Friday, September 29, 2006

DNR advises Waukesha on marketing water discharge plan

The City of Waukesha is getting outstanding service from the State Department of Natural Resources, including advice on how to market water discharges into sensitive areas. Jim Rowen has the story.

Walker's weird symbolism

Not only was County Executive Scott Walker's budget address devoid of content, but his symbolism was really weird.

He held up a piece of the old Annex, and said tearing it down gave people a new view of the courthouse, and then he related that to a new vision for Milwaukee County.

Why would Walker talk about the Annex in a major address in the first place? It was mainly a parking garage -- does Walker consider tearing down a parking garage for way more money than was budgeted his major accomplishment? Pretty damned pathetic.

The Annex project cost overruns led Walker to raid the $1.3 million set aside for cleaning up the county-caused E. coli problem at Bradford Beach. Walker tore down his garage, but thousands of county residents and visitors remained exposed to a potentially deadly bacteria. Walker must consider that a fair trade.

New Berlin water diversion plan advances

The DNR, which apparently does not share the scientific world's concern about the falling levels of Lake Michigan, has announced a public comment period for proposed the New Berlin water diversion. Maybe this is the DNR's new plan to deal with aquatic invasive species: just drain the lake.

MADISON – A 60-day public comment period opens today on New Berlin’s proposal to withdraw additional water from Lake Michigan, State water officials announced. New Berlin has submitted the proposal because wells that serve a part of the city located outside of the Great Lakes Basin are producing groundwater with high levels of radium, a known carcinogen. Through an agreement with the state, New Berlin will shut those wells down to meet a December deadline for bringing its groundwater radium levels into compliance with state and federal standards. However, the shut-down is only a temporary solution and does not account for potential long-range issues such as increased summer water usage or failure of primary wells. "We look forward to hearing from the public on New Berlin’s application, and on the question of how we should handle proposals for Lake Michigan water until the Great Lakes compact is finalized,” said Bruce Baker, deputy of DNR’s Water Division. The Great Lake-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement and Compact (the Compact) was signed Dec. 13, 2005, by Gov. Jim Doyle, seven other Great Lakes states governors, and two Canadian prime ministers. The agreement includes a ban on pumping water outside the basin, but includes exceptions for communities like New Berlin that straddle the basin. To become official, Great Lakes states lawmakers must pass legislation carrying out the Compact and Congress must approve it – a process that could take several years. Under existing federal law, proposals like New Berlin’s could be determined to be non-diversions because no water will be lost from the Lake Michigan basin. The city plans to return all of the water it draws from the lake, plus additional groundwater processed through its wastewater treatment system, back into the Basin.
“There are significant questions surrounding New Berlin’s proposal that will benefit from public comment, inspection, and discussion,” Baker said. “That is why we decided to go well beyond what is currently required by law and conduct this 60-day comment period. We look forward to reviewing everyone’s assessment of the merits of New Berlin’s application.” In addition to commenting on the application, people can also comment on whether they think the request should be approved or denied, and whether it should be reviewed under existing practice, or under a new protocol outlined in the previously-negotiated Great Lakes compact. The DNR will collect and review all public comments. A determination regarding New Berlin’s application is expected to be made in late winter. A copy of the application is found online at: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/water.html. People can submit written comments until Nov. 25, 2006, to : Maureen Connors, Office of the Great Lakes, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Box 7921, Madison, Wisconsin, 53707, or by Email to: dgmailbox@dnr.state.wi.us. - 30 -

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

OK, everybody, it's time for "Math with Tom Reynolds!"

Today's lesson: "At Least Make It Believable" or "Is State Sen. Tom Reynolds Inflating Numbers on his Campaign Finance Report?"

First, let's consult Reynolds' campaign finance report, which lists a $6,106 in-kind expenditure for Tom's printing services on June 30, 2006 (the last day of the reporting period, when candidates generally scramble to jack up their numbers). Less than two months later, on Aug. 26 (a Saturday -- the last day of the campaign reporting period was two days later, on Monday, Aug. 28) , the campaign reported another in-kind expenditure for Tom's printing services, this time worth $10,750.

Now let's do the math. If Tom (R-West Allis) did nothing but print campaign literature for himself for eight hours a day, Monday through Saturday (we are assuming that Tom, man of God that he is, would never work on a Sunday) from July 1 through Aug. 26 (oh yeah -- we also are giving him July 4 off) he would put in a total of 48 days, or 384 hours. That works out to a labor rate for Tom of $27.99 per hour ($10,750/384), or roughly $70,000 annually (remember, it's a six-day work week, but even if he worked just five days his hourly rate would be about $34.45 and his annual wages wouldn't change much).

