Nice Milky Way photo, but there’s a lot more to it

In today’s print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there are photos taken in the suburbs in 2020.  Here’s one of them:

Audriana Coleman, 8, watches “Abominable” on the top of a car at the Milky Way Drive-In in Franklin. The drive-in opened for the season on Memorial Day weekend with some guidelines for social distancing. Photo: ZHIHAN HUANG / MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Little Audriana and many others enjoyed the drive-in atmosphere of the Milky Way.

And then along came Franklin’s Alderman NO.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #1

This year’s top story was chosen for several reasons:

It garnered a lot of attention.

It was controversial.

When the issue was debated at City Hall it was standing room only.

Franklin’s miserable business climate was on full display.

Some aldermen demonstrated how clueless they truly are when it comes to leadership and city growth.

Good City's Dan Katt, Ald. Cavalier Johnson tried to save Strauss project -  Milwaukee Business Journal

After Strauss Brands that is headquartered in Franklin failed in its effort last year to move operations to the city of Milwaukee the company announced in February of 2020 it would remain in Franklin. CEO Randy Strauss  issued a printed statement:

“After careful consideration, Strauss Brands has decided to stay in Franklin, our home for more than 50 years. We appreciate the ongoing support and patience of Mayor (Steve) Olson, his team and the city of Franklin.”

Statement from Franklin Mayor Steve Olson:

I often have been asked “what’s going on with Strauss?” The real question that’s unasked is “staying or going?” We’ve been working with Strauss management for perhaps five years on their need to consolidate and/or expand. Almost two years ago they purchased 30 acres from Bear Development in our new Loomis Road business park and announced plans to build a consolidated plant/office there. Then Milwaukee offered large financial incentives and access to a ready workforce. Politics are what they are and support changed causing Strauss to withdraw their plan to move to Milwaukee. Offers from communities across the country poured in to the Strauss offices all while we continued to present our advantages. Strauss executives have been working diligently on business and building plans and have finally come to a point where they can publicly announce what they’ve been telling city leadership for a long time now. They’re staying here, they’re building here. The city changed some terms to make the commitment by the company more closely match their business plan. We expect applications for approvals very soon. We’re proud that Strauss is staying home.

The plan was to expand in the Loomis Business Park near Ryan and West Loomis roads with Bear Development of Kenosha leading the project. For several months the story was off the radar. And then it exploded.

The backstory began with President Trump

When Strauss Brands announced in 2019 it wanted to expand and not in Franklin but in the city of Milwaukee it made perfect business sense.

At the time Strauss wanted to take advantage of an Opportunity Zone (OZ).

Opportunity Zones are economically-distressed communities, designated by states and territories and certified by the U.S. Treasury Department, in which certain types of investments may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. The tax incentive is designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by providing these tax benefits to investors. Effective June 14, 2018, Treasury certified Opportunity Zones of all states, territories and the District of Columbia. Opportunity Zone designations certified by Treasury will remain in effect until December 31, 2028. The program was created by the Trump administration while Scott Walker was governor (his office drew up the zones based on Census tracts), and is administered in Wisconsin by the WI Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).

Milwaukee has Opportunity Zones. Franklin does not.

The stage was set for a Strauss move north. Strauss intended to move into a Milwaukee OZ, an area thirsting for jobs.

The company might have done it, had it not been for a loud, vocal group of terribly misinformed residents who used phony scare tactics, claiming Strauss would wreak havoc and unleash every peril known to man on the city of Milwaukee.

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Some city officials caved. Strauss said forget it. We’re done here.

Suddenly, inconceivably, Franklin miraculously had a chance to retain Strauss and expand. The economic benefits to Franklin are off the charts.

But again, a loud, vocal group of terribly misinformed residents began to use phony scare tactics, claiming Strauss will wreak havoc and unleash every peril known to man on the city of Franklin. These opponents planned to pack a Franklin Planning Commission hearing in early October. I wrote, “It’s possible that the Franklin Common Council, not known for its business acumen, will be intimidated and crumble into the fetal position on this entire matter.”

I was expecting the typical “sky is falling” warnings from the anti-Strauss crowd.

Just about every speaker will use the term “slaughterhouse.”

Traffic will be snarled.

Cattle will get loose.


Manure will be everywhere.

The stench will be overpowering.

The environment will suffer.

Jobs won’t pay crap.

Workers will get injured.

PTSD cases will increase.


Eating meat is dangerous.

Eating meat is inhumane.


Children will die.

Noise.

Pollution.

Violent crime.

I was waiting for someone to quote Paul McCartney: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

Meanwhile comments came pouring in from Strauss workers in support of the Franklin expansion.

It was no surprise that hyper enviro Franklin Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm was poised to reject the $74 million expansion of Strauss Brands and the numerous jobs that would be created.

During the lengthy public hearing on the proposal at a Planning Commission meeting one of the speakers was Marcelino Rivera who started a petition online against Strauss and also organized a protest outside Franklin Mayor Steve Olson’s house that was diverted when police blocked off the street.

After his three-minute time limit expired Rivera refused to leave and had to be escorted away by a police officer. When Rivera went out into the crowded hallway he immediately began talking with Wilhelm who started giving him advice and counsel. Lots of people saw them conversing.

It’s clear what Wilhelm told Rivera to do. Later in the hearing Rivera went up to the microphone a second time, attempting to testify. But he was reminded by Mayor Olson the rules were that a speaker got only one opportunity. For a second time Rivera refused to leave. For a second time he had to be escorted out by one of Franklin’s finest.

My vote predictions

On October 20 the Franklin Common Council will meet to vote on the proposed expansion of Strauss Brands. Expect opponents to launch a series of amendments  to, if not kill the project, over-regulate and seriously  hamper the facility’s operation.

Let’s handicap how the council members might vote on this important project that’s not a slam dunk. Franklin, rightfully so, has a well-known reputation of being hostile to businesses.  Here’s how I see the voting going.

Alderman Mark Dandrea: The calm, thoughtful, well-reasoned Dandrea will vote YES. I’d call his vote a solid YES.

Alderman Dan Mayer: One of the two worst aldermen in Franklin. Mayer has done nothing to advance the city. Think about this. Mayer was a major obstructionist on two of Franklin’s historically most significant developments: Ballpark Commons and Kayla’s Playground. All Mayer needs to fight an idea is to have a few residents bitch and he’s done. A definite NO.

Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm:  Worst council member in Franklin? Flip a coin between her and Mayer. She’s a wacko when it comes to the environment and despises any growth efforts by Mayor Steve Olson. An emphatic NO.

Alderwoman Shari Hanneman: YES.

Alderman Mike Barber: Not a solid YES, but in the end, YES.

Alderman John Nelson: The project is in his district. The fact he’s not shouting from the rooftops how critically important this expansion would be for the city is telling. Nelson seems to always want to please everybody which is impossible in the world of politics. The loud opponents, despite phony claims, will ultimately get to Nelson who will vote NO.

If my calculations are correct, that would mean 3 votes YES, 3 votes NO. Under the rules Mayor Olson would then break the tie and he will definitely in that scenario vote YES.

The (first) Common Council vote

Franklin took another major step at solidifying its well-deserved reputation of being hostile to business when it voted 4-2 against an expanded facility for Strauss Brands, a company that has been in Franklin for nearly 50 years.

As expected, aldermen Kristen Wilhelm, Dan Mayer, and John Nelson voted NO. But a surprise NO vote came from Shari Hanneman who stunningly opted to reject the proposal after rattling off the economic benefits the city would reap from a Strauss expansion.

