Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gov. Doyle calls for Wisconsin to lead on health care, education

In his fifth State of the State Address, Governor Jim Doyle called for bold efforts to make Wisconsin America's health care leader, invest in education, and put the state on a permanent path of fiscal responsibility. In particular, Governor Doyle unveiled a plan to ensure that 98 percent of Wisconsin's citizens have access to health coverage - the highest percentage in the nation.

"In 2007, Wisconsin is a place where anything is possible," Governor Doyle said in his address. "There's one challenge we have to address head-on: the middle class squeeze. From filling up the tank to paying the health care premium, it's still too hard for many families to make ends meet. Wisconsin must remain the state of opportunity for all. We must fight to ensure that middle class families thrive."

Making Wisconsin America's Health Care Leader

In his address, Governor Doyle outlined a plan to expand health care coverage, reduce cost, and reduce medical errors. The Governor's initiative would ensure that virtually all Wisconsin citizens would have access to affordable health coverage.

"The simple truth is, the time has come for the wealthiest nation in the world to provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance for its citizens - and Wisconsin can lead the way," Governor Doyle said.

Governor Doyle's plan includes:

* Offering health coverage to every child in Wisconsin. Low-income families would simply enroll their children into BadgerCare Plus, while families at higher incomes would be able to buy into the program, starting at about $10 a month.
*Expanding coverage to adults making up to 200 percent of the poverty level, whether they have children or not. This would help 71,000 hardworking men and women get the health care they need.
*Creating a purchasing pool to help businesses - particularly small businesses - afford catastrophic health coverage for employees.
*Investing $30 million to help doctors and hospitals use technology to eliminate costly medical errors.

After these proposals are implemented, 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens will be covered with affordable comprehensive care. Many of the citizens remaining without coverage include young adults who decide not to buy insurance even though they can afford it.

The federal government will cover most of the costs - bringing an additional $60 million from Washington. The state's share will be covered in the Governor's upcoming budget, including money saved by streamlining the program and taking greater advantage of managed care.

Fighting Tobacco
Building on his health care effort, Governor Doyle presented his anti-smoking initiative to increase Wisconsin's tobacco tax by $1.25 a pack, triple funding for smoking prevention programs in the state, and make all public buildings and workplaces completely smoke-free.

"I've devoted much of my public career to this fight," said Governor Doyle. "Despite our progress, too many of our kids are still lighting up, too many lives are being cut short, and the cost has swelled into the billions. We know that smoking is an addiction. We know how hard it is to quit. And that's why we are launching a major new initiative to help Wisconsin citizens quit smoking and live healthier."
Investing in Education

Governor Doyle's address highlighted the Wisconsin Covenant. Under the Wisconsin Covenant, eighth graders will be given the opportunity to sign an agreement to stay in school, be a good citizen, and maintain a B average. In return, the state will guarantee them a spot in higher education and a financial package to pay for it.

In his budget, the Governor will provide funding for the Office of the Wisconsin Covenant and a major increase in financial aid.

"I don't want any high school kid to think college isn't for them, or that it's only for rich people," Governor Doyle said. "I want every boy and girl to know ... with the Wisconsin Covenant, college is within your grasp, just reach for it."

Governor Doyle also:

* Called for a mandatory third year of math and science for high school graduation.
* Announced he will triple funding to give kids access to the school breakfast program. Right now, Wisconsin ranks 50th in school breakfast participation.
* Urged the Legislature to approve a major investment to reduce class sizes from kindergarten to grade three.

"Smaller classes, higher standards, good nutrition, a strong start in life, and a ticket to college for every kid willing to work for it," Governor Doyle said. "That's our education agenda, an agenda of opportunity."

Investing in the University of Wisconsin System
Governor Doyle also announced an investment in the University of Wisconsin System to increase the number of college graduates in Wisconsin and produce the kind of educated workers the state needs to grow.

"Tonight, I propose a new investment in the University to produce more college graduates, more engineers, scientists, and nurses," Governor Doyle said. "This will be a major undertaking for the University and for the state, but the benefits will be wide and far reaching."

Governor Doyle's investment will include:

* Increased enrollment at UW campuses to bring college within reach for more Wisconsin students.
* Enhanced degree programs at UW campuses, including a new Health Sciences major at UW-Stevens Point, new opportunities for technical college students at UW-Oshkosh, improved services for adult students at UW-Green Bay, strengthened student retention at UW-River Falls, and expanded liberal arts programs at UW-Superior.
* Partnering with UW-Platteville to expand opportunities at UW colleges, including a new mechanical engineering degree at UW-Fox Valley, and an electrical engineering degree at Rock County.
* Funding for an innovative partnership among UW-Eau Claire, Stout, and the Chippewa Valley Technical College to produce more graduates in advanced disciplines like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and polymer engineering.
* Breaking ground on the Institutes for Discovery - where UW-Madison will help create thousands of new jobs, and unlock cures to deadly diseases through biomedical and stem cell research - with no ideological strings attached.

