Tag Archives: cities

Cities struggle as big box retailers fight to minimize tax assessments

Some big-box retailers in Wisconsin have successfully challenged their tax assessments by claiming they should pay the same rate as a store that’s closed and remains vacant.

Critics say that “dark store” legal loophole could cause municipalities to raise residential taxes to make up the difference.

The legal tactic is relatively new and has some cities struggling to keep up, according to Rocco Vita, chairman of the Wisconsin Association of Assessing Officers’ Legislative Committee.

“The stores have this very polished and professional legal team that peddles a product — property tax mitigation strategies,” Vita said. “All of a sudden, this strategy is gaining power in the Midwest. It has taken people by surprise.”

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue requires property tax assessors to account for the fair market value of a property. That includes both the value of the building and its location.

Retailers have successfully argued in court that there should be no tax difference between their thriving businesses and the vacant retailers down the block, Vita said.

In one case, Menards argued in a lawsuit filed in July that the value of its store in Fond du Lac assessed by the city at $9.2 million should be no more than $5.2 million. A similar lawsuit from Target argues that Fond du Lac should reduce its taxes on the retailer by about a third, according to USA Today Network-Wisconsin.

In another case, Oshkosh was ordered to pay Walgreens nearly $306,000 in overcharged taxes, plus court fees and interest. Last summer, two similar lawsuits surfaced from Menards and Lowe’s.

Oshkosh City Attorney Lynn Lorenson said municipalities are worried that as retailers win these lawsuits, more stores will follow. The limits of the loophole are unclear, she said.

“If one type of business or one type of property gets more favorable treatment, then everybody is going to be looking at that,” Lorenson said. “They’ll say, ‘If Walgreens had success, maybe we can use a similar argument.””

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has helped draft legislation to plug the loophole, according to Curt Witynski, the league’s assistant director. The league hopes lawmakers will introduce in January.

Cities with Nativity scenes ignore takedown demands

A historic Hispanic city in New Mexico has one in the center of town on public property. A small farming community in Colorado has another outside of a public park. A Pennsylvania city refused to take its Nativity display down despite a legal threat.

Across the county, annual disputes over Nativity displays on public land have pitted local residents against advocacy groups pushing separation of church and state.

But after years of complaints, communities continue to resist demands that they remove public display celebrating the birth of Jesus from public property.

The moves come after town residents have rallied around the displays or conservative groups have offered legal assistance to keep displays up amid legal threats.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dead issue,” said Jerah Cordova, the mayor of Belen, New Mexico, where a Nativity scene artwork sits year-round and was not taken down following threats of legal action last year. “The Nativity scene not only represents the history of our town, it represents our culture.”

Belen — Spanish for Bethlehem — is a small city of 7,000 people and nearly 70 percent Latino. Last year, residents raised $50,000 for a festival in support of the Nativity display following a letter threatening legal action.

In Franklin, Pennsylvania, a city of 6,500, councilors last month voted to keep a decades-old Nativity scene in a city park after receiving an email from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The foundation has sent similar letters warning municipalities that public Nativity scenes violated the separation of church and state.

Franklin’s city councilors consulted lawyers and resolve the issue by agreeing to allow other secular Christmas decoration s in the park.

Officials in St. Bernard, Ohio, a suburban of Cincinnati, ignored a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and opted to keep in place nativity scene displayed in front of City Hall.

In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, tourists visit to see miniature replicas depict various settings of the Nativity story. That display is run by the nonprofit, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites and is not connected to the city government.

In previous years, some municipalities pulled Nativity scenes after receiving complaints from the foundation. For example, officials in Wadena, Minnesota removed its decades-old traditional Nativity scene off public property following a letter from the foundation.

Supporters and opponents of the Nativity scenes agree that municipalities are fighting harder to protect the displays.

“We are seeing more municipalities digging in after learning about their rights,” said Mat Staver, who heads the right-wing, anti-gay Liberty Counsel, which offers the municipalities advice to protect them and volunteered free legal help for Franklin, Pennsylvania.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said more cities and towns simply ignore complaints that placing Christian art on public property violates the U.S. Constitution.