Before the vote was taken Hanneman boasted of her economic education credentials and told the audience her expertise allowed her to perform her own economic impact study. Hanneman found:

The local economy gets an additional $1.3 million just by Strauss being here.

A Strauss expansion would increase the annual benefit to $2.4 million.

Construction would generate #60 million.

The project would create more than 700 jobs.

The project would generate $4 million in impact fees.

Strauss would pay $300,000 in taxes, far more than it paid in 2019.

So Hanneman’s a supporter, right? Wrong.

Prior to voting NO Hanneman said Strauss and the city could have done a better job of outreach on the proposal, including the creation of an FAQ website page, for example.

And once again, the city of Franklin delivered a loud and clear disappointing message to potential businesses: Go away. We don’t want you.

Aldermen Mark Dandrea and Mike Barber voted YES.

Franklin businesspeople were quick to express their dismay.

Most people were unaware of a critical repercussion of the NO vote: a tax increase.

I broke the story that the Common Council would reconsider its NO vote at their November 2nd meeting. Strauss sent a letter to the Mayor and Common Council offering more details on their proposal.

When the council reconsidered the outcome was different as the expansion was approved.


Franklin Community Advocates, Inc., a non-profit made up of Franklin residents, filed a lawsuit Dec. 1 against the city of Franklin over the approval. The Woodlake Village Homeowners Association and nine individual residents are also listed as plaintiffs, according to online court documents.

Court documents filed in the suit list five points of contention with Strauss’s application and the subsequent reconsideration and approval by the common council. Those points include a lack of substantial evidence, interference with adjacent developments, that it’s contrary to applicable zoning, it’s inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and it violates due process with a risk of bias.“The conduct of City officials including the Mayor strongly and vociferously indicated a strong pre-determined bias by the Mayor and others in favor of the Strauss project and the (special use permit/conditional use permit),” the document said.

FCA also alleges required federal and state permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District have not been applied for by Strauss.

Franklin’s City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski said the city is represented by its insurer, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities mutual insurance company.

I believe the lawsuit filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court is without merit and will not be successful.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) STRAUSS LOSES, THEN WINS
2) FRANKLIN SCHOOL DISTRICT PUNISHES FOOTBALL
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #2

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Fans of Franklin High School football have been mighty spoiled for a long, long time. I’ve lived here since 1992 and as an avid follower of high school athletics I recall the Sabers consistently, annually fielding a talented squad.

The 2020 season was supposed to be beyond special. Franklin had another high octane offense fueled by a star quarterback. And the defense was rock solid. The Sabers were ranked as high as #2 in the state, behind only the state defending champions from neighboring Muskego who had knocked Franklin out of the state playoffs in 2019.

So much promise, so much optimism, only to be snuffed out, and not by an opponent on the field. Watch the video in this report from WMTV in Madison and especially pay attention to the comments of a senior player from Edgewood High School. I’m sure the Franklin players felt the same way.

So, to repeat, the WIAA opted to put teams into regional pods of eight within their division to reduce travel. Then there would be two weeks of postseason play, regional championships to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The timeline for the end of Franklin football this season

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020: The Franklin High School Football team drills crosstown rival Oak Creek, 35-3 to end their regular season undefeated.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Very early in the day the WIAA announces Franklin will play in a special 4-team tournament beginning November 13 with a game vs. Menomonee Falls. There are no state playoffs this year. The other two teams in the bracket are defending state champions Muskego and Hartland Arrowhead.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Franklin Public School District Administrator Dr. Judy Mueller sent a notice to Franklin High School families that read in part:

We have been monitoring our metrics that relate to the spread of COVID-19. At this point, the number of positive staff and student COVID-19 cases at Franklin High School has reached the 3% level of high concern, and we are moving forward with virtual learning for the next two weeks. 

IN-PERSON STUDENTS

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020:  I broke the news that the WIAA announced on its website that Franklin is forfeiting its November 13th game vs. Menomonee Falls, ending Franklin’s season.

After this news broke the Franklin school district announced the high school was going virtual for 14 calendar days starting Monday, November 9, and that all athletics were suspended. So a reader wanted to know:

Does this still happen with the shut down? Per their post no athletics. Just curious and truly don’t know.

I responded.

I posted the WIAA info before Franklin school district made its announcement which reads, in part:

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

My guess: Franklin can’t and won’t be playing on the 13th. They forfeit to Menomonee Falls who would advance in the tournament.

And that turned out to be the case. Outrage across Franklin ensued.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Over the weekend questions were raised as to who was involved in the decision to cancel athletics. Franklin Mayor Steve Olson wrote on social media, “To be accurate, our Heath Officer has been off today but did consult with the (school) district in their decision.”  Olson maintained this was a school district matter and decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: I sent the following inquiry: Larry Gamble, you are president of the Franklin School Board. I respectfully ask: Do you have a comment about the school district’s abrupt decision to make FHS go virtual for two weeks, but more specifically suspending athletics for 14 calendar days, essentially ending the football team’s undefeated season and depriving them of the opportunity to play in one, possibly two tournament games?

Gamble finally sent a response many hours later.

Kevin, thanks for contacting me. By now many people have seen the TMJ4 interview and Franklin parents got the letter from the Administration. I understand the heartbreak of these players however our district developed the metrics to keep our students safely in the classroom before we returned to school. We listened to our families and came up with an effective plan. Up to now, it was working but timing can be fickle, and now is when the metrics triggered a short term converting to virtual learning. I stand with the Administrators who worked diligently to have our schools open and developed a plan to keep our students and staff safe. It’s not an easy decision, but it is the safe decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Jason Kazmierczak wrote the following to the Franklin School Board:

The decision by the the Franklin Public School administrators to end the High School Football Season and potentially rob several other state qualifying athletes (Swim & Dive) is shameful and not backed by any scientific basis. Our Franklin Sabers, the #2 Ranked team in the state in Division 1, has, at this point, had to forfeit their game this Friday after amassing an undefeated season and doing all that was asked of them. If you have been around Franklin you know that the team has participated in the WIAA Playoffs every year for the last 19 years, making 3 Championship appearances, winning a State Title in 2006. You are robbing this capable group of hard working athletes of there opportunity to be part of this legacy. These athletes have worked much of their lives preparing for this run at a state title. If they are to be eliminated, let it be on the field to another quality team and not because a bunch of bureaucrats made them forfeit. Let the athletes move ahead on their efforts not bureaucratic apathy! This team has earned this opportunity and should be given the choice to compete!

Jason Kazmierczak

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Lance Allan did a report on this issue on WTMJ-TV’s 6:00 PM news. In the report Franklin football player Jarrick Miller said, “See I don’t want to take that opportunity away from them, but it is a little frustrating to know that swim and the school play get to continue when we’ve also done our part, and we don’t get that same opportunity.”

Franklin Athletic Director Jordan Hein explained why football is shut down and girl’s swimming is allowed to continue to state.

“The WIAA designates football as a high-risk sport, it’s a contact sport, it’s got a large roster. You cannot effectively play football, and maintain social distancing. Swim is designated as a low-risk sport. It’s a non-contact sport. You’re in a chlorinated pool. It’s difficult, I know it’s hard because we want equity. But I also believe that it’s my role to advocate and do my best to present and provide opportunities for all of our students and this is my next play.”

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Franklin’s Board of Health holds a meeting and hears from angry parents. Some accuse Mayor Olson of not caring about the students and is more concerned about his weight. Olson says he was slammed with some of the most vile comments he’s ever heard during his time in office. He says the school district made the right call.

TUESDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 10, 2020: Dr. Mueller sends another notice to Franklin families:

At 4:30pm this afternoon, I was informed by the Franklin Health Department that they have issued
 a Health Order to cease all extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School to prevent further COVID-19 transmission. This comes following our recent decision to temporarily close Franklin High School for in-person learning as was shared with FHS families on Saturday.

As the Health Order states:

  • Extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School are to cease effective November 9, 2020. 
  • This order will remain in effect for the duration of the virtual learning period at Franklin High School or until a superseding order is issued.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2020: The Franklin School District flip-flops.

2020-11-11 FPS Statement for Media


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2020:
Franklin forfeited to Menomonee Falls, 1-0. I blogged, “Decision to cancel Franklin football is far-reaching.” Reactions to my blog:

Dave Sopolinski This is a great point. I follow college recruiting primarily in the south (Lifelong Miami Hurricanes fan) and yes this can be the difference from a D1 offer to a MAC school vs D3 unfortunately.

PK HartjeKevin Fisher- exactly. The ramifications could be huge. This was brought up to all. No comments provided by those who should have the best interests for our children. Being a parent that has been a part of recruiting processes, what this could mean for some of the boys is that the potential missed highlight could make the difference between a coach at the next level to pick up a player. For example if a player was being recruited by a D2 school and a D1 was on the fence, it could pull the D1 to present an offer. This is why when the mayor stated that the 2 games don’t matter, many parents became very upset. We also know that childhood suicide is in the rise since the start of social isolation, this was also addressed in the mental health conversations however again, no comment about mental health.

Catherine Doll Myers (her son is Levon Myers). I can’t imagine how this might have changed the life of my son if this had happened when he was playing Sabers football (Class of 2012, Full D1 Scholarship, NFL contract.) I feel so badly for all of the families affected by this virus and these decisions.

Former Franklin Alderman and Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor also weighed in on social media:

Judy Mueller, superintendent, made a unilateral decision and the school board sat on their hands and did nothing. Every elected was silent and didn’t fight for these athletes. They didn’t call for a special meeting. They didn’t say this was unacceptable. They didn’t hold a press conference or put out press release. All they did was cover each others asses. Based on my conversations with numerous parents who supported me in the past I can tell you that a revolt is coming. In Franklin, sports trumps everything and it doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat. Those who didn’t back these kids will pay a price. That you can take to the bank.

Here are some pictures from the Journal Sentinel taken at the WIAA girls swim tournament at Waukesha South that show Brookfield East celebrating. This is the kind of experience the Franklin football team was denied:

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The bottom line in this sad story: Franklin High School’s talented, unbeaten football team’s road to a tournament was derailed, ruined by their very own school district.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) FRANKLIN SCHOOL DISTRICT PUNISHES FOOTBALL
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE



THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #3

June 24, 2019.

After numerous meetings, public hearings, debates, discussions, and on-the-record votes, it was clear that at the home opener of the inaugural season of the Milwaukee Milkmen in Franklin’s Routine Field, project organizers had one component they couldn’t control: the weather.

Field 2

Fans began arriving as early as 4:00.

But then shortly after 5:00…

Clouds

The skies opened, and how, for awhile.

There was hope, however.

Rainbow

There was a noticeable buzz and excitement inside the ballpark, despite cloudy skies, rain showers, gusty winds and cool temperatures.

Four hours and seven minutes after the first pitch the Milkmen lost to the Gary South Shore Rail Cats, 3-2 in 11 innings. That mattered little to enthusiastic fans. Franklin had witnessed what for so long seemed so impossible: minor league baseball in a brand new beautiful facility.  What a memorable day,  even with the pesky dark clouds.

A very loyal fan base had to endure a season of struggles as the Milkmen could only muster a 38-62 record.

Things just had to be better in 2020, right?

A rough start

In April the Board of Directors of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball announced they were postponing the start of the 2020 regular season, which was scheduled for May 19.               .                

“The American Association looks forward to the day when we can safely re-open our stadiums to our fans and provide entertainment and social interaction,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “However, we will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July.”

The league then decided in June to begin a six team, 60-game season with fans in attendance on Friday, July 3. The season would operate out of three hubs, with games hosted by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Milwaukee Milkmen and Sioux Falls Canaries. Each team would play 42 of their 60 games in their hub to limit travel. The schedule would (and did) allow any of the three road clubs to return home for games if local governmental restrictions allowed for games with fans in attendance. Teams that participated in the 2020 season were based on cities allowing for fans in attendance at stadiums, geography, and the COVID-19 restrictions that persist in certain American Association cities.

ROC Ventures and the Milwaukee Milkmen released their readiness plan for a return to play on May 22nd after receiving local government approval. This included a “socially distant” seating plan to allow for plenty of space between groups, an emphasis on cashless payments, increased cleanings and hand sanitizing stations, and health screenings prior to entry to the stadium, among several other precautions and preventative measures.

Certainly the team had reason to be optimistic

Their 28-man offseason roster featured three players who had previously appeared in MLB, six players with Triple-A experience, four players with Double-A experience, three with high-A experience, two players who had played full-season A-ball, and three players who appeared at the short-season or rookie-level of the affiliated minor leagues.

Throughout the season the Milkmen remained within striking distance of the top spot in the standings and that was critical as the league announced it would shift to a seven-game series to determine the 2020 American Association Champion. It was the first time in league history a playoff series would be determined in a seven-game set. Previously, all playoff series had been a best-of-five format.

“2020 has been a unique season, to say the least,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “The American Association has been able to safely host high-level professional baseball at our ballparks and in front of fans since early July. We are excited by how the playoff race is shaping up and we want to reward the two clubs who earn post-season berths, along with our fans, by playing a seven-game series to determine the champion this season. As far as we are concerned, the more baseball the better.”

The Milkmen were not the most explosive scoring team in the league, but could play stingy defense and had great pitching.

On September 6 the defeated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-2 in 11 innings to clinch a playoff spot.
in the process. The victory coupled with the St. Paul Saints win against the Winnipeg Goldeyes gave the Milkmen a five-game lead over the three-way tie for third place with just four games to play sealing the first playoff berth of 2020.

A few days later the Milkmen split a doubleheader against Winnipeg but still clinched the top spot in the American Association season standings and the number one seed in the American Association Finals. They were set to take on the Sioux Falls Canaries in a best-of-seven series to decide the 2020 Champion.

The playoffs

Game 1 was played in Franklin where the Milkmen jumped on the Canaries, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning to win 11-6.

The Milkmen took a 2 games to none lead in the series after blanking Sioux Falls, 2-0.

Game 3 and the series moved to Sioux Falls but the result was the same. Milkmen 10, Canaries 5. One more win was needed to win the championship.

But there would be no sweep. In Game 4 the Canaries held on for a 5-3 win, forcing a Game 5, again in Sioux Falls.

On September 17, the Milkmen beat Sioux Falls 4-1 to claim the 2020 American Association Championship by winning the series 4-1. The Milkmen saw a strong outing from starting pitcher David Holmberg who worked 7.1 innings and allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out eight batters.

The win marked the Milkmen’s first American Association title after joining the league just one year ago. In their inaugural season in 2019, they finished 38-62 and missed the playoffs. This year, Milwaukee posted the league’s best regular season record going 34-26.

Celebrate champions and heroes

September 19 at Franklin’s Umbrella Bar:

Image may contain: 4 people, including Steve F. Taylor, Jennifer Fischer and Steve Olson, people standing and outdoor

From L-R, former Franklin Alderman and former Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor, Kyla Fischer, Franklin Mayor Steve Olson, and Kevin Fischer standing next to the Miles Wolff Trophy, symbolizing the Milwaukee Milkmen’s American Association 2020 Championship.

