November 29, 2011

MPS board proposes dramatic health care payment; says changes to reap $170M in savings

November 22, 2011

Source: Milwaukee Public School

The Milwaukee Public Schools’ Board of School Directors took bold action in approving sweeping new health care changes and wage freezes for District employees that are expected to save more than $170 million over the next five years. The changes are also projected to significantly trim the District budget deficits that had been projected for the next five years, due in large part to the cost of health care, increasing at a rate of up to 9% a year. The cost of maintaining health and life insurance benefits for retirees alone (often described as legacy costs) is currently at $2.2 billion and accelerating.

Superintendent Gregory Thornton had urged prompt action on health care costs, which are at $203 million in the current fiscal year. With both student enrollment and financial resources decreasing, both Dr. Thornton and School Board President Michael Bonds warned that if the benefit costs for employees and retirees were left unaddressed, the District’s sustainability was in jeopardy. “We have put off decisive action for too many years,” said the Superintendent. “To me, it was the elephant in the room, the massive mountain on the horizon.” The District was projecting a deficit of $24 million in the next budget (Fiscal Year 2013) and a deficit of $33.6 million in FY2014. “Without the adjustment to those costs, our most conservative five-year forecast showed the District laying off an additional 200 to 300 teachers over the next two years.”

In proposing the benefit changes and salary freezes, President Bonds said he knew this was a hard decision, but one that must be made now. “This measure not only helps prevent layoffs of teachers, it provides resources for the classroom and allows the continuation of retiree pensions.” Changes will be implemented as early as early as July 1, 2012 when the first round of union contracts expire.

Included are higher levels of employee contributions to health insurance premiums based on salary ranges. The premiums for the lower cost plan (EPO) are considerably lower than for the higher-cost plan, designed as an incentive to employees to choose the lower cost plan. Deductibles also increase, though not by as much as in a plan proposed by the administration earlier in the week. The Board supported President Bonds’ plan as a compromise, endorsing it on a 6 to 3 vote.

MPS currently employs approximately 9,000 employees. Each bargaining unit has a different level of employee premium contribution now, ranging from a percent of salary to a percent of premium. Employees in the low-cost (EPO) plan are currently paying about $11 a month for single coverage and $29 a month for the low-cost family plan. Under the measure approved by the Board last week, premiums will be based on salary ranges.

The following chart shows the anticipated premiums by salary range and type of coverage:

Employee salary  New EPO Employee Premium contribution  New PPO Employee Premium Contribution 
Under $25,000 5% 11%
$25,001-$50,000 8% 12%
$50,001-$75,000 10% 13%
$75,001+ 12% 14%

Ald Donovan: Streetcar project being rammed down our throats

November 17, 2011

 Source: Office of Alderman Donovan

From the beginning I have called for a referendum to allow Milwaukee voters the chance to weigh in on the downtown streetcar project. My amendment to require a referendum before any construction work could begin on the project was defeated earlier this year, but I believe just as strongly today that we should let the people decide if it should go forward. Do we remember the concerns of the comptroller and the utility companies? Did we forget the questions about the route not reaching the lakefront, rosy ridership projections, ongoing maintenance costs and the promised rosy economic forecast of this project (that I believe is pure fantasy)?

Last night’s meeting has been described in media reports as better attended by project proponents than opponents. After watching a news clip of the meeting, I can say we had more people opposed at our news conference (where I was joined by Alderman Joe Dudzik and County Supervisor Mark Borkowski – calling again for a referendum) with a half-day’s notice than they had in support at last night’s long-planned meeting. My belief is that 70% of people in Milwaukee are opposed to the project, and with minimal effort we’ve already collected hundreds of signatures on petitions calling for a referendum. I believe if we made a strong push for signatures, we could likely collect tens of thousands of additional signatures.

So what are the project’s proponents afraid of? Let the people decide!

County Board overrides 18 of Abele’s 23 budget vetoes

November 17, 2011

Source: Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted today to override 18 of the 23 budget vetoes handed down by County Executive Chris Abele earlier this week.

