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January 2004

Want to find out who’s running for Alderman in your district? The Riverwest Currents and Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) are co-sponsoring an Aldermanic Forum for Third District candidates Tuesday, January 20, at 6 p.m. at the Gordon Park Pavilion at Locust & Humboldt. Neighbors will be able to submit questions and candidates will get a chance to speak on issues relevant to our neighborhood. All are invited; the Third District includes most of Riverwest. A Sixth District forum will be held in February.

The city has received a state Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) award to put a bike lane on Holton Street from Reservoir to Center Street. The state awarded the city $637,200 for the project, and the city will cover the difference. The estimated cost is $796,500 for providing bike lanes, trees, pedestrian-level lighting, and crosswalk and intersection treatments along Holton Street.

Last month Milwaukee Common Council tackled several issues of interest to our neighborhood and near neighbors. In a defeat for Brewers Hill Neighborhood Association efforts, the council went against the recommendation of the City Planning Commission and against neighbors’ wishes in approving a Chicago firm’s large condo development on E. Brown Street between N. Palmer and N. Hubbard Streets. Third District Ald. Mike D’Amato voted to send the matter back to committee, while Sixth District Ald. Marlene Johnson-Odom helped push it through despite the outspoken wishes of her constituents. The council held off a vote on the Park East Development plan until January. Aldermen D’Amato and Fred Gordon are sponsoring an ordinance in conjunction with the plan that would help institute most of the requirements of the Community Benefits Agreement promoted by Good Jobs Livable Neighborhoods, a coalition of labor and progressive interest groups. Aldermen D’Amato and Don Richards also co-sponsored an ordinance brought to the city by Riverwest group Peace Action. The “Bill of Rights Defense Act,” among other things, reiterates the city’s support for Milwaukeeans freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and privacy, right to counsel and due process, and protection from unreasonable searches, seizures, and detention. The act was spurred by an April incident at the airport where Peace Action members were detained. A sharply divided council also voted to allow bars to lock their doors and buzz people in after looking at them using security cameras. Some Riverwest bars already have been observing this practice for quite some time.

Riverwest Yogashala, 731 E. Locust, is offering free yoga classes every third Sunday of the month from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Beginners and seasoned yoga practitioners alike are welcome to attend. Riverwest Yogashala also is continuing its yoga for the community series, partnering with Public Allies, a non-profit that identifies talented young adults from diverse backgrounds and advances their leadership through 10-month Americorps programs of full-time, paid apprenticeships, weekly leadership training, and team service projects. Donations for the group will be accepted at any Riverwest Yogashala class or special event. For more info, contact New classes begin soon for children and beginners as well, so if yoga made it onto your new year’s resolution list, now’s a great time to start.

Lights out in Riverwest? Residents have been reporting several-block stretches of street lights out some evenings. If you notice lights out in the neighborhood, call the city’s street lighting repair shop at 286-3481. A dispatcher is on duty at all hours.

Riverwesters Steve Filmanowicz and Molly Christofferson are joining former Mayor John Norquist in working for Chicago’s Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Filmanowicz, who was one of Norquist’s top aides, will make the daily commute to Chicago by Amtrak. Christofferson, who is running Sandy Folaron’s mayoral campaign, will work as a consultant for CNU on scheduling and fundraising.

The Fifth District has a new captain: Captain James Shepard, formerly captain of the Vice Squad. Captain Shepard, along with new chief Nan Hegerty, met with neighbors at last month’s RNA meeting to express their commitment to working with neighbors to reduce crime. He also welcomed neighbors to attend the Fifth District’s monthly crime meeting, to be held January 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Fifth District police station at 4th and Locust Streets. For more information, contact 5th District Community Liaison Bruce Scott at 935-7258.

Milwaukee Recreation is inviting those who play the violin, viola, cello, and bass to join its new 55+ String Ensemble. The ensemble will perform show tunes and classical music and will practice at Milwaukee Recreation’s 55+ Senior Center, 2414 W. Mitchell St. Interested musicians can call 414/647-6043 for more info.

Application materials are available for the Mary Horwitt Piano Scholarship, which gives MPS middle and high school up to $1,000 in financial assistance for piano lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Materials are to be submitted to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music by February 2. Interested students can get an application from the Conservatory (414/276-5760), the MPS Music Department (414/475-8050), or the MPS Guidance Department (414/475-8174). The application is also available at www.wcmusic.org.

Strive Media on Martin Luther King Drive is working to raise awareness of the effect that tobacco advertising at corner stores and gas stations has on young children. In a ten-minute presentation called “Operation Storefront,” young people from Strive Media put together a convincing case for limiting the amount of tobacco ads plastered on the walls and windows of our neighborhood’s stores. In their research, they found that 49% of gas stations and corner stores in the 53212 zip code sold cigarettes to minors. The city already has an ordinance on the books limiting the percentage of window space that can be covered by tobacco ads, but they don’t have an agent to enforce the law. Want to report an offender? Ald. Mike D’Amato says if you call his office at 286-3447 he’ll follow up on the issue and have the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) take action.

Social Development Commission (SDC) elections for Community Representatives will be held on March 2, 2004. Election and Candidate Packets will be available for pick-up beginning Friday, January 16 at SDC, 4041 N. Richards St. An Election Information Hotline will be activated on January 10. For more info, call 414/906-2752. The SDC representative for Area IV (which includes Riverwest, East Side, Harambee, and Brewers Hill) is Riverwester Vanessa Kuehner. The MPS school board has granted permission for Palmer School, 1900 N. 1st St., to expand grade levels to K-8. Palmer is currently a K-5 school.

A big thank you goes out to former UWM intern and Currents staff writer and compiler of calendar listings Eryn Moris for her dedication and hard work. Eryn is moving to Austin, Texas, in January. We’ll miss you, Eryn!

What would you like to see in the Riverwest Currents? We’re celebrating our second anniversary next month — including a Friday, January 30, 2nd anniversary party at Linneman’s, food and music included, to which you are all invited! We’re thinking of making a few changes to our layout and content. Is there anything you appreciate and would like to see more of? What would you like to change? Please let us know by contacting us at 265-7278 or

In an article about the new Milwaukee Environmental Consortium on Farwell (December Riverwest Currents), the explanation of the rent situation was somewhat misleading. The rent listed in the article was $500. However, that amount simply buys a membership in the consortium. To have an office would cost more, starting at $112 per month for a cubicle. It’s still a good deal, but not quite as sweet as the article implied.

In an article about Riverside University High School’s Shakespeare performance (December Riverwest Currents) the actress who played Katherina in the Taming of the Shrew should have been identified as Krystal Drake. We apologize for the error.