By Doug Hissom Special to Published Oct 03, 2007 at 5:12 AM
After being wooed for months by a Democratic Party power structure searching for any viable candidate, State Sen. Lena Taylor filed papers this week to run for Milwaukee County executive. The Milwaukee Dem may find it hard to get a Web site with a catchy address, however, since her opponents have been busy gobbling up domain names.

Current exec Scott Walker's campaign chairman seized a potential Web site Sunday that Taylor might have wanted for her campaign. The Web site "" was registered Sept. 30 by Timothy Russell, who also happens to be chairman of Walker's campaign. He lists his firm as The Regent Group, which has a Web site listing Russell as the principal. The group "provides consulting and ancillary services to select clients."

Russell, of 2031 N. 49th St., is also a real estate agent for Regent Realty and his contact number for The Regent Group is the same as his realty number. Russell donated $350 to Walker in 2005 and before that put $220 in Republican candidates' coffers. Good thing the domain name registration was a low-budget move for Russell, since state computer court records list him as owing the City of Milwaukee $6,834.85 as part of a 2005 civil judgment.

The Walker camp isn't the only crew playing games with domain names. The other declared candidate in the race, computer consultant Joe Klein, has registered "" and "," as well.

When asked about the gamesmanship, Klein somewhat sheepishly commented that he did it for amusement.

"I was feeling mischievous at the time and it cost less than $20," admits Klein. "It seemed like it was worth $20 of entertainment. I knew in the back of my head that if she asked for the domains that the honorable thing to do would be to transfer them to her. It is, after all, her name. We don't want Republicans stealing these domain names, do we?"

Klein gave Taylor a $35 campaign donation this year, he says.

With Taylor finally getting on the stump it gives voters something to watch in what's becoming a spring election that's akin to a curling match. Taylor's campaign manager, Eric Hogensen, brings a few oddities to the race, as well. He managed Steve Kagen's surprising win for Congress last year-where the good doctor spent millions of his own bank account for the win. He steered Matt Flynn to a meltdown in his congressional race against Gwen Moore and has been a hired gun for many candidates in many states.

Hogensen is listed as Midwest director for Fero Hewitt Global, national campaign strategists of note, but his bio has strangely disappeared under the standard Google search. Perhaps it's because he wants to downplay the fact that he's a Cubs fan. His cached bio reads in part:

"From Massachusetts to Illinois to Nevada, Hogensen has helped create and implement winning strategies for state lawmakers, judicial candidates, state Democratic parties, and leading service unions. With a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Hogensen has served as district director for Wisconsin State Senator Jeff Plale and Congressman Steve Kagen.

"Hogensen lives in Milwaukee, where he still hopes the Cubs will someday win a title."

New Bridge Needs Fixing: The highly-touted Marsupial Bridge, the pedestrian link under the Holton Street viaduct between the Brady Street area and the Commerce Street condos, needs a bit more work even though it opened in 2005. Since its much-anticipated opening, criticisms have arisen that its approach is rather meandering and difficult for some, especially on the north side of the river.

Well, it's not a problem that $800,000 won't fix. That's the price tag to fix the design flaw in the $3.2 million span. About $640,000 will come from the feds in the form of air pollution reduction grants and the city will have to chip in $160,000 for the fix.

In September the bridge was honored with a $10,000 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence one of six presented nationwide from the Bruner Foundation to recognize "outstanding examples of urban placemaking."

The city's Public Works Committee will consider the $160,000 city portion of the bill at a meeting next week.

Regime Change Complex: Rick Kissell is facing a unique challenge in his campaign to become city treasurer for Milwaukee -- age. It's not that current treasurer Wayne Whittow, 74, is too old for the job, Kissell says, it's that some of Kissell's criticisms are going over the head of potential voters. Whittow's been treasurer since 1976 and has handily beaten Kissell twice before, in 1988 and 2004. Kissell says he's having a voter disconnect when he tries to point out that Whittow "is the last vestige of the Maier regime." He says more and more people have no idea who Maier was. That would be Henry Maier, former mayor of Milwaukee for 28 years.

Kissell thinks the job should delve into more political activism than what's currently happening with Whittow, who sees the job as more administrative, even though it is an elected position.

"I believe that an activist, progressive City Treasurer should use his office to fight for tax justice, to educate the public about the effects of changes in taxes, and to serve as a watchdog against corporate abuse of the public interest. He should be constantly speaking out -- before neighborhood groups, school classes and other venues -- about the need for a fair, progressive tax system," he writes in a tome on his Web site,

Classroom Counterpoint: George and Susan Mitchell are never one to miss a chance to defend their revered Milwaukee school voucher program. After all, they've made a living at it. Susan Mitchell is president of School Choice Wisconsin. Last week state Sen. Russ Decker (D-Wausau) complained in this column that the private and religious schools taking advantage of taxpayer largess by accepting low income students were not complying with state rules by not turning in standardized test scores-part of a deal the schools made in getting the state to allow 5,000 more kids in the program. Mitchell says about 95 percent have complied and chooses to attack Decker's past opposition to the program as a reason for his criticisms.

"Sen. Decker wrongly asserts that the study team is ‘over a year late' in making this report to the LAB. As the first year's test score data cover the most recent 2006-07 school year, clearly the data are not ‘over a year late,'" responds Mitchell. "The act anticipated that the first such report would occur in 2007. It now is expected in 2008. Sen. Decker inflates this delay into the laughable claim of ‘yet another example of the voucher program's unwillingness to comply with minimal academic accountability requirements.'"


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.