Elmo Tickles… and is Arrested

You really don’t know who is behind the mask.

A New Jersey street performer dressed as Elmo was arrested for fondling a 14-year-old girl in Times Square.

Inocente Andrade-Pacheco was taken into police custody on Saturday after he allegedly groped a young girl’s rear on Broadway near 46th street.

New York Daily News reports that the victim approached Andrade-Pacheco with her family and asked for a photo with the 54-year-old man.

As the family posed with the costumed man, Andrade-Pacheco hand began on the victim’s back before wandering inappropriately downwards to her backside.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

West Bend man finds wooden wheel while cleaning river in West Bend

Jim Walters made a unique find as he was walking in the river off Auxiliary Court in West Bend.

Walters thinks the 12-spoke wooden wheel dates to early 1900s; possibly 1910 – 1915.

He found it while walking in the river behind the Seven-Up Bottling Company on W. Kilbourn Avenue.

There are some forums on the Internet that discuss old wooden wheels. An interesting one for Buicks from the 1920 – 1930 looks darn close to what Walters found.

One of the theories on the wooden wheel is there used to be an old Schwartzburg Chevy-Olds dealership on S. Main Street. “People used to clean up by tossing things out of sight and sometimes that meant into the river,” said Walters.

To try and remedy over 100 years of waste dumping, Walters is putting together a Clean Up at the Bend event on September 14 from 8 a.m. to noon starting at Auxiliary Court. The community is invited to take part and volunteer.

Relighting of the Historic West Bend Theatre sign

There was a nice turnout Thursday, Sept. 5 for an historic moment in the City of West Bend as a refurbished West Bend Theatre sign was relit on S. Main Street.

It was a unique moment in West Bend history and over 100 people came down to 125 N. Main Street to celebrate the iconic moment when the landmark of the community was relit.

It was a celebration preceded by storytelling and recognition of former employees. Lester Hahn spoke lovingly of being fired multiple times. He gave several shout outs to people in attendance he recognized as former coworkers.

The 35-minute event culminated with the relighting of the famous sign which was refurbished by Poblocki Sign Company in West Allis.

Germantown’s Anthony Roskopf honored as 7,000 veteran to fly on Honor Flight

There was a special ceremony at Mitchell International Airport today as 16 veterans from Washington County took part in the 53rd Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Korean War Army veteran Anthony Roskopf of Germantown was recognized as the 7,000 veteran to fly on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight out of Milwaukee.

Roskopf was drafted in 1953 when he was 23 years old. “I worked on a farm at the time in Menomonee Falls,” he said. “The farm is right where COSCO is today.”

Roskopf went to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for basic training. In July, rather than being shipped to Korea, Roskopf was ordered to go to advanced radar repair school at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. “While we were there a hurricane came into Chesapeake Bay and tore up the whole base and tipped our trailer over,” said Roskopf.

Roskopf then was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas however he worked mainly in White Sands, New Mexico. “We worked with a lot of highly classified material,” he said.

Other veterans on Saturday, Sept. 7 Honor Flight include:

Vietnam Army Michael Wilhelm of Germantown, Korea Navy Wendel Smith of Colgate, Vietnam Navy Paul Gillis of Hartford, Korea Marines Ronald Fass of Hartford, Vietnam Army James Gilmore of Hartford, Vietnam Army Vincent Strupp of Hartford, Vietnam Air Force Judith Warnecke Strupp of Hartford, Vietnam Navy Dennis Albrecht of Hartford, Vietnam Army Steven Liegl Sr. of Kewaskum, Vietnam Army Ronald Wicke of West Bend, Vietnam Marines Carlos Nava of West Bend, Vietnam Army Stephen Hebel of West Bend, Vietnam Air Force Richard Holbrook of West Bend, Vietnam Marines Lawrence Ketterman Jr. of West Bend, and Vietnam Army Irving Marsh of West Bend

Two Allegiant Airlines A320 aircraft will leave Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport at approximately 7 a.m. on flight day, bound for Baltimore Washington International Airport with 169 local veterans (and their guardians) on board.  On that day, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will welcome 9 WWII veterans, 43 Korean War veterans, and 117 veterans of the Vietnam War.

Veterans who will be taking their Honor Flight on September 7 include a 99-year-old WWII submariner, a crew chief on a Huey helicopter, a member of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” in Vietnam, and a 93-year-old female WWII Navy veteran who was an aide to Admiral Richard Byrd, the Medal of Honor recipient and famed polar explorer.

