The city of Franklin again is asking for your help. Currently on its website:

Volunteers Needed to Fill Vacancies on
City Boards & Commissions

Are you interested in serving on a City Board, Commission, or Committee?  Click here for complete details on the various Boards and Commissions, the list of vacancies that currently exist, and a link to the “Volunteer Fact Sheet” form.

Providing public service is always commendable. However I can completely understand why Franklin is experiencing these vacancies.

Under the scrutiny of a dysfunctional city council, who’d want the job, especially when you consider the case of David Pautz.

Please follow along carefully. There are many moving parts to this one.

From my blog on March 14, 2017:

Back on December 23, 2016, I wrote a blog announcing (My alderwowan, Kristen) Wilhelm would be (running for re-election) unopposed and some of my concerns. In the comments section Franklin Parks Commissioner Dave Pautz brought up an item that Wilhelm fought desperately for and won: sidewalks on a certain stretch on W. College Avenue.

As Queen, the “Environmental Warrior” was able to wrangle an off budget sidewalk to the tune of $300,000 plus, in front of her condo on College Ave. How she managed to coerce a budget amendment last year to accommodate the nice sidewalk is stuff of legend. A handy source of funds just happened to be the Parks Impact Fee fund and without consulting the Parks Commission, the funds were made available under the concept of the sidewalk being a trail. I am not against environmental stewardship, but become suspicious when the “cloak of the cause” gets tossed aside to satisfy a personal agenda. Just saying. .

I replied in the comments section to Pautz:

David, even though you are completely accurate in your observations, you do realize that you have made yourself an even bigger target than before by those who put personal pettiness ahead of what’s best for the city. They will be gunning for you, mainly because you speak the truth.

Wilhelm was not pleased.

Well after the new year had begun and many weeks after the aforementioned comments were posted Wilhelm contacted me suggesting I make a correction. She sent me a letter printed on official City of Franklin letterhead she wrote to the mayor and all Common Council members arguing that Pautz’s claim of a $300,000 cost for the sidewalks was erroneous (it was). Without mentioning yours truly or this publication Wilhelm also wrote that Pautz’s comments had led to my disparaging response.

I informed Wilhelm that when I wrote that Pautz was “completely accurate” I was referring to his stance on her behavior as alderwoman.

I also suggested that if she was that upset that she go right to the source, the comments on the particular blog in question, and write her response to set the record straight. Wilhelm refused.

No correction was ever made on my blog because I felt Wilhelm wasn’t being forthright and was leaving out portions of the entire story, thus, misleading the public.

It’s now March and Wilhelm still hasn’t gotten over this. She sent me her latest e-newsletter that I always post here, despite my frustrations with her (frustration, not a personal dislike). And, sure enough, Wilhelm writes about sidewalks and their price tag:

College Avenue Sidewalk Funding 
I’m taking the time to correct some incorrect statements made in public forums recently.
Here are the actual costs of the sidewalk as compared to the $300,000 total budgeted by the Council. This data is from the City’s Finance Department.

Engineering/planning – $9,100
Public notices – $540
Recording fees – $150
Contractor –  $117,692
Total College Ave sidewalk costs –   $127,482

Resources to pay the $127,482 will be split between a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and a pre-existing Tax Incremental District (TID 3) as directed by the Council. Several hundred feet of the sidewalk were installed by the State in conjunction with the 27th St. reconstruction. No park impact fees were used. No portion of this project serves my place of residence.

Due to significant savings from these opportunistic funding methods – which I researched and presented – three other projects were funded using the surplus College Ave budget. Two were park projects.

Pleasant View Trail project –               $37,000
Robinwood Trail –                                $20,000
St. Martin’s Road culvert project –        $75,000
Total other projects supported by
the sidewalk budget surplus –         $132,000
—Kristen Wilhelm

Nice to see that my lefty alderwoman has turned into such a fiscal conservative.

I deliver the full story to residents with no hidden agendas or special interests.
—Kristen Wilhelm

I thought there was another side of the story that hadn’t surfaced: Dave Pautz’s. So I asked him about the whole $300,000 cost and what Wilhelm was circulating. Here’s what Pautz wrote back to me with his approval to post:

A  recent District Wide Letter to Constituents provided by the incumbent aldermanic representative took on the issue of false or misleading statements in a blog post dated December 23rd 2016.  Apparently, the alderperson felt it necessary to let constituents know that she was addressing false statements in “a recent blog”.  However, her rebuttal presented facts which are misleading and designed to deflect what was stated.

