THE TOP FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #1

It’s September of 2018.

Baseball was scheduled to begin in Franklin in May 2019 at Routine Field.

But there was no call to Play Ball after all.

Promotions for the Milkmen continued.

Just a few days before the official home opener I blogged:

I moved into Franklin in 1992 after I built the first of two homes here. Not one. Two.

Never during that time, more than 26 years, have I sensed the tremendous anticipation of the economic buzz and vitality that will take over our small city this Monday when the Milwaukee Milkmen will play their first home baseball game in the long-awaited Routine Field at Ballpark Commons.

In 2007, 12 years ago, I started blogging. My first piece was lengthy, outlining my optimism and analysis that Franklin had promising potential. Since that blog I was disappointed time after time. Nothing I had hoped for ever materialized with the rare exception of Kayla’s Playground. Even that star-studded project took an inordinate amount of time, facing thumb tacks in the road tossed by some city aldermen.

Don’t get me wrong. That was a free playground on a small tract of land that did need city funding. Disgracefully some stood in the way, fighting for ways to find fault. Ballpark Commons, by comparison, was much larger in size and scope. So it too, fell victim to the “can’t do” mentality pervasive in city government and amongst the 1950’s citizenship at large.

Like Kayla’s Playground, Ballpark Commons got done, albeit later than it should have. And now we, including me, who have been clamoring for even just one semblance of 21st century growth, will get our wish on Monday.

A crowd of happy people. Enjoying America’s pastime. At reasonable prices. That will bring families together. In a brand spanking new state-of-the art facility. You know how peanuts and hot dogs have a way of tasting ten times better at a ballgame? Just wait to see what you can eat at Routine Field.

Minor league baseball. Think promotions. There will be plenty, extra incentives to come and enjoy.

Prior to this Monday Franklin, for as long as I’ve lived here (over 26 years) has been a Nothingville. Why would anyone want to come here, stay here, spend money here, look for a job here. We’ve been a trail on the path to Oak Creek where life actually exists. On Monday Franklin lifts the calendar from mid 1950-s to TODAY.

This is a great story. A Franklin native who still lives here decided to give back to his community. At any of the hundreds of times he was rudely treated, insulted, even threatened. he could have said that’s enough, I’m going home. He stuck with it, assembled and I know some of them, a super-talented team, and hung in there.
—June 20, 2019

Then came June 24, 2019.Major league excitement in Franklin.

A crowd of 3,284 came out that night. The ballpark seats 4,000.

In August there was some great coverage from Ballparks.com.

In September Ballpark Commons won a prestigious award.

The Milwaukee Milkmen suffered a losing season in their inaugural campaign but have been working in the off-season to make improvements.

And on the second last day of 2019, more news.

Bottom line: Constant movement and growth at Ballpark Commons. A true Franklin milestone.

AND FINALLY…

Quite possibly the highlight of the Milkmen season.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) MILWAUKEE MILKMEN DEBUT
2) FOREST PARK MIDDLE SCHOOL OPENS
3) ECONOMIC GROWTH CONTINUES TO FLOUNDER
4) VELO VILLAGE AND MORE
5) RECYCLING CHANGES
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #2

In November of 2016 Franklin voters went to the polls to vote up or down on a school referendum. I wrote in July of that year:

The option to be considered by voters would build a new two -story middle school with a $43.3 million referendum representing an estimated annual tax impact of $73 for each $100,000 of a home’s value for each of the next 20 years. A new two-story middle school would be built on District-owned land adjacent to the current middle school. The referendum would be large enough to pay for the new building and provide space for future expansion. Green space and competition/ recreational fields would be provided. Supporters claim the referendum would significantly improve parking and traffic flow.

I blogged extensively about my opposition to the referendum. There were two main reasons. One, there was that tax increase for the next 20 years.

ALSO:

“Research has found little relationship between school funding levels and student performance.
Will Flanders, education research director at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty

Read more here.

