51 state lawmakers urge Gov. Walker to fully expand Medicaid

June 26, 2013

“Few simple strokes” of his pen all that’s needed

It’s still not too late for Governor Scott Walker to fully expand Medicaid in the state budget, say 51 state lawmakers who urged him to use his broad veto power to take advantage of the federally funded health care expansion.  In a letter delivered today to Walker, the lawmakers told him “a few simple strokes of your veto pen” is all it would take to accept the expansion.

“The door is still open for Governor Walker to use the state budget to take this good deal for Wisconsin,” Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) said.  “Fully expanding Medicaid will guarantee more people access to affordable health insurance, bring billions in federal health care dollars back to Wisconsin and create 10,500 jobs.”

Walker’s plan drops Medicaid coverage for 89,000 parents and rejects $2.4 billion in federal funds that could be used to insure 85,000 more people on the joint federal-state health insurance program

“We are giving Governor Walker yet another chance to do the right thing for the hard working people of Wisconsin,” Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said.  “There is absolutely no advantage to rejecting this money and giving it to people in other states.

Richards and Erpenbach are co-authors of the Strengthen BadgerCare Act, legislation that would fully expand Medicaid in Wisconsin.


Ald. Murphy: AB/183/SB179 would remove Milwaukee’s landlord registration program, benefit absentee landlords

June 20, 2013

Legislators think they know what’s best for Milwaukee neighborhoods 

Statement from Alderman Michael J. Murphy 

The Republican-controlled state Legislature is once again meddling in the City of Milwaukee’s affairs, and this time it affects properties owned in nearly every neighborhood in the city.

The intrusion I am referring to is a bill (AB 183/SB179) now moving through the Legislature that would eliminate the City of Milwaukee’s landlord registration program – an incredibly successful initiative the city, residents and neighborhood associations use to resolve problems and hold landlords accountable when they have problem tenants or are negligent in maintaining a property. The bill has already passed the Assembly, has had a hearing in the Senate and could be voted out of the Senate committee any day now.

Of course the bill was drafted at the behest of absentee landlords who do NOT like to hear about problems at their properties and who prefer to make it as difficult as possible to reach them. The bottom line is that the quality of life in an entire neighborhood can be affected by just one or two problem properties, and the landlord must be held accountable when problems occur.

In my view, this bill is just another effort to stick it to Milwaukee at the expense of nearly every neighborhood in the city, and to benefit a select group of landlords.

I urge all city neighborhood associations and groups to take action and contact the members of the Senate Insurance and Housing Committee to ask them to support amending the bill to allow the city to maintain the landlord registration program. Please let them know how important the program is to the city and your neighborhood.

The committee members are:

Senator Frank Lasee (Chair) 608-266-3512


Senator Luther Olsen 608-266-0751


Senator Dale Schultz 608-266-0703


Senator Tim Cullen 608-266-2253


Senator Jon Erpenbach 608-266-6670


Tippe Park Earth Day clean-up & tree planting

June 1, 2013

By Brandon Maciejewski
Clement Avenue School, Grade 8


From left: Dave Kakatsch, Will Martins, and unnamed child from the community. —photo Jason Haas

On Saturday morning, April 27, many people from Clement Avenue School and Friends of Tippecanoe Park gathered at Tippecanoe Park for the Tree Planting Day and Park Clean-Up to celebrate Earth Day. The park is located right behind Clement Avenue School, 3666 S. Clement Ave.

Some people like me live in another neighborhood. My dad is the president of the neighborhood association in my community. His secretary, Mary, was at the Earth Day clean-up and tree planting event. She organized the cleaning part of the event.

Many kids were there but only a few were strong enough to dig holes because the dirt was course from lack of planting. Over two dozen trees were planted including apple, pear, cherry, pawpaws, plum, hazelnut, and kiwi vine. A grant was procured through the Victory Garden Fruity Nutty Tree Orchard Initiative to fund the event.

The kids that weren’t strong enough to dig holes were the ones picking up the garbage that was scattered throughout the park. In the morning when people were arriving, there was an assortment of pastries and coffee and water.

Later, at lunch, they had hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, relish, and water. Also, the Klement’s Racing Sausages came to the school to race and to take pictures with the kids. There weren’t that many kids there, though.

I counted at least 10 families that go to the school. The rest were either adults or kids that didn’t go to the school. When it was time to get to work, we got into groups of four.

From left: Unknown volunteer, Spencer Kelley, JoAnne Wojciechowski, Scott Slick and Alan Kasinski. —photos Jason Haas

From left: Unknown volunteer, Spencer Kelley, JoAnne Wojciechowski, Scott Slick and Alan Kasinski. —photos Jason Haas

We had to dig 30, 3 foot by 1 foot holes that were shaped like bowls. The people that organized the clean-up and tree planting event were part of a gardening group.

So, in conclusion, I saw at least 10 families from the school. There were 30 trees that had to be planted.

By noon all 30 trees were planted and the park was in good order. We are looking forward to sharing in the fruits of our labor with the community.


Bay View’s Deer Creek forced mostly underground

June 1, 2013

By Anna Passante

This 1859 survey map of Milwaukee County shows Deer Creek’s course from its emergence near today’s intersection of South Kinnickinnic and East Norwich Street to Lake Michigan, probably east of the present location of the Beulah Brinton Community Center. —digital map from collection of Katherine Keller. Original map in the collection of AGSL, UWM.

