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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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If you're allergic to shellfish, a restaurant with a raw bar just might not be the best choice.
If you're allergic to shellfish, a restaurant with a raw bar just might not be the best choice.

When diners appear ready to fight

For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2014."

Recently, I was in Chicago, dining at a seafood restaurant that was quite plainly a seafood restaurant. After all, the word "fish" is in the restaurant name.

As we dined al fresco, along the sidewalk on an absolutely gorgeous autumn evening, a two-top arrived and was seated directly behind and I overheard this conversation between a diner and the server:

Diner: "I am allergic to shellfish."

Server: "Thank you for letting me know, I will be sure to alert the kitchen staff."

Diner: "Seriously, if a pair of tongs so much as touches a shrimp or scallop and then my food, we’re dialing 911."

Server: "Yes, ma’am, I will make sure they know."

Diner: "Good!"

I take food allergies seriously. A child in my kid’s class has a peanut allergy and when it’s our turn to provide snack, I spend a lot of time reading the ingredients carefully. It’s serious business. I get that for sure. And it can’t be easy for anyone with dangerous food allergies to dine out.

Is it worth the risk for someone with a shellfish allergy so dangerous that even glancing contact requires immediately emergency ambulance response to select a seafood restaurant for dinner? Especially in the heart of downtown Chicago where there are often two or three restaurants of all kinds to a block. Because you can be as mad as you want if those tongs touch and you can threaten to sue, but you'll be the one in the ER.

In the end, of course, a diner has a right to choose. What really grated on me, however, was the tone of bitchiness in the diner’s voice when addressing a server who had been responsive and courteous; a tone that said, "you’re guilty of something already." I'm the kind of person that's convi…

New MPS superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver was handed a board mandate to lead Tuesday night.
New MPS superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver was handed a board mandate to lead Tuesday night. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

With a mandate, Driver must now row harder than ever

In what appears to be a pretty unprecedented move Tuesday night, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors called off the search for a permanent replacement for former superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton and named interim supe Dr. Darienne Driver to the post, beginning today.

Hey, Dr. Driver, no pressure.

But, Driver now has what can clearly be called a mandate. In fact, after she’d served just a few months as boss, the school board was downright giddy as Director Meagan Holman made the motion to offer the position to Driver Tuesday night and as at least two fellow board members jumped to second.

Some board members were so eager to have Driver ink the deal then and there that they had to be reminded they were still on the air at 88.9 FM. It was an encouraging moment of enthusiasm in a city where most conversations about schools are often heated and heavy.

The first woman to hold the post of permanent MPS superintendent (there have been assistants and interims dating back to 1919) Driver knows the district. Before being tabbed as temporary top dog in June, she worked as the district’s chief innovation officer and was instrumental in rolling out the district’s MPS-GEF Demonstration Schools, funded by a grant from the industrial giant.

She also led the district’s implementation of Common Core standards. Driver’s background includes teaching in Detroit Public Schools and was deputy chief of Philadelphia’s Empowerment Schools.

So, she knows what she needs to do -- did I mention she recently earned her doctorate in Harvard's Urban Superintendency program? -- and I suspect she at least has a sense of how to do it. And it sure sounds like that, at least for now, she has the board on her side.

With enrollment appearing basically stagnant this year -- very slightly down, though no official numbers have yet been released -- after a slight tick upward last year, reversing a decades-long trend of falling enrollment, Driver must repeat Thornton’s mantra of growin…

Dr. Darienne Driver is the first woman superintendent for MPS.
Dr. Darienne Driver is the first woman superintendent for MPS.

Driver named permanent superintendent of MPS

In a special board meeting Tuesday night, the MPS Board of School Directors voted to hire acting superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver as the permanent superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools.

Driver, who was named acting superintendent in June after having served as the district's chief innovation officer, will take the post on Wednesday, Oct. 1 and is expected to sign a new contact for the position tonight.

The motion, which passed unanimously, was made by director Meagan Holman and was quickly seconded by multiple colleagues. Another motion passed calling off the search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Gregory Thornton, who left June 30 to assume the role of CEO of Baltimore City Schools.

Afterward, board members sounded positively giddy.

"This feels good," Holman said.

Driver is the first woman in MPS history to hold the position of superintendent.

How about an adult swing park?
How about an adult swing park? (Photo: Flint)

5 ideas for O'Donnell Park

Now that NEWaukee is partnering with Northwestern Mutual to help gather community ideas for sparking life in O’Donnell Park, Milwaukeeans will get a chance to sound off on what they’d like to see happen on this prime Downtown and lakefront real estate.

At a public hearing recently, NEWaukee heard, according to a press release, "that the community wants a safe, well-maintained and attractive public space."

Sure, we all want that at every location in town. But how about more specifically? What will lure us to the site?

You can share and hear ideas at the NEWaukee Social on Wednesday, Oct. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m, at O’Donnell Park. You can also submit ideas online at But in the meantime, here are some ideas to get you talking...

  • An adult swing park like this one. Not THAT kind of adult swinging; get your mind out of the gutter.
  • A European-style piazza with cafes, shops and restaurants and a central gathering spot that can serve as a meeting and mingling and hanging out spot for Downtown dwellers, workers and visitors.
  • A simple, greener park that has less concrete, but more plantings and grass for recreation and relaxation.
  • Quirkier garden spaces like the bamboo, shadow and other gardens at Paris’ Parc de la Villette.
  • A permanent home for the NEWaukee Night Market.

Share your ideas using the Talkback feature below.