Thursday, April 28, 2005

Each person can make a difference

[The following was sent to us by an anonymous contributor]

The Slippery Slope
by David Walinski (Louisville, KY)

First they came after same-sex couples who wanted to get married, but because I didn't want to get married, I said nothing.

Then they came after couples who wanted to adopt children, but because I didn't want to raise children, I said nothing.

Then they came after gays and lesbians who wanted to be foster parents, but because I didn't want to be bothered with kids, I said nothing.

Then they reduced benefits for people with AIDS, but because I didn't have AIDS, I said nothing.

Then they started passing laws making it legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but since I was self-employed, I said nothing.

Then they closed down the gay bars as a health hazard, but since I didn't go to bars, I kept quiet.

Then they reinstated sodomy laws, but when I spoke up, there was no one left to speak up with me.

(Sound familiar?) The point is we should all get involved in whatever causes we feel are just and right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Has Esslinger lost it?

Contributed by: Anonymous
After last nights council meeting I am starting to wonder if Paul has lost his perspective. I voted for the guy but was a little concerned about the ongoing negative spin he puts on just about every issue. Don't we have better things to focus on than the zoo admission fees? This is a non-issue!!! The plan has been in place for a while but Paul thinks it is necessary to bring it up a week or so before the zoo opens. I take the kids to the zoo probably 3-4 times a year. I buy a family pass to support the zoo for $12.00. It isnt in competition with the N.E.W. Zoo or Milwaukee's Zoo. It is a nice place to visit a few times in the Summer. The plan to replace exotic species with indigenous is a good one!

I believe the focus should be on street repairs and development. Issues that are much more pertinent to citizens in this city. Why are we wasting time at council meetings on these types of issues. I listen to this discussion and cringe as I think that any day now truck #48 will be coming down my pot-holed road to "fill in" the holes with black top. We see this guy every year, and it does absolutely nothing for the street. I cringe at the thought that my terrace in front of my house continues to erode every year, and the apron has standing water in it 60% of the time.

Is it grandstanding on his part as Ms. Strand mentioned last night. Or just a guy who is nit picking every issue he can to seem to be the "people's" candidate. Well Paul, this person is tired of the negative spin on things that make Oshkosh what it is, and a decent place to live.

Let's get our priorities straight here!

Jim B.

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 05:14 PM MDT
I understand exactly why Paul made the suggestion that he did and certainly don't think it is something to beat him up over. I won't speak for him because he did an excellent job speaking for himself and standing up to Heidi Strand for her snide, rude and at least some unfounded remarks.

My concern with the direction the zoo is taking is two-fold: First this is a park and we can only put so much into it. If people want expanding exhibits, perhaps the city needs to look at a special piece of property on which just to have a zoo. But the park, while still somewhat beautiful, is being destroyed with all this stockade fencing and some exhibits which simply don't come out for the public to see.

Second, there is not enough space, in my opinion, to adequately keep these animals.

Incidentally, your comment was that exotic exhibits were being replaced with indigenous ones. I didn't realize elk were indigenous to Wisconsin.

Elk and where they live....
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 06:12 PM MDT

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 07:36 AM MDT
Pure and simple, it was grandstanding. There is a process in place to deal with issues such as zoo fees, and circumventing the Parks Advisory Board showed Mr. Esslinger's lack of regard for the process of city government.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 12:07 PM MDT
Does anyone remember the "park" when families could actually use it for picnics, and watching the fireworks on the 4th of July? It was a peaceful beautiful passive park. Now there is ten pounds of sh-- in a five pound package.

We no longer use the park as citizens for what we would like but rather we pay for encampment people from outside the city to come and camp out dig up the lawn for camp fires and allow their dogs to run in the park, a priviledge by the way no local taxpayer has!

You also seem to have forgotten the promises made by the Zoological society that theier would never be a fee for these exhibits nor taxpayers dollars to maintain them, as they were to do the fund raising to pay for this grand idea. They lied and no one has ever held them up for this!!! Shame on the Parks director, City Manager and Council members for not being better stewarts of our money and making sure promises are kept!

Paul you keep doing the job you promised us you were going to do. Nit picking my aunt fanny, your the only one that asks any questions, demands answers and hold (or atleast trys to hold) any one accountable.

Hey Jim B, if you like taking the kids to the "zoo" great, I like sending mine to dance lessons, how about you pay for that too huh? Or maybe the city could build a dance studio and we can all pay for it.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 12:41 PM MDT
Excellent points!

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 12:31 PM MDT
I'm sorry, but Mr. Esslinger had all the time in the world to go through the Parks Advisory Board and other appropriate channels. Is this an idea he just came up with? Of course not- he has been against zoo fees since the start. He has had since the close of last summer to come forward with a proposal regarding zoo fees and to bring it through proper channels. Plain and simple, no matter what else you try to drag into this, this was abolute grandstanding.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 12:38 PM MDT
You are so full of yourself that you can't see the forest for the trees. Probably because of all the fencing in the park.

That fencing by the by was just approved two weeks ago. That's a big time difference from last last summer. Why don't you really listen to what people are saying instead of reading your own prejudices into everything this decent public servant tried to accomplish.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 12:41 PM MDT
He's against zoo fees?!

Better check your "facts." He voted for the implementation of the fees and the increase of them.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 04:53 PM MDT
Am wondering why the park director even bothered to have this fencing project approved by the city council? He never bothered to even mention to the "proper channels nor people" the last ugly fence he put up! You know the one the wonderful stockade fence that obstructs not only the view of the entire park but that of the water, oh and by the way the police department wasn't and isn't very impressed with it either as it obstructs their view of activity in the park they are charged with patroling.

But hey, all of you out there that are so knowledgeable about the history of this project, and are so concerned with proper procedure, will certainly overlook a minor safety flaw right?!

Wise up, we being taken down the yellow brick road and if you remeber OZ only exists in your mind. Or so the story goes.
Unless of course you happen to be the scarecrow in need of a brain?!!!!!


Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: admin on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 01:37 PM MDT
No grandstanding was involved here at all. True, there is a process however, the same could be said for obtaining bids or not waiving rules on certain ordinance change requests.

As we've heard in the past, time is sometimes of the essence when it comes to certain requests. Such was the case here with the Esslinger zoo fee request, given the date of when the zoo is opening.

I recall how Bryan Bain (before he was elected) and most of our current council members were completely in favor of the bids being waived on bathroom/concession area construction at the amphitheater, and one of the reasons touted for that move was timing.

Why is it that not following the process is perfectly acceptable to people in those cases, yet not when it is something Paul Esslinger wants?

So while people are busy complaining about Paul Esslinger and chastising him for not following the process, they need to speak out against other councilors to make sure that every process is adhered to and followed to the letter of the law.

- Cheryl Hentz

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 10:22 PM MDT
It doesn't matter if you petition the city for street repairs. They have had petitioned streets on the back burner for at least 5 years and longer. But they keep doing other streets that haven't been petitioned for and continue spending money on other projects that aren't necessary. They have it all backwards.

But Shirley Mattox asked the city manager last night about replacing some streets that had been pulled out of the plans with other streets and he gave some kind of story about no other streets had been engineered.

