New School Board Member Selected in West Bend

He certainly seems qualified. Hopefully his experience can help balance a very green board. Hat tip to the Washington County Insider.

May 24, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Tim Stellmacher was selected during a special meeting tonight to fill an open seat on the West Bend School Board. The term runs 1-year.

The seat opened after Therese Sizer resigned her post March 20.

Stellmacher was one of five people who submitted an application for the open seat. Others included Pat Seghers, Amy Swanson Kieser, Bob Miller and Tina Hochstaetter.

Stellmacher is 70 years old and has lived in West Bend since 1979.  Stellmacher said he is retired. His LinkedIn profile shows he works as a school business management consultant and previously worked in the Waupun Area and Hustisford School Districts.

Wisconsin Republicans Lean Toward Spending Increase

Why does it seem that on every issue the Wisconsin legislative Republicans are tilting toward the most anti-conservative position?

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed freezing tuition next year, cutting tuition by 5 percent in the 2018-19 school year and providing $35 million in taxpayer funds to the UW System to cover the lost tuition revenue from the tuition cut.

Walker also is proposing $42.5 million in new performance-based funding to be divvied up among the UW campuses, $11.6 million for UW employee raises and $50 million to restore some of the $250 million in cuts the System absorbed in the two-year budget cycle that ends June 30.

Assembly Republicans oppose cutting tuition, said finance committee co-chairman John Nygren, R-Marinette. They would prefer to use some of the $35 million on financial aid for low-income students.

I’m not a big fan of Walker’s proposal. While a tuition decrease would be welcome, back-filling it with more state funds merely shifts the burden without correcting the problem. The problem is that the university system spends too dang much and has made itself unaffordable for a lot of middle class Wisconsin families. But at least Walker’s proposal is spending neutral.

Legislative Republicans apparently just want to spend more. They want to spend the additional $35 million on UW not as an offset to a tuition decrease, but just to spend more money. Instead of subsidizing kids who can’t afford to attend a UW school, how about they focus on bringing down the cost so that we don’t feel a need to subsidize so many kids?

Florida Concealed Carry List Hacked

This is why allowing our government to keep lists of what we do and what we own is a bad idea.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam assured concealed weapons permit holders Tuesday they have nothing to fear from alien hackers. The names of some 16,000 concealed weapon permit holders were revealed when the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ computer network was hacked earlier this month.

Some 469 individuals who did some form of e-business with the department had their names and social security numbers stolen. Those individuals have been notified and are being offered a year of free credit protection from the state.

Putnam said the attack came from outside the United States and he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist in the investigation.

Following Script

How many times have we seen this scenario play out? How many more times?

Manchester, England (CNN)The 22-year-old behind the deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was known to security services, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Wednesday, as the country elevated its terror threat to the highest level for the first time in a decade.

Police have named Salman Abedi, a British-born national of Libyan descent, as the bomber in the attack on Manchester Arena, which killed at least 22 people, including children. Abedi died in the blast, in what appears to have been a suicide bombing.
Rudd confirmed in an interview with the BBC that Abedi was on the radar of intelligence services and that he had recently returned to the UK from Libya.

Repeal the Minimum Markup Law

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

West Bend has been enjoying something of a retail renaissance in the past few years. Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act, A.K.A. “Minimum Markup Law,” is preventing consumers to reap the benefits of such an upsurge in competition.

Just in the last year, Kwik Trip opened in West Bend, the Shell on Paradise upgraded with a car wash and Mad Max built a shining new gas station on South Main Street. Pizza Ranch is planning a new store on Washington, Morrie’s Auto Group is planning a new Honda dealership in town and Russ Darrow is already building a new Nissan dealership. The big news last week was the opening of a huge Meijer grocery store and Pick ‘n Save is planning a major upgrade to its stores.

