On August 31, 2022, the Franklin school district sent out an e-mail late in the afternoon:

This is a message from Franklin Public Schools to let you know that your child’s afternoon bus route has been canceled for this Thursday and Friday due to a bus driver shortage. 

Late last evening, we were made aware by First Student, our transportation provider, that 18 Bus routes need a driver due to a shortage. We worked to fulfill 14 of the routes and appreciate the grace and teamwork of families as we ask for your assistance for the remaining 4 routes, one of which impacts your child. We have been working throughout the day to find alternate solutions including utilizing existing route drivers, finding new drivers, and renting other bus services. Unfortunately, First Student and Franklin Public Schools have exhausted all alternatives and we need to cancel your child’s afternoon route FP 79P for both Thursday 9/1 and Friday 9/2.  

We are working over the next few days to find a solution for next week.  If it is expected that the route(s) will be canceled longer, we will reach out to you. 

Of course it wasn’t the school district’s fault. They don’t make mistakes. It’s those evil greedy bus companies.

We heard from FPS’ communications guru, Chad Kafka:

There was an error in the body of the email where the word “afternoon” was accidentally left in the copy of the email you received. There were various versions of bus communication that went out to different audiences. Sorry for the confusion. If your route has an A, it is an AM. If your route has a P it is a PM.

Good grief.

Needless to say parents were pissed. They were left frustrated and scrambling wondering what the hell to do. A clueless school district didn’t give a damn.

Why didn’t they just do the sensible thing and postpone their cockamamie staggered schedule and go back to school the following Tuesday, the day after Labor Day??!!

The key word there is sensible, a quality the school district sorely lacks.

Thus far it’s been hit or miss all too often with buses during this school year.

More bus craziness in late October

The school district received a bomb threat for Franklin’s Forest Park Middle School.

Just the week before the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

A spate of false active shooter reports have been made on Thursday at schools across Wisconsin.

School responses have varied, but in most cases, classes have remained in session. Students from the targeted schools have been deemed safe as police continue to investigate. 

How are Wisconsin schools responding?

According to the Oak Creek-Franklin School District’s letter to parents, Oak Creek High School was put on “a temporary hold,” meaning that all hallways were cleared and that students remained in classrooms with doors closed and locked, attendance was taken and classes continued as usual until an all-clear was given.

After the Oak Creek Police Department investigated, it was determined to be a swatting incident and that there was no threat. The hold ended just after 9 a.m.

“Swatting is a call stating that a threatening situation is happening or about to happen. These calls are generally false but are taken seriously by us. Oak Creek High School was one of several schools in the area to receive the swatting call this morning. Law enforcement continues to investigate this false threat,” the district said in its letter.

“We are committed to always taking the most expedient and appropriate steps in cooperation with the Oak Creek Police Department to ensure student safety. Our students and staff responded extraordinarily this morning.”

Franklin Public Schools said in a letter to parents that Franklin High School was put on lockdown, and Franklin Police swept the school’s halls and classrooms. Police and school administrators found no credible threat, and the school day resumed as normal.

“Throughout the hold and lockdown this morning at FHS, there was not a threat of safety to your child or children,” Franklin Public Schools said in its letter.

“This threat that was received by Franklin Police was similar in each affected community and has been identified by us and other districts as a hoax. This is an unfortunate situation and a pattern seen by other districts in the state and country this school year. We will always take any threat seriously and follow our safety plans to ensure the safety of your child or children,” the district added.

As police arrived at Bradford High School in Kenosha, parents started to surround the front of the school. It is unknown whether the school went into lockdown, but a news release from the Kenosha Police Department said there was a “full-scale” police response to the school.

“This was a very large-scale event and response,” the release said. “The training that has taken place within the law enforcement industry and the school communities was evident in Kenosha today. We must never let our guard down.”

As police arrived at Port Washington High School, officers began to evacuate students and teachers from classrooms. During a police response to the high school the city took to social media to plead with parents not to arrive at the school.

“What we need parents to do is NOT RESPOND to the school. Please wait for instructions from Port Washington Police Department and Port Washington School District,” the city tweeted.

As elsewhere, there was no credible threat found in Port Washington.

Due to the situation in Port Washington, the Grafton School District put all of its schools on a hold after consulting with the Grafton Police Department. A hold means that classes continue as normal but visitors are not allowed in and students are not allowed to leave. Eventually, that hold was lifted and the school day resumed as normal, according to email alerts by the Grafton School District.

The Milwaukee Police Department released a statement saying it responded to a call claiming there was an active shooter at Rufus King High School. Upon arriving, officers determined there was no threat to safety at the school, and the department said it is investigating the unknown caller.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson also addressed the threats in a press conference this morning.

“These threats were false; they were fake. But that still does not take the sting out of the fact that families across this city — really families across Wisconsin from Port Washington to Kenosha, including Milwaukee — had to endure this hoax that students were shot or potentially would be shot at schools, in our community,” he said. 

In an email sent to parents, Nicolet Union High School said that, in response to claims of a shooter, the school was put into a “secure/hold.” This involves “all classroom and exterior doors being locked and students and staff securing in their current location while reporting any suspicious or concerning behavior immediately.”

Farther north, the Green Bay Police Department confirmed that a report of an active shooter at East High School was a “hoax,” according to a news release.

Officers were dispatched just after 10 a.m. for a report of an active shooter and a claim that more than a dozen students had been shot. Police found no evidence of an active shooter or anyone injured.

