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Op Ed: Local Black History You Should Know
Op Ed

Local Black History You Should Know

Including Marvin Pratt, Heal the Hood and the Young, Black & Opinionated podcast.

Jason Fields Announces Slate of New Endorsements in Race for Comptroller
Press Release

Jason Fields Announces Slate of New Endorsements in Race for Comptroller

Milwaukee city and state leaders announce support of Fields

Back in the News: Langley Has Raised Just $2,500
Back in the News

Langley Has Raised Just $2,500

Incumbent city attorney way behind his challengers in campaign donations.

Back in the News: Bobot Will Attack Langley. Sort Of
Back in the News

Bobot Will Attack Langley. Sort Of

Vince Bobot has (mostly) changed his mind about going negative in race for city attorney.

Op Ed: Tom Barrett’s Black Voter Challenge
Op Ed

Tom Barrett’s Black Voter Challenge

His support solid in black community. But 2020 could be different.

City Hall: Hamilton Ally May Run for His Seat
City Hall

Hamilton Ally May Run for His Seat

Marvin Pratt's daughter may run. Ald. Hamilton's bid for mayor now seems all but certain.

City Hall: Ashanti Hamilton Files for Mayoral Run
City Hall

Ashanti Hamilton Files for Mayoral Run

Is Chris Abele planning to back Hamilton?

A special time and a time to move on to a new challenge
Press Release

A special time and a time to move on to a new challenge

Statement of Alderman Jim Bohl - May 24, 2018

Data Wonk: Why Is City’s Student Achievement So Low?
Data Wonk

Why Is City’s Student Achievement So Low?

NAEP results show notable progress in Chicago, but discouraging results here.

50 Years After the Marches: Common Council More Diverse Today, But…

Contribution to Ashanti Hamilton of $100

50 Years After the Marches: Common Council More Diverse Today, But…
50 Years After the Marches

Common Council More Diverse Today, But…

Other cities have done better at embracing diversity.

Eliminating community prosecutors very, very bad for Milwaukee
Press Release

Eliminating community prosecutors very, very bad for Milwaukee

Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan - July 24, 2017

City Residents Hiring Program Falls Short

City Residents Hiring Program Falls Short

Promising effort employs minorities in construction, needs more monitoring and funding.

Henningsen, former alderman, dies at age 70
Citation

Henningsen, former alderman, dies at age 70

Back in the News: Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right

Contribution to Robert Bauman of $100

Back in the News: Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right

Contribution to Milele A. Coggs of $100

Back in the News: Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right

Contribution to Ashanti Hamilton of $200

Back in the News: Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right

Contribution to James Methu of $50

Back in the News: Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right
Back in the News

Maybe Karl Kopp Was Right

I criticized him for letting a historic building rot, but he’d planned a stunning replacement.

New Fellowship Helps Storytellers Address Race

New Fellowship Helps Storytellers Address Race

Ex Fabula offers fellowships to local storytellers discussing race and oppression.

House Confidential: Gary George’s Grafton Mansion

Contribution to Michael Bonds of $100

House Confidential: Gary George’s Grafton Mansion

Contribution to Robert Bauman of $50

House Confidential: Gary George’s Grafton Mansion

Contribution to Willie Wade of $100

House Confidential: Gary George’s Grafton Mansion
House Confidential

Gary George’s Grafton Mansion

He lives far outside Gwen Moore's congressional district, but is running for the seat anyway.

Plenty of Horne: Barrett’s Birthday Party
Plenty of Horne

Barrett’s Birthday Party

The mayor's celebration is 11 days late. And Lakefront Brewery shatters its record for annual barrels manufactured.

