Thursday, July 27, 2006

Judge makes right decision in Geske sentencing matter; case will not be reopened

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Geske is currently serving a 25-year prison term in the Green Bay Correctional Institute for sexual assault, reckless endangerment and child enticement – charges to which he pled no contest, was subsequently found guilty and last November sentenced.

Recently Geske and his new defense attorney Ralph Sczygelski sought to withdraw his no contest pleas and reopen the case, arguing among other things, that his former defense attorney, Jennifer Thompson, promised him he would not get the 25 year sentence prosecutors sought. He testified that he never felt comfortable with the plea agreement but that Thompson prodded him into accepting it. In her own testimony, Thompson denied Geske’s claims, saying she has never made any kind of sentencing promise to Geske or any other client, and further said she shared all evidence with Geske and worked very hard to achieve a good outcome for him.

After nearly two hours of testimony, Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge William Carver denied each of Geske’s motions – a ruling that seems to be the right one for this case. Here’s why…

Let’s say, for the sake of argument that Thompson DID promise Geske he’d do a lesser sentence than 25 years. And let’s go one step further and, for discussion purposes, say she DID push him into accepting a plea agreement. A judge ALWAYS asks the defendant if they understand the agreement they’re entering into and whether they are entering into it of their own free will. Judges also always ask if anyone has made any promises to the defendant in exchange for their plea. And judges also ask if the defendant understands that the judge is not bound by the agreement and can use his or her own discretion in sentencing, using the guidelines prescribed by the state. If Geske had any concerns about his representation with respect to his plea and what his ultimate sentence might be, the time to speak was when he was asked those questions, not some time later when he may have decided the state prison is more than he can handle and has likely had a change of heart about what he told the court. The best time to have had a change of heart would have been before he committed the crimes that landed him in court, and prison, to begin with. All things considered, it seems justice has been served in Geske’s case; so should the time he’s been sentenced to.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Groundbreaking set for new Park View Health Center

Nearly four years of planning, followed by months of plan revisions is finally coming to fruition as groundbreaking for the new Park View Health Center is set for August 9.

According to Mike Elder, director of the Winnebago County Facilities and Property Management Department, despite some revisions to the original design early on, there have been no changes made to the plans since the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors approved the $23.34 million project in late February.

The 136,000-square-foot facility will house 168 beds - 54 less beds than the 56-year-old nursing home has now.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 2 p.m., at 725 Butler Ave. The public is invited.

Construction of the new nursing home is expected to last about 16 months.

Though the project is being paid for with tax dollars, a construction fund and a permanent endowment fund have been set up through the Oshkosh Community Foundation. That gives people - whether local residents or someone who may have an affection for or ties to Park View - an opportunity to make a donation directly to Park View.

For more information or to make a direct contribution, visit the Community Foundation at its web site: Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses

The last couple of days we’ve heard about the recent vandalism at the new Pollock Community Water Park, caused when someone is believed to have thrown a glass bottle over metal fence into the area of the lap pool. That vandalism resulted in one pool patron suffering a minor cut and the city having to close the entire park for a day and portions of it for a longer period than that while cleanup was undertaken. All this comes with a price tag: up to $2,000 we’re told for the cleanup and water replacement (the pool had to be completely drained in order to be cleaned up) and whatever bills may have been incurred by the injured party. The city is said to be reviewing the pool’s security tapes to try getting a lead on the vandal(s). If they’re caught, I hope they’re prosecuted to the full extent of the law and punished accordingly.

There is another somewhat disturbing aspect to this and that was parks director Tom Stephany’s comment in this morning’s Oshkosh Northwestern article about the vandalism and how it would be paid for from the water park operation budget. He was quoted as having said “Now, we have a substantial expense that we weren’t expecting.”

I agree $2,000 is not a small expense, but it is small in comparison to what could eventually go wrong at the park and in comparison to the overall cost of building the park. But it is naïve for Stephany or anyone else to believe vandals would leave such a nice facility alone. We’ve also seen vandalism at the Leach Amphitheater and we saw vandalism at the sundial in the early days after it was built. Unfortunately this kind of behavior seems to be par for the course with a certain element in society today. I’m sure insurance would cover larger expenses, but why is there not a fund set up for smaller things like this? We hear all the time about rainy day funds and the like. Granted, this is hardly a catastrophic event usually covered by rainy day funds, but the point is it only makes sense that (a) the city expect the unexpected, and (b) plan accordingly.

As a side note, this is another reason to institute a facility charge at the Leach – to help pay for those unexpected things that may go wrong, vandalism-related or not. I don’t believe we have a contingency fund or plan in place over there either, do we?