NOT AT ALL CONVINCING:

From the Franklin School District’s website:

The cafeteria is too small to meet the needs of the current student population, resulting in students waiting extended times in serving lines during their lunch period.

The final vote tally:

YES: 7,804 (52.03%)
NO:  7,196 (47.97%)

Interesting note: one-fourth of the people who cast ballots did NOT vote one way or the other on the referendum question.

Didn’t know enough about it?

Didn’t care?

From one of my very, very sharp readers, sent about a week before the election:

“Kevin,  I didn’t realize that Franklin is in the middle of a referendum – it shows how low profile they are keeping it to focus the vote on yes.”

Good point.

Mysouthnow.com reported:

“The $43.3 million referendum represents a tax increase of 65 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.”

True.

But that’s on top of the already too-high school taxes, already too-high city taxes, Milwaukee County taxes,  MATC taxes, sewerage district taxes, and state tax for forestry purposes.

A soggy groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 29, 2017.

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The weather was much better for the official ribbon cutting on September 10, 2019.

 

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My family attended the ceremony and we were blown away.

I opposed the referendum, but the new school is a gem providing great opportunities, there’s no doubt about it.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) FOREST PARK MIDDLE SCHOOL OPENS
3) ECONOMIC GROWTH CONTINUES TO FLOUNDER
4) VELO VILLAGE AND MORE
5) RECYCLING CHANGES
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #3

Inside the corridors of Franklin City Hall, sadly, there’s a strong sense of denial about Franklin’s long history of abysmal economic development. Get outside the building and reality takes over. Just about everyone I know understands Franklin’s track record in this regard has been a colossal failure. Little changed in 2019.

The Milwaukee Business Journal, a publication widely read by businesspeople, developers, real estate professionals, elected officials, movers and shakers, etc. delivered a pair of black eyes to Franklin’s already severely tarnished image in October.

OUCH!

THE ARTICLE FRANKLIN WISHED HAD NEVER BEEN PUBLISHED!

NEXT, how about this clever Franklin scheme. Think Don Quixote. Hey look everybody. We’ve got this empty piece of land that nobody has wanted or built on for 15 years!

Also during 2019 Franklin Mayor Steve Olson continued his futile attempt to get the state Legislature to approve legislation to do away with the so-called “dark store loophole.” Olson posed for holy pictures with the likes of Tom Barrett in this wasted effort, blaming  places like Wal-Mart for his city’s local tax burden. Taking a page out of the liberal playbook, Olson bashed big businesses.

In May I blogged The powers that be in Franklin need to read this.

In July I posed this question: Has any progress been made in Franklin in the last five years?

This article demonstrated how Oak Creek is light years ahead of Franklin in economic growth, and should be required reading for everyone at Franklin City Hall. The key sentence:

(Dan) Bukiewicz, who succeeded radio personality Steve Scaffidi as Oak Creek mayor after Scaffidi’s resignation in March 2017, feels that the city’s willingness to embrace change is one of its many positive attributes.

With rare exceptions, I don’t see the same kind or scope of revitalization happening in Franklin.

But as noted, Franklin has the biggest set of blinders on, constantly denying their inability to achieve substantial measurable results. Officials here think everything is wonderful.

Let’s get real. Take Ballpark Commons out of the equation and Franklin hasn’t made any worthwhile progress in ages.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ECONOMIC GROWTH CONTINUES TO FLOUNDER
4) VELO VILLAGE AND MORE
5) RECYCLING CHANGES
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #4

Not often does Franklin get the opportunity to herald itself with a grand community announcement. One of those rare chances occurred in 2019.

Putting apartments next to a ballpark? Who in the world would ever do that? Turns out Franklin will, and I think it’ll be spectacular.

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In March the Mandel Group, one of the most successful developers in Wisconsin, was selected to work on Velo Village, 265 market rate apartments at Ballpark Commons, north of West Loomis Road and west of South 76th Street.

Velo Village will be next to the Oak Leaf Trail and near the Wheel and Sprocket bike store that opened this year.