Hey City Manager Wollankg, how about some of those streets we've been asking for. It's about time. Maybe when you finally get aroud to doing them you people at city hall should make sure we don't have to pay the increased cost in construction. After all we were willing to pay it years ago and had the city done it's job properly then we would have our street done and at "then" prices, not today's or tomorrow's cost. Let's get with the program.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 08:41 AM MDT
Dear Mr. B:

I’m sorry if you think that being concerned about taxes and fees is negative. When I run for office, I tell voters that I will fight to keep taxes and fees as low as they can be, and I’ll continue to keep that promise.

You ask: “Don’t we have any better things to focus on than the zoo admission fees?” The City Council deals with several different topics at various times. I brought up the zoo admission fees at this time because of the waste of $57,000 for fencing for the elk exhibit. I don’t want people that come to the zoo to have to pay more money at the zoo than they have to. We aren’t going to get more people in the zoo because of an elk exhibit, or a bear exhibit (supposed to be coming next year.)

Another thing you need to take into consideration is that we will probably have to hire more park staff to take care of more exhibits. This means hiring someone and paying them a salary and benefits (probably around $60,000.) More exhibits also mean more food for the animals, more care for the animals, and more maintenance in the zoo (another $10,000 - $15,000 per year.) It’s not worth the costs.

You mentioned in your comments that you would like roads to be reconstructed; wouldn’t you rather have money going to roads than paying for more parks employees and the associated costs for exhibits?

You know, it’s funny, before the Council meeting on Tuesday; I received a call from someone that addressed the issues that you are talking about. In fact, he used the same words that you used. During my phone conversation with this person he said, “the terrace in front of my house continues to erode every year.” He also said “a truck comes down my street every year to fill in holes with black top.”

Could it be you Jim B that I spoke with?? I’m betting it wasn’t because the person that I talked to said that he really likes the things that I’m doing on the Council and that I should keep up the good work. This person never said anything about concerns of putting “negative spins” on things.

Mr. B: If it was you that I spoke with on the phone; the next time you call, please don’t sugar coat you comments. Please tell me ALL of you concerns, whether they be positive or negative. And please feel free to tell me the things that I’m doing well, AND the things that you feel that I’m doing wrong.

If it wasn’t you that I talked to on the phone, then my phone conversation, and the remarks that were posted on this site are just a very strange coincidence!

In any event, if you would like your road reconstructed, please take a petition around to your neighbors, or, give me a call and I’ll talk to the Public Works Dept. and I’ll see when your street is due to be done. If it’s not due to be done for a while, maybe your street can be bumped up a bit (if it is truly in terrible shape.)

Thanks for being involved with city politics, and thanks for voting for me!!


Paul Esslinger

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 09:00 AM MDT
Kids like bears.

I think a bear exhibit would bring more people to the park.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 11:02 AM MDT
The little zoo had bears years ago and they were eventually done away with. If we are now going to try being a real zoo and the zoological society and Tom Stephany really give a damn about the animals, then perhaps we need to get a zoological director who is better equipped to handle these types of things. Mr. Stephany is a parks director, not a zoo director or zoo expert. Maybe he needs to decide exactly what he wants to be when he grows up. In the meantime give the park back to the people and the birds. Ms. Hentz had a good idea that if we plan to keep expanding the zoo maybe it needs to be done elsewhere so the people can have the park back.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 02:36 PM MDT
The exihibits scheduled to be added are within the current fenced in area. WE ARE NOT LOSING ANY MORE PARK SPACE. That seems to be a fact everyone wants to avoid.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 03:02 PM MDT
Good, because I still think kids like bears.

Bears will be good.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 03:30 PM MDT
Great. So we will have bears and wolves in the park. All that's missing is Goldilocks. Perhaps our parks director would like to see about that missing link so we could have a real show down there. This park is no place for an expanding zoo.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 03:59 PM MDT
But Esslinger wanted a Bay Beach there - which would take up a whole lot more of the park than a few bears.

Don't blame the nice bears.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 04:19 PM MDT
He did not want a Bay Beach type park in Menominee Park. He was proposing it for SOMEWHERE in the city but he never suggested it for the park. But it sure sounds like Parks Director Stephany wants to copy at least parts of that idea, and he IS wanting to do it in Menominee. Wait and see if there's not a ferris wheel there in a year or two. But before saying Esslinger wanted an amusement park in the park please have your facts straight.

But you know what? Even if he had suggested Menominee Park for an amusement park, at least an amusement park is still a park and not a zoo.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 04:35 PM MDT
From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (

Main Entry: zoo
Pronunciation: 'zü
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural zoos
Etymology: short for zoological garden
1 a : ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN b : a collection of living animals usually for public display
2 : a place, situation, or group marked by crowding, confusion, or unrestrained behavior the convention was a zoo

Main Entry: zoological garden
Function: noun
: a garden or park where wild animals are kept for exhibition

So, a zoo is a PARK WITH ANIMALS (including bears - they are nice to look at)

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 06:07 PM MDT
Why would we want a "Bay Beach" in Oshkosh when you can drive to Green Bay? Isn't that the theory Paul used for not having a zoo. Why not drive to Green Bay. A little inconsistent wouldn't you say?

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 09:31 PM MDT

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 07:12 AM MDT
Esslinger has never said we shouldn't have a zoo. Secondly if we want to use your argument, I would ask why we need an amphitheater when we have the PAC in Appleton, the Weidner and the Resch Center in Green Bay and the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. It's called trying to keep money in your own backyard and at the same time bring in outside tourism dollars, a concept you seem to be struggling with. Face it, you're not an Esslinger fan but I think we can live with that.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:39 AM MDT
No, I am for having things in Oshkosh so I do not have to drive. I was just pointing out the inconsistantcies in Paul's argument.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:48 AM MDT
And I hope I have pointed out that there are no inconsistencies in Esslinger's positions. There never have been. Perhaps you are confusing the message his critics spread about him with the facts, which are available by accessing past minutes of council meetings where his votes on every issue are recorded.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 10:11 AM MDT
People, People, where has the discussion gone to look at each item and make a decision based on actually merit and the publics ability to pay. There was also not too very long ago a great outcry from the mass media and people supporting TABOR to look at those items that were a duplication of
"services" I believe this would qualify for both agruments. It's thoughtless spending in each community, rather than pooling of resources for regional benefit, that has TABOR looming large.

I never thought I would be saying this, but I now understand why TABOR is gaining steam, bad decisions, and worse governance of our dollars.

Stop acting like spoiled children who think we must have, so we can be like the next door neighbor.

Use your head, really start to think, then why not try to do something unique that separates us from everyother community in Wisconsin. The downtown thing has been overdone, and it offers nothing new for possible tourism. Same old idea same amenities in each downtown throughout Wisconsin.

Am I wrong????

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 03:28 PM MDT
Then why was additional fencing needed to the tune of $57,000?

And if what you say is accurate then it is even more cruel to the animals because they will have even less space.

Either way this is a bad idea.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:21 AM MDT
Cheryl, Paul, & Anonymous,

Interesting discussion with a lot of varying views. I don't feel like I was "beating upon him" at all. He is an elected official, and should be up for criticism just like the rest of our elected officials. Perhaps my post title was a little harsh, and for that I apologize. The guts of my post I believe are still very valid.

