Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Author: Owen

Wisconsin Legislative Republicans Propose COVID Response Package

It’s not a bad batch of ideas

The GOP proposals, unveiled as members of the Legislature were inaugurated Monday afternoon, would bar mandatory vaccinations, prevent local health officers from issuing coronavirus restrictions for more than two weeks without other approval, protect businesses from lawsuits seeking damages for COVID-19 exposure, temporarily relax restrictions for K-12 students seeking open enrollment at another school district and require two thirds approval by school boards in order for schools to offer virtual instruction.

 

Other measures would grant the GOP-led Legislature authority over how future federal aid dollars are spent — something Evers has adamantly opposed. And they would prohibit the Department of Health Services from limiting public gatherings at churches and allow residents at long-term care facilities one visitor.

 

“We can’t allow an unelected bureaucrat to rule over communities like a dictator, picking and choosing what businesses should fail or forcing schools to be virtual,” Vos said, in reference to efforts last year by DHS Secretary Andrea Palm to mitigate spread of the coronavirus.

I’ll dig a bit deeper as we get more details.

 

School Funding Should Follow the Students

Here, here. Emphasis mine

Yet across the U.S., many school districts, especially those in large metro areas, still remain closed to in-person learning for some if not all grades and may not reopen at the start of 2021.

 

According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of parents in lower-income brackets report being “very” or “somewhat” concerned this fall that their children are “falling behind in school as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.” With thousands of students not in class, even virtually, and falling grades among those who are attending, who can blame them?

 

For taxpayers and policymakers looking for lessons in the pandemic, the utter failure of school assignment systems to provide quality-learning options to all students, especially the most vulnerable, is clear.

 

The quality and consistency of the education a child received during the pandemic has been dependent on the attendance boundary in which that child’s family lives. At the same time, so many of the issues plaguing education during the pandemic—and for that matter, the entire century leading up to the pandemic—are rooted in policies that fund school systems, rather than individual students.

 

Allowing dollars to follow children directly to any public or private school of choice is a critical emergency policy reform that states should pursue. Such a policy change is overdue.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Festival Foods is coming to Hartford. The story broke Monday night on WashingtonCountyInsider.com

“We’re hoping to start construction in 2021 with an opening in 2022,” said Brian Stenzel with Festival Foods.

The company is family and employee-owned and operates 31 full-service, state-of-the art supermarkets in Wisconsin. On December 18, 2020 it closed on the purchase of Hartford Plaza.

The location, 1201 Bell Avenue, and 1275 Bell Avenue, had been vacant more than four years following the departure of Sentry Foods to the west and Kmart to the east.

“We looked through numerous opportunities that come across our desk and we just saw the community as one that we could serve well with our store,” Stenzel said.

The grocery is expected to bring about 200 new jobs to the community both full and part time.

While Festival Foods plans to open in the old Kmart section of the strip mall, Stenzel said they are keeping their options open on the west side of the property. “We have no plans at this time,” he said. “We will look at opportunities for that space on down the road.”

This will be the first new grocery for the City of Hartford since Aldi opened in mid-December 2014 and Walmart opened in May 2007. Questioned whether the company is nervous about the current uncertainty in the economy Stenzel said building new store is always a gamble.

“We believe it is a good, calculated risk just because of what we have to offer,” he said. “We have great customer service and our model of serving the community with a clean, inviting grocery store is something we take great pride in.”

Although the strip-mall property has been on the market a while and is a bit set back from Highway 60 it does sit near, what some say, is a diamond corner with McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Kwik Trip.

“We always look for areas that have a lot of rooftops to be convenient for people to shop or a busy hub where people can get a lot of things done outside of grocery shopping as well,” Stenzel said.

While the news about a Hartford opening is settling in there was some rumbling about a Festival Foods opening to the south in Menomonee Falls.  Stenzel said “there is nothing confirmed there.”

The City of Hartford is unique in that its liquor ordinance prevents any grocery or convenience store from selling alcohol. The ordinance was passed to protect the mom-and-pop liquor stores in the community.

Currently Hartford has four liquor stores including Hartford Wine and Spirits on Sumner Street, B&S Liquor on S. Grand Avenue, Hilldale Liquor on E. Sumner Street, and Stop-N-Go Convenience Center.

Stenzel said the alcohol ordinance did not impact their decision. “It is something we will certainly work with the City and certainly obey any ordinance that is in place,” he said. “It is nothing that swayed our decision one way or the other.”

Hartford Plaza sold

The Hartford Plaza located south of Highway 60 and just west of County Highway K in the City of Hartford has sold. The Washington County Register of Deeds reports the two parcels, 1201 Bell Avenue, and 1275 Bell Avenue, sold December 18, 2020.

Equitable Bank sold both parcels to MKB Hartford II LLC for $925,000 each.

MKB Hartford II LLC is listed as “a Wisconsin Domestic Limited-Liability Company filed on December 4, 2020. The company’s filing status is listed as Organized and its File Number is M113433. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Kirk Stoa and is located at 3800 Emerald Dr E, Onalaska, WI 54650.”

Kirk Stoa and 3800 Emerald Drive in Onalaska is also the address tied to Festival Foods and Stoa is listed as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Festival Foods.

Festival Foods defines itself as, “A family and employee-owned company that operates 31 full-service, state-of-the art supermarkets in WI.”

The closest Festival Foods are in Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Portage and Oshkosh.

City Administrator Steve Volkert was informed of the sale by WashingtonCountyInsider.com

“Residents have been interested in seeing a new owner for the building so there can be a new use for the facility,” said Volkert. “We’re looking forward to what will come.”

