Michael Horne
The Roundup

Henningsen Moved

By - Mar 14th, 2005 12:00 pm

Former Milwaukee Alderman Paul Henningsen has recently been moved from in a federal prison facility in Yankton, South Dakota to a community corrections facility in Chicago. Henningsen remains in Federal custody with a scheduled release date in September, although a release may come earlier. The relocation to the community corrections facility is a step at easing the inmate’s return to society.


Mission Uncertain: What is the County Executive’s Role?

Milwaukeeworld.com likes to stay out of trouble by quoting only official information whenever possible. So when it occurred to us to wonder what County Executive Scott Walker does for a living, we thought we’d go right to the source waddled our way through the dreadful Milwaukee County website www.milwaukeecounty.org to find our answer.

We shouldn’t have bothered. Under “County Executive Mission Statement,” all we find out is “this section is currently being revised.” (See for yourself.)

County Executive's web page as of March 16, 2005

County Executive’s web page as of March 16, 2005

Scott Walker has great plans for himself in the future, apparently as long as he has nothing to do for us now.

Milwaukeeworld.com would love to hear your ideas for a Mission Statement for Scott Walker. Just mail them to horne@milwaukeeworld.com

And we will print them here!

Sentinels and Compass Establish New Direction in Public Art

Visitors to the lakefront on the weekend of March 5-6 were treated to a new permanent sculptural installation at both the upper and lower extremities of the new Brady Street pedestrian bridge. Jon Barlow Hudson, a sculptor from Yellow Springs, Ohio, spent a number of weeks in Wausau Wisconsin last summer where he hewed three monoliths – and a few pieces to spare — out of the hard red granite of north central Wisconsin.

The three, now known as the Sentinels, are now in place along the lakeshore in a specially-landscaped approach to the Brady Street Pedestrian Bridge.

The shafts, alternately highly-finished and polished, or left raw and craggy, could provide a gathering place along the lakefront, quite near the old Coast Guard Station. A curved embankment provides a natural amphitheater as well as shelter from the always-chilly easterly winds of Lake Michigan.

The monoliths are available for public approbation at this time, although it will be a few weeks until the muddy area will be suitably landscaped. This has not deterred visitors to the site.

Hudson also completed and installed another piece at the lakefront as part of his commission, this one atop the bluff at the end of Brady Street.

This sculpture, called Compass, features a large stainless steel tube that connects four granite blocks, each a couple of cubic feet in size, and each from a different type of Wausau granite in a sort of viewfinder. The artist did the stonework at the Anderson Bros. and Johnson quarry in the town of Maine in Marathon County.

The Wausau Daily Herald, in an article on the sculptor, quoted Hudson, 58, as saying, “working at the quarry was perfect. … where better to work on them [the sculptures] than at the quarry … where they came from?”

The Compass, when approached from Brady Street, frames a large part of the lake and shoreline for the viewer. The highly-polished stainless tubes of the sculpture reflect the ever-changing patterns of sky and sun. The sculpture itself traces a shadow on the ground, in sundial fashion. A poem by a relative of the artist is chiseled into the south face of the massive obelisk that holds the aperture aloft.

The work is a project of the Milwaukee County Arts Board in conjunction with the Percent for Art program that earmarks funds for arts projects to be included in public works construction. Chairman Murph Burke was not immediately available for comment.

Julilly Kohler, who has been active in promoting the many links and bridges to the Brady Street neighborhood, was enthusiastic upon seeing the sculpture in its place. “I think this will be great for spontaneous gatherings,” she said about the Sentinels, and one could easily imagine an ad hoc, al fresco rendition of Medea right on the spot. “I also think the Compass sculpture is excellent – it captures the sun, the shadow, the shape and it is a wonderful focal point, from both above and below. This is truly first class public art.”

Dean Amhaus, director of the Spirit of Milwaukee was also impressed. He saw the photos of the sculptures posted here on milwaukeeworld, and called to mention, “I drove down Lincoln Memorial Drive and immediately saw these sculptures from above and below. I think they are most interesting. I just wish I had heard more about them. I didn’t know anything until they just appeared.”

True, according to Laurie Albano, of the Parks Department, there was little mention of the project. Perhaps the county learned a lesson from the tremendous public outcry that accompanied the proposed Blue Shirt sculpture. Still, the project proceeded through the approval stages without any controversy – or notice for that matter.

According to the Daily Herald article, Hudson really liked working with Wausau granites, and it shows in the stunning effects he was able to work from the stone, including some mirror finishes that can be seen on the photographs of the project at his website. “Wausau has such wonderful local granites,” he said, proposing a symposium to publicize the stone, which was formed over a billion and a half years ago. “It’s a perfect venue for a sculpture symposium,” which may come this summer.

