Author Archives: Owen

“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.

 

House Speaker Triggers Constitutional Crisis

In Britain.

The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal.

With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal.

John Bercow’s shock move, which drew immediate criticism from May’s allies, suggested he believed such a fundamental change would involve a renegotiation at EU level rather than clarification of the legal advice written by the attorney general, something that had been suggested this week.

The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said the decision was a “constitutional crisis” and that the government might have to consider the drastic step of ending the parliamentary session early and restarting a new session.

Boy Charged with 40 Felonies for SWATting Incidents

Great work, LEOs.

March 18, 2019 – Dodge Co., WI – The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has conducted a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding the hoax phone call received by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office on March 22, 2018 that resulted in a SWAT deployment placing lives at risk in rural Dodge County.

Sheriff’s Office Detective Andrew Rolfs in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies from around the country were able to identify a suspect, a 17-year -old male juvenile from Youngstown, Ohio, however, we are not able to release the name of the juvenile suspect to the public. Investigations by law enforcement revealed similar incidents occurred around the United States and the phone calls originated from Mahoning County, Ohio.  As a result, the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to handle all charges related to these crimes and 73 counts of delinquency were filed in Mahoning County (40 felonies and 33 misdemeanors).

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt indicated in 2018 that these incidents are very serious and will not be tolerated.  While it may have taken time to bring charges, the perpetrator is being held accountable.  It is the Sheriff’s hope that the resolution of this case will dissuade others from trying this type of activity.  The individual involved believed he would get away with inciting fear in our community and now faces significant repercussions.

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Mahoning County Prosecutors Office along with all the other agencies who put significant time into this case and helped Detective Rolfs close this case.  Additionally, Detective Rolfs deserves a great deal of credit for his hard work in resolving this case.

More Spending Does not Make for Better Education

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty looks at the data.

The Report:Truth in Spending: An Analysis of K-12 Spending in Wisconsin, by Research Director Will Flanders, PhD lays out the facts about K-12 spending in Wisconsin, where Wisconsin ranks nationally, and which school districts are getting the most bang for the buck. Most notably, using the most recent year of data available from DPI, Dr. Flanders examined the relationship of K-12 spending on public schools and student outcomes. The findings include:

  • K-12 education spending in Wisconsin is in-line with the rest of the country. Wisconsin spends more money, on average, than the majority of states; $600 per pupil more than the median state.
  • Wisconsin, like the United States, spends far more on education – and gets less for it – than economically developed countries in Europe and Asia. Of 41 OECD countries with data, spending in Wisconsin would rank 4th. The United States as a whole would rank 6th. Yet performance on the PISA science and reading ranks 30th. We can do better.
  • An econometric analysis finds no relationship between higher spending and outcomes in Wisconsin. On average, high-spending districts perform the same or worse on state mandated exams and the ACT relative to low-spending districts.
    • For instance, Slinger and Hartford are examples of districts that spend significantly less than the state average while achieving Forward Exam performance that is significantly higher. In contrast, White Lake and Bayfield have woeful proficiency rates despite spending far more than the average district.
    • The only exception is graduation rates, where higher spending does have some relationship to higher rates of graduation.
  • Private choice schools and charter schools in Wisconsin do more with less.These schools achieve better academic outcomes despite spending thousands less per student than traditional public schools.

It shows what it always shows… more money does not produce better educational outcomes UNLESS that money is spent differently. If you are paying the same teachers to do the same thing, but just paying them more, then you are just going to get the same results. If you take the same money and use it to incent excellence, then you’ll get better results.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin has had static performance for decades while we continue to pour more and more money into the same system to do the same thing. In other words, we are simply rewarding the existing performance with more money instead of doing anything to actually improve education. If we want better performance, we will actually have to do something differently – not just spend more money.

Beto Touts Wisconsin’s Importance

Worth thinking about

Determined not to ignore Wisconsin in his quest for the White House, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke made his second visit to the state in a month on Sunday, meeting with voters who spilled out of a downtown Madison coffee shop out to the sidewalk.

