Author Archives: Owen

Some Gave All


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Rehab For Jihadis

Wow. I didn’t know such a facility existed.

More than 3,300 inmates have “graduated” from the centre since 2005, according to the staff, including 123 who have been in Guantanamo Bay. The success rate, they said, is 80% with the remaining 20% returning to violence. (A similar scheme I visited in Yemen in 2003 had a significantly lower success rate).

Inmates spend a minimum of three months at the centre before being assessed to see if they ready for release, Their overall programme is divided into three parts:

  • A counselling phase, which takes place while they are still in prison and before they arrive at the centre
  • Rehabilitation (“ta’heel” in Arabic) comprising cognitive behaviour programmes, art, culture, religious and sports activities
  • After care. This continues after their release into society

“Welcome to the oasis of wisdom,” said Dr Hamid Al-Shayri, a sociologist from King Saud University. “This is where we try to steer them away from their deviant path so they no longer present a danger to society.”

He said his staff sit with the inmates for several hours a day, but added: “It’s not an easy task to get people to stop hating society and their families.

Art therapy plays a big role in their rehabilitation, according to their art teacher, Dr Badr Al-Razin. He told me that when they first arrive, many of the ex-convicts want to paint crude, violent images, often in red, but over time their images soften and become gentler.

Religious scholars are on hand at all times, men with a profound knowledge of Islam, who try to use this to explain why the aims and actions of violent jihadists are “haram” (forbidden).

NRA Moves Heavy Into Insurance

This has huge implications for West Bend’s own Delta Defense, which has been selling insurance to concealed carry holders for years and just built a new headquarters.

Enter the National Rifle Association. Stories like Balistreri’s have motivated some gun owners to purchase insurance policies that could cushion their financial burden in the event that they shoot someone. Such policies have been available for years, but last month the NRA announced a new insurance product, Carry Guard, which they marketed to their millions of members online and at their annual meeting in Atlanta. The idea of firearms liability insurance has been previously championed by gun safety advocates on the left, who envisioned insurance as an instrument of public safety that could encourage safer guns and safer behavior. As implemented by the NRA, though, firearms liability insurance has a different function—to insulate gun owners from the expense and other possible consequences of a shooting.

“We live in a litigious society,” explains Josh Powell, chief of staff and executive director of general operations for the NRA. “The bad guys come to your house and you gotta use your gun and then you end up paying a hundred thousand dollars to protect yourself.”

Powell explains that Carry Guard was created to accommodate the needs of a changing culture in the U.S., where more people carry concealed weapons. “There’s just been this incredible carry revolution that’s taken place over the past eight years, and you know, the NRA started it. We started this in Florida 35 or 36 years ago, passing the first concealed carry bill. And so this is really a response to that movement and our members saying ‘Hey, we need you guys to be the gold standard for training, liability insurance— everything concealed carry.’”

With similar language, the marketing campaign for Carry Guard emphasizes the “two pronged program” that offers “America’s most comprehensive coverage and training for those who carry a gun.” The campaign features a studio portrait of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, staring down the camera with glinting eyes, holding up her Carry Guard insurance card like an officer flashing a badge. “I will never carry a gun without carrying this,” the adjacent text proclaims. In an article for the NRA publication America’s First Freedom, Loesch recounts her memories raising young children in crime-ridden St. Louis. She says her neighbors were grateful that she always carried a gun while supervising the children outside, and often inquired about how they could also legally carry and join her in “standing watch” over the neighborhood. “If only NRA Carry Guard existed back then,” Loesch laments. “There was no one-stop training option I could recommend.” Moreover, “Without proper coverage, my neighbors risked very real financial and legal consequences if they were ever forced to the pull the trigger in self-defense, even if they did everything right.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

New mammoth silo at West Bend Elevator

There’s a new silo on campus at West Bend Elevator on County Trunk Highway D and it’s quite the mammoth contraption. Construction started a couple weeks ago as crews built the roof first and then raised the silo from there. A crane was brought in for one day as the side panels were riveted into place.

The silo is about 80-feet high, which is about 8 stories, and the base includes 80-feet of cement. “That’ll hold 300,000 bushels,” said West Bend Elevator Vice President Doug Gonring.