CLICK TO ENLARGE DEER CREEK IS ON THE RIGHT AND RUNS THROUGH A. L. KANE’S LOTS  This 1859 survey map of Milwaukee County shows Deer Creek’s course from its emergence near today’s intersection of South Kinnickinnic and East Norwich Street to Lake Michigan, probably east of the present location of the Beulah Brinton Community Center. —digital map from collection of Katherine Keller. Original map in the collection of AGSL, UWM.


Editor’s Note:  Recently a Facebook discussion revealed that many residents are unaware that Deer Creek still flows above ground for part of its course, and although it is dry for most of the year, in spring when the snow melts, its water flows behind the  convent and chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, 3211 S. Lake Drive. Following is the story we ran in September 2008 about history of Deer Creek, especially of its fate as the Bay View community developed.

At one time Deer Creek flowed through the Bay View neighborhood. Unfortunately, due to frequent flooding of areas bordering the creek bed, city officials decided in the 1890s to divert the creek into the city sewage system. Presently, all that is left of Deer Creek is a short stretch that meanders through the grounds of the St. Francis Seminary, located on South Lake Drive.


Meandering Stream

“Starting from a spring near the intersection of today’s South Kinnickinnic Avenue and East Norwich Street, Deer Creek wound its way through the present grounds of the St. Francis Seminary and cut across South Illinois Avenue to the intersection of South Delaware and Oklahoma Avenues,” wrote historian Bernhard Korn in his book The Story of Bay View.

The creek continued north at this point, following South Delaware Avenue. When the creek reached East Estes Street, it detoured west a short distance, connecting with South Ellen Street. According to Arthur Hickman, in his memoir, Bay View As I Remember It, “this little detour was known as the ‘Devil’s Elbow.’” Hickman claimed that the creek continued running north parallel to Ellen Street, actually “about 100 feet west of it.” When the creek reached South Pryor Avenue, it went under a wooden bridge and emptied into a marshy area. (Later, this marshy area would be the location of Lewis Playfield.)

“From here the course of the creek has always been unclear to us,” claimed Hickman. Nevertheless, the creek “reappeared” on the other side of the railroad tracks and formed Deer Creek Pond, a sizeable body of water. According to Hickman, and verified by archival maps, the creek drained into Lake Michigan via a tunnel under the railroad tracks just south of East Lincoln Avenue.

Flooding Problems

Deer Creek created major flooding problems for neighborhood residents. The creek was not only fed by the natural spring but also was a drainage route for all the land between South Superior Street and South Kinnickinnic Avenue. This combination of spring water and drainage water caused this intermittent flooding.

As far back as 1879, there had been talk about draining the creek, but it wasn’t until the 1890s that the city of Milwaukee decided to construct sewers to divert it.

In 1893, the Milwaukee Common Council authorized construction of “an outlet sewer alongside of Deer Creek, from the east line of the right-of-way of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Co. to Lake Michigan…”

The 1893 annual report for the Milwaukee Board of Public Works reports, “Two large trunk sewers will receive the outflow, one emptying into Lake Michigan at the mouth of Deer Creek [at Lincoln Avenue], and the other at St. Paul Avenue [now Rusk Avenue].”

Both sewer outlets were completed the following year at a cost of $36,301.83. (In the 1930s, however, in order to stop the flow of wastewater into the lake, these two sewer outlets were bulkheaded and the wastewater was directed into new sewer lines that traveled north to Jones Island.

Unfortunately, these two sewer outlets did not solve all the flooding problems and more storm sewers and catch basins were constructed over the years.

In 1902, a 84-inch combined sewer was built along South Delaware Avenue, and according to the 1902 annual report of Milwaukee Board of Public Works, 90 feet of six-inch clay sewer pipe was laid at the southwest corner of Rusk and Kinnickinnic Avenues to help drain the pond.

Another area targeted was the point where Deer Creek left the seminary grounds. According to plat maps provided by Tony Kotecki, a civil engineer with the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, a 60-inch combined sewer (sanitary and stormwater combined) was installed in 1918 near the present intersection of South Illinois, East Rhode Island, and East Fernwood Avenues. From this point, sewer pipes directed the flow of water west on Fernwood Avenue and then north along South Indiana Avenue to East Oklahoma and South Delaware Avenues.

Flooding continued to plague South Delaware Avenue residents into the 1920s. “In 1921, due to a combination of heavy rains and clogged sewers, Delaware Avenue became an elongated lake,” claimed Hickman. “The only access to the front door of Brandt’s market, near the Trowbridge Street School, was by boat.” As a result, recalled Hickman, a larger intercepting sewer was built under the full length of Delaware Avenue, and no more flooding occurred.

Altered Landscape

Ultimately the creek disappeared from the landscape. The old creek bed along South Delaware Avenue was paved over with concrete, and the part of the former Deer Creek Pond became the site of the Beulah Brinton Community Center and playground.

Yet, the creek has left its legacy in Bay View.

Mr. Webo’s

June 1, 2013

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Jon Bartels painted the mural that adorns the walls at Mr. Webo’s.  —photo courtesy Mr. Webo’s

Jon Bartels painted the mural that adorns the walls at Mr. Webo’s.
—photo courtesy Mr. Webo’s

The southwest corner of Lincoln and Howell avenues (2301 S. Howell Ave.) seems to be a launching pad for Mexican restaurants. The spot has housed Guanajuato restaurant before it moved a tad south to 2317 S. Howell. Before that it housed Xel-Ha which relocated a bit north to 2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and changed its name to Riviera Maya.

