Author Archives: Owen

Man Attacks Church

It can happen anywhere.

Police have identified the masked gunman behind the fatal mass shooting at a Nashville church on Sunday as Emanuel Kidega Samson.

Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, died and another six were injured when Samson, 25, opened fire in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, 30 minutes southeast of Nashville in Antioch, as services let out at 11.15am.

The attack only stopped thanks to the brave actions of an armed church usher.

Robert Engle, 22, identified by friends on social media, had ran up to confront Samson and was pistol-whipped by the shooter, Aaron explained.

‘There was a significant struggle between the two,’ he said. ‘During the struggle, the gunman shot himself, probably not intentionally.’

‘This particular church member has a handgun carry permit,’ Aaron added. ‘The usher went to his vehicle, got his gun, came back inside and made sure the gunman didn’t make anymore movements until the police department arrived.’

The shooter’s condition is not life-threatening and he is under heavy police guard at Vanderbilt Medical Center, Aaron said.

Goodell Slams Trump

Heh.

(CNN)NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday slammed President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem in remarks the President made at a rally in Alabama Friday night.

Goodell called Trump’s comments “divisive” and said they show a “lack of respect” for the league and its players.
I would argue that the people kneeling during the National Anthem are “divisive” and show a “lack of respect” to this nation and all that it stands for. In fact, I would argue that that is the precisely the intent of the protest.

Summit Credit Union Sues Equifax

It’s tough to see how Equifax survives this. But it is also an important message to businesses that they must take data security seriously.

It states that Equifax was negligent in securing its website from the hacker intrusion, in failing to detect the intrusion for weeks and in failing to notify consumers of the breach for nearly six weeks. Equifax also knew or should have known that its data security measures were inadequate, the lawsuit states.

Summit, with $2.6 billion in assets, 34 locations in Wisconsin and more than 162,000 members, is asking for orders temporarily and permanently barring Equifax from negligent business practices that are alleged in the lawsuit, along with unspecified costs, restitution and damages.

“Financial institutions often incur the costs of fraud due to others’ data breaches,” Summit said in a statement issued Friday. “Equifax may be the largest compromise in U.S. history, and we believe Equifax should cover any losses incurred due to their breach.”

On another note, if you want a job right now, get into IT security.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Hotel, gas station and housing planned across from Fair Park

The landscape across from the Washington County Fair Park is going to look mighty different in the coming years as the Francis and Rita Peters have sold their property to a developer.

Tom Timblin and his business partner and high school friend Mike Koepke closed on the purchase of the 80.6-acre farm on the southwest corner of Pleasant Valley Road and County Highway P. “There are 14 lots right now,” said Timblin. “Four of them are commercial and 10 of them are multifamily.”

The town of Polk rezoned the property last year from farming to business/commercial. “With the commercial lots we’re hoping to get a gas station, convenience store and a hotel and some offices possibly,” said Timblin.

The property, dubbed Pleasant Valley Farms, is currently being marketed by Koepke and Emmer Real Estate Group.

Timblin and Koepke have been working on purchasing and developing the property for the past two years.

“We’re hoping to start development in 2018,” Timblin said. “It’s a unique property because there are a lot of moving parts. It’s got a West Bend address but the sewer and water is in the Village of Jackson and the property is located in the town of Polk.”

Timblin said he’s had conversations with potential hotel and gas station developers. He said, “Now we’re going to start talking in earnest to get quotes on the property.”

There is sewer on the property that was installed around 2002 to service the hospital and Fair Park. Timblin confirmed water “is close” on CTH P.

As far as the property is concerned, the location is wonderful according to Timblin. “It’s highly visible and the key is it’s by the on and off ramps at Pleasant Valley,” he said.

The purchase price for the property has not yet been released.

Farm photo of the original Peters homestead is courtesy Terry Becker/Ryan Lesperance. That farm was a bit further west where the Highway 45 bypass is located. This farm was eliminated when the bypass was constructed. The Peters farm that just sold is to the east of Highway 45.