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On Wednesday, October 23,  The Milwaukee Business Journal reported:

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.”

Then, the kind of big announcement that normally Franklin can’t seem to pull off. Franklin’s reach.

On November 25, Franklin Mayor Steve Olson attended and spoke at the groundbreaking for Velo Village and was joined by other officials.

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Mike Zimmerman

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1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) VELO VILLAGE AND MORE
5) RECYCLING CHANGES
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #5

Is recycling popular in Wisconsin?

That bastion of outstanding journalism, the Shepherd Express, without crediting sources reported that in Wisconsin, recycling supports 97,000 jobs and contributes to the $5.4 billion-dollar environmental industry, and 94% of households in the state support recycling and recycle regularly.

Then you have wisconsinenvironment.org that reports:

Recycling rates in major cities throughout Wisconsin reveal one of the more wasteful states in the nation. Based on the most recent available data, only Madison and Waukesha have managed to eclipse the national average of 34.7 percent (see table below).5Due to a lack of reporting in certain jurisdictions, the state’s overall recycling rate is unclear. However, given low rates in major cities, evidence from other states suggests that Wisconsin’s statewide rate is even lower than the national average.

I’m guessing that here in Franklin recycling is immensely popular. Popular in that it doesn’t bring giddy joy and enthusiasm, but that the practice is one that’s embraced, with residents willing to comply for what they perceive to be a greater good.

And yet recycling is increasingly being frowned upon, not by the folks that drag their carts to the end of their driveways, but by the elected officials in charge. Why? The cost.

The NY Times reports more cities have decided to get rid of recycling, again, because of the cost.

Is recycling a waste?

In August I blogged the following:

Johns Disposal in action.

Founded in 1969 Johns Disposal services cities, towns and villages in Dane, Milwaukee, Jefferson, Kenosha, Racine, Rock, Walworth, and Waukesha counties. And that includes Franklin.

China has decided to ban all recycling imports, and that change is being felt here in Wisconsin.

“Our processing costs are not nearly what they need to be to cover costs,” said Dan Jongetjes, general manager of Johns Disposal. “Some of our communities, like Racine, have been willing to amend (their contracts) to help us, which we’re very grateful for, but that’s a fine line to walk.”

Read more from the Racine Journal Times here.
—Thus Just In…, August 8, 2019

Then in November 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.

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.)

Recycling will be collected WEEKLY.

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.

Read about the changes here.

Again, Recycling Pickup: Beginning Monday, December 30, 2019, recycling will be picked up weekly instead of bi-weekly, coinciding with your garbage collection day. There will no longer be “A” or “B” weeks for recycling.

Franklin has decided to recycle more often, bucking the national trend. How so?

Is this the end of recycling?

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) RECYCLING CHANGES
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #6

Franklin’s image of having great difficulty attracting businesses is well known. Compounding the problem are the occasions when the city can’t retain businesses.

SEPT 4, 2019

No photo description available.

Franklin meat processor Strauss Brands, with 250 jobs, moving to Century City Business Park

The Journal Sentinel reported that in May of this year Strauss announced it would have a new facility near West Ryan and West Loomis roads in Franklin.

Then in August it was reported Strauss would  spend $58 million to develop a 175,000-square-foot plant near that intersection.

Those plans changed quickly.

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One could understand the decision of Strauss Brands. The company has outgrown their Franklin facility. Milwaukee will sell 20 acres to Strauss for a paltry sum of $1. Milwaukee will also kick in $4.5 million in financing. A new federal program initiated by the Trump administration called Opportunity Zones offers tax breaks for investments in low-income neighborhoods like the one that includes Century City. The Franklin site is not in an Opportunity Zone.

There’s more to this story.

On August 8, about three weeks before the news broke about Strauss expanding in Milwaukee, the private equity firm Insight Equity announced the acquisition of Strauss Brands, a leading producer of ethically raised specialty meats including American grass-fed and organic beef, as well as humanely raised veal and lamb.