The newest tenant is Mr. Webo’s, another Mexican restaurant, making three similar eateries at the Kinnickinnic, Howell, and Lincoln avenues nexus. But the owner of the current restaurant, Roman Torrez, is not concerned about being near other Mexican restaurants.

“I’m not at all concerned about that,” said Torrez. “I knew I was going to provide something different from both [Guanajuato and Riviera Maya], he said about his decision to set up in Bay View. It is like having a McDonald’s and a Burger King across from another or like on Fifth Street with La Fuente and Botana’s near one another. In a way, it’s good for business. Our atmosphere is different and that it’s small helps out a lot.”

Mr. Webo’s can seat 40 people indoors, and Torrez plans to open the outdoor patio in early June. The business has been operating since February but has not held a grand opening. One is tentatively set for June 6. After the grand opening, Torrez plans to offer consistent delivery each evening. Currently, delivery is available only when Torrez can spare the staff.

Notable menu items include Mr. Webo’s signature tacos containing chorizo and egg plus the usual taco toppings and a side of cilantro rice and beans for $9.95. Fish tacos made with tilapia are $12.95.

Torrez says the restaurant is a little more expensive than other Mexican restaurants because everything is made to order. For example, the meat is never frozen and not cooked until the order comes in.

Customers who can handle the extremely hot habanera extract—named The Sauce That Killed Elvis, with a “straight face,” earn themselves a house margarita. Crying and coughing are disqualifiers, as is begging for water.

The restaurant does not currently have a head chef.

Diners can’t miss the mural that celebrates the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), a Mexican holiday that honors deceased friends and relatives. Jon Bartels, a tattoo artist at Walker’s Point Tattoo Co., created the mural.

Torrez can glance out his restaurant’s front door window and see the business where he once worked. It’s now Café Centraal, 2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., but was Gull Pharmacy when he was a child. Torrez said he worked there when he was 12, performing simple jobs like stocking the soda machine while his mom worked at the same pharmacy. His mother lived on Winchester Street and his father one block west on Mound Street. (Both are between Bay St. and Lincoln Ave.)

Mr. Webo’s
2301 S Howell Ave.
(414) 395-3075
Mr.webos.com + Facebook


Student filmmaker’s work screened at Cannes

June 1, 2013

By Jennifer Kresse

Bay View native, Humboldt Park School alum, and UWM student Michael Viers (VY-ers) can add 2013 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner to his resume.

Poster promoting Viers’ senior project, a short horror film, From the Darkness Theatre.

Poster promoting Viers’ senior project, a short horror film, From the Darkness Theatre.

In response to the prompting of the film’s producer Gregory Bishop, 21-year-old Viers’ submitted his short horror film From the Darkness Theater. To his astonishment, it was selected. The fictional film is a glimpse into the private life of Uncle Seymour Cadavers, a local television horror show host.

Organized by the Cannes Film Festival, the Short Film Corner was designed to aid emerging filmmakers by providing a stage to showcase film shorts. Bishop attended the 2012 Cannes festival and felt that Viers’ film had a good shot.

Mary Viers said her son Michael has always been artistic and creative, but it wasn’t until junior high or high school that he developed an interest in filmmaking. Viers began making movies in high school (Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory) where he started a film club with some friends.

Viers said watching the special features section of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds DVD made a big impact on him. He said he turned to his mother and said, “This looks fun. I think I can do that.”

Another influence was John Carpenter’s Halloween and seeing it was pivotal. Viers said it is his favorite film, though he is also a fan of Brian De Palma, among others. The horror genre has become his métier. “I guess I want to make something that gives others the same reaction [Halloween] gave me.

From left: Logan Peterson, Michael Viers, and Robbie Nielsen in a lighting class recreating a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. They’re shooting with a 16mm Bolex camera. —courtesy Michael Viers

From left: Logan Peterson, Michael Viers, and Robbie Nielsen in a lighting class recreating a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. They’re shooting with a 16mm Bolex camera. —courtesy Michael Viers

Although he was accepted by Columbia College, both the Los Angeles and Chicago schools, and by the Vancouver Film School, Viers said they were too expensive despite scholarships he was offered. Instead he chose UW-Milwaukee and hasn’t looked back. “UWM teaches its students to get a camera and be creative… We’re taught how to explore themes and to tell stories in new and creative ways. Some other film schools may pump out ‘machines’ that can shoot very well, but how are their storytelling abilities? I feel that’s where we UWM students excel: creativity, storytelling prowess, and ingenuity,” he said.

Michael Viers and Mom Mary Viers at their home on South Pine Avenue. —photo Jennifer Kresse

Michael Viers and Mom Mary Viers at their home on South Pine Avenue. —photo Jennifer Kresse

Mary Viers had concerns about her son choosing to major in filmmaking. “At first I was not happy about it… I worried he may be picking a field that would make it difficult to make a living,” she said. “But I know how much of a passion he has for it, so I finally said, ‘If it makes you happy, do it.’”

She watched Viers work on From the Darkness Theater through all its stages and was consulted by her son during production. “Mom was my biggest support structure,” Michael said. “She read most of my scripts, gave me her advice, and watched every cut… She is one of my greatest collaborators. Plus, she used to star in [my films].”

Viers joked that his ultimate goal as a filmmaker is “not to starve,“ and he plans to continue to write and direct, but said that making a living editing films would agreeable. “There [are] options and ways to support oneself through filmmaking. It may not be making huge Hollywood blockbusters, but there’s money to be made,” he said.

