Sewer Socialism

Milwaukee has deep German roots going back to the 1800’s with the City seeing the boom by a wave of immigrants who left Germany for political reasons in the 1840’s .  Prior to the German immigration, the City had a population made up of French fir traders and trappers like Jacques Vieau and Solomon Juneau. Milwaukee also saw an influx of ethnicity such as Poles, Scandinavian, Irish, Jewish, and (Yankee) British, however the numbers of these groups could not top the Germans.

They brought with them intellectualism, art, their politics and of course beer (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller Breweries).  Even in present day Milwaukee, you can see the remnants of the past in our architecture.  Notice the helmet like spires atop the Brumder building as well as the gazebo along the Milwaukee River.  Old World 3rd Street has seen the old buildings preserved and still hosting many German businesses.

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The brand of democratic socialism brought to Milwaukee from the late 1800’s up to 1960 was not radical like Marxism or National Socialism, but rather a type of constructive socialism that was all for clean, honest government and clean living. The political ideology was for a democratic political system that combined socialist economics like cooperatives.  Many farms and dairies in Wisconsin were run as cooperatives.   Locally, the Socialist Party of America was called Sewer Socialism in Milwaukee because of how our sanitary system became modernized and it was something that the party members boasted about regularly.

In 1910, the Socialists won most of the seats in the Milwaukee city council and county board. The first Socialist Mayor, Emil Seidel, in the United States was in Milwaukee.  Under his administration, the working minimum wage was raised and workers saw the enforcement of an 8 hour work day.  This was after the bloody Bay View Rolling Mills Strike.   However, Republicans and Democrats alike did their best to discredit the Socialists and Seidel was defeated for re-election, and the corruption returned with Mayor Daivd S. “All the Time Rosey” Rose.

The 2nd elected Socialist Mayor in Milwaukee was Daniel Webster Hoan, who governed until 1940 with honesty and efficiency.  Mayor Hoan’s term was a golden age in the Milwaukee’s government.  Milwaukee won a number of awards as the healthiest, safest and best policed big city in the United States.

Believe it or not, but the Socialist Party of America were pacifits.  Their anti-war platform coupled with their predominantly German heritage got them in trouble during World War I.  Because they didn’t support war of any kind, patriotic Americans saw them as being Pro-German and feared a German take over on the home front.


DW Hoan
Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Webster Hoan on the cover of the April 6, 1936 TIME magazine. The inside article is titled Wisconsin: Marxist Mayor. Hoan was the 2nd elected Socialist Mayor serving from 1916-1940


During The Great Depression, Milwaukee did what they could to stay a float.  The City started work relief programs which built public parks and recreation centers, libraries and when money was short they derived their own Red colored Milwaukee Municipal Script.

This good outcome of governance certainly doesn’t seem to be the kind of Socialism that the country wants to remember, (because in the eyes of most, Socialism is always bad) but it is in fact part of our political history.  And I’m proud to have been born in such a city with a solid past.

After Hoan, Milwaukee had Frank P. Zeidler, a 3 term Mayor, and the last Socialst to serve from 1948-1960


You’re Hired! White House Intern

I make a living keeping track of records…other people’s records.  I’m not so good when it comes to my own.  People would be appalled to know that I have boxes full of unorganized papers and photographs.  Thus I’m angry at myself for not keeping a better journal of the time when I served as a White House Intern.  Hopefully, using my blog,  I can resurrect what events occurred and piece together thoughts and feeling from past emails and notes and pictures.  (I have lots of pictures !)

It’s hard to get started when I can’t even recall why it is I was pushed in the direction of our nation’s capital.  At the time, and the time was late spring 2006, I was employed in City Government for a year, so I had a decent primary job and working part time in retail plus taking some extra college courses here and there.  At the beginning of 2006 I started in a new work location for the City, in the Document Services Section which housed the City Records Center, Mail Room and Print Shop.  Prior to this I had taken 2 government classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College with the same instructor.  He was a former City Department Head and State Senator.  In my opinion a very honest politician and somewhat of a hero to me… even if at the time he was a member of the opposing political party.  I looked up to him so much and was grateful that he gave me a superb letter of recommendation for my Intern application.  His classes got me energized to become a more active participant in politics. 

I found the application for a White House Intern when I was on my Congressman’s website and he had a link to  That’s where my memory gets fuzzy because I don’t remember why I was searching for a job. Perhaps I had a bad day at work or something.  I didn’t tell a lot of people what I was doing.  I was actually embarrassed because I felt like they would think I was out of my mind for attempting this.  I only had a week left before the deadline to submit everything I needed to be chosen for the Summer semester.  I was down to the wire and faxed all my materials on the last day.  




Something pushed me to try one more time. Just one more time, anything more and I’d appear obsessive about getting the job.  I used the summer to tweek my application before trying for the fall semester. Parts of this story still bring tears to my eyes when I think about it.

I remember it was a very hot summer day.  Even working in the basement we had unnecessary lights and equipment shut off to help cool the temps.  I was working on the Xerox Docutech High Speed Copier.  I was alone in the print shop at the time, when the phone ring.  I looked down at the caller I.D. and it read “Call from 202”.  Puzzeled, I looked at it for a few rings.  I couldn’t figure out why the 2nd floor would be calling me.  That would have been the City Clerk and I didn’t have any current business with them.  I picked up the phone to ease my worried mind.

“Print Shop.  This is Maggie,” I greeted.

I was asked my full name and I confirmed.

The woman introduced herself and asked, “Do you know why I’m calling?”

I told her I thought I did.  

It was this phone call that I was offered an internship in the photo office at the White House.  I couldn’t believe I had actually been selected.  She told me if I wanted to put my hand over the receiver and tell my co-workers the good news I could.  I looked around but no one was there.  During the conversation, Marvin had come in and was talking to an employee from another department near the mail room and I tried flagging him down. 

When I fished the phone call I was so excited and couldn’t wait to spread the news.  I ran all the way up to my old department to tell everyone.  Then I went to my 2nd job that night to tell those co-workers.  I was frantically trying to tell everyone.   It reminded me of a silly little clip from The Monkees’ episode called I’ve Got a Little Song Here when Mike sells his song to a Hollywood producer.  Here’s the clip.

My official start date was in September after Labor day.  I had a lot of work ahead of me the next few months putting together a suitable wardrobe, finding housing, getting my college credit squared away and tying up what needed to be done to be temporarily released from my job with the City.  The summer flew by.


pogo pic