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New Kid's View

Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.

Freedom Isn't Free

Fourth of July, Independence Day, Grant Park, taxes, brown bag, free lunch, Scott Walker, County Parks, Pullin' O' The Green

The kids looked awfully cute, just as they do every Fourth of July – all decked out in their red, white and blue best, their bikes and trikes and wagons and strollers resplendent with streamers and bangles and balloons and flags.
They paraded, twirled batons and posed in their stars-and-stripes finery and their Betsy Ross, Uncle Sam and Mark Twain costumes. Judges awarded prizes. People applauded and cheered.
Next came the races. First, a sprint. Then a one-legged hop, the wheelbarrow, and the crab crawl races, followed by the shoe scramble and the penny scramble.
Live music played in the pavilion. People lined up for free ice cream and Cracker Jacks provided by South Milwaukee Lions and distributed by South Milwaukee Street Department staff. South Milwaukee firefighters manned a much-appreciated water station.
A lot of families made a day of it, bringing picnics, grills, coolers, spreading blankets and setting up lawn chairs and folding tables in the shade of trees and canopies to shelter from the sun.
This all took place in Grant Park, a great public area that might be considered South Milwaukee's modern-day version of a 1776-era town commons.
The only thing out of place yesterday was the brown paper bags. Political-signature gatherers distributed them as campaign material. They bore the words, "I have to brown bag it so I can pay Wisconsin taxes." Small print along one edge said, "Paid for by friends of Scott Walker."
Here was a great community gathering celebrating the nation's birth that got soiled by partisan political campaigning.
Well, it is a free country.
Especially galling, though, was that the campaigning was for a politician who policies have done so much damage to Milwaukee County parks, including Grant Park.
While many who attended yesterday's festivities might agree with Scott Walker and his ideology. Many don't. Inserting his political sloganeering into a neutral, non-political community celebration was divisive.
Here's my message to Mr. Walker and his "Friends":
First, brown bagging it isn’t so bad. Three of my siblings and I did it every day of the school year when we were growing up even though our school had a cafeteria. And it probably contributed to our sense of frugality and fiscal responsibility.
Second, the taxes referred to on your bags are not "Wisconsin taxes." They're our taxes. We pay them for state-provided benefits and services, including a fantastic facility like Grant Park and a great celebration on the Fourth of July.
Third, that you would choose Grant Park, which is there for the common good of all South Milwaukeeans--and other Wisconsinites and even out-of-staters -- who frequent the park, is a poke in the eye to the city, county and state workers and all of us who cherish this gem of a public park in the Milwaukee County park system. 
Fourth, your "Friends" no doubt partook of yesterday's "freebees," their children might have participated in some of the events, and they were protected by sheriff's deputies and South Milwaukee police officers and firefighters. While they didn't have to shell anything out of their pockets for any of that yesterday, in truth, none of it was really free.
Fifth, your "Friends'" brown bags ended up littering the park grounds and parking lot where Independence Day revelers played and parked their cars, left to be cleaned up by the few park employees that have survived your unrelenting budget cuts.
Those few remaining workers also had to clean up the piles of trash left by some – including, no doubt, some of your "Friends" – who enjoyed the city-provided fireworks last night but chose not to use the garbage cans -- also provided by tax dollars.
Grant Park is there for everyone, Mr. Walker. Even people who don't walk or bike on its trails, golf or ski on its golf course, enjoy its beach, picnic in its pavilions and other areas, toss Frisbees or fly kites in its open spaces, walk their dogs on its paths, take their kids to play in its playground areas, relax in the shade during lunch breaks, or enjoy the festivities on Independence Day or at the Pullin' O' the Green for St. Paddy's Day derive great benefits from the park and its open green spaces. The park greatly enhances the city's quality of life and increases the value of our homes.
South Milwaukee does a great job year after year – even in lean times like the dreadful recession we’ve just experienced – to provide a great way for all of us to celebrate this momentous holiday that symbolizes the great freedoms our country affords all of its citizens.
Putting on this celebration costs money, Mr. Walker. it's a celebration of our freedoms we all chip in to help pay for.
The bottom line is that although you and your "Friends" campaign on an anti-tax platform, there's no such thing as a free lunch, brown bag or otherwise.  Much  associated with being able to exercise and maintain our freedoms isn't free either.

