LETTER TO EDITOR — Bay View Electoral Activism Starts Early This Year

September 5, 2018

You may have already seen the signs, the commercials, or been invited to a house party. Election season has begun. Doors are going to be knocked on, voters called, and there already is a lot of effort going on to register voters. Observers say that the level of interest and activism approaches that prior to the 2008 election of Barack Obama. 

As most observers are aware, Americans vote in extraordinarily low numbers. School board races rarely get much more than a 10 percent turnout, and statewide, the gubernatorial election sees a turnout of 40 or 45 percent (or less).

Nationally, voter turnout for presidential races since 1968, on average, has been between 49 and 59 percent. This is very low by international standards. Moreover, there is a class difference in voting. Members of the lowest third of the income scale tend to vote in dramatically lower numbers than members of the middle or upper income scale. 

Some people blame the time of elections (work day), some people blame the political parties that represent narrow interests, but most experts would say that our arcane process of voter registration is one of the many causes. This, of course, is exacerbated by voter identification rules. Analysis has shown that voter identification may have negatively impacted some 200,000 voters in the last presidential race.

The parties, of course, are split on the voting system. Democrats want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote and Republicans want to make it difficult and have passed restrictive voter ID laws in some states. 

To help offset historically low turnout and the impact of Voter ID laws, groups have actively begun conducting voter registration campaigns. In the Milwaukee area, members of the League of Women Voters have been in the schools registering older high school students. In the Bay View area, there is an active presence at the farmers market and other park events. According to Dale Nook, a local Bay View political activist, his group registers or reregisters about 10 people every Saturday at the South Shore Farmers Market. That may not sound like much, but if you add that to four to five other local farmers markets and other community events, it can add up to well over a 100 each week. Perhaps more importantly, the number of people offering to volunteer and to get involved is heartening. 

Bay View is seen as a largely liberal area where Democratic voting is relatively high and thus is getting more attention from Democrats and groups associated with them. Perhaps this is why Republicans more or less ignore Bay View. The Milwaukee County Democratic Party opened an office in Bay View at 2999 S. Delaware Ave. Some Democratic operatives see that Bay View has a large millennial population, which has liberal views but lacks a history of voting consistently. Activists in Bay View are focused on trying to change that. 

If you want to learn more about these activities, contact Dale Nook, dwnook@aol.com. 

Dave Weingrod
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dave Weingrod is chair of Grassroots South Shore, a local progressive political organization that covers Bay View to Oak Creek.

LETTER TO EDITOR — Concerning the June 4 Deadly Police Chase Accident

July 2, 2018

All those armchair Common Council go-getters who wanted to see the cops start engaging in chases (‘to protect us all better’) had their day June 7 when MPD Officer Charles Irvine Jr. died as the result of one.

Every urban squad chase is insane. Almost none are worth the risk. And this tragedy will repeat, maybe wipe out a family next time.

Chief Flynn saw this coming and tried his best to prevent it. He, in part, left because of the overall issue.

I am a retired cop who saw plenty of deadly chases and regretfully engaged in many chases. I backed up Flynn in my letters to the Bay View Compass and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. No praise to me, I was merely saying that those who know chases, other than those on TV where they seem to end well, saw this coming.

The city will pay plenty for this tragedy and will pay more in the future, unless those who make bad decisions from their safe city hall locations wake up and put an end to this.

There are other ways to deal with problems that lead to potential chases such as enlightened, hardcore car-seizure policies, drastic penalties, etc. These are the answer—not cops who die doing what chair-warmers want.

There will likely be a lot of useless statements about “what a tragedy” and “reviewing policies,” etc. That will be a lot of hot air.

Stop the chases, period.

Flynn was right. He knew the score and the streets. Common Council members know neither.

It seems apparent that officers are not being intensively prepared for police vehicle chases. Highway Patrol organizations around the country have intensive, real time, extended-period actual pursuit training. And their pursuits are usually on the open highway, not racing through urban areas, at maybe 90 mph, where pedestrians, buildings, tight corners, etc. abound.

After years of no chases, suddenly the green light for them is on. What meaningful training have they received for such extreme danger? Are they prepared for doing what trained professional race drivers would well fear, racing through populated cities? Race drivers racing off track in Europe (Grand Prix) are not talking with excitement on a radio and worrying about bullets coming at them. Police chases can easily cause intense tunnel vision for officers and tunnel vision is dangerous at any speed.

Racecar drivers are well trained and well protected with various types of safety devices.

My past experience is that few officers wear seatbelts, and I never saw any enforcement of wearing them by MPD. Squad cars are inherently dangerous with cage bars, shotguns next to the car seat, computers protruding from the dash mounted on metal plates, etc.

