Milwaukee NotesWalker Luncheon
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is the latest speaker in the WisPolitics.com speaker series at the Madison Club.
Register now for the event: June 9, 11:45 a.m.
***Scott Walker: Milwaukee County's Role in the 2004 Election and Beyond***
Scott Walker, a former Republican legislator, gained national attention by taking the helm of Milwaukee County following the pension scandal. He was elected county executive in a special election on April 30, 2002 after the resignation of Tom Ament and this spring he won re-election for a full term.
But already, some Republicans are touting him as a GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2006. Prior to becoming county executive, Walker served in the state Assembly for almost nine years, representing the 14th Assembly District, which is comprised of the entire city of Wauwatosa.
Before his election to the Legislature, Walker was the financial development specialist for the Greater Milwaukee Chapter of the American Red Cross. While attending Marquette University, he worked as an accounts administrator for the Milwaukee office of IBM.
Join us for lunch where Jeff Mayers and other WisPolitics.com staff will discuss Walker's views on the fall elections and his plans for Milwaukee County and possibly the state. Cost is $15 for members and $19 for non-members. Call Loretta to RSVP at the Madison Club, 608-255-4861.
Dumping human feces means there will be human diseases in the water. This certainly doesn't make me anxious to plan any swimming trips this year.
-- Lynn Broaddus, executive director of Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers, responding to reports that MMSD dumped about 1.5 billion gallons of untreated sewage mixed with storm water into local waterways and Lake Michigan.
Milwaukee NotesRains Bring Flood of Troubles For MMSD
As the saying goes, if the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District didn't have bad luck, it wouldn't have any luck at all.
The timing of the heavy spring rains couldn't have been worse for Kevin Shafer and the other MMSD officials
Tom Barrett campaigned with a pledge to clean up MMSD. For the agency to have a crisis in the new mayor's first month in office potentially is a disaster for Shafer, other top officials and the MMSD board. That's because Barrett appoints seven members.
Heads could roll. Plenty of them. So goes the speculation around City Hall.
The heavy rains caused MMSD to dump an estimated 1.5 billion gallons of sewage and water blended with sewage into the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan without fully treating it last week. That was before the weekend's rare closing of the gates.
A year ago, there wasn't a single sewage dump in the Deep Tunnel due to a heavy rainfall.
In March, Shafer -- MMSD's executive director -- was asked how much it would cost to prevent any dumps from ever occurring and said his best guess was more than $2 billion.
"Greater than $2 billion, but I can't tell you whether its $10 (billion) or $5 (billion)," he said.
The Deep Tunnel system has 19.4 miles of tunnels with another 7.1 miles being constructed on the northwest side of Milwaukee County.
"To capture the largest overflow we've ever had, one study says we would need another 48 miles of deep tunnel," MMSD spokesman Bill Graffin said.
Planning for the 7.1-mile extension began in 1998, construction started in 2002, and it's due for completion in 2005. It will increase capacity by 21 percent.
"That capacity only helps us when we get rains on the northwest side of the community," Graffin said.
Barrett has ordered an audit, with Don Theiler, formerly of the state Department of Natural Resources, heading it.
"The questions are more complex than whether you build more tunnels, or whether you build a treatment plant that's the largest in the world," Pat Curley, Barrett's chief of staff, said last week.
Theiler is currently director of King County, Wash.'s Wastewater Treatment District, which includes Seattle. Two years ago, Theiler headed a review of United Water's operation of MMSD facilities.
Other members of the audit team include: Tony Earl, a former governor who is a MMSD critic; Nancy Frank, acting dean of architecture and urban planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Rosemary Oliveiri, an environmentalist; and Joe Messigner, a retired bank executive.
Meanwhile, Barrett has made decisions on what he wants to do with the seven members of the MMSD board he controls, Curley said. The new mayor, though, wants to contact current board members to tell them of his decisions before going public with his plans, Curley said.
Read the new Milwaukee Insight by Jim Rowen, ``Time to Take Care of Our Great Lake''.
Milwaukee NotesSostarich Suspended
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended the law license of Mark Sostarich, the former state Democratic Party chairman convicted in federal court of a kickback scheme prosecutors say netted Gary George $140,000.
The high court suspended the Milwaukee attorney's license on Tuesday, pending a disciplinary hearing by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, a division of the Supreme Court.
The entire court, with the exception of Justice David Prosser, handed down the ruling. Prosser did not participate.
Sostarich pleaded guilty in January in federal court for his role in a kickback scheme involving George. The former Democratic Party chairman admitted taking money for doing legal work for the Police Athletic League and kicking some back to George.
Prosecutors said George made $140,000 in the deal.
The league is a non-profit organization that helps central city children and had close ties to the Milwaukee Police Department and George.
Sentencing for Sostarich originally was scheduled for May 28, but has been postponed until Aug. 11.
This comes amid a pair of filings in the George case, complicating what had been seen as a routine sentencing.