The natural result of so much competition is to drive the price of identical goods down for consumers. After all, if one can buy the same gallon of milk for a dollar less at Meijer than at Pick ‘n Save, why would a consumer pay more? Sure there are other factors that consumers consider like convenience, service, etc., but everything else being equal, consumers will buy from the lower cost retailer.

Sometimes, businesses will use the practice of a loss leader to attract consumers in the hope those consumers will buy other products, too. This is where a business will sell one product for a price dramatically less than their competitors and often below their cost. It is a practice that cannot be sustained over time without risking bankruptcy, but it can be used as a temporary lure for consumers.

Wisconsin’s Minimum Markup law was passed in the 1930s when Progressives held majorities in Madison to prevent just such business practices. As the preface of the law states, “The practice of selling certain items of merchandise below cost in order to attract patronage is generally a form of deceptive advertising and an unfair method of competition in commerce.”

While the Minimum Markup Law was written in an anti-capitalism spasm of socialist protectionism, the modern justifications for keeping it are essentially two-fold. First, proponents argue it protects consumers by preventing “big business” from moving into a community, selling below cost until the competition fails and then jack up prices. Second, proponents argue by guaranteeing a profit, the Minimum Markup Law protects a diversity of competition by ensuring that small retailers can

compete with larger ones.

The problem with both of those arguments is neither are true. There is no evidence of large retailers using loss leaders to bankrupt competition and then increasing prices in the long term. The reason is economies are dynamic and consumers are mobile. If Wal-Mart in West Bend, for example, were to sell all of its goods at significantly below cost for a period of time, some other retailers may go bankrupt. But as soon as Wal-Mart raised their prices, consumers could travel to a neighboring town and another store could easily move into West Bend with lower prices. Market pressures keep Wal-Mart’s prices – and other retailers’ prices – competitive.

A study recently released by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty disproves the second argument. The study was co-authored by WILL’s William Flanders and the Cato Institute’s Ike Brannon. The study looked across all 50 states. Slightly less than half of the states have a minimum markup law similar to Wisconsin’s and a few have it just for gasoline. The rest of the states have no such law.

WILL’s study found there was no statistical difference in the number of small retailers or gas stations between states with a Minimum Markup Law and those without. For all of the proponents’ rhetoric about protecting Wisconsin’s small businesses, there is no evidence that in more than 80 years Wisconsin’s Minimum Markup Law being in effect it stops anything other than Wisconsinites from getting a good deal.

Wisconsin’s Minimum Markup Law is an antiquated anti-consumer law rooted in a discredited economic theory. It does not accomplish the goals it purports to achieve and forces consumers to pay more than necessary for essential goods. It is time to repeal Wisconsin’s Minimum Markup Law once and for all.

Attack in Manchester

Prayers for our British friends.

Nineteen people have been killed and about 50 injured in a suspected terror attack at Manchester Arena.

The blast happened at about 22:35 BST on Monday following a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande.

The cause is unknown but PM Theresa May said her thoughts were with those affected by “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”.

British Transport Police said the explosion was in the arena’s foyer.

Comey Not a “Nut Job”

To be fair, Feinstein is an authority on nut jobs.

During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning, Feinstein said it was altogether inappropriate for Trump to describe former FBI Director James Comey as a “nut job” while meeting with Russian officials.

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is in no way a nut job. He’s a very strong man. He’s a very principled man,” Feinstein said. “I happen to believe he made a couple of mistakes. I suspect he thinks he’s made a couple of mistakes. Whether that deserved his termination or not is not up to me.”

No… it’s up to Trump.

Ringling Bros Calls it Quits

It’s sad to see this era pass. There was a time when the circus was entertainment for millions of people. Now, in an age of endless entertainment available 24/7, the circus just can’t compete.

After 146 years, America’s most celebrated circus Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has staged its final performance in New York.

Owners of the company said the tough decision had been made due to falling ticket sales and high operating costs.

“As far as this great American institution, it is a sad moment,” ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson said.

For the performers, it also means the end of a tight-knit community that lived on a train in between shows.

