Michael Horne
The Roundup

Clark Picks Up Two State Endorsements

By - Feb 2nd, 2004 08:00 am
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Two of Wisconsin’s elder statespeople jumped on the Wesley Clark for President bandwagon recently. Former alderman, secretary of state and attorney Vel Phillips, who most recently issued the oath of office to Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt says she backs the Arkansas general for president. With her support, she joins such black leaders as Charles Rangel and Andrew Young. Phillips was at a fundraiser for Clark Tuesday, January 27th at the home of Julilly W. Kohler. Phillips said she had just got off the phone with Henry Aaron who has offered to send her airplane tickets and to put her up in Atlanta February 6th for his birthday party. “Oh, I’m not sure I’m going to go,” said Vel, to the dismay of partygoers who could not imagine turning down any invitation from Henry Aaron, with or without free air travel and lodging. She still hadn’t decided by Sunday. Vel Phillips faces many decisions. When she left the Common Council, she bought the old roll-top desk aldermen once used until the present gems were installed. The desk will probably go to the Historical Society of Wisconsin. Why not the city-owned Milwaukee Public Library? “Well, the historical society already has a full-size statue of me,” Phillips said. Good enough reason.

The attendees, including Frank Gimbel (who has a huge Clark sign posted in his east side yard), Mort and Dani Gendelman, Curry First, Dennis Conta and about 40 others filled the Kohler residence to talk up their man and to dine on way too much food provided from such disparate sources as Sam’s Club and Watermark restaurant.

A special guest of honor was to have been former Senator Gaylord Nelson, ranked fourth on a list of the most important Wisconsinites in history. He’s the only one of the top five who is still alive. Alas! Nelson hadn’t even made it as far as the end of the driveway of his Kensington, Maryland home in days, so he called in his visit by speakerphone. Heavy snowfall complicated by quaint Maryland snow removal traditions kept him home, Nelson said. He endorses Clark for president, the Earth Day founder told the attendees in Milwaukee. Nelson speaks very slowly these days. The delivery, although halting, does nothing to mute the intellectual vigor and wit of Nelson. Regarding his choice of the military man for president, the anti-Vietnam War ex-Senator said, “People were wondering how could Gaylord Nelson support a general for president?” (Pause.) “Well, George Washington was a general.” (Pause.) “And he was a pretty good president.” (Laughter.) Apparently, Nelson held republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower in high regard. He noted that General Ike warned us about the military-industrial complex. “This is a fascinating race,” Nelson said, (Pause.) But there is a long way to go.”

The State of Wisconsin constitution, as amended, does not give the Lieutenant Governor much to do. This suited Scott McCallum fine, but Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is a restless sort and has been an early supporter and campaign groupie of Wesley Clark. She called the Kohler house from New Hampshire as the votes were counted for her candidate, who came in third in the Granite State. She was asked why voters should support Clark. “Why support Wesley Clark? He is an international, fiercely determined leader who addresses issues at home. He will always speak the truth and build the Democratic Party. He is ready to go toe-to-toe against Bush on every single issue. He is unencumbered with burdens.”

Clark Bar
The Clark for President headquarters at 606 W. Wisconsin Avenue is a rather busy place, and stays open well into the night, generating presidential enthusiasm and getting out the vote. According to Joe Zepecki of the campaign, the staff likes to unwind in Fitzgerald’s bar right across the street in the lobby of the Holiday Inn downtown.

Matt Flynn to Vie for Kleczka Seat

Add Milwaukee attorney Matt Flynn to the list of candidates for the Jerry Kleczka congressional seat. The Quarles and Brady lawyer said he would run in what is sure to be a crowded primary. The first thing he did Sunday, when the Kleczka news hit the papers, Flynn said, was to call his many friends and supporters to launch his trial balloon. Friends and supporters said, “go ahead.” Flynn said Friday “there is a high likelihood that I will run for the seat. I will decide shortly.” The first step would be to file a declaration of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. If he collected sufficient signatures, which he expects, and decides for sure to get on the ballot, he would then go on leave from the silk blooded, bluestocking – (er, silk stocking, blue-blooded) law firm.

If he makes it through the primary, it’s very clear whom Flynn considers his opponent: George W. Bush. Bush is the most reactionary, right wing president this country has ever had, according to Flynn, listing a litany of complaints. “He and his administration have systematically shifted the wealth of this country from common people and put it in the hands of their friends and business colleagues.”

