November 21, 2009

Kiwanians light up the Zoo for the 25th year

Kiwanians presented their annual festival of lights Saturday, lighting up the Racine Zoo and continuing a tradition begun more than 30 years ago by industrialist George Wheary.

For 25 years, the lights have been at the Zoo, surrounding the centerpiece waterfall that is 24 ft. tall and lit by more than 2,000 bulbs. They came on today shortly before 6 p.m., following an evening of holiday carols sung by the Park High School Vocal Ensemble and the Racine Dairy Statesman, and the arrival of Santa Claus leading two of his reindeer.

As if that was not enough, it was followed by fireworks from the beach behind the Kiwanis Amphitheatre, and then the lights came on -- to appreciative oohs and ahs. If you weren't there, here's what it all looked like:

The Park High School Vocal Ensemble

The Racine Dairy Statesmen

Best seat in the house

Holidays at the Mansion starts a new tradition

After 20 years, Festival of Trees ended its run last year, a shadow of its former self.

Today, a new tradition began, Holidays at the Mansion, at the Racine Masonic Center and its historic Henry Durand Mansion Many of the 1856 mansion's rooms are decorated for Christmas with trees, garlands and more ornaments than you can count from many sources.

There are theme trees and theme rooms, Nativity scenes from around the world, a Dickens Village with dozens of homes, a room full of snowmen, even Santa's workshop. There's a tree decorated with old-fashioned leaded tinsel, a Wizard of Oz tree, even a mouse family enjoying the music under the piano.

Jaden Svendsen, 5 (and 1/2!) writes her letter to Santa;
She wants a backpack, earrings and a pencil sharpener

Wendy Spencer, the event coordinator, said she and other volunteers began planning this year's event last December, and obtained the basics from after-Christmas sales. And then they put out the call for donations: A Twin Towers ornament, for example, led to a tree decorated only with patriotic ornaments. In the Ladies Parlor, there's a Cozy Christmas tree, decorated with dozens of cups and saucers. "We hit every resale shop in town for this," Spencer said.

And then there are new traditions, such as "find the pickle." Signs around the mansion remind children to look for the pickle ornaments hung on some trees. The unique ornaments are a reminder to look at the details, and appreciate what's on the tree. In homes that follow this tradition, the child who finds the pickle receives a special gift from St. Nick. (Pickle ornaments are available for sale, for you to start the tradition in your own home.)

There's a family crafts area at the Mansion, for kids to build tabletop trees, which can be moved from room to room as good-behavior treats, and also a place to make "reindeer food" to be sprinkled in the snow outside homes to help Santa's reindeer find their way.

The Mansion was a private home until 1919. Upon the death of Frederick Robinson, vice president of J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. it was sold to the Masons, who added the adjoining Masonic Center in 1922. Besides the decorated rooms -- with names like Home for the Holidays, Old Fashioned Christmas, A Child's Wonderland, Snowman Follies -- there is a Santaland game for the kids, a Candy Cane Cafe for refreshments and a vendor showcase. Stockings full of gifts are being raffled, and there is a silent auction table; all proceeds go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Holidays at the Mansion is open through Nov. 28. Hours are:Saturday, November 21 10am to 7pm
  • Sunday, November 22 8 am to 5 pm; Breakfast with Santa 8 am to 1 pm
  • Monday, November 23 10 am to 7 pm
  • Tuesday, November 24 10 am to 7 pm
  • Wednesday, November 25 10 am to 7 pm
  • Closed Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday, November 27 10 am to 7 pm
  • Saturday, November 28 8 am to 7 pm; Breakfast with Santa 8 am to 1 pm
Admission is $7; $6 for seniors; $3 for kids ages 3-12.

Dickens Village

Santa's Workshop showed the toys he's working on right now

Conner Messer, 2, looked everywhere for the pickle

Patriotic tree based on Twin Towers ornament, right

November 20, 2009

Dairyland Update: 'No dog will be left behind'

Dogs at the Dairyland Greyhound Park are in no danger of being euthanized when the park closes on Dec. 31, according to park officials.