Students Walk Out of Commencement Speech

These kids are a disgrace to their Alma Mater.

Dozens of students at the University of Notre Dame walked out of their commencement ceremony Sunday when Vice President Mike Pence took the stage — in protest of the administration and policies he represents.

Some members of the larger crowd cheered the walk-outs on, while others booed the students who marched out of gates 27 and 28 of Notre Dame Stadium during the school’s 172nd commencement. The walk-out came before the students received their degrees, and they were not allowed back in, officials said.

So if you disagree with someone’s politics, you won’t even listen to them speak? Talk about being a bunch of closed-minded bigots.

“Journalists’ brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning”

Seems about right.

“Journalists’ brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.

The study, led by Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and leadership coach, analysed 40 journalists from newspapers, magazines, broadcast, and online platforms over seven months. The participants took part in tests related to their lifestyle, health, and behaviour.

It was launched in association with the London Press Club, and the objective was to determine how journalists can thrive under stress.

Each subject completed a blood test, wore a heart-rate monitor for three days, kept a food and drink diary for a week, and completed a brain profile questionnaire.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

West Bend WWII veteran Dorthy Bein on Sunday Honor Flight

A big weekend ahead for Dorothy Bein, 96, of West Bend as she will be one of only two women who served during WWII on this Sunday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

“I am delighted,” said Bein. “My son Dan Eggerding has done most of the arranging and I think he’s more than I am.”

Sitting in her apartment at Cedar Bay West on a rainy afternoon Bein spoke about how she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard when she was 22 years old.

“I was a teacher and I was working in northern Wisconsin,” she said. “One of the teachers on staff came across an advertisement looking for a person who was a mathematician and I applied for it and strangely enough I got it.”

The year was 1945 and Bein went to Atlanta, Georgia and trained Navy pilots to “fly” in flight trainers or a Link Trainer.  “I went for three months where I got training in math and equipment,” she said. “I was an Instrument Flight Instructor; my rank was Specialist T and the ‘T’ stood for teacher.”

The Link Trainers simulated flight instruction for pilots. One of the main reasons the U.S. won the war against Japan was because pilots could be trained quickly and efficiently.  Once the very experienced, very well trained Japanese pilots died when their carriers sank, there were no real replacements. Bein was a part of that effort.

According to her son Dan, his mom actually landed on an aircraft carrier in a two-seater fighter to experience what it was like as a pilot. ” I remember her telling me about it when I was young,” he said. “It was very advanced for its time.”

After training, Bein was transferred to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. “It was the largest Coast Guard air base at the time,” she said.

For the next three years Bein taught pilots on the Link Trainer. “We’d put a hood over the cockpit so the pilots couldn’t see – almost like they were flying blind,” she said.

The simulator could be made to bank and maneuver. “At times we would put in rough weather,” she said. “There was some digital equipment that tracked the flight plan and we’d send signals via Morse code with dots and dashes and with that they’d find their way to the airbase.”

Bein recalled how her mother discouraged her from entering the Coast Guard. “I thought it was excellent being a woman in the military,” said Bein. “I was thrilled to be able to do it.”

Bein was 25 years old when she met and married Milferd Eggerding, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. The couple moved to Chicago and had two boys. Milferd was tragically killed in an auto accident after he was struck by a train at a blind crossing.

Bein raised the two boys for 15 years by herself. She later remarried. Bein is looking forward to seeing the monuments in D.C.  Her son Dan will be her guardian.

Robert Schotzko on Sunday Honor Flight                              By Ann Marie Craig

As he sat at his kitchen table, Robert Schotzko of West Bend thumbed through the yellowed and well-worn War Department Technical Manual TM10-412, a leftover from WWII, but useful even today. It is one of Robert’s prized possessions and one that he used frequently when serving during the Korean War. He was an Army cook in Darmstadt, Germany, and this was his Army Recipes cookbook.

