Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics – Wisconsin

RIP John McAdams

He was one of the good ones… one of the best… a warrior to the core… and he will be greatly missed. RIP, Marquette Warrior.

He wasn’t scared of the fight; he was willing to take it on. He had a cause, and he had principles and he had courage, and he was willing to stand up for what he believed in. Mostly, I think, he couldn’t stand how afraid conservative students were to share their beliefs and how liberal thought was an orthodoxy on campus. I admired him then. I came to admire him all the more as he took on the politically correct totalitarians at Marquette, stood up for conservative students even at peril to himself, and toiled away in the blogging and writing trenches, offering a rare conservative counterpoint in the towers of academe and in Wisconsin media.

 


 

And so it was with great sadness that I learned that, according to the Marquette Wire, Prof. McAdams has passed away. He continued blogging almost to the end. His last blog post was in March. Last August, he wrote, “There is no reason to believe that the basic instinct of university bureaucrats — to pander to politically correct leftists — has changed at all.” He was standing up for a conservative student in that post – again.

 

What a great loss his death is.

Wisconsin needs fair funding for government schools

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

There is another wave of borrowed money gushing out of Washington. The latest round of purposefully wasteful spending ushered in by Democrats includes over $2.2 billion for Wisconsin’s government schools. The distribution of these funds illustrates the folly of government and offers state lawmakers an opportunity to prove that they are smarter and fairer than those in Washington.

 

The American Rescue Plan Act is the official name for the stimulus bill that passed in March without a single Republican vote. The bill transfers our grandchildren’s wealth into our own pockets in a variety of ways including direct payments to current citizens, more welfare, and, of course, mountains of money for state and local governments.

 

The law was sold to the American citizens as vitally important to repair the economic damage done by the pandemic and backfill the budgets of state and local governments for expenses related to the pandemic. When the Democrats wrote the bill, however, the distribution mechanisms they included bear very little relationship to the pandemic. Stimulus checks are going to prisoners and people who do not need it. Billions of dollars are being spent to incentivize unemployment. And, of course, money sent to governments irrespective of how they handled the pandemic.

 

In the case of Wisconsin’s schools, federal law dictates that 90% of the money being sent to local government school districts must be distributed according to the same formula used to distribute Title 1 Part A funds. Title 1 Part A funds are distributed according to the number of low-income students in each district. In other words, the distribution of the so-called “rescue plan” money has absolutely no relationship to the pandemic. It is being distributed based on the rules from a law passed 56 years ago.

 

The actual numbers illustrate the magnitude of the disconnect. For example, the Milwaukee Public School District is to receive a whopping $798 million, or $11,242 per student. That is nearly an entire year’s budget coming in a single windfall for the district. Meanwhile, the neighboring Waukesha Public School District, for example, is receiving about $17 million, or $1,366 per student.

 

These two school districts had very different responses to the pandemic. The Waukesha district has been providing some form of in-person instruction since October — well after the evidence was clear that it could be done safely. Meanwhile, Milwaukee Public Schools remain closed with a meager plan to partially open in the waning days of the school year.

 

It is markedly unfair that the Milwaukee Public Schools are being rewarded with a windfall for locking out their students for over a year while so many other districts, like Waukesha, are given crumbs despite working hard to educate kids. Which district incurred more real cost to educate during a pandemic? Which district chose to educate instead of agitate?

 

As the Legislature crafts the next state budget, they must consider the federal funds just allocated to school districts and other local governments. They must begin with the recognition that it is utterly implausible that government school districts throughout the state suffered an aggregate $2.2 billion budget deficit caused by the pandemic. The federal dollars being issued are far in excess of any actual damages suffered and some districts are able to use their federal money to fund their wish lists.

 

Beyond the total budget amount, the nonsensical way in which federal funds were allocated invites the Legislature to reallocate state funding to try to make it fairer. For example, the state budget could cut $500 million from the Milwaukee Public Schools and use the money to fund rural and suburban districts throughout the state. Those districts could then fund initiatives like broadband for rural students, technology upgrades, tutors to help kids who have fallen behind with distance learning, and mental health services. Even after reallocating $500 million from the Milwaukee public school district, they have almost $300 million in surplus federal funds to spend in addition to their normal budget.

 

State lawmakers have a real opportunity to ensure fairness in funding for all of Wisconsin’s government schools. This is not a time to merely pour money through the same budgetary formulas. This is a time to fight for the education of all of Wisconsin’s kids.