Unless officers receive meaningful training under actual conditions that they would experience in a chase in the urban environment, they are unequipped to engage in highly dangerous pursuits.

It is dangerous for the officers and for the public.

I am speaking from a background of my knowledge of many police chases beginning in 1973 and I regret that. I saw enough of those that resulted in tragic disaster for innocents.

Turning on the green light for chases with no thought given to serious training is negligence. There needs to be a serious immediate inquiry as to this issue and a moratorium on chases until cops are trained and ready for them.

It appears the Common Council and the Fire and Police Commission might not have exercised necessary discretion when suddenly allowing MPD to reinstitute pursuits and the extreme dangers they entail.

Alderman Zielinski led the charge to limit Chief Flynn’s discretionary policy, including Flynn’s prohibition of vehicle chases. Flynn resigned not long after that change.

Chases resumed and within six months, we have the death of a young officer who was killed in a chase, Officer Matthew Schulze was seriously injured, and a squad car and all its equipment were destroyed.

All this, for what? Going after a reckless driver?

When Ald. Zielinski led that charge, what did he also do to ensure, as best able, that the change would not result in a fatal disaster?

This tragedy revealed that Chief Flynn was correct and Zielinski, et al, were wrong.

Michael J. McGuire
Bay View

HALL MONITOR — A Signature Euphemism; a Daft Solution

September 1, 2017

By Jay Bullock

Im so lucky! My school is a “signature school” in the Milwaukee Public Schools this year!

In 20 years of teaching I’ve seen my share of reform efforts and euphemisms. But “signature school,” as a way of indicating schools that failed to meet expectations on the last state report card, may be the craziest.

The designation entitles us to some bonus resources, like a “hotline” for administrators to call in emergencies (not, sadly, a Commissioner Gordon-style red phone) and “resources gathered to counter inequitable patterns,” whatever that means.

During a full week of professional development before students returned, teachers in “signature schools” were presented with a hefty list of “Classroom Set-up Expectations.”

These elicited actual laughs from my colleagues. A classroom library with a carpeted area, so students can sit at our feet? Where does that fit among the 40 desks for my sophomores? Posted weekly lesson plans? Come on, I have to adjust my lessons on the fly almost every day!

Let us not forget the in-class “cool down space,” complete with noise-canceling headphones, lavender-scented pillows, and “a small trampoline.” I am not making this up.

What’s not funny is mandatory posting of achievement, attendance, and discipline data on a “data dashboard,” updated hourly and prominently displayed outside the door of every “signature school” classroom.

This dashboard is clearly designed so central office personnel can see at a glance whether a classroom, and its teacher, are failing because getting to know us and our kids by investing real time among us simply takes too long.

The shame (guilt, stigma — pick your noun) associated with bad data on our dashboards is somehow supposed to motivate teachers and students to do better.

Here’s the thing, we have pretty clear evidence that data walls don’t work.

They originated with University of Chicago’s David Kerbow, who saw data visualization as a way for teachers and administrators to identify problems early. Private data walls in the office or staff lounge provide school adults with big-picture insight and prompt good discussion about what has worked, what hasn’t, and what to try next. They should be a tool for informing next steps, not for judging students or staff.

Importantly, there was never any intention to have “data walls” in view of students or the public. But why should that deter education reformers?

Despite the experiences of places like Holyoke, Mass., that had probably the most famous uproar in 2014, worthless public “data walls” have steadily spread among low-performing schools and districts nationwide.

Yet, we do know what does work. Let’s set aside policing-style classroom set-ups and shaming teachers and students, and instead focus on research-based solutions for “signature schools.”

So what works?


Our must-post data comes from the district’s “universal screener” test, STAR. A screening test is not a test of student achievement; it is, as the label suggests, used to identify early students who need remediation and intervention.

STAR covers only math and literacy, and only in some grade levels. It is not aligned to district curriculum and it is given
just three times a year. My sophomores took the STAR test on August 28 and will not test again until January. Of what value is that January score to anyone visiting my class in, say, November? What use is STAR data posted outside of, say, an art class, ever?

No reputable researcher or organization anywhere recommends using screener data this way, including state and
national Response to Intervention (RtI) groups.

Better achievement happens when teachers track and celebrate individual student growth over time on specific
key skills, which can’t be reflected in a single number. Such growth should be monitored constantly, not checked a few times a year.

As noted by the Achievement Network, a national nonprofit that partners with schools to boost academics, “This is not just about looking at the numbers, but looking at student work that illuminates specific needs of students.” No data dashboard can do that.


Evidence is overwhelming that attendance improves when schools make personal connections to students and families, including through dedicated mentors. Some MPS high schools benefit from City Year, an Americorps-funded program that places recent college grads in the role of mentor and interventionist for ninth-grade students only.

