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.

Justice Kavanaugh Rejects GoFundMe Cash

Good for him.

Citing judicial ethics concerns, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh declined more than $600,000 that was donated to aid his family during the firestorm over sexual misconduct allegations that plagued his confirmation. The judge’s decision was announced on Tuesday in a message posted on the online fundraising pagethat gathered the funds.

[…]

Supreme Court justices are actually not bound by the codified ethics rules that apply to other federal judges, the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. However, it appears that Kavanaugh’s statement is drawn largely from those rules, which provide that other than in a few narrowly drawn scenarios, “a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose.”

West Bend Teachers Unions Complains about Back Pay

Indeed, if they were operating under an old compensation plan that included stipends, and they were not paid, then their grievance is legitimate. Good management honors its commitments.

WEST BEND — During the Public Participation portion of the West Bend School Board meeting Monday night, Sally Heuer, a teacher at West Bend West, addressed the Board as a member of the Executive Board of the West Bend Educators Association and, on behalf of the WBEA, asked that the district pay its veteran teachers the stipends they were promised for the 2017-18 school year.

The room was filled with West Bend district teachers that came to show their support of Heuer as she reminded the Board that, as of now, veteran teachers have been refused the pay they earned through the stipend program and, though they were told there would be a new teacher compensation plan, they have not been officially told that the district is no longer honoring what they promised, so they are operating under the previous plan that stated veteran teachers would be given a stipend for completing the tasks on their teacher’s scorecard.

Heuer pointed out that the district is continuing to follow other parts of the compensation plan and asked the Board why the district is choosing to ignore the part that calls for promised compensation.

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.

American Muslims Raise Money for Jewish Victims

God Bless America.

American Muslims have raised more than $120,000 since Saturday for the families of those killed and injured in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, in a demonstration of interfaith solidarity.

“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our Islamic faith teaches us, and send a powerful message of compassion to the Jewish community – our Abrahamic cousins,” said Tarek El-Messidi, director of CelebrateMercy.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate and violence in America or anywhere worldwide. ”

The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh will distribute funds to affected families in consultation with the Tree of Life synagogue, where the attack took place. The aim is to help with immediate needs such as funeral expenses and medical bills, said El-Messidi.

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.

Saving Nature

You really do have to sit back and marvel at how astonishingly stupid this statement is:

This is the ‘last generation’ that can save nature, WWF says

Audrey Hepburn: Nazi Hunter?

Fascinating.

Beloved actress Audrey Hepburn worked directly under Dutch Resistance leaders to help defeat the Nazis, a new book reveals.

In Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, author Robert Matzen writes of his proof that the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star was involved in fighting the Nazis during World War II.

Born in 1929 in Belgium and relocating to Holland at the start of the war in 1939, Hepburn was traumatized by the murder of her uncle Count Otto van Limburg Stirum.

In Matzen’s book, due to release in April, he reveals the discovery of a 188-page diary Hepburn’s uncle Otto wrote during the four months he was imprisoned by the Nazis before his death in 1942.

Hepburn’s son, Luca Dotti, says Matzen’s book solves mysteries he’s had about his mother.

‘I now understand why the words Good and Evil, and Love and Mercy were so fundamental in her own narrative. Why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being,’ Dotti writes in the forward.

Matzen says Hepburn worked in the Dutch Resistance as a doctor’s assistant during the Bridge Too Far battle of Arnhem in 1944.

For the first two years of the war, Hepburn had to contend with the fact that her father was a Nazi agent and her mother was pro-Nazi.

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.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

West Bend couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

It was Sept. 25, 1948 and Franklin Bales and Margaret Weninger, 90, recited their vows to remain faithful and committed for the rest of their lives. This year the couple celebrated its 70th wedding anniversary. Franklin, 91, was born on the family farm on Rusco Drive in West Bend. He and Margaret, 90, met at a dance.

“Our farm was just a mile west of Gonring’s Resort. I had broken up with a different guy and me and my girlfriends were standing there and then he (Franklin) came over and asked me to dance. Then he asked to take me home, then he asked me to another dance and from there we kept on going.”

Margaret said she “didn’t think of marriage right away. She just liked being with him.”

“I liked his laugh,” said Margaret. “We had fun.”

Margaret was 18 years old when she met Franklin. She worked at Amity Leather at the time.