When Viers learned he was selected for the short corner at Cannes, he said, “I was in completed disbelief.” His mother hugged him and cried when he told her the news. “I was so proud of him. It was bittersweet. We lost my husband, Michael’s dad, just a year ago and I wish he could be here for this,” she said.

Selection was only half the battle. Viers wanted to attend the festival. “I told him he absolutely had to go. We would find a way to afford it,” Mary Viers said.

Cindy Flechner, who works at Humboldt Park School’s Community Learning Center, collected about $230 from HPS teachers and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. Viers attended HPS from K4 through Grade 8 and is currently employed in their CLC program. Part of the donation was used to rent a tuxedo.

The generosity of the people at his alma mater touched Viers. “It’s, for lack of a stronger word, amazing,” he said. “I loved [attending HPS] because it had a strong teaching staff and a community I feel other schools lack. You felt special for going to HPS.”

That feeling extends to his south side community. A habitué of the cafes and theaters on Kinnickinnic, Viers’ heart is in Bay View. “We treat each other like a large family. I’ve had so much help from local businesses during my career as a filmmaker. It’s home.”


BVMH&S technology students hatch stylish homes for feathered friends

June 1, 2013

By Sheila Julson 

Aspiring engineers, architects, and construction professionals joined forces this spring to create practical and stylish homes for Milwaukee’s feathered friends.

High school students in the Academy of Engineering and the Building, Architecture and Technology (BAT) program at Bay View Middle and High School collaborated to design, engineer, and build birdhouses.

The middle school students in Gateway to Technology provided the artistic design and painted the birdhouses. Students in grades seven through 12 participating in the Academy of Engineering and the Building, Architecture and Technology (BAT) program at Bay View Middle and High School collaborated to design, engineer, and construct birdhouses. Under the guidance of BAT faculty, the students engaged in the high tech R&D to create 30 birdhouses.

The finished houses, painted in vibrant colors, were offered to the public at the Bay View Neighborhood Association’s Bloom and Groom plant sale at the Humboldt Park Pavilion May 18.

BAT Program Director Amy Johnson, said the students involved showed overwhelming enthusiasm during all phases of the project. “It went past what we could have hoped for,” she said.



Senior Adam Villanueva with his birdhouse design on the computer display.    —photo by Amy Johnson

Senior Adam Villanueva with his birdhouse design on the computer display. —photo by Amy Johnson

The design process began in Fred Sanders Intro to Engineering Design class comprised of students in grades nine through 12. The students worked with Inventor, a 3D software program used by engineering professionals for design and product simulation. “The kids had fun, and showed some finesse,” Sanders said, remarking that some of the designs created by the students were quite elaborate and displayed much creativity.

Norm Kopp, an engineer from Joy Global, came to the school and spoke to the students about the steps involved from product design to manufacturing. Johnson said Joy Global was committed to partnering with Fritsche Middle School— and now to Bay View Middle and High School—to educate and inform kids interested in pursuing engineering careers.

The faculty created a competition for the birdhouse design and plan. Three finalists were selected, and then Kopp chose the winning design, created by 9th grader Chris Rasmussen. His birdhouse design is square, with a flat removable roof to allow for easy access for cleaning, and a hole in front to allow the birds to enter. There are no mounts or holes for hanging on the back panel, which allows the birdhouse owner to attach mounts or drill to his or her own preference, or to just place the birdhouse on a patio or garage ledge. The avian domiciles are made from biodegradable particleboard.

Third-place winner Baldemar Chavez, a 9th grader who opted for a slanted roof for his house, said much thought went into the design process. His class spent nearly three weeks in the research phase, studying birds and calculating wingspans and body sizes. “I liked working on it,” Chavez said.

Rasmussen’s design was forwarded to Mark Bajurny’s Construction Processes 2 class for the building process. Using the plan and specs from the Intro to Engineering Design class, the students measured and cut the wood and constructed the birdhouses suitable for finches and robins.

Like homes for humans, exterior design, paint, and colors are crucial to the finished birdhouse. BAT instructor Kristi Smet said 28 of her algebra students calculated the surface volume to determine how much paint was needed. “The students like hands-on projects,” Smet said.

Seventh grade students enrolled in Karen Ciezki’s Gateway to Technology class created laminated templates from images downloaded from the web, as well as their own artistic designs, and painted the birdhouses accordingly. Designs included images of birds, cartoon and video game characters, sports team logos, the iconic Superman “S” triangle, and patterns of both bold and pastel flowers and stripes.

The Gateway to Technology class covers aspects of electricity, circuitry, wind power, and hydropower. Past class projects included replicas of wind turbines and wooden mini-race cars designed to gauge speed and velocity. Many students concurred that the birdhouse project was a favorite because it was a little different than past projects and because they were given creative control.

Student Joshua Yang chose images from the video game Ib to paint on his birdhouse. He painted all of the characters freehand. Yang, who likes art said, “I liked the project because you could do whatever you want.”

BVM&HS Grade 7 Project Lead the Way students with the birdhouses they painted.     —photo Jay Bullock

BVM&HS Grade 7 Project Lead the Way students with the birdhouses they painted. —photo Jay Bullock

Nehemiah Day said he wants to be an engineer and appreciates the challenge of the Gateway to Technology class. “It’s not easy,” he said of the class. But the birdhouse project was ideal because he could be creative. “You could do it your way,” he said.

