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
My wonderful wife handed me a sheet of paper she had printed out that says it is “Advice from an Old Farmer”. As I read it, I knew it had to find its way onto Curmudgeon’s Corner given that we are in 'high political' season. Following are some of the pieces of sage advice from that old farmer, whoever he may be:
It strikes me as sad that people seemingly in the prime of their lives and their careers can be ruined by themselves in such short order. I refer to the sad situation in the Menomonee Falls School District where a teacher apparently had an ongoing sexual tryst with a student in the school building.
102 since January 1st…homicides in Milwaukee, that is. That is about one every 2 1/3 days. 102 killings in 236 days! That pace will see nearly 160 deaths by years’ end. The majority of those occur in the inner city. I don’t know how many have been solved versus how many are unsolved, but that doesn’t change the facts.
The morning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured a front-page story titled ‘Safe and sound at the barbershop’ credited to Jason Stein. It dealt with Damien Smith, a youth organizer for Safe & Sound who has put together a Monday session with a barber where young inner city men gather to talk with him while they receive a haircut. This was an eye-opening story, for me at least; it provided me with the view these young men have of themselves and their individual destiny as they live life day-by-day in the Amani and Harambee neighborhoods of Milwaukee, among the highest crime-rate areas in Milwaukee.
High school graduation time is here again. Seniors receive their diplomas and move into the next phase of their lives. For many that will include college. For others that will include finding employment and getting on with life after formal education. For still others there may be a military stint ahead. Marriage, the raising of families and growing older and smarter are all part of the future for most.
Entrenched power is under assault by Republicans writing the new state budget in the Joint Finance Committee. Those two areas are organized education and labor unions. Organized education sees the relaxation of teacher licensing in Wisconsin as the beginning of the end of excellent education. Organized labor sees the prospective repeal of the prevailing wage rules as the ultimate loss possible for certain unions.
Germantown HS Basketball Coach Steve Showalter advised the players last evening of his decision to accept the position of assistant coach at Division II Linwood University located in St. Charles, MO. Today’s Journal Sentinel contains a piece by Mark Stewart discussing that decision.
If you like Pi, today is your day. Today is Pi day. Pi is that mathematical thingy many of us learned a long, long time ago. It is the number 3.1415……. and on to infinity. Those first five digits obviously tie into today’s date March 14, 2015. The next time this will occur is March 14, 2115 and that is a day most of us will not be present to see.
Phil Datka has passed away and that apparently occurred overnight or early this morning. The word has been spreading and Steven Tietz published a piece a short time ago confirming the rumor. Coach Datka has been a legend for many of the years that we have lived in this community. He was among those people whose reputation is larger than life given his history in Germantown and in Germantown football.
There is a partially fitting outcome for the Marquette University brouhaha: Cheryl Abbate, the graduate student teaching assistant has been accepted to the University of Colorado at Boulder, CO through an expedited admissions process. Given her philosophical positions, I can think of no better place for her. They’ll love her and she’ll love them; a truly mutual admiration society thing.
A clip from the Marquette University website follows and tells those interested about its beliefs:
With the defeat (a/k/a dumping) of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), there are some amazing numbers floating around:
Where does anyone begin to review and assess what our President did last evening? He, of course, claims that what he did was completely within his legal authority. He told us that he wasn’t doing anything that every Republican president since Reagan did with Executive Orders.
The races for Germantown School Board seats were about as I had expected in this largely conservative district. The group of three who were touting their conservative perspectives won rather decisively (with margins of 2-1 or better). This was a highly contentious set of races and we will now observe what this means for the School Board. Will there be contentious issues through-out the terms of these new Board members, or was that discussion largely politically-driven? Will these races prove to have been the precursor to a more contentious overall political climate, or was that largely the result of the 'education system' being the driver of those feelings?
Governor Walker's Act 10 bill was hit by a federal judge who found that unions could not be required to re-certify on an annual basis, and who found that the State of Wisconsin must collect union dues as has been done for many years. That was not quite the victory that it is being billed to be, but it does take a little of the sting out of Act 10 from the unions' perspective. It is a long way from overturning the law.