Stunned by bribe allegation, Milwaukee panel rejects liquor license
Citation

Stunned by bribe allegation, Milwaukee panel rejects liquor license

M.O.R.E. Ordinance Approved by Committee

M.O.R.E. Ordinance Approved by Committee

The Milwaukee Opportunities for Restoring Employment ordinance was the primary reason behind this special meeting of the Community & Economic Development Committee.  The ordinance intends to increase the required percentage of City of Milwaukee residents hired to work on city projects and development projects receiving more than $1 million in TIF assistance.  Additionally it mandated a prevailing wage to be paid for these projects and set a higher Emerging Business Enterprise (EBE ) utilization level as well.  The proposed ordinance brought out a large group of both supporters and opponents.  Alderman Ashanti Hamilton attempted to frame the discussion early on saying that “there are many people who may come to the table and say this is the wrong time to do something like this” and indicated that he felt the time was right to move on this ordinance.  He added that “I submit to you that the price has already been too great”.  Alderman Nik Kovac explained that “in the end this is not a philosophical question, it is a practical question” and lent his support saying that “I think we have a document that comes close to being a win win win”.  An extensive list of developers and real estate professional spoke in opposition to the ordinance though primarily the development community opposed the ordinance because of the prevailing wage mandate. Richard Wanta, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association, spoke in opposition of the project saying that “the same city has chased us out of town for decades”.  He went on to point out that there is currently only one major water and sewer contractor in the city, so once this passes that contractor is especially likely to get all of the available work in the area because of the new regulations. Dick Lincoln, Senior Vice President of the Mandel Group, started his remarks saying that “the camel is a horse that is designed by committee” indicating the ordinance wasn’t quite right but went on to say that “we’re almost there”.  He explained that generally he felt the ordinance was a positive but that the prevailing wage requirement was problematic.  He argued that it works against minority hiring, as smaller companies often compete on price, and that this would add substantially to the cost of the project. Barry Mandel, President of the Mandel Group, pointed to the PERC requirements in the Park East and tied them to the fact that development has been non-existent in the county owned portion of the Park East.  He then pointed to The Brewery and The North End projects as two projects that have been moving forward because they utilizing non-prevailing wages. Greg Uhen, President of Eppstein Uhen Architects, spoke out against the proposed ordinance saying that “my concern is that it will reduce the number of opportunities that come to the city” and that he felt “this is another roadblock, another reason for them not to come”. The line of members in support of the ordinance were at least as lengthy […]

The Roundup: Kennedy Walks
The Roundup

Kennedy Walks

Substantial Fine for Possession of Forged Artwork

The Roundup: Selig Take A Hit
The Roundup

Selig Take A Hit

Washington Post Trashes Commissioner and Journal Communications. Plus: The Mea Culpa of Charles J. Sykes and Thompson’s Boycott of Miller Park.

The Roundup: The Inaugural
The Roundup

The Inaugural

Marvin Pratt did not stand up with the crowd when Tom Barrett was inaugurated mayor, and the press has made a good deal of the slight. However, just after Judge Louis Butler administered the oath of office to the new mayor, Barrett’s first comments were to commend Pratt, and the former acting mayor did stand up and take a bow. The ceremonies were held April 20th outside of City Hall in some perfectly dreadful Milwaukee spring weather. So, who was the idiot who came up with that idea? “I’m the idiot who thought to hold it outside,” fessed up Kris Martinsek. After all, the president is inaugurated outdoors in January. However, January in Washington is not nearly as unpleasant as Milwaukee in April. The stage was set up on Wells Street, facing east. Upon the stage sat Milwaukee’s new leaders, including the mayor, the common council, the comptroller, treasurer, city attorney, city clerk and a municipal judge. Their families sat out in the street and in the adjacent park next to the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building. Frank P. Zeidler was there himself, sandwiched between Marvin Pratt and Senator Herb Kohl. Kohl was dressed as he always is around here. He wore a shirt, a tie, a Milwaukee Bucks cap and a windbreaker. Except for the tie, he pretty much looked like the guy who harvests aluminum cans from my recycling bin. If he tried to walk on to the floor of the United States Senate in that getup, the sergeant-at-arms would toss him out. But this is Milwaukee, the “come as you are” capital of America, and he fit right in. Barrett has made a list of 18 things he wants to accomplish in his first hundred days in office. I don’t know if reducing the police overtime budget is one of them, but the men in blue were certainly racking up the hours during the interminable ceremony. The aldermen were sworn in sequentially according to district. Each alderman then gave a little speech. The last district, the 15th, is occupied by Willie Hines, who is now the Common Council president. He then gave a big speech. He began by saying, “my ascent to the Council Presidency is not a compromise or consolation prize for the African-American community.” This was an effective way to defuse speculation that his election was a compromise or consolation prize, and was a rather sharp thing to do. Hines also insisted that corruption will not taint his council. (We’ll check back on that in four years.) His delivery was generally quite good, and had a hint of religious fervor to it. Moments earlier, he did have a slip up. When Valarie Hill was about to be sworn in as municipal judge, Hines said, “The City Clerk will now come to the altar – er, the podium – to take the oath.” Also, when Hines introduced the new mayor he called him “Mayor Marvin Pratt – er, Mayor Barrett.” These things happen. The Common Council […]

