Nobody Wants a Surveillance State

Agree

A rare show of bipartisan unity broke out in Washington Wednesday as Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight Committee expressed concerns over the rapid spread of facial recognition software used by technology companies.

“I don’t want to see an authoritarian surveillance state, whether it’s run by a government or whether it’s run by five corporations,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in reference to Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook.

Assembly Republicans Agree to Waste Slightly Less Money than Evers

Ugh. Remember that throwing more tax dollars into the government school system isn’t about improving education. It’s about appeasing politicians’ egos.

Assembly Republicans say they support an education budget that would spend an additional $500 million on schools, an amount about $900 million less than Gov. Tony Evers proposed.

Evers called for a $1.4 billion increase in state spending on K-12 education, driven in large part by a $606 million increase in special education funding.

The budget unveiled Wednesday by Assembly Republicans would spend considerably less, setting aside an additional $50 million for special education over the next two years.

Republicans said that was still substantial, noting the state had not increased special education funding for more than a decade.

They also said under the Assembly GOP plan, the state would fund two-thirds of the cost of K-12 education statewide, a benchmark that was written into law in the 1990s but repealed in the 2000s.

“I don’t do cover-ups”

If I were a Democrat, I’d be pretty ticked at the stupidity of my own party. Perhaps more than any other modern president, Trump loves to make a deal and isn’t guided by an overriding ideology. The Democrats could actually isolate the Republican Senate and push some of their own initiatives through if they would actually try to work with the president. Instead, they crap all over him and don’t get anywhere.

President Donald Trump abruptly walked out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at the White House on Wednesday, telling reporters moments later that he would not negotiate on legislation with Democrats while he was still under investigation by several committees.

Wednesday’s meeting was supposed to be the second official sit-down between the president and Democratic congressional leadership specifically focused on infrastructure.

“I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure’ … but we can’t do it under these circumstances,” Trump said at a last-minute Rose Garden event.

Trump’s anger appears to have been sparked by comments Pelosi made earlier in the day when she said, “We believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up” by blocking White House aides from giving testimony and responding to document requests from ongoing congressional investigations.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump insisted Wednesday.

Downsizing

Mark Belling has a good column today about the generational decline in the birth rate and its impact on schools.

Downsizing a school district shouldn’t be difficult. You just reduce administrators, teachers and buildings in the same proportion as your enrollment declines. The problems are: The administrators don’t want to downsize themselves, the teachers are overly specialized and parents go ballistic when somebody proposes to close their kids’ school. One local district even decided to keep an elementary school open for one more year even though its enrollment is down to 50 (for the entire school!).

Districts got overbuilt when my generation’s parents were spitting out kids like rabbits (thus, the baby “boom”). Then my huge generation and the Gen Xers decided to sprawl out to the suburbs, creating need for more buildings in the Brookfields, Mequons and Burlingtons of the world. Along came the millennials and all of their idiosyncrasies, including an evident dislike of large families (or any families). What we have are massively overbuilt school systems with ridiculously bloated staffs of specialists, counselors, directors of this, that and the other thing, and in-house custodians, groundskeepers and nurses.

The only way out of this mess is to: a.) force the millennials to have kids (you can’t do that); b.) hope the incoming Generation Z kids revert back to wanting kids (unlikely); or c.) downsizing. The worst option of all is to borrow globs of money, increase your spending and put up even more buildings. That disastrous option is exactly the one most Wisconsin districts are taking.

Public information should be made public

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

One of the great things about federalism is that each state can experiment with various policy choices allowing the best and most successful ideas to be copied by other states. The state of Michigan has an excellent government transparency policy that Wisconsin should adopt forthwith.

Having just finished a lengthy public debate regarding a school referendum in the West Bend School District, one of the infuriating aspects of the debate was the incomplete, misconstrued, or missing information. The district’s officials distributed a lot of information, carefully curated and parsed, specific to the referendum, but finding general information about the district remains difficult.

Since the School Board and district were asking for gobs of additional money to spend, many voters began asking reasonable questions about the district’s finances. After all, how can a voter reasonably vote to give a government more money to spend unless they are confident that the government officials are being a good stewards of the money they already have?

For example, how much does the district spend on employee benefits? How much do they spend on maintenance for facilities? How much is spent on outof- state travel? What is actually in the teachers’ contract negotiated with the union? What is the compensation plan for teachers, staff, and administrators? How much debt is the district carrying and how are they paying it off ?

The answers to these questions and many more are available for the asking, but it takes tracking down an administrator, filing an open records request, or both. Wisconsin law requires that governments give the public information when they ask for it, but it does not require that the government make it easy. Especially with the dearth of local news outlets in many communities, this information rarely gets out.

