Fire at Bourbon & Tunns Tavern in Third Ward

December 26, 2012

Firefighters and police were still at the scene of the fire at Bourbon & Tunns, 221 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Third Ward at approximately 10am this morning although the fire was extinguished. Numerous engine and ladder trucks responded to the fire, along with Milwaukee police who blocked off sections of North Broadway and East Buffalo.

Formerly Palms Bistro, it reopened this month as Bourbon & Tunns on December 11, according to the Palms Bistro Facebook page:

“A Palms Grand Finale

Over the past 11 years Palms Bistro has been serving up Art for all of your senses. From the purchaseable rotating art on our walls and the flavorful alcoholic experiments behind the bar, to the delectable symphony of flavors and textures that make their way out of our kitchen.

Everything we have achieved and accomplished in this time has been inspired by you, our audience, our guests, and our muse. Palms Bistro would like to humbly thank all of you for your part in making us who we are, and inspiring us to create beauty.

It is in this spirit of inspiration and with joyous humility that we announce Palms Bistro’s final act of beauty. One final act of creations… A Palm’s grand finale, our own big bang, our rebirth.

Although Palms private events will remain in normal operations in the upstairs of our location and will continue to operate under the name Palms and in much the same manner it is currently.

***On Saturday, December 8th, Palms Bistro will close Its doors for the last time and reopen on Tuesday, December 11th as Bourbon & Tunns Tavern***”





Senator Larson announces committee assignments for upcoming session

December 19, 2012

Source: Office of Senator Chris Larson

Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson (D–Milwaukee) announced today the Senate Democratic members of the standing and joint committees.

“Each member of the Senate Democratic Caucus has a unique perspective to bring to the table as we work to create family-sustaining jobs, increase economic development, and grow local businesses,” said Sen. Larson. “This diverse experience and expertise is crucial to building a better Wisconsin on behalf of those we serve.”

“My colleagues and I look forward to getting to work immediately on moving our state forward by pursuing common sense policies, fostering real bipartisan discussion, and prioritizing Wisconsin’s shared values,” said Sen. Larson. “We realize our state is facing abundant challenges and struggling to keep up with the rest of the nation. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we work together as a team to move Wisconsin forward for all.”

The committee assignments for Wisconsin’s 2013-2014 Legislative Session are as follows:

Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism (9)
Kathleen Vinehout (Ranking Member)
Dave Hansen
Julie Lassa
Lena Taylor

Economic Development and Local Government (5)
Julie Lassa (Ranking Member)
Lena Taylor

Education (9)
John Lehman (Ranking Member)
Tim Cullen
Nikiya Harris
Kathleen Vinehout

Elections and Urban Affairs (5)
Lena Taylor (Ranking Member)
Mark Miller

Energy, Consumer Protection, and Government Reform (5)
Dave Hansen (Ranking Member)
Mark Miller

Financial Institutions and Rural Issues (5)
Julie Lassa (Ranking Member)
Bob Jauch

Government Operations, Public Works, and Telecommunications (7)
Bob Wirch (Ranking Member)
Nikiya Harris
Jennifer Shilling

Health and Human Services (5)
Jon Erpenbach (Ranking Member)
Tim Carpenter

Insurance and Housing (5)
Tim Cullen (Ranking Member)
Jon Erpenbach

Judiciary & Labor (5)
Fred Risser (Ranking Member)
Nikiya Harris

Natural Resources (5)
Mark Miller (Ranking Member)
Bob Wirch

State and Federal Relations (5)
Tim Carpenter (Ranking Member)
Fred Risser

Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs (5)
Tim Carpenter (Ranking Member)
Dave Hansen

Universities and Technical Colleges (5)
Jennifer Shilling (Ranking Member)
Jon Erpenbach

Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue (5)
Bob Jauch (Ranking Member)
John Lehman

Joint Committee on Finance
Jennifer Shilling (Ranking Member)
Bob Wirch

Joint Committee on Audit
Kathleen Vinehout (Ranking Member)
John Lehman

Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules
Nikiya Harris (Ranking Member)
Kathleen Vinehout

Legislative Council
Fred Risser

Mark Miller

Survey of Retirement Systems
Dave Hansen

Major revisions proposed for Milwaukee’s historic preservation ordinance

December 11, 2012

Major revisions to the city of Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Ordinance will be

presented to the Historic Preservation Commission this afternoon, and will be heard by a

Common Council committee next week.


Alderman Robert J. Bauman and Alderman Terry L. Witkowski co-authored the

revisions, which represent the first major overhaul of the ordinance since its enactment over 30

years ago. Following review by the Historic Preservation Commission, the file will be reviewed

by the Council’s Zoning & Neighborhood Development Committee. This review may occur as

soon as December 18. Aldermen Bauman and Witkowski both serve on the zoning committee.

The file will be discussed in a meeting starting at 3 p.m. TODAY, Tuesday, December

11, 2012, by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) in room 301-B at City Hall, 200

E. Wells St.


Among the major changes contained in the ordinance revisions is a complete overhaul of

the procedure for obtaining a “certificate of appropriateness,” or CoA, which is the permit

required to perform various types of work (including demolition) on designated historic

buildings, sites and buildings within historic districts.


The revisions also:

Provides the Department of Neighborhood Services with enforcement powers to prevent

“demolition by neglect”.

