Former Sheriff Schmidt Weighs In On Washington County Governance

Sheriff Schmidt has some great points in this guest editorial at the Washington County Insider. Read the whole thing at WCI.

March 26, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – Recently Washington County Board Chairman Kriefall sent letters to the editor in support of the Schoemann Campaign for County Executive.  He utilized the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of why Schoemann should be elected.

My first thought was wondering why Kriefall is writing about the election instead of showing the community some leadership on the COVID-19 issue.  During a state of emergency, the Board Chair alone generally has the authority of the full County Board.  As the highest elected official in County government, shouldn’t he be talking to us?  What has he done in regards to the pandemic?  What is he considering?  How does he view the situation and does he support Governor Evers orders?

Is he concerned about the closing of businesses and restricting of our personal freedoms?  We don’t know, because the only public statement Chairman Kriefall has made recently is that we should vote for his buddy Schoemann.

I for one would like to see the elected County Board Chairman publicly acknowledge that Governor Evers orders are very restricting to Washington County residents and businesses.  Kriefall should communicate to us what he has he done on our behalf to ensure the orders are necessary.  He should explain what will need to change for the orders to be lifted or relaxed.

Something else is very concerning.  On March 13th Chairman Kriefall issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency and the County Board affirmed that proclamation on March 19.

Broad powers and responsibilities were given to Administrator Schoemann and Chairman Kriefall.  Schoemann and Kriefall were given full authority to run County Government and the elected Board is out of the picture.  Schoemann is running a campaign for County Executive and Kriefall is his No. 1 fan.  When the only public comment Chairman Kriefall has made the past two weeks is to support Schoemann’s campaign, I question the basis being used to make decisions about the COVID-19 response.  Is it for our best interests or political interest?

How do we know?  I think we should be very attentive, and there may even be a state law that addresses the potential for conflicts of interest and abuse of power.

I’ll be honest… with everything else going on, I didn’t even know that Washington County had consolidated power in the hands of two people – one of which is running for election and the other who hired him in the first place. Beyond the concerns about abandoning representative government for the time being, the whole things has that swampy smell.

Prominent Epidemiologist Revises Death Estimates Sharply Down

Hopefully he’s right this time. If so, this is positive news.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, who created the highly-cited Imperial College London coronavirus model, which has been cited by organizations like The New York Times and has been instrumental in governmental policy decision-making, offered a massive revision to his model on Wednesday.

Ferguson’s model projected 2.2 million dead people in the United States and 500,000 in the U.K. from COVID-19 if no action were taken to slow the virus and blunt its curve.

However, after just one day of ordered lockdowns in the U.K., Ferguson has changed his tune, revealing that far more people likely have the virus than his team figured. Now, the epidemiologist predicts, hospitals will be just fine taking on COVID-19 patients and estimates 20,000 or far fewer people will die from the virus itself or from its agitation of other ailments.

Ferguson thus dropped his prediction from 500,000 dead to 20,000.

Chicago Mayor Threatens Arrest for Being Outside

This is, by definition, a police state.

Lightfoot added that spending long periods of time outdoors, anywhere, is not allowed. And neither is going into closed spaces, like playgrounds.

“You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down. You must abide by the order. Outside, is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks. I can’t emphasize enough that we abide the rules.”

[…]

“The public health order is not an advisory. It is a mandate. If you violate, it your are subject to a fine of $500. If you continue to violate it, you will be subject to arrest,” Beck said.

[…]

But Lightfoot reiterated that not following the stay at home order will bring serious consequences.

“At worst, we will take you into custody.”

Dane County Clerk Violates State Law to Enable Voter Fraud

Outrageous

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell on Wednesday gave all Dane County voters the go-ahead to indicate they are indefinitely confined to avoid having to upload their voter ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

The recommendation, which he said is legal, comes as some older voters have complained they aren’t able to upload their photo IDs electronically, which is a general requirement to request an absentee ballot.

It’s not clear whether McDonell’s recommendation is actually legal, however. Wisconsin law says people can certify they are indefinitely confined due to “age, illness, infirmity or disability.”

Germany Covid Death Rate Less than 0.5%

As I, and many others, have pointed out for weeks, you can’t calculate an accurate death rate without knowing the denominator. What we are seeing is that there are many people who get the virus who show few, if any, symptoms – and many of those are never even being tested for the virus. In Germany’s care, they are testing more, finding more infected people, and thus their official death rate is lower. 0.5% is still pretty high, but it’s nowhere near the 8+% we have been hearing about in other countries.

Germany‘s rate of new coronavirus infections dropped from 21 per cent to 15 per cent today while the country’s death rate remained strikingly low.