Similarly, the Sheboygan Area School District put out a letter from Superintendent Seth Harvatine saying it was also aware of “non-credible” threats of active shooters. 

The letter said a call was made to the Sheboygan Police Department regarding South High School. It was immediately deemed non-credible due to the type of information on the call. 

The district will continue to work with the police department to monitor and school resource officers are in close communication with the department, the letter said.

While most of the false claims have been at high schools, the Oshkosh Police Department put out a news release just before noon Thursday about a swatting incident at South Park Middle School.

“This was determined to be a swatting incident attempting to elicit a large-scale law enforcement response to the school,” the release said.

Oshkosh police received a call just before 10:30 a.m. stating there was a disturbance involving a weapon. The school resource officer was on scene when the call was reported and checked the school with other officers. They found no incident.

Just after noon, the Portage County Dispatch Center received information about an active shooter inside Stevens Point Area High School. Officers responded quickly and determined the information was false and that there was no threat, according to a news release from the Stevens Point Police Department.

The release said the caller was a male with a heavy accent. The high school’s website has a message saying the school was placed on lockdown immediately after the call.

A 911 call came in just after 9:30 a.m. about an active shooter at Roncalli High School in Manitowoc, according to a news release from the Manitowoc Police Department. The school went into lockdown, and officers from the police department, the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department and Metro Drug Unit responded.

Other schools in the district took precautions during the response, but it was determined there was no threat.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 20, 2022

How did FPS respond on Monday, October 24th, the morning of the threat?

The district decided to play wild goose chase with our kids who were packed onto buses and sent to not one, but two locations. Many of them frightened, the school kids were unaware of what was happening.

Later in the day parents were allowed to claim their children at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex in Franklin as part of a predetermined evacuation plan that created snarling jams and confused motorists.

Some viewed the plan as necessary and effective. Not me. I make no apologies for not belonging to the “FPS walks on water” club. What we had that day was a total chaotic mess.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin law on swatting

It reads:

947.014  Swatting.

(1)  In this section:

(a) “Authorized emergency vehicle” has the meaning given in s. 340.01 (3).

(b) “Emergency” means any of the following:

1. A condition that results in or could result in the response of a law enforcement officer, tribal law enforcement officer, state-certified commission warden, fire fighter, emergency medical responder, or emergency medical services practitioner in an authorized emergency vehicle, aircraft, or vessel.

2. A condition that jeopardizes or could jeopardize public safety and results in or could result in the evacuation of any area, building, structure, or vehicle.

(2) Whoever, knowing the information is false, intentionally conveys, or causes to be conveyed, any false information that an emergency exists is guilty of a Class I felony if the information elicits, or could elicit, a response from a specialized tactical team.

(3) Whoever violates sub. (2) is guilty of a Class H felony if the violation resulted in bodily harm to any person or a Class E felony if the violation resulted in great bodily harm to any person.

No one in real authority said much, if anything about the incident, though school kids seemed to know exactly who was responsible.

At 5:10 the afternoon of October 25th FPS District Administrator Annalee Bennin sent out an e-mail:

Dear Forest Park Middle School Families,

Please see this message from FPS District Administrator Annalee Bennin in regards to the lockdown, evacuation, and reunification that took place yesterday with Forest Park Middle School students, staff and families.  

Thank you,
FPS Communications

In my view the key sentence:

There is no one currently in custody or questioning related to this incident.

Officials indicated the person who made threatening calls admitted the threat was a hoax.

Whoever is responsible needs to be punished severely. No slaps on the wrist.



Stories that did NOT make my TOP TEN OF FRANKLIN list

There can only be ten in any top ten.

Here are stories that didn’t make my TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2022. In no particular order:

Franklin voters help approve two meaningless referenda

Franklin alderwoman insults city staff, unfairly compares to police

Whatever happened to Curtis Schmitt of Franklin?

Franklin’s Marcelino Rivera III loses…AGAIN

It’s called ‘indoctrination,’ not education

Hives for Heroes

Franklin’s K-9 hero, and another down in Georgia

Milwaukee Co. Supervisor Steve Taylor: “This doesn’t need to be 5-star dining”

Not the end of the world, Milw. Co. inmates will get fed


Sorry, but CBS 58 dropped the ball on their Franklin visit

Plenty of blame to go around in the Darrell Brooks case

When it comes to dancing, FPS steps on toes

The thought of banning CRT makes teacher throw a hissy fit

NO MOW MAY in Franklin? No for now


Posted in August:

Franklin’s Luxe Golf Bays could be more popular than the Milkmen


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Talk of longtime Franklin business Strauss Brands expanding here has been going on for some time.

February 17, 2022. I wrote:

Is the Strauss expansion proposal in Franklin dead?

At that night’s Planning Commission meeting Strauss officials could not attend because they were out of state.

However a brief statement from Strauss to Franklin was read into the record that Strauss needed time as they seek to sell the land of the site to someone else.

Applause erupted.

Strauss did not request any specific action be taken.

One brave resident spoke in favor of Strauss.

Later in the evening the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to approve a special use permit for the Strauss expansion. The recommendation was forwarded to the full Franklin Common Council.

About those Strauss e-mails…
February 16, 2022.

I called Mayor Steve Olson. I had recently posted that a member of the Franklin Common Council was getting e-mails urging a NO vote on the proposed Strauss expansion. Olson was getting e-mails in opposition as well.

