Committee Vote Scheduled for Constitutional Carry

It’s good to see some progress.

A state Senate committee vote has been scheduled for Tuesday (Sept. 19) on a bill — Senate Bill 169 — that, as introduced, would repeal Wisconsin’s state “gun-free school zones” statute.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety included the SB 169, also known as the permit-less carry bill, as the final item in its public notice of an executive session (i.e., a committee vote on the bill) for Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South, State Capitol.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Henry Sausen Jr. of Hartford is one of five veterans from Washington County on today’s Stars & Stripes Honor Flight.

Sausen Jr., 86, said he knew he was going to be drafted. “My dad took me to the bus and I said I was going to volunteer for the Marine Corps and my dad said ‘kid are you crazy?'” said Sausen. “I’d probably seen too many John Wayne movies.”

It was 1951 and Sausen was living in Shiocton. At 21 years old he was working the family farm when he went to basic training and then moved to an Army base in Fort Riley, Kansas.

“After four weeks if you weren’t cutting the grades you were gone,” said Sausen. “I managed to make it eight weeks and then they shipped us to Fort Lejeune, North Carolina.”

Sausen served on the destroyer U.S.S. Lloyd and work in reconnaissance.  Although most of his unit went overseas to serve in the Korean War, Sausen had only two months left in service and remained in the states.

After the service Sausen pursued a career in cheese making. At 24 years old he was encouraged to go to school at University of Wisconsin. He went into systems automation in the dairy and food industry.

Sausen has been to Washington D.C. before while in service.  His son John will be his guardian.

Others on today’s Honor Flight to Washington D.C. include Korean War veteran and Morse code interceptor Dennis Bingen of Kewaskum,  Vietnam War Navy veteran Thomas Gentz of Germantown, Vietnam War Army veteran Dennis Muench of West Bend and Korean War Army combat veteran Erv Wicklander of Colgate.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki helps St. Mary’s celebrate 160 years

Hundreds of people filled the pews at St. Mary’s Parish in Barton on Sunday, Sept. 10 for a Mass with Archbishop Jerome Listecki as the church on Jefferson Street celebrated its 160th anniversary.

Dressed in green vestments with a violet zucchetto the Archbishop talked about “coming together as a community” and “trust.”

“What we have today is because of the sacrifices made by so many in the past,” said Listecki.

Whitey Uelmen has been a member at St. Mary’s since 2000 and his family has been part of the parish since 1969. “This was really a neat celebration and Rev. Nathan did a great job putting this together,” said Uelmen. “We were really, truly honored to have the Archbishop attend this ceremony and put his blessing on the church.”

Hannah Helmbrecht, an eighth grader at Badger Middle School, was one of six servers at the Mass. “We signed up and had a few practices,” said Helmbrecht.  “I was really honored to be able to serve with the Archbishop. This was just really, really cool.”

Rita Dricken, 89, was baptized and married at St. Mary’s Parish. “There was a lot of community feeling when I started with the church,” Dricken said. “The Archbishop had a wonderful understanding of why we’re celebrating and he gave a lot of credit to the founders.”

During Mass the altar at St. Mary’s was crowded with familiar faces including Rev. Enrique Hernandez, Rev. Justin Lopina, Rev. Nathan Reesman and Rev. Patrick Heppe from Holy Angels Parish in West Bend.

During communion the choir sang “One Bread One Body.” After Mass the Archbishop thanked everyone for their participation including the servers, ushers, choir and the Knights of Columbus.

West Bend teen donates stuffed animals to St. Joe’s Hospital

Savanna Rose Bonlender hobbled through the emergency room doors at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Town of Polk today with a brace on her knee and carrying huge plastic bags crammed full of stuffed animals.

It was the culmination of the 3rd annual Savanna Rose Teddy Bear drive from the West Bend Farmers’ Market.

For the past few years Savanna Rose, 17, has been collecting tips from her performance at the downtown market and using the money to purchase teddy bears and stuffed animals for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Savanna heard there was a need for stuffed animals in the ER at St. Joseph’s/Froedtert in West Bend and this year she chose to donate to both hospitals.

On Wednesday afternoon, joined by Jerry Beine from Modern Woodmen, Savannah Rose was greeted by nurses from St. Joes who helped bring the gifts into the hospital.

