Author Archives: Owen

Lost in the Mail

This is one of the many, many reasons that we must not rely on mail-in voting. It is a viable alternate method of voting for the incapacitated or infirm, but not for regular voting.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds of absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s April primary election never made it to voters or went uncounted because of postmark problems, the U.S. Postal Service has reported.

The Postal Service’s internal watchdog found hundreds of ballots went undelivered due to election officials atbtempting to send absentee ballots to voters at the last minute, inconsistent postmarking and one mail carrier erroneously delivering outgoing absentee ballots back to the election office, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

They Seem Nice

I think of all the images I captured today, this is my favorite. I have no idea what his sign means and she has blinded herself.

California to Release Violent Felons Because They Might Get Sick

This will not end well.

Prison officials have announced California will release up to 8,000 people from state prisons to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout the institutions.

Officials on Friday announced three separate efforts, approved by the governor, Gavin Newsom, that they say will decrease the prison population by 8,ooo by the end of August. The measures mark the largest release efforts the state administration has taken since Covid-19 began to circulate among prison staff and incarcerated people.

The first initiative expands a previous effort to expedite the release of people with 180 or fewer days left on their sentences to include people serving time for serious felonies.

The second measure is an immediate review of cases of people with less than a year left to serve in eight prisons that have large populations at high risk of developing Covid-19 complications.

The state will also launch a one-time program under which those incarcerated in state prisons, including people serving time for violent felonies, will receive a credit shortening their sentences by three months. People with recent rule violations and those who are sentenced to death or life without parole are excluded from the program. Prison officials say the program will affect roughly 108,000 people, or about 95% of the state prison population. For 3,100 people, the credit will allow their release when the program begins on 1 August.

Court Reins In Governor’s Veto Power

Good.

A majority of justices could not agree on a rationale for why the three Evers vetoes were unconstitutional, finding generally that they created new law that the Legislature did not intend. The complex, 146-page ruling was limited to the four vetoes that were challenged and did not rein in the ability of future governors to make partial vetoes.

[…]
Two of the vetoes were overturned by the five-justice conservative majority, with two liberal justices dissenting. But a third veto that was overturned 4-3 saw conservative Chief Justice Pat Roggensack side with the two liberals on the losing side. And in upholding one Evers veto, three conservatives joined with two liberals in support.

BLM Protest in Port Washington

I found myself in Port Washington this evening to check out the scheduled BLM protest. Overall, it was a great display of Americans expressing themselves. It was peaceful and had some funny, some annoying, some touching, and some eye-rolling moments. There are a few pictures below, but here’s how it went down…

The BLM protest was scheduled from 6 PM to 9 PM. I was riding on my bike on the Interurban Trail and swung through downtown Port a little after 5 PM. There were several biker-looking guys getting American flags and a big banner out of their van. I asked about it and they said it was an All Lives Matter sign. They were planning to post somewhere along the route.

The plan for the BLM protest was to assemble at the Port Washington Veteran’s Memorial Park Bandshell at 6, then they would march through downtown for a while before returning to the Bandshell to wrap it up. When they started making speeches at about 6:20 (punctuality is clearly not a virtue to which they aspire), there were about 40 of them there. There were about 60 counter-protesters – some of whom were carrying firearms – assembled around. Some of the counter-protesters were standing close to the BLM folks and some were just standing back or sitting at picnic tables nearby. Additionally, there were several cars and motorcycles that kept driving by with American and/or Back the Blue flags flying.

Several of the BLM speakers then got up on stage and had their say. It was the normal stuff you would expect. Occasionally, some of the counter-protesters would shout out responses and the folks on stage jawed with them a bit. At one point, the counter-protesters broke out into the National Anthem. The BLM folks tried to shout them down by yelling “black lives matter” but gave up half way through.

After about 20 or 30 minutes of this, the BLM protesters set out on their march. They circled around the downtown a bit. Port Washington’s downtown is not very big. I sat and had an ice cream (caramel explosion in a waffle cone) and watched them go by a few times. Eventually they went back to the Bandshell. I walked over there and they were all kneeling, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. There seemed to be a few more of them, but most of the counter-protesters were making their way to the local eating and drinking establishments. I went on my way home.

