Boots & Sabers

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Owen

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Preferences for West Bend Elections

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

City of West Bend

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

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

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

West Bend School Board

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

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

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

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

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

City of West Bend Accidentally Borrowed Too much

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Green Bay Officials Likely Broke Election Laws

From MacIver

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

 

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

 

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

Democrats Push To Restrict Civil Rights

No.

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

 

[…]

 

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

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

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

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

UW System Sees Budget Hole

So

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

 

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

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

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

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

Local Government Consider Mask Mandates in Wake of Court Ruling

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

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

 

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

 

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

Biden’s “Bankrupt America” Plan

Uh huh.

The White House has promoted its proposal as the most ambitious public spending in decades, saying the investments are necessary to keep the US economy growing and competitive with other countries, especially China.

“This is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Mr Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Wednesday. “It’s a once in a generation investment in America.”

Except that we’ve passed three or four “once in a generation” spending plans in the last year. That phrase is no longer valid.

Facebook’s Political Activism

In case it wasn’t clear, Facebook is not just banning incendiary or hateful speech. They are banning speech they don’t like. They are a political advocacy organization.

Facebook has removed a video of former US President Donald Trump from the page of his daughter-in-law Lara Trump.

The social media giant banned Mr Trump from its platform in January following riots by his supporters on the Capitol building in Washington.

Lara Trump, a new Fox News contributor, posted a video of herself interviewing Mr Trump on a range of issues.

Evers’ Odd Excuse

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

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

“;l;;gmlxzssaw”

That’s comforting.

The perils of working from home while managing the social media account of a major military power have been thrown into sharp relief after the US Strategic Command tweeted a confusing string of gibberish.

 

Thirteen mysterious characters long, the tweet – “;l;;gmlxzssaw – prompted some on social media to jokingly suggest it was confidential information, for example a password or a nuclear launch code, that had accidentally been leaked.

 

[…]

 

The Strategic Command’s freedom of information officer said in a statement that “the command’s Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the command’s Twitter account open and unattended. His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet.”

The retired US army lieutenant general Mark Hertling summed up a lot of the response by posting: “It’s a pocket tweet from our nuclear headquarters. Everything’s fine,” with a laughing emoji.

Evers to Dole out Billions of Dollars Without Any Oversight

Sure. No chance for corruption or misappropriation there. Uh huh. I don’t know why we bother having checks and balances or oversight of anything. Why don’t we just let Evers have the same exclusive control of all government spending?

Gov. Tony Evers outlined his initial plans on Monday for some of the roughly $3 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds headed to Wisconsin, saying hundreds of millions of dollars will flow to small businesses, infrastructure and continued pandemic response. The governor also vetoed a bill on Monday that would have given GOP state lawmakers more say over how the federal funds are spent.

 

Wisconsin is set to receive about $5.7 billion under the latest federal pandemic stimulus, with $3.2 billion earmarked for state government. The remainder of the funds will go to local governments and non-governmental programs.

 

Speaking at a small business in Milwaukee, Evers said he plans to spend $600 million on supporting small businesses, $500 million on continued pandemic response, $200 million on infrastructure and $50 million on aid for the Wisconsin tourism industry. The governor said his administration is working to get the funds disbursed as quickly as possible.

 

“At the end of the day, we’re still battling a pandemic and all the uncertainty that comes with that — workers and business owners are still filled with worry, families are still struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

 

Evers said the money dedicated to infrastructure development will include a “significant investment” in broadband expansion, something he and GOP lawmakers have agreed should be a major priority. The governor said announcements about which specific programs will receive funding in each broad category are to come. He noted the new business loans will “build on” an existing pandemic grant program that has sent money to about 53,000 businesses in Wisconsin.

DNR Officials Dine on Illegal Caviar

Stunning breach of the public’s trust, arrogance, and lack of ethics. And this from the DNR, which is legendary for holding citizens to task for the smallest of infractions.