Flynn is co-chair (along with George Twig) of the John Kerry for President campaign in the state of Wisconsin, and the two held an election night party at Derry Hegarty’s tavern. According to Twigg, other attendees at the event included Flynn’s wife Mary Flynn, Chris Abele, Rick Gale, president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin [the event’s sponsor], Sara Rogers of the AFL-CIO, Atty. Frank Pasternak, and Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt. According to milwaukeeworld.com’s research, Pratt has supported Kerry for some time. On June13th 2003, Pratt, then President of the Common Council, made a $250 donation to the nascent Kerry campaign. On June 20th and 23rd 2003, Pratt made two $200 donations to the national Democratic Party, for a total of $400. Pratt is apparently the only candidate for mayor to make donations to a national campaign, although this information could change after Tuesday, February 3rd, when the new campaign filings should be ready for inspection. (Don’t forget, local candidates, your campaign finance reports are due at City Hall no later than 5 p.m. Monday! We’ll be watching if you try to sneak in late!)

Gallery Moves

DeLind Fine Arts, a milwaukeeworld sponsor, is moving from its Jefferson and Wells location to Milwaukee Street, where it would be the third one on the strip (for now). Bill DeLind has been scouring the neighborhood for a place to move after landlord Joel Lee promised a big increase in rent for the former Skylight Theater space. Fifteen thousand dollars a month is the number, a bit rich for DeLind’s taste. It is also the rent for much new, quality real estate downtown, where he feels he would have to remain. Fortunately, some less expensive and choice space has recently become available in the Monroe Building, the lovely renovated space that houses the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (a.k.a. the “Chamber of Commerce,”) along with the offices of Evan Zeppos. DeLind’s gallery will occupy the ground floor corner of the building on the northeast corner of N. Milwaukee and E. Mason Streets, formerly home to Interplan, an office furniture store. One thing won’t change: Joel Lee will continue to be DeLind’s landlord.

“Watch for a huge moving sale in March,” says DeLind, “I’ve accumulated many things over the years. “Why move? It seems that in the 10 years I’ve been here, the space I occupy has become very valuable. So with the prospects of a huge rent increase, I have been looking for about six months.”

Who moves into the old DeLind Gallery? “Although there is no lease yet, the next occupant of this space will be selling noodles and salad. … I’m not kidding.” … DeLind held a fundraiser for Joan Kessler at his gallery January 20th and another for Sen. Mary Lazich Thursday, January 29th, when it was so very, very cold. The guests listened to a home-schooled brother-sister string duet as they sipped wines and ate shrimp and other delicacies.

Barrett v. United Water

Tom Barrett has issued several position papers in his low-key campaign for the mayor’s office. One of them called for a thorough review of the contract between Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and United Water, the firm that has a ten-year contract to operate the sewerage district. Why review the contract now? And what can be done about it anyway? According to Barrett campaign advisor Pat Curley, “what Tom wants is a complete review of the contract as well as an honest determination of where we are going.” [This would include the participation of an independent third party in the review.]

“If modification s can’t be made through renegotiation, then everything has to be on the table, including revocation – although that too would obviously have to be negotiated given potential buy-out and employee impacts. The bottom line is, we can’t go into the next five years the same way we went through the first five.”

Curley said the Legislative Audit Bureau “employed its crystal ball when in an April, 1997 report it stated, ‘…contracting extensively for operations may pose some risks unless the district enhances its oversight of contractor performance,” a goal Curley seems to feel has been ignored. “The June 2003 United Water Performance Evaluation Report … mentions the May, 2003 incident in which 18 million gallons of partially treated waste was released.” According to the report, “the United Water operator who made the diversion did so without supervisor approval. … The diversion practice was not in keeping with United Water’s standard operating procedures.” Barrett would see to it that United Water would be fined in such instances. And what if United Water behaves? The United Water Evaluation Report “called for incentive payments – something that we would be hard pressed to support.”

You Can Fight City Hall: Water Street homeowner to get tax refund

If you’re reading this any time after Monday, February 2nd, you should know how the city’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee, headed by Ald. Michael S. D’Amato, voted on file 031355, a necessary step in the quest of Mike Mervis to receive a refund of $1,187.87 on the property taxes he paid for the year 2002 on his home at 1693 N. Water St. Mervis had appealed his assessment to the City Assessor’s office and won a reduction of $43,600 on the value of the riverfront single family dwelling that he bought 20 years ago for $80,000, converted to a residence and extensively remodeled. The three-story property has some 4,163 sq. ft. of living area, three and one half baths, two bedrooms, an attached garage and all sorts of cool stuff like an elevator. Mervis, former president of the Brady Street association, had long railed about his taxes, and actually went through the laborious set of hearings necessary to prove his case, which he apparently did. The 2002 figures are not available, but the 2003 assessment for the property shows the 10,800 square foot lot valued at $65,800, with improvements of $430,700 attached, for a total value of $496,500.The 2003 taxes, paid in full, amount to $12,993.40. With interest, the city’s “Remission of Taxes Fund” will stroke out a $1,250.31 refund with the approval of the full council.