The Roundup: Liz Cheney to Open Bush-Cheney Office Here
The Roundup

Liz Cheney to Open Bush-Cheney Office Here

If you are over by Mayfair Monday, you can drop by the grand opening of the Bush–Cheney’04 Wisconsin Headquarters, 2222 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa.  The opening is open to the press, and Liz Cheney will be available for interviews. The event is at noon and features such other dignitaries as Rep. Leah Vukmir, Rep. Mark Honadel, Rep. Curt Gielow, and County Executive Scott Walker. If you are in the neighborhood and would like to do something other than that, then get to the corner of Hwy. 100 and W. North Avenue where Wisconsin Citizen Action hosts a “Bash Bush” event at 11:30 a.m. Gary George Law License Suspended If you never got around to hiring Gary George as a lawyer like the Warshafsky Law Firm did, you’re “temporarily” out of luck. The disgraced former state senator’s license was temporarily suspended April 1st by an order of Cornelia G. Clark the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, dated March 8, 2004.. Clark acted on a motion from the Office of Lawyer Regulation “seeking the temporary suspension of the license of Attorney Gary R. George to practice law in Wisconsin. … The basis for this motion is Attorney George’s January 22, 2004 guilty plea in United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, to one count of conspiracy.” It is not common for lawyers to plead guilty to felony charges – they usually put up a fight, and a law license won’t be of much use where Gary’s going – namely, federal prison. For one thing, the competition would be intense. Paul Henningsen’s already got most of the business locked up by now, one would imagine. Along with George’s demise we lose another annoyance – we shall no longer see or hear Gary George advertisements for the Warshafsky Law Firm. George taped his advertisements in August, 2000, back when the century was new and George’s integrity was unblemished. (We were a simpler people then.) Back then I asked the law firm about the ads. “Are they designed to help George in his reelection campaign?” The Warshafsky spokesperson replied, “It has no connection to the campaign. He just brings us a lot of business.” Election Night Approaches We are down to the final hours in our Mayoral election, with the result said to be a tossup. Much will be dependent on voter turnout, which itself can depend on things like the weather. The primary election had the added allure of a presidential primary to possibly juice the vote. On the other hand, it is possible that the lack of a republican presidential race kept Milwaukee republicans at home in February, and that they will come out to vote Tuesday, if there are enough of them to count. Then we have the white people for Pratt, and the black people for Barrett contingency. I should imagine they exist in roughly the same, small numbers. Among them – former candidates Frank Cumberbatch and Leon Todd have endorsed Barrett. Sandy Folaron and Vince Bobot have […]

The Roundup: The Extraordinary Longevity of Milwaukee Politicians
The Roundup

The Extraordinary Longevity of Milwaukee Politicians

We have had twice as many Mayors as we have had City Treasurers since 1917.

The Roundup: On the Fundraiser Trail
The Roundup

On the Fundraiser Trail

David Riemer held a fundraiser and art auction to advance his bid for County Executive. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design was the place, and over a hundred people showed up to look at the art (a Guido Brink retrospective) and to meet with the candidate March 8th. Wine was served, and the food was perhaps the finest of the larger-scale campaign events this year. The snacks included hummus and all sorts of veggie-cheesy items nicely prepared and tastefully presented. Everybody had to shut up for a brief speech by the candidate. Riemer is getting better at these, and unlike certain other candidates for president or even for mayor, he is able to adjust the message to his audience with a reasonable degree of spontaneity. The crowd at MIAD learned that Riemer has two brothers who are actors, and mom was too. In college (as an undergraduate) he studied poetry. “Art is not just an add-on. Art is essential to a metropolitan area. It is essential to its success.” No argument from the crowd on that account. Marvin Pratt showed up, and that created a mild buzz for a while. Riemer campaign guru Bill Christofferson wants us all to know that his candidate’s “Last Blast” fundraiser will be held in Turner Hall on March 23rd, 5-7 p.m. The Riemer campaign sent out a news release encouraging its supporters to cast absentee ballots. Election Day, April 6th is Passover, he reminds us. It is also a time when many of us might be out of town on Spring break. Riemer would appreciate it if we voted before fleeing this miserable weather. It is all about turnout, at this point. Molly Christofferson, Bill’s daughter, did campaign work for Sandy Folaron. She now works for Marvin Pratt. Strange bedfellows. Bob Weiss held a fundraiser for Acting Mayor Pratt March 10th, at his restaurant, Shakers, 422 S. Second St. He sent me a note: “Clueless staffers, no signage, no promo materials, NO candidate, when promised 6-8 p.m. for His fundraiser.” Weiss said the event coordinator “sat by self in back corner, left after an hour. Some big hitter clients of mine left in disgust since Marvin not there. … Overall, hardly our greatest political experience.” Weiss is planning a solstice party this week (good timing), with plenty of food and booze. Forget the politics! Unopposed and Raising Money: Musings on the Common Council Presidency It is tough to draw a crowd in an election year when you have no opponent, and it’s nice for a candidate to not have to sweat his election. “I only hold one fundraiser a year and this is it,” said Ald. Michael Murphy at Derry Hegarty’s Pub, an event that perhaps saw about 75 people. The event was Thursday, March 11th, close enough to St. Patrick’s Day, which is appropriate since Murphy claims to be of Irish heritage. Since the money wasn’t absolutely necessary, and since the candidate seemed destined to win, the fundraiser easily lurched into its secondary […]

