Monday, June 30, 2008

Potty humor re. George Bush!

Here's to being low-brow enough to think it's funny. San Francisco residents are going to vote on whether to name a sewage treatment plant after George W. to provide a " 'fitting monument' to the outgoing commander-in-chief's achievements," according to The Independent.

Activists from the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco, a mischievously-named group behind the move, will ask supporters to participate in a "synchronised flush."

The New York Times reports the idea was actually born in a bar.

Where else?

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Phil Evenson's rich people's toll road proposal

It's for the benefit of the few at the cost of the many.

More here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Van Hollen looks foolish, partisan

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is complaining to the Journal Sentinel that investigators didn't tell him they closed a case eight months ago.

It is not confidence-inspiring to know we have an attorney general who waits that long before doing anything about an investigation conducted by his office that he believes was botched. It simply raises more questions about Van Hollen's management abilities.

This particular investigation -- into the role of politics in the award of a contract to redevelop UW-Milwaukee's Kenilworth Building -- is wrapped tight in politics. The investigation centered around former Secretary of Administration Mark Marotta's role in the award of the contract.

Marotta is a Democrat. Van Hollen is a Republican.

Invesitgators closed the case in October. Eight months later, with partisan primary elections less than three months away, Van Hollen decides the investigation wasn't good enough.

From the paper:

Van Hollen would not say if he is reopening the Kenilworth investigation. But Van Hollen spokesman Kevin St. John said the attoreny general believes the allegations are serious.

In an amazing case of journalistic failure, the JS never tells us why Van Hollen waited until now to say anything about what happened eight months ago, or why he didn't deal with the issue then.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

OK, NOW throw away the key

A jury has spoken and former Ald. Michael McGee is guilty.

It's still crazy that he was locked up for more than a year pending trial, but now that the jury has spoken, lock the guy up for a while.

McGee represented a district where he could have done so much good because so much good needs to be done. Instead, he operated a shake-down machine.

Nauseating.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dems cave on eavesdropping: pop quiz

The Congressional Dems are giving in to the Bush administration demands that telecos get immunity for the illegal eavesdropping they did at the behest of the administration.

Here's the quiz: How can you tell when Congressional Democrats will behave with craven cowardice and cave in to Bush et al. on a vital issue of personal or constitutional liberties?

Answer: They schedule a vote on it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And June 21 came...

And the mosquitoes came also.

They were hungry.

They were multitudes.

And all of Milwaukee heard the sound:

Bzzzwhinnnnne. Bzzzwhinnnnnne.

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Driving down again

Americans drove 30 billion miles fewer in from November through April than they did a year earlier during that period. Will WisDOT notice?

More here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Arise, SEWRPC reformers

It is not just that SEWRPC hid itself in the suburbs.

It's not just that SEWRPC stocks its advisory committees overwhelmingly with white gentlemen of a certain age. The commission itself has historically been distinctly lacking in ethnic varietly.

It's not even just that SEWRPC waited 25 years before developing an equitable formula to distribute transit dollars -- the new fair one, by the way, sends more aid to Milwaukee County.

It's also the gross conflicts of interest that SEWRPC engages in and allows. It's so nice to spend public dollars among friends, ain't it?

Three cheers for Ald. Bob Bauman, Ald. Jim Bohl and Ald. Nik Kovak for introducing a resolution calling for the county to withdraw from SEWRPC. And a huge hurrah for Jim Rowen and his JS Crossroads piece for dragging this issue smack into the public debate and to the JS for publishing Rowen's op-ed.

And shame on the county for not completing a County Board-ordered study on the county's relationship with SEWRPC. There were a couple of meetings of the study committee, then the whole thing fizzled.

Arise, SEWRPC reformers. If Milwaukee doesn't pull out, the city should establish its own SEWRPC monitoring function to ensure that Milwaukee residents and taxpayers are heard, even in those far reaches of Pewaukee.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The non-news about the airport

It was a huge headline on a story that said exactly nothing new.

Scott Walker wants to privatize the airport, but we knew that already.

Walker fed the JS a line, and the JS dutifully transcribed.

Federal Aviation Administration officials assured him in meetings last week in Washington, D.C., that the county could redirect airport lease revenue to transit.

The FAA actually has no interest in how the county spent the potential revenue, which the JS reports way, way down in the story: Willis said there would be no federal restrictions on how the county could use airport lease revenue if it’s selected for the privatization program.

Mitchell could qualify as a medium-size airport, said Kevin Willis, an FAA official with the privatization program.

Walker's fantasy is unlikely and under the best of circumstances cannot get up and producing money in time to save the transit system.

Some odd news judgment in the play given to this one.

Should we believe the Saudis will increase oil production

It's amazing to me how newspapers and TV are blindly and faithfully reporting that the Saudis will increase oil production by 200,000 barrels a day.

Even if the totally corrupt Saudi regime is telling the truth, the increase is not enough to matter and won't last. Some good background here.

The Saudis, who are not our friends, are not going to save us.

Monday, June 16, 2008

WisDOT dances on global warming, disses the governor's task force

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation told federal highway officials that it was an "active partner" on the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming and part of the task force's Transportation Work Group.