There are currently three businesses operating out of the strip mall including NAPA, Cost Cutters and Edward Jones Financial.

Volkert said the old Kmart, located on the east side of the strip mall, closed in early 2016. The Sentry Foods store, on the west endcap of the strip mall, closed around 2010.

This is a 17.79-acre site with 150,000 square foot multi-tenant shopping center.

The property was initially listed for lease in September 25, 2016.

ABOUT PROPERTY – Located in a high traffic area, surrounded by many prominent retailers, this property has tremendous potential for all incoming tenants. Built in 1990, with a 7,200 SF addition built in 1998. Lot size is 17.79 acres, with 800+ parking spaces, Zoned B-2 (Community Business District) 9 separate suites ranging from 1,200 SF to 86,480 SF.  Located 5.5 miles west of I41

Volkert said the rumor mill has been running fast and furious the past year about potential incoming tenants.

“We’ve heard everything from an Amazon distribution center to Festival Foods,” he said. “Nothing has come before us or the Plan Commission.”

If a rumor about another grocery is true, can Hartford support four grocery stores? Hartford currently has Aldi, Walmart, and Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly (previously County Market).

“It is more than the City of Hartford to consider,” said Volkert. “So, you take a 5-mile radius outside of the city limits and that’s your market; if that is the case, they are obviously doing their due diligence for an additional grocery store.

“People may feel the City controls it but it is a lot of work done by the developer to research the community, the facility and the area and make a business decision that suits their needs. Blaming or giving credit to the City is not warranted because we haven’t been working with anybody.”

To add more fodder to the rumor mill is a job posting found on Google. While the post may say “Hartford” the location for the job is listed as Oak Creek, WI and then at the end of the post it also says “Hartford.”

Starbucks in Hartford

There appears to be a retail development boom in Hartford as a new Starbucks is expected to break ground in March or April 2021.

“Hartford is hot right now,” said Tom Hostad, executive director of the Hartford Area Development Corporation. “People are looking at what can come here and I do see 2021 as a good year for commercial development in Hartford.”

Real estate firm Mid-America posted designs for the new store at 1502 E. Sumner Street; the property is formerly home to the Clark gas station and car wash. That property was posted for sale in February 2019. It featured 8 pumping stalls, 38-feet for frontage on Highway 60, the car wash and convenience store. The building dated to 1980 and the assessment was $563,800.

According to Mid-America the new construction would feature a side-by-side development with Starbucks opening to the west with a drive-thru. There would be additional 1,800 – 2,300 square feet available for lease on the east portion of the building.

City Administrator Steve Vokert said the construction was approved in 2020 by the Hartford Plan Commission but “at that time they had not verified what beverage business it was going to be.”

On Monday, WashingtonCountyInsider.com broke the story about Festival Foods purchasing the Hartford Plaza. The grocery will be developed in the former Kmart location on the east side of the mall. The west endcap, formerly home to Sentry Foods, has yet to be determined.

John Dyke, commercial real estate broker with Encore Real Estate said, that intersection in Hartford is the “holy grail of commercial real estate.”

“You have McDonald’s, Kwik Trip, and Walgreens and if you ever want to find the best corner in town this is it,” he said.

Dyke said the properties in that area sat empty for a while for one reason. “Amazon,” he said. “Who is building a big box store anymore. There are a lot of empty storefronts including Boston Store and Macys but we were always confident a grocery would go in there.”

When the Hartford Plaza first went on the market Dyke said Festival Foods and Menards were at the top of the list. “Now that Festival has committed development will be attractive to a lot of people because it brings so much foot traffic or car traffic,” he said. “It wouldn’t be beyond the realm of doubt to see a Buffalo Wild Wings (not confirmed) because Hartford is underserved for any high-level dining.”

The Ponderosa is currently under contract with an accepted offer; however, the property has not sold.

Festival Foods has confirmed it has not purchased that property. Ponderosa, 1285 E. Sumner Street, was listed in late November and had an accepted offer, according to real estate agents, within 10 days.

“Highway 60 in Hartford is going to develop; they have very good population growth and the affordable apartments coupled with the industrial park makes Hartford really attractive,” Dyke said.

Pete Rettler’s record-setting fundraiser celebrating 27 years of running  

Pete Rettler of West Bend wrapped up 2020 in record fashion as he completed his 27th year of running daily and raised double the amount intended for the Wisconsin 9-11 Memorial in Kewaskum.

“I’ve been blown away by all the support,” said Rettler.

On New Year’s Day the newly minted grandfather pushed his 2-month-old granddaughter, Reagan, in a stroller 3.1 miles. To put a bow on the run Rettler also raised $4,700, far more than the $2,700 goal he set.

“We held a virtual event this year but I had 12 sponsors and we picked up $1,500 from 29 door prizes,” he said. “People were extremely generous and I received a lot of support from my colleagues at Moraine Park Technical College.”

Rettler’s running streak dates to January 1, 1994 and a bet made with a former wrestling teammate. The pair vowed to run daily for an entire year to return to their wrestling weight of 126 pounds. They both stayed true to their word and then Rettler took it to the next level and kept going – daily for 27 years.

Over that time, he has endured challenges such as kidney stones, a lightning storm and below freezing temperatures during Wisconsin winters.

“If there was a year my streak might come to an end, I thought 2020 would be it,” he said.

While Rettler avoided contracting COVID he was tormented by a couple injuries. “It was a hard year because this summer I tore a hamstring while water skiing,” he said. “It was sore but I kept running and when I started feeling better it popped again.”

