Thursday, August 31, 2006

The facts about Congressman Green's campaign finance violations

[a press release from Gov. Jim Doyle's deputy press secretary...]

The Facts About Congressman Green’s Campaign Finance Violations
Law Prohibiting the Use of Funds From Unregistered PACs Has Been on the Books Since 1974

MADISON – Congressman Mark Green continues to say that Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws don’t apply to him.

“It takes a special kind of arrogance for Congressman Green to say that the only campaign finance laws he has to follow are the ones that he likes,” said Anson Kaye, Communications Director for the Doyle campaign. “That may work in Washington, but it doesn’t fly here in Wisconsin.”

Here are the facts:

FACT: "The State Elections Board today told Republican gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mark Green to return $467,844 in donations from political action committees (PACs) not registered in Wisconsin." [Source: MJS, 8/30/06]
FACT: The requirement that candidates for state office raise money only from PACs registered in the state has been on the books since 1974. [Source: Legislative Reference Bureau, Brief 01-9, March 2001]
FACT: Congressman Green’s transfer from his federal Congressional campaign account included $468,000 in money from federal PACs that have never registered to operate in Wisconsin as required by Wisconsin state law. [Source: Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 8-22-06]
FACT: According to the Wisconsin State Elections Board manual for PACs, Political Action Committees (PACs) that are active in “affecting the nomination process, the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate” must register in Wisconsin. “PACs are required to register in Wisconsin whether or not the committee is a resident committee or an out-of-state organization.” [Source: State Elections Board Manual for Political Action Committees, Referendum Groups, and Corporations, August 1995]
FACT: "One of the votes by the board requires Green's campaign to also divest itself of all political action committee donations that exceed $485,000, the amount set by state law that limits how much candidates for governor can get from PACs." [Source: MJS, 8/30/06]
FACT: The limit on the amount of PAC money that one candidate can receive has been on the books since 1987. [Source: Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Release, 10/17/02]
FACT: Congressman Green’s transfer, and the money he has raised since the transfer was made, puts him $182,545 over the legal limit in state law for PAC contributions. [Source: Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Release, 7/24/06]
FACT: According to the State Elections Board Campaign Fund Manual, “the receipt of (PAC) contributions in excess of the cumulative limits is a serious violation of campaign finance law, and may result in a fine for the committee. In addition, excess contributions must be returned either to the contributor or the WECF.” [Source: Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund Manual, May 1996]
FACT: According to the independent, non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Congressman Green’s PAC money shenanigans will allow him to raise upwards of “$1 million in PAC money from special interest groups” – almost $500,000 more than what is allowed under state law for PAC limits for candidates. [Source: WDC Release, 7/24/06]

“The non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign brought this complaint because they had serious concerns about Congressman Green’s efforts to flout the state’s campaign finance laws,” Kaye said. “The bi-partisan State Elections Board found that Congressman Green tried to take in almost $500,000 in special interest money that no one else in the state can take. It’s time for Congressman Green to step up, put his personal ambitions aside, and follow the law, just like any other ordinary Wisconsinite.”

Paid for by Doyle for Wisconsin, Karin Gale, Treasurer

When Will Congressman Green Clean Campaign of Dirty Money?

[a press release from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin...]

MADISON – Congressman Mark Green is up to his dirty tricks once again.

This time Congressman Green is refusing to comply with an order from the State Elections Board to divest his campaign within 10 days of nearly $468,000 in contributions from federal PACs that were not registered in Wisconsin when the donations were made. It’s dirty campaign cash that Green legally would not be able to raise under state law as a candidate for Governor. And it’s part of $1.3 million in dirty money that Green transferred last year from his federal to his state campaign account.

Congressman Green’s excuse: the money’s already been spent.

Sounds just like one of many excuses the Green campaign gave during its more than year-long refusal to get rid of $30,000-plus in tainted cash Congressman Green took from the indicted Tom DeLay – money, by the way, that Green finally donated this summer to charity after succumbing to pressure.

Congressman Green should know better than to think he can skirt Wisconsin law and get away with it by claiming he already spent the dirty money he knows he never should have had in the first place.

“Congressman Green saying he already spent his illegal money is like saying someone shouldn’t be punished because they stole money and then spent it,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “It’s plain and simple: Congressman Green violated Wisconsin law with his dirty transfer, the State Elections Board confirmed that yesterday, and he should immediately clean his campaign of this dirty cash.”

On a bipartisan 5-2 vote, the State Elections Board upheld a complaint yesterday by the independent, nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign that Congressman Green’s transfer put him in violation of several state campaign finance laws.

In addition to ordering Congressman Green to return nearly $468,000 in contributions from federal PACs not registered in Wisconsin, the Board also ordered him to divest his campaign of PAC donations that put him above the legal state limit.

Authorized and Paid For By the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Joe Wineke, Chair

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

DPW: State Elections Board Confirms: Congressman Green's Dirty Transfer Violated Wisconsin

Press release from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin...

MADISON – On a 5-2 vote, the State Elections Board today ordered Congressman Mark Green to divest his campaign of nearly $468,000 in contributions from federal PACs that were not registered in Wisconsin when the donations were made. The cash is part of $1.3 million in dirty money that Green transferred last year from his federal to his state campaign account.

The Board also ordered on a 5-2 vote that Green must divest his campaign of PAC donations that put him above the legal state limit.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke released the following statement:

“The State Elections Board confirmed today what we knew all along – that it was wrong for Congressman Mark Green to violate state law and transfer his dirty $1.3 million to use in his bid for Governor.

“There is no doubt that Green’s transfer violates Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws – and the State Elections Board confirmed that once again today.

“Congressman Green’s transfer puts him over the legal state limit for PAC contributions. It would have allowed him to raise upwards of $1 million in special-interest PAC money – almost $500,000 more than what state law allows and what other candidates can raise. And it enabled Green to funnel nearly $468,000 in contributions from federal PACs into Wisconsin – campaign cash that he legally would not be able to raise under state law as a candidate for Governor.

“Congressman Green never should have been allowed to transfer this money into Wisconsin in the first place. I am pleased that the State Elections Board ruled today that Green must get rid of his dirty special interest cash and can no longer use it to prop up his campaign for Governor.”
Meanwhile, Anson Kaye, Communications Director for the Doyle Campaign, made the following statement:

“Congressman Green has been caught violating Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws. He should own up to it, and he should do exactly what the State Elections Board has instructed him to do – which is to get rid of this dirty money.

“What this ruling shows is that Congressman Green will do just about anything to further his personal ambition, even violating the letter and the spirit of our campaign finance laws.”

The facts about Green’s illegal transfer:

  • Green’s transfer puts him $182,545 over the legal limit in state law for PAC contributions. State law limits the amount of PAC money a candidate for Governor can take to $485,000, and with his transfer of federal PAC money and the PAC money he has since raised, Green is sitting on $667,545 in PAC donations – well above the legal limit. [Source: WDC Release, 7/24/06]
  • Green’s transfer includes nearly $468,000 in contributions from federal PACs that have never registered to do business in Wisconsin, or registered well after the contributions were made or after Green’s transfer occurred. State law requires PACs to register with the State Elections Board if they wish to donate to legislative or statewide candidates. [Source: WDC Release, 8/22/06]
  • Green’s PAC money shenanigans will allow him to raise upwards of “$1 million in PAC money from special interest groups” – almost $500,000 more than what is allowed under state law for PAC limits for candidates. [Source: WDC Release, 7/24/06]

Authorized and Paid For By the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Joe Wineke, Chair

Monday, August 28, 2006

Winnebago Dems: Attend Republican Corn Roast!

