Charges Dropped Against Smollett

Once again, money and power triumph over justice.

Cook County State’s Attorney has dropped the charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

Here’s what prosecutors said in a statement:

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

So if I volunteer a bit and agree to pay the city a bunch of money, they will drop charges against me? How many other crooks get this kind of pass?

Chicago is being what Chicago is.

The thumb on the scales

My column for the Washington County Daily News is in print and on line. Here’re the highlights, but be sure to pick up a copy to read the whole thing!

If there was any doubt as to the importance of the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, the outrageous ruling by rogue Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess should vanquish it. The leftists have shown that they are willing to use the power of the judicial branch to advance their radical agenda without scruples or remorse. Against such an onslaught, a Supreme Court comprised of strict constitutionalists serves as the last bastion against the judicial usurpation of our representative government.

[…]

Judge Niess’ ruling was not based on law. It was based on advancing a liberal political outcome.

If you wondered what that outcome was, DemocratsGov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul quickly confirmed it as they moved swiftly after the ruling to withdraw the state from the federal Obamacare lawsuit and begin the process of replacing the 82 people appointed by Gov. Scott Walker who were confirmed in that session.

[…]

Thankfully, Dane County Judge Niess’ ruling will likely be stayed by an appeals court this week before being completely overturned. If Dane County voters have any fidelity to the rule of law, Niess will be run off the bench for his blatant abuse of power. He is a disgrace.

The judicial system is designed to correct for rogue and incompetent judges by allowing bad decisions to be appealed through multiple higher courts. But if the same rabid partisanship that infects Judge Niess is permitted to spread to the Supreme Court, the Legislature and governor will be relegated to merely being entertaining political theater because the austere tyrants in black robes will make all of the real decisions.

Judge Niess, Governor Evers, and Attorney General Kaul tipped their hands to how they will neuter the power of the Republican-led Legislature if the radical leftists take control of the state Supreme Court. They will follow the path of the leftist horde after Governor Walker was elected. They will get a fellow traveler on the Dane County bench to rule laws they do not like as unconstitutional, and then act by judicial and executive fiat. Except this time, instead of the Supreme Court overturning bad rulings and showing deference to the Constitution and the tenets of representative government, a leftist-dominated court will set the leftist agenda into stone.

On April 2, or anytime this week via early voting, it is critically important that Wisconsin elect Judge Brian Hagedorn to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He has demonstrated the appropriate humility, firm adherence to the Constitution, and deference to representative government necessary to protect the individual rights of Wisconsinites. If the Supreme Court is to remain a bulwark for individual liberty and representative government, we need to elect justices like Brian Hagedorn who believe in those principles.

Depraved Thug Shoots First Hispanic He Saw

Wow. Such depravity.

The suspected gunman in the weekend killing of an off-duty Chicago police officer opened fire on “the first Hispanic man” he saw after a petty dispute with a group of Latinos about an hour earlier, said Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who called the shooting a hate crime.

At a news conference Monday, Johnson said the “nightmare” began about 2:25 a.m. Saturday in the River North neighborhood when Menelik Jackson got into a confrontation in the 600 block of North Clark Street with some Hispanic men on a party bus.

Jackson returned later with a gun, but the men were no longer there, Johnson said.

The superintendent told reporters that Jackson opened fire into a parked car about 3:25 a.m. a block from the initial confrontation, fatally shooting off-duty Chicago police Officer John P. Rivera, 23, and critically wounding the officer’s friend, 23.

Jackson, 24, of South Holland, and co-defendant Jovan Battle, 32, of Chicago, were each charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Senate Democrats Move to Block Green New Deal

But.. but.. WE WILL ALL DIE IN LIKE 12 YEARS IF WE DON’T PASS THE GREEN NEW DEAL!!!!!!!!

(CNN)The Senate will vote Tuesday to take up the Green New Deal, the progressives’ prescription to battle climate change, but it is expected to be blocked by Democrats, who support many of the ideas in the plan but believe Republicans are trying to score political points by forcing a quick vote on the nascent proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has made clear he is pushing the vote to put Democrats — especially the many in the Senate who are running for president — on the record regarding the controversial plan written by liberal Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, which Republicans argue is a socialist manifesto that will destroy the economy.
“I could not be more glad that the American people will have the opportunity to learn precisely where each one of their senators stand on this radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire US economy,” McConnell said Monday. “Every American taxpayer will get to learn if their senators support saddling our nation with the astronomical cost of this socialist fantasy — tens and tens of trillions of dollars, a tax burden that would be certain to hurt not just wealthy Americans but the middle class as well.”

Police Body Cameras’ Results Don’t Match Expectations

Interesting information. All in all, the greatest benefit seems to be for the officers.

For years, many people hailed body-worn cameras as a potential key to improving police transparency and strengthening often-fractured relationships with the communities they serve. But so far, academic research suggests the technology largely hasn’t lived up to those expectations.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University.

Researchers reviewed 70 empirical studies on body cameras’ effects, ranging from officer and citizen behavior to influences on law enforcement agencies as a whole. While much of the research remains mixed, it counters some promised benefits of body cameras at a time when departments are increasingly adopting the technology.

“There is an incongruence between people’s expectations of cameras, police expectations of cameras and what they think they’re being used for,” says Cynthia Lum, the center’s director and a  co-author of the report.

Curious Happenings in the West Bend School District

It’s been a curious day in the West Bend School District. Here’s the scoop…

The School District has a policy that states, “It shall be the policy of West Bend Joint School District No. 1 to provide disclosure to District
residents and taxpayers regarding the total costs of any proposed referendum…” The stated intent and purpose of the policy is that the school district will disclose the full cost of a referendum – including the interest cost – on every district communication about the referendum.

Last week, the school district sent out a third (yes, you read that right) mailing about the referendum. In it, they did not disclose the full cost. Some concerned citizens filed a formal complaint against the school district for violating the policy.

That’s when things started getting weird…

I got an email this morning from the district’s HR Director at 9:18 telling me that there would be a press conference at 11 AM. There are several things odd about this. First, this is the first time the school district has reached out to me proactively under this superintendent. Second, why is the HR Director doing this? The school district employs a full time PR flak. Isn’t that her job? And if not her, why not the Superintendent himself? This is not a reflection on the HR Director. I appreciate his effort. It’s just an odd task for him to be doing. Third, I’ve been following the West Bend School District for over 15 years. This is the first time I ever recall them having a press conference. Ever. And they do so with less than two hours’ notice? Very odd.

