Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Winnebago County Labor Council Endorses Local Candidates

On February 27th at the general meeting of the WCLC AFL-CIO, the following local Candidates were endorsed. The Winnebago County Labor Council is the local chapter of the AFL-CIO in Winnebago County.

For City Council: Bryan Bain, Jessica King, and Tony Palmeri.
For Oshkosh School Board: Karen Bowen and Teresa Thiel.
For Mayor: No endorsement

Council President Stephen Dedow stated "Our endorsement process for 2007 was based off of Candidate responses to a mailed questionnaire dealing with working family issues. To be endorsed, a Candidate had to receive at least 90% of the vote from our delegates. We, as a group, feel that the Candidates selected would best represent working families if elected to their respective positions."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Many school districts consider dissolving or consolidating to deal with financial pressures

According to this piece from the Wisconsin State Journal, a new study shows that a majority of Wisconsin school districts believe they've harmed students' education and school operations in complying with state revenue limits. Additionally, the article says about one-fourth of Wisconsin school districts responding to the survey say they've considered dissolving or consolidating in order to deal with financial pressures they're facing.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Urgent: Help Save 60 Dogs From Live Animal Lab at MCW

[the following press release is published for your information]

Today, Feb. 26, the Medical College of Wisconsin began the first day of its three-day physiology lab in which 60 live dogs will be used and killed. More than 60 people stood in front of the school’s main entrance and peacefully protested this cruel and unnecessary course. Although the lab has started, there is still time to make a difference if we act now.

1. Send a letter to the editor. MCW’s controversial dog lab has received extensive news coverage, including this this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Polite letters to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel can be submitted online.

2. Join PCRM physicians and members of the Wisconsin Humane Society for peaceful demonstrations at MCW. Protesters will urge students not to participate in the lab and will ask MCW to eliminate live animal labs in favor of humane alternatives.

What: Doctors lead peaceful demonstration at MCW
When: Tues., Feb. 27, 7 to 8 a.m.
Wed., Feb. 28, 9 to 10 a.m.
Location: North 87th St. at MCW’s main entrance (between Watertown Plank Rd. and Wisconsin Ave.), Milwaukee
Parking: Please use public parking on Watertown Plank Rd. or other adjacent streets.

Please carpool when possible.

Signs will be provided. Please make sure to dress warmly. No RSVP is required.

3. Call MCW President and CEO T. Michael Bolger at 414-456-8225 and MCW Department of Physiology Chairman Allen Cowley Jr., Ph.D., at 414-456-8277 and politely ask them to end the school’s live animal lab. You can also automatically send them e-mails. Or you can write them at the addresses below:

T. Michael Bolger
President and CEO
Medical College of Wisconsin
Office of the President
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226
Phone: 414-456-8225
Fax: 414-456-6560

Allen Cowley Jr., Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226
Phone: 414-456-8277
Fax: 414-456-6546

It’s crucial that we continue to urge MCW to eliminate its live animal lab course once and for all. Please forward this information to your family and friends in Wisconsin and ask them to take action as well.

Please visit to learn more about how you can help. If you have any questions, please contact me at or 202-686-2210, ext. 336. Thank you so much for your support.
Best regards,
Ryan Merkley
Research Program Coordinator
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Sunday, February 25, 2007

U.S. schools weigh extending school day, year

Are longer school days in our future? According to this piece from Associated Press, it's at least being discussed.

Meanwhile, here are at least one editor's thoughts on the value of a good school and why good schools should matter, even if you don't have kids.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gearing up for another campaign "season"

Many of us are just now recovering from the flurry of ads run during the campaign season that culminated with the November 2006 elections. But don't expect much downtime, or relief, from the inundation of political ads screaming for your attention - and votes. According to this article from Business Week online, Bear, Stearns & Co. media analyst Victor Miller figures that by the time the votes are tallied from the presidential and congressional elections 20 months from now, candidates will have poured a record $2.5 billion into TV spots. Great for local broadcasters, right? Maybe, and maybe not.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fishing pier dispute continues

As most who follow local isues in Oshkosh know, a fishing pier - donated by the Otter Street Fishing Club and to be located at the end of New York Avenue in Miller's Bay at Menominee Park - was approved by the Oshkosh Common Council in June 2005, only about 24 hours AFTER it was approved by the city's parks board. Neighbors and other concerned citizens have been fighting against this pier and its location for a variety of reasons, since the beginning.

The group appealed the city's decision to the state Department of Natural Resources, but in October 2005, the DNR essentially reaffirmed the city's decision by giving its formal approval to the pier. The citizens, including attorney Chuck Williams, have requested a formal hearing. That hearing, in front of an administrative law judge, is scheduled for May. In the meantime, the parties will meet for a pre-trial hearing next week, to see if there's any way to mediate their differences. Here is a summary of the status of things right now, as provided to us by attorney Williams. We thank him and his group for continuing to keep us posted on events as they occur so we can bring them to you.

Chuck Williams' note as provided to us:

"The DNR contested case hearing pursuant to Section227.42 Wis. Stats. contesting the DNR permit to allow construction of a 108' by 100' "T" shaped pier at the foot of New York Avenue in Menominee Park in Millers Bay has been scheduled for Thursday May 3, 2007 at 12:30PM and Friday May 4, 2007 at the Winnebago County Courthouse, Room 60, in Oshkosh before Administrative Law Judge, Jeffrey D. Boldt. The issues at the hearing will include whether the pier adversely affects scenic beauty, navigation,
wildlife and or the environment.

"A pre-hearing conference with the Attorney for the DNR, Quinn Williams, and persons representing the City of Oshkosh, Otter Street Fishing Club, and Petitioners who have petitioned for the contested case hearing will be held on Monday 2/26/07 at 8AM at the DNR office on Sunnyview RD. The purpose of the 2/26/07 pre-hearing conference is to discuss if there is any way to resolve the dispute short of the hearing in May.

"Also a request has been made of the city and club to join the petitioners in laying out the pier on the ice with traffic cones in order to get a better idea of its size, but no one has responded to this request of the petitioners and the laying out of the pier on the ice will probably occur after the 2/26/07 pre-hearing conference if the matter is not resolved on 2/26/07."

For anyone wishing more information on the fishing pier issue, search this site OR visit this link at Tony for a complete archive of articles and information on the issue.

More and more legislators barring electronic distractions

It seems like legislators in different parts of the country are taking steps to ban electronic distractions during official deliberations - reason being, according to this article, lawmakers are supposed to be paying attention to what's going on and the issues they're voting on. Good idea! Now if they could just pass some kind of legislation to force lawmakers to stay awake during assembly meetings.

