Franklin residents, important info in next City Newsletter on Garbage and Recycling

On Tuesday the Franklin Common Council unanimously approved details on a new contract for 2020 with Johns Disposal Services to provide weekly recycling and automated garbage services. Those details are coming soon in the next City Newsletter so it’s important you read about them.

Both recycling AND trash will be collected with automated trucks.  ONLY carts will be collected (no more plastic bags, stuff on the side, thin cans, etc.)

Carts will be delivered beginning the week of January 2.

Recycling will be collected WEEKLY.

The current trash fee is $106.95.  With the change in service that fee will become approximately $134.00.

Residents will be able to choose the size of carts/cans they want.

Franklin is one of a handful of communities Johns serves with manual garbage pickup. Johns envisions manual pickup going away completely next year.

Yard waste will have to be placed in paper bags, not plastic. And there will be FOUR pickups.

Mayor Steve Olson commented he’d prefer that carts not be visible from the street but  wasn’t sure how, lacking an ordinance that would/could be enforced.

Again, please consult the next City Newsletter, either the one mailed to your home or on the city’s website.

Franklin to lay out a bill of goods on economic development

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The 2018-19 Annual Report of Economic Development in the city of Franklin will be presented at tonight’s meeting of the Franklin Common Council.  The report (begins on page 16) is lengthy, containing a laundry list of activities the city engaged in during a year’s time dating back to 2018. It’s also a work of comedy.

It’s no secret Franklin has developed a well-earned reputation of having a horrendous business climate and record of economic development progress. Most folks in the know outside of Franklin City Hall generally agree on that.  But inside City Hall there’s a tremendous sense of denial, that times aren’t difficult, that Franklin is thriving and booming. That’s simply not true.

In its report the city lists all kinds of stats and factors that I submit have very little, if anything to do with economic growth and development. For example the Economic Development Department (EDD) got 18,628 emails. There  were 580 Total Likes on the EDD Facebook  Page, 68 New Likes on the page, and 65 posts on the page. At the risk of sounding less than analytical, so what? How does that translate into actual identifiable economic success?

When compiling the report it’s almost as if city officials searched high and low for anything and everything they could tack to make their case hoping to persuade (fool?) people into believing Franklin has finally discovered the magic formula to transform a sleepy town into a real cool happenin’ place.

Some observations:

1) The report states “Interest in the City of Franklin continues to grow, with development inquiries and proposals coming from developers, construction firms, realtors, and financial institutions.”  What does that specifically mean? What kind of inquiries? E-mails? Phone calls? How many? What did they eventually result in?

2) The report lists 15 new businesses in Franklin. While we always welcome new businesses a critical question is whether or not Franklin is attracting and opening businesses that city residents both want and need.

3) “The EDD interacted with other individuals and organizations throughout the year in order to position Franklin as a collaborative partner and to ensure that Franklin is included in  opportunities to advance economic development goals for the City.” Again, specifics would be nice as opposed to glittering generalities.

4) We also are informed the city went to meetings and conferences. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff.

5) “The EDD was approached many times throughout the year by various members of the press.The most notable was a WTMJ interview on City Development Opportunities which aired on the Morning News Program in April, 2019.” This news article didn’t fall within the time period of the report so Franklin was able to conveniently ignore.

6) There’s a long list of attractions labeled TOURISM ASSETS IN THE CITY OF FRANKLIN. Several are listed from Boerner Botanical Gardens. That’s odd. Franklin taking credit for events in Hales Corners.

7) Mayor Steve Olson relishes ripping big retailers like Wal-Mart and target, yet found reason to list them as some of Franklin’s largest employers.

8) Speaking of employers, how many new jobs were added in Franklin from June 2018- June 2019? That would have been a great nugget. Unless…

9) The mayor in the past blasted senior apartments being built at Ballpark Commons. Still, they get a positive mention in this report.

I envision tonight’s Council meeting to be one big mutual admiration society. When this report is rolled out city reps will be all grins while patting themselves on the back, congratulating one another for all the fine work they’ve done. I think most Franklin residents get the true picture.

If you read the report as I did, and I encourage you to do so, ask yourself what was actually accomplished? What concrete results really came out of the past year? Results. What are they? Where are they?

The reality is that economic development in Franklin would be an even sadder state of affairs if not for the much-needed progress at Ballpark Commons.

MORE progress in Franklin, and naturally it’s at…

Ballpark Commons.

The Milwaukee Business Journal reports:

Contractors started moving dirt on Monday for 265 apartments that will rise south of Ballpark Commons in Franklin and offer several amenities for the avid bicyclist.

The first building will be a clubhouse near the Oak Leaf Trail with a bike repair shop for people riding by, said Ian Martin, vice president, development, for Mandel Group Inc., the Milwaukee-based project developer. The clubhouse will have outdoor patios and fire pits for bicycling events.

