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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

A Few Democrats Are Blocking Voter ID...

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

Statewide polls show that us citizens favor a voter ID requirement by margins of from 65% to as high as 72% depending upon which polls you wish to believe.  There has been a proposed amendment making its way through the two votes by the Senate and by the Assembly that will permit such a constitutional amendment to be added in Wisconsin.  That has now been approved by the Assembly twice and by the Senate once.  It needs Senate approval during the remaining days of this session which is set to end on March 13th.

You have probably heard about the current voter ID dust-up in Madison.  The Senate is, of course, controlled by the Democrats.  Sen Fred Risser, a Democrat from the Madison area is currently the Senate President.  He blocked a request for consideration of this amendment for the second and final time a couple of days ago.  Republicans sought his approval to bring this question for final debate and voting, and he quickly recognized a motion for adjournment, gaveled the session closed and stole away while being bombarded with boos and whistles.  Those were coming from not just the Republicans but also from some Democrats.

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Spitzer's Trail Of Carnage...

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

Eliot Spitzer was the New York State Attorney General before he became Governor of that state.  Spitzer has the well-deserved reputation as a 'pit bull'.  The Wall Street Journal editors brought up his trail of carnage (my term) today discussing what he did to major organizations in America with his 'pit bull' style of threatening companies with enough damage to cause them to 'voluntarily' do as he directed they do. He made himself the investigator, the accuser, the judge and the jury.

The two companies mentioned this morning are AIG, the world's largest insurance organization, at least at that time, and Marsh & McLennan, a leading U.S. insurance brokerage organization.  Spitzer's threats caused both companies to fire their Chairmen.  Both companies have been on a downhill slide ever since costing shareholders huge sums of money in retirement funds, stock portfolios and so forth.  Many of these investors are you and me, whether or not we know it.

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New Elementary School Or No New Elementary School?

Education, Germantown, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

The question posed above is that which we will see on the April 1st ballots in the Germantown School District.  The District obviously encompasses more than just the Village of Germantown.

We have come to expect an almost constant preprogrammed reaction against proposed school building referenda issues and probably for good reason in many instances.  There has been over-reaching to be found in more than one referendum across the state, and each of those instances affects every other referendum issue to follow.  Taxpayers are being made to pay more and more virtually every year and there is the feeling that 'enough is enough' prevailing in our society.

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Agility Tests For Firefighters Killed Until 2009 Or Later...

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board

The Germantown Police and Fire Commission has apparently reversed its earlier decision on the subject of Candidate Physical Agility Tests according to an article in GermantownNow yesterday.  This, according to Village President Tom Kempinski was caused by the lack of funding in the current budget.  Trustee William Seitz was also quoted as questioning the need for the new test, and apparently said that this new test could cause interested applicants to decide against applying. 

The test, commonly referred to as the CPAT, has a cost in the range of $45 to $100 per candidate and that is dependent upon where the test is administered.  Up to this point, the Germantown Fire Department has been administering its own test for candidates desiring to become firefighters.  That was done without a budget line item and was therefore deemed to cost nothing since the people administering the tests would've been on site anyway.  The locally administered test is lacking compared to the CPAT that you'll see described below. 

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Troha Case Sentence Is Troubling...

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller handed down his sentence of Kenosha trucking magnate Dennis Troha yesterday, and his reasoning leaves me in wonder.  You can find the full article at JSOnline.

The upshot is this:  Judge Stadtmueller gave Troha probation even though federal sentencing guidelines called for 10 to 16 months.  The charges involved illegal campaign contributions of some $60,000 to the campaign fund of Rep. Paul Ryan (who has since given all that money to charities), and some $100,000 to Governor Doyle's campaign fund (whose aides say that he'll rid himself of this money if any of it was found to be illegal).  On that point, let us see just how long it now will take the good Governor to get rid of that money and to which entities it will go.  Never mind, I guess, that Troha had already entered his guilty plea some time ago; and, that this would be seen in most all circles as to connote that the money was illegally given.  We certainly wouldn't want to rush the Governor into parting with ill-gotten funds, now would we?

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State Senate Race Series Begins...

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The race for State Senate between the incumbent, Alberta Darling (R), and the challenger, Sheldon Wasserman (D), is nearing its conclusion.  Is it just me, or has this race become subdued to the point that we hear little to nothing about it?  We were treated to the door-to-door campaign of Rep. Wasserman and we have seen the press releases offered and listening sessions offered by Sen. Darling, but, beyond that, this race seems to have gone into dormancy.

