Here’s a link to some of the photos from the party. Thanks again to Pizza Man for the great food, excellent service and being an important neighborhood anchor on Downer Avenue.
Archives for March 2016
Ald. Nik Kovac and City Budget Director Mark Nicolini will discuss the City of Milwaukee budget and how decisions are made to allocate funds to specific areas, at our 7 p.m. Wednesday April 6, 2016, meeting.
Kovac serves as chairman of the Common Council’s Finance and Budget Committee. which leads legislative analysis and action on the mayor’s annual city budget. He represents Milwaukee’s East Side (including the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood), Riverwest and Brady Street neighborhoods.
As part of their talk, Kovac and Nicolini will discuss how the city chooses the amount to spend on various services, such as public safety, streets and sidewalks, sewer and water pipes, economic development, libraries and public health. Kovac and Nicolini will also take questions from attendees.
The talk will be part of HWTN’s monthly meeting and is free and open to the public. It takes place in the Marcia Coles Community Room of the Lake Park Pavilion, beneath Lake Park Bistro. Cookies and coffee, courtesy of Lake Park Bistro, will be available starting at 6:45 p.m.
Ald. Kovac has been alderman for Milwaukee’s 3rd District, which includes the East Side, Riverwest and North Downtown neighborhoods, since April 2008. He serves as chair of the Common Council’s Finance & Personnel Committee and is a member of the Zoning and Neighborhood Development and Capital Improvements Committees.
Kovac’s work extends outside City Hall and throughout his district as chair of the East Side Architectural Review Board and member of the Milwaukee Arts Board, the Milwaukee Public Library Board of Trustees, the Milwaukee County Federated Library Board, the Park East Advisory Committee, the Lakefront Development Advisory Commission and the Riverside University High School Foundation Board of Directors.
Kovac was born and raised on Milwaukee’s East Side in the HWTN area. He attended Milwaukee Public Schools—from McDowell Montessori School to Golda Meir Elementary School, and Jackie Robinson Middle School through Riverside High School. While at Riverside, he earned more than 20 college credits from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Attending Harvard University and graduating cum laude with a degree in mathematics, Kovac became a beat reporter and then a newspaper editor in New York City. He returned to Milwaukee to work for the Shepherd Express and Riverwest Currents.
City Budget Director Mark Nicolini has more than 30 years of budgeting and strategic planning experience from executive, legislative and departmental perspectives at the state, regional, and city levels of government. Nicolini has served as the City of Milwaukee’s Budget & Management Director since August, 2004, during the entire tenure of Mayor Tom Barrett. During this time, Nicolini and his staff have implemented the Accountability in Management (AIM) program, funded major improvements in core infrastructure replacement cycles, maintained key service levels, and developed community-responsive budget initiatives. This has taken place in the context of declines to state financial assistance and the need to accommodate substantial increases to employer pension contributions.
During his tenure in the Wisconsin State Budget Office, Mr. Nicolini designed new statewide funding initiatives for adult literacy and economic development-focused technical college programs. He also served as Governor Tommy Thompson’s lead advisor for Wisconsin Retirement System benefit and finance issues.
Nicolini earned an A.B. degree from Wabash College, where he graduated summa cum laude and was awarded an NCAA post-graduate fellowship for outstanding achievements in scholarship and athletics. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Policy & Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At the invitation of our alderman, Nik Kovac, Milwaukee Police Department Asst. Chief Jim Harpole discussed various crime issues affecting the City of Milwaukee and Police District One with more than 100 people who attended the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood monthly meeting March 2, 2016.
We learned from Harpole that carjackings citywide have dropped 67% since the implementation of the 90-day task force. Harpole suggested that the drop could be due, in part, to “word spreading” among would-be offenders that the gun court and the juvenile justice system are taking this crime seriously and issuing harsh penalties.
Carjacking, according to Harpole, is being examined at the “highest levels” of city government. While it is a citywide issue, the MPD has determined that the prevailing trend is that the carjackers committing crimes in District One are likely coming from District Three. Therefore, police resources are being directed to District Three to stem the flow of carjacking to our neighborhoods.
Interestingly, Harpole also described new technology called STAR Chase Pursuit Management Technology that is being used to track carjackers. This system allows police to launch a GPS device from their vehicle that sticks to the criminal’s car and thus allows police to track the carjackers without the need for dangerous high speed pursuits. However, a significant drawback is that the GPS device has problems adhering to cars in cold weather. With respect to high speed chases, AC Harpole reiterated the MPD’s current pursuit policy, explaining there is no pursuit except in the situation of violent crimes such as armed carjackings, but that even when pursuit is justified the officers are required to exercise due regard for public safety.
An issue frustrating many residents is the question of how to get timely and accurate information regarding crime in their neighborhoods. Harpole acknowledged that the MAP system, which was purchased in 2005, is now outdated. He thanked Alderman Kovac, who, in his role as the chairman of the Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee, has been instrumental in allocating funds for the purchase of a customized records management system for the MPD that will eventually allow for the implementation of a public platform for disseminating realtime crime information to neighborhoods. The use of the crime notifications from “Spotcrime” was discussed at the meeting. Harpole as well as residents and Officer Jose Alba pointed out the limitations of Spotcrime. For one, Spotcrime is not actual crime reports. Rather, it is a call log and can be misleading because many of the calls do not actually involve crimes, much less crimes in our area. Harpole encouraged residents to continue using the Nextdoor website and app (and sign up for the “Historic Water Tower” neighborhood to receive applicable updates), which is where Officer Jose Alba has been providing timely, detailed, and reliable reports of any significant crimes in our police district.
The question of police staffing was briefly discussed at the meeting. Harpole and Kovac explained that MPD has a robust police force and that Kovac, as chairman of the Finance and Personnel Committee, has successfully managed to assist in preserving the size of the force in the face of budgetary pressures while other major cities in the U.S. have drastically reduced their police forces. Kovac explained that given budgetary restraints, over the past decade the percentage of city employees has been reduced by 10%, whereas the police force has seen a relatively minor decrease hovering around 3%. Currently, there are about 1,900 working officers, and 1,000 of those are patrol officers. Harpole commented that this is a “very big force” relative to the size of the city and the police forces of other major cities in the U.S.
Following the extensive question-and-answer session with Harpole, Officer Jose Alba along with 1st District Capt. Eric Moore offered home security tips for residents.
- Using landscaping as a deterrent (e.g. thorny bushes under windows but not too high as to provide a hiding spot for thieves);
- Avoid leaving notes on doors for delivery persons;
- Get security company signs for your yard (even fake ones are a deterrent);
- Get a “beware of dog” sign, as thieves don’t like dogs, even little ones that can alert homeowners with their barking;
- While on vacation: stop your mail, notify the district police for extra patrols, do not post vacation photos on Facebook during the vacation, and do not put your home address on luggage tags because baggage handlers can be networked with criminals who will then target your home;
- Leave a radio or television on when you’re not home in the day. Officer Alba also recommended a device called Fake TV that mimics the flickering light of television and can be set on a timer when you’re away from home;
- Call for a Target Hardening Assessment from a District One officer if you feel you need help assessing your home’s security;
- Use motion detector lights;
- Reinforce flimsy doors to garages.
Officer Alba also handed out brochures that addressed basic home security suggestions. HWTN will continue to provide these brochures and other security handouts at future meetings. When we asked about the number of burglaries throughout District One since the beginning of 2016, we were told there had been 49. Most of those burglaries involved UWM student housing and that number also includes reports of items stolen from garages.
– Laura Shipley, Chairman, Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Initiative for Public Safety Committee