As of February 16th Olson has received:

235 in protest

4 were from WI

1 was from Franklin

On February 21, 2022, I blogged:

The Franklin Common Council meets next week to take up the Commission’s recommendation.

Many short-sighted residents seem to be celebrating. They possess zero comprehension that the city’s business climate has just taken a serious hit.

Here’s the key point no one has focused on while this debate languishes in litigation: what Strauss in limbo is costing the city.

If and when completed the new Strauss facility would result in $1,210,230 annual property tax revenue.

Let that sink in. $1,210,230…every year.

The ringleader of the kill Strauss movement is running for alderman. He is the most flawed candidate in the April election and would be dangerous for Franklin’s future. It is imperative his opponent, incumbent Alderman Mike Barber be re-elected in District 5.

One of my readers, clearly a Strauss opponent, asked how I came up with the $1,210,230 figure in lost property tax revenue to the city. I responded:  

The estimated assessed value of the property is $63 million.

The 2022 tax rate is $19.21 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Simple math.

Divide 63M by $1,000. You get 63,000.

Multiply 63,000 by 19.21. $1,210,230.

The same reader also commented:

What is the City of Franklin’s cut of that property tax?

We have to also build a new water tower and fire station to support this project on top of the $20 million TID and infrastructure cost.

The answer to the question “how much goes to the city” is $4.84/thousand. 63m/1000 x 4.84. That comes to $304,920.

The water tower is paid for by the water utility through borrowing.

When would we see the money against the tax bill? The answer to that is, it depends. It goes to pay off the TID expenses first . The math isn’t difficult. There’s a total of about $12m in budgeted expenses PLUS interest. So roughly $15m. Strauss would itself pay off the TID in 12.4 years.

If you ADD the tax payments from Copart (a 7,200 square foot building and vehicle storage yard) and the homes the payoff could come quickly.

It’s all apparently dead now, thanks in large part to an aldermanic candidate who engineered the formation of a non-profit that sued the city. Imagine, running to hold office in the city but hoping like Hell the city loses a lawsuit you played a major role in. It’s unconscionable. Tell a cousin in Nebraska about it and he’d say you’re crazy, that you’re making it all up.

And think about this. The city would receive $304,000 from Strauss (after the TID is paid off) and that could mean three police officers or fire fighters.

The fire station would be paid for by impact fees (one lump sum from accumulated fees followed by annual new impact fees) and bonding. Essentially a 20 or 30 year mortgage.

I know. A lot of nerdy inside baseball. But those are the answers to the resident’s questions.

And speaking of questions, here’s one no one was asking about the business-destroying Strauss opponents.

The most recent developments

Earlier this month the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

Franklin’s common council shot down a request by Strauss Brands which would have paved the way for the company to sell the land it originally planned to use for a new meatpacking plant.

“I don’t even know what to say at this point, it’s just really disappointing,” said CEO Randy Strauss of Strauss Brands following the denial. “It makes me not want to stay in Franklin, I can tell you that.” Strauss had requested to amend a tax assessment agreement it previously made with the city, which would have accommodated the sale of the land.

Ald. John Nelson on Dec. 6 made a motion to “continue with the current contract as we have on record” following a closed session discussion. The council voted unanimously to deny Strauss’ request with no discussion in open session.Mayor Steve Olson declined to elaborate the reasoning behind the decision, saying he won’t discuss closed session matters.

According to the March 2019 agreement, Strauss Brands guaranteed a minimum $5 million assessment on the land for 2021 and a $10 million assessment for 2022-2041. The guarantees were to help pay for infrastructure costs for the aborted plant. If the property taxes are not at the specified levels, Strauss Brands must pay the remainder per the agreement.Strauss made it clear the request his company made was contingent upon assignment of the contract to the buyer of the property, “which will continue to guarantee the city its long-term tax base,” he said, calling it a “win-win for all parties involved.”

It is unknown who the user/buyer would have been, but Strauss touted them as a “great person, a great company” that would add value to the community.

“We have found a buyer that we are confident will be a great long-term partner for the city of Franklin,” he said prior to the council’s closed session. “We are working towards closing that deal and assigning the tax agreement to this new occupant.”

After the vote, Strauss was visibly frustrated on his video conference call with the council.

“I’m out of here, thanks for your time, thanks for nothing,” he said right before signing off. “I really am disappointed by everyone on this board right now, I really am, including you mayor.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 13, 2022

The knee-jerk reaction (that I admit I had) was that the city screwed Strauss. But after further review I agreed that Franklin acted to protect the taxpayers. Truth is that from a PR perspective Strauss bothched this all along and didn’t do much in the way of heavy lidting to support their own effort.

Just before Christmas the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Strauss sold the the 30-acre parcel where the company planned to build a new meatpacking plant to Cellco Partnership, an affiliate of Verizon Wireless, for $2.79 million.

The lawsuit against the city filed in December 2020 by Franklin Community Advocates is still ongoing.


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Is it possible for a municipality to mess up not one but two holidays?

Just ask the city of Franklin.

Not to be outdone by how it screwed up the July 4th fireworks the city thought it would see what damage it could inflict on Halloween.

I’ve lived here 30 years. I recall a long time ago how it took our ingenious common council two consecutive monthly meetings to decide when to hold Trick or Treat. Folks, this isn’t rocket science. But we’re talking Franklin here. As my late father used to say, they could botch a one-car funeral.