Dog rescue groups around the country have rallied in recent days after reports that 900 greyhounds may be euthanized if adopted homes aren't found for them. Dairyland officials are saying this isn't true.

One RacinePost reader received this email from a Dairyland official today:
Thank you so much for your concern for the dogs! There are some nasty rumors running around out there stating that 900 greyhounds will be euthanized if homes and/or rescue groups are not found for them within the next 6 weeks. This information is completely untrue, and I encourage you to pass that on to anyone circulating this rumor.

The dogs are safe and have a place to stay as long as needed after the track closes. All dogs will be accounted for. If you would like more information, please visit our forum topic discussing this issue at:
Here's the response from Greyhound Pets of America President Rory S. Goree':
An e-mail has been circulating recently with some figures and statements that to the best of our knowledge contain outright bogus or misleading information about the closing of Dairyland.

This is the information I can share with you all regarding this tracks closure from our volunteers heavily involved in assisting these greyhounds:

1) Currently the number of dogs at Dairyland (DGP) is unknown. A State official indicated they would have a list ready in 2 weeks. 900 was the number given in a recent newspaper article, but we anticipate that number is high and the realistic number is somewhere between 300-500 dogs.

2) There is confirmation from the track veterinarian, who is a State of Wisconsin employee, that no dogs will be left behind. The facility will stay open as long as it takes to find adoption groups for all the dogs that are left at DGP.

3) Hauls are being organized to move the pet dogs out of the track prior to the closing to relieve some of the burden. This is going smoothly. Racers can't be moved until January 1st, since racing will continue until Dec. 31st. A haul going east through Ohio is scheduled to leave Dec. 5th. Another haul is leaving for Canada around the same time. Both of these hauls are going to groups that are approved to accept dogs by the State of Wisconsin.

4) All of the regional adoption groups are all ready in communication with each other and are strategizing how to move the dogs and increase adoptions. Its a good team and confidence is high in their abilities to get the job done. The groups are from WI, IL, MI, MN, IN, OH and IA (the neighboring states), but we anticipate support from well beyond that perimeter.

Missing dog spotted Thurdasy night near Douglas and 4 Mile

We got this email from a reader about a missing dog spotted on the north side Thursday night. Here's the message:
I work at Milaeger’s on the North side (Douglas & 4 Mile) and last night around 3:30 pm there was a boxer running around on our property. He/she had a collar with tags on, but it was too scared to come close to me so I could read it. He/she was a beautiful dog, the regular boxer appearance (brown with white on chest). I called the Humane Society, and before I could tell them what kind of dog, they asked me if it was a boxer. This led me to believe that someone has already called it in. But they said it was past their pickup time, 3:30pm???? So they wouldn’t send anyone to come get him/her. I tried for about an hour to catch it, with no luck. I just wanted to put the word out in case anyone has been missing it. Spotted from 3:30-5:00 pm at Milaeger’s on the North Side.

Thanks, Stephanie for the message. Hopefully the dog finds its way home.

Grand opening for new Lockwood Park playground on Saturday

Coach Ben Lake and the St. Catherine's High School soccer team lift a piece of the new Lockwood Park playground into place back in August. The team won the state championship this year.

It took a little longer than most would have liked, but work is finally done on the stellar new playground at Lockwood Park.

The community-build project was all-but done in July, but the city repaved the park's parking lot and took awhile to finish up landscaping around the city's first handicap-accessible playground.

The re-dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday at noon at the park, located 4300 Graceland Boulevard.

As a cool aside, the St. Catherine's High School boys soccer team, led by Coach Ben Lake, played an important role in building the playground back in August. The team went on to win the state championship this fall. Something to be said about community service and team work there ...

