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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

Its Not Just Illinois...

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

I thought that Illinois was the only place in the Midwest where the politicians were in bed with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  I was wrong.

Governor Doyle has stealthily slipped a provision deep within his budget that could pave the way for unionizing thousands of individuals who provide care for elderly and disabled clients in their homes across Wisconsin.

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High Speed Rail?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

On what will "high speed" rail travel?  The railway beds and track that we now have will not support the current speeds possible with Amtrak.  How in the world will a high speed train be any different?

A recent article described Governor Doyle's ride over a distance of 340 miles in just over 2.5 hours.  That is a speed of 130 miles per hour or more.

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Housekeeping...

Potpourri

You've probably noted that the blogs on the Community Now site have been a bit erratic over the past several days.  The old server that handled these blogs has been retired and all have been moved to a new server.

That move has been problematic.  I'm sure everyone has been doing their best to resolve all the issues since these blogs attract many readers every day and those readers see advertiser's messages, and advertisers pay for the service provided.

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State Superintendent Race...

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

It would appear that, for the first time in a long time, we'll actually have a race for this post.  The top two vote gatherers were Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez.

Evers, currently a deputy state superintendent and member of the "establishment", had originally filed to receive public funding but has since withdrawn that filing.  He'll receive the very substantial backing of the establishment, called WEAC.

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No Tax Increases For 95% Of Americans?

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

Whoa.  That statement is just plain wrong and I suspect that President Obama knew it when he said it and he certainly knows it today.  If he didn't know it then, he was very poorly advised, and if he doesn't "know" it now, he has chosen to prevaricate.

Let us consider the vaunted "cap and trade" program that will control those dastardly greenhouse gases that promote all this global warming we're experiencing.

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Mortgage Interest Deductions Capped...

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

I realize that I am writing about the 'super rich' and we're all supposed to dislike them immensely by this time, but...

President Obama's 2010 budget calls for itemized deductions, including mortgage interest paid, being capped at 28% for households with $250,000 or more in annual income.  We can, as a country, bail out those who bought too much house at the urging of government through the Community Reinvestment Act, but we'll do so by attacking those who live within their means.

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Paul Harvey - American Icon

Potpourri, Quality of Life

The news that we'd lost Paul Harvey on Saturday brought back many memories.  He was THE voice on the radio almost since I can remember.

People trusted him and advertisers loved him.  He discussed the issues of the day in moderate tones often with a bit of a twist unique to him.  His "Rest of the Story" renditions were almost always surprising, and always uplifting.  I could use a little of that Paul Harvey voice long about now.

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Something's Wrong Here...

Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The Journal Sentinel reported today that a psychiatrist who testified for the state yesterday said that a killer, Alan Randall, who killed two police officers from ambush at the age of 16 should be released from prison.  He opined that Randall is a low safety risk.  However, the psychiatrist, Frederick Fosdal, said that Randall "may need to be watched closely for the rest of his life".  That's a real solid recommendation, huh?

Randall, now fifty years old, has broken the rules while he was being held in the Winnebago Mental Health Institute, and records show that he secretly purchased a home in 2002 while on work release.

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Economic Dichotomy...

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

We have an economic dichotomy in this area.  There are ample signs of an economic slowdown, and, at the same time, there are ample signs of spending continuing.  We have more friends and acquaintances who are out of work now than I recall since the 1980s when we last went through a significant downturn.  Yet, we drive past retail mall settings and see a decided lack of available parking spaces. 

Wal-Mart just posted a 5%+ sales gain and other retailers, while still showing slower than desired sales growth are growing their numbers.  At the same time, some restaurants are having difficulties in attracting traffic while others seem to have very packed parking lots when I drive past.

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Medicare Choices Threatened...

Healthcare, Quality of Life

There is a program called Medicare Advantage that is basic Medicare plus other benefits/services that is as good as or better than Medicare coupled with a Medicare supplement insurance policy and usually at a lesser cost.  It is Medicare offered through for-profit and not-for-profit insurance companies and health maintenance organizations.  This program is now being threatened by cuts already made by the new administration and could be put out of business given the mindset of the new administration.

