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Event of the Week: Shop Local

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

Dec. 4, 2008
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Come on, Milwaukee. Keep your favorite locally owned companies in business during these tough economic times. Make a promise to buy local this holiday season at www.expressmilwaukee.com and you could win great prizes from local businesses. The Shepherd Express’ computers will randomly pick winners throughout December—and we won’t even check your receipts to make sure that you’ve made good on your promise. Just sign up and shop at local retailers.

You can also check out the Exchange Alternative Gift Fair and Our Milwaukee Buy Local Fair on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place. You can purchase cool gifts and make donations to local charities that do good work throughout the year.

Hero of the Week: Brother Dave Schwab

One welcome phenomenon of the holiday season is the outpouring of aid and compassion to the less fortunate in our community. There are those among us, however, who make it a year-round mission to aid the needy, such as Brother Dave Schwab, who administers the Community Meal Program at St. Ben’s Parish. The program, which takes place 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday, provides more than 100,000 meals a year at 924 W. State St. Brother Dave began managing the program in 2004, and is quick to give credit to other members of the St. Ben’s community who show up night after night to ensure that less fortunate Milwaukeeans don’t go home hungry. Those who would like to donate their time or money beyond the holiday season are encouraged to contact St. Ben’s at 271-0135 or visit their Web site at www.stbensmilwaukee.org.

Jerk of the Week: Alderman Jim Bohl

Unfortunately, Milwaukee has an alderman in Jim Bohl who doesn’t try to solve Milwaukee’s problems, but instead uses any issue he can to stir up his constituents with fear and hatred. At times he actually makes rightwing radio’s Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes sound moderate. Bohl’s most recent effort is to attack judges and the district attorney’s office for not locking up more teens. If you listen to Bohl, young teens are rampaging through our communities, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

To his credit, though, Bohl did accurately state that he’s “not a criminal justice expert.” So with that admission he should leave things in the hands of the experts. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has several excellent federally funded programs—such as one involving community prosecutors—that directly affect the issue that Bohl is blowing out of proportion. If Bohl would spend less time pushing the Bush/Cheney strategy of fear and hate-mongering and more time trying to solve problems, Milwaukee would be a much better and safer place for all of us.

Blog of the Week: Brew City Brawler

Sykes, Sick Days and “Human Nature”

Is anyone more responsible for dumbing down the debate about the sick-day mandate than Charlie Sykes?

Take, for instance, his periodic needling that, “I’ve got nine sick days now.” The Brawler would be shocked if Charlie’s contract didn’t call for at least 10 sick days during any given year. Shoot, Gene Mueller took five sick days in less than two weeks. Still, Charlie simply cannot resist the temptation to act like a tool.

Which takes us to the fundamental way in which he dumbs down the debate about the sick-day mandate: by repeating ad nauseam that Milwaukee workers will automatically take all nine sick days. On yesterday’s show he made sure to include a caller who said he might take all nine if he worked in Milwaukee; a guy who said he would take sick days to screw off if he could; and a business owner who says giving all her workers sick days would cost her $20,000.

All of which is interesting. But as they say, anecdotes ain’t data. And the data shows that half of all employees don’t take a sick day in a single year. In all, employees take an average of 1.8 sick days a year—hardly a crippling cost. But it’s difficult for Charlie to whip people into a frenzy about something without distorting the truth.

Charlie asserts that it would be “human nature” for someone to abuse the sick-day policy and take nine a year. Charlie could assert that, I don’t know, screwing around on the mother of your children is human nature as well. But I don’t think most people would buy that. Nor should they buy his arguments against the sick-day mandate.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “It’s much harder to be a liberal than a conservative. Why? Because it is easier to give someone the finger than a helping hand.” —The late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Downtown Books, by Jon Bailey


"Three musty stories of crooked shelves, back rooms and creaky floors.  Downtown Books is one of those special bookstores that Milwaukee is lucky to have."

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