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Once A Slimeball, Always A Slimeball: Sex Predator Who Owns Milwaukee’s Five O’Clock Club facing New Federal Sex Trafficking Charges

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

The convicted child sexual predator who has long operated Milwaukee’s famed Five O’Clock Steakhouse has just been charged in Hollywood, Florida with sex trafficking a minor.

Stelio Kalkounas is accused in federal court of recruiting an underage girl last year and trafficking her for commercial sex acts.

Despite Kalkounas’ notorious past, people have continued to patronize the pervert’s restaurant. Former Mayor Tom Barrett even held a fundraiser there. Bob Bauman, the alderman who represents the district the near west side restaurant is located in, has long defended Kalkounas saying people deserve a second chance. So much for that.

Kalkounas is already a convicted child predator based on charges in Illinois that he tried to recruit a teenage girl for sex. Kalkounas appeared in federal court in Florida yesterday. The FBI is asking that anyone else who has been victimized by Kalkounas to contact the agency.

Kalkounas’ family had operated steakhouses in Illinois before buying the famed 5 O’Clock Club from the Coerper family.

Mark Belling
May 17, 2024



Muth was an overwhelmingly likely winner of this year’s Preakness prior to his being scratched on Wednesday after coming down with a fever. Muth, trained by Bob Baffert, might be the best three year old in the country and his scratch changes EVERYTHING. More on that later.

In recent years the Preakness has become a second class race as virtually no trainer of a Kentucky Derby horse wants to run his horse back in two weeks. The Triple Crown schedule has been in place for years but racing has dramatically changed. Top horses used to run as many as 20 times a year. Now trainers like at least four weeks between races and prefer to run top horses only a few times a year. As result, the Preakness lately has consisted of the Derby winner, one or two other Derby horses and a bunch of horses that didn’t qualify for the Derby. The Derby winner almost always runs because you can’t win the Triple Crown if you don’t win the Preakness.

But there’s a twist this year. Because trainer Baffert remains banned from the Derby by Churchill Downs, he has pointed his top two horses for the Preakness. One of them, Muth, might well have been the favorite in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. But now Muth is scratched! There are only eight remaining horses entered in the Preakness (a contrast from the 20 in the Derby, a race filled with no-hopers). But 38 percent of them come from Baffert and legendary D. Wayne Lukas, the 88-year old Antigo native. That’s relevant because Baffert and Lukas have a combined 14 Preakness wins, including 13 of the past 30. (Baffert has eight and Lukas has six.)

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan is here and can’t be dismissed. However, he got an absolute dream trip unbothered on the rail while the other contenders were losing ground and banging into each other in the middle of the track. Rain is in the forecast which would help Mystik Dan.

I pulled off an incredible feat in last year’s Preakness when I picked the top four finishers in exact 1-2-3-4 order! I’ve never done that before in any of my posted picks in Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races. I had a big Derby and many of my suggested wagers cashed for huge money. While my top pick was out of the money, the rest of my top five all came in.

The Preakness is unlikely to produce big wagering payouts as the field is smaller than the Derby. I’ll list and assess the field in post position order.


#1 MUGATU He doesn’t belong in the race. He’s run 12 times with only one win and most of the races were slow.

#2 UNCLE HEAVY He has a good trainer and a great jockey. But he seems badly overmatched.

#3 CATCHING FREEDOM He ran a good fourth in the Kentucky Derby but was several lengths behind the three horses that hit the wire in a near three-way dead heat. Trainer Brad Cox almost never runs his horses on only two weeks rest so it’s noteworthy he’s doing it with this horse. He is a deep closer and likely needs a fast pace to burn out the front runners. He seems one cut below the top horses but does have a chance.

#4 MUTH Scratched.

#5 MYSTIK DAN Trainer Ken McPeek and rider Brian Hernandez combined to win both the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago, the first time a trainer-jockey combo has pulled off that double in nearly 75 years. Hernandez gave Dan a spectacular ride in a Derby in which many others had bad trips. But Derby winners usually run strongly in the Preakness and this horse relishes moisture in the track and there’s rain in the forecast.

#6 SEIZE THE GREY If one of the four big long shots wins, I think it’ll be this one. Trained by Wayne Lukas, this horse ran two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, winning a one mile stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard. As stated above, horses that win the Derby usually run well in the Preakness so it’s logical that a horse that ran well on Derby day but not in the Derby may also run well. This horse is bred to run long so the stretch-out from the race two weeks ago may help. He should be on or close to the lead. It would be a story for the ages if Lukas could pull this off, especially at the expense of his long-ago nemesis Baffert. But in order to do it, Grey still needs significant improvement over his previous races.

#7 JUST STEEL This is Lukas’ other horse and he’s here because Lukas just can’t help himself. Just Steel ran a stinky 17th in the Derby. As mentioned, trainers don’t run horses frequently anymore but that doesn’t apply to Lukas. This is Just Steel’s sixth start of the year and 13th of his career.

