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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

Village Buzz - May 1st

County Board, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, Village Board, Village Buzz, Wisconsin

SEWRPC Delays Yet Again...

Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi wrote to SEWRPC earlier this week to reiterate his desire that Germantown, along with other suburban communities, receive the money that had originally been approved at the state level for their shovel-ready projects.

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Swine Flu Over-Reaction?

Germantown, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, U.S., Wisconsin

We seem to have lost track of "the flu" and what it usually does each year in the United States.  The new "Swine flu" has taken the country, and the world, by storm and yet there are only a relative handful of cases.

We lose some 36,000 people in the typical year to "the flu".  That seems to have been a fairly constant standard.  We seldom even hear about those figures during the normal flu season. 

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More Milwaukee Schools Closed...

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin, Germantown, School Board

I continue to be amazed that the politicians, and their public health department, are closing even more schools in Milwaukee over the "Swine Flu" pandemic.

This dog just isn't hunting; the flu has proved, so far at least, to be nothing more than the common influenza strains so far as duration and severity.

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Honor Flights

Quality of Life, U.S., Wisconsin, Germantown

You have very likely heard or read about Honor Flights.  This is a program that is striving to get as many World War II veterans on board aircraft for a one day "out and back" visit to Washington, D.C. and the relatively new World War II Memorial.

We are at the point where we are losing something approaching about 1,000 World War II veterans every day; that is a hard number to grasp but those veterans are at least 82 years of age even if they got into the battle in 1945 at the age of 18.

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Federal Control Of Student Lending

Economy, Education, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

President Obama is moving headlong into national control of more and more essential areas of our lives.  We have seen nationalization of banks and auto manufacturers and insurers.  There is a heavy push going on today for a national health plan that would ultimately wipe out the private sector.

And then along comes the nationalization of all student loans.  That is among the latest things being espoused by President Obama.  He isn't being coy about it either.  In response to the private sector student loan industry that is trying to keep a hand in this process, he has said that he saw this "choice as stark."

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Schools Advised They Can Re-Open

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has put out the word today that the Swine Flu has not been as bad as had been feared.  She said that schools were no longer being told to close when a positive case had been found.

I would hope that those Wisconsin schools that had closed will re-open tomorrow so that teachers have some time to catch up with what has been missed so far.  The state has indicated that school days lost due to these closures does not have to be made up.

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Hippocratic Oath

Economy, Healthcare, Quality of Life, Taxes

Doctors are admonished, through the Hippocratic Oath, to "first, do no harm."

Our elected, and some appointed, officials are working at the state and national levels to "reform" health care.  Many have good ideas.  Some have poor ideas.  Most of the ideas carry significant costs...both financial and social.

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Village Buzz - May 7th...

Germantown, County Board, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board, Village Buzz

County Highway Q Approved...

After much back and forth, and the application of some political pressure, the decision has been made to proceed with the County Line Road work that had originally been approved as a 'shovel ready" project by the state Transportation Department and its Secretary, Frank Busalacchi.

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Reality Strikes

Just when we might think that we have conquered the realities of this life, we are often rudely reminded to the contrary.

For seemingly ages, the state government has run up new spending programs on the backs of us taxpayers.  More of this and more of that.  A new program here and a new program there.  As the former Illinois senator, Everett Dirkson, is reported to have said, "A million here, a million there; pretty soon you're talking about real money!"  That goes back decades, as you can see.  He was decrying how easily a million dollars was spent.  Today, we hear politicians using the "billion" word and now the even the "trillion" word all too casually.

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Village Buzz - May 12th...

Germantown, Quality of Life, Village Buzz

Mai Fest Almost Here...

It hardly seems possible, and maybe the slow arrival of warm weather is part of the cause, but Mai Fest is upon us this coming weekend.  Saturday hours are from Noon to 10:00PM, and Sunday hours are Noon to 8:00PM.

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Aphorisms For A Spring Day


  • The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.
  • Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
  • Seat belts are not as confining as wheel chairs.
  • How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
  • Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
  • Scratch a cat and you'll have a permanent job.
  • No one ever says, It's only a game", when they're winning.
  • The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
  • Have you ever thought about the fact that, in forty years, we'll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos?  And rap music will be the Golden Oldies?
  • Always be yourself because the people that matter don't mind; and, the ones that mind don't matter.


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Your Health Care

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

There is a great debate taking place about your health care.  It is taking place in the hallowed halls of Congress and in the various meeting rooms in the White House.  It is of potentially critical importance to you and you are not being very well informed about what could happen to your health care, and to your health and well being.

Peggy Noonan has an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal and I have clipped a snippet.  She wrote:

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Doyle Raising Taxes? You Must Be Kidding!

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Governor Doyle has been quoted as saying that he may have to raise taxes in order to continue to fund education in Wisconsin.

The significance of that statement is far-reaching and not just a little disconcerting.  Up to this point, he has stated that he has not raised taxes.  We know better, but he couches the "raising" of taxes as meaning the big three: income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes.

