Previously on This Just In…

The update:

The Greendale Village Board this past Tuesday voted unanimously to oppose the Ballpark Commons proposal in Franklin.

The measure is purely symbolic and meaningless since Greendale has no authority regarding the project.

The Greendale Patch reports:

According to a release issued by the Greendale Village Board Thursday, the $100 million mixed-use development proposed near Greendale’s border with Franklin near the 76th Street area will generate additional traffic, noise pollution, light pollution and reduce air and water quality in the area.

In addition, the Village Board says that the developer’s plans to re-route Crystal Ridge Road to align it with Highview Drive across 76th Street – while creating a four-way intersection with a traffic light – will decrease the quality of life for Greendale residents living in the area.

Developer Mike Zimmerman told the Milwaukee Business Journal:

“Frankly I find the resolution and press release in bad form given that we conceded numerous remedies to Greendale officials to resolve their concerns regarding their objections this past falls during our negotiations with Milwaukee County of the land sale. We have successfully dealt with objections in the past and will continue to do so moving forward.”

As I blogged last fall as well as in the #1 Franklin story of 2017, the following was reported by the Milwaukee Business Journal:

A new addition to the deal since June relates to noise and light coming from The Rock. Those additions set upper limits on the amount of noise that can travel outside of The Rock’s boundaries at different times of day. Franklin can levy fines for violations under the agreement.

To block light pollution, The Rock’s ballfields would get 78 new visors on their lights. Speakers and lights must be shifted to point away from surrounding neighborhoods.

Franklin Mayor Steve Olson also spoke with the Business Journal:

“We appreciate Greendale’s concerns. They are no different than ours, or the developer’s, for that matter. We continue to move forward and make sure it’s a great project.”


The much-talked about, highly scrutinized, and yes, controversial Ballpark Commons proposal in Franklin got final approval in 2017,  but not before confronting and clearing some hurdles.

In Franklin, where major projects are too few and far between thanks to political dysfunction and hyper regulation, Ballpark Commons will be the biggest, most significant economic development in the city’s history.

Back in May of 2017 I blogged the following:

A Milwaukee County Board committee voted to sell land it owns in Franklin to developer Mike Zimmerman. The land would be part of Zimmerman’s proposed Ballpark Commons development.

The story was reported by Sean Ryan of the Milwaukee Business Journal. His article is only available online to subscribers. Here are some of the key details:

  • Milwaukee County would sell about 140 acres of land at South 76th Street and
    West Loomis Road to a group led by  Zimmerman.
  • The land includes the Rock Sports Complex.
  • Zimmerman built The Rock on county land.
  • The area to be sold also would be used for a minor-league baseball stadium, golf driving range, indoor sports training center and supporting restaurants and stores.
  • The  development would also include about 300 apartments and a 100-room hotel south of Rawson Avenue.
  • The landfill at the site is a concern, Zimmerman concedes.
  • Ryan reports Zimmerman’s group would assume from the County the responsibility for maintaining the landfill gas system on the property, costing about $167,000 a year.
  • The current landfill gas system would be replaced in 2018.
  • The county and developers would both put money into a trust fund to pay for the gas system’s maintenance and eventual replacement in 2038.
  • The developers would commit about $127,000 a year to that fund, and the county $20,000.
  • The full Milwaukee County Board must vote on the sale later this month.
  • If the sale is approved, and environmental studies come back positive, construction could start in late summer.
  • The first baseball games in the stadium could take place in late May 2018.

—This Just In, May 18, 2017

One day later I blogged:

In another article (available online only to subscribers) Ryan opens his article about the landfill in Franklin with this:

The land deal for the Ballpark Commons development in Franklin is unusual. Rarely will a developer spend so much time negotiating to buy a landfill. But that’s what would happen in the 140-acre deal negotiated between Milwaukee County
officials and Mike Zimmerman’s ROC Ventures.

