Michael Horne
The Roundup

Buffett Tour on Hold

By - Jun 27th, 2005 12:00 pm

“Spirit – The Seventh Fire,” a touring production by Milwaukee composer Peter Buffett has been put on hiatus after a five-week tour of Philadelphia, where it was to have played until July 4th.

The show’s Boston tour, which was to have begun July 9th at the T. D. Bankworth Garden [the new name, as of July 1st of the Fleet Center] was cancelled, although producers say the city will be on the tour when it resumes.

According to a June 28th press release at http://www.spirit7thfire.com/news.htm#hiatus,

“Testing Spirit in one of the largest U.S. markets was an invaluable learning experience, one which brought to light the necessity to make additional changes in order to position Spirit’s long term success in cities nationwide and across the globe. Producers are completely confident in the merits of the show, supported by thousands of fans and universal critical acclaim, and will apply the knowledge learned in Philadelphia to bring back Spirit – The Seventh Fire in its best incarnation yet.”

Spirit was launched in spring, 2004 and played in Omaha, Milwaukee, and Louisville. The Omaha performances were particularly poignant for Buffett, for they came at the time of the death of his mother, Susan Thompson Buffett, wife of financier Warren Buffett.

Efforts to reach Peter Buffet were not immediately successful.

Watermark Restaurant Closes

Watermark Restaurant, 1716 N. Arlington Pl. has closed. According to staff members, Saturday, June 25th was the last day of business for Mark Weber’s seafood restaurant.

The critically acclaimed restaurant had recently begun a Sunday brunch menu, but on Sunday morning, the restaurant was closed.

The restaurant space will be taken over by Mike Eitel, co-operator of the Hi-Hat Lounge and Hi-Hat Garage, just across the street from Watermark. According to an Eitel spokesperson, it would be premature to release any details at this time, as a lease has not yet been signed for the space. Eitel said he would have a comment next week.

The restaurant is part of the Passeggio, a retail center built in 1997 by Julilly W. Kohler, whose business involvement with Eitel goes back to the opening of the Nomad Lounge ten years ago. Eitel continues to own the Nomad, as well as the Trocadero.

She and Eitel were at a fundraiser last week for Ald. Michael S. D’Amato during which they were engaged in a very serious conversation, most likely on this very topic.

It could not be determined at this time what the plans are for Chef Weber.

Colón a Pain for Carpenter?

What began as a battle of press releases may be brewing into a primary battle between democrats Rep. Pedro Colón and Sen. Tim Carpenter for Carpenter’s 3rd district seat.

The rift between the two began on April 14th when Colón issued a press release chiding Carpenter for supporting republican-supported voter ID legislation.

Carpenter fired back with a press release of his own (see link) accusing Colón of “not even showing up to vote” on the bill. [Colón paired his vote agains with another absent legislator’s vote for the measure; a common practice.]

Then, on Monday June 27th , at Mo’s Cucina, Governor Jim Doyle hinted at Senatorial aspirations for Colón in a stump speech at a fundraiser for the representative.

“Pedro Colón is an emerging leader,” the governor said. “In fact he has emerged as a leader, and I wish him success in the assembly, and who knows? – perhaps in another office.”

The crowd chuckled at that one. Among the attendees were Tom Gale, fresh from a sail on the Denis Sullivan, Mike Guerin, his son Eamon Guerin, Ricardo Diaz, John Finerty, Sen. Lena Taylor, Rep. Barb Toles and others too numerous to mention, including Sen. Carpenter himself, who arrived in shorts and a polo shirt.

“Looks like Carpenter has adopted your dress code,” the suited Colón said to this reporter, who was also in beachwear.

“Looks like you’ll be running against him,” the reporter responded.

Quien sabe?


Columbia St. Mary’s Expansion Plans

A crowd of 150 gathered under a tent in Water Tower Park under a sweltering sky Tuesday, June 28th for a presentation announcing details of the long-awaited new facility for Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital.

