Category Archives: Politics

Evers Recommits to Replace Jobs Agency

Yes. Only government knows how to do economic development. More jobs for bureaucrats.

Gov.-elect Tony Evers said Tuesday that after taking office he will propose to dissolve Gov. Scott Walker’s public-private jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

[…]

“I think it’s important that economic development be part of state government rather than a public-private partnership,” Evers said.

West Bend Mayor Weighs in on Dark Store

Nice story.

WEST BEND, WI—Kraig Sadownikow doesn’t look like an anti-corporate crusader. The mayor of West Bend, Wisconsin, stickers his pickup with a “Don’t Tread on Me” snake on the back window, a GOP elephant on the hitch, and the stars-and-stripes logo of his construction company across the bumper.

His fiscal conservatism is equally well billboarded: In the two hours we spent at City Hall and cruising West Bend in his plush truck, Sadownikow twice mentioned the 6 percent he has shaved off the Wisconsin city’s operating budget since becoming mayor in 2011, and stressed its efforts to bring more business to town.

So you might be surprised to learn that Sadownikow (he instructed me to pronounce his name like sat-on-a-cow) is personally boycotting two of the biggest big-box retailers in his town, Walmart and Menards, the Midwestern home improvement chain. He’s avoiding shopping at these companies’ stores until they cease what he sees as a flagrant exploitation of West Bend’s property tax system: repeat tax appeals that, added up, could undermine the town’s hard-won fiscal health.

Sadownikow is one of many unlikely combatants who have lined up against “dark store theory.” That’s the ominous-sounding term that administrators have given to a head-spinning legal argument taking cities across the U.S. by storm. Big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target, Meijer, Menards, and others are trimming their expenses in a forum where few residents are looking: the property tax assessment process. With one property tax appeal after another, they are compelling small-town assessors and high-court judges to accept the novel argument that their bustling big boxes should be valued like vacant “dark” stores—i.e., the near-worthless properties now peppering America’s shopping plazas.

 

Evers Promises Massive Spending Increase

As expected.

MADISON (WKOW) — Governor-elect Tony Evers is remaining confident he will increase funding for Wisconsin public schools by 10 percent despite GOP leaders having doubts.

Evers proposed a $1.4 billion education budget as the State Superintendent back in September when state agencies submitted their spending plans.

It’s a proposal he hopes to keep as the next governor even though GOP leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn’t seem confident last week. Speaker Vos shot down the proposal assuming it would only work if there was a massive tax increase to pay for it.

“It literally cannot be accomplished without either taking from some to give to another or a massive tax increase,” said Vos last week when speaking to reporters.

Evers said while visiting hundreds of students at a vocational training center in Coloma that it’s “reasonable.”

“My goal is to go forward with the budget I have… it’s property tax neutral,” said Evers.

Once again I will point out the intellectual bankruptcy of increasing spending on education for the sake of increasing spending on education. Spending on education has become a proxy for actually doing something and is a crutch used by politicians of both sides who have nothing real to offer.

People: “What are you going to do to improve education?”

Politician: “Spend more of your money on it!”

People: “How will that improve educational outcomes?”

Politician: “YOU HATE KIDS!”

And around we go…

In other news, notice the language by Evers… “property tax neutral…” The state doesn’t even have a property tax anymore. Education is funded with sales and income taxes. Let’s hope that Vos and Fitz remain strong and loyal to the voters in their districts who elected them.

KC Bailout Still a Bad Idea

Agreed.

November 14, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Joint Finance Committee of the state legislature is meeting today to consider a Foxconn-like incentives package for paper products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. The aim of the bill is to save 600 jobs.

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg issued the following statement on the plan.

“Wisconsin politicians are trying to have it both ways. They rightfully boast of a positive economic climate with an unemployment rate below 3% for eight straight months.  And they correctly note that this success is a product of getting government out of the way and letting markets work. But at the same time they are considering interfering with the market and paying Kimberly-Clark $100 million to save jobs when the top concern for Wisconsin businesses is a labor shortage.

WILL Director of Public Engagement and Policy Analyst Collin Roth added:

On principle, this plan is wrong. Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. The market and consumer choice ought to determine the destiny of businesses, not politicians. But given the state of Wisconsin’s economy, this plan is also unnecessary and counter-productive. If Wisconsin can’t pull back from corporate giveaways with a strong economy and a tight labor market, it never will.”

A letter of thanks to Gov. Scott Walker

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

Dear Gov. Scott Walker,

Like many Wisconsinites, I was truly disappointed to see the voters of our state decline to elect you for a third term. I can say with confidence that you have been the most transformational and important governor of my lifetime. We are all currently enjoying the fruits of your efforts with record employment, higher wages, lower taxes and so much more. While your accomplishments over two short terms number in the hundreds, if not thousands, I would like to highlight a few of your achievements for which I am personally particularly thankful.

I cannot begin any list like this without putting Act 10 at the top. In terms of transformational reforms, Act 10 ranks high. Not only did it put power back into the hands of local governments to serve their constituents without being choked by union contracts, but it also saved taxpayers billions of dollars in money that was being wantonly wasted. Thank you.

You managed to pull Wisconsin into the 21st century of civil rights by enacting concealed carry. As a matter of individual liberty, the concealed carry law is an important protection of our natural and civil right to keep and bear arms. It also has the additional benefit of allowing Wisconsinites to carry lethal force to protect themselves when the worst happens. Thank you.

Freezing tuition for all University of Wisconsin schools has a two-pronged benefit. First, it saved Wisconsinites thousands of dollars and made it more affordable for more kids to obtain a higher education. Second, it forced the UW System to economize — or at least think about economizing. Thank you.

I certainly am thankful for the lower taxes that you enacted. Lower income taxes and the complete elimination of the state property tax have helped my family and many others. Plus, lower taxes on businesses has had a positive impact on our state’s economy. Thank you.