New Wisconsin Coalition Opposes Escalation in Iraq; unveiled at Oshkosh event Saturday

New Wisconsin Coalition Opposes Escalation in Iraq

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq Announces Wisconsin Chapter

at Event on Saturday

Oshkosh, WI : A new and diverse coalition is entering the debate on Iraq policy. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI), which launched nationally the day after President Bush's surge speech in January, will launch a Wisconsin chapter on Saturday.

The new coalition chose to hold its Wisconsin announcement event in Oshkosh because of Representative Tom Petri's courageous vote for the House resolution against President Bush's plans to send as many as 48,000 additional American soldiers to Iraq. Petri was one of 17 Republican members to part company with the Bush Administration, and vote for the resolution. Similar action has been blocked by Bush's allies in the Senate. "We need the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the House and Congressman Petri, and finally take a vote on this vital issue," said Robert Kraig, Communications and Program Director for Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

"We are organizing this effort because the people right here at home and across America spoke in November―they said enough is enough, but the president and Vice President Cheney refused to listen," said Joanne Augsburger, President of Service Employees International Union Local 150, and a resident of Omro.

"After four years, the deaths of over 3,000 American soldiers, and tens of thousands injured and almost $400 billion spent―its time for the Senate to show leadership on this issues instead of worrying about providing President Bush with political cover," said Gulf War veteran Tracey Sperko of Veterans and Military Families for Progress.

"Escalation is not the answer. Mr. Bush's war has failed. He needs to admit this, rather than risking the lives of more of America's brave young fighting men and women," said Richard Sampson, a World War II veteran from the Fox Valley , and a member of Veterans for Peace.

At the national level the coalition partners include USAction, Service Employees International Union,, Votevets.Org, Win Without War, Campaign for America 's Future, Progressive States Network, Campus Progress, TrueMajority, Working Assets and the United States Student Association.

For more information, please contact Dan Wadle at 920-496-1188, extension 1.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq Wisconsin Launch Event

When: Saturday, February 24, 10:30 AM

Where: UW Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union , Room 214

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wisconsin hopes to be leader in health care reform

Can Wisconsin set the standard for health care reform in the United States? According to this article in the Janesville Gazette (Extra) online that seems to be the goal. It's a nice start, but we've a long way to go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Election results from today's primary

Well, the primary election is over and the results are in...finally. With all wards and precints reporting, here is how the final results look.

Oshkosh Common Council

Bryan Bain (inc.): 2,846

Tony Palmeri: 2,112

Meredith Scheuermann (inc.): 2,021

Jessica King: 1,842

Bob Cornell: 1,762

Mark Nielsen: 1,322

Kent Monte: 885 (eliminated from primary)

Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education

Karen Bowen: 2,730

Dan Becker: 2,720

Teresa Thiel: 1,867

Michelle Monte: 1,692

John Daggett: 581 (eliminated from primary)

Our thanks to all those who ran and our congratulations to those who made it through the primary. We look forward to our second round of interviews with the candidates, which will begin almost immmediately.

For results in all of today's area elections, see the county's web site.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

City’s bond rating could be jeopardized if changes not made

The city manager’s most recent weekly newsletter to the Oshkosh Common Council, dated Feb. 16, 2007, offers a warning that some of us have been talking about for years.

It has to do with the city’s bond rating, which is directly tied to the amount of interest we pay on the money we borrow – whether it is for our own capital projects or for developing the infrastructure in TIF districts for developers.

In his newsletter, Richard Wollangk says “As I spoke about at last Tuesday evening's Council Meeting, the first item I'm enclosing with today's Newsletter is a copy of the bond rating that we received from Moody's Investors Services for the bond issue that was approved at last Tuesday evening's Council Meeting. I've highlighted their concern about our fund balance and their feelings that we need to try to get that fund balance up to its previous levels in order to maintain our AA3 rating. It appears that Moody's is all right with the use of the reserves for capital projects, however, they would like to see it grow to where it had previously been to using it for that purpose. If we continue the downward trend in that fund balance, they will be concerned.”

You can read the entire newsletter by going here, but that item was one of the more significant ones to me.

I appreciate what Mr. Wollangk says about Moody’s being “all right” with the use of reserves for capital projects, but wonder if Moody’s is aware of just what some of those capital projects have been and the manner in which they’ve been handled.

One that immediately springs to mind that was, in my opinion, both irresponsible and a misuse of reserve funds, was the use of several hundred thousand dollars (originally about $675,000, but that was eventually whittled down to about $500,000, I believe) for bathrooms and the concession area at the Leach Amphitheater. I will also remind people that not only was the money pulled from reserves for that project, but the construction contract on the project was awarded without a bid process being conducted (something the attorney general’s office later said was illegal). The Oshkosh Common Council awarded the contract to C.R. Meyer upon the recommendation of city staff, though if memory serves me correctly, the amount was reduced somewhat after Mayor Bill Castle had a golf course discussion with his friend from C.R. Meyer, Phil Martini. I believe that was how we ended up with a total cost of around a half a million or so.

But whether a half million or $675,000, the fact is the process is flawed and we should not be spending reserves intended for emergencies on bathrooms and a concession area, especially without a formal and legal bid process.

The second issue for the city and Oshkosh Common Council is two-fold: Why haven’t they replenished what they’ve borrowed to date (if they had, such a warning from Moody’s might not have been necessary)? And secondly, where will they get the money from to replenish the reserve fund now that we’ve been told we need to, or else? I don’t think the solution will be quite as simple as I expect we’ll be told. After all, common sense would suggest that if it was that easy to get the money there would be no reason to pull it from reserves in the first place.

Bottom line: City staff and the Common Council need to be more responsible and choosy in what it spends reserve funds on and, in doing so, weigh the issue of “wants” versus “needs” more carefully.

Friday, February 16, 2007

100 block among delinquent taxpayers again; Ganther owes back taxes on two properties

They say history repeats itself; that certainly seems to true in the case of the 100 block building on North Main Street and its owners, of whom developer Ben Ganther is one.

According to city tax records and this article in this morning's Oshkosh Northwestern, the 100 block is once again among the properties in the city of Oshkosh that have delinquent property taxes. Ganther and his partners owe nearly $147,000 in taxes on that one property. If that wasn't bad enough, Ganther also owes more than $25,000 in back taxes on the former Mercy Medical Center property; and it's not the first time that property has had delinquent taxes on the books, either.

I wonder what kind of ego someone must have or how they can have no shame to owe that kind of money to the city (or eventually the county), yet continue to ask the city to do business with them, as has been the case with Mr. Ganther?

That leads me to the next obvious question, because there is more at issue here than property owners - all of them, not just Ganther and company - who won't pay what they owe to the city. That question is why we do continue to do business with people like this and how might their failures may affect us as a city?