Robert is now 85 and is one of the veterans participating in the upcoming May 21 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight to Washington DC. Originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he joined the Army right after high school, inspired because of the loss of his best friend who served in the US Army on Korean soil. He began Basic Training at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas and was transferred to Darmstadt, Germany with the 816th FA Battalion for further training.

“Shortly after my arrival in Germany,” he tells the story, “I was riding in a half-track and a jeep pulled up alongside.” “Can anybody in here cook?” came the shout from the jeep.” Robert paused for a moment in the telling with a twinkle in his eye. “I didn’t hesitate for a moment,” he said. “I just answered, ‘I can!’”

“We served meals in two shifts of more than 100 personnel at each sitting and had to make sure there were enough leftovers for anyone who came late.

There were five cooks on duty at all times and they rotated through the kitchen at various stations; one day I would prepare all the meats, another day I would work on vegetables or desserts.

We took turns. I can still remember the first time a General came through the line – he was first in line – but he ate the same regular breakfast as everyone else.”

Holiday meals were a bit more special. Tablecloths would adorn the tables and a special menu would be prepared.

One Thanksgiving Dinner included fresh shrimp cocktail, roast tom turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, lima beans, salads, hot rolls, pies, coffee, fruit, candies, and nuts.

Cooking in the field was different than cooking at the base and could be intense if supplies were low.

Robert remembered a certain mashed potato incident where kitchen magic, which will remain a secret, saved the day.

He remained in Darmstadt as a cook for the extent of his service, but was able to travel a bit in Germany and Holland and France. He found the rebuilding of Darmstadt, which was flattened by English bombs during WWII, fascinating. “I paid close attention to the placement of cobblestones and learned a bit about masonry as I watched them rebuild the city,” he said.

After his tour of duty, Robert returned to Eau Claire to help his father on the farm. He married Marie and moved to the Milwaukee area to work at American Motors. One day he saw a pamphlet that mentioned West Bend and he was intrigued. He and his wife decided to move here and they raised seven children together in West Bend. He found work at Simplicity in Port Washington and worked there until his retirement.

Robert is excited to have the opportunity to look around Washington DC, where he has never been before. His son Skip, of Eau Claire will be his guardian. His daughter Jane, of West Bend, is also going as the guardian of one of Robert’s closest friends.

Other Washington County veterans on Sunday’s flight include Don Gloede of West Bend a vehicle driver in the Army during the Korean War, Ron Zarling of West Bend, a record keeper in the Army during the Korean War, Ken Matheny of Hartford an MP in the Army during the Korean War, and Richard Schuetz who served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Former Packer Donald Driver in Hartford on Monday

Students at Hartford’s Central Middle School will have their green and gold on this Monday as former Green Bay Packer Donald Driver will be paying them a visit. This past April students in Hartford donated 164,170 items during the Goodwill Pack’er Up Donation Challenge. Hartford students competed against 717 schools and won a visit from the Super Bowl Champ. Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak will present the “key to the city” to Driver during the all-school assembly.

New signs for Pick ‘n Save

A rather interesting scenario of events on Tuesday as the new Meijer store opened on S. Main Street in West Bend. There was quite a bit of fanfare with a ribbon cutting and donations to the West Bend School District and the West Bend Parks Department.

While that was going on there was some activity to the north as Pick ‘n Save put up its new signage. The Kroger Co. took over Roundy’s last year and the two stores in West Bend are undergoing a major remodel. The sign change is part of the process along with revamping the interior.

Neighbors have noticed the floral department has been moved to the front of the store near the produce. There’s new shelving and signage and a brighter look to the entrance of the store, new self-check machines at the checkout and the pharmacy area and facade for the liquor department have been revamped.

New T-Mobile opening in West Bend

A new T-Mobile store is going to open next month in the West Bend Shopping Center. T-Mobile is a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services. There are a bunch of T-Mobile stores in the Milwaukee area. The new store in West Bend will be in the strip mall space to the north of Papa Murphy’s Pizza. It’s expected to open in June.

