Monday, April 30, 2007

Students find ways to cheat using technology; some schools banning iPods

Banning baseball caps during tests was obvious -- students were writing the answers under the brim. Then, schools started banning cell phones, realizing students could text message the answers to each other. Now, schools across the country are targeting digital media players as a potential cheating device. Check out the rest of the story by going here. Is this a problem locally? If not, will it become a serious enough problem that we should worry about it here? Or if a student is determined to cheat will they find a way no matter what and we should just leave well enough alone? After all, they're only cheating themselves, right? Or are they? It's interesting food for thought.

Office of Energy Independence Publishes State's First Biofuels Guide

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

MADISON - Judy Ziewacz, Director of the Office of Energy Independence, announced the publication of the state's first biofuels production guide. The Wisconsin Guide to Building Biofuels Facilities outlines the regulations, permits, and contacts necessary to produce biofuels in Wisconsin.

"If we want renewable fuels in the marketplace, we have to produce the fuel here in Wisconsin. If an oilfield in Mideast is competing against a farm field from the Midwest, that's a very good thing for the environment, for our economy, and for the state," Governor Jim Doyle said.

The Office of Energy Independence was created to advance Governor Doyle's vision on energy policy and to promote the state's bioindustry.

Governor Doyle's Declaration of Energy Independence challenges the state to utilize 25 percent electricity and 25 percent transportation fuel from renewable sources by 2025. The Office of Energy Independence is leading Wisconsin toward the goal: Achieving 25 x 25.

The Wisconsin Guide to Building Biofuels Facilities is a tool for prospective producers and is available on line at: It provides information on permits, regulations, and agency contacts that are critical for construction and operation of a biofuels facility.

"Producing this document was an inter-agency effort and a sign of the state's commitment to effective coordination that will assist emerging industry locating in Wisconsin. This is a good first step in meeting Governor Doyle's directive to the Office of Energy Independence to facilitate work across agencies," said Judy Ziewacz. The guide, published today, was the work product of eight state agencies and several federal agencies.

The Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence will serve as a single-point of contact for citizens, businesses, local units of government and non-governmental organizations pursuing bio development, energy efficiency, and energy independence. The office will also identify federal funding opportunities and serve as the State Energy Office, working to maintain federal designation and funding.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rush Limbaugh tries to outdo Imus with "Barack the Magic Negro" song

Fresh on the heels of former radio host Dom Imus' "nappy-headed hos" remark directed at the women's collegiate basketball team from Rutgers, and his firing for same, along comes syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh playing a parody on his program in which an Al Sharpton impersonator sings a song "filled with idiotic assumptions about black people and dripping with ignorance called 'Barack the Magic Negro'." It has some people up in arms, while others are responding with mere comments like "That's typical Rush...he's an idiot...he's a racist...etc." Meanwhile, Adam Howard from The, has expressed his take on the incident in his blog column, which you can read by going here.

UW-Stevens Point considers cell phone alerts for emergencies

Following the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech University which resulted in the deaths of 32 students, colleges and universities across the country are reviewing their security procedures and how they notify students and staff of emergency situations. This morning we read that the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is considering upgrading its phone technology so that in the event of an emergency it could contact students via their cell phones, as opposed to sending emails, as was the case in Blacksburg, Virginia. You can read more about this idea by going here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Upcoming Democratic Events

[we have received this information and are happy to publish it on behalf of the local Democratic party...]

Hello Members & Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party!

Here are some ways to get involved with your party and your community:

Thursday, April 26th - Sir! No Sir! A film about the GI movement against
the war in Vietnam
6:00PM - Beaver Dam Community Library - 311 N Spring Street, Beaver Dam

Friday, April 27th - Fox Valley Democratic Unity Breakfast
7:00AM - BJ Clancey's - 3341 S Oneida St, Appleton
Info: Jef Hall - 920.203.6883 - or email

Saturday, April 28th - Winnebago Labor Council Dinner
6:00PM - Delta Restaurant - 515 N Sawyer, Oshkosh
Speakers Include: State Sen Jon Erpenbach and State Rep Gordon Hintz
Info: Steve Dedow - 920.688.2355 or email

Saturday, April 29th - Outagamie County Democratic Party Truman Dinner
6:00PM Michael's - 111 Kimball Ave, Appleton
Speakers Include: Rep Steve Kagen and State Sen Dave Hansen
Info: 920-739-0464 or email

Tuesday, May 1st - Dodge County Democratic Party Meeting
7:00PM - Pyramid of the Nile - Hwy 33, Juneau
Info: Colin Millard - 920.210.4107 or email

Thursday, May 3rd - Fox Valley Labor Council Labor/Management Dinner
6:00PM - Darboy Club - N9695 County N, Appleton
Info: Mike Hack - 920-727-1790

Saturday, May 5th - Manitowoc County Democratic Party Cheese & Wine
Tasting Fundraiser
7:00 PM - Newey's - 914 S 8th St, Manitowoc
Info: Phil Knier email

Wednesday, May 9th - Winnebago County Democratic Party Monthly Meeting
7:00PM - Delta Restaurant - 515 N Sawyer, Oshkosh
Info: Jef Hall - 920.203.6883 - or email

Monday, May 14th - Al Franken at DPW's Founder's Day Event
6:00PM - The Hilton, Milwaukee Civic Center - 509 W Wisconsin Ave,
Get your tickets at the DPW website -

Monday May 14th - Outagamie County Democratic Party Meeting
7:00PM - Columbus Club - 2531 N Richmond St, Appleton
Info: Lee Kasten & Diane Lang - 920.858.1039 or email

Friday, May 18th - Sheboygan County Democratic Party Spring Dinner
6:00PM - Windjammer Banquet Hall - 2519 S Business, Sheboygan
Info: Angela Sutkiewicz - 920.452.3717 or email

Saturday, May 19th - Dodge County Democratic Party Armed Forces Day
7:00PM - Pyramid of the Nile - Hwy 33 Juneau
Speakers Include: State Rep Andy Jorgensen and Buzz Davis from Veterans
for Peace
Info: Colin Millard - 920.210.4107 or email

Tuesday, May 22nd - Calumet County Democratic Party Memorial Day Dinner
7:00PM - Eagle's Club - 1041 E Chestnut St, Chilton
Speakers Include: Iraq War Veteran Jamie Aulik
Info: Pat Laughrin - 920.989.2002 - or email

Friday, May 25th - Fox Valley Democratic Unity Breakfast
7:00AM - BJ Clancey's - 3341 S Oneida St, Appleton
Info: Jef Hall - 920.203.6883 - or email

And finally:

DPW State Convention - June 29th & 30th
Hilton City Center - 509 W Wisconsin Ave - Milwaukee
The 2007 Democratic State Convention will be held on Friday, June 29 and
Saturday, June 30 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center
Democratic activists with questions concerning the event should contact
Mary Triick at 608.255.5172 or for more information.
Hotel reservations - call 414.271.7250.