Wisconsin Businesses Struggle to Find Employees

It’s awfully comfortable to be out of work for a lot of people right now. Enhanced unemployment benefits and welfare are retarding the economy.

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – Many restaurants and hotels are eager to welcome back customers and clients, but it’s hard to fully reopen when you’re not fully staffed.

 

Sheila Arredondo, owner of Silly Serrano in Eau Claire, has been looking to hire another cook and cashier for months.

 

“It just blows my mind how I can put out an ad and it can be weeks or months before somebody even applies for the position,” Arredondo said.

 

She’s spent a lot of money to advertise on indeed.com and posted job openings on Facebook, but without applicants, it’s put a strain on the restaurant’s staff and service.

 

“My husband and I work a lot more.  We’re always the first ones here.  We’re the last ones here.  I think it’s hard sometimes because customers come in and they don’t understand why their food’s taking a little bit longer,” Arredondo said. “They’re not getting the service we really want to give.  It’s not because I’m trying to go with a really skinny staff.  It’s because I’m forced to.”

Wisconsin Supreme Court Continues to Reestablish Normal Order

Excellent.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Gov. Tony Evers’ administration does not have the authority to issue capacity limits on bars, restaurants and other businesses without approval of the Legislature, a ruling that comes two weeks after the conservative-controlled court struck down the state’s mask mandate.

[…]
The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Wednesday that the order issued by Evers’ Department of Health Services meets the definition of a rule, which by law must go through the Legislature.
Once again, what should have been a 7-0 ruling had three dissenters who are perfectly fine with the Executive exercising arbitrary power over all of Wisconsin. We are one Justice away…

More Food Assistance for Wisconsin

Again I ask… is this necessary?

MADISON, Wis.— Gov. Tony Evers, the United State Department of Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Service came to an agreement that secures more than $70 million in food assistance. According to a press release issued by Gov. Evers, this will benefit more than 400,000 households in the Badger State. That’s more than 770,000 people.

[…]

“More than $70 million a month means we can get support to a lot of folks across our state who are still struggling in the midst of a pandemic and need help putting food on the table,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud we were able to work with our federal partners to come to an agreement that will ensure we can keep providing these critical resources to Wisconsinites across our state.”

Wisconsin has less than 4% unemployment. Everybody who is willing and able to work can have a job and pay for their own food. Why are taxpayers still being asked to fund this program at the same level we did at the height of the pandemic?

Schools Take Different Approaches

One.

Laona, Three Lakes and Crandon school districts all stopped requiring masks following the state Supreme Court ruling.

 

Now wearing a face covering in their classrooms is optional.

 

In a statement released Thursday, Three Lakes School District said the decision to not mandate masks in school was one of a number of difficult decisions it had to make this year.

 

“We are working through these complex issues as a district, and our greatest desire is to have a healthy and happy Bluejay family as we transition toward a more normal school year in Fall 2021,” the statement said.

Two.

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools teachers and staff finally made their way back into school on Monday.

 

Inside of a classroom at Longfellow School, plexiglass and dividers were put up to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

“It’s been a whirlwind of preparation for us,” said Tyrone Nichols, principal of Cass Street School.

Some enterprising reporter should follow up in a few weeks and see what the results are in terms of viral infections, educational performance, student mental health, and other important measures. Which district is doing it right?

Wisconsin needs fair funding for government schools

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

In the case of Wisconsin’s schools, federal law dictates that 90% of the money being sent to local government school districts must be distributed according to the same formula used to distribute Title 1 Part A funds. Title 1 Part A funds are distributed according to the number of low-income students in each district. In other words, the distribution of the so-called “rescue plan” money has absolutely no relationship to the pandemic. It is being distributed based on the rules from a law passed 56 years ago.

 

The actual numbers illustrate the magnitude of the disconnect. For example, the Milwaukee Public School District is to receive a whopping $798 million, or $11,242 per student. That is nearly an entire year’s budget coming in a single windfall for the district. Meanwhile, the neighboring Waukesha Public School District, for example, is receiving about $17 million, or $1,366 per student.

 

These two school districts had very different responses to the pandemic. The Waukesha district has been providing some form of in-person instruction since October — well after the evidence was clear that it could be done safely. Meanwhile, Milwaukee Public Schools remain closed with a meager plan to partially open in the waning days of the school year.

 

It is markedly unfair that the Milwaukee Public Schools are being rewarded with a windfall for locking out their students for over a year while so many other districts, like Waukesha, are given crumbs despite working hard to educate kids. 

