Author Archives: Owen

Some Further Thoughts on the West Bend School Board

There have been a few developments in the ongoing travesty of governance occurring with the West Bend School Board. You can catch up with my earlier posts (post one and post two). Basically, a group of board members led by the board president are running roughshod over and semblance of process or propriety to create two new principal positions and then appoint people into those jobs instead of running through a normal hiring process.

In thinking about it over the past couple of days, I had to take a step back and wonder if I missed something. Was there an overwhelming public push to change from one high school administration to two? Did I miss the social media push, letters to the editor, feedback in public meetings, etc? I looked, and I don’t think so.

When the new Superintendent came on board last year, he spent several months doing nothing by meeting with community groups, teachers, parents, local businesses, etc. to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Here is link to his findings that he released in November last year. There is no mention at all of any concern about having a single high school administration. None. One would have thought that someone might have mentioned it if it were such a concern. Perhaps a person or two mentioned it, but certainly not in any volume sufficient to make it into the top ten issues for the district.

I also followed the election we had for school board in April fairly closely. I don’t recall any of the candidates speaking to any concern or anybody from the community asking anything about it in any of the various forums. We had a robust debate about the future of the district and its problems, and the issue of a single high school principal was hardly mentioned – if ever.

So why the pants on fire urgency to make this change and appoint people to the new roles? Why the sudden need to call a special session and ram it through with no public input, no cost estimate, no planning, no hiring process? Where did all of this urgency come from?

I did notice two developments since I last wrote about this. First, the board has changed its agenda for tomorrow. On Friday, it said, “Possible board appointment of East High School Principal and appointment of West High School principal.” That language has been changed. Now it says, “Introduction of possible candidates for East High School Principal and West High School Principal.”

So apparently the board has felt enough pressure to hold off on appointing right away, but will introduce possible candidates and then appoint one of them a week or so later. It is a fig leaf of process. One wonders who they will be introducing. What was the application process? Could anyone throw their hat in?

As a side note, the school board runs the serious risk of substantial legal liability by following this path. By definition, appointing someone to a job instead of having an open and fair application and hiring process means that they are arbitrarily limiting the candidate pool.  The EEOC looks into these kind of things:

The laws enforced by EEOC prohibit an employer or other covered entity from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), or national origin, or on an individual with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities, if the polices or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. The laws enforced by EEOC also prohibit an employer from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative impact on applicants or employees age 40 or older, if the policies or practices at issue are not based on a reasonable factor other than age.

The whole point of having an open application process is to not only allow the opportunity to find the best candidates, but also to ensure that the process is fair and available to anyone interested in the job. Process matters and bypassing that process is an act of arbitrary discrimination by the board.

The second thing that has happened is that board member Joel Ongert has posted a lengthy defense of the his actions on his FaceBook page. In it, he makes a couple of interesting comments. First, there’s this one:

What is also exciting is that returning to the two Principal model creates an opportunity to eliminate the (open) position of Director of Secondary Education. Those job responsibilities can easily be enveloped within the two Principal roles as was done in the past.

So is there another organizational change coming? Will there be the opportunity for public input on this one? One of the complaints about a single administration was that the principal was too busy to have a good relationship with the kids. If we take the same FTE count and add in another FTE worth of responsibilities, how does that help? This position might be worth a review, but I sure hope that the board takes a serious look at it and doesn’t just accept the union’s talking points at face value (eliminating this position is a bugaboo of the union).

Ongert also makes this claim:

Not only is there no net cost to the taxpayer, there is a net savings (assuming they eliminate the Director of Secondary Education)

This is a repeat of the assertion that the decision to have two principals instead of one is a cost neutral decision. Bear in mind that they are making that assertion without the benefit of any study or cost estimate. It is a baseless claim. In fact, on the surface, it looks like it will cost more.

Right now there is one principal in five assistant principals. The working assumption is that they will now have two principals and four assistant principals – thus retaining six FTEs. But principals are paid more than assistant principals. So even with the same six FTEs, having two of them be principals will, indeed, cost more. That’s more money for administration and less for classrooms.

