West Bend Referendum Fight is Not Over

The citizens of West Bend received a reprieve last night when the West Bend School Board decided to suspend the referendum effort. “Suspend” is the key word. At the meeting, School Board President Joel Ongert made it clear that he wants to put a referendum on the April or possibly next November ballot. It is worth noting that those elections also historically have much lower turnout. That makes it easier for the referendum to pass (if you’d like me to explain this, I will, but I think y’all get it).

Ongert also made a comment that he thought that the needs at the high schools warranted $60 million! In the current referendum proposal, they are asking for $31 million for the high schools. Ongert wants to spend so. much. more.

Over the next few months as the citizens of the West Bend School District and their School Board consider the prospect of a referendum, we should keep some hard numbers in mind.

$215 million. That is how much the taxpayers will be obligated to pay back if the referendum being considered is approved. The district already owes about $130 million due to the passage of previous referenda. If the referendum passes, it will bring that total to about $215 million in owed interest and principal.

$2,125. There are about 40,000 adults who live in the West Bend School District. If the $50 million referendum being considered passes, the share for each adult is $2,125. Each adult’s share of the total $215 million debt would be about $5,200.

$5.3 million. The taxpayers currently spend about $5.3 million per year on paying down debt. That is $5.3 million that is not spent on educating kids. It is being spent on paying off buildings. That number will increase substantially if the referendum being considered passes.

20. Under the proposal outlined by Baird for the School Board, it will take 20 years to pay off new referendum debt. On the payment schedule presented by Baird at the August 13th school board meeting, the taxpayers will paying only the interest payments for the first nine years. The taxpayers will not pay down a single dollar of the principal until the tenth year.

2.7%. Despite having the authority under Act 10 to control labor expenses, employees of the West Bend School District can still get a family health insurance plan for as little as $49 per month. That is 2.7% of the total cost of the plan. The taxpayers pay the remaining 97.3%.

307. Using the Kindergarten Trend Projection Model, which extrapolates kindergarten enrollment trends to forecast future enrollment, there will be 307 kids in Jackson Elementary in nine years. That compares to the 371 kids who were in the school last year and the 535 kids in the same building at the most recent peak in 2010. That is a 43% decline in student population in the Jackson Elementary building, but also includes the reconfiguration of grades that occurred in 2014.

5,289. Using the same projection model, the entire West Bend School District will have an enrollment of 5,289 kids in the 2027-2028 school year. That compares to the 6,634 kids in the last school year and 6,843 kids in the district in the most recent peak year of 2009. That is a 20% decline in enrollment over the next decade.

Different project models give slightly different numbers, but the declining enrollment matches the trend that the school district has seen in recent years. Due to generally lower birth rates, open enrollment, the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, and demographic shifts, the West Bend School District is seeing the same declining enrollment as many other Wisconsin school districts.

21%. In the most recent open enrollment figures, 21% of the kids who open enrolled out of the West Bend School District left to attend a virtual school. While the West Bend School Board wants to invest in buildings, families are seeking out modern ways to get a quality education.

20. The world of education is not immune from the societal and technological transformations taking place around us. Educational delivery methods now include online and hybrid learning, collaboration with industries, augmented reality, and so much more. The West Bend School Board is asking to spend $85 million on a 20th century education model.

Zero. If the voters approve allowing the West Bend School Board to dump tens of millions of dollars into buildings, they can expect zero improvements in educational outcomes. It has been proven time and time again that once the basic safety and space needs for school buildings are met, spending more on buildings does not result in better education.

For recent evidence, look at the test scores and graduation rates in the West Bend School District since the other school building referendums were passed. According to DPI data, all of the results are flat or declining. The new Badger and renovated Silverbrook schools look fantastic, but they did not make any kids smarter. That is why the school board has wisely not even attempted to claim that it will improve education in the district.

There are a lot of things that the West Bend School Board could do to try to improve education for the children under their care. Dumping money into fancy buildings is not one of them.

Tariffs Cometh

Earlier this year, I was in the market for a new bicycle. An acquaintance and avid cyclist recommended bikesdirect.com to me. After doing some investigating, I ended up buying a new bike on the site. Although the site is spartan, the selection, prices, and customer service were excellent. I was very happy with the experience and really enjoyed my new bike.

Today, I got this email from them:

bikesdirecttariffs

Here are the notes from the email:

1) Today Several Bicycle Industry Experts Testified in Washington On the Increased Tariff on Complete Bicycles, Bicycle Parts and Accessories

2) 94% of Bicycles Sold in USA are from China, 97% of Kids Bikes are from China (most Bikesdirect Models are Not made in China)

3) Added 25% Tariff on Almost ALL eBikes Goes Into Effect August 23 Thursday. Many eBike Brands Are Increasing Prices Thursday (Example – one popular model going from $3500 MSRP to $5,000 MSRP)

4) Most Bicycle Distributors Are Not Running End of Year Discounts Due to Upcoming Increased Cost of 2019’s.

