NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


The possibility of losing more than $12 million in annual income taxes from Major League Baseball players in American Family Field has become another talking point in the ongoing negotiation over potential state funding for the stadium.

Those income tax payments from both Milwaukee Brewers players and those on visiting teams were discussed earlier this month by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. While he is pressuring local governments to also contribute money to preserving AmFam Field and keeping the Brewers in Milwaukee, he said the player income tax is an argument for the state to also participate.

“There is a case to be made that if the Brewers don’t play in Wisconsin, we lose all of the income tax revenue,” Vos said during a May 5 Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon.

Income taxes raised by players in AmFam Field totaled nearly $12.4 million last year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. The income tax generated $5 million in 2020 during the Covid-19 shutdowns, but otherwise has raised more than $10.5 million annually since 2018.

That represents money the state could direct toward AmFam Field’s needs, Vos said.

Former Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 used the same income tax to argue for state funding to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. The state’s actual contribution to Fiserv Forum isn’t specifically tied to income taxes paid by players or visiting performers.

Vos also discussed the possibility of ending up with an empty baseball stadium if an agreement cannot be made to encourage the Brewers to extend their lease beyond its current sunset date of 2030.

“If the team leaves, we still own the stadium and have to either pay to take it down, or find somebody else to use it,” Vos said. “The chances of us getting a professional baseball team to come to Wisconsin, after we lose one, are zero.”

The Brewers are seeking public funding for long-term maintenance of AmFam Field. That work was financed through a sales tax that ended in 2020. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed biennial budget had offered $290 million from the state’s current surplus to maintain AmFam Field. That would require the Brewers to extend their lease to continue playing there until the end of 2043.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance voted to remove the ballpark funding from the proposed biennial budget along with hundreds of other items.

Vos said a financing plan must include money from local government.

—Milwaukee Business Journal

The Wisconsin Assembly plans to vote Wednesday on a Republican-authored plan to increase state aid to local governments, despite not having reached agreement with the GOP-controlled Senate and in the face of a veto threat from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The vote was scheduled even as those involved in the plan are still negotiating privately to try and reach agreement. Changes to the bill are expected to be unveiled publicly for the first time shortly before the vote, which is expected Wednesday afternoon.

There is a lot at stake for cash-strapped local governments that have long lobbied the Legislature to increase stagnant state aid to help pay for pension costs, police, fire and emergency services and a host of other needs.

The problem is particularly acute in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold, which faces an underfunded pension system. Milwaukee has increasingly become reliant on federal pandemic aid to fund its essential services, which city leaders have said cost $150 million more per year to maintain.

Under the bill, Milwaukee could levy a 2% sales tax and Milwaukee County could add 0.375% sales tax to its current 0.5% sales tax. Both would need voter approval, a requirement that Milwaukee officials have opposed.

At its core, the bill as introduced would increase funding to counties, cities, towns and villages by $227 million, or 10%, over the next two years, but could only be spent on police and fire protection, emergency medical services, emergency response communications, public works and transportation.

The $1.5 billion in aid to municipalities — known as shared revenue — would be paid for by tapping 20% of the state’s 5-cent sales tax, an idea Evers has supported.

But Evers, and many of the local officials who testified last week, said the current proposal comes with too many strings attached. Those include banning public health officials from ordering businesses closed for more than two weeks, cutting aid to communities that reduce the number of police officers and firefighters and prohibiting local advisory referenda questions.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wauwatosa needs more funding to maintain its roads, so officials may implement a transportation utility, or a fee paid by property owners that’s based on the amount of traffic generated by their establishments.

The city’s common council will decide whether to implement the utility fee, similar to ones charged for water and electricity use, in July. However, lawsuits pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court question if transportation utilities are legal.

There are three main reasons why the city is considering a transportation utility, according to a March presentation given by Wauwatosa officials Michael May, senior project engineer, John Ruggini, finance director, and David Simpson, public works director:

• Aging infrastructure: Roadway conditions are declining, and current funding limits don’t allow for the city to replace and maintain them.