 

[…]

 

As the Legislature crafts the next state budget, they must consider the federal funds just allocated to school districts and other local governments. They must begin with the recognition that it is utterly implausible that government school districts throughout the state suffered an aggregate $2.2 billion budget deficit caused by the pandemic. The federal dollars being issued are far in excess of any actual damages suffered and some districts are able to use their federal money to fund their wish lists.

 

Beyond the total budget amount, the nonsensical way in which federal funds were allocated invites the Legislature to reallocate state funding to try to make it fairer. For example, the state budget could cut $500 million from the Milwaukee Public Schools and use the money to fund rural and suburban districts throughout the state. Those districts could then fund initiatives like broadband for rural students, technology upgrades, tutors to help kids who have fallen behind with distance learning, and mental health services. Even after reallocating $500 million from the Milwaukee public school district, they have almost $300 million in surplus federal funds to spend in addition to their normal budget.

Systemic Racism in Our Government Schools

This disparate treatment is not by accident. It is because of intentional policy choices. Our government schools are at the very center of systemic racism in our country. If we want to fight racism, we should start there – NOT by more indoctrination, but by dismantling them and putting power and money in the hands of parents.

MADISON – Most schools in Wisconsin were delivering at least some in-person instruction to students during the first half of the school year but students in the state’s urban centers were most likely to be learning virtually, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review of initial state data shows.

 

Students learning from home during the fall were more likely to be living in poverty and to be children of color while many children living in suburban and rural areas who are more likely to be white had the option of attending class in person, raising concerns over the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on Wisconsin’s longstanding and massive gap in academic achievement between its Black and white students.

 

[…]

 

By March, nearly every school in Wisconsin was conducting at least some coursework in person, according to a review last month by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

 

But for Milwaukee and Madison the availability of in-person education was sparse at that time, with both districts holding classes almost entirely virtual. The two districts — the largest in the state — are in the process of returning most students to in-person classes part of the time.

 

Citizens Sue City of Green Bay Over Elections

The evidence is pretty clear that city officials ceded the management of the election to a private interest group.

The complaint alleges that the Center for Tech and Civic Life illegally dictated how Green Bay ran its election when it provided the city with $1.6 million to facilitate voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Minneapolis attorney Erick Kaardal cited a grant agreement that broadly required Green Bay to use the funds for “the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration.”

“We want people to accept election results, and that requires fair and transparent elections,” Kaardal said during a news conference at the Brown County Courthouse.

Court Ruling Saves Federal Taxpayers $50 Million per Month

With the economy rebounding and the unemployment rate at less than 4%, do we really still need the “extra” money for FoodShare? Shouldn’t people be working and buying their food at pre-pandemic levels?

Officials say last week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling striking down Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID-19 emergency order means that next month the state will begin losing more than $50 million per month in emergency supplemental FoodShare benefits.

 

The state Department of Health Services says if the Supreme Court would have allowed the governor’s emergency order and mask mandate to last for one more full day, into April, FoodShare members would have been covered through the month of May.

Wisconsin Overpaid Unemployment by $102 Million (so far)

Yikes. The screw ups keep coming. Meanwhile, sit back and just ponder how much of our grandkids’ money our government is wasting.

Federal data show Wisconsin overpaid $102 million through October. Wisconsin is one of 11 states labeled red on a national map for unacceptably high improper payment rates. A researcher with the National Unemployment Law Project said the long backups to get people paid contributed to the problem.

 

[…]

 

The Department of Workforce Development did not return our call Monday.

 

[…]

 

The Labor Department Inspector General estimated $89 billion of CARES Act unemployment money went to people it shouldn’t have.

Evers’ abuse of power stopped by state Supreme Court

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

The court acted with good reason, for if a governor were permitted to rule in a permanent state of emergency, then the state Constitution is meaningless, and elections no longer matter. Governor Evers disagreed with the policy decisions of the Legislature, so he resorted to continually reissuing emergency declarations to enact his policy choices. In this case, Governor Evers was acting from behind the mask of compassion and claiming that only he knows the “science” that will save us all.

 

Despots, however, never rise to power by telling the people that they will strip them of their civil liberties and crush them under the boot of oppression. Despots always rise to power with the promise to protect the people from something like a foreign aggressor, internal strife, or, in this case, a disease. Despots claim that normal government is not sufficient to respond to this unprecedented apocalyptic crisis, so normal government must be suspended in favor of the nimble and extensive power of autocratic rule.

