Personnel File

Jeffrey Mantes

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DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

Contribution to Tom Barrett of $400

DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

Contribution to Tom Barrett of $400

DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

Contribution to Tom Barrett of $400

DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

Contribution to Tom Barrett of $400

DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

DPW Defends Pothole Filling Process

The hot topic of this committee meeting was a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article accusing the Department of Public Works (“DPW“) of having a racial bias in their handling of pothole filling.  Jeff Mantes and Jeff Polenske laid out DPW’s process in regards to pothole repair.  Explaining that they prioritize arterial roads higher than neighborhood streets because these roads impact more drivers and have greater safety concerns because of higher speeds on these roads.Alderman Joe Davis, Sr. and Alderman Ashanti Hamilton were clearly bothered by this article’s findings and let DPW know it.  Alderman Hamilton stated that “my constituents can pay taxes but can’t get their potholes fixed on time” and further made his discontent clear saying “you have lost the benefit of the doubt”.  Ironically he also pointed out that many of his districts major arterial roads have recently been rebuilt.  This was key because representatives from DPW had explained that their priorities were to repair potholes along major arterial roads first and go into the neighborhood streets later. It was evident that the research for the article didn’t take this into account and as new roads wouldn’t need pothole filling the primarily work in this district revolved around neighborhood streets which DPW had indicated were a lower priority.The committee as whole appeared to question the report’s validity and the mayor’s staff pointed out a variety of methodology flaws.  These flaws including errors that could over count requests or place requests in the wrong census track, both of which could significantly sway the outcome of the research.  These concerns prompted Alderman Robert Bauman to question the article and pointed out how irresponsible an article like this is, if based on poor methodology.  Alderman Willie Wade joined in expressing his displeasure with the article’s methodology saying “personally I think we’ve been had” and that “we are here because of an article from the Journal Sentinel with bogus data”.  Generally the committee was concerned if the findings were valid but Alderman Bob Donovon seemed to wrap up the sentiment by repeating an old cliche, “you cant always believe everything you read in the paper”.

Public Works Committee Approves New Berlin Water Deal

Public Works Committee Approves New Berlin Water Deal

This meeting’s highlights included the proposed water sale to New Berlin and the reappointment of Jeff Mantes to the Commissioner the Department of Public Works.The water sale involved two separate resolutions.  Resolution 080012 would handle the actual water sale and resolution 080011 will enact an intergovernmental agreement contingent on the water sale.  Water sales are regulated by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (“PSC“) which sets the wholesale price of water and oversees water contracts.  Because of this any additional constraints beyond the sales agreement had to handled in an intergovernmental agreement.  This intergovernmental agreement included a non-compete clause between the cities as well as a one time $1.5 million payment to the City of Milwaukee from New Berlin to offset some of the potential economic impact associated with this transaction.  Further as this agreement proposes the sale of water outside of the Great Lakes Basin it follows the requirements set for within the Great Lakes Compact.New Berlin is seeking to obtain the additional water source to support the middle third of the city, to large extent because of high levels of the radium existing in their water and the depletion of their aquifer.  During the discussion it was brought up, that if New Berlin isn’t able to purchase water from the City of Milwaukee that New Berlin may spend $4 million on an upgrade to their facilities or pursue purchasing water from Oak Creek.  Both of these options were potentially more expensive for New Berlin than purchasing from the City of Milwaukee but Jack F. Chiovatero, the Mayor of New Berlin, indicated the pressing need by stating that “I wouldn’t be sitting in front off you if I didn’t have the radium issue”.Alderman Robert Bauman repeatedly made the point that New Berlin fails to meet the City of Milwaukee’s guidelines for water sales. These guidelines are based on access to mass transit and affordable housing within the community wishing to purchase water.  Further he pointed out that this resolution does not reflect the original authorization to negotiate as passed by the Common Council in December 2007.  In addition to Alderman Bauman’s vocal opposition various organizations such as the Good Jobs & Livable Neighborhoods Coalition, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, and the ACLU spoke out in opposition to the water sale.  This opposition stems from the idea that sending water to sprawling communities without adequate housing or transit options makes access to the new jobs, that this transaction will support, near impossble for low-income residents of Milwaukee to access.   In addition to those concerns Bill Holahan, the Chairman of the UWM Department of Economics stated that “over the next 20 years the expansion out there will swamp the $1.5 million” and that “economic value of the water is probably not reflected in the $1.5 million”.  Despite these issues and concerns the resolution was approved and sent to a special meeting of the Finance & Personnel Committee held prior to July 30th’s Common Council Meeting.The other contentious item was the […]