• Fiscal constraints: The gap between how much the city makes and how much it borrows is widening — by 2027, the city could be $4 million in debt.

• Equitable cost share: A transportation utility will work like a water or sewer utility — the more vehicular trips a property generates, which means it’s causing more road-use, the more it has to pay to repair roadways.

If the common council passes a transportation utility in July, property owners will start seeing fees in 2024.

All single-family homes, regardless of size, will be charged $51 per year.

Other annual costs can be estimated by a property type’s average number of weekday vehicular trips per 1,000 square feet, according to the city’s site.

For example, a 3,000-square-foot fast casual restaurant without a drive-thru, generating 97 trips a week, faces a yearly cost of $1,320, while one with a drive-thru, creating 467 trips, would be charged $6,319.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A $100.2 million development with 399 apartments could start construction in 2024 at Drexel Town Square after Oak Creek officials on Tuesday approved city financial support.

Those two apartment buildings would mean the 85-acre Drexel Town Square redevelopment that launched in 2013 at Howell and Drexel avenues is almost complete. Milwaukee-based Barrett Lo Visionary Development would build them.

Barrett Lo Visionary, which is currently constructing the 44-story Couture in downtown Milwaukee, has already built 408 apartments at Drexel Town Square. CEO and founder Rick Barrett was in the room in January 2013 when Oak Creek officials unveiled the Drexel Town Square redevelopment plan. Since that time, he’s seen rental rates for Oak Creek apartments climb from under $1 per-square-foot, to $1.50 or more.

“It’s a flourishing multi-family marketplace,” Barrett said. “We’ve been consistently at 95% occupied. We’ve been very happy with the renewals, the renewal rates have been robust. Being a part of Drexel Town Square has been the defining factor.”

The new apartments would be in two buildings. One with 100 apartments could stand six stories tall on land between Barrett Lo’s existing Emerald Row apartments and the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin health center.

A larger building with 299 apartments is planned for more than 7 acres Barrett Lo Visionary owns west of the Woodman’s grocery store adjacent to Drexel Town Square. That building would have a larger footprint, and would likely stand four stories tall, Barrett said.

Both buildings would have swimming pools.

Barrett said he intends to break ground in the first half of 2024. He said he hopes to coordinate the construction of the two buildings to find “the best and fastest way to build it.”

Oak Creek’s Common Council on Tuesday approved a term sheet to provide up to $14.9 million in city financial help.

—Milwaukee Business Journal

Green Bay was ranked the #1 best place to live of the 150 most populous U.S. metro areas in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2023-2024 rankings, released Tuesday.

“Home to one of the most storied football franchises in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers, Green Bay has the perfect mix of big-city amenities complemented with a Midwestern, small-town feel. This city boasts a thriving entertainment and arts scene, revitalized downtown, and two college campuses, creating an energy that may appeal to young families as well as retirees,” U.S. News & World Report says.

In the U.S. News rankings, Green Bay ranked near the top for quality of life while having the third-lowest housings costs out of the largest 150 U.S. metro areas. Click here to read more about what the publication has to say about why Green Bay tops its rankings of Best Places to Live.

Green Bay ranked just ahead of Huntsville, Alabama (2); Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina (3); Boulder, Colorado (4) and Sarasota, Florida (5).

Milwaukee ranked 65th on the list, just behind Atlanta at 64th.

“Historical architecture stands as a tribute to Milwaukee’s past, while the metro area vibrates from the construction of a changing skyline and with the energy of its nearly 1.6 million residents,” U.S. News & World Report says. “Cranes, which have become common fixtures on the skyline, are a picture of Milwaukee’s modernization. Young people are drawn to Milwaukee’s blue-collar roots, relatively low cost of living and exciting new development. Milwaukee has a bustling nightlife, award-winning restaurants, lakefront museums, and a thriving music and arts scene.”

—Biz Times

Wisconsin will soon join the ranks of elite women’s soccer, with the state’s first professional team set to kickoff in 2025.

Forward Madison FC announced it had secured rights to the USL Super League team Tuesday — with plans to play at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.