A regime of ice and heat, wrapping and moderate running and Rettler, at 56, bounced back.

“I’m really very blessed,” he said.

On Friday morning about 30 people gathered at the Annex in Kewaskum to take part in Rettler’s annual run. Rev. Pat Heppe blessed the event

“I look at the world and God looked at all of us and said ‘there’s great potential here’ so He sent His son Jesus and told us how to activate that potential. This is part of that too, actuating the potential we have as human beings to make the world a better place and to go above any type of tragedy.

Paul to the Philippians said, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” and Hebrews talks about “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The beauty of this is God has a race marked out for all of us.”

Gordon Haberman, one of the founders of the Wisconsin 9-11 Memorial, said a couple words.

“I did a rough calculation and today would be the 9,855th day that Pete has put on his running shoes and braved the elements to keep his streak going,” said Haberman. “That’s amazing. This marks the second anniversary Pete has designated the Wisconsin 9-11 Memorial as the recipient of donations from his run.”

Haberman said it is expected construction of the Wisconsin 9-11 Memorial will be completed in mid-2021.

Record-breaking year for Enchantment in the Park                                  By Lori Yahr

Thank you West Bend for another great Enchantment in the Park season.

There were over 45,000 people who visited beautiful Regner Park, 18,750 pounds of delicious food was collected and given to Washington County pantries, and $45,355 was given back to local nonprofits who help setup, takedown and operate Enchantment in the Park, 2020.

A big shout out to our generous sponsors; West Bend Mutual, Seek Careers and Staffing, Schmitz Ready Mix, Westbury Charitable Foundation, Lynch Buick GMC, Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds, Strachota Family, Delta Defense, Midstate Insurance, Weasler Engineering, Jeff and Chris Potts, Kohler Credit Union, West Bend Friends of Parks and Recreation, Washington County Insider, Kilian Management Services, Pet Supply Plus, Paul and Karen Rice, Baird, the Chlupp and Hall Group, The Chris Chlupp Family, Moraine Park Technical College, Morries Honda, Johnson Family Foundation, Dave Baldus Family, and A & W Iron and Metal.

Thank you to all of our energetic group volunteers who helped setup, takedown and volunteer at Enchantment, Immanuel Church, WB Boys Basketball, Casa Guadalupe, WB Snowboard Team, WB Winter Guard, Slinger Kiwanis, Jackson JHawks Baseball, West Bend Rotary, WB East Dance, WB Sunrise Rotary, Slinger Allenton Rotary, Slinger SkillsUSA, WB Early Risers Kiwanis, Kohler Credit Union, St. Peter’s Youth, Menomonee Falls Rotary, Kewaskum Girls Basketball, West Bend Lightning Softball, WB Dance, WB Swim Club, Joel Schneider and team, Peter German Family, Jon Corbett Family, Dylan Moore, Paul Hayden Family, Moraine Park Electrical Department, Jon Schlindwein, Gary Wachs, and Jessica Schmitz and Kat Trago team.

Big shout out to our marketing teams, Epic Creative and Washington County Insider and a special thank you to the West Bend Police Department for keeping the traffic flowing and the West Bend Parks for keeping the paths clean.

Happy New Year to all. See you again in 2021!   The Enchantment in the Park Team

Man rescued after breaking through ice on Pike Lake

A 65-year-old man was rescued after falling through the ice on Pike Lake in Hartford on Wednesday afternoon, December 30.

According to Hartford Fire Chief Paul Stephans the call came in at 1 p.m. about a man through the ice about 400 feet from the beach area at the State Park. People hiking on the trail called 9-1-1 after hearing calls for help.

The Washington County Dive Team was activated along with Flight for Life via protocol.

“The man fell through the ice but he did not go below the surface so we were able to rescue him with our ice rescue suits and bring him ashore,” said Stephans. Hartford Fire and Rescue transported the man to Advocate Aurora / Hartford Hospital.

“He was alert and conscious and suffering from hypothermia after being in the water for 40 minutes,” Stephans said. One member of the Hartford Fire Department did suffer a shoulder injury and he is being treated at Advocate Aurora. There is no prognosis update on the firefighter.

“The ice is not safe yet,” said Stephans. “I know it is a great feeling for the ice fishermen to get out on the first ice but it is way, way too dangerous with the weather we’ve had through December and today was proof of the instability of the ice.”

Sharon Ruplinger retires after 47 ½ years with McDonald’s

After 47 1/2 years with one employer Sharon Ruplinger is ready to retire from McDonald’s and Kilian Management Services.

Ruplinger, a McDonald’s veteran, started in 1973 when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at West Bend East High School.

“I was there when the special sauce for the Big Mac was mixed at the store and when the Hamburgler crawl thing, bouncy fry girls and metal slides were in the outdoor play land,” Ruplinger said. “We had to shut down the play area when it was really hot because kids would burn their legs on that metal slide.”

As a teen Ruplinger had to know all the prices and the tax table, add by hand on a piece of paper, and cook by sight – not by computer.

Ruplinger started working behind the counter at McDonald’s when the store was located at 915 S. Main Street; currently home to AutoZone. That store had a one-window drive thru and the popular sandwich was the McLean Deluxe. She was there in 1988 when the uniforms were baby blue with polyester pants and a blue striped button-up top.