5) Alternative Factories in Other Countries Currently Booked To Near Capacity (Likely Bicycle Shortages Last Quarter of 2018)

6) NO BICYCLE COMPANY makes enough money to absorb a 25% increase in Cost. (However, Bikesdirect will always price bicycles below anyone in the industry)

7) Bikesdirect Will Strive to Hold Current Sale Prices Until The Bleeding Becomes Too Much To Bear

Tariffs are damaging our economy and costing Americans. If you won’t oppose tariffs because they are poor economic policy, think of the kids! They are all going to get even fatter without affordable bikes.

West Bend School Board Suspends Referendum Effort

Huzzah, huzzah… the West Bend School Board came to its senses and decided against putting a referendum on the ballot in November. They haven’t abandoned the effort yet, but at least they are pumping the brakes for a bit. The Washington County Insider has video of the discussion and details from the meeting. Here are some highlights:

“We have until next Tuesday to tell the county clerk what our intentions are,” he said.  “Are we going to a referendum in November and potential questions and how do we want it to look.” Board member Chris Zwygart spoke first and set the tone for the rest of the meeting.  “I’m not sure we’re ready to move forward. The board has a number questions,” said Zwygart.

Board member Ken Schmidt said he had doubts. “I question need and want,” said Schmidt.  “Those are two questions I have. Some things I see as needs with safety and that is a big need but here again I really have some questions about right sizing. Those are the two biggies.”

Schmidt also expressed concern about the cost to taxpayers in the future. “There’s no guarantee with a phenomenal economy. I’m a realist and there are cycles. I’ve seen several in my lifetime but I have sincere reservations.”

[…]

A couple of leaders from the West Bend School Board spoke after the meeting.

After the meeting Zwygart said as a person, “We have unanswered questions and limited time between now and the time of the election (Nov. 6, 2018) that just does not set us up for success as it relates to transparency with the voters and so I’m pleased with the decision.”

In particular, hats off to board members Chris Zwygart and Ken Schmidt for being good stewards of the taxpayers’ interests. Board members Joel Ongert and Tiffany Larson still seem hell bent on dumping tens of millions of dollars on buildings. This isn’t over. The debate continues…

Greece Emerges From Bailout Plan

Be careful out there, folks. The Greeks can borrow again.

Greece has successfully completed a three-year eurozone emergency loan programme worth €61.9bn (£55bn; $70.8bn) to tackle its debt crisis.

It was part of the biggest bailout in global financial history, totalling some €289bn, which will take the country decades to repay.

Deeply unpopular cuts to public spending, a condition of the bailout, are set to continue.

But for the first time in eight years, Greece can borrow at market rates.

[…]

The economy has grown slowly in recent years and is still 25% smaller than when the crisis began.

[…]

While Greece’s economy has stabilised, its accumulated debt pile stands at about 180% of GDP.

As an American in a country with a $21 trillion national debt, I should really resist the urge to cast stones. Glass houses and whatnot.

As a side note in relation to the post below about the upcoming school referendum in West Bend, the district currently spends about $70.5 million per year from the general fund and another $26.5 million per year from other funds. Total, that’s about $97 million per year. If we equate the school spending budget (economic output) to GDP, then the current debt load for the district is about 134% of annual budget. If the referendum passes, the total debt load for the district will be about 222% of annual budget. Smart? No.

“I would have to vote no and send the administration back to the drawing board.”

The West Bend School Board will vote today to put an $85 million referendum on the ballot. Here’s an interesting letter to the editor that originally ran on the Washington County Insider:

August 20, 2018 – West Bend, WI – I believe it is important to include the interest cost on the referendum so people know for a fact, what they will be paying.

I was on the Citizens Facility Advisory Committee and am very disappointed in the entire process of the decision to go to referendum.

The entire process has once again been less than honest. While we are following a 25 year plan, in what world of business do we have a 25 year plan without the plan on how to pay for it.

If I were to vote today, I would have to vote no and send the administration back to the drawing board.

There are way too many issues to address before moving forward on a building plan.

Being on the CFAC committee I had a first hand look at the issues they say they are trying to correct.  I could see many of them stemmed from very poor planning and execution to begin with.

These are things that have to be addressed so we don’t spend $85 plus million today and end up with the same issue in the future.