Contributed by: Anonymous
Republican Party chair promises long awaited answers from Julie Pung Leschke
OSHKOSH – Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair Jef Hall today encouraged voters to attend the Republican Party of Winnebago County’s annual corn roast after the GOP County Chair promised attendees could “get candidate literature to answer any un answered questions” in an email invitation to the event.

“We’ve been waiting for Julie Pung Leschke to have the courage to tell voters her position on any number of issues including ethics reform for months,” Hall said. “If voters are tired of Julie Pung Leschke ducking tough questions, they should stop by the corn roast and find out if she even has a position on government reform.”

Claiming she does not have the time, Pung Leshcke has refused to answer a six question survey on reform for more than two months. GOP Chair Michelle Litjens defended the Republican candidate in a letter to the editor in the Oshkosh Northwestern, claiming Leshke shouldn’t have had to answer the survey because it is ‘partisan.’ The survey was circulated by three non-partisan organizations, including the League of Women Voters, an organization in which Pung Leshke claims membership.

“Julie Pung Leshke is currently the only candidate for the 54th Assembly who has not answered a basic six question survey on reform,” Hall continued. “Perhaps tonight is Julie Pung Leshke’s chance to stop acting like a politician and start talking to Oshkosh about the issues that matter.”

“The corn roast will take place Monday, August 28th from 5:30-7:30 pm at Clayton Park on Larsen Road.” Hall concluded. “Don’t leave without answers!”

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

Winnebago Dems: Attend Republican Corn Roast!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 28 2006 @ 06:25 PM MDT
I missed it. Damn. I wanted to stand in line for some free corn. Kind of like the bread lines I read about in Leningrad.

Winnebago Dems: Attend Republican Corn Roast!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 29 2006 @ 07:10 PM MDT
I want to thank this site for removing certain comments from here earlier today that were inaccurate and obviously intended to be defamatory toward the chairman of our local Democratic Party Jef Hall. In removing them, other comments supportive of Mr. Hall were also removed since they made no sense without the original comments but we understand the reason for it. Since that has happened, Kent Monte has posted the original comment and a followup to the pro-Jef Hall comment on his own site, claiming they were sent to him by email. What's interesting is Jef Hall's press release about the Republican Party's corn roast was posted on Jef's own blog site, Oshkosh News and here. Mr. Monte could have posted it too but he didn't for whatever reason. He managed to sloppily and inaccurately refer to it when posting the other derogatory comments. It's unfortunate that someone who hopes to someday represent us on the common council would either stoop to such a level or allow himself to be used as a pawn in something so childish. It's also unfortunate that while other sites have taken the high road toward maintaining some kind of decorum, Mr. Monte has chosen not to do so with some of the postings he allows.

Winnebago Dems: Attend Republican Corn Roast!
Authored by: Kent Monte on Tuesday, August 29 2006 @ 08:32 PM MDT
Yes, I have posted some comments emailed to me that were deleted from this site. I would have posted the whole thing but I didn't want to get sued by Ms. Hentz for violating her disclaimer in the left margin.I was not aware of the other sites posting it. I only have what I posted, nothing else.Mr. Hall can have the whole post removed if he contacts me and asks. This was not meant to get personal but it got that way fast.
K. Monte

Winnebago Dems: Attend Republican Corn Roast!
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, August 30 2006 @ 12:32 AM MDT
You are welcome, Anonymous. Jef Hall thanked me as well and I appreciate both comments. Yes, in keeping with a policy adopted some time ago, the comments in question were deleted for the very reasons you mentioned. Sadly, Mr. Monte chose to selectively post things contained in the deleted portion, claiming that a fear of being sued prevented him from posting the original press release and the subsequent thread of comments in its entirety. I appreciate Mr. Monte's mindfulness that many things on this site are copyrighted. However, it seems to me if he had truly been interested in fairness and posting good comments about Mr. Hall along with the bad, and either had questions about possible copyright infringement or simply wanted to err on the side of caution, he could have contacted me via email. But, alas, that was not to be.

More on the silence of Julie Pung Leschke
Authored by: admin on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 10:14 AM MDT
Winnebago County Democratic Party chair Jef Hall has written another piece about how Julie Pung Leschke's silence on the issue of campaign finance reform is a problem. Others are picking up on his thoughts as well. You can read the latest about it by going here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Doyle says Green's crime plan means less police, fire personnel in state

(a press release from the Doyle campaign)

MADISON - Today, Congressman Mark Green is talking about fighting crime.

The problem? His plan would hurt Wisconsin law enforcement, not the criminals.

That's because his budget plan would force cities and towns to enact deep cuts to our core priorities, like schools, prescription drug coverage for seniors, and yes, police and firefighters.

How do we know?

Because when the Institute for Wisconsin's Future looked at what a budget plan like Congressman Green's would do to public safety, they found that if it were applied to the FY 2002 budget, it "would have meant 2,000 fewer police and firefighters in 2002." [Source: Institute for Wisconsin's Future, January 2005]

Congressman Green’s budget will gut public safety and weaken communities. With health care costs, energy costs, and other costs rising but spending frozen, communities will be forced to cut back police and fire protection, and other critical services that help to keep our communities safe and secure.

"Congressman Green's plan for fighting crime looks like it was written by the keystone cops," said Anson Kaye, Communications Director for the Doyle campaign. "He'd force deep cuts to first responders, meaning fewer police on the street. That's great news – for criminals."

In contrast, Governor Jim Doyle has spent 30 years working to keep Wisconsin safe.

Governor Doyle’s Record:

  • Stood with local law enforcement to protect their jobs and stop dramatic cuts by restoring and fully funding shared revenue [Source: 2005 Wisconsin Act 25];
  • Stood with law enforcement and twice vetoed legislation that would allow concealed, loaded and lethal weapons into crowded shopping malls, rock concerts, banks, at the State Fair and Summerfest – and even on playgrounds [Sources: 2005 Wisconsin Senate Bill 403, Governor Doyle Press Release, 1/20/06; 2003 Wisconsin Senate Bill 214, Governor Doyle Press Release, 11/18/03];
  • Launched the Sex Offender Apprehension and Felony Enforcement Initiative (SAFE), in which state, local, and federal law enforcement partners work together to track down and apprehend noncompliant sex offenders. As of August 2006, over 850 noncompliant sex offenders have already been located. Wisconsin was one of only two states in the country to earn a grade of "A" and the only Midwest state to receive a grade higher than “D” in a report issued earlier this year by the national children's advocacy group, "Parents for Megan's Law." [Sources: Governor Doyle Press Release, 9/20/05;]; and
  • Provided Milwaukee law enforcement with an additional $750,000 to help pay for the overtime costs to put more cops on the street. Further, Governor Doyle announced the state would provide $500,000 to provide an additional 450 youth summer jobs as part of Mayor Tom Barrett's Summer Jobs Program, and $200,000 for additional police presence in city neighborhoods to help keep the community safe. [Source: Governor Doyle Press Release, 6/22/06]

“As a prosecutor, former Attorney General, and now as Governor, no one's been tougher on hardened criminals in Wisconsin than Governor Jim Doyle – which is why he has broad support among law enforcement all across the state,” Kaye said.