Ruplinger advanced within the ranks and worked as Steve Kilian’s assistant and local marketing manager. She was there when the McDonald’s offices were in the basement of the Kilian home to when it was in the Frisby House on the hill at S. Main and Poplar Street and now on

Ruplinger has worked for Steve Kilian and Steve Jr. ever since Jr. was 7 years old.

“She said my brother and I were running around as kids and my dad and mom were there so we kind of grew up with Sharon in our house every day,” said Kilian Jr. “It was very unique but amazing how it worked out.”

“She is the hardest working, most loyal person you could ever meet,” said Steve Kilian Jr. “She cares about everybody here and wants to see everybody succeed and that’s just a great quality and she cares so much and wants to do the best and she’s come to work every day doing that which has been outstanding and we’re just thankful she’s stayed with us for so many years.”

Kilian said the secret to Sharon’s success came from hard work.

“She earned the respect of her peers, both the people who work for her and the people she worked for,” he said. “She never would ask someone to do something she wouldn’t do herself and she was honest. That’s how people earn respect.”

Kilian Jr. said it was 2019 when Ruplinger gave her 1-year notice. “It was a very emotional moment,” he said. “She said she is always a phone call away and it was really important for her to have a replacement in place so nothing would fall through the cracks. She wanted to leave knowing everyone would be set up for success once she was gone and that’s a real special thing.”

Jane Sterr is one of the Day Ladies at McDonald’s who has also had a long career at the Golden Arches. She worked alongside Ruplinger. “That was when we had an outdoor play area where someone stole the full-size Ronald McDonald.”

“Sharon took care of a lot of parties and she kept the dining area clean,” said Sterr. “Sharon is awesome; she would do anything for you,” said McDonald’s Day Lady Karen Wentz. “Whenever we had any celebration she was always there.  Everybody loved her.”

Deb Swenson started with Kilian Management in 1999 and has worked with Sharon “forever.”

“Everybody loves her and she’s been crying for a couple days already because the feedback on the emails has been just tremendous,” she said. “Sharon will be sorely missed. She is very accommodating; she is the face of McDonald’s. She was instrumental in planning the Threshold Shamrock Shake Day and the teacher appreciation nights.  We did a fund raiser for Ronald McDonald House and Cars for a Cause. The Kilian’s are so generous and always giving back to the community.”

“I’m really sad. This is very sad,” said Steve Kilian Sr. “She was going to retire in August and then her husband was going to retire at the same time and she said she could then stay until the end of the year when he is retiring.”

Kilian said he had a million Sharon stories. “When I came to West Bend in 1990 and she was working for the previous owner she was pretty emotional about the changes we made and she cried then and now that she’s leaving, she’s crying again,” he said.

“I spotted her and thought she was capable of a lot of things. She did some bookwork for me and she became close to my family because she came to work at my house every day,” said Kilian. “She would sometimes babysit or throw birthday parties; she did what we needed her to do.”

Kilian said Ruplinger evolved from being a helper to being a consultant. “I would ask her opinion on so many things,” he said. “Her confidence grew and she was a big voice in our company. She got to the point where she did my thinking for me, she got to know me so well.”

Kilian credited Ruplinger with having great instincts. “She became the marketing person. She had no formal training but we learned the business together,” he said.

While Ruplinger’s career spanned nearly 48 years, the last 31 years were with Kilian Management.

“I am going to miss her tremendously,” said Kilian. “She’s become, not only a member of my company but of my family and she had a tremendous effect on my business and my family and I sincerely thank her for that.”

“I could not be more proud of the dedication and work ethic of 47 years at the same employer.  This is the last of a generation of worker devoted to their employer for life.   Also, having grown up on McDonalds cheeseburgers since they were a quarter, I hope my kids will realize that fast food can provide a lifetime of support to a family.  Sharon has her home family and her McDonald’s family, and only the time of day determined which she worked harder for.” – Scott Ruplinger (Son)

“My mom has been proud to be part of McDonald’s for her entire career.  I am grateful that I witnessed her strong work ethic and loyalty.  Her example made us better.”  – Kim Raschick (Daughter)

“We grew up with McDonald’s. From Mom bringing home the newest happy meal toy to breaking in the new play-places. Every birthday party we had was with our McDonald’s family at the restaurants. Looking back, I can’t think of a time when I heard my Mom complain about work. She loves her job and her co-workers. Her work ethic lessons have been taught to us and we will pass down to our kids.” – Kelly Bubolz (Daughter)

Ruplinger sent a note December 10, 2020

This email is to inform the business associates (which I will call my Friends) that I have worked with over the many years. I will be retiring at the end of the year from McDonald’s/Kilian Management Services.

My one and only job started on April 30, 1974. I have worked for McDonald’s for 47 ½ years with over 30 years with the Kilian’s. I’ve attached our Christmas card from this year with my 9 reasons to retire.

COVID has been rough with not seeing our Grandkids. Hoping after COVID I’ll be the Grandma I want to be. You hear when people retire how they will miss the people they’ve worked with. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart working for the Kilian’s is and was like working with my Family. Steve Jr was 7 yrs old when I started working for them in their office in their house. I’m so proud to say I was here to watch Steve Jr grow up and become a successful 2nd generation Operator.

My Assistant for many years Deb Swenson will be taking over my job and is your contact for Kilian’s schedules and anything else you will need.

Thank you for all the years of help and patience.

Sharon Ruplinger

Indiana County Repeals Anti-Hippie Law

Heh.

LaGrange County, Indiana, has repealed a 1971 law that was intended to block huge gatherings like the 1969 Woodstock music festival in New York state.

“I called it our anti-hippie ordinance,” county commissioner Dennis Kratz said with a smile.