The project is named “Velo Village” after the French word for bicycle. The apartments will be south of Rawson Avenue, across from the new baseball stadium at Ballpark Commons. Velo Village’s clubhouse is to open in late 2020, and the first apartments will open to residents in early 2021.

“Construction started on Monday, so we’re not wasting any time,” Martin said. “The Oak Leaf Trail is important for obvious reasons, but I like the connectivity to all the recreational stuff happening on the north side of Rawson.”


What about the rest of Franklin?


Could Strauss Brands be staying in Franklin after all?

Maybe. Not probably. But maybe, especially since the fumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ Milwaukee Common Council, despite the wishes of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has turned their backs on the company and their plans to leave Franklin and expand in Milwaukee’s inner city, desperate for job creation, except in this instance.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? When it was announced Franklin had come up short once again on an important economic development situation the city of Milwaukee was, apparently, more than happy to accept Franklin’s loss and welcome with open arms Strauss Bands packing up, dumping Franklin after numerous good years, and heading off to Milwaukee’s north side to relocate at Century City. . For Franklin, what a kick to the knees. Franklin not attractive enough, to lose out to there?

Other than me, the media rarely pays attention to what’s going on in Franklin. Not so in the city of Milwaukee, run by Tom Barrett.

Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the district where Century City is located and where Strauss would moved to initially loved the idea because of the economic benefits that would come. But in very short order activist groups organized, protesting they anted no slaughterhouse in their area. For all of Strauss’ time in Franklin, that issue never surfaced.

In a couple of days, like a very weak politician, Rainey folded like a card table and changed his mind. He wanted no part of Strauss in his district. The expansion plans were dead. The reaction was swift, and brutal.

Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce Tim Sheehy said, “There’s  no way to spin this other than that this is a serious blow to the prospects of marketing Century City as a location for capital investment and job growth, That was a roughly 2-year courtship (to attract the company to Milwaukee) to meet the self-expressed needs of Strauss to find a new location. I mean, Alderman Rainey made a decision without ever visiting the company. And so, there were all sorts of accusations made about the company, how it processes meats and the conditions of employment and yet nobody (on the Common Council) even bothered to even go visit the company.”

MMAC senior vice president Steve Baas took to twitter to express his disappointment in the failed project.

“The MKE Common Council running Strauss Brands out of town is an undeniable black eye for Milwaukee,” Baas tweeted. “Sends a horrible message to any business looking to locate in the city in general and Century City in particular.”

What about Franklin? In baseball terms, when it comes to economic development Franklin is barely a .150 hitter. Franklin’s mayor Steve Olson reportedly met with Strauss officials this week, but won’t comment on the talks. And he shouldn’t. These are complex discussions that should not be negotiated in all of places the press.

Franklin has had a longtime positive relationship with Strauss. But let’s be real. Strauss has demonstrated willingness to drop Franklin, but now says it hope to reconcile with Century City after saying it no longer wants to go there.

Here’s what’s killing Franklin. through no fault of its own, Franklin is NOT an Opportunity Zone. What’s an Opportunity Zone? Good question. That’s where President Trump comes in. Opportunity Zones were his idea.

Opportunity Zones are low income census tracts nominated by governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury into which investors can now put capital to work financing new projects and enterprises in exchange for certain federal capital gains tax advantages. The country now has over 8,700 Opportunity Zones in every state and territory.

Franklin has no Opportunity Zones. The city of Milwaukee did, and right where Strauss wanted to move in. While that didn’t work out another zone could, and Franklin would have about as much firepower as Pee Wee Herman in the ring against Mike Tyson.

When Franklin appeared to have lost Strauss it was swinging at a strike three. Weeks later we learn it was a foul ball. Redemption? I say no. Given Franklin’s penchant at messing up far more than it succeeds and the economic incentives available elsewhere, I see Strauss continuing its plans to leave, just a matter of where, though I hope I’m wrong.


The impact of Franklin’s new logo

City of Franklin Wisconsin

A regular reader of mine received her utility bill in the mail and noticed the relatively new Franklin logo on the envelope. With sarcasm she asked if the branding has been responsible for any business expansion in our city.

Don’t laugh. That’s a fair question. Here’s why. On April 24, 2019, Franklin issued a news release that read, in part:

The City of Franklin has selected a logo as the new brand identity to be used on the city’s website and communications. The tagline “Celebrating Quality of Life” has also been selected to accompany the logo in certain applications. The city is initiating the new branding to help enhance its communications and emphasize the positive attributes of Franklin.

“The new branding will help us communicate more effectively, build a sense of pride, and also attract new residents, visitors and businesses. “Celebrating Quality of Life” expresses our community’s key attributes that we want to retain as our city grows,” said Calli Berg, City of Franklin Economic Development Director.

