Franklin doors closed to taxpayers this Saturday

I paid my property taxes at City Hall today.

BTW, thank you, city of Franklin, for not being open on Saturday, December 30th, that would have allowed more opportunity for taxpayers to pay you the exorbitant taxes you charge.

That would have been most accommodating. Even 8 am to Noon. But we don’t want to overburden city staff, do we?

You can still pay them online, or by dropping them off in a box outside City Hall.


Today’s highly interesting read (12/29/17): 2017 Year in Review: Did that really happen?

I never post anything in this blog category written by a liberal. Or so I’ve been accused.

There are important reasons for that.

One, I’m not a liberal. God forbid.

Two, the entry must be one that I find highly interesting. The odds of a liberal columnist passing muster with me? Not good.

Today’s a rare exception as humor columnist Dave Barry offers his year in review.

Look, we know where on the political spectrum Barry is coming from. Still, some of this stuff is worth the read. Remember, he’s a humorist.

A sample…


… President Trump, following in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, tweets out a video clip from the internet in which he body-slams a wrestler with a CNN logo superimposed over the wrestler’s head. This in itself is so embarrassing that everybody assumes the story cannot get any stupider, but CNN rises to the occasion by announcing that its “KFile” investigative team has ferreted out the identity of the image’s creator, a private citizen who goes by the internet name “HanA**holeSolo.” (We are not making this up.) In a lengthy story on this journalistic coup, CNN magnanimously declares that it will not reveal HanA**holeSolo’s identity because he apologized and “showed his remorse” for other things he has tweeted that CNN, in its constitutionally prescribed role as Internet Police, deemed unacceptable. And thus the republic is saved.

The entire column is here.


Franklin officials claim they’re working hard on the area of economic development.

I believe them. They have to. They have no choice being a retail sieve.

In every city newsletter they promote new businesses. Yes, another storage place or nail salon or what not just opened. Yawn. Great big huge yawn.

Problem is, no substantial progress is being made, while next door neighbor Oak Creek continues to clobber us.  The faction in Franklin that would prefer we remain 1957 doesn’t care. The majority, however, wants Franklin to do something, anything.

In August of 2016  Franklin’s economic development director Aaron Hertzberg made a presentation to the Franklin Common Council that is still pertinent today. Here’s a portion:


Milwaukee-Chicago (South Suburban) is a “Growth Corridor”

Full Service Infrastructure Roads, sewer, water, public safety, etc.

Community of desire, Median HH income: $75,180

High quality living: Accessibility, schools, parks/trails, etc.

High value commercial: Franklin Business Park, NM & Wheaton

Active Development Market


Expectations out of line with existing market reality

Limited I-94 visibility

Lack of residential density and core focus area for retail

Comprehensive Plan & Design Standards (Are they a guide or a hurdle?)

Reputation: Challenging development process

Neighbor meetings, concept review & public hearings

Staff & regulatory review is extensive

Taxes/Impact Fees/Standards relative to peer communities

Plans, strategies, even economic realizations are known and in place. But that’s it. A lot of brainstorming, but no execution into substantive action people can see and understand.

It’s like that exhaustive report that looks and sounds awfully nice, then gets tossed into a drawer to never see the light of day again.

In 2017 Franklin’s retail struggles continued.

On August 15, 2017, I came home to a raving wife. That would be raving in a positive way.

Jennifer had spent part of her day at Fresh Thyme, a new grocery store in Greenfield at 84 South.

As I talked at the dinner table about my day at work, Jennifer couldn’t stop raving about Fresh Thyme.

My takeaway was the dozens of varieties of sausages in the meat department.

Fresh Thyme Market 081517.jpg

Are there this many varieties of sausage at our local Sendiks?  (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Fischer from her visit that afternoon.)

My wife and I have a lot in common.

We love Franklin even though we have our issues. Utopia, Franklin ain’t. Sorry.

We both are passionate about how we feel about Franklin.

And we both blog.

I’m a lot more edgy and political than Jennifer, but she has her moments because she has a good sense about what’s going on around Franklin.

