Hoan Bridge Safety Question Pursued

February 1, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Rep. Christine Sinicki met with Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials Jan. 20 in the aftermath of the Dec. 19 traffic fatality that took the life of 27-year-old Christopher Weber who was driving over the Hoan Bridge when his pickup truck plummeted from the bridge, landing on the pavement 50 feet below.

Icy road conditions are believed to have contributed to Weber losing control of his vehicle.

Sinicki said she has asked DOT officials to investigate the height of the Hoan’s barriers. She noted that prior to the redecking of the bridge, steel railings were attached to the top of the concrete barriers that increased the barrier height. Sections of the barriers that lead to the bridge on the northern section of I-794 still possess the railings.

DOT officials told Sinicki that a national group that tests and makes barrier recommendations said that even if the railings had been in place, it is possible they would not have prevented the truck from going over the barrier.

Sinicki said she’s requested engineering reports and options that would improve the bridge’s safety.

She noted that there was also a discussion about adding digital signs to the bridge approaches to warn drivers of unsafe conditions including ice and high winds.

DOT officials agreed to a follow-up meeting in the next six weeks or so, although Sinicki hoped it would be sooner. “In the meantime, I will continue to talk to county officials about snowplowing and look to see if there is a better, safer way to plow the bridge,” she said.

State Senator Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff also attended the meeting.

Weber was employed at Odd Duck, a restaurant in Bay View, at the time of his death.


Downtown Montessori Academy Students Crochet Mats for Homeless

December 1, 2016

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway Back row from left: Kelsey McCarron, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel
Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz
Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway
Back row from left: Kelsey Mccarran, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Downtown Montessori Academy students learned to crochet to help the homeless, and at the same time, use up some of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags that plague the planet.

A group of 18 students ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 7 transformed 2,000 bags into two 3.5- by 6-foot sleeping mats and several sitting pillows for the homeless. They met for a total of 13 hours — twice a week between Oct. 4 and Nov. 17.
They cut plastic shopping bags into strips and tied them together to make long strips of plastic yarn or “plarn.”
Lower elementary teacher Kelsey McCarron and art teacher Jenny Urbanek taught the students to crochet with yarn before they tackled the plarn.

 

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

DMA students made plarn sleeping mats and sitting pillows to make winter a little more bearable for the homeless in Milwaukee. “The plarn sleeping mats provide a clean, dry, soft sleeping surface as well as an extra layer between the ground and the sleeper or sitter. They are water-resistant, insulating, lightweight, easy to wash, unlikely to harbor pests, and nearly indestructible,” said Urbanek.
The project helped improve students’ manual dexterity skills, but it also promoted “patience, self-control, creative problem-solving, empathy, and awareness regarding social issues in our community.”

The sleeping mats were donated to Hope House, a transitional living center on the near south side.


St. Francis Sisters of St. Francis Assisi plan new convent

December 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings would be demolished. Building that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court). Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings would be demolished.
Buildings that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court).
Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi will build a new convent at the current site of the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3195 S. Superior St.

Spokesperson Jean Merry said Groth Group of Milwaukee would design the new facility that would provide living quarters for 80 sisters, include a kitchen and dining room, and the motherhouse offices would also be moved to the new building. A convent’s motherhouse is often the founding building or main location of a religious order.

Merry said, in an press release, that the century-old buildings that once housed St. Mary’s Academy and St. Clare College present mounting unsustainable maintenance costs and no longer meet the aging sisters’ basic health and safety needs. Currently 40 sisters live in small rooms, inadequate for elder care, on the third and fourth floors.

The sisters closed the Marian Center in May. The center was created, after St. Mary’s Academy closed, to preserve the legacy of Loretto Hall, Rosary Hall, and Clare wing, three connected structures. Former classrooms were converted to offices for nonprofit organizations. According to the center’s website, “Loretto Hall was constructed in 1904 as St. Mary’s Academy, a high school for young women. Expansions in 1931 and 1935 created Rosary Hall and Clare Wing, to allow for the development of St. Clare College in 1937.”

Four years ago the sisters partnered with Milwaukee-based developer Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. to redevelop the Marian Center for Nonprofits into 44 affordable apartments. The plans were scuttled for the $10 million project when the partners were unable to secure sufficient financing.

