Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


How do you get fans to come out to exhibition games for last year's worst team in baseball? Give them free tickets.

The Milwaukee Brewers are giving away up to four free tickets for a pre-season exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins on March 28. It's certainly not the only strategy the Brewers folks need to use in order to win back fans, but it's a good start.


There have been some beautiful days in the neighborhood during Fred Rogers' time. When I was a wee lad growing up in Waukesha, I had to watch Mr. Rogers every day and wave goodbye to him at the end of the show. I had a chance to meet him in person a few years ago in DC when he was testifying on Capitol Hill in support of federal funding for PBS. As you'd expect, his demeanor was that of a genuinely nice, pleasant, and caring human being.

Mr. Rogers died today at the age of 74.

A $300 million plan was unveiled today to develop the former Pabst Brewery site in downtown Milwaukee. Wispark, LLC and Ferchill Group are the developers of the proposal. The Pabst site was brought to the Ferchill Group's chairman John Ferchill's attention last year by Milwaukee Bucks basketball coach George Karl. Karl announced plans in 2000 for a youth basketball center in Milwaukee and pointed to the Pabst site as a viable location.

There are a lot of plans floating around in addition to the Pabst City plan. Some of the most notable projects In the downtown area include:

It's a rather ambitious plan, and it would be wonderful to see it come to fruition. However, once again, the question is financing. Is the market there for all of these deveopments? Proponents like myself would say that residential development drives commercial development, and there's certainly been plenty of residential growth downtown recently. The real estate market has remained strong despite the sluggish economy. Most of the developments downtown to this point have been residential. Now with the Cathedral Square, 875 E Wisconsin, and the Pabst City developments (not to mention the commercial lots coming available with the demolition of the park east freeway), one has to wonder who's going to be funding and occupying the new commercial renaissance in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee isn't unique. We're actually a few years behind other cities in redisovering our downtown. I think that partially explains the resistance to ambitious plans like the Park East freeway demolition. Even automobile-worshipping Detroit, Michigan has built a new baseball stadium in the heart of its city center.

Perhaps we're just in the early stages of recovering from forty years of suburban sprawl which have given us ugly office buildings on freeway off ramps built in a sea of concrete parking lots. Those of us who prefer the urban design certainly hope so.


Officials in New York have selected Daniel Libeskind's design as the plan that will take shape at the World Trade Center site.

The competition was recently narrowed down to Libeskind's proposal and one put together by the THINK team. Libeskind is familiar with dealing with tragic events through architecture with his work on the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The new development would put New York City back on top as the home of the tallest building in the world. The 1776 foot tall spire would symbolize the Declaration of Independence. Now the question of financing will become the issue as nervous investors will need to be convinced that these buildings will not suffer the same fate as their predecessor.

"It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world."

Power and Weakness is an article by Robert Kagan, and was published last year in Policy Review. It seems especially timely now as the United States prepares for war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin, Fort McCoy is hosting 4,000 reservists and National Guard soldiers from 50 units for training.


I saw the Boss sing on the Grammys last night. It reminded me of his most commercially successful song, "Born in the USA." Many people continue to believe this is a song akin to a rallying cry for nationalism. President Reagan even tried to enlist the song in his re-election campaign in 1984.

Obviously they never read the lyrics to the song. It's a story about a Vietnam veteran going off to war and falling in love. He then comes home and is treated like shit by everyone around him.

Why I don't want to hear President Bush ever say he believes in smaller government again.

The first USA Patriot Act was bad enough, and now we're looking to bastardize the Constitution even further. Between these laws and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Bush administration is implementing the largest expansion of the federal government in recent history.


Baby boomers must be swooning. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are considering a reunion. The tour would likely make the duo millions through sold out concerts with outrageous seat prices. Don't forget to buy the live CD.