As reported, Zimmerman buys the land and converts it into Ballpark Commons, a minor league baseball stadium, golf driving range, indoor sports training center, and supporting restaurants and stores.

You either love that idea, a major economic development in the economic development desert that is Franklin, or you live in the Flintstones era and want nothing in our city that is more modern than a rickshaw.

Ryan also reports:

Zimmerman said his negotiations with Milwaukee County started 18 months ago, and they originally discussed extending their existing deal for The Rock, which is similar to a lease for the land. Under that deal, the county is responsible for running the landfill gas system on the property. But it wasn’t doable, and the county instead floated the idea of a sale.

“I, in the early stages, thought it was a crazy idea,” Zimmerman said.

Over the past several months they forged a new idea for Zimmerman to take ownership of the land. Instead of paying cash for it, his group would basically accept the cost and responsibility of the landfill.

—This Just In, May 19, 2017

Now it was the fall of 2017, and a critical vote was coming.

On September 28, 2017

The naysayers refused to remain silent, resulting in some absolutely shoddy journalism by a local suburban news outlet.

As 2017 came to an end, there were more developments (note the negative headline).

So Ballpark Commons will continue to be an exciting news story in 2018.




In December Franklin was ranked as the 7th safest city in all of Wisconsin.

That may have come as quite a surprise to the increasing number of Franklin crime victims in 2017.

In June the city police department issued a crime alert:

In the past few days, the Franklin Police Department has taken several complaints throughout the city regarding thefts from vehicles – both locked and unlocked. Items such as computers, cameras, clothing, wallets, purses, and credit cards have been taken. The stolen credits cards were fraudulently used in the Milwaukee area. On one occasion, an unlocked vehicle (with a set of keys left in it) was stolen from a resident’s driveway.

Image may contain: text
Another alert was sent out in August:


There has been an increase in entries to vehicles, garages and houses in the city, as well as in other communities surrounding the City of Milwaukee. Theft of vehicles have increased considerably in the past month. The wide majority of these entries and thefts were through unlocked doors. Please remember to always keep your doors locked, valuables (including keys) out of plain sight, and park in well lit areas. We recommend you bring in your garage door opener if you park outside. Officers have been and will continue to place “Lock It or Lose It” notices on vehicles observed parked overnight. The police department has increased patrols in the affected parts of the city.

While the police department will do everything we can to stop these crimes, we need your assistance. By locking your doors you minimize the chances of you becoming a victim. We ask that if you see any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity, report it to the Franklin PD at 414-425-2522. Let’s all watch out for one another!

It’s bad enough criminals were striking in Franklin. Some were doing with the help of careless residents. Did you catch this in that first alert:

On one occasion, an unlocked vehicle (with a set of keys left in it) was stolen from a resident’s driveway.

Franklin was freaking. Well, not everyone as I wrote in July.

Ironically in April, before Franklin’s crime wave erupted, GOP lawmakers were proposing bills to combat crime moving into the suburbs.

As 2017 came to a close the Franklin Police Department participated in the Suburban Violent Crimes Task Force.  Get more details in this report from Fox 6 News.

We can and we must make Franklin a safer place in 2018.


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Franklin taxes went up again this year.

That’s not exactly a news bulletin. However there were some noteworthy developments regarding taxes in 2017 leaving beleaguered Franklin taxpayers angry and frustrated …again.

Normally the Franklin School Board members play the role of tax gougers when it’s budget time. Surprisingly the school property tax levy went up 1.1% and that’s because   this is the first year of repayment of debt on the new middle school project approved by voters in a referendum.

City of Franklin taxes went up 2.5%. Mayor Steve Olson had presented a budget to the Common Council calling for a 3% property tax levy increase.

Olson attempted to defend the tax increase pointing out city taxes had remained the same for the past five years. Thus this year’s proposed 3% increase, if applied to those past five years would amount to a measly .6% increase each year.

