Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Return of the Lolcation

You know what I'd say. Happy weekend.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Yup, Still Lolcationing

Actually, this one would be a loldogcationing:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Son Of Lolcation

While my vacation continues, another one from the files:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lolcation, Continued

While on vacation, I give you this installment of my lolcation:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


While on vacation, I leave you with this lolcat:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember All Vets Today

They come in all shapes and sizes:

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

I said it last year, but it still holds true:

Before you fire up the grill, before you stuff your face with brats, burgers and potato salad, before you enjoy your day off, please take some time to think about those who gave us their all so that we could have that brat or burger or whatever you do today, and everyday.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Woo hoo, baby! Vacation, here I come!

Keep in tune. I have stuff set to go all week, and now I have a new toy that will hopefully let me launch them from the castle (if I can get a signal up there).

See ya when I see ya.

Three More Reasons On Why We Need Healthcare Reform

  1. 71% go to work sick. Think about that also in relation to the H1N1 Flu scare and the paid sick leave that they are trying to destroy.
  2. More personal income spent on health care. There are cheaper and better ways of doing this.
  3. Insurance Matters Eat Up MD's Time. Imagine how much better care we could get if the doctors weren't always tied up fighting insurance companies on whether they should even get paid.

Sunday Funny: OK, Who Farted


A Tale Of Two Newspapers

Late in the week, the unemployment numbers for April came out.

The Business Journal reported that the numbers dropped from March to April, even though not as much as the national average. It was still an indication that the crisis might be finally slowing.

Compare that to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is apparently afraid of doing anything that could in the least possible way be construed as a positive for the state and for Doyle, would rather focus on what it was like a year ago.

But remember, our friends on the right would have us believe that MJS is a liberal news source.
Yeah, whatever.

Afterthought On The Sale Of The County Grounds

Now that the County Board has capitulated to Scott Walker and his plan to ruin the ecological treasure that is the county grounds, I have a question.

Since the alleged school is supposed to be geared towards biomedical research, which includes bio-engineering and stem cell research, I wonder how the Right To Lifers are going to feel about Walker selling county property to further the agenda to which they are diametrically opposed?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lawmakers Want Investigation Into Walker's Mismanagement

State lawmakers on the budget committee voted 16-0 in favor of calling on Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to do an investigation into the Income Maintenance Program in Milwaukee County.

That program is, of course, the program that Walker willfully and maliciously chose to vastly under staff, putting only 5-10 workers in an area where there was funding for 30. This and other acts of incompetence and mismanagement led to a class action federal lawsuit being filed against the County and the State. This led in turn to the State taking over the whole program, costing Milwaukee County taxpayers a bundle. (And Walker claims not to raise taxes - HA!)

Interestingly, places as far away as Chicago and Wausau have picked up on this story, but at the time of this writing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has nothing on it.

It is really sad when one has to go upstate or even out of state to find out what is happening in our own back yard.

Now the question is: Will Van Hollen do his job, or will he continue to play partisan politics?

ADDENDUM: Bonus question: When will CRG actually live up to their name and call for a recall of Walker?

Every Life Is Sacred...

...until it is born:
After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland's castaway children.

The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.

Wednesday's five-volume report on the probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that church officials shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

And I thought Weakland was the lowest of the low. The Church knew of the pedophiles in its ranks for 80 years and did nothing?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Catholics Support Employee Free Choice Act

Catholics are supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

This includes the bishops:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have specifically condemned the sort of employer-sponsored anti-union campaigns that current U.S. labor law fails to prevent. “No one,” they wrote in 1986, “may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself. Therefore, we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably now seen in this country, to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing.”
Even the Pope is an union man:

The Catholic News Service reported on February 2nd 2009 that Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Church's strong endorsement of labor unions when he declared that unions "can make a significant contribution" to realizing the common good during this economic crisis.

Speaking to the Confederation on Italian Labor Unions on January 31, the pope insisted that a just economy must protect the inalienable dignity of the worker. Pope Benedict XVI also made clear that the economic downturn demands solutions that bring society together "in a united way" to meet today's problems. Supporting worker dignity by endorsing the right of workers to choose union representation is one way to work on behalf of the common good.

Too bad there are those that have strayed from the teachings of the Church.

We're Still Hopeful

Barb Agnew, aka Butterfly Barb, has been the indomitable spirit behind the group pushing to save the Monarch Trail. After the disappointing vote by the County Board, where all but four supervisors gave up doing the right thing in favor of taking the easy way out, she wrote the following email to me and the other supporters. I reprint it here, unedited and with her full permission:
Dear Friends of the Monarch Trail and all nature lovers,

The County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the sale of the County Grounds today. There are 4 Supervisors that should be commended for thinking about the future and they worked very hard to delay the vote and get firmer language in the resolution; Supervisor Dimitrijevic, Weishan, Larson, and Lipscomb. Please send them applause in an email or call to thank them for REALLY understanding the issue.

I may never understand the notion that selling land for development is good for the environment no matter how sugar-coated with promises it is. Some Supervisors feel we should be glad they worked so hard on a “replacement” habitat”. But to sub-divide this last quadrant WILL have a devastating impact on the diverse wildlife that calls the County Grounds “home”.

There were memorable moments today, our letters were brought up many times and truly had an impact. Board Members were inundated with wonderful letters, emails and calls and some supervisors felt they deserved credit for reading them all. But somehow, all the opposition and good arguments we made, and the comments at the public hearing were not heard or maybe not fully understood because the “need to pass this now” just could not be undone.

I was particularly disturbed by Supervisor Rice when he compared the potential development to the southeast quadrant(the Hospitals, Medical College, Children’s etc) and how this could become that same type of economic generator. I hope he does not for-see that much development in the Monarch Habitat!

Well, enough about that, Supervisor West decided to support the resolution because she wanted to see the next step-What will this become?...
· First, a restoration plan must be drawn up that includes the needs of the Butterflies.

· This plan must include the input from; A UWM affiliate, Parks dept, Friends of the Monarch Trail, and the Milw public Museum’s Sue Borkin.

· This restoration plan needs to be approved by all parties and then goes on to the Board Parks Committee.
These steps will be meticulously thought out and drawn up and we will need input from people of all environmental perspectives. I will also request that in addition to the trust from MMSD, funding be made available from UWM to help implement the plan, This will assure they are sincere. We also hope they will consider placing a Field Station on-site to further protect and restore the habitat.

I am beginning to understand the meaning of a Long Journey, but the Monarchs have come back to the Grounds (May 19th) and if they can do it, so can we. Thanks, for taking time to write, and speak, and learn. In order to save the environment we must get involved in the political process that makes the decisions that will forever impact our world.


