State Projects Larger Surplus

Remember, this is just a forecast, but it’s positive nonetheless.

[Madison, Wisc…]  The Legislative Fiscal Bureau had good news for the State of Wisconsin on Wednesday morning when it announced the state is on track to end the biennium with $137.5 million more in the general fund than originally estimated just four months ago.

In September, when the 2017-19 budget was passed, LFB estimated the state would end the 2019 fiscal year with $247.7 million. Now LFB predicts it will be $385.2 million.

The increase is expected to come from $76.3 million more in tax collections, $1.7 million more in departmental revenues, $97.7 million in lower spending, and a $38.2 million transfer to the budget stabilization fund.

The lower spending mostly comes from debt service adjustments. The state did some refinancing and is not issuing as many new bonds as expected.

West Bend School Board Quorum at Convention

This is interesting.


The deal is that four members of the West Bend School Board are attending this convention. That constitutes a quorum of the School Board, so they rightfully posted it. But this seems to violate Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law which states:

19.81 (2) To implement and ensure the public policy herein expressed, all meetings of all state and local governmental bodies shall be publicly held in places reasonably accessible to members of the public and shall be open to all citizens at all times unless otherwise expressly provided by law.

Is this conference generally open to the public? Can I just go sit in the meetings and watch? Is a meeting in Milwaukee “reasonable accessible to members of the public” from the West Bend School District?

It would seem prudent for one of the school board members to hang back to avoid any legal risk to the district.

Apple Investing in America

Wow. That’s a big pile of money.

Apple will pay about $38bn (£27.3bn) in tax on the roughly $250bn cash pile it holds outside the US following recent changes to American tax rules.

The sum is expected to be the biggest payment under the reforms, which slash the US corporate tax rate.

The tech giant also plans to build a new campus and create 20,000 new jobs in the US.

Apple said its plans would contribute more than $350bn to the US economy over the next five years.

The company has not said how much of its cash abroad would be brought back to the US.

Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is “focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation”.

Another Member of Administration Resigns

In the West Bend School District

Jan. 17, 2018 – West Bend, WI – Hired in August 2017, Russell Holbrook the assistant superintendent for HR and operations, has now announced his resignation.

According to a memo from Laura Jackson, superintendent of teaching and learning in the West Bend School District, “Russell Holbrook announced his resignation which will go to the School Board on Monday, January 22, 2018. More information about the transition in leadership will be shared following the School Board meeting.”

The memo continued, “We appreciate the effort Russ Holbrook gave as he served in the role of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Operations.”

Calls have been place to the district for more information about the reason behind the resignation.

Holbrook was hired after Chief Operating Officer Valley Elliehausen and Director of Accountability and Assessment Kurt Becker resigned in June 2017.  Elliehausen had been with the district since 1997.

Holbrook was also spearheading the new teacher compensation plan that they were working on for next school year.

Gundrum Wins in the 58th

As expected, Republican Rick Gundrum won in the 58th. Congratulations!

The results of the election were interesting. As I suspected might happen, the Democrats had a much stronger showing than they normally do in the 58th. Turnout was a mere 12.49% and Gundrum won the race 56.56% to 43.37%. Bear in mind that this is a district that is about 70% Republican. In a low turnout race, the Democrats are clearly more motivated.

Also interesting is that the Democrat actually won West Bend. Dennis Denigenhardt pulled in 1,279 votes to Gundrum’s 1,270 in the City of West Bend.

Also, the Democrats won a Wisconsin Senate seat in a pink district. Does this signal the coming of a Blue Wave in November? Should Walker be more worried about reelection? Will the Conservative Revolution in Wisconsin be coming to an end?

It’s going to be an interesting year.

Go Vote!

There’s a special election in the 58th Assembly District today.


Americans see immediate impact from tax reform

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

Even the most optimistic of supporters of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” President Trump signed into law just before Christmas did not anticipate the immediate and substantial impact it would have in the lives of so many low income and middle class Americans. American businesses are racing to announce their plans for their tax savings and over two million Americans are already going to receive a substantial bonus thanks to tax reform.

There were two major thrusts of the Republican tax reform plan, but they rested on the same principle. That principle is that the quickest path to economic growth and prosperity for individual Americans is to allow them to keep more of their own money and spend it where they choose. This principle runs contrary to the totalitarian notion that has been popular in the past several years that a group of central planners should collect Americans’ wealth through forced taxation and redistribute it back into the economy as they see fit.

The first thrust of the tax reform plan was a reform of individual taxes to allow Americans to send less money to Washington. Individual tax rates were lowered, the standard deduction was raised, the Obamacare individual mandate was repealed, the child tax credit was increased and other changes were made to the tax laws with the goal of lowering the overall tax burden for most taxpayers.

The effect of these changes has yet to be seen. Americans are likely to see more take home pay beginning in February as the IRS adjusts withholding schedules to take less money out for the federal government. Some of the benefits of this part of the tax reform law will not be seen until 2019 when Americans file their federal taxes. As 2018 progresses, millions and millions of Americans will have a little more money in their pockets to spend on their priorities — not the priorities of politicians in Washington.

