Michael Horne
The Roundup

Krug Scores Joint Finance Seat

By - Dec 4th, 2003 08:00 am

Rep. Shirley Krug was chosen Monday to take a seat on the influential Joint Committee on Finance, the powerful body that doles out the state’s money. Krug, a Milwaukee Democrat said “there was a chance that Milwaukee would have lost its seat on the committee,” and that she is delighted to have the position and the power that comes with the appointment. Her first legislative goal, she says, is to come up with more money for the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Planner Park Splits for Denver

City planner Peter Park, a favorite of mayor John O. Norquist and a darling of the New Urbanism movement is departing to take on a similar job in Denver, and will be gone before the end of the Norquist regime at the end of this month.

Norquist, whose talks take on more of the tone of reminiscence as the days of his mayoralty diminish, captured the essence of Park. “Peter Park likes to have us have good taste.” The brainy Park, who also taught at the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning, (SARUP) once “had a ‘studio’ – that’s a word for a class,” Norquist said, “They can’t use normal words; they have to use architecture words – he had a studio and came up with the idea to demolish the Park East Freeway and left it to me to come up with a political solution.” The freeway is now gone, as will be both Park and Norquist before long, but political issues still resonate around the demised freeway stub. At issue is the redevelopment of the corridor. “Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods,” a coalition of community groups, has called for a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) for the 26-acre corridor. Critics, including most mayoral candidates, say requirements for affordable housing, fees on commercial development to subsidize the affordable housing, prevailing wage requirements and a central city targeted job development program are unnecessarily burdensome. Candidates’ opinions on the CBA were first published in the Riverwest Currents, a monthly community newspaper. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel followed suit several weeks later on December 3rd when it posed the same question to the candidates, according to Currents editor Sonya Jongsma-Knauss, proud of her scoop.

School Board Member Hurt in Crash

Tom Balistreri, former Milwaukee teacher, principal and current member of the Milwaukee School Board was injured in an automobile wreck in southern Illinois over the Thanksgiving holiday. “I am lucky and thankful to be alive.” Balistreri was a passenger in an automobile driven by his octogenarian father-in-law, an Illinois farmer who remains in the hospital. The vehicle had properly stopped at a sign when it was hit by a young driver traveling at speeds that Balistreri estimated as “eighty miles an hour.” Balistreri was wearing his seat belt, which broke a rib. The air bag did not inflate, he said. He is doing fine and is walking without any apparent discomfort. You can reach him at thomasbalistreri@yahoo.com

Challenge for Marlene

Sixth District Alderman Marlene Odom-Johnson, who’s kinda changed her mind about running for reelection (her elegantly tailored hat is in the ring) is facing a couple of challengers for her redistricted seat. Among her foes, should they all return nomination papers by the January 6th deadline, is energetic letter writer George Sanders, who has always had a lot of opinions about all kinds of stuff. Commenting on the district’s proximity to other cities (a whiff of Glendale and a touch of Shorewood) and other taxing districts, Sanders says “we need to talk about regional issues – we all abut each other. We’ve got to move out of our malaise. We have small thinking in Milwaukee.” Sanders’ e-mail address is scinobe@sbcglobal.net. Scinobe? “That’s ebonics backwards,” Sanders says.

The Juneteenth Uprising

By George, it was just minutes after he took the oath of office that Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-6th) told an admiring crowd about his expectations for himself in his new position as state senator. “I will be the best doggone state senator that ever was,” he announced to several hundred well-wishers who saw him being sworn in by Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager at UWM on November 26th. The recall process “made people rethink what they want in a black elected official,” namely they did not want George and his numerous conflicts of interest, loyalty, fiduciary responsibility, oath of office – conflicts with everything save himself and his conscience, which is so untroubled as to perhaps not exist. Jerrel Jones, the publisher who started the recall said that with the inauguration of Coggs, things had turned out pretty much as he had expected.

What made Coggs choose to take on the once-powerful (and now indicted) George? “The last straw was on Juneteenth day when Gary George voted with the republicans in a bad budget that betrayed black people on a black people holiday,” the new senator said.

