Author Archives: Owen

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Washington Co. Supervisors vote a final time on elected County Executive 

With two Washington County Supervisors absent, (Roger Kist and Brian Gallitz) the County Board voted for a second time on a resolution to change the form of government to an elected county executive, rather than an appointed county administrator.

It was June 12, 2019 when the Washington County Board voted 13-13 on a resolution to create a county executive position.  A tie vote resulted in failure of the motion.

Electronic vote above from June 12, 2019 meeting 13-13 tie.

Two short weeks later, the issue was brought back for review. On Friday, June 28 Supervisors Chris Jenkins, Russ Brandt and William Symicek requested a county executive resolution be placed on the July 10 county board meeting for reconsideration.

During the Wednesday, Sept. 11 meeting the County Board voted 13 – 11 to approve creating an office of County Executive of Washington County.

This means in April 2020 there will be a race for the seat for Washington County Executive. So far county administrator Joshua Schoemann has not indicated if he will run for the post. He said he’s going to take a couple days and then make a statement on his decision.

A quick look at some of the change in vote since June:

District 1 Supervisor Kristine Deiss changed her vote from an initial ‘nay’ on June 12 to a ‘aye’ on Sept. 11.

District 4 Supervisor Chris Jenkins, who requested the issue be brought back for review, voted ‘nay’ twice on the issue.

District 10 Supervisor William Symicek, who also requested the issue be brought back for review, voted ‘aye’ twice.

District 16 Supervisor Russel Brandt, who also requested the issue be brought back, changed his vote from a June 12 ‘nay’ to a ‘aye’ on Sept. 11.

District 22 Supervisor Rock Brandner changed his vote from a June 12 ‘aya’ to a Sept. 11 ‘nay.’

Moving forward:

A couple notes as the process moves forward:

Supervisor Jenkins – “I brought it back and then voted against it a second time because it still deserved time to do the research and get feedback but for me, I feel our electorate voting has pretty limited knowledge on county government. To me now laying this task on the people in the county to have this very important vote, honestly it scares me a bit. So now that it’s past there’s going to have to be a lot of education on what sort of role (county executive) this is. I also feel the difference in position is we will now be tasking the operations of the county to someone who wins a popularity contest. There’s a role for that in democracy but I hope we find a balance. Finally, I thought it was brought up initially because we lacked leadership. I love Joshua Schoemann (current county administrator) and if he decides to run that will be great but I worry about the monster we just created has just opened the position to anyone who wants to run. Education of the electorate is going to need to be done.”

Voting in favor of now changing the county administrator position to an elected county executive position means the county just violated the terms of Joshua Schoemann’s contract. It means the county will have to pay him $130,000 because of a violation of the original terms of agreement.

Schoemann has been on tour the past year and a half talking about the dire situation of the county’s fiscal health. He’s often compared it to “falling off a financial cliff.”

A question was posted to supervisors about how they could vote to spend $130,000 in taxpayer money in this fashion.

Supervisor Jenkins – “I don’t know. I didn’t vote for it.”

Supervisor Kristine Deiss – “That is a legal binding contract. But what would happen down the road? I don’t think you can equate changing this form of government into the dollar and cents because the supervisors knew that was going to be a cost but I don’t equate that to the decision that had to be made because the decision affects our future and how this county will be run and that’s the bigger picture… as far as I’m concerned.”

Supervisor Peter Sorce – “It’s all Communism. I asked one question, let’s bring in some guys from Milwaukee and let’s talk to them and they told me to go screw myself. That’s the kind of a board we have.”

On a side note: The County Board did not take up the POWTS issue. It was removed from the agenda as the county executive vote was expected to take up a majority of the meeting. The POWTS issue is slated now to be voted on at the October 2019 meeting. Early indications are it is being recommended to vote it down.

Fund for Lake Michigan awards grant to the City of West Bend for Downtown Riverwalk improvements 

Opening of the newly renovated Riverwalk on the east bank of the Milwaukee River in downtown West Bend has fueled excitement over plans to reconstruct the Riverwalk on the opposite bank of the river.

The concept plan for the west bank Downtown Riverwalk was unveiled last month. Improvements include areas for the public to sit and relax along the river, an accessible fishing deck, a kayak launch, and a new bike/pedestrian path under the Washington Street bridge that will link the Riverwalk trail in downtown West Bend to the existing trail north of Washington Street.

“The City of West Bend is grateful to the Fund for Lake Michigan for this design award. Our community prides itself on both quality of life and a strong downtown business district, so there is widespread support and anticipation for the west bank reconstruction,” said West Bend Mayor Sadownikow.

