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Milwaukee, WI

‘There’s a learning curve’: IndyCar hybrid system brings new challenges to the Milwaukee Mile

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‘There’s a learning curve’: IndyCar hybrid system brings new challenges to the Milwaukee Mile


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WEST ALLIS – The first full-field test of IndyCar’s new energy recovery system at the Milwaukee Mile included several categories of drivers:

  • Those who had competed at the Mile, which hasn’t had an IndyCar race since 2015 but will host a pair on Labor Day weekend.
  • Those who had done some testing with the hybrid system, which allows drivers to recapture energy during off-throttle times and then use it much for an extra kick of power as they do the push-to-pass system they already have on road and street circuits.
  • And those who had done little or none of either.

It turns out their opinions on the system were even more varied than their experience levels with it or the track.

“You’ll get more used to it with time, that’s for sure,” said Graham Rahal, a veteran of seven Milwaukee races who finished third last time. “Even for me today, in my car, they changed basically my entire steering wheel from two days ago to today to add the buttons and change things around.

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“There was a lot in my brain today as far as to figure out in a short period of time. … It will get better.”

Milwaukee Mile, back on the IndyCar schedule, ‘is going to race fantastic’

The Mile opened in 1903, eight years before the first Indianapolis 500, and has been the site of 113 Indy-style championship races, but in recent decades various promoters were unable to run a profitable IndyCar event.  

The return this year, with two 250-lap races sponsored by the Hy-Vee, is being promoted by State Fair Park, which owns the facility, with the help of IndyCar. Nearly $3 million in state and private money has been spent on revitalizing the track.

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“I love it,” said Pato O’Ward, one of the drivers who hadn’t driven on the Mile before Tuesday.

“I think this is going to race fantastic. It’s very enjoyable. It really is. It reminds me of Iowa, but just obviously less banking. It’s a bit old-school like that.”

Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner, also was turning his first laps at the track he described as rough and “slidey.” He enjoyed the challenge.

Deploy of the hybrid affects handling

And as for the hybrid?

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“You can feel it deploying; it depends when you deploy,” Ericsson said.

“If you deploy in the middle of the corner, you’re definitely going to put yourself in some trouble, or potential trouble. You need to be precise in when you deploy and be smart about it. Same with the ‘regen.’ That does things for the handling of the car. Whether it’s in the corner or wherever you want to regen.

“So it’s definitely a tool, from team to team, track to track, manufacturer to manufacturer, will have techniques on when you want to use it. It’s what I like about it. It’s something you can do different to your competitors.”

That’s the best case scenario. But O’Ward hadn’t seen much of it by the time he spoke with reporters after the first few hours.

“Right now, we’re all working within certain limits that we can work in and it’s just … it doesn’t really change the wave, if that explains it,” O’Ward said. “A lot of the guys are probably not even using it. I wasn’t really touching it.

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“I would like it to be a bit more of a shift in terms of performance, in terms of just what we get to feel.”

IndyCar hybrid debuts in July 7 race at Mid-Ohio

The hybrid system is scheduled to debut two races from now on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the July 5-7 weekend.

After that, six of the final eight races of the NTT IndyCar Series are scheduled for oval tracks, including a doubleheader July 13-14 on the seven-eighths-mile Iowa Speedway and Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 at the Mile.

“On the simulated restarts we were doing, when you utilize it, it’s a clear boost,” Rahal said. “I would also say in traffic when you get really bogged down, it was nice to be able to pull the deploy and really feel a lot of gain.

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“That can make racing quite interesting, I think. As challenging as it is to remind yourself of it all the time, I think the net effect is going to be positive.”

Over the course of further testing at Iowa, Nashville Superspeedway, Worldwide Technology Raceway and elsewhere, teams will continue to gain an understanding of the best ways to use the system on various types of tracks.

“There’s definitely optionality with it,” said Josef Newgarden, who won the pole the last time the series was at the Mile. “There’s a learning curve. There’s a strategy to it.

“How do you utilize it? It’s not just a set thing for everybody and it’s there. You can use it a lot of different ways. There’s definitely going to be a learning curve and I think optionality for people to use it differently.”