This is a start, but not enough, especially
as City Year interventions miss the vast majority of MPS students and don’t quite go far enough with those they do reach.

According to a guide for schools from Hanover Research, mentors should do more than make a few calls home and see students at school. They should “meet with parents and occasionally participate in home visits for students with attendance or behavior issues.” Mentors should “monitor student progress and work alongside families and communities to improve attendance.”


We must post how long it has been since we wrote a discipline referral, like the signs in factories that read, “This plant has worked x days without an accidental injury.”

There is research to suggest that such workplace signs indeed help minimize
injury, but only after extensive safety training and building a shared sense of community responsibility among workers.

Posting referral data may well work when students have a shared sense of responsibility for each other. Simply posting it won’t do the difficult work of creating such a community.

MPS has made some baby steps with Restorative Practices and trauma-sensitive training. But how do creating tension, competition, and division through these artificial, meaningless “data dashboards” build a caring, connected community?

Real change requires complicated and undoubtedly expensive work. A “data dashboard” is easy and cheap, but utterly useless to anyone except those who want to make snap judgments about students and their teachers.

Jay Bullock teaches English at Bay View High School. Email him at mpshallmonitor@gmail.com.

Paren(t)thesis — Tough Conversations

June 30, 2017

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Kids are known to “say the darndest things.” And sometimes they ask the darndest things.

Kids tend to pose questions while parents are engaged in an activity like walking or driving. Once in a while, adults get a minor shock when a question is flung from the back seat about how babies are made. When answering, there can be a natural desire to evade or rely on a trope involving a stork, but experts say that’s the wrong approach.

In fact, a highly recommended book is It’s NOT the Stork! — A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends written by Robie H. Harris. The informative text manages to make the ultimate awkward topic as comfortable as possible. Michael Emberley’s clear illustrations are engaging and child-friendly, not clinical. A little bird and a bee inject humor and insight via their comments and observations, and they also affirm a range of feelings kids may experience.

Harris authored a small series of books that children and parents can explore sequentially. The progression reinforces the principle that sex and sexuality shouldn’t be a single, pivotal conversation. Instead, it should be an ongoing topic over time.

Of course, kids occasionally talk about it when they are at play together or at school. They also get information and values from media. Yet kids do want their parents to be a source of information, according to experts such as those at the nonprofit Advocates for Youth. Parents are even a preferred source of information.

Most adults find discussing the topic with their children a little embarrassing, and some parents never learned about sex as children in their home, so they may find it especially embarrassing to raise the topic with their own children. Experts say that it’s important to go ahead and venture into the conversation and demonstrate that it’s an area they can discuss.

It’s important to keep talking about this, even if kids are not asking.

More info: advocatesforyouth.org

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

Build A Better Bay View — debut column

July 5, 2016

By Christopher Miller

This month we debut “Build A Better Bay View,” a new column by Christopher Miller. The column title, which the author suggested, references the slogan painted on the north wall of the former Faust Music Building that read For A Stronger Bay View. — Editor

HSMALL Christopher Millerow do we build a better Bay View? It’s time to discuss how we can work together to manage change in our community. Recently the Kinnickinnic Avenue Bid (Business Improvement District #44) completed its visioning process that engaged the neighborhood in sharing ideas about what the KK BID could become and to solicit feedback about what the BID could be doing to improve the KK shopping corridor.

This process surfaced ongoing concerns amongst neighbors about the size and scale of new buildings in Bay View, especially, but not exclusively, along Kinnickinnic Avenue. Many who attended the visioning meetings wanted to create a forum for ongoing work to preserve the community’s special features — historical buildings, urban form, awesome people, and engaged community — that make Bay View a unique place to live, and a desirable place to construct new buildings.

It was perhaps not surprising that these issues came up because they were also a significant part of the recently concluded District 14 Alderic* race. In that campaign, both candidates reviewed a series of recent projects, built or not-yet built, including, the Teachtown project at the former Dover Street School site, the mixed-use development at the former Faust Music site, the development proposal for the At Random site, and the Dwell building on Kinnickinnic at Conway. The discussion highlighted the critical role that the District 14 alder plays in courting businesses, working with builders, and keeping the community informed about possible developments and design proposals.

While there was a great divergence in aesthetic opinion, virtually everyone agreed that moving forward, public participation in the approval process and public input on design proposals would benefit everyone. Ald. Zielinski reiterated his oft-repeated vow that constituent opinion would determine the stance he takes towards proposed construction projects.

