Michael Horne
The Roundup

Scott Walker and the Milwaukee Curse

By - Jan 24th, 2005 12:00 pm

Milwaukee has not been the home of many of Wisconsin’s governors. The last governor to be born here and to have resided here was Martin Schreiber, who served from July 1977 to January 1979, and he was only an acting governor. Lee Dreyfus, who succeeded him, was born here, but did not live here when he served. The last governor to have resided in Milwaukee was Julius Heil, who served from 1939 to 1943. Chances are that most of his supporters no longer vote (or breathe), so Heil’s coattails have been considerably shortened.

Previous to Heil all Milwaukee governors were from the 19th century, and they were Harrison Ludington, Lucius Fairchild and George Peck. Not a very large crew.

The most recent Milwaukeean to run for governor was Tom Barrett, who got whipped by Doyle in the primary and who now serves as mayor.

Now comes word that Scott Walker has entered the race to replace Jim Doyle, and the republicans have conjured up a scenario in which the republican county executive can beat the Madison-based governor and retire the legend of the Milwaukee curse.

The theory is that Walker’s supposed overwhelming popularity will take away enough local votes from the democrats (who must win Milwaukee to win the state house) that their candidate will fail. In the last election, one in seven votes for governor were cast in Milwaukee. Walker is sufficiently republican that he should do well in the rest of the state, his Milwaukee-ness notwithstanding.

That’s the theory, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Walker announced his candidacy Monday at his Wauwatosa home. He cited the usual themes of lower taxes, voter identification at the polls, and stressed the “sanctity” of marriage. (“Marriage” is defined as pairing of heterosexual breeders under government protection. The institution faces grave threats to its continued existence, and can only be spared by political action.)

Walker hopes to gain statewide recognition during the 21 months preceding the election, and will take his case to the people.

Walker has run a shadow campaign against Doyle for months, including such stunts as sending the Governor a copy of his (Walker’s) tax bill with the request Doyle sign a pledge to not increase taxes.

Now, as an announced candidate, news organizations will be much less likely to cover such antics as legitimate stories. Walker also could have taken advantage of the announcement to do it in a big style –say flying across the state during a single news cycle to get out the word of his announcement. We shall see what state coverage of his announcement will bring.

Walker will also raise a good deal of money for the race, if he is to match Doyle, who will hope for a 10 million dollar plus campaign budget.

This will mean many more fundraisers for Walker like the one a couple of weeks ago at the University Club. A typical Scott Walker party runs from 5 to 7 p.m., but is usually over by 5:15. Walker will likely have primary opposition from Rep. Mark Green and Assembly Speaker John Gard, who are likely to announce their own candidacies.

Gard was scheduled to have a fundraiser of his own at the University Club on Monday – the day Walker announced his candidacy.

By making his announcement so many months before the election, Walker also risks identification as a lame duck in the County Executive’s office. Political opponents will argue that the campaign for governor, with its many demands around the state, will remove him from paying sufficient attention to the details of running Wisconsin’s most populous county.

Should he lose the race for governor – particularly in a primary election – he might be in a difficult position to run again as County Executive.

De Meeting of Des Moines

The Lakefront Development Advisory Commission met at the Downtown Transit Center on January 19th for a hearing on the proposal to relocate the U.S.S. Des Moines to our lakefront.

It was the best democracy I have seen for some time and brought together a wide coalition of mostly opponents of the plan.

The opponents asked their supporters to wear bright yellow hats that said Save Our Lakefront Park. The supply ran out long before the hall filled to capacity – over 900 people.

What made the event most interesting were the large numbers of grassroots millionaires fearing a NIMBY invasion on their expensive lakefront turf.

I talked to Betty Quadracci, who was in the front of the audience. Betty has a vested interest in the lakefront since she owns a large penthouse in the Cudahy. She also, not incidentally, put $20 million into the Calatrava’s Quadracci pavilion. She opposes siting the ship here.

The ship’s supporters must raise about $18 million of their own to get the vessel in Milwaukee, and if it is any consolation, they are far from that goal; they may have raised about 1 percent of it thus far.

The Harbor Lights Room of the transit center was filled with a variety of Milwaukeeans from many walks of life. Among those in attendance were Tom Gale, John Zutz of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, City planner Robert Greenstreet, Ray Chi, Vince Bushell, Matt Flynn, Chris Ahmuty, Julilly Kohler and others too numerous to mention, including Paul Cebar, who called the plan for the ship “ridiculous” on his WMSE radio show that morning.

During the radio program Cebar played an audio recording of a poem by Harvey Taylor, who also was at the meeting.

Taylor sent milwaukeeworld.com a copy of his poem, which was also distributed at the meeting, and we happily reproduce it here.

I Mean No Disrespect

I mean no disrespect to Veterans of any war by my strong conviction that
our precious lakefront is the wrong parking spot for
an obsolete naval vessel hopeful of avoiding the scrapyard.

