By Doug Hissom Special to Published Jan 16, 2008 at 5:23 AM
Taking on the tough issues of the day, state Rep. Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) wants to put the screws on scalpers. Perhaps he couldn't get Hannah Montana tickets for his kids since his brainchild for a bill came as the mythical performer was set to perform in Milwaukee.

"The average citizen can't fairly compete with these unprincipled brokers, and even their own trade association, the National Association of Ticket Brokers, a D.C.-based advocacy organization, has expressly condemned this practice," states Staskunas about his bill regulating ticket brokers.

The bill would:

  • Require resellers to register with the state.
  • Require resellers to maintain a permanent office in state.
  • Have resellers pay an annual registration fee of $500.
  • Make the use of ticket purchasing software illegal.
  • Limit brokers from acquiring more than 1 percent of the total number of tickets.
  • Set maximum reselling price at 45 percent above face value if venue seats more than 6,000, and 20 percent above face value if the venue is smaller.
  • Require brokers to prominently disclose its refund policy on their Web site and in any physical sales location.
  • Exempt charities that use the profits wholly for the charitable purposes.

One outlet for Hannah Montana tickets is most certainly not disappointed with the dearth of tickets on the market. North Shore Bank reports that 13,000 people entered a bank-sponsored contest to win eight suite seats at the bank's Bradley Center box for the show.

Historic Status Is in the Eye of the Developer: Developer Jim Haertel has championed his Pabst Brewery buildings as historic in character. But he apparently doesn't want the city to make sure he keeps their historic character. Haertel, who owns what could be the key building in the old brewery site -- the visitor's pub -- asked to be excluded from city sustainability rules, which would require developers involved with the brewery rehab to meet energy efficiency guidelines, storm water management regulations and to preserve the historic character of the buildings. Most of the project area is owned by Towne Realty and is part of a tax incremental district.

Low Fraud Report: The City of Milwaukee's fraud hotline isn't exactly clogged with informants narc-ing on bad guys. What does that mean? Either there isn't a burgeoning level of incompetence at City Hall or people are just too lazy to call. In 2007, City Hall received 89 contacts, including 51 from citizens.

City employees complained 21 times and 18 asked for anonymity. That figure is down from 104 calls received in 2006 and 118 in 2005. Most of the calls were for code enforcement and second place was for fraud and abuse by employees.

Of 14 calls alleging criminal conduct, the Milwaukee Police Department handled those with child abuse and illegal drug activity leading the way in that category. The Federal Bureau of Investigation handled five of those cases, including a case of food stamp abuse.

Democracy Now, or Whenever: How does somebody assess the state of democracy? We're not sure, but the folks at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and the Midwest Democracy Network are giving it a shot in a new book, "Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America's Heartland."

"The five states this book looks at have very different political histories and political cultures, but all five have something in common. Democracy is in serious trouble in each one of them," said Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe, one of the book's authors.

"If you compare Wisconsin's political history to the other four states', we have the most in common with Minnesota. But if you compare the current condition of our democracy to what's happening throughout the Great Lakes region, Wisconsin's recent experience is more like Illinois' and Ohio's ... It's that Wisconsin's political culture has changed more dramatically, and it's been a change for the worse."

The book comes out at the same time the state Legislature pretends to be working on campaign finance reform under the guise of a special session.

More info can be found at

A Shot Across Butler's Bow: Daniel Suhr, a law student at Marquette University, attempts to elevate his status using the blog An avowed Federalist, Suhr takes on state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, labeling him a judicial activist. But Suhr's sources are a motley crew at best. He cites such legal geniuses as Michael Brennan, professor Rick Esenberg and Charlie and Diane Sykes ... really.

"Justice Butler does not show every indicator of judicial activism in every case. On the whole, however, his opinions show a disturbing proclivity for activist methods of reasoning," concludes Suhr in his nine-page tome.

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.