Franklin was 19 and a half and he worked on the family farm.

“I like her because she was easy going,” he said. “I could handle that.”

When Margaret turned 20 she and Franklin tied the knot.

“We got married at St. Matthias Church and had dinner at noon in the school basement. Some of the neighbor women cooked the meal and then we went to Gonring’s Resort for a dance,” said Margaret.

During the conversation the black-and-white wedding photos from Kind Studio – Barton, Wisc. are passed around the room. “I bought my dress in Chicago,” said Margaret. “I had aunts and uncles living in Chicago and a couple times I went down on the train and we went shopping for the dress. It was nothing fancy.”

The wedding photos look straight out of ‘June Bride’ featuring an elegant Margaret and a dapper Franklin surrounded by a wedding party of eight set against a backdrop of blue skies, two meaty columns and drapes.

“The photographer didn’t come to the wedding, we had to go to the photographer,” Margaret said.

Franklin recalled a delayed honeymoon as chores on the dairy farm took precedent.

“She had to can pears before we left and I had to fill the silo again,” he said.

A couple days later the pair were off gallivanting. “We drove into Canada and circled around a bit just so we could tell our friends we were in Canada,” said Margaret.

The couple moved in to Franklin’s home. “I’ve always live here,” he said. “Our bedroom is the room I was born in.”

The Bales had seven kids. Daughter Kathy Bales/Stodola shared some memories:

-Mom and Dad showed us by their example the importance of helping others. Sharing Mom’s amazing cinnamon rolls and produce from the garden with those who needed a pick-me-up visit.

-Volunteering at St. Frances Cabrini: ushering, counting lunch tickets, quilting, helping at the annual Rummage Sale

-Driving their older friends to doctor’s appointments

-Volunteering at Samaritan every Wednesday evening for years

-Catholic Family Life Insurance- Mom was secretary. Helped organize annual picnic and Christmas party.

-Mom and Dad also instilled in their children a love of learning. We had few books of our own at home except for a complete set of the World Book encyclopedia and the Childcraft set. We would page through the books endlessly and often look up topics for our school projects. I still recognize poems and artwork from those volumes.

-There were always trips to our WB Public Library. We would eagerly search for books to take home with us. The stack grew to a dozen or 20 but I think we only lost a couple in all those years!

-On Sunday drives, one or the other parent would say “I wonder where that road goes” and we’d turn and see!  Even though, being on a farm, travel was limited they managed to take us all to the Milwaukee Museum or Zoo several times and it turned out that all their children are avid travelers looking to see where the road takes them. Fortunately, Dad and Mom retired early enough to enjoy quite a few long trips to places such as Mexico, California, Alaska and many more.

Recognizing anniversaries

Ever since cresting their 25th wedding anniversary the couple recognize their longevity together every 5 years. There are homemade posters from some of their 16 grandchildren still taped to the door from the last family gathering. “We also have 12 great grandchildren … with one more on the way,” said Franklin.

The Bales celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in the barn. “Our son cleaned it up and it looked just like a ballroom,” said Margaret.

When asked their secret to a happy marriage, Margaret talks about their evening routine. “At 7 p.m. we listen to the Rosary and Mass on Relevant Radio and then we hold hands every night and his hands are always cold. Then we go to bed at 8 o’clock and we talk a few minutes and then I say ‘good night, love you’ and he knows that’s the end of the conversation and he falls asleep very fast.”

Daughter Rosemary Kutz had fond memories growing up.  

-Polka dancing with dad at dances with the Julida Boys

-Finding a note on the refrigerator when I got home from school that said we should come down and help pick stones but first we could have the warm potato salad or other good food mom had left for us on the stove.

-Blackberries and cream on soft white bread.

-Watching for Santa upstairs and hearing a loud “Ho Ho Ho” and bells ringing and then mom or dad saying “Come down, Santa was here”

-Learning how to be young volunteers by going with mom and dad to Samaritan

-Mom and dad always taking time to listen to us and seeming interested – no matter the subject

-Always saying just what I needed to hear if I was doubting a decision

-Teaching me to put God as a priority

Blessed with strong faith

Sitting in the living room the Bales overstuffed chairs are nestled next to each other. They’re close enough they reach out and hold hands throughout much of the conversation.