The idea for the Superman logo on Syerra Banks’ birdhouse “just came to her,” and she incorporated various designs among the Superman “S” and the word “love.” She said that she likes to draw, and also said she enjoys the Gateway to Technology class.

“It’s a fun class and never boring,” said Quintianna Siharath who also liked the birdhouse project. She eagerly pointed out her birdhouse with its colorful exterior of stripes and flowers.

Birdhouses for sale

Wisconsin’s unpredictable May weather cooperated for the Bay View Neighborhood Association’s Bloom and Groom sale May 18. Many people attended the event. When the Compass visited the event midmorning, 10 of the students’ artful birdhouses had already sold, along with flats of impatiens, geraniums, hostas, and other flora.

Johnson and Yang attended the sale and talked up the birdhouses to customers. There was no set price for the houses, instead the students accepted donations that averaged around $10. The students will decide how to use the profits from the birdhouse sale. “Originally we had wanted to treat the students to breakfast but that is now up for discussion. Some of the students still want breakfast, others want to purchase more supplies and make more birdhouses. Ultimately, the students will decide how to use the proceeds and I am thinking they will want a nice breakfast,” she said.

Any funds left over will go toward future projects, which Johnson said might include a fall bat-house construction project in time for Halloween.

Bay View Neighborhood Association’s Nichole Williams said she learned of the birdhouse project when her husband, Brad Williams, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) instructor, toured Bay View Middle and High School with MPS STEM Curriculum Specialist Antonio Rodriguez. (Brad Williams teaches at Milwaukee’s STARBASE program, which is funded by the Department of Defense and State of Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. It is a STEM science camp offered to all 5th graders in the Milwaukee area.)

Williams saw the birdhouse project and knew “it would be right up his wife’s alley,” Nichole Williams said. She then contacted MPS’ Believe In Bay View Steering Committee. She was referred to Amy Johnson. She told Johnson she would like to sell the birdhouses at the 2013 BVNA Bloom and Groom plant sale.

“It’s a great way for the community to see what the kids are working on,” Williams said, and explained how the birdhouse project ties in with the overall neighborhood spirit of the Bloom and Groom sale.

The plant sale stems from a city of Milwaukee improvement projects program comprised of 18 neighborhood groups, Williams explained. As part of an effort to beautify Milwaukee, the city partnered with Lowe’s home improvement stores to offer $1500 worth of flowers to neighborhood organizations for only $750, thus enabling the organization to sell flowers such as impatiens for as little as $6 a flat.

Williams said she has heard positive comments about the birdhouses from people who attended the sale, and the organization looks forward to partnering with Bay View Middle and High School for future projects and events.

Yang grinned when customers paused to admire the birdhouses on which he and his peers worked so hard.

“The kids need to see the finished product,” Johnson said and added that the students took pride and satisfaction with the teamwork involved and a job well done.

Mrs. Cameron and her HPS Second Graders win!

June 1, 2013


Mrs. Cameron and her second graders won Second Place at the MPS District Science Fair. May 9 held at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Their project was “Food For Thought.”

Bottom row from left: Omar Al Ithawi, Zu Ra Ma, Kaylee Wood, Emily Herr, Than Su, Mrs. Cameron; Row 2:  Benjamin Blasczyk, Mulubran Yosief, Lance Thao, Atticus Chang, Abbas Al Odhaimi; Row 3: Leng Moua, Anthony Mercado, Napoleon Her, Ashton Her, Isabelle Merlin; Row 4: Lorenzo Duarte, Gabriella Schauer, That Pai, Haia Al Zein; Row 5:  Kaleah Aziz, Fernando Gamboa, Phillip Jeffries, Joel Bustos, Daniel Gottfried


Sarah Christie CMA’s Excellence in Youth Music Instruction honoree

June 1, 2013

Sarah L. Christie of Bay View was honored for Excellence in Youth Music Instruction.  She is Community Partnership Manager and Development Associate at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Christie joined the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2007 as Scholarship Coordinator. She manages MYSO’s Progressions program, an intensive string-training program that provides lessons and orchestral training to elementary school minority students who reside in Milwaukee. She is also involved with MYSO’s other urban music initiatives. In addition to her work at MYSO, Christie maintains a small studio of violin/viola students who are graduates of the Progressions program, and performs viola with the Festival City Symphony. Christie earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music and business from UWM.

SUMMER SOUND — Songwriters take stage at Chill

June 1, 2013

By Jay Bullock

As Humboldt Park’s Chill on the Hill and South Shore Park’s Farmers Market get underway in June, audiences have a chance to hear some fantastic songwriting.

The acts opening Chill on the Hill’s season Tuesday, June 4, include Walter Salas-Humara, lead songwriter of The Silos, a highly influential band that spearheaded the “alt-country” movement of the 1990s. In recent years, The Silos have continued to turn out country-flavored power-pop that depends heavily on Salas-Humara’s clever and literate songwriting. At Chill on the Hill, Salas-Humara leaves the other Silos behind to perform solo.

Peter Mulvey  —photo Seamus O’Sullivan

Peter Mulvey —photo Seamus O’Sullivan

Also taking the Humboldt Park band shell stage for June 4 are the Wooldridge Brothers, a (kind of) Milwaukee-based group that produced some very smart songwriter-driven rock in the 1990s. The brothers’ most recent record, 2009’s Days Went Around, was produced after Scott Wooldridge, the primary songwriter, moved to Minnesota. Guitarist brother Brian Wooldridge still lives in Milwaukee, and the two play together regularly, layering Scott’s wry wit over Brian’s jangly guitar. For Chill, the brothers will play with the full band and back-up Salas-Humara on several of his songs, too.