As part of the design, the engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) Inc. is investigating ways to address water quality issues posed by stormwater runoff from nearby streets, roofs, and parking lots that flows directly into the Milwaukee River.

The design will include green infrastructure to capture and treat runoff in the immediate area of the Riverwalk area. SEH is also exploring the possibility of incorporating stormwater treatment for runoff that flows into the project area from outside of the Riverwalk.

The Fund for Lake Michigan has generously awarded a $100,000 grant to the city to help pay for project design and engineering.

Fund for Lake Michigan Executive Director Vicki Elkin said, “The West Bend project is an opportunity to achieve long-term measurable improvements in water quality while supporting the City’s recreational and economic goals. We are excited to fund it and to see more and more municipalities address their development needs in a way that promotes a sustainable Lake Michigan.”

Designating State Hwy 28 as Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway

On Wednesday, September 11 state Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) and Representative Tim Ramthun (R- Campbellsport) along with leaders from Washington County gathered in the Senate Parlor in the State Capitol to introduce legislation to honor 9/11 victims and designate a portion of State Highway 28 as the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway.

Seventeen veterans from Washington County on September 28 Honor Flight

There are 17 veterans from Washington County participating in the 54th Stars and Stripes Honor Flight’s (SSHF) that will take off Saturday, September 28.

One of the oldest veterans will be 92-year-old Richard Mihalek of Germantown who enlisted into the Navy in 1945 when he was 17 years old.

Other local veterans on the flight include: Vietnam Army Kenneth Zimmerman Hartford, Vietnam Marines Thomas Kilcourse Hartford, Vietnam Army Dennis Marthaler Hartford, Vietnam Air Force Daniel Maciejewski Hubertus, Korea Army Clifford Conaway Jackson, Vietnam Army Harry Krueger Kewaskum, Vietnam Marines William Richter Slinger, Vietnam Navy Ronald Buechler West Bend, Vietnam Navy Leonard McGinnis Jr. West Bend, Vietnam, Army Paul Fellenz West Bend, Vietnam Army Ronald Hausner West Bend, Vietnam Army James Wollner West Bend, Vietnam Army Roger Kaschner West Bend, Vietnam Navy Bruce Post West Bend, Vietnam Army Michael Reseburg West Bend, Vietnam Army Adrian Krueger West Bend

Two Allegiant Airlines A320 aircraft will leave Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport at approximately 7:00 a.m. on flight day, bound for Baltimore Washington International Airport with 171 local veterans (and their guardians) ready to experience a full day of honor and thanks.

On that day, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will welcome 9 WWII veterans, 13 Korean War veterans, and 149 veterans of the Vietnam War.

Southeastern Wisconsin veterans who will be taking their Honor Flight on September 28 have a wide variety of service histories, including service as Vietnam War paratroopers, helicopter pilots, reconnaissance Marines, tank gunners and artillery soldiers.

After the planes land in Baltimore on flight day, the veterans will board coach buses to tour Washington DC’s WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and more. The day will also include viewing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.  A DC Park Police escort will ensure that the veterans do not spend time stuck in traffic.

Be sure to come to SHRED Day at Horicon Bank in West Bend on Saturday, Sept. 14 for ‘After the Honor Flight’ and meet local veterans who have been on the flight and those prepping to take part on September 28. The free event runs 10 a.m. – 12 noon.

“We are so honored to welcome another 171 local heroes to their Stars and Stripes Honor Flight,” said Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “Our veterans will join us from all over southeastern Wisconsin for this trip of a lifetime. So many of our oldest veterans came home many years ago without a true homecoming. We look forward to welcoming them home the way they should have been welcomed home decades ago. We are so grateful to our volunteers and our community for their support of our veterans and our mission.”

Prior to the September 28 flight, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown 7,018 local veterans on these trips to Washington, DC since 2008, and has honored more than 50 veterans locally who were not able to fly.

As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff and no offices, the organization is proud to share that $.97 of every donated dollar goes directly to flying and honoring veterans.

Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit Washington DC without assistance. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have taken well over 223,000 veterans to see their memorials.

Timeline of activities for the Saturday, September 28 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight:

4:30 am –Veterans and their guardians begin check in at Mitchell Airport’s main concourse

5:45 am – National Anthem and boarding entertainment by vocalists “Bounding Main”

6:30 am – Flights depart for BWI Airport, water cannon salute on runway

9:30 am (ET) – Flights arrive at BWI Airport, load buses for DC tour

6:30 pm (ET) -Return to BWI Airport, load planes for departure back to MKE

8:30 pm (CT, approximate) Return flights land at Mitchell Airport, veterans deplane for parade through the airport’s main concourse. The 484th Army Band and the Brookfield Central Lancerettes dance team will provide spirit for the Homecoming parade.