Finally, I return to the election we had a few short months ago. During that election, the three candidates who were running on the same platform made a big deal about transparency, research, and fiscal restraint. Then candidate Tonnie Schmidt said:

What I can guarantee is that if elected, I will request a wholesale analysis of the WBSD organization chart to ensure position redundancy is monitored and eliminated, that personnel expertise matches the position expectations and that all hiring processes are fair moving forward. I will ask the questions and set the example for accountability.

I’m running for the students who deserve equal opportunity, not forced cookie cutter approaches to education and standardized assessments.

I’m running for the employees who have missed opportunities to lead or excel because of organizational nepotism, unfair processes and bias.

I’m running for taxpayers who believed there were stalwart, conservatives overseeing their hard earned money who instead rubber stamped approvals on every suggestion.

Where is the “wholesale analysis” that was done before making this change? What about “hiring processes are fair?” When did she “ask the questions” during the board meeting where they made this decision? Why did the board “rubber stamp approval on” a suggestion allegedly made to President Larson at a listening panel? Where is the thoughtful, informed, transparent decision making we were promised?

Finally (for real this time), I have asked several times for comment from school board members. To date, the only one who has responded is Monte Schmiege, who deferred to the board leadership. While I am occasionally a critic of the school board, I am also a taxpayer and stakeholder in the district. My elected board members are refusing to even return my emails or calls. So much for constituent services or representative government. Every other elected official at least responds.

 

Monkeying With Copyright Law

Poor guy.

Eyes gleaming amber, teeth goofy and mouth wide as if in laughter. After returning to Britain, Dave made a few thousand pounds from distributing the photos — covering the cost of his trip to Indonesia. But over time, with the rise of the selfie, his monkey snap became a classic — published more than 50million times around the world.

But instead of bringing Dave financial security and a warm glow of professional pride, it has caused him untold misery, cost him his life savings and marked the end of his photography career.

His story has all the elements of a 21st-century farce — involving crazy controversy over copyright law in a Californian court, and the ‘inhumanity’ of an activist animal charity that has filed a suit against Dave on behalf of the six- year- old male macaque, claiming it is the rightful owner of the photograph’s copyright.

So it is that for the past six years he has been embroiled in what must be one of the most pointless, idiotic, money-wasting andaggressive legal battles of all time. So, who owns the copyright? Dave or the monkey?

Dave has never been in any doubt. ‘Of course it was my copyright!’ he says. ‘I set the background. I decided where the sun was going to hit the monkey.

‘I selected the lens and I processed the images. The creativity was all mine, and it required a lot of perseverance, sweat and anguish.’

His problems began when Californian-based blog Techdirt and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (whose mission statement is ‘to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free licence or in the public domain’) muscled in.

They claimed the image was uncopyrightable because the monkey was the creator — and so they uploaded the picture onto their websites, free for anyone to use. To Dave, this was an assault on his livelihood.

Flynn Chafes at Oversight

It seems that someone is uncomfortable with someone looking over his shoulder.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said he’ll change the department’s chase policy but is not promising to meet all of the conditions set by the city’s Fire and Police Commission.

“I was taken aback by the level of detail this directive engaged in. I’ve never seen anything remotely like that,” Flynn said. “And I was appalled by the threat of discipline that was appended to it.”

Flynn, defiant and at times exasperated, sounded off on the commission’s rare directive and looked toward his future during a brief interview Friday after he unveiled the department’s new ice cream truck.

The commission, a civilian oversight board, has ordered Flynn to change the policy so officers can chase vehicles on a to-be-created “high-value target” list of vehicles used in rolling drug houses, a practice explored by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as vehicles that have fled from police at least twice before.

The board also wants the policy to allow officers to chase fleeing vehicles when officers have probable cause the vehicle engaged in “excessively reckless driving.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Another Kwik Trip coming to West Bend

Plans are in the works to build another Kwik Trip in Washington County.

Hans Zietlow, director of real estate for Kwik Trip, said they do have a piece of property currently under contract and they’re working through the process.

The property is the former Walgreens, 806 S. Main Street in West Bend.