Join the PARTY!

As always, call me with any questions:

Jef Hall
224A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 65901

Authorized and Paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party

Patients, Physicians, Providers, Businesses Endorse Governor Doyle's "Health Care for All" Agenda

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle today received endorsements from patients, physicians, health care providers, and businesses for his "Health Care for All" agenda. The Governor's bold health care reform agenda will make comprehensive health care coverage more affordable and ensure access to 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens. Governor Jim Doyle proclaimed the week of April 23, 2007 as "Cover the Uninsured Week" in Wisconsin.

"By ensuring every child has health insurance, expanding health coverage to more adults, and making health care premiums tax free, we will make Wisconsin America's health care leader," Governor Doyle said. "Best of all, at least 98 percent of our citizens will have access to health care coverage - more than any other state in the nation."

Today over 50 organizations signed on to support the Governor's health care agenda - from physicians, patients, community organizations and health care providers to businesses, farmers, and children and family advocates.

"We believe Governor Doyle's proposal is an important step to improve the health status of Wisconsin's most precious asset, its children," said Holly Falik, MD, of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAAP) executive council. "The WIAAP, representing over 700 pediatricians throughout Wisconsin, supports the Governor's efforts to provide health coverage to all children in the state."

"Increasing access of quality health insurance and implementing effective ways to reduce the burden of cost is an important component to improving the health of Milwaukee citizens," said Bevan K. Baker, commissioner of health for the city of Milwaukee. "Cover the Uninsured Week is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of the growing number of individuals who are without health insurance."

"The state's small businesses and farmers are clearly excited about the Governor's initiative," said Wayne Corey, executive director of Wisconsin Independent Businesses. "We believe this will be the beginning of significant health care reform in the State of Wisconsin."

The Governor's BadgerCare Plus program offers health coverage to every child and more pregnant women in Wisconsin by streamlining Medicaid, BadgerCare and Healthy Start into one comprehensive program. Low income families would simply enroll their children into BadgerCare Plus, and families with higher incomes will be able to buy into the program for as little as $10 a month.

BadgerCare Plus will also expand coverage to adults making up to 200 percent of the poverty level, whether they have children or not, helping an additional 71,000 hardworking men and women get the health care they need.

Governor Doyle's budget also makes all health care premiums tax-free in Wisconsin. Any family that makes taxable contributions to their health insurance would be able to fully deduct those premiums.

Governor Doyle is also investing $30 million to help doctors and hospitals use technology to eliminate costly medical errors. He will implement an electronic medical records system statewide that will allow doctors to share patient information, reducing medical error and redundant care.

So more low income people will be able to access health care, Governor Doyle is increasing the rate that health care providers are reimbursed for providing services to Medicaid patients. This proposal will save the taxpayers money because people will be able to get preventive care rather than waiting to seek care until costly emergency services are needed.

To improve public health for all people in Wisconsin, the Governor has launched comprehensive statewide anti-smoking initiative that will ban smoking, increase the cost of cigarettes, and expand smoking cessation programs. The Governor's anti-smoking initiative employs proven strategies to reduce smoking and save lives.

The Governor also plans to provide all children in Wisconsin with access to comprehensive dental care by addressing the shortage of providers that offer care, growing successful programs targeting underserved kids and families, and creating a new statewide system that will expand access to dental care for children and families across Wisconsin.

Governor Doyle's "Health Care for All" agenda has the support of the following organizations and individuals:

ABC for Health
AIDS Network of Wisconsin
AIDS Resource Center
AARP Wisconsin
American Cancer Society, Midwest Division
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Lung Association of Wisconsin
Americans for Democratic Action
Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Bevan Baker, Commissioner, City of Milwaukee Health Department
Citizen Action
Coalition for Wisconsin Health
Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG)
Community Alliance of Providers of Wisconsin (CAPOW)
David Kindig, Emeritus Professor of Population Health Sciences, Healthy Wisconsin Council co-chair
Epic Systems
Fr. Thomas Mueller, St. Cyril and Methodist Orthodox Church
Greater Wisconsin Committee
Jim Riordan, President and CEO, Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) Health Insurance
Michael Weiden, Healthy Wisconsin Council co-chair
Mickey Judkins, Details
Planned Parenthood
Symphony Corporation
Wisconsin Counties Association
Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives
Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians
Wisconsin Association of Family and Children's Agencies
Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards
Wisconsin Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Wisconsin Chiropractic Association
Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF)
Wisconsin Council on Churches
Wisconsin Dental Hygienist's Association
Wisconsin Education Association (WEA) Trust
Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC)
Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals
Wisconsin Independent Businesses Inc (WIB)
Wisconsin Jewish Conference
Wisconsin Optometric Association
Wisconsin Personal Services Association (WPSA)
Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association
Wisconsin Public Health Association
Working Families Win
Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

To add your name to the growing list of supporters of Governor Doyle's "Health Care for All" plan, call (608) 266-1212.

The FCC: trying to make the case for restricting TV violence

The Federal Communications Commission is urging lawmakers to consider regulations that would restrict violent television programs to late evening. In a much-anticipated report, the FCC has concluded that the program ratings system and technology intended to help parents block offensive programs has failed to protect children from being regularly exposed to violence. It's also recommending that consumers be allowed to buy or subscribe to cable channels a la carte - either inidividually or in smaller bundles than they're presently being offered - so they have a greater say in what channels they do or do not want. Most cable and satellite providers currently offer dozens of channels as part of a package and the premium movie and sports channels are predominantly what's offered on a pick and choose basis.

The American Civil Liberties Union is opposed to such legislation, saying the government should not have to "parent the parents."

You can read more about the report and its recommendations by going here (though you may have to be a registered user of the New York Times web site).

How do you feel about this issue? Vote in our online poll.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Conflict and War event tomorrow at UW-O

[we have received this information and are pleased to publish it here...]