Slimed Again

rain, sewage, basement, backup

It rained last night. A lot.
The water rose and sewage backed up. Into the basements of people's homes. A lot of them. I don't know where else that happened in South Milwaukee, but I do know it did on my street and on the one around the corner. Again.
This has happened before. Most recently a little over two years ago. And it caused a huge stink -- literally and euphamistically.
A big enough stink that the city -- or someone -- decided to do something about it.
That 'something' was a project that involved ripping up a neighbor's yard and an area that went back toward the park and replacing the culverts with much larger ones. It also involved tearing up several blocks of the street and leveling the rather high crown in the middle so that water from a heavy rain would flow down the entire width of the street surface, rather than wash from the middle toward the curb then sluice along the sides and overwhelm the street drains.
So what happened? Why, in the next big rainstorm, did water and sewage back up as if the mitigation project had never been done?
That 's what I asked my alterman, Erik Brooks. That, plus, how much had the mitigation project cost?
Alderman Brooks, who was elected to the Common Council in November of 2008 so understandably isn't necessarily all that familiar with the flooding/mitigation-project history, said he would like answers to those questions, too, and would start looking into it on Monday.
He did know that it was a heavy rainfall, "the second-worst one-day rain event in Milwaukee history," he said, and he isn't sure if it'll ever be possible to commpletely solve the problem, but he is hopeful the situation can be improved.
A promise he did make is to keep South Milwaukeeans posted via his blog -- -- and by other means.
I'll post what I learn, too.
Meantime, I am just sick for the neighbors who have had to deal with this dreadful situation. And I pray n one gets sick from exposure to the unwelcome effluence in their homes.

Home, Sweet 'Deep Tunnel' Sewerage System

deep tunnel, sewerage, sewage, basement

Erik Brooks, alderman for South Milwaukee's 4th district which includes my neighborhood, was out Friday afternoon talking to folks on my street and Hemlock Court whose basements were flooded and contaminated by sewage from the previous day's storms.

"It was a mix of sadness, anger, resignation, exasperation, you name it," Brooks wrote in an email. "Hearing their stories showed me how important and serious this issue is, and why it will be a priority for me."

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Take Shelter

Shelterworks, wood working, Mark Tomaszewski

I don't often do this, but I'm going to make a recommendation. If you need some woodworking -- finishing unfinished or refinishing wood that needs refurbishing -- particularly floors -- Mark Tomaszewski, owner of Shelterworks, is a pro.

He did some work for us and the completed product was superb, all the muss was cleaned up -- and his rates are refreshingly reasonable.

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It's a start

sewer backup, flooding, South Milwaukee Public Works & Public Property Committee

An item concerning the disasterous floodingt/sewer backup in South Milwaukee homes in the wake of last week's storms has been added to the South Milwaukee Public Works & Public Property Committee's meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 27). Below is the time, place and agenda for the meeting. Neighbors Bonnie and Ron Wieselman delivered 25 copies of this information to houses along Parkway Drive and Hemlock Court. A number of us plan to attend.


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Missing the mark -- and the vote

Sewage, South Milwaukee, Alderman Erik Brooks, city engineer Kyle Vandercar, Tamara Mayzik, flood

First, a big thanks to South MIlwaukee Alderman Erik Brooks. He was true to his word. I was among several people in the neighborhood who contacted him last weekend with a number of questions related to basements flooded and fouled with water and sewage backup from last Thursday's storms and torrential downpour. One was why did it happen -- again.

We were under the impression that a construction project on the east end of Parkway Drive after the April 2008 flood caused the flooding and sewage-backup problems along Parkway and around the corner on Hemlock Court would take care of the situation.

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The ball's rolling -- vote or not

South Milwaukee, Erik Brooks, sewage, flood, basement

Take heart South Milwaukeeans whose houses have been afflicted with flood-related basement water and sewage backup.


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