It is no coincidence Paul that the phone call you got on tuesday was so similar to the post because it was me who called. It is amazing how two people can walk away from a conversation with a completely different view of said conversation. I called you to express my concern about the zoo fees being a very small issue compared to street repair. I started the conversation off by telling you I voted for you. At no time did I say I thought you were doing a good job. I really did not say one way or the other my thoughts on your job! It was a pleasant conversation and you were open to listening to my point of view which I appreciate. You immediately ventured to guess that your proposal would be voted down and the zoological society was going to rip on you hard(which makes me wonder more why you bothered). You also explained your feelings on the increased costs that would be incurred by the exhibit expansion which you outlined in a previous post on this thread. Then you quickly changed the subject to the fact that only 22% of the people voted. Trying to stay on the subject I expressed my thoughts on needing to focus on bigger issues within the city. You then went into how the zoo was ruining the park, and how it used to be an open space that everyone could use, and you couldnt see throughout the whole park. At that point I mentioned that my family would use the park if the goose crap wasnt so bad. We discussed the need for street repairs and my specific concerns for my street.

After our conversation I learned a little more about this issue that you did not care to share. the fact that the zoo fingerprint has not changed due to all of this development within the zoo. The fact that you did not go through the proper channels to make this change. The fact that you were basing your decision on on a city report of 75 comment cards from zoo patrons. As much as I felt Ms. Strand's presentation was poor, she did point out some research that the zoo society has done which you did not take into consideration. And is it indeed true that you originally voted for the fee increase?

With this information in hand I wrote my post. I stand by my original comments of this is a non-issue. If we had 50,000 visitors to the zoo, should you base your decision to bring this issue back up on 75 comment cards?

Never did I sugar coat our conversation. To me it was neither negative or positive, simply a consituent voicing their opinion on a specific issue. I felt no need to go into other issues at the time. If you look at my history of posts, the negative spin is something I have mentioned and been concerned with for a long time.

This us vs. them attitude has got to stop in Oshkosh. It seems too many people have blind support for certain council members just because they are on the perceived same side. I am not going to give these people a name as many others feel necessary, but I support ideas and policies. Some only seem to support specific council members ideas. If it comes from the other "side" it can't possibly be good.

As far as petitioning the city for my street, I have attempted to contact the homeowners on my street. Unfortunately, my street is made up of about 50% homeowners, and 50% rental properties. The majority of homeowners were interested in petitioning the city. The rental owners I was actually able to get in contact wanted nothing to do with increasing their taxes with an additional bill to fix the street. Incidentally, I own two properties on my street. I would be paying double on my taxes to get my street fixed, which is something I am more than willing to do!

Jim B.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:49 AM MDT
For some reason you have to take a side in this city. If you try to make a point supporting Heidi Strand you are blasted by Cheryl and Paul and if you support Cheryl and Paul you receive the wrath of Strand and Company. Some of us are able to look at each issue and make our own judgement.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 09:04 AM MDT
A little info regarding Heidi Strand:

She is the owner of Blue Door Consulting, a P.R. and communications company, basically run out of her car trunk!

This misguided individual is also under contract with the Oshkosh School District to give guidance for communications with the district.

I'm outraged that my tax dollars are going to this person! She's giving advise on public relations for our school district??

Is this what you want our school kids taught about public relations Heidi? If you disagree with an elected official, go up and blast them into the next zip code, instead of going up and outlining your disagreement? Heidi is a disgrace to the school district, and she should be fired from her contract with the school district.

What other companies are being disgraced by Heidi Strand??

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 10:51 AM MDT
Excellent point about Heidi Strand and her antics. The other thing that you might want to consider when looking at her credibility is the various things she's done in just the last ten years. When you look at the different companies or organizations she's been with it seems she stays nowhere for very long. But you're right. She sure didn't display very good PR skills at the council meeting Tuesday night. Is that how she coducts herself with those she disagrees with? If so the school district should rethink using this woman for any more work. She is a disgrace to the district and obviously doesn't care about the taxpayers paying her salary. Cancel the contract.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 02:07 PM MDT
I hate to say it, because I know I'll get blasted for it, but Blue Door Consulting is a professionally run organization that has done some really helpful things for the school district. They have been organizing focus groups of volunteer citizens to help figure out what it is that people in the community would like to have more accessible from the district, be it calenders, lunch menus, class info etc. They have also been involved with redesigning the OASD web site to make it more user/student/parent/teacher friendly.

Whether she agrees with Mr. Esslinger or not should not call into question her abilities to complete the job as assigned (through a process of competitive bidding, I believe) by the school district. I think Heidi is doing a great job for the school district, and believe that her personal opinions and her expression thereof does not disqualify her from being the reciepient of a government contract. If anyone who ever voiced opposition to a governing body was retaliated against by having a government contract revoked, as many are suggesting, that would raise concern. That is Soviet style politics at their best.

She took some shots at Paul, I'll be the first to admit, but Paul has taken his shots at others over the years too. The suggestion that her disagreement with Mr. Esslinger shows disrespect for taxpayers is ludicris- she has every right to disagree with any city councilor she wants to. That doesn't show disrespect, it shows she is exercising her right to free speech. Maybe she brought some of this on herself, but I don't think it warrants advocating this frighteningly retaliatory political stance.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 02:17 PM MDT
It is one thing to disagree, quite another to launch personal attacks when pointing out your disagreements. She crossed the line. And no, it should not have anything to do with her contract with OASD.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 02:52 PM MDT
But on this site, there was a long discussion about letting citizens say whatever you want. Now she can't, unless she agrees with Paul.

What would the bears think?

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 03:01 PM MDT
You can disagree without making a personal attack.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:53 PM MDT
I agree that she crossed the line. The reason it is relative to her work witht he school district is the manner in which she presented herself. She is a PR person and displayed a complete lack of class and professionalism. Both of which are representative of someone who works in PR.

P.S. There are no bears here to render an opinion, so your question about what they might think is a moot point.

Has Esslinger lost it?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 10:45 AM MDT
I don't think it was only Paul and Cheryl talking about Heidi Strand so why are you singling them out? Please get real.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

ACLU Seeks Health Insurance and Family Leave for Lesbian and Gay Wisconsin State Employees

Contributed by: Kay Springstroh
April 20, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today against the state of Wisconsin on behalf of six lesbian employees and their partners seeking domestic partner health insurance and family leave protections.

"I worked as many hours and just as hard as my straight colleagues and coworkers. I shouldn't be denied the ability to provide my family with health insurance solely because my partner of 29 years is another woman," said Virginia Wolf, a minister and retired English professor at the University of Wisconsin -- Stout.

Married employees of the state of Wisconsin are permitted to include their spouses and children on the state insurance plan. The lawsuit filed today charges that it violates the state constitution's equal protection guarantees to block lesbian and gay employees, who are barred from marrying in the state, from access to the same coverage for their families.

"This is a matter of basic fairness - of whether gay and lesbian employees should be compensated less than straight employees for doing the same work," said Larry Dupuis of the ACLU of Wisconsin, who noted that along with actual salary, health insurance is an important portion of how employees are compensated.

Diane Schermann, who works for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, is a plaintiff in the case with her partner, Michelle Collins. Because they can't afford an individual health insurance policy for Collins, she doesn't have a regular physician, exacerbating health problems she suffers from a back injury.

"Instead of seeing one primary care doctor, Michelle has to rely on a patchwork of free clinic visits, worker's compensation coverage, and emergency care visits. It's difficult to watch my partner live with physical pain, and it makes it more difficult to know that the only thing preventing me from covering her is the fact that we're lesbians," said Schermann.

