Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Hey, I made the ATB!

Update on refurbishing West Bend Theatre sign

It felt similar to visiting an old friend in the hospital. The good thing to note is the historic West Bend Theatre sign is in good hands.

This week Cindy Wendland at Poblocki Sign Company in West Allis opened its workshop for a look at the progress being made on the historic West Bend Theatre sign.

Project manager Mike Carter gave an update on how metal reinforcements have been added, wiring stripped and holes patched.  “Essentially we’re refurbishing the entire sign,” said Carter. “We’ve torn out the electrical and we’re replacing it with high-efficiency LED bulbs and the structure that holds the sign is being rebuilt because of the age of it.”

The iconic theatre, 125 S. Main Street, dates to 1929.

The new frame for the sign, which includes a series of metal cross braces, was resting on saw horses at the foot of the vintage marquee.

“This will essentially attach to the back,” said Carter. “The framing had deteriorated and needed to be replaced.”

Carter indicated although the sign was weathered it was extremely well built.  “It’s an interesting construction. They don’t make them like this anymore,” he said.

The points of weakness where the sign attached to the metal braces on the theatre building also had to be reinforced.

Veteran journeyman Bob Poblocki has spent 38 years in the sign business. During a conversation with his uncle he found out his grandfather, who started Poblocki Sign Company LLC, actually worked for the company that originally built the West Bend Theatre sign.

“The sign used to have old incandescence bulbs,” said Poblocki. “We’ll come in with new drivers and LED bulbs.  It will look like the old bulbs but they will be high efficiency.”

After a bit of a review regarding rust and repair the conversation went a bit Jurassic Park with some Indiana Jones flare.

“There was a lot of spiders in the wiring; big ones,” said Poblocki. “We found some hornets nests… petrified ones, like they had been there for decades.”

The new sign will return its ability for chase lighting.  “It’s where they wire every fourth bulb in a series and it will do that again,” said Poblocki. Chase lighting is an illusion where lights give the appearance of “moving along on a string.”

Coming up in the next couple of weeks the paint will be matched, the sign sandblasted and painted, electronics reinstalled and the I-beams coming off the theatre wall on S. Main Street will be inspected.

Poblocki said the I-beams coming off the theatre building will be inspected and the canopy will be stripped as Poblocki Sign Company puts new sides on the face along with new lighting.

“Our current plans to reinstall are now looking at April but it depends on the theatre plans,” said Carter.

Xpressions Yarn, Bead, & Gift Boutique in West Bend is moving

Xpressions Yarn, Bead, & Gift Boutique, 264 N. Main Street, in downtown West Bend is relocating. “I’m moving to the WB Mercantile, 258 N. Main, right down the street,” said owner Andrea Gundrum Cybell.

“It was a blessing in disguise and I’m really excited as are they.”

The move will take place from March 5 – 15. This will be Gundrum Cybell’s third move. For about 10 years she was in Barton at 1779 Barton Avenue and then seven years at current location.

The move was prompted after a sale of the store fell through in 2017.

“I love my business and my accountant advised we not close but downsize and look for a smaller location,” she said. “The space at WB Mercantile came up with Jeremy and Brandy and now I’m reinvigorated and this is going to work out so well for everyone.”

Gundrum Cybell said she will be offering new classes and carrying some new products including Door County wine.

Headliners announced for two nights at Washington County Fair

Washington County Fair officially announced two nights of headline entertainment for the West Bend Mutual Insurance Silver Lining Amphitheater.

Kicking off three nights of National Entertainment on Thursday, July 25, will be Dylan Scott.

With his romantic, PLATINUM certified No. 1 hit “My Girl,” and GOLD-certified Top 5 smash “Hooked,” Scott has transformed real-life experience into chart-topping success.  .

Opening for Scott is Mitchell Tenpenny whose first single and No. 1 hit “Drunk Me” was named one of the New York Times best songs of 2018. The other Special Guest, Travis Denning just released his debut single “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” and when not touring is working on recording his debut album.

Rocking the Amphitheater on Friday, July 26, will be Stone Temple Pilots. The Opening Band will be announced at a later date.

VIP Reserved tickets for the Stone Temple Pilots show will go on sale for AIS Members on Monday, February 18 at 9 a.m. and to the public on Friday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.wcfairpark.com/fair/vip-concert-tickets/ or at the Fair Park Office Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $25-$35 and include admission to the Fair.

New luxury apartments in Slinger nearly complete                      By Olivia Wills

Construction is underway for the next phase of Ridgeview Terrace, a luxury-rental community located off Highway 60 and a quarter-mile east of I41 in Slinger, WI.

Each new apartment home features a one-car attached garage, private entry, granite countertops, plank flooring, in-unit washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances, central air, gas furnace, and private patio.

There are 9-foot ceilings in second-story units and a pet-friendly environment. Apartments should be ready for occupancy in May 2019. Ridgeview Terrace will be the fifth rental community developed and managed by Dittmar Realty, Inc. in Washington County.

Washington County Unveils New Logo

Washington County officially unveiled its new logo today during a ceremony at the Old Courthouse.

According to the county, “The logo includes a picturesque Washington County horizon with the sun.  Most recognize the iconic, rolling Kettle Moraine hills within the brand. The slogan, “Discover. Connect. Prosper.” strives to tie the community together by discovering the county’s natural beauty and rich heritage, connecting with each other, and prospering together with a strong business-and-education climate.”

Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said this will help the county in a number of ways.  “The most important thing is that logo and brand. It’ll help Washington County in the future and bring people to Washington County such as tourists and new home owners.”

The county started with about 20 designs and then trimmed it to three. “We ultimately refined it and the County Board unanimously approved the design,” he said.

Washington County Board chairman Don Kriefall said the logo helps provide “an identity,”

“Even though we’re not the biggest county in Wisconsin, we’re the most innovative county in Wisconsin,” Kriefall said.

