Michael Horne
The Roundup

Bobot Calls for Term Limit

By - Dec 22nd, 2003 08:00 am
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Vince Bobot plans to request a change in the City Charter to limit the term of Milwaukee Mayor to two consecutive terms, he said Sunday evening in an interview at his headquarters. The proposed change requires approval by the legislature and the governor’s signature.

Captain in at Fifth, Out at Third

Police Chief Nanette Hegerty encountered her first controversy in her new job when she removed Captain Glenn Frankovis from his command of the Third District. Frankovis called criminals in his districts “thugs,” which, apparently is not a proper way for a cop to talk nowadays. In a roll call message to his staff, Frankovis pledged to make “thugs’” lives “even more miserable than before,” after the Monday transfer of Officer Michael Lutz from the 3rd district to a downtown position. Ald. Fred Gordon called the anti-thug lingo “inflammatory and incendiary,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Saturday.

A review of Frankovis’ comments in the newspaper since his November 2001 appointment to the 3rd district position as part of a 300 officer shakeup by then-Chief Arthur Jones shows that Frankovis has always been a provocative speaker, and that his reference to criminals as thugs was hardly out of character. He even has compared the tough 3rd district to Afghanistan. “We will be identifying who’s causing the problem, and we will locate them, and if they’re violating the law, they will go to jail. … If you think about it, what we will be doing is not unlike what’s going on in Afghanistan right now.”

In the same interview, Frankovis said, “I want criminals to be afraid to walk down the street.” These comments do not seem out of place for a police officer, but you never know what can get you fired these days.

Frankovis, 55, has been a police officer since 1975. He made sergeant in 1981, lieutenant in 1997, and was appointed a captain of police in February 2001. The Milwaukee native is a graduate of Riverside High School, UWM, and the FBI academy, and a student of history, especially of the era when cops talked like cops.

Prior to his appointment to head the 3rd District, he was at the helm of the 5th District. As a result of the Jones era shakeup, the largest in the department’s history, Frankovis was replaced by Captain Vince Flores, who ran the 5th district until a little over two weeks ago. Flores was transferred from that position to head “S.O.B. Vice Control,” in a move unheralded in the press.

Flores was replaced by James C. Shepherd as captain of the 8.82 square mile 5th district, with a population of 97,000. His appointment received no media notice. Shepherd introduced himself to members of the Brady Street Area Association at their annual holiday meeting December 16th at Villa Terrace.

Frankovis’ outspokenness may have cost him his position, and we may be heading to an era where police captains will think twice before uttering anti-crime sentiments to their subordinates, even in an attempt to rally them or to boost their morale. If the strictures against speech such as Frankovis’ were applied to other levels of the government, we’d have George W. Bush referring to Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida as “the distinguished gentleman from Afghanistan and his honorable associates.”

Frankovis, in the December 24, 2001 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was compared to Teddy Roosevelt, a historical figure he has studied alongside such others as President Dwight Eisenhower and General George Patton. His response? “I don’t know that I speak all that softly – and I’m a cop.”

In other police department news, Sergeant Kenneth Harris now runs the Public Information Office at the police department, where his job is to field calls from the media. He has been in office two weeks. “I was tagged, and now I’m it,” he says.

Bids Top Estimate: Marsupial Bridge Hung Up For Now

The twice-delayed bid opening for the proposed Holton Marsupial Bridge was held Thursday, December 18 at the Zeidler Municipal Building. The good news: Zenith Tech, Inc. was the low bidder. The bad news: its bid of $3,065,953 was considerably above the estimate of $2,314,252 for the project. Tom Miller of the city’s Public Works Department was asked by milwaukeeworld about the future of the span, a pedestrian crossing planned to be suspended beneath the 1926-era Holton Viaduct. “We don’t know for sure yet,” he said. “First, we have to figure out why they’re so high. Then, I guess it’s back to the drawing board – we may have to redesign a less expensive bridge.”

The plans for the bridge, drawn by La Dallman Architects, do call for certain aesthetic enhancements, including a plaza under the east end of the viaduct, along with special lighting, limestone edging and decorative railings. That last item was reckoned at $375,000. For the most part, though, the bridge is a rather straightforward one, much like its host structure, a muscular remnant of socialist over-engineering. It calls for a connection to the riverwalk on the west side of the river at Lakefront Brewery, and a terminus at the site of the old Beerline “B,” historically the rail artery of Milwaukee’s brewing industry, now a bike path. The project is to be funded with Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) federal funds. Zenith, a Waukesha company, was one of three bidders for the project. The others were Lunda Construction Co., which bid $3,332,000 and Edward Kraemer & Sons, Inc., which bid a whopping $37,804,292. The Kraemer over-bid can possibly be traced to an ambiguity in the bid document, which called for, in item 8, “5830 incentive strength concrete structures,” to be bid as a “dollar unit.” Kraemer entered $5,830 as its bid, whereas its competitors, either rightly or wrongly entered $1. The city’s computer then multiplied $5,830 by $5,830 in the Kraemer bid to come up for a sum of $33,988,900 for that particular item, whereas its competitors’ bid was $5,830 for the item. These things happen in construction estimating.

Lakefront Brewery owner Russ Klisch, informed of the bid results said, “let’s hope Norquist can pull this one out of his hat. But it looks like it might be a bit late for that.”

Miller, of the Public Works Department, said he had yet to analyze the bid in detail, but did admit that the future of the project “may be somewhat in jeopardy.”