In 2022 the council thought it would be a Jim-dandy idea to have Trick or Treat from 4-7pm on October 31st.  

Problem: October 31 was a Monday.

Problem #2:  October 31 was a full school day.

The folks at City Hall immediately began doing one of the few things they excel at: Patting each other on the back, telling themselves what a great job they did.

However, it didn’t take long before a certain word popped up that’s been part of recent city history:


Our common council is lacking in common sense. Like the kind expressed by a resident whose thoughts I posted here.

The council eventually changed the date to Sunday, October 30, in plenty of time to end before the Sunday night Packer game, with nary an apology from anyone in authority about how they could be so short-sighted.

And it shouldn’t have taken an ill-advised vote followed by a vote to reconsider and a vote to pick the better date to do what was right in the first place.

We close on a high note.


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On Monday, July 4, it started to rain in the afternoon. And rain. And rain. A lot.

Admittedly I chuckled Monday when before the hour of 12 noon had even arrived neighboring communities announced they were canceling their evening fireworks due to beyond gloomy weather forecasts. Weak sauce I thought.

Here in Franklin the show was still on.  Folks in surrounding areas could visit our city, hit the Independence Day Celebration, The Umbrella Bar, or Blend. Our mayor Steve Olson loves fireworks and often brags we have the best in our neck of the woods. Surely we wouldn’t even think of canceling.


Franklin caved, citing the weather, of course, and the fact that everyone else was throwing in the towel, so why not us. Talk about a lack of independence on Independence Day.

Taking full advantage of the decision to dump the fireworks was Michael Zimmerman, Owner and Executive Officer of ROC Ventures. He went out and bought…

And staged his own fireworks display despite the monsoon that hit at 9:00 pm.

How could that happen?

Gee, I don’t know. Maybe because Zimmerman is an enterprising private businessman and local municipalities are public sector government entities. As my late father used to say they could mess up a one-car funeral.

BTW two thumbs up to the Raymond fireworks in Franksville that went up the evening during the pouring rainstorm.

And BRAVO to Greendale that decided to hold their taxpayer-funded fireworks, eventually on July 9th.

People in Franklin were frustrated, big time, and damage control was awful.

Then we got this explanation for the cancellation from a member of Franklin’s Civic Celebrations Commission.

Later in July, on the city’s website:

Community Spotlight

The 2022 Fireworks Show is being rescheduled for Saturday, July 1, 2023.

Other communities quickly re-scheduled to have theirs not long after the 4th.

In Franklin, gotta wait a year.

Message to Franklin property taxpayers:


Yes I was blue that here and elsewhere shows were tanked. I was also disappointed at the general negativity about backyard fireworks discussed on social media. Some folks maintain that on the night of July 4th we are to remain indoors, maybe put on the TV, but essentially go silent.

Let me interject that I have empathy for veterans who suffer from PTSD. And I love dogs. Let’s not go down that road. Fireworks have been around long before America. They are required and necessary for the holiday celebrations. Killjoys need to do their best to grin and bear the love of country demonstrations.

That brings me to a column by Teresa Mull, an assistant editor at The Spectator World published on July 3, 2022.

The right to keep and bear fireworks

The political arena is hotter than ever with fights raging over rights and freedoms and all that good American stuff. But one topic missing from these debates only gets the attention it deserves for about a week every year each July: the right to keep and bear fireworks. It’s a right heavily restricted in sixteen states and straight-up illegal in Massachusetts. Yes, Massachusetts, home of the Boston Tea Party, that act of defiance that sparked our patriotic tradition of blowing things up.

In the Pennsylvania Wilds — the romantic name a tourism agency gave to the hick region of the state where I reside — things go boom year-round. It could be someone detonating explosives to open up a strip mine, a truck backfiring, a firearm normal-firing, or someone celebrating making bail with a bottle rocket. But during Independence Day week — heck, it lasts all summer long — the whizzing, whistling, whirring, bang, pop, kaboom! sounds come on in full-force as the natives do their best to remind the Redcoats not to get any ideas…

Fireworks are as American as apple pie and not kissing people when you greet them. A merchant at one of my local fireworks emporiums (we have three) explains, “A guy was in here the other day and said his neighbor called the cops on him for setting off fireworks and the dispatcher was like…so?”

“What do people like about fireworks so much?” I ask the vendor, who, by the way, sleeps on a tiny cot inside his fireworks tent for ten consecutive nights in July to safeguard his wares.

“I think it’s a little bit of danger, the lights, the spectacle,” he says. “It draws a crowd — especially if you’re the one setting them off. It’s like, look what I did. It’s a big party.”

There are, of course, more practical uses for fireworks.

“Some guy said he had to get rid of a groundhog under his house so he bought a bunch of these,” the storekeeper says, running his hand over a pile of “Mammoth Smoke” sticks, which I’m told “just make a bunch of smoke.”

“Yeah, some other guy came in and said he was going to shoot a music video under a bridge and bought like ten of them,” another salesman chimes in.

I visit another fireworks store the next county over. It’s a brick-and-mortar place that’s open half the year, with special hours leading up to New Year’s Eve. When I show up on June 30, it’s busier than our local grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

“Wow, it’s really crowded in here, huh?” I say to the proprietor, who is open-carrying a Glock on his hip.

He shrugs.

“This isn’t bad,” he says. “In 2020, during Covid, we had people snaking through the parking lot, lined clear down the highway. We had to limit the number of people we could let in the store at one time, or no one could move.”