Active senior living apartment complex closer to fruition in West Bend TIF District

The development of a new active senior living apartment-style complex moved one step closer to fruition this week as the West Bend Common Council emerged from closed session to approve a purchase agreement with New Perspectives on the south half of TIF #12.

The proposed five to six-story active senior living apartment-style complex is being proposed on a 4.45-acre parcel on the south end of the former Gehl property just to the west of S. Forest Avenue.

RTN Development, LLC, based in Minnesota, stepped forward with the proposal. The purchase of the property is still being negotiated.

Nick Novaczyk, is CEO with RNT Development.  “This will be a market-rate rental,” said Novaczyk. “There will be about 130 to 150 units with underground parking.”

“With the purchase agreement we will now push our concept forward with regard to how big of a building, how many parking stalls, and other things to get this accomplished,” said Novaczyk.

The project, according to Novaczyk, is to be completed in partnership with New Perspective Senior Living, the very same organization serving the West Bend community with independent living, assisted living and memory care on Continental Drive.

That former Gehl Company property had been under remediation for the past 7+ years.

“We liked this spot in particular because of its proximity to downtown,” said Novaczyk. “Also, the access to the Eisenbahn State Trail, MOWA, and the riverwalk.”

The northern end of the Gehl lot will also be under development as the City announced an agreement on May 6, 2019 with RafRad LLC and Kinseth Hospitality with the intention of constructing a hotel and office building in the downtown on a portion of the 8-acre site formerly home to Gehl on the southwest corner of Water Street and Forest Avenue.

Novaczyk said the timeline on occupancy is expected to be “in early 2021.”

Hartford Union H.S. Mary Scherr awarded 2018-19 NFHS gymnastics Coach of the Year | By Teri Kermendy

Hartford Union High School (HUHS) is proud to announce Mary Scherr has been named 2018-2019 National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Gymnastics Coach of the Year for Wisconsin.

“I was very surprised and honored to receive this award.” said Mary Scherr.

Annually, the NFHS identifies and recognizes a coach from each state for significant achievement in their sport.  State level recipients are considered for NFHS Sectional Recognition.  National Coaches of the Year are then chosen from the sectional winners in which Scherr will be considered.

“Mary is an outstanding coach to our young athletes at HUHS and promoting the sport of gymnastics. She is well respected not only by the North Shore Conference coaches but also by coaches around the state. HUHS is very lucky to have Coach Scherr.” said Scott Helms, HUHS Athletics and Activities Director.

WBFD receives $169,090 FEMA grant

West Bend Fire Chief Gerald Kudek appeared before the West Bend Finance Committee this week to discuss acceptance of a FEMA grant.

The purpose of the FEMA – Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program is to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards.

After the extremely competitive grant process, FEMA has determined that our project for the Plymovent Exhaust System in all of our stations was consistent with the AFG Program’s purpose and was worthy of this award.

Diesel engines, used in fire trucks, produce a mixture of toxic gases and particulates from the combustion process. These hazardous vehicle exhaust emissions in a fire station are one of a firefighter’s most significant cancer health risk. It is essential to create healthy and safe working conditions by reducing these risks.

The Plymovent Exhaust System will eliminate this hazard from our fire station with a vehicle exhaust capture and removal systems. The automatic start-up and disconnect source capture systems are the recommended method for controlling exhaust emissions in our three fire stations.

The FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is a 10-percent match program.

The budget for this project is $186,000. FEMA’s awarded grant amount is $169,090.90, and the City’s portion would be $16,909.10.  The Finance Committee approved the request.

Aldi in West Bend to temporarily close for remodel starting next week

Neighbors in West Bend are going to have to change their shopping patterns as Aldi, 1114 S. Main Street, prepares to close for a month.

The store is undergoing a significant remodel and addition. It will close Wednesday, Sept. 18 and officially reopen October 25.

Clerks at Aldi are handing out the above coupon at the checkout register. The opposite side features $5 coupons* to shop at Aldi in Hartford or Menomonee Falls while West Bend undergoes an upgrade. (*The $5 coupon is only good with a minimum $30 purchase.)

More warehouse storage space is being added along with some interior refrigeration work currently underway.

ALDI Corporation, which has 2.5 acres, acquired 2.47 acres of land from the adjacent owner (King Pin) for expansion.

The site plan is for a 2,440 square-foot commercial building addition located on the west side of the building with minor architectural building alterations proposed to the remaining building.

In 2017 ALDI announced a nationwide “plan to remodel and expand more than 1,300 U.S. stores by 2020.”

Early plans indicate ALDI will spend “more than $37 million dedicated to enhancing stores in the Milwaukee-area.”

