By Doug Hissom Special to Published Dec 21, 2007 at 5:29 AM
Some Milwaukee aldermen want to crack down on teen curfew violations and want to force business owners to get in the game, too. An ordinance proposed by Alds. Tony Zielinski and Willie Hines would also allow police to ticket curfew violators without actually having seen them violate curfew. Curfew in these parts is 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Curfew rules would be expanded to include places that serve refreshments and other businesses, essentially banning teens from public after curfew hours. Business owners would be required to ask teens to leave after curfew and to call police if they don't go. Police could then write a ticket even though they never witnessed a thing. Curfew fines would also increase to a range from $200 to $400. The new penalties will be considered at a Common Council committee meeting in early January.

Mo-tel? It looks like Downtown Milwaukee will get another hotel, if a parking deal can be arranged. Johnny Vassallo, owner of Mo's steak joint and other Mo-ventures, bought the Posner Building, 152 W. Wisconsin Ave. two years ago, with the promise of rehabbing the structure possibly as an extended stay hotel.

Vassallo has hooked up with Milwaukee Hotel Associates LLC on a $21 million rehab for a 160-unit mid-rate hotel. The hotel group wants to lease spots in the city lot at 724 N. 2nd St., conveniently located next door to the Posner Building. The resolution before a Common Council committee does not specify the number of spaces, only that they would be leased at market rate for 25 years.

The seven-story Posner Building was built in 1908 and is assessed at $2.9 million. Part of the $21 million makeover is also headed to redoing the first floor retail.

Keg Crackdown: Here's a good hobby for law enforcement. Beer kegs will now be registered in Racine so police can track which store sold them and to whom. The onus will be on stores to log when and who bought the keg so when the cops find an under-age party they can also, in theory, go back and bust who sold it.

No matter that the kegs' hands could have changed several times. The fine for not having a registered keg could be as high as $500 and police can seize any unregistered keg, as well. So make sure the party papers are in order.

Dope-busting Horses: The Milwaukee Police Department is looking to feed dogs and horses and buy cell phones with assets seized from drug busts. Acting Chief Dale Schunk is asking the Common Council to unleash $167,000 from asset forfeiture funds. The Feds share with police departments a portion of the bounty they claim when busting drug dealers. Local departments are supposed to spend the money on drug interdiction efforts, but just tend to get creative with the budgeting of the money.

For instance, the bulk of the request a council committee will hear in early January -- $112,000 -- is slated for the MPD's seven-horse mounted patrol, which isn't exactly known as a drug-busting behemoth. The other requests include $10,000 for three drug dogs and $45,000 for cell phones.

Danger in the Drain: It used to be that the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District actively went after companies that put bad stuff down the drain and ultimately into the lake, but apparently MMSD missed this dumping. Maybe it's the private operators.

The Friends of Milwaukee Rivers filed papers as a preclude to a Clean Water Act lawsuit against Fontarome Chemical. The group charges that Fontarome has dumped excessive amounts of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals into the sewer. The company has violated the Clean Water Act almost 500 times since June 2002, according to the Friends and its attorneys Midwest Environmental Advocates. Some of the dumping includes mercury, ammonia, toluene and chloroform.

"Fontarome is handling dangerous chemicals without any technology in place to reduce toxic loads into our shared waters" says Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper for Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers. "We're bringing legal action today to protect our waterways, drinking water, and public health from further toxic abuses."

Under the Clean Water Act, individuals and organizations are authorized to bring "citizen suits" against polluters alleged to be in violation of applicable discharge limitations or permit terms. Citizens are required to give 60 days' notice of their intent to sue.

Breaking Wind Power: This sort of thinking doesn't exactly lead us to the nirvana of renewable energy. Some state counties are starting to look at restrictive measures for wind generators that would effectively ban them from being built.

The Trempealeau County Board has restricted wind generators 150 feet tall, which, given that the usual height is somewhere around 400 feet, means wind generation isn't feasible there. Location was also restricted to one mile from any building -- a hard piece of ground to find to be sure.

The Calumet County Board is considering restrictions that would mandate space and height limits too, effectively banning wind generators there. Being some of the highest ground before Lake Michigan, Calumet County is eyed as an excellent spot for wind turbines.

For those who stand to live near turbines, they are an eyesore on the horizon and the fear is that they will lower property values. They also are sited on hills, which puts them in natural competition with folks who can afford big houses with great views. And folks who can afford big houses with great views tend also to have political clout. 

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.