“The County Board this afternoon voted to override more than 78% of County Executive Abele’s budget vetoes.  This is higher than the percentage of vetoes overridden during Scott Walker’s eight years as Milwaukee County Executive.  There really is a nickel’s worth of difference between these two Executives,” Chairman Holloway said.  “The Board restored funding in a number of areas, including the Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Medical Services/Paramedics.  I’m proud we were able to make these responsible changes.”

The final 2012 Milwaukee County property tax levy will be $275,370,836, an increase of $5,816,135 or 2.15% from the 2011 levy of $269,554,701.  In the City of Milwaukee, on a home assessed at the citywide average of $123,024, the County portion of the annual property tax bill is estimated to increase $2.93.  For a home assessed at $150,000, the increase is estimated to be $3.84.

Click here for a complete narrative of all budget vetoes.

The following is a summary of votes from today’s veto override meeting
(two-thirds majority, or 13 votes, necessary to override any veto)

Non-Departmental Budgets

Veto #7 Employee Wellness Program (Effect of veto: -$434,663) Amendment 1C006
12-7 to override (veto sustained) No – Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #8 Employee Healthcare Benefits (Effect of veto: -$3,098,817) Amendment 1C004
15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo

Departmental Operating Budgets

Veto #1 Emergency Medical Services Subsidy Funding (Effect of Veto: -$722,527) Amendment 1A061-1
19-0 to override (veto overridden)

Veto #2 Emergency Medical Services Subsidy Allocation (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A061-2
9-10 to override (veto sustained) No – Borkowski, Broderick, Cesarz, De Bruin, Johnson, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #3 Inmate Medical and Mental Health Services (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A049
16-3 to override (veto overridden) No –Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo

Veto #4 Tactical Enforcement Unit/Park Patrol Program (Effect of veto: -$1,551,991) Amendment 1A048
17-2 to override (veto overridden) No – Borkowski, Cesarz

Veto #5 Position Restoration in the Office of the Sheriff (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A074
19-0 to override (veto overridden)

Veto #6 Reorganization of Department of Transportation and Public Works (no tax levy impact)
Amendment 1A036
12-7 to override (veto sustained
) No –Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Thomas

Veto #12 Policy Concerning the Awarding of Contracts Over $1,000,000 (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A065
16-3 to override (veto overridden) No –Cesarz, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #14 Detox Funding (Effect of Veto: -$200,000) Amendment 1A055
15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Schmitt

Veto #15 Cultural Events Programming in Parks (Effect of veto: -$50,000) Amendment 1A004
14-5 to override (veto overridden) No – Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #16 Estabrook Dam Trust Account (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A054
13-6 to override (veto overridden) No – Broderick, Cesarz, Jursik, Rice, Schmitt, Thomas

Veto #17 Parks Tax Levy (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A053
12-7 to override (veto sustained) No – Cesarz, Lipscomb, Mayo, Rice, Sanfelippo, Thomas, Weishan

Veto #19 Mental Health Redesign and Community Resources Investment (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A011
16-3 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo

Veto #20 IT Director – Business Development (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A066
14-5 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Thomas

Veto #21 Heat & Chilled Waterline Installation at County Grounds (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A077
15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Broderick, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo

Veto #22 Positions at General Mitchell International Airport (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A022
15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #23 Bus Safety Shields (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1A039
15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Capital Improvement Budgets

Veto #9 Workforce Development (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1B002-1
Veto #10 Economic Development Fund (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1B002-2
Veto #11 Land Sales (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1B002-3
(Vetoes 9, 10, 11 taken together) 15-4 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #13 King and Kosciuszko Community Centers (no tax levy impact) Amendment 1B004
11-8 to override (veto sustained) No – Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #18 Legislative Workflow and Public Access Project (Effect of veto: -$192,800) Amendment 1B001
16-3 to override (veto overridden) No – Cesarz, Sanfelippo, Schmitt

Veto #24 Tax Levy (Effect of veto: $6,249,798) (vote not necessary – final tax levy determined by override actions taken above)

Separate item: County Board voted 19-0 to ratify the 2009-2012 Memorandum of Agreement between Milwaukee County and the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

The next regular meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Pick ‘n Save, Piggly Wiggly, Woodman’s—Which has best deal for holiday dinner ingredients?