Approximately 25% of all those on Medicare in Wisconsin today are enrolled in one of these programs, so you can see that they have been very popular.

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Village Buzz - March 6th...

Germantown, Political, Village Board, Village Buzz

Village President Kempinski Hit With Charges of Six Civil Forfeitures... 

The Washington County District Attorney, Todd Martens, is seeking six civil forfeitures against Village President Tom Kempinski.  Each charge carries a fine of $500 and alleges that a false report or statement was filed between January 1st and October 31st, 2007. 

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Village Buzz - March 9th...

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

Term Limits?

I have long debated, with myself or family members mainly, about whether or not term limits are a good thing.  I am having that internal debate again with regard to our village.  I have watched as some of our local leaders over the course of time have seemed to be in tune and in touch throughout lengthy "careers" in public service.  On the other hand, there are examples of those for whom a term or two would've been more than sufficient.

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Power Tools Explained...

Potpourri, Quality of Life

I received these from my son-in-law who is quite skilled with tools, whereas his father-in-law continues to be challenged.  I think this was intended in good humor :-))

Drill Press:  A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching that flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

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More Ethanol?

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

We are still acclimating to the boondoggle that resulted when 10% ethanol was mandated as being included in our gasoline.  We pay more, we get less mileage and the overall wear and tear on the engines remains to be determined.

Now, our friends in Madison and Washington, D.C. are talking about bumping the required minimum content up to 15%.

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Pelosi Is Quite The Elitist

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

Nancy Pelosi is what I would call, "a real piece of work".  Michelle Malkin wrote a piece about Pelosi's use of military aircraft that makes this quite clear to me.

I don't recall that former speakers of the house have demanded military aircraft to transport them about the United States; I do recall that foreign trips were sometimes made aboard these aircraft, but those seemed to be few and far between.  Ms. Pelosi is entitled to a reasonable level of military protection and transportation, as Malkin pointed out, but she is carrying this to an extreme.

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Teacher Merit Pay...

Education, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, U.S., Wisconsin

If this can be made workable on a uniform and well-defined basis, I am absolutely in favor of rewarding those teachers who exceed the requirements.  I've listened to what passes for both sides of the argument, and it seems there are ways in which this could be accomplished without creating a subterfuge where all students suddenly become "above average" as was the case in the fabled Lake Wobegone.

On the other hand, I think there also needs to be a mechanism for identifying and dealing with those teachers who do not measure up.  When I listen to teachers, it seems that many feel they are burdened by carrying those who simply, for whatever reason, do not carry their own load.  The true professionals have no time for those who should've never been licensed, or for those who have somehow lost sight of the goal of the professional teacher.

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Prevailing Wage?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Governor Doyle has offered up a contribution to the labor groups that have perennially supported his candidacy for office.   It is a little thing called the prevailing wage requirement for any project undertaken in Wisconsin that uses public funding.

Public funding is not defined so that could mean anything from a tax break to a funding contribution to a grant of some kind.  It could include something as innocuous as sewer work required leading to the site without definitions limiting the use.  Would that then subject the entire project to the "prevailing wage" mandate?

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Village Buzz - March 13th...

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

Disappointment On Several Levels...

Judge Andrew Gonring signed a stipulation yesterday that found Tom Kempinski guilty of six violations of the state campaign finance laws.  Kempinski will pay a total of $4,518 in fines and court costs, and file amended reports.

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Where Are All The Cuts?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

We have heard the governor tell us that this budget is packed with cuts to this, that and the other but that seems a bit inconsistent with the reality.

The governor's budget increases our state's spending by 9.8%.  If there were so many cuts in recognition of the tough economic times in which we find ourselves, wouldn't there have been decreases in our state's spending?

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Village Buzz - March 16th...