• Requires that developers seeking to demolish a historic structure and develop a new

building in its place prove that they have the financial resources to build that new


 Creates language requested by the City Attorney establishing an economic hardship

standard and review procedure for the owners of historic buildings, sites and buildings in

historic districts.

 Creates time frames (i.e., a maximum number of days) for various actions to occur and

decisions to be made. Examples: HPC staff shall determine whether an application is

complete within 10 days of receiving it, and HPC itself shall hold a public hearing on a

nomination within 45 days of the date staff determines the application was complete.

HPC staff shall also notify a CoA applicant of HPC’s decision on the CoA application

within 15 days of the Commission’s action. Previously, there were many indeterminate

dates in the ordinance – the changes are meant to help applicants better understand the


 Changes “interim (historic) designation” to “temporary designation,” and expands the

temporary designation process to apply to sites and districts, as well as individual


 Provides more details on the procedures for appealing an HPC decision-deferral action to

the Common Council.

 In the case of an application for a CoA for a new construction project that also involves

creation of a “planned development” (a type of zoning change), requires that HPC’s

consideration of the CoA be coordinated with the city Plan Commission’s consideration

of the zoning change.

 Creates a procedure to appeal HPCs’ rejection of a historic designation nomination to the

Common Council.

 Directs the HPC to establish a plaque program to identify and provide information on

local historic structures, sites and districts.


After today’s presentation to the HPC, the file will be heard during a special meeting of

the Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee on December 18. If

recommended for adoption at committee, the file would then move for approval by the full

Council (also on December 18).


County Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo: “County Board fiddles as Mental Health System Burns”

December 11, 2012

An Open Letter to Media and Residents of Milwaukee County from Milwaukee County District 17 Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo 

County Board Fiddles as Mental Health System Burns

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the federally mandated watchdog group Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) sent a letter to the State’s Department of Health Services requesting the Department suspend or terminate Milwaukee County’s license to operate its psychiatric hospital. The County Board reacted to this very serious and unprecedented request by doing absolutely nothing. 

Within the last three years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS has issued two separate immediate jeopardy citations to Milwaukee County, highlighting unacceptable deficiencies leading to life-threatening situations for our patients. More recently, we have learned that the District Attorney has opened a John Doe investigation into one of the six deaths that has occurred at the County facility this year, and there may be more. Hospital administration has also failed thus far to comply with approved Board policy, calling for a more community-based approach to our delivery of care model.  

Despite the urgent need for community-based mental health services and continuing heavy use of the County’s psychiatric emergency room, the administration has yet to spend funds allocated for an expansion of community-based services — funds available since January 2012. Furthermore, the 2013 budget approved by the Board put the interests of employees ahead of patients, approving an amendment spending $400,000 to continue operating a case management program with County employees rather than community providers and denying amendments to expand community services using funds saved from downsizing inpatient care.   

Yet, as all of these problems are revealed, the County Board fails to honor its oversight responsibility for these publicly funded services by continuing to turn a blind-eye toward the patients trapped within this system, opting instead to focus on events in an airplane hangar, issues solely under the control of the City, or when Santa Claus will be appearing at Kosciuszko Park.

After years of studies, warnings and repeated requests to modernize and to reform this vital program, for the County Board to sit back and do absolutely nothing is deplorable. The lives of people with mental illness hang in the balance. Clearly, their only hope is to have the State once again takeover where the County Board has failed.

I join DRW in calling on Secretary Smith to step-in and to take decisive action that will protect and improve the lives of these individuals with mental illness, who rely on safe and effective programs and services to maintain their health and their ability to be contributing members of our community. 

St. Francis sisters hope to transform Marian Center into apartments

December 10, 2012

By Katherine Keller

The Marian Center, 3195 S. Superior St., currently provides low-rent office and performance space for 35 nonprofit businesses in the side-by-side Loretto and Rosary halls, landmark buildings that overlook Bay View Park and Lake Michigan. Loretto Hall is pictured above. —photo Katherine Keller

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi have partnered with Milwaukee-based developer Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. to redevelop the Marian Center for Nonprofits into 44 affordable apartments.

Located on the convent campus in St. Francis, the Marian Center, 3195 S. Superior St., currently provides low-rent office and performance space for 35 nonprofit businesses in the side-by-side Loretto and Rosary halls, landmark buildings that overlook Bay View Park and Lake Michigan. Prior to 1991, the buildings housed St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic high school for girls.

Cardinal Capital president Erich Schwenker said the $10 million project would be financed chiefly through federal housing tax credits, although Milwaukee County would contribute $100,000 through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and $822,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds. HOME funds support projects that provide affordable housing. Milwaukee County receives block grants and HOME funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The HOME funds will be used for construction while the CDBG funds will be used for soft costs such as architects, planning, etc., said Jim Mathy, Milwaukee County’s Housing Administrator. “It is common for developers to receive these types of subsidies when doing affordable housing, especially if some of the units are for supportive housing for people with disabilities,” he said. “There is no local tax levy used in that program.”

The affordable housing units, offered at below-market rent rates, would include 18 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, and 6 three-bedroom apartments; 11 will be accessible units for tenants with special needs. Mathy said the target population for the special needs units are people served by the county’s Disabilities Services Division—people with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and sensory disabilities.

To qualify for affordable housing, tenants may earn no more than 60% of the median income in Milwaukee County. Rent for affordable housing units is not subsidized.

The proposed development needs the approval of the St. Francis City Council. If the proposal succeeds, the sisters will sell the building but retain ownership of the land beneath it.