November 13, 2011

The Compass conducted a price survey Saturday, November 12 at Piggly Wiggly and Pick ‘n Save in Bay View, and Woodman’s in Oak Creek for these ingredients:

Holiday Dinner Ingredients
Acorn squash, 1 lb.
Broccoli, 1 lb.
Butter, Land O’Lakes, salted, 1 lb.
Cranberries, fresh, 12 oz.
Milk, 1%, 1 gallon
Pie crusts, Pillsbury 9″ deep dish (2)
Pumpkin Puree, Libby’s 100%, 15 oz.
Rolls, brown & serve, 1 doz.
Stuffing, Brownberry Sage & Onion, 14 oz.
Sweet potatoes, 1 lb.
Turkey, Butterball, 15 lb.
Yellow potatoes, 5 lb. bag

The totals for the above ingredients were $36.61, $40.11, and $47.40.  Which store do you think won the contest for best price? See results of the survey here.






Hoan Bridge bike path advocates urge citizens to contact their representatives

November 9, 2011

Katherine Keller


Local representatives held a press conference this morning to advocate for a bike and pedestrian path proposed for the Hoan Bridge.

Alderman Nik Kovac; County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Jason Haas; State Assembly Representatives Jon Richards and Christine Sinicki; and State Senator Chris Larson attended to lend their support for the project, along with Kevin Hardman (Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin); Bill Sell (Bike the Hoan); Eamonn Keyes, Riverwest resident; and Tom Stacey, Eppstein Uhen Architects (Milwaukee).

Kevin Hardman said a path on the Hoan would create “great value” as a tourism magnet.

Bill Sell said that 5,043 petition signatures were gathered in support of the path. He described a path on the Hoan as safe, “almost all weather,” and said that biking helps keep air clean and riders healthy.

Sell distributed a collection of some of the comments made by petition-signers. One of these reads, “Milwaukee has emerged as a leader in addressing the world’s need for clean water; on that green note we should strike another and commit ourselves to improving cycling throughout our city and state.”

Other comments referenced the prospective path and as a tourism draw, an experience that would compare with biking the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the view it would afford, and an alternative to cars, congestion, and poor air quality.

Riverwest resident and UWM student Eamonn Keyes said that for his generation a Hoan Bridge bike path would be a huge draw to young entrepreneurs who would view it as a means of transportation and a draw to the city.

Tom Stacey, representing Eppstein Uhen Architects (Milwaukee and Madison) where he is a manager, said that as a designer he is “really excited about the opportunities [the Hoan path] affords the city.” His firm is “looking for dynamic talent” and sees the path as an investment that would help businesses like his attract and retain creative people.”

In an interview after the press conference Stacey, referencing the creatives among the workforce, said that he feels “a variety of transportation options and a variety of different outlets for outdoor enjoyment and exercise appeal to the type of worker we typically employ.” His firm competes with Chicago and Minneapolis—both with great bike paths—when trying to attract new talent. He said Milwaukee has made great strides by adding bike lanes to city streets, but that he would like to see more.

Stacey is also member and co-chair of Milwaukee Business By Bike (MB3), an organization established earlier this year, made up of business leaders who want to help promote biking as a safe way to commute or recreate.

Senator Larson concluded by stressing the need for constituents to inform their representatives of their support for the project.

A public information meeting is being held by WisDOT to seek public comment about the various alternatives for a Hoan Bridge path Monday, November 14 from 5-7pm at 1001 W. St. Paul Avenue. Map:

Find more information about the proposed designs here.



District 14 license applications before Licenses Committee Monday, Nov. 14

November 8, 2011

District 14 is represented by Ald. Tony Zielinski, who is a member of the Licenses Committee.

09:30 AM

Dist 14            MARKEY, Philip R, Class A Malt & Class A Liquor License Transfer – Change of Business Operations (to add liquor) for “HUMBOLDT PARK WINE AND BEER” at 3155 S HOWELL Av.

