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Santa's not hard to find if you know where to look.
Santa's not hard to find if you know where to look. (Photo:

Hey Santa! I owe you one

Editor's note: This blog was originally posted online on Christmas Eve in 2010. Merry Christmas from BizTimes!

Not to be confused with THE Christmas story, I would like to conclude the year with a Christmas story. And a lighthearted, silly little one at that, as a holiday diversion from the gritty issues of the day that are typically tackled in this space.

I'd like to go back to the day before Christmas Eve in 1997. As per usual, the December Wisconsin ground was covered with snow. And as per usual, I had put off a lot of Christmas errands that should have been done earlier in the month.

Perhaps the most important of those errands was taking our two sons, Justin (age 7 at the time) and James (age 4) to see Santa Claus. Now, it was down to crunch time. We're on the clock.

So, I'm driving down Layton Avenue toward Southridge Mall, where I'm told Santa awaits. I'm regretting it the entire time, as I know the line to see ol' Saint Nick is going to be long with lots of other children whose parents are procrastinators. The thought of standing in that line for an hour or two is dampening my holiday mojo. But you've got to do what you've got do...

We're stopped at the traffic light, about five blocks from the mall, when Justin suddenly yells from the back seat, "Dad, there's Santa!" His brother sits up straight in his car seat and screams, "Santa!" The boys are giggling with glee.

Confused, I look out the window, and what do I see? Not eight tiny reindeer, mind you.

Nope, I see Santa. He's standing in a vacant parking lot full of Christmas trees for sale.

Santa is commiserating with the guys at the Christmas tree stand.

The light is still red. My mind wanders. "Hey, wait a minute," my inner voice tells myself. "The boys think that guy is Santa. The guy is dressed in a Santa suit, replete with the beard. I'll bet if I just pull in there, the guy will cowboy up and become Santa indeed. The boys will tell him what they want for Christmas. No lines. No mall. We'll be o…

The BMO Harris Bradley Center needs replacing.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center needs replacing.
Can we get a new vision for the Shops of Grand Avenue?
Can we get a new vision for the Shops of Grand Avenue?

A Milwaukee list for Santa

As we prepare to discard the calendar of a tumultuous and often nasty 2012 in Wisconsin, it's time to launch into 2013 with a clean slate and try to begin the year with no grudges and a spirit of compromise.

Wait. What? Oh, right. Anyway, here's one man's Milwaukee wish list for Santa.

  • Milwaukee needs a politically feasible plan to finance a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
  • Now that his U.S. Senate career is over, Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl needs to find a successor who will keep the team in the city.
  • The City of Milwaukee needs a new vision for The Shops of Grand Avenue.
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn need a truce.
  • Milwaukee County should sell its land in the Park East Freeway corridor to the City of Milwaukee, so it can be redeveloped.
  • General Mitchell International Airport needs another airline to enter the market.
  • The Italian Community Center in Milwaukee needs to find a developer willing to build a boutique hotel on its property across from the Summerfest grounds. Such a hotel would be a terrific asset for each of the summer festivals and would be tremendously useful for the empty nesters living in Third Ward condominiums when they have extended family get-togethers.
  • Milwaukee County needs to install automatic stop sticks that would be activated when cars enter the wrong way on freeway exit ramps.
  • Harley-Davidson Inc. needs to select Bob Seger to perform at its 110th anniversary celebration over Labor Day weekend in 2013.
  • Oak Creek needs to keep the bar raised high for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redevelop the former Delphi site. Don't succumb to pressure to develop less ambitious retail big boxes. For starters, it would be great if restaurateurs Omar Shaikh and Joe Bartolotta opened up-scale eateries in the O.C.
  • Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin needs a completely new bullpen.
  • The state legislature needs to do the right thing and fulfill the state's commitme…