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

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses
Authored by: DP on Monday, July 24 2006 @ 08:48 PM MDT
I hope that the city is keeping seperate accounting for the pool. It will be interesting to see just how much it actually costs to operate.

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses
Authored by: NewVoice on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 11:30 AM MDT
They'll Probably list it as part of the operating budget and hide in the appendix to the budget somewhere no one will ever look. I hope Cheryl keeps on this.

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses
Authored by: Jim B. on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 02:39 PM MDT
I would also like to see attendance and income numbers. How many season passes were sold? My wife was there the other day with the kids(post glass incident) on a very hot day and she said it was dead compared to the week before.
Just curious!
Jim B.

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, August 09 2006 @ 06:12 PM MDT
The Oshkosh Northwestern is reporting that three juveniles have been arrested for disorderly conduct in connection with this incident. Thanks to the anonymous persons who donated money for the cleanup and for the reward to help catch the guilty parties. If these youth are found guilty of this, they should be ordered to perform community service in the city. And I think they should be banned from using the water park for a specific time period. I do wonder why they were arrested for disorderly conduct only and not for vandalism as well. That is, after all, what this senseless and cowardly act was.
- Cheryl

Better plan needed for "unexpected" expenses
Authored by: NewVoice on Thursday, August 10 2006 @ 04:54 PM MDT
Besides the reckless charges and Cheryl's valid point about vandalism charges, how about assault charges of some kind? Wasn't someone injured by the glass?

Monday, July 17, 2006

City to put out new, stronger RFP for development, post Five Rivers

During this Wednesday’s Redevelopment Authority meeting, it is expected that a new Request for Proposals “format” will be approved. It is said to be written with stronger language and include more stringent requirements for developers to meet in setting forth proposals to the City of Oshkosh.

One of those new requirements – within the Budget and Financing section of the RFP – states that a developer must provide to the City a ‘Sources & Uses of Funds’ worksheet that “shows where monies would be coming from to cover both the construction phase as well as permanent financing phase of the project.”

Additionally, the RFP also requires that any developer proposing a project in the Marion-Pearl zone area provide the City with “information to demonstrate that the developer has the financial resources to complete the entire project.”

Given how things previously went with Five Rivers developer Tom Doig, these changes are improvements to insure some taxpayer protection.

It is, however, disappointing that the City still is dangling the TIF carrot out there. According to an article by Alex Hummel in the Oshkosh Northwestern, “The city notes it still has its nearly $16 million tax-incremental financing plan on the table. The TIF district lays out more than $9 million in public amenities in the Marion-Pearl zone, including creation of a new river walk, improved sea wall and parking and street improvements. The new RFP also lays out the potential for a “developer assistance grant” to any prospective developer. But the size of the “DAG” – Five Rivers was in line for a $3.1 million to $3.8 million shot of direct cash assistance – will depend on the development.”

This is riverfront property and, like many others in this community, I am not convinced that it actually meets the definition of what is actually “TIF material,” if you will. Why is our city administration so afraid of trying to get development without offering up TIF money every time they turn around? I maintain that the administration has previously and continues to use TIFs as a crutch, and if we are going to be strong and successful we had better learn to draw on other things – just as so many other communities do, some because they have no choice – or we are going to reach our TIF limit and then may find ourselves at an economic development standstill because we have not thought outside of the box. All we’ve done is offer a wheelbarrow full of money to developers in order to entice them in.

City administration still sees this particular area as “appropriate for a mix of commercial and residentially oriented land uses, with commercial development well suited near Jackson Street. Residential condominiums combined with commercial land uses, hotel and/or condo/hotel resort facilities that includes a strong orientation to the riverfront is highly desirable.”

We should be careful to not put too much stock in the condo market. There are only so many condos any one market can handle before it is saturated. Have we learned nothing yet from some of those more unfortunate communities that have tried this before us – and not just around here, but all over the country?

Let’s get the area developed, but let’s be smart about it in the process so we don’t end up with another Five Rivers debacle or white elephants that do nothing but sit empty and complement the many other large, empty retail boxes around town.

- Cheryl

Friday, July 07, 2006

Five Rivers

Friday, July 07 2006 @ 11:33 AM MDTContributed by: Anonymous
What's the latest with Mr. Doig? I see that his website is still actively recruiting people to purchase condos at the "soon to be built" resort in Oshkosh.
Did I see him leaving town on a rail, or did he just circle back for a second "kick at the cat"?

