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a.MKE The List: Wisconsin's 2012 Debate & Grand Avenue Mall Open House: Today’s Top Stories

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is hosting the “Wisconsin 2012 Debate: The Democratic Gubernatorial Recall Primary”. The sentinel is partnering with WTMJ, Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio for the event. All four democratic candidates for governor have agreed to participate, so that includes Mayor Barrett, Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout and Doug La Follette. The theme of the debate is “citizen voice” and the candidates will also respond to questions from journalists on the panel. The debate will stream live from Madison and will broadcast on WTMJ the night of May 4th.

Grand Avenue Mall’s Plankinton Arcade will be full for the first time in at least six years after landing two new tenants to the mall area. Those tenants include the Milwaukee Community Bicycle Project, which will repair and sell bicycles. And the other is Milwaukee Pulse, which is a brochure distributor. Both tenants are to open by May 1st. The manager of Grand Avenue Mall plans on hosting an open house tonight at 6 to showcase the ten spaces available and with hopes to attracting more tenants.

Starting in June, the park people are launching “The Oak Leaf Discovery Tour” which offers the public a chance to get a special passport stamped at 14 different stations on Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail. Each passport comes with a map of the trail, pictures and information about 14 county park locations. This program was actually started by volunteers who wanted to get more people to explore the Oak Leaf Trail and Milwaukee County Parks. The tour runs all summer long so it gives residents plenty of time to explore the 115-mile stretch of the trail.

According a recent report, Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that had “statistically significant” job losses over the past 12 months. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the state lost over 23,000 from March 2011 to March 2012. The majority, about 17,000 of those, were government jobs. The Walker Administration downplayed the jobs numbers, saying other economic indicators such as the state’s falling unemployment rate tell a positive story about Wisconsin’s economy. Mayor Tom Barrett said “Walker’s jobs record is a total failure and this is what happens when you pursue ideology instead of focusing on jobs.”

Early voting has started in Wisconsin and will continue until May 4th for the recall elections. Anyone interested in taking part in early voting can do so by going to their local, municipal clerk’s office. In-person absentee voting started this past Monday for primary elections for Governor, Lt. Governor and four Republican state senate seats. The statewide primary election will be held on May 8th. The general election will then follow on June 5th.

Yesterday the City of Milwaukee unveiled an electric vehicle charging station at Discovery World. The unveiling also came with the announcement of an alternative fuel fleet milestone by AT&T’s Wisconsin Operations, which launched a compressed natural gas vehicle fleet a few years ago. The EV charging station is one of five stations in the works around the city. Others in the works include City Center, Brady Street, Clarion Hotel-Airport and the West Side of Milwaukee.