Now… do you remember what the old logo looked like? How about the explanation behind the old design? “It was unveiled while Doug Johnson was the administrative coordinator,” said former County Board Chairman Ken Miller. “It dates to 1997-98. It was supposedly a sunrise and the hills to designate the Kettle Moraine and the cursive letter W as an outstanding letter representing the county.” Miller said he thought “the county always needed a logo.”

“I also thought the county needed a flag…. but I never got that far,” he said.

Thanks to West Bend Police for protecting our community

A note of thanks to West Bend Police for keeping the community safe following a brief standoff Thursday, Feb. 14 at a duplex, 108 S. Seventh Avenue. The incident began around 11:30 a.m. with a two-vehicle accident at Seventh Avenue and Walnut Street. Police said one man walked away from the accident and into a home. Following the one-hour standoff one person taken into custody just after 1 p.m. The 31-year-old West Bend man was taken into custody and booked on a number of charges including hit and run causing injury, obstructing and outstanding warrants for violating parole.

Updates & Tidbits

– Kyle Loehr and Genna Alexander are the latest recipients of the J.O. Reigle Scholarships awarded annually by Regal Ware.

-Urban Vantage, 128 Wisconsin Street, is offering a rent special of ½ month free if a person rents during the month of February 2019. Contact 262-353-9732.

– Women’s Morning of Reflection is Saturday, Feb. 23 at St. Frances Cabrini. Starting with Mass at 8 a.m.

Guest Editorial | Pushing Liberalism in West Bend High Schools | By Owen Robinson

At West Bend High School, there is a required, one semester class called “U.S. Government and Law.” The course overview says:

In this course, students will experience how the wheels of government and justice work at the local, state, and federal level. Student activities and hands-on experiences will be emphasized to demonstrate how “We the People” are affected by and function within our government and law. Students electing to take Advanced Placement U.S. History have the option of taking this course in grades 10,11, or 12.

Good, right? I would argue that part of the reason for public education is to equip people to be active participants in our civic society, so this kind of education is good. One semester seems entirely inadequate, but at least it will provide kids with a rudimentary understanding of the levels of government, how legislation works, how the legal system works, etc., right?

Wrong. With one precious semester to teach kids about their government, the teachers at West Bend High Schools are using it as an opportunity to advocate liberalism to the impressionable teenagers under their care.

Here is a description from Esquire, of all places, of what happens in class:

The class recently took a political-opinion poll that places students on a forty-four-point spectrum from Conservative Reactionary (22C) to Liberal Radical (22L). About two thirds of the class were moderate to liberal, falling between 1L and 22L. Ryan says a few kids landed at the extremes: one “conservative radical,” a boy, and three “liberal extremists,” all girls.

Mr. Inkmann then has the students sing two songs written by another West Bend teacher. “The Liberal Song” is set to the tune of “Ode to Joy.” Mr. Inkmann offers to sing first before everyone joins in. “If I were a liberal, liberal, life would be so very great,” the lyrics read, “knowing that in liberal land this other man could marry me.” The students flip through their political-spectrum packets to follow along. One kid snaps his fingers, rocking out. “The Conservative Song,” set to the tune of “Beer Barrel Polka,” includes lines like “I hate social programs, they really make me want to puke / I would rather use the money for a two-ton nuke” and “Welfare is not good, before we had it, people tried / And I hope the biggest criminals are electrified!”

Yes, you’re reading that right. Here are the songs written by the other teacher:

The Liberal Song  Created in 2005 by Mr. Kieser  All Rights Reserved  Tune: Ode to Joy

If I were a liberal liberal, life would be so very grand.

I’d find someone I really loved and take that person by the hand.

   I would be so very happy, happy as a man could be.

   Knowing that in liberal land this other man could marry me.

If I were a liberal liberal, life would be so very great.

Wouldn’t ever need to work lots of free food found on my plate.

   I would never have to fear that to me harm ever’d be done.

   Knowing that in liberal land no one could ever own a gun.

If I were a liberal liberal, my friends and I would have it made.

Anti-nukes and the pro-choicers we’d protest in a big parade.

   We’d end pollution it’s so harmful, very harmful one can see.

   Come with me to liberal land we’ll all join hands then hug a tree.

 

The Conservative Song Created in 2005 by Mr. Kieser  Tune: Beer Barrel Polka

I’m conservative so listen up closely my son.

I never go out without my loaded shotgun.

  I hate social programs they really make me want to puke.

  I would rather use the money for a two-ton nuke.

I’m conservative so listen to what I have to say.

I think school children should say the Pledge  ‘Allegiance and should pray.

  I dislike high taxes and business regulations are obscene.

  I think women should stay home, pro-create, cook, and clean.

I’m conservative and I’m near the end of my little song.

But did I tell you, I hate gay-marriage and abortion’s wrong?

  And welfare is not good, before we had it people tried.

  And I hope the biggest criminals are electrified!

You can see the difference in the language. The liberal song is positive and uses words and phrases like “loved,” “happy,” “pro-choice,” “protest in a big parade,” “end pollution,” etc. The conservative song is negative and uses words like, “hate,” “women should stay home, pro-create, cook,” “hate gay marriage,” want to puke,” etc. This is a liberal’s caricature of conservatism. It’s a straw man that the teachers then spend the rest of class tearing down. It is not even close to an accurate description of modern conservative philosophy.

This is not isolated. I’m told that in Mr. Kieser’s class, the teacher who wrote the lyrics, it is much the same. The first few weeks of the semester have been spent having kids identify their stances on political issues and then the teacher will spend oodles of time “explaining” to the kids how the liberal positions are the better positions – without outright saying it, of course. The message to the kids is clear, however, if you hold conservative views, you are a violent heartless bigot.

This is not a rogue teacher. This is part of the planned course of study.

There are two outrages here. First, the obvious outrage that the lefty teachers are abusing their positions of authority to push their lefty views on kids. Second, they are wasting educational time on this junk instead of using it to teach the kids about their government and legal system.

It would be easy to fill four years of civics classes with just the mechanics of government and law – without even getting into political philosophies. And yet West Bend is choosing to fill class time with this and leave the kids ignorant about everything except the basics of our government and legal systems. Curriculum is about choices and the West Bend schools are choosing to advance liberalism with the scarce classroom time allotted to them.