 

The ordinance regulated large gatherings that lasted more than 12 hours and involved more than 500 people, The News Sun reported.

 

The law was recently dropped as part of an effort to repeal ordinances that have no practical use but have been on the books for as long as 100 years, especially certain traffic restrictions. County attorney Kurt Bachman’s research lasted three years.

Madison Government Teachers Are a Disgrace

Absolutely disgraceful. They do not care about the kids at all. And it isn’t even close. 94% would rather sit on their butts and phone it in even though the risk to them and the kids is minimal. And yet… I bet they are all finding their way to Starbucks, grocery stores, and other places.

The Madison teachers union is signaling strong opposition to a return to in-person learning, even as local public health officials haven’t reported any school-linked COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths and as some private schools that have been open for in-person instruction since the beginning of the school year report few major pandemic-related problems.

 

The Madison School District has also refused to release many details about the experience of a subset of students who have been receiving care and academic help in school buildings since September — potentially crucial information ahead of a decision on whether there will be a broader return to classrooms this month.

 

[…]

 

According to the results of a survey of MTI members posted to a member’s public Facebook page, about 94% of the approximately 1,000 teachers who responded opposed returning for in-person classes in the third quarter. Sadlowski declined to release the full survey but said the results the member posted were accurate.

 

[…]

 

Separately, Public Health Madison and Dane County reports that since Sept. 1, it’s identified 22 clusters of coronavirus transmission and 121 cases linked to schools, including two clusters at schools in another county. None of the cases resulted in hospitalization or death, according to spokeswoman Sarah Mattes

These teachers clearly don’t believe that they are essential.

Noted.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Remember that while you may not have full control over your circumstances, you do have complete control over how you approach life. 2020 was whatever you made of it. 2021 will be the same.

Make it a good year.

Pushing for a Meat Tax

Oh, fer cryin’ out loud.

Organic and regular beef are just as environmentally damaging, they concluded — while organic chicken actually results in slightly more greenhouse emissions overall.

 

Based on their findings, the team propose that policy measures — ‘meat taxes’ — are needed to ‘close the gap between current market prices and the true costs of food.’

 

Such taxation, the team said, would call for a 40 per cent increase in regular beef’s cost, but only a 25 per cent rise for organic beef, which is already more expensive.

So we increase food insecurity for lower-income folks while funneling more money into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats.

What is a COVID Death?

This tragic story helps illustrate the issue with COVID death statistics:

Louisiana Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died while battling COVID-19, suffered a heart attack following a procedure, a hospital official said.

 

The 41-year-old was receiving treatment in the intensive care unit at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport when he died Tuesday, the Monroe News-Star reported.

 

LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali confirmed Letlow underwent an operation related to the virus and later went into cardiac arrest.

 

“It’s devastating to our entire team,” Ghali told the paper, adding that he “had no underlying conditions.”

We all saw the headlines when they came out. Things like, “Congressman-elect dies of COVID-19” and “Rising Republican Dies of COVID-19.” But was it?

We do not know the specifics of why he was undergoing heart surgery. They say it was related to his COVID illness, but how? What were they actually doing? And given the shock of the doctors, it seems that they did not think it was a high-risk surgery. Clearly it was the heart attack that killed him, but is the underlying COVID the real culprit? What a bit fat guy dies of a heart attack or diabetes, do we say that he was killed by obesity? No, so why label COVID as the problem here? If someone has a heart attack while driving and is decapitated in the crash, what killed her? It gets complicated. An argument could be made either way by rational people.

In the case of COVID, however, we have defaulted to classifying ANY death where COVID is present as a “COVID” death. We see the stats where this is happening. COVID deaths are increasing while it looks like we have virtually cured many other previously-deadly ailments. People who were shot, drowned, had heart attacks, strokes, etc. are all mixed in with the COVID death statistics. Sometimes, they are called a COVID death even if they do not have a firm diagnosis but the person had “COVID-like symptoms.” There is a distinct preference to label deaths as being caused by COVID if the slimmest of connection can be found.

The question is… why? Why have officials all across the country chosen to default to COVID when declaring the cause of death.

Hint… follow the money… follow the power.

Evers fights for more government with COVID-19 bill

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week. Thankfully, this bill is still dead.

Gov. Tony Evers is urging the Republican leadership of the Legislature to pass his self-styled “compromise” bill addressing the ongoing health concern precipitated by COVID-19. Setting aside, for a moment, that Evers’ bill is not a compromise (hint: compromise bills are rarely announced by only one side) and that Evers has actually taken the Legislature to court over the legality of bills passed in a so-called “lame duck” session, let us examine the priorities of the governor during the ongoing health concern.

 

Evers’ bill consists of 17 provisions. Seven of the provisions are designed to expand government and/or reduce the government’s accountability to the people. Eight of them would make waste, corruption, and graft easier with taxpayer money. And two of them are regulatory overreaches that will wreak havoc on citizens and the economy.

 

Given Evers’ background as an educrat, it is not surprising that his bill begins with the absolution of the government education establishment from the strictures of accountability. Under his bill, government schools would not be required to administer pupil assessments and the State Department of Public Instruction would not be required to publish the annual school and school district accountability report for the 2020-2021 school year. Evers seeks to remove any evidence of just how much government education failed the children of Wisconsin this school year.

