Michael Horne
The Roundup

Pratt’s “Reimbursement” Mystery Money

By - Feb 9th, 2004 08:00 am
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Between August 20th and September 5th of last year, then-Alderman Marvin Pratt wrote three checks to himself, each for $2,500, according to campaign finance reports filed on February 2nd at City Hall. It was among the many disbursements Pratt’s mayoral campaign had made during the recording period. Pratt left blank the reason for one of the $2,500 checks, while the others were labeled “reimbursement.”

Milwaukeeworld called and e-mailed Pratt’s campaign last week to find out what expenditure, exactly, had been reimbursed. The campaign has not responded by press time Sunday. Spivak and Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the reimbursement checks in their column Sunday, noting that Pratt had had no comment for them, either. Three checks for $2,500 is a lot of money – so is the $370 “reimbursement” check Pratt sent himself on December 22nd. It would be nice to know what the money was spent for. In fact, you’d imagine the law would require that sort of disclosure.

Pratt has spent some campaign money in ways that can be documented. Urban Marketing received at least $36,000 for helping the Pratt campaign. Sherrie Hill, a consultant, got $3,000 on July 5th and 21st, $3,000 on August 14th, $2,000 on November 22nd and $4,000 on December 22nd. Richard Hatcher received an $800 speaking fee from the campaign in December. The campaign returned a $365 donation from Bill Katzman.

Clarke’s Funds

Just as Sheriff David Clarke seems to draw his support from out of town, he also looks beyond our city’s boundaries to spend his money. Clarke’s campaign manager is Jeremy Cole of Louisville, Kentucky, who receives better than $2,500 a month for the service. Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Virginia received $11,000 for polling and focus groups in November. Lisa Sanfilippo received $1,000 a month for her work with the campaign. Local boy Fred Luber gave $3,000 to the campaign.

Nice Work if You Can Get it

Tom Barrett took to the streets Saturday February 7th, campaigning up and down Brady Street. Milwaukeeworld asked the mayoral candidate if he was aware that his opponent, Marvin Pratt had written $7,500 in checks to himself. Barrett simply looked astonished by the checks and the amounts and had no comment. Barrett’s campaign treasury is the largest of any candidate, and although he did not write any checks to himself, his aides are doing well. Campaign manager Joel Brennan makes $6,000 a month doing his job, while Eric Von receives $4,000. Scott Gunderson and Eamon Guerin (son of attorney Mike Guerin) seem to clock in at $1,500 per month, while fundraiser Barb Candy receives $4,500 and Julie Tabak $2,500.

]Barrett raises these funds through a variety of means, including a $100-per-person event February 4th at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. He was introduced to the group numbering 17, including Kevin Lyons, Barb Ulichny and former Journal reporter Fran Bauer, by former Governor Tony Earl. Earl noted that everybody considers Barrett be a “nice guy,” adding that “politics needs nice people – we have enough meanies on both sides nowadays.”

Barrett then gave his “Buy Now” speech. In that oration, he tells his audience to invest in Milwaukee now, since it will be worth tremendously more after the administration of a Barrett mayoralty.

“We need some one to sell the city,” Barrett exhorted the crowd. In an attempt to differentiate himself from former mayor John O. Norquist, with whom he shares many supporters, Barrett said “Norquist had the vision, but not necessarily the sales” acumen to push the city.

Barrett then segued into the “Dad Sold Ditch diggers” story, one that dates to his assembly campaigns. Earth moving equipment is not “sexy,” the story goes, and “if you can sell ditch diggers, you can sell everything. I will sell Milwaukee. I will market it. If there is anything I learned in Washington it is that if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will.”

He said that when a CEO announced his plans to move his company (probably Roundy’s) to Milwaukee, he received all sorts of calls from leaders of other communities beseeching him to change his mind. The CEO told Barrett that that was the only time he had heard from the leaders of the other cities – after he had made his decision to move. “That tells me I have to call executives,” Barrett said.

He also mentioned a federal program that brought money to certain cities in other states. Wisconsin got zero. “Why? Nobody asked,” he said.

In September, WHEDA and Legacy Bank applied for a share of $300 million in tax credits. That decision is still pending, Barrett said. His moral: “You can’t get a cow to give you any milk unless you milk the cow.”

Barrett’s School Plan – Revised

Sheriff David Clarke and businesswoman Sandy Folaron are among the mayoral candidates who took Barrett to task for his announced (and then abandoned) plans to take over control of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Around the time he announced his proposals, Barrett met with Superintendent William Andrekopolous and joked, “you know, I’ve done more to improve your job security that anyone.” Andrekopolous said that, indeed, the school board had just extended his contract. Since Barrett doesn’t want to take over the schools, what does he want to do? “Rather than have the city treat the schools as an unwanted step child,” Barrett “wants the mayor to be much more involved in the schools. I’m embarrassed that we have had six superintendents in nine years in Milwaukee.” Since Milwaukee has only had six mayors in 88 years, that is saying something.