Official figures from the Robert Koch health institute showed the total number of cases in Germany rising by 4,118, taking the total from 27,436 to 31,554.

The death toll climbed by 35, rising from 114 to 149 – an overall death rate of just under 0.5 per cent, far lower than Germany’s major European neighbours.

The low death rate has not been fully explained, but may be linked to more comprehensive testing, younger patients and more intensive care facilities.

Germany has a policy of ‘doing everything to find, isolate, test and treat every case’, unlike in the UK where people with mild symptoms are not routinely tested.

Washington Reaches Deal to Spend Money we Don’t Have

No, we don’t even know what is in the bill. What I can guarantee you is that for every dollar spent on something worthwhile, two dollars will be wasted or lost to graft. We are mortgaging our grandchildren’s future because of our bad governance today.

“In effect, this is a war-time level of investment into our nation,” said McConnell, who promised the bill would rush financial assistance to Americans through direct checks to households, enhanced unemployment insurance, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency loans to small businesses, and more resources for hospitals and medical equipment.

The Senate has yet to release the final terms of the deal. An earlier draft seen Tuesday would provide cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child, reduced if an individual makes more than $75,000 or a couple makes more than $150,000.

The draft language also stipulated a $350 billion fund for small businesses to mitigate layoffs and support payroll.

Washington County Sheriff Schulteis Reacts to Governor’s Shutdown Order

Hats off to Sheriff Schulteis. This is a solid, measured, constitutionally correct way to respond to the Governor’s order.

I am also here to assure you that the words in my leadership direction matter. My staff and I are committed and dedicated to protecting your constitutional guarantees. This order has not suspended the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. We are not under “martial law.” You will not be stopped without reasonable suspicion that a violation of law has occurred. This is the same standard that existed prior to this order. You will not be detained or questioned as to why you are leaving your house or questioned as to if the purpose of your travels falls under the essential travel portion of the order. You do not need any documentation to approve travel.

We will investigate and take enforcement action on blatant violations of this order that put our community at great risk. We are asking for voluntary compliance with this order so we can move forward and defeat this enemy. I want to end by thanking the people of Washington County for their compliance, understanding, and great personal sacrifice. Like most law enforcement agencies, we have had to change how we operate during this pandemic. I am here to assure you that the entire Washington County Sheriff’s Office is standing ready to protect and serve for you

Businesses React to Evers’ Economic Shutdown

It’s good to see some sensible voices rising above the fray.

The outdoor power equipment industry, including Ariens Co., Briggs & Stratton Corp., Kohler Co. and others employs tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin. Headed into spring, it normally would be cranking out products to be shipped around the world.

“With the number of jobs in this industry, from Milwaukee to Brillion to Kohler to Tomah, I would consider it essential,” Ariens said, adding that he was sending the governor a letter pleading to keep the plants open.

“I am telling him that we will take care of our employees as we care for our families by following the CDC best-safety practices and advice. We don’t need to have the government teach us responsibility,” Ariens said.

A devastating cure: Weighing liberties, security in the age of coronavirus

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

In the future, when we remember the liberties we once had and explain to our grandchildren why we surrendered them, some old man will slowly look down at his shoes and mutter, “We did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The global Coronavirus pandemic is a severe health concern that requires a response from our government. We need our government to aggressively work toward a vaccine and treatments, inform the public with the latest prevention methods, act to provide resources where needed, and provide the legal and regulatory safety net for the private sector to join in the fight. We do not need or want our government to arbitrarily suppress our civil rights, undermine the rule of law, and intentionally destroy our economy and our livelihoods.

It is breathtaking the speed at which our government leaders resorted to totalitarian extremes to combat the spread of a disease. The government ordered thousands and thousands of businesses to close indefinitely. This has forced millions of people out of work. Many of them do not have the financial cushion to get by without an income for weeks on end. Many small-business owners are losing their life’s work and their families’ entire net worth by order of the government.

With millions of people are struggling to get by, the inevitable wave of foreclosures and bankruptcies will follow. The government may try to halt this by decree or throw stimulus money at the problem, but the financial realities make the long-term impact of these decisions unavoidable.

Meanwhile, some governments are ordering people to remain home, forbidding people from assembling, and even closing churches. In California, people who are caught outside of their homes for nonessential reasons are subject to arrest, fines, and imprisonment for violating the order. At the same time, jury trials (a constitutionally protected right) are being postponed, elections are being delayed, prisoners are being released, and the government is ignoring private contracts — for example, the government ordering that landlords can’t evict people — in lieu of the judgment of politicians.

