Saturday, May 26, 2007

Governor Doyle Column: Honoring Our Troops this Memorial Day

[we have received the following from Gov. Doyle's office and are pleased to publish it here. And to all the veterans who have served our nation and helped keep her safe and free - thank you! On this coming Memorial Day, and always, we owe you a debt of gratitude.]

In Wisconsin and across America, we honor the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed in defense of our nation and our freedom. For their brave and dedicated service to both state and country - we offer them our thanks, and honor their memory.

Here in Wisconsin, we have witnessed firsthand the extent of their sacrifices. Nearly half-a-million Wisconsin men and women have served our nation and our state, and - as the proud son of a World War II Veteran - I am humbled by their courage.

We owe these brave men and women more than a lifetime of Memorial Days could repay. Their sacrifices left us with a duty that goes on through the generations - to honor them in our thoughts, in our words, and in the way we live our lives. Our men and women in uniform deserve - and have earned - the deepest respect and most profound gratitude of the people of Wisconsin.

Each of our brave soldiers loved his or her life as much as we love ours. Each had a place in the world, a family and friends who anxiously awaited their return. They thought of the future just as we do, with plans and hopes for a long life. But they chose to travel to foreign shores, to fight to defend our freedom, and ensure the world's stability.

Some of their stories are as old as our country. Others are risking their lives today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries around the world - a new generation of heroes, writing its own page in American history. We are so fortunate to have people in this state of such high quality, of such great character, who answer the call.

Since 2003, I have attended the funerals and memorials of far too many of Wisconsin's brave soldiers. While it is one of my most difficult responsibilities as Governor, it also fills me with pride over the quality of our men and women in uniform. I have met the families of our fallen soldiers. They deserve our deepest gratitude. This day we honor you too, because you were there to support these fine men and women. Their sacrifice was your sacrifice. Wisconsin and the world are a better place to live because of the work and service of your loved one.

Every Memorial Day we gather together, trying to grasp the extent of our loss. But it is difficult to comprehend, and nearly impossible to put into words. In the end, all we can do is be thankful. All we can do is remember, and always appreciate the price that was paid for our own lives and our own freedom.

And so this Memorial Day, let us pause to remember the sacrifice of our fallen heroes and their families and let us rededicate ourselves to honoring these men and women to ensure that their service and sacrifice were not in vain.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Office of Energy Independence: Try Eco-Driving this Memorial Day

As you hit Wisconsin’s highways this Memorial Day weekend consider eco-driving as part of your journey. Eco-Driving is a style of driving resulting in safety, decreased exhaust emissions, and fuel savings. It is a simple way to impact the environment and your pocketbook without purchasing a new vehicle.

“Not all Wisconsin consumers have the opportunity to drive a flex-fuel, biodiesel, or hybrid vehicle, but everyone can save fuel and increase air quality through simple changes to driving habits,” said Judy Ziewacz, Executive Director of the Office of Energy Independence. OEI is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to promote cleaner driving habits.

The Office of Energy Independence recommends 5 easy ways to save fuel this holiday weekend.

1. Chill Out – Aggressive driving such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking wastes gas by lowering your mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% around town. Accelerating and decelerating slowly can save up to 2 miles per gallon.

2. Slow Down – Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gas.

3. Tune Up – A car in tune consumes 20% less fuel. You can also lose up to 30 gallons of gas by not tightening your gas cap properly - listen for the click.

4. Pump It – Americans waste 2 million gallons of gas each day because car tires are under inflated. Gas mileage drops 1% for every pound of tire pressure below the recommended level. Properly inflated tires last longer and are safer.

5. Turn Off – Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. You will save more gas by turning the engine off and restarting it if you expect to idle for more than 30 seconds.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers on-line resources that will help you learn more about eco-driving like the XRT: eXtraordinary Road Trip program designed to teach individuals how to analyze transportation variables that affect air quality. To learn more about eco-driving, visit

Statement of Governor Doyle on New Excuse for Spike in gas Prices

The oil industry yesterday pointed to the growing demand for renewable fuels in America as the cause for higher gas prices - as high as $4.00 per gallon in some parts of the country - at the start of the busiest driving weekend of the year across the country.