Creating and Preparing for the Jobs of the Future
To meet the challenges of a changing economy, Governor Doyle announced a major new investment to build a faster, more flexible worker training program, ensuring Wisconsin's success in the global economy.

"With investments in workers, a strong commitment to manufacturing, and by unleashing a new generation of entrepreneurs, we can win the global competition," Governor Doyle said. "Let's seize this opportunity, and put Wisconsin to work."

In the next decade, Wisconsin will need more welders, nurses, engineers, machinists, and skilled manufacturing workers. To address this, Governor Doyle proposed increasing our efforts from $2 million to $8 million in the next budget - to help Wisconsin's technical colleges train an additional 36,000 workers.

He will also ask the Legislature to double funding for the highly successful Youth Apprenticeship Program to get our kids ready for the world of work.

Governor Doyle also proposed a new Wisconsin Venture Center, to help connect Wisconsin's entrepreneurs and innovators with investors around the world.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
Governor Doyle announced a budget proposal to streamline services for children and families to ensure that all Wisconsin children grow up safe, healthy, and with the support of strong families. The Governor's proposal will merge child welfare, child support, child care services and the W-2 program into a single, unified agency - the Department of Children and Families.

"Right now, Wisconsin has a cabinet level department devoted to prisoners, but not one devoted to children and their families," Governor Doyle said. "With this initiative, we'll make sure that bureaucracy never gets in the way of doing what's right for our kids."

The new Department of Children and Families will unify services currently divided between the Department of Health and Family Services and the Department of Workforce Development. The merger will improve coordination of these services, reduce duplication, and build further accountability in government for the welfare of children and families.

Growing Milwaukee
In his address, Governor Doyle announced that next week he will join with leaders of Milwaukee to announce a comprehensive strategy to help the Milwaukee metro area succeed and thrive.

"Whether you live in Milwaukee or Marinette, the future of our state's largest metropolitan area affects you," Governor Doyle said. "For Wisconsin to thrive, we need a strong and growing Milwaukee. It is a great and vital city - our center of culture and commerce, the hub of our economy. Yet Milwaukee also faces unique challenges. Unless our entire state joins together to help meet those challenges, our entire state will suffer."

Protecting Our Environment and Achieving Energy Independence
As part of a broad effort to make Wisconsin the nation's leader in energy independence and create thousands of jobs in our state, Governor Doyle proposed the next major step forward for energy independence by dedicating $40 million in his budget proposal for renewable energy like solar, wind, hydrogen, biodiesel and ethanol. Governor Doyle has set a goal for this state to generate 25 percent of its power and transportation fuels from renewable sources by 2025.

Governor Doyle also highlighted the consequences of global warming as an opportunity for Wisconsin to lead the country to finding solutions.

"There is no question that global warming demands immediate action by the federal government," Governor Doyle said. "It is a disgrace that so many national leaders have turned a blind eye to what is a scientific fact. Yet the scope and consequences of this problem are so massive that the responsibility for action rests not only with our leaders in Washington, but with all of us."

The Governor announced he will appoint the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming, comprising businesses, industry, environmental organizations, local governments, and private citizens. This new effort will be charged with developing a state plan of action to explore state and local solutions to global warming.

Since the creation of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, Wisconsin has preserved over a million acres of beautiful lands for future generations to enjoy, 160,000 of which were protected under Governor Doyle's administration. In his address, Governor Doyle urged the Legislature to reaffirm the decades of bipartisan support for the Stewardship project by reauthorizing the program.

Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform
Governor Doyle praised Republicans and Democrats for working together to pass sweeping ethics reform - the first in 30 years - to create a strong Government Accountability Board that will have the power to enforce laws, investigate and bring prosecutions against those who violate the public trust.

"This was a model for what can happen when people in both parties set aside differences and do what's right. But we shouldn't stop there," Governor Doyle said.

Governor Doyle called on the leaders of both parties to help clean up Wisconsin's airwaves and bring an end to phony issue ads. The Governor proposed requiring any group running an ad mentioning a candidate within two months of an election to disclose their donors, and abide by contribution limits. These groups would no longer be able to take corporate contributions that would otherwise be illegal.

Governor Doyle also announced that he has asked Speaker Mike Huebsch and Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson to work with him to forge an agreement on a strong, comprehensive campaign finance bill that can win the support of both parties.