“This state is fundamental to any prospect we have of electing a Democrat to the presidency in 2020 and being ready to start on Day One in 2021,” the former Texas congressman told reporters after the event. “I’m really glad that the Democratic National Committee selected Wisconsin and Milwaukee to host the convention, I think that’s a good sign and a recognition of this, but that won’t be enough. We’ve got to show up.”

There continues to be a strong push by many Lefties to discard the Electoral College and go to a straight popular election for president. If that were the case, Beto would never have even come to Wisconsin. Nor would the Democrats have selected Milwaukee for their convention. Frankly, with just a couple of million votes at stake, states like Wisconsin would almost never see a presidential candidate in person unless their plan had to make an emergency landing. So if you like being able to meet and see presidential candidates without leaving the state, thank the Electoral College.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Finance Director explains nearly $106 million in total referendum debt and interest for West Bend School District

There were experts available at the open house in Jackson to tour the Elementary School and ask questions about the upcoming April 2 referendum.

Andy Sarnow is the newest finance director in the West Bend School District. He explained the facts regarding the remaining referendum debt and interest from Badger and Silverbrook and then calculated the grand total should the total $74 million referendum pass in April.

-“We still have debt existing,” said Sarnow. “The existing debt we have to pay off over the next 10 years (2028) is approximately $28 million. The additional interest over the next 10 years is approximately $3.5 million.”

-“So about $32 million to $33 million left to pay for Badger and Silverbrook referendum.”

-Regarding the April 2 referendum. “So as we look at the authority that the referendum is to issue $47 million in bonds the projection at this point in time, and it’s conservatively high… we’re using 4.25 percent, recent issues are lower than that, but at 4.25 percent it’s $27 million in interest that will be paid over the life of the bond over the next 19 years (2038) and that total is $74 million,” said Sarnow.

-“Badger and Silverbrook are about $28 million to $29 million plus the interest we said was about $4.5 million,” said Sarnow.

-$32 million (Badger and Silverbrook) + $74 million (April 2 referendum) is about $106 million total to be paid off should the April 2 referendum pass.

-“$74 million and $32 million…. do you have a calculator? I know you have one on your phone,” said Sarnow.

– “That’s not how it’s commonly referred to,” said Sarnow regarding the word ‘debt.’

– “You go to a bank and you take out a mortgage for $200,000 to buy a home and you are $200,000 in debt. Does that mean you’re not paying any interest? No, you’re paying interest…. so I don’t want to say we’re ‘in debt $106 million’ that is the amount we will be repaying to be debt free.”

History on current referendums in West Bend School District

Taking a look at the current referendums the West Bend School District is paying off….

In April 2009, voters in West Bend approved a $29.3 million plan to renovate, as well as build an addition to Badger Middle School.

In November 2012 the West Bend School District passed a $22.8 million referendum to close Barton Elementary School, expand Silverbrook School and add classrooms and a gym at Green Tree Elementary School. The actual total cost of the referendum with taxes and interest was $31.975 million with a 15-year payback on borrowing.

After the Nov. 2012 referendum passed the $31.9 million total was added on top of the $29.3 million payment for the 2009 Badger referendum.

According to Baird “As of January 14, 2019 the District has principal debt outstanding” including $29,420,000 from Fund 39 referendum and Fund 38 non-referendum approved debt of $5,011,000.

The target date to completely pay off the debt and interest on current referendums is 2028.

The April 2 referendum would extend over 19 years to be paid off in 2038.

April 2 referendum question

Shall the West Bend Joint School District Number 1, Washington County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $47,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of: construction of a new Jackson Elementary School; safety, security, building infrastructure, technical education and engineering lab improvements, remodeling and capital improvements at the High School; and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment?

On a history note: Below is a list of some of the heads of the finance department in the West Bend School District over the past three years. Brittany Altendorf held the position for six years until 2017 and after that four people in the post including two three-month spans where Tim Stellmacher filled in before the next person was hired.

July 2011 – July 2017​​​ Brittany Altendorf

August 2017 – March 2018 ​​CESA 5 (Dave Van Spankeren)

April 2018 – July 2018 ​​​Tim Stellmacher

April 2018 – December 2018​​ Karen Herman

January 2019 – mid March 2019​​ Tim Stellmacher

February 18, 2019 – current​​ Andy Sarnow  March 8, 2019

Silver Alert driver stopped for going wrong way on I41

Some great work Wednesday night by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department after they safely stopped a vehicle going the wrong way on I41.

