KK River to be reengineered

October 31, 2009

By Michael Timm

84 residential properties to be acquired

Artist’s rendering of what the KK River could look like, looking west from the Ninth Place bridge toward Modrzejewski/Cleveland Park (left) and 10th Street overlook (right). Source: Kinnickinnic River Corridor Neighborhood Plan, provided by MMSD & SSCHC.

Over the next decade, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) plans to acquire approximately 84 properties near the concretized Kinnickinnic River mainstem between Sixth and 16th streets in order to reengineer the river. The $49.9 million project is designed to reduce flood risk, increase public safety, and beautify one of the nation’s most troubled rivers.

The MMSD commission unanimously approved the public acquisition plat of the first 27 residential properties at its meeting Oct. 26. MMSD officials said approximately 57 more residential properties will be made public in the coming months.

“To do the construction work, we have to take out some homes,” said Michael Martin, MMSD director of technical services, at the Oct. 19 meeting of the MMSD Operations Committee.

MMSD will formally cooperate with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM), which will oversee property acquisitions and provide relocation assistance. MMSD has approved up to $495,000 for RACM (see “Redevelopment Authority’s Role,” page 6).

The mainstem project will remove 12,000 linear feet of crumbling concrete lining the KK River between Sixth and 27th streets and expand the channel from the current 60 feet to as much as 200 feet wide. “The new channel will be bioengineered and will include a low flow stream, pools and riffles, and a connected vegetative floodway. The project will also replace five vehicle and four pedestrian bridges,” according to the Kinnickinnic River Watercourse Management Plan, updated in October.

The KK mainstem project is one of seven projects under the plan, which also includes a KK River sediment transport study, stream rehabilitation between Sixth Street and Chase Avenue, flood management projects for Villa Mann and Lyons Creek (proposing the removal of 24 structures from the floodplains of these KK tributaries), naturalization of Wilson Park Creek channel, and a recently completed project to repair storm sewer discharge pipes between 43rd and 60th streets.  »Read more

Teach for America corps at Riley

October 31, 2009

By Jay Bullock

Bilingual teacher Michael Knutson at Riley Elementary. Knutson is one of three Teach for America teachers at Riley and 38 in Milwaukee this year. ~photos Phyllis Hand

Even on a Friday afternoon, the three young people look eager, upbeat, and happy to be teachers.

Brittani Hernandez, Michael Knutson, and Tianna McCullough are all in their first year teaching at Riley Elementary School on Milwaukee’s south side. Their schedule is grueling. Not only are they teaching full-time, in that always-tough first year, but they are also taking six hours of classes a week and meeting often for help with designing lessons and assessments-all requirements of being in the Teach for America program.

Teach for America is a 20-year-old organization that places recent college graduates as teachers in hard-to-staff urban schools with the goal of expanding educational opportunity to traditionally disadvantaged populations.

“I was raised with the idea to give back to your community,” said McCullough, a Milwaukee native now teaching first- and fifth-grade special education at Riley. “And the greatest equalizer in the country is education.” The English and French major from Spelman College said Teach for America gave her an opportunity both to come back home and to be a part of that great equalizer.

~photos Phyllis Hand

Hernandez and Knutson, too, have similar stories about the origins of their own passion for teaching. They note that they had advantages and opportunities in their own schooling that they saw denied to their peers-Hernandez, for example, said she was the only Latina in her Advanced Placement classes in Wichita, Kan. “College was a steep learning curve,” she said. “Looking back, I thought I should have been challenged more.”

Knutson agreed. “I definitely saw a gap in my public education experience,” he said, describing his all-white International Baccalaureate classes in his majority-minority school. That led the St. Paul, Minn. native to want to work on closing the achievement gap after graduation from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he majored in history.

Across the country, 35,000 other college graduates came to a similar conclusion-2009 was a record year for applications to the Teach for America program. Only 15 percent of those applicants were accepted, and the program currently has 7,300 first- and second-year teachers in 35 communities nationwide.