Then there was the press conference… I couldn’t attend. I have a job. But the HR Director was kind enough to send me a full recording. The press conference was only about 15 minutes. In it, the superintendent acknowledged that a complaint was filed, but he refused to admit that the school district violated the policy. Instead, he said that the district would be send out a FOURTH mailing, at taxpayers’ expense, that would include the full cost of the referendum. The superintendent refused to explain the policy in question and refused to admit any wrongdoing. Yet, the entire press conference and reaction was clearly a reaction to the complaint. In fact, the response is in line with what the complaint demanded. If they didn’t do anything wrong, then why is the district conducting the remedy demanded in the complaint?

Then, intrepid reporter Judy Steffes asked who filed the complaint and if she could have a copy. Superintendent Kirkegaard refused to say and told her to file an open records request. Why? A complaint is clearly public information. Why not just share it? Why make someone jump through hoops? Isn’t the entire purpose of a press conference to give information to the press? And if the school district is doing all of this in the name of transparency, then why not be, you know, transparent?

This whole fiasco seems to be another chapter in the story of incompetence, duplicity, and waste that have become the hallmarks of the current West Bend School District leadership.

West Bend School Board Accused of Violating Policy

It’s pretty clear that they violated it. I understand that there was a press conference to address this today, but I haven’t seen their excuse. You have to love the response from the school board president. He clearly wants to be transparent and serve the community  :roll:

March 25, 2019 – West Bend, WI – A formal complaint is expected to be filed today against the West Bend School Board in connection with knowingly violating policy on a campaign mailer.

During a regular meeting this past January 14, 2019 the School Board discussed putting a referendum on the April 2 Spring Nonpartisan Election ballot. Board member Ken Schmidt questioned the level of transparency the district would provide taxpayers. Cited was Policy 615which stated the total referendum amount with interest would have to be placed on all mailers, marketing material, and discussed at informational meetings.

“In my opinion it should be plastered on our website, anything our construction firm puts out mailer wise, … yes, absolutely it should be shared just like we’re talking about it now,” said board president Joel Ongert. “Very publicly, there’s nothing to hide here. You borrow money, you’re going to pay interest on it. Like the attorney said, the interest is borne by the taxpayer it’s just not going to be on the question.”

During the meeting board member Chris Zwygart quoted Policy 615. (see copy of policy below)

 

 

“And to answer Mr. Schmidt’s question, ‘If the proposal is adopted by the board any additional communications, mail materials, postings, communication to the media, presentations at board meetings, other meetings in the community need to disclose those items as well.’ So it does appear to be an information proposal requirement,” said Zwygart.

Apparently a mailer distributed throughout the West Bend School District on Friday, March 22, 2019 failed to disclose the $74 million referendum total as required in Policy 615.

[…]

Emails have been placed to board president Ongert and board members Tiffany Larson, Kurt Rebholz, Chris Zwygart, and Ken Schmidt.

Zwygart did respond via email and indicated he would have more information on Monday, March 25.

Ongert responded via district email and said he was on spring break and stated, “Leave me alone.”

Evers Rescinds Walker Appointments

Evers is moving quickly to take advantage of a rogue judge’s ruling.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday rescinded 82 of former Gov. Scott Walker’s appointees who were approved in the controversial December 2018 lame-duck session, after a judge ruled on Thursday that the actions taken during the session were unconstitutional.

“These seats are now considered vacant, but we are committed to working as quickly as possible to fill them and minimize the disruption to the important work done by these boards, committees and councils,” said Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff in an email.

Mueller Report Finally Comes Out

As I mentioned, I was over the pond when this came out, so my original view was through the European lens. But after returning and reading a bit more, the European lens appears to be fairly accurate… this is pretty much a complete exoneration of Trump.

A summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report released on Sunday found the Trump campaign had not conspired with Russia.

However it was inconclusive on whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice.

The Russia allegations had cast a shadow over Mr Trump’s presidency and his chances of re-election in 2020.

Opposition Democrats are demanding full access to Mr Mueller’s report, which was summarised for Congress by Attorney General William Barr.

The report was the culmination of two years of investigation by Mr Mueller which saw some of the president’s closest former aides prosecuted and, in some cases, imprisoned, although not for collusion with Russia.

Since one can’t prove a negative, it makes sense that there are parts of the report that end with, “eh… we can’t say for sure either way!” Bearing in mind that this entire investigation was launched and being run by anti-Trump zealots, if there was even a hint of something being there, they would have trumpeted it.

So now the real question is… why did we spend tens of thousands of hours of labor, millions and millions of dollars, and  put the country through this? Why did the FBI even start the investigation on such flimsy probable cause? As soon as the dossier that launched the investigation was discovered to be a partisan fabrication, why didn’t they break off? Was is bureaucratic inertia or something more sinister?

Who polices the police?

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Guest Editorial | Lack of transparency in total $74 million West Bend School District referendum | By Carol Heger

Dear Editor: I will be voting “No” on April 2 on the total $74 million West Bend School District referendum.  The WBSD referendum is being forced on West Bend citizens by the school district and its school board.  They have been waging a less than transparent campaign with less than honest facts for several years now.

Item 1:  The Superintendent, Don Kirkegaard, does not like to mention that the referendum will cost taxpayers $74 million (which is a figure that includes estimated interest over the course of 19 years).  He prefers to mention only the amount that the district will be borrowing:  $47 million.  How can a referendum be discussed honestly if the Superintendent doesn’t want to share that there will be about $27 million that the community will owe as a result of interest payments?  By the way, the community – your tax money – is still paying on the two previous school referendums:  a total of $34 million won’t be paid off for 9 more years (until 2028).