After the planes land in Baltimore on flight day, the veterans will board coach buses to tour Washington DC’s WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and more. The day will also include viewing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.  A DC Park Police escort will ensure that the veterans do not spend time stuck in traffic.

Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit Washington DC without assistance. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have taken well over 221,000 veterans to see their memorials.

West Bend Plan Commission reviews proposal for Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins

The West Bend Plan Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan for 1610 W. Washington Street, formerly home to Pizza Hut. A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins was called before the Plan Commission to answer questions about parking, signage, and traffic.

Redevelopment of 1610 W. Washington Street – 2,160 square foot. Property is zoned B-1. Parking – use existing driveway and 21 standard stalls. Required storm water management. Request added signage on west side of building and east side of building. Majority of building is mountain red brick and accents on walls and a cool grey tower. Orange colored awnings. Part of site plan also remove asphalt on east side of the lot.

Plan Commission member Jed Dolnick – I have a concern about the traffic flow in and out and driveway is not permittable one way in and one out. Wants to make a left turn onto Washington Street. The type of traffic counts for Washington Street and he doesn’t have an answer. This could be a concern and you can’t get out. Why – unless there isn’t room the drive-up traffic doesn’t get directed straight south. By wrapping it around it conflicts

Is there a monument sign proposed. One on the southwest corner – it’s close to the driveway and possibly over property line.

City Engineer Max Marechal – We usually ask for trip generation calculations. If a traffic impact analysis is warranted it will tell us if we need re-timing of the traffic signals or is road improvement needed. “Probably re-timing the signal – when Kwik Trip came to Main Street and Decorah Road the traffic impact analysis {TIA) noted a re-timing of signals,” said Marechal.

First step is to have a trip generation study done.

Mario Valentini – MRV Architects. Your analysis is spot on. It benefits us to have a bit of a longer stack exiting after the drive thru. If we have a little longer order you can direct someone to park and then bring the order to them. We keep the traffic flow going by doing that. We need the exit plus the opportunity to go in front of the building and park. If there’s an immediate exit – simultaneously east and west exiting. Mid-block we don’t have a big concern to stack cars if needed.

Jed D. asks to widen entrance apron to permit a left turn.

Mario V. said that is possible. There is some concern about shifting lanes and widening it – we were trying to keep the existing apron in an effort to use what’s there.

Plan Commission member Bernie Newman – asks a question about the third sign on the building.

Mario V. – the Baskin Robbins signs are 20 x 22 square feet. Issue is we have two brands in one building. No way to put them together in one box. It’s a tacky look for both. A co-branded building brings about some issues.

Plan Commission member Sara Fleischman – we don’t normally approve slogan signs.

Mario – What you’re seeing with this building is new for Dunkin and new for Baskin. This is a national brand that wants to make some identification, so you have the big slogan “America runs on Dunkin” or “West Bend runs on Dunkin.” The other slogan is a catchy phrase – in the past we’ve had situations where the facades become open and blank and the criticism is can you do something to break it up.

We break up the building with materials we see, and we are open – if it’s concerning, we don’t want too much going on but we do want something.

Sara Fleischman – I agree need to break it up but I won’t support the slogans. I won’t give my vote if slogan stays on the side.

Mario V. – We’re open.

Max M. – add to work with getting the trip generation numbers add that (no slogan sign) as a condition and then determine whether to go forward with a traffic analysis.

Plan Commission member Chris Schmidt – I agree with Sara – not to add slogans on signs of buildings.

Max M. – we can move forward. I don’t have a huge concern in the extent of changes from TIA. We may see an analysis that we don’t need to make any changes. As we move forward with the traffic I can let you know what the study says.

Sara F. – move forward with four conditions and that the slogan on both sides of the building are not allowed.

Jim White – Outlined requirements for developer to meet before development proposal can move forward: erosion control plan, landscape bid, storm water plan, revision of site plan and a trip generation study. Forward all to city engineer and no slog signs on either wall of the building.

Valentini said after the meeting that they hope to break ground yet this year and open in early spring 2020, however their timetable was weather dependent.

Landmark Credit Union moving to new location in West Bend

Landmark Credit Union will soon be moving into the former Bank Mutual location, 1526 S. Main Street in West Bend.

The property on S. Main Street sold to ENDF3DK LLC on Sept. 27, 2018 for $1,065,420. The parcel was last assessed at $1,563,000.

A spokeswoman for Landmark Credit Union, based in New Berlin, said it did purchase the property and they are remodeling.