The new $417 million Columbia St. Mary’s Lake Drive Hospital will include a 670,000 square foot core facility, two medical office buildings comprising 215,000 square feet and parking for 1,800 vehicles in three structures.

The cost of the latter element led Leo P. Brideau, President / CEO of Columbia St. Mary’s, Inc. to half-joke that people should use mass transit. “Parking structures are very expensive,” he said.

The facility will integrate the Columbia Campus, 2925 E. Newport Ave. and the Milwaukee Campus, 2323 N. Lake Drive into a single facility at a prominent location consisting of 20 acres at E. North Avenue, N. Prospect Avenue and N. Lake Drive. Both hospitals will remain open during the construction, which is expected to begin this fall and continue into 2010. The existing 1909 East Facility at the northeast corner of North Avenue and Lake Drive will be renovated, and the West, or “Cloverleaf” Facility on Lake Drive will also be renovated as part of the plans.

According to Brideau, the new facility will be a bargain. Its cost will be amortized over 30 years at 4 per cent, with annual debt service at $17 million. However, technological and other improvements, along with the consolidation of facilities will save the hospital some $20 million.

The new hospital will contain numerous technological improvements for both staff , patients and visitors. The hospital is working with The Center for Health Design, and is one of 19 hospitals in the nation to participate in the group’s “Pebble Project” to better design health care facilities to make a “difference in the quality, care and financial performance of the institution.”

The hospital will feature single rooms, and will allow patients to control their lighting, temperature and food; allow easy access to patient medical information; permit relatives to stay over in the hospital and to cook for them; and provide access to nature, along with views of Lake Michigan from patient rooms.

The event was attended by a contingent of the local press and interested citizens. Front row seats were reserved for such worthies as Daniel “Jack” McKeithan, Linda Mellowes and Polly Van Dyke, dressed in a stunning chartreuse suit and wearing, of course, sensible shoes and what looked like a hand-embroidered hand bag.

Mayor Barrett was also in attendance at the event, as was Ald. Michael S. D’Amato and County Supervisor Gerry Broderick along with the East Side neighborhood’s Jim Plaisted. Neighbor Jim Ollrogge also popped in for a look.

For more information go to www.columbia-stmarys.org

Midwest Airlines Center to Expaned (Its Parking Lot)

The Midwest Airlines Center wants to expand – its surface parking lot. The Wisconsin Center District has asked the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow it to continue operating a surface parking lot immediately north of the convention hall and to allow it to add 86 more surface parking spots on the site, between N. 4th and N. 6th streets, and south of W. Kilbourn Avenue. The site currently contains a parking lot and greenspace in land reserved for the expansion and ultimate completion of the facility, which apparently is not on the horizon any time soon. Surface parking in a downtown environment is hardly the highest and best use of real estate, but that is what we are facing.

Mass for the Shut Outs

A rich man apparently has a better chance of getting into heaven than a Polish widow has of getting into mass, as a scene from Sunday’s Polish Fest (“America’s Largest Polish Festival”) shows.

As usual, festival organizers scheduled a religious procession through the Henry W. Maier Festival Park at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, with a mass to follow at 10:30 a.m.

What actually followed was “mass” confusion, since those who skipped the procession found themselves barred from the mass – even though they arrived before 10:30 a.m. Potential worshippers found themselves facing a closed gate when they showed up. Officials would not relent, even for some elderly women who never, ever miss mass. Instead, an angry crowd of about 20 remained outside the gates of the mass for an hour and a half, until the grounds opened for general Polish Fest admission. One angry would-be mass-goer used his cellular telephone to call Channel 12 about the outrage, and a driver came by with a camera to record the scene, although apparently it was only briefly mentioned. So, the next time a festival organizer tells you a processional is a prerequisite to worship – you show up on time and March! Understood?

