Why I’d vote for Jan Pierce if I lived in the 14th Aldermanic District

I’ve thought long and hard about who I’d vote for if I were a resident of Milwaukee’s 14th Aldermanic District, and while it may surprise those of you who believe this to be a “We love Tony Zielinski” blog, I’d cast my vote for Jan Pierce to serve as the 14th District’s next Alderman.

Image courtesy Pierce for Milwaukee

While Pierce may lack the institutional support that incumbent Alderman Tony Zielinski has garnered – all the district’s liberal elected officials and the Democratic establishment have lined up behind Zielinski – Pierce has the support of a number of small business owners and citizen leaders in the district. What’s more, Pierce is offering residents of the 14th District a clean break from the old-school notion in Milwaukee that aldermen are “kings” within their districts, instead offering a leadership style that would engage residents to take a more active role in the issues facing their district.

A perfect example of the old-school style of politics that I’m referring to can be found in the story of the Hub Super Market in Bay View. Earlier this year Paresh Patel, the owner of the Hub Super Market, applied for a full liquor license for a proposed liquor store on South Howell Avenue in Bay View, only to be asked (or told, depending on who you talk to) to hold off on his application until after the spring election (emphasis added):

Patel said today that he has not withdrawn his application but is delaying his hearing before the Common Council’s Licenses Committee until after the spring elections. He said that he was approached by District 14 Alderman Tony Zielinki, who requested that he hold off on his application until “after the election.” Jan Pierce is challenging Zielinski, who has held the aldermanic seat since 2004. The spring primary election is Feb. 21 followed by the spring election April 3.

Zielinski insisted that what he actually said when he approached Patel was that he was not going to support his application for a liquor license unless Patel gained the approval of nearby business owners, so there’s a definite disparity between the two accounts.

Image - Zielinski for Alderman
What’s more, while Tony Zielinski may have the support of the liberal establishment, he also has the support of Paul Butera (pictured, right), the chairman, CEO, and president of Piggly Wiggly Midwest. You may remember Paul Butera as the operator of the Bay View Piggly Wiggly, but Butera also made news after he bought Piggly Wiggly Midwest and promptly proposed a regressive union contract to employees that would have eliminated health care benefits for some employees, reduced time off for funeral leave and cut back on earned vacation time and holiday time off. Butera’s actions resulted in the dispute being resolved by an administrative law judge ruled Butera’s actions violated provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.

Now maybe some are willing to forgive Tony Zielinski’s acceptance of Paul Butera’s support for his campaign, but I simply can’t support an elected official (or candidate) who’s perfectly willing to accept support from someone who has engaged in anti-union practices. Given the assault we’ve witnessed on public employee unions here in Wisconsin over the past year, I’m unwilling to compromise on this issue, and frankly, I’m disappointed so many liberals in Milwaukee are willing to overlook Tony Zielinski’s connections to Paul Butera.

While Tony Zielinski may have done a lot of good for the district he’s represented at City Hall, it certainly seems to me that a change is in order, and I get the sense Jan Pierce would represent the residents of 14th District well if they sent him to City Hall. If I lived in the 14th District, I’d cast my vote in April for Jan Pierce, because it’s time for a change.


Related Articles

30 thoughts on “Why I’d vote for Jan Pierce if I lived in the 14th Aldermanic District

  1. I appreciate the information, I have a Zielinski sign in my yard but that is because he came and spoke to me and came personally to put it up in y yard and I havent been in the district long. Both of them seem to be campaigning as progressives but the links to anti-union figures does concern me

  2. I’m not anti-Zielinski, per se, but I do find him lacking in terms of communication. Others seem to have had better luck, but I rely on the city’s E-Notify system for my news about neighborhood licenses, crime, et al, because Tony doesn’t bother to use his email distribution list for anything but sporadic 2-3 sentence emails about certain issues.

    For example, in 2011, I received TWO emails from Tony. I got an email about the windmill proposal on the far north end of Bay View in January 2011 and leaf collection info in September 2011, yet this month I never received notice about public comments on a convenience store on Howell down the street from my house. In other cities (perhaps other districts in MKE?) aldermen are much for active with their constituents via email, and it serves a greater purpose than just random emails about select projects.