Owen Robinson is a local blogger. You can find him at Boots&Sabers.com

 
Disclaimer: Opinions and letters published in http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com are not necessarily the views of the Editor, or Publisher. The http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com reserves the right to edit or omit copy, in accordance with newspaper policies. Letters to the Editor must be attributed with a name, address and contact phone number – names and town of origin will be printed, or may be withheld at the Editor’s discretion. During the course of any election campaign, letters to the editor dealing with election issues or similar material must contain the author’s name and street address (not PO Box) for publication.

Find local news for free 7 days a week at WashingtonCountyInsider.com

On WISN @ 1705

I’ll be on the Mark Belling show this afternoon on AM1130 at 1705 with guest host Dave Michaels to discuss my story about West Bend teachers pushing their liberal ideology on kids.

Tune in!

Rep. Grothman Voted Against Funding Deal

I’m with Glenn. This is a bad deal. My rep, Congressman Sensenbrenner, also voted “no.”

“Due to the short amount of time we had to read the bill, it would be impossible to know all of the provisions within it. New, bad provisions seem to be uncovered every hour. I can confidently say, knowing what I already do, I cannot, in good conscience, vote for such a bill. I am aware that this bill is a compromise and I can’t expect all I want, but this is ridiculous.

While most public attention will focus on immigration provisions, that is actually a small section of the bill. One of my main concerns is that this bill spends too much money. America just exceeded $22 trillion in debt and we are borrowing about 22 percent of our budget. President Trump tried to bring some fiscal discipline to Congress, but they decided to spend 19 percent more than what the President proposed in this bill and overall two percent more than last year.

Since we must secure our border, one would hope this portion of the bill would make up for the spending described above. Actually, it makes things worse. According to President Trump’s border patrol expert, we need a minimum of $8 billion to build a wall that will make a meaningful, positive impact. The Democrats initially proposed $1.6 billion for wall funding and actually reduced that amount in the final draft of this bill to just under $1.4 billion. There are also provisions allowing local units of government along the border to drag out the process of building a wall.

Worst of all, gang members and criminals can stay in the U.S. if they find a child, any child, to accompany them. How immoral. I voted no because this is not a compromise, it’s a surrender.”

States Consider Colluding Against Corporate Handouts

Interesting.

This, as the End Corporate Welfare Act is circulating in several states, including New York. The bill would essentially call a cease-fire on awarding tax incentives to certain companies by creating an interstate compact of states that agree to end the practice.

New York’s bill is being sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Kim and state Sen. Julia Salazar, who have criticized the state’s deal with Amazon for months. “We are definitely glad our organizing has paid off,” says Michael Carter, a spokesman for Salazar. “This is not the first [corporate welfare] deal and it certainly won’t be last. But maybe now companies will think twice about pursuing one of these deals in the state of New York.”

A similar version to New York’s bill is also making its way through the Arizona and Illinois legislatures, while lawmakers in other states, including Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are considering introducing such legislation.

From a philosophical standpoint, I get it. It is frustrating that some businesses shop their stuff around looking for the best corporate handout. The problem is that it will never work. With 50 states and hundreds of cities, it only takes one to cave to break the cartel. Plus, with business increasingly global, there is no way that we can prevent other nations from incenting businesses to locate there.

Amazon Changes Mind About New York

Wow. Wisconsin should take note. Big, global businesses can locate anywhere. *cough* Foxconn *cough*

New York (CNN Business)Amazon is ditching its plans to build a new headquarters in New York after facing backlash from members of the community.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” Jodi Seth, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement.

In the statement, Amazon noted that “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

Amazon selected New York City and Northern Virginia in November to split duty as its second headquarters (nicknamed HQ2) after a year-long search. Each city was expected to have more than 25,000 workers over time.

At least Queens won’t be gentrified with all of those good jobs and better standard of living.

 

Pushing Liberalism in West Bend High Schools

At West Bend High School, there is a required, one semester class called “U.S. Government and Law.” The course overview says:

In this course, students will experience how the wheels of government and justice work at the local, state, and federal level. Student activities and hands-on experiences will be emphasized to demonstrate how “We the People” are affected by and function within our government and law. Students electing to take Advanced Placement U.S. History have the option of taking this course in grades 10,11, or 12.

Good, right? I would argue that part of the reason for public education is to equip people to be active participants in our civic society, so this kind of education is good. One semester seems entirely inadequate, but at least it will provide kids with a rudimentary understanding of the levels of government, how legislation works, how the legal system works, etc., right?

Wrong. With one precious semester to teach kids about their government, the teachers at West Bend High Schools are using it as an opportunity to advocate liberalism to the impressionable teenagers under their care.

Here is a description from Esquire, of all places, of what happens in class:

The class recently took a political-opinion poll that places students on a forty-four-point spectrum from Conservative Reactionary (22C) to Liberal Radical (22L). About two thirds of the class were moderate to liberal, falling between 1L and 22L. Ryan says a few kids landed at the extremes: one “conservative radical,” a boy, and three “liberal extremists,” all girls.

[…]

Mr. Inkmann then has the students sing two songs written by another West Bend teacher. “The Liberal Song” is set to the tune of “Ode to Joy.” Mr. Inkmann offers to sing first before everyone joins in. “If I were a liberal, liberal, life would be so very great,” the lyrics read, “knowing that in liberal land this other man could marry me.” The students flip through their political-spectrum packets to follow along. One kid snaps his fingers, rocking out. “The Conservative Song,” set to the tune of “Beer Barrel Polka,” includes lines like “I hate social programs, they really make me want to puke / I would rather use the money for a two-ton nuke” and “Welfare is not good, before we had it, people tried / And I hope the biggest criminals are electrified!”

