The Fighting 14th!

The official blog of Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

A look at Humboldt Park, and a successful start for Friends of Saveland Park

This afternoon, I took some time to walk around Humboldt Park and see how the maintenance work has been coming along, and get some neighbors’ perspectives as well.

Walkways have been one of the concerns within Humboldt Park.  While not in the worst shape of all the walkways in the Milwaukee County Parks system, there were a few spots that had very large cracks and potholes.  It was my understanding that some of these had been worked on in recent weeks thanks to some money that was leftover in the Parks Department budget.

One of the biggest pathways that I found had been worked on was this north-south path that runs parallel to Logan Avenue, approaching Idaho Street:

Photo by Jason Haas

As you can see, there’s a tongue of new asphalt that arcs toward the very long stretch in the middle of the photo.  I do recall that area as being very chewed up prior to the pouring done here.  Most of the gnarly areas have been covered, as had this one, but others still remain in relatively poor condition—though still much better compared to how the above picture had been prior to work.  The photo below is to the south, moving toward Oklahoma Avenue between Pine and Logan.

Photo by Jason Haas

It’s a sad day when we have to accept this as “not as bad as what else we’ve seen.”

A neighbor pointed out that when a dead tree is removed, the remaining hole is filled with mulch.  Perhaps this one should be refilled?

Photo by Jason Haas

This looks like something that could be a perfect project for Humboldt Park Watch, or similar Friends of the Park group, for each of the nine County Parks in my district. (They are, in order: Bay View, Copernicus, Holler, Humboldt, Morgan, Mitchell Airport, Saveland, Tippecanoe, and Wilson Parks.)

I got started forming these groups with Saveland Park, located at S. 1st Street and W. Wilbur Avenue.  The park’s small size is disproportional to its importance to the surrounding neighborhood, as it sports a lagoon, a wading pool, a children’s play area, and a pavilion.  This importance is reflected in the fact that more than twenty people have attended each of the two meetings thus far.

We already have one improvement in community safety to report from the group. Deputy Juan Avila at the second meeting, and provided us with the phone number to call if we see something is afoot in the park that law enforcement should to know about. (Obviously, in an emergency, call 911.)  A week later, with this number in hand, a neighbor called Deputy Avila after they noticed a broken window at the park pavilion—the target of a well-aimed rock. Deputy Avila in turn notified  the park manager, who immediately placed a work-order for a new window right away.  According to some other parks workers that I spoke with, if this hadn’t happened so fast, the result may have been that a plywood panel would be put up over the window, reducing the park’s safety and appeal. Instead, the park stays an appealing, safe place.

Friends of Saveland Park meets again in January. If you’re interested in attending, leave a comment.


Shakespeare in the Courts: My speech to the County Board

At the December 15, 2011 meeting of the Milwaukee County Board, arguably the most controversial item on our agenda was about the Shakespeare in the Courts (SITC) resolution from Supervisor Gerry Broderick. This caught the ear of many people, who wondered why the County, with all its difficulties, would want to spend money trying to make jail inmates learn and perform Shakespeare.

Why, of all things, Shakespeare?  Why not spend the money just keeping them locked up and off the streets?

The very thought of teaching prison inmates Shakespeare made this resolution an easy subject of ridicule by those who don’t know what the program actually entails. Or, for that matter, what it costs to keep a person in jail.

As the Wall Street Journal discussed in its April 25, 2006 article on Shakespeare in the Courts,

“Shakespeare in the Courts is meant to boost the kids’ self-esteem, to improve their communications skills, to develop a spirit of community and cooperation: ‘components for future success’ that also help them with anger management. The participants’ rap sheets vary; the judge mentions false bomb threats, shoplifting, moving violations, assault and battery.”

No guns or drugs. Nor, for that matter, do daggers appear directly in the program.

Shakespeare in the Courts is an alternative to incarceration for juvenile offenders. For just $65,000, as we voted on, the County can give a few kids a chance to learn how to do something different. Rather than being thrown in to the jail system, they can learn how to cooperate and collaborate with the members of the cast, and more importantly, think differently than they may have ever done or been taught before.