Three years ago (2014) she blogged on the old site about retail in Franklin.


I feel fortunate to live in Franklin; I really do.  We have a safe community with a wonderful library, lovely parks, a new (though at times controversial) sports complex and a strong sense of civic pride that is evident every July 4th for the Independence Day Parade.  I’d like to support my fair city even more, but I can’t.

If I want to purchase anything other than the basics, it’s not possible to do so in Franklin.  If I want more than paper towels (Wal Mart,) a gallon of paint (Menard’s/Home Depot/Lowe’s,) a greeting card (Hallmark) or great produce (Sendik’s) then I’m forced to drive to neighboring communities.

“But you have a STARBUCKS!  You can’t complain about not having anything in Franklin!  Again, I say, you have a STARBUCKS!”

Um, yeah.  So does this place:

Ever heard of the City of Industry?

No?  I can’t believe you’ve never heard of a city in California with a population of 222 people.  After all, they have THREE STARBUCKS.  So gee, they must be THRIVING.

Seriously.  When I want to pick up a cute dress for Kyla, I need Boston Store or Macy’s.  Heck, even KOHL’S in a pinch.  Where can I find them?  Greendale.  If I need a pretty picture frame, a stylish vase or trendy handbag where should I look?  How ‘bout TJ Maxx?  In Greenfield.  If I’m out and about and getting hungry for a bowl of soup, sandwich on artisan bread or gourmet salad I wonder where I should eat?  I’d like to stop at Panera but where can I find one?  Oak Creek, of course.  (More on that community in a bit.)  If I want to drive just a few more miles north beyond my “next door neighbors” I can find everything from high-quality cosmetics to designer shoes at Mayfair Mall.

Do I like having to shop outside of Franklin?  Of course not.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way either.  But what am I supposed to do?  We simply don’t have the retail options of other similar cities in the area.  And wouldn’t it be nice not only to satisfy Franklin residents’ shopping needs but to draw other communities to us?

I was proud to vote for our new mayor, Steve Olson.  I think that he will be a great leader for our city for many reasons.  In a recent interview with Sean Ryan of the Business Journal, summarized by Kevin’s blog, Olson isn’t as infatuated with retail as I am:

Mayor Steve Olson also talked with the paper, saying his focus is on new business and industrial parks. He believes retail is a tough sell due to Southridge Mall being so close.

“I am absolutely not discouraging any retail, but I do think retail will come when retailers can justify it to themselves,” said Olson.”

I am sure that Mayor Olson has access to statistics and data that I don’t.  I believe he came to his conclusions with thoughtful analysis.  I simply don’t agree with him.

I feel that Franklin is starving for retail establishments and that given more flexible opportunities, store owners would love it here.  We’ve got the demographics to support business!  We’re similar to Oak Creek in so many ways except we make it next to impossible for entrepreneurs.  There are more hoops to jump through than at a Ringling Bros. extravaganza.  There’s more red tape here than at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As far as the theory that Southridge’s competition is a major detractor…  I truly believe competition is a good thing in so many cases.  But beyond that if everyone thought “Oh gee there’s already A, B, and C in this area so I won’t try to open D” then where would we be?  There’d be no Collectivo Coffee if a Starbucks was within a five-mile radius.  Lowe’s wouldn’t open a stone’s throw from Menard’s which is another stone’s throw from Home Depot.  Sendik’s wouldn’t dream of setting up shop when just a short drive away Pick ‘N Save offers many of the same products.

I believe we should not only passively support new retail businesses but actively recruit them.  While I said I feel fortunate to live in Franklin, I’d feel equally fortunate to live in Oak Creek while enjoying many more shopping opportunities.  Oak Creek is experiencing an unbelievably amazing renaissance right now.  And there’s more in their future.
—Jennifer Fischer, May, 2014.

What my wife wrote three years ago is still 100% true TODAY.

Our mayor’s argument in 2014 is the same he trumpets today. From 2014:

He (Mayor Olson) believes retail is a tough sell due to Southridge Mall being so close.

Oh really.

