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Milwaukee Public Schools now has an "official" policy banning bullying at MPS schools. And we thought fighting was already a suspension-earning offense, but bullying apparently stops short of that.
According to the new policy, "Bullying is defined as deliberate or intentional behavior using words or actions, intended to cause fear, humiliation, intimidation, harm, or social exclusion. Bullying may be repeated behavior involving an imbalance of power motivated by an actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic, such as, but not limited to: age, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, gender identify, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, and social, economic or family status."
A Massachusetts' anti-bullying law was used to charge nine teens in March for harassing a fellow student to the point of causing her to commit suicide.
The policy also covers "assault, hitting, kicking, theft, threatening or intimidating language, name-calling, cruel rumors, racist remarks, spreading rumors, social exclusion and isolation and including use of e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, digital pictures or images, cell phones, or website postings and even extends to engaging in bullying through another or on behalf of another."
The board claims that "actions were considered necessary because bullying is known to have harmful social, physical, psychological, and academic impacts on the bullies, the victims, and bystanders" and that behavior should be punished through "appropriate consequences."
Alarms sounded: Private alarm companies will have more paperwork and closer scrutiny from the City of Milwaukee if they want to do business here, according to recommendations made by a special task force to look into industry practices.
The Private Alarm Systems Task Force was set up after citizens were complaining of deceptive practices and false information being spewed from dealers. One of the major falsehoods was that police would respond to alarm calls, which hasn't been the case for a few years.
A key provision is a city mandate that the companies have a 30-minute response time. Operators would also have to get two separate licenses from the city, one for sales and the other for the general business. If the company is a bad operator, it would allow the city to suspend the company from selling alarms while still servicing its existing customers. Sales people would also have to register with the city and go through city-approved training.
Recommendations also dictate the size of type used on contracts as well as requiring separate permits for installing alarms. The Police Department would be charged with having weekly contact with dealers to work out problems.
"We think there are improvements to be made to our regulations and that we can outline what can and cannot be done when alarm companies are disclosing sales, installation and services," said Ald. Robert Puente, a former Milwaukee police captain. "The ultimate goal was to suggest improvements that will better protect our citizens who are relying on the companies for safety and security."
Task force members included: Alds. Puente and Willie Hines, Jr.; Richard Pfaff;, Ann McCarthy; David Stanosz; Raymond Statis and Christopher Utter.
The group met 11 times over the course of the past six months.
Bridging the funding gap: The City of Milwaukee is being stimulated by the federal government into tearing down and rebuilding two major Downtown bridges.
If city officials give their blessing, Milwaukee will ask for $21.5 million from the feds to repair and rebuild the Wisconsin and Juneau Avenue bridges over the Milwaukee River. The city and state would have to chip in $7.8 million.
The plan is to replace the Juneau Avenue bridge entirely beginning in Fall 2011 and complete the project by fall 2013.
The Wisconsin Avenue bridge plan, although more costly to the city, would replace the deck and other repairs between fall 2011 and fall 2012. The two closings will make it a tricky river crossing for Downtown travelers during that time.
The city's last two bridge projects, especially the State Street span reconstruction, were plagued by huge delays causing affected businesses to chew the ear of city officials for hurting their livelihoods. The cost overruns and delays left many parties with asphalt on their faces.
Two at once could be even more fun.
A Common Council committee approved asking for the money this week and the full council will likely go along with the plan at its meeting July 27.
Break out the champagne: Walgreens will likely be peddling beer and wine at three of its stores next month after receiving a positive nod from the Milwaukee Licenses Committee. While the chain's legal and PR teams called the proposal a start to having all of its Milwaukee stores getting into the alcohol sales scene. The chain used to sell liquor, beer and wine, but stopped some time ago after public perception issues. Now, apparently, all that's forgotten in favor of revenue enhancement.
But Ald. Joe Dudzik didn't buy the argument. He says there are enough liquor outlets in the city as it is.
"I just don't see this as a good idea," he said. One of the first Milwaukee Walgreens selling alcohol will be in his district at 6030 W. Oklahoma Ave. The other two are at 6292 S. 27th St. and 275 W. Wisconsin in the Grand Avenue Mall.
Corporate reps, led by Milwaukee power attorney John Daniels, delivered a letter that holds Walgreens to selling only beer and wine for four years, even though it was recognized that the letter was not legally binding.
But the chain's representatives did not leave the room without a bit of a tongue-lashing from Ald. Jim Bohl, chairman of the committee. He said he had some real problems with a Walgreens at 77th and Capitol that were not satisfied by the corporate HQ in his opinion.
That prompted Daniels to tell Bohl "we'll make sure your concerns are dealt with in a timely manner" and that Walgreens will be shipping up a local liaison to handle aldermanic issues.
Open soon for the inquisitive: A closed library can be quite the blights on a neighborhood, representing an affront to its residents by taking away access to knowledge that they used to have. Unfortunately for Milwaukee residents, the city continues to look at closing libraries as a budgetary option.
The first to close within the past few years was the Finney Library on the North Side.
City officials worked hard to find a suitable replacement tenant for the library and had to even re-open the bidding process to get the right tenant.
Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines now thinks the former library has one in the form of the Wisconsin Lutheran College. The college will take over the building at 4243 W. North Ave. and start a "Pathways to College" program there.
"The goal of Pathways is to prepare young people to be first-generation college graduates. Usually, these kids come from families that have no exposure to college/universities and think of higher education as something foreign or impossible. Hines immediately thought of the Finney," said Hines' aide Alex Runner.
The building will be remodeled into classrooms, a computer lab and a family resource center for the neighborhood.