Category Archives: Politics

Facebook Sells User Data

There’s something I’ve taught my kids for years… if you aren’t paying for it, you ARE the product. How did people think Facebook made money?

Facebook is facing a crescendo of questions about how its user data came to be harvested for political purposes as investors continue to take fright at the risk the scandal poses to its business.

Claims by the New York Times and UK media that Cambridge Analytica tried to influence how Americans voted using information improperly gleaned from 50 million Facebook users have already seriously hurt its brand.

The London-based data analysis firm worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign. It has denied the claims and says it did not use Facebook data in the 2016 campaign.

West Bend asks if it’s time for a tax increase to pay for streets

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

The West Bend Common Council has reached a crossroads and is turning to the public for advice. After almost a decade without a tax increase, the city’s streets are in good condition, but they could be better. Are the taxpayers willing to stomach a tax increase to pay for better streets? That is the subject of four advisory referendums on the April 3 ballot.

Maintaining the city’s streets is a core function of city government. Quality streets are critical to the city’s economy and quality of life. Measuring the quality of streets is also inherently subjective. West Bend has about 134 miles of streets, but nobody drives on all of them. Any citizen’s perception of the quality of the city’s streets is limited to their experiences on the subset of streets they use. If the street I live on is crumbling, then I am more likely to think that the city’s streets are poor.

Many Wisconsin municipalities use the PASER rating system to try to measure the overall quality of the streets. The PASER rating ranges from 1 to 10, with a 10 being a new street. The city evaluates all of the streets every two years. The PASER rating is based on a subjective visual observation of the streets, but it gives us some benchmark against which to gauge the quality of the city’s streets.

West Bend’s average PASER rating was 5.89 in 2011 when the city began increasing spending on street maintenance by about 4 percent every year. In 2017, that rating rose to 6.04. That is considered “good” on the PASER scale and comparable with cities of a similar size. Keep in mind, however, that there is a lot of subjectivity inherent to the PASER rating, so changes of a few decimal points are not necessarily relevant. Also, no study has shown any correlation between a city’s PASER rating and citizen satisfaction — largely because of the perception issue mentioned earlier.

The equation for getting better streets is pretty simple at the local level: spend more, faster. While the city will likely be able to save some money on projects thanks to the repeal of the prevailing wage laws, those savings will have a marginal impact on overall spending at a municipal scale. The question then becomes, do the citizens of West Bend want better streets? If so, how do they want to pay for it? Those are the questions the four referendum questions seek to answer.

Referendum questions 1 and 2 ask if the taxpayers want to increase property taxes by $640,000 or $1.2 million, respectively, to be used for streets. Question 3 asks if the citizens would like to implement a $20 wheel tax to be used exclusively for road designated borrowing.Question 4 asks if the city’s citizens would support an agreement with Washington County to distribute up to 25 percent of the proceeds of the county sales tax to municipalities to pay for roads.

On these four questions, I will be voting, “no,” “heck, no,” “are you kidding me?” and “nope,” respectively.

The first three questions are straightforward. If you want to spend more on the city’s streets, they are asking the amount and method of payment. I do not support raising any taxes to spend more on the streets. Frankly, the city has been doing a good job in maintaining the city’s streets and slowly improving them over time within the confines of the funds available. It has been an impressive display of leadership and good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money for which the city’s leadership and staff deserve commendation. I have confidence in their continued leadership in this regard.

The fourth question is interesting in that a vote on an advisory referendum regarding something the County Board might consider is almost completely meaningless. In fact, the County Board and county administrator have already shot down the idea. In theory, if the county has a sales tax that is collected from all of the citizens in the county, it is not unreasonable for the county to remit some of those proceeds back to the municipalities.

The sales tax in Washington County was originally passed as a temporary tax to fund a few major capital projects. I still cling with childlike belief to the hope that a conservative County Board will one day honor their predecessors’ word to the taxpayers and end the sales tax. The addition of more municipal fingers into the sales tax pie makes the possibility of ending the county sales tax even less likely.

