods to disarm gun-toters? The termination of Manney exposed the seedy underside of Milwaukee politics: the use of government machinery to railroad a cop for simply doing his job, which is the principal reason, one high-ranking department official privately noted, “Flynn has lost the coppers.”

Moreover, some of Flynn’s policies, such has a rule that prohibits vehicle pursuits in most instances, have turned the Milwaukee Police Department into a laughing stock.

The solution to Milwaukee’s violent crime epidemic is not rocket science.

Voters — as they did in New York — need to hold Milwaukee’s political class accountable. Next, Milwaukee needs a police chief committed to hiring a full complement of officers, adequately staffing police districts, reducing the department’s abhorrent response times, reinstituting the department’s once nationally renowned detective bureau and forming well-supervised narco-gang units at each district.

Certainly, the $23 million in savings that Milwaukee received as a result of Act 10 could have been used to underwrite these initiatives.

Giuliani drove down New York City’s crime rate by empowering city residents to work in concert with a highly motivated police force to reduce crime. Under Giuliani’s watch, officials who made excuses for their own ineptitude found another line of work. Leadership begins at the top and, until the mayor and the police chief stop making excuses, Milwaukee will continue its march toward Baltimore.



Happy (?) Tax Freedom Day

We interrupt your weekend to announce that today is Tax Freedom Day in Wisconsin.

The Tax Foundation’s Tax Freedom Day in the nation was yesterday. Gov. Scott Walker sent out an email about that to his supporters yesterday … not today, which would highlight the continued fact that federal and state taxes in Wisconsin are higher than the national average. (And that Tax Freedom Day is three days later in Wisconsin this year.)

And what are we Wisconsinites getting for our tax dollar? Milwaukee dropping below Detroit in social dysfunction Hell, for one thing. Harassment of conservatives by the Internal Revenue Service and the Milwaukee County district attorney, for another.

10 … 9 … 8 …

The Score has bad news for Bucks fans:

The clock is ticking on the Milwaukee Bucks’ plan to unveil a new $500 million downtown facility.

The arena financing plan must be completed in 10 days in time for the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee’s consideration.

“This has to be wrapped up in the next 10 days,” urged Bucks president Peter Feigin on Tuesday. Feigin admitted to challenges within the politics associated with finalizing a plan, but expressed cautious optimism, reports Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel.

A meeting is expected to convene on Wednesday between representatives from the Bucks, the city councilors and legislative leaders. The Bucks’ current timeline calls for groundbreaking in the fall of 2015 but there would need to be agreements with the city and county as well as a go-ahead on the financing plan.

The Bucks have billed the plan as a 50-50 public-private partnership on the $500 million facility. However that plan has faced some opposition and uncertainty.

The original plan headed by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker called for the state of Wisconsin to provide $220 million in bonding. But that proposal has failed to generate sufficient political backing. Instead, an alternative for $150 million in backing has been put forth by Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Should the $150-million proposal go through, the Bucks would be short $100 million of their goal of $500 million.

The Bucks are facing an NBA-imposed deadline by the fall of 2017 to have a new arena in place. Should the Bucks fail to meet the deadline, the league reserves the right to buy back the team for $575 million.

Charlie Sykes gives the reasons why this is bad news for Bucks fans:

1. Public opinion.
The numbers in last week’s Marquette University law poll were brutal, with 79 percent of registered voters statewide opposing public financing. That was bad enough, but the numbers out state were even worse: 87 percent of out state voters opposed the plan. That’s a huge problem because any package has to have out state GOP backing to make it into the budget. Milwaukee Democrats won’t lift a finger.

2. Tom Barrett.

Not a new story, but it is getting worse with every passing week. Barrett’s lack of engagement on a major project in his own city has both puzzled and annoyed legislators and his apparent refusal to increase the local share — by, for example, creating a TIF for the new private-sector ancillary development — may be a deal killer. This would be bad enough, but legislators contrast his hands-off approach to the arena project to his fervent backing of the $124 million streetcar. Behind the scenes, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is floating some ideas, but his ability to get anything through a hostile county board is problematic at best.

3. Tom Barrett’s mouth.

If possible Barrett made things even worse last week, when he lashed out at Governor Scott Walker and the GOP legislators, suggesting that they had passed gun laws that contributed to the city’s explosion of violent crime. Barrett’s comments were cited by both co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. “Politics is about relationships,” [State Rep. John] Nygren said Friday. “You poke a finger in our eyes, it makes it a little harder.”

Senator Alberta Darling was even more direct:

Darling accused Barrett of “appalling leadership,” saying he was shifting the blame for crime without taking responsibility for what’s happening in the city. Last week, Barrett called on Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-dominated Legislature to devote more resources to public safety in Milwaukee, saying the state’s gun laws have resulted in more guns on the street.