To view Governor Doyle's 2007 State of the State Address, visit:

Monday, January 29, 2007

School board considers student registration fees

After being given the impression early on that proposed student fees in the Oshkosh Area School District were to replace the former textbook fee, we now learn - according to this article in the Oshkosh Northwestern - that the fees are indeed student registration fees, and are expected to generate more money than the textbook fees did when they were in place a few years ago.

The textbook fees - in place during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years - generated $98,330 and $90,949 respectively in additional revenue for the district. If approved, the student registration fee is expected to bring the district approximately $160,000 in additional revenue in the first year alone - the 2007-08 school year.

Many districts in recent years have gone the route of such fees and when compared with them, Oshkosh's proposed fees - $20 for elementary students, $25 for middle school and $30 for high school - fall somewhere in the middle, with some districts charging more, others less. Exceptions would be made, the district says, for students who receive free or reduced lunch; and a family cap of $75 per school year would be set.

But the question on the lips of many in the community is should the district be charging registration fees at all or is being enrolled in a public school district one of the things that should be automatically afforded to students through our tax dollars?

It's a debate that could go on forever, and probably will - among voters and citizens, that is - but the school district's board of education will likely be voting on the issue at its meeting on Feb. 14.

In the meantime, I suppose the argument will continue to be made, that these fees "replace" the textbook fee since the textbook fee is no longer in place. But a fee is a fee no matter how you slice it. I think most of us understand fees in one form or another are here to stay at all levels of government, whether we approve of them or not. But it would be more sincere to call it what it is and not use semantics to try changing its face. An enrollment fee is just that - an enrollment fee.

(How do you feel about the proposed fee? Vote in our online poll.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Candidates Forum scheduled, other venues also available

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the Oshkosh Area League of Women Voters will host a candidates forum for those running for Oshkosh Common Council and Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education in next month’s primary election. For those who wish to attend in person, the forum will be held on the fourth floor in room 404, adjoining the City Council Chambers.

The five candidates for school board – Dan Becker, Karen Bowen, John Daggett, Michelle Monte and Teresa Thiel – will make statements and field questions from the designated panel and the audience between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The seven candidates for Common Council – Bryan Bain, Bob Cornell, Jessica King, Kent Monte, Mark Nielsen, Tony Palmeri and Meredith Scheuermann – will have their question and answer session from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

If you cannot attend in person, the forum will air live on CitiCable Channel 10 and be simulcast on community radio station WOCT 101.9 FM. There will also be a number of replays between now and the primary election on Tuesday, Feb. 20. You can visit OCAT’s web site at for replay times.

The Oshkosh Northwestern will do its usual question and answer with the candidates and Eye on Oshkosh has been and will continue to conduct and air interviews with the various candidates during campaign season, as well. Some of the candidates also have web sites or blogs where you can find out more information about them and their positions. Hopefully between these venues, and whatever else may be offered between now and the election, voters will have enough information to make informed decisions about who they want representing them in office for the next few years (common council terms are two years each and school board members serve for three years).

In the primary election, one person from each slate of candidates will be eliminated and the remaining candidates will advance to the general election, scheduled for Tuesday, April 3.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A response and some questions of my own

Early yesterday a friend sent me a copy of something Kent Monte posted on the Internet in which he questioned the motives of Common Council member Meredith Scheuermann’s recent call for an executive session of the council. As part of his innuendo-laden commentary Mr. Monte "asked questions" - but in his usual "shoot first, ask questions later" style - about a “meeting” between Mrs. Scheuermann, former mayor Jon Dell’Antonia and me at Kodiak Jacks last month. I debated for some time about whether to even respond to his comments, primarily because they usually speak for themselves. But since he is running for office and wants people to believe he is a level-headed candidate who practices common-sense, responsibility and leadership, I decided a response was in order.

I’m amused that Mr. Monte should speculate about others’ motives and activities – playing fast and loose with innuendo, gossip and rumor - yet he has the nerve to chastise others when they do the same. In the past this so-called “model” of public stature and integrity has told people that if they want answers to questions, they should go directly to the source. Yet here he is questioning Mrs. Scheuermann’s actions as an elected member of the Oshkosh Common Council, and gossiping about and casting aspersions on some people Mrs. Scheuermann invited out for some holiday cheer in between Christmas and New Year’s (that's right - it was purely social. There certainly was no official city business being conducted and no campaign business was discussed. I'm not even associated with her campaign committee. It should also be pointed out that there were two tables full of people that Mrs. Scheuermann invited out; but I guess that slipped past the ever-watchful eagle eye of Mr. Monte or his “man about town”). Leave it to Kent Monte to try making something out of nothing. Perhaps if he worked as hard at grasping at straws as he does questioning others' character or motives, he might be able to put the broom together.

