Terror Attack in New York

These kind of IS-inspired attacks have become the normal.

A man is being held after an attempted terror attack at New York City’s main bus terminal, officials say.

“Terrorists won’t win,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after a blast at the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan during the morning rush hour on Monday.

The suspect, named as Akayed Ullah, 27, was wounded when a “low-tech explosive device” strapped to his body blew up in an underpass, officials say.

“President Maduro insists the Venezuelan system is entirely trustworthy.”

Uh huh.

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, says the country’s main opposition parties are banned from taking part in next year’s presidential election.

He said only parties which took part in Sunday’s mayoral polls would be able to contest the presidency.

Leaders from the Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action parties boycotted the vote and said the electoral system is biased.

President Maduro insists the Venezuelan system is entirely trustworthy.

“It makes me infuriated.”

I feel the same way every time the government increases my taxes too.

“I took a risk” to enter graduate school, Tischauser said. “Now they want to take more money out of the measly salary I take home. It makes me infuriated.”

But liberals call me selfish when I want to keep more of the money I earn instead of surrendering it in taxes.

Dad 1. Goblin 0.

I feel bad for the dad being forced to take a life, but I’m sure glad that he had the means and state of mind to do so.

Officers told Fox San Antonia that 19-year-old Andrews Herrera was killed after he approached Carlos Molina, 32, just before 9 p.m. Wednesday. Molina was eating at the fried chicken chain with his family when Herrera demanded that he hand over his property and threatened his children with a gun, police say.

According to the news site, Molina told Herrera that he had no money and asked whether his family could leave. Most of the family left the restaurant, but Herrera then pointed the gun at two of Molina’s children as they walked out of a restroom. In response, Molina drew his licensed handgun and shot Herrera several times, fatally wounding him, police said.

Doe Judge to Step Down Because of Bias

Remember. He’s not stepping down because he’s biased. He’s stepping down because he was caught being biased.

MADISON – The John Doe judge overseeing possible contempt proceedings of nine state officials withdrew from the case Friday because he had posted comments about the case on Twitter before he was assigned the case this spring.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge William Hue said he had forgotten about the posts until the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked him about them on Thursday. He said Friday he was disappointed to be losing an interesting case but thought he needed to step aside so no one questioned whether the judge hearing the case was impartial.

“I don’t want to be the focus of any attention here,” Hue said.

IS Pushed Completely Out of Iraq

Good news!

(CNN)The Iraqi military has “fully liberated” all of Iraq’s territory of “ISIS terrorist gangs” and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border, it said Saturday in a statement.

“Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on his Twitter account. “We defeated Daesh (ISIS) through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

A prank from heaven… courtesy Bob Gannon

West Bend business owner Jacci Gambucci shared a story during Sunrise Rotary about a recent incident at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

During the security check Gambucci was pulled aside by TSA. Several other TSA arrived, talked in hushed voices, and then turned her over to the Milwaukee County Sheriff.  Gambucci thought she got busted for a pocketknife until the Sheriff told her otherwise. “It looks like you have ammunition in your purse,” said the Sheriff’s deputy.

“But I don’t even own a gun,” said Gambucci. Then it hit her. “It’s Bob!”…as in former state Assembly Rep. Bob Gannon.

A bit of the back story: Following Gannon’s untimely death, his remains were cremated and his wife Kris filled spent bullets with his ashes. Gannon was a big advocate of gun rights and this way his friends could have a piece of Bob to remember him by.

Gambucci received one of the bullets at a Rotary meeting, dropped it in her purse, and there it stayed.  “I could just hear Bob’s big laugh in my head,” said Gambucci. “He would love how ridiculous this situation was and the trouble he caused. It seemed like a prank from heaven.” The Sheriff eventually told Gambucci she could have “Bob” back since the TSA agents believed her story.

“Who could possibly make that up,” she said.

The next conundrum was what to do with Bob since she had to fly back from Atlanta the next day. Throwing the bullet away was not an option, out of respect, but Gambucci told the story at a business dinner that night and a client thought it was great and offered to keep Bob on her desk.

Since Bob loved publicity Gambucci thought it was a great idea, so as soon as she got back to the hotel she sent links that were “All about Bob” so the bullets new owner would have the appropriate back story of who Bob was.

Another Rotary member offered Gambucci his bullet, but she refused for the time being.  “I am flying to Florida for the Orange Bowl and don’t want to risk a repeat,” she said.

Neighbor in Town of Addison calls Washington Co. Sheriff about wolf in his yard

Washington County Sheriff’s got a call Saturday morning about a wolf in a field on William Tell Drive in the Town of Addison. “The homeowner said they thought they saw a wolf,” said Deputy Brian Herbst.  “It was out in the farm field behind their house; it was just lying in the field.”

Deputy Herbst and the homeowner approached it and got within 75 yards and the animal ran off. After it got about 100 yards away it turned around and laid down again.

“We stood and watched a bit, my sergeant came out and said ‘Yup… looks like a wolf.’ We approached it to make sure it wasn’t hurt and it moved away again and then it laid down,” Herbst said.