#8 TUSCAN GOLD With the scratch of Muth, this horse now has a huge chance to win. Tuscan has raced only three times and has only one win but has shown dramatic improvement in each race and is the most well-rested horse in the race, not having run in two months. Trainer Chad Brown scratched this horse from last week’s easier Peter Pan stakes in New York and Brown almost never runs his horses over their level. The breeding is sensational for this distance. The jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, is very good. The horse will likely be running in the middle of the pack in this eight horse field and has finished all three of his previous races very strongly. I have no negatives on this horse.

#9 IMAGINATION Baffert’s “other” horse and this one is ridden by arguably the most famous jockey in the world of the last 40 years. Frankie Dettori has been the most accomplished rider in Europe for decades, and the most flamboyant. He retired from European racing last year but is now riding full time in America and doesn’t seem to have lost anything at age 53. And the horse is pretty good too. Imagination has finished first or second in all six of his starts. He won a stakes earlier in the year but finished only second in a weak running of the Santa Anita Derby. For weeks I was convinced this year’s Preakness was Baffert’s race. Since he was banned from the Derby, he could point his top two horses to a depleted Preakness field. While the best one, Muth, is gone. Imagination is still here. Baffert wants this race badly so he can “stick it” to Churchill Downs and to his many critics. As for the race itself, I think Frankie will put Imagination on the lead. Baffert horses have gone wire-to-wire so many times that you can’t count them.


HorseProjcted Odds
#8 Tuscan Gold7-2
#9 Imagination2-1
#3 Catching Freedom7-2
#5 Mystik Dan8-5
#6 Seize the Grey12-1
#2 Uncle Heavy20-1
#7 Just Steel9-1
#1 Mugatu30-1

(in order of preference)

Bet #8 to win place and show (adjust according to you budget)
Bet one-third the above amount on #9 to win place and show
$10 exacta 8-9 with 3-6-8-9 ($60)
$5 exacta 3-6-8-9 with 8-9 ($30)
$30 exacta box 8-9 ($60)
$2 trifecta 8-9 with 3-8-9 with 2-3-5-6-8-9 ($32)
$1 superfecta 8-9-3 with 5-6 ($2)


$10 daily double using #8 and #9 in Race 13, the Preakness, with #1 Armando K in Race 14 ($20)


As of this writing, there is a forecast for rain and some, or all, of the Pimlico turf races could be moved to the main track. The following plays are suggested ONLY if the races are on the turf. If they are switched to the main track: NO PLAY. All are long shots.

Race 1, #6 Maximillions Dream (10-1)
Race 5, #1 Cooter’s Revenge (12-1)
Race 9, #1 Lucky Jeremy (10-1)
Race 11, #6 Smooth B (12-1)
Race 12, #9 Beatbox (5-1), #5 Running Bee (9-2) and #12 Fantastic Again (12-1)


In Pimlico Race 14, bet #1 Armando B (5-2) to win place and show




The seemingly best three year old in the country is not in this year’s race because he is trained by the notorious Bob Baffert, who remains banned at all tracks owned by Churchill Downs, Incorporated, including the namesake track that hosts the Derby. In years past, owners of Baffert-trained horses would send them to another trainer so they could run in the Derby but those horses always regressed when moved away from Baffert’s “bag of tricks.” The owner of Muth decided this year to keep the horse with Baffert and tried to sue to force his way into the race. The tactic obviously failed. It is a long principle in American law that private businesses can refuse service, or order off their property, anybody they want, so long as they aren’t discriminating on the basis of protected class reasons.

Baffert is not suspended anywhere in the country. He is merely personally banned by Churchill Downs which is fed up with Baffert’s massive number of medication violations and the tendency of his horses to drop dead for no apparent reason. Churchill Downs is a bad company and has damaged racing but in the Baffert case the company is doing the right thing. Many believe the Baffert ban will be dropped next year. But this year is the 150th running of the Derby and Churchill officials did not want the spotlight stolen by the white-haired rogue that many believe is an inveterate cheat.

This year’s Derby field is top heavy. At least 13 of the 20 horses entered seem way overmatched. Since Rich Strike’s shocking upset in 2022 (he never won another race in his life), bettors seem to be indiscriminately throwing money at crazy long shots as they seek a massive payday. That could lead to more generous prices than you’d expect on some of this year’s stronger horses.

There is a chance of rain both Friday and Saturday and that can affect how the track plays. As my picks are made before that, I am not able to take into consideration any track biases that may emerge. I like a couple of closers in the Derby but if, for example, the track seems to be favoring speed, adjust accordingly.

I will assess every horse in the field. If there are late scratches, I will not be able to update this site. Simply throw out any horse I use in my wagers if that horse is scratched. I actually prefer not to post suggested wagers but people simply demand it. The problem is that some people bet several thousand dollars and others bet three bucks. There is no way to post a betting strategy that accommodates both. I do suggest ramping up or down the size of the wagers to fit your budget. Also, the best bet in horse racing is old fashioned win, place and show. That’s because the house edge (the percentage of the pool taken out by the track) is lowest on these bets. I suggest making win place and show bets the backbone of your betting. But I understand some people are trying to hit the home run and make a fortune and will gravitate on the very hard to hit trifectas and superfectas.

