Sunday, December 31, 2006
It is very cool to see a blogger put his name on a ballot.
Fred's campaign website is up and running-
Dooley for Alderman
As we all know, campaigns take money. On this new website you will find that you can donate thru Paypal or with a credit card.
I would like to encourage everyone that can spare a few dollars to donate to a real conservative living in Racine.
Either way, it has been great to actually root for the Packers over the last several weeks.
The Packers gave us some hope and something to root for.
At the beginning of this year and until several weeks ago, it appeared that all hope was lost for making the playoffs.
I have to say, it has been fun watching the young defense grow into a group that has been quite formitable over this past year.
I am really looking forward to tonight's game. If Favre plays in his last game tonight, it would be a fitting for it to be against the Bears.
Bret Favre has been a "Bear" killer over his career and it would be great to see it again tonight.
Go Packers, beat the Bears!
Saturday, December 30, 2006
How true is this?
Obituary of the late Mr. Common Sense
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair;
Maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a 6 year old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, which only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their misbehaved children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
Friday, December 29, 2006
I wish someone could explain to me why it is okay for Doyle to accept free Packers tickets for one game,
In October, the Ethics Board said Doyle had not violated the ethics code when he accepted four tickets to a 2003 Packers game in Chicago from an insurance executive who does business with the state.
But it is not okay for a different game,
Gov. Jim Doyle's purchase of tickets provided by a lobbyist for a Green Bay Packers football game in 2003 was improper under the state's lobbying laws, the state Ethics Board said Thursday.
Apparently it is okay to accept free gifts from people doing business with the state, but it is not okay to accept tickets for lobbyists attempting to do business with the state.
Go figure that one out.
An investigation by the DA's office has been opened up in the recall effort. McGee is attempting to use the investigation as a way to block the recall.
However, a judge is allowing the meeting with the city's election committee. The Election committee approval of the signatures collected in the recall effort should take place by next Wednesday.
If you are confused about the recall effort, it is because McGee wants you to be confused. The more confusion he causes the longer he is able to hold off the recall effort.
At the request of the Milwaukee County district attorney's office, a secret John Doe investigation has been launched to look into matters related to the recall effort against Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee.
The John Doe proceeding allows officials to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony under a judge's supervision. The John Doe was requested Dec. 21 by Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf. It has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto.
Landgraf is assigned to the office's white collar crime unit and is handling the recall-related investigation.
John Doe hearings generally are secret, although judges can open them to the public in some circumstances. In any case, those involved are not allowed to discuss any aspect of the proceedings.
The Journal Sentinel independently confirmed the existence of the John Doe.
The city Election Commission is to meet Tuesday to determine if there are enough valid signatures to force the recall, which would be held in conjunction with the spring elections.
McGee attorney Mike Maistelman went to court late Thursday to attempt to block the meeting, citing the ongoing investigation.
But Chief Judge Kitty Brennan denied Maistelman's request to immediately issue a temporary restraining order to postpone Tuesday's hearing. She ruled that Maistelman failed to show that McGee would suffer irreparable harm if Tuesday's Election Commission meeting proceeds.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
My prayer is that this will give a measure of peace to millions of Saddam's victims.
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins this Sunday.
Health care had been the biggest issue in the talks, but the focus shifted to job security after Walker started action to lay off dozens of courthouse complex maintenance and security workers and parks maintenance workers, and to hire private contractors to take over some of their jobs. The union won a temporary order blocking the layoffs, and it would have sought a permanent order in Wednesday's hearing if a deal had not been reached.
The county board supervisors almost blew it by attempting to override Scott Walker with a temporary solution, that only funded the jobs for three months-
In his budget, Walker sought privatization and job cuts as a way to push AFSCME toward health care concessions. Supervisors rejected that idea and instead chose to keep the jobs intact but fund them for only three months, as their bargaining strategy.
Unfortunately for the county board supervisors, they are not allowed to fund the jobs for only three months. This invalidates the budget, so Scott Walker proceeded with the layoffs.
Now, it appears that Scott Walker and the taxpayers got the concessions they needed from the union-
AFSCME previously had agreed that its members would pay more for their health insurance and that controversial pension and sick leave benefits would be scaled back. Those were key goals for Walker, who won office amid the scandal surrounding the generous benefits and who has repeatedly blamed the county's financial problems on benefit costs.
It is truly pathetic that the county board supervisors did everything in their power to block Scott Walker.
For over two years this thing had dragged on and on.
Union leaders hope to hold a ratification vote within the next three or four weeks, Abelson said. The County Board could vote on the contract Feb. 1, Holloway and Schmitt said.
Now, all this deal awaits is county board approval and union approval.
We'll see what happens with that.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
One of the most difficult decisions a person can make in life is to put their name on a ballot.
Fred Dooley, a fellow conservative blogger, has made the decision to run for Alderman in Racine.
I want to wish Fred the best of luck and to let him know that I will do whatever I can to help him with his grassroots effort.
Former President Gerald R. Ford, who declared "Our long national nightmare is over" as he replaced Richard Nixon but may have doomed his own chances of election by pardoning his disgraced predecessor, has died. He was 93.
The nation's 38th president, and the only one not elected to the office or the vice presidency, died at his desert home at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.
"His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country," his wife, Betty, said in a statement.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'm am horrified.
I cannot believe that any person would even suggest this.
This dufus from our state assembly(of course he is a Democrat) actually believes that the state is entitled to the unused portion of my Christmas gifts.
Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said today that the value of unused gift cards should go to the state treasury - not to the merchant - and that change will be part of a bill he'll introduce in the legislative session starting in January.
Kessler said millions of dollars a year go unused by gift card recipients, and retailers are allowed to book the unused values after the cards expire. He cited figures from Consumer Reports showing that 19% of all gift cards are not used because they are lost or expired.
Kessler called that a "windfall," which he said could be used to support schools, health care or roads. Under his bill, after a one-year expiration date on all cards, 80% of the value of unused cards would go to the state treasury. Merchants could keep 20% of the value of an unused card to pay for processing, Kessler said.
"I'd rather have people spend the money and use the gift card, but if they aren't, I'd rather the state get the money," Kessler said.
Two bills regarding gift cards failed to pass in the last legislative session; one would have eliminated fees or expiration dates on gift cards and the other would have required conspicuous posting of expiration and service charge policies.
Should we now be required to send all of our unused gifts directly to our state government?
No really. This state assemblyman plans on introducing legislation.
What makes this guy actually believe that the government is entitled to unused portions of personal gifts.