These estimated wage rates do not include his overhead -- Reynolds' camp lists expenses things like paper, ink, and postage separately from Tom's labor.

The median annual income for a printer is about $30,000, according to salary.com, roughly $40,000 less than Tom's envisioned value.

And Tom makes that? Really?

Curiouser and Curiouser.

News, news, news: Sullivan vs. Reynolds; Walker promises to stay

Lewis Rosser, campaign manager for Democrat Jim Sullivan, says Team Sullivan has been contacted by folks interested in potentially filing a complaint with the State Elections Board over utility bills the 5th District state senate incumbent, Tom Reynolds (R-Absurd), paid with his campaign fund.

Plus, County Exec Scott Walker says he will finish out his term and hints at a re-election bid.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Printing Expenses

Here is how the Reynolds' campaign described on campaign finance reports utility bills paid with his campaign fund since 2002. His backers now say the bills were related to printing costs. Hmmm....

Tom Reynolds' biggest fan is -- Tom Reynolds

Tom Reynolds is by far the biggest (in-kind) donor to his campaign fund since 2002.
Tom Reynolds is by far the biggest (in-kind) payee of his campaign fund since 2002.

Count it up. Reynolds' campaign finance reports say he donated $84,620 of the $331,756 in individual contributions that he's raised since 2002 -- that's a whopping $25.4% of funds coming from the candidate.

Not to worry -- Reynolds also was the largest payee of his own campaign fund, accounting for $90, 727 of the campaign's $326,050 in total expenditures, or just under 28%.

Most of the donations and expenses "in kind" -- no money actually changed hands. Reynolds provided printing services for himself and donated the labor.

A few examples will illustrate. Just last year, on Dec. 31 -- the last day of the campaign finance reporting period, not coincidentally -- Reynolds' campaign recorded an in-kind contribution from Tom himself of $1,546.30. On that same day, his campaign recorded an in-kind expenditure of $1,546, made to Tom.

Same thing on Oct. 21, 2002, when Mr. Reynolds kicked in $37,797 in an in-kind donation. That same amount is listed on the same day as an expenditure from the Reynolds' campaign that went to Reynolds. It's not recorded as an in-kind expenditure, but I assume it was to show the other side of the in-kind transaction.

Boy, if Tom didn't give to Tom, Jim Sullivan's fundraising lead would be even bigger.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mark Green's Jewish problem

It took me a while to catch up Mark Green's position on freeway expansion, as reported on the JS's web site.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green: "In the best interests of safety and economic development, eight lanes make sense." Notes, "We will need to make sure taxpayers can afford the price tag attached to such a massive undertaking. If we end up with eight lanes, we need to ensure such an expansion won't disturb the Wood National Veterans' Cemetery and we should make every effort to minimize the effects on Milwaukee homeowners." (8/28/06)

His pro-expansion point of view is no surprise -- Green sold his soul to the road builders long ago -- but his silence about the fate of the Jewish cemetery immediately adjacent to both Wood National Cemetery and I-94 is a little disconcerting. Perhaps Green didn't know about the cemetery, which only would show he didn't do his homework and probably shouldn't be allowed to decisions about transportation projects that would have major community impacts. Or, worse, maybe he doesn't care about the Jewish cemetery.

Click here to see a video about how one family feels about the possibility that a loved one's eternal resting place may be in the path of a freeway project. The video is the second on the page.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Questions about Tom Reynolds' utility bills

It's one thing to have your campaign headquarters in your house, as State Sen. Tom Reynolds (R- Loony Land) does.

It's another thing when you charge utility costs for your "campaign headquarters" to your campaign fund, as Tom Reynolds does. Even when there's not an election looming.

Let's go back to February, 2004, when Reynolds was very comfortably in the middle of his first term. Some people recognized him for the half-baked clown he is, but there was certainly no election threat on the immediate horizon. No reason to be burning the midnight light bulbs cooking up campaign strategies.

Yet Reynolds charged $57.79 for "gas and electric" for his "campaign headquarters" (his house) to his campaign fund. Hope none of that went to keep his kiddies warm at night. That would be a lot like converting campaign funds to personal use, which would be a distinct no-no.