So yes, the reader asks a fair question. Might be too early to judge. Personally, I think branding is not a critical factor in garnering future business. But the city claimed the logo would do just that.

Specifically quantifying business growth based on a logo is difficult. We do, however, have the city’s regular practice of touting new businesses in their newsletter placed online and sent to citizens.

Since the logo announcement:

June 2019, See Page 4

August 2019, See Page 4

October 2019, See Page 7

Finally, we welcome businesses, but take note of the kind of businesses coming here. Are they really what Franklin wants, needs?

Franklin one of the worst to do business with

This isn’t exactly breaking news.

With the exception of Franklin officials who are in denial and excel at excuse-making we’ve known about this for a long, long time.

The Milwaukee Business Journal surveyed more than 30 members of the local real estate industry from almost as many different companies about the best and worst local communities in southeastern Wisconsin to work with on project approvals.

“The municipalities most frequently cited as difficult to work with were Milwaukee, Franklin and Mequon.”

There’s a real shocker. Oak Creek is top notch.

Also from the article:

Franklin Mayor Olson said city officials recognize past difficulties, and in the past five or more years have made changes to address them. He said over the past 10 years, Franklin officials have been working to reshape the city zoning code after recognizing it was “a bit onerous,” Olson said. 

Efforts are underway to streamline the plan review process, Olson said. For example, department heads are gathered in a meeting early in a project review to share any possible concerns up front, he said. The city of Oak Creek follows the same practice.

“We’ve intentionally hired people who have a customer service perspective,” Olson said, adding that there’s been a nearly full changeover in the inspection staff over the past two-and-a-half years. 

As I said: Denial.

And how about some action that actually leads to results?

You can read the Business Journal article here. Registration is required.

UPDATE: In Franklin, is it a barn, a museum, or something else?

Previously on This Just In…

The update:

From Franklin Mayor Steve Olson’s Facebook page on September 28, 2019:

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The mayor wrote:

Proud to attend the opening of the Franklin Historical Society Barn. A true new asset for the community.

Read again.

Proud to attend the opening of the Franklin Historical Society Barn. A true new asset for the community.

Didn’t appear to be standing room only for that lollapalooza. My goodness. Was Franklin  Economic Development Director Calli Berg off that week?  Way to go, Mayor. Nothing like publicly putting Franklin back to, when, the 19th Century?

Oh, the celebration for this incredible “new asset for the community” isn’t over.

From the Franklin Historical Society’s Facebook page:

Barn Museum Update October of 2019

The barn museum building is done! A special dedication ceremony will be on Saturday October 19th from 1 to 3 P.M. There remains much work to do including painting the museum barn red, and beginning to display the many artifacts of Franklin’s farming family’s life along with the tools and equipment they used. This work will be on going for several years.

Good Lord Franklin, can you possibly control yourselves?

City-data. com asked its readers on social media What amenities are most important to you for a city to have? What are your must haves.”

Some of the answers:

Good urban parks
Access to nature
clean air
Near a body of water
World-class shopping, or at least some sort of mall
Good restaurants
Good traffic
Warm weather, short winters
Diverse population
Young people

Good Public Transit
On a river, bay, lake, or ocean
All four seasons
Good places to eat
Shopping District

Public Transport
Dedicated Bike Paths
Access to Nature
Varied Cuisine
Warm Weather
A real core, preferably with a pedestrian mall

Eating options (varied venues like cafes vs. Restaurants vs. Deli, etc and also different nationalities)
Parks/access to nature/greenery (includes things like tree-lined sidewalks)
Great shopping, lots of nonchain stores and all price ranges…..should not have to travel out of city limits for almost any item!
Good public schools (less little thugs hanging about, good for middle/working class)
Cultural things like museums and fairs and festivals
Clubs, bars aplenty and open late!
Affordable rents

Hmm. That’s odd.

Not seeing if there’s any desperate need for a BARN MUSEUM.

Look. Understood, barns have a a history in Franklin. But so do they in the entire state dating back to 1848 when the state became a state.

When most cities, towns, villages get elated about the opening of a new library, fire department, bridge, shopping center, art sculpture, etc, here in Franklin a new BARN MUSEUM gets people all excited.

How in the hell does a celebration over a BARN help Franklin move forward in the 21st Century or even give the impression we’ve got any vision here at all?

We are a backwards community.

UPDATE: Milwaukee County municipalities hellbent on a 200% sales tax increase

Previously on This Just In…

The update:

At Tuesday’s Franklin Common Council meeting Mayor Steve Olson said that he had reservations about the sales tax increase proposal being sought by Milwaukee’s mayor, county executive, and every municipal leader in Milwaukee County.