The homeowner said he had seen a wolf before in his field, about a year or two prior. Herbst said he too had seen wolf but “never down this far.” Herbst contacted the DNR but all of them were busy that morning.

Warden Joe Jerich did follow up and talked to the Deputy on scene. “I asked if he could approach the animal to see if it was injured and then it ran off,” said Jerich.  “We want to give him a chance to survive if he can and if it was injured we’ve have to make a decision how to handle it.”

Currently nobody from the DNR has seen the wolf. Both Deputy Herbst and the land owner said it was much larger than a coyote, even if it would have been a coyote with its fur primed out.

“Wolves could show up in this county but it’s highly unlikely,” said Jerich.  “Their range is generally to the north but coyotes are really common in this county and when their fur is primed out in this weather they look a lot bigger.

Deputy Herbst said the homeowner found wolf scat in his yard. “I haven’t had any other calls,” said Jerich. “We’ll have to see if it turns up again.”

UW-WC Ambassadors and Foundation Board honors Jeff Szukalski

Jeff Szukalski, owner of Jeff’s Spirits on Main, was honored by the UW-Washington County Ambassadors and the UW-WC Foundation Board for his generosity to UW-WC.

In presenting the gift, Joan Rudnitzki, thanked Jeff for his support and many kindnesses. “It was a great honor,” said Szukalski. “This is a great college and foundation and they do great things for the community and the kids. I’m happy to support the college.”

Szukalski said his love of the community is what prompts him to give back. “It’s just a great place to be and a great place to grow up and connect with friends,” said Szukalski. “Being involved is just the right thing to do.” The presentation was made during the annual holiday get together for faculty and staff at UW-WC sponsored by the Ambassador Council with support from the Schlegel Foundation.

West Bend listed in 30 Best Small Cities

We’re number 24! We’re number 24! Travelalot.com has come out with a list of the top 30 best small cities in the United States and the city of West Bend is listed No. 24.

The qualifications for the ranking reads: “Big, crowded cities don’t have a monopoly on cultural offerings. If you’re looking to visit (or move to) a place that flows to a slower pace and has a lower cost of living, these towns under 100,000 residents still have plenty to cool things to do.”

The copy reads: “Riverfront Parkway lines the Milwaukee River in sections just north of the downtown area and the path is dotted with sculptures. On the other side of the river the Eisenbahn State Trail stretches north and south for a total of 25 miles. Those aren’t bad offerings for a southeastern Wisconsin town about an hour outside of a major economic center.”

On Facebook neighbors chimed in on what they thought made West Bend one of the TOP best small cities in the U.S. Some of the answers included the Downtown West Bend Farmers’ Market, locally-owned restaurants, MOWA, and the Kettle Moraine Symphony.

Deer Management committee outlines plan to hunt in parks

The Deer Management Committee met for the first time Tuesday night at City Hall in West Bend to outline some of the parameters in its Urban Deer Management Plan.

Members of the committee included Dist. 1 alderman John Butschlick, Paul Schleif, Chris Dymale, Larry Polenski, Joanne Kline, Duane Farrand, Michael Jentsch and Dist. 2 alderman Steve Hutchins.

In November the West Bend Common Council approved a resolution to allow hunting in two city parks under strict rules that must still be approved by Council. The hunting measure is designed to help manage the deer herd in the city.

The resolution detailed several suggestions and the Deer Management Committee addressed a 14-page packet of guidelines. Only adult bow hunters who pass a proficiency test would be allowed to hunt during a four day time span in January 2018. The only parks where this will be allowed as a test is Lac Lawrann Conservancy and Ridge Run Park. The parks will be closed during the four-day hunt, January 10-14, 2018. Written exam and proficiency test/shooting test as established by the committee. Hunters will only get one shot at a proficiency test. Individual must score 100% on Bow hunter Exam.  Fees will be set yearly with City Council

Some of the issues the committee addressed several times was that safety will be a top priority, this will be a lottery system and six people will receive permits. The participants must stay in their assigned zones. The guidelines drafted by the Deer Management Committee must still be approved by the Common Council. That review will most likely occur at the Dec. 18 meeting.

Albrecht Free Clinic unveils $50,000 matching grants

A big announcement from the Albrecht Free Clinic, 908 W. Washington Street in West Bend, as it unveils $50,000 matching grants from Aurora Health Care and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

According to Ruth Henkle, executive director with the Albrecht Free Clinic, Froedtert and Aurora, have agreed to underwrite a challenge grant as each will provide a $50,000 match.

“As a result, each dollar raised will result in three dollars in funding for our community healthcare services,” said Henkle. “If the rest of us rise to the challenge and contribute $50,000, we’ll generate $150,000 more to continue and expand our mission.”

The Albrecht Free Clinic provides access to basic, quality medical care through the generosity, caring and compassion of volunteers and donors.

Neighbors will receive a mailing from the clinic this weekend that details its medical, dental and behavioral health services and how it has seen a 46 percent increase this past year.

Over $86,000 was recently raised during a matching campaign with the Thomas J. Rolfs Family Foundation.