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From L-R, Catcher Christian Correa, Milkmen owner Mike Zimmerman, Kyla, Milkmen Manager Anthony Barone, and Kevin.

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Kevin and Jennifer with Brett Walker, a Milwaukee native, who was named the Player of the Year in the American Association.

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Kevin and Kyla with Outfielder Brett Vertigan, Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

And Pitcher Peyton Gray was selected as Rookie of the Year.

A big victory OFF the field

The Milkmen organization followed all recommended safety guidelines. Staff at the ballpark wore gloves and masks in the stands. There was a significantly reduced capacity in the stands, down 35 percent from 4,000 seats to 1,500 with social distancing.

It was announced at the Milkmen Championship ceremony that Milkmen owner Mike Zimmerman was informed by the Franklin Health Department  that during the entire Milkmen season at Franklin Field there were no cases of COVID-19 that resulted from baseball played there. The team and the city health department collaborated to make the 2020 season the safest ever and are to be congratulated for their efforts.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE










THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #4

042420_madisonopenrally_09

Photo: The Milwaukee Independent

One of my favorite writers is Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The Diversity Delusion.” Back in April she wrote:

The public health establishment is fighting desperately to maintain this degree of hysteria in the populace, in order to prolong its newfound power over almost every aspect of American life.

Death will erupt if the lockdowns are lifted, the experts warn every few minutes on the cable news networks, to the angry approbation of the anchors. ‘It’s going to backfire,’ Dr Anthony Fauci warned on April 20. Even as evidence keeps mounting that the virus is magnitudes less deadly than was advertised, the public health professionals are hardening their economy-killing prescriptions, rather than loosening them. David Kessler, a former head of the FDA, claims that Americans will need to eliminate two-thirds of their social contacts for a year or more until a vaccine is developed. The federal government should commandeer private factories to produce the millions of test kits that will be required on a daily basis before anyone can be ‘fully free’, he says.

To cancel most of the country’s economy for a problem, however tragic, that is highly localized was a devastating policy blunder that must be immediately corrected.

In 2020 Franklin was cancellation city.

The first week of June Franklin’s Civic Celebration Commission voted 5-3 to cancel this year’s Independence Day festivities (The vote technically was 5-1. The chair included the opinions of members-emeritus who were in the room. Only 6 members were eligible to vote).

Seems this wasn’t a “sky is falling” decision. An adequate number of volunteers was lacking. Not enough money for the parade. Ditto for fireworks, complicated by not being able to sell tickets.

The commission’s recommendation then went to the full Common Council where the celebration was almost certain to die since everything else in America had been called off at that point. I couldn’t resist being sarcastic.

“Too bad , especially when the Franklin Independence Day Celebration parade with all its cavernous gaps between units would be by far the best example of compliance with social distancing in the entire state.”

The Franklin Common Council held a special meeting on June 4th. The following is an excerpt from the minutes of that meeting:

Civic Celebrations Committee Chair John Bergner appeared before the Common Council to discuss the Committee’s recommendation.  Alderwoman Hanneman then moved to cancel all currently contemplated Independence Day activities including the parade, Legend Park fireworks and Civic Center Festival.  Seconded by Alderman Barber.  All voted Aye; motion carried.

Posted on the city website:

Due to a number of factors surrounding the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Common Council and the Civic Celebrations Commission regrettably CANCEL all Independence Day Celebration activities scheduled for 2020 including the parade and fireworks on July 4th and the festival that was to be held July 3rd thru July 5th. The Council and Commission hope that the community gathers with their families and friends to celebrate the independence and freedoms of our Country and we look forward to a bigger and better celebration in 2021.

Clearly the Common Council members had their minds made up even before they walked in the door for the June 4th meeting.

Director of Health and Human Services Courtney Day told the council that surrounding areas had already canceled their activities creating the potential of Franklin being “the only game in town” that would impose a “large strain on the health of the (Franklin) community and our police department.”

Day added, “I couldn’t find a path forward” to endorse holding a celebration.

Franklin Alderman Dan Mayer then asked Day, “Your recommendation based on your knowledge, skills, ability and experience as a health director is to cancel this?”

“Yes it is,” Day replied.

BAM!

Day had instantly taken the council off the hook.

“We owe it to our health officer and to our (Civic Celebrations) Commission to fully support their difficult decision,” said Mayer, who has a reputation of saying NO to anything decent in Franklin.

Franklin’s Common Council isn’t known for its creativity, innovation, vision, or independent thinking. In lemming-like fashion without offering any alternative or opinion to the contrary, the council voted 6-0 to skip this year’s celebration honoring America, and that was that. The special meeting was over in less than 20 minutes.

In this instance Day, Franklin’s health director, had substantial influence. Personally, I was hoping Franklin went ahead with an entire or limited program. This past summer I acknowledged at that time that Day was acting in a manner she thought was completely responsible.

The larger issue was that suddenly local health directors had significant power the likes they never really had before. As a result, in some areas in America they came under greater scrutiny and criticism. Witness Andrea Palm, Governor Evers’ Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services. Palm was taken to the woodshed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court for her abuse of power where the court called her decision to lock down the state “unlawful.”

Un-elected public health officers with no voting power (and that’s a problem) offered guidance during the pandemic (considered extreme by many). America was slowly re-opening and elected officials recognized folks were anxious to get back to some semblance of normal. That put health directors in a box who sensed going back on their very own recommendations could have compromised the safety of residents.

The pressure was getting to them as reported in Stateline:

Four months into the pandemic, some governors and local officials are sidelining public health professionals in a rush to reboot their state economies, even as infections and hospitalizations increase in many areas of the country.

Shunted to the background, and often ignored, public health professionals at the state and local levels who have been working long hours with few breaks are starting to burn out and lose momentum. Many have left office; a number of them were pushed out, either by their bosses or in the face of vehement public opposition.

A recent analysis from Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press found that at least 27 state or local public health leaders across 13 states had resigned, retired or been fired since April.

BTW, the article only ripped GOP officials and not surprisingly blamed President Trump. No mention of the WI debacle and Andrea Palm.

One can argue these public health officials in some cases were being treated horribly.  Did they bring it on themselves? Isn’t this part of the territory for a political appointee? Angry phone calls, maybe. Physical threats, however, can never be tolerated.

But how about the media doing an expose or analysis about the overzealous and unreasonable decisions many made?

Also on the city of Franklin website:

We look forward to a bigger and better celebration in 2021.

There have been so many cancellations where that always seems to be part of the ‘not gonna happen’ announcement that it sounds perfunctory. Insincere. Half-hearted.

This offhand blanket statement is intended to quickly and automatically remove any sting or dissatisfaction. Makes you feel so much better. NOT.

A bigger and better Franklin festival in 2021. Really? Will it be longer? Will there be an additional night of fireworks? Don’t know.

July 4th is on a Sunday next year. Will the celebration also be held on July 5th? An official at the June 4th Common Council meeting said that will be a tear down day.

Naturally, lots of people, including me, are disappointed. Not an easy decision, granted. But did everyone involved who claim they worked so hard work hard enough to come up with even an abbreviated less costly celebration?  If people felt unsafe they wouldn’t have to come. They could, as suggested at the June 4th meeting listen to the national anthem or watch virtual fireworks (Like that’s the same).

All I heard listening to the June 4th meeting on tape was how we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t. Everybody else has canceled so we can’t be the only game in town. That would bring lots of people into Franklin. God forbid that would happen.

Next door Greendale did a fireworks display and it was terrific.