Raising seven children Margaret stressed how important it was for her to be home when the kids got home from school. “I did a lot of baking,” she said. “Sweet rolls, bread and pies and we had 3 eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast each morning. I never thought of it as work, we just did it.”

Margaret talked about when the kids were young and she’d hold one child on her hip and turn the crank on the ringer washer with the other.

Faith, according to the Bales, played a big factor in their lives. “We’d take the seven kids to church at St. Frances Cabrini and we’d pile in the car,” said Margaret. “We prayed the rosary during Lent when they were small and we had a prayer before meals.”

“We always tried to work things out,” said Franklin. “Things are easier if you try to work it out.”

“Patience,” said Margaret. “Patience is the key.”

Daughter Geralyn Kobs recalled growing up in a family of seven kids:

-Growing up in a family of 7 kids lends itself to memories of busy times, quiet moments, happy and sad days. Meals always began with a prayer and nearly always included potatoes, vegetables, meat and dessert. Mom is a fantastic cook and baker and could scrounge up a meal in no time.  All the boys (left handed) sat on one side of the table and all the girls (right handed) sat on the other to prevent elbow jabbing fights!

-Mom always read books to us and a happy memory was going to the library in WB and checking out a fresh stack of books.

-Christmas memory – the tree would be trimmed for days but the lights would not be turned on and baby Jesus would not be added to the nativity set until Christmas Eve.

-Dad coming in from early morning milking with a metal jug of fresh milk, giving Mom a kiss, and sitting down to his breakfast of eggs.

-Dad telling us – ‘put a sweater on, I’m cold’ or ‘go to bed, I’m tired.’

-Giving up candy for Lent (seemed to be mandatory) and then getting chocolate covered peanuts in our Easter baskets.

-Mom sprinkling holy water around the house and on us during bad thunderstorms.

Daughter Joan Blankenship – Some things I remember:

-Not putting baby Jesus in the Nativity set until Christmas Eve and coming downstairs on Christmas Eve after watching out the window for Santa, and seeing all the presents under the lit Christmas tree. It was so magical. Our tradition was to not turn on the Christmas lights until Christmas Eve.

-Mom not liking to wake us up in the morning so she would throw a sock on our bed to wake us up gently.  But every morning in the winter, I could hear Mom down by the wood furnace opening up the door of the furnace, and the noise radiating upstairs.

-Coming home from school and always having delicious snacks to eat – potato salad, homemade bread, coffee cake, peanut squares, Rosettes.

-Going out to the field to tell Dad, who was driving tractor, about some exciting occurrence at school. He would always stop, idle the tractor and listen, no matter how busy he was.

-Going swimming in between loads of hay.  That pool was so enjoyable.

-Two plates with huge stacks of sweet corn placed on the window sill to cool off.  Mom always gave me the lighter-color ones because they were easier for me to digest.

-I remember Dad always reading the paper every night while drinking a bottle of beer. He was always current with local, and world events.

-We had a set up encyclopedias which were so helpful when doing reports for school. We made many a trip to the library. They paid for all of the kids’ college tuition.

-We always had holy water in the hallway. Mom would sprinkle us with the holy water before we left on trips to help keep us safe and she would sprinkle around the house during thunderstorms to keep us safe. It worked. We always said Grace before meals. After my brother Paul passed away, they added another prayer to say, to always include and remember him and others who passed away.

Thank you for being the best parents ever. I always felt safe and cared for and loved. I always appreciate how you took such an interest in our life and activities. You’ve always been so helpful and generous. I feel so lucky to have you as my parents. I could not ask for more.

Trees are leveled as construction begins on new Fleet Farm

The logging trucks are clearing the 192,000-square-foot lot to the south of Highway 33 just east of County Highway Z for the new Fleet Farm. On Thursday a tree-cutting operation quickly moved through the property cutting trees and leveling the land for future development. Start date is listed as Oct 1, 2018. Completion is listed as September 9, 2019. 192,000-square-foot retail store and 7,100-square-foot convenience store and 652 parking stalls

Aside from the store there will also be a 7,162-square-foot gas station and convenience store. The proposed gas station would include 18 fuel pumps and 9 islands. Fleet Farm opened the existing West Bend store in 1961 as the sixth store in the company’s fleet. The existing 45,000-square-foot West Bend Fleet Farm will close when the new store opens in the fall of 2019.