This made me think about what bands from my teenage years should reunite and give it a go. How about Hall and Oates? Whoops... I guess they're actually still together and touring. What about Nelson? Damn, they're still rocking out as well. Of course! How could I forget about WHAM!?

Just a few days after the incident at Chicago's E2 nightclub, at least 86 people are reported dead after a fire broke out during a Great White concert at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Rhode Island.

The number of dead is expected to grow. Among the missing is the band's guitarist Ty Longley.

Milwaukee County freeway update. The saga continues.


Holy crap! The Milwaukee Bucks today traded Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Ronald Murray and a conditional first-round draft pick to the Seattle SuperSonics for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason.

I don't know what it is. It could be the fact that I was angry Glenn Robinson was traded last year instead of Ray. Maybe it's that fans knew George Karl has always wanted to have Payton back after getting fired from Seattle, and now he has him. I love this trade. Sam Cassell and Gary Payton playing together on the same side of the court? It's exciting.

The funniest thing is we get to see the two new lineups play each other tomorrow.

Milwaukee architecture often gets a bad rap. We are, after all, in the shadow of the city of big shoulders.

Dr. Steven Reyer, a professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has a great site devoted to local architecture that I check out from time to time in order to learn more about the gems here in town. I encourage everyone to give it a look.


Is the anti-war movement running out of gas?

Political theory professor and Dissent Magazine editor Mitchell Cohen has written an article outlining a leftist's case for war.

On a related note, is promoting a "virtual march" on Washington, February 26. Will it make a difference? Not likely. It may jam some fax machines on Capitol Hill for a few hours, but canned faxes tend to end up in the recycling bin, folks. Last weekend may have been the peak for the anti-war movement here in the United States.

The State Department has updated its travel warning for Iraq after the U.S. Interests Section closed at the Polish Embassy in Baghdad. UK citizens are also being told by the Foreign Office to leave Iraq.

Bottom line? Don't go to Iraq... unless you have to.


Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle announced his budget proposal for 2003-2005 tonight in Madison. Doyle is calling on the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass a balanced budget, and laid out a number of ideas on how to achieve this. The governor is proposing cutting approximately 2900 state jobs, cutting the UW system by $250 million, delaying reconstruction of the Marquette interchange in Milwaukee, and lowering the legal blood-alcohol level limit to 0.08 in order to avoid losing precious federal transportation money.

"For the first time in 22 years, Wisconsin will live within its means," said Doyle obviously referring to the previous Thompson/McCallum administrations. Idealogues on the right may find it ironic that it's the Democratic governor of Wisconsin who's cutting spending at a record level.

At the national level, the Bush administration is producing record deficits with its proposed budget, just a few years after the Democratic Clinton administration produced budget surpluses.

It's going to become harder for Republicans to run for office on a platform where Democrats are portrayed as the taxing and spending politicians. Recent history indicates that at the executive branch level locally and nationally, it's Democrats who have been fiscally responsible and Republicans who have been the big spenders.


From the images President Bush may not want to use in commercials for his re-election campaign file:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was sent into Iraq, serving as a special envoy to President Reagan in 1983.

So American opinions about France are at a new low. With the disagreements about weapons inspections and how to deal with Iraq, tensions have been heightened between the two nations.

While we Americans always like to rub it in France's face about how we bailed them out in WWII, shouldn't we remind ourselves that if it weren't for the French, we may still be singing God Save the Queen or at least swearing allegiance to the crown as part of the British Commonwealth?


I live in the Bay View area of town. It's an up and coming neighborhood. There are a lot of younger people moving down here from the east side who are looking for more affordable housing, but still want to be close to downtown. They also want to live in an area where there are local businesses that are unique and they want to shop on a street with some character. In this case, that street is Kinnickinnic Avenue. It's come a long way, but also has a way to go. We've got coffee shops, and a few good restaurants. There's even some decent nightlife now, aside from pubs that resemble your grandpa's basement.

