Michael Horne
The Roundup

Taxes Due on Site of Suspicious 2002 OIC Fire

By - Dec 20th, 2004 12:00 pm
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On March 10, 2002, a five-alarm fire destroyed the plant of Opportunities Pallet Recycling and Manufacturing Co, Inc., at 2803 N. 32nd Street. Nobody was injured, but the 3-story building was a loss.
Opportunities Pallet, founded in 1978, was a for-profit subsidiary of OIC-GM, and was listed among the organization’s assets as recently as the time of the state audit completed this summer.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of December 12th , OIC no longer owns the pallet company, although the publication provided absolutely no documentation to back up its claim that OIC has been shed of the business.

According to official records of the state of Wisconsin, available here, the firm’s registered agent is Carl A. Gee of 4018 N. 19th Place in Milwaukee. No change in registered agent has been listed since November 2003, long before the agency’s troubles were widely publicized.

We wondered about what happened to the site of the former plant, and pulled the Fire Department’s records that show the building caught blaze at about 3:30 a.m. on that March day.

The 150’ x 150’ recycling plant had a “large fire load. 5 alarm fire – strong winds from WNW. Engine 13 1st on scene. Large volume of fire showing from 1st floor west windows. Approx. 1⁄2 of 1st floor involved.”

The fire originated in the “structure area SW corner of interior.”

The heat source: “undetermined.” The item/object first ignited: “undetermined.”

The cause of ignition: “under investigation.”

The latter term, we have found out, means that the matter was referred to the Police Department, which is where we will have to apply next to find out what the cause was determined to be.

While Milwaukeeworld poked around in the ashes of Opportunites Palette, we found that the taxpayers have also been burned by the outfit – and not just for the expense of a fire crew risking their time and lives at an apparent arson.

According to city records, the property at 2803 N. 32nd St. is 12,000 sq. ft. and is valued at 50 cents per square foot for a total of $6,000. The building has been razed since the fire, and the property has not been rebuilt.

The owner of record for the property is Opportunities Pallet Recycline (sic) & Mfg Co, Inc.

The registered agent is Carl A. Gee, whose ownership type is “titleholder.” The preferred contact for the property is Miguel G. Roque.

According to city records, $210.45 in taxes – the full amount – remains due for 2004. No payments have been made this year.

As usual with OIC, more questions are raised than answered. Here’s one, for example: who got the insurance money?

Here are a couple more: is the Journal Sentinel correct in asserting that OIC no longer owns the palette company? If the daily paper is correct (never a given thing), then perhaps it could tell us who does own the palette company.

More Troubles for Holloway?

When Supervisor Tom Bailey retired from the County Board this spring, he made a most moving speech. I always felt there was more to his comments than one would imagine at first hearing.

During his address, he handled a faded, dried red rose. Bailey told the members of the board that he had received that rose upon the occasion of the retirement of Bernice Rose from the board. Ms. Rose was the first black woman supervisor, and Bailey spoke passionately about her character, integrity, and spiritual beauty.

I thought at the time that it was a particularly effective tribute, and I was touched that Bailey was the sort of sentimental fellow who would hold on to a dried flower.

Later, I reflected that his remarks could also be construed as a cautionary tale for the supervisors he was leaving behind.

Had the new leadership of the black community abandoned character and integrity? Was there any spiritual beauty in the self-dealing and self-enrichment of elected officials and their peers in private social service agencies?

I wanted to get deeper into that, so I called Bailey on Monday and asked him about the rose tribute at his final County Board meeting. My recollection of his speech was accurate, he said.

But when I asked Bailey if he is now in the process of representing some plaintiffs who are initiating legal action against Holloway, his response was, “I have nothing to say about that,” and politely terminated the conversation.

Gay Paper Debuts

QLife, a.k.a. “Queer Life”, with a print run of “10,000 – 15,000” copies, is making its debut appearance in Milwaukee, filling a void left since the suspension of publication of In Step earlier this year.
The monthly hopes to attract gay readers throughout the state, and its first issue, at 44 pages is attractively designed and printed.

The editor is Don Hoffman, former spokesperson for Milwaukee Public Schools who left his job a couple of years ago for reasons never explained. He then went into television with Bo Black and then tried to run a half-priced ticket agency at the Shops of Grand Avenue.

I count 19 contributors to the first issue, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who welcomes the publication to the city.

The publication will feature essays on topics as diverse as the audience it is attempting to reach, with various degrees of success. Thus, we find a nice calendar, a bit of news – Sura Faraj wrote a front-page article on the upcoming anti-gay marriage legislative insanity – along with stories on youth, health and religion, written, respectively by a youth, a doctor and a minister.

