'Need to figure out a way where we all win:' City leaders try to salvage plan to host 2024 RNC

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Discussions continue between city alders and the RNC host committee over a contract to host the event, but no significant progress seems to be made a day after a Common Council committee called for more funds to be raised to go directly to city government.

The Steering & Rules Committee on Wednesday, May 25 did not vote on a contract that is needed in order for the GOP to pick Milwaukee. Instead, an amendment was introduced, asking the host committee to raise $6 million more to go directly to city government for things like housing, education and workforce development.

"I don't think it's asking for too much," Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa said Wednesday after the committee returned from closed session. "I chose this number $6 million based on what has been historically left to other host cities."

The concern from alders is over how the current tax structure would see most tax money produced in Milwaukee during the four-day event go to the state, rather than the city.

"I want to get to a 'yes,'" Ald. Bob Bauman told reporters after the meeting. "I think the city needs a better deal. I think we need to get some revenue out of this for the city directly that enables us to pay for all the public services we're required and obligated to provide and the current deal provides us no revenue."

Bauman noted these negotiations will continue but hopes it is recognized how the state Republican Party's treatment of Milwaukee has led to this decision.

"The state Legislature has been overtly hostile to the financial interests and the financial needs of the city of Milwaukee since 2010 and now they want us to roll out the red carpet to a group that has been overtly hostile," Bauman said. "So, would I cry a tear if they didn't come to Milwaukee? Absolutely not."

But others are worried the ask for $6 million more will derail the deal.

"I have to look at it in terms of the economic benefit that will derive to the rest of our citizens," Ald. Michael Murphy said Wednesday. "So I certainly respect Alderwoman Zamarripa's motion to ask for additional funding, but based on what I've been told, that will kill the deal."

Other city leaders hope the deal can avoid being killed.

"We need to figure out a way where we all win here," Carnevour and 3rd Street Market Hall co-owner Omar Shaikh told CBS 58 Thursday, May 26.

Shaikh is a leader in the city's hospitality industry and said while he understands alders' concerns over a lack of direct revenue for city government, he believes the opportunity to host the 2024 RNC is too good to pass up.

"We got to think about the people, about the businesses, about the 50,000 people in hospitality workers that are going to be affected here where we've been decimated over the last two years," Shaikh said. "Hospitality has been hurting for two years, this would be a massive shot in the arm for us."

Mayor Cavalier Johnson remains confident the full Common Council will vote to approve the contract.

"We will continue our discussions with the Council members," Johnson communications director Jeff Fleming said in a statement to CBS 58. "This convention will bring financial benefits to hardworking Milwaukee residents, and we are hopeful the Council will act affirmatively."

A Common Council official told CBS 58 there were no other statements on the negotiations today from Council President Jose Perez.

Perez said Wednesday he would discuss with colleagues and the host committee over how best to move forward with the contract. It will be up to Perez, as Common Council president, to decide if the resolution to approve the contract will be brought up to the Steering & Rules Committee or the full Common Council.

Gerard Randall, a member of the RNC host committee, told alders the RNC wants the contracts to be approved by Friday, June 3.

Milwaukee is a finalist along with Nashville to host the 2024 RNC.

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