A sign at the Landmark Credit Union branch inside Pick ‘n Save south is posted below. The credit union will close Saturday, Oct. 12 and open in the new location on S. Main Street on Monday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m.

“It will match the look and feel of the other branches we have,” said Katie Monfre, communications manager for Landmark Credit Union.

“It offers our members a number of advantages including private offices, a drive-thru lane, a drive-up ATM and it will give us both an in-store presence in West Bend and one location as a stand-alone branch.”

Landmark Credit Union is currently located in the Kroger Pick ‘n Save stores in West Bend. A larger, standalone branch is located at 1400 Schauer Drive in Hartford.

Halloween trick-or-treat for communities across Washington County

Halloween is Thursday, October 31 this year but quite a few communities across Washington County have trick or treat on the weekend.

Town of Addison 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27

Town of Erin 4 pm. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31

Village of Germantown 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31

Hartford is Saturday, October 26, Downtown 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Ages 12 & under who are in costume accompanied by an adult are welcome

Village of Newburg has not yet established a day or time for trick or treat 2019. The information will be be posted when it becomes available.

Village of Jackson 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. is Sunday, October 27

Village of Kewaskum 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26

Village of Slinger is Saturday, Oct. 26 from 5 – 7 p. m. Afterward families are welcome to a free event as Spooky Slinger will be held from 7 – 9 p.m. at Slinger Community Park with music, pumpkin carving contest, costume contest, food and beverages.

Village of Richfield 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  on Saturday, October 26

West Bend 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Happy 71st wedding anniversary to Norbert and Lucy Carter

A belated happy anniversary wish to Norbert and Lucy Carter. The couple recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.

Norbert and Lucy met at the Newburg Picnic. They have 8 kids; four boys and four girls and 16 grandchildren.

A brief story about Norbert’s military career is below. Norbert Carter was 20 years old and married for a couple years when he was drafted in 1951 into the Army. He entered service in 1952.

“I never got to go to high school,” said Carter. “I was put on the farm to help my uncle because he couldn’t get a hired man during the war.”

Carter was one of 7 boys in the family; four of his siblings were also in the service. “My dad was in World War I; my oldest brother was in the Navy during Pearl Harbor. Two of my brothers were in Germany, two of us were in Korea and my youngest son was in Desert Storm.”

Carter went to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania for basic training. That was followed by a stint in Washington and later he spent 17 days on a ship to Japan.

“We spent one night in Japan, got back on the boat and I spent the next 15 months and 22 days in Korea,” Carter said.

Immediately stationed on the front line, Carter recalls his orders.

“We were on night patrol and walked up to one area and were handed a steel vest and they said ‘put it on — this is the area where you need it’ and we walked some more and pretty soon we were up on Old Baldy,” he said referencing the site of five engagements during a 10-month span of the Korean War.

“For 32 days I helped build bridges while we were under fire,” Carter said. “There were some Army tanks on a couple mountains up there and we had to get them back for service work.

“The biggest bridge we had was 280-feet long and it was all steel treadway. We couldn’t work during the day because the enemy could see us and every day for the first five days the bridge was knocked out by artillery, so each day we had to tear it out and start over.”

Carter was discharged in 1953 as a staff sergeant Section B in the Second Division Combat Engineers.  Carter is well-known in the local military circle; he is chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in West Bend and has been commander for 18.5 years.

Carter has been active for 60 years in the local VFW post honor guard and military squad.

The “Burn it Down” Mentality

Interesting stats in Paul Fanlund’s column.

The authors measured this “need for chaos” among those they describe as frustrated status seekers: “We show that chaotic motivations are surprisingly widespread within advanced democracies, having some hold in up to 40 percent of the American national population.”

Americans polled answered questions like these: “I think society should be burned to the ground.” Twenty-four percent said yes.

Or, “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking, ‘Just let them all burn.’ ” Forty percent concurred.

Or, “We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.” Also 40 percent.

The authors termed those results “staggering.”

He doesn’t share any longitudinal data, so I don’t know if this sentiment is different than years past. But I would offer that there are two things going on.

First, many people in this country feel that the elite political institutions no longer serve the people’s interests. Call it the “swamp” or whatever, but many people just don’t think that government gives a dang about them anymore – if it ever did. This is a major fuel for the populist movement that put Trump in the White House.

Second, there is a long tradition in America, a nation born of revolution, that we must sometimes tear things down and rebuild them. It is the instinct of creative destruction that underpins capitalism as well as the one of the precepts of our national psyche.

