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
I am overloaded with politics! This election for president has been going on seemingly forever. Obviously, it has been going on for nearly two full years. The two final candidates have spent nearly $1 billion between the two of them. They have filled the airwaves with television and radio advertisements and they have filled the newspapers and mailboxes with written advertisements.
In addition to the presidential campaigns, we have been inundated with congressional campaigning and local senate and assembly campaigning. Telephones have been ringing with 'get out the vote' campaigns and with 'robo calls'. Lawn signs have seemed to grow for the past three or four months. Early voting has been going on for a month or better.
There has been much ado over the signing of a "No Tax" pledge by Rep. Wasserman and whether or not he violated his pledge. This issue has been debated and both candidates have gone after the topic vigorously.
Rep. Wasserman appeared on the Mark Belling Show on WISN 1130AM last Friday to specifically refute the claim that he had violated his pledge.
Recently I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.
Wow, voting day is finally here and my telephone will quit ringing so much, my mailbox will be less cluttered and I can either celebrate or cry in my proverbial beer. This election 'season' has seemed to go on forever. Several things are at top of mind this morning...
Milwaukee Police Unit Disbanded...
First, thank goodness that the elections are essentially over this morning. This seemed a particularly grueling election season although I don't quite understand why.
From a personal perspective, I won some and lost some; probably like many of you. Now, I'm trying to determine what I think will be happening as the result of the votes made yesterday and earlier by absentee ballot. I haven't even thought about the national implications, but have some ideas about our state and local implications.
This is a very nice little slide show set to music that might give you a bit of an uplift for the day after the elections.
GEA Members Protesting...
I have learned that teachers in Germantown, members of the Germantown Education Association, are apparently protesting by wearing black clothing, or black armbands and pins over their lack of a contract that expired a few months earlier.
Now that the dust of the election returns has begun to settle, the talk of the governance approach of our new president has taken flight. I have read several pieces that discuss this subject and heard several discussions on the same subject. The Wall Street Journal had an excellent editorial today titled Obama's Real Opposition.
The subject of that piece was the old line liberals who will be pushing and pulling President Obama as they wish, to make him decide as they wish him to decide.
The voters in Wisconsin have decided that the Democrats are going to run the state for at least two years. They control state government and can, if they choose, push their way past any Republican opposition. That remains to be seen, however I suspect the power vested in the Democrats will be too much for them to resist. Just as there is a 'pent-up demand' in the Democrat majority in Washington, there is also that same force at work in Madison.
Some of the things I expect we'll see include (in spite of my protestations):
Smoking Bans that apply to all public buildings, and some outdoor public spaces across the state...
These bans will follow the patterns set by some municipalities and counties that have taken action already. The ban will probably include taverns and gaming establishments. The ban will not attempt to outlaw tobacco products but could also include additional taxation above and beyond that we've seen in the recent past.
These bans will, unfortunately, trample on the property rights of business owners. Tavern owners should be given the right to determine if they will appeal to non-smokers or to smokers. Cigar bars and retail smoking parlors should be permitted to continue to exist. Second-hand smoke and its dangers to employees will be the mantra and "property rights be damned" will be the battle cry.
Expansion of state-funded health care plans...
There will be little or no opportunity for a rational discussion of those already existing programs where lessons could be learned because the controlling party members want no such 'light of day' to shine on their ideas. That proved too damaging in the past, and they have the raw power to ram this through.
We risk moving too far down this slippery slope so as to inhibit a return in the future as this behemoth proves to have been the wrong decision. These incursions in the 'free marketplace' will carry a dastardly price tag.
There will likely be more 'mandated benefits' than in the past in spite of the fact that a significant part of our cost issues can be laid at the feet of existing over-zealousness on this front.
I am convinced that the QEO (qualifying economic offer) provisions in place now will be eliminated or significantly altered and that this will lead to higher taxes within a year.
I expect that there will be a significant change in the manner in which education is funded and there is a present danger that, without adequate debate, those results will be skewed toward the establishment and not the students and taxpayers.
I expect to see limitations on alternative forms of education such as home schooling, Internet Schools, school choice and on and on. WEAC owns the Democrats and it will demand its payback.
At the very time when our state should be cutting expense to reduce the tax burden, it will add expense. The state budget is already some $3 to $4 billion underfunded.
Mandated programs implemented at the state level are unlikely to be adequately funded, so localities will be forced to increase their taxes to comply.
Caps on local tax increase rates will be lifted or significantly modified so that property taxes can and will increase more often and at higher amounts. There is never 'enough' money and there are always 'good programs' that really need to be enacted.
Sendik's Food Market 60 Days Later...
I have yet to encounter a Sendik's associate who wasn't happy to be there and who wasn't happy to help me.
I find myself in a contemplative mood following the election last Tuesday. I was not a Barack Obama fan but he is our president-elect and will guide us, in conjunction with the Congress, over at least the next four years. He is my president-elect and, as he said during his press conference yesterday, "We have only one president at a time." I really want him to be successful!
There were three articles on the Opinion pages of the week-end Wall Street Journal this morning that I found particularly appropriate in these days of transition. Maybe you'll find them such as well.
They never know just what to expect when a call comes in; in the case of the Mequon police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call yesterday, the uncertainty became a known very quickly.
The call took the officer to an address in the vicinity of 76th (Wauwatosa Road) and Mequon Road...not far from our placid village.