Franklin delivered a double sucker punch when the Fair Commission and the Common Council did a Lizzie Borden number on the annual St. Martin’s Fair on Labor Day.

Franklin’s public health director hands down orders, advice

In early July Courtney Day sent an e-mail to Mayor Steve Olson and members of the Franklin Common Council:

Good morning,

It’s been a long weekend in the world of COVID-19 in Franklin. As is the case in the rest of the State and the Country, Franklin has seen a tremendous uptick in cases since the middle of last week (37 new cases since July 2). This has put a tremendous taxation on my staff, many of which are part time employees, to transition back to COVID as our full time work.  You will see in the Council packet tomorrow my finalized request to bring on additional staff through a contract with a temp agency to assist us with the COVID follow-up work using the money we received from the CARES Act funds.

As we have been doing our contact tracing over the weekend, we have discovered several clusters within this newest group of cases. And while it can not be pinpointed with 100% certainty that bars are where individuals contracted the virus, bars are a common theme in the movement of many of our cases while they were infectious and in particular bars that have had live music seem to be the biggest draw. Today I will be issuing orders to the Umbrella Bar, Croatian Beer Garden, and Polonia Beer Garden to cease all live music and entertainment until further notice.

We are working closely with the Milwaukee Milkmen regarding the positive cases identified within their organization. In partnership with the Milkmen, Ascension, Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, FHD will ensure the rules of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball as well as the guidelines from CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services are now fully adhered to moving forward.

I’ve attached an updated letter for the community reinforcing the need for people to increase their own personal responsibilities related to COVID transmission especially if they are venturing out in the public more frequently.  As always feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.

Courtney Day, RN, BSN
Director of Health and Human Services/Health Officer
Franklin Health Department
cday@franklinwi.gov
414-425-9101

July 6, 2020

To all that work, live, and play in Franklin:

Summer is in full swing as we pass through another holiday weekend. Typically summer in Wisconsin is marked with picnics, backyard parties, sporting events, and festivals, but 2020 and the threat of COVID-19 has changed or cancelled many of our summer plans. I am proud that the Franklin Health Department has had the opportunity to work with so many local businesses in every sector of our community to put COVID-19 safety plans in place to protect workers, patrons, and the general public. The hard work and dedication of these businesses and our residents have allowed us to begin to enjoy some of the activities we missed earlier this year.

However, with an increase in opportunities outside the home comes an increase in the risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19. In many areas of the country and our own State the numbers of those testing positive for COVID-19 have begun to trend upwards. Unfortunately, over the last week, we are now starting to see this trend creep into Franklin as well proving that COVID-19 is still very present in our area. So, while the warm weather may be calling us to venture out in Franklin or other parts of the State, it is even more important than ever that we all play our role in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

If you’ve decided to leave your home for recreational opportunities, (going to dinner, catching that movie, firing up the grill for a backyard barbeque, or participating in group gatherings) please note Franklin Health Department still strongly recommends the following before going out to protect your family, friends, and neighbors:

• Stay home if you are feeling ill.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available).
• Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
• Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet between people not from your household.
• When possible, use a mask or face covering in public settings especially when you
cannot ensure 6 feet of physical distancing.

More information can be found on the City of Franklin website (www.franklinwi.gov) and the Franklin Health Department Facebook Page, or call us during regular business hours at 414- 425-9101.

Sincerely,

Courtney Day, RN, BSN
Director of Health and Human Services/Health Officer
City of Franklin Health Department

Halloween?

At a Franklin Common Council meeting, Mayor Steve Olson threw flaming poo, saying Trick or Treat would give Franklin a chance to see rising COVID-19 numbers rise even faster. Olson promised the city would “issue lots of guidelines.”

The council approved Trick or Treating this year to be held on October 31st from 4-7 pm.

Several reliable sources informed me that behind the scenes Franklin alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm worked to try to, if not cancel, at least seriously restrict Halloween. She disrespectfully scoffed at me as she usually does. Wilhelm was exposed and Halloween was just fine.

So was The Hill Has Eyes.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony? It went virtual.

Tree lighting at the Historical Society? Forget about it.

For reopening, Franklin mayor insults some (actually many) residents

At a Common Council meeting in May a city health department official reported positive news. As of that day, 90 cases of the virus out of 894 have tested positive. That’s a measly 10%.

In Franklin, the rate of positivity which used to be 12-13% was 10%.

Despite that, Franklin Alderman Daniel Mayer, who was not at present at the meeting,  said the virus is still here and residents needed to be vigilant. Mayor Olson made similar  comments later.

Olson complimented his health staff but his honor couldn’t smartly just stop there. He had to hit the send button with his mouth before thinking and stopping.

“Those who say open now, in my view, would have been very irresponsible.”

In mere seconds the mayor proceeded to insult hundreds. This is a highly sensitive issue on two sides. And in an instant, he took a side.

Olson contradicted himself.

The previous week Franklin joined with other Milwaukee County suburbs to issue a collaborative order in reaction to the state Supreme Court ruling on the stay-at-home order. Here’s that information. Basically the suburbs were still shut down for about a week.

On his program WISN’s Mark Belling said the order that was agreed to by the health directors of all the Milwaukee County suburbs was illegal. There was no public meeting. There was no public notice of any meeting. There was no public input. There was no action taken by elected officials. Belling had a point. He submitted the various unelected health officials acted essentially the way Andrea Palm did.

I’ve been around enough government stuff to know Belling was right. Olson knew it.

During his program Belling said he called Franklin Mayor Steve Olson and bawled him out. Olson responded saying Franklin was not going to enforce the suburbs’ order.

So Olson told a talk show host on a 50,000 watt radio station he would no longer enforce a stay at home order, period. But suddenly at the council meeting, if anyone else supported the end of the order and the immediate reopening of the city,  they were “irresponsible.”

Milwaukee County-wide mask mandate

Breaking news in July: Franklin Mayor Steve Olson informed me that when the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council of Milwaukee County meets he intended to vote NO on an agenda item recommending a mask mandate throughout Milwaukee County.

(The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) includes the mayor, village president or administrator from each of the 19 municipalities inside Milwaukee County. The ICC meets to share best practices in delivery of public services, to discuss ways in which to save tax money and enhance services through cooperative efforts, and to discuss and advocate for change in state and federal law that are of common interest to ICC members).

The meeting agenda included this item:

Discussion on whether to make mask wearing mandatory in public places

Mayor Olson told me he was inclined to vote YES on the resolution:

 “The Health Departments and Health Officers in Milwaukee County support the recommendation of wearing masks in public places and in areas where individuals cannot practice physical distancing.”

However, the agenda was changed. The resolution now read in conformance with the proposal being considered by the city of Milwaukee:

“The Health Departments and Health Officers in Milwaukee County support the recommendation of wearing masks in public places and in areas where individuals cannot practice physical distancing. In addition, we would support the local elected officials pursuing a local ordinance that would require the wearing of masks.”

Given the change Mayor Olson informed he would vote NO.

To be clear:

The ICC has NO authority.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley has NO authority.

The County has NO authority.

Steve Olson has NO authority.

But the ICC vote was far from meaningless as it sent a loud signal to the horrendous Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee County suburbs how to move forward.

I thanked Mayor Olson for the update and for his stance and encouraged folks to contact Olson and give their thanks as well.