“I am hoping to become a nurse practitioner and I really enjoy helping others and I eventually would like to help people medically but is the best I can do getting into a hospital setting,” said Savanna.

In her first year Savanna collected about $500 to buy toys and art supplies for Children’s Hospital. This year she raised more than double that collecting $806 in three hours. Jerry Beine of Modern Woodmen of America said he would like to help and chipped in a $300 donation to raise the total to $1,106 this year.

Anne Zuern is manager of Ambulatory Surgical Services at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. “This is just a wonderful donation,” said Zuern. “Especially from someone so young… you just don’t see that a lot.”

Savanna will be starting college next year and majoring in nursing with hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Update on Pizza Ranch

It’s probably the most frequent question these days…. “What’s the latest on Pizza Ranch?”

The last update was Aug. 2 when the West Bend Plan Commission unanimously approved a site plan for architectural building changes and minor parking lot alterations to the location, 2020 W. Washington Street. That site is the old Ponderosa location owned by Steve Kilian.

“There’s no limit to the amount of congratulations we can give you and hopefully this is the one that makes it happen,” said Mayor Kraig Sadownikow during the August meeting.

Matt and Stacy Gehring are the local owners of Pizza Ranch West Bend LLC. Kilian confirmed during a phone call Wednesday that they will close on the sale of the building in the next two weeks. Kilian indicated the deal is on track and was confident the sale will close.

So far there’s no timetable on how long the remodel will take, however the Gehrings indicated it will be quicker to remodel than start with new construction. Stay tuned!

Wedding gifts stolen from Fillmore Turner Hall


The Washington County Sheriff is investigating a theft following a wedding Saturday night at Fillmore Turner Hall. According to the sheriff the couple from Newburg, Lance Rohan and Jennifer Falter, got married on Saturday, Sept. 9, and presents from the wedding were loaded into a vehicle.


It is believed someone entered the unlocked vehicle just after midnight. Jenny said their gift box was roughly a 3.5-foot x 2.5-foot chest. It was heavy and incredibly ostentatious.


“At the end of the night our sober best man carried it out to our parent’s vehicle. It was the absolute last thing loaded, and other gifts were moved on top of it,” she said. “Our parents stepped inside the door to say goodbye with the vehicle parked less than 10 feet away, and in less than five minutes their vehicle was opened, the other gifts were tossed off the top, and the chest was removed. It was not taken due to a lack of care.


“We would like to be clear that our reason for agreeing to speak with media is not because we would like any monetary handouts. We DO NOT have a Go Fund Me page and have absolutely no interest in starting one. Bad things happen and you deal with it and move on.


Our only motivation is that we would like to know if this has happened to anyone else (besides the Mayville wedding), and if so, we would really appreciate them reaching out to us.


This is the second time within about a month wedding gifts were stolen from a vehicle during a reception. Last month, August 19, in neighboring Dodge County gifts were stolen from a truck as a wedding reception wrapped up at the Mayville Golf Course.  Mayville Police are offering a $1,500 reward.


More than 80 customers scammed at local grocery   


A 19-year-old West Bend man is facing felony charges in Washington County Court in connection with allegedly stealing money/identity from the store or customers and then converting it into gift cards for himself.


The criminal complaint alleges Alexander Deaton worked at Pick ‘n Save north and used the company’s “make it right” return policy to enter in fraudulent returns and swap it out for gift cards. West Bend police said about 80 customer complaints have been filed.


One victim, who prefers to remain anonymous, said she spent two days at her bank trying to straighten out the damage to her account. The manager at Pick ‘n Save confirmed the scam and confirmed the employee has been terminated.


According to the criminal complaint Deaton allegedly found a way to complete returns without items actually being returned and he would do fraudulent returns and put the money obtained from the return on Amazon and MasterCard gift cards and that each gift card had a different value. Deaton did not have permission from anyone to take the money from Pick ‘n Save North


The complaint said Deaton told police he started stealing money from Pick ‘n Save sometime in late March 2017 to about July 7, 2017 and he would enter in returns and put the money in to Amazon or MasterCard gift cards and he would do this twice a week. He would also do returns and get cash back. Deaton said he accumulated about $30,000 while doing this and spent a good portion of the money on random things.


