Tag Archives: Chris Abele

For A Smoother Parkway

Oak Creek Parkway road

Milwaukee County is proposing to spend close to $1 million to rebuild Oak Creek Parkway from the railroad trestle near South Milwaukee High School, east to Chicago Avenue.

The project, contained in the county’s recently released capital budget proposal and pushed by Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and County Executive Chris Abele, would begin in 2016 with planning and design, with the construction work being done in 2017. From the capital budget plan …

The project scope for 2017 work is anticipated to include reconstruction of the storm sewer and pavement systems. Storm water best management practices and green infrastructure is included. Replacement of municipal utilities such as sanitary sewers, water mains, and storm sewers are being coordinated with this project.

I ask that the full county board approve this plan. If you’ve driven this stretch lately, you know it’s necessary work — or, as the budget plan puts it, a “highest priority” project for a road in need of “immediate renovation.”

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Filed under Construction, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

Reminder: Meet Me (And County Executive Chris Abele) On Saturday

Just a quick note that my next Meet the Mayor session is this Saturday, Nov. 15, at Mears Online Auctions, located in the old St. Mary’s Hall at 1234 Manitoba Ave. in South Milwaukee.

And I’ll be joined from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by a special guest: Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Thanks to Mears for hosting the event. You’ll be amazed at what owner Troy Kinunen has done with the place. The coolest part — a “mini Cooperstown” (my term) museum that features sports and other collectibles that will blow your mind.

Questions, comments, concerns … all are welcome. And thanks to County Executive Abele for being a part of this.

See you Saturday!

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Filed under Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

County Budget Update: Money For Grant Park Trails, Oak Creek And More

County Executive Chris Abele’s budget includes some strong support for the South Shore and South Milwaukee.

Now, there are still lots of moving parts with this process as the Milwaukee County Board weighs the document and makes its own changes, but things look promising for our fair city.

Check out details on the proposed budget here. And County Supervisor Patricia Jursik has her take on it in her newly published newsletter. From the newsletter …

New for District 8

  • $378,500.00 is provided for remediation of the Warnimont Park site that has once been used as a dump site. Our ancestors did not always consider the consequences of using a natural ravine as a place to dump garbage. Even today, illegal dumping takes place in our parks. Please report any sighting of trash/ rubbish dumping of any kind.
  • $324,000 continues to be the funding planned for the Oak Creek stream bed stabilization in 2016. This must first be done before looking at dredging of the pond. However, the Parks Department is spending $10,000 to test the silt to understand if it is contaminated which would impact the cost.

Bike Trail Replacement

District 8 will benefit from $500,000 for Sheridan/Warnimont trail replacement which is still pending from 2014 projects plus a new $830,000 for Grant Park. Both projects should be done at the same time. Our trails are among the oldest in the system.

Bus Route Extension

Route 80 on Howell Avenue will be extended to provide service to the future Drexel Town Square. The City of Oak Creek has been requesting an extension and my office was proud to move this request forward. Our Route 55 on Layton will intersect with Route 80 at Layton and Howell Avenues. Bus riders can now connect to Woodman’s, Target, and Kohls in Oak Creek. In addition, persons 65 and older or persons with disabilities, with a valid ID or Medicare card, are now eligible for free-fare rides.

There is a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I will keep you posted.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

Meet The Mayor: County Executive Chris Abele Joins Me On November 15

My next Meet the Mayor session is Saturday, Nov. 15, and I’m proud to announce a special guest will be joining me: Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and here’s another reason to stop by — Mears Online Auctions is hosting the event.

Haven’t been to Mears? You really need to check it out. Mears is located in the old St. Mary’s Hall at 1234 Manitoba Ave., and you’ll be amazed at what owner Troy Kinunen has done with the place. The coolest part — a “mini Cooperstown” (my term) museum that features sports and other collectibles that will blow your mind.

County Executive Abele and I hope to see you there, even if it’s just to check out Troy’s cool space.

Questions, comments, concerns … all are welcome. And thanks to County Executive Abele for being a part of this.

