Michael Horne
The Roundup

“Groundbreaking” for Bridge

By - May 31st, 2004 12:00 pm

It’s not really a groundbreaking without a shovel, so Cecelia Gilbert of the Department of Public Works brought five well-used, albeit ceremonial, spades to the Thursday 27 May event celebrating the beginning of construction of the Holton Marsupial Bridge.

Obliging dignitaries, sensing a photo-op, grabbed the shovels and pantomimed digging them into the asphalt pavement below the Holton Viaduct.

The ceremony was scheduled to accommodate Mayor Tom Barrett, who was present at the event before racing off to his daughter’s piano recital. Other guests included Ald. Michael S. D’Amato, Ald. Michael I. McGee, Jr., Supervisors Gerry Broderick and James White, and former State Senator Brian Burke.

Julilly Kohler served as master of ceremonies for the event, and she kept her remarks sparing, yet managed to name all of the many individuals who have helped to make her dream a reality.

This included “the former congressman from the fifth district,” as Brian Burke called his old elementary school chum, Tom Barrett, who, as Mayor was able to yield the ceremonial shovel on a public works project for the first time.

Architects James Dallman and his wife Grace La were also on hand as were Mathew P. Tharaniyil, P.E. and Yakov N. Nenaydykh, another P.E. They are, respectively the president and the vice president of Bloom Consultants, the engineers of the project to span the Holton Viaduct with the suspended “marsupial’ bridge – a bicycle and pedestrian path that will provide grade-level access between the Brady Street neighborhood and the Lakefront Brewery and its surrounding Beer Line “B” neighborhood.

Missing from the event was Frank Busalacchi, the Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation or any representative of Lunda Construction, the Black River Falls outfit that won the bid to construct the bridge.

Lunda appears to be a publicity-averse organization. The firm has expressed a reservation about having webcams at the construction site, saying they might reveal some “trade secrets” of the mysterious, arcane art of bridge building.

Good heavens! It’s a bridge, not a plutonium refinery.

Also missing from the event was Whitney Gould, although you wouldn’t have known it from the article she managed to write about it for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the next morning. She reported, correctly, that the Mayor was there, in an otherwise generic story composed of previously reported items. Sonya Jongsma-Knauss and Vince Bushell of the Riverwest Currents were there. The sole representative of the electronic media was Channel 58. Afterwards, the crowd of 100 or so headed up to the Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden where owner Russ Klisch turned on the taps. Earlier that day, a stressed Russ was trying to get his new bottling machine to behave. Even so, it still chewed up a few bottles as it went through its shakedown cruise. Sales manager Paul Moebius said things are going well at the brewery – maybe too well. “We’re running out of beer!” he said. Last year’s sales were 5,000 barrels, and this year the brewery could hit 7,000 barrels. This is better than 2 million bottles, so you can see the importance of a well-behaved bottling machine. In other news, Jim Klisch, the brother of Russ Klisch who has since sold his interest in the firm to his brother has also sold the property at 808 E. Chambers St. where the brewery began. The purchaser is Carson Praefke, owner of the Tasting Room, 1100 E. Kane Pl., and also an original founder of Lakefront Brewery. Jim Klisch works the weekend shift as a street Ambassador, where he can put his years of experience as a Gang Squad detective and a Brewery Tour Guide into a real-world context, handing out brochures to tourists downtown.

On the Riverfront

As the riverside ceremonies took place for the groundbreaking of the Holton Marsupial Bridge, boats patrolled up and down the river in search of the bodies of Tia Woodley, 6 and Temisha Warren, 12, two sisters who had fallen in a few days earlier. Over at the Milwaukee Rowing Club, just upstream, the children’s family and friends continued their vigil. I talked to the girls’ grandmother, cousins, aunts and uncles

The dock where the children fell in was temporarily barricaded with snow fences and pylons. The rowing club, opened last September, was designed without barriers at the water’s edge, presumably to make it easier to load the long sculls that the rowers use. Indeed, an analysis of the redeveloped shoreline on both sides of the river shows a great inconsistency in barriers at the water’s edge. The newly-developed condos in the area have a continuous railing, with occasional access points to the floating docks there. Some of these docks are accessible, although their access may be chained. You just hop over (or, more likely creep under) the chain and then you can get to water’s edge. In other sections locked gates prevent access to private piers.

Lakefront Brewery is bordered with brick planters now sporting hundreds of red geraniums. The railing there is composed of chains, dangling a bit lower, and hanging a bit looser than I would like. You could probably trip over them and head into the river. They could be tightened up by a couple of links for height and rigidity with little effort Still, this is penitentiary-style security compared to other points on the river.

A couple of years ago, writing in the Brady Street News, I noted with alarm that there was no railing or other protective device at the Northern Lights project, on the east side of the river. I received a response from the management of Ogden and Co., the property’s owners and developers that the lack of such barriers was intentional. I still think it’s scary, and as we now know, deadly. We must find a balance between public access to the river and public safety.

