Walker Signs School Choice Bill

With all of the heat and controversy constantly raging, it is remarkable that this bipartisan bill was passed and signed with almost no fanfare.

MOUNT PLEASANT, WI — Gov. Scott Walker has signed a new voucher school bill into law Wednesday that requires private schools participating in a school choice program to conduct background checks of its employees.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 28-5 and was concurred by the Assembly with a vote of 67-30.

The new law also eliminates certain academic threshholds that choice schools must currently meet, including at least one of the following:

1) At least 70 percent of the pupils in the program advance one grade level each year.

2)) The private school’s average attendance rate for the pupils in the program is at least 90 percent

3) At least 80 percent of the pupils in the program demonstrate significant academic
progress

4) At least 70 percent of the families of pupils in the program meet parent involvement criteria established by the private school.

Bieber Banned

I think that the U.S. should copy this policy in solidarity with China.

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has been banned from performing in China, according to Beijing’s Culture Bureau.

In a statement, the ministry said it was not appropriate to allow in entertainers who have engaged in “bad behaviour.”

Budget Deal?

Perhaps.

Gov. Scott Walker offered a change to his budget plan this week to Republican leaders feuding over how to pay for road projects in an effort to break a 20-day impasse, but it’s unclear if it’s enough to get both houses back to the negotiating table.

“There’s no deal yet. That’s for sure,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Thursday after he relayed to his members the governor’s offer to use $200 million slated for tax cuts for road projects instead, drawing down bonding levels.

But Walker’s offer did win support from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Assembly Republicans, who in letters to Walker and Senate Republicans on Thursday said they accepted the governor’s proposal and want to resume work on the 2017-19 state budget as early as next week.

[…]

Walker’s offer eliminates a $203 million tax cut that would instead be used to reduce or completely wipe out all new transportation bonding in the 2017-19 state budget, the governor told reporters.

West Bend High Schools to Have Two Principals

I attended the meeting of the West Bend School Board that I mentioned this morning. What a deplorable example of governance.

Quick background… West Bend has two high schools in one building. It is apparently unique in this regard. Several years ago, in an effort to trim the cost of administration, the district went with a combined principal and single administrative staff. Tonight, the board voted to go back to two principals and, presumably, two staffs.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the decision itself. I see the sense in having two principals and as long as the cost of administration remains neutral or decreases, then it’s really just a matter of organizational structure. I can make an argument for either structure. But the method by which the board made their decision was an example of exceedingly poor governance.

Bear in mind that this is a board whose newest members have promised better transparency and stakeholder input. It is also a school district that was just completed a study about its communications. The study was fairly critical of the district’s communications and transparency and had several recommendations. The campaign promises and study were ignored in this process.

First, the board called a special meeting with almost no notice. The meeting notice was released the night before the meeting. They claim it was released 24 hours in advance in accordance with the law, but if they did it was by the skin of their teeth. The notice was buried in their website, but did not appear on their social media outlets or anywhere else. The only way anyone would have known about the meeting was if they happened to scan the public notices at the library this morning or dug into the meeting agendas about seven clicks down into the district’s website. Fortunately, the Washington County Insider saw it and wrote about it. That appears to be how most people who managed to attend the meeting heard about it.

Second, the description of the meeting in the notice did not mention one principal versus two. It was generic language about administrative policies. The only reason anyone knew that the board would be discussing splitting the principal position into two was because the board president emailed The Washington County Insider saying so.

In other words, the board planned to make a rather significant decision regarding the administrative structure of West Bend’s High Schools and failed to make even a cursory effort to inform the public or invite input. Indeed, their actions indicate that they were almost trying to evade public input.

During the meeting, Board President Tiffany Larson read a lengthy preamble laying out the rationale for the meeting. She stated that after hearing feedback during a listening panel, she thought that the public wanted two principals, so she brought it to the board. Board Member Monty Schmiege questioned her on this point later in the meeting. Larson admitted that the panel was actually a listening panel for hiring a new principal and was not to discuss this issue. She admitted that it was an off hand comment from someone during the meeting. One of the few speakers was an assistant principal who was a member of that panel. She questioned it and said that she did not recall the issue even being discussed. Larson also didn’t name who made the comment. Nobody can apparently even verify that the root comment that generated this meeting even happened.

