By Doug Hissom Special to Published Dec 19, 2007 at 5:20 AM

A recent poll shows that state Sen. Lena Taylor just might have a shot at beating Scott Walker in the Milwaukee County Executive's race. The Mellman Group, a Democratic polling outfit, found Taylor trails Walker by a 41 percent to 35 percent margin, with 24 percent undecided.

But what gives Taylor‘s camp more hope is that Walker earned negatives from 49 percent of those polled. The group surveyed 400 likely spring election voters. It also found that among those who knew both candidates, Taylor eked out a 55 percent to 31 percent lead. Only 33 percent of those surveyed believed that "things in Milwaukee County are moving in the right direction" while 49 percent believe there are "pretty seriously off on the wrong track."

"The evidence is clear," reads a statement from the Taylor crew. "Scott Walker is vulnerable, and Lena Taylor is just the person to restore accountability and responsibility to the Milwaukee County Executive's Office."

In the Walker Weekly campaign newsletter, the Walker camp dismisses the pollsters as "leftists" and suggest that "the leftists' own polling shows that the number of people who believe that things in Milwaukee County are going in the RIGHT direction increased a full 10 percentage points from August to December!"

Barrister keeps busy: Glen Givens was busy the past few weeks. The attorney for Ald. Michael McGee turned in shifts as part concerned citizen, part private eye and part lawyer. Givens spent the better part of a recent Common Council Licenses Committee meeting waiting to speak as an investigator for McGee in a liquor license matter.

In front of the committee, he urged that a liquor license be denied to Mother's Foods, 2438 W. Hopkins St., because its owners, Y&K Enterprises, operate "a sharecropping arrangement," where it changes operators of stores if they don't produce. Sounds to us like a normal business arrangement, but Givens found it a problem, claiming he had a "four-inch thick" pile of research he did on Y&K. However, he did not produce it for the committee.

Givens said he represents McGee in opposing the license, although a McGee aide said the office had never been approached by the applicant and had no opinion. The committee approved the license.

After a lengthy wait, Givens then testified against Roots Restaurant, 1818 N. Hubbard St. He lives down the hill from the place at 224 E. Vine St. As the sole opponent, he told the committee that Roots was the source of loud noise and unruly patrons. He asked that the restaurant not be allowed to sell liquor after 10 p.m. At one time Givens claimed that owner John Raymond and a companion were revving up their motor scooters and terrorizing the neighborhood "screaming" and yelling "screw you." Raymond said he doesn't know how to ride a scooter.

"It has been a problem since it opened," Givens said. "You look around and see people staggering around and falling on their cars."

McGee's office had no objections and the committee did not either.

More lawyers for all: Expanding public defender coverage in Wisconsin is on the table at the state Senate and Assembly judiciary committees. Bills would allow the state to take over funding for public defenders for the poor and set standards across all counties. State Public Defender Nick Chiarkis says the new standards are needed because counties are arbitrary in their interpretation as to who is poor and needs a lawyer.

"A person may be provided a county-appointed attorney in one court, yet be denied an appointed attorney under the same circumstances in an adjoining courtroom or in another county," he told the committees. "This legislation will not only save taxpayer money but will ensure consistent eligibility standards and equal protection throughout Wisconsin. This bill gaurantees justice for all."

Boxer tribute: Del Porter has been a fixture on the Milwaukee boxing scene for 42 years. He trains young people in the pugilistic arts for free at Congress Hall in Kosciuszko Park on Milwaukee's South Side under the banner, Ace Boxing Club. Porter, 68, has helped some Golden Gloves champs and others who just need to get straightened out a bit. County Supervisor Peggy West wants to honor Porter's commitment by naming the Kosciuszko Park Pavilion, 712 W. Becher St., after him.

Cashing in its chips: The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently gave the Oneida Tribe of Indians approval to hand out $88 million in gambling receipts to its members. It would be the tribe's largest one-time payment. Between $5,000 and $10,000 will be given to each of the 16,000 tribe members over age 21. 

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.