November 19, 2009

500 Dairyland race track greyhounds need homes

Five hundred dogs at the Dairyland Greyhound track need to find new homes by the end of the year or they could be euthanized.

The Kenosha News wrote a story about the soon-to-be homeless dogs here. The track is home to about 900 greyhounds, but the top 30 percent will move on to other race tracks. The rest will be put for adoption, according to the article. A Michigan TV station covered the story here.

News is spreading online about the need for adoptions. We received this email today from a concerned reader:
Dairyland Greyhound in Kenosha, Wisconsin is closing 12/31/09. 500 Greyhounds need to be adopted or will be euthanized. Please help get the word out; only 6 weeks to get this task done. Contact Dairyland Race Track Adoption Center (262) 612-8256
Dairyland's adoption page is here.

Here's a website that tackles the question: Do greyhounds make good pets? The answer: Yes, but you always need to keep them on a leash (they're really fast), they're not good with cats (because they chase them like the rabbit on the race track), and they can get expensive because of medical bills. Most everyone seems to agree they're great with kids and friendly overall.

Letter to the Editor: Legislature sold us out on car insurance premiums

Dear Racine Post Community,

Today in the mail we received notice from our insurance company that the Wisconsin State Legislature, as part of the new budget, passed a new law stating medical coverage for auto insurance policies must be a minimum of $10,000. If policy holders do not currently have that amount, they must either increase their coverage or waive it altogether.

Agreeing to the increased coverage results in higher premiums, of course. With so many people out of work and stretching every dollar to the breaking point, why would our representatives sell us out like this? Every fee increase, from medical costs to auto insurance to the price of gas, puts more stress on families barely making it. This seems a most inopportune time to pass this kind of law without a consumer protection in place that keeps insurance companies from increasing premiums to go with the new minimum dollar requirement.

Of course, policy holders are welcome to waive the medical coverage portion of their policy, but is that a risk we really want or need to take?

Wisconsin state representatives should be ashamed.

Heather Asiyanbi

Demisemi...whatever. It tripped off the tongue

Rep. Cory Mason serves up demisemiseptcentennial cake

Demisemiseptcentennial. The word tripped off the tongue like white frosting from a layer cake. Which, of course, it was... at the City of Racine's 175th anniversary party hosted by Rep. Cory Mason at the Racine Public Library Thursday night.

Mason spent a few minutes in front of easels holding panels touting some of the city's accomplishments -- as submitted to him by residents -- before cutting into a large Danish layer cake from O&H Bakery. And, yes, the cake was large enough for demisemiseptcentennial to fit onto the cake's sweet frosting, stretching from one side to another.

Library's Becky Spika with Legislative resolution commending Racine's 175th

If there was any disappointment, it was only this: it was too dark for Mason to look out the Library's second-floor windows and see the mouth of the Root River where Gilbert Knapp first landed and founded the city in 1834. "The first 50 years of Racine's history are all about the river," Mason said, before listing some of our later points of pride: the first city in Wisconsin to graduate a high school class, our underground railroad stop, our tradition of industry ("The small engine capital of the world."), and a welcome diversity with too many ethnic festivals to count "that has enriched our community."

Of course, some will say "that was then; what about now?" So I asked Mason what he'd like to see by the city's next big anniversary, our bicentennial 25 years from now, in 2034. He didn't hesitate:

"Every generation has been able to do a little bit better than those that came before. That's the central problem we face today. The transitional challenges are there... in education, in employment. This has been a good community for opportunity in the past; there's no reason it can't be that for the next 200 years."

Mason juggles Eleanor, and questions from Tynisha Person and Morgan Dawson

I put the same question to some young folks, starting with two Park High School government students who were interviewing Mason (while he held his adorable daughter, 11-month-old Eleanor Roosevelt Mason) before his party began . They didn't hesitate either: "Less crime and violence, and more jobs," said Tynisha Person, 16. "And better maintenance for the schools."

"More parks and nice areas to gather. And cleaner streets," said Morgan Dawson, also 16.