As a hunter, conservationist and homeowner, I appreciate the new attitude that you engendered in the Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies. In the past, the DNR took an aggressive and adversarial stance with citizens in the enforcement of environmental regulations and wildlife management. Now the DNR works with citizens and businesses to help them comply with the law, thus leading to a better citizen experience and better environmental enforcement. Thank you.

The expansion of school choice to the entire state has been a tremendous blessing for families who were unable to choose a different school for their children when their children were unable to be successful in current public school — even if they could not afford it due to their financial circumstances. School choice has also helped shift the culture in many of our public schools to make them more accountable to the parents and children they serve. Thank you.

Persuading Foxconn to build their facility in Wisconsin was truly the culmination of all of your efforts to make Wisconsin a more attractive place for businesses to build and grow. The Foxconn factory and offices will be massive, but even more so all of the supporting businesses that are springing up. Foxconn is the largest economic development that you had a hand in, but it is only one of thousands of other economic successes blossoming in our state. Never in my lifetime did I think that Wisconsin would have more jobs than available workers, but we do. Thank you.

Finally, and I know this actually goes back to your tenure as the Milwaukee County executive, but every time I drive into General Mitchell International Airport, I am glad that I do not have to drive past a ridiculous colossal Blue Shirt on the side of the parking garage. Thank you.

As you ponder the end of this chapter of your public service career, I hope that you can look back with pride on what you have accomplished for millions of Wisconsinites and the generations to come. Your hard work and passion for the people of Wisconsin and your conservative principles have paid off. You weren’t just marking time. You made a difference.

A letter of thanks to Gov. Scott Walker

My column in the Washington County Daily News today is a letter of thanks to Governor Walker. Click through to read the whole thing.

Dear Gov. Scott Walker,

Like many Wisconsinites, I was truly disappointed to see the voters of our state decline to elect you for a third term. I can say with confidence that you have been the most transformational and important governor of my lifetime. We are all currently enjoying the fruits of your efforts with record employment, higher wages, lower taxes and so much more. While your accomplishments over two short terms number in the hundreds, if not thousands, I would like to highlight a few of your achievements for which I am personally particularly thankful.

West Bend School Board Considers Buying Property

The West Bend School Board will meet tonight to discuss the potential purchase of property for a new Jackson Elementary School.

Nov. 12, 2018 – West Bend, WI – During tonight’s Monday meeting, Nov. 12, of the West Bend School Board a discussion will be held on the “Potential land purchase in Jackson.”

According to the district website:

Topic and Background:

In approximately 2009 the West Bend School District purchased a 6.38 acre parcel of land on Jackson Dr. in the Village of Jackson in anticipation of reconstructing the existing Jackson Elementary. Since the purchased property was small for an elementary school, discussions occurred at the time between the district and village about securing additional land to the north that was owned by the Village of Jackson.

In recognition that the district was moving toward the building a new Jackson Elementary on the new site, the Jackson DPW moved to a new site and the Village began searching for a property on which to construct a new safety building to house the police and fire departments.

In early 2017, the district and the village agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to have appraisals done on the existing Jackson Elementary, Fire Department and DPW properties. Each party paid for the appraisal of their individual properties and agreed to exchange the documents. Each party recognized the importance of securing the additional property for any potential new school.

Within the last several weeks the Village has put in an offer on the site for the new safety building. The offer has been accepted and closing is set for mid – December. The village offer to purchase is contingent upon the sale of the existing DPW and Fire Department parcels.

Since a new safety building would not be complete prior to the sale of the property, the district would lease the fire department back to the village for a minimal sum. The village would be responsible for all maintenance and utilities associated with the building.

Rationale:

Regardless of whether the board decides to have a referendum in spring of 2019, the property to the north of our vacant land would make our property a much better site for an elementary building. Furthermore, the purchase of this property would enable the Village of Jackson to move ahead with their plans.

Budget:

Total purchase price $750,000.00.

More at the Washington County Insider.

So the School Board wants to buy property for a new building that they don’t have funding for in a district that has declining enrollment when they are already $130 million is debt.

Neat.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Casey’s General Store buys 7 Tri-Par locations  

 A family-owned business for 88 years has been sold. Watch as the Tri-Par gas stations in Washington, Ozaukee, Dodge and Sheboygan Counties take on a new look as the stations have been sold to Casey’s General Store.

“It’s bittersweet,” said owner Steve Gall, 56. “We think it’s a good fit for our 95 employees. They’re taking all seven stores and keeping all seven stores open until they’re remodeled.  I think we did the best we could.”

Steve Gall of Cedarburg owns the business with his brother Mark. Their grandfather Herbert was one of the founders. “The store has been in my family for 88 years,” Steve Gall said. “He started it 1930 and had a door-to-door route with a delivery truck.”

The Gall stores that sold to Casey’s General Store include the Tri Par on Highway P and Mile View Road in West Bend, Highway 60 in Slinger, Highway 33 in Newburg, Hustisford, Cedarburg, Highway 33 in Saukville and Random Lake.

“Casey’s approached us and some other people approached us,” Gall said.  “It wasn’t ideal timing because my brother and I are fairly young yet but it just seemed like it was time.”

Casey’s General Store has a signature look with a red shingle top and yellow-and-black signage. “I’m sure some of the stores they’ll remodel and others they will rebuild,” said Gall.

Gall, 56, said customer reaction has been mixed. “People don’t like change,” he said.

Casey’s is making a wave of acquisitions quickly across the state.

In January 2018 reporter Samantha Sali broke the story about Casey’s General Store a development in Hartford. That store on the corner of Highway 60 and Liberty Avenue received approval from the Hartford Plan Commission.

Currently Casey’s General Store has over 2,000 locations. The company has made a name for itself with “clean stores and friendly employees who pride themselves in customer service.”

Gall said the sale of the seven Tri-Par locations will close at the end of November.