That location, according to the West Bend City Assessor’s office, has been vacant since late 2010 when Walgreens closed because its new store opened just south of Paradise Drive.

Halloween Express did open in this location, but that was temporary and seasonal.

If this site plan is approved by the city of West Bend this would be the fifth Kwik Trip in Washington County. There’s one currently on Highway 60 in Slinger and another further up the road in Hartford, Germantown has a Kwik Trip on Maple Road and West Bend’s first Kwik Trip opened on Silverbrook Drive on Oct. 27, 2016.

Zietlow said he likes this location for several reasons, but primarily because it’s the center of town.

“West Bend by any stretch of the imagination doesn’t have a bad part but this is a central location,” said Zietlow. “Everything else is going to the edges such as Highway 33 and Paradise Drive so this leaves us a little bit of gap in the center.”

On more of a neighborhood note, folks on Decorah Road will appreciate it because they’ve been without a convenience store since Pat’s Jiffy Stop closed in November 2016.

Zietlow said Kwik Trip has not submitted any paperwork yet to the city. “Until we have the approval we can’t really set a time frame on when we will be opening,” he said.

A couple other notes about the proposed Kwik Trip site on Main and Decorah:

– the 2017 property assessment for the empty Walgreens is $2.52 million

– Zietlow’s comment about being welcomed in West Bend. “I don’t think we’ve ever been as warmly received in a community as this one. I’m going to guess we’re going to be even more well received the second time around.”

– The first Kwik Trip in West Bend opened Oct. 27, 2016 in the 1700 block of Silverbrook Drive just about a half-block north of Paradise Drive.  Zietlow it’s doing “very, very well.”

-The lot size on Main and Decorah is about 1.4 acres. The lot size on Silverbrook is about 3.02 acres.

-The gas station/convenience store on Silverbrook is 7,000 square feet with 26 gas pumps on five islands and a car wash. Zietlow said plans for the station/convenience store on Main and Decorah will not have a car wash.

-Questioned if there will be two Kwik Trips in West Bend could there be three? “Well there’s room for three but we don’t have any other plans for anything else,” said Zietlow.

-If this Kwik Trip would get approved it would build it in 2018.

-Zietlow said Kwik Trip is looking at building about 50 new stores in 2017 and having several acquisitions as well. “We’re actually looking at building 50 new stores a year for the next five years,” said Zietlow.

Booklet for Junior Livestock Auction has arrived  

 This week the UW-Extension mailed its 48th annual Washington County Fair Jr. Livestock Auction booklet to area businesses. The 5-page booklet contains a list of potential 4-H youth exhibitors for swine, beef and sheep. The annual auction at the Farm Progress Show Arena gets underway at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 27.

West Bend School Board votes on high school principals

After a little more than 35 minutes of discussion the West Bend School Board on Thursday night, during a special meeting, voted 4 – 1 to implement a standard of two principals at the West Bend High Schools rather than the current standard of one principal for both schools.

Tiffany Larson, Tonnie Schmidt, Nancy Justman and Joel Ongart voted in favor of the two principal motion. Monte Schmiege was the lone dissenting vote. Ken Schmidt and Tim Stellmacher were not in attendance.

Details such as cost, salary and implementation of a two-principal structure were not discussed.  Calls have been placed to school board candidates and we will post those details once more information is provided.

Below are some bullet points from the meeting:

Tiffany Larson – “If two principals in the original setup can improve the responsiveness and the understanding and the identity communication then I would regret waiting another year to promote that kind of positive change.”

Monte Schmiege – “Was the listening session about dividing up into two principals?”

Tiffany Larson – “There’s been multiple listening panels over the past year. The most recent one was, no not about dividing into two principals it was it was simply the wonderings after the interview session and one of the wondering was I wonder if we’d function better with two principals.  Is this job too big for one person?”

Monte Schmiege –  “This has come up rather quickly, in my opinion too hastily to provide the opportunity for the entire community to express their opinions and …. you know I believe the superintendent was intending to have this matter looked at in this coming year and have it studied and come up with a reasonable recommendation to divide into two principals I would certainly endorse that plan and approve it without any hesitation. But it has not been studied so this is just a hasty move.”