The benefits and challenges of change are clear. In the past decade, a thriving creative community and a fabulous dining and nightlife scene came together through the work of countless small business owners, artists, and community patrons. More residential developments soon allowed people to follow in ever-greater numbers, bringing increased housing costs and higher tax bills. Slowly but surely one generation of Bay View is being replaced by another in a process that is not always smooth. But even in the midst of this revival, there are still empty storefronts and pockets of crime.

As noted, the BID’s visioning process revealed that Bay View’s residents want to be engaged in shaping the future of our neighborhood. But because so much has changed over the past decade, and so many familiar landmarks have disappeared, many folks are also concerned about the pace and scope of future change.

What’s just as clear is that there is not yet a consensus about what sort of place Bay View should be, and absent big community discussions about these issues, it’s quite possible that we’ll continue to wander along merely reacting to project after project. Without a vision, the future will just happen to us.

But just what is Bay View? And what does it want to be when it grows up?

Perhaps most importantly, how will we decide?

Currently, we’ve fallen into the trap of being for or against something called “development” as if our only choices are to build whatever someone proposes, or to ban it and preserve things the way they are now. But development is a rather insulting way to frame the entire discussion, and a peculiarly American one at that.

Bay View has been incorporated as a political entity for nearly 150 years, so there’s no possible way anyone can claim that it’s “undeveloped.” Bay View has been built and rebuilt so many times that most of us don’t even know what the intervening versions looked like! We wiped Deer Creek off the map, built and tore down an iron mill, filled in and dug out new paths for rivers, and replaced a rail line with a highway and a bike path. So step one is that we have to step outside the “development” frame.

You can’t be for or against development here; it happened a long time ago, and it will continue to happen.

The question is: What will it look like? What version of change will we choose?

Visions of successful neighborhoods are manifold, and they involve many different competing and overlapping interests and concerns. We have many views about aesthetics, economics, and fairness and equity, and also about diversity of residents, shopping opportunities, and modes of transportation. Each of these holds a different level of appeal to different folks; one person’s vision won’t look like another’s. So any discussion about vision has to take that into account and allow for those who hold the different bundles to have their say, to be heard, and to shape the direction events ultimately take.

That doesn’t mean we should merely move forward by “averaging” everyone’s opinion, or that we strive to make everyone happy. Leadership and shared decision-making cannot be expressed as a simple math problem where we calculate the sum of the individual responses and declare a winner. It involves setting priorities, making choices, and sometimes having difficult conversations with those who won’t be getting their way.

None of this will happen unless we intentionally build a space where individual decisions can be considered in a bigger context. As we consider a specific proposal, its impact on those who live nearby must be considered. But we cannot forget buildings and streetscapes become part of our shared environment and are something that everyone must look at and live with over a long period of time. We need to consider both of these viewpoints.

The KK BID rightly sought community involvement in shaping its own activities and plans for the future. In other cases, we’ve seen that public discourse can, in fact, shape the kinds of structures that are ultimately built in Bay View. It’s important, however, that those processes are not captured by one specific vision of what urban living looks like. Our shared vision must emerge from our individual and collective experiences if our goal is to preserve what people love.

So, moving forward, let’s agree that Bay View is a desirable place. Why do people want to be here? Because of the amazing work its residents do every day creating a community of caring, engaged folks dedicated to their neighborhood. That energy — the individual and collective decisions and actions that thousands of Bay Viewers make every day — is what will build a better Bay View.

Each month, I hope to use this column to explore a specific proposal or concept and to engage in a discussion with folks who have different takes. Check back to see what happens next!

By the way, who is planning that 150th anniversary party in 2029?

*Alderic is a word coined by Miller to replace aldermanic. It is his preferred term, as it is gender neutral.

Christopher Miller has lived in Bay View since 2010 and has been on the board of the Bay View Neighborhood Association, working to connect neighbors for a better Bay View, since 2013.  You can contact him at BuildABetterBV@bayviewcompass.com.

Letter to Editor—The DOC Probation and Parole office on Chase Avenue

June 1, 2016

I would like to let more people know the information I provided at the Bay View community crime meeting May 18 at the South Shore Park Pavilion. It is regarding the new state Department of Corrections (DOC) office on South Chase Avenue, which many people have heard or know about.

Since I kept hearing all sorts of negative reports myself about the new DOC probation and parole office, I decided just to go to the source and get the real story from DOC. I set up a meeting with DOC supervisors, along with Senator Tim Carpenter and staff from the Mayor’s office and the Common Council. The regional DOC chief, Niel Thoreson, responded quickly to set up the meeting, which happened last week. The DOC legislative liaison, Don Friske (a former state representative), also drove over from Madison for the meeting.

As you might expect, I went into the meeting feeling pretty unhappy with DOC’s lack of communication about the new office ahead of time and was not optimistic about the reception we would get. We were all surprised, as it turned out, by how cooperative the DOC staff was in talking over our complaints and requests with us. My first message to them was people around here like to know what is going on, so don’t keep us in the dark!

