Friday, February 27, 2009

Serb Hall Revisited

Back in its day, Serb Hall was one of, if not the, best fish fry place in Milwaukee. The fish was tender and tasty, the fries crisp and warm. The service staff was always friendly and efficient. The place just hummed along like a high performance machine, and everyone was happy.

Then new management came in and nearly destroyed their business with some really bad decisions. The customers were displeased and started to take their business elsewhere. In that post from last June, Dad29 recommended The Venice Club, which we found to our liking and have returned their numerous times.

Meanwhile, Serb Hall continued to suffer. I would drive by their parking lot on a Friday and would see only 20 or 30 cars where there used to be hundreds, with even more driving around looking for a parking spot. A friend of the family who works at Serb Hall as a waitress would tell us that she would only have three or four tables to wait on for an entire shift.

She even had to take a few months off during the winter because business was so slow, she couldn't afford to hire a babysitter.

Our friend called us last week, sounding very excited. She urged us to come back and give the fish fry another chance. She thought we would be very happy with what we found.

My wife and I were originally planning on going up north tonight, but changed our minds at the last minute due to my working late, the inclement weather that they had last night and this morning up there, and the fact that I was plainly too tired to drive that far and be safe on the road.

To make up for it, I suggested we go to Serb Hall tonight. We hadn't seen our friend since Christmas and missed her a lot. My wife eagerly jumped at the chance. I warned her that we didn't know what to expect, with the changes and with it being the first Friday of Lent.

Now, for those unfamiliar with Serb Hall, it is a large building with two good sized banquet halls, a roomy bar area, and of all things, a bowling alley. There is a small parking lot on the west side of the building and a larger one on the south side. Most people try to park in the smaller one, as that the two main entrances are on the west side of the building.

When we arrived, we were surprised to see that the parking lot was pretty full. They also had a long line of cars waiting to go through the drive through. We were lucky enough to find a spot in the small lot rather quickly. We entered through the northern doors.

Upon entering, the first thing we saw was the new manager, John S. Cwiklik, Ph.D., the guy who screwed everything up in the first place. We developed a deep sense of foreboding. But we went forward without trepidation, and told him that we were there for the fish fry. He pointed down the hall, which we saw was divided by some velvet ropes. The left side was for the a la cart menu, which included the all you can eat fish fry. The right side was for the buffet.

You could quickly see that this was Cwiklik's first Lenten season running a fish fry in Milwaukee, and was not ready for the crowd. The hall was packed with people waiting to be seated. To make matters worse, people that came in through the southern doors didn't know of Cwiklik's plan and just started to mingle in the lines. Added to this was two large groups of people that spent too much time in the bar area on an empty stomach. It was very chaotic in that little section of the hallway, to say the least.

Fortunately, the usual maitre d', Tim, was heading things up from there and was able to quickly restore order and get people seated in a more timely manner. Because we had asked to be seated at one of our friend's tables, which were all full at the moment, we had to wait for a little longer than we might have otherwise, but we knew it would be worth it.

They eventually ended up setting up a special table for us in the bar area, which was out of her serving area, but she readily agreed to take on that added responsibility when she realized it was for us.

She quickly brought us our bread, coleslaw and a pitcher of soda. The pitcher was the first surprise, since they had stopped doing that when they had stopped the all you can eat. The bread was also improved. It had two slices of dark rye, two slices of Itatlian bread, and a roll of light rye. This is opposed to the previous bread baskets which were all just slices of light rye.

The next new thing we noticed was that instead of the waitress bringing out the order, a young man would carry it out to the table. Then the waitress would serve it. We didn't have to experience this personally, since we are VIPs, at least to our friend, who brought out the food to us personally.

But while we were waiting for her to get our food, I had an opportunity to look around a bit, and saw this young man do his job, in a fashion of speaking. The young fellow was dressed in a manner that reminded me of a butcher, or some other worker at a slaughterhouse, which was a definite detriment to the ambiance. To make things worse, he would come out with this large tray of food, but not know what table he was supposed to take it to. It would end up in a comical farce of him going from waiter to waitress to see if this was the order from one of their tables. When they finally found the right table, the order seemed to be incorrect more often than not, thereby forcing the waitstaff to go to the kitchen anyway to get the right order. While it was amusing to watch, I would have been annoyed to have to go through that extended waiting period.

The other thing I noticed was that there were several vacant tables that were not being bussed. In fact, they were never bussed for the entire time we were there, which was approximately 90 minutes. (We had after dinner coffees and got a chance to chat with our friend briefly since the restaurant was slowing down with the later hour.)

Anywho, when our friend brought our food, I noticed that it still came with those sickly covers that still remind me of the food that one is served while convalescing in a hospital. However, I cannot describe my delighted surprise when she placed the covered dishes int he center of the table, taking the covers off and revealing a large bowl of fish and another bowl of fries. I swear that I almost teared up when she told us the family style dinners were back! (I could almost see my grandpa smiling down from heaven, seeing that at least this was coming back to normalcy. If you wonder what I mean, refer back to this post again.)

The fish fry was back to normal, tender and tasty. The fries were again crisp and warm, and not too salty. The downside for me was a very minor one. The lemons still came in the half a lemon instead of wedges, which I find easier to use, and less likely to overuse.

Our friend warned us that they also changed the tartar sauce. My wife liked it. Even though I don't care for tartar sauce, and am in no way an aficionado of the stuff, I thought I would try some, just for you, gentle reader. Like I said, I am no aficionado, but to me, it tasted like pure mayonnaise with chopped pickles mixed in. I found it to almost completely obliterate the taste of the fish. But like I said, my wife liked it, and she is a more discriminating eater than I am.

When I went to pay the bill, I saw what was the likely cause for the back up in the hallway, and the delays in seating. Previously, the buffet line was set up against one of the walls. To increase efficiency, they had now pulled the buffet tables away from the wall so that people could access both sides. Unfortunately, the pulled the buffet tables so far out that they were now in the middle of the dining area, in such a way that it was fairly obvious that even though people could get through the buffet faster, they would be stuck trying to navigate between the other diners hitting the buffet and the tables.

The bill for two all you can eat fish fries and a pitcher of soda came to be just over $25 dollars.

Overall, we found that the dining experience was much improved and worthy of more visits. It is still not as good as it used to be, back in the day, but the improvements have gone a long, long way towards getting there. Management now has to figure out a better way of controlling the flow of traffic, both for people waiting to get seated and for the people already seated and partaking of the buffet.

My recommendation would be for Mr. Cwiklik to stay in office and do balance sheets or something else, just as long as he is out of the way, and let the pros that have been doing this for years do their jobs they way they know they should be done.

And bring back the lemon wedges.

The City/County of Milwaukee

Almost a year ago, Sheldon Lubar created quite the momentary stir up when he pointed out that Milwaukee County government is dysfunctional and that it might be the best thing to break it up. His plan included giving certain things, like the House of Correction and the courts over to the state, creating separate authorities for things like the parks and transit, and to turn over the other things to the individual cities.

That idea was quite a hit with local conservatives, who naturally hate all things government, especially county government. The editorial board was so enamored with the idea that it wrote not just one, but two, editorials touting the idea.

Recently, Rob Henken, at the blogsite Milwaukee Talkie, again brought up the conversation about consolidation. This in turn, promoted the editorial board again to go chirping about it.

And there are many examples of areas with larger populations were they have successfully created and operated one of the hybrid county/city communities.

