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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

SynergyHealth Makes Decision...

Economy, Germantown, Healthcare, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

As we predicted a few days ago, SynergyHealth made its decision to pursue a formal affiliation with what will become known as Progressive Health.  That, as you'll remember, is the coming together of Columbia St. Mary's and Froedtert and Community Health.

This seemed, from a layman's perspective, to be the best outcome for SynergyHealth and its Board concurred.  The final negotiations remain to be finished and the target for that to be completed has been set at May 1st.  This should bode well for the Menomonee Falls/Germantown/West Bend/Hartford area since there was a very real possibility that Aurora would become the defacto sole choice available.  The results of our race to consolidate healthcare systems remains to be determined so far as price increases or moderation, etc.  Building will continue, and that cannot but help add to costs.  If over-building occurs, some organizations will suffer.  Of course, us patients are going to be caught in whatever happens.

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Dateline: Washington, D.C.

Political, Potpourri, Quality of Life, U.S.

I will be in our nation's capitol for a few days and thought I'd share thoughts from here for those who might be interested.  I have been coming out for the past few years to meet with our Wisconsin Representatives and Senators on behalf of an industry trade association of which I'm a part.

This is always an interesting trip.  As I stepped outside Reagan National airport this afternoon, I was greeted by temperatures in the low 50s and a sunny sky.  This is where it disappeared to from Wisconsin!  Our special airline, Midwest, made the ride very comfortable and the cookies were just as good as ever.

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Elementary School Responses...

County Board, Education, Germantown, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

I encourage readers to click on the earlier Elementary School Blog for the give and take between citizen Irwin Fletcher and School Board member Bruce Warnimont.

This dialog will likely continue for some time and some of Mr. Warnimont's responses will appear at that location while others will comprise separate Blogs.  He has responded to questions that Mr. Fletcher had posted earlier, and the responses are very instructive.

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Super Tuesday: Dishonesty & Disenfranchisement...

Political, U.S., Wisconsin

Super Tuesday is upon us and it is very possible that we'll know the selections of both major parties by late tonight or early Wednesday morning.

In one regard, that may be a real blessing for many, if not all, of us who are already worn out by the relentless coverage of campaigns.  This is that time in our election cycle when candidates 'play' to their party faithful.  They know who the passionate people are and what they believe, and those votes are mighty important.  So important that we often see different people than we thought were running.

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Socialism Is Alive And Well...In Washington, D.C.

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, SCHIP, Taxes, U.S., Wisconsin

I had the 'pleasure' of meeting with one of Congressman Obey's staff members, Paul Carver, on Super Tuesday in the Congressman's absence.  Obey is the Congressman who represents Wausau and the surrounding area, and who is the 'Big Dog' so far as appropriations go in the new world controlled by the Democrats.  Congressman Obey has the reputation of a 'pit bull' and it appears that he hires in his own image.  The staff person, Paul Carver, is a native of England and had an attitude that was apparent from the very moment he walked out of his area and stated that ours weren't the names he had been expecting.  We had the pleasure of Mr. Carver's presence since the House of Representatives isn't in session this week.  I have no idea if the Congressman would've been more hospitable, less hospitable or about the same.

We were representing the National Association of Health Underwriters, a well-respected association in Washington,D.C.  NAHU represents 20,000 insurance agents and brokers who collectively handle the health care insurance coverage for some 150 million citizens.  We wanted to discuss the legislation that we expect which will affect health insurance for every citizen of the United States.

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20" Of Snow Covers A Lot Of Ground...


Washington County received 20" of snow, and some of us felt it in Washington, D.C.  Midwest Airlines had its hands full on Wednesday as the storm continued to dump and then appeared to stall.  I sat in the airport waiting along with several hundred others as the saga unfolded.  A morning flight had been cancelled earlier in the day, and that aircraft was at the gate and would supposedly depart on time.  A delay was announced, and people at the gate simply settled in to wait the two hours for 'more information'.

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School Referendum Question & Answer: Part Two

Education, Germantown, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

As mentioned in the January 30th Blog that inaugurated this series of discussions about a new elementary school in Germantown, we sought questions to be posed to Bruce Warnimont, Committee Chair of the School Board's Building Committee.