A WisDOT official told the the work group co-chair, though, that the agency did not "have a seat at the table."

Both of these statements cannot be true.

What!? WisDOT fabricating?!!? Tell me it's not so!

A lot of people took a lot of time out of their really busy lives to serve, unpaid, on this task force. Their reward was to be treated like crap by the brass at WisDOT.

A top WisDOT official, records show, directed staffers to just keep quiet when the Transportation Work Group came around looking for feedback. A WisDOT staffer wrote a scathing memo about the group's work that circulated internally, but was not shared with the Work Group.

Steve Hiniker, co-chair of the group, is pretty angry about it all.

Other task force members ought to be as well.

And Gov. Doyle, who asked these people to serve, ought to issue a reprimand to state staffers who treated them so shabbily.

This is one good way to discourage people from volunteering for public service.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Busalacchi and his whopper

Wherein Frank contradicts himself completely. And this guy's in charge of transportation in the state?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pop-ups

The JS needs revenue and I absolutely hope the paper finds it, but having three visually screaming pop-ups on the same story is a bit much.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

After the storm

Here is sort of mini-west side tour. The Hank Aaron Trail was totally flooded during the storm. The evidence:


There was a ton of garbage caught on the railings. Logs and debris were scattered on the path.


There were some problems in and near Jacobus Park. Depressingly, it will be up to Scott Walker and Milwaukee County to fund the repairs.


The picture below is of a fence in the park.






Here is Wood National Cemetery.


Here are the County Grounds detention basins on Saturday. Water was being pumped from one basin into the other:


And here are those same detention ponds on Sunday.


And the Root River Parkway near Oklahoma Ave. in West Allis.

If you think this is bad...

Everything and everyone is wet.

But it could be worse.

It could be that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation would like to increase the size of the freeway next to your house, bringing it even closer to your back door and increasing by 50% the amount of impervious surface that will send polluted runoff into your yard.

It could be that WisDOT would like to increase the pitch of the freeway to drain it more efficiently into your yard.

It could be that when pushed for its plans to prevent flooding in yards, WisDOT says, Yeah, well, whatever. We'll get around to it later."

It could be that WisDOT is planning exactly that for the Milwaukee portion of the North-South I-94 expansion project.

It is.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

How would he know?

One of the TV weather guys said there have been 4,000 lightning strikes tonight (I think just in Milwaukee County!).

At first I thought, "Wow, that's a lot of lightning strikes!"

Then I thought, "How would he know how many there have been? Who is out there counting them?"

Then my husband told me that a short time earlier, the same weather guy said there were 20,000 lightning strikes.

Oh.

John McCain looks to Gableman strategy

Well, that didn't take long.

From the Associated Press:

A little-known country judge's road to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is being eyed by John McCain backers as a map for him to win the state.

Republican operatives are closely studying how circuit judge Michael Gableman, a conservative candidate from from Webster in far northwest Wisconsin who never ran a statewide race before, was able to oust a more liberal sitting Supreme Court justice in April.

They believe his win provides a guide for McCain to become the first Republican to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984 and capture its 10 electoral votes.

Gableman's disgusting campaign focused on racial fear-mongering. How low will McCain go?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Justice denied

The refusal of prosecutors to investigate whether State Supreme Court Employee Mike Gableman made political calls from his office is disheartening. One Wisconsin Now asked the Government Accountability Board, two district attorneys and State Attorney General JB Van Hollen to investigate the calls Gableman made back when he was Ashland County district attorney.

None of them did. Instead, they ducked and weaved and passed the issue around until the statute of limitations expired. The man who stopped at nothing to win was pre-emptively protected by people sworn to uphold and enforce the law.

The word "Justice" should not sit next to the name "Mike Gableman."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hillary, Barack and John

Hillary Clinton is bowing out and, yes, it's time. The votes are counted and she lost the Democratic primary. Barack Obama won.

The people who are mad at Clinton for not getting out earlier are really, really mad. This seems kind of strange to me. It's competition -- there is no "on' and "off" switch. Was it clear that Clinton blundered in key ways? Yup. Did the contest distract Democrats while John "Bushette" McCain traveled around looking presidential? Yup.

Did Clinton have an obligation to give up her race while there was even the slimmest chance that she would win? No. (Look out -- here comes a sports analogy.) Why is a baseball team expected to play til the last out, but a presidential candidate is expected to concede after the eighth inning?

Was she a sore loser? Yup to that, too. A little more grace on Tuesday would have been nice.

If the Dems can't get the factions together before November to defeat John McCain, though, that's not Clinton's fault -- it's just the Democrats being the Democrats. John McCain is entirely beatable. The integrity he demonstrated during his Vietnam captivity he quickly shed in order to win the Republican endorsement ("I was against tax cuts before I was for them").

My prediction: he will embrace the very types of slime meisters that did him in back in South Carolina in 2000. The issue of race will worm its way into the forefront of the campaign, in a shadowy, ugly, fear-mongering way. The ugliness won't be generated inside the McCain camp, but those snuggling right up close to it. And McCain won't chase them away.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An absolutely shameful Milwaukee scene


There is so much garbage in this lot in the 1300 block of W. Center St. that the birds come to feast on it.