A couple of things stood out to me. First, most of the BLM organizers were young, white, and female. They seemed to be more professional agitators than local aggrieved people. Maybe not, but that was my impression. There was one politician in there who referred to her constituents, but I couldn’t tell who it was. Second, I was really impressed by the Port Washington police. They were polite and professional to everyone. They didn’t interfere with anyone having their say but were visible. They were chatting with people on all sides. Really good work.

It was refreshing to see Americans having a public discussion.

 

Experts Call to Reopen Schools

As usual, the greedy unions are taking advantage of the situation to push for more money.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that the health risks of keeping schools closed are greater than those of opening them, amid a push by President Trump to have students in classrooms this fall.

“I’m of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen,” Redfield told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.

[…]

“I think really people underestimate the public health consequences of having the schools closed on the kids,” Redfield said at an event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by the Biosimilars Forum. “I’m confident we can open these schools safely, work in partnership with the local jurisdictions.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also called for students to return to classrooms, citing the educational and social harms to children of being away from school for a prolonged period of time.

But education groups like the American Association of School Administrators and the American Federation of Teachers say much more funding is needed to safely reopen schools, and that districts are already facing severe budget shortfalls due to the economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus.

Thompson Pushes for Open Campuses

Excellent.

Thompson told reporters he is doing all he can to ensure that campuses are able to offer in-person instruction this fall, saying “we need” students in the classroom.

“I know a lot of students like me from small communities … really would like to come back to campus,” Thompson said. “I keep hearing from parents, I keep hearing from students, the importance of an in-person education.”

Thompson said he would detail his reopening plans at the Board of Regents meeting later Thursday.

Ozaukee County Cancels Fair

From the Washington County Insider.

A portion of the announcement reads:  “We will not be utilizing Firemen’s Park this year for any events, we will not have food vendors or any shows which the public can attend.

“The Fair Board met this week and decided to limit this year’s Fair to the judging of 4-H and Open Class exhibits and holding the traditional livestock and small animal auctions. Attendance will therefore be limited to those necessary events and will not be open to the public.”

The Ozaukee County Fair Board of Directors cited “recommendations from the health department” as its primary reason for canceling the 2020 fair.

Vendors said they had been informed of the closure earlier this week.

We are quickly learning which people are “can do” and which ones are “wont’t do.”

Court Upholds Law

I must say, AP reporter Scott Bauer has gotten worse and worse. He doesn’t even attempt to write an unbiased story. Check out the overtly loaded language. But as for the story itself, good.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Republican-authored lame-duck laws that stripped power from the incoming Democratic attorney general just before he took office in 2019.

The justices rejected arguments that the laws were unconstitutional, handing another win to Republicans who have scored multiple high-profile victories before the court in recent years.

The 5-2 ruling marks the second time that the court has upheld the lame-duck laws passed in December 2018, just weeks before Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, took office. The actions in Wisconsin mirrored Republican moves after losing control of the governors’ offices in Michigan in November 2018 and in North Carolina in 2016. Democrats decried the tactics as brazen attempts to hold onto power after losing elections.

[…]

Thursday’s ruling involved a case filed by a coalition of labor unions led by the State Employees International Union. The coalition argued that the laws give the Legislature power over the attorney general’s office and that this violates the separation of powers doctrine in the state constitution.

The laws prohibit Evers from ordering Kaul to withdraw from lawsuits, let legislators intervene in lawsuits using their own attorneys rather than Kaul’s state Department of Justice lawyers, and force Kaul to get permission from the Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee before settling lawsuits.

Republicans designed the laws to prohibit Evers from pulling Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to ensure that they have a say in court if Kaul chooses not to defend GOP-authored laws.

Washington County Reaffirms Oath

We’ll see how firm they are when the rubber hits the road, but it is good to see them on the right side of the Constitution.

WEST BEND — The Washington County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved 2020 Resolution 17 — Washington County Advocates the Constitutional Rights of its Citizens.

The resolution reaffirms the oath county supervisors took upon swearing in to uphold rights of Washington County residents under the U.S. Constitution.

According to the resolution, “We the People” affirms the U.S. government exists to serve the nation’s people and “We the People hold dear and sacred and challenge all those who would seek to infringe upon the rights of the people.”