West Bend has been a case study is solid conservative city management for several years. They have kept taxes flat while meeting the city’s priorities and maintaining or improving services. These referendum questions are a sincere query of the citizens to ask if the time has come to raise taxes to improve the city’s streets faster. No, that time has not yet come, but the city’s leaders earned the right to ask. Keep up the good work, West Bend.

Liberal Politician Apologizes for Anti-Semitic Video

Uh huh. The classic, “some of my best friends are Jews” defense.

A local lawmaker in Washington, DC, has apologised for sharing a video based on a conspiracy theory that Jewish financiers control the weather.

Councilman Trayon White Sr posted a video of snow flurries on Friday and warned of “climate manipulation”.

He blamed the Rothschilds, a famous Jewish business dynasty, who are a target of anti-Semitic conspiracies.

Mr White apologised for his comments on social media and said he “did not intend to be anti-Semitic”.

I really do apologise,” he said on Twitter. “I work very closely with the Jewish community and never want to offend anyone, especially with Anti-Semitic remarks.”

Why Are We Protecting Shipwrecks?

I’m going to ask a politically incorrect question, but why are we protecting shipwrecks? What’s the public interest?

TWO RIVERS, Wis. – Dozens of people made a vocal call to Governor Scott Walker to help protect Lake Michigan shipwrecks.
Supporters people rallied in Two Rivers Sunday afternoon.

They’re hoping Walker will name a national marine sanctuary on nearby parts of the lake.

The governor recently pulled back the sanctuary nomination.

Demonstrators say it would bring exposure, tourism, and economic development to the area.

There are a few shipwrecks that are historically significant, but most of them are just human garbage that we left on the bottom of a lake or ocean. They make for interesting diving, but that’s about it.

From what the protesters are saying, the interest seems purely economic. That’s fine, but can we see some financial projections then? What’s the cost of preservation vs. the projected economic benefit? At least we can then make some decisions based on something tangible.

McCabe’s Pension

There’s one thing that keeps nagging me about McCabe’s firing.

McCabe was set to retire on Sunday, after more than two decades at the FBI.  But Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him late Friday, a decision that could significantly affect McCabe’s pension.

McCabe is 49 years old. 49. And he was about to retire from the FBI with a full pension. I realize that we have a social contract whereby we give government workers less salary in exchange for good benefits and pensions, but this is ridiculous. It is one thing for a fire fighter, police officer, soldier, etc. where the strains of the job necessitate an early retirement, but McCabe was essentially a desk jockey for the last 15 years earning well over six figures. Given that most people have to work into their 70s or beyond, we are all having to work 20 more years than McCabe just to pay for his retirement at 49.

I’m not faulting McCabe. It’s not his fault that the system is set up this way. It is our fault for letting it happen. The social contract is out of whack. I don’t think it is too much to ask for our employees to put in a full career before getting a full pension for retirement. Or, we can convert them to defined contribution plans like most Americans and they can retire whenever they want.

Explaining the Upcoming Road Referendum in West Bend

There is a referendum coming up on the April ballot asking the citizens of West Bend what they want to do about their roads. Alderman Rich Kasten took the time to explain it the other night and the Washington County Insider was there to record it for us. Here you go:


Walker Releases School Safety Plan

As I mentioned before, the urge to throw taxpayer dollars at things is a bipartisan disease.

Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday called on lawmakers to take up a $100 million package aimed at providing more security in school buildings across Wisconsin.

But the plan doesn’t call for imposing stricter controls on gun ownership as Democrats have called for, or for arming teachers as some Republicans have said could be a solution to gun violence in the classroom.


Walker’s plan would create an Office of School Safety within the state Department of Justice; it proposes $100 million in grants to schools, on a one-time basis, to help pay for security improvements, training opportunities and police officers.

It’s unclear how the grants would be distributed, but if the $100 million were divided equally among the 2,261 public schools and 818 private schools in Wisconsin, each school would get $32,478.

