For our top spot, it was the one Franklin story in 2018 that kept giving good news after good news: the continuing progress at Ballpark Commons.

Enthusiasm began to build in February.

The long-awaited groundbreaking took place in June with good media coverage.

Journal Sentinel


South Now

Even before shovels hit the ground UW-Milwaukee officially signed a lease agreement to play at the new facility.

And how about a four-season beer garden?

And shortly after the groundbreaking came word that Ballpark Commons would be getting much-needed memory care housing  (the mayor strongly criticized this component of the development).

Then in September, a nickname for the baseball team that will call Ballpark Commons home.

One last Ballpark Commons news nugget came earlier this month when the Journal Sentinel reported the development “is seeking another $5.2 million in city financing help — beyond $22.5 million already approved. Roc Ventures LLC, led by developer Mike Zimmerman, is seeking the additional cash because of ‘increases in unforeseen development expenses,’ according to a city report.”

That kind of reporting can certainly raise eyebrows. At first blush such a headline could boil blood. But the request by the developer is certainly reasonable and well understood when all facts are considered.

Keep in mind that this project has grown significantly from its infant stages by over $50M of additional projected increment.  That means the project needed  additional infrastructure that can support the addition(s).

This point is critical. Construction and other prices have increased during the 18 months or so since the tax incremental financing district was established for the development. The rise in construction costs is not a Ballpark Commons phenomenon. It’s a nationwide issue. Google to find out.various units of government have been involved and have paid such close attention. Not a bad thing. Just a reality.

Look, Ballpark Commons is  no Miller Park. Doesn’t have to be. I know first hand that deals of this magnitude are extremely complex. They take time. And in the process costs can easily go up. Zimmerman has thrown substantial skin in the game. My guess is he wouldn’t go to the city and ask for assistance if he didn’t think such help was feasible.

This issue will carry over into 2019, but for now, it appears Ballpark Commons is on a clear path to a Grand Opening, after all the various city conditions, additional approvals needed, the County sales cycle to acquire the land, additional studies, public hearings, etc.  It’s an amazing Franklin success story.

We close with the following. In August Ballpark Commons developer/owner Mike Zimmerman was Steve Scaffidi’s guest on WTMJ Conversations. WTMJ promoted the program with an audio clip of Zimmerman saying the public hearings on the mixed-use project were so ugly he told his wife not to attend.

Please take the time to listen to the entire program here. It’s a great insight into this entire story. Just click the play button at the top of the page.


1) Ballpark Commons well on its way
2) Police referendum rejected
3) Reassessments outrage
4) Logsdon upsets incumbent Taylor
5) Police? No. A remodeled City Hall? YES
6) Like it or not Franklin, you’re getting another roundabout
7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin

I didn’t care for New Year’s Eve TV years ago, but I sure miss it now

I have definite memories of December 31 as a youngster.

The tree of course was lit and Dad post-dinner was spread out on the couch. Mom knew the drill. As the night got later, first came a Dad favorite, Ma Baensch’s premium marinated herring fillets.

That was followed by raw beef and onions and rye bread. Mom was a saint.

At 10:00, guess what? The 10:00 news silly. After the news it was to CBS and live coverage of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadiens. I would retreat to my bedroom and watch Dick Clark.

But observe Guy Lombardo and this tribute video many years after Lombardo died. You decide. Corny. Outdated. Silly. Too old fashioned.

Or a great time we miss. Classy. Elegant. Mom and Dad somehow found a way to stay awake.

Today, I love and miss the Johnson Rag.


City officials tried to add more police officers via a November referendum. The effort failed miserably.  There are plenty of details to share. We’ll do it in chronological order.

JULY: Franklin mails survey to residents

The questionnaire sought input on whether they support a) an increase in taxes for additional emergency services, b) the status quo, or c) cutting spending elsewhere to finance additional emergency services.

The Journal Sentinel reported the following:

Mayor Steve Olson said in a release from Mueller Communications and the city of Franklin that the survey is designed to help Franklin “finalize a public safety plan that reflects the opinions of our residents and their willingness to financially support these services.”

I asked the city if they could tell me what the cost of having Mueller work on the release was as well as the cost of the survey.