The plan calls for razing Loretto Hall. Schwenker said Cardinal Capital is submitting a plan that lies strictly within the existing footprint. “The intent is to preserve the façade and special architectural elements like porches and stairwells, for example,” Schwenker said. “The stairwells don’t meet certain current codes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be incorporated, if not incorporated as primary stairwells.”

He noted that green elements are planned. “We think of preservation as green. We will work with green-certified contractors and tradespeople,” he said. He cited “green carpeting,” as an example, which is made with non-toxic fibers and adhesives.

How Tax Credits Work
Developers apply for federal tax credits through the state agency, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Requested funds far exceed available credit, making the allocation process competitive. Each project is scored according to how it meets WHEDA’s criteria. If a project receives an allocation, the developer receives tax credits that can then be sold on the open market. Large institutions like banks usually buy these tax credits, paying between 60 and 75 cents on the dollar in exchange for the developer’s allocation of credit. These equity investors buy the developer’s allocation up front, giving the developer equity to invest in a project’s capital costs immediately. The program effectively reduces the cost of the project, allowing developers to offer lower, affordable rents in exchange for participation in the program.

Schwenker said the Marian Center project would be 99.9 percent owned by the equity investors. Cardinal Capital will manage the property, he said, and they must meet the goals of all parties, “almost like a trustee,” including keeping up the building for the sisters. “We like to manage our own properties because it is the only way we can assure all the regulations are met for WHEDA, the county—for everybody,” he said.

The Sisters’ Decision

The sisters established the Marian Center in 1991 when St. Mary’s Academy closed. The nonprofit center is one of their sponsored ministries, said Sister Diana De Bruin, Associate Director of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, to provide affordable space for nonprofit organizations, which was in keeping with the sisters’ service values. A sponsored ministry is a separate nonprofit business. Two sisters serve on the board of directors of each of their sponsored ministries.

Currently Loretto Hall, at full capacity, houses 20 nonprofit businesses, while another 15 are in Rosary Hall, with one vacancy.

Sister Diana De Bruin, Associate Director, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. —photo Stella deVenuta

Marian Center Executive Director Charlane O’Rourke-Hertig said the sisters hoped the center would pay for itself, when they set up the organization 21 years ago. She noted the buildings were already in need of repair when the school closed. “They have discovered the center is not self-sustainable. Rents would not be affordable if we charged enough to pay for the cost to operate and maintain the building,” she said. The sisters have loaned over a million dollars in the past 20 years to subsidize operating and capital expenditures [of the Marian Center]. “Repayment of the loan is unlikely,” O’Rourke-Hertig said.

The estimated cost for repairs and improvements is $4 million including roof work, replacement of thermally inefficient windows, tuck pointing, and repair of damage caused by a broken second-floor bathroom sewer pipe. Repairing the broken pipe would likely involve asbestos removal, she said.

In 2003 the sisters realized that the Marian Center was not sustainable, and they began searching for a way to make the building profitable, De Bruin said. “We asked the sisters to dream. The sisters dreamed of many things from humble to grand. A sentiment that was high on their list was to work with people who are disabled,” she said. Another of the sisters’ sponsored ministries, she noted, is St. Coletta in Jefferson, Wis., established in 1904, which provides residences and services for people with developmental disabilities.

De Bruin, O’Rourke-Hertig, and Schwenker said they began exploring ideas for Loretto Hall after Cardinal Capital began managing Juniper and Canticle Courts—two senior housing residences on the convent campus, four years ago. “We asked the sisters if they would be willing to work with them. We looked at a couple of other developers but the sisters were looking for family housing. Cardinal Capital was willing to develop family housing and special needs housing. So we chose them because they would really fit well,” De Bruin said.

At the Nov. 13 public meeting, Schwenker said he expects the project will advance even if they don’t win WHEDA’s (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) tax credits in 2013.

Erich Schwenker, President, Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. —photo Stella deVenuta

Schwenker also said, during an interview after the public meeting, that the project would have advanced even if the county hadn’t offered funding. “It would have moved forward, but not necessarily with 11 units for people with disability,” he said. “When the county learned of the [HUD] funding, they contacted all of the people who do what I do. The county is making sure disabled people will have housing. This is a good answer for the sisters about what to do next and was the best answer for the sisters for their social values.”

Benefits for the Sisters

If the project materializes, the sisters will benefit in four significant ways. The first is that they will be relieved of the burden of trying to maintain the deteriorating Loretto Hall. The second benefit is financial. Schwenker said he is hopeful that “a potential outcome at the closing would be that the sisters receive some kind of lease payment for the land, which is a legitimate thing to do.” The third is a clause to be included, Schwenker said, in the Loretto Hall sale agreement that gives the sisters the right of first refusal in 15 years, when the building becomes available for purchase. (After 15 years, the investors no longer benefit from the tax credits, at which time the building will be available for purchase.) The purchase price would be the amount of the remaining mortgage debt, Schwenker said.

Perhaps the least tangible benefit but the one that is essential, Sister Diana De Bruin said, is that the development is one that is in concert with the sisters’ values. Because two of their members will sit on the board, the sisters will have a say in the operation and oversight of the building and operations.

Neighborhood Disruption?

In August, news of a possible residential development in the Marian Center reached Bay View residents who live in the neighborhood north and adjacent to the sisters’ property, raising concern, if not outright alarm.

