Milwaukee County's Parks
Milwaukee County's park system is a crown jewel. But maintaining this public asset is increasingly a heavy lift for a parks department that over the years has had to do a lot more without additional resources.
Alison Dirr and Vanessa Swales take a deep dive into this complicated subject as the parks face a looming "fiscal cliff" with an infrastructure backlog valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
A new report from the Wisconsin Public Forum lays out the local issues and looks into how a few communities around the country are sustaining their park systems.
"It is really staggering to see the extent to which the county's ability to devote property tax levy resources to maintenance and upkeep of the parks has just diminished over time," said Rob Henken, president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum.
State Supreme Court hands GOP initial redistricting win
It was a technical victory but a big one for Republicans Tuesday as the state Supreme Court announced it would minimize changes it would make to Wisconsin's election maps.
The bottom line: the GOP is effectively guaranteed to control the Legislature for the next decade, Patrick Marley writes:
"The ruling comes as the justices prepare to issue a final ruling that will establish the exact contours of the state's legislative and congressional districts. Where the lines go could give one political party an edge in elections for years.
"Tuesday's 4-3 decision set the parameters for what comes next. The majority said it would not take into account partisanship in deciding where to draw the lines in the coming months.
"The decision broke along ideological lines, with the four conservatives in the majority and the three liberals in the minority."
Michael Gableman's investigation
Patrick Marley is the go-to reporter on all things Michael Gableman, the former state Supreme Court justice who leads a taxpayer-funded GOP investigation into the 2020 presidential election.
Marley has two stories on how things are going.
As Marley writes:
"State records show Wisconsin taxpayers spent more than $2,700 to send officials to Arizona and South Dakota as part of a review of the election even though Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the public would not have to cover those costs.
"Vos spokeswoman Angela Joyce did not initially respond to questions about the payments. Shortly after this article was posted online Tuesday, she said the payments should not have been made and the Assembly would attempt to recover them.
"The newly released records also show the team hired by Assembly Republicans is sharing office space with a nonprofit group and law firm that have been at the forefront of efforts to overturn the presidential results in Wisconsin and elsewhere."
And then there's the story about some of the folks Galbeman has met during this GOP probe.
"Among those Gableman met with were Peter Bernegger, a felon convicted of fraud who has been using the open records law to gather images of Wisconsin ballots, according to Nate Cain, a West Virginia consultant who has assisted Gableman.
"Gableman and his team last month also met with Shiva Ayyadurai, who has contended without evidence that the votes were taken away from Donald Trump based on a science fiction novel; Mike Lindell, the MyPillow executive who has spent a year making over-the-top false claims that the election was hacked by the Chinese; and Douglas Frank, the chairman of the math and science department at an Ohio school who has falsely asserted that votes in Michigan were manipulated with a mathematical 'key.' "
Milwaukee DA John Chisholm faces criticism on bail
Daniel Bice takes a look at the Republican-led criticism of Milwaukee County District John Chisholm in the aftermath of the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.
Chisholm took the blame for the low bail set for Darrell Brooks, Jr., in a case in early November. Brooks, the accused driver in the parade assault, faces six counts of first degree homicide.
"Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, are responding to the tragedy by calling into question Chisholm's efforts to limit the use of cash bail. The liberal prosecutor believes cash bail is harmful to poor defendants who often can't afford to pay the sum set by judges for their release from jail before trial.
Assembly Judiciary Chairman Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) said: "When we have a D.A. who is trying to play defense attorney, you're circumventing the system. You're failing to do your job, and I don't find that appropriate. And it isn't what he's been hired to do."
Rebecca Kleefisch waits on a major opponent
Rebecca Kleefisch is still waiting on a major rival to join the Republican race for governor.
State Rep. John Macco announced Tuesday that he won't make the run. The Republican from Ledgeview made the announcement on Facebook Live and vowed to back Kleefisch in her bid to claim the nomination and take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers next year.
"My brother asked me, 'Do you have one more big fight in you?' And I think the answer to that is no," he said. "The concept of having to get up and work 12 and 16 hours a day, six days a week for the next 15 months, I just don’t have it in me to do it and I think we have a great alternative. So I will not be running for governor."
Wisconsin would get $420 million in opioid settlement
Molly Beck writes that "Wisconsin would receive $420 million over the next two decades under an agreement a panel of lawmakers approved Tuesday in a multi-state lawsuit against major distributors of opioids for their role in a national health crisis that has affected hundreds of thousands of Americans.
"The settlement is part of a $26 billion deal between opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson and plaintiffs."
Tweet of the week
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers pushes back against Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's recent proposal for state legislators to take over control of federal elections in Wisconsin: "The 2020 election was safe & secure. Yet, Sen. Ron Johnson continues to push reckless rhetoric, throwing our democracy into peril. I will continue to be a bulwark to make sure our elections are accessible to voters and represent the will of the people."
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County's Parks; Michael Gableman's investigation