UPDATE @ 8:40 PM 07/11/20:

Dear Kevin

I will be voting NO on the proposed resolution that is on the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council agenda for Monday’s meeting.  Please understand that the item may change.  My reasons include:

  • The ICC is advisory only and has no authority to mandate mask usage
  • The ICC has not studied the science of the matter nor taken recommendations
  • The mayors and village presidents individually have no authority to put into place such mandates (nor does the county executive or the county board)
  • It is unknown at this point how the item has been placed on the agenda or by whom or for what purpose.
  • There is no proposed enforcement or penalty or model ordinance
  • Any action would be political only, advisory only and carry no legal weight

Enacting a restriction on personal liberty must be done carefully and with substantial public discussion and input and debate.  None of that has taken place by local elected leaders.  Any mandate of this type must be initiated by health professionals and supported by local elected officials legally.

Steve Olson
Mayor
City of Franklin

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) of Milwaukee County did not vote at their meeting on a the recommendation for a county-wide mask mandate.

As ICC chair, city of Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy was moving the meeting to a vote when some ICC members raised a point of order claiming the agenda item about a mask mandate was only scheduled for “discussion,” and that it was not an “action item.”

Kennedy agreed and promised better clarification of agenda items for future meetings. During the half hour spent on the mandate item Kennedy said he supported a county-wide mask mandate, but also said he believed the state Supreme Court would shoot down any such plan.

There were some sparks at the very start of the discussion provided by Franklin Mayor Steve Olson. Eleven municipal health directors had collaborated on the meeting agenda. Olson said after he spoke with his health director he felt there would be no harm in supporting the proposed resolution which said the communities should encourage the use of masks. But then the resolution was amended with the addition of a sentence calling for the county-wide mask mandate.

Olson rather sternly asked how the change came about and who was responsible.

The resolution Olson said, went from “a valuable message to a political point that ruined the message.”

Chair Kennedy then asked Olson if his health director didn’t share all information with him. Olson quickly snapped at Kennedy.

“I resent that,” barked Olson. “My health director has always been honest with me.”

One concern raised at the ICC meeting was how any mask mandate would or could be enforced.

PRIOR TO THE ICC MEETING, Franklin’s Director of Health and Human Services Courtney Day said the following at a meeting of the Franklin Common Council:

“Masks by themselves do not prevent anything. The best practice is to make sure you’re washing your hands and staying physically distant from someone.  Masks can certainly help. If you are asymptomatic and you might have the chance of impacting somebody else by being too close to them. Certainly they can help but this is not the only way this can spread and it’s not the only way to prevent spreading it.

“By and large there are far, far, far many things that people do that are a little bit riskier when they’re wearing masks because they forget about washing their hands or they get hot so they pull it down or pull it up, or they wear it around their ear or take it off with their hands and then lick their hand, all sorts of things that you’re not thinking about because you think the mask keeps me safe.”

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE

December

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/12/15/ballpark-commons-passes-another-test/

September


At a recent meeting the Common Council approved Trick or Treating this year to be held on October 31st (that’s cool) from 4-7 pm.

But worrywart Mayor Steve Olson (has he gone ‘Karen’ on us?) just had to throw flaming poo, saying this will give Franklin a chance to see rising COVID-19 numbers rise even faster.

Olson promised the city will “issue lots of guidelines.” I shudder to imagine how potentially ridiculous they might be.

Whatever health commissioner Courtney Day comes up with you can bet how the folding chairs on the council will react.

Yes Courtney.

Of course Courtney.

Whatever you say Courtney.

That’s really good Courtney.

Looking ahead, they wouldn’t dare mess with the Veterans Day ceremony or Christmas Tree Lighting, would they?

July 7

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/07/07/franklins-public-health-director-hands-down-orders-advice/

June 24

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/06/24/public-health-leaders-from-valued-advisers-to-now-unemployed/

June 15

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/06/15/franklin-civic-celebration-is-dead-whats-next/

June 3

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/06/03/franklins-civic-celebration-isnt-canceled-yet/

April (late)

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/04/28/todays-highly-interesting-read-04-28-20-the-paranoid-style-in-covid-19-america/

September

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/09/16/will-your-community-cancel-halloween/

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.com/2020/09/08/franklin-canceled-july-4th-and-labor-day-what-about-halloween/

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #5

Lots of people complain about Franklin. I know. I’m one of them.

Personally, I submit that I don’t grouse about Franklin all that much, roughly on less than five fingers on the issues I do. And when I am pessimistic it’s because I want to somehow persuade others to work to improve our city.

There’s another faction in our city, however, that is just a bunch of  busybodies that loves to complain for the sake of complaining.

Stay with me.

First…from March of 2020.

Some brief history.

Lo and behold, they were back, and Franklin was a trendsetter.

The new attraction immediately was popular.

Terrific news, right?

Remember, this is Franklin we’re talking about.

It’s no surprise Supervisor John Weishan (who doesn’t live or represent or anywhere near Franklin) is throwing thumb tacks in the road at Franklin’s Ballpark Commons. In June of 2017 at a County Board meeting he offered an 11-page amendment filled with all kinds of obstacles designed to kill Ballpark Commons. It failed.

Now Weishan wants to cause more trouble. The police have been out to Ballpark Commons many times and the development has always complied with Franklin’s ordinance on noise levels. A study at the time I wrote would be a waste of time.

Now it’s September 3, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

There are two reasons why.

1) They don’t care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Swahili.

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

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

Are you ready?

This isn’t rocket science.

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

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

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

Simple. Easy. Again, common sense.

Our omnipotent council would have none of it.

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

The council was close-minded.

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

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

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

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

“The council should think bigger and more strategically.”

Let that sink in a bit.

The council should think bigger and more strategically.”

Mike, nice try, but what Zimmerman asked for was basically…

October of 2020

Franklin Alderman Dan Mayer suddenly emerged as an authority, on sound engineering? Really? Truly?


I blogged:

It’s not easy being the mayor of Franklin these days. Steve Olson must deal with a below average Common Council (that’s being diplomatic) whose members operate under the false notion that they’re experts on policymaking, business and industry, public safety, public health, city planning, design, architecture, job creation, job retention, environmental protection, and now the latest, sound engineering.

For some time the sound emanating from Franklin Field has been problematic. The Franklin Common Council at its meeting Tuesday night had an opportunity to, as Mayor Olson put it, “fix the problem, not study it.”

Olson requested authorization for the city to contract with Shen Milsom Wilke to perform an analysis of the Franklin Field sound system. Olson, who has a wealth of personal work experience on sound, called Shen Milsom Wilke “world renowned experts in sound and audio.”

When the item came up on Tuesday’s agenda Franklin Alderman Dan Mayer who with Kristen Wilhelm are the two worst aldermen on the council immediately moved to kill Olson’s suggestion (seconded by Wilhelm) and order city staff to develop a comprehensive plan to resolve sound issues at the site.

During discussion Mayer took a direct jab at Mayor Olson when he remarked, “I think it’s up to staff and not just some contact we met at Walmart.”

Maybe Mayer’s sarcasm was a futile attempt at humor. Regardless, he said it, on the record, for all to hear. Stupid doesn’t come close to describing Mayer’s comment. Try asinine. Absurd. Illogical. Preposterous.

Shen Milsom & Wilke was started in 1986 and has grown to become an international company with a worldwide staff of over 230. From their website:

We identify potential acoustical issues at the earliest point possible and bring forth all available options for team review, discussion, & coordination.

Our projects range from extremely sensitive environments, such as studios, performance spaces, laboratories; to the corporate and learning environment involving boardrooms, executive offices, collaboration spaces, open plan areas, classrooms, etc. Solutions have to work within the framework of a project and team.