Teach for America expanded to Milwaukee this year after getting strong support from the Milwaukee Public Schools Board of Directors, community leaders, and area teaching-preparation programs. Hernandez, Knutson, and McCullough are three of 38 Teach for America corps members in Milwaukee schools this year.

~photos Phyllis Hand

Garrett Brooks, the Milwaukee Teach for America regional director, said the program will stay in Milwaukee “long enough to make a long-term impact.” If the program’s stay in Milwaukee follows the national pattern, corps members and alumni “become a part of the community,” he said, “as teachers, principals, activists, and community leaders.”

Nationwide, nearly 450 corps alumni are now principals and leaders in many public school districts, according to the program’s promotional materials-including elected school board members and Michelle Rhee, the current chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Not every Teach for America alumnus stays with education, but most do. According to Kerci Marcello Stroud, the program’s national communications director, 61 percent of Teach for America teachers go beyond their two-year contract for at least a third year of teaching, with two-thirds staying in education long-term. National studies indicate that in urban schools like those served by Teach for America, half of all young teachers leave the profession by their fifth year; some schools see five-year turnover as high as 80 percent.

This belies one of the most common criticisms of Teach for America, that elite graduates (11 percent of graduating seniors from Ivy League schools applied for the program in 2009) use the experience as a way to burnish their resumes.

~photos Phyllis Hand

Brittani Hernandez said such concern was misplaced-though it was one she initially shared. After working with juvenile offenders as part of her political science studies at the University of Michigan, she knew she wanted to work with children, but not as part of a program that did not share her commitment. “It took me months to get my application in,” she said, for that reason. “When Teach for America does its selection, it weeds out the resume-builders,” she ultimately learned.

The Milwaukee Public Schools selected the sites for placement of Teach for America corps members. The three at Riley could not be happier to be there.

Bilingual teacher Michael Knutson said, “There are dedicated teachers and administrators at our school. Seeing the veteran teachers still there at 5:30-they’re just as dedicated as they were at the beginning.”

McCullough agrees. “I walked in with the impression that we would be the only hardworking people there. But I take my hat off to the veterans. This district is working hard to get kids to where they need to be.”

Hernandez, who teaches second- and fourth-grade special education, added, “There are problems in every school, but at Riley, you don’t see people giving up.” When she goes to her colleagues for advice, she said, “the last thing they say is ‘never give up.'”

Q10: Excel Printing

October 30, 2009

Excel Printing, Inc.
3374 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Stacy & Debbie Leszczynski
(414) 769-6950

Excel Printing, Inc. celebrated 20 years in business on Aug. 8, 2009. Previously their building housed Chic Hosiery Shop. Stacy Leszczynski (pictured) owns the shop with his wife Debbie. The couple has three cats—Stella, Duster, and Shadow (below), who sometimes greet customers. ~photos Phyllis Hand

1. What type of printing do you do? What types of printing projects do you do?

We offer a variety of services. We do digital and offset multicolor printing. Typesetting and design. Bindery and finishing. Our range includes letterhead, envelopes, and business cards to raffle tickets, carbonless forms, brochures, newsletters, custom wedding invitations, and menus. We also offer black-and-white copies and a fax service.

2. Was the building always a combined storefront and home?

As far as we know, yes. The former owner had a business here called Chic Hosiery Shop. The daughter was here a few years back. We had questions. She gave us answers. Part of our lobby was actually her bedroom and the other part was a small shop.

3. How did you get started in the print trade? How did you learn your trade?

My high school math teacher suggested I take the printing course at Pulaski High School in 1975. After high school, I worked at three different local printing companies before opening Excel Printing in 1989.

4. What is unique about your service?

Extremely personalized service. You always work with an owner on any order.

5. What do you like most about digital era printing? What do you miss about the old analog era of print technology?

Digital-speed and accuracy. Analog-the challenge of creating and completing jobs from scratch.

6. There are many empty storefronts in Bay View. What do you think it will take to bring more businesses to the vacant storefronts on KK, Delaware, Howell?

Tax incentives for people starting small businesses, better parking arrangements, services that people need to stay in the community.