On a history note: The family-owned Tri-Par stores have an interesting story. The post below is courtesy Steve Gall.

Tri Par was founded in 1930 by Herbert Gall, Clarence Gueller, and Jack Klein. The name Tri-Par was bestowed upon the business by a depot agent, as the men could not come to consensus and did not want any of their names on the bill of lading for a train car of gasoline. The German depot agent used the German word for Three, which is Drei , the English equivalent Tri, and Par as the shortened version of partner.

Mr. Gall, Mr. Gueller and Mr. Klein decided to go their separate ways after a year of working together. Herbert Gall continued to use the Tri-Par name as he went door to door selling fuel to farmers in Ozaukee and Washington counties. His business steadily grew and he opened an automobile repair shop in the 1945 in downtown Cedarburg. He installed a pump out in front of the shop to fuel automobiles. Herbert bought the northwest corner of the Washington Avenue and Western Avenue and built his first stand-alone gas station in the early in 1950’s. A second location was added in downtown Sheboygan a few years later.

The expansion continued. Tri-Par had eight delivery trucks on the road in the 1960’s.

Herbert had two – 200,000 gallon fuel tanks built to store fuel oil and gasoline. He bought motor oil direct from manufacturers in Pennsylvania. Retail locations were added in West Bend, Hartford, Manitowoc, Port Washington and Saukville.

Herbert sold his company to his sons in 1970’s and they started to add convenience stores and convert the retail locations to self-serve. They developed the reputation for having competitive prices and quality merchandise. They began selling gallon milk and had a stamp program that allowed customers to earn stamps for each purchase, with a full stamp book redeemable for a cash rebate.

Herbert’s son Robert bought Tri-Par from his brothers in 1986. Robert built the Newburg site in 1988, followed by Slinger and Hustisford. Each of these sites filled the need for a gasoline and convenience store in a small town located on a state highway. Most recently, the Random Lake store was constructed in 2004, the store on Hwy P in West Bend was rebuilt shortly thereafter, and the most recent reconstruction was Saukville in 2012.

Historic Downtown West Bend Theatre receives lead donation

Historic West Bend Theatre Inc. (HWBT) thanked the National Exchange Bank Foundation and the Barbara & Peter Stone Family Foundation for making a lead donation of $250,000 for the restoration of the iconic 1929 theatre in downtown West Bend.

“These lead gifts are essential for getting big projects off the ground, and these two foundations did just that with commitments of $125,000 from each foundation to our $3 million project,” said Nic Novaczyk, HWBT president. “We have lift-off and are now on a flight path to begin the restoration work in early 2019.”

The first visible sign of the restoration will happen shortly when Poblocki Sign Company takes down the perimeter-lit “West Bend” sign (the blade) and parts of the marquee so its refurbishment can begin. It is expected to go back up in mid-2019.

Adam Stone, a director for both foundations, said, “The National Exchange Bank Foundation contributes to strategic initiatives that improve the communities we serve in Wisconsin. We believe in ‘paying it forward.’”

He added, “The renovation of the theatre as a multi-purpose venue for the performing arts and community gatherings will make the downtown jump with new life. It is an excellent piece of economic development.”

Dolf De Ceuster, Vice President of Commercial Lending at the National Exchange Bank & Trust West Bend location, said the community enthusiasm for the theatre project has been heartwarming and played a role in his decision to refer the Theatre to the foundations to request a lead gift. “There has been an out-pouring of support for bringing the old theatre alive again. Many people have fond memories of going there for movies as children.”

Rev. Rick Stoffel receives Vatican II Award for Service in the Priesthood

Congratulations to Rev. Richard Stoffel of St. Peter Catholic Church – Slinger, WI and Resurrection Catholic Parish – Allenton, WI, who received the Vatican II Award for Service in the Priesthood. The celebration was held at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on Nov. 6. Looking back on his nearly 40 years of priesthood, Rev. Stoffel said the best part about his vocation has been “the people I get to serve.”

Rev. Stoffel is currently the pastor of St. Peter in Slinger and Resurrection in Allenton. He has previously served as the pastor of St. Joseph in Racine and associate pastor at St. Mary in Kenosha and St. Matthew in Oak Creek. “I didn’t want in any form or fashion to be fussy about where I went,” said Rev. Stoffel. “I always thought, if they sent me there, they must have a good reason, and I’ll do my best while I’m there. It’s about simply doing humbly whatever is put in front of you to do.”

Six people apply for Washington County Dist. 11 Supervisor’s seat

Six people have applied to the fill the Washington County Supervisor’s seat in District 11. In no particular order: Gary Kawczynski, Gerard Behlen, Christopher Elbe, James Merkel, Douglas Neumann, and Keith Stephan.  The opening in District 11 follows the resignation of Supervisor William Blanchard. The candidates will now interview with the Executive Committee and then a recommendation will be made to the full County Board. The seat, which carries a term that runs until April 2020, should be filled before the end of the year.

Pearl of Canton expected to open soon

Neighbors in West Bend have been anxiously awaiting the official opening of the new Pearl of Canton. The restaurant, 515 Hickory Street, is located in the old Sears and former Generations Christian Fellowship building in downtown West Bend.

Owner BeBay Luu purchased the 2-story building in 2017 and had hoped to be open in early January however, flipping an old retail outlet into a restaurant proved to be a challenge. Now, almost two years later, the new Vietnamese, sushi and Chinese restaurant is on the cusp of opening. This week lead contractor Ron Dibble opened the door for a quick sneak peek. Dibble said work is nearly complete in the kitchen. That project was a bit daunting considering the installation of plumbing and updating the electrical.

The new look resembles a luxurious Asian restaurant with high recessed ceilings and 6,000-square-feet of space on the first floor. The color scheme is rich burnt reds and browns. There are arched entryways and black string curtains to separate rooms. Some of the art features Buddha statues and paintings along with decorative wood dividers that set off table spaces closer to the walls.