Let’s go to the geography.

Using S. 76th street as our measuring stick, Franklin is 1.9 miles from the Southridge Mall.

Again, my wife, Jennifer was extolling the virtues of Fresh Thyme after her visit earlier this year at 84 South.

84 South is 1.3 miles from the Southridge Mall.

84 South is and will be a tremendous project for many to benefit, including consumers from Franklin who will travel the not so horrible commute to enjoy shopping opportunities totally unavailable in Franklin.

The main point here: Mayor Olson’s Southridge argument is so much, sorry Mayor, fake news.

My wife gets what the city of Franklin intelligentsia does not.

Near the end of 2016 Jennifer also took issue with the mayor. Brookfield was having all sort sorts of problems accommodating the opening of a Total Wine store. On social media Jennifer suggested if Brookfield didn’t  want Total Wine they should consider coming to Franklin.

Mayor Olson responded.

“We already have one of those,” referring to Franklin’s Three Cellars. Very nice place, but nowhere near a Total Wine.

Mayor Olson is a sharp guy. That’s why we were stunned at his reply. Diplomatically speaking, we found it to be not very bright.

We were unaware Franklin had a quota on the number of great businesses. Apparently Oak Creek has no such limitations. Not one of the mayor’s best moments.

We already have one of those? Then came 2017.

The mayor does get an A-plus for this 2017 outburst.

And finally, as many of us longingly wait for something other than a weed to sprout, Franklin retail is a like a Broadway musical.


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Today’s highly interesting read(12/28/17): Trump Ends 2017 Residing In His Enemies’ Heads

In 2017 Kurt Schlichter has become one of my favorite conservative columnists.

Schlichter’s bio says he’s “a successful Los Angeles trial lawyer, a veteran with a masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a former stand-up comic.”

From his latest:

He was supposed to lose the primary, but he didn’t. He was supposed to lose the general, but he didn’t. He was supposed to fall victim to the covert schemes of leftist bureaucrats and the overt obstruction of The Resistance, but he didn’t. Instead, Donald Trump has prospered as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. And it’s breaking the souls of his enemies. Deliciously.

Read the entire column here.


I pick on Franklin, a lot.

It’s a very nice community, otherwise I wouldn’t choose to live here.

But Franklin is the typical “B” student. It tries, oh how it tries to be the best, but it just can’t do get to that level. Franklin comes up short, all the time.

Why?  Because the city is its own worst enemy. Franklin is not, as our mayor loves to place blame, having problems because it’s the state’s fault.

The community is strange in this regard.

Too much traffic? Something criminal must be going on. More apartments, even if they’re luxury? We can’t have those people living here.

Someone set chairs up to save a spot for the parade on the 4th of July? Arrest them!

But obscene taxes and more tax and spending increases?


Apathy reigns.

That’s why it’s somewhat remarkable to see Franklin residents get so passionate about this particular tax issue.

It occurred back in April.

Voters in Milwaukee County including Franklin were being asked to approve a 100% tax increase.

That’s right. A potential 100% tax increase.

Almost totally forgotten in the spring election was is an advisory referendum for Milwaukee County voters on whether they liked the county executive’s idea to raise the county’s $30 wheel tax to $60. Here’s the exact wording:

Do you support County Executive Abele’s proposal for a $60 Vehicle Registration Fee (wheel tax) to provide designated funding for transit and transportation-related projects?

The math is quite simple.

Though the referendum is advisory in nature, should it pass, you know darn well the County Board and Abele would have fought tooth and nail to enact a $60 wheel tax. That’s a whopping 100% increase.

How did we get there? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on a Milwaukee County Board meeting last November:

On a 10-7 vote, the board approved a $30 vehicle registration fee ordinance during its annual budget adoption meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, the board on a vote of 17-1 approved a package of amendments to County Executive Chris Abele’s recommended budget that uses revenue from a $30 wheel tax.

Supervisor John Weishan voted no.

“My constituents have told me loud and clear they don’t want a wheel tax,” Weishan said.

