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
Where do we begin? Our governor has now seen the light concerning campaign financing, or so he wants it to seem. This from one of the most adroit fund raisers we've seen in a long time. He has managed to keep money from several sources that has a taint about it and continues to build his war chest, even though he pledged he'd not run again. The idea of him as our governor for four more years after this term is almost more than I can comprehend, much less stomach. I know I can't afford that from a financial perspective.
A special session has been called for December 11th. Governor Doyle is proposing, among other things, that supreme court justice candidates be granted $400,000 in taxpayer money in order to be able to tell us how good they are and why we should vote for them. A total of some $10 million in taxpayer funds will be involved in this scheme for use in many offices. We have had the opportunity to have money taken from our taxes for that purpose for years, and I've never permitted that to occur. So now, this move would seem to take away my right to say no to the use of my tax money for someone's election campaign; someone whom I may or may not like as a candidate.
I listened to the news this evening only to hear that Congress is about to pass more laws dictating what our children can and cannot eat in schools. That is absurd. Parents have that responsibility and they've already permitted those who run our schools too much leeway. At least if we don't like the way our schools are being run, we can fire the school board and vote new board members into office. We do not need the Congress meddling in such mundane matters.
This is the same Congress that has done virtually nothing since being sworn in. It has yet to pass the continuing funding required to provide what our men and women in the armed forces need to keep them safe, fed and equipped in the face of the enemy. This is the same Congress which has not yet seen fit to expel the member from Louisiana who was caught with $90,000 frozen in his freezer. This is the same Congress that thinks it was granted the right of Kings so far as 'earmarks' are concerned. This is the Congress that intends to raise our taxes since it doesn't think we pay enough.
Did you know that, if you're from Illinois and you're caught speeding, you needn't pay the fine? It's true!
What a great deal for the flat-landers. What a poor way to run a state from our point-of-view.
There is an interesting development in the Democratic primary race this year. Oprah Winfrey has come out squarely in Barack Obama's corner. In the other corner we have Barbra 'Babs' Streisand squarely behind Hillary Clinton.
Which candidate will fare the best as the result of these two 'heavyweight' supporters: Barack or Hillary?
Another of those e-mails that make the rounds fell into my inbox yesterday.
It is cute and uplifting...to me anyway. Hope you enjoy it, too!
Marlin 'Snarlin Marlin' Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) has a bill that could go before the Assembly to rename the pointy green thing with decorations on it from Holiday tree to Christmas tree. Isn't that something? Our Capitol rotunda has had a Christmas tree each year since 1916. It was a Christmas tree until 1985 when we permitted our lawmakers to go off the track. At that point, it became known as the Holiday tree, even though everyone who saw it called it by its correct name...Christmas tree.
How many people do you know who, having been improperly denied their raise for two years, would have said what Police Chief Peter Hoell said?
Not very many, I'd venture.
I had the need to drive to Chicago this morning. I was amazed at the bottleneck that is still in place given the Illinois Tollway Authority's work on I-94.
I started for my 11:30AM appointment at 9:30am. I went some three miles at the border of Wisconsin and Illinois in a 'short' thirty-five minutes. By the way, signs announce that if you hit a worker, you'll be fined $10,000 and spend 14 years locked up; and the minimum speeding fine is $375.
The United States House of Representatives has passed H.R. 6, the misguided energy bill, by a vote of 235 to 181. Two members of the House from Wisconsin voted against this bill: Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner, All the Wisconsin Democrats voted yes as did the RINO Tom Petri (R). RINO stands for 'Republican In Name Only' as you'll recall.
This bill is now in the Senate and there were no predictions as to the outcome of that vote. We can only hope it is defeated.
Tom Kertscher writes this morning in the Journal Sentinel about an ongoing investigation in the Germantown Fire Department. This apparently involves Chief Gary Pollpeter, whose name we've become familiar with in past controversies. It also appears to involve significant overtime pay for one part-time firefighter, Matt Karpinski, who worked 39 regular and 15 overtime hours per week in 2006. He has already worked 818 overtime hours through November 8th of this year, which is more than his total overtime for all of 2006.