Germantown, Political, Village Board, Village Buzz

The Village Buzz of March 13th indicated that any responses from any of those involved would be included in an upcoming blog.  I have received a response from Jim Langer and that follows:

~~~~~~~~~~

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Quite Conservative "Humor"...

Potpourri

Take this as fair warning; my biased approach to sick humor follows:

An elderly local businessman suffered a massive heart attack at his home in the country.  His family drove wildly to get him to the Emergency Room.

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We Are Hypocrites...

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

We are hypocrites.  As I watch the battle for government largess (our tax dollars, of course), I am struck by that simple fact.

If we get some of the pork being doled out, we think it is great.  If we're passed over, we lament the sad state of our nation.  So long as we get "our share", the taking from some and giving to others appears to be okay.  So long as we are net receivers rather than net givers, it seems to be okay.

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Ethanol Damage To Engines?

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

As the undercurrent regarding higher levels of ethanol being mandated continued, the Wall Street Journal editorialized about the potential for damage to vehicles burning 15% or 20% ethanol.  That editorial referenced that only a small fraction of the current 'fleet' of some 240 million autos and trucks could burn anything higher than 10% ethanol without the risk of serious damage.

The ethanol 'industry', of course, is pushing for higher percentages of its product per gallon since gasoline use has tailed off nearly 9% over the past two years.  Congress has mandated that we'll burn 36 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2022, and next year we'll be tasked to consume 13 billion gallons.

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Health Care For Veterans...

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

It is nothing short of amazing that our president would think about, much less explore, abdicating the United States' veterans healthcare obligations.

President Obama is supposedly seriously considering just such a move and had the chutzpah to let that be known and printed.  If he was looking for a lightning rod issue to hide some of his other agenda items, he may well have found it.  If this is, instead, a serious proposal, he needs to be reminded that he has been protected by those same veterans, and that our country has a never-ending contract with each and every veteran in that regard.

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Village Buzz - March 18th...

Germantown, Quality of Life, Village Buzz

Open E-Letter to Flag Flyers...

I note that the flags being flown outside each of the following entities' locations in Germantown need to be replaced given the high winds and the tearing and fraying damages that have been suffered:

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Cap & Trade Cost Increase...

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

We were recently told that President Obama would mandate a Cap & Trade bill that would create a mechanism for controlling the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that would be emitted into the atmosphere by U. S.-based businesses.  At the time of that announcement, we were also advised that the financial impact would likely be in the range of $1,500 per year for the average household in the country.

Cap & Trade refers to a system whereby the government would decide the maximum amount of carbon dioxide that would be permissible by each emitter.  If an emitter had less emission, it could sell its unused balance to another emitter through a trading arrangement.  This is, at its essence, a new tax scheme designed to make us think that it will make our atmosphere better.  That is almost an impossibility given that we're the sole country to think this is a good idea, and it is of questionable merit simply because we don't know as much about this as we're led to believe by government.

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There's A Difference Between Criminals & Enemy Combatants...

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

We learned a few days ago that President Obama had adopted the approach that former-President Bill Clinton used when dealing with terrorist activity in our country.  Obama  indicated that his Administration would no longer use the term "enemy combatant".  This was in keeping with his decision, or apparent decision, to close Guantanamo within the next year.

The Clinton Administration always considered any terrorist activity in this country to be simply that of criminals and that our legal system was capable of dealing with these people.  We watched that play out with the first World Trade Center bombings in the early-1990s.  People were arrested and they were sentenced to serve time in prison for the "crime" committed.

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Main Street Wisconsin

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

I read an opinion piece this morning penned by Ed Lump who is the head of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, and that got me thinking about Wisconsin's hospitality for its small businesses.  Lump's take was that the members of his association are struggling.

Small businesses are feeling the impact of reduced consumer spending as the recession deepens and as unemployment rises (now at 8.8% in Wisconsin).  On top of this, the state has begun the process of raising the minimum wage to $7.60 per hour.  That pay rate would escalate with inflation year over year, as well.  Milwaukee has now been forced to require that employers provide up to nine days of paid sick leave thanks to the 9-5 union-driven signature gathering effort. 

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Village Buzz - March 20th...

