Dimitrijevic fires back at Abele “to set the record straight,” calls on the executive to focus on collaboration with the County Board

October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012                                                                

An Open Letter to the Residents of Milwaukee County

Dear Friends,

It’s time to set the record straight and, once again, to call on the Milwaukee County Executive to focus on collaboration.The decision of the County Executive to issue a combative press release disparaging the open, legislative efforts of the Milwaukee County Board Committee on Finance, Personnel and Audit is unfortunate because citizens want to see their elected officials work together in a cooperative manner.  

In that spirit, I ask the County Executive to work more collaboratively with Supervisors to gain support for his proposals at the front-end instead of overreacting to the legislative body’s anticipated and standard review of a proposal at the back-end.  

The passage of a budget is not a one-man show, and the County Board’s current vetting of the 2013 Recommended Budget as introduced by the County Executive is democracy in action.  

Tonight, the Board of Supervisors is hosting a public hearing on next year’s budget at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, a Milwaukee County owned and operated facility.  The Board has increased its outreach efforts to ensure that the public has every opportunity to participate and to voice their opinions on the 2013 Recommend Budget and the changes adopted by the County Board’s Committee on Finance, Audit and Personnel.   
This Committee, whose membership is diverse politically and geographically, has worked together to produce a compromise budget that reflects the values of the community while balancing the needs of Milwaukee County, our workforce and our future needs.  
In deliberating the Recommended Budget, the Board is listening to you, the people who elected us. After the County Executive introduced his budget, Supervisors hosted town hall meetings, sent out surveys and responded to emails and calls from concerned neighbors throughout the month of October. Further, the Committee held a series of meetings where they received hours of public testimony in proceedings that were livestreamed online. The County Executive’s staff and the Administration were at the table for each one of these meetings, so it is disingenuous for him now to say that these meetings lacked open deliberation. The legislative process is a transparent one that brings many voices to the table and stands in sharp contrast to the closed process used by the Administration, in which a small group put together a budget without public scrutiny during the course of several months. 
Instead of letting his proposals be evaluated on their own merit, the Executive is choosing to distort the truth of recent legislative actions.  An extension of an open hand to the Board during its final days of deliberations would have better served the goal of collaboration than this spreading of misrepresentations.  

To set the record straight, the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee adopted, on an 8-1 vote, a fair and balanced budget that:
·      Keeps property tax increases lower than the rate of inflation 
·      Asks public employees to pay more toward their health care costs than they currently do
·      Reconfigures employee compensation by eliminating $250, $500 and $750 bonuses and by cutting in half the County Executive’s proposed employee wage increase in order to prioritize the existing health care benefit for all employees
·      Invests more in public safety:  restores funding to Sheriff’s Department for a dedicated, proactive parks patrol and to the Countywide Paramedic program; transfers all wireless 911 calls to the City of Milwaukee; adds two new investigator positions to the District Attorney’s office so there can be an increased focus on domestic violence cases; and installs driver protection shields to all MCTS buses
·      Includes creative policies from Supervisors including studies, pilot programs and new solutions to old problems, such as rising health care costs and deferred maintenance in County Parks
·      Promotes economic development tools to help small businesses succeed and to create local jobs with a microloan fund and new partnership with the Milwaukee County Research Park
·      Allocates proper resources to the contingency fund, which is a budget practice suggested by both the independently elected Milwaukee County Comptroller as well as the non-partisan Public Policy Forum
·      Creates a real Wellness program that is modeled after the private sector with the goal of improving employee health and reducing costs to the taxpayer over the long-term
·      The Finance Committee unanimously (9-0) rejected the Executive’s plan to eliminate health care benefits for part-time workers, which would undoubtedly compel many nurses to leave our already fragile Behavioral Health Division institution

Thank you for your time and attention. You, as residents and taxpayers of Milwaukee County, deserve the best possible representation and delivery of services from all branches and departments of County government. Please know the Milwaukee County Board is committed to you.

Marina Dimitrijevic 
Chairwoman, County Board of Supervisors


October 27, 2012

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Supervisor Haas said he plans to withdraw transit amendment

October 26, 2012

Update: MCTS Communications Manager Jennifer Bradley notes the following corrections to the fare information Haas quoted: “The price noted as .75 refers to the reduced fare for seniors and individuals with disabilities, which is $1.10. Children ages 6-11 ride free with an adult, and children 12 and up pay regular fare of $2.25.”