For example, we also learned from this morning's news article that the building at 100 N. Main St. is for sale, with Ganther saying the building "did not operate according to projections" and that options to refinance or sell the building are being considered. I'm "surprised" to hear this since we previously heard how things were turning around and there were waiting lists for people to get into an apartment there.

I will also remind those who may have forgotten or who are new to the area that, like Tom Doig of the defunct Five Rivers project, a TIF district was created where Ganther's 100-block project was built; and, Mr. Ganther was allowed in during at least one closed session meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council and the public effectively shut out of the development process between he and the city.

It should also be noted that the land was sold to Ganther's 100 Block LLC in Jan. 2002 for a mere $165,500. Nine months later, it was sold to another company in which Ganther is a partner and which still owns it today, for $1,099,600. The 2006 assessed value on the property is $6,279,500. Yet the city is, time and time again, expected to wait for its money.

As I said a year ago, the city needs to look long and hard about who it is doing business with. And it needs to do a better job of fact-finding and scrutinizing development projects that "require" TIF districts and supposedly won't happen without them. Granted in the case of the 100 block, the area was blighted and a TIF perhaps needed to be created in order to spur development. But since Ganther's project is now said to be failing one has to wonder how that will eventually pan out with respect to the TIF district. Will this be a success or will the city get burned on this deal?

Lessons of the day for the city and Common Council: Stop offering TIFs so freely and examine projects more closely, no matter who is bringing them forward; and stop being overly generous with those who have a history of operating less than fairly when it comes to paying their taxes.

Gannett's new lease on news

Involving citizen journalists in the journalism process seems to be paying off for Gannett - and journalism, as a whole - according to this editorial by Jon Fine in BusinessWeek online. It's not just Gannett, though, that is taking this approach. Other newspapers around the country, that aren't Gannett-owned or operated, are following a similar path. People want to feel like they're a part of the news process and often they have much to offer. But it is still up to the pros when there are major stories and controversial issues to make sure things are thoroughly investigated and properly balanced.

FCC report suggests TV violence limits

According to a story in this morning's Los Angeles Times (registration required to read it), Congress could authorize the regulation of excessively violent television shows without violating the Constitution. This is based on the draft of a long-awaited report by the Federal Communications Commission, which also found that increased blood and mayhem on TV has at least short-term effects on children.

The article goes on to say that "The conclusions about the constitutionality of regulating TV violence would be controversial. The Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that the FCC could regulate indecency on broadcast TV and radio, but the court has never ruled on regulation of violence. Broadcasters are suing the FCC because they contend that the commission's tougher indecency policies since 2004 are arbitrary and unconstitutional. Defining excessive violence could be even more complicated. The FCC's draft report acknowledges the difficulty of defining violence but says it could be done constitutionally," according to one FCC official.

While such legislation may be needed, it will also open the door to a flood of lawsuits, I predict, and not just from those who claim their First Amendment Rights are being taken away. There will also be suits from those who have been the victim of violent crimes and the like, who maintain that TV show writers, producers, actors, cable channels and what-have-you, all contributed in some way to the violence that impacted their lives. And they would certainly have the right to make those claims, just as the broadcasters have.

These are complicated legal issues with equally complicated answers; and nothing will get resolved in a timely fashion. But no matter what happens or how long such suits drag out, one thing is for certain: As with so many situations in life, it will be the lawyers who ultimately win.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Take action: Don't let Wal-Mart have the last laugh on Plan B

[we received this via email and are posting it here for interested and concerned parties to read and, if they believe it necessary, to act on it...]

You won't believe what happened to me when I went with my boyfriend to Wal-Mart to buy Plan B® - the "morning-after" pill - after our condom broke.

The pharmacist laughed in our faces and told us, "We have it on hand, but there's no one here who can dispense it."

My name is Tashina Byrd, and this happened to me at my local Wal-Mart in Springfield, Ohio.

It can be embarrassing to share a private, personal experience like this, but I don't want other women to be subjected to the humiliation and anger I felt when the pharmacist laughed at me.

That's why I'm asking for your help today. I recently sent a letter to Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr., urging him to change company policy to guarantee that pharmacies fill requests for Plan B® without delay, just like they do for any other over-the-counter medicine. Click here to send your letter to Wal-Mart today.

You've already proven that together we can make Wal-Mart do what's right for women. Last year, because of pressure from pro-choice activists like you, Wal-Mart reversed its discriminatory policy against stocking Plan B®. Now, it's time to ensure that they not only stock it but also sell it without delay or inconvenience.

In the end, I was lucky. I found another pharmacy that stocked Plan B® and was willing to sell it to me. But what would happen to a woman who lives in a rural area - where Wal-Mart is often the only pharmacy - where the nearest drugstore could be 60 miles away or more? What if the second pharmacy refused, too?

Access to emergency contraception shouldn't require multiple pharmacy visits. To ensure other women don't have an experience similar to mine, join me in urging Wal-Mart to change its policy today!

Tashina Byrd

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

PMI still operating in red at Leach

Well, the latest figures are in on the Leach Amphitheater, and PMI Inc. continues to report a loss on its income statements submitted to the city, despite an increase in gross revenues of $55,000 this last year.

This is disappointing news. I think most people can understand that it takes a little while to get up to speed and that most venues such as this do not show a profit overnight. But the folks from PMI talked a good game when they were trying to get their contract with the city – a contract which, by the way, ended up being a year longer than planned because of a mistake made by our city attorney’s office. But now, two years into the deal – and with the city still only receiving the bare minimum of its $30,000 a year guaranteed payment – PMI is saying “it just has been harder than we thought.” They also reportedly said that events such as Country USA, Lifest and regional fairs have made it a challenge to book certain acts they expected would otherwise do well at the Leach.

I might understand comments like that from someone with less experience. But these guys boasted about how this was their area of expertise and how they could do it better than anyone else. They were also aware of the annual events such as Country USA and Lifest. These events, especially Country USA, are staples in the community and, being the professional promoter PMI is, one would think they would have done their homework and figured out a way to overcome these “obstacles.”

According to this article in the Oshkosh Northwestern PMI president Ken Wachter went on to say the company's financial statements at the Leach would have turned out very differently if Lyle Lovett's show had sold 500 or 600 more tickets. That’s a hell of a lot of extra tickets. A comment I heard from many in the community – even at the time the tickets were being sold and before we knew that show was going to result in an $11,000 loss for PMI – was that the show might have sold more tickets if they hadn’t been priced so high.

Real or imagined, these sound like excuses to me from an overly ambitious promoter who either didn’t do enough homework to know how to properly market and promote this venue or who maybe just simply doesn’t have the skills and expertise we need to make the Leach successful.

