Thursday, January 29, 2009

Congress Moving Fast on Tax Cuts

A payroll tax credit and breaks for business are among the tax cuts Congress will pass as part of the big economic stimulus package coming soon. The new Congress will hit the ground running on tax cuts. The House already approved a big package to help jump-start the economy and get extra money into taxpayers’ wallets, and the Senate will follow soon, with the goal of getting a bill to President Obama’s desk by mid-February. This article from outlines what many of the tax breaks will be for individuals and businesses alike.

How stimulus bailout of states will work

Struggling with gaping budget deficits, states are eagerly awaiting the hundreds of billions of dollars coming their way from Capitol Hill. States could get more than two-thirds of the $819 billion stimulus package approved by the House Wednesday, according to some estimates. To read how the bailout of state may work read this story from Tami Luhby, senior writer for

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rep. Hintz Comments on Governor’s State of the State Address

Governor Doyle lays out blueprint to tackle tough economic challenges ahead

MADISON– Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) offered remarks on Governor Doyle’s State of the State Address, in which upcoming challenges were discussed and a blueprint was laid out for Wisconsin’s economic future.

“In this difficult economic climate we legislators must commit to make tough decisions as we work to address our state’s economic challenges,” said Rep. Hintz. “I commend Governor Doyle for laying out a honest view of the status of our state as well as providing encouragement that we have options as long as we are willing to work diligently and focus our bipartisan attention to the tasks at hand.”

In his annual address, Governor Doyle remarked that we are facing the highest unemployment rate in over 20 years, a rapidly rising rate of home foreclosures, a record state budget deficit of $5.4 billion, and that families across the state are struggling to make ends meet.

“I recognize that the residents of the 54th Assembly District face these difficult challenges and I keep this at the heart of every decision I make as a legislator,” said Rep. Hintz. “But I have hope and know that if we are willing to work hard, we can grow our economy, create jobs and emerge even stronger down the road.”

Governor Doyle also discussed the newly created Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, which was created to quickly move federal stimulus funds to create jobs for the hardworking people of Wisconsin. This office will work to make Wisconsin ready for stimulus funding by seeking out projects that can be started immediately and will lead to long-term economic investment in Wisconsin, by identifying and removing barriers to the completion of projects and by implementing the federal stimulus package according to federal guidelines.

“I agree with the Governor that we must be prepared to address our aging infrastructure by fixing our roads and bridges,” said Rep. Hintz. “We must also continue our state’s investment in green jobs and technology to move toward energy independence and to help grow our economy in this and other job sectors. We must also continue to offer strong higher education options through our universities and technical colleges, like those in Oshkosh, to train our future workforce in competitive fields. We have tough times and difficult decisions ahead, but by coming together and working on new and innovative ideas we can create a better future for Wisconsin.”

State of the State Fact Sheet

The Economy

• Wisconsin is currently facing a budget gap that had been estimated at $5.4 billion, or 17 percent of our biennial budget. That figure is expected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars when the Fiscal Bureau puts out their latest data.
• 45 states are facing budget deficits in the face of the national economic downturn, threatening the most essential functions of state government:
o Washington State has already cut 12,000 people from its basic health care program for low income adults and is proposing an additional 42 percent reduction.
o California is bracing to run out of cash in March, and is considering IOUs to cover its obligations – including tax returns.
o In Nevada, the governor is asking for a 36 percent cut to higher education funding.
o In Utah, they are talking about decreasing the number of school days and laying teachers off.

National Unemployment v. State Unemployment

• In the last year, the United States has lost about 2.8 million jobs
• The national unemployment rate has gone to 7.1 percent.
• On Monday alone, there were 71,000 jobs cut in the United States and around the world. Giants like Caterpillar announced 20,000 jobs cut. 8,000 jobs were lost at Sprint and 7,000 at Home Depot.
• From December 2007 to December 2008, Wisconsin lost 62,600 jobs and the unemployment rate went up to 5.8 percent. Flagship Wisconsin companies like Harley-Davidson, Kohler, Quadgraphics, and GE have been forced to lay people off.