Paid for by Doyle for Wisconsin, Karin Gale, Treasurer

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Paulus apologizes to Winnebago County residents

[Editorial Note: In an open letter to the residents of Winnebago County, which was published in the Oshkosh Northwestern this morning, former District Attorney Joseph Paulus has apologized for the crimes that led a federal judge to sentence him to nearly five years for bribery and filing a false tax return. Paulus is now facing new charges, these from the state, which he will make his first court appearance on tomorrow in Winnebago County Circuit Court.

While well-written, with all the right words, a few things in Paulus' letter stood out for me as I read it.

First, he says he has been anxious to address us citizens. Really? Is that why it took him nearly two years to get his letter together? His days in a federal prison camp in Florida must be awfully full that this is the soonest he could get his letter of apology to us. Pardon me for being cynical, but I find it more than just a little ironic that one day before his court appearance on the new charges, we received the letter. His timing strikes me as orchestrated and nothing more than Joe Paulus still being opportunistic and manipulative.

And while he's busy writing a letter of apology to everyone in the county, it's too bad he hasn't been "humbled" enough by all of this to also write letters of apology to Edmund "E.J." Jelinski, Thomas Chalchoff and Ann Gollner, for the things he did to them when they blew the whistle on him four years ago. He removed Gollner from her position in the DA's office, fired Jelinski and Chalchoff from their jobs as prosecutors and basically called all three liars who he claimed were saying untrue things about him in order to smear him in a political campaign. Even though Jelinski and Chalchoff received settlements and back pay from the state, all three put up with a lot of crap from this man and his supporters. Some of them, including the Oshkosh Northwestern, have since come around. Why has Paulus not seen fit to apologize to them?

The second thing about his letter that I found interesting was how he said Judge William Griesbach made a "proper decision" when he enhanced Paulus' sentence on federal charges from 33 months to 58 months during sentencing two years ago. Really? Is that why his attorney has spent time appealing the sentence? What has that been all about if the sentence was so "proper?"

Finally, in what reads like even more self-serving commentary, Paulus felt it necessary to re-hash all the good things he did for this community during his 14 years in office instead of just apologizing for the crimes that he committed which, in some people's minds, undid what he did and made many more people question other cases which have not had any formal charges against Paulus attached to them. Why couldn't he just simply have apologized for his actions which, along with those of Milton "Mitch" Schierland, tarnished the image of criminal justice and law enforcement in Winnebago County for many years longer than he was in office and abusing his power here, and be done with it? Maybe he felt he needed to remind everyone, including Judge Dale English from Fond du Lac County who will preside over the proceedings tomorrow, of all the good things he did for this community. He did those things because that's what he was elected and paid to do, not because he was such a benevolent soul. I hope his letter does not cause Judge English to grant Paulus leniency. He should be given the maximum sentence for his crimes. No doubt that's what he would argue for if he were the prosecutor. And now, his letter...]

- Cheryl

To The Citizens of Winnebago County:

I am writing this long-overdue letter of apology in an effort to express my thoughts and feelings about the events that have led to my prosecution and imprisonment. Regrettably, I cannot speak with each of you personally and we will not be able to look one another in the eye. Nevertheless, I have been anxious to address every citizen in Winnebago County and I am grateful to The Northwestern for providing this forum to speak with you today.

Twenty years ago in 1986, I began a career as a public servant in Winnebago County. Serving as an assistant district attorney in my home county was the fulfillment of a childhood dream and I quickly realized that I had found my true calling in life.

Over the ensuing years, I poured my heart and soul into being the best advocate for you that I could possibly be. As a result of your confidence in my abilities, I was elected District Attorney in 1988 and re-elected six times. During my 14 year tenure in office, I prosecuted thousands of criminals, including some of the most dangerous murderers, rapists, child molesters and drug traffickers ever to prey on the good people of our county.

For reasons that are difficult to articulate, I lost my moral compass in 1998 and engaged in professional misconduct with my close friend and fellow attorney, Milton Schierland. In the most fundamental way, I lost sight of the basic values that were instilled in me as a lifelong resident of the county. In the most simple terms, I succumbed to greed and jeopardized everything that I cherished.

Four years after the illegal conduct ended, I was charged in federal court and sentenced to 58 months in prison. I initially faced a sentence of 33 months, but the federal judge held me to a higher standard because of my role as a public official, and enhanced my sentence 25 months. It was a proper decision. Despite the cold reality that I would serve a long prison term, I unexpectedly felt a measure of relief. For any person with a conscience and a soul, wrongful conduct takes a profound personal toll, and I had experienced enough.

I have been imprisoned for the past two years and still must serve almost three more years on my federal sentence. I accept my punishment as just. Unlike so many of my fellow inmates, I blame no one but myself. In fact, as tragic as the situation is for me, and especially my family, I feel a personal duty and redemptive reward in serving my pennance and paying my debt to society.

Although prison life is difficult, especially for a former prosecutor, I have come to realize that my incarceration pales in comparison to the other sad realities of my misconduct. I have tarnished the reputation of the office of District Attorney and I recklessly betrayed the faith of all those who believed in me and afforded me the opportunity to serve.

Even more personally, I have disgraced my parents and dishonored my family name. I have five children, and my behavior has caused them untold heartache and grief. I have let down the one person who loves me with all my faults, my wife. I am distraught to watch her struggle on a daily basis to keep our family together. These realities haunt me every day and force me to pause and reflect on my personal failures.

Growing up in Oshkosh, I was fortunate to be surrounded by many positive influences such as teachers, coaches, clergy, scout leaders and, of course, my parents. I feel overwhelming remorse for having betrayed the spirit of the many life lessons they taught.

Likewise, I am ashamed to have betrayed the citizens of Winnebago County, each one of you. On the most personal level, I apologize for my conduct. In the most heartfelt way, I am sorry for what I have done. I will live with regret for the rest of my life.

I have been humbled by this experience and I pledge to you to find a way, however great or small, to continue paying my debt well past the day they let me walk through the prison gate and return to my family. When the day finally arrives, I intend to make the most of my second chance and lead an honest, hard-working and purposeful life as a contributing member of society. I look forward to that day.


Joseph F. Paulus


UPDATE AS OF AUG. 23, 2006, - 11:41 a.m.

So much for Joe Paulus being remorseful and humbled by the events of the last several years. Instead of pleading guilty to the charges this morning, Paulus requested a judicial substitution. Certainly that is his right under the law, but since he already has a deal hammered out with the state, it seems to me he could have entered a plea this morning, then requested a substitution. Or he could have requested a substitution when Judge Dale English was first assigned to this matter weeks ago.