Burial held for Bob Pick II

At noon on a cold, rainy, windy Sunday, Nov. 4, a burial service was held for Bob Pick II who died this past Feb. 16, 2018 at the age of 76.

Mother Mindy Valentine Davis from St. James Episcopal Church on Eighth Avenue in West Bend presided over the ceremony. There were about a dozen people in attendance including friends and family and members of the West Bend Baseball Association; former high school coach Doug Gonring and Craig Larsen.

Pick II had been an avid statistician for years for local high school sports. Pick’s ashes were placed in the ground in the columbarium outside the church.

As. Mother Mindy knelt at the base of the marked stone. “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ we commend to Almighty God our brother Bob and we commit his body to the ground. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him. The Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto to him. The Lord lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace. Amen.”

Funeral Sunday, Nov. 11 for 21-year-old West Bend man

The community of West Bend is mourning the loss of a young man who died in a tragic accident Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3. According to West Bend Police the white vehicle crashed at 12:15 p.m. into Good Shepherd School, 600 S. Pennsylvania Avenue. West Bend Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene and found the vehicle crashed into the school causing excessive damage to the vehicle and school building.

Officers found the driver, Aaron Backhaus, 21, slumped over and unresponsive. Officers and Fire Department personnel attempted life saving measures at the scene. Backhaus suffered serious injuries to his legs and head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Backhaus lived just down the street in West Bend. He was a 2015 graduate of the West Bend East High School. The driver was the only occupant in the vehicle. There were no other vehicles involved in this crash, and there were no injuries to any pedestrians. Good Shepherd Lutheran Pastor Robert Hein said the accident “was a shock.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Hein said. “No children were at the school when the accident occurred. We did have a man in the kitchen and a couple construction guys who were at the school; they heard the accident and were first on scene to administer CPR.”

“There was glass and concrete all the way down the hallway. You’ll have to ask police but it appears there was a lot of speed involved,” said Hein.

Hein said insurance adjusters are coming to view the damage and because the vehicle hit a pillar that holds up the roof the school relocated its preschool students and eighth grade classes until contractors can reassure them the area is safe. The vehicle, according to Hein, came directly off Pennsylvania Avenue. He said it appeared Backhaus failed to make the turn onto Indiana Avenue.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The funeral will be Sunday, Nov. 11 with visitation from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend.  A service will follow at 4 p.m.

West Bend School District considers property purchase in Jackson

During Monday’s meeting, Nov. 12, of the West Bend School Board a discussion will be held on the “Potential land purchase in Jackson.” According to the district website:

Topic and Background:

In approximately 2009 the West Bend School District purchased a 6.38 acre parcel of land on Jackson Dr. in the Village of Jackson in anticipation of reconstructing the existing Jackson Elementary. Since the purchased property was small for an elementary school, discussions occurred at the time between the district and village about securing additional land to the north that was owned by the Village of Jackson.

In recognition that the district was moving toward the building a new Jackson Elementary on the new site, the Jackson DPW moved to a new site and the Village began searching for a property on which to construct a new safety building to house the police and fire departments.

In early 2017, the district and the village agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to have appraisals done on the existing Jackson Elementary, Fire Department and DPW properties. Each party paid for the appraisal of their individual properties and agreed to exchange the documents. Each party recognized the importance of securing the additional property for any potential new school.

 Within the last several weeks the Village has put in an offer on the site for the new safety building. The offer has been accepted and closing is set for mid – December. The village offer to purchase is contingent upon the sale of the existing DPW and Fire Department parcels.

 Since a new safety building would not be complete prior to the sale of the property, the district would lease the fire department back to the village for a minimal sum. The village would be responsible for all maintenance and utilities associated with the building.

 Rationale:

 Regardless of whether the board decides to have a referendum in spring of 2019, the property to the north of our vacant land would make our property a much better site for an elementary building. Furthermore, the purchase of this property would enable the Village of Jackson to move ahead with their plans.

 Budget: Total purchase price $750,000.

A couple of notes:

-The West Bend School District owes about $130 million on current referendum debt. That debt is slated to be paid off in 2028.

-The referendum costs in August 2018 for a new Jackson Elementary and renovations to the high schools was estimated at about $50 million with an additional $35 million in interest for a total estimated at $85 million.

-Board member Ken Schmidt has talked about the interest costs being posted on the ballot to give a clear picture of how much the referendum would total. Board President Joel Ongert said in a meeting in August the interest would not be on the ballot.

-The West Bend School District last reported a drop in enrollment of 85 students.

-The School Board has regularly set aside $250,000 for the Jackson Elementary Fund, also known as Fund 46. During a meeting in May it was noted there was $4 million in Fund 46 however $2.5 million was designated for Jackson Elementary.

-Fund 46 would have been used to offset the cost of a future referendum involving Jackson Elementary. This year, for the first time since the fund started, the board approved setting aside $20,000 for the Jackson Fund. Superintendent Don Kirkegaard said they would see “how our budget is performing.” He said the district would look at whether to contribute to the Jackson Fund in spring 2019.

-During a meeting in August, Bray Architects recommended the Jackson Fund not be saved to reduce the referendum but instead to pay down debt.

-The West Bend School Board has held nine meetings since Sept. 10, 2018 but has not posted meeting minutes.

-In August the board discussed a new two-story Jackson Elementary.

-Over the summer the district spent $16,500 on a survey regarding the future of Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.  Only some, not all, of the survey results were shared with the community.

The West Bend School Board’s next meeting is Monday, Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the District Office, 735 S. Main Street.

Updates & Tidbits

The funeral is Saturday, Nov. 10 for Assistant Waubeka Fire Chief Bruce Koehler, 53, who passed away unexpectedly following a motorcycle accident Friday night, Nov. 2. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 824 Fredonia Ave., Fredonia. Visitation will take place at the church from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The Fire Department walk-through will follow.  