“The driver was part of a Silver Alert notification out of Manitowoc,” said Sheriff Martin Schulteis.

Manitowoc Police issued the Silver Alert at 7 a.m. on March 13 for 75-year-old Dennis Ullman who left a wellness center and did not return. Around 10:44 p.m. the dispatch center at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department received multiple calls about a driver going the wrong way on I41.

“Menomonee Falls Police actually got a call that he was northbound in the southbound lanes,” said Schulteis.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies managed to stop the vehicle at the 41/45 split. ”That’s a good 7 to 8 miles he was going northbound in the southbound lanes,” Schulteis said. “The deputies said he was extremely confused and unaware of what road he was on.”

The man was brought to the Sheriff’s Department where his family came to pick him up.

Schulteis said the department has a policy not to chase a person in the opposite direction on the Interstate. This is the second such wrong-way incident in Washington County in about a week. On March 8 a wrong-way driver on Highway 33 was involved in a fatal accident after the driver was headed east in the westbound lanes.

“In this case it was an elderly driver with a medical issue and in the earlier accident it looks like alcohol was involved,” said Schulteis. “Overall, it’s just an important lesson about not driving in the left-hand lane when on divided highways because when people are confused or intoxicated, they think they’re in the right-hand lane. It’s an important aspect and I have a young son who I teach not to drive in the left lane at night and it’s just for that reason.”

Why so much foam in Hartford                                         By Steve Volkert

 A large amount of foam closed a portion of Rural Street in Hartford on Thursday morning as the large white mass moved across streets and bridges.

Hartford Sewer Utility Director David Piquett said the foam, which was between the Rural Street Bridge, is a seasonal anomaly.  “There is NO toxicity in the foam or causing the foam. The Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) is high which happens especially during this time of year.

DOC elevates when naturally produced surfactants (organic pollutants) released from algae blooms and aquatic plants dissolve in water. The combination of DOC that is already in the river along with the amount that comes from our storm sewers and soils that border the river will cause foam.

The reason for the Rural Street build-up is due the high DOC which is agitated by the high flow coming through the dam. The water level is up to the top of the bridge and is acting as a skimmer, because of the short distance between the dam and the bridge. Dissolved Organic carbon is in the water year-round, but this level will drop pretty quickly along with the height of the river. I know it is unsightly, but it is a natural occurrence. Hope this helps explain a little.

Building home to Walmart in West Bend for sale

There’s quite a bit of property changing hands in West Bend and Washington County. One of the latest big box buildings posted for sale is the property at 1515 W. Paradise Drive. Many people know it as the building that’s home to Walmart.

Asking price for the 205,000-square-foot building is $18,829,629. The real estate listing said the building was constructed in 1998. According to the city assessor the current 2018 assessed value is $12,585,800.

The listing reads, “Walmart has been at this location for 20 years and recently exercised its first renewal option.”

Calls have been placed to the city assessor’s office to find out the last time the building was sold and the current assessment.  Other property changes include a new owner for the building at 105 N. Main Street.  Tracey Serwatt bought the property that’s home to Portrait’s Today for about $315,000.

Also watch for Woody’s Flooring to move from its shop on Stockhausen Lane to 830 S. Main Street in the West Bend Plaza strip center where George Webb’s is on the end cap.

There will also be a new CrossFit business moving into the north end cap of the same West Bend Plaza strip center, across from Kwik Trip.

A ‘rookery’ of penguins stepped out in downtown West Bend

A bit like ‘March of the Penguins’ on Thursday as ‘a colony, a rookery or a Waddle’ of colorful penguins stepped up N. Main Street in downtown West Bend. The appearance was part of a promotion to draw attention to the upcoming performance of Madagascar by the West Bend Children’s Theatre. Shows are April 10, 11, and 12.