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Filed under Erik Brooks, South Milwaukee

Guest Blog: County Supervisor Pat Jursik Provides Budget Insights

I asked South Shore Supervisor Pat Jursik for her thoughts on the county executive’s proposed budget, and I just received the following message. A big thank you to Supervisor Jursik for doing this — and continuing to keep her constituents informed on key issues. One note from her information: It looks like Grobschmidt Pool is not on the chopping block. For now. 

The County Executives’s budget proposes a no tax levy increase budget.  Since I agree that our local property taxes are too high and too many services are supported via property taxes, I always appreciate this starting point.  Milwaukee County is still dealing with a 15 million dollar deficit this year and this will again be a budget that has limited ability to address many deferred issues of maintenance.  Much of the deficit is caused by paying legacy (retirees) pension and health benefits, promises that were made dating back into the 1970s.

Since I sit on the Finance Committee, I will have a front seat to both the review and amendment of this proposed budget.  Here are some of the issues that the Finance Committee will be facing in the 2014 budget:

Sheriff:  This department experiences the greatest change.  Like last year, the county executive is proposing that parks be patrolled by the local police with money awarded to local department.  This will eliminate over 30 positions.  Milwaukee gets the largest payment and our local cities would each see about $10,000.  While I opposed this last year, I was disappointed in the actual hours our parks received from the Sheriff.  Our local police departments still provide the primary response to the parks in the south shore.  I will re-examine this in light of the realities of services provided. Several functions that were once under the Sheriff’s Dept. are being shifted to other departments.  This includes Emergency Management, Training Academy, and House of Correction taking on some functions once administered in the Sheriff’s Dept.  The House of Correction is now run by a Superintendent, Michael Haffeman.  I toured the House in September and was impressed with the programs given the short turn around time provided.

Transit:  The good news is no bus service reductions are proposed.  I have had to fight many battles to keep bus service in South Milwaukee in past years.  The main change is a $1.00 reduction in the fares for para-transit riders, disabled users.  A mistake was made in preparing the budget and this actually causes the budged to be 1.5 million out of balance.  The county executive is proposing use of contingency funds to make up this deficit, i.e. reduce the money he put into contingency and shift it to cover this mistake.

Parks:  Even though the Parks Interim Director, John Dargle, stated in Parks Committee that Grobschkmidt Pool was to be closed, it is not shown in the proposed budget.  The only closures detailed are the two indoor pools, Pulaski and Noyes.  I will continue to watch this South Milwaukee amenity.  There are no significant changes to our Parks Dept. except that the county executive is proposing the sale of O’Donnell Square to Northwestern Mutual.  I am highly critical of placing this item in the budget.  The county executive has not done his homework on this and has failed to address significant issues surrounding the users of O’Donnell.  Northwestern Mutual is an outstanding corporate citizen, and this company should not be treated in this manner by the executive’s office.  I want to make it clear going forward that any issues regarding this parking garage do not in any way reflect on this great company.  My proposal is to completely remove the O’Donnell sale from this budget.  Many stake holders must be considered in addressing lake front parking, Summerfest, Milwaukee Art Museum, War Memorial, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Coast Restaurant just to name a few without the regular park users and week day business users.

Behavioral Health:  The county executive’s budget continues to plan the redesign of our mental health services.  Significant new money is put into community services as a means of down-sizing the hospital enrollments.  A new Crisis Service Coordinator is created to manage new initiatives.  A Crisis Mobile Team is also new and will work directly with Police Officers on emergency commitments.  A second clinic is created on the Southside to provide community care as an alternate to emergency detentions.  I largely support the direction of these initiatives.  This redesign will cause many job losses in the health fields and will prove to be an adjustment for many workers.  This is always a difficult issue to deal with.

Capital Improvements:  We will see some improvements to Layton Avenue including the intersection of Whitnall and also Pennsylvania.  Kelly Center will get a new front door.  There is some on going maintenance projects for parks and highways although no large projects for our district.  There will be continued funding for Noise Abatement at the airport to cover some 700 affected properties,.  The War Memorial will continue with major capital repairs and the Milwaukee Art Museum will embark on a new project to enhance the museum, these are the most exciting new projects.  The projects were made possible by the new agreements that the board forged with these two institutions.

