At it Again
Following a recent pattern that has many of us exclaiming, “this would never have happened when Henry Maier was mayor,” the Common Council’s Public Improvements committee was given exactly 24 and one-half hours notice that it would be hearing a resolution calling for the city to acquire stadium roads, parking lots and other real estate for the planned extension of W. Canal Street.
A complex plan involving the City, the Baseball District, the Brewers, the Redevelopment Authority, the State and even Imperial Parking Co. (I kid you not) was inserted into the agenda for the committee on Tuesday, February 8th at 8:30 a.m. for the regular meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 9th .
They are expected to review a “Draft Jurisdictional Transfer Agreement Regarding Miller Park Stadium Complex” that calls on the city to acquire a private street currently known as Miller Park South Access Road (Frederick Miller Way); Miller Park East Access Road (S. Selig Drive) and North Access Rd. (W. Selig Rd.). The agreement also calls for conveyances of property at 620 S. 44th Street ($180,000), part of 3601 W. Canal St., now owned by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee. It also calls for the Stadium district to acquire a Water Works parcel at 127 S. 44th St., and for the City to acquire the north stadium parking lot to replace the Water Works parcel. Some of the parcels do not even contain an estimated price, but call for simply one appraisal.
All of this, and more, based on a draft document, that as of the day before the meeting was in absurdly inchoate state.
The agreement includes sidebars and footnotes that should never have made it to a public document, draft or not.
How about this from page 5 (see image) “District wants covenants that District and Brewers will get advance notice of modif’s or improvements to road and comfort that city repair/maintenance won’t disrupt ballgames. Let’s talk about this.”
Yes, let’s. Over luncheon, my club, please.
The plan that the aldermen are to vote on also includes a transfer agreement for a portion of the north parking from the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to the City of Milwaukee, which might be a fine idea, if the Baseball Park District owned the property.
As a footnote on page 42 reads, “But, doesn’t state own north parking lot?”
Alderman Michael Murphy, the chairman of the Public Improvements Committee had nothing to say about the short notice, except that the city really needs to get this done in order to complete the expansion of W. Canal Street, as was announced six months ago.
Why wasn’t this work attended to then? What’s the big rush?
Another factor is that the state and city, in order to be in compliance with the conditions of the Marquette Interchange rebuilding, must arrange for traffic options to be in place during the reconstruction period.
It is amazing that the transfer of lands in an area historically pockmarked by competing interests and conflicting claims – lands that were famously tied up in decades of litigation—should be undertaken in such an ad hoc and haphazard way.
It is also not fair that the aldermen and the public should have their business tended to in an endless and embarrassing series of last-minute meetings and last-minute agenda additions.
You can see the entire PDF file by clicking here. [The source document is no longer on www.Miilwaukee.gov – but we snagged a copy for your amusement.]
Also, note two pages from the document posted here.
[A good follow up article is on the Story Hill web site http://www.storyhill.net/SHNAHoodHappenings.htm – Amazing how JS and others in the mainstream media have dropped the ball on covering this issue. – firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Here is the actual title of the Resolution, as taken from the city’s website:
Oh Great! Imperial Parking and the Brewers get to negotiate our public roads!
Mark Thomsen, an attorney with Cannon and Dunphy and a political confidant of Rep. Pedro Colon has been nominated by Mayor Tom Barrett to be his representative on the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District board. Thomsen will replace Gretchen Schuldt Doege, who we all know as the animating force behind the Story Hill neighborhood website and for her active opposition to freeway widening issues. The Public Improvements Committee will vote on Thomsen’s nomination Wednesday, February 9th .
Governor Jim Doyle’s annual budget speech to the legislature Tuesday, February 8th will be broadcast live statewide on Wisconsin Public Television. Diehard Doyle fans without access to television for whatever reason – for example because nobody else wants to watch Doyle – can watch the proceedings live and ad infinatum on the state’s website.
The handy link appended here will allow you to access hours and hours of Jim Doyle programming, a must for those who like to discern the subtle nuances of the Great Man’s public appearances.
Although the State Capitol lacks a red carpet for the event, speculation is already raging as to the Governor’s choice of wardrobe for the event. If past experience is any guide, the governor will be dressed in a dark blue suit with a red tie.
The website also includes a read along with Jessica Doyle and school children. Must see!
The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning has scheduled a series of lectures by the distinguished scholar, who has been much in office in this city and even once served as counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy.
Riemer failed to win victory over Walker in the most recent County Executive election, and we figure he will give it another shot.
The 3 part lecture series includes:
Feb. 9: “What Government Does…”
Feb. 16: “What Government Might Do…”
Feb. 23: “What Government Should Do…”
All three lectures begin at 7 p.m. in room 110 of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, 2131 E. Hartford Ave. The free, public series is cosponsored by the UWM Departments of Urban Planning and Architecture.
