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Arena Week – Now Is The Time!

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EDITORS NOTE (Update Tuesday, July 7th at 8:30pm CT)

We have an updated FAQ on where we stand now posted to the site. Read in conjunction with this piece. 

 

Let’s begin this piece with some all caps shouting to emphasize the importance of the moment:

WE ARE LESS THAN ONE WEEK FROM POTENTIALLY HAVING A NEW ARENA APPROVED

THE ARENA COULD GET BOGGED DOWN IN “POLITICS AS USUAL” UNLESS YOU CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS STARTING TODAY – MONDAY MORNING JULY 6th

THE JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE (“JFC”) WILL HOLD THEIR IMPORTANT HEARING ON THE ARENA BILL TODAY – ON MONDAY, JULY 6TH AT 11:00AM

IF THE MATTER MAKES IT OUT OF THE JFC COMMITTEE, THE FULL WISCONSIN STATE SENATE AND WISCONSIN STATE ASSEMBLY COULD VOTE TO APPROVE THE BILL LATER THIS WEEK

We have all talked the arena issue to death for the past six months. We have now reached the critical point where the arena funding bill will be debated in Madison and voted on this week.

Even if you have already called your representatives, you will need to CALL THEM AGAIN starting TODAY, Monday morning, July 6th at 8:00am when their offices open. Below is an FAQ we would like you all to read on how to contact your representative and a timeline of the legislative process we hope results in passage of the bill this week. Continue reading

Legislative Confidential – Our Thoughts

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We’ve written at length the past two weeks about what fans can do to help advance the cause of funding a new arena that will ensure the Bucks’ future in Milwaukee for decades to come. Your calls are making a difference. Please keep up your efforts.

In this piece we are going to talk directly to the legislators on both sides of the aisle who are sitting on the fence at the moment.

Here is our advice for the Republicans

Separate Vote – Some of you are saying you might support the arena but are advocating for the funding provision to be done as a separate vote. The idea being that it would force Democrats to vote for the provision since it is safe to assume no Democrats will vote for the final State budget.

Here is the problem with that logic. While it feels good to “force out” the Democrats, by having a separate vote you are also forcing out yourself. The arena spending provision only calls for $4 million in annual debt service a mere 001% of Governor Walker’s proposed $35 billion budget. It is pretty reasonable given those small dollar numbers to include this in the budget. Do you really want to put the State through a summer of debate and rancor with the end result being a separate final vote where everyone, including yourselves now have to go on record? All based on principle?

This is a creative and well negotiated finance plan that was approved by the duly elected Governor, Mayor of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County Executive. Despite what some might suggest, it compares quite favorably to other arena funding plans. Putting it in the budget and getting this behind you also makes a great deal of political sense. Continue reading

When Will They Vote On This?

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QUICK LINK TO FIND MY LEGISLATOR: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU CALLA PRIMER

Here is our FAQ on where things stand right now 

Q: Why am I making all these phone calls?

A: Because right now legislators in Madison are debating whether or not to include the arena funding proposal in the State budget. They are talking about it while you are reading this piece. That is why calls now are critical. Don’t wait to make the calls.

Q: Can’t I just email my State Assembly representative and my State Senator?

A: You can, but legislative staffers tell us that calls carry far more weight than emails. Think of all the spam you delete everyday from your inbox versus someone calling you on the phone.

Q: Are they voting on it yet? Continue reading

Contacting Legislators – A Primer

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Members of the Wisconsin State GOP legislative caucus have been talking privately the past two weeks about the arena financing proposal and whether or not to include the proposal in the State’s two-year budget (2015-2017). The thought goes that if the arena proposal is in the State budget to be passed later this month it will be approved more quickly and with less political theater.

There also is a fiscal argument from the standpoint that the State’s portion of the bonding results in an annual debt service cost of $4 million per year. That represents only .001% of the Governor’s overall proposed $35 billion in State spending in FY 2015-2016.

