Wisconsin’s Democratic rising star

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has risen to be a leading light in Democratic circles and will likely have a role in the national Democratic convention next year. Unfortunately, as Wisconsinites have gotten to know our new lieutenant governor in the fraction of a year since he took office, we have learned that the man who is a breath away from being our governor has a detached relationship with the truth and a penchant for blaming others for his misdeeds.

The most recent revelation is that Barnes lied about being a college graduate. For years, Barnes has represented himself as a graduate of Alabama A&M University. He did so in various media interviews, on podcasts, and on social media. His graduation status was shared in innumerable news stories about Barnes that he never bothered to correct. It turns out, however, that Barnes never actually graduated. In an interview with The Isthmus, Barnes admitted that he did not graduate. He shared some excuses and stories about why he did not graduate, but nobody knows if he is telling the truth about that either.

During the same interview where Barnes finally confessed, he revealed another unappealing part of his character. He blamed a staffer for the lie. Last year, Barnes claimed that a staffer incorrectly identified him as a graduate in a candidate questionnaire for the Wisconsin State Journal. The problem is that the questionnaire was not the only place where Barnes claimed his higher education, nor does the fact that a staffer filled out the form absolve Barnes from responsibility for its content. After all, the staffer must have learned Barnes’ alleged graduation status from someone — most likely Barnes himself. For Barnes to blame a staffer for a falsehood that Barnes perpetuated for years is an ugly character trait. This incident with Barnes is part of a pattern of behavior. In June, almost six months after they were due, we learned that Barnes had not yet paid his 2018 property taxes in Milwaukee. Once again, Barnes’ first reaction was to lie. He claimed that he was paying his property taxes on an installment plan, but that lie quickly fell apart when the city treasurer disclosed that he was not doing an installment plan and had not made any payments whatsoever.

Barnes also still owes some property taxes from 2017, but claimed that the bill was sent to the previous owners. The problem, as any property owner knows, is that the property taxes follow the property, not the owner. One again, Barnes is caught doing something wrong, tried to lie about it, and then, when caught, tried to blame someone else.

Also this summer, WisPolitics. com revealed that Barnes had run up a staggering security bill. In just the first two months in office, Barnes utilized the Dignitary Protection Unit, the State Patrol agency that provides transportation and security for officials, nine times more than his predecessor did in the entirety of last year. It turns out that Barnes is using the taxpayer- funded protection unit to transport him to and from his home, political events, personal errands, and, of course, official meetings.

For weeks, the exorbitant security costs for our lieutenant governor defied rational explanation. Then we learned the reason. Barnes had $108 in parking tickets that he failed to pay on a car last year. The outstanding fines and penalties prevented Barnes from registering a car. Without a legal car to drive, Barnes decided to have State Patrol officers chauffeur him around at taxpayers’ expense. The taxpayers have already spent tens of thousands of dollars because Barnes did not want to pay a $108 fine.

And again, we get the same spun yarn from Barnes. He claims that he sold the car to a friend of his mother’s in November and that he was unaware of the fines. Given that he does not have any car registered in his name anymore, the timing would suggest that Barnes just decided to leverage the taxpayers’ largesse after the election instead of bothering with getting his vehicular affairs in order.

The good news is that although Gov. Tony Evers continues to publicly stand by Barnes’ honesty despite all evidence to the contrary, Evers has wisely withheld giving Barnes anything important to do. Unfortunately for the people of Wisconsin, should the unthinkable happen to Evers, Barnes will be handed everything important to do.

 

Trump Floats Tax Cut

While I always appreciate a tax cut, it’s the spending that is out of control. Cut spending… then taxes.

President Trump on Tuesday confirmed the White House is discussing a temporary payroll tax cut as a strategy to boost the economy, even as he maintains the country’s economic outlook remains strong.

“Payroll tax is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that,” Trump said Tuesday during an exchange with reporters at the White House.

“We’re looking at various tax reductions. But I’m looking at that all the time anyway,” he added.

The president said that the administration is also looking at doing something on the capital gains tax, but cautioned that nothing has been decided. He suggested that he could index the capital gains to inflation unilaterally, though such a move would likely face challenges from Democrats in Congress.