On the other side of Bay View, the South Shore Farmers Market also gets its season going with a treat for songwriting fans, hosting nationally acclaimed Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey on Saturday morning June 29.

Mulvey grew up on Milwaukee’s west side, including in the Sherman Park neighborhood, attended Rufus King High School and Marquette University before taking his musical ambitions to Boston for a few years. But Milwaukee was home, and he left Boston’s thriving folk music scene to return to family and friends.

“By the time I moved back,” he said in an interview, “I was pretty well established as a road musician. Once you’re on the road all the time, it doesn’t matter where you live.”

Besides, Mulvey said, Milwaukee was home to a great songwriting community, including Paul Cebar, John Sieger, Willy Porter, and more.

Currently, Mulvey takes his deep baritone voice and fingerstyle guitar on the road for 140 or 150 shows a year, he said, with only a handful in Wisconsin, including just a couple a year in Milwaukee or Madison. He’s made Fort Atkinson’s Café Carpe a bit of a second home, playing upwards of a dozen shows there every year, but most of the time he works on the road.

Even while touring, Mulvey is writing. He’s written one song every Tuesday for the last year, a practice he adopted in partnership with former Milwaukeeans Joe Panzetta, now living in Seattle, and Pamela Means, now living in Massachusetts.

“It has changed my songwriting,” he said, and not just because of the regular practice.

“If you know you’re going to be writing 40-odd songs in a year, you relax and you don’t let the great be the enemy of the good. You just write.”

Are they good songs? He said, “I’d say I’m batting about .250,” meaning he’s gotten maybe ten songs worth keeping in the last year. “Which for me is a huge leap forward,” he said. “It used to take me three years to write enough songs for a record. Now I have several records I could make.”

Besides writing a lot, Mulvey said, learning good songs written by others is a great way to get better. “If you want to be a songwriter, you’re probably someone who loves songs, and you have some that you can name that are really great. Learn them, find the mechanics of melody, harmony, and rhythm that the songwriter employs.” It’s the same reason, he said, why artists set up their easels in a museum and try to paint the Mona Lisa—you learn by doing what the masters do.

He added, “I have written hundreds of songs but I have learned thousands.” Indeed, he’s released two albums of covers, including The Good Stuff, his latest, which includes songs by Leonard Cohen, Duke Ellington, and Willie Nelson, among others.

A good song, he said, is one that doesn’t get in the way of the audience. “What draws me to a song is it feels like a place I can inhabit as a listener. My hero, Tom Waits, his songs are full of characters, and you want to get to know them, but he doesn’t tell you everything about them. They’re full of names of towns where you think you could go.”

The same is true in Mulvey’s songs. “Dynamite Bill,” for example, from Mulvey’s last album of original material Letters from a Flying Machine, is a sketch of several strange characters, including the Bill of the title, whose stories you want to know the rest of. A “letter” that precedes the song on the album explains that Bill was a real person—with real dynamite—known to Mulvey’s father, Bay View resident Frank Mulvey. “Marty and Lou,” “The Girl in the High Tops,” and “Me and Albert” are other recent Mulvey songs that sketch interesting characters.

Mulvey adds that good songwriters leave pieces for an audience to relate to. Noting that Waits’ songs are “full of food,” Mulvey explains that lately he finds something like that in his songs. “There are a lot of animals cropping up. Once there’s an animal, you can relate. ‘I know what that animal looks like.’”

In his 150 shows on the road a year, Mulvey doesn’t play many farmers markets. But he plays South Shore occasionally because his mother, Kathy Mulvey, has been involved in it for years.

“I love playing farmers markets because it’s a different kind of gig,” he said. “At my own gigs, I do a show, I talk to the audience and tell a story to set up a song. But at the farmers market, you’re just the guy at the edge of the market, the same guy that’s been there for years, that people listen to while they shop for rutabaga. I enjoy the anonymity of it.”

The Wooldridge Brothers, Brian (left) and Scott. —courtesy Wooldridge Brothers

The Wooldridge Brothers, Brian (left) and Scott. —courtesy Wooldridge Brothers

Walter Salas-Humara and the Wooldridge Brothers play Chill on the Hill at the Humboldt Park band shell Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30 pm (the Bay View Middle and High School Drumline plays at 6:00). Peter Mulvey plays the South Shore Farmers Market on Saturday, June 29 at 10:30 am. Follow Jay Bullock on twitter @folkbum.


Historic Mattuschek Brothers grocery building ravaged by fire

June 1, 2013

By Katherine Keller

Iconic Bay View building, 2547 S. Burrell St., extensively damaged by fire Saturday, May 11, 2013. —photo Katherine Keller

Iconic Bay View building, 2547 S. Burrell St., extensively damaged by fire Saturday, May 11, 2013. For more than 70 years it was owned and occupied by the Mattuschek family. —photo Katherine Keller

Fire rapidly swept through the second story of a beloved neighborhood icon May 11. The gabled two-story building, 2547 S. Burrell St., on the southeast corner of Burrell and Clifford streets was once Mattuschek’s Grocery.

Neighbors reported seeing smoke and flames from the second story windows around 11pm. One of the neighbors who was driving past when he saw flames, entered the building to warn its inhabitants.

Jay and Sandy Palokonis, who live a few doors south on Burrell, said that property owner Kirk Jung was downstairs talking to a couple of musicians when the fire erupted.

