Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Study shows the arts are good for Northeast Wisconsin economy

[For those who believe the arts aren't important to a community, the following press release contains a lot of information you may find interesting...]

Americans for the Arts announced recently the results of the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Entitled Arts & Economic Prosperity III, the report reveals that the nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $29.6 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues nationally.

Locally, the arts and culture industry in the Fox Valley Region (including Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties here referred to as Northeast Wisconsin) generates $28.63 million in economic activity. This spending supports 1,040 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $20.3 million in household income to local residents and delivers $3.06 million in local and state government revenue. This economic impact study sends a strong signal that when the public supports the arts, not only is the quality of life enhanced, but it’s an investment in Northeast Wisconsin’s economic well-being. Click here to download a PDF of the summary of the study.

Northeast Wisconsin is one of 156 communities that participated in Arts & Economic Prosperity III, the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted. It documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions and five states — representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The diverse study regions range in population (4,000 to 3 million) and type (rural to urban). Researchers collected detailed expenditure and attendance data from 6,080 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 94,478 of their attendees to measure total industry spending. Data were collected from 32 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Northeast Wisconsin, including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Each provided detailed budget information about more than 40 expenditure categories for fiscal year 2005 (e.g., labor, payments to local and non-local artists, operations, materials, facilities and asset acquisition) as well as their total attendance figures. The following tables demonstrate the direct and total impacts of this spending. Project economists customized input/output analysis models to calculate specific and reliable findings for each study region.
This study focuses solely on the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and event-related spending by their audiences. Not included in this study are spending by individual artists and the for-profit arts and culture sector (e.g., Broadway or the motion picture industry).

The total economic activity has a significant local impact, generating the following:

  • 1,040 full-time equivalent jobs

  • Over $20.3 million in resident household income

  • Over $1.2 million in local government revenues

  • Over $1.8 million in state government revenues

“This study is a myth buster,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Most Americans understand that the arts improve our quality of life. This study demonstrates that the arts are an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive.”

In addition, the study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry is a cornerstone of tourism. The $9.44 million in event-related spending by arts audiences reflects an average of $22.22 per person in spending for hotels, restaurants, parking, souvenirs, refreshments or other similar costs — with non-local attendees spending twice as much as local attendees ($36.08 vs. $14.73). When a community attracts cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards.

“The findings of this study are encouraging and exciting for our region and demonstrate that the arts have a positive economic value in our community,” said Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, Inc. upon hearing the study results. “Of course the most lasting value of the arts is how they enhance and enrich the quality of life of people in Northeast Wisconsin. The strength of the arts in our region helps make Northeast Wisconsin a place people and businesses want to make their home.”

To derive the national estimates, the 116 city and county study participants — multi-regions and states are excluded from this analysis — were first stratified into six population groups and an economic impact average was calculated for each group. Second, the nation’s largest 12,662 cities were assigned to one of the six groups based on their population as supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. Third, each city was assigned the economic impact average for its population group. Finally, the values of the cities were added together to determine the national economic impact findings. The two largest U.S. cities, New York and Los Angeles, each with more than $1 billion in organizational expenditures, were excluded from this study to avoid inflating the national estimates. In addition, Laguna Beach, CA, and Teton County, WY, were removed when calculating the national estimates due to their comparably high levels of economic activity in their population category.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity III study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide project partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. The full text of the report is available at

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, it has a record of more than 45 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

Parents would support limits on media sex, violence

We previously told you about efforts to impose federal limits on sex and violence on TV. We’ve also run our own unscientific poll, asking how you felt about such limits. Now, according to a survey released yesterday, two-thirds of parents said they are very concerned about sex and violence the nation's children are exposed to in the media, and there would be broad support for new federal limits on such material on television. You can read the full story here.

Oshkosh Common Council to vote on water, sewer rate increases

On June 26 the Oshkosh Common Council will vote on whether to raise water and sewer rates for Oshkosh property owners. They are proposed to increase by 16.9 percent for water service and 19.8 percent for sewer. This will equate to about a $6.70 per month ($20.10 per quarter, which is how the city bills water/sewer customers) overall increase in bills for the average water user. The matter had been on the agenda for the June 12 Common Council meeting, but was laid over so more information could be obtained.