Milwaukee’s Common Council has been holding an unusual number of special committee meetings lately, and it could be a sign that things are screwed up there. For instance, special Utilities and Licenses Committee meetings, and special agenda items for those meetings pop up with dismaying frequency, often due to a tavern owner who should have known better, forgetting to renew his or her license in a timely fashion. A special U&L agenda item is in place this week for the approval of a renewal of the tavern license for Aqua in the Park East Hotel.
In early January, Ald. Robert Bauman was the only member of the Common Council to vote against a tax remission for the old Tower Automotive site. His reason? “I wanted to make a point against the special meetings that are called.
“We get notice of the meetings just in time, but with no time to study the file,” he said.
Last Tuesday, February 1st , members held a special meeting of the Finance and Personnel Committee immediately before the scheduled meeting of the Common Council.
The unprepared aldermen were asked to authorize $20,000,000 in bonds for project costs for Milwaukee’s Tax Incremental Districts, including an additional $8,000,000 for the Park East TID #48.
According to a January 24th letter from Comptroller W. Martin “Wally” Morics, C.P.A. to the committee, “the underlying cause of this overage is that contracts were entered into by representatives of the City with the State of Wisconsin for TID 48 purposes, but not recorded in the City’s financial system. The contracts and expenditures related to these contracts were therefore not checked for having adequate budgetary authority.”
Isn’t that a fine loophole, and a violation of all those principles accountants and auditors hold dear?
“My staff discovered these contracts in discussions with the State of Wisconsin in October, ” he added.
According to a November 15th , 2004 joint letter to Mr. Rocky Marcoux and to Mr. Jeffrey Mantes, the heads of the Department of City Development and the Department of Public Works, respectively, “It has come to our attention that the State is about to bill the City for approximately $7.2 million of City Share for additional Park East expenditures.”
This must have also come as a shock to Morics, who was eager to close the books for the 2004 financial year.
Pressing the matter was the accounting firm KPMG, which is the city’s auditor. “Generally accepted accounting principles will not allow 2005 budget authority to fund expenditures incurred in 2004,” Morics wrote. This left Morics with no choice but to sell city bonds.
Alderman Michael Murphy, the chairman of the Committee, has introduced legislation to ensure that in the future City representatives may not enter into contracts without the knowledge of the officials whose job it is to pay the bills.
Meanwhile, companies that do things like issue emergency $20 million bonds to cities, do not take kindly to any hint of financial ineptitude or administrative ambiguities regarding contracts. Just a hint might be enough for them to penalize the city in the form of higher interest rates.
Furthermore, the mere fact of bonding beyond what one might have expected could raise interest rates in its own right.
Shortly after the Governor gave his State of the State address, milwaukeeworld.com received some emails from the “Office of the First Lady” informing us that Mrs. Her Honor Jessica Doyle would be touring the state on behalf of education. In fact, students were invited to log in to the First Lady’s website to find out “Where is Jessica Doyle?” based on posted clues.
Instead, milwaukeeworld wondered “Where is Jessica Doyle funding the Office of the First Lady?”
We called the Governor’s office, and asked for the budget and expenditures for the Office of the First Lady.
Alas, despite the lofty title in the emails from the Governor’s office announcing the peregrinations and press availability of his spouse, the Office of First Lady does not exist.
According to Nate Zolik, the Assistant Legal Counsel to the Governor (truly a “Lawyer’s Lawyer,”) “there is no separate budget for First Lady Jessica Doyle, and … any expenditures attributable to Mrs. Doyle are not accounted for separately.”
This raises some interesting questions, since it is apparent that at least some government funds are being expended at the direction of and for the benefit of Mrs. James E. Doyle. If there is no separate budget for First Lady Jessica Doyle, then where are “any expenditures attributable to Mrs. Doyle accounted? Upon what basis is Mrs. Doyle entitled the expenditure of government funds?
Is this yet another instance of heterosexuals claiming special rights and special treatment simply because the State allows them to be legally married? Would a gay governor be permitted to allow his or her domestic associate to dash off press releases at the public’s expense?
“Where is the Governor’s Lover?”
Furthermore, why should Jessica Doyle, among all women in the state, be afforded access to a press relations staff at taxpayer expense? Many wives do wonderful things, but must toil in anonymity since taxpayers would scoff at paying money to hear about their good deeds. Could it be that Jessica Doyle’s taxpayer funded adventures are, in fact, politically motivated?
Perhaps Jessica Doyle is entitled to taxpayer funded publicity – we welcome the Governor’s arguments on this matter — but to get it merely because of her position as First Lady – an office that the State Constitution does not recognize – seems an affront to all women, and to all taxpayers in this State.
Most importantly, though, it is an insult to the Constitution of this Once Great State. Abolish the imaginary Office of First Lady! What next? Will we be expected to support a Royal Family and Court?
(Updated February 8)