Item 2:  The Superintendent is refusing to talk about the fact that the number of children in West Bend/Jackson, as well as in Wisconsin, has been declining drastically for about a decade.   He says that the referendum is not about “capacity.”  In fact, the low birth rate is historic, and projections state West Bend will lose another 500 students by 2024.  Reasons are many for the dramatic decline in enrollment, in addition to the birth rate, such as the rise of parental choice schools (like Good Shepherd and Kettle Moraine Lutheran), an increase in home schooling, open enrollment where many students attend districts like Slinger and Germantown, virtual schools/online learning, and the liberal ideology of our public schools.  Riveredge Nature Center is even opening a charter school.  By 2024, five years from now, I suspect there will be disappearing students and idle classrooms at Jackson and other West Bend schools, and as a result there will be less tax dollars coming into the WBSD coffers. (State funding is based on the number of pupils in a district.)  Less income means staffing cuts and not enough money to maintain (and continue paying for) the gleaming new edifice that is to be built south of Rt. 60.

Item 3:  The Superintendent did not answer questions from the audience at the large informational meetings held at Jackson and the high schools. He referred the audience to “experts” stationed at tables at the rear of the room, a convenient way to prevent audience members from learning the “rest of the story” by listening to each other’s questions.  Just another tactic to keep the playing field uneven for the taxpayers.

Item 4:  The Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) that met during the 2017-18 school year was used as a prop to justify the “needs” of Jackson Elementary and the high schools.  First, many of its members were WBSD employees, retired employees, or their family members.  The majority of committee members nodded and agreed when the architects led the discussions and created the list of “needs.”  The natural gas pipeline that is adjacent to the site of the new Jackson School was obviously not a safety concern of the majority of CFAC members or with the architects.  Bray Architects is the same firm that will get the contract to build the new school at Jackson and the renovations at the high schools.  Believe it or not, CFAC was not even given a chance to present a final report of its findings, although the committee was initially told it would make recommendations regarding the district’s needs.  Yet the referendum survey created by School Perceptions last summer stated that not Bray, but CFAC “developed the options explored in this survey.”  If the referendum wins, I predict there will be a tall, energy-inefficient lobby or atrium that will be built at the new Jackson School, designed by Bray Architects but paid for by the taxpayers.  (Check out Bray’s 2-story open, window-filled space at Kewaskum Middle School that is furnished on two levels with sofas & chairs.  How much learning is being done there?)

Item 5:  Jackson Elementary has been presented on tours as a dungeon-like building, while in contrast it’s a warm, welcoming facility with classroom cabinetry and furniture in good shape and classic style.  Many of the “needs” that were tallied by the architects were maintenance items that had been deferred over the years (replacing ceiling tiles, new urinals, etc.).  Replacing Jackson’s roof is listed on the referendum flyer as a “need,” but CFAC members learned from the WBSD Facilities and Operations Manager that roofing is always included in the operating budget, and each summer a different roof or several are replaced totaling $800,000 per year.  Why then is Jackson’s roof used as a referendum need? At its peak, Jackson held about 525 students compared to the current 350 that are pupils.  Moving the fifth graders to Silverbrook about five years ago freed up four classrooms.  The current building, larger than needed, could be re-configured and consolidated to take advantage of that extra space.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the old 1900 portion might not even be needed, thereby eliminating the use of steps and an elevator.

There are many questions that have not been adequately answered about remodeling the current Jackson, including the cost.  Does anyone know what it would cost to remodel or simply upgrade Jackson Elementary?  Certainly, the Superintendent must know as do the school board members, but no one’s telling the taxpayers.    At a school board work session on April 30, 2018, a board member stated that he thought it was a waste of money to investigate what it cost to close Jackson and build new.  He thought spending money on boilers and air conditioners (i.e., maintenance upgrades) was not worthwhile.  The referendum plan calls for a new building at a price tag of $24,400,000 (not including 19 years of interest).  And the number of students is continuing to decline annually.

Item 6:  The twin high schools’ 50-year-old “major building system components,” as described on the referendum flyer, have “exceeded their useful life” and “are in need of replacement.”  After the CFAC behind-the-scenes tour, positive comments were made by committee members that it was “a clean and solid plant” and “well-maintained” and “a sense of pride” was evident.  Older equipment with a good operator is sometimes better than new equipment, a member suggested.  “Newer isn’t always better” was added by another member, while other members recalled that a new storage tank installed at the new Badger Middle School had ruptured.  (CFAC meeting, Oct. 17, 2017)

Commentators have weighed in, stating that the desire of Wisconsin voters for “world class” programs and facilities is apparent, since 90% of 82 communities in 2018 voted in favor of school referendums.  (Daily News, March 6, 2019)  Of course, does that mean that the West Bend population of lemmings should jump off the tax-and-spend cliff because others have?

The three candidates for the school board have finally been identified and appear to be following in quick step behind the previous trio of self-described “fiscally conservative” board members who were elected a couple years ago.  One candidate has stated the WBSD “has worked hard to carefully steward the money given for the upkeep of the buildings.” (Daily News, March 9, 2019)  He obviously has slept through the last year or so when the school board rewarded all teachers with a $1 million raise across the board, not taking into account any merit, innovation, or awards, something that is allowed due to Act 10 (see below).  The school board also presented the last two superintendents with hefty salary increases above each previous administrator:  Erik Olsen was awarded a higher salary than Ted Neitzke before him, and Mr. Kirkegaard was given $20,000 more than Mr. Olsen.  This is particularly disrespectful to taxpayers since the school board also voted to pay Mr. Olsen $300,000 so that he would resign from his position.  Yes, he received $300,000 for not working for our schools and our children!  In addition, usually when an employee moves to take a new position, their benefits include moving costs.  Do you think that the school board will let us know how much they paid for Mr. Kirkegaard to move from South Dakota to southeastern Wisconsin?  Let’s not forget that $360,000 was appropriated to re-pave the high schools’ tennis courts last summer, when the school board knew that they would be headed to a referendum.  And the school board even spent $16,500 of tax money on a referendum survey designed to persuade taxpayers to vote “Yes” on this same referendum!  So how conservative has our school board been, how careful have they been to “steward” the tax money provided by its hard-working residents?

