The Fighting 14th!

The official blog of Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas

Archive for the tag “Milwaukee County Parks”

Results from the June 28, 2012 Milwaukee County Board meeting

We had a very good meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors today. Among the highlights are that we voted on items which will save taxpayers roughly $45,000 a month in interest payments, and we approved an agreement to implement the development of a two acre chunk of the Park East land. That will directly translate into jobs and idle land coming to life.

This incarnation of the County Board has only 18 supervisors. One effect of that is that if we vote 9-9 on an item, 9 ayes and 9 noes, the item fails. That happened a few times today. The first time was to override the county executive’s veto of a parks capital spending plan, the second on a proposal from the sheriff’s dept. to lease space at the MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Reserve unit at Mitchell Field).

In today’s meeting we had a lot of good energy and vibrant debate. It felt really good to be part of a democracy today!



• 18-0 to receive and place on file a request from the Office of the Sheriff to grant a leave of absence for Captain Nancy Evans from the Classified to the Unclassified Service

• 14-4 (No: Haas, Johnson, Jursik, Mayo) to confirm the appointment of Mr. Patrick Farley to the position of Director of Administrative Services.

• 9-9 (veto sustained) (No: Alexander, Cullen, Johnson, Lipscomb, Mayo, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Stamper, Weishan) to override the County Executive’s veto of the 5-year Capital Development Plan from the Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture.

• 16-2 (No: Alexander, Sanfelippo) to approve an ordinance change related to residency waivers for positions in an unclassified service.

• 10-8 (No: Alexander, Borkowski, Bowen, Jursik, Romo West, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Taylor) to reject a resolution to fully develop a graduated defined contribution pension plan to replace the existing defined benefit plan, and to report back with a final plan for implementation.

• 11-7 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Cullen, Haas, Jursik, Lipscomb, Schmitt) (item failed to reach 2/3 supermajority necessary to withdraw funds from contingency) to allocate $150,000 in Contingency funds to the War Memorial Center.

• 13-5 (No: Alexander, Borkowski, Johnson, Romo West, Sanfelippo) to deny a request from the Office of the Sheriff to create a Transit Patrol Division for the patrol of Milwaukee County buses and the Milwaukee County harbor area.

• 13-5 (No: Borkowski, Jursik, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Taylor) to develop a process whereby designated representatives of authorized employee groups meet and confer with Milwaukee County management representatives on terms and conditions of employment and operational issues.

• 16-2 (No: Bowen, Sanfelippo) to increase by $125,000 and extend the term through December 31, 2012 for the Purchase of Services contract with Phoenix Care Systems, Inc., for the provision of Crisis Respite Home Services in the Disabilities Services Division.

• 17-1 (No: Sanfelippo) to enter into 2012 Purchase of Services contracts for the Behavioral Health Division related to the Mental Health Redesign and Community Resource Investment Initiative included in the 2012 Budget.

• 14-4 (No: Borkowski, Cullen, Harris, Taylor) to approve an amended request to extend the Purchase of Services Contract with Our Space for the Behavioral Health Division.

• 17-1 (No: Sanfelippo) to approve payment in the amount of $15,000 to Pledl & Cohn, S.C. in settlement of Scott E.M. Spates v. Jo-Jean Clemens, et al, United States District Case No. 10C1098.

• 14-4 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Cullen, Romo West) to approve payment in the amount of $37,055.84 to the Law Office of Michael A.I. Whitcomb for attorney’s fees incurred in Milwaukee County v. Clarke, Case No. 12-CV-350.

• 16-2 (No: Sanfelippo, Taylor) to approve an amended award to affected employees in the matter of Milwaukee County v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) resulting in the dismissal of the appeal in the Court of Appeals in this matter in return for a dismissal of all appeals and cross appeals by all parties in the litigation related to 2010.

• 17-0-1 (Abstain: Jursik) to refer back to the Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee a request to prepare, review, approve and execute all contract documents as required to hire Johnson Controls, Inc., an Energy Services Company (ESCO) previously approved by the County Board to provide Phase 2-Part B Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting, to repair and renew Milwaukee County building infrastructure based on the energy audits performed at selected County facilities and is contingent upon the satisfactory “Due Diligence” performed by DAS on each GESPC proposal.

• 11-7 (No: Bowen, Broderick, Haas, Jursik, Stamper, Taylor, Weishan) to enter into a lease agreement with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, effective February 1, 2012, for the lease of approximately 1,670 square feet of truck inspection facility space (Building 204) at Milwaukee County’s MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Force Reserve Station).