State statute makes that clear:

No person, committee or group may make or authorize a disbursement or the incurrence of an obligation from moneys solicited for political purposes for a purpose which is other than
political, except as specifically authorized by law.

Maybe Reynolds was in campaign mode in those election off years. In March, 2004, his campaign picked up two payments -- $58.43 on the 13th and $45.20 on the 29th; in May of that year, it was another two payments -- one for $29.44 and one for $35.81, both paid on May 28.

(In June he spent $197.28 at Half Nuts, which seems so appropriate, if somewhat understated.)

Reynolds, in fact, has been charging utility costs to his campaign fund since before he was elected in 2002. That year, a $40.17 electric bill was picked up by the campaign fund on Sept. 16, a week later, on Sept. 24, another $239.85 electric bill was paid by the same source, according to Reynolds' campaign finance report.

Reynolds' house /campaign headquarters isn't all that big -- 1,408 square feet, according to the West Allis city assessor's office. Utility costs should be relatively modest.

On and on it went, with utility costs sloughed off to the campaing fund more frequently:

November 2002 $140.98.
November, 2002 $76.18.
March 2003, $79.91
Sept. 2003, $68.33
November 2003, $32.94
December 2003, $61.06
February 2004, $57.79
March 2004, $58.43
March , 2004, $45.20
May, 2004, $29.44
May, 2004, $35.81
July 2004 $25.94
July 2004 $23.42
September 2004 35.52
September 2004 $26.32
November 2004 $32.99
December 2004 $33.83
December 2004 $58.12
Feb. 2005 $103.98
March 2005 $64.12
April 2005 $75.63
April 2005 $28.55
June 2005 $29.14
July 2005 $28.59
July 2005 $27.95
September 2005 $30.26
October 2005 $26.42
November 2005 $29.47
December 2005 $28.78
December 2005 $101.26
February 2006 $95.02
March 2006 $85.95
April 2006 $97.30
May 2006 $74.77
June 2006 $50.94
June 2006 $69.84
August 2006 $200.30
August 2006 $113.83

It could very well be that Reynolds is not charging the full cost of his utilities to his campaign, but he needs to explain how he separates his family's utility bills from his campaign headquarters' utility bills. A guy who literally poses for holy pictures can't be keeping his family warm with campaign funds.

Oh, yeah. Not a dime from Reynolds' campaign fund went to JJ Blonien, Reynolds' campaign "consultant" who also is on Reynolds' senate payroll as a staffer. Wonder how they keep those two roles nicely separate.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More corruption by the Bushies....what a surprise

Yet more Bush Administration officials discovered ripping off the country for their own ends. This time they corrupted a program that is supposed to help teach kids to read. From Forbes.com:

A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's billion-dollar-a-year reading program says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.

The government audit is unsparing in its view that the Reading First program has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.

It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views, and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.

In one e-mail, the director told a staff member to come down hard on a company he didn't support, according to the report released Friday by the department's inspector general.

"They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the (expletive deleted) out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags," the program director wrote, the report says.

That official, Chris Doherty, is resigning in the coming days, department spokeswoman Katherine McLane said Friday. Asked if his quitting was in response to the report, she said only that Doherty is returning to the private sector after five years at the agency.

Oh, for heaven's sakes.
Can the Bushies go any lower than corrupting a program that is supposed to help kids learn to read?

What's missing from this editorial?

From yesterday's editorial on rebuilding the Zoo Interchange:

The Zoo Interchange is vital to commerce and commuters from West Bend and points north to Brookfield and points west. It is critical to continued economic growth in Washington and Waukesha counties and even in Racine and Kenosha counties, which rely on traffic to the north and west. And there is no question that the growth of businesses in the nearby Milwaukee County Research Park and at the Medical College of Wisconsin requires an improved interchange.

How nice of the Journal Sentinel to not mention the City of Milwaukee, which will bear the brunt of negative impacts of any freeway reconstruction or expansion.

It's pretty clear the paper is abandoning the city to chase suburban advertising dollars. Let's see if the paper does an entire flip-flop and call for expansion of the Interchange.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What's good for Maistelman

Wait a minute. If Michael Maistelman's stupid -- yet apparently legal -- Election Board antics are worthy of front-page coverage, why is coverage Mark Green's latest set of legally questionable (very, very questionable) campaign donations relegated to the back pages?