Dist 14            MESSINGER, Robert H, Agent for “HEAD SOUTH, LLC”, Permanent Extension of Premise Application to include four outside tables  as agent for “HECTOR’S ON DELAWARE” at 3040 S DELAWARE Av.

Dist 14            HAQ, Abdul, Agent for “PETRO MART CHASE, LLC”, Food Dealer Retail Renewal Application as agent for “PETRO MART” at 2341 S CHASE Av.

Alderman Witkowski launches design contest to promote “Green Corridor” in District 13

November 8, 2011

Corridor panel seeks brand image to spread the message of community sustainability 

A community wide contest to create a brand image for “The Green Corridor” has been launched to help showcase Milwaukee’s first completely sustainable green street.

Alderman Terry L. Witkowski, who authored the successful Common Council legislation to designate the three-mile stretch of S. 6th St. from W. Howard Ave. south to W. College Ave. as “The Green Corridor,” said the contest is open to area residents, artists, students, public relations and marketing firms and other interested parties.

“I think this contest is an excellent way to involve the wider community in The Green Corridor,” he said. “The corridor will likely become the model for other sustainable, green streets in Milwaukee that can spur economic development because they appeal to businesses and individuals who are committed to a sustainable future.”

The contest is being run by the Green Corridor Project Committee (Alderman Witkowski is a member), a panel that includes 39 individuals from various governmental, advocacy, business and neighborhood associations. The contest deadline is 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

Vision and Goals 

Alderman Witkowski said the vision of “The Green Corridor” as both a physical place and as a living, sustainable laboratory “is to achieve green goals in order to leverage relevant resources and knowledge to showcase a full range of sustainable technologies and innovation.”

Ald. Witkowski said the goals of the corridor are: 

1. To serve as a demonstration site of green technology and innovation relative to water quality and quantity, smart energy, air quality, and green job creation.

2. To educate businesses and residents about sustainable technology best practices and encouraging their application in commercial and residential sectors.

3. Enhancing Milwaukee’s image as a sustainability leader and the Garden District as a model for community sustainability.

4. Beautifying S. 6th St. and surrounding areas with increased landscaping.

5. Building and expanding partnerships to continue to evolve “The Green Corridor.”

6. Supporting the area’s Aerotropolis (Business Improvement District #40) efforts.

Contest Details 

• Entrants should submit an easily identifiable “brand” logo to be featured on supporting graphic material including but not limited to business cards, placards, posters, banners, and a number of signs throughout the corridor. The contest is open to area residents, artists, students, public relations and marketing firms and other interested parties.

• The winner of the contest will be recognized with a special resolution passed by the Milwaukee Common Council honoring the winner and a copy of the resolution will be mounted on a plaque and presented to the winner. In addition, a bronze plaque will be mounted at a location in the corridor that will display the artist’s name and year designed.

Design Parameters 

• No advertising, religious or political messages are permitted as part of the design.

• Colors are limited to a maximum of four (4).

• Graphic should also be presentable in black and white.

• The words “Green Corridor” should be incorporated with the graphic.

• Verbiage is permitted as an integral part of the graphic.

• The graphic will be used on two-sided signs and banners; therefore, the graphic must work when viewed from both sides.

• The design should allow for mounting (a 2 inch border is suggested but not required). Note: In all other uses an edge should be incorporated for handling of printed material by a commercial printer allowing for bleeds, etc.

• Graphic should be scalable for use on business card or a larger street banner (72” X 38” maximum size).

• Graphic must be able to be cut from a “stick on” film utilized by sign manufacturers.

• Graphic must be able to be viewed by motorists traveling at 35-40 mph. Note: Simplicity of design will create a more easily recognizable image.

• A specific theme has not been identified to give the contestants creative liberties. Keep in mind that the green corridor is about sustainability and the goals as noted in the Vision should be first and foremost in the graphic design elements.

• The graphic may simply be a stylized version on the words “Green Corridor.”

• The design should be colored and scaled. For example, a 2’X 7” banner could be submitted at 6” by 1’9”. Hand drawings are acceptable as well as computer drawings.

• Submit designs in a sealed envelope with the entrant’s contact information in the envelope.

• Design Deadline: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 by 3 p.m. (CST).

