mke notes


“County governance has grown into a dysfunctional system that wouldn’t work if Jesus was the county executive and Moses chaired the board of supervisors.”

– Business leader and philanthropist Sheldon Lubar calling for the consolidation of Milwaukee County governments into a consolidated city-county system used in places like Indianapolis and Louisville. Lubar co-chaired a task force appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle and a second panel created by the Greater Milwaukee Committee to study the financial problems facing the county. Those panels did not recommend eliminating county government in their proposals.

“That possibility was already looked at and was dismissed by the Task Force. It is now a dead issue.”

— County Board Chair Lee Holloway in response.

“When I have made the determination (the shooting) is justified, I can’t just take it in for an advisory verdict. That creates a process that doesn’t accomplish a goal. That process has to have a goal.”

— Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm on his decision to no longer hold a public inquest into fatal police shootings every time a victim’s family requests one. Former DA E. Michael McCann began the inquest policy while he was in office, saying there was value in publicizing facts that may bring about policy changes.

“The problem with the inquests was they were slanted. They were not objective. You knew how they were going to come out.”

— Robert Levine, an attorney who represents the family of an unarmed man who was fatally shot in January 2007 by a Milwaukee police office who said the man went for his gun.


State Rep. Jason Fields said today he is not going to contest his arrest for drunken driving and actions by his attorney to set up a trial were due to a “miscommunication.”

Fields, D-Milwaukee, was arrested last month after a deputy pulled him over for allegedly swerving outside of his lane as he drove southbound on I-43 north of West Center Street. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke announced a news conference that Fields had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 when he was arrested.

Fields issued a statement the morning after his arrest apologizing to constituents and saying he would not contest the charges.

But his attorney, Alan Eisenberg, entered a not guilty plea and filed a motion on Monday for discovery in preparation for a trial. Eisenberg told WisPolitics on Monday that his own investigation of the case led him to ask for a jury trial and that Fields “expects to win the case.”

Fields said this morning he hired Eisenberg to guide him through the legal process, but had no intention of going to trial. He said he hopes to meet with Eisenberg tomorrow to straighten things out.

“I stand by my word,” Fields said. “I said we’re not going to contest this. We’re going to get it all straightened out.”

Asked this morning whether he had spoken with his client, Eisenberg said he wouldn’t tell a reporter if he had. He then accused a WisPolitics reporter of “deliberately trying to get me to do something unethical” and hung up.

Fields said he called Eisenberg to set up a meeting after seeing that he had filed the motion for discovery.

“I told him I wanted to put this behind us. There’s no need to go to trial,” Fields said.

“I just want this thing to go away.”

See Fields’ March statement:


The upcoming presidential election is changing the dynamics of the third annual May 1 “Day Without Latinos” march, organizers say.

The yearly march is organized by Voces de la Frontera to bring attention to issues that affect the immigrant community. This year, the organization is calling for the Bush administration to stop what they say are raids on families and workplaces targeting illegal immigrants. They have also called for the government to decriminalize employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of Voces, said this march is different because it is an election year.

“We are really calling on the next president to pass immigration reform the first 100 days in office,” she said.

This year’s Milwaukee march begins at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the intersection of South Fifth Street and Washington on Milwaukee’s south side. Marchers will leave at 11:30 a.m. and head toward Veterans Park via the Sixth Street Viaduct for a 12:30 p.m. rally.

Scheduled speakers include Neumann-Ortiz, Dave Newby of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Henry Hamilton of the NAACP and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

A march is also planned in Madison, ending with a rally at the Dane County building downtown.

Event organizers said that in 2006 about 70,000 people took to the streets in Milwaukee with more than 80,000 turning out last year. City police do not provide crowd estimates, while some media reports put the turnout slightly lower than what organizers estimated.

In addition to the looming presidential race, another difference this year is the involvement of local churches, three Racine high schools and the New Sanctuary Movement, organizers say. Voces also received an endorsement from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

In past years, businesses have closed or worked with minimal staff, but this year Voces has asked businesses to remain open.