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Milwaukee Mile hybrid test runs smoothly

Tuesday’s test was delayed by nearly an hour for inspection and work on several areas on the catch fence. Then teams spent the morning working on their own. In the afternoon they simulated racing conditions, complete with restarts and pit stops, in groups of 10.

They combined to complete 3,563 laps with a half-hour break for a sprinkle but otherwise without incident.

Team Penske Chevrolet driver Will Power, who has seven races’ experience at the track including a victory in 2014, turned the most (188) and posted the fastest lap (22.6001 seconds, 161.521 mph). Power also drove in the hybrid’s first test at the Mile last fall.

“It’s the same system,” Power said, when asked about the evolution. “Just we’re not having issues with it. We’ve got to a point where I think it’s working well.”

Newgarden was second-fastest and Scott McLaughlin third as Team Penske matched its 1-2-3 finish Sunday at Road America in Elkhart Lake. Colton Herta of Andretti Global had the best lap among Honda drivers, fourth. O’Ward was fifth.

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Handling is still a key at Milwaukee

Speeds were down almost 10 mph from the Newgarden’s qualifying run from 2015, due largely to the cars having considerably less downforce. Then drivers barely lifted off the throttle in the long, flat turns. Now they do, and that’s an opportunity to recapture energy with the hybrid unit.

The gap should close some by August, but the hybrid unit isn’t going to make up all the difference.

“The gains that it gives you aren’t big enough in order for you to shift focus on trying to use it in the most efficient way possible vs. just trying to make a perfect lap with a good setup and everything,” O’Ward said.

“Right now, there is more lap time in making sure your car and your setup is good and perfecting how you get through a corner, vs. ‘Oh, I need to engage it here.’”

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Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee School Board approves $1.5 billion budget amid accounting crisis

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Milwaukee School Board approves $1.5 billion budget amid accounting crisis


Milwaukee School Board members approved a $1.5 billion budget Thursday night while they are still uncovering the full consequences of severe accounting failures by administrators who have left the district.

One of the eight board members, Darryl Jackson, voted against the budget.

Board members said they needed to approve a budget plan so the district can continue operating, paying staff and planning for the next school year, as MPS approaches the end of its fiscal year June 30. The board could make cuts to the budget later in the year, when the district’s financial situation becomes more clear.

The school district is facing a possible reduction in state aid to offset previous accounting errors that may have caused the district to be overpaid. MPS also faces threats of additional aid being withheld because of late financial reports, as officials dash to piece together months of faulty accounting.

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Three top officials have departed MPS since the accounting problems came to light: Superintendent Keith Posley, Chief Financial Officer Martha Kreitzman and Comptroller Alfredo Balmaseda. A new coalition is seeking to recall four school board members. Gov. Tony Evers is hiring auditors to take a closer look at MPS operations.

The district notched one win on Thursday when board members and state officials agreed on a corrective action plan for the district. The approval of that plan means that MPS won’t miss its next state aid payment June 17.

Union calls for budget approval, others call for a delay

Before voting on the budget, board members heard the frustration of community members who felt blindsided by the news of the district’s accounting problems, especially on the heels of a successful referendum to raise local property taxes for the school district.

Annie Young said she was attending her first school board meeting, along with her two children.

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“Why did you come to us asking us to give you more money so that things didn’t get cut, and you didn’t have your ducks in a row? You screwed us, and that made me upset,” Young said. “So at the age of 56 years old, I came down here for the very first time to say I’m disappointed, and I think everybody needs to do better.”

Some called on board members to delay their vote on the budget, while members of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association urged board members to approve it.

“The board needs to pass the budget to stop the uncertainty that the families and workers have right now,” said Ingrid Walker-Henry, president of the MTEA, the union for MPS staff. She added that the board needs to “fix the problem that we all know exists and ensure that a situation like this never happens again.”

Jilly Gokalgandhi, vice president of the board and chair of the board’s budget committee, said the board needed to get a budget plan in place, and would consider changes to that budget plan after the state Department of Public Instruction determines how much state funding the district will receive in light of the district’s errors.