A few speakers managed to speak during the public comment period. They all supported two principals, but several of them also complained about the lack of communication or notice. One person mentioned that she is a parent whose husband is a teacher and the only way she found out about the meeting was on the Washington County Insider. There was no notice to parents, faculty, staff, or anyone else.

Larson and board member Tonnie Schmidt both brushed aside concerns about communication or public input. Larson made some comments about this being a discussion in the community for years. They said that the reason for the urgency was that they wanted to get it changed prior to the new school year starting. The cited a couple of letters from former principals and comments from unnamed people in the community. Apparently, that passes for public input. I, for one, didn’t even know it was up for discussion until this morning, and now it is done. I suspect that hundreds of people will read this, the Washington County Insider, or the Daily News over the next couple of days and have had no idea this even happened.

Schmiege also made reference to the fact that the issue was discussed previously in a closed executive session and apparently the Superintendent was going to conduct a study of the issue and make a recommendation. The board acted without any research, study, cost estimates, or recommendation from the administration. We have no idea what the cost will be. We don’t know what the division of labor will be. We don’t know what the reporting structure will be. We don’t know anything. All we know is that now there will be two principals instead of one. Larson dismissed such concerns saying that West Bend had two principals for decades and it will work. Only ignorance could instill such confidence.

I would note that I did reach out this morning for comment from every board member. None of them have responded. This is the third or fourth time I’ve asked for comment without any response. The new board’s communication policy appears to be to not communicate at all.

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Caught

From the West Bend police

Update: On Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 11:15 a.m. a Milwaukee Police Officer located the victim’s vehicle, the 2008 Infiniti G35, in the area of S. 12th St. and W. Greenfield Av. At approximately 12:30 p.m. Milwaukee Police Officers found the suspect, Rakeem WOODLEY, hiding in a relative’s house in the same area. West Bend Police responded and took custody of the vehicle and suspect. The vehicle was not damaged and will be returned to the owner after it is processed for evidence. The suspect was arrested for Strong Armed Robbery and Operating a Motor Vehicle without the Owner’s Consent. The suspect is being held at the Washington County Jail.

The West Bend Police Department thanks Milwaukee Police Officers Scott IVERSON and Ryan HEIDEMANN for their cooperation and outstanding work.

Given his history of running and victimizing more people, it seems reasonable for the judge to deny him bail.

 

The Juice is Loose!

In a just world, he would have been executed years ago for killing Nicole and Ron. In our world, we will be inflicted with a media tour to rehabilitate his image.

(CNN)A Nevada parole board granted O.J. Simpson parole on Thursday after the former NFL star apologized for his role in a 2007 armed robbery, said he’d been a model prisoner, and promised that he’d have no conflicts if released.

“I’ve done my time,” he said. “I’ve done it as well and as respectfully as I think anyone can.”
Simpson has served nine years of a nine-to-33-year sentence for an armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas. He is expected to be released as early as October, and said he plans to move to his home in Florida.
[…]
At the same time, he repeatedly deflected taking full responsibility for that Vegas crime and avoided any mention of his infamous 1995 acquittal for the slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

“Huge, big numbers” for Foxxconn Subsidies

One wonders what the package will be.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican state senator says the state may reach a deal with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn by the end of the month and budget talks are being delayed as an incentive package is worked out.

Sen. Luther Olsen tells The Associated Press on Thursday that talks are ongoing about what incentives the state may have to offer to get the iPhone manufacturer to commit.

Olsen says, “I think we should hold off on settling the budget until we know what’s going on with this.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald tells AP that “huge, big numbers” are being talked about to help land Foxconn. But he says he hasn’t discussed them yet with his caucus.

