Wisconsin State Senator Introduces Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

Great!

MADISON, Wis. – Law enforcement would no longer be able to seize and keep an innocent person’s property under a bill aimed at reforming Wisconsin’s civil asset forfeiture law.

State. Sen. Dave Craig last week released the bill for co-sponsorship.

The Town of Vernon Republican said it’s astonishing that it’s “common practice” in Wisconsin and so many other states to allow law enforcement and district attorneys to launch civil lawsuits against property suspected to have been used in a criminal enterprise even though the person linked to the property is never charged with a crime.

United Airlines Grounds Domestic Flights

Wow. It’s going to be a rough travel day for a lot of folks tomorrow.

An IT meltdown has caused United Airlines to issue a ground stop for all domestic flights.

 Russians?
UPDATE: Looks like they’ve fixed it.

Forced Participation

This picture from one of the marches made me chuckle. Clearly, this guy’s wife, or husband, made him participate.

012117_ed_steele_womens_rally_courthouse_square_denton_tx_259

Schumer Obstructs

Remember when obstructionism was considered bad?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he will absolutely block President Trump‘s pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat if the nominee is not “mainstream” enough.

“If the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we absolutely will keep the seat open,” Schumer told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

The New York Democrat, who was booed during a speech at Trump’s inauguration, had previously criticized his Republican colleagues for blocking former President Obama‘s nominee, Merrick Garland, last year.

Trump has said he plans to announce his pick to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the next two weeks. He released a short list of potential nominees last summer, one of whom he met with shortly before entering office.

This is one of the areas where Trump does have a mandate. He was very clear about his potential Supreme Court picks during the campaign and it was heavily reported. He even published a list. As long as his nominee comes off of that list, he or she should be confirmed.

Of course, none of that matters to Schumer.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

West Bend man recovering in ICU after being pulled from snowbank

A West Bend man, 61, is being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee after being found lying in a snowbank Tuesday morning on N. Main Street.

According to West Bend Police Lt. Duane Farrand, the man was reportedly found before 6 a.m. in the 1300 block of N. Main Street.

Neighbors in Barton said a member of Asplundh Tree Service found the man in the snowbank just outside Bagg End Tavern. The man was cold and wet.

Patrons at Joker’s 5 Bar & Grill said they knew the man as Jeff and said “he walked everywhere.”

Lt. Farrand said they were called to the scene for someone who had “slipped on the ice.” Farrand did not know if the man suffered hypothermia.

Vrana Body Shop shares the same driveway as Bagg End Tavern. Staff said they were aware police were on scene Tuesday morning. They said the driveway was a “sheet of ice” and even the trucks from Asplundh had a tough time with traction.

The man’s relatives said he was walking around 8 p.m. Monday when he slipped and fell on the ice. Every time he tried to get up he fell again and slid further down the driveway away from the road. The final time the man tried to get his footing he fell and hit his head. The man did not regain consciousness until he was found the next morning.

The man is still at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.

New events director for Downtown West Bend Association

Anna Jensen, 25, is relatively new to the community of West Bend. A transplant from Edgerton, Wisconsin, Jensen moved to town for a job in radio sales. Now a short year and a half later she’s the new events director for the Downtown West Bend Association.

Jensen studied meteorology in college. She took courses like physics and chemistry and interned at a couple of TV stations in the weather department.

“I’m really more into the people and less into the computers,” she said, while visiting Tuesday morning in the Main Street office of the DWBA.  “That’s what kind of brought me into sales. I can start a conversation with a stranger and have no problem talking to anybody.”

Aside from her strong social skills, Jensen has managed to successfully network in West Bend and surrounding communities. She’s a member of the green coats with the West Bend Chamber of Commerce and she’s with the Hartford Chamber.

Last year Jensen worked closely with the DWBA marketing several events including the Downtown West Bend Concourse/ToAD, Maxwell Street Day and Music on Main.

“I’d really like to grow the current events and maybe build another event in the following year,” she said.