I admit that there is something intuitively appealing about the thought of consolidating local governments, especially given the financial straits that the country, the state and the region are in at the moment. Heck, even Lena Taylor proposed a scaled down version of that last year during the County Executive races. She wanted to combine forces with the cities and the school boards within the County to share resources. Instead of consolidation, she called it collaboration.
Ironically, MJS thought so little of the idea at that time that they didn't even mention it once.

But no matter how attractive the idea of consolidating local governments or just the simple dismantling of the county government, don't expect it to happen any time soon. There are simply too many barriers to be overcome before it could happen. These barriers include legal, logistical, political and socioeconomic obstacles.


The first obstacle is just the legal problems. Wisconsin State Statute 59.17(1)(a) requires that in any county with a population of over 500,000 people, a county executive must be elected every four years. Likewise, State Statute 59.10(2) requires any county over 500,000 to have a County Board.

In other words, the entire Chapter 59 would have to be rewritten if the desire was to dissolve the County government. As the law is written now (if I am indeed reading it correctly), state law requires Milwaukee County to have a county government.

This leaves only the consolidation of Milwaukee County with all of the city governments, which presents a whole new list of problems.


Since the County cannot be dismantled per se, the other option would be to have it absorb all of the other services from the various cities within its boundaries. This would include the fire departments, the police departments, the health departments, departments of public works and the public schools.

The county would not be able to merge with the City of Milwaukee since it provides various county wide services that the individual cities depend on, including social services, the Sheriff's Office, Corrections, EMS coordination, support of the libraries, etc. To leave the various suburbs out of the merger would put the onus of providing all of these services themselves, and they just won't be able to afford that.

Because many of the cities have different municipal codes, all of these things would have to be redone into one comprehensive system. For example, what may be legal in West Allis may not be in Greenfield. Either some kind of compromise will have to be worked out in the resulting consolidated body, or the new ruling body would most likely have to create its own rules and policies for all of these separate departments. This will lead to a lot of confusion for a long time as people are now unable to do what they had always been able to do previously or they will forget that they could legally do something that had been previously banned.

Now multiply that by all of the different functions, like the police, the schools, the health agencies, etc. and you start to see how enormous that job would be and how much time it would take to hammer these things out.


It is fairly easy to predict that if there were to be any kind of consolidation between the various local bodies of government, a lot of people will be losing their jobs. Not necessarily the front line workers, as that there will always be the need for police, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, and yes, social workers.

But there will not be the need for umpteen police chiefs, fire chiefs, school superintendents, etc. The mayors and the common councils would also end up being dissolved. That is a lot of people that had grown used to being the big fish in their little ponds, and they will resist any effort to take away the power and control that they currently hold.

It would be interesting to see how the elections played out, if they were to happen today. For example, I think the new County Executive would end up being Tom Barrett. Scott Walker in his last three elections enjoyed a lot of support from the suburbs, but very little in the City of Milwaukee. If there were to be an election, and presuming that all of the mayors and Walker were going to run, Walker would lose a great deal of his support as people would cast their votes for their local leaders, who they would tend to have a greater rapport and bonding with. Meanwhile, the people of the City of Milwaukee have shown overwhelming support for Tom Barrett, which could help propel him into a large victory as the suburban support for Walker would disintegrate and the suburbs just aren't large enough by themselves to muscle the Milwaukee voters.


There is no denying that Milwaukee County is one of the most segregated communities in the entire nation. It is segregated both by race and by economic status.

Most of the minorities are found on the near north and south sides, while many of the suburbs remain mostly white. Likewise, you have the most poor people living in the inner city areas, and the most affluent people living in areas like Glendale, Bayside, Greendale and Franklin.

While there are many, many decent people living in the suburbs of all races and socioeconomic status living in the burbs, there will be a great deal of resistance when they realize that they will have to share their resources with their poorer neighbors. There will be a lot of resistance from the people in the suburbs to go along with any kind of consolidation plan when they realize that his might mean that their taxes might go up, or that they might not be able to continue with the level of service that they currently enjoy.

To see what I mean, look at how some people react to the thought of a nationalize health care system. Even though it would probably save them money in the long run, they are resistant to the idea, fearful that they will end up paying more for people that they deem not to be worth it.

Even now, there are several people in the blogosphere and on talk radio that do nothing but criticize and even dehumanize anyone that might be receiving economic aid, health care aid, etc. The recipients of these types of services are called moochers, lazy, or even worse by the more affluent, just for the crime of being poor (which is not a crime, by the way). These same people would really start squawking if they also had to help pay for all the services that the poor people receive, either directly or indirectly.

To summarize, regardless of how wonderful and economically sound the thought of merging all of the communities within Milwaukee County might appear to be, there are just too many different obstacles, each one daunting in its own right, to be overcome before anything like this is seriously contemplated.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Smell A Weasel

JSOnline is reporting that Scott Walker has chosen not to file an electronic campaign finance report with the state. Instead, he has filed a 247-page hard copy of the report with the County Election Commission. To get a copy, it will cost almost $50. (I called. It's 20 cents a page. Anyone want to chip in?)

This only serves to be a deterrence to anyone that wants to review his statement. It also flies in the face of all the garbage he was spewing about being interested in transparency in government.

The impeccable James Rowen smells a rat. I think it smells more like a weasel.

What is equally, and maybe even more disturbing is that MJS is also reporting that they have a copy of the electronic report, but they don't have it anywhere on their website. Perhaps they are waiting to go over it themselves first, before making it available. That would be understandable. However, if they don't post it, especially in light of all of their "Data on Demand" links, that would make me even more suspicious.

Either way, I think I will be getting a copy of the actual thing myself. MJS has been known to be less than completely forthcoming when it comes to Walker.

How Time Flies

It was just about a year ago that my world came crashing down on me.

Well, to be more accurate, it was my garage roof crashing down on my car.

A year later, and I think I'm still have bouts of post traumatic stress. Especially when I think about the fact that, counting tomorrow's storm, we could easily have at least 18 inches of snow in the last two weeks up there.

I just hope the weather clears early enough so that I can get up there this weekend and shovel off the roofs again.

Is it spring yet?

State of Being Status

Several weeks ago, Governor Jim Doyle gave his State of the State address which pretty well limned out the situation, which is bleak, to say the least. He more recently presented a budget proposal intended to fix the dire situation. Both of these event sent the Posse Comatose into the predictable fits of apoplexy. Some have yet to recover from their snits.

Today, Mayor Tom Barrett gave his State of the City address. As with Doyle, he laid things out in a clear manner, and gave sight to his vision on how to take the city forward.

Yesterday, President Obama also gave a speech outlining the seriousness of the economic crisis the country is facing. He also gave inspiration to the country on his plan on how to repair the damage done by eight years of BushCheney. This, of course, put the Posse Comatose back into Conniption City, although they have yet to offer their solution, except for the same old same old, which led us into this mess in the first place.

We are still waiting to learn the State of the County.

Kathleen Falk = Scott Walker?

Nancy Mistele, a candidate for Dane County Executive, issued a press release accusing incumbent Kathleen Falk of repeatedly running for higher office and neglecting her duties as the county executive.

The title of said press release is:

Mistele Campaign: As county executive, Kathleen Falk tried to use Dane County as a stepping stone, and took full pay to do it

The scary part is you could substitute Scott Walker's name for Kathleen Falk, and Milwaukee for Dane, and it is equally true.


The AFL-CIO has now started their own blogsite for the sole purpose of promoting the Employee Freedom Choice Act.