The lawsuit also seeks equal access to family leave protections provided by the state. Eloise McPike works for the Department of Corrections at a jail in Milwaukee. When her partner of 20 years, Janice Barnett, was severely injured in an out-of-state car accident several years ago, McPike wasn't allowed to leave to be with her as any other state employee would have been able to do. Instead, she had to submit a formal vacation request and then wait and worry for five days, hundreds of miles away, for it to be approved before she could be by Barnett's side. Though Social Security covered some of Barnett's medical care, the couple now has to spend $260 per month on private insurance and prescription drugs because Barnett's injuries only allow her to work part time and she doesn't qualify for insurance.

Jody Helgeland, a research specialist at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison, and Jessie Tanner celebrated their 10th anniversary in December. The couple can't afford private insurance for Tanner, who suffers from severe asthma and allergies. Her medications, which total over $600 per month, would only cost $75 per month if she were covered under the state health plan. Once, Tanner had an asthma attack so acute that Helgeland had to take her to an urgent care facility that charged $105 per visit. At these prices, the couple can't afford to return for follow-up visits or buy Tanner's medications every month.

Today's lawsuit comes as governments, universities, companies and other employers increasingly extend benefits to employees' domestic partners. The University of Wisconsin is now the only Big Ten university that does not offer domestic partner benefits.

"Lesbian and gay Wisconsin state employees have been struggling for well over a decade to obtain fairness in health insurance benefits," said Christopher Ott, Executive Director of Action Wisconsin, the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. "After years of our community running into bureaucratic and legislative roadblocks, these couples are hoping that the courts will put an end to needless financial and medical struggles for them and other state employees. This lawsuit is about the real harms caused to real families by unequal treatment."

The couples are represented by John Knight and Rose Saxe of the ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, Larry Dupuis of the ACLU of Wisconsin, and cooperating attorneys Linda Roberson and Christopher Krimmer of the Madison law firm Balisle & Roberson.

Biographical information for all of the couples, as well as the complaint filed today, is available at The case is Helgeland v. Department of Employee Trust Funds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

County board sends wrong message about fees

Contributed by: admin
Last night the Winnebago County Board voted 20-14 not to impose fees on soccer organizations for the use of and reserving of fields at the county park. This vote was disappointing.

While none of us likes fees, they are, unfortunately a way of life inthese tough economic times. I certainly believe that many of these things should be included in the taxes we pay, but I also understand that many things that only a select group participte in, may have to be subsidized - at least in part - by fees. Even the school district is charging extra for participation in athletic and musical programs, etc. which are above and beyond the regular classroom activities.

I appreciated the efforts of some county board supervisors who tried to accomplish the implementation of fees but at a lesser amount. Unfortunately that effort went no where.

In the end the proposed ordinance failed and there will be - at least for now - no soccer fees imposed. This sends the wrong message and a precedent has now been set. What about the boater who comes before the county board and says "You know what, I belong to the Otter Street Fishing Club and we have helped pay for or build and maintain 'x, y and z' and I don't feel it is fair to charge our members for launching their boats at either city or county boat landings." How does the county justify fees for some special activities and not others? This was not a smart decision and needs to be reconsidered, perhaps with a lesser amount of money being sought - something that is more palatable to all. But there needs to be some fee imposed, in my opinion.

Cheryl Hentz

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County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: jef on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 08:46 AM MDT
The key difference between the boat launch fees and the soccer fees were who was paying.

For boat launch, EVERY user paid the fee.

For soccer fees, they were ONLY going to charge the organized clubs. Other users were able to use the facilities free of charge.

Taking your Otter Street fishing metaphor, truly illistrating how the soccer fees were set up - the county would ONLY charge the Otter Streeters and let all others at the boat launch go free.

The main reason to shoot down this fee was that it was not a fair fee. It only charged the soccer clubs - the same people that have put tens of thousands of dollars into the park already.

Any other user would be able to use the park facilities and the equipment provided BY THE SOCCER CLUBS free of charge.

It was unfair and deserved to be shot down.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 11:45 AM MDT
Hall, you really are a moron!

The reason a fee should be charged for organized clubs is because they want to reserve the field for specific dates; most other people will not use the soccer fields. If you want the privilege of being able to reserve the field, you should pay for it! Why should the majority of the taxpayers who will never use the fields have to pay for a minority of people using the fields, and then the minority has the right to reserve the fields for their use? Doesn't sound quite fair.

If you want to use a pavilion in the City of Oshkosh, you need to pay for it, see the correlation? Probably not!

Cheryl, your Otter Street Fishing Club scenario was quite correct. These folks have paid thousands for boat launch repairs, and still have to pay for boat launch fees. I would be surprised, nor would I blame them if they came forward and asked to get rid of the boat launch fees.

It was depressing to see the majority of the County Board (led by "tax and spend Harris") cave into this group!

I guarantee come budget time, these same Board members will come to the taxpayers for more money for the Parks Dept. because they are short money, and the majority will have to pay for the minority to "play."

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 12:45 PM MDT
You're absolutely correct! As a taxpayer, I don't want to have to pay thousands of dollars for some people to be able to kick a ball around. If that's what they want to do, let them pay for it!

And this City Council better get it's act together and charge the $1 fee for maintenance at the amphitheatre. I didn't want that stupid thing to begin with, and I don't want to have to pay to keep the thing running! Maybe that stupid Jeff Hall can pay to keep it running, seeing as he doesn't agree that the people using the venue should be charged.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 01:49 PM MDT
How dare you call someone a name! Clean up your act and try to at least be polite in your criticism. At least people are communicating so that your can vent your spleen. It's responses like this that give this website and other blogging opportunities the bad rap that they continue to receive.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 02:39 PM MDT

I appreciate your comments, however, the key difference as I see it is the soccer teams/leagues are reserving the fields and therefore making it impossible for other people to use them Therefore, a fee is completely appropriate and should not be complained about. It is no different than if I want to reserve a shelter in one of our parks for a family reunion, wedding reception, etc. I have to pay to do so, even though I can go in and use the park itself for free.

Cheryl Hentz

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: jef on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 03:05 PM MDT
There is a slight difference, one that has not been talked about.

In the soccer clubs' agreements with the park, they always need to leave fields available for the public, even though the public will be using the equipment that the soccer clubs put on the fields.

Other than soccer Saturday, they cannot use all the fields.

However, with shelters, they can all be used up.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 03:19 PM MDT
I did not know that. I doubt if anyone else did either.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 04:21 PM MDT
Where can one find this agreement, Mr. Hall? Better yet, can you post the verbiage right here for all of us to see, exactly as it is printed in their contract? It is interesting that no one - not the media, nor *censored*y board supervisors have discussed this to my knowledge. I haven't even heard any of the soccer people discuss it. Why not?

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: jef on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 04:39 PM MDT
It was discussed at the meeting last night - in fact, several members of youth soccer spoke to this fact during their statements.

It is part of the DNR agreement on the land.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 08:33 PM MDT
I have a suggestion or maybe even a challenge, could those of you who use this board be constructive in your comments. There is no need to call Mr. Harris a "tax and spender". Could you please just keep your comments pertinent to the topic at hand without degrading supervisors or council members. Cheryl does a fine job in speaking her mind without degrading others. I suggest you try it. Your points will be better taken without all the negativity.

Thank you.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 09:19 PM MDT
Thank you for the nice compliment. I appreciate it.

Cheryl Hentz

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 07:18 AM MDT
We all should be concerned about a government that cannot live within its means and then, continues to raise our taxes above the rate of increases in personal incomes and then, charge us users fees on facilities we own......Fees are not the answer, we need new representation and elected officials.......A direct result of a bunch of appointees......