This is especially true with the redevelopment of Kilbourn Park, just above the Rowing Club. For the past hundred or more years, it was virtually impossible to go from the park to the riverfront, not that you would want to, anyway. The bluff was exceedingly steep, and included a sheer drop of many feet. You would have died from hitting the ground long before you would have had a chance to reach the river. Parents up on the hill didn’t have to worry that their children could easily get to the river.

Over the past couple of years, the area has been re-graded, and there is now comparatively easy access to the river, its temptations, and its delights.

The park was dedicated Friday, 28 May, after the previous week’s dedication had been cancelled due to rain. As a community-operated park, Kilbourn will face the issues of safety from a grass-roots perspective, including education of neighbors and children, according to the principles laid down in its organizational documents, and according to comments by Tom Schneider, the head of the adjacent Children’s Outing Association, a group formed a century ago to offer central city children a chance to get out to the country and play in Mequon in a private park – on the Milwaukee River.

Slow News Day

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued a press release May 14th giving her statement on the Supreme Court decision on Panzer v. Doyle. It is not quite clear why she bothered. After describing the court’s decision in two sentences, Lautenschlager added two of her own.

“Department of Justice attorneys are in the process of reviewing all aspects of the decision and dissent. The Department of Justice will not be issuing any further statement in this matter pending further discussions with the Office of the Governor.” Thanks for the update, I’m sure the Office of the Governor includes somebody who will be happy to discuss this matter with the Attorney General.

News From the Contenders: Congressional Races off to Start

Cancel your plans for Tuesday, 1 June, and head over to the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Hall, 1650 S. 38th Street where, at 12:30 p.m. attorney Matt Flynn will announce his candidacy for the 4th congressional district seat being vacated by Jerry Kleczka. The First of June is also the official start of nomination signature collection for the 14 September primary. The Quarles and Brady website shows that Partner Flynn has been a lawyer since 1975. He specializes in litigation and speaks Spanish. Flynn said, “my campaign will be about jobs.”… Competitor Tim Carpenter, currently a State Senator, officially opened his campaign office at 4514 W. Forest Home Avenue on 26 May. He says his focus will be to “do all I can to help working families, improve access to affordable health care, and ensure quality education and a clean environment for future generations of Wisconsinites.” Yet another democrat has entered a congressional race. Bryan Kennedy hopes to defeat longtime Republican congressman F(rank) James “Jim” Sensenbrenner, Jr. who many think is glued to his seat in one of the nation’s most chronically Republican districts. The campaign has hired Janet Gerber as volunteer coordinator. “Janet will be responsible for helping to grow our already large grassroots network,” according to the campaign. The campaign has raised “thousands” at an art show fundraiser, has distributed more than 1500 flyers, has held a Town Hall forum in Shorewood and has picketed with SBC workers at 5 locations in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Brown Bagging it with the Mayor

Milwaukeeworld correspondent Joe Klein headed over to City Hall Wednesday, 26 May for Mayor Tom Barrett’s first “Brown Bag Luncheon.” Barrett did not eat much of his lunch, fetched for him by aides, because he was busy answering questions from about 50 constituents who attended the public feed.

According to Klein, one of the issues was that Parking Checkers have not saved the taxpayers a dime since they took over the ticket writing function from the police department.

Tim Carpenter and Shirley Krug, candidates for the Democratic nomination for Congress were in the house. “Tim passed out literature; Shirley was more passive,” according to Klein.

Robert Baker, an elevator mechanic, said that “Milwaukee had only two black elevator repair people and that they were often first to be laid off,” according to Klein, who asked the Mayor a question about whether MMSD should consider tax credits or incentives for those who disconnect their downspouts from the combined sewer system. Barrett said he’d look into that.

Perhaps he should.

The MMSD website, which you can access by clicking on our cartoon, is full of all sorts of information about the status of our sewers and things homeowners can do to stem the invasion of water into the system.

For example, the district includes information of disconnecting one’s downspout and directing the water elsewhere on the property. Unfortunately, many Milwaukee downspouts are right next to a walkway, and it is inconvenient to direct the flow of water away from the foundation with a flexible drain, as recommended, since the drain would be positioned on the walkway, creating a hazard.

Elsewhere on the district’s website, MMSD practically begs us to purchase rain barrels that would connect to the downspouts. Perhaps MMSD could combine both suggestions into one – crews could disconnect the downspouts and tack water barrels onto the sides of the buildings. Our sewers would be less filled, and we would have a very desirable source of water for the garden and the lawn. This option could be much cheaper than entirely separating sewers. It should be noted that combined sewers are not entirely an evil. All one has to do is think back to any winter and the horrible black snow and slush that was everywhere.