Creating another government bureaucracy that will arbitrarily hand out handfuls of taxpayer cash is not a solution. It’s an election year gimmick.

Wisconsin Dems Offer Ideas for School Safety

And, of course, the answer is to spend more money on schools.

A Democratic proposal to exempt school safety measures from state-imposed limits on property taxes would cost property owners $85 million, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released Wednesday.

I’ll give the Wisconsin Democrats some credit. Their school safety proposals are not outlandish. They focus on better mental health services and better safety protocols in schools. That’s all good. Their proposals are focusing in the right area, at least.

Where they go off the rails is the way politicians of both sides usually go off the rails… they just want to throw a metric crap ton of taxpayer money at these initiatives. No… the money is there already. It is a matter of prioritization. We spend a lot of money on our schools and it is not unreasonable to expect our local school boards to make safety at least a high a priority as Ceramics and Sculpture (just to pick on one).

Only 14% Turnout for Walkout in West Bend

Good for the kids in West Bend. Despite being encouraged by the district administration, assured that there would not be any consequences  if they walk out, and the administration pushing the protest all the way down to the 5th grade, the vast majority of the kids stayed put. Kudos to a student body that has more sense than some of the folks teaching them.



Government Schools Use Kids for Political Activism

Today we are going to see our government schools encourage and facilitate the use of our children to agitate in support of a political issue. It is an abhorrent abuse of power.

Students across the country and around the world are expected to take part in a National School Walkout today in a call on Congress to pass tighter gun control laws.

The ENOUGH National School Walkout will be held this morning — exactly one month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and sent shock waves across the nation.

“the elephant in the room is semi-automatic guns”

Here is a letter to the editor about me in the Washington County Daily News. It’s a good reminder that when folks like me worry about the liberals wanting to go after our guns, those worries are not unfounded. So much ignorance…

Change the law on semi-automatic guns

I disagree with Owen Robinson’s Feb. 27 article, “Defending Our Kids.” He appears to be OK with the public purchasing semi-automatic rifles. I’ve learned through others that this is what AR15 type guns are called. Sandy Hook happened (20 children killed in 2012) and we did nothing other than decide, by default, that killing children was bearable. Six years later, 14 kids killed and … well, we’ll see what gets done.

Owen said “preserve the footings of individual liberty” and in his summary said “the violence only stops when met with equal force.”

I am just asking for a change. Change the law to put semi-automatic weapons in the same folder as automatic weapons. In 1986, a line in the sand was drawn and fully automatic machine guns were no longer for sale. Recorded Vote 74 was the Hughes Amendment which called for the banning of machine guns. The bill was passed and signed May 19, 1986, by President Ronald Reagan to become Public Law 99-308, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act. Upon Reagan’s signature, the sale of new machine guns to or between civilians was banned.

However, you can, even today, still buy a machine gun legally along with other, even more destructive weapons.

Also on the books, on page 54 of Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s 2008 majority opinion, D.C vs. Heller he wrote, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” Mental illness, government buildings, school, felons, etc. are existing exceptions.

I know there are several contributing factors to this issue but the elephant in the room is semi-automatic guns. Pareto analysis says work on the biggest issue first. Don’t ignore the others, just focus on the thing that will effect the most change, the quickest.

Bruce Wilk West Bend

For the record: yes, I am OK with the public buying semi-automatic firearms.

Tillerson Sacked

Ouch. Sacked by a tweet.

US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

In general, this is a positive move. Tillerson was ineffective as SOS. But it isn’t too much to ask that the President pick up the phone and do it in person.

Another Candidate Jumps into 59th Assembly Race

It’s getting crowded. Here’s the press release.

Today, Rachel Mixon made it official! She will be a candidate for District #59 of the Wisconsin State Assembly. The 59th includes Northern Washington, Eastern Fond du Lac, Western Sheboygan and Southern Calumet Counties.

