February 2004

Don’t forget to vote at the February 17 primary election! Check out the maps for new district boundaries online at to locate your district and polling place. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A new bi-monthly magazine, Fetch, is now available free at local pet supply stores, groomers, veterinarians, training clubs, and doggy daycares throughout southeastern Wisconsin. The magazine launched in January, and will publish its second edition in March. It features the writing of Riverwest Currents Pet Tales columnist and Companion Natural Pet Food owner Stacy Conroy. “Fetch Magazine expands and enlightens the nature of our relationships with dogs, providing both entertaining and informative features for Milwaukee-area dog lovers,” says Joseph Kojis, the magazine’s publisher. For more information call 414/489-1027 or e-mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Picture Milwaukee Places has reached its final phase, and you’re invited to check out the online scrapbook that organizers have put together at The website is designed like a scrapbook with one picture and personal caption for each page. “In most cases the ‘why’ is as revealing as the ‘where,'” says project organizer Jennifer Geigel. The scrapbook features more than 300 well-loved places in our city, including several from Riverwest. “There is a lot to be learned from the scrapbook about what people value about place,” Geigel said. “Current hot spots, places long-gone and zones of untapped potential are all collected for the first time in a very public forum.” The scrapbook is divided into ten chapters and is updated regularly as more content is received. Website visitors may also chime in via a “talkback” feature. For more info, call Jennifer at 414/374-7408 or e-mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Police, politicians, and neighborhood group representatives have set the goal of reducing car break-ins by more than 50% over the next year in the 5th District, which encompasses all of Riverwest. 3rd District aldermanic candidate Tim Vertz, a regular attendee at 5th District Crime reduction meetings, is advocating for an ordinance that he says would deter auto thefts by requiring used CD stores to ask CD sellers to write down their name and address and show identification before they could sell the CDs (CDs are the most common item stolen from cars in smash-and-grab thefts). 3rd District Ald. Mike D’Amato has looked into measures that have been successful in other cities and has asked Police Chief Nan Hegerty to meet with neighborhood and business groups to look at auto theft reduction measures. Hegerty has been invited to attend the crime reduction meeting Thursday, February 5, at 5:30 at the 5th District Station. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Five teenagers have been arrested in connection with a string of graffiti vandalism incidents stretching from the city’s east side to Wauwatosa. They allegedly worked as a team, using graffiti “tags” to deface property on N. Water Street, N. Warren Avenue, N. Farwell Avenue, N. Prospect Avenue, and E. Chambers Street, among others. All but the 16-year-old face serious state felony charges in connection with the incidents. Authorities estimate total property damage caused during the spree between $13,000 and $18,000. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wondering why you still can’t get through the Auer/Booth intersection? According to Ald. Mike D’Amato’s office, the Auer sewer project from Richards to Booth was scheduled to be done by now, but the crew ran into rough soil conditions and their tunneling machine broke inside the shaft. The only way to dig out the broken machine and start with a new tunneling machine is to dig a second shaft next to the original shaft. With this unforseen event, the project is not expected to be complete for eight weeks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The MPS Administration, at the request of the School Board’s Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, is looking at ways to change student transportation procedures to save money. The Administration’s review will concentrate on one option that would establish a three-tier school day for transportation purposes. Under the proposal, schools would operate on the following schedules: 7:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. City-wide Schools7:30 a.m. – 2:40 p.m. High Schools8:20 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. Middle Schools9:20 a.m. – 4:05 p.m. Elementary Schools The change would allow buses to conduct a middle school run between citywide and elementary runs and eliminate the need for about 140 buses, saving about $5.5 million annually. The change would require modification to the teachers’ contract and would affect starting times at Riverwest schools if approved. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Citizens Allied for Sane Highways (CASH) is asking the Wisconsin DOT to delay road projects, including the Marquette Interchange reconstruction — while the extent of the corruption in the road building industry is determined. Four officials of two road-building firms were charged in federal court in January with conspiring to rig bids on projects worth more than $100 million to the state. An FBI affidavit filed in the case says that one of the defendants was willing to “share information” with competitors about the Marquette reconstruction and Canal Street extension projects in Milwaukee. “This case raises a whole new series of questions about why so many road building projects in this state grow so big and cost so much,” said CASH co-chair Gretchen Schuldt. CASH is a coalition formed to oppose the $6.5+ billion freeway expansion in Milwaukee and surrounding areas approved by the South East Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Looking for volunteer opportunities? Adult volunteers are needed as homework helpers at libraries to mentor and work with young people through May. Volunteers can help elementary and middle school students looking for help with homework; hours are generally week nights from 4 to 7 p.m. If you have a couple hours a week to help a student, please call one of our local libraries: Martin Luther King Library, 310 W. Locust St., 286-3098; Downtown, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., 286-3091. Another program offering opportunities for those over 55 is the RSVP Senior Corps (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program). Call 414/220-8651 to find out about volunteer possibilities at area hospitals, museums, elementary schools, nursing homes, meal sites, theatres, and in your own neighborhood. The program is sponsored by Interfaith Older Adult Programs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Milwaukee World, the website where Bruce Murphy broke the county pension scandal story, is up and running again after a brief hiatus. Murphy now writes for the Journal Sentinel, but the torch has passed a couple times since Murphy’s day, and now Michael Horne serves as the site’s editor and publisher. If you miss his style and attitude from his days of writing for the Shepherd Express, all you have to do is check in online at for the distinctively Horne look at life and politics in Milwaukee. Content has been regularly updated every Monday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We have to toot our own horn just a little… We’ve come a long way since the first edition of the Riverwest Currents hit the streets February, 2002. Our cover story was a large feature on the reservoir and its history; the paper was a scant 12 pages with no color. We’re celebrating our second birthday this month by offering 36 pages of locally relevant and interesting news and features, along with some font, design, and formatting changes, with more to come next month. Much thanks and credit is due to the many hard working volunteers and near-volunteers who have been steady in their commitment to this project. Thanks also to the support of readers like you and local businesses who advertise (please patronize them and keep our local economy healthy!), we’ve reached two years and are going strong.