Back on Campus

Good.

UW-Madison announced Monday it has reinstated former Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Quintez Cephus to the university — a year to the day after he told his team he had to step down and face criminal charges.

The university expelled Cephus last semester for violating the non-academic misconduct code following accusations of sexual assault from two women. A Dane County jury acquitted him of those charges earlier this month after deliberating for less than an hour.

[…]

Cephus, 21, was suspended from the team in August 2018 because of the women’s accusations. He maintains the sex was consensual.

He said at a Monday news conference that he learned of his reinstatement while flying back to Madison from his hometown of Macon, Georgia. He said he is ready to start winning football games and anticipates playing this season.

UW Athletics said in a statement Cephus has officially rejoined the team, but must work through some “eligibility issues” before he can participate in a game. UW Athletics spokesman Brian Lucas declined to clarify those issues. He also said Cephus’ athletic scholarship had been restored.

By law, he did not do anything wrong. A government institution should not ban people based on unproven accusations. The university did the right thing here.

I do think, however, that the university needs to rethink its policies for accusations. Cephus was expelled and kicked off campus based on an accusation that was later shown to be without merit. While the university has a duty to protect other students and faculty from people who they think might be dangerous, they should not be in the business of handing down such severe punishments, like expulsion, based on an unproven accusation.

Wisconsin’s Democratic rising star

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a sample:

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has risen to be a leading light in Democratic circles and will likely have a role in the national Democratic convention next year. Unfortunately, as Wisconsinites have gotten to know our new lieutenant governor in the fraction of a year since he took office, we have learned that the man who is a breath away from being our governor has a detached relationship with the truth and a penchant for blaming others for his misdeeds.

[…]

The good news is that although Gov. Tony Evers continues to publicly stand by Barnes’ honesty despite all evidence to the contrary, Evers has wisely withheld giving Barnes anything important to do. Unfortunately for the people of Wisconsin, should the unthinkable happen to Evers, Barnes will be handed everything important to do.

New Pro-Abortion Google Rule

It seems to me that a search engine should just find and present the underlying websites based on their content and not seek to interpret, filter, or twist that content on the basis of Google’s own biases.

new Google policy that was meant to rein in deceptive advertising by “crisis pregnancy centers” has a loophole that is allowing the centers to continue to post misleading ads on the search engine.

Crisis pregnancy centers often seek to aggressively discourage women from getting abortions and have earned the ire of abortion rights groups for often seeming to resemble abortion clinics.

The loophole means only users who are specifically searching under the term “abortion” will be provided information on Google’s website about whether a particular health care clinic does – or does not – offer the procedure to women.

If a user searches under other terms, like “free pregnancy test” or “pregnancy symptoms”, no such information appears under the advertisements for the same clinics. While the difference might seem semantic, there is a worry that it will confuse women who might mistake a crisis pregnancy center for an abortion clinic.

Gillum Loves Some Gun Control

He manages to display his stunning stupidity on two important issues.

“That is ridiculous,” retorted Gillum, who campaigned in favor of expanded gun-control legislation when he ran for governor of Florida last year.

“It’s not the opioids that’s the problem; it’s the people taking the opioids,” he said, presumably equating Santorum’s comments to the opioid crisis.

Hong Kong on the March

Amazing.

An estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong – a quarter of the population – defied police orders to stage a peaceful march after a rally in a downtown park, after two months of increasingly violent clashes that have prompted severe warnings from Beijing and failed to win concessions from the city’s government.

Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas. At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, and surrounded government headquarters.

Sudan’s Leaders Sign Agreement

This doesn’t look promising.

Sudan’s ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance have signed a landmark power-sharing deal.

The agreement ushers in a new governing council, including both civilians and generals, to pave the way towards elections and civilian rule.

Gen Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, widely regarded as Sudan’s most powerful man, has pledged to abide by its terms.

Sudan has seen pro-democracy protests and repression since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

[…]

Under the deal, a sovereign council, consisting of six civilians and five generals, will run the country until elections.

The two sides have agreed to rotate the chairmanship of the council for just over three years. A prime minister nominated by civilians is due to be appointed next week.