He does not seem to be interested in keeping the wheels of justice turning. Instead, I don't think there can be any doubt that Paulus is looking for a judge with a record for leniency. But there can also be no doubt, Joseph Paulus still wants to show how in control he is and what a manipulator he can be.

Let's hope the judge who is next assigned to this case sees him for exactly what he is and gives him the sentence he deserves for what he has done in the name of "justice" in Winnebago County.

Monday, August 21, 2006

First garbage fees, now water meter fees?

[the following was submitted by an anonymous poster]

This morning, we're greeted by the headlines that the water department will raise water rates by 3.15% next year.

Seems that they purchased and installed water meters over the last 10 years that will not be supported anymore.

(See the news story here)

The city's response is "Well, if the company isn't going to support the technology anymore, there isn't much we can do about it."

Isn't much we can do about it? How long are we going to tolerate this?

By state law, your residential water meter must be replaced every 10 years. This is probably a holdover from decades past when water meters were not as reliable as they are now. Like many things, once we enact laws, we never go back and check them for viability. It's also possible that a company like Badger Meter lobbies the state to keep the law in place. It provides built in obsolescence and thus a new market for them.

My water meter was replaced in August of 1997. It was not the radio signal model, it was the "old" style which required somebody to read it. The article says that the city switched to the radio models in 1997. The city did not decide to switch to the new system, budget for it, and get approval in the last 6 months of 1997. They might not have had the new meters yet, but they knew they were going to switch. What did I get? The old style. Tell me that's not stupid.

Again, by law, my meter should have been replaced by July of 2007. In February of 2006, 18 months ahead of schedule, I got a notice that the city wanted to change my meter. Forget the style of the meter for a minute. This means that the city is replacing water meters when they still have approx 15% of their useful life left in them. Does that make any sense?

Okay, they said that they were changing the meters ahead of schedule so that everybody would have the same meter. I bought that, it's believable. Today, as part of the article, it says that the city knew in 2005 that this technology is obsolete, and that they would have to do something else. So, why the rush to replace meters that were still in their useful lifespan?

This is just another example of another city department run amok. The money they waste, the stupid things they do, all with seemingly no accountability at all. The only thing that happens for sure is we end up paying more money.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Oshkosh Northwestern's Rieckman says garbage fee ("tax") stinks; so does city leadership

In this morning's Oshkosh Northwestern, executive editor Stew Rieckman wrote a wonderful piece on the garbage fee (tax). It sums up people's feelings beautifully and probably better than anyone could.

Granted, I was not in favor of removing the "tax" a few months ago when the subject came up at a city council meeting because the year was already half over and the city staff had budgeted for the year figuring in money generated by the "tax." To remove it at that juncture, I believe, would have caused too many problems, had potentially far-reaching consequences and been completely irresponsible.

In saying that though, I also believe the truly responsible thing for this council to have done to avoid the "tax" in the first place - and a sign of true leadership - would have been for them to have demanded that the budget process be tackled earlier in the year, as some like Burk Tower and Meredith Scheuermann had said they should, and they be involved in the process from the get-go. That way they wouldn't have gotten caught in the 11th hour having to fall for every line and excuse the city manager doled out to them. Finally someone has realized they have to be more involved - and starting sooner than in the fall - and the budget process has been underway since summer, but what's really happening? Is any real progress being made? Let's hope the results will be fruitful.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy Rieckman's editorial.
Bottom line: This "tax" stinks more than the garbage it covers to haul away.

- Cheryl

[following is a response to the above piece, as it was originally posted on an earlier version of Eye on Oshkosh]

Authored by: Zoff B. on Wednesday, August 23 2006 @ 12:32 AM MDT
I'm not sure where Mr. Ricekman is from or how long he's been in Oshkosh, but his editorials of the last 6 months give me the indication that he's FINALLY satrating to see how things work in Oshkosh. We've all heard about the garbage tax and the 11th hour excuses of why it had to be passed. But why did it take till June for them to bring the issue backto set the fee? Was it to give them the exuse that "It was to late in teh year to change it?" Was this the city staff's doing?Keep giving them hell Stewy!!!, but please get off the Northwestern "Joe Palaus" bashing bandwagon.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars

In recent weeks Oshkosh has been hit by a spate of vandalism - cowardly, senseless acts committed by people with too much time on their hands and no respect for their community or other people's private property.

The city's water park was one of the first to be vandalized. That was followed by vandalism at both Webster Stanley Middle School and Oshkosh North High School. If that weren't enough, South Park Middle School was targeted by vandals in the early morning hours yesterday (Thursday), while a few hours later someone slashed a number of tires on people's vehicles in the Elmwood Avenue area.

These crimes apparently were unrelated in that they were committed by different people, though one newspaper account said ther suspects might be part of a vandalism ring. But unrelated or not, Oshkosh Police deserve praise for their investigation, which has resulted in several arrests in the various cases. Some are juveniles, at least one is an adult.

Criminal charges have already been filed in some of the cases, with others still pending. Eventually each suspect will have his day in court. Feel free to share your thoughts with others on what you think the appropriate punishment for these perpetrators should be if they are found guilty.

[following are comments as they were posted to this story on an earlier version of Eye on Oshkosh]

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 19 2006 @ 01:11 PM MDT
What has been going on is terrible and shows we might need more for kids to do in Oshkosh. I think community service and restitutions should for sure be a part of their punishment. Maybe part of restitution would be writing letters of public apology to the school district and city. Other apologies should go to the people who had tires slashed. One thing I don't think should happen is the court go easy on them because they're young. The court could also sentence them to some time in jail so they could see how things are and as a part of that show them how the adult section of jail is compared to the juvenile facility. Scare the bejeezus out of them.

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:15 AM MDT
Juvenille jail is a joke,we need to bring back the old "chain gang" for these kids. Chain them together, have them walk around our city and county parks cleaning up all the cigarette butts, litter, bird droppings. Then take them to the morgue. Let them see what happens to an elderly person when their lights outside are vandalized and the elderly person falls down and breaks their neck. To the hospital to see young people that are on respirators, cause these punks thought it was funny to smash a persons solar street number signs so that it was easily read by emergency personell responding to assist on someone that has problems breathing. These are things that have happened to my home, while I was gone. Better yet, how about the 4 punks that thought they had the right to walk into my front porch at 1:30 in the morning, slamming the door and almost giving me a heart attack, and then these punks continued down the street smashing things, and destroying street baracades. I feel if you drink and act stupid, you belong in jail where you cant harm another human with your alcoholic stupidity.Not just a stupid fine. We need to start humiliating these punks so that they stop and think twice about vandalizing public places and hard working tax paying people's property. Chain them together for all to see.

