Usually at times, I talk smack about my home city. Really I do. The latest news this morning coming from the Huffington Post, pivots Milwaukee as one of the best and worst run cities in the country.
Straight from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning:
An online news and opinion website called 24/7WallSt. has published a list of the best and worst run cities in the country. Milwaukee ranks as the 10th worst-run city in the country, according to the story, which ran online in the Huffington Post. The worst-run city in the country, according to 24/7WallSt, is San Bernardino, Calif. The authors say the rankings were based on the city’s credit rating, poverty, education, crime, unemployment and regional GDP.
Here’s what 24/7WallSt wrote about Milwaukee: “Milwaukee struggles with poverty and high crime rates. Last year, a typical household made just over $34,000, and nearly 30% of people lived beneath the poverty line, considerably worse than the country’s figures. There were nearly 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, more than three times the national rate of 387 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The city’s socioeconomic problems were among the reasons Moody’s assigned Milwaukee a Aa2 rating. The agency also expressed management-related concerns, specifically highlighting the city’s debt burden and the complexity of its debt financing.”
Mayor Tom Barrett said the city’s poverty rate is too high “and I know we have to do more. There’s no question about that, and we’re doing that.” He said he felt the same way about crime, where some city neighborhoods “have too much gang-related violence and drug-related violence.”
But the post’s overall conclusions are wrong, Barrett said. He said there is no cause for alarm on the city’s debt. Moody’s appears to agree. “The stable outlook (for Milwaukee) reflects our expectation that the city’s negative valuation trends will subside over the long term and the recent improvement in general fund operations and reserves will be maintained,” Moody’s reported in April 2013. “The outlook also reflects the city’s close management of its relatively complex debt program; we believe this level of oversight mitigates the cash flow and liquidity risks associated with these debt instruments.”
24/7WallSt notes that Moody’s assigned Milwaukee an Aa2 rating. According to Moody’s ratings, an Aa2 is rated as high quality and very low credit risk. The city also has a record of repaying 85% of its debt within 10 years; the national average is 50%. As of April 2013, the city has approximately $803 million in general obligation debt outstanding, according to Mark Nicolini, the city’s budget director. “We have a more aggressive debt reduction strategy than most cities,” Barrett said.
The 24/7WallSt post neglects to report on cities with pension liabilities. Milwaukee has one of the highest rated pension funds in the country and is at or near 100% funded, Nicolini said. “We have made a commitment to fund the pension and as I look at the horror stories around the country, I’m thankful we made those decisions,” Barrett said. Barrett also acknowledged that income is too low in the city. Barrett said he supported an increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. President Barack Obama also supports the measure. The Common Council cannot raise the minimum wage for city workers. On the state level, Barrett conceded efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage are unlikely to succeed in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Now there are those who probably are going to assume that this is a hoax. Really it’s not. You may have heard that Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the U.S. Keep in mind, it’s not all black and white. Other ethnics in the city can be segregated also. It’s number 4 when it comes to the poor. And many others. Yes, there are positives, but when it comes to things like this, it’s mostly negative. Yeah, we can run to the local governments all we want too. We can run to the officials all we want. BUT IT HAS TO START: with the citizens first! 10 years ago in 2004, Bill Cosby made an appearance in Milwaukee part of his tour in the country speaking in poor ridden areas. I never forget when he said this. Even I repeated this on this blog! – “Milwaukee, you have become a city that has been put on notice. I didn’t do it. You notified yourself.” He was right then and he was right now. Later on this month, the City of Milwaukee will be having a big birthday party. Oh you don’t know? January 31st , 1846 was the date that the city was founded. It was founded by 3 socialist mayors of Juneau, Kilbourn, and Walker (not Scott Walker, mind you) And yes it has been a soon to be long 168 years. But the big question is within the 168 years, what can be done to improve the city’s image towards the next 168? Yes we can talk about Northwestern Mutual, Harley-Davidson, Kohls, Miller, and many other household names and yes shows like Laverne and Shirley/Happy Days that made Milwaukee famous. BUT…………are they the answer to help the issues of the poor, and segregation? We can talk about the movies like The Blues Brothers and Transformers 2 (which part of the movie was filmed in Milwaukee) Major League, Mr. 3000 and Public Enemies. BUT………….Are they the answers to Milwaukee’s concerns? We can talk about the first churches, the migration of African-Americans with Bronzeville which is happened in the past, but what about the concern of the future? Oh, last year in 2013 there were groups like Newaukee, the Historical Milwaukee groups popped up about the positives of the city. BUT………………What about the concerns of blacks and other minorities under 40 who want in also to help the city other than getting 3 LGBT Members and one black woman? HELLO! Don’t act like I forgot that! Neither has WNOV. We can talk about the arts, entertainment, sports, colleges, universities, all around that made Milwaukee great. BUT………….what about the concerns of affording those game appearances, college, universities, and the arts dealing with the major concerns of the city?
Is any of this making sense? Time to work!
Yes, the city has positives and negatives.