Check out this next sentence:

On the subsequent vote for the ordinance establishing the $30 fee, however, six additional supervisors joined Weishan in opposition even though they approved a spending plan dependent on its revenue. The other supervisors voting against the wheel tax include Deanna Alexander, Eddie Cullen, Michael Mayo Sr., Dan Sebring, Anthony Staskunas and Steve Taylor.

You decide if that makes any sense. It doesn’t. The spending plan dependent on the wheel tax revenue approved by Deanna Alexander, Eddie Cullen, Michael Mayo Sr., Dan Sebring, Anthony Staskunas and Steve Taylor included the ridiculous BRT, Bus Rapid Transit.

In my view a vote on any plan that relied on revenue from the wheel tax is an automatic NO.

Steve Taylor voted Yes. So did my supervisor, Dan Sebring.

Getting back to the referendum. But Kev, it’s only advisory.  BS.

Approve this referendum and you’re looking at a tax that probably with good odds looking down the road will go up 100%.


The question once again:

Do you support County Executive Abele’s proposal for a $60 Vehicle Registration Fee (wheel tax) to provide designated funding for transit and transportation-related projects?

The math was quite simple. Voters were being asked to approve a 100% tax increase and they resoundingly rejected the idea, with 72% voting NO, 28% voting YES.

The beatdown of the referendum was even greater here in Franklin.

Voting YES: 1,008, or 17.32 %

Voting NO: 4,811, or 82.68%
(Source: Franklin City Clerk)

Chris Abele wasn’t listening.

In his 2018 budget request, Abele proposed a $60 annual registration fee as a dedicated source of funding for transit and road and bridge repairs.

The County Board shot down that idea.

Now if only Franklin taxpayers would react the same way to city and local school tax increases and spending.

Unfortunately, BOHICA.


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Today’s highly interesting read (12/27/17): Waiting for Alzheimer’s

Normally the articles I pass along in the “Highly Interesting” segment are about politics or cultural issues. Not today.

The New York Times’ N.R. Kleinfield spent 20 months with one woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease as she tried to make sense of it all and live her best life.

Every 67 seconds, with monotonous cruelty, Alzheimer’s takes up residence in another American. Degenerative and incurable, it is democratic in its reach. People live with it about eight to 10 years on average, though some people last for 20 years. More than five million Americans are believed to have it, two-thirds of them women, and now Ms. Taylor would join them.

 The disease, with its thundering implications, moves in worsening stages to its ungraspable end. That is the familiar face of Alzheimer’s, the withered person with the scrambled mind marooned in a nursing home, memories sealed away, aspirations for the future discontinued. But there is also the beginning, the waiting period.

That was Geri Taylor. Waiting.

Read the entire NY Times article here.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2017: The stories that didn’t make the cut

In no particular order:

The Oak Leaf Trail is expanding.

A fantastic Franklin business reaches new heights.

State Senator Dave Craig’s gun bill gets roundly criticized. Here’s one example.

State Representative Ken Skowronski’s gun bill.

New cell tower coming.

Franklin’s school superintendent Steve Patz retires.

Neighbors fear Franklin school development could endanger their lake.

Suppose Foxconn wanted to come to Franklin?

Franklin’s Independence Day Parade is nice, but…

Canadian scholars wouldn’t be happy with Kayla’s Playground, or my neighbors.

ALPRs: Catching crooks, or violating privacy?

Dogs at Kayla’s Playground? or Common sense takes a holiday in Franklin.

The Franklin/Muskego/Whitnall/Oak Creek gymnastics program won the Division 1 title for the sixth time in seven years.

Franklin baseball coach Jim Hughes won his 900th career game, then took the Sabers to the state tournament. Hughes has more wins than anyone else in state history.

Franklin’s all-everything, Max Alba surpassed the 1,000 point mark in his basketball career.

Alba was named the quarterback on the First Team of the 2017 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAM.  The Franklin senior completed 165 of 281 passes (58.7 percent) for 2,259 yards and 25 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for 321 yards and seven touchdowns. Alba has committed to play baseball at the University of North Carolina.