The second major thrust of the Republican tax reform plan was to lower taxes on American businesses. Corporate taxes have been lowered from the confiscatory maximum of 35 percent to a more average 21 percent. The new law also lowered taxes for other business entities like sole proprietorships and partnerships. The new law made modifications to how businesses depreciate capital investments and changed the United States to a territorial tax system to make it easier for businesses to move their foreign earnings back to our shores.

While many of the tax savings for businesses will also not be realized for a while, businesses are already announcing their plans to invest the savings in their employees, infrastructure and elsewhere. Americans for Tax Reform has been keeping a tally of the announcements. Here are a few examples:

 Aflac is increasing its 401(k) match from 50 percent to 100 percent and kicking $500 into every employee’s 401(k);

 U.S. Bancorp is giving a $1,000 bonus to 60,000 employees, raising their base wage to $15 an hour and is giving $150 million to charities;

 Southwest Airlines is giving a $1,000 bonus to all of its 55,000 employees and $5 million additional charitable donations;

 PNC is giving $1,000 bonuses to 47,500 employees, kicking in $1,500 to each employee’s pension accounts, raising their base wage to $15 an hour and giving $200 million to charities

 Nationwide Insurance is giving a $1,000 bonus to 29,000 employees and increasing 401(k) matching contributions for 33,000 employees;

 Fiat Chrysler is giving a $2,000 bonus to 60,000 employees and investing $1 billion in a factory in Michigan — creating 2,500 new jobs;

 Waste Management Inc. is giving $2,000 bonuses to 34,000 employees The list goes on and on. The reasons are quite simple. Businesses operate in a competitive environment and need to invest their profits into their employees and infrastructure in order to remain competitive. And contrary to the demonizing rhetoric of Democrats, most businesses are run by decent people who do want to improve the world around them.

As tens of millions of Americans see their wages increase, receive bonuses, and spend less on taxes thanks to the Republican’s tax reform law, they will invest that money into their own lives in a billion different ways. Some will spend a little more on their kids. Some will think about starting a business. Some will give a bit more to charity. Some will buy ammo. Some will blow it on lottery tickets and booze. The point is, however, that individual Americans will be making their own choices to benefit their own lives.

And come November, I suspect that many Americans will remember that not a single Democrat voted to allow Americans to keep more of their own money.


Kennedy Storms Out of Candidate Forum

Despite Kennedy’s emotional outburst, Ives is largely correct.

Democratic governor contender Chris Kennedy abruptly left a candidate forum Monday, criticizing Republican candidate Jeanne Ives for what he called “ignorance and stupidity” after she said Chicago’s gun violence could be solved if more fathers stayed in the home.

The controversy came when Ives, a three-term conservative lawmaker from Wheaton who is challenging Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, responded to a question on curbing gun crimes.

“The problem is the gun violence in this city of Chicago, predominantly. And you know how you’re going to solve it? Fathers in the home,” she said. As the audience booed and shouted, she repeated, “Fathers in the home.”

Kennedy later got his turn to respond.

“Well, I wish I could agree with you. I didn’t have a father in my life. Somebody shot him,” Kennedy, the son of the assassinated former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, said to Ives before he left the forum amid applause and a standing ovation from hundreds of attendees.


As expected, Ives was frequently at odds with the Democratic candidates, and she occasionally drew the scorn of the audience as she repeatedly suggested city and county residents share in the blame for such issues as crime, high taxes and a lack of quality public education because they re-elect Democrats.

“That is your problem. Your taxes are too high and opportunity’s not here,” she said. “We need jobs and opportunity, and we’re not going to get that if you keep electing these same people as before.”


“You know, some stuff hits a raw nerve and, um, I think that should be a debate about great ideas, a clash, and not one of emotions,” Kennedy said as he exited about an hour into the 90-minute forum.

Oh, the irony that Kennedy decries a clash of emotions as he makes a direct emotional appeal without offering a single idea of his own. Meanwhile, Ives is correctly identifying some of the societal causes of violence. And the folks of Chicago wonder why so much of the city has become a s***hole.


Shelby Steele: “The oppression of black people is over with”

Shelby Steele has a powerfully thought-provoking column in the Wall Street Journal on this Martin Luther King Day. Read the whole thing.

What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise.

Of course this does not mean there is no racism left in American life. Racism is endemic to the human condition, just as stupidity is. We will always have to be on guard against it. But now it is recognized as a scourge, as the crowning immorality of our age and our history.

Protest always tries to make a point. But what happens when that point already has been made—when, in this case, racism has become anathema and freedom has expanded?

What happened was that black America was confronted with a new problem: the shock of freedom. This is what replaced racism as our primary difficulty. Blacks had survived every form of human debasement with ingenuity, self-reliance, a deep and ironic humor, a capacity for self-reinvention and a heroic fortitude. But we had no experience of wide-open freedom.

