Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Bay Won't Be Seeing This Any Time Soon

The NFL is going to have a demo of a new 3D technology when they air next week's game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers:

Next week the National Football League is broadcasting live in 3D a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders to theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. The event, to be held December 4, is a demonstration to show how the technology can be used to provide a more realistic experience in a theater or in the home.

The NFL has invited representatives from consumer electronics companies to view the event in an effort to drum up support. In addition to showing the game on a big 3D screen, the demonstration will include television displays to show what could be possible in people's homes, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some consumer electronics makers have already begun making 3D television sets, mostly to accommodate DVDs that are available in 3D. But the industry is still working on standards for 3D.

Just as live sports entertainment has pushed the adoption of high-definition TVs, it could also help drive standards efforts and adoption of 3D TVs.

Those of us in Packer Nation won't have to worry about getting that any time soon, if the last this season is any indication. After all, why spend all that money for 3D vision when your team plays as flat as the Packers have?

Bush: I Want The Country To Be Delusional has a story, that I think is serious, but it sounds like something that should have been in the Onion. The story is about how Bush wishes he is remembered.
George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.

"I'd like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.

Unless he means that when he says liberated, he means dead, and by peace he means war, he apparently has been paying too much attention to what has been happening over there. That would explain why Osama bin Laden is still on the loose.

And that does not mention the rights and freedoms he has taken away from us as he systematically tore apart the Constitution.

"I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values."
Makes one wonder exactly what those values are. And does that soul comment mean that he didn't have one, or that he just gave it away instead of selling it?

He also said he wanted to be seen as a president who helped individuals, "that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package."

I will give Bush some credit for the aid that he sent to places like Africa and to Indonesia after the typhoon. Unfortunately, that pales compared to the absolutely horrendous way he mishandled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And the whole Medicare Part D business is a bunch of bullsh*t. All it was was a gift to Big Pharma and to Big Insurance. This year alone, the insurance companies are raising their premiums exponentially. He also set it up to be anything but a free market system by not allowing people to get cheaper medicine from Canada.

Bush added that every day during his eight-year presidency he had consulted the Bible and drawn comfort from his faith.

Perhaps he should've read it, instead of talking to it. If he had, he would have probably made some decisions very differently. Then again, maybe not.

No Reply At All

Denise Revels Robinson is the director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. She is supposed to be the one that is ultimately responsible for what happens in the child welfare system in Milwaukee County. This includes the recent death of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr., who was killed by his aunt/foster mother while he was in her care. She also put his sister through gruesome torture as well.

I've written about her before and stated that I thought she should be fired:

The first thing that should be done is to fire Denise Revels Robinson. She is a bureaucrat through and through. After every child's death, she would make the same statement to the effect of "We'll look into it and make the necessary corrections so that it will never happen again." That appeases the public until the next time a foster child dies. The the cycle starts all over.

Now, Crocker Stephenson, the reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is having problems with her as well:
Denise Revels Robinson is the director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, the agency responsible for placing and monitoring Christopher and his sister in the home where she suffered and he died.

I've never had the pleasure of talking to Robinson. Not for lack of trying.

A public servant whose salary is paid by you and me, she has yet to see fit to return our calls.

That ticks me off.


I do not understand how the director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare can have a baby beaten to death and a toddler tortured and not feel an obligation to appear in public to express her pain, to extend her condolences, to explain what happened and what she is going to do about it.

Revels Robinson is failing to do every aspect of her job. She is not being held accountable for anything. That is why I am concerned that those fine people that are planning on holding a protest regarding Christopher's death are wasting their time. After ten years of not doing her job, despite numerous deaths under her watch, she still seems present no indication that she is about to take any responsibility that is supposed to come with the job.

The time has come to hold her boss, Reggie Bicha, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, accountable to his duties. He is the one that not only has to give us the answers that Revels Robinson won't, but also answer what he is going to do with his employee, that is willfully refusing to do her job.

Who's The Most Culpable?

On Friday, I pointed out what I considered to be part of the reason that we continue to see animalistic behavior by people shopping on Black Friday. One of the tragedies of that day was the trampling death of a worker at Wal-Mart:
Cell phone video obtained by CBS 2 HD shows Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old part-time employee hired as a holiday temp. He was crushed in the onslaught and pronounced dead an hour later. As responding Nassau police and paramedics tried to save him, they were also jostled and pushed to the ground.
The latest reports indicate that the police are looking at surveillance tapes to identify people that were part of the riot and look into possible charges. That is as how it should be.

There is also some question of the liability of Wal-Mart in this incident:
His cousin, Nicole Jean, was on the phone to Damour's mother in Haiti Friday evening trying to help her arrange a flight to New York. His father, Orgera Charles, seemed shell-shocked at his apartment in Flushing, saying "He didn't get married. He didn't have the baby yet."

Nicole Jean said Damour's supervisor at the temp service where he worked complained that Wal-Mart wasn't using him for the intended job.
"He wasn't supposed to be working security on the door," she quoted him as saying. She seemed to be blaming the store for creating the situation that lead to the man's death.
It perplexes me that a company as big as Wal-Mart is using temp agencies, even for holiday help, but that is not the main issue.

The management of the store should have expected a rush on Friday morning. We see the stories on the news every year. It makes me question what kind of preparation did they make to handle the predictably high volume of people.

Mr. Damour was apparently hired for a different job, and Wal-Mart wasn't using him for the job that they hired for him. That appears to be a bit of a bait and switch scam. Did they hire him for a lower paying job and decided to use him in the more costly position of security, a job he wasn't apparently trained to do? If so, they willingly put Mr. Damour, their other employees and their customers in harm's way. Just for the sake of shaving a few bucks off their operating costs.

I doubt that the authorities will be looking into that aspect of things. However, I would expect that there will be some sort of civil lawsuit from the family of Mr. Damour, but even then, it will probably be settled quietly out of court, and we will see a rerun of this year after year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping Madness, Indeed And In Deed

As I said this morning, I had to work today. In truth, I didn't have to. I could've taken off, but I chose to go in so that someone else could have the day off.

I chose to go to work because, well, besides having a boatload of work to do, I didn't feel like wasting a day off. I refuse to go to the stores on Black Friday, and for good reason. It brings out the basest nature of people.

This year, unfortunately, was no exception.

We have seen a report of an argument in southern California that led to two morons pulling out guns and shooting each other to death. At a toy store, none the less.

And in New York, we have the story of thousands of people so anxious to get whatever doodads they had on sale at Wally World that they broke down the door and stampeded into the store. In the resulting melee, one man was trampled to death and a woman who was eight months pregnant was injured to the point of losing her baby.

There is also this video showing a brawl at a Wally World over a some video games. I don't know which disturbs me most: The melee over an overpriced toy or the idiot taking the video and laughing about it.

And it's not only the shoppers or the store employees, but other people, who are just trying to go about with their lives, like my friend Billiam states in his strongly worded (read: adult language) on how his morning went while making deliveries to a store. (Here's a hint: It wasn't a happy one.)