Although the sculptures are in place, readers may have to wait a few more weeks until conditions permit a close-up view. It is awfully muddy at the site; even so, hundreds of footprints can be seen in the mud, mute reminders of pioneer visitors to one of the finest recent public art additions in the – dare we say – country.

For more information, please visit www.hudsonsculpture.com

More on Humboldt Bridge

Milwaukeeworld.com talked with Craig Liberto the Structural Design Manager for the Department of Public Works of the City of Milwaukee. We asked about plans for the proposed new bridges on N. Humboldt Ave. One will traverse the Milwaukee River, the other will cross N. Commerce Street.

“The project is in preliminary engineering right now; we are trying to generate a vertical profile for the area before continuing engineering work,” he said.

All the work for the design of the project will be undertaken by City employees, he said.

It will not be possible to construct a bridge similar to the Sixth Street Viaduct, where two spans meet at ground level before going on their separate ways. There simply would not be sufficient clearance at N. Commerce Street and N. Riverboat Road to do so, he said.

The southernmost, or river bridge, will have a central pier with a prestressed deck, he said. “We’ll have the city architects create a façade that will mask the prestressed slab,” he said, much as was done on the nearby North Avenue Bridge, where graceful arches soften the design of the structure.

The northern, or Commerce Street bridge, is surrounded by new development of a distinctly modern bent. It will be constructed as a single slab. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the design during an eventual hearing before the Milwaukee Arts Board, which is chaired by Ald. Michael Murphy. The date for the meeting has not been set, Liberto said. “We’re just a few weeks into the design at this point,” he said. “We are looking into construction in 2007.”

New Home for Lord?

Art dealer Michael H. Lord will be losing his building at 770-772 N. Milwaukee St., but it looks like he might be keeping his gallery – and the street part of his address.

Lord has been looking at the old Lou Fritzel building with owner Peter J. Kondos, who has always had a thing for art, anyway.

The vacant building is at 733 N. Milwaukee St., less than a block from the current location Lord is losing in receivership proceedings in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Receiver Douglas Mann told milwaukeeworld that the building is being sold to satisfy claims from Heritage Investment Co. amounting to about $900,000.

According to state records, Heritage is registered to Joseph M. Bernstein of 780 N. Water Street. Bernstein has also signed checks paying some of the Lord gallery’s bills.

Kondos, a colorful member of the Milwaukee legal and arts community, bought the building at 733 N. Milwaukee St. for $155,000 in February, 1991. The 5,878 sq. ft. structure is now assessed at $67,900, and sits on a 5,880 sq. ft. lot valued at $147,100, for a total assessment of $215,000.

Even the bargain-basement assessment is insufficient inducement for Mr. Kondos to fulfill his civic obligations: Property taxes dating to 2002 are delinquent, and now total $23,262.14.

Of that amount, $2,689.44 is interest and $1,060.63 is penalty.

Lord is no stranger to delinquencies. Over $1.4 million in claims have been filed against him, especially since Lord’s 20-day jail stay last year for stealing $174,999 from a great-aunt’s estate.

Among the more interesting recent claims against Lord is one from Chihuly, Ltd., which says Lord owes the firm $219,000. This likely dates from 2001 when glass artist Dale Chihuly’s sculptures were featured at the inaugural of the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

At the same time as the opening, Lord also featured a Chihuly exhibition at his gallery, selling to such individuals as Ray Allen and Donald Baumgartner, who owns at least five of the fragile works.

Lord also handled the donation of a giant Chihuly from the exhibition as a gift to the museum, where it remains on display in the Calatrava. It was purchased by Susan Ettinger in memory of her late son.

Chihuly, Ltd. has consistently refused comment on the Lord situation and its claim against the dealer.

Without question Lord has shown enormous pluck, and apparently intends to show us even more with the potential move to the Kondos building.

But it is not only the improvidential Kondos who appears allied with Lord this time. Also seen with the two at the site on Friday, March 11, was Anthony Palermo, the River Hills-based real estate mogul and owner of the 1000 N. Water St. building in Milwaukee and also of considerable valuable real estate in Los Angeles’ chic Rodeo Drive, which would be another perfect location for Lord to open a gallery. Lotsa money in Hollywod, don’t you know! Of course the people in Los Angeles have never heard of Michael Lord, and it would take a few transactions before he could develop a reputation there.

The Tavern Car is Back, Bar Owners Tell of Woes

It was a typical 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in Milwaukee at the Y-NOT II tavern, 706 E. Lyon St. Just the bartender, a half a dozen customers (well short of the surprisingly-small capacity of 100) and two uniformed police officers scrutinizing the bar’s licenses, signage and other legal impedimenta.