The impact is more than just financial or an inconvenience. The government restrictions have caused a massive shortage in donated blood for hospitals, crime is sure to rise, people are postponing necessary medical care for fear of leaving their homes, and an increase in depression, addiction, and suicide will result from mass unemployment and economic destruction.

Americans should be following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control to maintain a physical distance from others, cover sneezes, avoid touching faces, wash hands, sanitize surfaces, and reduce unnecessary travel. But there is an abyss between free Americans taking steps to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus of their own free will and our government using police power to enforce those steps. In most cases, it is a single man — a governor — making these incredible decisions to upend our lives.

If the response to Coronavirus has taught us anything, it is that our government officials will strip us of our liberties at a moment’s notice on the justification that it is for our own good. Instead of relying on the collective wisdom of a billion individual decisions made by free people, our government officials instantly supplanted their own judgment for that of the people they were elected to represent. They immediately assumed that they know better and are not only empowered, but obligated, to micromanage our lives “out of an abundance of caution.” And then, when the inevitable negative effects are being felt, these same people will mortgage our grandchildren’s future too with another boondoggle trillion dollar stimulus.

This is a very old debate about the balance of government power between liberty and safety. The way in which so many Americans surrendered their liberty for the dubious promise of safety with little more than a shrug and a muffled bleat is testament to how far we have strayed from our roots. For all of the “don’t tread on me” stickers and “live free or die” machismo, too many Americans have become fat and docile.

Coronavirus will ravage the world and leave devastation in its wake, but we will find workable treatments and a vaccine. It will pass. The devastation to our economy and liberties will be far longer lasting.

States Move to Halt “Non-Essential” Abortions

It’s hard to argue with the logic.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The governor and attorney general of Texas are moving to ban most abortions in the state during the coronavirus outbreak, declaring they don’t qualify as essential surgeries.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that the order issued over the weekend by Gov. Greg Abbott barred “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

Failure to comply with the order can result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time, Paxton said.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Paxton said. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

[…]

“If abortion is a ‘choice’ then abortion is an elective procedure,” said Mark Harrington, president of the anti-abortion group Created Equal.

Wisconsinites Head to the Bread Lines Thanks to Government-Forced Economic Downturn

This is just the beginning. After this comes the bankruptcies, foreclosures, increases in crime, suicides, and general crap show of a steep recession. The surest path to societal peace and prosperity is a thriving economy and work for everyone.

The social distancing measures and bans on large gatherings put in place by Gov. Tony Evers to combat the spread of coronavirus has created challenges for a number of industries. Many restaurants, including Punch Bowl Social and The Bartolotta Restaurants have had to close for the foreseeable future. Some retailers, including Kohl’s Corp., have shut down stores and some manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson, have suspended production.

The 69,342 initial claims filed last week marks a sharp uptick in unemployment in Wisconsin. For weeks ending in 2020, the state averaged 6,250 initial claims per week for a total of 56,252.

According to non-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the highest one-week total for Wisconsin was 49,267 at the end of 2001.

Even during the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath, only one two-week period at the end of 2009 saw more than 70,000 initial claims. Most two-week stretches during that downturn saw fewer than 60,000 initial claims.

GOP Leaders Respond to Evers’ Order

I watched all but the very end of the Q&A of the governor’s press conference. It was a mess. No details. No definition of “essential” businesses. No reason for the change of policy. Evers admitted that he hadn’t even spoken to the legislative leaders. Several times the governor’s legal counsel jumped in to answer on behalf of the governor. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to hear from my actual elected governor on these things. Overall, I was not left with any sense of comfort that the people now micromanaging our lives are competent enough to be doing so.

In any case, it appears that the GOP leadership is pushing back a little, but I want more than better communication from our governor. I want competent decision-making that takes into account all stakeholders’ interests and protects out civil liberties.

“The governor’s announcement has created mass amounts of confusion. For days, Governor Evers took a measured approach and reassured business owners that a shelter-in-place order may not be necessary. Legislative leaders even complimented him for it. The governor’s sudden change of course and lack of specific guidance have increased the level of uncertainty and anxiety in our state. The people of Wisconsin deserve clear communications during a public health emergency.

“There also needs to be a better understanding as to why the decisions are being made, because of the impact on the economy, businesses and residents of the state.

“It appears at the end of the governor’s press conference, there are more questions than answers. We would ask the governor to answer the following questions for the people of Wisconsin:

  • What are the metrics that this decision is based on?
  • What is considered an essential and non-essential business? How is that being determined?
  • What changes need to happen for the order to be lifted?