“What are some of your most popular items?”

“Roman candles and the bigger, 500-gram cakes.”

The man’s voice drifts off as he just repeats the word: “Bigger, bigger…”

“It really depends on personal preference,” his sister says. “There’s everything for everybody.”

I survey the scene: there’s a sweet-looking woman with her hair in a bun who is probably picking up sparklers for her grandkids. There’s a father loading a shopping cart with his two teenage sons. My mental note-taking is disrupted as I must slide out of the way of a dignified-looking gentleman in a suit and tie carrying a giant box of fireworks.

“What do you like about fireworks?” I ask a few folks. They stare at me a second and sort of frown, as if to say, “What do you mean, ‘Why do I like fireworks? That’s like asking, ‘Why do you like fair weather and free pizza?’”

“The party atmosphere,” says the father of two boys. “We have a Fourth of July picnic every year. My mom — this [crammed shopping cart] is all my mom. She likes her fireworks. She gives us the money and lets us pick.”

“Being around family and hanging out with all of them,” says son number one.

“I like the colors of the fireworks, too,” adds son number two.

Another group tells me fireworks are the essence of a celebration and this year will make a graduation party more festive.

I have always been a big fan of fireworks, but had never shopped for them per se. And I don’t want to. It’s way too hard to choose. The “Party Like It’s 1776” firework, with George Washington in sunglasses flashing deuces beneath two bald eagles, seems like a no-brainer, ‘til I realize it’s made by Winda Fireworks — in China. Then again, the Chinese invented fireworks, I think, and perhaps patriotic packaging will make them more sympathetic to our republic?

Oooh, but the “Wrath of the Beast,” with an image of what appears to be Shrek under demonic possession, is also tempting. So is “Rising Storm” with Revelation-style lighting strikes. And then there’s the “Dragon Slayer” with “maximum fire,” which I think should be self-explanatory at this point. Mini-tanks that “actually drive” and throw sparks bring back memories from my youth, and if I spend $140 more, I get a free Mystic Sundae!

I’m happy to say the right to keep and bear firearms is mostly alive and well, and the “rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in air” will give proof through the night that our constitutional rights are still there (in most states, at least). The Pennsylvania legislature has actually made fireworks laws less restrictive in recent years.

“It used to be mortars were illegal,” my tent vendor tells me. “Now you can launch and sell mortars, which the people love. I know a lot of people would go out of state to get them and bring them back.”

That’s good news for us yinzers, but we still have work to do. No one should be forced to travel to “haven states” for safe and legal fireworks access. And I don’t think even Amazon employees get a stipend for doing so. It’s clear the time has come for Congress to codify the right to keep and bear fireworks into national law.

—Teresa Mull

My favorite paragraph:

Fireworks are as American as apple pie and not kissing people when you greet them. A merchant at one of my local fireworks emporiums (we have three) explains, “A guy was in here the other day and said his neighbor called the cops on him for setting off fireworks and the dispatcher was like…so?”

Now it’s early September 2022.

My Franklin alderwoman, Kristin Wilhelm, demonstrated her anti-business sentiments during a discussion on fireworks regulation at a meeting of the Franklin Common Council when she called for fewer public displays of fireworks.

“I think we should put some kind of cap on how many events per year.”

Wilhelm’s comment was a direct shot at one of Franklin’s finest corporate citizens, the aforementioned Michael Zimmerman, Owner and Executive Officer of Roc Ventures. Zimmerman has staged several fireworks displays at his Milwaukee Milkmen games this season. He also had the audacity to hold impromptu fireworks on the night of July 4th when the city of Franklin questionably canceled their display. Fireworks were also held in August to celebrate the opening of Luxe Golf Displays at Franklin’s Ballpark Commons.

One of Wilhelm’s fondest allies and buddies on the common council Alderman John Nelson, came out with this:

“I don’t agree with having a limitation to the number. Because I don’t believe that’s been a real issue at all. And if a business that wants to celebrate it, have ‘em celebrate it. I don’t want to hamstring somebody who says ‘well we had 10 at the Milkmen games, I’m sorry, Saputo Cheese you can’t do anything.’ I don’t want that.”

Alderwoman Shari Hanneman didn’t exactly help Franklin’s business climate during the discussion. Businesses pay close attention to this stuff.

“If we have a business in the community that is putting on a public fireworks display without the proper permit, how do we handle that? What is the punishment, for lack of a better word? My only concern for that is public safety.”

Mayor Steve Olson: “Right.”

Hanneman: “Because God forbid what if something were to happen? What if an insurance company wasn’t going to cover that? Does that come back on the city? I don’t know.”

God, I absolutely hate the “What if” argument.

No, Shari, you don’t know. Why don’t you know?

Because you, and no one else for that matter, could cite businesses that operated fireworks that caused such damage that the city became horribly liable.

Enter Alderwoman Michelle Eichmann for some common sense.

She saw no need for limiting fireworks. Her district is across the street from Franklin Field and says she’s had very few complaints about the fireworks that were approved this year.

The common sense approaches fell on Wilhelm’s deaf ears.

“If it’s on a weeknight, having one a week is not reasonable. I’m talking one facility over and over and over again.”

Again. A direct kick in the face to Roc Ventures.

Actually fireworks at Franklin Field after Milkmen games this past season were always on a SATURDAY and were NOT scheduled once a week.