Our Acoustical services include:

Architectural Acoustics
Mechanical Noise & Vibration Control
Structural Dynamics
Environmental Analyses
Performing Arts Acoustics
Community & Industrial Noise Control
Open Plan Offices
Environmental Acoustics Modeling

At one point during the meeting a city official acknowledged he didn’t believe city staff had the expertise to provide what the aldermen were considering.

Didn’t matter. The council voted 6-0 to approve Mayer’s motion.

Mayer’s mentality and that of his colleagues should be appalling and frightening to Franklin residents. The aldermen firmly believe everything is all about them, that they are the experts. Truth be told, they’re not experts on anything.
—October 7, 2020

November 10, 2020

On Monday the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.18 billion 2021 budget. The vote in favor was 14-4. Supervisors Ryan Clancy, Patti Logsdon, Anthony Staskunas and John F. Weishan Jr. voted against.

Included in the approved budget was an amendment approved unanimously by the County Board’s Finance Committee for the county to issue Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire an expert to conduct a comprehensive sound study at the ROCK Sports Complex in Franklin.

The cost will be $50,000 that in essence will be transferred from one county fund to another. Co-sponsors of the amendment included Logsdon, a longtime opponent of Ballpark Commons, along with Staskunas and Joe Czarnezki. All three co-sponsors represent a portion of the city of Franklin.

BTW, a county document claims this budget amendment will have 0% impact on the county property tax levy. I just love the rationale government-ese used by bureaucrats. Their reasoning is there’s no tax impact because the money was already budgeted for and was just being transferred from one pot to another pot. Hell, that money didn’t come from elves in some county backyard. It’s tax money.

This entire noise issue has been around for a long time. There are enough folks who want to make life miserable for the Rock and its owner. Supervisor Logsdon is one of them. Her list of accomplishments since taking office is a blank sheet of paper.

The entire Ballpark Commons development has been a God-send for Franklin, the city’s most attractive and popular destination. From Business View Magazine:

Ballpark Commons is a mixed-use destination development started by ROC Ventures in 2012. Mike Zimmerman, President of ROC Ventures and owner of the Milwaukee Wave soccer team, created The Rock Sports Complex on a closed and failing landfill with six major league baseball replica fields, a large outdoor Umbrella Bar with food truck rallies and live music series, a regional Halloween attraction, The Hills Has Eyes, and The Snow Park ski and tubing hill. Encouraged by 125,000 annual visitors, ROC Ventures expanded The Rock with assistance from Franklin in the form of $29M in TID funding for public infrastructure improvements, transforming the development into the 200-acre Ballpark Commons development. With this public-private partnership came rapid private investment to the tune of more than $200M once all projects are built out. To date, BPC includes Franklin Field, a 4,000-seat stadium for the Milwaukee Milkmen, the 2020 champions in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (now also a Partner League with Major League Baseball).

“The stadium became the linchpin for additional development, including the Milky Way Drive-In, a three-story 46,000 sf office and retail building, New Perspectives Senior Living with 150 units, and Velo Village, a 265-unit, five-building high-end apartment complex,” says (Franklin Economic Development Director Callie) Berg. “The Performance Sports Village is currently under construction, permits have been pulled for Luxe Golf, which is comparable to Top Golf, and will include two unique restaurants and a beer garden; and a Holiday Inn Express breaks ground in the spring.” Franklin is still seeking additional private development for a proposed brew pub as well as two additional retail/commercial buildings.

Why the constant effort to second guess this project and obstruct its progress? I don’t understand what kind of warped satisfaction there is in badgering and hounding this community gem. Has the ballpark not conformed to all city ordinances and regulations? Has it not been a fine corporate and community neighbor?

Apparently it’s nice to just willy-nilly authorize spending tax dollars on studies when it’s not your money.

More news came on December 1

The noise issue at Ballpark Commons in Franklin is back on the agenda at tonight’s meeting of the Franklin Common Council. Many details, but in a nutshell:

City of Franklin “Staff believes a sound analysis would result in a generally faster means to reduce noise; however, if a more comprehensive approach is required, then the Council should authorize a comprehensive outdoor sound study, in terms of scope and budget of up to $50,000.”

For complete details, click here and scroll to Page 71.

UPDATE: Some important notes.

Why is the council still dragging this out?

This is the council caving to Alderman Dan Mayer instead of moving forward with a solution offered by Mayor Olson and Rock owner Mike Zimmerman. The council has opted not to fix the problem, but study it to death, in part because they think they know more about sound than the expert Olson suggested.

No need to study the Umbrella Bar. Just implement better management of the bands that play there.

Umbrella Bar concerts can be fixed with better management of the bands. No need for a study of that component.

And as I blogged not too long ago, Milwaukee County has budgeted $50-thousand for a 2021 study. Therefore no need to have ANOTHER study. What part of that doesn’t the council understand?

UPDATE: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Alderman Mayer moved we delay any action on a city study and find out what the county finds and have the county report back to Franklin at that time. No need to have two studies. Alderman Barber seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

December 22

“Rock Sports Complex Noise a Puzzle”

No photo description available.

That’s the headline of a report on UrbanMilwaukee.com.

Noise continues to be an issue at Franklin’s Ballpark Commons. And based on this website article, little if any progress has been made.

Urban Milwaukee reports:

“Milwaukee County Parks is  having trouble studying noise at a sports complex in Franklin that has plagued neighbors for years. The county parks department has now been charged with performing a sound study. As parks worked to find someone to perform the study, it looked at available sound data from measurements taken by the City of Franklin, but has been unable to analyze the data ‘due to both the large volume of data and lack of specific technical expertise,’ according to a report from the department.”

Oh, this is a beauty. The masterminds at Milwaukee County, apparently not smarter than 5th graders, are unable to figure out what the hell they’re doing. So they react the way government does. They blame someone else, in this instance, Franklin.

This isn’t surprising since our own Einsteins on the Franklin Common Council scoffed at suggestions by both Mayor Steve Olson and ROC Ventures owner Mike Zimmerman to resolve the sound dispute by using industry experts. Instead our council made the foolish decision to seek government assistance, which amounts to no help at all. Naturally the county bureaucrats are clueless.

Reminded me almost instantly of an interview done in the late 1970’s by legendary big bandleader Woody Herman, a Milwaukee native. Herman expressed frustration with some of his audience members who preferred he play onstage his recordings from the 30’s and 40’s rather than his more contemporary charts. Taking a shot, Herman said they wouldn’t know good music from their electric shavers. And some Franklin aldermen expected the county to come through?

Another thought I have is why is Urban Milwaukee so interested? In Franklin.

When I was at WHEDA one of the projects I worked on that we funded was a national award-winning multifamily development that provides supportive services that benefit individuals with mental illness who are at risk for experiencing homelessness, police encounters, and emergency hospitalizations. The success rate at turning these folks around has been impressive.

Highland Commons, just across the city of Milwaukee border in West Allis got national press. But when I pitched the story to Urban Milwaukee the reaction I got was lukewarm because, after all, this was West Allis.

But neighbor complaints in Franklin? That has Urban Milwaukee jumping. Seems the right person whispered in the right ear.

Read the article. I frequently visit this liberal site because it does, to their credit, cover a lot, and at times does a fair amount of good work when they’re not so biased. But…

Sounds like they have a predetermined template on this issue, going so far as to suggest Franklin intentionally designed Ballpark Commons so that no complaints could ever be enforced. This is not award-winning journalism, even though Franklin detractors (i.e. certain Franklin aldermen) might use it as ammo to rip a top Franklin corporate citizen.

Ballpark Commons has proven it was a super idea and is successful. Franklin can continue to grow, as long as we don’t become our own worst enemy.