We also talked over people’s concerns about other tenants in the Rexnord office building. As it turns out, the DOC offices actually have been set up pretty well. The only entrance to the DOC office is right on South Chase Avenue; the office cannot be accessed by going around through the main building. Inside the office, there’s no exit into the main building, not even for washrooms or whatever. We were given a tour while there, and I can tell you the DOC office appears to be completely self-contained. It should be unlikely that probation and parole clients could wander into the rest of the building, but if somehow that does happen, other tenants should just go to the DOC office and complain directly to them.

We also asked exactly who the clientele who use the office will be. We were told that, yes, it’s a probation and parole office, but violent offenders, including sex offenders, will have their appointments elsewhere, at the 2nd District Police Station. So the most serious criminals will not be seen at the South Chase Avenue location.

We also relayed concerns about clients smoking while standing on South Chase by the entrance. Mr. Thoreson volunteered to create a smoking space for them around the corner in the parking lot, off the public sidewalk. That seemed like an adequate solution to that problem, as long as it is used.

We also reported that DOC clients had been going to neighboring businesses asking to use the restrooms, and, we were told that all clients would be directed to stop doing that and only to use the restrooms in the DOC office suite.

Finally, we commented on how many DOC signs there are on the building (five!). They agreed that number seemed like overkill and said they would take down the majority of them after the first few months they are in operation.

We left feeling more optimistic than when we went into the meeting. No one is going to be overjoyed about a probation and parole office in their area. However, as these places go, I think we are on a better track to have its presence make a minimal impact on residents in the neighborhood after working out some of these problems.

The Department of Corrections has pledged to be a good neighbor. Mr. Thoreson said I can call him anytime to relay your comments or complaints, if you get them to me, so please feel welcome to do so!

Best regards,
Christine Sinicki, State Representative
20th Assembly District
P.O. Box 8953, Madison WI 53708

Letter To Editor — How Tippecanoe Neighborhood got its name

February 1, 2016

Illustration of the J. C. Howard farm published the 1876 Milwaukee County Atlas. COURTESY Bay View Historical Society

Illustration of the J. C. Howard farm published the 1876 Milwaukee County Atlas. COURTESY Bay View Historical Society

In response to the article in the January issue of the Bay View Compass about the renovation of the Tippecanoe Library, I would like to offer more information about the naming of Milwaukee’s Tippecanoe neighborhood.

This photo of the J. C. Howard farmhouse is depicted in the 1876 Milwaukee County Atlas (top above). The 160-acre farm was located on the southwest corner of today’s the intersection of Howard and Howell avenues. Ron Winkler estimates that the home was located in the vicinity Third Street and Waterford Avenue. COURTESY Bay View Historical Society

This photo of the J. C. Howard farmhouse is depicted in the 1876 Milwaukee County Atlas (top above). The 160-acre farm was located on the southwest corner of today’s the intersection of Howard and Howell avenues. Ron Winkler estimates that the home was located in the vicinity Third Street and Waterford Avenue.
COURTESY Bay View Historical Society

Tippecanoe was originally a farming district that was centered on the intersection of Howell and Howard avenues, where the Morgan, Howard, Burdick, and Austin families operated farms that supplied fruits, vegetables, and grains to Milwaukee.

Farms were established as soon as the land surrounding the intersection Howard and Howell avenues was settled in 1838. Those who purchased land were required to build a home on their property and develop the land. At that time, “develop” meant to clear the land of trees, shrubs, and rocks to make it suitable for farming.

Greenhouses became established over the years, but it’s not possible to assign exact dates.

The farms and greenhouses were replaced by homes as Milwaukee’s border moved south. Truck farming continued after World War II, but by 1960 most of the greenhouses were gone. Today, the Tippecanoe neighborhood’s boundaries are Morgan Avenue (north), Layton Avenue (south), Sixth Street (west), and the City of St. Francis (east).

Two greenhouses still exist on the south side, Custom Grown on Sixth Street, south of Bolivar on the old Louis Budzien & Sons Greenhouse property, and Donald Hahlbeck Greenhouses, on Twentieth Street, north of Layton.

In the late 1880s, retired Great Lakes Sea Captain John Saveland established two subdivisions north of Howard Avenue. They were Lincoln Park, which was west of Howell Avenue, and Bunker Hill, which was east of Howell Avenue. He hoped that they would become residential suburbs.

Around 1891, Saveland himself moved to Lincoln Park, where his house still stands, 3723 S. First St., next to Saveland Park.