This seems to be about Chief Pollpeter finding a way to increase his full-time firefighter staff even though those requests have been refused by the village trustees. Trustee Jim Langer stated that the overtime was an issue but further stated, "There's a big management issue there." Pollpeter's raise has been held up by the trustees.
There has been an extraordinary response to the first Blog I posted following the publishing of an article in the Journal Sentinel concerning our fire department. If you've not noticed, take a few minutes to read the comments that have been posted.
In addition to these postings, I've heard from others desiring not to be identified with their thoughts and experiences in this general area. Among the repetitive themes are these...
Chief Pollpeter is doing the best job possible from the firefighters' points of view (based on those who've made remarks).
Trustee James Langer appears to have a conflict of interest in that he is a firefighter and is chair of the Germantown Public Safety Committee.
Old timers in the department continue to be angry that the state forced the change in department structure and brought it under the control of the village and are taking that out on Pollpeter.
The department has too few members forcing overtime to assure adequate coverage, and the trustees made a poor decision when they denied the populace the opportunity to vote on a referendum for department expansion.
The new union is biased but that is expected from a labor organization.
As stated in my most recent Blog, I have sought responses from both the firefighters and the Village officials involved in this situation. I am bringing one side of those issues to you today since I've only had the opportunity/response from that side of this situation to date. If and when the other side responds, I'll be sure to bring that information to the readers of this Blog.
I have visited with firefighters and EMTs over the past few days. I have developed some opinions as the result of this admittedly one-sided debate. I'll share the discussion points with you and try to make sense of what I've been able to pull together so far.
That was the title of an article by Jeffrey Schmidt that appeared in the American Thinker publication on November 27th discussing the funding debates that are taking place in Washington over the Medicare program. Then, today's Boston Globe carried an article that discusses the problems in the Massachusetts Connector healthcare program. Both articles should chill you to the bone...and they should convince you that politically-driven healthcare is simply a bad idea.
The Medicare funding process gives us keen insight into what happens once politicians get to decide how much and what sort of healthcare participants receive. There is some $390 billion available for coverage of the 40 million seniors and other beneficiaries of the Medicare programs. The discussion involves everything from possible changes (reimbursement reductions) to the very successful Medicare Advantage programs, to reducing physician's fees to reimbursement amounts for various treatments and therapies, etc.
The silence from our elected officials and village officials is deafening, while the debate this situation has spawned continues to build.
I've yet to hear from or receive e-mails from any elected official or village official. It is difficult to imagine that they are not yet aware of this situation since they are a part of it and especially since I sent e-mails to both Mr. Kempinski and Mr. Langer. It would be amazing to learn that they've not read the Blogs nor the many comments that have been posted by department members and citizens. Do people cease to be voters and citizens when they opt to become Bloggers?
The Wall Street Journal editorial page likened the Democrat-controlled Congress to Delta House of Animal House movie fame. As Delta House is being closed by the Dean, Otter says, "I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture on somebody's part". Bluto (John Belushi) replies, "We're just the guys to do it".
This Congress has accomplished miraculously little. It has passed an increased minimum wage law. Most of the lack of accomplishment can be traced to the division within the Democratic party although they would tell you it is due to Republican obstructionism. The far left is still working to embarrass the president who has shown that he is anything but a lame duck. He vetoes their spending largess, and they fail to override. Yet, they come back time after time only to be defeated time after time. Reid and Pelosi don't get along, and they've not been able to marshall support of their own party members on more than a handful of issues.
"Timing of gift questioned" was the headline of Tom Kertscher's column in the morning Journal Sentinel. That may well be a classic understatement, although I'm sure Mr. Kertscher needs to remain less 'curmudgeonly' than do I.
This is a blatant attempt to grease the skids for the denial of Germantown's soon-to-be-presented petition to the state technical college board. MATC has not presented "free" computers to any other community and yet it has done so twice now for Germantown. This coupled with the recent appointment of Germantown's Superintendent to the MATC board certainly shows that MATC is where we need to be sending our money. This provides the technical college board a 'hidey-hole' from which they can summarily dismiss our petition.
