CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Race, Jason Haas, Incumbent

February 29, 2016

Jason Hass headshotI am honored to serve as the District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor. My family lives in Bay View, and my children attend public schools in Bay View. They have grown up loving our county parks, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Domes. I serve to ensure they and future generations can enjoy our priceless community treasures.

As county supervisor, my priorities are clean parks, better transit, and community safety. I have championed public investments such as the Humboldt Park Beer Garden and the other wildly successful county beer gardens. I voted to add transit lines to job centers, and I got East Layton Avenue smoothed and repaved. I am now building a coalition to fight the heroin/opioid epidemic that is ravaging every community within Milwaukee County and across Wisconsin. 

1. What will you do about ridesharing (Lyft/Uber) access at Mitchell Airport? Do you support free access for Lyft and Uber, a regime of restrictions and fees, or some other plan? Do you intend to defer to airport leadership or formulate your own approach?

I think the county should allow rideshare pickups at the General Mitchell International Airport. If I am reelected, I will help make this happen. Mitchell Field is a public asset that is successfully owned and operated by Milwaukee County and overseen by the county board. While you can take Lyft or Uber to Mitchell, ridesharing service pickup is not allowed. I have spoken to many ridesharing customers and drivers who are frustrated by this policy. As many major airports allow ridesharing pickup, allowing rideshare pickup at Mitchell will be a competitive advantage.

2. What options do you recommend regarding the Mitchell Park Domes? Repair them? Dismantle them and build new domes in a new location? Or?

I want to save the Domes. They are one of Milwaukee’s greatest cultural treasures. I have great memories of trips there when I was a child, and my own children cherish them. Yet they have become the latest victim of deferred maintenance. I had voted to approve funds for emergency repairs on the Domes in 2014 and 2015. I demand answers as to why the Abele administration for so long refused to use money the board allocated for repairs. As I knock on doors in Bay View and the south side, people tell me they want to know why Abele spends money on a basketball arena while the Domes are being neglected. And they say, “Save the Domes.”

I will be present at the county board’s public hearing on the future of the Domes on Wednesday, February 24 (the Compass deadline for this response). After studying the engineering reports and listening to the public, the county board will find out how to make this possible. I look forward to bringing the Domes back to life.

3. Which of County Executive Chris Abele’s issues/proposals would you support and which would you oppose, if he were to be reelected?

While I laud Mr. Abele’s support for human rights, as county executive, Abele has destroyed the checks and balances in Milwaukee County government. Per Abele’s request, the state Legislature gave him virtually unchecked ability to sell county-owned land. He can now sell many county assets, including General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee County Zoo, and at least 43 county parks, without public review. That is how he sold the $9 million Park East land to the billionaire Bucks’ owners for $1.

A more frightening example is how Abele used taxpayer dollars to purchase an empty lot in the Uncas Park neighborhood at Third and College, and a $5 million contract for an outsized commercial residential facility was approved without public debate or consent. The neighbors were not informed until after construction had begun. Violent sex offenders and former BHD patients are now housed there. Abele can do this anywhere within Milwaukee County, including Bay View. The public has absolutely no power of objection, save for voting him out of office on April 5.

4. Humboldt Park Pavilion needs renovation badly. What would you do, if elected, to restore the pavilion to a high level of quality? What skills and/or connections do you possess that might bring in partners to fund such a project so taxpayers would not have to pay for the renovation?

As county supervisor, I championed the Humboldt Park Beer Garden. It is a very successful public-private partnership and a celebrated part of our Bay View community. Our partners at St. Francis Brewery performed many thousands of dollars worth of renovations, safety enhancements, and plumbing repairs. They brought the entire north side of the pavilion back to life as the Bavarian Room. Starting last year, a portion of proceeds from beverage sales were put into a dedicated park maintenance fund. Every glass you enjoy at the beer garden directly benefits Humboldt Park.

I laud the Bay View Neighborhood Association for its ongoing commitment to Humboldt Park. BVNA’s creation of Chill on the Hill brought the community back into the park, and the park improvements and the volunteer contributions are priceless.

Additionally, I secured a $5,000 private donation for Humboldt Park Friends, which has worked directly with the County Parks Department to plan restroom renovations. Work is expected to begin on the women’s restroom this year, with the men’s restroom to follow in 2017.