Gas station in Newburg closes until March 2020

Casey’s General Store, 432 Highway 33, in Newburg has closed temporarily.

“Casey’s is putting in a new store,” said Newburg Village Administrator Deanna Alexander. “The tentative plan is to open in February or March of 2020.”

The Village issued building permits earlier this year. So far, no building/design plans have been submitted to the Village. Work crews were busy taking stock out of the store/gas station this past Monday, Sept. 9. Neighbors in Newburg are familiar with how the store used to look, Tri-Par, before being bought out by Casey’s General Store.

West Bend musician wins New Horizon Award from US Polka Association

A young West Bend musician has received the New Horizon Award from the United States Polka Association (USPA). The award, which is the only national award for a young up-and-coming performer, was presented to Joe Heger at the USPA annual convention in Cleveland, OH.

The USPA is one of two major polka music associations in the United States dedicated to the promotion of the Polish genre of polka music.

The New Horizon Award is given to an outstanding young (under 21) musician who has demonstrated extreme accomplishment in performing polka music.

The USPA award was presented to Heger by Allen Bales, the leader of the Julida Boys Band which has played polka music in the Washington County area and beyond for the past 40 plus years.

Bales was Heger’s first trumpet teacher and ultimately became a great mentor and friend after he discovered a very young Joe playing along and twirling his plastic toy trumpet to the music of Hank Guzevich and his Polka Family Band at the West Bend Germanfest about 13 years ago.

Heger has been busy this summer performing with his own Polka Fusion Band and with the Chad Przybylski Band from Pulaski, WI. Since June he has logged more than 20 performances including Milwaukee Polish Fest and the Minnesota State Fair. Heger be at The Milwaukee Brewing Company and La Crosse Oktoberfest later this month.

Slinger Gridiron Club partnering with local businesses to build team success

Slinger youth football opened its season over the weekend and the Gridiron Club rolled out a partnership with new food vendors including Tony Herrera, owner of Angelo’s Pizzeria.

Bill Brewer, president of the Slinger Gridiron, said they’ve partnered with businesses before to enhance the club’s safety sponsorship and this year they’re trying something new with food vendors. “Angelo’s Pizzeria is running our concession stand this year,” he said. “Tony Herrera supports us with fundraising and our club supports his business.”

Aside from providing fresh food at the concession stand, Angelo’s Pizzeria is also donating 20 percent of the proceeds back to the Gridiron Club.

Herrera said he wants to be a good member of the community and giving back to the kids and the club is a win, win for everyone. “We serve fresh pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs and then we’re doing a 20 percent donation,” he said.

Slinger Gridiron proudly exists to provide the 5th-12th grade students in our School District with the opportunity to play tackle football.  We’ve worked hard to create a fun program that builds character in our players, developing qualities in them like leadership, teamwork, discipline and courage.  Our players learn that hard work is of greater value than natural ability, and that a competitive spirit and a desire to perform to capacity will help them succeed now and in the future.

Teamwork, commitment, and fair play are required, at all times, from all Directors, Coaches, and Players affiliated with Slinger Gridiron.

Germantown’s Anthony Roskopf recognized as 7,000 veteran on Honor Flight

There was a special ceremony at Mitchell International Airport today as 16 veterans from Washington County took part in the 53rd Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Korean War Army veteran Anthony Roskopf of Germantown was recognized as the 7,000 veteran to fly on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight out of Milwaukee.

Roskopf was drafted in 1953 when he was 23 years old. “I worked on a farm at the time in Menomonee Falls,” he said. “The farm is right where COSCO is today.”

Roskopf went to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for basic training. In July, rather than being shipped to Korea, Roskopf was ordered to go to advanced radar repair school at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. “While we were there a hurricane came into Chesapeake Bay and tore up the whole base and tipped our trailer over,” said Roskopf.

Roskopf then was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas however he worked mainly in White Sands, New Mexico. “We worked with a lot of highly classified material,” he said.

“Certain Guns”

Herein lies the root thought process behind benign tyranny.

(CNN)Let me start by saying this: I don’t want to take away all guns. In fact, I can’t think of a politician or gun violence prevention advocate who has suggested repealing the Second Amendment. However, I do believe it should be really, really, hard — if not impossible — for certain people to get their hands on certain guns.

Who are “certain people?” And what are “certain guns?” Today we already ban certain people from having guns – mainly felons and the insane – but we do so after rigorous due process is afforded. We do so because the right to keep and bear arms is a natural right that our founders knew deserved the utmost protection. That is why they protected it in the Bill of Rights.

