Michael Horne
The Roundup

Changes at the Election Commission

By - May 24th, 2004 12:00 pm
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Mayor Tom Barrett says he “will announce a change at the City Election Commission,” according to his statement to the Brady Street Association monthly meeting Tuesday, 18 May at the Hi-Hat Garage. Although he didn’t get down to specifics, you can take it to mean that Executive Director Julietta Henry will be out at the agency, which the mayor wants to merge with the City Ethics Board. In one of his first personnel moves, Barrett announced the resignation of Health Commissioner Seth Foldy without having a particular replacement in mind.

According to a “Career Opportunities” advertisement in the Business Journal, the City is looking for an “energetic leader … to manage a nationally recognized Health Dept. ($29M budget; staff of 300).” The new Health Commissioner will be paid between $103K to $144K per year. … The Mayor is also searching for a director of the Department of City Development, after Patricia Algiers announced her tenure would be most brief, indeed. At the Milwaukee Art Museum annual meeting, where she was accompanied by Gary Petersen of the DCD, Algiers announced, “I won’t have to move.” Algiers, who resides in Shorewood, would have had to relocate to the city within six months of her appointment. That’s a moot point now.

Back at the Brady Street meeting, Barrett told the 100 people in attendance that the school system is his first priority. “Six superintendents in 9 years is too many. It’s about politics, not education, when you have that kind of turnover.”

Barrett also said he has had a “great start with Police Chief Nanette Hegerty, although it might get tougher during the budget process.” Barrett says he expects he and Hegerty will go into the neighborhoods together to listen to residents’ concerns.

Barrett also announced that he plans to tend bar at Irish Fest this summer, as he has for most of the past two decades.

A search of city records shows that Barrett has never applied for a bartender’s license, though. Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have the mayor sit through four hours of responsible beverage service instruction like everybody else?

Alas, there is a catch. Barrett does not need a license to tend bar at Irish Fest provided he “is under the direct supervision of a licensed bartender at Irish Fest,” according to the City Clerk‘s License division.

Strong Settlement

The Press Releases were nearly identical. Only the top billing differed. According to a press release from the Office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, “New York, Wisconsin Settle ‘Market Timing’ Allegations with Strong Capital Management and its Founder.” Spitzer then mentions his own name first, and the name of Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager second.

According to the announcement from the Wisconsin A.G. “Lautenschlager and Spitzer announce Wisconsin, New York settle ‘Market Timing’ Allegations with Strong Capital Management and its Founder.”

If You Think “Warriors” is Offensive

Well, the old debate about Marquette teams bearing the “Golden Eagles” name instead of the historic “Warriors” name has surfaced again after a big-money donor asked for reinstatement of the Warriors name as a condition for a contribution to the school. As you remember, “Warrior” supposedly connotes “American Indian,” in the sense that “Redskins” does. Whenever I think of warriors, something more gladiatorial comes to mind, thanks to a juvenile dose of the Classics. For today’s youth, a warrior might conjure up an image of a fighting robot. However, if “Warriors” is offensive, I can think of a Catholic team’s name that is positively blasphemous. I refer to the Pius XI “Lady Popes.” This is from an outfit that doesn’t even allow “Lady” priests. In fact, some would find the term “Lady” in this context to be offensive, too.

Ferry to Nowhere?

They used to call the Hoan Bridge the “bridge to nowhere.” That was not completely true, since when approached from the south, it enabled you to escape Bay View.

Now, with the completion of the Lake Parkway, and a few minor structural repairs to the Hoan after its partial collapse, the bridge does feed the burgeoning Bay View neighborhood with a steady stream of privately-owned vehicles.

This artery between the East Side and the “Other East Side,” (or, as I call it, the Same South Side) is closed to pedestrians, bicyclists, and remarkably, public transit, with the exception of a single express bus route.

This is a shame, and could prove to be an embarrassment for the city when passengers begin arriving at the Bay View dock of the new Lake Express ferry service between Milwaukee and Muskegon, Michigan.