This lack of transparency is not unique to the West Bend School District. The vast majority of Wisconsin’s local governments do a terrible job of making information readily available to the public despite the ease of modern technology that should make it easy to do so. There is nothing preventing local governments from being more transparent. It is a policy choice of each elected government body.

There are exceptions. The city of West Bend, for example, does a terrific job by posting their entire detailed budget online. They also post a detailed spending report, sorted by department, amount, and vendor, that shows everything from a $157,883.83 purchase of road salt to a $35.07 purchase for hand soap. The information is there for anybody to parse, analyze, and form judgments.

This is where Michigan comes in. For reasons not germane to this column, I recently followed the debate for a school bonding proposal (what Wisconsinites would call a school referendum) in Ludington, Mich. They were voting on whether or not to borrow and spend $101 million in a district with a $21 million annual budget. Much of the debate would have been very familiar to Wisconsinites who have been considering referendums, but in researching the district, one can go to the Ludington Area Schools’ website and find a wealth of information.

Right on their website, the school district publishes the complete operating budget, various charts showing how money is spent, each of the full collective bargaining agreements, the health care benefits plan, fiscal audits, compensation packages for employees earning over $100,000, association dues paid by the district, employee reimbursements, amounts spent on lobbying, their deficit reduction plan, the credit card policy, expenses for out-of-state travel for administrators, and other required notices. All of this information is current, detailed, and gives the public a clear view of how the district is managed.

Of course, Ludington is not unique. One can find this information on the website of any school district in Michigan because it is required by state law. Specifically, Section 18 (2) of the Public Act 94 of 1979 requires that school districts publish this information for the public to see.

Wisconsin should follow Michigan’s lead and require that local units of government publish this kind of relevant information on their websites. All of this information already exists in a digital format that could easily be distributed to the public for virtually no cost and minimal effort. This is the kind of information that voters need to be able to make rational, informed decisions about the functioning of their local governments. Come to think of it, state lawmakers should include state government in making this kind of information readily available.

An informed citizenry is required for true self-governance and transparency in government is an issue that transcends all political affiliations. State lawmakers from both political parties should support making sure that every citizen has access to as much information as possible about their governments.

Public information should be made public

My column is online and in print in the Washington County Daily News. Here’s a part of it:

This is where Michigan comes in. For reasons not germane to this column, I recently followed the debate for a school bonding proposal (what Wisconsinites would call a school referendum) in Ludington, Mich. They were voting on whether or not to borrow and spend $101 million in a district with a $21 million annual budget. Much of the debate would have been very familiar to Wisconsinites who have been considering referendums, but in researching the district, one can go to the Ludington Area Schools’ website and find a wealth of information.

Right on their website, the school district publishes the complete operating budget, various charts showing how money is spent, each of the full collective bargaining agreements, the health care benefits plan, fiscal audits, compensation packages for employees earning over $100,000, association dues paid by the district, employee reimbursements, amounts spent on lobbying, their deficit reduction plan, the credit card policy, expenses for out-of-state travel for administrators, and other required notices. All of this information is current, detailed, and gives the public a clear view of how the district is managed.

Of course, Ludington is not unique. One can find this information on the website of any school district in Michigan because it is required by state law. Specifically, Section 18 (2) of the Public Act 94 of 1979 requires that school districts publish this information for the public to see.

Wisconsin should follow Michigan’s lead and require that local units of government publish this kind of relevant information on their websites. All of this information already exists in a digital format that could easily be distributed to the public for virtually no cost and minimal effort. This is the kind of information that voters need to be able to make rational, informed decisions about the functioning of their local governments. Come to think of it, state lawmakers should include state government in making this kind of information readily available.

Drone Warning

Yikes.

‘Be cautious when purchasing [drone] technology from Chinese manufacturers as they can contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself,’ the advisory says.

The warning from U.S. DHS that’s titled ‘Chinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ warns that sensitive flight data might be sent to their manufacturers in China, where it can be accessed by the government

DJI drones at the 3rd World Intelligence Congress, one of the most important hi-tech exhibitions in China showing the latest development and innovations in Intelligence technology, was held in Tianjin from May 16 to May 19

‘Organisations that conduct operations impacting national security or the Nation’s critical functions must remain especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage and theft of proprietary information,’ the alert also adds.

Nearly 80% of the drones used in the U.S. and Canada come from DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, as reported by CNN.

Conservatives Win Majorities in Australia

Do you notice how when conservatives win the media always portrays it as a “shock” or “unexpected” or “surprise?” It is their way of continuing to portray conservatives as out of the mainstream or unnatural – as if electoral victories by conservatives are wrong. The only thing that makes it a surprise is that their polls are as biased as their reporting so the reporters didn’t see it coming.