The Roundup: Lautenschlager’s Mess
The Roundup

Lautenschlager’s Mess

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager’s drunk driving arrest last week removes her from behind the wheel of her state-owned vehicle for a year, and puts Governor Jim Doyle in the driver’s seat. The two had squabbled, privately, over terms of the Governor’s jobs bill, with Lautenschlager threatening to use her authority to see that the law comply with the state’s environmental regulations, which she intimated it did not. This sort of independent action by an attorney general is not new in Wisconsin. Doyle was the chief practitioner of it, but then again, he was a Democrat, and the Governor at the time was a Republican. The press has made note that Doyle suggests Lautenschlager forgo some of her pay as a sort of penance for her indiscretion, a matter that remains unresolved at this time. Doyle also suggested that Lautenschlager consider entering a program to treat problem drinkers. He said that he had a number of friends who had been in a similar situation and that the treatment had helped them. In fact, the public admission of guilt and responsibility (which Lautenschlager made) is usually accompanied these days with a prompt acknowledgement that a problem exists. The subject then usually promptly enters a treatment program and completes it, after which the matter is forgotten. Lautenschlager has not made that admission thus far, which leaves her in the position of either not having a “problem” or being “in denial” of it. It does leave Doyle high and dry, however, and much less likely to face interference in his plans from that peskiest of all politicians – an ambitious Attorney General. Walker at the War Memorial County Executive Scott Walker welcomed about 100 well-clad guests to a fundraiser February 26th at the War Memorial Center. The strictly upper-crust affair was a Republican-type fundraiser, which meant that hard liquor was consumed (in moderation) and beer, for the most part, was ignored. For those fans of the frothy stuff, Walker offered Miller products and Heineken. Food was by Ellen’s Prestige Catering, and included strolling waiters, another classy touch. Menu items included spinach somethings, meat and melted cheese on sandwich rounds, wrapped up little salmon tidbits, an entirely unsuccessful raspberry-brie tart, platters of some kind of 21st century sandwich product along with perfectly delicious fruit. The event was unmarred by public oratory, but was enhanced by an A-list of locals practicing up for the next time Bush is in town. Among the exalted: George Dalton, Dennis Kuester (on crutches), Michael Cudahy, mourning the recent death of Daniel Urban Kiley, creator of the $4 million Cudahy garden outside the adjacent Milwaukee Art Museum, Fred Luber, Tim Hoeksma, Carol Skornicka, John Finerty, Jim Weichmann, Joe Rice, Mary Buestrin, Corey Hoze and developer Mark Irgens. Hoze has secured speaker Dennis Hastert to appear at a $2000 fundraiser on his hopeless behalf in his upcoming congressional campaign. That’s rich. Marvin Pratt popped in and worked the crowd for about 20 minutes before his cop told him it was time to […]

The Roundup: My Campaign Blog
The Roundup

My Campaign Blog

Two hundred fifty bucks or a free press pass?