Watch out that you get what you ask for, the saying goes. Freedom came to blacks with an overlay of cruelty because it meant we had to look at ourselves without the excuse of oppression. Four centuries of dehumanization had left us underdeveloped in many ways, and within the world’s most highly developed society. When freedom expanded, we became more accountable for that underdevelopment. So freedom put blacks at risk of being judged inferior, the very libel that had always been used against us.

Getting Personal in the UK

And you thought American politics were raucous.

The leader of the UK Independence Party has broken up with his girlfriend following revelations of her shocking comments about American actress Meghan Markle.

“I don’t defend these comments whatsoever,” UKIP leader Henry Bolton, 54, said on “Good Morning Britain” on Monday.

Bolton said the “romantic side” of his relationship with Jo Marney, a 25-year-old model, ended Sunday night after a “long and upsetting conversation” for both of them.

“At the moment it is obviously quite incompatible to continue the relationship,” he said. But “I’m going to be continuing to support her family because Jo is absolutely distraught by this.”

The split followed an uproar over Facebook messages Marney sent to a friend about Markle, who will marry Prince Harry this spring. Marney described Markle as a “dumb little commoner,” and called black people “ugly.” She also said Markle would “taint” the royal family and pave the way for a “black king.”

When a person responded to the comments by calling them racist, Marney answered: “So what?” the BBC reported.

The Humble, Much-Maligned Rat

Misplaced blame?

Rats were not to blame for the spread of plague during the Black Death, according to a study.

The rodents and their fleas were thought to have spread a series of outbreaks in 14th-19th Century Europe.

But a team from the universities of Oslo and Ferrara now says the first, the Black Death, can be “largely ascribed to human fleas and body lice”.

The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, uses records of its pattern and scale.

The Black Death claimed an estimated 25 million lives, more than a third of Europe’s population, between 1347 and 1351.

Hijab Attack Didn’t Happen

It seems that we have more fake hate crimes like this than actual hate crimes.

Canadian police say an alleged scissor attack on an 11-year-old girl’s hijab never happened.

The girl made headlines last week after she said a man came up to her and tried to cut her hijab off.

Toronto police now say the incident, which they were treating as a hate crime, “did not happen”.

The investigation sparked a national outcry, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed his concern on Twitter.

“After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described in the original news release did not happen,” the police said in a brief press release on Monday morning. “The investigation is concluded.”

Wisconsin Considers Direct Primary Care Reform

Better care? Lower cost? Sign me up.

The Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations on Thursday heard testimony on a bill authorizing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to launch a direct primary care pilot program in BadgerCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

Direct primary care is a method of delivering health care in which patients pay their primary care doctors directly via a monthly fee, bypassing traditional health insurance that can obscure the actual costs of procedures. Since patients are paying cash, there’s significant downward pressure on prices.

“Price transparency means patients see a significant savings with the DPC model. Some DPC providers are successfully delivering care resulting in savings of 15-30 percent,” the bill’s author, Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), told the committee.

That kind of cost reduction means that implementing direct primary care into the state’s behemoth Medicaid program would be a taxpayer windfall.

“Medicaid spending has continued to balloon, accounting for almost 20 percent of our entire state budget, so it’s obviously an issue that we have,” Kapenga said. Total Medical Assistance payments in Wisconsin have soared from $4.7 billion in 2004 to nearly $9.2 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.


“The first several months I was practicing in this model of healthcare, I was surprised by the number of people who came to see me who had not seen a physician in ten to 20 years,” Dr. Suzanne Gehl, a direct primary care physician in Delafield, told the committee. “We were diagnosing high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and cancer at unbelievable rates,” she said.

Once patients familiarize themselves with the direct primary care system, with its more personalized approach eschewing large hospitals and cumbersome health insurance paperwork, they quickly realize the benefits.

“The thing that amazed me is once you removed the barrier of cost and access, how quickly we were able to get these conditions under good control and help them navigate the healthcare system in a very efficient and cost saving manner,” Gehl said.

“Pushed the wrong button”

Wanna get away?

Washington (CNN)An emergency alert notification sent out on Saturday claiming a “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii” was a false alarm, according to state leaders and emergency officials.

While the message caused concern on social media, the Hawaii Office of Emergency Management quickly responded on Twitter, saying, “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”
Hawaii Gov. David Ige told CNN that human error caused the alert to go out.
“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” he said.

Where are the Liberal Companies?

I was scrolling through the list of American businesses that have announced employee bonueses, wage increases, etc. after the Republican tax reform was signed into law. Something stands out… where are all of the liberal companies? Where is Google? Facebook? Twitter? Uber? Penzeys? Berkshire Hathaway? Microsoft? Progressive? GEICO? Apple? Etc.

Are the owners of these companies just going to stuff their tax savings in their pockets? Why aren’t they announcing plans to give that money to their employees? Or investing in their American facilities? Or giving some to charities?