    Also, Paresh is a genuinely nice guy that seems to have been put in the middle of a stupid battle over a liquor license. The entire debate about AK and The Hub is ridiculous — there’s only one liquor store in Bay View that isn’t in a big box store, and it makes no sense why there can’t be another one (or two) on the north end of the neighborhood in a very walkable area. The complaints about crime in the area aren’t because of the liquor store — most of the kids stealing from garages and unlocked cars aren’t the clientele either business is hoping to serve by getting a liquor license.


  3. In fairness, I wish we could hear from the current alderman in regards to his relationship to Mr. Butera. Considering the alderman is a progressive, it certainly seems a tad strange such a relationship exists. Has anyone approached the alderman to simply ask him why? I would like to, but I never see him in the district.

  4. I’m not in Tony’s district, but an example of what some other aldermen do: alderman Witkowiak, who’s also not my alderman (by 2 blocks), sent a personal notice (as opposed to the standard legal notice served by the license dept) to my neighbors and I that there was an application for a new gentlemen’s club in his district, even though we were well outside the legal boundary of required notice in addition to being outside his district.

    Contrasting, when I’ve seen Tony at license committee hearings, he’s always extremely quick to dismiss (sometimes disparigingly and quite rudely) anyone testifying for or against a license who either a) doesn’t live within the required notice area of a couple hundred feet or b) a neighborhood association leader or otherwise community activist. I’ve seen him rip into 2-job-holding single moms for testifying for/against a license and having the gall to think their opinion counts when they’re not a neighborhood leader in their spare time.

    Just anecdotes.

  5. As a resident, I’m supporting Pierce. Zielinski is a narcissist through and through. From his aborted run for Lt. Gov that he claims that he dropped out of at the behest of the Barrett folks (NOT TRUE). To his outrageous claims in the neighborhood…that he’d get one resident new teeth, that he would hang motion lights and cameras in one elderly resident’s alley, that his answer to the Bay View High question is more police, that he bullies residents and businesses who don’t agree with him….

    The list of negatives is endless. The most disturbing Tony-ism is his trick of telling residents what he thinks they want to hear. Depending on who’s door he just knocked on, he’s pro-life or a feminist activist. He plays all sides of an issue to give someone what they want to hear. And in doing so, he stands for nothing but himself.

  6. Zielinski is most definitely a narcissist and I’m not sure where anyone gets off calling him a progressive. Do people truly not remember when he said that welfare recipients should be forced into organ donation because “if they weren’t contributing to society while they were alive, at least they could when they’re dead’?

    What kind of progressive spews nonsense like that?

  7. Again, I live in the district and have heard all of these charges numerous times before – by a wide cross section of people. I wish the alderman would provide a detailed response to each and every one of them, yet remains silent – I guess “Qui tacet consentit”, his silence implies his consent(or agreement in this case).

  8. Patel is not the only business owner in the district whom Zielinski has been telling to wait until “after the election” to get his help on a permit or license.

  9. I would not put any individual business owner on the spot here because of their fear of retribution by Zielinski. But yes, that is out there if you go talk to business owners in the district. The only investigation I know of is the reporting done by the Compass that Zach linked to above. http://bayviewcompass.com/archives/9759

  10. Milwaukee’s labor leaders aren’t going to let a picture change their view of my alderman’s great record of fighting for working families, and that’s why he has the endorsement of the membership of virtually every labor organization around. Don’t take it up with the alderman-take it up with those unions, I guess, if you believe you know better where Ald. Zielinski’s record and advocacy leave him.

    Jan Pierce has exactly ZERO record of accomplishment when it comes to labor issues, other than pretty words. In fact, we should learn more about the types of clients he represents and what THEIR labor record is, if you’d want to be fair.

    1. Graeme, you and I both know Butera’s support of Zielinski goes beyond a picture, but having said that I find it stunning that Tony Z. would welcome the support of someone who was sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board for his anti-union practices.

      I understand the desire of the establishment to stick together, but I simply can’t support someone who’s happy to have the support of someone like Paul Butera.

  11. Here’s what Tony Zielinski has to say about Butera, in his own words, posted on his facebook page: “Here is Paul Butera and I at the Piggly Wiggly grand opening. He’s the CEO/President of Piggly Wiggly. Really nice guy. He even took out an ad to thank me for my work in getting his store to happen in Bay View.” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2194936827663&set=a.1665957363507.2084182.1074458463&type=3&theater

    Here’s what the National Labor Relations Board has had to say about him in the two times they took him to court and ruled against his labor practices in the last decade. The second time, for what he did to union labor here in Wisconsin in Appleton and Sheboygan. If Tony actually cared about “Fair trade” or the fair treatment of American workers, he wouldn’t think someone like Butera was a “really nice guy,” go out of his way to help this notorious union-buster locate another of his non-union stores in our neighborhood, or use a photo op with the guy to promote himself on both his website and a recent mailer.