Dan Krier

West Bend

 

Efficient Government

Liberals always complain about stagnation in the legislative process and the inability of legislatures to get things done… except when Republicans are in the majorities.

The length of time bills were deliberated dropped significantly soon after Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators took control in 2011, diminishing the public’s opportunities to influence lawmaking, records and interviews show.

A Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism analysis of all bills enacted into state law over the past two decades shows an overall decline in deliberation time — with the most dramatic drop happening just after Walker took office.

In Walker’s first two years in office, average deliberation time was 119 days, compared to a 20-year average of 164 days. During that 2011-12 session, one out of every four bills, including some of the Republicans’ most sweeping and controversial legislation, was passed within two months of introduction.

In Strange Twist, Stormy Daniels Pulls Out

Huh.

Big Brother has denied claims that Stormy Daniels didn’t go into the Celebrity Big Brother House because producers wanted to “control” her.

The adult film star was expected to be one of the housemates this series, which started on Thursday night.

But she pulled out at the last minute, and her lawyer said producers “tried to script a result” that she wouldn’t go along with.

He added: “They can make up any story they want, but that’s what happened.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Poll: Should West Bend School District list true cost of referendum on November ballot?

The West Bend School Board (WBSB) met Monday night, Aug. 13. As of Friday, Aug. 17 the minutes from the WBSB Monday, Aug. 13 meeting had not been posted on the District website.

Cobbling together some of the details from the board agenda there appears to be a draft of a referendum question for the Nov. 6, 2018 Fall Election ballot.

According to the draft, the WB School District appears to be proposing a $50 million referendum for construction of a new Jackson Elementary School and capital improvements at the West Bend High School.

ballot

The proposal for a 2-story Jackson Elementary follows on the heels of a report issued by the WBSD regarding a trend of declining enrollment.

enrollment

In a 6-page report from Baird the preliminary total interest on the referendum would be $35,176,350 for a total cost to taxpayers of more than $85 million.

Also note the West Bend School District is currently paying off about $130 million over the next 20 years in current referendum debt.

The poll question deals with a policy passed in January 2012 regarding fiscal management. The policy below hones in on key terms like “genuine transparency regarding the planned use of public funds” and  “a much more fully informed electorate” and “builds trust among all District stakeholders.”

The question is: Should the board move forward on a referendum, would you as a taxpayer like to see the total cost and interest listed on the ballot question ( $85,176,350) or would you prefer to see only the referendum amount ($50,000,000) as listed in the draft above?

615

West Bend School Board member Chris Zwygert, speaking as a person, indicated the board would be meeting again Monday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. to discuss whether to move forward with the referendum.

Zwygert also indicated if the board decides to go forward with the referendum there is a time limitation when the board needs to declare a referendum and its language to get it to the municipal clerk. “My understanding is if we do that on our next board meeting, which is the last Monday in August (Aug. 27) that gives us one day to get that information to the municipal clerk,” he said.

Ribbon cutting at Born Learning Trail in Slinger

It was a perfect day for a ribbon cutting this week for the new Born Learning Trail at Brendan’s Playground in Slinger.

The event featured a who’s who of local educators and business leaders including Slinger School Superintendent Daren Sievers, Pete Rettler from Moraine Park Technical College, the United Way of Washington County was in the house and so was trail sponsor Legendary Whitetails.

This is the fourth Born Learning Trail in Washington County. It’s designed to help with early-childhood development.

Some of the learning segments feature hopscotch, colored circles, letters from the alphabet and there’s classic Legendary-Whitetails flair to the trail with animal footprints from deer, birds and raccoons.

“It’s nice to get the kids away from the screen time and be with their families; be active and the trail helps brain development,” said mom Theresa Huffman.

Amish working on luxury apartment building in West Bend

We’ll it’s not every day you see Amish contractors building a luxury apartment complex in West Bend. Neighbors have noticed the straw hats, suspenders, gray shirts, beards and the charm and courtesy of the crew at 128 Wisconsin Street.

Steven is one of six Amish carpenters who hail from Kingston, WI. located in Green Lake County.

“I’m sure people have been looking at us but I don’t look around too much when I’m working,” Steven said.

Steven, 32, is part of New Home Builders in Kingston. He worked in the Washington County area before, building a home on Highway 144 on the western edge of the county.

From a cultural perspective Amish have generally been known to abstain from electricity.  An article in Amish America entitled “Do Amish Use Electricity?” was written about Amish living off the power grid and how it “helps to prevent the influence of radio, television and the internet that may offer temptations that contradict the core Christian values of the Amish community.”

On the job site however, it’s evident the Amish are using power tools. “If somebody furnishes the power tools we use them but we also take our own tools from job to job,” Steven said.