With the cooperation of each candidate, which has been pledged, we'll see if we can cast the spotlight on their respective positions on various issues as we move toward the April 1st decision date.  We have some idea based upon the voting records of each even though Rep. Wasserman has voted in the Assembly while Sen. Darling has voted in the Senate.

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Love Is...

Potpourri, Quality of Life

This is admittedly not very 'curmudgeonly', but it hit my e-mail in-box and seemed something to share...since I know a person who does something very similar with his wife.

'It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.  He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00AM.  I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.  I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

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Spitzer Appears To Be Caught In His Own Trail Of Carnage...

Political, Potpourri, U.S., Wisconsin

A short week ago I wrote about Eliot Spitzer and the havoc that he had wrought as the Attorney General of the State of New York.  I referred to the 'trail of carnage' that he had left behind in his quest for higher office.

Yesterday the press reported about his apparent involvement in a prostitution ring, and we witnessed his non-apology apology delivered in front of his weary and saddened wife.  Eliot Spitzer appears to have been caught up in his own 'trail of carnage' as has his wife and their three daughters.  He will likely be forced from office in disgrace; he could be indicted on federal charges since the prostitute traveled across state lines to meet him in his Washington, D.C. hotel room where he registered in the name of one of his friends.

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Prohibition Continues To Haunt Us...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Prohibition continues to have effects upon us Wisconsin citizens after lo these many years.  It did accomplish, or help to accomplish, some good things.  The story has it that modern NASCAR was spawned by the old time 'moonshine' bootleggers who learned to race their vehicles while out-running the 'revenuers'.

It also was the genesis for the laws in Wisconsin that require that virtually all alcoholic beverages go from brewery, winery or distillery to wholesalers to retailers.  We've talked about lobbyists and the clout they carry over legislation in our state.  One of the most effective lobbying efforts in Wisconsin is that of the Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute.

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Supreme Court Race Outcome Is Critical...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

I last wrote about this race in December of last year.  At that time, there were three candidates.  The primary elections reduced that number to two candidates.  Those two are the appointed incumbent, Justice Louis Butler and the challenger, Circuit Judge Michael Gableman.

We have a choice: Justice Butler is liberal and Judge Gableman is conservative.  Their court decisions have been and will be cast against that backdrop even though each will, as both maintain individually, consider the facts of each case.  I do not believe that one can eliminate one's biases by turning the belief system on or off, whether that is good or not good.

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Different States, Different Approaches, & Different Results...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The two states I reference are Texas and Wisconsin.  Admittedly, the states are quite different in size and, certainly, climate.  The economies of the two states differ as well.  We most recently heard about the Bowling organization consolidation to a campus in suburban Dallas that has cost the Milwaukee area some $12 Million in annual salaries that will no longer be infused into the system. 

In spite of a pitiful piece in the morning Journal Sentinel bragging about the fact that we still have an abundance of National Associations headquartered here, we lost that one and we lost it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the tax load in our state.  We have also lost corporate headquarters and likely will see more such erosion.  Maybe it is time for our heads to be extracted from the sand so that we might deal with the real issues.

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Nothing Is Forever...Especially In Banking It Seems...

Economy, Potpourri, Wisconsin

It was the St. Francis Bank when I moved my account there, and that lasted a few years.  It then became the MidAmerica Bank, following a purchase, and remained that for some three years as I recall.  It is now the National City Bank, after one of the smoothest transitions of a business takeover that I've ever seen or experienced.  Those folks know how to do a bank take-over!

Now, a few weeks after National City Bank became visible in the Milwaukee area, banking in general has hit a wall.  A major investment bank, Bear Stearns, was 'saved' yesterday and will be bought (bailed out) by another or several others at dirt cheap prices in the very near future.  The stock market reacted.  Amidst all this turmoil is the fact that National City Bank is for sale.  Its stock has dropped 20% of its value since January 1st.  It has fallen in value by more than 60% in the past year.  The credit crunch has taken its toll.  It lost some $333 Million in the fourth quarter of 2007 and is expected to report additional losses when it posts its first quarter 2008 results next month.

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What Happened To The Easter Bunny?