In recent years, conservative Christians have vocally complained about the secularization of Christmas, said Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“We also are seeing a rural and city divide where rural areas are facing less resistance (to Nativity scenes) while there is more conflict in cities, which are more diverse,” Chesnut said.

Gaylor said some cities and towns are getting around the conflict by setting up public spaces where volunteers can erect Nativity scenes along with secular Christmas displays.

“But we don’t think putting a couple of reindeer up near a Nativity scene solves the problem,” Gaylor said.

Pressure has forced some cities to scrap plans for Nativity scene displays.

In Gig Harbor, Washington — a maritime city near Tacoma — officials blocked residents from putting up a display after getting a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. That prompted a small protest in the city of 7,000 people this week from residents who wanted a Nativity scene.

When cities and state allow the public spaces, Gaylor said the foundation tries to submit its own display. In some states, the foundation put up a Nativity scene with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the Statue of Liberty. Instead of baby Jesus in a manger, the group put in place a copy of the Bill of Rights.

In New Mexico, Cordova predicted Belen will never remove its Nativity scene.

“It’s here to stay,” he said.

 

Report: Fight for $15 wins $62 billion in raises over 4 years

The Fight for $15 marked its fourth anniversary this week with strikes, protests and civil disobedience from coast to coast. A report from the National Employment Law Project says since the movement’s launch in New York in 2012, the Fight for $15 has won nearly $62 billion in raises.

 

“The Fight for $15’s impact towers over past congressional action because it has been propelled by what workers need — not what moderate compromise might allow,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in a news release. “As a result, workers have been fighting for and winning much bigger raises for much more of the workforce than ever before.”

The NELP analysis quantifies the impact of the Fight for $15. Some key findings:

• Since the Fight for $15 launched in 2012, underpaid workers have won $61.5 billion in raises from a combination of state and local minimum wage increases from New York to California and action by employers ranging from McDonald’s to Walmart to raise their companies’ minimum pay scales. This includes the additional annual income that workers will receive after the approved increases fully phase in.

  • Of the $61.5 billion in additional income, two-thirds is the result of $15 minimum wage laws that the Fight for $15 pressed for in California, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, SeaTac and Washington, D.C.
  • At least 19 million workers nationwide will benefit from raises sparked by the Fight for $15.
  • 2.1 million workers won raises in November, when voters approved minimum wage ballot initiatives in Arizona ($12 by 2020), Colorado ($12 by 2020), Maine ($12 by 2020), Washington State ($13.50 by 2020), and Flagstaff, Arizona ($15 by 2021).

The raises sparked by the Fight for $15 are beginning to reverse decades of wage declines that have resulted in 43 percent of the workforce, or 60 million workers, being paid less than $15 per hour.

Across the United States, the median wage rose 5.6 percent last year, the largest increase since at least the 1960s, according to the report.

Milwaukee’s domes on endangered places list

Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes are on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.”

Each year, the trust unveils a list spotlighting important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

More than 270 sites have been on the list over its 29-year history, but the designation appears to help protect the sites. In 29 years, fewer than 5 percent of listed sites have been lost.

The trust said its latest list includes historic places in urban areas “at a time when cities across the nation are experiencing a resurgence.”

Millions of Americans are choosing to relocate to urban areas, with many opting to live in distinctive, character-rich older and historic neighborhoods. Preservation in these neighborhoods is playing a key role in this trend of “reurbanism.”

So, with its 2016 list, the trust is highlighting the importance of adaptability and preservation of historic buildings.