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 01:37 PM MDT
Appointee's? Isn't the majority of the board elected, as well as the County Executive?

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: admin on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 01:38 PM MDT
I agree that perhaps we need new representation and new elected officials. However when you look at the last two elections - both this past November and just earlier this month - the people who actually went to the polls and voted put the same people and some others like them back in office. We need to encourage the masses who are frustrated and fed up to get to take their grievances to the polls where they can truly make a difference. That is the only way things are going to change.

Cheryl Hentz

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: jef on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 01:44 PM MDT
I would argue that if they are not mad enough to vote, they really aren't all that upset with the situation.

The person makes a good point as relates to the county board - many were appointed and have since not had competition.

Hopefully we will see the same sort of electoral and candidate participation we saw this spring for the city next spring for the county.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 03:39 PM MDT
I think Jef is right- if you aren't mad enough to do something as easy as vote (5 minutes between 8AM and 8PM is not that much to ask a few times a year) you aren't allowed to get mad. Sorry, but them's the breaks.

That being said, we need to take a realistic look at this last election- if you look at the vote totals compared to the last 6 years or so, we actually had a pretty good turnout for a spring election. The only reason the percentage was any lower than in recent years has more to do with outside forces, such as one-time registrations for November's presidetial election (which happened in '01 too). Also, after the throngs that crawled out of the woodwork to vote for/against the smoking ban last year, I am hard pressed to compare this year's election to one that brought so many to the polls for a single issue.

Is that to say that it isn't embarrasing for a domeocracy to have any less than a 100% voter turnout? Absolutely not, but we need to look at it from a realisitc point of view instead of blaming all of our ills on "low voter turnout". And realistically, voter turnout wasn't that bad.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 03:58 PM MDT
I could be wrong, but I think the point Cheryl was making is that if people are so upset they need to go to the polls and vote. It seems you're trying to argue with her by making the same basic point she already made.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 08:21 PM MDT
Is it possible that not as many people are unhappy as you think?

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: admin on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 08:45 PM MDT
No. There are plenty of people unhappy and since the election I have talked to several who have told me so, but also said they didn't go vote. I have explained to them why they should have but there is only so much one can do about voter (or non-voter) apathy. And it's not just a local problem. Nor is it fair to those of us who do go out and vote. People shouldn't complain like they do if they don't want to vote to try solving the problem. They must learn to help themselves a little bit.

But if people think they're unhappy now, wait until property assessments come out in another couple of months and they see what their property is assessed at. Paying the taxes on increased assessed values, on top of the increased taxes for things like the amphitheater, will be quite the struggle for many. It will undoubtedly be an interesting thing to watch.

Cheryl Hentz

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 06:14 AM MDT
I agree there are many people unhappy with the situation in this city. But you need more than 1/2 the city, and that is alot of people. I truly believe more than 1/2 of this city wants to move forward with the downtown.

County board sends wrong message about fees
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 08:07 AM MDT
I think that is a little bit too reductionist a statement to make, but in essence, that is what we saw. Simply because one group or another screams louder doesn't translate into votes. I also believe that Ms. Hentz has a good point- if people are dissatisfied after their assessments come out, they ought to get mad and get to the polls. I'm ashamed to live in the same city with them if they don't.

However, spending issues were the main topic that decided this election, and I think we saw that, lo and behold, the majority of this community (at least those who vote) are willing to "suck it up" to some extent and take a short term property tax hit in order to support their view of the city's future. And this isn't just the Chamber people and the busines community, because there simply aren't enough of them to carry an election in this city. Average, everyday citizens saw certain candidates as better in line with their personal view of the city's future, and they voted that way.

Cheryl has a good point, however, in saying that maybe once they see their tax bills they will change their minds. If they do, I hope they go to the polls and excercise their right to vote their conscience. But for now, this is our city's democratically elected government and they represent the will of the people who chose to get involved with the things that effect their daily lives.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley

It was interesting to watch the Reorganizational Meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council earlier today. As most of you know I have no problem being critical of elected officials' decisions if I think they're wrong. But I also make it a practice to give someone praise when I think they're doing it right.

That being said, I must give a high-five to Meredith Scheuerman and Shirley Brabender-Mattox. They were just sworn in today and actually seemed to believe, and practice, the issues they campaigned on.

When it came time to discuss rules, in particular with respect to Citizen Statements, they were each in favor of allowing people to continue speaking their minds. New council member Bryan Bain and newly-sworn in mayor Bill Castle, on the other hand - while they campaigned on having a more open, user-friendly government; greater accessibility; and getting more people involved - expressed a desire to want to have citizen comments restricted in nature and scope. This was disappointing, to say the least, and is not a good way to show the people you are interested in hearing what they have to say. Let's hope this was just opening moment jitters and not a sign of what we can expect during their next two years of council service.

We also need to remember when it comes election time next year, that Paul Esslinger was not in favor of restricting what people say. After all, it is OUR government and Paul has always believed people should have the right to say what's on their mind at council meetings.

Conversely, it should be filed away in your memory bank for future reference that Deputy Mayor Frank Tower wanted to do away with Citizen Statements altogether and Burk Tower wanted to make them a little more restrictive. That's right, the Twin Towers apparently want to keep chipping away at the people's voice, one small vote at a time.

Keep your eyes on these council members, folks, because the rules could be changed at any time, and this is one issue that could very well rear its ugly head again.

- Cheryl Hentz

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 08:24 AM MDT
I would hope the new Mayor would keep the gavil in hand when citizens become abusive and or obnoxious. Something needs to be done with the handful of citizens who get out of line.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Bill Hentz on Thursday, April 21 2005 @ 09:12 AM MDT
It would appear to some people that our newly elected mayor is already talking from both sides of his mouth. In a article in the Northwestern he made the follow statements. "Residents are aparently, taking advantage of their elected mayor's standing and ear. I'm responding to them, they're asking, how can we get our street repaired? Or how can we get the police to enforce the noise ordinances.... They know they can call me know, and I'm responding." Is his "responding" by now wanting to take some of their voice away at council meetings? I certainly hope that the council does not eliminate citizen statements altogether. I fully agree that there is a group of individuals that repeatably bash council members, use obnoxious and vulgar language. However don't punish them majority of those citizens that abide by the rules and are very civilized. It sort of reminds you of the bad apple in the barrel line about not throwing out the whole barrel. Hopefully, if the council looks at this situation further they will come up with some type of restrictions, such as turning off the microphone on an individual using profanity, rather than turning off the microphone on the entire rest of the city.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 05:11 PM MDT
What's wrong with requiring citizen statements at a city council meeting be on a topic that the city council can do something about? Isn't that already the rule? It's not an open mic night to talk about anything under the sun!

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: admin on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 08:35 PM MDT
I guess I don't understand what your point is.

- Cheryl Hentz

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: admin on Saturday, April 23 2005 @ 10:13 AM MDT
I guess I still don't understand what your point is, but I never said a citizen's statement should not be on point. But the fact is, some of our councilors wanted to remove statements altogether, while others wanted to limit them to quarterly "appearances," etc.

This is the wrong attitude to send to people who are technically your employers, especially when some of these same people have just said during their political campaigns that they wanted a more open government and greater citizen participation.