On Sunday Nov. 11, St Luke’s Church in Slinger will install Joy Faith as its new pastor.

-During the month of October, Bob’s Main Street Auto & Towing completed 31 brake jobs over and donated $1,765.11 to the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund.

-Holy Angels Students of the Month for September include Jeremy Dorow, Cade Kohnen, and Amber Georgenson.

-A special promotion is running at St. Vincent De Paul in Washington County. From Nov. 1 – Dec. 31 spend $25 at St. Vincent De Paul in Slinger, West Bend or Hartford and get a $5 gift card. SVDP is also having a 50% off sale on Nov. 17 at all three stores from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mattresses, box springs and bed frames are excluded from the sale.

-The Kettle Moraine Symphony will honor veterans during its concert Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at 3 p.m. Free admission for veterans. The community celebrates its veterans when KMS collaborates with local organizations to honor Americans who have served in the military.

– Tickets go on sale Nov. 11 for the amazing Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 11 at the West Bend High Schools Silver Lining Arts Center.

– St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception, 406 Jefferson Street, and St. Frances Cabrini in West Bend are holding a Women’s Morning of Reflection on Saturday, Nov. 17 following 8 a.m. Mass. The event is free however a goodwill offering is appreciated.

– Grab your family and bundle up because the 32nd Annual Hartford Christmas Parade is Nov. 10. The theme is “Christmas Lights.” Start time is 3 p.m.

– On Nov. 12, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. Fleet Farm will break ground for its new 190,000 square-foot store in West Bend.  The new West Bend Fleet Farm is expected to open in the Fall of 2019 at the southeast corner of Highway 33 and County Road Z and employ more than 200 people when it opens. This store will replace the existing store located at 1637 W. Washington Street.

Bloomin’ Art Best in Show

The 6th annual Bloomin’ Holidays event kicked off at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend with the Bloomin’ Best of Show Awards handed out Thursday night.

The event featured 25 floral arrangements. “We were looking for creativity and this was a hard decision,” said Eve with Roots and Branches. Event sponsor Allan Kieckhafer had a front-row seat at the awards.

The Best in Show was awarded to Michael Alt from Alt’s in Milwaukee.

“The inspiration for my floral design is a tradition of foraging botanicals that my father and I do every year during the fall and winter season. Our favorite treat is finding abandoned bird nests while we look for certain species of flowers. Each one tells a story and reminds me of how lucky we are that we can escape the cold weather inside a heated home while other animals have to migrate to survive.”

Second place went to Krista Roskopf from Bank of Flowers in Menomonee Falls.

Third place went to Jess Hartman and Cindy Kopecky from The Flower Source in Germantown.

Remembering the hand-painted mural at Timmer’s Restort

In October 2014 a hand-painted mural by Beryl Timmer was rehung at Timmer’s Resort. The mural depicts some of the common items around the property on Big Cedar Lake that Beryl treasured. Below is the original article that ran in Around the Bend on Oct. 6, 2014.

This hand-painted mural was created over a series of months in 1953 by Beryl Timmer. A city girl, she married her husband John and took over operation of the 12-room Timmer’s Hotel in 1940.

The mural, originally 36-feet long, was designed to hang over the bar at Timmer’s. “She wanted to put the painting along the longest wall, in the back of the bar up near the ceiling,” said daughter Barbara Timmer Jaeger.

In her late 30s, when she began painting, Beryl normally worked on the mural in winter when the hotel was not open to guests and people rarely held parties.

“She had pieces of the mural spread out on the dining room floor of Timmer’s Big Cedar Lake Resort,” Jaeger said. “She needed the space. It was easier than having it on an easel but she always warned my brother Jack and me to be careful we did not step on any of it.”

A hobby painter, the inspiration behind Beryl’s folk art was captured from old black-and-white post cards of the resort.

A palate of dark greens and browns was used to follow the progression of construction at the lake starting in 1864 with a little log cabin farm house and a walkway to a small red barn. “The property was located closer to the creek on Big Cedar Lake,” Jaeger said.

A simple split-rail fence is a common theme in Beryl’s painting along with mature trees of cedar, maple and oak surrounded by waves of thick, green grass.

Jaeger noted the “little things” her mother wove between the color pictures. “There was a gold outline of a pitcher and bowl used in the hotel and annex; that was back before running water,” she said. Other items include an old clock, a content owl, and a Blanding’s turtle.

Midway through the mural, Beryl notes the development of cottages with chimneys that soon expand to a grand three-story home with covered porch. Comfortable details include black ivy creeping up a door frame and the barrel of a water tower overlooking the red-roofed cottage. Items outlined in gold include a surrey with a canopy top, a bi-level cast iron stove, water pump, four-legged stool, and a vintage farm mailbox.

Daily items that made up Beryl’s life at the resort were also featured including a chicken and egg, high-heeled buttoned boots, a hand-crank coffee grinder, and a glass lantern.

The 1901 vignette highlights the Pebbly Beach house with canoes and a pier in the waters of Big Cedar Lake. The cozy lakeside setting also includes long underwear flapping on the wash line, a happy frog on a lily pad, small animals that could be seen from the kitchen window, and three fish arching out of the water.

Age and the elements have started to take a toll on the painting. The warm, rich colors have started to craze and crack. The original colors can still be seen on the top and bottom sections as those pieces were covered by molding when the painting hung above the back bar.

Beryl’s painting was rescued prior to the 2008–2009 remodel of Timmer’s by George and Judi Prescott. The mural has now returned home with the beer barrel chandeliers and large stone fireplaces, helping preserve the flavor of the 150-year-old lake resort.

To read more about the history of Timmer’s and Big Cedar Lake pick up a copy of Barbara Johnson’s book “Timmer’s Resort at Big Cedar Lake… a journey through time.”