And let me emphasize that this is aimed squarely at juvenile offenders, aged 12 to 17. These kids, without an alternative to being thrown in jail, suddenly face the brutal incarcerated life. There, they are not reformed. If anything, they are traumatized, violated, and forever warped away from being a healthy member of society.

Such treatment comes with two high price tags. First it the cost of incarceration. To keep one child, just one, in any of our three secure detention facilities, costs Milwaukee County a total of $275 a day.

To keep the child in jail for a week costs $1,925.

To keep the child in jail for a month costs $8,250.

To keep the child in jail for a year  almost $100,000.

This is not to examine the long-term costs to the individual, who will be unable to participate in society, unlikely to graduate from high school, unlikely to be able to get a job.

Nor does this examine the cost to society of doing this.

But I do have the cost of keeping all 153 child-inmates, both girls and boys, in the County’s secure “correctional” facilities.  According to the figures provided by our Chief Intake and Probation Officer, in 2010, to keep all 153 child-inmates in jail, it cost the Milwaukee County taxpayer $16,849,605.

That is 16 MILLION,  eight-hundred and forty-nine thousand,  six-hundred and five dollars.  

And this is a system that we want to preserve?

Or should we spend just sixty-five thousand dollars to keep a few out, for much larger savings down the road?

Results from today’s Milwaukee County Board meeting

Courtesy of Harold Mester, the Board’s Public Information Manager:

For Immediate Release December 15, 2011
Contact:  Harold Mester, Public Information Manager, 414/278-4051


• 7-12 (Yes: Biddle, Broderick, Lipscomb, Mayo, Thomas, Weishan, Holloway) to override (veto sustained) the County Executive’s veto of a resolution providing for an advisory referendum on the plan by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to pay approximately $41.1 million to the City of Franklin for the costs related to building the Ryan Creek Interceptor project.

• 14-5 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt) to place on file an advisory referendum on the April 3, 2012, election ballot on the questions of reform of County government through a reduction in the size and compensation of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

• Referred back to Committee with no objection – to amend County Ordinances as it pertains to sick leave policies regarding sick allowance accrual and payout or credit at retirement.

• 16-3 (No: Harris, Mayo, Holloway) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of Hector Colon to the position of Director of the Department of Health and Human Services for Milwaukee County.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of James Duff to the position of Director of the Department of Veteran Services for Milwaukee County.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of Mary McClintock to serve on the Care Management Organization (CMO) Governing Board for a term expiring November 3, 2013.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of Paula K. Lorant to serve on the Care Management Organization (CMO) Governing Board for a term expiring November 3, 2013.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of Macey Chovaz to serve on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities for a term expiring December 15, 2013.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of John Haupt to serve on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities for a term expiring December 15, 2013.

• 18-1 (No: Harris) to confirm the County Executive’s appointment of Kathryn Zalewski to serve on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities for a term expiring December 15, 2013.

• 17-1-1 (No: Mayo; Abstain: Harris) to enter into 2012 Purchase of Service Contracts for the Behavioral Health Division for the provision of Adult and Children Mental Health Services and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse 
(AODA) Services.

• 18-1 (No: Lipscomb) to increase, for 2012, the Professional Services Contract with Andrea & Orendorff, LLC, with vendor fees not to exceed $950,000 to provide additional personnel in support of the provision of Family Care Senior Management Services in Racine and Kenosha Counties.

• 11-8 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Lipscomb, Mayo, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt) to approve a resolution authorizing the Chief Judge of Milwaukee County to collaborate with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to develop Shakespeare in the Courts as a pilot alternative to incarceration option for sentencing of juvenile offenders. 

• 17-1-1 (No: Sanfelippo, Excused: Romo West) to execute a $7 million State of Good Repair contract with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to support a bus replacement program in 2013.

All other items on today’s agenda were approved with no objection.  The complete digest agenda from today’s meeting can be found on the County Legislative Information Center:

The next meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisor is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday, February 2, 2012, in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.


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