Devenport family home is raised to make way for West Bend Honda Subaru

The demolition of the Devenport family home on the southwest corner of Highway 33 and Scenic Drive started at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, 2018.

It was a mere 28 minutes later and the old red brick two-story farmhouse was no more. The live broadcast drew thousands of viewers; many lamented the loss of a fine structure and some expressed sadness at what may be deemed “progress.”

According to records in the West Bend city assessor’s office the Devenport property on W. Washington Street, was annexed into the city in February 2018. The 39.575 acres sold to Morries West Bend H RE, LLC.

Long time teacher and coach Bob Neja has died

Robert H. Neja, 84, of West Bend, entered Eternal Life with Jesus on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 after 62 wonderful years of marriage with Anne “Dolly” Neja.  Bob passed away at home, surrounded by his family, after his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Bob was born on Jan. 16, 1934 in Milwaukee to the late Daniel and Marion Neja.  Bob started his athletic career at St. Boniface Catholic Grade School and continued at Messmer High School, becoming a three sport letter winner in basketball, baseball and football.  After graduating from Messmer High School in 1952, he attended St. Norbert College, earning a degree in Education.  While at St. Norbert, Bob lettered four years in basketball and baseball. He was named Most Valuable Athlete. He also earned All-Midwest Catholic College Basketball team honors.

Bob married the love of his life and high school sweetheart, Anne Poehlmann on June 30, 1956.  He then entered the U.S. Army on July 6, 1956 and was honorably discharged July 5, 1958 as a First Lieutenant MSC.

After the Army, Bob began his illustrious teaching and coaching career at his Alma Mater, Messmer High School in Milwaukee. During his time at Messmer from 1958 to 1970, Bob taught biology and coached football, track, baseball and basketball. He accumulated a record of 158 wins and 63 losses as head basketball coach and his teams were Conference Champions four years and WISAA State Champions in 1966 and 1968. They were State Championship Runners-up in 1967, losing the title game by one point.

Bob continued his teaching and coaching career at West Bend East High School from 1970 to 1995.  He was the West Bend East Boys Basketball coach for five years and the West Bend East Girls Tennis coach for over 20 years. His tennis teams won eight conference championships, while qualifying numerous players and teams to the State Tournament.

His positive influence on students and athletes cannot be overstated. His philosophy was to help the kids grow to be great people first, winning along the way.

In honor of his years of success, Bob has been inducted into several Halls of Fame: Messmer High School, St. Norbert College, Wisconsin High School Basketball Coaches Association, Wisconsin High School Tennis Association, West Bend East High School, and the Old Time Ballplayers’ Association.

Bob was an active member of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus Fr. Casper Rehrl Council #1964. His faith was his priority in life.

Funeral services in honor of Bob will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church (1025 S. 7th Ave, West Bend) with visitation from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. followed by a Knights of Columbus service at 4:45 p.m. and Mass of Christian Burial at 5 p.m.  After the Mass a reception will be held in the church hall.

 Updates & tidbits

 In-person absentee voting is underway in Washington County for the Nov. 6 General Election.

– Sale price the Seed of Hope Center in West Bend paid for the former Graymont Western Lime building, 206 N. Sixth Avenue was $350,000. The building on the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Elm Street was built in 1961. It went on the market in March 2016 and was listed by RSM Property Management & Realty for $495,000. The 2018 assessment was $414,500.

-This week the West Bend Common Council approved a request to install a Civil War Memorial at Pilgrim Rest Cemetery on Chestnut and Summit in West Bend.

– Stephanie Salentine, Med/Surg RN, has been recognized with the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital first quarter DAISY Award for her care and comfort.

-The city of West Bend Police Department, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration will participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at 1115 S. Main St., in the parking lot in front of West Bend City Hall.

– Details on the sale of the property for the Bob Fish Dealership show four parcels were involved and Lynch Ventures LLC paid $2.4 million for the land and building at 2275 S. Main Street.

The second white bridge arrived in downtown West Bend on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and placed over the Milwaukee River. The bridge is installed to the south of where the ‘bridge to nowhere’ used to be located.

Slinger Honorary Fire Fighter Ed Wolf, 76, passed away Wednesday morning, Oct. 24. Slinger Fire Department will be performing a bell ringing ceremony and walk through at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 28. Members of Badger Firefighters association are welcome to attend. We will be meeting at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford at 1:40 PM to line up.