Updates & tidbits

– In-person absentee voting for neighbors in the City of West Bend starts Monday, March 18, 2019. Voting at the City Clerk’s office is from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  In-person absentee voting ends Friday, March 29, 2019 at 5 p.m.  Remember to bring a valid I.D.

-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. There will be a brief presentation at 6 p.m. 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 to through traffic 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. Tentatively, each candidate will be given five minutes to speak about themselves, not their opponent. 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. These banners turn Main Street in West Bend into an outdoor gallery May through October. Take a piece of the ArtWalk home with you as a silent auction of banners from 2017 will take place during this event. Come prepared to bid for your favorite banners. Enjoy music, food and a cash bar. Admission to the event and galleries is free.

– Hartford Union High School’s (HUHS) Board of Education announced it has four semi-finalists for the Superintendent position. Stephen T. Plank, Principal, Middleton High School, Middleton-Cross Plains School District Ronald D. Russ, Superintendent, Merton Community School District Ralph Schlass, Principal, West Bend West High School and Jeffrey A. Walters, Principal, Kettle Moraine High School, Kettle Moraine School District. A record check shows Walters, Schlass and Plank all signed the Walker Recall.

-Numerous stretches of roadways experienced high water levels on Thursday as temps in the 50s combined with torrential downpours to create some hazardous in Washington County. Some of the road closures included State Highway 144 from Highway 33 to I41 and County Highway DW from County Highway W to State Highway 175

– Hartford Union High School senior Miranda Parker will once again tour the state of Wisconsin this summer with Kids from Wisconsin. Joining her this year as an understudy is freshman Connor Martin. This is Parker’s second year as a Kid.

Honor Flight veterans from Washington County

There will be 15 veterans from Washington County on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight on April 6. This will be the 50th mission as two planes leave Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport with 172 veterans on board.  Interviews with some of the veterans are below.

Vietnam veteran Judith Pierce of Hartford on April Honor Flight            By Samantha Sali

Vietnam War veteran Judith Pierce, 73, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born in Hartford on March 25, 1945, Pierce was raised in Rubicon with her seven siblings, attending school St. John Catholic Church. The school closed in the late 60’s.

After graduating high school, Pierce attended nursing school in St. Agnes in Fond Du Lac.

“I didn’t even know a nurse, I chose the profession because I just wanted to help people,” said Pierce.  “I’ve always been a people person and I always felt the need to do something and help people and I figured I could accomplish that with a nursing education.”

Around 1966, military recruiters came to St. Agnes, giving a talk to the nursing students about how they needed nurses for the war in Vietnam.

“When I asked my dad to help me pay my tuition, he said I had to pay him back because it would be unfair to give me money for college and not my other siblings,” said Pierce. “When the recruiters came to St. Agnes, they told us they’d start paying us our senior year, as if we were a private already in the service. Of course, you have to pay them back time, but the little calculator in my mind was just buzzing. I thought if I went in then, I could start paying my dad back, so I raced up there and was the first one to get the paperwork.”

Despite being 20 years old, Pierce had to take a permission slip to her parents over the weekend in order to be allowed to serve as a nurse in the military.

”Both of them said no,” said Pierce. “They weren’t narrow minded, but for that era, you didn’t really hear about women serving. By Sunday, I told them I was already living outside of the home, told them they did a great job raising me, and said I already am what I am, that I will be what I will be. My mom looked at my dad and they said I was right and signed the permission slip.”

After Pierce graduated and became board certified, she entered active military duty in 1966. She received Basic Training in Texas and then to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

From there, she was assigned to Korea. “They had what they called hardship tours, one in Korea and one in Vietnam. I actually wanted to go to Vietnam at first, but when given the choice, I chose Korea. I was so idealistic, comparing myself to Florence Nightingale, thought I was going to save the world. I grew up so sheltered, in such a small area, I was so naive. I thought everyone was white, German, and Catholic. Going into the military was one of the best moves of my life.”

Last year, Pierce was able to take her family to South Korea to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics and show where she served 50 years ago.

“I was stationed at the 43rd Surgical Hospital in Uijongbu, which is mentioned in the TV show MASH. They even show across the street a Rosie’s Bar and that’s where I had my farewell party when I left,” Pierce said.