I believe this, along with some of his other recent stunts, call his worthiness as a candidate into question. I question the leadership ability of any candidate who goes off half-cocked as much as Mr. Monte seems to. His actions show he not only seizes, but seems to relish, opportunities to spread gossip and innuendo about situations for which he doesn’t have all the facts. Nor does he seem particularly interested in always getting them. It looks to me like he goes directly to the source if he thinks it will benefit him politically. But if he thinks he can benefit politically from "speculating" about something or someone publicly and, in doing so, raise even just one eyebrow in the community, it seems he will do that, too. That he has to “speculate” about so many things shows he’s not nearly as much in the know as he fashions himself to be. Or maybe they're the deliberate actions of a not-so-slick politician. At any rate, when Mr. Monte’s own actions rise above the intense public scrutiny they seem to be under, perhaps then he can question those of others. Until then, he would appear smarter and less like a loose cannon if he took a more mature, less accusatory approach to things in a public venue, especially those about which he has such limited knowledge.

Finally, a note from the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” department: Mr. Monte has questioned other people’s motives and suggests they’re doing things for political gain. Might that be the very reason why after months and months of complaining about and criticizing the Oshkosh Police Department’s policies, procedures and activities he suddenly is now singing the department’s praises? Political favor may or may not be his intent – I don’t know, nor do I care. But we voters should care about someone who either didn’t bother to do enough homework about the department before attacking it and its personnel, or who is now changing his tune because an election is but a few weeks away. Whatever the case, I doubt his “Johnny Come Lately,” “suck up to the guys and gals in blue” routine is going to garner him any more votes from those working in the OPD than he had before.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Doyle moves to ban smoking in all public places

If Gov. Jim Doyle has his way, the State of Wisconsin will soon be moving one step closer to banning smoking statewide in all public places, including bars, restaurants and workplaces. More about his plan can be read in this article. What are your thoughts on such a ban? Sound off by commenting or by voting in our online poll.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Non-violent Peaceforce

[we have received the following information and are pleased to post it here for our readers...]

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Earth Charter, Fox Valley Pax Cristi, the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation invite you to hear Erika Shatz speak about the Nonviolent Peaceforce Thursday morning February 1, 7:30- 9 a.m. Pollock House, 765 Algoma Boulevard across from Albee Hall, UWO campus. A continental breakfast will be provided. Parking is available in metered spaces across from Reeve Memorial Union on Algoma Street. For information, contact Ann Frisch at or 920-279-7884.

Nonviolent Peaceforce is a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of trained civilians from around the world. In partnership with local groups, Nonviolent Peaceforce members apply proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. NP has been successful in Sri Lanka in helping parents recover children who have been abducted into guerrilla armies, has reduced violence in elections through the use of election monitors who protect candidates with cameras, has helped to resolve local issues such as tension between fishing communities, and routinely accompany local clergy and other peace activists who are mediating conflicts. NP also currently is preparing deployments in northern Uganda, the Philippines, and Colombia, and is creating an international reserve force. Both the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Cristi are member organizations of Nonviolent Peaceforce.

Winnebago Peace and Justice Center
321 Market Street
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Message from Teresa Thiel, candidate for school board with Oshkosh Area School District

I've started a blog so people can contact me to ask questions about where I stand on issues related to the school board, to let me know there concerns regarding the school district and as a forum for discussion of school board issues. I've named it "It's About Oshkosh Students" because that is what I believe should be the primary concern of a school board member -- what is best for the students! Check it out and post your questions, comments or concerns. Thank you.

Teresa Thiel

What lies ahead in ethics reform

In a vote of 10-0, the Wisconsin State Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules voted yesterday to block a rule that might have forced lawmakers to forfeit some campaign contributions. A report on the committee's action can be found here.

Meanwhile, the current Wisconsin Ethics and Elections boards could be revived if an element of a sweeping system under consideration were to be struck down in court. Read more about what the state legislature is currently considering and why a key author of the legislation believes those boards would be revived by going here. And on a related note, here is where you can read what our new attorney general has to say about it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Leasing roadways to generate capital; what a concept

It’s no surprise that not only are local municipalities and school districts in financial straits, but state governments are as well. Everyone seems to have their ideas on what can and can’t be done to save a buck here and there. We’ve not heard a lot of “out-of-the-box” ideas, though. Steve Dedow offered some when he ran for the 53rd state assembly district a few years ago. But rare is the candidate for office or already seated legislator who is able to offer such concepts.