Yes, you’re reading that right. Here are the songs written by the other teacher:

You can see the difference in the language. The liberal song is positive and uses words and phrases like “loved,” “happy,” “pro-choice,” “protest in a big parade,” “end pollution,” etc. The conservative song is negative and uses words like, “hate,” “women should stay home, pro-create, cook,” “hate gay marriage,” want to puke,” etc. This is a liberal’s caricature of conservatism. It’s a straw man that the teachers then spend the rest of class tearing down. It is not even close to an accurate description of modern conservative philosophy.

This is not isolated. I’m told that in Mr. Kieser’s class, the teacher who wrote the lyrics, it is much the same. The first few weeks of the semester have been spent having kids identify their stances on political issues and then the teacher will spend oodles of time “explaining” to the kids how the liberal positions are the better positions – without outright saying it, of course. The message to the kids is clear, however, if you hold conservative views, you are a violent heartless bigot.

This is not a rogue teacher. This is part of the planned course of study.

There are two outrages here. First, the obvious outrage that the lefty teachers are abusing their positions of authority to push their lefty views on kids. Second, they are wasting educational time on this junk instead of using it to teach the kids about their government and legal system.

It would be easy to fill four years of civics classes with just the mechanics of government and law – without even getting into political philosophies. And yet West Bend is choosing to fill class time with this and leave the kids ignorant about everything except the basics of our government and legal systems. Curriculum is about choices and the West Bend schools are choosing to advance liberalism with the scarce classroom time allotted to them.

Britain Considers Allowing Jihadist to Move In

Britain should find a way to deny her. They have enough jihadists in their midst without allowing one to return home and raise more. Oh, and remember that there are a lot more like her – unrepentant jihadists – in those refugee camps.

One of three schoolgirls who left east London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group says she has no regrets, but wants to return to the UK.

In an interview with the Times, Shamima Begum, now 19, talked about seeing “beheaded heads” in bins – but said that it “did not faze her”.

Speaking from a refugee camp in Syria, she said she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home for her baby.

She said she’d had two other children who had both died.

[…]

Shamima Begum was legally a child when she pinned her colours to the Islamic State mast. And if she were still under 18 years old, the government would have a duty to take her and her unborn child’s “best interests” into account in deciding what to do next.

But she’s now an apparently unrepentant adult – and that means she would have to account for her decisions, even if her journey is a story of grooming and abuse.

Another British jihadi bride, Tareena Shakil, who got out of the war zone with her child, lied to the security services on her return and was jailed for membership of a terrorist group.

Evers Promises Another Spending Increase

Boy, they sure are adding up. So far, Evers hasn’t met a spending increase he doesn’t like.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he will “fully fund” a tuition freeze for University of Wisconsin students in his first budget.

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers first froze tuition for in-state undergraduate students in 2013. They continued the freeze in every budget since.

Speaking at the annual Superior Days gathering in Madison, Evers hinted that he would propose a tuition freeze of his own.

“We will be releasing our budget soon and we will be funding the tuition freeze,” Evers said. “We will be sure that all the campuses across the state are thriving.”

State should refund tax surplus to the middle class

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

The state of Wisconsin has a problem. Thanks to the manufacturing renaissance, economic boom, and record employment fostered by the Republican policies of the previous eight years, tax revenue has been cascading into Madison at record levels. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, this will leave an estimated budget surplus of over $600 million in state government coffers at the end of the current fiscal year.

In a perfect world, the government would do one, or both, of two things with a budget surplus. They would either give the money back to the taxpayers who paid it or pay down some of the state’s outstanding debt. What they should never do is use surplus money as an excuse to spend more.

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider what surplus tax revenue really is. Every tax dollar that is taken from a citizen by the government is a dollar that cannot be used by that citizen for anything else. It cannot be used to pay for the citizen’s food, child care, health care, education, clothing, or housing. It also cannot be used to start a business, support a charity, or saved for retirement. Politicians should treat each tax dollar as sacred because every dollar represents an opportunity seized from a citizen with the coercive power of government.

The Republicans in the Legislature are on the right track with their handling of the surplus. The Republicans are working to pass a middle-class tax cut that would simply give the tax surplus back to the taxpayers by increasing the standard deduction for the income tax for families who earn up to $155,000 and individuals who earn up to $127,000.

It is not a perfect plan because it does not refund the surplus to all of the taxpayers who actually paid the tax. By excluding higher income Wisconsinites from the tax cut, the Republicans’ bill still panders to the vanity of politicians seeking reelection by redistributing tax dollars to a favored subset of the populace — in this case, the middle-class taxpayers. But the Republican tax cut is still elegant in its simplicity and clarity of purpose. It is also far superior to the governor’s plan.

Gov. Tony Evers opposes the Republicans’ plan and has proposed a tax increase in its stead. While the state’s coffers are overflowing with the hard-earned money of Wisconsin’s taxpayers, Governor Evers is proposing a redistributionist scheme whereby he would increase taxes to pay for more welfare and a more restricted income tax cut.

In Evers’ plan, he would jack up taxes on Wisconsin’s manufacturers by capping the manufacturers’ tax credit. Then he would use that money to expand Wisconsin’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which redistributes tax dollars to many people who did not pay income taxes, and provide a modest graduated income tax cut to families who earn less than $150,000 or individuals who earn less than $100,000.

Evers’ plan still leaves about $375 million unfunded, which means it would have to come out of the state budget. Given that Evers has announced plans to support spending increases in every major area of state government, one would presume that he would have to find another tax to increase to pay for the $375 million.

Noticeably, Governor Evers does not factor the surplus into his plan at all. His plan is a straight redistributionist scheme that raises taxes on one group of Wisconsinites to give it to another group of Wisconsinites. Presumably, Evers wants to just spend the surplus on some other spending boondoggle. In other words, Evers has made it clear that he wants to spend every extra dollar sent to Madison and then hike taxes even further to spend more. Fortunately, Wisconsin’s voters elected a Republican Legislature to check Evers’ tax and- spending ways.

The Republicans in the Legislature should pass their middle-class tax cut and surplus refund and put it on Evers’ desk to sign forthwith. Then the taxpayers will see whether our new governor prioritizes his tax and spending increases over refunding the tax surplus to middle class Wisconsinites.