A look at the 11 sites and what the trust has to say about them:

  • Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes at Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservator on Layton Boulevard, a beloved Milwaukee institution for generations, a unique engineering marvel and a highly significant example of midcentury modern architecture, the domes are facing calls for their demolition.
  • Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita Neighborhoods of El Paso, Texas, centers of Latino community life for more than a century, these neighborhoods are experiencing increased demolition.
  • San Francisco’s Embarcadero District, one of the nation’s most beloved historic areas, the Embarcadero must adapt to the threats of seismic vulnerability and sea-level rise.
  • The Sunshine Mile in Tucson, Arizona, an architecturally rich commercial corridor populated by smaller-scale mid-century buildings, many of which could be lost if a new transportation plan moves ahead.
  • Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin, Texas. Widely regarded as the first municipal golf course in the South to desegregate, “Muny” is a civil rights landmark facing development pressure.
  • Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University, Lincoln, Pennsylvania. The oldest building on the campus of the first degree-granting institution in the nation for African Americans, the hall currently stands empty and faces an uncertain future.
  • Bears Ears in Southeastern Utah. The 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears cultural landscape features an excellent collection of archaeological sites, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and ancient roads that illuminate 12,000 years of human history. The area is threatened by looting, mismanaged recreational use and energy development.
  • Charleston Naval Hospital District, North Charleston, South Carolina. The historic district played a prominent role during World War II as a primary re-entry point for American servicemen injured in Europe and Africa. Now threatened by a proposed rail line, the district is at risk of being largely destroyed.
  • Delta Queen, Houma, Louisiana. This steamboat was built in 1926 and today is among the last of its kind. Federal legislation that would enable the ship to return to overnight passenger cruising remains a key piece to securing the Delta Queen’s sustainability and future.
  • Historic Downtown Flemington, New Jersey. Historic buildings at the core of the town that hosted the “Trial of the Century.” the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial, are threatened by a development proposal that would demolish the Union Hotel, along with three other adjacent historic buildings.
  • James River, James City County, Virginia. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape, also named to this list by the Trust in 2013, remain threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.

“For nearly 30 years, our list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has called attention to threatened one-of-a-kind treasures throughout the nation and galvanized local communities to help save them,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s list elevates important threatened historic places in our nation’s cities at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.”

She continued, “We know that preservation is an essential part of the current urban renaissance and that old buildings contribute to the sustainability and walkability of our communities. Historic buildings are also powerful economic engines that spur revitalization, meet a broad range of human needs and enhance the quality of life for us all. With thoughtful and creative policy approaches and tools, we can tap the full potential of these important places and secure a foundation for a stronger and more vibrant future.”

Update on Oct. 12 …

The Mitchell Park Domes Task Force was to meet for the first time on Oct. 12 to discuss the future of the structures.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors established the 11-member task force to develop a comprehensive long-term plan for the domes.

The task force is chaired by William H. Lynch, a local attorney, and includes County Board Supervisors Peggy A. West, in whose district the Domes are located, and Jason Haas, chair of the County Board’s Parks Committee.

The task force also includes John Dargle, director of the Milwaukee County Parks Department, and several representatives from community organizations.

The domes were closed earlier this year due to concerns about the potential of crumbling concrete to create a safety hazard for visitors, according to a news release that announced the task force meeting.

 

Early voting strongest in Wisconsin’s Democratic counties

About 1 in 3 absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin so far have come from the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties, giving Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign a reason to be optimistic about its chances here.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, in a conference call with reporters on Thursday, singled out Dane and Milwaukee counties as places around the country where early voting turnout was strong.

Wisconsin voters do not register by party, so it’s impossible to know whether more Republicans or Democrats are voting early. But high turnout in Madison and Milwaukee, the state’s two largest and most Democratic cities, is essential for Clinton’s campaign and that of Senate candidate Russ Feingold.

Numbers compiled by the state Elections Commission show that as of Friday, 70,740 absentee ballots have been returned statewide. Of those, 22,511 were from either Milwaukee or Dane counties, or about 31 percent of the total cast statewide. By comparison, in the heavily Republican suburban Milwaukee counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington, only 6,420 early votes have been cast.

In-person absentee voting hasn’t started yet in many Republican parts of the state. But even when counting only mailed-in absentee ballots, about twice as many have been returned in Milwaukee and Dane counties compared with Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties.

Gov. Scott Walker on Friday downplayed the early returns, saying that given the unconventional campaign Donald Trump is running, “it’s hard to tell if conventional trends will be in line.” Walker said he was confident that grass roots organizing by Republicans will drive strong turnout for GOP candidates.

