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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

Economic Stimulation?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life

Is it just me or do you agree that there isn't much "stimulation" hitting our level?  I looked at a decent government link this morning and I saw money being used to shore up sagging education program budgets, some money being used for road construction and a handful of other programs including the extension of unemployment compensation programs.

That link is found by clicking here.

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Public Plan Vs. Federal Employees Plan

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

The discussion of health care reform often devolves to someone saying that the "public plan" would be like the plan for federal employees, and since that plan is running very well, the public plan would follow suit.

The public plan would be established and operated by the federal government through whatever new agency it would create.  It would bear no resemblence to the plan available to federal employees.

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Garbage Pick-Up FEES?

Village Buzz, Taxes, Political, Germantown

Village Administrator Dave Schornack is thinking that we may need to institute a garbage pick-up fee and is looking at some changes to the pick-up schedule for recycle items.  The recycle pick-up could be moved from weekly to bi-weekly in order to cut costs.  The pick-ups would be automated requiring new bins that can be lifted and dumped mechanically.

Trustee Dean Wolter, to his credit, says we should exhaust all other options for cost cuts before we even begin thinking about a fee for garbage pick-up.

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Health Care Plan Tidbits - #1

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life

There is one health care reform bill so far, and that is H.R. 3200 in the House of Representatives.  This bill is 1,018 pages long, and appears not to have been read by the majority of congressmen and congresswomen, but they are now out and about conducting Town Hall meetings if they're brave enough.

You may access the bill by clicking here if you desire.

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Report Card - First Six Months

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

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Another Doyle "Oopsie"

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

Does anyone really think that the governor, who has everything buttoned down around him, would select a chief legal counsel whom he hasn't vetted?  Is it possible that something like not having passed the bar examination to be admitted to practice law in Wisconsin could possibly miss his scrutiny?  Is the simple position designation of "adviser" going to give him a place to put his back?

Given the past history of Governor Doyle's ultra-tightly run organization, I have to believe that he did this knowing that he was skating very close to the edge, but believing that he'd never get called out.

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Cash For Clunkers Revisited...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

I have talked with several people who are involved in the automobile business and who have direct experience with the "Cash for Clunkers" program.  This program went through $1 Billion in about a week when Congress thought that would last until November.  Congress has now approved another $2 Billion and tells us that will take this program out through Labor Day.

The huge amount of money being deployed in this program is one thing.  We do not have it available but you and me will pay for it through taxes as the borrowings are repaid (to China, probably).  My discussion with these people was more oriented to what they thought of the program and what it would or wouldn't accomplish.

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Are We Communicating?

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

What seems to be passing for communication on national issues reminds me of times gone by when important and/or passion-raising issues have been at the forefront of the nation.

I am developing the feeling that we may well have forgotten how it is we go about communicating.  The absence of adult discussion during congressional "listening sessions" is very disturbing.  It seems to have become a part of the current culture.  Health care is very near and very dear to the hearts of most of us; I can understand the passion that is aroused; I, too, am passionate about this subject.

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Doyle "Oopsie" - Part two

Political, Wisconsin

Who knew that this story would be continued?

We now learn, courtesy of an open records request for e-mails, that the Doyle cadre knew full well that the new hire for the senior adviser position was going to be handling legal affairs.  The cadre knew full well that the lady to be hired had to sit for the Wisconsin bar examination and acknowledged by e-mail to her that they'd give her thirty days of soft duty in which to study.

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$700,000 Overdraft?

Economy, Political, Taxes, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Department of Veterans Affairs is, according to the morning Journal Sentinel, asking the legislature to cover it for $700,000 it spent when it had no money left to spend.

A $700,000 overdraft, it would seem.  Many questions come to mind.

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Happy 'Cost of Government' Day

Economy, Quality of Life, Taxes

Today is the day that has been coined Cost of Government Day by the Americans for Tax Reform.  It "celebrates" the day of the year when we reach the end of paying for the total estimated costs of federal, state and local governments as well as for complying with the regulations of those three levels of government.

