By Doug Hissom Special to Published May 29, 2009 at 2:21 PM

The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, its advertisers or editorial staff.

The Bonifas Quartet will provide the musical entertainment when the 2009 season of Jazz in the Park, a popular free concert series sponsored by the East Town Association, kicks off Thursday night in Cathedral Square Park.

For now, it seems as though East Town will provide the alcohol.

East Town officials banned carry-ins -- a tradition since the festival debuted in 1991 -- after Milwaukee Police pointed out that it was illegal for patrons to consume their own spirits because East Town is is licensed to sell booze on the premises.

State Rep. Leon D. Young (D-Milwaukee), who has attended Jazz in the Park for years, introduced legislation to alter the statute, which also would ban carry-ins at River Rhythms and similar events.

This week, the Committee on State Affairs and Homeland Security, which counts Young as a member, unanimously approved Assembly Bill 248, which would allow patrons to carry their own alcoholic drinks into the park.

According to the East Town Web site, officials plan to adhere to the ban despite a change in the law.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Eco-Outburst: Residents attending a community meeting this week in Bay View did not seem excited about the highly-touted "Eco-Bay" project.

The project was billed as the first energy-efficient neighborhood plan in the country. The idea is that the five-acre development would not use any power other than that developed by solar panels on the buildings.

The vacant space once housed an Army Reserve base is bordered by Lincoln Avenue, Bay Street, Logan Avenue and Conway Street.

Residents seemed particularly upset about the city's pushing of a federally-subsidized senior housing project. Six bidders responded to a request for proposals from the city, but the city's own Housing Authority is getting the nod from the Department of City Development. A bevy of DCD officials were on hand to tout the plan.

Officials told attendees that the plan calls for construction of the senior housing, followed by eight single-family homes and some duplexes. Several attendees complained that they had not seen other plans for the space and that the Housing Authority's proposal wouldn't help the tax base because the housing would be subsidized. The Housing Authority also specializes in a rent-to-own program.

Still Playing Pension Politics: County Executive Scott Walker says that this week's $45 million settlement between Milwaukee County and its financial adviser, Mercer Inc., does not vindicate anybody.

"While the settlement is one of the largest in history and a positive outcome for county taxpayers, county finances were irreparably damaged by the 2001 pension deal and the careless actions of county officials and their consultants," Walker said via his gubernatorial campaign Web site.

"There are no heroes in this story and the only victims are the current and future county taxpayers who will pay the price for their mistakes."

Former County Executive Tom Ament, who resigned when the pension plan's ramifications were exposed, says he was right all along in that he received bad advice from county advisors.

Reaching Out to Touch You
: Sen. Herb Kohl has finally gotten cyber savvy. He announced this week that folks can sign up for a regular e-mail newsletter from his office. We'll let you know if he has anything of import to say. Maybe he is running for re-election.

Question of the Week: While pols and judges are getting positive headlines for not accepting pay raises this year or next, why aren't they offering to reduce their pay?

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.