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News conf. regarding streetcar project turns into shouting match

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MILWAUKEE -- A news conference regarding the proposed streetcar project in Milwaukee turned into a shouting match (raw video below) Tuesday afternoon, May 15th between Alderman Bob Donovan, who called the news conference, and Alderman Bob Bauman, a supporter of the project.

It has been 10 months since the Milwaukee Common Council approved the streetcar plan, and tempers are still running high on the issue.

Alderman Donovan called the news conference to point out he had written a letter to Mayor Tom Barrett asking him to put the proposed streetcar project on hold. In the letter, Donovan argued if Barrett wins the upcoming gubernatorial recall election, he'd rather the new mayor have a say in what direction the project takes. He's also encouraging a referendum on the issue.

Alderman Bauman was also present at the news conference. Bauman has supported the streetcar project from the beginning. He refuted Donovan's claims that the mayor can do anything about the project at this point. Bauman says the mayor does not have the power to stop the project -- that the Common Council is the only body that could potentially stop it from proceeding.

For ten minutes, the aldermen tossed angry accusations back and forth at one another.

After Bauman's comments, Alderman Donovan asked whether his colleague thought the mayor has no influence on the council. Bauman fired back with "Bob, bring it up, introduce a resolution," indicating the idea of a referendum or putting the project on hold would be voted down once again by the Common Council. Bauman said, "let's relitigate the issue."

Donovan says the streetcar project is unpopular and he's responding to his constituents. Bauman says the project is currently moving into its final design phase.

According to the Milwaukee Streetcar website, construction on the streetcar project is set to begin in fall of 2012. Delivery of the streetcars themselves is expected to happen in summer 2013. Construction of the streetcar line would be complete and streetcar operations would begin in fall of 2014.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Milwaukee streetcar project.

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