Another candidate for the school board states “there is no reasonable alternative” if the referendum fails. (Daily News, March 9, 2019)   She obviously wasn’t paying attention to the teachers protesting in our state capitol building when Act 10 was passed.  Act 10 provides the tools for school districts to create savings without taxing their residents. The largest portion of a school district budget involves salaries and benefits.  Prior to Act 10, teachers and other state employees paid no share of their health insurance premiums.  Their health insurance was free. (I don’t have enough space to talk about their lack of pension contributions as well.)  Act 10 gave districts the ability to negotiate with health insurers other than the WEA Trust (run by teachers), so that employees would pay at least some share of their health insurance, as is done in the private sector and even by federal employees.  But West Bend has not availed itself of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it could save from using cost-effective insurers.  Since Act 10, which dates to 2011, WBSD teachers are paying as little as 3% for their share of health premiums and taxpayers pick up the remaining 97%!  Compare this 3% share with the state average of almost 12%.  Most people who work in the private sector pay about 33% of the cost of their health insurance.  (Boots & Sabers, July 25, 2018)  The resulting savings could go towards operating, maintaining and improving all the schools in West Bend/Jackson.  There would be no need to close schools, as yet another school board candidate has threatened, if the referendum fails. (Daily News, March 9, 2019)  The school district could also wait for Gov. Evers’ promised $1.5 billion in state aid to schools. (Washington Post, Nov. 1, 2018)

By the way, don’t be fooled by another threat heard from these school candidates: that the safety of our students will be in question if the referendum fails.  The WBSD has already received something like $350,000 for upgrading the security of our schools; this is a state grant and is separate from the money requested by the referendum for security upgrades at Jackson and the high schools.

Finally, Jackson student test scores consistently rank among the highest in the district, second only to McLane among elementary schools.  Both Jackson and McLane are the oldest buildings in the district.  Although the school board has plenty to say about the age of Jackson, it can’t list any educational needs that the school lacks.  In general, some of the best test results come from older buildings and low-funded schools.  The amount of money spent on education has no relationship with educational outcome.  As mentioned, the largest portion of a district’s budget is spent on personnel.  How does paying more for benefits such as expensive health insurance improve the education of our children?  Why one district is “better” than another is not because of its fancy buildings or the amount of tax monies spent on a referendum.  Spending a fortune on upgrading facilities means nothing when it comes to learning.

One last point:  Jackson Elementary – students, faculty, and parents — recently raised about $10,000 to buy books for their library.  The great success of this effort suggests that maybe WBSD should contract with the Jackson students to raise money to pay for the “needs” of their own school.  Obviously, the high school tennis courts were more important to the school board than funding the Jackson library with new books or upgrading the school’s physical plant.

Let’s hold the line on out-of-control spending by this current school board.  Do you want to be stuck holding the bill for 20 years of referendum payments?  Vote “No” on Tues. April 2!

Sincerely, Carol Heger

Disclaimer: Opinions and letters published in washingtoncountyinsider.com are not necessarily the views of the Editor, or Publisher.

 New traffic lights by Fleet Farm on Highway 33 and Shepherds Drive

 Business owners on the west end of Highway 33 have received an update regarding plans to add turn lanes and a traffic signal at the intersection of STH 33 and Shepherds Drive. Details were released in a one-page letter along with photos outlining the plans, which also include median modifications and closure of a median.

Construction on the new 192,000-square-foot store began Nov. 12, 2018. Motorists can see development is well underway just south of Highway 33 and just east of CTH Z.

A portion of the letter to property owners reads: Dear Sir or Madam: I am writing this letter as a representative of R.A. Smith Inc., the civil engineering firm retained by Fleet Farm for the design of their new West Bend retail store site development plans and associated STH 33 road improvement plans.

Road construction is planned to commence March 2019, with an estimated duration lasting 8 months (until October 2019). The scope of general planned modifications consists of the addition of turn lanes into the Fleet Farm site, median closures and median modifications, utility installation, street lighting and road signing. Additionally, traffic signals are to be installed at the intersection of STH 33 and Shepherds Drive. Traffic control measures will be in place throughout the duration of the project, which will allow the state highway to remain open throughout construction.  The new Fleet Farm is expected to open September 2019.

Articles about Honor Flight Veterans appreciated                                 Tanya Burg

Thanks for all the healing you are helping to facilitate.  So many of these veterans, especially the Vietnam ones, don’t even realize the healing they need.

Back in October I had a personal reflection regarding the Honor Flight experience. I still feel a stab in my heart thinking back to the morning of my Dad’s Honor Flight.

We stayed by his sister & brother-in-law and they were driving us in the dark morning hours to the airport. Dad and I were in the backseat and he looked over to me and asked quietly, “So all these people at the airport will know I was in Vietnam?”

I responded yes, since the Honor Flight color codes your jackets, the pale blue signifies Vietnam.  He was very serious, which is not his demeanor typically, and after a short time thinking about it he looked back at me and said, “Just so you know, they are going to say really nasty things to me that you shouldn’t hear.”

He truly still thought that was going to be the experience and was trying to shield me from it.  I just took his hand and said, “Not today, Dad, not this time.”

When we landed and got off to the first round of people smiling and reaching out to thank dad and shake his hand, he only made it a few people in and had to move away.

He turned back to me with tears in his eyes and fighting so hard to keep composure said, “No one has ever thanked me before.”

I’ve never been so humbled and ashamed.

Wittenberger Bus was generous upon asking and donated a bus to take Dad’s family (he is the youngest of 11) and friends from the Rubicon area to the Homecoming in Milwaukee, unbeknownst to him.

Toward the end of the incredible walk of celebration home at the end of a truly life changing day – from “hosing down of the plane honor” (I can’t remember the correct name for that), through the heartfelt silent salute from what had to be hundreds of kind eyes that shared my tears, to the boy scout gifting, the grand gala of a booming patriotic band, to the Marilyn Monroe greeting kiss, vets and loved ones flanking the isles … he saw his family waiting and waving for him toward the end.

Stars and stripes caught his expression as he realized the depth of who was there, through their amazing attention to every detail.

My dad was able to be welcomed home, 50 years later, in a way that was so deserved but wasn’t possible the first time – when one sister picked him up after officers’ spit on his shoes for that homecoming.

My Dad and I are very close.  In my 43 years with him before that flight, I had heard things about his time in service perhaps a dozen times.  Since the flight, in the past 5 months, he brings up a memory (good and bad) at least 3 out of the 5 times I see him in a week.