A UWM catered reception accompanied the event that drew such luminaries as Assemblyman Dr. Sheldon Wasserman (D-22) (who will host a fund raiser for himself at his home, 3487 N. Lake Drive on December 9th,) Judge (Mr.) J. DiMotto, from the household with his-and-hers robes, and fellow Jurist Jeffrey A. Wagner, David Riemer (making the rounds,) Ald. Marlene Odom-Johnson, Ald. Fred Gordon, Vel Phillips, Register of Deeds John LaFave, Rep. Leon Young (D-16th), Sen. Gwendolynne Moore (D-4th), Martha Love, Marty Schreiber and mayoral candidates Tom Barrett and Ald. Marvin Pratt. Barrett said, “I am ecstatic that Spencer is my state senator now. Yes, I live in his district.” Joan Kessler was there adorned with the omnipresent button that identifies her as a candidate for Judge. Barbara Toles handed out literature for her candidacy to replace Coggs in the assembly’s 17th district. The MATC Community Outreach Coordinator has spent her career in education, “but I decided to think big and run for the assembly,” she said.

No Respect

“If you want something you have to fight for it, not get breaks from the media or support of the establishment.” – Vince Bobot to an audience of 50 at a fundraiser at Conejito’s Place, December 1, 2003

Who’s the front runner in the Mayoral election? Barrett? Clarke? “I plan to eliminate both of them on the primary ballot,” says Vince Bobot, optimistic candidate that he is. The problem is nobody thus far has paid his campaign the attention that he thinks it deserves. And he’s tried everything, from boycotting a mayoral forum that excluded him, to sleeping under a bridge with the homeless, to producing a shocking video documenting the existence of rats along the river in Downtown Milwaukee! And still people ignore the guy. What gives?

Maybe things will change soon now that the results are in from a Milwaukee Press Club straw poll of the candidates that shows the following returns:

Bobot  63 Barrett  50 Clarke  24 Pratt  21
Pitta  20 Follaron  18 Nardelli  15 Cumberbatch  5
Todd  4 Mattson  4 Jones  1

Although one could contend the results are hardly a scientific sample – and may indeed be internally flawed (could you imagine anybody voting for Jones?) – it does show that Bobot’s centrist message is finding its appeal among likely voters. Folks like union leader John Budzinski, County Clerk Mark Ryan and attorney Ron Pleva all say they consider Bobot to be a stronger candidate than his media coverage indicates.

Bobot’s Biggest Booster

Bobot does have a very active cheerleader and backer in Martin Schreiber who wowed the Conejito’s audience with an old-school rallying speech, his first, he said, since 1988 when he ran for mayor against John Norquist.

Since his loss Schreiber settled into a very low-key grey role as one of the chief lobbyists in the city and state, quietly working behind the scenes for his clients. He showed the audience that his political instincts are still intact.

“I knew Vince since the 1988 campaign,” Schreiber said, mentioning that many in the room had worked on his campaign then. Switching to 2003, he said, “what about the front runner?” (Presumably the unnamed Barrett.) “Street talk says he doesn’t have the hunger for the job.”

“Milwaukee is the only city in the world where the police chief and sheriff are running for mayor. Well, crime is up and their budgets are out of whack, so that leaves Vince.”

At this point Schreiber led the crowd in cheering “Vince! Vince! Vince!”

Schreiber continued, “of all the things we haven’t done – we haven’t peaked. We’re going to peak on February 17th and we’re going to peak in April!”

(“Vince! Vince! Vince!”)

Bobot took the stand, fortified after several servings of Conejito’s food which he ate in more than one sitting joining various guests in the room. “I look back on life and ask where did my quest for mayor begin, and it was the Schreiber campaign. I was going to work for Greg Gracz, [1992] but I was going to law school then.”

“Let’s talk about Vince Bobot. I was the lead judge on municipal court with a salary not much less than the mayor. Why should I leave a good job with three years left on my term?” he said. At this point he made the remarks quoted at the beginning of this item. “I don’t have to worry about peaking – I have to worry about getting there!”

Attendees included Judge Vince Martens, Judge wannabe Joan Kessler – who collected 150 signatures on her nominating petition that evening, former Judge Michael Skwierawski and his daughter Audrey Skwierawski who ran for her father’s seat last year, but is taking a break from candidacy to continue her work for the District Attorney prosecuting sex offender cases. She says her time is eaten up dealing with the offenders who are being released in the community, much to the dismay of those non-sex offenders who live in the community. She says the state is jailing way too many people, in her opinion. “I want to make sure there is room for my pedophiles in prison. I don’t think it should be filling up with casual marijuana offenders.”

Also at Conejito’s: Hon. David Halbrooks, who says his years in the city attorney’s office have been a boon to him as a municipal judge. He knows the law so well that “I don’t have to flip through a bunch of laws,” since he was there when much of the stuff was written. Ald. Bob Donovan was there as was former Alderman Jim Witkowiak. Dan Cortez, a candidate for County Supervisor, also made an appearance.