Find local news for free 7 days a week at WashingtonCountyInsider.com

Republicans Evaluate Re-balancing Power in Madison

Ehhhhh

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’d be open to looking at taking away some authority from the executive branch.

“Maybe we made some mistakes giving too much power to Governor Walker,” Vos told reporters in the state Capitol Wednesday. “I’d be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change.”

Vos emphasized he’ll first need to meet with Fitzgerald to determine whether to “rebalance” power in the statehouse.

A aide for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the lawmaker was open to the suggestion, and it would be discussed in caucus today.

As a matter of good governmental structure, I would like to see more power centered in the legislative branch and less in the executive branch. Wisconsin’s governor is very powerful compared to most other governors and pulling some of that power back into the legislature would be a good thing.

There is, however, a time and a place. This would have been an interesting initiative this Spring when we could discuss it as a matter of good government. Doing it now just looks like a power grab because Evers won.

My hope is that this is just a signal from Vos and Fitzgerald that they intend to govern with a spine and represent the views of the voters who elected them.

Governing is harder with diverse opinions

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. Given the election results, it seems well-timed.

Now that this election season is coming to a close, our soon-to-be newly elected, or re-elected, Wisconsin politicians must turn their attention to solving our state’s problems. If they think that this political campaign was hard, governing a state with such diverse opinions is harder.

Throughout the campaign, Wisconsinites have repeatedly called out the issues that need attention. Wisconsinites consistently identify education and the economy as top issues of concern. Unfortunately, most polls do not delve deep enough into the issues to uncover precisely what the perceived problems are that need addressing, but it can safely be assumed that Wisconsinites want a great education for their kids and a great economy.

When it comes to education, Wisconsinites rightly want our kids to get the best possible education at a cost that we can afford. In the most recent round of test results released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, less than half of students in third grade through eighth grade are proficient or better in English/language arts or math, and the average composite ACT score for 11th graders was 19.8. These statistics have been consistent for the past several years.

Interpreting test results always depends on one’s perspective, but the general perception is that Wisconsin’s education establishment can do a better job of educating our kids than that. Unfortunately, we have allowed politicians of both parties to fall into the lazy rhetorical position of substituting spending with accomplishments. Spending more money on education does not lead to better outcomes. If that were the case, then we would see it in the test results when we spend more. In fact, the kids who attend choice schools, which generally spend less per student than public schools, achieved higher test scores on average than the kids who attend public schools.

Instead of focusing on how much more we can spend on education, our politicians should advance policies designed to actually improve education. For example, if we look around the world at other educational systems that have better outcomes, they offer some insight into how to do things differently. In some countries, the curriculum is narrower, but deeper. The schools put all of their efforts into ensuring that the students have a deep understanding of core subjects instead of spending time on a more “wellrounded” education. Other school systems have also moved to all-year school to maintain momentum throughout the year. Still others have been aggressive in making sure that disruptive students are removed from the classroom to ensure a quality learning environment for the other students.

In short, in seeking policy prescriptions to improve education, Wisconsin’s politicians should be advancing actual data-driven ideas. Throwing more money into the same education machine expecting different results is lunacy.

When it comes to the economy, there is no dispute that it is booming in Wisconsin. Unemployment is hovering at a record low. Wages are increasing. Wisconsin’s historic economic engines, like manufacturing and agriculture, are strengthening again. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is attracting and growing new economic pillars like high-tech manufacturing and biotech. The biggest problem Wisconsin has right now is that there are more jobs than qualified people to fill them.

Economies are naturally complex and the reasons for the current boom are myriad. The policies and attitude of Wisconsin’s state government over the past few years can certainly claim some credit. Lower taxes, state agencies that strive to work with businesses, regulatory reforms, stable state finances, and a quality transportation infrastructure have all created an environment in which businesses can succeed.

When it comes to the economy, as with most things, the best government is the least government. As the state’s politicians enter the new year, they must not act to disrupt the economic policies that are working by introducing higher taxes, more regulations, or fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses. Instead, they should focus on the economic issues that need addressing, like attracting more workers to move to Wisconsin.

Most of all, as Wisconsin’s freshly elected politicians settle into their jobs, they must remember that not every problem requires a government solution. Most of the time, the best solution is for government to get out of the way.

Governing is harder with diverse opinions

My column is in the Washington County Daily News today. First, go vote. Second, tomorrow we have to start governing again. Here’s a taste.

When it comes to the economy, as with most things, the best government is the least government. As the state’s politicians enter the new year, they must not act to disrupt the economic policies that are working by introducing higher taxes, more regulations, or fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses. Instead, they should focus on the economic issues that need addressing, like attracting more workers to move to Wisconsin.

Most of all, as Wisconsin’s freshly elected politicians settle into their jobs, they must remember that not every problem requires a government solution. Most of the time, the best solution is for government to get out of the way.

Evers Says he Won’t Raise Taxes

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Evers, it’s that he still isn’t used to people actually listening to what he says. He seems to just say whatever he thinks is convenient to the person he’s currently talking to – apparently unmoored by his previous statements or actual thoughts and intentions. If you believe that Evers won’t raise taxes if he’s elected, I have a bridge to sell you… brand new!

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrat Tony Evers, who has said he would consider raising the gas tax if elected governor of Wisconsin and has campaigned on ending a tax break primarily benefiting manufacturers, told a newspaper that he’s not planning to raise any taxes.

Evers, the state schools superintendent, is challenging Republican Gov. Scott Walker, with the most recent poll showing the race tied. Walker has vowed not to raise taxes. Evers has been open to a variety of tax hikes while vowing to cut income taxes for the middle class by 10 percent.

Evers planned to pay for that tax cut with $300 million gained by eliminating the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit program, a move Walker has cast as a tax increase on beneficiaries of the program.

But in a Washington Post story published Thursday, Evers said, “I’m planning to raise no taxes.”

Evers spokesman Sam Lau offered little clarity Friday on the contradiction. Lau said that Evers was referring only to his plan for the middle-class tax cut.