Carrie Killoran, executive vice president – central region, Aurora Health Care said Aurora Medical Center in Washington County has a long-standing relationship with the Albrecht Free Clinic.

“Aurora Medical Center remains committed through volunteerism and service delivery,” wrote Killoran. “We are especially proud to be a part of this very important initiative to help secure the future of the Albrecht Free Clinic so that they can continue to serve those in need.  Their work aligns perfectly with Aurora’s purpose to help each other live well.”

Henkle said the organization would not be able to exist without the support from both Aurora and Froedtert.

“The majority of our volunteer medical providers come to us from both healthcare systems,” she said. “In addition, they support the care of our patients through a voucher program so our patients can receive labs, X-rays and specialty care they need that we do not provide at our clinic.

“We also send our patients to their pharmacies for medications.  There are many additional things both systems do to support our operation. We have a wonderful partnership with Aurora and Froedtert and they truly value us as a safety net for the uninsured medical population living at 200 percent or below the federal poverty level.”

Donations can be made between now and January 31, 2018 to take advantage of the opportunity to triple your impact by participating in the Aurora/Froedtert challenge grant.

Candidate forum for 58th Assembly District is Wednesday, Dec. 13

There is a special primary election Dec. 19 as four Republicans are running to advance to the special election Jan. 26, 2018 to fill the vacant seat in the 58th Assembly District.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13 Common Sense Citizens of Washington County will host a candidate forum at the West Bend Moose Lodge at 7 p.m.  Candidates include: Tiffany Koehler, Spencer Zimmerman, Rick Gundrum, and Steve Stanek.

Candidates will introduce themselves and then all four will be asked the same questions.

Candidates will be encouraged to stay after the forum to greet the audience and answer individual questions.

In-person absentee voting is already underway. It will run until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15.

The 58th Assembly District includes the communities of Slinger, Jackson, Town of Polk, parts of Richfield, Town of Trenton and West Bend.

The seat in the 58th became vacant following the unexpected death of Rep. Bob Gannon. His term expires January 7, 2019.

West Bend School Board has two open seats

As of Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, no one has filed for candidacy or non-candidacy for two open positions on the West Bend School Board according to Deb Roensch, executive assistant to the Superintendent in the West Bend School District. The deadline for filing for candidacy is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at the Education Service Center.  The deadline for incumbents to file notification of non-candidacy is Friday, Dec. 22 by 5 p.m.

Rezoning West Bend Brewery property

This week the West Bend Plan Commission voted to rezone land on N. Main Street that includes the old West Bend Brewery building along with the strip of other properties to the north.

Bob Bach from P2 Development is planning on razing the buildings for a 99 unit, three-story apartment building. Local businesses that would be affected include RT’s Speed Shop, Ray’s Shoes, Pruett’s Floor Covering, Casa Guadalupe and the cleaning-supply shop on the far north end.  The rezoning would affect 2.65 acres of land 445-485 N. Main Street. The zoning was changed from General Business and Warehouse to Mixed Use District.

Washington Co. Parks stickers on sale

Beginning January 1, 2018 visitors to Washington County parks listed below will need to purchase a $5 daily pass or $30 annual sticker. Parks include Ackerman’s Grove County Park,

Glacier Hills County Park, Heritage Trails County Park, Homestead Hollow Park, Leonard J. Yahr County Park, and Sandy Knoll County Park. Park visitors will have three methods of payment and have up to seven days from the date of their visit to pay, much like a highway toll system. Each of the parks listed above will have an entrance station where park visitors will be required to take a pass form unless they already have an annual sticker, have pre-paid, have an event code, or are attending a soccer game. Annual stickers are on sale now. For more information and a complete list of pricing call the Washington County Planning & Parks Office at 262-335-4445 or visit washcoparks.com

Updates & tidbits

-Join the Festge family as it hosts a Grand Opening Celebration at Rally Time Sports Bar & Grill, 1373 N. Main Street. The celebration runs 11 a.m. – close.

-To honor Mother Cabrini and the 100th Anniversary of her death, St. Frances Cabrini is collecting items for the Albrecht Free Clinic whose mission is, “To serve individuals in Washington County who are underinsured, uninsured and otherwise unable to afford medical services.” St. Frances Cabrini Month of Charity runs until Dec. 22.

  Bob’s Main Street Auto and Towing is collecting toys and money for Family Promise of Washington County’s Christmas Event. This event will help give local, needy children the Christmas they deserve. With a donation the shop is giving a free tire rotation or a set of free wiper blades (max $32 value) with any service. If you are looking to donate toys or help contribute feel free to stop by either of their locations or give a call at 262-338-3670.

-The Kettle Moraine Ice Center is hosting Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Tickets are $8 and include all-you-can-eat pancakes plus a public skate voucher for the 2017-18 season. Children 3 years old and younger eat free.  There will be photos with Santa and letters to Santa will be collected.

 -Help is available to families in Washington County that need assistance with winter heating bills. Contact Kay Lucas with the Washington County Human Services Department which oversees the Energy Assistance Program. The number is 262-335-4677.