Mom’s Opinion

Bobot’s mother Virginia Bobot was there, and had a few words about her son. “My son was always smart, and always wanted to be one of the big people in town. He went to Don Bosco high school – that cost $400 a year, which was too expensive for us, so he had to go to public school after a year, graduating from Pulaski High School. His dad was a police officer, so that’s where Vince probably got the idea to go on the police force. His father was ill at the end, and paralyzed for eight years, and I cared for him. Vince would take care of him and give me a chance to rest. ‘Mom! You have to go out,’ he told me. So I started going on gambling outings. I play cards, only. I don’t play the machines. The odds are not very good, you know.” She has lived for 43 years in the same house on Kentucky Ave. where Bobot grew up. 

The Man With A Purple Heart or About that Time I Got Shot

Bobot’s resume includes a Purple Heart for being shot while on duty as a City of Milwaukee police officer. Where is the guy who shot him today? “I don’t know,” Bobot said, in a tone that indicated he didn’t care. “He went to prison. He wrote me a letter of apology about five years after the event,” he added, in a tone that indicated “thanks, but no thanks.”

Attention Journal Shareholders

Journal Communications, Inc. announced a $.065 per share dividend, payable December 5th to holders of its newly-traded stock, which has not set the world on fire. Meanwhile the company has appointed Don H. Davis, Jr., retiring CEO and continuing chairman of Rockwell International to its board. Rockwell’s stock has been flying lately, and the company has always made money, even during the rough years of the recession. Davis also serves on the boards of Illinois Tool Works and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and is a regent of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. The company’s board had earlier included Ulice Payne who resigned after a brief term to concentrate his attention on the affairs of the Milwaukee Brewers, and look what that got him.

Lame Duck Mayor Boosts Greenstreet For Chancellor’s Chair

On November 14th, before his candidacy became official, UWM Interim Chancellor Bob Greenstreet received a hearty endorsement from Mayor John O. Norquist.

“He is the interim chancellor, and those of us who know him would like to see the ‘interim’ come off his title,” Norquist told the crowd assembled at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning SARUP) for the eighth annual Mayor’s Design Awards. For Greenstreet, it was his first trip back to the building where he had served as dean of the SARUP since his appointment as Interim Chancellor following the resignation of Nancy Zimpher, who now heads the University of Cincinnati. Greenstreet is also a Norquist appointee on the City of Milwaukee Plan Commission. …

Big Prize from SARUP

Greenstreet said he will soon make an announcement that a donor has arranged for a major annual architecture award and gift to be issued by the University each year in honor of a “young architect at the beginning of his or her career,” Greenstreet says. “Somebody like Calatrava,” he added. An announcement is pending for December, Greenstreet said.

Design Awards a Curious Perk

The Mayor’s Design Awards are a curious perk of the City’s chief executive’s office, and it is Norquist who created them. “How the awards are granted is a mystery, even to me,” Norquist said. “Anyone can nominate but only the mayor can award the prize,” he told the audience at his annual design awards. Spotting a beaming face in the crowd, the only mayoral candidate in the room, he turned to Sandy Follaron and said, “maybe it will be your turn next year, Sandy.” Follaron came by to watch her friend and neighbor Dan Schley who won an award for his Vliet Street business, Appraisals by Schley. He wore a giant Follaron for Mayor button, an outlandish fashion statement that even the ever-grinning candidate herself eschewed. She joined the west siders in uttering a hearty cheer when Schley’s name was announced by Norquist.

Norquist on Design

The incoming president of the Congress for New Urbanism offered one-liner architectural, political, social, and media criticism in his offhand comments during the presentation of his design awards.

On beautiful warehouses: “V. Marchese produce company went out of its way to make its new Walkers Point warehouse beautiful.” The industrial building has a brightly accented façade.

The National Liquor Bar sign: “One of the most interesting and beautiful signs in the city.”

Starbucks: “Once in a while a multinational company has to win something. Starbucks tends to create good urban design wherever it goes. There isn’t a bad one in Milwaukee.”

On South 27th Street: “The Chipotle Mexican Grill is trying to mend S. 27th Street. Eventually it will be one of the most beautiful shopping streets in Milwaukee. If you have a commercial street in your neighborhood that isn’t quaint like Brady Street, you can change it. It doesn’t have to be a strip mall.” (Chipotle was built on the foundation of a former strip mall.)