Pretty simple stuff. But this is Franklin we’re talking about where nothing is easy.

I did receive information from the City Clerk.

Attached is the documentation from the Common Council meeting of February 19, 2018, relating to the Public Safety Services review by Mueller Communications.  The following action was taken at that meeting:

“Alderman Taylor moved to authorize staff to proceed with a project for a Public Safety Services review, including an Options Assessment and Citizen Survey, relative to Fire Department services and some Police services for an amount not-to-exceed $42,000 and to authorize the Director of Administration to prepare and execute service contracts as contemplated for the project, including but not limited to a contract with Mueller Communications, subject to input from the City Attorney as needed.  Seconded by Alderman Barber.  All voted Aye; motion carried.”

Contained in the six-page attachment:

Mueller’s proposal comes in two phases.

Phase I: Further evaluation of the issue and related options.

Phase II: Development and execution of a community survey that would garner public input on those options.

Mueller’s direct costs are hourly but are estimated to be between $12,000 and $14,000 with an additional 5 percent service and technology fee ($600-$700).

A third party vendor, Community Perceptions, would also be engaged that has expertise in developing and analyzing survey documents. That cost is estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000.

ADDITIONALLY, Phase II requires printing and postage for the survey with an estimated cost of $8,500.

Phases I and II would have an estimated cost of between $31,100 and $38,200.

Seems to me that could go a long way toward hiring another police officer or firefighter.

I daresay someone like me who has lots of experience in writing and public policy could have met with the mayor and city staff to discuss the issue at hand and determine what input the city is seeking from residents. That would have conservatively taken about an hour.

Another hour could have then been spent compiling the questions for the survey the city could review and edit/tweak to their heart’s desire.

Again, even at a conservative rate of $150/hour you’re talking $300, maybe $450. You still would have to send out a mailer and have someone “analyze” the survey findings, but sizeable savings could have been made.

I wrote that the entire survey and process was an utter waste.

In a nutshell, the survey was biased, designed to persuade people there is a need for increased property taxes.

The mayor pounces

Recall that in February the city, unnoticed by just about everyone, laid the foundation for the survey ultimately seeking a tax increase the city could later submit that voters acted on their own to enact.

Now the city wondered, when do we really go public?

Waiting for the right time to take advantage of taxpayers. This was it.

From on June 22:

Just weeks after a giving a warm welcome for the Ballpark Commons at a groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Steve Olson’s joy for the massive development turned somewhat sour when developers added a senior housing project into the mix, a change the plan commission signed off on June 21.

Olson did not mince words with his displeasure for New Perspective Senior Living, saying this was the “wrong facility in the wrong part of town for the wrong reason in the wrong development.”

The mayor’s comments came after he had defended placing a roundabout near the Claire Meadows Senior Apartments by saying, “Seniors complain they don’t like roundabouts. Well, how much longer are they going to drive? I’m sorry. It’s a plain fact.”

Again, the mayor assuredly did the way it sounded, but he was divisive.

If you believe social media is any sort of barometer, the mayor inadvertently set off negative commentary targeted at, in no particular order:



Emergency responders and what they charge

Senior facilities

Seniors in general

Ballpark Commons

The survey language

On the survey sent to residents the city wrote:

The Common Council works very hard to be good stewards of taxpayers’ funds…

That statement is debatable. In my view it’s also laughable.

I have lived in Franklin since 1992, have built two new homes here, and in 26 years have paid obscene city taxes each and every year. Spare me the patting themselves on the back routine.

Let’s continue.

The Common Council works very hard to be good stewards of taxpayers’ funds, as evidenced by the fact that from 2013-2017 total municipal property taxes stayed the same.

Commendable? You bet.

But let’s remember property taxes for that period of time stayed at the ridiculous amount they already were at.

What Mayor Olson conveniently omits telling folks is that during one of those years when he submitted a budget with a very tiny tax increase it took a series of budget cut amendments proposed by Alderman Steve Taylor to get the budget down to a tax freeze.

Why does the city literature mention the years 2013-2017 but not 2018?