[…]

“We want to make sure the oath you took on day one, that’s something you’re committed to despite what other government bodies try to do,” said Kelling. ”We are going to hold true to the Constitution. We are going to fight for it on every level at every opportunity. This is who we are. This is one of the most conservative counties in Wisconsin. Who would lead if not us?”

Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention

One wonders if they will be able to even fill this new agency with people. Who would want to work for it? Talk about a no win situation.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Members of the Minneapolis City Council are pledging a thoughtful approach to their proposal to dismantle the city’s police department following the killing of George Floyd.

Council members sought Wednesday to reassure the Minneapolis Charter Commission, with some commissioners expressing concerns that the council was rushing to push through the proposal so voters can decide it in the November election.

The proposal would eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new agency, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The commission needs to sign off on the question by Aug. 21 for it to be possible to make the November ballot.

Blue Flight

What a shame.

In the past week, the number of officers filing for retirement has more than quadrupled on this time last year, with the exodus reportedly causing such a backlog of applications that the department is struggling to meet the demand.

Many of the officers hanging up their badges have cited a ‘lack of respect’ from the public amid national protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, and a loss of overtime pay following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $1 billion cut to the department as the reason, the NY Post reported.

The NYPD said Wednesday that 179 cops filed for unemployment between June 29 and July 6 – a staggering 411 percent increase on the 35 who retired during the same time period last year.

The apparent evacuation comes as an astonishing 503 cops have reportedly filed for retirement between May 25 – the day of Floyd’s police killing – and July 3, according to the department.

That figure represents a 75-percent increase on the 287 cops who retired from the force during the same time period in 2019.

According to the Post, a line of officers were spotted lined up outside of One Police Plaza on Tuesday, where retirement paper are filed and processed.

‘Apparently, the pension section is only taking a certain amount of people per day and I think they are backed up till late July, early August,’ one officer told the outlet. ‘That’s why you don’t see like 100 a day, because they are only doing like 35 to 40 a day, by appointment.’

Columbus Removes Columbus

I look forward to driving by Woke, Wisconsin, in the future.

MADISON – Leaders of a small Wisconsin city named after Christopher Columbus voted this week to remove a monument to its namesake, joining legions of government officials grappling with how to recognize American history while acknowledging its flaws.

The statue of Christopher Columbus has stood in a major thoroughfare at the intersection of two highways in Columbus — about 27 miles northeast of Madison — for three decades.

That’s changing after the Columbus Common Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to remove the statue from its prominent location and put it in storage until officials can find a new home for it.

The removal comes after a Columbus High School student, Abbi Adams, started a petition following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while arresting him.

Court Rules in Favor of Religious Freedom

Excellent.

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out two job bias lawsuits brought by teachers against their religious employers, reaffirming that religious institutions and schools have a First Amendment right to select their employees.

It’s the latest case to come before the court exploring the relationship between church and state, and in their 7-2 ruling, the justices clarified the class of employees who are barred from suing their religious employers under anti-discrimination law.
[…]
“Today’s important decision does not mean, as some suggest, that religious institutions are above the law or that they have a license to discriminate,” said Richard Garnett of Notre Dame Law School, who filed a brief in support of the schools.
“It means, instead, that a crucial dimension of our Constitution’s religious-freedom guarantee is that civil powers are limited to civil matters and that state lacks authority to second-guess religious decisions and doctrines,” he added.

Local Businesses Pushing for Oppressive Government

Hats off to Mark Belling for calling out the restaurants and businesses in Milwaukee who are advocating for the city to force everyone to wear a mask. These businesses are pushing for government to shove us around.

No thanks.

I rarely spend time in the City of Milwaukee anymore anyway, but many of these businesses have properties in areas I do frequent. I’ll spend my money with people who aren’t using their clout to push for larger and more oppressive government.

Celebrating Juneteenth

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

Proving that nuance and rational discussion is currently disallowed when it comes to debating anything related to race, Senator Ron Johnson stepped into the a hornet’s nest when he offered an amendment to a bill to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.