Culturally the Amish also don’t like having their photo taken, so permission was requested.  “I’m not going to pose for you… but it’s OK if you take my photo,” said Steven.

There will be 10 market-rate apartments starting at $1,475 a month. The luxury apartments with stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, granite countertops, private balcony/patio, pet friendly, heated underground parking with storage; some will have views of the Eisenbahn trail.

The occupancy should occur in December.

West Bend Town Board tables action on closing boat ramps

A full house during Monday night’s Town of West Bend Board meeting.

There were a couple of hot-topics on the agenda. Town Chairman Jim Heipp asked to table action on the closing of boat ramps in the town. “We’ll put it on hold until further notice,” said Heipp.

Citing a lack of communication from the Department of Natural Resources and attorneys regarding public access Heipp called to table the action.

Heipp cited a couple statues from the DNR regarding public access and said he received a notice from the board’s attorney that the statutes weren’t clear to them either.

“We’re going to put our decision on closing the ramps on hold until we get further information from the DNR,” he said.

Town Supervisor Jeff Geib seconded the motion. Supervisor Frank Carr was the only dissenting vote.

“My reading of that DNR requirement has to do with permanent closings and not temporary closings,” said Carr. ”It seems quite clear to me in the regulation that is a permanent closing and not a temporary closing. So that’s why I’m voting against the tabling because I don’t believe it applies in this set of circumstances.”

Heipp said he wants to have further discussion and more facts before making a decision.

Other highlights from the meeting:

–Rental properties on Big Cedar Lake: Town of WB is zoned R-1 residential. Town will have to look at businesses being run and renting out their docks. Heipp said this was a zoning ordinance and a violation of town code. “We’re going to have to figure out how to enforce that because you people have way, way too many boats on that lake,” said Heipp. “And the boats aren’t people who are lake residents or people who are just coming in on Saturday and Sunday.”

-Fleet Farm access on County Hwy Z: Fleet Farm laid out designs with the West Bend Plan Commission last week regarding its new 190,000-square-foot store on Highway 33 and County Hwy Z. During the pitch to the city Fleet officials said they would only have access roads off Highway 33. During Monday night’s Town Board meeting Heipp said the city, state, and county are satisfied with that plan however the DOT wants an access road off County Hwy Z. That plan is still in discussion.

Gold Seal of Approval for Alliance Services, Inc. in West Bend

Alliance Services, Inc. has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Health Care Staffing Services Certification. The certification demonstrates Alliance Services’ commitment to providing qualified and competent health care professionals.

Alliance Services, Inc. underwent a rigorous onsite review on Friday, July 27, 2018. Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with national standards that assess how health care staffing firms determine the qualifications and competency of staff, placement of staff, and how they monitor performance. All certified health care staffing organizations are required to collect data on their own performance.

“Alliance Services, Inc. has demonstrated its commitment to providing quality health care staffing services to health care organizations as evidenced by its achievement of Joint Commission certification,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director, Hospital Business Development, The Joint Commission. “We recognize and commend Alliance Services, Inc. for its efforts to provide a safe, high-quality standard of service.”

“Alliance Services, Inc. is pleased to receive certification from The Joint Commission, the premier quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” added Georgianna “Gigi” Dee, President, CEO and Director of Nursing.

“Health Care Staffing Certification demonstrates our commitment and accountability to clients and the health care professionals we employ. Certification establishes, defines and measures delivery on key functional areas and performance measures across the entire industry.”

2018 Board of Review is Aug. 28, 2018

The City of West Bend sent all property owners a 2018 property assessment. The 2018 Board of Review will be held on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 10 a.m. in City Hall.

Keep in mind the city did explore an advisory referendum with a wheel tax or a property tax increase or asking Washington County for a share of its sales tax. A final decision is still pending to determine how to pay for more road improvements in the City of West Bend.

There’s also a possible Nov. 6 referendum for the West Bend School District. A decision to move forward with a $50 million referendum with $35+ million in taxes and interest for a total of $85+ million is being discussed Monday, Aug. 20. Remember this debt would be placed on top of the $130 million the district still has with current referendum debt.

So that total would be brought to more than $210 million in outstanding referendum debt for the school district alone. Finally, remember your property tax bill is made up of taxes to be paid to the city, county, school district, Moraine Park Technical College and the state. The last city-wide revaluation was 2011.

Updates & tidbits

This Sunday, August 19, Rev. Nathan Reesman will lead a Holy Hour from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Saint Frances Cabrini Parish, 1025 S. Seventh Avenue, West Bend, to pray for the purification of the Church’s clergy and ministers, and to pray in reparation for the sins against chastity and the abuse of power that have been committed against our people. Please join us in prayer.