In the end the council delayed taking any action on fireworks at that particular meeting.

And what about July 4, 2023?

Franklin’s Civic Celebration Commission decided at its August 22nd meeting to move the 2023 Independence Day parade from July 4th to Sunday July 2.

Such a stupendous idea that no one said diddly about it publically. That is until local realtor (and a fine guy BTW) Doug Malinovich announced it in a video on Facebook.

Doug thinks the move is wonderful. I got news for Doug.


Earth to Doug and the commission:  We don’t honor or celebrate July 2. We honor and celebrate July 4.

Hopefully they come to their senses before next summer and schedule the parade when it’s supposed to be held. On America’s birthday.

My guess is they won’t because common sense is a rare commodity in how we manage Franklin.

Finally in early September I sent an e-mail to Franklin officials who think July 4th should not be celebrated on July 4th.

Holidays shouldn’t be so difficult but apparently they’re really brain busters for the Franklin brain trust.


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We commemorate those who fought in the Vietnam War on National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29. There’s no doubt that the Vietnam War was one of the most brutal. In fact, over three million people were killed during the 20 years it went on. It was known as the Second Indochina War to Americans, and considering its long fighting time and brutality, National Vietnam War Veterans Day was created to honor all the men and women who fought during its time.

The Vietnam War has a long history. It was one of the longest wars involving America. Starting in 1955, the war went on until 1975, making it the second-longest war, aside from the ongoing Afghanistan War. Over 2.7 million Americans served during this war In 1973. All combat and support units withdrew from Vietnam following the war, but it continued to have an impact on many of the families and people affected by the war. 

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is acknowledged on March 29 every year, honoring anyone who served during its 20-year time. Since respect and combat support wasn’t immediately given to those who served after the war ended because of the number of deaths, the day was founded in 2017 to finally offer that respect to everyone involved. 

Understanding that it wasn’t the soldiers’ choices to go to war, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced the legislation proposing the anniversary of the withdrawal of military units from South Vietnam as the date. It was President Donald Trump who signed the Act on March 29, calling for U.S. flags to be flown on this day to honor everyone who served during this time, whether they were in Vietnam or not. 

Every year since it was founded in 2017, this national day has continued to be recognized on March 29. Aside from honoring those who fought, four other parts of this day that are meant to be highlighted are the service of the Armed Forces and support organizations during the war; the wartime contributions at home; the advancements in technology, science, and medicine; and the contributions by American allies.

Every Sunday morning at St. Anthony’s Church on the south side of Milwaukee, my parish since birth, a Hispanic gentleman sits in the last pew with a friend of his. He and I always exchange pleasantries. Throughout the year he proudly wears shirts, caps, and jackets about his military service. This was back in June.

June 28, 2022, was extremely special in Franklin.

The Wall That Heals, a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial along with a mobile Education Center, came to Franklin and was on display from June 30th, through Sunday, July 3rd, 2 p.m., at Franklin High School. The Wall was open 24 hours a day and free to the public.

Read more in this news release.

The touching exhibit arrived in Franklin after its tour stop in Chisholm, Minnesota.

At the of the Wall’s run I blogged on July 3rd:

Help is desperately needed to tear down and pack up the replica. Not nearly enough people have volunteered to do the job. I’m told it’s not very strenuous. They just need people, and lots of them.

Those of you with Fitbits and Apple watches wanting to get your steps in…this would be ideal.

Can you, will you help?

Did they?

Dozens of people turned out.

The effort took 2.5 hours. “Fast pack up” according to the Wall folks.

The Michelle Stempniewski Wienke family of Franklin pitched in.

Overall, more than 8500 attended the replica during its Franklin run.

And finally, I had to find his name.


The bald eagle is a symbol for America.


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On a couple of occasions in 2022 veteran Franklin school board member Linda Witkowski tried to instill some good old-fashioned common sense into her colleagues. Didn’t work.


Franklin High School’s graduation ceremony scheduled back in June once again was held at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. The commencement has been at the stadium the past couple of years as opposed to the Milwaukee County Sports Complex in Franklin where it’s been staged for a long time.

The June 2021 graduation was the subject of discussion at a Franklin School Board meeting on July 14, 2021. Outgoing Franklin School District Administrator Judy Mueller said response to the American Family Field site was positive and recommended the stadium be used again. School board member Angela Bier said every anecdotal comment she heard from a family was supportive. School Board President Mike Spragg agreed.

That’s when school board member Linda Witkowski interjected.

“There’s a policy element to this,” Witkowski said.

“Where should graduation in Franklin be? I think Franklin High School graduation should be in Franklin. We value our community so why would we take this important event somewhere else? Just like 420 other districts around the state of Wisconsin including all our suburban districts except for Oak Creek do it in their own spaces, in their  own stadiums. I hear us thinking Oak Creek does it, that must make it okay.”

Bier asked Witkowski what the Franklin school district was losing by moving graduation to the Brewers’ stadium.

“I can’t think of any justification for any district having it outside their community except for a pandemic,” Witkowski responded.

“I mean we’re taken to a baseball stadium that seats 45,000 and we’re bringing 3,000 people there it seems over the top,” Witkowski continued.

“Before we make the stadium our new normal let’s think about what we want Franklin’s graduation to be. I would offer number one, it should be Franklin. It should be in person. Not on a big screen, not looking through a screen at all. And it should be under our control. Our schedule. Our ceremony.  Our band playing and our choir singing.”