-Winter on Main in downtown West Bend will be held the next two Fridays in the Downtown West Bend business district. Shop local DIVA businesses, dine at your favorite restaurant and explore Historic Downtown West Bend from 5 p.m. 7 p.m.

-The Kettle Moraine EAA Chapter 1158 Breakfast with Santa is Saturday, Dec. 9 at West Bend Municipal Airport, 310 Aerial Drive. Come have breakfast and watch Santa arrive in a helicopter. Breakfast is 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.  No cost to see Santa. $6 per person for breakfast, children under 4 eat free.

-The Annual Hartford Historical Home Tours is Saturday, Dec. 9 from noon – 3 p.m. Four Historical Homes featured including: George Kissel Home – 215 E. Sumner Street, Charles Uber Home – 505 E. Sumner Street, Louis Kissel Home – 407 East Sumner Street and Adolph Laubenstein Home – 203 Church Street. $15 per person and tickets available through The Schauer Arts Center

Grad Students Whine About Real World Taxes

Yep.

Li, like other UW-Madison grad students, makes $18,000 per year. But under the bill, different versions of which passed the House and the Senate, she’d be taxed as if she makes roughly $50,000.

This is because her tuition, which is fully funded, would be taxed as if it was additional income under the bill. It’s a policy change that would dramatically affect “what type of person can go to grad school,” according to Don Moynihan, the director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs.

“When you’re a graduate student, you get paid a small amount of money … but you get the benefit that your tuition is paid,” Moynihan said, speaking as part of a panel alongside Li. “[If the provision becomes law], only the fairly wealthy will be able to afford to take this on.”

Li’s story echoes those of many graduate students around the country who have come out in opposition to the controversial tax. Li acknowledged that although her ability to pay for graduate school would be jeopardized under the bill, her classmates who have spouses and families would be even more affected.

Um, no… she won’t be “taxed as if she makes roughly $50,000.” She does make roughly $50,000 and will be taxed accordingly. The fact that over half of her income is paid in the form of tuition relief is immaterial. She is receiving something of value in exchange for her work. That is compensation. Here’s a handy definition:

(a) The term compensation means any form of payment made to an individual for services rendered as an employee for anemployerservices performed as an employee representative; and any separation or subsistence allowance paid under any benefit schedule provided in conformance with title VII of the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 and any termination allowance paid under section 702 of that ActCompensation may be paid as money, a commodity, a service or a privilege.

So what these graduate students are complaining about is the fact that they have been receiving tax-free compensation for years and now it might be taxed like everyone else’s compensation. Boo hoo.

Digging Deeper in the DOJ Report

Allow me to excerpt some of the more damning finds in the report of the investigation of the GAB and the John Doe investigation:

Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information.

“Weaponization” is the right word. They were acting as a weapon of the Democratic Party and liberal establishment.

The prosecution team obtained additional “wide-ranging subpoenas and search warrants for 29 organizations and individuals, seeking millions of documents that had been created over a period of several years.” Two Unnamed Petitioners, 363 Wis. 2d 1, ¶ 2. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, referring to these additional subpoenas and warrants issued in October 2013, stated that the “breadth of the documents gathered pursuant to subpoenas and seized pursuant to search warrants is amazing.” Id. ¶ 29. The items seized included “business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while [the] targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.” Id. These documents included “virtually every document possessed by the [targets] relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span (from 2009 to 2013).”

Everything. This is truly a sweep where government officials seized everything they could for the purpose of sifting through it and using it for whatever political or legal purpose they wanted. And they forced their targets into submissive secrecy – not even allowed to engage legal counsel. 4th Amendment be damned.

The information was duplicated, placed on portable drives, and distributed to various staff members at GAB for examination. Shockingly, despite the sensitivity of the information collected and the fact that the investigation targeted Governor Walker, there was no log kept of what was received by GAB staff, how many copies were made, to whom these records were given, or where these records were stored after the John Doe II investigation was closed.

That was on purpose. These are lawyers and they knew that if they were ever busted, they could blame sloppy record keeping and there is enough reasonable doubt to avoid being convicted. They were right.

The John Doe II core prosecution team included the special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, Milwaukee ADAs David Robles and Bruce Landgraf, Milwaukee DA investigator Robert Stelter, GAB attorneys Shane Falk, Kevin Kennedy, Jonathan Becker, and Nathan Judnic, GAB contracted investigators Doug Haag and Dean Nickel, and GAB staff employee Molly Nagappala. Then-GAB Staff Counsel Mike Haas was involved with reviewing and editing court filings. GAB board members at the time were Judges David Deininger, Gordon Myse, Michael J. Brennan, Thomas Barland, Thomas Cane, and Gerald Nichol. GAB Board members and DA Chisholm were kept advised of the investigation and reviewed documents that had been filed with the court, but neither the GAB Board nor DA Chisholm had possession of or access to the majority of John Doe II documents that were leaked to The Guardian

Remember those names. These are the zealots who used their official power to terrorize citizens and hunt their political opponents. All of them have lost the right to be considered anything other than unscrupulous ideologues.

Sometime in 2013, the core prosecution team decided to communicate with each other through Gmail accounts rather than use the secure Department of Administration email system.