Because Mayor Olson’s proposed 2018 budget called for a 3% tax increase, way above the rate of inflation. The Common Council knocked it down to a 2.5% increase.

The other day my wife asked a nearby neighbor if he had filled out the survey. His response came immediately, and I’m paraphrasing.

“If they need more money then why don’t they do what every family in America does and CUT something?!”

The survey does ask if the city should consider cuts as opposed to a tax increase to handle what we’re told will be an increase in demand for emergency services.

But c’mon. Does anyone who has lived here for some time and has been paying attention actually believe the city will cut anything?

It’s not that much

When you add the tax increase onto the schools, the county, the MMSD, etc, yes, it matters.


Apparently the mayor and City Hall are in possession of some crystal ball informing and alarming them that the need for services will increase dramatically and that the city just won’t be able to handle it.

This assertion sets up the elderly to be the scapegoats and too many are now of that mindset.

It’s ok to be flat out opposed.

I know I am and I can live with that.

I’ve never ripped the police or fire departments in Franklin and I was about to start. They deserve our undying gratitude and respect.  But this effort geared towards a referendum and ultimate tax increase is NOT the way to resolve this matter. Years of poor planning should not result in punishing the already beleaguered Franklin taxpayers.

And now the Franklin Police Department has been dragged into this, lobbying on their Facebook page. I can’t speak for the police but I can only think they’re not thrilled at having to go political.

Bottom line

You’re being scammed, Franklin.

From the expenditure for the survey to whom the city hired to the survey’s wording to the long-term intent of the city (which is a referendum) to the city’s talking point that if residents say yes, then the city is not complicit. Taxpayers did it to themselves.

We pay for emergency services. It’s called the property tax. The people who were elected who have the authority need to fix this. It’s their responsibility. If they can’t, or if their only answer is to increase taxes, they need to step aside and let others take control.

AUGUST: The survey results. I blogged.

AUGUST: Franklin scheduled a referendum. I blogged.

OCTOBER: Franklin aldermen approved without telling anyone a police referendum was for 18 years, and still haven’t told anybody (until we asked).

NOVEMBER: The vote

I predicted the scaled-down referendum would pass. I was wrong.

No 57%  9,815
Yes 43% 7,512

This entire episode was botched and flawed from the beginning.

Adding police officers should have been addressed with the appropriate, usual method  done by local municipalities each and every year across the entire state…during annual budget deliberations.

Instead, here in Franklin, elected officials abandoned their responsibility they were elected to take on. They ignored making the tough decisions, took the Pontius Pilate approach, and punted their duty to the voters. We couldn’t do it. You make the call. Bail us out.

Franklin officials did what they do best. They foolishly spent money on a useless public survey that asked citizens for permission to hire the moon, including police, fire, and paramedics. They reacted with jaws on the sidewalk when informed by respondents that no, the city was asking for too much.

Interesting side notes. I work with two Franklin residents. They’ve lived in Franklin and paid exorbitant property taxes for many years. They never received the public safety surveys.

In addition, they both were unaware of this referendum.  When I spoke to them prior to the vote here’s what they told me.

1) He was not surprised as his eyes rolled. Not happy about lack of transparency or being informed. Not happy about 18-year automatic tax increase.

2) She immediately said she was voting NO, and would do so to be consistent with past votes on referendum questions. Her view (God love her) is that a referendum usually calls for a tax/spending increase.

December: The referendum fallout

The Journal Sentinel reported that the Franklin Police Department would drop the D.A.R.E. program and remove a patrol officer to switch that person to detective.

The newspaper said Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva isn’t angry, just disappointed.

“Apparently, they (residents) didn’t want a full-service police department,” he said.


1) ?
2) Police referendum rejected
3) Reassessments outrage
4) Logsdon upsets incumbent Taylor
5) Police? No. A remodeled City Hall? YES
6) Like it or not Franklin, you’re getting another roundabout
7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin

My Most Popular Blogs (12/31/18)

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

1) Goodnight everyone, and have another terrific holiday weekend!


3) The Best Cartoons of the Week (12/29/18)





8) The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (12/29/18)

9) Best Photos of the Week (12/23/18)



This past summer had Franklin residents concerned that big-time reassessments would soon be heading their way. They were right to worry.