“This budget will change as DPI provides us with more information on what the real impact will look like for the district,” she said. “We know it’s a serious impact, and so as we get more information, we will share more information.”

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Jackson, before voting against approval of the budget, said he was skeptical of the budget prepared by Posley. 

“Payroll has to happen, people have to get paid, that’s a given,” Jackson said. “But also, I don’t trust the proposed budget that was put in place by past administration.”

Accounting errors could lead to future budget cuts

MPS could be docked between $35 million and $50 million in state aid for the next school year due to previous accounting errors by the district, according to initial estimates DPI provided to the Journal Sentinel Thursday afternoon.

If the state aid is reduced, the school board could make budget cuts, raise local property taxes to offset the reduction in state aid, dip into the district’s savings, or use some combination of those options, according to staff at the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Gokalgandhi said the board would be “looking for solutions that do not impact the taxpayers,” acknowledging that those solutions could include budget cuts.

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“I think across the board, we are feeling like we want to evaluate scenarios within our current budgetary abilities and powers to make sure that the taxpayers of Milwaukee are not impacted,” Gokalgandhi said.

Chris Bucher, communications officer for the state Department of Public Instruction, said the errors by MPS may have included grant dollars being coded into the wrong year, journal entries without complete documentation and incorrectly coded revenues and expenditures.

MPS budget cuts nearly 300 staff positions

The district’s budget plan cuts nearly 300 staff positions for the next school year. MPS has not answered questions from the Journal Sentinel or Wisconsin Policy Forum about how many of those positions are currently vacant. 

School districts across the state are facing budget cuts this year, squeezed between rising costs and state-imposed revenue limits that haven’t kept pace with inflation.

When MPS board members voted on a referendum to send to voters this year, they chose a middle road: a tax increase that would significantly reduce the district’s deficit but not entirely eliminate it. The referendum will provide MPS with about $140 million in additional funds for the next school year, while the projected deficit was $200 million.

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The biggest cut in the budget plan, which was presented in April by Posley, is the loss of about 130 school support teachers who mentor new teachers and facilitate training. They had been paid with federal pandemic relief aid, which is expiring. They are being offered jobs as classroom teachers, a district spokesperson said.

Posley’s budget plan also cut four out of 14 positions in the district’s Black and Latino Male Achievement Department and Gender Identity and Inclusion Department, including the GII director. A budget amendment from Gokalgandhi and board member Megan O’Halloran added the GII director back into the budget by cutting the district’s director of remote work.

Posley’s plan also cut seven of 22 staff members in two other departments: Restorative Practices, and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Board members O’Halloran and Erika Siemsen amended the budget to save the director of the Restorative Practices Department and two restorative practices coaches. The district plans to fund the jobs by not filling other vacant positions.

Other budget amendments from board members reversed Posley’s cuts to one mentor teacher, three trauma coaches and two work-based learning specialists.



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Milwaukee, WI

Trump refers to Milwaukee as 'horrible' just before the city hosts the Republican convention

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Trump refers to Milwaukee as 'horrible' just before the city hosts the Republican convention


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump used the word “horrible” in talking about Milwaukee — the city where he will accept the Republican nomination next month — during a closed-door meeting Thursday with GOP congressmen, according to several people in the room who spoke afterward.

The comment, first reported by Punchbowl News while the meeting was in progress, immediately drew disagreements from those there about what Trump meant.

Several congressmen who support Trump and attended the meeting argued he was referring to crime and voter fraud. Trump frequently denounces Democratic-led cities as unsafe — even as violent crime decreased nationally in the most recent FBI statistics — and repeats falsehoods about his loss in the 2020 election.

President Joe Biden’s campaign and his Democratic allies pounced on the reported remark even as Wisconsin Republicans contested how it was being interpreted. Biden posted a photo on the X social platform of himself greeting the Milwaukee Bucks after their 2021 NBA championship with the message: “I happen to love Milwaukee.”

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Milwaukee is hosting the Republican National Convention starting July 15 and is the largest Democratic stronghold in swing-state Wisconsin.

Trump is scheduled to be in Racine, Wisconsin, for a campaign rally on Tuesday, just three weeks before heading to Milwaukee for the convention.

