By Doug Hissom Special to Published Sep 17, 2010 at 1:15 PM

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Milwaukee Police have been instructed by the Fire and Police Commission to not be so quick to order speeders and other errant drivers to go for a reexamination of their drivers license.

A Fire and Police Commission examination found that officers have been too willing to order drivers for reexamination after they've pulled speeders over who say they didn't know the speed limit, a pretty standard answer after getting pulled over after the fact.

When confronted with that answer, police have been adding "inattentive driving" charges to the speeding citation, resulting in the driver having to pay a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Commission took a very pragmatic view to speeding stops.

"When an individual is asked whether they know what the posted speed limit is, the individual may not want to tell the officer what the correct speed limit is, for fear of admitting to speeding, or the individual simply may not be aware of the posted speed limit. An inability to state the actual posted speed limit during a traffic stop is not cause for referring an individual for a reexamination.

Likewise, an individual that exhibits nervousness or anxiety during a traffic stop should also not normally be cause for a reexamination," reads the report's findings.

"It was determined that unnecessarily burdening an individual by referral to the DMV for reexamination simply because the individual stated an incorrect speed limit is not appropriate procedure, and is a misapplication of the statutory authority granted to a law enforcement officer."

The Commission is telling the force to come up with a better reason. "A referral for reexamination should only be based on quantifiable and reliable information beyond mere suspicion that the individual may not be competent to operate a motor vehicle."

Election redux: Lakeside progressives were popping the corks this week after they got their wish when County Board member Chris Larson beat state Sen. Jeff Plale to assume to post of representing the eastern portion of Milwaukee County from UWM to South Milwaukee.

Larson got 61 percent of the vote to Plale's 39 percent, a true drubbing. Progressives targeted Plale, who harkens back to that old label of Reagan Democrat, because they felt he was, to borrow part of a phrase from the right-wingers, a "Democrat in name only."

Special interest groups such as organized labor and the Potawatomi tribe pumped money into an independent expenditure group called Citizens for a Progressive Wisconsin, giving it a starting budget of nearly $200,000. That group in turn paid for mailings of four-color fliers calling Plale a tool of special interests for, among other bills, voting down a clean energy bill he first backed.

It also endlessly ran a commercial repeating that with the catch phrase "pay for Plale." Larson, per the rules, was never mentioned in the ad, but he never ran away from the support, as do some candidates. Plale got backing from pro-school voucher powerhouses, who chipped in with mailing of their own supporting Plale, but not attacking Larson.

Plale had a substantial fund-raising lead in the campaign beyond the independent support.

Progressives had hoped that the more conservative Dems in the district, traditionally the deep south side part of the district in Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and Cudahy, would switch to vote in the GOP gubernatorial primary, leaving Plale without the family values crowd in his corner. It apparently worked, but the numbers aren't fully in on that yet.

Milwaukee Ald. Jim Witkowiak found that his endorsement in Tuesday's primary didn't carry a whole lot of weight.

Witkowiak gave his blessing to nurse Laura Manríquez in a race that become quite the nasty affair. Manríquez brought up the rear in the three-way race this week to replace state Rep. Pedro Colon, who didn't run for re-election and instead was appointed to a Milwaukee Circuit Court seat this week, nearly tripling his previous salaries.

Planned Parenthood community outreach specialist Jocasta Zamarippa, who was endorsed by the media ,took 53 percent of the vote to former Ald. Angel Sanchez's 31 percent and Manriquez's 17 percent.

Witkowiak cited Manríquez's community involvement to establish an international economic trade mission in order to create jobs on the South Side.

"Her innovative, bold and practical sound leadership is what will move Wisconsin forward," Witkowiak said.

Manriquez ran for the seat against Colon and another candidate in 2008. Sanchez had an upset win over Witkowiak in an aldermanic race in 2000 only to lose four years later because of lackluster performance in City Hall.

Manriquez got some headlines for reportedly mishandling a pill while working as a nurse in 2008 and being delinquent on her taxes, likely information provided by somebody else's campaign. The tax delinquency issue ended up being another "Laura Manriquez" and the story was corrected, but not to Manriquez's liking.

Just before the primary she attacked Sanchez, reporting that he was the subject of a criminal complaint in 1989, investigating him for improperly touching a female.

"(Manríquez) wonders why the Journal Sentinel is so quick to publish articles based on innuendo, false information and anonymous tips, yet ignores a legitimate criminal complaint filed against another candidate in the same contest," she said.

Conservative squawkers will claim credit for former TV news personality Rebecca Kleefisch winning the GOP primary for that all-important post of lieutenant governor. Led by Mark Belling, the top challenger for the post, state Rep. Brett Davis, was repeatedly disparaged for being a "Republican in name only" as if he were some sort of pariah for not wearing local-step conservative values on his sleeve as a legislator.

Kleefisch popped for a very Palin-esque TV ad, where she was touting her conservative family values and the fact she drives a mini-van, as opposed to taking high-speed rail. Nelson billed himself as a state budget watchdog for overspending.

Milwaukee State Sen. Spencer Coggs finished a distant second for the state's second post, losing to Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson of Green Bay. Madison's Harry Sanders, perhaps the most unique of the Democratic candidates for the post finished fourth with 9 percent of the vote to Nelson's 52 percent. Coggs took 21 percent of the vote.

In the "All in the Family" contests, the Coggs' family batted 1.000 Tuesday in local races (Spencer took one on the chin statewide), with County Board member Elizabeth Coggs winning the election to take over Polly Williams' Assembly seat and state Rep. Leon Young, a distant Coggs member, keeping his seat in the Capitol.

Stephanie Findley, who has run for the County Board in the past, took a distant second, but will likely be on the ballot in the special election next year to replace Coggs on the County Board.

In the pastoral land of western Waukesha County, Paul Farrow, son of former lieutenant governor and state senate powerhouse Margaret Farrow won an Assembly primary contest and will be headed toward Madison after November in the heavy GOP district. He beat long-time ballot presence and local pol Thomas Schellinger, who has had to add another notch in the loss column.

Republican Rich Zipperer will be the next state senator representing a good portion of Brookfield and Waukesha County suburbs, replacing the retiring Ted Kanavas, who had built up a campaign war chest to rival most statewide candidates.

Homes for $1: Milwaukee victims of the July flood received the expected "we're from the government and we're here to help" visit, but at the end of the day, the federal government decided it wasn't going to help the 20 or so homeowners who lost their dwellings to rushing water and sewer backups. The Federal Emergency Management Administration determined that the city homes wrecked by water did not qualify for federal replacement aid, but did say the city government would get some federal help for its work.

Milwaukee aldermen then stepped in last week and voted to approve a measure that would allow flooded homeowners the opportunity to buy a new dwelling for $1. The Common Council voted to sell homes foreclosed on by the city for back taxes to flood victims.

The city has about 90 such homes available out of hundreds of foreclosures, but city officials expect about 10 people to apply for the homes, since some don't meet the criteria and others have indicated they want to rebuild where they are.

"There is a supply and there is a demand. My job as a policy maker is to try to connect the two," offered Common Council President Willie Hines.

"This is not an entitlement program. The City of Milwaukee has long had success in attracting commercial development by offering city-owned empty lots and other properties for $1. This new residential strategy would similarly reduce municipal expenses, decrease the tax burden for other residents, expand the tax base for the city by increasing home ownership, and add revenue for essential city services."

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.