When reassessments came in the mail in 2017 people were ticked, commenting on social media like crazy about having done zippo on their land and properties, only to see values skyrocket. The increases were outrageous increases, one as high as $116,000.

The ugly scenario repeated itself in July of this year.

On a Franklin Facebook page Mayor Olson waged in on a rather intense discussion about the reassessments Franklin property owners received in the mail. From the page:

Re-assessment does not necissarily mean an increase in taxes.

Excuse me?

He actually wrote that?

Yes he did.

Technically the mayor was right.

But it’s still a LOL moment.

A colleague of mine who is a Franklin resident and has worked in banking and finances his entire career nearly spit out his teeth when I told him about our mayor’s comment.

Indeed. Who does he think he’s snowing?

Look, the odds are pretty tremendous that when a reassessment goes up, and the average increase in Franklin reportedly was just under 6%,  your taxes are going up.

Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. (ACCS) is an agency that provides private, confidential budget, credit counseling as well as a special debt management program.

They dedicated a very informative page on their website to reassessments. Some of the key highlights:

  • As many as 60 percent of properties across the country are over assessed, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
  • Homeowners can lower the assessed value of their home by filing an official appeal with the assessment office.
  • However, only 2 to 3 percent of homeowners actually attempt an appeal, and usually only 20 to 40 percent of those appeals are successful.

The powers that be will tell you the process is fair and accurate. I submit it’s a scam with the true motivation being to over-tax you, and I’m not alone.


1) ?
2) ?
3) Reassessments outrage
4) Logsdon upsets incumbent Taylor
5) Police? No. A remodeled City Hall? YES
6) Like it or not Franklin, you’re getting another roundabout
7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin

Winter Weather Advisory for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

From 6:00am CST, Mon Dec 31 until NOON CST, Mon Dec 31

Action Recommended: Execute a pre-planned activity identified in the instructions

Issued by: Milwaukee/Sullivan – WI, US, National Weather Service


WHAT…Freezing rain, changing over to all rain by late morning.

WHERE…Portions of south central and southeast Wisconsin.

WHEN…From 6 AM to NOON CST Monday.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Expect slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained by calling 5 1 1.

More Information

A Wintry Mix Moving In Monday…

Freezing rain will begin spreading into southern Wisconsin around sunrise on Monday, likely making travel hazardous across the area. As temperatures warm, the southeast will change over to all rain by late morning. The area of freezing rain will quickly lift north and change to snow as it reaches areas north of Madison. The area from Sheboygan southwest through Madison to Darlington could see a wintry mix for much of the day. Snow accumulations of 3 to 4 inches are possible from Sauk county, east to Fond du Lac. A period of freezing rain or drizzle is possible as the precipitation is winding down Monday night. This is a very complicated weather forecast with temperatures hovering very close to threshold levels, and also changing throughout the day. Those planning to travel, or are involved in clean up efforts should stay up to date on what will be a very dynamic forecast.

Culinary no-no #594

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.

The family went to IKEA for breakfast the other day.

Behind Kyla is the Swedish breakfast with scrambled eggs, potatoes, pancakes with lingonberries, chicken sausage.


Say what? Hey, Kev. You’re not even thinking about blasting IKEA, are you?

We’ll get back to IKEA in a bit.

When I’m at a restaurant I tend to be, not nosy, but observant.

For example…

Why is it when waitstaff walks by me with numerous plates I find myself saying, “I should have ordered that.”

And have you seen this?

Half-eaten plates are sent back to the kitchen with diners opting not to take the rest home in a doggie bag.

Makes one wonder.

This month I read a stunning stat on the website Stateline:

Nationally, just 2 percent of restaurants say they donate their unused food.

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of, while 14.3% is recycled, and only 1.4% is donated.

At the risk of sounding less than insightful, how come?

Don’t restaurants want to donate? They most assuredly do.

Sarah Bateman, Natural Resources Stewardship Committee Chair in Orem, Utah,  maintains there’s too much confusion about the donation process.

Now there’s a shocker. Rules and regulations created by bureaucrats are keeping people hungry.

