On the Wednesday of finals week, La Follette School students Bo McCready, Ian Ritz, Rocio Sanchez-Moyano, Mike Schultz and Sarah Wainscott found themselves in the middle of a construction zone on Milwaukee's Cesar E. Chavez Drive. There, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett recognized their La Follette School workshop report and its contributions to a new city program to help businesses affected by road construction.
The May 12 news conference unveiled the Public Works Support for Business Program to help nearby businesses before, during and after construction. The program is largely based on the La Follette School report, City of Milwaukee: Construction Mitigation Program. The report is one of three students produced this year for the City of Milwaukee as part of the Workshop in Public Affairs taught by Susan Yackee. The class presented their research and recommendations to city staffers on May 7. Other domestic public affairs workshop reports informed the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Legislative Council on policy issues and recommendations.
The construction report suggests that Milwaukee implement a package of services that includes public meetings, communication with affected businesses, signage, a website, and business education, all of which the city will carry out, Barrett announced May 12.
The city also plans to hire at least three program liaisons to facilitate communication, another of the students' recommendations. "We found particularly that the community liaison role was really effective in a lot of places," Bo McCready, one of the authors, told WISN 12 News after the news conference.
In addition to the mayor, the students met public works commissioner Jeffrey Mantes. "Both were friendly and appreciative of our work," says co-author Ian Ritz. "On the whole, it was a really great experience. The event was held outside of El Rey, a prominent Hispanic grocery store along Cesar Chavez Drive. They chose this location because it is a commercial district with many small, independent businesses and the roads are currently under construction. It was rewarding to go and listen to city officials talk about the program that included many of our recommendations."