The defendant used the “make it right” program code at multiple registers some showing he entered approximately $3195.25 under the paper bag refund. He would enter in multiple paper bag refunds and some transactions and then cash out and remove whatever total he had entered and then place that amount of cash in his pocket.


Deaton is due in Judge Todd Martens court for arraignment on October 10, 2017.


Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt to close in West Bend


Quite a few changes with regard to frozen dairy treats in the West Bend area over the past few months/years. Remember when West Bend had two Dairy Queens? Those stores closed in 2014.

A couple weeks ago the Moehr family transitioned Toucan Custard to new owners and now Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is closing.


A note was posted on the door of the store on Thursday, 1733 S. Main Street in West Bend.


“It is with sadness we inform you we have to close the store location permanently effective September 17. We have been negotiating new lease terms with the landlord for the past 6 to 8 weeks and they informed us as of last night they are no longer willing to move forward with the terms we agreed upon. We want to give the public as much notice so you may come in to redeem any coupons gift cards etc. These will still all be valid at all the other Menchie’s locations.”


Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and its predecessor have had a tough go of it in West Bend.  Cherry Berry Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt opened in West Bend in February 2013. That switched over to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in January 2015 and now Menchie’s is closing up shop.


This afternoon Shannon Lehnerz and Brooke Tilidetzke were the only customers in the store. They were both a little bummed the store would be closing. “We’ve been coming here since it was Cherry Berry,” said Lehnerz. “It’s sad.”


Kettle Moraine Symphony preps for 2017-2018 season


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


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


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


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


For Kettle Moraine Symphony, Hynson has created programs audiences will not want to miss, and the orchestra is eager to begin the 2017-18 season with him at the helm.


The KMS season begins Oct. 1.


Paying tribute to historian Irene Blau of Germantown


On Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. an exhibit will be unveiled by the Germantown Historical Society to honor Irene Blau and her 35 years of service. Blau has been actively involved in the community since moving to Germantown in 1963. Blau will be honored during a ceremony at the Christ Church starting at 3 p.m. There will be light refreshments and at 5 p.m. there will be the traditional ringing of the church bell that used to call farmers in from the fields marking the end of the work day. Saturday’s event is free and open to the public.


No Halloween Express in West Bend this year


Halloween Express will not have a store in West Bend this season. Owner James M. Purvis Sr. said the former Walgreens location at S.Main and Decorah is under contract by Kwik Trip. The good news is there are two locations in the Washington County area. One is at 1520 E. Sumner Street /Hwy 60 in Hartford. The store is next to Sal’s Pizza and Piggly Wiggly. The other shop is in Menomonee Falls at N96W18930 County Line Road next to World Market and Petco. It’s eight blocks west on County Line Road and Hwy 41/45.  Purvis said there’s also no Halloween Express in Fond du Lac this year.


Cobblestone Hotel breaks ground in Hartford


Groundbreaking in Hartford this week as Cobblestone Hotel celebrated its newest addition. The hotel on Highway 60/ 110 E. Sumner Street will be built along with Wissota Chop House restaurant.


Jeremy Griesbach, a 1992 graduate of Hartford Union High School, is the president of development with BriMark Builders, LLC a division of Cobblestone Builders. He felt there’s always been a missing piece to the hotel puzzle in Hartford.


“For the past 20 years of so I’ve always thought we were missing that business hotel in town and that quality lodging,” Griesbach said. “We were always losing those people to the surrounding communities and anytime somebody doesn’t stay here they’re not eating here or buying gas here and now we’re finally getting something done.”


There were a number of local business leaders that gathered in the empty lot on Park Avenue across from the Jack Russell Memorial Library including Hartford mayor Tim Michalak, city administrator Steve Volkert, and Hartford Chamber executive director Scott Hanke who said the development is definitely a “shot in the arm for the community.”


“This especially helps with tourism as we now have places to stay and play as well as another dining option and 60 more rooms,” he said.


The city of Hartford will give Cobblestone Builders an incentive of $650,000 when hotel occupancy is approved. Cobblestone basically purchased the property for $1. Griesbach said their deal with the city includes a commitment of “a minimum of $110,000 in property taxes a year for the next 10 years.”


Brian Wogernese is with Cobblestone Builders. “Since 2015 we’ve been talking about adding more lodging for business clientele here in Hartford,” said Wogernese.


City administrator Volkert, dressed in a brilliant orange tie, said “this is a good first step to development of the TID.”