[…]

The core prosecution team also decided that it would exchange documents, including several of the documents later leaked to The Guardian, with all members of the prosecution team via a cloud-based “Dropbox” account.

Again… to hide their illegal and unethical activity.

In sum, the leaked court filings show a specific intent to try to influence the United States Supreme Court as it was considering the pending petition for writ of certiorari in September 2016 by responding to particular parts of the opinion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Two Unnamed Petitioners. These leaked documents also indicate that the leaker has a sophisticated legal knowledge of the case and was motivated to try to influence the United States Supreme Court.

In other words, the illegal leaker was not just some schlub who wandered into the unsecure office and pilfered a few documents. The leaker knew what he or she was doing. It was one (or more than one) of the names above.

On the other hand, based on the evidence collected, DOJ assesses with reasonable certainty that the hard drive of Shane Falk is the only place where all of the leaked documents—court filings as well as Relativity emails—were located. Yet despite executing a search warrant at the offices of the former GAB and conducting numerous witness interviews, no one could account for Falk’s missing hard drive, which remains missing and unaccounted for to this day.

Someone is hiding the evidence. I’m sure that the hard drive is at the bottom of Lake Mendota.

Two weeks later, on January 27, 2014, at 9:55 a.m., Judge Peterson issued an order stating, “Property seized pursuant to search warrants shall not be examined by the State.” At 1:20 p.m. that same day, Shane Falk ordered Molly Nagappala to prepare a “data compilation” of donations to and from Wisconsin Club For Growth. Nagappala completed this task by reviewing “bank statements” seized as evidence in the John Doe II. This was in direct violation of the court order received by Falk just hours earlier.

Again, on February 6, Falk directed Naggappala to go into Relativity and print off emails seized from search warrants: “Periodically, you sent us some emails. Can you print out everything that you pulled out of Relativity and previously sent us? Then give a copy to Nate and one to me. Pretty please?” Again, this was in direct violation of Judge Peterson’s order.

Schmitz did not order Falk to stand down in light of Judge Peterson’s order. Instead, Schmitz responded that same day, stating, “I called Matt and he told me that Relativity is still up until the end of the month for now. So we should be able to access the information contained therein.” Relativity contained emails seized pursuant to search warrants, exactly the type of evidence that Judge Peterson ordered the prosecution team not to review.

In response to Schmitz’s permission, and despite the January 27 order, on February 13, 2014, Shane Falk directed Molly Nagappala to log into Relativity and download emails seized pursuant to search warrants:

These hacks were so brazen that they completely ignored the judges order. They considered themselves above the law. They were pulling the information out before the court took it away from them. One can only assume that all of this personal information about individual Republicans and conservatives is hidden away somewhere to be used by liberals at some future point.

One of their targets was State Senator Leah Vukmir, who is running for the U.S. Senate. If she wins the Republican nomination and is challenging Senator Baldwin next year, I guarantee than some salacious faux scandal will find its way into the campaign that has roots in this archive.

Buerger also notified DOJ of a file on their system entitled “Badger Doe.” DCI agents copied this drive, which comprised 1.318 GB of data, including 637 separate files in 31 folders. The Badger Doe drive, like the boxes of physical files and Gmail accounts, similarly included information, evidence, documents, and data derived from the John Doe II investigation, and remained in Ethics’ possession despite the December 12, 2015, order of the Supreme Court. Again, no explanation was provided by any member of the former GAB or any attorney involved in this investigation as to how or why this evidence remained in the custody of anyone other than the Supreme Court following its December 12, 2015, order.

AFTER the court had ordered all of the John Doe documents surrendered, the DOJ found thousands of other documents, Gmail accounts, digital files, etc. that were not surrendered. It appears that the miscreants were just making copies and scattering all of this stuff around. The report goes on for pages about them finding additional caches of files that were never turned over as ordered by the court.

It appears that prosecutors believed that Wisconsin Republicans were “coordinating” expenditures or campaigning on state time during the 2010 election and the subsequent 2012 recall election, and so prosecutors and the former GAB staff simply shared whatever evidence they could obtain related to Republican campaigning and fundraising. DOJ was not able to discern any limit into this investigation.

Of course, no charges were ever filed resulting from John Doe III, but the nature and scope of this investigation was exceedingly broad and, until now, unknown to the public.

Wisconsin’s unique John Doe law is supposed to be very defined. In exchange for extraordinary investigatory powers, investigators using a John Doe process are supposed to have a pre-defined scope that is overseen by a judge. In this case, the investigators were just using the John Doe process as a free-for-all to collect information on Republicans.

In the “Falk boxes,” three hard drives in particular contained nearly 500,000 unique emails (from Yahoo and Gmail accounts, for example) and other documents (email attachments, for example) totaling millions of pages. The hard drives included transcripts of Google Chat logs between several individuals, most of which were purely personal (and sometimes very private) conversations. GAB placed a large portion of these emails into several folders entitled, “Opposition Research” or “Senate Opposition Research.” DOJ has been unable to determine who labeled these emails as “Opposition Research,” what the purpose of this label was, or how these emails were to be used in the future. However, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponizing of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive why GAB needed any information from GoDaddy.com related to former Republican Senate Leadership Association Chairman Ed Gillespie or why staff attorneys wanted information held by Google for Leonard Leo, Executive Director of the Federalist Society.