Australia’s ruling conservative coalition is set to secure a governing majority in its shock election victory over the centre-left Labor Party, the national broadcaster ABC projected Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition will hold at least 77 seats in the 151-member lower house, one more than needed to govern on its own, ABC’s election analysts projected.

The coalition will not hold a majority in the Senate, the upper house, meaning it will need the support of independents and minor parties to pass legislation.

Evers Stokes Division with Legislature

What a stupid and easily-disprovable accusation for Evers’ mouthpiece to throw out.

BY SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ spokeswoman accused Republican legislative leaders Saturday of refusing to work with the governor’s chief of staff because she is a woman, leading the GOP lawmakers to call the charge “asinine” and “clueless.”

The back and forth came after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald detailed at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention what they said was a strained relationship with the new governor, who is in his fifth month in office. Vos called Evers “out of touch” and Fitzgerald said his office hasn’t figured out how to work with lawmakers.

“There’s a real disconnect on all different levels with this governor,” Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald said he and Vos have only met with Evers twice for five minutes since January.

Evers “has communicated repeatedly to GOP leadership that they should work with his chief of staff, just like they did under the previous governor,” said his spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. “That directive wasn’t confusing to them when the chief of staff was a man.”

Everyone who served as chief of staff under former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, was a man. Evers’ chief of staff is Maggie Gau, who ran his campaign and previously worked for Democrats in the Legislature.

“Vos and Fitzgerald are clearly uncomfortable or simply unwilling to work with a leadership team made up entirely of women,” Baldauff said.

Fitzgerald, in a statement, called the accusation “completely asinine.”

“The most powerful senator on the budget committee is a woman, and perhaps they’d know that if someone from the governor’s team was actually engaged in budget negotiations,” Fitzgerald said, referring to Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling.

Vos, in a tweet, pointed out that his chief of staff, communications director and policy director are all women.

“Evers staff – Clueless,” Vos tweeted.

Buttigieg Supports Abortion Until Birth

What an abhorrent and violent view. By the way… I may be unaware of the current state of political correctness… is a man allowed to have a position on abortion?

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that governments shouldn’t stand in the way of women who want to seek abortions in the final three months of their pregnancies.

The South Bend, Indiana mayor allowed that women who are six, seven or eight months into their pregnancies have ‘perhaps chosen a name’ or ‘purchased a crib.’

But Fox News Channel moderator Chris Wallace found no flexibility in his pro-choice stand.

‘As horrible as that choice is,’ Buttigieg said, ‘that woman – that family may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance – but that decision’s not going to be made any better medically or morally because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.’

Evil Billionaire Pays off Debt

Very, very cool.

Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith earned some stunned looks on Sunday during his commencement address at Morehouse College.

He told the graduating students he’d pay off their student debt.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country: We’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith sad.

He continued: “I’ve got the alumni over here. And this is a challenge to alumni. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Sherry Lutz remembered with Exceptional Service Award

St. Frances Cabrini recently held its academic awards ceremony and a presentation was made for the Exceptional Service Award. This year, it was presented posthumously to Sherry Lutz.

The Exceptional Service Award was created several years ago in honor of Shirley Weasler.

Shirley was a devoted mother and loving wife. She had six children who all attended school at St. Frances Cabrini. She was described by a close friend as “an angel on earth.” She was very humble and was always willing to do anything to help someone in need.

She was never judgmental, full of wisdom and grace. Shirley was truly an inspiration to anyone that knew her.

Unfortunately, Shirley unexpectedly passed away when her youngest daughter was still a student at SFC. In order to help honor her wonderful spirit and true dedication to helping others the Exceptional Service Award was created.

The person we honor today was very much like Shirley.

Sherry Lutz was always around, whether that meant coaching, running the lunch program, assisting teachers, or organizing the Christmas cookie exchange for the teachers, a tradition we carry on today in her memory. She was a loving mother and wife and she is greatly missed by family, friends and the St. Frances Cabrini community.

This morning we had a small dedication service of our Multi-Purpose room to Sherry. It was a wonderful celebration of her with the family. A plaque has been made and will be placed on the wall right by the serving area of the kitchen. A sign has been created and will hang above the serving area and will say “Sherry’s Place’ to recognize all the time she devoted to this school.

Cabrini Alumni of the Year Award winners

Students, parents, teachers and alumni gathered in the gym at St. Francis Cabrini School on Friday as academic award winners were announced. Many students were recognized for their achievements in math, robotics, penmanship and art.

There were also alumni awards presented to Mary Hafeman and Tony Koebel.

The SFC Alumni of the Year Award is an honor bestowed annually on two alumni, a male and female, who are wonderful role models for our students. These individuals have brought credit to themselves and to Cabrini through their service and accomplishments in one or more of the following area: Business or professional life, community affairs at the local, state or national level and support of and commitment to Saint Frances Cabrini Parish and School.