Other Key Facts

• Autism coverage: Autism treatment services are already covered in 18 states, including Kentucky and Indiana who reported less than 1% percent bump in insurance premiums. States include: California, Indiana, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Arizona.
• Anti-tobacco initiative: 24 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed laws making both restaurant and bars smoke-free. States include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
• Governor Doyle’s “Quality Care for Quality Kids” initiative was introduced in 2005.

Wisconsin Heroes Recognized by Governor Doyle

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle tonight recognized the following individuals in his State of the State address:

• Jeffrey Skiles – A pilot from Oregon, Jeffrey Skiles served as co- pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009, a flight leaving La Guardia Airport in New York. Shortly after takeoff, the flight reportedly suffered a double bird strike and lost power in both engines. Beside Captain C.B. Sullenberger, Skiles helped to expertly navigate the jetliner during an emergency landing in the Hudson River – all 155 passengers and crew members were moved to safety with no major injuries. The skill and professionalism displayed by Jeffrey Skiles in this emergency is truly heroic.

• Will Allen – CEO of Growing Power Community Food Center, Will Allen is a former professional basketball player who saw urban Milwaukee as an unlikely center for agriculture. In September, Allen was awarded a “genius grant” from the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for his work to bring affordable, healthy food to urban neighborhoods. Allen has found a way to raise fish and fresh vegetables in a home-made ecosystem alive on the north side of Milwaukee. He exemplifies what it takes for the State to succeed – people who find ways to innovate and to do more with what we have.

• Joe Van Groll – A small business owner, Van Groll began Dubay Ingredients & Grand Meadow Energies after years of working in a small in cheese plant in Stratford and being responsible for the disposal of whey. Because of the difficulty of disposing of whey, Van Groll successfully pursued a technology that would turn whey into ethanol and is poised to produce up to two million gallons of ethanol per year. Most recently, he has finished a prototype that would turn algae into biodiesel. Van Groll’s vision, creativity and hard work show us that even the smallest business can provide us with more than we thought possible.

• The Wisconsin National Guard - Next month, the Wisconsin National Guard will begin its largest deployment ever of Wisconsin troops. More than 3,500 men and women will be called up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Governor offered them and their fellow members of the military and their families, our state’s gratitude.

Sergeant First Class Ron Adams, Sergeant Allen Robertson, and Staff Sergeant Jarret D. Nelson represent the best of what Wisconsin has to offer. All three take advantage of Wisconsin’s tuition waver for veterans. They have served our country, and our duty is to make sure our state is serving them and helping their future be as bright as it can be.

Sergeant First Class Ron Adams of Milwaukee earned a B.S. degree in business management from the University of Phoenix in 2006, and is currently attending Moody Bible College for his Masters Degree in Ministry. He deployed during the first Gulf War in 1991. Adams is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Good Conduct Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze service stars, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 3, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) and the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), plus Wisconsin state awards.

Sergeant Allen Robertson, 32d Brigade Special Troops Battalion, deployed to Iraq 2007-2008. He holds a Bachelors Degree, recently completed training for Rescue Diver and Ice Rescue Specialist. He is currently enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician Course at his local Technical College and looks forward to graduating in May 2009. He lives in Chetek.

Staff Sergeant Jarret D. Nelson is assigned to Headquarters Detachment 641st Troop Command Battalion in Madison where he has performed the duties of Supply Sergeant since May 1st 2006. SSG Nelson has deployed twice in the past: once in 2001 to Afghanistan, and again in 2003 to Kuwait. Both deployments were with the 829th Engineer Detachment from Richland Center, WI. Jarret started attending College from 1996-1998 at the UW-Richland Center, and again from 1999-2001 at UW-Platteville. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies in July 2008 from Thomas A Edison State College located in Trenton, NJ. He intends on pursuing his Masters degree starting this fall. Jarret's wife Christy is currently a student with the University of Phoenix Online and will be using some of Jarret’s GI Bill benefits once the new rules take effect this fall.

• Wisconsin workers – Wisconsin is home to the best and hardest working people in the country. The worst consequence of our country’s economic condition is that, through no fault of their own, many of the best workers – here and across the country – have lost their jobs. It means that highly skilled men and women who months before were the foundation of leading companies are suddenly unemployed.

Behind unemployment numbers are real families. Janesville assembly plant workers Lynette Holden, Jim Koeberl, Todd Brien and Leo Carillo represent the skilled, hard workers of this state.

