West Bend Shool District Considering Increasing Capital Maintenance Budget 40%

Interesting

WEST BEND — The West Bend School District capital improvements budget is projected to increase about $600,000 for the coming 2020-21 year in an effort to address some referendum related issues. But this increase does not cover everything,

including aging facilities that concern some district staff.

District Facilities Director Dave Ross said now is when he plans for summer projects, but this year is a little different with some pressing facility needs.

The capital budget has increased about four percent for approximately the last 10 years, he said. But this year the administration proposed a budget of $2.1 million, instead of the four percent increase, which would be about $1.5 million. The projects are primarily at the high school, with the library project about half the total projected budget.

As the West Bend Private School Task Force illustrated, this is needed. The district’s capital maintenance budget is underfunded and needs to be increased – probably more than double what it currently is. But there are two other things that the task force found that also need to be considered:

  1. The Task Force illustrated a way to address the district’s capital needs and increase this budget without increasing spending or taxes. It is unclear whether that is the intent here. This is a $600k proposed increase in one part of a $70 million budget. That’s a less than 1% increase. I would expect the School Board to find savings elsewhere to accommodate this increase and keep overall spending and taxing neutral.
  2. I still don’t see an actual district-wide plan for their capital infrastructure. So they will increase this part of the budget and tackle a couple of needs. OK. Then what? Is the plan to increase this budget a bit more and just whittle down the list of needs over the next several years? That would be fine, but I haven’t seen that articulated. I haven’t see any strategic direction coming from the School Board since the referendum failed last year. The stakeholders of the district deserve more.

Assembly Fails to Override Veto

That’s a shame. The unions still hold sway. Patients will suffer… maybe somebody you love.

State Assembly lawmakers attempted and failed Wednesday to override Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of a bill that would have decreased state training requirements for nurse aides.

Legislators voted along party lines, 63-36, on the veto override. All Republicans voted in favor of the override; all Democrats voted against. Veto overrides require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Evers vetoed the bill in November. Under the plan, certified nursing assistants would only be required to complete 75 hours of training, the federal minimum, in Wisconsin. Current state law requires 120 hours.

Students Lament Budget Cuts to Clubs, but There Weren’t Any

What a fascinating little story. Here’s the nub from Washington County Insider.

January 15, 2020 – West Bend, WI – During the Jan. 6, 2020 meeting of the West Bend School Board students packed the board room.  High school students and parents spoke about funds being cut for clubs like forensics and debate and the school music program was even mentioned.

When students in attendance were asked where the information about funding cuts came from, none could answer.

You can follow the link to see video of the students’ complaints and the board’s reaction.

So here’s the thing… there weren’t any cuts. None. At all. The school district budgeted the same amount for this year as they did last year. The Superintendent shared that what actually happened is that the Forensics/Debate clubs massively overspend their budget last year and just rolled into this year assuming that they could spend the same amount. They hit a wall and ran out of money and just assumed that their budget was “cut.” I posted my exchange with the superintendent at the bottom for more explanation, but here are a few thoughts about it:

  • How does a club with a $6,700 budget overspend it by $4,062? That’s a variance of 61%. Who signed off on that? What financial controls are in place? Is anyone being held accountable? I’m still hoping for answers to those questions.
  • Think about how this became an issue… students, clearly encouraged by their teachers and parents, flooded a school board meeting to complain about “budget cuts.” Where were the adults to teach these kids critical thinking? Did anyone of them actually look at the budget and expenditures before making that claim? Did anyone ask the administration or anyone else before going straight to the board? Were the adults that disinterested or too stupid to ask those questions themselves? It appears that the adults here were more interested in their kids being activists than in teaching them critical thinking, financial skills, or dispute resolution. These kids were really let down by the adults in their lives.
  • Perhaps worst of all was the reaction by school board member Nancy Justman. Without any evidence, facts, or, apparently, knowledge of the budgets that she voted for, she instantly took up the cause of the kids. She harangued the Superintendent to find the money and decried how deplorable the “budget cuts” were. She behaved more like a PTO member than an elected member of a public board responsible for the sound management of an entire school district.

There are still more details to uncover, but this story was very revealing from several angles. Here are more details from my conversation with the superintendent. This is a public record.

 

From: Don Kirkegaard [mailto:dkirkegaard@wbsd-schools.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 2:59 PM
To: Owen <owen@bootsandsabers.com>
Subject: Re: Spending

Hi Owen,

I am not sure if this answers your questions or not but do not hesitate to reach out if you have additional questions or need additional clarification.  

Where individual line items within our chart of accounts are monitored regularly for appropriate activity, our schools and programs are given an allocation for distribution and that allocation balance is monitored much more religiously than individual line items both by school administration and district administration.  

As both East and West high schools were well within their allocations, we were confident that the overage for forensics was able to be absorbed within the schools’ expenditures.  Further, this was not just one line item in our accounts but several; hence, there was not one large overage but rather several smaller ones which does happen on occasion.  

You are correct in that a budget is a financial plan and that plan changed slightly for this overage for forensics this past year.  This is why discussions occurred dating back to August and into the fall to be proactive as their season approached and to be financial stewards of their club allocation.  As stated in my earlier email, we’ll continue to work with our groups to make sure we maintain proper protocols for budget-to-activity monitoring.

 

On Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 10:25 AM Owen <owen@bootsandsabers.com> wrote:

Thanks, Don. Can you walk me through the process of how a budget gets overspent? Are their financial safeguards in place? Who authorized it? I assume that someone had to authorize the expenditure. Was that at the club level or admin?

Thanks. Budgets are always an estimate, but if they were going that far over budget, I’d just like to understand how that could happen.

 

From: Don Kirkegaard [mailto:dkirkegaard@wbsd-schools.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 10:46 AM
To: Owen <owen@bootsandsabers.com>
Subject: Re: Spending

Good morning Owen,

This is a complicated budgeting process.  There are district funds and district transportation and club funds.  Both East and West have separate allocations for forensics and debate is a combined activity.   I believe you are correct in that what was overspent in the past was actually consider the budget instead of the actual budget amount.  This spring we will look at the entire budget process.  In the case of forensics either the budget need to be adjusted to reflect the expenses or the expenses needs to be adjusted to reflect the budget.   For the 2019-20 school year, we are going to amend the budget to reflect the 2018-19 expenses.   Actual budgets were not decreased for the current year.