Public Works Committee Holds Up Appointments

Public Works Committee Holds Up Appointments

The reappointment of Jeff Mantes to the position of Commission of the Department of Public Works and the reappointment of Jeff Polenske to the position of City Engineer were held to the call of the chair to start off this meeting. As numerous reappointments have flown through as of late it appears this may be in response to friction the Common Council has had working with the Department of Public Works. Specifically the Common Council has expressed their concern with how DPW handled snow plowing, leaf removal, and various street improvements. File number 080238 is a grouping of numerous assessable public improvements that included items such as street and alley re-construction. Similar files have experienced an ongoing problem whereas approximately half of individual projects are deleted because property owners are unwilling to pay exorbitantly high assessments. This has lead to the slow crumbling of city streets and ever increasing maintenance costs. Alderman Bob Donovon expressed his displeasure at Mayor Tom Barrett‘s unwillingness to replace the current assessment system with a recently proposed vehicle registration fee, by stating “I am hoping that this administration and the alderman in this community have the guts to move forward and do the right thing in changing the way we pay for paving projects.” This file was approved with numerous deletions and will move on to the Common Council for approval. File number 080195 is an ordinance relating to storm water management regulations. Alderman Michael Murphy argued that this resolution is important to because the “leading cause of pollution to our water system is really through non-point water sources” and this resolution targets those sources. Those sources includes streets and parking lots and this resolution address ways to reduce the amount of paved area which improves the grounds ability to absorb storm water. This resolution was passed and will go before the City Plan Commission for approval.

Public Works Committee Criticizes DPW Commissioner

Public Works Committee Criticizes DPW Commissioner

As part of resolution, 071488, a portion of the street from S. Barclay St. – E. Pittsburgh Ave. to S. Water St./E. Seeboth St. will be rebuilt resulting in an improved environment in around the Fifth Ward neighborhood. Although a minor improvement to the physical infrastructure this should help spur further development in the area. Jeff Mantes, the Commissioner of Public Works, presented a communication regarding the recent news indicating the funding for the Milwaukee Connector study is longer available. Throughout the discussion Alderman Robert Bauman asked a series of specific questions of the Department of Public Works (DPW) to make it clear that the Common Council was not informed of the situation. He expressed his outrage by stating bluntly that “in my opinion this is a big deal”. He was quickly reinforced by Alderman Robert Puente‘s pointed remarks to DPW when he said “you’ll keep the Common Council in the dark until you need us”. In the end this file simply served to point the blame at DPW and allow the Common Council to put it on the record that they weren’t informed of the situation. Unfortunately the problem still exists and new mass transit options are further postponed until the situation can be resolved.

Public Works Committee Holds Water Deal

Public Works Committee Holds Water Deal

Jeffrey Mantes the Commissioner of Public Works presented the progress of the City Hall Restoration Project. He pointed out that after two and a half years the project is meeting or exceeding the EBE, RPP and apprenticeship goals laid out for the project. Additionally he indicated that the project is targeted to be substantially complete by Thanksgiving 2008. Representatives from SEWRPC presented A Regional Broadband Telecommunications Plan which indicated SEWRPC’s belief that universal high speed broadband in necessary for continued growth within Southeast Wisconsin. SEWRPC set a goal of developing 20 megabit universal access throughout the region and discussed a wireless demonstration project that Kenosha is currently testing. The well presented need and existence of the demonstration project prompted Alderman Robert Bauman to ask the SEWRPC representatives to “march right down to the mayor’s office and set up an appointment”. Two resolutions regarding water sales to neighboring communities pointed out what regional cooperation does and doesn’t look like. First up was resolution 071313 which would of renewed a contract between the City of Milwaukee and the Village of Menomonee Falls for the purchase of water. During the discussion of this contract renewal it was pointed out by Alderman Robert Bauman that an amendment allowing the Village of Menomonee Falls to remove a legal constraint on selling water to neighboring communities without the City of Milwaukee Water Works approval was “giving a benefit for no consideration”. Despite contract terms limiting the amount of water the Village of Menomonee Falls can acquire from the City of Milwaukee Water Works, this amendment would of been a first step in opening the door for the Village of Menomonee Falls to begin selling water to communities outside of the basin. The committee held this resolution as it appeared that this small change in the contract had the potential impact of encouraging sprawl and further decentralizing the region. The second resolution, 071314, was a request by the Village of Elm Grove for the City of Milwaukee Water Works to explore the possibility of selling water to the Village of Elm Grove. Neil Palmer the Village of Elm Grove President suggested they would purchase water at wholesale or even at retail prices. Further he made it clear he would support the City of Milwaukee in a variety regional issue including improved mass transit within the region. This resolution was enthusiastically approved by the committee and will move on to the full Common Council for approval.

The Roundup: At it Again
The Roundup

At it Again

Alderman asked to make big money decision on 24 hour notice.