Prosecutors have charged Ryan Koenigs, a top sturgeon expert at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with obstructing an investigation after he alleged that his workers were using valuable fish eggs for a scientific study, when instead some of those eggs were being taken to caviar processors.

 

The DNR confirmed to Fox News on Monday that Koenigs was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 11 following an internal investigation, but would not comment futher.

Hunters and fishermen who take part in the annual “sturgeon spearing season” near Oshkosh can keep the fish and their eggs, provided that they don’t intend to sell them, according to a report from the Associated Press. But workers with the DNR — workers that Koenigs was overseeing — would sometimes ask they could collect the eggs from the fishermen as part of a fertility study.

 

Investigators with the DNR, together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, eventually became aware that some of these fish eggs were being placed into coolers marked for caviar processing.

 

Koenigs initially denied any wrongdoing, and even denied ever speaking with the caviar processor, despite phone records that indicated he had. He later claimed that sometimes his workers will transport the eggs to the caviar processor at the request of the fishermen, and that sometimes the processor will provide the workers with caviar as a gift.

 

Another supervisor told investigators that the processors had provided caviar for the department “for years,” according to the AP. The department ate that caviar at meetings, he added.

 

Earlier this month, Koenigs finally admitted his employees took sturgeon eggs to caviar processors only after they were done using them for fertility research.

Conservatives must remain vigilant in local elections

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

April 6 offers all legal adult Wisconsinites another opportunity to head to the polls to choose who will control thousands of school boards, city councils, courtrooms, county boards, and other important local government bodies. These elections are always important, but the performance of government during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important they are. From our schools to our local health officials, we have seen just how incompetent, authoritarian, and heroic they can be.

 

The importance of local elections has not been lost on the state’s liberals and big-government advocates. During the Walker era, when the political left was ineffectual at the state level, they began a concerted effort to recruit candidates for local elections. There efforts have paid off all over Wisconsin with left-leaning candidates getting elected even in some of the most conservative parts of the state.

 

There is nothing wrong with recruiting, organizing, training, encouraging, and funding local candidates. It is not a conspiracy or anything untoward. In fact, it is incredibly smart and laudable. Not only have the liberals managed to advance their ideology throughout Wisconsin, but they have also created a farm league of candidates to run for state or national office.

 

Conservatives are behind the game. There have been pockets local organization, but nothing on the scale of liberals. Without conservative organizations vetting candidates, conservative voters need be extra careful when voting.

 

[…]

 

Conservatives throughout the state must follow the liberals’ lead and begin recruiting, training, encouraging, and funding fellow conservatives to run for local offices. Winning elections does not happen by accident. It happens after a lot of work. The work does not end after the election. Conservatives must then support conservative elected leaders when they govern according to their convictions.

 

Work. Determination. Grit. There is no other path to success. Get to work, conservatives. Local government matters.

COVID-19 Ends Child Abuse

Yet another consequence of our lockdowns and pandemic responses. We have rended the social fabric in the name of “safety.”

An Associated Press analysis of state data reveals that the coronavirus pandemic has ripped away several systemic safety nets for millions of Americans — many of them children like Ava. It found that child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations and interventions have dropped at a staggering rate, increasing risks for the most vulnerable of families in the U.S.

 

In the AP’s analysis, it found more than 400,000 fewer child welfare concerns reported during the pandemic and 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments compared with the same time period of 2019. That represents a national total decrease of 18% in both total reports and investigations.

Wisconsin’s GDP Dropped 4.5% in 2020

Ouch. But sure, let’s raise taxes.

No states saw their real gross domestic product increase in 2020, but with a 4.5% drop, Wisconsin ranked 37th in the country for GDP growth in the past year, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

 

The decline is the largest single-year drop in the state’s GDP in data going back to 1963. In 2008, Wisconsin’s GDP declined 1.3% and dropped another 2.8% in 2009. Measured in dollars, 2020’s decline sets the state economy back to about its 2017 level.

 

Wisconsin also had some of the slowest person income growth in the country, according additional data released earlier this week by the BEA.

