Category Archives: Politics

Supervisor Jursik To Not Seek Another Term

South Shore Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik announced today she will not be seeking another term on the County Board.

From her newsletter

On Tuesday, November 24, 2016, I filed my Declaration of Non-Candidacy for the position I have held since 2007. This is the formal document indicating that I will not seek re-election for the office of County Supervisor in District 8.

It has been both a privilege and a deep personal honor to represent my fellow citizens in the South Shore of Milwaukee County. Our government is formed to allow a single individual to represent many in the particular level of government in which they serve. I have never lost sight of this representative capacity. I know you may not always have agreed with my decisions, but I hope you always felt that I was trying my best to represent our larger district and the best interests of the people. I found that this is no easy task since you will always be “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” in some circles. This being said, it has nearly always been my experience that the people of District 8 are good, hard working folks that are fair minded and grounded in common sense.

I have filed my papers well before the actual deadline of December 28, 2015 in order to give those interested in running a full month to gather signatures on nomination papers. I do ask that all voters to learn about these candidates and remember that citizenship not only includes rights but also responsibilities. Please be an informed voter. I will not endorse any candidate. This is your job, not mine.

My last day in office is April 17, 2016. I will continue to fulfill my duties until that time. God bless all of our fellow citizens in the great South Shore of Milwaukee County.

I have mixed emotions about this. While I wish Pat all the best in her retirement, I will miss her deeply in this role.

We are losing a strong, caring and tireless advocate for South Milwaukee and the entire South Shore. I respect Pat tremendously, and, while we didn’t agree on every issue (we did on most), I wish I had four more years to work with her on priorities like enhancing our parks, revitalizing the Oak Creek watershed, economic development, and other important issues.

Good luck, Pat.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Politics, South Milwaukee

Local Candidates Mount Challenges In Spring Election

There will be competition for two South Milwaukee Common Council seats and the School Board this spring.

Paperwork from perspective candidates was due by close of business Tuesday, and here is an early look at your April 7 ballot …

  • South Milwaukee City Council: There will be competition in the First and Second Districts. In the First District, Frank Disco Gratke will challenge incumbent Ald. Craig Maass and Frank Van Dusen III. In the Second District, challengers Michael A. Johnson and Larry Pagelsdorf will challenge incumbents R. Patrick Stoner and Ramon Navarro. There will be no ballot competition for aldermen in the Third (Joe Bukowski and Lisa Pieper) and Fourth (Peggy Clark and David Bartoshevich) Districts.
  • South Milwaukee School Board: There will be three candidates for two seats. Challengers Jeffrey Dess and Jon Shelenske will compete against incumbent David Maass.

Candidates in the city and school elections are seeking three-year terms.

I’ll keep you posted as these races unfold.

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Filed under 2015 Elections, Politics, South Milwaukee

In-Person Absentee Voting Open

In-person absentee voting is now open at City Hall for the August 12 partisan primary election.

You can vote in person at the clerk’s office during normal business hours through 5 p.m. on Friday, August 8.

Check out a sample ballot here. Here is a link to the city’s general election information page.

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Filed under 2014 Elections, Politics, South Milwaukee

Three 21st Assembly District Candidates Enter The Fray

Update: And, now, a fourth

Three Republicans have stepped up so far …

An Oak Creek alderman, a school choice champion and tea party leader.

Here is the Oak Creek Patch story on Jessie Rodriguez and Larry Gamble. And here is the story on Ken Gehl.

I’ll keep you posted … and post your comments below!

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Filed under 2012 Elections, Oak Creek, Politics, South Milwaukee, State Lawmakers

South Milwaukee Police Department Files Annual Report

Like the fire department report, the South Milwaukee Police Department’s 2012 annual report is full of in-depth information on the work the department does to keep our community safe.

See it here. Some good news/bad news on crime figures:

  • Property crime reports were down to their lowest levels in at least five years, with 450 reports in 2012, compared with 513 in 2011 and 595 in 2010.
  • Clearance rates were also at their highest levels in at least five years, at 39.6%.
  • Of biggest concern, violent crime increased to its highest level in at least five years, with 40 incidents reported, compared with 16 in both 2011 and 2010. An increase in aggravated assault drove most of the increase.

Of course, the report has much more information than this, including shift highlights and details on the 2011 department awards.

