Alderman Donovan to Barrett: Prove me wrong on streetcar project

Matt Montgomery

Alderman Bob Donovan. | Photo: TODAY'S TMJ4 HD

Alderman Donovan to Barrett: Prove me wrong on streetcar project

By Matt Montgomery. CREATED Apr 19, 2012

Attached is Alderman Donovan's letter to Mayor Barrett.

MILWAUKEE- In a strongly worded letter to Milwaukee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan is challenging Barrett to prove that a majority of Milwaukee residents want the proposed streetcar project.

Alderman Donovan sent the letter to Barrett on Thursday, claiming that 70% of Milwaukee residents don't want the streetcar project, and consider it "a massive waste of public money that will serve very few residents on its 2.1-mile route in and near the downtown area."

John Mercure of Wisconsin's Afternoon News questioned Donovan about that specific number.  Donovan said that number came from people he's specifically talked to about the project.  He didn't give much further details on that number, but did turn the issue around and requested that Mayor Barrett prove him wrong about the public's support.

Donovan told John that has hasn't heard back from Barrett about the letter, but noted that the mayor should be given time to read and respond to the alderman's letter.

Also included in the letter, Donovan had a few more inquiries about the project.  First, he wants to know that if Barrett wins the gubernatorial race, will he allocate state money to help subsidize the project.  Donovan then wrote, "If your answer is 'no,' then I strongly suggest that you put the entire project on hold, as the new mayor of Milwaukee may be opposed to the entire streetcar project (and especially to its ongoing hefty operational costs."

He defended that statement to Wisconsin's Afternoon News by saying it "was the wise thing to do" because he doesn't want to straddle a new mayor with what he considers to be a cumbersome project.  Donovan believes that putting the project on hold for two months, after the recall gubernatorial election takes place, won't kill the project.  He thinks this idea would be the appropriate thing to do for the Milwaukee community with everything currently on Barrett's plate.

Donovan also requested that if the mayor pursued the project further, it should be put up to a vote. John challenged Donovan's position on this, asking why he would ask for a referendum when this is something that can be handled by elected officials.  "In certain instances, referendums have their place," argued Donovan.  "I think it is very reasonable to seek the input of residents."  Donovan added this project is a cost the could be beared by future generations, so it is crucial to get voters input.

Barrett's campaign issued this statement to Wisconsin's Afternoon News about the Donovan's letter:

"As Mayor Barrett stated on Tuesday, he is humbled and gratified he was reelected by the voters of Milwaukee for a third term with 71 percent of the vote."

There was no comment about the streetcar project.