About 150 people attended the Nov. 13 public meeting to learn about the proposed redevelopment of the Marian Center for Nonprofits. -—photo Stella deVenuta

About 150 people attended the Nov. 13 public meeting hosted by District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas, whose constituents reside to the north and west of the convent grounds. Those who spoke at the meeting were primarily Bay View residents and property owners. The questions and comments they posed concerned financing, ownership and management of the proposed project, environmental and quality-of-life impacts, the cost per unit of the proposed development, the effect of the development on their property values, the affordable housing units, potential problems created by tenants with disabilities, the historic and natural assets of the buildings and land, taxpayer money funding a private development, increased population density, and which sections of the sisters’ property are within the city of Milwaukee.

Haas said he organized the meeting in response to calls from his constituents with questions and fears about the project, and complaints that they had learned of the project through their neighborhood grapevine, rather than from the sisters, the developer, or from the city of St. Francis.

One of the Bay View residents who knocked on doors to inform neighbors of the proposed development and the November 13 meeting was Janice Rach.

Rach, who lives on Rhode Island Avenue, said she fears the effects of greater population density and is very concerned for the well-being of the natural beauty of the sisters’ property that includes an orchard, gardens, Deer Creek, and green space. (Seminary Woods is not part of the sisters’ property.) She is also concerned about rumors of low-income housing.

Dubious of the sisters’ financial distress, Rach asked, “They need money? How did they afford all the new copper on their steeple and the exterior of the church?” She said her desire to get accurate information about the sisters’ plans for Loretto Hall was frustrated when she spoke with O’Rourke-Hertig in August and September. On both occasions, Rach said, O’Rourke-Hertig told her “nothing was in the works although [the sisters] were in the preliminary stages of exploration.”

Rach said she was dismayed when she learned from her county supervisor Jason Haas, on Sept. 10, the same day she’d spoken with O’Rourke-Hertig, that “there’s a plan all set and that the [County Board’s] Economic and Community Development Committee was going to vote on it Sept. 17.” That vote would determine if the county would give a block grant and HOME funds to the sisters’ project, she said. A project named Marian Manor was to be built in the Marian Center, Rach learned from a document Haas provided. O’Rourke-Hertig confirmed that she spoke to Rach in August and September. “I told her we were considering alternate re-use of [Loretto Hall], more compatible with our mission and the mission of the sisters. I said the sisters were in the early stages of exploration and that once we made a decision, we’d inform the neighbors.” She said the Marian Center board and the sisters intended to inform their neighbors when WHEDA funding was finalized (mid 2013).

Jacky Smucker, 3153 S. Superior St., also opposes more density on the sisters’ campus. She opposes public funding for the project and wants more imaginative alternatives to be considered for both the convent grounds and the Cousins Center, south of the convent.

“It doesn’t seem that the role of county government is to bail out the nuns. A lot of people have gone into foreclosure and the nuns have taken a vow of poverty,” Smucker said. “Appearances would indicate,” she said, “that neighborhood taxpayers will subsidize a private developer to rescue a tax-exempt organization that can no longer manage the upkeep of its buildings.”

Instead of 44 apartments, Smucker would like to see single-family homes. She said she would also like to see the Cousin Center razed and replaced with green space like the Wehr or Schlitz Audubon nature centers.

Another neighbor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said he wants to support the sisters but thinks that this is a “round-about way for them to benefit from tax money,” admitting that their situation is difficult. Concerned about the below-market rent that would be charged for the affordable housing units, he said, “That still seems like a lot to pay.” He said he’s a proponent of ‘give someone a fishing pole, instead of a fish,’ to foster independence. “You don’t further your education, but you only need to earn 60% of median income and get an apartment in a beautiful place?” he said.

Bradley Hoernke, a life-long Bay View resident, who lives on Wentworth Avenue near Oklahoma, was upset “because people in the area weren’t notified of the plans the sisters were working on with Cardinal Capital for Loretto Hall.” He owns rental property in the area and said it is challenging to find good tenants. He doesn’t want to compete with landlords offering affordable housing. “There will be more competition for tenants if the Marian Center has 33 affordable units,” he said. “There are many units in St. Francis that are rented by people who would qualify for the units in the proposed Marian Center development.”

Instead, Hoernke wants all 44 units reserved for people with disabilities, whom he said, usually can’t afford to live in beautiful apartments by the lake. “Bottom line,” he said, “the development should be for the truly needy like the elderly and people who need special accommodations.”

New copper trim and gutters ornament elements of the Nun’s Chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. —photo Katherine Keller

Yvonne Lewandowski-Moss, who graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in 1987, lives on Wentworth Avenue near Bennett. She is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Aging Consortium, and supports the sisters’ plan, especially housing for people with special needs or disabilities. She said there is a need for housing for people with a range of special needs: the elderly, disabled veterans, older adults with Alzheimer’s, and people with hearing or vision loss. “I think it would be wonderful to have apartments for people with disabilities at the Marian Center. Disability doesn’t make anyone more or less of a person. I truly think the sisters have thought this through,” she said. “I think the sisters are doing the very best for the community. Look at what Sister Edna has done at St. Anne Center for Intergenerational Care.”

Allie Sturomski, 3316 S. Illinois Ave., also supports the development. She delivered a stirring address at the Nov. 13 meeting, advocating housing for people with disabilities, stating that she is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Currently a full-time student pursuing a psychology degree, she was employed for 21 years by agencies that worked through Milwaukee County Adult Social Services.