When I say ‘precious lakefront,’ I speak as someone who for many years
has sailed on the lake, swam in the lake, ridden a bicycle and hiked along the lake,
enjoyed picnics at beaches, made sandcastles with children,
thrown driftwood into the water for dogs to retrieve…
and I also speak as a longshoreman who works
aboard freighters at the port of Milwaukee.
The idea of permanently anchoring a large ship inside the breakwater
makes about as much sense to me as putting a big rock in one’s bathtub.

I mean no disrespect…quite the opposite.

My father was a naval officer, and served in the Naval Reserve until retirement…
the flag given to my family by the government, when my father died,
to honor his service, is in my keeping, and is very meaningful to me…
I certainly mean no disrespect to my father’s memory, or his brave,
routine heroism, or anyone else who honorably served their country
when it was genuinely imperiled—not manipulated into a catastrophe.

I honestly think that as a people we need to
stop glorifying war, and remember that
each war is the result of great failures, and
is the cause of great loss of life, and
terrible suffering, each casualty,
a tragic betrayal of creative potentials.

I mean no disrespect when I say that I hope the discussion and debate
generated by this issue inspires our citizenry to deeply ponder
what the real needs of the community are.

As for me, I need to see un-obstructed sunrises,
to inspire me to envision new possibilities,
not have my sojourns near, on, in, and around the lake
dominated by the sight of a monument to failure.

We already have enough of those; go to the military cemeteries,
to see monuments to the true consequences of war…

I support the preservation of
the historic Soldier’s Home and grounds,
near the VA hospital, and
finding suitable purposes for its use,
as a memorial to the madness of war,
and center of research for its prevention.

I mean no disrespect to Veterans of any war by my strong conviction that
our precious lakefront is the wrong anchorage for an obsolete naval vessel.
I mean no disrespect.

Harvey Taylor
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
January 19, 2005

Footnote: milwaukeeworld.com correspondent Carlo Albano attended the event. His report will be posted on the site shortly – Ed.

Mitchell’s Amtrak Station

The milwaukeeworld.com train pulled into the new Mitchell Airport Amtrak Station to take a look at the place.

The term “transportation hub” hardly applies to the place, which is little more than a glorified siding some distance from the airport.

To give you an idea of the setting, let us note that it is located in the City of Milwaukee – but in an area without sidewalks, and one that was poorly paved at that. Don’t plan to walk to the airport from the terminal.

The landscaping does little to detract from the surrounding industrial hell environment of the station. The sitework consists of a number of boulders and a few walls. Upon first glance both the boulders and the stone of the wall do not seem to be local materials. The station itself is a miniature confection drawing heavily upon Prairie School roots and inspirations. There is a certain austere geometry to the facility, and horizontal elements predominate. The coffered ceiling adds a certain dimension to the place, as do the windows and roof overhangs. Beyond that there is little architecture to the place, which happened to be crawling with police when I visited for reasons that could not be determined. The terminal includes some built-in benches of undisguised plywood. Hunter green is the color of choice.

Ald. Robert Bauman, who is skilled in transit issues notes the facility was poorly planned from one respect.

There is only a single platform for trains of either direction. Instead of an underground tunnel running beneath the northbound track to access the southbound track, all trains must run on the same track. This has the potential to cause logistical problems down the line, since trains must hop back and forth on the same rail, perhaps causing delays. You can take the train from downtown to the airport terminal, if you would like, for only $6. A shuttle will bring you to the airport from there. You could also take a county bus to the airport – direct – for regular bus fare.

Everybody’s a Columnist

This world will not be complete until everybody has a column, and we are happy to add James E. Doyle to the list.

Milwaukeeworld decided to give the neophyte writer a chance to spill his guts to you the readers, since he does have an interesting perspective as Governor of Wisconsin.

In his debut performance, which we reprint here, the Governor tells us his position on raising the minimum wage.

The Governor’s column was researched, written and transmitted at taxpayer expense. The Governor did not ask for compensation from milwaukeeworld for running his column in this space, and none was offered. The minimum wage, low as it is, would probably still be a bit more than the writing is worth.

What’s your take? Would you like to see the Governor’s column every time it appears? All it takes is a push of a button, you know.

