By Doug Hissom Special to Published Jan 09, 2008 at 5:05 AM

A Milwaukee Common Council panel recommended paying former Water Works employee Amy Purvis $67,000 after Purvis filed a sex discrimination suit against the city alleging she was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment at the water works facilities.

The city Water Works has long been considered a bastion of testosterone-laden bigotry, including a well-publicized case earlier this century where male workers repeatedly wrote derogatory statements about a female co-worker on walls at one of the plants.

City Attorney Grant Langley recommended that the city go for the pay-off even though, "Water Works denies that Ms. Purvis was subjected to any discrimination or retaliation."

Michael Murphy was the only alderman to oppose the settlement.

Givens Getting Cold Feet: While some prominent local attorneys want to be associated with the defense of Ald. Michael McGee, a most important one does not.

That happens to be his defense attorney, Glenn Givens Jr.

It could be viewed as a tactic to avoid justice, since Givens' latest request to bail out of McGee's defense would delay the trial past election day, but Givens has tried to get out of this case before.

Givens says he has a conflict with McGee, something he claimed last year in trying to get out of the case. That conflict has not prevented Givens from acting as a private investigator for McGee on certain liquor license issues while the alderman sits in jail awaiting trial.

Local immigration and criminal defense attorney Art Heitzer sent out an invitation for a McGee fundraiser slated for this week, noting, "Ald. McGee has been incarcerated without bail since Memorial Day 2007, while those accused of violent offenses with seriously injured alleged victims are often given bail. Meanwhile, his constituents continue to be denied representation."

Airport Anachronism: Putting another runway at Mitchell Field is part of the plan to replace the 440th Airwing, but not everybody is happy. A neighborhood group next to the airport wants to move a private airline service from the northern edge of the airport. Second Harvest, Milwaukee Area Technical College and other groups are interested in using some of the buildings left over by the Airwing.

"Move the fixed base operator and aircraft maintenance facilities out of our back yards and over to a place that was actually designed to handle aircraft. Consider it a land swap that would improve the quality of life for a lot of people," says neighbor Jim Baker.

"People around here usually aren't complainers, but this is nothing more than poorly planned insanity. ... Positive steps must be taken to reduce the environmental burden being placed on adjacent homeowners. City of Milwaukee noise and noxious fumes ordinances are being violated on a regular basis with seeming impunity."

Voucher Visions: The idea of expanding voucher schools to include Milwaukee County didn't sit well with members of the Milwaukee Common Council Judiciary and Legislation Committee. Assembly Bill 637 would allow private schools outside the city to eat from the taxpayer trough under the banner of helping low-income families.

Low-income city families would still be the only ones allowed to send their kids to private schools, but all schools in Milwaukee County would be able to collect the $9,000-plus that comes with serving the poor kids. The bill has long been a favorite for schools like Thomas More, which straddles the city border with St. Francis. The committee was unanimous in its opposition.

Third Street Club Talk: Tavern and restaurant owners on Old World Third Street have become an exclusive club of late, not hesitating to protest any sort of invasion to their staid Old World setting.

Things came to a head this week when some tavern owners went to the media to object to a tavern license being proposed for something called Bootleggers. No matter that just three days earlier they were quoted as embracing a new bar called the Milwaukee Brat House. Must be the promise of sausage.

Old World Third Street has been the locale of such notable rowdy failures as Bar Milwaukee, Visions, Shangri-la and Guse's City Hall. And the tavern folks on the street successfully fended off a plan for a club-type bar last year at the site of the former Visions, but now approve of the Brat House to go in the same space at 1013 N. Old World Third St., right next door to the Old German Beer Hall. (Sense a theme here?)

Maybe they've tired of such popular spots as Lucille's Piano Bar and Have a Nice Day Café, which anchor the north end of the street just off Highland. Bootleggers' owner Bob Carlson wants to put his place at 1023 N. Old World Third, the former site of Mader's Art Gallery.

Businesses on the street last year approved the presence of Tutto in the site of a former furniture store. The family that used to operate Giovanni's owns Tutto.

Bootleggers has a format similar to Have a Nice Day Café, a national chain. They both offer free Coach purses on Thursday's ladies night, but at Bootleggers, ladies drink free all night.

Bootleggers is found only in Minneapolis, but perhaps the drink specials have worried the Third Street Syndicate. All-you-can-drink for $10 is a standard feature and Beer Pong is a regularly advertised special at the Minneapolis location. We should expect Mark Chmura to be a special guest at the opening. 

Doug Hissom Special to
Doug Hissom has covered local and state politics for 20 years. Over the course of that time he was publisher, editor, news editor, managing editor and senior writer at the Shepherd Express weekly paper in Milwaukee. He also covered education and environmental issues extensively. He ran the UWM Post in the mid-1980s, winning a Society of Professional Journalists award as best non-daily college newspaper.

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.