7. What do you like most about being in business?

Controlling our own destiny, being able to grow along with our customers.

8. How do you market your business? What methods work best for you?

Initially we did door-to-door advertising with business cards, notepads, and pens. But our best advertising is word-of-mouth and the company truck with our signs all over it. People have followed me back to the shop after sitting behind me at the bank or a red light.

9. If you could change anything about the Bay View business environment, what would that be?

I would suggest a business association with all business owners, whether it be a storefront or a home-based business, not just a select few.

10. What is the most common mistake customers make when they prepare jobs for you?

They create something on their screen and it looks great, but it’s just not printable. It might be oversize or maybe the margins are off. My suggestion would be to design the project first and then bring it to us for a proof before printing. Then we can help them with alternatives and solutions for their finished product.

Eschweiler designed unique house used by three doctors

October 30, 2009

By Anna Passante

Historical photo reveals enclosed front porch. ~courtesy Halser family

In the early 1900s, well-known Milwaukee architect Alexander C. Eschweiler designed many of the palatial homes on Milwaukee’s affluent East Side, including the Charles Allis house at 1801 N. Prospect Ave. and the Robert Nunnemacher house at 2409 N. Wahl Ave.

But on Milwaukee’s south side, Eschweiler is known only to have designed two houses. In 1903, he designed an Arts and Crafts style house for his friend Dr. William Batchelor at 2445 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View. In 1913, he designed an Arts and Crafts style house for Arthur Manegold at 1202 S. Layton Blvd.

The Batchelor house, however, was not just a residence. For over seven decades, the house also served as a medical office for three physicians: Dr. Batchelor, Dr. Earle X. Thompson, and Dr. Joseph Halser, Jr.

Dr. William Batchelor

Batchelor was born in Marietta, Ohio in 1856. He graduated from Marietta College in 1878 and earned his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1884. That year he married Emma Granger of Marietta, and they moved to Bay View, residing at 1339 E. Potter Ave., where he also practiced medicine.

According to a city directory, in 1888 Batchelor moved his medical practice to a home at 2445 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., and by 1891 the city directory records that the family was also residing there. The couple had two sons, Roger (b. 1890) and Henry (b. 1892).

Dr. Joseph Halser, Jr. ~photo courtesy Halser family

In addition to his private practice, Batchelor was a surgeon for Milwaukee Hospital, Emergency Hospital, Milwaukee’s Children’s Hospital, company physician for the Bay View Illinois Steel Company, and railroad surgeon for the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway Co.

In early 1903, Batchelor decided to move his Queen Anne style home to a lot across the street to 533 E. Wilson St. (where it remains today) in order to build a larger home on his Kinnickinnic Avenue property (present-day northwest corner of KK & Wilson). Batchelor continued to live and practice medicine in his relocated home while his new house was being built.

In May 1903, Eschweiler completed the architectural plan and the Meredith Brothers of Bay View began construction of Dr. Batchelor’s new home and office. The red-brick house was 3,896 square feet and 2.5 stories, clad with cedar shake above the first floor. The architectural drawings for the house at the Wisconsin Architectural Archive essentially reflect the present layout of the house.

The first floor features a living room, dining room with stained glass windows, library with a brick fireplace, wide oak staircase, an enclosed servants staircase, and a kitchen. A butler’s pantry connects the kitchen to the dining room. Most of these rooms have oak woodwork and oak coffered ceilings.

The original architectural drawings show two rear rooms on the first floor that comprised the medical office. One room was a waiting room and the other an examination room with a small closet laboratory. Patients entered the doctor’s office through a separate entrance on E. Wilson Street.

A two-way mirror (like the kind used in police interrogation rooms) was installed in the newly constructed wall at the base of the central stairway, which allowed the doctor or his wife to peer into the waiting room, unobserved, to see if patients were waiting.

from the book Notable Men of Wisconsin, 1902

There are three bedrooms, a study with a brick fireplace, one full bath, and one half bath on the second floor. The architectural drawing identifies an additional room at the back of the second floor as a sewing room. This room was most likely also a servant’s bedroom. According to census records, 22-year-old Ida Oberst was a servant in 1900 and 21-year-old Julia (last name unclear on census record) in 1910. The walk-up third-floor attic provides capacious storage space.