There are many other areas of the budget that have not been addressed in this short article but will be reviewed.  The public hearing on the budget is November 4 at 4:00 p.m. at the War Memorial Center.    I am always interested in hearing from constituents on these issues:  278-4231 or patricia.jursik@milwcnty.com

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Filed under 2014 Budget, Milwaukee County

Grobschmidt Pool On Budget Chopping Block — Park Patrols, Too

Update: Or is Grobschmidt Pool not on the chopping block? The updated Journal Sentinel story says it might not be. I’ll try and get to the bottom of this. From that story … “Abele said the indoor pools were aging, expensive to maintain and not heavily patronized. Interim Parks Director John Dargle said earlier the budget would include closing outdoor pools at Grobschmidt and Jackson parks. But those closings were not listed in Abele’s budget.”

It’s official — South Milwaukee’s Grobschmidt Pool is on the budget chopping block. Can it be saved?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more details on County Executive Chris Abele’s proposed budget. From the story …

County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said the tax levy freeze needed to be evaluated in light of the county’s huge service needs, as well as substantial deferred maintenance on county buildings.

“There needs to be a balance” between the goals of providing necessary services and freezing taxes, she said. The board added $4 million to the tax levy over what Abele proposed for this year’s budget.

She called Abele’s plan to close both of the county’s indoor pools and replace them with a skate board park and splash pad “basically offensive.” Abele wants to shut down pools at Noyes and Pulaski parks, as well as outdoor pools at Grobschmidt and Jackson parks.

Abele said the indoor pools were aging, expensive to maintain and not heavily patronized. Dimitrijevic said the more than 50,000 residents using the indoor pools indicated they are well used and said she’d gotten numerous phone calls and emails of concern since Abele’s pool plan was first discussed last week.

Just as concerning for South Milwaukee and our police department — the proposal to put park patrols in the hands of local departments. In a city where more than 20 percent of our land is parks, that’s a big deal, especially when I have my doubts there will be proper funding for this mandate.

Abele also released more details of his public safety budget, including a $1.2 million program to have local police departments patrol county parks. The City of Milwaukee would get the lion’s share — about $1 million for patrolling the lakefront and other parks in the city. Off-duty cops would handle the patrols and get paid overtime, if the city agrees to the plan.

The same idea was rejected last year by the County Board and opposed by Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., who requested 100 new deputies for 2014.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Filed under 2014 Budget, Milwaukee County

Jursik: “Disappointed” With Proposed Budget

Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik shares her thoughts on the proposed 2013 county budget in her latest eNews update.

Check it out here. From it:

The County Executive’s proposed budget includes some upgrades for our district. We will see traffic cameras at Layton & Packard Avenues. Grant Park’s Wil-O-Way will receive needed repairs. The Oak Creek Parkway in South Milwaukee will have lighting replaced in advance of expected road repairs in future years. I have worked with our parks and environmental engineering staff to fund stream bank stabilization for the Oak Creek in 2014. This bank restoration will keep much sediment from accumulating in the Creek and in the Mill Pond downstream. However, in many ways, I was disappointed with the proposed budget.

The update also includes on park patrolling, paramedic funding, long-range facility planning and other issues.

The item on paramedic funding is especially good news:

The FPA Committee added $500,000 in funding for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), bringing the total allocation to $2 million.  The countywide EMS program is a successful cooperative model that includes training, certification and continuing education of Emergency Medical Technicians (basic and paramedic).  Milwaukee County EMS hosts the Communications Center which provides consultation to  paramedics onsite and shares information among dispatched paramedics, ambulances, medical control physicians, hospitals and other emergency personnel.  Milwaukee County EMS uses state-of-the-art technology to develop electronic patient care records. 

This program improves the quality and efficiency of emergency response in our community. Under the EMS program, eight municipalities have contractual agreements to provide Advanced Life Support (paramedic-level emergency medical services).  The City of South Milwaukee provides service to Cudahy while St. Francis is served by Milwaukee.  Oak Creek provides service in its own city and back-up service to other cities.  This is truly a metro government approach.

The County Board will likely adopt a budget on Monday.

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Filed under Milwaukee County

Jursik Works To Slow Proposed Transit Center Redevelopment Project

Update: The project will apparently appear on the agenda at a special meeting, according to the Journal Sentinel.