Carol Baranyk will be working alongside Jensen. “She’s a perfect fit for this position,” said Baranyk. “She’s not afraid to strike up a conversation with someone, she’s enthusiastic, and hopefully with meteorology in her background she’ll be able to predict the weather and keep the rain away for Music on Main.”

West Bend-area family to be featured on Family Feud

A family from the West Bend area will be appearing next month on The Family Feud as their episode airs Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. on WVTV Channel 18.

Liz Borden said her family was on the Feud over the summer. “We said we are from Hubertus, since that’s where we grew up,” said Borden. “We are spread out now but I’m in the Newburg area and my sister is in Jackson.”

The family in the picture with Steve Harvey starting from the left is brother Chris from Milwaukee, sister Kim from Jackson, myself Liz, mom Janet and dad Gary who split time between Nekoosa and Green Valley, AZ.

The family auditioned in Milwaukee in November 2015. “We found out they only took 25 families from Wisconsin and then when you went to Atlanta and you had to try out again,” she said. “So there was a chance you might have gone to Atlanta but not actually make it on.”

The show paid the families travel expenses and the word at the network was, “They told us they only take the best of the best.”

Borden raved about show host Steve Harvey. “He is amazing and the funniest guy you will ever meet,” she said. “He will crack jokes all day long on and off camera.

“He is a very down-to-earth guy; very heartfelt and faithful but he sure can make you laugh.”

Borden said she can’t say if they won. She said they are excited to see how they will edit the episode “because we were laughing the whole time.” Borden said she is planning a viewing party.

Semi crosses 2 lanes of traffic and clips old Held’s Meat Market

A semi traveling northbound on I41 crossed the median and crashed on the other side of the I system near Sherman Way.  Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said the accident happened just after 10 a.m. on Thursday.  He said the semi driver choked on his soda, lost control of his rig, went through the median, across the southbound lanes of I41, through the ditch and the fencing. The semi clipped the corner of the former Held’s Meat Market building.  The driver suffered minor injuries but was not transported. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. The rig was from Aim Trucking.

Noon Rotary exhibit helps detect drug use

The Noon Rotary Club of West Bend is partnering with Elevate, the Heroin Task Force of Washington County and Moraine Park Technical College to bring forward a program that focuses on educating parents on the critical issue of prescription drug abuse, underage drinking/tobacco consumption and other forms of illegal drug use.

Located at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend, Hidden in Plain Sight is an interactive display of a teenager’s bedroom with many items hidden or in plain view that helps to identify areas where teens may hide drugs, alcohol and other paraphernalia.

It also points out household items that can be used to either cover up drug and alcohol abuse or can be used to facilitate drug and alcohol use. The purpose of the program is to educate family and caregivers about the signs that can be an indicator of drug abuse.

Guided tours of the exhibit bedroom will run Saturday’s from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and on Thursday’s from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. through February 23. It is free to attend and open to everyone 18 and older. The exhibit is located next to the MPTC Library at the West Bend Campus.

New LED sign at Regner Park

Hat tip to the West Bend Noon Rotary as it completed a project donation to the community and Regner Park. A new LED sign is in place on N. Main Street just north of Silverbrook Drive. The programmable sign will highlight events at Regner Park including concerts and events at the Silver Lining Stage.

Fillmore Fire Department Awards night                             Courtesy Bob Bonenfant

The Fillmore Fire Department held its annual awards banquet at the Fillmore Fire Hall.

Chief Jeff Steinert then gave his report of the departments 2016 activity which included 19 fire calls, one structure fire, two vehicle accidents and 35 EMS calls.

A number of members were honored for years of service: Jake Guttman, DJ Neumann and Eric Spaeth received 10 year service certificates, Duane Taylor was recognized for 20 years and Jeff Steinert honored for 25 years of service. Larry Polanske was the recipient of the First Responder of the Year plaque.

Dale Spaeth was honored as Firefighter of the Year and Judy Spaeth was recognized as Social Member of the Year, an award given to an individual who lends a hand in any way to help the department.

