Michael Horne
The Roundup

Who’s on Fifth?

By - Dec 15th, 2003 08:00 am
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Fifth Third Bank, an $89 billion corporation, will have a location in the city of Milwaukee, its first in Wisconsin, members of the City Plan Commission were informed at the body’s meeting on December 8th.

The firm has 953 banking offices in eight states – Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia. Over 100 of these are supermarket branches, open 7 days a week.

Its appearance in Milwaukee should fuel further speculation about the future of such resident banks as Associated Bancorp and the M&I Bank, long viewed as takeover candidates. Fifth Third’s heavy consumer focus makes it a rival for Washington Mutual, a giant Seattle-based firm that aims to dominate America’s vast middle market with its banking “stores.” WAMU has already put a scare into Bank One with its aggressive entrance into Chicago. (Example of its strategy: free ATM access for all, customers or not.) WAMU also employs thousands in Milwaukee at its customer service center at Park Place.

Fifth Third plans to open space in the Honey Creek Corporate Center on West Chester and North 92nd Street in Milwaukee.

The bank’s odd name, a heritage of the merger of the Fifth National and the Third National Banks of Ohio has been in use in one form or another since June 1, 1908, when it was styled the Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati. It was the cause of a few chuckles among the commissioners.

“What happens when we have the Sixth Fifth Third Bank?” asked commissioner Julilly Kohler. Chairman Bob Greenstreet said, “this is their first branch in Milwaukee, so it’s the First Fifth Third Bank.” Later, the commissioners approved sale of a property at 1136 E. North Avenue to the adjoining owner. The property, now in the 6th aldermanic district, is moving to the 3rd aldermanic district. “So it’s moving like the Fifth Third Bank – the Sixth Third District.” General laughter ensued after the Chairman’s droll witticism.

On the Trail

With the Guv., Sen. Ted, the omnipresent Judge Halbrooks, Tom Barrett’s 50th Birthday Bash. Plus, Doc. Wasserman lays out a spread, and who is the “Right Russ?”

The American Serb Hall was the site of a December 4th fundraiser for Governor Jim Doyle, an event that drew Wisconsin’s two U.S. Senators, Herb Kohl and Russell Feingold. Several hundred union and other folks came out to join the festivities, which welcomed them with a chance to join the “Governor’s Circle,” described as “an exciting new way to show your support for Governor Jim Doyle … the Governor’s Circle is a unique way to provide your thoughts and ideas for moving Wisconsin forward and promote positive leadership for our state.” Exciting? Unique? Hardly. Governors’ Circles date to the political Paleolithic era. You can join for $500 (Silver), $1,000 (Gold), or $2,500 (Platinum) and enjoy such benefits as “Invitation to holiday gathering in Madison,” (be still my heart) and your very own “Governor’s Circle lapel pin,” fashioned 100 per cent not of silver, gold or platinum. Want to join? Ulice Payne is the Co-Chair for Milwaukee. Give him a ring. He’s probably at home right now waiting for somebody to call. … At the event newest Judge Glenn H. Yamihiro said he’s running against Robert Crawford for the 34th Branch seat. Who? You remember Crawford, “he was suspended by the Supreme Court,” he told signers of his nomination papers.

Republican state Sen. Ted Kanavas held an out-of-district fundraiser on December 4th at LaPerla. “There is nothing like a Greek having a fundraiser in a Mexican Restaurant,” he told the crowd, adding, “I came here for my buddy, Nick.” That would be Nick Anton, the restaurant’s owner and husband of JoAnne Anton, staff assistant of Democrat U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. “I want to thank Nick and JoAnne since I am the only Republican they support. Among attendees: Fritz Usinger (who usually doesn’t go to such things), Bell Ambulance’s Jim Lombardo (who celebrated his birthday at his Stubs Pub days later), and the Milwaukee Police Association’s Bill Ward, still coy about his endorsement for mayor. (The union later came out for Barrett.)

Kanavas is leading the charge to change the future of Wisconsin’s economy. “When we are done Wisconsin will have the most resilient economy driven by intellectual property,” he said. Highlights of his proposal: Infrastructure, (including power); Broadband throughout the state (“will happen in the next 5 years”); and our old friend, Capital.

His legislation deviates from what Rep. Sheldon Wasserman dismisses as the republicans’ fixation on “the three ‘G’s’ – Guns, Gays and God,” and Kanavas said, “please stress that we are working together. I concentrate on economic issues. We’ve been working with Governor Doyle and negotiating with Governor Doyle and he’s going to sign these things into law.”

