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.

"Sewer overflows happen frequently, without public notification"

Topics talked about on WISN

Here is the Appleton Post-Crescent article I discussed on WISN today while filling in for Mark Belling:

"Federal law makes sewage overflows illegal. Yet they frequently happen and mostly without the public knowing.

In all, about 9.1 billion gallons of untreated sewage-contaminated water — enough to fill 457,000 backyard swimming pools — were released into the environment by 276 villages, cities, counties and sewage districts on 1,198 occurrences statewide since Jan. 1, 2006, according to data collected by the DNR and analyzed by The Post-Crescent. The wastewater overflows happened in 58 of the state's 72 counties, including throughout the Fox Valley.

The state's biggest by far came from one source: the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, which provides sewage service for 28 municipalities, including Milwaukee, through a shared pipe system. The district reported nearly 8.5 billion gallons of overflows, mostly into Lake Michigan, since the beginning of 2006, when the DNR began organizing the data electronically.”

And here is the CRG news release mentioned on today's program:




 For Immediate Release                                                                                  
October 3, 2010

For Further Information Contact:

Chris Kliesmet, 414-429-9501





Unelected Boards Create Campaign Cash

 “Barrett” Example Yields Over $150,000 in Board Contributions



Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) has long analyzed and reported on the drawbacks of unelected boards, particularly those with the power to unilaterally impose taxes.  The CRG audit and online database of Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Board spending and the well-publicized shortcomings of the Metro-Milwaukee Sewage District (MMSD) Board highlight a lengthy list of perceived problems with unelected boards given broad regulatory power as well as taxing power without direct voter representation.


CRG began an investigation and analysis of MMSD due to citizen outrage over recent flooding and basement sewage back-ups.  Initial findings suggested that these failures are largely due to governance issues at the City of Milwaukee and on the MMSD Board level rather than operational issues at MMSD.  Further investigation of political actions and involvement within MMSD revealed significant contributions from MMSD Board members to the politicians that appoint them.


For example, MMSD Board members contributed almost $10,000 to Tom Barrett campaigns with $4,000 being contributed in 2009-2010 election cycle alone.  Every MMSD Board who contributed gave at least $100, six gave at least $250, five gave at least $500, and three gave over $1000 with one donor exceeding $2000 and another exceeding $3000.


As a result, a pilot project was undertaken to analyze and understand the relationship between political contributions and appointments to boards such as MMSD. The City of Milwaukee and Mayor Barrett were chosen as the initial study example based on the large number of appointed boards the City has jurisdiction over as well as the large number of mayoral appointees to those boards.

The study methodology required compiling a partial list of mayoral board appointees by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 92 boards during his tenure as mayor (list is partial as a complete list of past appointees do not exist – spouses were included on list). This list was cross-indexed against contributions to Barrett campaigns from 7/1/2000 to 6/30/2010 obtained from databases maintained by the City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  The entire tabulated data set may be downloaded at Board Appointee Contributors Worksheet.xls.


The following are selected statistics from the analysis


Total Campaign Contribution Dollars



Average Contribution Per Donation



Average Total Contributions Per Donor





Project leader Chris Kliesmet commented, “The numbers yielded by our analysis were quite surprising and perhaps more than a little disturbing.  Given that the total contributions are well into six figures and the average total contributions per donor crosses the one-thousand dollar mark, it does suggest at least a perception of impropriety that should be addressed, particularly when reviewing compensated boards.  Additionally, one must not discount the imputed value of the regulatory power wielded even by uncompensated boards.  For those seeking appointments, and there are many who covet such appointments, the regulatory power may be more highly valued than any monetary reward.  Whether by design or sheer happenstance, it is safe to say that the power to make unelected board appointments can be used as a tool to raise campaign cash and creates yet another strong argument against unelected boards.  CRG will issue updates to our investigations should our analyses continue to yield noteworthy results.”


While I was on the air today, Chris Kleismet of CRG tried to phone in, but couldn’t because the lines were jammed.He wanted to pass along important information.

CRG’s analysis of campaign cash contributions showed that one person, Ronald S. San Felippo gave six contributions on or about the 22nd of each month to Tom Barrett with the last contribution made on 6/22/10. Here are San Felippo’s donations to Barrett:

1/22/10: $1,500

2/22/10: $1,500

3/22/10: $1,500

4/22/10: $1,500

5/22/10: $1,500

6/22/10: $1,500


Note the last contribution on 6/22/10

Just six days later, San Felippo was appointed to the Business Improvement District Board #2 by Barrett.

A coincidence? I don’t think so.

Kleismet also offers that a video and transcript of MMSD Kevin Schafer’s remarks saying that 2 of 4 previous sewerage overflow dumps could have been avoided by a change to legislation can be found here.

Kleismet wrote to me:

“By law they (MMSD) must start dumping in ANTICIPATION of separated sewer flows IN CASE they MIGHT come in. That means they start dumping with the tunnel often less than half full. On two occasions the suburban flows DID NOT COME IN AS PREDICTED and they dumped sewage that didn’t need to be dumped.

Why are politicians like Barrett unwilling to crusade for this change? This is outrageous they COULD have eliminated half of the overflows last year without so much as the cost of the ink for their signatures on a piece of legislative paper.

This is a huge campaign issue that Scott Walker needs to hammer on. He could use your help doing so.
Please consider sending a contribution.

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