Jung, who has resided on the second floor for about 20 years, rents three studio/rehearsal spaces on the first floor to local musicians.

Nick Woods said he and his fellow band members who rented space in the building, estimate they lost between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of equipment. Woods a member of two bands, Direct Hit and Galactic Cannibal, said the losses would have been greater if he and Galactic Cannibal band members had not been playing in Madison the night of the fire. He said that drummers Danny Walkowiak and Ryan Bollis together lost about “two and a half” drum sets. Also lost were two PAs (public announcement systems) and electronics equipment.

Woods said his ’72 Fender Telecaster reissue guitar was salvaged by a friend of his who pulled it from the debris. He said that the guitar is in poor condition but playable.

Two more musicians arrived May 15 and recovered some of their equipment, Jay Palokonis said.

Woods said he and his band members are still in the process of determining the extent of their equipment that was lost or damaged by fire or water. None of the musicians, except Woods, had renters insurance but his losses were not covered because his insurer deemed his equipment as business rather than personal property.

Woods began renting the rehearsal space in January of this year. “It was one of the better practice spaces we rented. It was a decent space. We got along with the landlord, it was affordable. We got bang for our buck,” he said.

The owner’s brother “Doc” Jung, who resided with Kirk on the second floor, initially said he thought the building was covered by a fire insurance policy and that he hoped to restore the building. However, he later told neighbors he talked to his brother and said that the insurance policy may have lapsed. His brother, property owner Kirk Jung, was not available for comment. Doc Jung said that his brother has a mental illness and was admitted to the county hospital for a short period after the fire.

The building was assessed at $89,200 prior to the fire.

Historic Building Housed Saloon and Grocery Store

The permit to construct this building was taken out October 4, 1898 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

Carlen Hatala of the city of Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission said that Richard V. Mattuschek operated a saloon and grocery on the first floor of the premises and lived upstairs starting in 1901. (He may have been in residence in 1900 but the city directory for that year is missing.) Prior to 1901, Mattuschek was listed as “superintendent” in a building located on Ninth Street between Michigan and Wisconsin avenues.

Hatala said that Mattuschek might have originally leased the building from Schlitz and that later he may have purchased the building during Prohibition when the breweries were mandated to sell off their real estate. Alternatively, he may have purchased the building when it was first completed. 

City permit records indicate the building was used as a tavern and grocery store (Mattuschek’s Grocery) as late as 1972. Hatala found an annotation on the 1972 occupancy permit stating that the grocery store was in the family continuously for 70 years. Daniel Hornak is shown as the owner in 1975 and it was he who replaced first floor windows with concrete blocks. Kirk A. Jung is shown as the owner beginning in 1993. 

Hatala attributed the building’s preservation to the long owner-occupancy of the Mattuschek family.

Remnants of the store’s sign, painted on the brick wall, can be seen on the north façade.



Bay View BID considers loan for streetscape project

June 1, 2013

By Kevin Meagher



The Bay View BID’s proposed streetscaping plan includes enhancing the war memorial, located in the triangle formed by Kinnickinnic, Russell, and Logan avenues, with trees and other plantings, paved paths leading to the obelisk, and seating. —courtesy Milwaukee Department of City Development

On April 30, the Bay View Business Improvement District #44 held an information meeting to share its proposal for a street enhancement project for the district. It was one of the BID’s more well attended meetings where KK property and business-owners gathered to discuss the plans, and the possibility of a long-term loan to fund the project. BID #44 runs along Kinnickinnic Avenue from Becher Street to Morgan Avenue.

The draft streetscape plans, prepared by the Department of City Development, include tree and other plantings, street furniture, improved crosswalks, beautification of the base of the war memorial near BMO Harris Bank, street banners with corridor logos, and gateway signs at both Morgan Avenue and Becher Street. The choices for these amenities were based on a 2010 survey of BID #44 members, which was intended to prioritize improvements for the district.

The proposal document also makes note of a 100 percent matching low-interest loan/grant available from the city to finance the project. The mention of this loan in the invitation to BID members the week before may have been what drew such a large audience to the April 30 meeting.

“The best way to get people to come to meetings is to tell them you’ll give them something for free or tell them you’re spending their money,” said Ken Yandell, Studio Lounge Owner and BID #44 board member.

The audience came prepared with questions about how their money would be spent, how their taxes would be affected by the loan, and how long the extra tax burden would exist. While the BID #44 board members could provide some general information about the loan, they were unable to provide other basic details, such as the interest rate and term of the loan. According to Rhonda Manuel of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, the BID #44 loan would be $175,000 and the city would match that with a grant, putting the total estimated project cost at $350,000.

Although key questions were unanswered, Sarah Jonas, BID board member and Café Lulu co-owner, motioned to vote on the loan, but quickly withdrew it when the audience voiced their objections. Nevertheless, Jonas still felt the proposed plans were the right idea.

In an email provided to the Compass, Jonas wrote her fellow BID #44 board members the following day saying, “After last night’s meeting I was very disappointed and I am not sure where to go from here. The BID exists to enhance and support the local business environment and I believe the best way to do that is to use the appropriated funds to continue with the street enhancement plan as proposed.”

Jonas’ motion to vote on the loan was troubling to some BID #44 members, not necessarily because of the cost of the loan, but by the lack of concrete information provided.