When we loosen those definitions and suspend due process, we are on the path to tyranny. In Milano’s case, it is a benign tyranny rooted in the illogical assumption that access to firearms is a problem that needs to be solved. She’s a true believer who thinks that if only we could remove guns from our population, then we would be a safer society and that there wouldn’t be other negative consequences to such a situation. It’s a naive belief that is easy for someone to have who is protected by walls and armed security.

The problem is that once the wedge is created in our rights by those with benign interests, it can easily be wrested wider by those with more malignant intent. This is the same well worn path toward tyranny used in nations around the world for centuries. Disarm the population for their “own safety;” force them to rely upon the “authorities;” and then use those authorities to impose the will of tyrants. History is our guide and despite the fantasies of some, human nature has not changed enough that we would get a different outcome should we tread that path.

Federal Judge Upholds 1st Amendment

In what should have been the easiest ruling ever.

A federal judge in Green Bay ruled Friday that Northeast Wisconsin Technical College violated the First Amendment when officials ordered a student to stop handing out Valentine’s Day cards containing messages from the Bible, including “Jesus Loves You!” and “God is Love!”

Polly Olsen, 29, a Green Bay woman studying to become a paralegal, filed a lawsuit against the college a little more than a year ago and came to the attention of President Donald Trump, who invited her to the White House in March.

On Valentine’s Day 2018, Olsen was handing out cards with Bible messages to students and staff when a campus official told her she was violating school policy and took her to the security office. Olsen has said the cards were a family tradition started by her late mother.

“There can be no doubt that in handing out her homemade valentines to her fellow students, friends and staff at NWTC, Olsen was engaged in a constitutionally protected form of expression,” U.S. District Court Chief Judge William C. Griesbach wrote in his decision.

Griesbach ruled in favor of Olsen, awarded damages of $1 and ordered that NWTC not use a school policy in order to prevent other students from handing out similar cards or messages.

The NWTC policy in question is called “Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Public Assembly.”

It is infuriating that we have to even litigate things like this. The woman was handing out cards. If you received one and didn’t want it, throw it away. End of problem. The school did not need to insert itself into such a simple human interaction with its stupid and unconstitutional policy.

Woman Steals $100k From George Webb, Allegedly

Wow. How does that even happen?

WEST BEND — One West Bend woman is accused of stealing as much as $100,000 from a local business and appeared in court to fight her charges.

Pamela Hastings allegedly stole from a George Webb restaurant between January and May of this year. Police spoke with the restaurant owner, who said he found his daily bank deposits did not add up and realized some were missing entirely. The ensuing investigation led police to the 47-year-old, who was responsible for the bank deposits at that time. Hastings allegedly admitted what she had done verbally and in an apology to the owner. She was able to provide the missing statements and the information she gave matched what the owner observed, according to a criminal complaint.

When questioned by police, the defendant allegedly stated she was in financial hardship and turned to stealing from the restaurant. Hastings admitted stealing before the period the owner noticed money missing, the complaint states, but she could not give the money back because she had already spent it.

If you run a business, non-profit, charity, or anything else that handles money, never trust any one person. Check, verify, triple-check, audit, have multiple layers of sign-off, etc. Even good people get desperate and bad people will put themselves in a position to thieve. In this case, the owner caught it, but only after a lot of money was stolen over five months. If the owner had simply checked his bank account every day to ensure that the deposits were put in from the day before, he would have caught it much earlier. It’s a shame that you can’t trust people to do a simple deposit, but that’s the world we live in.

Iran Attacks Saudi Arabia

Iran attacked by way of their Yemeni proxies, but that’s how Iran always attacks.

Ten drones launched by Iran-backed militants sparked a huge fire at the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oilfield in Saudi Arabia in the early hours of this morning.

The fires at Abqaiq in Buqyaq, which contains the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country’s second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control since the drone attacks at 4.00am local time.

Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran.

A military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, considered an Iranian proxy force in the region, has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia run by state-owned oil giant Aramco.

“Hell yes we’re going to take your [insert scary-looking gun here]”

He’s not going to get elected, so perhaps that is why he is willing to voice what many Democrats actually believe. Yes… yes, they want to forcibly seize your guns. Which ones? That depends on how they are feeling that day.

(CNN)Beto O’Rourke’s best moment on Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate — which also doubled as his best moment in the 2020 campaign to date — came when ABC’s David Muir asked whether he supported a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.

Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said to raucous applause from the crowd in Houston, Texas. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.” 

The former Texas congressman defended that stance in an interview on CNN’s “New Day” Friday, insisting the issue would not hurt his party.