5. What is your opinion of the Bucks’ arena agreement? How do you think it could have been improved to benefit Milwaukee County taxpayers?

I think the arena agreement is a bad deal for Milwaukee County. The single biggest improvement would have been to make the billionaire Bucks’ owners pay for the new arena themselves. My constituents repeatedly told me they would not support public funding of the arena. However, County Executive Abele got the law changed so he could sell the Park East land to the Bucks for $1 without any public oversight. While the owners got a sweet deal, Milwaukee County taxpayers got a raw deal. We are now obligated to pay the Bucks $80 million. Surprisingly, that roughly matches the estimated cost to repair and restore the Mitchell Park Domes. Either way, the county has less money to fund parks, transit, deferred maintenance, and social services than it did before the deal was made.

Read his opponent Franz Meyer’s candidate interview.


CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Race, Franz Meyer, Challenger

February 29, 2016

Small Franz Meyer Headshotgrew up in a big, blue collar Midwestern family where I learned the value of hard work. Whether I was sweeping the floors at my mom’s ice cream shop or watching my dad literally wring the sweat out of his shirt after a day working construction, I learned the only way to be successful was to give your work everything you had.

While teaching high school science in Milwaukee Public Schools and attending Marquette University for my master’s degree in education, I met so many people embodying the same values of hard work and fairness. That’s the main reason I have made Milwaukee and Bay View my home.

Today, as a teacher and coach, I work alongside young educators, students, and families every day to build rigorous and relevant classrooms that will propel our students forward as thinkers and leaders. After the bell rings, I hit the pavement as a volunteer community organizer to continue conversations about other needs in our community. By collaborating with a diverse set of partners, our efforts have made positive changes for our community.

When I’m not working, I enjoy playing frisbee in the parks, running, and attending as many festivals as possible.

1. What will you do about ridesharing (Lyft/Uber) access at Mitchell Airport? Do you support free access for Lyft and Uber, a regime of restrictions and fees, or some other plan? Do you intend to defer to airport leadership or formulate your own approach?

I intend to listen to airport leadership, taxi services, and ridesharing representatives before making a final decision, but the principle that guides me is fairness. To charge taxi services a fee in order to operate at the airport and not charge the same fee to the ridesharing services is to effectively subsidize ridesharing and create an unfair playing field. I would expect to have the same regulations for people providing the same service. Many other airports are beginning to regulate Lyft and Uber, so we will be able to see the impact of restrictions and fees in other cities, like Minneapolis.

2. What options do you recommend regarding the Mitchell Park Domes? Repair them? Dismantle them and build new domes in a new location? Or?

Trips to places like the Domes helped me fall in love with the natural world and become a science teacher. Milwaukeeans deserve a world-class botanical garden, where children and adults alike can explore the wonders of the natural world, and the Domes have been that for us. I believe we should invest in this community asset to ensure future generations of Milwaukeeans have the opportunity to visit the Domes as well. Renovating the Domes so they last long into the future will be expensive, but it is these kinds of investments that will help Milwaukee move a step ahead.

3. Which of County Executive Chris Abele’s issues/proposals would you support and which would you oppose, if he were to be reelected?

The county board’s biggest priorities should be on investing in infrastructure and services that will support our communities now and for the next generation of Milwaukeeans. I support bus rapid transit because that is the start of a new, more efficient transit system to move people around the city. I support the housing-first approach to ending homelessness as one that actually helps individuals break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. I support making more long overdue capital improvements in our parks to ensure the green necklace remains intact for future generations. I am opposed to the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program because it is bad policy that not only takes away from our district’s ability to focus on students instead of politics, but because there are better ways for the county to support our students and communities. Finally, a balanced legislative and executive branch with checks on each other is important for the long term future of county government.

4. Humboldt Park Pavilion needs renovation badly. What would you do, if elected, to restore the pavilion to a high level of quality? What skills and/or connections do you possess that might bring in partners to fund such a project so taxpayers would not have to pay for the renovation?

I am strongly in favor of restoring the pavilion in Humboldt Park, as well as those in other parks to a high level of quality. Instead of investing in things like the Estabrook dam that will cost $7 million dollars and which organizations like Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Urban Ecology Center say is bad for the river and for fishing, we could invest some of that money into improvements that will transform the pavilion for the next generation of Bay View residents. In order to determine the best route forward on this project, I would leverage the skills I learned in community organizing to ensure that those who use the park the most will have the highest quality facilities.