Farewell to Park

It’s easy to see why city planning director Peter Park is heading to Denver. It has something to do with the way they name neighborhoods in the Mile-High City. “they name neighborhoods in Denver according to the parks in the area,” says Park, who must like the nomenclature conceit. “I have bought a house in South Park Hill,” he said, and will join our other friends in South Park.

So how did his call to Denver come about? “I got a call in the summer from Will Fleissig, whom I knew from the Congress for New Urbanism,” the outfit that will soon be headed by departing mayor John Norquist. (Fleissig is an architect/developer in Denver, and was the planning director for nearby Boulder.) “I wasn’t thinking of moving – I was thinking of staying in Milwaukee – I wasn’t looking, but I went out there.” Park was called back “on a perfect autumn day,” as he recalls, and met with about 20 of the city’s developers, planners and public officials. “I was very impressed with Mayor Hickenlooper,” he says. Denver differs in many ways from Milwaukee – it is still very much a developing city, and is much more “western” than here, where vestiges of our east coast ancestry still retain considerable influence.

Denver is constructing a light rail system (apparently the city lacks AM talk radio) and has some large redevelopment projects to contemplate, including 50 acres at a former Gates rubber plant. (Pardon the error – Milwaukee contemplates redevelopment projects and light rail. Denver, apparently, completes them.) Park says the upcoming change in administration in Milwaukee’s mayor’s office was not a reason for his move, so apparently he lives in a political vacuum, unlike anybody else at the Department of City Development (a.k.a. the “Mayor’s Cookie Jar.”) To sweeten the deal, Park has also been appointed to a professorship at the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs, similar to the position he held at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

A farewell party was held for Park from 2 – 4 p.m. on Friday, December 19 in room 101 of City Hall. Commissioner Julie Penman was there, chatting up developer Barry Mandel, who says he’s sitting out the mayor’s race until after the primary. Boris Gokhman also made an appearance.

Scene on the Street

Political candidates don’t want to talk issues these days – they just want to circulate nomination papers in order to get on the ballot by the January 6th deadline. Some early birds have already turned in their papers including Ruth Varnado (1st district), James C. Wenzler (4th), Jim Bohl (5th), Michael McGee (6th) and Kevin Butler (7th). … Alderman Michael S. D’Amato says he’s aiming for 1,000 signatures, although he can turn in only between 300 and 450 of them. (It’s nice to have a cushion in case certain signatures are disallowed. Just ask Gary George.) D’Amato carries a clipboard with him wherever he goes. Jim Witkowiak, who hopes to regain his seat from Angel Sanchez (12th), said at Stub’s Pub Wednesday that he had sufficient signatures. … Mayoral candidate Sandy Follaron met with an adviser at Brewed Awakenings on Thursday, December 11th, and was spotted on Thursday, December 18th walking past Mike Murphy’s Swinging Door tavern, then in the throes of its holiday party. Follaron, accompanied by campagn director Molly Christofferson, was able to score a couple of signatures at the event, despite it being really crowded. Local businessman Simie Fein gladly signed her papers. “I would love a drink right about now,” she said. (She did without. Alas! In the world of new politics, campaigning and drinking do not mix.) … Over at City Hall, colorful lines of tape direct citizens to the appropriate stations for the annual “payment of the tax,” a ritual in which citizens, for whatever primordial reason, insist on paying their taxes in person. The rush of good citizens going about city business provides a handy target for signature-gathering candidates and their agents. Large signs in the city lobby enjoin any “solicitation” north of the rotunda’s Christmas tree. Seen in the lobby on Friday afternoon, December 19th were solicitors for City Attorney Grant Langley and for Mayoral Candidate Arthur Jones.

Primary News

Wisconsin’s primary election system is 100 years old in 2004, and is the first in the country. So when you read a headline in the New York Times that says “Washington State Decides to Cancel Presidential Primary,” (the seventh state to do so), your first thought is, “why, that can’t happen here!” In fact it can. According to Michael J. Keane of the Legislative Reference Bureau, “There is no constitutional requirement that Wisconsin hold a presidential primary instead of caucuses.” But our February 17th date with destiny is still on the calendar, he says. “Changing to caucuses would require the legislature to pass a law providing for a caucus system instead. Since the legislature is not scheduled to meet again until January 20, there would have to be a special or extraordinary session called in order to make that change in a timely fashion.”

Those North Shore Snobs Get on my Nerves

I know it’s not good sport to go after your own kind, but those North Shore snobs sure get on my nerves. Case in point: the North Shore Library, a creature of Glendale, Bayside, Fox Point and River Hills. These communities are not known for generating vast quantities of literature, but you’d figure when a local book appears, the library might try to get its hands on a copy. Glendale (the most modest of the four communities) did all right – its 50th history volume is in the library. But what about “American Furniture at Chipstone”? The lavishly illustrated book about the Fox Point collection of 18th century furniture and decorative arts is not in the library’s collection, nor is “American Furniture,” Chipstone’s periodical publication. How about H. Russell Zimmerman’s recently published history of the Village of River Hills? – it isn’t in the library’s collection either, and Stacy Terris, who headed the publication, seems not to have followed through on his promise, some months ago, to get a copy of the $50 book into the stacks, where perhaps someday it could inspire a poor boy from Mohawk Lane in Glendale to succeed and find himself on the other side of the tracks – er, freeway – in Milwaukee’s most exclusive community. So here’s the deal, North Shore literati – when you publish a book about how wealthy your community is, or devote another glossy magazine to your magnificent $300,000,000 furniture collection, do the public a favor and give one teeny little copy to your local library.

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