Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have A Safe New Year

Today is New Year's Eve. If you are going out tonight to celebrate, please be careful and drink responsibly. And please consider taking the bus, while we still have good corporate citizens that will pay for them, and before Scott Walker's fare hikes and route cuts take effect.

If your looking for some family friendly things to do, Milwaukee County First has that covered as well.

As for me, I am seriously thinking of taking the weekend off to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Have a safe and happy New Year.

It's About Time

Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen has finally followed up on his promise to get involved in the legal proceedings aimed at stopping the invasive Asian Carp.

He only promised to do this a couple of weeks, and three states, ago.

Mayor Tom Barrett, recognizing the danger, has been pushing for Wisconsin to do this a long time now.

As far as I can tell, neither of the two major Republican candidates have said a word about it.

And if there is any doubt on how invasive species can affect our economy, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story about how zebra mussels have caused a chub shortage, making them much harder to find, and doubling their price. And the mussels are a much milder threat than the carp are.

Nothing Changes And Children Are Still Dying

There is another heartbreaking story of a baby that died needlessly, due to the incompetence of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. This time, the child was named Dekia Mattox. Dekia was the daughter of a fifteen year old girl who was herself a part of the foster care system. Both Dekia and her mother lived with the teen's aunt, who was a licensed foster parent.

The child, through a series of poor decision making, was left alone with a drug-addled man who is charged with killing the baby.

All that is bad enough, but the news coming out now makes it as intolerable as the Christopher Thomas story. According to the latest story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the BMCW investigated a report of abuse and neglect, but cleared the case:

A social worker from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare investigated an abuse complaint about baby Dekia Mattox just seven weeks before authorities say she was killed by a homeless drug addict in a filthy, cold home, according to a statement released Wednesday by the state Department of Children and Families.

The bureau's Nov. 4 investigation - which stated "the home was in order," contained food, had a well-heated bedroom for the baby and contained no evidence of drug use - stands in sharp contrast to the medical examiner's report, filed shortly after the baby's death Dec. 26.

According to the medical examiner, the dilapidated cottage in the 2700 block of N. Richards St. had two broken windows and was heated by three space heaters. Knives were found on the floor of nearly every room. The bathroom contained a leaking toilet and a broken sink. Dirty dishes filled the kitchen sink. Investigators found empty liquor bottles and beer cans, piles of dirty clothes, discarded baby bottles and little food.

Unfortunately, the article does not make it clear who the worker worked for. Normally, these types of referrals are done by state workers. However, as that it appears that the mother was a foster child herself, unless the case had gone into Kinship Care, there should have been an ongoing case manager assigned to the teen. That means this worker would have had to have regular visits with the teen and her baby.

Either way, the problem remains the same. The system that BMCW uses to determine the risk to a child is the same whether it is a public or private agency worker. The bad part of it is that it tries to determine everything on a rigid formula, and takes away the worker's ability to use common sense and independent thought in determining if a child is at risk.

I've said it so many times, that I am reluctant to keep pointing it out. But I will anyway.

Until there are real substantial changes, such as what paradigm the BMCW uses to determine risk factors, these stories are going to keep happening again and again. Unfortunately, politicians like Senator Alberta Darling, who has been one of the key players in creating and monitoring this abomination of a system, are too busy talking the talk, and then slinking back off to the golf course, to actual correct one of their biggest and most outrageous blunders. Meanwhile, children will continue to die.

Another major problem with the BMCW is that that it is so disjointed. You have a number of agencies doing different parts of the same job, with very little, if any, communication between them. To make matters worse, this also removes any accountability and you just have a series of these various agencies finger pointing at each other without really accomplishing anything constructive. Meanwhile, children will continue to die.

Along with the disjointedness of the system, the multiple agencies cause another problem. The money and other resources are spread out amongst each agency, which each have their own administration and bureaucracy that sucks up the money that should be going to hire enough workers to make the job manageable and enough services to help families in distress. Meanwhile, children will continue to die.

Governor Jim Doyle's failure to lead on correcting this system is one of my greatest disappointments in his time in office. I also certainly hope that the BMCW becomes a factor in the upcoming governor's race.

It will be another chance for Tom Barrett to shine, if he plays it correctly. His willingness to take on difficult situations, like he did with MPS, whether it is popular or not, will stand out against his potential Republican rival. Whether he is correct or not on the MPS take over (I, for one, am not convinced that this would be the best solution) shows at least he is willing and able to lead, whether it is politically popular or not, and whether or not it ticks off his usual supporters.

Scott Walker has shown all too often an unwillingness to take on any responsibilities and a wont to abdicate difficult situations, dumping the problem on someone else. That combines with all together disturbing embrace to privatize and profiteer all things, whether they should be, or even legally could be privatized does not bode well for him on this topic.

Likewise, Mark Neumann will only stumble on this issue, since his extreme social conservatism will not allow him to do what is necessary to fix the system, and he will probably put his foot into his mouth in trying to explain his bigoted approach to the problem.

But regardless of who gets elected next November, one thing is certain. If whoever is the next governor does not take the lead in fixing the child welfare system in Milwaukee, our children will continue to die.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dave Berry's Year In Review

It's finally on the Intertubes. One of the better parts:
But the big political drama takes place in Washington, where David Souter announces that he is retiring from the Supreme Court because he is tired of getting noogies from Chief Justice Roberts. To replace Souter, President Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor, setting off the traditional Washington performance of Konfirmation Kabuki, in which the Democrats portray the nominee as basically a cross between Abraham Lincoln and the Virgin Mary, and the Republicans portray her more as Ursula the Sea Witch with a law degree. Sotomayor will eventually be confirmed, but only after undergoing the traditional Senate Judiciary Committee hazing ritual, during which she must talk for four straight days without expressing an opinion.
Dave Berry still is one of the best writers out there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Big Brother Wally Is Watching

Wally World employees are fired after complaining about a security camera in a bathroom:

Seven former and current Walmart employees are suing the retail giant after one of its Pennsylvania stores installed a surveillance camera in a unisex bathroom used by employees and customers, according to ABC News.