Governor Doyle made the following statement demanding an explanation from big oil companies, and calling for relief at the pump for middle class families:

"Using any excuse necessary, big oil companies continue to drive up gas prices. In Wisconsin, we are committed to investing in new renewable fuels so we can depend more on the Midwest and less on the Mideast for our energy needs.

"Big oil companies have been reaping huge profits on the backs of middle class families for years - reaching record profits while families across the country struggle to afford to fill up their gas tanks.

"It's time for big oil companies to stop driving up gas prices. With no major geo-political events, no weather-related events, and no real market problems, there is absolutely no reason for these kinds of spikes in gas prices. Our families, our state, and national economy cannot afford this market manipulation."

On Wednesday, Governor Doyle joined 16 other governors, and asked the President to side with American families, pressure big oil to lower gas prices, and provide relief at the pump.

The governors also called on Congress to initiate a thorough investigation of big oil companies driving up gas prices, and urge big oil companies to reinvest their enormous profits to solve refinery reliability issues, and lower the price of gas.

Governor Doyle believes Wisconsin consumers deserve a refund for what they've over paid to big oil companies. In his budget, Governor Doyle proposed to capture some of big oil's profits, and give relief to middle class families in Wisconsin by helping taxpayers fund roads and infrastructure.

Read Governor Doyle's call to action for President Bush and Congress:

Smoking forbidden in most U.S. homes

We know that there is a stronger-than-ever movement to ban smoking in public places, Wisconsin being one of the states currently pursuing such legislation. We also know that, based on public opinion polls, it is legislation that an overwhelming majority of people seem to support.

Now a study conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that smoking is forbidden in nearly three-quarters of the homes in the United States. Read more about the study by going here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Governor Doyle, 16 Other Governors Urge President to Support Efforts to Lower Gas Prices

Governor Jim Doyle, together with the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), called on President Bush to work with Congress, and pressure big oil companies to invest their enormous profits to become more energy efficient and lower gas prices for middle class families feeling squeezed at gas pumps across the country.

"Talk is much cheaper than gas prices," Governor Doyle said in the letter. "Democratic governors know that the long term prescription for high gas prices is to achieve energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Together, we can make America more prosperous, more secure, and less vulnerable to the pain at the pump."

Gas prices rise every spring, but the spike has grown even larger in recent years. Wisconsin gas prices are up roughly 60 cents per gallon compared to April of this year. That is higher than the highest prices after Hurricane Katrina, which were under $3.35 per gallon.

Big oil companies have reported the highest profits ever. After calling on the federal government to hold big oil companies accountable, Governor Doyle proposed a plan in his budget to capture some of big oil's profits, and give relief to middle class families in Wisconsin by helping taxpayers fund roads and infrastructure.

Transportation costs have risen dramatically due in part to the increase in petroleum prices. Governor Doyle believes big oil companies should help middle class families pay for these increased costs.

On Monday, Governor Doyle joined with the DGA to urge Congress to initiate a bipartisan investigation into escalating gas prices occurring across the country.

"It is difficult to understand how oil companies can be making record profits each quarter without making capital investments in refineries that would address reliability issues," the governors said in the letter. "Families and businesses across the nation are straining under these uncontrollable prices. The economies of our states - as well as the national economy - are likely to suffer because of these continually spiraling prices."

In the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, Governor Doyle and other governors asked Congress to use its authority to conduct a thorough investigation into gas pricing, and develop answers to unexplainable spikes in gas prices, seemingly unrelated to any geo-political or weather-related events.

Read the letter to President Bush:
Read the letter to Congressional leaders:
Read the DGA press release:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Doug Boone's memorial service and remembrance

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

Members and Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party:

I am sad to report that long time Democratic Party activist Doug Boone has passed away. Doug was a reliable and enthusiastic volunteer.

His passion for the peace movement and progressive issues will be remembered, and his spirit, hard work and dedication will be missed.

The following is his obit, and a remembrance written by his partner Jane

Douglas R. Boone
Douglas R. Boone, 54, of Oshkosh died Thursday, May 17, 2007 at Mercy
Medical Center.
He was born November 7, 1952 in Waupaca, a son of Douglas J. Boone and Beverly Mjelde Boone.
Doug was a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam conflict as an Intelligence Officer. He was a past Commander and Life Member of our local Disabled American Veterans Post 17 and received awards for recruiting many new members.
Survivors include his mother Beverly Freiberg of Oshkosh; father Doug J. Boone of Oshkosh; brothers and sisters Cheri (Rick) Waters of Omro, Michael (Karin) Boone of Oshkosh, Susan (Steve) Brook of Royal Palm Beach, FL, Stacy (Steve) Schmid of Oshkosh, Tyler Tarr of Manhattan Beach, CA, and Thomas (Katie) Tarr of Edina, MN; special friend Jane Spietz of Oshkosh; nieces and nephews Wendy Peterson, Michael Waters, Kristy Waters, Melanie Boone, Maggie Boone, Jessica Voils, Nicholas
Voils, John Prahl, Sommer Roux, James Schmid, and Christopher Tarr. Doug was preceded in death by his grandparents and step-father Wayne Tarr.

Doug was a tireless peace activist who single handedly collected thousands of signatures against the Iraq War. In addition to working to end the Iraq War, Doug was a champion of workers' rights, the environment, voting rights, and many other important causes. He was member of the Winnebago County Democratic Party. He was very involved in local, state and national politics and actively campaigned for countless political candidates. It will be difficult to imagine the Fox Valley
activist community without Doug's presence.

Doug was the President of Georgia Gardens Condominium Association and
was instrumental in beautifying the grounds and making many positive
changes on behalf of the residents.

Doug also was a regular contributor to the Scene magazine and wrote numerous articles about musical events. Music was another great passion of his.

A special thank you to Dr. Peter Hannon and all of his staff at MMC
Intensive Care Unit, especially nurses Stephanie, Margaret, Kelly, Karen H., Sue, Courtney, Elaine, Polly, Norm, Karen Z. and Hospital Chaplain Phil DeWitt. Special recognition to Dawn Auclair of MMC and the UW Madison Organ Procurement Team.
Funeral services for Doug will be held Tuesday May 22, 2007 at 11:00 AM at Konrad-Behlman Funeral Home-West, Rev. Rich Engle officiating. Family and friends may call at the Lake Pointe Dr. funeral home on Monday from 5-8 PM and again Tuesday from 10 AM until the service. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to one of following organizations: Christine Ann Center, Oshkosh Area Humane Society, Friends of the Oshkosh Public Library, Disabled American Veterans, or the Oshkosh Community Foundation.

"On Eagles Wings" And He will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, Make you to shine - like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand.

Doug, you will be forever missed by your family and friends, and we will
see you again in Heaven.

Doug Boone had surgery at MMC on Mon., May 7, to replace two badly compressed vertebral discs in his neck that had caused him horrible chronic pain in his hands & arms. Surgery went well. Afterwards, in his room, Doug was alert, talking, walking with assistance and the plan was for him to be discharged the next day.

Several hours later Doug complained of a tightening in his throat and shortly after that could not breathe & lost consciousness. The staff immediately attempted to open his airway but could not insert a breathing tube down into his trachea right away despite numerous attempts.

A surgeon who was on the unit rushed in. He discovered a blood clot in Doug's neck that was so large that it had actually forced Doug's trachea (windpipe) over to one side by several inches. The surgeon slashed open the blood clot & drained it in order to be able to access Doug's trachea and insert a breathing tube down into it.

By the time this was accomplished, Doug had been without sufficient levels of oxygen for a number of minutes, and was also without any oxygen for several minutes. He was rushed to the ICU and hooked up to life support. We all prayed desperately for a miracle, but this was not to be. Despite the valiant and compassionate efforts of the wonderful ICU staff over the past week, Doug had sustained irreversible brain damage from which he could not recover. Doug remained in a coma on life support.

Doug passed away very peacefully Thursday, May 17 surrounded by many loved ones. He will live on in the hearts of those who loved him, and in the individuals who have benefitted from his thoughtful & generous wish to donate his organs.

Activities to celebrate Doug's life will be held at the Konrad-Behlman Funeral Home at 100 Lake Pointe Drive, Oshkosh.

Visitation will be held from 5:00 - 8:00 pm on Mon., May 21. Additional visitation will be on Tues., May 22 from 10:00 am until the time of service at 11:00 am. Afterwards we will go to Riverside Cemetery, Oshkosh, with lunch to follow at a location to be determined.

I would appreciate it very much if everyone could please take a few minutes to help inform as many people as possible about Doug.

Also, I hope that everyone will be able to come to the funeral home to pay tribute to Doug and all that he has done for our local community & beyond to help make our world a better place.