City crews dredge weeds above Barton Dam

Public Works crews from the city of West Bend were up to their armpits in muck and weeds this week as they worked to remove vegetation from the Milwaukee River.

“We don’t want this vegetation to float down river against the dam so we’re trying to remove them as part of our dam maintenance,” said Public Works director Doug Neumann.

The process was slow as two men in a jon boat worked with a big claw-like apparatus made of rebar to hook the weeds and then a bulldozer would pull it to shore and a crane would extract the glop of mud and weeds.

Neumann worked with an aquatic biologist and the DNR. He said some of the weeds include things like canary grass and yellow flag.  “The problem is the seeds are floating,” said Neumann. “We did this a few years ago and pulled them out and the problem is the seeds are still there and we’re trying to pull the roots.”

The weeds are not attached to the bottom of the river.

Neumann said the best solution is to dredge and excavate the weeds out of the river. He said that option is over $100,000. “We decided to take a less expensive route and pull them to shore and excavate them ourselves,” he said. “This is certainly not a long-term solution.”

It took crews a while to get their system of dredging down. By the end of the day, Thursday, they were able to pull larger clumps of vegetation to shore.

Some neighbors in Barton said the grassy weed is called wild rice. They said the ducks love it and the weeds will die once cold weather hits.

Creepy coincidence during Hartford Historical Society’s Cemetery Tour

Nearly 100 people spent a warm September day exploring the Pleasant Hill Cemetery on Highway 60 as the Hartford Historical Society hosted a cemetery tour.

During the 3-hour event local historians dressed in period costume brought the dead back to life with stories of their careers, families and …. in some cases, local scandal.

“It’s an old custom where people used to come on Sunday afternoons with their picnic basket and grandma and grandpa were in the ground and the families would clean up the area and then have a picnic lunch,” said historian Jean Knoll.

Aside from the history of the cemetery, the docents also provided detail on cemetery etiquette. “When you enter the cemetery from Highway 60 you’ll notice the beautiful gates and what those represented is whenever you entered a cemetery you were leaving your world of the living and you were coming into the city of the dead and they wanted you to show the respect of the people buried there,” Knoll said.

There was also an educational element about how to care for your headstone. It was presented by Rex Melius and it had an unplanned and very creepy ending. Melius has spent hours shining up headstones and grave markers. On Saturday with spray bottle and brush in hand he was cleaning the moss, dirt and debris off the stone belonging to Irma Emmer.

The work is tedious. Each stone takes about 30 minutes to clean. After his presentation the question was asked how he picked Irma’s headstone. Without missing a beat Melius said it because she was next to Harvey. Sure enough…the stone for Harvey John Emmer was right next door.

Melius said, “That wasn’t planned… but it sure is a little creepy.” For those not up on current events – the two recent hurricanes to hit the south were named Harvey and Irma.

Man who took over Rick’s Tap in Barton has died

Allen J. “Whitey” Rick, 89, of West Bend, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Association Hospital in Milwaukee.

Whitey was born on July 19, 1928, in Barton, the son of the late Allen and Bernadina (Tina) (Stellpflug) Rick. On June 15, 1950, he was united in marriage to Harriet Schroeder. Whitey grew up in Barton.  He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II.  In 1960, he took over the family business and operated Rick’s Tap in Barton for the next several years.  Whitey was also a volunteer fireman for the Barton Fire Department. His funeral was Friday.

Successful GERMANfest

Organizers of this year’s GERMANfest in West Bend have some great news. “We raised $70,000 net,” said GERMANfest’s Lisa Jensen. “We could not have done it without the community sponsorship’s, in-kind contributions, volunteers and participation! We have enough now to cover the material costs of a home as well as the land to build a house.”

The annual German festival in downtown West Bend is organized by Habitat for Humanity of Dodge and Washington Counties.