East and West each have a Forensics budget of $6,700 plus transportation.  Forensics are separate but debate is combined.  Last year, West had expenses that were $356 over the budget and East had expenses that were $4,062 over budget.  There may have been some expenses that were miscoded from West to East and East attended several more events than West.

We are going to make it work for the current year and have more in the future.

Thank you,

Don Kirkegaard

 

On Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 7:21 AM Owen <owen@bootsandsabers.com> wrote:

Good morning, Don.

I’ve been following with interest the kerfuffle over extracurricular club funding. The story in the paper did not have any specifics. Could you please tell me:

–        What was the budget for extracurricular clubs last year?

–        How much did they overspend?

–        Who overspent? Which club(s)?

–        What is the budget this year? Same?

I understand from the story in the Daily News that the overage was covered by a budget surplus last year. Is the whole issue here that they overspent and thought that was the new budget?

Thanks,

Owen

Hallelujah and Pass the Tylenol

Some of you may have noticed that the blog has been down for a couple of days. We had a server move that didn’t go as smoothly as expected. Now I have all of this pent up commentary but no time to write at the moment… more to come :)

Corrupt Former UWO Officials Reach Plea Deal in Criminal Cases

This better not be a sweetheart deal. Public corruption involving millions of taxpayer dollars needs to be severely punished.

OSHKOSH – The public will have to wait until Wednesday to learn more about the plea agreement two former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh executives made in a criminal misconduct case stemming from their involvement with the university’s private foundation.

Former Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice Chancellor Tom Sonnleitner, who have been free on $10,000 signature bonds since their first court hearing in June 2018, reached a deal with prosecutors, Assistant Attorney General Richard Chiapete said this week in a letter to the court.

Winnebago County Circuit Judge John Jorgensen on Friday granted a request from Sonnleitner’s defense attorney, former federal prosecutor Steven Biskupic, to seal the agreement until the end of Wednesday’s plea and sentencing hearing.

[…]

The Wisconsin Department of Justice charged Wells and Sonnleitner in April 2018 with five counts each of misconduct in office in excess of their authority as a party to a crime after negotiations stalled in the lawsuit, which the UW System filed more than a year before. The Justice Department also represents the UW System in the civil case.

The criminal complaint, which largely mirrors the lawsuit, claims Wells and Sonnleitner improperly funneled $11 million in taxpayer money into five foundation building projects: the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel; the Culver Family Welcome Center; two biodigesters, which turn waste into electricity; and the Oshkosh Sports Complex, which includes Titan Stadium.

The complaint also outlines how Wells and Sonnleitner wrote a series of “comfort letters” to various lenders, assuring the banks the university would help out if the foundation was unable to make loan payments. The DOJ says money can’t go from the university to the foundation under state law. Attorneys for both men argued the letters did not constitute legally binding commitments.

Trump Deploys The Hulk to the Border

Hehe.

As the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno brought the bad guys to book with his famous thunderclap, a signature superhero move as loud as a sonic boom or a hurricane.

But the actor most famous for bringing the Marvel Comics legend to life in the long-running 1970s CBS television series will have to rely on more traditional crime-fighting tools in his latest role, as a sheriff’s deputy in the New Mexico desert.

The 68-year-old former bodybuilder will be sworn in on Thursday as the newest recruit of the Socorro county sheriff’s department.

As a deputy, Ferrigno will continue a journey in law and order that began as the ferocious green alter ego of Dr David Bruce Banner on the small screen and progressed to real-life spells as a reserve deputy in two California counties … and as a member of notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer posse which targeted illegal immigrants.

No Bail Policy Allows Crook to Continue Crime Spree

Some folks are trying to bring this to Wisconsin.

A serial bank robber targeted four New York banks, was released under the city’s new law which requires no bail for holding suspects, only to strike a fifth financial institution, police claim.

The suspect, Gerold Woodberry, 42, is alleged to have robbed banks in New York’s Midtown Manhattan, Harlem, West Village and the Upper West Side, since December 30, sources said.

However, under the new ‘no bail’ law, he was released on Thursday.

‘I can’t believe they let me out,’ sources said he was overheard saying on the way out of the New York Police Department’s headquarters, reports the New York Post.

‘What were they thinking?’ he added, allegedly striking a fifth bank in Downtown Brooklyn on Friday, the sources told the Post.

[…]

The new law, designed to reduce jail overcrowding and which went into effect in the new year, drops the bail requirement for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, including robberies.

Texas Won’t Accept Refugees

In case you missed it Wisconsin is.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott says the state will reject the resettlement of new refugees. Texas will become the first state known to do so under a recent Trump administration order.

In a letter released Friday, Abbott wrote that Texas “has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” He added that Texas, which typically takes in thousands of refugees each year, has done “more than its share.”

“At this time, the state and non-profit organizations have a responsibility to dedicate available resources to those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless-indeed, all Texans,” Abbott said, according to CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Neighbors in Town of Hartford disappointed in County Board annexation vote

Neighbors in the Town of Hartford left the Washington County Courthouse upset and frustrated following a 15-8 vote authorizing a petition for annexation of the Washington County Golf Course and Family Park to the City of Hartford.

Those voting in favor of the annexation included supervisors: Mike Bassill, Chris Bosert, Russell Brandt, James Burg, Kris Deisss, Brian Gallitz, Chris Jenkins, Denis Kelling, Don Kriefall, Mark McCune, Carroll Merry, Tim Michalak, Jeffrey Schleif, Keith Stephen, and William Symicek.

Supervisors voting against the annexation include Richard Bertram, Marcella Bishop, Rock Brandner, Joe Gonnering, Robert Hartwig, Brian Krebs, Marilyn Merten, and Peter Sorce.

Supervisors John Bulawa and Roger Kist were not in attendance.

County Administrator Joshua Schoemann began the meeting saying, “what the county board is deciding today is not if the annexation of the Golf Course is going to happen but when the annexation of the Golf Course will happen.”

Schoemann said because “this was a business meeting” the public would not be allowed to speak.

Two people from Gehring View Farms, 4630 Highway 83, Christine and Derik Gehring sat in the front row holding photos of their family farm. Derik is a seventh-generation farmer.

The county indicated the sale of the property meant future development and revenue for the county.  Schoemann said he visited neighbors to the County Golf Course on Monday, January 6 and “none of those folks have any interest in annexation and several of them said to me one day they knew this would happen.”

Neighbors in the Town of Hartford said they feared two things with the annexation including higher taxes in the City of Hartford and losing their view with subdivisions in their backyard.