Town of Kewaskum approves a shelter for vulnerable men

There was quite a bit of debate Monday night at the Town of Kewaskum board meeting as members of the Plan Commission reviewed a conditional use permit for development of a Community Living Arrangement at 4265 County Highway H.

A public hearing before the Town Board started with a statement from Russ Wanta, executive director with Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties. Wanta talked about using the teachings of Jesus Christ to help rehabilitate men who may have strayed off a productive path in life.

Wanta and Kettlebrook pastor Troy Loether are the ones behind the Kairos Ranch; a property owned by Roger and Ann Neumann, is described as a “Community Living Arrangement consisting of a self-sustaining, self-funding Christian boarding house/transitional living ranch to reconcile vulnerable men to God.”

There were a number of people who spoke against the proposal as neighbors expressed concerns about safety, a drop in property values, and a lack of information on how the program would operate.

During the Town Board discussion Sandy Pasbrig brought up a number of issues including what the term “vulnerable man” actually meant.

There were also questions about the level of violent criminal past of some of the residents, how to screen potential residents with background checks, qualified staffing issues, neighborhood safety, how long a resident would be at the facility, and how contact with law enforcement would be measured.

After two hours of discussion the Plan Commission added several stipulations to the original proposal and then voted 6 – 1 to allow the proposal to move forward. Pasbrig was the only dissenting vote. The Town Board voted 3 – 0 and passed the proposal.

After the meeting Rick Martens, who lives next to the property, spoke about his displeasure. “Ultimately from day one they hung ‘religion’ on it and at that point the board’s hands were tied,” he said. “I’m dead set against it … but it is what it is. They’re going to bring in the felons and just at the end of the day this was pushed down our throats.”

Bonnie Will lives adjacent to the property on Highway H. She said she wished she had been notified about the proposal. “I would just like to know more about it,” she said. “We’ve been neighbors with Neumanns forever and I just feel hurt they couldn’t explain or stop in and just stay something to us to let us know what’s happening.”

After the meeting Loether said he is excited but he also wants to do right by the community. “We want to address any concerns people have,” he said. “They expressed valid concerns tonight and we want to make sure we have our team ready to go and work hard toward that end.”

Loether said the home needs some rehab and this will take some time just to get things going.

Cedar Lake Yacht Club

A large gathering at Cedar Lake Yacht Club on Saturday for the dedication of a 1941 Wooden Palmer C Scow that now hangs in the foyer of the club. Bruce Rosenheimer and Hugh Wakefield relayed details about the restored wood sea boat that belonged to the Wrigley family. The boat had been in storage 70 years and was rescued by Wakefield, restored and sold to Rosenheimer who donated it to the club.  Olympic gold medal winner and National Sailing Hall of Famer Harry “Buddy” Melges, Jr. was the guest speaker at the dedication.

West Bend Memorial Day details

The Memorial Day parade in West Bend will step off at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 29 and head north from South Main Street and Oak Street to Hickory Street and back down Sixth Avenue to Poplar Street. A ceremony will follow in the old Courthouse Square. That program begins at 11 a.m. and will feature World War II veteran Allan Kieckhafer as master of ceremonies. Other tributes will include a tribute to the American flag, Preamble of the Constitution, Gettysburg Address, a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field” and performances by the West Bend High School Band and the River City Irregulars. In case of inclement weather the ceremony will move into the second floor chambers at the Old County Courthouse.

Staffing firm to open in former Ole’ Time Cleaners

Alliances Services, Inc. is moving from the Industrial Park in Jackson into the former Ol Tyme Cleaners, 910 S. Main Street in West Bend.

“We’re a health care staffing firm,” said owner and director of nursing Georgianna Dee. “We staff .long term facilities including Cedar Community, Lasata, The Pavilion at Glacier Valley in Slinger and major hospitals in Wisconsin including Aurora, Ascension and University of Wisconsin Hospital.”