“This will hopefully lead to more development because it’s like keeping up with the Jonses in the downtown; hopefully this steamrolls,” said Volkert.


Contractors have already broken ground on the project, which is just a block east of The Mineshaft. Wogernese said they’re working to get the “footings in before winter and start framing.” The project should be finished by summer 2018.


Updates & tidbits

– Kevin Steiner – CEO of West Bend Mutual and 2017 Campaign Chair, and 400+ volunteers from more than 30 local organizations will kick off the United Way of Washington County’s annual campaign on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Washington County Fair Park. Volunteers will be packaging 2,500 personal care (hygiene) kits for distribution through local food pantries, churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations.

– Three students from the West Bend School District scored super high on the state of Wisconsin PSAT exam. The smarty pants include Jacob Beine, Liam Hupfer and Olivia McClain who have been named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship.

– Delta Defense LLC, based in West Bend, and the City of West Bend received a Business Retention & Expansion Award at the 3rd annual Community and Economic Development Awards banquet, held at Edgewater Hotel in Madison. This award recognizes efforts in which a community successfully mobilized to retain and/or expand a business. Winning projects demonstrate extensive cross-community collaboration and the ability to adapt and respond quickly to unforeseen events within the last three years.

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

-The 19th Annual Richfield Historical Society Thresheree is Sept. 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will be wonderful family-fun activities including a live auction, tractor parade, and kids can build a scarecrow.

-One of the largest car shows in Washington County is Sunday, Sept. 17 in Kewaskum. Muscle cars, vintage, hot rods and racers. The show runs 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and is in downtown Kewaskum, just to the east of Fond du Lac Avenue.

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

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

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

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

On a history note

A bit of a face lift for the old firehouse in Barton as the building from 1921 gets a new paint job. Some neighbors were concerned whether the Build, Boost & Buy Barton ad will return to the side of the building, 1411 N. Main Street. Building owner Terry Vrana took time Monday night to trace the ad on a big piece of plastic. Vrana then signed off on a note on the side of the building. Vrana said the Build, Boost & Buy in Barton will be back. On a history note: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church recently broke ground on a new addition for the church/school on Indiana Avenue and Decorah Road. When the church first started it held its services in the firehouse in Barton.


Sheriff Won’t Blame Guns for School Shooting

The media is really upset that this Sheriff won’t use a school shooting as an excuse to advocate for gun control.

The day after a Washington state high school student opened fire on his classmates, killing one and injuring three others, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich held a press conference to decry the frequency of such shootings.

“This is a situation that plays out in our society way too often, and we as a society need to make a determination as to what’s causing this,” he said Thursday afternoon. Knezovich then launched into a list of factors he believes were at play when 15-year-old suspect Caleb Sharpe, who has been identified in court documents, brought both a handgun and an AR-15 rifle to Freeman High School on Wednesday.


But when a reporter asked Knezovich how the shooter had access to the firearms used to kill classmate Sam Strahan and injure three others, the sheriff was reluctant to discuss gun control issues.

“Minors are not supposed to be in possession of a handgun until they’re 21,” he said. “You never know how people get ahold of weapons. Those are things we’ll be digging into in trying to figure out what exactly happened here.”

And, of course, the sheriff is right. It was already illegal for this to possess a handgun – much less carry guns onto school property and start shooting people.

Harvard Welcomes Traitor

Disgusting behavior from Harvard.

Ex-acting CIA director Michael Morell has resigned from his post at Harvard over its hiring of Chelsea Manning.

Announcing his resignation as a senior fellow, Mr Morell said he could not be part of an institution “that honours a convicted felon and leaker of classified information”.

Harvard later withdrew Ms Manning’s invitation as a visiting fellow, but said she remained welcome as a speaker.

She was convicted of espionage in 2013 after leaking secret documents.

Manning is a traitor and should be treated as such.

Milwaukee Airport Director Fired

Boy… there’s been all kinds of scamming going on.

General Mitchell International Airport Director Ismael Bonilla has been released from his duties effective immediately.


According to the Audit Services Division report on the investigation, the airport awarded a $250,000 contract to Springfield, Illinois-based engineering and planning firm Hanson Professional Services Inc., to create a business plan for Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport. The Audit Services Division learned that Bonilla and airport deputy director Yul McNair had prior working relationships with Hanson personnel and a Hanson sub-contractor, according to the report. Bonilla has a current quasi-business relationship with Hanson personnel, outside of the Timmerman business plan contract, the report states.