Lenette Holden is a second generation automotive industry worker. She started working at the GM Janesville plant in 1995 but was recently laid off. She is currently talking classes at Blackhawk Technical College. Luckily, Lenette has other skills to fall back on as she is a Professional Licensed Nail Technician, a Professional Nail Instructor, and a Medical Assistant.

Jim Koeberl was born and raised in Janesville. He has worked for GM 23 years – 11 years on the line and the last 12 in the benefits office. He would like to retire in Janesville in about 10 years and hopes that he will be able to keep his job.

Todd Brien, a Janesville native, is a second generation GM worker who has worked there for 23 years – his father worked at GM for 40 years – before being laid off. Brien is active in his community, volunteering with the United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and the Exchange Family Resource Center.

Leo Carrillo is a Janesville native. After high school he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After serving his country, Carrillo worked at GM for eight years before he was laid off. He had various jobs while in the General Assembly Dept. Carrillo is also a Volunteer EMT/Firefighter and is currently working towards his firefighter certification at Blackhawk Technical College.

• Sherrie Bencik – A UW-Madison med school student, Sherrie Bencik uses BadgerCare Plus. In her final year of med school, Bencik is also pregnant with a baby due this spring. After graduation, she will start her Residency in the fall in Emergency Medicine.

In State of the State Address, Governor Doyle Tells Wisconsin How to Meet the Challenges Ahead

Calls on All to Protect Basic Needs, Fight for Jobs and Lay a Foundation for Growth

MADISON – In his seventh State of the State Address, Governor Jim Doyle said he could count on Wisconsin to be tougher than the country’s tough times and laid out his priorities to protect schools and health care, get people to work and lay a foundation for economic growth despite the national economic crisis.

“A Wall Street meltdown as a result of eight years of bad economic policy and too many risky schemes has led to a national economic crisis we haven’t seen in decades,” Governor Doyle said. “As difficult as the realities are before us, I know we can work together, meet any challenge and come through stronger than ever.”

Governor Doyle has faced this type of challenge before. When the Governor came into office, he inherited a $3.2 billion budget deficit and he committed to Wisconsin’s working families, taking on the budget deficit without raising taxes, damaging schools, or eliminating critical medical care. Governor Doyle called on the Legislature to again demonstrate the spirit of Wisconsin cooperation as they address the current crisis.

Impact of National Economy on Wisconsin

Though Wisconsin planned conservatively for a sluggish economy to continue, in the fall the national economic collapse dealt unprecedented challenges to the state.

The country’s economic crisis means that consumer confidence is at an all-time low. Unemployment nationally is up to 7.1 percent nationally and 5.8 percent in Wisconsin. These factors have led to severe budget deficits in 45 states, Wisconsin included. The state budget deficit was last estimated at $5.4 billion, or 17 percent of the biennial budget.

“Because of the collapse that began in September – which many fear is going to continue to get worse before it gets better – Wisconsin is facing a budget gap that had been estimated at $5.4 billion, or 17 percent of our biennial budget,” Governor Doyle said. “That figure, unfortunately, is going to grow with the latest data. States everywhere are looking at similar pictures, and the responses are dramatic. The deficits are threatening the most essential functions of state government. Across the nation, we see major cuts proposed to education, to health care and to local government services.”

To view the slides illustrating the national economy’s damaging effect on Wisconsin’s economy, please visit:

Addressing the Crisis across Parties and Borders

Governor Doyle pledged to make difficult cuts and pointed to the steps he has taken as the crisis unfolded in the fall. State government spending will be cut $500 million this year, including $270 million that Governor Doyle ordered last spring in the budget repair bill.

When the magnitude of the budget deficit became clear, Governor Doyle ordered state government to find savings wherever it could. He halted employee bonuses, slowed distribution of grants and started auctioning 500 vehicles. Governor Doyle also announced earlier this month that he will work across state borders and political parties with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to make government more efficient and effective.

Recognizing that the economic crisis is a problem bigger than any state, Governor Doyle is working with President Obama, along with fellow governors and Congress to be strong partners in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Governor Doyle thanked the state’s Congressional delegation and Congressman Dave Obey for their work on the act. Last week, the Governor created the Office of Recovery and Reinvestment to lead state efforts to ensure an effective and responsible partnership with the federal government.

