OUR POSITION on Public Funding for the Arena

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As the Milwaukee Common Council held its first public hearing on the use of public funds for the new Bucks arena, Jennifer O’Hear spoke on behalf of the many Common Ground members present to make our position known.

Good afternoon, President Murphy and Members of the Common Council.  My name is Jennifer O’Hear.  I am a Milwaukee taxpayer and the parent of the 3 children in Milwaukee Public Schools.   I am also a volunteer leader in Common Ground, and I will be speaking on behalf of Common Ground members today.

In April 2013, we, Common Ground, inserted ourselves into the arena debate. We offered a vision of investment in downtown and our neighborhoods. We said that if taxpayer money is used for a new Bucks arena, then there must also be a similar investment in our neighborhoods and our children.

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We have never been opposed to the Bucks or the construction of a new arena; our concern is, and has always been, about the proper use of public money.

We have been told by our public officials that there’s not enough public money or enough bonding authority to invest in the facilities that many of our children are using. How am I supposed to explain to my daughter that our public officials could find millions of taxpayer dollars to help billionaire, Bucks owners build their new, luxury, play space, but not a cent for her public school soccer field that’s literally underwater half the season?

Bucks owners, Mark Lasry, Wesley Edens, and Jamie Dinan, are New York, billionaire, hedge-fund-owners who have the resources to build this arena themselves. They do not need our public money. Our children and our neighborhoods do need our public money.

Without a substantial investment in our neighborhoods and our children, Common Ground opposes all public money for a new Bucks arena.

We urge the Common Council to vote against public money for a new Bucks arena. If you vote for using $80 million for a new Bucks arena, then we will be back in 2016 to demand an $80 million investment in our children and our neighborhoods. We will not accept excuses; if you can find $80 million for the Bucks, then surely you can also come up with $80 million for our children and our neighborhoods. My mother always told me: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

We will be watching the votes of the Common Council. If you vote for public money for the Bucks arena, Common Ground will make the proper use of public money an issue in the 2016 spring Milwaukee elections. We will demand an $80 million investment in our children and our neighborhoods. We are not going away. We are in this for the long haul. The future of our children and our neighborhoods is too important for resources to be wasted on welfare for billionaires.

Read more about our efforts HERE.