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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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To call a special session of the Milwaukee Common Council solely to address the liquor license of a singular business that admits to missing a filing deadline is special treatment. That doesn't make the Aldermen's action wrong.

Milwaukee has its share of problems. For the purpose of perspective... 5 people were shot in Milwaukee last night ... at least 5 people whom police know of. One of the victims is a 6 year old little boy. One of the shooters is a 3 year old little girl! Three of the shooters were men in their late teens or early 20's... who accidentally shot themselves!

Yesterday the Milwaukee Common Council called a special session with a single item on the agenda. It was not, however, to address these issues of crime and violence. No. It was to make sure Bar Louie didn't have to stop serving liquor. God forbid, you say!

Okay... there is a legitimate argument that we've got a lot more serious stuff going down in this town for which our elected officials could perhaps better spend their time addressing. Schools, crime, and taxes... maybe in that order, are driving young families from the city, and eroding not only its population but its base of future leaders and productive citizens. No special session called on that!

But in fairness... what would a special session on those issues do anyway?

In further fairness... the whole deal took a matter of minutes. Our elected officials whom way pay to take care of problems of all kinds, were awakened from their August slumber (they schedule no meetings for the month) to handle a not so tall request of a good neighbor and downtown business owner.

Bar Louie... whether you go there or not... generates property taxes. It generates sales taxes... food and beverage taxes... it's part of an increasingly vital downtown entertainment district. Not to mention... it employs nearly 100 people who call Milwaukee home. Keeping that place happy and doing gangbuster business ought to be an item of importance for elected officials.

The bar messed up. It admitted it messed up by missing that deadline. It asked city leaders if they could help. They did. So the bar is back generating revenue for the city, county, and state through taxes, and putting more into the local economy by keeping people employed.

Some smaller operations have opined they may not receive similar treatment in a similar case. That may be true. That's also not necessarily unfair. Not all businesses are created equal. Some are more important to the vitality of the community than others. Not personal... just business. So Bar Louie gets away with a mistake... because yes... aldermen could justify their actions.

Just one problem... don't tell me it wasn't special treatment. It was. Just own it, and justify it.

Reporter: Alderman Vitrano, isn't the action by the common council "special treatment" for this business?

Alderman Vitrano:  "Yes, it was special treatment, although not that special. It shouldn't be too much to ask of the elected officials in Milwaukee to come to work and do something that, yes, is out of the ordinary  in order to get something done. This is a business that's important to downtown. Important for the taxes it generates... important for the services it provides... important for the people it employs.

"Certainly there are more serious issues in the City of Milwaukee, and we're working every day on those, but this was a special circumstance. It took minutes to resolve a problem... that otherwise would have taken months. I'd like to think we did well by this business, the citizens of and visitors to the City of Milwaukee. "


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