In 1904, Eschweiler designed a stable and coach house, topped with a cupola, west of the house. Bay View contractor Elias Stollenwerk did the carpentry work and the Meredith Brothers of Bay View the masonry work.

After Batchelor

Batchelor died in 1920. Two years later, his widow sold the property and the medical practice to 30-year-old Dr. Earle X. Thompson, formerly of the state of Maryland. At the time he bought the Batchelor property, Thompson had a medical office and residence at 4708 S. Packard Ave. (now razed) in Cudahy. He was also the company doctor for the Patrick Cudahy Company.

Thompson expanded the doctor’s office by erecting a wall between the living room and dining room. The living room became a patient waiting room and the former waiting room became an X-ray room. A two-way mirror (like the kind used in police interrogation rooms) was installed in the newly constructed wall at the base of the central stairway, which allowed the doctor or his wife to peer into the waiting room, unobserved, to see if patients were waiting.

Dr. Joseph Halser’s business card. ~courtesy Halser family

In 1941, Dr. Joseph G. Halser, Jr. purchased the property and practice from Dr. Thompson. Halser and his wife Dorothea “Dot” lived in the house with Thompson and his wife Marion for nine months in preparation for taking over the practice. After the nine-month transition, Thompson moved back East with his wife.

Dorothea Halser worked beside her husband in the practice. She was responsible for raising the children, cooking, and cleaning, as well as performing receptionist duties and being her husband’s nurse assistant. Halser practiced medicine into the mid-1970s and died in 1984. Along with his private practice, Halser was also the company doctor for Cudahy’s Ladish Company.

When the Halsers moved into the house there were ginkgo trees on the property. The Chinese ambassador to the United States had given Dr. Batchelor three ginkgo trees, according to Dorothea Halser. The ginkgo trees became Dorothea’s passion. She is considered the person who was responsible for propagating the ginkgo tree around the Milwaukee area. There are still ginkgo trees on the Kinnickinnic Avenue property.

Fall view of ginkgo tree in yard adjacent to Wilson Street. ~photo courtesy Halser family

In 2009, Bill Doyle, a well-known Bay View house rehabber, purchased the Eschweiler house. According to Doyle, Joseph Halser III, the son of the late doctor, called him and asked if he would like to purchase the house. “The Halser family chose me over a number of people who had offered to buy the house,” said Doyle. The Halsers wanted to sell the house to someone they could trust to preserve the historic fabric of the house, Doyle said.

He acknowledged it’s an ambitious project, but Doyle said he plans to restore the house to its former glory. He’s already completed some exterior work, including a new roof and the replacement of decorative shingling on the second story. Inside the house, he removed the wall between the living room and the dining room. He said he carefully removed the two-way mirror that was housed in the wall and is preserving it.

Doyle intends to retain as much of the house’s history as possible, including the unique black roller blinds in the former X-ray room and the footed cast iron bathtub in the upstairs bathroom. Doyle credited the Halsers for their years of stewardship and said he’s committed to the house, too. He doesn’t see himself just as its owner. “I see myself as the caretaker of this house,” he said.

Putting passion into play

October 30, 2009

Story & Photos by Michael Timm

BVNA volunteers organized a week’s worth of pumpkin carving, culminating in the two-day Pumpkin Pavilion event at Humboldt Park.

BVNA volunteers organized a week’s worth of pumpkin carving, culminating in the two-day Pumpkin Pavilion event at Humboldt Park, with hundreds of carved pumpkins glowing with real and electric candlelight. Hundreds of people came together, despite earlier rain and goose excrement, to enjoy their neighbors’ company in a festive atmosphere.

Rose Szopinski stuck her hand into a carved pumpkin and pulled the trigger on the fire starter, setting the candle inside aglow, then moved onto another before the wind, damp, and dark set in.