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Credit Card Curbs

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

Likely to ultimately go under the general category of "unintended consequences" is the about-to-be-signed bill that will limit the credit card companies in what they can do and how they can do it.

On the surface, as almost always seems the case, this bill will limit the rates that can be charged, the time frames under which changes can be made, the number of days before the due date that a billing must be sent, and so on.  Who among us other than the deadbeats would object too strenuously to this?

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Village Buzz - May 21st...

Education, Quality of Life, Village Buzz, School Board

GTA Job Actions Reported...

The Germantown Teachers Association, true to its threats, is engaging in various job actions to demonstrate its displeasure with the most recent contract settlement.  Germantown's school administration and board have made every effort to avoid cutting positions as has been decided in Menomonee Falls and Mequon, but the GTA seems not to be concerned about reductions in teachers and accompanying increases in class size.

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Guv To Cut Local Tax Sharing

Economy, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes, Village Board, Wisconsin, MATC

Governor Doyle, late yesterday afternoon, held a press conference to tell reporters that he was going to have to reduce local government and local school revenue sharing by some 2.5%.  That brings several things to mind.

First, he would have us believe that he cannot possibly cut more than 1,400 state employees.  He would have us believe that there are no "make work" wastes of taxpayer money that could be killed.  He would have us believe that all the new programs he has included in his budget are necessary to our very existence.  I don't believe that for an instant.

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While The Cat Is Away...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The state's Joint Finance Committee will be working during this holiday period ostensibly due to the enormous task they face to perfect the various budget measures now on their desks.

Could it be that this was decided on the basis that very few people would be paying any attention to the news, if there were any reported?  This committee is, of course decidedly Democrat with the make-up standing at 12 Democrats and 4 Republicans.  To the victor go the spoils is, I believe, the operative phrase.  The spoils in this case are our tax dollars and some of our freedoms.

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Memorial Day 2009

Quality of Life

The following e-mail arrived in my in box last week and reminded me again of what it is we celebrate on Memorial Day:

"You're a 19 year old kid.

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Long Week-End Didn't Help Taxes

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The Joint Finance Committee didn't do much to help over the week-end when it met in Madison.  Having had the benefit of the week-end to hide its moves, the committee, on the party line vote of 12 Democrats to 4 Republicans in nearly every instance, still insists on costing you and me more.

It did move the minimum government contribution trigger point at which the Prevailing Wage law takes effect.  The new limit was increased to $1 million of government money or in-kind assistance.  That means that things such as the Germantown Kiwanis Band Shell project probably won't be adversely impacted, but it also means that many local and regional development projects will be hit.  It doesn't take much of a project to pass the million dollar mark in TIF districts, for example.  The Prevailing Wage law requires that contractors pay the prevailing wage which is typically the union wage for all workers.  Not only will there be fewer such projects, but those that do go forward will carry a higher price tag than would've otherwise been the case.  School districts will be especially hard hit if the residents approve spending measures.

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Liability Laws In Doyleland

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

Governor Doyle is trying to pay the trial lawyers back for their nearly $250,000 of donations.  The best way to do that is to open up the liability laws, and he has proposed just that in the state budget.

This is known as "joint and several liability" and it basically means that you or me could be found just 1% negligent and be exposed to paying 100% of the damages that might be awarded by a jury.  This law was changed in 1995 so that a defendant would need to be found at least 51% at fault in order to be required to pay as much as 1005 of the damages.

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State-Mandated Traffic Stop Database

Germantown, Police, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Part of the budget bill is a requirement that police departments maintain a database of information concerning the race of drivers who are stopped for violations.  That information would apparently be maintained at the state level. It is obvious that this is aimed at the issue of "racial profiling" by law enforcement agencies.

Whether or not there is racial profiling by police departments has been an "on again - off again" topic for debate over quite a few years.  I asked Police Chief Pete Hoell of the Germantown Police Department what his thoughts were on this issue.  Among other things, he said that there is already a Policy and Procedure document within the GPD that monitors the racial issue for traffic stops and that the Command Staff is tasked with assuring that the road officers are following the rules laid down to assure that the policies are followed.

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Overnight Massacre

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

There was an overnight massacre in Madison last evening.  The Joint Finance Committee met behind closed doors discussing, and passing, the majority of items that hadn't yet been discussed by the committee.

The legislature has, for its own reasons, removed itself from the open meeting laws that prevail for our villages and cities and counties. It did that so that it could do exactly what it did last night.  The majority, Democrats, knew, full well, what they were up to, and they knew, full well, that the vast majority of the state's citizens wouldn't be paying attention.

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What Were You Thinking?

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

Have you ever been confronted by that question from a parent or a teacher or a boss or a spouse or a friend?  It usually suggests that you have done something utterly stupid, or indefensible, or in terribly bad taste, or all of the above.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle in Madison and we are gaining a better understanding of just what Governor Doyle and the Democrat Senate and Assembly are doing to us...not for us...I would ask them:

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