There is somewhat of a tension in this neighborhood though. It's a tug of war between different generations. On one hand, you've got plenty of families who have owned their homes for years and passed them on to their children (the "old south side" as some would say). This group tends to be more conservative, and comes from a blue collar background. On the other hand, you have a lot of newcomers ranging from young professionals and newlyweds, to folks from the inner city looking for a safer place to raise their family. This influx of younger and more diverse residents may have created the tension between these two groups of "Bayviewites."

To make a neighborhood one's own must mean that one has to be willing to accept and respect one's neighbors. At the same time, it's only healthy to have a range of ideas floating around about where the neighborhood needs to go to truly achieve progress. Good luck Bay View. Now let's get a tenant for the Avalon Theater.


Valentine's Day. The time of year when diamond sellers and greeting card companies take advantage of suckers. Okay, maybe that was harsh. It doesn't change the fact that diamonds are still just a rock with an inflated price since South African based DeBeers formed a cartel and hoarded all the diamonds, resulting in a major underground trade, complete with gang warfare.

Massive war protests took place all over the world today, including the largest since the Vietnam War in the U.S. Here in Milwaukee, hundreds gathered downtown and marched from city hall to the federal courthouse in an event organized by Milwaukee Coalition for a Just Peace. Many major websites are protesting today by blacking themselves out.

While the latest poll data assembled by Gallup indicates widespread support for sending ground troops into Iraq, the opposition has become too loud for the media to ignore any longer.

The Harley Davidson 100th Anniversary bash is coming this summer, Milwaukee. Five years ago, at the time of the 95th, I was living off of Prospect Avenue. During the week, in the wee hours of the morning, hogs with "upgraded" exhaust pipes were doing laps up and down Farwell and Prospect, using my street as the crossover between the two one-way streets.

So are we all as excited about this event as the media would like us to be? The Journal Sentinel indicates that there were 140,000 people at the last one and more than 200,000 are expected to be at this one. Due to the lack of hotel space in the area, people are going to be sleeping at temporary campgrounds around the metro area.

Hmm... camping that week. Heading up north to do just that during the festivities may not be a bad idea.


I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). It's not a Big Ten school. We're constantly in the shadow of Madison, but tonight for the first time ever, students actually stormed the floor when our basketball team won a critical game to move a step further towards going to the NCAA tournament. You have to keep in mind that UWM is also in the shadow of Marquette, which makes UWM's progress all the more sweet since they're stealing press away from those rich kids across town. Go Panthers!


The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) recently unveiled its proposal to expand all freeways in Milwaukee County to eight lanes (four lanes in each direction). There has been a lot of objection from residents of Milwaukee County and particularly in the city of Milwaukee. Not surpisingly, residents of nearby counties are all for this radical plan as it will cut their commute time by five minutes (SEWRPC estimate). It comes at the expense of Milwaukee County residents who will have to give up more land, and tear down more homes and businesses, thus reducing the population and property tax base. By the way, the state of Wisconsin has no idea how they're going to pay for this project.

Meanwhile, work continues on the Park East freeway demolition in downtown Milwaukee. The goal of this project is to redevelop land currently occupied by a freeway stub that was part of a never completed freeway loop. Not surprisingly, the most opposition to this came from suburban commuters.

The optimist in me says these developments indicate there has been a change in the tide since the 1960s and that we're a little more sensible these days about where we put a road and how these "improvements" affect the neighborhoods they're moving into. Time will tell. It may not hurt to contact your County Supervisor if you're a resident of Milwaukee County though.

Welcome to As the name infers, this site is about all things Milwaukee, and perhaps some things that aren't exclusively. The web has its share of Milwaukee periodicals and newspapers online, but with more of the media being swallowed up by fewer and fewer hands, it has become increasingly necessary to become our own "editors" in a sense. Like any other 'blog, I'll post a collection of information collected throughout the web of course. Then there will be the occasional editorial intervention by myself. Off we go.