National Debt hits $22,000,000,000,000

That’s $67,547 for every man, woman, and child in our nation. Debt like this will crash our nation like it has every other nation that spends itself into oblivion.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The national debt has passed a new milestone, topping $22 trillion for the first time.

The Treasury Department’s daily statement showed Tuesay that total outstanding public debt stands at $22.01 trillion. It stood at $19.95 trillion when President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017.

The debt figure has been rising at a faster pace following passage of Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut in December 2017 and action by Congress last year to increase spending on domestic and military programs.

California Abandons High Speed Rail

But, but… GREEN NEW DEAL!

McConnell to Call Vote for Green New Deal

Fantastic.

McConnell told reporters after a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus that he has “great interest” in the plan, which would spell an end for coal, a key economic driver in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, while promising new jobs for out-of-work miners and other workers.

“We’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell said.

McConnell did not say when the vote would happen. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the vote has not been scheduled.

Bill Introduced to Add Jailers to Protective Status

Hmmm

WEST BEND — County officials are so concerned about a possible new state mandate that they will consider passing an advisory resolution when they meet Wednesday night.

The “new mandate” idea, being circulated at the state capital, would create an option for county jail staff to become protective status employees in the

Wisconsin Retirement System. The proposal at the state level is called Assembly Bill 5 and Senate Bill 5. Waukesha County officials are also working to let local state lawmakers know of their concern. The Washington County advisory resolution calls for the completion of an actuarial study before the bill becomes law to ensure that creating the opt-in for county jail staff would not negatively impact county taxpayers or current WRS enrollees.

Here’s the deal… the Wisconsin Retirement System classifies some government jobs as “protective occupations.” The classification is intended to give government employees who are responsible for public safety an option to retire earlier than other government employees. It generally includes police and firefighters. That option to retire early comes at additional cost to the taxpayers. After all, if a police officer is retiring at 55, the taxpayers have to pay her retirement while also paying for her replacement to fill the job. It is an expensive perk, but one that we have chosen to extend in recognition of the importance and physical demands of the job.

The bill referenced in the article is being sponsored by Republicans and would add jailers to the list of protective occupations and allow them to retire early – at taxpayers’ expense. Fortunately, I don’t see any of my representatives sponsoring the bill, but there are some traditionally conservative legislators on the list.

This bill is bad for two reasons. First, it will be expensive. Second, there is a pervasive shortage of jailers in the state. Allowing a swath of them to retire early will only exacerbate the problem. While being a jailer is an honorable and necessary job, the taxpayers should not be finding an early retirement perk for it.

State should refund tax surplus to the middle class

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

The state of Wisconsin has a problem. Thanks to the manufacturing renaissance, economic boom, and record employment fostered by the Republican policies of the previous eight years, tax revenue has been cascading into Madison at record levels. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, this will leave an estimated budget surplus of over $600 million in state government coffers at the end of the current fiscal year.

In a perfect world, the government would do one, or both, of two things with a budget surplus. They would either give the money back to the taxpayers who paid it or pay down some of the state’s outstanding debt. What they should never do is use surplus money as an excuse to spend more.

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider what surplus tax revenue really is. Every tax dollar that is taken from a citizen by the government is a dollar that cannot be used by that citizen for anything else. It cannot be used to pay for the citizen’s food, child care, health care, education, clothing, or housing. It also cannot be used to start a business, support a charity, or saved for retirement. Politicians should treat each tax dollar as sacred because every dollar represents an opportunity seized from a citizen with the coercive power of government.

The Republicans in the Legislature are on the right track with their handling of the surplus. The Republicans are working to pass a middle-class tax cut that would simply give the tax surplus back to the taxpayers by increasing the standard deduction for the income tax for families who earn up to $155,000 and individuals who earn up to $127,000.

Northam Calls Slaves “Indentured Servants”

It is entirely possible that this man is a blithering idiot. It is also entirely possible that he’s a raging bigot. Then again, those two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

The governor’s damage-limitation efforts risked making matters worse when he told the interviewer that 400 years has passed since the “first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores”.

CBS presenter Gayle King, who is African American, said: “Also known as slavery.”

According to Encyclopedia Virginia, which is produced in partnership with the Library of Virginia, the first Africans to arrive in Virginia were sold in exchange for food in August 1619 from the English ship White Lion.

Unlike indentured servants, who were typically released after paying off the debt of their voyage to America, black slaves were rarely freed.

After the interview aired on Monday, Mr Northam released a statement defending his word choice.

He said that during a recent speech he “referred to them in my remarks as enslaved”.

“A historian advised me that the use of indentured was more historically accurate. The fact is, I’m still learning and committed to getting it right.”

It’s really not that hard to get it right.

DPI Ordered to Release Open Records

This is the cultural norm in Wisconsin’s government education establishment. Delay, deflect, deny.

According to the lawsuit, WILL first requested three sets of ESSA-related records in August 2018, then sent a follow-up email the following month. A DPI employee said the request was in progress on Sept. 21, 2018.

WILL deputy counsel Thomas Kamenick followed up again on Nov. 12, and the request was partially fulfilled the following day. Portions of the request were denied for being “insufficiently specific” and “unreasonably burdensome,” and WILL send a narrowed request the following month, which DPI acknowledged on Dec. 13.

The most recent update from DPI, according to the lawsuit, was on Jan. 4, to notify WILL that the request was being worked on as a “priority,” but had been delayed due to the holidays and the election.

“Death to America”

Yup. They’re still at it.

Crowds chanted ‘Death to America, death to Israel’ as hundreds of thousands of Iranians gathered at rallies to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Ceremonies were held across the state today to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the coup.

Iran’s army declared its neutrality on February 11, 1979 and paved the way for the collapse of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – the closest ally of the US in the Middle East.

Klobuchar Launches Failed Presidential Run

Someone should have thought through the optics on this, but given her reputation as a screaming harpy, I doubt any of her staff wanted to cross her.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined the Democratic presidential field on Sunday and was welcomed to the competition with a tweet from President Donald Trump, who mocked her for talking about global warming in her speech while giving it in the snow.

