Michael Horne
The Roundup

Mequon Turns Voter Away

By - Nov 1st, 2004 12:00 pm

The City of Mequon told a local man who tried to register and vote at City Hall last week that he was “too late” and his only recourse was to try again Tuesday at his designated polling place.

Michael Murphy, a bartender at Ferrante’s Restaurant at the corner of  W. Donges Bay and N. Port Washington Roads, has lived in Mequon for over ten days, the statutory minimum residency for voters in the State of  Wisconsin.

He figured he could go to City Hall, register and vote, and chose some spare time last week to do so.

When he got to City Hall and attempted to do so, he was informed he was “too late,” and that he would only be able to register and vote if he showed up Tuesday at the Donges Bay School, his polling place.

But wait — Wisconsin does not require prior registration for a voter. Furthermore, Wisconsin law provides that any eligible voter may cast a ballot at a designated place (in the case of Mequon residents, its City Hall) prior to the election, as Murphy attempted to do.

So why was he refused the opportunity to register and vote in accordance with the law? Mequon City Attorney John DeStefanis was not familiar with the details of the case, with which I first became familiar late Saturday evening, October 30th, and had no immediate comment. Mequon Mayor Christine Nuernberg, no fan of this website did not return a telephone call.

But according to Attorney Bob Friebert, a Mequon resident who specializes in election law, Murphy was probably turned away from voting at the City Hall due to a misinterpretation of election procedure — one that would absolutely not occur in Milwaukee or Madison, he said.

Although Wisconsin allows registration at the polls and immediate voting, the law still provides for registration “deadlines,” — that is, a date at which the list of voters for the polling places is completed, and the list sent out for printing. That date was October 25, Friebert said he believed.

Murphy said he tried to register and vote after that deadline when he was turned away. Friebert says the denial of Murphy’s attempt to register and vote should not have been thwarted by the City of Mequon officials.

According to Friebert, the City of Mequon officials should have accepted Murphy’s late registration and should have permitted him to vote when he appeared at City Hall.

“What we have been doing in places like Madison and Milwaukee in a case like this is to allow the individual to register and vote,” he said.

The ballot, like other absentee ballots, would then be placed in an envelope. A “late registration” form would then be attached to the outside of the ballot, as permitted by the State of Wisconsin Elections Board.

Then, when it would be time for the ballot to be counted, poll workers would know that the ballot is from a late registrant, whose name would not appear on the pre-printed list of voters — those who had registered in time for the list to be printed. The ballot would then be counted along with others cast. Much the same procedure exists for those who register to vote and vote at the polls on election day. The bottom line is that the City of Mequon improperly prevented a potential voter from exercising his franchise according to law. City officials improperly made an interpretation of law — the relatively insignificant registration deadline — that prevented Murphy from registering and voting. Nor did the City officials contact the City Attorney or the State of Wisconsin Elections Board prior to their action, which was apparently taken at whim.

Who is in charge in this community? Perhaps Mayor Nuernberg would like to break her silence and comment.

RFK JR.in Town

Milwaukeeworld.com dropped in at the Marquette University Varsity Theater Thursday where environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. brought us his take on the Bush administration as it appears in his new book, “Crimes Against Nature,” an account of the Bush environmental legacy, which Kennedy, Jr., does not like.

He traveled to the Badger State most famously with Meg Ryan, who works in films in California. Also accompanying Kennedy was his daughter Kick, and Mrs. Larry David, whose husband, the Seinfeld creator, was campaigning in Florida.

We caught up with Kennedy in the Marquette Alumni Memorial Union where he awaited his speech.

Kennedy is a certified, licensed Master Falconer, which led to our first observation: “Why, you have more in common with the Saudi royal family than George Bush!” Kennedy had no response to that jocularity, so it was down to business.

Milwaukeeworld presented him with a copy of the Bush environmental agenda, taken from the candidate’s website. We asked him about item 1: the Bush administration’s plans to reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent. What could be wrong with that? According to Kennedy, mercury emissions were identified as a serious health threat during the Clinton administration. The administration then ordered a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions (primarily from power plants) within three years, and “promulgated the requirement through an ironclad section of the law,” according to Kennedy.

The Bush administration, however, repromulgated the requirements under a less stringent provision, and also reduced the percentage of emission reduction to 70 percent, while giving polluters 15 years to lessen the emissions.

Net result, he said, would be no reduction.