So the civilian and martial war lords have agreed to create an oligarchy to run the country. I don’t think that’s what the democracy protesters had in mind.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Washington County proposed POWTS fee may be dead

The Washington County Land Use and Planning Committee will meet Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 a.m. and one of the agenda items includes making a recommendation to the full County Board on the special charge tax assessment for the Private On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Maintenance Program.

The basic premise of the special tax would be to assess at $11 per parcel annually properties served by POWTS or $11 per system, whichever is greater based on the above cost estimate. Approximately 20,209 parcels (99.5%) would be assessed an $11 fee ($11 x 20,209= $222,299).

During a public hearing July 25, 2019 more than 50 people spoke against the special assessment and county officials read 46 pages of letters that also were against the proposal.

County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said he is going to make a recommendation at the August 22 meeting.

“At that meeting I will recommend to that committee to vote ‘No’ on implementing the POWTS fee,” he said.

During the Sept. 11 County Board meeting, Schoemann said he will again recommend the County Board vote ‘No’ on the POWTS fee.

“We’ve recognized the situation and the outcry and citizens clearly have no interest in doing the fee or the tax; call it what you want it’s a tax. So I had a budget workshop and I don’t think this board has the votes,” he said.

On the other hand, if the board does have the votes to pass the fee Schoemann said come October the County Board would have to pass the budget with the POWTS fee and that needs 18 votes. “I don’t think there’s 18 votes on the County Board to pass the budget with the fee in it,” he said. “So, the board is properly responding to the constituents, I’m trying to be responsive to the constituents; they don’t want the fee and we’re not going to implement the fee.”

Trend in Washington County government

While Schoemann said he will recommend a ‘No’ vote there has been a trend in county government lately to bring an issue back to the full County Board for a second vote, even if the item was initially defeated.

“That has happened about five times in the last 15 months,” said Schoemann.

One of the most recent instances was the county board’s vote against an elected executive director. While the item failed on a 13-13 vote, a couple of supervisors have revived the issue and put it back on the table.

Schoemann said it is up to the full County Board to decide on the special assessment POWTS fee, however one of the factors playing into the issue is timing.

“If the fee passes, we need time to put it on tax bills,” he said. “If it’s voted down in September then October is the last chance, they can do it and if it doesn’t come back in October then it can’t come back at all.

“I don’t expect it to come back… especially if I’m recommending, they vote no; but I can’t imagine someone would bring it back,” Schoemann said.

Informational meeting August 27 at Washington County Fair Park

After the July public hearing the county was scheduled to have an informational meeting about the POWTS proposal, however that meeting was cancelled.

Schoemann indicated an informational meeting has now been scheduled, but it will be after the Land Use and Planning Committee meeting August 22.

Please be advised that the County has rescheduled the Fiscal Health Informational Meeting for Tuesday, August 27 at 6 p.m. at the Washington County Fair Park Pavilion Exhibit Hall.   An update regarding the status of the proposed POWTS Special Assessment will be provided in addition to a discussion about the County’s fiscal health and budget.

“I want people to know what’s going on with the county fiscally,” said Schoemann.

In the past Schoemann has detailed how Washington County is “falling off a financial cliff.”

“That’s how the POWTS fee came up in the first place because there is a financial cliff. We’ve been directed not to raise taxes at all so fees or cuts is what we’re doing. I’m going to recommend the POWTS fee not be passed.”

2019 Allenton Parade dedicated to volunteer firefighter and EMT Bruce Ellis | By Ron Naab

The Allenton Annual Picnic Committee announced this year’s parade will be dedicated to Bruce Ellis with the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department.

Ellis was nominated for the Washington County American Legion Council for his outstanding contributions as an EMT to the department and those they serve.   Ellis won the county nomination and was then nominated for the Second District of the Wisconsin Department of the American Legion, which he won as well and was then nominated for State recognition.

On July 21 Ellis received the 2019 EMT of the Year award from the Wisconsin Department of American Legion. Ellis joined Allenton Volunteer Fire Department in January 2014; this was a result of Allenton FD responding to a call to help his grandson.

This the second time Ellis has been involved serving others as a firefighter and EMT; he served previously with Bark Lake Rescue.