Dave Brazeau, a co-owner of Salon Thor, 3128 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., called the motion shocking. “It seemed to many of us in the audience that nothing we said was being heard. No one knew the details behind the prepay penalty or even if the loan could be prepaid at all. No one knew if a matching grant could be awarded [by] just using the funds we already have saved up. I was happy to see that Sarah withdrew her motion,” Brazeau said.

Ada Duffey, former owner of the Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center, Inc., 2217 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., was another audience member concerned by the lack of details provided by the board members. She owns two properties in the BID, 2224-32 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and 2234-38 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

“No one on the board could answer the question of what the total amount of interest was that was going to be paid over the life of the loan. No one on the board knew what the prepayment penalty was on the loan…There appears to be a rush to get this loan complete, but no one has expressed a deadline,” Duffey said.

While Jonas’ fervor to get the project in motion may have caused a rush to vote, the public backlash was enough to cause some other BID #44 board members to rethink, or at least pause at the idea of taking out a loan. To date, board members have not submitted an official request for the loan to the city, and a BID #44 meeting that was initially scheduled for May 21 was cancelled by board president Jason Wedesky because he was still gathering information related to questions asked at the April 30 meeting.

In an email to his fellow board members, Yandell said, “The maintenance costs alone seem excessive considering our limited budget…I think we can force the project into existence but at great risk of rendering the BID irrelevant possibly for many, many years as we will have no budget to work with and numerous points from the survey still unaddressed.”


This diagram from the proposed streetscaping plan includes six of the principal project goals. —courtesy Milwaukee Department of City Development

Responses to the 2010 survey indicated the top five issues considered “extremely important” by BID members were:
1. Marketing/promoting of Bay View businesses, 2. Cleanliness of streets and sidewalks, 3. Overall attractiveness of KK Avenue, 4. Security issues, and 5. Parking Issues.

More dissatisfaction

Bill Doyle is not against progress in Bay View, but as an original member of the BID #44 board and longtime Bay View property owner, he said he has become disenchanted with the way the board handles business today. Doyle was instrumental in getting security cameras installed along KK before resigning from his post after completing a one-year term.

Today he is in favor of getting rid of BID #44 altogether if it continues to operate the way it does. “I’m all for killing the BID, if this is how it’s going to go,” Doyle said.

Doyle is not only upset about the lack of knowledge surrounding the loan proposal, but also about the lack of transparency with the BID board. At the April 30 meeting, no one could give a straight answer on how long a board member’s term is, how the board members are appointed, or how many people were even on the board, he said.

The 2013 bylaws for BID #44 state that the board shall consist of nine members, eight who must own property in the district, plus one non-owner who must be a representative of business in the district. The term of board members is three years, but members can continue to serve past the expiration of their term, if the mayor does not appoint a replacement. The mayor appoints all board members.

Often BIDs are formed out of a necessity in a neighborhood, according to Yandell. He said they are often developed from the top down around a need, but BID #44 was developed from the bottom up (in an effort led by Alderman Tony Zielinski), or rather it was first formed, and then the needs were addressed.

The burden that a loan could potentially add to BID #44 property owners’ taxes and the lack of attention to the south end of the district have caused some members to want out of the BID altogether.

“Those people on the south end of KK haven’t got a thing (from the BID). What is the point of indenturing a strip of property owners for such a long period of time?” said Doyle in response to the loan proposition.

Brazeau, a longtime critic of the BID agrees. “You would be hard pressed to find anyone south of Oklahoma [who] even wants to be part of the BID anymore. If no one south of Oklahoma wants to be part of the BID, then why force us to stay in the BID?” Brazeau said.

Like Doyle, Brazeau is not against improvements to KK, but he wants to see them done in a sensible way, without breaking the bank. Brazeau has tirelessly written the board members and city officials with questions about the street enhancements. In an email to Wedesky, Brazeau said, “I truly believe that another detailed survey should be sent out to the BID paying members explaining exactly what is being planned and let the results speak for themselves. There are some good ideas in the works; I just believe that the process could be handled differently.”

Wedesky and Yandell have both offered to meet with Brazeau to hear him out, but because of his growing distrust of the board members, he wants their responses in writing.

Not all opposed

Not all BID members are necessarily opposed to the plan or the loan, but other than Sven’s owner Steve Goretzko, none would comment on the record with the Compass. Goretzko, an outspoken critic of what he considers the BID’s unbalanced focus and investment in the intersection at Kinnickinnic, Howell, and Lincoln avenues said, “I’m for anything that makes Bay View better. I’m looking forward to a war memorial where a veteran can sit down.” The memorial is a stone’s throw away from his café.

The proposed street enhancement plan includes beautifying the memorial with trees and other landscaping and installing low concrete structures that would serve to visually frame the obelisk and provide seating. He said he would oppose an increase in the special property tax assessment BID members pay.

Bay View resident Patty Pritchard wrote to the board, suggesting they engage community members outside the BID. “Being part of the conversation will ensure a positive result and continued support of the great efforts the BID is making to truly improve this district,” Pritchard advised.

As far as Brazeau is concerned, the BID’s members—the property owners who pay higher property taxes that fund the BID—are those who should have the strongest voice in the conversation.

At press time, the BID board had not released an agenda for its next meeting.

Read the BID’s streetscaping proposal tinyurl.com/nosyrs

Updated June 3, 2013: Ada Duffey, not “Duffy,”  is no longer operating the Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center as originally reported. She owns two properties on KK and is a now working as a consultant. She owns two properties in the BID, 2224-32 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and 2234-38 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

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