She is looking to fill the very large shoes of retiring Representative, Jesse Kremer. Mixon, who is currently serving as an Alderperson on the Hartford’s Common Council representing District 3 since 2012, was asked to run by her peers. She will run as a Republican. A demonstrated and dedicated conservative, Mixon considers it a great honor to even be considered and encouraged by her peers to serve the people of the 59th.

Mixon comes from a long line of family members who have faithfully answered the call to give back to their local communities. After much consideration and soul searching, as well as receiving input from friends, neighbors and the Divine, the decision was made.

Since graduating from Cornerstone University (MI) in 1997, where she obtained her teaching degree, Rachel has been a professional educator at Brookfield Academy for 21 years and has been promoted to Department Chair. In her professional career, Mixon made her mark by demanding excellence from herself, her students, and those around her. In her six years on the Council of the largest population center in the district, Mixon has gotten to know how local government works. She was instrumental in planning the current police building without having to raise taxes. Mixon hopes to take her council experience to Madison.

Rachel Mixon will always make herself accessible to those in the District and plans to visit as many Village and Town meetings as possible before the primary so that she can meet those whom she would be serving, and more importantly, learn of their concerns and needs.

In addition to focusing on Education and Education Reform issue solutions, as a Representative, Mixon will work with the districts’ farming communities! Rachel has lived in the district for over 14 years with her supportive family which includes her husband, Dave and son, Luke, 17.  She will work tirelessly to ease the farm family’s transition from one generation to the next. “Farm families should not be burdened by excessive taxes when transferring farm ownership. The family farm has been and will always be the backbone of this country. I have great respect for farmers who are willing to sacrifice their time, talents, and long hours working the soil in order to feed their families as opposed to those of us who have chosen a much easier and lucrative career.”

The primary election is AUGUST 14, 2018!

Warren Defends Her “Truth”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., argued that her family’s claim to Native American ancestry is an indelible part of who she is — something that can never be taken away.

Warren defended herself on NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” Sunday morning when asked what she thought about taking an easily accessible DNA test, such as those offered by 23andMe or Ancestry, to settle the ongoing controversy over her heritage.

Rather than address that question specifically, Warren told a story about how her mother and father, born and raised in Oklahoma, met as teenagers and fell head-over-heels in love. Her father’s family was bitterly opposed to their relationship, she said, because her mother was part Native American, but the couple eloped and persevered.

“That’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our Mom and our Dad, from our grandparents and all of our aunts and uncles. It’s a part of me, and nobody is going to take that part of me away — not ever,” Warren said.

After hearing this story, Todd returned to his initial concern: Why not do genealogical research or take a DNA test to find out her actual heritage? What’s wrong with knowing whether her family’s story was the truth?

“I do know. I know who I am. And never used it for anything, never got any benefit out of it anywhere,” she said.

This is pure liberal. She would rather defend her fictional family lore as “truth” instead of getting to the real truth. The story is more important to her than truth. Meanwhile, she is appropriating someone else’s heritage without shame or apology.

West Bend Columnist Takes Shot at Local Business

There’s a lot of hate in this man.

The NRA is not the only outfit promoting the absolute, god-given right to own and use firearms wherever and whenever we want. We have our own local Delta Defense proudly flying the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag joining that chorus.

For those who missed the Delta Defense signs all over West Bend as it sponsors events and charities to purchase some aura of respectability, the company provides the base for a number of connected entities promoting armed concealed carry and self defense, trading on fear and based on the idea that we need to be ready at a moment’s notice to use deadly force against those who might do us harm.

Tim Schmidt and his wife, Tonnie, who was elected to the West Bend school board last year, founded Delta Defense in 2003. They first opened in Jackson. Then, they purchased the former Museum of Wisconsin Art building across from the West Bend Library, bailing out the museum’s construction loan with a grant from local economic development funds. Next, they got more help from the city to build their new headquarters on the hill behind Boston Store. West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, a proud “Three Percenter,” Second Amendment absolutist and staunch supporter helped engineer city support.