My blog comments on Dec. 23, 2016, indicated that Parks Impact Fee monies were made available as part of the College Ave. sidewalk funding project. There are budgetary documents available that indicate up to $132,000 of Park Impact Fee funds “could” be available for the Off Budget project championed by Ms. Wilhelm. The fact that alternative funding was achieved and project costs came in under the initial budget is a good thing. However, the use of Community Block Grant monies means some other worthy projects didn’t get funded.

Recall also that the sidewalk was never formally budgeted in the budgeting process back in late 2015. There was great fanfare by certain aldermanic reps that the mayor’s budget needed to be slashed. They proudly announced to the world that they stood up for fiscal sanity and passed a revised, much better budget, in their own words. Then, in early January of 2016, they proceeded with a budget amendment to add the sidewalk, which was championed by Ms. Wilhelm. I have no issues with the sidewalk as it was at the time, necessary. The process of coming to fruition was the gripe.

At the time of the Blog post in December of 2016, I wanted to point out the fact that the  Parks Commission, which I chair, was never consulted or requested to provide input, much less recommend to Common Council, the strategy of using Park Impact Fee funds under the guise of the sidewalk being a “Trail”.

It is amazing how pet projects of individuals on the council seem to get pushed through without much input from affected parties. That same sidewalk, somehow managed to have the required wetlands and setback requirements that are vigorously enforced on private developers, somehow become less important to the cause.  Staff has verified that some environmental corners were cut which may be interesting to private developers that had, or have business before the Council. Also interesting is how a certain someone had no issues with that. But then again, without the costly venue of impact statements and delineations reports, we suspect the project that came in well under budget had preferential treatment. Funny how that works in Franklin.

Pautz tells me he can’t understand why Wilhelm keeps dredging this up. I’m sure it’s because Pautz made negative comments about Wilhelm and other members of the Council at a public meeting last year that I posted here and completely agree with.

Let me repeat what I wrote here to Pautz and you:

“…you do realize that you have made yourself an even bigger target than before by those who put personal pettiness ahead of what’s best for the city. They will be gunning for you, mainly because you speak the truth.”

They don’t like it. Pautz bruised, let me re-phrase that, Pautz crushed their egos, this unpaid civic volunteer. So they want him out.
—This Just in…, March 14, 2017

One week later I reminded readers about the real reason Wilhelm was so upset about  Pautz.

From my blog:

For the benefit of those who’ve forgotten or never heard about it, THIS is why Wilhelm and others are all bent out of shape about Dave Pautz, a solid volunteer who has worked masterfully to build and grow the parks system in Franklin.

THIS is why they, including Wilhelm are out to get Pautz.

Speak your opinion as a private citizen in Franklin and you are targeted. Yes, this is the ugly reality in Franklin that no one wants to report, talk about, spread on social media. God bless Dave Pautz. Why would anyone want to be on a board or commission given the persecution Pautz awaits when  Steve Olson wins and reappoints him to the Parks Commission.
—This Just In…, March 21, 2017

In April 2017, the Common Council met to decide Pautz’s nomination. I wrote about it here.

On April 20, 2017, I blogged that the ouster of Pautz could have and should have been handled differently.

One final note:

Alderwoman Wilhelm and I had a very pleasant conversation at my home this past summer. The majority of our nearly hour discussion was not about politics.  Eventually, she did bring up politics, including Pautz.

Because our chat was private I can’t get into the specifics. Suffice to say we had differing views and our minds weren’t changed.

I can say this. I know Pautz has a thick skin, and if the council members who voted him out think they did him any damage, personal or otherwise, they’re badly mistaken.

I repeat. Thank you, David, for your many years of dedicated service.


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The latest pro-life news (12/26/17)


From Pro-Life Wisconsin


Doesn’t the pro-life movement fit so well with mystery of Christ’s birth?

Mary conceived without sin and she had to tell this to Joseph, hoping he would understand. Joseph could have fled, but instead he stayed to help his wife in her pregnancy with Jesus Christ, following God’s plan for them.

This is the mission that Pro-Life Wisconsin nurtures all year long. No matter the circumstances, a child is always a gift from God and God’s plan is always good!

The message of Christmas is that of authentic joy and hope! Isaiah’s prophetic words capture it so well: “For unto us a child is born!”

Thank you for your prayers, support and generosity in 2017.

Pro-Life News

THE PRO-LIFE CHRISTMAS STORY, STRONGER THAN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES: “Courage unleashes miracles. This Christmas, may we be reminded of the faith and vulnerability that is required in our own journeys. May we never forget that Christmas is the beginning of God’s love story for us and completed in the ultimate act of selfless love—Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross and miraculous resurrection.” Read the beautiful story here.