Mother Of The Year

Leilani Neumann was rightfully found guilty of second degree murder for allowing her daughter to die from untreated diabetes. Neumann and her husband thought it would be better to just pray for their daughter instead of seeking medical attention.

The defense attorney has stated they plan to appeal. Of course, why wouldn't they? It's not like they're paying for it, the tax payers are.

The defense also has themselves in a tizzy when the prosecutor called the Neumanns "religious extremists." From the article (emphasis mine):
"Religious extremism can be dangerous," Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad said. "In this case, it was fatal. Basic medical care would have saved Kara's life - fluids and insulin. There was plenty of time to save Kara's life."

Linehan countered, saying Neumann didn't realize her daughter was so ill and did all she could do to help, in line with the family's belief in faith-healing.

He said Neumann was a devout Christian who prays about everything and took good care of her four children.

"Religious extremism is a Muslim terrorist," Linehan said. "They are saying these parents were so far off the scale that they murdered their child. The woman did everything she could to help her. That is the injustice in this case."

Yeah, everything but take the poor child to the freakin' doctor! I find it difficult to swallow that they released her until bail. What is to keep them in the State before she gets sentenced and he faces his trial. Not a thing.

In my humble opinion, she should have started serving her term immediately and the kids should have been placed in protective custody. That is what would have happened if Neumann was from the inner city of Milwaukee.

Father Of The Year

From JSOnline/AP News:
A Georgia man was sentenced to 100 years in prison for poisoning his two children to extort money from Campbell Soup Co.

William Cunningham was sentenced Thursday after a jury found him guilty of five counts of cruelty to children and two counts of aggravated assault, said Kellie Perry, a clerk at the Clayton County Superior Court.

The girl and boy, then 18 months old and 3 years old, were hospitalized after Cunningham fed them soup tainted with prescription drugs and lighter fluid.

On one occasion, authorities said he used the prescription drugs Prozac and Amitriptyline - both used to treat depression - to poison the children.

The story goes on to say that the kids may suffer from lifelong respiratory ailments due to this clown.

Is there nothing some people won't do for money?

Blogging Note

A few days ago, Blogger updated their followers widget, which I had called "Friends of the Realm." With the upgrade, there apparently was some kind of incompatibility between Blogger and Internet Explorer, which caused readers using that particular service unable to read Cog Dis.

In the interest of allowing the maximum amount of people to learn the facts and share in my sage and wise musings, I have temporarily disabled that widget. When Blogger and IE have their issues worked out, I will return it so I can proudly show off that I really do have fans.

Thank you for your understanding, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

Another Reason Not To Privatize The Airport

Greg Kowalski, at Metro Milwaukee Today, discusses the news of Southwest Airlines coming to Milwaukee. He makes quite the astute observation at the end of his post:
Lastly, to insert some politics into this, Southwest’s entry at Mitchell is a primary reason as to why Mitchell International shouldn’t be privatized, as Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker wants so badly. The airline’s entry at our airport shows that there are reasons to fly out of Milwaukee, and that Milwaukee is becoming a bigger part of Chicagoland travel. If Mitchell can expand by adding a larger runway and perhaps adding more gates and another concourse, you could see an airport that could take on Midway Airport and impress over 10 million people within 150 miles of the airport. Privatizing isn’t a good option for both reasonable travel and positive investment at the same time.
Besides the fact that privatizing the airport would be a risky venture as illustrated by the problems they're having at Midway, this only goes to show that Walker is a bad county executive and would be an even worse governor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

County Board Fails To Learn From Past Mistakes

The Milwaukee County Board today, in an act of utter insanity, approved the sale of the county grounds, and the home of the Monarch butterflies to a private developer that is supposed to build an engineering campus on part of it.

Before I go any further, I do want to start by saying thank you to Supervisors Dimitrijevic, Larson and Lipscomb for voting to uphold the Counties best interests. I would also like to offer special commendations to Supervisor Weishan who not only saw the peril of this proposal, but also tried valiantly to at least delay, if not prevent, this travesty, by putting reasonable conditions and terms to the proposed land deal. It is nice to see at least four of our elected officials are willing to make the hard choices and put the interests of Milwaukee County first.

I am really stunned that the Board did not have the foresight to take the time to analyze the proposal and make sure everything was on the up and up. They just went through a stark reminder of what happens when they don't follow through on checking, double checking and triple checking what the County Executive's office tells them, especially when it sounds too good to be true. One would have thought the stress and the blow back from the Mercer trial would have awoken a fresh sense of caution and leeriness about anything that even resembled another "great deal" for Milwaukee County.

They should have also come to realize that the Walker administration is even less trustworthy than Ament's administration was. He's lied to them about the cost of moving the mental health complex. He's lied to them about the possibility and consequences of privatizing the airport. He's lied to them about every budget.

I just find it extremely unfortunate that they failed this time to seek and to see the truth. After all, how many times have I pointed out that Walker had promised to not allow the land to be developed. An anyone paying attention to more than the local daily paper and local talk radio already knows that Walker's promises are not to be believed.

Even the wording of the proposal itself shows the writing on the wall, as well as the worthy efforts of Supervisor Weishan. From the Daily Reporter (which is quickly becoming my favorite local news source)(emphasis mine):

The UW-Milwaukee plans to build a new campus housing research programs for the College of Engineering & Applied Science. The property also would provide space for private research companies.

The sale requires the university to build academic buildings totaling 450,000 square feet on the property, but allows up to half of the property to be owned or used by private companies.

County Supervisor John Weishan Jr., one of the four to vote against the sale, unsuccessfully tried to put more limits on what the university can build on the property. His amendment would have prohibited the construction of shops, restaurants, hotels, dormitories or other housing on the site unless the building had multiple uses.

Weishan said the amendment would have prevented the university from developing buildings that do not relate to research and university functions.

“Will UWM sell this land five years from now?” he asked. “Once we sell it to UWM, we have no control over it. It is gone.”

The line that I emphasized shows that this proposal had absolutely nothing to do with the school. The whole Innovation Park malarkey was just the front for a money grab by developers, who know damn well that the land will at least triple in value as the State proceeds with its reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange.

My friends and I will be watching, and when the developers turn their backs on their promises, I will be sure to remind the supervisors who voted for it.

But what really made me confounded is that Board Chairman Lee Holloway and Scott Walker were actually fighting over the credit on who worked harder to get this piece of garbage through.
That would be like Tom DeLay and Rod Blagojevich arguing about who is more corrupt.

But the article does show one other thing. Walker basically admits he doesn't care about what is best for Milwaukee County or its tax payers:
The county executive acknowledged that he had not been pressing hard for top dollar for the County Grounds property UWM is buying. He wanted a fair price, but was most concerned with getting the deal done, Walker said.
It will be interesting to see who has donated or will be donating to his campaign because of this sweetheart deal he gave them. It seems that Walker would be more suited to run for the Governor of Illinois than of Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Drinking Liberally Tonight

Yup, it's that time again.