Bonilla and McNair arranged for Hanson personnel to take a site visit of Timmerman prior to the release of the request for proposal for the business plan contract, the ASD report states. When the RFP was issued it did not include explicit notice that site visits were possible and the ASD report states that the division found no evidence that the three other companies that submitted a response to the RFP requested or conducted a site visit.

“ASD has determined that Bonilla and McNair, by arranging a site visit for a company prior to the publication of a RFP which did not include an option for a site visit, violated Milwaukee County General Ordinance…prohibition against disclose of privileged information,” the ASD report states.

Clerk Scams Thousands from Pick n’ Save

From the Washington County Insider.

Sept. 14, 2017 – West Bend, WI – A 19-year-old West Bend man is facing felony charges in Washington County Court in connection with allegedly stealing money/identity from the store or customers and then converting it into gift cards for himself.

The criminal complaint alleges Alexander Deaton worked at Pick n’ Save north and used the company’s “make it right” return policy to enter in fraudulent returns and swap it out for gift cards.

West Bend police said about 80 customer complaints have been filed.


Lawnmower Parent

The next wave in bad parenting.

You’re probably familiar with the term “Helicopter Parents,” where parents hover over their children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble. At the college level, the physical presence required to hover may be limited, so we are now observing a different parenting style: “Lawn mower Parents.” These are the parents who rush ahead to intervene, saving the child from any potential inconvenience, problem or discomfort.

Other variations of this style of parenting include “Snowplow Parents,” “Bulldozer Parents,” and my personal favorite: “Curling Parents,” given the similarity to the Olympic athletes who scurry ahead of the gently thrown stone, frantically brushing a smooth path and guiding the stone towards an exact pre-determined location.

All humor aside, this kind of parental behavior can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on your child.

This behavior has been around for a long time, but it sure does seem to be more prevalent – especially in middle class families.

Assembly Passes Budget. Senate Conservatives Hold Out.


The Assembly tonight passed the state budget 57-39, with five Republicans joining all Dems in opposing it.

It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t have the 17 votes he needs to pass it and three Senate Republicans circulate a list of demanded changes.

The Assembly vote came after nearly 11 hours of debate, the rejection of 19 Dem amendments and the adoption of a GOP amendment that makes what the authors call “technical” changes, including deleting a provision requiring DOT to install a railroad gate crossing in Winnebago County.

But in the end, Reps. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha; Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls; Bob Gannon, R-West Bend; Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake; and Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, all voted against the budget.

Good for my rep, Bob Gannon, for voting against this. This is not the kind of budget we expect from a Republican government. We don’t just want “well, it’s better than the Democrats would do.” We want a budget that actually moves the needle toward a better Wisconsin.

And good for my Senator, Duey Stroebel, for being one of the senators holding out for a more conservative budget. It’s almost frustrating because I can’t call and yell at my elected officials. They are already doing the right thing!

Three Senate Republicans are demanding a series of changes to the budget to win over their votes, including raising the income limit for the statewide school choice program and banning UW from spending money on diversity, sensitivity and cultural fluency training.

The three — Sens. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; Steve Nass, of Whitewater; and Duey Stroebel, of Saukville — also want to move up the planned repeal of the prevailing wage on state projects to Jan. 1 rather than Sept. 1, 2018, and to delete language the Joint Finance Committee added to the budget that would pre-empt local regulations of quarries that produce material for road and construction work.

Trump Spins on DACA

Okay…. so somebody is lying. Given the track record of this crowd, it could be all of them.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump pushed back Thursday morning against claims by top congressional Democrats that a deal has been reached over legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and that a border-security package would not include a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“No deal was made last night on DACA,” Trump tweeted. “Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”
Late Wednesday, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi said they had “agreed to enshrine the protections of (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
But Trump also refuted that specific assertion by the Democratic leaders about a border wall, tweeting, “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”

Justice Gableman Being Vetted by Trump Administration

Interesting! Gableman is a smart guy and solid conservative. He could serve the country well in any number of roles.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is being considered for a job in the Trump White House, although it is not clear which position he is being considered for.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that, according to multiple sources, FBI agents had been interviewing associates and colleagues of the jurist, a preliminary step in hiring someone for a top administrative position. Gableman, who declined to comment, announced in June that he would retire from the bench when his term expires next year.