 

[…]

 

First, the Supreme Court waited far too long to issue its ruling. The original petition happened on October 15, 2020, and oral arguments were heard on November 16, 2020. The court waited until March 31, 2021 to issue its ruling. That is almost half a year between the petition of the court and the court’s ruling. In a case in which the state Constitution has been suspended while a rogue governor issues orders from behind a permanent state of emergency, the people of Wisconsin have a right to expect more expeditious action from their elected Supreme Court justices. They are elected to make rulings on important issues facing the state and their sloth smacks of snobbery.

 

Second, the ruling was decided by a single vote with four justices voting in the majority and three in the minority. The law is crystal clear in this case and yet three of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court justices supported the governor being able to suspend normal government forever by continually issuing emergency declarations. Wisconsin is on the razor’s edge of slipping into autocracy with almost half the court cheering for it. That should keep every freedom-loving Wisconsinite up at night.

Preferences for West Bend Elections

While I don’t live in West Bend anymore, I do have a strong interest in the community in which I raised my kids and in which I have so many friends. I’ve been asked to share my views on the local elections. So, were I to vote in the local elections there, here’s what I would do:

City of West Bend

The even-numbered Aldermanic seats are up for election. I agree completely with former mayor Kraig Sadownikow. The common council has lurched to the left, or at least, become very pro-government. The council is largely serving the interests of the employees instead of the taxpayers. There are two conservatives on the council of 7. Both of them are up for reelection and should be rewarded for their good work. That’s Randy Koehler in District 4 and Meghan Kennedy in District 8.

The remaining two seats are held by two aldermen who consistently vote to enlarge the scope and expense of government. They should be replaced with two conservative candidates, Chris Thompson for District 2 and Tracy Ahrens in District 6.

The opportunity is there to turn the council to a 4-3 conservative majority in a single election. Don’t pass up that chance, Benders.

West Bend School Board

There are three candidates running for two seats. Both of the incumbents are running for reelection.

The West Bend School Board is in an interesting place. They did a good job with hiring the new superintendent and they managed to be ahead of most other public school districts in opening their doors partially during the pandemic. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that they have continued to raise taxes to most allowed by law and introduced some truly leftist indoctrination into the curriculum. Both of the incumbents advanced the misguided referendum in 2019 that failed and are almost certain to support any future referendum effort. As a whole, the board votes are almost always unanimous while the entrenched special interests and “good ol’ boys” have lined up behind the incumbents. There is a reason for that. Follow the money.

Unfortunately, there is not an opportunity to change the direction of the school board this election, but there is an opportunity to start down that path. At the very least, there is an opportunity to elect someone new to the board who will offer a different perspective and be willing to occasionally break ranks with the majority. Disagreement is healthy in a diverse community with conflicting interests. It should worry you when disagreements in the community are not reflected in elected bodies. It is an indication that the elected board is not representing all stakeholders.

Were I to vote, I’d cast a single vote for Jody Geenen. One of the incumbents will win the other seat. It really doesn’t matter which one. They vote the same way.

City of West Bend Accidentally Borrowed Too much

From the Washington County Insider. The short story is that due to an error by city employees, the city borrowed $1.5 million more than they needed this year. The same city employees want to just stash the money to use next year, thus reducing borrowing next year. The problem is that the city taxpayers will be paying interest on that loan as it sits in a bank account somewhere doing nothing. Alderman Randy Koehler asks all the right questions:

During the Monday, March 15 meeting Dist. 4 alderman Randy Koehler asked if the council borrows about $1.5 million over the project cost in 2021, is there a way to make sure the council borrows less next year? He also asked, “We’re just going to sit on that $1.4 million for a year and do nothing with it? That doesn’t make any sense to me. And if we don’t need it why are we borrowing it,” asked Koehler.

 

The representative from Ehlers Public Finance Advisors said “the City could earn interest on the $1.4 million. You also have the ability to lock in at the day of sale at a fixed rate for the life of the debt at a low interest rate environment for not only this year’s projects but a portion of next year’s projects.”

 

Koehler responded. “You said we have the ability to earn interest but we’re also going to be paying interest on money for a year that we’re just going to leave sit there. I would like us to scale this back by $1.4 million and just borrow the $4.1 million that we need to do the projects this year. That way we’re not tying the hands of the council next year and we’re also not saying we have an extra $1.5 million and then next year we borrow the same… we can’t determine how that will go next year. I want to scale this back and borrow just what we need.”

