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Milwaukee Notes
MILWAUKEE QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Maintaining infrastructure is not free."
--Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman, on a $20 vehicle registration fee the council approved yesterday by overriding Mayor Tom Barrett's veto on an 11-4 vote. Residents will begin paying the fee in November. It is expected to generate $6.6 million annually, some of which will be used to eliminate special assessments that property owners pay for road projects and reduce those assessments for alley and sidewalk projects.

“I don't think we should be doing something to benefit absentee landlords."
--Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, commenting on the registration fee before the override. After the vote, Barrett called it a “victory for absentee landlords” who would no longer have to pay for street repairs. Barrett vetoed the resolution in August, citing concern that it would make Milwaukee a “tax island” and allow some property owners that benefit from the streets to no longer contribute to their maintenance. Barrett proposed incremental property tax increases along with a reduction in special assessments by 37 percent to speed infrastructure repair. Barrett's plan would have added $5.12 to the average property tax bill by 2014.

"As far as 'absentee landlords' go, those landlords were passing on the staggering street assessments to their renters under the old system.”
--Ald. Willie Hines, commenting on the average $3,000 to $4,000 assessments levied on property owners for road projects in front of their properties.

“In times of need, there are no red states or blue states. There is the United States of America.”
--Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, discussing the need for national unity during a campaign stop in Milwaukee Monday as Hurricane Gustav battered the Gulf Coast.
*See WisPolitics.com coverage of Obama's visit: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=134749


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PALIN WILL PLAY WELL IN MILWAUKEE, WALKER SAYS

Milwaukee Co. Exec. Scott Walker thinks McCain veep choice Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will help the GOP nominee get votes in Milwaukee County this November.

Walker predicted that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would “do exceptionally well, particularly on the north side of Milwaukee where there is a heavy African-American vote” but adds that McCain has a chance to pick up votes on the south side of Milwaukee and areas like Cudahy and West Allis that are home to a number of blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” and veterans.

“That alone will make it interesting,” Walker told WisPolitics.com from the Republican National convo in St. Paul. “You combine that with the fact that John McCain picked someone who complements his maverick style--that's just the type of maverick ticket I think will play well in Wisconsin and play well in Milwaukee County.”

Walker said it was evident that Wisconsin is of key importance to the McCain campaign, noting that the Wisconsin delegation is on the “A list” of speakers. Among speakers who have visited Wisconsin delegates were Republican political strategist Karl Rove, McCain's campaign manager, and several governors and members of Congress.

Although tired from the Harley-Davidson anniversary festivities in Milwaukee before the convention, Walker said he's enjoying the show.

He said he was particularly impressed with former prez primary candidate Fred Thompson's convention speech last night.

“I could just listen to him talk forever,” Walker said about the narrative Thompson gave about McCain's life. “It was like sitting down by a fire and listening to a story. It was just amazing.”

He also said he was “really impressed” with Dem Sen. Joe Lieberman's speech, which was focused on wooing undecided, independent and Democratic-leaning voters to McCain's side

Walker said he's looking forward to Palin's speech tonight, and anticipated it will draw a large viewership of people who are curious to see how she will perform.

“People are really pumped up about Gov. Palin,” Walker said. “It's just amazing how much excitement there is.”

While some at the convention “grumbled” that Obama campaigned in Milwaukee Monday, while McCain suspended the convention as Hurricane Gustav bore down on the Gulf Coast, Walker, said he didn't have a problem with it.

“What it showed to me was just how close they believe this election is, and just how close in particular it is in Wisconsin,” Walker said, adding that even though Obama focused on the hurricane in his speech, it still shows the campaign didn't think it could afford to give up a day.


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BRADY COUNTING ON EXPERIENCE TO WIN 24th AD DEM PRIMARY TUESDAY

Democrat Charlene Brady may not be spending money on yard signs and ads, but she's hoping shoe leather, her experience, issue positions and profile in the district will clinch the 24th Assembly District Democratic primary for her.

Brady told WisPolitics that she hears about taxes and government spending on the campaign trail, and she wants her campaign to be an example of how she would work to control spending in Madison.

“I'm trying to run a very frugal campaign, because I think you have to lead by example,” Brady said. “I refuse to spend a whole lot of money on a campaign.”

The only report she has filed with the Government Accountability Board is a July 21 statement saying she had not raised or spent funds up to June 31. Pre-primary reports were not yet available.

To keep costs down, she has foregone yard signs, but has plunked down cash for fliers and has been knocking on doors.

“I'm trying to meet as many people as I can,” Brady said, “but whether I can compete against the guys who are spending thousands of dollars, I don't know, but I certainly will try.”

Another reason she is running a low-dollar campaign is because she's adverse to fundraising.

“I know you're supposed to go out there and fund raise, but I have a hard time asking people for money,” Brady said. “If you've got extra money, give it to the food pantry or use it to fill your own gas tank.”

