TCD’s week in review (6/22/12)
Controversy in numbers surrounds the Milwaukee Police Department, the Estabrook Park beer garden holds its grand opening and #VOTEMILLERPARK floods ESPN.com.
We were pretty excited about the possibility of Milwaukee County opening its first public beer garden since prohibition when the idea was brought forward in January. On Wednesday evening, The Estabrook Park beer garden held a successful grand opening celebration complete with steins of Hofbräu along with soft pretzels, brats and live music. The beer garden will be open from noon to 9 p.m. every day from now until the end of September. There is financial benefit in this as well, as Milwaukee County receives a 20 percent commission on beer sales and 10 percent on food sales. Tararrel!
2. Battleground: Fox Valley
Finally, someone is noticing the importance of the Fox Valley in statewide elections. The candidate that has carried the Fox Valley not only won the recent gubernatorial recall election, but the 2010 gubernatorial election (Walker), the 2010 senate election (Johnson), the 2008 presidential election (Obama), the 2006 senate election (Kohl), the 2006 referendum to ban same-sex marriage and the 2006 gubernatorial election (Doyle, though technically more of a split, as Doyle won in Winnebago and Outagamie counties, while Republican Mark Green won in Fond du Lac and Calumet counties).
Madison congresswoman and Democratic candidate for senate Tammy Baldwin’s first statewide campaign ad in her bid for Herb Kohl’s senate seat is specifically directed at Fox Valley voters by addressing paper and manufacturing industries, a major economic engine in the region. Baldwin trails GOP frontrunner Tommy Thompson in the latest Marquette University Law Poll 49 percent to 41 percent.
3. Pewaukee’s Best
People in the sports world of my hometown have been doing great things. Pewaukee native and Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt held the 2nd Annual 5K Run/Walk last Saturday, June 16, in “downtown” Pewaukee in his continued efforts to raise funds for after-school athletics and to encourage people to “Dream Big, Work Hard” (#DBWH).
Also in P-Town, varsity basketball coach Tim Reuter has resigned after a 30-year career as the program’s Top Pirate. The job Coach Reuter did leading the 2001 Pirates to an undefeated regular season (in a loaded Parkland Conference that featured former Badgers guard/forward Ray Nixon of Dominican and current New York Knicks forward Steve Novak of Brown Deer) and the school’s only state championship appearance remains one of the most impressive coaching jobs I’ve ever witnessed in any sport on any level.
4. The Best Fans in Baseball
Miller Park has been crushing the competition in ESPN.com’s “Battle of the Ballparks.” Despite entering the competition as a 24 seed (EAST COAST BIAS! EAST COAST BIAS!), the best fans in baseball have #VOTEMILLERPARK-ed The Keg into the final four, where it currently leads Baltimore’s Camden Yards by several thousand votes. Brewer fans: keep voting until those East Coast hacks drown in our Stadium Sauce. Clear history, vote, tweet, repeat. (UPDATE: Camden Yards has been vanquished, and now Miller Park is onto the Finals against San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Keep voting, Brewer Nation!)
5. Mayoral Challenge Accepted
New York Mayor and extra-large soda opponent Michael Bloomberg issued the Mayor’s Challenge, “a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.” The challenge was then accepted by Mayor Tom Barrett. Discussion surrounding the challenge stemmed from Monday night’s “Envisioning the Seen” discussion at the Pabst Theater. The winning city receives $5 million to put toward a “big idea,” and applications are due on Sept. 14.
1. Weather whiners
Since the intensity of the heat wave has subsided, Milwaukee evidently has not morphed into a torrid hellscape for all of eternity. Summer Solstice Music Festival and Lebowski Fest are this weekend, and the weather looks pretty amazing. It’s Summer in Milwaukee—where else would you rather be?
2. The UW System
The “Leaders and Laggards” college and university report card was issued on Tuesday of this week, and the Badger State did not fare well. In fact, the state ranked 30th in the nation, and was second-lowest of all Big Ten states in the Journal Sentinel‘s analysis, ahead of only Nebraska. In related news, UW System regents recently approved a 5.5 percent tuition hike, making 2012 the sixth consecutive year that tuition in Wisconsin has increased.
3. Racial bias in the City of Milwaukee
On Juneteenth Day, The Milwaukee NAACP filed a federal discrimination complaint with the City of Milwaukee, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the way the city awards contracts to minority firms. NAACP President James Hall said, “While the city spent approximately $82 million for construction from 2005 through 2008, less than $2.5 million went to African American-owned emerging business enterprises.” (Editor’s note: See TCD‘s Jan. 30 interview with James Hall.)
4. The numbers game
A storm of controversy continues to surround the Milwaukee Police Department in the wake of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s May 22 Watchdog report that says the MPD misreported hundreds of assault cases since 2009. Both the report and the newspaper have been met with stark criticism, and many have called for an external audit of the department’s numbers. While testifying before the to the Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday, June 21, Police Chief Ed Flynn presented the department’s internal audit, which indicated that more than 5,300 violent assaults have been misreported since 2006. Ben Poston of the Journal Sentinel, who wrote the initial report, said this number is 10 times higher than the acceptable error rate. Finding the truth in the city’s crime numbers is of the utmost importance, but I worry that this fascinatingly nuanced discussion is clouding what is perhaps the larger question when it comes to crime in Milwaukee—can statistics truly reflect whether or not Milwaukee is becoming a safer city? Is Milwaukee a safe city? And to what extent is violent crime at the core of many of the problems the city faces?
5. Endless election season
Republican State Senator Van Wanggaard requested a recount in the recall election in which he was defeated by Democrat John Lehman by less than 1,000 votes. The recount began Wednesday and the margin remained essentially identical after the first day. Republicans and Democrats are upset for exactly the reason’s you’d expect, and the recount is expected to last until July 2. Unless Kathy Nickolaus is somehow lurking around, a different outcome is not expected.