I am not opposed to sensible subsidies to lure large businesses to Wisconsin. The economic impact of something like Foxconn would be huge, so I would expect the incentives to be huge. As long as the benefits to the taxpayer outweigh the costs, let’s get this deal done.

What is more interesting is how this is impacting the debate over the state budget. Some folks are convinced that we need to hold off on a budget to see what the plan is while others are convinced that we need to get the budget done to demonstrate the state’s fiscal solvency. The fact that the Foxconn negotiation is impacting our state budget to this extent indicates just how big it is.

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Was Just Released

This is unacceptable.

MILWAUKEE — A convicted carjacker is accused of doing it again — targeting a 75-year-old woman in a grocery store parking lot, just after he was released from custody.

19-year-old Rakeem Woodley is wanted for the carjacking Tuesday morning, July 18th in West Bend. Investigators say he grabbed the keys from the woman’s hand, and took off in her vehicle. It happened at the Piggly Wiggly store near E. Washington and Stockhausen Lane around 7:00 a.m.

It’s not his first time committing this type of crime, investigators say.

Court records show in April of 2016, he committed a similar crime at the Milwaukee Salvation Army on Brown Deer Road — hopping in the backseat of a vehicle, and telling the driver “give me the keys or I’ll blow your head off.”

Woodley was arrested days later, in another stolen vehicle, after fleeing from police. He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years extended supervision. He was given credit for the 285 days he spent behind bars, awaiting his sentence.

It’s only a matter of time until this crook hurts or kills someone – if he hasn’t already. Clearly, our laws or the application of them is inadequate.

Emergency School Board Meeting Tonight in West Bend

Well, this is curious

NOTICE OF SPECIAL BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING

Education Service Center 735 S. Main Street,

West Bend Board Room Thursday,

July 20, 2017 5:00 pm

Call to order

1. Action Item

a. High School Administrative Reorganization

2. Executive session pursuant to Wis. Stats. 19.85(1)(c) to consider employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility, and take any such action, if necessary, based on its discussion, namely: review and consideration of high school administrative assignments

Adjourn

This is odd for a few reasons. First, as far as I can tell, this notice went out last night or early this morning – less than 24 hours before a school board meeting. That is hardly adequate notice for a public meeting. Usually when a meeting is called with so little notice, it is done so because of some emergency or critical issue – like a security issue or a major HR issue. The stated reason for this meeting does not strike me as an emergency. It strikes me as a normal policy issue that could easy be dealt with in the normal course of business for the board. Why the last minute urgency?

Second, on the issue itself, I’m hearing that it is to discuss whether the West Bend High Schools should have a principal for each high school, as they had in the past, or continue with a single principal for both schools, as they are currently structured. If that is indeed the topic to be discussed, then why not put that in the description of the meeting? The reason stated in the public notice is very vague and dull-sounding, but I know that many school district stakeholders have a passionate interest in the issue of one principal vs. two. Why does the notice obfuscate the topic to be discussed?

Third, if the school board is calling an emergency meeting to talk about whether to have two principals instead of one, I can only assume that that means that some of them really want two. Why have an emergency meeting to just affirm the status quo? But I thought the majority of the school board members ran for office saying that they wanted fewer administrators – not more.

We’ll see what happens tonight.

UPDATE: The Washington County Insider has confirmation that this meeting is, indeed, about one vs. two high school principals. Why didn’t they put that in the meeting notice then? And, again, why the special meeting for it?

According to an email from West Bend School Board president Tiffany Larson, “It is a discussion pertaining to the benefit of returning to the traditional 2 principal arrangement or maintaining the current model of 1 principal for 2 high schools.”

NAACP Opposes Naming Madison Building After Obama

Heh. By that argument, we can only ever name government buildings after white men who represent the racist patriarchy, right?

Support from Dane County officials may be waning for a plan to name the City-County Building after former President Barack Obama, after the county’s chapter of the NAACP voted against it.

The NAACP is objecting to the idea on grounds that naming a building that houses a portion of the county jail after the nation’s first black president is inappropriate.