As far as DOJ has been able to determine from reviewing the hard drives in the “Falk boxes,” John Doe III investigators obtained the complete personal email accounts (in some cases multiple accounts per person), chat and messenger logs, – 65 – contact lists, IP login information, and similar information from other cloud-based accounts (such as Box.net) of the following individuals:

As you can see, there is no investigatory or evidentiary value for all of this personal data they collected. You can see their intent by the fact they they stored it in a box labeled “OPPOSITION RESEARCH!” This is information intended to make a political hit.

As would be expected in most personal email accounts, many of the conversations were private and personal. DOJ investigators were unable to determine why GAB investigators obtained, reviewed, categorized, labeled, and organized private emails of Republican political operatives, state employees, and other related individuals.

The breadth of information and communications contained in the “Falk boxes,” apparently as the result of the John Doe III investigation into Wisconsin Republicans, was breathtaking. Just to illustrate this point, the investigators obtained, categorized, and maintained over 150 personal emails between Senator Leah Vukmir and her daughter, including emails containing private medical information and other highly personal information. DOJ was unable to determine why investigators ever – 67 – obtained, let alone saved and labeled, over 150 very private and very personal emails between a Senator and her child, or why investigators placed those emails in a folder named “Opposition Research.”

The Senator’s emails are just one example of tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of very personal emails located in the “Falk boxes.”

It goes on… I highly encourage you to read the report in its entirety. This is what a fascist government looks like. It was right here in Wisconsin. And some of the people who were involved with this are still sitting in government jobs and are still allowed to practice law in our state.

Three things need to happen:

  1. The individuals involved need to be held accountable to the full extent possible including stripping law licenses, holding in contempt of court, removing them from government offices, and anything else legal and appropriate.
  2. We must dispense with the notion that any government body should be “independent.” Visibility and oversight are the best protections against tyranny – not fantasies of “non-partisanship.”
  3. Wisconsin must do away with the John Doe law. It is a process too ripe for abuse. 49 other states manage to prosecute criminals without it and this investigation shows why we must ensure that investigators and prosecutors are forced to respect our civil liberties ad Constitutional protections.

 

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin DOJ Confirms that GAB Was Rogue Partisan Board

The findings of this report are absolutely stunning and reveal the inner workings of a government agency using its power against political opponents.

This is what fascism looks like

More to come.

DOL Proposes Rule Change Regarding Tips

Huh.

Published on the Federal Register on Tuesday, the new rule would rescind a regulation enacted during the Obama administration that mandates employers distribute tips to their tipped employees. Under the new rule, restaurants would be able to pool tips from servers and share them with untipped employees like dishwashers.

Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy institute (EPI), points to research that shows illegal wage theft exceeds $15 billion every year. “It seems obvious that when employers can legally pocket the tips earned by their employees, many will do so,” she said.

The DOL argues that tip pooling helps reward those who don’t normally get tips. Groups like the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association assert that this rule“would help decrease wage disparities between front-of-house and back-of-house employees.”

But labor advocates say the likely outcome would be employers pocketing those tips.

I’ll admit that I did not know that tip pooling was illegal. I see it occasionally when I’m out and about and it seems like a rather sensible practice in some cases. Take a car wash where they have people vacuum and dry your car… there are often several people who touch your car and you want to tip them all. But usually the customer only comes into contact with the first and last person. Tip pooling makes sense to make sure that all of the workers are tipped for delivering good service.

While I understand the worry about employers pocketing tips instead of distributing them, it seems to me that it’s a marginal risk. First, it is illegal and I’m certain that disgruntled employees who are getting screwed would have no problem reporting it – as they should. Even under the proposed rule, the employer can collect the tips to redistribute them, but they can’t keep the tips for themselves. It might be difficult to prove theft for cash tips, but in the age of ubiquitous cameras and credit cards, it wouldn’t be that hard to bust an employer who is stealing tips.

Second, if an employer steals their employees tips, they will have a very difficult time keeping employees. The costs for the employer would far outweigh whatever few bucks they get from stealing tips. Employees will quit and new ones have to be recruited and trained. Disgruntled employees will provide poor service and might take it into their own hands to steal back their lost tips. Etc. Only a stupid employer would steal their employees’ tips. I’m sure it happens, but stupid employers don’t generally stay employers for long.

The fears expressed regarding the proposed rule change seem overstated.

Trump to Move Israeli Embassy to Capital

In compliance with U.S. law… The whole point of an embassy is to be near the seat of government of the other nation. It wouldn’t make sense for the Israelis to have their embassy in St. Louis.