We’ve heard about, and more and more governing bodies are turning to, naming rights in order to save money or generate new dollars. In many cases, like ball diamonds and stadiums, those are nothing more than leasing rights, if you will. Well, here’s a story about some pretty large-scale leasing rights, and definitely, some “out-of-the-box” thinking. And it’s not only proving to be a money-maker for some states, it’s an idea that is gaining some momentum. I wonder if we’ll ever see it here.

The fine art of reading a newspaper

If you’re reading this article right now, I suspect chances are good you also visit one or more newspapers online. Do you read the whole thing online or just certain news items that catch your interest? If you’re like me, and I suspect many other online readers, you check out headlines and breaking news, and maybe even read through the stories listed in the main news section each day.

But I hope you also give yourself the pleasure of actually reading the hard copy version of at least one newspaper, even if just one or two times a week. There’s nothing quite like laying in bed on a rainy or snowy Sunday morning reading through the local newspaper; or savoring that first cup of morning coffee with the just-delivered newspaper.

This opinion piece from throws out several more reasons why reading a paper you can hold in your hands is a good – even “hip” thing to do (but, sadly, also a dying art and one that so many from today’s generation will never have even had the pleasure of knowing).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Citizens in Outagamie County move to reduce county board size

According to this article from Gannett News Service there is an effort being made in Outagamie County to cut the size of its county board by half – from 36 to 18 members.

A political action committee known as Citizens for Responsible Government-Fox Valley is collecting signatures to put the issue on the April 3 ballot as a referendum question. To do so they must secure 6,453 valid signatures by Feb. 20. If they miss that deadline they still have 60 days in which to finish gathering the signatures, but the question would not make it on the ballot until April 2008, according to the article.

Fond du Lac voters have already successfully reduced the size of their county board and the issue had gotten messy and is currently tied up in litigation here in Winnebago County. It will be interesting to watch how the county board members in Outagamie County handle the citizen group’s efforts. Will supervisors allow the group to gather signatures and put the item on the ballot? Or will they play dirty pool and do an end-run around citizens as our county board did here in Winnebago County? We’ll find out soon enough.

Legislature holds special session on bipartisan ethics reform

Yesterday Governor Jim Doyle called for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to convene today, January 11, 2007 at 10 a.m., the purpose of which was to take action on major, bipartisan ethics reform. According to a press release florm his office, "the sweeping measure will create an independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Board with funding and independent authority to investigate and seek prosecution." The Legislature will proceed with public hearings and final passage of the bill is expected in the coming weeks.

"One of my first orders of business after the election was to work with Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on far-reaching ethics reform," Governor Doyle said in his release. "Now I'm calling a Special Session of the Legislature to move forward on this bipartisan package, which will put real teeth behind our laws, and reaffirm public confidence in government."

Under this:
* The State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board will be merged to create an independent non-partisan Government Accountability Board, free from political appointees. Instead of the members being selected by politicians and political parties, a panel of Court of Appeals judges will select a pool of retired judges. The Governor will make appointments from that list and be confirmed by the Legislature;

* The Board will be given the necessary resources to conduct any investigations it authorizes. The board will not need approval from the Legislature or the Governor to proceed with any investigation it authorizes;

* The Board will have the authority to investigate criminal and civil matters. The board will be able to prosecute a civil matter itself while criminal matters it investigates can be referred for prosecution;

* The Board will be empowered to review existing Ethics and Election Board rulings and opinions in order to provide clear, consistent guidelines. The Board's mandate will be to ensure the effectiveness and independence of our ethics rules and election practices;

* The Board will oversee both a Division of Ethics and Integrity and a Division of Elections, with campaign finance matters now being handled by the Division of Ethics and Integrity. The staff of the Division of Elections will now be able to focus exclusively on managing, monitoring and administering elections, while campaign finance and ethics matters will be handled together. Right now, campaign finance issues are handled by the State Elections Board while ethics matters are handled by the Ethics Board.

Editorial note: Sounds like a nice start. Let's see how much opposition there may be to it and how it gets "tweaked" along the way.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

President Bush and his determination to win at any cost

As President Bush readies to send another 20,000 troops over to Iraq - despite a very revealing report from the Iraq Study Group about a month ago - Robert Scheer has written this rather insightful piece.

In the meantime what I'd like to know is the same thing on the minds of many others in this country: We were quick to impeach President Clinton for his sexual indiscretions in the Oval Office, but why are we not moving to impeach this president, who millions of Americans believe has lied his way into and through the entire Iraqi War? At least with Clinton's dirty business no lives were lost.