A memo from the city’s rate consultant along with interesting water and sewer information can be found at councilman Bryan Bain’s blog site. In addition, Bryan has a more detailed explanation of the entire rate issue and is asking for citizen input prior to next Tuesday’s vote. You can give him your thoughts or ask questions about the proposed increase by going here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 18 county forum on closing tax loophole

[we have received the following press release and note from Jef Hall and are pleased to publish it...]

Leaders from city and county government, community organizations and labor unions leaders from Winnebago County are encouraging voters to meet their state legislators and urge them to close a new corporate tax loophole that causes higher property taxes for homeowners and small businesses. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 18 at 7:00pm at the Coughlin Center in Oshkosh.

This loophole was opened by a recent court ruling. A New Jersey-based paper company argued that a 1953 law that exempted sewage treatment facilities from property tax should exempt them also (because they use re-cycled cardboard in their manufacturing process). A state court allowed this company, Newark Paper, to stop paying taxes on its paper mill property in Milwaukee County. This court decision turned a small and specific tax exemption into a giant tax loophole. Currently, hundreds of manufacturers throughout Wisconsin use recycled materials and dozens of companies have applied for this new tax loophole.

Any property tax decrease received by a corporation results in a property tax increase for everyone else owning property in the same city or county. This property tax break is a windfall for corporations who will continue operating as before, benefiting from the same fire and police protection, the same road repairs, snow removal and other services vital to their businesses. But these normal costs of doing business will no longer be borne by that business. Instead, the costs for the public services used by the corporation will be paid through increased property taxes by other businesses and all homeowners.

A group of Democratic and Republican legislators have sponsored a bill to close this new loophole and protect families and businesses from property tax increases. This bill – Senate Bill 122 – was introduced in April. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce opposes the bill and Assembly leaders in the state legislature have delayed it.

The June 18 meeting is open to the public and is an opportunity for the public to discuss the issue with their elected state legislators and ask them to close this loophole immediately.

[from Jef Hall...]

It will be attended by many local political leaders as well as interested taxpayers from across the Fox Valley.

It is important to stay informed on these issues, remember: for every corporate property tax loophole opened your individual tax rates increase.

Learn more about the issues and let local and state leaders know your opinions by attending!

As always, contact me with any questions.

Jef Hall
Supervisor, Winnebago County Board - Dist 17
Chair, Winnebago County Democratic Party
2nd Vice Chair, Democratic Party of WI
224A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Economic Development Exemption to State-Imposed Limit on Liquor Licenses Proposed

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

For More Information Contact:

Senator Jim Sullivan (608) 266-2512
Representative Mark Gottlieb (608) 267-2369
Senator Glenn Grothman (608) 266-7513
Representative Gordon Hintz (608) 266-2254

Economic Development Exemption to State-Imposed Limit on Liquor Licenses Proposed

Local Communities Should Decide What’s Best For Their Development

Madison – A bipartisan group of legislators from around the state offered a bill today to create an economic development exemption to the state-imposed limit on the number of liquor licenses a municipality may issue. Numerous communities around the state, such as Delafield, De Pere, Green Lake, Lake Geneva, Monona, Oconomowoc, Oshkosh, Ripon, Saukville, Slinger, and West Allis are at or near their quota limit and have no liquor licenses available to issue.

“This exemption will provide local officials in West Allis and others around the state with the flexibility they need for redevelopment and economic growth in their communities,” said Senator Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa). Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) added, “It seems hard to believe that in 2007 you can’t sell an old-fashioned in your restaurant because of one arrogant special interest group.”

Municipalities are unable to accommodate restaurants seeking to anchor mixed-use developments in their community because no liquor licenses are available. These communities are foregoing potential economic development opportunities that are vital to their community's redevelopment and growth.

“Communities like Saukville host large numbers of visitors which the current quota system does not account for. This legislation will give those communities a valuable tool to attract family-friendly restaurants, create good jobs and expand their tax base,” said Representative Mark Gottlieb (R- Port Washington). “Lifting the license quota on restaurants will remove an unnecessary restriction to development and provide communities like Oshkosh with more local control and increased opportunities for new business growth,” said Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).

The legislation will exempt full-service restaurants from the limit on the number of liquor licenses that a municipality can issue. The bill defines a full-service restaurant as establishments where meals are prepared, served, and sold for consumption on the premises and in which the sale of alcohol beverages accounts for 50 percent or less of the restaurant's gross receipts. The local community will maintain the authority to issue, or not issue, "Class B" liquor licenses that best meet the needs of their communities.