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:45 AM MDT
These kids have enough to offer them. The north side kids have nothing available for them. The north side kids aren't the ones doing the damage. The West side kids are. The west side has pollack pool, skate park, movies, malls, stores to walk around in. The north side only has the boys and girls club and parks.Evidentually what the kids on the west side need, is parenting. What the hell are kids roaming the street after midnight, where are their parents....probably sitting in a bar drinking. Because of the way teens are raised, and my kids included, I chose to homeschool so they weren't exposed to all these trouble makers that have NO RESPECT for themselves much less than others in their community. Teaching a child RESPECT is the JOB OF THE PARENTS....NOT the community. My kids are in the house/yard by 10 on nonschool days, and 9 on schooldays. This is where the kids belong, not running the street. I know where my kids are at all times during the day. Hell, 99% of the time, the kids and their friends are at our house, cause my husband and I seem to care about them more. We sit together to eat at dinner. What is sad, three of their friends eat here everyday, cause we talk to them, we listen, we are the ones that are directing your kids not to have sex, not to drink, not to do drugs. These kids are NOT our children, they are yours. They want you, but you dont want them. All they are is a tax write off for you. I can't count how many kids we have turned their lives around cause they were heading down the wrong road. I don't have enough digits to keep count anymore. By the time my son started high school. I had lost count and that was 6 years ago. Today, I have over 100 kids that classify my husband and I as dad and mom. We are the ones that they still come to when they have a problem, and don't know how to handle it and we guide them. We are the ones that 5 girls came to cause they were pregnant and didn't know what to do, and were afraid to tell their parents for fear of abuse. We are the ones, that came and sat you down, while you had your beer or alcoholic drink in your hand, we told you your daughter was pregnant and needed to see a doctor. SO WAKE UP PARENTS.... START DOING YOUR JOB, AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN KIDS, GET TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE, WHAT THEY LIKE, LISTEN TO THEIR PROBLEMS...95% OF THE TIME IT IS EASY TO SOLVE, PUT THE ALCOHOL AWAY, AND DO STUFF WITH YOUR OWN KIDS. THEY JUST WANT TO BE DIRECTED IN A RESPECTED WAY, WITH NO CONDITIONS ON YOUR LOVE FOR THEM. LET THEM HEAR THAT YOU LOVE THEM......THEY WILL WANT TO BE HOME WITH YOU MORE IF YOU DO.

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 21 2006 @ 11:24 AM MDT
Hmmmm, Lets see, Menominee Park (zoo, beach, tennis courts, amusment park, boating, fishing, baseball/softball diamonds), There is a YMCA downtown, Library, Public museum, art center, expo center, etc.I guess that someone needs to crawl out from the rock and look. There are many FREE or inexpensive options for kids on the NORTH side. They just don't want to do it.PS Pollack park isn't all that close to the West side either. It is a pretty central location all things considered.

Acts of vandalism costing thousands of dollars
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 06:16 PM MDT
pollack pool is not centrally located, it is across from west high. the funny thing is, the kids that did the vandalism all live on the west side of the river.....NOT the north side. As to the vandalism done to our home, was done by ALL college kids, there weren't any minors involved. The 4 males that felt is was okay to walk into my home, were college kids.

Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance Report: Property Tax Increase Was Smallest in a Decade

[from Gov. Doyle's press office...]

A new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance shows the success of Governor Jim Doyle's property tax freeze, which he signed into law last year. According to the report, because of Governor Doyle's property tax limits, the increase in property tax collections was "the smallest in nearly a decade."
"This report confirms that the limits I signed into law delivered significant relief to Wisconsin families," Governor Doyle said. "We put tough limits on property taxes, while protecting our schools. Under my plan, the average homeowner saw only a small increase in their property tax bill, while many homeowners actually saw their bills go down."

According to WISTAX:

  • "This year's property taxes were the first to be levied under the regulations of the property tax 'freeze' signed into law in 2005. WISTAX researchers found the 'freeze' had a large impact on some local governments; total school district property taxes fell, and the increase in county levies was the smallest in 20 years."
  • Property tax rates declined significantly, from $19.64 in 2004-05 to $18.36 per $1,000 in property value in 2005-2006.
  • 55 percent of school districts decreased their levies, and the total amount of property tax collections by schools statewide also declined.
  • Despite an increase in property values of over 9 percent, property taxes increased by their smallest amount in a decade.

The property tax freeze law signed by Governor Doyle in July 2005 included tough limits on property taxes by local governments. Under the Governor's plan, the state once again met its commitment to fund two-thirds of the cost of education. Because the state was taking on a greater share of school funding, this helped relieve the burden on property taxpayers. The WISTAX report cites this as a major factor in limiting property tax increases.

"Property taxes are still too high in Wisconsin, but clearly we have made real progress," Governor Doyle said. "This report shows we are on the right track, and delivering real relief to hardworking, middle-class families in Wisconsin."

Under the property tax freeze signed by Governor Doyle, the average homeowner saw an increase of just $23 - compared to an average increase of $120 in the previous five years. Many homeowners actually saw their bills go down.

The Governor's property tax freeze remains in effect. Property taxes on the average home in Wisconsin are expected to not increase this December.

Read the WISTAX report here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ideas for the City Council

Contributed by: Anonymous
Cost saving Ideas: Ways for the city to save money and not implement more property taxes or user fees.
1) Consolidate or outsource city vehicle maintenance:OPD is already outsourcing maintenance of there squad cars. Why do we have duplicate vehicle maintenance staffs in the city garage, city forestry, fire department, transit department? They areas are ripe for outsourcing or consolidation.
2) Downsize the size of our city bus fleet:We have many very large sized busses. I assume these are mostly purchased for the once a year EAA convention. Most of even our small busses are never even close to full, so why do we have these huge size busses running around town, burning costly fuel, an almost completely void of passengers?
3) Outfit the garbage trucks with snow plow rigs: Most large cities use their garbage trucks for plowing duty. In Oshkosh we buy additional tandem axle dump trucks for this purpose. Drive by the City garage and see how many are parked in the lot not being used. We certainly could reduce our fleet of large tandem axle trucks if we put our garbage truck fleet into service helping to plow snow. The garbage men seem to work odd half day schedules anyhow. This would allow them to work more hours during snow falls in the winter.
4) Let’s look at outsourcing our entire City Forestry Department.This Department even has its own building. They are housed in a fairly large building on Witzel Street. I see lots of fairly expensive trucks, choppers, bucket trucks, skid loaders etc etc in this building when I pass by. What do these guys do in the winter? I’m thinking maybe a National concern like Aspundh would be able to provide a competitive bid: Taken from the Aspundh web page: Aspundh Municipal Tree Services -The removal of dead or dangerous trees along public thoroughfares is a priority for every community. Eliminating deadwood, keeping municipal utility lines clear of branches, and correctly pruning young trees is equally important in minimizing liability and maintaining a healthy, attractive urban forest. In order to achieve these goals, it takes knowledgeable tree care professionals with the necessary experience to complete the job safely and efficiently. Since time, labor, and equipment are costly, thorough training and competent supervision are musts. If an untrained crew causes a power outage, or damage to a person and property, your municipality may be liable. One call to the Asplundh Municipal Division can eliminate the costs and problems associated with purchasing and maintaining specialized equipment, providing technical and safety training for crew personnel. This can help minimize your liability for work-related injury or property damage. In addition, we can assist municipalities in:- developing tree maintenance programs and writing contract specifications - presenting workshops for both Asplundh and municipal crews on various industry-related topics - providing public relations support on tree related issues - acting as a resource of information on professional standards and industry trends As part of the world’s largest vegetation control company, we draw on more than a century of experience in urban tree maintenance. By using local workers under the direction of our experienced supervisors, and drawing on our extensive fleet of specialized equipment, it is our goal to provide public agencies with the most reliable, efficient, and professional service at the lowest price possible. For more information, please call 1-425-318-4177, extension 4384, or e-mail: Furthermore, it appears we have several classifications of employees related to forestry. Arborists, Urban Forest Technician, Horticulturist, Groundskeeper, etc. All these costly positions could possibly be eliminated by outsourcing the entire Forestry Department. I believe the elimination of this department would have little impact on taxpayers day-to-day lives.
5) The Oshkosh Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course was totally renovated in 2001. It may be time to investigate if maintaining this course is in the best interest of all taxpayers. Few municipalities maintain a city owned and operated golf course. Oshkosh and the surrounding area has many golfing opportunities that our municipal course competes with. The land alone could be sold for an extremely high value as it is waterfront property.
6) The most drastic savings will be achieved when a complete 3rd party audit is conducted of each city position and department. Undoubtedly, we have a huge corporation called City of Oshkosh government. The bureaucracy, duplication of services, conducting non-core competency services of such a large corporation is almost a given. These are the areas that need to be weeded out. When we take the time and effort to face the reality that we need to restructure our city staff and become far leaner in our hiring practices, we will then be truly serving the taxpayer. When posed with good cost savings ideas don't say "It can't be done"... Instead, figure a way to make it happen.

