By Doug Hissom Special to Published Apr 03, 2009 at 5:23 AM

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Private efforts to pay for more street surveillance on the near South Side will be back for another year, says Ald. Bob Donovan.

It's called "Operation Impact" and it uses cameras and increased foot patrols to saturate certain high-crime areas. The 2009 version will expand its scope both geographically and financially.

Donovan said the program, which raised $176,000 last year, hopes to net $250,000 in 2009 in order to facilitate an expansion east of South 16th Street and west into the Jackson Park neighborhood.

"The basic recipe and approach is there and is proven to be successful, and I strongly believe it will work in those new areas as well," he said.

Operation Impact has focused on "broken windows" law enforcement, with officers enforcing all laws and city ordinances from loud music, littering and traffic violations to prostitution, theft and robbery.

In June, the Common Council began accepting private donations for police overtime costs that allowed Operation Impact patrol officers to target the area through the summer.

Recalling the Referendum: A group calling itself the Quality of Life Alliance is reminding folks that Gov. Jim Doyle's budget has left out an important item -- allowing Milwaukee County to pass a 1 percent sales tax increase to pay for better parks and better mass transit.

The results of a November election referendum supported a tax increase -- or at least the ability to discuss one. The county is not allowed to increase its sales tax beyond the current .05 percent.

The group says Doyle's plan for Regional Transportation Authorities, which would have taxing powers, may work for a transit plan, but forgets about the needs of the parks. The Quality of Life Alliance is urging people to lobby lawmakers to include the provision in the next budget.

Solar Watch: Three finalists reportedly have been selected to compete for the final nod to build a self-sustaining energy efficient neighborhood in Bay View on the site of a former Army Reserve installation.

The city received a surprising seven bids for building the project. The site is the largest vacant space in Bay View. The approximately 5.6-acre lot is bordered by Bay and Conway Streets and Logan and Lincoln Avenues.

The city asked for bids to include single-family, townhouses and multi-family dwellings.

Reports are that two of the finalists include the Milwaukee Housing Authority and New Land Development. The Housing Authority specializes in rent-to-own homes and rental units in general. New Land is known for building multi-unit high rises on the city's East Side.

Ald. Tony Zielinski has indicated that the Department of City Development will make an official announcement of the finalists soon.

Other developers pitching the project include:

  • Sherman & Associates of Minneapolis
  • HD Development of Milwaukee
  • Direct Current of Milwaukee
  • Traditional Neighborhood Design of North Carolina
  • Vetter Denk of Milwaukee

Earlier this week, a New Land project was the major discussion at the City Planning Commission. New Land's High Bridge project on Kane Place and Water Street needs all of its windows replaced and insulation put behind the building's facade, which is crumbling due to poor workmanship.

The condo association for the building has hired new architects to address the problem and the city must give permission for the work to be done. The roof also needs "comprehensive repair," the association's architect told the commission.

Money from a lawsuit settlement will be used to fix the building.

Election Coming: Several important judicial races -- the least of which is a state Supreme Court tilt -- as well as a few school board contests are on the ballot Tuesday. County court contests are also scheduled.

Prior Proper Planning: Milwaukee County's fiscal house is not as disorganized as a recent report would suggest, says County Board Chairman Lee Holloway.

The pre-eminent local think tank, Public Policy Forum, issued a paper describing the long-term fiscal outlook for county government as "grim."

"We have clear and serious challenges, but this report shows they are not insurmountable," says Holloway.

He also took a swipe at his nemesis, County Exec Scott Walker, saying that his 2006 "gloom and doom" tour never materialized, yet Walker took credit for fixing a "fabricated" crisis.

"If you declare a crisis and it doesn't happen, you can take credit for fixing it," Holloway says.

Strategic planning will stabilize the county, the chairman says, adding that the planning should be kept in-house.

"The one point in the (Public Policy Forum) report with which I strongly disagree is the suggestion of outside intervention if county leaders cannot agree on a plan to move forward," he said.

Off the Dole: It appears Gerard Randall's days of feeding off the public trough may be over. Randall used to run the Private Industry Council, whose dismal efforts prompted the city to take over the organization's $15 million budget.

During his tenure at PIC, Randall was criticized for overspending on remodeling his office and for starting and then not finishing high-profile job creation efforts.

Randall appeared to land on his feet when he grabbed a $125,000 a year no-bid contract to run a job-training program targeted at young African-American males.

Walker vetoed Randall's contract and the veto was upheld on a 9-9 vote from the County Board.

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.