The question Billiam and others like him and me are asking is: What the f**k is going on here? Many blame it on people being selfish, the me generation on steroids, if you will. They would get partial credit for that answer. The same holds true that would put it on mere materialism.

I believe that we are seeing the results of a combination of factors. Selfishness and materialism are parts of the entire problem.

I think the greater problem is that people have lost touch with themselves. All too often, people don't want to take a good look at themselves, because that might be too uncomfortable or even painful to them. It is even more uncomfortable to either accept the parts that they don't like, but have no control over, or to try to consciously try to change what they can.

But even if they actively avoid taking a hard, honest look at themselves, their subconscious is still aware of it. An example: The alcoholic that is in full denial of his disease, still knows, deep down, that is life is out of control. But instead of admitting he has a problem, and seeking help for it, tries to drown it out with more alcohol and/or anger. Thus the cycle continues.

The same is true for most of us.

To make matters worse, is that if we can't be honest and open with ourselves, we cannot do it with other people. You may love someone, be it a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or anyone else, but if you don't accept yourself, you won't believe that they will accept you either.

To cover up that fear and that anxiety, we seek out materialistic things to make us feel better and/or more attractive. We go after the status symbol crap. The big screen TVs, where people think bigger is better. The new sports car. The furs. Jewelry. We also think that if we give these things to other people, they will like us better. That is, unfortunately, usually true, because they are going through the same denial of feelings that we are.

This has snowballed to the point that crap like we saw today happens with way too much frequency. There is no object, no matter how big, how fancy or how expensive, that is worth anyone's life.

What people seem to have forgotten is that it is the little things, that usually cost nothing or next to nothing, that mean the most.

Last winter, I had my first meeting with another blogger, Billiam. Bill gave me the best Christmas present I could have asked for: his friendship. For this I am ever humble and grateful.

Owen Robinson and I don't see eye to eye on almost everything. Yet, Owen has given me advice and helped me out throughout my entire blogging career. Even though I still think his politics is completely wrong, I still know Owen to be a good man. But his help, meant more to me than anything he could've bought for me, even if he was inclined to.

Jay Bullock gave me the opportunity, the guidance and the reassurance to get me into this whole crazy business of blogging. This required a risk on his part (not knowing what a complete goof I can be) and a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of patience. How do I repay this? I can't, except to say that I am damn proud to call him a friend.

There are many others: Tim Rock, James Widgerson, Dad29, commenter Dan, Gretchen Schuldt, Dan Cody, Illy-T, the Mathiases, the list goes on and on. They might not always agree with me, but they have all treated me with enough courtesy for me to be grateful. I would rather have their friendship (or the blogging equivalence anyway) than any materialistic gift.

And of course, the greatest gift I ever got, the one that makes the brightest diamond seem like a river pebble, that makes the biggest flat screen TV look like a poster board, that makes the fanciest car seem like a rusty roller skate, is the love I get from my wife every day.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my long, overly verbose, meandering way is that people need to realize the greatest thing they could give to another person is their time, their friendship, and good memories. Those are the things that should matter. And until we remember this, I am afraid that the idiocy that we saw today, will only continue.

Deer Hunting Terrorists In Waukesha County

What is going on in Wisconsin? It's like a madness.

First, we have deer hunting thugs that are shooting up people's homes.

Now, we have deer hunting terrorists dumping the bodies of their victims in full sight of a day care center. This did not make the little tykes happy, to be sure.

I wonder if there is a correlation between blaze orange and mental illness.

I Don't Want To Hear It

I have to work today. So for all of you that are going to be among the insane and go shopping on Black Friday, are going off to do some traveling, or are just going to sleep in and then lay around the house eating leftover turkey and pumpkin pie, I just don't want to hear it. And before you tell me about it, let me tell you something first:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When Will They Fix Foster Care?

I have been trying to point out the problems in the Milwaukee County child welfare system for a year and a half. The recent death of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr. is the most recent example of how dysfunctional the system really is. Ten children have died in the system in the last eighteen months alone. After each child that has had to suffer and even die, I quietly hope that this might be the one that finally gets the public motivated enough to demand changes before another kid dies. But as each child died, and nothing was done, I kept losing more and more of that faint hope.

Poor Christopher, and his grieving family, have been getting a lot of coverage now that he is dead. I thank and commend the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and reporter Crocker Stephenson for not letting this one go. At least not yet.

When MJS reported that there was a protest being planned regarding Christopher's murder, I became more hopeful that finally, after a decade of neglect, something positive might, just might, come out of this horrific tragedy.

But as I read more about said protest, my hopes began diminishing again. The protest will be outside of one of the branch offices of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, and not the main office, or even better, the State Building. The announcement of the protest reads:
"Please join me in a protest for justice, for changes to be made in the foster care and adoption system, and for holding abusers accountable and the system accountable for their actions. Too many children have been placed in harm's way too many times, and it needs to stop. We can make a difference if we stand together."
While holding the individual worker* accountable is a fine start, that won't change the problem and it won't prevent further tragedies like the one that Christopher and his sister experienced.
All that will happen is that worker will get fired, and probably his or her supervisor as well. Meanwhile, the private agency that is contracted to do the work will still continue to reap profits without providing the necessary services.

There may be an outside chance that the outside agency will even lose their contract to provide the services. All that means is that another one will step in and the cycle will start anew. I've seen it all before, and I am seeing nothing to make me believe this will be any different.

I've said it time and time again, but to fix the foster care system is going to be a big job. And to be perfectly honest, I do not think it will ever happen.

The first thing that should be done is to fire Denise Revels Robinson. She is a bureaucrat through and through. After every child's death, she would make the same statement to the effect of "We'll look into it and make the necessary corrections so that it will never happen again." That appeases the public until the next time a foster child dies. The the cycle starts all over.

The next step is for the system to be brought back to local control. Many of the social workers employed by the state or the private agencies aren't even citizens of Milwaukee County. I personally knew of one private agency manager who didn't even live in the state. These workers aren't as invested in the community, and aren't as familiar with the cultural differences from their life in the burbs and what life is like in the inner city, as someone that is from the area.

Along with bringing the system back under local control, it should also be put back in the public sector. I understand the popularity of the myth that privatization is a money saver, but the fact is that some things should not be held under sway of the bottom line and of profit margins. Taking care of these most vulnerable children is one of these things where accountability is more important than profitability.

But if any of these suggestions, or any other efforts to make a significant improvement to the system is going to happen, the only thing that can do that is if we hold the lawmakers in Madison accountable for doing their jobs and improving the system. That is why I worked so hard in trying to convince people not to re-elect Alberta Darling to the state senate. She not only had a hand in creating this monstrosity, she is on the committee that is supposed to oversee it and make any changes so that these children don't keep suffering. She hasn't done it in ten years, and now that she is freshly re-elected, I don't expect her to start doing the right thing now.

For what it's worth, I am also deeply disappointed in Governor Doyle in his failure to act in six years in correcting the system. Of all the state-level elected officials, I thought he would have done the best thing for the children by now.