Drinking Liberally is tonight, starting at 7 pm. It will be, of course, held at the hip, happening place of the Sugar Maple, 411 E. Lincoln Ave, in the scenic Bay View neighborhood.

Word has it that there is a strong possibility of a number of special guests, coming in from around the world (or at least Wisconsin), including one newly sworn in, but so new that she's not sworn at yet, lawyer. And yours truly is planning on being there as well, but don't let that scare you off.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Mercer Trial: Winners and Losers

The Mercer trial, which involved Milwaukee County suing Mercer for giving faulty advice regarding the pension deal, is over. Mercer and the County have agreed to a $45 million settlement. According to TMJ4, Mercer will be wiring the transfer of funds on Wednesday morning. Due to the foresight of the County Board and a resolution they had passed some time ago, this money will be solely used for the purpose of making payments to the pension fund, saving the taxpayers from that burden, and cannot be used to fix the holes in Walker's budget.

As in anything this large and complicated, there are many players involved. Most of these people end up being winners and losers at the same time, while some don't come off that well, and some are pure winners.

Let's take a look:


Mercer is a winner and a loser in this settlement. They obviously lose because they ended up paying out $45 million plus attorney fees. Even though Mercer issued a statement stating that they are admitting to no wrongdoing, they aren't really fooling anyone. No one, and especially not pension actuaries, will give up $45 million dollars just for the hell of it. They screwed up, and by paying out this much money, they are tacitly admitting as much.

They are also winners in this as well. Given the current state of the economy, they ran a serious chance of having the jury go against them. First, the judge refused to allow Mercer to use Gary Dobbert's conviction as part of their defense, and that was to be a large part of it. And even though the jury is supposed to be as objective as humanly possible when they weigh the evidence, they are still human. They know the economy sucks right now, and they know that the County basically represents the tax payers best interest (in this specific case anyhow). It would not be hard to conceive that they could subconsciously see Mercer as a representative of the people that did ruin the economy.

Over all, they were probably wise to offer this settlement. If they finished the trial, they could have easily ended up paying more, and they would have suffered a large blow to their reputation.

County Board

The County Board also fits into both categories. The Board wins big in the sense that they are vindicated of being the sole perpetrators of the pension fiasco.

As Supervisor John Weishan told me this evening, "This vindicates the County Board. You don't get $45 million for just being a nice guy. It wasn't the County Board or the evil politicians that created this. We were given bad information from them."

Supervisor Weishan said that the decision to accept the settlement offer was a good one. The County's lawyers pointed out that if they tried to go for the whole thing and won, it would have gone to appeals court and would have had a good chance of being knocked down. Meanwhile, the County would have only racked up even higher legal bills. Add to this that if the decision was fifty-fifty as to who was at fault, the County would have collected nothing.

The Board also wins by having $32 million dollars to go to help shore up the ailing pension fund. The settlement is not nearly enough to get it caught up, but it will help go a long way towards doing so.

The Board also wins because it was they who had the foresight to pursue this lawsuit over Walker's objections and to have the foresight to pass a resolution stating that any money awarded could only be used for the pension fund.

The Board does lose though. No matter that the fact is that Mercer tacitly admitted to being at least at fault, there are some that will continue to blame the Board, or decry that the settlement wasn't enough, or what ever other complaint they may dream up before they would absolve the Board, and admit that they were wrong. Also, the supervisors that were recalled also lose. Where do they go to get there good names back? And does anyone expect the Charlie Sykeses, the Mark Bellings, and the CRGs to admit that they were wrong and apologize? I didn't think so. That would make them look too much like the hucksters that they really are.

Scott Walker

Scott Walker wins in the sense that this will help cover his butt and the way he willfully failed to fully fund the pension fund for the last seven years. He also wins in that he will not be forced to testify. I do have to admit that a part of me was really looking forward to that day, when Walker would have to admit that for the past seven years, Walker has been blaming the Board for being solely responsible for the pension scandal. Walker even resisted filing the lawsuit to begin with, even though you couldn't tell by his grandstanding on the trial's opening day.

Walker loses a lot in this. As mentioned, he did not want to even file the lawsuit to begin with. No doubt the fact that it would show him to be the liar that he is made him the most hesitant. As recently as last November, Walker was making radio commercials accusing the Board as being solely responsible. Today, he issued a press release in conjunction with Board Chairman Lee Holloway. In said release, Walker basically admitted he lied:
“We think the evidence has shown that the elected officials, including County Supervisors, who voted for the pension enhancements did so based on the wrong information that they received from Mercer.”
While not exactly an admission of lying, or an apology, that is probably the best the Board can expect from him.

Walker also loses because it illustrates that he put his political aspirations before the good of the County when he refused to sue the Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren law firm, who had approved the pension plan as being legal and on the up and up. The reason Walker refused to sue was because campaign donor and head of the RPW at the time was Rick Graber worked there. By this refusal, Walker has cost the taxpayers another potentially large reward and more tax relief.

The Taxpayers

The taxpayers win in the sense that they just got to keep $32+ million of their money instead of having it go to try to shore up the pension fund. They still lose because it happened in the first place. They also lose because even more money could have been given back if Walker hadn't blocked the lawsuit against Reinhart et al.

The Lawyers

Come on, you know that they're the big winners. The County's attorneys are walking away with a $13 million paycheck, and they didn't have to take the trial all the way to the jury verdict. I'm sure the attorneys for Mercer were also handsomely paid for their work as well.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. The morning's edition of the local paper has Chris Kleismet of CRG fame scrambling around to spin things his way:

Chris Kliesmet, a spokesman for Citizens for Responsible Government, said the settlement was a victory, but a disappointingly low amount. The group drove the pension-related recalls against supervisors.

"The notion that this vindicates them is baloney," he said. Supervisors should have asked more questions about the benefits before voting for them, he said.

I find it somewhat bemusing that Kleismet chastises the Board for not asking more questions when his group is backing a certain county executive-governor wannabe who hates it when the Board asks too many questions, because that means he can't get his scams through.


From County Board Supervisor Patricia Jursik, in a press release announcing her resolution to adopt a sustainable budget:
Supervisor Jursik is also requesting that the County Executive stop playing politics with the financial condition of the County. Last week, the County Executive’s budget director and support staff appeared before the County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee for extensive discussions regarding the projected 2009 deficit. Yet, at this meeting, no one from the County Executive’s office or his administrative staff mentioned any proposals to reduce the County workweek to 35 hours. The Committee was bypassed so the County Executive could save the announcement for a news release later that same day. “It’s unfortunate that the County Executive’s desire to generate headlines and support his campaign for Governor ignore the importance of strategic planning,” said Supervisor Jursik, a member of the Finance & Audit Committee. “Inaction on developing long-term solutions alienates these two branches of County government. Issuing press releases is not the same as providing leadership."
Another supervisor that gets it.