Kennedy was asked about the Fox River in Wisconsin, where an eventual cleanup will be made to the decades of pollution in that watershed, home to numerous paper factories. “The Fox River has PCBs and Mercury,” he said, evincing an awareness of the problems there. “But the fact is, Superfund is broke,” so we’ll have to wait for insurance companies to eventually foot the bill, and they are notoriously dilatory about doing so. Kennedy was instrumental in the impending cleanup of the Hudson River Valley, and got his start in ripparian environmental activities in an unusual way.

According to ActivistCash.com, a conservative website, Kennedy got involved with the Water Keeper Alliance in 1984 as a result of a criminal conviction for heroin possession. “A judge sentenced him to 800 hours of community service, which he satisfied with volunteer work for the Hudson River Foundation. After his 800 hours were used up, the organization (now operating as the Hudson Riverkeepers) hired Kennedy as its ‘chief prosecuting attorney.’”

Now that shows pluck!

Milwaukeeworld mentioned to Kennedy his introduction of his aunt, Rosemary to thousands at the Fighting Bob Fest in September. It was, as this column mentioned at the time, the first public introduction of Rosemary in many, many decades.

“Yes, it was nice,” he said. “I am glad they brought her.”

One Last Visit

The candidates made it to Milwaukee one more time on Monday, November 1st to enjoy a rainy day in Milwaukee. President Bush greeted his supporters indoors at the U.S. Cellular Arena, which had begun to fill up by 9 a.m. I watched the excitement from outdoors, and then made my wet way to see the Kerry rally at the intersection of N. Water Street and E. State Street. Originally the rally was to have been held on Water Street south of City Hall until some genius realized the crowds would make it difficult or impossible for voters to get in to City Hall. Thus, the location was moved a block or so to the north. A shame, in a way, since City Hall tower would have made a most impressive backdrop.

Instead, Kerry, dressed in a beige raincoat, talked to the audience from a stage erected at the State/Water street intersection. To the south of the rally, municipal garbage trucks were lined up in an uninterrupted row, like elephants linked during a circus. Apparently these were anti-vehicle barriers, and they were formidable indeed. At the west approach to the State Street bridge, two other garbage trucks were wedged together in the roadway rendering that span impassible for evildoers.

With the two men vying for the leadership of the free world no more than a thousand feet apart at one time, the Milwaukee Al-Qaeida cell could have had an opportunity for mischief. Fortunately, no incidents were reported, and the candidates went peaceably on their way. I can do without either of them for a while, to be frank.

Election Night Parties

You have done your part for democracy by wallowing in the electoral process and allowing your mind to become numbed by countless advertisements.

Tuesday, you have your chance to claim revenge on the political season by attending an election night “victory” party, and possibly to revel in free beer somewhere.

The Kerry campaign will hold its party at the Midwest Airlines Center. Mayor Tom Barrett will be there.

If you would like to attend a surefire victory party, Gwen Moore will be at the Italian Community Center, where she held her primary victory party.

“Oh, but that wasn’t much of a party,” Gwen reminded me. “We will have a real blowout this time.” Could be fun.

If you would like to attend a group party for democrats in the suburbs, then join Bryan Kennedy, Sheldon Wasserman and Jennifer Morales at the Silver Spring House for their event. Interestingly, a number of republicans plan to have a party there themselves. Won’t they be surprised!

Bush event is at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tim Michels, too. Time 9:30 p.m. — rather late hours for Republicans.

Kern Center Opens

Milwaukee’s A-List turned out for the dedication of the Kern Center at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Friday, October 29th. The sleek new building, the first to be built more or less in the Park East Freeway corridor, is the home of the fitness and wellness programs of Milwaukee’s favorite engineering school.

Honored guests included Robert and Patricia Kern, who forked over much of the cash for the place, along with Eckhart and Ischi Grohmann. Eckhart Grohmann has assembled a collection of art dealing with work, and it is on display at the school, expertly curated by John Kopmeier, who is Brooks Stevens’ nephew.

Fred and Anne Luber were on site at the event, along with David and Julia Uihlein, Jr. David is the local architect of the building. Also on stage were Mayor Barrett, County Executive Walker and Marc Marotta of the Department of Administration. Alderman Robert Bauman was also on site.

Both the Kerns are doctors, wouldn’t you know, with Robert being the Chairman of Generac Power Systems and an MSOE Regent. (MSOE has the best board of directors in town.)