It is a scene being played out all over Milwaukee recently, and it has some people — like bar owners, bartenders and bar patrons — good and upset. And the alderman is getting an earful.

Yes folks, the Tavern Car is back after a seven year absence, and tavern owners are not happy about the nit-picky inspections and the hefty fines for minor infractions that they’ve been dealing with lately.

At Fitzgibbons Pub, 1127 N. Water St., police issued a three-digit fine for an expired fire hydrant inspection certificate. Dan Fitzgibbons said he was going to issue every customer a bucket of water until he could get the extinguisher recharged. A blind man awaits a cab at bartime during a snowstorm. It was after 2 a.m. and the cab still hadn’t come — but the police had, with citations abounding.

Such stories are now common around downtown and the east side. Tavern owners, a darkly suspicious lot by birthright, are wondering why they are being targeted by this zealous police enforcement. With overcapacity fines in excess of $30,000 reported, some tavern owners question if the move is a cynical one to raise money for a cash-strapped treasury.

“The mayor is ruining our business,” some said.

In an effort to create an open dialogue on the situation, Ald. Michael D’Amato, whose district is a particular focus of police efforts, held a meeting in the Common Council chambers at 3 p.m.on Thursday, March 10.

About 100 tavern owners and operators listened to presentations by the Milwaukee Police Department and the Department of Neighborhood Services, another agency with police powers over taverns which has also been conducting extensive inspections. (a third agency with tavern police powers, the Health Department, has not been particularly active in the new round of inspections, and was not represented at the meeting.)

Sgt. Thomas Ruege of the Fifth District invited the tavern owners to meet with him and to call him with their concerns at 1 414 935-7242. He is in charge of the tavern patrol for the district and works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift.

Many of the complaints of tavern operators were due to what they perceived as artificially-low occupancy limits, which, naturally, lead to overcapacity charges.

Department of Neighborhood Services personnel handed out copies of the “Occupancy Capacity Worksheet,” a simple twelve-page checklist used to determine the occupancy of a tavern – or any other building open to the public.

What do you know? — what with worksheets for floor area, egress, plumbing fixtures, stair width, door swing, floor elevation, projections, encroachments and sprinklers it turns out calculating occupancy is a pretty subjective thing.

“In fact, it’s written into the code that the inspector can use his judgment,” a Neighborhood Services representative said helpfully, adding, “you can always make a challenge to the Standards and Appeals Commission. Of course they haven’t heard any cases in the last seven years.”

(Alderman Mike Murphy, reached later, said it’s probably a good time to review the current occupancy formula, in place since 1989.)

The Milwaukee County Hospitality Association, a chapter of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, issued a statement calling for equal inspections of all businesses on their busiest days of the year, “example a Walmart at 5:00 a.m. opening on the Friday after Thanksgiving with their Mega sales,” the Association wrote in its chargedly ungrammatical way.

The tavern league also questions the practice of police officers issuing orders for code violations, when “they have not been trained in the fire code.”

Andrea Shafton, a veteran owner of taverns in both the downtown and east side neighborhoods, and an owner of tavern buildings, wondered why the cops couldn’t be a little nicer when they do their thing.

“We try hard to do the right thing, but we don’t get respect in return. When the police come in it’s embarrassing for us, and for our customers and it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, tavern owners are wary of having too successful a day. Small taverns that would have the hardest time affording capacity fines plan to have doormen watching the customer count. Dan Fitzgibbons, with a capacity of 65, says he won’t spend the $700 on a free buffet as he ordinarily would have. If it means people won’t show up at his place, (or stick around) it’s better than, for God’s sake, exceeding capacity by even a soul.

Tony DePalma of the Y-NOT II has a more direct solution: “I’m not going to be open on St. Patrick’s Day,” he announced. “In thirty years in business I’ve been closed twice. My mother died – and I stayed open. My father died – and I stayed open. But I’m going to be closed St. Patrick’s Day. It’s what I call a customer service day, and I don’t want to turn away the customers I regularly service because the bar is filled to capacity. So I just won’t open.”

Among the attendees at the event were Michael Bondar and Paul Johnson of Wolski’s Tavern; Jim Linneman of Linneman’s Riverwest Inn; Mike Eitel, Leslie Montemurro and Scott Johnson of Trocadero, the Nomad and Hi-Hat; Carson Praefke of The Tasting Room, Julia LaLoggia of Red Room, Onopa, Barossa and other concerns; Steve Johnson of the Uptowner and Omar Gagale of Timbuktu among others too numerous to mention.

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