Winners & Losers: TCD’s week in review (3/09/12)
1. Private sector jobs, general confusion
New jobs reports were released on Thursday indicating that Wisconsin added 15,700 private sector jobs in the month of January, the largest single-month increase since Gov. Walker took office. The largest gains were seen in construction and manufacturing sectors, with gains of 4,200 and 3,700, respectively. The reports also indicate that the state also lost 3,200 government jobs during that same period. New reports also show that the state had a net job loss in 2011, which is different than what was previously reported. Previous reports showed a net gain of 13,500 private sector jobs, while revised reports show a net loss of 9,700 private sector jobs. To no one’s surprise, there has been some disagreement between Democrats and Republicans in the analysis of the numbers. Seeing as much of the 2011 data has now been revised, perhaps it’s time to stop putting so much stock in the immediate assessment of these numbers. The usual suspects will still react the same way no matter what the jobs numbers are or when they’re released to the public.
In a Feb. 12 segment on UPFRONT with Mike Gousha, Gousha and WISN’s Kent Wainscott discussed the difficulty in assessing jobs numbers, with different surveys showing different results. “Here’s the real catch in all of this,” said Wainscott. “No one knows for sure the exact number of jobs being lost or created here in Wisconsin — not even the experts.”
2. Milwaukee: “Comeback City”
Forbes magazine named Milwaukee as one of 10 “Comeback Cities,” along with New Orleans, Denver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, El Paso, Minneapolis, and Arlington. Cited as reasons for these “comebacks” is higher inbound migration and fewer people leaving the city than in 2005.
3. Clean diesel buses for MCTS
New clean diesel buses are coming in Milwaukee, the first of which arrived on Thursday. This is the first wave of 136 MCTS clean diesel buses, as 55 will be delivered in 2012, and the additional 81 will arrive in 2013 and afterwords, which means in addition to diesel buses already purchased, more than half of the 420 MCTS buses will soon have low emissions. County Executive Chris Abele also announced that transit was up in 2011 for the first time in three years.
4. Wisconsin dairy farmers
Wisconsin’s dairy industry brought in 26.1 billion pounds of milk in 2011, setting a new state record. Wisconsin milk accounted for one in every eight gallons nationwide. California is still the nation’s top milk producer, with a total of 41.5 billion pounds, but their cows’ happiness still remains in question.
5. John Axford: Truthteller
Here in Wisconsin, it seems that PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rarely shows a green-lit “True” rating for anything when assessing the truthiness of statements by politicians and members of the media. Strangely enough, however, it’s Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford who got the green light this week. On his way to report for spring training, Axford, a native of Ontario, Canada, tweeted “Thank you Homeland Security for not letting my AMERICAN son into AMERICA!” Axford’s 8-month-old son, who was born in Milwaukee, was delayed in travel because he did not have a passport. In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Axford said, “Homeland Security requires passports for everybody, no matter what the age,” which is, by all accounts, “True.”
Enforcement of the new Voter ID law has been temporarily barred by Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan. In his ruling, he called it an “extremely broad and largely needless” impairment of the right to vote. This means that the new voter ID rule will not be in place for the state’s general election on April 3. A lawsuit from the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera contributed to Flanagan’s decision, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Flanagan, however, has landed in some hot water since it was brought to light that he signed a petition to recall Gov. Walker. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he will appeal Flanagan’s ruling.
2. Milwaukee area home sale prices
Average prices for homes in the Milwaukee area fell by 4.4 percent, at the same time the national average decreased by 3.1 percent. According to The Business Journal, “January’s price declines, both locally and nationwide, fit into the continuing saga of decreasing sale prices but a growing number of home sales,” and that only 18 states had price increases over that same time. The city brought forth a proposal this week to address the more than 720 foreclosed homes owned by the city, a plan that aims to turn renters into homeowners.
3. Mining legislation
Legislation set to clear the way for a massive iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin effectively ended this week as Gogebic Taconite cancelled the project within hours of the bill being voted down on Tuesday. Gov. Walker expressed his disappointment over the bill not being passed, tweeting “Private sector unions had courage to stand up for working men & women on mining; wish 17 Senators felt that way too!” and venting to Charlie Sykes. State Senator Dale Schultz (R – Richland Center), who had also proposed a compromise plan, was the lone Republican to oppose the bill, which was voted down 17-16. Democrat Robert Jauch, the representative from the region of the proposed mine, opposed the legislation. In a statement Wednesday, he said, “I am disappointed that GTAC has decided to abruptly leave Wisconsin instead of working with lawmakers to reach a compromise on responsible mining legislation. Contrary to GTAC’s statement, the Senate did not reject mining reform. The Senate simply rejected the Assembly plan and we were prepared to adopt a bipartisan mining reform proposal until the Senate Republican Leader decided to move the bill back to committee.” The mine is something that should be explored as it has the potential to be a job engine in the region, but it was clear in the debate that further discussion is necessary to determine the true impact of the proposed mine, and the unwillingness to discuss a compromise by the Governor and State Republicans is a disappointment.
4. Wisconsin children
A new study from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy says that 30 percent of children in Wisconsin live in low-income households. In addition, 41 states have better minority-family income than Wisconsin.
5. The Milwaukee Bucks
With less than a week remaining before the NBA trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks are 15-24 and have lost 10 of their last 13 games. Somehow, in the Eastern Conference, this puts them only 3 games out of the playoffs, behind the current 8-seed New York Knicks — tonight’s matchup at the Bradley Center. If the Bucks were in the Western Conference, they would be third from the bottom, ahead of only Sacramento and New Orleans. Though it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Bucks could make a run for the final spot in the Eastern Conference, in reality, the Bucks are in the absolute worst position for any NBA franchise. They’re nowhere near good enough to compete against top teams like Chicago or Miami (or even Philly or Indiana), but good enough to beat up on bottom feeders like Washington and New Jersey, preventing them from ever getting a high draft pick. The team needs to either bottom out and rebuild through draft picks, or make a move now to compete in the short term (which is highly unlikely considering the players available at this year’s deadline). Either way, it’s bad times for our beloved Bucks. Ersan can only do so much. And that’s not a sentence that should makes sense. 27 days until Opening Day.