Germantown, Potpourri, Village Board

There was, I thought, supposed to have been the 14th Annual Easter Egg Hunt yesterday at Firemen's Park in Germantown unless precluded by 'inclement weather'.  I don't think that hunt happened and I know the weather was beautiful...well at least not inclement...and I didn't see any announcement nor were there, I'm told, any cancellation signs posted, people there to explain, etc.

There may have been a very good reason for the non-hunt, but we've heard nothing about it.  How many youngsters were there and disappointed?  Whose responsibility was this?  The  Rec Department head?  Someone designated to be the project leader?  The Village Board member that chairs the appropriate committee?  Who?

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Assembly & Senate Finished Except For Budget Repair...

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

This is one of the periods that are often joked about by the citizenry.  With no sessions being conducted in Madison, we all can feel a little less threatened.  The major snag in that logic at the moment is that both houses will continue to debate the budget repair needs given the anticipated revenue shortfall of some $650 Million.  I have discussed the primary differences between the Governor and his Democrats and the Republicans often in past Blogs. 

What got done and what didn't get done during the session now ended?

    • We are still without a photo ID law to assure that only Wisconsin citizens who are entitled to vote are voting.
      • Thank the Democrats for blocking this necessary legislation again.
    • Our elected officials at the State level continue to enjoy the largess of Sick Leave accumulation.
      • Thank the Democrats for continuing this little 'cookie jar' benefit at our expense.
    • Cell phones are not part of the do-not-call list in Wisconsin.
      • Thank the Republicans for mysteriously not taking this up in the Assembly.
    • Economic development proposed by Governor Doyle was killed.
      • Thank his fellow Democrats in the Senate for this being killed because it supposedly cost too much.
    • The gun database still does not carry information about involuntary mental health commitments.
      • Thank the Senate Democrats for killing this common sense initiative; maybe they want to simply ban all guns.
    • Psychological examinations for new full-time police officers still not a requirement.
      • Thank the Republican Assembly for not even debating this change even though it makes sense.
    • Property rights won a victory over the anti-smoking groups.
      • Thank both the Assembly and Senate for not giving away our personal rights and for letting merchants decide if they will be smoke-free.
    • Virtual schools will be permitted to exist after heated arguments for and against.
      • Thank both the Assembly and Senate for reaching a compromise that Governor Doyle dared not kill off even though his WEAC money machine dearly wanted this dead.
    • The 'Frankenstein Veto' provision will be put to the citizens as a proposed Constitutional Amendment.
      • Thank the Democrat-controlled Senate for finally agreeing to let this pass after the Assembly gave it bipartisan support.
    • Healthy Wisconsin was defeated.
      • This is a great victory of common sense over politics thanks to all elected officials who voted against it, and that is primarily the Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate.

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Tax Rebate Payments Scheduled...

Economy, Political, Taxes, U.S.

The economic stimulus payments, or tax rebate if you prefer, will be made to recipients on a schedule that involves the last two digits of the social security number.  In order to receive this rebate, individuals must have filed a tax return and have a valid social security number.  Those filing joint returns will be sorted for distribution by the name and number appearing first on the tax return.

The IRS has indicated that payments will begin with social security numbers ending in '00' and will end with numbers ending in '99'.  Numeric discrimination if I've ever seen it!  But I end up in the first group, so I guess it's okay after all :>)

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Barack Obama...Speaker, Candidate & President

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

Obama the speaker...

Barack Obama is among the very best speakers I've heard.  His delivery is excellent.  His turn of phrase is excellent.  His pace is perfect.  His audience contact is solid.  He appears genuine when he talks.

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For Men...And The Women And Children Who Love Them

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

The New England Journal of Medicine, yesterday, published results of a study on prostate cancer and the various treatment regimens employed.  I selected this as today's topic since I'm a man, I've had friends who've died from the disease, I have friends who now have the disease, I'm in the target age group and fully one in six males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and the number two killer second only to lung cancer according to the American Cancer Society.  It is predicted that there will be some 186,000 diagnoses this year and some 28,700 deaths are expected from the disease.

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'They' Are Simply Beyond Hope...

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

Who are 'They'?

'They' are the Democrats in the state Senate.  'They' have just passed 'their' version of the state budget repair bill out of committee and it now faces a vote in the full Senate.  The full Senate has a majority of Democrats.  Do we even think there is a chance that the committee's version will not be passed.  No.  That is what we might call "a foregone conclusion".  I'd love to have to print a retraction of this Blog.  Go ahead Dems, make me eat these words!  Please!

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A Very Early Easter...