Please feel free to contact me if you wish via email or on my cell at 410-3373. Thank you all so very much.

Jane Spietz

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gov. Doyle calls for swift action on statewide smoking initiative

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle today urged the Legislature to take swift action on comprehensive statewide smokefree legislation that will ban smoking, increase the cost of cigarettes, and expand smoking cessation and prevention programs to improve public health for people in Wisconsin. Making Wisconsin smokefree will help prevent Wisconsin kids from starting to smoke and help motivate adults to quit smoking.

"We all know the direction that history is going on this issue," Governor Doyle said. "It's only a matter of time before the whole country goes smoke free - Wisconsin should be leading the way. I ask that the Legislature take swift action on smokefree legislation for the citizens of Wisconsin."

Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation to make Minnesota smoke free by October 1 of this year. Similar legislation has passed both houses in Illinois and awaits Governor Rod Blagojevich's signature. Minnesota and Illinois join 23 other states and commonwealths, plus the District of Columbia, with laws that require 100 percent smoke free workplaces, restaurants and bars. Among those 23 states is Maryland, where Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill to ban smoking in restaurants and bars statewide just today.

To address public health and the hazards of second-hand smoke, Governor Doyle is calling on the Legislature to pass statewide smokefree legislation that is fair and equitable - banning smoking in all public buildings, workplaces, restaurants, and taverns.

The Governor also proposed an increase in the cigarette tax by $1.25 and said he would dedicate the funds to paying the cost of tobacco-related illness. A study from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids projects that because of this increase over 42,000 Wisconsin adults will quit smoking; over 84,000 kids in Wisconsin will never start; nearly 12,000 smoking-affected births will be avoided; and overall will result in a 20 percent reduction in the number of kids who smoke.

Over five years ago, Wisconsin increased the cigarette tax to $0.77 per pack. Since then, nearly 20,000 Wisconsin smokers quit. This increase will be coupled with a major and long-overdue campaign to help people quit smoking and live healthier lives.

According to the American Cancer Society, 5,000 kids try their first cigarette every day and 2,000 of them become regular smokers. One-third will eventually die from their addiction.

The U.S. Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association report that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disease - even in non-smokers.

Since 2000, the smoking rate among Wisconsin high school students has decreased by 40 percent. And recently Governor Doyle announced that Wisconsin had reduced the illegal sales of tobacco products to minors to the lowest point in state history.

For more information about the impact of smoking, visit the American Cancer Society's Web site at

For more information on the Governor's plan to make Wisconsin smokefree, visit:

To view a map of states with smokefree legislation, visit:

In the meantime, readers may also find this story interesting, as well.

Rep. Hintz to hold listening session with Oshkosh Seniors

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be holding office hours at the Oshkosh Senior Center to listen to concerns facing area seniors, including BadgerCare, SeniorCare, 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 or via e-mail at

Who: Representative Gordon Hintz

What: Senior Center-Listening Session

When: Friday, May 18 9:00am-12:00pm

Where: Oshkosh Area Senior Center, 200 North Campbell Road

Rep. Hintz to hold Budget Forum on Medical Assistance

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be hosting a forum to discuss Medical Assistance (Medicaid, BadgerCare, SeniorCare, etc) and the 2007-2009 State Budget. This is the fourth of six forums being held on the five largest general fund programs in the biennial budget.

The forum will be open to the public. Local health-care employees and officials have been invited. Questions and discussion are encouraged.

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

Rep. Hintz Budget Forum-Medical Assistance
May 21, 6:30-8:30PM
Oshkosh Senior Center-Willow Room

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Developer Ben Ganther's tax deliquency causes problems for tenants

Developer Ben Ganther is making news again for not paying his taxes. This time the Oshkosh Northwestern is reporting here and here that the tenants at Cranky Pat’s Pizza in Ganther’s 100 N. Main building in Oshkosh may have to close because Ganther hasn’t paid his taxes and the city may withhold their liquor license as a result. Some people, me included, have been complaining for several years about Ganther’s tax delinquency and the problems it causes for others. There was speculation even before this business opened last year about how his then unpaid taxes might affect the liquor license at this location.