I don’t take this poll as alarming or staggering. I take it as a sign that many of the people in our culture are not yet so cowed by institutional rigidity that we feel a need to preserve them when they are no longer beneficial or useful.

NYC Plans to Get Rats Drunk

Wow. Could they have come up with a more complicated and expensive solution?

City officials have spent millions of dollars trying to cull the rat population over the years, deploying everything from birth control to vermin-proof rubbish bins.

On Thursday they said they had at last found a solution: a machine that attracts rats with bait and then triggers a trap door that drops them into a pool of alcohol-based liquid.

The machine – called Ekomille – is battery operated and resembles a cabinet that stand about two feet (60cm) high.

Rats climb a ladder to eat the bait. A sensor deploys a trip lever which plunges them into a tray that can hold 80 rat carcasses.

Milwaukie Man Steals ATM by Covering with a Cardboard Box

Clever.

 – A man walked into a hospital in Oregon and covered an ATM using a cardboard box in order to discreetly wheel it out of the building, police said.

The suspect, described as a white male, was captured on surveillance footage around 7:20 p.m. on Aug. 17 walking into the Providence Milwaukie Hospital, police said. The man covered the ATM with a cardboard box, cut the wires and wheeled it out on a hand cart.

The ATM was then loaded into a black or dark-colored Subaru, which appeared to have a sticker in the right-hand corner of the rear window, according to police.

The ATM was reported to have $17,000 in it when the machine was stolen.

K-12 Spending Continues to Balloon Despite Declining Enrollment

From Senator Duey Stroebel.

The largest portion of our property tax dollars go to support for our K-12 educational systems.  According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, K-12 spending has seen an increase of $4 billion since 2013.  This $4 billion figure does not even count debt service payments for referendums passed in the same time.

How is this massive K-12 spending increase possible while local property taxes statewide remained flat?  It’s because of state appropriations that “back filled” (or reduced) local property taxes.

In total, the Legislature appropriated $4.25 billion in local property tax relief from the 2014 fiscal year through the budget ending in June of 2019.  That’s right — money all Wisconsinites paid, predominantly in income tax, has been used to back fill local property taxes statewide.  To put that sum into perspective, those funds could have been used to lower income taxes from our current four tax brackets topping at 7.65% to only two income tax brackets of 4% and 5.5%.  Viewed another way, if that money were pooled into our current budget, we could cover all funds for the entire two year commitment for these departments: Corrections, Natural Resources, Justice, and all of our appellate courts.

The billions of dollars in state level spending was necessary to keep local property taxes statewide flat despite the 13.1% increased spending by local K-12 school districts from 2013 to June of 2019.  Interestingly, during this same period, statewide student enrollment declined 0.8%.

Sensenbrenner Won’t Seek Reelection

The Dean to step down. Sensenbrenner was on Mark Belling’s show to make this announcement this afternoon.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner says he won’t seek re-election next year after serving four decades in Congress.

The Menomonee Falls Republican’s decision comes soon after another GOP House member from Wisconsin, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, announced he is stepping down later this month.

Sensenbrenner’s decision will open the door for a crowded primary race in the solidly Republican Milwaukee-area 5th Congressional District.

The dean of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, Sensenbrenner, 76, previously served in the state Legislature before first getting elected to Congress in 1978.

I’ll have more thoughts later, but this will create a frenzy in Republican circles. But before we get to that, we thank Jim Sensenbrenner for 40 years of faithful service. I’ve always been impressed that despite being in office for so long, he always stayed very close to his constituents. He’s been accessible, helpful, informative, a master of the detail, and a conservative lion of the House. His successor has big shoes to fill.

Another year, another tax surplus

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

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

When the Legislature and the governor write a budget, they have to estimate the amount of revenue that the various taxes will generate for the state. This estimate is based on the tax laws in place combined with economic forecasts. As with any estimate, the further one looks into the future, the less certainty there is with the number.

When the Legislature passed the previous biennial budget which just came to a close, they estimated that they would collect $16.6 billion in taxes including income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes, public utility taxes, and the other many and varied taxes extracted from the people of Wisconsin. Based on the preliminary data, the state actually collected $17.3 billion in taxes leaving a $700 million surplus. For a little historical perspective, the state of Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with more tax collections than expected in six of the eight Walker budget years.