Good these folks should be scared.
JB promised that he would fight the real criminals and not create his own set of rules to enforce.
After Lautenschlager made criminals out of cranberry growers and ignored the sexual predators roaming the streets, we need someone to enforce the laws and do something that actually keep the citizens of this state safe.
We don't necessarily need to be protected from cranberry growers. However, we do need an Attorney General to protect us from sexual predators, murderers, thieves, etc...
Some are concerned about how Van Hollen will proceed. Bruce Nilles, an attorney for the Sierra Club, said Van Hollen made some "terrifying statements" during the campaign and, as a result, environmental protection experts are on alert.
"His actions and his statements so far do not bode well, but at the end of the day the real evidence is what does he actually do," Nilles said. "Does he actually try to reach out and demonstrate he's representing all of us and not just those who put him in office?"
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spokesman Jim Pugh said Van Hollen ran as an independent prosecutor who would enforce laws, not try to create them.
"If there's a business in Wisconsin that's breaking the law and the attorney general is responsible for enforcing that law, he should get busy enforcing that law," said Pugh, whose group spent $2.5 million on ads against Falk. "No one expects to have it any other way."
The Sierra Club should be scared. They helped Lautenschlager make of mockery of Wisconsin laws by turning our cranberry growers into criminals.
Monday, December 25, 2006
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Numbers count, particularly when they’re off by 40%
In my column in today’s Journal Sentinel, I suggest that now’s the moment for Milwaukeeans committed to school reform to step forward and run for the Milwaukee School Board.
Quite a few are already, or at least saying they will: The Journal Sentinel’s Alan Borsuk reported in early December that 14 people had filed statements of intention to run, a necessary first step. The number of possible candidates appears to be still higher now, though how many actually will succeed in collecting signatures is unclear.
I lament, too, that the election may in part turn on support or opposition to all the new ways of educating kids in Milwaukee. That argument should have been over long ago, decided in favor of more power for parents and educators and less for one big system.
That it’s not is in part because some people don’t bother even to get the facts straight. For instance, I talked to one public official who helps make state education policy and who is against school choice. Fair enough: People of good will can disagree on this.
But the official complained that the state needs to put some kind of cap on how much aid can go to schools taking students in the choice program. The grants are just too high, he said, saying, several times, that a school gets $9,100 a year for taking in a choice student.
No, it doesn’t. You can check this for yourself with the Department of Public Instruction, led by a known opponent of school choice, and I confirmed it again myself:
A private Milwaukee school that educates a child in the school choice program gets, at most, $6,501 this year. It actually gets the total of its operating and debt service cost per student — as reckoned by an outside auditor — or the $6,501, whichever is less.
In other words, a state policymaker misunderstood how much money followed choice students by 40%. Sure, he just got a figure wrong. But an error of that magnitude changes one’s whole perception of the program. The mistaken figure would suggest choice grants were bigger than the per-pupil state aid Milwaukee Public Schools get, about $7,000 in 2004-05, according to state figures, and near the total of taxpayer money that MPS spends on educating a child: $10,748 in 2004-05, again according to the state.
In fact, the choice children’s education is less costly. There are probably legitimate reasons for some of MPS’ higher expense. But the discussion has to start with correct facts.
Otherwise, it leads to sloppy suggestions. One that’s been bruited about — I heard it most recently from state Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) — is that choice grants be limited to the tuition a private school charges the other children attending on their parents’ own dime. Private schools are “profiting” off choice students, he says, when the choice grant brings in more per student than tuition.
He’s overlooking one key thing:
Tuition, particularly at the parochial schools that make up the bulk of those in choice, doesn’t cover the full cost of education. Children whose parents pay tuition are often subsidized by the churches that run the schools, usually because the church sees sponsoring education for parishioners as part of its mission. The subsidy can be substantial, sometimes equalling what a parent pays.
If the state limits the choice grant to what parents pay in tuition, it’s saying that, in return to taking in poor children who may have no particular connection to a congregation, the parishioners will have to subsidize those strangers’ children, too.
There would be few faster ways of shutting down school choice than to throw such a burden on the collection basket. The point of choice was not to throw part of the public’s educational burden off onto church donations but to let poor kids afford what better-off families do. Particularly since many churches running choice schools aren’t particularly wealthy, the options most likely to close down would be the schools most closely linked to poorer parts of the Milwaukee community.
The state doesn’t have an exact figure on hand, but the majority of choice schools get the full $6,501 grant per choice student. That is, an outside audit finds that the cost of educating a child is not less than that. In fact, many spend more and make up the difference with fund-raising, so talk of schools “profiting” on choice students verges on the obscene.
The reality is that Milwaukee children need as many options as they can get. They need a strong Milwaukee Public Schools, since that’s likely to remain the primary educator of children here, and that system won’t be strengthened by killing off school choice. The city needs to get past having to defend school choice — and choice’s critics need to get past trying to kill it.
What I don't understand is why anyone would try and kill the school choice program.
Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that education from a private school is better than an education from a public school?
Sure, an argument could be made that public schools have more resources. However, that does not seem to matter when it comes to actually giving a child an education.
I am not saying that public school education is a bad thing. Personally, I went to both.
Killing the school choice program, would literally kill the hopes and dreams of many low income families looking to give their children and good, solid education.
By the way, how is it possible that our elected officials are so ill informed as to not know how much it cost the state pays per child to be in the school choice program?
These elected officials are either purposefully lying about the numbers or they have literally turned a blind eye to the numbers because they do not want to know the truth.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
"Our defense force has been forced to enter a war to defend (against) the attacks from extremists and anti-Ethiopian forces and to protect the sovereignty of the land," Meles said a few hours after his military attacked the Islamic militia with fighter jets and artillery.
Ethiopia has decided to take a stand against the Islamic extremist militias that have overrun Somalia.
My guess is that Ethiopia has decided that they will not be next on the list of nations that the extremist will go after and they have decided to take a stand to fight the extremist in Somalia instead of waiting until the extremist take over their county.
Here is a map of Ethiopia, in order to get a better picture of the region-
Click on the map to enlarge-
Well, as it turns out, nothing changes.
All of the recurring earmarks will stay in the spending bills, but will be no NEW earmarks-
From the New York Times
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 — The Democrats taking over the Congressional appropriations committees next year have boldly pledged to place a moratorium on earmarks, the pet spending items that individual lawmakers insert into major spending bills behind the scenes.