“The governor’s executive order came as a surprise to the legislature. It was a complete reversal from his repeated assurances. It should be noted that legislative leaders have asked on a daily basis whether or not this was the direction the governor was headed, and we were told it was not.

“We all want what’s best for Wisconsin. We want people to stay safe and follow CDC guidelines. We would ask the governor to do a better job communicating to the people of Wisconsin.”

Governor Evers to Suspend Civil Rights Indefinitely

Freedom of assembly? Gone.  Freedom of free exercise of religion? Gone. Freedom of movement? Gone. Perhaps elections suspended? All gone… indefinitely… by the order of a single, mediocre man: our governor, Tony Evers.

The Democratic governor made the announcement on Twitter three days after saying he did not think he would have to issue such an order but that he would do what is scientifically necessary.

He said he would formally issue the order Tuesday and it was expected to take effect within a day or so of that.

The governor did not say how long the order would last or how the state could conduct its April 7 presidential primary and election for state Supreme Court and local offices. Evers for weeks has been encouraging people to vote absentee.

The governor is calling his edict a safer-at home order rather than a shelter-in-place order, as California and New York have. Evers’ phrasing is the same as what’s been used in Ohio and is meant to get businesses to close and people to stay at home without terrifying them or making them think martial law is being imposed.

“I know this has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state,” Evers tweeted. “That’s why issuing a #SaferAtHome order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do, and it’s not something I take lightly. But here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously.”

Under the order, people will be able to go to grocery stores, doctor’s offices and pharmacies and go outside to exercise or walk a dog. But people will be required to stay at home for most other reasons and the governor noted that means “no sleepovers, no play dates and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors.”

Not so Entertaining Entertainers

Ouch.

For evidence, turn to the instantly infamous clip of stars singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Or rather, don’t turn to it; you’ll be happier having not watched. The Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot rang up a famous crew including Natalie Portman, Jamie Dornan, Sia, Pedro Pascal, Zoë Kravitz, Sarah Silverman, Leslie Odom Jr., Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Norah Jones, and Cara Delevingne to record clips of themselves singing lyrics about a world without war or possessions. Most of these people are not vocal talents; most of them very much enjoy that we live in a world of possessions. Literally and figuratively tone-deaf, edited with the finesse of a middle schooler making a vacation slideshow on 2002 software, this “Imagine” somehow made a global pandemic feel even more hopeless than it already does.

One thing to hope for in these dark times is that coronavirus #content will one day be forgotten as we resume our regularly scheduled programming. For now, Hollywood’s elite personas have isolated in spacious and well-stocked estates from which they are posting videos attempting to cheer up the masses. It’s interesting, if not always reassuring, to see these folks ply their crafts unmediated, without the screenwriters and film editors and cinematographers who typically help shape their images. Millions are tuning in. But often what they are finding is no more remarkable than whatever is happening in the viewer’s own living room.

A View of Virtual Learning

The Washington County Insider has asked students from local schools to describe their virtual learning experiences. Here’s a fascinating and detailed “day in the life” view from a student at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.

Our day starts at 7:40 a.m. with a live stream of our chapel service. This is the same time our normal day began. There is a Google form we must submit before 8 a.m. to show our attendance. Our normal eight period, 43-minute class schedule has been switched to a block schedule, where we have four periods each day, lasting 86 minutes.

For my classes, each teacher has posted what we will be doing that day in Google Classroom. This post also includes a link to Zoom, which is a video-conferencing App that allows us to meet. The teacher can interact with all the students and we can interact with each other by talking or using the chat feature. In some classes, the teacher has taught the entire lesson while on Zoom, and in other classes, the teacher uses Zoom just to see our faces and see if we have any questions before we complete the assignment posted on Google Classroom.

Teachers are able to share their screen with us, so we can still go through PowerPoint presentations. Student presentations are still possible through the same process. Zoom has a feature allowing the teacher to mute or unmute everyone, and each individual can control their video and audio as well. This feature has been effective for class discussions.

At times the video and audio quality are not the clearest, and some people have frozen on the screen for a small amount of time. Finding a place to have a Zoom meeting is also a challenge for some. For me personally, I have an eighth-grade brother who is doing online school, and my mother is working from home as well. Her job involves many phone meetings so it is difficult for us to work on the same floor. To alleviate the problem, I have decided to make my room my main working area. I cleared off my desk and that is where I do the majority of my work.

Former Mayor Sadownikow Supports Kasten for Mayor

That’s quite an endorsement.

March 21, 2020 – West Bend, WI – In-person absentee voting is taking place at the West Bend City Hall.  I already voted and feel that West Bend is fortunate to have two high quality candidates running for Mayor, Rich Kasten and Chris Jenkins.