About those who support sending more troops to Iraq, there's an expression that goes something like this: "They will fight to the last drop of everyone else's blood." That certainly seems to be the case with President George W. Bush.

Debate over universal health care coverage in Wisconsin rages on

I think we can all agree that health care coverage in this country is, well, in a word, “ailing.” Some lawmakers in Madison want to see universal health care coverage become part of the health care fabric in Wisconsin. But the conservative think tank, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, has just released a study, which it says demonstrates that such a plan would raise taxes on businesses more than plan proponents claim, while cutting benefits for many residents.

Plan proponents are firing back, saying WPRI’s study is unreliable and was based on a plan that was still being developed.

You can read about the debate in this article published online yesterday at GazetteXtra (Janesville Gazette).

Whether the plan is flawed, or WPRI’s study is, something needs to be done about health care in this state – and nation. To do nothing is not a responsible option, nor is it any longer the “answer.” And without something in place, everybody loses, to one degree or another.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Doyle to try repealing QEO again

One week into his second term and Gov. Jim Doyle is once again going after Wisconsin’s controversial QEO law. Under the Qualified Economic Offer – voted into law in 1993 – neither a teachers union nor school board, when found at an impasse in contract negotiations, may seek binding arbitration if the teachers have been offered at least a 3.8 percent increase between pay and benefits. By the same token, if the benefits alone total 3.8 percent the law states that no pay increase must be offered.

On Doyle’s side is the Wisconsin Education Association Council – better known as WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union – which says the entire school-aid formula is so broken that it must be reinvented this year. As part of that re-invention, WEAC says the QEO law should be done away with, something Doyle tried with each of his two budgets during his first term. But his efforts were met with a Republican-controlled legislature, and subsequently failed. Democrats are now in control and Doyle plans to make another attempt at repealing the law, which coincidentally was put in place for the same reason Doyle instituted a property levy freeze – to control property taxes. But he feels the QEO puts teachers at an unfair disadvantage when compared with other public sector employees.

Business lobbyists and most Republicans believe the QEO is a necessary law and should remain in place. Republican Rep. Kitty Rhoades of Hudson, co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, claims it’s a critical part of the entire school-aid formula. In fact, she says if the QEO would be removed the entire education funding system would collapse. She also feels abolishing the 14-year-old law would cause property taxes to increase.

The Joint Finance Committee – consisting of eight Democrats and eight Republicans – will consider Doyle’s budget this spring. In the meantime, you can read more about the debate in this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For a limited time only, you can also vote on this issue in our online poll.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Martin Luther King events, march planned

[we have received the following press release and are pleased to publish it for our readers...]

For Immediate Release:

The Winnebago Peace & Justice Center has organized the 5th Annual March with Martin, MLK event and Town Hall Forum.

On Monday, January 15 members of the Oshkosh Community will gather at the New Moon Cafe, 410 N. Main Street, at 4pm for sign making and an event kick off speech just the way Martin would do it. At 4:20 p.m. the crowd will march down Algoma Blvd. to Reeve Memorial Union, 748 Algoma Blvd., to remember the life and the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr.

At 4:45 p.m. members of the community, city of Oshkosh Candidates and Officials as well as community leaders and organizations will meet in Reeve Union 202 to talk about King's legacy and discuss how our community struggles to make King's dreams our realities. A Town Hall Forum will follow and the focus will be poverty, social, and economic justice issues within the greater Oshkosh area. The public is invited to attend, we encourage their participation, and we look forward to discussing issues important to our community. This will be a great opportunity to come together and address these important topics.

At 6:30 p.m. there will be a FREE community dinner at the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center, 321 Market St.. Everyone is invited to enjoy this home cooked meal.

*Monday January 15, 2007 Schedule of Events:*

*4:00 Kickoff at the New Moon, Downtown Oshkosh*

*4:20 March down Algoma Blvd. to Reeve Union*

*4:45 Keynote speaker at Reeve Union, Room 202 *

*5:00: Town Hall Forum on Poverty at Reeve Union, Room 202*

*6:30 FREE Community Dinner at Winnebago Peace & Justice Center, 321 Market

For More information please contact Drew Mueske at 920-292-0386 or Ryan Murphy at 262-224-5586.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Weber funeral services, visitation set

Times have been set for public visitation and the funeral for Forrest “Woody” Weber and his wife, Dale, who were killed in a car accident in Missouri on New Year’s Eve.