But like much resolute talk in the Capitol, the declaration may not have the sweeping effect that the plan’s backers have suggested and its critics have denounced. Although earmarks figured prominently in some recent Congressional bribery scandals, they have also become cherished instruments of political power, used by party leaders to reward or punish members and by incumbents to buy good will among their constituents.
So the Congressional reaction was swift and vigorous when the two new appropriations chairmen, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, said in a joint statement that “there will be no Congressional earmarks” in the resolution they draft to bridge over the unfinished spending bills for the 2007 fiscal year, declaring “a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place.”
Lawmakers told constituents their projects could be decimated. “Terrible,” “unprecedented” and “unacceptable,” said a statement from Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico.
But the scope of the declared moratorium may be far more limited than it sounds. For one thing, the Democrats have not said they will delete financing for earmarks that lawmakers included in spending bills for the 2006 fiscal year and hoped to renew for 2007, a category that may include the majority of earmarks.
Instead, what the Democrats will omit is the long explanations usually appended to each spending bill to instruct federal agencies how to spend the money. Their resolution will include only total numbers for each agency, without the instructions.
The result will make it hard for members of Congress to ensure passage of a first-time earmark like the $500,000 to help expand the Peoria zoo that was inserted into a spending bill by Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois. Mr. LaHood and other Republicans have complained most loudly about the plan, accusing Democrats of ignoring local needs.
But many if not most earmarks are recurring items, like money for a university research program or a public works project that Congressional sponsors insert each year. No Democrats have suggested any plan to cut or redirect that money.
Schwarzenegger was taken to a hospital for X-rays and was discharged with a fracture to his right femur, said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor's Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.
He will have surgery to repair the bone when he returns to Los Angeles, Mendelsohn said.
The governor remained at his Sun Valley home Saturday night and still planned to spend Christmas there.
No one else was involved in the accident, Mendelsohn said.
Hey Governor, I hate to say it, but you are getting old just like the rest of us. Best wishes and get well soon.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
As leaking propane gas pooled into a deadly concentration in a building in the Falk Corp. complex, workers from mechanical contractor J.M. Brennan Inc. assured people around them that they had the situation under control and discouraged the call for an evacuation, a spokesman for Falk said.
This may be true, but I still take issue with this fingerpointing. It was Falk's equipment, Falk's responsibility to maintain the equipment, and Falk's employees lives that were on the line.
It is the sole responsibility of Falk to do whatever they can do to keep their employees safe.
With that being said, still...
Bad things happen to good companies. Every precaution known to man could have been taken and yet, this still could have happened.
I feel bad for the managers and employees of Falk. I am certain that if any one of them had any idea that this was going to happen, they would have done everything in their power to stop it.
It is time to learn from this horrible accident and move on.
During this holiday season and for the next several months, hundreds of employees are counting on Falk managers to learn from this horrible accident and pull the company back together.
Falk's responsibility is to figure out what went wrong and fix the problem. They also have a responsibility to rebuild and get their 700 employees back to work.
This is a tall task for the management team of Falk Co.. But I believe they can do it. This is a strong company with good employees, that has been around for over 150 years. (for a little history lesson on Falk, check out this link.)
After everything that I have read and seen about Falk Co., I guess what I am really trying to say is I believe in the Falk Co..
There will be lawsuits, fines and alot of scrutiny headed Falk's way. This is all unavoidable and a necessary part of the healing and learning process.
This company has survived many wars, the historic depression era, fires and explosions. They can survive this too.
If I had one piece of advice for the Falk Co., it would be turn to their employees and the Wisconsin community. They will help them rebuild.
Even though you cannot bring back the lives that were lost, the employees of Falk Co. and the Wisconsin community can rebuild this company.
To the management team of the Falk Co., let your employees and our Wisconsin community help you build a bigger, stronger, smarter and more successful company.
It's the American way!
We, as Americans, love to build stuff. It is time to do it again.
Friday, December 22, 2006
According to the MJS-
If you're a Green Bay Packers fan, here's a reminder of whom you should be rooting for and against this weekend.
* New Orleans to beat the New York Giants
* Washington to beat St. Louis
* Carolina to beat Atlanta
* Seattle to beat San Diego
Mayor Barrett, as usual, kinda waffled on it. He opposed adding the buses to the new tax, but he did not oppose the tax for just the rail system.
A proposed three-county sales tax for commuter trains and public buses is certain to be reworked in the face of swift opposition from local leaders and state legislators Thursday.
However, this issue is not dead. My guess is that these folks will continue to push this new rail system down our throats, whether we want it or not.
I then went searching for some information on this. Sure enough, Belling is right. Cleverly hidden in this story is this line...
Sloan's appearance on "Hardball" upset U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton - who was asked by Sloan Wednesday to quash a subpoena Wilson received from Libby's attorneys to appear as a defense witness in the Libby trial.
This is Joe Wilson's chance to get someone in the Bush administration, which he has been trying to do for years.
Why is heaven's name would Joe Wilson's attorney asked to have the subpoena quashed?
Is Joe Wilson hiding something?
(Of course, I know the answer to this last question. I am just being facetious.)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
"Special committee fails to come up with ways to pay for Wis roads"
I cannot believe that this AP writer is actually blaming a "special committee" for the problems with paying the roads in Wisconsin.
A special legislative committee created to examine the state's transportation funding failed to come up with specific recommendations on how to make up an annual shortfall of nearly $700 million.
We have a way of paying for our roads with the taxes we pay into the Transportation fund, but Jim Doyle has robbed the fund blind.
Jim Doyle's way of balancing the budget is to steal from the Transportation fund and give the money to WEAC.
Well, now it is time to pay the piper. Now we cannot afford to pay for our roads because the Transportation fund has been robbed so many times.
While it stops short of recommending ways to raise money for transportation needs, a draft report released Wednesday did "strongly recommend" the state stop taking money from roads to make up deficits in other areas.
That is the "No. 1 point" of the report, said committee co-chair state Rep. Mark Gottlieb, R-Port Washington.
Even if the panel had recommended ways to raise more money, the state would still need to stop pulling funds from the transportation department to give to others, Gottlieb said. People might be willing to put more money into the state's transportation system if they knew it would be spent on roads and not diverted for other needs, he added.
This is a mess. There is no magic fix to the mess Jim Doyle created for us.
Jim Doyle succeeded in convincing voters that he had fixed the budget.
Now that the election is over, folks can clearly see that they were bald faced lied to by Jim Doyle.
Go ahead and add another $700 million a year to our every growing budget deficit!
Once again, some folks want a train. Instinctivley, government proposes my taxes go up.
This game is getting old.