 

Ominously, Evers seeks to allow any state entity to waive in-person requirements until June 30, 2021, “if enforcing the requirement would increase the public health risk.” You will take note of the fact that no objective standard is given for what constitutes an increase to the public health risk. While this may impact things like court proceedings, Evers’ likely target it to waive in-person requirements to obtain official state photo identification and the spring elections. With this provision in law, Evers could provide a massive gateway for illegal aliens to obtain official photo identification and force the upcoming elections to be conducted 100% by mail.

 

The bill also seeks to funnel unemployment insurance payments into the hands of people who do not need it. It would permanently allow people who are receiving federal Social Security disability payments to also receive unemployment payments. Under current law, someone who is receiving money because they cannot work due to a disability is not eligible for unemployment payments because they are already being compensated for not working. The bill would also completely waive the requirement to seek work in order to receive unemployment payments until July 3, 2021. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at 5% and employers are again struggling to find workers. Anyone who is able and willing to work can find a job. Evers should focus his attention on fixing the unemployment payment backlog that his administration has allowed to languish for the previous nine months.

 

Evers is also sure to take care of the state bureaucracy. His “COVID relief” bill would allow state government employees to take their annual leave even if they have not completed the required six-month probationary period. Evers would lavish additional funding on the Department of Health Services and the Department of Administration while expanding their powers. The DOA would be given arbitrary discretion to shift money around to fund unemployment payments and DHS would be given a grand mandate to operate COVID testing and treatment facilities in perpetuity. The Department of Revenue gets a nod too with the arbitrary discretion to distribute grants to small businesses. The arbitrary discretion of any government official is an invitation for corruption.

 

Most shockingly, Evers would completely prohibit any foreclosures or evictions until July 1, 2021. He would do so without providing any relief for the thousands of property owners, big and small, who would be forced to completely pay for the housing for people unable, or unwilling, to pay their mortgage or rent. Should this provision go into effect, it will force a wave of bankruptcies for small- and medium property owners and force the prices up for people who do pay their bills. While one might be willing to grant Governor Evers credit for trying to stick up for struggling families, this measure is so breathtakingly stupid and destructive that no such credit can be issued.

 

Governor Evers’ bill is a mishmash of bad ideas interspersed with measures clearly designed to unshackle the state bureaucracy. Its only redeeming quality is that it will never pass. True to his character, Governor Evers announced this bill after a series of insincere discussions with the legislative leadership designed to give him the cover of having negotiated something. He did so while giving the Legislature a ridiculous deadline of less than two weeks during the holiday season to pass it. Thankfully, the legislative leadership has signaled that they will not be bullied by a duplicitous governor offering nothing but a list of destructive decrees.

 

The fact that Governor Evers is devoid of good ideas does not release the legislative Republicans from their duty to convene and pass meaningful legislation to help Wisconsinites who continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 and our government overreaction to it. They should start with universal school choice to allow families to escape government schools that failed so badly during this time, liability protections for employers, and prohibit state taxpayers from paying to bail out local governments that enforced more restrictive COVID-19 measures that crippled their own local economies.

States Prioritize Vaccine Rollout

Interesting

FloridaTexas and Ohio are among the Republican-led states forgoing federal vaccination guidelines to prioritize the elderly ahead of frontline workers.

 

While medical workers and residents and staffers of long term care facilities are being prioritized for vaccines in virtually every state, local leaders are split on who gets the vaccine next.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say under the second tier of vaccinations grocery store employees, transit workers, and other frontline staffers should receive the shot at the same time as those who are 75 and older.

 

But in Florida, Texas, and Ohio shots are being offered to the elderly first and frontline workers are asked to wait.

 

‘We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population,’ Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday, allowing people 65 years and older to jump ahead of essential workers.

I can see both sides. On the one hand, prioritizing the higher risk groups first makes the most sense to reduce the death count as quickly as possible. On the other hand, prioritizing frontline workers first gets those industries back to work faster. Given those considerations, I’d prioritize the most vulnerable first.

Update on Ammo Shortage

FYI

Hornady says that ammunition sales first spiked in March, when the company saw an 86% increase over March of 2019. That, in essence, wiped out the company’s inventory, and they’ve been making and shipping as fast as they can ever since.

“The stuff that goes out today was literally put in a box yesterday,” he explains. “We’ve made one-third more ammunition than we did last year. Unfortunately we don’t have an extra factory laying around or anything else. We’ve got ‘X’ number of people, and we’re certainly trying to add as much capacity as we can.”

 

Hornady also addresses some of the rumors around the ammunition shortage; assuring customers that there isn’t a government conspiracy to buy up ammo and keep it off the civilian market. Apparently some folks have even suggested that Hornady could be making more ammunition if they weren’t busy making t-shirts, but Jason Hornady patiently explains that the company actually buys their shirts, so there’s no production time being lost by focusing on fashion.

 

“We understand it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for us too,” Hornady says in conclusion. “Keep shooting, because we’re going to keep making more, we promise.”

 

[…]

 

Vanderbrink had to specifically say that the companies are not storing ammunition in “secret warehouses,” and that ammunition is being made and shipped every day in their factories. He noted that if the estimated 7-million new gun owners each purchased two boxes of ammunition, that would amount to an extra 700,000 rounds that would need to be produced. Factor in the ammo hoarding that’s been taking place for most of the year, and you can understand why the supply simply can’t keep up with demand.

Assembly Democrats Want to Continue Virtually

I agree with Vos on this one.

Assembly Democrats are demanding legislators be allowed to attend floor sessions and other meetings remotely as Republicans signal they will require lawmakers to conduct much of their business in person during the upcoming legislative session, even as the coronavirus pandemic persists into 2021.