The Maistelman story ran atop page 1 with a huge jump. The Green story ran on p. 7, on the bottom of the page. It was short and packaged with the jump from the Maistelman story in a way that says, "minor, unimportant story here."

Double standard? Yes.

With friends like Maistelman...

Don't you think the other members of Team Doyle want to slap this guy silly?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bloggers beware -- treaty could put kibosh on sharing posts, snippets

The folks at The Center for Democracy and Technology have issued a warning about a new international treaty that the US appears to be supporting that could pretty much kill blogs and Internet sharing as we have come to know and love them. This treaty, called the "World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations" would give copyright-like rights broadcasters and webcasters and cablecasters -- not just to content creators, as is done now. A few implications of this treaty, which is still under development, according to the CDT:
  • The creator of the work wants to distribute it freely, but doesn't have the technical or financial resources to get that done. Current copyright law would permit persons to record the broadcast and to circulate the work on the Internet -- but under the proposed treaty, the broadcaster could bar or limit such circulation. In effect, the broadcaster would become the gatekeeper for a work that otherwise could be freely distributed in accordance with the wishes of the copyright holder.

  • An artist or filmmaker with limited resources wants to obtain authorization to use clips from a broadcast or cablecast in a documentary or similar creative work. Under current copyright law, the process of identifying and negotiating with the appropriate rights holder can already be complicated. But the proposed treaty could double the potential complication, and perhaps the cost as well, by adding another rights holder. The clearance process would become even more time consuming and expensive – causing some would-be clearance seekers to give up on using the works in question.

  • A person wants to use audio or video recorded from a broadcast or cablecast in a manner that would constitute lawful fair use under current copyright law. This should mean that no authorization is necessary. But unless the treaty's implementing legislation were to include exceptions that precisely track fair use provisions in U.S. copyright law (something the treaty permits but does not require), adoption of the treaty would mean that the person would still need to seek authorization from the broadcaster or cablecaster. And even if the broadcaster/cablecaster rights were made subject to exactly the same fair use exceptions as copyright law, the existence of a second rights holder would effectively double the number of parties who could challenge the assertion of fair use and tie matters up in costly litigation. This could chill the exercise of fair use.

  • A person receives audio or video content over the Internet and wishes to engage in further redistribution. (This kind of viral distribution is common on the Internet and is one of the medium's strengths.) The content features a Creative Commons copyright license, making it clear that redistribution does not pose a copyright problem. But the person does not know how the content was originally distributed. Under the proposed treaty, the person might well worry that the content may have been recorded from a broadcast or cablecast. For fear of violating potential broadcast or cablecasts rights, the person might refrain from redistribution – even though the content may not have come from a recorded broadcast at all.

(Creative Commons, by the way, is a non-profit group that issues various intellectual property rights licenses to folks who want to share their content more widely than traditional, stricter property rights might assume.)

  • A work has just entered the public domain, meaning that it is no longer subject to copyright protection. Under current law, personal recordings made from past broadcasts of the work could be transmitted lawfully over the Internet, and any future broadcasts of the work could be recorded and shared. Under the proposed treaty, however, the broadcaster would retain control over all such recording and transmission for 50 years from the date of the broadcast. Despite the work's public domain status, the broadcaster could effectively control access for decades to come.
You can read the entire CDT briefing on the issue here. This treaty appears to be another method to chip away at free speech.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A stinky Bradford Beach money grab

Leave to the administration of County Executive Scott Walker.

The county budgeted $1.3 million this year to fix the pipes that drain directly onto Bradford Beach, creating a whole lot of disgusting, offensive pollution. (Take a look at some pics here.) Good for the county, right?

But guess what happened to the money when Walker's folks so badly underestimated the cost of tearing down the Courthouse Annex?

Right-o. More than $1 million of the Bradford Beach clean-up money was spent on the Annex tear-down instead.

County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin reports that all that was left behind was the Bradford Beach planning money.

Way to go. We may have lost a parking structure, but we have kept our e. coli cocktail of a beach.

SEWRPC review: yes

The County Board Parks Committee will consider on Tuesday whether the county should re-examine its relationship with the suburban-kowtowing, conflict-ridden Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

That's easy: YES!

Read more about it here.

You can contact your county supervisor though this link.

Doyle morphs into Green

Jim Doyle has a problem. He's turning into Mark Green.

His plan to speed up the Zoo Interchange reconstruction is as solid as most of the budget plans Green has rolled out: Doyle doesn't have any idea how to pay for his, either.