In 1893 he opened the Tippecanoe Amusement Hall and Tippecanoe Lake, present day Saveland Park. By choosing the name Tippecanoe, Saveland was expressing his political party preference. The name soon included the entire area around Howell and Howard avenues.

Captain John Saveland’s Tippecanoe Amusement Hall was converted to the Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church, 125 W. Saveland Ave. in 1917. The dance hall/amusement hall closed in 1915, according to an article published in 1990 by the St. Francis Historical Society. COURTESY Ron Winkler

Captain John Saveland’s Tippecanoe Amusement Hall was converted to the Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church, 125 W. Saveland Ave. in 1917. The dance hall/amusement hall closed in 1915, according to an article published in 1990 by the St. Francis Historical Society. COURTESY Ron Winkler

The amusement hall was built on the foundation of Isaac Austin’s barn. Later the hall was remodeled, in the English Gothic style, to become the Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church. The fieldstone foundation of the original barn is still clearly visible. The streetcar line was extended south to his subdivisions, which at that time were located in a rural district.

Saveland liked the Tippecanoe name with its connection to President Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893). President Harrison and Saveland were both Republicans. Harrison’s grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was President in 1841, but he died of pneumonia only 32 days after his inauguration. William Harrison was the hero of the “Battle of Tippecanoe” in 1811, near today’s Lafayette, Ind. His campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” was a reminder of his war exploits and included the name of his running mate John Tyler.

Ron Winkler
Ron Winkler is the author of
Milwaukee’s Town of Lake
A title in Arcadia Publishing’s history series, Images of America

An Entertainment Mall Is Not What Downtown Needs

July 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux

You are promoting the Milwaukee Bucks’ plan for a bigger-is-better “entertainment mall.” Mayor Tom Barrett insists we can’t have too many downtown bars and restaurants, as long as the distance from each venue is walkable. While conventional wisdom  holds  that clusters of restaurants succeed better than standalones, that applies to gradual expansion, not overnight flooding of a market.

The Bucks have proposed almost seven acres of entertainment floor space in their mall. That’s in addition to the many bars and restaurants to be built inside their arena. A multi-story, block-long “bar mall” would likely double the amount of existing food-and-drink venues in the area, and almost certainly displace more than a few fine establishments.

You’ve expressed confidence that an increasing downtown-population will expand demand for all the additional watering holes. Have you given thought to the danger of the area getting over-served? Economists assert that it’s indeed a problem to crowd too many hospitality options into one place. Milwaukee is not Las Vegas—speculatively building more pubs will not suddenly lure more patrons, unless tourist buses from the suburbs are part of the marketing plan.

If the city approves this deal, it will subsidize a for-profit enterprise with tens of millions of dollars at the expense of businesses that have succeeded on their own. It will green-light a pro-sports cartel’s ambitions while leaving hometown hot spots in the lurch. It’s the NBA’s mandate to create entertainment monopolies adjacent to their arenas—to pocket every discretionary dollar possible. However, Milwaukeeans are not obliged to subsidize both an arena—and an NBA bar mall.

Chain establishments in the NBA/Bucks’ mall would compete toe-to-toe with about 40 property-tax-paying businesses on Old World Third Street and Water Street. There will be winners and losers.

In any case, taxpayers will lose in this survival-of-the-fittest, government-funded private scheme. If this mall, with 75-percent national franchises (according to the Bucks), eventually flounders or fails, it might first drive out authentic locally-owned venues. Downtown doesn’t need another white-elephant mall, just blocks from the half-empty Grand Avenue Mall, and newly shuttered doors on Water and Third streets.

Cities with defunct entertainment malls include Minneapolis and Memphis. Such “McDevelopments” have also struggled or cycled through bankruptcy in other cities, including Kansas City, Mo. and Glendale, Ariz.

Urban planner Nathaniel Hood catalogs these malls’ pitfalls. He says that by focusing solely on entertainment, these monocultures limit diverse commerce and discourage residential development. Also, one sinking ship can bring down a whole fleet. Most of all, formulaic blandness gets old fast, especially to suburbanites heading downtown for a good time. (http://goo.gl/EaZnD1)

In contrast, smaller, older buildings, like those on Third and Water streets, reliably lend themselves to venues with character. Renowned urban planners Daniel Campo and Brent Ryan consider the Water Street District one of the most successful naturally-occurring entertainment zones in the country. Those local businesses have revitalized downtown—without taxpayer subsidies. (http://goo.gl/QKfMEq)

Moving forward, Milwaukee’s Convention and Arena District needs development that serves more than just entertainment. After a new arena is built, and the Bradley Center is demolished, pursue the redevelopment of the Bradley Center site with food and drink and varied retail options for visitors, convention-goers, and downtown residents, workers and students. Do not demolish, for no good reason, the fully functional Fourth Street parking garage and give away the site to the Bucks for their “Coals to Newcastle” bar mall. That eliminates the need to build a new parking lot for the Bucks a couple blocks north, an unbelievable $35-million-dollar waste of tax dollars, and topping that profligacy by then sharing half the parking revenue with the Bucks! This is all fiscal folly.

