Michael Horne
The Roundup

The Jewish Judge Who’s a Quarter Irish

By - Mar 8th, 2004 12:00 pm

Governor James E. Doyle told about 75 people at Mo’s Irish Pub last Friday that “there are a number of good things I can do as governor. … I get to appoint people to the bench. As a lawyer and the son of a judge, I take this seriously.”

What does the governor look for in a judge? – He’s appointed about 6 of them so far –“I get a list of very – incredibly good people. I could pick them out of a hat. But I look for intelligence, fairness, and understanding of people. Also, frankly, some much needed diversity.”

Doyle got diversity all right when he appointed Glenn Yamahiro as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge last year. Yamahiro, a former public defender, lawyer in private practice, and teacher of disturbed students, is also the first Asian-American to sit on the bar in Wisconsin. He is that, and more, the crowd, gathered for a fundraiser, was to learn. Yamahiro told the crowd that he was proud to be “the first [judicial] appointee by a democratic governor in almost 20 years.”

Yamahiro is running for a full term against former Judge Robert Crawford, whose antics on the bench in the past cost him his seat to Judge Louis Butler, who was present, as were such other judges as Jean DiMotto, Ted Wedemeyer, Tom Donegan, Paul Wall and judge wannabees like Audrey Skwierawski. Attorneys including the venerable Dominic Frinzi and Mark Thomsen popped in for the gig.

Yamahiro has already proven himself to be one of the more amusing speakers on the bench, and among politicians generally.

“I told the governor at the time of my appointment that any opponent I would get would be buried at the election.

“Now we have to come through on that promise,” he said, to the general assent of the assembled, not eager for a return of the goofy Crawford.

Yamahiro rubbed it in: “If it was an election of the informed, we wouldn’t need this gathering,” he said.

Do not think that Yamahiro tried to coast by solely on the merits of his wit and the novelty of his Asian background.

“I am the first Asian-American judge in Wisconsin, but I did have a grandma in Iowa, born about 100 years ago. Her name was Morrissey. So I have 25 percent Irish blood, and I am happy to be in Mo’s Irish Pub with the Guinness flowing.”

The crowd really liked this intercultural news, and I talked to Deja Vishny, a public defender with a really cool name – and yet another story.

“I’m Glenn’s wife,” she said. The couple has one child, who attends a Jewish elementary school. “I’m Jewish,” she explained. “So is Glenn,” she added.

Observations From the Governor

On the Legislature
You get the feeling from Governor Jim Doyle that the legislature is acting like a pesky housefly that he has to keep swatting at. The recent meetings of the august representatives of the people were characterized in this fashion by the governor: “The legislature is busy lately putting one piece of something after another together. We’ll deal with them appropriately as they come across my desk.”

On the Governor’s Lifestyle
“Democratic governors live in residences. Republican governors live in mansions.”

On the Governor’s Remarkable Memory
“I know every word of ‘Seinfeld’.”

Judge Manian to Retire?

According to one of his colleagues, Circuit Judge Victor Manian has formally submitted his resignation. “I believe that he has meant that news of his resignation be public, and that the letter has been sent. I understand that the effective date is August 1, 2004,” the colleague writes.

Judge Manion did not respond to a recent e-mail asking him about his retirement plans.

Another judge said, “that’s the word,” when asked what he had heard about the jurist’s plans.

Judge Manian, a former Police Officer, Sergeant and Assistant District Attorney, unseated Vel Phillips as Children’s Court Judge, was scheduled to rotate from the Gun Court to another assignment. His name isn’t on the list.

The Governor, as noted above, has already appointed “six or seven” judges, according to Matt Flynn, who heads Doyle’s judicial nomination review committee. Neither Flynn, Marc Marotta or Governor Doyle had any comment (really, no response at all) when I asked them about the retirement.

We’ll leave it for his honor to announce the news. Therefore, it would be injudicious to identify the two judges quoted here.