5. What is your opinion of the Bucks’ arena agreement? How do you think it could have been improved to benefit Milwaukee County taxpayers?

The Bucks Arena Agreement was a missed opportunity for our county. John Oliver, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Simmons, and others have weighed in on how bad a deal this is for our region. The public is on the hook for over $80 million dollars for an arena that will be, at best, revenue neutral over the next 20 years. If Milwaukee County is going to invest in a private institution like the Bucks’ arena, then I believe we should have also demanded a similar capital investment in another Milwaukee County institution. I’m not against making big investments in our county, but I want to make sure that they benefit the residents of the county more than billionaires from New York City.

Read his opponent Jason Haas’ candidate interview.


CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Aldermanic District Race, Tony Zielinski, Incumbent 

February 29, 2016

Tony Zielinski headshot

Tony Zielinski

During my three terms on Milwaukee’s Common Council (2004 to the present), I’ve had many opportunities to listen, lead, collaborate, and generally make a difference for Milwaukee residents. Currently I chair the city’s Licenses Committee and sit on the Community and Economic Development Committee, and Steering and Rules Committee.

I began my public service career in 1988 as District 12 supervisor on the Milwaukee County Board and was then reelected for three more terms. Over those 12 years, I served as chair of the Judiciary, Safety, and General Services committees and as a member of the Personnel Committee.

I hold a bachelor of art’s degree in political science from UW-Milwaukee, a master’s of business administration from Cardinal Stritch University, and a law degree from Marquette University Law School. For high school, I attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield.

Ever since my youth I have geared my educational training and life experiences toward providing myself with the tools necessary to be the best public servant.

Outside of work, my interests include working out, chess, and reading—and enjoying the vibrant communities that make up Milwaukee’s District 14.  

1. What do you believe the role of the District 14 alder should be in encouraging economic development?

District 14 has experienced record economic growth exceeding anyone’s wildest expectations! We are the envy of the rest of the city. This was partially achieved through proactive, aggressive, and relentless planning and effort. That is the role of the District 14 Common Council Member.

The Historic Avalon Theater is the most dramatic example of this template. The previous owner wanted to turn the theater into a live rock music venue. The community made clear there was no way it would support that. The previous owner predicted that we would have a vacant storefront. I disagreed and aggressively looked for someone to open it while enticing prospective developers. It took us 10 years but it was well worth the effort and time. I think the results speak for themselves.

Up and down Kinnickinnic there are similar stories, but there are other successes as well. It took years to get a business improvement district for S. 13th Street, but it was eventually done and development there and elsewhere continues to thrive.

2. What is your vision for the future of Bay View, for both its residential and commercial sectors? What processes will you use to help shape and inform your vision?

The vision is to keep on doing what has resulted in Bay View experiencing unimaginable economic growth while preserving our quaint neighborhoods and precious greenspace.

In the last 10 years, or so, we have directed development to our exciting business strips. But at the same time we have prevented this development from spilling over into our quaint neighborhoods and greenspace.

More specifically, years ago there were plans to develop the historic Beulah Brinton House into condominiums. I successfully blocked that development in a residential neighborhood on Superior Street. As a result the Bay View Historical Society wound up purchasing the property so that generations could experience our history.

But the most dramatic example is the Teachtown Development on the Dover Street School site. The Milwaukee Public Schools did not listen to the neighborhood when residents said no to a big apartment building in that residential neighborhood. But when the vote came to the city, I listened to the residents and successfully removed that apartment building from the plans.

3. The streetcar expansion plans show that its route to the airport will bypass the KK economic corridor. Should Bay View have better streetcar access? If so, how would you accomplish altering the proposed route?

This question assumes, falsely, I believe, that the streetcar will ever come anywhere close to Bay View, much less the airport.

Anyone, myself included, could draw whatever route they might like and imagine a streetcar running along it. Imagining does not make it so. Only money can do that and it’s money the city does not have.

The recent Public Service Commission decision requiring the city to bear 100 percent of the cost of utility relocation associated with the streetcar may have a nominal effect on the tiny, three-mile-long downtown circulator, but the consequences for all prospective extensions are far more dire.

The city doesn’t even have enough money to fix the potholes or streets properly. Additionally, our streetlights regularly go out because the city doesn’t have the money to replace the aging system. When the city has enough money to fix our streets and have lights that work, then we can prioritize our next steps, but in my many visits with District 14 residents, they’ve made very clear to me where their priorities lie.