    March 28, 2011 decision: http://www.ufcw1473.org/Piggly%20Wiggly%20Midwest%20NLRB%20Decision.pdf
    p. 15 “…in citing its concerns about the nature of the transaction, the Union recalled how Piggly Wiggly owner, Butera,
    who had purchased Piggly Wiggly just prior to the 2006 contracts, had called local president Eiden aside during an August 2008 health and welfare fund meeting and, in front of Withers, and the midst of complaining about the cost of negotiations, told them, “If you guys want to fight, I know how to get rid of the union.” Butera also told them, “When “I’m nonunion my pockets get like ‘this’ [full] and when I’m union my pockets are like ‘this,’ meaning empty.”

    p. 24
    “Order:1. Cease and desist from
    (a) Failing and refusing to bargain with the Union as the representativeof its employees in an appropriate bargaining unit by failing and refusing to provide information requested by the Union that is relevant and necessary to the Union’s representational status.
    (b) Failing and refusing to bargain with the Union as the representativeof its employees in an appropriate bargaining unit by delaying the furnishing of information requested by the Union that is relevant and necessary for the Union’s representational duties.
    (c) Failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith with the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the employees in the following appropriate units with respect to the effects of its decision to close its store 31 located at 15th Street in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and its store 23, located on Northland Avenue, in Appleton, Wisconsin.

    April 9, 2003 decision: http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4580022e7f
    p. 198
    “In December 2001, Paul Butera, Respondent’s chairman and chief executive, decided to discontinue the contributions to the Pension Fund. The decision was implemented in January 2002, when the contributions for the prior month, December 2001 were due (GC Exh. 9, p. 5). Significantly, the Respondent stopped its Pension Fund contributions effective December 2001, and thereafter without notifying the Union or giving the Union an opportunity to bargain.
    The Union was ultimately decertified on April 2, 2002, pursuant to a decertification petition and an election held on February 21 and 22, 2002 (Tr. 16).”‎

    p. 200 “Order: 1. Cease and desist from
    (a) Unilaterally, without notice to the Union and without affording the Union an opportunity to bargain, ceasing to make pension contributions to the Pension Fund.
    (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing his employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them in Section 7 of the Act.
    2. Take the following affirmative action necessary to effectuate the policies of the Act.
    (a) Make his employees whole by paying all the pension fund contributions, as provided in the expired collective bargaining agreement, which have not been paid, and which would have been paid absent Respondent’s unlawful unilateral discontinuance of such payments.”

  12. A. It’s insulting to say that I’m backing my alderman because I’m part of some “establishment.” I grew up in the neighborhood and I’m damned pleased with the job that Ald. Zielinski has done, as are the unions that endorsed him – when they didn’t endorse several incumbents.

    B. I’m going to dig in more, but I don’t for a second believe that Ald. Zielinski knew about Butera’s anti-union practices when he agreed to pose in a PICTURE with the guy. Did you ask Ald. Zielinski himself?

    C. Saying that this picture, part of what is turning into a desperately negative campaign by Pierce, indicates his record on labor issues, seems pretty flimsy.

    1. You keep focusing on a photo, but the photo isn’t the issue; Zielinski’s acceptance of Butera’s support is.

      If you’re okay with Tony Z accepting Paul Butera’s support, so be it, but I’ve got a different opinion.

    2. Graeme, I have no doubt you’re backing Tony for your own personal reasons, but let’s be real here – it’s also your job to back Democratic incumbents, whether they’re being challenged in a primary or a general election.

  13. I have been fighting for workers rights and progressive issues for 40 years. For many of those years I worked with TonyZ and he has been there for those fights. That is something to be proud of not belittled. We support champions who have a record of standing up for working people. One picture doesn’t change any of that. That’s why SEIU is supporting Tony-Bruce Colburn

    1. Bruce….one picture?

      So you’re okay with Tony Z supporting Paul Butera opening up a non-union grocery store (in place of a unionized store, no less) and then accepting the support of Paul Butera for his reelection campaign?