In any event, PMI has another two years remaining on their contract. Let’s hope they work smarter and not harder during the last half of their contract. Otherwise, it would behoove the city to start shopping for a new promoter.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Associated Press launches citizen media deal

The Associated Press and have agreed to a partnership where will allow Associated Press to use photographs, video and news from "citizen journalists" in its newsgathering operation., a Vancouver, Canada-based startup, posts citizens' images and news accounts on its Web site, along with links to mainstream news organizations. Though many details of the partnership have yet to be ironed out, the AP may use certain contributors to help gather news on "anything from a major storm to even some Iraq angle." members will be compensated and, depending on the nature of their contributions, credited for their work. You can read more about it here.

NowPublic boasts more than 60,000 contributing "reporters" in more than 140 countries and promises to quickly locate potential witnesses or news gatherers close to breaking events ranging from everything from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

Doyle committed to state offering domestic partnership benefits where possible

When he presents his state budget proposals this week, Gov. Jim Doyle will also propose offering group health insurance benefits to domestic partners of all state employees. He believes to do so is not only fair, but necessary, in order for the state, as an employer, to remain competitive.

You can read more about it here as well as here.

Children's Day Parade event heads back to South Park

It was announced this morning that the Children's Day Parade event, hosted by the Oshkosh Jaycees, will be returning to the south side and South Park this summer. In 2006, the parade had been moved downtown and the after-parade event to the Leach Amphitheater, but that was met with many complaints - the biggest complaint being that the event was losing touch with the south side, where the parade and events afterward originated and were always held previously.

Following is a press release issued by the Jaycees concerning the move...

Children’s Day Parade to return to South Park Jaycees to simplify event; celebrate 75 years of tradition

OSHKOSH, WI) – In 2006, the Children’s Day Parade encountered multiple storms. On the morning where children from across Oshkosh prepared to march down city streets showcasing the floats and costumes they constructed, rain threatened to cancel the event. Despite the delay in the schedule, the parade proceeded with dry skies to the delight of the children. But, this was not the only storm the parade organizers endured.

In a controversial move, the Oshkosh Jaycees, a non-profit volunteer group who acts as the current organizers for the parade, had relocated the parade from the traditional route ending at South Park to a new route through Downtown ending at the Leach Amphitheater. “We wanted to make it a bigger event for the kids,” explains Jaycees President Jay Stoflet. “PMI (the management company for the Leach Amphitheater) had hosted a kids-based event for the community the year before. We thought it would be exciting for everyone if we worked together and gave the children the opportunity to showcase their creativity on the same stage the big holiday parades are held and gave them a bigger festival at the end of the route.”

Despite the best intentions, not everyone in the community supported the change. Shortly after the public began to hear rumors about the move, residents – many residing on the south side of Oshkosh – began to voice their disapproval, feeling the event was being stolen from it’s rightful home and turned into a money making event.

“We began receiving calls and seeing commentary in the paper criticizing the change,” explains Stoflet. “We knew there would be some resistance, but we had no idea people would accuse us of turning the event into a fundraiser at the expense of local families. From the beginning, we have always operated the Parade as a ‘break even’ event. Even if we had a small loss, we considered it a donation back to the community,” claims Stoflet.

The problem was the losses had become greater each year as the group attempted to cover costs from diminishing sponsorship while maintaining activities after the Parade at an affordable cost. In 2006 alone, the Jaycees covered over $1000 in losses to keep the festival partnership with PMI free for participants. “I don’t think people appreciate the costs associated with holding an event at a level the public expects," claims Stoflet.

So for this year, the 75th anniversary of the Children’s Day Parade, the Jaycees will be honoring the history of the event by returning to a simpler time and returning the event to it’s traditional home. While many details have yet to be determined, a few things have been established. The 2007 Parade will be held on August 5th, the route will end at South Park, and while there will continue to be awards and prizes for parade participants there will not be a festival hosted by the Jaycees after the parade.

“Seventy-five years ago when the Parade started, it was about kids showcasing their creativity - not inflatable activities, roaming entertainers, and games,” describes Stoflet. “Continuing the tradition of the Parade is the most important thing to us, but we can no longer afford the time and expenses associated with a festival. Our city parks have wonderful amenities and South Park is one of the best in Oshkosh. There is simple free fun for all children at that park that is as good as anything we could bring in.”

The Jaycees have stated that they would be willing to work alongside any other community or neighborhood group that would be interested in hosting additional activities after the parade, but stressed that their commitment is to the Parade only. When asked about the motivation to keep the event going, Stoflet explained “While the festival was always fun, seeing the pride and smiles on the kids’ faces as they march down the street with their creations isthe best motivation for us to keep going for another 75 years.”

More information regarding the 75th Annual Children’s Day Parade can be found at as it becomes available.

Today's news should come as a pleasant surprise for people, including some visitors to this site who blogged about it when the change was made to move the event to the Leach Amphitheater last summer.

Roessler asks Doyle to direct legislature to lift cap on Nursing Home Diversion program

MADISON—State Senator Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh) Saturday (2/10/07) asked Governor Jim Doyle to urge the Legislature to take swift action to expand the Nursing Home Diversion Program during his budget address. In a letter to the Governor, Roessler stated, “We should move with urgency to remove the cap and allow persons in need of services to remain in a community based setting when they run out of money and skilled nursing home care is not needed.”

2005 Act 355, the Nursing Home Diversion program authored by Senator Roessler, was signed into law last year. The program is limited to 150 people who have exhausted all of their financial resources and are not in need of skilled nursing home care.

“There are many people who pay for their long term care in a community setting until they have no money left. When their own money is used up, these individuals are faced with no choice but to transfer to a nursing home. The Nursing Home Diversion program only provides services to individuals who are facing imminent entry into a nursing home,” explained Roessler.

Roessler continued, “Community based care is often less expensive than nursing home care. If a person is not in need of skilled nursing care, it is common sense for the state to support that person in a community based setting rather than pay more money for services the individual does not need.”

In reference to the current 150 person cap, Roessler commented,“The slots were filled in 7 weeks. The cap was put in place to ‘test’ the program. We knew there was a need for the program but wanted to start on a small scale in the event the cost was more than anticipated. As a condition of the CIP II waiver, the federal government requires cost-neutrality and the DHFS has proven this can be done.”

“It is not prudent to require people facing this situation today to enter a nursing home only to offer them a later opportunity for a community based placement through the relocation initiative. It is critical that we not wait and waste precious time and disruption for these vulnerable adults.” said Roessler.