On this brisk October night behind the Humboldt Park Pavilion, Szopinski was one of dozens of volunteers who helped the Bay View Neighborhood Association (BVNA) pull off its second annual Pumpkin Pavilion, a free family-friendly event brainstormed and organized by her brother, Bill Rouleau, one of the owners of Bay View’s Rush Mor Records.

Patty Pritchard Thompson, wearing a tiara and a smile that belied the messy reality of a flooded basement the night before, estimates that BVNA gathered 700 pumpkins, all donated by Swan’s Pumpkin Farm in Racine and trucked to the park with help from local business Bird Ladder. Thompson, BVNA president until her second consecutive term expires in February, heads the all-volunteer organization.

Since it came together in 2004, BVNA has proved itself a vehicle capable of amplifying one person’s passion into a volunteer-powered community event. BVNA is responsible for launching or sustaining community events like the Chill on the Hill summer concert series (brainchild of Carol Voss), Winter Fun at the South Shore Pavilion (started by Amy Mihelich), and KK Holiday: It’s a Wonderful Life in Bay View (this year a collaboration between BVNA and the new Bay View Business Association). In May 2009, BVNA’s Lora Ellingson organized a neighborhood rummage sale including 50 yards. And Amy Carlson launched the annual Bay View Bash street festival in 2004 (spun off from BVNA in 2008).  »Read more

Turning Great Lakes wind into energy

October 30, 2009

By Jennifer Yauck

Late this summer, Denmark inaugurated the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Horns Rev 2. Located nearly 20 miles from shore in the North Sea, the 209-megawatt wind farm consists of 91 turbines that together will generate enough energy for 200,000 households a year.

Closer to home, amid a growing interest in shifting from nonrenewable to renewable energy sources, the Great Lakes are attracting attention of their own as potential sources of wind energy. Ohio is currently working toward developing a pilot wind project in Lake Erie, while Ontario, Canada is seeking to develop projects in both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is beginning to look more seriously at Lake Michigan’s wind-energy potential as the state works to meet its legislated goal of producing 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

This map shows annual average wind power estimates at a height of 50 meters across the United States. The data used to make this map were screened to eliminate areas unlikely to be developed onshore due to land use or environmental issues. In many states, the wind resource is visually enhanced to better show the distribution on ridge crests and other features. The wind resource potential of Lake Michigan is as good as or better than areas of the Great Plains. ~Adapted from U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

But while offshore wind as an energy source has advantages-it’s cleaner and consumes much less water than fossil fuel sources, and has the potential to produce more energy than land-based wind-it also will require addressing various environmental, technical, economic, and legal issues.

“[Great Lakes offshore wind] is an idea that’s worth considering. It has pluses and minuses-and agencies, industries, power producers, and customers will have to figure out if it can be done with more pluses than minuses,” said Steven Ugoretz, an environmental analysis and review specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Ugoretz also served on a workgroup that produced a report earlier this year for the Public Service Commission (PSC) on the feasibility of offshore wind in Wisconsin.

Spawning Grounds

When it comes to aquatic resources, one of the top concerns related to Great Lakes wind energy is how wind farms might impact fish and fish habitat. Thus far, wind farms have been built only in marine environments, so solid information on how freshwater fish might interact with wind facilities is largely lacking. “It’s a big question mark,” said Jill Utrup, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

However, experts have identified a number of factors they think will be important to consider as potential wind farm locations are evaluated. One of those, according to the PSC report and a recent report from the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative (GLWC), is whether the site is a critical spawning area. Lake Michigan’s mid-lake reef, for example, has site potential from an engineering perspective, but it is also an important spawning ground for lake trout, a fish the DNR and USFWS are working to restore.

Different types of wind turbine structures can be used in offshore wind projects. Gravity base or monopole structures (left two) are typically used in waters shallower than 30 meters. Tripod or quadropod structures (middle) are used in waters between 30 and 60 meters deep, and various types of floating structures (right two) are used in waters between 60 and 300 meters deep. ~courtesy James Schneider/UW-Madison

“It’s probably not a good idea to put these things where the trout are spawning, simply because we don’t know what the impacts would be,” said John Janssen, a scientist at UW-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes WATER Institute (GLWI) who studies the mid-lake reef. “We also don’t know what else might be spawning [at the mid-lake reef],” he said. “When we go over the reef with sonar, it seems to be a busy place, but we don’t know what it’s busy with.”