This tax surplus gives us a few critical insights. First, it was not that long ago that Wisconsin’s budget was in an annual crisis with tax revenue falling short of projections. Coupled with overspending, Wisconsin had massive annual deficits. You might remember when Governor Walker first sat behind the governor’s desk, he was handed a massive budget deficit that required an immediate Budget Repair Bill, a.k.a Act 10. Governor Walker and the conservative Republican majorities in the Legislature, quickly righted the ship of state over the violent objections of the Democrats. Wisconsin has enjoyed budget surpluses ever since.

Second, recall that tax surpluses are simply a factor or the state collecting more than they estimated they would collect. These estimates have often been used in other states and in previous eras in Wisconsin to create phony budgets. Wisconsin must pass a balanced budget. Unlike the federal government, a state does not have the power to print money, so the state must account for every dollar spent.

In order to create the fiction of a balanced budget to support more spending, politicians will inflate tax revenue estimates for the budget. Then, when actual tax revenues fall short of the inflated estimates, the same politicians will enact new taxes or borrowing to pay the bills. It is a cynical method of budgeting by crisis. The consistency of the tax revenue surpluses during the Walker budgets show that the Republicans used responsible, conservative tax revenue estimates to create their budgets.

Third, the tax surplus is a result of the fact that Wisconsin’s economy is booming thanks in part to the economic policies Governor Walker and the Republican- led legislatures of recent years. Taxes are generated when money moves. Money moves when the economy is healthy. With more people employed in Wisconsin than ever before, businesses thriving, new construction happening everywhere, and people spending their higher incomes, the state of Wisconsin gets a slice of every dollar that moves.

As the Republicans cut taxes several times over the previous eight years, the money that people kept was put to good use in our economy, thus creating more wealth, more income, more spending, and, yes, more tax revenue. As has been demonstrated time and time again, when the tax burden is too heavy, cutting taxes always feeds more economic activity and results in more tax revenue. And the tax burden in Wisconsin is still far too heavy.

The one significant black mark on the Walker budget years is that while the state had budget surpluses, Walker and the Republicans still increased spending every single budget. And in the most recent budget, with Republicans controlling the Legislature and Governor Evers in power, the notion of any spending constraint was abandoned. At some point, the economy will enter a recession, tax revenues will collapse, and we will all regret that we failed to control spending during the good times.

 

Lena Taylor Runs for Milwaukee Mayor

This could be fun.

MILWAUKEE — State Sen. Lena Taylor is looking to be Milwaukee’s next mayor.

Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is currently serving her fourth term in the Wisconsin Senate, made the announcement Tuesday morning.

[…]

“I wake up every day to fight for every corner of our great city. We’ve overcome a decade of national economic hardship and caustic attacks from Madison politicians. We’ve sparked a renewal in Milwaukee that is reinvigorating our city center and our communities as well, investing hundreds of millions of dollars directly into our neighborhoods. Homicides and nonfatal shootings are down two years in a row. And we can’t stop now making this city a place that works for you, your family, your neighbors, and your hopes for the future.”

Taylor has been elected to the Wisconsin legislature for almost 15 years by a substantial portion of the City of Milwaukee. She has a substantial base and a strong following in her district. She is also black in a city minority-majority city. There are a few interesting dynamics at play here:

First, Taylor is not in step with the modern liberal Democratic Party of Wisconsin. She is very liberal on social and financial issues, but she supports School Choice and the 2nd Amendment. Those are both popular positions in much of Milwaukee. Her policy positions, assuming she doesn’t flip-flop, have the potential to pull support from not only traditional Democrats, but from Conservatives in Milwaukee looking for someone closer to their policy positions than Tom Barrett.

Second, Taylor is clearly going to make the case for all of the residents of Milwaukee who don’t live downtown. While downtown Milwaukee has thrived under Mayor Barrett, the rest of the city is falling apart. Infrastructure in the neighborhoods are crumbling. Crime continues to plague many of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. Economic opportunity, lead pipes, jobs, potholes, etc. etc. etc. – Barrett has completely neglected 90% of the city while he clinks glasses with the downtown elite. Barrett’s Trolly Folly is merely the most visible example of his misplaced faulty priorities. Taylor is sure to make the case that the rest of the city deserves attention. This will also come into focus as Barrett is hobnobbing around downtown with elites during the Democratic Convention. Do you think anyone west of 16th, north of Walnut, or south of National are going to see any benefit from that convention as they watch their taxes being poured into it?

Third, there’s no getting around the fact that Taylor is a hot head. She has a reputation for being abusive to her staff, a bully, and incredibly arrogant to anyone she feels lacks the appropriate respect for someone of her self-appointed stature. This should keep the race interesting as we all await the next meltdown.