- Cheryl Hentz

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 08:34 AM MDT
I hate to say it, because frankly I think the guy doesn't have a clue 99% of the time, but Stew Reickman's idea of simply not televising the public statement portion isn't a bad one. While the right to address a governing body directly is a little murky in terms of being a God-given American right, there is certainly no right to have your statments (nonsensical rantings, in some cases) televised. This would cut down on the grandstanding and time wasting, as well as keep a very citizen friendly feature of our city government in place.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 12:39 PM MDT
Oh for God sake, get over it all ready, the City Council members like Castle, Bain and the 2 Towers have never been interested in hearing from you people. They already know whats good for you and this city, and have never once pretended to give a damn what you say. You got the kind of government you voted for!!

I find it laughable that there are folks on this blog, that feel that the citizens comments shouldn't be televised due to grandstanding and profanity? Please have you watch main stream T.V lately?

If the people that are elected don't have the time nor the interest to hear (relavent or not) what the citizens have to say about our community (good bad or whatever) then why run? Why because as I have always maintaned it really is about power, who has it, who keeps it and how it can be used for professional benefits to those individuals.

The newspaper in this city is a royal joke, they speak in one breathe that citizens are entitled to full disclosure in written annoucments, yet Stew Rieckman congratulates the jerks on the council for making the move to shut down citizens statements.

This guy has been in the rabbitt hole too long himself. Stew you've once again shown us that you are nothing but a true coporate whore, and freedoms only apply if you decide to justify!

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 10:55 AM MDT
What on earth was all that about? No one said anything about eliminating citizen statements in the post you are responding to, simply taking them off television. Last time I checked, the right to have obnoxious statements televised was not part of the first amendment.

I support citizen statements, but only when they are constructive and are in the best interest of the city. I agree that taking citizen statements off of televsion would cut down on those who feel they have to perform for an audience, rather than those who sincerely wish to have their voice heard directly by the council on a particular issue. This wouldn't stop anyone from directly addressing a governing body, it would simply get rid of those who are there for the wrong reasons.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 12:43 PM MDT
These people are not there to get their comments heard on television. Some have done the same thing at meetings even whent hey are not televised. People who agree with Stew "Reich"man simply are missing the boat, as "Reich"man usually does.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 04:12 PM MDT
I think your emphasis of the phrase "reich" is in absolute poor taste. You and Mr. Esslinger (for bringing it up on the Eye on Oshkosh television program) should all be ashamed. I find no humor in Nazi references! NONE!! Ms. Hentz and Mr. Palmeri should also be ashamed for not confronting Mr. Esslinger on TV.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 04:28 PM MDT
Funny how no one rushed to Mr. Esslinger's defense when Jef Hall and the newspaper were trying to make him out to be a racist and sexist. Nor was anyone concerned about a story about Mr. Esslinger in which many statements fabricated and unsubtantiated. Yet here you are condemning him. Doesn't that just beat all. Besides, it's just good natured humor and there is nothing deeper to be taken from it. Please lighten up. If Mr. Riechman is going to dish it out he will have to be able to take it.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 07:56 AM MDT
To be honest, I don't know who the guy was last night who even made the statement at the council meeting, but his quote (which I may butcher) encapsulates this perfectly:

"Great men discuss ideas, average men discuss events and lesser men discuss people."

I hate to say it, but for all the potential in this website for us to be great men (and women) who discuss ideas, I hear nothing but attacking the person behind the idea. Hentz's attacks on Castle, The Towers and Bain, this previous poster's attacks on Reickman and even previous to that out of nowhere an attack on Esslinger. Not their ideas, mind you, but the people behind them. Needless to say, for anyone looking to actually engage in a healthy discussion of ideas, to have it continuously degenerate into personal attacks is quite disheartening.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:25 PM MDT
They are not attacks on these officials' characters. They are criticisms of their job performance. Big difference.

While we're on the subject of people being critical and attacking in nature, what was the deal with Heidi Strand at last night's council meeting? She made assassinating remarks about Paul Esslinger, yet didn't have her own facts straight in some cases. Good thing Esslinger took her down a few pegs. She was also complaining about things being a waste of her tax dollars but yet Esslinger was actually trying to do something to save some of the taxpayers some money and she had a problem with it. These so-called progressive liberals are unbelievable. They'll say anything to deflect the real issues.

The real probem isn't even that she disagreed with Esslinger. It's how she did it. The snotty tone in her voice and the snugness on her face were disgusting. Maybe some citizens should tell the school board the district is wasting our money hiring her to do work for them. But until such time let's hope she is more successful in her venture with the school district than she was in other things she has tried over the years. On the other side of the coin it's easy to be successful when you suck up to the right people and kiss the right butts. Trouble is there's so many to kiss and not enough hours in the day.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:41 PM MDT
Great. More personal criticism. Just what we all need.

"These so-called progressive liberals are unbelievable."

"The snotty tone in her voice and the snugness on her face were disgusting."

"...let's hope she is more successful in her venture with the school district than she was in other things she has tried over the years."

"It's easy to be successful when you suck up to the right people and kiss the right butts."

Come on.

The discussion here should be on the issues: What was Esslinger's proposal? What are the short and long term benefits/consequences of acting/not acting on Mr. Esslinger's idea? What is the empirical evidence to back up each of these positions? I guess though, if you would prefer to just say snide things about someone its alot asier than getting into any of those "fact" type things, huh?

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:47 PM MDT
Mr. Esslinger presented the city's own research to support his request. As for Ms. Strand's look or tone, they speak for themselves.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 02:01 PM MDT
While I do not agree with Mr. Esslinger's idea, I thought the attitude and tone of Ms Strands remarks were uncalled for and very unprofessional. I wonder what she would think if someone would single out one of her friends on the council and launch a personal attack against them?

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 02:02 PM MDT
If her tone and look "speak for themselves", then there is no legitimate reason for us to be discussing them.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 04:54 AM MDT
I do not believe this idea was Mr. Rickman's. The suggestion was in the material that a person gave to the council several weeks ago. I do not remember her name, but was the one that spoke to the issue of the citizens statements and had suggestions on how they could be handled. If you read the article in the paper I think you will see this.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 02:07 PM MDT
The woman at the council meeting a month or so ago had dufferent suggestions on what could be done. Rieckman keyed in on that particular one. But no matter where the idea came from the end result is that Rieckman put forth the one main idea. If he truly wants to be fair and unbiased as he always claims his paper is then he should have talked about the pros and cons of each idea.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 02:30 PM MDT
Who on earth cares where the idea came from and why are people still talking about the source? What a collossal waste of time this is to continuously discuss the person behind the idea as opposed to the idea! Anyone have any constructive suggestions to add to the dicsussion of this issue?

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2005 @ 03:33 PM MDT
Here's a thought on the idea. It stinks. If people really think that turning off the cameras for citizen statements is going to stop some of the comments the councilors are hearing they are as wrong as they can.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 04:43 AM MDT
Well well,l I didn't see any ideas in what you just posted! Don't go after us about it doesn't matter this or that......."what a waste of time" ... does anyone have a suggestions etc .... and then say nothing "constructive" yourself!

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 07:38 AM MDT
I hate to say this, and the anonymity makes it a bit tougher, but my original post was the thought that perhaps this would be a decent comprimise. By turning off the cameras during citizen statements, we succeed in keeping the voice of our citizens to directly address the council but weed out anyone who is there for the wrong reasons. While this might not discourage any of the true hard core, I think it is a step in the right direction that makes sense for the time being. I would hate to see them eliminated, but really, what good does it do for the city to listen to some of the nonsense that gets thrown out during public statements? There are two very reasonable sides to this issue, I just felt like that was a good comprimise.