Ellis has willingly taken courses to improve his skills to be an outstanding provider of emergency medical treatments.

According to the nomination letter, “Each time Bruce’s help and expertise has been requested, he has stepped up and offered to help, always with the statement ‘l will help with whatever you want me to do.’”

Ellis has served with many committees within the department from setting guidelines, sharing his skills, working with youngsters and purchasing equipment.

The Allenton Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 18. Watch for a live broadcast at Washington County Insider.

Egbert & Guido’s Citgo in West Bend has been demolished

The old Egbert & Guido’s Citgo station, 1300 E. Paradise Drive, in West Bend met its demise today as crews tore down the building on the corner of Paradise Drive and River Road.

It was Dec. 22, 2018 when owners George and Kathy Muth confirmed they had sold the business and building to Kwik Trip. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but it made sense,” said Kathy Muth.

The corner of northwest corner of Paradise Drive and River Road has been in the Muth family since 1847.

“That was always farm field,” said George Muth. “It was corn, soybeans and hay and I farmed it when I was young, and I was fifth generation to farm it.” George remembered all four corners were farm field and Paradise Drive was “a very skinny, one-lane road.”

Plans for the new east side Kwik Trip include a car wash, 20 fueling stations, and it’s anticipated the location will offer 20-25 jobs.

The convenience store will also be flipped and face River Road and the roundabout off Paradise Drive. It’s a different setup than what Egbert & Guido’s offered. Construction, according to Kwik Trip, is set to get underway in 2020.

There will soon be four Kwik Trips in West Bend with stores on Silverbrook Drive, S. Main Street and Decorah Road, Highway 33 east (the former East Side Mobil), and the store on Paradise Drive and River Road.

Halloween store to open this month in former Shopko building in West Bend

There are boxes and crates and grocery carts full of costumes and Halloween displays all waiting to be unwrapped at the former Shopko, 1710 S. Main Street, in West Bend. That’s as the empty big box store will open temporarily as the home to the new Spirit Halloween.

According to its website: Spirit Halloween has one single goal, to deliver the very best Halloween experience possible to all our guests. We are the largest seasonal Halloween retailer in the world and the premier destination for everything Halloween.

The store carries Halloween costumes, accessories, animatronics, décor and more. The district manager in West Bend Teri Kennedy said the franchise was headquartered in New Jersey. The Halloween supply store will only take up about a third of the front of the former Shopko building. The business started to unload stock August 5. Spirit Halloween is expected to open at the end of August and run through November.

Shopko stores across Wisconsin officially closed in June 2019.

Plans underway to move playground at Sandy Knoll County Park

About a dozen people turned out for the initial open house at Sandy Knoll Park to discuss adding a proposed 10-acre fenced-in dog exercise area. If approved this would be the second dog park in the Washington County Park System; the first was Homestead Howl Dog Park installed in 2018 in the Village of Germantown.

Comments at the open house ranged from the height and type of fence, whether there would be an added cost to get into the dog exercise area, who would monitor the dog park, would dogs need proof of rabies vaccines, would there be a small dog area and would a small pond at Sandy Knoll be included in the dog park. Eric Hyde, Washington County Park and Trail Manager, said the county received a nice five-figure donation to help pay for the setup of the dog park.

 

Playground changes at Sandy Knoll Park

One of the other topics during the meeting was about moving the children’s playground located at the entrance of Sandy Knoll. The idea would be to disassemble the setup and move the playground to another area at Sandy Knoll or possibly relocate it to Homestead Hollow in Germantown.

Hyde said moving the play area was in response to the recent release and placement of registered sex offender Kenneth Crass.

On July 23, 2019 Crass was released back to his home on Wallace Lake Road, which happens to be located next to the kid’s playground at Sandy Knoll Park.

In July, when Crass was released, Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis addressed his placement near an area with children. “I’ve been in touch with the County Parks Department and we’re looking at different options,” said Sheriff Schulteis. “Whether it’s signage or fencing; it’s certainly something we’re aware of.

“Aside from the children’s playground there’s a rental unit belonging to the county and they want to make sure renters know about the registered sex offender.”