…BARRETT’S B-DAY – Mayoral candidate Tom Barrett celebrated his 50th birthday at a reception at Turner Hall in the company of such familiar faces as Mike Mervis, Jeff Bentoff, Marsha Sehler, Cathy Miller, Kris Martinsek, Judge David Halbrooks, Barb Boxer, Dennis Conta, David Riemer, Paul Mathews, Shirley Krug, and Barb Candy. You can’t get much more familiar than that, especially if you’ve been anywhere near City Hall for the last sixteen years. Barrett offered beer – including good stuff like Späten – along with a buffet that featured, in order of appearance, cheese, crackers, crudités, cheese, crackers, crudités. Peter Bock was there with a replaced ankle covered in a cast. Surgery was 7 weeks ago, so please take care of your ankles somehow. Music was by Sigmund Snopek, who needed help getting to the gig since the transmission blew on his car. The event, December 8th, was Barrett’s actual birthday, the crowd was told by Clerk of Courts John Barrett, the ex-congressman’s brother. He and Tom worked a job together when they were young and Tom “pushed me and pushed me, and that’s what Tom will do as mayor,” John Barrett promised the crowd. (By “me” he meant us, and by “pushed” he meant “work hard on behalf of”).

Tom the Pusher admitted that for his part he was “excited about our new online ability to accept campaign contributions.” John said “when we were kids he always loved getting envelopes on his birthday.” Nothing’s changed there.

Tom Barrett also offered what he called a “stock tip” for suburbanites. “I will make this city so good you’ll want to move in – so buy now! … We want people to know that Milwaukee is a place on the move.” Among the auditors were such luminaries as Pedro Colón, who abandoned his candidacy in favor of Barrett, his (Pedro’s) close pal and adviser Mark Thomsen, Assistant City Attorney Bruce Schrimpf (the little model train that circles in the lobby of City Hall is his), Tim Carpenter and Josh Zepnick along with tall, thin, and de-rugged Fred Tabak, candidate for City Attorney against incumbent Grant Langley in a race you could call “Gangly vs. Langley.

… SHELDON’S SPREAD – Does Sheldon Wasserman live like a doctor who happens to be a legislator? Or a legislator who happens to be a doctor? His Lake Drive address is inconclusive, since it is an odd numbered one, but supporters were invited to see for themselves on December 9th when he held an open house fundraiser that drew about 50 people including realtor Jack H. Smith (a close pal of wife Wendy), Judge John Seyfert, Fred Tabak, Sandra McSweeney, Jane Waldbaum and Danni Gendelman. The chow included a giant smoked salmon, fruit, pastries, two hot dishes and assorted cheese plates and other goodies. The beverages were limited to the soft versions of liquid, which tells us that Wasserman drinks like a doctor and not like a legislator. Judge Seyfert said that since he’s transferred to Felony Drug Court he’s learned what a “bird” of cocaine is. So what’s a “bird” of cocaine, judge? “It’s a kilo.” (His honor is going to be talking like a rap star before you know it!) He also gave his advice for when you post cash bail for a felony drug arrest. Don’t! “The Sheriff’s procedure is first a metro narcotic detective inspects the money. Then they bring in a drug sniffing dog, and if the dog sniffs drugs on the money, then they seize it.” You’re out the money, and your buddy’s still in jail.

… ALBERTA DARLING’S GIG – Republican Senator Alberta Darling had a small fundraiser at the Tory Folliard Gallery in the Historic Third Ward on December 9th . Steve and Sally Stevens, fellow residents of the Village of River Hills, were among the attendees, along with Jill Pelisek and J. Camp Van Dyke, Jr. Campy says his retirement from Robert W. Baird and Co. was not successful and that he is dealing with hedge funds in a new job at Stark Investments. (That “can-do” spirit has kept the Van Dykes out of the poor house for how many generations now?) In brief remarks, digested with chevre, brie and wine from the Firestone Vineyard — (Firestone who? According to the invitation, “ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ Andrew Firestone”) – Darling outlined her program, to wit:

  1. “Get our fiscal house in order.”
  2. “I want to grow Wisconsin”
  3. “I want to change the way Wisconsin does business.”

If this sounds a bit like Calvin Coolidge’s 1924 platform, downsized for local consumption, Darling did show her compassionate side when Mr. Van Dyke asked her what she had to say about the Milwaukee Public Schools and its condition. “The biggest problem is the homeless kids in the Milwaukee Public Schools. There are seven thousand of them.”

…THE RIGHT RUSS – The Russ Darrow campaign held a fundraiser at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on December 10th. Among the 75 or so suits in attendance was fellow car dealer Gordie Boucher. Both guys look just like they do on TV. Darrow’s spread was strictly meat and cheese – not a vegetable in sight. The buffet included two types of meatballs, (Swedish and otherwise). Cocktails were served — good stiff ones. Darrow’s campaign literature identifies him as the “Right Russ.” (Rather clever, that.) Eric Schutt is managing the campaign. The campaign committee, republicanly enough, is styled “Russ Darrow for Senate, Incorporated.” … Meanwhile, across the hall in the ironically named “Elephant Room,” a bunch of Democrats fundraised for David Halbrooks, who has been everywhere lately, his nomination papers ever at hand. Halbrooks offered free soda, wine and Miller products to his guests, including former boss Grant Langley, political guru Bill Christofferson (who notes that County Executive candidate Joe Klein’s website contains advertising, imagine that), Dave Olson, and others too numerous to mention.

What’s Developing?