“The building is symbolic of the extreme racial disparities evident in the treatment of African Americans by the criminal justice system of the United States,” the NAACP resolution states.

Greg Jones, president of NAACP Dane County, included the resolution in a letter Monday to the Dane County Board, the Madison City Council, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin stating the organization’s objections to the idea.

Strong Arm Car Jacking at West Bend Pig

Grrrr

A 75-year-old woman was the victim of a carjacking Tuesday at a Piggly Wiggly supermarket in West Bend, police said.

The robbery was reported shortly before 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the store at 2575 E. Washington St., according to a news release from the West Bend Police Department.

The woman was walking to her vehicle when a man grabbed her keys from her hand and drove away in the vehicle, according to the release.

The vehicle is a gray, four-door, 2008 Infiniti G35, with Wisconsin license plates BF4MVP, according to police, who asked that anyone with information about the location of the vehicle or a suspect call them at (262) 335-5000.

Interesting that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chose not to publish the name or description of the suspect even though it was in the police press release. Wouldn’t it be helpful for people to look out for the PERSON more than the car? Here it is:

The suspect has been identified as Rakeem J. WOODLEY, male, black, 19 years of age, 5’7”, 150 lbs., medium build, last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with black lettering down the left sleeve, red pants and brown shoes with white soles.

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Guy Arrested After Reporting Bad Batch of Meth

But the D.A. didn’t want to prosecute?

A La Crosse man was arrested for possessing methamphetamine after he allegedly called police to report buying a bad batch of meth.

Police responded to a call Thursday afternoon and found Kevin Reffruschinni in the parking lot of the Fiesta Mexicana restaurant on Mormon Coulee road.

According to police reports, Reffruschinni, 48, said he was high and didn’t want “the kids” to get a hold of the meth, which he said was in a suitcase stashed near adjacent railroad tracks. Officers found meth in three aluminum foil wrappers in a front pocket of the suitcase.

 Reffruschinni, of 2419 George Place, was arrested on suspicion of possessing meth and bail jumping, although the La Crosse County District Attorney’s office declined to file charges Monday.

Egalitarianism Defeated Liberty

I see that Victor Davis Hanson and I were thinking along the same lines this week, but as usual, he says it better.

It does not matter that the ossified European social model does not work and leads to collective decline in the standard of living. The world knows that from seeing the implosion of Venezuela and Cuba, or the gradual decline of the EU and the wreckage of its Mediterranean members, or the plight of blue states such as Illinois and California. Instead, it is the near-religious idea of egalitarianism that counts; on the global stage, it has all but won the war against liberty. We are all creatures of the Animal Farm barnyard now.

Ethanol Research Grants Coming to an End

This is a revealing story.

A UW-Madison research center that has used the university’s largest-ever federal grant to develop ethanol technology over the past decade will shift its focus to other alternative fuels after winning another major award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center will use the five-year grant to learn more about how to sustainably produce energy from switchgrass, poplar trees, sorghum and other dedicated bioenergy crops — those that, unlike ethanol, are not also used for food, director Tim Donohue said Monday.

The center received $267 million over 10 years from the Department of Energy for its ethanol research, which Donohue said will wind down over the next six to 18 months.

[…]

Ethanol has been embraced by the energy industry over the years, Donohue said, and putting greater emphasis on research to develop other biofuels fulfills the center’s mission “to generate next-generation technologies.”

Donohue said the Department of Energy encouraged the shift, pushing researchers to focus on potential fuels that would not be grown on land that is now used for agriculture, or compete with other uses for crops such as corn — what he described as a “food-vs.-fuel” issue.

The other biofuels could also have greater potential than ethanol when it comes to replacing fossil fuels across different transportation industries, said Donohue, a professor of bacteriology.

It is a maxim of employee compensation models that people will do what they are paid to do. It is a nod to human nature that people will usually act within their own self interests. That is not a bad thing, but it is something that one must acknowledge and understand when crafting policies. It is something that our Founders understood when creating our Constitution based on competing self interests instead of appealing to people’s idealistic nature.