Thanks again to all of our police officers for their efforts. They are never forgotten.

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New Senate Minority Leader: Chris Larson

Sen. Chris Larson, who represents South Milwaukee, is the new Senate minority leader.

See the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here. From it:

Senate Democrats elected 32-year-old freshman Chris Larson of Milwaukee as minority leader on Tuesday. Larson was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after beating a more conservative Democrat in a primary and since then has been a reliable part of his party’s liberal wing.

With Larson’s relative inexperience, some Republicans signaled Tuesday that they thought he would be ineffective as a leader.

“Obviously, I’m new,” Larson said in a brief interview after the closed-door caucus vote. “But I think I’ve made that up in the work that I’ve done over the last two years speaking up and speaking to the issues that matter to our constituency, the middle class, the people who are blue-collar workers.”

Vos of Rochester, elected speaker as expected, made a plea for bipartisanship. But he also made comments undercutting Larson even before his appointment was announced.

Vos told his GOP colleagues about the selection of Larson even as Senate Democrats were still in closed caucus. Assembly Republicans at first didn’t believe Vos.

“Are you kidding me?” one of them asked.

“Sometimes, God gives you a gift,” Vos responded.

Well, what do you think? Post your comments below!


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Sullivan: No On Gubernatorial Bid, U.S. Senate Bid “Unlikely”

I just came across a recent Business Journal story on Tim Sullivan’s political future.

The former Bucyrus CEO told the newspaper that a run against Gov. Scott Walker in a gubernatorial recall election is not in the cards, and he said a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012 is still uncertain at best.

Check out the story here, keeping in mind that in the print edition of this story, Sullivan labeled his chances at running to replace Sen. Herb Kohl “unlikely.”

What do think of Sullivan as a candidate? Post your comments below!

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Redistricting In South Milwaukee: Minimal Changes

The 4th District just got a bit smaller – by a few blocks. It had to by law.

The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a redistricting plan that includes a minor reshaping of the city’s four aldermanic districts to reflect population changes with the 2010 Census.

This process must happen every 10 years to ensure that each aldermanic district includes approximately the same amount of people – plus or minus 2 percent of the average.

In this case, the 4th District was a bit too large, so it “lost” a few blocks to other districts. Essentially, the district now ends at Milwaukee Avenue to the south, with residents on Madison and Michigan Avenues previously served by the 4th District now moving into the 3rd District. Other wards saw minor changes in the Third District as well.

We didn’t see much change this time around because of the city’s relatively static population, and because the county and state didn’t make any changes to the definition of its South Milwaukee districts.

The changes that did occur actually clean up the aldermanic map, making it look more like four square quadrants than the jagged-line map of old. This is a good thing, as it reduces some of the complexity of districts (and the wards that make up them) and gives people a better idea of who represents them on the City Council.

See what I mean here.

The changes take effect immediately. Those affected will get a postcard informing them of the changes before the spring election.

If you have any questions on this process, please do not hesitate to contact me. And, of course, please post your comments below.

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How We’ll Fill Mike Karbowski’s Council Seat

The next First District alderman will be chosen by the council … and then by the people.

The City Council, at its meeting Tuesday night, approved the process by which we’ll replace Mike Karbowski, who died too soon on June 14 after a battle with cancer.

(That said, I’d argue we can never “replace” someone like Mike.)

Mike was just elected in April, and his term, like everyone’s on the council, runs through April of 2013. So here is how that term will be filled:

  • Later this summer, the City Council will appoint someone to fill Mike’s term through April of 2012. Interested First District residents must submit their applications to City Hall by July 15, and we will meet on July 26 to begin the selection process. That person would then take office August 16.
  • Voters will then pick Mike’s replacement in April of 2012, with that race added to the ballot with the mayoral, clerk, treasurer, municipal judge and city attorney races. The person who wins that race will then serve a one-year team, until April of 2013.

I’ll keep you posted as this process plays out. I expect interest to be high, judging by the fact that there were at least two interested candidates in attendance at tonight’s council meeting.

Of course, let’s also not forget the reason we’re doing this in the first place. We lost a good man and strong political voice for the First District in Mike Karbowski last week, and he will be be dearly missed.

Rest in peace, Mike. My prayers are with your family and friends.


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“Sullivan for Senate” Talk Heats Up

Tim Sullivan for Senate?