Discussing the merits of this idea is constructive- discussing the people involved is not.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 06:18 PM MDT
For the record: Marsha Rossiter presented the common council with documents on conflict resolution and a guide to civil discussion of public issues. Copies are available at the city clerk's office for anyone interested in checking as opposed to speculating.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2005 @ 08:55 PM MDT
It really does not matter who presented the comments. What is really being discussed and debated here is whether citizen statements should be done away with; whether cameras should be turned off for citizen statements; or if something else should be done to stop Gordon Douleys and peole like him from being rude and disrespectful to the council members.

Kudos to Meredith and Shirley
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2005 @ 03:19 PM MDT
Amen to that!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thank you Jane and Brian

by Tony Palmeri

Two local incumbents lost their seats last Tuesday. Winnebago County Executive Jane Van De Hey was defeated in her bid for a third term. Oshkosh Common Councilor Brian Poeschl was defeated in his bid for a second. I will miss them both.

Jane might find it odd that I will miss her in office, since I have been openly critical of her performance on many occasions, often confronted her with aggressive questioning on the "Commentary" and "Eye on Oshkosh" television shows, and I even voted for John Daggett in this year's primary.

My problem with Jane had nothing to do with the red herrings raised against her by new County Exec Mark Harris and the Oshkosh Northwestern's hatchet thug Stew Rieckman. Those criticisms are by now familiar to most people reading this and so I won't bore (or dignify) via repetition.

My problem with Jane has always been that I've never perceived her to have the courage of her convictions. Talking to her one-on-one on many occasions, I always sensed in her a person with a deep sense of fairness, a real compassion for the less fortunate, and a genuine belief that government could make a positive difference in peoples' lives. And yet when she governed I rarely saw those convictions in action; perhaps she knew that the power of Realtors, the corporate press, and other special interests would ultimately conspire to defeat a reform agenda at the county level as they have been doing in the city of Oshkosh since 1956. Or maybe her "kitchen cabinet" of county stalwarts like former Register of Deeds Marge Dahms and her support from developers like Ben Ganther made a real reform agenda impossible. Who knows.

My disappointments aside, I predict history will be good to Jane Van De Hey. Long after her corporate media critics are forgotten (those who enable powerful special interests are rarely remembered beyond the time in which they live; we remember those who had the courage to speak truth to power), Jane will be remembered as someone who at least tried to crack the old boys' network that has ruled northeast Wisconsin for many decades. She is not a Jesse Jack Hooper, though her service honors the hopes of that late, great suffragette.

Future generations can draw some inspiration from the example of a woman who went from being a nurse to the county executive's office and did it via sheer hard work. She'll be remembered for being elected to a second term even though by the end of her first term she was subject to some of the most vicious and vindictive corporate media abuse ever leveled at a public official.

Had the Oshkosh Northwestern monitored former corrupt district attorney Joseph Paulus with even half of the verve with which they went after Van De Hey on literally every issue facing the county, many lives could have been saved from ruin.

Brian Poeschl is quite simply one of the kindest, most sincere, and honest human beings I have ever met. Carrying the wisdom of the south side working class, Poeschl in his brief time on the council refused to be bamboozled and bullied by the blinding lie of "progress" that according to the Oshkosh establishment is defined as that which benefits big developers first. Poeschl understood that progressivism in an American municipal context requires that government demand the wisest and most responsible use of public resources. I think after sitting on the council for a few months Brian became shocked and appalled at the special interest control of city hall, and like a true progressive he set out to learn as much as he could about how the system really works to benefit the few at the expense of the many. Reminds me of what writer Edward Doan said about the great progressive Robert LaFollette's early years in the House of Representatives.

LaFollette's service there "gave him a realization of the interconnection between political and economic domination and how the one was used to secure the other for the benefit of a few."

But alas, Robert LaFollette was a fierce campaigner who realized the only way to secure a progressive program in government was to outmaneuver the false progressives at every turn.

Brian Poeschl unfortunately did not campaign at that level (nor did any of the other "cobblestoner" candidates for that matter).

Thank you Jane and Brian for, in your own unique ways, trying to make ours a better community. I never agreed with you on all or maybe even most issues, but I never doubted your sincerity or your belief that you were doing the right thing for your constituents. Thank you for sticking to your guns even while being attacked in ways that were often as unfair as they were petty. You may have lost one election, but you've won the respect and admiration of people who understand that politics is a contact sport that requires taking some hits. At your best, you took the hits with courage and class. I thank you for that.

Monday, April 11, 2005

This Past Election

Contributed by: Anonymous
Cheryl, I just want you to know that I am one of the small percentage of people in Oshkosh who actually went to the polls and voted on April 5. And you were one of my first choices for the Oshkosh Common Council.
It is apalling that we had such a small voter turn -out this voting season.
Since January I had tried to make my co-workers aware that there was a spring election coming up and that they should research what is at stake and get out and voice their opinion by casting their vote. None of them seem to even be aware of the issues that face this city's near future. Most have never heard of Five Rivers or the river front proposal. They don't even know where the new Amphatheater is located! Can you believe it? That fightens me!
When I mentioned the upcoming election to one of my co-workers, she asked who was up for election. When I showed her the sample ballot she said "well, none of the names sound musical to me, so I wouldn't know which ones to vote for (I'm actually GLAD she did not vote!).
I sincerely hope that you will continue to be in the public eye, voicing your opinion because you really do represent those of us in this city who are actually paying attention to what is happening in our city's government and surrounding issues.
I would love to see your name on the next ballot and will work harder to educate those people around me so that they too will be motivated to take a stronger interest in their community show up at the polls.

Brenda Brooks-Kuhr

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 02:17 PM MDT
Very well said; I couldn't agree more!

This Past Election
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 01:05 PM MDT
Many thanks to both of you and to all those 3,801 people who voted for me. While your support and belief in what I stand for are appreciated and encouraging, it is frustrating that so many people do not take the time to go vote. They will complain as loud or even louder than many others, but they won't exercise their privilege and right to vote on election day.

Meanwhile, I want to say to Stew Rieckman over at the Oshkosh Northwestern, that you cannot intimidate or embarrass me by mentioning my coming in last place in the April 5 election. At least I had the courage of my convictions and stood up for what I believed in. I put my name on a ballot and tried to make a difference in the political process.

And while I may have come in last place, I have never served in elected office and been such a disappointment to the electorate that they voted me OUT of office - such as what happened to both Larry Spanbauer and Jon Dell 'Antonia - who, by the way, also came in last place when he ran for relection two years ago.

So Stew, while you're busy taking pot shots at those of us who lost, if you think you can do it better, why not put your name on a ballot? Let's see how well you do at the polls. Hopefully your numbers would be better than the Northwestern's circulation numbers. The figures I was recently told about show quite a drop in the last year or so. Perhaps if people were not so put off by what they read, those numbers would come back up.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 05:39 PM MDT
Spoken like a true loser.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 22 2005 @ 07:07 PM MDT
More accurately, it was spoken like the honest and "to-the-point" person she has shown herself to be. Too bad you are such an asshole that you have to continue showing your disdain.

This Past Election
Authored by: admin on Saturday, April 23 2005 @ 06:41 PM MDT
It is a shame you seem to think my words portray me as having spoken like a loser. Perhaps you should try putting your name on a ballot so people can take potshots at you, too. In the meantime, I said nothing unfactual and I also pointed out the various types of hypocrisy and bias so often displayed by our local "paper," especially at election time. Have a pleasant evening.