‘By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!,’ he sniped about the woman running for the right to take him on in 2020.

Klobuchar made her announcement on a snow-filled day in Minneapolis, in a speech that countered the president’s policies on climate change and immigration along with knocking his divisive tone in politics.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her announcement on a snowy day at an outdoor event on Boom Island, a park that juts into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Babysitting was “Secret Study”

Bwhahaha! You have to give the guy props for ballsiness.

Facing allegations that officers under him were baby-sitting his special-needs son, the Chicago police commander gave a novel explanation: He was conducting a secret study.

Grand Central District Cmdr. Anthony Escamilla acknowledged he had on-duty officers pick up his teenage son, who has autism, but insisted he worked as a volunteer in the community policing office.

Pressed by investigators from the city’s inspector general’s office, Escamilla said he wanted to watch how his son did the work and interacted with his officers, taking mental notes he planned to share with the officers later.

“I kind of wanted to just leave it to them, acting out in their job roles, and then him being a volunteer and seeing how it would go,” Escamilla told an investigator. “It’s not about my son and someone keeping an eye on him. This is about kids with his kind of disability and what we can do as a department to help them.”

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Johnson Bus to be sold to Landmark Student Transportation

Johnson School Bus Service is pleased to announce its impending sale to Landmark Student Transportation. Specialized Transport Services (STS), a subsidiary providing Shared-ride Taxi service to Ozaukee and Washington Counties, will change ownership as well. The sale is expected to be completed by end of February.

A three-generation, family-owned business, Johnson Bus has been a trusted provider of student transportation in southeast Wisconsin since 1942. Founded by Aaron Johnson, the business grew and flourished under the care of his children Chuck and Dianne, then further expanded to 11 locations and more than 450 buses with the guidance of Chuck’s children Steve, Dan and Judy.

In a letter addressed to its school districts and customers, the Johnson family thanked their local communities for their support. “After more than 77 years of family ownership, the third generation has made the difficult decision to sell the family business. Like all business owners, there comes a time to retire and begin enjoying the benefits of a long, successful career. It has been our life’s work to provide safe transportation to the children entrusted to our care. We cherish the memories and the relationships that were built over the years.”

Johnson Bus chose Landmark Student Transportation as a family-based, experienced organization that will continue our culture, identity and strong reputation. Landmark will maintain the same high standards and level of professional pride that the Johnson Bus team has built together over the years.

President Steve Johnson said the local insight and expertise of the Johnson Bus and STS teams will be of great value as we are welcomed into the Landmark organization. Landmark will retain the Johnson Bus and STS names and the employee teams of Managers, Maintenance Support and Drivers are expected to continue in their current capacities at each location. Steve, Dan and Judy will support Landmark through the transition and continue on as advisors.

“The continuity of staffing will ensure a seamless transition for our schools, customers and employees. Moving forward, the new relationships will benefit everyone, especially the students we deliver to and from school safely each day. We wish to extend our sincere thanks for the honor of working together in safety with our school districts, our communities and our dedicated employees. We are very excited to see what the future holds for Johnson Bus and its employees under their ownership.”

Opening date for new Pearl of Can Ton

Neighbors in West Bend have been anxiously awaiting the official opening of the new Pearl of Can Ton. The restaurant, 515 Hickory Street, is located in the old Sears and former Generations Christian Fellowship building in downtown West Bend.

Owner BeBay Luu purchased the 2-story building in 2017 and had hoped to be open in early January however, flipping an old retail outlet into a restaurant proved to be a challenge.

Today the restaurant announced it would open Feb. 14. Contractor Ron Dibble said the project was a bit daunting considering the installation of plumbing and updating the electrical.

The new look resembles a luxurious Asian restaurant with high recessed ceilings and 6,000-square-feet of space on the first floor. The color scheme is rich burnt reds and browns. There are arched entryways and black string curtains to separate rooms. Some of the art features Buddha statues and paintings along with decorative wood dividers that set off table spaces closer to the walls.

Transportation and Future Borrowing Plan for City of West Bend

West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau spent about 30 minutes during Monday night’s Common Council meeting rolling out details on the Transportation and Future Borrowing Plan for 2020.

The biggest talking point was how the City has reduced its debt from $80 million to $47 million in a matter of seven years. It was February 2016 when Mayor Kraig Sadownikow first talked about “bending the curve” and working to pay down debt by implementing a program called “truth in budgeting.”

By studying the budget in 2011 the mayor and then Dist. 7 alderman Adam Williquette found “debt payments on borrowing were draining finances.”

Over the past eight years the city buckled down and reduced capital borrowing by initiating a $1.5 million cap on borrowing for three years.

Williquette said “paying down the debt will take time, but it allows the city to continue to move forward without raising taxes.”

Fast forward to February 2019 and the city has knocked $33 million in debt off the books and is in good standing to move forward on a plan to fix the roads without increasing taxes.

“I wasn’t part of this council when you guys started tightening the belts around here but I have to say I’m happy to see we are in the categories that we are regarding comparatives to other municipalities and all the numbers make me feel really good moving forward,” said Dist. 2 alderman Mike Christian.

Mayor Kraig Sadownikow issued the following statement: “The increase in reserves, reduction in debt and hopeful increase in Capital expenditures/Maintenance while still reducing overall debt is the culmination of about 7 years worth of work and promises that ‘we are bending the debt curve downward.’

I believe this is good government in action. We worked hard and took some arrows to make significant changes to how we operate, budget and spend.  We had to right size some areas, completely cut others, and change our standard method of doing business to get to the point where we can begin investing back into the community while still remaining small-ish and efficient.

Rather than taking the easy route and increasing revenue (taxes) when we ran into tough budget challenges, we did what any well run family or business would do, reduce debt.  We have freed up over $1 million in debt payments that can now be re-invested into the community,”

Below is a summary of the data released at the meeting. Aldermen have agreed to review and take up a measure in March regarding a proposal to increase borrowing to $3 million annually and dedicate $2 million to city streets.