The camera was allegedly installed by two employees in the company’s loss-prevention department, with the aim of monitoring employees for theft.

They installed the device in a bathroom–dressing room in the Tire and Lube center of a Walmart Supercenter in Easton, Pennsylvania. Workers discovered the camera in March 2008. It’s not known how long the camera was recording activity in the bathroom before it was found.

Las Vegas Dan better be careful.

Karl Rove Is Gay?

He must be, since he is not good for the sanctity of marriage.

Who Are They Trying To Kid?

Steve Schultze, intrepid propagandist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has a column in today's paper entitled "Walker says layoffs not needed if workers OK big concessions."

Unbelievably, Schultze actually writes this:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has dropped his tough layoff talk - at least for now - saying the county's 2010 budget can survive without radical midyear surgery as long as county unions agree to substantial givebacks.

Whether prompted by a wave of holiday goodwill, political considerations for his 2010 governor's campaign or pure optimism, Walker's tone on solving the county's ongoing budget woes has turned brighter.

"As of today, we have no plans for layoffs in 2010," Walker said last week. "We aren't even preparing for layoffs in 2010."

He hasn't ruled out layoffs, but his comments were in marked contrast to most of this year, when Walker set tempers flaring and anxiety levels rising with threats of mass layoffs unless unions took big cuts. The county has expired labor deals with its largest unions.

So, let me get this straight. For the past year, Walker has done nothing but announce one alleged fiscal crisis after another (most of which were self-induced by Walker himself and/or his staffers), with his only solution to be to lay off more workers. Each and every time, it was either shown that there was no real crisis or that there were other ways to resolve the problem.

Now Walker is saying that if workers concede to big layoffs, i.e. fix his budget mistakes, then there will be no layoffs.

In other words:

Then: Walker says give me what I want to support my campaign, or I will lay you off.

Now: Walker says give me what I want to support my campaign, and I won't lay you off.

Oh, yeah, now I see it! How sweet of him! He's really mellowed, don't you think?

Perhaps this faux olive twig that Walker is supposedly, but not really, offering is simple recognition that his perpetual campaign for governor will get seriously derailed when the County starts to implode next week as his faulty budget, with its $20 million hole, officially kicks in.

And for those that might not have caught on, Walker's refusal to allow a contract to be reached as cost Milwaukee County tax payers millions of dollars in lost savings. These losses will only continue as Walker continues to stall contract negotiations and arbitration, in order to try to minimize the damage to his campaign.

And considering that Walker will still get his cost of living wage increase, and that he has already given some unions, like the nurses' union, a contract with raises included, I doubt the likelihood of Walker being able to successfully get many concessions from the unions.

So remember, when grandma doesn't get her services, or you find the parks' bathrooms unsafe to use, or your bus route gets cut, Walker had a chance to prevent it by just sitting down with the unions over a year ago and doing some good faith bargaining instead of grandstanding and campaigning.

Funniest Tweet Of The Day

Doesn't one have to actually start working before taking a break?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not A Good Sign For Walker

It is telling that even Walker's campaign's communications director thinks that her boss doesn't rock:


Their Deepest Fear

Do you know what the deepest fear that Andy Martin, Scott Walker and the other homophobes all share?

Succumbing to bedbug powder.

Another Classless Republican, But I Repeat Myself

How to lose an election in one easy lesson:

Andy Martin, a noted conservative dirty trickster, put out a spot on local radio in which he pushes a "solid rumor" that fellow Senatorial aspirant, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), "is a homosexual."

"I helped expose many of Barack Obama's lies in 2008," the ad goes. "Today, I am fighting for the facts about Mark Kirk. Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a 'solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual.' Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals."

"Mark Kirk should tell Republican voters the truth."

I don't know what difference it would or should make to anyone, bur for Martin to play this kind of crap is simply inexcusable and is the worst of the worst of politics.

Illy-T has more on this micrencephalous fool.

The Right Wing Secret Strategy: Ignore Reality

From one of the most caustic of the right wingers, Peter DiGaudio, griping about paying for the services he receives, comes this:

That’s exactly why Scott Walker refused porkulus money for Milwaukee County earlier this year. There is no such thing as a temporary government program. It exists in perpetuity.

Had Walker taken that money, the County Board and bureaucracy would have been used for start-ups like KRM or light rail that the taxpayer would have been stuck with paying for when the “free” money from Uncle Sam Barack ran out.

There is no such thing as free money from the federal government. It comes with strings attached as well as an obligation for local taxpayers to continue to pay for whatever it wrought once the “free” federal money runs out.

I needn't remind the gentle reader, but after Walker got done flip-flopping like a fish out of water on the whole stimulus issue, finally embraced it with both arms.

How does one argue with such a disturbed mind, that they are so effectively able to ignore reality?

Clarke: Paying Attention To Details Is Important

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke should practice what he preaches:
"She is embarrassed about the situation and offered no excuse," Clarke said in his statement. "She apologized for the potential embarrassment to the agency and is willing to accept any discipline that I might hand down. I don't hear that from a lot of members when a bad outcome occurs. She learned a valuable lesson as to paying attention to detail."
Such details could include things like noticing open cans of beer in the car of the drunk driver you're trying to help out of a snowbank.

H/T Illy-T

JibJab: 2009 In Review

Complete with a reference to Brett Favre*:

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

*And other people as well.

The Neglect of the Eschweiler Buildings

The whole story, including pictures is at Milwaukee County First.

In a nutshell, it appears that Scott Walker are purposely neglecting the Eschweiler Buildings for nefarious purposes:
It is not surprising that Scott Walker would let these building fall into ruin, whether to have them raised for new development or other purposes. He is not from this area and does not share our pride of our history or understand the significance of these grounds. Furthermore, he is as shallow as only a life long politician can be, and only sees the grounds as something to be used to advance his own personal agenda, his political career.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

He Is No Father Christmas

Scott Walker had some tacky problems with his tweeting this holiday.

First, he couldn't even take a break from mooching for money, right up through Christmas Eve Day:Then Walker shows what kind of leader he really is with this tweet:

Another tweeter asked him why he didn't support his community by buying locally. The answer is simple: He doesn't believe in Wisconsin, much less Milwaukee.

But for me, the kicker was this one:

How can this guy, who has single-handedly put more people in this community out of work than anyone else now has the audacity and insensitivity to complain about helping the poor at a charity dinner?

On the bright side, we do get to glimpse at Walker's future, after he drops out of the gubernatorial race:

Scott "Would you like Fries with that?" Walker

The Great Twit Off: The Facebook Round

In honor of Cory Liebmann's original look at the Great Twit Off between the two major Republican gubernatorial hopefuls, I thought it would be interesting to look at how they are doing on Facebook.

Last week, Scott Walker tweeted a boast of how he added 1,000 friends on Facebook in one day:

That's pretty impressive, I have to admit. I won't even cheapen this feat by posting the porno-spam pictures that was on his Facebook page either.

But even as impressive as that might seem, he is only up to 3,142 at the time of this writing. That's not so good considering how long he has been running for governor.

In contrast, Mark Neumann, who only entered the race about six months ago, is doing so much better that he sent out a press release regarding this:
Reaching a significant benchmark today, the Mark Neumann for Governor campaign announced that it now has over 5,000 supporters on its Facebook fan page, which can be found at The Neumann campaign is the first of the Wisconsin gubernatorial campaigns to reach this goal.
At the time of this writing, Mark's numbers are actually much better than advertised and he is currently at 5,843.

For kicks and giggles, I thought I'd check out Tom Barrett's gubernatorial page. He only announced his candidacy a couple of months ago, and he is already ahead of Walker as well, and is currently at 3,777.

It appears that maybe Scott Walker is having a hard time getting his message out. (Does he even have a message?) Or, probably more accurately, he is getting his message out, and it is being roundly rejected by the people of Wisconsin. They can see what he's done to Milwaukee County and see through his lies and deceptions, which does not bode well for him at all.

Zombie Insurance

Get yours today!


Psycho Babble

Most of my readers already know that I have been in the human services field for over two decades now. I started in this field shortly after college working at a couple of psychiatric hospitals.

Around 1990, just after having entered the field, changes to how insurance companies provided mental health care coverage was changed. When I first started, it was not unusual for a patient to stay inpatient for weeks or even months while an evaluation was done, a treatment plan formed and implemented. Once the patient was stable, he or she was discharged.

The changes made coverage work more like medical health care coverage. Insurance companies were allowed to put limitations on inpatient stays based on the diagnosis, i.e. if the patient had a heart condition, the insurance company would allow X amount of days of inpatient care. If more time was needed, the hospital had to try to get the insurance company to approve it. If they didn't, more often than not, the patient is suddenly cured and discharged before the coverage runs out.

Likewise, insurance companies did the same thing for mental health patients. If the patient was schizophrenic, they might get a week. Depression was good for three or four days. This was, of course, impossible to do most times, and created very unreliable funding streams for the hospital. This caused havoc for the hospitals and many private hospitals closed down, dumping the burden on the ones that remained, usually publicly operated ones.

Obviously, because of my education and my work experience, I continue to be interested in things that affect mental health services.

One of these things was the passage of the Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, which was designed to bring parity to coverage of mental health issues. At the time that the act was passed and signed by President George W. Bush, there were many right wingers decrying the expense, even though the cost increase was going to be less than one percent.

Now that the act is about to go into effect, there have been some fallout. One of the big stories was that Woodman's Food Market was going to stop providing mental health care coverage altogether, claiming that it would be too expensive.

Patrick McIlheran, right wing shill at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, predictably comes out in defense of Woodman's indefensible position. He cites two basic reasons in trying to justify Woodman's actions.

The first reason is the echo of Woodman's complaint that it would be just too expensive. But the article that McIlheran cites to back his position also includes this (emphasis mine):

Greer points out that in other states that have already passed similar state parity laws the price of insurance coverage has only gone up less than one percent. He also says that stinting on care up front will lead to higher costs down the road and is one of the reasons health care costs are exploding in this country.

When they have no mental health insurance benefits, he says, workers tend to put off medical care for their mental health issues. "They don’t take the preventative route, and they wait until a crisis happens and they end up in the emergency room," he says. "The costs end up being higher in that situation."

And while on the subject of costs, I would be remiss if I did not point out, just as I did when I first wrote about this almost two years ago, that the cost of untreated mental health issues are far, far greater than the cost of treating them.

McIlheran's second argument relies on a "health economist" named John Goodman. McIlheran lists this from Goodman's article on this bill:

There are reasons, health economist John Goodman noted during the debate, for covering different sorts of illnesses differently:

"Does it make sense to have the same deductibles and co-payments for chiropractic therapy as for setting a broken leg? Or from the mental health field, should the payment terms that cover bipolar disorder be the same as those that apply to marriage counseling (required coverage in some states)? Should pastoral counseling (also required in some places) be reimbursed the same way as coverage for schizophrenia? If you have any sense, the answers are: No, No, No and No."

"Patients should pay more of their bill when they exercise discretion and especially where patient discretion is appropriate. In mental health, this principle applies in spades because:

"1. the illness is often experienced subjectively,

"2. there are often no objective standards for diagnosis or treatment,

"3. doctors often exercise enormous discretion,

"4. patients also exercise a lot of discretion and

"5. patient cooperation is often crucial to any cure."

Well, this is absolutely nuttier than yesterday's fruit cake.

As for the first point, all illnesses are subjective. The same disease can affect people in different ways, anywhere from having no ill effects to being totally devastating or even fatal.