Potpourri

Easter seems very early this year from a 'calendar' perspective, and apparently it is.  One look out the window would certainly suggest that it is quite early...or that Winter is quite extended...or both.

The last time Easter came this early on our calendars was in 1913.  Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox according to the lunar calendar which is used by the Hebrews to identify the Passover.  That explains why Easter moves around on our calendar, the Roman calendar.

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Constitutional Amendment Question On April 1st...

Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin legislature has passed the language concerning the so called "Frankenstein Veto" that has been used by governors to cobble together words and letters and numbers from more than a single sentence.  This practice is permissible today and was used by Governor Doyle most recently to create something that hadn't been passed by the legislature. 

The actual language that we'll find on the ballot on Tuesday, April 1st was published in today's Journal Sentinel.  The question is stated thusly:

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Village Employee Wellness Plan (Updated)...

Germantown, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Village Board

The morning Journal Sentinel carried a brief story about Germantown being in the process of considering the approval of a $20,000 employee wellness program.  The General Government & Finance Committee meets tonight at 7:00PM in the Village Hall Board Room and is scheduled to consider this as part of that agenda.

Wellness programs have been with us for some time now, and are quite common in the private sector.  Many are preceded by a Health Risk Assessment as is apparently the case here in Germantown.

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"Wisconsin Bar Brawl"...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The title and the following are virtually-exact reproductions of the Wall Street Journal's editorial from Monday, March 24th.  One error was corrected; the editorial discussed a "5-4" majority when in fact, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is comprised of seven justices, so a majority would be "4-3".

"When Wisconsin voters go to the polls this April Fool's day, the state Supreme Court may realize the joke's on them.  After four years of judicial activism, one of the court's most liberal members, Justice Louis Butler, is up for re-election - and voters get to send a message about what they expect from their judges.

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Questionable Facts vs. Real Facts...

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

An organization that has been very active in the push for national health care is at it again.  Families USA recently provided a series of Press Releases that heralded the number of deaths per state that could be blamed on a lack of health insurance.  Wisconsin's estimate was 250 deaths per year.  This is the same group that was instrumental in 'creating' 47 million uninsured people in the United States.  That has been repeated often enough so as to have become thought of as a "fact".  The real numbers are closer to 10 million as I've discussed before, but bigger numbers help raise awareness faster.  So let us not be constrained by facts.  Let us simply create the facts we desire.

Rep. Steve Kagen (D), congressional representative from the Appleton area, couldn't help but jump on this latest bandwagon just as he had jumped aboard the first.  He participated in a teleconference on this subject and opined that there were between 59,000 and 89,000 uninsured in his district.  I have no idea of how he came to this conclusion; and, it is possible that he has no idea how he reached that conclusion either. 

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Nasty Turn For G'town Politics...

Germantown, Political, Village Board

I received a postcard yesterday telling me much that someone thought was wrong with Mel Ewert, one of the gentlemen who represent me as Trustees on the Village Board.  My first thought was that this was one of those relatively new creatures in politics that don't have to divulge their funding sources and which can publish advertisements against candidates.

That is bad enough in my opinion since anyone has the right to make their beliefs known, but to do so behind the 'skirts' of an anonymous organization makes this much, much worse.  Laws permit such advertising and we've seen a ton of it in the state Supreme Court race.

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Political Undercurrent Is Strong...

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board

I must confess something here and now:  I never would've believed I could be so naive as to think that politics in Germantown was different than politics everywhere else.  How wrong it appears that I was.

Earlier this year I heard rumors of a recall plan that would see Charlie Hargan again running for the President's seat that he lost to Tom Kempinski.  I pooh-poohed that since it sounded like the fairly typical sour grapes after a significant election change.  Now I read comments to my last Blog that use the "sour grapes" term, and I see Charlie Hargan responding that "what goes around comes around".  Charlie does not appear to be as mild-mannered as I thought.

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Issue Advertising & Our Spring Election...

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board

Issue advertising, such as that utilized most recently by the group Germantown Citizens United, is legal.  This is very apparent as we watch the state Supreme Court race unfold, as I mentioned earlier in this series.

It has been established that issue advertising, by what I'll call 'shadow groups' since these groups do not disclose the names of their contributors, is legal.  But, is it ethical?  In my opinion, shadow groups' advertisements are not ethical in the true sense of that word.  This is not to say that those they oppose nor those they may favor are unethical.  I'm not trying to make that leap. 

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