In the suburbs, that yucky mess is flushed into the river and/or the lake. In the city, it is treated. However, the snowmelt and rainfall that enters the sewer system from our rooftops is considerably cleaner, and could be discharged into rain barrels and then our gardens and lawns with little damage. … The suburban members of MMSD will meet June 14th to elect two suburban elected officials to their statutory seats on the board to replace West Allis Mayor Jeannette Bell and River Hills Village President Robert Brunner, whose terms expire. (Commissioners make $410.91 biweekly, which is not enough to earn you bragging rights in River Hills.) This still leaves Mayor Barrett with seven appointees of his own to the commission. Will Preston Cole survive? Will Bill Christofferson? … Have you read Christofferson’s book, “The Man From Clear Lake?” It is a biography of former Senator Gaylord Nelson. I am about two-thirds done with the book, and it is quite readable and engaging, especially as it recounts now-forgotten feuds, like the one between Nelson and former fellow ex-governor Patrick Lucey. I talked to Lucey the other day as he loaded groceries into his vehicle at Sendik’s in Bayside. He said he hadn’t read the book yet, but did recall being extensively interviewed for it. My suggestion to the former governor: get a copy of the book. … At the same time Lucey was at Sendik’s so was Commissioner of Major League Baseball Allen H. “Bud” Selig, picking up luncheon and his laundry in his Lexus. Nice to see ya both!

Art Fraud Connection?

Milwaukee Police are investigating whether there is a connection between suspected forger James F. Kennedy and Ely Sakhai, a New York art dealer involved in a worldwide forgery racket. Kennedy was arrested in Milwaukee in May after trying to pass off some “laughably” crude Picasso fakes here in town.

Sakhai was arrested in March in New York on eight wire-fraud and mail-fraud charges. According to the FBI, Sakhai would buy mid-level original works by masters such as Monet, Chagall, Renoir and Gaugin, and would then have copies made of them.

For example, he bought Chagall’s “La Nappe Mauve” for $312,000 from Christie’s in London 14 years ago.

He then sold a forged copy of the painting to a Japanese buyer for $514,000 in a private transaction.

All would have possibly been well, had not an interesting coincidence come to pass. Sakhai sold the original painting back to Christie’s. At about the same time, the Japanese owner of the fake decided to sell his painting. When this matter came to the attention of Christie’s, the firm alerted the FBI.

Milwaukee Police detective George Izzardy, a New York native, is handling the case and hopes for cooperation from the FBI, not always a given thing, as we know. … In other art news, the Beastie Beat is back on the street with about 4 dozen of the Dennis Pearson sculptures, decorated by local and national artists, on display at locations throughout downtown and elsewhere, including Miller Park and Harley-Davidson. Through the sale of raffle tickets, merchandise and an October auction of the Beasties themselves, the art program – the largest public art program in Wisconsin history – will support the music education programs of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and its League. … Grand Opening Gig Set – After a couple of months of operating in his new location, and after the excitement of seeing a forger be arrested right in his ‘hood, Bill DeLind, a sponsor of milwaukeeworld, will officially dedicate his new facility at 400 E. Mason Street with a neighborhood bash on 8 June. … The strip of N. Milwaukee Street between E. Wisconsin Avenue and E. Kilbourn Avenue was practically a gallery row for about a month-and-a-half, with the Lord, DeLind and Patrick & Catanzaro galleries all within the space of two blocks. The latter, a “gallery and studio” is temporarily (as they say) closed for “rehanging.” If, by “rehanging,” it is meant that all the art that once hung there has been destroyed and will never be seen again, then this could be a good thing. Maybe it means the place is out of business, which is just as well.

On the Radio

Early in May I received an unexpected call from Jane Hampden, the producer of “At 10,” the Dave Edwards talk show on WUWM-FM. She asked me to be a guest, and on 19 May I bicycled down to the station’s studios in the basement of the Plankinton Building for a delightful half-hour interview with the host.

I really didn’t know what to expect, and after blabbering on about this website for a while, I was asked questions on subjects ranging from Bo Black to the condition of the City’s budget. I also talked about Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, recent comments by the mayor, and about bridges, including the Holton Marsupial Bridge. (I just love bridges! Wait until you hear about the new one crossing Lincoln Memorial Drive at Brady Street.)

Anyhoo, the show broadcast on Wednesday, 26 May at 10 (a.m. and p.m.) and is forever available on the archives of the WUWM-FM website, should you care to listen to it. Thanks to readers Atty. Thos. K. Mullins, Paul Sheldon and Nancy Beutner Meeks for listening to the show and admitting it to me. By the way, Nancy B, the “Condo Queen,” as her advertisements in the Pride Fest guide put it, has joined real estate dynamo Katie Falk in her Realty Executives empire. Nancy’s brother Jeff Beutner, noted traveler and critic, has returned from Southeast Asia. … Mike Murphy and his Swinging Turkey Legs will make their festival debut at Countryfest this week. The Swinging Turkey Legs are food, not a band.

School Days

Head on down to Marquette University‘s Valley Field, 1818 W. Canal Street Wednesday, 2 June from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when 300 students from Milwaukee Public Schools will participate in the Adaptive Sprots Track and Field Tournament for youth with orthopedic and visual impairments. The tournament will include a 40-meter advanced obstacle course, a 25-meter shuttle and a bean bag shot put. Adaptive Sports programs are designed for individuals with physical disabilities. Other Adaptive Sports include tennis, bocce, softball, t-ball, swimming and soccer. On Monday 7 June, from 10 a.m. until noon, students in the Westside Academy will plant flowers, shrubs and trees to beautify the grounds of their school at 1940 N. 36th Street. The students will work under the supervision of gardeners from Hawk’s Nursery. Please call in advance to make sure the entire city has not floated away by that time.


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