• 9-9 (item fails) (No: Bowen, Broderick, Haas, Jursik, Romo West, Stamper, Taylor, Weishan, Dimitrijevic) to enter into a lease agreement with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, effective February 1, 2012, for the lease of approximately 7,676 square feet of vehicle maintenance shop space (Building 104) and approximately 20 paved parking spaces at Milwaukee County’s MKE Regional Business Park (the former 440th Air Force Reserve Station).

• 12-3-3 (No: Borkowski, Sanfelippo, Schmitt; Abstain: Alexander, Bowen, Stamper) to approve a resolution urging the United States Congress to pass federal legislation limiting Student Loan interest rates, creating new loan forgiveness provisions, and converting some borrowers’ private loans to federal loans.

• 16-2 (No: Johnson, Weishan) to approve a revised development agreement and an agreement to implement the development of Block 26, in the Park East corridor.

• 18-0 to refer back to the Finance, Personnel & Audit Committee item A7 from the 2012 Appropriation Transfer Packet.

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 is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.


Busy week ahead: 3 committee meetings, 2 community meetings

This week will be rather busy.  The Parks, Energy and Environment Committee meets on Tuesday, and my “SuperPass” resolutionis on deck that day. Its purpose is to form “a Workgroup to explore a Super Pass for various park, recreation and culture facilities with the purchase of one card.”  I have often tried to wrap my brain around the myriad admissions and membership policies of the many County Attractions ad cultural institutions, but it proved to be a bit above my pay grade. The groups’ heads together under the auspices of the chairman of VISIT Milwaukee, whom I know has a hunch on how to make something work.

Still on Parks Committee, the Quarterly Financial Update from the Milwaukee Public Museum may prove quite interesting. Also, the committee will approve and adopt the Parks Department’s 5-year Capital Development Plan, which hopes to get some of the $250 million of deferred maintenance taken care of.

Time Warner Cable is seeking a “limited term easement to  to allow for the placement of a new fiber optic conduit packet under park property to better serve the public.” This is at Lake Park, in particular. We’ll see what the Friends of Lake Park think o that proposal.

Finally, there is a resolution “authorizing the Public Art Program and Committee to be placed on an official hiatus to last no longer than the duration of 2012, while the County Executive along with the Department of Administrative Services provide reports on how to successfully locate an adequate funding source that will allow for the program’s reactivation and continuity, as outlined in County Board policy.”

The above is all Parks Committee stuff.  Then on Thursday is the  Finance and Audit Committee meeting, And here’s the agenda (PDF). Following that on Friday is the Personnel Committee meeting, some of the content from that meeting will overlap with the  Finance and Audit—hence our interest in combining the two committees.

Back to Monday. I had a meeting earlier today with Chris Linberg, former Executive Manager of Technology Services for MillerCoors, now the Milwaukee County Information Management Director.  Chris has made a big jump from MillerCoors to the County, and I’m very glad he’s on board. With him, we will be able to start moving into the 21st century. Like me, he was struck by the amount of drift that has occurred in the County over the past many years. A lot of things are stuck in the past, simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. With Chris’s help, we will change that for the better.

This afternoon we have a meeting at General Mitchell International Airport concerning the 128th Air Refueling Wing. The County Board has approved the concept of keeping the 128th here.  The meeting is with local businesses who may be affected if and when the federal government and Air Force decide to keep the 128th here and wish to expand it.

Wednesday has the Airport Gateway Business Improvement District’s annual meeting, and a County Dept. of Transportation lunch event. On Thursday we have the Army Corps of Engineers open house on the KK River rehabilitation, which runs from 4-7PM at the Jackson Park Boathouse, 3500 W. Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee.

Three committee meetings. Lots of phone calls and other events. Not too shabby.

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.

October 27, 2011 Milwaukee County budget hearing

Naturally, the only one that I physically could not attend is the one where they vote on the tax levy. I have little doubt that County Executive Abele will veto it, but we’ll see how it plays out.



Milwaukee, WI – The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is holding a series of public meetings throughout October on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.  Each day, the Committee reviews a number of specific departments and items in the budget.

Today, the Committee reviewed the following departments and approved the noted amendments:

• Amendment approved 6-0 to abolish two Noise Abatement Specialist positions and create three new positions at General Mitchell International Airport to assist in operations.

• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Mayo, Thomas) to adopt policy that the tax levy support for the Department of Parks for the next four years, 2013 through 2016, shall not be less than the tax levy budgeted for this department in the 2012 adopted budget.

Department of Administrative Services
• Amendment approved 5-0-1 (Abstain: Thomas) to create a separate and stand-alone Department of Comptroller and Finance, and retitle the positions of Controller and Deputy Controller to Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller.   The position of Comptroller shall be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Board, and shall be removable from office for cause with the concurrence of both the County Executive and a majority vote of the County Board, or by a two-thirds vote of the County Board.  A number of other positions are transferred from DAS-Administration and Fiscal Affairs Division to the Department of Comptroller and Finance.  The comptroller shall be a position in the classified service and shall have an employment contract duration of five years, commencing January 1, 2012 and which shall be renewable for additional five year terms upon approval from by the County Board and concurrence of the County Executive.

Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit
• Amendment approved 6-0 to report on the availability of a live feed of real time information on bus location using GPS technology and study electronically posting project times of arrival at heavily-frequented bus stops.

Employee Fringe Benefits
• Amendment approved 6-0 to decrease the proposed employee monthly premium for the family plan to $170 from $250, decreased the proposed office visit co-pay to $30 from $40, and decrease the annual out-of-pocket limit for preferred providers to $2,500 single/$5,000 family, from $3,000/$6,000 respectively.

Budget Amendment No. 2
• Amendment approved 6-0 to reflect personnel actions approved by the Personnel Committee and the County Board that are not included in the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.
Ordinance Changes

County Ordinances
• Ordinance amendment approved 3-2-1 (No: De Bruin, Mayo, Excused: Johnson) to add that any surplus sales and use tax revenues be applied toward county expenditures, including prefund employee benefit costs or fund unanticipated or extraordinary annual increases in such costs; or supplement the Appropriation for Contingencies.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: De Bruin, Excused: Johnson) to increase admission and parking fees at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: Mayo, Excused: Johnson) increasing fees for certain parking violations in Milwaukee County.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: Mayo, Excused: Johnson) to abolish language relating to the reimbursement of Continuing Legal Education credits and membership dues for the Wisconsin Bar Association for non-represented attorneys and State-employed prosecutors in the Office of the District Attorney.

State Exempt Computer Aid approved 5-0 (Excused: Johnson)

Property Tax Levy (as amended)
• 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to approve property tax levy of $275,392,969, an increase of $5,838,268 or 2.17% from the previous year (9.6 million below the State-imposed levy cap for 2012)

2012 County Budget (as amended)
• 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to approve

The Committee’s final meeting on the 2012 County Budget is Wednesday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the 2012 Budget is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 31 at the Washington Park Senior Center, located at 4420 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee.

The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway, will adopt the 2012 Budget on Monday, November 7 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 7 (10/24/2011)

The amount of activity on the county board appears to increase in direct proportion to the proximity of any meeting, and even more so as budget passage nears. Things are really picking up now, and we have about two weeks before our final budget-passing marathon meeting.

Here’s what the finance committee looked at today:

Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System
• Amendment approved 6-0 to conduct an audit of the Milwaukee County Paratransit program to focus on fraud prevention and quality of service issues as well as any other concerns identified in the courthouse of the audit.
[Over a dozen fraudsters were nabbed the last time this was performed!
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to increase Paratransit fares by $0.75 rather than the $1.25 recommended by the County Executive.
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Mayo, Schmitt) to have the Office of the Sheriff administer the current contract with G4S Wackenhut for security on transit buses and the $920,000 appropriation for these services is budgeted in the Office of the Sheriff. The Sheriff is requested to manage transit security services and recommend changes to improve effectiveness.
• Amendment approved 6-0 to include, beginning in June 2012, driver safety shield installation on all new Milwaukee County Transit System bus purchase specifications. Milwaukee County shall seek grant funding for the installation of safety shields for existing transit fleet vehicles. [Emphasis added.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to continue a pilot program for designated stroller areas on transit buses. Additionally, MCTS will work with the Office of the Sheriff to enforce Chapter 63, in that no non-service animals or specified weapons are allowed on any transit fleet vehicles in order to maximize passenger/driver safety.

