CSCWC Meeting on Thursday to Hear WBSDPTF Findings

From the email… we’re not the best at acronyms in West Bend, but be sure to attend this!

The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) is a group of local citizens who came together after the failed referendum to take a deep look at the district’s facilities that were the subject of the referendum. The Taskforce was not sanctioned or created by the School Board, but the School District gave the Taskforce unfettered access and reams of data. The Task Force presented its findings to the School Board on October 14th. Now the Task Force will share the findings with Common Sense Citizens of Washington County (CSCWC) and answer any questions about those findings. The meeting will take place Thursday, October 24th at The West Bend Moose Lodge beginning at 7:00PM. As always. the meeting is open to the public.

This will be the first opportunity for the public to hear the findings outside of the presentation at the school board meeting. Task Force members will also answer questions. I hope that people who like the findings, hate the findings, or just want to hear them in some detail will be able to attend. Yes, I will also be presenting and fielding questions, so if any of you lefties want to come and have some fun at my expense, feel free.

flygskam

Heh.

The Swedes call it “flygskam,” or “flying shame,” the movement that encourages people to stop taking flights to lower their carbon footprints.

But should most Americans really be ashamed of getting on a plane to see grandma this holiday season?

Answer: No. Not at all.

Brexit Delayed

Messiest divorce ever

LONDON – In a surprise move, opposition and rebel British lawmakers voted Saturday to postpone an important Brexit vote, legally forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A reluctant Johnson sent a letter requesting the delay late Saturday night, but he also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

The letter was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would “damage the interests if the U.K. and our EU partners.”

Evers Schedules Special Election

After screwing it up the first time and taking weeks to think about it, Governor Evers finally picked a special election date for the 7th Congressional District.

Gov. Tony Evers has rescheduled the special election for Wisconsin’s northern 7th Congressional District to take place on May 12, with the special primary set to coincide with the Feb. 18 spring primary.

He also called on the Legislature to pass legislation to address the confusion that has resulted from a disparity between state and federal law as to when special elections can be held, and to reimburse local municipalities for special election costs.

And, of course, he picked a date that gives maximum political advantage to Democrats. Again, this is well within Evers’ powers, but please spare me the “gentle elder statesman who is above politics” mantra. Evers is as fervently partisan as anyone in Madison.

War in Northern Mexico

Authorities tried to arrest El Chapo’s son, who is believed to be running the cartel now. All hell broke loose.

The state government said Mr Guzmán was found in a house by a police patrol on a routine search. It said cartel members subsequently launched the huge attack in an attempt to seize him back from the authorities. Fighters also attacked security forces in other parts of Culiacán.

Witnesses described scenes of panic in the city, a stronghold for the Sinaloa cartel, as families with small children fled from gunfire.

“No one knows what is going on but everyone is afraid and they have told us to not come in to work tomorrow,” Ricardo González, a city resident, told AP.

Footage on social media showed a pick-up truck with a machine gun mounted on the back, in scenes reminiscent of a war zone. Other footage showed families scrambling to take cover under cars and in shops as gunfire roared. In one video, a girl asked her father: “Why are they shooting bullets?”

Sinaloa state’s head of security, Cristobal Castañeda, told the Televisa network that two people had been killed and 21 injured, according to preliminary information.

Pictures showing what appeared to be dead bodies on the streets suggest the death toll could rise.

Some police officers were wounded, local officials said, but would not provide further details.

As fighting brought the city to a standstill, the Sinaloa state government said an unknown number of inmates had escaped from the Aguaruto prison.

It said it was “working to restore calm and order” and called on residents to “remain calm, stay off the streets and be very attentive to official advisories on the evolving situation”.

Madison Toys with Full Time Council

Mark this day. I’m in full agreement with Dave Zweifel.

The task force charged with recommending changes in how Madison government is structured is toying with an idea that would reduce the number of alders from 20 to 10 and make them full-time with an annual salary of up to $70,000.

It’s a lousy idea.

All we need do is look a block away and observe what’s been going on in the state Capitol to understand how it would change city government for the worse.

[…]

When it was composed of part-timers — people who made their livings running family farms, small businesses, practicing law and even teaching — the Wisconsin Legislature was famous for its enlightened legislation and groundbreaking ideas. They’d pass a budget and deal with pressing issues that required new or changed laws, and then go home to work and live with their constituents. Most of them were people who were willing to make sacrifices because they had ideas and wanted to make a difference.