Underlying all of the above issues though, is the public sentiment. Social services isn't a sexy thing, and when money is tight, and government spending has to be cut, social services is always the first thing on the chopping block. To have enough invested workers, and enough resources like therapists, transportation companies, etc., it all cost money, and lots of it. But if politicians were to dedicate sufficient funding to foster care to make it work the best it can, either taxes would have to go up, or more popular things, like building new highways and interchanges would have to be scaled back and/or cancelled. For a politician or a group of politicians to do this, they would immediately come under assault of talk radio and conservative groups like AFP or CRG.

It also doesn't help that there are people out there that would rather continue with their racist blame games rather than look at the actual issues, much less do something constructive to prevent further catastrophes.

So while I am slightly hopeful that, at long last, enough has been more than enough, and people will start demanding the needed changes, my experience in the field tells me not to get my hopes to high. This is a real shame, because it will mean that Christopher died in vain, just like all of those other boys and girls that died while in foster care.

*The way the news is playing out, I have two suspicions. One, the worker(s) responsible are employees of a private agency, else they would have been named already. Secondly, giving my more than passing familiarity with the system and the games they like to play, I would not be at all surprised to find out that the case was assigned to a vacant work zone, and the name of the worker is someone that had already left the agency, or had just been hired but wasn't really on the job yet. The BMCW and its subcontractors like to administratively fudge things like this to keep costs down and still remain in compliance with state and federal regulations.

Blowing Bubbles In The Pool

Sometimes, it is not only acceptable, but down right cool to be blowing bubbles while in the pool:

Video via Janet Evans.

Sick sounding title that will be sure to get me all the hits that Elliot tries for, all my idea.

Today's Psych Lesson

Since my friend, Brew City Brawler, has dubbed me "the Sidney Freedman of the hate left," I feel obliged to give the occasional lesson in psychology.

I am sure that the gentle reader is aware that sometimes a psychological phenomenon can occur to a group of people, rather than just an individual. Examples of this type of phenomenon would be mass hypnosis or mass hysteria.

As I was scrolling through my reader this evening, I read a post by the Reasonable Progressive (who I just added to the blogroll - sorry for the delay, RP), who was defending the honor of DA John Chisolm. The post was inspired by the usual hateful rhetoric that is all to commonly found in the comments thread of Badger Blogger (which would be more aptly named Badger Romper Room until the proprietor starts enforcing some decorum over there).

For the record, as I commented on RP's site, I personally think that Chisolm is doing alright. A couple of cases that I have been following, like the murder of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr. and the reckless homicide of Alexander Orlowski.

As I read through the distasteful and immature string of insults and ad hominem attacks on myself and others, it occurred to me that I was witnessing a new and previously undiagnosed group psychological event.

I believe that the best name for this new discovery would be: Mass Napoleon Complex.

It also appears to be much more common among male right wing bloggers and talk show hosts for some reason. I will leave it to the gentle reader to figure out why that may be.

Happy Roasted Dead Bird Day

Or as it is more commonly known, Happy Thanksgiving. Take some time out today to appreciate the good things in life.

Any my most sincere wishes that your holiday doesn't blow.

And for your viewing pleasure, two of my favorite turkey related clips (sorry, I couldn't find the one of Dad29 making popcorn turkey). First, the famous turkey drop from WKRP in Cincinnati:

The other is actually for Christmas, but it is still funny. It's Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

7.5% Of State Residents Are Hermits

Via, has issued a press release regarding Brett Favre's falling popularity:
Brett Favre may be having another memorable season -- this time with the New York Jets -- but since he's shed the green-and-gold jersey, No. 4's popularity has plummeted in Wisconsin, a new poll says.

Last December, scientific polling showed Favre with a 73 percent favorable rating -- far ahead of any state politician.

But a poll earlier this month using the same methodology showed his favorable rating had dived to 48 percent.
Now, none of this should really surprise anyone. Favre behaved just as poorly as the Packer management during the whole retire/unretire fiasco that happened this past summer. That was sure to cost him some fans right there.

More fans probably are angry because he is having a great year again, but this time with the New York Jets. Meanwhile, Ted Thompson's Packers are going to be lucky if they hit .500 this year. This is sure to cause some jealousy and hurt feelings. But instead of taking it out on the ones that deserve it, the Packer management in general and Turd Thompson specifically, they just have sour grapes.

The surprising thing are the actual breakdown of stats (emphasis mine):
"Brett Favre" (600 total responses)

Favorable 47.8% (287 responses)
Unfavorable 24.0% (144)
No opinion 20.6% (124)
Never heard of 7.5% (45)
After 16 years of playing with the Packers, including two SuperBowl appearances and one SuperBowl ring, and the years of will he/won't he retire nonsense, and the heavy, and I do mean heavy, media saturation over the summer with the retirement/unretirement/trade to the Jets, how the hell did 7.5% of the people not even hear of Brett Favre?

Deer Hunting Thugs

From the Sheriff's Report in the Waupaca County Post (sorry, no link):
On the first weekend of deer hunting, at least five area residents call the Waupaca County Sheriff's Department regarding gunshots into their homes or outbuildings. Nobody was reported injured.

A slug came through a living room in the N500 block of County Trunk A in Lind on Saturday morning.

Three gunshots went into two buildings in the E6800 block of Guth Road in Royalton on Saturday.

A slug came through a window of a home on Mountain View Lane, Waupaca, on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, a shot came thourgh a patio door in the N8600 block of Blue Mountain Road, Ogdensburg.

Also on Sunday, shots were fired into homes in the E100 block of State Highway 161 in rural Iola.
I certainly hope that the police round up all of these blaze-orange-wearing thugs and lock 'em up and through away the key.

I also find it very telling that the other people that partake in this vile and disgusting pastime refuse to come forward and denounce the others for their acts of violence against law abiding, hard working people just trying to make it through life in honest, peaceful ways. It must be because they are all feeding into this "Stop the snitchin'" philosophy.

Disturbing Stories

When I heard the story of someone, while burgling an apartment in Green Bay, stuck the puppy in the oven, I was aghast.

But nearly as much as when I read the story from the Reasonable Progressive.

The Power Of Positive Thinking

I guess there is something to that Biblical directive of "Ask, and ye shall receive."

We asked.

And so far, it seems we have received.

Unfortunately, as there is every year, there is some bad news regarding the hunt as well.

Real ID Is A Real Bad IDea

This is where Nick Schweitzer and I agree. Real ID is a real bad idea. It accomplishes nothing but raising our taxes and giving Big Brother another tool to invade our privacy.

Nick lays out the flaws really well here. The only thing I would add is that we can thank Wisconsin's own Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner for ramrodding this idiot thing through.

(I had to add that Sensenbrenner part for two reasons. One, it's true. Two, I don't want Elliot to think I'm becoming a Libertarian.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now Back To Our Regular Scheduled Programming

I realize that most people who read this site also read the site that brought me into the blogging world, folkbum's rambles and rants. But just in case one of my 5.3 readers wasn't aware, Jay Bullock, top rambler and ranter over there, is my friend and did a lot to help me get on my way to this "successful" blogsite.