Laurel Jaeke from the Town of Hartford said the bottom line was money. “The supervisors even said it in their discussion that it was for money,” she said. “This is going to hurt farmers because the annexation of the golf course will open the gateway to continued development and …. with the continued march up and outside of the city into agricultural lands prevents farmers from growing crops they need to support their cows. This is a sad day for the Town of Hartford.”

Supervisor Marcella Bishop – “I feel very strongly this County Board is jumping the gun on this local municipality. We should let the local municipalities take care of their own business.”

Supervisor Richard Bertram – “I was told we should look at parks as quality of life. Where can people take their kids. All of a sudden now this particular parcel here doesn’t seem like that’s a good quality of life. Now we want to change this. As far as us selling parks was not to make a ton of money but I can honestly tell you….  if I gave property to the county, I’d be one ticked off person that the county is trying to make money on what I gave them to have a park.”

Supervisor Kris Deiss – “Everything that has been done is just the way government functions and I understand that for people who aren’t a county board supervisor or involved in government it’s always so hard to understand what the heck we’re doing. But we’re trying the best we can.”

Supervisor Chris Bossert tried to compare the situation to eating a large pizza and then his girlfriend also eating a large pizza. “This is not a money grab,” he said. “I saw a comment on Facebook that this proposal if the annexation goes through the people in the Town of Hartford would see their taxes double.” County administrator said “no, this will have nothing to do with that.”

Supervisor Mark McCune – “It does come down to money. One of my favorite hobbies; I like money. This helps our county to have more money.”

Supervisor Brian Krebs – “Before we go through the process of annexing this piece of property, I think it’s better if the county goes through and actually takes the time to acknowledge what the future of the golf course will be. I think we should take an honest look at what do we want with the golf course.”

Supervisor Joseph Gonnering referenced the Washington County 4-H students who were honored at the start of the meeting. “Where would they be today if we didn’t have Fair Park? There was a time when it was being looked at to get rid of Fair Park. But where would these kids be today without our parks system as a whole and people who live in this county and outside of the county use the parks whether they’re mowed or not. We threw a lot of money into Family Park to start with and it’s a shame we’re not keeping it up, but to get rid of it is not a good thing to do.”

Supervisor Robert Hartwig – “My wife said to me now that you’re retired, we should take the grand kids to all the parks. That’s my question for people who go to Family Park. How many people from the subdivision attend this park? That’s one of my big reasons… why would we want to get rid of this. The golf course is paid for. We should hang onto it and not annex at this time. Plus, I see a gentleman in the audience with a picture of his farm. I can see his concern, if the golf course gets annexed down the road there will be subdivisions moving out and the next thing you know they’ll be after his farm as well. This kid caught my eye and it helped make my mind up to vote no.” With the approval of the annexation the county will now submit a letter to the Department of Administration and then a letter will also be written to the City of Hartford. The process should take about two months before it gets to the City of Hartford.

After the meeting some of the Town of Hartford people in the gallery talked about how the project was rushed through. One person talking in the hallway outside the county board chambers indicated the upcoming April 7, 2020 election may have played a part in the timing of the annexation.

An icon in Hartford will retire Friday, January 10 from McDonald’s on Highway 60

That lady at the McDonald’s drive thru in Hartford. The one who has been there the past 26 years. The one who knows you by the sound of your voice or your specific order. You may want to take a moment Friday, January 10 to stop and visit and say “thanks” because tomorrow Sandy Thiele is retiring.

She’s been called an “icon” in Hartford. Folks around town know her. She’s the lady in the drive thru; the one that calls everybody ‘Hunny.’

“It’s time,” said Thiele. “I’ve been here at this McDonald’s since I was 40.”

Hired by her manager Jon Schmidt, Thiele still has the spunk, common sense and customer service that’s made her a recognizable face in the community.

Thiele, 66, recollects about the changes she’s seen in her two decades plus. “We didn’t have all these coffee specialty drinks,” she said.

“We always had the hamburger and cheeseburger… but they were cheaper back then. Do you remember the brats? And the McRib… those were fun,” she said.

Thiele said the “customers are the best people in the world.”

“One lady gets a large coffee, two cream, shot of caramel, and one egg biscuit and all she does is pull up and says my name and I put her order in,” said Thiele.

Customers recognize her voice too…. or her signature Green Bay Packer hat or the familiar face in the first drive-thru window at McDonald’s. Thiele’s there at work, Monday through Friday at 6 a.m.

Thiele’s view outside her window has changed over the last 26 years. “Walgreens wasn’t there,” she said. “The dry cleaners was there; and then they moved that. Kwik Trip wasn’t there. Culvers was a Hardees and that wasn’t Piggly Wiggly it was County Market and we had a Blockbuster back there.”

On Friday there will be a ‘thank you’ celebration at McDonald’s in Hartford. Feel free to stop in and wish Sandy well.

Accolades pour in as WB alderman and WC supervisor Roger Kist resigns from office

Accolades are flooding in following word West Bend Dist. 8 alderman and Washington County Dist. 2 Supervisor Roger Kist has submitted a letter of resignation.

According to West Bend Clerk Stephanie Justmann the letter was presented Friday, January 10 just after noon.

Dated January 10, 2020 the letter says: “After careful consideration and conversations with family, I am tending my resignation as City of West Bend Alderman for District 8 effective immediately, pursuant to Section 17.01, Wis. Stats., due to my current health issues. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the City of West Bend, Wisconsin in this position since April 2009.”

There are few communities as lucky as Washington County to have a plethora of people dedicated to helping make it a better place. One of the notable community leaders is Roger Kist. Officials from Washington County, the City of West Bend and local non-profits offered a comment when they heard the news with many of the notes focusing on the same theme of “dedication and community service.”

Washington County Supervisor and former Washington County Clerk Marilyn Merten – Way before Roger was on county board, I worked with him on Land Use and Parks. He got things done around the courthouse, so it looked appropriate. Roger was always someone who was willing to help keep the county in good operation. He was a very dedicated individual who wanted to do service to the public. His idea on the county board was service. When he was Ranger Roger he was always dedicated to the parks and he did whatever he could to see the parks were taken care of. I remember Roger would stop into the clerk’s office to see everything was kosher. Roger had a very old-school type of dedication.

Former West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow – It is not too often someone truly dedicates a lifetime to public service. Roger is one of rare individuals who has. My most sincere Thank You and utmost gratitude go out to both Roger and his family for their dedication to West Bend and Washington County.