Roessler is leading a bi-partisan effort to lift this cap in advance of the six month budget consideration.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cronkite warns quest media profits threatens freedom

Warning that the pressures by media companies to generate ever-greater profits are threatening freedom, former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite also says today's journalists face greater challenges than those of his generation. In this Associated Press news article from yesterday, the man a major poll once named the "most trusted figure" in American public life, Cronkite claims that journalists can no longer count on their employers to provide the necessary resources "to expose truths that powerful politicians and special interests often did not want exposed."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Doyle announces tax cuts to make life more affordable for middle class families

APPLETON - Governor Jim Doyle today announced a comprehensive budget strategy that will provide sweeping tax relief for hardworking families - from health care to education to Social Security. The Governor made the announcement in Appleton at the home of Joe and Brenda Ketter, joined by their seven kids ranging in age from preschool to a senior in high school.

"Far too many families across the state are getting squeezed," Governor Doyle said. "That's why we've worked hard to make the right, responsible choices to keep life affordable for middle class families. From making quality, comprehensive health care a reality for all citizens, to bringing higher education within reach to all students, to easing the burden of property taxes, Wisconsin is moving in the right direction."

Governor Doyle will include the following tax cuts in his budget next week to help middle class families - like the Ketters - in areas from health care to college tuition.

Making Health Care More Affordable
Governor Jim Doyle proposed to make all health insurance premiums tax free. Governor Doyle's budget proposal would provide a new tax deduction for any post-tax premium payments made to employer sponsored health plans. This new proposal would ensure that any family that makes taxable contributions to their health insurance would be able to fully deduct those premiums.

A health care tax deduction already signed by Governor Doyle that allows people who pay the entire cost of their health insurance to fully deduct their premiums benefits over 80,000 families. According to the Wisconsin Budget Office, this new proposal would benefit an additional 637,300 Wisconsin families and individuals who would be eligible for relief. A typical family that pays a $300 monthly health premium would save about $236 a year.

Making Higher Education More Affordable
Tuition is rising across the country. As his top priority, Governor Doyle is committed to keeping higher education within reach for all Wisconsin students and their families. In addition to his proposal for a $44 million increase in financial aid, Governor Doyle today called for the full cost of tuition at all Wisconsin universities and colleges to be tax deductible. And for the first time, parents and students will be able to deduct the costs of books and fees at all universities and colleges. The proposal increases the maximum tuition tax deduction from $4,536 to $6,000 per student, an increase of 32 percent.

Making Child Care More Affordable
There are over a quarter million children in Wisconsin who have both parents working or who have a working single-parent. Governor Doyle's proposal will provide a tax deduction of up to $3,000 for families with one child in day care and up to $6,000 for families with two or more children in day care. A typical family of four would save nearly $130 on their taxes. It is estimated that over 100,000 households will take advantage of this tax deduction.

Eliminating Taxes on Social Security
In his budget, Governor Doyle will completely eliminate taxes on Social Security - making Wisconsin the best state in the nation for senior citizens with fixed income to live in. Beginning in 2008, the proposal will provide a full 100 percent income tax exclusion for Social Security benefits.

Lawsuit against county on county board size rejected

Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schmidt ruled earlier today on a lawsuit filed by a local citizen group seeking to halve the size of the 38-member county board, essentially rejecting the suit on two grounds.

Citizens United to Transform the Winnebago County Board filed the suit after petitions containing more than 7,000 signatures asking that a referendum to reduce the board size from 38 to 19 be placed in the ballot were rejected by County Clerk Sue Ertmer.

Schmidt also ruled that the court was not the appropriate place for the complaint filed by C.U.T., saying that even if the court had jurisdiction in this matter, Ertmer did not have to accept the petitions because they were turned in after the county board had already voted to cut its size by two members and state law allows only one change in board size between federal census counts. Ertmer had relied on advice from Corporation Counsel John Bodnar and the State Elections Board in rejecting those petitions.

It seems to me this matter is ripe for appeal. Yes, the county board had already voted to reduce itself by two members. But it seems pretty clear to citizens that the board did so in a deliberate attempt to circumvent the group's petition drive efforts and to stop the voters from having more of a say in their government.

It should also be pointed out that despite that vote by the county board, C.U.T. continued its petition drive after being told by a State Legislative Council attorney that "If a County Board has adopted a resolution to reduce the number of County Board Supervisors, but has yet to enact the revised supervisory district plan to implement the reduction, it appears the board may not enact the plan following the filing of a petition to reduce the County Board Size."

The other reason it seems an appeal is in order is because if the court is not an appropriate place for an issue of this nature and magnitude, what is? where does on go for legal redress ir not a court?

It will be interesting to see where this ends up next; or if C.U.T. will bring its efforts to an end for now. I don't know what the right size is for the county board but it seems to me people ought to have the right to decide what it wants in its own county government. Or is our county board just too scared to have happen here what has happened elsewhere, where voters have cut their county boards by significant numbers?

For what it's worth, I hope C.U.T. takes their complaint to the next level.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Talk about nuclear power being presented

Press release For Information contact Ann Frisch 237 1748 or 279 7884

Short announcement:
Dennis Demoss, Senior Vice President and Project Director, Sargent & Lundy, will address the League of Women Voters during their Food for Thought Luncheon on Wednesday, February 14 on issues related to nuclear power plants from an industry perspective. The luncheon is being held at the Oshkosh Public Library. There is no cost for the event, but reservations for lunch can be made by contacting Ann Marshall 231-8002 or by email at Reservations are due Friday noon, February 9.

Full story:
Dennis Demoss, Senior Vice President and Project Director, Sargent & Lundy, will address the League of Women Voters during their Food for Thought Luncheon on Wednesday, February 14 on issues related to nuclear power plants from an industry perspective.

Mr. Demoss¹ presentation will include information about the history of Wisconsin¹s nuclear plants; history of nuclear power generation in the United States and the world; the strengths and liabilities of nuclear power generation and address issues related to the increased use of nuclear energy for power generation.

The luncheon is being held at the Oshkosh Public Library. There is no cost for the event, but reservations for lunch can be made by contacting Ann Marshall 231-8002 or by email at Reservations are due Friday noon, February 9.

Mr. Demoss has over 30 years of nuclear power plant design experience. He began his career with Sargent & Lundy as a engineering co-op student in 1974. Upon graduation from the University of Cincinnati in 1977, he began full time work with Sargent & Lundy in the Project Management and gineering Division. He obtained his Masters of Science in Materials Engineering from the University of Illinois Chicago in 1981. One key project assignment was the design and engineering of the Byron and Braidwood Nuclear Power Stations in Illinois in the 1980's. He has worked on a number of commercial nuclear plants in the US including the Kewaunee and Point Beach Nuclear Plants in Wisconsin. He is a registered professional engineer in 8 states including Wisconsin and Illinois. He is currently Vice President of the Western Society of Engineers and serves on NFPA Code Committee 110 "Emergency Power Systems².