The wild cards in this year’s race are Fierceness and Forever Young. Fierceness, last year’s two year old champ, has run five times. His three wins were eye-popping but the two losses were ugly. He’s a horse that seems to quit when faced with adversity. Deciding whether to play him or not is basically guesswork. Forever Young is unbeaten in five starts but none of those races were in America. He won the UAE Derby in Dubai and the Saudi Derby in Saudi Arabia but no winner of either of those races has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Forever Young raced his two year old races in Japan and Japanese racing is now better than that in the United States and Japanese horses are killing it in races all over the globe. But the Derby is an oddball race with a huge field and foreign training methods don’t seem to work in getting a horse ready for this race. That makes him another very hard horse to make a decision on.

Then there’s Sierra Leone. Boy, has he looked good. But he comes from way off the pace and that’s really hard to do in a 20-horse field with all the traffic and the kickback of dirt from front-running horses.

The preferred method of trainers to get a horse to win the Derby has changed. Less is now more. Most Derby winners race only twice as three year olds anymore. In years past, they could run five or more times. This allows the fresh horses to peak on Derby day but it also shortens their careers as many are simply fried after such a brutal race with lack of proper foundation.



#1 DORNOCH – The post position is terrible and horses that draw the rail are often finished before the first turn because of traffic problems and such. Dornoch has run good races but hasn’t really improved since his career began last year. He is a brother of last year’s Derby winner.

#2 SIERRA LEONE – The post position isn’t ideal but he may be able to overcome it because he lacks early speed and will drop back toward the rear anyway. He is the most consistent horse in the race and won the Risen Star Stakes in Louisiana and the Blue Grass in Kentucky in his two races this year. He has the right rider in Tyler Gaffalione who has won the riding title at Churchill Downs eight different race meets and knows how to ride this track. While Sierra comes from well off the pace, he makes his big move in the middle of the race and shouldn’t be all that far back at the top of the stretch. His trainer, Chad Brown, is arguably the most successful in America, and this would be his first Derby winner. I believe the Blue Grass was the strongest of this year’s Derby preps and I am giving all of the horses that ran in the race a chance to run very strongly in the Derby. Huge shot but must be lucky to get a clean trip.

#3 MYSTIK DAN – This is a longshot with a chance. He ran a huge race on a muddy track to win a stakes in Arkansas in February. He has an adaptable running style and an excellent underrated rider. Trainer Ken McPeek is the best trainer of long shots in key races in the country. This will be his fourth race of the year and that is not in sync with the profile of most recent Derby winners.

#4 CATCHING FREEDOM – Trainer Brad Cox’s horses always seem to run well in the Derby. This horse won the Louisiana Derby in March and hasn’t raced since which makes him the freshest horse in the race. Excellent jockey in Flavien Prat. The private clocker (workout analyst) I use isn’t sold on the horse’s current appearance.

#5 CATALYTIC – Trained by the controversial Saffie Joseph who was banned from Churchill Downs last year. This horse ran second in the Florida Derby but that’s a little misleading because winner Fierceness won the race by more than 13 lengths in a romp.

#6 JUST STEEL – Trained by the legend D. Wayne Lukas, the Antigo native who is getting close to 90. Lukas isn’t adapting to current training methods and has run this horse 11 times already including four times this year. Just Steel did run second in the Arkansas Derby. A win by this horse would be incredibly popular because of Lukas’ remarkable legacy. The young jockey, Keith Asmussen, is the son of the trainer of Track Phantom. I don’t see this horse winning but a top four finish is possible.

#7 HONOR MARIE – This horse is just a tad below the top contenders but obviously is a threat to win if he makes good improvement. He’s another deep closer who will have to work through traffic. His rider, Ben Curtis, never rode in the United States prior to this year but had a very successful season at Fair Grounds. Still, you’d like a rider with more dirt-racing experience (European tracks are either turf or synthetic.)

#8 JUST A TOUCH – This horse might win. I like him a lot. He’s making only his fourth career start but that’s no longer a negative and is more of a positive. He ran second in the strongly run Blue Grass and was leading most of the way. He is bred to love the 1 1/4 mile distance of the race. He has tactical speed which should have him sitting in third or fourth in the early going. Trained by Cox, who also has Catching Freedom and who, as mentioned above, gets peak performance out of his Derby horses. Jockey Florent Geroux is very good and is especially adept at avoiding traffic trouble. I have viewed every single workout of every horse in the race at Churchill Downs (all this is online now) and Just a Touch has been sensational. The workout analyst I use agrees with me. Horses that have strong pre-Derby workouts usually have a strong Derby. I have a concern about a strong pace and its impact on both this horse and Fierceness and think it will set up the closing run of Sierra Leone. But of my top three contenders, this one should be the best price. Don’t sleep on this one.