Neighbors ask motorists to slow down for injured crane

Neighbors on Schmidt Road in West Bend are encouraging motorists to slow down because of what appears to be an injured Sandhill Crane in the area. Kenlyn from The Sign Shop on Schmidt Road said there is a pair of Sandhill Cranes that continually cross the road and one has an injured leg. “We have been in contact with Wanakia Wildlife Rehabilitation and they are aware and are trying to help with the situation,” she said. On a side note: Sandhill Cranes mate for life.

Village of Kewaskum accepts property donation

The Kewaskum Village Board has voted unanimously to accept a donation of 31 acres from the Reigle family.

The land is on Edgewood Road and County Highway H. Early plans are to turn the parcel into a sports complex with youth soccer fields and baseball/softball diamonds.  Officials said the park would help ease overcrowding at the Kiwanis Park.

Dave Spenner, a trustee on the Village Board, said this is a great opportunity for the community.

“We are greatly indebted and thankful to the Reigle family for such a generous donation; we feel really blessed,” Spenner said. “Many of its users will participate in its development and share in the cost and it will benefit more than just the village itself.”

At the Sept. 7 listening session several neighbors were concerned about a number of things including, parking, possible trespassing, and there was a safety concern regarding the 2-acre pond on the property.

“The planners and Kewaskum athletic programs are genuinely committed to working with the neighbors to make sure this is a good experience for everyone,” said Spenner.

“We have the Milwaukee River running directly through town and we don’t fence every waterway.

“The final plans aren’t in yet. What we looked at is conceptual and there’s much more planning that needs to be done.”

The next step for the village is to execute the donation agreement with the Reigle family, zoning has to be changed from residential to recreational and an agreement has to be completed with the soccer organizations and other sports teams.

Property donor Jim Reigle has lived in Kewaskum since 1947; the gift of property is estimated at about $640,000. The village will receive about $4,000 a year in taxes from the proposed park. Funding for the park would come from private donors and corporate sponsors.

The village does not anticipate any expense to maintain the park as that job would be split between the Kewaskum Athletic Association (KAA) and the Kewaskum Youth Soccer Organization.

The village would own the land but would lease it to the Kewaskum Youth Soccer Organization and the KAA.

WBSD Facility Advisory Committee begins meeting this week

The first meeting of the West Bend School District Facility Advisory Committee is Sept. 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the library at Jackson Elementary, W204 N16850 Jackson Dr., Jackson. The district is exploring facility needs at Jackson Elementary School and East/West High Schools. Bray Architects won the bid at $35,000 on a 3-phase proposal to oversee the first part of the project which includes community engagement, architectural, engineering and interior design services.

Kettle Moraine Symphony prepping for a new season

A lively Thursday evening at Our Saviors Lutheran in West Bend as the Kettle Moraine Symphony held its weekly practice. Dr. Richard Hynson is the new director this year.

According to the KMS website, “Hynson is well-known in the Milwaukee area as the director of the Bel Canto Chorus and Orchestra. He has contributed to the greater Milwaukee community as conductor, published composer and teacher for the past 30 years.

His past conducting roles include serving as music director of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra from 2006 to 2014, music director for Gathering on the Green from 2008 to 2013 and as music director and conductor of the Waukegan (IL) Symphony Orchestra from 1990 to 1998.

Hynson’s local guest conducting engagements have included performances with the Milwaukee Symphony, Skylight Opera Theatre, and the Racine, Sheboygan and Waukesha Symphony Orchestras. He has also conducted numerous other ensembles nationally and internationally.

The Kettle Moraine Symphony season begins Oct. 1.

Update & tidbits

Crossroads Music Fest is today, Saturday, Sept. 23. This year’s free Christian music event is being held at Hartford Town Hall on County Road K in Hartford. From noon – 7 p.m. there will be live music, food, a silent auction, and lots of family-friendly activities.

The Faith, Hope & Run! 5K Run/Walk is Sunday. Registration is also available Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. Kids Race at 1:15 p.m. and 5K at 2 p.m. More information is at faithandfamilyfest.org

-Cast Iron Luxury Living in West Bend, formerly the West Bend Aluminum Company factory building, is now high-end apartments and the Apartment Owners and Managers Association (AOMA) just recognized the managers of Cast Iron with the Property Excellence Award.