In addition to the great Earth Week Events this week at UW Oshkosh, there is an important panel on conflict and war, comprised of students from around the world who have experienced the effects of war. The program is Wednesday, April 25 from 5pm - 7pm in North Halsey Room 57. (click on the image of the poster to enlarge it, if need be.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Governor Doyle Proclaims "Cover the Uninsured Week"

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle has proclaimed the week of April 23, 2007 as "Cover the Uninsured Week" in Wisconsin. In his budget, the Governor announced his bold health care reform agenda to make comprehensive health care coverage more affordable and ensure access to 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens.

"By expanding health coverage to children and adults, and helping reduce the cost for hardworking families, we plan to make Wisconsin America's health care leader," Governor Doyle said. "At least 98 percent of our citizens will have access to health care coverage - more than any other state in the nation."

The Governor's BadgerCare Plus program will streamline Medicaid, BadgerCare and Healthy Start into one comprehensive program. The plan will offer health coverage to every child and more pregnant women 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.

BadgerCare Plus will also expand coverage to adults making up to 200 percent of the poverty level, whether they have children or not, helping an additional 71,000 hardworking men and women get the health care they need.

Governor Doyle is creating a purchasing pool to help businesses - particularly small businesses - afford catastrophic health coverage for employees.

Governor Doyle is also investing $30 million to help doctors and hospitals use technology to eliminate costly medical errors. He will implement an electronic medical records system statewide that will allow doctors to share patient information, reducing medical error and redundant care.

A copy of the proclamation is available at:

For more information about BadgerCare Plus, visit:

Also noteworthy today, as part of his budget Governor Doyle proposed requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for autistic children. Today Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson introduced similar legislation that would require group insurance policies to provide treatment and care for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Governor Jim Doyle made the following statement supporting this proposal:

"We have a special and sacred obligation to all the children of our state. This proposal will help provide the care and support that children across our state living with autism need and deserve.

"I hope the Legislature will work in a bipartisan way and side with the children and families living with this disease, and not with the big insurance companies."

Autism treatment services are already covered by insurers in Kentucky and Indiana and resulted in a less than 1% percent bump in insurance premiums in those states.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Natural Balance recalls venison dog, cat foods

Natural Balance Pet Foods recalled two kinds of pet food after receiving reports of animals vomiting and experiencing kidney problems, the Food and Drug Administration said earlier this week. The recall includes all date codes of Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food.

For the latest on the pet food recall visit the following site. Meanwhile, the FDA has a complete listing of all affected dog and cat foods being recalled at its web site here or at the web site for the Humane Society of the United States.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Schools consider banning peanuts, peanut butter

Everyone knows a favorite food for many kids, especially younger ones, is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But believe it or not, because many kids are allergic to peanuts, some schools around the country have actually debated whether to ban peanuts, including peanut butter from their campuses. It comes on the heels of even more schools debating whether to ban soda - which some have done - and has been a pretty contentious issue for some school boards. You can read more about this issue, weigh in on the discussion and participate in an online poll about it by visiting here.

Governor Doyle Highlights Next Phase of Fox River Cleanup

DE PERE - Governor Jim Doyle today kicked off the next phase of cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated sediment in the Lower Fox River adjacent to the DePere Dam. This phase of the project will remove approximately 150,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment, found downstream and west of the DePere Dam.

"Wisconsin is home to some of the most beautiful lakes, streams, and scenery in the world," Governor Doyle said. "As stewards of the great land we're blessed with, we're responsible for maintaining and preserving its beauty, and need to take action when areas need cleaning. We've worked hard to make sure this project is done right, and as quickly as possible, so that this region - and all of Wisconsin - will see the economic growth that a clean Fox River will bring."

While the area near the De Pere dam contains only about 2 percent of the sediment that needs to be remediated in the lower river, it contains almost 10 percent of the total PCB mass in the Fox River. PCB contamination levels in this deposit are up to 3,000 parts per million (ppm). The cleanup goal is to remove all sediment with PCB concentrations greater than one ppm - the most aggressive standard used in any PCB cleanup project to date.

Last April, Governor Doyle announced that NCR and U.S. Paper Mills agreed to design and implement the cleanup project for the De Pere hotspot, instead of waiting for an overall agreement to be reached for cleaning up the remainder of the river, from Appleton to Green Bay.

The Governor encouraged the responsible parties to come to a final agreement on the Fox River cleanup, so as to enable continuation of the project next year, and encouraged leaders to reach a disposal agreement for PCBs removed from the river, to ensure that the cleanup process can be completed in a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable financial obligation.

Governor Doyle thanked the Department of Natural Resources for taking the lead on the state's behalf, and commended all parties involved for their hard work.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Governor Doyle asks Wisconsin citizens to honor Day of Mourning for victims at Virginia Tech

At the request of Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, Governor Jim Doyle today called on all citizens of Wisconsin to observe one minute of silence, tomorrow, Friday, April 20, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. CDT to honor those who were killed Monday at Virginia Tech University, as a sign of respect, and solidarity with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"Our friends and fellow citizens in Virginia have suffered a terrible tragedy - a loss that is not isolated to their state, but affects all American citizens," Governor Doyle said. "I urge everyone in Wisconsin to recognize this moment of silence, and stand united with our friends in Virginia, and across the country, as our hearts go out to the friends and families of those who were killed. They will never be forgotten."

Governor Doyle is asking that bells around the state ring at 11:00 a.m. Friday in honor of the Virginia Tech victims.

Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine declared Friday a statewide Day of Mourning in Virginia and sent a letter to fellow governors asking them to join the effort.

"As this tragedy impacts not just Virginia, I encourage you to consider standing with Virginia," Governor Kaine wrote in an April 18 letter to other governors. "It is clear that difficult days lie ahead as we embrace the grieving process that is sure to come. Again, I thank you for your thoughts and prayers and ask that you keep Virginia Tech in your hearts and minds as we all work together to overcome this horrific tragedy."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What can we do about Wisconsin's health care crisis?

If the current health care crisis and what to do about it are things on your mind, like it is so many others, plan to attend the Winnebago County Community Forum on Health Care Reform.

Did you know, for example, that:

1. One in 10 of your neighbors lacks health insurance?
2. Catastrophic health care costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in Wisconsin?
3. More employers are offering less health care coverage because of rising costs?

Come and hear about the crisis in health insurance coverage and the current proposals for reform.

Representatives of the Wisconsin Health Security Act, the Wisconsin Health Care Partnership Plan and the Wisconsin Health Plan will present their proposals, answer your questions and hear your concerns during a non-partisan educational event.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2007 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 200 Church Street in Neenah OR on Saturday, April 21, 2007 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at St. Paul UCC, 1250 Leonard Point Road, Oshkosh.