“Due to the growth of our grass-fed and organic beef offerings, in addition to our core veal and lamb business, we have simply outgrown our current production facility,” said Randy Strauss, chief executive officer and grandson of company founder Milton Strauss.

The following is critical.

Strauss continued, “The investment by Insight Equity will provide the capital we need to develop a new state-of-the-art processing facility in Franklin, Wisconsin, which has been our home for over 50 years. We are grateful to the leaders of the City of Franklin for their support of this transformative project. Our location provides us with access to a stable base of exceptional employees and is ideally located to provide reliable delivery solutions to our customers via our in-house long-haul perishable trucking division.”

So what happened between early August and early September causing Strauss to pull the rug out from under Franklin and dramatically change course?

Strauss Brands chief financial officer Jerry Bussen told the Milwaukee Business Journal that unlike the city of Milwaukee, Franklin had offered no financial incentives.

“At the end of the day, ‘free’ is hard to compete with,” said Franklin Mayor Steve Olson.

There’s more.

“Labor force is a factor,” Bussen said. “Many of our plant employees commute from the (central city) area now (to Franklin). For us it came down to availability of workforce and speed to building. It’s important with our growing business that we get the building erected soon.”

“Since 1937, we have proudly operated both in and around Milwaukee,” said Strauss, and “with the support of Mayor Barrett and Milwaukee economic development officials, we are excited to announce our return to the city of Milwaukee, home of our operational roots.”

As for Franklin, Mayor Olson said Strauss Brands filed for a site plan and special-use permit.

“We’re moving forward,” Olson told the Business Journal. “I know we have a deal. We have a signed agreement with Strauss. We’re going to honor our side of this agreement. We expect that they’ll honor it on theirs.”

Sure didn’t sound like it. Note Strauss’ Bussen said they need to move quickly and I’m guessing they didn’t want to deal with Franklin’s notoriously lengthy economic development process.

Olson said the city was studying possible options to pursue. It was reported at the time Strauss could continue running the Franklin plant after the Milwaukee plant opens.

Bottom line: Strauss made a business decision. Milwaukee offered a much better deal.

OCTOBER 8, 2019

The Milwaukee Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted unanimously to approve a plan to relocate Strauss from Franklin to Milwaukee’s north side.

Under the plan Strauss would develop a $60 million facility at Century City Business Park. The move would bring 250 jobs to Century City with the potential of that number doubling. Groundbreaking was set to take place in November with a plant opening in the summer of 2021.

The committee also voted to support selling the 20-acre development site, including a possible additional 5 acres, for $1.

The stage was now set for the full Milwaukee Common Council to consider and vote on the plan on October 15.

“I expected it to be overwhelmingly approved,” said downtown Milwaukee alderman Robert Bauman. “At this point there is no doubt about this passing. There will be no further hearings. I will say a little prayer every time I pass the site as an act of contrition for all the killing that will be occurring.” He also stated that what Strauss preferred to call a “meat harvesting plant” was in essence a “slaughterhouse,” a term that stuck with the news media and Milwaukee residents.

FOLLOWING THE COMMITTEE VOTE…

The Strauss saga took another turn.

The proposal had been supported by the alderman for the area, Khalif Rainey, who called it “an achievement for the City” and “for the Opportunity Zones program that has encouraged companies to think of areas like this one in new ways.”

But quickly a group called “Slaughter-Free Milwaukee” flooded Common Council members with form letters in opposition.

“Slaughterhouses create many detrimental consequences and immediate impacts on neighborhoods, particularly disadvantaged ones,” the group said in a statement. “Pollution and stench arise, vulnerable workers are exposed to brutality which can lead to post traumatic stress disorder, violence increases in the surrounding areas and impacts property values.”

The group did not substantiate the claims. Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux  countered that “The company leads the industry in humane treatment of animals…They do not source their products from feedlots. They are free range. They are grass fed. Their veal is cage free.”