      If Tony really was ignorant of Paul Butera’s anti-union history, then I’m absolutely stunned, because it took me all of five minutes on Google to figure out who Paul Butera is and what his record is when it comes to unions. If Tony didn’t bother to do some basic research, then that tells me a lot about him.

  14. Ignorance is not a compelling defense. His support of Butera goes beyond a photo, obviously. Zielinski went out of his way to fast-track the Piggly Wiggly liquor license application through the Common Council in a never-before-done for any other liquor license applicant maneuver, according to the City Clerk, involving tacking the approval of its application onto the Mayor’s budget address meeting in September. A meeting during which no other legislation whatsoever was considered. Not the normal procedure. See the meeting details below. Over the objections of a local small business located 2 blocks away who came and testified at the Licenses Committee meeting that Ald. Zielinski told them they could not operate a license they already had of the exact same type as the one Zielinski was fast-tracking for Butera. Who does Zielinski serve and represent? The bottom line is that Alderman Zielinski bent over backwards for a big-box union buster while nearby small local business owners who live and work in his district begged for equal treatment and a fair playing field.

    14 BAYLEY, Dawn M., Agent for “Sal B, LLC”, Class A Malt & Class A Liquor License for “Piggly Wiggly Supermarket #71” at 123 W. Oklahoma Avenue. Ald. Zielinski moved for separate action. Meeting recessed at 9:42 a.m. Meeting reconvened at 9:46 a.m. Jim Owczarski, Deputy City Clerk, appeared at the table. He stated that a license application can be moved for division of the action or separate action and is not subject to a vote. Dawn M. Bayley, Agt. 123 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207 Also appearing with the applicant: Salvatore Bukera, 675 E. Fountainview Dr., Mundelein, IL 60060 Individuals appearing in opposition: Philip Markey, 3155 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207 Ann Kimpel, 3155 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207 Mr. Markey and Ms. Kimpel opposed based upon a lack of a fair level playing field and competition. They said that they felt they were the first in line to sell liquor from their business. They said that they currently do not sell liquor, despite possessing such a license, based on a previous agreement with Ald. Zielinski. Ald. Bohl moved that the issues of Mr. Markey and Kimpel were a separate matter and had no bearing on the application in question. Ald. Zielinski moved approval and to refer the Class A Malt & Class A Liquor license application, file number 110753 as a result of separate action, to the Common Council meeting on September 27, 2011.


    1. If Mr. Markey and Ms. Kimpel paid for and were issued a full liquor license…they should be allowed to sell everything that license allows.

  15. Look, Typical Tony crapped on working men and women when he started preening for the camera with the State’s 2nd biggest Union-buster, (behind only Walker). No ups, no extras.

    It is simply disingenuous to pretend that this ‘about a picture.’ It’s not about the picture: it’s about Typical Tony using this very picture in his campaign materials and on his City website. It’s about Typical Tony’s abandoning of his never-quite-documented Union-cred (which means it’s probably just more Z-myth) to trade an ad in the Compass for a liquor license–which means this is nothing more than business as usual in Typical Tonyland.

    As usual, this whole issue is only about Typical Tony doing anything and everything to shake money out of liquor licensees, no matter who gets harmed along the way–which is extraordinarily dumb for a guy who is sitting on a $135,000 campaign treasury and who boasts 95% of his last campaign report originating out of district, almost exclusively from liquor licensees (how many of THEM employ Union labor? Zero? The Grand Savior of MKE Labor?)

    SEIU’s endorsement is laughable–I’m a third generation Unionist and while you guys can BS yourselves into believing that Typical Tony didn’t know about Butera, he darn well knew that a UFCW store had died on his watch, a non-Union store was going in, and SEIU *had to know* about Butera’s history when they made the endorsement (and if not, you need to fire some communications people). In my Union experience, we don’t support *anyone* who hurts workers, no matter what kind of backroom deal he cuts. And if SEIU can’t figure this out, drop the U from your name. You cannot possibly endorse any candidate who takes money and prestige for himself in support of a Union-busting pig like Paul Butera. Did your *Membership* vote on this endorsement? Did you inform them of this guys “really nice guy” comment about a troll who ruined HUNDREDS of Union families’ lives in Fox Valley? No. You didn’t do your research, you backroomed this endorsement. And now you’re scrambling to cover your mistake instead of fixing it. And the Workers are dead last in the mix.