Cheryl Hentz

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 08:05 AM MDT
I find it suprising that Ms. Hentz has again shown her bizarre sense of "fairness" in allowing several questionable posts (containing either specific foul language or thinly veiled references such as "P.O.S." directed at a named individual) to remain for several days on her website. We all saw during the election that should any of these types of insults be directed toward say, Mr. Esslinger or Ms. Bloechel they would have been removed immediately. I cannot begin to understand her reasoning for allowing things like this to go on, all the while removing posts far less inflamatory simply because she didn't like the arguements being made.

Obviously, the blame cannot be placed soley on Ms. Hentz- she had hoped the citizens of Oshkosh could behave like adults and interact productively while engaging in the rational exchange of ideas. We (all of us, to some extent) have failed her in that hope and should really be somewhat embarrassed. However, as the owner and editor of this site who has professed to believe in "fair play" for all, leaving these aforementioned inflammatory and vulgar remaks up certainly do not accomplish this goal.

This Past Election
Authored by: admin on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 09:16 AM MDT
Excuse me, but if you look at the site you will find that those comments you referenced have indeed been removed. They were placed by someone over the weekend and, unlike some people who seem to monitor web sites and play on the Internet all day long, I do not. I check it periodically, but I have a full life besides this site. If that amounts to bizarre behavior in your book, so be it - I plead guilty as charged.

In any event, as soon as I saw the comments, and one from another person asking that the offensive ones be removed (a prompt which I did not need but appreciated their thoughtfulness anyway), they were deleted. My sense of fairness is the same now as it has always been. People are treated with respect and fairness until they prove they are undeserving of it.

- Cheryl Hentz

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 11:32 AM MDT
I certainly understand your current attitude about the Northwestern. But was there ever a time when you considered working for them? I understand they have a revolving door there (I heard the editor is a petty tyrant along with other shortcomings) and certainly a journalist with your credentials would be a welcome addition to the staff, especially with your ties to the community. How about it? Did you ever consider joining the staff or applying? Did they ever try to recruit you?

This Past Election
Authored by: admin on Monday, April 25 2005 @ 12:59 PM MDT
Thanks for the nice words, but I have my hands full right now with everything else I do. Working fulltime for them - or anyone else for that matter - would likely require my having to give up certain other things. And frankly, those are non-negotiable issues for me. Plus, I am very happy doing what I am doing and having a certain amount of freedom in choosing what projects I take on. So at least for now, the status quo works well.

- Cheryl Hentz

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 04:39 PM MDT
Dear Cheryl,
I watched your show on Monday and I thought it was very
inappropriate to be talking about anyone who is not there to
defend themselves. My grandpa or as you know Larry
Spanbauer was not thrown off the council, he just
got beat. He served our city for 6 long years, and stayed on the
council because people voted for him which means he is liked.
And to this very day he is still liked, maybe not by you but by
alot of other people. I truly think if YOU have nothing nice to
say, DO NOT say anything AT ALL. It is very rude and mean.
I'm sure you would rather be a positive person then a negative
person. Thank you for letting me express my opinion.

Kaitlyn Spanbauer

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 10:10 AM MDT
If my math is correct, Spanbauer's 6 years on the board is 3 more elections than both the hosts (Cheryl & Tony) put together.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:13 PM MDT
Your point being what? Ms. Hentz's point seemed to be that people were fed up with Spanbauer and his arrogant attitude. He was given what he asked for which was to be voted off the council if people no longer believed he was doing a good job. The people told him good-bye. That would be more embarassing than not being elected at all.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:31 PM MDT
To use your own phrase, your point being what? People voted. Some people got elected, some didn't. Get on with it. No matter what your politics, running a campaign the way you believe it should be run and participating in representative democracy, win or lose, should not embarrass anyone. A bunch of geeks at computers who dont even have the guts to give themselves screen names (myself included, folks) have no right to say that a particular candidate should be embarrassed for such an honorable pursuit. My hats off to all- be your name Hentz, Spanbauer, Castle, Esslinger or Poeschel. We can disagree with these folks if we want, but NOTHING about their run for office should ever be considered embarrassing. It is an outlook like that one that prevents people from getting into local politics.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 12:54 PM MDT
Hey people did get on with it. It was you or some other anonymous person with your opinion who brought it up again. Nothing was said about anyone's political campaign. The comment was only made that said the people spoke and gave Spanbauer what he asked for. It's pretty simple when you think about it. What's not quite so simple is trying to figure out your assumption that I am either Hentz, Esslinger, Poeschl, etc. These people have a lot more suport in this community than just themselves or those who voted. So stop the silly assumptions that you know who I am. But if we use your logic then we know your identity too because you have misspelled Brian Poeschl's name just like another frequent visitor to this site. Would that be fair.

This Past Election
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 02:00 PM MDT
How on earth did you read something into that post that needed such a defensive response?

My post was not making a judgement on ANYONE involved in city politics, rather stating that we should lay off the talk of an "embarrassing" loss. The point was that no one who ran for office should be embarrassed of their finish, provided they ran their campaign the way they felt it should be run and added to the dialogue on the issues they cared about. I was not assuming any other posters were anyone in particular either, I was simply using examples of people on differing sides of issues who have been unsuccessful in their bid for office at one time or another. That is nothing to be embarassed about, nor is it something for you to be defensive of, although I apologize if I seemed to have touched some sort of nerve. I certainly did not intend to do so.

Friday, April 01, 2005

local Oshkosh Elections

Contributed by: Campus Greens
This upcoming Tuesday, April 5 is Election Day for local offices.

In this email, the Oshkosh Campus Greens have included:
- What offices are up for election,
- The candidates we support,
- The reasoning why it is important to vote in local elections

Local Elections: Tuesday, April 5

1. Oshkosh City Council (vote 3): We support Cheryl Hentz and Brian Poeschl. Brian and Cheryl are both dedicated working-class Oshkosh residents. Our support is based on their Honesty, Integrity, and support of the Oshkosh working-class. While we may be at different ends of the political spectrum, we feel that both Hentz and Poeschl would be very effective leaders on the council (honorable mention goes to Joe Jungwirth and Brian Bain)

2. Oshkosh Mayor: No endorsement - between Paul Esslinger and Bill Castle

3. Oshkosh School Board: Instead of endorsements, the Campus Greens encourage you to NOT vote for Ben Schneider or John Daggett. We feel that neither have education as their top priority, and that neither are well informed of our current school system. The other school board candidates are Lee Wilson and J Thomas McDermott.

4. Winnebago Cty Executive: No endorsement - between Jane Van De Hey and Mark Harris

5. District Judge: No endorsement - Between Scott Woldt and Dan Bissett

6. State Superintendent of Schools: We support Elizabeth Burmaster. Elizabeth is supported by almost all of the state's instructors, she has worked to secure quality funding levels for WI schools, and she is a strong supporter of civic engagement in our schools.

To see a sample ballot, go here:

Why is it important to vote in local elections?
Local councils are the tier of government which relate in a meaningful way. It is here that communities have a direct say in the development of their areas. Community involvement in debating the local budget will ensure that local revenue is used for the benefit of all in the area.

Local councils provide the mechanism and vehicle to plan and implement the programs that have already been initiated at national and state levels. Local councils provide the political platform for communities to become involved in the decision making processes - decision making that impacts upon individuals, families and communities.

Campus Greens of Oshkosh