Blast at Pabst

“This is a crazy kickoff for a crazy beginning,” said Jim Haertel, surrounded by the Red Bull Fuel + Fury outdoors, and enjoying, for a change, a heated moment in the lovely Pabst Brewery Visitors Center. He owns the building free-and-clear. It is but a tiny chunk of the 1,700,000 sq. ft. Pabst Brewery complex, closed since 1996. In order to get his hands on the building, he had to find a buyer for the rest of the complex. Haertel did this using some grassroots activism and making a community presentation at the Pabst Mansion for investors, and opening the entire, wonderful, unheated complex to public inspection on Sundays. Where once there was a fizz, Haertel created a buzz, and was able to land the big money partners, including Wispark and the Birchill Group, a Cleveland developer, just so he could get the old pub for himself.

Haertel had to come up with $50,000 to hold the deal together, and did so by tapping into a retirement account. The other guys are on the hook for over $10 million. It was a crazy gamble for a local guy who now plans to turn the visitor center into a Hofbrauhaus club. That will cost another $2 million that he doesn’t have, but not to worry: “With a lease for the Hofbrauhaus, I will be able to get a loan,” he says.

The visitor’s center and the attached corporate offices are the most attractive of the Pabst complex, although the remaining industrial buildings are of considerable character. As Haertel spoke Friday, March 5th, West Juneau Avenue was filled with earth moving equipment. Utility construction was underway. By Monday, demolition will begin on an undistinguished 1970’s warehouse facility – ironically, the only building in the former brewery to have water right now. The entire site should be under demolition, renovation and reconstruction for about two years.

Haertel and his staff have spent months freezing in the visitors center, he says. Friday’s heat was free, thanks to Red Bull. Outside the visitors center, the first event of the renaissance of Pabst City was taking place. The Red Bull Fuel and Fury is a snowmobile competition that takes place on woodchips – giant piles of woodchips, deep enough to bury a school bus. The school bus was there, too, buried, and young snowmobile jockeys competed to jump over it and over much else. For one who is not a habitué of internal-combustion pastimes, and for whom Nascar remains inscrutable, woodchip-snowmobile daredeviling is a fascinating new junksport.

South Milwaukee – Where Logic Does Not Make Sense

The South Milwaukee Observer is a proud little four-page monthly that likes to yell at us. “Everything in this publication is backed up with facts. If you have any concerns or doubts, please contact The Observer and we’ll share our commitment to the facts,” the paper boasts.

Well, here’s a fact for you – the Observer uses plagiarized stories. Of course this might be the only way editor and publisher Jim Logic could put out an accurate publication. The February issue includes a story about Mark Shostarich and his guilty plea. It carries the byline (and email address) of Graeme Zielinski, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The story identified Shostarich as “Mayor David Kieck’s personal attorney.” That was an insertion – a little original work – by Logic, since we all know Shostarich as Gary George’s buddy. Anyway, Logic has announced that he will run for mayor against Kieck. The newspaper’s February issue also plagiarizes a Matt Hronick story from the May 9th, 2002 South Milwaukee Voice Graphic, with Logic adding, in his own words, “Mayor Kieck appears to be out of touch with reality.”

Both the Journal Sentinel and the Voice Graphic papers are owned by Journal Communications, whose lawyer, Paul Kritzer, fired off a “letter of warning and notice” to Logic. According to the Voice Graphic, “Logic admitted using portions of the stories, but said the inclusion of Hronick’s and Zielinski’s bylines was accidental.”

Mayor Kieck had this to say about Logic to the Voice Graphic, “If he misleads people in his tabloid, what will he do if he gets elected to the position of mayor?”

Name Change at ADD

ADD Inc., publishers of Community Newspapers such as the South Milwaukee Voice Graphic, mentioned above, and the Mequon Courant, has changed its name to Journal Community Publishing Group. The division publishes 100 papers in 8 states and has 1,200 employees. Meanwhile, the Community Newspapers website has closed for an “overhaul.” Journal Community Publishing group is working with a new vendor to redesign the news sites of its papers. In a letter to readers, Jennifer Pfaff, editor of the Voice Graphic said, “we have received complaints over the last several months that the Web site was not meeting readers’ expectations.” Interestingly, Journal Interactive, another corporate subsidiary, produces the company’s corporate website along with the site for its daily newspaper, television and radio stations, but apparently did not have the community papers’ contract. Journal Interactive also does the website for the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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