Monte Schmiege – “I find it a little surprising that there’s an agenda that says ‘high school administrative reorganization’ and we have three or four speakers who already know it’s about two principals. I don’t know how the community would know that from this notice but four people currently know about it.  So I don’t think the community has been properly involved in making this decision.”

Monte Schmiege – “I’m in favor of delaying this decision until there’s been a proper study and input by the community on the decision.”

Tiffany Larson – “In my opinion the two-principal structure was studied for about 40 years and then we studied the one principal arrangement for three or four and we decided it just wasn’t working as effectively as the old model. So I don’t see it necessarily as a hasty decision as much as one that was perhaps three years in the making. And we’re finally at a point where we can actually make a decision and I consider it really doing what’s best for kids…”

Joel Ongert – “I’d like to make a motion. I don’t have a prepared motion in front of me so I apologize for that.  I move to proceed with the hiring of a principal for East High School and a principal for West High School for the upcoming school year.”

Update posted Friday – In less than 24 hours since five of seven members of the West Bend School Board voted 4 – 1 to hire two high school principals for the 2017-2018 school year it appears the board is ready to “possibly approve appointments.”

The Monday, July 24 agenda shows an action item: “Possible Board appointment of East High School principal and appointment of West High School principal.”

Calls have been place for the second time to elected members of the school board following Thursday’s 5:10 p.m. meeting.

 Pizza Ranch at Ponderosa moving forward

 Designs for the proposed Pizza Ranch in West Bend will go before the West Bend Plan Commission on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Last April, WashingtonCountyInsider.com reported Pizza Ranch had a purchase agreement in place with Steve Kilian for the former Ponderosa building, 2020 W. Washington Street.

A segment of the April article read:

For the past year, since its initial announcement in March 2016, neighbors have been supporting the development of Pizza Ranch in West Bend. Many chimed in on social media, itching for the restaurant chain to take over the old Ponderosa building on W. Washington Street which has been vacant since Kilian purchased the property in 2011.

During a Friday afternoon conversation, Miller acknowledging the Ponderosa parcel was actually one of their first preferences.

“We looked at this property a while back, but because of the higher price we didn’t really think it made sense,” said Miller. “After considering the better location with the frontage road, we are real comfortable with the whole situation and we signed the purchase agreement. Steve Killian has been excellent to work with in putting this deal together.”

As far as the timeline on moving forward, Miller said it should be rather swift. “The nice thing about the old Ponderosa is it has concrete walls, which we can keep as well as the steel roof support. We’ll completely gut the interior and upgrade the facade to Pizza Ranch standards.”

Miller said the “site also requires no excavation work, allowing for a quicker start.”

Miller said that the principal owners Matt and Stacy Gehring will be managing the property.

It’s taken several months to draw up new plans to remodel the old Ponderosa.

Some of the details to be reviewed by the Plan Commission on the 1.9-acre lot include:

– a 5,154-square-foot building

-100 parking stalls

– two proposed building additions including one pickup area

The West Bend Plan Commission gets underway 6 p.m. in the council chambers at West Bend City Hall.

 West Bend aldermen to vote Monday on deer management 

There will be a recommendation before the West Bend Common Council on Monday concerning the Deer Management Assistance Program.

During a meeting in November 2016 the Deer Management Assistant Program reviewed whether to issue special permits to allow bow hunting to trim the deer herd in local parks as neighbors asked city officials to help manage the deer in the city.

According to Park and Rec director Craig Hoeppner the Park and Rec staff did an old-fashioned deer drive and the count was 28 deer at Lac Lawrann, Ridge Run Park had 41 deer, Regner had 9 and Silverbrook Parkway had 18.

In March, Lac Lawrann voted unanimously that it be a test and sample site for a controlled hunt.

The Park & Recreation Commission voted unanimously at its June 29 meeting to forward the following recommendations to the Common Council regarding deer management in city parks.

Primary recommendation is to take no action at this time, for the following reasons:  Public Safety, costs to the City of West Bend, DNR has stated this is not a big problem overall and recent hunts in similar communities have had limited success and effectiveness.