So when he put out a notice that he was looking for help, I figured I owed it to him to put up some of my Pulitzer Prize Nominee caliber posts, just so he can get two or three more hits to the gazillion he gets every day.

I wrote about the life and the death of Alexander Orlowski, and inmate at the House of Correction that died from an accidental overdose.

Tonight, I wrote about the aftermath of his death.

But for now, I will be returning to normal and trying to split myself in two ways, instead of three, as I try to keep up here and over there.

The Future's So Dark, I Gotta Wear Shades

Months ago, I lamented Ted Thompson's decision to trade Brett Favre away to the Jets. I felt that Thompson's job was to put the best team he could on the field, and that meant starting Favre over Aaron Rodgers.

But capper, I was told, you gotta give them a chance. Ted Thompson knows what he's doing, I was told. Aaron Rodgers is the future, Brett Favre is a has-been, they told me.

Mr. Has-Been just beat the previously undefeated Titans yesterday in a perfectly managed game. ESPN reports that the Jets have been buoyed this year by one key factor - Favre. Mr. Has-Been and the Jets are now 8-3 and leading a tough division.

Meanwhile, Mr. Future, eh, not so much. Mr. Future and the Pack are now 5-6, and are only above the winless Lions in a weak division.

Now, don't get me wrong. This loss is not all Rodgers fault, although he sure did his share to contribute to it. No, this kind of miserable showing takes the entire team, including the coaching staff.

All of whom were put there by Ted Thompson.

Can Thompson be charged with high treason for what he did to the Pack?

And as always:

Monday, November 24, 2008

He Was Better Off With The Cover-Up

A couple of weeks ago, Dan Bice, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote about Sheriff David Clarke trying to help a drunk driver out of a snowbank. Clarke then started with a cover up by putting the deputy who actually did her job under investigation for unknown allegations. Of course, this would cause one to speculate about what Clarke was trying to hide.

Apparently feeling the heat from this story, Clarke then tried to throw up a distraction by blasting a dispatcher for *gasp* doing his job the way he was trained to.

Now, Dan Bice finally gets Clarke to talk and give his side of the drunk driver story. First, Clarke gives some lame story that despite being there for at least a half hour, helping the drunk driver trying to get out the keys that he locked in his car, and then trying to push and pull the car out of the snowbank. During all this time, he somehow fails to notice the beer cans in the car or that the guy reeks of alcohol.

Then he comes up with this tidbit:

The sheriff said he called dispatch to get assistance from another officer. While waiting, Clarke said he requested Allen's license, and the driver gave him a state-issued ID instead.

Clarke said he gave the ID card to Santoro when she arrived and that she soon found out that Allen's license was suspended.

The sheriff said he then headed home, leaving it to Santoro and a second deputy to resolve the matter. Contrary to Allen's comments, Clarke said he wasn't in a hurry to get home; otherwise, he said he wouldn't have stopped. But he said his work at the scene was complete.

"I was done," Clarke said. "I didn't even follow up the next day."

Felber, the union rep, disputed the sheriff's statement that he called dispatch, saying there is no evidence for that. Felber also said Santoro was the first to ask Allen for his driver's license. Allen said the same thing, adding that he thought Clarke was going to let him go.

Asked about their statements, the sheriff responded with an expletive.
Not being satisfied with shooting himself in the foot like that, Clarke thought he'd go even further. He then criticizes the deputy for not collecting the beer cans, stating that the drunk driver could have gotten the charges dropped because of the "lack of evidence." Clarke then added that the drunk driver could still have the charges dropped if he appealed the conviction.

Only problem is that what Clarke is stating is not true. From Bice's column:

No doubt, the drunken driver appreciates the free legal help.

But, as it turns out, the advice is worth what Allen paid for it.

Chisholm said state law allows police to destroy evidence once a case is resolved. Since Allen was convicted in March, Chisholm said there would be no need to hang onto the cans after that, particularly on an ordinance violation.

In addition, the chief prosecutor said, Allen couldn't challenge his conviction based on the fact that the cops don't have his old beer cans.

"That's not going to cut it," Chisholm said. "The only reason the can is relevant is for a Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) stop motion, and he would have been considered to have waived that right by entering a plea."

Clarke would have been better off stopping with the cover up. The worst that would happen is that he'd have someone like me telling his 5.3 readers that Clarke isn't very good at his job. Instead, he goes ahead and proves it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gay Marriage Bans: Present Day Jim Crow Laws

Patrick McIlheran, one of the many columnists at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, had a piece in the paper last week celebrating the passing of California's Proposition 8, which effectively banned gay marriage, even after it was legalized. In the column, he wrote:

Just so we're clear, the ongoing gay rage after California's vote isn't about benefits. California's civil unions were materially indistinguishable from marriage. That state's supreme court said so when it ruled that this wasn't enough.

Nor is it about having a family. Gay couples have those. Billboards around our town point this out. As one woman among the 200 protesters in downtown Milwaukee last weekend put it, "We want our family recognized."

Which is to say it's not about gay people at all. It's about you. Their love isn't at issue. Your love for their love is.

Employer benefits were the marquee scare two years ago when Wisconsin voters kept marriage as the one-woman-one-man affair it's been for millenniums. The amendment would have a chilling effect on employers, which would stop offering benefits to gay partners, we were told.


The benefits argument was always bogus, as are claims of any other legal disability. In Wisconsin, laws against gay sex are two decades gone. Anyone may adopt; anyone may sign an advance directive and let a lover be at a hospital bedside. No rights were impaired by our amendment. None will be by California's.

The thing the California amendment will stop is not a right at all. It is a demand that everyone else grant to two people's relationship the same public esteem that society has reserved for marriages. That's why the California justices ruled that whatever same-sex unions were called, ordinary marriages must use the same word. The court wanted any distinction erased.

PaddyMac then goes on to point out that many religions denounce homosexuality. That is true. In our country, one of the predominate arguments from those opposed to allowing equal rights to homosexuals use their religious beliefs as the reason. Dad29 and my friend Billiam are fine examples of this.

I respect he religious beliefs of all three men, and anyone else who also feels that way. However, even though I do respect their beliefs, and their reasons for feeling the urge to oppose gay marriage, they are still wrong. I am not saying they are wrong for believing the way they do, but that their beliefs are not necessarily germane to the situation at hand.

Their argument is invalid for a couple, three reasons.

One, as I've already argued, their is growing evidence that homosexuality is not a choice, or a behavior, but really is a result of having a differently-sized hypothalamus. That means that to discriminate against homosexuality would be to discriminate against someone with a specific physical quality, which is what bigotry is all about - opposing that which is different from us.

Secondly, while many of the founding fathers were religious, either Christian or deist, the country isn't a theocracy. It is a country of laws, the main law being the United States Constitution and all the subsequent amendments. Many of the amendments have to do with the protection of people's rights. They include giving equal rights to people regardless of the genetic/biological make up. It doesn't matter if a person is white or black, male or female, normally-abled or physically challenged, they all deserve, and are supposed to receive, equal rights. So why doesn't this apply to people with a differently-sized gland in their brain?