Former Washington County Board Chairman Ken Miller – Roger was in parks for a long time and managed all the parks in the county. I didn’t always agree with Roger’s vote as a representative with the county, but he sure did manage the parks well and he kept them top notch. As chairman of the Republican Party he did a good job letting everybody know what was going on.

Former Washington County Fair Park Executive Director Sandy Lang – We always knew him as Ranger Roger from the parks system. I’ve known Roger and Denise more so as friends from their community service and church. He’s an all-around great guy. Roger always took on a lot; when he said he was going to do something he did it to completion.

Assembly Rep. Rick Gundrum – I enjoyed serving with Roger on the Washington County Board. He was a very dedicated public servant who took his role as County Supervisor seriously. Roger made it a priority to attend all committee meetings so when it was time to vote he’d be well informed on the issues. Whether he agreed with you or not on an issue Roger was always respectful of your views and opinions.

Janean Brudvig, Executive Director of Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County – Roger has been a wonderfully dedicated friend of Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County. We got to know Roger better several years ago when he was looking for help with his brother. As he learned about our organization and how we help the elderly in our community – Roger did what Roger does so very well – he became an advocate of our mission, helping folks age independently, and he became involved!! Since then, Roger has served an active role, supporting and attending many of our events and activities. Roger was also a member of our newly formed Senior Corps Advisory Board, helping to get it off the ground.

Kist announced in November 2019 he would not be running for reelection to the County Board in April 2020. He served as a supervisor since winning election in April 2016. Kist turned in his non-candidacy papers early. Joseph R. Vespalec has already turned in signatures to run for the seat in April 2020.

Kist is still a sitting alderman in West Bend District 8.  His current term on the council was scheduled to end in 2021.  Kist was elected District 8 alderman in 2009. He beat incumbent Neal Narveson; Kist has won reelection to the two-year term ever since. In April 2014, Kist took out papers to run for mayor of West Bend. He challenged incumbent Kraig Sadownikow and lost, however he retained his aldermanic seat in Dist. 8.

The West Bend Common Council will meet to determine how to fill the seat in Dist. 8. According to the City Clerk the open seat will not be added to the April 7, 2020 ballot. In the past the city has accepted applications and following a review the council has appointed a replacement.

Kist retired as manager of Washington County Parks in September 2003; he held that position for 35 years.

Kist joined the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau in September 2003.

Kist was a young pup when he moved to Ridge Run Park in November 1967. Originally hired as caretaker of the park, Kist said it “reminded me a lot of when I worked on the farm.” A supervisor at the park, Kist sported a handlebar mustache and eventually became a fixture known as Ranger Roger.

“When I was on the council, I was also chairman of the local Republican Party,” said Kist. “I remember Mike Schlotfeldt was elected alderman and he chaired the Democratic Party. When he sat down, he looked over at me like the devil had just shown up.”

Kist took his time and built a relationship with the representative from Dist. 6. “When Mike decided not to run again, we had a little party and he said to me, ‘Roger you’re the only friend I’ve got.’”

Over the years Kist has made quite a few friends and below are some comments from those he’s met along the way who talk about the impact he’s made in this county.

West Bend Police Chief Ken Meuler: I met Roger before he ever ran for alderperson as he has always been actively involved in the community. He donates his time to a number of community events, and supports almost every community function. Anyone out in the community will see him at Music on Main, Farmer’s Market, church festivals, parades, and numerous fundraisers in the community. During his time as an alderperson he has not been someone that pounds his fists or grandstands, but he always speaks up on issues that are important to him and his constituents. He has called me on a number of police issues to get a better understanding of our policies and practices. He has been a strong supporter of the police throughout his tenure as alderperson. I have always enjoyed working with Roger as an alderperson and appreciate all he has done for the community. More important, I value his friendship.

Leah Baughman at Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County: “Roger Kist is very active and in touch with the West Bend community and knows what is needed to help support its citizens. When asked if he would like to be a part of the Interfaith/RSVP Advisory Council Roger very graciously accepted right away. Even though this venture has just begun he has been an important member that has contributed many great ideas and support.”

Todd Tennies remembered Kist when he worked and lived at Ridge Run Park. “As a little boy I can remember going to Ridge Run Park and riding bikes past the log cabin as we headed to our favorite fishing spot. Roger would always stop and say ‘Hi’ and ask us how the fishing was. He was always friendly and willing to talk to us kids. After his retirement from the county he settled in and served the community through his involvement in city government. He did a great job and always had an interest in what was best for the community. His interest in our county also carried over into the Tourism Committee for Washington County. He did an extraordinary job promoting the Washington County Fair Park as well as all of our wonderful parks we have in this county. Great job Roger.”

Dist. 5 alderman Rich Kasten said Kist is somebody he really admires. “The things he’s accomplished at the county and city and he can still walk down the street and people know him from Ridge Run Park. I wish I could be more like him with his ability to relate to people and between him and his wife the way they’re prepared for every meeting. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to spend time on the council with him.”

Dist. 4 alderman Chris Jenkins -“I am shocked to see Roger, who is such a pillar in our community, step away from serving, but considering the amount of time and dedication he’s put into our community over many of our lifetimes – this is a well-deserved rest. I will remember Roger as the guy who would pull me aside and give me his straight-forward unabashed opinion no matter what. He spoke up during meetings whenever he felt compelled, he attended every event and meeting he could, and his lifetime of service is one to be admired. I thank him for the opportunity to serve alongside him on the West Bend Common Council and Washington County Board and wish him and his wife nothing but the best as he enjoys retirement!”

West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau said Kist’s name is relatively synonymous with park land and this community. “To promote the development, use and preserving of parks and the fact he has not wavered in his opinion is really a tribute to him. He’s everywhere. He’s the longstanding West Bend member of the Mid-Moraine Municipal Association and he attends league conferences and the Alliance meetings.”

Former West Bend city clerk Amy Reuteman spent 15 years at City Hall and noted, “Roger Kist has been there forever. And he’s early; you can always count on Roger to be early.”

Thank you, Roger Kist, for your dedication and service to help make West Bend and Washington County a great community.

Property 111 – 117 N. Main Street in downtown West Bend has sold

The property in downtown West Bend that’s home to R. W. Baird & Company, 111 – 117 N. Main Street, has been sold.  Ascendant Holdings has sold the building to TRS105, LLC for $650,000.

TRS105, LLC also owns the building to the south at 105-107 N. Main Street. Adam Williquette, president of American Commercial Real Estate handled the transaction for Ascendant.