I’ll go on record in saying that Delta Defense has been a fantastic addition to West Bend and is a marvelous corporate citizen. They have expanded, provided jobs, and as Finke so disdainfully admits, has been a tireless contributor to dozens of local charities and community organizations. Delta Defense is the kind of company that people say they want a company to be.

I would also add that Finke is one of the local driving forces behind organizing the anti-gun protest that the students will be having next week. The same protest that the local school district decided to facilitate.

Sloppy management practices in UW System invite abuse

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I tried my best to make a very boring topic more interesting. You be the judge as to whether or not I succeeded. Here you go:

Last year the University of WisconsinOshkosh Foundation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after several suspicious and inappropriate transactions were discovered between the foundation, the university and its chancellor. The fallout from that mess is still being litigated in court. In response, the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducted a study of the relationships between UW institutions and 90 affiliated organizations. The results are disturbing.

First, let us recall what happened at UWO because it serves as an example of how bad things can get. The UW-O Foundation was purportedly dedicated to helping the university. Like many university foundations, it served as a booster club to raise money to help the university pay for things that were not covered in the budget.

Over several years, it was discovered UW-Oshkosh was funneling university money through the foundation for projects like a biodigester and a hotel. Meanwhile, the foundation bought the university’s chancellor’s house for about $120,000 more than the appraised value right before he retired to Florida. Even though millions of taxpayer dollars were involved, much of this happened with almost no oversight and little paperwork.

In response to these revelations, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee asked the LAB to evaluate the relationships between all UW institutions and their affiliated organizations. The scope of the evaluation included almost all UW universities and colleges and 90 affiliated organizations from fiscal year 2007-2008 through fiscal year 2016-2017.

What the study found is a mess of poor accounting, weak oversight, sloppy management and comingling of public and private finances.

The LAB couldn’t track all the finances because not every affiliated organization had a unique identification number in its accounting system, thus rendering a full accounting impractical. But what the LAB could count showed that $257.9 million flowed from UW institutions to the affiliated organizations over the period of the study. Remember that the money is usually supposed to flow the other direction.

In one relatively small example, UWMadison received$3.5 million in 2015 for media rights related to certain athletic programs and then immediately sent that entire amount to the UW Foundation. UWMadison said an unspecified portion of the $3.5 million was intended for coaches who had assigned their share of the funds to the UW Foundation, but did not provide any detail or accounting. UW-Madison is apparently so awash with money that a mere $3.5 million does not warrant scrutiny by university officials.

The LAB evaluation also found that there is very little separation between affiliated organizations and the universities they support. The various foundations and affiliated organizations are private organizations while the UW institutions are public entities subject to public scrutiny and oversight. They are supposed to be separate.

The LAB report showed that UW employees worked as the executive directors of most foundations for the four-year universities. Even though nine of the foundations reimbursed the taxpayers for some or all of the salary and benefits for the 50 employees who also worked for the foundations, it is impossible to determine if all expenses were reimbursed because those employees did not track the amount of time they spent working for the foundations. Meanwhile, four of the affiliated organizations that were not primary fundraising foundations had UW employees as voting members of the boards of directors.

Until December, the UW Board of Regents did not have a written policy governing the relationships between UW institutions and their primary fundraising foundations. The regents finally established that policy, but still do not have a policy to govern the relationships with all of the other affiliated organizations.

The citizens, taxpayers, students and staff who support the UW System deserve better than this. The lack of oversight, shady accounting, comingled governing structures and incomplete record keeping is intolerable in a system where hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake. Such poor management practices allow abuses like what happened at UW-Oshkosh.

The UW Board of Regents has been slow and incomplete in their response to this growing problem. The Wisconsin Legislature may need to step in and demand action on behalf of their constituents.

Firearm-related Crimes Are Way Down

So let’s ban guns?

“Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011,” according to a report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, “and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

There were seven gun homicides per 100,000 people in 1993, the Pew Research Center study says, which dropped to 3.6 gun deaths in 2010. The study relied in part on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49 percent lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew,” according to the Pew study. “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75 percent lower in 2011 than in 1993.”