“If produce is whole or uncut, you can easily and legally donate it to food banks and shelters,” Bateman said. “Once you cut into it or prepare it in any way, the rules change. Different countries, states, and counties might take slightly different approaches to food safety, preparation and waste.”

Then you have the threat of lawyers knocking  on your doors. Many restaurants fear potential liabilities they may face when donating food (Some restaurants do send unused food home with employees).

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 (BEGSA)  protects those donating from civil or criminal liability except in the case of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.” The law has been on the books for 22 years. Next time you’re in a restaurant ask the owner if he/she even knows about it.

Again, laws pertaining to donated food vary from Pennsylvania down to Dixie’s sunny shore. And who wants to spend the time and money to seek protection from the federal BEGSA? The answer is probably no one.

Complicating matters is the The National Restaurant Association that has guidelines for donating food. Complicated as in 50 pages. Let’s take a brief look.

Donating prepared foods

Because many charitable meal providers cannot afford professional kitchen staff or much more than the most basic ingredients, donating prepared dishes to food programs is one of the best ways restaurants and others in the hospitality industry can contribute to the fight against hunger.

Donating leftover prepared items not only keeps the dishes from going to waste, but these foods help add diversity to often staple-based menus. Restaurant donations allow the industry to have not only a quantitative but a qualitative impact on the meals served in such programs, which can make the difference between feeling full and feeling satisfied.

Dishes that can be quick-chilled and/or frozen and then easily readied for serving at the meal site, or that are prepared hot or cold and kept hot or cold for timely consumption, are appropriate for donation. The key to safe donation of prepared food is the proper man- agement of the food’s temperature, handling and storage times.

When donating prepared foods, restaurateurs should:

  • avoid dishes containing potentially hazardous foods that have been heated, chilled and reheated, such as chicken that has been given a second or third life in a stew
  • store dishes in shallow, one-use recyclable aluminum pans or clear-plastic food-grade bags
  • package donations in smaller containers, such as shallow pans, rather than larger ones so that recipients can maintain the food’s temperature and prepare only the amounts that will be consumed at one sitting
  • label and date all containers so that their contents can be identified and used or destroyed within a safe period of time
  • keep hot dishes to be consumed immediately at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • refrigerate and/or freeze cold items that will not be immediately consumed-this procedure should not be followed for hot food
  • never add warm leftovers to a container of chilled or frozen food
  • keep donated food products separate to avoid cross contamination
  • discard any food items that may have been handled by anyone except kitchen staff
  • know what time a hot dish was prepared, the temperature and how long it took to cool to assure that foods are not kept in the danger zone of 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours.

OK, can you really blame restaurants if they simply throw up their hands and scream “Fuhgeddaboudit!”

In a nutshell meals served warm must stay warm and cold foods such as produce must stay cold from the time they are prepared to the time they are served at the donation facility, including during transportation.

So restaurant food gets tossed. But it’s not just restaurants.

A 2012 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that Americans throw away almost half of their food, amounting to $165 billion wasted annually.

There’s more from the NRDC.

America throws out more than 400 pounds of food per person per year. And when that food is wasted, so are the resources that go into producing it, including 21 percent of freshwater used by the U.S. agricultural industry. Wasted food also generates climate change pollution equivalent to 37 million cars per year. If we could redirect just one-third of the food that we now toss to people in need, it would more than cover unmet food needs across the country. 

America needs more places like Rescuing Leftover Cuisine,  a national 501(c)3 non-profit food rescue organization, operating in 16 cities and headquartered in New York City, that provides solutions to prevent excess wholesome cuisine from being wasted.  After identifying the homeless shelters of a needy community, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine proactively finds restaurants, hotels, and catering companies with excess food in that vicinity that could help support these disadvantaged communities.

Stateline reports on the efforts of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and others and the challenges they face, including the fact that “businesses can currently write off the cost of food they throw away.”

And finally, IKEA.

The huge retailer is amazing for many reasons. Here’s one of them.

And so here’s a rare moment of Culinary no-no ending on a positive note.


