Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Want people to move to Milwaukee? Make it safe.

Michael J. Mathias has a solution for problems in Milwaukee. He thinks that we should move there. I actually agree. Not that I think all people of good will must move to Milwaukee, but there is no way that the city can succeed unless it can attract the middle class.

But here's the problem. As Mayor Norquist used to say, a great city cannot be built on charity. And people will not move into the city unless they believe that they are safe, that their children will be well educated, that they won't be taxed into dust and that their property values won't collapse. You can argue that they ought to have "the courage" to be "urban pioneers" in the face of these concerns or you can criticize the reluctant for being whiners who selfishly care about the well being of their family, but that won't change a thing.

I agree that a good deal of what is said about Milwaukee being unsafe is overblown (parts are), but, after almost 40 years of watching politics (I started to go nerdy at a very young age), convincing people who are concerned for their safety that they should not be is like trying to stir concrete with a blade of grass.

It seems to me that friends of the city too often forget the need to consider the impact of urban policies on making the city attractive for and friendly to the middle class.

1 comment:

jimi5150 said...

What's happening is that local communities (neighborhood groups and associations) are doing more in direct response and proactively to crime than the city and the mayor are. Meanwhile, the mayor promotes "head in the sand" type policies that have no direct effect on anything. If Milwaukee officials would, at least, make an effort, it could go a long way in settling many city residents. I agree. I think much of the crime talk is overblown. But, that doesn't mean it isn't on the minds of people. Part of being safe is feeling safe. Quality of life issues are part of that. The threat of crime can be as crippling as the crime itself. You won't bring anyone into the city unless these issues are addressed.