This event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and ESTHER. For more information, contact Peter Bakken by email at bakken@wichurches.ow.

How to help stop global warming

Want to do something to stop global warming? Here are 10 simple things you can do and an example of how much carbon dioxide you'll save doing them.
1. Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

2. Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool, or take mass transportation more often. You'll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don't drive.

3. Recycle more. You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

4. Check your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

5. Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Use less hot water by installing a low-flow showerhead (which saves 350 pounds of carbon dioxide per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (which saves 500 pounds of CO2 a year).

6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. You can save 1,200 pounds of CO2 if you cut down on garbage by just 10 percent.

7. Adjust your thermostat. Moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer could save you about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year; not to mention the financial savings on your heating and cooling bill.

8. Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

9. Turn off electronic devices. Simply turning off your TV, DVD player, stereo and computer when you're not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

10. Spread the word about what each person can do. And encourage your friends to rent or buy "An Inconvenient Truth." For more information, visit

Doyle in support of smoke-free legislation

Legislation to ban smoking in all public places across Wisconsin - S.B. 150, known as the Breathe Free Wisconsin Act - was introduced to the Legislature today by Senate President Fred Risser. In January, Governor Doyle called on the Legislature to pass a statewide smoking ban that is fair and equitable - banning smoking in all public buildings, workplaces, restaurants, and taverns.

Governor Jim Doyle made the following statement supporting the legislation:

"Throughout my career in public life, I've fought hard to protect our kids, and all citizens, from the ugliness of tobacco. Too many individuals and families have suffered terrible pain and losses, only to benefit big tobacco companies.

"We've made a lot of progress over the last few decades to make places like hospitals and office buildings smokefree, and get Joe Camel out of kids' magazines. But too many of our kids are still lighting up for the first time, too many lives are being cut short, and the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses continues to drive up health care costs for everyone, and put a squeeze on businesses and families across Wisconsin.

"Today, in 2007, we need to take the next step, continue moving in the right direction, and ban smoking from all public places in Wisconsin. Not only will this prevent more people from taking up smoking and help others quit - in the long term, it will help control the soaring costs of health care, and bring relief to all Wisconsin citizens.

"If so many other states can do it, and the entire country of Ireland, Wisconsin can surely be completely smokefree."

Meanwhile, according to Associated Press, the chances of a statewide smoking ban clearing the Legislature this year appear to hinge on whether smoking in bars and taverns will still be allowed. You can read more about that by going here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

AT & T, cable industry lobbying hard for video franchising bill

We've been talking about the proposed video franchising bill for a few weeks already and recently devoted a segment on Eye on Oshkosh to this proposed legislation and why it is important for cable access viewers to get involved as the lawmakers hear arguments and the legislation takes form.

In this morning's Capital Times, there was an interesting piece on the heavy hand that both AT & T and the Wisconsin cable industry as a whole are playing in this legislation. You can read more about it by going here. You can also get involved in the fight for reasonable amendments to the proposal by visiting

Meanwhile, the Assembly Energy & Utilities Committee had been expected to vote on the bill this morning as one of the steps the bill must take before making its way to the Legislature and Senate.

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that telecommunications giant AT&T donated tens of thousands of dollars to Wisconsin lawmakers as it pushed a bill that could pave its way into the cable market. This is a bill that, without the proper amendments, could have serious repercussions on the OCAT channels in the Oshkosh area. You can read the latest by going here.

Rep. Hintz to visit with Oshkosh senior citizens

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be holding office hours at the Oshkosh Senior Center to discuss a variety of topics, including the recent decisions made regarding the SeniorCare program, Medicaid, and the 2007-2009 State Budget. The event is open to anyone and the public is encouraged to attend.

Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to contact the office of Representative Hintz toll-free at 888-534-0054, via e-mail at, or at home 232-0805.

Who: Representative Gordon Hintz

What: Senior Center-Office Hours

When: Friday, April 20 9:00am-12:00pm

Where: Oshkosh Area Senior Center, 200 North Campbell Road, Oshkosh

Rep. Hintz announces dates for Budget Forums

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz has announced the dates and locations of his series of forums relating to the largest programs in the 2007-2009 State Budget.

The forums will be open to the public. Local leaders in city and county government, health care, education, and corrections have been invited to participate. Questions and discussion are encouraged. Dates, topics, and locations of the forums are listed below.

People with questions or comments about the hearings are encouraged to contact the office of Representative Hintz toll-free at 888-534-0054 or via e-mail at

UW System
April 30, 6-8PM
UW-Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union Room 227 A&B

K-12 Education
May 14, 6:30-8:30PM
Oshkosh Area School District Administration Building

May 21, 6:30-8:30PM
Oshkosh Senior Center-Willow Room

Shared Revenue
June 4, 6:30-8:30PM
Location TBA

June 11, 6:30-8:30PM
Oshkosh Public Library

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oshkosh begins researching sex offender residency ordinance

In watching last Tuesday’s meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council and reading this morning’s Oshkosh Northwestern we see that councilor Dennis McHugh is interested in exploring the possibility of having a city ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders may live. It’s an interesting concept, but I believe the city needs to approach this subject very carefully.

I understand that some sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. I also understand that some can be. It really depends on what one’s exact diagnosis is. I also think it is extremely important to understand the varying degrees of sex offenses. It can be the case of person who preys on young children or it can be something as innocent as two teens having consensual sex with one another. Or how about the man who believes his girlfriend to be of legal age – she even uses a fake ID to get into bars – but it turns out she is still a minor. Some of these cases are not what I think of when I think of a “sex offender” and yet, under Wisconsin law, every one of them can be and have been considered a sex offender. If convicted of their "offense" they then must register. Do we really feel we need protection from each of these kinds of person? I certainly don't.

I also understand there is a natural fear when we hear the words "sex offender." I, too, was initially concerned several years ago when such an offender was going to move into my neighborhood. But I listened to what the police department said and did some research on my own. I came to the realization that it is important to know where the offenders are living so we can be better prepared. If we know where they’re at, every one can keep a better eye on them and their activities. We can also be more mindful of our own activities in such a situation. And if we are able to learn the specifics of their offense, it can equip us even more.