Empty storefronts on Fourth Street could be enlivened with new restaurants. Let’s spread the cheer all through downtown by day and night. Columbus, Ohio’s much-touted Arena District has many clubs and restaurants interspersed throughout a mixed-use neighborhood—not a glitzy entertainment mall trying hard to be a destination.

Commissioner Marcoux, Milwaukee is at a pivotal moment. We need big-picture planning that finally knits together Westown, not piecemeal development that appeases NBA owners. Please rethink the Bucks’ bar mall notion. It would needlessly hand over, and raze, a tiptop city parking facility, forgo millions in public revenue, and jeopardize two thriving business districts, all to satisfy demands by the Bucks and NBA to increase their “revenue streams.” The unintended consequences of this ill-advised, subsidized mall could wreak havoc for decades.

We can build a new arena without making the Bucks’ owners the master developers of downtown. Thoughtful planning and entrepreneurial diversity has already produced dynamic redevelopment. That’s why downtown is on the move. Milwaukee needs to build on those successes by engaging and serving the whole community.

Commissioner Marcoux, the very idea of this disruptive arena annex is ridiculous. It’s an unsophisticated attempt to siphon off nearby beverage business. Don’t mess with Milwaukee’s success!

Virginia Small

Friends of South Shore Park Update + May 14 Potluck

May 1, 2015

At our monthly meeting in March, members of the South Shore Park Watch decided to update our name to the Friends of South Shore Park. The core mission of our volunteer, nonprofit organization remains unchanged as we continue to promote the preservation, enhancement, and enjoyment of South Shore Park. We work to share our mission by various means, including educational, recreational, and community events at the park.

Established in 1996, we are proud to recognize the accomplishments of South Shore Park Watch, including advocating reconstruction of the breakwater and Oak Leaf Trail, hosting National Night Out events, rain garden and native plant restoration work, beach cleanups, and regular support for the farmers market and annual plant sale at the park.

On April 23, we hosted our 16th annual Earth Day education event, which featured a series of environmental education sessions. Each year it is attended by several hundred students from our community.

Looking ahead, we are advocating for the improvements included in the current South Shore Park master plan effort. Our main focus is to see significant improvement in water quality at the beach. A key component for improved water quality is the proposed parking lot reconstruction.

We will continue with beach monitoring and cleanups this year under the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program.

We look forward to engaging more members who value South Shore Park as a community resource. Anyone interested in connecting with our group can attend one of our regular meetings, normally the second Thursday of each month at 7pm at the South Shore Park Pavilion. Please visit our website or our Facebook page for more details. We can also be reached by email at friendsofsouthshorepark@gmail.com.

We are excited to introduce the Friends of South Shore Park to both new and established residents of the Bay View community.

Please join us for a Potluck Social at 6pm, Thursday, May 14 at South Shore Park Pavilion. Those who can attend are asked to bring a dish to share. Beverages and tableware will be provided. Please join us for a fun evening!

Cary Solberg
Friends of South Shore Park Board Member

April Fool’s Issue’s Bay View Mechanics Story

May 1, 2015

Thank you for the April Fool’s article. It was hilarious and has been the talk of the shop for the last week!

After reading about the “Ethanol Stout,” a customer made up a label for some of his home brew and brought it in. It’s on display with our memorabilia.

I may just look into having St. Francis Brewery create a few cases.


Sidney Vannoy

Sid’s Auto Repair

OPEN LETTER to Ald. Tony Zielinski: Faust Site Redevelopment

April 1, 2015

Faust Site Redevelopment

Open Letter To Ald. Tony Zielinski

March 23, 2015

Hi Tony,

I’ll be out of town on March 31st and unable to attend the Faust redevelopment meeting, unfortunately, so am expressing my concerns here.

Good urban design demands integration with the surrounding neighborhood and because this site is a gateway to Bay View, it’s crucial that the Faust redevelopment project is done in a way that welcomes residents and visitors, not offends them. The current proposal of five stories is much too massive for the site, out of context with KK’s commercial and neighborhood scale. As proposed, the structure is a confrontation to those of us who value Kinnickinnic Avenue for its unique historic character, which is serving Bay View quite admirably. Restaurants and shops are doing quite well using the existing building stock.