Germantown, Potpourri, Quality of Life, Village Buzz

CONGRATULATIONS WARHAWKS!!!

The second year in a row with a visit to the Kohl Center and a season of 21 victories and 3 defeats.  Coach Showalter and every team member and staff member have a right to be very proud of their accomplishments.  These things only come with dedication and tenacity, and this team had plenty of both.

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Random Week-End Thoughts...

Economy, Germantown, Potpourri, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

It is great to see Spring arrive on both the calendar and in reality.  Shoots have been poking their greenery up above ground for a couple of weeks.  Ducks and geese are pairing and searching for nesting sites.  Birds are singing their little hearts out seeking the mate with whom they'll nest to recreate as their inner drives command.  The squirrels are busy once again with whatever it is that squirrels do this time of year; it all seems wasted motion to me, but I'm sure there is a plan in there somewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~

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Year-round School?

Education, Political, Quality of Life

The Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent has indicated that he may favor year-round schools as part of the solution for poorly-performing students.  There are many things that come to mind, but, initially, I'd simply have to wonder if this is a solution if parents of those poorly-performing students don't buy into the importance of education today.  What's going to change in the current equation other than getting more teacher time with each student (who attends) before they simply drop out, thus continuing the roughly 50% rate of graduation in that system?

Beyond this, I began wondering about just what would happen with year-round education?

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Global Warming Becoming "Official"?

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

President Barack Obama has appointed, as you may recall, Carol Browner as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  It was expected that she would continue her past patterns as an activist environmentalist.

We need have had no concerns about her activist bent.  She has already decided that greenhouse gases need to be brought under control.  She has proposed to the White House that a "threat declaration" be issued which would begin the process by stating that global warming is a threat to public health and welfare.  This is the first step toward regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the already existing "Clean Air Act".  That would, obviously, give credence to the White House move to create a "Cap and Trade" marketplace that would ostensibly help diminish this issue (while collecting tremendous amounts of new tax dollars).

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Village Buzz - March 25th...

Education, Germantown, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Village Buzz

I have received some details concerning the Germantown Education Association's negotiations with the Germantown School Board that give a better overview of that process.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Council (WERC) has declared an impasse in the negotiations.  The school board voted 7-0 on Monday evening to go the route of a Qualified Economic Offer (QEO).  So, the state law limiting the total amount awarded to a 3.8% increase is now in place.

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A Boring Subject...

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

The move toward taxing our use of fossil fuels, generically called "cap and trade", is a bit boring, but nonetheless important.

The cap and trade "thing" would see the government establishing the amounts of carbon dioxide that were permissable to be discharged for each company.  That company could sell the amount it didn't discharge and another company could buy the rights to that additional amount so as to avoid a penalty from the government.

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Our Ship Has Come In...

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

Great news!

Our ship has come in; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) tax credit will begin to appear in April according to a press release by Governor Doyle.

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Political Solutions Are Just That

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

We have had, unfortunately, a front-row seat in the arena of politics as the "giants" worked their magic to supposedly heal the problems of our country and of our state.

Political solutions are not always practical, proper or even workable.  They are always political.  It has been established that politics is a "blood sport", and politicians wade into that arena proudly.  We mere mortals sit on the sidelines as our earthly destiny is determined by a process that most of us recognize is problematic.

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GM Chairman Fired!

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

The CEO of General Motors, Rick Wagoner was fired over the week-end. I know that the press said he resigned, but he was really fired and given the graceful exit tool of a resignation.

Did the Board of Directors of GM finally pull the plug on the CEO?  No.  He was fired by President Barack Obama.

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What's The State Superintendent Position Worth?

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The totals spent by WEAC on behalf of Tony Evers, current Deputy State Superintendent and their pick for the state superintendent's position on next Tuesday's ballot, have been made public.

It appears that Rose Fernandez has WEAC and the Department of Public Instruction loyalists quite concerned since WEAC has spent a total of $573,618 so far on this race.

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