The talk has been hard to avoid in the past couple weeks, as more and more media outlets pick up on the story.

Sullivan, for example, sat down with WTMJ-TV over the weekend and said he would not announce any decision on whether or not to run for outgoing Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat until after Catperillar’s acquisition of Bucyrus is completed this summer. He wouldn’t even reveal his political party.

Check out the interview here.

And check out Sullivan stories from the Journal Sentinel, Business Journal and Even the Washington Post is weighing in.

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Tim Sullivan for Senate?

I must admit, I did not see this coming.

But he certainly has a strong business background, and Ron Johnson has proven you can win a Senate seat with those credentials. And with Paul Ryan announcing he is not running, the field is a bit more open.

Check out the story from WTMJ-TV here.

What do you think? Post your comments below, and vote in my new poll!

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Good Ore Bad? Honadel Pushes Legislation to Streamline Mine Approval Process

South Milwaukee Rep. Mark Honadel has taken an interest in mining … and with his district being home to the world’s largest mining equipment manufacturer, it makes perfect sense.

But is what he’s proposing the right thing to do?

Honadel was quoted extensively in a story on Friday about two proposed, and controversial, mines in northern Wisconsin. One would mine iron ore near the tiny Ashland County town of Mellen, and the other is a gold mine near Wausau.

From the Small Business Times article:

A report released recently by Madison-based NorthStar Economics Inc. estimates the iron ore mine would create 3,175 jobs a year over a two-year period just to build it. Once the mine begins operating it would support 2,834 jobs in a 12-county region, including 700 mining jobs, the NorthStar report says. The total economic impact from the mine’s operations would be $604 million a year, the report says.

“This is such a good thing for Wisconsin,” said state Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, who plans to introduce legislation to change the approval process for iron ore mines. “It’s going to be great for our state.”

Honadel plans to introduce a bill that would make it easier for iron ore mines, such as the one planned by Gogebic Taconite, to be approved. Iron ore mines should be reviewed in a separate process from how sulfide mine proposals, such as the possible gold mine near Wausau, are reviewed, he said. …

“Having only one set of standards (for all metallic mines) in the state really hinders Wisconsin from becoming a mover and a shaker in the iron ore mining industry,” he said. “If a (mining) company knows there is solid legislation in place and it’s fair for everybody, then they have peace of mind to still invest in Wisconsin.”

Honadel said most of his bill, which will be introduced soon, contains existing DNR regulations for mines.

“We want to keep our good air, water and wetland stuff in place,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am for this bill.”

Honadel said a major reason he is interested in the iron ore mine proposal, which is located far from his district, is because South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International Inc. plans to sell equipment for the mine.

The economic benefit the state would receive from an iron ore mine would be significant, Honadel said. Bucyrus, which is being acquired by Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc., is just one of several companies in the state that could benefit, he said.

“This is going to be in place for a couple of generations of good family-supporting jobs,” Honadel said. “Mills could pop up to process the iron ore. This is going to be a huge, huge deal.”

Of course, not everyone is so enamored with the prospect of the two mines, especially the iron ore mine, nor the potential legislation, which, like the rest of Madison Republicans’ agenda these days, is being fast-tracked.

There are indeed serious environmental concerns with the mines and the prospect of speeding up the review process. This includes potential language in the Senate version of the bill that would reportedly (and amazingly, if true) state that mining permit applicants no longer would be “required to include a risk assessment of accidental health or environmental hazards potentially associated with the mining operations.” That is according to a draft copy of the bill obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio.

I’ll keep you posted on this issue.

In the meantime, I’d like to know what you think. Post your comments below!


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Wrong Course: Fast-Tracked Legislative Agendas Should Offend Everyone (Even Those in Charge)

Dismantling collective bargaining for public employees. Major changes in school funding and state health care programs. Voter ID. School voucher expansion. Telecom deregulation. Concealed carry. Disbanding RTAs, reshaping the DNR, the early release of some felons, removing the mandate to disinfect drinking water … and the list goes on.

Yes, Gov. Scott Walker and Madison Republicans are moving at record speed to pass significant legislation that approximately half the state disagrees with … in part because they may soon lose their ability to do it.

Check out this story from The Associated Press, which quotes Republican legislative leaders as saying that the looming Senate recalls are indeed driving some of this urgency. From it:

“Everything’s been accelerated,” said Republican Rep. Gary Tauchen, who is working on the photo ID bill. “We’ve got a lot of big bills we’re trying to get done.”