I also have some concern about the whole religious-based argument that Paddy and the others opposed to giving equal rights to homosexuals. It smacks to much like the old Jim Crow laws, and the lines of argument supporting them. Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan, has a website for their Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. From that site, I found this page, and this explanation of the Jim Crow laws (emphasis mine):

Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-Black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-Black racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that Whites were the Chosen people, Blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that Blacks were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to Whites. Pro-segregation politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the mongrelization of the White race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to Blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-Black stereotypes. Even children's games portrayed Blacks as inferior beings (see "From Hostility to Reverence: 100 Years of African-American Imagery in Games"). All major societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of Blacks.

That mirrors the arguments of the anti-gay marriage people. The Bible teaches us it's wrong. It's against Natural Law. Other people with other belief systems also think it's wrong. It is a threat to heterosexual marriages.

The third thing wrong with Paddy's argument is that homosexuals do NOT enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. He even points out a fine example, himself, with the advanced directive. While I would recommend that everyone have an advance directive, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, not everyone needs it.

If I were in an accident, was seriously injured, and was unable to make any decisions regarding my health care, my wife would have the legal right to make those decisions, with or without a directive. Gay couples don't have that right, they need the piece of paper to exercise that right, and even then, the injured person's family can, and often has, interfered with treatment in spite of the paperwork.

Same goes for children. If a gay person has or adopts a child, and then passes away for whatever reason, history shows that the partner often doesn't have a legal right to have a say in court about what happens to the child, much less to take care of him or her for the rest of their childhood.

While the Bible is much more explicit in its language against homosexuality than it is against blacks, there are many Biblical aspects regarding homosexuality that society has already moved beyond. For example, the Bible calls for homosexuals to be put to death. Except for the stories of some thugs beating a gay person to death just because of their orientation, even the most conservative and faithful American doesn't advocate for that. And those thugs weren't using their beliefs as motivators for the heinous crimes, just their bigotry and hatred of those who are different.

The Bible also endorses slavery and not giving equal rights to women. And we moved past those as well.

Isn't it time that we move past this level of bigotry already?

I'd Be Rich...

...if I learned out to create a program that includes a random generator and some goofy rating scale for bloggers, and a way to get paid every time someone clicked on it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Popcorn Turkey

Last year, I put up a post at folkbum's giving readers a chance to try a new Thanksgiving Day recipe. Just in case one of my 5.3 readers missed it, I will repost it here:
An oldie, but a goodie...

Here is a Thanksgiving Turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing - imagine that.

When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.


10-12 lb. Turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
5 cups uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER 'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush Turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and flies across the room, it's done.

Imagine the look on your loved ones' faces as you show off your culinary skills.
WARNING: If you decide to try this recipe (and you won't be sorry if you do) please print out the recipe and follow it exactly. Mr. Know-It-All, Dad29, didn't do that when he tried it last year and ended up with, shall we say, less than perfect results. (The good news is that Mom29 and the children are progressing nicely in therapy, and should be released from the hospital in another year or two. Unfortunately, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Dog29.)

The Longest Time Of The Year

I am really beginning to dislike late November.

I used to look forward to the coming winters because that was about the only time of the year that my sinuses weren't bothering me. Now that I'm getting older, I still like winter, but I am finding that with each passing year, it is taking my body longer and longer to adjust to the cold. And the extreme cold temperatures bother me when they never used to. And the snow. After last year, I really am not a big fan of snow anymore.

Novembers are even worse in election years. The adrenaline rush of the election is wearing off for most people now. Plus now that the election is done, the number of hits I'm getting is way off. I went from 5.7 down to 5.3. Per week.

And don't even get me going on the holidays. People stressing out about being ready for Turkey Day, and all the Christmas ads are already driving me crazy. I do still appreciate the dissonance of seeing stores with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations up at the same time. I'm waiting for the Santa Claus dressed up like a pilgrim going trick or treating.

But these three weeks are the absolute worst for Casa Capper. I'm talking about deer hunting season. As my 5.3 readers know, my wife and I love going up north. It is relaxing for both of us to get away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, and a chance to enjoy the peace, the tranquility and the beauty that can only be found in the north woods.

One of the things we enjoy the most are the birds and the animals (except for chippers and raccoons). The last couple of times, we were able to witness a flock of about 30-40 goldfinches flittering about the feeders. We both sat and watched them for hours. Then their are all the other birds, like the chickadee that ate out my hand.

We are also fortunate to be regularly visited by a family of flying squirrels. I lose track of time as I try to get them used to my presence. They haven't eaten out my hand yet, but I have gotten close.

For mrs. capper, the big draw is the deer. She has always loved deer. We did the typical Wisconsin honeymoon at the Wisconsin Dells, and her absolute favorite part (well, second favorite - I hope) was the Wisconsin Deer Park. I will never forget the awe in her voice the first time we went there and she just said, "Oh, honey! Look at all the deer!" I don't think I'll see many times when she might be happier then that time, surrounded by deer.

Now we have our own deer park in the back yard. We put a little corn out for them. (Yes, Mr. DNR Ranger Man, only two gallons at a time, within the allotted distance from the castle.)

As dusk settles, she will sit by the back window in the kitchen for hours just to see her deer. There are a number of them that we have grown to recognize just by their color, special markings, and/or behaviors. One of them is a gorgeous twelve point buck that she has named, of course, Bambi. We have watched Bambi grow up from a fawn over the past several years, and have grown to think of him, and the others, as "our" deer.

We have grown so attached to them that we no longer go up to the castle during hunting season. It is too hurtful for us to hear the guns and see the field dressed deer on the back of trucks, vans and SUVs.

Oh, I understand the need for the hunt. Two, three years ago, in the melting snow of the spring, I found the body of a doe that had died near the path. She had a broken leg, presumably from being hit by a car, and was unable to find enough food. She must have suffered as she laid down to die.

But even though I understand the need to cull the herd, it doesn't mean I have to like it.

But I do have some expectations for the hunters out there:
  • If you shoot a deer, and its not dead, spend the money and put it out of its misery. I once saw a hunter that sat there waiting for the deer to die a slow, painful death. I ended up doing it for him, the cheap bastard.
  • If you got to go hunting, and get a deer, use the meat. Either for yourself or donate it to a pantry. Otherwise, your just a sick type of sadist.
  • Don't call it a sport. It's not. A sport is a contest between equals. If you want it to be a sport, give the deer high powered rifles, let them use six packs as bait, and models as decoys. What it is now is just a expurgated form of assassination.
Meanwhile, my wife and I will be staying in the city, worrying about our deer. They've survived this long, which means that they are either smart, damn lucky, or both. After that, we will be going up there every weekend until we are sure whether or not they made it through another killing season.

With all sincerity, I do hope that the hunters have a safe trip, enjoy the company they're with, come back with lots of funny jokes they'll share with us, and that no one gets hurt.

But you'll have to forgive me if I do cheer for the deer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Budget Blast: '09 Final Edition

From the County Board, a break down of all the override votes, including how each member voted on each issue:


Board overrides 22 of county executive’s 29 budget vetoes

Milwaukee, WI - Wednesday afternoon, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted to override 22 of the 29 budget vetoes handed down by County Executive Scott Walker earlier this week. The final 2009 Budget will raise the County’s property tax levy by 3.1% percent, the lowest Milwaukee County increase in three years and well below the mean average increase of 3.54% for other counties, municipalities and taxing authorities in southeastern Wisconsin.

The County portion of property taxes on a City of Milwaukee home worth $150,000 last year (now valued at $153,800 this year due to the average citywide assessment increase) will increase an average of $12.04.

Votes from Wednesday's veto override meeting:

1. Denying the creation of a Grants Writer/Coordinator position at the County Board. (Effect of veto: $80,044 tax levy reduction.) 13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo)

2. Eliminating the $125,000 appropriation for services to the Men of Color Task Force. (Effect of veto: $125,000 tax levy reduction.) 13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo, Weishan)

3. Partially vetoing the Recommended Budget by eliminating language and funding for a salary increase for the County Executive’s Chief of Staff. (Effect of veto: $23,987 tax levy reduction.)
3-16, veto sustained (Yes: Coggs, Johnson, Holloway)

4. Eliminating a $100,000 tax levy appropriation for the Summer Youth Employment Program. (Effect of veto: $100,000 tax levy reduction.) 15-4 to override (Borkowski, Cesarz, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

5. Eliminating a $60,000 appropriation for maintenance of the floor structure in the laboratory area of the Technology Innovation Center. (Effect of veto: $60,000 tax levy reduction.)
13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

6. Removing language related to the use of $1,500,000 added to the Appropriation for Contingencies. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 12-7, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo)

7. Denying the restoration of funding for certain Combined Courts Related Operations positions. (Effect of veto: $1,312,846 tax levy reduction.) 16-3 to override (Borkowski, Cesarz, Sanfelippo)

8. Denying funding for certain Register of Deeds positions and offsetting revenue. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo)

9. Denying funding for the Community Justice Resource Center. (Effect of veto: $983,011 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo)

10. Denying funding for Wisconsin Community Service contract job development and job readiness services to House of Correction inmates. (Effect of veto: $242,217 tax levy reduction.))
13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

11. Denying the appropriation for the Farm and Fish Hatchery, reducing House of Correction revenue, and removing language that earmarks funding for this service in the Appropriation for Contingencies. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Clark, Rice, Sanfelippo)

12. Denying the restoration of Transit Route 11. (Effect of veto: $516,996 tax levy reduction.)
14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

13. Denying the reduction in various Transit fares, and reducing the Department on Aging CMO co-pay for Paratransit rides. (Effect of veto: $880,500 tax levy reduction.) 15-4 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo)

14. Denying appropriations for the Sister Cities program, Transit fare reductions and Summer Youth Employment, and offsetting parking revenues related to the 6th and State Streets parking lot. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

15. Denying the restoration of skilled trades positions and restoring funding for contracted services. (Effect of veto: $1,361,481 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Rice, Sanfelippo)

16. Denying the restoration of housekeeping positions at the Behavioral Health Division. (Effect of veto: $1,195,326 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

17. Denying the restoration of positions and the appropriation of consulting funds for the DHHS Call Center, and allowing for a contract for call center services. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 11-8, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Broderick, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

18. Denying the restoration of certain Behavioral Health Division positions relating to accounts receivable, billing and admission services. (Effect of veto: $277,430 tax levy reduction.)
14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

19. Denying the restoration of certain Parks Department positions and allowing the use of seasonal positions in the Parks. (Effect of veto: $1,834,375 tax levy reduction.) 14-4 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo)

20. Denying the appropriation for recreation and exercise equipment for the King and Kosciuszko Community Centers. (Effect of veto: $50,000 tax levy reduction.) 12-7, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

21. Removing language related to the use of funds for America’s Black Holocaust Museum. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.) 11-8, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

22. Reducing the appropriation for UW-Extension relocation and space costs. (Effect of veto: $100,000 tax levy reduction.) 14-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Clark, Rice, Sanfelippo)

23. Eliminating the appropriation for the UW-Extension Horticulture Helpline. (Effect of veto: $12,400 tax levy reduction.) 16-3 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo)

24. Removing language to direct that the Director of DAS prepare an appropriation transfer in the fourth quarter of 2009 to move funds from funded but vacant positions to the Appropriation for Contingencies account. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction.). 10-9, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Coggs, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt, Thomas)

25. Denying the appropriation for bicycle racks on MCTS Buses. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction and a $32,500 general obligation bonding reduction.)
16-3 to override (Borkowski, Cesarz, Sanfelippo)

26. Denying the appropriation for cart paths at the Brown Deer Golf Course. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction and a $141,000 general obligation bonding reduction.) 13-5 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

27. Denying the appropriation for the reconstruction of the two Lion Bridges in Lake Park. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction and a $450,000 general obligation bonding reduction.)
14-4 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Sanfelippo, Schmitt)

28. Denying the appropriation for planning and schematic level design for the construction of a new Mental Health Center. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction and a $750,000 general obligation bonding reduction.). 10-9, veto sustained (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Clark, Jursik, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Thomas, West)

29. Denying the appropriation for the purchase of a new pavement marking machine. (Effect of veto: $0 tax levy reduction and a $250,000 general obligation bonding reduction.) 13-6 to override (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Jursik, Rice, Sanfelippo)

30. Veto of the tax levy increase. (item not necessary)

The next regular meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Thursday, December 18, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Of Boons Granted And Gauntlets Tossed Down

The Boon

Elliot, over at From Where I Sit, has sent out a plea of collaboration, in which if someone posts about him, he will return the favor. He claims it is about turning readers on to each other's sites. I really think it is the spirit of change and bipartisanship (actually, tripartisanship) inspired by the election of Barack Obama to be our next president, although he would never admit it.

Either way, I decided to grant his request. Twice.

Elliot Stearns is an interesting fellow. He is also a complicated fellow.

He claims to be a Libertarian. At first, given his focus on reading and that he is an aspiring (and inspiring) author, I originally thought he meant librarian. After reading more of his blog, I realized he did indeed mean Libertarian, as he likes to take liberties with one's sensibilities by subjecting his reader to bad puns.

While he is a master of getting his points across concisely and without a lot of extra verbiage, his writings are not the thing that really piques my interest in him. Being who I am, I am a student of the mind, and I am always curious on what makes people who they are. Elliot gives a challenge that few others do.

You see, he has multiple personalities. Not only Elliot a blogger, but he is a former detective that uses a wheelchair. He does have at least one other personality, which he calls "Caughill." Fortunately, Elliot is the dominate personality, as that this "Caughill" can write worth a damn.

The real twist to this scenario though, is that even though Elliot is the dominate personality, the "Caughill" side to him has convinced him that Elliot is fictional. I need to do further study, but I believe this is a rare defense mechanism being used by the "Caughill" persona to remain in existence, despite the obvious heavy use of psychotropic medications. I am thinking of doing a paper on this never-before-seen psychological phenomenon, where the submissive personality is cognitive enough to preserve its existence.