(CNN)President Donald Trump outlined his intentions to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in a call with President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday according to Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

The Palestinians said that Abbas warned Trump in the call against the dangers of such a step and added that he would continue reaching out to world leaders to prevent it from happening. Neither the White House nor the Palestinians offered details on the timing of an embassy move, which previous administrations have delayed indefinitely.
Despite strong pushback from US allies and concerns about the safety of US military and diplomatic personnel in the region, Trump is insisting that he fulfill campaign promises about Jerusalem.
Previous US presidents have pledged to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, in accordance with US law, but have used waivers to delay the shift in recognition of the thorny problems such a move would create.

House, Senate need to find compromises on tax reform

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

After a heated debate in the U.S. Senate where Wisconsin’s Senator Ron Johnson mounted a spirited effort to make the final bill more conservative, all but one Republican senator passed the most comprehensive and significant tax reform bill in decades. Now begins the process of reconciliation where the legislators will attempt to merge the tax reform bill already passed by the House of Representatives with that of the Senate to create a final bill. This will prove to be an arduous task as the House and Senate versions are considerably different.

Before delving into some of the details of the tax bills, two things must be remembered. First, there is a reason that our federal tax code is as large, complicated, and incomprehensible as it is. Behind every deduction, provision, exemption, rate, bracket, and classification is a person or group who benefits. Because of that, any attempt to change any of the tax code’s complexity will be met with passionate opposition by the person or group impacted by the change. Americans like to say that they want a simple tax code, but line up in opposition whenever their special interest is touched.

Second, as the next few weeks are filled with detailed debates over arcane tax policy items and the opponents engage in the predictable histrionics, we must not lose sight of the goal. The purpose of tax reform is to stimulate economic growth by allowing Americans and their businesses to keep more of their money to spend as they see fit. It is a fundamental faith in the fact that hundreds of millions of Americans will make better decisions about how to use their money than a few hundred politicians in Washington.

The one major thing that both the House and Senate bills have in common is reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. If that was all the Congress did, it would be a tremendous boon to the American economy. Right now, the U.S. has the fourth highest corporate income tax rate among 202 jurisdictions surveyed by the Tax Foundation in 2017. Only the UAE, Comoros, and Puerto Rico have higher rates.

But rates are misleading. The actual tax rates that U.S. corporations pay are much lower because they have armies of lawyers and accountants who know how to exploit all of those loopholes baked into the complicated code. Large multinational corporations also avoid America taxes by keeping all of the profits they can overseas outside the reach of the IRS.

By lowering the corporate tax rate and repealing many of the loopholes, American corporations find it more advantageous to bring their profits back to the U.S. and invest. Whether they spend their tax savings on dividendsto owners, employee compensation, capital investments, innovation, or all of the above, it is more money pumping into the American economy.

The rest of the two tax bills have less in common and will have to be reconciled. The self-imposed convoluted rules in the Senate forced some unnatural items into their bill. For example, the House bill sets a straight 25 percent tax rate for business profits that are passed through to individuals in LLCs, sole proprietorships, and other pass through business entities. The Senate tried to cut this tax, after Senator Johnson forced the issue, by slightly reducing the rate, but allowing the business owners to exempt the first 23 percent of business profits.

On individual taxes, the House bill reduces the current seven tax brackets to four and cuts the rates. The Senate bill reduces some individual tax rates, but keeps all seven brackets and the rates will return to their current levels in 2025. In exchange for reducing the rates, the House bill reduces the amount of mortgage interest that individuals can deduct while the Senate bill leaves this unchanged. Both the House and Senate bills increase the Child Tax Credit, but to different amounts.

On the death tax, the House bill repeals it. The Senate bill merely increases the threshold at which it is applied. I have never understood how it is good public policy or moral for the government to confiscate the lifetime earnings of Americans just because they had the temerity to die.

Perhaps the starkest difference between the two bills is that the Senate repealed Obamacare’s mandate that levies a tax penalty if Americans do not buy health insurance. The House bill does not address this at all. Many House Republicans will surely agree to revisit part of the Obamacare repeal debate.

Overall, the House bill does a better job of simplifying the tax code and reducing taxes than the Senate bill, but the Senate bill is tolerable as it is written. Neither bill is as clean and cohesive as it could have been. Such is the art of compromise. I hope the final compromise bill can be agreed upon and passed into law soon so that all Americans can benefit.

Racine Politicians Insert Useless, Unenforcable Mandate into Foxconn Deal

At least they can feel good about themselves, I guess.

Embedded in the development agreement is a Good Faith Hiring and Contracting Efforts clause, which states: “Developer agrees to exercise good faith in striving to hire, retain and contract, whenever reasonably possible, with qualified individuals and businesses residing and/or based in the County as well as veterans and minority-owned businesses.”

I went ahead and put in bold the ambiguous words and phrases that make this clause completely meaningless. Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that it is unenforcable, but it’s fun to highlight the useless pandering of politicians.

Germantown Police Arrest Milwaukee Crooks

Good.

Dec. 4, 2017 – Germantown, WI On Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 at approximately 6 p.m. the Germantown Police Department took a report of a theft in progress at Walmart, W190 N9855 Appleton Ave.

Germantown  Police Officers located the suspect vehicle on County Line Road and gave pursuit.

The suspect vehicle fled southbound on I41 reaching speeds of approximately 110 mph. The suspect vehicle crashed at STH145 and 91st. The two occupants fled on foot and GPD officers continued their pursuit on foot.

