By Doug Hissom Special to Published Sep 26, 2007 at 5:23 AM

It was a rollicking time 40 years ago in our fair city. Nights were taken up with protests and demonstrations for an open housing law, which Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier refused to pass.

A series of events will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Milwaukee open housing marches and to discuss strategies to solve problems of racism, segregation, poverty and social inequity today.

Events will be held from Thursday through Sunday.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, the documentary drama "March on Milwaukee" will be performed at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 790 N. Van Buren St.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, "March On Milwaukee: More than One Struggle" will open at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society / Museum, 2620 W. Center St.

On Saturday, "March On Milwaukee" a community conference with a keynote speech by Dick Gregory and a lunch program featuring Vel Phillips will be held at the UWM Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. The event is free and open to the public with advanced registration.

On Sunday, there will be a march across the James E. Groppi Bridge (aka 16th Street viaduct). It's doubtful racist South Siders will show up to throw bottles as they did 40 years ago.

Discouraging a Scourge: Milwaukee Ald. Jim Bohl took aim at the installment loan businesses last week, pushing for a law that would restrict the establishments to all but commercial districts and strip malls. "At least we have some protection and barriers," offered Bohl.

Clean Water on Tap: Here is some good news for drinkers from the state Department of Natural Resources: A new report shows Wisconsin residents tap some of the world's cleanest water at a bargain price. About 96.5 percent of the state's public water supply systems served drinking water that met all state and federal standards in 2006, and they delivered a full day's supply to a family of four -- 220 gallons -- for less than $1, according to "Safe Water on Tap," the annual drinking water report Wisconsin is required to submit to the federal government.

Public water systems are those serving at least 25 people at least 60 days a year and ranging from small restaurants and motels up to the state's largest cities. Wisconsin has 11,441 of these systems and a 96.5 percent compliance rate in 2006. Wisconsin has more public water supply systems than any other state but Michigan. Public systems meet the daily water needs of 4 million people. Bacterial contamination remained the top concern in 2006, with 3 percent of Wisconsin's public systems exceeding the health-based standards. Radium followed as the second most common violation in 2006, with 28 systems serving water that exceeded health-based standards for radium.

Lawmakers on the Dole: The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign asserts that the lack of a state budget has cost taxpayers $17.2 million while the Legislature's conference committee works to overcome its differences. The figure represents salaries, fringe benefits and other costs to operate the Legislature for a quarter of the year. Its current annual budget is $68.8 million.

Top Issue of the Day: Two Milwaukee lawmakers are weighing on one of the hot topics of fall-the Big Ten Network. The BTN can only be found on DirecTV and is not carried by local cable systems. State Rep. Josh Zepnick and State Sen. Jim Sullivan have sent a letter to Time Warner and Charter cable companies asking them to carry the network.

"We all know UW-Madison games are among the best and The Big Ten Network goes beyond that, offering specific features on the university's highly regarded research, top-notch education programs, students and more," said Zepnick. "This network offers an opportunity to see all the good things happening at one of Wisconsin's many fine universities and we need to make sure as many people see that as possible. That's why we are urging that The Big Ten Network be put onto expanded basic cable, so everyone can see the great things happening here in Wisconsin."

One Race: In a rather quiet political season, at least one supervisor will face a challenge. Edaniel Cody announced his campaign to run against County Supe Lynne DeBruin. Cody is a leader in the State and County Democratic Party, IT administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and steward for his union, the Wisconsin Professional Employee's Council, AFT local 4848. He termed DeBruin "an entrenched politician." "Many residents of the 15th district have expressed their displeasure in only hearing from their Supervisor when it's an election year," he said.

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.