Shirleeta Miles, 23, who has lived here all her life, said the city is "pretty good" but could provide "more help for people who don't have much."

And then it was time for cake. Mason, good Democrat that he is, cut generous portions for each of the 60+ persons who came for a slice. And, unlike the world at large, there was enough for everyone.

Neighborhood Watch honored for National Night Out

Racine Neighborhood Watch, Inc. has received an award -- its 18th since 1992 -- for the community's participation in the event last August.

A small percentage of the 14,625 communities hosting National Night Out receive this award, which celebrates the 6,000 people who participated in 70 different Racine events.

The evening here began with a salute to Bernice Moore at the kickoff held on her block. Bernice is a longtime board member and NNO event host. At other events, people feasted at cookouts around the city, at parks and community centers, in churchyards and on blocked off streets. Kids clambored onto fire trucks and met law enforcement officers and McGruff. Activities ranged from dancing to face painting to a cake walk to water balloons to walking on stilts.

National Night Out 2010 will be Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Second bidder, court case complicates city deal for shingle company

Another bidder is competing with the city over a trucking depot the city hoped to buy for a recycled shingle company.

The property, located at 2301 S. Memorial Drive, was formerly owned by JMP Intermodal, Inc. But company owner Thomas Russell got caught up in a bribery and corruption scandal at SC Johnson. The trucking depot is tied up in the $147 million settlement SC Johnson won against their former employees Milton Morris and Katherine Scheller, Buske Lines Inc., and JMP Intermodal for the bribery and corruption.

The city's Redevelopment Authority hopes to buy the depot and give it to an unnamed company that uses recycled tires to create shingles. But those plans have been complicated by another bidder, who may have the inside line on the property.

It's unclear what this means for the October announcement that the company was close to bringing 88 jobs to the city.

One source close to the deal said any sale needs to be approved by a judge, who will likely go with the highest bidder. But it's unknown how long it will take for the property to clear the courts, and that could jeopardize the deal, the source said.

November 18, 2009

County's first swine flu death reported

Racine County's first swine flue death was reported today by the City of Racine Health Department.

No information about the individual's name, sex, age, race or residence are being released, "out of respect for the family and patient confidentiality laws," according to a release by the health department.

So far this year, there have been 31 swine flu deaths reported in Wisconsin, with 11 of them last week alone. The most recent were in Dane, Jefferson, Kenosha, Marathon, Oconto, Ozaukee, Portage, Racine and Waupaca counties. Dane and Portage each reported two.

“For most people, the 2009 H1N1 flu is not severe," said Health Officer Marcia Fernholz. "However, we know that the virus can be especially dangerous for children, individuals with compromised immune systems and those with chronic health illnesses. We expect more H1N1 vaccine to be available in the coming weeks. We recommend that those individuals who are at high risk for severe disease from H1N1 influenza get vaccinated to protect themselves against H1N1 when vaccine becomes available.”

Health officials expect that eventually there will be enough H1N1 vaccine – and seasonal vaccine – available for anyone who wants to be vaccinated.

The county's third flu vaccination clinic is being held this Friday, Nov. 20, at Case High School, from 5 to 8 p.m. Details here.

The Health Department adds: While vaccination will be the best protection against influenza, until more people are vaccinated it is important for everyone to continue the basic protection and prevention measures: stay home if you are ill; cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or with your sleeve, not with your hands; wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; and stay healthy by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy food and exercising.

People who develop significant flu symptoms or those with flu symptoms who are at risk for severe flu or flu complications are advised to consult their health care provider promptly. Uninsured individuals experiencing influenza-like symptoms wishing to receive a visit for flu-related care can call 2-1-1 or their local public health agency to locate a provider. For more information about H1N1 influenza and vaccination clinic dates, times and locations, visit the state's pandemic website, or call 2-1-1, or your local health department.