– On Sunday, August 19, the Allenton Parade will be dedicated to the only remaining ladies who are charter members of the American Legion Unit 483.Audrey Rosbeck and Mary Jane Sternat will be honored for their years of contributions to the Auxiliary and the greater Allenton Area.

A note of congratulations to Ryan Vossekuil who was sworn in this week as the Village of Jackson’s new Chief of Police. Vossekuil previously served 19 years with the Mayville Police Department, working his way up the ranks from police explorer to police chief. Chief Vossekuil has been busy the last couple weeks getting to know the village and the people who work and live here. Stay tuned – Jackson PD will be handing out Green Bay Packer trading cards this year.

The annual St. Frances Cabrini Used Book Sale and Rummage Sale is Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. – noon in Mother Cabrini Hall in the lower level of church. Used book donations will be accepted from now through Sept. 7.

The annual Allenton Picnic is this weekend, August 17, 18, and 19. There’s lots of family activities including games and rides, music and food and don’t forget Sunday’s parade.

– The West Bend High School Class of 1948 will hold its 70th class reunion August 18, 2018 at New Perspective, 2013 Continental Drive in West Bend from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

– Marty Schulteis as the next Washington County Sheriff. The Captain beat Lt. Jason Guslick during Tuesday’s election. Guslick issued congratulations to Schulteis. “I want to thank everyone who voted for me and those who helped in my campaign,” said Guslick. “I want to personally congratulate Marty Schulteis on his victory and I look forward to working with Sheriff Schulteis in the future and to continue to serve the citizens of Washington County.”

Schulteis will take the oath of office in January 2019 as Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt steps into retirement.

In February this year Schmidt announced he would not seek another term in office. His current term ends Jan. 4, 2019. In neighboring Dodge County incumbent Sheriff Dale Schmidt beat Jim Ketchem.

-St. Frances Cabrini annual Rummage Sale is Thursday, Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to noon in Mother Cabrini Hall in the lower level of the church. Baked goods will also be available. Rummage items can be dropped off Sept. 15 through Sept. 19.

-If you were a fan of the Galactic McDonald’s, 1140 S. Main Street in West Bend, you may want to pay a last visit as changes are ahead. The golden arches will undergo a large remodel which includes removing the galactic theme and the play area and a new playland with interactive technology will be put in its place. McDonald’s is going with a more modern, contemporary theme. The changes take place this month with a goal is to remain open during construction. On a history note: The Galactic McDonald’s first opened Feb. 28, 1996. “I was there when the special sauce for the Big Mac was mixed at the store and when the Hamburgler crawl thing, bouncy fry girls and metal slides were in the outdoor play land,” Sharon Ruplinger said recalling how they had to shut down the play area when it was “real hot because kids would burn their legs.”

– There’s a golf outing Sept. 23 at West Bend Lakes Golf Club and proceeds will go to the Luke Gromowski Ironman Scholarship Fund. Luke Gromowski was a senior at West Bend East when he died in a car accident in November 2014. A $1,000 scholarship will be presented each year to a senior from West Bend East and West High School that participated in football from fifth grade through their senior year. Registration for the outing is 8 a.m. with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The cost is $100 per adult and $50 for a student. Contact Ed Ihlenfeld at 262-707-5449 for more detail.

– Rally Time Sports Bar and Grill in West Bend is looking for a part-time line cook position. Rally Time has a family-friendly team atmosphere. The position is primarily day shift and coverage as needed. Call Dan at 262-389-1142 or Cindy at 262-389-0839 or stop at the bar for an application.

-Full time and part-time bartenders wanted at the V.F.W. Post 1393, 260 Sand Drive, West Bend. Call Jerry Faber for details 262-388-7006.

Sign up today for the 8th Annual Swinging for Seniors Golf Outing at West Bend Lakes Golf Club. All proceeds benefit Senior Citizens Activities, Inc. Stick around after golf and take part in the Classics for a Cause Raffle and a chance to win a 1968 Ford Mustang.

Tornado siren malfunctions at Washington County Fair Park

We had sunny skies and pleasant temps last Sunday and the tornado siren was blaring for nearly an hour at the Washington County Fair Park. It wasn’t a weather emergency and the Russians weren’t coming, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department it was just a malfunction

Wisconsin is Working

Positive news. What I really like to see is that it appears that more people are coming off of the sidelines and entering the labor market.

Wisconsin added 9,100 private sector jobs in July and the state’s unemployment rate remained 2.9 percent, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data released by the state Department of Workforce Development.

An increase of 2,800 jobs in leisure and hospitality, 2,400 in durable goods manufacturing and 2,300 in education and health services helped drive the increase.