Trotsky’s Murder Weapon To Go On Display

A macabre piece of history.

Next year, however, the bloodstained relic will go on public display at Washington’s International Spy Museum, which will reopen in a new building to accommodate thousands of other artefacts that have emerged from the shadows.

The story of the ice axe is a convoluted one, befitting the extraordinary and macabre story of the Trotsky assassination. After the 1940 press conference, it was stored in a Mexico City evidence room for several years until it was checked out by a secret police officer, Alfredo Salas, who argued he wanted to preserve it for posterity. He passed it on his daughter, Ana Alicia, who kept it under her bed for 40 years until deciding to put it up for sale in 2005.

Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban Volkov, offered to give blood for a DNA test – but only on condition that Salas donated the weapon to the museum at Trotsky’s house, preserved intact from the time of the murder. Salas rejected the deal.

“I am looking for some financial benefit,” she told the Guardian at the time. “I think something as historically important at this should be worth something, no?”

The weapon was eventually bought by a US private collector, Keith Melton, a prolific author of books on the history of espionage, and a founding board member of the International Spy Museum. For the avid collector, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, the ice axe had become something of an obsession.

Vos Makes Empty Threat


“We’re not going to be held hostage to individuals who have some kind of a wish list,” Vos said.

The state Assembly began debating the budget shortly after noon Wednesday. A vote is expected by the late-night hours.

Senate Republicans, who have yet to take up the budget, are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss it. Fitzgerald said Tuesday that he hopes the meeting will produce agreement among his members on changes to the budget that can be sent to the Assembly, in the form of an amendment, before it votes on it. That would prevent the Assembly from having to approve the budget a second time after a Senate vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

Vos laid down the gauntlet at Wednesday’s press conference, saying he won’t revisit the budget after Wednesday.

“Once we vote for the budget today, we are done with the budget process,” Vos said.

Ummm… if the Senate votes for a different version of the budget, it goes to conference and then both houses have to vote on it again. It’s not really up to Vos unless he is saying that the Assembly is willing to not ever pass a budget.


Cashless in Somaliland

I’ve wondered about the slow adoption of this technology in America. Apparently, we just need to rapidly devalue our currency to encourage people.

No cash is transferred, and there’s not a credit card in sight. But customers haven’t got their daily khat fix for free; they’ve paid using their mobiles, transferring money on the sandy Somali street in seconds with little more than a mobile phone and a few numbers.

There are not many things tiny Somaliland can claim to be a world leader in, but cashless payments might be one.

Cashless Somalia

One US dollar equals 9,000 Somliland shillings – the currency is so devalued, shoppers wander markets with wads of the paper money thrown in their bags (Credit: AFP/Simon Maina)

The self-declared country, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but remains unrecognised by the international community, has become something of a wild frontier for cashless payments as it charts a trajectory towards creating the world’s first cashless society.

Whether in a shack on the side of a road or a supermarket in the capital of Hargeisa, mobile payments are fast becoming the standard in the country.

There are not many things tiny Somaliland can claim to be a world leader in, but cashless payments might be one

“Most people are paying by mobile now,” Omar says, as he processes a payment on his mobile in one hand. “It’s so much easier.”

While developed and developing countries alike have been moving toward cashless payments with phones or contactless cards, Somaliland’s motivation is unique.

This shift away from cash is in part due to the rapid devaluing of the Somaliland shilling, the breakaway republic’s own currency which now trades at around 1 USD to 9,000 shillings. A few years ago it was just half that.

Hillary Clinton’s Book

Even the BBC is poking fun at her.

The beauty of Hillary Clinton’s new book title, What Happened, is it can be interpreted in so many ways.

Perhaps it’s a definitive account of the 2016 presidential election. “Here’s what happened”.

Maybe it’s an exclamation, like someone reacting to an unexpectedly loud noise (or an electoral earthquake). “Yikes! What happened!?”

Then again, it could be a stern mom, who just walked in on the mess her children (the voters) made in the living room. “Whaaaaat happened …”

Or is she the dazed boxer, picking herself up off the canvas after getting knocked out by a surprise punch from her opponent.

