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Reaction to Mayor Tom Barrett's State of the City Address

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett kicked off his state of the city address Monday talking about the new Northwestern Mutual building and the general economic growth of downtown.

"Milwaukee is changing positively and permanently," Barrett said. "As buildings rise, and opportunities grow."

UWM Professor Moredcai Lee says the downtown growth has been impressive.

"I think it's really important for us to hold in perspective what's happening in downtown Milwaukee," Lee said. "Because a lot of places in America where the downtown is full of vacant buildings, and vacant signs."

Public perception of Milwaukee's economy was more negative in the most recent Marquette poll. 28 percent of residents rated it "excellent" or "good" and 70 percent as "only fair" or "poor."

Barrett says Milwaukee needs to improve racial disparity just like the rest of the nation. Lee says Milwaukee is worse.

"We're a city with above average poverty and above average social problems," Lee said.

Milwaukee residents we're a little more positive, with more (41 %) saying race relations are "somewhat good" than any other category.

Barrett also talked about fighting lead issues. Lee says the mayor will take the heat whether it was his fault of not.

"It's the mayor who has to face the accountability of the good news, and the bad news," Lee said.

Barrett says he hopes to continue replacing lead laterals with some of the money from selling lake Michigan water to Waukesha.

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