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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2010: #7


The following wasn’t the most important Franklin news item of 2010, but it demonstrates how fascinating, strange, and bizarre local politics can be.

For background, watch this news video from Fox 6…





On August 18, 2010, I wrote a blog, "It's so wonderful to see the Franklin Common Council has its priorities in order."  Here's an excerpt:

"From jsonline.com:

'The Common Council might allow residents to grow 'natural lawns' - those containing common species of grass and wild flowers native to North America which are designed and purposefully cultivated to exceed 12 inches in height from the ground.'

Here's what they look like. From a video taken on S. 81st Street in Milwaukee between Morgan and Howard. So lovely!"

 




Now remember, this idea was being proposed in Franklin where, if you want to build a new home, you have to kiss the rings of some ridiculous board that decides if the color of trim on your house is suitable or not.

On August 25, 2010, WUWM’s Susan Bence gave an update in an in-depth, informative piece. But I found it very odd that Bence couldn’t find a single soul to go on tape that was passionately opposed to natural lawns.

Here’s her story complete with link to audio.

The owner of the Franklin lawn in question, Deb Bozewicz, did not go public. However, she did submit a statement to Franklin blogger Greg Kowalski.

I've known Deb Bozewicz for many years and she is a terrific person. Her colleagues (including yours truly) do give her some occasional good-natured teases about her land. Two weeks ago when I saw her last, I asked her what she calls “those weeds." She replied with a huge grin, "It's prairie!"

Her neighbor who we saw in the FOX 6 video, Bob Swendrowski complained to City Hall and in the process showed photos of various Franklin residents and their properties, including one of Alderman Kristen Wilhelm in summer attire washing her car. Swendrowski's purpose was unknown, but he did suggest a solution. What's the solution to everything in Franklin? A tax.

Swendrowski wanted the Common Council to adopt a $100 resdiential fee for anyone growing natural lawns or prairies or vegetation 12 inches or higher. It was quickly dubbed the "Flower Tax."

On September 7, 2010, Alderman Wilhelm sent me the following:

I received my council packet early Saturday for Tuesdays meeting.  Here are a few items that may be of interest.

 

 

1. FRANKLIN FLOWER TAX? 

 

A resident is requesting the Council adopted a yard ordinance requiring a $100 residential fee and a maintenance plan for planting lawn flowers over 12 inches.  This all began as a neighbor dispute and is NOT about the City “promoting wildflowers” as reported in the paper.

 

 

The PRESENT, EXTENSIVE ORDINANCE CONTROLS WEEDS.   Here is a PORTION of what is ALREADY IN PLACE.

Full present code here> http://www.ecode360.com/?custId=FR1719

 

“All noxious weeds shall be kept cut to a height not to exceed 18 inches, and in platted SUBDIVISIONS which have buildings on more than 50% of the lots, noxious weeds shall be kept cut to a height of not to exceed 6 inches.”

 

 

Our taxes already pay for a “weed commissioner” to enforce the above rules. With major budget issues, staff time would be better spent cutting expenses and on managing drainage and road issues, not creating new problems, fees and turning staff into blossom police.  Do we need MORE RULES & FEES?

 

Go here for Council (voting) members if you want to express keeping the current rules and no to more residential fees and more government control over private residential lots.

 

http://franklinwi.gov/Home/Departments/ElectedOfficials/CommonCouncil.htm


Following the Common Council meeting, Alderman Wilhelm followed up:


Dear Residents,

 

 

ORDINANCE ON FLOWER FEES - Common sense prevails.

 

Last night the Franklin Community proved the power in numbers. Due to those who attended and/or took time to voice their opinion to ALL voting members and the Mayor, the requested ordinance requiring a $100 fee and maintenance plan for installing flowers over 12” was defeated by “placing it on file”.

 

I truly enjoyed the many comments but I was not able to respond before the meeting since I also sit on the earlier scheduled Licensing Committee.  However, I did read all of them and have selected a FEW LINES (from the many replies) for your reading.

 

     Wow, you are kidding?

     It should go into the book of dumb laws.

     Let's deal with the root issue here not over govern.

     Before I react, I need to confirm that this is reality….

     Budgets are tight and in this economy to have someone police “flowers” is just stupid.

     To require municipal involvement when neighbors should work issues out together is a waste of staff time.

     The proposed ordinance is prohibitive, expensive both for the individual gardener and for the community (to approve,   monitor and enforce).

 

Your voices made a difference in defeating the poor “flower tax” request and in keeping the present more sensible procedures in place. Good for you, good for government. 


Amen.

Franklin's flower tax had wilted and died.

Deb Bozewicz still has her prairie and her neighbor probably remains unhappy. And Franklin actually said NO to a tax increase.

If the issue of natural lawns would be the worst problem Franklin faced, that would be A-OK with me.


THE TOP 10  FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2010

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ? 
7)  FRANKLIN'S FLOWER TAX
8)  IT'S DEJA VU FOR FRANKLIN FOOTBALL

9)  DOES FRANKLIN NEED/WANT A FULL-TIME MAYOR?
10)NPR IN BIG TROUBLE....THE LOCAL ANGLE

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