District 14 County Supervisor Haas said that he intends to withdraw the transit amendment he introduced at the Oct. 23 Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee meeting. He stated that the amendment “might have unintended consequences.”

The amendment, crafted by Haas and District 10 Supervisor David Bowen, if passed, would have reduced Milwaukee County Transit System’s bus fares from $2.25 to $1.75 and a created a new $4.00 “all-day-pass.” The amendment would have also eliminated paper transfers.

The fare for paratransit would have dropped from $4.00 to $3.50, Haas said the fare for children and the elderly would have remained at its current $.75 price and freeway flyer prices would stay at their current rates.

Haas claimed that the reduction in fares that was proposed in the amendment would have saved property taxpayers $100,000, according to Martin Weddle, a county board research analyst. The logic behind a drop in property taxes that coincides with the drop is fares, Haas said, results from Weddle’s projections that MCTS ridership will increase if bus and paratransit fares are reduced, based on Weddle’s analysis of data provided by MCTS.

Haas did not respond to requests made by the Compass for information about the amendment’s proposed pricing for 10-pack tickets that currently cost $17.50 or $1.75 each. Another question concerned the elimination of paper transfers: what would have been the alternative? If the new fare system provided no transfer, how would a passenger who needed to transfer once or more between boarding and the final destination board the second bus with no transfer? If the passenger’s trip was only a one-way journey and the only alternative would have been to buy the $4.00 all-day-fare, would that not have served as a disincentive to travel via MCTS? Was this potential disincentive one of the unintended consequences Haas alluded to?

The amendment was tabled Oct. 23.


Milwaukee County Budget Committee votes to raise taxes

October 24, 2012

Source: County Executive Chris Abele’s Office

The Milwaukee County Board’s Budget Committee voted 9 – 0 today to raise taxes on Milwaukee County citizens.

The board voted down the Parks Patrol Plan that would have saved millions of dollars and increased public safety. The plan is supported by County Executive Chris Abele, Mayor Tom Barrett, the Milwaukee Police Department and a majority of the City of Milwaukee Common Council.

“The vote today by the board sends a disappointing message to taxpayers and hurts future cooperation efforts between municipalities and the county,” Abele said. “This proposal would have saved county taxpayers $5.2 million over three years.”


BVMHS Principal Leinfelder’s letter to the community after Oct. 18 fight

October 23, 2012

The Compass has obtained a copy of a letter to the community from Bay View Middle and High School’s principal, Jonathan Leinfelder, written in the wake of the fight that broke out at the school October 18 and resulted in the arrests of 30 students ages 11-19 and 28 tickets issued for disorderly conduct:


Hello Bay View School Community!  As the principal and educational leader of Bay View Middle & High School, I want to summarize the changes in response to the events of Thursday.  As our students prepare to come back to school tomorrow for a productive week which includes WKCE testing, I want to remind both the instructional and non-instructional staff of our expectations for students and to let you know about some changes.

We are taking the following steps to ensure a positive learning environment at the school:

  • All students from Thursday have been suspended.
  • Additional security and support staff will be at the school.
  • We are looking at different entrance procedures to avoid large groups of students as well as different deployment of school staff prior to the beginning of the school day
  • We will implement a structured hallway procedure to support both students and teachers.
  • We have also made the decision to separate middle and high school students during breakfast.
  • We have created new hallway and lunch room procedures for the middle school students which include the immediate escorting of students to their destination (scheduling both instructional and non-instructional resources).
  • I would like to create a steering committee comprised of all members of the school community to take a serious review of the current cell-phone policy.
  • We have postponed all school-wide events until further notice.

Teachers be prepared for learning and teaching, along with a great week at Bay View.  Our goal is to teach students that following school rules and being prepared for success in your classroom should be their focus next week and every week.

The incident on Thursday involved only of a few of Bay View’s 1450 students. The vast majority of our students were not involved in this unacceptable behavior, and I am proud of their focus and commitment to learning. I am committed to working with students, parents and staff and the Bay View community to make Bay View Middle and High School the strong and safe academic school we all want it to be. If you have any questions, please feel free to speak with me at any time.  Thank you for the continued support of our students and colleagues during these challenging times.


Jonathan Leinfelder

Mr. Jonathan Leinfelder

Bay View Middle and High School Principal


Supervisor Haas to introduce “Enhanced Transit Amendment” today

October 23, 2012

District 14 County Supervisor Jason Haas will introduce an “Enhanced Transit Amendment” to County Executive Abele’s proposed 2013 county budget today.

