By Doug Hissom Special to Published May 28, 2010 at 5:26 AM

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The divisive debate over rail mass transit for Milwaukee continues since city and county officials can't seem to get on the same page. The recent disagreement played itself out in front of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority, which voted to submit an application to the feds to pay for preliminary engineering for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line. Members of the committee include appointees from the mayor's office as well as the county board.

Milwaukee county supervisors Lee Holloway and Michael Mayo voted against the request, saying that the county bus system needs money first, especially a source of dedicated funding. Despite approving a county referendum asking that the sate allow the county to raises the sales tax to fund the bus system, taxpayers were left hanging when Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the plan.

Holloway said rubber tires should come before rail.

"In good conscience, we could not vote to prioritize commuter rail service over the bus system," Holloway said. "We cannot leave vulnerable Milwaukee residents in the dust. According to projections released by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, 75 percent of the KRM's riders will use an automobile to access the KRM rail stations. Taking commuter rail is a lifestyle choice that shouldn't play second fiddle to the needs of those who depend on the Milwaukee County bus system, including the poor, seniors, students and individuals with disabilities.

"Mayor Barrett and County Executive Walker should deliver to our residents their long-term solutions for the rubber-tire mass transit system in Milwaukee County," Holloway said.

At stake is some $90 million-plus in federal aid. Barrett wants some to go to a Downtown trolley system while Walker has advocated that the bus system should be funded instead of rail, ignoring the concept that both could work together for the region's transportation needs.

Holloway and Mayo will be able to submit a minority report with the federal application.

Bike party: Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn brought the MPD motorcycle brigade to the Harley-Davidson Museum to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the police motorcycle unit.

No doubt the unit started due to the proximity of the factory, but Flynn noted that it was the MPD squad is the longest continuous user of Harleys on the job. He also said the squad was the first in the country to be equipped with computers and he also said he was pleased that the unit has handled its expansion of duties beyond just traffic needs to full-scale police work.

After statements from Bill Davidson and his father Willie G., Flynn, flanked by the two, opened his comments with this one-liner:

"The first thing I want to say is this. I love the smell of motorcycle exhaust. It smells like victory," he said, which elicited slight laughter from the Davidsons.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee aldermen received a modicum of good news regarding the Police Department overtime budget, a perennial thorn in their side for some time.

Aldermen were told that this year's overtime is running $900,000 under what was spent at this time last year. But they were also told that the overtime budget should still be used up by the end of the year after the summer patrols are increased.

Here's Tony: He dropped out of the lieutenant governor's race and now Milwaukee Ald. Tony Zielinski seems to have his sights set on another title: Milwaukee's most eligible bachelor.

Zielinski has a profile set up looking for women on the Yahoo Personals Web site. Zielinski recently got divorced.

Zielinski's pitch for women could be bogus since security is kind of lax at Yahoo, but there are official photos of the Bay View alderman on the page, including one of a svelte-looking Tony in the gym wearing a red tank top.

To save you the time and hassle of registering at Yahoo, in the interest of true public service, we'll give you a peek at what Tony's looking for in a woman and a bit about the man himself. You can find him under "Tony100214" with the slogan "Carpe Diem."

Some tidbits about Tony:

  • He's 49, divorced and has no kids, but is not adverse to dating someone with kids. 
  • Body type: Athletic and toned
  • Smoke: No way
  • Drink: Social drinker
  • Favorite reading: Muscle and Fitness, Runner's World and GQ magazines. "The Tipping Point" is the last book he read.
  • What he does for fun: "I enjoy weekend excursions to places I have not been to before." He also likes to eat and drink at Elsa's and Louise's at Cathedral Square. 
  • Favorite tunes: "My favorite musical group is Led Zepplin, but I also enjoy pop music from the 60's, 70's and 80's."
  • His statement to lure in the ladies: "I work out a lot and am in top physical shape. In similar fashion, I strive to grow intellectually and explore new things. When I have time I do like to travel around the world. When time is limited, I like staying home and unwinding to music, movies, dinner and drinks."

He also describes himself as "athletic and toned" and "slender."

Radical animal support: The GOP-anointed candidate for lieutenant governor continues his agenda of trying to highlight weird spending by the Doyle administration. State Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon), whose campaign is centered around the theme of his being a taxpayer watchdog if he's elected to the state's second-in-command, is taking on the Department of Natural Resources in his latest campaign missive.

Calling the Humane Society of the United States a "radical left-wing special interest group," Davis takes issue with the DNR spending $6,000 to help pay for 30 radio spots persuading people not to bother wildlife in the wild. The Humane Society is chipping in $6,000 as well.

Task force employed: It has members now, but a proposed unemployment task force for the City of Milwaukee awaits blessing by the Common Council. Alds. Zielinski and Ashanti Hamilton are pitching the task force as a way to focus on joblessness among African-American males.

The membership reads like a who's who in the world of inner city job issues: Marc Levine, founding director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development; Wendell Harris, first vice president of the NAACP-Milwaukee branch; Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce; Julia Taylor of the Greater Milwaukee Committee; Joe Fahey of the Institute for Wisconsin's Future; Ken Wheeler of Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH); MATC economics professor Michael Rosen; Lenard Wells, a local researcher in African-American unemployment; Gerard Randall, senior fellow at the New American Institute; Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ and Curt Harris, executive director of the African American Chamber of Commerce.

The task force is expected to produce a report within six months of its first meeting. The Common Council will consider the idea in June.

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.