If it comes down to a race between Barrett and Taylor, I’d vote for Taylor. At least she is interested in the whole city.

Wisconsin is Still Waiting on Evers to Call a Special Election for 7th CD

Heh.

Gov. Tony Evers says he is waiting for a recommendation from his legal team about when to call a special election for the congressional district being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy.

Evers told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t know yet if he will have the special election correspond with the state’s presidential primary in April. There is also state Supreme Court election that day.

[…]

The Democratic Evers said he is more concerned with finding a date that works well for that northwestern Wisconsin congressional district than one that might benefit Democrats.

Uh huh… it should take about eight minutes to check the law regarding calling a special election, pull out a calendar, and pick a date. And that date should be one of the regular election dates coming up so that it isn’t an extra cost for the taxpayers. It’s not that difficult if that is your only consideration.

If, however, you are waiting to see what Democratic candidates are jumping in, allowing party leaders to coalesce behind a favorite and get an organization together, and pick a date that gives the Democrats maximum advantage, then it takes a little longer to decide. It’s certainly Evers’ prerogative to use this duty in a way that gives his party as much advantage as possible. Let’s just not pretend that he’s doing otherwise.

Green Bay School District Leads the Way in Wasting Taxpayer Money

The Green Bay School District is hardly unique, but this story is a revealing insight into why the cost of public education in Wisconsin is out of control.

Concerns about student misbehavior, safety and poor academic performance at the school came to light in June 2017, when a former teacher resigned during a Green Bay School Board meeting.

She said students physically assaulted peers and staff, vandalized property, carried weapons and used vulgar language.

A Press-Gazette review of police calls and discipline records in the 2015-16 academic year found a disproportionate percentage of black students were being suspended at both Washington and Franklin middle schools. While black students constituted just 13% of Washington’s 904 students that school year, they accounted for nearly 40% of the suspensions.

After staff increases at Washington failed to trigger the desired improvement, the district hired Olson and brought in American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., to guide the turnaround effort.

[…]

The Green Bay School District paid AIR nearly $400,000 in the first year and would’ve paid an additional $216,000 this school year.

Based on internal student achievement tests from the last school year, the district anticipates Washington students will show improvement in language arts, while math scores will fall, when scores are reported later this year for the Wisconsin Forward Exam, the state’s standardized student achievement test.

A quick scan off the Green Bay School District’s staff directory shows no fewer than 4 Deans; 65 Principals and Associate Principals; 23 Directors, Executive Directors, & Associate Directors of something education related; an Associate Superintendent and the Superintendent. That’s a full 94 people (at a fully-burdened cost of probably between $14 and $18 million per year) whose job is to wake up every day and figure out how to provide a great education for all of the kids in their charge. These professionals are presumably all trained, certified by the State of Wisconsin, and have centuries of cumulative experience behind them.

Yet what does the district do when faced with a problem? Do they hold the people running the show responsible for the poor performance? Do they gather these immense internal resources together to divine a solution?

No. They hire a consultant for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once again, the fetish to “do something,” like spend money on a consultant, is preferable to the hard work of getting results.

Walmart Stops Selling Some Ammo and Nags Customers

It seems that Walmart misunderstands their customers.

Walmart said Tuesday it will discontinue all sales of handgun ammunition and sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition that can be used with military-style weapons, following two “horrific” shootings at Walmart stores this summer. It will also stop all handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from the handguns category.

The biggest retailer in the world also is asking customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club to no longer openly carry firearms in stores, in states where “open carry” is allowed, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers. Open carry legislation is currently on the books in more than 26 states, Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs, said during a call with members of the media.

I doubt that very many people who shop at Walmart will boycott over this. But for the gun owners who used to buy their ammo there, they are going to have to buy ammo – and likely all of their other shooting supplies and accessories – somewhere else. If I were Bass Pro Shops, I’d announce a sale on handgun ammo by the end of the day.

Brexit Showdown

Wow! Changing parties mid-speech.

Conservative MP Phillip Lee has defected to the Liberal Democrats ahead of a showdown between Boris Johnson and Tory rebels over Brexit.

Dr Lee, the MP for Bracknell, took his seat on the opposition benches as the PM addressed the Commons.

His defection means Boris Johnson no longer has a working majority.

MPs hoping to pass legislation to block no deal have cleared the first hurdle after Speaker John Bercow granted them an emergency debate.

That debate could last up to three hours, followed by a vote. If the MPs win the vote – defeating the government – they will be able to take control of Commons business on Wednesday.