You’d think from some of the hysteria over the past ten days that the arena proposal would comprise 5, 10 or 20 percent of the State’s annual budget. But no, the proposed spending is only .001% of the annual budget. Additionally, that $4 million in state spending on the arena bonds is covered by the estimated $10.5 million the State will annually receive in jock tax money from NBA player salaries in FY 2016-17.

Over the next few days we are going to ask you to contact not only the legislators that represent your district, but key people on the fence that we’ll suggest contacting via updates in our Twitter feed. We may even ask you to do some “flash lobbying” this way in order to focus a group of Bucks fans to contact these folks at certain times.

The Wisconsin Legislature consists of two bodies: The Senate and the Assembly.  Everyone in the State is represented by one of 99 members of the State Assembly AND one of 33 State Senators. Use the link below to go to the legislative homepage and there you will find a query box allowing you to search for the member of the Assembly and the member of the Senate that represent you, based on your address.

QUICK LINK TO FIND MY LEGISLATOR: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

There are two ways you can contact them. Either via email or via a phone call. Continue reading

County Board Meeting and Press Conference Tomorrow

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ONE LAST REMINDER ABOUT TOMORROW – TWO EVENTS

June 9th – 5:00pm Press Conference regarding the new arena with the people from Play It Forward

June 9th – 5:30pm  – County Board Public Hearing at the War Memorial Center, 750 North Lincoln Memorial Drive

Here is what you need to know:

1- You can sign up at this Facebook Event Link if you so desire or just show up

2- Wear Bucks gear or Play It Forward arena shirts so that the media and County Board members know you support the arena

3- This is a public hearing with the County Board where they are requesting citizen input on the arena proposal and the sale of Park East land to the Bucks ownership for development. You will not be required to speak if you do not want to. The important thing is that you are there in Bucks gear

4- There may not be another event in Milwaukee that all Bucks fans can come to in order to rally for the arena. After tomorrow night, the action may shift back to Madison. This may be our only opportunity for an event like this.

5- The meeting may run a few hours, but if you can only come for the first hour, even that is helpful. It will be entertaining and interesting to observe.

Mark it down. Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30pm at the Milwaukee War Memorial on the Lakefront.

It will be a beautiful 80 degree night at the lakefront. Come down for the scenery and stay for the meeting.

Go Bucks!

 

Three losers from today’s Arena Press Conference

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Congratulations and thank you to Governor Walker, County Executive Chris Abele, Mayor Tom Barrett, Senator Scott Fitzgerald, Representative Robin Vos, Senator Alberta Darling and all the legislators who came together today to announce a bipartisan plan to fund a new arena that will preserve tax revenues, create jobs and help develop the blighted Park East corridor in downtown Milwaukee, all while preserving our favorite NBA team for future generations to enjoy.

Now on to three losers as a result of this well thought out funding plan introduced today. Continue reading

County Board Meeting June 9th and Other Developments

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A great deal of arena news came down today and with it comes our first appeal to you. We’ll need you to come out in force next Tuesday for the special County Board hearing just announced.

June 9th – 5:30pm  – County Board Public Hearing at the War Memorial Center  

Today the news came out that the Bucks’ owners are looking to purchase the remaining Park East acreage west of the river for development of not only the arena but also a new practice facility, restaurants, a hotel, apartments, parking garages, etc. Tom Daykin with MJS first reported it here. This would be a $400 million privately funded development in addition to the arena itself.Park East Arena Development

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is proposing to sell the 10-acres of Park East land west of the river to the Bucks owners for development purposes for the price of $1. The County Board of Supervisors will need to approve the sale. To that end, the County Board has announced a public hearing on Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30pm to allow the public to weigh-in on the proposal.

The good news is that the location of this hearing will be at the War Memorial Center on the lakefront and free parking will be provided (750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive.) We anticipate that this hearing will garner significant media coverage. At this hearing there will be a veritable Star Wars bar scene of different people with different agendas. Some will be excited about the fact that Park East land west of the river is actually being developed after being on the market since 2002 with no takers. There will also be citizens who will insist the property is worth more than the island of Maui and that the County board should hold on to the land for another decade or more until they can find a new developer willing to pay an exorbitant price for it.