The sisters have not yet sought the required permits and zoning approvals for the new convent from the city of St. Francis. A financial feasibility study is underway, Merry said.


Coyote Watch — Get Involved

December 1, 2016

small-eastern-coyote-emdotMilwaukee County Parks and the Wisconsin DNR want you to help them collect information about coyote sightings to monitor the animals’ activity and behavior.

Additionally, Milwaukee County Parks wants you to help them inform others about the project. If you are a part of a neighborhood association, a member of one of the online Next Door Communities, or receive neighborhood updates through email or newsletters, they ask that you reach out to your neighbors and ask them to report coyote sightings in your neighborhoods and local parks.

The county is collaborating with the website iNaturalist.org to collect sightings data. If you see a coyote, report the observation to the Milwaukee County Coyote Watch project page: goo.gl/2kzCe2

Background

Coyote sightings in and near Milwaukee County neighborhoods are fairly common and are rarely a cause for concern, according to iNaturalist.org.

The animals are naturally very skittish and wary creatures that will avoid human contact by either running away, when encountered, or by restricting their activities to nocturnal hours. In some circumstances however, often in urban and suburban environments, coyotes may become habituated, losing their innate fear of humans.

Coyote stretching.            PHOTO courtesy Eric Kilby

Coyote stretching. PHOTO courtesy Eric Kilby

Habituation may result from food attractants in backyards, such as pet food, unsecured garbage, fallen fruit, etc., or repeated exposure to humans without negative consequences.

Behavior that may indicate a coyote has become habituated is if it is seen languishing in a park during the daytime in close proximity to humans, following humans and their pets, or not running away upon encountering people.

These bold behaviors associated with habituation are what can ultimately lead to human-coyote conflicts in urban areas. In order to proactively manage coyote behavior for a safe, sustainable, and long-term coexistence with these wild urban neighbors, it is of the utmost importance that county residents understand how human behavior and actions can influence them. The goal is to keep them wild and unhabituated to people.

Be Smart

Do not feed coyotes directly, or indirectly by leaving pet food, fallen fruit, fallen bird seed, etc. in your yard.

Reinforce the fear of humans when encountering a bold or habituated coyote. Chase and yell at the coyote and throw projectiles near the animal. If it is in your backyard, turn the hose on it.

For more information on proper hazing techniques provided by the Wisconsin Humane Society,
goo.gl/Qj7kjP or Milwaukee County, goo.gl/TQJS3b and http://county.milwaukee.gov/Coyotes9205.htm.

When walking your dog, keep it on a leash. If you see a coyote, use hazing techniques to scare it away.

If you have questions about the project or coyotes, contact Dianne Robinson, dianne.robinson@wisconsin.gov or Julia Robson: julia.robson@milwaukeecountywi.gov.

Coyote information above provided by iNaturalist.org


Tree controversy on Superior Street resolved?

August 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

Homeowners who live on the 2400 block of Superior Street between Russell and Potter avenues fear newly planted trees will block their view of Lake Michigan. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Homeowners who live on the 2400 block of Superior Street between Russell and Potter avenues fear newly planted trees in the greenspace on the northeast corner of Russell Avenue and Superior Street will block their view of Lake Michigan when the trees grow larger.    PHOTO Katherine Keller

The Forestry Division of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works has embarked on a campaign to plant new trees in public greenspaces to compensate for the reduction of the city’s ash tree canopy caused by emerald ash borer damage.

In Bay View, a ruckus arose among some homeowners in July when Forestry planted 30 trees in the greenspace bordered by Superior Street to the west and Russell Avenue to the south. Some residents feared their view of Lake Michigan would be blocked when the tree matured.

The greenspace where the new trees were planed is sometimes referred to as the “Rolling Mills memorial park” because it is the parcel of land where the Rolling Mill Tragedy historical marker is located.

There are seven homes in the 2400 block of south Superior, bounded by Russell and Potter avenues, that overlook the area where the saplings were planted. Zielinski said “about five of those homeowners” approached him to express their objection to the placement of eight of the new trees. Zielinski lives on the same block.

The homeowners wanted the objectionable sapling trees culled or relocated.