Ideas for the City Council
Authored by: mjs on Thursday, August 17 2006 @ 06:41 PM MDT
Great posting!Many of these suggestions seem to be valuable and certainly are worthy of careful considration and further evaluation. I hope the poster has passed these comments on to our city council members.I believe the city council is currently evaluating budget items for the coming year, so these suggestion are extremely timely. Keep the good ideas coming!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two councilors pushing for veto powers for mayor

The Oshkosh Northwestern is reporting that Oshkosh Common Council members Paul Esslinger and Dennis McHugh are planning to sponsor a resolution that will be on next week’s Common Council agenda, in which the council will be asked to approve and place on the fall ballot a referendum seeking approval from Oshkosh voters for a mayor with veto power. The story says that the two are proposing an elected mayor as we have now, but who would have veto power that could only be overruled by a vote of five-sevenths (the resolution actually reads two-thirds but it equates to the same thing) of the council.

There are already some concerns about this proposed resolution. My co-host Tony Palmeri has blogged about his concern that under the way this is being structured, a mayor could have multiple votes on any contentious issue. Common Councilor Bryan Bain has expressed the same concern and posed some additional questions on his own blog. While I share those same questions and concerns, I also wonder what councilors Esslinger and McHugh are hoping this will ultimately accomplish, particularly if many things remain the same with the council composition.

After all, they frequently are on the losing side of votes, often outvoted 5-2 or 6-1. It is doubtful there would be many vetoes if the council’s power structure remains as it is. If it shifts, however, and someone of the Esslinger/McHugh mindset is elected mayor, given the way the votes often come down on the council dais, it is easy to see a five-sevenths (two-thirds) override vote to a mayoral veto.

I also have to wonder why Dennis McHugh is behind such a movement. When Citizens for Responsible Government attempted a similar referendum two years ago, McHugh's attitude toward the effort was less than overwhelming; in fact, it was lackluster at best. Why the big change in his attitude now?

Some are questioning the timing of this resolution, with the bills for garbage and recycling out not even a week yet. Are they trying to further stir an already "angry mob," some are wondering. Some have also suggested to me that this is another pre-cursor to Esslinger seeking the position of mayor in 2007. That is certainly a possibility, but based on the things I’ve heard from people I don’t think such a referendum would pass AND Esslinger be elected mayor. At best it would be one or the other.

Those two things aside, I think we need to have answers to some of the more significant outstanding questions about this proposal, and we will get those answers and have several weeks of discussion should this resolution pass next week. But if history is an indication of how things will go, I don't see it as passing either.

I agree that we need a strong mayor in this city and one with veto power could be better than what we have right now, provided it’s done right. These councilors should be given credit for trying to bring about a change. But the absolute best situation we could have is a full-time elected mayor who is truly answerable and accountable to the voters.

I have nothing against Richard Wollangk as a human being, but I don’t think as a city manager who is hired by the Common Council, he exercises enough control over his staff, nor do I believe he holds them, nor himself, accountable for their actions. By the same token the council doesn't seem to really hold anyone at City Hall accountable either.

We hear about how professional management is good for the community. Yet, let’s look at what this professional management has gotten us in the couple of years, even the last few months:

  • The city was rushed by a million-dollar “gift” from the Leach family to construct an amphitheater bearing their name, complete with all kinds of ancillary projects that cost the taxpayers millions, yet we had no say in the matter;
  • A construction job was awarded at the Leach, though the bid process was waived by the Common Council;
  • Two years of city staff work was flushed down the drain on the Five Rivers pipedream. But our city manager was rarely front and center about this project in the press, and on various occasions actually told the press he didn’t know what was happening with it;
  • Due to a city attorney’s error in drafting the contract with PMI for management of the Leach Amphitheater, we are stuck with PMI for a year longer than we first thought, even though the manner in which they are promoting events (or not) and running things remains a hotbed of discussion and discontent. The Common Council should have read the contract they were approving however and must assume some responsibility;
  • Questions arose over the legal notice for the smoking ban referendum two years or so ago. The city eventually ended up in court, though the city clerk's office admitted and assumed full responsibility for the error.
  • A vote on a new nuisance ordinance had to be delayed after it was discovered that key language had been accidentally deleted from the revised ordinance presented to council members. This was likely a mistake on the part of our city attorney's office.
  • Land was recently approved for sale to a developer for $10,000 less than what the city manager told the council he believed it was being sold for. He also claimed the city assessor felt the selling price was in line with the going rate, but it clearly was 40-cents a square foot less than the city assessor’s records show property in that area selling for. The city manager also failed to tell the council that the money the city did get from the land sale would be going right back into remediation.
  • Residents have to purchase a permit for small inflatable plastic-type swimming pools so their toddlers can keep cool on those hot, balmy Wisconsin summer days;
  • Residents now have to pay to have certain items like furniture and appliances hauled away by the city. We also have to pay a fee to drop off brush at the city garage on Witzel Avenue. If that weren’t bad enough, new fees for garbage collection are instituted for the final quarter of 2006 and the city manager says services will be cut in 2007 if the fee is not continued. Meanwhile other fees are being suggested for such things as backyard fire pits.
  • Contract negotiations are approaching and it has yet to be seen how tough the city will be with Mr. Wollangk at the helm.

I’m sure I’ve missed some along the way but this is a pretty solid list of reasons why we need someone in a position where accountability to the people footing the bills takes precedence over loyalty to one’s staff. If we are going to make changes within the mayoral structure of the city, let’s make the mayoral position one of a full-time elected status. If we’re not going to do that, then let’s at least make the mayoral position non-voting unless s/he is breaking a tie or vetoing something.