“Wha-, wha-, what happened???”

It’s up to readers to decide for themselves, but in Mrs Clinton’s recent interviews and in her book, which was formally released on Tuesday, she offers plenty of explanations from which to choose.

Here’s a list of just some of the factors to blame for the fact that she’s hitting book stores across the country, while Donald Trump is redecorating the Oval Office.

Hint: it’s a looooooooong list.

What I find interesting is the media coverage of Clinton’s book tour. After all, it is a tour by a failed politician trying to sell her book. And yet, she is getting daily headline coverage from almost every media outlet in the nation. I think they are fare ore interested in Hillary’s post-defeat soul searching than we are.

All of her, and the media’s, explanations rest on the presumption that she could have won. It is entirely possible that Clinton was disliked by so many people that a bowl of hot steaming mayonnaise would have defeated her.

Sign at Local Dairy Queen Makes News

Local boy done good!

KEWASKUM — A sign about the lack of political correctness patrons can expect to find at the Dairy Queen in Kewaskum is gathering some recent widespread attention, despite it being placed on windows at the business about four years ago.

Owner and Kewaskum Village Board president Kevin Scheunemann said, “It’s been up there a long time without hardly a complaint.” He explained there was a complaint in 2016 from someone he spoke with and who continues to return to the fastfood restaurant.

On Sept. 6, the sign became the subject of a Facebook post on the Dairy Queen Facebook page and received some attention before being taken down by the poster. The poster found the sign offensive.

Scheunemann said he asked what about the sign was offensive and never heard a response.

State Senate Works on Budget

Thank goodness that it looks like there is a valiant cohort of senators, including my own, who are trying to make this budget more conservative.

Spokespersons for Sens. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, and Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, also confirmed they are not yet “yes” votes.

Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen said the senator wants to see a full repeal of the state’s prevailing wage requirement take effect Jan. 1. Under the Joint Finance Committee budget, that repeal would take effect in September 2018.

Fitzgerald said he hopes to marshal the Senate votes to pass the budget this Friday.

State Senate Approves Foxconn Package


The state Senate today approved 20-13 an amended $3 billion incentive package for the Taiwanese tech company Foxconn, with GOP Sen. Robert Cowles opposing it and Dem Bob Wirch voting for the proposal.

Democrats called it a corporate giveaway to a foreign company, slamming projections that the state wouldn’t break even until fiscal year 2042-43 if Foxconn meets its promise to create 13,000 jobs, the vast majority filled by Wisconsin residents, and build its pledged $10 billion facility in southeastern Wisconsin.

But Republicans hailed it as a “transformational” deal that would make Wisconsin a leader in high-tech manufacturing — with spillover effects across the state and job opportunities for Wisconsin residents.

In a statement, Gov. Scott Walker thanked the Senate for supporting the bill and “opening the door to 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs.”

I’m fascinated by the Democrats’ calculation to almost universally oppose this deal. It’s an extremely risky proposition that rests on the hope that the whole thing falls apart. But if it works out and there is a tremendous job-creating boom in SE Wisconsin, the Democrats can’t even try to claim any of the credit. They will just be the folks who fought against it.

Wisconsin’s conservative reformation draws to a close

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

After weeks of delay and intra-party wrangling, the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has passed the state’s biennial budget. It now heads to the Assembly, and then to the Senate, for final debate and passage. Assuming that it passes largely as currently written, which is expected, this budget is the muffled whimper that marks the end of Wisconsin’s conservative reformation.

When Wisconsinites elected Scott Walker as governor in 2010, they ushered in a new era in Wisconsin governance. Walker brought to Madison a governing philosophy steeped in the modern conservative movement. 2011 marked the beginning of a Wisconsin conservative reformation that was unprecedented in the state’s history.

In 2011, Walker and the legislative Republicans were aggressive and ambitious in advancing a conservative agenda. They touched the third rails of state politics and slew dragons. In a short span, Walker and the Republicans enacted transformational changes in Wisconsin including welfare reform, massive regulatory reform — especially in the DNR, expanding Second Amendment rights, expanding educational choice, freezing tuition at the University of Wisconsin and, of course, enacting Act 10. The hundreds of reforms made since 2011 have truly made Wisconsin better for citizens and businesses.