Their absence is rather conspicuous.

Will a Democrat Win in the 58th?

I think there’s a decent chance of it. As I stated in my column last week, this is the perfect environment for lightning to strike.

Wisconsin’s 58th Assembly District is overwhelming Republican. It is considered one of the safest Republican seats in the nation. With the perception of safety comes the false hubris of certainty. While the district is overwhelmingly Republican, there is a passionate, organized liberal pocket in the district too. They have been successful in getting board members elected to local boards in the district and have even turned those boards liberal from time to time.

The special election for the 58th has some unique conditions that make a Democrat win more likely than it has perhaps ever been. First, the Democrat candidate, Dennis Degenhardt, is a credible, decent, reasonable man with strong private sector credentials. While I may disagree with him politically, he is not a loon or fruitcake like the Democrats usually run in a throwaway race.

Second, Degenhardt has also been working hard to win. At this level of politics, it is often the hardest worker who wins. It’s the candidate who is knocking on doors, shaking hands, attending Rotary meetings, and everything else that goes into retail politics who carries the day. It is work that takes place below the radar, but has a huge impact in a low turnout race.

Third, the Democrats in Washington County are motivated to express their anger about Trump, Walker, and the like. I expect there to be a large turnout among Democrats. Imagine how gratifying it would be for them to win a seat in the heart of Republican country.

Fourth, with motivated Democrats and complacent Republicans, the math favors the Democrats. This special election is the only thing on the ballot and it is off cycle. It’s the middle of a cold January, we are expecting a snow storm on Monday, and everyone just assumes that the Republican will win. Turnout will be low – likely less than 15%. Only the hyper-motivated and habitual voters are likely to turnout.

So let’s do some simple math… There are about 37,000 voters in the 58th. Let’s assume that 75% of them are Republicans and 25% of them are Democrats. That makes 9,250 Democrats and 27,750 Republicans. 15% overall turnout would be 5,550 votes cast in the race. If the Republican turnout is 10%, that’s 2,775 votes cast. If the Democrats turn out a mere 30% of their voters, that is also 2,775 votes cast. One more vote and the Democrats win. And given the tempo I’m feeling from the Democrats in the district, I think that 30% turnout for them is low.

If I were an odds maker, I’d give the Democrats a 40% chance of winning in the 58th next week. And if they do, it will be interpreted as signaling an anti-Trump Democratic wave in this election cycle and it will be national news.


Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery in WB officially closed 

Word circulated around West Bend on Monday, Jan. 8 about the closure of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, 2400 W. Washington St. A manager at the store confirmed the business had closed. The property is owned by Mizpah Beach Properties LP of San Diego, California.  The property was purchased Aug. 1, 2006 for $1,807,024.

The Perkins franchise is owned by Pat Correll with CBT. Correll said corporate Perkins is mandating a remodel be completed by December 2018.

“That means franchisees like myself have to remodel all of our stores to their specifications by 2018 and that probably contributed to our decision at this time that it was not economically feasible at that location to move forward,” Correll said.

CBT leased the location since Rocky Rococo closed in late 1990. “I’ve been in there about 28 years as a Perkins,” Correll said. CBT has eight other Perkins locations in the Greater Milwaukee area. “Those locations will be in the process of remodeling however the West Bend location did not make the cut,” he said.

Staff said it was extremely surprised by the news and they didn’t know. There was a note on the door of the business Monday, Jan. 8 notifying customers the location, 2400 W. Washington St., was to close “permanently!!!!!”

Neighbors are starting to ask about gift cards. Those can be used at other Perkins outlets including those in Milwaukee on Port Washington Road and in West Allis.

UPDATE | Just four short days since the news broke there is some scuttlebutt about other interested parties moving into the location.

The closure of Perkins follows another restaurant closure in that area as Mother’s Day Restaurant, 501 Wildwood Road, closed its doors Oct. 17, 2017. Owner Sam Fejzuli said he had trouble getting employees and it was also difficult to “keep everybody happy.”

On a history note: Perkins restaurant was built in 1990 and prior to that, according to the city assessor’s office, the location used to be home to Pizza Slices Inc., which did business as Rocky Rococo in May 1985. In June 1988 Pizza Slices Inc. sold to RAL West Bend Inc. and it sold again in 1991 to Julia E. Schloemer.

Deer Management

There are two more days left in the Deer Management Program in West Bend as bow hunters try to trim the deer population by about 40. Five hunters qualified to take part in the program and after two days they’ve managed to harvest one deer.

“Nobody’s seen a thing today,” said Brad Zuba about his hunt at Lac Lawrann Conservancy. “But then Jeff and I walked out to Schmidt Road down that trail and we saw 20 deer. But we saw nothing sitting in the woods.”

Zuba said it was raining most of the afternoon on Thursday and deer normally hunker down in the thick brush off Schmidt Road. “They should be out moving again tomorrow,” said Zuba. “We just have to wait and see what the weather does. If it gets cold again they’ll be moving around.”