To this end, a bipartisan assemblage of senators drafted a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. First, we must be clear on what that means. The federal government cannot mandate that Americans celebrate anything. A designated federal holiday simply means that the federal government is giving all non-essential federal employees the day off of work to commemorate the event. Usually, but not always, states and private businesses follow the federal government’s lead. For example, almost everyone gets a days off for Independence Day and Memorial Day, but the same cannot be said for Washington’s Birthday or Columbus Day. The designation of a federal holiday, or lack thereof, has absolutely no bearing on whether or not people choose to celebrate or commemorate an event.

There is, however, a cost associated with the federal government granting a holiday to its employees. That cost is estimated to be about $600 million that the taxpayers have to bear for paying federal employees to not work. In order to save the taxpayers that expense, Senator Johnson offered an amendment to trade Columbus Day for Juneteenth Day. Columbus Day is largely celebrated in the Italian-American community, but overlooked by most other Americans.

Johnson’s amendment set off a firestorm of criticism from the political Right accusing him of surrendering to the radical Left. And the political Left lambasted Johnson and accused him of racism for putting up a roadblock to the Juneteenth bill. Both sides were wrong. Senator Johnson is staying true to form as a fiscal hawk. Those birds are more and more rare in an age of sweeping deficits, trillion dollar spending packages, and mounting federal debt.

In the face of a withering crossfire, Johnson has since withdrawn his amendment and is, instead, planning to introduce a bill to reduce paid leave time for federal employees to offset the cost of adding an eleventh official federal holiday to the calendar. This proposal will likely run into the buzz saw of opposition from the federal employee unions and will never be passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House.

In the end, we will add Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It will be a welcome and long overdue celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will be stuck with yet another bill for which we will borrow money to pay.

Standoff After Arm Wrestling Match

Meanwhile

A father is in jail after losing an arm wrestling contest to his young son which led to a shooting and an 8-hour standoff with the police.

The incident occurred on July 6 shortly before 1 a.m. in the morning when Boone County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to Florence, Kentucky, about a 20-minute drive southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, to a report of a person in a home with a weapon.

When authorities arrived, they found two family members had vacated the premises safely and were unharmed but 55-year-old Curtis Zimmerman was still inside the home and refused commands to come out, according to a statement by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“Deputies learned that Zimmerman was intoxicated and challenged his juvenile son to an arm-wrestling contest,” said Boone County Sheriff’s Office. “When Zimmerman lost multiple times, he became agitated which led to a physical altercation with his son.”

Washington County To Consider Becoming Sanctuary City

A few months ago, I would have yawned at something like this as just some showmanship and pandering. In our new normal, as they say, affirming our rights has become paramount. Let’s get this done!

WEST BEND — Washington County Board District 6 Supervisor and Vice Chair Denis Kelling has introduced 2020 Resolution 17 — Washington County Advocates the Constitutional Rights of Citizens on July 4. Supervisors will vote on the resolution during Wednesday’s County Board meeting.

The resolution would oppose any mandates which may interfere with an individual’s constitutional rights, including requiring residents to wear masks, enforce closures and implement fines. The resolution, which was

approved by the Executive Committee on June 17, reaffirms the oath each supervisor takes upon swearing in to the board to support the national and state constitutions.

“The government doesn’t have the right to make those types of mandates,” Kelling said. While the government can issue emergency orders, he does not agree that some measures must be mandated.

Earlier this year, Waukesha County supervisors proposed a resolution that would make it a sanctuary county for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in response to state proposals to strengthen background checks for purchasing guns. Supervisors felt these proposals violated the Second Amendment rights of citizens.

Washington County supervisors wanted to create a resolution to reaffirm the whole U.S. Constitution.

“I can’t recall any time in history where the government had a right to demand that you wear something,” said Kelling.

Celebrating Juneteenth

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

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.

UN: Climate Change Causes Pandemics

You knew they would turn it back to climate change eventually. So now we have to surrender our economies and liberties to the ecozealots because of diseases.

Zoonotic diseases – which jump from animals to humans – are increasing and will continue to do so without action to protect wildlife and preserve the environment, UN experts have warned.

They blame the rise in diseases such as Covid-19 on high demand for animal protein, unsustainable agricultural practices and climate change.

Neglected zoonotic diseases kill two million people a year, they say.