Her job was caring for mentally disabled adults and their families, including helping her clients find housing. She said some of the comments made at the meeting about living near people with developmental and physical disabilities were “uneducated, lacking in respect, immature, and premature assumptions about who they are.”

Sturomski, a 1980 graduate of St. Mary’s Academy, supports the sisters’ development dreams. She points to the care that the sisters take of their property and their openness to the public. “How many people walk their dogs on the property, tour the property, go there to take pictures? It’s the private property of the sisters but [when they see you] they smile and say, ‘How is your day?’”

She dismisses her neighbors’ worries about traffic problems that the development may pose. “I am not concerned about the traffic as this has been a property holding hundreds of students in the past who filled that parking lot daily [with cars]. It was a high school for a very long time and the neighbors have seen a lot worse. Students had their own vehicles, [so did] teachers, grounds crew, parents, visitors…That’s why there are so many large parking lots on the grounds. Boys picked their girlfriends up after school,” she said.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi established their congregation 163 years ago when six women and five men left Ettenbeuren, Bavaria in 1849 at the request of Archbishop J. Martin Henni, to serve as missionaries to the German immigrants in the Milwaukee area. They arrived in May 1849 and settled on the land they still occupy in St. Francis. The Marian Center for Nonprofits is located in Loretto Hall and in the adjoining Rosary Hall. Rosary Hall is the south building. Loretto Hall originally served as St. Mary’s Institute, a boarding school for elementary and high school students, and later as St. Mary’s Academy, a girl’s high school, which closed in 1991. Rosary Hall was built in 1931 and its expansion, Clare Wing, allowed for the development of St. Clare College in 1937. The school was renamed Cardinal Stritch College in 1946, when it moved to Yates Road in Glendale, having outgrown Rosary Hall.

Representatives’ Views

St. Francis City Council member Shari Franz said she was aware that the Marian Center needs major renovations but said she was “very surprised” when she learned the sisters had plans for a housing development. She said the plan would be reviewed by the Planning Commission, whose members will determine if the development fits the city’s development plan. She indicated a public hearing would be held if zoning changes were required.

Franz expressed concern about displacing more than 30 nonprofit businesses “even though they don’t pay taxes,” noting that they provide jobs and services to the community.

Franz is sympathetic. “My heart goes out to the sisters and their situation. I hope we can find a project to help them make money,” she said. “I don’t know if it is this project or another. The sisters are an important part of the city but we also have to look at the needs of the city.”

District 8 Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas said he’s heard from a number of his constituents who live directly north and west of the sisters’ property. “They are concerned about a sizeable development adjacent to their properties that will be more actively used and about the effect it may have on the neighborhoods,” he said.

The outcry among his constituents about the development was an important lesson, Haas said. “I learned that if you don’t inform the public, you leave a vacuum, then rumors will multiply and spread like a virus,” he said.

Pat Jursik represents Milwaukee County’s District 8, which includes St. Francis, and chairs the county’s Economic and Community Development Committee. She said she supports the development but not the neighbors who object to it. “A small vocal minority of non-St. Francis residents are trying to control property they don’t own. There will always be concerns with development but city of Milwaukee residents would like to control the development in St. Francis. When they contact me, I tell them, “You are not landowners,” Jursik said.

She noted that she “absolutely” sees a need for accessible housing in Milwaukee County. “Those units are filled almost immediately,” she said.

Jursik didn’t hold public meetings about the sisters’ plans or the vote by her committee to provide funds, she said, because the public is not invited to comment in the earliest stages. She regards Cardinal Capital as a well-respected developer and doesn’t think Schwenker or the sisters erred in their timing. “Nobody brings the people in at the ground floor,” she said. “I would ask people to look at the quality projects of these sisters, to look at what they have done, and judge the future in that light. Why people think that they won’t continue to be so, actually is upsetting to me,” she said.

Christine Sinicki, who represents Wisconsin’s Assembly District 20, which includes both the area surrounding the sisters’ property and the property itself, said she doesn’t feel strongly for or against the project but she disagrees with Jursik regarding residents’ rights to voice their opinion or preferences about the development. “Bay View people had no clue that the County Board was considering the project. County Board Supervisor Pat Jursik is pushing it but doesn’t represent the Bay View residents, who will be most directly affected by it,” Sinicki said. “There was no effort to get the public’s input about the project. I have a lot of respect for County Supervisor Jason Haas, but he should have informed his constituents about the proposed project before the vote was taken at the county level.”

Sinicki is concerned about potential negative environmental impacts created by construction, construction traffic, and by the development itself, especially to the “fragile bluffs” directly east of the Marian Center.

She said that if there are tenants with emotional or mental disabilities who may be dangerous, she wants security systems and monitoring in place. “There is a daycare center, two elementary schools, and a high school within walking distance of the proposed development. We need to know how [residents] will be monitored,” she said.

Next Steps

Schwenker said Cardinal Capital would make its presentation to the city of St. Francis in the first quarter of 2013. He will know if his firm wins the desired tax credits by May. He projects it would take six months to sell the credits to investors. He projects construction would take 12 months and would be complete in late 2014 or early 2015.

The 52-unit Juniper Court residence for seniors is located in a building on the campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. It was formerly the St. Anne Health Infirmary and served the members of the convent’s congregation. The trees in the foreground are part of the convent’s orchard. -—photo Gretchen Theisen

Juniper Court and Canticle Court

The redevelopment of the Marian Center would be the third residential development by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi on their campus. Cardinal Capital has managed Juniper Court and Canticle Court for the past four years. In addition to developing affordable housing, the company specializes in the management and compliance of Section 8 and Section 42 properties. Cardinal would manage the redeveloped Marian Center, if the project materializes.