I recall in my lifetime seeing him cry maybe once.  Now he tears up but to my gratitude. It is incredible the damn that has burst, the processing and healing that has taken its place.

I will FOREVER be grateful to the Honor Flight and have pledged to spread its amazingness and help fund future veteran flights.

Thank you for giving me another opportunity by thanking you and your role in thanking all the deserving veterans. Thank you for giving me another opportunity by thanking you and your role in thanking all the deserving veterans.

 New store hours for Hankerson’s Country Oven Bakery in West Bend

 Hankerson’s Country Oven Bakery, 2107 W. Washington St., in West Bend is updating its schedule. The family-owned bakery will now be closed Tuesdays until further notice.

Owner Ryan Hankerson said that one day will allow staff to attend to some of the normal behind-the-scenes business. The bakery and diner will be open on Tuesdays during the holidays to accommodate special orders and family gatherings.

Hankerson’s was sold to Ryan Hankerson in September 2018. Since then the hometown bakery also added Colectivo Coffee. Hankerson’s operates on a normal 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. schedule except Sunday which is 5:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 Look whooooo is back nesting at the old Lithia Brewery

It was May of last year when Ric Koch found a Great Horned owl nesting in what looks like an old vent in the side of the old Lithia Brewery building on Franklin Street in West Bend.

Koch moved into Rivershores and was out on his bike when he spotted the trail of dung on the side of the building. Next, he saw the baby owl. While we were filming the mother, owl flew the coop. (what are the chances?)

Located below the nesting site is a rather graphic collection of last night’s dinner.  Koch said owls will take in food and then yack up hair and bones and what not; a lot of that is in a small grassy area right under the nest. (you have been warned)

Calls were placed to Law Lawrann Conservancy to see if someone could identify the species and we were between a Great Horned Owl, a Burrowing Owl or even a Screech Owl.  (no Saved By the Bell jokes please).

Chris Schmidt, who owns the brewery building, stopped to take a look. The conversation gravitated to what happens when the baby tries its first flight? The nest is about 25 feet off the ground and below is cement. Schmidt, who rents space in the building to the West Bend Dance and Tumbling Troupe, suggested he go inside and bring out a couple of tumbling mats to help cushion the fall.

Now the mother owl has returned and a passerby on Tuesday said he’s already seen a couple of white tufts, possibly owlets, in the nest. If you happen by and don’t see the mother owl, look in the surrounding trees by the Milwaukee River. That’s good hunting area for them.

 City of West Bend selects 2018 Business of the Year

 The City of West Bend presented an award for the 2018 Business of the Year this week to First Bank Financial Centre, 1811 W. Washington Street. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow praised First Bank for being “truly a hometown community bank.”

“The award is a wonderful recognition of the commitment of our employees,” said Jeff McCarthy, First Bank marketing director and vice president. “Our employees spend about 15,000 a year volunteering in local communities and at the West Bend branch alone in 2018 spent nearly 400 hours volunteering.

“A lot of banks offer savings accounts and checking accounts but for us it’s about charitable giving and volunteerism that really makes a difference. The awards are nice but that’s not why we do it, we do it to make lives better.”  First Bank Financial Centre employs over 300 people and has branches in Hartford, West Bend and Germantown. Opened in 2002 and remodeled in 2017 the bank on W. Washington Street has nearly doubled the size of its branch on the west side of town.

 Kettle Moraine YMCA’s Dynamite Gymnasts Place at YMCA State Meet   By Kayla Teske

The 2019 YMCA State Gymnastics Meet “West Coast Dreams” was hosted by the La Crosse YMCA. The gymnastics competition was held at the Lacrosse Central High School in La Crosse, WI. The Dynamites’ team consisted of gymnasts in USAG Girls’ Levels 1-8, Xcel Gold, and Platinum.

YMCA gymnastics Event Champions:

Level 2 – 9-year-old – Floor Ex – Jordan Jashinsky (9.5), Ages 11 & up- Floor Ex – McKenzie Uniewski (9.3)

Level 3 – 10-year-old – Bars – Hope Konrath (9.2)

Level 4 – 11-year-old – Beam – Mallory Spaeth (9.35)

Level 6 – Ages 14 & up – Bars – Kayla Barker (8.9)

Ages 13 & under – Bars – Makayla Cibulka (9.0)

Ages 14 & up – Vault – Isabelle Thomas (9.225)

Gymnasts who placed 1, 2 or 3 in All Around:

Level 2 – 9-year-old – Jordan Jashinsky – 1st AA (36.65)

Level 6 – ages 13 & under – Makayla Cibulka – 1st AA (36.625)

ages 14 & up – Isabelle Thomas – 3rd AA (35.975)

Xcel Platinum

All Ages – Sloane Freitag – 3rd AA (33.4)

Team State Champions:  Level 6 with a team score of 108.8

The Dynamites will be competing in the 2019 YMCA Gymnastics National Championship in Wisconsin Dells, WI, June 19-23. The 2020 YMCA State Gymnastics Competition will be hosted by the Heart of the Valley YMCA.

 Hartford Union High School down to two finalists for superintendent.

 Ronald Russ and Jeffrey Walters are the two finalists for HUHS Superintendent position. Approximately 40 candidates applied for the position. Nine candidates were interviewed by the Board and four semi-finalists were selected for second-round interviews. A record check shows Walters signed the Walker Recall and Russ did not. Hartford Union High School District (HUHS) Superintendent, Attila J. Weninger, Ph.D., will retire his position effective June 30, 2019.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of American Legion Lt. Ray Dickop Post 36

A special evening Saturday night, March 16 as members of the American Legion Lt. Ray Dickop Post 36 gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the post. Commander Bart Williams oversaw the ceremony which paid tribute to veterans past and present and recognized the history of Lt. Ray Dickop. West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow was the keynote speaker.

“Leading, motivating and inspiring” were words Sadownikow focused on as he jumped into a short speech about veterans, the Tea Party, and the meaning behind the Don’t Tread on Me flag.

“The flag is actually called the Gadsen flag and named after General Christopher Gadsen of the Continental Marines during the Revolutionary War,” said Sadownikow.

The snake featured on the flag is described as “magnanimous.”

