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The Milwaukee County Board is joining the City of Milwaukee in proposing a boycott of doing business with Arizona companies in light of a new law there that allows law enforcement to ask people stopped for other reasons for proof of their citizenship.
The law has drawn protests from Hispanic and civil rights groups across the country, which argue that the law amounts to legalized racial profiling.
Milwaukee Ald. Jim Witkowiak sponsored the city resolution, which was sent to a committee last month for review. He said the law creates "unnecessary confusion and fear."
A County Board committee will consider a similar resolution from supes Peggy West, Gerry Broderick, Elisabeth Coggs and Marina Dimitrijevic. It would direct the county administrative services office "to the extent practicable and not in conflict with the law to boycott travel to and doing business with the State of Arizona, and companies headquartered therein, until Arizona rescinds SB1070 or the law is otherwise ruled to be unenforceable."
Dancing dies: Another teen club bites the dust. The saga of Sugar is over. While the Milwaukee Common Council Licenses Committee deadlocked for a few meetings and then decided on a short suspension for the teen dance club in Walker's Point, Ald. Jim Witkowiak, who represents the area where the club is located on West Mineral Street, successfully got his colleagues to vote to close the joint this week. The vote was 8-4 with two members absent and one abstention.
Traffic, loudness and violent disturbances outside the club caused a bevy of neighbors to organize against the place. In just two years it's going to close.
Witkowiak has long held that the club should be shuttered. He said that hundreds of millions has been spent on Walker's Point neighborhood rehabilitation, but now people are wanting to move away because of late-night clubs in the area.
Witkowiak said he was told by the club owners that they were going to open a Christian teen dance club and that he was ultimately "bamboozled" after the club opened.
"This is 180 degrees out from what they proposed to do," he said. He added that neighbors were "intimidated and scared" to come out against the club because club reps were taking names of opponents at a public meeting. "These people were intimidated and people called me and told me they were scared."
Witkowiak also took on another club in his district, Club Envy on 2nd Street. He successfully argued that the dance license of Club Envy should be taken away instead of having the bar license suspended for a period of time.
At previous hearings concerning Club Envy, neighboring residents and businesses complained about traffic, public urination and other incidents pouring out of the club at closing time.
The alderman warned "if you want Walker's Point to look like downtown Detroit ten years from now" because of the "mayhem they have created," they could keep clubs like Sugar and Envy open.
Playground politics propagated: The Milwaukee County Board isn't a haven for playground politics, but they do pop up now and then. But not usually in a public way from County Board Chair Lee Holloway. Holloway said he was incensed that County Supe Lynn DeBruin leaked the results of a meeting on the dysfunctional state of the Mental Health Complex to thee media after the letter was discuss in a private meeting.
The meeting was about sex assaults at the complex and a complex administrator's apparent casual attitude about it.
A censure at higher levels of government would amount to removing DeBruin's right to vote, but this is the County Board after all and a censure here is like a scolding.
A committee deadlocked 3-3 on the censure this week and the matter goes to the full board next week. Holloway has enough allies to continue his reign as chairman, but that support could be weak when it comes to taking on the popular and most-times effective DeBruin.
No censure attempt of a county supervisor has happened in decades.
Holloway, whose background is in the health care provider industry, has found himself on defense for the complex, which has seen serious budget and staffing cuts under the Walker administration and consequently, a calamitous drop in the ability of the county to care for folks needing Mental Health Complex services. The chairman fought against having the board do a full review of the complex in favor of an audit. That drew some barbs from County Supe John Weishan Jr.
"Your reluctance to take action can only be seen as either you lack the courage to confront the tragedies that have occurred or that you have chosen to accept the status quo in order to satisfy the county executive," Weishan wrote Holloway last month.
Holloway called Weishan's assertion "poppycock."
Weishan is a DeBruin supporter.
White knight maybe: Progressives on the east side of Milwaukee County may have some hope of new representation in the state Senate, now that Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson has declared his intention to run against incumbent Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee). The 7th Senate district is such that it represents the liberal East Side of Milwaukee and the Democratically-inclined though socially conservative suburbs of Oak Creek, St. Francis and South Milwaukee. Plale got the seat after the East Side state Rep. Jon Richards, who was the strongest candidate by far, decided not to run and instead left it to Joel Brennan, a progressive insider, but not one well-known by the populace. Plale's strong support in those southern suburbs put him over the top in his 2003 win.
In 2006 progressives propped up rich guy Donovan Riley to run, but he had to drop out after admitting he voted illegally in the 2000 presidential election.
"We're tired of not being heard," Larson, who was elected to the board two years ago, said. It's crucial to have someone who stands up for the people, not for corporate interests. ... This campaign will be about promoting economic growth with responsible business partners while still protecting consumers and creating family supporting jobs."
Larson also created the Quality of Life Alliance to bring businesses and community members together to fix the transit funding crisis and fully-fund the park system. The Alliance won a historic and hard-fought referendum. Larson also founded the Democratic Training for Elections and Action in Milwaukee that focuses on getting smart, active residents more involved in campaigns and politics.
Progressives hope that the Republican primary for governor in September will have closet Republicans on the South Side casting their votes in the GOP tilt between Scott Walker and Mark Neumann and leave the Dems' battle alone.
Park taken for a ride: Progress isn't moving fast enough for a new park and development on the Milwaukee's northwest side, according the district Ald. Jim Bohl.
The ribbon was cut last week turning Hartung Quarry into Hartung Park, but Bohl wants the city to get going on planning some nice housing to ring the park. He told the Common Council that "it's been beyond frustrating" in trying to get officials from the Department of City Development to put together a plan for the area.
DCD normally does not get its hand forced by an alderman and instead puts plans together at its own pace. That pace is too slow for Bohl. He asked his colleagues to support his resolution ordering DCD to put together its plan.
The former quarry was turned into a landfill in 1964 and the city accepted only clean fill there in order to not have to have pricey clean-up and maintenance costs down the road.
When the park was first being developed five years ago, the Hartung Park Neighborhood Association wanted the city to acquire and rip down the neighborhood's five remaining apartment buildings, located on North 99th Street. It also wanted to see a cul-de-sac of owner-occupied houses built in their place. Bohl wants the DCD marketing plan pronto.
An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.
He lives in Bay View.