This leaves Ascendant Holding with one property in downtown West Bend located at 262 N. Main Street which is also still available for sale through American.

Also, this week, an American Commercial Real Estate sign for lease was put up on the former Gehl site. This location will be home to a 68-room TownPlace Suites and 15,000 square foot office building that will break ground in spring.  There is still approximately 8,000 square feet available for lease with occupancy of both properties targeted for fall 2020.

Ballot order for local races on April 7, 2020 Spring Election

The deadline to turn in candidacy papers for the April 7, 2020 Spring Election was Tuesday, January 7 and now the next task is to determine how the names are listed on the ballot.

In West Bend city clerk Stephanie Justmann oversaw the process on Wednesday afternoon at City Hall.

For the West Bend mayor’s race Rich Kasten will be listed first followed by Chris Jenkins.

District 3 alderperson will have Mary Ann Rzeszutek listed first and Brett Berquist second.

District 7 alderman will have incumbent Justice Madl first and Oscar Estrada second.

There is also an election in Dist. 1 and Dist. 5 however those seats are uncontested. Incumbent John Butschlick is running again in Dist. 1 and Jed Dolnick is running for alderman in Dist. 5.

The mayor’s seat carries a 3-year term in office and aldermen are elected to 2-year terms.

In the Village of Kewaskum there are four people running for three seats on the Village Board. They are all elected at-large on a non-partisan ballot to two-year terms.

Sarah Severance (I), Richard Knoebel (I), Richard Laubach (I), Rob Klein

In Washington County there are 26 seats on the County Board up for election and in five of those districts there are contested races.

In the Germantown School District, there are two seats open; No. 3 and No. 5. For seat No. 3, Lester Spies is the incumbent and running against Amanda Reinemann. For seat No. 5, incumbent Bob Soderberg is running against Tracy Pawlak.

Fire sprinklers activated following smoke at The Pavilion at Glacier Valley in Slinger

There was a bit of smoke and at The Pavilion at Glacier Valley, 1900 American Eagle Drive, on Monday afternoon, January 6. Slinger Police Captain Joshua Gullickson said the initial call came in at 4:20 p.m.

The call was for a sprinkler system activation. “When officers arrived, smoke was visible but no flames,” said Gullickson. “Slinger Fire Department was dispatched to the scene and the cause of the sprinkler activation was an overheat malfunction of a heating unit in one wing of the facility.”

Gullickson said residents were moved to a different part of the building. No injuries were reported to residents, staff or emergency responders. The Pavilion is described as “short-term rehabilitation, respite and long-term care.”

January 7 West Bend Plan Commission public hearing for No. 5 Kwik Trip postponed

Just received word the agenda for the Tuesday, January 7 West Bend Plan Commission has changed. The 6:01 p.m. public hearing for a request for a conditional use permit to allow a gas station use at 1613 and 1637 W. Washington Street, by Leah Berlin Kwik Trip Inc. has been rescheduled and it will be held at the February Plan Commission meeting instead.

City officials said the public hearing was postponed because there were a number of items Kwik Trip still needed to address and it would be easier to reschedule the meeting so all items could be discussed.

Kwik Trip will also be organizing a neighborhood meeting soon to answer questions from the community. Stay tuned. The public meeting is held in the council chambers and at City Hall.

Brett Berquist files to run in Dist. 3 for West Bend Common Council

The deadline is Tuesday, January 7, 2020, for all candidates to file paperwork and signatures if they plan on participating in the April 7, 2020 Spring Election. According to the Wisconsin Election Commission Washington County Circuit Court Judge Branch 2 Justice James K. Muehlbauer has filed the appropriate number of signatures to run again.

In West Bend another candidate filed papers to run for common council. Brett Berquist will be running for District 3 alderman. Berquist, 59, is a former West Bend Police Officer. A life-long resident of West Bend and Washington County.

“I worked as a prison guard, at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and I was at Moraine Park and then I was sworn into the West Bend Police Department in 1994 and worked 20 years for the city and retired in 2014,” he said.

Berquist also went overseas as a member of National Guard. “I went to Iraq in 2003 -2004,” he said. “I was there for 14 months total.”

After retirement Berquist said he was looking for something to do and wanted to get back to serving the community. “I’ve always been about service,” he said. “My career was part of it and the military; when I got out of police work, I found a new connection with my faith and it’s good timing to give back.”

Berquist said he spent seven hours recently collecting signatures. “I managed to get two blocks in my district,” he said. Some of the hot topics were roads and the special assessment for neighbors following construction on 18th Avenue.

“As far as roads are concerned if we want to have good stuff, we have to pay for it,” he said. “Bottom line is we would like to be fiscally conservative and keep taxes low but there are also requirements.”

Berquist said this is his first time running for a political position.

He called his former co-worker, interim mayor Steve Hoogester, for advice. “This isn’t about me or an ego it’s about doing the right thing,” he said.

Incumbent Dist. 3 alderman Andrew Chevalier turned in his non-candidacy papers on Dec. 11, 2019. Chevalier followed in his father’s footsteps and was elected to the council in April 2018.

There will be a race for the seat in Dist. 3 as Mary Ann Rzeszutek filed a declaration of candidacy in December.

New restaurant in Germantown makes list of Top New Restaurants in 2019

Congrats to Chef Jodi Kanzenbach of Germantown as her restaurant, Precinct Tap & Table, has made the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel list of the Top New Restaurants in 2019.

Reporter Carol Deptolla writes: Much of the menu is shareable plates that change with the seasons or when the chef wants to try something new — things like ginger chicken in crisp tempura with mango sticky rice, or shrimp with rice cakes browned in miso and butter, curry pickles on the side.  It’s good to see a chef bring the sort of plates to a suburban restaurant that neighbors would have had to drive downtown for before.

It was May 2019 when Kanzenbach announced on WashingtonCountyInsider.com that she was closing Cafe Seourette in downtown West Bend and investing in a new location in Germantown, W161N11629 Church Street.

April 2020 contest for District 3 on Hartford Common Council

There will be a race for alderman in Hartford in spring. Three of the aldermanic seats are up for election. Dennis Hegy, alderperson in District 2 is running again as is Jeff Turchi in District 1.  Both will be unopposed.

In District 3, Hartford City Council President Barry Wintringer filed non-candidacy. He has been in office nine years.

As of the 5 p.m. deadline tonight there were two people who filed papers for that district including Kyle Sikora and Kathy Isleb. Some may recognize Isleb’s name; she used to be an alderperson several years back. Ironically Isleb was the incumbent in District 3 when she lost to challenger Barry Wintringer in 2011. The race in District 3 in Hartford will be on the April 7, 2020 ballot.