While in South Korea, Pierce lived in a Quonset hut. “It was so cold in the winter, just like Wisconsin, so I used to sleep in my military-issued coat because the huts weren’t insulated,” she said. “During monsoon season, frogs would jump in the bathrooms and there was a light in the closet that had to stay on all of the time or our shoes and clothes would mold from the rain.”

After Pierce retired as a Lieutenant in 1969, she went back to college in Oshkosh and received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

After graduating, she worked at the VA in Milwaukee until around 1971, “I had served the VA for about a year when my roommate asked me to join her on Project Hope,” said Pierce. “It was a hospital ship, traveling to foreign countries and give medical care to people in need. I donated a whole year, working in Kingston, Jamaica on the SS Hope.”

“I’ve always been an opportunist. When opportunities came along, I just went. When I worked at the VA, a group of friends invited me to a 3-week ski trip in Europe. I’d never went skiing before, but said yes, ran over to Little Switzerland to learn how to ski, and had a blast.”

Despite being almost 74, Pierce has never let go of her love of sports and you can still find her on hills at Little Switzerland in Slinger with her grandchildren.

”When they called me to let me know it was my turn for the flight, they asked me if I needed a wheelchair or cane. I was skiing at Little Switzerland,” Pierce said.

“My daughter, Tiffany Lucas, is my guardian for the flight. I’ve been to the memorials before, but I’m looking forward to the comradery with the other veterans on the flight. It’s great to be finally recognized for our service in Vietnam. When the war ended, no one really thanked us for our service or even recognized military members for serving. They really didn’t start thanking Vietnam veterans until 10 or 15 years ago.”

After the Honor Flight, you’ll be able to find Pierce at Little Switzerland or ice skating with her grandchildren. Once summer arrives, she plans on taking up water skiing.

Veteran, Gerald Gramins Sr., of Hartford to fly on Honor Flight | By Samantha Sali

Vietnam War veteran Gerald Gramins Sr., 80, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on April 6 as part of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born March 7, 1939 in Milwaukee, Gramins attended Custer High School and Boys Tech, now known as Bradley Tech. He then enlisted in the Navy on Aug. 22, 1956 at age 17. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Gramins said.

Once enlisted, Gramins was sent to Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Station for Basic Training. After graduating from basic training, he was transferred to Norman, Oklahoma. “I went for what they called AMP School. With that, I held an aviation rating for the Navy.”

From there, Gramins served aboard the USS Shangri-la, “It’s a CVA 38 Aircraft Carrier and I was an Aviation Guided Missile Technician,” said Gramins.

In 1961, Gramins went into the Navy Reserves until 1974 when he retired from the Navy as a 3rd Class Petty Officer.

He then decided to join the Army. “I was a machinist, served with the 961st Combat Engineers in Milwaukee. After a couple of years, I joined the 84th Division Army, stationed in Milwaukee as well,” said Gramins.

In 1992, Gramins retired from the military at the age of 53, as an E8 First Sergeant.

He and his wife, Dolores, moved to Hartford a few years ago, “We’ve been married almost 43 years, met at a country western bar. Dolores is somewhat disabled, and we moved here when a condo opened up by happenstance,” said Gramins.

Gramins and his wife were blessed with five sons, one of which is his guardian for the flight. ”I picked Gary to be my guardian because some time ago I took his twin brother to Norfolk, Virginia and now I figured it was Gary’ turn to go,” said Gramins.

Gramins shared that while he looks forward to seeing the memorials, he is most excited about spending time with the other veterans on the flight. “I’m looking forward to the comradeship. A lot of them are a lot more deserving than I am.”

Vietnam veteran Edward Patoka of Hartford on April Honor Flight | By Samantha Sali 

Vietnam War veteran Edward Patoka, 80, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born in Milwaukee on February 8, 1939, Patoka was drafted in 1962 at the age of 22.

Once drafted, Patoka was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic Training. From there, he was sent to Heavy Equipment Operator School and was shipped to Vassimcourt, France in June 1962.