The nearly 100-year-old stadium is already home to a Division III USL League One men’s soccer team, which had its inaugural season in 2019.

Vern Stenman is the president of Big Top Sports & Entertainment which manages Forward Madison FC and the Madison Mallards. At a Tuesday press conference, he said plans to bring women’s soccer to Madison have been in the works for years.

“We think the potential of this league and of this community and of this state is significant, and something that we can really build an interesting national and internationally-known story right here at Breese Stevens Field,” he said.

But making the stadium home to a top-tier team will take significant improvements to the facility. A major renovation would be required to add women’s locker rooms, additional seating for fans and new turf. The team would also need access to a year-round training facility with a full indoor soccer field — somethign Dane County doesn’t currently have. Estimates on the cost of upgrades were not yet available.

—WI Public Radio

A super PAC has launched to help Mike Pence in his ambition to be president. “Committed to America” PAC executive director is a former Brian Kemp strategist who plans to use the governor’s playbook in a national race.

The new PAC can raise unlimited donations and can set the stage for Pence’s run for president. It is expected to begin building infrastructure in key primary states soon, along with running television ads.

Pence has not made a formal announcement one way or the other on if he is going to run. He is making all the moves, though, that a candidate would make leading up to a campaign launch. He’s written a book and done the book tour across the country. He’s regularly doing interviews on television and coyly saying a decision will come soon.

—Hot Air

While people might assume suicide is more common in the darker months of winter, it actually peaks in spring and early summer.

Researchers investigating what’s happening have found that suicidal thoughts peak in December but then take a few months to reach a “tipping point.” People are also most vulnerable to ending their lives between 4 and 5 a.m., according to a new study.

“It is well documented that winter is the time when people with mental health problems may struggle with worsening mood and depression. Indeed, seasonal affective disorder is a recognized issue related to the change in season that affects many people’s mental health,” said study co-author Brian O’Shea. He is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

It may seem surprising that spring, when someone might assume people’s moods lift, is actually a time of greatest risk, he said in a university news release.

“The reasons for this are complex, but our research shows that suicidal thoughts and mood are the worst in December and the best in June,” O’Shea said.

“Between these two points, there is a heightened risk of suicidal behavior, and we feel this is occurring because the gradual improvements in their mood and energy may enable them to plan and engage in a suicide attempt,” he explained.


The Vatican is reviewing claims of a “miracle” at a Catholic church in Connecticut after parishioners reported that Communion hosts mysteriously multiplied at a March Mass.

The Archdiocese of Hartford investigated the claims at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Thomaston and is sending the results to the Holy See in Rome.

The reported miracle occurred at a March 5 Mass, when a parishioner assisting with Communion reported that there was a shortage of hosts — wafers used during the ritual to symbolize the body of Jesus Christ — only to then find there were plenty.

“God has duplicated himself in the ciborium,” said the Rev. Joseph Crowley, who oversees the congregation, referring to the type of container used to hold the hosts. “It’s really, really cool when God does these things, and it’s really, really cool when we realize what he’s done.”

After the incident, Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair told reporters he appointed a priest well-versed in church law to look into the reported miracle.

The bishop said he would decide whether to involve the Vatican.

—NY Post

This wedding space is truly out of this world.

If the thought of nuptials on Earth sounds a little boring, a space travel company wants to give you the opportunity to get hitched at a venue looking down on the third rock from the sun instead.

The company, called Space Perspective, is offering couples an unforgettable way to say “I do” — putting lovers into orbit using a carbon-neutral balloon with giant windows to make the most of the ultimate view of planet Earth.

According to Jane Poynter, the co-founder of Space Perspective, the waiting list to get married amongst the stars is already light-years long.

“We’ve already had people wanting to be the first marriage in space, so we’ll see who is the first.”

The company assured its spacecraft, Neptune, offers a gentle experience for newlyweds.

Neptune will lift people off the ground at 12 mph, making the spaceflight essentially safe for anyone that can fly on an Earth-bound airplane.