Groundbreaking News: Ogden Lofts Underway

601 Lofts

601 Lofts

A parking lot at the southeast corner of N. Jackson St. E. Ogden Avenue is being returned to a populated state with the construction of the 601 Ogden Lofts, which is to be a ten story condominium residential and commercial building. The groundbreaking was held /en pleine aire / Monday noon with representatives of Key Bridge Development Group, Eppstein Uhen Architects, E. G. Beyer Construction Co., Stefaniak Realty and a number of condo owners present on the sweltering asphalt swath, long the parking lot of the former John Ernst Café.

Commissioner Rocky Marcoux gave an impassioned speech to the crowd, informing them that “fifteen years ago you couldn’t get anybody to even build a dog house here – just a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan and downtown.” Now, thousands of outsiders have returned to the city, or are moving there for the first time, and the convenience of the proposed location has found half the building’s units, or about 40, already sold, according to Ald. Michael D’Amato, who was present at the event in a sharp gray suit that could hardly have been comfortable.

Scott Fergus, the developer, busily arranged to have photographs taken of the dignitaries in attendance, the construction crews, the architects, condo buyers and possibly strangers walking down the street.

All posed with yellow hardhats and shovels. A giant construction crane peeled off a layer of asphalt so the diggers could get at the easy-to-shovel gravel bed. (“Hey, you just dug up Henry Maier’s parking spot,” I yelled at the operator. This got a lot of laughs from Marcoux and Co. for reasons oldtimers will remember.)

Ald. D’Amato has got a dozen groundbreaking shovels in his collection from past events, but they are mostly standard issue fare spray painted gold. These were nine silver (actually stainless steel with mirror finish) shovels and they cost $100 each. Nobody got to take one home.

Where Was the Mayor?

At the groundbreaking for the 601 Ogden Lofts, Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux explained that the mayor had been unable to make the event, and then proceeded to deliver the Mayor’s usual rap about what an exciting world-class city Milwaukee is and is becoming. But where was the mayor? Was he out in Washington, exercising his tremendous sway with congress and the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

Not really – he didn’t have to go nearly as far as the Nation’s Capital. Instead he was luncheoning at La Fuente with Marty Schreiber, the former acting governor who lost one bid for that office, and another for Mayor of Milwaukee in 1988. [I mention this for a reason, and you will see why in a moment.]

Schreiber is now the lobbyist for the Forest County Potawatomi, and there is a chance he and the Mayor were discussing plans for the casino to move downtown. The two dined alone, and I could not determine who picked up the tab, but we assume it could not have been Marty for ethics reasons.

Meanwhile, in the same restaurant, Journal Sentinel columnists Spivak and Bice were dining with former Ald. Fred Gordon whom they had tarred in their Sunday column with the stigma of being a politician who lost a race, one of their common themes. What’s a man to do?

Apparently for the Spice Boys, all politicians in office are lazy bums collecting a paycheck for doing nothing; once they’re out of office and employed, they’re simply grafters exploiting inside connections for private interests.

Perhaps they’d be happy if we simply shot politicians at the end of their terms. Gordon wasn’t angered at the content of the Spivak and Bice story, but was disappointed that the dining duo did not use his best quote. Explaining his absence from private or public affairs recently he said, “I was being incognegro.”

The Mayor and Marty left the restaurant ahead of Spivak and Bice, who apparently were unaware that the great men were indeed in the same building.

Building Set for Marshall: Sixteen Condos to Break Ground in July

The Inland Companies, a large development firm known for office parks and other suburbish developments, is planning to construct six condominium units at the southwest corner of E. Brady Street and N. Marshall Street, on the site of a home that burned in a spectacular fire in the late ‘80’s. An existing frame structure south of the property will be razed around July 6th , and its lot will be incorporated into the project. Alderman Michael D’Amato says that under the new zoning code, the building is a conforming use and does not require any special meetings or review process for its construction.

New Aide for D’Amato: Rowen is Grandson of Presidential Candidate

Ald. Michael D’Amato has hired Sam McGovern-Rowen as his new legislative assistant, replacing Crystal Graf, who married and moved out of state. Rowen, 29, has a degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin and is the son of James Rowen, a former reporter and Chief of Staff in the Norquist administration, and Susan McGovern, both of Milwaukee. Her father, George S. McGovern, was a United States Senator from South Dakota, and candidate for President on the Democratic ticket in 1972.