“My constituents told me they paid extra for the view of the lake,” Zielinski said. “They were upset with the trees. Trees are good but residents who are affected should be consulted before Forestry plants trees. It is standard DPW operating procedure that residents that are affected should be consulted before trees are planted.”

“I love trees. People love trees. I’ve helped save trees. I’ve fought to preserve greenspace. I was doing my job to respond to my constituents,” Zielinski said. “They don’t want a forest blocking their view.”

Zielinski went to bat for his disgruntled neighbors and contacted DPW officials. Despite his effort on behalf of his neighbors, Zielinski said DPW officials determined that newly planted eight trees would remain where they were planted and that his neighbors were not happy with that decision.

“Those trees are staying till further conversation. If we do decide to move them, it will be when they are dormant,” Zielinski said.

DPW Commissioner Ghassan Korban said that the Forestry Division is looking for sites in public greenspaces to plant trees in order to compensate for the ash trees that are being removed on private property. Some homeowners don’t replace the culled trees. To balance the loss, the city is locating open greenspaces on city land to plant more trees.

Korban said the negative reaction by the residents on Superior Street has “taught us to be more comprehensive in our assessment when deciding where to plant trees.”

He said that the policy to date has been to consult the homeowner when a tree in the terrace in front of a home is to be cut down or when a new tree is to be planted in front of a home in the terrace or boulevard. “More often,” he said, “we are replacing a tree due to health or age.” Forestry workers discuss the timing of the tree removal and the planting of a new tree with homeowners.

However, DPW’s policy to date has not included consulting residents who live near public municipal land concerning the planting/placement of new trees.

Now, in light of the upset on Superior Street, DPW will adjust its policy, said Korban.

“If we had to do this again, we would have consulted the residents. What this situation has taught us is to look around and see other perspectives,” Korban said.

DPW is planning to begin educating the public about Forestry’s policies and procedures concerning its efforts to increase and enhance the city’s canopy.

The Port of Milwaukee owns that land but the port is an arm of the city, Zielinski said.

Forestry is taking measures to protect ash trees on city land, including those in the terraces — the strip between sidewalk and curb, and boulevards, Korban said.


May 18 crime meeting — three individuals in police custody believed to be responsible for Bay View carjackings, vehicle theft spikes

May 19, 2016

Key info presented at the May 18 crime-info meeting at South Shore Park Pavilion

Meeting hosted by District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski said:

  • That all perpetrators of the three carjackings in Bay View are in police custody. It is believed that the two incidents in April in the alley behind Bay View Terrace and on Quincy Avenue were committed by the same two individuals. One of the alleged perpetrators is Shomeek Johnson. The other is a juvenile.
  • A different individual was arrested for the incident on Wentworth Avenue in February.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported “Shomeek L. Johnson, 18, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless injury, both as a party to the crime.” The incident occurred April 24 on Good Hope Road.]

MPD District 6 Captain Diana Rowe’s presentation:

  • The captain presented a chart comparing (below) violent crime and property crime statistics for Bay View’s in District 6 from Jan. 1, 2007 to May 11, 2016. Dramatic increase in vehicle theft in Bay View this year. There have been 73 vehicle thefts to date in 2016.The highest number in the previous nine years was 30 in 2015.
  • One half of garage theft in 2016 occurred where garages were not locked.
  • Warned residents not to leave garage door remote in any visible place in the car, including the visor. Thieves will break into a car to access the remote.
  • Warned that Hondas and Toyota Corollas made in late 90s through early 2000s are prime target for thieves because they’re easy to break into. If you have two cars and one is one of these models, park that one in a locked garage, if possible. Advised that these models should be protected with a kill switch, club, or steering-wheel-column block.
  • Three main uses of stolen vehicles are joy ride, use in other crime such as robbery or theft, or heroin and other drug trafficking. Newer, larger are preferred for drug trafficking because the vehicle is fitted out with tinted windows and as a mobile drug unit. Drugs are delivered directly to customers or to a specific location, such a corner. Cars are not stolen to be chopped as they once were in Milwaukee in the past.
  • 70%-80% of stolen vehicles are recovered in the first couple of weeks after they are stolen. Of those, “not many are damaged.”
  • About 10% of the car thieves are caught. Even if there are identifiable fingerprints in a car, it’s still difficult to prove that the person who left the prints was the one who stole the vehicle. Need to be caught in the act to prosecute, in most cases.
  • Age of typical car thief in Milwaukee is 12 to 17.
  • In past three weeks in Bay View vehicle theft is down but that may be due to increased police presence in the three weeks after the carjacking on Quincy.
  • Perpetrators of the Bay View carjackings are not Bay View residents.