The new Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority is considering local sales taxes to help pay for a proposed commuter train line and to take public buses off the property tax in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties.
Yesterday, a jury found Trang Tran, a UW Parkside student, guilty of negligent homicide-
Trang T. Tran’s trial began with sobs and ended eight days later with silence.
Tran, 24, of Salem, stood motionless Wednesday afternoon as she learned jurors found her guilty of negligent homicide with a gun for the May 27 shooting of her sister, Bao T. Tran.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce E. Schroeder warned the gallery of lawyers, friends and family who came to hear that verdict that emotional displays — on their faces or with their voices — would not be tolerated.
Tran’s family followed that order strictly, particularly her mother, Nhung Trinh, who checked her sobs but let her tears flow.
Jurors watched Tran and her family as the verdict was read. After the jury left the courtroom, defense attorney Valerie Karls led Tran to the gallery.
“She wants her mom,” Karls said. Tran collapsed next to her mother, who clung tightly to the Tran’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Georgette Wonders.
Outside the courtroom, Karls said she was disappointed.
Karls and co-defense attorney Vincent Rust had hoped for an acquittal on Tran’s original charge of second-degree reckless homicide. Karls could not persuade Schroeder to exclude a lesser included charge of homicide by negligent handling of a weapon.
Jurors were instructed to only consider that negligent charge if they found Tran not guilty of reckless homicide. Given that standard, Karls and others suggested, Tran could have gone home Wednesday as a free woman had the lesser charge not been included.
Instead she went home Wednesday to await sentencing on Feb. 7; she is free on a $50,000 cash bond, which friends and professors gathered in $10, $20 and $100 increments for the recent University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduate.
Karls said she is not sure what sentence to suggest, but she said the penalty for Tran goes beyond the possible five-year prison term. As a convicted felon, Tran now faces the added penalty of deportation; Tran has been in the United States since 2002 on a student visa.
“I believe Tran will be deported,” Karls said, “which is sad because she’ll never be able to see her professors, her friends again.” Tran also has some family in the United States.
Her parents live in Vietnam. They traveled from Ho Chi Minh City and had to close their family-run hotel to be with Tran for her trial. They will not be able to stand by her at sentencing. Their visas will expire before then, Karls said.
Karls said the deportation possibility weighed into Tran’s decision to go to trial, although the defense adamantly maintains Tran was not aware of the danger of her actions when she decided to show her boyfriend’s Colt .45 replica to her sister. In fact, Karls asked Schroeder to dismiss Tran’s charge, regardless the verdict. For the defense, Bao’s death will always be an accident.
Many spectators at the trial — lawyers to laypeople — sympathized with Tran and accepted the accident explanation. Many questioned why she was even charged.
District Attorney Robert D. Zapf said he understands that. But, he said, Tran made too many purposeful choices — she reportedly sought out the gun, rooted through a drawer when she could not find it, then pointed it in her sister’s direction — to make the shooting an accident.
“This was never an accident,” Zapf said.
In fact, if Zapf had been able to prove a motive for the shooting, he said he possibly would have pressed for an intentional homicide charge, given Tran’s decision to get and manipulate the gun, added to the fact that she was sober when she made those choices.
Zapf made no prediction on what sentence he might suggest or even whether he would be more inclined to recommend a minimum or maximum sentence. However, Zapf said the shooting was one of the more aggravated negligent homicide cases he had seen and would weigh that as he made his decision.
Many who watched the trial, even those who felt Tran deserved some punishment, whispered frustrations with Tran’s boyfriend, Jacob Karras, who owned the gun used in Bao’s shooting.
Karras reportedly taught Tran how to use the gun, although the extent of those lessons varies depending on the view of the state and the defense.
Zapf argued that Tran learned enough to know how to load and fire the weapon. He said she also knew that Karras kept a loaded clip in the gun. The defense asserted that Tran thought the gun was unloaded because Karras told her it was “safe” before he put it away.
Regardless, many in the courtroom felt the shooting would not have been possible without Karras’ so-called lessons.
Zapf said he considered that when he charged Tran. He has learned that Karras is not the registered gun owner and feels that Karras, by his own testimony, either lied to police or lied on the witness stand about what he taught Tran.
But, Zapf said, Karras was not involved in the shooting and, therefore, cannot be charged with a crime.
“He could have a loaded gun. It’s foolish, but he could do it,” Zapf said. “There is no charge that, under the law, he could be charged with unless he was involved in the shooting.”
Tran and her family had nothing to say after the trial ended. Jurors also left the courthouse without comment.
Schroeder thanked them for enduring a trial that lasted twice as long as expected.
“This was an extraordinary jury,” he said. “I think I told you 3½ days and here we are in day eight. I never heard a whimper of a complaint.”
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
CHESTER, England — As Christmas approaches, a virgin mother is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her offspring. She's Flora, the Komodo dragon.
In an evolutionary twist, Flora has managed to become pregnant all on her own without any male help. It would seem the timing is auspicious: the seven baby Komodo dragons are due this festive season.
"We were blown away when we realized what she'd done," said Kevin Buley, a reptile expert at Flora's home at the Chester Zoo in this town in northern England. "But we certainly won't be naming any of the hatchlings Jesus."
Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora's virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.
All we need is some sheperds and wise men to show up at the zoo to really freak out some folks!
MJS suggests they may be able to borrow the money "internally" from other departments. The problem with this is folks will be then question why these departments have an extra $9.1 million laying around that can be given to MPS. If they borrow the money internally, why didn't they do this in the first place and not charge the people in Milwaukee?
One possibility would be to borrow the money, but that would likely involve interest costs, unless it was done through "internal borrowing," that is, borrowing from a different city-controlled fund.
So, I think this plan is out of the question. This would open up a huge can of worms.
My guess is, the city will borrow the money "externally" forcing the taxpayers to pay interest on a $9.1 million on next year's taxes because of the city's mistake. Clearly the taxpayers will then pay well more than $9.1 million because they will have interest to pay on the loan.
By the way, what is lost in all of this the taxpayers still received a levy increase by the schools and they were charged this on their tax bills this year. In May of this year, the MPS already gave themselves a $7.4 million increase. The increase was on this year's tax bills passed on to the taxpayers. The problem came when MPS decided in October that they needed an extra $9.1 million- this additional increase did not get charged to the taxpayer's this year.(not yet anyway, but the bill is coming)
Check out the sweetheart deal that MPS gave themselves this year.
1. State aid to MPS is increasing this year. This means every taxpayer in Wisconsin is paying for this. MPS is receiving an extra $1.65 million in state aid, even as enrollment continues to fall in Milwaukee-
In her memo, Nate blamed MPS' small aid increase on a jump in per-student property valuation - the result of declining enrollment and increasing property values, which can cause a disadvantage for school districts in aid calculations - and a $7.6 million increase in its deduction for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
2. In May this year, MPS gave themselves an additional $7.4 million in tax levy increases.
3. In October this year, MPS gave themselves an additional $9.1 million in tax levy increases.
If the revised budget is approved as proposed, it will bring a $16.5 million increase in property tax revenue for MPS, up from $213.8 million last year to $230.3 million this year. The 7.7% increase would be lower than a 13.2% increase two years ago, but higher than any other year since 1998-'99.
4. In October of this year, an extra $6.7 million was "found" in the budget and MPS decided to keep the money instead of passing this saving on to the taxpayer!
Millions of dollars that had been freed up within the $1.15 billion budget for the 2006-'07 school year could be used to hold down the tax increase. Or they could be used to increase spending by $78.90 per student across the MPS system - totaling almost $6.7 million.
So all in all, the MPS Board gave themselves an additional $25 million for the next school year even as enrollment continues to drop!!!
Better yet, the MPS still is not educating the students the way they should be. This year, it was announced that the MPS has one of the worst graduation rates in the NATION!
Milwaukee public high schools have one of the worst graduation rates in the country among large school districts, according to a new report that takes the unusual step of trying to make comparisons across large school districts as well as states.
So what we have here a dropping enrollment rate, an extremely poor performing school district, and a greedy school board. The taxpayers are then forced to give these folks an extra $25 million to squander.
Congratulations Taxpayers, you're getting pounded!
We can talk about withdrawal and troop reduction, but the evidence is clear- we have an enemy in Iraq that needs to be defeated.
Whether or not we want to face this fact or not- the people that killed 3000 innocent Americans on 9/11 are in Iraq.
The deputy leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, told the United States on Wednesday that it was negotiating with the wrong people in Iraq, strongly implying in a video broadcast on Al-Jazeera that Washington should be talking to his terror group.
"I want to tell the Republicans and the Democrats together ... you are trying to negotiate with some parties to secure your withdrawal, but these parities won't find you an exit (from Iraq) and your attempts will yield nothing but failure," al-Zawahri said on the tape, sections of which were aired in successive news bulletins.
This is not a Republican or a Democrat problem, this is an American problem.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
MADISON, Wis. The backlog of cases waiting for D-N-A testing at the state's crime labs continues to grow. That's despite a new state crime lab, tax dollars for additional analysts and automated testing.
Figures released today show the state crime labs in Madison and Milwaukee will end 2006 with evidence in more than 17-hundred cases still waiting for D-N-A testing.
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager blames the backlog on law enforcement agencies submitting more and more pieces of evidence that need testing. She says the number of submissions has grown 91 percent from 2003 to 2006.
The attorney general, who was not re-elected, says the number of D-N-A cases completed has increased -- from one-thousand-225 in 2003 to one-thousand-685 in 2006.
Wisconsin's backlog had grown even though the Madison lab had 12 (m) million in renovations in 2004, the state budget authorized four more analysts and both crime labs added robotic testing this year.
Lautenschlager blames the backlog on law enforcement??? Good grief. Thank goodness this lady was not re-elected.
Common sense would be to lead most people to believe the backlog may be a result in the massive increase in crimes being committed in Wisconsin. Lautenschlager should have used this excuse and not blamed law enforcement officials for doing their jobs.
Over $12 million has been spent to upgrade the system to improve the backlog. Still things have gotten worse.
Apparently $12 million does not buy what it used to!
Entitled- Are our tax dollars being properly managed?
It is December, folks, and here they come--our tax bills are on their way.
Tax season is just around the corner, and the question that we are asking ourselves is whether our taxes will go up this year.
Judging from the recently released local and county budgets, it is a safe bet that our taxes are going up again.
Most of us do not mind paying taxes. We understand the need for good schools, good roads, fire and police protection, etc....
However, we do care that our taxes go up because of money mismanagement from our elected officials. As taxpayers, we have a tendency to get upset when this happens.
Are our elected officials managing our tax dollars properly?
That is a hard question to answer. Some elected officials are making an honest effort to manage our tax dollar efficiently. However, some elected officials are not even trying to keep our taxes down to a reasonable level.
Anyone watching the squabble that is taking place in the Village of Pleasant Prairie realizes there is a serious budget problem. In a tentative budget proposed earlier this year, village officials had already increased property taxes to the maximum level that the state would allow. Believing they needed more money, village officials decided to go to the taxpayers and ask for additional tax increases in the November referendums.
Village officials decided that the tax increases they had already proposed were not nearly enough to cover for a new ambulance, a new snowplow, heart monitors, and a Hurst tool.
The taxpayers of Pleasant Prairie soundly rejected the tax increases proposed in the November referendums.
Village officials then went back and looked at their original budget proposal to see what they could do to fund the ambulance, snowplow, and the heart monitors.
Guess what? Just like magic, village officials found plenty of money to fund these new items.
They did not really need the extra money after all!
So where did village officials find the extra $433,000 to fund these new items?
Apparently, they had some money in a reserve fund, and their health care insurance was not going to go up by $163,000 as they had originally budgeted.
Didn’t Village President John Steinbrink and Administrator Michael Pollocoff notice that they did not really need more money before they went to the taxpayers demanding more tax dollars?
Apparently not. This is the kind of stuff that frustrates us as taxpayers. This is ridiculous! Did they look at the budget and the tax increases before they actually proposed it?
I read in the paper a couple of weeks ago that some Pleasant Prairie village officials were upset because they are being accused of “mismanaging” the village finances.
Well, after watching this fiasco in Pleasant Prairie play out in the newspaper- what else would you call it?
It is extremely irresponsible for Pleasant Prairie officials to demand additional money from taxpayers that they did not really need.
Taxes are unavoidable and we are willing to pay them. However, we demand responsible government officials who are looking out for the best interest of the taxpayers.
I just cannot help but laugh at this.
A last minute tax increase imposed by the Milwaukee Public Schools was forgotten and taxpayers were not charged the additional $9.1 million in taxes.
Milwaukee taxpayers accidentally got a $9.1 million tax break - and city and Milwaukee Public Schools officials now have a $9.1 million headache.
Because of a paperwork snafu between MPS and City Hall, the property tax bills mailed this month inadvertently left out a tax increase that the School Board approved in October.
Now fingers are being pointed, the schools are demanding that the city come up with the money, and city officials are huddling in high-level, closed-door meetings to figure out what went wrong and how it can be fixed.
I am sure they will figure a way to stick it to the taxpayers anyway.
My guess is that Democrats are not real thrilled by tax increases either.
I have yet to see candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, who has won by running on a platform that "I will raise your taxes".
Some interesting snippets from the article-
The White House-congressional split highlights a problem that Mr. Bush is likely to face for the next two years: the increasing division between Mr. Bush and his party as he works to find common ground with Democrats and Republicans work to hold the line on tax cuts and other gains they made on the Republican agenda.
Social Security could be the first test. Since November, Mr. Bush has said everything should be on the table in the effort to fix the program's finances -- a statement in sharp contrast to his declaration after the 2004 elections that "We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem."
People seem to forget that the conservative party's hero, Ronald Reagan, also raised our taxes. He also raised our taxes on Social Security.
The top Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees have promised to keep earmarks out of this year's spending bills until they come up with a reform package that makes the process more transparent.
This weekend, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said it will be among their top priorities.
That comes as Democrats have been making headway among voters on spending, according to a Club for Growth poll taken in competitive districts during last month's elections that showed Republicans have "squandered the brand on this," said Patrick J. Toomey, the club's president and a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. Toomey, though, said he doubts Democrats follow through on their pledge.
"Let's remember, this is the party that openly advocates for expanding the size of government and the power of Congress," he said. "I don't see any indication yet of a serious and substantive change in the earmark process. I hope I'm wrong."
Yeah, I am will Mr. Toomey on this. I'll believe it when I see it.
The Democrats can talk a fancy game, but it will be Congressman like Paul Ryan that will push this issue to the forefront.
Monday, December 18, 2006
First lady Laura Bush had a skin cancer tumor removed from her right shin in early November. The procedure was not disclosed until Monday night. The cancer was identified as a squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor that is the second most common form of skin cancer.
Continued prayers for the First Lady and to all those inflicted with cancer.
There has been a big increase this year in number of Wisconsin cities, villages and towns either out of compliance with a Wisconsin law on tax reassessments, or on the verge of being so, the state Department of Revenue says.
Communities receive a warning from the agency when their total assessed value is less than 90 percent of the "full" or equalized value for four consecutive years.
There was no immediate words as to which communities received warnings.
The DOR said 213 are out of compliance with the law, and another 288 are on the verge, with the total up 60 percent over last year.
The total of 501 is also the largest number since 1999, when 509 of the state's roughly 1,850 communities were out of compliance or had received a warning from the state.
If the communities do not do a complete reassessment in the year following a warning, they are put on the noncompliant list, which eventually can result in a state-forced reassessment in the next year or so.
"A higher assessment doesn't automatically mean higher taxes," said Ryan Parsons, research associate for the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
Parsons said that, if the total property tax levy collected by the various taxing bodies remains the same, a higher assessment on an individual property would be offset by a reduction in the property tax rate.
But individual property tax bills will rise for properties with values that have risen more than those of other properties in the same community, according to Parsons and Jeffrey Browne, president of the Public Policy Forum.
Browne said the reason to reassess regularly is so properties are fairly valued and property owners consistently pay their share of taxes.
Barbara Davies, clerk for the Washington County town of Trenton, said some property owners will wrongly assume that their property tax bill will rise by the same percentage that their assessment increases in a reassessment there scheduled to begin in February.
But only properties with values that have increased faster than those of others in the town will see significant increases in their tax bill, she said.
Those who do see much higher property taxes after the reassessment might complain, Davies said.
"But you could make an argument that they've been getting a deal because they've been underassessed for five years,"she said.
I don't think anyone is snookered into believing that the DOR is doing anything more than grubbing for more tax dollars.
Property values are going down fast. 2 to 3 years ago, values were going up very fast. If the DOR cannot get these assessments in more quickly, then they cannot tax at the higher value of the property for the next few years.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is encouraging a massive invasion of a farmer's personal property rights.
Basically, the government will be able to purchase the rights of a private property owner to keep the private property owner from selling their land to developers.
The government is not actually purchasing the land from the farmers, they are just purchasing the "rights" of the farmer to keep them from selling the land.
As I said, I am horrified, but I do not have time to finish my thoughts on this. I will come back later and finish my thoughts.
We felt it was a mistake in June when the Washington County Board rescinded a program aimed at helping farmers resist the pressures of development and at preserving some of the prime agricultural land in the county. But the board could act soon after the new year to let voters have the final say on whether the county should re-enact a purchase-of-development-rights program.
Giving voters the choice would let citizens help decide what kind of county they want to live in and what kind of county they want to leave their children.
According to a report issued by a special county committee in February, local development pressures almost doubled the amount of land converted from rural to urban land uses each year after 1995. County Supervisor Dan Stoffel and other land preservation advocates believe the county is losing nearly 1,500 acres, or 2.3 square miles, of agricultural land to development annually.
Agriculture is still important to the county, supporting nearly 5,000 jobs and pumping $629.9 million annually into the local economy, according to a 2004 study by the University of Wisconsin Extension.
Purchase-of-development-rights programs have been used to good effect in other states. And although there has been no action so far to create a statewide program in Wisconsin, several municipalities have created their own programs. Were Washington County voters to approve such a program, it would be the first countywide program in the state.
Under purchase-of-development-rights programs, a government or land trust purchases the right to develop the land of farmers who apply. A permanent deed restriction is placed on the property after the purchase that bars owners from selling the land to developers. The owners are free to use the property otherwise as they choose.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The things that Michael McGee Jr and Sr are saying and doing are staggering-
Michael McGee Jr. making harassing phone calls-police investigating
Keep checking back with Patrick at Badger Blogger for further details.
Miss USA 2006 is in danger of losing her crown due to bad behavior, organizers of the annual beauty pageant said on Thursday.
Property magnate and TV "reality" series star Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA and
Miss Universe contests, will decide next week whether or not Tara Conner would keep the title, they said.
"The Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Donald J. Trump will be evaluating her behavioral and personal issues to see what we can do to work with her, and what we will do about her reign going forward," Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said in a statement.
"Mr. Trump will make a determination and announcement within the coming week."
A spokeswoman for the contest declined to give any details on Conner's misbehavior or comment on online reports about incidents of inappropriate conduct at New York bars.
"Miss USA is a role model. There are moral rules that we go over with them," she said, but declined to outline the rules under which the winners accept the title.