Updates & Tidbits

-Two Catholic schools in West Bend are inviting the community to come visit and learn about the great educational opportunity available. St. Frances Cabrini School, 529 Hawthorn Drive, is hosting a pancake breakfast and open house on Sunday, January 26 from 8:30 a.m. – noon. Holy Angels School, 230 N. Eighth Avenue, is holding an open house and kindergarten roundup from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 26.

-On Wednesday evening, January 8, the Hartford Police and Fire Commission unanimously approved the appointment of Scott MacFarlan as the eighth Police Chief in Hartford history. MacFarlan is currently the Administrative Lieutenant at the HPD. He has held this position for the past 13 years. MacFarlan has been with the HPD a total of 24 years. He will replace Chief David Groves who will retire February 10, 2020. Groves served as Chief of Police since July 27, 2006.

– Auto Safety Center and Interfaith Caregivers teamed up this past holiday to collect food for the Full Shelf Food Pantry in West Bend. On Friday, January 3 the locally owned Auto Safety Center and the non-profit pooled their donations and turned them over to the Full Shelf Food Pantry. Many thanks to everyone who participated.

– Beginning January 1, 2020, Tony Burgard assumed the position of Fire Chief for the Richfield Volunteer Fire Company after being elected in December 2019. Chief Burgard takes over for Chief John Schmitz, who retired at the end of 2019.

– Learn why excellent Christian schooling is the No. 1 choice for families today. Take a tour during the January 21 Open House at Ozaukee Christian School, 1214 Highway 33, West Bend.

Small, safe classes, develop resilient Christ-followers, teachers go the extra mile for you and your child, need-based financial aid available (up to $100,000) Open House is TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, at 6:30 p.m.

– The Hartford Rotary Club and Hartford Union High School are pleased to announce that Abigail Holappa, Katie Pulvermacher and Bryce Zimdars were honored recently as Rotary Students of the Month.

– Cedar Community annual Chili Social and Used Book Sale is January 25. Enjoy chicken quesadillas, our famous chili with all the fixings (corn chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and onions), fruit, cookie, coffee, lemonade, or hot apple cider–all for only $8.50. Quarts of chili to go for $8. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Grand Hall – Cedar Community, Cedar Ridge Campus, 113 Cedar Ridge Drive, West Bend

Letter to the Editor | Is Washington County Board proposed development putting local farming at risk | By Elaine Gehring 

I am writing to express serious concern about the agenda item on Wednesday’s County Board Meeting agenda regarding the issue of seeking annexation of the golf course property by the City of Hartford.  I believe that the decision made on this issue reaches much farther than the golf course property itself.

The golf course property is the gateway that opens the way for further long-range development into valuable existing farmland north of the City of Hartford. I believe the county supervisors need to carefully consider this annexation issue and the delicate balance between city development and the agricultural economy of Washington County.

I understand that change is inevitable and agree with Supervisor McCune when he stated at a recent Executive Committee Meeting that “we could be looking at something completely different 20 years from now with the game of golf.”  Supervisor McCune also stressed the need for flexibility in the use of this golf course property; however, please consider how this whole issue has developed.

Earlier this year, the Town of Hartford Zoning Board refused to rezone a three-acre parcel just west of the Family Park so that several lots could be developed and sold.    When that Board declined to approve the rezoning, the response by Supervisor McCune was to bring forth to the Executive Committee the discussion on seeking annexation for all of the county-owned land at that location, including the golf course.  For many of us taxpayers looking on, this has rapidly grown from a small issue into an enormous question with significant long-lasting impacts.

These impacts could endanger the future of rural agriculture in the immediate area for years to come – long past the 20 years referred to by Supervisor McCune.  It is no secret many farmers in our area and all around Wisconsin are struggling; part of that struggle involves the farmers’ ability to rent or secure enough acreage to maintain their dairy herds.  For dairy farmers, their milk checks are their primary income – if they can’t grow and provide enough feed for their herds, they are out of business.

So how does this relate to the annexation of the County’s golf course by  the City of Hartford?   Annexation by the City of Hartford isn’t just about flexibility or the capability to hook up utilities.

As I mentioned earlier, the golf course property serves as the gateway for further annexation by the City of Hartford and further residential development into valuable existing farmland – farmland that currently enables local farmers to feed their herds and stay in business.  Currently the surrounding farmland is protected from development because the golf course property is within the Town of Hartford, so adjoining land cannot be annexed; the proposed annexation would change that.

Perhaps that development will come in the future and may even be necessary – but today’s not that day…

This issue will be discussed at the County Board meeting this Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Washington County Administrative Building on Hwy 33 – please consider attending the meeting or contacting County Board Supervisors to ask them to vote no to this resolution or at least to table the resolution to provide opportunity and time for further consideration and for a public meeting and taxpayer input.

Please help us protect the delicate balance that exists in Washington County between city development and the valuable agricultural economy.

Elaine Gehring    Hartford

Letter to the Editor | County Board proposed annexation in Town of Hartford could challenge future of farming | By Derik Gehring

I am a seventh-generation dairy farmer in the Town of Hartford. I hope you can take a minute to read this.

I don’t know the full story or background on this issue, but I just learned about this new challenge to the future of farming and agriculture in our area, as well as the country lifestyle the residents of rural areas enjoy, and I thought you’d want to be aware of it.

The County Board is moving toward asking Hartford to annex the golf course and will be discussing it at the County Board Meeting this Wednesday.

The golf course is currently within the Town of Hartford. Recently the Town’s zoning board refused to rezone the Family Park and some land on Clover Road to residential as the County wanted to sell lots there. The follow-up is that the Executive Committee is now pushing to have the City annex the whole golf course and take it out of the control of the Town of Hartford completely.

As Hartford Mayor Michalak makes clear in a West Bend Times Press article, this will clear the way for annexation and further development of land beyond the golf course. The issue I see with developing land leads to further loss of valuable land for agriculture and the country lifestyle for the rest of the Town residents. It appears that the value/needs of rural and agricultural interests in our county are taking a backseat to city development. Annexation by the City of Hartford of the golf course opens the door to such development.

This issue appears to be on a fast track with the issue going to the County Board on Wednesday. At the very least, it seems this should be put on hold to provide opportunity for taxpayer input and public meetings, etc. As concerned citizens have asked county supervisors in the past, about other issues, what’s the rush?!