“It means to be gracious and noble in victory or defeat,” he said. “That is our service men and women, that is our Armed Services and that is the United States of America. That is all of you, gracious and noble in victory defeat.” Quoting Ben Franklin, Sadownikow said the snake in the Gadsen flag followed three rules to live by, “Never, always, never.”

“Never looking for trouble, always giving warning and if a snake is tread on it never surrenders,” said Sadownikow. “It will fight to the death to protect its home, family, itself and presumable its snake friends. I’m looking right now at a bunch of red blooded, American rattlesnakes.”

Also recognized during the ceremony were two of the oldest veterans in the room.  Joe Zadra, 96, who served in the U.S. Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge and Allan Kieckhafer, 95, who joined the Navy when he was 18 and fought at Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa.

Wrapping up the ceremony Williams and Sadownikow unveiled a plaque that would be a tribute to Lt. Ray Dickop. Below are details from the write up.

Ray C. Dickop was born on May 30, 1891, in Beloit, WI.  His mother, Ada (1872-1913), and his father, John (1861-1904), predeceased him.  Census records show Ray Dickop lived with his mother at 7 Maple Ave, South Beloit, IL in 1912.  Old maps show the location of his home at 7 Maple St.  Maple was renamed to Dickop Street after his death to commemorate this great national hero of World War I.  He also had a paternal aunt, Hilda Schiller, and cousin, Lena Schiller, who lived in West Bend, WI.

Dickop was 2nd Lieutenant in Company L, 1ST Wis. Infantry, Wisconsin National Guard, at Beloit, WI, when mobilized July 15, 1917.  He was assigned to Co. L when the U.S. Army’s 127th Infantry was organized and rode to France aboard USS George Washington.  He was promoted to First Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army Company L, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division, American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.). Lt. Dickop was killed in action (KIA) while serving with Company L, 127th Infantry Regiment in France during WWI.  He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism.

Updates & tidbits

 The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released the names of the deceased operators from the March 17, accident on County Highway NN. John David Johnson, 52, from Town of Barton and Michael George Roeber, 51, from West Bend. The Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation.

– In-person absentee voting for neighbors in the City of West Bend ends Friday, March 29, 2019. Voting at the City Clerk’s office is from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Remember to bring a valid I.D.

– Cedar Community recently announced renovation plans for its Top of the Ridge Restaurant on the Cedar Ridge Campus. American Construction Services, in partnership with American Architectural Group and Studio Lux design firm, will manage renovations at the restaurant. Renovations begin March 27, 2019 with completion by the middle of June. Renovation includes new walls, carpet, furniture, the addition of a bar, and lounge area in the restaurant lobby.

– Tickets go on sale April 21 for the 32nd annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm. It will be held June 21 at Highland Dairy, LLC this year in Kewaskum. Mike, Linda and Corey Enright are set to roll out the red carpet and invite guests to tour the robotic farm, compete in pedal tractor pull, listen to live music and share in some eggs, ham, pancakes and applesauce.

– Adam Kirchhoff, a resident of West Bend and an RN on the Medical/Surgical Unit, has been recognized with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital’s second quarter DAISY Award for his support and politeness.

-There will be a public information meeting for improvements to North Wacker Drive in the City of Hartford on Thursday, April 11, 2019.  The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hartford City Hall, in Scherger Hall Community Room (Room 101), 109 N. Main Street.  The City of Hartford is proposing to replace the bridge carrying North Wacker Drive over the Rubicon River.  The project is located approximately 0.2 miles north of the junction with WIS 60.  The project is currently scheduled for 2020. The roadway will be closed during construction.

– Common Sense Citizens of Washington County will meet Thursday, March 28 at the West Bend Moose Lodge at 7 p.m. Any person running for office in Washington County on the April 2 ballot is invited to introduce themselves. There may be time for questions from the audience depending on the number of candidates present. The meeting is open to the public.

– Get your tickets today for the Saturday, April 13 Brunch with the Easter Bunny brought to you by the West Bend Kiwanis. The event is from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. at The Columbian, 3245 Lighthouse Lane in West Bend.

-The 2019 ArtWalk Sneak Peek Party at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Get an up-close look at the 2019 hand painted banners by local artists before they are displayed on light poles in downtown West Bend. Admission to the event and galleries is free.

Vietnam veteran Gary Thetford of West Bend on April Honor Flight     By Samantha Sali

Vietnam War veteran Gary Thetford, 71, of West Bend is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Born in 1947 in Toledo, Ohio, Thetford was drafted into the Army in 1968. “I remember the day, the first time I heard Otis Redding, ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’,” he said.

Thetford completed Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was then stationed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia to be trained as a printing press operator. “When I first went in after being drafted, chances were I’d be in infantry, so I took an extra year so I could pick my duty,” said Thetford. “I chose to be a printing press operator because I figured I wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam.”

After three months at Fort Belvoir, Thetford was sent to Vietnam, assigned to a topographical unit attached to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. “I was a part of one of the field teams they sent, stationed on the Central Highlands,” said Thetford. “I traveled around the area, going to villages, showing movies, throwing leaflets out of helicopters or airplanes. We would go in with loudspeakers before some of the troops would make an assault on a village, to give the people a chance to surrender.”

Thetford’s service in the military ended on Christmas Eve in 1971, ranked as an E5. “One week after I left, the compound I was assigned to was overrun and I never got anything back,” Thetford said. “I had left all my gear behind to be shipped home. I don’t have any pictures or anything like that from serving.”

After his service, Thetford worked for the 7Up Bottling Company, until taking a job at a chemical company. He was eventually transferred to West Bend as a regional sales manager, over 35 years ago. Thetford shared while he’s never seen the current memorials and monuments, he has been to Washington D.C., while stationed at Fort Belvoir in 1969. “That was back when they had thousands of protesters on the memorial grounds. They sent us in there to do some guard duty,” he said.

Going on the Honor Flight and seeing the memorials is something Thetford is looking forward to but shared his concerns about his PTSD. “At first, I wasn’t going to go on the Honor Flight because I’ve had some bad experiences with some of the things that happened in Vietnam,” he said. “When they had the traveling wall war memorial in Germantown last year, I had a really bad experience with recalling things. When my wife put me in for the Honor Flight, I told her I’m glad she did but I really don’t want to go. Now that I’ve been going to the VA to get help, they thought it would be good to go.”