Doyle open to exempting bars from smoking ban

By now we are all aware of Gov. Doyle’s proposal from a mere two weeks ago which called for a complete ban on smoking in all Wisconsin workplaces.

But according to this report in the La Crosse Tribune, comments Doyle made yesterday show he is reluctant, but open, to granting an exemption to bars in Wisconsin, if it means he can get support for the remaining part of his proposal. He’s already feeling pressure from the Tavern League of Wisconsin.

I understand the premise of compromise and his desire to get the majority of public places covered by the ban. I’m sure it’s also difficult when you have lobbyists as strong as the state Tavern League is. But the proposal is only two weeks old. If we’re truly interested in leveling the playing field for all Wisconsin businesses and improving public health, then it makes sense to include bars, especially since that is where so much smoking takes place.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is Oshkosh goin' to the dogs?

Many communities throughout the United States allow dogs in their city or county parks, provided they’re leashed and, of course, their owners pick up after them. But Oshkosh has been slow to adopt a similar policy. Outgoing Mayor William Castle tested the waters for such a provision a few years ago, but it was met with lukewarm enthusiasm, to say the least.

Recognizing that times are a-changing and many dog owners like to walk with their canine companions, the Oshkosh Parks Advisory Board is considering whether to recommend allowing dogs in city parks.

The board recently surveyed 262 residents who live adjacent to the city’s five main parks – Menominee Park, South Park, Rainbow Park, Rusch/Sawyer Creek Park and the North High Conservancy Park to see how they felt, of which 81 people responded.

The survey asked such questions as: do you have a dog(s) as part of your family; do you walk your dog(s) on a daily or weekly basis; where do you walk your dog(s); if allowed, would you walk your dog(s) at any of the following parks’ walk/trails (parks then listed); why it would be a good idea to allow the walking of dogs in the above parks’ walk/trails; what would be the negatives of allowing dogs to be walked in the above parks’ walk/trails; do you support the idea of allowing dogs to be walked in the above parks’ walk/trails; additional comments.

Dog poop seemed to be one of the biggest concerns, according to this article in the Oshkosh Northwestern. I realize there are some people who do not pick up after their dogs, but I believe they are the exception rather than the rule. Most are responsible pet owners who would respect the privilege given to walk with their dog in the park and clean up any messes they made. One need look no further than the county park to see that. But it certainly couldn't - nor wouldn’t - be any worse than the goose poop park visitors have dealt with for years.

The Parks Advisory Board will vote on the matter at its March 12 meeting. It will then go on to the Common Council for its consideration.

The Parks Advisory Board meets in Room 404 of City Hall on the second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. The meetings are televised live on OCAT Channel 10 for those who cannot attend.

What do you think about this issue? Should dogs be allowed in the major city parks? Vote in our online poll.

Doyle announces increase in shared revenue, other aids

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle today announced a multi-year effort to increase county and municipal shared revenues by $15 million in his budget. Specifically, the state will increase its shared revenue commitment to counties by $2.7 million over the next two fiscal years to help equip counties with the resources they need. Governor Doyle made the announcement at the Wisconsin Counties Association Annual Legislative Exchange in Madison.

"We're making progress on everything from economic development to health care to education," Governor Doyle said. "The opportunities to continue moving Wisconsin forward in 2007 are endless. But to seize every opportunity, state and local governments must continue working together for middle class families."

Governor Doyle also proposed increased investments to areas including court support services, youth aid, transportation maintenance, and child support.

Court Support Services

$3 million increase over the biennium for county victim witness funding; and
$19 million increase to support Circuit Court Operations; and
$531,500 statewide for court interpreter services.

DOT Maintenance and General Transportation Aid

$66 million increase for the State Highway Maintenance Program to cover rising costs and provide safe roads for Wisconsin citizens; and
$2 million increase annually for mass transit funding; and
$2 million increase annually for general transportation aids.

Child Support Collection

By October of this year, the federal government will cease matching federal incentive funds with federal matching funds - which will cost Wisconsin more than $40 million over the biennium.

To pick up where Washington is leaving Wisconsin, Governor Doyle proposed to fill that hole with $5.5 million to help counties stay on track for their future. This investment will draw an additional $10.7 million in federal matching funds for counties, reaching a total a total of $16.2 million each year for child support collection as a result of the Governor's responsible investment.

Governor Doyle also proposed a $27 million increase over the biennium for the Youth Aids program, the State's primary means of providing counties with direct assistance for juvenile delinquency services at the county level.

Doyle announces increase in financial aid

FITCHBURG - Governor Jim Doyle announced today that he will propose a $44 million increase in financial aid - a 21 percent increase over the last biennium - in his budget next week to begin preparing for the first Wisconsin Covenant scholars. The Governor made the announcement while discussing the importance of going to college with eighth-graders at Savanna Oaks Middle School in Fitchburg. This year's eighth-graders will be the first to sign the Wisconsin Covenant.

"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 student to know, with the Wisconsin Covenant, college is within their grasp."

In his State of the State, Governor Doyle said he would provide funding for the Office of the Wisconsin Covenant, as well as a major increase in financial aid, to prepare for the day when the first Covenant scholars walk through the doors of Wisconsin's universities and technical colleges. The Governor pledged a $225 million investment, including financial aid, in the University system to expand enrollment and produce more graduates.

Students who choose to participate in the Wisconsin Covenant will sign a pledge in eighth grade affirming that they will earn a high school diploma, participate in their community and be good citizens, take a high school curriculum that prepares them for higher education, maintain a B average in high school, and apply in a timely manner for state and federal financial aid.

In return for signing the Covenant pledge, each one of the Wisconsin Covenant Scholars will have a spot in either the University of Wisconsin system, the Wisconsin Technical Colleges, or at one of the state's 20 private, nonprofit and independent colleges.

The Wisconsin Covenant program will be open to every eighth grade student across the state regardless of income. As students enter college, those families in most need of financial aid will receive grants to pay the costs of education, and other students will receive a mix of loans, grants, and work study opportunities through the Wisconsin Covenant Program.

This initiative builds on the progress the Governor has made in the last four years - including doubling funding for financial aid - to make college more accessible and affordable for Wisconsin's working families.

Meeting Monte's challenge

As most Oshkosh area bloggers know, Kent Monte first started with his most recent innuendo about me two weeks ago. Then last week he got in a snit because he was not invited to appear on the Eye on Oshkosh program with other candidates participating in the spring election. I explained to readers on both my sites that he was not invited because he'd stated last year he would not appear on the program again. Monte promptly denied that, launched more accusations at me in typical Monte fashion, and challenged me to post where he'd made that comment.

It took me a little bit to find it, mainly because it was under a topic that one would not ordinarily find such a comment. And, truth be known, I probably spent more time than his "challenge" really required. But now that it has been located, I am posting the link for everyone to follow if they're interested. You can follow this link to Tony Palmeri's blog site and scroll part way down to read Mr. Monte's own words.