4. The city charters a number of schools that directly compete with the Milwaukee Public Schools for students and for funding. What responsibility does the city have to ensure success and accountability, not only in its own charters, but also in the city’s traditional public schools?

The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) may one day go bankrupt if present trends continue. In that event, the city of Milwaukee taxpayers are on the hook for the system’s legacy costs. That would be financial disaster for our residents. Having our public schools go bankrupt is in no one’s interest. As more and more students are drained away with their funding to other schools, the closer MPS comes to financial disaster. This problem is only made worse by profound inequities in the state’s school funding formula.

We need to be thinking about this now and have a plan for our public schools rather than wait until the 11th hour to find a solution. We have some excellent charter schools within the city and they will continue, but until these funding issues are resolved, I think we should consider a moratorium on new city charters.

I have been and will always be a partner with our public schools.

5. Many trains travel through the west side of Bay View carrying millions of gallons of highly flammable crude oil. What authority does the city have to regulate the movement of these trains through Milwaukee? What should the city do to ensure the safety of its citizens and residential and commercial property?

The real issue with Bakken crude isn’t just the oil—it’s the trains that carry it and the tracks and bridges the trains use.

Last year in May, I was pleased to join my Common Council colleagues in supporting the substitute resolution relating to inspections of the railroad tracks, crossings, and bridges on which Bakken crude oil is carried through Milwaukee. (goo.gl/Ph2MNA)

This resolution called on all levels of government responsible for the rail system to conduct regular, thorough inspections of this infrastructure and share the results with the Common Council. Council members also made clear during several hours of public testimony on this file, and on other occasions, that we wanted a clear picture of the current condition of this system. City staff has continued to pursue this information as demanded by this resolution.

The state and federal governments are difficult bureaucracies to navigate, but I am optimistic this resolution will bear fruit in the near future. The safety concerns raised by the regular transport of Bakken crude demand that kind of vigilance.

Read his opponent Meagan Holman’s candidate interview.


CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Aldermanic District Race, Meagan Holman, Challenger

February 29, 2016

KK HeadshotBorn and raised in Boston, I moved to Bay View when my oldest son was a toddler. I have used my experience as an advocate and community organizer with local organizations such as Hunger Task Force and AmeriCorps’ City Year program to support Milwaukee’s underserved families. As a mother of four, a community volunteer and nonprofit leader, I have been vocal about economic development, environmental stewardship, public transportation, and ensuring that we improve outcomes for families across Milwaukee.

In 2010, I sought elected office for the first time to the MPS School Board. As your school board member, I was twice selected to serve as vice president by my colleagues. My work has deeply impacted MPS by creating expanded opportunities, championing fiscal responsibility, and hiring a transformational new superintendent. Two of my notable accomplishments were convening the community to bring new programming to Bay View High School, and opening Howard Avenue Montessori School.

A proud product of public schools, I graduated from Oberlin College and went on to study at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where I earned a master’s degree in public policy. My four sons attend Fernwood Montessori School.

1. What do you believe the role of the District 14 alderwoman should be in encouraging economic development? 

I believe that Common Council members should be the biggest boosters of economic development for the city as a whole. Reviving Milwaukee’s economy is their number one job, especially when policies coming from Madison continue to make it harder for economic recovery in the city.

Without making gains in income equality and growing our tax base, no one anywhere in Milwaukee will see desired improvements in city services or reductions in crime. We can’t wait—our children can’t wait—for someone else to reverse the segregation, poverty, and joblessness that plague us. That work has to start with us today, and we can’t continue to hope that what happens in other neighborhoods doesn’t impact us here in Bay View.

Closer to home, I do see clear opportunities for fair and comprehensive development across District 14. With a community-led vision, we will experience increased business revenue, better access to amenities, and the revitalization of historic buildings, not just along the well-resourced KK corridor, but also where attention hasn’t been so tightly focused.

2. What is your vision for the future of Bay View, for both its residential and commercial sectors? What processes will you use to help shape and inform your vision?

Bay View may be best known citywide for bars, restaurants, and parks. But what makes families and entrepreneurs alike choose to grow their roots here is also about our excellent schools, our fantastic organizations, and amenities like Chill on the Hill, and a sense of community that is simply unmatched.