The new silo is made up of 19 rings of panels and will be used for storage. In comparison, a silo being built at Adell Cooperative, located just west of Batavia, is 188-feet high. “That’s a pig of a bin,” said Gonring. Standing next to the other three silos it looks like one of those Russian nesting dolls.

Germantown Health Center to be renovated

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin is preparing to remodel more than just the West Bend Health Center as the Germantown Health Center, W168 N11237 Western Ave., Germantown, will also be renovated.


“To better meet the needs of our patients and accommodate future growth,” said Tim Olsen, manager of public relations.


Changes in Germantown include the addition of eight primary care rooms, along with four specialty rooms and a procedure room.


“The renovations support more efficient workflows and room use, and increase coordination of care for patients,” Olsen said. “The renovations also include site improvements to plumbing, heating/cooling, electrical, and security systems.” Olsen said the renovations to the Germantown Health Center will be complete in late fall.

On May 10, Olsen confirmed the remodel of West Bend Health Center, 1700 W. Paradise Drive.

That facility was built in 1990. The plan includes the relocation of the West Bend Surgery Center to the St. Joseph’s Hospital campus. The current health center, according to Olsen, will remain open to serve patients while the construction is underway.  A new West Bend Health Center is expected to begin in summer 2018.

Ron Zarling of West Bend on Honor Flight

It was an early rise and shine for Ron Zarling of West Bend today as he raced down to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport to take off for Washington D.C. on the 39th mission of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight.

Zarling was 19 years old when he was drafted. Living in Milwaukee and a 1952 graduate of West Division High School, Zarling was working at a typewriter shop when he got his marching orders from Uncle Sam.

“The typewriter shop was on 30th and Vliet Street and the business was called Rudolphs,” he said. “A father and son ran the shop and I was a delivery person and I also checked out typewriters.”

Underwood, Royal and Remington were all in a day’s work for Zarling. Once he entered service his first stop was Fort Leonard Wood for basic training.

It was April 1954 and it was 8 weeks of basic in the armored division of the U.S. Army and after that Zarling went into clerk/typist school.

“After basic I got my orders and it said I was going to Germany,” he said. “We took a troop ship and it was a slow freight and it took us three weeks to get to Germany.”

Zarling said the only good thing about the trip was getting a pass and stopping for a day in England.

Onto Heidelberg, Germany and Zarling was stationed at European Headquarters Command where he worked in the Machine Records Unit. “I had no idea what I would be doing and the next day they turned me into a keypunch operator and that was my career in the service,” Zarling said.

“We’d enter data onto the cards and after it went through the machine it would go up into the hopper. This was the first infrastructure of data processing.”

Logging morning reports, equipment inventory and personnel assignments would all cross Zarlin’s desk during a regular 8-hour day, 5 days a week. Zarling’s wife came over to Germany during his service. “Our first apartment was just one room in a building that used to be barracks for the Germans,” he said.

Stationed for two years Zarling said there was no conflict during his service. He was discharged in 1956.

Zarling has been to D.C. before. He said he is going to try to find his second cousin’s name on the WWII Memorial. Zarling’s guardian on the Honor Flight will be his oldest daughter Judy Ish.

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.

The Reverend Clarissa Martinelli of Fifth Avenue Methodist Church will give the Invocation and Benediction. Other tributes will include a Preamble of the Constitution by West Bend East sophomore Grace Peplinski, Gettysburg Address by West Bend East sophomore Rachel Roeber, a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field” by West Bend West junior Anna Pitz and performances by the West Bend High School Band and the River City Irregulars.

The Memorial Day Speaker is Vietnam veteran Richard Lindbeck. In case of inclement weather the ceremony will move to the second floor chambers at the Old County Courthouse.

Assistant Principal for a day at St. Frances Cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini Principal Aaron Hilts had help from 2nd grader Taylor and 3rd grader Noah as the two boys were Assistant Principals for the day. The opportunity was an auction item at the annual St. Frances Cabrini Dinner Auction; their parents were the lucky winners.