Alliance Services, Inc. has been in business 17 years. Dee said they have between 100 active staff and over 300 in their data base. “I used to live in West Bend and when I saw there was a building available I got excited because I like the community, especially the restaurants,” said Dee. Watch for new signage to go up shortly at Alliances Services, Inc.

Teens arrested for vandalism to Downtown West Bend Theatre

West Bend Police have taken four teens into custody in connection with a storyWashingtonCountyInsider.com reported on Tuesday about vandalism to the downtown West Bend Theatre, 125 N. Main Street.

On Tuesday May 16 2017 at 8:45 a.m., a City of West Bend employee found the rear door to the downtown West Bend Theatre unlocked. Police checked the building and observed thousands of old movie tickets scattered throughout the building and found numerous shattered light bulbs on the floor. Investigators identified four suspects; an 18-year-old male, a 15-year-old male, and two 14-year-old males.

On Wednesday, May 17, West Bend Police took the four suspects into custody for Entry to Locked Building and Criminal Damage to Property. A request for charges against the adult was sent to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office and the three juveniles were referred to Juvenile Authorities.

Updates & tidbits     

-There is a ribbon cutting May 31 at the new Delta Defense headquarters on Freedom Way. The ceremony starts at 3 p.m. with a building blessing by Rev. Nathan Reesman followed by comments from USCCA’s Tim Schmidt, Mayor Kraig Sadownikow and Senator Ron Johnson.

– The Richfield Historical Society invites you to “Never Curse the Rain” by Jerry Apps, on Thursday, May 25, at 7 p.m., at the Richfield Fire Hall, 2008 State Road 175. Admission is free and open to the Richfield Historical Society Members.

-Steve Wietor from Roffler Styling sold his property, 403 S. Seventh Avenue, to Kand’E Shop LLC for $147,000. The assessed value is $147,900.

-There are 59 new units being added in Phase II construction at Cast Iron Luxury Living in West Bend.  Phase II is officially over 25% pre-leased. Cast Iron is located in the former West Bend Company building. An opening celebration of Phase II is scheduled for Saturday, August 12. It will feature a pig roast with live entertainment.

-The annual Dancing for a Difference was last Friday at the Chandelier Ballroom in Hartford. The fundraiser for Citizen Advocates of Washington County featured Christophe Jenkins, Abbey Boehm, Mary Beth Emmer, Austin Luedtke, Amy Zimmer, Scott Bicknell, Amy Pingel Schultz, Sue Bietsch, Bonnie Heshelman and a performance by special ‘mystery dancer’ Scott Lopas. The winner of the Popular Vote Trophy was Amy Zimmer and Scott Bicknell had a perfect 30 and was the winner of the Technical Trophy.

Pilot Removes Testicles

Odd story of the day.

DENVER – Police say a man faces felony assault charges after he used an Army surgical kit to remove the testicles of a transgender woman.

According to court paperwork, James Pennington, 57, confessed to removing those testicles. Police called Pennington after the victim was taken to an area hospital. Pennington willingly agreed to a police interview on May 17, at the District 3 headquarters.

He has since been arrested and is being held without bond.

Records say during that interview, Pennington told investigators he agreed to perform the medical procedure at the victim’s apartment in Denver.

[…]

Police say Pennington is not a licensed medical professional in Colorado. He is a licensed pilot.

Another Oval Office conversation Leaked

Since practically everything Trump allegedly has said to foreigners from the Oval Office has been leaked, one would think that he would have narrowed down the culprit by now. I don’t care how scandalous you think these comments are (and they aren’t), it is unacceptable that people are leaking the president’s Oval Office conversations.

WASHINGTON — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

Weiner Pleads Guilty to Soliciting Child

Scum.

Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman and estranged husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, tearfully admitted today to a federal judge that he sent obscene material to a 15-year-old high school student in North Carolina, the same day Abedin filed for divorce from him.

Weiner, who turned himself into the FBI, pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor. This afternoon a court official confirmed that Abedin filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. The divorce is uncontested.