As the saga of the MATC employee and her use of an MATC credit card for personal purposes continues to unfold, the revelation that no audits had been performed for a decade is astounding. John Williams, the new VP of Finance at MATC, who came on board in July, 2010, ordered a routine audit soon after making that discovery. That audit resulted in the discovery of the theft that had been routine for seven years. The audit found that the woman accused is suspected of running up more than $10,000 per MONTH in illegal charges.
Sheboygan voters decided they wanted to end the saga with their current mayor and turn a new page. To his credit, the mayor stated that he had now been sober for 200 days, but the damage was done. I hope he will continue to be sober.
I read of the Milwaukee School Board's refusal to permit the food service work to be outsourced in spite of the fact that these union employees were being favored with "fringe" benefits equal to an additional105.8% of their compensation. That is right; if they are earning $10 per hour (and I feel certain that is way too low but it is easy for comparison purposes), their benefits are costing another $10.58 per hour for a total of $20.58 per hour.
We are witnessing one of the worst types of political campaigns this year. We are watching as politicians try to convince one group that it is being intentionally victimized by the other group, and that it would really be part of the "Haves" if it weren't for the political tricks being played on it. Class warfare, pure and simple.
Admittedly, my youthful days in school are long past, but Columbus Day, when we honored the man who 'discovered' America has apparently changed.
President Obama will address the pre-K to 6th grade students all across America on Tuesday, September 8th. On the one hand, that sounds like a neat idea. On the other, it sounds somehow Orwellian.
There is new federal give-away program called "Race to the Top" that involves stimulus funds for schools that have innovative proposals for improving teaching and learning. Wisconsin may be one of few states unable to qualify due to a law that sits on our books.
The Germantown School District is, as discussed last week, between that proverbial "rock and hard place" that confronts us all from time to time. Ric Ericksen, whose responsibility is the business side of school administration, was quoted in the article posted on July 14th on the Germantown Now website, indicating that the district is wrestling with the various options.
Tomorrow the world of education in Wisconsin changes. The QEO will be a thing of the past and school boards will be tested when bargaining with their union members.
The Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has put out the word today that the Swine Flu has not been as bad as had been feared. She said that schools were no longer being told to close when a positive case had been found.
President Obama is moving headlong into national control of more and more essential areas of our lives. We have seen nationalization of banks and auto manufacturers and insurers. There is a heavy push going on today for a national health plan that would ultimately wipe out the private sector.
I continue to be amazed that the politicians, and their public health department, are closing even more schools in Milwaukee over the "Swine Flu" pandemic.
The QEO, qualified economic offer, is virtually dead since the language inserted into the state budget by Governor Doyle to reward WEAC has survived Joint Finance Committee review. Given that the Democrats control both the Assembly and the Senate, anything in the budget bill after the committee finishes its review will pass.
The Journal Sentinel staff has assembled its overview of some of the key issues that will be decided by the Joint Finance Committee in Madison as the "budget" process goes forward over the next days and weeks. One of the things that should jump out at us all is just how much of the budget deals with things that aren't budget items, but instead with things that the Governor chooses to hide where they'll not be subject to debate on a free-standing basis.
Remember to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, for the several offices that are found on the ballot depending upon where you live in the village. Those races appear as follow:
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
What will it be like after the QEO program is killed?
Governor Doyle has included the ending of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) provision in the new biennial budget that he announced last evening. This would presumably happen coincident with the beginning of this biennium which would be July 1, 2009.
The Journal Sentinel has maintained "data on demand" databases for some time and I noted that the Germantown School District data has been refreshed with more current information.
There are four races that we will be able to vote on in Germantown on Tuesday. Those are:
As I read the article written by Thomas J. McKillen in the February 14th edition of the Express News, I couldn't help but think of the old-time "schoolyard bullies".
Our school board is dealing with a range of issues from kindergarten to school upkeep to wage and benefit negotiations. All seem thorny and all seem to require more money. Our board members are, I believe, genuinely trying to do their best to fairly resolve all their issues however some are more vexing than are others. The coming elections provide the opportunity to retain one member or replace that member, and to select the replacement for another who has decided not to continue his service. I must confess that I would not want that responsibility, and I am very happy there are those who are willing to accept it. These people do not get rich doing this.
A new education coalition known as the Wisconsin School Finance Network has been formed to lobby for more state aid for education in spite of the serious financial situation we now find ourselves attempting to work out from under. This coalition counts the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the American Federation of Teachers - Wisconsin, Fair Aid Coalition, School Administrators Alliance, Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance, Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Wisconsin PTA and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards as its members.
Tom Kertscher reported yesterday on the business incubators that are owned and operated by MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College for those of you new to the area) on the south and north sides of Milwaukee. We wrote about these money-consuming abuses last year. At the time, of course, we were hopeful that we'd be out from under this 'stuff' by now given the effort then underway to be permitted to move from this taxing district to another.
The Germantown Youth Futures organization is sponsoring a program that I previewed during my Citizen Police Academy experience last year.
Those are the number of potential candidates for the State Superintendent position in Wisconsin this spring. The number is assured of being at least three. Two others are attempting to "rehabilitate" the signatures ruled as irregular. Those two are Lowell Holtz who is the Superintendent of the Beloit School District, and Todd Alan Price who is a professor at the National-Louis University. Holtz had 1,930 signatures that met the requirements and Price had 1,884. 2,000 is the magic number. They have until tomorrow to make the necessary changes/corrections if they hope to be in the race.
I do not intend to take any sides in this piece, but to simply state the facts as I see them. If you feel that I stray, please express your thoughts in a comment.
The case concerning Robert Zellner, a former Cedarburg teacher who has been in and out of the news for some 3 years over the viewing of pornography on a school computer on a Sunday afternoon, shows the clout that is wielded by the state teachers' union, WEAC.
Today we'll explore the WEAC insurance companies called WEA Insurance Group.
I want to shift the focus now to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC as it is commonly known. Following this, we'll look at the WEAC affiliate that delivers health and other insurance coverages.
While we are discussing the area of compensation, I want to take a 'hypothetical' person whom we'll name Jane Doe, and look at her compensation package.
First, there was a story by Thomas J. McKillen in the November 15th edition of Germantown Express News concerning the November 10th School Board meeting. In that story there were quotes attributed to Jon Stachowiak who is the President of the Germantown Education Association. The article stated:
The angst that followed the election concerning the defeat of the referenda items has subsided a bit. I want to explore the whole subject of education in our community and state, and have been discussing many issues with those involved including school board members from communities in Wisconsin, educators and taxpayers. I have no idea how long this series will run, but the input of the citizenry is important and I hope this might provoke some additional rational discussion.
A few short weeks ago, our governor mentioned that we would be contending with as much as a $3 billion budget shortfall in the next biennium.
The voters in Wisconsin have decided that the Democrats are going to run the state for at least two years. They control state government and can, if they choose, push their way past any Republican opposition. That remains to be seen, however I suspect the power vested in the Democrats will be too much for them to resist. Just as there is a 'pent-up demand' in the Democrat majority in Washington, there is also that same force at work in Madison.
Wow, voting day is finally here and my telephone will quit ringing so much, my mailbox will be less cluttered and I can either celebrate or cry in my proverbial beer. This election 'season' has seemed to go on forever. Several things are at top of mind this morning...
There is more and more speculation as to the potential that we'll see a 'clean sweep' by Democratic candidates on Tuesday, November 4th at both the state and federal levels. I hope that isn't the way it turns out, but I'm tiring of being beaten about the head and shoulders every time I read a newspaper article or watch the bulk of the television news items. Maybe that is the intent. If us conservatives can be sufficiently demoralized, maybe we'll just stay home. Not this conservative!
I had intended to scan a copy of the sample ballot for Germantown however that wasn't sufficiently legible. So, we'll list the offices for which there are candidate selections to be made by all of us who are registered to vote in the village.
The Sunday Journal Sentinel contains a story by Tom Kertscher that discusses the school referenda with interviews of Bruce Warnimont, school board member, and others representing both sides of the debate over a new elementary school and the operating cap 'forgiveness' that would permit an additional $500,000 for operations of the new school.