Professional and business services was the only sector with a decrease in employment, down 1,300. Government employment was also down 400.

The state’s labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 68.9 percent. The number of people classified as unemployed increased 1,800 to 92,900. Overall employment decreased 2,000.

West Bend School Board Calls Special Meeting to Put Referendum on Ballot

As usual with this board… public notice posted on the business day before the meeting. Apparently, they only anticipate 3 minutes of public participation.

NOTICE OF SPECIAL BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING

Education Service Center

735 S. Main Street, West Bend

Board Room

August 20, 2018 6:00 pm

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC AUDIENCE: A) At the regular and special meetings of the Board of Education, the President of the Board will honor requests of the public to speak to any item prior to the President’s closing of public participation. Persons requesting to be heard shall register their written requests to the Board President and identify themselves by name and address. Based on the number of requests, the President may set a time limit for all persons to speak. Persons wishing to speak a second time must register a second time. A person may speak a maximum of three (3) minutes; however, the President may limit the time, depending on the number of persons requesting to address the Board. B) Due to time constraints, Agenda items may be taken out of order. C) The time schedule is used as a guide. Times are approximate.

AGENDA

6:00      1. Call to Order 2. Pledge of Allegiance

6:01      3. Approval of Agenda

6:02      4. Public Participation 5. Action Items

6:05      a. Possible referendum election November 6, 2018

6:15      b. Potential referendum question(s) 6. Adjourn

Imam Preached Jihad to Manchester Suicide Bomber

One might be concerned with this

An imam at the mosque where Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi and his family prayed was delivered a sermon calling for jihad.

Mustafa Graf encouraged followers to ‘take action’ at the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester on December 16, 2016.

That was just six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb killing 22 at an Ariana Grande concert in the city.

Increasing Number of Elderly Declare Bankruptcy

This is a concerning trend.

Older Americans are filing for bankruptcy at more than double the rate of just 25 years ago, a sign of a “coming storm of broke elderly,” a new study finds.

The rate of people 65 and over filing for bankruptcy grew nearly 204 percent from 1991 to 2016, a study published by the Social Science Research Network found, and the percentage of seniors among all U.S. bankruptcy filers increased by nearly five times over the same period.

Researchers looking at data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that high health care costs, combined with reduced incomes and the widespread decline of pensions, are all contributing to the growing trend of “financially broken retirees.”

Deborah Thorne, one of the study’s authors from the University of Idaho, said “it’s not an individual’s fault” when they have to file for bankruptcy, citing issues with retirement systems and Medicare.

Wait… what? “”it’s not an individual’s fault” when they have to file for bankruptcy”??? Whose fault is it, then? Part of the problem is that people aren’t taking responsibility for their own financial affairs. They behave as if magic pixies flew into their bank accounts and spent all of their money. Except in rare circumstances, almost every bankruptcy is an individual’s fault. Let’s think about this for a minute.

For years, we have seen Americans saving way too little.

Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which surveyed 2,003 adults, found that 21 percent of Americans have nothing saved at all for their golden years, and a third of Americans have less than $5,000. To put that into perspective, it means that 31 percent of U.S. adults could last only a few months on their savings if they had to retire tomorrow.

[…]

Young people who haven’t had as much time to save aren’t skewing the statistics, either. The report found that 33 percent of boomers have $25,000 or less in retirement savings.

Whose fault is that? It’s the individual’s fault, of course. Many, many people can save more, but choose not too. They choose to buy stuff now instead of putting that money into an investment or savings account. We live in a consumption culture and people consume at a rate far higher than their means. The lack of savings, often coupled with massive personal debt, leave far too many people without the means to deal with even a relatively minor life emergency like a medical bill, car accident, flooded basement, or whatever. They are unable to afford these unlikely, but not unexpected, events.
And why do most people go bankrupt? The top 5 reasons are:
1) Medical expenses
2) Job loss
3) Poor/Excessive use of credit
4) Divorce/separation
5) Unexpected expenses
#3 is obviously an individual’s fault. Most of the other causes can be weathered for a while if people are frugal and save money when times are good. People are going to lose jobs… it happens. Divorces happen. Medical expenses happen. Storms happen. Plan for it. Save. Don’t run up debt. If it doesn’t happen to you, then you still won’t regret having saved the money.

There are rare circumstances where an individual could be said to not be at fault for their financial condition. A major economic depression or natural disaster, for example. A lengthy, expensive medical issue, for example. But if an unexpected $5,000 bill pushes you into bankruptcy, it’s your fault. You planned poorly.