 Veteran Norvin Lehman of Slinger on April Honor Flight             By Samantha Sali

 Korean War veteran Norvin Lehman, 81, of Slinger, is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Born in 1937 in Washington County, Lehman attended two years of high school in Slinger before eventually volunteering to enlist in the Army in 1955 when he was 18 years old.

“My basic training was at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and after that I went to Quartermaster School in Fort Lee Virginia,” Lehman said. After 10 weeks of training, Lehman was sent to France where he drove truck. “It was exciting over there, all the places I’ve seen. I’ve gone from the English Channel down to Spain, just driving trucks,” said Lehman. “I drove all over those European countries and it was rough at times, but there wasn’t too much I could complain about. I’m grateful for the experiences.”

Lehman’s service in the Army ended in September of 1956, retiring as a Private First Class. “After a while, I worked for the Wacker Corporation and drove semi for them for a while until I officially retired in 1990s”

Lehman remembered coming home to nobody but his sister waiting to drive him home. Lehman retired because he had a heart transplant a few months later, “My heart wasn’t pumping,” said Lehman. “It was only working at three percent.”

Lehman shared that his family is happy he can go on the Honor Flight. “It’s something they had been hoping would happen,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the buildings and monuments, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen it. A long time ago, I was there during a bowling trip.”

Lehman’s son, Steven, will be his guardian on the flight. Lehman also has two daughters and met his wife over 59 years ago. “She was milking cows when I met her,” he said. “I just popped right in to talk to her and that was history.” Before the interview ended, Lehman wanted to impart some marital advice to the younger generation. “You gotta take the good with the bad,” he said. “Not everything is peaches and cream. Don’t toss it when it’s broken.”

On a side note: During a sentimental moment Lehman went from talking about the service, to buying his first car to the love of his life Eileen. Throughout the afternoon, Lehman teared up. He’s currently going through treatment at the VA and he was truly gracious for the opportunity to go on the Honor Flight and to have spent his life with someone who has stood by his side in good times and bad.

Find local news 7 days a week at WashingtonCountyInsider.com

Brexit March

Not that I planned it, but I was in London for the gigantic anti-Brexit march that happened yesterday. My hotel was on Piccadilly across the park from Buckingham Palace. The march went right in front of my hotel. I skipped over to the City of London to escape most of the craziness, but was able to enjoy some fun protest signs. It took every fiber of my being to resist slipping in with a sign that said, “I’m American! I’m indifferent!”

 

Old Buildings

I spent the better part of the week on a last minute work trip to Amsterdam and London. You know one thing that’s cool about Europe? There are buildings that are centuries old and are still in active, vibrant use. The West Bend School District could learn a thing or two.

 

“faux profundity that a teenager would say after a gurgling bong rip”

Heh

Famously, of his run for president, Beto said, “Man, I’m just born to be in it,” a statement of his own sense of anointedness that sounds less like a serious assertion of political purpose and more like the kind of faux profundity that a teenager would say after a gurgling bong rip.

This is why, when expounding upon his own talent for speaking at rallies, Beto, who does not prepare his remarks in advance, seemed to understand himself as a channel for divine inspiration. “Every word was pulled out of me,” he said. “Like, by some greater force.” And this is why he said that going up against Donald Trump was a battle of good versus evil, akin to, “every epic movie you’ve ever seen, from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings.” In his mind, Beto is flying the spaceship; he is carrying the ring to Mordor. His primary preoccupation seems to be with his own journey, his own sense of destiny.

Bump Stocks Made Illegal

This is clearly unconstitutional. Irrespective of your opinion about bump stocks, the 5th Amendment specifically prohibits the government from seizing private property without due process of law and just compensation. This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about the 5th.

The bump stock — the attachment used by the killer during the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to make his weapons fire rapidly like machine guns — will become illegal on Tuesday in the only major gun restriction imposed by the federal government in the past few years, a period that has seen massacres in places like Las Vegas; Thousand Oaks, California; Sutherland Springs, Texas; and Orlando and Parkland, Florida.

Unlike with the decade-long assault weapons ban, the government isn’t allowing existing owners to keep their bump stocks. They must be destroyed or turned over to authorities. And the government isn’t offering any compensation for the devices, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Violators can face up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Dips on Flat Job Growth

Good news!

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dipped below 3 percent in February, even as net private sector employment was essentially unchanged during the month.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Wisconsin was 2.9 percent during the month, the first time it has been below 3 percent since February 2018.

Private sector employment was down by 300, according to data released by the state Department of Workforce Development. Total nonfarm payrolls were down 3,400, led by a 3,100-job drop at the local government level.

Dane County Judge Blocks Legislation

If there is anything that should get conservatives off of their collective asses to vote for Hagedorn for Supreme Court, one would hope this would be it.

MADISON – A Dane County judge on Thursday blocked a series of laws that limited the powers of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Within hours, Evers and Kaul used the decision to try to get Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act that their Republican predecessors joined. Until the judge’s ruling, Republican lawmakers were able to prevent them from doing that.

This ruling will be overturned… eventually. If the Appeals Court doesn’t do it, the Supreme Court will. We saw this exact pattern over and over again after Walker assumed office. Law passes. Liberals sue. Dane County judge rules against law. Appeals Court or Supreme Court overturns Dane County Judge.

That is, of course, assuming that the activist liberal judges don’t take over the Supreme Court. If that happens, then you will see a series of lawsuits where concealed carry, right to work, etc. are all thrown out by an activist Supreme Court. And if you think that Attorney General Josh Kaul will defend Wisconsin’s laws, think again. Look at what he just did. Liberals are perfectly happy ruling by judicial fiat.

Vote for Hagedorn.

Vote ‘no’ on foolish referendum

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

On April 2, the citizens of the West Bend School District are being asked to borrow $47 million, with an estimated payback of $74 million, to build a new Jackson Elementary School and to renovate portions of the high school building. Adhering to the old wisdom that we should not spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, I will be voting “no” on the referendum. I encourage you to do the same.