Food fight breaks out over school lunch rules


Photos of the Week (12/30/18)

A pictorial week in review posted every Sunday:

1) President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive to greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

2) President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

3) President Donald Trump greets members of the U.S. military during a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, on December 27, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty

4) President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.  Another look. And another.  Photos: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

5) A press wrangler steps in as a reporter asks President Donald Trump a question about the government shutdown as the president and the first lady, Melania Trump, each spoke on the phone sharing updates to track Santa’s movements from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2018. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

6) A sign declares the National Archive is closed due to a partial federal government shutdown in Washington, U.S., December 22, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

7) Migrants from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, walk next to the border fence as they prepare to cross it illegally, in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

8) Migrants climb the border fence and jump inside the United States to San Diego, from Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 25, 2018. Photo: AP

9) Friends and family members carry the coffin with remains of Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old girl who handed herself in to U.S. border agents earlier this month and died after developing a high fever while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to her home village of San Antonio Secortez, in Raxruha, Guatemala. Photo: Reuters

10) Sargon Slio, 51, a farmer, walks in the damaged church of the Virgin Mary at the village of Tel Nasri, Syria. Photo: REUTERS/Rodi Said

11) Policemen check inside Ignatius Church ahead of Christmas celebration in Cimahi, West Java province, Indonesia, in this photo taken by Antara Foto.

12) A man dressed as Santa Claus gestures as the convoy of the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa arrives through an Israeli checkpoint to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 24, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

13) Bright-blue light is visible in the sky after a transformer explosion at an electrical power station in the New York City borough of Queens, photographed from Weehawken, New Jersey, on December 27, 2018. Photo:Melissa Coffey via Reuters

14) A large statue of Nipper, the dog featured in the painting His Master’s Voice and brand mascot of the HMV chain, stands near the Old Vinyl Factory on December 28, 2018, in London, England. The bankrupt HMV company has gone into administration for the second time in six years, putting more than 2,200 jobs at risk. All 125 stores will remain open while discussions about the future of the business continue.  Photo: Leon Neal / Getty

15) With One World Trade Center seen in the background, a little girl leaps across boulders forming a breakwater along Brooklyn Bridge Park on December 27, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photo: Wong Maye-E / AP

16) Iraqi youths dressed in Father Christmas suits walk through the streets of the old city of Mosul to distribute gifts to the children. Photo: AFP

17) People dressed as Father Frost and Snow Maiden take part in a march on Christmas Eve in center of Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Reuters

18) South Korean volunteers in Santa Claus outfits throw Santa hats during a ceremony before the delivery of Christmas gifts in Seoul. Photo: AFP

19) People walk past a “2019” new year decoration in front of the Maiden Tower in the Old city in central Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 22, 2018. Photo: AFP

20) President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone at the White House, sharing updates to track Santa’s movements from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2018. Photo: AP

21) In Qaraqosh, Iraq, an Iraqi Syriac Catholic priest leads Christmas morning mass at the Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah Syriac Catholic Church, which was damaged and defaced during its occupation by Isis fighters. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

22) A boy pulls the beard of a Russian emergency rescue worker dressed as Ded Moroz (Santa Claus, or Father Frost ) after scaling the wall at a children hospital in Moscow. Photo: AP

23) People in fancy dress take part in the annual White Christmas Dip at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

24) Santa Claus (Paulo Mourao) greets people at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Pilar Olivares / Reuters

25) Fifteen-year-old sea lion ‘Leo’ writes the Chinese characters for wild boar in preparation for the upcoming new year, at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AFP

26) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gestures after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo:

27) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reaches over a host of players for a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo:

28) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scores a two-point conversion as New York Jets outside linebacker Brandon Copeland chases him during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. . The packers won in overtime, 44-38. Photo:

29) UW star running back Jonathan Taylor runs through a gaping hole in the Miami defense during the third quarter on Thursday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Wisconsin won easily, 35-3. Photo: Rich Barnes. USA TODAY Sports

30) Fullback Alec Ingold holds up the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl trophy after the Badgers quelled the Hurricanes, 35-3, on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


2018 Photos: Part One

2018 Photos: Part Two

2018 Photos: Part Three

Pictures of 2018: Animals

Pictures of 2018: Sports

Pictures of 2018: Entertainment