Regarding the second point, this is utter rubbish and completely incorrect. There is the DSM-IV-TR which offers both the criteria for diagnoses and for treatment.

And as with the first point, points 3, 4 and 5 all also apply to any illness whether it be psychiatric or purely physical.

There are always stories of doctors, usually from HMOs, that are misdiagnosing medical conditions. Likewise, there are tons of stories of patients that don't follow doctor's orders, like the person with emphysema who continues to smoke, or the person with a heart condition that continues to drink alcohol and eat fatty foods. And I would dare say that many of us don't tell the doctor everything, of won't even go to the doctor until the problem is well advanced, out of denial and mortal fear.

When people like McIlheran and Goodman or companies like Woodman's try to use these flimsy excuses to prevent people from being able to access mental health service they might need, it is very hard to determine if they are dabbling in psychobabble or are simply exposing us to psychos babbling.

One thing I do know for sure. I won't be patronizing Woodman's Food Market while their wrong-headed policy is in place.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Question

There are some that practice selective outrage and claim that if a store does not have employees wish you a "Merry Christmas" as opposed to the more generic and inclusive "Happy Holidays," or claim that if a store doesn't mention Christmas in their sales ads, then this this means they are at war with Christmas.

Why don't these same people complain that because the stores don't have Chanukah sales or wish their customers "Happy Chanukah," and call them anti-Semitic?

Full Of The Christmas Spirit

Or some kind of spirit, anyway:
The executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association was arrested last weekend in Columbia County on suspicion of drunken driving after he was called to the scene of an accident involving the group's director of finance.

James L. Palmer II was arrested early Saturday after a Columbia County Sheriff's deputy noticed he smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. A preliminary breath test showed Palmer's blood alcohol level was 0.146.

Palmer told a sheriff's deputy that he was called to the scene of a one-vehicle crash by Jean O. Steinhauer, who is director of finance for the police association.

When a Columbia County Sheriff's deputy arrived at the scene around 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the Town of Hampden, a state trooper reported Steinhauer had crashed her vehicle into a shed and had been consuming alcohol, according to the Columbia County Sheriff's accident report. When the deputy arrived, Palmer was standing outside his vehicle parked next to Steinhauer's vehicle.

Palmer told the deputy that he had been drinking with Steinhauer earlier in the evening at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. He admitted drinking three scotches and had been at his Sun Prairie home for about an hour and a half when Steinhauer called him to say she had driven off the road, according to the accident report.

This Christmas Was Much Better Than Last Christmas

Even though the weather left a lot to be desired, and the economy kept us from exchanging gifts per se, I would have to say this Christmas was much better than last year's version. The reasoning being for what happened and what didn't happen.

The thing that happened was that the dinner I made (slow-roasted standing rib roast (made all the better, thanks to Penzey's), baked potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower in a cheese sauce, dinner rolls and Lady Fingers Torte for desert) came out wonderfully. I've been making all of the holiday meals for my family since my mom passed away ten years ago. Even though I consider myself adept in the culinary arts, I always felt the stress of cooking since she had amazing skills in the kitchen, and she was an awfully hard act to follow.

But this year I outdid myself. And I really knew it when my dad, who rarely says many nice things about people to begin with, looked at me, with a tear in his eye, and said, "Your mother would have been proud of this." Trust me when I consider this to be high praise indeed.

Today, I must have been in the zone though. It definitely helped when a certain you-know-who didn't ruin my Christmas morning, like he did last year.

What's Christmas Without A Little Hysteria?

The right wingers have been doing a lot of teeth gnashing, hair pulling and garment rending since the Senate passed their version of the health care reform bill. But some have taken it to the point of hysteria, like this woman:

So, all of a sudden, providing health care for the needy is unChristian?

Then there is this guy, who apparently feels that providing health care for the needy is a personal affront to him:
I am sorry, Mr. Obama. You succeeded in ruining my night’s sleep, you have jeopardized my dreams and endangered my country’s future, but not even you could ruin my Christmas.
Get a grip, people!

Putting The Irony Back Into Christmas

A conservative friend of mine emailed me the following Christmas greeting:

Being very conservative and very Christian, I am sure that my friend was pointing out the secularism and commercialism surrounding Christmas. However, I am not so sure that this was the best example that could have been used, since it is basically an ad for the company that sells these cards.

Froehliche Weihnachten

Have a safe and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yeah, I'm Working Today...

...because I'm AFSCME (NSFW):

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walker: Did I Mention That Executiving Is Hard Work?

During the budget process to set up the ready-to-fail 2010 county budget, Walker learned that "executiving is hard work." In what he thought would be a fine act of grandstanding, Walker couldn't stay between the lines with his veto pencil, and ended up giving sheriff's deputies eight days of furlough.

Walker was quick to backpedal, complaining that wasn't what he meant to do. Unfortunately for Walker, and for the deputies, it turns out that his blunder was legal, and that the deputies were included, regardless of what his intentions may or may not of been:

Domina's opinion flatly states deputies fall under the budget's furlough mandate.

"The floating furlough days imposed under the adopted 2010 Milwaukee County budget apply to employees in all departments . . . including, in particular, deputy sheriffs," Domina wrote in his opinion.

The issue arose shortly after the budget was approved last month and Walker said he hadn't intended his budget veto on furloughs to subject deputies to the eight floater furlough days. The budget also included four fixed-date furloughs that excluded deputies and jailers.

This must be particularly upsetting to Walker, since he planned on attacking Tom Barrett for giving police officers two furlough days, and trying to spin it so that Walker could look like he was the law and order candidate.

To make things worse, Walker's law and order meme gets totally trashed when Sheriff David Clarke stated that he was not going to follow the furlough. Walker, who was just told that the furloughs were the legal thing, quickly rolls over like a submissive puppy and says that he would not fight the Sheriff's stated intention to break the law.

The greatest blow to Walker must be that this is just another shining example of his incompetence.

After all, if he can't handle the county budget without making a mess of things, why in the world would anyone entrust him with a budget that is 50 times as big and much more complicated?

Stuart Carlson Still The Best

From's TV and radio writer Tim Cuprisin:

Stuart keeps drawing praise: My former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel co-worker Stuart Carlson is now, as he puts it, "laboring in the solitary vineyards of syndication."

He's still an ace political cartoonist, as shown by his inclusion in Time Magazine's list of of the 10 best editorial cartoons of 2009, with his take on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cuprisin and Carlson were both pushed out the door by MJS due to their continuous budget and staff cutting.

Carlson, as the blurb points out, is syndicated and award winning (although this one is my all time favorite by him).

Cuprisin obviously got another gig at OnMilwaukee.Com.

And what of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that pushed both of these class acts out the door? Well, they're not doing so hot.

Taking (And Pocketing) One For The Team

It's coming to light that Michael Steele, supposed leader of the GOP (we really know it is really Rush into Limbo) has been using his position as ersatz head of the GOP to line his own pockets:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele drew bipartisan criticism Tuesday after it was revealed that he is giving paid speeches, at up to $20,000 apiece, while still holding his full-time post as party head.

The former Maryland lieutenant governor, who was elected chairman of the party in January, has given a dozen speeches to corporate boards and colleges while collecting a salary of $223,500 as the leader of the party, the Washington Times reported Tuesday.

Many people, even on the right, such as the true head of the GOP, are being critical of Steele's mercenary way of life:

Remarks earlier in his tenure drew sharp attacks from Republican figures such as talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who urged Steele to focus more on fundraising and winning elections.

"I don't want to criticize one of my own," said Bond, who was party chairman in 1992 and 1993. "He's had a very difficult time."

Some strategists suggest that Steele has been weakened as a party spokesman through some of his comments, including a remark Monday that Democrats were "flipping the bird" at Americans by pushing health-care legislation through the Senate.

I don't understand why Republicans would be upset about their head honcho taking advantage of his position in order to gain personal wealth. After all, their entire philosophy is based on one word: "Mine!"

Wishful Thinking?

Brett Favre back with the Green Bay Packers?

Would You Like Flies With That?

On the heels of Scott Walker causing Milwaukee County another national embarrassment, we find out that his privatization of the food services at the mental health complex is less than acceptable.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MJS Now Going A La Carte

For those of you that, like me, still subscribe to the hard copy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel already know that they tried to phase out the TV Cue section of the Sunday paper. First they pared it down from all the extras to just the TV guide. Then the paper made subscribers to call and tell them that they still wanted to receive the guide, even though they had already paid for it.

Now they have had a special fly attached to the TV Cue which shows that the paper is worth even less than ever before.

After a little bit of touting on how they restored the parts that they took away in the first place, they have this little bit of news:
Like what you see? Keep getting it in 2010 for only 25 cents per week.*

*This small increase will be reflected in your next billing statement.

The new and improved TV Cue will be provided free-of-charge to current TV Cue subscribers for the remainder of 2009. Beginning January 3, 2010, you will continue to receive TV Cue for just an additional 25 cents per week. No longer want TV Cue? Call (800) 759-NEWS (6397) or go online to www.jsonline/tvcue before December 28, 2009.
So, for a section that is only slightly less confusing and slightly less inaccurate than Patrick McIlheran on the subject of climate change, and something for which you've already paid, they now want to charge you extra.

I wonder how much they would charge for agenda-free investigative journalism, hold the PaddyMac.

Cross posted at Whallah!

For Dog Lover's Only

Rusty the Wonder Beagle got a Christmas card from his friend, Her Royal Majesty Maggie, the conservative Australian Sheepdog.

The quip on it was too funny not to share:

Though the weather outside is frightful,
Marking territory is so delightful.
There's no limit to where I can go...

More Stupid Kids In Northern Wisconsin

I am really getting sick and tired of stories like this:

MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities have arrested two 17-year-old boys in the fatal shootings of three horses and five cows in western Wisconsin.

The three horses were shot in Dunn County on or around Nov. 29. Two were found dead, while the third died of its injuries the next day. That same day, five cows were reported shot in Barron County to the north. All of the cows ended up dying or had to be put down.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the sheriffs of both counties said the arrests came after investigators went to check on a tip Monday. One of the 17-year-old suspects is from Dallas, Wis., while the other is from nearby Wheeler.

The sheriffs say the district attorneys for both counties will determine the charges.

What is it with all of the thrill killing these kids are doing? Don't they have lives?

Monday, December 21, 2009


Deja Vu, All Over Again

Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan has a piece posted by which highlights Scott Walker's hypocrisy on the use of stimulus dollars.

I'll be damned but if that doesn't sound familiar. Now where did I see that before?

Under The Walker Plan...

I just can't tell if these will be in the bathrooms at the parks or at the courthouse:

Happy Winter Soltice

Talk About Overkill

From JSOnline from a few days ago:
A northwestern Wisconsin man says he was defending himself when he killed his longtime friend.

Wayne Rouillard, 62, pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide in Polk County Circuit Court Tuesday.

A criminal complaint says Rouillard used a claw hammer, a knife and a wood-splitting maul to kill Stephen Dahlstrom, 61, on Nov. 28. Police say Dahlstrom was found in a pool of blood in Rouillard's garage near Luck. His ankles were tied to a workbench and a knife was in his chest.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Rouillard told police he and Dahlstrom were watching TV and drinking vodka when Dahlstrom "went berserk" and tried to stab him with an ice pick or screwdriver.

I pity the defense attorney on this one. I think the self-defense went out the window when he tied him to the workbench.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Meme That Doesn't Work For Team Walker

A common meme from Team Walker is along the lines of complaining that President Obama might have an influence on the gubernatorial election.

Frankly, I would be surprised if Obama didn't come at least a couple, three times to stump for Tom Barrett.

But is this a line that Team Walker wants to take? Especially in light of the fact that Walker Reince Priebus, WISGOP top dog, has been trying to woo Sarah Palin. It'll even be worse if Palin decides not to, showing that she was just using Walker and her Wisconsin fans to shill her book.

I think it would be more impressive to have the President of the United States backing you rather than a gubernatorial dropout.

Brawler has more thoughts on this.

Don't Rule Neumann Out Yet

Xoff, who knows a thing or two about politics, thinks it may be too early to rule Neumann out as the Republican nominee for governor:

Neumann, in Nichols's world, is so extremely conservative he could never win a general election, and so far behind Scott Walker that the only way he could beat him in a primary is with a vicious negative campaign.

First of all, there's not a nickel's worth of ideological difference between Walker and Neumann. Watch them scramble to see who can get the farthest to the right in the primary, outdo each other in promising to throw programs for the ill, the young, the elderly and the poor under the bus, to slash government to the bone, to trash climate change science, rail against unions, and force women to give up their reproductive rights. Then tell me who's the most extreme, if you can.

Xoff goes on to point out how Herb Kohl won his U.S Senate seat in 1988, even though he was in a situation much like Neumann's current situation.

The other thing to remember is that Scott Walker has never one regular election. All his victories were in special elections or as an incumbent. Whenever he has gone straight up against someone in a regular election, he has failed in epic proportions.

Who's Indecisive?

Pretty Important Politics has noticed the WISGOP head honcho Reince Priebus following the party meme in attacking Battling Tom Barrett, calling him indecisive because the Mayor decided to do some silly things like making sure his hand was healing and balancing the city's budget.

I wonder why they don't look at their boy Scott Walker? After all, he's only been running for governor for about six or seven years, including two times when he ran for Milwaukee County Executive.

You want indecisive, I'd say someone who can't even decide what he wants to be when he grows up to be pretty wishy-washy.

Oh Deer! The Good, Bad And Ugly In Christmas Lights

Tis the season when people like to burn extra electricity lighting up their homes with Christmas lights. One of the more popular decorations are deer. Some of these can be nice and tasteful:

Unfortunately, more often that I thought, real deer somehow get themselves tangled up to them:

But occasionally, someone has to show the world that they are really sick people:

Not The GM We Were Looking For

Green Bay Packers - Making crappy teams look good since 2005.

Source of picture

My new favorite website - Fire Ted Thompson Now!

Problems Promoting Milwaukee County?

In the relative recent past, there have been two stories in the news about the groups that are supposed to be promoting Milwaukee County and helping our economy. Both of them raises some serious questions.

One story deals with the Milwaukee 7, which is co-chaired by Michael Grebe. Grebe stated that Milwaukee 7 is seeing some success, but then uses his pedestal to take swipes at Governor Doyle:

One obstacle to recruiting and retaining businesses in the region is the tax and regulatory climate in Wisconsin, which Grebe said “got worse” in this year’s state legislative session led by Democrats and Gov. Jim Doyle. He predicted the M-7 will become more outspoken on public policy issues.

“We probably need to get more involved in some of those issues,” he said. "We do not intend to lobby, but I think we can draw attention to issues and, more importantly, draw attention to solutions. A tricky part of that is identifying a consensus within the region.”

The other story appeared in the last few days and is about Visit Milwaukee, who is bemoaning a smaller budget than in years past:

This year, Visit Milwaukee began with a $6.7 million budget that was trimmed to $5.5 million. Although the group will get a little more in 2010, a new report prepared by Visit Milwaukee concludes: "At the same time our competition for business has increased, our funding has decreased. This has affected our staffing and marketing dollars."


Brent Foerster, Visit Milwaukee's vice president of sales and marketing, said Friday that the area is 50,000 definite room nights ahead in 2010, compared with this year.

But there is plenty of work to be done.

"We need revenue," he said. "Because of a lack of revenue resource, we are not effective in promoting Milwaukee."

There are many reasons on different levels to be concerned about these two stories.

Michael Grebe, besides being the Co-Chair of the Milwaukee 7 is also on the board of Visit Milwaukee. He is also Scott Walker's campaign chair.

Both of these groups also receive Milwaukee County tax dollars in their efforts to promote Milwaukee. So when Grebe bashes the taxes in this state as being too high (even though Wisconsin's tax rankings continues to slide lower down the scale), he is touting Walker's campaign rhetoric at tax payer's expense.

Both of these groups are headed up by the same people, more or less. Why are they not working together to help defray costs and bolster their productivity? Since they are both getting tax payer's dollars that might also help alleviate the tax levels that are supposed to be too high already.

And are we even getting our money's worth from them? Visit Milwaukee is complaining about not having enough money, but on a budget that would even equal Visit Milwaukee's petty cash, Milwaukee County First offered up an idea, the County Pass, that would help promote tourism and without nearly the cost that these groups are accruing.

If MCF can do these things on a less than a shoestring budget, either of these groups should be doing one heckuva lot more than they appear to be doing with all of the money they are getting. And they should be able to do it without campaigning for Walker.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

State Pols Respond (Or Not) To Carp Threat

The Asian carp is on its way to the Great Lakes. If it makes it to Lake Michigan, the cost to business will be in the tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars to Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada and any other area bordering the Great Lakes.

The Army Corps of Engineers had put up an electric fence, but it is no good. The authorities have poisoned the canal that the carp are using to go from the Mississippi, but this will only be a temporary stop gap measure.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recently announced that he was going to join his Michigan counterpart in seeking answers. Apparently Van Hollen has caught all those terrorists lurking in northern Wisconsin, or he just figures these are al-Carpa.

But either way, he is way behind the game. City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been calling for the canal to be closed permanently for weeks now. He recognizes the ecological and the economic disaster that would come if the carp make it to Lake Michigan.

His projected (by some) opponent, Scott Walker, has had nothing to say about the carp invasion. He is apparently too busy taking kickbacks campaign donations that just *wink, wink* coincidentally come at the same time jobs are being outsourced. and attending high priced fund raisers to actually take a moment to worry about the economy or the ecology.

It's pretty clear where each candidates thoughts are. Barrett's is on the best interest of the state, Walker's is on his wallet.

Palin Was Green Before She Went Rouge

A few weeks ago, Sarah Palin pandered to the neocon, teabagger groupies by having someone ghost write an editorial in the Washington Post* lambasting the summit in Copenhagen has being some sort of conspiracy.

It's funny how the love of money can make people turn on a dime.

Before she was a national buffoon, but merely a statewide buffoon in Alaska, she was talking a different way:

A few weeks before she mounted the national stage, in July of last year, then-Gov. Palin told her state:

"Alaska's climate is warming. While there have been warming and cooling trends before, climatologists tell us that the current rate of warming is unprecedented within the time of human civilization. Many experts predict that Alaska, along with our northern latitude neighbors, will warm at a faster pace than any other areas, and the warming will continue for decades."

The governor did what a forward-looking leader should do. She created a subcabinet group to look at "carbon-trading markets" and examine "the expanded use of alternative fuels, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy." She's now bashing scientists and telling Obama to stay away from Copenhagen.

I realize that this won't make her idolaters fall all over themselves any less, but it is good for the thinking class to know.

*There seems to be a growing trend of writing editorials in WaPo only to have it come around to show what a bloom hypocrite they really are.

B-b-b-b-but He's Saving Us Money

This is what continuous cuts gets you.

Sheriff Clarke Lets Wrongdoer Off The Hook

We learned a few months ago that the State had a big problem due to the loss of thousands of DNA samples. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was quick on the draw throwing criticism out without hesitation. Then it was revealed that his own department had all been lax in their duties.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Clarke's office has missed over 500 samples, and still haven't collect samples from almost 200 of them. To make matters worse, he takes a page out of Scott Walker's playbook and finds himself some scapegoats to blame for it.

However, he fails to take any ownership of the problems that his poor leadership has caused. It's just like the time he got caught in trying to help a drunk driver, and then blamed the responding deputy that did her job as well as Clarke's.

It is a shame that our county sheriff won't hold himself up to even a fraction of the standards he calls on from his deputies.

Zach Wisniewski has more on this.

Better Than Prozac

Highly recommended by all mental health professionals, even if you are not depressed.

Believe In Wiscansan?

Scott Walker has made "Believe in Wisconsin" the slogan for this, the latest phase of his perpetual run for governor.

Besides the fact that he's not from Wisconsin either, he has been consistently going out of the state for his technology, his staff and his money.

One of the staffers he's brought in from the great State of Tennessee is his communication director, Jill Bader. She is here to help him communicate and reach out to the good people of Wisconsin, right? Yeah, well:

While they're still trying to figure out this new strange land, I say let's all go tobogganing.

Meanwhile, At Milwaukee County First

Two new posts:

UW is running out of money.
How will they pay for the county grounds?

Burning down the bus.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

RIP Bernard Schreiner

Bernard Schreiner, founder of one of the most well-known restaurants in Wisconsin, Schreiner's, in Fond du Lac, has passed away. From
Bernard H. Schreiner, 85, founder of the popular Schreiner’s Restaurant in Fond du Lac, has passed away.

Schreiner died at the St. Francis Home on Dec. 16, 2009, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.
He was born on Aug. 31, 1924, in Woodville, Wis., a son of the late Albert P. Schreiner and Regina Vogds Schreiner. On Aug. 9, 1947, he married Maureen Showell at St. Mary Catholic Church, Fond du Lac. He was a member of Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac.

Schreiner owned and operated restaurants in Marinette and Fond du Lac for 50 years. He was a member and past president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, which named him Restaurateur of the Year in 1976.

“Bernie was larger than life and humble. Not many folks could be both,” said Paul Cunningham, the current owner of Schreiner’s Restaurant, which is a popular stop for southeastern Wisconsin residents on their way to Wisconsin’s northwoods.
I remember going to Schreiner's on trips to and from the castle, either with my folks, or more often, with my grandparents. The place holds some good memories of good times and good meals. I always enjoyed the homelike atmosphere we enjoyed from the staff there.

Nothing Good From The County Board

All the posts are at Milwaukee County First, but in a nutshell, the County Board really put their collective foot into it today by:
All of this make me wonder if the Board and Scott Walker are having a let's embarrass the life out of Milwaukee County competition.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Walker Should Be Ashamed Of Himself

Last Friday, WISN-TV reported on the consequences of Scott Walker's poorly thought out and wrong-minded plan to privatize all of the County's housekeeping staff. It was embarrassing to see Milwaukee County Courthouse looking so dirty and disgusting with piles of trash and clogged toilets.

Earlier this week, they went back to the courthouse and found that things were just as bad, if not actually worse than they were last Friday.

Now, the disgrace that Walker has brought upon us has reached national attention. At least they haven't gotten to Walker's apparent ethical issues yet, and seem to be focusing their attention on his ineptitude.

For the past six months, I, along with a few hundred other people who want Milwaukee County to be the world leader that it once was, have been working hard to prevent the county's further decline and maybe even reverse some of the damage done by politicians who, like Walker, put their own personal and political interests before the best interests of the County. While we are trying to fix our transit system, our parks system and restore vital services to our more vulnerable citizens, it only becomes harder when Walker does something like this.

While we are trying to make people want to come to Milwaukee County, whether it is to tour and see the wonderful things here, to move here and/or to bring their companies here, Walker is actively doing his very best to make Milwaukee County as unattractive as he possibly can. For the world of me, I don't see how having it proven beyond any doubt that he is incapable of running the county effectively is going to help his campaign for governor. But that is his problem, not mine. My concern is that he stop doing damage to Milwaukee County and to its image as he runs for higher office.