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

Roving Horde Rejects Mexico’s Offer of Asylum

Of course. It’s not about that.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto launched a program on Friday dubbed “You are home,” which promises shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs to Central Americans who agree to stay in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas or Oaxaca.

Police commissioner Benjamin Grajeda said that authorities only blocked the highway Saturday to tell people about the offer. “Here in this truck right now you can get help,” he said.

Thousands of migrants in the city of Arriaga rejected the plan Friday night, but said they could be willing to discuss it again once they reach Mexico City. Some fear they will be deported if they take advantage of the program.

Liberals are Cautiously Optimistic in Wisconsin

Let’s get out there and vote.

Most describe a mood of cautious optimism. Democrats in Wisconsin maintain a tight but narrow lead in the governor’s race, seem to be runningaway with the Senate race, and even feel they have an outside shot at the seat of the outgoing House speaker, Paul Ryan, in which Racine sits. Things look good. But they have been here before.

Most progressives here have a story of waking up the morning after election day two years ago to find Wisconsin had not only voted Republican for the first time in more than 30 years – it had voted for Donald Trump. For many it changed what they felt about the state they had lived in all their lives. “I remember being in public spaces and looking around and thinking, ‘Which of these white people voted for that crazy person who hates everything that I am?’” said Cruz.

To understand the source of their caution one has to go back further. Eight years ago, in the wake of the financial crisis, Walker was elected governor and almost immediately sought to end collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and cut local government workers’ health benefits and pension entitlements in order to balance the budget. “Wisconsin was a testing ground for some extreme Republican policies,” explained Forrest. “Organisations like Alec [a rightwing lobbying group] and people like the Koch brothers wanted to use Wisconsin to see how far they could go.”

[…]

The energy from the Madison protests was poured into an effort to recallWalker – a provision some states have for effectively demanding a revote. But Walker not only beat off the recall, he was returned with a larger majority and then re-elected in 2014. Then came Trump’s victory in 2016.

So the caution arises not simply from not winning, but having felt the camaraderie of mass protest only to be followed by electoral defeat: it’s not just the depths to which things have fallen but the heights from which the mood fell. So in Wisconsin particularly, when they see four of the five of the largest marches in American history take place in the last two years and sense increased enthusiasm they don’t assume that this will translate into a blue wave. They’re not jaded. But they are reflective.

What the Heck is a “Negative Savings”?

Heh

WEST BEND — After 12 months of collecting data from employees and their families regarding the onsite health clinic, officials have received information they hope to use to mitigate rising health care costs for their workforce.

Sara Stiefvater, the client operations manager, along with Regional Medical Director Dennis Schultz, both from Quad Medical, presented results of the operations for the onsite health clinic Monday to members of the Common Council.

[…]

She also provided information regarding the clinic’s profitability when combined with Washington County since the clinic is shared between their employees.

In the aggregate, officials experienced a negative savings for the first year by slightly more than $22,000. The total estimated savings was about $332,000 while the expenses, which includes staff as well as the payment to the vendor for operating the clinic, was about $355,000.

That’s the oddest way to say that… “experienced a negative savings” of $22,000. In the real world, we would day that it “costs” $22,000. This is significant because the whole point of the county and city providing a clinic is to bring down the overall costs. Otherwise, it’s just an additional benefit to government employees.

The impact the clinic will have for the city and county, at least in terms of savings and cost, is significant because that is the primary reason that administrators and leaders established one.

The clinic opened during the summer, marking the completion of a project that required about two years inthe hopes of slowing the increasing rate associated with health care costs.

“Over the course of three years, the projection is about $1 million (saved),” Human Resources Director Todd Scott said during a July 2017 interview. “It is really going to be based on participation. How many people use the clinic and what type of services. That is where the savings is going to come from.”

If the goal is to save $1 million in three years, then the clinic needs to save $511,000 each of the next two years. I don’t see that happening.

That being said, I would consider the clinic a success if it saves some decent amount each year. For example, if it saves the taxpayers $50,000 per year and provides a better healthcare alternative to employees, then it’s a net benefit worth keeping. If it is just going to be another perk for employees that costs taxpayers even more, then it fails to meet its stated justification and should be shut down.