We are experiencing changes in business development and housing that have given many residents some pause. Is it too much, too fast? Do we need an architectural review board? Are we altering, fundamentally, what so many of us built here in the past 15 years? How do we preserve what matters to us, and help our neighbors grow with us?

The answers to these questions, and more, will challenge us all to collaborate and work together, through more than just one-off community meetings, but through a process of visioning like that undertaken recently in Walker’s Point and National Avenue in West Allis, among other areas. Right now, there is no public, consistent plan for where Bay View goes from here. Let’s make one, together.

3. The streetcar expansion plans show that its route to the airport will bypass the KK economic corridor. Should Bay View have better streetcar access? If so, how would you accomplish altering the proposed route? 

Streetcars work best when paired with good urban planning. If Milwaukee is going to have a streetcar, it’s imperative that the Common Council do all that it can to ensure that it spurs economic development, connects communities, and contributes in a meaningful way to the rebuilding of our tax base. But it’s also imperative that the best principles of Transit Oriented Design are used. The whims of politicians shouldn’t determine the path of our transit routes.

For Bay View, continuing the southern route expansion could reshape the under-utilized corridor of S. Chase Avenue, particularly if there is linkage with the KK corridor at Lincoln or Bay. Chase is also wide enough for the dedicated lanes that are the hallmark of the best and most efficient streetcar routes. Imagine a variety of convenient businesses, a streetcar park-and-ride, connections to a number of bus lines, and more.

We could gain fast, sustainable access to downtown, while redeveloping an area with extensive multi-use potential. Our community-wide vision, still to be developed, would also encompass this area.

4. The city charters a number of schools that directly compete with the Milwaukee Public Schools for students and for funding. What responsibility does the city have to ensure success and accountability, not only in its own charters, but also in the city’s traditional public schools?

Milwaukee, first and foremost, must concentrate on creating family-sustaining jobs and addressing the broad social ills which negatively impact teaching and learning. The leaders of our city should be building a Milwaukee in which citizens are proud to live and newcomers are excited to participate in—which includes our public school system. The role of the city should be to support and champion our very own MPS.

That said, the current landscape of education in our city is one of competition between entities for scarce resources, an adult problem in a conversation that should be about how we best educate our children. It is critical to hold city-chartered schools as accountable as MPS, providing parents the information in order to make an informed decision as to where to send their children to school. Charter schools are intended to be incubators of innovation, offering an opportunity to support learning differently than the traditional school system. Schools which are not serving children appropriately should receive intervention to do better, or they must be closed.

5. Many trains travel through the west side of Bay View carrying millions of gallons of highly flammable crude oil. What authority does the city have to regulate the movement of these trains through Milwaukee? What should the city do to ensure the safety of its citizens and residential and commercial property?

Rail safety is almost exclusively the domain of the Federal Government, giving the states limited authority, and cities even less. Meanwhile, very unstable crude oil is shipped every day by rail at historic levels. To address the reasonable concerns of the safety of Milwaukee residents, the city should monitor shipping frequency and federal regulations to make sure we are getting the highest level of protection available under law. Additionally, Milwaukee should take the lead in cooperating with other municipalities statewide to encourage the rail industry to implement best practices, like voluntary notification of shipping routes/times, track monitoring, tanker car replacement, and speed limit enforcement.

In the unlikely event of a spill, the city should focus now on planning, preparedness, and response for our communities, businesses, and habitats like the KK River. Residents should know their risk, and what plans the city has in place in the event of an incident. Spill response planning, and broken rail monitoring, which can account for a large number of derailments, should be undertaken immediately.

Read her opponent Tony Zielinski’s candidate interview.


Oil train risks in Milwaukee

February 29, 2016

The League of Women Voters will present a program entitled, “Your Right to Know: Oil Train Risks to Metro Milwaukee” March 12 from 9:30am to 11:30am at UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

Trains carrying oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota pose a potential hazard to a large swath of Milwaukee County residents and its public infrastructure. These trains pass through Bay View.

The Natural Resources Committee of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County is presenting the program to discuss oil train risks to Milwaukee residents and businesses in the impact zones within a mile of the railway. (See map to view impact zones: http://explosive-crude-by-rail.org).