Walker referred to the unconventional nature of the Trump campaign the day The Washington Post broke the story about a videotape in which Trump made lewd and vulgar comments about groping women and trying to have sex with a married woman. At the time, he already was married to his current wife.

Milwaukee and Madison began offering in-person absentee voting on Sept. 26 after a federal judge ruled in July that a two-week limit on voting early was unconstitutional. Other smaller cities, towns and villages have also been allowing voters to cast ballots weeks ahead of the election. Still others will begin or expand early voting opportunities in the next three weeks.

Clinton’s and Feingold’s campaigns have been making a push in recent days for early voting in Wisconsin, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren coming to the state for get-out-the-vote drives. Feingold appeared with Sanders on Wednesday and he planned to attend a downtown Madison rally with Warren on Friday. Former President Bill Clinton was expected to campaign in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Trump and Feingold’s opponent, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, have also been encouraging their supporters to get to the polls early. Trump had scheduled a campaign stop Saturday in southeast Wisconsin, where he was to be joined by Johnson, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Walker and other Republican officeholders and top officials. However, Ryan said on Friday that he was sickened by the tape containing Trump’s comments about women and Trump would not be joining him at the event.

Early voting opportunities vary across the state. Green Bay, where people lined up to cast ballots in the April presidential primary and there is an open congressional seat, has only one location for early voting open at the city clerk’s office downtown. That has generated complaints from Democrats who want early voting to also be available on the University of Wisconsin campus about 5 miles away.

City clerk Kris Teske has said she doesn’t have the staff or budget to expand hours and locations.

Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now has pushed for expanding early voting in Green Bay and other cities, including Kenosha and Racine. Scot Ross, director of the group, said it was “unfortunate” that early voting hours and locations are so haphazard across the state.

“Everybody should have as long of a period to vote as possible,” Ross said.

Madison and Milwaukee plan on expanded early voting locations. Milwaukee has had just one voting location since Sept. 26, but two more sites open Monday. Eleven polling places are open in and around Madison, with three to open later in October at the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College.

Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee elections commissioner, said he wasn’t surprised that the first 10 days of early in-person voting resulted in only about 3,200 ballots cast in his city. In Madison, about 4,800 people had voted in-person absentee by Thursday morning.

As of Friday, more than half of the early votes cast so far — about 38,793 out of 70,740 — have been done in person. In 2012, more than 512,000 people cast in-person absentee ballots statewide in the presidential race out of about 659,000 absentee ballots in total.

What’s in a name? Ask the folks in Two Egg, Florida

What came first, the Chicken or the Egg — or make that the Two Egg?

The answer is the Alaska town of Chicken came before the Florida town of Two Egg, by about 30 or so years.

But they are neither first nor last in the country’s long list of odd-named places. In Pennsylvania you’ll find Intercourse, Virginville and Blue Ball. In Louisiana, if you’ve had too much of Moonshine, you can always visit Cut Off.

The list goes on: Weed, California; Uncertain, Texas; Eek, Alaska; Butts County, Georgia and oh so many more.

For some, like Santa Claus, Indiana, the name has created a major tourist industry. Others, like Two Egg, are dots on the map that get the occasional visitor curious about the name, but offer little besides a road sign — and even the sign often went missing until it was riveted in place.

“It used to be one of the most stolen signs in the state of Florida,” said Marcus Pender, whose grandfather owned a gas station and general store where trading eggs for goods led to the town name. “I even got a couple myself in the day.”

Here’s background on a few peculiarly named places in the United States:

TWO EGG, FLORIDA

Located about 70 miles northwest of Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, Two Egg is a small farming community where people used to trade eggs for goods at the general store. “People would come in and trade two eggs for meat and cheese,” said Pender. The store is no longer open, but people can still buy Two Egg cane syrup at a farm down the road. Details: http://www.twoeggfla.com .

CHICKEN, ALASKA

Doug Devore runs a website devoted to this small mining town near the Canadian border. He says in 1902, locals planned to call the town Ptarmigan after a chicken-like bird they often ate. But they worried people would spell ptarmigan wrong, so they named it chicken instead. Most visitors stop here on tour buses headed elsewhere, but some people make a special trip. “There are some people who are just obsessed with weird town names,” Devore said. Details: http://www.chickenalaska.com .

SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA

Melissa Brockman, executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau, says Santa Claus was supposed to be named Santa Fe, but another Indiana town already had that name. The story goes that in the 1850s, families gathered to come up another name on a snowy Christmas Eve. Sleigh bells were heard outside and children shouted, “Santa Claus!” And so the town was named. Santa Claus has fewer than 2,500 people and no fully operating traffic signal, but 1 million people visit each summer and hundreds of thousands of requests arrive in December from people who want their Christmas cards postmarked “Santa Claus.” Details: http://www.santaclausin.com .

UNCERTAIN, TEXAS

Stories vary about how this Louisiana border town got its name, says Randie Canup, owner of the Hoot ‘n Holler guest cottage. One is that when the city applied for incorporation, it hadn’t picked a name, so “uncertain” was written on the form and it stuck. But Canup thinks the true story dates to the 1800s, when a steamship delivered goods to Caddo Lake ports. Shipping labels often peeled off in the humidity, and those boxes were marked “uncertain” and left at the final stop _ which became known as Uncertain. With a population of about 100, tourists far outnumber residents. Cell phone coverage and Internet access are spotty but there’s fishing, birding and scenery. “When people come here, some of what they do is nothing. They just want the quiet,” Canup said. Details: http://www.cityofuncertain.com/index.shtml .

BUTTS COUNTY, GEORGIA

The town is named for Capt. Samuel Butts, who died in 1814 during the Creek War. A radio station owner tired of people cracking jokes about the county suggested a name change at some point but local business owner Henry Kitchen started a “Save Our Butts” campaign with T-shirts and bumper stickers. With the name now safe, a popular bumper sticker reads “Keep Our Butts Clean.” The water tower welcoming visitors driving in from I-75 proclaims “BEAUTIFUL BUTTS.” Details: https://buttscountyga.com .

WEED, CALIFORNIA

Abner Weed ran a lumber mill at the base of Mount Shasta in 1897, and thus the city’s name. That doesn’t make it immune to marijuana jokes _ there are tons of “I Love Weed” souvenirs to be found around town. Even the local brewery, Mt. Shasta Brewing Company, plays it up — and got in trouble when the federal government objected to bottle caps that read “A Friend in Weed is a Friend Indeed. Try LEGAL Weed.”

3 in 10 gay men have HIV in some Southern cities

Three out of every 10 gay or bisexual men in several Southern cities have been diagnosed with HIV, three times the national rate, according to a study about how common HIV infections are in metro areas.

The study echoes other research that reported higher rates of HIV diagnoses in the South but it is the first to look at how common HIV diagnoses are in these men by city.

“For the first time, we can see not only the numbers, but the proportions,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report found 21 of the 25 metro areas with the highest levels of HIV diagnosis in gay and bisexual men were in the South.

HIV was diagnosed in about three in 10 gay and bisexual men in El Paso, Texas; Augusta, Georgia; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In Jackson, Mississippi, the rate was four in 10, the highest in the nation.

According to the report, about 11 percent of gay and bisexual men had been diagnosed living with an HIV infection nationwide during the time covered by the study.

Emory University researchers produced the new numbers using national counts of HIV diagnoses in different communities. Lacking good census counts of sexually active gay and bisexual men, they used data from previous studies to calculate how many men had sex with other men.

In its look at metro areas, the study counts only those who have tested positive for HIV.

Because many HIV cases are not diagnosed, those numbers don’t reflect how common HIV infections really are in each area. It’s also not clear what factors may vary from city to city that might explain differing rates.

Still, while the largest total numbers of gay and bisexual cases are in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, this research gives a better understanding that the chance of encountering partner living with HIV is far greater in some smaller communities, some experts said.

The research was released through an obscure publication, the Journal of Medical Internet Research. CDC officials described the work as important and useful in deciding how to target HIV prevention funds.

On the Web

The CDC.

The journal.

Wisconsin Senate scraps water privatization vote

Despite a push from private water companies, Senate Republicans failed to reach a consensus on a bill that would have made it easier to privatize water systems in the state.