The first showing will be Thursday, Jan. 11 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, 473 Seventh St, Menasha (across the street from Menasha High School). The following day, Friday, Jan. 12, a second visitation will be held, also at the church, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. with the funeral services beginning at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial for “Woody” and Dale has been established with funds to be administered at a later date. As we get more information about the memorial we will pass it along to you. A guest book is available to sign at

If anyone would like to pay tribute to “Woody” Weber, friends and supporters ask that you stop by the Weber residence at 750 Appleton St, in Menasha, to pick up a Weber yard sign to display in your yard. These are signs left over from “Woody’s” previous campaigns and a display of signs during the upcoming days would be a wonderful tribute to him.

Meanwhile, “Eye on Oshkosh” has taped a special tribute to “Woody” and Dale, gathering together four people who worked with and were close to either “Woody” or he and Dale as a couple. That memorial show begins airing in the Oshkosh area Monday, Jan. 8 and will run all week. It will also be shown by Time Warner Cable in the Neenah/Menasha area – on both the local cable access and their On Demand channel. Please check with them for air times.

We would like to thank Mike Norton, Tom Widener, Nancy Barker and Stan Sevenich for sharing with us and our viewers their memories of these two very special people who touched so many lives in a variety of meaningful and memorable ways.


[we have received the following from County Board Supervisor Mike Norton and are pleased to publish it here...]

I just received an updated and amended agenda for this Tuesday, January 9, 2007 Special Orders meeting of the Winnebago County Board meeting.

On the agenda is reconsideration of Ordinance #136-12206, which created the map for supervisory districts for the April 2008 election, for County Executive Mark Harris has vetoed the resolution. The County Board will attempt to override the veto of the County Executive which takes a 2/3 vote in favor by the Winnebago County Board.

In his veto message to the County Board he wrote the main reason for vetoing the resolution because there has not been a judicial determination whether the Board's action to create a 36-district plan or a plan to cut the Board to 19 supervisory districts will move forward. And he will not approve any map until the number of district is clarified.

I voted against the map at the December 19.2006 meeting and I plan to uphold veto of the County Executive on Tuesday.



Friday, January 05, 2007

School board to consider school closure plan next week; vote scheduled for Jan. 24

When the Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education meets next Wednesday, one of the bigger issues it will deal with is the school closure plan recommended this past week by the committee established to research the district’s various school facilities.

In general, the recommendation calls for school closings, boundary line shifts, new construction and possibly two spending referendums over a 10-year period. Specifically, Sunset Elementary School, currently housed in Perry Tipler Middle School, would close in the 2007-08 school year and students would be sent to Read Elementary. Also in the 2007-08 school year, Green Meadow Elementary would become a kindergarten though second-grade school and Lakeside Elementary would be converted to a third- through fifth-grade school.

In the second year of the plan, Lincoln Elementary School will be closed in the 2008-09 school year and those students would be transferred to Merrill Elementary. That same school year a referendum would be planned for 2009-10 which, if it passed, would rebuild Jacob Shapiro, Green Meadow and Oakwood elementary schools. Emmeline Cook would be added onto as part of the referendum and South Park Middle School would be closed with some other use established for the South Park structure.

Though the board will discuss the recommendation on Wednesday, no vote will actually be taken until the board meeting two weeks after that, on Jan. 24. Once the vote is made there will be a series of information sessions for the district scheduled so parents and other interested parties can learn more about the early stages of the 10-year plan as well as subsequent ones.

Both the Jan. 10 and 24 board meetings are open to the public and the public can comment at both.

You can read more about the plan by visiting the district's web site at

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wisconsin taxpayers warned of possible identity theft after tax form misprint

Thousands of Wisconsin taxpayers may fall victim to identity theft after state tax forms were misprinted.

According to this story from USA Today and this notification posted on the state Department of Revenue’s web site, some 171,000 tax booklets were printed with the taxpayer’s Social Security number on the mailing label. Once the department learned of the error it worked with the U.S. Postal service to retrieve those booklets not already delivered. Unfortunately they were only able to stop about 54,500 - in Oshkosh, Portage and Madison. The others had already been delivered or were in the process of being so.

There are very specific people who may be affected by this printing error, says the Department of Revenue. Here are the particulars...

You may be affected if all of the following apply:

  • You filed a Form 1 (long form) in 2005; and

  • Your filing status in 2005 was married filing jointly

You are not affected if any of the following apply:

  • You filed in 2005 on Form 1A, WI-Z, 1NPR or other forms besides the Form 1; or

  • You filed in 2005 as a single person, head of household or married filing separately; or

  • You filed through a professional tax preparer; or

  • You filed electronically

Officials are recommending that people protect themselves against identity theft by contacting credit bureaus and asking for fraud alerts or other safeguards to keep new accounts from being opened in their names.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Peace vigil tonight 6 p.m.