Brady is running in a two-way Democratic primary race against business owner Torrey Lauer in an effort to capture the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz, who’s retiring. Republicans running include Dan Knodl and Jason LaSage, Randy Melchert and Michael Moscicke. The district encompasses Butler, Germantown, the majority of Menomonee Falls and portions of Richfield

While she is not spending much, she says, Brady noted that she is well known in Germantown, where she represents a Germantown district as a Washington County supervisor, a position she's held for five years. Her position has not only given her exposure, but combined with her previous experience as a three-term Germantown village trustee and her service on a number of committees and boards, she claims it also gives her more government experience than her primary opponent.

In addition to her government experience, Brady, 56, pointed out that she's raised three children, all of who are in the military, and has been a homeowner for 20 years in the district. Prior to living in Germantown, she had moved to the state of Washington after getting married and graduating from Marquette University with a degree in civil engineering. She said she worked as an engineer in Washington until she had her second child.

In addition to wanting to rein in government spending, Brady said she wants to work to reduce healthcare costs and pass a statewide smoking ban in Wisconsin.

To bring down the cost of healthcare, Brady said it's important to bring transparency into medical billing.

“We need transparency here in the cost of providing healthcare so that when people go out and get services they can know what they are paying,” Brady said, adding that would allow individuals, businesses and government to negotiate costs.

She won't however, support universal healthcare plans like the proposed “Healthy Wisconsin” plan, without knowing where the money would come from, she said.

“I would like to have affordable healthcare for everybody,” Brady said, “but I have to see how we're going to fund this before I commit to anything.”

The district has historically leaned Republican, but Brady says her ability and willingness to compromise and act in a bipartisan manner to address concerns everyone in the district shares will make her competitive if she wins the primary.

“(Voters) are concerned about their way of life,” Brady said, “and that's what I'm concerned about, too.”

See Brady's campaign Web Site: http://www.charlenebrady.com

An interview with Brady's primary opponent, Torrey Lauer, follows. Milwaukee Notes has profiled all of the 24th AD Republican candidates. Please visit the links below.

See the Knodl profile:http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9538
See the LaSage profile: http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9731
See the Melchert profile:http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9507
See the Moscicke profile: http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9864


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LAUER AIMS TO BRING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MADISON

Political newcomer Torrey Lauer says his lack of government experience may well be an asset in his bid for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Assembly District.

“I don't have any previous government experience, and I believe that is a positive,” Lauer told WisPolitics, adding that means he's free from ties to special interests and can be “the voice of the people” when he's in Madison.

Lauer has instead devoted himself to business, and is the owner of a travel agency called Modern Travel Services. He said he started it from the ground up 10 years ago, and it now has 26 locations in 13 states.

“I know what it takes to keep a small business running and operating effectively within budget, and that is what I plan to do if I'm elected to the state Assembly,” Lauer said.

Lauer blamed Assembly Republicans for excessive spending over the past decade and said he aims to bring fiscal restraint to Madison

“As a business owner in this district that is what I will do,” Lauer said, ”bring that fiscal responsibility to Madison.”

Lauer said he would look for ways to cut “excessive and wasteful spending” and lower taxes once the state's structural deficits are are paid down.

While he commended Senate Democrats for attempting to address the state's healthcare problems through their “Healthy Wisconsin” proposal, he said he doesn't think it's the best solution for the state.

Instead, he said he'd like to look into the root causes of the state's high healthcare and insurance costs and for ways to bring those down without affecting quality or accessibility.

He is also calling for transparency in healthcare costs. He said he's talked with residents who have tried to call around for prices on healthcare and “no one is ever able to tell them how much it is going to cost.”

Uncertainty in healthcare costs eliminates the ability for people to plan and many decide to skip procedures, making their health suffer, he said.

Lauer describes himself as a conservative Democrat.

“I'm not running as a Milwaukee or a Madison Democrat,” Lauer said. “I grew up in Menomonee Falls and now live in Germantown, so my values are those of this district.”

One of those more conservative positions is his support for concealed carry of firearms.

“I see no logical reason to prevent a law-abiding citizen, especially one who is properly trained, from carrying a concealed weapon,” Lauer said.

He adding that he'd want a provision in the law whereby a person with a weapon would have to notify police officers who approach them that they are armed, and said he'd work with other legislators to determine what restrictions on concealed carry there would be.

Lauer also said he'd like to see increased fines for criminals, as current fines rarely cover the costs of the police work and court costs involved in prosecuting the offense. Those who can't afford to pay, Lauer said, should be required to do community service.

Lauer said he's been hearing from people in the district that they're tired of Democrats and Republicans not working together.

“I'm not going to be a party-line politician,” Lauer said, adding that he'll seek input from residents and represent their views in Madison.

Lauer is 31 years old, single, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He said he's planning on retuning to finish a degree in Spanish now that he's established in his business.