In other words, the lowly taxpayer should be appreciative, keep quiet, and sit back and take it (as Franklin taxpayers collectively and historically have done for years and years).

The mayor in his budget proposal claimed there was no fiscally prudent or viable way to freeze city taxes for a sixth year. Maybe so.

But here’s the real kicker that should not and probably won’t be forgotten by even the most apathetic of Franklin property taxpayers.

The mayor’s proposed budget increase comes on the heels of many, many taxpayers getting blasted with massive increases in their property reassessments who feel the increases were unjustified. They can’t be blamed if they sense they were set up.

I find it ironic that when Olson’s predecessor proposed property tax increases, then-Alderman Olson objected.

A 3% increase may not sound like much, but it’s way beyond the inflation rate that is almost zero.

Consider wages that remain stagnant and it becomes increasingly more difficult for taxpayers to pay, a concept that continues to be lost on the part of those with taxing power in Franklin.

The argument that city taxes haven’t gone up  for some time is little if any consolation, not to mention flawed logic. Even without a city increase for five years our city taxes were still frozen during that time frame at an ungodly amount. Would anyone ever consider a tax cut? That only happens under Donald Trump in DC, not in Tax Hell, WI.

About those reassessments. They came in July when the average taxpayer isn’t paying attention. From my blog:

Reassessments just came in the mail, and people are ticked.

Can’t blame them. They’re commenting on social media like crazy about having done zippo on their land and properties, only to see values skyrocket.

Problem: The good citizens will grumble on chat sites, and that will be the end of it. They won’t complain or seek action anywhere else.

Get ready for the bureacrat-ese and excuses.

My favorite of course: It’s the state’s fault.

A  small group of folks on one of the chat sites think these outrageous increases (one as high as $116,000) are hunky dory, that it’s only fair that values are back up to what they were before the housing crisis hit.

Sad to say but in Franklin there’s a a sizeable faction that sits back and takes it. Still others don’t even realize when they’re being screwed.

Again, there’s a feeling that assessments should go up if market values are increasing. That’s the way it should work, right?

Well here’s a lengthy but very interesting piece of investigative journalism demonstrating that despite the housing woes years ago, assessments went up in Wisconsin even though values went down.

You see, they will find a way to fleece you no matter what.

Of course you can always appeal. Yeh, right. And you’re going to win the next Powerball, too.

Incidentally, for the small group of property owners who have taken the Kool-Aid and believe the higher values will automatically result in similar prices if/when they decide to sell, guess again. It’s not guaranteed. Here’s a ReMax flyer we received in the mail today:

ReMax Flyer

Some got what they wanted, but not all.

Seller: Don’t pop the champagne corks based on your love note from Franklin City Hall.
This Just In…July 15, 2017

This is no reason to scalp or gouge people, but it’s happening nonetheless.

Your home value just went through the roof and you want to sell. Terrific, right? Guess again.

Maybe there’s some comfort in the fact we’re not Maryland. Are you ready for this? Paragraph 6 is eye-opening.



During the tax reform debate in November I blogged about this item that enables local and state officials to tax you crazy.

Following passage of tax reform this month there was confusion nationwide about the deduction for state and local taxes. Under the new tax law there’s a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes. However, the IRS announced this week that filers could only avoid the cap by paying property taxes that have been assessed in 2017. Many local governments, including Franklin, have not completed assessments for upcoming years.

It’s unfortunate that in this fiscally conservative he have people with taxing and spending authority that essentially are not at all fiscally conservative. They have blinders on, either in disbelief that our taxes are obscene, or, if they’re aware,  they simply don’t care.

The topper is Mayor Olson, admittedly of the school of thought that the tax levy is what counts, not the tax rate, but continuing to push a PR campaign emphasizing the tax rate, and misleading the citizenry in the process.

At this rate relief is nowhere in sight.


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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 FranklinNOW.com 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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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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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.


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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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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