2016 Milwaukee County Parks Traveling Beer Gardens Schedule

Here is the schedule for the Milwaukee County Parks Traveling Beer Gardens!


Here it is in PDF format.

Holler Park is in the 14th district, which I represent. The permanent Humboldt Park Beer Garden and South Shore Park Terrace, and Estabrook Park Beer Garden, will all be reopening, dates TBD.

County Board to hold public hearing on Mitchell Park Domes [updated]

The (mostly?) temporary  closure of the Mitchell Park Domes due to safety concerns is old news by now. This is a direct result of the deferred maintenance that has plagued the Milwaukee County Parks System for far too many years now — and I argue deferred maintenance is a direct cause of the tragedy at O’Donnell Park  in 2010. And the issues at the Domes are not at all new. The problems with deteriorating concrete have been known since 2004, and I voted for action on it back in 2013.

The Mitchell Park Domes

The Mitchell Park Domes, a popular tourist attraction and point of local pride, are the latest attraction to have been closed by deferred maintenance. This, despite the fact that in July 2015, I and my colleagues on the County Board allocated $5 million from an already-realized budget surplus to directly address deferred maintenance in the Parks, County Executive Abele dismissed this in his veto message [PDF] as  “flippant and irresponsible decision making” by the Board.

In September 2015, we also approved $500,000 specifically for Domes maintenance.

Half a year later, the Domes are closed.

In response to this closure, the County Board is holding a public hearing at the Mitchell Park Domes Greenhouse [map] at 6 PM on Wednesday, February 24th. We want to find out what the people of Milwaukee County want to happen with this cherished institution. According to an email from County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, the hearing agenda lists presentations by the County Executive; the Parks Director; and the Friends of the Domes, and comments by the public.

I’ll do a gentleman’s bet with anyone willing on whether or not the exec will or will not appear, as he repeatedly failed to represent his own department at a series of budget hearings last year.

Update: An e-mail from Abele to Chairman Lipscomb begins, “Thank you for the invitation. I will make sure that someone from my administration will be in attendance to answer the Board’s questions.” That’s a “no.” It is his sixth? seventh? eighth? failure to appear before the public on official business.

Either way, see you on February 24, 2016, at the greenhouse.

Food Truck Friday at Morgan Park

One of the most satisfying elements of my job as a county supervisor has been working with my neighbors to create Food Truck Friday at Morgan Park. This wonderful biannual event fills a tiny triangular park with hundreds of people who buy freshly prepared food from over a dozen food trucks along the park perimeter.

Original art by dwelliphant.

Food Truck Friday is the brainchild of two park neighbors, Kirsten and Sheri. They were both integral to starting the group Friends of Morgan Park. Sheri is the proprietor of a store across the street from Morgan Park. She noted that there are few options for food this far south on Kinnickinnic Avenue during the Bay View Neighborhood Association’s biannual Gallery Night events. She and Kirsten put their heads together, and Food Truck Friday began in the late summer of 2014.

We expected maybe a few dozen people to show up to partake from the five food trucks that day, but well over five hundred people came to the park that day!

Morgan Park is a little green triangle of grass and tall trees, less than an acre in size. It’s uncommon for there to be more than two or three people in the park for any length of time. So imagine now five hundred folks clamoring around food trucks, sitting in lawn chairs and enjoying the company of neighbors. Despite its size, the crowd was very good to the park, making sure to find trash cans and clean up after themselves. Once the people and the food trucks had left, you could hardly tell there had been an event there.

The following four Food Truck Fridays have each been bigger and better-attended. We look forward to the next one this June!

Below: The smell of hickory barbecue wafts across Morgan Park during Food Truck Friday on June 6, 2014.

June 6 2014 FTF

Oh, this ~is~ on.

Hello, world. I remember you.

I found this, rediscovered it by a chance web search for “Jasmine Owens murdered milwaukee.” Jasmine Owens was a five-year-old girl who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 2005. She looked an awful lot like my own five-year-old daughter, which scared the living hell out of me. Hence my post “Detroit, not Rome, is burning.

I will resume posting on here. I’ve got a thing or two to say since I left off in 2014.

Till next.

eRecycling Drive Benefiting People with Disabilities on Aug. 23 2014

From the good people at IndependenceFirst, via the Milwaukee County Office for Persons with Disabilities, comes word of this electronic recycling event. It’s happening Saturday, August 23 from 10am to 2pm.


eRecycling Drive Benefiting People with Disabilities

Event location: Pettit National Ice Center
500 S. 84th Street
Event date and time: August 23 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Computer Donation Drive


IndependenceFirst encourages consumers and businesses to recycle their old electronic devices through the “Stuff the Truck for Independence Drive.”

The drive will be held on Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pettit National Ice Center located at 500 S. 84th Street in Milwaukee (rain or shine).  It’s an easy drive-up and drop-off process.  No need to leave your vehicle!

Any electronics with a plug or battery will be accepted in working or non-working condition.  Bring your computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets, appliances and TVs, computer accessories like mice and keyboards or household appliances, small electronics, fans and more. Because of increased disposal cost, there will be a charge of $10 for TV recycling for TVs of all tube sizes and wooden cabinet TVs. Flat panel TVs (LED, Plasma, LCD ) and Rear projection will be accepted for free as well as any other electronics. CRT computer monitors are also still free. The data destruction process for all donated laptops and computers will follow strict identity theft prevention standards.

Recycling old computer equipment will benefit IndependenceFirst, providing opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain a computer they otherwise could not afford, develop crucial job pre-skills, gain information, seek jobs or housing, and get peer support.