Olson told the Common Council that at a meeting last week of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) he suggested the payout to municipalities of any sales tax increase be based, not on population as is now stated in drafted legislation for the state Legislature to consider, but on disposable income in each municipality.

Good idea. But it was received at the ICC meeting from the other suburban leaders like someone in the church pew in front passing gas.

Supporters want the referendum, if one should ever be approved by the state that is necessary,  be in April of 2020, to then take advantage of the sales tax revenue brought in from Democrat National Convention-goers coming to Milwaukee. Olson suggested it go on the ballot later, in November of 2020, when more people go the polls in a presidential election. Cue the princess from “Frozen.” Nice try by Olson, but it was a hard smash to shortstop thrown out easily at first.

Despite Olson’s issues with the effort to get a referendum on the ballot Olson still said he’s in favor of a referendum going to voters. Not a surprise from our mayor, but still another check mark in the “Olson Disappointment” column.

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting Olson said he needed and wanted feedback and direction. Led by the most vociferous opponent, Franklin Alderman Steve Taylor, council members expressed they want no part of this march to pursue a referendum.

I think the Franklin council members know that every single municipal leader in the county is going to support lobbying the state Legislature to have a referendum on a ballot to approve a 200% sales tax referendum, including Mayor Olson. The council definitely has more common sense than the mayor on this one.

So, given the mayor wanted feedback, the council expressed:

They do not support a sales tax increase. We have not heard publicly that explicit language from our mayor who is more than welcome to comment here to clarify.

If there is a referendum it be in November of 2020, not April.

That there be a sunset on any sales tax increase.

The cash grab to pay for the city of Milwaukee’s lead pipe problems be eliminated from any additional sales tax revenue. Good luck with that one.

Abele and Barrett are playing suburban leaders. Sadly, they’re falling for it for several reasons, including $$$ with no guarantee where that money will go or how it will be used.

State legislative leaders need to talk to reporters ASAP and shoot this idea down, once and for all.

Milwaukee County municipalities hellbent on a 200% sales tax increase

Let’s be clear. That cockamamie idea to increase the sales tax in Milwaukee County by 1 percentage point via referendum is going nowhere. Nowhere. Republicans that control the state Legislature that would have to approved the proposal will have none of it.

So why is there an agenda item on tomorrow’s Franklin Common Council meeting about the plan? And why are all 19 municipalities in Milwaukee in support?

Read the above title of this blog again.

The dollar signs have them drooling.

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) met last week but did not vote on an endorsement of a binding referendum to increase the Milwaukee County sales tax from .5 to 1.5%. Another council meeting is set for Sept. 23 at St. Francis City Hall to consider an endorsement.

“It may get unanimous support,” Franklin Mayor Steve Olson told the Milwaukee Business Journal.

It should be noted that the council’s chairman, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy reportedly said a sales tax increase was one of a number of ideas the council unanimously approved in February.


The full state Legislature must act on and approves putting a referendum to Milwaukee County voters, possibly by April 2020.

What happens to the money

The bill requires that 25 percent of the revenue from the additional be used to provide residential property tax relief. Honestly? Truly? If you believe that….

Seven percent will go to fund infrastructure projects. I repeat. Honestly? There’s no guarantee how the money will be spent.

What about the other 68 percent? The county would use half for its operational and capital expenses. The other half would be distributed to the municipalities based on population.

Who gets what?

The total increased revenue would be $55 million. Under a table presented by the city of Franklin it’s estimated the city of Milwaukee would receive $34.5 million resulting in $12.5 million in property tax relief.

Franklin would receive the 5th highest total at $2 million resulting in $747, 387 in property tax relief.


Under this proposal $10 million  would go to lead abatement in the city of Milwaukee. Back in April the Milwaukee County district attorney confirmed that there is an ongoing local and state criminal investigation into the Milwaukee Health Department over their handling of the city’s lead crisis. Why should county taxpayers bail the city out?

The goal

The Journal Sentinel reports “the effort is aimed at averting a fiscal crisis.” Love that. And who’s responsible for the county’s “fiscal crisis?” Not the un-elected taxpayers.

Do the math

Going from .5% to 1.5% is a 200% hike.

Who gets hurt?

The sales tax is a regressive tax. A regressive tax may at first appear to be a fair way of taxing because everyone, regardless of income level, pays the same dollar amount. However, such a tax causes lower-income people to pay a larger share of their income than wealthier people pay.

Let the voters decide

Clever. That makes it look like the elected folks are not responsible. Be wary of anyone in office who says pubicly the voters deserve a say. Translation: Deep down inside they want a tax increase.

Do you want to contact your state legislators about this issue?

You can find your legislators and their contact information by entering your address here. Ask them to oppose this 200% tax increase that has the eyes of the tax and spenders as big as saucers.