Crime Table.FINAL

John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney reported:

  • Shomeek Johnson is in police custody for the (alleged) shooting of the woman in the Quincy carjacking incident. He has been charged with a homicide that occurred previous to the carjacking.
  • Crimes in Bay View are concerning people but that the neighborhood is one of the safest areas in the city and nation.
  • A mamor concern is the car-related offenses. There are a small number of people engaging in this behavior. Five or six of his office’s investigators are working on the problem and they are working with suburban agencies since these crimes cross city and county borders.
  • Residents must be aware of their surroundings and that carjackers attack from behind, which also makes identification of the perpetrator difficult since the victim doesn’t see him/her.
  • “Opiate problem is a huge problem right now.”

Local water groups react to predecedent-setting Great Lakes water diversion request

May 18, 2016

Source: Compact Implementation press release

Today the Regional Body met and voted on the final Declaration of Findings on the City of Waukesha’s Lake Michigan diversion proposal.  The Declaration of Findings include conditions added by the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers that will modify the diversion request.  After today’s vote, the Declaration of Findings will be forwarded to the Compact Council for a final vote in June 2016.  All states and provinces supported the Declaration, while Minnesota abstained to vote in order to consult further with stakeholders.

The Wisconsin Compact Implementation Coalition responds to today’s vote:

“We are pleased that the Regional Body agreed with us that Waukesha’s proposal as submitted does not meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact and is recommending modifications to its proposal. But we are disappointed that the Regional Body did not completely reject Waukesha’s flawed diversion proposal. We need to carefully examine the conditions that the Regional Body has recommended to determine if they uphold the letter and spirit of the Great Lakes Compact. When complete, we will forward our assessment to the jurisdictions and the Regional Compact Council, which is scheduled to meet on June 21 or 22.”

Background 
Waukesha, Wisconsin’s application to divert water from Lake Michigan is the first test of the Great Lakes Compact, a regional pact banning the diversion of Great Lakes water outside the basin, with limited exceptions.

Under the Great Lakes Compact, any diversion application must be approved by all eight Great Lakes states. The two Canadian provinces bordering the lakes, Ontario and Quebec, are allowed to provide input. Any state may veto the diversion application.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body includes representatives from each of the jurisdictions, including the states and provinces. At the regional level, the Regional Body is the first step in the decision-making process of any diversion request and makes a recommendation to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact Council. The Compact Council, which consists of only the governors of the eight Great Lakes states, will meet on June 21/22 to review the Regional Body’s recommendation and make a final decision on Waukesha’s request.

The Compact Implementation Coalition, collectively representing tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, has a long history of working on the Great Lakes Compact. From ensuring the adoption and implementation of a strong Great Lakes Compact to aiding the Department in the promulgation of administrative rules to implement the Compact, it has consistently advocated for the strongest protections available for the resource, in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the Compact.

First Federal Bank Community Shred Day May 7

April 7, 2016

First Federal Bank is presenting a free Community Shred Day on Saturday, May 7 from 10am to Noon in the parking lot of its new Bay View location, 3974 S. Howell Ave.

“We are inviting everyone from the community to come out and shred their old documents. You do not have to be a customer of the bank participate,” said Alison Wiese of First Federal Bank. “This is a safe and secure way to destroy documents that contain your personal information.” 

Individuals may drop off one to three boxes of old documents to be shredded on site in the bank’s parking lot. Staples and hanging folders are permissible, but three-ring binders will not be accepted.
More info: firstfederalwisconsin.com.


Hide House Community Garden Seedling Exchange May 21

April 1, 2016

The Hide House Community Garden is sponsoring the first annual Hide House Community Garden Seedling Exchange May 21 in Building 10 of the Hide House, 2612 S. Greeley (the small building on the east side of Greeley). It will be held at the Terra Domus Studio, suite 123. Homegrown seedlings will be available for purchase. You are invited to bring yours to sell or trade for other seedlings. More information will be available soon and published on the Hide House Community Garden Facebook page, goo.gl/C3Lc0L.