Canticle Court  48 units
New construction. Opened in 1989. HUD funded entire project. Funded by WHEDA loan and a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

36 one-bedroom units
12 efficiency units

All units classified as affordable; five are accessible (set up for residents with special needs) 

Juniper Court  52 units
Development/re-use of the campus building that was formerly the St. Anne Health Infirmary that served the convent. Opened in 1994.

1 two-bedroom unit

3 one-bedroom plus den units

42 one-bedroom units

  6 efficiency units

16 units are classified as affordable; 36 are classified as market rent. 



Fox Crossing Little Free Library

December 10, 2012

Kellie Krawczyk painted the decorative elements, including the dog in the window.
—photo courtesy Cynthia JohnsonThere is a new Little Free Library in Bay View. It stands within the triangle known by area residents as Fox Crossing, the little piece of city-owned land bounded by Superior Street and Oklahoma and Illinois avenues.

Pam Millington, one of the project organizers, learned about the Little Free Library movement earlier this summer and was inspired to create one in her immediate neighborhood. She talked to her neighbors at a summer block party and found there was enough interest to make it happen.

Neighbor Dave Johnson designed it, provided materials, and constructed it. Millington painted the frame and Kellie Krawczyk painted the decorative elements, including the dog in the window. Alderman Tony Zielinski helped with city permits required to install it on the city property.

Millington said the LFL has been really busy since it was installed in November. “Books turn over completely every week. People drop off books and take them,” she said. She invites residents to come to the library to pick up and drop off books.

Top row from left: Kellie Krawczyk, Tony Zielinski, Ed Heinzleman. Bottom row from left: Natalie Krawczyk, Pam Millington, Dave Johnson, Betsy Tole —photo courtesy Cindy Johnson

The Natural Path closing

December 10, 2012

Owner John Miksa has closed his alternative wellness business, The Natural Path, which he operated at 2910 S. Delaware Ave. since August 2000. Miksa, who is following his partner to Dallas, Texas, said he’d hoped to sell the business to the massage therapists he’d worked with but that the sale did not materialize.

In addition to selling herbs and nutritional supplements, Miksa’s services included massage, nutritional analysis, herbal recommendations, biochemical blood analysis, aromatherapy, ear candling, and cleansing.

“It was a complete pleasure serving my fellow Bay Viewites. The people of Bay View have been so good to me,” Miksa said. “It’s with a heavy heart that I’m leaving.”

He said he would continue to operate his business in Texas but change it to an online store.

Truancy program

December 10, 2012

A member of the Bay View Neighborhood Association requested that the Compass publish the phone numbers for the non-emergency calls to the Milwaukee Police Department and for the TABS (Truancy Abatement and Burglary Suppression)  program. These numbers have been added to our list of Bay View organizations on page three.

TABS is a Milwaukee-based intervention program developed in 1993 to confront problems of truancy and juvenile crime by identifying habitual truants.

TABS team members include members of the Milwaukee Police Department, employees of Milwaukee Public Schools, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

There are two TABS centers—one on the north side and one on the south side—each resides in one of the city’s Mary Ryan and Don & Sallie Davis Boys & Girls Club. (The south side center is located at 1975 S. 24th St.)

According to the Boys & Girls Clubs website, there are two MPD officers on each TABS team. Each day these officers “identify truant youth on the streets of Milwaukee and bring them to a TABS Center inside the Mary Ryan and Don & Sallie Davis Boys & Girls Clubs. …Each TABS center consists of a Milwaukee Police Officer, a school liaison officer, a school social worker and a Boys & Girls Club case manager. Collectively, the TABS staff checks for warrants or missing-person reports, looks at school demographics and attendance information and reviews the case. After this initial evaluation process, a case manager meets with habitually truant students to identify and discuss factors contributing to the truancy. If necessary, the case manager coordinates follow-up services with the school, parents, guardians and whoever else is involved with the youth. The goal is not to punish youth for missing class, but to attack the root causes of truant behavior so they can return to school and thrive.”

More info:

South Side TABS Team: (414) 385-3100
(direct line to MPD officer on TABS team)
Milwaukee Police Department Non-Emergency:
(414) 933-4444

Making Bay View stronger

December 10, 2012

By Jennifer Kresse

Cream City CrossFit expanded operations to this 6,000 square foot space in August 2012. —photo Jennifer Kresse

Howy Hensen fights fires and burns fat.

He helps build strong bodies, too. He’s the owner of Cream City CrossFit gym, 300 E. Ward St., west of Robinson Ave. His new gym, opened in August, is 6,000 square feet, four times bigger than the space where he started two years ago. His original first gym was in Steve Ste. Marie’s Bay View Laundromat building, 2510 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. In addition to operating his gym business, Hensen is a Milwaukee firefighter, currently stationed at the firehouse on KK next door to the laundromat.

Hensen said he is an accomplished skydiver, martial artist (black belt Jujutsu), emergency medical technician, and former big-box-gym trainer. “I wanted to open my own gym,” he said, “because I knew that I could give people better service than they were currently getting at any local gym.”

Hensen knew what he wanted in a gym and what he didn’t. The same is true for his approach to his start-up. He took the where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way approach, launching his business in April 2010 without a loan. His business plan was to start small and to put profits back into the business.