The boys took the job seriously, even wearing suit jackets for the day. Among the tasks assigned was brainstorming some good new rules to suggest to their classroom teachers. They both produced lengthy lists that included ideas such as a no-homework afternoon, a Lego day, an out-of-dress code day, a kickball tournament, and extended time for gym and recess.

Construction on Hwy D

Some frustration for motorists on the north end of West Bend as construction got underway this week on County Trunk Highway (CTH) D. The work runs from the Highway 45 northbound ramps to Green Tree Road.

The road closure is a bit handcuffing as there’s no easy way around. Detours are marked. Neighbors in the nook of Young America will see a rather large increase in traffic as motorists are routed round the back way by the old Lighthouse Lanes and over the white knuckle wood bridge.

According to the Washington County Highway Department construction will begin by closing the road to thru traffic and then removing and replacing the concrete segment between USH 45 and Lighthouse Lane.

The driveway to West Bend Warehouse will be realigned and a left turn lane for traffic turning north onto Lighthouse Lane will be added to improve safety.

Construction will be staged to allow access between USH 45 and Lighthouse Lane and also to provide uninterrupted access for trucks traveling to and from West Bend Warehouse.

The contractor will also be repaving Lighthouse Lane from CTH D to the eastern entrance of The Columbian banquet hall. The construction should be finished by mid-August.

Motorists are asked to follow the posted detour route: USH 45, State Trunk Highway (STH) 33, and STH 144 (Main Street). Neighbors are asked to use extra care when driving in the construction area and obey all flagmen and construction signs. Alternate routes should be used if possible to avoid delays.

Updates & tidbits     

Financial adviser and Sunrise Rotary member Mike Nowak and West Bend Park & Rec Director Craig Hoeppner split the 2017 Betty Pearson Community Leadership Award. Pearson was the former executive director of the West Bend Chamber of Commerce.

– The West Bend  Veterans Honor Guard and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War met at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at Holy Angels Cemetery in West Bend for a short ceremony to dedicate a new Memorial Monument for the Civil War veterans buried in that cemetery.

-More than 150 people turned out for a flag memorial dedication at the American Legion Lt. Ray Dickop Post 36. The ceremony was dedicated to the thousands of men and women who served their state and nation admirably.  The Post acknowledged their heroism and express sincere appreciation for their sacrifices. Guest speakers included the Honorable James Porous and comments from Janet and Andy Koehn, the daughter and grandson of D.J. Kenny.

– A note of thanks and hat tip of congratulations to Battalion Chief Todd Van Langen for 25 years of service at the West Bend Fire Department. Van Langen pulled his last shift this week.

-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 West Bend Bier Garten is June 9 – 11 at the Regner Park Pavilion. Sponsored by West Bend Friends of Park and Rec. Music, food, dancing and beer at the Silver Lining Stage.

-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.

– The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road in the Town of Farmington.

-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.

– Action in Jackson is coming up June 9 – 11 at Jackson Park in Jackson. Highlights include the woodcarving auction, music, food, amusements, and a parade on Sunday.

– Volunteers joined in with crews from the city of West Bend and members of the Business Improvement District to plant flowers as part of Spring Clean-Up Day in downtown West Bend.

Remembering Prescott’s Pick ‘n Save

There were a lot of grocery updates in the local news this week as Meijer opened on S. Main Street in West Bend and the two Pick ‘n Save stores added new signage as an interior remodel slides into its final stage.

There’s quite a bit of scuttlebutt on how the stores will compete in a small town of 30,000+.

Some neighbors say the grocery bar has been set pretty high in West Bend primarily because of the performance of George Prescott and his team at the old Prescott’s Pick ‘n Save.

The Prescott legacy dates to 1971 – 1972 when Ed Prescott, George’s father, started the family-owned grocery.  It was a SuperValue store located on S. Main Street in West Bend in the old West Fair Mall.

A post on the blog Stores Forever indicated “Prescott’s took up 15-20k square feet ….large for a supermarket at the time and for the size of the city at the time. A larger Kohl’s Supermarket was up the street, in one of West Bend’s first shopping centers, West Bend Plaza.”

The Milwaukee Business Journal reports in “1978, George Prescott purchased the West Bend store, and then bought his father’s three remaining stores in Ripon and Oshkosh in 1981.”