Caledonia/Mt. Pleasant Health Department

City of Racine Health Department

Western Racine County Health Department

Hey, Duuuude! Surf's up in Racine!

Hey, Dude, take notice! The waves are awesome in Racine right now.

West Hansen of Chicago told us yesterday that the wind currents on North Beach were perfect, so he brought his kite surfing gear and spent some time with them all to himself. He explained to Jason Madson, a friend of RacinePost, how the wind periodically comes into the bay of North Beach and makes for some really great conditions. Hansen has been kite surfing for eight years, and makes his own boards.

Jason listened, but mostly took these great pictures for us. And yes, in case you wondered, those pictures of Hansen hanging suspended in mid-air are real; sometimes a 30 mph wind will lift a kite surfer far off the water.

November 17, 2009

A Sebastian's dining experience to remember

Sebastian's restaurant was the height of fine dining Monday night with its spectacular Autumn Wine Dinner hosted with Robert Hall Winery of Paso Robles, Calif.

The evening was a mix of gourmet food paired with fine wines, all in Sebastian's picturesque dining rooms at 6025 Douglas Ave. We're far from "foodies" here at RacinePost, but here's our best rundown of Monday's menu and wine selections (you can see photos of the dinner on owner (left) Scott Sebastian's blog, Salty's Kitchen):

The evening started with a sauvignon blanc from the Robert Hall Winery and a grape stuffed with Carr Valley Billy Bleu cheese and "Blis" Double Solera aged sherry vinegar. We had to laugh because the grape was, well, a single grape in the middle of the plate. But it tasted great and with the amount of food to come, it was all that was needed to get things started.

The first of six courses was a Pacific Northwest Black Cod poached in citrus olive oil with white Alba truffles (price: $3,000 a pound) and a parsley coulis. The fish tasted incredibly fresh to me, which I was happy to read on Scott's blog that that's exactly what he was going for. (Sadly, I left a fleck of the truffle on the plate ... sorry, Scott!)

Up next were roasted beets and artisanal cheese. The cheese was a "Humboldt Fog," which was pure rich goodness. The beets were served on micro wasabi with shiso and golden pea shoots in a "Blis" Double Solera aged sherry vinegar. Safe to say, these were not your typical Thanksgiving beets. Scott said on his blog he roasted the beets a long time to give them a "roasted corn flavor."

The third course was a "Day Boat Sea Scallop" stacked with a demi braised slab of bacon and served on a maple accented sweet potato puree and piquant buerre blanc. Delicatable. This course also came with a 2007 Robert Hall Chardonnay, which was a nice bridge to the reds to come.

The first of two main courses was a breast of pheasant with foie gras infused pheasant jus, cranberries and portobella creamed beans. This was my wife's favorite, and for good reason. Scott described the pheasant on his blog as a "time consuming dish." The precision came through in the taste. The wine was a Robert Hall "Rhone de Robles" Red 2006. Scott called this the best wine of the evening on his blog, and the rep from the winery said it was hands down their best seller.

The second main course was a "Local Rack of Lamb" from Pinn-Oak Farms in Whitewater. The lamb was panko and mustard crusted with roasted chestnuts, thyme infused demi-glace and truffles mashed potatoes. Scott's description of the lamb on his blog says it all:
OMG. I just received my first case of Pinn-Oak farms lamb. Absolutely gorgeous. They take orders on Monday, slaughter on Tuesday, package on Wednesday and deliver on Thursday. This lamb is being added to the new menu. I dare anyone to beat it. Anyone, anywhere.
The wine was a 2007 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dessert was a "Montmorency Cherry Dumpling" with candied orange peel, a chocolate truffle and vanilla custard. Scott picked up theMontmorency cherries in Door County. The dessert paired perfectly with the Robert Hall Orange Muscat for a tastefully sweet end to an incredible dining experience.

Red-tailed hawk in Racine

RacinePost reader Jay Warner sent in these beautiful photos of a red tail hawk spotted in his backyard in Racine on Oct. 31. Jay took both pictures.