Midtown Center (formerly Capitol Court): “A sick and dying mall died. It includes a Wal-Mart with a street address – 56th and Hope. It will be like a village Main Street.”

On Miss Concrete and Miss Asphalt in a 1950’s photograph of the dedication of Wisconsin’s first interstate highway: “It reminds us that the lakefrount would have had a 6 lane freeway where the Calatrava now is. If they had built it, it would have been a disaster. Milwaukee is blessed by having citizens who stood up to excessive highways.”

On Highway Expansion: “Widening roads to solve congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.”

On Whitney Gould and her non-appearance: “I wish Whitney Gould had been here to see all the modern architecture we are honoring – of course, Modern is a historical form.” (What Norquist is getting at here is that Whitney always accuses the city of being too safe” and too derivative in its architecture.)

Granny Honold’s Precious Bundle

State Democratic Party Chair Linda Honold and her husband Reynolds Honold have a grandchild, Alexandra Kaye Honold, born a couple of weeks ago to their daughter Samantha. Mother and child are doing well in their apartment above Brewed Awakenings on Brady Street, mere steps away from the senior Honolds’ place in the Diamond Tower condominium. Grandpa passes a Walgreens and an Osco on the way to sit with the little one, so there will never be an excuse for him to show up without diapers.

On the Spot: With David Riemer

When a short guy hands out cards that say “Time to think big,” the least you can do is ask him a question. So what does County Executive candidate David Riemer have to say about Susan C. Black, plucked from state government by Scott Walker as his choice for Milwaukee County Parks chief? For a brainiac, Riemer sure talks like a politician in attack mode. “Black’s problem will be with her boss. Walker’s budget is not balanced. It is based on two million dollars that is expected in state revenue that is not there.” Black heads to court February 4th in Rock County where Judge James P. Daley will hear the charge that she operated a boat while intoxicated and refused a breath test at the time last September. Each charge carries a $429 forfeiture. Black apparently likes to live dangerously – in March 1999, she pled no contest in Iron County to a charge of failing to wear her seat belt, and paid a $10 fine. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has endorsed Walker’s selection of Black. In a November 14th editorial the paper called her “awfully impressive,” perhaps not the most felicitous use of words, but thanks anyway.

Assembly Democrats in Town

The Pieces of Eight restaurant on Milwaukee’s lakefront was the site of a fundraiser for the Assembly Democrats on Tuesday Deccember 3. Dignitaries including Representatives Josh Zepnick, (D-9th) Shirley Krug (D-12th), Pedro Colón (D-8th), Leon D. Young, (D-16th), Sheldon A. Wasserman (D-22), and Jon Richards (D-19th), enjoyed the view and the chow.

The beverages included Harp, Guinness, Miller products and a couple of offerings from the New Glarus brewery, a more diverse (and discerning) beer selection than the Republicans would ever offer at a similar event.

Krug, joined by her County Supervisor brother Robert Krug said that she is backing Barrett for mayor and Riemer for county executive. “I maxed out my contribution to Riemer on the first day he announced his candidacy, as any thinking Democrat would do,” she crowed, “and I am now trying to urge my colleagues to do the same.” Krug worked with County Executive Scott Walker when he served in the assembly, so maybe there is something personal in her support of his rival. Oh, no it’s nothing personal. With Shirley Krug, it’s always politics.

Barrett’s Appearance

Tom Barrett made his appearance at the Assembly Democrats fundraiser, perhaps unnecessarily and seemingly more as a member of the chamber than as a candidate for mayor. Maybe 75 or so of the 100 people there were city residents, and as political insiders they’ve probably already chosen their candidate. (Of course, maybe they haven’t contributed to their candidate yet.) You’d think there would be other places for Barrett to be; there certainly were for his opponents, none of whom were at the event.

Department of Neighborhood Vigilantism or An Alderman’s Work is Never Done

-The following is from an e-mail sent to neighborhood residents by Alderman Michael S. D’Amato responding to frequent complaints of pet owners shirking their fecal collection responsibilities. The ticketing for unlicensed pets is an interesting enforcement angle.

I have an assurance from the Commissioner of the Department of Neighborhood Services that he will send an inspector to do “doggy knock and talks” with offenders if we have their addresses. While they won’t be ticketed for dog littering, they can be cited for not having a dog license.

We need to spread the word for people to send us the addresses of the offenders so that I can direct city staff to pursue. Please send this to all the “eyes and ears” in the neighborhood.


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