This award was presented for the first time at the 60th anniversary reunion and celebration to Cathy (Johnson) Spies, Class of ’71 and David Wiesner (’81). An Alumni Wall of Fame is being created near the gym, where their pictures will be displayed.

“This is a very special award for me,” said Hafeman. “I have very many special memories from St. Frances Cabrini School and along with my parent’s support, we developed a solid Christian foundation that helped us throughout our lives.  In addition, all the friendships we made continue to this day!”

Hafeman grew up next door to Cathy Spies on Orchard Street. “It’s great to follow her,” said Hafeman. “We had so much fun and competition growing up as next-door neighbors; it was a special neighborhood.  Also, our parents were founding members of Cabrini school too.”

Mary Hafeman is a professional golfer and professional golf coach. She is a long-time member of the LPGA, and she was one of the first women admitted to the PGA. In fact, she has always been a trailblazer for the sport. Shew as the first girl to win the WIAA State title in golf. She was named East’s top athlete in 1974 and is credited for her integral role in establishing the sport of girls’ golf at West Bend East.

Mary has received many honors and awards, and she is a member of the West Bend East Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Florida Athletic hall of Fame, and the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame.

She has won titles as a golfer, including the Women’s Eastern Amateur Champion, the Women’s Western Amateur Champion, and she played on the Curtis Cup team.

She is owner of Mary Hafeman Golf Experience, an internationally known golf academy, and she has been recognized and honored many times as a golf coach and teachers. She has the attitude that anyone can golf, and she enjoys teaching golfers of all ages and ability levels. Recognizing that many deals and business relationships are made on the golf course, she is especially proactive about teaching women in business to golf.

In 2016 she received the PGA’s National Player Development Award for her extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of player development. Mary was chosen from a pool of PGA Members: 28,500 mean and 800 women to win the award.

Despite this acclaim she is known for being very down-to-earth and friendly, a regular person. She is the oldest of seven children and has always been deeply committed to her family and faith.

Tony Koebel also was recognized as Alumni of the Year. Koebel is a graduate from 1993 and he was noted as “a man with many talents who is a successful entrepreneur, a skilled carpenter and best known for his generosity and big heart.”

Safe Routes to School program in West Bend

There was an old-school effort that began today to encourage kids to walk to school in West Bend. The Safe Routes to School program is a collaborative effort between Bike Friendly West Bend, Aurora Health Care, the Washington-Ozaukee Health Department, students in Concordia University Wisconsin’s nursing program, St. John’s Lutheran School and Saint Frances Cabrini School.  The fundamental goal of the project is encouraging parents and children to walk or bike to school more often, as a healthy lifestyle initiative.

Crossing guard Cliff Van Beek was working the corner at Seventh Avenue and Hawthorn. He said the crossing guards and respectful drivers make for a safe environment for children to get to school. Organizers say the goal of the program is to expand countywide, school by school, city by city. The next day for the Walking School Buses for St. John’s Lutheran is May 22 and 29.

Another bank closing a branch in West Bend

There seems to be a growing trend in West Bend as another bank is closing a branch office.

A letter dated May 3, 2019 was received by customers today, May 11, notifying them the CHASE branch at 801 W. Washington Street in West Bend would be closing as of August 1, 2019. CHASE also has a branch at 600 W. Paradise Drive.

The interesting thing about the CHASE location on Highway 33 is that it is the branch with the safe deposit boxes. The letter below indicates CHASE will release more details in the next 30 days.

Over the past few months similar changes have occurred across Washington County. In September 2018 National Exchange Bank, 2412 W. Washington Street, in West Bend closed.

In September 2017 in West Bend the Bank Mutual, 1526 S. Main Street, announced it was consolidating with Associated Bank on Paradise Drive. In March 2019 the property sold and will be the new home of Landmark Credit Union.

On a history note: Remember when the factories, West Bend Company, Amity Leather, and Enger Kress, were in West Bend and on Fridays the banks were open late because people lined up to cash/deposit their checks. At noon some tellers even noticed customers had a little beer on their breath after having a 10-cent tapper during lunch.

New principal announced at Holy Angels School in West Bend

Holy Angels School in West Bend is announcing a new principal to succeed Mike Sternig, who is retiring after 45 years at Holy Angels. His service started teaching junior high math and religion, also serving as Youth Minister, before landing his dream job in 1989 when he became principal at Holy Angels School.  A letter from Rev. Patrick Heppe about the new principal at H.A.S. is below

Dear Holy Angels School Family,

It is with great joy that I can announce that the search for the next principal has concluded and I have accepted the recommendation of the Principal Search Ad Hoc Committee. It is my pleasure to announce that Anne Weise has accepted the call to serve as principal of Holy Angels School.