Milwaukee NotesBarrett Camp Comes to Grip With The Meaning of "Freeze''
During the campaign, Tom Barrett promised the 2005 city budget would include a levy freeze.
Now, he's trying to figure out a way to keep the pledge to voters hungry for tax relief.
There have been plenty of roadblocks to keeping the promise. Just before being sworn in April 20, he was told it would cost $36 million more to operate the city next year at the same level of services as this year.
"That was, in some ways, a rude awakening," said Joel Brennan, a special assistant to Barrett.
In addition, Barrett received strong support from the leaders of city unions. Negotiations with all of the large unions (AFSCME, police and fire) currently are in arbitration and need to be resolved for 2005, meaning there could be sizeable cost increases attached to each contracts. Despite the tight numbers, Barrett Chief of Staff Pat Curley vows that the mayor will present a no-levy increase budget to the Common Council.
"It's going to be difficult," Curley said Thursday. "It's hard. Can it be done? Probably. Can it be done without a lot of pain? Probably not."
But would it be palatable if Barrett presented a no-levy increase budget and the council restored services and/or jobs, thus increasing the levy?
Curley said he wasn't sure, and hoped aldermen would debate any service or job cuts and keep an open mind.
One thing certain is that aldermen don't want to look like the bad guys to the voters. That is, they don't want to get a budget from the mayor's office that is unrealistic and cuts too many services and jobs simply to fulfill Barrett's campaign promise.
"I would hope that a budget is put forth with the greatest amount of integrity and isn't done to fulfill a campaign promise," Council President Willie Hines said. "It would be unfair to the taxpayers if that would occur.
"The council will show leadership in preserving city services as well as dealing with jobs cut, and increasing the levy or not," Hines said. "It definitely puts us in a very, very challenging position."
Curley said Barrett's tax levy "freeze'' will use the same definition used by GOP members of the state Legislature, allowing for an increase in the cost of living. The city levy was $199 million last year, and growth may allow it to increase about 2 percent, he said.
Milwaukee NotesPratt to make it Official
Marvin Pratt is poised to make it official this week when he formally announces he is running for state Senate. Pratt told a weekly newspaper last week that he is running and confirmed it Thursday with WisPoltics.com.
"There's going to be a formal announcement," he said.
Pratt said he spent time Wednesday knocking on constituent doors.
Pratt is seeking the seat held by Gwen Moore, who is running for Congress. State Rep. Johnnie Morris also is considering whether to run for the Senate seat.
Insiders say Andria Detoro-Balda may be his campaign manager, but Pratt said there was no formal agreement for her to do so.
Milwaukee NotesMarquette Name Change Spurs Debate
Marquette University Trustee Wayne Sanders' effort to restore the Warriors nickname spurred debate among some local pols with ties to MU.
Common Council President Willie Hines and his predecessor, former acting mayor Marvin Pratt, both graduated from Marquette and County Executive Scott Walker attended the university for four years.
"No. 1, we must be very sensitive to the Indian community," Hines said. "Nevertheless, I am a Warrior and I wouldn't be disappointed if they change it back."
Pratt said the university should continue with the Golden Eagles name.
"I don't see why we should have that fight again," he said. "Just move on."
Walker said it was a matter for the Marquette Board of Trustees and wouldn't say which nickname he preferred.
Hines and Pratt, though, said they were perplexed when former MU president, the Rev. Albert J. DiUlio, unilaterally decided the university would discontinue the Warriors name 10 years ago.
"I never understood the move," Hines said.
Pratt said, "When I saw the $2 million offer, the only thing that makes me hesitant was DiUlio did that on his own. He was a dictator kind of guy. He wasn't one of Marquette's best presidents."
Milwaukee NotesNames in the News
SADHNA LINDVALL as County Executive SCOTT WALKER's communications director. She's taking a similar position with the Private Industry Council. STEVE MOKROHISKY, Walker's deputy chief of staff, will assume Lindvall's duties indefinitely.
Milwaukee philanthropist CHRISTOPHER ABELE has been named as chairman-elect of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
GOP Rep. MARK HONADEL announced his intention to seek re-election to the Assembly from the 21st District in South Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Mayor TOM BARRETT announced that MARTIN G. COLLINS will maintain his position as commissioner of the Department of Neighborhood Services, a position he has held for the past four years.
WTMJ-AM's former morning news host, JON BELMONT, is off to D.C. to become an anchor for AP Network News. His temporary replacement is MARK REARDON.
Multiple Academy Award winner and UW-Milwaukee alumnus JIM RYGIEL will speak at the second Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in early June at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee. Rygiel worked on the special effects for Peter Jackson's “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Register for the event.
WALKER played a visible role at the state GOP convention this weekend in La Crosse, again signaling his interest in statewide office. Among the items Walker will take with him on his state Harley-riding tour next month is a replica of a mummy on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Walker is touting the tour as a way to promote Milwaukee, but others say it will boost his standing statewide in anticipation of a possible 2006 gubernatorial bid. One question remains: Will the mummy ride in a side car?
--Compiled by WisPolitics Staff
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