Assembly Passes Body Cam Bill

This is a good bill.

The bill would not require departments to use body cameras, but sets policies they must abide by if they do.

Under the bill, most footage would be kept from the public. Footage would be available under the state’s open records law if it was taken in a public place and involved a death, physical harm, an arrest or a search.

If death, physical harm, arrests or searches occurred in a place where someone would ordinarily expect privacy, the footage could be released only if all victims and witnesses agreed to that in writing. The owner of the property where the police encounter occurred in most cases would also have to sign off on its public release.

There is a balancing point we have to find in access to police body cam footage. We have to balance the public’s right to know with citizen’s expectation of privacy. This bill strikes a reasonable balance.

Hemp in Wisconsin

Good! A rare bipartisan bill.

Wisconsin would join a majority of other states in allowing the farming of industrial hemp under a bill sent to the Gov. Scott Walker.

The Wisconsin Assembly passed the bill unanimously Thursday. It cleared the Senate unanimously Tuesday and now goes to Walker.

His spokesman Tom Evenson said Walker would review the bill but did not commit to signing it.

The proposal would establish state licenses for farmers who want to grow industrial hemp. People with drug convictions wouldn’t be eligible for the licenses. The plants couldn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

At least 30 states have passed legislation allowing hemp farms. Supporters of the Wisconsin bill say hemp has a wide range of uses and farmers should have the option of growing another profitable crop.

UW Regents Vote to Merge Universities and Colleges

Whoa. This seems like it went from an idea being floated by Cross to a vote at lightening speed.

Wisconsin’s two-year UW Colleges are set to become branch campuses of nearby four-year universities by the start of the 2018 school year after the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved a sweeping and controversial reorganization of the schools Thursday.

The Regents backed the proposal from System President Ray Cross over concerns from former UW Colleges officials, student and faculty groups, Democratic lawmakers and two board members that it lacks key details and was made with minimal input from those  affected by the mergers.

Cross and the plan’s supporters say it will change the unsustainable structure of the UW Colleges while ensuring the predominantly rural communities those institutions serve still have access to local higher education.

A motion to move forward with planning for the reorganization, which would also shift functions of UW Extension under UW-Madison and central System administration, was approved on a voice vote during Thursday’s Regents meeting in Madison.

I’m not a fan of this plan because it does not address the underlying problem. The problem is the demand for most the colleges is dramatically down. This is due to a variety of factors including demographics, the proliferation of online education, and cultural preferences. But instead of addressing the issue, the UW Regents are choosing to try to prop up an expensive and increasingly irrelevant campus infrastructure for the purpose of saving the campuses instead of serving the students.

The Myth of “Free”

The news media is engaging in grotesque propaganda when “reporting” on the Obamacare premiums. Take this story:

Almost every county in the U.S.’s HealthCare.gov exchange has free health insurance plans available on the individual exchanges during the current open enrollment, according to a new analysis from Avalere, a public health care firm.

The Center for American Progress and the Kaiser Family Foundation also detailed significant swaths of plans that are inexpensive for people eligible for subsidies.

THE PLANS ARE NOT “FREE”!!! They are paid for by the taxpayers in some cases, but that does not make them “free.” What it means is that the government took a dollar from one American and gave it to another to pay for health insurance. That is not “free.” That is “welfare.”

Teen Shot by Deputy

This looks very troublesome.

Holly Gauthier said authorities have provided few details about the death of her son, 14-year-old Jason Pero, an 8th grader who died on the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s reservation Wednesday.

Dispatchers received a call about a male subject walking down the street armed with a knife about 11:40 a.m. Wednesday, said the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, which provides law enforcement services on the reservation along with the tribal police department. A responding deputy fired shots, striking the male. He was treated at the scene but died at a hospital.

Neither the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, or the sheriff’s office have identified Pero.
[…]

The state Justice Department said a knife was recovered at the scene of the shooting. Family members questioned whether Pero had a knife.

We have very few details and the linked story is mainly comments from the victim’s family. Let the Justice Department do its investigation, but we need some answers soon.

WEDC Approves Foxconn Deal

Excellent. And the guarantee from Gou is icing on the cake.

The WEDC board approved the deal, 8-2, after protesters shouted at the agency’s directors as they voted to go into a private session. The pair of no votes came from state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire), who is running in the Democratic primary for governor.

Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn’s billionaire founder Terry Gou will sign the 29-page contract Friday afternoon at SC Johnson with U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Janesville on hand. 

Coming after critics pounded an initial deal with Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, the state’s final contract with the company includes greater requirements for job creation and calls for Foxconn and Gou to stand behind those job requirements to the tune of up to $500 million or more.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. head Mark Hogan said the Walker administration had always planned on tougher job requirements and didn’t add them in response to criticism. Hogan touted the personal guarantee from Gou as “highly unusual” but declined to say when the state had first asked Gou for it.