The Faith Community for Workers Justice, which is participating in the rally, is planning a re-enactment of the 1886 polish workers march that called for an eight-hour work day.

“Our part of the march will be a symbolic way of blending the immigrant worker movement for fair immigration reform and the worker movement that happened with Polish immigrants fighting for the eight-hour work day,” explained Jon Royal, community organizer for the group.

Event organizers said that they are not aware of any planned counter protest, though there remain critics of their efforts.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, is a proponent of stronger immigration laws.

“Ethnic celebrations have had long, wonderful histories in this country,” he said. “It would be unfortunate if these marches get away from celebrating ethnic cultures and focus on breaking the law.”

He went on to say that people of authority should encourage immigrants to enter the country legally.

While organizers hope to send a message to the presidential candidates through this year’s march, there has been little action legislatively on the state or federal level to address the issue. Most proposals have either failed to become law or been challenged in court.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, told WisPolitics that he hopes to continue working on the issue.

“I always enjoy the opportunity to hear from those I represent, especially on this important issue,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I look forward to continued dialogue with members of Voces de la Frontera on fixing our broken immigration system.”


Gov. Jim Doyle today touted the enrollment of 72,000 new people in the state’s BadgerCare Plus program since Feb. 1, 45,000 of them children. The state’s original goal was to enroll about 26,000 individuals in the first 12 to 18 months.

“This much higher than expected enrollment, I think, signifies two things. First, the incredible demand that is out there the people in this state that need affordable health care and second, it is the result of a lot of work in that both in state government and in our cooperating agencies,” Doyle said during a news conference at Day Care Services for Children Inc. in Milwaukee.

One of those agencies, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is working with the state to make sure that the families that need BadgerCare Plus know how to enroll and use the new health care coverage.

Steve Martinot, president of Anthem, said that the 72,000 people that have been insured because of the program is something to applaud.

On Feb. 1, the state launched BadgerCare Plus, which allows families, regardless of income, to have access to affordable health care coverage for their children.

WisPolitics reported last month that the state signed up 64,000 new people for the program in the first month after it was launched.

BadgerCare Plus offers insurance coverage for children for as low as $10 per month, regardless of income. State officials have said the increase in enrollment was not expected to add costs to the program because of the premiums the enrollees are paying and the efficiencies in the program.

Doyle said that the state is not dismantling the current health care structure, but streamlining family Medicaid, BadgerCare, and Healthy Start into a comprehensive program. He wants to make Wisconsin America’s health care leader and have 98 percent of the population insured.

“Here in Wisconsin, even though we have hardly been immune from this downturn, we have still made it a commitment to protect our basic values and to continue our vital services and maintain our financial integrity,” Doyle said.

Doyle made the announcement at a one-day BadgerCare Plus enrollment fair at Day Care Services for Children, Inc. in Milwaukee, one of 12 fairs held today in the county.

*Listen to Doyle’s press conference:

*See the WisPolitics story from March:


The Milwaukee Press Club honored CBS News Correspondent KIMBERLY DOZIER as a Sacred Cat and retired Green Bay Packers President and CEO BOB HARLAN as a Headliner during its 2008 Gridiron Dinner on Saturday.

FRED BARNES, co-founder and executive editor of “The Weekly Standard,” was the keynote speaker at last week’s Wisconsin Right to Life Gala Dinner and Auction at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee. WTMJ radio’s CHARLIE SYKES emceed the event.

Milwaukee County Board Sup. LEE HOLLOWAY was re-elected chair last week after almost eight hours of debate and 45 votes. Holloway bested Sup. JIM “LUIGI” SCHMITT on a 12-7 vote. The board also selected Sup. MICHAEL MAYO SR. first vice chair and Sup. PEGGY WEST second vice chair position. See WisPolitics coverage of the votes:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded U.S. Rep. JIM SENSENBRENNER, R-Menomonee Falls, with its 2007 Spirit of Enterprise award for his “support of pro-business issues” in Congress.