Doyle Vetoes Stick

Governor Jim Doyle was in Milwaukee on February 4th, breaking ground for a new passenger ferry terminal and breaking bread at the Astor Hotel with supporters of David Riemer in a highly-partisan rally. Doyle announced to the supporters “the legislature has voted to sustain my veto on the concealed-carry law.” He played up the law-and-order approach to retaining the state’s historic ban on concealed weapons, finding little merit in the arguments of supporters of the measure that he had vetoed. “Will we have kids walking in shopping malls with guns in their pockets?” he asked. Maybe so, but they won’t be legal. The timing of the override vote seemed designed to embarrass the governor. Instead, the republicans in the assembly failed to observe a cardinal rule of politics: “don’t call for a vote unless you have the votes to win.” Instead, in a rush for the first override since 1981 of a governor’s complete veto of a bill, the republicans missed their chance and opened themselves up to the governor’s ongoing criticism that they should stick to real issues instead of the “three g’s” – gambling, guns and gays.

Milwaukeeworld asked Doyle about the machinations behind the scenes as the override vote loomed. “A number of people were busy making sure that the override would not pass,” he said. And you were one of those people, right, Governor? “That’s right. I was actively involved.”

The crowd at the Astor included many of the whos-whosey set of Democrat politics these days. Judge Chuck Kahn was there, along with Leo Ries, Fred Kessler, Bill Christofferson, Joe Czarnecki, Chris Abele, Ron San Felippo, Joe Messinger, Bob Friebert, Sally Peltz, Sarah Kimball and Julilly W. Kohler. Maryanne Epstein took the elevator to the party from her suite, originally designed for Walter Schroeder, the hotel’s builder.

Food & Froth at Museum

The Milwaukee Public Museum was filled Saturday, February 7th with thousands of beer drinkers enjoying the sixth annual Food & Froth Fest sponsored by the museum’s friends group. Although long lines queued up at several stations scattered throughout the building, all the lovely things to look at there tempered the wait. By the time you refilled your glass, you could learn all sorts of things about the range of the American Bison, or you could wonder why Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer was stationed up on the third floor instead of in Pabst Park in the Streets of Old Milwaukee. Lakefront Brewery’s Russ Klisch was there, having spent the afternoon at New World Wine Company autographing bottles of his new Snakechaser Stout, introduced that afternoon. Paul Moebius of Lakefront says the brewery has already sold 500 cases of its newest offering. The stout has a crisp taste with its toasted malt flavors immediately evident, and in its aftertaste. The beer had a very rich bouquet going down with berry-cocoa-coffee undertones. A true breakfast beer. Michael Bieser was there with his wife Lynn Bieser. He says he is selling software now for his brother and is “happy to be out” of the brewing business, having sold his share of the Milwaukee Ale House. … Randy Sprecher, inscrutable as always, says he is working on a non-sugar, light soft drink, and would say nothing more about the product. He says his Glendale brewery is undergoing a management shakeup, and you can bet he’s the one doing the shaking. As usual, Sprecher says he has no need for outside capital. … Sigmund Snopek brought his “Beer Show” to the party, and captured my heart with the UFO Polka, including several references to the “Cedarturd Police.” Ouch! …

John Zappa, whose great-grandfather was a cousin of Frank Zappa’s great-grandfather, was there representing Stevens Point Brewery, where he has been brewmaster since the seventies. The brewery did 60,000 barrels last year, has introduced some new products, revamped its labels and has reintroduced Augsburger Golden. Brewery co-owner Jim Weichmann missed the event, and went to the symphony instead. Afterwards he hosted the Stevens Point contingent to a light supper at Eagan’s. Russ Klisch joined the fun, and everybody talked beer.

SINK THIS SHIP: Battleship Plans for Lakefront Ludicrous

A proposal has been floated to locate the U.S.S. Des Moines on the lakefront of Milwaukee, where the 716-foot battleship would be berthed at Veterans Park. Never mind that the ship has no connection to Milwaukee, or that the Great Lakes have not known naval engagements since the War of 1812. The ship was commissioned in 1948 and served bravely in the Cold War, being mothballed in 1961 in Pennsylvania, where it remains to this day. It might make an interesting tourist attraction, worth visiting exactly once, if it could be hidden in some inaccessible part of our harbor, but it is very hard to hide a ship that is twice as long as a football field. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, the ship rises 125 feet above the water line, or the height of “a six story building,” as the paper puts it. I suppose Journal Sentinel editors live with 20-foot ceilings, but a 125-foot structure is a ten-story building (or more) for the rest of us. The article in Saturday’s newspaper also includes what is probably the first quote from John O. Norquist in his capacity as former mayor. Norquist says the proposal is a non-starter.

MORE INTERESTING NEWS

Kathleen Patrick and Joseph Catanzaro have moved their studio galleries from Chicago to Milwaukee with the opening last week of Patrick & Catanzaro Fine Art in the old Lou Fritzel building, 735 N. Milwaukee Street. Their “affordable art” is just right for “affordable housing,” and maintains much the same aesthetic. The two work prolifically in many genres, most of them quite vivid. The gallery may not have something for everybody, but it does have everything for somebody. … The death of Joan Marcus came as a hard blow to workers at the Pfister Hotel. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the staff was told that Marcus had died at 62 years old on Friday, February 6th. Stephen and Joan Marcus maintained a low-key existence in town and would often be found dining at Ferrante’s Restaurant in Mequon, hardly an extravagant spot. The family will greet friends Monday, February 9th at 1 p.m. at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts prior to the 2 p.m. services. …

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