“It really speaks to the level of commitment and confidence that he has that this is going to be a great investment not just for him but for the state of Wisconsin,” Hogan said of Gou. 

Armed Citizens Thwart Car Thieves

Awesome. If more of this happens, hopefully the thieves will get the message.

Krieger and his contractor found two 14-year-old Milwaukee teens trying to steal the contractor’s minivan. Krieger says both of them have concealed carry permits and drew their guns while his wife called 911.

“Evidently, they intercepted the two young men sitting in the car already so they were probably quite close to taking the van,” said Barbara Krieger.

Krieger says that’s when the contractor ordered the teens out of the 2004 Dodge Caravan.

“He pointed the gun at them, opened the door, and had him lay down on his face on the pavement,” said Walter Krieger.

Krieger says one of the teens ran off, but returned to turn himself in.

“So then I went back and confronted him and he saw that I had a pistol in my hands and he just raised his hands and I told him to sit down in front of the vehicle and that’s what he did until the police department came.”

The Glendale Police Department says in this case, both the contractor and Krieger followed the law.

Facebook Trials Program to Combat Revenge Porn

This seems like it will not end well.

Facebook is testing a system that allows users to message themselves their nude photos in an effort to combat so-called revenge porn.

It will store a “fingerprint” of images to prevent any copies of them being shared by disgruntled ex-lovers.

The trial is in Australia, where studies suggest one in five women aged 18-45 may have had image-based abuse.

But one expert says there will still be problems outside Facebook and related sites such as WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook said it looked forward “to getting feedback and learning” from the trial.

Wisconsin Passes Homeowners Bill of Rights

Excellent!

Both the Assembly and the Senate voted to pass the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” a package of property-rights protections that included a provision aimed directly at providing relief to the Murr family.  A pair of bills that constitute the homeowner rights protections now head to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

The family argued that amounted to an uncompensated taking of the land. Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit law firm, got the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the court ruled 5-3 for the state in June.

Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) responded with a bill that would let property owners build on and sell substandard lots if they were legal when they were created. It would also prohibit merging adjacent lots that share the same owner without the owner’s permission.

Planned Parenthood Fights to Kill Babies

This lengthy story about how urgently and fervently Planned Parenthood wants to be able to kill babies without any accountability or consequences is grotesque. At least there is one piece of morality in the piece.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, argues that informed consent is “pretty much standard operating procedure” for any medical procedure. While Vukmir, a registered nurse, was raised to oppose abortion, she says her health care background has played a large role in her approach to the issue. She recalls a moment in the 1980s, when a colleague expressed disbelief that Vukmir could be “a nurse and … pro-life.”

“It’s precisely because I’m a nurse that I’m pro-life,” she says. “This is what we do; we save lives. There never was a question for me whether or not I would support legislation to protect human life, because it’s professionally what I’ve always done.”

Saudia Arabia Accuse Iran of Aggression

The Dogs of War are barking.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of an act of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen.

This “may be considered an act of war”, state media quoted the prince as telling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation.

On Saturday, a ballistic missile was intercepted near the Saudi capital.

Iran has denied arming the Houthi movement, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government.

Air Force Failed to Enter Conviction in Database

Not that it would have prevented the tragedy, but it sure didn’t help.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, assault on his spouse and assault on their child, spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Monday. Kelley received a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, she said.
The Air Force did not provide a date of the discharge, but his military record indicates he left the service in May 2014.
“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations,” an Air Force statement issued later Monday said.
The failure to relay the information prevented the entry of his conviction into the federal database that must be checked before someone is able to purchase a firearm. Had his information been in the database, it should have prevented gun sales to Kelley.

Special election for the 58th Assembly District

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

After Rep. Bob Gannon’s untimely death in office, the citizens of the 58th Assembly District must go about the task of filling his seat. To that end, Gov. Scott Walker has called for a special election.

When a legislative seat is unexpectedly vacated, the governor has wide discretion on when to call a special election. The governor could have waited for the April ballot, but given that the April election is for non-partisan offices, it is sensible to hold an election on a different date for the 58th Assembly District.

The special election is coming up very quickly. The primary election will be Dec. 19 and the general election will be Jan. 16. Two candidates have already announced that they are running for the office, but potential candidates have until Nov. 21 to file their nomination papers.

The 58th Assembly District is overwhelmingly Republican. Glenn Grothman, now Congressman Grothman, held the seat from 1993 until 2005, when he challenged incumbent Republican Senate Leader Mary Panzer, in a primary and soundly defeated her. Grothman was replaced by the equally conservative Rep. Pat Strachota. When Strachota retired from office in 2014, several conservative candidates stepped forward to vie for the seat.