According to the website, Spaceship Neptune is lifted to space by the company’s SpaceBalloon and is propelled by renewable hydrogen — with no rockets and none of the associated carbon footprint.

Those balloons carry Neptune capsules, which the couples can sit in and take in the beauty of Earth from above.

Couples wanting to experience the unique wedding destination can join the waitlist on Space Perspective’s website for late 2024.

However, you may need to rethink that wedding budget — prices start at $125,000 per seat.

—NY Post


New York City seems like a gag that’s gone too far. “First, we’ll release all the criminals because too many black bodies are in prison! Then we’ll denounce the police as Nazis and refuse to prosecute any suspects they arrest. The city will be overrun with violent criminals — raping robbing, assaulting and killing at will… But if anyone steps up to protect the citizenry from the mayhem that’s been intentionally inflicted on them, well, gentleman, then we’ll prosecute the hell out of that douchebag.”

This is exactly how things are playing out right now with twenty-four-year-old Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who subdued a deranged lunatic on the F train at the Broadway-Lafayette Street station in Manhattan on May 1.

According to witnesses, Jordan Neely, a thirty-year-old homeless man was pacing madly, and throwing trash at passengers trapped in a hermetically-sealed subway car with him. He said he did not mind “going to jail or getting life in prison” and was “ready to die.” (Enjoying your commute, New Yorkers?)

The ex-Marine quietly stepped behind the kook and put him in a chokehold to hold him for the police and protect everyone on that subway car. Neely struggled so much that two other men had to help secure him. Alas, Neely died in the skirmish.

In response to his death, a lot of ugly people held protests, demanding “justice” for the darling psychotic. We’re supposed to be impressed that Neely hadn’t punched anyone on the subway car yet. He was merely throwing garbage and threatening to hurt them.

Among Neely’s forty-plus arrests, Neely punched a man on a subway platform in May 2019, breaking his nose. This was New York City, so a month later, he was still roaming the streets, and cold-cocked a sixty-seven-year-old man. Then in 2021, Neely decked a sixty-seven-year-old woman, hitting her so hard he broke her nose and fractured her orbital bone.

Neely’s admirers say that he’s mentally ill, but I notice that he was sane enough to keep choosing elderly people to attack.

And now our brave Marine has been indicted by Alvin Bragg for finally putting an end to Neely’s one-man crime wave — something Bragg’s office steadfastly refused to do. Penny protected every person in that subway car. So now he’s got to pay.

—Ann Coulter

Nothing moves the electorate more than kitchen table issues like education, health, crime, and the ability to stay financially secure. We have repeatedly shown that the Biden administration and its Democratic allies have failed America miserably on the economy and crime.

Now, there is substantial evidence that America’s children are falling behind in basic skills such as reading and history. While Glenn Youngkin made it to the Virginia governor’s mansion by skillfully addressing parent grievances over how schools over-emphasize the teaching of race, racism, and American history, the national GOP can run a winning campaign on far broader themes: the Democrats are failing our children and the GOP has a Contract-With-America type solution to tackle the issue.

Covid policies pushed forward by the administration, supported vigorously by the teachers’ unions, resulted in extended school lockdowns and remote learning. In 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S. Department of Education agency, conducted a special administration of the long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for students aged nine years. The goal was to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Average scores declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. The collateral damage to children spending an entire year at home without engaging in in-person learning or school-based extracurricular activities, which help build student character, has been profound.

Failing schools is a systemic national security issue that years of ever-increasing budgets and woke policies have failed to address. In a world where A.I. tools could effectively render many white-collar professions obsolete and America’s illegal migrant problem, which adds millions of impoverished, non-English speaking students to school rolls, adequate academic preparation for today’s youth is essential. It is the only way America can compete against China and the BRICS nations to maintain its Superpower status.

The GOP should seize the education issue and present realistic solutions for 2024. It can likely be a huge winner, just like crime.

— tippinsights

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1954 lawyer Thurgood Marshall scored a landmark victory as the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

One thought on “NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, May 17, 2023

  1. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (05/22/2023) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s