After building the tourism-attracting Riverwalk, the City of Milwaukee found itself in the awkward position of admitting that the sidewalk along the Milwaukee River was inaccessible to the disabled. Disabled groups realized it, too, and sued the city to make it accessible.
Three years ago, the city settled the suit by agreeing to make it right, but costs to fix the problem have ballooned from an estimated $1.5 million to $4.8 million.
The city is picking up the bulk of the large tab for the ramps and lifts, with $910,714 coming from the Business Improvement District that lines the Riverwalk. Businesses in the BID pay extra fees for improvements in the area. The city still has to figure out a way to pay about $500,000 of the cost, however.
He's lovin' it: Jared Christiansen had his moment of Milwaukee fame last week. Who, you may ask? Right. The 18-year-old from Ellsworth (the "Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin") is running for governor.
He had his two minutes of fame here last week when he got to do the weather on Channel 4. He has also made some national shows such as Mike Huckabee's due to his youth, but this will probably be his only TV face time of the campaign in Milwaukee.
Channel 4 has regularly been parading candidates in front of the camera to do the weather. What does that say about their weathermen?
Christiansen says he's running as a Democrat, but espouses some conservative ideals such as lowering the corporate income tax and opposing embryonic stem cell research.
He currently works as an assistant manager at his local McDonald's -- which gives him the leadership skills to be governor -- and says he plans to attend UW-Madison next year.
Camera Shy: The City of Milwaukee's Web site appears to be trying to conserve space on its hard drive these days, at the expense of limiting government transparency. The site no longer archives files of committee and council meetings. Until earlier this year, people were able to go to the site and view past meetings. Government voyeurs now have to go to City Hall's Legislative Research Bureau to view history as it was made.
Missing children: Remember the Youth Council of Milwaukee? Probably not. Its flame has long since dimmed after being formed for what turned out to be a one-year run in 2005. The plan was to get young people interested in government, politics and "leadership roles" by acting as a pseudo city council.
It has since languished due in part to lack of interest from, well, youth.
Ald. Joe Davis, who brought the idea to fruition, tried in vein to renew the council with the help of the Milwaukee Public Schools. No luck there. The idea was to get 15 high school students ages 18 and under, with one from each aldermanic district.
Davis' Community and Economic Development Committee was scheduled to consider plans for the future of the Youth Council this week, making it a function of the Community Development Block Grant office. It tabled the matter.
Raw politics: We're in the Dairy State, so it seems a little odd that we can't buy unpasteurized milk direct from the source. In fact, it's downright draconian. Raw milk has more nutrients than pasteurized since, of course, most of the good stuff is boiled out.
Detractors say drinkers could get sick from the stuff. Bills in Madison would allow people to buy raw milk from farmers at their own peril. State health officials say that's not a good idea, while hundreds who showed up at a public hearing this week said the consumer should decide. But of course.
About 25 states allow some form of raw milk sales. When I got shipped to the farm in summers, we drank milk right out of the milk tank and, so far, I think I've turned out okay.
Bay View beer wars: Milwaukee Ald. Tony Zielinski remains consistent in opposing beer and liquor licenses for grocery stores at the Lincoln Triangle in Bay View, and instead allows new tavern licenses.
At the urging of Zielinski, the Licenses Committee rejected granting Hub Supermarket, 2277 S. Howell Ave., a liquor and malt license. Hub agent Paresh Patel had 17 neighborhood supporters backing the move, and the store has previously sold beer.
Despite the fact that tavern licenses are being approved for new watering holes in the area, Zielinski argued that over-concentration of liquor establishments should prevent Hub from getting its license. It's an argument he used to keep AK Food Mart, just down the street from Hub on Howell Avenue, from getting a beer seller's license.
At the same meeting, the committee, with Zielinski's blessing, granted a liquor license to Hue Restaurant, 2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., at the site of the former Magic Dann's, less than a mile from the Hub market. Dann's barely made it a year there.
Speaking of AK Food Mart, its owner, Parshotam Singh, and his attorney, Andrew Arena, argued before the committee this week that the AK Food Mart denial should be tossed out because Singh hasn't gotten a fair hearing and Zielinski shouldn't be allowed to vote on the matter.
The committee didn't buy it, and Zielinski moved to deny the request. Sounds, though, like this could be the precursor to a lawsuit forcing the city's hand on the matter. It's a strategy that has rarely won in the past, but it has happened.
Pulpit politics: New Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki said he wouldn't rule out denying communion to lawmakers who don't vote according to the Pope.
"You have to consider the impact of whatever that person is doing ... whether you've tried to help them come to an understanding of the teaching," he said at a Milwaukee Press Club luncheon.
"It's very difficult for me to see how somebody can be pro-choice knowing the teachings of the church. But individuals may be pro-choice and looking to limit abortions."
It's a hot dog: It didn't take long for the Minnesota Twins to name a new hot dog vendor after the venerable Hormel pulled out when the team demanded more money for the right to sell the tubes. In comes giant Cargill, Inc., subsidiary Schweigert Meats, which will produce four types of dogs for sale at Target Field, the Twins' new open-air baseball home.
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.