By Doug Hissom Special to Published Jul 24, 2009 at 11:23 AM

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The city is looking at raising water rates as a way to put more money in its general fund, going beyond the traditional water bills being used to cover the cost of running the Water Works. Water Works and city administration officials are looking to raise rates an additional 6.5 percent for suburban users of Milwaukee water and 5 percent for city residents on top of a 3 percent increase that takes effect soon.

The extra money would allow the city to put an additional $3 million a year into the general fund and put $3 million a year into the city's budget.

The Common Council's Public Works Committee approved the request this week and it goes to the full Council next week. The state Public Service Commission would have to sign off on the increase.

"I wish there was another way to generate some revenue," said committee member Ald. Robert Puente, a sentiment echoed by his colleagues on the panel.

"I feel like we're chasing the rabbit down the hole," offered Ald. Joe Dudzik, suggesting that sooner or later residents and business may think twice about staying in the city.

Policing Politics: Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan is taking exception to a fundraising ploy by Mayor Tom Barrett to have police Chief Ed Flynn as the main attraction at the $100 a head party next week at the Italian Community Center..
"I'll be honest Tom, this whole thing just doesn't smell right to me," Donovan wrote.

The alderman says it steers away from the city's long-standing tradition of keeping politics out of policing, since the mayor is using the chief as campaign fund bait while the council has to consider cutting police and fire services.

Donovan suggests the mayor donate the money he raises from the event to Operation Impact, a crime-fighting program that happens to be in Donovan's South Side district.

"I think this would be a win-win-win for everybody involved," he wrote.

Loony Tune: It would be a felony to harass animals with motor vehicles and boats, under a law proposed by state Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson). Current laws apparently don't cover threatening or killing wild animals using motor vehicles and boats.

Couple questions: How would the animal complain it was harassed? And isn't the shear presence of vehicles driving down the highway enough to harass any animal? And what would happen to those who run over deer or a boat gets too close to a loon and sets it off squawking?

The crime would carry a penalty of up to three and a half years probation or prison, a $10,000 fine and a mental health assessment. Those who commit such crimes using snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, motorboats or personal watercraft could have their registrations suspended or permanently revoked.

Business Conspiracy: State Rep. Robin Vos sees conspiracy in a new business group that happens to back Gov. Jim Doyle. Vos, a Republican from Caledonia, thinks all business groups should have opposed the governor's budget since it contained $3 billion in new taxes.

"The Wisconsin Business Council is obviously a front group for Gov. Doyle," said Vos, ranking Assembly Republican on the Joint Finance Committee. He says the group was organized by key Doyle insiders, has offered access to Doyle and top Democrats in exchange for corporate contributions to the group. "It's the Jim Doyle diners club," he said.

The club was organized by former Doyle administration chief Marc Marotta. But it also includes powerhouse fund-raiser Phil Prange, a former honcho with the Tommy Thompson machine.

Newt Attack: Newt Gingrich drew 800 people to a fundraiser for County Executive Scott Walker's campaign for governor. Walker also announced that Michael Grebe will be his campaign chairman. Grebe is currently president and CEO of the quite conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.

That puts two of the most prominent Republicans pitted against each other next year's election. Walker's opponent is former Congressman Mark Neumann and his top honcho is former Tommy Thompson henchman and fixer Jim Klauser.


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.