Franklin Common Council clueless on business

When the six members of the Franklin Common Council pulled into the parking lot of City Hall Tuesday night for their regularly scheduled meeting, their minds were made up on a Milky Way Drive-In Theater item on the agenda.  Franklin’s miserable business climate, the future of a popular business attraction led by a loyal hometown corporate citizen be damned.

Their hearts and hip pockets were reserved for a small minority of loud, rude, arrogant, demanding NIMBYs that spoke only for themselves and not for the city as a whole that the Common Council is supposed to represent.

At issue was changing the way ROC Ventures operated the drive-in theater in the parking lot at Ballpark Commons. The noise and at times offensive language from the movies had neighbors up in arms, claiming their lives were being destroyed but no one would listen.

What’s that old saying? The squeaky wheel gets the grease? This was no longer a squeaky wheel. The drama had now escalated to whining, screaming, attacking, threatening (criminal charges and recalls?).  So much so that a weak Franklin Common Council found itself at their own personal breaking point.  We give up. Uncle. Another Franklin business bites it.

Here’s the local news report
, which is OK. But this news source strays from the hard-hitting stuff. It would never publish what I submit. The Franklin Common Council Tuesday night didn’t give a damn about a local business or the local businessman that runs it.

There are two reasons why.

1) They don’t care.

2) They lack any understanding of business and how important it is to our community. They will arrogantly dismiss my assertion. Trust me. I’ve lived here since 1992. When it comes to the local economy, businesses,  and economic development, Franklin flunks big time, and the people in charge have themselves to blame, even though their egos are in the highest level of denial.

Mike Zimmerman who runs Roc Ventures and the Milky Way Theater tried his best with calm reserve to explain to the Common Council his business operation. You’d think it was nuclear physics.

Confining the audio of movies at the drive-in theater to just AM-FM Radio in cars and not allowing set-up speakers which is what the six economic geniuses on the Council approved did not fit Mike Zimmerman’s “business model.” You’d have thought Zimmerman was speaking in Swahili.

Zimmerman nicely, calmly, slowly, respectfully tried to inform the council that his business model of the Milky Way was not just a theater. It was designed for revenue-streaming corporate events that yes, in 2020, required, guess what? A PA SYSTEM!

To continue the drive-in, a concept that has caught on like wildfire all across America, Zimmerman has invested $750,000 in essentially rented equipment and must make good on that investment. What he wants to do comes with a cost he said.

Zimmerman told the council the Milky Way is NOT a traditional drive-in. Why? Because traditional drive-ins are no longer in operation because that business model is OLD.

More Swahili.

The council either wasn’t listening, didn’t understand, didn’t care, or all of the above.

At some point Zimmerman offered a brilliant suggestion. If that’s a bit too much for some readers, then it was definitely dripping in common sense.

Are you ready?

This isn’t rocket science.

What did Zimmerman suggest that was totally dismissed by the Fortune 500 wizards on our council?

“Try to work on a solution where everybody’s happy.”

In other words, by all means do not dismiss the concerns of the residents. But let’s arrive at the BEST alternative.

Simple. Easy. Again, common sense.

Our omnipotent council would have none of it.

Zimmerman said don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Do not shut this opportunity out (the drive-in). Radio audio only restricts his business

The council was close-minded.

I’ve lived here since 1992 and have followed local politics ever since. It’s ironic that Franklin historically drags its feet whenever a remotely important issue arises. And yet Alderwoman Wilhelm badgered Zimmerman the other night on not addressing this issue in a timely matter. She’s been waiting all summer she whined for a solution from ROC Ventures. Good grief.

And newly-elected Alderwoman Shari Hanneman also complained to Zimmerman that she expected him to have all kinds of specifics ready for Tuesday’s meeting and, by the way, what exactly did he mean that the problem was being worked on with progress being made?

Franklin wants answers right now? Where I live the neighbors are just learning the Twist. If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. These council people telling Zimmerman how best to run his business. What a joke.

Finally, this point from Zimmerman at the meeting. And it’s a beauty.

“The council should think bigger and more strategically.”

Let that sink in a bit.

The council should think bigger and more strategically.”

Mike, nice try, but what you asked for is basically…


13 thoughts on “Franklin Common Council clueless on business

  1. Good grief let the man have his business. People whine all the time. Get a life, these are hard times find something else to complain about or realize that all your
    Complaining only means you are unhappy in your life and you want to project that onto other people. The council needs to grow some stones.


  2. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (09/07/20) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  3. This is Franklin. Everyone here enjoys the peace and quiet. Why is it so difficult to have empathy for your neighbors who don’t want to be annoyed by unnecessary sound every single night?

    Oak Creek and Brookfield both denied special permits to Marcus when they asked to broadcast movies via loudspeakers for their outdoor drive-ins. Why? Because those cities know that the noise would have been an issue and probably doesn’t make much of a difference in revenue.

    Franklin has said yes to just anout everything ROC since 2017. The one time they say no everyone throws a fit and acts like ROC has
    somehow been wronged.


    • Yes, this is Franklin. That’s why far too many people here forget that it’s not 1955 anymore and we are not a farm town. We need to start respecting our businesses that are essential to a thriving city. The business in question asked to try to work with everyone on a solution that would benefit all. The close-minded city refused outright.


      • If ROC wanted a to find a solution for everyone then they should have shown willingness to do so from day 1 of the BPC approval.

        Instead they fought to amend all of the noise ordinances, ridiculed those who complained, and tried absolutely nothing to satisfy their initial goals of noise mitigation for the complex. Let’s not forget that the City supported them the whole way.

        They have no reason to cry foul when the common council finally stops them from kicking another can down the road.

        Respect the neighbors by actually trying and then the neighbors will respect you. They can fix the noise issues today and then be done with it forever.


      • Congratulations! You don’t understand the skills to run a successful business. And so you share that deficiency with our mayor and aldermen. Please, if you have the answers that can be administered in a mere week or two, by all means, run for office. The current crowd can’t decide what to do unless it takes numerous public hearings and meetings.


  4. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs – The month of September 2020 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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