I know some feel we should be focusing on issues; I agree. But as we've heard since the days of Bill Clinton, character matters. And I believe the rashness with which someone running for office makes decisions and the manner in which they conduct themselves when someone opposes them are character traits which also must be considered if we are to put the right people in office.

Since last week I have dealt with Mr. Monte's unwarranted attacks - both personal and professional - all because he couldn't remember what he said last year and apparently wasn't thorough enough in his research to find his own comments. Hopefully this will put an end to all that (and this issue) and in the future Mr. Monte will either be less hasty in saying things that ultimately burn his own bridges and which he might later regret, or at a minimum not be so quick to suggest someone else is lying or at fault just because he can't find what he needs to prove otherwise.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Change in daylight savings time could cause technology problems for businesses

According to a newsletter this week from Wisconsin Technology Network, "forthcoming changes to Daylight Saving Time are not considered a major information technology challenge in the league of Y2K, but business organizations that don't take precautions could be harmed, according to Gartner, Inc. With the clock ticking toward the March 11 deadline for action, Gartner has issued a business wake-up call." You can read more about it here.

Historic bipartisan ethics reform measure signed into law

Yesterday Governor Jim Doyle culminated the bipartisan work of the Legislature and signed historic, far reaching ethics reform into law. Special Session Senate Bill 1 creates an independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Board with funding, and independent authority to investigate and seek prosecution.

"In 2007, the opportunities for Wisconsin are endless," Governor Doyle said. "But to keep Wisconsin growing and moving forward, we have to continue working to find common ground. That's why we can't stop here. Let's use this moment as a model for what can happen when people in both parties set aside differences and get to work."

In December, Governor Doyle joined with Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses of the Legislature to announce an agreement to pass major, bipartisan ethics reform. In January, Governor Doyle called a special session of the Legislature to take swift action on this agreement. And in the hours leading up to the Governor's State of the State Address, the Legislature passed SS-SB 1, marking an agreement for Governor Doyle to sign into law and reaffirm public trust in government.

In his State of the State Address, Governor Doyle praised the Legislature for working together, listening to the public, and building consensus needed to pass this sweeping reform - the first in 30 years - creating a strong Government Accountability Board that will give real teeth behind Wisconsin's laws.

Under SS-SB 1:

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Why Kent Monte won't be on Eye on Oshkosh

Thursday night Kent Monte published a piece in which he complained about not being invited to appear on Eye on Oshkosh. In doing so, he questioned my impartiality as a journalist.

There seems to be a disconnect between what Kent is told and what he understands about the differences between my work as a paid journalist and my role on the Eye on Oshkosh program. It’s a pretty basic concept, but apparently one that’s simply out of reach for poor Kent Monte to grasp. Despite those differences and my circulating nomination papers for two council candidates, I have been fair and impartial to every council and school board candidate who has appeared on the show, and that includes his wife, whose political views I don’t entirely agree with and who is not one of my favorite people either. While Mr. Monte is entitled to his opinion about what he perceives as my bias, thankfully it is one shared by very few people.

As for “Moping Monte” not being invited on the show, he wrote on a public blog last year that he would not come on the show again. I decided then and there I would help him keep his promise. Yet only approximately six or seven months later he scratches his head and wonders publicly where his invitation is. He rambled on to say that he doubts whether Miles Maguire or Tony Palmeri knew about my decision to not invite him. As with so many other things, Kent’s speculation again makes him look like a fool. I don’t recall if I mentioned it to Miles, but certainly Tony, like a lot of other people, has known for months about my decision (and supported it). Furthermore, Mr. Monte knows Tony was aware of it because I’m told the two discussed it during a phone call he made to Tony Thursday night. I notice he didn’t share that with his readers though.

Mr. Monte next questioned whether Paul Esslinger will be invited on the show before the general election. The simple answer is “no.” That decision was made after Esslinger’s comments last year regarding my professional integrity and his subsequent behavior, including actually having an attorney threaten me with a lawsuit over a comment I made that, if right, would have made me look bad right along with Esslinger and a few others we were involved with politically. Anyone I shared the story with found Esslinger’s actions last year laughable. They said his behavior was that of someone too thin-skinned for politics. And most, including Tony, support my decision not to have him on the show as well.

It’s funny how these people have no problem questioning Tony’s or my integrity, motives or how we run our respective blogs; yet they complain the loudest when they’re not given an invitation to appear on the show. Give me a break. They can’t have it both ways, much as I’m sure they think they deserve to.

And to answer Mr. Monte’s next question before it even gets asked, Dennis McHugh will also not be invited back on after I received a phone call and email from him last year similar in tone to Monte’s comments and expressing dislike for how Tony and I were so critical of council members. Imagine that! One of the biggest nitpicking, “got’cha” politicians we’ve seen in some time and he has a problem with Tony and I being tough on council members!! What hypocrisy. Maybe it's just he doesn't like us being tough on him or council members he gets along with.

So, no, these individuals will not be on the show. Besides, some of us find much of their behavior so embarrassing for the city I’m afraid if they did appear we’d have to call that episode “Black” Eye on Oshkosh.

Nomination papers and Kent Monte

[we received this question posted on the other Eye on Oshkosh site and because not everyone visits both sites I wanted to post it, and my response, for readers here...]

Saturday, February 03 2007 @ 02:25 AM MST
Contributed by: Anonymous

Does anyone know if there is truth to the rumor that Paul Esslinger and Melanie Bloechel were the ones who gave the information to Kent Monte about Sheurmann's election papers? I know there are cameras at city hall to show stuff like that but maybe someone knows if it's true.

Authored by: admin on Saturday, February 03 2007 @ 05:28 AM MST
What I can tell you about this is the city clerk's office did confirm for me yesterday that indeed, Mr. Esslinger and Mrs. Bloechl (a former mayor for those who don't know who she is) were the ones reviewing nomination papers at City Hall. The natural assumption then is that their "discovery" was passed along to Mr. Monte, who in turn called the radio station to report his "treasure trove" of information.

Thing is, I'm still trying to figure out what the real story is here. So there were mistakes on Meredith Scheuermann's nomination papers that resulted in 18 signatures being thrown out. Big deal. Mistakes on nomination papers or invalid signatures are not uncommon - that's why candidates usually submit more than the required amount.

It should also be pointed out that had they been discovered earlier on they would have been correctable errors. Granted, they should have been caught by Mrs. Scheuermann or the clerk's office, but they weren't. And certainly, those signatures should not count if they're invalid, but (a) why were papers being reviewed so late in the election process, and again, (b) what is the real story here?