And how dumb, ill-informed, and/or insensitive can Doyle be? He announced his grand scheme while standing in a park-and-ride lot that is served by a freeway flyer line the Milwaukee County Transit System has recommended be discontinued because of a lack of funding.

He also said he has no clue how much he will propose for transit funding. Whatever it is, it could have been $28 million more had Doyle been just a little less eager to solidify his support among the road builders.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Remembering Busalacchi and the Miller Park roof

I went to Watertown Plank Rd. to watch the governor sell whatever piece of his soul he has left to the road builders by endorsing an early start to the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project.

Secretary of Transportation Frank Busalacchi was there and it seemed strange to me, even after all this time, that Doyle entrusts these huge construction projects to the one of the guys -- if not the guy -- most responsible for pushing and promoting the disaster called the Miller Park roof. Here's what he said in 2001, before it became so very, very clear what a very, very bad deal the Busalacchi Miller Park gang got for the rest of us.

"There is absolutely no concern" that Miller Park won't be ready for baseball at the end of March, board member Frank Busalacchi said during a tour of the facility Thursday.
The $400 million, retractable-roof stadium is closer to completion than were the retractable-roof ballparks in Seattle and Phoenix three months before their scheduled openings, Busalacchi said.


"We're in great shape," he said.

Busalacchi said, "You have a lot of sidewalk superintendents who really don't understand what happens on a project of this size."

Asked what, if anything, worried him the most about the possibility of not finishing on time, Busalacchi said: "I'm not concerned that the roof is going to work. I'm very, very confident. The weather is something we can't control, but I feel very confident we're going to be ready."

Yeah, our road and bridge projects are in great hands.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Doyle team to cheat on environmental reporting yet again?

It looks like Team Doyle is getting ready to once again size a major road project in order to get around federal requirements for a full environmental impact statement.

The gove, seeking the undisputed title of "road builders' water boy," will announce today that he wants to push ahead with Zoo Interchange reconstruction project well ahead of schedule, without having a clue as to where the money will come from.

The Journal Sentinel's Larry Sandler had the story, with this telling paragraph:

Still another factor was a downsizing of the project's scope. The planning commission had suggested packaging the Zoo Interchange work with the reconstruction of Highway 45 north to Germantown, which could have cost more than $900 million and required a detailed environmental study, Busalacchi said. By holding the northern boundary to North Ave. and limiting work in other directions, the state can spend less time and money on study and construction, he said.

This is the sneak-around the state used with the Marquette Interchange project.

Build a bigger freeway by adding several miles of lanes, and then deny it is bigger and insist that a full environmental review isn't necessary. It worked the first time, and it's working again for reconstruction of all the I-94 Interchanges in Racine and Kenosha Counties. Doyle is going for the hat trick here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reynolds flunkie JJ Blonien wanted to be represented by Jim Sullivan

Just a few years ago, JJ Blonien, right hand man to right wing nut State Sen. Tom Reynolds, was petitioning the City of Wauwatosa to please, please let him be represented by Wauwatosa Ald. Jim Sullivan.

Sullivan now is running against Reynolds for the 5th District state senate seat. Blonien is on Reynolds' senate staff and also is a big spoke in Reynolds' flat tire of a campaign, in charge of the nasty side of Reynold's race.

Whatever Blonien is now, he wanted to be Sullivan's constituent back in 2003.

The Journal Sentinel had the story, complete with quotes from both Blonien and Sullivan.

"We're kind of a lost neighborhood," said Jerry Blonien, of the 2600 block of N. 61st St., who insists that some Milwaukee police officers assigned to the area don't even know the neighborhood is in their jurisdiction.

Jerry Blonien is otherwise known as JJ Blonien.

"No one seems to realize that we are part of Milwaukee, so we're largely ignored."

More than 100 Milwaukee residents and property owners along N. 60th and 61st streets have petitioned Wauwatosa to take up their cause.

The neighbors, who live on the two blocks south of W. Center St., are asking the city to engage Milwaukee in talks to move their border 11/2 blocks east so it aligns with the rest of the Tosa-Milwaukee line at N. 60th St.

The story continues:

"People want to join us in Tosa? They're welcome," said James Sullivan, one of two aldermen who would represent the residents were they in Wauwatosa. "But they have to take it up with the City of Milwaukee."

Doesn't sound like Blonien thinks Sullivan is so bad after all.