#9 ENCINO – Scratched.

#10 T O PASSWORD – He qualified for the race by winning a race in Japan that features an automatic entry to the Derby. But he has only two career starts. He has loads of natural speed and there’s a chance he will be on the lead. While I prefer lightly raced horses and love horses from Japan, this is an awfully big ask.

#11 FOREVER YOUNG – He’s unbeaten with five wins in three different countries. But none of them is the United States and foreign based horses simply do not win the Kentucky Derby. BUT! The speed figures in his wins this year in Saudi Arabia and Dubai were outstanding. His trainer has shipped horses to America before and—-I know this seems nuts——they always seem to win. His Japanese based rider has no experience running a rodeo like the Kentucky Derby. The horse has been kept wide in his previous races because he doesn’t like the “kickback” from the dirt of the frontrunners. There is no race with more kickback than the 20-horse Derby. If this was an eight horse field I’d pick him to win because I think he is the best horse in the race. His breeding is as strong as that of any dirt horse in the history of horse racing and while the sire and dam are Japanese, the bloodlines all trace back to American superstars. But it’s not an eight horse field. He has a huge chance to win but, as stated, there are quite a few negatives.

#12 TRACK PHANTOM – I have him in the middle of the pack. He is very talented but gave up the lead in the stretch in his last two races. I forgive that in lightly raced horses but this one has seven starts. He’s talented but he’s not one of my top picks.

#13 WEST SARATOGA – His speed figures are way too slow. The only reason to consider him is that crazy longshots have won the Derby before. But the vast majority of them run near the back of the field.

#14 ENDLESSLY – He won the Derby prep run on the synthetic track in Kentucky. But this race will be his first ever on dirt and there is no evidence he will improve on it.

#15 DOMESTIC PRODUCT – He wins his races and looks good doing it but the times of the races come back slow. Trained by Chad Brown who also has Sierra Leone. The biggest positive is the jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., who is the best rider in America.

#16 GRAND MO THE FIRST-  He’s never won a stakes race and finished 16 lengths behind Fierceness in the Florida Derby

#17 FIERCENESS – The enigma. As mentioned in my intro, he has raced five times with three eye popping wins and two brutally ugly losses. He just seems to quit if he isn’t on or close to the lead. He destroyed his competition in the Florida Derby (I was there and can attest with my own eyes) but that field was very weak. Trainer Todd Pletcher is as good as they come and owner Mike Repole is obsessed with the Derby. Veteran rider John Velazquez is still at the top of his game and the cleanest-riding jockey in the sport. If Fierceness breaks well from his wide post and gets clear sailing, he can win and might win by a lot. On pure talent, he is the best horse in the race. (Read that line again.) But in a wild race with a ridiculously large field like the Derby, where way more can go wrong than go right, it’s hard to pick a horse that doesn’t handle adversity.

#18 STRONGHOLD – He will be given consideration because of his California-based trainer who wins lots of races while also attracting a fair amount suspicion. The trainer learned his craft from one of the bigger racing cheats in the last few decades, the late Mike Mitchell. Well, what about this horse? He’s ultra-consistent but that’s why I don’t prefer him. I want a horse who is going to improve on Derby day and Stronghold has never run fast enough to win and runs the same speed figure every race.

#19 RESILIENCE – He should outrun his odds and has at least a small chance to win. Hall of Fame trainer and a hot veteran rider. He will have to overcome his wide post but has tactical speed and, while he doesn’t run real fast, he doesn’t seem to tire. He won the typically weakest Derby prep, the Wood Memorial in New York. I’m not sold on his breeding for a race this long. He’s one of those outsiders with a chance but not a big one.

#20 SOCIETY MAN –  He ran second to Resilience in the Wood so I have to rank him lower than Resilience. The big angle here is this is only the second Derby run for arguably the most famous jockey in the world over the last 40 years, the legendary Frankie Dettori. Dettori was based in Europe his whole career but is finishing his career in America and won lots of races in California this winter. He desperately wanted to get a ride in the Derby but ends up stuck with an outsider.

#21 EPIC RIDE –  if you want a crazy longshot with a chance to win and blow up the tote board, bet this horse. He ran third in the Blue Grass, which I have stated several times already was the strongest Derby prep (I think by far). But because it was only third place finished it is being overlooked. But Epic Ride ran fast enough to win both the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby and probably the Louisiana Derby. The wide post position sucks, especially for a speedy horse like this one that will have to be gunned the entire front stretch to angle over and get near the lead by the first turn. He’s bred to run forever and his “turf” pedigree is well-suited for Churchill Downs sand-based dirt track. I love Sierra Leone and Just a Touch in this race and those are the two horses who ran ahead of him in the Blue Grass. If you asked to pick a bomb rather than the likeliest winner I would tell you “Then, bet either Mystik Dan or Epic Ride.”

#22 MUGATU – As of the time I am writing this, he needs a scratch to get in. He’s been beaten badly in his last four races and I honestly can’t remember a single Derby winner ever who was coming off four rotten races.