The event is hosted by the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Event co-sponsors are Milwaukee Environmental Consortium; Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-Milwaukee Area; Sierra Club Great Waters Group; United Community Center; and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

“Our membership is concerned about resident safety, infrastructure soundness, and the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, our rivers, harbor and Lake Michigan, should an accident occur.  Seven municipalities in the county are at risk,” said Truesillia Ruth Shank, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County.

For more information including details about the program’s three presentations, consult lwvmilwaukee.org.

The event will take place in Room 3080 of the UWM School of Fresh Water, 600 E. Greenfield Ave. Enter via the door on the south side of the building. A parking lot and street parking are available.

The program is free and open to the public.


Edmund Fitzgerald presentation March 6 at UWM

February 29, 2016

Bestselling author and speaker Rochelle Pennington will speak about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest-ever shipwreck on the Great Lakes Sunday, March 6 at 2pm in the American Geographical Society Library in the UWM Golda Meir Library.

The Fitzgerald disappeared into a stormy Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, when wind gusts peaked at nearly 100 miles per hour and waves reached the height of 3-story buildings.

Pennington will delve into the history and mystery of the vessel and will explore the opposing views of dive detectives who are still trying to determine what led to the demise of the 29-man crew.

The massive ore freighter, built and owned by Milwaukee’s Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., was named after its president, Edmund Fitzgerald, who helped establish the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society.

Audience members will be led from the ship’s launch to its final radio broadcasts and from the ship’s discovery on Superior’s bottom to the location of the vessel’s artifacts that are located in various museums.

Sponsored by the Map Society of Wisconsin, the presentation is free and open to the public.

A reception with light refreshments begins at 1:30pm. More info: agsl@uwm.edu or 414-229-6282.


Bay View Neighborhood Association news

February 29, 2016

The Bay View Neighborhood Association announced the recipients of its annual school grants on February 17. This year $5,300 in combined grants was awarded to three schools.

Public schools within the 53207 zip code area were asked to submit project proposals that would fall within the framework of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) criteria. The three winners were Milwaukee Parkside School of the Arts, A. E. Burdick School, and Bay View High.

Milwaukee Parkside School of the Arts is using its $2,500 grant to build a new aquaponics lab.

Bay View High School will use its $2,500 grant to fund the Redcat Rail Riders Program, a collaboration with Bigfoot Bike and Skate. Students will design longboard decks, test their durability, and then unveil them at Bay View Gallery Night. The decks will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Skate Spot Initiative in Humboldt Park.

Burdick School requested a $300 grant to help fund transportation costs associated with several mathematics competitions. The students will travel to other schools to participate in contests that provide challenging real-world problems and require problem solving from all areas of mathematics.

A matching grant from the William Stark Jones Foundation allowed BVNA to provide three top schools with the necessary funding to support the winning schools’ projects.

BVNA raised about $2,500 at its Feb. 20 Winter Blast Snow Ball fundraiser at South Shore Park Pavilion on Feb. 20. The event was part of an ongoing effort to raise money for the Humboldt Park Skate Spot initiative.


Bay View Historical Society news

February 29, 2016

Tours of the historic Beulah Brinton House, one of the oldest houses in Bay View, will be given Saturday, March 19 from 1pm to 4pm.

The house was the home of Bay View pioneers Beulah and Warren Brinton. The home is now the site of the Bay View Historical Society. It is located at 2590 S. Superior St.

The event is free and open to the public.

There will be a listening session about visions of Bay View’s future presented by the Bay View Historical Society and the Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District (KK BID) May 4. The goal of the event sponsors is for those who attend the session to share their vision and perspectives to plan for the future of the Bay View community.

Time and location of the event have not yet been determined but will be announced via social media and the sponsors’ websites.


Hide House Community Garden new leadership

February 29, 2016

Kathy Fortier and Katherine Keller are the new volunteer coordinators of the Hide House Community Garden. The garden, established in 2011, is located on Deer Place between Greeley Street and Burrell Street and is part of the Hide House complex, 2625 S. Greeley St. Sig Strautmanis, a Hide House owner, leases the lot to the garden group for $1 per year.

This season the coordinators plan to upgrade the garden by replacing deteriorated raised-bed frames, purchasing new soil to reinvigorate and refill the 100+ plots, and banking the base of the raised-bed frames with mulch to suppress weed growth.

Rental rates are $30 for a 4-foot by 8-foot plot and $20 for a 4-foot by 4-foot plot. To learn more about the garden and download the reservation-request form, consult the Hide House Community Garden Facebook page: goo.gl/C3Lc0L.