“I was with the P Company, 97 Engineers and when I got to my outfit, they said us heavy equipment operators were a dime a dozen,” Patoka said. “They asked me what I did as a civilian and I told them I worked in an office. They asked if I could type and when I told them I learned to type in high school, they told me I was their new company clerk.”

One of the most memorable days in service for Patoka was Nov. 22, 1963. “It was the day President Kennedy was shot and a French man is the one who told me,” he said.

Patoka served in France until December 31, 1963 and came home on inactive duty for four years. “When I got home, I went right back to work and got in trouble because they thought I was on vacation. Everyone only ever asked me how my vacation was and the only people who ever told me, “Welcome Home,” were my family.”

Patoka switched careers and became a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service until he retired in 1992. He moved to Hartford in 1995 with his wife, Patricia, whom he married two years before being drafted. The couple had two adopted children, Elizabeth and John.

Their son John passed away in 2012. “He had medical issues and it was very sad and difficult. You never think as a parent you’d have to bury a child,” said Patoka.

“I’m still very busy. I work at Lincoln School three days a week, working with kindergarteners to 3rd grade. I love it and I have no intentions of giving it up. They read to me and I help them learn how to tell time or about money, whatever the teachers ask of me. The kids at the school call me Mr. Ed and come up to me, thanking me. They are proud of what I did and ask me things about the service. One kid asked me if I ever shot someone. I said no, and that’s never something that you’d want to do.”

Patoka said he’s looking forward to seeing the memorials and sharing the moments with the other veterans on the flight.

His son-in-law, Paul, will be his guardian on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, “He’s served in the Marines and he’s never been to Washington D.C. I thought this was a good guy to go with because I like him as a son-in-law, he’s a great guy, and he served four years. It will do him good to get away and see everything,” Patoka said.

Patoka admitted he waited quite a few years to sign up for the Honor Flight because he wanted to give other veterans a chance to go first, “I was an in-betweener, I served during the Vietnam War, but wasn’t actually there. My buddy told me I did what I had to do, so yeah, I guess I’m proud to have served. I might have not done much, but I did what I had to do.”

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Bob O’Rourke Apologizes for… Something

Heh

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CNN)Beto O’Rourke said Friday night that he had been wrong for joking at several events in his first two days campaigning in Iowa that his wife has been raising their three children “sometimes with my help.”

[…]
“So yes, I think the criticism is right on. My ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general. I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution,” he said.
Did you see what he did there? He is a douche who neglects his family as he roams the country trying to find himself, but instead of changing or owning his own behavior, he projects his behavior on everyone else and says he can be “part of the solution.” Um… how about you just be a better husband and dad, Bob?

Steele’s Sources

He could work at CNN.

Steele admitted during a lawsuit deposition that he used internet searches and unverified information to support details he had gathered about a web company mentioned in the dossier, according to select pages of his deposition transcript that a federal court unsealed this week.
But Steele limited his answers about how he verified information about the web companies who claimed they were defamed. He would not explain, for instance, what else he did or sources he used to verify information in the dossier about Webzilla, its parent company XBT and their Russian founder Aleksej Gubarev, who were named in the dossier. He did not have to describe during the deposition all the steps he took to collect or check the information because of terms set by the court.
But he could talk about web searches — and how he didn’t realize one article he found in his research was a submission from a “random person,” as an attorney pointed out, rather than a news report.

Clinton Attacked

Chelsea, that is.

Muslim students have berated Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosques massacre, saying she is to blame for the attack.

Clinton, who is pregnant with her third child, was attending the vigil at New York University on Friday when senior Leen Dweik began castigating her in an astonishing moment caught on video.

‘This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,’ says Dweik, gesturing to the vigil for the 49 who were killed in Christchurch when a white nationalist shooter stormed two mosques.

‘And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply – 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,’ Dweik continues, jabbing her index finger toward Clinton as other students snap their fingers in apparent approval of her words.

We live in strange times when a right-winger like me rises to the defense of Chelsea Clinton, but here we are. It’s a ludicrous accusation by the Muslim students.

I was impressed by Clinton’s composure and response. This is clearly not her first rodeo being confronted by ranting idiots.