Many of us have long argued that a significant amount of the “science” that supports some political initiatives like global warming policies or ethanol subsidies are the result of the fact that the scientists are being paid to have those opinions. Look at this story as an example of that. For a decade, the researchers at  Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to conduct research on the use of ethanol as a fuel. Accordingly, they have spent the last decade telling us that ethanol is great and a wonderful fuel alternative.

Now they will receive a ton of money to study other biofuels. And right on cue, here is the director telling us that “other biofuels could also have a greater potential than ethanol…” Of course they could, because that is what he is being paid to study. The money would dry up pretty quickly if he said, “nah, ethanol is still the best.”

People do what they are paid to do.

Ceding the grand debate

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I should note that while I lament the fact that we Americans have by and large ceded this debate, I do want the Congress to pass a healthcare reform bill that mitigates the damage as much as possible. I’d rather take a partial win than no win at all. Here it is:

As the U.S. Senate appears to be in the final throes of a bill to significantly change some of the worst aspects of Obamacare, it is appropriate to return to some fundamental truths that have been lost in the debate.

Health care is not a right. One of the philosophical underpinnings of Obamacare is the Marxist assertion that health care is a right, and as a right, should be protected and managed by the central government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The greatest single definition of rights can be found in our own nation’s Declaration of Independence which states in part, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights … .” Rights are universal, unalienable, inviolable, equal and are the sole birthright of each individual. Since rights rest in the soul of each individual, every right can be exercised by every individual even if they were the last person on earth.

For example, everyone has a natural right to speak their conscience. The exercise of that right requires neither license from a government nor assistance from another person. The right to keep and bear arms is also a right. It is also a right inherent in the individual that can be exercised without any outside interference or assistance.

Health care is not a right. One certainly has the right to practice health care on oneself, as that right rests in the right to own one’s own body, but at the point that one’s health care requires the assistance of another individual, it ceases to be a right. No right can impose an obligation or duty on another individual.

One has a right to speak one’s conscience, but that does not obligate anyone to listen. One has a right to keep andbear arms, but that does not impose a duty on others to manufacture and supply one a gun. One has a right to control one’s own body, but that does not entitle one to the time, knowledge and skills of a doctor. An individual can always exercise a right, but at the point that such exercise imposes upon another person, it ceases to be a right and instead slips into the realms of commerce or coercion.

It is an important distinction because if we extend the definition of rights to include obligations on others, we are sanctioning slavery. When someone says that they are entitled to free universal health care, what they are really saying is that they want our government to use the threat of violence and imprisonment to force another person to surrender the fruits of their education, training, knowledge, time, materials and skills. The assertion that health care is a right is an inherently violent call to enslave others for the service of the collective.

Until the recent past, Americans had accepted that that the delivery of health care was a matter of commerce where free people would engage in an exchange of goods and services to obtain health care services. As a people, we had confidence in the capitalist economic principles that had led to the most efficient and productive allocation of scarce resources in all areas of commerce — including health care. It is upon these principles that America has been built and has become the most prosperous people in the history of human existence.

Yet in a pique of frustration and stupidity, we have abandoned those proven economic principles and embraced an ideology of serfdom by allowing our federal government to dictate the terms of our health care system. The debate occurring in Congress right now is simply over the details and costs of those terms. As a people, we have ceded the grand debate and are now fighting over the scraps of a squandered American legacy.

New Business and Jobs are Bad

This has to be one of the stupidest editorials I’ve read in a long time.

The sudden influx of 10,000 jobs in Janesville could only be a good thing, right?

Not necessarily.

News of Foxconn considering and then passing up Janesville as the site of a $10 billion expansion project might have left some people feeling disappointed. But we know from experience the pitfalls of allowing one company and industry to dominate the local economy.

The GM plant closing happened not even 10 years ago. Let’s not forget with its closing came the sucking sound of hundreds of people’s livelihoods disappearing. When a community relies on a big employer, its fortunes rise and fall with that employer, too. The car industry is notoriously cyclical, and Janesville endured many ups and downs through the years before the bottom finally fell out in 2008.