Updates & tidbits

The West Bend Kiwanis Early Risers 9th Annual Chili/Soup Cook-off is Saturday, Feb. 4 from 11-2 p.m. at Silverbrook Intermediate School. There are over 25 entries in 4 categories: restaurants, business, First Responders and non-profits. There is a new category this year for First Responders which will be a competition between the West Bend Fire Department and the West Bend Police Department.

-Mary Hafeman, from Missing Links, has been named to U.S. Kids Golf’s annual list of Top 50 Kids Teachers. The Award recognizes the world’s most outstanding youth golf instructors, and Hafeman is part of a select group that earned Top 50 accolades among nearly 350 applicants.

– The Elbe family from Golden “E” Dairy in the Town of Farmington will host the 2017 Washington County Breakfast on the Farm. The dairy is located at the corners of Orchard Valley and Shalom. Advance tickets will be available in April.

Sunday, Feb. 12 the 12th annual Motorcycle Ice Races will be raising money for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Washington County. Races will take place on Wallace Lake with event headquarters at Eddie’s Lake House, 7138 Highway 144 N, West Bend.

-Local Girl Scouts will soon be hitting the streets and offices with their colorful grid of cookie sales including thin mints, shortbread, Thanks-A-Lot and Lemonades. Scouts will be taking orders through the end of February.

– The Washington County Dairy Promotion Committee is looking for volunteers to serve on its board (3-year term). Three positions will be voted on at the Feb. 2 annual meeting. Contact President Bill Hinckley if interested at williamh921@charter.net or 262-365-9734.

– Someone with the West Bend Theatre project will address the common council during its Jan. 23 meeting. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow made clear the council has no say in the project as the building is owned by a private party.

-Paul Eve as Johnny Cash Alive is coming to the West Bend Moose Lodge on Feb. 25. Tickets to dinner and a show are $30. Call and make your reservations at 262-338-8122.

– The gloves will be coming off Feb. 25 at the Washington County Fair Park as Tin Love, Justin Dredd and Damon Knight climb into the ring for Mayhem for Mason. Money will be raised for Mason Holbrook and family.

– Donald and Barron Ryan, a talented father and son piano duo, will take the stage at UW-Washington County on Friday, January 27 to present their brand of classic and contemporary music.

Remembering the old tower fire escape

Today’s 1919 photo, courtesy Steve Kissinger, is posted as a tribute to Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 29 – Feb. 4.

According to the archives in the Research Center at the WCHS, ‘The public grade school was located at the head of Elm Street where it intersects with Eighth Avenue. The view looks northwest and was taken from Eighth Avenue. Notable with this view is the addition of the tower fire escape.  The building was later sold to Holy Angels Catholic Church, which used it as an elementary school. The building no longer exists.’

 

Dick Klumb of West Bend wrote a book in 2001 about the ‘History of Holy Angels.’ “The Public School was constructed in approximately 1888,” said Klumb.

 

“In 1939 after McLane School was built Holy Angels purchased this school from the West Bend School District and it became Holy Angels grade school. An addition to the south side of the school was added in 1950 and in 1963 the original Public School was torn down and the current building was completed.”

 

Roger Strack of Kewaskum was in second grade when he moved to McLane School. He said he didn’t recognize the Public School as much as he did the big merry go round on the north side of the playground and the fire escape. “I remember we’d open the steel door and climb up the slide,” Strack said.

 

Washington County Judge Andrew Gonring said his father, Mike, went to school when it was Holy Angels. “He used to say, a lot of famous fannies slid down that fire escape,” said Gonring. “At the annual Valentine’s Day party at school you could slide down it for two cents.”

 

Corey (Kohl) Wuebben said he “spent some of the happiest years of my life in that building.”  Wuebben said the “old part of the building where the fire escape is pictured was demolished” and is now the site of the food stand and band tent during the annual parish festival.

 

Mary Ann Goeden Hupfer of West Bend went to school at the original Holy Angels in the mid 1940s when Sister Agatha was principal and Rev. Stehling would “teach religious ed and hand out jellybeans.”