That will give them the chance to introduce a cross-party bill which would force the prime minister to ask for Brexit to be delayed until 31 January, unless MPs approve a new deal, or vote in favour of a no-deal exit, by 19 October.

Presentational grey line
Analysis box by Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

It seems right now – although there is still some arm twisting going on behind the scenes – that the government is set to lose the vote.

We are finding ourselves in the middle of a full-throttle confrontation between a Parliament that does not want to allow the country to leave the EU without a deal and a prime minister who secured his place in power promising he would always keep that as an option.

Both of them cannot be the victors here.

Astronauts Explore Potholes

Brilliant

Harry’s Flying High

Heh.

Piers Morgan renewed his attack on Prince Harry today after the royal called for tourism to become more environmentally-friendly.

The Duke of Sussex spoke in Amsterdam this morning at the launch of a project to encourage holiday firms to become more sustainable.

But the Prince’s comments led to renewed criticism over his and his wife Meghan’s decision to take four private jet journeys in 11 days during the summer.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan was among those who said Harry should change his own flying habits before trying to convince others to change theirs.

While the criticism is valid, it could also be made about 96% of these wealthy lefties who lecture the rest of us about how we should live our lives.

Another year, another tax surplus

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

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

Beto Wants your Guns

My friends in Texas, you should be ashamed of yourselves for allowing this gun-grabber to call himself a Texan.

According to a Buzzfeed News reporter, he said: “I want to be really clear that that’s exactly what we are going to do.” The candidate later shared that quote on Twitter, adding: “We need to buy back every single assault weapon.”

Anyone who owns an AK-47 or AR-15 will “have to sell them to the government,” he added.

Mr O’Rourke, whose mandatory buyback programme is a part of his comprehensive gun control plan, has also called for a ban on assault-style guns and high capacity magazines, which he has also said would be required to be sold to the US government under his administration.

Remember this when your favorite lefty says something like, “nobody wants to take away your guns.”

Woman Charged With Terroristic Threatening

Too much?

Linda Morford, 43, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, has been charged with one count of terroristic threatening, a second degree felony.

[…]

The receptionist said Morford became angry after being told she would need to rearrange her two kids’ appointments.

It’s alleged that she said: ‘Gun people come in and they shoot everybody.

‘I’ll be there next Tuesday at 2, and if we are five minutes late and you guys make us reschedule, then I will come in and KILL EVERYBODY.

‘That’s what I’ll do… Well, I might this afternoon, because I’m super angry, so watch out.’

[…]

Police told the site: ‘I advised these threats are extremely substantial and based on the high occupancy of the building during the day, this falls under a Domestic Terrorism level.’

This is a good example of the grey lines that make Red Flag laws so unworkable. There is no doubt that she made a threat. Was it serious? Have any of you ever said to yourself, “I’m going to kill someone if…”? Have you said it out loud? Have you said it in front of someone? In an age of increasing surveillance, have you said something like that in front of a smart speaker? What about something a little less drastic… have you ever quoted a movie line or something like, “say hello to my little friend?” Or “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse?”

Then again, we need to take threats seriously. If this woman had actually gone to the dentist’s office to kill the people, the lack of reaction would have been viewed as inexcusable.

Obviously, there are details of this story that aren’t in the brief news story. Here’s what I think should have happened… the receptionist was right to notify the police. The police should have gone to the woman’s house and questioned her. If she doesn’t have a record of violence and was appropriately apologetic, the police should have sternly warned her against making threats and moved on. If she was belligerent and has a record, then perhaps arrest her for disorderly conduct or something.

Without more than a baseless threat made in anger over the phone, putting someone in jail for a felony seems like an overreaction. But we don’t know all of the facts and there may be more to it that made law enforcement decide that a felony charge was appropriate.

But back to my Red Flag comment… under red flag laws, this would certainly have been enough justification to disarm the woman (assuming she has firearms). Then, whether she was serious about the threat or not, she would be put in the position of proving that she was not intending to actually do anyone harm to anyone. Do you see how a red flag laws shift the burden of proof AND force the accused to prove a negative?

As it is proceeding, the burden is upon law enforcement to prove that she made a serious threat and convict her of a felony, which would deprive her of her 2nd Amendment rights. She will be afforded due process and is presumed innocent. This is as it should be and adheres to the Rule of Law that is the bedrock of a free society.

If a Red Flag law were in place and the government decided to take her firearms because the phone threat is certainly a “red flag,” then her 2nd and 4th Amendment rights would have been violated without any due process or presumption of innocence. In fact, the opposite would have been true. She would have been presumed guilty and put in a position of having to prove her innocence in order to have her rights restored. It front of a judge with an authoritarian streak, such a burden would be insurmountable.