During the partisan primary election of 2014, Bob Gannon, Sandy Voss and Tiffany Koehler battled it out for the Republican nod. Tellingly, nobody even tried for the Democratic nod even though it was an open election without an incumbent on the ballot. That is an indication of how Republican the district is.

Bob Gannon won that primary with 51.3 percent of the vote and went on to win the seat unopposed in the general election. Gannon won reelection unopposed last year. As Republican as the 58th Assembly District is, the primary election on Dec. 19 will really determine who will go to Madison to represent the district.

The two candidates who have stepped forward already offer a quality choice for the voters. The first is Steven Stanek, who announced his candidacy the same day that Walker announced the special election.

Stanek is a Republican from West Bend. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Stanek owns and runs Direct Disposal Services of Wisconsin.

He is married with three teenagers and has been heavily involved in local clubs and youth athletics. Stanek is committed to focusing on fiscal responsibility, jobs and public safety. This is not Stanek’s first foray into politics as he was the campaign manage for Republican Jeff Fitzgerald when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2012.

The second candidate is Tiffany Koehler of Slinger, who ran in the primary against Gannon in 2014 and garnered a strong 27.7 percent in that election. Koehler spent 14 years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and mental health specialist. After graduating from Cardinal Stritch University, Koehler spent many years working in the mental health field in the private sector with several organizations.

Most recently, Koehler has been serving as a legislative aide to the late Rep. Gannon, her former primary opponent. Koehler’s political positions will sound very familiar to conservatives in the 58th. She believes in less government, less taxation, more freedom and reducing government’s footprint.

While there is still time for other candidates to enter the race, the voters of the 58th Assembly District are already presented with two quality candidates from which to choose. The primary election is six weeks away, so voters will have to make an effort to get to know the candidates so that they can make an informed choice.

As a side note, local election clerks are always in need of volunteers to work at the polls. This is especially the case for a special election. If you are able to help facilitate our election process, please consider calling your local clerk for more information on how to become an election day poll worker.

Middle East Girds for Next War

A 24-hour sequence of political bombshells began on Saturday afternoon, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, blindsiding his country’s political establishment. Hours later, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported that the country’s military had intercepted a Yemen-borne ballistic missile over Riyadh. Even as images of the blast were flashing on TV sets around the region, similarly dramatic news began to trickle in: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most high-profile princes and businessmen were being sacked and detained in an anti-corruption drive led by bin Salman.
The events serve as an opening salvo for a new period in the region’s crisis-ridden history, analysts say. They represent an escalation in a yearslong proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, threatening to activate new fronts in the region, with the Saudi show of force beginning with a sweeping consolidation of power from within.
On Friday, ISIS’ last strongholds in Iraq and Syria fell. It marked a major milestone in a fight that saw archrivals converge on the extremist group until its so-called caliphate was on its last legs. On Saturday, regional powerhouses appear to have trained their sights on one another.
[…]
Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign of “two fronts,” as analysts have dubbed it, is being met by cheers and apprehension. But there is near consensus that these are uncharted waters, and the results will be dramatic.

Texas Church Killer

Sad day for the families in little Sutherland Springs.

The mass shooter who opened fire during Mass inside a Texas church killing at least 26 – including eight members of one family – has been identified as a 26-year-old former Bible study teacher who was dishonorably discharged from the US Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.

Devin Patrick Kelley, a married father, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources.

The attack only stopped when Kelley, of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, was confronted by local hero Stephen Willeford, 55, who shot him through a gap in his body armor as the gunman tried to leave the church. Kelley fled in his car, lost control in his vehicle and was found dead inside.

At  least 26 people were killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb, authorities say. Victims include a two-year-old girl and the 14-year-old adopted daughter of the pastor.

[…]

He worked in logistics and supply in the Air Force until he was kicked out for assaulting his wife and their child. Kelley was court-martialled for two counts of assaulting his spouse and kid, and received 12 months ‘confinement’ and a dishonorable discharge in 2014, CBS reported.

[…]

Former classmates described him as ‘creepy’, ‘crazy’ and an ‘outcast’ who had recently started preaching about atheism and picking fights on social media. However, local law enforcement say he had a relatively clean criminal record, with just a traffic offenses in recent years.

[…]

But as he left the church, Willeford risked his life to stop him.

‘A local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect,’ Martin said. ‘The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger assault type rifle, and fled from the church. A local citizen pursued the subject at that time.’

Willeford, who has no military experience, didn’t hesitate when came face to face with Kelley, and shot him in between Kelley’s body armor, hitting him in his side.