Question:  How do us citizens know that this proposal is truly the best of the alternatives that were considered?

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Health Care Costs Continue To Grow While We Fiddle...

Healthcare, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

It is nearly impossible to avoid finding something having to do with our health care cost 'crisis' in any newspaper we pick up.  There are seemingly press releases offered daily by one or another group extolling the virtues of their plan for controlling this 'crisis', and yet the magnitude of the 'crisis' continues to increase.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the things that consume half or more of the money we pump into the health care system.  Those issues are all matters of personal control.  We eat too much fat; we smoke too much; we drink too much alcohol; and we get too little exercise.  These are personal issues and they cannot be solved by any organization, nor any government program...yet we stumble-bumble along somehow expecting that the nanny government will do for us what we apparently will not do for ourselves. 

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Wisconsin Losing Population...

Economy, Political, Potpourri, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

United Van Lines recently released its 2007 survey of migration patterns from state-to-state across the country.  It shows that, while Wisconsin is not yet listed as a 'high outbound' state, it is nearing that designation with 54.6% of moves being out of the state rather than into the state.  55% is the trigger point to move into the high outbound category.  This trend has been evident since United started this survey in 1977.

Given our winter so far this year, we might blame some of these outbound moves on that.  North Carolina was the highest rated inbound state, followed by Alabama, South Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

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Elementary School Referendum Question and Answer...Part Three

Education, Germantown, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

As a follow up to the last question, the question posed to Bruce Warnimont was this:

Question:  If the vote on April 1st is against the referendum question, will we see it again?

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Polaroid Closes Instant Film Plants...

Potpourri, Quality of Life

I was struck by this news item from yesterday.  I vividly recall one day when my Dad brought home one of the very first Polaroid 'Instant' cameras.  It was a relatively large folding camera where the lens appeared as the unit unfolded.  It must have weighed almost two pounds.  That had to be in the early to mid-1950s.

The film came in a box and I recall that you got eight pictures per box at a cost approaching about $4.00 per box.  That was a high price in the mid-50s.

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Economy, Education, Germantown, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Am I the only person who is exasperated with our state and national political/tax scene?  I doubt that very much. 

As I watch the 'Amazing Obama' versus 'Deserving Hillary' race unfold, I see a real race as to which can promise greater tax increases/profit confiscation to the tune of TRILLIONS of dollars.  What is even more amazing to me is the blatant approach both are taking...coupled with the seeming lack of perception their two groups of supporters have of what they're getting into.  These two people are socialist/populists so far as I can see.  There is the inevitable class warfare coupled with promises that neither will ever be able to keep...thank goodness!  And, it seems, with every passing day, that Barack Obama will wrest this nomination away from Hillary Clinton unless the Clinton 'machine' is able to do him in...and that cannot be discounted.

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Has 'Clinton Fatigue' Finally Reached Its Zenith?

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Taxes, U.S.

We have all heard and read about the Clintons seemingly forever.  We were, as a country, mesmerized by the first 'man from Hope'.  We watched as this former Arkansas governor simply overwhelmed the opposition.  He had all the right moves.  He seemed sincere.  He was, unknown to us at the time, a bit of a scoundrel.  He became our president for eight years.  He built the most vaunted political 'machine' of its time, and that machine ultimately helped to put the former first lady into the U.S. Senate as a New Yorker which was a stretch.  The definition of carpetbagger had to be stretched to accommodate her.

Senator Hillary Clinton was watched as she did her work in the Senate.  She was mentioned early on as the prospective first woman candidate for the presidency.  It seemed to be her destiny.  The press couldn't seem to get enough of her.  And, as it was written, she assumed the mantle and joined the race amid the flourishes that accompany the 'next coming' of a politician.

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Primary Tuesday...My Choice Has Been Made For Me...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S., Wisconsin

Back in my Blog of January 23rd, I tried to work through the choice of the person of conservative bent whom I would favor with my vote during our primary elections.  I had, at that point, devolved to Mitt Romney as 'my candidate'.  Then, Mitt determined that he wouldn't make the cut and removed himself from the fray.  He was statesmanlike, and, I believe, was placing party and country above self.  That's part of what attracted me to him, and still is.