I greatly appreciate the countless hours that the Principal Search Ad Hoc Committee devoted to the task. Beginning in early December, the committee has been part of a journey that resulted in the unanimous choice of Anne Weise to serve as the next principal.

Members of the committee included: Angela Bell, Peter German, Phylis Gibbon, Michele Guminski, Gary Held, Stephanie Rychtik, Michelle Spaeth, Mike Sternig, Sheila Tranel, Rachel Weber, Dave Wietor, and Peter Winkler. It is with special appreciation that I recognize the leadership that Gary Held provided throughout the process.

Here’s a little of Ms. Weise’s background and I’m sure that this community will enjoy meeting and supporting her as she leads our school…

She was born and raised in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. Ms. Weise moved to Tucson, AZ when she started high school. When injuries sidelined her in her career as a tennis pro, she attended the University of Phoenix and received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She went on to attain her MBA as well as a Master’s in Education.

Anne has been devoted to teaching since 2005. She started her teaching career while living in Tucson, AZ. She taught K5 through 3rd grade at Tucson Country Day School. She also became Assistant Principal the last two years at the school.

Anne moved back to Wisconsin in 2010. While working on her Wisconsin teaching certificate, she worked at The Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh where she was the Childcare Director. In 2012, she moved to the Milwaukee Metro. In April of 2013, she started at the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM) as a teacher. After teaching 4th grade for a year, she was promoted to the Business and Economics Curriculum Coordinator as well as the Math Curriculum Coordinator. She worked at BEAM until the school closed in 2017. At that time, she transitioned into the Milwaukee Archdiocese’s Seton Catholic Schools Network. Anne has been teaching and serving as a site administrator on duty at St. Martin of Tours Catholic School in Franklin.

She comes to Holy Angels with a strong sense of the culture of our school and a desire to bring Holy Angels to even greater achievements.    In His Peace,  Rev. Patrick E. Heppe

Spaulding Clinical awarded sunscreen research contract from US FDA

Spaulding Clinical Research, the contract research organization tapped by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a study on the absorption of active ingredients in sunscreen into the bloodstream, announced it is now available to design and execute Maximum Usage Trials (MUsTs) for sunscreen and sunscreen-containing products.

The company, which has conducted numerous MUsTs for the pharmaceutical industry, collaborated with the FDA on the design and execution of the sunscreen trial that helped confirm the long-held suspicion about absorption. It has set up a website, www.keepsunscreensafe.com, to provide an overview of the trial, access to the report published in the May 6 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), as well as details on its innovative, industry-leading research services and contact information for companies interested in testing their products.

The City of West Bend to be featured on Discover Wisconsin

The film crew, including show co-host Mariah Haberman, will start filming on Tuesday, May 14.  “Typically, what we do is film one, half-hour show over the next several months,” said Haberman. “The show won’t actually air until Spring 2020.”

Haberman has been with Discover Wisconsin for six seasons. She said the normal format is to produce a show over a one-year time span. “This year we’re doing 25 shows,” she said.

Discover Wisconsin is known as the “longest-running tourism TV show in the country.”

“The idea behind the show is to move the needle in these local economies across Wisconsin,” Haberman said. “The idea for this episode is for people to learn about West Bend and then go online and book a trip and spend money at the local businesses.”

It started in 1987 and is in its 32nd season. “We do a smattering of different things,” said Haberman. “For the West Bend episode, we are going to be at a restaurant to start.”

Discover Wisconsin has filmed episodes in Hartford and neighboring Dodge County. There was one segment on motorcycling the back roads and that ran through the Kettle Moraine in Washington County.

Normally Discover Wisconsin brings a crew of about four people to each video shoot.

“One thing I try to talk to the leaders of tourism about is finding its uniqueness,” said Haberman. “We really work to find what makes them stand out. We try to cover iconic things or hidden gems in the community. We want to surprise our viewers in a positive way.”

Most episodes, according to Haberman, will include six to eight visits from the show.

Discover Wisconsin airs in eight states across the Upper Midwest.  “We reach 11.5 million homes and have a loyal viewership of 600,000,” Haberman said.

On a side note: At 31 years old, Haberman grew up south of Madison. She said the thing she knows about West Bend is it’s a “thriving Milwaukee suburb.”

What would you suggest Haberman focus on during her trip to West Bend.  “It’s going to be exciting for me to see a city like this for the first time,” she said. “I’m prepared to be surprised.”

Shopko Optical has found a new home in West Bend

It was January 2019 when neighbors in West Bend learned about the fate of Shopko. The retail chain filed bankruptcy, however Shopko noted “All Optical locations below will remain open to serve you during store closing. Your Optical center will be relocated very soon to a new location with the same patient care you have come to expect from your Shopko Optical center.”