Choose Life license plates are now available! All money invested in these plates will be made available to pregnancy resource centers in Wisconsin via a simple grant request. Click here to find out how to get your plate today!

From WI Right To Life


Nikki Haley Announces $235 Million Cut to UN Budget as United Nations Continues Pushing Abortion

NFL Player Who Refused to Meet Pro-Abortion President Obama to Headline March for Life


Today’s highly interesting read (12/26/17): Santa calls it quits

That was 1897.

120 years later, from the Richmond-Times Dispatch:

I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety-Ffifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are right. There used to be a Santa Claus, but not anymore.

Oh, he is real, dear girl. He most certainly exists. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. But he has gotten out of the gift-giving game.

Read the entire column here.


October 9, 2015.

Several hours before I was to emcee an event I called the greatest day in the history of Franklin…

Police Chief Rick Olivia said Franklin officers responded to a suspicious noise at Franklin Woods, 3723 W. Puetz Rd., around midnight.

Olivia said officers found an exploded soda bottle near the area of Kayla’s Playground.

“The source of the blast was a plastic soda bottle which contained unknown contents,” Olivia said. “It was determined that the bottle exploded under pressure.”

Several other soda bottles were found along a path in the woods, within several hundred feet of the playground.

“Anyone who thinks they are being cute by doing something like this, this is serious business,” Mayor Steve Olson said.

Olivia said the area was deemed safe, and construction crews returned to finish work at the playground.  Olivia and Olson said a 5:30 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony would go (and did) as scheduled.

“1,800 people worked on this playground,” Olson said. “One or a small number of people are not going to slow this down.”

Fast forward to February 7, 2017.

Oliva issued a news release about the incident that read in part:

The Franklin Police Department has taken four suspects into custody related to a year and a half long open active investigation.

Franklin Police arrested a 19 year old Franklin man for state charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety and Disorderly Conduct.

On February 03, 2017 the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued 1 count of Disorderly Conduct – Party to a Crime against the suspect. That charge is currently pending in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Also taken into custody in connection with the incident were a 20 year old man and two 19 year old men, all from Franklin. All three suspects currently have Disorderly Conduct charges pending in Franklin Municipal Court.

On February 8, 2017, FOX 6 News reported.

Within a week, Samuel Natschke-Jurkiewicz, 19, was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Dominic Tarantino, 19, Tyler Swainston, 20, and Austin Wright 19 faced charges of disorderly conduct on a municipal level.

All four suspects were living in Franklin at the time of the incident.

Court records indicate that on May 8, 2017, the charge against Natschke-Jurkiewicz was dismissed on a motion by the prosecutor because the charge was not proven.


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Did I have a Christmas miracle?

A few years ago I had very successful surgery on my right hip.

That meant our family trip to Disney World in October and November of 2016 was 100% pain free.

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

If you’ve been to the Mouse House you know how fun, but exhausting a vacation it can be.

On that last day, leaving the hotel for the airport, I’m always thinking about the next adventure, usually the following year.

However, around February or March of this year I started experiencing the same pain that necessitated surgery, this time in my left hip. It lingered so I stopped even thinking about planning a trip to Florida which I normally would do months and months ahead of time.

Sorry, Kyla. Just can’t do it.

And then come November and primarily in December, the pain more or less disappeared.


During my annual physical earlier this month I discussed this with my doctor. He chuckled and said it was obvious what was going on.

I’ve lost 22 pounds in a year.

Instant relief.

No divine intervention?

I still thank God.

And Orlando, the Fischer family just might be back soon!

Milwaukee weather one year ago

Global warming?

The high and low temperatures for Milwaukee in 2016, followed by the average high and low temps (Source:

Sun 38°/35° 0.15 in 0 in 30°/18°
Mon 49°/26° 0.15 in 0 in 30°/17°
Tue 27°/17° 0 in 0 in 30°/17°
Wed 44°/18° 0 in 0 in 30°/17°
Thu 36°/31° 0 in 0 in 30°/17°
Fri 37°/25° 0 in 0 in 30°/17°
Sat 38°/24° 0 in 0 in 30°/17°

My Most Popular Blogs (12/25/17)

Here are my most popular blogs from last week, Sunday – Saturday:

1) Best Cartoons of the Week (12/23/17)

2) Goodnight everyone, and have a beautiful Christmas weekend!



5) Culinary no-no #545

6) Photos of the Week (06/05/16)

7) Week-ends (12/23/17)

8) Finally, some tax relief!