Hensen’s gym is an affiliate of CrossFit, Inc., a network of 4,500 gyms located all over the world, but predominantly in the United States. Greg Glassman, with his wife Lauren Glassman, created CrossFit, Inc. in 2000. Their gyms are known for their “back to basics” fitness training regimens and for the virtual community that serves affiliates and connects gym members. Affiliate gym owners pay an annual fee to license the CrossFit name.

The gym is set up for members to work out in a guided, group setting. All workouts consist of functional training modalities that are quantifiable, repeatable, and practical, or sets of varied, functional exercises, done at a high level of intensity. Daily workouts are scaled to the individual so that people (athletes, as Hensen refers to his clients) of all ability levels can work out alongside one another. “We scale to the proper intensity for each athlete, always putting form before intensity so that we avoid injury,” Hensen said. “We put an emphasis on strength and it is done in such a way that our athletes do not gain bulk. As a result, waistlines shrink,” he added.

There is no ‘typical’ member. Although the gym welcomes adults of any age, members are typically between ages 20 and 50, and there is roughly an equal split between men and women. Hensen said he has trained women throughout their pregnancies, people who had never set foot in a gym, cancer survivors, as well as elite athletes.

New members generally begin with a series of six classes, scaled to their individual fitness level. The classes teach members proper body mechanics and core exercises that focus on the tenets of CrossFit, including improving stamina, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. They will work with barbells, pull-up bars, kettlebells, climbing ropes, and medicine balls to effect more complex body movements rather than working on traditional gym equipment to isolate and work specific muscles. Hensen tracks his athletes’ progress on the gym’s website. “Everyone who shows up and puts in the work at my gym succeeds,” Hensen said.

Howy Hensen. —photo Jennifer Kresse

Hensen requires no contract; the first class is free. Members pay by the month; the price is based on the number of classes taken in a given month. Discounts are provided to retirees, and to military, police, and fire personnel. Family discounts are available and one-on-one personal training can be arranged.

Opening a gym in Bay View was an obvious choice, Hensen said, because it is where he lives and works. “This is a great community with small town charm and all of the fun and excitement of the big city,” he said. “By running Cream City CrossFit, I feel that I am doing my own small part to make

Bay View an even stronger community. Pun intended.”

Cream City CrossFit • 300 E. Ward St.

(414) 333-7646 • + Facebook

Quaker joins Sid’s car shop crew

December 10, 2012

By Jennifer Kresse

Buddy, the Quaker Parrot, on his perch at Sid’s Auto Repair. —photo Jennifer Kresse


“Caaaaaaaaw! Screeeeeeeee! Chuck-chuck-chuck. Urrr-ooh?” That’s what the new greeter at Sid’s Auto Repair, 3166 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. may call out when you step inside the car shop. The greeter is Buddy, a gregarious juvenile Quaker parrot. He sits on the counter next to mechanic Glen Bradley, who tends to the phone and counter at Sid’s.

Buddy commutes to work with Glen every morning. “He likes car rides,” Bradley said. “He gets excited about them.”

The parrot is 4 months old and although still a few months away from talking, Bradley already has him in the early stages of learning to say “hello” and is teaching him to flap his wings on command.

Buddy spends his days at the shop, sometimes in his cage, but the friendly, curious creature can also be found strutting along the counter, sitting on top of his cage, or on Glen’s wrist “What he usually does is, he’ll knock down his swing, or his pinecone, and he knows that I’ll open up the cage door to put it back up, and then he comes out. Yeah, he’s tricky,” Bradley laughed.

Glen Bradley and Buddy. —photo Jennifer Kresse

Bradley wasn’t always a bird-lover—not until a small, weakened lovebird (member of parrot family) appeared outside of Sid’s this summer. He took pity on the bird. Glen nursed him back to vigor with food and water, and then found a home for the bird with a family who had another lovebird. That rescue changed Bradley. “I kind of fell in love with it. I liked the idea of having a bird. I’d never thought of [it] before,” said Bradley.

Bradley acquired Buddy from a breeder in Twin Lakes, Wis. in early September. The breeder assured Bradley that Buddy’s wings were clipped but even so, Bradley discovered, traumatically, that Buddy “could fly just fine.” As Bradley was transporting the parrot from the car to his Bay View home, Buddy escaped through the cage door that was ajar. He called Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) to report the missing bird and searched the neighborhood. “I was out until four in the morning looking for him.”

Fortunately, a neighbor spotted the parrot sitting on her garbage bin the next day. She called MADACC to report the bird. Buddy was reunited with Bradley about 24 hours after the escape, thanks to MADACC and Bradley’s good neighbor.

Bradley is going to keep on top of Buddy’s wing-clipping, which he said should be done every three months or so. “Gary’s Pet Jungle does it for, like four dollars. And that way I’m not the bad guy,” Bradley said.

Bradley, who is single, often socializes the bird with his four nieces and nephews. “I go over to my sister’s, who lives across the street. They have four kids and they get to play with him and feed him treats. Usually I’ve got to get him [on my finger] and then hand him over, but once he’s on the kids, he’ll climb up on their shoulder,” Bradley said.

Being lavished with attention seems to augment Buddy’s cuddly, gregarious personality. “Customers love him,” Bradley said.


Now that the election’s over, can we talk about the election?

December 10, 2012

By Jay Bullock

Thank goodness the election is over, so now we can move on to something completely different: the election.

