Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vrakas Just Says "No"; Bets Taken at This Window

Good morning, class. Today we demonstrate how you are being slowly bent forward toward the BOHICA position required of all residents of the State of Wisconsin. This lesson: Getting Tax Support of All Arts and Many Parks. This is Level 201. Prerequisite coursework (Overtaxation Principles and Mechanics) has just ended with the death of TPA/TABOR last April. Please pay attention, maintain order, and take good notes. An exam (heh, heh) will follow within the next three years.

To begin: it is reported that Dan Vrakas joined McReynolds (Waukesha and Racine counties, respectively) in describing the Artsy-Tax as a "non-starter."

Good for them. That will be the last of this sort of talk ever reported in the local MSM, unless McReynolds' and Vrakas' names are prefaced by such adjectives as "right-wing," "conservative," or "insulated suburbanites." (Other phrases, such as "Rich Waukesha/Ozaukee/Racine County elected officials may suffice, if artfully done.)

Now, class, look at the non-denial denials emerging from the Greater Milwaukee Committtee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce:

The group's [Greater Milwaukee Committee] president, Julia Taylor, emphasized that her organization has made no recommendation to raise a regional sales tax. This is true, of course. But the important word "yet" could be added to that quotation, as we shall see. Your class homework assignment will be to look up Julia Taylor's financial track record at the YWCA, by the way.

Taylor, of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, said the situation in Denver is different from that in Milwaukee in key ways. An acute funding crisis for cultural institutions there led to the creation of the cultural tax after a state aid cutoff...

Nicely shaped. Anybody paying attention to the "acute funding crisis" over at the Milwaukee Symphony? The Public Museum? CLASS: this is known as the "setup".

Next, Mr. Sheehy:

"I can only speak for MMAC, but we weren't proposing a seven-county tax for anything," he said. "Of all the possibilities out there, that is one of them."

So what DID MMAC propose? Does Sheehy prefer a DIFFERENT extortion?

But just to make sure the yahoos, nativists, and xenophobic Selfish Suburban Pigs get the idea, Sheehy added a couple of verses from the Apocalypse. (He knows all yahoos read the Bible...)

Sheehy said suburban communities need to determine how much they value institutions in Milwaukee County.

For an example, he said, people in Mequon and Brookfield would want to have a say if Milwaukee County decided to close or make severe financial cuts at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Mitchell Park Domes or Milwaukee Art Museum.

The End of The World Is Nigh. Would you pay $13.50 to prevent it? $22.00? (Please note, class: in the next several months, you will see pictures of CHILDREN at the Zoo, the Domes, and the Museum. Review "It's for The Children, 101" from The Economics of More Taxes.

OK, class. Let's review.

1) Over the last five years, major Milwaukee arts organizations have been having financial difficulties to one degree or another. No surprise; the Art Museum cost a LOT of money that was not budgeted, the Museum was plundered, costs for the MSO (health insurance/rent) have risen. We could go on with other organizations. There IS a problem: not enough revenue for the expenses they incur.

2) When Dan (I'm-Not-Really-a-Conservative) Finley took over the Museum, there was some noise, quickly suppressed, about a tax-based bailout. Sykes discussed it at the time, and we opined that the biggest, nastiest, scratch-spit-and-screech fight would erupt NOT over whether the tax should be imposed--but over the allocation of the money. But the fact remains that Finley brought it up. Do you REALLY suppose that Dan Finley took that job so he could lock the Museum's doors in 5-10 years? (See "Politician Survival 101" with text by Tom Ament, co-authored by Tommy Thompson.)

3) Jill Pelisek is emphatically NOT some 'fringe' crusader socialite ditz. She's a mover and shaker, and she volunteered to be the lightning-rod on this. (See Ancient History 101: and study the chapter entitled SeligStadium. Bud Selig took a lot of heat, too.)

4) The linked article has more non-denial denials than X42 on his best day. And when GMC and MMAC start non-denial denials, things are in motion.

Still making book and taking bets.

Class dismissed.

Additional homework: Begin counting MSM editorials on the topic of "Great Cities Always Have Great Arts," "Children and The Arts," and "Suburban Greed."

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