Really, am I the only one who thinks it is an absolute riot that of all people, Donald Trump is the one to make the decision on whether or not Miss USA's behavior is morally upright?
Okay, now that is just funny.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The approach gives Dennis Troha, a developer pushing for a Kenosha casino, a way to send $50,000 more the governor's way.
Just like four years ago, non-profit Boys & Girls Clubs will pay inaugural expenses through contributions and split the money that is left over.
In 2003, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha collected donations that were used to pay off $525,000 in inauguration bills, and will act in that role again, said Wally Graffen, CEO of Kenosha's club. Four years ago, the Kenosha club distributed more than $225,000 in profits among 28 clubs statewide.
Troha "was the major influence behind a Boys & Girls Club starting up in Kenosha," according to the club's Web site.
Troha "has been a friend of our organization for years," but he doesn't mix that support with his business deals, Graffen said.
Troha and his wife, Natalie, plan to give $50,000 to help underwrite the governor's inaugural, but it has nothing to do with his casino goal, said family spokesman Evan Zeppos.
All of the Trohas' gifts to Kenosha-area charities - including the Boy Scouts, Shalom Center, soccer clubs, the Rotary or Days of Discovery highlighting the waterfront - are given "because of their deep and abiding love" for Kenosha, Zeppos said.
The Trohas gave $25,000 - the maximum suggested then - to Doyle's inaugural in 2003, before Dennis Troha asked the state and federal governments to approve a Menominee Indian casino at Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha.
The Trohas were the only individual donors to give at that level, but eight groups - including the Forest County Potawatomi, Miller Brewing and Philip Morris - also gave $25,000 each.
Members of Troha's family have given $192,250 to Doyle in past years, records show, and Dennis Troha has also donated $100,000 to the Democratic Governors Association and $30,000 more to the Democratic Party.
Troha has given $10,000 to Doyle's campaign in each of the past two campaign cycles, the maximum allowed by law. He can give additional money to the inaugural committee because those donations are not governed by campaign finance laws.
Troha is seeking to turn Kenosha's dog track into an $808 million Menominee Indian casino. If the plan is approved by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, it will need Doyle's backing to proceed.
Doyle has never said whether he would approve the deal, and spokesman Dan Leistikow said Wednesday that neither Troha nor any other executive who donates to the inauguration will get any special consideration.
If Doyle has to make a decision on a Kenosha casino, he will do so based on the "entire record" of federal, state and local documents and support - not on any donations, Leistikow said.
Leistikow said companies and individuals are asked to pay for the governor's inaugural so no tax funds are used.
"This is the legal way you fund inaugurals," Leistikow said. "It's totally consistent with the law."
Spokesmen for the Forest County Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk Nation said their tribes had not yet decided whether they would contribute toward the governor's inauguration, as they did four years ago.
The Potawatomi oppose Troha's proposed Kenosha casino.
"Indian gaming is supposed to help Native Americans, not millionaire developers," Potawatomi spokesman Ken Walsh said.
Miller Brewing spokesman Peter Marino said the company plans to donate $10,000 to help pay for Doyle's inaugural. He said the donation gives it no unfair advantage in the Capitol because the money goes to a charity.
"It's a good thing the governor does," Marino added.
But Jay Heck, executive director of the non-partisan group Common Cause in Wisconsin, said businesses give to underwrite inaugural parties for the influence it can buy them later.
Inaugurations don't have to be large, formal events that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Heck said.
"There are other ways to pay for inaugurations - scale them down, price them more modestly and have small contributions from citizens who attend, rather than big corporations seeking favorable treatment underwrite the cost," Heck said.
"They would likely be a lot more fun if done this way, too."
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
After receiving dozens of fundraising letters before the election, which we all expect, I was really surprised to receive a letter so soon after the election.
My guess is that this particular candidate was still trying to pay for the last election or he has already begun to raise funds for the next election.
Either way, I just thought it was kind of tacky to ask for even more money a month after the elections.
Come on- can't you guys give us a break for a couple of months?
Really, just give us a few months before asking for money again, okay?
A Serbian immigrant who has been living in Greenfield since 2004 has been charged with immigration fraud after his name surfaced in connection with the massacre of some 7,500 Muslim men and boys in the Balkan city of Srebrenica in 1995.
Nedjo Ikonic, 40, has not been charged with war crimes. But his name is listed on documents used by prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Milwaukee. He is charged with lying about the extent of his military service when he entered the United States as a refugee.
I don't know.
The recall effort seems to have sent McGee into yet another tizzy where he is again saying outlandish things.
Patrick from Badger Blogger has all of the details-
McGee/Jackson Jr. to challenge recall petition
McGee: Leon Todd- hung for his betrayal of the community
McGee non-coverage shows media bias
McGee Sr. attempts to explain Jr.'s comments on Leon Todd
Finally today- MJS has decided they will cover story.
Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee faced strong criticism Tuesday from political opponent ViAnna Jordan over saying on the radio this week that a black leader should be "hung" for supporting Jordan's recall effort against McGee.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Thanks for bring this to light, Fred.
These are the people we have running our country.
Makes you wonder
The gap between median family incomes in Wisconsin's two biggest cities has widened to 80% - $64,264 in Madison compared with $35,765 in Milwaukee - after being less than 10% about 15 years ago, a report released Monday says.
It is time for our politicians, no matter which side of the ailse they are on, to face a few facts. Milwaukee needs jobs and they will never attract these deperately needed jobs until the face the massive crime problem in Milwaukee.
Does Mayor Barrett believe that Milwaukee is in crisis now, or are things just humming along perfectly?
Monday, December 11, 2006
Representative Kerkman has received the chairmanship for the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
Representative Kerkman is a staunch defender of the Wisconsin taxpayer.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 11, 2006
CONTACT: State Representative Samantha J. Kerkman 608-266-2530
Representative Kerkman Selected to Chair Ways and Means Committee
Madison - Representative Samantha Kerkman (R – Randall) has been named the chair of the State Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Assembly Speaker-elect Representative Mike Huebsch (R – West Salem) announced the appointment as well as other committee chairs today. This appointment reflects Representative Kerkman’s talent, background, and knowledge as well as her record and reputation relating to taxation and spending.
“I am truly honored that Representative Huebsch has faith in me to chair the Ways and Means Committee,” said Representative Kerkman. “This committee is important for the future of taxpayers in Wisconsin. We see bills ranging in subject from the taxpayer amendment, to senior tax credit, to T.I.F.’s. I am very excited for the committee work to begin.”