I believe West Bend is best served if both men are able to continue serving our community.  Due to the way election law is written, the only way that can happen is if Rich Kasten is elected Mayor and Chris Jenkins retains his aldermanic seat.

Rich Kasten earned my vote.

I had the pleasure of working with Rich while we served together on the Council.  Rich is a thoughtful man, husband, father and community servant.  He is a confident leader who thinks before he speaks, considers all facts before rendering an opinion and can defend the actions he takes with logic and reason.

Rich uses his IT, Engineering and Personnel Management skills to enhance the City of West Bend.  Rich has chosen to get deeply involved so he can fully understand City operations and how to make them the most efficient possible.

He currently serves as the Finance Committee Chairman, Chairman of the Transportation Task Force and is a member of the Plan Commission and Union Negotiations Team.  Rich has the experience, desire and ability to serve our community as Mayor.

Make no mistake, Chris Jenkins has a bright future in public service and I am confident his time will come.  In order to ensure a strong, conservative Council please join me in voting for Rich Kasten to be West Bend’s next Mayor.

 

Kraig Sadownikow

West Bend

GOP Leaders Ask Governor to Not Close More Businesses

It’s about time we started having a public discussion about how far we should go in killing our economy, our livelihoods, and our financial and societal stability.

MADISON – Republican leaders of the state Legislature are asking Gov. Tony Evers not to place any further restrictions on Wisconsin residents’ ability to spend money, warning of an economic collapse.

Evers has ordered the closure of schools, bars, restaurants, hair salons and limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer to lessen the chance that the coronavirus spreads like wildfire throughout the state, endangering thousands of lives.

Other states, including Illinois and California, have gone further and codified advice by ordering all of their residents to stay in their homes — a measure Evers has said, for now, he isn’t taking.

Senate leaders Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau and Roger Roth of Appleton and Assembly leaders Robin Vos of Rochester and Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said Saturday they agree with the governor’s position, saying more restrictions are unnecessary in Wisconsin.

“The consequences felt by citizens and small businesses around the state has already been tremendous,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “As we move forward together in this fight to defeat the virus, we must keep in mind that the people we serve need the jobs they have today to help weather this storm. Continued economic activity will not only help us in our fight against this virus today, it will also ensure that we don’t have to fight to recover from economic collapse tomorrow.”

Emphasis mine.

Evers Halts Prison Admissions

This will not end well.

Under the order, any defendant who is sentenced to prison will be held in a county jail instead of being transferred to one of DOC’s more than 30 prison facilities across the state.

Neal said most individuals who violate probation and parole rules would also go to the county jails, but some would go to a DOC facility in Milwaukee that is specifically for felons who violate their supervision terms. It is the only such DOC facility.

Although the emergency order could help prevent an inmate from bringing COVID-19 into a prison, it might also put extra pressure on county jails, including potential overcrowding.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said there were “absolutely no conversations” with county sheriffs about the impact the order will have on county jails. The Dane County Jail was notified of the change via email at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

“It’s really got sheriffs really upset,” Mahoney said. “It’s just very frustrating — as we’re trying to keep our own institutions healthy while we continue to hold prison inmates for the Department of Corrections — that we were not involved in at least a conversation about the need to find a collaborative solution.”

Mahoney said if the governor would have consulted county sheriffs, they could have come up with another solution to keep the prisons and jails safe, such as screening all inmates before transferring them to prisons.

We’re watching a very average man lurch from draconian thing to stupid thing without any real understanding of the consequences. Why are we allowing this one man to have so much power over our lives? We elected a governor, not a king.

Blood Shortage Could Kill

The cure is worse than the disease.

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US, a dangerous blood shortage threatens to create another public health crisis – with one medical director warning: “This could kill our patients.”

Coronavirus control methods mandate social distancing that has ranged from banning in-person seating in restaurants to closing schools to issuing shelter-in-place orders. Many places where blood donation might take place – such as campuses and libraries – are presently shuttered.

The result has been a disaster for blood donation as the medical sector finds its blood supplies running out.

The American Red Cross said that as of 19 March, more than 5,000 of its blood drives were canceled across the US over coronavirus concerns – resulting in approximately 170,000 fewer donations. More than 80% of donated blood collected from the Red Cross is from drives at places closed for social distancing: workplaces, schools, and college campuses.

“This could lead to mortality,” said Dr Jennifer Andrews, director of the blood bank at Vanderbilt University medical center and pediatric hematologist. “This could kill our patients.”

Guide to Local Restaurant Services

Conley Media has put together a nice list of restaurants in the W.O.W. counties and the services they are offering. You can check out the whole list here.