But, worse, they faced extreme pressure to keep their jobs at election time. When a part-timer was defeated, he or she still had a job. A full-timer, though, needs to keep that job or trot off to the unemployment office. That, in turn, has led to the poisoning of our elections with burgeoning campaign dollars, misleading attack ads and underhanded tactics.

Enrollment Drops Across UW System

As expected.

MADISON — Enrollment at the University of Wisconsin System dropped 2.6% percent compared to last year.

Preliminary enrollment for the 2019 academic year announced by the university Thursday was just over 167,000 students. That is down from nearly 4,500 students from last year.

Enrollment on the flagship Madison campus was up 2% or 879 students. UW-Green Bay, La Crosse, Parkside and Superior were the only other campuses where enrollment was up.

UW-Stevens Point and Platteville saw the largest declines at 9.7% each.

The university described the systemwide 2.6% drop was “modest” and are part of a trend of fewer high school graduates and low unemployment rates amid a strong economy.

U.N. Beclowns Themselves (again)

SMH

Venezuela has become the latest accused human rights abuser to win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. It defeated Costa Rica 105 to 96 in a secret ballot vote inside the UN General Assembly.
In Caracas, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called it a “historic decision,” declaring the election a victory despite “a fierce and brutal campaign led by the United States and its subordinated allied countries.”
However, the election was controversial, with human rights groups reacting fiercely and US Ambassador Kelly Craft describing it as “an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela.”

Security Guard Fired for Saying N-Word

Another victim of zero-tolerance.

Outrage was growing among members of Madison’s black community Thursday, a day after a black West High School security guard was fired for what he said was explicitly telling a student not to call him the N-word after the student repeatedly called him the slur.

Marlon Anderson’s Facebook post in which he describes his termination from the Madison School District after working there for 11 years generated hundreds of comments supporting the former school worker. Many derided the district’s zero-tolerance policy toward use of the slur by staff in any context.

Sorry. Context and nuance are no longer tolerated.

Brexit Deal?

Maybe.

After weeks of negotiations that seemed to be going nowhere, another deal was struck on Thursday.

The EU’s top negotiator declared the backstop has been abolished. But not everyone is happy with the replacement.

The new deal means Northern Ireland will stick to some EU rules, while technically still being in the UK customs area. Crucially, some checks will still take place between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Four years after it comes into effect, Northern Ireland’s politicians will have a say on whether to keep the deal going.

The EU is expected to agree to the new deal, if Ireland is happy.

Mr Johnson has until Saturday 19 October to get his deal across the line in the UK Parliament – or else he is legally required to request an extension to Brexit.

MPs in London will decide whether to sit on Saturday to debate the deal in the first Saturday session since 1982 – and that was at the start of the Falklands War.

Menomonee Falls School Board Pretends to Listen to Public

Heh.

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (CBS 58) — 31 public school districts use Native American mascots, including the Menomonee Falls Indians.

The school board got an earful Wednesday night from people on both sides of the debate.

Many times at meetings like this, one side of the debate shows up in force. But on Wednesday, public comments were split almost right down the middle.

Parents, alumni and students turned out to have their voices heard Wednesday.

“It would be a ridiculous and useless amount of money to change an F with a couple of feathers sticking out of it.”

As Mark Belling exclusively uncovered, this is part of a faux process by the superintendent and school board to change the mascot. They want to do it. They are going to do it. And the meeting last night was just for show.

West Bend Alderman Rich Kasten Announces Run for Mayor

Good stuff.

Kasten issued a statement to washingtoncountyinsider.com on Wednesday afternoon.
Residents of West Bend,
After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I am very proud to announce I will run for Mayor of West Bend.
Being able to serve the residents in West Bend as Mayor is something I have long aspired to and while I appreciate Mayor Sadownikow’s leadership and achievements, I truly believe this is the right time.
I have served as an Alderman the past six years and during that time, we have made great strides in repairing our fiscal challenges. As Mayor, I pledge to continue improving the financial position of the city, providing excellent public safety and improving infrastructure.
I look forward to sharing more details with voters as my campaign progresses. In the meantime, please share in my excitement and enthusiasm as positive things are ahead for West Bend. I look forward to meeting and talking with you over the coming months!
The current Mayor, Kraig Sadownikow, has not announced whether or not he is running for reelection. I have appreciated Sadownikow’s leadership at the city. Kasten has been a big part of that over the past several years. He would be a suitable successor if Sadownikow decides to return to the private sector full time.