It wasn’t until 2002 when Prescott sold his two Pick ‘n Save stores in West Bend along with several others to Roundy’s. The standards at Prescott’s Pick ‘n Save carry quite the legacy in West Bend.

Folks remember George knew the names of all his employees. He had a college investment program for staff. When Pick ‘n Save sold a winning lottery ticket, George shared the kickback from the Wisconsin Lottery with staff.

There was also a slot at the courtesy counter when you walked into the south store and you could mail your We Energies bill without a stamp.

Some of the notable high-caliber people on George’s team included the friendly faces of Chuck Benjamin, Greg Grimm, Jerry Hardy, and Ralph Prescott … to name a few.

Leslie wrote in to Stores Forever, “And actually, the mall did open into Prescott’s. There was a right angle with a ramp down to the grocery store at the far end of the mall. I know that for a fact because my sister and I would get into trouble riding carts down that ramp! Great memories.”

   What do you remember about George and the standards set at Prescott’s Pick ‘n Save?

Shellie Becker – I remember him always interacting with the customer’s and he always had a smile on his face. His plaid suits.

Cathy Lawton – Yes the plaid suits and that infectious smile. He is quite a man.

Dustin Denis – I worked for him for 5.5 years in high school and college. Was one of the best business owners I’ve ever met. Down to earth and really cared about his people. I was a no name bagger kid in high school yet he’d stop by to say hi and see how things were going. I think the majority of his employees through the years respect that man to this day.

Patty Engstad Peterson – Mr. Prescott hired my mentally challenged brother in the 70’s, he will always be a hero in my eyes. In return my brother was a hard working man who gave 100%, I will forever be grateful for what this man did!

Becky Trzebiatowski – Gaynor I worked for George for many years at Pick N Save South. He was always friendly, caring, and knew his employees by their first name. He would stop and talk with his employees to catch up on what was going on. I also appreciated the dollars for scholars program as I was saving money for college. I am proud to say I use to work for him.

Sue Drews Rindfleisch – George by far was the best businessman I have ever had the privilege to work for. He cared about every single one of his employees and it showed every time you saw him. Truly a very caring and giving man in many ways!!!

Deb Anderson – I worked in the floral department (now the entry to the new senior center!). George Prescott always had a warm greeting and smile for his employees. There was a very different relationship in those days between employers and employees. They appreciated…See More

Barb Peterson – I moved to West Bend in ’84 and remember Prescott’s Shoprite before it became P&S South. Employees not only bagged your groceries, but helped load it into your car. In the winter, people left their cars running in the parking lot to keep them warm. Unheard of now-a-days.

Chris Uhrig Steiner – I worked for George at the Super Val from 74-76 when I went away to college. He was a fantastic boss & a great neighbor! I learned so much and was given the opportunity to work in many areas of the store. It was a privilege to have George as my first boss

Sherrie Rumick – I worked at Prescott’s Super Value/Shop Rite 1978-1984. What a great working experience for a student going through school. Was a pleasure to work with George and Judy, and rest of the crew!

Wendy Hofmann-Galecki – He was one of the best people I’ve worked for. Always addressed all his employees by name and recognized you for something you did great in the store. Very friendly and visible in his store. Pick and Save’s have never been the same since George left

Jerry Fellenz – I shopped at the South Main store most every week. I would see him greet customers as they entered the store and always thank them as they left. A good guy who worked hard and an asset to the community.

Sue Stautz Meyer – He always had a smile and a kind word. No one was beneath him. His student program helped many a child succeed. He was sincere…you can’t fake that.

Jim Strowig – When I was a kid he has asked me if I needed help finding anything, I always said I know where everything is, always smiled and was cheerful

Tracy Wilson – Great man! Great business! 10 years I worked for him in the floral dept! Those were the good ol days! Loved the team, loved the job, and learned a lot!!

Ryan Lesperance – Best boss I have ever had. You felt proud working hard for him. One of the most generous people I have ever met

Ed Tennies – When the tornado hit WB he opened his heart and store to the community.

Helen Wolf – He was always very friendly and spent a lot of time actually walking around the store talking with employees and customers.