The five-day Deer Management Hunt runs from Jan. 10 – 14. Zuba said they had deer standing right in front of them when they put up their tree stands.

“Actually when it gets cold and freezes again that’ll be good because right now it’s so swampy,” he said. The park is closed to the public Jan. 10 – 14. Bow hunters will be able to keep only one deer; the others will be donated to the local food pantries and processing will be covered by the DNR.

The goal of the pilot hunt is to manage the deer population. The hunters were given 8 permits each for a total of 40 deer. There was also encouragement to collaborate during the hunt.

Hunters have to notify West Bend Police before going into the park and call again when they exit the park. Hunters are able to bait the deer with two gallons of corn per person.  Zuba said they set it out and it’s gone the next day.

“There are a lot of deer in there,” he said. “We’ve got two more days and we’ll hit it hard Saturday and Sunday.” A follow-up meeting will be Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. at West Bend City Hall.

Washington County Breakfast on the Farm

The 31st annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm will be at Gehring View Farms this year, 4630 Highway 83 in Hartford. The host family will be Eugene and Christine Gehring and their family Derik, Jordan and Emily. This year’s Breakfast will be Saturday, June 9.

Power outages in Washington Co. will sound like a story in The Onion

There were 1,400 people in West Bend and Kewaskum without power this afternoon… and the reason for the outage is going to sound like a story out of The Onion. “It started at 11:15 a.m. around a power pole on County Road H and Badger Road,” said We Energies media relations Amy Jahns. “That was the source of the issue that caused the fire.”

Neighbors chimed in on Washington County Insider on Facebook that Moraine Park Technical College lost power just after 11 a.m.  The school was running on a generator. Motorists said the traffic lights were out on Highway 33 all the way from 18th and Chestnut to the Villa Park subdivision to the new Russ Darrow Nissan dealership and in Kewaskum.

Jahns said they’ve been seeing similar instances all over southeastern Wisconsin.

“When the weather is warmer with moisture in the air and there’s a lot of road salt, that moisture and road salt can mix and when it gets kicked up onto the power poles it becomes a conductor,” she said. “The electricity is already going through that equipment and sometimes the poles catch fire and that’s what we saw at this particular location.”

Jahns said there have been a dozen such power pole fires since Wednesday, Jan. 10. “We normally see this in the spring time but with the warm up and moisture we had over the past two days we’re seeing it a lot more frequently,” she said.

For the past few weeks much of Wisconsin has been in a deep freeze. On Sunday warmer temps gradually moved into the area and neighbors enjoyed comfortable 40s and even 50 degrees. Late Thursday afternoon there was consistent precipitation and temps dropped dramatically. The National Weather Service is reporting teens through the weekend.

Last day for Book World in West Bend

In October, 2017 the announcement was made that Book World, 1602 S. Main Street, in West Bend was closing.  Actually Book World announced it would close all 45 stores in seven states.

Book World, which touts itself as ‘family owned since 1976,’ opened its store in the Paradise Pavilion in August 2014. The last day for the store in West Bend will be Friday, Jan. 19.

“Since the liquidation sale was announced on Nov. 1, the incredible support of our loyal customers has allowed us to be one of the last stores closed in our chain,” said store manager Dr. Robert Burg. “That is a true testament to the relationship we have had with the larger community and we remain very thankful for that.”  Burg will oversee operations and the deeply-discounted store sales including store fixtures, until end of business at 8 p.m. on Jan. 19.

West Bend East Dance Team shows support for its No. 1 fan

The West Bend East Dance Team gathered Thursday afternoon at Vanity Salon in West Bend to show its support for their No. 1 fan. Cindy Manthey, grandmother of Dance Team sophomore Brianna Vitkus, was recently diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer.

With chemotherapy on the horizon, Manthey was on her way to the salon to have her head shaved when she was surprised by the girls from the Dance Team.

As Manthey opened the door she was greeted by a flurry of bright pink pompoms and high-pitched squeals and cheers from the girls who offered support on Manthey’s journey.

“I think she’ll be better knowing we’re here to support her through this journey,” said Vitkus.

Vanity Salon stylist Sam Kempf donated her time to Manthey to help ease her into her medical transition. “This is a very emotional time but it’s also pretty inspiring to see how strong some people can be and it’s cool to see how everyone can be supportive,” Kempf said.

Manthey was brought to tears with all the attention. “This is actually very uplifting,” she said.

At the end of the evening Manthey penned a note of thanks.

“Going to get your hair cut preparing for chemo doesn’t seem too exciting UNLESS you have the whole West Bend East Varsity Dance Teamthere to surprise you with pompoms and all! I can’t say enough about coach Kaylee and these special young ladies. Thank you so much for taking time to support me. And just to arrange this wonderful evening – so amazing! And special thanks to my daughter, Laura. Still not sure how she and Brianna kept the secret! That goes for Cambrey and Blake, too!

All of you have given me more than meets the eye. You have given me the feeling of being truly loved and cared for and that is forever in my heart.