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association support this legislation.

Rep. Hintz to hold Office Hours

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be holding office hours at the Oshkosh Senior Center to listen to concerns facing Oshkosh residents. The event is open to the public and questions on all topics related to state government are encouraged and welcome.

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: Office Hours
When: Friday, June 15 9:00am-12:00pm
Where: Oshkosh Area Senior Center
200 North Campbell Road

June newsletter of the Winnebago County Democratic Party

Hello Members and Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party!

(following is information on where to find) the newsletter for June 07.

Hope to see everyone at the meeting this Wednesday! Get ready for parades!


If you are not a current party member, join online:

As always, contact me at anytime with questions or comments,


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

Authorized and paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tax loophole creation being proposed by two Oshkosh Common Councilors

Coming before tomorrow night's meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council will be a proposed amendment to a city ordinance - sponsored by councilors Paul Esslinger and Dennis McHugh - which, according to this article in the Oshkosh Northwestern, would exempt business tenants from the city licensing law that pulls restaurant and liquor licenses for delinquent taxes on the building if the building is owned by someone else.

On the surface this seems like a good idea. After all, why punish the business owner for the bad deeds of the landlord? But the issue cuts deeper than just that, and that is what must be considered.

The ordinance as it stands right now gives the city some teeth in its tax collection efforts. It may not be perfect and may not always achieve the optimum results, but it is better than the alternative. At least with the ordinance as it exists today, delinquent landlords know that if a tenant loses their liquor license because of that delinquency, their tenant is likely going to have a very strong case against them in a court of law for lost business.

Second, if word of a commercial landlord's delinquency and its subsequent problems gets around to other potential tenants, that may cause the landlord some difficulty in being able to rent out their commercial space in the future. That, too, may be an incentive for paying their fair share to the city when due. You take that away, and there is little to no incentive that I can see for a delinquent taxpayer to pay up. And if he or she doesn't pay for a long enough period of time, the property will eventually be foreclosed on and that could very well put those innocent business tenants out of business anyway - or at least put them in a position where they're looking for new commercial space.

Third, by amending the ordinance, and depending on how it's written, it could set up a scenario where it is applied in different ways in different situations.

In summary, I think changing the ordinance is a bad idea. Certainly, any business owner can get caught in the wheels of a landlord's tax delinquency. But in the case of Cranky Pat's Pizza, for example, they should have chosen their landlord a little more carefully. They knew before they even opened last year that their landlord, Ben Ganther, is infamous for not paying taxes in full on his 100 N. Main property. They took a gamble, came up short, and now want the city to do something to help them retain their liquor license, despite Ganther's delinquency.

Bottom line: While I feel for most innocent business caught in the crosshairs of City Hall and the tax collection department, the city council should leave the ordinance stand as-is, and not only hold the landlord responsible for his or her taxes, but also withhold the liquor license for that property until the taxes are paid in full. If the business tenant loses business or is forced to close as a result of that action, they need to pursue their deadbeat landlord for their losses. And the city should once and for all, stop doing business with business owners who don't pay their taxes when owed.

Cable TV deregulation benefits in question

For weeks we have been hearing about how a deregulation of the cable TV industry in the state of Wisconsin would be good: Good for business and certainly good for the consumer, especially since it would lead to lower cable bills. Those who believe that might want to check out this story from the Journal Sentinel which says that rates in Texas - the first state to deregulate the cable industry - actually went up instead of decreasing. Meanwhile, last month the Wisconsin State Assembly approved similar legislation. It still must pass the senate and be approved by Gov. Jim Doyle. Read more about that measure and other votes in the assembly by going here.

New bookstore planning meeting scheduled for June 21

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

For the past 6 months, a couple of people within the Oshkosh community have discussed the need for another bookstore, specifically a quality used bookstore with progressive ideas. As we talked about it, we started discussing the idea of having the store owned and operated by its workers. So we thought that we would put this idea out to more people to see if others would be interested in embarking on such an experiment. If you are interested, please come to the following meeting to help determine its path.

Nothing has been planned out. We are starting from scratch. All people are welcome. All ideas are welcome.

Come one, come all.

*The meeting will take place at the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center, located at 321 Market St., in downtown Oshkosh on Thursday June 21, 2007 at 6:00pm.

Please respond if you plan to attend or have any questions.