Diane Johns DelVecchio – I worked for George at the store and appreciated all he did for the community. Not only did he have dollars for scholars he had the homeowner program. He would contribute money in a fund for you and after so many years you could use that money to buy a new house, or to do improvements on your existing house. When he sold the business he could have just said sorry that I can’t pass this on to Roundys. He actually distributed the contributions to us. He is the best boss I ever have had!

Mary Rieder I worked at the Pick n Saves from the time George opened the north store in West Bend till he sold to Roundys. Meet my husband there & all 6 of our kids worked at the Pick n Saves at one time or another. We appreciated the Home Ownership program & all of our kids got involved in Dollars for Scholars. George was a great business owner and I have never regretted staying at one job for so many years.

Bob Hamacher George was the best boss I ever worked for. He treated everyone with respect and made you want to give your all for him.

Kerianne Wolf Prescott’s Pick n Save was my very first job as a teen. George was always smiling and asking staff and customers how they were doing and if he could assist in any way. What a great man to work for. He held his everyone to very high standards.

Jim Schwartz We used to live just down the street when Judy and George came to town and managed Super Value they went to work early in the day and came home late. They were both hard workers and community ordinated. Over the years they have contributed many hours, goods and much good will to West Bend. Thanks Judy and George wish you the best

Heather Yahnke-Klump I worked at the North store throughout college. The dollars for scholars program helped me immensely. George was a very nice guy who was very interactive with customers and staff.


Judy Steffes, Editor

Washington County Insider

Administration Estimates $103 Million In Savings if State Self-Insures

Do it.

“Self-insurance allows us to get a taxpayer savings of $103 million with no changes to benefits to state employees,” Department of Administration Secretary Scott Neitzel said Friday during a press conference with Walker’s budget director Waylon Hurlburt and Deputy Insurance Commissioner J.P. Wieske.

The $103 million in savings includes the $60 million in general purpose revenue, a $22 million health insurer fee under the Affordable Care Act and $21 million worth of premium increases that would not materialize if the state self-insured, according to Hurlburt.

But critics say the Walker administration numbers are misleading because bids for health plans aren’t due until June 30, so the figures are based on assumptions.

Um… budgets are always based on assumptions…


Worst President Ever

While I suspect that these results will remain substantially the same over time relative to each president, I suspect that the huge variances are because the respondents to this poll suffer from recency bias.


Update of West Bend Teacher Separations

Date: May 26, 2017 at 3:06:44 PM
Subject:Update for High School Families

Good afternoon parents and community members,

We wanted to advise you about a change in District staffing at the high schools which may have a short-term impact on the remaining few days of your child’s school year. Effective today, four of our teachers elected to resign from their positions at West Bend East and West High Schools. While we understand that the timing of these resignations is not ideal, the District accepted them due to the specific circumstances leading up to the resignations. Please know that while we wish to be as transparent as possible, due to confidentiality laws and out of respect for the privacy of the educators involved, we are unable to provide further details about the specifics of their resignations. We can say factually, however, that these resignations were in no way related to any opinions expressed about curriculum.

Additionally, your child may have noticed an increased police presence during their school day today. While no specific threat was identified in advance, we were made aware of social media conversations which indicated there was the potential for disruption at some point during the school day. Thus, the decision was made, in conjunction with the West Bend Police Department, to increase officer visibility throughout the day as a precaution.

We want to reiterate that our primary focus continues to be the instruction of your children, and ensuring that they are prepared for the upcoming final exams, and the end of the school year. We will not lose sight of that focus.

Lastly, out of regard for the four educators involved, we encourage you to respect their privacy moving forward.


Erik Olson, Superintendent

Tracey Conners, Principal West Bend High Schools

I have heard from a couple of sources that this has to do with some inappropriate online activity that dates back a couple of weeks. They were told to knock it off and they didn’t. After getting caught again, they were told to resign or be fired, reportedly. Interesting that they all chose to resign. That would indicate that they knew they were caught dead to rights. Otherwise, they would have been better off to get fired and sue the district for wrongful termination.

I have asked the president of the school board for comment. So far, she has not responded (I asked yesterday). I have also filed an open records request for more details. In the meantime, I hope that the district shields the kids from as much of the unfortunate consequences of this as possible.