A freestanding Shopko Optical will open in the coming months in the strip center to the south of Pick ‘n Save, just to the south of SportClips in the 1700 block of S. Main Street.

More details were posted in a press release from Shopko: In order to position the Company for future success, Shopko has announced it will be closing an additional 38 stores, relocating over 20 Optical centers to freestanding locations, and conducting an auction process for its pharmacy business. Throughout this process, all Shopko Optical centers and pharmacies remain open and continue to deliver the high-quality products and services to which its customers are accustomed. All other stores remain open as the Company continues to optimize its store footprint.

Additionally, encouraged by the performance of the four freestanding Optical centers that were opened in 2018, Shopko plans to continue to grow its optical business by opening additional freestanding Optical locations during 2019.

Academic awards at Kettle Moraine Lutheran H.S. in Jackson     By Megan Himm

As the 2018-2019 school year comes to a close, Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School (KML) in Jackson is taking time to recognize the many talented students who walk the halls and fill the classrooms.

Recognition week has a strong focus on the senior class, as well as any others who greatly excel. Each day after chapel, from May 13 through May 17, KML will focus on one academic and athletic aspect and recognize those who have made great contributions.

The class of 2019-Valedictorian, Salutatorian, Academic Leader Awards, Honors and High Honors students were all announced and brought up on stage. Students were given certificates for honor roll, and medals for valedictorians and the salutatorian.

Valedictorians: Amy Deibert, Ariana Miller, Katharine Molkentin, Erica Zeamer

Salutatorian: Joshua Hennen

Academic Leader Awards: Amy Deibert, Ariana Miller, Katharine Molkentin, Erica Zeamer, Joshua Hennen, Molly Krajcik, Jayden Koehler, Rebecca Loescher, Kiley Huckstorf, Mitchell Boline

High Honors (3.6 – 4.0): Amy Deibert, Ariana Miller, Katharine Molkentin, Erica Zeamer, Joshua Hennen, Molly Krajcik, Jayden Koehler, Rebecca Loescher, Kiley Huckstorf, Mitchell Boline, Jayme Soderbeck, Jake Stiemke, Abigail Washburn, Emma Herriges, Amber Heider, Jamie Maas, Megan Sina, Rebecca Vandermus, Carissa Egelseer, Yao Cheng, Elizabeth Bieberitz, Kaitlyn Scherf, Logan Mueller, Andrea Busalacchi, Miriam Helwig, Olivia Schaewe, Benjamin Adams, Melinda Weber, Veronica Fellenz, Maria Zimmerman, Cooper Knoll, Keyi Zou, Daniel Cain, Megan Parbs, Ryan Mantz, Evan Theis, Grace Loeffler, Jared Metz, Amelia Bock Jenna Jahnke, Elaina Guse

Honors (3.3-3.59): Jacob Byhardt, Yue You, Elijah Natzke Isabella Erdman, Courtney Gerboth, Caleb Martens, Ryan Theis, Madison Aubry, Jacob Schmandt, Clara Kugler, Justin Ninmann, Benjamin Washburn, Benjamin Polheber Preston Barrett, Jiahui Jin, Ashlyn Bartz, Amanda Nank

Dr. Mary Lewis honored with St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Excellence in Medicine Award | By Tim Olsen

Dr. Mary Lewis, Emergency Department medical director at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital, has been honored with the sixth annual Excellence in Medicine Award from St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Dr. Lewis was selected for her leadership; excellence in medical care; teaching and mentoring; collaboration; boards, committees and organizations she has served; community involvement; and overall legacy she has established at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“Dr. Lewis was one of the first women in the state of Wisconsin to become a director of an emergency department and she has proudly and capably held that position for 27+ years,” said her nominator, Joseph Schwartz, MD, emergency medicine physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“In the past 27 years, Dr. Lewis has been a steady constant, demonstrating excellence in medical care and excellence in leadership as this hospital progressed from an independent hospital to becoming part of Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin network. I first met Dr. Lewis in 1988 when I was a medical student in Milwaukee and she was a resident on the trauma surgery service. Even at that early time, she demonstrated superior leadership skills and was quick to assist those around her with a true team spirit.”

Updates & tidbits

– Welcome Judge Christine Ohlis to Mid-Moraine. This month representatives for the Mid-Moraine Municipal Court system selected Attorney Christine Ohlis of West Bend to serve as the new judge. Ohlis will serve as judge replacing Steve Cain who was elected to the seat in April,

– The Knights of Columbus are sponsoring Dad’s Day 2019.  The event is June 15 at St. Mary’s Parish in Barton.  There will be inflatable activities, including a Bounce House with slide, food and games including a Wiffle Ball tournament. There is a $10 registration fee that will include a T-shirt, all the food- (hot dogs, hamburger, chips, and drink), and access to all the games and activities. Dad’s Day will run from noon – 4 p.m. with a Mass at 4 p.m.