Last year, the date this happened was July 16th.  Today, August 13th, is the latest date this has occurred since the "celebration" began.  The organization calculates that the total cost of government this year has consumed over 61% of our prosperity.

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Village Buzz - July 14th...

Village Buzz, Village Board, Political, Germantown

Farmers Market Re-Location...

I was interested in the reason for the recent relocation of the Germantown Farmers Market from The Livery in Rockfield to the Senior Center parking lot in Germantown.   The few times I saw the event at The Livery, I came away thinking that the turn-out of customers seemed less than would be desired by the vendors.

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Reflections...

Political, Quality of Life

It seems such a long time ago that we elected Barack Obama as our new president, and yet it was only a few months ago.  We have been on the ride of our lives since inauguration day and it shows few signs of slowing.

There are things at work in our country that are very difficult for me to divine, much less to define, but...

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Doyle Announcement

Political, Wisconsin

The rumor mills had swirled for several weeks with the prediction that Governor Doyle would not run for a third term, but each time these things surfaced, he beat them down quickly.  And then, the rumor re-surfaced and the only thing we heard was that the governor would make "an announcement" on Monday (today).  He did make his announcement.

This occurence starts many different  things and likely curtails a few, as well.  Those Democrats who never thought this possible are very busy trying to sort this all out and trying to decide if they'll either throw their hat in the ring or with whom they'll align.

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Roundabouts

Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The roundabout that would've been constructed at the Wausaukee Road/Mequon Road intersection was ultimately replaced with a more traditional light-controlled intersection with turn lanes.  That happened after the process became a political 'hot potato'.  The concerns were centered on the fact that Mequon Road is State Highway 167 and that Wausaukee Road was a major feeder route for garbage trucks headed to and from the landfill just across the border between Germantown and Menomonee Falls.  Very serious accidents had happened in this intersection.

A new, partially-completed, roundabout is now in use at the intersection of County Highway Q and State Highway 164.  It will ultimately have two lanes and will accomodate the largest trucks for which special permits are not required due to over-length.  I spoke with a DOT engineer about roundabouts in general.  He sent me reams of engineering detail that attests to the fact that roundabouts, after a "break-in" period (my term) during which 'low severity crashes' might be a bit higher, result in reductions in the number and severity of accidents.  The break-in period is apparently from one to as much as three years depending upon location and whether urban, suburban or country.

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A Little Forgetful?

Potpourri, Quality of Life

Here is a ditty with which you may be able to identify.

Click here.

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New Health Bill Tactics

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life

Amid heavy criticism and declining poll numbers so far as those who support health care reform measures, the Senate is considering breaking the health care bill into two pieces and passing the first piece under the "Byrd Rule" that permits a majority of 51 votes.  This would assure that the first piece would pass IF the Senate Leader can keep the Democrat members under control.  The first piece of legislation would include Federal subsidies to buy insurance, expansion of Medicaid and, of course, new taxes to pay for these two pieces.

There is now some serious discussion about whether the use of the 51 vote simply majority (reconciliation) would be proper for this type of bill.  This is defined under what is referred to as the Byrd Rule.  That suggests that such use would be improper and might well lead to Republicans raising that issue thus requiring the Senate to get to a 60 vote majority if the first piece of the bill were to be able to be passed.

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The Fond du Lac Dilemma

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

We are watching what could prove to be the action that caused the implosion of Fond du Lac.  We are watching this on the heels of Janesville's implosion.  We are watching this on the heels of news that Harley executives are looking at three other states for a new plant site that, ostensibly, would be used for the York, PA work if that plant is closed.

In Fond du Lac, the Mercury Marine organization's 800+ union workers will vote on Sunday and that vote will determine if Fond du Lac retains the roughly 2,000 direct jobs and whether Wisconsin retains the additional 8,000 or so jobs that are dependent upon this outcome.