Transportation and Future Borrowing Summary

In Fiscal Year 2020 there is a $1.1 million reduction in our current debt schedule. Recommendation from 2018 street referendum included in this increased borrowing. Long Range Transportation Planning Committee reviewed this increased borrowing recommendation last Friday, Feb. 1.

Current debt management policies include total general obligation debt service to non-capital expenditure shall be at no higher than 20%

Additional debt policy proposal to keep the percentage of debt limit no higher than 10% below than the median of comparable communities

Increase annual borrowing to $3 million beginning in 2020. Dedicate $2 million annually to road maintenance/reconstruction

Additional borrowing of $2.7 million in 2021 to fund Seventh Avenue and $1.8 million in 2022 for 18th Avenue. Federal grant funding received for DOT STP – Urban $2.3 million – 57% (2019-2021)

Seventh Avenue to be reconstructed in 2021 and 18th completed in 2022. Overall debt service levy rate levels out at approx. 1.4 – 1.5%. Total debt continues to decline from $47 million to just under $28 million by 2028

National Guard Blackhawk crew from West Bend recognized for rescue | By Capt. Joe Trovato

The crew of a Wisconsin Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk that rescued two kayakers stranded in a marsh near Fond du Lac last fall received a major award from the Army Aviation Association of America at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Jan. 30.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason Wollersheim, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Scott Kramer, Staff Sgt. Robert Gibson, and Sgt. Caleb Estenson, all received the Army Aviation Association of America’s Air/Sea Rescue Award.

The four West Bend-based Soldiers responded Sept. 9 to a request for assistance from local rescue crews attempting to reach two kayakers that lost their way in a thick marsh and reached the point of exhaustion. The isolated nature of the marsh and its terrain made a land rescue nearly impossible, prompting local rescue crews to reach out to Wisconsin Emergency Management to seek assistance.

The Wisconsin National Guard was ready and within 90 minutes of receiving the call, had a helicopter in the air. Fifteen minutes later, the crew was hovering over the Eldorado Marsh searching for the wayward kayakers, who had cell phone contact with rescue crews on the ground. With sunlight quickly diminishing and the kayakers stranded in a dark marsh, the crew asked first responders to relay a message to the kayakers to turn on their cell phone flashlight, which, thanks to their night vision goggles, immediately pinpointed the kayakers’ location.

Within minutes, a crew chief was descending into the marsh via the helicopter’s hoist system to retrieve the stranded men and bring them back to safety. The situation could have grown precarious quickly, given that the two kayakers were wet, exhausted and temperatures dropped into the 40s that early fall evening.

“Their training, experience and quick thinking enabled them to successfully conduct a very demanding mission on short notice, saving the two kayakers from a potentially life threatening situation once land and boat rescue efforts by civilian authorities failed,” the award citation read. “Their dedication to fellow citizens and willingness to volunteer on short notice for a hazardous rescue mission reflects great credit upon themselves, the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and the United States Army.”

Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, travelled to Fort Rucker, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, to witness the award presentation.

“It was an extremely proud moment for me, knowing these brave and highly professional Soldiers were from the Wisconsin Army National Guard,” Mathews, herself a former helicopter pilot, said. “This crew deserves this recognition for their heroic actions to rescue their fellow citizens. Responding here at home is one of the core missions of the National Guard, and having the opportunity to apply the skills we gain preparing for our federal overseas mission to make a difference locally is truly rewarding.”

The crew was highly experienced. Three of the four crew members aboard the rescue flight – Estenson, Kramer, and Wollersheim – had returned from deployments to Afghanistan less than a year before the incident where they flew rescue missions in support of U.S. and Afghan special forces and U.S. Marines. The fourth – Gibson – had returned from a deployment to Kuwait less than two years prior and deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands in support of Hurricane Maria relief in 2017. Estenson, who had the task of descending into the marsh that evening, said it was an honor to get recognized but said the most rewarding part of the experience was making a difference in his local community and doing his job.

West Bend Police officers sworn in

The West Bend Police Department grew by two this week as Christopher Brook and Breanne Knutson were officially sworn in.

West Bend City Clerk Stephanie Justman carried out the ceremonial process and then Police Chief Ken Meuler pinned a shiny badge on each new officer.

Meuler took a moment to share a special note of dedication about Officer Brook who started on the job a day early when he spotted a drunk driver and called it in to the WB PD.

Meuler said it was good work by the rookie as he helped get a 5-time drunk driver off the road.

Police Officer Brook graduated from Goodrich High School in Fond du Lac, served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2009, earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Marian University and successfully completed the State of Wisconsin Basic Recruit School at Fox Valley Technical School in 2013.

Shortly after his graduation from Recruit School he was hired by the Jefferson County Sheriff Department and has worked there until being hired by West Bend. Christopher and his wife Michelle are the proud parents of Ethan, Harper, and Elijah. We welcome Christopher and his family to the community.

Police Officer Knutson graduated from Slinger High School. After high school she enrolled at Concordia College where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Justice and Public Policy.

During her senior year at Concordia, Breanne completed an internship at the West Bend Police Department. After graduation from Concordia she completed the State of Wisconsin Basic Recruit School at Fox Valley Technical School in December 2018. We are happy to welcome Brianne to West Bend.

Former Tri-Manor in Barton has sold

The former Tri-Manor, 1937 N. Main Street, in West Bend has been sold. The property was owned by James R. Schulz. It was built in 1949 and had an addition in 1983. According to records at City Hall the property was last sold in 1983 for $118,000. The 2018 assessment was for $445,200. The parcel was sold Jan. 23, 2019 for $222,400 to Danker, Inc, a Wisconsin corporation.

 

Winners from Kiwanis Early Risers 11th annual Chili/Soup Cook-off

A note of thanks to everyone who came out for the 11th annual Kiwanis Early Risers Chili & Soup Cook-off. There were some fantastic entries and nobody went home hungry.

Winners from this year include:

Community Service Chili: 1) Interfaith Caregivers 2) West Bend Fire Fighters 3) West Bend Noon Kiwanis

Business Chili: 1) American Commercial Real Estate 2) New Perspective 3) Don Patnode and Minute Man Press

Restaurant Chili: 1) Brazenhead Pub 2) The Norbert 3) No No’s Restaurant and Texas Roadhouse

Restaurant Soup: 1) Braising Pan 2) Brazenhead Pub 3) Jug’s Hitching Post

People’s Choice Award: Chili winner: 1) Brazenhead Pub 2) West Bend Fire Fighters  3) Interfaith Caregivers

People’s Choice Award: Soup winner 1) Jug’s Hitching Post   2) Brazenhead Pub  3) Great Outdoors

Coming up April 13, 2019 it’s the Kiwanis Kid’s Free Fishing Clinic. Saturday is the day to attend the Kid’s Free Fishing Clinic sponsored by the West Bend Kiwanis Early Risers in partnership with the Wisconsin DNR and Southeastern WI Trout Unlimited at Regner Park in West Bend.

The kids learn some of the basics of fishing and test their fishing skills at the pond which is stocked with rainbow trout by the DNR, as well as other fish species stocked by the City of West Bend Park, Recreation & Forestry Department.

Holy Angels School looking for new principal

Holy Angels School (HAS) is a K3-8 Catholic grade school that has been educating children for over 150 years. HAS is currently looking for a dynamic principal to lead the dedicated staff, parents, and students to enhance and elevate this high level of Catholic education in West Bend, WI. The preferred candidate would be experienced, enthusiastic, and faith-filled. For other key requirements and responsibilities, go to the home page of the school’s website: www.has.pvt.k12.wi.us  If interested, please send a cover letter and resume to principalsearch@haswb.org by Feb. 15, 2019.

Hartford Rotary names Students of the Month for January | By Teri Kermendy

The Hartford Rotary Club and Hartford Union High School are pleased to announceMatthew Becker, Katie Brockhaus, and Mike Scepanski were honored recently as Rotary Students of the Month.

The students were given special recognition for their accomplishments at the Hartford Rotary Club’s Thursday noon meetings during the month of January.

Matthew Becker is the son of Cheri and Joe Becker.  Becker is a member of the National Honor Society, the Varsity Math Team, and Student Council.  He is also Percussion Section Leader of the Symphonic Band, a member of the HUHS Concert Choir, and had the lead role of Seymour in the fall musical “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Schauer Arts and Activities Center.

The Hartford Rotary Club and Hartford Union High School announce Matthew Becker, Katie Brockhaus, and Mike Scepanski were honored recently as Rotary Students of the Month.

Becker received special honors in several areas in 2018.  He earned WSMA State Solo and Ensemble Exemplary Soloist recognition in piano and was selected to perform with the WSMA State Honors Band.  Becker was also selected as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Becker has given back to his community by serving as a Religious Education Teacher’s aide, a member the Bell Choir and playing piano at church and community events at St. Kilian Catholic Church. Becker plans to attend a 4-year university and is considering a major in either math or music.  His top university choices are Michigan, Notre Dame, and Northwestern.

Katie Brockhaus is the daughter of Heather and Michael Brockhaus. Brockhaus is a member of Peers 4 Peers, Mock Trial and the girl’s tennis team at HUHS.  She has been very active in the instrumental music program. Brockhaus is a member of the Symphonic Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band and Pep Band. She is also a member of the Moraine Symphonic Band and Youth and Wind Orchestra of Wisconsin. Brockhaus was a State Solo and Ensemble qualifier in 2018 and performed with the HUHS Marching Band in the New Year’s Day Parade in London, England.

Brockhaus has given back to her community by volunteering her time with Family Promise of Washington County and at Northbrook Church in Youth Ministry. She has served as a youth soccer coach and enjoys giving private bassoon and saxophone lessons to interested students. Brockhaus plans to attend Concordia University to study music education and music performance.  Her goal is to eventually become a high school Music Teacher.

Updates & Tidbits

– United Way of Washington County will celebrate a record-breaking campaign year on Feb. 13 with a luncheon that features highlights from 2018. Awards will be given to several of Washington County’s leading employers and community advocates.

– Jay Anderson received Post 36 American Legion Certificate of Participation from Service Officer Jim Maersch.

-Urban Vantage, 128 Wisconsin Street, is offering a rent special of ½ month free if a person rents during the month of February 2019. Contact 262-353-9732.

-In light of the fatal police officer shooting in Milwaukee this week, Hartford is paying its respects by lighting up the downtown with a thin blue line. All gave some, some give all.

-Common Sense Citizens of Washington County will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 13 on the effects and facts of legalized marijuana. Detective Mark Sette from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Mary Simon from Elevate, and Jim Giese with Affiliated Clinical will be on hand. The 7 p.m. event is open to the public and held at the West Bend Moose Lodge.

A quick peek inside the new Cafe Floriana in West Bend

A quick peek inside the new Cafe Floriana; it’s the new cafe/bakery opening in the lower level of Cast Iron Luxury Living, 611 Veterans Ave., Suite 104,  in West Bend. (Across from Rivershores YMCA).

Katherine Schenk and her sister Sara Young are the ones behind the project and it is really starting to take shape. So far the floor, lighting, bakery display cases, bathrooms and food prep area are all near completion.

The lighting is very artistic with big globe clear glass shades that reflect in adjacent mirrors resembling decorative windows. There’s also mini pendant lights above individual table seating areas. A textured wall runs the length of the back of the bakery. The wall has somewhat of a tin-ceiling appearance.

Up front it’s counter space and a glass display case awaiting scrumptious selections of homemade sweets and sandwiches. The menu for Cafe Floriana features egg bake, traditional oatmeal, fresh breakfast pastries and muffins, a soup of the day, loose leaf teas, real fruit smoothies, an array of sandwiches, and Stone Creek Coffee.

Owner Katherine Schenk has been at the store daily working through some of the final logistics. The sister duo is working on a schedule for a soft opening later this month with their hearts set on being in business by March.

 

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