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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

Pieces Of Paper Aren't Defense Instruments...

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

Pieces of paper do not work well to defend a person from another or several others.  Even with the power of the courts behind the piece of paper, the holder is forced to rely upon the good or less-than-good intentions of the restrainee.

Restraining orders are typically employed in situations that stem from an intense emotional base; divorces, perceived wrongs, and so on.  Restraining orders threaten some kind of judicial action in the event that the restrainee fails to observe the order.  They often will specify a certain minimum distance of physical separation, be that 1,000 feet or one mile or an entire community.

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1/10th Of 1% Doesn't Sound Like Much...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

A brief article appeared in the Journal Sentinel this morning discussing the money received by the Miller Park stadium district from its share of the five-county sales tax collections.  We've always heard about that expressed as 1/10th of 1%, and that makes the tax seem smaller, at least to me as I briefly process the sentence that I read.

After all, that is only a penny for every $10 spent in the five county area set aside to pay for Miller Park.  I was, by the way, not opposed to that cost sharing just to set the record straight.

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Communities Are Fragile...

Economy, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board

Communities are fragile.  They are interdependent on so many disparate pieces as to be capable of being degraded quickly.  Maybe we can learn something from this morning's General Motors announcement concerning Janesville.

General Motors is closing the Janesville GM plant and that will put something in the range of 2,600 to 2,800 employees out of work.  This could happen as late as 2010 or as soon as next week, dependent only upon the marketplace.  There have already been over 2,000 jobs lost simply as the result of GM's slowdown in production.  This announcement will, unfortunately, cause many, many more announcements over the next months.

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UW Tuition To Rise By 5.5%...

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The UW Board of Regents decided that tuition had to go up 5.5% for students at the four-year universities.  They laid the blame in large part (3% of the 5.5%) at the feet of the legislature that mandated free tuition for veterans.  There are some 3,200 veterans now registered as students under this program; the program was originally intended to pay 50% of the tuition and that was raised to 100% last fall.

The UW and the legislature have been at odds for a long time.  This is likely just the next salvo to be fired in this long battle.

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Loans Cut For MATC Students...

Education, Germantown, MATC, Political, Taxes, Wisconsin

MATC students along with all technical college and two-year college students in Wisconsin have a more difficult time gaining their education as the result of lenders leaving this marketplace.

MATC has nearly 5,300 students now at risk due to the fact that several lenders have decided to pull out of this market stating that it is unprofitable.  That supposedly is caused by too little money being borrowed for too short a time.

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Wisconsin's Biggest Growth Segment?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by about 1% in 2007, half the rate of growth of the nation as a whole.  But one sector continues its dominant position as the leading growth segment in our state: government seems to be our biggest growth segment.

State government and related institutions continue to grow at significantly greater rates than the GDP.  Might our GDP have risen more than 1% if the state's business climate were better than it is?  I believe the answer to that rhetorical question is a resounding YES!

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Last Two Standing...

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

We have, it appears, survived the presidential primary campaign season. 

During this season just passed, we witnessed the significant defeat of the Clintons.  Yes, of both Clintons, not just Hillary.  There is no 'just Hillary'.  With her comes the other, Bill.  With her comes the remembrances of all that was the Clintonian presidency; the innuendo, the smears, the lost billing records, the huge trading gains, the eleventh-hour pardons and on and on and on.  It wasn't a significant defeat in terms of numbers of votes, but it was significant in terms of the name and the legacy.

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MATC Secession Discussion...

Education, Germantown, MATC, Political, School Board, Taxes, Village Board, Wisconsin

The move toward filing the documents necessary to seek secession from the Milwaukee Area Technical College tax district has begun to draw some debate amongst the politicos in Germantown.

Village President Kempinski has been quoted as being concerned with the seemingly slow movement in this process, and School Board President Erdmann says that we shouldn't worry because it is being taken up in July for ultimate filing in August.

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Assembly 'Debate'...Chapter One

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

Two candidates have declared, so far, for the Assembly 24th district seat being vacated by Sue Jeskewitz.  They are Republicans Randy Melchert and Jason LaSage.  I continue to hear that there will be other candidates declaring between now and the deadline on July 8th, however we want to begin the Assembly 'Debate' so as to help voters learn as much as possible about the candidates.  I have posed much the same questions to both candidates as were discussed in the Senate "Debate' series.

The initial question was this:  If you were to introduce yourself to a roomful of voters, what would you tell them of yourself?