The County Parks Department said it will be placing a notice at the rental unit, regarding a registered sex offender. A decision on the future location of the playground has yet to be determined.

West Bend School Board to hear Private Task Force report Monday, Oct. 14

The West Bend School Board voted to move its Committee of the Whole meeting from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, 2019 so it can hear a report from the District Private Task Force which has been studying facility and operational efficiencies in the district.

The Task Force was formed in the wake of a failed referendum in April of 2019.  The goal of the referendum was the construction of a new K-4 elementary school in Jackson and safety and infrastructure enhancements at the high schools.

The group has been reviewing forecasted maintenance and capital improvement needs at the facilities, studying projected enrollment data and comparing new information to the District’s 25-year plan which was compiled almost 10 years ago. Task Force organizer Kraig Sadownikow will be ready to report October 14, 2019. He said it will take 60-90 minutes.

“We do not expect to make recommendations to the School Board. Instead, we will present findings within the context of the District’s long-range improvement plan,” Sadownikow said.  “The School Board was elected to make decisions.  With that in mind, we will offer our independent thoughts and findings, allowing the School Board to draw its own conclusions and take action accordingly.”

Task Force members are Kevin Steiner, Tim Schmidt, Kraig Sadownikow, Randy Stark, Ed Duquaine, Dan Garvey, Mike Chevalier, Owen Robinson, Chris Kleman, Chris Schmidt and the education team from Zimmerman Design Studios.  Members were chosen based on their design, construction, facilities management and communication expertise.

For additional information on the West Bend School District Private Task Force contact Kraig Sadownikow at www.teamacs.net.

9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum starting to take shape

The 9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum is starting to take shape. After more than 200 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony in June, work got underway to start constructing the Memorial which is located on the southeast corner of Fond du Lac Avenue and First Street.

“Primary in our goals is that this memorial will for generations to come, stand as a historical touchstone linking the past event of 9/11/2001 to the present,” said organizer Gordon Haberman.

“The memorial will be a physical structure which respectfully honors the memory of those lost that day and in the resulting conflicts afterwards. It will stand as an important source of information for young people in understanding the sacrifices of 9/11, yet also portray the strength, spirit and resolve of America.”

Former WBHS shop teacher Dick Trinkl has died

Richard (Dick) James Trinkl May 7, 1948 to August 13, 2019. Richard taught 35 years in West Bend Public Schools, the majority at Badger Middle School as a shop teacher. He will be remembered most for his love for Jesus, his family, and any person he met. A memorial service will be held at Crossway Church, W156N10041 Pilgrim Road, Germantown on Sunday, Aug. 18 with visitation at 2 p.m. and the service at 3 p.m.

Washington County 4-H Open House

Young people with an interest in developing leadership skills, volunteering in the community and looking for new and fun ways to learn are encouraged to attend an upcoming Washington County 4-H Open Houses. 4-H is a volunteer-driven organization offering a wide variety of research-based and youth development programs ranging from photography, cooking and raising livestock, to learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) through robotics and more.

During the open houses, attendees will be able to meet 4-H club members and leaders, try out hands-on activities, check out the archery range (open for ages 8-19 on Aug. 21), and enjoy light refreshments.

Open House is Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Washington County Fair Park, Small Animal Building, 3000 Pleasant Valley Road (Hwy PV), West Bend, WI 53095.

Hartford Union HS District CNA classroom ready for new school year | By Teri Kermendy

Hartford Union High School (HUHS) is excited to announce the CNA classroom is ready for the new school year.

For the first time students at HUHS can earn the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification as part of a normal school day and earn MPTC credits and elective credits.  The classroom was the final piece of this program.

The CNA course is a semester long course in which 15 students first semester are enrolled and 16 students second semester.  Students will earn three MPTC credits and 1 HUHS elective credit for taking this course.

“Having this course at HUHS is a huge convenience for our students,” said Jon Duhr, director of teaching and learning.  “In the past, students were driving to Beaver Dam to take this course and driving 45 minutes for nine weeks in the middle of winter.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students,” said Duhr.  “Once students complete the certification they can begin working as a CNA right away which is really important to our local health care facilities looking to fill those much-needed positions.  Students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, can use this certification as a steppingstone for their future.”