Secondary recommendation, if the Common Council feels there is a deer problem in West Bend that needs to be addressed, it is strongly recommended to start with a test pilot program at Lac Lawrann Conservancy only.  The test to be done in the wintertime, during weekdays and under controlled circumstances.

Monday’s Common Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

 The Corner Score is closing

The Corner Score, 104 N. Main Street in West Bend is closing. Owner Mary Jo Joyce opened the business three years ago.  The building, on the corner of Walnut and Main Street, is owned by Ron Gundrum. The Corner Score, which sells vintage toys and books and whatnot, is due to close the end of August. The space is approximately 4,000 feet total, with 2,000 on the first floor and a full basement for additional storage. Adam Williquette with Anderson Commercial Group is listing the property. The lease is $1,700 a month.

On a history note: That location at 104 N. Main Street has had quite a few businesses over the years. Many neighbors remember Alice’s Flower Shop and Heuer’s Sewing. There was also Schoeber’s Camera followed by Schoeber’s Jewelers. J&L Business was in there for a while and Jeanne Mueller had a shop as well. There was also an exercise place in there and a religious book store.

Updates & tidbits

  A new T-Mobile store has opened in the West Bend Shopping Center. T-Mobile is a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services. There are a bunch of T-Mobile stores in the Milwaukee area. The new store is in the strip mall space north of Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

 -Pete Rettler and Steve Volkert have joined the St. Joseph’s Hospital Board of Directors. Each will begin a three-year term. Rettler is the campus dean for the West Bend Campus at Moraine Park Technical College and Volkert is the city administrator for the City of Hartford.

– The Downtown West Bend Association is looking for vendors for Maxwell Street Day on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The event will run 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Contact at 262-335-3909.

– The Local Collective is moving out of downtown West Bend to Hartford on August 1. Moving into its former location on N. Main Street is Wood N Art, currently located at 111 N. Sixth Ave. above Slesar Glass. Owner Janalee Bach has custom-made wood signs and photography.

– The Starbucks on 18th Avenue in West Bend has been issued an occupancy permit.

-The annual Cedar Community Butterfly Release is Saturday, Aug. 12 at Cedar Ridge Campus. This fundraising event benefits Cherished Moments, Cedar Community at Home’s hospice program, and helps with the purchase of a new pontoon boat for residents. Reservations are $25 and the deadline is Friday, July 28.

-The Kettle Moraine YMCA will hold its 16th annual Golf Outing Friday, Aug. 14 at the West Bend Country Club. All proceeds benefit the YMCA’s Annual Campaign. The Kettle Moraine YMCA provides over $325,000 in financial assistance, helping a total of 1,600 individuals, which is one in six of our members. Register today – a foursome is $700.

-The annual Jingle Bell Open is Monday, August 7 at West Bend Lakes Golf Course. The fundraiser is for the West Bend Community Christmas Parade. Registration is 10 a.m. with an 11 a.m. shot gun start.

-The Washington County Fair opens Tuesday, July 25. Here’s a story by Kate Delcore from Washington County 4H – Something new and exciting for this year’s Washington County Fair, is the 4-H Feathers & Fur Auction. The traditional Poultry Champions Auction has been expanded so that this year there will be Champion birds along with more meat birds and even some rabbits. That means more opportunities to bid and support 4-H youth! This event will take place on Friday July 28, 2017. Registration is at 5:30 p.m. with the auction starting at 6:30 p.m. While you are waiting for the auction to start, you will be able to view the animals that will be in the auction and see (or participate) in the amateur rooster crowing contest. Feel free to stop by the small animal barn if you have any questions. See you at the fair.

Family of Drowned Girl Sues West Bend

The inevitable lawsuits that follow in the wake of tragedy.

A Milwaukee family is suing an assortment of West Bend officials over a drowning death at Regner Park.

According to a lawsuit filed on July 21st, 6-year-old Swannie Her was swimming at Regner Park on June 11th, 2016, when she was found unresponsive in “four to five feet of water in the south west area of the pond.”

The family says three lifeguards were at their stations, while more than 200 people swam in the pond.