– Mai Fest is coming to Friedenfeld Park in Germantown on May 17, 18 and 19. There will be fantastic beers, fabulous music and dancing and good old-fashioned fun.

After clinching the 2019 Wisconsin Collegiate Conference state championship in tennis, coaches Roger Peterson and Debbie Butschlick from UWM at Washington County were honored with the conference Coach of the Year award. This is the fourth such award for Peterson and fifth for Butschlick. The pair have coached the men’s and women’s tennis teams at the UWM at Washington County campus since 1992. This was the second consecutive year the tennis team took home the top state award.

Newburg in Chaos

Small town drama is the best drama.

NEWBURG — Two of the village’s top unelected officials here resigned abruptly on Thursday.

Rick Goeckner, Newburg’s administrator and clerk, and Chrissie Brynwood, the treasurer and deputy clerk, stepped down this week, leaving Village Board members here trying to fill a pair of key government posts as quickly as possible.

“It has become apparent that my ideas as to the future of Newburg do not align with the current Village Board leadership,” Goeckner wrote in a letter addressed to board members and read aloud at an impromptu board meeting Thursday night. “It has been my true pleasure serving Newburg these past six years. With that said, I am giving notice of my resignation, effective immediately. I wish every one of the residents of Newburg well.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I, Christin Brynwood, ask you to accept my letter of resignation as of this May 16, 2019,” Brynwood wrote to the board in her own letter, which was also read publicly.

A sign on the Village Hall’s front door Thursday said Newburg’s government center was closed “until further notice,” and board members gathered on short notice to discuss filling the two jobs.

[…]

The resignations follow months of upheaval in Newburg. Rena Chesak, Newburg’s recently installed village president, was censured by a local ethics commission last month after she’d been accused of violating village policy while serving as a village trustee last year.

Specifically, she’d been accused of taking part in discussions regarding a contract renewal with the local fire department where her husband is chief. Chesak has said she never voted on the matter, but Newburg ethics officials agreed she’d gone too far by even discussing it.

Wisconsin Unemployment Drops to 2.8%

Seriously. With 2.8% unemployment and thousands of jobs that employers can’t fill, why is anyone on our welfare roles?

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of April. The data showed that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate declined to a new record low of 2.8 percent. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate remained at 67.5 percent in April.

O’Rourke Flails

What do you do if your candidate is a vapid mimbo and the entire campaign is based on people connecting with him “as a person?” You do stupid stuff like this.

Democratic Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke was ridiculed on social media for live-streaming a ‘weird’ 20-minute video showing him getting a haircut during a campaign stop in Texas.

The former Texas congressman, 46, made a stop at Chema’s Barber Shop in El Paso as an assistant live-streamed footage of him in a barber’s chair as indulged in some personal grooming.

And what came next made for awkward viewing as he made chitchat with the barber in Spanish and had to introO’roduce himself to another customer who failed to recognize him.

His latest attempt at branding himself as a man of the people came just one day after claiming he regretted launching his 2020 election campaign on the cover of Vanity Fair, and said the move reinforced his ‘privilege.’

Massive State Surplus

How about y’all give it back instead of spending it?

MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) — $753 million more than anticipated: that’s what Wisconsin’s legislative fiscal bureau announced Wednesday as extra funding for the next biannual budget.

But Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue (DOR) Secretary Peter Barca tells NewsChannel 7 that extra money may not be quite what it seems.

On Tuesday, the Department of Revenue released a statement showing a sharp increase of revenue coming in from corporate tax collections compared to 2018, which Barca says largely contributed to that extra $753 million.

Republican Introduces Bill to Prevent Lunch Responsibility

No.

MADISON, Wis. – A state lawmaker says his new proposal aims to cut down on what’s being called “lunch shaming.”

Rep. Gary Tauchen introduced a bipartisan bill that would require schools to provide a school lunch or breakfast to a student who requests a meal and would prohibit schools from taking certain actions against students who are unable to pay for meals.

“If you’re hungry, you’re just not in the mood to learn. You’re just wondering where your next meal is coming from,” said Tauchen, a Republican from Bonduel.

Lunch shaming is a practice making news around the country, where there have been instances of schools taking away lunch trays from students or providing them with less nutritious alternative meals if their meal accounts have negative balance.

1. This is not a state issue

2. It is the responsibility of parents or guardians to make sure their kids are fed. There are abundant government programs and charities to help them if they can’t afford it. All this will do is encourage more deadbeats because there won’t be any consequences for not paying.

3. Perhaps if a kid felt a little shame for eating on their neighbor’s dime, they might use that shame to better themselves so that they don’t have to accept handouts to feed their own kids. Shame is a powerful motivator for successful people.