Stay tuned. Will the ridiculous attack on arguably Franklin’s best corporate citizen continue?

My sad prediction. Yes.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE



Stories that didn’t make my TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

Because not every story can.

What were these three thinking?

In a bad PR move some Franklin teachers file grievance over COVID-19 safety concerns.

Franklin’s Julian Bradley becomes the first-ever Black Republican elected to the Wisconsin State Senate defeating his extremely flawed opponent.

This development proposal sure sounded exciting, BUT…

A new ethics committee in Franklin? Not yet.

Ivanka Trump visited.

My alderwoman gets an “F” on constituent relations.

On my TOP TEN we’re up to #5 that you can read Monday.



THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #6

Franklin isn’t exactly a quality restaurant oasis. That’s why the opening of a few dining destinations was exciting news in 2020.

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor, text that says 'HAVANA Cafe 7119 HAVANA NOW OPEN!'

In the Franklin Village at 76th and Rawson the Havana Café began serving 5 star Authentic Cuban Cuisine in September.

Owner and chef Angelina Maholias told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she is known for her Cuban sandwich.

“Whether you’re in Havana or down in Miami, the pork is usually sliced like how you slice turkey. I marinate my pork and cook it for 12 hours, so it falls apart. It’s very tender and it’s very juicy.”

The following month…

Image may contain: people sitting, drink and indoor, text that says 'Honey Butter CAFE MON'

Also near 76th and Rawson, a new breakfast and lunch spot.

As the year was coming to a close Franklin was clearly on a roll.

And the wealth of good news wasn’t limited to restaurants. Luxury apartments are on the rise in the suburbs, and that includes Franklin.

THIS is a terrific project. Discussions are currently underway to make this happen.

Franklin is growing, and there’s more to come.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #7

The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia.

Balloons drop after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US on July 28.

Not every face was a happy one.

Black Lives Matter protesters march through downtown Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention on July 26 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In March of 2019 the Democratic National Committee selected Milwaukee to host the 2020 convention, rejecting larger, glitzier cities like Miami and Houston. Democrats felt they needed to patch some political wounds.

Donald Trump fiercely campaigned in Wisconsin in 2016, attending five rallies here in the final 100 days leading up to Election Day. Hillary Clinton behaved as though she was allergic to cheese, making zero appearances. Trump won Wisconsin by less than one percentage point — 47.2 percent to 46.5 percent.

National Public Radio reported, “So now comes the announcement that the Democratic National Committee, convention delegates, and hordes of media will pack hotels, sporting arenas, ballrooms, historic neighborhood bars, local restaurants (which still serve kielbasa and brats, along with trendier fare) for one of the year’s marquee political events.”

With the convention originally slated for July the host city expected to draw 50,000 guests and enjoy an economic impact of $200 million.

But the pandemic came and the convention went virtual.

There still was a matter of security. Before the onslaught of the virus officials planned to have 1,200 Milwaukee police officers and many more from around the country, a total force of about 4,000. Even though the convention went from really big to not so big, Milwaukee reached out to other police departments for help. Franklin’s response…

Franklin Document

The Franklin Common Council voted 6-0 to approve Chief Oliva’s letter.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “At least 100 law enforcement agencies have withdrawn agreements to send personnel to next month’s Democratic National Convention, some of them citing orders to Milwaukee’s police chief to cease the use of tear gas and pepper spray during demonstrations.”

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE






THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #8

The city of Franklin mayoral election in 2020 was about honesty and integrity. The incumbent, Steve Olson, was challenged by former Franklin alderman Basil Ryan who was recalled in 2003. He had briefly served from 2001.

During the campaign Ryan told people he wasn’t recalled. Ryan was lying.

Local well-known businessman Doug Milinovich posted this before the election on a Franklin Facebook page:

Basil Ryan For Mayor of Franklin WI will you please address this. You on numerous occasions have stated you were NOT recalled as an alderman. Most recently on March 10th 2020 at approximately 12:05 cst you stated you were not recalled to me with two other individuals in the home. Yet a now supporter of yours Jay Sakwinski authored a letter that states this “I was one of the main people, along with Steve (Olson), involved in the recall that removed Basil Ryan as alderman.” So Basil is your supporter wrong so we have non factual information posted and still on this site or do you now admit you were recalled? This has been a long time bone of contention with many, this your opportunity to directly and simply answer a direct question. To me if you fail to answer the question I feel you are trying to hide something (my opinion).

Ryan didn’t immediately answer Milinovich’s easy inquiry.

The answer is and should have been an unequivocal ‘yes.’

Ryan Recall Cropped

Ryan was disgracefully, ceremoniously dumped in the recall, 58-42%.

Caught red-handed, Ryan told residents in an attempt to downplay or cover up the election that it was an illegitimate recall.

How strange. Pete Kosovich went out and got the necessary petition signatures. An election was scheduled and conducted. People went to the polls. They voted. The local paper covered it. Ryan was bounced.

Ryan’s supporters who I contend dislike Olson far more than they like Ryan went into twist and deflect and divert mode, trying to take attention off the ousted candidate and place it instead on the local group that worked on Ryan’s successful recall. The group was forced to disband by Milwaukee County Court action. The district attorney’s office in Milwaukee reportedly filed civil, not criminal, but civil charges accusing the group and then-Treasurer James Seymer, son of Citizens for Responsible Government founding member Orville Seymer of Franklin, of filing a false registration statement and failing to accurately record how much money it collected and spent.

In other words, clerical errors. But to Ryan and his followers that somehow exonerated Ryan. Recall? What recall?

Olson was part of the recall group, but left when he decided to run for alderman in his district.

There were other issues, like this little item.

Back in the spring a very biased Franklin forum opened on Facebook to conveniently correspond with the April election. The head moderator is a young, very politically naïve young man who just happened to have run against Olson when he was an alderman… and lost.

Another moderator is a former Franklin alderwomen, Susanne Mayer who was completely inept during her short tenure and left because she simply wasn’t up to the task.

Contributing frequently on the site is Franklin Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm who thrives on a huge ego. Like others on the Facebook site if you suck up to her you’re in good graces. If not, you get chastised up and down. Wilhelm has never liked Olson and has attempted to thwart him at almost every opportunity.

On this biased anti-Steve Olson site a woman posted the following about Olson’s opponent:

“Do you know that Basil Ryan is out shopping for the seniors in Franklin and delivering it to them so that they don’t have to go out to shop?!!! He’s collecting supplies like toilet paper and disinfectants and picking up prescriptions and food for senior citizens. He truly cares about the people of Franklin. He’s been to my house a few times to pick up TP that I bought at the store I work at for the seniors and then delivers it to them.”

In and of itself, not a bad comment. The implication was explicitly clear. Ryan was a saint to the elderly. Practically walks on water.

Problem: The same comment verbatim had been posted at least twice before on the same Facebook site. The head moderator who gushes for Ryan, the other moderator Mayer who loves Ryan, and Alderwoman Wilhelm who also adores Ryan and comments all the time, never caught it (or just ignored it). It took one of the site’s readers to point it out to the blind sheep.

Not a big deal? I think it says something about the candidate’s followers that they resorted to this trickery just to get their tainted guy elected. Who knows how long the chicanery would have been allowed to remain on the site until it was eventually discovered.

The website beliefnet.com says honesty and integrity are two of the most important qualities in a political candidate. Ryan failed. Couldn’t even bring himself around to admitting he was recalled.

I’ve known Steve Olson for 25 years. He’s not always made me happy. But he was a far more qualified choice than his flawed opponent.

Olson won…big time.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE