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 have mentioned the fact that we wanted to give the two candidates for state senator the opportunity to discuss the issues in a 'back and forth' Blog to be published on a regular basis. We invited both candidates to participate and received the green light from Senator Darling almost immediately. This actually happened late last year.
Numerous efforts were made to contact Representative Wasserman and I finally talked with him as he walked up my front sidewalk in November on a Sunday afternoon following a Packer game. I mentioned that I had made several efforts to contact him and he said I might have needed to use a different email address. I copied that down, and he agreed to become part of the 'debate'. We shook hands on that agreement and I thanked him for making the commitment.
It seems as though there is a 'playbook' in the Governor's desk drawer that covers various things that might go awry and gives ready-made responses for each issue. In the realm of taxes and the 'threat' he may not see as much revenue as he wanted, the standard response must be this: "Warn of local cutbacks if the legislature doesn't act soon".
That page must be really 'dog-eared' by this time. It has been thumbed very often over the Governor's term in office. And it got used again yesterday.
You may have heard or read of the Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch and his 'last lecture'. He is a 47 year-old man who has pancreatic cancer and is dying. His family consists of his wife and three children ages 6, 3 and 1.
His last lecture was delivered in September of last year and has been viewed by millions on the Internet. This was his approach to saying goodbye.
I received a telephone call from Katie Prown late Friday afternoon. I know...I had no idea who she was either. But, she advised me that she was calling on behalf of Rep. Wasserman and virtually pleaded for me to permit him to participate in the 'debate' with Sen. Darling. She apologized for him, said he had been so busy knocking on doors (up to something like 12,905 now), had received such great acceptance....blah, blah blah. He was obviously too busy to call me himself...or too embarrassed if that is possible for a politician.
She indicated that she is his newly hired campaign manager. Her email said, "I can assure you that you will receive prompt and timely responses in the future" and I wondered how she could assure me that he would change since she had just assumed her role, but that is for another day. I told her that I was very disappointed in his performance to this point and that, if I relented, this would be the absolute last time there would be any slack cut for Rep. Wasserman.
The State Senate seat held by incumbent Alberta Darling will be on the November 2008 election ballot. Sen. Darling is a Republican and has held the seat for years. Her opponent in this race is a current member of the Assembly, Sheldon Wasserman, a Democrat. Both live in the North Shore area of the Senate district. Rep. Wasserman is a physician who continues to practice as his Assembly schedule permits. This race will be the end of a current career; either Sen. Darling will retire from the Senate or Rep. Wasserman will retire from the Assembly depending upon which of them wins this race.
Several questions have been posed to each and, now that we have the answers to those initial questions, this series can begin. I encourage comments, even from the candidates if they choose, and welcome questions that readers might wish had been posed. Questions can be emailed to the address above or they can be presented through the comments section beneath the Blogs.
It was reported a week ago that the school board had interviewed the desired applicants and narrowed the field to three 'finalists'. Sources indicate that while three of the six who were interviewed were to be invited for a follow-up interview, none were labeled as 'finalists' at this point contrary to press reports.
Seventeen people responded with indications of interest in the position being vacated by Victor Rossetti on June 30th. A handful were or had been superintendents and the balance were principals and/or human resource directors who were seeking the position as their next step up the leadership ladder.
The benchmark oil prices closed at just under $122 per barrel yesterday due to unrest in Nigeria and slumps in Russia's production. 'Experts' predict that prices for crude oil could go as high as $150 this year. And, that would translate to about $4.50 per gallon prices at our pumps.
What to do, what to do?
Most accounts I read today show Wisconsin as one of the undecided and pivotal states so far as the November presidential election is concerned. Supposedly we are part of the undecided group of states that includes Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, etc. that stretch across the upper middle west (or rust belt, as some are prone to calling us).
What does that mean for us and what will it do to us?
That title to an opinion piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal caught my eye as it did yours. The complete piece can be found on the Wall Street Journal website's public opinion page if you want to read it.
This piece traces the rise and fall of the Clinton machine within the Democratic party. That rise and fall encompasses more than a decade of our country's history and includes discussion of things such as the technique of 'triangulation' that was used to occupy all sides of particular issues, the blaming of their own foibles and shortcomings on the Republican 'attack machine'. It discusses the lost billing records, the cattle futures, the illegal foreign fund raising, the definition of the word "is", Paula Jones, and the Lincoln bedroom. And, it reminded me of the pardons that President Clinton issued in his last days in office. Those were so bad that even Representative Barney Frank (D) who had been a staunch defender of the President called them a "betrayal" and "contemptuous".
I was very surprised to learn that Rep. Sue Jeskewitz had announced that she would not be a candidate for the 24th District seat in the Assembly this fall. She will have served for 12 years, is 66 (although she doesn't look more than 55) and apparently has just decided it is time to stay home. She is part of a 'political' family, so I know this decision could not have been taken lightly.
Some of her positions caused me angst as readers know. I have heard others refer to her as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and there have been those times when I felt that way as various issues came up and decisions were made. I am obviously more conservative than she has been. I understood that and still made visits to her offices in Madison whenever I was part of a lobbying group. She and her staff were always very considerate although it is difficult to tell what the true position of virtually any politician is by simply visiting their office and chatting on talking points for 5 to 10 minutes.
Moms are very special people. I speak from the authoritative positions of a son and of a father and grandfather, and of a husband. I think often of my mother. I remember her caring for me and about me. She was not a perfect person, and I 'm sure she didn't know all the things about parenting that moms do today, but she was my mother and she always will occupy that place in my world.
I saw my wife raise our children. She was always there for them. I can't lay claim to the same thing. I wore a military uniform and I worked to support a family. Those things meant that I wasn't always there for my children...but I knew that my wife, their mother, was and that was my way of justifying my not being around as much as I would've liked or as much as my wife would've liked.
It appears that the Assembly and Senate have reached sufficient agreement to bring a budget repair bill to a vote later this week.
Word available indicates that there may have been a few actual budget reductions while the bulk of the heavy lifting is being done on the back of money being pulled from the transportation fund and money being pulled from the 'rainy day' fund.
One of Germantown's commercial success stories has to be the company known as Cambridge Major Laboratories. Its CEO is Michael Major and his company has been over-achieving since its founding by Major in 1999. This company, now international in scope, is on the top of the wave of pharmaceutical company outsourcing. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel business section discusses the firm and its new expansion plans today.
The ground breaking ceremony will occur on June 5th and will feature a distinguished guest as the result of another Germantown resident's outreach. Washington County Supervisor Peter Sorce issued an invitation to Governor Doyle asking that he attend this ceremony and has received confirmation from the Governor's office that the Governor will make the trip to Germantown to be present when ground is officially broken for the new Cambridge Major plant expansion. Sorce has been active in and around Germantown having served as a Village Trustee and now as a County Supervisor.
SynergyHealth made its decision to go with the proposal from Progressive Health (Froedtert & Community Health and Columbia St. Mary's) as I had predicted a couple of months earlier. It isn't that I'm such a great predictor. This was the most logical decision that could've been taken given the circumstances that existed.
This means that there is a new alliance that will encompass much of the northern two-thirds of the greater Milwaukee market including portions of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties. Doctors in the West Bend Clinic were firmly opposed to becoming a part of the Aurora system. Aurora worked for the better part of a year to try to convince the SynergyHealth group that it was their best choice.
I received an email from a regular reader this morning asking me what my opinion was concerning the announcement that the elementary school bond issue will be back on the November ballot. He forced me to give thought to something I had managed to push from my mind for about a week, but that hiatus is over.
First, let me say that I think the district has had a poor public relations week. The announcement that the bond issue, apparently unchanged, is expected to be on the ballot in November was probably awkward enough. Then, we learn of the expected budget deficit for the current year, and we learn that the proposed budget will require a property tax increase if approved as explained.
It is difficult, at best, to process information and understand whatever bias one might've injected. There may be bias or it might be imagined. The bias, if present, could be caused by the processor or it could have been injected into the process itself through the data gathering effort.
There is a certain tone, a certain something that seems to be going on in our fair community. We have had political change, but it is hard to determine if that was a cause or an effect, or maybe a combination of those drivers. We have an aging volunteer community that may foretell of more changes. For example, will there cease to be a Mai Fest in a year or two or three given the fact that many of the organizers and behind-the-scenes drivers are getting almost too old to continue on their chosen pathways.
The next two questions in our 'debate' are posed below. We'll reverse the order and feature Sen. Darling's responses to each question followed by Rep. Wasserman's responses.
What specific existing state programs can be cut to stop the ongoing issue of budget shortfalls?