Both suspects were taken into custody. The suspect driver is a 36-year-old male from Milwaukee and the suspect passenger is a 39-year-old female from Milwaukee.

Both the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Dept. and Milwaukee Police Dept. assisted GPD Officers during the foot pursuit.

The male suspect had five outstanding warrants for his arrest and the female had four outstanding warrants for her arrest.

A request for charges was sent to the Washington County District Attorney on the female for retail theft, possession of heroin, drug paraphernalia, illegally obtained prescription medication and resisting/obstructing.

Charges requested on the male for felony eluding, retrial theft and resisting/obstructing.

I strongly urge the Washington County D.A. and judge (whoever gets it) nail both of these folks to the wall. As Milwaukee crooks keep slipping into neighboring counties to commit their crimes, we need to make it clear that while the Milwaukee judicial system may give them pass after pass after pass, this kind of behavior will be met with a harsh response in other counties.

U.S. Withdraws from U.N. Immigration Compact

Good! It’s not about the policies. It’s about who gets to decide the policies. We should not be outsourcing our sovereignty to international bodies that do not have America’s interests at heart.

Continuing his “America First” approach to foreign policy, President Donald Trump has pulled the U.S. out of a United Nations compact seeking global cooperation to protect the safety and rights of refugees and migrants.

Trump’s decision to end America’s “participation in the Global Compact on Migration” was disclosed on Saturday by the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., explained in a statement that the pact’s “global approach” was “simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”

“[O]ur decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country,” Haley said.

SCOTUS Allows Travel Ban

It’s moot now, but important to reestablish the point.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.

This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.

CVS to Buy Aetna

What an interesting deal.

CVS is buying health insurance giant Aetna, the companies announced Sunday.

If approved, the $69 billion acquisition — $77 billion including debt — would drastically remap the health care industry. CVS Health (CVS)is a massive drugstore chain and prescription drug insurer, while Aetna (AET) is one of the nation’s largest health insurers.

It would also go down as the largest health insurance deal in history, far exceeding Express Scripts (ESRX)’ $29 billion acquisition of Medco in 2012, the last record-holder.

If the deal goes through, you would have a health insurer with direct access to thousands of store locations from which they could deliver routine services to control costs.

Closed Meeting for West Bend School Board Tomorrow

This is interesting. The West Bend School Board called for a closed session tomorrow. This is on the agenda:

b. Administrative employment contract

c. Administrative compensation

d. Clarification of roles and responsibilities of specific administrators

e. Discussion of performance evaluations of specific administrators

Bear in mind that the West Bend School District’s superintendent has been on leave since August reportedly for a medical issue. Last Week, John Torinus has a column where he suggested that the School Board was looking for a new superintendent. Is he right?

On another note, I would point out again how deplorable this school board and the district have been at communicating with the public. This meeting was posted sometime late Friday or Saturday morning. That’s within legal guidelines, but hardly open communication. The Daily News doesn’t publish again until after the meeting and much of the community was already into their weekend and won’t look until Monday. Thankfully, an observant reader tipped me off to the notice or I probably wouldn’t have seen it either. Secrecy and obfuscation have become the hallmarks of this board.

Individual Mandate Repealing Itself

Here’s an interesting look from National Review.

Premiums for Obamacare policies next year will be so high that millions will be exempt from the tax penalty whether Congress repeals it or not. Even the skimpiest coverage now costs so much that many uninsured people with six-figure incomes will be exempt. The individual mandate is repealing itself.

[…]

For a 35-year-old couple, subsidies end at about $65,000 in income — but Bronze-level coverage costs an average of nearly $7,800, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s premium calculator. This premium will exceed 8 percent of the couple’s income unless their earnings approach $97,400. A 31-year-old couple with a toddler loses subsidies at an income of about $82,000, but would have to pay more than $9,800 for a Bronze plan — meaning they would be exempt from the penalty unless their earnings total nearly $123,000.

Middle-aged people pay higher premiums under Obamacare, making them even more likely to qualify for exemptions. A 50-year-old couple ineligible for subsidies (which end around $65,000) would face premiums of nearly $11,400 for a Bronze policy, freeing them from the penalty if their income is below $142,000. At the extreme, a 64-year-old couple (facing the same $65,000 subsidy cutoff) wouldn’t have to pay the tax penalty unless their earnings topped $239,000.

Lavish premiums don’t buy lavish coverage. Family deductibles for Bronze plans average more than $12,000, and limits on out-of-pocket spending for covered, in-network services average nearly $14,000. Our hypothetical 35-year-old couple would have to shell out more than $21,700 in premiums and medical bills before their insurance company began bearing the full cost of their in-network expenses. Hardly an appealing proposition.

I looked at an Obamacare plan for my family last month. Thankfully, I don’t need it, because it was ridiculous. The Bronze plan was $28,992 per year with a $12,500 deductible. We do not qualify for subsidies, so a full year of coverage plus the deductible totals $41,492. And we are a pretty healthy family. Affordable? Hardly.