And what about the cost?

“It’s $27,000 to go to American Family Field. We’re committing as a district $27,000 to go to the stadium,” said Witkowski.

Mueller noted the Sports Complex has limitations, seating on bleachers, and no air conditioning.  Poor parking was also brought up during the discussion.

Board member Ann Sepersky said the graduates thought it was amazing to walk on the same field as the Brewers and see pictures on the jumbotron. Bier agreed, saying “That’s the reality of our youth,” raising the eyebrows of Witkowski.

“We’re going to settle for that?” Witkowski said.

Spragg replied, “It’s their graduation.” What a silly comment to say the least. They don’t run the operation, Mr. Spragg. You and your colleagues do.

Witkowski shot back.

“I don’t want to see increased costs. Think about this. What about legislators who see us doing this.  Legislators drive by, ‘oh  there’s another graduation (at the stadium). They don’t need any money.’”

“This is a small price to pay as a district” said board member Maqsood Khan

“Small price? $27,000 for three hours?” a stunned Witkowski replied.

Whether or not to return to American Family Field was not what the board considered an ‘action item” meaning it could be voted up or down by the board. Witkowski said it should have been. What about Franklin Field, ballpark of the Milwaukee Milkmen?

A school board member informed me graduation at Franklin Field was considered at one time. But according to the board member weather, most specifically rain was an issue.

I’m not privy to specifics regarding any discussions between the school district and Franklin Field management. Still I have to wonder how serious the district was in pursuing or considering Franklin Field, and why the district would opt for what certainly was the larger sticker price at American Family Field. My guess is a more favorable offer may have been presented by Franklin Field, or could have been negotiated, if the district was truly interested.

This whole business that the graduates last year were awestruck. Well of course they were! If we’re going to compare the Sports Complex to American Family Filed, the allure of a major league ballpark will win every time.

I concur with Witkowski. But unfortunately her arguments were based on:

1) Common sense

2) Fiscal responsibility

Both concepts are foreign to the administration of the Franklin school district.


This school board does not act by its stated mission, does not aim to foster bridges in this community nor instill hometown pride in its students; this school board does not lead by example nor follow its stated mission.

Graduation expenditures and venue selection impacts our entire city not just the graduates or their families. The word community is often repeated on the district website. Each board member – while campaigning – told us about his or her service to this community. There are many events where the community is invited into the school. When does the board, district, or a school step out to help Franklin? Graduation provides an opportunity for that. I believe it is elitist and ostentatious to host graduation in the just-too-big-for-our-school Family Field in the City of Milwaukee; choosing a venue for FHS graduation outside of Franklin is purely anti-Franklin. Does the school board’s selection set an example for our students that our community, our quality of life, isn’t enough; the grass is greener over there, be more like them? Has the board considered the economic impact of its decision on local businesses, on local restaurants? The decision to hold FHS graduations outside of Franklin opportunistically robs our community of its tax dollars [in renting Family Field], by taking them out of this community and spending them elsewhere. This pandemic made many local small businesses financially vulnerable, and they have been and continue to be robbed by this school district’s decision as well. How many families followed the district’s example (it’s better outside of Franklin) and patronized a proximal business – a Milwaukee restaurant – taking even more revenue out of our Franklin community. Board members have said “it’s not much” [out of the people’s purse, our property taxes] but I disagree. This poor decision affects us all. This decision directly affects all of our neighbors’ quality of life. ⁠ The School Board has the opportunity to support the people and businesses in Franklin. The value they place on this community is reflected in their selection of a graduation venue.

Next time you vote: Please consider building a bridge out, from the district into this city. Please choose board members that lead by example and support Franklin, our community. The graduation venue location should fall within Franklin city limits and align with the district goals and mission.

MY THOUGHT: Excellent!

On June 11, 2022…

Then in October of 2022, another Witkowski effort to get fellow board members to do what’s right.

When you received your city of Franklin property tax bill in the mail it included a pie chart that informed the largest portion of the total Franklin bill by far goes to the Franklin school district: a whopping 40.4 %. Coming in a distant 2nd was the city of Franklin at 24.8%.

When the school board met in October to determine the school budget for next year Witkowski offered a budget amendment to freeze the taxy from last year so there’d be NO school property tax increase.

How did Witkowski propose coming up with a 0% levy increase?

The school district would reduce the tax levy by $1.1 million and increase use of debt service by the same amount. There would be no increase in last year’s school property tax levy.

Witkowski submitted the tax freeze would have essentially no impact on district ooperations.

The other board members were stunned. Shocked. Flabbergasted.

It was as if they were thinking but not saying…

‘Did she just say what I thought she said?”

‘We can’t do that.’

‘That is crazy.’

Member Alan Aleksandrowicz incredulously wondered out loud, on the record, I kid you not, if discussion to freeze taxes was because problems peple are having are due to inflation.

Well, it’s like this Alan and it’s really not that difficult.




Member Debra Larson reacted to Witkowski’s idea.

“This is a very hard time for people. If we can keep the levy flat and we have the ability to do that, we should do that to our citizens. I hear from young families, young  people who are our clients, they want to move to Franklin, they want their children educated in Franklin,  but they can’t…they take a look at the taxes on the homes and they can’t move to Franklin because of the taxes because they then look at their monthly mortgage and they’re saying we can’t afford all of that.”