Five Rivers
Authored by: admin on Friday, July 07 2006 @ 08:58 PM MDT
A realtor at RE/MAX told one of her clients that the Five Rivers deal isn't really dead. I'm not exactly sure what she's been listening to or where she gets her information from, but the term sheet for Five Rivers as offered to Tom Doig from the city is most assuredly dead, having been rescinded by the Oshkosh Common Council at its June 27 meeting. If this developer wants to start over, the door for that possibility has been left open, but he would have to eat a lot of crow after his nasty letter to the city (I hear crow tastes good with "whine"). Plus, he said he was going to pull out of Oshkosh and take his project elsewhere. Let's hope he does just that. Or if he is going to put it up, let's hope he invests his own money and elaves ours alone. As far as his web site goes, it's probably just a case of him not being very timely in getting it taken down. After all he was a day late and a dollar short with every other aspect of this project. Why should a web site marketing the project be any different, right?
- Cheryl

Five Rivers
Authored by: DBCooper on Friday, July 07 2006 @ 10:35 PM MDT
1) He's not smart enough to take the site down by himself
2) He hasn't found another location that will have him yet
3) When he does, he will have to come up with the $100 to pay some high school kid to change the page to say "5 SnakeOils Resort, by Tar&Feather LLC" or somesuch.
4) The IP address for is It expires 4/17/2007. I wonder if he has the $25 to renew it to keep his "dream" alive while he looks for the next sucker?

Shirley didn't want us to kick him when he was down. Sorry Shirley, I just can't help it. The butterburgers made me do it...

Five Rivers
Authored by: Target on Saturday, July 08 2006 @ 10:03 AM MDT
He also took money from those people dumb enough to reserve these hotel rooms. I think it was in the ballpark of $5000. I wonder if he just doesn't want to refund that money yet. If he took down the site and admitted defeat, he would have to pay everyone back. Makes you wonder if he still has that money?It ought to be interesting to watch the destruction of Five Rivers LLC. (don't forget about the LLC part) If he declares bankrupcy because of the City, those people may be out of thier money.I guess that is what they mean when they say "a fool and his money are soon parted". That applies to the poor suckers that reserved a "condo" down the Five Rivers as it sailed away.............

Five Rivers
Authored by: DP on Saturday, July 08 2006 @ 08:16 PM MDT
Any money was put in escrow. It would be returned.

Five Rivers
Authored by: admin on Sunday, July 09 2006 @ 06:19 AM MDT
I doubt seriously he is actively doing business from his web site now that the project term sheet has been rescinded, but following is the contact information for
Administrative Contact: Doig, Thomas
3382 Oakwood CourtWest Bend, WI 53095US
Technical Contact: Adminstrator, DNS
310 E Buffalo St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202US
Fax: +1.4142918010

Monday, July 03, 2006

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond

Newly-seated Oshkosh councilman Dennis McHugh is pushing for a fence around the detention pond near the Fair Acres Plaza on Murdock Avenue and Main Street. He believes it is a safety issue that needs to be addressed, especially in light of the city's requirement that certain backyard swimming pools be enclosed.

But his resolution, though moved by councilor Paul Esslinger, died for lack of a second at the June 27 council meeting. Therefore no discussion on the matter took place. But there are no requirements at present time for detention/retention ponds to be enclosed.

Some agree with McHugh, saying this is a safety issue. Others agree with the position of city staff that it is unnecessary and there is no precedent for such an enclosure to be installed. Some have even likened it to ponds and larger bodies of water in parks not being enclosed and they are places actually frequented by children.

How do you feel about the issue? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

[following are comments that were made on an earlier version of the Eye on Oshkosh site]

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: oshwi324 on Monday, July 03 2006 @ 04:53 PM MDT
We have to decide one way or the other. Either we require a fence around these retention ponds, or we do away with the ordinance requiring fences around swimming pools.If you're interested in this topic, you know about the issue surrounding the open water or Murdock Av. Let me call your attention to another, more heinous example of this same issue: the retention pond created in the new subdivision called Casey's Meadow at the end of Mockingbird Way on the city's west side.Picture an entire city block in which all of the backyards end at the detention pond. This pond is nothing small--it's 20 feet deep! The city is so concerned about my pool that holds water 30 inches deep that they require I put a fence around it. But the retention pond 20 feet deep that will be in the backyards of dozens of kids requires nothing from a safety fence perspective.What's wrong with this picture?