I don’t envy law enforcement in this case. It is a judgment call to decide whether or not her threat rose to the level of a crime or not. Their inclination will be to err on the side of caution and let the court system sort it out. Perhaps that is what is happening here, but it would be an entirely different story if Utah had Red Flag laws in place.

Identity Protection

Here’s an interesting and long article about how protesters around the world are finding ways to obscure their identities from the proliferation of face-recognition cameras being used by law enforcement and others. It’s a growing concern even if one is not protesting or breaking the law. We have entered an age of constant surveillance and it’s getting worse.

The use of reflective materials to evade surveillance isn’t just being explored in Hong Kong. In 2016, American artist Scott Urban set up a Kickstarter page to crowdfund his anti-surveillance sunglasses, Reflectacles.
The eyewear is made from a material that reflects infrared light, meaning the frames appear as flashes of white light in surveillance footage. Because of the glare, a person could appear anonymous in images and photos, his website claims.
Urban said his website has experienced a spike in hits from Hong Kong, as a result of the recent protests.
“I’m not trying to hawk a product,” Urban said in a phone interview. “I’m just trying to tell people that when your face becomes your identity, there’s no going back. You’re going to be tracked constantly in any public space.”
[…]
Many are worried about the future, when the “one country, two systems” arrangement that allows the city certain freedoms and autonomy expires in 2047.
As a 20-year-old student protester — who only gave his surname, Lau — took a break in the shade during a protest on a blazingly hot day, he kept his face mask on, even though no police were around.
“We are not prepared to be picked up by the government yet,” he said.

Bernie Proposes Canceling all Medical Debt

Do I really have to explain why this is stupid and harmful? Apparently I do because some of y’all support this communist.

Sanders’s plan would cancel $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt, repeal parts of the 2005 bankruptcy reform bill and ensure that unpaid medical bills do not impact one’s credit score. Sanders has hit the 2005 bill for eliminating “fundamental consumer  protections,” accusing it of making it difficult for Americans to pay back medical debt by imposing stringent means tests.

“In the United States of America, your financial life and future should not be destroyed because you or a member of your family gets sick,” Sanders said in a news release previewing his plan.

Let’s play this out, shall we? Let’s say Sanders gets elected and cancels all medical debt. All of the people who owe the money presumably received quality medical care for which they did not have the money readily available. Whether or not those medical fees were “too expensive” is not germane to the discussion because Bernie isn’t talking about only canceling debt where the medical provider could be shown to have overcharged for their service.

The people received quality medical from professionals who trained for years and with, in most cases, advanced medical technology and medicine. The patients didn’t have the money at the time, so they incurred a debt. What happens when Bernie cancels it? Who is left holding the bag? The medical professionals and medical companies who provided the service are stiffed for their services.

How will they react? If you were stiffed out of money owed to you, how would you react? Most people would stop providing services unless people have the money up front. If the government can just cancel the debt, then why would you work for free? You wouldn’t. The only people you would reasonable provide services for would be people with the money (in cash and/or pre-qualified insurance) in hand.

If medical professionals stop providing services unless the patients pay up front, who is harmed? The people who don’t have the cash, of course. For rich people, this isn’t a problem. They can pay for it. The people who are harmed are the people in the middle and lower class. Sure, some of them could use a credit card, but how long would it take credit companies to stop allowing their cards to be used for medical services if the government can cancel the debt? Left without a way to incur debt to pay for services, the people in the middle and lower classes would be left without access to medical care.

And here we finally get to Bernie’s real motivation… if doctors and other medical professionals refuse to provide services for free to people in the middle and lower classes, how will Bernie, the communist, respond? He will respond the same way communists always respond. He will use the violent force of government to force them to do so. He will say that the government should compel medical professionals to surrender their time and talents to the collective. If they refuse, they will be denied a license to earn a living or worse.

And here again… who does that hurt? If qualified medical professionals are compelled to either work for free or leave the profession, many of them will choose another profession. With fewer and fewer medical professionals available, and the best and brightest certainly looking elsewhere to earn a living, it is the people in the middle and lower classes who will be denied service. This time they won’t be denied service because they don’t have the money. This time they will be denied service because there just isn’t anyone there to provide it.

Welcome to communism. This is how it always ends because the tenets of communism are not aligned with human nature and it relies on violence to bend, or break, people to its will.