Republican Wins in Montana

It does seem that despite the media saying that there will be a huge electoral backlash against Republicans because of Trump, they have disproved that assertion in every test election since November.

Bozeman, Montana (CNN)Republican Greg Gianforte has won the special election for Montana’s open US House seat, CNN projects, defeating Democrat Rob Quist and capping off a whirlwind final 36 hours of the campaign that saw Gianforte being charged for allegedly assaulting a reporter.

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who accused the Republican of “body-slamming” him and breaking his glasses.
“When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it,” Gianforte told his supporters at his Election Night rally in Bozeman. “That’s the Montana way.”
Saying he was “not proud” of his behavior, he added, “I should not have responded the way I did, for that I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I’m sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.”
Members of the supportive crowd shouted, “You’re forgiven.”

UK Sharing Again

That was quick.

Britain has reopened information-sharing ties with the US again – less than 24 hours after suspending intelligence sharing over leaked evidence from the Manchester bombing.

An extraordinary row erupted between British and US authorities after highly sensitive images of the blood-smeared remnants of attacker Salman Abedi’s backpack and a diagram showing precisely where his victims died were handed to the New York Times.

The halting of intelligence sharing with the US happened for what is understood to be the first time.

It applied only to intelligence related to the Manchester attack.

JFC Advances Measure to Require Work for Welfare

It’s a move in the right direction.

The state Legislature’s budget-writing committee voted on Thursday to require some Wisconsin residents using food stamps and receiving public health care to be tested for drug use and to meet work requirements in exchange for benefits.

The Joint Finance Committee, the state’s budget-writing panel, voted 12-4 to approve Walker’s plan that would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to make drug tests mandatory for Medicaid recipients and would impose tests on adult food stamp recipients without dependent children seeking coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.

Some parents with children over the age of 6 who are enrolled in the state’s FoodShare program, which administers federally funded food stamps in Wisconsin, also would be required to work or look for employment for at least 80 hours per month under another measure proposed by Walker that the panel approved Thursday. The work requirement currently only applies to FoodShare recipients without children.

The panel scaled back the governor’s proposal by applying the work requirement to parents using food stamps in certain regions of the state between April 2019 and June 2020 and not allowing the requirements to be applied statewide until an evaluation indicates it should be.

West Bend School District Fires Four Teachers

Well, this is unfortunate considering there are only a couple of weeks left in the school year.

Good Evening Parents,
We would like to communicate to you that there may be a change to your child’s English teacher for the remainder of the semester. Should a change need to occur, a certified English teacher will be placed in your child’s classroom to continue quality instruction and see to it that your child is prepared for success as we approach final exams.
We apologize for the disruption to the routine this may cause your child. We are confident that your child’s needs will be supported through the end of the school year.
For confidentiality reasons we are unable to provide specific details, but appreciate your understanding.

Tracey Conners

Rumors are swirling and for obvious reasons, the school district can’t disclose information since this is a personnel matter. Federal and state laws prohibit an employer from such disclosures. But my understanding is that it has something to do with inappropriate online activity of a non-sexual nature. I’m sure we will get more details in the coming days.

Brits Concerned About American Leaks

I don’t blame them. What has become clear is that some in our intelligence community have become very comfortable with leaking classified information – usually to advance a political agenda. In order to put a stop to it, the DOJ needs to find some of the leakers and really nail them to the wall. A couple of decades in prison for a leaker would certainly discourage others.

Burnham, a Labour mayor, also said he had spoken with the US ambassador to Britain about his concerns.
Two Labour lawmakers tweeted their concern Wednesday. Yvette Cooper said she was very troubled by the leaks amidst a “live investigation where public safety at risk,” while Lilian Greenwood asked, “What is the Government doing with US counterparts to address these breaches?”
US sources were the first to reveal the identity of the bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, leading to concern that police efforts to hunt down his associates could be impacted.
On Wednesday, The New York Times posted photos that show what it said could be the detonator, a battery, nuts and screws for shrapnel, and fragments of a backpack used in the attack.
Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council warned Wednesday that leaks of potential evidence “undermine our investigations.”

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.