The Hide House Community Garden is affiliated with Milwaukee Urban Gardens land trust, which is a program of the nonprofit Groundwork Milwaukee.

 


Ever hear of a memory café?

February 29, 2016

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Reassurance can come from being with others who are in the same boat. That’s true for people dealing with early-stage Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, or other types of dementia.

People can find others who know their struggles at the monthly “memory café” held in the Bay View United Methodist Church.

The casual group doesn’t specifically discuss religion and is not a support group. Instead, it’s a meetup of mostly seniors and their loved ones—a social outlet for sufferers and exhausted caregivers.

Memory cafes meet around the world. The Bay View location formed in March 2015 and currently attracts around 10 attendees plus volunteers and Pastor Andy Oren. He and associate pastor Kelly Fowler have been formally trained to lead these groups.

The volunteers, like Valanee Schmitz, a member of Bay View United Methodist Church, offer coffee, hot tea, water, and perhaps a cookie. She and others lead activities and group conversation, sometimes punctuated with a group song.

Combats Isolation

Unbridled isolation can be a big problem for both sufferers and their caregivers, so free, low-key meetups help lift their spirits.

“We’ve heard it over and over again that this is just a great outlet for them,” said Oren. “We get people talking about, What do you remember about this from when you were a kid?’ or whatever, to trigger memories.”

Carl and Carol Kucharski moved to the area in August from West Virginia, after Carl’s diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia, to be near their daughter and her husband. The two couples live in neighboring condos.

“[The memory café] doesn’t make you feel so isolated. It’s something different every time we meet. We have learned a lot about the area and people really welcomed us… I was a schoolteacher and this isn’t what I intended for retirement,” Carl said.

The couple said they view his diagnosis and their relocation as a new adventure. After coming to the church for the memory café, they eventually joined the congregation.

Chris and Laura met on Match.com seven years ago and had their first date at Starbucks. After being together for only a few years, Laura began suffering from primary progressive aphasia, a degenerative brain condition. They’ve enjoyed the memory café; other social groups have been awkward since Laura has difficulty speaking.

“It’s a good program. It’s a place Laura can feel very comfortable sharing, even though it’s difficult to talk,” Chris said. She works from home and adjusts her hours to attend the group with her wife.

 Pastor Andy Oren, Bay View United Methodist Church, was instrumental in establishing the Memory Café at Bay View United Methodist Church. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse


Pastor Andy Oren, Bay View United Methodist Church, was instrumental in establishing the Memory Café at Bay View United Methodist Church. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Origin

Pastor Oren was inspired to create the memory café at his church from a July 2014 M magazine article about former Wisconsin Governor Martin Schreiber’s difficulty coping with his wife Elaine’s Alzheimer’s disease. Schreiber was honest about the challenges of taking on the cooking, cleaning, errands and other chores and losing time for his work and exercise. The article was accompanied by a mention of memory cafés and Oren realized there weren’t any in the Bay View area. His father had dementia so Oren has a personal connection to the project.

Upcoming meetings are March 21 and April 18 from 1pm to 2:30pm at Bay View United Methodist Church, 2772 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (bayviewumc.org)

For more information about Alzheimer’s or to RSPV a meeting at BVUMC, contact Wendy Betley of the Alzheimer’s Association, 414-479-8800.


PAREN(T)HESIS — Unexpected smiles

February 29, 2016

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

NEW Jill Maher Headshot Dec 2013Sometimes we can plow through life without stopping to think about our kids beyond the mundane assembling of backpacks, making of dinner, and policing of homework. But then they deliver a line which really cracks us up.

The unexpectedness makes these things particularly funny. After overhearing a conversation between my husband and me, our 8 year old looked at me with a wry smile and said, “He finally understands you.”

The comment made me laugh because it’s true and also because I didn’t realize she was analyzing our marriage.

Humor can point toward great underlying reasoning and even indicate a profound thought many adults would overlook. To express this, many people use the phrase “out of the mouth of babes,” which is adapted from Biblical verse Psalms 8:2.

Sometimes a child’s unfiltered honesty is hilarious, and that was the case for us recently. I ordered some severely distressed jeans and tried them on, first looking in the mirror and then showing my husband and daughter. I thought they fit well and were trendy but couldn’t look at them the same way after our daughter exclaimed, “Yii! I thought you fell down in the snow. Then I looked at your butt and saw it was dry.” Those jeans were on their way back to the store the next day. The incident was humbling and funny and writing about it makes me smile again.