And that goes for Vanity Salon LLC, too. They generously donated pink hair extensions for each of the girls. Aly donated her time to deck the girls out with them. And Sam donated her time to give me the cutest hair cut ever! Absolutely LOVE it!

Thank you all for giving so kindly… and for caring. I will remember this forever.

Parents express concern about Privilege Test at Badger School

The White Privilege Test that became a hot topic of discussion prior to the Christmas break, came up again during the public comment section of Monday’s West Bend School Board meeting.

The test was given Dec. 20 to about 150 students at Badger Middle School.  Some parents in the district were upset about the line of questions and what they had to do with education.

Principal Dave Uelmen followed up with a note saying, “During the lesson, some classrooms deployed an optional, anonymous survey that was not derived from district curriculum. The survey was part of a follow up activity to discuss privilege as a lead-in to the “Civil Rights and A Mighty Long Way” module.”

At Monday’s meeting parent Susan True of West Bend addressed the board. Some of her comments are below. (Yes – it’s a little challenging to hear the women. Volume UP!)

– What alarmed me was the recent Privilege Test. When I saw West Bend was on featured on Tucker Carlson and Fox National News I became even more alarmed for the future of my kids in the West Bend Public School System.

– I want to know with this recent West Bend Public Schools making national news for reasons other than academic achievement is this the direction that was referenced by our superintendent Erik Olson upon resignation? And if it’s not what steps are being taken to reduce the exposure of our young minds to the misjudgment of a few teachers?

-This Privilege Survey… is basically in contrast to what Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘It’s not our outward appearance it’s the content of our character that matters’ and that is why this Privilege Survey was so hard hitting because it’s basically pigeon holing everyone in self reflection on your outward or inward non-character.

Parent Sara Zingsheim then followed with similar comments. She acknowledged once the test came to light parents found it had been given “for the past three years, time in class had been devoted to this non-curricular controversial piece of paper.”

Zingsheim identified herself as a therapist who works with teenagers every day and she noted “disturbing trends have increased since the advent of social media in 2011. Since cyber bullying began almost 80 percent of teens now report being bullied. Two thirds of these teens have at least one suicide attempt.”

-“What do students need more of? Learning how to respect themselves and others, the value of hard work, addressing students’ anxiety and depression with encouraging words, understanding and compassion.”

-“Middle school students don’t need to discover what they should protest or how they’re different. More than any other time in our history we the adults have to realize how our kids are the same. They’re bullied, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, and suicidal and as parents and teachers we must turn our attention to what our kids need. It’s time that we take a stand.”

Jen Uelmen, wife of Badger School Principal Dave Uelmen, then spoke about following policies and procedures in the school district.

-“My concern is now this is a nationally-known topic because the proper channels were not followed.”

-“I’m wondering if parents are even concerned about how their negative actions towards the teachers and administration affect their children.”

-“I’m hoping in the future parents will follow the proper channels when addressing teachers and administration in our schools.”

-“Our children are leaders for tomorrow and we need to be modeling our behavior that is respectful and sets a good example.”

Badger Principal Dave Uelmen then spoke to the board and praised his staff. “At Badger we have amazing kids,” he said. “We have great families and very supportive families. I’d like to give a shout out to my staff. Bar none, the best staff in my opinion, we have in West Bend.”

The board also addressed the Privilege Test as a follow up during a Jan. 4 meeting on curriculum and policy.

“It was clear in our meeting last week that board members felt the use of this particular questionnaire was inappropriate and the board was assured that this questionnaire will not be used in any of the district schools,” said Board President Tiffany Larson.

Larson said leadership was also encouraged to review Policy 381 when onboarding new teachers and reviewing policy with current teachers at the start of each school year.

Following the meeting board member Joel Ongert was asked how parents will know administration is following through on this directive.

“Laura Jackson (interim superintendent) assured us that onboarding of new teachers at the beginning of the school year and half way through the school year the principals will be reminding their teachers about the policies we have in place in regards to curriculum, what needs to be approved before something is being used in the classroom,” said Ongert.

Questioned whether there were any ramifications for the teacher who brought in the curriculum that was not approved by the district. Ongert said it was “a personnel matter – but the teachers are taking this hard.”

Exclusive ticket offer for St. Patrick’s Day at the Washington Co. Fair Park

The Washington County Fair Park will be celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day with an indoor concert featuring Irish and Scottish folk tunes and classic pub songs from bands Tallymoore and Ceol Carde. Headlining the event will be U2 Zoo.

The Washington County Fair Park is kicking off the concert with an exclusive ticket offer on Mention the local news web page and get your tickets for $8 each, a $2 discount. This offer is good until Jan. 15, 2018.

Updates & tidbits

Election Day is Tuesday, Jan. 16 as two candidates look to fill the seat in the 58th Assembly District. Republican Rick Gundrum won the special primary Dec. 19, describes himself as a “pro-life fiscal conservative.” Democrat Dennis Degenhardt is seeking political office for the first time. Degenhardt promised to focus his efforts in Madison on education, family-sustaining jobs, and affordable health care. Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.