 

“I remember the really long cloak room in the sixth grade,” Hupfer said. “It had hooks and we’d all hang our coats and caps in there because we had no lockers.”   Hupfer also remembered marching with music. “When we’d go outside for recess there was an old Victrola in the lobby and we’d march in procession and you wouldn’t talk until you were down the street,” she said.

 

Hupfer also remembered an incident in first grade when she was in Sister Robert’s class. “My friend Marcella broke her crayon in half and we got caught giggling in the back of class. I had to stay after school until 4 o’clock with my finger on my mouth,” laughed Hupfer.

 

Kay Baker Michels was a 1963 graduate of Holy Angels School. “Both my husband, Terry Michels, and I attended this school and I taught at Holy Angels for 26 years as a second grade teacher and librarian.” Michels said the connection with the photo was that it tied into celebrating Catholic Schools Week. “I also remember the old fire escape,” said Michels. “Everyone wanted to be in Sister Hildebrand’s class as you got to take a ride in it each time there was a fire drill.”

 

James Fellenz went to Holy Angels back in the 1950s. “I’ll never forget the fire escape,” Fellenz said. “The janitor took our shoes and we had to walk home bare footed. It was in March; talk about having cold feet.”

 

Doug Jaeger also recalled how “some of us kids used to climb up that outdoor emergency escape chute and slide back down.”

 

Maureen Dick of West Bend was a student at Holy Angels until in 1963. “I was in the eighth grade and that was the first year for the new addition on the north side of the building,” she said. “If I remember correctly the old building wasn’t taken down until the new one was completed.”

 

Dick recalled that was also the beginning of the Holy Angels picnic. “At the first picnic we were allowed go inside and pay to swing a sledge hammer at a wall,” she said referencing the demolition.

 

Some of the teachers connected to Holy Angels included Sister Mary Marks; she ran the candy store in the basement at lunch time. Sister Mary Agatha, Sister Mary Lisetta, Sister Mary Ventura, Sister Mary Hildebrand, Sister Cyril, Ms. Brown, Sister Lillian, Mrs. Rice, Sister Marinella, Sister Mary Floria, and Sister Mary Amabilis.

On a side note: One of the notable talking points was the fire escape. Jim Dricken wrote, “When they took the building down in the mid 1960s, my dad Len Dricken, saved the fire escape to be used as a fun item for kids. The fire escape, named ‘The Tower,’ is still in use at Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground.12

China Strengthens Alliances in SE Asia

As America has intentionally stepped back from exerting her influence in the past several years, other large powers have filled the void.

But there are also two strategic benefits. First, Cambodia uses China as a counterweight to Vietnam. Among ordinary Cambodians, anti-Vietnamese sentiment runs deep. Many bitterly recall the Vietnamese occupation and some demand the return of “Kampuchea Krom”—the delta of the Mekong river, which today is part of Vietnam, but is home to many ethnic Cambodians and was for centuries part of the Khmer Empire. Since Vietnam harboured Mr Hun Sen, the opposition depicts him as a Vietnamese puppet. Closeness to China helps to defuse such claims.

Cambodia also uses China as a hedge against the West. Chinese money comes with no strings attached, unlike most Western donations, which are often linked to the government’s conduct. When Mr Hun Sen mounted a putsch against his coalition partners in the 1990s, Western donors suspended aid. China boosted it. Westerners may threaten to cut funding again if, as is likely, the government rigs elections next year (this week Mr Hun Sen again sued Sam Rainsy, the exiled leader of the main opposition party, for defamation, one of many steps seemingly intended to neuter his opponents). Chinese money will make it much easier for Mr Hun Sen to shrug off Western protests.

As for China, it gets a proxy within the ten-country Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Cambodia has repeatedly blocked ASEAN from making statements that criticise China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, even though they conflict with those of several other ASEAN members. Last year, less than a week after Cambodia endorsed China’s stance that competing maritime claims should be solved bilaterally, China gave Cambodia an aid package worth around $600m. (Mr Hun Sen insists the two were not related.)

It will be interesting to see if Trump’s new foreign policy is more like China’s than not.