Let’s give it another year and see how it goes.

Booming Economy Results in Fewer Medicaid Recipients

Excellent.

The booming U.S. economy appears to be reducing dependence on federal health insurance for the poor.

Medicaid enrollment fell for the first time since 2007, declining by about 0.6 percent in fiscal year 2018, and states don’t expect to see much growth in enrollment next year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.

States are budgeting for a “minimal” increase of 0.9 percent in 2019, Kaiser said in its annual 50-state survey of Medicaid.

“States largely attribute the enrollment slowdown to a strengthening economy, resulting in fewer new low-income people qualifying for Medicaid,” said Kaiser, a nonprofit group that focuses on health care and health policy.

While crediting the strong economic growth during the Trump presidency, the report also pointed out that the administration is urging states to “add work requirements to Medicaid that are likely to result in enrollment declines.” Some of the work requirements approved by the administration have resulted in some Medicaid recipients losing coverage.

I would love to see the Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, run on the issue of imposing stricter work requirements for Medicaid and welfare. In an age of sub-3% unemployment, there is no excuse for every able-bodied person to not be working.

Liberal Activist Segway Boy is Arrested for Trying to Buy Radioactive Material

What a piece of garbage.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 30-year-old Jeremy Ryan was arrested in the 700 block of Mills Street in Black Earth.

According to court documents, Ryan attempted to buy a lethal dose of a radioactive substance online in March and October 2018 to kill an unnamed person.

Following Ryan’s arrest, agents searched his home in the 300 block of Munn Road in the Town of Madison. Agents with the Hazardous Evidence Response Teams (HERT) from the Milwaukee and Chicago field offices searched the home Wednesday night.

[…]

Ryan was also active in the ACT 10 protests in 2011. At the time he was known as “Segway Jeremy.” He aggressively protested Republican lawmakers inside the Wisconsin Capitol.

According to online court records, in 2016, Ryan pleaded guilty in Dane County Circuit to a maintaining a drug trafficking place charge.

Record Employment

Wow

The unemployment rate for the La Crosse metropolitan area hit a new low in September, coming in at 2.0 percent for the first time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimates released Wednesday.

The city of La Crosse was ranked fourth in the state with an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent in September, down from 2.9 percent in August. The estimated rates, which are not seasonally adjusted, were celebrated by the Department of Workforce Development.

“It’s great news for all the people in the state of Wisconsin, because it means they have the opportunity to have family-sustaining jobs,” Wisconsin DWD Secretary Ray Allen told the Tribune.
[…]
September marks the eighth consecutive month in which Wisconsin’s unemployment has been 3 percent or less. The record lows have been driven by strong economic development policies in the state, said Allen, saying positive changes are driving opportunities, such as Foxconn’s new facility.

Conflict in Washington County

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

Before he became the father of Texas, Stephen Fuller Austin served for a time in the territorial legislature of Missouri. He was a savvy, energetic legislator whose personal interests often aligned with the interests of his home district of Washington County.

For example, Austin aggressively pushed for a tariff to protect lead mining, the primary business in his district and his family’s business. He also advocated fiercely to get the government to grant a more favorable charter to the Bank of Missouri, of which his father was a founding director. Both efforts were intended for the benefit of his district and Missouri with the convenient side effect of directly benefitting Austin and his family.

The blurring of public and personal interests by elected officials is as old as representative government itself. This blur came to the fore in Wisconsin’s Washington County and has resulted in county leadership essentially forcing a supervisor to resign.

When the Washington County Board supervisor for District 11 moved away a few months ago, the County Board appointed a replacement, William Blanchard, to serve out the rest of the term. On Oct. 3, Blanchard submitted his resignation “under duress” due to an insurmountable conflict of interest.

At issue is the fact that Blanchard’s daughter receives significant care from various county departments. Upon investigation, county officials determined that because so many departments were involved, the only way to avoid the potential conflict of interest was for the county to outsource his daughter’s care to another county, at significant expense, or for Blanchard to resign.

The Washington County Ethics Board issued an opinion that although there was no “wrongdoing or ethical violation … there is a conflict of interest,” and “Blanchard should resign.” To that end, County Board Chairman Don Kriefall, County Administrator Josh Schoemann and County Attorney Brad Stern told Blanchard that he needed to resign.