 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, indicated on Tuesday that the Assembly may no longer allow remote accommodations, representing a rollback of COVID-19 accommodations allowed during much of the pandemic.

 

“People all across Wisconsin safely go to work every day and members of the Assembly are capable of doing so as well,” he said in a statement. “The Assembly will convene safely as other legislatures across the country have done during the pandemic. Members and staff are being asked to follow CDC guidelines, practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash their hands frequently.”

 

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and other Democratic members told Vos on Tuesday they want the chamber to continue current Assembly accommodations into the next session, such as remote-work options for staff and the ability for lawmakers to join floor sessions and committee hearings and sessions virtually.

First, Vos is right. People all over the state are going to work every day. They are doing so safely. We pay these legislators a full time wage and we, as citizens, have a reasonable expectation for them to put on pants and go to work. Perhaps they should lead by example for the rest of the state.

 

Second, there is value in doing this in person. Many of us have shifted to a more virtual work style through 2020. There are some good sides like saving on clothes/commuting expenses, save time between meetings, can squeeze more work into the day with that time savings, etc, but we also lose a lot without conducting business in person. Those hallway chats can be productive. Eating lunch together or helping a colleague dig their car out of the snow develops relationships. The infamous “grab a drink after work” builds rapport. Being able to read someone’s body language helps facilitate understanding. Humans are natural social animals and conducting complex negotiations successfully requires all of the senses to do it successfully. By being virtual, the Assembly is robbed of the social dynamic and people retreat into their virtual castles of dogma. The isolation of a virtual environment promotes distrust, linear thinking, and fear. Working with people on a screen is not the same as doing it in person. They become avatars instead of people.

These people are making massive decisions that impact the lives of millions. It is not asking too much for them to go to work to conduct the business of the realm.

Dr. Ron Remmel Announces 2022 Run Against Congressman Scott Fitzgerald

From the email and for your edification/entertainment.

12/29/2020

Dear Friends, or as I shall call you, Bloggers:

I am Ronald S. Remmel, Ph.D., and I live in West Bend WI (see attached resume).

Today I am starting my run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. representative from the 5th Congressional District (or whatever it becomes after redistricting).

Why so early?

* Tom Palzewicz, the previous outstanding Democratic candidate, probably won’t run again???

* Scott Fitzgerald (R) won the election, and will start work in Washington on Jan. 3.

* I am better educatged than Fitzgerald, with a B.S. from Caltech, a Ph.D. from Princeton, and professorships in medical neurophysiology at the Univ. of Ark. for Med. Sci., and biomedical engineering at Boston Univ.

* I have successfully manufactured medical electronics (eye movement monitors) for 25 years, and have sold them profitably to 5 continents, including mainland China.

* Fitzgerald (R) had been the WI Senate Majority leader, and had sued and opposed Gov. Evers’ pandemic policies at every turn. Fitzgerald even refused to call the State Legislature into session to vote upon the kind Governor’s proposals!!! Meanwhile, thousands of Wisconsinites died and hundreds of thousands got sick.

Scott Fitzgerald is not a nice person.

* Things got so bad here in Wisconsin that, according to my calculations (see attached paper):

Wisconsin was the first state to approach herd immunity!

* Trump is now virtually gone, but lots of little alt-right Trumpies are still running around.

* Science describes how the world works. Our students are woefully behind much of the rest of the world in education. We need to emphasize STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and biomedicine to prevent another devastating pandemic.

* We need to develop cutting-edge technology right here in Wisconsin such as AI (artificial intelligence), self-driving vehicles, quantum computers, and customized medical treatments based upon gene sequencing.

* With my experiences in physics, medicine, biomedical engineering, and world-wide business, I am the best candidate to bring state-of-the-art education and technology to Wisconsin–not stonewall Fitzgerald.

———————————————–

I plan to head off Alzheimer’s disease as I travel all around learning EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. Well not quite–the work of Congress is divided up into committees. I might be good on fusion research, or Mars, or epidemiology committees, but I am totally unqualified to be on the pork-barrel, or the lobbyist, or the penny-get-rich-quick-stock committees.

But I do know lots about fraud and scams because I wrote the book, “The Art of the Scam” (Amazon Kindle). Maybe I should be on the Federal Trade Commission or even supervise the FBI!

I have never to my knowledge told a lie in my adult life (but my friends will surely say, you forgot what you promised). But I won’t air all my dirty linen in public, either.

I WILL make mistakes, but my mother taught me to say, “I apologize; I was wrong.”

My jokes will be funnier than Ronald Reagan’s!

If elected, I have promised to take my girl friend Lorrie Meller to Manhattan on a $5,000 clothes buying spree (Sorry, I don’t have $100K like Sarah Palin spent when she was chosen VP). Then Lorrie and I can attend parties at the WH With Lorrie more stylish than Nancy Pelosi–ha, ha!

But I fantasize…

Two years of hard work to get elected. I welcome your support!

Prof Ron For Wisconsin

—————————-

Rules for this Blog:

Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas. If I am to effectively represent you in Congress, I need to hear from all of you. This Blog will help me to do so.

There is no such thing as a “Republican pothole,” or a “Democratic pothole,” only a pothole. Nearly all of the serious problems in America are nonpartisan.

IT WAS ABSOLUTE APPALLING TO ME THAT THE PANDEMIC BECAME PARTISAN.

There are not just good ideas and bad ideas, but sometimes only various poor ideas, like solutions to global warming. I welcome all of your contributions to this Blog–from the right and from the left–and let the other Bloggers critique them.