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Political Arrogance

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

Political arrogance is alive and well at virtually all levels of government, but it is far more visible at the state and national levels of government.

The politicians afflicted with this disease are apparently convinced that they know what is best for us peons who sent them to Madison or to Washington, D.C.  Political arrogance takes the form of the elected official using his or her vote to represent themselves and/or 'the party'.

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What Now?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The union employees voted down the proposed contract at Mercury Marine, and the company president says that is it.  The company will finish out in Wisconsin in the next 24 to 36 months and then its headquarters and most jobs will be found in Stillwater, OK.

What now?

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Puzzling War On The Elderly

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life

John Goodman, who heads the National Center for Policy Analysis, wrote an excellent blog today with the above as its title.

It is well worth reading by anyone who is 'elderly' or  who has a relative who is 'elderly'.  It concerns the effort by the Obama Administration to cut the Medicare Advantage program by significant amounts.

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From the Ashes?

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

The healthcare reform approach often referred to as ObamaCare appears to be imploding as the result of the American people making their thoughts known during the August recess.  The most liberal politicians are seeing their dreams of universal single payer health care dashed once again.  The last time was when HillaryCare met an early demise as the American people began to understand just what that would mean to them and to their children and grandchildren.

From the ashes of defeat, there is a golden opportunity to re-make our health care system without first wrecking it. 

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Village Buzz - August 26th...

Village Buzz, School Board, Quality of Life, MATC, Education

School Board Moves HS Principal...

The subject of the closed door meeting held two weeks earlier became known last night.  Jim Blackburn, Germantown High School Principal was moved from that position to the new position of Coordinator of Communication and Transition Services.  A current assistant principal, Joel Farren, will assume the role of Interim Principal.

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The 9/10 Approach Returns

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

We had a different approach to the fight against terrorism on 9/10 than we had on 9/11.  As we all witnessed the World Trade Center buildings collapse having seen the airplanes flown into them intentionally, we seemed to awaken to the threat that we had largely ignored to that time.

We mobilized the CIA and all our military intelligence services and the Defense Department intelligence services.  They all were given instructions to work 24/7 and to use the techniques necessary to preclude any such further attacks on our soil.

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Follow The Money

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

This phrase is simplistic but all too true when we look at politics and law-making.  Given the relatively low cost of running for local or county office, the money required is not "big money".  At the local level and county levels the "money" may be more the chance to rub shoulders with those who are successful, or to be able to be seen with important politicians or business people.

At the state level, "big money" is at play; big by how most of us would define that.  The teachers' union spends millions to buy elections on behalf of those it knows will be supportive.  And it seems to get its money's worth more times than not.  In some cases, WEAC has had to wait but, as we saw with the QEO, they finally got what they were after.  Trial lawyers spend a lot of money to buy what they want, and more often than not get what they wanted.  Our current Governor Doyle has raised huge amounts of money over his state election 'career', and he has usually delivered for that influential constituency. 

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Senate After Ted Kennedy

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

There is much speculation amongst those with a "political" gene as to how the Senate will look and act following the death of Ted Kennedy.  I was not a Kennedy fan, but he was a strong force in the Senate especially when the Democrats held a majority.  He did seem to work the other side of the aisle to get Republicans on board for some of his programs.  I see the bulk of those deals having been a bit more what the Democrats wanted than what the Republicans wanted, but he did get things done.

So now, with the funeral behind us, the speculation is ripe as to where his death takes the Senate, and, therefore, where it might take the country.  There is now a 59 to 40 alignment if we presume that those calling themselves Independent actually most often vote with the Democrats.  It is very difficult for the Democrats to be sure that Sen. Byrd could be counted on to be able to be present given his health conditions.  He did make it out for Kennedy's funeral, but he looked very weak.  There is a question of the number of Republicans that might cross over and vote "Yes".

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