Governor Doyle Column: Wisconsin’s Workers Need a Raise Wisconsin’s economy is on the move again, with nearly 70,000 jobs created in the past year alone. As the new issue of Inc. Magazine reports: Wisconsin has experienced “a remarkable turnaround” … with “the nation’s largest surge in manufacturing job creation.”As part of my Grow Wisconsin plan, we’ve put in place an aggressive strategy to make Wisconsin more business friendly, creating new, good jobs and helping people raise their incomes.Yet too many people are still struggling every day to make ends meet, to pay the bills, and to put food on the table.Wisconsin’s minimum wage – at $5.15 an hour – has not been raised in seven years. While the price of nearly everything else has gone up over the past seven years, these workers have not received a raise.My administration has put forward a proposal to raise the minimum wage statewide from $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour over two years – a proposal that has garnered a wide range of business support, including:
Craig Culver, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the Wisconsin Restaurants Association, the Wisconsin Chapter of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the Wisconsin Merchants Federation. It recently picked up the endorsement of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.The only opposition to this proposal has come from Republicans in the Legislature, who are badly out of touch with Wisconsin’s values. Unfortunately, they have the power to use legislative tricks to block this increase for two years without ever taking a vote. I have challenged Republicans to end the stall tactics, and take up the minimum wage proposal this month. Every month they delay, minimum wage workers lose about $100.

In the last seven years, members of the Legislature have voted themselves seven pay raises, while workers on the minimum wage have not gotten any raises. Legislators’ pay has gone up by $6,500 over that time, but now Republicans are blocking an increase of just $1.35 for our lowest paid workers.

Support for a minimum wage increase is so strong that some communities are beginning to act on their own. Because the Legislature won’t act, cities like Madison, Milwaukee, Kaukauna, Stevens Point, and La Crosse may each set their own minimum wage. Everyone agrees a statewide minimum wage increase is the best option, but who can blame these communities for acting alone when Republicans in the Legislature are refusing to do the right thing?

An estimated 160,000 Wisconsin citizens would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. While many are young people, nearly half are over 25 years of age. Nearly two out of every three are women. More often than not, they are single parents, struggling to support themselves and their children. And, while many are part-time workers, almost one-third work full time at the minimum wage.

Everywhere I go, I see people working so hard to support themselves. These workers deserve a chance to get ahead just like everyone else.

We’re making progress at creating jobs and helping people raise their incomes in Wisconsin. But we should not forget about those people who so often work the most and earn the least.

Let’s increase the minimum wage statewide from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour – and let’s do it this month.

A Halbrooks Release

Last year David Halbrooks, an assistant city attorney who had been appointed to a municipal judgeship, lost his election race to Valarie Hill, in what many considered to be a surprising upset.

Halbrooks has announced his candidacy for the seat and has sent out a press release which follows.

His strategy to regain the seat will involve much shoe leather, as he pledges to knock on more that 15,000 doors by election day. (Good luck finding mine!)

The release follows:

Dave Halbrooks, candidate for Municipal Court Judge, is pledging to knock on more than 15,000 doors before Election Day.

Halbrooks is bidding for a return to the court in the April 5th election.

“I am taking my campaign to the people,” said the former judge and assistant city prosecutor. “I will put my heart and ‘sole’ into knocking on thousands of doors.”

Halbrooks began his ground campaign Nov. 8th and has been knocking on doors 7 days a week. So far, he has been to more than 5,400 doors to hear the concerns of Milwaukee residents firsthand.

“Voters tell me they want safe neighborhoods, places where their children can play and where neighbors know one another and look out for each other,” Halbrooks said. “They want to preserve the quality of life that makes Milwaukee known as a big, small town – a good place to raise a family.”

Halbrooks, who is married and has a young son and daughter, has been an assistant city attorney for 15 years, and was appointed to the Municipal Court Bench in 2003. He has successfully prosecuted thousands of actions that shut down drug houses, put slumlords out of business and dealt with serious neighborhood problems, such as the notorious “Jason doesn’t live here anymore” case. The house on Milwaukee’s south side was the scene of alleged drug dealing and numerous drive-by shootings.

“The closing of Jason’s house was a team effort. Elected officials, law enforcement and I closed in on this house that was dragging down the neighborhood. As a father, a homeowner, and a representative of the city, I have zero tolerance for the blight of violence and drugs in our community.“

The City of Milwaukee Municipal Court deals exclusively with cases involving city ordinance violations dealing with traffic, assault and battery, disorderly conduct, vandalism, loitering, theft, shoplifting, building codes, health codes and drunken driving.

“While I have a thorough knowledge of the courtroom, I feel at home dealing with people on their own turf, seeing their problems firsthand,”

Halbrooks said. “That’s what this campaign will be all about: dealing directly with the people.”

Museum Acquires Roman Marble Portrait

Details are scarce, but it appears the Milwaukee Art Museum has received as a gift from the Pieper family a Second Century A.D. Roman marble portrait seen above.

The museum’s bust is probably from the Eastern Empire, where the finest sculptors of the time worked.

According to sketchy museum information, the “impressive portrait of a high ranking private citizen was carved during the late Hadrianic or early Antonine periods, sometime around the first half of the second century.

“The head was once inserted into a monumental standing figure. The workmanship is exquisite.”

There are no restorations or repairs.

The museum will unveil the gift at the time of its choosing, which we hope to relay to you at milwaukeeworld.com,. your source of art news. It will likely be placed near the headless torso of a similar era.

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