Liberals March

Let’s be clear… what is happening today is not a “women’s” march. The cement unifying these people is not their sex, but their ideology.

“They can protest, it’s their right, but don’t call it the ‘Women’s March,’ ” said Ellie Todd, 23, who drove to the inauguration with two friends from Spartanburg, South Carolina. “That makes it sounds like it’s a big unified thing, when really they’re picking very divisive issues and protesting against Trump – who by the way is now our president – instead of for something that would bring us all together. It’s not all women.”

Organizers have insisted that the march isn’t an anti-Trump protest but rather a rallying cry for women’s issues and a range of liberal causes that could be threatened by the Trump administration. The event’s policy platform covers issues such as racial profiling, climate change, abortion and LGBTQ rights. The official website lists 177 partners including Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and Voto Latino.

West Bend School Superintendent Slaps Down Union Propaganda

This is hilarious. The West Bend School Board dipped its toe into Act 10 a few years ago by integrating teacher scorecards into the teacher compensation system. Essentially, it is an effort to tie teacher compensation to teacher performance. The teachers’ union, West Bend Education Association (WBEA), hate tying pay to performance. They prefer the old compensation system where compensation is a factor of getting older and getting more degrees, whether the degree is needed for the job or not.

One of the ways that the union has been attacking the new compensation system is by bemoaning its cost. To that end, last week they released a “cost estimate” for the teacher scorecards that was based on uneducated (ironically) and uninformed guesses. It was comical.

Yesterday, the Superintendent smacked them down. Here is a comparison of their propaganda versus the actual numbers:

testing

Read the superintendent’s full statement at the Washington County Insider.

Funny stuff. I can’t wait to see the union’s response.

Army Took 10 Years to Choose New Sidearm

This is ridiculous.

(CNN)After a long and much-criticized search, the US Army has chosen Sig Sauer to produce its next generation of handgun, eventually replacing the current standard issue sidearm, the Beretta M9 pistol.

“Following a thorough operational test, fielding of the modular handgun is expected to begin in 2017,” the Army said in a statement announcing the decision Thursday.
[…]
“The Army’s effort to buy a new handgun has already taken 10 years and produced nothing but a more than 350-page requirements document micromanaging extremely small unimportant details,” Senate Armed Services committee chairman John McCain wrote in a 2015 report on the program’s problems.
“A decade for a pistol?” Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina asked at the same Mattis confirmation hearing. “They’re relatively simple devices … This is a great testament to what’s wrong with defense acquisition.”
Amen to that. We need to fund a powerful military, but wasting money on bloated processes like this is inexcusable.

Trump Begins Tearing Down Obamacare

True to his word.

The order says Cabinet heads “shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” any provision in the Affordable Care Act that would impose a “cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden.”

The order also directs the agencies to provide relief to the states, which could be a nod toward expanding an Obamacare waiver program that would give states more freedom to implement the health law.

Trump’s Inaugural Address

You can read the transcript here.

Overall, I thought it was a very good speech. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the stances and policies put forth, it was a very clear statement on the foundational principles of Trump’s administration. It was very patriotic, and very populist. It highlighted all of the reasons that Trump won the election that many people, including myself, didn’t see.

The notion of transferring power back to the people was powerful and welcome. Trump’s foreign policy is very clear with America putting her interests first while recognizing that other countries will do the same. While that is the way foreign policy has worked for millennia, it was nice to hear the obvious stated. Clearly, though, the era of naive globalism is over.

Most of all, I was thankful that it was only 19 minutes long. At 1,450 words, it is one of the shorter ones we’ve had in a long time.

Welcome, President Trump. We’re hoping fr good things from your administration.

Former UWO Coach Says There’s More to be Found

This could be the grumbling of a disgruntled former employee, but the allegations paint a picture of rampant illegal mismanagement of funds.

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – A former UW-Oshkosh baseball coach says he wasn’t surprised to hear about a lawsuit filed against two former UW-Oshkosh leaders accused of mishandling funds.

Tom Lechnir says he was let go in May of 2013 after 25 seasons with the school when he raised concerns about the university’s accounting practices.