This raises all kinds of questions. What constitutes a conflict of interest? According to the county’s code of ethics, a conflict of interest results from an official’s “action or failure to act in the discharge of his or her official duties which could reasonably be expected to produce or assist in producing a substantial economic or personal benefit.”

In this case, the potential conflict of interest exists if, and only if, Blanchard uses his office or votes on issues related to services that his daughter receives. The simple solution, which Blanchard offered to do, is for him to recuse himself from such votes. This is common and routine for elected officials. The Washington County Board, like every elected board, is riddled with conflicts. Supervisors and their families work for the county, use county services, serve on municipal governments, work in businesses that do work with the county, etc. It is impossible to have an elected county government full of citizens who do not actually live in the county.

For Blanchard, county officials insisted that they would need to outsource services for his daughter to avoid a potential conflict. Why? Again, the simple and cheap solution is for Blanchard to recuse himself if there is a conflict of interest. Outsourcing services to another county just to avoid a potential conflict of interest with one supervisor is an expensive overreaction. It is not the county’s duty to avoid the conflict. It is the supervisor’s. If the supervisor commits an ethical offense related to a conflict of interest, then the County Board can take action.

What is concerning about this is that county officials constructed an unreasonable standard to force an elected official out of office. Blanchard was faced with either resigning or being responsible for forcing the taxpayers to pay thousands of dollars of additional costs to care for his daughter. He was forced into this decision even though the simple act of recusing himself from relevant votes would have adequately sufficed to avoid a potential breach of ethics.

The downside of Blanchard’s potential conflict of interest is that he may have to skip a lot of votes. This would bring into question whether or not he is adequately representing the citizens of his district. But that decision is not for the county administrator, county attorney or County Board chairman to decide. That decision is up to the voters of District 11.

In a representative government, elected officials only have one boss — the people. Barring criminal corruption in office, which would justify removal from office, it is up to the people to decide who they want to represent them. If Blanchard recuses himself from a lot of votes, it is up to the people to decide whether that is good enough or not. And frankly, given that Washington County has a ridiculously large board with 26 supervisors, and it is exceedingly rare for any vote to come down to a single supervisor’s vote, it is unlikely that Blanchard’s vote would ever result in a “substantial economic or personal benefit.”

Washington County’s leadership undermined the tenets of representative government when they forced Blanchard to resign. It wasn’t their call. It should have been left for the voters to decide.

Bernie Evers Wants $15 Minimum Wage

Minimum!

MacIver News Service | Oct. 22, 2018

By Bill Osmulski and Chris Rochester

MILWAUKEE – Tony Evers stole Bernie Sanders’ socialist spotlight in Milwaukee on Monday when he told supporters that when it comes to the minimum wage “we’re going to $15 an hour minimum. Minimum.”

Sanders was in Milwaukee to rally the Democrat base around the party’s top candidates in next month’s election. Tony Evers, Gwen Moore, Randy Bryce, Tammy Baldwin, and Mandela Barnes were all there at the UWM student union. Several hundred people attended.

Given the location at one of the UW System’s top universities, Evers thought it was also a good time to admit being on the board of regents is “the worst part of my job.”

Nothing says “economic growth” like bone-crushing government regulations.

Sandra Day O’Connor Retires for Good

So sad.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has announced she is withdrawing from public life after being diagnosed with dementia.

In a letter released on Tuesday, the 88-year-old said doctors had diagnosed her with early-stage dementia and “probably Alzheimer’s disease”.

Justice O’Connor was the first woman to be appointed to the US top court, and a key swing vote. She retired in 2006.

She served as a visiting judge and civics educator after retiring.

Conflict in Washington County

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

Before he became the father of Texas, Stephen Fuller Austin served for a time in the territorial legislature of Missouri. He was a savvy, energetic legislator whose personal interests often aligned with the interests of his home district of Washington County.

For example, Austin aggressively pushed for a tariff to protect lead mining, the primary business in his district and his family’s business. He also advocated fiercely to get the government to grant a more favorable charter to the Bank of Missouri, of which his father was a founding director. Both efforts were intended for the benefit of his district and Missouri with the convenient side effect of directly benefiting Austin and his family.

The blurring of public and personal interests by elected officials is as old as representative government itself. This blur came to the fore in Wisconsin’s Washington County and has resulted in county leadership essentially forcing a supervisor to resign.