We also have to realize that there are times when a court may dictate where an offender lives. Does the city really need to be butting heads with the courts over issues of constitutionality, etc.? Just a few months ago, the constitutionality of such laws was the subject of an in-depth piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Finally, I think we should also be mindful of the fact that if more and more cities enact some kind of residency ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders live, they will eventually have few, if any, places to choose from. There is a city, I believe it is in Florida, where the local leaders had to make exceptions to their ordinances to allow registered offenders to live under a bridge because they could not find any other housing under the residency ordinance. So if we continue to restrict where registered offenders may live, will we end up with a worse societal problem? I think that very distinct possibility exists.

According to the Northwestern, we currently have 160 registered sex offenders living within the Oshkosh city limits, and there don't seem to be any real problems as a result of that. Instead, we seem to have other types of crime.

I am not by any means downplaying the seriousness of the offense committed by the kind of sex offender who goes after innocent children, even adults. And I am all for protecting children and the rest of society from the true deviants, especially those who cannot be rehabilitated. But I also advocate using common-sense and being mindful that being armed with knowledge is sometimes the best defense – and offense – we can have. Let’s not forget, many sex offenders commit their crimes within their own families and there are plenty of others who are sex offenders who we don’t even know about because they’ve never been caught. Remember too, some of our worst sex offenders have come from our Catholic churches.

Bottom line: To our city staff and Common Council members, explore the possibilities, but if drafting an ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders live, be careful, use common sense and consider the different types of “sex offender” and understand the benefit of knowing where they’re at as opposed to not.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Renewable Energy 101 workshop for communities

[we have received this via email and are pleased to publish it...]

Sounds like a great program for our city officials and activists:

Subject: Free Renewable Energy 101 workshop at UW-Fox Valley, Menasha

Renewable Energy 101, a free full-day workshop on the UW-Fox Valley campus

Friday, April 20, 2007, 9 to 4 PM in the Emeritus Room, UW-Fox Valley, 1478 Midway Rd, Menasha, WI 54952

Basic Renewable Energy Education for Universities and Communities

The attached Brochures descibe a number of state and local organizations are working together to bring this workshop to the Fox Valley.

I encourage folks to let me know if they plan to attend any significant portion of the day so that we can make sure to have enough printed resources available for everyone.

To register, send the following to Joy Perry at or call 920-832-2653

Your Name:
Daytime Phone:

We're excited about this workshop and hope to see you there. Please let me know if you have any questions. Please distribute as widely as possible. We think that the workshop will be a great way to learn more about the nuts and bolts of various renewable energy technologies and their applications, and also to find out about some local RE initiatives.

Joy B. Perry

Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley
1478 Midway Road
Menasha, WI 54952-1297
920.832.2653 (voice)
920.832.2674 (fax)

Esslinger "smoking" party sends wrong message

By now I think many people have seen the picture of the sign from Paul Esslinger’s election night party at Kodiak Jack’s which read “Paul Esslinger Party Smoking Allowed.”

Some people have questioned whether this was a violation of the smoking ban in effect for restaurants in the city of Oshkosh. While some believe it wasn’t because the party was considered “private,” others believe it did violate the law because they say there were certain criteria with respect to what constitutes a “private party” or “private function” and a “private hall” that were not met. That matter is one of a legal nature and will have to be argued by attorneys, should it ever get to that point. But the problem as I see it is also a moral one, not to mention a question of both leadership and responsibility.

Mr. Esslinger wanted the additional leadership role of mayor, but I don’t believe he showed much leadership that night. Instead, I think he sent a message that basically said “City ordinance and public health issues be damned, as long as my group of friends and supporters are comfortable.” I doubt that's actually Mr. Esslinger's feeling, but it's the message conveyed by the actions that I'm talking about here. And frankly, I just don't see how one could glean anything different from the photo and activities of that evening.

Let’s keep in mind, this event came just one week after the smoking ban issue was in front of the Common Council because of a related concern. Also, by Michelle Monte’s own admission on Babblemur’s blog “While my, Paul’s, and Dan’s campaign parties were declared “smokable,” few were actually smoking….”

That comment, then, begs the following questions: If so few people were smoking and the desire to smoke was apparently important to so few people, was it necessary to even “allow” smoking? Could these few smokers not have stepped outside or refrained from smoking during the course of a few hours? Also of importance here is whether or not there was there a separation between the room in which the Esslinger party (along with those of school board candidates Dan Becker and Michelle Monte) was held and where the general public in the rest of the establishment congregate. If not, I believe the spirit of the law was certainly broken and perhaps the law itself because it caused others not at the party to be exposed to second-hand smoke. And certainly those non-smokers in attendance at the party were exposed to second-hand smoke, as well.

We recently taped a show with two people from Breathe Free Oshkosh and in talking to them before-hand, one of the questions they raised was whether signs for these functions read that they were private parties, or could anyone wander into the area? After all, most election night parties do not require an invitation to get in and the general public frequently ends up mingling with the party attendees.

I’ve heard from some people that there was no separation between the areas accessible to the general public and the parties being held there – that there is not even a way to accomplish that as Kodiak Jack’s is currently set up. Again, I will leave the legalities of this issue to attorneys, but it just seems to me this was a poor choice by Mr. Esslinger. I believe that as a Common Council member and a mayor-wannabe, he should be leading by example. Clearly, this was not such an example.

(photo taken by Laura May, published here courtesy of the Oshkosh Northwestern, originally published in its online version on 4-9-07)

UW-O’s Chancellor Wells’ Concept for Living, Learning and Serving Community project reinvigorated

Five years ago, UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells proposed a Living, Learning and Serving Community for the City of Oshkosh, ideally located along the riverfront to help connect the campus and the community at large. The idea never really got off first base, but now, with new developers involved in the Fox River waterfront area along Marion Road, the idea is re-emerging, and with more vigor than before.

A letter of agreement was signed earlier this month between Wells and officials from the Akcess Acquisiton Group (the developers working on the waterfront) and the Massachusetts-based firm “Campus Continuum.” The agreement basically provides for a study to be conducted to help determine whether it would be beneficial for a six dozen housing units to have university facility access.

It is believed that there would also be some provisions made for some classes and internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as practical experiences, all offered within the community project.

You can read more information about the concept and what it would mean for Oshkosh by going to the Advance Titan, Oshkosh News Network and Talk to Tony.

Help ensure adequate HUD funding

[we have received this via email and are happy to publish it. Please note that the timeline necessary for taking action is today, April 12...]

It appears that one of our most vulnerable populations (people with significant disabilities) is at great risk of losing a substantial amount of funding for housing related activities. Please note the April 12th time line for notifying your Senators.