Our friends have a little hardcover book especially designed for recording their kids’ sayings, which will bring even more laughs in years to come. Good fodder for wedding toasts!

It’s fun to read the little quips my friends share on Facebook. I enjoy the little jokes, especially when I know both the parent and child and can picture the child saying the line. But the very funniest things are always the ones our own children say.

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


HALL MONITOR —Spring’s elections and the fight for Milwaukee Public Schools

February 29, 2016

By Jay Bullock

Jay1headshotAs a K-12 teacher, I spend every election season listening to what kind of changes to public education candidates are talking about.

At the national level this year, I hear only…crickets.

Wisconsin legislators, who control school budgets from Madison, have not yet really geared up their campaigns for this fall.

Locally, there are no races for school board, and the state superintendent is not up for reelection until next spring.

That leaves just a few current races where public education is of interest.

I expect two Milwaukee aldermanic races to have a significant amount of focus on the Milwaukee Public Schools and what the city does with its chartering authority.

Current MPS board president Michael Bonds will likely have to defend his legacy as he battles it out with current Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey. Bonds has had a sometimes-contentious relationship with Milwaukee’s teachers, who are often the most active constituency in city elections.

Closer to home, the teachers union has endorsed Bay View’s incumbent Alderman Tony Zielinski, who last year proposed a moratorium on new city charter schools, in opposition to former MPS board member Meagan Holman, who is challenging Zielinski for his District 14 seat. I look forward to hearing them debate whether and how the city should be working to improve education for our students.

But the race with the biggest likely impact on K-12 education is the contest for Milwaukee County executive.

Last summer the state legislature created the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP), requiring the county executive to appoint a school commissioner who has the authority to take over buildings, contents, and students of failing Milwaukee public schools.

OSPP, if fully implemented, could well bankrupt MPS by taking students and funding away, leaving the district unable to meet its financial obligations.

Incumbent County Executive Chris Abele has selected Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means, a Milwaukee native, MPS graduate, and longtime advocate for traditional public schools, to be OSPP’s commissioner. In public statements and in interviews I’ve conducted with both Abele and Means, they have pledged to do nothing in implementing OSPP that would hurt MPS. They have been meeting regularly with members of the MPS board and the superintendent to shape plans to support MPS students and teachers.

Abele’s opponent, state Senator Chris Larson, who represents Bay View, is adamantly opposed to the OSPP. He has called the program “a weapon against our community.”

As far as I know—I was not able to schedule an interview until before press time—Larson has not said explicitly that if he’s elected in April, he will fire Means and undo whatever work Means began. But he has said that he will refuse to comply with the law, and promised to repeal it.

In other words, where Abele’s plan has been to follow the letter of the law in order to flout its spirit, Larson’s plan is to flout the law entirely.

I don’t know what the consequences of that would be. Abele told me last fall that he did not even consider noncompliance with the law, in part because of possible legal ramifications but also in part because of what the legislature might do in response.

Given the make-up of the legislature—fully in the hands of anti-Milwaukee Republicans and unlikely to be any different after this fall’s elections—Abele’s disposition to OSPP is a reasonable fear. As bad as the OSPP law is as written, it could have been far worse, pushing into full-on New Orleans or Memphis territory, places where so-called “recovery districts” have wide and unchecked authority to takeover public schools, fire teachers, and undermine local democratic control.

Larson is right about the law’s intent and the need for repeal, but repeal won’t happen. He’s submitted legislation to undo the law, but the legislative session is over for the year. OSPP’s authors and almost everyone who voted it into the state budget will almost surely remain in office when the next legislative session begins in January.

Conservative media have already called Abele’s selection of Means an attempt to “disarm” or “scuttle” OSPP. Should Larson win in April, my biggest worry is that rather than work with Larson to repeal the law, the legislature will instead bypass him entirely. It may choose to appoint its own commissioner, or, worse, use its authority to carve a large recovery district out of MPS and, in so doing, damage the public schools irreparably.

Either way, should Abele be reelected or should Larson win, the fight for the future of Milwaukee’s public schools is far from over. This April election, though, will make clear what the next battle will be.

Jay Bullock teaches English at Bay View High School and tweets as @folkbum.


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