#8 Just a Touch 10-1
#2 Sierra Leone 3-1
#17 Fierceness 5-2
#11 Forever Young 10-1
#3 Mystik Dan 20-1
#4 Catching Freedom 8-1
#21 Epic Ride 30-1
#7 Honor Marie 20-1


(adjust dollar amount to your budget)

In order of preference

  • Bet #8 Just a Touch to win place and show
  • Make a smaller bet on #2 Sierra Leone to win place and show
  • $15 exacta box 2-8 ($30)
  • $2 exacta box 2-3-4-7-8–11-17-21 ($112)
  • $5 exacta box 2-3-8-11-17 ($100)
  • 50-cent trifecta 2-8-11-17 with 2-3-8-11-17–21 with all ($144)
  • $1 trifecta box 2-3-8-11-17-21 ($120)
  • 50 cent trifecta 2-8 with 2-8-11 with ALL ($36)


I have no strong opinion at all on Friday’s Kentucky Oaks. If #15 Our Pretty Woman draws into the race, I would bet her (15-1 odds) along with #8 Tarifa (7-2).


I co-own a horse running in the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes at Aqueduct named Green Up. It’s Race 10 with a post time of 4:39 central time. She is a super-talented filly that has been beset by some issues which have prevented her from winning a graded stakes, which we really want for her. Unfortunately, arguably the best filly in the entire country, Randomized, is entered in the race. Randomized is coming off a six month layoff but if she is close to her best she will win. Very aggravating that horse is entered in our race.

At Churchill Downs good value plays are #11 Coppice (5-1) in Race 7, the Distaff Turf Mile, #11 Cugino (10-1) in Race 9, the American Turf, #6 I’m Very Busy (4-1) in Race 11, the Turf Classic and #3 Gun Party (7-2) in Race 14, the last of the day.

EXCLUSIVE: Man Accused Of Attempting To Kill Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officer Is Free On A Signature Bond!

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Even given the often scandalously low bail set by some lenient Wisconsin judges and court commissioners, a case from northern Wisconsin seems to be a poster child for the crisis of low bail.

The defendant, Mark Szczerba II of Kansasville in Racine County, is facing multiple felony charges including attempted homicide, for allegedly trying to kill a DNR Warden in Crandon in Forest County in northern Wisconsin.

Forest County Circuit Judge Leon Stenz has allowed Szczerba to remain free on a $10,000 signature bond while his case crawls through the court system in  Forest County.  A signature bond means Szczerba is free without having to put up any cash.   The no cash bond was set on the recommendation of the prosecutor in the case.  The DNR warden, whose name is being withheld in court records, testified at the bail hearing that he wanted substantial cash bail for Szczerba and cited Marsy’s Law, which establishes rights for crime victims, as the basis for his request.  The warden’s plea was blown off by the judge.

Szczerba has several convictions for disorderly conduct on his criminal record.

According to the criminal complaint in the attempted homicide case, Szczerba was at his cabin in Forest County and was riding after dark with his daughter and girlfriend in two UTVs.  The warden pulled the daughter over for speeding.  The complaint states that Szczerba intervened and got confrontational with the warden.

The warden said he feared for his life and that Szczerba attacked and tried to strangle him.  The warden fired a taser shot at Szczerba and struck him.  Officers from several other jurisdictions responded after the warden requested backup.

Szczerba was charged with attempted homicide and other felonies in August of last year.  The judge, Stenz, allowed him to remain free on the signature bond.  The case is moving extremely slowly in Forest County.  A hearing was held earlier this month but the case is not set for trial until October.  In the meantime, Szczerba remains free without having to put up a penny.

Perhaps if he had succeeded in killing the warden, the authorities in Forest County might have actually made him put up some money.

Mark Belling

March 18, 2024

Janesville School District Promotes Devil Worshipping Holiday In Which A Demon Assaults Kids Before St. Nicholas Comes

Janesville School District Promotes Devil Worshipping Holiday In Which A Demon Assaults Kids Before St. Nicholas Comes
By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

The employee newsletter sent to Janesville school district employees urges the celebration tomorrow of something called “Krampusnacht,” a holiday in which a horned demon goes door to door physically assaulting children. The website devoted to the day says it is to be celebrated December 5, the day before the Feast of St. Nicholas which is the beginning of the Christmas season in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Here’s the link the Janesville district provides:


District spokesman Patrick Gasper says the newsletter was sent only to teachers and other employees and that the district is not requiring teachers to honor the day in school. The district calendar includes no references on marking Hanukkah or Christmas. The only religious day in December that is featured is the day of the drunk demon who goes after kids. The link further encourages adults to do a lot of drinking on Krampusnacht.

Mark Belling
December 4, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Federal Grand Jury Inquiry Is Underway Into Corruption In Milwaukee City Government; Aldermen Are In Crosshairs

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

A federal grand jury is investigating corruption in Milwaukee city government with at least two, and potentially more, members of the Common Council involved.