For questions and submitting designs, please contact:

Joe Wilson, executive director 

Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful 

1313 W. Mount Vernon Ave. 

Milwaukee WI 53233 

Phone: 414-272-5462 (ext. 103) 

MPL Board reviews East Library redevelopment proposals Wed., Nov. 9, 5:30pm; meeting is open to public

November 8, 2011

The Milwaukee Public Library Board of Trustee’s Building and Development Committee will consider three proposals for the redevelopment of the East Library property on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the East Library. This meeting is open to the public.

In July of this year, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett challenged the development community to help the City reinvent Milwaukee Public Library’s East Library as part of the vibrant East Side community.

A rendering of one of the possible designs for the redevelopment of Milwaukee's East Library (North Avenue).

The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) and the Department of City Development issued a Request for Proposal for developers to acquire the current East Library site and redevelop it with a mixed-use building which would house a 21st century library on the ground floor and a secondary use above it to serve the community. Conceptual proposals were sought and three Wisconsin developers responded: Stone House, Gorman & Company, and HSI Properties. All proposals include housing to complement the library.

“This is a valuable property in a unique part of our community,” said Mayor Barrett. “Our goal is to add an asset to this neighborhood with both a new library and additional uses that make sense for this area.”

Paula Kiely, MPL Library Director agrees, and identifies the East Library “as the perfect opportunity to showcase a public-private approach to replacing an obsolete building with a modern structure that serves MPL and the East Side neighborhoods and business community.”

Ald. Nik Kovac, who represents the East Side and serves as a trustee on the MPL Board of Trustees, has been very involved in planning for a new East Library.“This new development will add to the economic development of the business district and bring a great center for learning to the neighborhood,” said Ald. Kovac. “These new proposals are the result of community meetings and feedback that was shared with the developers.”

MPL’s East Library is located at 1910 E. North Avenue. This one-story, 13,800 square foot building opened for business in 1968 and still has the original interior design, lighting and heating, ventilation and cooling systems 43 years later. In 2010, more than 140,000 people visited East Library to use 18 public computers, check out books, DVDs, CDs, and use the community meeting room.

An innovative new Milwaukee Public Library Villard Square branch opened on October 15th at the corner of N. 35th St. and W. Villard Ave. This mixed-use model features a library on the groundfloor with approximately 13,000 square feet of space, with three levels of apartments above it. Theapartments are being marketed as “grandfamily housing” for families where grandparents are theprimary caregivers for their grandchildren. Find information about the Villard Square model here.


County Board opposing Assembly bid to create comptroller for Milwaukee County

November 3, 2011

Source: Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors
Comptroller would place additional burden on Milwaukee County property tax payers

This morning, the County Board approved a resolution authored by Board Chairman Lee Holloway opposing Assembly Bill 329, which relates to the creation of a comptroller position in Milwaukee County.

“This bill, advanced by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is ill advised, and I encourage the Assembly to vote it down,” Chairman Holloway said.  “This bill would create another elected office, place another layer of bureaucracy in County government, and add costs during a down economy.  The taxpayers of Milwaukee County have not asked for this additional burden.”

The resolution opposing the State legislation was approved by a supermajority of the County Board this morning:  Chairman Lee Holloway, Eyon Biddle, Sr., Gerry Broderick, Lynne De Bruin, Marina Dimitrijevic, Jason Haas, Nikiya Q. Harris, Willie Johnson, Jr., Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., Michael Mayo, Sr., Peggy A. Romo West, Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, and John F. Weishan, Jr.

“This legislation is a violation of local control, an unfunded mandate, and goes against the broad consensus that has come together in support of truly independent non-political fiscal analysis,” said Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., who was one of the 13 Supervisors voting to oppose the bill.

“I am asking the Legislature to ignore agendas like this from special interest groups that do not represent the wishes of County residents,” Supervisor Eyon Biddle, Sr., said.  “In this case, the Greater Milwaukee Committee is a special interest group trying to undermine County government.  I hope that, in the future, the County Executive will work with the County Board, rather than against us, when considering items that alter the structure of County government.”

