By Doug Hissom Special to Published Apr 16, 2008 at 5:16 AM
The ATF is on patrol. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have begun to routinely check taverns for allegedly unlicensed liquor. Unlike the rest of us, tavern owners can't just go to the liquor store to restock, they have to use a wholesale distributor and keep detailed invoices.

The ATF has hit at least six taverns in recent weeks, according to word on the street. The bars receiving surprise visits include Ace High, the Valley Inn, the Ark Inn, the Dawg Pound, Drink ‘em Up and Pandora's Box.

Car Question: A proposed apartment building on Downtown's west side might not have to supply a parking spot for each unit, contrary to city rules. Owners of the building at 2040 W. Wisconsin Ave. want an exemption from the requirement. Ald. Bob Bauman, who represents the area, likes the idea since it would allow the building to cater to folks who use mass transit or walk, for the most part. He says that since the building is geared mostly towards students, parking is not a priority.

"About 50 percent of households in the Avenues West and Concordia neighborhoods do not have cars. This is why there is very strong transit ridership in this area as well," Bauman said in an e-mail. "Generally, I think we require too much off street parking in new developments. It dramatically increases the cost of the development which cost is passed on to tenants and / or buyers.

"For a tenant / buyer who does not have a car, they end up paying a premium for parking capacity they do not benefit from. The parking rates charged by landlords/condo developers do not come close to covering the cost of the required parking. It is another example of the many hidden and indirect costs of cars."

A Wading Issue: It's time to get out the hip-waders and clean up area streams. Saturday marks the day of the 13th annual spring river cleanup sponsored by the Friends of Milwaukee Rivers and other organizations. More than 2,000 volunteers turned out last spring to clean the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers and the group will set up at 36 sites for this weekend's project.

Clearing the Water: Now that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has given its blessing, the Great Lakes Water Compact should breeze through the state Legislature when it convenes this week in a special session. Last week, Gov. Jim Doyle, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, environmental groups and industry representatives announced a compromise on the compact.

Plopping Pills: The danger of flushing pills down the drain or toilet has finally been brought to the attention of the masses as more and more evidence indicates that fish and other aquatic dwellers are ingesting everything from estrogen to steroids.

Waste treatment plants can't filter out pharmaceuticals even though it's been an ago-old tradition to flush the pills down the toilet. To help raise awareness the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District holds a collection so folks can bring in their pills for disposal. Legal ones only please.

"Medicine Collection Day" runs Saturday from 1 p.m. at one of six locations in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine and Washington Counties. Residents can drive or walk up to one of the collection areas and hand over unused medicine to a worker. Volunteer pharmacists from Aurora Pharmacy, Columbia St. Mary's and Costco will sort the meds into one of two categories. Medication should be in the original package or prescription bottle.
The locations are:

  • Milwaukee County: Miller Park, Miller lot by the "sausage haus."
  • Ozaukee County: Port Washington, Ozaukee County Highway Department, 410 S. Spring St., Port Washington; Mequon, Milwaukee Area Technical College
    5555 W. Highland Rd., Mequon.
  • Racine County: 6200 21st St., Racine and 156 E. State St., Burlington.
  • Washington County: Washington County Fair Park, 3000 Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend.

For more information and collection site maps, visit:

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.