- Cheryl

P.S. You can read the proposed resolution by going here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Department of Transportation rolls out Wisconsin Street bridge construction web site

Construction of a new Wisconsin Street bridge in Oshkosh gets underway this fall, but even before that happens – and continuing throughout the entire two-year project - people will be able to watch it unfold from the comfort of their home or office.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has launched a web site which profiles the project, including maps and renderings of the planned bridge. A project schedule will be included and once constructions gets underway, progress reports and photographs will be added.

The new bridge will be constructed approximately 85 feet to the north of the current bridge, which will remain open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during most phases of the construction. The project includes bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and lighted underpasses for people to be able to safely use the trails adjacent to the bridge. The bridge’s connections to both Wisconsin Street and Witzel Avenue will also be rebuilt during this time, making them safer. Many people have complained about the unsafe design of the connection to Witzel as people come off on the south end of the bridge and can either turn onto Witzel or continue down Ohio. The DOT previously told "Eye on Oshkosh" that that design would be corrected and, as a result, made safer when the bridge and its connections are redone. Once the new bridge is completed, the old one will be removed.

Check out the DOT's new site for this construction project at

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is PMI doing the job?

Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 09:26 AM MDT
Contributed by: Jim B.

I have to say that after supporting the decision to utilize PMI's resources for the Leach Ampitheater, I am a little disappointed in the first full year calendar of events. They have brought very little to the table this Summer, and if it wasnt for WaterFest, I am not sure how much action the Leach would have seen.

I am also very disappointed in the marketing of events. I saw an article about the Lyle Lovett show that PMI was disappointed in the turnout(approx. 1,000) so this type of act obviously doesnt work. I am not sure how you can gauge the success of an act when you do virtually nothing to promote it in the media or otherwise. Lyle Lovett is a great entertainer that puts on an award winning performance. Granted, he is not mainstream, but other than the Northwestern I heard or saw no other mention of his show (except

I talked to many people in the Appleton area that would have gone if they had known about it! I also wonder about the ticket prices. Although I was willing to spend the $62 per ticket for up front seat because I am a big fan, I wonder if that doesnt scare some people away that are not as familiar with an act. Granted they had cheaper seats, but I think people tend to focus on the larger sum rather than the lawn seat pricing. If tickets are that much for Lyle Lovett, what will they be for a more popular rock band or country band?

I am unimpressed with the number of acts they actually booked for the Summer. Are they the best fit for the Leach? In the Northwestern article the PMI spokesman seemed proud of the fact that they would make the $30,000 payment this year. I was certainly hoping for more than that! With our proximity to Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis you can't tell me some acts wouldn't be interested in stopping along the way on an off night to play another gig.

Very Disappointed,
Jim B.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Vacation Days

Contributed by: Anonymous
Take a look at the minimum number of employer paid vacation days required and the average taken in other countries, then compare to the U.S.
Country: France
Minimum Days Required: 25
Average Vacation Days Taken: 25-30
Country: Spain
Minimum Days Required: 25
Average Vacation Days Taken: 30
Country: Sweden
Minimum Days Required: 25
Average Vacation Days Taken: 25-35
Country: Germany
Minimum Days Required: 24
Average Vacation Days Taken: 30
Country: Australia
Minimum Days Required: 20
Average Vacation Days Taken: 25
Country: Italy
Minimum Days Required: 20
Average Vacation Days Taken: 30
Country: Britain
Minimum Days Required: 20
Average Vacation Days Taken: 25
Country: China
Minimum Days Required: 15
Average Vacation Days Taken: 15
Country: Japan
Minimum Days Required: 10
Average Vacation Days Taken: 17.5
Country: United States
Minimum Days Required: 0
Average Vacation Days Taken: 10.2
**paid leave after 3 years

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Vacation Days
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 07 2006 @ 08:32 PM MDT
Figures...CEO's of corporations and of course our President "W" take tons of time off. But what does the average working man in America get...SQUAT when it comes to recreation and leisure time off PAID BY THE COMPANY.The European countries treat their working people right. Good time off and complete healthcare coverage in return for a hard days work.Whens the next jet to Italy, Sweden or Australia? Can't go to France, they don't like us there!

Vacation Days
Authored by: admin on Monday, August 07 2006 @ 11:17 PM MDT
I assume the original comment was in response to a recent article in the Oshkosh Northwestern and discussion that has been going on among some citizens off and on for about a year or so about salaries and benefits paid to city and county workers?
- Cheryl

Vacation Days
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 08:04 AM MDT
Cheryl,Where do you stand on the Oshkosh City employees wage and benefit issue?An interested observer.

Vacation Days
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 08:34 AM MDT
It seems to me the small employee contributions toward benefits are out of line, as are perhaps wages for some of the positions, but certainly not all. I appreciate your curiosity in my position on this issue, but I think more appropriate people to ask about this situation are those who make the decisions: our city administration and, utimately, the city council. Have you spoken with them to find out their stance and, if so, what have you been told?
- Cheryl

Vacation Days
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 09:04 AM MDT
Yes I have. Unfortunately it appears most council members are as uninformed as I am regarding the "Binding Arbitration" laws. When I push them for their position, I feel most feel the way you do, but quickly toss their hands in the air and are willing to defer to the arbitration laws. I feel we may have some inept city negotiators that are not fighting for the best interests of the average tax payer. The council just rubber stamps the process and the result is nothing changes in the favor of the Oshkosh resident.

Vacation Days
Authored by: DRR on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 09:15 AM MDT
We need to concentrate on the benefits city employees receive. They are out of line with the private sector. I am far less concerned with the wages they receive. A few seem to be out of line. Brace yourself for a whole new line of fees if the garbage tax is voted down.

Vacation Days
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 09:31 AM MDT
On THAT particular point (about the new fees if the garbage fee is prohibited in the coming year), I couldn't agree more. We're already seeing what city hall and some of its administration/department heads are proposing. There will be no end in sight to the new fees that will be created. While I do not like the idea of a garbage fee, I think Miles Maguire at Oshkosh said it best when he said it shouldn't be an "all or nothing" referendum. We need to put a lot of the blame for these problems on our legislators in Madison. This is more their doing than anyone else's. Second, we need to bring some of these benefits public sector employees receive more in line with the private sector. Finally, we need to recognize that communities are caught between a rock and a hard place in many respects because of the levy freeze. So if we have to pay more for something along the way, I'd rather see my taxes increase a little than more fees. At least on the property tax bill, the taxes are deductible on our income tax returns. Not so with the fees. That's an even greater slap in the face of taxpayers. 'Course the taxes can only go up so much in the face of the levy freeze. Ain't Madison grand?
- Cheryl

Vacation Days
Authored by: NewVoice on Thursday, August 10 2006 @ 04:59 PM MDT
What do you mean by out of line? That benefits are too high or too low compared to the private sector?