A dispute between County Executive Chris Abele and South Shore Supervisor Pat Jursik means a key county committee won’t consider a high-rise proposed for the Transit Center site until September.

Here is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on the delay. From it:

Jursik said the approval process was badly damaged when Abele decided to announce his recommendation of developer Rick Barrett’s plan. Barrett’s high-rise proposal is one of four competing ideas filed by developers for the 2.2-acre transit center site, 909 E. Michigan St.

The committee should have first reviewed all four proposals in closed session to protect their proprietary information, Jursik said. The state’s public meetings law allows such closed sessions for that purpose, but requires any votes to then be taken in open session.

That step would have given committee members a chance to evaluate the proposals and decide which one was the best, Jursik said.

Now that Abele has recommended Barrett’s proposal, Jursik said she’s hearing from opponents. She said delaying a committee vote on authorizing negotiations until the next committee meeting, which is Sept. 17 because of the board’s August recess, will allow for more public comment.

County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has joined Jursik in supporting the delay.

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Jursik-Abele Dispute In The News And Other Headlines

Check out these headlines from around the South Shore:

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Pat Jursik Weighs In On Abele’s Budget Proposal And Other South Shore Headlines

Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik has her reaction to County Executive Chris Abele’s proposed 2012 budget in her most recent email newsletter.

Check it out here. From it:

I think the County Executive hit the correct priorities while still holding the line on property taxes, which are too high. Of course, the devil is in the details, and we will spend all of October reviewing. I do not agree with the County Executive’s proposal to remove support for Emergency Medical Services. I look forward to a productive budget session in which the Executive works with the Board for the good of Milwaukee County residents.

The newsletter contains some good updates on what Abele is proposing — and its imapct on the South Shore. It’s worth a read.

And also check out these headlines from the South Shore:

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Painful Repercussions: Proposed County Paramedic Funding Cut Will Cost South Milwaukee

People have been waiting for weeks to see just how Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele will address a projected shortfall of $55 million in his 2012 county budget.

One detail emerged Tuesday: a proposal eliminating the county’s subsidy to communities for paramedic service.

Check out the Journal Sentinel story here.

This is a big deal for the communities that provide this service — including South Milwaukee. Elimination of this funding would leave an approximately $300,000 hole in our budget for 2012, making our work in crafting a responsible budget even tougher in coming months.

I’ll keep you posted as we go through this process. In the meantime, why not call Abele and urge him not to make this cut? We must maintain our high level of paramedic service, and this proposed cut makes that much more difficult.

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Filed under 2012 Budget

Big Turnout: Tallying Tuesday’s South Milwaukee Election Results

The results are in, and one big headline is the turnout.

More than 5,700 of the city’s 13,378 eligible voters turned out to vote on Tuesday — or 42.8%. This is significantly higher than projected … and surely a sign of the contentious political times we’re in.

You can see South Milwaukee’s election results here.

Among the highlights:

  • The 1st District aldermanic race, the only contested City Council contest, wasn’t very close in the end, with incumbent Mike Karbowski and newcomer Craig Maass coming out on top. Mike Moeller finished third.
  • The rest of the council won re-election in uncontested races. I finished with 727 votes to David Bartoshevich’s 919. Ray Navarro and Pat Stoner will represent the 2nd District, and Lisa Pieper and Joe Bukowski will continue to represent the 3rd District.
  • Three incumbents — John Haslam, Pat Bordak and Carol Dufek — will return to the South Milwaukee School Board for three more years. They were the only three names on the ballot Tuesday.
  • In a further sign of South Milwaukee’s strong Republican leanings in recent elections, Jeff Stone outpolled Chris Abele in the race for Milwaukee County executive, 50.5% to 49.1% — this despite Abele easily winning countywide.
  • Additionally, David Prosser easily outdistanced Joanne Kloppenburg, 53.5% to 46.3%, in a state Supreme Court race that was evenly split statewide.

I will close with a thank you to everyone who voted for me on Tuesday. I look forward to serving the residents of the 4th District for two more years and hopefully more, providing a strong and distinct voice for my constituents and delivering new ideas and a fresh perspective to local government.