The amendment, crafted by Haas and District 10 Supervisor David Bowen, would reduce Milwaukee County Transit System’s bus fares from $2.25 to $1.75 and a $4.00 “all-day-pass” would be created. The amendment would eliminate paper transfers.

The fare for paratransit would drop from $4.00 to $3.50, Haas said and the fare for children and the elderly would be $.75.

Freeway flyer prices would stay at their current rate.

Haas said that the reduction in fares that are proposed in the amendment would save property taxpayers $100,000, according to Martin Weddle, a county board research analyst. The logic behind a drop in property taxes that coincides with the drop is fares, Haas said, results from Weddle’s projections that MCTS ridership will increase if bus and paratransit fares are reduced, based on Weddel’s analysis of data provided by MCTS.

The amendment will be introduced today during the Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee meeting. Haas projects that the amendment will pass the committee and also be passed when it comes before the full county board.

Budget town hall meeting with Supervisor Haas November 1

October 22, 2012

Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas invites residents of the 14th District to join him for a budget-focused Town Hall Meeting at Zablocki Public Library, located at 3501 West Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30pm.

“I’m happy to host a second town hall meeting about the budget as the board examines the best use of our limited, public resources,” said Supervisor Haas. “I highly encourage my neighbors to share their opinions at this town hall meeting.” Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, November 1 at 6:30pm
Zablocki Public Library
3501 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53215

Bay View Neighborhood survey results are in

October 20, 2012

BVNA conducted a survey recently.

There were 198 responses. The typical test taker was female, aged 30-39, college-educated, a homeowner, without children but had pets, and worked outside of Bay View. The survey-takers are most concerned about safety and education. They want movie theatres and hotels/bed and breakfasts. And they love Chill on the Hill.

Please note that the Bay View Neighborhood Association (BVNA) is a neutral organization that’s run solely on volunteer power. The BVNA doesn’t control businesses, political issues, laws, housing, county and city decisions, etc. Rather, we present information or hold neutral forums where our neighbors can discuss these issues. We also host neighborhood events and work on projects that improve the community. We’re growing, and we strive to match the changing needs and wants of our neighborhood. The 2012 season of Chill on the Hill was the largest and best yet, and it remains a favorite to many. An area of improvement for stronger communication was identified, and we’re taking steps to enhance our communication. In 2012, we had wanted to expand our activities to more than events, but also to activities that affect our parks, schools, relationships with other nonprofit organizations, etc. This was new, and we look forward to enhancing our communication of these great activities.

Read the entire survey: BVNA 2012 Survey Results-1

MPS Thornton’s letter after BVMHS incident October 18

October 20, 2012





October 19, 2012

Dear Bay View Community Member:

I want to extend my personal apology, and that of Milwaukee Public Schools, for the incidents that happened at Bay View Middle/High School on October 18, 2012.  I know you are a good neighbor of the school and someone committed to the success of the community.  These incidents were unfair to you and unacceptable to me.

I want to let you know that I’ve been working with Bay View Principal Jonathan Leinfelder to reinforce the expectations for all of our students.  We’re also making some changes designed to ensure a positive learning environment at Bay View:

  • A telephone message will be sent on Sunday night to all Bay View Middle and High School families reminding students to be prepared for a positive week and to be focused on following school rules and academic success.
  • All of the students arrested on Thursday have been suspended.  It is my intention that none of these students return to Bay View.
  • Additional security and other school supports will be at the school Monday.  I will work with the Bay View administrative team to determine how long that support is needed.
  • Different entrance procedures are being explored to avoid large groups of students congregating, as well as a different deployment of school staff prior to the beginning of the school day.
  • Middle school students will be separated from high school students during breakfast.

We are committed to finding short- and long-term solutions to ensure Bay View is a school of choice with a safe environment and strong academic program.  As we move forward, your input will be critical in the decision-making process.  Over the next few weeks, we will be holding public meetings about the future of Bay View.  If you would like to be involved in these discussions, please email BayView2013@milwaukee.k12.wi.us with your contact information.

Last Thursday, I was approached by a teacher who told me that sixteen students waited with her in her classroom until after the incidents.  She told me she didn’t teach or even know any of the students; but they were all respectful and waited quietly until they could move to their next class.  She asked me to remind people, when we talked about what happened, that the majority of students at Bay View are good kids who are coming to school and doing their best.

