Thursday, September 20, 2012

Selling Out

Yet another broke municipality going hat in hand to corporate America for crumbs from the table. This one happens to be mine:
If Wisconsin is open for business, as Gov. Scott Walker likes to say, Milwaukee may soon be for sale.

A Common Council committee on Wednesday endorsed a plan in which the city would consider sponsorships, advertising and even naming rights from companies or nonprofits as a way of generating new revenue. The possibilities seem endless. There are more than 1,200 trash and recycling receptacles, 3,400 city vehicles, four city parking garages, parking meters, and dozens of city-owned buildings. Not to mention 61 different recreational facilities, the Milwaukee Water Works and even websites and mobile apps. There could be ad inserts in your tax bill. Or ads on the city's official cable television channel. Is a parking meter sponsored by a towing company far behind? Or a recreational building with a Nike logo? How about vending machines sponsored by Coke or Pepsi?

Ald. Mike Murphy, who is leading efforts to get the program started, said the idea, officially called the Milwaukee Civic Partnership Initiative, could potentially generate millions of dollars of revenue.

The idea is not new. Nationwide, cities are putting up the "For Sale" sign as a way of finding new money in an era of governmental belt-tightening. In New York, the beverage company Snapple paid the city $33 million to be the official city beverage. In San Diego, the cellphone provider Sprint pays the city $50,000 a year for the right to be called the official cellphone provider of the city. In other cases, an in-kind arrangement is made. In some cities, Toyota donates vehicles used for city services.

Mark Nicolini, the city's budget director, told aldermen at the Finance and Personnel Committee that, since 2003, the city has seen a reduction of $79 million in inflation-adjusted state shared revenue, and $4.5 million in state transportation aid. In addition, the city's investments generate much less in interest than they used to.

"This holds a significant amount of potential," Nicolini said.

Under the proposed resolution, the council would have to sign off on any partnership.

"We're not going to sell our soul here," Murphy said.

Yes we are alderman Murphy, you ignorant toady, yes we are. Such passes the city once run by sewer socialism.

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