The instructor for this course is Tina Cordell from Moraine Park Technical College.

“We’d like to thank all of the supporters for this project, without them this would not be possible,” said Duhr.

The equipment needed for the course were provided from funds from the Carl Perkins Grant, Aurora, (specifically Hailey Nenonen and Karen Bialas), Cheribini and from Medical Staff of Aurora Medical Center Washington County.

Updates & tidbits

-The deadline is August 30, 2019 to cast a sealed bid for a 2008 conversion van Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County is retiring from its fleet.  According to Interfaith “the vehicle has been well maintained and service records are available upon request.”  More information is at 262-365-0902.

– Horicon Bank’s free Shred Day is Saturday, Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. – noon. Horicon Bank, 1535 W. Paradise Drive, in West Bend will be collecting donations for the Wisconsin Honor Flight at its Shred Day event.

-Scouts chartered by the West Bend Moose Lodge will host “Experience the Adventure” at an Open House on Tuesday, August 27 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the West Bend Moose Lodge, 1721 Chestnut Street, West Bend. There will be interactive activities including camping, backpacking, cooking, pioneering (rope and knots), orienteering (map and compass) and more.

The Scouts recently returned from a week at summer camp at Ed Bryant Scout Reservation and a high adventure backpacking trip to Cloud Peak, Wyoming and will gladly share stories and photos about these recent adventures.

Scouting is a premier youth development program – preparing young people to become responsible citizens and make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes. Anyone with an interest in camping, the outdoors, developing leadership skills and service to the community is encouraged to attend.

-The Kettle Moraine Ice Center in West Bend has a try hockey free weekend Sept. 6-8, a women’s hockey tournament Sept. 13-15, a mini clinic specially designed for little kids and beginners the weekends of Sept. 21 and 28, and a girls only try hockey on October 5.

Log Cabin Republicans Endorse Trump

Interesting.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Log Cabin Republicans chairman Robert Kabel and vice chair Jill Homan credited Trump with “removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook” and “taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

“He has committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years, through the use of proven science, medicine and technology to which we now have access,” they wrote. “Trump has used the United States’ outsize global influence to persuade other nations to adopt modern human rights standards, including launching an initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality.”

“While we do not agree with every policy or platform position presented by the White House or the Republican Party,” they added, “we share a commitment to individual responsibility, personal freedom and a strong national defense.”

Evers Says Barnes was “Truthful”

Liars gonna lie. And apparently our governor is cool with that.

After the reporter told Barnes that the governor had been asked the question, Evers leaned into the podium and said ‘‘I’ve talked to the lieutenant governor about all sorts of things, including this, and I feel confident that he’s been truthful.’’

Later in the news conference another reporter asked

Evers to explain why he thought Barnes had been truthful. Again Barnes jumped in before Evers could respond.

‘‘Hey, Mandela here,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m actually here.’’

The reporter said he was looking for Evers’ opinion, to which Barnes replied that the questionnaire came from his campaign staff.

‘‘That didn’t come from me,’’ Barnes said. He then added his name is in ‘‘the graduation book.’’

‘‘I was literally there. I didn’t just pop up and say ‘oh, hey, guys,’’’ he said. It wasn’t clear if he was referring to A& M’s graduation ceremony. Barnes last year posted photos of himself in a cap and gown at A& M’s 2008 graduation ceremony.

One of Evers’ media staff told the governor he could answer the question.

‘‘Right,’’ Evers said. ‘‘I believe those responses are responsible responses, and as a result I believe that he’s been truthful.’’

POWTS Fee Dead?

Maybe.

County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said he is going to make a recommendation at the August 22 meeting.

“At that meeting I will recommend to that committee to vote ‘No’ on implementing the POWTS fee,” he said.

During the Sept. 11 County Board meeting, Schoemann said he will again recommend the County Board vote ‘No’ on the POWTS fee.

“We’ve recognized the situation and the outcry and citizens clearly have no interest in doing the fee or the tax; call it what you want it’s a tax. So I had a budget workshop and I don’t think this board has the votes,” he said.