It is unclear how expansive the probe is but part of the focus is on potentially illegal attempts to induce elected officials to deliver public policy decisions. Federal grand jury investigations are led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and are secret. They normally include investigations by the FBI. But word of this probe is getting as out as the investigation appears to be advanced and a number of individuals have already been questioned.

The entire common council is up for reelection early next year and the filing period to take out nominating papers begins in a few weeks. It is possible that aldermen linked to the probe will not for reelection. This would set off a local political frenzy as council jobs are considered golden with many aldermen serving for decades. They pay is currently $82,000 a year and Mayor Cavalier Johnson wants to jack it up to $94,000. In addition, the pension and other benefits are lavish and laws governing the use of campaign contributions are loose. In other words, these are great gigs.

Over the last several decades, there have been multiple investigations of Milwaukee aldermen and several major criminal convictions. The most recent, involving former Alderman Chantia Lewis, was a state investigation led by the Milwaukee County District Attorney. But most of the others were federal including probes that led to the convictions of Aldermen Michael McGee Jr., Jeff Pawlinski, Rosa Cameron and Paul Henningsen. The most recent conviction was of former Alderman Willie Wade who served four months in prison in connection with a broad investigation into the strip bar chain known as Silk.

Almost all of these corruption cases related, in one way or another, to aldermen receiving money from persons seeking to get what they wanted from the city, or cases of misuse of campaign contributions for personal matters. It is believed the current probe is along those lines.

As no one has been charged, I am not naming any of the officials who appear to be subjects of the investigation. It is common for subjects to eventually be notified by the feds and in some cases the targets become cooperative. That could happen here.

Rumors have circulated for years about which Milwaukee aldermen are being bought off and every decade or so some seem to get caught and convicted.

Mark Belling
November 10, 2023

Milwaukee Man’s Dashcam Video: Says He Was Blocked From Debate Area By Knife-Wielding Leftist

A Milwaukee man says he was blocked from driving near the GOP Presidential debate at Fiserv Forum last night by three leftists, one of whom pulled out a knife and they blocked his car from driving forward.   The man, who I am not naming, captured the incident on his car’s dash cam.

The man says he contacted Milwaukee Police to report the incident.  He says he sent the video to other media outlets but they showed no interest in his story.
Mark Belling
August 24, 2023




I almost did it again in the Preakness! After last year picking the top four horses in exact 1-2-3-4 order, three weeks ago I again nailed the winner and almost hit the superfecta cold as my selections ran 1-3-2-4. The Preakness is an easier race to handicap than the Kentucky Derby because of the smaller field and a few other factors. The Belmont Stakes is somewhere in between. The field isn’t large but it is usually far superior to the field in the Preakness and really is this year as this year’s Preakness lineup was frankly awful. That’s because many top Kentucky Derby horses skip the Preakness and wait for the Belmont, preferring to take a five week break.
The other challenge with the Belmont is the distance. At 1 ½ miles, it is not only longer than any of these horses have ever run, it is likely longer than any of them will ever run again. Breeding matters. I have had some of my greatest handicapping successes ever in this race, picking 73-1 Sarava in the 2002 Belmont and hitting a cold exacta of 30-1 Lemon Drop Kid over 55-1 Vision and Verse. More recently, I nailed 16-1 Creator as the winner of the 2016 race. But there have been misses along the way to counter all that glory.
I have strong opinions on all but one of the horses in this year’s race and I really like a few other races on Saturday’s Belmont Park card. As this is being written, the freakout over air quality on the east coast is is going on. There’s always a chance the races will be postponed which would really be absurd given that horses have been around for thousands of years and have run in all sorts of natural conditions. A note on scratches: I will be able to update this site through Friday. If any scratches occur after that, simply drop the scratched horse from my picks and wagers and move up the remaining horses accordingly.

I’ll assess the nine horse field in post position order.


#1 Tapit Shoes—Three of the nine horses are trained by Brad Cox who is in position to win his third Belmont in five years. But this one is the least talented and has only one career win in five starts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this horse is sent to the lead to guarantee a fast pace for Cox’s other two horses, both of which come from behind.

#2 Tapit Trice—Same first name as #1 and that’s because they are both sired by Tapit who has had a huge impact on the Belmont Stakes as a sire. This is one of two from trainer Todd Pletcher and I think is Todd’s best shot. He had won four of five races before running a lackluster seventh in the Kentucky Derby. But he had a rather rough trip in that race and I’m willing to give him a second shot. His running style of coming from way back is not the preferred style in the Belmont Stakes.

#3 Arcangelo—Here’s the wild card. This horse was not on the Kentucky Derby trail but is coming off a gutsy win in the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago at this same Belmont Park track. He is training very well for this race. His trainer is very low profile and this is by far her best horse. His rider, Javier Castellano, is solid and has been based at this track for over two decades. My fear is that his last race was such an improvement over his earlier outings that it will be hard for him to improve yet again. Nonetheless, he’s a contender.