“It’s not a concern of mine and that’s in part informed by listening to people in conservative parts of America,” he said. “And folks are saying, ‘Look, I would give up that AR-15 or that AK-47. I don’t need it to hunt, don’t need it to defend myself in my home.’ They recognize this is a weapon designed for war, to kill people as effectively, as efficiently, and in a great a number as possible.”

Teachers’ Union Blames Declining Test Scores on Lack of Funding

I hurt my eyes rolling at this.

But Martin said they think a reason the data shows slipping scores comes down to funding. More funding for education can start addressing issues like overcrowded classrooms, he said. Larger class sizes mean less attention for students who need the help.

“When people say you’re just throwing money at the public schools it’s not just throwing money,” he said. “It counts to that one particular student who really needs the attention from the teacher.

But even with the lack of funding, Martin said that the fact the decrease is smaller shows that schools are doing “a tremendous job.” The Wisconsin Education Association Council also hopes to fill in some of those gaps.

Wisconsin spends more money on K-12 education than any time in the history of the state. It’s not about the money. But as long as people like this blame the money, we aren’t going to have the serious conversation about how to fix it. The result will be another lost generation of undereducated kids.

Test Results In

Is this good enough? Really? We have poured billions and billions of more money into our public schools and the result we get is a small, but steady, annual decline in performance. We need different answers. We need leadership.

Washington County to Have an Executive

This is a reversal from the vote in June.

September 11, 2019 – Washington Co., WI – With two Washington County Supervisors absent, (Roger Kist and Brian Gallitz) the County Board voted for a second time on a resolution to change the form of government to an elected county executive, rather than an appointed county administrator.
[…]
This means in April 2020 there will be a race for the seat for Washington County Executive. So far county administrator Joshua Schoemann has not indicated if he will run for the post. He said he’s going to take a couple days and then make a statement on his decision.

I support this move. As I wrote in my column a few months ago, Washington County has reached a size and complexity that it makes sense to exist in the American model of three co-equal branches of government. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we left it alone, but I’d prefer to have an elected County Executive. Now what…

There will be a scramble for people to run… maybe. We’ve never had this elected position before so nobody has really been looking at it. It’s a full time gig that requires some executive leadership skills. That doesn’t appeal to everyone. The obvious lead candidate is Josh Schoemann, the current County Administrator. Certainly nobody could argue against his knowledge of County Government. At the same time, he could be viewed as just part of the county swamp. Why bother having an elected County Executive if you are just going to put the same person back at the helm? Of course, all that will depend on if he runs and who runs against him. It’s going to be an interesting few months to see who throws their hat into the ring.

A couple more side points…

With this move, the county is violating Schoemann’s contract and will have to pay out about $130k to him. That’s a temporary expense and no reason to hold back from changing our form of government if we think that’s the right way to go, but it is worth noting. It would have been nice if they could have timed the change with the expiration of his contract.

Also, this is exactly the kind of attitude that frustrates me:

Supervisor Jenkins – “I brought it back and then voted against it a second time because it still deserved time to do the research and get feedback but for me I feel our electorate voting has pretty limited knowledge on county government. To me now laying this task on the people in the county to have this very important vote, honestly it scares me a bit. So now that it’s past there’s going to have to be a lot of education on what sort of role (county executive) this is. I also feel the difference in position is we will now be tasking the operations of the county to someone who wins a popularity contest. There’s a role for that in democracy but I hope we find a balance.

So… we shouldn’t have elected government because the people are too ignorant? That’s the same argument that’s been used against representative government by tyrants for millennia. As the saying goes, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms.”

UPDATE: Chris Jenkins sent me a note clarifying his statement:

I view the county exec as the day to day administrator who should come with some sort of knowledge and background to run this immense operation. That is why I was worried about electing this kind of position. I am obviously all for elected positions, as I have been in multiple roles myself. I just hope we now surround our county exec with the staff he/she needs to successfully run the operations of the County.

“overall shortages of economically attractive partners”

So if I’m reading this correctly, women who want a financially secure man are not feminist enough?

I hope you feminists are happy! You’ve finally gone and done it. You’ve throttled the supply of high-earning husbands, and now there are severe mismatches in the marriage market. Yes, I regret to report that a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family (there truly is a journal for everything) has found that unmarried American women “face overall shortages of economically attractive partners”. Women are looking for husbands with an income 58% higher than those of the available men.

[…]

I hate to say this, but Limbaugh does have a very tiny point. I’m struck by how many empowered women regress to the 1950s when it comes to marriage. They fight for equality at work, but still have traditional expectations when it comes to men proposing with expensive diamond rings. And the idea that marrying a rich dude is something one should aspire to is still very much entrenched in society. The rise of “economically unattractive” men isn’t just bad news for guys – it reflects poorly on us all.