Weiner agreed to surrender his iPhone as part of the plea agreement and he must register as a sex offender.

With the stories about Bill Clinton hanging out with child sex predators, it is quite unusual that so many of these kinds of people end up in the Clinton orbit.

“Sources Say”

Hey look… another hit piece from CNN’s anonymous sources. Neat.

Washington (CNN)Russian officials bragged in conversations during the presidential campaign that they had cultivated a strong relationship with former Trump adviser retired Gen. Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team, sources told CNN.

The conversations deeply concerned US intelligence officials, some of whom acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump’s national security adviser, current and former governments officials said.
“This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.

Nass Pushes Back on Taxpayer Bailout for UWO Foundation

Nass is spot on.

Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) on Thursday released a letter he wrote to Cross that states he’s aware of efforts to reach a deal that potentially would use public funds “to assist in what would be a bailout” of debts of the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.

“I am aware that such a bailout might need action by the Legislature to include elements of a deal in the 2017-’19 biennial budget,” Nass wrote. He said he hoped no one involved planned to “rush a bailout that benefits the private foundation and the banks/investors involved at the expense of the taxpayers or students.”

He urged Cross “to keep your commitment that the public won’t be forced to fund the inappropriate decisions of two campus administrators and the failed oversight of the System.”

[…]

At issue is the fact UW-Oshkosh’s private fundraising foundation does not have enough cash to cover $14.5 million in debt for several real estate projects under investigation by the state Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice is negotiating the settlement on behalf of the UW System and Board of Regents.

The UW-Oshkosh projects were the subject of a suit the UW System filed in January against former Chancellor Richard Wells and his chief business officer, Thomas Sonnleitner, for allegedly funneling millions of dollars in university money into real estate projects through the private foundation to push that work despite a weak economy.

The UW System ideally wants the UW-Oshkosh Foundation to remain solvent so that its assets are not frozen or at risk. That includes scholarship support for students. The UW-Oshkosh Foundation in fiscal 2016 provided $1.3 million in scholarships.

Note that despite the name, the UW-Oshkosh Foundation is a private organization that raises money to support UWO. There’s no good reason for the taxpayers to be on the hook for their bankruptcy.

Ending a Student Loan Forgiveness Plan?

There are a lot of lessons in this.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program promises to cancel any remaining student debt for those who work for the government or nonprofits if they have been making on-time payments for 10 years. Many teachers, public defenders, Peace Corps workers, and law enforcement officers fit the qualifications.

This October marks the 10th year of the program and the first time anyone will have made enough payments to get their debt wiped away. It’s unclear how much the program will cost the government when its starts to forgive those debts.

The program has been shrouded in some uncertainty for months.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Education is planning to propose ending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

[…]

“It would be absolutely detrimental to those of us who have planned our lives around this program. It would be the equivalent of pulling the rug out from under us,” said Daniel J. Crooks III, a government attorney who is expecting loan forgiveness from the public service program in six years.

He currently has more than $300,000 in student debt — after making payments for the past four years. He’s moved states to get a better job that still qualifies him for the debt relief.

[…]

The program could cost the government more than originally expected, according to the Government Accountability Office. The Obama Administration had proposed capping the amount borrowers could have forgiven at $57,500, but that proposal was never approved and forgiveness remains unlimited.

Lesson #1: This is a poorly conceived government program. The intent is not too insane. It is simply a taxpayer subsidy for people to go into fields of work that the government deems necessary. In fact, this program starts out well because the subsidy doesn’t kick in until after a decade of the person actually working in the requisite field. That’s much better than paying it up front.

Unfortunately, the rules are unclear and difficult to follow. People are investing a lot of time and borrowing a lot of money on faith that they are in compliance. Then, there isn’t a cap. What’s with the guy borrowing $300k and expecting the taxpayers to pay for it? Are we really that short of government lawyers?

