Dear readers: It's time to bring you updates on two recent blogs I wrote for OnMilwaukee.com.
Update No. 1: The adventures of John Jazwiec
As you may have heard, the Milwaukee Police Department has been informed by attorneys representing RedPrairie Corp. president John Jazwiec that he no longer wants to pursue his complaint about an alleged home invasion.
If you recall, Jazwiec sent an e-mail to Mayor Tom Barrett on Oct. 1, detailing an alleged Sept. 27 incident, in which Jazwiec said a gunman invaded his home on Milwaukee's East Side and held him and his family hostage, before stealing some computers and a cell phone. Jazwiec told Barrett he had not contacted the police about the incident. Jazwiec said he and his neighbors in the 3100 block of Marietta Avenue had agreed they "can't trust the mayor or the police."
Jazwiec told Barrett his next step will be "the de-annexation process and our large per capita tax revenues which we can then use to fund police, schools, and real paved roads."
Police began investigating when neighbors expressed concerns about the incident after Jazwiec had sent e-mails to other East Side residents. Jazwiec then left town on a business trip to London.
Today, Milwaukee Police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said, "I have been informed by detectives investigating allegations made by John Jazwiec that Milwaukee Police have been contacted by Mr. Jazwiec's attorneys and they have informed us Mr. Jazwiec no longer wishes to pursue the matter originally reported to police regarding an alleged home invasion ... The case is not closed, because his wife still reported a crime."
When informed today about Jazwiec's latest stunt, Milwaukee Ald. Michael D'Amato issued the following statement:
"Several weeks ago John Jazwiec, chief executive officer for RedPrairie and a resident of Milwaukee's 3rd Aldermanic District, loudly reported that a crime was committed at his home that included his family being held hostage by a gun-wielding assailant. At the time, many of us raised questions about his claims because of the bizarre behavior of Mr. Jazwiec.
"This morning Mr. Jazwiec's attorneys contacted the Milwaukee Police Department indicating that he wanted them to stop pursuing this case. Mr. Jazwiec reminds me of a spoiled little boy who throws a tantrum trashing his parents' home in order to get attention, then just wants it all to go away when his father comes home. If only life were that easy.
"In fact, Mr. Jazwiec's actions have unnecessarily besmirched the reputation of one of Milwaukee's finest and safest neighborhoods. Many residents have genuine concerns about crime in their neighborhood that seem to have taken a back seat to Mr. Jazwiec's sensational claims. They deserve not only an apology, but also the truth about exactly what happened that night at Mr. Jazwiec's home, if anything.
"I plan on meeting with both the MPD and the City Attorney to request that they assess Mr. Jazwiec for the total police costs incurred during this episode. Public safety is the number one priority for the citizens of Milwaukee. Police pursuing sensational claims about incidents that may have never occurred reduces their ability to follow-up on real crime. I believe it is unfair that the taxpayers of the city of Milwaukee carry the burden of the cost of the investigation of these spurious claims."
Update No. 2: Downtown parking meters
They say you can't fight city hall. Well, of course you can. Heck, you can even make suggestions, and they listen. And sometimes, they even take action!
A few weeks ago in this space, I wrote a blog that was very critical about "Luke," the new digital parking meter system that was recently installed in Downtown Milwaukee. Yes, I fully realize that this was not the most pressing or urgent issue facing civilized society. Maybe it's right up with there with the great Milwaukee Fonzie statue debate.
Regardless, the blog inspired follow-up comments from several people, some of whom agreed, but many of whom were critical of my take on Luke. The critics said the new parking meters were easy to operate and were an upgrade over the garden variety, coin-plugged meters.
Of course, those critics missed the point. I wasn't complaining about digital parking meters. I wasn't even saying that the digital meters were difficult to operate. I was merely complaining that there were absolutely no directions to explain to anyone that the digital meters even existed. There were only numbers on signs next to parking spaces. There was no context as to what the signs meant or what a law-abiding motorist should do.
How can you feed a parking meter, if you don't know one even exists? Nothing directed people to go find the nearest digital box with a "P" on it.
The blog simply suggested that the city should place stickers on the signs, telling people to look for the nearest "P" box, where they could pay for parking.
Well, guess what? The signs now have stickers, telling people to look for the nearest "P" box. Actually, the stickers read, "Note space number. Pay at any meter designated with 'P.'"
Cecilia Gilbert, permits and communications manager for the Milwaukee Public Works Department, said the blog, along with input from the good folks at the Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District #21, prompted her agency to react.
"I do know that we did get a report. Milwaukee Downtown -- we had engaged them in disseminating information about the Luke. They saw people staring at it, looking blank. They had suggested stickers," Gilbert said.
So, our civilization takes another step forward.
Of course, we'll see how much we still like our fancy-pants "Luke" when it's zero degrees, the wind is howling at about 30 mph, there's two feet of snow and we have to walk an extra block or so to a distant parking meter, remember our sign number, take off our gloves and fumble for the right change or pull out our wallets and stick in our credit cards. And then wait for the receipt.
Maybe then we'll understand why "Cool Hand Luke," the character played by Paul Newman who inspired the name of the new parking meters, kicked off the heads off of those confounded things in the first place.
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.