Supreme Court Allows Asylum Rule to Go Into Effect

Excellent.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a request by President Donald Trump’s administration to fully enforce a new rule that would curtail asylum applications by immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, a key element of his hardline immigration policies.

The court said the rule, which requires most immigrants who want asylum to first seek safe haven in a third country through which they traveled on their way to the United States, could go into effect as litigation challenging its legality continues.

This is a very simple concept. If a person is truly in fear to the point that they are seeking asylum and safety, then you should seek safe haven in the first country you come to. If someone is fleeing Honduras, for example, and they traverse the entire length of Mexico to get to the U.S., they they aren’t really seeking asylum. They just want to emigrate to the U.S. That’s fine and there is a legal process for that.

Vaginal Fluid Transplants Coming to America

FYI.

US doctors are hoping to start offering women vaginal fluid transplants and have set up a programme to screen potential donors.

They believe some women could benefit from a dose of healthy vaginal microbes to protect against an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV).

The Johns Hopkins University team say they were inspired by the success of faecal or poo transplants.

Yes, I know this is a legitimate medical issue, but any story that mentions poo transplants gives my 13-year-old sense of humor the giggles.

Never Forget

Tiffany for the 7th CD

Cool. I appreciated Tiffany’s initiative and leadership in the state legislature.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, formally launched his campaign for the 7th CD today, vowing to be “the ally President Trump needs to keep moving our country forward.”

Meanwhile, a Wausau thoracic surgeon is now looking at a run, as is an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

Tiffany said in a statement the president needs a “proven conservative with a track record of getting things done,” touting the “tough choices” he’s made in the Legislature, where he’s served since 2011.

“I don’t plan to go to Washington looking for a fight, but I can guarantee I will never back down from one,” Tiffany said.

Swimming In Debt

I know it’s no longer popular to talk about this, but if there is one single thing that will kill our country, it’s this.

The federal deficit surpassed $1 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday.

The deficit presently stands at $1.068 trillion, though it is likely to be reduced in September as quarterly tax payments are paid.

“In its most recent baseline projections, CBO estimated that the 2019 budget deficit would be $960 billion,” the CBO noted. That amount would be $181 billion higher than last year’s deficit.

The deficit as of Monday was running $168 billion ahead of the deficit in the last fiscal year at this time.

While mandatory spending such as Social Security and Medicare drive the deficit, it has shot up under President Trump‘s watch following the GOP tax cut bill and a series of bipartisan agreements to raise spending on both defense and domestic priorities.

The CBO has called the nation’s fiscal path “unsustainable,” noting that payments on interest alone were on track to overtake both defense and domestic spending by 2046.

We have seen this scenario play out time and time again in countries all over the world. At some point, the debt becomes so overwhelming that there are only three choices:

  1. Massive cuts in spending to free up money to pay debt that results in civil unrest. It would be better to cut smaller now than just abruptly abandon things like Social Security in the future.
  2. Cancel the debt and leave all of the bond holders empty handed. This would destroy our nation’s ability to borrow while wiping out the wealth of millions of people.
  3. Print more money to pay the debt. The result is rampant inflation that wipes out the wealth and swamps the incomes of every American. This is the option most often chosen by politicians because it’s easier.

There is no good outcome to this kind of debt. It’s a nation killer.

Sensenbrenner’s final term

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

One of the reasons for Congressman Sensenbrenner’s success and longevity in office is that he never forgot his constituents. Every year, in good times in bad, in power or in the wilderness, in the heat or cold, Congressman Sensenbrenner could be found out in his district. He walked in parades, attended the rubber- chicken dinners of local organizations, worked through local festivals, enjoyed the county fairs, and so much more. There used to be a joke that whenever and wherever three residents of the Fifth District gather, one would find Jim Sensenbrenner.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will be justifiably lauded for his accomplishments. He has truly been an anchor for Wisconsin Conservatism for a generation and an instrumental part of Wisconsin’s history. But I hope he will also be lauded for never losing sight of the fact that he was, first and foremost, a representative, in the full and truest sense of that word.

Jim Sensenbrenner will have a successor, but he will never have a replacement.

Open for Business?

This is the kind of stuff that really annoys me. From this week’s Around the Bend:

The West Bend Plan Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan for 1610 W. Washington Street, formerly home to Pizza Hut. A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins was called before the Plan Commission to answer questions about parking, signage, and traffic.

[…]

Mario – What you’re seeing with this building is new for Dunkin and new for Baskin. This is a national brand that wants to make some identification, so you have the big slogan “America runs on Dunkin” or “West Bend runs on Dunkin.” The other slogan is a catchy phrase – in the past we’ve had situations where the facades become open and blank and the criticism is can you do something to break it up.