    The fact is, Typical Tony darn well knows about Butera’s history because I told him about it via email with absolutely NO response from him–again, Typical Tony: say something he doesn’t want to hear and he gets either deaf or aggressive.

    How about this Z-lovers: stop lying about Typical Tony. Try telling the truth about Typical Tony. There’s nothing wrong with being for ‘your guy’; it’s an entirely different thing to lie about him, lie for him, and think anyone reading this blog can’t see what you’re doing.

    As for the Democratic Party establishment—their faux support is payback for him bailing out of the LG race, nothing more, nothing less. This is what other current D-electeds have told me in confidence.

    And, Graeme, by definition, the Spokesman for the Party is a part of the Party establishment; for goodness sakes, man, at least show the pride in the position it warrants, take credit for lending ‘establishment’ support to the guy. Take responsibility for what you’re doing.

  16. According to this press release from the local UFCW last week, Butera was in court today right here in Milwaukee to address his labor violations in Sheboyygan. They describe him as one of the “worst violators of federal labor law.” This is who Alderman Tony Zielinski thinks is a “really nice guy” who he is proud to do favors for and pose with for his re-election lit.

    8 A.M. CST, February 15, 2012

    2011 N. Mayfair Road
    Milwaukee, WI 53226

    MILWAUKEE, WI FEBRUARY 15, 2012: Yesterday the National Labor Relations Board filed alawsuit in federal court against Piggly Wiggly Midwest for violating workers labor law. The NLRB processes over 20,000 unfair labor practice cases each year. Fewer than 1% of those end up in federal court. Piggly Wiggly and Paul Butera have now joined an exclusive club of the worst violators of federal labor law. The NLRB asked the court to issue an injunction against Piggly Wiggly’s illegal conduct at its Sheboygan store. The NLRB filed for the injunction because the workers’ representative, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1473, filed charges with the NLRB that Paul Butera, Piggly Wiggly’s owner, illegally reduced workers wages, hours and benefits. The NLRB found merit in Local 1473 claims and has issued a complaint against Piggly Wiggly. An administrative hearing on Local 1473 allegations that Butera violated worker rights is scheduled to begin on February 22nd in Milwaukee. On Tuesday the NLRB went to federal court to have Piggly Wiggly immediately comply with federal labor laws and restore the benefits it illegally reduced. The NLRB took this action because it will likely prevail in its proceedings against Piggly Wiggly Midwest and without an injunction Piggly Wigglys actions could cause irreparable harm to the workers and the public interest. Acting on the allegations Local 1473 brought against Piggly Wiggly Midwest and Paul Butera, the NLRB is asking the court to restore working conditions that existed before September 2011 and that Paul Butera bargain in good faith with Local 1473 as required by federal labor law. Local 1473 expects the federal court will order Butera to stop violating the law and begin bargaining in good faith with Local 1473 as the workers ’ representative. John Eiden, Local 1473’s President, said today that the Union stands in solidarity to fight Piggly Wiggly’s violations of worker rights and workers’ right to earn a living wage and respectable working conditions.

  17. I am just a common man, of average intelligence, no greater than any other….here is what I know and have interpreted from these posts:

    1. My neighbors are disgusted with their alderman, and I never met the man – he has never knocked on MY door (and from what I have read from his attendance records it wasn’t because he was hard at work)

    2. He seems to demand “favors” such as political support from local business people for licenses, apparently the Patel incident was not an isolated incident (I did a little investigation of my own)

    3. He has used a self serving relationship for politic support at the cost of good paying jobs(union) in the district – all with the blessing of a union chief looking the other way and even defending that action (I would like to hear the reason why, I know some of that person’s constituents found that interesting).

    All I want to hear “This isn’t true because……” from the guy representing me, instead I get talking heads that do the absolute worse job defending their guy.

    For god’s sake, man up Tony.

  18. Well what do you know, looks like this post inspired Tony to finally remove the Paul Butera picture with adoring commentary from his facebook page. (It having been posted there there since October.) Here is a screen capture in case for those demanding to see the original: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-fBUsCUgvMoNzk4YTI5YTQtMDhhYi00NDlmLWJkNDUtZTYyZWM0Y2QxMTM3/edit The photo remains (at least for now) on his re-election website. http://tonyzielinski.com/?page_id=245

Comments are closed.