By Doug Hissom Special to Published Oct 02, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Riverwest neighbors still feel victimized by the shooting death of Nathan Potter this summer. Some Bay View residents are tired of noise and commotion in the Lincoln Triangle area. Both groups essentially were told to quit being NIMBYs.

NIMBYs, of course, are people who complain "Not in my Backyard."

The Riverwest residents turned out en masse this week to oppose the re-opening of Smokey's, 2425 N. Dousman St., just down the block from The Gig, which is close to where Potter was shot July 6. Two arrests were made in the case on Sept. 9.

Steven Vieth, who used to work at Smokey's, wants to reopen the bar and asked the he be allowed to put a few small tables on the sidewalk in front. He suggested that it would help advertise the business -- which has no large signs announcing its presence -- and make the street safer.

Neighbors objected not only to the tables outside, but to the bar opening in general. They pointed out that there are four bars in a two-block stretch of Dousman and that there was also a shooting in front of Gee Willickers at Clarke and Dousman the night before Potter was killed.

Gee Willickers, a place where patrons had to be buzzed in, has since gotten rid of its pool table and added security measures.

Third District Ald. Nik Kovac and the rest of the committee were opposed to the tables as well, but approved the license.

Echoing what seemed to be a theme in this week's meeting, Kovac told the neighbors that if they didn't want four bars in a two-block stretch of their neighborhood they shouldn't have moved there.

The sentiment was also expressed by Bay View Ald. Tony Zielinski, who voiced his support for a new tavern license for the Bay View Sports Bar, 2327 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in the burgeoning bar district around the Lincoln-KK-Howell triangle. Several apartment dwellers who live in the area showed up to oppose the license, saying there were too many bars in the area.

"This is a business district," Zielinski told them, adding that they should have known it would be a busy area when they moved in.

Of course, when people move near the airport and complain about the noise, they get public funds to noise-proof their homes.

Tag Mania: Graffiti complaints in Milwaukee stand to nearly double this year over last, city officials were told, but it's not as prevalent a problem has it has been.

There were 4,855 graffiti complaints in the city from January through Aug. 1, which is usually the annual rate, the city's Anti Graffiti Task Force was told.

But Department of Neighborhood Services officials said there was more "smaller-type" or "low-key" graffiti as opposed to the "in your face" graffiti of the large taggers on the sides of buildings. They called it more "marker-type" as well.

DNS officials told the committee that efforts by the Police Department have put the larger graffiti artists underground. DNS official Sharon Badlow said it wasn't gang graffiti, but "wanna-be taggers trying to hit the scene." She said tagging constituted 90 percent taggers and 10 percent gang communication.

But that didn't satisfy aldermen on the committee.

Zielinski, who chairs the task force and has made graffiti one of his big issues, asked what efforts were made at changing the taggers' mentality.

"Why not tell them to go to school instead of being a bum?" he asked.

DNS folks told him there were no efforts at changing the mentality.

The Department of Public Works said it was running hundreds of hours behind in removing tags since losing three seasonal graffiti-removal employees due to budget constraints.

Puddler's Is Back in Business: A venerable Bay View institution will be reopening soon. Puddler's Hall, 2463 St. Claire St., has been an area fixture since Bay View was actually known as Bay View and not Milwaukee.

It was the gathering place for union members of the former Bay View Rolling Mills Foundry -- most noted for the infamous Bay View massacre in which seven people were killed while protesting for the eight-hour work day in 1886.

The tavern has stood since 1873, but has been closed since July when its then-owner abruptly shut down and let the license expire. Tim Capper, the previous owner, has taken the place over again but had to wait through the month of August to get his license back because the Common Council was in recess.

The Council's Licenses Committee approved Capper's application this week. He promised not to have live music, which had irritated some neighbors.

Apparently, Capper didn't have the same clout as Bar Louie, the Downtown location that let its license lapse a few years ago, but was able to persuade the Common Council to call a special meeting on its behalf.

Capper also owned Colonel Hart's Pub in Wauwatosa. Puddler's is somewhat a monument to the former Foundry workers with historical pictures and narratives about the workforce.

Feingold and Funds: Sen. Russ Feingold has always run as the underfunded underdog in his Senate races -- and so far he has been successful, despite almost losing his first re-election bid.

But that hasn't stopped him from repeatedly asking for money. Feingold's camp sent out an e-mail this week asking for final contributions before campaign finance books close for the contribution period.

The Feingold camp has also been getting aggressive with potential and current candidates.

"There are reports that multi-millionaire real estate developer Terrence "Terry" Wall is likely to get into the race. Russ has been outspent in every Senate race he's ever run and, with someone like Mr. Wall getting in -- a political hard-liner who's likely to pour millions of his personal wealth into his campaign -- it looks like this campaign will be no different," reads a recent missive.

Wall, who owns T. Wall Investments, has listed the firm as an "award-winning commercial real estate development firm that owns more than 2.4 million square feet of space and over 750 acres of land making the company one of the largest developers in the State of Wisconsin."

It lists 13 developments in the Madison area and two developments in Mesa, Arizona. Its headquarters, however, sit in Delaware, which is a state known for corporate offices settling in to avoid paying taxes in other states, such as Wisconsin.

One Wisconsin Now, an independent special interest group that supports Democratic candidates, quickly seized on that point.

The only declared candidate against Feingold so far is Dave Westlake, a Watertown resident who owns High IQ, which sells printer cartridges to businesses and school districts. He started the company three years ago.

Westlake is taking heat for being what's called a 9/12 candidate, which is basically a conservative group that gathers around the church. Its stated pledges are:

  • America Is Good.
  • I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
  • I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
  • The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
  • If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
  • I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
  • I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
  • It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
  • The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

Lost in TV Space: If you're looking for Wisconsin's version of C-SPAN, Wisconsin Eye, so is the rest of the region.

A dispute over money ended Time Warner's coverage of the stage legislature. It's doubtful the outcry will be as strong as when the Big Ten Network was not carried for awhile on Time Warner. Wisconsin Eye is a private, non-profit channel. It was supposed to have generated some commercial revenue on its own, but obviously hasn't. Under a deal with the state, Time Warner was supposed to have sent some money to the channel, but can't come to terms. It took the broadcast off of Channel 163, which told viewers Wisconsin Eye still can be viewed on the internet at

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.