Biden’s Papers

As Biden continues his quest to build a “show me your papers” society in which people will not be permitted to participate without having documents showing that they submitted to arbitrary government mandates, remember that he also doesn’t think you should need an ID to vote. So… if you have to have your Vaccine ID to access a poling place, how do we prove it’s yours?

Washington (CNN)The Biden administration is currently working to develop a system for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a senior administration official.

Multiple government agencies are engaged in conversations and planning, coordinated by the White House, as this kind of system will play a role in multiple aspects of life, including potentially the workforce, the official said.
President Joe Biden has predicted that life in the US could be back to normal by Christmas, and as more Americans are vaccinated each day, these vaccine credentials — commonly called “vaccine passports” — could be key to a return to normalcy by the end of the year.

Revising COVID Numbers

I don’t really believe any of these numbers or rankings. The U.S. vastly overcounted COVID deaths by combining those who died “from” COVID with whose who died “with” it. China’s numbers are utterly unbelievable. Some countries are not testing at nearly the rate of others, so nobody knows how many actually died of COVID. We really don’t have any idea how many people COVID-19 killed with any specificity. We never will. We missed out opportunity for data integrity.

Mexico has published revised figures indicating that the number of deaths caused by coronavirus is 60% higher than previously reported.

More than 321,000 people are now believed to have died from Covid-19 in the country.

 

The revised toll places Mexico with the second highest number of Covid-related deaths in the world, after the US.

[…]

That places Mexico above Brazil, which has registered 310,000 deaths, and below the US which has recorded 549,000 fatalities – despite having a population of 126 million which is far smaller than either country.

“The alternative future is an unjust, atomised, deeply inhuman place.”

Follow the link and read this whole thing.

This has been the deliberate shattering, in the name of virus control, of what was left of our common life.

 

Between individual experiences and those on the bigger scale of national or international politics lies most of human society: clubs, church groups, voluntary associations, the whole organic life of communities great and small. All of this relies on peer- to-peer social connection – and it was all abruptly halted by lockdown.

 

[…]

 

It’s just difficult to see, because everything now, from our media to Government lockdown policy, seems geared toward ‘just me’ or ‘everything’ – but nothing in between.

 

Who cares about local life, now our public conversation happens online, at colossal scale, in terms set by Chinese companies and Silicon Valley social justice evangelists and massaged by algorithms?

 

The answer has to be: us. We care. Even as it’s grown harder to see our life in common, we need it more than ever. The alternative future is an unjust, atomised, deeply inhuman place.

Kids need state superintendent who values them more than the unions

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

The COVID-19 pandemic and our policy responses to it will have long-lasting effects throughout our society. Perhaps none will feel those impacts more severely than the children who were abandoned by our government-educational complex. On April 6, Wisconsin’s voters will choose the next superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction and the choice could not be clearer.

 

The two candidates to lead the DPI are similar in many respects. Both candidates have spent their careers progressing through schools to leadership positions. Both candidates are highly educated with doctorates in educational leadership. Both candidates are lifelong Democrats and believe that many of the answers to the challenges facing education can be solved with more taxpayer money.

 

While the two candidates are similar in many respects, it is where they differ that makes Deb Kerr the best choice for our children.

 

The most pressing issue confronting education right now is the fact that too many government school districts are refusing to return to in-person education despite the overwhelming evidence that it can be done safely. Many schools around the world have remained open throughout the pandemic or only closed for a short time without significant issues. The evidence is clear that COVID-19 is not a significant threat to the vast majority of those in schools — students and staff. Despite this clear evidence, some government school districts refuse to fully open under withering fire from the teachers and their unions. The damage to our kids’ education, mental health, and futures cannot be understated.

 

On this issue, Dr. Deb Kerr has made it clear that all government schools should reopen immediately. Her opponent, Dr. Jill Underly, is toeing the line of the state teachers union (which has endorsed her and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into supporting her) in throwing up multiple conditions that must be met before those schools can open. Kerr is following the science and prioritizing kids’ lives and futures. Underly is determined to use the crisis as a political wedge to gain more concessions for the unions.