Interfaith Caregivers is holding its 2017 Campfire Tea on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Prairie Center at West Bend Mutual. The annual fundraiser helps positively impact the lives of Washington County seniors. This year’s event features celebrity waiters serving wonderful tea and scrumptious appetizers. There will also be an amazing silent auction, the very popular purse auction, and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $35 per person.

– A full lineup of music and outdoor fun is ahead as the Jackson Park Beer Garden gets underway Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 at Jackson Park. The festivities run from 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Officers from the West Bend Police Department performed well at the 2017 Wisconsin Professional Police Association State Police Shoot. The matches consisted of the traditional Bullseye Match, a Rifle Match, and a Sub-Compact Pistol Match. West Bend was represented by active officers Robert Lloyd and Justin Klopp and retired officers Kenneth Johnson and William Matheus. Multiple trophies and medals were received.

– Dress in your Halloween best and trick or treat in downtown West Bend during Fall Fest, Oct. 13. Yup…. that’s Friday the 13th. A new addition to Fall Fest this year is Pumpkin Bowling. Roll a hand-sized pumpkin, knock down pins and win prizes.

– More than 400 volunteers this week from more than 30 local organizations were at the kick off of the United Way of Washington County’s annual campaign. Volunteers packed 2,500 personal care (hygiene) kits for distribution through local food pantries, churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations

-Today, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. the Kettle Moraine Ice Center and Washington County Youth Hockey Association are sponsoring a Girls Try Hockey Free Event for ages 4-14. All gear will be provided; many coaches and older skaters will be at the rink, ready and eager to help. This is a great opportunity for girls to experience firsthand a featured winter Olympics sport with no monetary commitment.

-Washington County’s annual Clean Sweep is Saturday, Oct. 7 from 8 a.m. – noon at the Washington County Highway Facility, 900 Lang Street.

-The West Bend VFW Post 1393 is looking for a bar manager, full-time and part-time bartenders. Please send resumes to PO Box 982 West Bend, WI 53095.

Theater seats have arrived at Kettle Moraine Playhouse in Slinger

They sold the event as a “flash mob” of sorts as volunteers gathered outside the Kettle Moraine Playhouse to unload a truck full of new theater seats. “Well…. they’re new to us,” said Playhouse facilities director Lyle Krueger.

The green cushioned theater seats came out of a Bible theme park in Oklahoma. “The operators didn’t get permits and when they tried to open they failed inspection and the seats went on eBay,” Krueger said. Volunteers worked for about an hour in assembly-line fashion on a steamy Friday evening unloading and stacking nearly 70 cushions, seat backs and armrests.

The former St. Paul’s Church, 204 S. Kettle Moraine Drive in Slinger, is being remodeled into an intimate 64-seat theater.  The entryway to the theater was completed by Keller, Inc.  Local contractors and Playhouse volunteers are doing a majority of the interior remodel.

The Kettle Moraine Players are on track to “open the Playhouse this fall” with a five-show season. Today volunteers will be installing the seats. The inaugural season at the Kettle Moraine Playhouse will get underway with the performance of “Blind Dating at Happy Hour” on October 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., October 21 at 4 p.m., October 22, 29 at 2 p.m.

 

Tony Evers Uses Education Address to Campaign

Tony Evers is the state Superintendent of Schools. Every year, the person in that job gives a kind of “state of the schools” address. It’s normally a pretty mundane affair. This year, Tony Evers decided to use his official office to ramble on about all sorts of things that have nothing to do with schools, like transportation, Medicaid, etc. It’s clearly a political speech on the taxpayers’ dime. There isn’t much recourse for it since Evers is in a constitutional elected office, but it’s worth noting that Evers has little regard for separating his office from his campaign for governor.

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday blasted the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker for not significantly increasing school funding in recent years, refusing to take federal money to expand Medicaid and for the condition of the state’s roads.

Evers, who announced last month he is challenging Walker in 2018, took aim at his future opponent and the Republican Party on several issues during his annual “state of education” address at the state Capitol — remarks typically focused on K-12 education, which he oversees as the head of the Department of Public Instruction.

Quoting President Teddy Roosevelt throughout what verged on a political stump speech, Evers told the Capitol rotunda full of school superintendents, lawmakers and other state officials that Roosevelt “is calling us to stand tall in the face of adversity.”

Hate at UW Madison

This is not art. This is just raw, bigoted hate.

MADISON, Wis. – A University of Wisconsin-Madison student released a controversial video portraying police officers being beheaded after they put an American flag noose around the neck of an African American man Friday.

Part of the First Wave scholarship program, Eneale Pickett, released the video to promote his clothing line with messages addressing police brutality and racism. In the video people wear sweatshirts that make statements about these issues.

[…]

The video portrays the police officer as a man in a pig mask. The sound of the video combines speeches from Donald Trump, with the sounds of protests and a consistent heart beat.

If you;d like to learn more about the First Wave Scholarship Program, here is their website.

Walker Issues Budget Vetoes

You can read the full list of vetoes here.

I’m still reading through them, but they look good! It looks like he stuck to his promise to the conservative senators who held out and he took a few further steps to make this budget a little better.

County Board Debates Golf Course Improvements

Heh.

Members of the Executive Committee voted during their Tuesday meeting to approve the expansion of a deck and patio area at the Washington County Golf Course. Supervisors Rick Gundrum and Mark McCune voted against the measure.

Another supervisor, Michael Bassill, supported the proposal, but only to allow his colleagues to weigh in when it appears before the full County Board in a few weeks.

“Basically, what we charged parks (staff) and the golf course with is, ‘Find a way to make yourself fiscally independent of the tax levy,’” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said. “That is exactly what Craig (Czerniejewski) and Jamie (Ludovic) and their team have worked on over the last several months.”

[…]

“One of the only times I will have a bloody mary is after a golf game,” he said. “I can’t — because of some ridiculous rule that says I cannot have a bloody mary because I am at a county golf course. Treat me like an adult. It is not going to keep me playing golf there … By having a deck there, I don’t think we are committing this horrendous thing that is going to lead to some ridiculous amount of outings.”

So the County Board is debating how to pay for some capital improvements to the club house and how the golf course can operate without using tax dollars.

WHY THE HELL DOES THE COUNTY OWN A GOLF COURSE!?!?

In a county that has several golf courses – a couple of them that are world class – why do we need the taxpayers to run one? Sell the dang thing and then we don’t need 26 (yes, 26!) county supervisors debating whether or not they should be able to have a bloody mary after a game of golf at the county course.

If Washington County would actually cut some spending like this, it would be easy to eliminate the county sales tax.

Man Indicted for Frauding WEDC

Good.

A Green Bay-area businessman has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly defrauding the state’s job-creation agency of more than $1 million, U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad announced Wednesday.

The indictment of Ron Van Den Heuvel, owner of Green Box NA, for alleged fraud and money laundering marks the first time criminal charges have been leveled against a business owner who received taxpayer funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

According to the indictment filed in federal court Tuesday, Van Den Heuvel allegedly devised a scheme that ended up defrauding $9 million from WEDC, acquaintances and investors from Canada and China between 2011 and 2015.

WEDC loaned $1.12 million to Green Box on Oct. 21, 2011, according to the indictment. The funds were supposed to help the company create 116 jobs by December 2014 as part of a more than $13 million project to turn fast-food wrappers and other waste paper into synthetic fuel and paper products while producing zero waste, according to agency records.

Van Den Heuvel persuaded WEDC and other investors to give him money by falsely claiming he had entered into agreements with major companies to advance Green Box’s operations and produced false financial statements that grossly inflated his personal wealth and financial situation, the indictment said.

Sometimes investments don’t work out or one doesn’t get the anticipated results, but when someone commits outright fraud, we should throw the book at them.

Washington County Says “Hell, No”

This is a bit fascinating to watch. A little background…

In 1998, Washington County passed a temporary sales tax (I think you know where this is going). There were some major capital projects like at the county jail, courthouse, and UWWC, that the county needed done, but they didn’t have the money. So they bamboozled the public into accepting a “temporary” 0.5% sales tax to pay for those projects. By 2006, those capital projects were all done and paid for, but the County Board decided that they liked their new tax. Instead of killing off the tax as promised, they kept it going and redirected it to other things. Now the county sales tax is just another tax that the County Board uses to spend on whatever it wants.

Fast forward to 2017 and several of the county’s municipalities want a slice of that tax. The argument is simple. All residents of the county pay the sales tax so it makes sense to distribute that tax to several levels of government. The City of West Bend already sent a letter to the city earlier this year. Slinger voted to do the same last night. Other cities and villages are considering doing the same.

Last night, the Washington County Board didn’t just say “no.” They said, “hell, no.

“Based on what you are saying, I think we need to be very clear that — not necessarily that we are denying anything, but that we are declining even considering it,” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said to committee members.

Well, that’s pretty clear. It is a dangerous business to try to get between a politician and a tax.

On the issue itself, I agree with the county, but only because I have a forlorn hope that the county might someday end the sales tax as they promised when they implemented it. That likelihood, however remote, becomes even more remote if other governments get their hands in that pie.

 

Assembly Democrats Elect Hintz as Leader

Wow. What a statement about the character and direction of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Rep. Gordon Hintz was elected Tuesday by his colleagues to replace Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, who announced earlier this month he was stepping down as Assembly minority leader after many of his members tried to remove him.

Hintz, a member of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee who also had been considering a run for governor, urged his colleagues on Tuesday to stop focusing on divisions within the party and present a united front against Republican-backed policies and Gov. Scott Walker.

[…]

Hintz, 43, has been in the state Assembly since 2006 and is a vocal critic of Walker and the Republican Legislature’s approach to road funding, K-12 education and tax policy. He entered the Assembly the same year he appeared in the documentary “Air Guitar Nation,” which documented the first time the U.S. competed in the Air Guitar World Championships.

State Republicans have criticized Hintz for a 2011 citation he received during a sting at an Appleton massage parlor while he was unmarried, and also for telling then-Rep. Michelle Litjens, R-Winneconne, “you’re (expletive) dead” during a contentious debate over Walker’s collective bargaining measure that same year known as Act 10.

Trump Speaks at the United Nations

You can read the entire transcript at this link. I highly encourage you to do so. It’s a remarkable speech that defines a new era in American foreign policy – the Trump Doctrine. Most of Trump’s positions, if not the manner in which he expressed them, would have been perfectly understood and agreed with when the UN was founded. Trump hearkens back to the age of muscular internationalism that American foreign policy rested upon from FDR to Reagan.

I’m a big fan of the Trump Doctrine and think that the president struck the right message and tone in his speech. Welcome back, America.

Sen.Tammy Baldwin to face a tough re-election

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

The next big election is 14 months away, but the electoral combatants are already sallying onto the field. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin will be seeking her second term and the liberal backbencher is facing a formidable challenge.

Baldwin’s resume is notable for its remarkable lack of achievement. Born and bred in the belly of liberal Madison, Baldwin was first elected to the Dane County Board during law school in 1986. She graduated from law school in 1989, worked as a lawyer for three years, and then became a full time politician in 1992 when she was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly. In 1998, Baldwin was sent by Madison to Washington as their representative in the House of Representatives, and was then swept into the U.S. Senate by the Obama wave in 2012.

It is difficult to serve in public office for more than 30 years, get elected to higher offices, and not have a single achievement to one’s credit, but Tammy Baldwin has accomplished that incredible feat. The secret to Baldwin’s success is that she is gay and a liberal’s liberal who reliably supports every leftist idea proffered. This attracts gobs of money from every liberal/socialist/Marxist PAC and activist group throughout the nation.

Most recently, she gave her fullthroated support to complete socialist health care in the failure of Obamacare. This is particularly ironic given that Baldwin callously ignored repeated cries for help from abuse taking place at the Tomah VA Medical Center. Why would anyone want to hand over more control of our healthcare to politicians like Tammy Baldwin?

Without Obama on the ballot next year, Baldwin is vulnerable to a credible challenge. So far, two formidable and well-funded Republicans are vying for the opportunity to be the senator that Wisconsin deserves. There is still time for more candidates to enter the fray, but the window is closing.

Kevin Nicholson is a Marine combat veteran who now works in the private sector. Nicholson defines himself as a social and fiscal conservative who is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-strong national security, etc. Running for office for the first time, Nicholson relishes his status as an outsider who can attack the liberal redoubts in Washington.

Nicholson does, however, have a nagging problem in his resume. He used to be a vocal, activist Democrat. When he was in college, Nicholson served as the chairman of the College Democrats and was eventually the national president for the College Democrats of America. At that time, he was pro-choice and spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Of course, Nicholson would not be the first person to convert from liberalism to conservatism with the advancement of age, life experience and wisdom. Some of the best-known, thoughtful, and stalwart conservatives in the nation used to be liberals.

The other Republican seeking to challenge Tammy Baldwin has no such history to overcome. Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir has been a proven, reliable, accomplished conservative Republican for more than a decade. Vukmir is a registered nurse who worked as a nurse for more than 20 years before running for the Wisconsin Assembly in 2002 to replace Scott Walker. Vukmir was then elected to the State Senate in 2010.

Vukmir has been one of the driving forces in the Wisconsin conservative movement for her entire tenure in office. She has been instrumental in advancing school choice, tax reform, education reform, healthcare reform and every other pillar of the conservative agenda. It is difficult to name a conservative issue in which Vukmir was not a staunch defender and advocate. All the while, Vukmir has maintained her career as a registered nurse.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of Nicholson’s conservative conversion, there is no need to put it to its first political test in the crucible of Washington when there is already a proven conservative candidate in Leah Vukmir. She has been a granite conservative throughout all of the tempests in Madison and would serve Wisconsin well in the U.S. Senate.

Totalist vs. Totalitarian

I love authors with a wry sense of humor. Brian Crozier, in his “The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire,” uses the descriptor “‘totalist’ dictator.” In the footnote, he writes:

“The words totalist and totalism will be used throughout this book, except when quoting other authors. The original words totalitarian and totalitarianism are usually credited (in their Italian equivalents) to Mussolini’s adviser Giovanni Gentile, who used the first of them in a speech on March 8, 1925. There is nothing sacrosanct about them, and I have always found them inelegantly and unnecessarily polysyllabic.”

Indeed.

Walker Signs Foxconn Deal

Excellent.

STURTEVANT — Gov. Scott Walker signed a $3 billion incentive package Monday for Foxconn Technology Group to build a flat-screen plant in southeastern Wisconsin, a deal he says will provide thousands of jobs for generations.

The governor signed the bill during a packed ceremony at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant in Racine County, where the plant likely will be located. Legislators from around southeastern Wisconsin attended the signing. So did dozens of supporters.

“This is about far into the future,” Walker said. “This is about ensuring our children and our children’s children will have generational opportunities. This is one of those things that’s transformational.”

The governor told reporters after the signing that next steps call for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to finalize a contract with Foxconn to execute the provisions in the bill. WEDC’s board is scheduled to meet Sept. 28 to approve the agreement. Foxconn executives will then likely reveal the precise location for the plant before the contract is signed in early October.

Walker told WTMJ-AM radio on Monday morning that he expects groundbreaking this spring. Foxconn hopes to open the plant in 2020.

Sharing Wealth and Risk in the Gig Economy

It does take two to tango… even in an employment relationship.

First, job insecurity is has always existed; it was once the historical norm. The construction industry has always been project-based and seasonal like agriculture; seafarers were traditionally hired for a voyage. The entertainment industry was literally the “gig economy”. These are among the industries that routinely discarded workers when the job was done.

What is new is the extension of insecure work into industries where it was not previously common. This has been facilitated by new technology and the widespread use of contractual arrangements that seek to limit workers’ rights.

Second, the vision of a brave new world of portfolio, boundaryless, and protean careers was intended for professionals who could sell high-value parcels of work. It suits those with enough economic confidence to fly without the safety net of a regular income. These ideas were not dreamed up for the bicycle courier, the taxi driver or the peripatetic care worker, and certainly not for those trapped in a low-pay, no-pay cycle.

Third, the career management rhetoric lost sight of the distinction between is and should. Growth in atypical working patterns does not imply a moral imperative that workers should facilitate this development by shaping themselves into the desired mould. Particularly where some employers might be seeking to offload responsibility for sick pay, holiday pay, and travel between jobs.

Flexibility in human resources allows employers to scale operations up and down rapidly, and with minimal cost. This is not just about keeping wage bills down, but also about employers reducing levels of economic risk, while workers increase their share of risk bearing. The challenge of global competition may be inevitable, but an unquestioning compliance with employer regimes for sharing wealth and risk is not.

LGBT Activist Shot by Police

Looks like a suicide by cop.

Police in the US state of Georgia have shot and killed an LGBT student activist, leading to an independent investigation.

Police encountered Scout Schultz at a campus in Atlanta after a call about “a person with a knife and a gun” late on Saturday, officials say.

Footage has emerged apparently showing Schultz, 21, refusing to obey multiple police commands to drop a knife.

Schultz’s mother said police should not have used lethal force.

In a video filmed by fellow students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Schultz is heard saying “Shoot me!” while continuing to advance on the officers. One of them then opens fire.

It also looks like this poor kid had some severe issues. If it was a suicide by cop, it’s a shame that he chose to ruin some poor police officer’s life too.

Wisconsin Senate Passes Budget After Veto Promises

It’s still not a good enough budget, but it will be better is/when Walker makes his promised vetoes. Now that the budget and Foxconn bills are done, let’s get to work on the rest of the agenda.

The state Senate put the final touches Friday on a nearly $76 billion state budget that would pump an additional $649 million into K-12 education over the next two years after a handful of holdout GOP senators received assurances from the guv’s office on a package of vetoes.

The budget, delayed by more than two months, came down to the wire Friday as Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tried to persuade three of his Senate colleagues to support the two-year spending plan.

GOP Sens. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; Steve Nass, of Whitewater; and Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, ended up joining most of their Republican colleagues as the budget cleared the Senate 19-14 without any amendments to the plan the Assembly approved earlier this week. Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, was the only Republican to join all Dems in voting against the bill.

That clears the way for the budget to head to Gov. Scott Walker, who the three Republicans said promised to a series of vetoes to win their support.

Trump’s Green Acres

Because everyone should see this.

Hat tip David Mortosko

Medicare for All

They already have it in Venezuela.

As the food shortages deepened, nearly three-quarters of Venezuelans polled said they had lost at least 19 pounds last year, one poll found.

Shortages of basic medicine and proper medical equipment – as in Deivis’ case – are common. More than 750 women died during or shortly after childbirth in 2016, a 66% increase from 2015, according to the Venezuelan health ministry. Nearly 11,500 infants died, a 30% jump. Malaria cases soared to 240,000, a staggering 76% increase. That last one is especially telling: Venezuela had already eradicated malaria more than 50 years ago. I met three paramedics in a week who all said they’re low or out of gauze, gloves and bandages.

Galindez, Deivis’ mother, found a matching kidney to replace one of her son’s failing ones. But it was a temporary victory: Doctors stopped performing kidney operations in April because they didn’t have the resources needed for the operation, according to Dr. Belen Arteaga, the head of the nephrology unit at Hospital de Niños Dr. J.M. de los Ríos, where Deivis was treated.