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Following Up on the Forum

Update: Check out news coverage from Fox 6 and Oak Creek Patch.

Wednesday night’s South Shore Economic Development Forum was well-intentioned, well-done and well-received, and it was a good way to remind county executive candidates Rep. Jeff Stone and Chris Abele about some of the bigger issues facing our area.

An estimated (my estimate) 150 to 200 people joined Stone, Abele, the mayors of South Milwaukee, Cudahy and St. Francis and Milwaukee County Supervisors Pat Jursik and Marina Dimitrijevic at the forum. Issues discussed included the future of the Hoan Bridge, the extension of the Lake Parkway, the Aerotropolis concept, preserving and enhancing our parks and transit, and water concerns.

A few observations:

  • Perhaps a couple dozen anti-Walker protesters gathered before the meeting at the entrance to the South Milwaukee Peforming Arts Center parking lot.
  • The mayors seemed unified on every issue discussed, certainly a good thing as we work to stand up for our common interests. That said, it would have been nice to have Oak’s Creek’s mayor be part of that discussion. He was not there.
  • I also thought there was too much mayoral/supervisor roundtable and not enough candidate forum. There was only time for three or four questions for Stone and Abele despite dozens being submitted by audience members. Abele arriving 30 minutes late didn’t help.
  • The most interesting question posed to the candidates was one asking how each feels he differs philosophically from Gov. Scott Walker, the former county executive. Abele answered it by focusing on his differences with Walker over the right to collectively bargain and the handling of the budget repair bill. Stone chose not to answer the question … and deftly turned it into a chance to say how he is Jeff Stone, not Scott Walker.
  • Another interesting question was around the concept of “metropolitan government.” The concept was roundly panned as potentially hurting community identity, although there was more support offered around at least the concept of consolidation of certain local services.
  • Airport privatization was also broadly dismissed, with one panelist calling it “a solution in search of a problem.” With the airport drawing record traffic and its future brighter than ever, there seemed little appetite by either executive candidate to pursue the concept once pushed by Walker.
  • The longest sustained applause and only standing ovation of the evening was directed at state Sen. Chris Larson, who Dimitrijevic announced as being in attendance early in the forum. Larson stayed well after the forum, longer than Abele or Stone, talking to constituents and even posing for pictures.

Jursik and Dimitrijevic should get a lot of credit for putting this together and working to keep the South Shore top of mind as we pick a new executive. We need to make sure we continue to be part of that conversation.

Were you at the forum? I’d like to know what you think. Post your comments below.

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Filed under Politics

Debating Debates: Stone, Abele and Wednesday’s South Shore Forum

I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s South Shore Economic Development Forum, and I give Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik for taking the lead in putting it together.

I am expecting an open, honest and robust discussion about some of the important issues facing the collective economies of South Milwaukee, St. Francis, Cudahy and Oak Creek. There are many … including many that we can, and should, tackle together.

One thing the forum won’t be, however, is a debate. So while the two candidates for Milwaukee County executive are scheduled to be there, state Rep. Jeff Stone and philanthropist Chris Abele will probably not interact much during the event.

Stone is raising Abele’s alleged unwillingness to debate as an issue in the campaign, even as the two candidates appear in 12 forums similar to next week’s before the April 5 election. Check out the Journal Sentinel story here. From it:

Stone called Abele’s rejection of debates a disservice to voters. The sessions Abele has accepted don’t allow an “opportunity for an exchange or a real, true debate of the ideas,” Stone said.

Abele spokesman Brandon Lorenz called Stone’s criticism “a desperate charge from someone who skipped out on two forums in the primary.” Stone did not attend the final two of four candidate forums held before the Feb. 15 primary, when it was a five-way race.

I hope this does not become an issue on Wednesday. There are plenty of other, more important, things we need to discuss.

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Economic Development Forum Set for South Milwaukee PAC

Milwaukee county executive candidates Chris Abele and Jeff Stone are among those appearing at a forum set for Wednesday, March 16, at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

The South Shore Forum on Economic Development begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes a roundtable discussion with local leaders and comments from Abele and Stone on key issues like the Hoan Bridge, transit, parks and 794 extension.

Learn more in this story on SouthMilwaukeeNow.com.

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