9) The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (12/23/17)

10) Today’s highly interesting read (12/21/17): Do you know the story behind “White Christmas”?

And this didn’t make our Top Ten, but it’s worth a look:

UPDATE: Note to Franklin Mayor Steve Olson: Enough with the tax rate already!



On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Shelly Runte, mother of Kayla Runte and the inspirational leader of Kayla’s Krew and City of Franklin Engineer Glen Morrow spoke at The  2017 American Public Works Association Public Works Expo.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

The event draws thousands of public works professionals from all over the world.

Runte and Morrow spoke at a diversity session about lessons learned beyond the building of Kayla’s Playground.

Located at Franklin Woods, Kayla’s Playground that opened in 2015 offers a playful and relaxing experience for families of all abilities.

The site never ceases to amaze, drawing crowds all year long.

This announcement  was made just a few weeks ago on December 8, 2017.

More than 55,000 votes were verified to determine the winners of the 2017 Milwaukee A-List. The 164 winners competed with more than 4,100 nominees to be named the BEST of Milwaukee A-List.

It’s the second year in row Kayla’s Playground has won the award.

That’s no surprise.

Whenever I visit Franklin’s jewel, I make it a point to stop and  look at the posted proclamation written by Franklin Mayor Steve Olson. It opens by stating Kayla Runte’s “much-too-short and precious life inspired an entire community to develop a playground that celebrates joy and inclusion.”

That it does.

Kayla’s Playground goes beyond federal requirements for playgrounds by providing not one but three types of play.

And this wonderful spot also addresses the worry for many that today’s playgrounds have become less adventurous.

Read more about the value of places like Kayla’s Playground in this 2017 article by City Lab.

The article never mentions Kayla’s Playground, but has Kayla’s Playground written all over it.

And read this blog about one of the many volunteers who helped build the playground. Holly Denfeld will graduate from MSOE in May. She’s now assisting in coaching the MSOE women’s basketball where she starred.


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Culinary no-no #546

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

My wife blogs, too.

I’ll let her explain her love, and need, of coffee.

A long time ago I blogged about an early assignment I had working at WUWM. I was sent to an A & P grocery store on the east side of Milwaukee to get reaction from shoppers to the announced closing of all of the franchise stores.

Most I spoke with were stunned, especially one octogenarian woman who sadly told me in words I remember to this day:

“I’ve got to have my Eight O’Clock Coffee in the morning. I need my coffee.”

I also recall my years working at the state Capitol in Madison. When gas prices were exorbitant many of my colleagues moaned and groaned in agony. Yet I could set my watch to them, observing several times a day their trip to the Starbucks directly across the street on the Capitol Square.

We know the addictive power of the bean. There’s also the strong popularity of coffee shops throughout the land. How did that happen?

Award-winning writer Kenyon Farrow credits television.

“I think ‘Friends’ (and ‘Seinfeld’) are totally responsible for marketing cities to young white suburbanites, [which] helped fuel the market-demand side for gentrification to take place in the ‘90s and 2000’s,”said Farrow.

Another writer, Ben Adler who covers environmental policy and politics for the Grist said “Americans have increasingly become alienated by the social isolation of suburban, car-dependent life. That’s fueled both the urban gentrification that brings the cafes, and the cafes themselves.”

And how about Starbucks? In 1994 Starbucks opened with 425 stores nationwide. By 2005 the number exploded to 10,241.

New York City’s Jay Smooth who does videos for the Ill Doctrine blog summed it up well.

“Starbucks got [people] used to paying an inflated price for good coffee, which in turn created a market for places to sustain that habit after noticing Starbucks is not good coffee,” said Smooth. “I’d be interested to see a chart of how closely the rise of coffee shops coincides with the rise of laptops (and subsequent portable devices), and the demand for workspaces with wi-fi that they (along with changes in the economy/job market?) have ushered in.”

But is the coffee shop  becoming a no-no?

The answer is yes.

The number of coffee establishments in the U.S. has increased by 16% over the last year to almost 33,000. And that’s not exactly good news.

According to

The boom in coffee shops is starting to hurt business owners. Consumers are visiting traditional coffee shops less often when there are a plethora of cheaper options. Everyone from McDonald’s Corp. to gas stations is hawking specialty coffee. Even grocery stores are expanding the space devoted to bottled and canned coffee drinks, which (market research firm) Mintel says poses a threat to coffee shops. Traffic growth to large coffee chains such as Starbucks is slowing, while traffic to small coffee chains and independent shops is declining, according to NPD Group Inc.

Read all the details here.


Restaurant owners struggle with labor shortages