Just for Kate

I've Heard of News Hawks, But Never News Chickens

In Shorewood, you're not allowed to raise chickens.

In St. Francis, however, chickens are allowed free range.

Apparently, you can't feed your family, but you have to expose them to danger and insanity.

In related news, gun nuts and white supremacists prove that it's possible for them to go to a secluded, rural area and share in food and insanity in peace.

No word on how they would do in civilized society.

Best Line of the Day

Comes from a comment by my friend Tim, which he left at Wiggy's place:

How many conservatives does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

None. Conservatives only screw the poor and complain afterword how unfair everyone is to conservatives.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't Let The Butterflies Flutter By

I've written several times about the proposed plan to sell the last of the natural area of the county grounds to a private developer that is supposedly associated with UW-Milwaukee (but really isn't) in order for them to allegedly build a school of engineering campus, but for some reason also needs a hotel and a restaurant.

Oh, I know Scott Walker has been pushing hard for this to happen. But Scott Walker also had promised not to allow this land to be developed for anything but a state forest. Unfortunately, we already know all too well that Walker's word is good for nothing.

I also know that County Board Supervisor Luigi Schmitt is for this plan, as are the folks at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But thanks to a reader of Cog Dis, this story was brought to my attention. The story is of the Butterfly Lady, Barb Agnew, who was already fighting to preserve the Monarch Trail for a long time. But here is what I found interesting (emphasis mine):

Agnew's is a renegade venture. She's a squatter, really, with no formal approvals from the county. She's garnered support from a few key officials, including Parks Director Sue Black and county Supervisor Jim "Luigi" Schmitt. Even the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the state Department of Transportation have drafted plans that skirt key features of the trail, at least for now.

But early drawings for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Engineering School show buildings, walkways and manicured grass in its place.

Apparently fickleness is contagious. Also interesting is the last part of the article:

One area that could end up being contested is a small section of the development zone where an Eagle Scout planted the endangered milkweed, plants Price grew from seeds.

Price and Agnew deny encroaching intentionally on the development zone in an effort to create something too controversial to destroy.

Still, he said, "It would take a certain amount of hubris for anybody to bulldoze an endangered species planted by an Eagle Scout."

Whatever the outcome, it will likely be a postscript in the coming documentary "The Butterfly Trees," by filmmaker Kay Milam, who shot footage last year of Agnew plucking a caterpillar from a milkweed plant with a "gargantuan bulldozer in the background."

The only other people really in support of destroying the natural wonder are the people that stand to gain the most wealth from it and Patrick McIlheran, the MJS' lead cheerleader for all thing avaricious. In fact, last week, PaddyMac wrote not just one, but two, snarky pieces on his company-sponsored blog.

In the first posting, he apparently thought that he was making a rational argument by saying that it's hard to ride the bus to the east side, where the main campus is. He adds to inanity by saying that most people drive anyway.

Heh. Most students I know commute by mass transit. Not many can afford a car, the gas, the ever-increasing insurance, and to pay for the scarce parking. Secondly, if commuting around the east side by bus is too hard, what in the world makes him think that schlepping across the county and back is any better? If transportation was really an issue, it would make much more sense to put it on campus, adjoining the campus (like the soon to be closed Columbia Hospital) or near the campus (like the Park East Corridor).

Paddy's second post is just as lame, if not more so. His argument is that there is already enough park space in the surrounding area, and that the butterflies should just pick up their tree and their milkweed and they move to the Park East corridor. I do believe the gentle reader is cognizant enough to see how foolish that line of thinking is.

My friend James Rowen feels that this might be a done deal, having been settled in a smoky backroom a long time ago. Likewise, David Reid feels that it is over because the County Board sees only the dollar signs from the sale and will sell out the butterflies to try to ease the Walker-induced alleged deficit.

Unfortunately, both of these learned scholars are at least partially correct. Walker's modus operandi is to set up back room deals and try to ram them through the board. And after seven long, grueling years of having to fight Walker's myopic approach to leadership, they are becoming increasing wear of making the hard decisions, of being set up as Walker's patsies, and getting blamed for all of Walker's mistakes.

But that doesn't mean it wouldn't still be wrong to do this. Just like with the proposal to move the mental health hospital, to privatize the airport, or not to staff the income maintenance program the way he should, this plan of Walker's has the stench of economic and environmental disaster all over it.

But don't just take my word for it. A good rule of thumb is to look to the people that would have to actually deal with the ramifications and get their input. That would mean the faculty of UW-Milwaukee, who are definitely not in favor of the move to Tosa:

The survey polled 298 members of UWM’s staff, 16 of whom work in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The majority of the responses were neutral category, but faculty responded most negatively to questions regarding the proposed campus in Wauwatosa.

More than 28 percent said the Wauwatosa campus would negatively affect research, 43 percent said commuting to the remote campus would be difficult, and 39 percent said education for graduate students would be hurt if the engineering college is split between two campuses.

Not only are the faculty against it, but the whole plan could fall through:

William Holahan, chairman of the UW-Milwaukee Economics Department and professor of economics said UW-Milwaukee’s long-range plans show plenty of opportunity to expand the university’s current campus. He said the university should not move ahead with buying the Milwaukee County Grounds land until more research is done.

“The planning process goes on for another year,” he said, “and it’s amazing we would be making commitments when it might not survive that year of planning.”

I wonder if the County Board has even heard of this yet. I do know that some County Board Supervisors have expressed concern that this could be some sort of bait and switch scheme for the developers to build the hotel and restaurant, and then sell the land for a huge profit. This could be seen as confirmation of that suspicion.

Knowing how the County Board works, I don't expect them to just make it easy on all of us and just vote the thing down overwhelmingly. But I do sincerely hope that they will at least agree to table it for another month at least. They should take the time to fully investigate the proposal. I think that they would find some very alarming things and that they would be glad that they didn't just rubber stamp it.

Help Barb, Izzy, me and the others get this point across by contacting your County Supervisor. Or better yet, contact them all. You can find their contact information by following this link.

Doing The Math

Scott Walker is going to force my coworkers and I to take a furlough of five hours a week. He says it's because there is a deficit, meaning that the county is spending more money that it is taking in.

But, the county gets reimbursed for the work I do, at about four times the rate that they pay me. The case management I provide to my clients is billed to Medicare, so the County gains it's money from both the state and the federal governments. If Walker intends to do this furlough for the rest of the year, the county will lose over $9,000 that I could've brought in by myself. Now multiply that by all the social workers.

Child support enforcement workers bring in more money than they cost. And if you thought the child daycare fraud was bad, how is it going to be when there is less time and thus less work put into recouping the fraudulently paid money?

This also doesn't take into account the potential fines that the County faces if things go wrong or some people don't meet state and federal regulations.

Using Walker's logic, this would be the scenario in Chez Capper: Facing an impending loss of income due to the furloughs, my wife and I look at our budget. We decide to cut spending by not going up north as much, but still have to pay the taxes, the utilities and for the propane to heat the place. Then my wife quits her job. Obviously, we would be losing more income than we are saving in spending, and run the risk of running into serious problems both financially and by neglecting the place up north.

The more I look at this, the more it seems like a political stunt to me, rather than any type of serious effort to fix an alleged budget deficit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Funny

via loldogs

Big Talker Walker

As an exclusive to Cognitive Dissidence, I am proud to be able to present to you, gentle reader, the world premiere showing of "Big Talker Walker."

As one can see, there is a log of horse manure when it comes to these two guys.

If anyone else is as creative, they are always welcome to send them to me. I will be glad to post them for you.

With special thanks to they who created this and to they who sent it to me.

Dining With The Dems

I was fortunate enough to score a couple of tickets for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders Day Gala through the union.

It was good to see some old friends like Kay, John and Ryan.

I was also fortunate enough to meet some new friends, as well as finally meet and shake hands with Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett. My wife and I were also able to get our pictures taken with these two men, which really made her day.

We were expecting only appetizers, but were pleasantly surprised to have a nice meal.

Then there were the usual speeches from Mayor Barrett, Joe Wineke (of the sinewy arms), Governor Doyle, Congressman Kagen, and of course, Congressman Obey, who was the keynote speaker and man of the hour.

The best two lines from the night were:
" homely as a basset hound on a bad day."
"al Qaeda doesn't like compromise. The Taliban doesn't like compromise. Rush Limbaugh might not like compromise. Sean Hannity might not like compromise. But adults do."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good To Know

Despite the moanings of the right, President Obama is not the antichrist:
The ultra-conservative clergy gathered in the weekend huddle on Biblical prophecy warn that the Antichrist soon will show himself. They cannot yet say who he is. But they are willing to declare who he is not.

"Some people say it's President Obama – that's just wild-eyed speculation," says Ed Hindson, author of more than 20 books on the meaning of apocalyptic scripture. "It's not Nero, it's not Charlemagne, not Napoleon, not Hitler, Stalin or Kennedy," Hindson tells people attending the Global Warning conference here. "It's not Khrushchev.

"I've heard people say it's Al Gore – trust me, nobody from Tennessee is going to conquer the world."

The article goes on to mention that these people think that the real antichrist will be from Europe. I think we all know who that means.


Lazich's Arguments Are Unmoving

From Greg Kowalski, on State Senator Mary Lazich and mass transit:
It goes to show that if there is a will, there certainly can be a way. State Senator Lazich refuses to acknowledge the will, and automatically goes to the claim that there will never be a way due to “few riders” and the “failure to reduce congestion and pollution”. Indeed, senator. So in the meantime, Lazich and her pals in the legislature enjoyed spending $1.9 billion of your tax dollars to reconstruct and add two additional lanes on I-94 from the I-894 interchange to the Illinois State Line. Furthermore, the state plans to spend upwards of $1.1 billion of your tax dollars on highway improvements in the Fox Cities, as well as upwards of $1 billion of your tax dollars to reconstruct the Zoo Interchange. Also, don’t forget the $810 million

of your tax dollars already spent on reconstructing the Marquette Interchange downtown.

Add those numbers up, folks. $4.81 BILLION of your tax dollars spent on freeways, $3 BILLION of which is in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. In the meantime, Lazich is having a hoot over a regional transit authority collecting funds to construct a $300 million commuter rail line, and conservative talk radio hosts have a bird over a $50 million downtown streetcar system and $100 million in bus rapid transit ideas. If you put the KRM, the streetcar, and BOTH Walker’s and Barrett’s bus rapid transit ideas in action, it would be roughly $550 million - which would only be a little over 1/4 what the total cost is for the I-94 project currently underway.

That alone places doubt in Lazich’s anger and points, and raises questions as to the true motives of why other means of transportation aren’t wanted by some conservative leaders and talkers.

It does make one wonder how she was able to run unopposed last year.

Serb Hall: Under New Management

Given a number of circumstances in our lives, my family decided to have dinner last night at Serb Hall, even though we were just there last week.

In case the reader is new, or may have forgotten, Serb Hall's Friday night fish fries have been a long time family favorite of ours. Unfortunately, due to the mismanagement of a pencil-necked geek who didn't appear to have a comprehension of the dining peculiarities of the average Milwaukeean, this once proud standard bearer became a vulgar joke.

During the glory days, Serb Hall would have a lengthy line of people waiting to be seated. Even though the crack crew would keep things flowing at a real good pace, wait times of 30-45 minutes were not uncommon. After the change, there were no wait times. The parking lot, which was often full of both parked cars and people circling around looking for a spot, was darn near empty.

In other words, the new manager was drove one of the most popular fish fries into the ground.

In an example of too little too late, the new manager, John Cwiklik, started restoring some of the previous practices that had made their fish fry so popular.

Imagine are surprise when we walked in last night and were greeted by Tim, the usual host, who immediately told us that Cwiklik was gone and introduced us to the new manager, George. (We later found out his last name is Sweet, or something like that.)

Of course, due to it being a personnel issue, we never found out what just happened, but we heard a lot of rumors from the floor staff. I think that the obvious answer is that Cwiklik had driven the business into the ground and that he never got it back. The last straw was probably the very disappointing Lenten season they had.

George has much more personality than Cwiklik ever had, and hopefully will also be much more knowledgeable in how to run a business like Serb Hall. It is too soon to tell if he will be able to bring the people back in the numbers that they once enjoyed, but I certainly hope so. Last night, the parking lot was once again nearly empty and there was no waiting time whatsoever.

But for selfish reasons (I really do like their fish fries, and we do have a friend that works there) and for the sake of a regional institution, I sure hope that they can pull it around.

I'm sure I'll be letting you know of how it goes, but what would be better is if you gave it a try yourself.

Van Hollen: Aiding and Abetting Criminals

The Racine County District Attorney caved in to the special interests and chose not to uphold the law by deciding not to press charges against a guy who was illegally transporting a gun within the prohibited range of a school. Why did the DA chose not to do his job? Because of Van Hollen:

Racine County District Attorney Mike Nieskes sent him a letter Friday, saying he wouldn't be charged, even though he was violating a law by carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

"I have decided it would not be in the greater interest of justice in the community to charge you with violation of Wisconsin Statute regarding gun free zones," Nieskes wrote.

Nieskes noted that the man has no criminal record, and there was no showing of irresponsible use of the firearm.

He also cited a recent memo issued by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen that people have a constitutional right to openly carry firearms, as long as they aren't violating restrictions set in other laws. But Van Hollen also said police have the right to check anyone openly carrying a gun.

This highlights the necessity of an ordinance that is being considered in St. Francis, in which the police will be able to enforce the law, even if the DA chickens out of doing his job.

It also highlights the necessity to have a rational Attorney General. Has anyone heard of who might run to replace the dysfunctional one we currently have?

This story was also noted on Badger Blogger. At the risk of getting the limp-wristed ones upset with me again, I would advise the reader to check out the comments that are already appearing, keeping in mind, who is the rational people in this debate.

Local Leader Has No Vision

JSOnline is reporting that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has surgery to repair a detached retina:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke suffered a detached retina in his right eye, causing him to have emergency eye surgery Thursday, according to a news release dated Saturday morning by the department.

The news release does not say how or when Clarke suffered the injury or where he had the surgery.

The recovery period for this type of injury is 6 to 8 weeks. The first two weeks require limited movement and his vision will be impaired, which will prevent Clarke from making any public appearances during that time, according to the information from the sheriff's department.

While I wish Clarke a rapid and successful recover, this raises two questions:
  1. Will he try to say the injury was from over a year and half ago, excusing his helping and abetting a drunk driver?
  2. How long before Scott Walker uses this excuse for his lack of vision for Milwaukee County for the past seven years?

"Dragged Out and Miserable"

The trial for Leilani Neumann started today, with a bit of excitement. From WSAW-TV:

ADA LaMont Jacobson delivered the opening statement. It was halted for nearly 45 minutes after the defendant apparently fainted in the court room.

Jacobson was giving the prosecutions opening statement at the time. He was detailing the last days of Kara Neumann's life when Leilani Neumann collapsed.

Her attorney, Gene Linehan told the judge Neumann suffered a complete emotional and mental breakdown.

The judge ordered security to call 911.

About a half hour later, Neumann was brought back into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

Her attorney told the judge medical officials from the ambulance checked her blood pressure and checked her heart and she is now ready to proceed.

She was removed from the wheelchair and placed in a regular chair before the jury returned and court resumed.

I don't know, but that sounds a bit off. Was it really a breakdown? If so, it was an amazing recovery. Was it a bit of courtroom dramatics to elicit the sympathy of the jury? That's always possible. Most likely it was just a guilty conscience and anxiety as she realized that she killed her daughter and now she is up the creek without a prayer paddle.

But there are two other points of interest.

The first is compare how objective the above reporting is compared to the opinionated reporting from JSOnline (via Illy-T):
Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard's order was particularly ironic — directing medical attention for a woman on trial for refusing to do that for her dying daughter.
The other point is just think about what poor Kara Neumann went through:

Before the statement was interrupted, Jacobson told the jury the trial is not about a parent's right to raise a child as they see fit, nor is it about anyone's right to pray.

He says it's about Kara Neumann's needless suffering and death.

He also said her sister told authorities Kara was so weak she couldn't walk or talk, only being able to grunt the last couple days of her life.

After the delay, Jacobson detailed how many people told the Neumanns their daughter needed medical attention, but they refused, saying her condition was a test of faith.

Afterward, Jacobson says an aunt in California finally called the Marathon County sheriff's department to send help. When authorities arrived, the girl was already not breathing.

Jacobson told the jury forensic tests showed the girl died of untreated diabetes and that she had a chance to survive right up until the time 911 was called the day she died.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walker Vs. Neumann: Can You Tell The Difference?

Because I sure can't:

(Yeah, I know it's been out for a while, but I've been busy.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walker Strikes Back

Scott Walker announced today that he was going to impose a five hour per week furlough on all county workers, with the exemption of those which work in 24 hour care positions, law enforcement officers and correction officers.

Being a county worker myself, I knew this day was coming. We had heard as early as March that he wanted a large cut in staffing by midyear. I felt it was a sure thing when both Mayor Tom Barrett and Governor Jim Doyle announced plans for furloughs and layoffs. After all, Walker couldn't allow a couple of Democrats out-weasel him!

Now, I am not happy about it. In fact, I am down right scared. But given the current economy, other people getting furloughed, if not laid off completely, I can't really complain. At least I am still working.

But this whole thing does raise quite a number of interesting questions and observations that I would like to have answered:

-For example, as you can imagine, since I do hold a couple of positions in the union, my phone has been ringing off the hook and my emails have been non-stop. I have been in contact with various union and county officials and other sources of information. No one but Walker can seem to find the actual deficit. No cabinet department heads, as far as I have learned yet, have reported a deficit, or even a projected deficit. This would be required by county ordinance that they report it within so many days. Is this just a fabricated deficit so that Walker can look tough and responsible to the right wing fringe?

-If the budget is in such dire straits, why hasn't he canceled his tax-payer funded campaign motorcycle ride?

-If the budget is in such dire straits, why hasn't he rescinded the overly generous raises he gave his cronies in his inner circle? This would include Tim Russell, who was his campaign manager at least twice while he was running for county executive. Russell is currently Walker's assistant chief-of-staff, and was previously the economic development director. It was in that job that he was supposed to bring in $7 million dollars in land sales, but brought in $250,000.

-Speaking of economic development, according to the article, Supervisor Schmitt criticizes Walker:
Supervisor James "Luigi" Schmitt criticized Walker's administration for submitting unrealistically optimistic budgets that later force action by the County Board. For example, Walker's budget for this year counted on $6 million from sales of county land, money that no longer is expected to materialize. The board included the figure in its 2009 budget.
How did Walker propose to sell that much land when he abolished the position of economic development director? It's hard to sell anything if you don't have a salesperson.

-Speaking of the paper's article, how did Steve Schultze get the news, do interviews (including Abelson, who is out of town on vacation), and write his story, have it edited, and have it posted by 4:49 pm, when we only were notified, via email, 45 minutes earlier. Furthermore, this was an updated report, which means he had done a story even earlier. Related to this is how did Preview McIlheran have his talking points so fast. It does make it seem more and more like a rehearsed publicity stunt than an actual crisis. Will he claim our lost wages as campaign donations?

-Speaking of the deficit, why was Walker claiming the $14 million dollars even before 2009 even started? Again, it does seem contrived.

-Doyle forced state workers to take 16 days, or 128 hours, of furlough over two years. Walker is forcing county workers to take 130 hours in six months. Does that mean Walker is four times worse at budgeting than Doyle?

-The paper reports that this furlough is a 12.5% cut for workers. County ordinance requires anything over 10% to go through the Board. Yet no one on the Board were aware of this before the workers were. Will this even stand? Will the Board finally take action against Walker for breaking the law, yet again?

-Whatever happened to the money designated for 717 positions which Walker never filled?

-The paper reports that part of the supposed deficit is due to overtime at the mental health complex, which was caused by staff shortages due to Walker cutting staff hours. So to cure the problem he is going to do more of the same?

-One has to wonder how much of the budget problem could have been alleviated if Walker hadn't obfuscated, obstructed and confabulated the issues around the stimulus funding.

-The usual suspects will express glee at the news. I wonder how the general public will feel when they recognize that this also means a 12.5% cut in services, and all of the ramifications that go with it.

-Walker told the paper it hasn't been decided on how to enforce the furloughs, but we have already been told that part of it.

-The article reports that the furloughs ""remain in full force and effect" until he issues another edict, the county executives' order states." Yet the email we received states "my intent is to return to normal working hours as soon as the County has resolved its 2009 funding gap." Either way, it is illegal. He is required to give specific starting and ending dates, not indefinite time lines such as these.

I don't know if these furloughs will stick, or if they do, in what form. But there are some bright sides for me personally if Walker does get his way. It will give me more time to do the things that need to be done, like cutting my dad's lawn, doing the grocery shopping, and getting a early start on trips up north. It will also give me time to work on a few special projects.

For Walker though it will have a couple of down sides to it. I think he will suffer a bigger backlash than he realizes when people, especially the elderly and the poor, start to feel the pain of his cutbacks in services. Another drawback for Walker is that it will also give me time to work on a few special projects.

Cheap Shot Walker

In my opinion Scott Walker broke the code by punching a guy that wasn't ready to fight, watch the tape Ward had no intention of fighting he still had his gloves on. That is a sucker punch. There is no sense to Scott Walker's act of thuggery and Walker is very lucky that Bruins tough guy Lucic wasn't able to get a hold of him.

This one too.

Time To Unite


No Comment Necessary

I don't think that is what they meant, but still, it just looks really, really bad.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Daddio

Right wing misogynist calls liberals "women-haters."

Another example: Grumps explains, Other Side provides an example.

Art Imitates Life

Today's Butterfly Post... over here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Walker's Next Campaign Talking Point

Ever desperate to gain any sort of traction against his yet unofficially announced primary rival, Mark Neumann, I bet I can make a guess at Scott Walker's next talking point.

Last week, Walker* proclaimed last Friday to be Danny Gokey Day.

This obviously jinxed young Gokey, as he was voted off the island tonight.

Tomorrow, we will see Walker issue a press release, through one of his usual spokespeople, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or more likely, Charlie Sykes' email, that Gokey lost because Governor Jim Doyle's proposed budget.

*Yes, I know Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also issued one of those silly proclamations for Gokey Day, but he's not running for governor, is he?

Another Example Of Right Wing Hypocrisy

When President Jimmy Carter criticized George W. Bush for his inept and corrupt presidency, the right wing was outraged. Just this one example will give you the flavor of their mood:

Carter's a disgrace.

He was a miserable failure when he was in office. Absolutely miserable!

There's no question that Carter was an embarrassment as a president.

Jimmy should stick to building houses. His persistent criticism of Bush is unprecedented. Past former presidents have not made a habit out of openly bashing the sitting president.

As usual, Carter is misguided in his ideas about what's right for the country. Now, in his old age, he has become as insufferable as he is wrong.
So why is that I only see right wingers now either ignoring, if not agreeing with (yes, the same blogger), Dick Cheney when he slanders President Barack Obama?

Hopefully, their hypocrisy and hate will have a strong backlash, and the country can continue to move forward again.

Deer Justice Upheld

I told the gentle reader about how the deer-killing jerks in Waupaca County were trying to claim that they couldn't be charged with animal abuse because you can't abuse wild animals, only domestic ones.

My good friend Illusory Tenant showed off his deep wisdom by pointing out the fact that an animal is an animal, period.

The judge concurred with Illy-T. The article says that the thug might try to appeal it.

Judging on the mood of the people in the area the last time I was up there, said thug might want to stay in jail. It would be safer for him.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Another success for the profiteers:
The longstanding debate over how much work the state should contract to private engineers is resurfacing in the wake of a state audit released Tuesday.

The audit (PDF) revealed that on 125 projects, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation hired private engineers even though cost estimates (PDF) completed between March 2007 and June 2008 indicated it would be cheaper to use in-house staff. WisDOT estimated it would cost $1.16 million more to hire private consultants than to use in-house staff for the projects.

The department is turning to private engineers more often because it does not have enough employees to do the work, said Mark Klipstein, president of the Wisconsin State Engineering Association, which represents engineers employed by government agencies.

The article goes on to say such wonderful things as that no one at WISDOT is even monitoring these private contractors enough to be sure what it is they're supposed to be doing.

But there's even more. This should make you feel better as you're traveling the state on your summer vacation:

The Legislative Audit Bureau created the report at the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee after indications Streu Construction Co., Two Rivers, was not paving thick enough concrete on WisDOT highways.

The audit did not find proof highways were not being built to specifications, but it found projects where contractors and WisDOT were not keeping enough records about pavement thickness tests.

The audit studied 20 WisDOT projects performed between 2006 and 2008 and found 11 of them did not have enough documentation proving contractors measured highways to confirm they were built to the correct thickness. The audit made a number of recommendations to WisDOT to improve its quality control and warned those improvements should be complete in time to affect work on projects receiving federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dual Dissonance

Two sides: Liberal and conservative.

Two issues: Abortion and the proposed smoking ban.

Two Incidents of dissonance:
Liberals want to ban smoking in public settings, because exposure to second hand smoke can cause cancer, heart problems, etc., and could kill you. Conservatives think it should be the choice of the business.

Conservatives say abortion should be banned because it kills babies. Liberals think that the choice should be up to the woman.

The First Annual Paranoid Sociopaths Picnic

WEAU TV is reporting that a group of gun lovers, headed by one Hubert Hoffman, want to hold a picnic for fellow gun lovers. The picnic is supposed to be for those that support open carry opinion of J. B. Van Hollen.

The Badger Blogger guys are all excited. They're not the only ones, so are these idiots.

I remember from just three years ago the results of someone bringing his gun to a picnic in the park.

But judging from the gun lover/sociopath in the news report, and the things that Van Hollen has been saying, this is obviously nothing more than a heavy handed method of trying to force concealed carry down our throats.

But there is a problem to their faulty logic. Even if Wisconsin would be asinine enough to pass a CCW law, that would do nothing to eliminate the likes Hoffman or the other open carry advocates.

What it would do is set the two at odds with each other, in the sense of who could be the bigger detriment to society. Would it be the untrained, open carry guy, or would it be the trained and certified, but concealed carry guy. I could see a lot of arguments about which is better, who is faster, who is more dangerous, etc. Boy, picnics could be a lot more interesting with Uncle Louie and Cousin Mikey having contests like that. Just make sure the potato salad is in a bullet proof dish. Not that anyone will have much appetite after Aunt Betty gets offed by a stray bullet.

And CCW wouldn't be a great thing anyway. If you have Joe Schmoe that fails the training course for CCW, he can always strap his steel to his thigh openly and still go out to kill someone.

Thanks for that J.B.

But it does lead to an interesting question: Is there any sane people running for Attorney General next year?

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Committee Of No Economic or Community Development

Needless to say, I was more than disappointed to learn of the news that the so-called County Board Economic and Community Development Committee foolishly voted to recommend all but giving away the county grounds to a private developer.

In a nutshell, this committee has ignored its obligation to the community and ignored the promise that the board had made to preserve the county grounds, in order for it to sell this land at a very low rate to a private developer that claims ties to UWM, but really is not of UWM. Not only did they do this, but they did it in such a haphazard, sloppy way, that there are no guarantees that the developer will do what they are saying they would do.

Supervisor Toni Clark issued a press release proudly announcing this fiasco. In said release, she wrote:
“This is a great opportunity for our academic and medical institutions to generate world-class research,” said Supervisor Clark, Chairperson of the Committee. “The Milwaukee County community will be better served through this type of partnership than if a private developer had taken over this property.”
Except that even I, and the gentle reader, had already known that this was a private developer that was taking over the land. The Board also knew it. One of the friends of the Monarchs produced a letter from the UW Board of Regents openly stating that this developer group was not under the authority of the UW system.

Clark goes on to write:
The Committee approved a key amendment to the purchase agreement that calls for the creation of a replacement butterfly habitat. The butterfly landscaping plan will be developed by UWM, County Parks staff, Milwaukee Public Museum curatorial staff and the Friends of the Monarch Trail. “We had a spirited discussion with members of the public and representatives from UWM at today’s meeting, and I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement that allows us to move forward while respecting the Monarch Trail,” Supervisor Clark added.
A landscaping plan? What does that even mean? A two foot by two foot plot of grass with a plastic butterfly yard decoration stuck in it? That is a meaningless term. I might have felt better if the language was for a conservation easement or a wildlife easement, which has a legal definition, and could be enforced.

And if that bit of legal laziness wasn't bad enough, the committee members were also informed that the agreement has already been broken. If the gentle reader will recall, I did a post yesterday with pictures of my young friend Izzy and her mom hugging a sycamore tree. I've been informed that there was an agreement that no work would be done within 200 feet of the area where this tree stands. It has now been reported to me, and to the board, that trees have been felled less than a 100 feet of this area. If they're breaking promises now, why would anyone believe that they will keep their word later?

But wait, there's more. This deal is really starting to have a weasel musk stink to it.

Remember, Scott Walker promised that he would not allow any development for this land, except for it to be a state forest. Obviously Walker broke this promise and has been pushing for this deal, originally with even cheaper rates for the private developer.

But if one looks at all of UWM's legal papers regarding this deal, there is a common name of Bruce T. Block. Mr. Block, by all I have heard, is a very capable and knowledgeable attorney that specializes in real estate deals. Mr. Block is also on the Board of Directors at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren law firm. This is the same law firm that has ties to the the pension scandal, and will be surely brought up in the Mercer lawsuit. This is also the same law firm that was the previous, and now, again, the current employer of Rick Graber, former head of the RPW and a big Walker supporter.

Now, I am not saying that this necessarily means any wrongdoing or other type of shenanigans have occurred or are occurring, but the connection is very interesting, in my humble opinion.

I have also heard that once the zoo interchange reconstruction is completed in a few years, land value in that area is going to triple. Since the committee didn't see fit to put concrete language that would lock UWM and its supposed land developer to do what they said they were going to do, what would keep them from flipping the property in a few years?

SIDE NOTE I: James Rowen has more on how goofy this whole thing is.

SIDE NOTE II: Showing their consistency in being inconsistent, the editorial board at the local paper notes that they think this is a good thing on their blog. Ironically, on the same day, they post a complaint that there is not not enough minorities in the suburban fire departments, totally ignoring the fact that the engineering school they are touting also has a dearth of minorities.

SIDE NOTE III: Kudos go out to Supervisors Lipscomb and West for voting no to this piece of garbage. Kudos also go out to Supervisor Weishan, who recognizing this was a bad deal, still tried to make the best of it by introducing a resolution that $2 million from the sale of this land go for tuition for women and minorities to attend the school of engineering, with a matching amount from UWM. Unfortunately, UWM is too greedy to agree and too many board members took the path of least resistance and made the lazy choice by voting it down.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, this isn't necessarily a done deal yet. It still has to go in front of the full board on May 21.

I will not lie to you, gentle reader. I do not know if there is enough supervisors on the board that still care enough about their community and their constituents to vote this thing down. Unfortunately, it appears that there are many supervisors that only see the dollar signs and are thinking of the major budgetary deficit that Walker has driven the county into. They would rather be lazy and take the easy way out by caving in to Walker and his cronies than to make some hard decisions, advocate for the county and offer up more reasonable solutions, like putting the new campus near Columbia Hospital or in the Park East corridor.

But what we can do is continue to call the supervisors. Continue to send the letters and the emails. And don't do this just for your supervisor, but try to contact all of them. (Well, maybe not Cesarz or Rice. They are too far in Walker's camp to make rational decisions. But you could try anyway.)

Tell them how priceless this land is, what it means to you and to the community as a whole. Tell them how essential this land is to not only the Monarchs, but for the other animals that live there or make it part of their migration. And how important it is to the people that go there to learn more about the world around them, or just to soak in and be refreshed by the beauty of the land.

Ask them to look at other, more attractive options, like the Park East area. That would be a win-win deal. It would give UWM a lot of ground near hospitals, near other schools, and near their own campus. It would meet all their needs. And it would allow something constructive to be done with the Park East area, which Walker's people have been unable to come up with on their own.

And if they still refuse to stand up and do their jobs, then demand that they put in language into the deal that will guarantee and force UWM and their private land developer buddies have to protect the Monarch Trail. Demand that they will build a school there, and keep it there, not just to build a resort hotel and a restaurant. Also demand that UWM must maintain the land and not just sell it in a few years for a massive profit. Tell them that the County and UWM should put forth tuition contributions so that there can be people in these programs that might not have otherwise have had the chance to go into these fields.

And then get your family and friends to do the same. If we all do this, they will have to hear us.