Utrup said that conducting surveys to identify important fish habitats can help minimize adverse impacts from wind farms. Surveys of breeding habits for birds and bats have proven useful for land-based wind projects, she said.

In areas without spawning habitats, wind farms would likely have less potential to adversely impact fish. In fact, wind farm structures might serve as spawning habitats in such areas and therefore actually have a positive impact, according to the PSC report.

Other Aquatic Issues

Another aquatic concern related to wind farms, cited in the GLWC report, is the potential for scouring of the lakebed by currents flowing around wind-turbine foundations. Scour could be beneficial or detrimental, said Janssen. It might expose more rock, thereby providing more spawning habitat for fish like perch, he said. Or, the exposed rock might act as an “attractive nuisance”-meaning fish might be drawn to spawn there, only to have their egg masses broken up by currents.

Other factors that could adversely affect fish-and therefore should be minimized or avoided-include noise and vibration from wind farm construction and operation, and the re-suspension of contaminated sediments during construction, according to the PSC and GLWC reports. Additional impacts that are harder to anticipate and detect in water than on land could also occur, cautioned Janssen.

On the plus side, wind farms could serve double duty as monitoring stations that would help scientists track fish and collect lake data, said Val Klump, GLWI director and scientist. “If we build these, we should build a monitoring network into them,” he said.

Overall, said Klump, “while offshore wind poses a number of technical and environmental challenges-like locating the structures to avoid habitat and ecological disruption-it also avoids some of the problems faced on land and has some real advantages. Given our increasing demand for energy, it’s definitely something we should be investigating.”

Jennifer Yauck is a science writer at the UWM Great Lakes WATER Institute. GLWI (glwi.uwm.edu) is the largest academic freshwater research facility on the Great Lakes.

Bay View Hep Cats — Swingin’ at the Brew Haus

October 30, 2009

Story by Sheila Julson, Photos by Adam Morris

Jennifer Halbman, left, spins under Mike Rospenda, right, during Cream City Swing’s open dancing session Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Bay View Brew Haus.

Feet step in rhythm across a wood floor, fingers snap, and skirts twirl as couples dance the night away to the jazzy brass of big band sounds bouncing from the speakers. Men with rolled-up sleeves and beers in hand high-five friends, and couples who had just cut a rug on the dance floor dab perspiration from their foreheads.

This kicky social atmosphere, and the driving rhythm of swing music, can draw up to 80 people into the Bay View Brew Haus, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., every Thursday evening for Cream City Swing nights, featuring a dance lesson followed by open dancing for $5.

Diana Luepke, Andrea Toussaint, and Tory Bahe are twenty-somethings who share a love of swing dance and became friends through their participation in Cream City Swing. The trio has been running the group since late summer and started the dance nights at the Brew Haus Sept. 24.

“We’re all really excited about putting our time and energy into this,” Luepke said, “and focusing on making sure we always have really good music, and we’re working with our DJs and we’re working with instructors to try and build lessons that are very approachable.”  »Read more

In next year’s race for Wisconsin governor, who do you think would win between the Democrats (Barbara Lawton or Tom Barrett?) and the Republicans (Scott Walker or Mark Neumann)?

October 30, 2009

Interviews & Photos by Michael Timm

Meghan Fleming

“Tom Barrett. I think he got a lot of positive press after he was attacked, actually. And he’s done a pretty good job on Milwaukee, seems pretty popular, and is well liked after he was attacked and the way he handled it.”

-Meghan Fleming, Cudahy

Gary Coan

“Scott Walker. I think he’s doing a better job. I think he’s more for the taxpayer, watching what kind of budget and that kind of thing.”

-Gary Coan, 39th & Scott

Nick DeCarlo

“No thoughts but my pick would be Tom Barrett and then Scott Walker. Scott Walker-well, I do have an opinion-Scott Walker, mainly for Police Association.”