Lesson #2: Woe to those who trust the government. People are borrowing thousands of dollars, planning their jobs, moving, etc. based on this government handout, and it could disappear overnight. I hope those folks have a Plan B.

Lesson #3: Good intentions can have bad consequences. While it may be in the public interest for the taxpayers to subsidize people entering into government or non-profit jobs (I question that interest, but I’ll be generous), doing so has other effects. How many people took on stupid debt for worthless degrees because they figured the taxpayers would pay it off? How many people are puttering away in a government job to get their loans paid when there are other industries desperate for workers? How many government employees went back to school for a degree they didn’t need because they expected it to be “free?”

Lesson #4: Times change, but government programs don’t. Let’s be generous again and assume that at the time this was passed, we were desperate for government and non-profit workers. Are we still? Are there other industries that could use some taxpayer support to funnel workers their way? Should we cut off the subsidy for government workers and instead move the same money to forgive loans for people who get tech degrees? Naaaahhhh… government doesn’t do that.

Women Dropping out of Work in India

Fascinating.

But they may not be the only reasons. Marriage, for example, does affect the rate of participation of women in the workforce. But in villages, the workforce participation rate of married women has been found to be higher than that of unmarried women – whereas in the cities, the situation is reversed.

Significantly, rising aspirations and relative prosperity may be actually responsible for putting a large cohort of women out of work in India.

Remember, the largest drop has been in the villages.

After calculating the labour force participation rates and educational participation rates (young women in schools) the researchers believe that one plausible explanation for the drop in the participation rate among rural girls and women aged 15-24 is the recent expansion of secondary education and rapidly changing social norms leading to “more working age young females opting to continue their education rather than join the labour force early”.

The study says there has been a “larger response to income changes among the poor, rather than the wealthy, by sending children to school”.

Also, casual workers – mainly women – drop out of the workforce when wages increased for regular earners – mainly men – leading to the stabilisation of family incomes.

Mistake to Appoint Special Counsel

I agree with the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board on Wednesday called having a special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election a “mistake.”

The newspaper’s editorial followed the Justice Department’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to that role earlier Wednesday.

“These expeditions rarely end well for anyone, and Democrats are hoping this one will bedevil the Trump Administration for the next four years,” the editorial board said. “The problem with special counsels, as we’ve learned again and again, is that they are by definition politically unaccountable,” it added. “What the country really needs is a full accounting of how the Russians tried to influence the election and whether any Americans assisted them.

Now we have three investigations going for the same thing. If the outcome is anything other than criminal charges against the president and his close aides, the Democrats and media will not be satisfied. So what’s the point? Let’s just let the other two investigations run their course.

In the meantime, can the Republicans in Congress please pass some legislation? Tax reform? Obamacare repeal? Anyone?

Republican Agenda Slipping Away

It appears that the Republicans in Washington have no capacity to lead and pass their rhetorical agenda.

Despite the flurry of activity, the prospects of quick action on taxes are dim because Congress has so many other things to deal with. Mr. Trump is expected to release a budget next week. That will set off a new debate about cuts to domestic programs and increases in military and border security spending for 2018. Congress faces an October deadline to pass a funding bill for next year. Otherwise, parts of the government will shut down.

Republicans in Congress must separately approve a budget resolution this summer if they want to use the reconciliation process to pass a tax overhaul with a simple majority in the Senate. That will determine the scope of the tax legislation that Republicans can pursue if they choose to exclude Democrats from the process. Health care legislation that is being put together in the Senate could lead to additional delays.

And to top things off, Republicans and Democrats must reach a deal this fall over raising the debt ceiling.

“I’m not optimistic that we can have actual legislation on the president’s desk in calendar year 2017,” said G. William Hoagland, vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former director of the Senate Budget Committee. “There are a lot of other things on their plate, and they don’t have that many days left.”

2018 is shaping up as a Democratic sweep. Who will turn out to support a party that can’t get anything done even when they own Congress and the Presidency?