Mrs. Kern is the President of the Kern Family Foundation.

The building, which has been under construction for over a year, came in on time and on budget, according to Dr. Hermann Viets, the President of the school. Union workers from the 98-year old Hunzinger Construction built the place.

The structure includes an Ice Arena, with seating and concessions, along with skate rental for the Ice Arena, so it looks like the public will be welcome at the building. The prominent glassy ovoid northeast corner of the building is filled with all sorts of exercise machines, and should impart a fair amount of energy to the corner, provided you can bear to watch engineers exercise. It also includes a juice bar, training room, a Basketball court and any number of amenities, including a hall of fame and the department of Campus Ministry and Servant Leadership. The only thing I can’t quite locate in the building’s floor plan are the locker rooms, which we should hope Mr. Uihlein remembered.


The new weekly publication MKE hit the streets Thursday. The Journal Communications effort at reaching out to younger readers is quite attractively designed, and is chock full of photographs and illustrations. Although the paper had some weight to it, the avoirdupois was certainly not due to the publication’s literary mass, which is nearly ephemeral.

The publication does have many, many sections and features, and will surely grow into its maturity.

Still, missing are such things as news, sports, humor, history, anything gay (except for the design) and a few other things that are certain to develop with the fullness of time. The paper does have a corresponding website, where much of its action is to take place. I would view MKE more as an attempt to make an inroad into the market of online provider onmilwaukee.com than as a newsprint competitor to the Shepherd Express or the Onion. Probably the only newspaper to be hurt by the publication of MKE will be the Riverwest Currents, whose animating force, Sonya Jongsma-Knauss, left that publication to be the assistant editor of the new one. The pregnant Ms. Knauss stood out in the rain Monday at the Kerry rally, accompanied by Molly Christofferson, who now is an assistant to Common Council President Willie Hines.

More Interesting News

Perhaps we now see why John Norquist moved to Chicago to operate the Congress for the New Urbanism – The group’s headquarters in the Marquette Building are at the same address as the McArthur Foundation, famed for its “Genius Grants.” CNU just received its own grant from the foundation, according to newly-engaged Steve Filmanowicz, who commutes to the Windy City from Milwaukee to work for Norquist, his former boss here. … The pleasures of Stardom: Gordon Hinckley, the legendary WTMJ DJ signed a dollar bill for an admirer at the Taste of Home’s Cooking Expo October 22-23 at the Midwest Airlines Center. Gordon is thin as a rail, and fit, and apparently still working, to the pleasure of his remaining original audience. … The Zeppos and Associates 10th anniversary party at the firm’s offices at 400 E. Mason Street was a hit with the big hitters who showed up there. Most notable was Sheriff David Clarke who looks like he does his shopping in Santa Fe these days. Clarke was dressed – and I mean dressed – in cowboy boots, real expensive trousers, a real expensive sweater (all in a light palate) and festooned with a shiny belt buckle. You had to see it, and you probably will, since the Sheriff gets around a lot. I asked him how much of his workday deals with personnel matters. “Oh, easily 80 percent,” he said. Remember – people who carry badges and guns are just as much bureaucrats as are deskbound paper pushers. Robert Trunzo showed up at the event, as did Scott Walker. Bill Ward of the police union took a look around. The spread included Miller Beer (Zeppos client), wine, and a spread by Ellen’s Prestige Catering. A rather surgical highlight of the event was the strawberry station, where a catering employee used a syringe to inject berries with liqueurs. Most compelling.

Development Opportunities – Riverwest Area

The Department of City Development, City of Milwaukee, on behalf of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) is soliciting proposals for a market-rate owner-occupied housing development planned for a brownfield located at North Bremen and East Concordia Streets. Just 5 minutes from downtown, the site is in the Riverwest
neighborhood. 22 new homes are planned.

A representative of JCI will summarize the site’s environmental conditions and staff will outline urban design and regulatory requirements at an informational meeting.  Attendance is highly recommended:

Date:     Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Time:     1:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Place:    1st Floor Board Room, 809 N. Broadway

Proposals are due: January 26, 2005 at 4:45 p.m. Copies of the RFP are available at www.mkedcd.org/realestate.

For more information, contact: James Sayers Development Mgr.
email: james.sayers@mkedcd.org
Office: 414-286-5723
Fax:    414-286-0395


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