What we’ll need at this meeting is YOU!  We’ll need you in your best Bucks gear at the War Memorial to represent Bucks fans everywhere. Attendance at this meeting does not mean you will need to speak at the hearing unless you want to. The most important thing for us will be the number of people wearing Bucks gear at this meeting. Supportive signs are good as well.

We’re going to spend the next week in conjunction with the other members of the Bucks online community in getting the word out. This will be the first chance for local and State legislators to see if Bucks fans “care”.  If only ten of you show up? Well let’s just say that will embolden the arena detractors.

Since the hearing is going to start at 5:30pm, we’d encourage you to get there at 5:15pm. But if you can’t be there early, be sure to still come. The session may go on for a few hours.

Mark it down. Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30pm at the Milwaukee War Memorial on the Lakefront.

Follow us on social media for more updates and be listening for our spokesman Paul Henning on local radio this weekend as well.

Our Take on the Last 24-Hours

Many of you are asking where things stand with the arena. You are hearing a lot of hyperbole coming from a number of quarters. That tells us things are starting to get serious. Continue reading

True or False? – The Legislature Still Has to Pass the “Jock Tax”

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FALSE.  We already have the “Jock Tax” in place in Wisconsin.

After soaking up 72-hours of conversation on the arena among friends, relatives and people posting online, we’ve come to an important conclusion —- A segment of Wisconsin residents, certain pundits and perhaps even a handful of legislators do not understand that the “Jock Tax” is already in place and collecting millions in income tax from pro athletes who perform in the State of Wisconsin. As we highlighted in our piece the other day, Wisconsin has had what is known as a non-resident entertainer tax for decades now. Continue reading

A few thoughts for @SykesCharlie (Part II)

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When the conversation got rolling on a new Bucks arena in April of 2014, Milwaukee talk radio commentator Charlie Sykes came out with significant critiques as it related to public financing for a new downtown arena. With the details of a new plan leaking out today, he’s back at it again both on his talk show and at this link via his Right Wisconsin digital platform.

Last year in the spirit of good debate, we did a piece addressing some of his concerns. We’ll take a crack at his concerns raised today with the new financing plan. Before reading this piece, we’d recommend that for background you read our piece from last night – The Elements of The Deal if you have not already done so.

Continue reading

Save Our Bucks

The Elements of the Deal

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The news leaked out earlier this afternoon. First from local Milwaukee talk radio personality Mark Belling and then quickly followed up by the reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The elements of a deal are in place to finance a new Milwaukee arena complex.

We are going to give it our best shot at explaining what the key moving pieces are and what to look for next. Before we begin, we’d like to offer our condolences to the family of Don Walker, the MJS reporter covering the arena issue, who passed away unexpectedly last week of a heart attack at the age of 62. Don and I (your SOB editor) had many email conversations on all things Milwaukee Bucks and the arena project over the past two years. I had known Don from assisting him with some prior stories on Miller Park many years ago. He was a very hard working reporter who was respected by all. As the excitement of the arena takes shape, we do so not only without Don, but also Bradley Center Chairman Marc Marotta, who unexpectedly passed away last month as well. The sad irony is that a key driver of the project (Marotta) and the key reporter covering the project (Walker) are not with us to shepherd things as we enter the home stretch. That said, we know they will be there in spirit when the first Bucks home game is played at the new building. Condolences for the families of both men.

Not a Done Deal Yet

When the specific details are announced in the next week, it is important for Bucks fans to realize that this is simply “the plan” for financing the new arena. This plan has many moving parts and will need a number of different constituencies to sign off on things. If some of these groups fail to go along with the plan, there might not be an arena. Thus it is critical that arena supporters convey to your elected representatives in the coming weeks that you want them to support the project.

Here are the important takeaways based on the deal specifics as outlined by MJS reporters Dan Bice and Patrick Marley this afternoon: Continue reading