[…]

Sure, we’re puckering a little, here, from sour grapes, but winning 10,000 Foxconn jobs wouldn’t be a perpetual party for the economy. It would come with a hangover.

Their argument is basically that having a business open in town and create thousands of jobs is a bad thing because that company may leave one day and the jobs will go with it. In their view, unemployment is better because at least that can be perpetual.

What they ignore is the fact that GM created jobs, employment, and a good lifestyle for thousands of people for generations in Janesville. Yes, they eventually left and Janesville misses GM, but they are taking the wrong lesson from that experience. The lesson is that the city must diversify its economy to mitigate the negative effects of business closings. The lesson is NOT that they should eschew big businesses moving to town unless the business can guarantee that jobs will last for eternity.

Illinois Rooting for Foxconn in Wisconsin

Even the FIBs are rooting for it.

Southeastern Wisconsin is in the running to land a behemoth electronics manufacturing facility that could bring 10,000 jobs, a potential game-changer for the region if the deal goes through.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, a major electronics manufacturer well known for making Apple’s iPhones, has announced plans to invest $10 billion to expand U.S. operations, and although it has not announced where or how that money will be spent, Wisconsin officials have let slip that their state is a top contender.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner reached out to Foxconn earlier this year to make his own pitch for the project and the state “will continue to stay in contact as Foxconn works to consider locations and opportunities in the Midwest,” according to an emailed statement Friday from governor’s spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis.

But Foxconn appears to be zeroing in on a swath of Wisconsin just north of the border, which would still likely benefit Illinois as the company builds its workforce and supply chain.

Group Buys West Bend Theater

Great! I hope they can do something with it.

The Historic West Bend Theatre Inc. announced Friday it purchased the West Bend Theatre and plans to restore the downtown facility that was built in 1929.

The nonprofit corporation acquired the property from Ascendant Holdings, which is managed by Matt Prescott.

“We are grateful to Matt Prescott for stepping up to save this beautiful and historic building so that our community may continue to create wonderful memories for years to come,” HWBT president Lisa Rowe said in a news release.

The theatre has remained closed since 2006. The board of directors now in control of the building plans to create a multi-purpose venue to offer classic and kids movie showings, plays, live music performances, comedy acts and a space for events.

The group retained architect Scott Georgeson, who holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a fellow in the American Institute of Architects. He specializes in theatre restoration and renovation.

Couple Knocked Out in Dance Move

Leave it to the professionals, folks.

A couple knocked themselves unconscious practising a lift from classic 1980s film Dirty Dancing for their wedding.

Sharon Price and fiance Andy Price were trying to recreate its final dance scene in a pub garden in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

Mr Price said: “I was concussed. I was out. I ended up in a neck brace and had to have a CT scan.

“We were about 30ft apart and Sharon ran and I grabbed her hips and the next thing we knew we were flat out.”

Mr Price said he had a mild heart attack several years ago and so the medical experts were “just being careful” with the tests they ran.

They were discharged from hospital six hours later.

Uihlein Backing Nicholson

Eh..

Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein has now donated a total of $3.5 million toward a super PAC supporting Republican Kevin Nicholson’s potential campaign for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat.

Uihlein, who is one of the nation’s biggest Republican donors, founded the Pleasant Prairie-based Uline company.

He gave $2 million earlier this year to start the super PAC “Solutions for Wisconsin.” A spokesman said Uihlein donated another $1.5 million last quarter.

So far, Uihlein is the super PAC’s only donor.

Solutions for Wisconsin is focused exclusively on supporting the potential U.S. Senate bid of Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran, businessman and former Democrat.

“I strongly encourage others to support this effort and avoid a repeat of 2012’s divisive Republican primary,” Uihlein said in a statement released Wednesday.

While I appreciate Uihlein being willing to seriously support an effort to defeat Senator Baldin, his choice of candidate leaves something to be desired. Could he put his money behind a real Republican instead?