#4 National Treasure—I picked him to win the Preakness and he did just that. But everything was in this horse’s favor. He’s a front runner and got a very slow pace in the Preakness and was still all-out to win against a much poorer field than he is facing today. Then, there’s the Baffert factor. Trained by the notorious white-haired racing charlatan Bob Baffert, the horse can’t be discounted. For some reason, Baffert horses tend to run very well when shipped to New York. This is the one I’m torn on. I’m not putting him in my top selections but I might be wrong……

#5 Il Miracolo—It would be Il Miracolo if he won.

#6 Forte—He’s the pre-race favorite and was the pre- ace favorite in the Kentucky Derby before being forced to scratch by track veterinarians over the strong objections of his owners. He’s six for seven lifetime and trained by Pletcher who has had tremendous success in this race. But there are bad vibes. He remained on the so-called “vet’s list” for weeks and his last workout, while fast, was unimpressive to me as his exercise rider kept imploring him to get on with it. Handicapping horse racing is not just picking winners but deciding who to throw out. For better or worse, I’m tossing Forte.

#7 Hit Show—The second of the three Brad Cox trained horses and his one is a very live longshot to win it all. This horse was a decent fifth in the Kentucky Derby despite racing rather close to an overheated pace. His breeding is spectacular and the great Belmont influence Tapit is the sire of the dam (mother). The horse is three for six in his career and the rider, Manny Franco, is very good and very experienced at the tricky Belmont track. This is the only 1 ½ mile dirt track in America and has an unusual configuration with very long and wide turns and a relatively short home stretch. Jockeys don’t matter much in some races but they do in the Belmont Stakes.

#8 Angel of Empire—I picked him second in the Kentucky Derby and he ran a very nice third coming from way off the pace. The problem is that kind of running style never works in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Cox is putting blinkers on the horse for this race. I normally hate that move because I see it as a sign of desperation and frustration with a horse. But in this case, it makes lots of sense as blinkers can focus a horse and get them to run faster earlier on. Angel’s Kentucky Derby speed figure is better than that of any other horse in this race and he has improved in each of his last five races. The five week gap since the Derby is ideal for a top horse. Jockey Flavien Prat is very good and now based at Belmont so he knows the track. Likely winner.

#9 Red Route One—This horse ran a so-so fourth in the Preakness against weaker competition than he’ll face here. He is making his sixth start of the year and just hasn’t improved at all. He’s good but not great. And his running style of coming from the clouds is wrong for the Belmont Stakes.


#8 Angel of Empire 7-2
#7 Hit Show 10-1
#3 Arcangelo 8-1
#2 Tapit Trice 3-1
#4 National Treasure 5-1

(in order of preference)

Adjust dollar amount to your budget; the dollar amount here is used to indicate the strength of the play

$20 to win place and show on #8 ($60)
$6 to win place and show on #3 ($18)
$5 exacta box 7-8 ($10)
$2 exacta box 2-3-7-8 ($24)
$2 exacta box 2-3-4-7 ($20)

If you’re looking for a bigger score I love the end of the Belmont card and suggest playing the pick 5, pick 4, pick 3 and late daily double:

Starting with Race 9 50-cent pick five 9-10-11-12 with 1-6 with 4 with 7-8 with 1 ($8)
Starting with Race 10 50-cent pick four 1-6 with 4 with 2-3-4-7-8 with 1 ($5)
Starting with Race 11 $1 pick 3 4 with all with 1 ($9)
Starting with Race 12 (The Belmont Stakes) $4 daily double 2-3-7-8 with 1 ($16)


Great card at Belmont Park. In Race 9, the Japipur, I like #10 Big Invasion (6-1). In Race 10, the Met Mile I like #6 Zandon (5-1) to upset superstar Cody’s Wish. In Race 11, the Manhattan a strong play on #4 Ottoman Field (5-2) and in the finale, Race 13, I like #1 Spirit of St. Louis (5-2).

Evers, GOP Legislature Agree On Deal To Expand School Choice, Raise Milwaukee Sales Taxes Without Referendum

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Republican legislative leaders and Governor Evers have reached a deal that will allow both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to drastically raise sales taxes without voter approval in a referendum. In exchange, Evers is agreeing to support a huge increase in funding for school choice in Wisconsin with private schools now getting $12,000 per year for each choice student enrolled.

The deal will be announced later today. It still needs to be approved by both the State Senate and Assembly. The agreement was reached by Evers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Devin LeMahieu.

To reach the deal, Vos and GOP Assembly members dropped their demands that any increase in sales taxes in Milwaukee be approved by voters in a referendum. Instead, Milwaukee County will be able to raise its sales tax to 0.875% with a two-thirds vote of the County Board and the City of Milwaukee will be able to create a whopping new 2% sales tax if approved by a two-thirds vote of the City Council.

In exchange, Democrat Evers agreed to what may be the largest expansion of statewide school choice ever. Legislative leaders say school choice advocates believe the increase in funding for choice students will mean the number of kids attending schools under the choice program could triple.

