A couple of weeks ago, I was taken aback when a long-time supporter of the Forum wondered aloud to me whether our efforts to collect, analyze, and disseminate policy data are worth the effort. It's not that she discounted the quality of our work, but that she questioned its value given her skepticism that today's policymakers pay any attention to data when formulating their policy positions.
Forum transit research sparks County action
A primary recommendation of our March 2015 report, "Picking Up the Pace," was for Milwaukee County to consider developing bus rapid transit (BRT) services in the east-west corridor and potentially elsewhere in the region. In early June, reflecting our recommendation, County Executive Chris Abele announced a plan to pursue a new BRT service that would connect our region's two largest employment centers - Downtown Milwaukee and the Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa - and also serve many residential, business, and entertainment destinations.
Read the report and media coverage...
Marijuana research informs Council debate
Our May report on marijuana policy in Milwaukee found that few individuals cited for first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana spend time behind bars for failure to pay, though jail time for subsequent offenses is much more common. It also explored how other cities have changed their marijuana policies and found a range of options for local policymakers to consider. Our research was cited repeatedly on the floor of the Milwaukee Common Council when aldermen approved a measure to lower fines for first-time possession and adopted a change that will allow the City to make greater use of municipal citations for subsequent offenses.
A follow-up report will dive deeper into justice system data to examine the societal and fiscal impacts of Milwaukee's existing marijuana legal paradigm and where (if at all) potential change might be most appropriate.
Read the report and media coverage...
Recreation, entertainment and culture calculator
Have you created your own plan yet for how our region should fund our cultural and entertainment assets? The Forum partnered with Marquette Law School to launch an interactive website that encourages citizens to do just that. At a law school event moderated by Mike Gousha, we demonstrated for the audience how to use the interactive website to propose a funding plan, select revenue options, and complete and share a funding proposal for various recreation, entertainment, and cultural assets.
Over 400 people gathered to honor this year's Salute to Local Government award winners. The 23rd Salute recognized local governments and partners for innovation, partnership and cooperation, as well as individuals in government for excellence and lifetime achievement. View the awardee videos and check out photos from the event.
Over 200 people attended the Forum's May Viewpoint on "How Does Milwaukee's Downtown Measure Up to its Peers?" National economic development consultant Rob Hunden presented a report commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee and Milwaukee Downtown that compares Downtown Milwaukee's entertainment and hospitality offerings with those of 10 peer cities. A reaction panel of local stakeholders followed. View the video and event photos.
New faces at the Forum
Mandy Potapenko, Director, Community Justice Council
Since 2010, the Forum has housed the Director's position for the Milwaukee Community Justice Council, which works to facilitate collaboration among Milwaukee County, City of Milwaukee, and State of Wisconsin justice system agencies. Mandy was most recently with Safe & Sound and has almost almost 10 years of public safety and criminal justice experience. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Mandy replaces Nate Holton, who left to take a position earlier this year with Milwaukee County Executive Abele.
Mitch Harris, Graduate Intern
Mitch is a graduate student in the urban planning program at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. He holds two bachelor degrees in Economics and Political Science from Arizona State University. Mitch is working on our annual property value and tax report and ongoing research on marijuana policy.
Ben Binversie, Undergraduate Intern
Ben is a student at Grinnell College pursuing a double major in History and Spanish with a concentration in Policy Studies. During the summer, Ben is working on our annual schooling report and North Shore Fire Department evaluation.
The Forum was frequently featured in different media outlets in the 2nd quarter of 2015. Check out what you missed!
Forum staff presented to the following organizations
Bader Philanthropies Board
City of Milwaukee Public Safety Committee
Greater Milwaukee Committee
Marquette Graduate School of Education
Menomonee Valley Partners & Near West Side Partners Boards
Milwaukee Athletic Club Roundtable
Milwaukee County Economic & Community Development Committee
On the Issues with Mike Gousha
REAMP Transportation Committee
Schools That Can Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Urban Planning
Welcome new Forum members!