Seize peace,

Bob Poeschl

Thursday, June 07, 2007

EAA AirVenture 2007 Fly-In Theater lineup announced

Some of the greatest aviation films of the past 80 years will be part of the Fly-In Theater at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, presented by Ford Motor Company and Eclipse Aviation, which features movies nightly on July 22-28. The 55th annual EAA fly-in convention takes place July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

The movies shown at the Fly-In Theater will include dramas, blockbusters and classic early films. Each evening's presentation will begin at 8:30 p.m., weather permitting, with a personality from the worlds of aviation and/or cinema introducing the feature and providing background about the movie and aircraft.

Each night's feature, shown on a screen five stories tall, is free of charge to all EAA AirVenture attendees. Even popcorn is included! Guests should bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating at the natural amphitheater, located adjacent to EAA's Camp Scholler.

"Thanks to Ford and Eclipse, we began the Fly-In Theater last year and discovered it was a superb way to finish a full day of flight - with an aviation movie under the stars at Oshkosh," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "We are bringing even more great aviation films to the event this year, many based on suggestions from EAA AirVenture visitors."

Among the films confirmed for the Fly-In Theater are:

* Sunday, July 22: Wings (1927), the first movie to win an Academy Award, a silent classic starring Clara Bow, Richard Arlen and a young Gary Cooper.
* Monday, July 23: Twelve O'Clock High (1949), starring Gregory Peck, Gary Merrill and Dean Jagger.
* Tuesday, July 24: Top Gun (1986), starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer. This film was the winner of EAA's online "Greatest Aviation Movie of All Time" poll earlier this year.
* Wednesday, July 25: Spirit of St. Louis (1957), starring Jimmy Stewart and Murray Hamilton.
* Thursday, July 26: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), starring Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson and Robert Mitchum.
* Friday, July 27: Apollo 13 (1995), starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. As previously announced, Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell will introduce the film.
* Saturday, July 28: Flying Tigers (1942), starring John Wayne, John Carroll and Anna Lee.

The Fly-In Theater will be located next to EAA AirVenture's Camp Scholler, at the north end of Doolittle Drive directly behind the Camp Store.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Families needed for exchange students

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

Did you know that your family can become part of a 60-year-old international peace movement by hosting an AFS exchange student next school year? You can make a real difference for peace by opening your heart and your home to someone from another culture who wants to know Americans better and has a fascinating culture of his or her own to share with you.

In 1947 AFS Intercultural Exchange was founded by volunteer ambulance drivers of the American Field Service from World Wars I and II. Saddened by all the deaths and injuries they'd seen, they wanted to find a way to help people keep from going to war again. Their plan was to build intercultural understanding through the placement of teenagers in families in other cultures. Today approximately 11,000 students experience AFS exchanges annually; 2,800 of them come to the US to follow the ambulance drivers' dream.

Oshkosh has been part of the AFS tradition since 1950, when a German girl named Gabriela Borbein was hosted by John Mosling. Now over 100 people from other countries look happily back at their year as AFS high school exchange students in Oshkosh. Maybe your family hosted one of them, or you may remember an AFS student from your own high school years somewhere else. If so, you are already part of this huge peace movement! Currently Camille Prat from France is an AFS student at Oshkosh West, and Diandra Sabrina from Indonesia is an AFS student at Oshkosh North.

In 2003, AFS joined a small group of other exchange organizations to administer the YES program, which provides full scholarships to students from countries with significant Muslim populations. This is truly an organization that is DOING something about bringing peace to the world.

Please consider hosting an AFS exchange student for the coming school year. Students do not need a private room, but simply their own bed, meals, and a family which will include them as a member for the year --- or a lifetime. If you personally cannot host someone, please encourage anyone else you know who may be able to. It's really a wonderful growing experience for any family. You do not need to have high school aged children, or children of any age, to apply to be an AFS host family.

To learn more about AFS, you can go to, or you may call me to find out about hosting a student. High school students who are interested in going abroad as exchange students themselves will find a lot of resources on that website, and are very welcome to contact me too.

I hope to hear from you!

Mary Ann Offer
Oshkosh AFS Chapter Coordinator

Goodyear blimp coming to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007

One of the world's most recognizable flying machines, the Goodyear blimp, will be visible up-close and in the sky this summer at EAA AirVenture 2007, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration." The 55th annual edition of the EAA fly-in convention will be held July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

The "Spirit of Goodyear" will be on-site throughout the week and will be flying regularly during the festivities. In addition, it will be moored near the EAA AirVenture Museum's Pioneer Airport for up-close viewing at other times, giving visitors a unique view of an aircraft that is commonly seen only from afar.

