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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Summerfest's head guy talks about how much Summerfest's head guy is making

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Did you have any problem with Summerfest director Don Smiley making almost three-quarters of a million dollars?

Some did.  I don't.   And neither does the guy cashing the checks.

I've gone on the air to say that, if the folks who run the Big Gig think Smiley is worth it AND if he does what it takes to knock down the bonuses that come with his deal, more power to him.   My only knock is that I thought Smiley should own it--tell the world, claim his prize and do so without apology.   So far, he remained silent, letting Summerfest officials do the talking.

Until now.

Smiley dropped me a lengthy e-mail late Tuesday night in which he talks about is money, his mission and Milwaukee.   With his permission, I share it with you:



Dear Mr Mueller,
I would love to comment and be heard but I'm not going to go on the radio, television or newspaper to comment on my compensation. I choose the high road. Let them write whatever they want. I don't care.
 Very inappropriate for me to contribute to this contrived drama.
 Jeff Wagner graciously invited me on, but we thought it was more appropriate for Chairman Kellner to comment as he represents our Board and company.
 I'm not ashamed of anything . I've spent 9 years here promoting Summerfest , NOT ME.  I'm very proud of what our entire company has achieved. There's no way, I could have accomplished everything we've done on my own. I have a great team.
I've stayed out of and not pursued personal media attention.
A compensation offer was made to me and I accepted. I'm not on the Board and I don't get a vote. We receive -0- tax dollars and I'm not an elected politician. So......who cares what the Board decides to pay me or anyone else ? 
We still have the cheapest ticket in the Nation and maybe the World. It's not like we charge $40-50 admission to fund my salary. Our most expensive ticket is $16 !!!! Check out other music festivals prices in the country . You might be totally shocked.
My life is not about money. If it was, I would have been gone 10 job offers ago where I could have made a lot more money.
If I have a couple of good years after working for 40 years.......that's just the way it goes. I don't ever envy or begrudge anyone else for their success. I was born and raised in Racine. I'm here doing what I'm doing because I WANT TO BE HERE.
This is all so foolish to me. It's embarrassing for our city that my compensation was on the front page above the fold and then again below the fold. Are they kidding? Is that all they got?
Anyway, it's stuff like this that wears people out on the topic of "Milwaukee" and the branding of same. We, as a city, are forever trying to recruit talent to move to Milwaukee. This kind of parochial "news" surely is anti productive. Young, talented people aspire to be successful . Period.
I'll continue to bust my ass, promote Summerfest and Milwaukee. Just as I always have.
Rest peacefully, my compensation in 2013 WILL NOT be what is was in 2011 and 2012. So therefore, anyone who wants me to buy them a beer, better catch me early in the run :)
Thanks Gene........I appreciate you seeing the big picture.
Don Smiley
So there.  He IS owning it.
Is Smiley's salary news?   Sure, in that most of us jealously keep our take-home pay a state secret but LOVE to dish about what others make.   And, in an era when so many people are being asked to get buy with less or forego raises altogether, someone in the public eye making Smiley's kind of loot amid a steady stream of raises is going to get tongues clacking.   Smiley came to his bounty legally, although some officials wonder about the opaqueness of the process but again, no rules were broken and no taxpayer cash is in play.
This just in: Don Smiley makes a lot of money.  The bigger story: he says he's earned it.   
And you heard it here first.

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