Kids Tackle and Disarm Student

Good for them.

Students at a California high school tackled a gunman and managed to take his weapon from him after he brandished it at the school, police said.

La Habra High School went on lockdown Tuesday morning after a student yielded a .22 caliber gun in the school, according to a statement from La Habra police.

However, two freshmen in the class ran up to him, wrestled him and got the weapon out of his hands, Sgt Jose Rocha told ABC News on Wednesday.

“It was the students who tackled him,” Rocha said.

Chicago Teachers Strike

For the kids, right?

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago parents and community groups are scrambling to prepare for a massive teachers’ strike set to begin Thursday, prompting the city to preemptively cancel classes in the nation’s third-largest school district.

The Chicago Teachers Union confirmed Wednesday night that its 25,000 members would not return to their classrooms Thursday after months of negotiation between the union and Chicago Public Schools failed to resolve disputes over pay and benefits, class size and teacher preparation time.

The strike is Chicago’s first major walkout by teachers since 2012 and city officials announced early Wednesday that all classes had been canceled for Thursday in hopes of giving more planning time to the parents of more than 300,000 students.

WILL Sues Election Commission for Violating State Law

This seems pretty cut and dry.

Background: To maintain accurate voter registration data, Wisconsin participates with 28 other states in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC flags “movers” – individuals who report an official government transaction from an address different than their voter registration address – to state election agencies.

The Wisconsin Election Commission first reviews the information on “movers” for accuracy and reliability. State law then provides specific direction to WEC on how to handle “movers” flagged by ERIC.

  • WEC is to send a notice to the mover at the address of their voter registration.
  • A voter has 30 days to affirm whether they still live at the address.
    • If the voter affirms they live at the address – by returning the postcard or completing a brief form online – nothing happens.
  • If the voter takes no action for 30 days, WEC is to change the voter’s registration status from eligible to ineligible.

But on June 11, 2019 the Wisconsin Election Commission decided, contrary to state law, that changes in eligibility for a voter flagged as a “mover” by ERIC will not occur for 12 to 24 months.

The timing by the Election Commission conveniently pushes out any correcting of the voter roll until after the next presidential election. Coincidence?

Thiesfeldt Wants Better Return on Investment

Yes

Madison – Yesterday, as required by law, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released the certified state general aid that goes out to all school districts. Wisconsin districts in 2019-20 will be receiving $4.7 billion of equalization aid from taxpayers through the state’s funding formula, a 1.8% increase. This follows on the heels of a similar increase for 2018-19. Since 2013, equalization aid has consistently surpassed the Consumer Price Index, showing the Legislature’s dedication to providing healthy inflationary increases to educate Wisconsin’s children.

However, the results aren’t matching up with the investment. Annual test scores released last month showed that 60% of Wisconsin students are not able to read or perform math at grade level. Just as alarming, Wisconsin continues to have one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac,) Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, released the following statement regarding yesterday’s funding announcement:

“With the enactment of the 2019-21 budget, state education funding, through DPI management, provides for an average of nearly 2/3 of the dollars to operate K-12 public schools. In fact, over 35% of general purpose revenue for the entire state goes to K-12 education. The results of this investment are not meeting expectations and have not done so in many years,” said Rep. Thiesfeldt. “Instead of just continuing to pour money into schools, it is past time for the DPI, the Legislature, and the Governor to recognize that when the pathway is flawed, increased spending does not lead to better results. Our focus needs to turn to stronger teacher training in the use of proven instructional methods, traditional roles for our schools, and engaged parenting.”

Leading the West Bend way

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

In the wake of the failed referendum for the West Bend School District, the mayor of West Bend, Kraig Sadownikow, organized a private task force of local leaders to evaluate the maintenance and capital projects at the district’s high school and Jackson elementary facilities and share independent findings.

The task force was generously provided funding by Kevin Steiner of West Bend Mutual Insurance and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense to retain Zimmerman Architectural Studios to provide technical facilities expertise.

The task force presented its findings to the West Bend School Board Monday night. Those findings show a different way forward for the West Bend School District and a model for other school districts to follow.

I am a member of the task force. While the findings are those of the task force, the opinions expressed in this column are my own. I will admit that I was dubious about participating in such an endeavor. The process was enlightening and enriching. I encourage the reader to go read the complete findings in the minutes of Monday night’s meeting available on the school district’s website and elsewhere.