“Those details have not changed,” Lau said.

Election Predictions

Right Wisconsin is out with their pundit panel of predictions. I’m horrible at predictions, but I am feeling optimistic about tomorrow’s results. Perhaps that optimism is irrational, but I’m in line with this prediction:

James Wigderson: Looking into the crystal martini pitcher, I think my prediction from the beginning of the year stands. Governor Scott Walker will win narrowly despite the last-minute claim by Tony Evers he will not raise taxes. Looking at the right track – wrong track numbers, it’s hard to see a scenario where Walker loses.

Unfortunately, Walker’s win is too narrow to help state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). The hope that a Republican woman candidate could negate the gender gap has not borne out and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), one of the most liberal U.S. Senators, will win re-election pretty handily. Republicans will wonder how they let Baldwin win.

Attorney General Brad Schimel will actually have the best night of the GOP candidates, getting a higher percentage of the vote than Walker. Josh Kaul will move to Washington after the election. Democrat Sarah Godlewski will defeat Republican Travis Hartwig for state treasurer.

In other races, voters in the 1st congressional district will reject Randy Bryce, leaving Democrats to wonder why they nominated the wrong candidate. Every other member of Congress from Wisconsin wins re-election, including Rep. Glenn Grothman. Republicans hold onto the Wisconsin Senate by one vote and lose four Assembly seats. Former state Rep. André Jacque is unsuccessful in his attempt to defeat Sen. Caleb Frostman, but state Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) prevails in the ugliest election of this cycle.

Then again, Wiggy is almost as bad as I am at predictions.

UW Issues Voting Cards Without Verifying Citizenship

Win at all costs

For the state’s voter ID requirement, student ID cards don’t count, because they don’t have an expiration date. And so, any student can go to the union, present their student ID, and get a special student voter ID card.

When the university introduced the cards in 2016, Chancellor Rebecca Blank claimed, “For those non-Wisconsin students who are U.S. citizens but who don’t have a passport, the university will provide a voter ID card that complies with state law.”

However, as MacIver News discovered, the university makes no attempt to confirm students are U.S. citizens before providing them with voter ID cards.

After receiving the letter and ID card, students still need to officially register before they can vote. The university warns students they have to be 18 and a US citizen to vote.

Trump and Birthright Citizenship

Eh

In an interview with “Axios on HBO” scheduled to air Sunday, President Trump said he believes he can end birthright citizenship with an executive order.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “No. 1, no. 1, you don’t need that. You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

Trump called the concept of birthright citizenship “ridiculous,” even though it is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States…” He claimed, falsely, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.”

First, I disagree that this can be done without amending the constitution. The language is clear and has been interpreted that way since it was written.

Second, I do think it is worth considering amending the Constitution to exclude birthright citizenship. That was a provision specifically targeted at ensuring that former slaves were granted full citizenship. The need for that has passed and we, as a nation, have the right and duty to decide whether birthright citizenship continues to make sense. Birthright citizenship is rare in the world. That doesn’t make it wrong, but that’s why we should have the national debate.

Third, the only reason that birthright citizenship is an issue is because we do a terrible job at enforcing our borders. If we were more competent at managing legal and illegal immigration, then the number of people to whom birthright citizenship matters would shrink to insignificance. Birthright citizenship would be merely an arcane quick of our Constitution that could be evaluated dispassionately. As it is, the debate over birthright citizenship becomes tainted with overtones of race.

It it were up to me, I’d leave birthright citizenship alone and enforce our borders better. But as I said, if we have solid border security, then birthright citizenship doesn’t really matter anyway.

Final Marquette Poll Before Election

As everyone has predicted for months… it’s going to come down to the wire and turnout will determine the outcome. All of the candidates should be spending their time getting their supporters to vote instead of trying to convince people to change their minds.

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters finds a tie in the state’s race for governor, with incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democrat challenger Tony Evers each receiving 47 percent support among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson receives 3 percent, and only 1 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate. One percent declined to respond to the question. Likely voters are defined as those who say they are certain to vote in the Nov. 6 election. In the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted Oct. 3-7, Walker was supported by 47 percent, Evers by 46 percent and Anderson by 5 percent among likely voters.

In the race for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin leads among likely voters with 54 percent supporting her, while 43 percent support Republican challenger Leah Vukmir. Only 2 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean toward a candidate and 1 percent did not respond. In early October, Baldwin was supported by 53 percent and Vukmir by 43 percent.

In the race for Wisconsin attorney general, Republican incumbent Brad Schimel is the choice of 47 percent and Democrat Josh Kaul is the choice of 45 percent of likely voters. Seven percent lack a preference in this race and 2 percent did not respond. In the early October poll, Schimel held 47 percent and Kaul 43 percent of likely voters.

Keep Wisconsin moving forward

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

Early voting has been underway in Wisconsin for several weeks, but the end of the election season is rapidly approaching. Nov. 6 is the final day to vote. As a free people, we have the hardearned right to set the course of our public affairs for years to come. We must choose wisely.

There are many important choices on the ballot, but the three at the top of the ballot are paramount for the future of our state. Brad Schimel is asking for a second term as Wisconsin’s attorney general and he has earned it.

In his first term, Schimel has launched programs to support victims of domestic abuse and violent crime, fought the opioid abuse epidemic, supported local law enforcement, fixed the rape kit backlog that he inherited and much more. Schimel has led the Department of Justice as it should be run — as a no nonsense, law and order shop.

