Michael Horne
The Roundup

When the Wealthy Serve

By - Feb 25th, 2005 08:00 am

In the interest of good government, the State of Wisconsin requires a number of its employees to file an annual Statement of Economic Interests outlining, in broad ranges, financial investments they hold that may put them in a potential conflict-of-interest in the performance of their duties.

Other questions ask about employment, outside sources of income, honoraria, businesses, income-producing real estate and organizations in which the employee or family member is an officer of director.

Usually these statements report little if anything, since many government employees are career workers, and have few assets other than government pensions.

Things change somewhat when the employees come from the private sector, especially at cabinet level, where there is a larger chance that the employee might have stock or other investments. Best still is when the employee comes from a family company, like Trek Bicycle, thanks to potentially complicated ownership situations, including trusts and holding companies.

In fact, the government disclosure requirements have been cited in the past as discouraging some private citizens from taking on a government job.

Not so, however, for Mary P. Burke, Governor Doyle’s new Secretary of Commerce.

Burke came to the Capitol from Trek Bicycle Corporation, which her father founded and her brother heads.

Her statement was filed on January 28th , and includes an insight into her financial situation.

From it we learn that she holds stocks and/or bonds in Trek Bicycle Corporation and Roth Distributing Company, to the extent of more than $50,000 in each company. She also holds more than $50,000 in U.S. Treasury Bills.

She may own a home – the reporting requirements exclude primary residences, but has no other real estate.

She owes more than $50,000 apiece to Bank One and Burke Investments in Milwaukee. The latter is apparently a family holding company. She owes another $50,000 to Anchor Bank in Madison.

Her other debt is one that makes researching these reports so much fun – she owes less than $50,000 to “BMW,” which leads us to think it’s time for a new Beemer.

She made more than $1,000 working at Trek Bicycle Corporation last year, and also picked up $1,000 or more last year from an individual named Vincent Palumbo of Annapolis, Maryland.

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County reimbursed her for $500 in expenses last year.

Burke is also active in the community, serving as Director of Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, WI, Inacom, Madison, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Madison (“Director / President”), and Bicycle Supplier Products Association.

She is also a director of the Maple Bluff Country Club of Madison, which is located down the road from the Governor’s Mansion.

Welcome to the public eye!

That Irish Alderman

A number of supporters of Ald. Bob Donovan gathered with him at a favorite south side bar for a fundraiser recently and he told the tale of a constituent who had cornered him.

She addressed him as “Mr. Irish Alderman,” he said, and listed a litany of complaints about poor municipal services. Of course, her property taxes were too high, bureaucrats were lazy, politicians were worse, and in fact, she would just meet her Mr. Irish Alderman in person at City Hall where she could give him a piece of her mind.

What a crank!

“Sure enough,” Donovan said he told her. “Just ask for Alderman Mike McGee.”

Casino Gaming Timeline

Atty Stephen L. Morgan of Murphy Desmond SC, Madison, sharpened his pencil and drafted a brief for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the never-ending saga of Dairyland Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Doyle.

Dairyland wants the Supreme Court to declare the casino gaming compacts between the State and sovereign Indian nations invalid since they are unconstitutional.

In fact, he cites the 1990 opinion of Attorney General Donald Hanaway, the lead compact negotiator for the State charged with implementing a 1987 amendment authorizing a state-run lottery. He said that “casino gambling could not be included in the compacts,” according to the brief.

By 1991, James Doyle was Attorney General and on his road to becoming Governor, where his actions led to the explosion of casino-type gambling in Wisconsin. According to the brief, Doyle “opined that the Lottery Board was authorized to allow any form of state-operated gambling, including casino gambling.”

According to the brief, “He ignored any evidence of the intent of the 1987 Amendment, and focused instead on semantics.”

And proceeded to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Tribes during his gubernatorial run.

There you have it, minus several thousand details and nuances which the Supreme Court will thoughtfully deliberate on the merits and without any consideration of the hundreds of millions of dollars of Indian gaming money that Doyle has used to prop up the unbalanced –to-the-point-of-tottering budget that one could say he inherited from the Thompson-McCallum administration.