If the business model for the Lake Express envisions the western shore of Lake Michigan to be little more than a debarkation point for automobiles headed elsewhere, then all is fine.

But if the intention is that passengers might want to cross the lake without their cars to whoop it up in Beer City for a few hours, then I am afraid Milwaukee will be a disappointment to them.

Jeff Fleming, spokesperson for the Lake Express says “a variety of transit options are available (and being considered). The ground transportation paradigm anticipates arriving passengers (those without cars, motorcycles or bicycles) will get to their destinations using the same kinds of transportation arriving airline passengers typically use. People will rent cars, take taxis, or ride smaller vans/buses. Very few airline passengers avail themselves of Milwaukee County Transit service at Mitchell International.”

This may be, but Mitchell International is not a 10 minute straight-shot from downtown. Bay View, via the Hoan Bridge, is, provided you take the 48 express bus northbound between 6:23 and 8:29 in the morning, or southbound between 3:50 and 5:55 in the afternoon traversing the distance from Cass & Wisconsin and Superior & Oklahoma.

At any other time, you must take three buses between the same points in a journey that would take over one hour and 12 minutes each way.

Anybody who has lived in the East Side for the past decade or so and manages to travel to Bay View will recognize many faces of old neighbors who have moved to Bay View for its relative affordability and congenial surroundings. Many of the Bay Viewers still commute to jobs in the East Side or Downtown, and it would seem that a regular bus line over the Hoan Bridge could really tie those similar neighborhoods together.

It could also be argued that the Milwaukee County Transit System could qualify for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) or other grants to support the service, especially during reconstruction of the Marquette interchange. Perhaps we could repurchase some of the trolleys County Executive Walker so foolishly sold.

But the Hoan Bridge void is not the only lacunae in the Milwaukee County Transit System map.

Consider the “Freeway Flyers,” like the 48 bus. This express bus system has a fundamental flaw that can readily be seen in the name of its bus stops. They are called “Park and Ride” lots. The presumption is that these scantily-scheduled buses serve suburbanites who will drive from their homes, park their cars in the lots, and then ride into town in the morning and back in the evening. The Flyers are designed as a stand-alone bus system serving a specialized clientele. The system ignores the non-residential, commercial and business growth of the suburbs and the “reverse commuters” it might serve.

Significantly, many of the Freeway Flyers have no connection to regular bus lines, so any synergy with the rest of the transit network is lost. The Northshore Flyer and bus route 68 both parallel each other for their routes, except the Flyer runs on the freeway. Both of them end their northward journey at Brown Deer Road. Meanwhile, just a little more than a mile to the north, in Mequon, Port Washington is a major commercial street with thousands of jobs, many of them minimum wage, with no curbside bus service. Couldn’t the 68 intercept the Flyer and continue on its way as far as St. Mary’s Hospital, Ozaukee County‘s only hospital? En route are several nursing homes, retirement communities, three hotels, countless restaurants, shopping malls and professional offices.

Instead, that bustling area is transit-free, except for the Ozaukee Express, a half-hearted effort geared more toward serving the factories of Grafton than the commerce of Ozaukee County’s largest city (in area and population.)

The Express, which has an even more tortured schedule than the Freeway Flyers, glides up I-43 past most of Mequon’s businesses and does not exit until Mequon Road, two miles past the action. Certainly that bus could exit on Port Washington Road where it would go past many, many businesses – the kinds that still have “Help Wanted” signs posted.

Alas, one can not help but think that the specter of black workers wearing white uniforms lined up at bus stops in Ozaukee County is more than the civic leaders, especially those in Mequon, can deal with.

I once asked former First Lady Susan Mudd, “who comes up with these nonsensical transit routes that ignore geographic and demographic common sense?”

Her answer: “Traffic engineers.”

I think its time the vision for our transit future is expanded to include the opinions of others and the realities of the times.

The Hoan is not the only bridge we have yet to cross.

Marsupial Bridge Kickoff

Mark your calendars for Thursday, 27 May at 3:30 p.m. when Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce Street, will be the site of the kickoff party for the construction of the long-awaited Holton Marsupial Bridge, my favorite public works project.

Mayor Tom Barrett will be there for his first groundbreaking of a municipal project. Also expected are Alds. Michael S. D’Amato, and Michael I. McGee, Jr., Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi, Supervisor Jon Richards and other dignitaries including Comptroller W. Martin “Wally” Morics, C.P.A., who lives down the street from the brewery. Neighborhood groups and others will be present, and I will be chatting about my research into the history of the Holton Viaduct and its new baby. While you have your calendar out, also mark Friday, 28 May for the postponed celebration of the opening of Kilbourn Park, Milwaukee’s first community-run park located up the bluff from the Viaduct and the Beer Line “B” neighborhood. Tom Schneider, director of the Children’s Outing Society, had scheduled the day-long opening for Friday, 21 May, but the event was cancelled due to – Rain! The fun begins at noon and runs into the evening, capped off with a scheduled performance by the Riverwest Accordion Club. Meet at the park grounds, just south of the North Avenue Reservoir.

Milwaukee Art Museum Annual Meeting

The Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Inc. held its annual meeting and reception Monday, 17 May at the Museum’s Windhover Hall. The invitation sent to members announced that Jeffrey Joerres, Anthony J. Petullo, Betty Quadracci, Andrew A. Ziegler and “up to seven additional Trustees to be selected by the Nominating Committee would join the board.”

The Nominating Committee did its job, and a beaming David Gordon, Executive Director, was asked after the meeting what he thought was the best news of the meeting. “We got Michael Cudahy on the board,” was his response.

Of course, Cudahy and Gordon battled it out over the design and location of Pier Wisconsin, Cudahy’s pet project south of the Art Museum, and in that instance, it appears Cudahy blinked. As a result, we will get a nicer Pier Wisconsin than the one originally designed, and a panel of the proposed material to surface the new building is on display at the site.

On Tuesday, 18 May, the Lake Express ferry made its first appearance in its home port, sailing in via the St. Lawrence Seaway from the shipyard in Alabama where it was constructed. As a Great Lakes Vessel, it must be American built, which is why we can’t use any of Europe’s superfluous ferries here. The Express is said to be the fastest commercial vessel on the Great Lakes, and traveled at speeds of around 40 miles per hour through the roiling seas of Lake Michigan. As she entered the breakwater she was greeted by such vessels as the Iroquois, the Princess (also new to our harbor this year) and the tug Virginia, along with a scattering of sailboats. Curiously, as the ship flexed its muscles before a small crowd gathered in the miserable weather at the site of Pier Wisconsin, a flock of gulls appeared as if on cue, and flew out to the ship, which they might have thought was a fishing vessel. The vessel demonstrated its ability to back up and do other maneuvers before heading to the heavy lift dock on the northwest tip of Jones Island where it will hang out until its Maiden Voyage June First. The ship’s principal attraction is that it avoids Chicago and shaves at least two hours off the trip across the lake to Muskegon, where few of us have ever ventured.

According to Ken Szalli, the director of the Port of Milwaukee, the Muskegon – Milwaukee route is the best one in America. Let’s hope so.

The curious who gathered at the Pier Wisconsin site were greeted with preliminary construction activity related to the Pier Wisconsin project. A number of pilings have been sunk into the earth there.

Set Your Radio Dial

If you are not otherwise engaged Wednesday, 26 May, I suggest you set your radio dial to WUWM (89.7 FM) at 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. where I will be the guest of host Dave Edwards for his “At 10” program. Edwards invited me on the show to talk about www.milwaukeeworld.com and about other goings on about town. I hope you tune in and zing back to me with your comments.

horne@milwaukeeworld.com

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