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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

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County Executive Chris Abele offers a counterpoint to Begel's blog about the firing of Sue Black.
County Executive Chris Abele offers a counterpoint to Begel's blog about the firing of Sue Black.

Abele responds

This week I wrote about County Executive Chris Abele and the abrupt firing of Parks Director Sue Black.

I wrote that I was disappointed in Abele for the firing since it smacked of the usual kind of political head hunting and I had hopes that he was above all of that.

I heard back from him via a message on my Facebook page. Here's his message:

"Hey, David.

"Last time you wrote about me I recall having an opportunity to chat, which is always enjoyable, and whether or not you agreed with me, at least you'd know what my point of view was. I apologize for whatever behavior warranted the revocation of that privilege.

"If I wrote an article about your article without asking you about it, I might say, 'Despite a long history of voluntary support for numerous environmental causes and specifically Milwaukee County Parks, despite a long friendship with Sue Black, despite a habit of making thoughtful and deliberated decisions (in the last year, despite inheriting from Walker a $55 MM defecit (sic) yet still balancing a budget while ADDING funding for improving services at the Behavioral Health Division, restoring funding for transit, ADDING funding for Universal Screening (at the DA's long request), ending furlough days, adding domestic partner benefits, and specifically saying that the decision with Sue was neither easy or quickly made and based on performance and not wanting to share details [all of which might lead an outsider to think of a County Exec who had generally done exactly what he said he would and had a long history of supporting parks probably had a pretty good reason, and asking him about it probably wouldn't lead to much harm], Begel chose to publish his judgement (sic) that Abele could not possibly have had any reason to do this that the author would have found adequate.' But I like you and I'd give you a call to hear your thoughts first.

"I'm hoping that when I don't hand the parks over to Haliburton (sic) management, when I don't slash the Parks budget…

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Winter, please take note from summer. Thanks.
Winter, please take note from summer. Thanks.

What should we do about winter?

Frank Sinatra sang "as the days dwindle down to a precious few" and that's where we are now, nearing the end of yet another wonderful summer.

Think about how good we are at doing summer so that everyone can enjoy it.

There is music all the time in county parks as well as swimming and water parks and fishing and all kinds of recreation. We have patios outside restaurants all over town. We have Summerfest and State Fair and countless smaller festivals both at Henry Maier Festival Park and churches throughout the area.

You can hardly go a night without some kind of entertainment or recreation or dining beckoning you to step outside and participate.

Milwaukee gets summer.

Now, what can we do about winter?

I've been around a long time and I remember Winterfest and a variety of other civic attempts to make our winters approach our summers on the "let's all have fun" scale.

Nothing has worked out, with the possible exception of the skating at Downtown's Red Arrow Park. It's almost as if we have thrown up our arms and given up to the cold and snow.

I'm not sure we should give up.

Obviously when people in Milwaukee decide to have fun, we know how to do it. The ingredients are really pretty simple. Food. Music. Recreation. Price.

But like every recipe in the world, it's more than just ingredients that make a great dish. You have to know how to mix it up the right way.

When you look at our summer it becomes apparent that it's a pretty organic kind of thing. Oh, there are some big organized events, Summerfest and State Fair, but a lot of the fun is what in baseball you might call "small ball."

The way we have always done it in the past is to get somebody or some organization to run things and then stage a festival. I think we need a new approach.

We should find a way for the city and the county to cooperate to encourage small groups and individuals to create and stage their own events. We can have a bunch of small events like music and bingo and skating and snow v…

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Hungry like the ...
Hungry like the ...

The doggone legalization of wolf hunting

The last thing anyone should ever want to do is get involved with the Byzantine rule book of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

From hunting deer to fishing for bass to camping under trees, the DNR and its Natural Resources Board have a history of creating enough rules that you might mistake them for the Internal Revenue Service.

The latest set of rules, however, has raised the ire of humane societies and other organizations through the state who have filed a suit against the DNR.

It all stems from the fact that wolves are now no longer an endangered species. Once the federal government made that decision you could almost hear the salivating by hunters. A wolf on my wall? Holy cow!

The problem is that the DNR said it was OK to use dogs in the hunt for the wolf. There are all kinds of hairs to split about all of this, but basically the rules allow for unlimited use of dogs in hunting wolves.

The doomsday scenario drawn by the plaintiffs in this case is that there's this wolf somewhere in the woods and a couple of dogs track him down and find him and start barking. This kind of makes the wolf angry, and we all know what happens with an angry wolf.

This gives new meeting to the concept of dog fighting. Even Michael Vick might feel queasy about this. Can you imagine Rover and Buffy in battle with a wolf?

Like I said, I hate to get involved in DNR stuff, but on this one, it sure seems like the department ought to try and protect dogs. I mean if a couple of fewer wolves get killed, big deal. But if dogs get mauled by wolves, then we've got a major problem on our hands.

Terry Evans: you are missed.
Terry Evans: you are missed.

Remembering Terry today

Today is the one year anniversary of the saddest day of my life.

It was one year ago that I learnwd that Terry Evans, a dear, dear friend and a well-known judge on the United States District Court of Appeals was going to die in just a few hours.

Terry had come down, inexplicably, with something called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. There was no cure. He had just been flown by helicopter to Chicago where a sliver of hope was held out.

But nothing worked and his family made the decision, with doctors and other health professionals, to let him go.

There was so much that was hard to believe about this. He was healthy. He never smoked. His spirit was both indomitable and infectious. Not only did everybody love him, he loved everybody.

His family was like our family. His children didn't live in Milwaukee, so every Father's Day my daughters delivered pistachio nuts to his home to wish him a Happy Father's Day. He thought it was a wonderful gesture even though his wife, a healthy-eating devotee, rationed the intake of nuts.

I loved his children, and had a little special place for his son, David, perhaps because we share a first name. I played golf once with Terry and David and as he watched him hit a shot, Terry turned to me and said, "That's my boy. My beautiful boy."

His family and friends wrapped their arms around him but were unable to lift him from the grips of this disease. That was especially saddening and frustrating.

A group email went out giving the time that he was going to die. His family asked everybody to raise a glass of wine at the hour he would leave us.

Some people had the wine. Others said a prayer. Some held hands.

I cried. I cried like I had never done as an adult. And one year later, I still cry.