We break up the building with materials we see, and we are open – if it’s concerning, we don’t want too much going on but we do want something.

Sara Fleischman – I agree need to break it up but I won’t support the slogans. I won’t give my vote if slogan stays on the side.

[…]

Plan Commission member Chris Schmidt – I agree with Sara – not to add slogans on signs of buildings.

I get that the folks on the Plan Commission are doing their job by looking at plans and making sure that everything is kosher, but come on.

For a little bit of background, Washington Street (HWY 33) through West Bend isn’t some pristine real estate. It has its fair share of old strip malls, gas stations, older houses, empty lots, etc. It looks like any other street in almost any town in America. The property that Dunkin is wanting to replace is an old Pizza Hut that’s been empty and degrading for years. Like several old properties on that street, it’s just a dumpy old abandoned property with grass growing in the driveway.

So when a national chain comes in and wants to replace that dilapidated eye sore with a brand new establishment, I’d prefer that our city representatives say “thank you” and “how may we help you?” Sure, make sure the plans are safe and not a 40-story strip club or anything, but let them build the building they want. It’s their money and they want to spend it in West Bend. Who the hell cares if they have their slogan on the sign? It’s not the job of the Plan Commission to micromanage the aesthetics of every property in the city.

Stout’s New Digs

When you hear the UW System crying poor again, think of stuff like this and ask yourself, “did this improve education?”

A new fireplace in University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Merle M. Price Commons ties in the history of Dunn County with a gathering place for students.

The  10-foot-6-inch wide by 9-foot-6-inch tall natural gas fireplace is built from Dunnville sandstone, a creamy stone from the Downsville area just south of Menomonie.

[…]

Thirty-five sandstone pieces make up the fireplace, weighing in at about four tons. The hearthstone weighs 1,300 pounds.

The fireplace was built by R. J. Jurowski of Whitehall. The blocks were cut by Coldspring out of Cold Spring, Minn. It took workers about a week in August to build the fireplace, moving most of the pieces by hand and mortaring them into place.

“It’s difficult because sandstone is very fragile,” said Tim Abley, site superintendent for R.J. Jurowski.

[…]

Menomin Lounge will be open in mid- to late September, with other meeting rooms opening in mid-October. The work is part of an $8.5 million renovation of 19,000 square feet in the building, mostly the first floor and exterior.

Price Commons will also have meeting rooms named for area waterways including Elk Creek, Cranberry Creek, Gilbert Creek and two smaller meeting rooms named for the Hay River and the Eau Galle River, Witucki said.

Price Commons, built in 1967, also has new windows and sills. The new first floor features refurbished offices for the LGBTQ center, the Qube, which opened in April. There is a new main entrance on the east side as well as expanded entryways on all sides.

Milwaukee Proposes Sales Tax Increase

Do it! I love it when Milwaukee pushes shoppers to Washington County.

Milwaukee County leaders are proposing a 1 percent local sales tax increase that could be reinvested into the community through property tax relief and refurbishing the county’s aging buildings.

State Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, and state Sen. La Tonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, plan to introduce a local option sales tax to the Wisconsin Legislature this fall. If approved, a referendum would be brought to Milwaukee County voters in Spring 2020.

The proposed plan could bring in an extra $160 million in the first year, with more than 25 percent of that money projected to come from visitors and non-residents, according to the county.

Waukesha School District Proposes Massive Tax Increase

Yikes.

WAUKESHA, WI — Citing the need to cover the costs of a 2018 schools referendum, Waukesha School District officials rolled out a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year that carves out a roughly 11 percent property tax levy increase.

According to district officials, the proposed 2019-20 budget includes a tax levy increase of 11.35 percent. The tax rate per $1,000 of property value would be $8.51 compared to $7.80 in last year’s budget cycle. The increase amounts to about $142 for the owner of a $200,000 property.

I would note that the Waukesha School District, in a trend being repeated all over Wisconsin, has declining enrollment. According to DPI, they have 415 fewer kids than they did five years ago. That;s a decline of 3%. Yet they still want more and more money.

We have a major spending problem in our school districts. I think everyone understands that school districts can’t necessarily cut spending when enrollment declines slightly in a year. But when that decline is sustained over several years and the district is educating hundreds of fewer kids, shouldn’t spending go down at some point? And if spending declines in a district where the aggregate property values are steady or increasing, a decline in spending should result in a tax decrease.

And yet that never seems to happen. What is the breaking point? Will it take a 10% decline in enrollment before the school board starts to scale back spending to be in line with their responsibility? 15%? 25%? When can the taxpayers reasonably expect school boards to cut spending when enrollment is declining?