So now, I watch 'liquid snow' and have realized that I no longer have a decision to make.  My three choices are Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

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Do Political 'Independents' Lack Depth Of Knowledge?

Political, U.S., Wisconsin

As I read through the Journal Sentinel this morning, Mike Nichols' column titled "Independents have clout, if not cohesion" caught my eye.  It deals with the registered Democrats, the registered Republicans and those of us who declare ourselves to be 'independent' of those parties.  Please read it in its entirety when time permits by clicking on the link above.

If you're a regular reader, you'll recall my Blog titled "Socialism is alive and Washington, D.C." that appeared a week or so ago.  That dealt with my take-away after having visited Congressman Obey's office and the treatment my group received from one of his assistants in Mr. Obey's absence.

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An Out Of 'Body Worlds' Experience...

Education, Potpourri

I had the opportunity to visit the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Body Worlds exhibition that is now being featured.  I had seen the publicity information so I felt that I had an idea of what to expect.

My expectations were significantly shattered by the reality of the exhibition.  It is simply AWESOME!

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U.S. Intelligence Gathering Suffers While Pelosi Gloats...

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

We have, as a country, had the ability to quickly subject people to warrantless wiretapping orders since soon after 9/11 so that we could prevent other such occurrences and terrorist activities in general.  Apparently this, in conjunction with other things, has worked because we've been remarkably safe and protected here in our homeland.

The FISA mechanism was too slow to properly enable us to defend against the use of throw-away cell phones, etc., and this approach was the solution to the changing techniques used by the 'bad guys'.

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Political Payback At Expense Of Virtual School Students...

Education, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The uglier side of politics reared its head in the last couple of days.  In this instance, the victim appears to be the virtual school movement and its students and their parents.  The larger loss is the innovative approach to education that looked to be worth fully exploring.

How did this occur?  WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council), the largest of the two major teachers' unions in Wisconsin flexed its muscle.  It called in some political chits it has amassed by supporting Democrats with both money and 'in kind' services.

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Obama, Youthful Supporters & Seniors...

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

I regularly read the Blogs at Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review.  I know... I should get a life :>)

One in particular caught my attention.  It discussed the phenomenon that is Barack Obama, and the recently energized involvement of youthful voters.  Against this backdrop, the author peered into a crystal ball and opined about some of the implications.  In turn, I began thinking about the issues this could raise:

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Obama Has Begun To Bring Substance...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

Barack Obama was soundly criticized for his 'empty eloquence' as John McCain labeled it.  Mr. Obama has begun to add some of the substance that seemed to be missing from his earlier speeches and from his earlier debate responses.  He is proving himself to be very facile and to have 'facts' well under his control.  His 'facts' might be subject to further debate, but he is not easily tripped up when probed for a deeper response to nearly any topic.

This newfound substance, however, causes me some other concerns.  Barack Obama appears to have never met a problem that couldn't be solved by more government intervention or more tax dollars or both.

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Banks In Grocery Stores?

Germantown, Potpourri, Quality of Life

Banks have been located in grocery stores for the past couple of decades.  Grocery stores love it because they get more money from the space that might otherwise not be filled with merchandise.  Banks love it because people are found in grocery stores and people use banks.  And, a lot of people love it for the convenience; bank and shop with one stop.

Makes sense doesn't it?

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Great Job By Two Police Departments...

Germantown, Police, Quality of Life

The Journal Sentinel reported this morning that the two suspects, aged 23 and 22, in the robbery of the Guaranty Bank branch in the Germantown Pick 'n Save are nicely ensconced in the Washington County Jail.

This whole incident showcases the cooperation and professionalism of both the Germantown Police Department and the Menomonee Falls Police Department.  Germantown's Police Chief Pete Hoell said that in his posting to my earlier Blog on the idea of banks in stores.  And, during an entirely unrelated meeting with Menomonee Falls Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald this morning, he mentioned the same thing about the two Departments.  Both communities have every right to be proud, and we all can feel very safe knowing that this level of inter-Departmental cooperation will exist in every similar occurrence in the future.

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