I don’t want to get in a policy debate over each and every one of these issues, although readers of this blog certainly know where I come down on most of them, and I’ll probably post individually on some of these issues in coming days and weeks.

My point is a bigger one, that these types of legislative sprints – ramming through key legislation with wide-ranging impacts simply because your time in power might be running out – are wrong on their face.

And they are wrong no matter which party is leading the effort. Democrats, Republicans – this has happened under both parties and on all levels of government – I don’t care. No political body should feel empowered to fast-track significant legislation with minimal debate (a day or two in some cases on some of these bills) in order to guarantee passage before the countdown clock hits zero.

It’s not democratic (small d). It’s not good government. It’s not right.

This reminds me of the early days of Barack Obama’s presidency or, better yet, the lame lameduck session in Madison last fall, when Democrats, knowing the hourglass had flipped, attempted to ram through wide-ranging legislation that included springing a lawmaker from jail to pass new state union contracts.

I disagreed with those attempts then, and I disagree with what the governor and Republicans are doing now.

The voters will speak this summer, either endorsing the Senate majority or not. Let them be heard … because in this desperate race against time, everyone loses.


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Politics Get Ugly on the Milwaukee County Board … and Jursik Pays an Unfair Price

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway has stripped South Shore Supervisor Pat Jursik of her Personnel Committee chairmanship and dropped her from the key Finance Committee following Jursik’s opposition to a Holloway hiring earlier this year.

Surprising? No. Mean-spirited, under-handed and desperate? Yes.

But this is apparently how the game is played on the County Board, Lee Holloway’s County Board, where the focus is too often on personal squabbles vs. finding solutions to the daunting issues of the day.

This Journal Sentinel story sums it up pretty well … and shows exactly why people are growing increasingly frustrated, disgusted even, at politics and politicians these days.

From it:

The drama started when Holloway, during his brief stint as acting county executive, hired Renee Booker to lead the county’s Department of Administrative Services. Holloway automatically took over as county executive after then-County Executive Scott Walker was elected governor.

Jursik spearheaded a successful effort to block the Booker nomination, saying it was inappropriate for Holloway to fill such a key job when Holloway was serving in a caretaker role.

Holloway withdrew the nomination when it became apparent he couldn’t get Booker confirmed.

Jursik said she had no doubt that having her committee chairmanship removed and being taken off the board’s finance committee was Holloway’s way of punishing her.

“Of course it is,” Jursik said. “I was expecting this . . . I stated in committee I would probably lose a chairmanship over (Holloway’s Booker appointment), and that’s what happened.”

I stand behind Jursik on this, and most, issues. She is a strong representative for South Milwaukee and a passionate, intelligent and hard-working leader for her constituents.

She deserves better. So does the county.

What do you think of this? Post your comments below!


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County Board Redistricting Means Little to the South Shore

Update: It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my concerns about the tepid, at best, redistricting plan put forth by the board.

In her latest eNews update, Supervisor Pat Jursik has shed some light on the local impact of the looming Milwaukee County Board redistricting. The answer? Essentially none.

Here is the item from the update …

I support reducing the overall number of supervisors on the Milwaukee County Board.  A plan for 15 districts (a reduction of 4) was submitted to the Board and I voted for this plan.  After this failed, I offered a compromise plan reducing districts to 17.  This also failed to get a majority.  I could not support the staff plan for 18 supervisory districts (a reduction from the current 19).  Under the 18 plan, which is on track to take effect in April 2012, our 8th District will continue to include the entire cities of St. Francis, Cudahy and South Milwaukee and add approximately 600 more Oak Creek residents.

Check out the Journal Sentinel story on the redistricting plan here.

I am glad to read that Supervisor Jursik supported a plan calling for further redistricting, as I don’t think the plan approved by the board goes nearly far enough. Nineteen full-time supervisors is too many, just as 25 was too many until 2004.

So how many is enough? Better put, how many is too few?

I’m honestly not sure, but I’d like to see the debate bend to the bold and less to the types of half-measures that the board passed earlier this month. Want a good place to start the discussion? Try the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Make it Your Milwaukee initiative.

Of course, I’d like to know what you think of this issue. Please post your comments below.



Filed under Politics