By Doug Hissom Special to Published May 21, 2008 at 5:26 AM

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department will take to the the parks this summer, literally. Sheriff David Clarke will add 10 deputies to the 24 already on patrol in the county's green spaces. Most of those deputies were at the lakefront handing out noise violation tickets last summer.

They'll use everything from motorcycles, horses, bicycles, ATVs, personal watercraft, boats and even Segways to get around. (Seeing a deputy on a jet ski in the Humboldt Park lagoon would be quite the sight.)

Patrols will also focus on what the sheriff referred to as "primary parks," those which have produced more police calls. Among them are Lincoln, Washington, Greenfield, Whitnall, Mitchell and Moody.

The sheriff assured the County Board Parks Committee, however, that all 144 parks will be patrolled and that overtime budget money will fund the extra deps in the parks from May 18 to Sept. 13. He did not predict, however, how much the project would cost.

A McGee Legacy: Ald. Terry Witkowski wants to stop the practice of aldermen receiving travel allowances when they're not on the job. The idea was tabled recently to give Witkowski more time to flesh out the idea, but the impetus is clear, according to the resolution.

"Each member shall be entitled to a monthly reimbursement payment unless the member is incapacitated for an entire month by illness, injury or otherwise fails to discharge the duties of the office," reads the proposal.

The last alderman who failed to discharge the duties of the office is none other than Mike McGee Jr., who had difficulty performing his duties from behind bars for the past year.

Well-paid Entertainment: It seems like a lot of money for a three-day gig, but Milwaukee County Zoo officials pay Robert Zigman Marketing $160,000 to handle the entertainment at the Milwaukee a la Carte at the zoo each August. Zigman's been doing the gig since 2005 and Zoo Director Chuck Wickenhauser likes them so much he wants a two-year extension to the deal without even allowing other bids for the job.

A Winning Effort: Environmentalists and others who saw a section of the Kinnickinnic River as something to be preserved rather than developed again successfully prevented the so-called Empowerment Village from getting through the Common Council.

Cardinal Capital Management developers wanted to slice off a piece of the riverfront near Rosedale Avenue for a residential complex for the mentally ill served by the Our Space Foundation and the Red Cross. A cast of thousands showed up in front of the Common Council's Zoning Committee to support the building, including top officials from City Hall.

Even the developer's attorney Tigue Waley Smith donned a suit for his power point presentation, in contrast to his casual attire at previous city meetings on the project. Smith attempted to show that the land was simply the remnant of a previous railyard and had no business being preserved. His presentation showed trash and concrete piled up, belying presentations by environmental advocates that the land had aesthetic value and offered one of the last undeveloped stretches of the river.

The question before the committee was whether to change the zoning from industrial to residential, although a twist to the proposal was the addition of a retail component.

The project was also opposed by Ald. Tony Zielinski, who represents the area.

Property tax arguments don't apply here either since the Empowerment Village would have been run by non-profits who don't pay property taxes.

The committee simply voted not to rezone the site, meaning anyone who wants to build an industrial complex there could do so without public hearings or special city approval. The city got the land using federal money as part of a project to put a bike path along the KK River.

It was going to sell the space for $10,000, a deal indeed. The Milwaukee River Revitalization Foundation board has recommended that the RRF buy the property for the same $10,000 price and preserve it -- provided the city doesn't somehow think that the land should have a higher price tag if it were to stay green.

Activists plan a garlic mustard clean-up on the land at the end of May.

Convention Center: Why bother being a leading advocate for a politically correct position if there isn't a convention on the issue somewhere? The National "Sweatfree" Summit will be held in July in Philadelphia.

Ald. Tony Zielinski, the Milwaukee Common Council's leading proponent of getting the city to divest itself from buying sweatshop-made goods, will get $1,250 from the city to attend the event in the hopes of returning to enlighten city officials that the lowest bid doesn't necessarily have the best social consequences. The lowest-bid mentality been the mindset in City Hall procurement offices, which fought Zielinski's efforts.

In other Council convention happenings, the city will put up $8,640 to send three aldermen to the National League of Cities, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials annual summer bash in lovely Atlanta from July 23 to 27. Since there are five African-American aldermen on the council it could be difficult for someone to be left behind. Odds are that Ald. Joe Davis -- the Council's most frequent flier -- will be on the bus for that one.

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.