I know, it hardly seems fair that we have no time to breathe or pretend that other things matter for a while, but when it comes to the future of public schools, it’s time to start talking about the spring 2013 election.

I say this because of the “post-Act 10 world” we’re living in. Act 10 was the bill passed by the state Legislature in 2011, which, among other things, made it harder for public employees like teachers to have a voice in working conditions or compensation. Act 10 was followed shortly after by a harsh 2011-2013 state budget which not only cut funding for schools but severely limited districts’ ability to supplement missing state funding.

As for the April election, four-ninths of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors is up for grabs. None of the Bay View-specific seats are on the ballot—neither District 8 member Meagan Holman nor Citywide member Terry Falk will face election again until 2015. But two seats in the districts adjacent to Bay View are on the ballot, those of District 7 member David Voeltner and District 5 member Larry Miller (the board’s vice president).

Voeltner and Miller represent the city’s southwest and east sides, respectively. Both have provided reliably pro-student voices and votes on the board, fighting, for example, superintendent Gregory Thornton’s inclination to increase the number of charter schools in the district.

Also up are two north side seats, those of Annie Woodward and Peter Blewett. Blewett is not running for re-election.

The way that MPS responds to post-Act 10 realities to support—or not support—its students will be determined by the make-up of the board, which means interested parties on all sides will be ready for battle this spring. Pay attention, in particular, to the fight for Blewett’s open seat, and don’t be surprised if Voeltner faces a strong challenge.

Also important is the race for state superintendent. The current officeholder, Tony Evers, has put forward a plan to rewrite the state’s school-funding formula in a way that is much more fair to urban and poor districts that don’t have the resources now to meet the needs of their students. His plan would send needed state funding to these districts.

Evers’ plan, called “Fair Funding for Our Future,” tackles the funding problem in several ways, starting with setting a minimum level of per-pupil funding and restoring the pledge for the state to pay two-thirds of school districts’ costs. Further, by adding a “poverty factor” to the state funding formula, Evers’ plan does not continue to over-burden property-poor communities who cannot fund schools adequately via local property taxes. He attempted to get his plan put in place in the last budget.

His plan is not popular with the people who currently write the state budget. In fact, it is 180 degrees from the school-funding plan announced by Governor Scott Walker at the Reagan Presidential Library in California last month, where Walker stated he wanted to tie funding to performance. Walker’s plan is a sure way to further punish underfunded districts—rather than provide a fair level of funding to all students.

In that same California speech, Walker outlined plans to radically expand both vouchers for private schools and charter schools across the state.

As I write, no one has emerged to challenge Evers, but given recent politics in Wisconsin, there seems little doubt that someone much closer to Walker’s position—low taxes, punitive funding, sucking public money away into private schools—will challenge Evers. Re-electing Evers, who has Wisconsin’s schools foremost in his mind, is critical.

Finally, a Wisconsin Supreme Court race will also be on the April ballot. Let’s be frank: A whole lot of the past two years’ of Wisconsin politics has ultimately ended up in court. A whole lot more probably will, and it is entirely possible that the court will soon see school funding cases.

Or see them again. In 2000’s Vincent v. Voight ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to declare the state’s twisted school funding system unconstitutional, but it left the door open to a challenge if future plaintiffs could clearly show that funding reached “inadequate” levels.

Put these pieces together and get what? The possibility that a strong, student-centered MPS board, backed by a fair-funding advocate in the state superintendent’s office, might be able to convince a student-sympathetic Supreme Court that the starvation budgets of the last two years—and the foreseeable future under Walker and his allies—are absolutely inadequate.

I am convinced we have to be thinking about the election.

Note: Just before this issue went to press, State Representative Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) filed paperwork to explore a campaign for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction seat, currently occupied by Tony Evers.

Jay Bullock teaches English at Bay View Middle and High School, blogs at, tweets as @folkbum, and can be emailed at


Looking forward to leftovers

December 10, 2012

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

During a demanding week darkened by the flu, I find myself looking forward to the Christmas break. Early in December, we will attend parties with colleagues and friends and spend an afternoon with aunts, uncles, and cousins we rarely see. Then our daughter has a long break from school, and my husband and I have a few days’ break from the office.

Of course, I’m looking forward to cookie baking (and eating!) plus gatherings with the extended family. I like the excuse to get out my heirloom china and serve a meal on it, and maybe I’ll even retrieve a tablecloth from the dark recesses of a closet. Opening presents on the 25th is a lot more fun than shopping for them; the gifts and meal demonstrate love between family members.

We will probably attend church and bake some cookies for Santa. We might read the book Santa Mouse by Michael Brown, which was a favorite of mine when I was growing up. My childhood memories of Christmas revolve around that book, three or four particular Christmas tree ornaments, attending church, and making spritz cookies. I find that the memories that have stayed with me through the decades are those of fairly simple elements that were repeated.

This year, I’m looking forward the most to the pleasantness of the day after Christmas. It should be a very quiet day at the office and maybe I’ll have a new sweater to wear. At home, our gift bags will be set aside to use another year, stacked up like the tasty leftovers shelved in the refrigerator. I hope that the weather will be warm enough for a starry walk and that there will be enough snow this year for an after-work sledding outing.

The holiday hubbub will be replaced by contentment. I’m looking forward to that, and to leftovers!

I hope our daughter grows up to enjoy the glitz of big, busy days, and also the calm of the quieter days.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at


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