The Gauntlet Tossed Down

This is something that I have been thinking about for a while. My mentor and friend, Jay Bullock, has a sworn nemesis, in Owen Robinson.

Well, perhaps feeling insecure or just trying to keep up with the folkbums, Stearns/Caughill issued a request a year ago for his own nemesis, but the multiple personalities apparently kept him from making a decision.

Now, while I can't find myself able to be his mortal enemy, I could be the thorn-forever-in-his side. You see, even though I find Elliot thought provoking that he is one of my few absolutely must read sites, he does have his flaws. One example is his gun love. I really don't understand it. I mean, I own a couple of shotguns and a couple of rifles myself, but I consider them to be merely tools, not object for that level of adoration.

He also has another flaw, which I described here.

While I may not be the mortal enemy that he asked for, I do solemnly swear that, if he accepts this challenge, I will be glad to forever taunt him and to fart in his general direction.

What say you, Elliot? After all, who better to play the foil to a man with multiple personalities, than a man with multiple blogs?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Sure There's No Correlation

Several right wing bloggers, including Owen Robinson and Dad29, have been touting the recent run on guns, supposedly based on the fear that President Elect Barack Obama would ban all weapons on January 21.

Yeah, that's just what we need more guns out there.

From today's news:
With all these guns that are being sold, can't they also, please, sell some common sense?

No Peace, Even In Death

I've been doing a lot of writing this week on the tragic, needless and completely avoidable death of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr.

Even though I am usually on the verbose side, I can not find the words to describe my feelings about today's turn of events:
The dispute simmered throughout the service but erupted near its end, as people lined up near the open casket to pay their final respects.

Several people began to taunt Thomas, who sat at the front of the Serenity Funeral Home chapel, his eyes closed.

Who threw the first blow was unclear. Thomas was punched on the left side of his face. He was removed from the chapel and taken to a couch, the left side of his face severely swollen, a bloody gash beneath his left eye.

In the chapel, chairs were thrown aside and flower displays were knocked over. Several people grabbed the boy's casket to keep it from being flung down.

As people cried out for calm, the fight spread to the funeral home lobby and into the street. An ambulance arrived at the front of funeral home just as the casket was carried out the back and loaded into a hearse.

I'll have nothing more to say about this tonight, except that I hope that wherever little Christopher may be, I hope he is finally coming to know some peace.

I See A Change In The Right Wingers

During the campaign, the right wingers tried to make hay with the "bitterly clinging to their guns and Bibles" line.

Now they're just clinging to their bitterness.

County Board Falls Short Of Goal Line

After learning the results of the County Boards override votes, it reminded me of seeing your favorite football team's star cornerback intercepting an errant pass in his own end zone and running it back for a touchdown, only to fumble on the opponent's five yard line. It gets you cheering your head off and then it feels like the rug is pulled out from under your feet.

Seeing the report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel isn't any better.

The County Board did very well by overriding most of Walker's foolish and possibly illegal vetoes. They managed to preserve the parks from any further damage, and they showed fiscal responsibility by opting to keep county workers in the billing department of the mental health complex. That move alone gave up a spending cut of $200K, but brought in a revenue of over $2 million dollars.

They actually did a little bit to restore basic transit services, maintained the integrity of the courts, and a lot of of other good work.

So kudos to them for that.

But they really dropped the ball on two issues.

One, they failed to finally kill the insane proposal to move the mental health complex to St. Michael's. Walker's argument is that the current facility housing the mental health complex is too old and out of date. His solution is to move the complex into a building that is even older and not appropriate for psychiatric care. The physical layout of the building dictates that safety would be unconscionably sacrificed.

When my old '96 Dodge had too many miles and was starting to cost more to repair and maintain that I would be paying for a new car, I bought a car that, even though it was used, was newer, in better condition and safer than the old one. If I used Walker's philosophy, I would have gotten rid of the Dodge and bought a '73 Gremlin with a leaky gas tank.

Yet the Board could not see the folly of this type of thinking and voted to keep the option alive.

Just as, if not even more, incredulous was their vote on the call center. The Board recognized that the call center was being understaffed and mismanaged, and had originally removed Walker's profiteering plans and not only restored the 25 positions, but added five more.

Walker, of course, vetoed it, so that he could get some extra campaign donations.

Even though Supervisor Clark read out loud the state statute that the only people allowed to do actual case management of this nature need to be civil servants, the Board chose to sustain Walker's veto.

Just so that everyone is clear, let me spell it out. Instead of having 30 people to answer phones and to make immediate changes and/or updates to a case, the plan now is to have only 10 people from UWM be able to do this. The other 28 people would be nothing more than glorified message takers.

Walker and the board just cut the productivity level by 67%, and they think that this will somehow fix the problem of long wait times and slow responses. Go figure.

Walker's motivation is pretty clear. He is trying to curry favor, both political and financial, by throwing taxpayer dollars to private agencies.

The Board's motivation is also pretty clear. They're upset because they are getting phone calls from people complaining about the long waits and slow responses. But instead of doing their job, and holding the people responsible for this mess accountable, they decide to go for the easy placebo. I wonder if they really think that this is going to cut back the complaint calls they receive. After all, they not only didn't fix it, they made the problem worse.

Not only did they make their own problems worse, they laid off 25 workers, but the effect on the tax levy was only made a few cents worth of difference to the taxpayer. And it will be a lot more expensive when they realize that they did screw up by listening to Walker, and now have to fix it.

ADDENDUM: Channel 12 has a item by item breakdown on how the votes went during the override process.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

County Budget Battle Enters Final Stage...Maybe

To quote the great Yogi Berra, it's like deja vu, all over again.

Walker submits a broken budget. The County Board fixes it. Walker takes it and breaks it again, in a showboat fashion. The County Board fixes it again.

It's been the same story for the past six years, with the exception of a couple years ago when Walker completely took himself out of the process by vetoing the whole budget, which the Board promptly put back into place. Interestingly enough, that was the year that the county had a $7 million surplus, which is much better than the usual midyear budget crisis that Walker's usually brings.

This year is no different. Walker presented a budget in which he tried to prostitute the County to the highest campaign donor bidder.

The County Board again took the adult position and tried to correct it as much as they could. The biggest slip up was their failure to restore the food service positions at the mental health complex. If you thought there was a high amount of injuries there last year, wait until they start serving green lunch meat and runny slop like the do at the House of Corrections after they privatized that food service.

Walker then issued his 30 vetoes, again putting the County out there for sale. If the gentle reader wishes to see the list of vetoes, and Walker's mealy-mouthed excuses for why he did them, I would refer you to the Badger Blogger, who was kind enough to provide a link. One of the more interesting and revealing ones is how quickly Walker threw his crony, Tom Nardelli, under the bus when he would have been solely accountable for giving him a 26% raise.

SIDENOTE: If Walker was truly interested in saving the County money, why hasn't he provided proof that Nardelli and Greg Gracz had signed waivers to the pension enhancers? In fact, why hasn't Walker had all the non-union employees sign the waiver? Dan Cody did some impressive homework, and found that the recent county employee that retired with a lump payment of over $800K was a non-represented employee, and also wonders why Walker and Sheriff David Clarke did not address this years ago.