Reminder: MATC Secession Hearings Tomorrow
My apologies for this re-hash concerning the MATC public hearings but it is important that anyone interested in making comments is in attendance at one or the other of the two sessions scheduled for Tuesday, November 11th:
Tuesday, November 11th from 2:00PM to 5:00PM
Menomonee Falls Public Library
Tuesday, November 11th from 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Menomonee Falls Community Center
Happy Veterans Day!
Veterans Day is sometimes confused with Memorial Day, but it is in honor of all people who have served their country in uniform rather than honoring only those who have given their lives for their country while in uniform.
A Journal Sentinel editorial this morning implored us to take this time to read or re-read the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our Constitution. That seemed a very good idea during this time of political transition and on a day honoring veterans who have served to defend our constitutional rights.
A few short weeks ago, our governor mentioned that we would be contending with as much as a $3 billion budget shortfall in the next biennium.
A few days ago, that number was escalated to as much as $4 billion. At that time, the governor was quoted as saying that he would do everything possible to avoid having to increase taxes.
Sheriff's Department Gathers Kempinski Records...
JSOnline and the print edition of the Journal Sentinel have an article by Don Behm discussing a search warrant that was used to pick up records that included campaign finance reports and receipts. According to that article, some 30 documents were removed from the Village Hall on Friday, November 7th.
The angst that followed the election concerning the defeat of the referenda items has subsided a bit. I want to explore the whole subject of education in our community and state, and have been discussing many issues with those involved including school board members from communities in Wisconsin, educators and taxpayers. I have no idea how long this series will run, but the input of the citizenry is important and I hope this might provoke some additional rational discussion.
Promises are made in every election campaign, and especially in presidential election campaigns. We're told that one candidate will do this for us and the other will do that for us. We are made promise after promise, almost on the order of a 'can you top this' game.
The following are purportedly actual 9-1-1 calls captured from the Nashville, TN system:
Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
First, there was a story by Thomas J. McKillen in the November 15th edition of Germantown Express News concerning the November 10th School Board meeting. In that story there were quotes attributed to Jon Stachowiak who is the President of the Germantown Education Association. The article stated:
"GEA President Jon Stachowiak opened his remarks...by noting that Germantown ranked 'number one in all levels' on the WKCE test scores out of 50 school districts in southeast Wisconsin."
While we are discussing the area of compensation, I want to take a 'hypothetical' person whom we'll name Jane Doe, and look at her compensation package.
Jane is in her 10th year with the school district. She has a Master's degree with less than 15 hours of added credit. This places her in lane 4 and step 10 of the 'matrix' we discussed yesterday. Assuming that Jane had her Master's degree in the 2006-2007 school year, her base salary would've been $47,937. In the 2007-2008 school year, her base salary was $49,703, an increase of some 3.7% even though there was no new contract settled and, thus, no new pay schedule in place.
I want to shift the focus now to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC as it is commonly known. Following this, we'll look at the WEAC affiliate that delivers health and other insurance coverages.
WEAC is among the state's 800 lb. gorillas so far as labor organizations are concerned. It touts having some 98,000 members. Its history shows a start in 1853, some 8 years after Wisconsin became a state. It became known as WEAC in 1972 following adoption of collective bargaining laws for public employees in Wisconsin.
I'm sure this must come as a great shock to us all.
Today we'll explore the WEAC insurance companies called WEA Insurance Group.
The WEA Insurance Group is composed of five organizations:
WEA Insurance Trust
WEA Insurance Corporation
WEA Tax Sheltered Annuity Trust
WEAC Member Benefit Trust
WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company
Okay, I lied just to get you to look; because, not many people read when I write on this topic...even though it is critically important!
This is really about Wisconsin and its plan to require all small businesses (50 or fewer employees) to have health insurance.
I wrote about 'slippery slopes' back on October 15th. It seems that things have gotten progressively worse since then. We are, if we permit it, deluged with bad news. That can take a real toll on us if we permit.
I know it isn't happening this often, but seemingly I read about another 'intervention' on a daily basis. This morning I learned that you and me have bailed out Citibank with $20 billion of our dollars and more to follow that in the form of protecting that company against some $300 billion of bad investments.
Our political system creates winners and it creates losers. It has done that since there was a political system. It does that no matter the party in power. We are watching the reshuffling of the seats of power in Washington now, and that is a great thing to watch since it did not involve a military coup or the forceful overthrow of one regime in favor of another.
The winners and losers are being resorted as the result of the most recent election. It is interesting to me that I see many of the same faces that I recall seeing over the course of time. They seem to ebb and flow almost like the tides. They may be "out of favor" for awhile and then they're back "in favor". In their cases, there is relatively little difference between the two except that there may be more prestige when they're "in favor". Money always seems to flow in their direction although it can be diminished when they are "in favor" if that means they hold an office in the government of our country.
There is an excellent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning written by Fay Vincent, former baseball commissioner. He discusses his earlier experiences while working in the Securities and Exchange Commission and reviewing the reports of corporate executive perks.
The theatrics we observed during the recent automobile executives' testimony only serves to remind us of the 'classes' that exist in our society. That was very effective as a tool to embarrass the executives, but it played a spotlight on what, to me, is at least as serious a problem as are corporate jets in our present economic situation.
May we each develop and maintain a daily "Attitude of Gratitude".
We are regularly reminded that we are part of a world that has significant threats. Regardless of who backed this group of terrorists, we need to admit...on both sides of our political aisle...that terrorism is very real, that it is and will remain persistent, and that we must go wherever required to thwart it.
The bodies are still being removed from the ten or twelve places that were attacked, but we know that hundreds were slaughtered. Apparently some were slaughtered because they were Americans, some because they were British and some because they were Jews.