For more information, call (414) 291-7520 V/Relay.

Politico: “Comcast-Time Warner Pay $132,000 to ‘Honor’ FCC Commissioner, With Merger Pending”

Who would ever imagine that two of the biggest telecommunications companies in North America, both of which have effective monopolies on broadband Internet provision, would go out of their way to throw a lavish party at which an FCC commissioner would be honored?

This does not create or present any conflict of interest. No sir, none whatsoever.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governmental body bound with the duty of regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, one of the Clinton-era laws aimed at deregulation of the converging telecommunications and broadcasting markets, paved the way for increased media consolidation, which was proceeding at an already pitched pace.

The FCC board of commissioners is in charge of reviewing major proposed mergers of media companies such as Comcast Corporation and and Time Warner, Inc. Their up-or-down vote approves or puts the kibosh on mergers such as this.

Just to review, Comcast now owns NBCUniversal, which gives it the NBC television network and all its holdings, plus Spanish language cable channel Telemundo, Universal Pictures film studio, and Universal Parks & Resorts. They also have some little online startup called Hulu. (We’ll have to see if anything comes of this whole “streaming video” nonsense.)

The other partner in the corporate dance, Time Warner, owns Turner Broadcasting System (CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, etc.), and this little film studio called Warner Bros. They also have a small magazine publishing empire, but those apparently don’t get read as much anymore.

These two companies, which in total have around $100 billion in annual revenue, want to merge. That would put more media (cable Internet subscribers, TV channels, magazines, web sites, etc.) in the hands of a smaller number of owners. The net effect is to reduce the variety and scope of media, which is taken in by a great many, while driving further profits that only a few will see. This is consistent with the industry trends. Just like airline consolidation, media consolidation has seen the landscape go to there being 50 owners of major media outlets in 1993, to just five in 2014. That’s a drastic reduction within the recent scope of history. (See above, Telecommunications Act of 1996.)

That in and of itself shouldn’t be too surprising. And perhaps it’s not that surprising that the two international media conglomerates would go out of their way to lavish praise upon one FCC commissioner — particularly when the proposed merger is about to be before the FCC for its consideration.

According to Politico:

“Comcast and Time Warner Cable are sponsoring a dinner honoring FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at a time when the agency is weighing whether to approve a multibillion-dollar merger between the two companies.

“Comcast will pay $110,000 to be a top-level “presenting sponsor” at the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s annual dinner in September, at which Clyburn is receiving the “diversity advocate” award, according to a foundation spokeswoman. Time Warner Cable paid $22,000 in May to the foundation for the same event, according to a Senate lobbying disclosure filed at the end of last month. The foundation supports diversity in the cable industry.”

(h/t Reader Supported News)

Are you shocked? I’m shocked. Round up twice the number of usual suspects!

Just so long as they’re not FCC commissioners.

By the way: It may seem that this is something that we mere mortals cannot affect. After all, these companies with bazillions of dollars of revenue, they’re too big for us to affect, right? Comcast-Time Warner and network neutrality are beyond your pay grade, right? No, not at all. To find out how you can help, check out freepress.net, home of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund. According to their site, “Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund do not support or oppose any candidate for public office. We are nonpartisan organizations fighting to save the free and open Internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom, and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media.”

You CAN make a difference. Let’s do it!

Supervisor Haas Celebrates Construction Project; “East Layton Washboard” Now a Smooth Ride

See the press release right here!

This is perhaps the biggest thing I have ever done for the public’s benefit. This road is on the north side of General Mitchell International Airport,  and traveled by over 70,000 people each month. It’s one of the gateways to Milwaukee. And you no longer have to worry about having your car’s suspension (or your own tooth) knocked out when you drive on it.

I am working with the Milwaukee County DOT (MCDOT), WisDOT,  and Gateway to Milwaukee on making it even better. Stay tuned!

What if black holes aren’t black, but grey?…

I’ve never been aware of any call for consideration of theoretical physics in the realm of local government. But it was a topic that I  had a fringe interest in back in my youth, before I realized you have to have a mastery of calculus to actually do anything with it. Likewise, my past dabbling in computer technology marketing (calculus not required, thank you very much) brought me close to some folks at the online British IT rag The Register. That’s where I found this article about Professor Stephen Hawking‘s latest musing on the nature of black holes.

Professor Hawking has been grappling with the idea that black holes aren’t quite as static as we’d imagined them. The classic, suited-for-TV-and-movies model, was that black holes are a dark point of super-nothingness that once you get too close to, it’s the end of days (and time). That model is rebuffed by astronomical evidence. As we’ve found lately, black holes are surrounded by a giant electro-magnetic haze that’s generated by the quantum warping of matter. Such features are readily visible to the Hubble Space Telescope. (I wonder, what if a black hole is out in space, away from matter. Does it still have an EM cloud about it?)

Hawking’s latest argument is that black holes do not have an event horizon, which in the classic model was the gravitational line that once matter crosses, it’s forever trapped in the black hole’s clutches. According to The Register, Hawking thinks it’s an ” ‘apparent horizon’ made up of space-time that’s fluctuating too wildly to have a fixed boundary as such – leading to a grey hole, if you will, instead.” While the term “grey hole” loses a lot of the mystery and intrigue that the term “black hole” evokes, it’s good to have the model evolve.
Coming back to Earth, here’s Pink Floyd in 1968 playing “Astronomy Domine.” Enjoy.