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State Global Warming Task Force?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

Are we being a bit presumptuous by having a Wisconsin global warming task force?  There is no solid scientific evidence of anything other than what our earth has always gone through.  Our emotions are being played "like a fiddle" with pictures of polar bears drowning when, in fact, the pictures were of nothing of the sort, and the fact that there are twice the number of polar bears today as were on this earth 40 years ago.  The Great Lakes were drying up at an alarming rate and today we don't know what to do with all the water that fell on us.

We are reduced to blaming both hot weather and cold weather on global warming.  We are reduced to blaming both drought and flooding on global warming.  We either have more hurricanes or fewer hurricanes, but both those phenomenons are caused by global warming.  We just had one of the greatest snow falls in any winter on record, but it is caused by global warming.

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Judge The Judge?

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

We are all too aware of the 'fabled' 9th U.S. Court of Appeals found in San Francisco.  This is the single most liberal-leaning court in the federal system and can be counted on for ground-breaking decisions that often run counter to the mainstream.

Now, we're being given the opportunity to make our own judgments about the chief judge of that court, a gentleman by the name of Alex Kozinski.  By all accounts, the judge has had a storied career.  He was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan and was considered as a possible Supreme Court nominee by then President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and 1991 according to an Associated Press story that ran in the morning Journal Sentinel.

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Three Equal Branches Of Government...

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

Our country was founded with three equal branches of government: the judicial branch, the legislative branch and the executive branch.  The Constitution granted certain privileges to each branch and was careful to separate those duties as the country's founders saw fit.

That effort by our country's founders was overthrown yesterday when the Supreme Court usurped the powers of both the legislative and the executive branches.  The swing vote, as has become the norm in this court's decisions, was Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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Fathers Day 2008...

Quality of Life, U.S.

When I grew up almost everyone had a father living at home.  There were a few who had lost a father to illness or war or, sometimes, divorce.  But most everybody had a dad.  Our dads came in a variety of styles and flavors; some were very involved in the lives of their children; some were working two jobs to make ends meet and were not always home as the result.  But, most everybody had a dad.  We'd complain about our dads making us do this or that, but we had a dad.  I worked on paper routes when I was old enough to become a 'carrier'.  I peddled my bike all over Viroqua, WI delivering papers and collecting the weekly 35 cents that the paper cost in those days.  On the rare occasion when Dad thought the weather too tough, he'd get the car and drive me on my route.  That happened very seldom, but I still remember those times.

I learned a lot from my Dad.  The thing that surprises me the most is that I learned a lot that I didn't know I was learning.  He taught me that you always did what you said you would do.  He taught me that things weren't always going to be easy, but that we had to persevere in spite of the obstacles we encountered.  He wasn't perfect; none of us dads are.  But he taught me much even through my observations of his imperfections.

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Obama The Inevitable?

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

The mainstream media has taken up the fight now that Hillary and Barack have gotten their 'thing' settled; at least until the gathering in Denver. 

The learned political scientists on our college campuses have nearly unanimously opined that Obama is incapable of being defeated.  They have preordained that this election will be among the most lopsided victories for the left that we have witnessed in the entire history of our country.  Polls show Obama up by double digits over McCain.  It is all over but for the voting.

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Assembly 'Debate'...Chapter Two

Economy, Germantown, Political, Taxes, Wisconsin

The question for today in our 'debate' between candidates LaSage and Melchert is this:

What specific existing state programs can be cut to stop the ongoing issues of budget shortfalls?

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Say It Ain't So...Updated Edition

Economy, Germantown, Quality of Life, Taxes, Village Board

Barley Pop Pub closing?  Say it ain't so! 

I had the opportunity to get clarification on the story below from the Village Clerk several hours after posting the blog below.  She advised that the license for the Barley Pop Pub had been renewed earlier this month along with all the other establishments' licenses.  The issue concerning taxes owed must be resolved by the owners not later than June 30th according to Village Ordinance to prevent the loss of the current license.  Any establishment that has a liquor license must remain in good standing so far as building codes, taxes and fees and so on in order to avoid the suspension or loss of the license.  Village officials are powerless to make any concessions since the ordinance governs the situation.  Discussion did occur on the subject of amending the ordinance, however that did not result in any action being taken. 

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Generic 'Mission Statement'...


I have seen this 'mission statement' advertised in the form of a plaque for a long time.  I always seem to get a laugh from it, and thought it only right that I share this with you.

Please feel free to provide your recommendations as to what organization might be able to adopt this generic version:

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State Senate 'Debate'...Chapter Four

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

In keeping with the protocol we have established, we'll lead with the response of Senator Darling to each question in this chapter.