[…]

He also secured donors who provided financing for Alumni Stadium, which opened in 2007, but he voiced concerns when he says the university diverted some of the funds to support other building projects, like the Oshkosh Sports Complex.

Lechnir said, “When I could not or would not ask them to donate more to give to other places, then obviously they threatened me with my job — and to my surprise he somehow followed through with it and got away with it.”

That sports complex was specifically named in court documents filed this week as one of five projects on which the university spent more than $11 million — funneling those funds through the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.

State law prohibits the use of public funds to support a private organization like the foundation.

“What I’m going to tell you guys is, don’t stop digging, because there’s a whole lot more than what’s out there,” said Lechnir.

President Trump

Today we once again celebrate the peaceful transition of power and wrap the event with the pomp and ceremony it deserves. May God bless our nation and our new president.

Trump Looking at Major Cuts

If Trump could pull this off, he would truly be a transformational president.

The changes they propose are dramatic.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.

Republican State Senator Proposes More Gun Laws

Hmmm

Senators Alberta Darling (R­River Hills) and LaTonya Johnson (D­Milwaukee) and Representatives Joe Sanfelippo (R­New Berlin) and David Bowen (D­Milwaukee) are introducing a bi­partisan bill to help curb gun crimes in the city. Darling says the bill will help take guns out of the hands of criminals who aren’t allowed to have them in the first place.

“This bill gives prosecutors more opportunities to take criminals off the street,” Darling said, “We’ve worked together with local officials for months to find a bipartisan solution that will make Milwaukee safer.”

Senator Darling’s bill will:

  • Prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor on three separate occasions within five years. The criminal penalty would be a Class G felony. (fines up to $25,000, up to 10 years in prison or both)

  • Prohibit an individual from buying a firearm intending to give it to a person who is banned from possessing a firearm. The criminal penalty would be a Class G felony.

  • Prohibit an individual from giving or possessing a firearm for someone who is banned from possessing a firearm. The criminal penalty would be a Class G felony.

  • Add a question to the state notification form about straw purchasers. Lying about being a straw purchaser on the state form would be a Class H felony. (fines up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 6 years or both)

 

At first glance, I like all of these measures. I’d like to see some more details on the first one. For example, if someone is convicted of three misdemeanors for non-violent crimes, multiple non-violent crimes from the same incident (like a car accident), etc., the the bar is not high enough to deny someone their civil right to own a firearm. But if it’s three violent misdemeanor crimes, drug trafficking, etc., then I’m all for it.

Of course, none of this matters if the DA and judges don’t enforce the laws. One of the biggest problems right now is that the DAs routinely bargain down or away gun charges and judges routinely give light sentences for gun crimes that make it into their courtrooms.

Former UWO Chancellor Accused of Illegal Use of Tax Money

Amazing how this can go on for so long and with so much money.

OSHKOSH – Former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells is accused of overseeing the illegal transfer of more than $11 million in university funds to support five Oshkosh-area building projects.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Dane County by the UW System claims Wells and Tom Sonnleitner, retired UWO vice chancellor of administrative services, made illegal financial guarantees between 2010 and 2014 to secure backing for high-profile building projects on and around the Oshkosh campus and later used university funds to support foundation projects, which is prohibited by state law.

[…]

Wells and Sonnleitner are accused of authorizing multiple transfers to the projects between 2010 and 2016. They included $1.46 million for the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center; $2.17 million for Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Oshkosh; $4.14 million for a biodigester in Rosendale that converts waste to energy; $2.33 million for a second biodigester on Witzel Avenue; and $806,000 for the Oshkosh Sports Complex, which includes Titan Stadium, according to the civil complaint.

Sonnleitner also authorized transfers to the foundation that were not tied to a specific projects, one of which occurred a week after he was suspended by the university. Those transfers totaled an additional $344,000, according to the complaint.

In October 2014, Sonnleitner also entered the university into a lease agreement with the foundation that obligated the university to pay $700,000 a year to use the biodigester. The university payments required by the lease were unconstitutional, the lawsuit claims.