“He never is at fault for anything,” Darling said. “He’s never the key player.”

4. Marc Lasry.

Some insiders think that Lasy’s public commitment to raise $270,000 in a week for Hillary Clinton could leave a bigger mark than the polling numbers. Lasry has every right to support the candidate of his choice, of course, and he has made no secret of his fealty to the Clintons. But the timing of his all-in-for-Hillary announcement raised eyebrows, given that in order to he has to get his financing package approved, he needs to support of a GOP legislature and a GOP governor… who also happens to be running for president.

Lasry is evidently either tone-deaf, or simply has decided that he wants to be ambassador to France more than he wants a new arena in Downtown Milwaukee.

5. Scott Walker.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the governor has a lot on his plate lately and he is trying to appeal to different constituencies. How much political capital is Walker going to devote to a project that could easily be cast as corporate welfare for billionaires? How will that play in Iowa, or New Hampshire? As we saw in the fight over Miller Park, a political lift this heavy needs an engaged, aggressive, high profile push from the governor. Don’t expect Walker to use the Tommy Thompson playbook here.

Nygren asks:

Currently, the city and county of Milwaukee have committed $50 million, a mere 5% of total costs related to this project. To put that into perspective, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett committed $64 million of city funds to build a 2.5 mile streetcar route, which is 50% of all streetcar costs. If Mayor Barrett is willing to front 50% of the costs for a streetcar, but only 5% for an arena in his city, it begs the question: how serious is the Mayor about keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee?In comparison to what other cities have contributed, Milwaukee’s contribution is considerably less. Most recently, in Sacramento, the city is giving $255 million, nearly 53% of all costs to build a new NBA stadium. The city of Brooklyn is also planning a $1 billion arena; however, the city has committed $205 million, 20.5% of costs. In fact, going back to 2001, no city has committed less to build an arena than Milwaukee. If we want to seriously move forward with keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee, we need the city and county to get serious about funding.

Clearly, Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are not serious about funding a Bradley Center replacement. The Bucks’ owners need not sell the team back to the NBA; they need only ask the Washington state Democrats to come up with taxpayer goodies for Seattle Sonics 2.0.

What legislator interested in reelection would go against 87 percent of his or her constituents? As stated here before, the statewide following for the Bucks is nowhere near the statewide following of the Brewers, and Miller Park was far from uncontroversial. (For that matter, 47 percent of Brown County voters voted against the 0.5-percent Brown County sales tax for the early-2000s Lambeau ield improvements. It’s one thing to buck 47 percent of your constituents, but 87 percent?)

Enjoy the NBA playoffs (game three of Bucks vs. Bulls is Thursday night), Bucks fans. You don’t have long to watch the NBA in Milwaukee.


You call this

National Review does a story about Wisconsin, and it’s not complimentary:

“They came with a battering ram.”

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.

She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.

The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.” TOP

Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop. …

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.

Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead, like Cindy, they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?”

No, it’s not America. It’s Wisconsin under the John Doe law.

For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite — into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping.

Yes, Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Most Americans have never heard of these raids, or of the lengthy criminal investigations of Wisconsin conservatives. For good reason. Bound by comprehensive secrecy orders, conservatives were left to suffer in silence as leaks ruined their reputations, as neighbors, looking through windows and dismayed at the massive police presence, the lights shining down on targets’ homes, wondered, no doubt, What on earth did that family do?

This was the on-the-ground reality of the so-called John Doe investigations, expansive and secret criminal proceedings that directly targeted Wisconsin residents because of their relationship to Scott Walker, their support for Act 10, and their advocacy of conservative reform.

Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer. The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights.

The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers.

But no matter the outcome of these court hearings, the damage has been done. In the words of Mr. O’Keefe, “The process is the punishment.” …

Conservatives have looked at Wisconsin as a success story, where Walker took everything the Left threw at him and emerged victorious in three general elections. He broke the power of the teachers’ unions and absorbed millions upon millions of dollars of negative ads. The Left kept chanting, “This is what democracy looks like,” and in Wisconsin, democracy looked like Scott Walker winning again and again.

Yet in a deeper way, Wisconsin is anything but a success. There were casualties left on the battlefield — innocent citizens victimized by a lawless government mob, public officials who brought the full power of their office down onto the innocent.

Governors come and go. Statutes are passed and repealed. Laws and elections are important, to be sure, but the rule of law is more important still. And in Wisconsin, the rule of law hangs in the balance — along with the liberty of citizens.

Remember when liberals believed in freedom of expression and other civil liberties? Not anymore.

Here’s the thing, liberals: If this can happen to your political opponents, it can happen to you too.