By Doug Hissom Special to Published Aug 31, 2007 at 5:16 AM

Talk about legends in their own minds. Not that we dislike the Bob & Brian morning show on 102.9 FM, but asking to have a street named after them may be a bit too much in a city that "honors" its former mayoral great Frank Zeidler with an ugly building and Henry Maier with a slab of asphalt at the lakefront which everyone still refers to as the “Summerfest grounds.”

A marketing flak at 102.9 FM’s parent company, the Milwaukee Radio Group, has asked the city to name a stretch of the street in front of the radio station “Bob and Brian Way.” The marketing minds are pitching the name change to honor the duo on its 20th anniversary and want to put up signs around 55th Street and Martin Drive.


The show is also heard in Appleton and Madison.

“Not only are Bob and Brian a Milwaukee institution with their entertainment of hundreds of thousands of Milwaukeeans over the years, they have also raised millions of dollars for local charities such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Wisconsin, the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee and The MACC Fund,” glows the nomination letter submitted by 102.9 FM marketing guy Scott Shubert.

The station even offered to make its own signs so the city could save its money on the name change. The signs, however, look more like mini-billboards that would be hung on street poles in front of the station, a strategy one city official says won’t do.

Putting the brakes on the request appears to be City Engineer Jeff Polenske, who notes several things wrong with the idea. First off: Bob and Brian aren’t dead.

“An individual may be considered only if the individual is deceased or has attained the age of 70 years,” notes Polenske. “While recognizing Bob and Brian on their 20-year anniversary on 102.9 FM is certainly a noteworthy milestone, honoring them with a street name sign may not be in keeping with the intent of the ordinance.”

The request sits with the city’s citizen advisory committee on naming buildings and streets, which meets next week.

Walker Vetoes Vote; Dems Lining Up for Challenge: Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker surprised no one when he vetoed the County Board’s call for a referendum on a 1-cent sales tax increase to help pay for mass transit, parks and property tax relief. He says he doesn’t like increasing the neither tax nor referendums on such matters.

The Board called for a referendum to be held Feb. 19 that would ask voters if they wanted to add a penny to the county’s current .05-cent sales tax. The Board has been grappling with how to maintain county services such as transit and the parks, while dealing with an entrenched mentality of no tax increases come budget time. A 10-6 majority voted to let the voters decide on the tax, which would raise $120 million. Half of that would go to key services and the rest would just hit the general fund come budget time.

Three backers of the referendum, County Board Chair Lee Holloway and supervisors John Weishan Jr. and Gerry Broderick said the veto “once again prevented the public from expressing their opinion on this important issue.

“This referendum is similar in spirit to the taxpayers bill of rights, championed by Republicans in the State Legislature, which would have included a referendum on any tax increase at the State level,” the trio said in a statement, perhaps digging at Walker’s Republican roots. “We would prefer that the people decide, rather than one arbitrary person.”

The relatively quiet Common Council President Willie Hines chimed in, as well, saying the veto “appears short on inspiration and void of vision.” He, too, says the voters deserve a say.

“As a person, I like Scott Walker. But as a fiscal executive, he has led us to the brink of disaster ...  In short, things are not good for Milwaukee County. Actually, things are beyond bad,” he says.

Walker doesn’t agree. “The claim that by raising tax rates we will actually decrease taxes has bitten us before. The last time we were fed that line, in 1991, the tax levy went up 55% over the next ten years.”

Thirteen votes are needed to override Walker’s pen.

Speaking of Walker, it appears Gov. Doyle is taking more than a passing interest in the upcoming race for county exec, which it appears Walker will be in. At a recent meeting of the county’s Democratic Party several possible candidates were circling the room, including state Sen. Lena Taylor (whose glowing endorsement in a Madison daily was recently covered in this space) and Joe Klein, who ran in 2004.

“Most of the party apparatuses want Lena to run, but Ald. Michael D’Amato currently stands in the way,” reports one who attended the affair. “Until the alderman ‘decides’ to stick with his seat in City Hall, Lena is waiting in the wings. The bottom line is that the governor will apparently choose the ‘proper’ candidate and bless the knighted champion with the half million in campaign contributions required to run against Walker.”

Progressive Party: Mark the calendar for Sept. 8. It’s that time of year for the state’s largest single gathering of progressives, Fighting Bob Fest. Held in the quaint surroundings of the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, it’s largely a feel-good mass of speeches preaching the positiveness of a progressive movement in Wisconsin.

And in these days of plastic hair and lackluster sound bites, its good to hear some lectern pounding once in awhile. And having thousands of like-minded people around tends to get the juices going. In recent years, a small movement called the Peoples’ Legislature grew out of the fest, but after a brief road show of hearings around the state, its call and the drive for campaign finance reform seems to have fizzled. This year’s hot speakers look to be Cindy Sheehan and Jim Hightower, who’s always a hoot.

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.