-Nick DeCarlo & Jackson, E. Howard Avenue

Donald Waranka

“I’d say Walker. Because the two Democrats-I’m not for anyone but the Democrats, they’re not-Barrett’s not doing it for city of Milwaukee and Doyle’s-they both can jump off a bridge. Sorry. All they do is keep raising our taxes, taxes, taxes or fees, fees, fees. How much more can they take from us? We need a change. Walker’s probably got my vote and I’m more a Democrat.”

-Donald Waranka, Wentworth Avenue

Gene Ikeler

“At this stage, I think that Scott Walker has been a pretty good man so far. I know that city employees, just like anybody at this time, have had some difficulty with some of the cutbacks, but the man himself has got a lot of integrity. And he would be-if our existing mayor doesn’t run-I think that Scott Walker would probably be a guy to get my vote.”

-Gene Ikeler, Arctic Avenue in St. Francis

Buy American

October 30, 2009

By Tony Zielinski, 14th District Milwaukee Alderman

If we are going to revitalize the economy we need to level the playing field for the American worker. That is, we believe in family-supporting jobs, worker’s compensation, social security, providing for the safety of the workers, and protecting the environment. Over the past decades manufacturing plants have been closing down and taking these jobs overseas so they can avoid the costs associated with a socially responsible society. Trade is good if it is on a level playing field.

One way to help level the playing field is to participate in the growing sweat-free movement. That is, governmental entities are passing ordinances and bills that require certain purchases take place with companies that can demonstrate that their workers are paid above poverty-level wages. The more such legislation that passes, the more we are leveling the playing field.  »Read more

Adding protection for first responders

October 30, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

Firefighters, police, and correctional officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe. The heroic efforts of those who fought the fire at Patrick Cudahy last Fourth of July weekend are the best example we have-their work saved lives and livelihoods, and served as a widely admired model for disaster response.

As a state legislator and chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, I consider it my responsibility to protect these first responders and their families from liabilities like work discrimination, unsafe working conditions, or undue medical liability. For this reason, Senator Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) and I are offering a bill that seeks to address this last issue, in terms of illnesses contracted in the line of duty. No police officer or firefighter should be denied benefits should they lose their ability to work because of an infectious disease contracted in the line of duty.  »Read more

County parks running out of time

October 30, 2009

By Jon Richards, 19th District State Representative

The Milwaukee County Parks were once the envy of the nation. Historically, the system’s over 140 parks and 15,000 acres of land have been a source of pride for our community for over 100 years.

Unfortunately, they have fallen into disrepair in recent years. One concrete example of the dire fiscal state of the Parks Department is seen when evaluating the overall department budget in 1986 compared to the 2009 allotted budget. In 1986, the overall operating budget was over $45 million, while the budget for 2009-23 years later-was reduced to just over $43 million. These numbers, when adjusted for inflation, are depressing.

In 1986, the overall operating budget was over $45 million, while the budget for 2009-23 years later-was reduced to just over $43 million.  »Read more

Budget battle continues

October 30, 2009

By Marina Dimitrijevic, District 4 County Supervisor

The County Board is deliberating the 2010 Milwaukee County Budget. There are Finance and Audit Committee hearings daily and our public hearing is set for 7pm, Nov. 2 at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vliet St. We will adopt a budget Nov. 9. There is much work to be done between now and then.

The county executive’s proposed budget is based on wage concessions that have not been presented to our employees. This is not the way to do collective bargaining. I am a member of the Personnel Committee, and we have reached a tentative agreement with all of our unions regarding wages and benefits. However, the county executive chose to ignore this and balance his budget on extreme wage cuts that go beyond what the union will likely take. If we can’t work together, then we will go into 2010 with a $30 million budget hole. In my opinion, this not fiscally responsible.

I am completely against privatizing our zoo as it is an asset we must protect for future generations. I have introduced an amendment that diverts the funds for zoo privatization toward studying the possible relocation of South Shore Beach.  »Read more

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