What to know about the 2024 Election

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung posted on X that Trump “was talking about how terrible crime and voter fraud are.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin, said Trump was talking about the “terrible or horrible” crime rate in the city.

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“He was directly referring to crime in Milwaukee,” said Van Orden, who told The Associated Press he was sitting just feet from the former president.

He said Republicans in the room concurred. “They’re like, yeah, crime is terrible.”

U.S. Rep, Scott Fitzgerald, also from Wisconsin, told WISN-TV in Milwaukee that Trump was referring to election integrity.

“That’s where the comment came from, that Milwaukee’s just terrible,” Fitzgerald said. “What he was talking about was the elections in Milwaukee, their concerns about them.”

But Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, who represents southeast Wisconsin, disputed that Trump made the comment.

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“I was in the room,” Steil posted on X. “President Trump did not say this. There is no better place than Wisconsin in July.”

And Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents northern Wisconsin, said he never heard Trump call Milwaukee a “horrible city.”

“What I heard is to make sure there’s election integrity in Milwaukee,” Tiffany said in a telephone interview. “He’s talking about the states that are in play and the states of greatest importance and Wisconsin is top of the list.”

A Trump aide and two attorneys who advised him in 2020 were charged with felonies last week in Wisconsin for their roles in a scheme to get Republicans to cast Wisconsin’s electoral ballots to Trump even though he lost the state.

Government and outside investigationshave uniformly found there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have swung the 2020 election. But Trump has continued to spread falsehoods about the election, particularly in Wisconsin.

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Republican Rep. Jim Banks, of Indiana, said he was also in the room and “Trump never disparaged Milwaukee.”

“Just another Democrat hoax,” Banks posted on X.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, when asked about Trump’s reported remarks, said at a news conference, “If Donald Trump wants to talk about things that he thinks are horrible, all of us lived through his presidency, so right back at you buddy.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat who represents and lives in Milwaukee, made a nod to Trump’s recent felony convictions in her response. Trump is scheduled to be sentenced in New York on July 11, days before the convention opens.

“Once he’s settled in with his parole officer, I am certain he will discover that Milwaukee is a wonderful, vibrant and welcoming city full of diverse neighborhoods and a thriving business community,” Moore posted on X.

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Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection this year, said on X that Milwaukee is “part of what makes Wisconsin the best state in the nation. Donald Trump wouldn’t understand even if a jury told him so.” She used the Trump comment in a fundraising plea hours after it was first reported.

Local and statewide Democratic leaders, including Gov. Tony Evers, worked with Republicans to land the convention this summer.

Evers, in response to Trump’s comment, posted on X: “Add it to the list of things Donald Trump is wrong about.” He followed it with an emoji of a clown face.

Milwaukee was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but that was moved almost entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

___ Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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Milwaukee, WI

Giant fluorescent tentacle art on display at free ArtBlaze beach events

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Giant fluorescent tentacle art on display at free ArtBlaze beach events


MILWAUKEE — See gigantic florescent tentacles for free on the Milwaukee lakefront as part of the four-part ArtBlaze on the Beach summer beach party series.

ArtBlaze attendees can enjoy live music, food, s’more stations, tie dye making, art experiences, dance lessons, yoga and a great view of the 30-foot tentacle art.

The beach parties kick off Wednesday, July 10, with family friendly activities starting at 3:30 P.M. and shifting into a dance party later in the evening.

Joy Engine, the public art production company presenting ArtBlaze, is hosting the festivities at Bradford and South Shore beaches.

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“When searching for a site that naturally brings people from all walks of life, including residents of the deep lake, our public beaches seem like an obvious choice,” said Steph Salvia, Joy Engine Executive Director.

The featured tentacle art exhibit is handmade in Milwaukee by FuzzPop, a local multimedia production studio.

There are four chances to join in on the art-filled beach party July 10, July 31, August 7 or August 21, with fresh live music headliners at each event.

ArtBlaze at the Beach is the newest of Joy Engine’s other Milwaukee-based public art experiences, including Under One Moon, Out of the Box, and Nitelight.

For the full music lineup and event offerings check out the Joy Engine website.

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