As for bad smells, Marcoux said “I’ve been to the Franklin facility, there is no smell in the air… That’s with the equipment that was older than what will be installed here. This will be state-of-the-art.”

OCTOBER 15, 2019

The Milwaukee Common Council delayed a vote on whether to allow Strauss Brands of Franklin to build a slaughterhouse at Century City. The council instead sent the issue back to committee so aldermen can gather more public input.

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The audience was packed with people opposed to the development. About 30 opponents gathered outside the council chambers before the meeting even began. Some carried signs that read “Stop the Slaughter” and “Slaughterhouses Harm Communities.”

Wanda Terry who lives near the site of the proposed meat processing plant said she was shocked when she heard that a plant was coming to her neighborhood. Terry said she worked at a tannery on the East Side.

“I was totally sick. You can’t eat. Your stomach is shaking. It’s nasty, it’s dirty, it’s germy, it’s everything. I don’t know where they are going to put the blood. Have you ever seen a blood pond? Go to Mississippi and check out Tyson. It’s terrible,” Terry said.

LOCAL ALDERMAN FLIP-FLOPS

Once a supporter, Khalif Rainey bowed to public pressure.

“When the administration initially brought the Strauss meat processing plant proposal forward, I considered the prospect of bringing 250 jobs to Century City, with more to follow,” Rainey said. “However, in the 72-hour period since the Common Council considered the proposal I have received an overwhelming response from neighbors in opposition to the project,” and he was longer in favor of the plan.

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.”

OCTOBER 21, 2019

“It was our hope that Strauss Brands’ move to Milwaukee’s Century City neighborhood would have created jobs, provided an economic boost, and inspired other businesses to follow suit. We honor and respect the opinions of the community and don’t want to make our home in a place where our presence would not be seen as a benefit. We are no longer pursuing relocation to Century City,” Strauss President and CEO Randy Strauss said in a statement.

Ossie Kendrix, the president of Milwaukee’s African American Chamber of Commerce said “I’m disappointed. When I think about 125 city residents that find a way to travel to Franklin for work, every day, I can only imagine how much better life would be for them and more city residents that wouldn’t have to travel as far.”

STRAUSS BRANDS’ ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD

In November the Milwaukee Business Journal reported:

The company’s environmental record is nearly spotless.

The Milwaukee Business Journal checked with local, state and federal agencies that regulate air emissions and water quality and only one minor infraction registered in recent years for Strauss Brands’ plant in south suburban Franklin.

When asked about Strauss Brands’ environmental record in Franklin, (mayor) Olson said that in his years of involvement with Franklin economic development since 1990, he has not seen any problems.

“I’ve never heard of any ‘environmental’ issue with Strauss’s operations, which is why they’re a valued business here in the city,” Olson said.

Milwaukee Alderman Cavalier Johnson actually visited Strauss during the uproar, but  only stood on the street outside the facility.The company was unaware of his visit.

He reportedly smelled no foul order, saw no rodents running around, and didn’t even see cattle brought into the plant, just trucks moving in and out.

WHAT ABOUT FRANKLIN?

Mayor Olson still wants to see Strauss Brands resume plans to expand in Franklin.

“I’m hopeful that the Strauss decision will be made in the near future,” Olson said in mid-November, and even met with Strauss officials after the city of Milwaukee efforts fell apart. He hasn’t commented on those talks and 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, and has said it hopes 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.

What about Franklin? As 2019 comes to a close that’s an unanswered question.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) THE STRAUSS BRANDS SAGA
7) FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #8

This next story is noteworthy because it symbolizes what Franklin does best. Spend money.

The headline on My South Now:

Franklin and Greenfield are funding another study to explore shared fire department services

The key word there is “another.”

Let’s examine the news report from the website with excerpts in bold,

Franklin and Greenfield are funding a study focusing on where the two fire departments might be able to share services, such as personnel training or vehicle maintenance.

It’s the second time in seven years the two participated in such a study, and more communities may still participate.