As we begin a new school week and the process of determining what’s next for Bay View, I will keep her comments in mind.  I would ask you to do so as well as we work collectively to find a solution that’s in the best interest of our students and the community.



Gregory E. Thornton, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Film review: The Sessions

October 16, 2012

The Sessions, 2012

Ben Lewin, Writer/Director
Presented at the Milwaukee Film Festival 2012
By Caroline Jaecks
Mark O’Brien believes in a God with a wicked sense of humor, but he is determined to return the favor. Programmed as the Milwaukee Film Festival’s closing night movie event, The Sessions entertains and warms hearts as it accesses the life and work of writer/poet Mark O’Brien (1949-1999). Academy Award Nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) wonderfully portrays O’Brien’s determination to rise above his polio-induced immobilization. Though always positioned awkwardly in the frame, due to O’Briens prostrate permanence, Hawkes candid excellence cuts through the visual handicap. Unable to use all muscles below his neck, and dependent on an iron lung for 21 hours of his daily respiration, his devout Catholicism leads him to Father Brendan for sex advice (a light, quirky role for skilled actor and fellow Academy Award Nominee William H. Macy). Seeking out the mysteries of intercourse at age 38, he consults a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) who, in a limited number of sessions, introduces him to the physical and psychological aspects of sexual contact. Hunt’s performance is strong and tasteful, but lack’s emotional range. While her character plateaued, the priest, who could have shown more depth than eccentricity, evolves into a beer slinging hippie without warning. However, O’Brien’s creativity, wit and charm (and one very well-trained ginger cat) carry the film to its comfortable end.

Medicare open enrollment period starts today

October 15, 2012

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period — which begins today Monday, October 15 – has been expanded to last seven weeks and will end on December 7. This will give seniors and people with disabilities more time to compare and find the best plan that meets their unique needs. Open enrollment is seniors’ chance to review their Medicare choices and pick the plan that works for them but if they decide that they’re happy sticking with the coverage they have now, they don’t need to do anything else.

“Fall can be an extremely busy time of year, the kids are getting settled into a new a new school year, the yard and the house need to be made ready for winter and of course we need to keep up with the Packers on Sundays,” said Doug Hill, State Director for Know Your Care Wisconsin. “With everything we have going on, it’s so easy to forget another activity that should be on all our fall checklists: helping family members with the Medicare Open Enrollment period.”

If Medicare beneficiaries and their families need assistance in helping to choose a plan or deciding to stay on a plan they can utilize two great resources. The first is the Medicare Plan Finder, available at this site:  medicare.gov/find-a-plan

The second resource is an “Elder Benefits Specialist.” Each county in Wisconsin has at least one of these specialists. These individuals can help Medicare beneficiaries learn what plans and what options are available to them. They cannot advise you on what plan to choose, but they will help you gather information to make a more informed decision about which plan is best for you. To make an appointment with your county’s elder benefits specialist you can contact your county’s Commission on Aging and Disability Resource Center.

A full listing of Wisconsin’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers can be found at this directory: dhs.wisconsin.gov/aging/EBS/benspecs.htm

Additionally, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the Part D “donut hole” coverage gap will continue to increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed. This year, people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent coverage of generic drugs in the donut hole. In 2013, Medicare Part D’s coverage of brand name drugs will begin to increase, so people with Medicare will receive approximately 53 percent off the cost of brand name drugs, and coverage for 21 percent of the cost of generic drugs, in the donut hole.

“With more benefits, better choices and lower costs, Know Your Care Wisconsin encourages people with Medicare and their families to begin reviewing their drug and health plan coverage options for 2013,” Hill added.

Know Your Care is a 501c3 organization dedicated to educating the American people about the Affordable Care Act’s life-saving consumer and patient protections that are already benefiting millions of Americans and will benefit millions more in the coming years as additional provisions are implemented— knowyourcare.org .


South Shore Park Watch meeting Thursday, Oct 11

October 10, 2012

South Shore Park Watch
Monthly Meeting
Thursday October 11
Time: 7:00 pm
South Shore Park Pavilion 2900 S. Shore Drive
All are welcome to join us for our monthly meeting.
Please bring your agenda items, friends and ideas along with you.
We will continue our discussion with Alderman Zielinski concerning the support
of the Frolics and the impact on the park and neighborhood.
Come take a walk in the park, the fall colors are beautiful.
Thank you for your participation.

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