Evers’ Delusion

What the

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday said he thinks his budget will come “close” to his campaign pledge to raise no new taxes, despite the fact that it would raise taxes by more than $1 billion over two years.

“I think we’ll be pretty close,” Evers said during an interview on WTMJ radio, adding that there might be some “small” increases.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted after the interview: “Is this a joke?”

Evers’ message on taxes shifted throughout his campaign for governor as he faced attacks from Republicans who argued he would implement massive increases if elected.

He told reporters in September that his goal was “to keep taxes reasonable in the state of Wisconsin,” but days before the election, he told the Washington Post he was “planning to raise no new taxes.” He repeated the claim on Nov. 4.

“I’m planning on raising no taxes,” he told WISN-TV.

I hope the Republicans help Evers keep his pledge.

Evers Stokes Division in Madison

Heh

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will sign a Republican bill removing the term “mental retardation” from five state agencies’ administrative codes even though he’s already issued an executive order that does just that, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Evers issued the order late Tuesday afternoon, stunning GOP legislators who have been pushing their bill toward floor votes in both the Senate and Assembly. The measure’s authors, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and state Rep. John Jagler, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, accused the governor of copying them and vowed to keep working on the legislation.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the governor would “happily” sign the bill if it reaches his desk. She said Evers believes protecting Wisconsin residents’ dignity is more important than who gets to claim credit.

That statement by Evers’ mouthpiece would sound noble if it weren’t for the fact that Evers specifically took action to get all the credit. And there’s the rub… Evers knew this bill was coming. He could have waited to sign it, have a nice signing ceremony with the lawmakers, and use it as a way to build relationships and bipartisanship. This was the perfect bill to do it.

Instead, he used it as an opportunity to poke the legislative leaders in the eye… again. Evers is showing over and over again that he has no interest at all in trying to work across the aisle. His is just going to continue campaigning and never shift to governing.

Legislature to Defend Life

Excellent.

The GOP-controlled Legislature is seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion laws because Republican lawmakers don’t have confidence Attorney General Josh Kaul will defend the laws adequately.

The intervention, which is pending a committee vote, reflects a broader strategy Republicans are taking to circumvent a Democratic attorney general they distrust to defend the state’s laws faithfully. Kaul in a court filing in February said the Department of Justice would represent the state in the lawsuit, and his spokeswoman previously signaled he would defend state law.

Republican lawmakers have already said they plan to participate in other contentious cases challenging the state’s political maps and the state’s lame-duck laws curbing some of the governor’s and attorney general’s powers.

Kaul has already made it abundantly clear that his liberal activism will trump (pardon the pun) his duties to defend properly passed Wisconsin laws. This way, we at least know that Wisconsin’s laws will get a robust defense. And if Kaul surprises us and offers that muscular defense, then it’s no harm done, right?

One Immigrant’s Experience

Usually when I travel, I’m the guy with my headphones on and the scowl that says, “leave me alone.” Last night was a lesson for why I should take those headphones off from time to time.

I was in Tampa for work, but had dinner on my own. I took a Lyft from Tampa to Tarpon Springs, the Sponge Capital of the World, to get some good Greek seafood. It was about a 45 minute drive and on the way back I got to talking with my driver.

Turns out that he is a Filipino immigrant. In 1971, he spent a year with a couple who bought a 41-foot Taiwanese catamaran to sail it from the Philippines to the U.S. There weren’t any good Loran stations back then, so they navigated with their sextant. The hopped through the islands, but ended up 400 miles off course and got stuck on a reef in Figi. He then went to Australia for a year as the boat was repaired. Then they sailed it to Hawaii and over to the mainland.

In the U.S., he settled in Florida and was a truck driver for 25 years. He worked for several years for a company in Minnesota, so he regaled me with stories about traversing Wisconsin.

He had been to 49 states, excluding Alaska, and had wonderful things to say about the warmth and kindness of his adopted country. He also waxed on about the opportunities in America and how it allowed him to raise his 5 kids into the middle class.

At a time when the news cycles are often filled with negative portrayals of Americans, it was heartening to hear one immigrant’s American experience and to remember that it is, by far, the common experience that has been attracting people to our nation for generations.