To summarize the task force’s findings, the West Bend School District could accomplish everything it wanted to do in the referendum and much, much more without spending a dollar more than they already are. To do that, however, it will take some smart decisions and hard work. The district has some real facilities needs. While spending money is necessary to meet those needs, spending more money is not.

First, there are some realities facing the district. Enrollment is declining and is projected to continue declining for the next decade or more. The most recent enrollment tally taken last month shows that enrollment is declining even faster than the projections made last year. This isn’t a problem with the district. It is a demographic trend that is happening throughout the state. Proactive management in an age of declining enrollment and revenues is even more crucial than in an age of plenty.

Second, the district has done a poor job of in terms of general maintenance and capital facilities management. This is a systemic problem that stretches back many years. For example, the current capital maintenance budget of about $1.5 million is woefully inadequate for a district with about 1.5 million square feet of buildings. In the elementary schools alone, there is about $22.5 million of capital expenses looming over the next decade that are mostly unfunded. Whether intentional or not, the district has been managing facilities by letting them decay prematurely due to inadequate maintenance, and then passing referendums to replace them.

Also, the school district built a 25-year capital plan several years ago. The plan was built on projections of increasing enrollment for decades to come. The reality is that enrollment is declining and will continue to decline, but the 25-year plan was never updated to reflect the new realities. A long-range capital facilities plan that is continually refreshed with current data and scrutinized in public is critical.

Before embarking on an ambitious plan to build and renovate buildings, the School Board must rectify these budgetary and planning deficiencies to demonstrate that the West Bend School District will break the cycle of neglect and replace. The district cannot make new investments in facilities before solving the problem of maintaining what they have.

The failed referendum sought to make some significant renovations to the high school and replace Jackson Elementary. For the high school, the task force validated that there are some true needs that require work.

There are also a couple of areas where the building could be upgraded to drive a lot of value for a reasonable cost.

The failed referendum also sought to replace Jackson Elementary. This is where the task force’s findings took a turn that I did not expect. The Jackson Elementary building has significant problems, but just replacing it was always folly. It is an expensive endeavor that pours a fortune into one problem while leaving all of the other problems wanting.

The task force found that the district could build a state-of-the-art new elementary school campus on the south side of West Bend. Into the new building, the district could consolidate Jackson Elementary, Decorah Elementary, Fair Park Elementary, the district offices, the maintenance shed, and Rolfs Education Center into the single building. By combining six district buildings into a single campus, the district could provide a 21st-century learning environment to far more kids while saving millions of dollars per year in operational costs.

The best part is that by taking advantage of the operational efficiencies of a streamlined district infrastructure and making a few other easily identified operational efficiencies, the task force found that the district could do upgrade at the high school, modernize the entire elementary school footprint, and increase the ongoing maintenance budget to adequate levels without spending or taxing a dollar more than they already are.

More work is needed and much more public discussion must take place, but there is a legitimate path to make significant upgrades to the West Bend School District’s facilities, break the cycle of neglect and replace, and do so without increasing spending or taxes.

The West Bend School District can lead the way. Other school districts in Wisconsin should follow.

Madison’s Taxpayers Prop up Golf Course

This is why Washington County shouldn’t own a golf course. It is self-sustaining at the moment, but taxpayers are on the hook if that changes.

The Madison City Council on Tuesday authorized loaning the city’s public golf courses up to $1.5 million to provide a short-term fix to ongoing financial problems.

Under the resolution, which was approved on a unanimous voice vote, the city can give the city’s public golf courses a cash advance in the event of a shortfall at the end of 2019 and future years.

This year, the golf courses are expecting a cash shortage of around $500,000.

House Votes in Support of Hong Kong

In a bipartisan voice vote. It’s nice to see that our politicians have more moral courage than our basketball stars.

The bill was supported by Republicans and Democrats and was passed by a “voice vote” in the House of Representatives, meaning a recorded vote was not needed.

“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world,” said house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, said: “The house just sent a strong message to the people of Hong Kong: we stand with you in the fight for democracy and justice.”

Racism in Football

And we thought we were having a “national dialogue.”

European football’s governing body Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria, charging them with the racist behaviour, including Nazi salutes and monkey chants, of their fans.

The disruption of both teams’ national anthems by opposing fans will also be investigated.