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a.MKE The List: MPS & Discovery World Team Up & Gov. Walker Gives Keynote Address in D.C.: Today’s Top Stories

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Today the 3-day conservative political action conference kicks off in Washington D.C. It’s also known as “America’s largest gathering of Conservative leaders and activists”. House Budget Chair Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker are giving the keynote address during the conference. Both have played prominent national roles over the last year: Ryan with his plan to overhaul Medicare and Walker in his battle with public employee unions. Other speakers include Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Sarah Palin.

Demolition work for the $54 million downtown Marriott project has started. Crews will be working for the next 20 months or so on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Milwaukee Street. The project will create 200 permanent jobs and 450 construction jobs. The hotel is expected to have 200 guest rooms and suites, banquet space, a restaurant and bar. It’s set to open in mid-2013. 

MPS is teaming up with Discovery World for a new field trip program called, “Learning Journeys.” The program will bring all 6,000 fourth-grade students in MPS to Discovery World over the next three years. The goal is to engage in research and hands-on environmental projects that were designed with the help of MPS staff. The environmental projects and research align with the fourth-grade science curriculum and state content standards. The initiative is supported by a grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has had quite the week, winning three Republican contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado and pushing aside front-runner Mitt Romney. Santorum said, “I don’t stand here and claim to be the Conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the Conservative alternative to Barack Obama.” The candidates will head to Maine next and later in the month, Arizona and Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald plans on challenging thousands of signatures this week, enough to stop a recall election against him. Organizers claim to have submitted over 20,000 signatures to the Government Accountability Board and 17,000 of those signatures need to be valid to force a recall election. Three other Republican state senators are facing recall drives as well. They have until Thursday to file any challenges.

Milwaukee’s Plan Commission recently gave zoning approval for the proposed MSOE parking structure and soccer field. MSOE plans to begin construction this spring and have it finished by the end of this year. The $27.9 million project would occupy land north of East Knapp Street and West of North Broadway. The commission’s recommendation will now go before the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.