***As a concerned citizen of the Town of Hartford, please consider contacting county supervisors and ask them to vote No on the annexation of land to the City of Hartford.

I will be sharing the contact info of the supervisors in the comments, but here is a link to the contact information of the county supervisors: www.co.washington.wi.us/departments.iml…

Open the “Supervisors” tab and “more” opens their email address you can click and send your comments to. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO VOICE YOUR OPINION TO THEM! They need to be asked to vote No on the annexation of the golf course to the City of Hartford.

The county board meeting takes place THIS WEDNESDAY January 8, 2020 at 6p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse in West Bend, WI. The public is welcome and may or may not get a chance to speak, but presence will show how important this issue is to us. If you would like to attend, you may.

Feel free to share the information to others. Thank you and have a great day!

Derik Gehring     Town of Hartford

Letter to the Editor | Town of Hartford residents push back on development proposal by County Board | By Karen and Greg Romagna

This is in response to the Washington County Board wanting to have the City of Hartford annex the Washington County Golf Course and the Family Park.

Contrary to what Mr. Michalak says, we in the Town of Hartford around the golf course are not interested in having further development around the golf course and do not wish to be part of the City of Hartford now or in the future.

We are rural and agriculture land. As Mr. Michalak makes clear annexing will clear the way for there to be further development of land beyond the golf course than the Town of Hartford rules allow, meaning loss of valuable rural and agricultural land in order that the City of Hartford can expand.

We are in the subdivision east of the golf course in the Town of Hartford and wish to remain rural and do not want to have subdivisions going up around us with barely half-acre lots and tons of houses and more loss of farming land.

This issue appears to be on the fast track with it going to the County Board on Wednesday, January 8 at 6 p.m.

What is the hurry on it, why were meetings canceled, and where is the opportunity for taxpayer and residents of the area input and public meetings, etc?

We are asking the County Board to hold off on passing the resolution until there is further discussion with all parties involved.

Thank you,  Karen and Greg Romagna      Ernst Dr., Town of Hartford

Letter to the Editor | Annexation followed by proposed reduction in size of Washington County Board | By Diane Pedersen

Recently I read two Letters to the Editor regarding annexing the Washington County Golf Course from the Town of Hartford into the City of Hartford.

While that may not seem like a big issue to some it means the golf property would be subject to the zoning rules of City of Hartford. That might just be the tip of the iceberg as adjoining properties could then be annexed into the City based on WI State Statutes for new development reducing the size of towns.

In addition to the golf course issue it is important to know your Washington County Board of Supervisors has discussed reduction of the number of districts, reducing the number of Supervisors. How does that affect you?

Currently there are 26 Supervisor Districts and district borders are determined by calculating each district with a similar population number. Currently nine (9) district Supervisors represent towns. The remaining 17 Supervisors represent cities and villages.

The current Washington County population is approximately 135,000 resulting in approximately 5,200 residents per district. If the districts are reduced to 21 the result is approximately 6,450 residents per district. Where will the approximately 1, 250 residents come from to determine the new districts? It could be worse if the number of districts is less than 21.

One possible plan could be to expand all the districts within current cities and villages. If that is the ultimate outcome all the Washington County Board of Supervisors would come from cities and villages. Residents who live in towns would not have a county representative who thinks and supports town and agricultural culture.

If the idea of NO representation for residents living in towns bothers you, call ALL 26 Washington County Supervisors and let them know your concerns.

Just 26 phone calls to let your voice be heard. Phone numbers can be found by clicking HERE.

Diane Pedersen  Richfield

Disclaimer: Opinions and letters published in http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com are not necessarily the views of the Editor, or Publisher. The http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com reserves the right to edit or omit copy, in accordance with newspaper policies. Letters to the Editor must be attributed with a name, address and contact phone number – names and town of origin will be printed, or may be withheld at the Editor’s discretion. During the course of any election campaign, letters to the editor dealing with election issues or similar material must contain the author’s name and street address (not PO Box) for publication.

Special Interest Bloomberg

I got a kick out of this ad from Mike Bloomberg that popped up on my Facebook feed. Bloomberg has never taken a penny from the special interests because he literally IS the special interests. He directly funds special interest groups like Everytown that advocate to change policies. There’s nothing wrong with that. He can spend his money to support causes in which he believes. But it is more than disingenuous for a candidate to pretend that he abhors special interests when he is the money behind them.

Womanizing Tortoise Saves Species

Good for you, dude.

(CNN)A womanizing tortoise whose rampant sex life may have single-handedly saved his entire species from extinction has retired from his playboy lifestyle, returning to the wild with his mission accomplished.

Diego’s unstoppable libido was credited as a major reason for the survival of his fellow giant tortoises on Espanola, part of the Galapagos Islands, after being shipped over from San Diego zoo as part of a breeding program.
When he started his campaign of promiscuity, there were just two males and 12 females of his species alive on the island.
But the desirable shell-dweller had so much sex he helped boost the population to over 2,000. The Galapagos National Parks service believe the 100-year-old tortoise is the patriarch of around 40% of that population.

Majority of Americans Are Full of Envy

Envy is a destructive emotion.

But it may have broad public support, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that found nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that the very rich should pay more.

Among the 4,441 respondents to the poll, 64% strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs” – the essence of a wealth tax. Results were similar across gender, race and household income. While support among Democrats was stronger, at 77%, a majority of Republicans, 53%, also agreed with the idea.

A wealth tax is levied on an individual’s net worth, such as stocks, bonds and real estate, as well as cash holdings, similar in concept to property taxes. It is separate from an income tax, which applies to wages, interest and dividends, among other sources.

The Property Tax started out as a tax only on wealthy landowners. The Income Tax started out as a tax on the very wealthy. If the U.S. imposes a wealth tax on the wealthy, it will reach into the pockets and savings of the middle class within a generation.

Furthermore, a wealth tax is pure redistributionism. It is using the violent power of government to take from some people to give to other people. It is the not just wrong. It is immoral.

Corporations Bring Profits Home

Excellent.

WASHINGTON — American corporations brought back more than $1.04 trillion of overseas profits to the U.S. since Congress passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The bill overhauled the international tax system and encouraged U.S. companies to bring back offshore profits to the U.S.

The number fell short of the $4 trillion President Donald Trump projected when he pitched the 2017 tax law.

According to the third quarter account deficit report released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), repatriation numbers topped $1.1 billion during the July-to-September period to $124.1 billion.