The measure was pulled and no floor vote took place earlier this week.

The measure, which had passed in the Assembly, was opposed by union members, environmentalists, municipal water and sewer operators, local cities and citizens from across the state.

And opponents made their voices heard.

“Legislators should use what’s left of the legislative session to focus on creating good jobs and economic opportunities for Wisconsin, not on making it easier for out-of-state corporate interests to gobble up Wisconsin’s municipal water systems,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  “This appalling power grab by corporate interests was stopped by the voice of the people.  Union members sent thousands of messages to lawmakers around the state to express dismay and disappointment with privatizing our water utilities without citizen say. Democracy worked as it should, the people spoke out and their representatives listened.” 

“Water is a source of life, not profit,” added Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  “With the legislative session winding down, this bad bill should stay buried. Together, union members, environmentalists, municipal sewer and water operators and local cities we were able to sound the alarm, raise a red flag and protect Wisconsin’s water services as a public good and human right.”

Wisconsin elections board pushes voter ID information

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board is pushing to inform people about new voter photo ID requirements with less than two weeks left before the spring primary.

The board held a news conference on Feb. 1 to re-launch its “Bring It to the Ballot” campaign, which it started in 2011 when the law passed.

The photo ID requirement was in effect for the first time during the 2012 spring primary election, but a court soon halted its implementation due to ongoing legal challenges. It will take full effect this year, starting with the Feb. 16 primary.

Republicans introduced the voter ID requirements as part of an effort to discourage voting among demagraphic groups that tradionally vote Democratic. The GOP has also scaled back on popular early voting programs and reduced the number of polling sites.

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy says the board spent about $700,000 in 2011 and 2012 to develop videos, brochures and radio ads.

This year, however, legislators didn’t provide funding for the campaign, because the law was on hold.

Republicans have voted to get rid of the accountability board because it investigates political corruption.

Surveying singles in the city

The number-crunchers and trend analysts at WalletHub say they have a formula for rating the best — and worst — cities for singles. Their study of the 150 most populated U.S. cities shows Madison at No. 15 for singles and Milwaukee at No. 89.

Salt Lake City came in at No. 1, followed by Orlando, Florida; Tempe, Arizona; Atlanta; Scottsdale, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Reno, Nevada; Cincinnati and San Francisco to complete the top 10.

The bottom included Hialeah, Florida; North Las Vegas, Nevada; Glendale, California; Detroit; Columbus, Georgia; Chula Vista, California; Oxnard, California; Aurora, Illinois; and Newark, New Jersey.

There was a method to the list-making. A city could earn as many as 50 points for “dating economics” and 50 points for “romance and fun.”

In deciding “dating economics,” points were awarded for the costs of restaurant meals, beer and wine, movie tickets, taxi fares, fitness club fees, beauty salon services and haircuts, as well as for housing costs, household income, job-growth rates and unemployment rates.

In tabulating points for “romance and fun,” the numbers of restaurants, cafes, attractions, parks, nightclubs, shopping centers and spas were considered, as well as the percentage of single people, city accessibility, crime rate and online dating opportunities.

Madison’s “romance and fun” ranking was 12 and Milwaukee’s was 71; Atlanta led in that category.

In the “dating economics” category, Madison dropped to 79 and Milwaukee ranked 81. No. 1 in that category was Gilbert, Arizona. 

Madison’s point total was 79 out of 100 and Milwaukee’s was 47.94.

WiG, via Facebook and Twitter, surveyed readers in Milwaukee and Madison and found lists such as WalletHub’s “best and worst cities for singles” are made to be bring delight, debate and dismissal.

“I think Milwaukee’s better than that number shows,” said David Reece, a happily single guy. “But maybe it depends on who you are and where you are in life.”

Reece is 57 years old and gay. “Maybe in a city it’s easier to date when you can find a small community,” he added.

College student Marsha Wills said the same of Madison. “It’s kind of like how it’s better to shop the food co-op than Walmart,” said Wills, who said she has several options for Valentine’s Day. “You know things are going to be better quality and fresher.”