By Doug Hissom Special to Published Apr 02, 2010 at 1:24 AM

The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, its advertisers or editorial staff.

Last weekend's killing in front of the Riverwest bar Quarters surprised many current and former patrons, who think of the joint as an eclectic place to get some insights on alternative music not heard in many other Milwaukee bars.

Those people will have to wait three weeks to renew their habits, since Quarters' owner has decided to shutter the place at 900 E. Center St. for three weeks in light of the shooting, according to the alderman's office.

But since the shooting of a 24-year-old man, the district's alderman, Nik Kovac, also says neighbors are coming out to complain about the long-time venue.

"Since this tragic incident, my office has received several phone calls and e-mails from neighbors reporting that loitering and loud fighting have recently been commonplace on that corner when the bar is open," stated Kovac.

Kovac said that during the three-week shutdown security and management procedures will be reviewed with the help of the police department and he said the incident will be raised when the club's license is up for renewal in June.

Kovac said his regularly scheduled neighborhood meeting will focus in part on the bar's activities.

Keep your hat off: It took more than a month, but Milwaukee Ald. Willie Wade has cleared himself of any wrongdoing over his wearing a baseball cap to a Riverside High School basketball game and being asked to leave because of it.

He said he asked police for a written account of the Feb. 19 incident because there were "several falsehoods" reported in the media as a result.

Wade said reports that he was escorted out are untrue.

"My demeanor was peaceful and polite at all times," he said. "I chose to leave on my own because it was a proper way for me to comply with the rule while also showing my disappointment and protest for how security - who definitely weren't being customer friendly with me - handled the situation."

Wade also said the discussion with police was not in front of a crowd of onlookers, but with only his family watching. He said he called the police over to facilitate the hat discussion, not because he was being "heated," as it was reported in the media and by Milwaukee Public Schools officials.

"Talk radio lit up the day the article appeared, with hosts fueling the false story line that I "made a scene," and that I was trying to use my position as an alderman to skirt the MPS no hats rule. The allegations and falsehoods bothered me greatly, because they simply weren't true," he said, adding that he has worn baseball hats to MPS games in the past and has seen MPS staffers and security wear hats at games. Bridge over troubled politics: Gubernatorial hopefuls Scott Walker and Tom Barrett have squared off on one of their first major issues -- who's responsible for the Zoo Interchange disrepair and as of this week, partial closing.

It's definitely a strange topic for two presumed statewide candidates, since we suppose most people north of Fond du Lac aren't terribly concerned about the parochial issue of the collapse of the state's busiest interchange. It's simply not a big deal to the outstate folks. But both the county exec's camp and the Milwaukee mayor's team promptly produced videos and Web sites criticizing each other after the announced that some of the bridges needed emergency closure.

Barrett calls Walker's criticisms that he backed delay for the interchange reconstruction in favor of another freeway project that would rebuild I-94 south to the state line as "Scott Walker's shameless freeway fabrication." Walker supported the current rebuild timeline for I-94, asserts Barrett, and that Walker "shamelessly grandstands on the Zoo Interchange, even though he didn't lift a finger to change the reconstruction timetable -- and still touts his support for the I-94 project when talking to voters in Racine and Kenosha."

Walker's camp spent money putting up two billboards blaming "the failed leadership of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Governor Jim Doyle" for delaying the project.

Gov. Jim Doyle, whose administration made the call on the closing, said this week that the engineering work would take too long in the first place and that it made sense to start the I-94 rebuild.

Barrett's camp also called Walker's position "antics" that are "laughable in light of his own dismal record" in allowing parks and Milwaukee County bridges to deteriorate under budget and staffing cuts.

Slowing down on high-speed pursuit: Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan, City Hall's leading police watchdog, is highly critical of the new Milwaukee Police Department rule on high-speed pursuits. The new rule is that police can only pursue a vehicle at high speeds if it has been determined probable cause exists that the suspects in the car are involved in a violent felony. Chief Ed Flynn issued the new policy this week after four people in the city have been killed as a result of high-speed chases within the past year.

"So now, if a burglary suspect or drug dealer jumps in a vehicle and refuses to stop for a patrol car, he'll be able to take off and get away because the crime was not a violent felony," Donovan said. "You can bet that very few of these scumbags will be hitting the brake pedal when they get lit up by MPD - they'll be pushing the accelerator down hard because they know the cops won't pursue."

Donovan also says the policy will hurt officer morale.

"This change comes at a time when we can ill afford to give criminals any slack. Why? Because by this summer we'll be facing almost 300 officer vacancies, not to mention thousands of inmates will be roaming our streets thanks to an early release initiative," he said. "And right now we have such a shortage of MPD detectives, uniformed officers are taking on detective work (in addition to their regular assignments).

"I support Chief Flynn on nearly everything he does, but we part company when it comes to this change," he said. "We have people turning somersaults because Milwaukee had 72 homicides in 2009 (instead of 100). But Minneapolis only had 19 last year."

Get your vote on: It's low-key, but there is an election in these parts on Tuesday. The City of Milwaukee has nothing going ballot-wise, but the suburbs are active, with hotly contested races for mayor in Cudahy and mayor in Waukesha. Waukesha-area voters also have state and county judicial contests as well as myriad municipal tilts.

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.