The Department of City Development staff is dealing with all sorts of projects in the waning days of the Norquist administration. Here are a few brief notes on some of them.

Boris Gokhman has received approval to construct 112 units of apartments and ground floor retail space on the northwest corner of E. Royall Pl. and N. Farwell Ave., on the site of a city-owned surface parking lot he will buy for $156,000. That sounds like a good deal, but the catch is that he is obliged to replace, in perpetuity, the 71 parking spaces that will be eliminated in the construction. That amenity will cost him about $1,000,000 he says. The public parking, and 251 new parking spots for residential and retail tenants of the proposed building will occupy 1-1/2 levels below grade and another two levels above grade at the 11-story building. The residential condos will be equally split between one bedroom and two bedroom units. The smaller units will retail from $169,900 to the low $200,000’s and the larger units will range from $240,000 to the low $300,000’s, he said. Eighty per cent of the development will be under $300,000. Believe it or not, that’s considered the “lowest price point in the market” these days, partly because the consumer demands whirlpools, maple kitchens, in-unit washer and dryers and nine foot ceilings. “That is everything that needs to be in the market today to sell,” he said. Gokhman’s New Land Development company needs 30 presales to secure its financing, and already has sold 11 units. Groundbreaking is expected for spring with completion in summer, 2005.

What will happen to the parkers displaced during construction? Gokhman is arranging to rent existing parking spaces adjacent to the property from such locations as the underused Suminski Weiss funeral home and other businesses.

The provision to replace city-owned parking spaces in a new development is guaranteed by deed restrictions. This would be the third such building of the sort that he has constructed.

… NEW LOEW’S – Loew’s, the giant home improvement center, has received approval for its first Milwaukee big box … New housing is on the way for the area between N. 17th and N. 20th Streets and W. Juneau and W. McKinley Aves., an area that could use it, and a grocery store as well. … The grocery proposed for N.27th St. and W. Wisconsin Aves., a pet project of former Ald. Paul Henningsen, is on hold according to June Moberly of the Westown Association. The site, once home to a hotel demolished for the project, will lie fallow until the neighborhood improves and the market realizes its worth. (Moberly recently bought an Elm Grove condominium after finding nothing in her price range in her preferred location, the east side.)

… CALLING OUR BLUFF – The Mandel Group has called for the city to vacate the northern portion of Riverboat Road east of the Humboldt Bridge for its proposed condominium development just south of the Jewel Osco store. This apparently will bring Mandel’s property line right up to the curb of the street, now under reconstruction. A ten foot wide bicycle trail is now under construction on the south side. Department of City Development staff claim there is a sidewalk on the north side – in the very corridor to be deeded to Mandel. In fact, there is not, and it looks like Barry’s condos – perhaps their garage entrances – could front immediately on the street.

… CONVENT HILL – the east side downtown Milwaukee Housing Authority residence, will be totally redone over the next couple of years. Right now a wire mesh completely encases the crumbling masonry structure like a bad piece of Christo’s art.

… REMEMBER ESHAC – the East Side Housing Action Coalition whose former director, Michael D’Amato, is now an alderman? Forty of the low income housing units developed and rehabilitated by the late organization will be turned into condominiums.

… QUALITY OPTICAL – the long time tenant of  Hotel Wisconsin retail space, will move a block to the north, occupying a portion of the old “Radio Doctors” space that most recently held Alan Preuss florists. All tenants of the Hotel were recently evicted on rather short notice.

… THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO – (Milwaukee Branch) is moving from its location at 304 E. State Street, and the windowless space is for lease. Since the Bank is moving its check processing operations to Chicago, Milwaukee’s role as home to a portion of one of the world’s mightiest financial institution will be but a memory, but what are you going to do about it? Boycott Federal Reserve notes, and only accept coins. Hold checking accounts only in state chartered banks. That will show them. … 

Keep Your Pants On: A Modest Change at the Milwaukee Athletic Club

Apparently the young bucks who reject joining the Milwaukee Athletic Club are grossed out at the veteran members who have enjoyed the privilege of swimming naked there forever. According to Robert E. Bellin, president of the MAC, effective January 2, 2004, “swimsuits will be required in the men’s pool at all times. … I realize this ends a long-standing tradition at the Club. There are a number of reasons for moving in this direction, but one of the most important was the negative reaction to ‘naked’ swim from many prospective members. As we struggle to attract new members, this seemed to be a modest compromise to modernize our image.”

The club, Bellin notes, has “purchased a supply of swimsuits which will be available at the sign-in desk on the sixth floor.” (Let’s hope they extend at least to the calves, and have half-sleeves. Red and white horizontal stripes would be nice.)

Bellin does not identify any of the “other reasons” for abandoning the naked swimming, but we imagine they must be too sordid to recount in a letter addressed to “Dear Fellow Male Members.” The last skinny dip will be on New Year’s Day, and with it will disappear one of the better reasons for joining. It will be a sad day for Milwaukee, so fellas, tear up your membership cards and head to the Midtowne Spa instead.

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