On the other hand, if the board does have the votes to pass the fee Schoemann said come October the County Board would have to pass the budget with the POWTS fee and that needs 18 votes. “I don’t think there’s 18 votes on the County Board to pass the budget with the fee in it,” he said. “So the board is properly responding to the constituents, I’m trying to be responsive to the constituents; they don’t want the fee and we’re not going to implement the fee.”

Israel Bans Omar and Tlaib

While Israel is perfectly within it’s rights and these two women are demonstrably anti-Semitic, I don’t appreciate the Israeli’s banning two duly-elected members of the United States Congress.

Israel is blocking two US Democratic lawmakers and prominent critics of Israel from visiting.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week.

Both have supported the boycott movement against Israel, but Israeli law allows supporters of the campaign to be banned from visiting.

Federal Lawsuit Against Act 10 Thrown Out

Act 10. Still legal. Still right. Still working.

MADISON – A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit seeking to overturn former Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law that sharply limited collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin.

The lawsuit over the law known as Act 10 was brought by two arms of the International Union of Operating Engineers after state and federal courts upheld the law in other cases. The union intends to file a new lawsuit, according to a motion filed by its attorneys.

Union officials filed the latest lawsuit in 2018, dropped it months later and revived it in May to name Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul as defendants.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman agreed to throw out the lawsuit after Kaul in July argued the court did not have jurisdiction because the case had previously been closed.

Attorneys for the union agreed with Kaul and didn’t object to the lawsuit’s dismissal, according to court records.

Labour Moves Toward Brexit Deal

Nothing like a crisis to force a compromise. Then again, the compromise may be worse than the no-deal Brexit.

Labour MPs opposed to a second referendum are considering a “radical and dramatic intervention” to make clear to Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnsonthey are prepared to vote for a Brexit deal, with one estimating that dozens of colleagues are now ready to back the withdrawal agreement.

Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP who coordinates around 30 MPs in a group called Respect the Result, said he believed that passing the withdrawal agreement was the most certain way of stopping the UK crashing out without a deal.

Kinnock, who had been urging Corbyn to do a deal with Theresa May in cross-party talks, said there was an increasing feeling among many of his colleagues opposed to a second referendum that passing the withdrawal agreement bill was the best option.

Despite Johnson’s refusal to negotiate with the EU unless it drops the backstop, Kinnock said a time would come in the autumn when a compromise deal could be done based on the withdrawal agreement that emerged out of cross-party talks.

“We’ve got to make a radical and dramatic intervention,” he said. “If enough of us do then it’s up to Boris Johnson to see where he goes from there. It means a large number of us going to see Jeremy and trying as hard as we possibly can telling him to make that big, bold offer, to face down the second referendum campaign and say there’s no time for that. We’ve got to get this deal over the line.

Clinton in Drag

Best story of the day. I think I found my new background.

Hong Kong Continues to Rage

I expect that totalitarian China is running out of patience, but Hong Kong is too important to their economy to risk a complete crackdown… yet.

Hong Kong International Airport saw chaotic scenes on a second consecutive day of massive anti-government protests that have paralysed one of Asia’s key transport hubs.

Squads of riot police arrived shortly before midnight after thousands of demonstrators again flooded the terminal buildings during the day.

Flight departures were brought to a standstill amid scuffles.

At least three men were mobbed inside the airport by protesters.

They were said to be holding identity cards showing they were police officers from mainland China.

Hong Kong police have admitted deploying the editor of China’s Global Times newspaper said one of those attacked was one of his reporters who was merely doing his job.

Facebook is Listening

And again

Facebook has become the latest company to admit that human contractors listened to recordings of users without their knowledge, a practice the company now says has been “paused”.

Citing contractors who worked on the project, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that the company hired people to listen to audio conversations carried out on Facebook Messenger.

The practice involved users who had opted in Messenger to have their voice chats transcribed, the company said. The contractors were tasked with re-transcribing the conversations in order to gauge the accuracy of the automatic transcription tool.

“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian.

Ending the carnage

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print!

Another spate of senseless mass killings have left Americans reeling. Our natural and justifiable instinct is to do something — anything – to stop the madness. While the usual opportunists are pouncing on the latest tragedies to advance their political careers or raise money for their interest groups, there seems to be an evolution in the national discussion this time.

