Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Four May Run for Richards’ Assembly Seat

The biggest name: sources say county board chair Marina Dimitrijevic is preparing to run.

By - Oct 30th, 2013 10:01 am
State Representative Jon Richards

State Representative Jon Richards

Four people are considering a bid to replace the departing Milwaukee Democrat Jon Richards in his 19th District assembly seat, according to three of the  potential candidates themselves.

Sara J. Geenen, [U Wisconsin Law ’06] an attorney with the Previant Law Firm, tells Urban Milwaukee she plans to seek the seat in the Democratic Primary, to be held August 12th, 2014. With an 80 per cent democrat tilt in the district, the primary winner will almost certainly be chosen in the general election of November 4th, 2014.

D. “Dan” Morgan Adams, [U Wisconsin Law ’07] a former prosecutor in Milwaukee and in Nevada, and now a criminal defense attorney, also tells Urban Milwaukee he is considering running.

A third candidate emerges from a Facebook page called, “Draft Jason Rae for State Assembly,” which urges the Nation Consulting executive and Democratic National Committee member to run for the open seat. Rae tells Urban Milwaukee:

“I just was made aware of that page recently. Since Jon’s announcement [that he plans to run for Attorney General], I’ve been encouraged by several people to consider running and am looking very seriously at it right now.”

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.

Finally, there is Marina Dimitrijevic, the Milwaukee County Board Chair who has deflected Urban Milwaukee’s questions as to whether she plans to run.

However, numerous sources contacted by Urban Milwaukee say they expect an imminent announcement from Dimitrijevic. “She’s talked to all of the power brokers,” one said. (Meanwhile, she has been quieter and far less combative with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele during this year’s budget discussions.)

So, let’s count her in. How many more will there be? We’ll find out on April 15th, 2014, when candidates may begin circulating nominating papers.

Baldwin Campaign Head to Run Texas Governor Bid

Karin Johanson, who led Tammy Baldwin‘s successful campaign for Senate in 2012, is headed to Fort Worth, Texas to run the gubernatorial campaign of Wendy Davis, a Democrat who hopes to be the first of her party to win a statewide seat in the Lone Star State since 1994. Johanson is a former staffer for Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer. From 2007 to 2011 she was a principal of the Dewey Square Group, a political consulting firm in Washington. She rejoined the firm after the Baldwin election, and apparently will leave it again to run this gig.

In 2006, she helped Rahm Immanuel, then a member of Congress, as the Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where she “designed the largest congressional voter turnout operation in history, an $11.5 million effort covering 36 congressional districts,” according to her web bio.

NML to Raze Downtown Building

795 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Michael Horne.

795 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Michael Horne.

Northwestern Mutual Life took out a permit on October 21st, for the demolition of the monolithic, two-story, windowless building at 795 N. Van Buren St., at the southwest corner of E. Wells St. The insurance giant bought the building for $1,000,000 in 2002 and apparently ran some sort of data center inside it.

The 15,950 square foot building was constructed in 1960 for the Arthur Andersen accounting company on a prominent 22,649 square foot corner. Its lower floor is featureless brown brick, enlivened only with a sign announcing its address. A pile of rocks in a raised concrete bed, devoid of vegetation and incongruously surrounded by fertile bark mulch provides the only landscaping. The inorganic – organic apposition also provides a remotely oriental yin-yanginess to the parcel. The top floor of the symmetrical structure, like the first, consists of a windowless expanse, this one white, and extending to the property line. The building originally had a windowed courtyard where the accountants could get a little natural light, but Google maps show this to have been covered over at one point. John Gardner, a public relations executive at NML, says he will get back with the firm’s plans for the site after consulting with some traveling colleagues who are in the know.

A pile of rocks in a brick bed at 795 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Michael Horne.

A pile of rocks in a raised concrete bed at 795 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Michael Horne.

There are already 55 surface parking spots on the property. Are there soon to be more?

The land is valued at $906,000, or about 8 times that of the $115,000 in improvements that are soon to be demolished. The total assessed value of the property is $1,021,000. Taxes are $30,028.44 and are paid in full by Mitchell, Inc., an NML subsidiary located on the 16th floor of 720 E. Wisconsin Ave., a building itself that is scheduled for demolition for construction of the financial services giant’s new skyscraper.

John Gardner’s response to Urban Milwaukee’s request for more information:

“Per your inquiry, The structure at 795 N. Van Buren St. will be demolished in 2014. It has been empty for some time and we do not have any plans to use it given significant deferred maintenance.

Our long-term plan for the property has yet to be determined, but we’ll retain it as part of our investments. The site is part of Northwestern Mutual’s general investment account, which includes approximately $5.8 billion in real estate equities that we manage to create long-term value for our policyowners and build on our financial strength.”

Gokhman Property in Sheriff Sale

Property of Gene Gokhman is to be sold by the Sheriff on November 4th, consisting of about $700,000 in real estate near and along N. Holton St. Gokhman and his affiliates own properties at 2035-7 N. Holton St. assessed at $168,000, a building at 2043 N. Holton St. assessed at $168,100 and another at 323-325 E. Garfield Ave. assessed at $300,000. The properties secure a mortgage held by Waterstone Bank, which made a number of unsound loans after reinventing itself from the reputable Wauwatosa State Bank into a publicly traded firm.

Red Arrow: Unicycles Ok, Bike Polo Still No-Go

On a number of occasions, the world champion Milwaukee Bicycle Polo Club practiced and played matches during the summer at the unused skating rink at Red Arrow Park. The games went on without incident, but were halted by the county, citing never-documented fears that the rubber-tired vehicles might somehow damage the surface and underpinnings of the rink.

Then-County Executive Scott Walker, never a fan of bicycle sports, turned a deaf ear to repeated requests to permit this harmless and highly attractive sport from being conducted in the public eye. Sheriff David Clarke, never a fan of anything except himself, kept his department on an almost comical pursuit of the polo players, a dozen of whom he jailed briefly for practicing in the doomed O’Donnell Park[ing Garage]. Eventually a decision was made to make some tennis courts available for the team at Washington Park, some miles from downtown.

Imagine my surprise when I read an October 18th Journal Sentinel article by Meg Jones entitled, “Growing Popularity of Unicycles Rolls on With MSOE Club’s Help.”

“The ice rink is the perfect meeting spot for the group, said [club founder Jeff] Hanson, because it’s close to the MSOE campus with level pavement and an iron railing for newbies to hang on while learning to ride.”

The group meets Tuesdays at 5 pm, and Thursdays from noon to 2.

Jake Newborn, a Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin employee and member of the Milwaukee bike polo team, says the county has softened its stance against the use of the Red Arrow rink by bicyclists since the Walker reign. But he says, unlike the unicyclists, who get the use of the rink for free, the county insists on a “hefty payment” from the polo players were they to use the rink.

“Also, we would have to clean the tire marks off the surface,” he said, another stipulation that does not apply to the unicyclists.

The county should drop its silly requirements, and encourage the use of the rink during non-skating months. Plans are now underway for a remodeling of the Starbucks cafe at Red Arrow, and have been received for review by the city from the firm’s architects. That’s good. But the place can look deserted in warm months and bike polo would provide some activity and excitement.

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