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The 2021 Year in Recombobulation
Well, at least the Bucks won the Finals.
Well, here we are. Another year over. Before a new one begins, we’re going to take a look back at our Year in Recombobulation.
It was, in so many ways, a frustrating year. But it did bring us one genuine source of true collective joy: The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Finals.
So, let’s start our year in review there, in the immediate wake of the jubilation and catharsis of Milwaukee’s first championship in a half-century.
“Beyond what happened on the court, it means more that this championship happened in Milwaukee, that it happened with the Bucks, and that it happened now.
This team and this city have meant so much to each other, and maybe that’s because they have something in common: Resilience. This Bucks team embodied the resilient spirit of the city they call home. People often wonder why Giannis chose to stay in Milwaukee of all cities, and perhaps it’s because they are fueled by the same resilient fire.
Milwaukee has to be resilient. Because this city has to put up with a lot.”
Our biggest project this year at The Recombobulation Area was the “Expanding the Divide” series and our ongoing coverage of the proposed widening and expansion of the I-94 East-West Corridor and the Stadium Interchange.
First, the multi-part series:
And then, our ongoing coverage:
Our coverage of this proposed billion-plus dollar highway project was our most ambitious project yet. We hope it continues to spark conversation about the future of Milwaukee’s infrastructure, particularly on the city’s west side, where the future of the Stadium Freeway is still uncertain.
The state of Wisconsin is getting $997 million for roads and bridges through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill next year, too, and it will be important for us to keep a close eye on what’s to come in 2022.
Speaking of 2022, it’s going to be a big year on the ballot in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Between one of the most important Senate races in the nation to the most competitive race Milwaukee has seen for mayor in a generation, people are going to be casting some very important votes over the next 12 months.
So, we took a look ahead at the big races in another multi-part series.
A Preview of the 2022 Elections in Wisconsin
We now know when the election for mayor will be held in Milwaukee after Mayor Tom Barrett was confirmed as the next Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (assuming he does indeed resign by Dec. 28 and the Common Council calls the special election to coincide with the Spring Election, as everyone is expecting).
The primary will be held Feb. 15, and the top two candidates to emerge will face off in the general election on April 5. You can be sure that we will be covering this race closely here at The Recombobulation Area, so stay tuned for our coverage of the race.
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A few more notable columns in the 2021 archive:
The year began in an almost immediate crisis of democracy on Jan. 6. On Jan. 7, we called for Ron Johnson, Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald to resign following their shameful, conspiracy-driven actions to fuel or support the insurrection at the Capitol. They didn’t, of course, and not only have those responsible eluded accountability, the rest of the year saw those same election conspiracies driving incomprehensibly ridiculous sham investigations like the one being conducted by Robin Vos and Michael Gableman, and further attempts to limit legal voting. It seems cliched at this point to say that democracy is in real trouble, but especially in Wisconsin where we have a front row seat to its decline, democracy is in real trouble.
The vaccine rollout in the early part of the year brought optimism about the pandemic, and we were among the first to notice that Wisconsin’s vaccine rollout was one of the nation’s best. When the Republican-controlled state legislature finally got out of Gov. Tony Evers’ way on a pandemic-related issue, his administration delivered exceptional results.
One of our most-read columns this year was on the wonky, gnarly issue of local control – ‘Vos Costs Milwaukee Billions of Dollars’. The state legislature’s decision to deny local control to Milwaukee continues to be a thorn in the side of the state’s largest, most diverse city. We wrote about the issue once more during debates over budgets and ARPA funding – ‘The State of Wisconsin is Defunding Milwaukee’.
We also wrote columns on Joe Biden’s proposal to replace lead pipes, the ongoing Foxconn fiasco, Wisconsin’s workforce issues, and gerrymandering. State Rep. Francesca Hong wrote our first guest column.
Speaking of firsts, we held our first-ever event this year, where As Goes Wisconsin’s Kristin Brey and I hosted a Live Q&A at Boone & Crockett and rewatched Game 6 of the NBA Finals. We also unveiled a new logo and launched an online store.
And finally, 2021 is when we won our first Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards. Actually, it was our first three awards – Best Column (Online), Best Single Editorial (Writing) and Best Column (Writing). The first of many, we hope.
Thanks to all of you who have supported The Recombobulation Area this year! We are 100% reader-funded, and we are pretty proud of that. Help fund another year of recombobulation by becoming a paid subscriber, starting at just $5.
Have a safe and happy holiday, and a very happy new year. Take care of each other.
Dan Shafer is a journalist from Milwaukee who writes and publishes the award-winning column, The Recombobulation Area. He previously worked at Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business Magazine, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine, and BizTimes Milwaukee. He’s also written for The Daily Beast, WisPolitics, and Milwaukee Record. He’s on Twitter at @DanRShafer.
Follow Dan Shafer on Twitter at @DanRShafer.