Early signs look promising that most of the vetoes will be overridden by the County Board when they vote on them Wednesday afternoon, judging from the press releases they issued today. (I bet one veto they don't override is the one taking away Nardelli's raise.)

SIDENOTE II: One of the vetoes that Walker issued is to restore his plan to privatize the call center, giving the caseworker jobs to UW-Milwaukee, which pays higher than the County does. He also wants to give the phone answering jobs to IMPACT, which already runs the 211 phone line. Walker has cut that contract with IMPACT in each of his previous budgets. UW-M has already distributed job application forms to the county workers, but most of them are not eligible for the jobs (UW-M requires a Bachelor's Degree, the County requires only a high school diploma). This flies in the face of Walker's claims that they would get first dibs on the outsourced jobs.

Interestingly, there are many legal questions arising about how Walker went about doing his vetoes, including whether they are even legal, whether or not he was overstepping his authority, whether is vetoes are too vague in their meaning, and why Walker, as a County Executive, would have greater veto power than the governor.

SIDENOTE III: I noticed an interesting turn of events in the articles that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has run. On November 16th, the paper has this to say:
Walker said he'll attempt to resurrect as much of his outsourcing as possible and do what he can to persuade supervisors to switch sides before veto override votes Wednesday. He's planning to issue the vetoes late today.

On instances where the board does override his vetoes or he can't restore his original privatization language, he'll initiate discussions to find out whether there's room for compromises that could be implemented by midyear.

He wants to convene talks with County Board Chairman Lee Holloway, Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs and others by January to find out if there are ways to modify privatization efforts the board successfully keeps out of the budget, he said.


Walker said he also wants to meet with supervisors to attempt a compromise to revive a $500,000 study on privatizing operation of Mitchell International Airport. The board cut that from the budget.
On November 17th, the paper reports that Walker held another one of his showboating press conferences to announce his Frankenstein/Vanna White vetoes.

In the story that was put online tonight, Walker has this to say:
Walker said he wasn't lobbying supervisors to sustain his vetoes because he feared that strategy could backfire. He also said he was avoiding any provocative commentary in hopes that supervisors will go along with him on several privatization moves.
Did you follow that? First he says that he wants to talk to the Board and then he grandstands to announce his vetoes. Then he goes completely hypocritical and says he doesn't want to lobby the board or do anything provocative for fear of a backlash. And this guy thinks people aren't going to notice?

The truth is more likely he's afraid of drawing too much attention to his vetoes. He is probably hoping that no one, especially not the County Supervisors, will look at them too closely and notice how wrong-headed they are, or that they are legally questionable.

Unfortunately for him, most members of the Board are already onto his weaselly ways, and are prepared to do the right thing. I hope.

Hell Is For Children: Heroes, Villians and Questions

Last week, we've learned of the tragic death of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr. (pictured on the right), who was a baby in the foster care system of Milwaukee County. He, along with his sister, were tortured by their aunt. The torture ultimately led to Christopher's death.

Since that time, there have been many things learned, mostly due to the yeoman work of Crocker Stephenson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Last Saturday, Stephenson reported that a hero has stepped forward. Randy Guy, owner of the Serenity Funeral Home, has taken on the somber task of paying for and conducting the funeral for Christopher. I commend Mr. Guy for stepping forward to ensure that Christopher receives some dignity during his short time on this Earth.

Too bad the same can't be said for many others.

Recently re-elected State Senator Alberta Darling shows herself to be the hypocritical villain that she really is. From the same article:

As funeral arrangements were being made Friday for 13-month-old Christopher L. Thomas Jr., a veteran state lawmaker demanded that the state Department of Children and Families investigate the foster child's death.

"I'm just so sick of this. So sick of this," said State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), echoing dozens of e-mails and phone calls to the Journal Sentinel from readers outraged by the treatment of the boy and his 2-year-old sister.

"I am heartsick," Darling said.

I am not the only one angered by Darling's hypocritical posturing. Representative Josh Zepnick issued a press release questioning her statement.

What rot. As I mentioned in last week's post, and in this post from a year ago, Darling is one of the people that created the bureaucratic monstrosity that is the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. And it doesn't stop there.

To make things more outrageous, the article reports that Darling issued a letter to Reggie Bicha, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, demanding that the Department do an investigation and give her a report on how this happened.

Not only did Darling help create it, but she is a member of the board that is supposed to be overseeing the child welfare system. But even this oversight committee is in disarray, and aren't able to oversee themselves, much less the BMCW. But as I also pointed out last year, Darling keeps pointing out that there are flaws in the system, and has the power and is in the position to correct the problems for the past ten years, has apparently done nothing, except take these politically advantageous postures.

In the same article from Stephenson, we also hear from the head of the BMCW, Denise Revels Robinson:

An e-mailed statement sent on behalf of Denise Revels Robinson, director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, said it was "in the process of conducting an internal review of the case situation."

After that review, the statement said, the Department of Children and Families would conduct a review. That review would be "followed by an external review by the Child Fatality Review Team."

I'm sorry, but this is the same thing that she says every time a foster child is abused or murdered. Yet nothing has changed and the problems continue. Not only that, but the Child Fatality Review Team is an agency that is contracted to the BMCW to do their jobs. How independent of a review can one expect from an agency that is dependent on the BMCW for their money?

And it doesn't end here. In this morning's paper, Stephenson continues to try to pry the lid off of this story by speaking to the great-grandparents who futilely tried to warn the system that the children were in danger, and had offered to either take the children back to Alabama or to move to Milwaukee to take care of the children.

Still nothing happened. This is not unusual. Since the State privatized the child welfare system, many foster parents have turned in their license and no longer want to work with the system. Their complaints most often involve the fact that they receive little, if any, support from the system, and that they have to fight tooth and nail just to get minimal services for the children they are taking care of.

And if the murder of Christopher wasn't enough to outrage a person, today's article also gives a description to the horror that his sister was put through (emphasis mine, although it's hardly needed):

Glover said her daughter does not understand what has happened. She said the girl is unable to walk or raise her left arm and her face is scarred. Court records indicate the girl had burns over much of her body, several broken bones and was severely undernourished when police came to the Keiths' home Nov. 10.
A concerned reader had emailed me over the weekend, asking what a person could do, especially if they are not in a position to become a foster parent themselves. I did give the reader some options, but the only thing that will really stop these type of atrocities from happening over and over again would be to contact your state assembly person and state senator and tell them that the system needs to be fixed, and fixed now. Also, calling or writing the legislators just once will not be enough, but we need to hold their feet to the fire and keep after them until they do their jobs and fix the problem they created.

Until then, the best thing that a person could do would be to become a CASA volunteer. This would allow a person to become the eyes and ears of the court, and have legal standing to advocate for the children. If the system that is supposed to take care of these children can not or will not do their jobs, this is one's opportunity to help the courts ensure that they do the jobs that they are supposed to.