DAS – Facilities Management
• Amendment approved 6-0 to work with the Department of Audit to develop a method of collecting data on racial and gender breakdowns of all contractor employees working on Milwaukee County construction or maintenance projects.
• Amendment approved 3-2 (No: De Bruin, Schmitt) to employ County security employees at secure designated security facilities, with the cost partially offset with the elimination of the current security contract.
• Amendment approved 5-0 (Excused: Mayo) to eliminate the contribution to the debt service reserve, conduct a countywide comprehensive facilities plan, and increase the Appropriation for Contingencies.

Federated Library System
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to restore the County’s 2012 tax levy contribution of $66,650 to the Federated Library System. [An increase of some $9,000 on the tax levy.]

• Amendment approved 6-0 to form a Workgroup to enter into discussions with the Hunger Task Force on the specifics of a lease arrangement that is beneficial to both parties. The proposed lease shall address all components of operating the farm and fish hatchery including, but not limited to, staffing, land utilization, commodity distribution and building maintenance and repair. [I co-sponsored this amendment.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to increase seasonal parks staff hours from 366,683 to 411,446. [I’ll check on the tax levy implications of this.]
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to deny the abolishment of 15 FTE Park Maintenance Worker in Charge positions and create 15 FTE Parks/Highway Maintenance Workers.

• • •

Tomorrow’s budget hearing will be on the county sheriff’s office and the  Behavioral Health Division. Also, I have my budget town hall at the Wilson Park Senior Center that night at 6:00.

Wednesday’s meeting is on Employee Fringe Benefits (which are often now worse than those at a private employer), Land Sales, and the Dept. of Administrative Services.

Thursday’s hearing will be for discussion of Finance and Audit Committee’s amendments and recommended tax levy, State Exempt Computer Aid, if necessary, and the Property Taxes Budget, as Amended.

Monday October 31 is the county board public hearing on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget. At this meeting, the public does all the speaking, and we listen. This will be at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 West Vliet Street.

The final Committee on Finance and Audit Budget Hearing will be on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, at 9:30 a.m.

We meet on Monday, November 7 to hammer out the final version, and hopefully pass it before the day turns into night and the night into day. But even then, it’s not over! We meet again on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. for possible veto overrides. I guarantee you Abele is going to try to keep the budget as flat as Walker. We’ll see how it all turns out.

Welcome to the 14th!

Hello, I’m Jason Haas, Milwaukee County Supervisor, 14th District. My district is entirely within the city of Milwaukee. I have a splash of Lake Michigan on the east, and College Avenue along the south. It is generally south of Oklahoma Avenue, with 20th, 27th and 35th Streets being the western borders. General Mitchell International Airport is in my district, along with a total of nine County Parks. Here’s the official county map:

Those are the 2004 borders. The northern border will become a bit more angular in November, when the new districts take effect. We’ll post the map then.

• • •

I have been serving on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors since April 21, 2011. All supervisors serve on several committees. My committee assignments are three: Parks, Energy and Environment, better known as “Parks”; the Transportation, Public Works and Transit, or “Transit”;  and the much shorter-named Personnel Committee. All three do very important work within the county government. Few have given me deeper insights into the county’s inner workings than the Personnel Committee, while the other two deal with what is largely the basis of our quality of life in the county.

Although I’ve been on the board for just six months so far, I have striven to do a great deal of work in the community. I regularly attend neighborhood meetings, and have held one town hall meeting about the 2012 proposed budget, with another coming on Wednesday October 25 at the Wilson Park Senior Center.

Another exiting event will happen on the 20th of October at Saveland Park. We will be meeting at 7:00PM in the Saveland Park Pavilion to discuss forming a group called Friends of Saveland Park. That group’s purpose will be to help create community events at the park, and to raise both awareness and money for repair and improvement of the park.

• • •

We are entering the second week of budget hearings. Tomorrow will focus on the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), which includes oversight of the airport and the county bus system. On top of that, we have these other sections in DPTW:

5070 DTPW - Transportation Services 
5080 DTPW - Architectural, Engineering and Environmental Services, 
5100 DTPW - Highway Maintenance 
5300 DTPW - Fleet Management 
5700 DTPW – Facilities Management 
5500 DTPW – Water Utility

Let me finish this by saying that if you want to see what a government really looks like and how it runs, sit in on a budget hearing. That’s where you see the inner mechanisms of this body. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but, that’s why we elect representatives to do that for us. I’m proud to say that I have been at every budget hearing we have held at the county courthouse. In about a month, the budget process will be over, and we will gird ourselves for whatever comes next.

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