[we have received the following press release and are pleased to publish it here...]

There will be a Peace Vigil at 6pm Wednesday evening.

WHY? To remember the 3,000-plus deceased soldiers of the Iraq War, the 20 to 30,000 injured soldiers, and the Iraqi dead and injured.
WHEN? 6pm Wednesday evening January 3rd.
WHERE? Peace Park, Oshkosh. Downtown, corner of Main & Algoma, by the Sundial.
Program? Five minutes of silence followed by comments. Everyone welcome.
Informal discussion before and after at the New Moon Cafe.


Bring a flashlight in lieu of candles. Weather conditions as of this writing: Temperature 40, Wind 13mph-sw.

Voting for a president without prejudice

Are we ready to shake things up in the White House with the 2008 election? What about beyond? According to this column by Ellen Goodman, maybe so.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Winnebago County, Menasha lose two good friends

The start of a new year always offers hope for new beginnings. Unfortunately for residents of Winnebago County, especially those living in County Supervisory District 1 (Menasha), the new year has started out by bringing sadness and loss.

Winnebago County Board Supervisor Forrest “Woody” Weber and his beloved wife, Dale, were tragically killed about 6:15 p.m. New Year’s Eve in a car accident in Missouri while on their way back home to Menasha.

According to this report in the Post Crescent the couple had been in Texas, then stopped to visit friends in Kansas. They left Kansas Sunday morning with plans to get back home in time to attend Tuesday night’s Menasha Common Council meeting, at which they were planning to lobby for the continued televising of council meetings (a contract renewal is said to be being debated). Openness in government was something they always felt very strongly about and televised meetings was a technology “Woody” had pushed for for a number of years. He felt it was extremely important for people who couldn't attend city meetings to at least be able to see them and know what was going on in their government.

In addition to serving as a Winnebago County Board supervisor since 2004 – having just won re-election this past April – “Woody” served on the following county committees: the Advocap Board, the East Wisconsin Counties Railroad Consortium, the Scholarship Committee (vice chair) and the Park View Health Center Committee. It was in the latter capacity that “Woody” made a few appearances on “Eye on Oshkosh.” He was absolutely committed to a new nursing home and I’m sure was happy to at least have seen the ground-breaking get underway a few months earlier.

But “Woody” was serving citizens and his community long before being elected to the county board. He served on the Menasha Common Council (Aldermanic Dist. 4) for 24 years, four of which he was president of the council. Prior to that “Woody” served eight years on the school board and was, in fact, a retired schoolteacher. If all those years of public service weren’t enough, “Woody” was active, along with Dale, in the Winnebago County Democratic Party, and served as the leader of the party for several years. But it was as a member of the Common Council that I first came to meet, know and love “Woody.”

When I began covering Neenah/Menasha politics in January 2000, “Woody” was one of the first allies I made. It always takes a little bit of time to get up to speed when covering a new beat, especially when you're unfamiliar with the lay of the political land. But being the teacher that he always was, "Woody" patiently took whatever time was necessary to help me understand the issues the Common Council - and in later years, the County Board - were facing.

As an alderman and county board supervisor, he was always devoted to doing his homework, immersing himself in every issue he was expected to vote on and never backing away from asking difficult questions, even if they made some people uncomfortable. Rare as it is in politics today, “Woody” didn’t believe in playing politics just because he was in politics. He was always honest and completely forthcoming with information he felt the public needed to know. In fact, he was so passionate about keeping his constituents informed about issues affecting them that he regularly wrote, personally paid for and distributed a newsletter to them for as many of his years in public office as I can recall. It was one of the things of which he was extremely proud.

But "Woody" had many reasons for which he could be proud. Among them was his ability to disagree whole-heartedly with someone about an issue, yet never speak ill of that person for his or her beliefs. In all the conversations he and I enjoyed throughout the years, I never heard him speak in a mean-spirited or malicious way about anyone, even if speaking about a political rival. More than anything, he was just a sweet man who loved his family, friends, life and giving to his community.

And Dale was just as sweet and committed. She was not as much in the political spotlight as “Woody,” but, like her husband, she did not back down from things she felt passionately about. She served her community as a poll worker and poll site coordinator. She also served on the Menasha Police and Fire Commission and when the Menasha Fire Department was merged with the Neenah Fire Department in 2003 to become the Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue, Dale became a veteran member of the Joint Fire Commission.

Their untimely departure from our midst will be felt for a long time, not only by family and friends, but by the community they so deeply loved and tirelessly and unselfishly served.

Rest in peace, “Woody” and Dale. You will always be loved, and forever missed by all of us whose lives you touched.