 * * * * * * * * * *

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Normal, Fair & Well-Prepared...

Potpourri, Quality of Life, U.S.

Unless you've been on a deserted island, I imagine you know that Tim Russert died a few days ago.

I didn't watch his 'Meet The Press' show often, but when I did I was always impressed with how well he did interviewing a wide mix of guests.  The discussions about him, following the news that he had died, seemed to center on the words in the lead-in to this Blog.

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Direct Legislation?

Germantown, Political, Village Board, Wisconsin

The morning Journal Sentinel talks about a petition being presented to the Milwaukee Common Council today that would require all Milwaukee private employers to provide paid sick days.  Employers with ten or fewer employees would be required to provide 1 hour for every 30 hours worked to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per year.  Employers with more than ten employees would be required to provide 1 hour for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 72 hours per year.  Unused sick days would roll over from year to year.

This petition has been pushed by "labor, educational and community organizations" according to the article with the lead organization being 9 to 5, the National Association of Working Women.  It uses a state statute that provides for what is known as 'direct legislation', and requires the petitioner to present petitions signed by 15% of the total residents of the city or village involved that voted for governor in the most recent election.

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Germantown Exit Interviews...

Fire Department, Germantown, Political, Village Board

There are apparently some rules regarding the conduct of exit interviews when an employee (or volunteer in the case of firefighters/EMTs) leaves the position.  Those don't always occur and, in some cases, could become an adversarial encounter depending upon circumstances involved.

Trustee Jim Langer has, I think, an excellent idea and that is requiring exit interviews and requiring that those be done by the human resource director.

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Changing Health Care Scene...

Healthcare, Potpourri, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

I've written about the consolidation of local health care organizations over the past months.  In preparing for a talk I delivered to an insurance agent's organization last month, I dug a little deeper to see what the trends seemed to be for the future.

There are some very interesting things happening to and with health care delivery and these things are, in part, already on or affecting the local scene.

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MATC...Iceberg In Search Of A Ship

Education, Germantown, MATC, Political, School Board, Taxes, Village Board, Wisconsin

MATC has now ended the suspense.  Whew!  It has officially increased its tax take by the 4.9% that it miraculously managed to get down to from the original 'straw man' of 6.4%.  This codifies the fact that MATC's appetite for tax dollars has risen by some 30% over the past five years.  MATC's leadership, if it can be called that without demeaning the word, just can't seem to understand that, while it is impervious to the wants and needs of the citizenry it serves, it really has permitted its reach to exceed our grasp.

MATC strikes me as an iceberg looking for a ship to sink.  It is floating along with the tip showing while the bulk of the 'bloat' lies just under the waterline, out of sight and, too often, out of mind.  Until it hits the ship of taxpayers yet again.  The taxpayers on this 'ship of fools' have finally come to understand, at least in Germantown, that they would be better-served if they were permitted to disembark from the current ship that continues to be victimized by the MATC iceberg...year after year after year after year!

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Village Buzz - June 27th

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

This marks the first of a new class of Blogs that will be labeled 'Village Buzz'.  We'll discuss things that are gathered from what I consider to be reliable sources.  I'll sometimes share the source' names and other times will avoid doing so for obvious reasons.

Barley Pop Update...

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Village Buzz - June 29th

Germantown, Quality of Life, Village Board, Village Buzz

Former Village President, Charlie Hargan, responded in a comment to the Village Buzz published on Friday with this:

"The trees on Mequon Road in front of Pick 'n Save were diseased and will be replaced in the same locations. The trees in front of Sendik's were healthy ash trees that, as you indicated, had the misfortune to be in front of Sendik's over-sized sign. Sendik's asked Pres. Kempinski to have them removed, who told Adm. Schornack to have them removed, who told the Village Parks & Grounds Sup. to remove them. These were planted in accordance with the Village Street Tree Program, part of the reason we were voted as a Tree City USA community, and the only authorization for this had to come from the Village Board, after a recommendation from the Public Works Committee. It was never brought in front of either of them. They should be replaced in the same location. I think Sendik's will be a great asset to the Village but the trees were also and they were "grandfathered in" (here first)."

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The More, The Merrier...

County Board, Germantown, Political, Taxes, Wisconsin

The latest count on the race to replace Sue Jeskewitz is now standing at five.  Randy Melchert (R) and Jason LaSage (R) have been involved in our Assembly "Debate" series as you know.

The additional filed candidates are:

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