Investment banks and think tanks have estimated that U.S. corporations held $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion in offshore cash at the time the law was enacted, Bloomberg News reports. Before the TCJA, the corporate tax was 35 percent. Companies were incentivized to keep profits overseas to avoid the tax. The new law established a one-time 15.5 percent tax rate on corporate cash and 8 percent on corporate noncash or illiquid assets.

 

Palmyra-Eagle School District to Remain Open

What the heck?

The Palmyra-Eagle Area School District will live on.

That’s after a state panel rejected an order from the Palmyra-Eagle Area School Board to dissolve the district.

The School District Boundary Appeal Board, a panel made up of school board members from around the state and the state superintendent’s designee, voted 6-1 to deny the dissolution at its meeting Thursday afternoon at the Palmyra-Eagle Middle School gymnasium.

[…]

The dissolution process officially started April 8, 2019, when the Palmyra-Eagle Area School Board approved a resolution to consider dissolution of the school district.

But the wheels started turning six days earlier when 61% of district voters rejected a four-year, $11.5 million operational referendum that district officials said was needed to keep the cash-strapped district running.

On July 1, the school board took the next step, ordering the district’s dissolution.

A non-binding advisory referendum on the dissolution, triggered by a community-led petition drive, was held Nov. 5, with 53% of voters saying they wanted to see the district dissolve.

This is another example of the arrogance of those in government. The people of the district voted down a referendum with the clear understanding that doing so meant that they would have to dissolve the district. Then the people voted in an advisory referendum to dissolve the district. The school board – elected by the people in the district – voted to dissolve the school district. In a brazen act of self-governance, the people could not have been more clear.

And yet, after all that, an unelected state board comprised of people who do not live in the district vote to keep the school district open.

Insane.

We are going to see this again and again. Enrollment across the state is declining and it is sensible to consolidate school districts to adapt to those trends. But the push against it is coming from entrenched government bureaucracy that is more interested in maintaining the status quo than in managing taxpayer resources to provide the best education for the most kids.

Company Move from Illinois to Wisconsin

Excellent!

“Leaving Illinois was not an easy decision for us,” said James Merlo, Trifinity’s founder and CEO, adding that his family has been doing business in Illinois for 90 years since his grandfather immigrated from Sicily.

Merlo said it was a meeting with Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian that convinced him to move operations over the border, adding that Kenosha is a “business-friendly atmosphere” where “Trifinity can grow.”

Evers Welcomes McIver

Hmmmm… curious. This appears to be yet another case of Evers and his staff being on different pages – with the staff’s view being reality. Who’s really running the show over there?

MADISON, Wis. (Jan. 10, 2020) – The MacIver News Service sued Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in August 2019 for barring its reporters from a press briefing and purposefully withholding press notifications from the journalists. Since then, Evers’ attorneys have defended their restrictions on the MacIver reporters in court.

But in an interview that aired on FOX 11 this past Sunday, January 5, Gov. Evers made statements about the lawsuit that run contrary to the arguments being made by his own attorneys in the case. In the interview, Evers suggests that the MacIver journalists have as much access as other statehouse journalists and that the governor desires no restrictions on them or any other journalists.

In response to the interview, Liberty Justice Center attorney Daniel Suhr sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul highlighting the inconsistencies between the governor’s public statements and his legal defense, and encouraged the governor’s team to adopt into practice the openness to press that Evers conveyed in the FOX 11 interview.

Epstein Video “Lost”

Uh huh.

NEW YORK (AP) — Video footage of the area around Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt “no longer exists,” federal prosecutors told a judge Thursday.

Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York believed they had preserved footage of guards finding Epstein after he appeared to have attempted suicide, but actually saved a video from a different part of the jail, prosecutors said.

The FBI also has determined that the footage does not exist on the jail’s backup video system “as a result of technical errors,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold wrote in a court filing.

Trolley in Memphis

I was in Memphis for a couple of days this week and noticed a couple of things. I stayed downtown near the convention center on main street. My hotel was about a mile from Beale Street and the entertainment district. I enjoy getting out of the hotel to explore, so I headed down the Beale Street a couple nights for dinner.

Memphis has a trolley that runs down a good length of Main Street from the transit center north of the convention center to a block north of Beale Street. It’s one of those trolleys on rails that is powered by overhead wires. The trolley is just a dollar to ride, but I chose to walk from my hotel to Beale Street twice because I enjoy walking. It also gave me the chance to observe the trolley in action and make a few observations.

  1. It was weeknights without much going on. Downtown was sparsely populated in the evenings, so I don’t think ridership was reflective of a busy time with a convention or something in town. Still, I only saw one family ride it. It was empty the rest of the time.
  2. Each trolley was driven by a driver. Plus, there was a guy who say in a Gator. Every time the trolley passed him, he got out and used a tool to shift the tracks. All told, they were paying at least 5 guys to run the system at any given time.
  3. The trolley did move faster than walking, but with the stops and waiting to board, it was still faster to walk.
  4. As it happens, the convention center was empty because it is currently undergoing a massive renovation (perhaps something to watch to see if it was worth it before Milwaukee spends money redoing theirs). This caused them to close a block of Main Street and block the tracks.

What that means is that to ride the rail trolley to the end of the route, you had to ride the rail trolley to the end of the block, get off, board a wheeled trolley, and then that trolley would take you around the detour to the other side.

In other words, while the railed trolley might be interesting, the infrastructure and personnel to run it are far more expensive than the wheeled version AND the wheeled version (A.K.A. decorated bus) is far more practical because it can adjust to circumstances on the road.

I wonder how much this system is costing the good taxpayers of Memphis per rider. Someone else can try to look that up.

Ukrainian Plane Probable Downed by Iranian Missle

Given the timing, I doubt was intentional, but I bet Iran had a hand in it.

Evidence suggests an Iranian missile brought down a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran, possibly in error, Western leaders say.

The leaders of Canada and the UK called for a full and thorough investigation into the crash, which killed all 176 people on board.

Iran has ruled out a missile strike by its air defences.

The crash came just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

Evers Assigns “Homework” to Legislature

What a condescending prick.

WAUSAU – Gov. Tony Evers today sent a letter to Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature assigning legislative homework and asking the Legislature to pass several key pieces of legislation before adjourning this year.

The legislature is a coequal branch of government. The Governor is treating them like children. He truly has proven to be a terrible governor with no ability to build consensus or advance his agenda. There are plenty of issues on which the governor and some Republicans could find common ground, but Evers is intent on crapping on them every chance he gets.