 

The second paramount issue on which the candidates differ is on school choice. Here again, Kerr is prioritizing children and their futures while Underly is defending the union’s priorities.

 

The pandemic pulled back the mask of our state’s education infrastructure to reveal some glaring inequities. Some of the government schools stepped up and responded heroically with a swift and thoughtful shift to virtual learning and an equally swift move back to hybrid and in-person education when the evidence supported it. Other government schools — particularly some of the state’s largest districts that serve economically disadvantaged communities — utterly failed at virtual education and are still resisting a return to in-person education.

 

The fact that some schools performed better than others through the pandemic is manifest. The powerlessness of some parents to make get their kids into a school that is actually providing an education is a calamity. Some families were able to support their children’s education throughout the pandemic with relative ease. They have the time and money to support a virtual learning environment or move their children to a private or parochial school that is providing a higher-quality education.

 

Many families, however, are not able to fill the gap left by their failing schools or have the means to send their children to a successful school. When schools have utterly failed at virtual education and refuse to reopen their doors, the parents are left with few choices other than to watch their children slip further into the achievement gap as kids in other districts thrive. This is precisely the problem that school choice helps remedy. School choice provides the financial means for all families to choose the best educational option for their children, whether it be the local government school or a private option. School choice prioritizes children and education over propping up failed government institutions. Deb Kerr is a vocal supporter of school choice and has worked outside of the government school system. While she supports government schools as a vitally important part of our educational system, she recognizes that families need choices when that system fails. Rich families have always had choices. School choice enables poorer families to have the same options.

 

Jill Underly is a vocal opponent of school choice. She has stated unequivocally that she opposes school choice and would advocate for more regulations of the private schools that participate. Even though Underly chose to send her own children to a local parochial school to avoid an underperforming government school, she would deny that choice to families of lesser financial means.

 

The pandemic is groaning to an end, but it has highlighted some stark gaps in our government school system. Deb Kerr is the best candidate to begin to close some of those gaps.

Recent Comments

  • Merlin on Biden Tax Plan Would Hurt The Emerald Isle: “How very communist of them to advocate voiding the sovereignty of nations. They must see some benefit in a global…12 Apr 21 at 1024
  • jonnyv on Elites Collude to Consolidate Power: “Actually it is Georgia that is saying shut up and get in line… this HOURS LONG, REALLY REALLY LONG line…12 Apr 21 at 1011
  • Mar on Another Teacher Rants at Kids on Zoom: “Owen is right that this behavior has been going on for decades. Having been in many teacher lounges over the…12 Apr 21 at 0949
  • Mar on Enemy At the Gates: “Just another troll post from Troll Boy. Yeah, and you cannot defend Senile Joe and the border or anything else.…11 Apr 21 at 2359
  • Le Roi du Nord on Enemy At the Gates: “No need to defend Biden, it wasn’t his navy when the mask was put on the eagle. But, as usual,…11 Apr 21 at 2256
  • Mar on Enemy At the Gates: “I guess Le Roi, despite several opportunities, refuses or is unable to defend Senile Joe. Typical troll.11 Apr 21 at 2242
  • Merlin on Enemy At the Gates: “Our enemies are certainly giggling at our expense, but it ain’t over masked logos. Gender reassignments are the new thing.…11 Apr 21 at 2150
  • Mar on France Bans Short Flights: “More liberal stupidity. It will end not flights to those cities, it will also damage the hub system as well.…11 Apr 21 at 2113
  • Mar on Enemy At the Gates: “And another irrelevant post by Le Roi. It’s Biden’s navy now. He owns it. Again, when are you going to…11 Apr 21 at 2027
  • Le Roi du Nord on Enemy At the Gates: “Hmm, in April 2020 it was trumps navy, or was Biden elected earlier?11 Apr 21 at 1738

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