Mark Belling
June 8, 2023

Mark’s 2023 Preakness Picks


The Triple Crown ain’t what it used to be. For decades, it was a series in which the best three year old horses faced off in three classic races spread over five weeks. But racing has changed. Trainers don’t run their horses as much as they used to and most loathe running horses on short rest. While racing has changed, the schedule of the Triple Crown races has not. The Preakness is run a mere two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes three races after that. The schedule is as outdated as baseball was before it banned the shift and introduced the pitch clock.

The upshot is that only one horse that ran two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby is in Saturday’s Preakness. That’s the Derby winner, Mage, who is primarily running because the only way to win the Triple Crown is to win all three races. Every one of the other 18 Derby horses is absent from the Preakness, including the horses that scratched before the Derby was even run.
A modest fix would be to add an extra week between the Derby and the Preakness but that wouldn’t accomplish much. Trainers just aren’t going to run top horses without at least a month between races, at least not in the United States. My suggestion is to keep the Derby on the first Saturday in May, move Baltimore’s Preakness to the first Saturday in June and New York’s Belmont Stakes to the first Saturday in July. It makes a lot of sense but change in horse racing can take forever. This year’s Preakness mess might speed things up.

Messed up or not, you can still bet on the Preakness. You may recall, and if you don’t I’m reminding you, that last year I PICKED THE PREAKNESS SUPERFECTA COLD!!! I nailed the top four finishers in EXACT ORDER 1-2-3-4. Unfortunately, First Mission had been my strong pick to win the race until he was scratched. The remainder of the field is very mediocre and, by default, I’m ending up in betting bed with the infernal white-haired charlatan from California and his horse who will be the race’s “lone speed.” My plays on this race are only mild opinions


#1 National Treasure—Trainer Bob Baffert is banned from Churchill Downs and thus, the Kentucky Derby, but he’s not banned anywhere else and he has a legitimate contender to win the Preakness which the old cheat has done an amazing seven times. This is a serious horse who has run with the best in California. He has natural speed and Baffert is adding blinkers, which usually enhances a horse’s early speed. There is no doubt the plan here is to try to win the race wire-to-wire. Not only is National Treasure likely to be in front, he might be way out front and has a chance to simply run away from everybody else.

#2 Chase the Chaos—The longest shot in the field, this horse has been an also ran when facing top California horses.

#3 Mage—I was sure surprised this horse won the Derby. He’s only the third horse ever to win who didn’t race as a two year old and didn’t seem to have the seasoning needed to win. But he not only won but powered away in the stretch in an extremely impressive performance. It was by far the best race that any horse in this field has ever run. But the question of his inexperience is still there and you have to wonder if he will regress on the type of short rest trainers hate to run horses on. On the other hand, the majority of horses that run big in the Derby come back to run big in in the Preakness. If he wins here, he will be in three weeks one of the more unlikely candidates to sweep the Triple Crown.

#4 Coffeewithchris—This is a local Maryland-based horse trained by a guy with a history of bringing in longshots. But the trainer has never won a race like this one. The horse is very consistent and runs well in races about two notches lower than this one. He does have tactical speed and I think he may be running second in the early stages behind National Treasure.

#5 Red Route One—He comes from way, way, WAAAAAAAAY back. This is an improving horse with lots of experience coming off a win in a lesser stakes in Arkansas. But his closing style is not well suited to the pace scenario in this year’s Preakness. The trainer and the jockey are among the best in the country.

#6 Perform—After losing his first five races, he’s won two in a row against lesser competition but he’s clearly improving and is trained by a Hall of Famer. His speed figures are nowhere near fast enough to win the Preakness so he needs to make a major step forward. If you’re looking for a big longshot in a race that won’t have many high priced horses, this might be your guy.

#7 Blazing Sevens—Trainer Chad Brown won the Preakness last year with a horse that skipped the Derby and pointed for the Baltimore race. He’s trying the same thing here. The jockey is the absolute best in America, Irad Ortiz. But Blazing Sevens is a rare Brown-trained horse that hasn’t improved with age. He was one of the top two year olds last year but his two starts this year have been mediocre. He also has a running style that isn’t ideal, coming from well off the pace. But it’s risky to ever ignore a Chad Brown horse and Ortiz has an uncanny ability to make perfect riding decisions during a race.

#8 First Mission—SCRATCHED


#1 National Treasure 4-1
#3 Mage 8-5
#7 Blazing Sevens 6-1
#5 Red Route One 10-1
#6 Perform 15-1

(in order of preference)

(Adjust bet amounts to fit your budget)
$10 to win place and show on #1 National Treasure ($30)
$3 exacta partial wheel 1 with 3-4-5-6-7 ($15)
$1 exacta partial wheel 3-4-5-6-7 with 1 ($5)
$2 superfecta 1-3-7-5 ($2)
After what I did last year, I have to play that last bet

My opinion in the race is mild as I felt First Mission towered over the field, but alas…….


I like a longshot in Race 5 at Pimlico, #7 Amani’s Image (8-1) (no play if race is taken off turf)