For information or to reserve space, contact editor@bayviewcompass.com.

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


BVNA Elects New Board Members 

April 1, 2016

At the annual meeting of the Bay View Neighborhood Association Wednesday, Mar. 16 at the Humboldt Park Pavilion, members of the Bay View Neighborhood Association approved new board members Patty Pritchard Thompson, Kathy Swoboda, Fabio Woytal, Mary Ellen Hermann, and Paul Mayeshiba.

The new executive committee members who were elected March 22 are Christopher Miller, president; Christa Marlowe, vice president; Brian Gregor, secretary; and John Ossorio, treasurer.

One board seat remains open. BVNA is seeking a motivated neighbor who is passionate about environmental projects and cleanups.

If you are interested in the position, contact BVNA: bayviewneighborhood@gmail.com.

2016-17 Bay View Neighborhood Association Board Members:

District 1: Jenna Haag Michaels
District 2: Patty Pritchard Thompson
District 3: Brian Gregor (Secretary
District 4: Kathy Swoboda
District 5: Christopher Miller (President)
At Large: Luella Dooley-Menet
At Large: Fabio Woytal
At Large: Mary Ellen Hermann
Membership: Leslie Mason
Communications: Nickie Rouleau
Public Spaces: Paul Mayeshiba
Economic Development/Public Safety: John Ossorio (Treasurer)
Chill on the Hill Liaison: Christa Marlowe (Vice President)
Environment: Vacant
Past President: Nichole Williams

Christopher Miller said, “The board wishes to thank our outgoing board members Samantha Dithloff (Membership Committee), Tim McCormick (District 2), Chad Thomack (Environment Committee), and very special thank you to Past President Kate Fowdy for her many years of energy, creativity, and inspiration!”


Frolics Parade up in the air—again

March 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

After an earnest beginning to its effort to bring back a parade during the 2016 South Shore Frolics festival, Sonia Hass and her group have called it quits.

Disappointed that the Bay View Lions canceled the parade last year due to insufficient funds, Hass and others created a committee, independent of the Lions,  to find sponsorships for the 2016 parade. To pay for city permits, barricades, and parade fees, the group needed to raise $20,000, which proved impossible, Hass said.

She attributed the committee’s inability to find a fiscal agent as the key factor behind the group’s failure to secure funding. Because her group was not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, sponsors’ donations would not have been tax-deductible. Had she been able to funnel the sponsorship money through a nonprofit acting as her fiscal agent, donations would have been deductible.

Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) president Lee Barczak said the BID decided not to get involved with the parade this year, but he thought that it may in the future. He said that BID board members are occupied with a large streetscaping project, its priority this year. He didn’t rule out the BID’s future parade involvement, however. “I can assure you, if BID businesses get involved, people would be intrigued with what could result,” he said, alluding to the creativity and resourcefulness of business owners in the BID.

Speaking on behalf of the Bay View Lions who sponsor and stage the annual South Shore Frolics, Lyn Graziano said the Lions are still actively working on finding funding for a parade this summer. Bay View Lions Club member Les Johns recently took up the quest to secure sponsorships.

After the Lions canceled the parade in  2008, Johns rescued it  when he persuaded Todd Reardon of the Braeger Automotive Group to donate $20,000.

Johns said that he’s currently waiting for responses from some “major corporations” that he was unwilling to name. He said he was somewhat optimistic but noted that finding parade funding is far more difficult today.

In the past the Lions relied on sponsorships from large companies like Jewel Osco, Pick ’n Save, and Braeger Automotive. Corporate mergers and ownership changes put an end to those. “The new owners didn’t see the bang for their dollar,” Johns said. “The economy is still pretty rough in Milwaukee. It used to be a lot easier to get money 20 years ago.”

“I’m pretty confident in Les’s ability to raise money,” Graziano said. “If we can raise the money, we’ll do the parade.”

In addition to 2008, the South Shore Frolics Parade was canceled in 2012.

The Lions canceled the parade again in 2013. Bay View resident Patty Pritchard Thompson, who volunteered to help the Lions, secured sponsorship funding for the parade that year and again in 2014.


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.


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