February 2003

Maybe you have noticed the “informational picket” on Water Street and Humboldt near the condo construction at the River. Mark Scott, business representative for the South East Wisconsin Regional Council of Carpentry, says this action is “picketing substandard wages and benefits” paid by Ollman Construction Company, the subcontractor used by the developer New Land Enterprises. Members of the union would have liked an opportunity to bid on work on this and other New Land projects. The union picketers on the street do rough and finish carpentry, flooring, insulation, and drywall work. Scott points out that these workers are local residents and tax-paying citizens, and that many of the hired contractors on this job are from out of town. Journeymen union carpenters receive $26.25 an hour, but due to weather conditions work an average of 1,600 to 1,700 hours per year versus 2,000 plus hours for most full-time workers.

COA Youth and Family Centers continues to receive acclaim and recognition for the outstanding work it does in the Riverwest community. COA recently received news that it was awarded a $70,000 Fighting Back initiative grant, a grant that helps organizations create programming to fight drug abuse. For more information on COA’s award, see page 14.

Milwaukee Latina Carmen Alicia Murguia has been named one of the 16 most influential Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Latina/os in the country by Tentaciones Magazine, the national LGBT Latino/a bilingual publication The magazine can be found in all LGBT stores around the country, Spain, and Latin America. Awards are based on the recipient’s activism, achievements, visibility, and leadership in 2002. In response to the 2001 Milwaukee murder of Chicana lesbian Juana Vega, Murguia led the creation of the Juana Vega Resources Center, a project to provide scholarships to Latina lesbian and bisexual women. The center strives to provide social, culture, and educational programming, along with providing support and advocacy for the women.

Pedro Colon was scheduled to announce his run for mayor January 29 at the VFW Post in Bay View. Colon has numerous supporters in the neighborhood. After asking for input from neighbors, the Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) is ready to move ahead on taking an official stance on gentrification. For an excerpt from the proposed paper, the RNA News, and a recently-passed position paper on freeway expansion, see page 8. If you’re interested in being part of the RNA, which will soon be filing for non-profit status, please attend a monthly meeting, held the second Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m., at 604 E. Center St.

Looking for a way to volunteer in our neighborhood? Two food pantries in Riverwest need committed volunteers to help stock shelves and pack bags. Gaenslen School Food Pantry (located at 1250 E. Burleigh St.) needs two or three volunteers each Tuesday from 4-6:30 p.m. Riverwest Food Pantry at St. Casimir’s Catholic Church (914 E. Clarke St.) also needs volunteers every Saturday from 8:30-11 a.m. You can work every week or just once per month. For more information contact Shelly Hovick at The Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee at 777-0483 or at .

The City has decided to enforce winter alternate-side night parking regulations here. To avoid getting smacked with a $15 fine, park on the side of the street with odd address numbers on odd-numbered dates, and the even address side on even number dates (date is determined by what day it is at 11 p.m.). The regulations are in effect through March 1. Some neighbors were told in December that the rules were not in effect and had night parking tickets forgiven, but the Violations Bureau says that information was wrong. Easy money for the City, since few blocks in Riverwest can fit all cars onto one side of the street. Ald. D’Amato says he is lobbying to get night parking rules changed so that alternate parking is only required on nights when there is more than two inches of snow on the ground. For night parking regulations on your block, go to and enter your address. You may have to do a little digging.

Milwaukee residents can now register their bicycles online. To register, you need a form from a Milwaukee Police Department District station or any Milwaukee Public Library. Then, log on to, click on the “Activate Bicycle License” link, and type in the registration number from the sticker attached to the form. This is now the ONLY way to register your bike in the city. Registration is free. For those who do not have Internet access, activation may be completed by using computers at any Milwaukee Public Library. You could also get a registration form from the License Division at or by calling 286-2238. The License Division will send you the form in the mail.

District 5 held a Crime Reduction Meeting at the Martin Luther King Library last month. Captain Vincent Flores met with a group of nearly 20 people. At least one County Supervisor and three Milwaukee Common Council members were in attendance. Captain Flores provided an overview of District 5, which contains approximately 97,000 people in a 9 square mile area. Riverwest falls wholly within District 5, which has a station just west of Martin Luther King Dr. on Locust Street. Police said they have targeted particular areas of the district for extra coverage during different seasons, days of the week, and times of day. To reduce the effect of rumors, police said they will develop a method to provide the community with accurate information. The group will continue to meet. Call District 5 if you wish to be informed of the meeting times and places. MPD information about District 5 can be found at:

Ald. Johnson-Odom, who represents part of Riverwest, is sponsoring an ordinance that the city’s Utilities and Licensing Committee reviewed Tuesday, January 28, after the Currrents went to press… the ordinance, inspired by neighbors’ opposition to Closet Classics’ request for a cabaret license to host Japanese anime showings, would allow the common council to have more regulatory power over entertainment, including requiring businesses to acquire annual licenses or one-time permits from the city to host “shows or exhibitions.” According to the meeting agenda, which can be found on the city’s website, the ordinance excludes events held in taverns if the tavern holds an amusement or theatre license. If approved, applicants would have to submit a plan of operation for the premises on which the shows or exhibitions are to take place, including hours of operation, the number of patrons expected, the legal occupancy limit of the premises, the number of off-street parking spaces available at the premises, whether or not the shows or exhibitions held at the premises will make use of sound amplification equipment and what plans, if any, the applicant has to provide security and for the orderly appearance and operation of the premises with respect to litter and noise. This ordinance also establishes a minimum clothing standard and provides a procedure for the non-renewal, suspension or revocation of licenses.

WWMLKJD: What would Martin Luther King Jr. Do? The 800 plus citizens attending the YMCA breakfast at the Pfister Hotel Jan. 20 to celebrate his birthday got several powerful politicians to give their opinions on WWMLKJD regarding current events. The events started with Senator Russ Feingold, who opined that Dr. King would support affirmative action, unlike President George W. Bush, who recently decided this was a good time to reject affirmative action programs. Mayor John O. Norquist took the cue from Senator Feingold and was visibly agitated while presenting his comments. Norquist tarted out saying that Dr. King would be against the war looming with Iraq and heated up to a diatribe against suburban interests encouraging sprawl. Mayor Norquist held that tax incentives to expand businesses in suburban areas that have restrictive zoning codes on housing, which results in communities segregated by class, are an “injustice” that Dr. King would oppose. “I want to make some people uncomfortable this morning,” said Mayor Norquist, probably referring to County Executive Scott Walker and possibly Governor James Doyle, who were in attendance. The Mayor said this sprawl is the driving force behind the proposal to widen the freeways. We do not need to “build roads to disassemble and move industry out of the City,” a city that allows people of all classes to reside, said the Mayor. He seemed ready to lead the charge against this injustice. Concerned citizens can attend the Milwaukee County Board meeting Feb. 6 at 4420 W. Vliet St. to register their opinions.

If you have an activity or item of interest to report, please send email to Further Down Stream at or drop us a line at: Riverwest Currents, 733 E. Clarke St., Milwaukee, WI 53212. (414) 265-7278 Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 2 – February 2003