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 (Franklin) common council may not be grasping the significance of what is going on under their noses"
Mike Zimmerman of the Rock Complex isn't taking rejection over the minor league baseball stadium quietly. His latest e-mail:
From: Mike Zimmerman <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Date: April 29, 2014, 9:15:44 AM CDT
To: Steve Olson <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Cc: "firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>" <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>, Mark Luberda <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>, Jesse Wesolowski <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>, Rick Oliva <ROliva@franklinwi.gov<mailto:ROliva@franklinwi.gov>>, Adam Remington <ARemington@franklinwi.gov<mailto:ARemington@franklinwi.gov>>, Paul Rotzenberg <PRotzenberg@franklinwi.gov<mailto:PRotzenberg@franklinwi.gov>>, Craig Haskins <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>, "firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>" <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Subject: RE: Courage under fire continued...
Dear Common Council and EDC,
I attended last nights EDC meeting in part to hear the Mayor's direction for the committee and in part to understand if there was an opportunity to put the deal centered on a Downtown and Stadium back on line. I encourage you all to listen to this recording as it reveals Mayor Olson's plans with complete clarity and is informative to where he is taking us over the next three years.
I found it interesting that the Mayors plans made no mention of the Downtown proposal especially considering it was on the agenda and was a real proposal from a Developer (myself). As a matter fact, pay special attention to the portions of the recordings when the assistant city attorney stops any and all discussions on the MOU. In other words, it wasn't even allowed to be addressed. So why does the city claim they want to continue to work with me publicly (see articles in paper) and make it virtually impossible to make happen?
Common Council, you are about to be led down a path centered solely on an Industrial Park and Business Park with almost total disregard for retail and quality of life projects. Thats the simple vision our Mayor has. I beg you to balance his vision out with these other two elements. Franklin is better than this. Its residents deserve more. There is no reason we cant have both. The Mayor suggests we can't have both due to focus. He also stated that "the window of opportunity is closing" on the Industrial Park and Business Park. Just thought I would note the irony of that comment.
Mayor Olsons playbook is really about stepping back into the future. Its the identical plan used in the past down to the identical players (you know the names) which he will end up seeding on committees like the EDC and ultimately the TID CDA, which by then is too late. In my opinion, getting the band back together to do another business park is not vision - its a cheap card trick that doesn't by itself move this city forward. Moreover, this city runs the risk of being hand cuffed by the residents with this upcoming petition. I don't think this helps the PR case for all of you if you kill the Downtown TID and rush on another Business Park or Industrial Park.
Respectfully, it appears the common council may not be grasping the significance of what is going on under their noses and the significance of the loss of a Downtown project that was teed up for the residents. Every once in a while, a city has a pivot point opportunity - an opportunity that can reshape or recast its future direction. In this case I believe it was a new Downtown, a stadium and a rejuvenated corridor on 76th and Rawson. It is now crystal clear what happened to our MOU. It had no chance because it wasn't on the Mayors "list of 2" and perhaps even threatened his vision. I encourage you to question and challenge this Mayor on his vision - be additive most importantly - as thats what you were elected to do in part.
Please don't business/industrial park our city to death!
From: Mike Zimmerman
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:51 AM
To: Steve Olson
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>; Mark Luberda; Jesse Wesolowski; Rick Oliva; Adam Remington; Paul Rotzenberg
Subject: Courage under fire
What happened??? I think I deserve a real explanation - one that is reflective of the effort I put into this. I read the motion and those points were all addressed so it feels either like a red herring or a plan of a different sort that I can't wrap my head around.
Moreover, how does it go unanimous? We had a task force led by two alderman who approved/forwarded the MOU to common council for approval. Separately, Alderwoman Kristen gave a compelling speech last Thursday to 90 plus people at the town hall meeting in favor of it. Your staff and attorney were sending me changes to the MOU as late as this afternoon - changes you just had to have and I agreed to. The Mayor himself was optimistic about the prospect of getting to yes although suggested I slow down (which I agreed to to the extent I could ) as we fine tune the deal. The majority flipped on the issue in closed doors? It doesn't add up for me.
My very first comment to city staff was that I am willing to negotiate and work with the city (City"s request) in good faith so long as everyone is open, truly wants to get to yes, and we can memorialize it via MOU by mid April. I was concerned that a new Mayor and members of common council might not be in support for a host of reasons (mainly because they are new to the topics that I have worked with the previous council on since early January) and didn't want to waste my time. I was assured that this was the collective intent of all - to get to yes that is. As a result, I literally put all other business affairs on hold for roughly two weeks and 100 plus hours of back and forth with the city to get us to a place where all parties felt like we had a good chance of success. You rejected my first proposal because existing tax dollars were not appropriate and it was you that suggested a TID among a host of other risk mitigation clauses for the city. You surly did not let Mark and Paul work with me in a vacuum to negotiate the finer points of OUR deal. This was a super deal for the city and one that was extremely collaborative, which makes the entire motion one of the oddest things I have ever been part of. Needless to say, its a very disappointing decision as far as I am concerned, along with thousands of other citizens and effected area business owners who will be knocking on your door I imagine. Risking the loss of a downtown and catalyst like the minor league baseball team is one that I am afraid could haunt you.
Important point: The city had no real risks (at least those in your motion) if your honest with yourselves; and if it did, I would have mitigated those just like I did for every other one you asked that I mitigate (even the one at the last hour today).
Did I understand your next steps accurately? You want me to work with the economic development committee, a committee with zero authority; especially knowing my timelines? I'm not just some developer you can push around. I am not Mejier, Walmart, Hitters or a slew of other great opportunities that knocked on our door and our elected officials botched. I am long time resident, tax payer and I gave a big piece of my wealth to this city. I worked hard to convert an eyesore and landfill into a gem for the city of Franklin. I do this because I love this city and I think I deserve more respect. As a matter or fact, any developer that wishes to develop in Franklin deserves the respect of our elected officials. The old school approach of putting developers on trial is no longer in practice and will get out to developers nationwide where no one will want to work with Franklin. We should be working with developers as our partners and maybe even roll out the red carpet for them on occasion. I hope you can be mindful of this with our next opportunity.
I truly hope I have misunderstood this. I would appreciate your timely reply so we can close the case on this.
KF NOTE: If any city of Franklin official wants to respond, I and I'm sure many residents are all ears. I must be honest. In all my years (over 35) of journalism and covering politics, I've never seen an issue of this magnitude where elected officials were so silent about a vote and/or a political decision. Will someone, anyone, at the city level say something for the record?