November 16, 2009

Council cuts splash pad, uses money to improve parks

The City Council cut the splash pad from Mayor John Dickert's capital budget last week, but will still spend most of the money on parks.

After cutting the $330,000 splash pad, which the mayor had planned for Racine's inner city, the council voted to spend $225,000 to improve four city parks; it will save the remaining $105,000.

The parks improvements include:

* Humble Park, 2218 Blaine Ave. The city will spend $125,000 on new doors and windows for the community center, and spend money on new playground equipment.

* Pierce Woods Park, 3616 Pierce Blvd., located next door to Humble Park, will receive new playground equipment.

* Solbraa Park, 3825 16th St., will get new playground equipment. This is in Alderman Jim Spangenberg's district.

* Washington Park, 2920 Washington Ave., will receive new playground equipment. This is in Alderman Mike Shields' district.

City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Donnie Snow said the city would spend about $100,000 on the playground equipment for all four parks. They'll all have basic swingsets, slides and diggers and be built on a sand base. They won't resemble the new Lockwood Park playground, which had a rubberized base.

"It's just too expensive to do all of our playgrounds like Kids Cove or Lockwood," Snow said.

The parks equipment and repairs were all in the parks department's five-year capital improvement plan, Snow said. The council's actions accelerated the projects to this year, which will free up money later, he said.

Snow said the proposed splash pad will probably be included in a capital improvement budget, possibly next year.

The council voted last week as a Committee of the Whole to remove the splash pad from Dickert's budget and add the new parks equipment. The council is scheduled to finalize the budget on Tuesday night.

November 15, 2009

Racine gets a voice at international climate change negotiations

Racine will have a representative in Copenhagen, Denmark next month when global leaders gather to discuss an international climate change treaty.

Jamie Racine, who lives in Racine, will attend the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference as the Midwestern Youth Delegate to the meetings, which may result in a new treaty to control carbon emissions on the planet.

Racine is one of 10 delegates from the Midwest and two from Wisconsin to attend COP15. The international youth delegation - about 1,000 members from around the world - is a recognized body by the United Nations. The designation gives Racine and her peers access to the negotiations on the new climate change treaty. They'll have space on agendas, offer position papers and, hopefully, get the attention of heads of states from around the world.

Racine's job is to represent the Midwest, which plays a significant role in any climate change discussions.

If the Midwest was its own country, it would be the fourth highest polluting nation in the world, Racine said. The reason? It's cold here.

Heating homes and businesses takes massive amounts of energy. While Wisconsin is working to build alternative energy sources, like wind and solar, it still has to burn coal to meet people's power needs.

Despite that reality, Racine said the Midwest's moral and just culture make it an important voice in advocating for needed lifestyle changes to protect the planet. Communities throughout the region are organizing around the need to cut emissions that contribute to global warming.

"There is a need to come together," Racine said.

Racine is attending COP15 as part of the Will Steger Foundation's "Expedition Copenhagen," which gives young adults ages 18 to 26 a place at the United Nation's negotiations. She'll be in Copenhagen from Dec. 3-21 reporting on the proceedings through blogs and video interviews. (See Racine's interview on the Will Steger Foundation website.)

It's an exciting opportunity for Racine, who is passionate about environmental issues. She's best known locally for her work at the REC Center along the Root River - she teaches classes to elementary students - and for organizing the Racine 350 rally on Monument Square on Oct. 24.

Racine said she didn't give much thought to detractors who attack climate change as a myth. The problem is so big, she said, many people choose to ignore or deride it rather than face the reality that the planet may be in peril.

"It's outside of their capacity to visualize these changes," Racine said of critics.

"Some people feel attacked," she added, saying she understood why people lashed out over climate change. "I see it as a coping mechanism."

COP15 is the 15th United Nations meeting to update the Kyoto Protocol, which was approved in 1997. The United States acounted for 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, but is the only country in the world to announce it had no intention of signing the agreement to stabilize global emissions.