That’s right. This has been studied before. But the Franklin Common Council just can’t help themselves. Dangle an opportunity in front of them to spend taxpayer dollars and they pounce.

I’ve been a close observer of politics for more than 40 years. Two of the most frustrating actions elected officials can and often do make are 1) Let’s form a committee, and 2) Let’s conduct a study. Either one is a clear indication they  have no idea whatsoever what they’re doing or what they should do or what they are going to do.

During the week of Feb. 18, the Franklin and Greenfield common councils authorized the two communities to each spend $5,000 to hire the Wisconsin Policy Forum to conduct the study, which will examine ways the two departments could potentially share services.

Only $5,000. But how does that old saying go? It’s the principle of the thing.

A 2012 study, also by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, explored service-sharing opportunities between fire departments in Franklin, Greenfield, Greendale, Hales Corners and Oak Creek. It provided three models with varying levels of shared services between the fire departments, although none of them decided to pursue any major changes, according to Greenfield Fire Chief Jon Cohn.

Ponder that. The same group did the same survey years ago and offered not one but three solutions. Nothing was done. Now we’re asking them to reinvent the wheel.

When the study will be completed has not been determined, Cohn said.

Wonderful.

(Franklin Mayor Steve) Olson said this new study was a good idea that doesn’t commit the city to anything.

In other words, the money would be spent, the study would be done, and ultimately nothing could change. That’s wise and prudent, how?

If you’re scratching your head you’re not alone. I’ll bet lots of folks are wondering if Franklin, we’ve  been told, can’t handle the current emergencies with what we’ve got, then how can we deal with assisting other municipalities?

Common sense is a rarity at Franklin City Hall. But here’s an example.

Franklin Alderman John Nelson expressed some concern that Franklin residents could be put at risk if Franklin’s service area is expanded into Greenfield.

“I pay taxes to have what we have,” he said.

BINGO!

Look for this study to be deposited into a drawer, collecting dust, just like the one in 2012.

I close with this. Explain to me how this potential government program will save taxpayers money. There aren’t that many that do.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE, SO LET’S FUND ANOTHER STUDY
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #9

The city of Franklin has a major economic development problem. Not exactly a news bulletin. Their approach to economic growth is much like…

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Mr. Magoo’s ancient automobile that just sputters and sputters along.

A Franklin brainstorm to remedy the situation in 2019? A new logo.

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Clever devils. Certainly that’ll turn things around.

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.

“The new logo and tagline give Franklin an identity that is true and unapologetic. What we have created is powerful because it is simple,” said Franklin Mayor Steve Olson.

Also from the release:

The logo design consists of three colorful upward-flowing banners that form the letter “F” and suggest movement. The banners represent “spirit, initiative and vitality,” which are attributes that will continue to move the city forward.

As officials slapped themselves on the backs the reaction I heard from folks was sheer laughter.

After receiving her utility bill a regular reader of mine noticed the new Franklin logo on the envelope. With sarcasm she asked if the branding has been responsible for any business expansion in our city.

That’s a fair question. 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

December 2019, See Page 5

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

Last month I blogged:

No One Cares About Your Logo

Is this the best Franklin can do? Sadly it appears that way.

Finally, if the logo is so “powerful” why isn’t it on the city’s water tower?

I’m told it was decided that it would cost too much to re-paint.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) ?
9) FRANKLIN’S NEW LOGO
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019: #10

TODAY WE BEGIN A DAILY SPECIAL SERIES COUNTING DOWN THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019.

Ever since I started blogging in 2007 my approach to addressing Franklin topics has been one of edgy analysis. There are plenty of folks in Franklin who view the city with rose-colored glasses. I do not share their utopian outlook. Franklin has its share of warts and needs much improvement, especially in the areas of economic development and retail.

However, there are bright spots, though few and far between. So when Franklin gets rare positive attention, it stands out.

One of Franklin’s top businesses ran into slumping sales and declining market share years ago. Then the company rebounded.

Here are the details.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2019

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) ?
9) ?
10) THE CARMEX COMEBACK