Bucher's exit, with sound effects

And so, as the sun goes down on the Bucher campaign, an understandably disappointed and handily defeated Paul Bucher took the opportunity to insult the very voters he was courting earlier in the day.

J.B. Van Hollen's willingness to spend another $350,000 of his own money during the final stretch of his campaign shows that "Wisconsin is for sale," Bucher said.

That's not Bucher's horse you hear whinnying as Paul rides off into the sunset; that's Paul, the man himself, whining.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The JS Clarke endorsement

Sheriff David Clarke failed so badly at one of his core responsibilities that a judge found him in contempt of court. A judge said conditions in the booking room "are unacceptable, if not appalling."

The Journal Sentinel, in endorsing Clarke, said only this about that:
Clarke has liabilities. Continued crowding at the County Jail has put the county in contempt of court...Clarke must get a better handle on the crowding problem.

The Journal Sentinel didn't do anywhere near an adequate job describing just how badly Clarke screwed up the jail. It was a nightmare for those held in the booking room for days, not allowed to lay down. Maybe "nightmare" is the wrong word, since that implies people would actually be allowed to sleep.

The ACLU and the Legal Aid Society took Clarke and the county to court when they learned just how bad the situation was.

Judge Clare Fiorenza, in making the contempt finding, noted that testimony in the case included descriptions of "overly crowded conditions, inmates who were forced to sit or sleep on the floor next to urinals, inmates who had to sit up for hours and hours, lack of hygiene, unsanitary conditions, inmates who were not given pillows or blankets to sleep on, cells that were infested with bugs, cold temperatures, bodily fluids on the floor and bad odors."

"The sheer number of violations, 16,662, is staggering," Fiorenza wrote, adding: "Although Milwaukee County contends that it was unaware of the extent of the problem, it is beyond this Court's comprehension how over 16,000 violations of the consent decree could go undetected."

A former inmate testified that
"lab animals get better treatment than inmates in the county jail booking room."

Another said that "the floor was always a mess from urine and toilet paper around the toilet and trash from uneaten sandwiches on the floor. It was disgusting, aggravating, unsanitary, and frustrating...it reminded me of drawings I have seen of slave ships with slave packed as close together as they could be with no room to move."

And another said: "I was shocked that we were expected to stay awake for several days without the ability to shower, brush our teeth or change our undergarments."

Inmates testified that calls for help went unanswered, and that important medications were withheld.

Says the Journal Sentinel: Still, we like Clarke's willingness to try new things.

Well, hell's bells -- the Marquis de Sade liked to try new things, too. Does that mean the JS editorial board would endorse him as a sex therapist?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ya gotta love the Reynolds' crowd

Timid Tom Reynolds might just duck out of another debate, as Xoff reported yesterday, and the Spice boys did today.

Insisting that no cameras or audio recorders be allowed at the debate, as Reynolds is doing, is a tremendously stupid move, but consider that one of his top advisors is Battlin' Bob Dohnal and it's much easier to understand why Timid Tom keeps doing these truly wacko things.

How dipsy is Dohnal? In a 2004 "Wauwatosa Voter Fraud Alert" he ranted against the "left-wingers that control the Common Council" and cautioned that "many of the people at city hall are wild-eyed leftists."

Left-wingers controlling the Wauwatosa Common Council? Yah, right.

Wild-eyed leftists issuing building permits? Quick! Somebody call Homeland Security!

"You can never trust the left," Dohnal wrote. "Most of this secular/socialist bunch believes in situational ethics, that means do whatever you must to win, forget the Judea/Christian ethic."

Wow. Wacko thought process, bad punctuation, and misused terminology all together in just a few sentences!

(Memo to ditzy Dohnal: Bob, I think you meant Judeo-Christian, "a term used to describe the body of concepts and values which are thought to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity." Judea would be a place west of the Jordan River.)

Maybe Dohnal and Reynolds are worried that the dreaded video cameras and audio recorders -- which, shockingly, do not hold the Judeo-Christian ethic -- will be wielded at the debate by some wild-eyed secular/socialist City of Wauwatosa employee. The horror!

Green education plan knocks out jocks

Mark Green's education plan would pretty much kill big-time athletics at UW-Madison.

“The UW is now actively choosing out-of-state students with worse grades and test scores ahead of Wisconsin students. I think that's just plain wrong and I'm going to change that," he said in his press release announcing his latest non-idea.

The Green press release continued:

Green said he will also work to ensure that UW administrators “never get the chance” to implement their new admissions policy - which would reduce the importance of academics in admissions standards in favor of other factors like race and musical ability.