"We are very pleased to welcome the Goodyear blimp back to EAA AirVenture, especially given the company's long involvement in aviation," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "Longtime attendees recall the excitement surrounding the visits the Goodyear blimp made to Oshkosh in the 1970s and 1980s. The opportunity to see this aircraft flying along the AirVenture flight line and on the ground is one that should not be missed this year."

The Goodyear blimp's visit to EAA AirVenture marks the first time one of the company's airships has stopped at Oshkosh since visits in 1986 and 1988. The "Spirit of Goodyear" will be a first-time visitor to the event, as the blimp was christened and placed into service in March 2000.

Based at Goodyear's Wingfoot Lake Airship facility in Suffield, Ohio, the "Spirit of Goodyear" often flies the sky over Goodyear's headquarters in nearby Akron. The airship is 192 feet long and nearly 60 feet tall, and typically cruises at 30 mph at between 1,000 and 3,000 feet. This particular blimp is also equipped with lighted sign functions that incorporate more than 165,000 LEDs.

In addition to the familiar nose-to-tail blue panel above the mid-line (equator) of the Spirit of Goodyear there is a blue panel below the mid-line. This panel is designed to improve the visibility of the day sign lights. EagleVision, the electronic sign configuration on the port side, provides high resolution for text, graphics and video.

Naming its blimps is a very personal thing to Goodyear. Each name is a proud handle that represents something important to Goodyear or brings recognition to a proud tradition. The Spirit of Goodyear was named to honor the employees of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

This airship primarily travels throughout an area of the United States bordered by the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Canada to the north. A Goodyear blimp is not limited to the United States, however, and may occasionally visit Canada or Mexico.

Additional information is available at

EAA AirVenture 2007: "Best of the Best" vintage aircraft display

Six of the world's finest restored vintage aircraft will travel to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this summer to participate in the National Aviation Hall of Fame's first "Best of the Best" People's Choice Award competition. These aircraft will be showcased at EAA AirVenture, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration," on July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

AirVenture visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite among these restored vintage aircraft. All six vintage aircraft have been masterfully restored to virtually like-new condition and are great examples of our rich aviation history. The National Aviation Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational (NAHI) joined together to create and sponsor the competition.

The aircraft scheduled to appear are all former winners of various NAHI events held throughout the country since 1999. They include the Lockheed P-38 "Glacier Girl" (owned by Rod Lewis); Piper L-4 (owned by June and Colin Powers); Spartan Executive (owned by Kent and Sandy Blankenburg); Fairchild KR-21 (owned by Pat McNerney); Grumman Duck (owned by Chuck Greenhill); and Waco ATO (owned by Alan Hoeweler).

"We at EAA are truly excited about hosting these magnificent aircraft," said Adam Smith, EAA Vice President/Outreach. "This program allows the public to vote on their personal favorite from the group, each of which is a masterful example of aircraft restoration."

The presentation of the "Best of the Best" trophy will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 at EAA AirVenture. Representatives of the Hall of Fame, EAA and NAHI will be joined by several enshrinees of the National Aviation Hall of Fame in the trophy presentation.

This activity undertakes a completely different selection process than that for EAA's legendary "Lindys" presented each year, regarded as the world's top aviation construction and restoration awards. The EAA awards are based on a strict set of judging criteria, while the "Best of the Best" program crosses traditional aircraft categories and relies on public-preference voting.

The National Aviation Heritage Invitational promotes aircraft restoration via friendly competition, bringing valuable aviation treasures together in one venue. This endeavor is a joint effort under the auspices of Rolls-Royce North America Inc., the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Reno Air Racing Foundation and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rep. Hintz to hold Budget Forum on Shared Revenue

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be hosting a forum to discuss the 2007-2009 State Budget’s impact on city and county government focusing on the shared revenue program. This is the fifth of six forums being held on the five largest general fund programs in the biennial budget.

The forum will be open to the public. City of Oshkosh and Winnebago County 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

The final budget forum will be June 11 from 6:30-8:30PM at the Oshkosh Public Library and will focus on Corrections.

Rep. Hintz Budget Forum-Shared Revenue

June 4, 6:30-8:30PM

Oshkosh City Hall-Room 406