It’s common knowledge that a lot of business owners who are delinquent in their taxes choose that option as a business strategy so they can use their money elsewhere until the last possible moment. It’s not right in any situation, but in Ganther’s case he’s doing it in a TIF district, which makes it even more disgraceful and insulting. Additionally, I wonder, does this man not have any conscience at all to care how his poor business decisions affect others, including those who are paying him rent each month?

There was a similar situation when Two Brothers Restaurant was in their old location adjacent to the Howard Johnson’s Motel. The restaurant operators had no control over the taxes being paid or not paid, but they were looked down upon anyway as being somewhat to blame. In this case the owners of Cranky Pats were well aware of the business tactics Ganther employed. Some might have viewed it as too much of a gamble to deal with someone who purposely manipulates the city. These owners evidently decided to take a chance; now they may pay the price for that decision.

When are people, including Oshkosh city fathers, going to stop doing business with Ben Ganther? Most landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants. In cases like this, where your livelihood is somewhat dependent on how the landlord conducts his business, maybe prospective tenants should run a check on the landlord. Where Ben Ganther is concerned, a simple search of archived news articles or city/county tax records would do the trick.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Open Letter to Mayor Frank Tower addresses economic development concerns

[following is an open letter to Mayor Frank Tower that we are pleased to share with readers...]


I wanted to follow-up with the discussion of Economic Development in Oshkosh. I agree that the city and the council need to do a better job keeping citizens informed of the city's economic development projects and ideas. I also understand that this can be difficult, as many people don't seem to care until there is something to complain about.

But I do think it is important to take things one step further than just creating awareness. In addition to letting citizens know what those in charge decided, we should include citizens in the decision-making process. This will increase accountability, improve the diversity of ideas, and take steps towards ensuring that the decisions made reflect the interests of all of the city.

I also think that it is important for the council and citizens to have a direct role in the planning and decision making of our economic development efforts. Too often the current efforts are focused on high-profile plans with high-end costs. What is often void from the discussion (at least that I am aware of) is the development of a locally-owned small business entrepreneurship plan and the development of living wage employment opportunities. Yet these two areas are significant factors in determining the economic health of a community and the quality of life for the residents.

I strongly support the development of a city economic commission that seeks to bring together the existing economic development efforts, and also seeks to bring in regular community members, small business representatives, and knowledgeable specialists in the areas of labor, community, and economic development.


Justin Mitchell

Gov. Doyle renews call for anti-smoking initiative

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

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle, speaking at the 2007 Tobacco Control and Prevention Conference today renewed his call to the state legislature to approve his comprehensive Anti-Smoking Initiative. The Governor's anti-smoking initiative, announced last January, includes plans to implement a statewide smoking ban, increase the cost of cigarettes, and expand the availability of tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

"The threat to the health of Wisconsin citizens is too significant for us to continue putting off action on this issue," Governor Doyle said. "Although we have made a great deal of progress over the last few decades, the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses continues to drive up health care costs for everyone, and is putting a squeeze on businesses and families across Wisconsin. But beyond dollars, my plan will save lives by reducing smoking rates, particularly among youth."'

Governor Doyle called for swift action on the "Breathe Free Wisconsin Act" (S.B. 150), introduced last month by Senate President Fred Risser, which calls for smoking prohibitions that is both fair and equitable in public places and places of employment. Currently, nine other states and the District of Columbia ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars. Arizona is expected to join this group today.

In addition to the smoking ban, Governor Doyle has also proposed an increase in the cigarette tax by $1.25 and said he would dedicate the funds to paying the cost of tobacco-related illness.

A study from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids projects that because of this increase over 42,000 Wisconsin adults will quit smoking; over 84,000 kids in Wisconsin will never start; nearly 12,000 smoking-affected births will be avoided; and overall will result in a 20 percent reduction in the number of kids who smoke.

A recent analysis showed that Wisconsin taxpayers are forced to pay nearly $500 million every year in Medicaid costs directly related to smoking, including over $13 million per year to fight children's asthma and $10 million annually to deal with poor birth outcomes caused by smoke exposure during pregnancy.

In 2005, five states (Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington) had a cigarette tax of $2.00 or higher and 19 states and D.C. had taxes of $1.00 or more.

The 2-day Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Control Conference has been held annually since 2001 and seeks to continue improving the effectiveness of tobacco control programs and policies in Wisconsin. The conference hopes to provide opportunities for expanding relationships, empowering advocates and inspiring participants to continue the tobacco control movement.