Despite the U.S.'s reluctance, it remain a major player in the COP15 negotiations. The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June that would create a cap-and-trade system designed to control greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The House vote energized negotiations for a new international climate change protocol and increased the likelihood of a new agreement.

However, there appears to be little hope for a finished treaty to emerge from COP15. Instead, leaders are now calling for global leaders to set a deadline for a treaty at next month's conference.

Racine said she would do her part to advocate with the youth delegation for a new agreement on climate change.

"The goal is a bold, just and binding treaty," she said.

Barrett makes first official campaign stop in Racine

Sen. John Lehman, Rep. Cory Mason and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett

Barely two hours after formally announcing his candidacy for governor at his home at noon, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett made what he called his "first official campaign stop" -- in Racine.

Delicately timed to end before the 3:15 p.m. kickoff of the Packers game, ("I'm smart enough to know you never campaign during a Packers game," he said.) Barrett showed up at 2:30 at Wilson's Coffee and Tea, where State Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, was holding a fundraiser for his own re-election bid.

Saying he is "very excited" to be in the race -- so far, he's the only Democratic candidate to succeed Gov. Jim Doyle -- Barrett said he would file the necessary candidacy papers tomorrow morning.

Asked what his platform would be, he said, "Obviously, jobs and the economy are at the top of the list. Fifty years ago, all a man needed to succeed was a strong back and a good alarm clock. But now many jobs have gone south. This is not a Democratic issue, not a Republican issue. I want to break down the partisan walls, the partisan rhetoric."

He noted accomplishments he's made in Milwaukee, including cutting $32 million from the city budget and eliminating 350 jobs. "We're going to have to do this on the state level, and at all levels of government." At the same time, he pointed to private sector job gains, like the 800 jobs Republic Airlines said last week it would keep in Milwaukee, while bringing another 800 here from out of state.

Democrats he greeted at Wilson's couldn't help noting Barrett's right hand, still heavily bandaged from the incident -- three months ago today -- when he came to a woman's aid during an attack outside State Fair Park. He assured everyone it is healing. On Friday, the last two of 10 pins were removed. "People are going to have to get used to shaking my left hand," he said. The incident helped raise his political profile, Barrett said, "but I don't want to do it again."

Barrett has been mayor of Milwaukee for 5 1/2 years. Before that he served in Congress, from 1993 to 2003. When two districts, including his, were combined, Barrett ran unsuccessfully for governor, losing in the primary to Doyle. Lehman, when he arrived at Wilson's loaded down with his own campaign yard signs, leaned a "Barrett for Governor" yard sign against the wall. "I've had that in my garage for eight years," he said.

Barrett, 55, is married and has four children, ranging in age from 10-17. His wife is a Milwaukee teacher and he has said he would not move the family to Madison if elected. But he said, "I'll be governor wherever it's necessary." So far, he's the only Democrat in the race; Republican candidates for governor are Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Mark Neumann.

As for his own campaign, Lehman said "we haven't made a formal announcement yet, but we are raising money. We're ahead of where we were four years ago." In that election, County Executive Bill McReynolds outspent Lehman almost 2-1, $400,000 to $218,000, but lost anyway. "I'm confident we're going to be fine," Lehman said, while noting that his 21st Senate District "is one of four targeted seats," all of which were won by Democrats four years ago, giving them control. Racine County Board Supervisor Van Wanggaard has announced plans to run against Lehman next year.

In brief remarks, Lehman also voiced support for Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, the subject of Republican attacks for remarks he made on the Assembly floor last week about Racine's County's oversight of the Wisconsin Shares program. Lehman pointed out that measures similar to the ones Mason voted against in the Assembly were defeated in the State Senate the same day. "I'm satisfied with the level of state cooperation with Racine County," Lehman said. "Keep listening to Cory on Wisconsin Shares."