There is no need to overwhelm the street with structures such as that proposed; taller structures may be placed elsewhere where they fit in context, not on KK. Warehouse redevelopment activity in the Third and Fifth Ward and in Walker’s Point is a good example. In those places, taller buildings fit in. Eventually this may happen in Bay View on the Grand Trunk site or across the river in the large warehouses near Barnacle Bud’s or other locations where taller building would mesh. But not on KK.

As our public servant, we’re counting on you to represent the viewpoints of the Bay View community at large in your decision-making, not just property owners on KK. KK is an integral part of our community — the backbone, essentially — and its integrity needs to be protected for its uniqueness rather than wholesale transformation into a street dwarfed by four or five story buildings.

Thank you, Tony.

Angie Tornes
Bay View

PS Recently I showed the image of the proposed development in the Bay View Compass to my mother and asked her in a nonbiased way what she thought of it. She was appalled, and said,”There’s no way something like that could be built on Kinnickinnic, is there?” Let’s hope not.

Alderman Zielinski’s Response

March 23, 2015

Hello Angie,

The developers will not build the project without this density. They indicate to me that without this density the numbers don’t work for them. So what we are doing is making the building look more traditional with more bricks, etc. That is a compromise and everybody has some voice in the project then.

If I vote no on this project, then we will lose a $12 million development, additional patrons for the businesses, and less life on the street, which translates into the area not being as safe as it could be. We would also lose out on the additional tax revenue that would be generated. Moreover, this site is likely to be a vacant and abandoned storefront near the gateway of Bay View on KK. In that scenario it would remain vacant and abandoned for years to come.

Every business owner I visited in that area is strongly in favor of the project.

Knowing all this do you want me to try to kill the project?


Angie Tornes’s Reply

March 24, 2015

Hi Tony,

Thanks for your response regarding the developer’s concern for density and by default, height, needed to make his project work. Rather than “kill the project,” I’d urge you to guide it to an appropriate setting away from Kinnickinnic, where desired density can be reached via a larger footprint with less height or the same height where it blends in to the surroundings. As I mentioned in my previous email, there are places in Bay View suitable for such developments.

Consider the recent wave of people, most of whom are disproportionately younger, returning to cities and to specific neighborhoods in cities. We would be wise to pay attention to findings in a 2014 report, “Older, Smaller Better: Measuring How the Character of Buildings and Blocks Influences Urban Vitality.” The report uses metrics in several case studies and documents that neighborhoods with older, smaller buildings in commercial zones surrounded by neighborhoods are highly attractive, particularly to younger people, and have a greater concentration of new and creative jobs and density. This trend is already happening on and around Kinnickinnic; if we maintain the integrity and ambiance of both our commercial and residential districts, new residents will increasingly be drawn to KK and Bay View.

Angie Tornes
Bay View

LETTER TO EDITOR: Faust Music Site — Honor the Past, Retain Warm Allure

April 1, 2015

Faust Music Site — Honor the Past, Retain Warm Allure

The Faust Music store is now empty since its owner recently died. The prominent corner site, 2202-2206 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is now in the sights of a developer that wants to plant a massive 72-unit apartment building there. It is a heavy looking, primarily black and gray straight-lined behemoth.

The effects of such high density are to enrich its owners and to permanently create aesthetic chaos across the landscape of S. Kinnickinnic and to forever depress the dreams that so many in Bay View desire for an attractive, cohesive, and photogenic business area. This important spot in Bay View will either fashion our modernity or foreshadow an everlasting heartbreak, especially as one looks south on KK from north of the site.

Developers are eyeing Bay View (as developers must keep looking for areas that are newly popular) for making a great deal of money through high-density development, copy-cat designs that inadequately consider the welfare and sensibilities of those who have lived there. There is nothing new about such profiteering that burdens the local populace.

It is right to look at the Faust Music site as an opportunity; a once and for all opportunity. It is a chance to create, through wise design, a cohesiveness that the north end of the KK business district needs. But to do so, an apartment or other building would incorporate natural or simulated natural materials, softer lines, and a warm appearance that references the natural warmth of the existing older buildings, which will remain indefinitely.

In this defining spot in Bay View, a new building can and will say what our character is. We are not like other parts of the city. We are not cold, square, dark. We are natural. We honor the past while retaining our quaint, warm allure.

The proposed design is cold and harsh and has nothing to do with character of Bay View. As seen elsewhere in Milwaukee, such buildings quickly lose sentiment when a better design shows up nearby.

It is time that we give serious consideration to color. Compatible but uplifting colors for the north end of the KK district should be earthy but somewhat brighter than that of the existing structures on the street.

All Bay View residents will lose if the proposed design prevails. And all Bay View residents should register their concerns with the Kinnickinnic BID board (Business Improvement District), at info@bayviewwi.com, or write to Kinnickinnic BID #44, 2685 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee, WI, 53207

David Endres
S. Superior St.

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