The Roundup: Pratt’s “Reimbursement” Mystery Money
The Roundup

Pratt’s “Reimbursement” Mystery Money

Acting Mayor Pockets $7,500 with no explanation

The Roundup: Clark Picks Up Two State Endorsements
The Roundup

Clark Picks Up Two State Endorsements

Two of Wisconsin’s elder statespeople jumped on the Wesley Clark for President bandwagon recently. Former alderman, secretary of state and attorney Vel Phillips, who most recently issued the oath of office to Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt says she backs the Arkansas general for president. With her support, she joins such black leaders as Charles Rangel and Andrew Young. Phillips was at a fundraiser for Clark Tuesday, January 27th at the home of Julilly W. Kohler. Phillips said she had just got off the phone with Henry Aaron who has offered to send her airplane tickets and to put her up in Atlanta February 6th for his birthday party. “Oh, I’m not sure I’m going to go,” said Vel, to the dismay of partygoers who could not imagine turning down any invitation from Henry Aaron, with or without free air travel and lodging. She still hadn’t decided by Sunday. Vel Phillips faces many decisions. When she left the Common Council, she bought the old roll-top desk aldermen once used until the present gems were installed. The desk will probably go to the Historical Society of Wisconsin. Why not the city-owned Milwaukee Public Library? “Well, the historical society already has a full-size statue of me,” Phillips said. Good enough reason. The attendees, including Frank Gimbel (who has a huge Clark sign posted in his east side yard), Mort and Dani Gendelman, Curry First, Dennis Conta and about 40 others filled the Kohler residence to talk up their man and to dine on way too much food provided from such disparate sources as Sam’s Club and Watermark restaurant. A special guest of honor was to have been former Senator Gaylord Nelson, ranked fourth on a list of the most important Wisconsinites in history. He’s the only one of the top five who is still alive. Alas! Nelson hadn’t even made it as far as the end of the driveway of his Kensington, Maryland home in days, so he called in his visit by speakerphone. Heavy snowfall complicated by quaint Maryland snow removal traditions kept him home, Nelson said. He endorses Clark for president, the Earth Day founder told the attendees in Milwaukee. Nelson speaks very slowly these days. The delivery, although halting, does nothing to mute the intellectual vigor and wit of Nelson. Regarding his choice of the military man for president, the anti-Vietnam War ex-Senator said, “People were wondering how could Gaylord Nelson support a general for president?” (Pause.) “Well, George Washington was a general.” (Pause.) “And he was a pretty good president.” (Laughter.) Apparently, Nelson held republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower in high regard. He noted that General Ike warned us about the military-industrial complex. “This is a fascinating race,” Nelson said, (Pause.) But there is a long way to go.” The State of Wisconsin constitution, as amended, does not give the Lieutenant Governor much to do. This suited Scott McCallum fine, but Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is a restless sort and has been an early supporter and campaign groupie of […]

The Roundup: Art Jones Pension better than $100K per year
The Roundup

Art Jones Pension better than $100K per year

Two other Mayoral candidates eligible soon

The Roundup: “Legacy, Schmegacy”
The Roundup

“Legacy, Schmegacy”

John O. Norquist, in his final days as mayor, talked about the things that mattered to him. (His legacy wasn’t one of them.) Also: the man who could have beat him in 1992 – and, about that new job in Chicago

The Roundup: Krug Scores Joint Finance Seat
The Roundup

Krug Scores Joint Finance Seat

Rep. Shirley Krug was chosen Monday to take a seat on the influential Joint Committee on Finance

Murphy’s Law: Why Jim Ryan Could Be In Trouble
Murphy’s Law

Why Jim Ryan Could Be In Trouble

Speaking as someone who predicted the one-two finish of Scott Walker and Jim Ryan, the big surprise of the county executive race was Tyrone Dumas' strong fourth place finish, just behind Tom Nardelli.

Murphy’s Law: Can New President Darnell Cole Rescue MATC?
Murphy’s Law

Can New President Darnell Cole Rescue MATC?

Not long after arriving in town, new MATC president Darnell Cole called Greater Milwaukee Committee President Bob Milbourne and asked to meet.

Murphy’s Law: Antonio Riley’s Campaign Coffer Looks Mayoral
Murphy’s Law

Antonio Riley’s Campaign Coffer Looks Mayoral

News reports have made much of the money raised by Ald. Marvin Pratt and Ald. Tom Nardelli, speculating about their chances for mayor.

Murphy’s Law: Why The Mayor is Not Dead
Murphy’s Law

Why The Mayor is Not Dead

Back in the early 1980s, Milwaukee Magazine ran a scathing caricature of Mayor Henry Maier with the title "What Does This Man Do All Day?"

Murphy’s Law: Why the State Doesn’t Hate Tom Ament Any More
Murphy’s Law

Why the State Doesn’t Hate Tom Ament Any More

Time was when Milwaukee County was a favorite whipping boy of the state.

Murphy’s Law: Is the Plankinton Exit Worth $60 Million?
Murphy’s Law

Is the Plankinton Exit Worth $60 Million?

Some months ago the state Department of Transportation announced a plan for rebuilding the mammoth Marquette Interchange that did not include any exits or entrances at Plankinton Avenue

Murphy’s Law: Gary George’s Plot to Kill the Comptroller
Murphy’s Law

Gary George’s Plot to Kill the Comptroller

State budget deliberations are a time for mischief making, and state Sen. Gary George (D-Milwaukee) has always had a reputation for quietly slipping pet proposals into this biennial document.