Our culture increasingly seeks to absolve individuals of any responsibility for the choices they make (see: abortion). But while the final incident that pushes someone into bankruptcy may not be their fault, the fact they were so vulnerable to bankruptcy is usually the result of a thousand bad decisions made up to that point.

Evers Threatens Education for Thousands of Choice Students

True.

Yesterday, State Superintendent Tony Evers won the Democratic Primary for governor. While Evers may come off much like a friendly grandfather—affable and harmless—it is important to recognize that he represents a threat to school choice in Wisconsin, even more so than previous Democrat gubernatorial candidates. Evers has a long record of opposing education reform that needs to be highlighted.

His stance on school choice may kick thousands of low-income Milwaukee students out of their schools

Evers has threatened to end Wisconsin’s school choice programs unless a number of untenable reforms are implemented. Without such changes, enrollment in the programs would be frozen. Voucher schools, particularly in Milwaukee, are reliant on a continual stream of students to remain viable. Freezing enrollment would effectively mean these schools would shut down and more than 27,000 low-income families in Milwaukee would be left with no option but to return to the low-performing Milwaukee Public Schools.

Judge Hagedorn Announces Run for Supreme Court

Great!

 

hagedorn

Muslim Woman Wins Judgement for Not Shaking Hands

It really annoys me when stuff like this has to go to a court when common decency and understanding should prevail.

A Muslim woman in Sweden has won compensation after her job interview was ended when she refused a handshake.

Farah Alhajeh was applying for a job as an interpreter when she declined to shake the hand of a male interviewer for religious reasons.

She placed her hand over her heart in greeting instead.

The Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her and ordered it to pay 40,000 kronor ($4,350; £3,420) in compensation.

Some Muslims avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family.

[…]

The interpreting company in the town of Uppsala had argued that its staff were required to treat men and women equally and could not allow a staff member to refuse a handshake based on gender.

But the discrimination ombudsman said she had tried to avoid upsetting anyone by placing her hand over her heart when greeting both men and women.

Sweden’s labour court found the company was justified in demanding equal treatment for both sexes – but not in demanding that it be in the form of a handshake only.

The Muslim tradition of avoiding physical contact with strangers of the opposite sex is well-known and perfectly fine. Some Christian, Jewish, and other religions have the same cultural quirk. And it’s fine… who cares? She woman in the case didn’t make a big deal about it and offered a perfectly reasonable alternative greeting. How many thousands of kronors were wasted to tell everyone in the case to “just don’t be a jerk”?

Strange Russian Satellite

Hmmm

But now the U.S. is voicing concerns and claiming that threat is very real — pointing in particular to a Russian satellite’s “very abnormal behavior.”

The satellite, launched in October 2017, has displayed behavior “inconsistent with anything seen before from” the kind of satellite Russia has said it is, according to Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Yleem D.S. Poblete.

Instead, without saying it outright, Poblete implied that the object could be a weapon, but said the U.S. cannot know for sure.

“We don’t know for certain what it is, and there is no way to verify it,” Poblete said yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Conference on Disarmament. Poblete was speaking before the international body for negotiating arms control to express the U.S.’s “serious concerns” about Russia’s push to launch weapons in space, especially anti-satellite weapons that can target satellites that the U.S. relies on for business, scientific and military purposes.

Dad Yells at White Supremacist

This made me LOL.

A livestreamed conversation with Jason Kessler, a white supremacist rally organizer, was interrupted when Kessler’s father admonished the 35-year-old on video, and told him to get out of his room.

Kessler was one of the main organizers of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Heather Heyer was killed when a self-described Nazi drove his car into a crowd of protesters. In the video, he was in conversation with Patrick Little, a neo-Nazi who ran as a Republican for the US Senate in California this year. Little’s platform included calling for the United States to be “free from Jews”.

Kessler and Little were deep in conversation about Orthodox Jews, when Kessler’s father cut in.

“Hey!” Kessler’s father can be heard to yell. “You get out of my room!”

“You got a drunk roommate there?” Little asked.

“Something like that,” Kessler responded. His dad then cuts in, saying: “I want this to stop in my room, Jason, this is my room.”

Kessler explains to Little that legal costs associated with last year’s Unite the Right rally meant that he had to move back in with his parents.

The neo-nazis and the Antifa folks have a lot in common.

Managed Economy = Barren Shelves

Every time.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s largest legal marijuana market is struggling.

Illicit sales continue to thrive. A shaky supply chain has customers looking at barren shelves in some shops. There are testing problems. And a proposal to allow home marijuana deliveries in cities that have banned pot sales could lead to a courtroom fight.