A front page story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got my 'juices' flowing this morning. The headline says, "Region stays on polluted list".
One air monitoring device less than one mile from the Illinois border in Kenosha County was detected to have been slightly beyond the ozone limits that EPA had laid on us. Never mind that the prevailing winds blow that here from the Chicago land area, we are compelled to burn reformulated fuel, we're supposed to observe 'ozone alert' days and not even mow our grass. I am surprised that we are not forbidden from firing up the charcoal grill too. Oops! We certainly don't want to give the EPA any more great ideas.
The MATC has developed yet another draft budget after the first such exercise produced the need for a 6.4% property tax increase (see Blog of April 23rd). At the time of that budget draft, the governor apparently said he would not countenance such an increase. MATC announced then that it would go back to the old drawing board and see what could be done to get down into the range of 'as little' as a 5.0% to 5.5% property tax increase.
Guess what? They can now apparently declare victory in this onerous task since the finance committee is only proposing a revised draft budget that would consume another 4.9% increase in property taxes. The proposed draft will come to a vote by the full board on May 27th.
Randall Melchert has announced that he is seeking election to the Assembly seat (24th District) being vacated by Sue Jeskewitz at the end of her current term.
He is the son of a prominent Menomonee Falls couple and the family has deep roots in the Falls. Randy, as he calls himself, declares himself to be conservative and his stated positions suggest that he may be quite conservative. His campaign site (www.randymelchert.com) contains position statements on a variety of subjects. He is a member of the Waukesha Republican Party.
We are, by all signs, involved in an oil cost run-up driven by demand being greater than supply. It is exacerbated for us Americans because our monetary policy has seen an intentional softening of the dollar (our money is worth less than other peoples' money, so it takes more of it to buy a barrel of crude oil). I paid $4.20 per gallon yesterday with the price of crude oil standing at about $130 +/- per barrel. Predictions of crude oil prices of $150 per barrel or more are seen or heard regularly now. And, the cost of oil could well be higher than that by year-end.
How did we get to this point? We got there by congressional law making, by presidents rolling over and signing those bills, and by our country's increasing needs/demand for gasoline and diesel fuel. Why would we permit ourselves to become part of such a quagmire?
There seems a very real sense in our community that bodes ill if the school board decides to pursue a re-vote on the same bonding issue from the spring election this fall.
Judging from the discussion that has ensued since that news was made public, whether or not formalized by the board at the time of its disclosure, the residents of the school district appear to feel very much opposed to the idea that a re-vote would follow so closely on the heels of the recent defeat. And, they seem to be especially opposed to a re-vote on the identical bonding questions.
I just read the 2007 version of this Memorial Day Blog once again. Not a lot has changed except that we may be even further polarized politically than we were a year ago. That is to be expected when we find ourselves in the midst of presidential campaigning, fighting an economic slowdown, watching fuel and food prices escalate almost daily...and as we watch flags in our village and state being flown at half-staff.
The one thing that has stayed constant is the resolve and spirit of our fighting men and women who are posted in many countries of the world. Those of us who would criticize the U.S. for being the 'policeman of the world' need to step back and ask themselves these questions: If not us, whom? If not us, where would the world be today? If not us, where would we be today?
The third edition will begin with Rep. Wasserman's response since Senator Darling batted lead-off last edition:
Do you support the right of properly-trained and screened citizens to carry a concealed weapon? If so, why and if not, why not?
If we could look into the future and learn the outcome of our decisions before we implemented those decisions, would we do so? If we did see the outcome, would we persist even if the outcome was not desirable?
We have just that opportunity, as a state, before us today. We can see the outcome of following the path we've been following and we can see it in time to avert the same consequences...if we are willing to do so. The Wall Street Journal offered us the opportunity this morning.
It has just dawned on me that the 'something' that seemed to be missing from the Memorial Day tableau was the American Flags that used to fly for this holiday/day of remembrance on the village light poles and utility poles.
My recollection is that they used to be in place for Memorial Day and flew through the July 4th holiday period before being taken down and stored away for the next year.
A name familiar to many Germantown people will become even more familiar. Jason LeSage, a two-term Germantown school board member has filed as a Republican in the race for the 24th Assembly district seat.
In reading his press release, it appears we may have a choice between two conservative thinkers. LeSage indicates that he favors lower taxes, fewer regulations and reduced government spending.