First, we must identify the problem. Mass killings are still rare. Far more people are killed by drug overdoses, crime, distracted driving, medical errors, suicide, and other unnatural causes. But mass killings are sensational, and that is part of the problem.

There have been mass killings for centuries. In our modern interconnected and instant media age, mass killings take on a life of their own. Often before a mass killing is even reported, there are live pictures and video streaming onto social media platforms. The carnage and chaos that can be replayed over and over again eats into the mind of the next killer as he (usually he) plans his virtual immortality. The internet and social media enable a kind of gamification of death where one mass killer tries to outdo the previous one.

But the internet and media do not cause mass killings. They are one facet of a complex issue. The same can be said for guns and gun laws. In most cases, a gun is the instrument used by a mass killer for the simple reason that a gun is a cheap and efficient means of inflicting harm. The United States already bans several of the most deadly kinds of guns and prevents the legal sale of guns to people who have previously committed a heinous crime. Do we need to do more? Can we do more and remain within the confines of the Constitution? Should we?

So far, the proponents of more gun control have centered on two ideas. The first is to implement so-called “red flag” laws. These are laws that allow the government to confiscate a person’s guns if they exhibit “red flags” that indicate that they might be about to commit a crime. Would such laws help? Maybe a little. Is it possible to craft a law that works while still upholding an American’s individual rights protected by the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Amendments? Doubtful.

The second new law proponents advocate is for more rigorous and “universal” background checks. What they mean by that is background checks for when an individual sells or gives a gun to another individual. The vast majority of mass killers obtained their guns legally, so there is little to indicate that expanding background checks would have any impact on abating mass killings. This is simply a reflexive measure designed to give politicians the veneer of “doing something.”

Another serious aspect in the discussion of mass killings is how we treat and help the mentally ill. Here again, do we need to do more? Can we do more and remain within the confines of the Constitution? Should we? Much like the vast majority of gun owners never kill anyone, the vast majority of mentally ill people never kill anyone. And while it is easy for people to assume that anyone who commits mass murder is mentally ill, the truth is that many, or even most, are not. They are evil, but not insane. The mainstreaming of the mentally ill into our society has not done them or our society any favors, but a process started sixty years ago is not responsible for 20-somethings committing mass murder today.

There isn’t a single law or policy that we can implement that will prevent mass killings. Nor, short of a complete police state, will we end them completely. There is a price to be paid for living in a free society that is not always paid on a distant battlefield. The root of the problem lies in our culture; in our homes; on our streets; and on our computers.

According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, “The characteristics [of mass killers] that most frequently occur are males, often hopeless and harboring grievances that are frequently related to work, school, finances or interpersonal relationships; feeling victimized and sympathizing with others who they perceive to be similarly mistreated; indifference to life.” We do not have a deficiency in our laws. We have a deficiency in our culture that leaves people in such isolation and hopelessness.

Passing another law will not deter people in this state of mind, but kindness might. A hand extended in friendship and fellowship might. An invitation to a bowling league, summer community event, or to attend church might. Faith in God and salvation will. It is difficult to feel hopeless and indifferent to life when you are enveloped in the full panoply of human relationships.

Mass killings will never be stopped by a government that respects individual liberty, but they can be stopped by a trillion simple acts of kindness. Love one another.

It’s Hardest on the Kids

Indeed.

Mark Morgan, the acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said on Sunday that children’s reactions to their parents being detained during the Mississippi raids, doesn’t change the fact that they committed a crime.

‘I understand that the girl is upset and I get that. But her father committed a crime,’ Morgan told CNN, dismissing a video of a crying 11-year-old girl who was begging for ICE to release her parents.

He said the young girl, Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, saw her mother, who was home, shortly after the viral video of her sobbing was recorded.

‘I know it’s emotional and I know it’s done on purpose to show a picture like that,’ Morgan said of the video when speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper over the weekend.

If CNN had a mind to, they could go find the kids of any criminal and show how the kids are impacted. The fault lies with the parents for engaging in illegal activities and putting their families at risk.