The new shelter for men and women in Washington County will host a grand opening Tuesday, Feb. 6 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.  The $1.4 million facility designed by American Construction Services of West Bend is located on Water Street will be called Karl’s Place in honor of Karl Glunz of Richfield.

The Slinger Cub Scout pack is holding its annual Pinewood Derby on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. – noon in the old EVS dealership, 1180 S. Spring Street in Port Washington

Food will be collected for Slinger Food Pantry.

The Knights of Columbus will host a Sheepshead Tournament and Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 20. The card tournament is from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and dinner is from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Cost is $9 per person and the event is open to the public. Contact Sandy to reserve your spot. (262) 334-9849 email:

– The 18th annual Bridal Fair at the Washington County Fair Park is January 28. There will be over 70 vendors on hand with everything from dresses to cakes, wedding venues to entertainment. Tickets: $5 Pre-Sale $6 Day-Of *Children 12 and under are free. Tickets available at the Fair Park office and Amelishan Bridal.

Stop in Saturday, Jan. 27 at Cedar Ridge for the annual Chili Social and Book Sale, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Enjoy a warm, delicious lunch, browse the book sale and take a tour of the independent-living apartments at Cedar Ridge, 113 Cedar Ridge Drive in West Bend.

– Cast Iron Luxury Living has a unique short-term leasing special. The remodeled West Bend Aluminum Company located on the scenic Milwaukee River is offering a month of free rent if you move-in before the end of January 2018. There are one and two-bedroom apartments available. For more information 262.334.7943 or

-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.

Remembering Julie Ann Fabrics in West Bend 

Neighbors in West Bend may remember Rosemarie Alf from the old Julie Ann Fabrics store in West Bend.

Alf and her husband Marshall brought the franchise to West Bend in February 1969. “That shop was located at 120 N. Main Street next to a little diner in the old Marth (Centrum) building,” said Helen Baierl who was a partner with her sister. “We did a good business because people came downtown on Friday nights. We did much better than we thought we would that first year,” recalled Baierl as she talked about people lining up at the door when they initially opened.

Both sisters sewed and while Rosemarie’s husband Marshall helped run the store, sharpening scissors and repairing sewing machines, Helen’s husband Donald took care of the book work.

“When the Westfair mall came into town we moved there,” said Baierl remembering others in the mall in 1972 including Nobel Shoe Store, Koehn and Koehn Jewelers and Bits N’ Pieces Floral.

Julie Ann Fabrics carried everything for sewing including name brand patterns like McCall’s, Vogue, Simplicity and Butterick. “We had a lot of the mod stuff,” said Baierl laughing now about the A-line dresses she made ‘out of gaudy prints.’ Baierl also touted the store’s hands on customer service. “If customers couldn’t lay out a pattern they’d bring it in and we’d put it on the table and lay it out.” Baierl said they were so busy she put her four daughters to work dressing manikins. Other employees included Delores Goeden, Joan Fink, Gert Metrish, Kathy Dohman, Laverne Doll, and Delores Koenig.

“We made our daughter’s wedding dresses and prom dresses and I’d even put mine on the manikins and people would ask if they could buy it,” said Baierl who also did tailoring and upholstering.

Jean Falk was 17-years-old when she started working as a clerk at Julie Ann Fabrics from 1974 to 1984. “I did everything from helping customers select fabrics and patterns, to ordering ribbons and trim.”

Falk said the store was always busy. “That was back in the day when you would see families making christening gowns and wool coats and the schools still had very complete home economic programs.” Falk remembered freshmen making peasant blouses out of cotton and seniors who would do completely lined Pendleton suits.

Julie Ann Fabrics quickly developed a ‘full service’ reputation. “It got to the point where we’d walk and talk people through entire projects,” said Falk. “They’d run down to the store and just open a bag and throw it on the counter and go ok we’re at this point, what could we do.” Falk said she inherited her sewing skills from her grandmother and said when she applied for the job sewing was a prerequisite. “I had been a customer from the day they opened to the day I got hired so they knew,” laughed Falk claiming she was ‘in the store all the time.’

“We’d work with teachers, planning their curriculum and then we’d work with students who would come in to buy the stuff for their projects.” Falk reeled off home economics teacher’s names like it was yesterday including Ginny Froehlich from Kewaskum, Mildred Doss from West Bend and Mrs. Carol Stoltz from West Bend.

As far as Rosemarie was concerned, Falk said she was ‘a wonderful lady.’ “I thought it was cute when they said in her obituary she could burn up a motor in a sewing machine long before the warranty and she did, there was nothing she couldn’t make or fix. A lot of times she didn’t even use patterns she’d just start cutting and pinning and wah-lah there’d be an outfit.”

Rosemarie also put her wing around Falk, taking her to the buyers club to pick out fabrics for the seasons and sales reps would ask Falk’s opinion to ‘get a young point of view.’