If Green would keep kids out of the UW marching band because their grades are not good enough, he certainly wouldn't let a academically marginal superstar jock take up a spot on campus that could be occupied by a smarter student.

Right?

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Wisconsin tragedy, in the making

Devil's Lake State Park is succumbing to that evil weed, garlic mustard. It has a really good foothold in the park, the most popular in the state. Devil's Lake, besides being beautiful, is home to some very fragile plant species. If the garlic mustard isn't controlled, those fragile plant species will be crowded out. An amazing variety of wildlife calls the park home as well. If the garlic mustard isn't controlled, the plants those birds and animals eat or that their prey eats will no longer exist, and then, eventually, neither will those birds and animals.

Garlic mustard is more prolific than a pack of horny rabbits. Volunteers at Devil's Lake work to pull the plant, but it's bigger, meaner, and more abundant than they are. They are losing the battle.


Young garlic mustard in Devil's Lake.

This park will be lost unless some heavy resources are invested to control this invasive. Experience has shown that relying on efforts by volunteers, no matter how dedicated they are, is futile. Controlling garlic mustard simply needs more labor and time than volunteers can provide.

This park is a huge economic and natural asset for the citizens and state of Wisconsin. State officials are now putting together the 2007-09 budget. It will be interesting to see if protecting this vital state resource is a state funding priority in the coming two years.

Maybe it will be. But to be safe, if you want to see Devil's Lake State Park's vast array of plant and animal life, visit soon. After that, it may be too late.

Garlic mustard crowded out other plants in this area of Devil's Lake State Park. The dead stalks are all that is left at the end of the plant's life cycle.

And the lawn sign says...

Heading home after a few days R&R. If lawn signs here in western Wisconsin are any indicator, this is absolutely NOT Paul Bucher country. The informal drive-by polling indicates about an 8-to-1 Van Hollen advantage.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where fools dare

“I think only a fool would forecast gas prices,” he said.

George Pipas, chief sales analyst for Ford, quoted in the New York Times Aug. 29

"Gas prices take a dip
A gallon might cost $2.40 by Thanksgiving"

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline, Aug. 30

Friday, September 01, 2006

State Journal calls it right

Republican Mark Green, his dream of moving into the governor's mansion fading like old PAC money, is having a conniption because the meanies on the State Elections Board are making him play by the rules his side fought so valiantly to preserve when the rest of the world was ready to move on.

From today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Blame Assembly for partisan board
A Wisconsin State Journal editorial
Republican candidate for governor Mark Green should blame his pals in the GOP-controlled state Assembly if he's mad about Wisconsin's overly partisan Elections Board.

The board, which polices Wisconsin political campaigns, is stacked with partisan members loyal to the governor, legislative leaders and party bosses who appoint them.

The board voted 5-2 against Green on Wednesday, likely costing his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations.

All of the Democrats on the board predictably voted against Green. Two of the Republicans, as expected, voted for Green, and one abstained.

It didn't have to be this way.

The GOP-run state Senate overwhelmingly approved SB 1 last year. Authored by Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, the bill would have created a Government Ac countability Board with members who could not be political hacks. Law school deans or judges -- rather than politicians -- would have nominate fair-minded people to the board.

Mark Green expressed support for Ellis' bill. So did incumbent Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

The only people who didn't want to improve the Elections Board were the ever-so-partisan leaders of the state Assembly -- Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, who is now running for Congress, and his sidekick Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem.

Spouting lame excuses, these guys killed SB 1 despite broad, bipartisan support. And that left the Elections Board as partisan as ever.

The Elections Board on Wednesday ruled that Green, who is leaving Congress to run for governor, was wrong to transfer a bunch of campaign money from his congressional account to his state account.

There's some logic to the board's decision. Some donors who gave to Green's congressional campaign might not have been allowed to give to his state campaign.

Yet just four years ago, the Elections Board allowed Tom Barrett, then a Democratic congressman and candidate for governor, to transfer money just as Green has done.

Part of the controversy revolves around a rule change in 2005 and whether it was in effect.

Regardless, the Elections Board vote is suspect and certainly political. At the same time, the solution is simple -- adopt SB 1 so the public can be sure state election rules are administered fairly.

The lesson is one all politicians should have learned by now: Sometimes, when you do everything you can to preserve an advantage and screw over the other guy, you become the screwee, not the screwer.