Action Alert: Help Ensure Adequate HUD Funding - Call Your Senators by April 12!

Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Gordon Smith (R-OH) are circulating a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Christopher Bond (R-MO), urging them to reject President Bush’s proposed budget cuts to HUD’s Section 202 Elderly Housing and Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities Programs.

Their letter asks appropriators to fund the Section 811 program at $240 million and the Section 202 program at $750 million in fiscal year 2008. The President’s proposed fiscal year 2008 budget suggests a $112 million cut in the only federal program that builds new units of accessible and affordable housing for low- income people with significant disabilities.

WHAT: Contact your Senators and ask them to sign on to Senator Kohl’s and Smith’s letter BY APRIL 12th!

Tell the Senators’ staff that if the Senators wish to be added, they can contact Cherie Wilson ( in Senator Kohl’s office or Mike Smith ( in Senator Smith’s office.

To determine contact information for your Senators, go to, click on the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner (“Find Your Senators”), and select your home state.

WHEN: NOW!! Senators must sign on to the letter by THURSDAY, APRIL 12!

Ji Li Jiang, author of Red Scarf Girl coming to UW-O

[we have received the following information via email and are happy to publish it here...]

College of Education and Human Resources Cultural & Diversity Committee Presents A Faculty College By:

Ji-li Jiang
Author of Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

"Against Forgetting?”

April 16, 2007
Reeve Union 215

Morning Workshop
10 a.m - 11 a.m.
Afternoon Workshop
12 noon to 1 p.m.

Hear about her experiences growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Classes, students, faculty and staff are welcome and encouraged to attend! Please R.S.V.P. to Sue Fondrie at

For more information on Ji-Li Jiang please go to:

Upcoming events for interested citizens and members of the Winnebago County Democratic Party

Hello Members and Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party,

Here are some upcoming events in the area:

Thursday, April 12th - Fond du Lac County Democratic Party Women's Lunch! - 12:00 PM

Join Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager And Special Guest Fond du Lac County District Attorney Michael O'Rourke
Fond du Lac County Democratic Party

Where: Cibo Steaks and Spirits (back room) - The Ramada Hotel - 1 N. Main St, Fond du Lac

Democratic men and women alike are invited to join in on a discussion of issues facing Fond du Lac, our state, and our nation.

Reservations are advised, but not required.

Reservations for the April meeting can be made by calling Peg at (920)922-6506.

Monday, April 16th - 6:00 PM - Barack Obama in Milwaukee
Barack Obama will be in Milwaukee on Monday, April 16 for the Wisconsin kickoff of his presidential campaign special event!

Milwaukee Theater
500 W. Kilbourn Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Tickets cost $25, and proceeds will help the Obama campaign.

Saturday, April 21st - 9:00 AM - 6th Congressional District Convention
VFW Hall - 136 N Farmer St - Princeton, WI

9:00 AM: Registration Opens
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM: Invited Speakers
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM: 6th CD Officer Nominations
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00PM to 4:00 PM: Elections & Resolutions

Friday, April 27th - 7:00 AM - Fox Valley Dems Unity Breakfast

Join local Democratic Party Members for conversation and breakfast!

B J Clancy's - 331 S Oneida St, Appleton

Saturday, April 28th - 6:00 PM - Winnebago County Labor Council 6th Annual Labor Solidarity Dinner

Delta Restaurant
515 N Sawyer - Oshkosh

Speakers include:
-State Sen Jon Erpenbach
-State Rep Gordon Hintz

Contact Steve Dedow - or 920-688-2355 for info

Sunday, April 29th - Outagamie County Democratic Party Truman Event - 6:00 PM

Michael's - Kimball Ave, Appleton

Contact Kathy Groat for info:
920-739-0464 or by email at

Wednesday, May 9th - Winnebago County Democratic Party Membership Meeting - 7:00PM

Delta Restaurant
515 N Sawyer - Oshkosh

Monday, May 14th - DPW Founders Day Fundraiser Featuring Al Franken

Hilton Milwaukee City Center - 515 W Wisconsin Ave - Milwaukee
Pre Event: 5:30 p.m.
Reception: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Get your tickets here:

Join the party today! Go to

As always, contact me at anytime with questions

Jef Hall
Chair, Winnebago County Democratic Party
2nd Vice Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin
224A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Authorized and Paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Governor Doyle Formally Requests Six Month Extension of SeniorCare

Governor Jim Doyle today formally requested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) give Wisconsin a six month extension of SeniorCare. Last week, the state received word from the federal government that after June 30 of this year, Wisconsin would no longer be allowed to offer the program.

"Today, I have requested a six month extension of the SeniorCare program, so that 105,000 of our citizens will not lose their drug coverage in the next 90 days," Governor Doyle said. "Making prescription drugs affordable remains a top priority. This extension will give us time to work with the federal government and leaders in the Legislature to implement a solution and give seniors all the information they need to get the coverage they deserve."

A letter to HHS, submitted by Kevin Hayden, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, on behalf of Governor Doyle, requesting the extension said, "While I am sure you can understand our disappointment with the decision not to renew this cost-effective, successful program, Wisconsin is committed to working with you to achieve the best possible result for our seniors as we move forward."

According to state analysis, the federal government pays $617 a year, on average, to subsidize someone on SeniorCare, compared with nearly $1,200 a year for someone with Part D coverage.

In October, Governor Doyle submitted a formal request to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt to extend SeniorCare through June 30, 2010. Until last week, Governor Doyle did not receive a reply from Secretary Leavitt - including any request for additional information - other than a brief acknowledgement that HHS received the request.

The Governor made this request a year after personally negotiating an agreement with Secretary Leavitt to allow the SeniorCare program to continue through at least June 30, 2007. Absent that agreement, the SeniorCare program could have been terminated as of January 1, 2006. The Governor and the Secretary also agreed that SeniorCare participants will be exempt from any financial penalties if they decide to move into a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan at a later date.

According to analysis by AARP Wisconsin, more than 94 percent of seniors are better off on SeniorCare than they would be under Medicare Part D because the co-payments are lower and the coverage is more comprehensive. In addition, the state uses its bargaining power to negotiate the lowest prices for prescription drugs, while Congress made it illegal for the federal government to bargain for lower prices.

In the last year, thousands of Wisconsin seniors chose SeniorCare over Medicare Part D and SeniorCare's enrollment surged by more than 25 percent because enrollment in the SeniorCare program costs just $30 per year, the application is one page, and there are no asset tests for eligibility. Only income is counted.