Normally subdued School Board President Mike Spragg briefly scolded Witkowski for using the word “he” and “they,” a demonstration of where his priorities are. For a few seconds Spragg actually appeared a notch or two above lifeless.

Witkowski’s amendment to make budget modifications to create a tax freeze failed 6-1.

Just a few minutes after Larson who I find to be rather reasonable argued “ If we can keep the levy flat and we have the ability to do that, we should do that to our citizens,” she voted against doing just that. It was, to me, deeply disappointing and surprising given her statement about Witkowski’s amendment and the economic challenges of residents.

In the end the board voted 6-1 in favor of a budget witha 3.3% tax increase that you can see on the insert under the pie chart in your tax bill.

Witkowski in October said, “This is a 3.3% increase. We’ve never seen that before.”

We have now.

Kudos to Witkowski for her common sense moves in 2022, a rarity on the Franklin school board.


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After Franklin’s public school administrator Judy Mueller announced her retirement the school board narrowed down the list of candidates for her replacement to three.

In April a school board member responded to a Franklin parent who raised concerns. The parent told the school board member in part:

I have found that the three candidates chosen are quite polarizing. None of the candidates are strong advocates for student and academic achievement. Instead, their focus is on pushing their own ideologies. I’m shocked we aren’t interviewing candidates that are focused on increasing math and reading scores here in Franklin. Perhaps we should take our time, and do our due diligence, to ensure we find the best candidate?

The school board member replied in part:

The search firm we used recommended a slate of 6 candidates which the Board (with the exception of Dr. Khan, he was out of town) interviewed last week Monday. That list was then narrowed to the 3 candidates you referred to in your email. This week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we interviewed the finalists again, asking that they make a ten minute presentation to us on a specified topic; Recruitment, training and retention of highly qualified staff and with an equity, diversity and inclusion focus. Following these presentations, we interviewed the candidates again with a new set of questions, (all Board members were there for this as well as the final Thursday evening meeting). During the Thursday evening meeting the entire Board debated and debated regarding the best choice for the District. A decision was made, (this is what I am unable to share at this time) a contract to present was discussed and the meeting adjourned. The offer will be made to the finalist today by Mike Spragg, Board President. We do believe it will take a few days before the finalist accepts the contract as there may be some back and forth regarding it.

Take note of what the candidates were asked to discuss: Recruitment, training and retention of highly qualified staff and with an equity, diversity and inclusion focus.

While I appreciated the school board member’s willingness to communicate the mention about a focus on equity and diversity is ridiculous. I feared this might be an emphasis of the administration.

Christopher F. Rufo is founder and director of Battlefront, a public policy research center. He’s the foremost authority on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in America and has written the following that is very important:

There are a series of euphemisms deployed by (CRT) supporters to describe critical race theory, including “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Critical race theorists, masters of language construction, realize that “neo-Marxism” would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere nondiscrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression. 

|In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism.

At the time I wrote “the aforementioned parent is correct. Priority #1 for this school board and the incoming superintendent should be student achievement. Disguised CRT should NOT be a focus, period.”

In May the school board announced it selected Annalee Bennin as the new district administrator starting July 1, 2022. Bennin Bennin had been the superintendent for the Sheboygan Falls District. In choosing Bennin the board dodged a bullet. Bennin couldn’t possibly be worse than the other two candidates.

Prior to the board’s decision, I received correspondences from folks about those being considered.

Here are some of the comments I’ve gotten about Corey Golla, most recently the superintendent at Menomonee Falls:

When all of Waukesha county schools went mask optional last spring Golla dug his heels in. MF was the only school district in all of Waukesha county to keep masks.Golla is a tool of the teachers union and the Progressive party.

You don’t move from Menomonee Falls to Franklin.If he gets in he will he will then in a year or two implement and divide up the grade schools.  One grade school for the 4K-5K, another for 1st grade and 2nd grade and so on. Getting rid of the schools as you know it. Scary thing is, with a backing of a liberal progressive board, he will get it done even if 20,000 residents oppose it, he will do it and not a damn thing can be done about it.

This guy will never ever, ever listen to the parents. He is told what to do by the union and the Democrats.

Look at him, how after 3 moms sworn in to the MF school board he announced leaving for Franklin as if it’s a done deal.

The school board spent $600,000 on air filter systems to “battle Covid.” No other district did. Golla still kept the kids masked up for a whole year.

I also heard from people in the know:

Golla was instrumental in keeping kids in masks while other surrounding districts made masks optional in schools.  This was done to continue receiving government funding and maintain Covid related policies, in direct opposition to parents’ requests to change to optional.

He condoned the segregation of students between vaccinated and unvaccinated in schools.

He supported contact quarantining of healthy kids well after other districts did away with the practice that was detrimental to the achievement of these students.

He instructed teachers and staff not to use any terms keywords like equity, SEL, or CRT in any correspondence so they could not be revealed in open record requests by the public.

Since 2016 average student testing scores have dropped in all MF district schools and the numbers have been skewed to make the district appear to have maintained adequate scores by not revealing all the metrics.

Candidate Stephen Plank ran the Burlington schools.  Both Oak Creek and Burlington school districts rate considerably lower on national comparisons done by Niche and other groups. Niche maintains in-depth profiles on every school and college in America. Another rap on Plank was that he presided over a racilaly hostil environment in the Burlington schools.

Comments I got about Bennin:






The Franklin school board opted for Bennin.

Here’s Bennin’s generous contract.

And finally…

Equity does not equal equality.


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