Let us start with the money. $74 million is a lot of money. That should go without saying, but in the swirling debates around government spending, that fact tends to get lost. By any measure, $74 million is a LOT of money. To put that in context, there are roughly 40,000 adults in the West Bend School District. $74 million is $1,850 for every single adult in the district. That is not a trivial amount of money for most of us. That is what the school district is asking every voter to spend.

Not only is it a lot of money, it is money that we do not have — as evidenced by the fact that the district needs to borrow the money. The district is also still paying off two previous referendums. If this referendum passes, the citizens of the West Bend School District will be on the hook to pay back a whopping $106 million. Now we are up to $2,650 for every adult just to pay off the district’s debt.

And while it might be easy to brush off such debt in our current booming economy and rising housing prices, we must remember that the district intends to take out a 19-year loan for this spending. The Great Recession was only 12 years ago and there will be recessions in the future. Yet when jobs are scarce and property values are crashing again, the tax burden to pay this debt will remain. Paying off the government’s debt will come before paying for your family’s needs.

What makes the prospect of spending and borrowing this much money so incredibly irresponsible is that it will be for something that we don’t need. Sure, we might want it. Fancy new buildings are fun and cool. But we don’t need it. The Jackson Elementary building is perfectly serviceable and safe. The building has been used to safely educate kids for decades and it can continue to do so for decades if properly maintained.

The high school building could use some renovations. Consolidating the libraries is a good idea. Some of the infrastructure is due for replacing. Some classrooms could use a fresh coat of paint. But almost all of the proposed renovations are wants, not needs. The couple of needs are things that could, and should, be done as part of the normal maintenance cycle of managing a building. They should be budgeted and completed with the normal operating budget. The fact that the school district has failed to properly budget for the routine maintenance cycle of the infrastructure they own is a mark of incompetence that should not be covered with swaths of borrowed cash.

Furthermore, we can’t lose sight of the fact that enrollment is declining and is projected to do so for at least the next decade. According to the district’s own projections completed less than a year ago, total district enrollment will decline by anywhere from 15 percent (baseline method) to 23.5 percent (kindergarten trend) in 10 short years — nine years before the proposed loan is paid off. That’s over a thousand fewer kids in the district in a decade.

Specifically for Jackson Elementary, a building that once held 536 kids 10 years ago is projected to have as few as 307 kids in it 10 years from now. Is it wise for the taxpayers to borrow and spend tens of millions ofdollars to build a brandnew, colossal 82,000-squarefoot school for 43 percent fewer kids?

Finally, what continues to get lost in the debate over referendums is the purpose of a school system — to educate kids. The school district officials and other advocates for the referendum don’t even pretend that spending all of this money on pristine, new facilities will actually improve education. They rightly don’t make that claim because it is demonstrably true that the building in which education happens has nothing to do with the quality of education taking place in that building. Some of the best education in the world occurs in some of the oldest buildings. Education is an activity — not a place. All of our efforts and money should be directed to providing a great education for our kids — not building monuments to the egos of adults.

The West Bend School District has needs. With dramatically declining enrollment and mediocre educational outcomes, new and refurbished buildings are not one of them. Let us put the money we have into improving the quality of education instead of borrowing money we don’t have to pay for things we don’t need.

Foxconn Plant To Be Operational By 2020

Great!

Electronics maker Foxconn Technology Group said Monday it will begin construction this summer on a display-screen manufacturing hub near Racine, with plans for production to start by the end of 2020.

A company statement said the construction marks the next phase of Foxconn’s overall blueprint for its campus in Mount Pleasant.

It underscores the company’s manufacturing plans at the site, weeks after reports and statements by Foxconn officials suggested the company was scaling back or changing its plans to build display screens in Wisconsin.

If the plant is operational by fall 2020, it also could give political fodder to one of its top cheerleaders, President Donald Trump, who has touted Foxconn’s plans as heralding a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.
This will be hard for Wisconsin’s Democrats. Will they celebrate this great economic boon to Wisconsin or will they continue to carp and moan because Trump celebrates it? In other words, will Democrats prioritize partisan politics over celebrating Wisconsin’s success? I think we know the answer to that.

Vote ‘no’ on foolish referendum

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a sample, but go pick up a copy.

On April 2, the citizens of the West Bend School District are being asked to borrow $47 million, with an estimated payback of $74 million, to build a new Jackson Elementary School and to renovate portions of the high school building. Adhering to the old wisdom that we should not spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, I will be voting “no” on the referendum. I encourage you to do the same.

[…]

Finally, what continues to get lost in the debate over referendums is the purpose of a school system — to educate kids. The school district officials and other advocates for the referendum don’t even pretend that spending all of this money on pristine, new facilities will actually improve education. They rightly don’t make that claim because it is demonstrably true that the building in which education happens has nothing to do with the quality of education taking place in that building. Some of the best education in the world occurs in some of the oldest buildings. Education is an activity — not a place. All of our efforts and money should be directed to providing a great education for our kids — not building monuments to the egos of adults.

The West Bend School District has needs. With dramatically declining enrollment and mediocre educational outcomes, new and refurbished buildings are not one of them. Let us put the money we have into improving the quality of education instead of borrowing money we don’t have to pay for things we don’t need.

 

Long Range Thinking in a Representative Government

This is a fascinating article that explores the short range thinking inherent in a representative government. Here is the underlying problem, as envisioned by the author:

The time has come to face an inconvenient reality: that modern democracy – especially in wealthy countries – has enabled us to colonise the future. We treat the future like a distant colonial outpost devoid of people, where we can freely dump ecological degradation, technological risk, nuclear waste and public debt, and that we feel at liberty to plunder as we please.

He then walks through a few ideas for addressing the problem. For example, totalitarian regimes like China are really good at long range planning as long as you are cool with the government murdering millions of citizens. Some nations have tried various committees and ombudsmen to force legislators to think about the long range impact of their policy decisions. Frankly, I think I like this idea the best:

A more radical alternative has been suggested by the veteran Canadian ecological campaigner David Suzuki, who wants to replace the country’s elected politicians with a randomly selected citizens’ assembly, which would contain everyday Canadians with no party affiliation who would each spend six years in office. In his view, such an assembly, resembling a form of political jury service, would deal more effectively with long-term issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, and solve the problem of politicians obsessed with the next election.

I highly recommend you read the whole article. The author brings up a long of though-proving points.