Unlike his opponent, Charlene Brady, who's running what she calls a “frugal campaign,” Lauer said he has been raising money and putting out yard signs and literature. He noted, however, that he has printed his fliers himself, hasn't sent out any mailers yet, and has held on to most of what he has raised.

See Lauer's campaign Web site: http://www.lauerforassembly.com/


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FELDMAN TOUTS POLICY BACKGROUND IN 22nd AD BID

Andy Feldman says he's attempting to convince voters to choose him in the 22nd Assembly District primary on Tuesday by highlighting his education and experience in public policy.

“I'm the only candidate that has actually been in state government, been in federal government, has graduate training in public policy, and actually went to public schools in this district,” Feldman told WisPolitics.

Feldman, 35, is a single Glendale native who moved to Whitefish Bay at age 10, where he lived before he left to pursue a degree in economics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, then a master's degree and a doctorate degree in public policy from Harvard. During his summer's as an undergraduate, he said he worked at the New Hope Project, an anti-poverty program in Milwaukee, and then went on to work with an anti-poverty group in New York. He also served as a staff economist for President Bill Clinton, where he said he briefed the president on education, healthcare and economic issues, before pursuing his master's degree. He also said he served as a special assistant to the secretary of administration in finance in Massachusetts, where he worked on a program that sought input from state workers on ways to save money.

Feldman said most of the candidates in the race are similar on the issues, but he stands apart because of his policy background.

“My pitch is that we've got a chance to put someone in the Assembly who has a background in public policy who can not just vote the right way, but become a leader in policy making,” Feldman said.

Feldman faces three other primary candidates vying for the North Shore seat being vacated by Democrat Sheldon Wasserman, who's challenging incumbent Republican Alberta Darling for state Senate. Other candidates include: Guy Johnson, Dan Kohl and Sandy Pasch. The winner of Tuesday's primary will face off against Republican Yash Wadhwa in the general election.

Feldman listed education as a his top priority. He said although schools in the North Shore suburbs are doing well, they're under a lot of funding pressure and at risk of decline. In the Milwaukee Public Schools district, which covers part of the Assembly seat, there's a need to significantly boost quality, he said.

“I think we need a real sense of urgency about no only improving MPS's quality and student outcomes, but addressing the root causes like poverty, joblessness, lack of healthcare and transportation that are also making student outcomes a challenge in Milwaukee,” Feldman said.

Feldman also pointed to the high cost of healthcare in Wisconsin, and blamed it partially for causing deficits in state government.

While he said he'd like to see a federal solution, he would like to see a universal healthcare proposal like “Healthy Wisconsin” pass.

Feldman applauded the recent passage of the Great Lakes Compact, but pointed to a need to do more to protect Wisconsin's environment. He said more should be done to stop invasive species, develop public transportation, and increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

“Wisconsin should be aggressive in making sure that we're a leader in growing green jobs,” Feldman said, pointing to the need for “reviving the progressive tradition,” which is the theme of his campaign.

Feldman says he's been running a grassroots campaign for the last several months, and is already visiting some voters for a second time as he knocks on doors. In addition to putting out fliers and yards signs and participating int debates, he's also held three issue forums with experts on the environment, education and healthcare.

Visit Feldman's campaign Web site: http://www.andyforwisconsin.com/

Milwaukee Notes has profiled all of the Democratic primary candidates for the 22nd AD. Milwaukee Notes will seek an interview with Republican Yash Wadhwa, who's running unopposed in the primary, following the primary election.

--See Johnson's profile: http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9683
--See Kohl's profile: http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9380
--See Pasch's profile: http://milwaukee.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article_ID=9413


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MILWAUKEE NAMES IN THE NEWS

ELIZABETH "BETSY" BRENNER, publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, will discuss the future of the daily newspaper as an American institution in the digital age at an upcoming Milwaukee Press Newsmaker Luncheon Sept. 24. The event will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Newsroom Pub in downtown Milwaukee at 137 E. Wells St.

The Milwaukee County Board will attempt tomorrow to override Milwaukee County Exec. SCOTT WALKER's veto of a resolution calling for an advisory referendum on a 1 percent county sales tax increase to support transit, parks, recreation and culture, and emergency medical services while providing $67 million in property tax relief.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. JOHN McCAIN and his running mate, Alaska Gov. SARAH PALIN, are to visit Cedarburg at 10 a.m. Friday for a rally at Washington Avenue and Columbia Road. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Green Party Presidential candidate CYNTHIA McKINNEY has several campaign stops schedule in Racine on Friday.
For details, visit: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=134918

Milwaukee Mayor TOM BARRETT and Milwaukee County Executive SCOTT WALKER will debate the future of transportation in Milwaukee as part of MIKE GOUSHA's “On the Issues” series Tuesday. The event is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. in Sensenbrenner Hall, Marquette Law School, Room 325.


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