There is also an “Arts” “Gossip” column by Raymond Bradford who includes such nuggets as “A well-known K.K theater director is pumping iron and looking super.” [I have conducted a census of K.K. theater directors and come up with one, so I guess we’re talking about Mark Bucher.]

Also, “Did you happen to catch the talented Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’ at Shorewood Players?” [Uh, let’s see. Um – Tom Gale, that’s his name, right?]

According to Bradford’s modest biography, “For those of you who don’t know me, I am ‘Mr. Show-Biz.’ I have been called that since I was a child – and I have never really grown up! Call me Peter Pan because I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies.”

Well, there’s your sample, which you won’t find in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which never reported the death of In Step, or the plans for QLife, or the fact that QLife has made it on the streets. But then, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessors have only had one openly-gay writer throughout their entire histories, and you know what he’s doing these days!

Farewell to Jim Auer

Last Saturday as the revelry at the Milwaukeeworld headquarters was heating up for the Leo Feldman X Chrixtmas Craft Show, impresario Jimmy Von Milwaukee interrupted the proceedings to deliver a solemn announcement: James Auer, the kindly, gentle art critic of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had died.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Jim Auer,” von Milwaukee told me. Sure enough, what other Milwaukee writer or media figure would have paid attention to an alley-front occasional gallery that mocked, spoofed and ridiculed the art scene, and society at large?

Auer played up the Leo Feldman persona perfectly, accepting with deadpan sincerity the mysteriousness of Feldman, who was forever calling from Belgium, or God-knows-where to announce his next highly-important Milwaukee show of transvestite performance art.

As a result of his attention, Feldman was the absent, yet omnipresent host of several shows that will go down in counterculture and outsider art history in this city. The Holly Brown show is one example, and the Christmas Craft shows, like the one Saturday are others.

Auer was always gentle and kind in his descriptions of the art he would write about. Some wished he would have done more investigation of the art business, which often could be a nasty one, but he demurred from such investigative reporting.

Partly that was due to his uncanny ability to remain employed at the Journal Sentinel, not a place where waves are appreciated.

Judith Moriarity, an artist and writer who loves to stir things up said she asked Auer why he didn’t cover more controversial topics here.

Her answer, which he accepted, was that the paper gave him so little space to cover art topics that he would just as soon only write about things he liked.

I last encountered Jim Auer a couple of weeks ago. It was lunch time for me, but going-home time for him that day, and I walked him to his car, parked in the Bradley Center garage. He had just returned from a trip to New York where he had visited the new Museum of Modern Art, and we talked about the experience.

He said the rehanging of the Monet Water Lillies was, for him, transformative, and forced him to look at the canvases in an entirely different way.

I told him about the article I was about to have published in MKE about items in permanent collections in museums, and apologized for seemingly ripping off his similar series entitled “the object at hand.”

He laughingly dismissed any potential ill motive on my part – after all, the important thing, isn’t it, is to expose people to art so they can appreciate it themselves – was pretty much how he put it.

He then left for his vehicle, and that was my last encounter with a very fine man.

Something for Christmas Eve

This entertaining suggestion made it into the Milwaukeeworld mailbox, and it sounds like a good choice for those of us who do not plan to wander far from home during this subzero holiday season:

Hey Michael – Paul Wall from Trolley here. I just wanted to invite you to our Christmas show this weekend and let you know about a DVD that was made on the band and the Milwaukee pop underground called “Let’s Start a Revolution”, a film by Kristin E. Catalano. The premiere is at Point’s East Pub on Christmas night with Trolley, The Nice Outfit and Heathrow all playing sets of primo pop rock. Hope you can make it. Here’s all the info and have a merry holiday:

Christmas night – Trolley, Heathrow and the Nice Outfit – DVD Release Party – This Saturday!!!Happy Holidays, cyberfans – Easter Records invites you to the Milwaukee premiere of the new DVD short rockumentary, “Let’s Start a Revolution”, a film by Kristin E. Catalano, this Saturday, December 25th, Christmas night at Point’s East Pub www.pointseastpub.com 1501 N. Jackson St. at 10pm. The screening will be shown between performances by all your favorite Easter Records bands, The Nice Outfit, Heathrow and Trolley. DVDs and CDs by all the acts will also be available.Check out the On Milwaukee.com review of the DVD at http://www.onmilwaukee.com/music/articles/catalanodvd.html

Check out the revamped Easter site at www.easterrecords.net where you can purchase DVDs, CDs and t-shirts and sign up for the message board!

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