The Mervis homestead, landscaped by Stano, and known as “Honeymead Warehouse,” has been the site of many neighborhood and political events. Also on Monday, it will be the site of a fundraiser for Judge Charles Schudson. A suggested donation of $50 is payable to the “Friends of Judge Schudson.” Joan Kessler opposes Schudson for the Court of Appeals seat he currently holds.

County Executive Spin-sters at It

One side says David Riemer might even outpoll incumbent Scott Walker in the primary for County Executive. “Nonsense!” says the other side. “Nobody has ever heard of Riemer.”

Curiously enough, Walker supporters make the first claim. The second is from Bill Christofferson, the Riemer political savant who has decidedly played up his candidate’s obscurity. His reasoning, never very clear until the day after an election when it often becomes crystalline in hindsight, remains obscure to non-Machiavellians in this instance. The Riemer campaign, operating out of the Chalet on the River building basement, (823 N. 2nd St., lower level) still has a small stack of “the Tabloid,” as they call it. The Tabloid is a four-page newspaper produced by the campaign and, over the course of the week, blanketed throughout the county. There is an average of three photographs of Riemer on each page. (A taller candidate might not have fit so many times in such small space.) Riemer accuses Walker of using “phony numbers” in his budget. On Friday January 30th, Riemer was in a back room of the subterranean campaign office, stuck on the telephone, calling supporters. Managing the money-raising telephony, and sitting directly across the desk from Riemer was Michal Dawson, long-time behind-the-scene-er in the Norquist administration, now retired. Riemer will have a fundraiser Tuesday, February 4th at the Astor Hotel, 924 E. Juneau at 5 p.m. All contributions are gratefully accepted. The Tom Barrett fundraiser at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, scheduled from 5 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, what fun! … Walker has no interest in becoming the Republican candidate for Congress against Jerry Kleczka. According to Jim Villa of the Walker campaign, “County Executive Scott Walker has no interest in running for the congressional seat vacated by Jerry Kleczka, even if he did live in it, which he doesn’t. His focus is on his re-election campaign and building a stronger, healthier Milwaukee County.”

More Interesting News

The Scholastic Art Awards Wisconsin Regional Exhibition opened Saturday January 31st in the Cudahy and Pieper galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is the 28th exhibition of the awards for 7-12th graders hosted by the Milwaukee Art Museum. The juried show features some excellent work by students from across the state. Pius XI High School must have an excellent art curriculum, judging from the sheer number of winners from that Milwaukee school. Most works from Pius featured bold drawing. Missing in all winners was any hint of sappy sentimentalism or lazy workmanship. The “message” artworks were not clumsily so, the introspective works not too introspective. … The art museum will unveil Tuesday February 3rd its silver Monteith, dating to 1688. Monteiths, don’t you know, are designed to chill wine glasses upside down, and were all the rage among the better set of the time. Folks of such distinction as the Royal African Company, which had the exclusive right to the African slave trade from 1672-1698, included monteiths among their accoutrements of daily life. This monteith, made for the Royal African Company by Royal goldsmith George Garthorne features African figures flanking the Royal coat of arms. It was purchased for around a quarter million dollars with money from the Virginia Booth Vogel acquisition fund of the museum.

Monteiths were apparently rare on the tables of African slaves, but the Milwaukee Art Museum has another one from the 1680’s on display. This one, a relatively coarse ceramic object, is on loan from our friends at the Chipstone Foundation. Do you have a monteith? Look for a notched rim, suitable for holding the stems of the inverted wine glasses. … The Harborside ship center is dry-docking some shrink-wrapped sailing vessels on county-owned launching ramp on S. Water Street. … Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt launched his new Mayor’s Club with an event January 28th at the University Club. According to the invitation, the host committee includes Stephen E. Bablitch, Virgis W. Colbert, Michael J. Cudahy, John W. Daniels, Jr. and Gary P. Grunau. Grunau has also been chummy with David Clarke. This whole political business will be so much easier on the checkbook after the primary! Meanwhile, developers are lining up to get their projects on the Plan Commission agenda, including rehashes of earlier projects that did not survive the Peter Park scrutiny, or that might have suffered a John Norquist veto.

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