A copy of Secretary Hayden's letter is available at:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Legislation would ban political 'robocalls'

If your household is anything like mine, election time brings not only multiple mailings for what seems like practically every political candidate and issue on the ballot, but a healthy dose of automated phone calls from a vast array of characters, ranging from local and state candidates to former President Bill Clinton, all urging us to go vote for the candidate of their choosing. If one state legislator has his way, that could become a thing of the past.

State Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, announced today that he plans to introduce legislation that will ban the use of automated, computerized phone calls, known as robocalls.

Robocalls are calls dialed by a computer to a large number of telephones to deliver a prerecorded message. Use of these kinds of calls has been steadily increasing, much to the frustration of many phone owners. Black believes they have become an intrusion into our personal privacy and plans to bring forth his legislation sometime this month.

For more on the bill and possible exemptions, see this article. Then vote in our online poll, letting us know your feelings about robocalls and the proposed legislation.

Governor Doyle Details Rural Schools Initiative

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

SUPERIOR, MERRILL - Governor Jim Doyle today detailed a Rural Schools initiative aimed at ensuring that kids in rural communities have an equal chance at a great education. The initiative, part of Governor Doyle's budget for the next two years, represents significant reforms in Wisconsin's school financing system, including measures to address declining enrollment, support school transportation needs, provide additional special education funding, and other measures to strengthen rural education. The Governor made the announcements at Cooper Elementary School in Superior and Washington Elementary School in Merrill.

"Rural schools play a vital role in our state, yet they face unique challenges," Governor Doyle said. "I believe that every kid, whether they come from a rural area, the city, or the suburbs, deserves the same chance to get a great education. These reforms will ensure that rural schools are treated fairly, and can prepare our kids for the jobs of the future."

Addressing Declining Enrollment

Declining enrollment is one of the biggest problems facing school districts across Wisconsin. The state currently has limits on the total amount that schools can spend based on a per pupil amount. When a school's enrollment goes down, its allowable spending goes down. Under the Governor's plan, schools will be able to receive more revenue to offset a one year decline in enrollment. For a district that saw steady declines year after year, as many districts do, this will help soften the blow and give them added flexibility, so that they never face a devastating loss in any one year.

Reforming the School Transportation Formula

To provide more support for students living in rural areas who have to travel more than 12 miles to get to school, Governor Doyle is increasing school transportation reimbursement rates by $900,000 a year. This reform will help give rural schools more flexibility in their spending limits, allowing them to focus more of their spending on classroom resources.

Lifting Low Revenue Districts

As another step to give rural school districts more flexibility in their spending, Governor Doyle is raising the revenue ceiling by $600 per student over the next two years, and making sure schools have the resources they need for their students.

Increasing Special Education Funding

To provide more support for students in special education programs, Governor Doyle is increasing special education funding by more than $50 million - the largest increase in support for special education in nearly 15 years.

Increasing SAGE Funding

Smaller class sizes during a student's earliest years in school are critical for a good start to their education. That's why Governor Doyle launched the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) initiative - his plan to reduce class sizes from kindergarten through third grade. Today, Governor Doyle proposed increasing SAGE funding to $2,250 per student, to help raise student achievement, and create more opportunities for a good education.

The Nation Student Writing Contest

[we have received the following and are happy to publish it here...]

We're pleased to announce the second annual Nation Student Writing Contest and hope you can help us spread the word. Sponsored by the BIL Charitable Trust to recognize and reward the best in student writing and thinking, the contest's deadline is May 31, 2007.


We're looking for original, thoughtful, provocative student voices to tell us what is the most important issue for young people in the 2008 presidential campaign. Essays should not exceed 800 words and should be original, unpublished work that demonstrates clear thinking and superior quality of expression and craftsmanship.

The contest is open to all high school students and undergraduates at American schools, colleges and universities. Submissions must be original, unpublished work (the writing can have been published in a student publication).

We'll select five finalists (including at least one high-schooler) and one winner, who will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize and a Nation subscription. The winning essay will be published in the magazine and featured on our website. The five finalists will be awarded $200 each and Nation subscriptions, and their entries will be published at The contest is open to students at US high schools and to undergraduates at US colleges and universities. Entries (only one per student) will be accepted through May 31. A winner will be announced by September 4. Please send entries via email to:

For last year's inaugural contest, we received more than 700 submissions from high school and college students in forty-one states. The entries arrived from big public institutions and tiny liberal arts colleges, from rural high schools and penitentiary writing programs, from Indian reservations and large urban centers. Read Sarah Stillman's winning essay, Project Corpus Callosum, by visiting

And check out the StudentNation page ( ) to see info on all of The Nation's student projects, programs and initiatives.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Wal-Mart treats join pet food recall

As we entered the weekend, the pet food recall was expanded even further, to now include Wal-Mart dog biscuits. You can read about the latest by going here. Also, there is a wonderful database online that pet owners can visit to see if their pet’s food or treats are on the Food and Drug Administration’s recall list. You can access that data base by going here. Finally, you can go directly to the Food and Drug Administration's web site for complete and up-to-date information.

Catholic Relief Services official to speak in Oshkosh on April 19

Scott LeFevre, Catholic Relief Services Regional Representative for the Horn of Africa, will present “Catholic Relief Services Humanitarian Services in Darfur and Sudan” at two venues in Oshkosh on April 19.

From 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., he will appear at the Newman Center, University of Wisconsin, 750 Elmwood Ave., Oshkosh. A light meal will be served with the presentation. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh faculty and staff are also invited to schedule a visit by LeFevre to university groups through Courtney Watson, Campus Minister, 920-233-5555, email

From 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., LeFevre will appear at St. Frances Cabrini Elementary School Gymnasium, 602 Merritt Ave., Oshkosh. For more information about the evening appearance, please contact Crystal Delwich, St. Mary’s Human Concerns Committee, 920-233-1336.

As Catholic Relief Service’s Regional Representative for the Horn of Africa, LeFevre is the leading contact between Catholic Relief Service staff on the ground in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the national office. Prior to this assignment, LeFevre was Catholic Relief Services Country Representative to Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela (2000-6), Assistant Country Representative for Kenya-Tanzania (1997-2000), and Project Manager Rwanda (1995-97). LeFevre holds a BA in engineering from Pennsylvania University and a double MS from University of Pennsylvania (Energy Management and Policy) and the French Petroleum Institute (Economics).