This stands in stark contrast to what his opponent, Josh Kaul, wants to do with the office. Kaul is part of the massive liberal effort, spearheaded by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, to elect rabid activists as attorneys general across the nation. Their objective is to use the power of the office of attorney general to wage liberal havoc against their enemies. For the sake of law and order, Wisconsin must reelect Attorney General Brad Schimel.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir is challenging U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. This race is a contrast in work ethic as well as ideology. Baldwin is completing her first term and one struggles to come up with a single accomplishment to her name. Backbenching inaction has been the hallmark of Baldwin’s entire political career. In almost six years as Wisconsin’s junior senator, the only thing that is remarkable about Baldwin’s tenure has been that she is a tremendously reliable vote for the Democratic leaders and every lefty cause they dreamt up.

During the exact same time, one could find Vukmir at the center of every major reform enacted in Wisconsin. Vukmir was at the center of Act 10, advancing school choice, reforming welfare, lowering taxes, health care reform, expanding civil rights and has been instrumental in advancing the reforms that have led to an economic renaissance in our state. Wisconsin is dramatically better off than it was when Vukmir first stepped into the state Legislature. We need a senator like Vukmir who will actually work for Wisconsin’s interests in Washington.

Finally, Gov. Scott Walker is asking Wisconsin for a third and final term as our governor. He has certainly earned it. Perhaps the easiest way to measure Walker’s tenure is by asking the old question, “are you better off ?” By virtually every measurement, the answer is, “yes.”

When Walker first assumed office, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 8 percent. Now it is less than 3 percent for the eighth month in a row. Before Walker became governor, businesses were fleeing Wisconsin. Now businesses like Foxconn are clamoring to set up shop in our state. Before Walker, taxes were going up every year at almost every level with no end in sight. Now Wisconsinites have enjoyed a decrease in the tax burden and the elimination of the state property tax.

Before Walker, tuition at the state’s universities were going up faster than inflation. Now Walker has frozen tuition at UW schools and students can more easily afford a higher education. Before Walker, the state was running a deficit in the billions of dollars. Now the state regularly runs a small surplus that has been used to give money back to taxpayers or bolster the state’s rainy day fund.

Before Walker became our governor, the DNR was feared by businesses, homeowners and conservationists alike. Now the DNR works to help people comply with environmental regulations. Before Walker, our civil rights to keep and bear arms were unreasonably restricted. Now Wisconsinites enjoy the liberties to which we are entitled. Before Walker, some of Wisconsin’s workers were forced to be members of a union if they wanted to work. Now every Wisconsin worker enjoys the right to freely associate.

By virtually every measurement — economic, civil rights, taxes, regulatory climate, etc. — Wisconsin is much better off than it was before Walker took office. Unless you want to see all of our progress come to a screeching halt, vote for Walker.

Walker, Vukmir and Schimel have all helped make Wisconsin a great place to live and work. They deserve our votes. More importantly, we deserve to have them continue to work on our behalf.

Keep Wisconsin moving forward

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here’s the thrust:

Walker, Vukmir and Schimel have all helped make Wisconsin a great place to live and work. They deserve our votes. More importantly, we deserve to have them continue to work on our behalf.

Violent Second Horde Uses Human Shields to Storm into Mexico

This will end badly. Build the wall.

The second migrant caravan, believed to be armed with bombs and guns, crossed into Mexico on Monday despite a huge police presence.

Hundreds of migrants following in the footsteps of the first caravan heading to the U.S. border crossed a river from Guatemala.

A low-flying police helicopter hovered overhead as the migrants waded in large groups through the Suchiate River’s murky waters, apparently trying to use the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them.

Guatemala’s Noti7 channel reported that one man drowned and aired video of a man dragging a seemingly lifeless body from the river.

Once on the Mexican side the migrants were surrounded and escorted by black-uniformed officers as sirens wailed.

The second group back at the Guatemalan frontier has been more unruly than the first that crossed. Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said Guatemalan police officers were injured when the migrant group broke through border barriers on Guatemala’s side of the bridge.

Mexico authorities said migrants attacked its agents with rocks, glass bottles and fireworks when they broke through a gate on the Mexican end but were pushed back, and some allegedly carried guns and firebombs.

On Monday, Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida lamented what he called a second ‘violent attempt’ to storm the border, accusing people of placing the elderly, pregnant women and children at the front, putting them at risk of being crushed.

Hating Trump

Apparently I’m not the only one who has taken note of the fact that the Democrats only have a single plank in their platform – Trump Hate.

For now, though, the left’s only issue is “We hate Trump.” This is an instructive hatred, because what the left hates about Donald Trump is precisely what it hates about America. The implications are important, and painful.

Not that every leftist hates America. But the leftists I know do hate Mr. Trump’s vulgarity, his unwillingness to walk away from a fight, his bluntness, his certainty that America is exceptional, his mistrust of intellectuals, his love of simple ideas that work, and his refusal to believe that men and women are interchangeable. Worst of all, he has no ideology except getting the job done. His goals are to do the task before him, not be pushed around, and otherwise to enjoy life. In short, he is a typical American—except exaggerated, because he has no constraints to cramp his style except the ones he himself invents.

Mr. Trump lacks constraints because he is filthy rich and always has been and, unlike other rich men, he revels in wealth and feels no need to apologize—ever. He never learned to keep his real opinions to himself because he never had to. He never learned to be embarrassed that he is male, with ordinary male proclivities. Sometimes he has treated women disgracefully, for which Americans, left and right, are ashamed of him—as they are of JFK and Bill Clinton.

But my job as a voter is to choose the candidate who will do best for America. I am sorry about the coarseness of the unconstrained average American that Mr. Trump conveys. That coarseness is unpresidential and makes us look bad to other nations. On the other hand, many of his opponents worry too much about what other people think. I would love the esteem of France, Germany and Japan. But I don’t find myself losing sleep over it.

The difference between citizens who hate Mr. Trump and those who can live with him—whether they love or merely tolerate him—comes down to their views of the typical American: the farmer, factory hand, auto mechanic, machinist, teamster, shop owner, clerk, software engineer, infantryman, truck driver, housewife. The leftist intellectuals I know say they dislike such people insofar as they tend to be conservative Republicans.