All of that is good news — but many Americans don’t seem to be aware of it. In a survey, the Pew Research Center found that only 12 percent of Americans believe the gun crime rate is lower today than it was in 1993; 56 percent believe it’s higher.

In an effort to explain that finding, the Pew researchers noted that while mass shootings are rare, they capture public interest and are often viewed as touchstone events that help define they year in which the crimes occur. As examples, they cite three shootings in the past two years, in Tucson, Ariz.; Aurora, Colo.; and in Newtown, Conn.

The U.S. gun crime rate peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Pew study says, ending years of growth in gun violence that began in the 1960s. But the rate of suicides committed using a firearm hasn’t fallen as fast, they add, noting that 6 out of every 10 gun deaths in America stems from suicide.

To me, the more important number is the number of fire-arm related assaults – not murders. Sometimes the difference between an assault and a murder is the quality and access to quality emergency care and/or the bad guy’s aim.

Illegal Alien Steals Identity for 37 Years


SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Mexican man who was deported twice and had a history of arrests was able to assume the identity of an American citizen and receive more than $360,000 in government benefits for nearly four decades, California court records show.

Andres Avelino Anduaga used a fake birth certificate starting in 1980 to develop a seemingly legitimate persona by applying for a California driver’s license, Social Security number and U.S. passport, according to documents obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune . The official U.S. documents identified him as Abraham Riojos, born in Texas in 1958.

Anduaga, who’s actually 66 years old and a resident of Tijuana, Mexico, pleaded guilty last week in San Diego to theft of public property and being a previously removed unauthorized immigrant in the U.S., the newspaper reported Saturday.

Massive School Tax Increase Hits Taxpayers

This is what criminal mismanagement looks like.

The New Berlin woman was expecting a bump. After all, her school district — West Allis-West Milwaukee — had been mired in financial problems and had just secured $15.8 million in new loans from the state.

But a $530 increase? Up 18.4%? Just for her school taxes?

“People are livid,” said Neuroth, whose school district taxes have risen nearly 30% over the last decade, though her assessed value has fallen.


The 2018 tax increase is the latest fallout from West Allis-West Milwaukee’s financial meltdown in which it blew through $17.5 million in reserves over a decade to post a $2.1 million deficit in 2016.

Voters, many angry over what they saw as fiscal mismanagement, rejected the district’s bid for $12.5 million in extra operating revenue last year. After that, the district turned to the state, which approved $15.8 million in loans for energy efficiency and capital projects.

RELATED: Wisconsin schools raised $217M above tax caps for green projects

That was supposed to raise taxes this year by about $16 for every $100,000 of home value, or about $50 for a house like Deb Neuroth’s that is assessed at $318,700. But tax rates surged instead because of a confluence of factors, including, paradoxically, the district’s efforts to slash spending and live within its means.

The combination of declining enrollment and reduced spending caused it to lose almost $6 million in state aid, which it then had to recoup from local taxpayers.

West Allis residents also took a hit. Their taxes rose about 12%. But New Berlin residents’ surged 18.4% because of an equalization formula that spreads the burden among communities based on property values.

Dallet Fails to Recuse Herself Despite Campaign Promises


Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet has presided over at least one case involving attorneys from her husband’s law firm despite a self-imposed rule not to do so that she has touted during her campaign for Supreme Court.

Dallet this week also recused herself from three recent cases on her docket involving attorneys from the Husch Blackwell law firm after being asked about them by the Wisconsin State Journal. In the last seven years, Dallet has been assigned to six cases involving attorneys from the firm that were resolved with little or no action, or were transferred to Dallet after a decision in the case had been entered by another judge.

Wisconsin’s Code of Judicial Conduct does not preclude Dallet from presiding over cases involving her husband’s law firm, but Dallet has repeatedly said on the campaign trail she made a point not to do so to ensure the public’s trust in the court.