Susan McGovern says her father remains active and will be in Milwaukee in September for an event, which Sam says, “will be one of those global peace things with a long name.” The name is the Global Campaign to “Make Poverty History,” and it will be September 10th at a location to be announced.

Rowen is married to Maureen, a Milwaukee Public School teacher at Fritchie Middle School. They live on the east side.

Press Sec’y to Wed: Orig Chooses SBC Lobbyist

Carlene Orig, press secretary to Mayor Tom Barrett, is set to marry Buddy Julius, the Director of Government Affairs for SBC Wisconsin on September 3rd , 2005 at Old St. Mary’s church. This close tie to City government should be noted.

Buddy Julius, Director of Government Relations SBC-Wisconsin

Buddy Julius, Director of Government Relations SBC-Wisconsin

SBC spent nearly $600,000 lobbying the State of Wisconsin during the 2003-2004 reporting period, according to reports filed with the state Ethics Board, and the firm has traditionally had ties to City government as well.

Jeff Bentoff, press secretary in the Norquist administration, left that post and went to SBC, where he remains.

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, SBC and other telecoms have lobbied extensively to prohibit governments from constructing their own broadband access, even in those communities where the communications firms have no immediate plans to provide broadband. This would include Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin.

The firms are relying on their broadband revenues to replace the rapidly-shrinking income from traditional telecommunications services. Meanwhile, the United States is now thirteenth in the world for broadband access, and plans for Milwaukee languish.

Those who have an interest in promulgating community broadband in Milwaukee will take note of the impending nuptials.

Pennywise to Close

The Pennywise Resale shop downtown is set to close, and the already-cheap merchandise there has been further discounted. The store at 626 N. Broadway has been operated by the Junior League of Milwaukee for about 40 years, and is a delightful place to find knickknacks and clothing that originated in finer homes than yours.

Indeed, were it not for the Pennywise shop, milwaukeeworld’s collection of University School trivets, Milwaukee Country Club coffee mugs and Lilly Pulitzer sundresses would not have attained the breadth and scope it has attained over the years.The last regular day of business will be Thursday. The shop will open for a couple of weekends in July to clear out the last of the stuff. Plans for the building are unknown at this time; the Junior League has no plans to continue in the rag trade, but there is no question that the ladies will be up to something for the public good, God spare us. Salve!

Karl Strauss Banquet

The Hall of Presidents of the Pfister Hotel was the site of a recreation of the “Pabst Quarter Century Club” banquet originally held in the selfsame location on March 11, 1978.

The event, held Sunday, June 26th , 2005, was called the First Karl Strauss Award Dinner, and was named in honor of a gentleman who was in attendance at the original banquet – as he was on Sunday, when he received the very first Karl Strauss award, named for himself, and presented to the 92-year-old in honor of his lifetime accomplishments in brewing.

The tribute was sponsored as a benefit for the proposed museum of Beer and Brewing, of which he is a chartered incorporator.

Strauss is a living legend in the brewing industry. Born in Germany in 1912 to a brewery owner, Strauss studied in his native land before coming to Milwaukee in 1939 where he was employed at the Pabst Brewery in a menial job. His rise through the ranks at the brewery was rapid, and eventually spent 23 years as vice president of production.

Upon retiring at 71 in 1983, Strauss began a second career as a consultant, eventually advising over 50 pubs and microbreweries he designed, including, not coincidentally, the Karl Strauss brewery of San Diego, a $25 million business founded by a cousin, Chris Cramer.

A number of friends and brewery aficionados were on hand to pay tribute to Strauss, who was frail, yet alert. Frank deGuire, former Pabst president and chairman recalled attending a series of Quarter Century Club dinners with Karl in all of the cities where Pabst once operated breweries.

