Mayor eager to work with Bucks on race relations

NBA.com Staff

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he’s eager to work with Bucks president Peter Feigin to improve the city’s race relations after the NBA executive called the city the “most segregated, racist place” he has seen.

Barrett said he had a “good conversation” with Feigin on Monday, telling him, “I’m happy that you’re engaged in trying to improve our community,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“I hope we can change his feelings, but to do that, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Barrett said, adding that Feigin and the Bucks’ ownership team “seem to be a willing partner” with the city in addressing the city’s racial disparities.

Last week, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Feigin, who is from New York City, called Milwaukee the “most segregated, racist place I’ve ever experienced in my life” during a speech in Madison. He was discussing the new $500 million downtown arena’s potential for helping out a part of Milwaukee that needs it.

“It just is a place that is antiquated. It is in desperate need of repair and has happened for a long, long time. One of our messages and one of our goals is to lead by example,” Feigin was quoted as saying.

The city of 600,000 along Lake Michigan is also the country’s most segregated metropolitan area, surpassing Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit, according to a 2012 Manhattan Institute analysis of census data found.

Feigin has said the team is committed to helping Milwaukee. In May, the Bucks’ owners agreed to pay workers at the new arena at least $12 per hour by next year, and at least $15 per hour by 2023. The agreement also includes provisions to protect workers’ ability to unionize and ensure that the team hires workers from Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods.

The deal is expected to apply to about 1,000 employees, including full- and part-time workers at the arena and the team’s practice facility and parking garage.

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed bipartisan legislation in August 2015 that committed taxpayers to paying half the cost of the arena over the next 20 years in exchange for the team remaining in Milwaukee. The new arena is expected to open in 2018.