A Los Angeles hearing Tuesday provided a window into the state’s emerging cannabis economy, in which early enthusiasm for broad legal sales has been followed by anxiety and frustration across a swath of the industry.

The state’s top marijuana regulator, Lori Ajax, said after the hearing that the state remains in a challenging transition period as it attempts to transform what was once a largely illegal market into a multibillion-dollar, regulated economy.

Putting aside whether or not you think pot should be legal, this is a case study of the free market. Instead of just making pot legal and letting the private sector bring it to market, California chose to heavily regulate the market from growing to distribution to consumption. The result was inevitable… barren shelves and a blossoming black market. Government bureaucrats trying to manage a market will never be as successful or efficient as millions of people making independent decisions in a free market.

New Zealand Bans Foreigners From Buying Most Real Estate

Interesting.

The country’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law banning foreigners from buying into most parts of its residential property market as the government seeks to cool red-hot house prices.

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill will prevent overseas investors from purchasing existing properties in New Zealand, but they will still be able to buy into new apartment complexes and certain other parts of the housing market.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigned on a promise to clamp down on foreign buyers, blaming them for soaring prices that have left many New Zealanders unable to enter the property market.

[…]

Most foreign buyers in New Zealand don’t state where they’re from, official data shows, but the majority of those who do are from China.

New Zealand has also proved to be a popular retreat for the rich and famous. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel and disgraced former NBC host Matt Lauer both own properties in the country.

The Chinese, in particular, are buying property all over the world – especially in America.

Why?

Thanks to their booming economy, there are a lot of Chinese people who have a lot of money. But they still live in a totalitarian regime where their assets can be seized or they can be cast out at any time. There is no real protection for private property in China. So what do you do if you are a wealthy Chinese businessman and you don’t want your assets to evaporate by the whim of a dictator? You buy property in other countries that protect private property. That way, if something happens in China, at least you still have a pot of gold buried somewhere for your family.

Baldwin’s tragic record of inaction

Now that we’re through the primary, here’s my full column from the Washington County Daily News.

At the writing of this column, we do not yet know who the Republicans will select to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November. What we do know is that Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson would both be a tremendous improvement over Baldwin. Irrespective of which Republican moves forward to challenge Senator Baldwin, all Republicans must unite quickly if they are to unseat a sitting Democratic senator in what looks to be a strong year for Democrats.

In her lengthy career in politics, Sen. Baldwin has a curious record that is almost completely barren of accomplishment. Baldwin’s passion for inactivity has led to her only accomplishment of note — sitting idly by when she could have done something to stop the opioid abuses at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah.

In the summer of 2014, Sen. Baldwin was quietly passed an inspection report by the VA inspector general from a friendly administration looking to give her a heads up. The report detailed a history and pattern of prescription drug abuses at the Tomah center that dated back to 2011 whereby powerful opioids and other drugs were handed out with impunity. Not only did the behavior endanger the lives of the veterans, but it was a conduit for opioids to be funneled onto the streets.

Sen. Baldwin ignored the report. She did not do anythingabout it. For months, the whistleblower and veteran Ryan Honl vigorously pushed Baldwin’s office to do something. He called and emailed her office asking her to take action on the VA inspector general’s report. Still Baldwin did nothing. The pleas from her constituent fell on deaf ears.

One must remember how little effort it would have taken Sen. Baldwin to do something on behalf of the veterans being drugged in Tomah. At the time, President BarackObama was in office and the secretary of VeteransAffairs is a member of the president’s cabinet.

A simple phone call or letter from a Democratic senator to a member of a Democratic administration would have carried a lot of weight. Still Baldwin did nothing.

It was not until January 2015 that Sen. Baldwin finally decided to act. Wisconsin news outlets began to run the story of a 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran who died of an overdose while an inpatient at the Tomah facility. Those news reports also shared details of the inspector general’s report — the same report that Baldwin had in her possession for months — regarding the incredible amount of opioids flowing out of Tomah.

Then, and only then, Sen. Baldwin acted. She called for an investigation. Baldwin knew of the abuses at the Tomah VA Medical Center for months. She was badgered by a constituent and veteran to do something. But neither her conscience, concern for veterans or pleas from constituents compelled her to act. The only thing that got Sen. Baldwin’s attention was a news story that was unfavorable to her. At least we now know what it takes to get Sen. Baldwin to do something on behalf of her constituents. It takes the media running a story involving her.

Wisconsin deserves better. Wisconsin deserves a senator who will dive into the thicket of Washington politics and fight like a Badger for the people of Wisconsin. Sen. Baldwin has had six years — four of which were during the presidency of President Barack Obama — to deliver results for her constituents. The only measurable result has been the tragic consequences of her dithering.