Actually, I have been carrying on my Email Blog for over a year, with hundreds of valuable contributions, even from 2 Canadians!

——————-

No religious comments. The Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof.”

—————————

No conspiracy theories. Support arguments with facts.

—————————

No personal insults such as, “Dr. Remmel, you’re an IDIOT!” That may very well be 100% correct, but try rephrasing it to say, “I disagree with you for the following reasons…”

New York Killings Increase 41%

It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

After two decades of gradually reducing all seven major felony offenses in the city, killings in the city jumped 41% from 319 in 2019 to nearly 450 as of Tuesday, according to WNBC 4 — the largest single-year increase in 20 years and the most killing since 2011, when the city reported 515.

 

December alone has seen more than 100 shootings across the city in 2020, according to data from the New York Police Department — in 2019, there were 49. 2020’s figures pale in comparison to figures from decades past. In 1990, there were more than 2,600 murders in the Big Apple.

 

In September, when the city surpassed 1,000 shootings for the first time since 2015, a Brooklyn police officer said it was time for Mayor Bill de Blasio “to stop calling New York the safest big city.”

 

Officials cited the coronavirus pandemic as a key factor driving violent crime and protests against both police violence against black people and lockdown restrictions.

2020 Predictions Review

For the past few years, RightWisconsin has solicited predictions from local malcontents and ne’er-do-wells. As I think through my predictions for next year, let’s see how I did this year. Now, to be fair, COVID really messed with some of them, but my predictions are worth exactly what you paid for them. Here we go…

Carrie Underwood will win the Entertainer of the Year award from the Country Music Association. If not Carrie, it definitely won’t be a dude after the CMAs took so much heat in 2019 or failing to honor a woman.

WRONG. It was Eric Church. I underestimated the CMA’s political correctness.

2020 will see the first major political scandal that results from a politician saying something stupid/racist/sexist/illegal/etc. that is recorded by a smart speaker and leaked.

WRONG. At least, I can’t think of anyone, but it will happen.

LSU will win the College Football National Championship.

CORRECT.

Preparing for the inevitable, the Green Bay Packers draft a quarterback.

CORRECT.

2020 will end with the Democratic National Committee still owing money to Milwaukee and Wisconsin for the costs of their convention.

WRONG. This is one of those that COVID messed up. If there had been an in-person convention, this would have been correct. As it was, they just abandoned Milwaukee completely.

Speaking of the Democratic Convention, Senator Tammy Baldwin will not be given a prominent speaking slot despite the convention occurring in her home state.

CORRECT. 

After Scott Fitzgerald wins a seat in Congress, State Senator Van Wanggaard is elected to be the next Senate Majority Leader.

WRONG.

Scheduled lock closures on the Illinois River will last longer than scheduled causing a small spike in corn and soybean prices.

WRONG. Hats off to the Army Corps of Engineers

Governor Tony Evers will finally beat his wife at pickleball.

I’m going to call this one CORRECT despite a lack of video evidence. But they played a LOT of pickleball this year. Surely he won at least once.

The United Kingdom’s economy will boom after they leave the European Union.

UNDETERMINED. Their economy sank due to COVID and it’s not possible to measure the Brexit impact in isolation.

Wonder Woman 1984 will be the biggest movie of the year.

WRONG. Well, as of now it’s wrong, but this is another one where COVID disrupted the results. As of now, Bad Boys for Life is the highest grossest movie of 2020 because it came out on January 17th. It grossed $206 million domestically. I would have to think that WW84 would have beaten that.

The Sprint & T-Mobile merger will pass legal challenges and be completed.

CORRECT 

Despite increasing the age at which people can buy vaping products to 21, more people will die from vaping in 2020 than in any previous year.

UNDETERMINED. I made this prediction based on the mysterious vaping deaths that were happening at the end of 2019. Remember that? Anyway, I can’t even find current statistics on this and death statistics from the CDC tend to take some time. I hope I’m wrong.

Finally, the wave of populism continues with the reelection of President Trump.

WRONG. The wave of populism has continued, but Trump was not reelected. Although, I do not have confidence in the election results.

Any suggestions for next year?

Improving Grades By Eliminating Bad Grades

Remember that the kids who are learning nothing in these schools will one day be your mechanics, doctors, employees, and maybe your boss. Let’s hope that the can find an education after leaving school.

The San Diego Unified School District, for instance, moved this fall to abolish its traditional grading system. Students will still receive letter grades, but they won’t reflect average scores on papers, quizzes, and tests. Under the new system, pupils will not be penalized for failing to complete assignments or even show up for class, and teachers will give them extra opportunities to demonstrate their “mastery” of subjects. What constitutes mastery is not quite clear, but grades “shall not be influenced by behavior or factors that directly measure students’ knowledge and skills in the content area,” according to guidance from the district.

Massive Property Tax Increase in Milwaukee

And they voted for it.

Across Milwaukee’s 15 aldermanic districts, the average assessment increased 9.14% from 2019, according to the Assessor’s Office.

 

Milwaukee residents also voted overwhelmingly in April in support of additional spending by Milwaukee Public Schools, and taxpayers are seeing the bill for the first time.

 

The school district can now exceed its state-imposed revenue limits by $87 million a year beginning in the 2023-24 school year, but it is ramping up to that sum by starting with $57 million in the 2020-21 school year.

 

The extra spending approved in the April referendum meant the school portion of city residents’ property tax bills increased by $1.60, from $9.58 to $11.18, for each $1,000 of home value — or about $240 a year on a home assessed at the median sale price of around $150,000.

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