Have a heart—help a kitty

November 1, 2011

Our local no-kill cat shelter is seeking donations.


Our local no-kill cat shelter is seeking donations. Second Hand Purrs, 4300 S. Howell Ave., is seeking the following donations: KMR kitten milk (powder form), Fancy Feast canned food, kitten food (Purina®, Iams®, and NUTRO® only), trash bags, clay cat litter, high-efficiency laundry detergent, bleach, Clorox disinfectant wipes, and paper towels. Donations accepted Thursdays 6-9pm or Saturdays 10am-3pm. More info: (414) 727-7877.

Uncertainty for taverns over concealed firearms

November 1, 2011

With the state allowing people to carry concealed weapons effective Nov. 1, some tavern owners and other businesses are still confused as to what exactly their options are if they want to keep patrons from bringing guns into their establishments.

The Milwaukee Common Council passed a resolution urging bars to ban guns, but as of mid-October, offered no signs for bars to post that would inform customers of the new rule, nor any guidance for handling gun-toters in their establishments.

Governor Scott Walker signed the bill legalizing concealed carry in July, but with the start date looming, questions were still unanswered. As of the end of September the state Department of Justice hadn’t even decided how to implement training programs so people can get a permit.

Some bar owners wondered what their authority was in keeping guns off their premises.

“The police told me they didn’t know how they were going to enforce any sort of ban I’d want in my business,” one tavern owner told me.

State law does say that if gun holders have a gun at a bar they are not allowed to drink alcohol. The gun holder is not supposed to be intoxicated, either. It’s a misdemeanor if a person is drunk with a gun.

Jason Wedesky, president of the Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District, said the topic hasn’t been brought up at any BID meetings so far. The BID has not offered any advice to its members either, he said.

According to state law, signs outlawing guns on private property must be posted conspicuously at public entrances and be at least five-by-seven inches. Signs can be found from online stores for about $30, but some artwork can be printed for free.

The city of Milwaukee has banned concealed weapons in all city-owned buildings. Milwaukee County has banned weapons in county buildings as well. The law doesn’t allow bans in places such as the zoo or other public outdoor spaces like parks. In October Milwaukee County proposed to ban weapons on board its buses.

Tavern owners are pretty much unanimous in their desire to ban concealed weapons because of the common sense logic that alcohol and firearms are a deadly combination.

Of course, there has always been the possibility that a bar patron was packing heat, but the new law implies they should now feel comfortable in doing so.

Bar owners have a tougher enforcement issue than other businesses, given that patrons could be intoxicated and volatile if asked to leave their weapon outside. State law does say that if gun holders have a gun at a bar they are not allowed to drink alcohol. The gun holder is not supposed to be intoxicated, either. It’s a misdemeanor if a person is drunk with a gun. Otherwise it’s a trespassing charge with up to a $1,000 fine if a business owner calls police when a person is carrying a gun into a business that has banned them.

But it’s a sticky situation for any bartender to be sure.

“Enforcement is difficult. Any sense that a patron is trespassing with a gun, or, if permitted to carry on premises, takes a drink, justifies a call to police,” according to advice from the Milwaukee Department of Public Works according to 14th District Alderman Tony Zielinski.

“There’s none greater danger than the potential and reality of the mixture of alcohol and guns,” Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs told the Common Council. Coggs authored the resolution urging taverns to ban guns, which passed Sept. 20 with one abstention and one opposed.

Alderman Bob Donovan said he abstained because he didn’t want to send a message to tavern owners that not posting no-gun signs would come back to “haunt” them when their licenses are up for renewal. Alderman Joe Dudzik voted against the tavern resolution and against banning guns from city buildings. He said if the law allows people to carry guns, they should be allowed to carry guns. The overriding issue for him is self-protection.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin hasn’t sent out advice to its members on how barkeeps should handle concealed carry, unlike when the state banned smoking in taverns two years ago. The Tavern League website still has links dealing with the smoking ban but lists nothing for concealed carry issues. That’s likely reflective of the spilt on the issue when it comes to pro-gun and anti-gun opinions. 

Hissom tends bar at Rocco’s in Bay View.

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