Voters have rewarded Republicans with electoral success. The voters defended Walker’s conservative agenda by reelecting him during the recall election and again in 2014. Republicans have maintained their majorities in both houses of the legislature for most of this decade as the conservative wing of both caucuses has grown. Even the Wisconsin Supreme Court has moved to be more conservative. Wisconsinites have shown their support for the conservative reformation time and time again at the ballot box.

But along the way, Wisconsin could not escape from its tradition of big, expensive government. While Republicans have been making tremendous progress in many areas, they have continued to spend more every budget. The current 2017-2019 proposed budget that the JFC just passed spends $76.02 billion. That is a 4.8 percent increase in spending over the previous budged.

The proposed 2017-2019 budget spends a full 23 percent more than the last budget signed by Gov. Jim Doyle. On a per capita basis, Doyle’s last budget spent about $10,868 per Wisconsinite while the new budget spends $13,131 per person — a 21 percent increase in per capita spending by state government in seven years. All of the Democrats’rhetoric about “austerity” and “cuts” are pure myth. The truth is that Wisconsin’s Republicans have increasedspending every single budget. To be fair, Doyle increased state spending 28 percent during his tenure. The Republicans did not increase spending as much as Democrats, but they were certainly not shy about increasing spending.

There are a few items in the new budget that conservatives will like. For example, UW tuition will continue to be frozen, but the budget spends more on UW to offset that. The state property tax will be eliminated. This saves taxpayers about $90 million per year. Able-bodies childless adults will be required to work or train and be subject to drug tests in order to receive Badgercare benefits. The prevailing wage law will be rescinded for state projects. The alternative minimum tax will be rescinded.

Those are very small potatoes in a stew full of massive hunks of new spending meat and bitter debt increases. The Republicans have seemingly lost the nerve to make the big, necessary reforms that Wisconsin still needs. The Republicans still control the entire law-making apparatus of government, but are about to pass a budget that is reminiscent of something from 2005. It spends more and tinkers around the edges, but is primarily designed to not offend anyone before the next election.

Where are the big ideas? Where is the cut or elimination of the state income tax? Where is the reformation of how Wisconsin builds and maintains its transportation infrastructure? Where is the fundamental reform of education? Where is an actual reduction in the size and scope of state government? Even the marginally more aggressive items that Walker suggested in his budget, like a “backto- school” sales tax holiday or a broad cut in income taxes, were rejected by legislative Republicans. Many of them went to Madison with a passion for Conservative reform, but now only have passion for getting reelected.

Rep. Bob Gannon (R-West Bend), who has said that he will not vote for this budget, was correct when he commented, “this budget is much better than a democrat governor or legislature would have proposed, but it is also not a conservative piece of work. Your government is in a growth mode.”

Indeed. And that growth is smothering the conservative reformation in its sleep.

Monkey Selfie Case Settled

Looks like the end result is another liberal shakedown – this time by PETA.

A photographer has won a two-year legal fight against an animal rights group over a “monkey selfie” photograph.

Naruto the macaque monkey took the image in the Indonesian jungle in 2011 when it picked up a camera owned by David Slater from Monmouthshire.

US judges had said copyright protection could not be applied to the monkey but Peta said the animal should benefit.

Peta’s appeal on the “monkey’s behalf” was dismissed but Mr Slater has agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue.

In a joint statement from Peta and Mr Slater, it said the photographer will give a quarter of the funds he receives from selling the monkey selfies to registered charities “dedicated to protecting the welfare or habitat of Naruto”.

“Peta’s groundbreaking case sparked a massive international discussion about the need to extend fundamental rights to animals for their own sake, not in relation to how they can be exploited by humans,” said Peta lawyer Jeff Kerr.

Gordon Hintz Running to Lead State Assembly Democrats

Heh. Seems appropriate.

The 43-year-old sits on the Joint Finance Committee and has been a key Assembly Dem voice on the budget and other issues. But he also faced a difficult re-election in 2014 as Republicans targeted him over a 2011 citation at a massage parlor that was later shut down for prostitution.

Hitnz’s announcement comes the day after Barca, D-Kenosha, announced he would resign at month’s end.

The state GOP immediately hit Hintz over the 2011 citation as well as yelling, “You’re (expletive) dead!” at then-GOP Rep. Michelle Litjens during the floor debate on Act 10.