 

A clarification was made that the money borrowed would have to be spent on roads.

 

City engineer Max Marechal was asked if the money could be used in 2021 on other road projects. Marechal indicated contractors are already booked through the end of the year.

 

During a separate interview Phil Cosson from Ehlers indicated the interest for a year on the extra $1.5 million would cost the City $20,000. The interest received on the borrowing would be “nominal,” according to Cosson. Questioned what the dollar figure on “nominal” is he said “less than $1,000.”

Green Bay Officials Likely Broke Election Laws

From MacIver

Republican lawmakers seem to have the City of Green Bay cornered on its relationship with Dem political operative Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein. Whether Rubenstein was an employee, contractor, or observer is an unresolved question – but regardless of the answer, laws would have been broken.

 

The City of Green Bay received a $1.6 million grant to help run its election from the Center for Tech and Civic Life – a facebook funded activist organization. As part of the deal, Democrat political operative Michal Spitzer-Rubenstein was given full access to the city’s election process – including central count on election night.

 

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections heard testimony from Meagan Wolfe on Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2021. Wolfe is the administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). She said WEC has no authority to investigate, regulate, or even monitor outside groups relationships with local elections officials.

Democrats Push To Restrict Civil Rights

No.

During a Thursday press conference, Kaul and lawmakers called on the GOP-controlled state Legislature to approve measures in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal that would expand background checks on gun sales and allow courts to block some people from buying firearms.

 

[…]

 

Under the governor’s background check proposal, which is sometimes called a “universal background check” measure, all firearm sales in Wisconsin would be subject to background checks. Right now, people who buy guns online don’t need to pass a check. 

That last statement is an outright falsehood. It seems like people who write these stories never know anything about actually buying guns.

Another part of the governor’s proposal would enact a so-called “red flag law” in Wisconsin, which would allow law enforcement or someone’s family or friends to petition a judge to temporarily revoke that person’s right to buy, own or carry weapons.

I get the impetus behind red flag laws. And in a perfect world where I could have confidence that they would be implemented objectively and justly, I would support them. But red flag laws are woefully subject to human error and bias. And in a world where our government has been weaponized against pockets of unfavored citizens, any red flag laws would be simply used as a bludgeon.

UW System Sees Budget Hole

So

While UW is experiencing a budget hole of $170 million, Thompson said the losses related to the pandemic were more than $600 million dollars before federal and state Covid-19 relief funds helped fill some of that gap.

 

“We implemented employee furloughs. We also restricted traveling. We also didn’t fill some vacancies and we’ve also had to institute layoffs,” Thompson said.

How much of that is because of the policy choices made by UW officials? More to the point, how much of that budget hole are they responsible for? Many UW campuses chose to stay closed or only very limited opening well after it was clear that young people were not in a high risk category. Many campuses remained mostly closed. Even for next year…

As Action 2 News previously reported, UW schools are planning to have at least 75 percent of all classes in-person this fall.

Part of the traditional university experience is the on-campus learning and social environment. UW stripped that experience away and many students chose to take a break or go somewhere else. How much should the taxpayers be on the hook for a budget hole that was partially created by policy decisions? Thompson lists out some measures that UW officials took to mitigate the issue, but did they do enough? Should taxpayers expect more aggressive actions before providing additional funds? I truly don’t know the answers to those questions. They are not meant to be provocative, but I do think they are questions that need to be answered prior to throwing more taxpayer money into the system.

Local Government Consider Mask Mandates in Wake of Court Ruling

With local officials all over the state on the ballot next week, I would demand a definitive position from them before giving them your vote.

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Officials in the Wood County area have no immediate plans to impose a local mask mandate.

 

Wood County Health Director Sue Kunferman said her office does not plan to issue a local emergency order requiring face coverings after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Gov. Tony Evers’s statewide mask mandate on Wednesday. The court’s conservative majority ruled 4-3 to block the governor from issuing further emergency orders on masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling requires Evers to seek approval from state Legislature on future mandates.

 

The court’s action does not prevent local governments from pursuing their own local health emergency orders.

Evers’ Odd Excuse

If he had to keep issuing a mask mandate due to the changing nature of the pandemic, then why did he keep issuing the same order? Wouldn’t a changing problem require a changing solution?

Evers argued that he could issue multiple health emergencies because of the changing nature of the pandemic. The mask order first took effect in August and Evers extended it four times since then, most recently on Feb. 4 immediately after Republican legislators repealed it.

Archives

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest