Friday, February 24, 2017

OASD Conducting Self-Evaluation of Pupil Nondiscrimination

The Oshkosh Area School District is in the process of conducting a self-evaluation of pupil nondiscrimination and equality of educational opportunities in the district.

This self-evaluation is in accordance with PI 9.06, Wis. Admin. Code, and must take place at least once every five years. To meet the evaluation and reporting requirements, the district must evaluate the status of nondiscrimination and equality of educational opportunity in the following three areas:
 Methods, practices, curriculum, and materials used in counseling
 Participation trends and patterns, and school district support of athletic, extracurricular, and recreational activities
 Trends and patterns in awarding scholarships and other forms of recognition and achievement provided or administered by the district

The Oshkosh Area School District would like to make sure that all residents of the district have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation process. A data review and planning session will take place at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in the Oshkosh Area School District Office Board Room (215 S. Eagle St.). There will also be a written report of the evaluation available for review upon its approval by the OASD Board of Education.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Celebrate Dr. Seuss at Oshkosh Public Library

Feb. 23, 2017 – You’ll have more fun than a fox in socks at the annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Saturday, March 4, at the Oshkosh Public Library.

Families are invited to join in the celebration from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the library’s lower level. The event will include engaging activities for all ages - games and crafts, birthday cake, a book zoo and a giant birthday card for families to sign. There will be a colorful Seuss-themed backdrop for family photos and a special treat this year: Balloon twister Stacey Schmude will dazzle with her balloon creations for the kids.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this annual birthday party is watching parents and children reading and celebrating books together, according to Marie Boleman, Head of Children’s & Family Outreach Services. It’s also a chance for the library to show parents creative ways to make learning fun.

“Kids who are signing the giant Dr. Seuss birthday card can show off their vocabulary by writing a creative word that they think best describes the author’s books,” Boleman says. “They can challenge themselves with games like Add & Estimate with One Fish, Two Fish and other activities on the library’s SmartBoard.”

Registration is not required for the Dr. Seuss birthday celebration. For more information about resources, programs and events for children and families, call 236-5208 or visit www.oshkoshpubliclibrary.org.

City of Oshkosh to implement Residential Rental Inspections Program mid‐February

A program designed to protect the health and safety of rental residents in the Oshkosh community will begin in mid‐February. The Oshkosh Common Council approved the Residential Rental Inspection Program September 13, 2016.

The Council created the program in response to findings that a significant percentage of housing code complaints and violations were occurring within rental properties leading to an adverse effect on residents and neighborhoods, contributing to decreased property values and neighborhood blight. The intent of the program is to encourage Oshkosh rental property owners to exercise their responsibility to meet code requirements to provide safe and sanitary living conditions for their tenants. Program guidelines were drafted in keeping with current Wisconsin state law that requires rental inspection programs to be regularly scheduled, uniform, and city‐wide. Health and safety concerns could include:  inoperable/broken smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, broken/missing guardrails, water leaks, lack of heat or hot water, improper electrical connections, broken windows, improper vent connections and more.  Any identified violations must be corrected by the rental property owner within 30 days.

Since adoption, a lawsuit has been brought forward challenging this program. While the city is confident that the program ordinance was drafted in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, the city still believes a legislative solution is the best way to address any concerns raised with the program. Until such time that a legislative solution can be reached, the city will be defending the lawsuit in federal court.  

(Editor’s Note: On Monday, February 13, 2017. the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin issued an order denying the Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction that sought to prevent the City of Oshkosh from moving forward with its Rental Inspection Program. The Court determined that the Plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for issuance of an injunction because they were unlikely to succeed on their Fourth Amendment claim and had failed to make any showing of a likelihood of success on the merits as to their state law claims.)

The program divides the city into five sections with each section containing 2,800‐3,000 rental units. The city will focus on one section each year. For 2017 the area immediately surrounding the University of Wisconsin‐Oshkosh will be inspected. The city’s website (www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us) has a “Hot Topic” item describing the Residential Rental Inspections Program which includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet on the program, a map of the five inspection areas, an inspection checklist, and links to informational videos about the program. For more information please contact the Inspections Services Division at 236‐5050.

For readers’ information, the FAQs are posted below, courtesy of the City of Oshkosh:
Residential Rental Inspection Program Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why was this program created?
The Council created the program in response to findings that a significant percentage of housing code complaints and violations were occurring within rental properties leading to an adverse effect on residents and neighborhoods, contributing to decreased property values and neighborhood blight. The intent of the program is to encourage Oshkosh rental property owners to exercise their responsibility to meet code requirements to provide safe and sanitary living conditions for their tenants.  Program guidelines were drafted in keeping with Wisconsin State Law that requires rental inspection programs to be regularly scheduled, uniform, and city‐wide. The Oshkosh Common Council approved the Residential Rental Inspection Program September 13, 2016.

2. What is the status of the program?
Inspections are scheduled to begin mid‐February 2017. Since adoption, a lawsuit has been brought forward challenging this program. While the City is confident that the program ordinance was drafted in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, the City still believes a legislative solution is the best way to address any concerns raised with the program. Until such time that a legislative solution can be reached, the City will be defending the lawsuit in federal court.   
(Editor’s Note: On Monday, February 13, 2017. the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin issued an order denying the Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction that sought to prevent the City of Oshkosh from moving forward with its Rental Inspection Program. The Court determined that the Plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for issuance of an injunction because they were unlikely to succeed on their Fourth Amendment claim and had failed to make any showing of a likelihood of success on the merits as to their state law claims.)

3. What does the program include?
Staff will inspect rental properties to ensure they are meeting health and safety codes. Health and safety concerns could include:  inoperable/broken smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, broken/missing guardrails, water leaks, lack of heat or hot water, improper electrical connections, broken windows, improper vent connections and more.   Any identified violations must be corrected by the rental property owner within 30 days.

4. Which rental properties need to be registered and inspected?
All rented Residential Rental Dwelling Units that are not owner‐occupied. Exemptions include: State- owned, licensed, or certified facilities such as dorms, nursing homes, convalescent homes; community-based residential facilities; hospitals or other medical facilities; hotels, motels.

5. Why do we need the program? Can’t the city inspect based only on complaints?
The City can and still will inspect based upon complaints, however, experience has shown that complaint‐based inspections alone do not address neighborhood‐wide problems, and tenants are unaware of minimum health/safety codes, and can be reluctant to report them.

6. Why doesn’t the program just focus on the rental properties surrounding the University of Wisconsin‐Oshkosh or just the non‐compliant landlords?
Current state law requires a residential rental inspection program to be regularly scheduled, uniform, and city‐wide. The City continues to seek a legislative solution that will allow the City to implement the program on a neighborhood basis.

7. How will this program be paid for?
The City will fund the Residential Rental Inspection Program with the fees generated from the rental units inspected. No City general tax dollars will be used, so no other property owners will be paying for this program. The fees will fund the expenses associated with the program.

8. What are the Fees?
There is no fee for rental unit contact listing & registration. Inspections would occur once every 5 years. Fees for inspections are as follows:
 One unit: $100 trip charge plus $45 per unit = $145
 Two Units: $100 trip charge plus $45 x 2 units = $190
 10 Units: $100 trip charge plus $45 x10 units = $550
 The trip charge would be charged each time the inspector would inspect a residential rental unit. 

Example: 10 trips to inspect 10 units would cost $100 trip charge x 10 trips equals $1,000 plus $45/unit $450 totaling $1,000 = $450 = $1,450

Because units will be inspected once every 5 years under this program, based upon the current fees, when considered over a 5-year period, the fee for a single unit would be no more than $2.42 per month.

9. What do I need to do if I am a rental property owner in the City of Oshkosh?
Rental property owners must provide contact information for the rental unit by calling the Inspection Services Division at 236‐5050 or visiting the Inspection Services page (www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us/evolvepublic) on the City’s website. Unless the property’s contact information changes, it does not need to be updated.

10. Where can I find more information?
The City’s website (www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us) has a “Hot Topic” item describing the Residential Rental Inspections Program which includes a map of the five inspection areas, an inspection checklist, and links to informational videos about the program. For more information please contact the Inspections Services Division at 236‐5050.

Canadian National to close Oregon Street Thursday for railroad crossing repair

OSHKOSH, Wis. February 23, 2017 – Canadian National Railroad has closed Oregon Street at the railroad crossing immediately south of the Oregon Street and W. 28th Avenue intersection. The closure is anticipated to continue through Friday, February 24. 2014  

Signs have been posted at the intersections of Oregon Street and W. 24th Avenue, as well as Oregon Street and W. Waukau Avenue to notify motorist of closed access on Oregon Street.  

Access to W. 28th Street will be maintained at all times. Alternate routes via side streets will be open to local traffic.  Motorists are urged to be cautious when approaching the intersection of W. 28th Avenue and Oregon Street.  

Temporary detour signs will be posted for truck traffic following the city’s designated truck route.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Court of Appeals reverses Circuit Court decision in Oshkosh Pub Crawl lawsuit


OSHKOSH, Wis. February 15, 2017 – The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has reversed a Winnebago County Circuit Court decision that had dismissed a City of Oshkosh lawsuit against Joseph Kubiak for costs associated with the Oshkosh Pub Crawl event.

The City of Oshkosh requires organizers of special events within the City to apply for a permit and pay for any extraordinary services associated with their event. For several years Mr. Kubiak has organized an event within the City consisting of a pub crawl along Main Street.

The Pub Crawl is a drinking event where primarily college students walk downtown and patronize local taverns. The event requires Police and Fire Department services, as well as barricades and clean up services from the Public Works Department. When Mr. Kubiak refused to obtain a permit and pay for the City services associated with the event, the City filed a lawsuit seeking reimbursement. After holding a trial in early 2016, the Circuit Court ruled that the City’s Special Event Ordinance was unconstitutionally vague because it did not define the word “organizer.” The Court of Appeals has determined that the ordinance was, in fact, constitutional.

Later, the City revised the ordinance to include more specific examples of conduct that does or does not define someone as an organizer. These changes made the ordinance easier for the public to understand and for staff to apply.

The City believes that the charges for the services provided to the Pub Crawl event were reasonable and necessary to ensure a safe event, and believes that the costs of providing those services should not be paid by City taxpayers, but should be paid by the person who organized and profited from the event.

The Court of Appeals decision sends the case back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent with their decision. At this time, the City is reviewing the Court’s decision and its options pertaining to this matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Court denies preliminary injunction in Rental Inspection Program lawsuit against city

Court denies preliminary injunction in Rental Inspection Lawsuit

OSHKOSH, Wis. February 13, 2017 – The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has issued an order denying the Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction that sought to prevent the City of Oshkosh from moving forward with its Rental Inspection Program. The Court determined that the Plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for issuance of an injunction because they were unlikely to succeed on their Fourth Amendment claim and had failed to make any showing of a likelihood of success on the merits as to their state law claims.

The City is pleased with the Court’s decision denying the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction. The City believes that the ordinance is an important tool to protect the health, safety, and welfare of tenants and neighbors and one that was carefully crafted to meet the requirements of both state and federal law.

Although the Court concluded that the plaintiffs could not show that they were likely to succeed on the merits challenging the City’s ordinance as it is currently drafted, the City has proposed changes to the ordinance that the City believes will improve the clarity of the ordinance. The Court referenced these changes in its decision and the City still plans to move forward with those amendments at the Oshkosh Common Council meeting scheduled Tuesday, February 14th at 6 p.m.

For more information about the Rental Inspection Program, visit the city website, www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us, or call Communications Coordinator, Emily Springstroh at (920) 236‐5269.

Frozen road law comes to an end

Warmer temperatures mean frozen road law coming to an end - Spring Thaw and Class II road restrictions to be implemented
Changes take effect Saturday in Zones 3, 4 and 5 (southern half of Wisconsin), and on Monday in Zones 1 and 2 (northern half of the state)

Due to predicted warmer weather, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is announcing the frozen road declaration will end soon - along with implementation of Spring Thaw and Class II road restrictions. The changes take effect Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. in Zones 3, 4 and 5 (roughly the southern half of the state) and on Monday, February 20th at 12:01 a.m. in Zones 1 and 2 (northern half of Wisconsin).

Class II roads include about 1,400 miles of state highways susceptible to damage from heavy trucks during the spring thaw period as frost leaves the ground. More information regarding Class II roadways and roadway postings can be found on WisDOT’s website by looking under “Weight Restriction Programs.”

Declaration of Spring Thaw also means suspension of most divisible load overweight permits including permit numbers beginning with any of the following two-letter codes:  AC, AG, FF, MI, PB and RF.

Non-divisible load permit restriction: The following permit types are not valid on Class II Highways during spring thaw and may not exceed posted weight on any road or bridge: AA, AP, BH, GG, II, MH, MP, SA, SM, SS and ST. Transportation of liquid milk products under non-divisible permit type AA is also suspended.

County highways, town roads, and city and village streets may also be posted or limited to legal load limits or less. Decisions to place or lift weight restrictions on those roads are up to local units of government. More information on overweight permits can be found on the WisDOT website by searching under “oversize overweight permits.” Haulers with specific questions can contact WisDOT’s Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit at (608) 266-7320. A recorded message with general information on road restrictions is available by calling (608) 266-8417.