It can be found here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Walker's Worthless Press Release

Even though Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has been busy in Washington, D.C., schmoozing up to special interests and sharing "Stick it to Milwaukee" stories with Tommy Thompson, he still managed to have his campaign office executive's office issue another campaign promotion press release. This has to be the most pointless document he has ever produced.

The press release urges the County Board to take immediate action on four of his campaign promises that he issued last week. The four actions specified by Walker are moving the mental health complex to the decrepit St. Michael's, selling county land to UWM School of Engineering, selling the county interest in the Park East corridor, and approving of his preliminary transit agreement with Waukesha County.

I got in contact with Milwaukee County Board Supervisor John Weishan, Jr. to get his reaction to Walker's fiat, and how soon the Board would act.

At first he wasn't aware of the release, saying Walker's never gotten in touch with the Board about any of it (so much for Walker's promise of cooperation). When I told him about it, he chuckled.

Regarding Walker's persistent attempts to move the mental health complex to St. Mike's, Weishan said that he can't see it happening. He reminded me (like I needed it), that the proposed move would be more expensive than building a new facility on county grounds. He also added that the new building would be much more energy efficient and ecofriendly. On top of all that, he pointed out that there was no guarantee that WEAS Development would still be in existence in five, ten or twenty years, especially in today's economy, so there could be no guarantee that they would keep their end of the deal. Furthermore, after the end of the lease, the County and its taxpayers would be at the mercy of whoever held the rights to the building, as that the County would have hundreds of patients and nowhere else to go with them.

Weishan also questioned why Wheaton Franciscan hadn't torn down the St. Michael's building, like they threatened to do by December 1 of last year:
Wheaton, which owns St. Michael, has closed most of the hospital at 2400 W. Villard Ave. In a letter to the county Friday, Wheaton President and Chief Executive Officer John Oliverio said that unless a deal is reached with the county to take over the hospital by Dec. 1, he’ll order the hospital’s demolition.
Weishan noted that the fact that they kept lowering their price shows that they were trying to overcharge the County all along.

As a last point on the whole mental health complex/St. Michael's issue, Weishan also told me that State Statutes require Milwaukee County to have its own mental health complex, and that putting themselves in such an untenable position could lead to further problems.

Regarding selling county land to UWM for their School of Engineering, Weishan points out that the problem really lies between UWM and Walker, who can't seem to come to an agreement on the price. He told me that the County Board can't vote to approve or deny anything until Walker gives it to them to vote on, which he hasn't done yet. Weishan added that things might go along smoother if there was a Director of Economic Development, but Walker abolished that position in his latest budget. (Not that it was doing the county a lot of good to have one, since Walker kept appointing his unqualified cronies/campaign managers.) This duty falls to the head of the Department of Public Works, but that was George Torres who had quit to work for LaCausa, and Walker hasn't hired anyone to take that position.

Similar problems surround the Park East corridor. Weishan stated that Walker first has to get the City of Milwaukee to come up with the willingness and the money to pay for the land. Then he has to have his non-existent Director of Economic Development or his non-existent head of DPW to submit the proposal before the Board could take any sort of action.

Weishan did state that he had serious concerns about that proposal though, even if it were ever to get actually produced. He stated that what it would do in effect is take all the risk off of the suburbs and put it all on the City of Milwaukee. In other words, Walker is again abdicating his responsibilities as County Executive and trying to dump it on Mayor Barrett and the city taxpayers.

Regarding the transit issue, Weishan said that he is still waiting to see something from Walker so that it can be discussed and voted on. He pointed out that there is a meeting for the Transportation, Public Works and Transit committee on March 4th, and he would expect Walker to have something to them by then, if he is really serious about it.

Meanwhile, while Walker is schmoozing special interests and issuing worthless proclamations, Mayor Barrett is again outshining Walker by showing real leadership by developing a plan to set up a methane pipeline between Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, as James Rowen puts it succinctly:
In a nutshell, the MMSD aims to capture methane gas at its Muskego landfill - - some intergovernmental cooperation linking Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties - - put it in a 17-mile pipeline and send it into MMSD operations at Jones Island.

Hundreds of jobs would be created in the pipeline construction, so the project would be good for the workforce, air quality, and property taxpayers.

It is this inter-governmental creativity, big-picture, pragmatic, Smart Government approach to stimulus dollars that Walker blew off with his "no thanks" approach.

It's what real leaders practice - - easier when not in full-time campaign mode - - as stewards of public funds and other shared resources, like air quality and natural resource supplies.
You can read James' full post at The Politcal Environment.

It is rather telling when the City of Milwaukee's Mayor Barrett makes a better county executive than Walker does, even though Walker holds that office. Heaven only knows what makes Walker think he is qualified to be governor.

Two Wise Men and Walker

A big old sinkhole closes the Locust St. Bridge this afternoon.

James Rowen, a wise man, notes its meaning, and the need for stimulus dollars to shore up the infrastructure.

Dan Cody, another wise man, also notes it.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's take: We don't need any stimulus dollars.

Don't you just hate it when reality gets in the way of empty and irresponsible campaign rhetoric?

Cruelty To Animals

Today, as almost everyone knows, is Mardi Gras, a day of overindulgence, revelry and debauchery for many people.

Doesn't it seem excessively cruel that it is also Spay Day.

Line Of The Day

From Kay's Blue Racine (emphasis mine):

And, just WTF is beyond cutting edge? Deep space? Beyond cutting edge has to be like sort of like a drawing of something that isn't possible yet do to lack of technology to produce it? An idea that is impossible at this time or otherwise it would be in existence and that would make it "cutting edge",
It's nice to know the GOP now has a leader with the same grasp of the English language that Bush has...........I'm sure he and Palin will have some great conversations.

Ouch, that will leave a mark.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Like Your Christ

From Pundit Kitchen:

I found it timely that Pundit Kitchen would have this appear on the same day that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Doyle's proposal to allow domestic partner registration. His argument is that, besides just being the proper thing to do, the state could benefit economically by keeping good people here, as well as drawing more people to the state.

Meanwhile, Julaine Appling, Wisconsin's own version of Shirley Phelps-Roper, and her cohorts, have taken the Westboro approach of opposing it:

Appling said the proposal so resembles marriage that she believes it would be challenged in court if it were to become law, and would likely not pass constitutional muster. Her group has already contacted attorneys to evaluate the proposal.

"He's purporting to create a legal status that is similar to marriage," said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., that says it promotes religious freedom. "The bill does violate and run afoul of the Wisconsin marriage amendment."

This is even though Doyle's proposal would only allow "43 of the more than 200 rights and benefits given to married couples under the law."

I reckon the anti-proposal folks are figuring that they can't allow gays to have that sort of thing, or they might start feeling like they are an equal part of the community.

MJS Did Not Choose Wisely

A month and a half ago, I half-seriously considered applying for the reader advisory panel that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had said they were taking applications for.

After some days of thought, I went ahead and did it.

I got the form email today saying my application was rejected.

I'm not too heartbroken about it though. After all, I have not shown them much mercy, especially to their resident propagandist when I am writing over at one of them other sites.

But even though they rejected me, (I bet that Paddy is still saying prayers of thanks), it's OK. Being the liberal type of guy that I am, I'll still give them tons of advise from right here. For free even.

But those kinds of decisions do explain stories like this one.

In other words, their loss, your gain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Funny

From Pundit Kitchen:

Looking Fourward

I've mentioned earlier that the Favre family has their own blog.

After her father's recent retirement, Brittany Favre shared some of her thought:
This game of on and off retirement has finally come to an end and I don't think I could be more relieved. All of dad's fans have watched as he toiled over the decision, mostly wanting him to continue playing. My mindset was that I just wanted him to make a decision. Any decision. Although it would have been fun to rejoin the Jets for another season, I'm proud of my dad for finally deciding to do what is best for him, without being too affected by outside influences.
Everyone has heard that Favre stated that he felt forced out by Ted Thompson, which is what I had been saying all along.

Whether you thought it was a good idea to push Favre out or not, it doesn't really matter anymore.

Favre still won. Even with a torn bicep for the last part of the season, he still had more wins that the Pack with Rodgers. (Speaking of which, at least no one will accuse the GBP A-Rod of using steroids.) Meanwhile, the only person less popular than Thompson in Packer Nation is Drew Rosenhaus.

And the way they are going, Thompson and his sychophant, McCarthy will be gone after next year. Then the rebuilding can start. And that is when Favre will return to retire his number, if my guess is right.

What Is Elliot Stearns Up To Lately?

If you, like me, are a fan of Elliot Stern's blog, From Where I Sit, you may have also noticed that his blogging has been rather light lately.

No need to fear, he just been playing wheelchair rugby.

C/T to Spring City Chronicles

Cause And Effect?

I noted six months ago that the local paper was getting rid of some of their best reporters, as well as Stuart Carlson, the editorial cartoonist that would cover local issues as well as the national ones.

I lamented that the paper was becoming even more conservative and what that would mean to get an honest news story around here.

Apparently, their new business plan of all conservatism all the time isn't working the way they wanted it to. They are now talking about laying off more workers and freezing the pay for the rest.

I don't have a lot of hope for the way that they are going. And I will definitely be canceling my recently renewed subscription when it becomes Patrick McIlheran's personal daily diary and GOP press release center, since he will be the only one remaining.

Why The EFCA Is So Important

The reason that the right wing is so afraid of the Employee Free Choice Act is because it would start to empower the middle class to stand up for themselves. They are afraid that this would cut into their profitability too deeply:

The oligarchy and their supporters aren't trying to help you keep your job, they are trying to keep you under their thumb as long as possible.

More information can be found at Uppity Wisconsin, where I found the video.

Changing The World

This loldog hit home for me:

The last three dogs in my life, including the current one, Rusty the Wonder Beagle, have been rescue animals.

It is also why I could never work in an animal shelter. I would want to adopt them all.

But if you are ever considering a pet, please check out the Wisconsin Humane Society, or if you're not from the Milwaukee area, please check out Petfinders.

And if you are already a pet owner, and find that you are no longer able to care for your pet, please contact your local animal shelter, as opposed to letting the animal loose or something worse.

Mayoral Candidate Would Punish The Elderly, The Disabled And The Poor

With the previous perverted mayor, Gary Becker, resigned, it opened the door for all sorts of people to run for the open seat.

So far there is something like eight people that are in contention for the mayor's office. But the candidate that is taking a far lead for giving reasons why they should NOT be mayor is Jody Harding.

As many of my fellow liberal bloggers have called her out on, Ms. Harding believes that anyone who is receiving any kind of public assistance money, outside of Social Security, should be banned from having the right to vote.

This would include elderly people receiving Family Care, the disabled who receive benefits, the working poor, the underemployed that might need some help with food stamps or heating assistance, and so on.

In other words, if you're poor, you're no better than a felon.

To make it even more mind-boggling, Kay at Blue Racine found a video interview where she says she would make it easier for people to access these services that she said she would take their right to vote away for using.

I can't wait to see her slogan. It must be something like: Jody Harding, making it easier for you to lose your rights.

The ironic thing is that the right, who is all big on the Constitution for rights that include guns, and will verbally beat me up for condoning common courtesy, haven't said a word about this. I guess some rights are more right than others.


And you thought I was cynical...

Check out this website. It basically tears into anyone and everyone, and holds nothing back.

Here's a sampling:
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (born January 12, 1951) is a rotund radio talk show host, bloated political commentator, and porcine conservative television personality. Though he makes his thoroughly well-deserved $35 million a year by regularly castigating liberals as “dope-smoking hippies,” Rush Limbaugh is himself a well-documented “prescription” drug abuser. Limbaugh seems thoroughly untroubled by this, mostly because hypocrisy has become such a major part of the modern Republican platform, right alongside guns, creationism, and yellow ribbon bumper decals. Oh, and lest it go unsaid: Rush Limbaugh is a dick; a huge one.

Rush Limbaugh’s creatively titled The Rush Limbaugh Show pollutes the airwaves all across the U.S. on Premiere Radio Networks, the same dick company that syndicates (or “syndickates”) the likes of fellow dicks Bob Costas, Dr. Laura, and Glenn Beck. As such, Limbaugh is credited with reviving American AM radio, although you really have to wonder whether anyone would have actually missed AM radio had it been allowed to die in peace. He is also considered to be a prime force behind the so-called “Republican Revolution” of 1994, which paved the way for a fifteen-year conservative hegemony in Washington, DC. Good luck ending it now.

Tip of the crown to apc, who left it in the comments over here.

A Real Whopper, Alright

Here's a new slogan for them: Burger King - The WalMart of fast food

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why Be Afraid Of A Gun?

Earlier this week, I wrote about the guy in West Allis who was found not guilty of disorderly conduct after he walked around his yard with a holstered gun at his waist.

This brought out the gun lovers and prompted a second post. In the comment thread of said post, I opined, as I have done in other places, that I am just as, if not more, concerned about the wannabe Dirty Harry's of the world, or the carelessness of some gun owners as I am with a criminal causing mischief.

Lo and behold, a very good example unfortunately comes to pass in short order:

The news report says that he was arrested for unlawful use of the weapon, which would indicate that he was permitted to have it. Other reports state that the guy had been drinking.

When Mr. Krause, the fellow in West Allis, was walking around with his weapon, I argued that his right to carry the weapon ended when he started to infringe on the rights of his neighbors by frightening them. I am sure that Mr. Krause might be a very nice guy. I am sure that the friends and neighbors of the TV shooter would also say he was a very nice guy.

But even very nice guys have bad days. That is why having someone walk around with a gun can be scary. Who knows what their state of mind is? The gun toter (I am not referring to anyone specifically here) could have been drinking, he could have just had a fight with his wife, he could be feeling depressed, he could have a previously undiagnosed mental illness or he could have had any number of things go wrong that has left him disgruntled and frustrated with the world. Enough things happen and the next thing you know, you have a guy in a "Falling Down" mentality. It would happen all the easier, because he's toting that gun.

In other words, it's not the inanimate object on the person's hip that is necessarily the scary thing. It is the person that is toting it, and what he could do with that weapon that is truly frightening. It is even more frightening when you look at the context of each situation.

I asked sarcastically if Mr. Krause, who was in his own yard planting a tree, was afraid of crabgrass or large termites that he felt he needed the gun. That question still holds.

Why did he feel he needed the gun. Also with the TV shooter, why did he have a loaded gun to watch TV?

In my opinion, both men showed a high level of irresponsibility. It is not normal behavior to walk around with a gun while you're doing your gardening. It is not normal behavior to have a gun laying there while watching TV. While it may have been perfectly legal for both of these men to do what they did, it is distinctly out of the realm of normal and socially acceptable behavior.

Here's an example to show what I mean. When people ride an elevator, they do the same thing. They get in, push the button for the floor they want and then stand facing the elevator doors with their faces upturned to watch the progress of the elevator as it goes up or down to the designated floors. This happens even if they are the only person in the elevator. Now imagine how you would feel if you got on an elevator with other people, but one guy stayed facing the inside of the elevator, looking at the people riding with him. This would make you feel uncomfortable and wonder what in the world he was doing. Your would make your adrenalin flow a little faster and raise your level of alertness, watching for any other signs of danger.

What the guy is doing is perfectly legal, but it is abnormal. Since it is abnormal, it makes one feel uncomfortable and raises their sense of danger, even though no immediate threat is present.

Now imagine how you would feel if this guy, who is riding the elevator with you, behaving in a way that is most unusual, also has a gun on his hip or under his shoulder. That would probably increase your anxiety and your concern for your safety. The only difference is that he now has a tool that would it make it easier for him to cause harm, if that was indeed his intent.

To me, walking around with a gun while doing something like gardening is abnormal, even if it is perfectly legal. If my neighbor was out doing some yard work and was carrying a weapon, it would cause me alarm, and I would probably call the cops as well. Especially if I did not know the guy all that well.

As an additional point, in the comment threads of the previous posts, there were also a few people that stated that they would be more frightened by the police response. As shown with the TV shooter, a strong presence by the police SWAT team helped the incident end peacefully with no one getting hurt. That is the way it is supposed to happen. If the police showed up with less officers, the gunman might have been inclined to really lose it and start shooting at the cops. We see this in the stories where the rural sheriff's deputies get gunned down going to someone's farm or home in the woods on what would have been an otherwise routine call.

Best Laid Plans

Well, I was supposed to be up at the northern castle, even has I write this, to quietly commemorate what would be my grandfather's 96th birthday.

But, not one, but two water main breaks within a few blocks of my home, my father's desperate, all of a sudden need to finally have his TV become digital ready so that he can go back to watching his VCY-TV, and a snowstorm has prevented that from happening.

Oh, well. It's not all bad.

You get to enjoy more of my enlightening and/or humorous, but always entertaining musings.

And my povitica arrived today. Povitica is an old world swirled bread dessert. My grandmother used to make it, and it was one of my grandfather's favorites. It was one of the few times he's allow himself to eat something sweet (he was borderline diabetic). When she passed on some 22 years ago, I thought that was the end of that delicacy for me.

However, a few years ago, my dad noticed an ad in the Sunday paper for povitica. It is even better than Grandma's. The first time we gave some to Grandpa to try, he almost cried for the joy of having it again.

So now before I wander off to bed, I'll think I'll have a slice for him.

Here's to you, Nonno.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Crabby Old Man

In honor of my grandfather (see post below), I'd like to share this email that's been making the circuit for years:

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska , it was believed that he had nothing left of any value ...

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem ... Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital .

One nurse took her copy to Missouri ... The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet .

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . What do you see?
What are you thinking . . . . .. when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man, . . . not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . . with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food . . .... . . . . and makes no reply .
When you say in a loud voice . . . . . 'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . . the things that you do ...
And forever is losing . . ... . . ... . . . . A sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not . . . . . . . . . . . lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . . you're not looking at me .

I'll tell you who I am . As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, . . . . . . as I eat at your will .
I'm a small child of Ten . . . . . . . with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters . . . . . . . . . who love one another

A young boy of Sixteen . . with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now ... . . . . . . a lover he'll meet .
A groom soon at Twenty . my heart gives a leap .
Remembering, the vows . . . . . . that I promised to keep ...

At Twenty-Five, now . . . ... . . . .. . . I have young of my own .
Who need me to guide . . . ... And a secure happy home ...
A man of Thirty . .. . . .. ... . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . . . . . ... With ties that should last .

At Forty, my young sons .... . have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside me . . . ... . . . to see I don't mourn .
At Fifty, once more, ... Babies play ' round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . . ... ... My loved one and me .

Dark days are upon me . . My wife is now dead .
I look at the future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I shudder with dread .
For my young are all rearing . . . . . . young of their own .
And I think of the years . . . . . . . And the love that I've known .

I'm now an old man . . . . . . ... . . and nature is cruel .
Tis jest to make old age . look like a fool .
The body, it crumbles . . .. . . . . . . . grace and vigor, depart .
There is now a stone . . . .. . . . . where I once had a heart .

But inside this old carcass . . A young guy still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . . . . . . . . I remember the pain .
And I'm loving and living . . ... . . . . . . . . . . life over again .

I think of the years . all too few . . . . . . gone too fast .
And accept the stark fact . . . . . . . that nothing can last .
So open your eyes, people . ... . . . . . . open and see..
Not a crabby old man . Look closer . . . . see . . . . . . . . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within . . . . . we will all, one day, be there, too!

The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched . They must be felt by the heart .

Buon Compleanno, Nonno

On February 21, 1913, a baby was born in Iron Mountain, MI, to an couple that immigrated to America from Italy. As happens in many lifes, things happened and the couple were no longer together. The mother remarried and moved back to Italy with her new husband and her new baby.

The child grew up in a small, impoverished village in central Italy. He never went to a day of formal schooling, but went to work as soon as he was old enough to hold a hoe.

When the boy became a man of 18 years of age, he moved back to the United States. Even though he didn't speak a lick of English, nor could he read or write, he wanted to have a stab at the American Dream, and he wanted to get out of Italy before he got drafted into the Italian Army. He came back to the U.S. and moved back to Iron Mountain. He started to apply himself to learning English, and to know enough so he could read basic things and to sign his name, even though it took him years and he never was able to fully master the language.

Then he met the woman who would become his wife of nearly 60 years.

The newlyweds moved to southeastern Wisconsin to look for work and to raise their family. The man worked many jobs, including in a car manufacturing plant and for the City of Milwaukee, in the Public Works Department.

The couple had two children, a boy and a girl. They loved them both dearly and raised them the best that they could, even though they were never rich.

When the kids had grown, and the couple retired, they retired and moved to Central Wisconsin. He did not stay still, but cleared trees and did years and years of major landscaping by hand and by himself. He also worked for the local County, clearing brush along the side of the road.

His wife died 11 years after they moved. Even though he survived his wife by 18 years, he never stopped loving her, and said a prayer for her everyday of his life.

This man was my grandfather. His daughter was my mother.

After Mom died, my wife and I took over as his anchor to the family, and we meshed our lives with his.

Tomorrow, he would have been 96 years old. We will be taking the weekend off to share our memories with each other and to honor his memory at the place he loved best.

See you Sunday. Maybe.

Heroes Come In Many Forms

From loldogs:

Doyle's Republican Moment

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Governor Doyle wants to lift the cost analysis of state contracts. This is not a good thing, as that it opens the door for more gouges like the one that Dan Cody had discovered regarding the CFIS website.

Not only that, but contracted work (read privatization) often is more expensive than when the work is done by public sector workers. From the MJS article:

Doyle signed the contracting law three years ago, after the Journal Sentinel identified problem-plagued contracts.

In one case, the Department of Transportation tripled its costs when it handed over the management of its road sign inventory to HNTB Corp. The department canceled that $165,000 contract in 2004 amid public criticism.

In another case, state auditors discovered officials never independently analyzed a claim by Crowe Chizek & Co. that consolidating computer servers would save $15.6 million. The state hired Crowe in 2004 but fired the company in 2007 when it found none of the savings would be realized.

I've also often pointed out that since Tommy Thompson, with the help of Alberta Darling and Scott Walker, privatized child welfare in Milwaukee County, the price has increased by tens of millions of dollars.

We also go through this every year during the County budget battles when County Executive Scott Walker wants to privatize everything in sight, regardless of how much more expensive it would be. That call center is a prime example, and look how well that turned out for us.

For some reason, I don't expect the unionophobes to be lining up to apologize for their inane comments though.

Tips of the crown to Dan Cody and to Owen Robinson (who I think totally misunderstood the article).

Cigarette Tax and Big Pharma

A friend of mine, who quitting smoking, uses Commit lozenges, which is made by GlaxoSmithKline.

She was quite upset by the recent news that Governor Doyle was proposing yet another tax increase on cigarette sales. According to said friend, and the register receipts she showed me, when the cigarette tax went up last time, the cost of cigarettes rose by almost $20 per carton.

The cost of the Commit lozenges increased by the same amount, and actually costs more than a carton of smokes.

To make things worse, the health insurance companies, who are supposed to be promoting preventive health care, won't pay for smoking cessation drugs, like Zyban, and a months supply costs over $100.

The outrageous part is Zyban is simply the brand name for Wellbutrin, which is a common anti-depressant. If the smoker wanted to quit using this drug, all they would have to do is have the doctor order it to treat depression, and then the patient could get the same thing for the amount of a generic medicine copy of about $5.

It's shameful that the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies that are supposed to be in the business of helping people, are instead just trying to take advantage of them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Question Of The Day

Given that, due to Walker's purposeful sabotaging of the call center, the State of Wisconsin felt compelled to take it over, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have called Monday's speech "The State (Takeover) of the County?".

Wrong Way Walker Strikes Again

On Monday, Walker gave us a campaign speech full of nonsense regarding taking the stimulus money, which he didn't want in the first place, and using it for a sales tax holiday, which he can't do anyway, instead of creating jobs and repairing the infrastructure that he has let go to hell over the past seven years.

Today, he continued his gubernatorial campaign with the same stump speech, this time in front of a captive audience at the retailers seminar. He was so proud of himself, he had to take the time to email Charlie Sykes and tell him all about it.

SIDE NOTE: I wonder if this was on County time and using County property.

SIDE NOTE II: I wonder if Dan Bice is going to look into that.

A regular reader and friend of Cog Dis pointed out this passage in Walker's missive:
Heads nodded when I mentioned the positive impact for retail sales in Minnesota each year when they do their sales tax holiday just before the start of school. People from northwestern Wisconsin go over the river to the Twin Cities and other places to buy shoes, clothes and school supplies. It is an amazing incentive for people to buy in their state.

Said reader also pointed out that Minnesota doesn't have a tax holiday. You know what? They are absolutely correct.

Minnesota does not have a tax holiday (pdf, top of page 2). They do have an sales tax exemption (Minn. Stat. 297A.67, Subd. 8 (a) & (b)) for clothing, however. But that lasts all year. At least for now it does. Minnesota, like the rest of the nation, is having money problems. One of their solutions include raising the sales tax and removing the clothing exemption.

On the other hand, Iowa does have a sales tax holiday. But I can't imagine why people in northwestern Wisconsin would drive all the way to Iowa to save a couple, three bucks on some school clothes and supplies.

I know many of the Walker apologists will say he simply misspoke. But I find that a little hard to swallow since he specifically mentioned northwest Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Twin Cities. He had deliberately misled those fine people he was speaking to.

It is one thing to have a political talking point. That can be debated, and usually is here in the Cheddarsphere. I can also appreciate the exaggerations that professional politicians put into their job. After all they are trying to sell a product, themselves, and so want to paint themselves in the best light possible.

But it is a whole different thing to tell deliberate lies. That means that either the idea stinks to high heaven, the candidate does, or both stink.

I guess we shouldn't be too shocked by the whole thing, though. And to be fair, Walker could be geographically-impaired.

After all, Walker has been taken the County in the wrong direction for seven years now.

When Heroes Fade

I may end up showing my age here, but I remember when I was a boy, sitting in the living room on Saturday afternoons, watching wrestling on TV. In those days, they didn't have all the glamor, the showmanship and the highly overacted scripts and special effects that are found in WWE.

Those days the wrestlers were fewer and it was clearer on who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. Some of the famous wrestlers from that time included Sergeant Slaughter, the Iron Sheik, Mike "Scrapiron" Kadaski, and of course, Da Crusher and his brudder, Dick Da Bruiser.

Also wrestling at that time was Vern Gagne. He was always one of the good guys and was usually more athletic than the others, even as he got older.

It was kind of sad when I heard this story this morning on the radio, in which he attacked a 97 year old in the same nursing home, and may have caused the older man's death:

Minnesota wrestling legend Verne Gagne, who climbed to fame as a likeable giant of the ring, is under police investigation in the death of a fellow resident at a Bloomington care facility, a local television station is reporting.

Gagne, 82, threw his roommate, Helmut R. Gutmann, 97, to the floor on Jan. 26, breaking his hip and injuring his head, according to Gutmann's family and KMSP-TV. Gutmann, an accomplished cancer researcher and violinist who fled Nazi Germany in 1936, was treated for his injuries, but was later rehospitalized.

He died Saturday.

Gutmann's daughter, Ruth Hennig, told the Pioneer Press that the two men had been in a public lobby of the Friendship Village memory loss unit, by the nurse's station, when Gagne grabbed her father.

"I don't know what precipitated the attack, if anything," Hennig said. "All I know is that Verne Gagne lifted my father off the floor and then threw him down to the ground, and that caused him to crack his hip."

Gagne suffered from Alzheimer's and Gutmann, who could recognize his wife and children but not his grandchildren, suffered from dementia and short-term memory loss, said Hennig, the executive director of a charitable trust in Boston.

Alzheimer's has got to be one of the worst disease's out there, and I hope like hell I never have to go through that particular hell.

I extend my sympathies to both of the gentlemen's families.

It's All Elliot's Fault...

He's the one that made me waste so much time tonight, playing with this program he found:

It would have been better with armor, a good sword, and maybe some duct tape.

Paranoia Runs Deep

Last night, I wrote a post opining about the court decision letting a West Allis resident run around with an open carry firearm.

Predictably, a group of gun lovers took umbrage at the notion that the rights of everyone else in the neighborhood should take precedence over the right of an individual to endanger everyone else so he could get some gun loving going on.

The braver ones left comments in the comment thread. The really brave ones even used a name or at least a pseudonym.

They also have their own site where they can share in their mass paranoia. Most of the arguments are either of the survivalist mentality, or they are in the order of "It's my God given right to carry a gun, dammit!" (Note: They won't let just anyone comment. They are afraid a rational person might come into their circle trigger jerk.)

Two things there. One, God did not give anyone the right to carry a gun.

Secondly, just because you have a right to do something, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

And as an auxiliary, your rights end when they infringe on the rights of others.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Bilker Politician Owes Back Taxes

And for once, it's not one of Obama's cabinet members. It's the person that had an intricate part in making sure John McCain never made it to the White House.

Yup, Sarah "I read all sorts of papers" Palin, now owes back taxes on thousands of dollars of perks that she has received.

Now, I realize that it is a new ruling, and I'm sure she'll getting around to paying them, especially since she is desperately trying to cling on to her slim hope of 2012.

But that's not the part that I found the most alarming. It was the fact that she took per diem's for staying at home:

The payments became a touchy issue for Palin last fall when she was running for vice president and campaigned as a budget watchdog.

The Washington Post published a story in mid-September that said she had charged the state almost $17,000 for meals and incidentals while staying in her own home.

The state considers Juneau, where she lives in the Governor's Mansion, to be Palin's official duty station.

Palin billed the state for 312 nights spent in her Wasilla home during her first 19 months in office, according to the Washington Post. She received $60 a day tax free, money intended to cover meals and incidentals, while traveling on state business, her travel forms show.

"Last fall we raised questions about longstanding practices within the Department of Administration regarding tax treatment of per diem payments," Kreitzer wrote in an exchange of e-mails over the past few days with the Daily News.

Not bad work if you can get it.

Now the right will show themselves as the hypocrites that they are by trying to defend this in 3...2...1...

Tip of the Crown to grumps

The Outrage Continues...

The reaction from Walker's campaign speech, er, I mean State of the County address, continues to pour in.

First out of the box is Jacob Pickard, who notes that Walker's motives seem to be less than altruitstic:

I hope Milwaukeeans finally realized the mistake they made in re-electing Scott Walker. His utter mismanagement of Milwaukee County, it's disgraceful.

He is no Tommy Thompson, Thompson was at least pragmatic, and he tried to build consensus among the State.

Walker cares only for himself and his ambition to become governor, he only cares about his rightwing base. Scott Walker is an opportunist, and has used Milwaukee as his platform for 30 second ads in the campaign. "No Taxes, No Taxes"

Just imagine the Damage he could do as governor.

My good friend, Gretchen Schuldt, hopes Walker is kidding:

Tax cuts also don’t fix the county roads that are falling apart, or the huge deferred maintenance backlog that has only grown worse since Walker took the helm.

It’s a shame that when the country, county and their citizens are bleeding, Walker is out there pandering to his ever-narrower base instead of working for the broadest common good.

Another good chum, Ken Mobile, recently rejoined to the blogosphere and is already in mid-election season form.

Supervisor Jursik, who is far from being one of my favorite County Board Supervisors, does make a strong valid point, when she calls a spade a spade, and wants her shovel back:
“County Executive Scott Walker, may I please have my shovel back? Your February 16th press conference noted that “we” (the County) are doing the heavy lifting while “you” posed in front of 20 clean shovels criticizing Governor Jim Doyle. The 20 shovels represented 19 Supervisors and 1 County Executive. “You” touted a balanced budget and proclaimed that “you” have kept County budgets to a reasonable 2% increase over the years.

“I will need my shovel for some heavy lifting: The County now has over $300 million in deferred park maintenance and millions more in deferred road maintenance costs accumulated during your tenure. The County Board recognizes that our transit system is in a major crisis, and we have consistently overridden your vetoes of dedicated funding. In fact, “we” at the County Board had to override about 2/3 of your vetoes for this year’s budget. Compare this to Republican Governor Tommy Thompson’s zero overrides.

“Due in part to your recent public comments on the issue, I truly fear that Milwaukee County will not get a fair share of stimulus money. I will need this shovel to repair our crumbling County roads and buildings. I have begged you to fix College Avenue in my district, a project that has been on the capital repair budget for the terms of three prior 8th District Supervisors. It is now in jeopardy again as the new postal facility has been delayed. The Mayor of one of my district cities described this road as a “third-world road” because of its condition.

“The County budget has shown reasonable increases only because of the actions of the County Board of Supervisors, so I’m not really sure if your shovel has gotten any use. I wish that our news media would do more than cover groundbreaking ceremonies like the one at Bucyrus, which is a great company in my district. I know it is not as sexy to show footage of crumbling roads and park pavilions, but it is this reality that brings me to my plea: May I please have my shovel back, I’m going to need it badly as we work on the 2010 County budget!”
Meanwhile, Walker remains clueless and a laughing stock for the rest of the state.

Bloggers Anonymous

Because some of you really need help with your addictions...

Artist: Wiley Miller

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In The Wild, Wild West (Allis)

There's been a story from West Allis that has been followed very closely by all the gun nuts in the entire country. The story, in a nutshell is this guy, Brad Krause, wanted to plant a tree in his yard. While doing so, he thought it would be a great idea to openly carry a gun. Apparently, a neighbor or passerby was alarmed enough to call the police to report a guy walking around with a gun. The police respond and cite the man for disorderly conduct. Today, a municipal judge in West Allis ruled that the guy's behavior did not rise to the level of disorderly conduct and found him not guilty.

The usual local gun nuts celebrate.

I beg to differ.

This is a suburban area, and not out in the middle of the boonies somewhere. The people living in this neighborhood have a right to certain expectations. They are in their social, if not necessarily technically legal, right to expect not to have to worry about neighbors playing music too loud, running around naked, or have to worry about some guy playing wild, wild west.

In other words, they have a right to expect their neighbors to act in an orderly manner, just as their neighbors can expect the same from them.

There are only a few reasons that I can think of for why this guy would have to carry a weapon while planting a tree:
  • He was traumatized by an earth worm when he was little,
  • There have been some really, really big termites spotted in the neighborhood,
  • The chipmunks have formed a street gang,
  • He was looking for his fifteen minutes of fame, or
  • He was looking to make a case to challenge the gun rules.
If any of the first three reasons, the man is certifiably insane and should not be allowed to own a firearm. If it was either of the latter two reasons, surely he could have found a better way of going about it.

Either way, in my opinion, it was foolishness on his part.

The thing that burns me up though is the attitude by Mr. Krause and many of his supporters:
"The reason people are upset about this is it's not about guns. It's about civil liberties. And we obviously have a property issue. There was no warrant issued, no exigent circumstances, no permission to enter the property, yet the police stormed in with guns drawn and put my life at risk," Krause said. Asked why he was carrying a gun to plant a tree, Krause said, "There's no requirement to justify why you're able to exercise constitutional rights. I and everyone else are able to go to church, they're able to vote, they're able to speak their mind. Even though the city might not like it, we have that right."
Toting a firearm around unnecessarily is not the same as going to church, voting or shooting off one's mouth. No one has ever felt intimidated by someone else going to church. Voting does not endanger anyone else's safety, no matter how much you might disagree with the candidate.

And the cops had every right to respond as they did. In fact, that is how they are trained to respond. They don't know who this guy is or what he's doing. They only know that there was a report of someone walking around with a gun. In those circumstances, you do show up in force to make a presence, which helps to deter people from doing something foolish or dangerous. And given that someone was alarmed enough to call the police, that is all they reason they need to come on his property and confront him. Judging from his comments in the article, I would not be surprised to learn that he was lipping off to the cops as well. That would fit in with someone trying to make a point or get some attention.

Furthermore, the only person that put his life at risk, as he claims, is himself. If he didn't think far enough ahead to realize that someone might feel threatened by a guy with a gun, or that the police would respond accordingly, that's too bad for him.

On a slightly different track, my good friend Illy-T agrees with the premise that disorderly conduct is an overly general, catch-all kind of crime. There is some logic to his position, but I disagree that it is a bad law, or that it did not apply to this case.

When I worked at group homes or psychiatric hospitals, or even at the House of Correction, there was always a catch all kind of rule like this. The reason being is that someone would inevitably do something stupid and/or dangerous, then try to rationalize their poor behavior by claiming that there was no rule specifying whether they could or could not do whatever it was they did. This catch all phrase would then apply.

I readily admit that it can be abused by some law enforcement officers, and there are stories that prove it, but this is not one of those cases.

I think the judge made the wrong call on this case. While open carry is not necessarily illegal, it doesn't make it the right thing to do. Mr. Krause behaved in a way that was disorderly for a quiet, suburban neighborhood, whatever his motivation might have been, and should be held responsible for those behaviors.

I'm Not The Only One To Notice

As I pointed out yesterday, Walker's State of the County address was anything but what he advertised it to be, much like his own policies. In that post, I linked to many others who noticed the same thing.

More have joined the fray at this time.

Robert from One Wisconsin Now writes:
Now Scott Walker, literally and figuratively following in McCain’s footsteps, gave his “State of the County” speech Monday night at the same Bucyrus International plant. Given the implosion of the economy brought on by conservatives like Bush, McCain, and McCain right-hand-economic-man Phil Gramm, one would think Walker might want to distance himself from the failed policies of the Bush years and the McCain campaign. Think again. Walker trotted out the same old conservative talking points about “tax-cuts,” firmly toeing the Bush line.

“History shows that tax cuts lead to prosperity,” Walker said. What history is that? The last eight years, when Bush handed out billions to the wealthy and corporations while the economy went to garbage? Tax cuts for the rich in a time of war? Walker must be getting the official Bush Administration History Revision report. What about the history of the Great Depression and the New Deal which proved beyond any doubt that the type of stimulus Obama’s pushing, that is government spending and infrastructure construction, will work?

Continuing his distortion and just plain ignorance for reality, Walker called on the state to sped $3.2 billion of the $3.5 billion we’re expected to get on suspending the sales tax. How much would that save the average Wisconsinite? $600 according to state and federal studies. Is Walker serious? He’d rather squander that money on tax cuts rather than on creating jobs? Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. Give a Wisconsinite a $600 tax cut, and they can maybe pay the rent for a month, or heat their house for two months—that is of course, unless their foreclosed on because they don’t have a job. Give a Wisconsinite a job, and they can make a steady paycheck for a lifetime, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollar into the state economy. This is a no-brainer.
From the comments section of last night's post, Joe Klein left an artist's rendition of Walker's campaign speech.

Walker's Point points out Walker's illogical proposals and how they would end up doing more damage than good.

And to wrap up today's fun, here is a press release from County Board Supervisor John Weishan, Jr.:
“Scott Walker’s speech Monday displayed his stunning lack of knowledge or understanding of the problems facing Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin. Once again, Walker used his tax cut campaign rhetoric as a smoke screen to cover his complete lack of any long-term or short-term plans for Milwaukee County. Instead, he relies on stale mantras of tax cuts and, along the way, gets the math wrong. The citizens of Milwaukee County would not see tax relief anywhere near what Walker claimed. Rather than $3,000 of relief from a sales tax holiday, in actuality the estimated amount is around $600. He misses the mark by 80%.

“After refusing to submit any projects for consideration in the federal stimulus plan, Walker shows his utter lack of understanding how and when the federal money will be distributed to states and local communities. By falsely claiming that the state will receive a lump sum amount to do anything it wants, Walker intentionally mislead the public into thinking he has a valid alternative. What he has proposed is not legal and will not deliver the results he claimed.

“The stimulus plan is about investing in America and setting our nation on a new path to prosperity. Walker is trying to rewrite the failed 30-year history of republican economics. Our country needs leaders both nationally and locally who are devoted to the success of all in America, not those that worship a stock market devoted to the prosperity of very few.”

Get Out And Vote

There are primary elections today, so get your butt out of your chair, get dressed, and go out and vote. It is the cognitive thing to do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The State Of The County Still Unknown

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker was supposedly going to give his State of the County address today. One would think he would've addressed how to restore the transit system, the parks, provide necessary services instead of having the State take over things, etc. Instead, what we got was his stump speech(pdf) for his perpetual gubernatorial campaign.

And what a stump speech it was. Not much was based on the county, but it did contain a lot of fantasy and a bald-faced lie or three.

The primary gist of his speech was that he would take that stimulus money that he didn't want, and use it for a sales tax holiday and for property tax relief. As for the sales tax, the Recess Supervisor puts it away with his post, including this snippet:
We'll begin with the fact that in order to do this, state and federal law would need to be changed. According to the MJS, Walker says he's happy to lead the fight to do this. Of course, why anyone at the federal level would want to listen to Milwaukee County's greasy-haired failure of a county exec is totally beyond me. Walker has no pull, no authority, and no clout with anyone. But hey, this looks great on a press release!

Let's say that, in some parallel universe, this were possible. Sales tax holidays typically do little to encourage additional spending, since people in states with sales tax holidays simply defer essential spending until the designated weekend. It's not like retailers make out like bandits, either. Because everyone is deferring spending until these weekends, stores are usually forced to slash prices more than usual in order to get people through the doors. That means less profit. It's a push for stores, a loss for the state, and consumers end up not spending any more money than they would anyway. Epic stimulus fail!
Do read the whole thing, it's worth the time.

Joe Wineke, the head of the DPW, also makes a good point regarding Walker's fantasy on the sales tax:
“As Walker has already acknowledged, redirecting federal stimulus money towards a sales tax holiday would be impossible under the law. Furthermore, Walker’s crazy claim that the sales tax holiday would translate into $3,000 in savings for the average family assumes that each household will go out and spend $60,000 on taxable goods. What ‘average’ family has that kind of disposable income?

“Walker’s county tax holidays are based on the assumption that Milwaukee County might get as much as $500 million or more in federal stimulus aid, which is ridiculous considering that Walker has already said ‘no thanks’ to the federal stimulus funding.
As for the property tax, well, that is mere pandering to his suburban base. While it may be a noble goal, it will not help people who have lost their job, it will not help people whose homes have been foreclosed on, and it will not do anything for the people who rent.

The sales tax would be the more desirable and fair of the two, but then again, it's just not realistic at this time.

Walker goes on with some other poorly thought out suggestions. The first one being moving the mental health complex to the old St. Mike's campus (Which was supposed to have been torn down on January 1st, since no one wanted it. Why is it still standing?). This fiscal wunderkind is proposing to move out of a old, unsafe building on property owned by the County, and move it into an even older, more unsafe building that someone else would own. To top it off, the whole St. Mike's fiasco would cost more than to build a new building, again on County property, and would still allow Walker to squander more assets by selling off the current grounds for a one-time budget fix. How's that looking out for the taxpayers?

Walker then goes on with his pipe dream of privatizing the airport. Besides squandering a great program that the whole region utilizes and is a great money generator for the county, one has to wonder how the neighbors of the airport would feel that they would suddenly become powerless to stop any expansions of the airport that would swallow up their homes and businesses.

Walker also has a couple of plans for job creation programs. This would be great, if it weren't for his track record in that area. He has already lost one jobs contract due to his inept management skills. Before that, Walker managed to lose the Private Industry Council due to its failure to produce any jobs in the area.

But the part I really don't understand is when Walker talks about Family Care. He states that the State had delayed the expansion of Family Care in Milwaukee County due to the State's budget problems, and he calls on Governor Doyle to expand it immediately.

The reason I am perplexed by Walker's stance is not the delay. Even though it was reported that the delay was due to Walker's incompetent handling of the call center, I understand he was doing that for political reasons. He is unable and/or unwilling to admit he made a mistake and could have done the job better.

The part that is perplexing is the second half of Walker's statement. The State gave Milwaukee County the contract two weeks ago. Was Walker lying about this? If so, why? I really don't see what he would gain. The only other explanation that makes sense is that he wasn't aware of it. But then that leads to the question on how he couldn't be aware of the County landing a multimillion dollar contract, unless, of course, he was too busy campaigning to pay attention to the job he already has.

This all could explain why he was posing with a bunch of shovels. His entire spiel was shovel-ready, just like an overflowing dairy barn.

For further reading on the matter, I would humbly suggest Ken Mobile, James Rowen, Dan Cody, and the statement by Board Chairman Lee Holloway.