A week after Greg Monroe decided to bring his talents to Milwaukee over L.A. and New York, an even bigger decision is facing the Milwaukee Bucks in the Wisconsin legislature later this week.
The full text of the arena proposal crafted by Gov. Scott Walker, Republican legislative leaders, Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been made public and could be voted on as soon as later this week. In other words, the biggest hurdle to assuring the Bucks' future could be cleared within the next few days -- or it could be back to the drawing board.
Alas there are no guarantees, especially with Republican leaders now making it clear that they'll need Democratic support to pass measures in both the Senate and Assembly. Via Daniel Bice of the Journal-Sentinel:
In a private meeting with key players on Thursday, the Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate — both of whom back the proposal — said they don't have enough lawmakers from their party to approve the arena deal, which calls for the public to foot $250 million of the cost.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told the lobbyists, lawmakers and government officials that he will need at least three or four Democratic senators to back the proposal for it to pass his house, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.
A vote on the arena is scheduled for Monday in the Joint Finance Committee. The Senate could take up the legislation as soon as Wednesday.
The final vote is expected to be tight, though that also means that regular citizens (ie you and me) can actually make a difference. If you haven't already, be sure to head over to Save Our Bucks for a comprehensive FAQ on how you can (with minimal effort) contact your state senators and reps. Here's the most important bit:
QUICK LINK TO FIND MY LEGISLATOR: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
Q: I already called my representative. Should I do it again?
A: Yes! Call again! It reinforces the fact this issue is important to you. Additionally, the arena funding bill is now "real" and in front of them for a vote this week.
Q: Why am I making all these phone calls?
A: Constituent phone calls are vitally important. Staffers you reach at their offices are constantly relaying to the representatives what you the people are telling them. If your rep hears from even 200-300 people with a phone call that will "move the needle" with their offices.
Q: What do I say when I call?
A: Here is a suggested protocol for each call you make:
Staff Person: Hello?
You: Hi, my name is ____________, I am a voter and I live in Wisconsin. I would like to be able to publicly provide some feedback to Legislator ____________ regarding the new arena funding bill now before the legislature. Are you the right person to speak with?
Staff Person: Yes, what are your thoughts? (They will ask for your name and address to prove you are in their district. This is common practice. If they don't ask, volunteer your name/address as it tells the legislator you are a voter they represent)
You: What is Senator/Assemblyman's _____________ position on the State funding bill for the new Milwaukee arena?
Wait for their answer and follow up with this line (or something similar)
You: I would like Legislator ___________ to know that I strongly support the bill authorizing the new arena in Milwaukee. This proposal makes great economic sense for the State and I would like Legislator __________ to vote FOR the bill this week. Again, my name is _____________ and I live in the district.
Staff Person: I will relay your concerns to the Legislator. Thank you.
That's all it takes. A two-minute phone call. If you want to expound further on how much the Bucks mean to you and how it would be a travesty to blow this opportunity and allow the team to move to say Seattle, by all means do so.
Further, if you want to add that you consider this issue extremely important and it will impact how you will vote in the next election, please communicate that as well. But again be polite, clear and concise.