Taxes and Regulations Drive Up Costs for Consumers

The results are the same irrespective of the product.

California’s legal marijuana marketplace is coming with a kaleidoscope of new taxes and fees that could influence where it’s grown, how pot cookies and other munchies are produced and the price tag on just about everything.

Be ready for sticker shock.

On a retail level, it costs about $35 to buy a small bag of good quality medical marijuana in Los Angeles, enough to roll five or six joints.

But in 2018, when legal sales take hold and additional taxes kick in, the cost of that same purchase in the new recreational market is expected to increase at the retail counter to $50 or $60.

At the high end, that’s about a 70 percent jump.

There is already a robust black market for marijuana in California. This will help it continue to thrive.

Saudi Purge

This smells like the purge of an autocrat. I suppose we’ll see whether or not it’s a good thing or not.

A new Saudi anti-corruption body has detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers, media reports say.

The detentions came hours after the new committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was formed by royal decree.

Those detained were not named.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Prince Mohammed is moving to consolidate his growing power while spearheading a reform programme.

[…]

Separately, the heads of the Saudi National Guard and the navy were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings.

SPA said King Salman had dismissed National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and navy commander Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan.

[…]

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was once seen as a contender for the throne and was the last member of Abdullah’s branch of the family at the highest echelons of Saudi government.

Our correspondent says Prince Mohammed, who already serves as defence minister, now has nominal control over all the country’s security forces.

Saudis Intercept Missile Fired at Capital

Yikes. That comes after the Houthi fired missiles at Saudi refineries this summer.

Saudi Arabia says it has intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, after a loud explosion was heard near Riyadh airport on Saturday evening.

The missile was destroyed over the capital and fragments landed in the airport area, officials quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

A TV channel linked to Houthi rebels in Yemen said the missile was fired at the King Khalid International Airport.

The civil aviation authority said that air traffic was not disrupted.

Saudi forces have reported shooting down Houthi missiles in the past , though none has come so close to a major population centre.

Reason 4,797,931 Why Government Ticks Me Off

There’s just a different mindset in government…

I won’t name the government involved in this story because it could have been any of them. This is just a typical example. Several weeks ago there was a board meeting where a presentation was given. The presentation was about some possible changes they are considering.

Being the curious, informed citizen that I am, I emailed the government employee who gave the presentation and asked for a copy of it. “Sure! No problem!” he said…

Over a week later, I get a note from another employee of the government telling me that my Open Records Request is ready for pickup and it will be $3. Grrrr… bear in mind that this was a PowerPoint that was presented at a public meeting. Is there any rational reason why they couldn’t just email it to me and save the paper and expense? Instead, it takes a week to involve multiple employees (at least 4 that I had to interact with) and costs to print it. I had to drive over there and pick it up. All for a PowerPoint that was undoubtedly on the original employees computer that he could have emailed in 15 seconds.

I do understand why they print emails and other documents when I request them. They need to review them and they want to make sure they are not manipulated. But this time I asked for something that was presented at a public meeting. It shouldn’t be that hard.

I’m not done…

That was annoying enough, but then I get the presentation – the printed PowerPoint. There are no less than nine embedded links to other documents in it. The PowerPoint would say something like, “Here are the findings and recommendations” and have a link to them. The PowerPoint is virtually useless without the documents behind it.

I try to put myself in the other guy’s shoes… if my boss or customer asked me for a presentation I did in which the PowerPoint was merely an outline that links to the actual data, I would either ask my boss or customer if they wanted that information too, or I would just provide it as a matter of course. The clear intent of the request was to be informed and the PowerPoint without the linked documentation does not inform.

But no. I asked for the presentation and that is exactly what I received – printed and over a week later. No more. No less. No thought. No notion of customer service. No effort to do anything more than the bare minimum required.

Now, to be informed, I will have to make another request that will undoubtedly take the time and effort of another 4 or more employees and a couple more weeks. Wasted time. Wasted effort. I might have something to say about what I get a month or more after it actually happened. All of this to get to information that was public presented and could have been sent to anyone interested – or, Heaven forbid, posted on the government’s website – within seconds.

*rant end*

Tiffany Koehler Announces for 58th

We have a race!

Nov. 3, 2017 – Washington Co., WI – A formal announcement is set for Monday, Nov. 6 as Tiffany Koehler is expected to set into the ring as a candidate for the open seat in the 58th Assembly District.

For the past 11 months Koehler has served as the policy advisor and legislative aide to Rep. Bob Gannon.

The seat in the 58th Assembly District opened last month following the untimely death of Rep. Gannon.

Koehler ran for this seat in the primary against Gannon after former Representative Pat Strachota retired. It speaks well for her that her former primary opponent would hire her to work for the district in Madison.