Will Milwaukee get a streetcar?
Will Milwaukee get a streetcar?

These political decisions will have major consequences

If it seems like so many public policy decisions are hanging fire in Wisconsin these days, it’s only because they are.

And so many of these loose ends seem to be intertwined and interdependent.

Let’s start with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Will he run for president? By hiring a national campaign consultant, making frequent trips to states such as Iowa and Florida and jetting around to meet with wealthy donors, it sure looks that way. And if he does run for president, will he resign as governor?

Before we get to that decision, will Walker approve the proposed Kenosha casino? It stands to reason that his decision there will be filtered through his presidential campaign lens. His decision on the casino must be made by Feb. 19. Walker has said he wants no net gain in gambling in Wisconsin. Yet, conservative talk radio noise is chiding him to approve the Kenosha project and the jobs it would create.

Meanwhile, which Downtown site will the Milwaukee Bucks select as their preferred venue for a new arena? Once that decision is announced, how will the public financing for the new arena be generated? Again, will Walker be willing to support that financing?

Will the City of Milwaukee get permission to develop its proposed downtown streetcar system? As opponents scramble to gain enough signatures to force a referendum on the proposal, sources have told me that some key out-state Republican legislators are questioning why Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett needs public financing for the new arena while at the same time he wants to commit public financing for the streetcar system. Meanwhile, critics among the Milwaukee African American community contend that the streetcar system will not serve the inner city.

But wait. If the arena becomes the priority at the expense of the streetcar, then that could endanger the feasibility of the Couture, the $122 million, 44-story apartment building proposed for Milwaukee’s lakefront. The Barrett administration has intertwined the streetcar…