Randy Sprecher, who got his start at Pabst offered his tribute to Strauss as did a number of the other worthies at the event. Among the attendees were Paul Roller, Erik Peterson, Russell Klisch, who will be on his way to Edmonton, Alberta to visit his in-laws (and to look at a brew kettle available for sale there), Fred and Nancy Gettelman and the Hon. Ted E. Wedemeyer.

The recreated menu, hardly a highlight of the evening, featured Cream of Celery Soup, salad, a Kansas City Strip Steak (no steak knife), Baked Potatoes, Glazed Baby Carrots (they could have been dowels for a cabinetry project) and Chocolate Bavarian Pie.

A special treat at each table was a bag of malted milk balls made with products from Briess Malting.

From Brew City to Capital City By Paul Snyder

Paul Snyder, a recent Marquette University Graduate, came to the attention of milwaukeeworld a couple of months ago with a clever essay on a Sinatra album he wrote for Vital as an intern. Last week, he was hired to be the Madison correspondent of the Daily Reporter newspaper, replacing Jeremy Harrell. In his first days at work he has covered an obituary and some contentious Madison legislative budget sessions. As he adjusts to life in a new city, Paul has agreed to share his experiences with the readers of milwaukeeworld.com.

This week, it appears that our hero is looking for a copy of the morning newspaper, and is looking forward to unpacking his stuff. Let’s listen in:

First Impressions

Any product of one of Milwaukee’s fine college institutions (yours truly has just been granted a degree from Marquette) looks at Madison with a certain 100 proof stigma attached. Indeed on telling former peers of my relocation to the capital, the response I got was varied… but under the same overarching subject.

“Really? I don’t know if I could live in Madison. Some of my rougher nights have been spent there,” replied one.

“Madison? Awesome. I’m crashing at your place for Halloween,” replied another.

And here I thought I was escaping the alcoholic stigma attached to my town of residence. But if anyone asks, I prefer to think of it as a case of “you can’t take the Milwaukee out of the boy” as I slurred my way through “That Thing You Do!” at the Karaoke Kid on Friday night.

Truth be told, I am still very new to the city. I spent a few weekends in the early half of this year conducting an independent study at the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives (worth a visit for buffs and those with a passing interest alike), but my walking was limited to State Street and my driving seemed to take me from one shore to another (Capitol buildings are such a bitch to drive around – they look the same from every angle). For three months, I actually thought the city was on a peninsula.

And yes, as a main street, State is cooler than Wisconsin Avenue. After all, there are no bars on Wisconsin Avenue. Plus there are no cars on State Street, which makes negotiating your way from one bar to another infinitely less dangerous. There are cop cars, though, so, on second thought…

I’ve noticed a lack of distribution of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel around these parts. There are some to be found, just not with the frequency I might expect. Madison, of course, houses the Wisconsin State Journal, which isn’t a bad paper – it’s just… let me put it this way: We get the Journal Sentinel delivered to our offices in Madison, and my co-worker grabs it for himself, devours every word and then is unwilling to share it with anyone else in the office. I mean if you can get the Chicago Tribune in New York, why can’t you at least throw a couple more Journal Sentinels this way? At least to our office?

If you haven’t heard, UW-Madison administrator Paul Barrows is under all sorts of scrutiny for having had a failed relationship with a graduate student. Bad enough as it is, I actually feel sorry for him that every news outlet has to keep ramming home the point that it was a ‘failed’ relationship. But you’ll have to forgive my cynicism (or maybe just school pride) when I felt a tinge of relief upon seeing this focus shift – Marquette’s been heckled enough over the past few months. Then again, that was a bird of a different color. I don’t need to remind you which.

At any rate, I am gainfully employed in and soon to be a licensed resident of Madison, Wisconsin (hopefully the DMV’s aren’t as insufferable here – but that could be a later entry). There’s a lot to be learned, and a lot to share with the Milwaukeeworld. The apartment here is all set up, and lest I start seeing red, I’ve got my Tom Crean and Dwyane Wade bobble heads prominently displayed as bookends in the living room. I’ll send more word soon, but first things first: I have to find a Target within 10 minutes of the apartment.

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