Trustee James Langer has apparently tendered his resignation from Paid On Call status in the Germantown Fire Department. This happened a few days ago according to sources.
This is a laudable first step on his part and the citizens should thank him for this action.
This poem has been credited to a military person whose identity appears at the end. I have not verified that information but thought the poem very well done:
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, my daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, transforming the yard to a winter delight. The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, secure and surrounded by love I would sleep. In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, so I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
Some light fare for today from an e-mail making the rounds.
Have you ever wondered...
why we order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a DIET coke?
why we're forced to buy hot dogs in packages of ten and the buns in packages of eight?
why we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering?
why we never see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?
why abbreviated is such a long word?
why lemon juice is made using artificial flavor while dishwashing liquid is made with real lemons?
why there is no 'mouse-flavored' cat food?
why the needle is sterilized before a lethal injection?
why banks leave the doors wide open and then chain the pens to the counters?
why we park our valuable cars outside and keep the junk in the garage?
why women seem unable to apply mascara with their mouths closed?
why the time of day with the slowest traffic is called 'rush hour'?
The recent discussions concerning our fire department brings to mind the question posed above, and in the new GermantownNOW poll found in the right-hand column of this page by scrolling down from this Blog.
In 2002, a study commissioned by the village to evaluate and make recommendations about the fire department was done by a private company named Tri-Data. That company found that there were still 'feelings' amongst some members about the take-over of the department from the Germantown Fire Company some years earlier. It also made some recommendations and did a comparison of Germantown's department to those of seven other similarly-sized communities in Wisconsin.
There have been many page views of the Blog concerning a full-time fire department for Germantown in conjunction with the poll now running in GermantownNOW on that question. If you've not yet made your feelings known, please take time to scroll down after reading this and vote.
It seems that Blog may not have been clear enough in expressing my views that a full-time department would continue to need volunteer paid-on-call members. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. The full-time crews would simply put a fully manned Engine Company (4 personnel) and Ambulance crew (2 personnel) on the scene within the six minute average on a 24/7/365 basis, giving the volunteers time to get to the scene to augment the full-time crew.
May you know the true joys of Christmas and carry them with you throughout the coming year.
An Op-Ed in this morning's Wall Street Journal by Mr. Leo Linbeck of Americans for Fair Taxation explores the proposal for a Fair Tax and discusses the opposition found amongst many in Congress.
First, this concept evolved from a market research study conducted more than ten years ago by a group of business leaders. The study's goal was to determine what type of system to collect taxes would be most acceptable to citizens. The result was a proposal that is now known as the Fair Tax and has been introduced as legislation in Congress.
Wisconsin has had a program called BadgerCare in place for some time now. It is the Wisconsin version of the federal SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Plan) program that was recently funded for another year+. As we've discussed, somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all premium dollars in that program in Wisconsin are spent on ADULTS. Some 40,000 children who are eligible have never been enrolled.
Here comes BadgerCare Plus effective on and after February 1, 2008. The goal is that this will assure that 98% of all children in Wisconsin will be covered. That is a noble cause and no one disputes that. I am troubled that those administering the current plan have been unable to reach out to the families of those 40,000 kids that have not been enrolled. I am wondering how we're going to be able to get to 98% with BadgerCare Plus if we were so unsuccessful with the current plan. I take major exception with what this new program does cover, however.
Justice Louis Butler, a 55 year-old Milwaukean appointed to the court by Governor Doyle is running for his own term on the Supreme Court. He is being challenged by two other candidates. Those candidates are Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman and Sun Prairie attorney Charlie Schutze.
It is widely expected that this race will be an expensive contest that could be a bit on the rough side. It is a critically important race for all who think of themselves as conservatives, self included. Wisconsinites tend to re-elect judges at all levels in the state. That makes every judicial race an important race. The Supreme Court positions are, however, the very most important since it is here that the final direction of the state is often determined. It is here, as well, that the economic well-being of our state is greatly determined.
Maybe bold is a bit overdramatic; these things are almost certainly going to occur during the next twelve months...and probably during the next twelve months after that.
HEALTHCARE COSTS CONTINUE TO RISE...Of course that will happen as it has been happening for a long, long time now.