The Ways and Means Committee has traditionally helped shape tax and spending legislation for state and local governments that is not part of the state budget. All tax and spending policy that is not in the state budget will likely go to the Ways and Means committee.
“Representative Kerkman has a strong background on tax and fiscal policy having served as staff for the Joint Committee on Finance, and six years as a member of the Ways and Means Committee,” said Speaker-elect Huebsch, “The demands of this committee require a hard-working, dedicated Legislator, like Representative Kerkman. I have faith in her ability to lead this committee in the right direction for the tax payers of the state.”
This will be Representative Kerkman’s fourth term as a State Representative for the 66th district. Previously, she served as chair to the Budget Review Committee. She has been a member of the Ways and Means Committee for six years.
“Improving the tax climate for Wisconsin residents has always been my top priority,” said Representative Kerkman, “My work on the committee will allow me to have an even greater influence on the direction for our state.”
103 West State Capitol, P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708 • (608) 266-2530 • firstname.lastname@example.org
We are proud of you Representative Kerkman!
Editorial: Smoke, mirrors and garbage
In approving the 2007 budget, trustees plugged a deficit hole by taking garbage collection off the tax rolls and imposing a user fee of about $85 for residents who receive trash service. It's hardly the first time an area municipality has charged a fee for a service, and there is little doubt that the property tax is overburdened as a source of revenue for governments.
Alot of what this editorial talks about is correct, however, this same editorial staff does not seem to come down on Governor Jim Doyle for doing the same thing.
Governor Doyle and state legislators get a pass for the excessive amount of fees that we pay.
Think about the fees that you pay on the state level. For example, we pay for a driver's license, vehicle registration, hunting license, fishing license and the list goes on and on.
Yes, there is a cap on increasing taxes every year, but the state does allow for tax increases every year. If local governments feel they need money they have the means and the opportunity to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money in a referendum.
That's the way things should be...our government should answer to us, the taxpayer. Instead for too many years, we have answered to our government.
Now, local government officials have been forced to answer to us, however, we are still having a problem getting the state government to answer to us.
Yes, the local government should answer to us, however, the editorial staff at MJS and every single taxpayer should apply the same rules to state government.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Congressman Jefferson has not been charged or convicted of a crime, however, if he were a Republican, he would no longer be in office.
So is the Democrats way of cleaning up Congress?
His presence in Washington could be embarrassing for Democrats, who won control of Congress on a platform of cleaning up corruption. In June, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., led a successful effort to remove Jefferson from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee as the probe unfolded.
Why should we send one more dime down to New Orleans for hurricane cleanup when they elect a guy like this?
City Councilman Oliver Thomas said Jefferson's victory would make the recovery more difficult.
"People are watching this election all around the country and I can only imagine what they are thinking," Thomas said. "It will be very difficult to go back to them and ask them to trust us with the money we need here."
Edited to add-
Kevin at Lakeshore Laments live blogged the election in New Orleans. Kevin provides some helpful insight as he watched the election results come in. Check it out.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
In what was likely her final legislative act in Congress, outgoing Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill Friday to impeach President Bush.
The legislation has no chance of passing and serves as a symbolic parting shot not only at Bush but also at Democratic leaders. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment.
McKinney, a Democrat who drew national headlines in March when she struck a Capitol police officer, has long insisted that Bush was never legitimately elected. In introducing her legislation in the final hours of the current Congress, she said Bush had violated his oath of office to defend the Constitution and the nation's laws.
Friday, December 08, 2006
A couple of months ago, the UW system announced that they would take into account a person's skin color and ethnicity during the admission process.
Now the UW Regents are holding off.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents voiced support Thursday for a new admissions policy that would take into account the race, income and other non-academic factors of all applicants, not just some. But regents held off approving an official change to admissions policy after a state legislator warned of a public backlash.
The UW System administration had submitted to the regents a revised admissions policy designed to be more in line with a U.S. Supreme Court case upholding affirmative action. The 2003 decision, in two cases involving the University of Michigan, said public universities can consider race in admissions but only as one factor among many and only if all applicants are subjected to the same comprehensive review.
Under the UW System's current policy, most students are admitted solely on academic criteria, including ACT scores and class rank. Certain non-academic factors, including minority status, are to be considered for students who do not meet the criteria, but who can be admitted as "exceptions."
Under the revised policy, non-academic factors would be considered for all applicants. The factors would include "student experiences, leadership qualities, motivation, special talents, status as a non-traditional or returning adult, veteran, and whether the applicant is socio-economically disadvantaged or in an historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group."
Larry Rubin, the system's assistant vice president for academic affairs, told the regents the change was one of "form and style," and that academic criteria would continue to carry the most weight.
But state Rep. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater) said in a letter to UW System President Kevin Reilly that the new policy was worded in a way that put non-academic factors on equal footing with academics and that "the holistic admissions policy provides no protections against racial, ethnic or income profiling by admissions staff at UW System campuses."
In November, voters in Michigan rejected through a ballot initiative the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policy that had been formulated based on the Supreme Court decision. Nass warned the UW System of similar action in Wisconsin should the regents pass the policy without consulting with the Legislature.
"Do the people of Wisconsin need to be placed in the position of passing a similar constitutional amendment by overwhelming numbers simply because some officials in the UW System have an agenda that isn't representative of the middle class families financing public higher education in this state?" Nass wrote in the letter released Wednesday.
Nass staff member Mike Mikalsen said Thursday that a lot of legislators had concerns about holistic admissions and that it was "a hot-button issue" among constituents.
The revised admissions policy was scheduled to be voted on Thursday by the regents' Education Committee, and then by the full board today.
Danae Davis, chair of the Education Committee, said that while most regents supported the new policy, it would be good to hold off approving it until the regents had spent time educating legislators and the public about it. The committee agreed to postpone a vote until February.
"We're delaying action, but not because we don't agree (with the policy)," Davis said.
Regents' policies provide only a framework for admissions. The individual campuses craft more specific criteria used to determine which students to accept.
Beth Weckmueller, director of enrollment services at UW-Milwaukee, said Thursday that the university's faculty senate had approved revisions to its admissions policies to "explicitly" say that "while academics are most important, there are also other factors that include race and ethnicity."
The university's admissions criteria used to require a specific ACT score or class rank or combination of the two. Under the new campus policy, Weckmueller said, there will be no "specific cut-off score."
So does this mean that if a person has the right color of skin that they will receive an easier path into the UW system?
Sounds racist to me!
Won't it be nice when a student can actually fill out a application for admission to college and not have to check a box giving their race and ethnicity?