Cory Liebmann thinks Walker is shameless. That might very well be true.

But Walker should be ashamed for shaming us in front of the nation and the world.

Holy Tail Feathers, Batman!

It's the Penguin, right here in Wisconsin!

Tis The Season - For Some Anyway

Christmas is a little more than a week away, with Kwanzaa also right around the corner as well. Our Jewish friends are celebrating Chanukah right now.

Regardless of one's religious beliefs, this is the time most people think warm thoughts on these cold, wintry nights, and think happy thoughts about their fellow men and women. It is in this light that many people are bustling around the stores and the malls to give gifts for their loved ones and friends.

Unfortunately, there are some that will be thousands of miles away from their loved ones, for they heeded a higher calling and are currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or some other faraway land.

Remembering these brave and selfless men and women, Mayor Tom Barrett recently announced a drive to collect gifts for those in the armed service:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday announced a holiday care package drive for Wisconsin armed forces stationed in Iraq.

Barrett called for donations of food, candy and other items for members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard 732nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, based in Tomah. Among items also suggested for donation were cookies, coffee, microwave meals, magazines, DVDs and batteries.

Donations should be brought to collection boxes outside the mayor's office at City Hall.

On the same day Barrett announced this holiday gift drive, there was also an announcement about Scott Walker. It was not nearly as much in the holiday spirit:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is trimming back his giveback of four days' pay this year to two, to match the reduction in the number of unpaid furlough days county workers must take.

Walker wrote a check to the county for one day's pay -- $497 -- in late November and plans to write a second check in that amount this week, Walker said.

He did so to fulfill a pledge he'd share in any cuts other county employees were forced to take to help balance the county budget.

Well, he can't be blamed too much, I suppose. After all, he has a big, new house to pay for, and large swimming pools don't come cheap, you know. Just ask the people who have to fight each year to keep their public pools open.

Not only that, but while Walker and the County Board are calling for the unions to give up both their cost-of-living and their merit raises, County Ordinances say that elected officials get their raises no matter what.

Makes the decision on who to vote for next year all the easier: Barrett, who understands looking out for his fellow citizens (in more ways than one), or Walker, who looks out only for himself (in more ways than one).

A Question

Why are most Walker supporters anonymous?

I don't have a problem with anonymity, per se, but at least make up a nickname for yourselves, wouldja?

Otherwise, I'll just presume your embarrassed to be a Walker supporter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Rouge

The good and the bad from one of Palin's stops on her book tour.


How Stimulating! Walker Throws Sykes, Self Under The Stimulus Bus

For the umpteenth million time, Scott Walker has reversed himself on the stimulus funding in a piece he (or more likely, one of his interns) wrote for

This time, Walker is bragging about using the stimulus funding that he has flip-flopped on so many times, in order to create jobs and to fix some of the great damage his years of negligence has caused to Milwaukee County's infrastructure.

Unfortunately, Walker forgot to thank the County Board who had the fortitude to override Walker's political grandstanding and myopia and pass a resolution that allowed the County to pursue all the stimulus dollars it was eligible for, whether Walker liked it or not. They also kindly pointed out that you just did not and still do not have the authority to put any conditions on whether the stimulus dollars could be pursued.

Thank goodness they were smart enough not to listen to you then.

Then again, weasel speak is nothing new for you.

But the sweetest part of Walker's editorial was not that he again highlights his hypocrisy by once again flip-flopping on the stimulus.

The best part is just the simple fact that in the piece, he is bragging about how the stimulus dollars will be creating jobs. He must not have realized that this throws his two biggest supporters under the bus, both of whom have been adamant that the stimulus would create no new jobs.

Those two supporters with bus tracks on them are Charlie Sykes and Scott Walker himself.

Discrimination At The Courthouse

This nonsense by Walker and certain members of the County Board needs to stop now, if Milwaukee County is to have a chance to once again prosper.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Man With Donated Liver Hits 0.39 BAC

What a waste:

A liver transplant recipient was given a public intoxication warning Monday afternoon after he registered a 0.39 percent blood-alcohol level, according to La Crosse police reports.

The 34-year-old man was found on a curb at Springbrook Way and Cliffside Drive about 3 p.m., reports stated. He could not stand or walk unassisted when a family member took him home, police noted.

There are people that have been waiting years for a new liver. If the recipients are only going to waste their second chances at life, they don't deserve them. Give it to someone who will be taking care of themselves and their precious gift of life.

Walker Impersonates Courthouse Toilet

There is more spillover from Walker Toiletgate.

JSOnline has finally heard from Aprahamian, and it was revealed that the donation and the RFP came only a month apart. This only confirms the violation of the ethics code.

Cory Liebmann posted that this is not the first time Walker has crossed this line, but regularly dances beyond it with total disregard for ethics. Cory forgot to add Walker's problem with accurately reporting Lear jet rides and his dealings with Air Tran.

But the most damning to Walker is that Channel 12, who first broke the story last Friday, did a follow up today. The toilet is still unusable.

Walker tries to again blame the workers. Again, the fact is, like so many other programs, what we are seeing is the results of his continuous cutting of staff to the point where the work can't be done anymore.

Walker then tells Channel 12 some bad advice:
Walker had previously suggested critics check out the county's Health and Human Services Center, where a private company has cleaned for years.
Two problems. I work in that building, and we are on are third or fourth company in so many years. We still can't get things like toilet paper or soap stocked on a consistent basis.

Secondly, the Coggs Building was already discussed by Supervisor Peggy West in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:

Supervisor Peggy West said it was unfair that the board was shut out of details about the custodial services outsourcing. She said poor quality cleaning of the county's Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center, 1220 W. Vliet St., by another private service demonstrated the folly of outsourcing the task.

She called the Coggs Center "disgusting. It's gross, it's not sanitary," she said.

It seems like Walker is very much like the courthouse toilet. They are both full of **it, and it does not appear that this status will change any time soon.