That $11 million could have funded a lot of education for students. Also, remember that these same folks were crying poor to the legislature and the public as they were illegally funneling money to private projects.

I would suggest that law enforcement look into who was actually receiving all of this money and who the owners and investors of those companies are. Someone was benefiting from this.

Vos Accepts Reality of Gas Tax Increase

Good. He’s seeing the light.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Wednesday said it’s unlikely that lawmakers will increase the state’s gas tax to help erase a projected $1 billion deficit in funding road projects.

Vos, R-Rochester, and Gov. Scott Walker have been at odds over how to pay for roads, including raising the state’s gas tax.

But at a forum Wednesday, when asked by an audience member if he would raise her gas tax so she could help pay for road fixes, Vos said, “Probably not.” That was a signal that Assembly Republicans would stop calling for Walker to consider the idea.

“If you are a card player, I have a pair of twos, the governor has a straight and I have to draw three of a kind to win. Now it’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on me,” he told an audience at a luncheon hosted by Wispolitics.com.

Washington County Board Extends Sales Tax

Once again, the Washington County Board extends the sales tax that was supposed to be temporary, thus confirming the maxim that “there is no such thing as a temporary tax.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, members of the Executive Committee voted to approve a resolution that extends the 0.5 percent sales tax for qualified items. The resolution was amended such that it would be reviewed every five years. The original allowed the tax to continue indefinitely unless there was a concern.

“It is pretty important,” Administrator Joshua Schoemann said. “It is a significant portion. Well over 10 percent of our total operating budget comes from the sales tax. In addition to that, the sales tax precludes us from having to borrow specifically for road improvements.”

According to the accompanying committee report, a sales tax was adopted in 1998 by County Board supervisors and implemented in 1999. Nearly all products are included in the resolution, but there are exceptions, such as food.

“At that time, it was primarily about Fair Park,” Schoemann said. “When they developed Fair Park, that is the revenue source they used to pay off the debt.”

Yes, it is very convenient for Washington County Government to have more money. How nice for them /sarcasm.

The newspaper soft sells it, but for those who don’t know the history… the county had a few major and “urgent” capital projects for which they did not have the money. To address this, they enacted the county’s first sales tax. The tax was supposed to be implemented until those specific projects were paid off, and then sunset. Instead of doing that, when those projects were done, the County Board just decided to keep the tax going and use the money to pay for whatever they want.

Never. Ever. EVER trust a politician who tells you that a tax will just be a temporary measure to cover emergency expenditures.

Wisconsin Projects Surplus

It’s still just a projection, but it’s positive news as the legislature considers the next budget. Since there’s “extra” money, the taxpayers can expect a refund, right?

Wisconsin’s biennial budget picture got $714 million brighter Wednesday, with a projected deficit turning into a small surplus, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Fiscal bureau director Bob Lang reported tax revenues are expected to be $455 million higher than what the Department of Administration projected in November. Also, spending in the current fiscal year that ends June 30 is expected to be $226 million lower — largely due to lower-than-expected Medicaid enrollment — and other revenues are expected to be $33 million higher.

That turns what was thought to be a $693 million deficit for the upcoming budget into a $21 million surplus, including all departmental budget requests.

It also adds more cushion to the state’s bottom line as it closes out the 2015-2017 budget cycle. Previously the net balance was about $40 million. The latest estimate has the state closing out the year with a $362.2 million ending balance.

Obama Forgives a Traitor

Help me understand this… Obama rattles his war saber at Russia over information they allegedly gave to Wikileaks about the Democratic Party, but he forgives a traitor who released classified military information to Wikileaks? I agree with this:

Manning isn’t a woman in need of rescue. He’s a soldier who committed serious crimes. He wasn’t a “whistleblower,” as many of his defenders claim. He just dumped hundreds of thousands of classified documents into the public domain for the purposes of “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms” without the slightest regard for the lives of others. There is no excuse. Manning is a traitor who pled guilty to a lesser offense to avoid the full penalty for his crimes. He has received too much mercy already. Obama’s commutation of his sentence is a disgrace.