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: DBCooper on Tuesday, July 04 2006 @ 08:45 PM MDT
I've done some research on these fences. Seems as though the experts, the people who engineer them, overall are against fencing them. If there are communities where the ponds have fences, it's because city councils have gone against the recommendations of the experts and enacted ordinances requiring fences.This site says that fencing is generally not desirable, but it doesn't explain why.
Then click the article "Stormwater Detention Pond Fencing", note that it is in word.doc format. It has questions and answers about fencing. An editorial on considering safety when designing ponds.
I had a good look at the pond near pick and save yesterday afternoon. Oddly enough, there is a pair of blue-winged teal using it, strange considering they are usually very private birds. It won't be long before the geese find it. I think that some very low growing shrubs around this pond is all that is required. A fence, especially a cyclone fence, would be an eyesore and have maintenance costs associated with it. Right along Murdock Street, perhaps some short wooden posts with a cable strung about 18" off the ground would be prudent. If some kid lost control of his/her bike on the sidewalk, it would help prevent taking a ride down the embankment.

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by:Jim B. on Wednesday, July 05 2006 @ 02:58 PM MDT
If we use the logic, if we have to fence in pools, then we should fence in the retention pond, wouldnt we be obligated to put a fence around Lake Winnebago? What about the pond(s) in South Park? Or all the other retention ponds in the city! And we have a few miles of the Fox River to fence in as well.The comparison of fencing pools to retention ponds is apples and oranges. The pool issue came up after these port-a-pools started popping up all over the place. An existing ordinance was already in place.I feel like Mr. McHugh has way more important issues to tackle, but I am unimpressed with his ability to comprehend the process. Is this "Columbo act" just that, or is he out of his league? It is becoming commomplace for our elected council members to jump on irrelevant issues, and not take the time to research the big issues! Jim B.

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: oshwi324 on Wednesday, July 05 2006 @ 07:55 PM MDT
The question I raise is, are we working too hard at protecting ourselves from ourselves? The fencing ordinance is a perfect example of that. If you can have a house with a backyard on Lake Winnebago and you don't need a fence, why do I need a fence around a 3 foot deep wading pool?I agree with your apples and oranges illustration, Jim B. I didn't think of it that way. But I still maintain the design of the retention ponds are a bit rediculous, being 20 feet deep and so close to roadways and backyards. I think the could have been more strategically placed.

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: admin on Thursday, July 06 2006 @ 06:25 AM MDT
I took a good look at the detention/retention pond yesterday afternoon, and while I can't see putting a fence around the entire thing, there is one very small section toward the far southeast end of it that is dangerously close to the sidewalk. Someone on a bike could accidentally ride into that section. It was also suggested to me that kids might try a dare-devilish stunt by trying to jump over a small section of that end of the pond that small section with their bike, and fall in during their attempt. While we cannot protect everyone from themselves - nor should we try - the very fact that a true accident could happen, especially in that one area, leads me to believe a small barrier might be prudent. Such a barrier might be stakes with a cable (as was suggested earlier by DB Cooper), a short section of fencing (not cyclone though), bushes or shrubs (which might be more aesthetically pleasing and less obvious) or something else of a similar nature.Granted, the likelihood of something happening is probably slim, but why can't we be proactive for a change instead of reactive? Let's not wait for an accident to happen before exercising some caution. - Cheryl

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: NewVoice on Thursday, July 06 2006 @ 03:14 PM MDT
Now don't anyone get their panties in a bunch about this suggestion. I am not saying whether or not there should be a fence around a 20' deep pond in the city, inches from a sidewalk, blocks from an elementary school. I do want to comment on the type of fencing discussed. It is amazing that when someone doesn't want a fence they remark how ugly a snow fence, or chain link would be around this pond near a shopping area. I imagine if the same person wanted a fence, they would discuss the simple beauty a small picket fence woulod add to the shopping plaza's landscaping.Anyway, as an artist, I wonder what anyone thinks about a three to four foot wood plank fence with a beautiful mural depicting notable features of our community? Safety and an asthetically pleasing option to cyclone fencing.

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: got it on Thursday, July 06 2006 @ 08:30 PM MDT
Great idea! Beautiful, even. Now I have to ask the question no one wants to hear. How much???

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: NewVoice on Friday, July 07 2006 @ 07:02 PM MDT
Fence might be a couple of hundred that could be raised by donations from those wanting the fence. Paint might be another couple hundred, maybe could be done cheaper. Also bought with donations. I'd do the mural for free with the help of the students of the neighboring school contributing design ideas.

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: admin on Friday, July 07 2006 @ 07:17 PM MDT
I wonder if the same kids who helped plant flowers along Jackson Drive would be willing to help beautify this area. They could help New Voice.
- Cheryl

Councilman pushes for fence around detention pond
Authored by: Target on Saturday, July 08 2006 @ 10:11 AM MDT
Does this mean we will finally see who New Voice is?Maybe we can find out who Target is then. Although I am not an artist. Unless you want a mess, then you can count on me.