The brief, dated February 10, concludes, “It is critically important to the integrity of our system of government that the Governor, as the state’s chief executive officer, be required to follow the law. On the issue of gaming compacts, he has not been doing so.”

See for yourself! Excerpts from the brief link here. (Large PDF)

Churches Face Roof Woes

A church is more than just a building; it is its members. But, then again, a church is also a building, as three east side churches are aware. St. Casimir’s, Holy Rosary and St. Hedwig’s Catholic Churches all are in need of new roofs or roof accessories, like steeples and bells.

Rev. Jerry Hessel, the pastor of Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish, which includes St. Casimir’s, says his 110-year old asphalt roof is shot and can no longer be patched. It would be replaced with an asphalt shingle roof with a 50 year guarantee. The roof starts 90 feet above the street and goes up from there. “You can’t use ladders. You need booms,” the reverend explained. The project will cost $200,000.

Fundraising is underway, including a “Raise the Roof” event at the Lakefront Brewery on March 6th from 1 – 6 p.m. There will be food, craft, arts and other vendors, with specials on Lakefront products. The admission is only $5.

Rev. Hessel has the easy job. He says St. Mary Czestochowa, the other component of his ecclesiastic realm, has a roof that is in fine shape.

Jim Klisch, the former cop who has returned to work at his brother’s brewery after a sabbatical as a Milwaukee Street Ambassador, is promoting the event for his neighborhood church. He says he hopes there will also be enough money raised to illuminate the steeple, much as has been done to great effect at St. Hedwig’s Church, which brings us to Rev. Tim Kitzke, who has not one, but two defective roofs on his hands, not to mention a rotting steeple in his parking lot.

The steeple comes from Holy Rosary Church, which, with Hedwig’s and St. Rita’s is a part of Three Holy Women Parish.

Inspectors noted that the wooden steeple of the church, on N. Oakland Ave., was rotted, and the parish hired a contractor to remove the steeple, pending repairs. That done, the city notified the parish that it may be subject to fines for not getting proper permitting for the move at the historic structure.

The last thing the man of God wanted was to have an act of God topple the steeple on his innocent parishioners, he said. Somebody could get hurt, and hospital visits and funerals eat up enough of a priest’s time as it is.

Kitzke was at Vucciria for the birthday celebration of co-owner Joe Megna. Ald. Mike D’Amato was also at the club on February 24th , and he and the priest had a little conversation about the bureaucratic snafu, which had received coverage at the hand of Whitney Gould in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

It appears that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved, judging from the alderman’s comments.

Still, Holy Rosary has to raise $125,000 to fix the steeple, and take care of other projects. As a poor, immigrant Irish parish, Holy Rosary lacked some of the bells and whistles of a late 19^th century church, and is practically Methodist in its austerity compared to its Polish cousins Hedwig and Casimir.

For instance, Holy Rosary’s steeple had provision for, but never included, a clock and a bell. This might be a chance to outfit the thing properly.

The perfect bell(s) for the tower are two that were salvaged from the old Notre Dame Convent, which is now Convent Hill housing, soon to be demolished. They are still on the site in a little brick structure made of the 1850 convent’s original bricks and slate. They date to the 1860’s; one was cast in Milwaukee. You can ring them yourself, if you’d like. They should be put back into service, especially considering that they were Catholic bells to begin with. Father Tim says he digs the idea.

Rev. Kitzke’s other roof problem is the biggest of them all – the nearly 120-year old copper topper of St. Hedwig’s, the muscular brick church that dominates the intersection of E. Brady Street and N. Humboldt Ave.

Hedwig got a patch job a couple of years ago, mostly gutter and downspout stuff, but the whole thing will have to be replaced at a cost of $400,000, Rev. Kitzke said.

He only has to raise forty million pennies.

Election Commission Head Named

Sharon Robinson has been appointed to head the Milwaukee Election Commission. Mayor Barrett has asked Common Council President Willie Hines to hold a special Common Council meeting on Tuesday for the purpose of confirming Robinson in the position vacated by Lisa Artison this week.

The special meeting will require a 3/4 vote of the Council to pass.

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