Both events are free of charge and open to the public. For more information about LeFevre’s Oshkosh tour, please contact Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem., Social Concerns Director, 920-272-8299/877-500-3580 x8299, email

Proposed cable access bill and its affect on you

There is a bill moving through the legislature in Madison that will impact cable access channels throughout Wisconsin. The degree to which channels and their programming are affected depends largely on the type of amendments that are attached to the measure, which is expected to pass in some form. We recently taped a program with OCAT Media Services Director Jon Urben, on which he discusses the proposed legislation and how it could affect OCAT programming and viewers. The draft of this legislation continues to evolve, and is doing so quickly. To see the most recent version, visit Cable access viewers are also asked to write or call their representatives in Madison. Rep. Gordon Hintz can be reached via email at or by calling his office at 608-266-2254. Sen. Carol Roessler can be reached via email at or by phone at Toll-free: 1-(888) 736-8720. Because of the speed with which this legislation is moving, we’re told it’s important people write or call as soon as possible.

History project looking for citizen input

We recently taped a program with Dr. Stephen Kercher from the history department at UW-Oshkosh. Kercher is heading up the Black Thursday Oral History Project and is looking for people to share their memories of Black Thursday, Nov. 21, 1968. You can learn more information about the events of Black Thursday and this project by going here and here. In addition to looking for people who can tell their own stories about what they remember of that day, donations are also being accepted to help fund the project.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Election results, April 3 general election

The votes are tabulated and the results are in from today's general election.

Elected Mayor of the City of Oshkosh:

Frank Tower

Elected to the Oshkosh Common Council:

Bryan Bain (inc.)
Tony Palmeri
Jessica King

Elected to the Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education:

Dan Becker
Karen Bowen (inc.)

Congratulations to all the winners. May you serve with pride, dignity and honor, never forgetting for whom you work.

To those who lost, you can be proud of giving it your best shot and taking an active role in the political process.

One side note: Because council member-elect Tony Palmeri is also my co-host on the show, we will likely do some "restructuring" in order to accommodate his need to have time to honor his professional commitments, while also giving his council position the time and diligence necessary to properly serve Oshkosh citizens. While exact details certainly have not been worked out yet, preliminary conversations were had which discussed Tony still serving in a part-time, if you will, capacity. Dan Rylance has said he would be thrilled to co-host the rest of the time and I would be honored to have him. Stay tuned for more details.

April update from Rep. Gordon Hintz

[we have received the following from Gordon Hintz and are pleased to publish it here...]

Dear Friend,

It has been a busy but enjoyable few months in the State Legislature. I hope everyone who participated in the campaign will remain engaged in the legislative process as we debate the budget and a number of other issues. I want to thank everyone for their support and feedback and give you an update about things going on and coming up.

I will be hosting a public forum on the 2007-2009 Proposed State Budget this Thursday, April 5, from 7pm-9pm, at the Oshkosh Public Library downstairs rooms A & B. We will have an overview of the budget, discuss new proposals, answer questions and discuss what it means for Oshkosh. This will be the first in a series of sessions aimed at involving people more in our state decisions. If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope you can make it.

I was appointed to serve on Colleges & Universities, Urban & Local Affairs, Judiciary & Ethics, and Aging & Long Term Care. Every committee has met with the exception of Aging & Long Term Care which meets for the first time this week.

The Judiciary & Ethics Committee had hearings on and voted for the Ethics Reform Bill passed by both houses and signed by the Governor into law on January 31, 2007. While this was a bipartisan effort and a good first step to restoring the public's trust in elected officials by creating a more accountable system of enforcement, much more needs to be done.

Almost every ethics violation the past few years has involved campaign money. As long as money is a dominant factor in electoral success, it will be difficult to have honest government. The current Supreme Court race is a great example of the need for campaign reform. How can we have millions of dollars in outside money influencing the outcome for a position that is supposed to be non-partisan and impartial? That is why I recently introduced a bill for public financing for Supreme Court races.

You have noticed that the same phony "issue ads" which polluted my 2006 race in the current Supreme Court race. It is expected that more than $2 million will be spend in unregulated phony "issue ads" in this current Supreme Court race.

That is why I have joined eight of my freshman Democratic colleagues in introducing a bill requiring full disclosure of who funds these unregulated issue ads and subject them to the same campaign finance limits as individuals and groups independent expenditures.

The following are some recent press that discuss some of the other important issues facing the State.

Protecting Property Taxpayers

UW System Admission Policy

I hope you can make it on Thursday. As always, please contact me at any time if you have questions or feedback on any issues or concern.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dry food added to pet food recall list

As scientists and investigators work to determine the cause of tainted pet food in the U.S. which has resulted in thousands of complaints about sick pets, several which have died, and millions of containers of wet or canned pet food being recalled, the recall has now been expanded to some dry food, as well. You can read the latest by going here.

Smoking ban exemption angers citizen group, frustrates council

During the last meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council it was learned that a specially-appointed attorney to represent the city in a lawsuit with the Hilton Garden and its operators was quietly settled some three months or so ago and the hotel bar given a permanent exemption to the city's smoking ban; but the city manager, nor Common Council members, were ever informed of the settlement. Evidently, the first time anyone heard anything about the settlement was when two members of Breathe Free Oshkosh brought it up during Citizen Statements.

It should be pointed out that city attorney Warren Kraft did not represent the city in this matter because of the possibility he could be called as a witness, hence the need for special counsel. And it is, as I understand it, up to the sole discretion of that special counsel to be able to negotiate a settlement, and he did just that. The reasons for his decision were outlined in a letter by Mr. Kraft to city manager Richard Wollangk, which can be found along with more information on the suit and settlement in this article from the Oshkosh Northwestern.

I have not yet had a chance to read everything associated with this matter, but my concern is the lack of information once again being provided to the Common Council (and others at City Hall) in matters of such importance. The appointed counsel knew about the settlement, obviously, as did the city health director Paul Spiegel. But why was the city attorney or city manager not informed? Why did neither of them bother to inquire about the progress of the case? Why was the Common Council not apprised of the situation - once again?! And sorry, but lame excuses like "We don't hear about every traffic case that's settled," etc., just don't cut it. To compare a traffic ticket to one of the most controversial, devisive issues this city has seen in some time is preposterous; and frankly, whether you call it, laziness, ignorance, ineptness, unaccountability or selective memory, we have a right to expect - and should be demanding - more from such well-compensated people in positions of management at City Hall.

This subject, by the way, will be the topic of an upcoming "Eye on Oshkosh." Stay tuned for details on when it will air.