As far as pay was concerned, Falk doesn’t remember the dollar as much as the discount. “If I made a fall outfit I could have the fabric and pattern and everything for free as long as I display it. So it was more the fringe benefits and the wonderful people I met while working there.”

Falk said all of the employees at Julie Ann Fabrics were encouraged to sew outfits for themselves. “The more stuff we made for ourselves and wore the better it was, because people would always say ‘what pattern number is that dress’ or ‘what pattern number is that skirt’ so we were always pretty fashion trendy,” said Falk who favored working with denim and often envied Rosemarie for her tailoring ability on suits and jackets.

Falk also got to do some modeling. “That meant a lot to me because I knew there was no way I would ever be a New York Ford model but at least I got my hands in it a little bit.”

Julie Ann Fabrics had celery green colored carpeting, the bolts of fabric were neatly organized and there was a little corner in the back of the store for kids to play while women sat at a counter with eight bar-stool- like chairs pouring over pattern books. “It was like a hangout,” said Falk recalling, ‘when we were in the Westfair Mall that was the buzz of the city.’

Often times, Falk remembered Rosemarie sitting across the hall at the Cookie Cone Café. “You’d see Rosie over there with her pattern book and her cup of coffee deciding what she was going to do next,” said Falk painting the picture of a typical afternoon at the mall.

The most hectic time of the year was inventory. “You would have to count yards of trim and yards of ribbon and yards of fabric on bolts,” said Falk about the project that normally occurred on New Years Day. “They’d run a sale in conjunction with that, like a football widow’s sale and get the women in while the men were at home watching football and we’d all be there counting our yards of fabric.”

Falk said the store would also ‘special order covered buttons and belts.’ “If a woman had a velvet jacket and the buttons would be velvet, we’d send them out and have a place cover the buttons and belts with that fabric.” Rosemarie worked a lot with bridal parties. “She’d make some head pieces and veils and she’d help them design bridal gowns and dresses and she knew just what you would line with lace and taffeta.”

Rosemarie was five years older than Helen, who was in her 30s when they started the business. “Marshall worked every day and Rosemarie and I switched off,” said Baierl admitting ‘if I had known how much work it was going to be I probably would have said we don’t want to do this.’

In 1987 Rosemarie and her husband retired and Julie Ann Fabrics was sold to Linda and Eugene Bodden. The store moved out of the Westfair Mall and into the Decorah Shopping Center where the A&P used to be.

Rosemarie Alf was 80 years old. She died last week Thursday August 16, 2007 under the care of the Kathy Hospice. A Memorial Mass was held Monday at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church.

Why Do We Allow Actors to Behave as Moral Authorities?


The interesting question is: Why have movie stars and other celebrities become an aristocracy of secular demigods? It seems to me an objective fact that virtually any other group of professionals plucked at random from the Statistical Abstract of the United States — nuclear engineers, plumbers, grocers, etc. — are more likely to model decent moral behavior in their everyday lives. Indeed, it is a bizarre inconsistency in the cartoonishly liberal ideology of Hollywood that the only super-rich people in America reflexively assumed to be morally superior are people who pretend to be other people for a living.

I think part of the answer has to do with the receding of religion from public life. As a culture, we’ve elevated “authenticity” to a new form of moral authority. We look to our feelings for guidance. Actors, as a class, are feelings merchants. While they may indeed be “out of touch” with the rest of America from time to time, actors are adept at being in touch with their feelings. And for some unfathomably stupid reason, we now think that puts us beneath them.

Convicted Sex Offender’s Sentence Delayed So He Can Finish College

This is nuts.

A student convicted of sexually exploiting a 13-year-old could return to campus after a judge delayed his sentence so he could finish college.

More than 40,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, to expel Connor Neurauter, 21.

The junior hockey player pleaded guilty in 2017 to sexual interference of a 13-year-old girl when he was 18.

He faces 89 days in jail to begin in May once the academic term ends.


During his sentencing, the court heard how he had solicited nude photos from the girl after the two began a brief sexual relationship that did not involve intercourse.

The girl said that at one point, he choked her before giving her a bra as a present.

He then threatened to release the nude photos to her family if she did not keep their relationship a secret.

Walmart Issuing Bonuses and Increasing Base Wages

Excellent news!

Walmart is boosting starting wages, providing a one-time bonus for employees and expanding benefits, the company said in a press release on Thursday, citing the tax cuts signed into law by President Trump last year. The plan benefits more than a million employees, the company told Axios.

Details: The bonus is based on length of service, with those who’ve worked 20 years eligible for $1,000. The company, which is the largest private employer in the U.S. and employs roughly 2.2 million people worldwide, is also raising its starting wage to $11 an hour. The current starting wage for store associates is $9 an hour. The company also said it plans to expand its maternity and paternity leave benefits.

We are on our way to wage growth and its companion, inflation. And not happening because of a government mandate. It’s happening because of a blossoming economy.