Vacation Days
Authored by: Kent Monte on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 11:28 AM MDT
This was posted on my site last night and I took some time to do some background on wages in the UK. They make quite a bit less than here in the US.
My source is which links to
Welder-UK $22,429 US $44,725
Mechanic-UK $22,716 US $51,108
Bus Driver-UK $18,974 US $37,544
That is 3 of the jobs that were compared earlier. As you can see, Americans make DOUBLE what Europeans make. I did convert to dollars for those that are wondering.I didn't have a whole lot of time to spend on this so I would welcome someone else to dig some and see what they come up with.
K. Monte

Vacation Days
Authored by: DBCooper on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 08:48 PM MDT
If I go to, then "Check my pay now", then "metal and electric trades", then "welding trades", it tells me that "the gross earnings for people doing the same job as 'welder' are on average = 17447.20". That, of course is in "pounds" as paywizard is a GB site.The conversion factor today is 1 great britain pound = 1.89885 united states dollars.Therefore, 17447.20 * 1.89885 = 33129.31 us dollars.How did you arrive at $22429?When I look up the position of welder in the US, (using $44240 is the number that I found, it is for welders in the top 10% of the pay range. The "mean" is considerably less, $33650. I don't think $44240 is typical for the Fox Valley, I think it's closer to the mean.What they call gross wages in GB and what we call gross wages in the US appear to be 2 different things. In the US, gross wages is what you get paid. Net wage is what's left that you put in the bank, we all know that.At the bottom of the information on is a disclaimer that says"We assume that a full-time standard working week is 40 hours. The outcome does not include:"* Holiday pay* Bonuses, commission, tips* Pension contributions* Tax or national insuranceThat statement is only found on the GB site, not on the US site.Does outcome mean the same as gross??? That's how I'm interpretting it.If their (gb) wage information does not include holiday pay, taxes, etc, then we can't really use this as a basis for comparison unless we know what those numbers are.

Does anybody want to guess why they changed their definition of "gross pay" to not include taxes? Might be it was too distressing to see how much was actually being paid in taxes???

Vacation Days
Authored by: Kent Monte on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 09:11 PM MDT
Actually I googled a conversion for the currency. I have no idea what the current exchange is. I relied on that site to be accurate in this case. I was not looking to exchange my own money and didn't have a lot of time on my lunch hour to spend looking at which site I was on or how accurate the current exchange rate was.The salary comparison is from and using 54904, Oshkosh as the location. That is the numbers that they gave me. I have no reason to doubt it.Either way, the claim on my post from anonymous stated that Europeans make less money but get more vacation. Even using your numbers, that is true. It just narrowed the gap.Does it really matter? We need to stay on course and ensure that our council and staff go into these negotiations with one thing in mind, The union MUST be willing to bend on something. The city cannot afford to continue filling their pockets with cash and benefits that nobody in this region can come close to matching.
K. Monte

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Where in the world is Julie Pung Leschke, and why is she being so silent?

This morning the Oshkosh Northwestern published a story about Republican candidate for the 54th Asembly District, Julie Pung Leschke’s silence on the issues in this campaign. Leschke and her Republican opponent Larry Didlo will square off in a Sept. 12 primary; the winner will then go on to face Democrat Gordon Hintz in the Nov. 7 general election.

Indeed, so far during this campaign, Leschke has been pretty silent on the issues – the most recent incident being her non-response to a questionnaire sponsored by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Common Cause in Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund. According to Leschke’s own web site – which contains no positions on any issues either and hasn’t even been updated since it was first rolled out months ago – she is a member of the League of Women Voters. Yet she, like Didlo, failed to reply to the group’s questionnaire. To the best of my knowledge, she has participated in only one forum to date, sponsored by the Winnebago County Labor Council, and she participated in a 30-minute cable access program called “Meet the 54th District Candidates” which begins airing this coming Monday.

In May she was invited to appear on “Eye on Oshkosh.” She was told that because the campaign season was going to be heavy, especially with state offices also being up for grabs and because we were hoping to get some of those candidates on also, the scheduling was going to get tricky. Even though we may not have taped anything with her at that early of a date, we at least wanted to get a show with her booked, especially given the fact that she is running in a primary. But she said she didn’t want to come on until later. I took that to mean she didn’t want to appear until after the primary. And that is what will happen, if she appears at all, because now all the slots before the primary are booked. Hintz, who has been extremely active and responsive to surveys and requests for appearances, has already been on “Eye on Oshkosh” and Didlo is scheduled to appear on an upcoming episode.

As for the League's questionnaire, candidates had approximately two weeks to respond to the seven questions - six of which only asked for "yes" or "no" answers and the seventh which asked for a short essay. In the Oshkosh Northwestern article, Leschke cited her reason for not responding as being that she is a first-time candidate swamped with surveys and who has been busy knocking on doors. Is that to suggest that other candidates' time is not as valuable as hers or that other candidates are less busy than she? Is it to suggest that we're not important enough for her to find time to answer questions about issues important to us? What really does it mean? I think we can all see how it looks. Even some of those whose doors she has knocked on have told us she was not real clear in stating her position on issues to them either. So what gives?

It seems that when a candidate enters a race they ought to know where they stand on the issues – at least most of them – and be prepared to share those positions with the people they want to represent. Leschke entered this race six or seven months ago and, to date, voters still do not really know where she stands. Her silence is, frankly, inexplicable and unacceptable, especially with a primary election coming up in just one month. Leschke needs to show that she is ready, willing and able to discuss the issues facing not only our district, but our state as a whole. The fact that she hasn’t done much so far makes one wonder just how seriously she is taking this race and how badly she wants to represent the people of the 54th Assembly District. How can we be expected to vote for someone if we don’t know where she stands on issues that affect us?

It’s time for Julie Pung Leschke to either step up or step aside.

- Cheryl

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

League of Women Voters' Guide

With the election season getting ready to heat up for the Fall, this message from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is certainly timely.

Dear League Members,

The Voter Guide is now online! It is easily accessible through our website at Voters Guide.

The League collaborated with Common Cause in Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign to ask candidates for state office six questions on campaign finance, ethics and other reforms. Candidates to the United States Congress also received questionnaires on a broader range of issues.

Democratic Governor Jim Doyle returned the survey and answered yes to all six questions, as did Nelson Eisman the Wisconsin Green Party candidate for Governor. Their Republican challenger, Green Bay Congressman Mark Green, did not respond and did not go on the record on these issues.

Three of the four candidates for Attorney General responded – incumbent Democrat Peg Lautenschlager, her Democratic Primary challenger, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Republican JB Van Hollen, a former U.S. Attorney. Republican Paul Bucher, the Waukesha County District Attorney, didn't respond to the questionnaire.

Over half of state legislative candidates did not take a public stand on reform issues. Of the 36 candidates for state senate, 16 answered the questionnaire and one other replied but refused to answer. Nineteen did not reply at all.

Of the 206 candidates for state assembly, 134 did not reply to the survey. Sixty-seven answered the questions, while five refused to answer.

Among legislative leaders, both Senate Republican Leader Dale Schultz and Senate President Alan Lasee responded. Senate Democratic Leader Judy Robson, Assistant Senate Republican Leader Neil Kedzie and Assembly Republican Leader Mike Huebsch did not respond and Assembly Democratic Leader Jim Kreuser replied that it is his policy not to answer such questionnaires.

Take a look at what your candidates had to say and let them know what you think about the issues.