State law requires 5 lifeguards to be stationed for swimming areas larger than 10,000 square feet. The square footage of the swimming area is not posted, but a to-scale map posted on the city website shows it to be between 30,000-60,000 square feet.

According to the lawsuit, “three lifeguards actively monitoring the water were insufficient to meet the requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.”

The family also says Her was swimming in an area of the pond that requires a swim test and wristband to access. They say she had not taken a test, and was not wearing a wristband.

Attorney General Liberalizes Civil Forfeiture

This is a horrible expansion of an unconstitutional and abusive practice.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signed an order on Wednesday reversing the Obama administration’s limits on civil asset forfeiture, a widely criticized practice in which law enforcement officers seize cash and property from citizens who have not been charged with crimes.

The policy change comes as a number of states — both red and blue — have clamped down on civil forfeiture abuses, and it will allow local police departments to circumvent state laws that restrict the practice.

[…]

In the last three years, 24 states have comprehensively reformed their forfeiture laws, according to Sheth. As of July 10, when Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed H.B. 8146, 14 states require a criminal conviction before seized assets can be legally forfeited to authorities (if no conviction results, the assets must be returned to their owner).

Several states have other types of restrictions — some ban the use of forfeited assets for law enforcement services and reroute the money to other public services, thereby eliminating the profit motive some say leads to abuse of the practice. (For a specific list of individual state policies, visit the Institute of Justice’s interactive map.)

But Sessions’ order gives officers a way to bypass state restrictions.

It revives a program called Equitable Sharing or “adoptive forfeiture,” which allows local law enforcement to process forfeiture cases under federal statute and “share” the assets with federal authorities. In practice, the federal government sends up to 80 percent of the assets right back to local departments, effectively allowing them to get around stricter state laws, says Rulli. Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general, eliminated adoptive forfeiture except in rare cases.

West Bend School Board Prepares to Appoint New Principals

Well, well… the West Bend School Board posted its agenda for its Monday meeting. It includes this:

Action Item 6:45 a. Possible Board appointment of East High School principal and appointment of West High School principal

So here’s where we are… Sometime late Wednesday, the school board president posted notice of a special meeting for Thursday afternoon. On Thursday afternoon – without any public input, study, recommendation from the administration, cost estimate, job descriptions, org structure, or any other details – the school board voted to change from one to two principals for the West Bend High Schools. And now on Monday afternoon, they intend to appoint those principals without any time for people to submit applications, public input, interviews, etc.

This has all the hallmarks of a board that has already colluded to create and then ram a couple of people into these positions. Such collusion would be illegal and a violation of open meeting laws. The lack of any real discussion of the issue on Thursday, or even asking the superintendent to weigh in, indicates that they had either already discussed it, or they have such a passive interest in asking tough questions that it borders on incompetence.  They already demonstrated astonishingly poor governance on Thursday. They appear to be about to compound that on Monday.

I will state again that two principals may indeed be preferable to one. I can certainly see the rationale for it. But the lack of transparency, nonexistent communication, eschewing of public input, failure to do even a rudimentary study of the costs or consequences, and disregard for even basic principles of good governance being displayed by this board is deplorable.

 

Walker Signs School Choice Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bieber Banned

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

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

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

Budget Deal?

Perhaps.

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

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

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

[…]

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

West Bend High Schools to Have Two Principals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Caught

From the West Bend police

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

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

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

 

The Juice is Loose!

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

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

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

“Huge, big numbers” for Foxxconn Subsidies

One wonders what the package will be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Was Just Released

This is unacceptable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency School Board Meeting Tonight in West Bend

Well, this is curious

NOTICE OF SPECIAL BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING

Education Service Center 735 S. Main Street,

West Bend Board Room Thursday,

July 20, 2017 5:00 pm

Call to order

1. Action Item

a. High School Administrative Reorganization

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

Adjourn

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

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

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

We’ll see what happens tonight.

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

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

NAACP Opposes Naming Madison Building After Obama

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

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

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

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

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

Strong Arm Car Jacking at West Bend Pig

Grrrr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guy Arrested After Reporting Bad Batch of Meth

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

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

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

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

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

Egalitarianism Defeated Liberty

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

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