Scheuermann still has enough valid signatures to legally remain on the ballot and there was no evidence of fraud or anything like it discovered as a part of this.

Maybe the bigger question should be why is Kent Monte crying to the media about an honest mistake that doesn't change his opponent's status in the election?

Soon after the reports aired yesterday Monte was already trying to downplay things and complaining about how the media made him look like he hated Meredith Scheuermann. Poor Kent Monte - always misunderstood by everyone. He went on to say he doesn't hate her and wasn't out to get her in any way. Really? Then why call the media with so-called "news" that doesn't change a thing?

Most of the people I've talked to or heard speaking about this think this is more silliness from a candidate who's an habitual complainer. As I see it, Kent Monte is a crybaby (just look at everything he's been whining about this campaign season alone) and probably a desperate candidate who feels the need to continue getting his name out in the media. With stunts like he's been pulling lately, he should feel desperate.

The media report yesterday said Monte was "crying foul" over the nomination paper incident. The only thing foul here that I can see is the smell coming from such an amateurish stunt in the 11th hour.

- Cheryl Hentz

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Questions remain about garbage fee vote

When Oshkosh Common Council members and incumbent candidates Bryan Bain and Meredith Scheuermann were on Eye on Oshkosh two weeks ago both stated they did not vote for the garbage fee.

That seemed a little odd to me at the time, but because there were different discussions and various votes that had to do with or somehow referenced the garbage fee I wanted to be sure of that being the correct answer.

Consequently, neither I nor guest host Miles Maguire challenged them on it at the time. Judging from the discussion I’ve heard in the community, there also seems to be a fair amount of confusion or uncertainty about it among residents. I wanted the most accurate information about it possible and contacted the city clerk’s office for the information. Yesterday I received answers to my questions and if I am interpreting the information correctly, here is how those votes break down:

On May 9 there was a resolution to establish a fee for the collection of solid waste and recyclables. An amendment to end the fee on 12/31/06 was made by Bryan Bain and it was voted on accordingly: Carried (4) Scheuermann, Bain, Tower, Mattox; No (3) McHugh, Esslinger, Castle.

Then there was a motion to adopt the resolution as amended. That was voted on thusly: Ayes (5) Scheuermann, Bain Tower, Mattox, Castle; No (2) McHugh, Esslinger.

On September 13 there was a resolution to place the garbage fee referendum on the ballot and it was approved unanimously by all seven councilors. And finally on Nov. 28 there was a resolution to adopt the city budget for 2007 and it was voted on as follows: Ayes (5) Bain, Tower, Mattox, Scheuermann, Castle No (2) McHugh, Esslinger.

I appreciate the fact that there was a lot of discussion about the appropriateness of the fee and that efforts were made by a number of councilors – Bain and Scheuermann included – to get it removed during the May meeting. But in the end, the 2006 budget had been drafted with the fee included for the fourth quarter of 2006, and to not vote for it would have resulted in staff layoffs, we’re told – something at least some of our common council members did not want to see. So they voted accordingly.

Hopefully this clears up the confusion surrounding this vote. I wish councilors Scheuermann and Bain would have been more clear about their vote and why they did what they did when they first appeared. But I do have to say that no matter what the reasons, in the end a vote for something is just that, and to state otherwise, even if one has what they believe to be the best of reasons, is disingenuous and disappointing.

Likewise, I wish I'd had the exact votes and those dates in my material at the time of the first interview. When they come on the show before the April general election they will be asked to explain their “no” vote claim.

- Cheryl Hentz

UPDATE / CORRECTION: The garbage fee issue has been discussed in so many places and on so many occasions that it is no wonder there is so much confusion. But I have gone back and reviewed the tape from the candidate's show in question and must apologize to Bryan Bain. Contrary to what many thought, including me, he did not say he voted NO on the garbage fee during our interview with him. He also said that he did vote for the budget that included the fee. It is less clear what Meredith Scheuermann meant in our discussion with her about the fee because of different votes that she referred to. But here is what transpired during that interview.

At the very beginning of the interview she emphatically stated that she did not vote for the garbage fee, but that she did vote for the budget that included it. She also went on to say that it was she, Bryan Bain and Burk Tower "who voted not for the garbage fee." She followed that up by saying she was glad to be part of a team that made the garbage fee go away; that the referendum ultimately made it go away, but that they were very committed to making it go away for 2007. "The referendum just made it mandatory that it went away," she said. "I didn't vote for the garbage tax when I went to the polls...I didn't want it either." She also admitted that they were unable to make the fee go away for the 4th quarter of 2006.

I hope this clears things up rather than adds to the confusion and, again, I apologize to Bryan Bain for the error in misstating his vote on the garbage fee issue.]

- Cheryl Hentz

DA’s office drops reckless homicide case against couple in infant’s death

Earlier this week Winnebago County prosecutors dropped the charges of being a party to the crime of first-degree reckless homicide against a town of Menasha couple, accused of causing injuries which resulted in the death of a 10-week old infant being cared for at their in-home day care about three years ago. The reason, according to Assistant Dist. Atty. Cathy Huber, is that under a Supreme Court ruling in a 1993 Kenosha County case, it would have been impossible for the state to continue prosecuting each defendant as being a “party to the crime.”

You can read more about the details of this case and the district attorney’s office’s position on the charges in this Oshkosh Northwestern report but, without passing judgment on the accused or being insensitive to the victims’ parents, who still have a civil action pending against the Pages, the recent turn of events has stirred two schools of thought for me.

The first is this: Why did our former Dist. Atty. Bill Lennon pursue the charges as he did, despite this Supreme Court ruling? Was he even aware of it and, if not, why not? Is this one more thing on top of other things that occurred while he was in office that made people question his capability and ultimately cost him a bid for a judicial seat in Winnebago County? This, coupled with other charging decisions and handling of other cases while in office, I believe, lend credence to the fact that voters made the right decision in last year’s judicial race and that we seem to have the right man – Christian Gossett – in the district attorney’s office now.

The second is this: We need to give credit to our new Dist. Atty. Christian Gossett and his staff for recognizing a charging problem and stepping up to the plate to right a “procedural” wrong, if you will.

Again, I am not taking a position on the guilt or innocence of the Pages, nor must we ever lose sight of the fact that an innocent child lost his life, somehow. But that being said, the laws must be followed, and disregarding one (a Supreme Court ruling), even if unintentional, in order to uphold another in one’s quest for justice is no way to do the people’s business. Former DA Lennon should have been more versed in the law and paid closer attention to all the details of the case. I feel confident that if the charges are eventually re-filed against one or the other defendant, it will be done properly and Mr. Gossett and his staff will be paying closer attention to all aspects of the law. That is, after all, what real justice is all about and the only way our justice system can truly work.