Baby Bust

This is an important trend to watch as we think about entitlement programs, education infrastructure, etc.

America’s baby bust isn’t over. The nation’s birth rates last year reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, a government report shows, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

The provisional report, released Wednesday and based on more than 99% of U.S. birth records, found 3.788 million births last year. It was the fourth year the number of births has fallen, the lowest since 1986 and a surprise to some experts given the improving economy.

The fertility rate of 1.7 births per U.S. woman also fell 2%, meaning the current generation isn’t making enough babies to replace itself. The fertility rate is a hypothetical estimate based on lifetime projections of age-specific birth rates.

 

Barnes’ Insecurity

Just think of all of the venom, threats, and hate that Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch went through and she still used a tiny fraction of the security Barnes is using. Looks like good ol’ Becky is much tougher than Barnes.

On one day in February, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes drove to Kenosha, attended a Black History Month event at a school and had lunch in Racine before heading back to Milwaukee, where he started the day.

There, he had a call with the president of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and by 5 p.m. was headed to dinner at the Mexican restaurant Cielito Lindo.

That day, taxpayers also picked up the tab for the State Patrol to put in 36 hours protecting him — the equivalent of three officers each working 12-hour shifts, according to a WisPolitics.com review.

It was part of a pattern for Barnes over just his first two months in office. The review found the state’s Dignitary Protection Unit put in nine times as many hours providing him protection as it did his predecessor during her final full year on the job.

Wisconsin’s Legislature begins serious budget work

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

When Gov. Tony Evers released his executive budget proposal at the beginning of March, Republican leaders in the Legislature immediately dismissed it as an unserious liberal manifesto — which is precisely what it is. Last week, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began the serious work of crafting a budget for Wisconsin. Their first step was to toss most of Evers’ silly budget in the trash and start from scratch. Despite Evers’ bravado, the Republicans have a strong hand to play and are on the right side of public opinion.

In a time of divided government, it is worth remembering the relevant powers of each branch of government. The legislative branch has the power to create legislation and the power over where to spend tax dollars. The executive branch has the power over administrative rules (filling in the gaps to execute laws) and the power to veto legislation which the governor disapproves.

Governor Evers has already shown that he is not shy about using his veto power. In fact, he vetoed the middle-class tax cut, which was the very first bill to reach his desk. But while Evers can veto things he does not like, he does not have the power to create laws that he wants. To get a law that he wants to his desk, Evers must be willing to negotiate and compromise with Republicans, but Evers has shown that he has little aptitude or appetite to deal.

This delineation of powers is relevant to the actions taken by the JFC last week. The committee scrapped almost all of Evers’ non-budgetary policy initiatives including expanding Medicaid, legalizing medical marijuana, capping school choice, increasing the minimum wage, granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, repealing right-to-work, closing the dark store loophole, ending the property tax levy freeze for counties and municipalities, and dozens of additional initiatives that never belonged in the budget.

What is left are mostly just the nuts and bolts of funding Wisconsin’s state government, which what the budget is supposed to do. As the legislative Republicans go about assembling those nuts and bolts, recent polls show that a majority of Wisconsinites support conservative legislative goals.

For example, in a recent poll of likely voters conducted for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a state business group, found that 60% of likely voters oppose raising property taxes on businesses and 53% oppose raising the gas tax. Some 77% oppose raising taxes on manufacturing, And 69% oppose eliminating the property tax levy freeze, and 77% oppose raising energy taxes. Up to 83% oppose indexing gas taxes and 63% oppose eliminating drug testing for welfare recipients.

All of those things that Wisconsinites oppose were things that Governor Evers included in his budget proposal and the Republican threw out — except for the gas tax increase. Republicans should take note of that. They are on the right side of these issues except for some of the Republican leadership’s maddening affection for raising the gas tax.

Over the next few weeks, the Republican-led Legislature is going to hash out a budget and send it to Governor Evers for his signature. Governor Evers has arguably the most sweeping veto power in the nation with the ability to strike out words and sentences to make the budget more to his liking, or he could veto the whole thing. What he cannot do is write new language into the law. That is the exclusive prerogative of the Legislature.

What Governor Evers decides to do with the budget will determine how likely he is going to be able to get any of his agenda done for the rest of his term. If he uses his veto pen to strike out every Republican initiative he can, then those same Republicans are unlikely to every put a bill that Evers wants on his desk. If he accepts some compromise, then some of the ideas stricken from his budget proposal may see life again in a separate bill.

In the end, the Legislature holds an ace. Wisconsin will not shut down if Evers vetoes the entire budget and the state enters the new fiscal year without a new budget. By law, the old budget that was passed by many of the same legislative Republicans and signed by Gov. Scott Walker will continue in force. From a conservative perspective, a new fiscal year with no spending increases and no tax increases sounds pretty great.