“We are sure that our partnership with the federal government in moving this country forward will be effective and responsible,” Governor Doyle said. “We can repair our roads and bridges; we can raise the next buildings for groundbreaking research. We can fix crumbling schools, find new sources of energy and clean our water. We can improve our electrical grid, broaden our internet lines and build rail lines. We will become more competitive and efficient in the long run and put people to work today.”

But the Governor said that the stimulus package will not solve the state’s deficit. He said that the state should prepare to sacrifice and face gut-wrenching decisions.

Tough Choices, Innovative Solutions

In moving forward, Governor Doyle emphasized his priorities: providing good schools for the state’s children, keeping health care affordable and available, and providing excellent services like police and fire protection that communities need to thrive.

“A second grader is not going to be able to come back when the economy is better and pick up where she left off if we fail her today,” Governor Doyle said. “An older person cannot check out of a nursing home and come back in a few years. There are basic needs our state has always met, and just as our predecessors met them in the most difficult times, we have a responsibility to meet them today.”

The most serious consequence facing most Wisconsin people is not the budget gap the state is facing, rather it is that many of the state’s best workers, through no fault of their own, are unemployed. Governor Doyle pledged to focus on the real families behind the unemployment numbers and get the state’s incredible workforce back to work.

The Governor called on the spirit of innovation, creativity and hard work to lead the state economy forward.


Over the last year, Wisconsin has seen many successes. BadgerCare Plus allowed 100,000 new people, two-thirds of them childen, to sign up for affordable health care. Wisconsin is second in the country in making health care coverage affordable and available. Governor Doyle, who is Chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, also saw the Great Lakes Compact ratified this year. The Compact involved eight states, two Canadian provinces and the federal government. It ensures that our most valuable natural resource is protected from long-term diversions and has a legal framework for sustainable management. The Clean Energy Wisconsin plan in 2008 included many new efforts to spur innovation and free us from foreign oil. The state committed to conservation, to look at new sources of energy, and to make our existing utilities cleaner.

Immediate Steps

As Wisconsin takes on the challenges facing the state in the coming year, Governor Doyle pointed to important steps the state can take to save lives, improve our health, and make our world safer.

“First, we can make sure kids with autism get the treatment they need. Private insurers should cover autism; the treatment has been proven effective, and families deserve the right to see their children improve,” Governor Doyle said.

Governor Doyle called on the Legislature to make all our public places are smoke-free. “Twenty-four other states have done it; dozens of our communities have done it. It is time for Wisconsin to take a step that improves our health, saves lives and helps people to break the addiction to tobacco,” Governor Doyle said.

“We need to put kids first and make sure that their childcare is accountable and up to high standards. There are clear steps to improve childcare in our state, and we can take them now,” Governor Doyle said.

The Governor added Wisconsin should also work to allow law enforcement officers to set up controlled, reasonable sobriety checkpoints. The state should pass legislation that will take drunk drivers off the road by making the third offense a felony.

Who We Are

Governor Doyle pointed to the heroism demonstrated by members of the Wisconsin National Guard, the people who responded to and recovered from last summer’s floods, and pilot Jeffrey Skiles, the co-pilot who helped land U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River without out any loss of life among the 155 crew and passengers aboard.

“Wisconsin, I know who we are. We’re Badgers,” Governor Doyle concluded. “We don’t shy away – we stand up. We don’t withdraw, feeling sorry for ourselves – we get up and fight. We work even harder. We don’t point fingers and fall into small minded bickering – we pull together, share the sacrifice and move forward. We don’t forget those who have been hardest hit – we look out for our brothers and sisters who need help the most. We are Badgers.”

Hintz Applauds Assembly Action to Extend Unemployment Compensation;Savings to State is $44 million

MADISON – Rep. Hintz (D-Oshkosh) today cast an emergency vote on AB 5 to extend critical unemployment compensation. By passing the extension quickly, the state will save taxpayers an estimated $44 million for the Wisconsin Unemployment Trust Fund, and will provide an additional 12 weeks of critical benefits for working families who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

“Given our current economic climate and that we are experiencing the highest rate of unemployment in our state in 20 years, I am proud that the Assembly today worked in bi-partisan manner to quickly pass this crucial legislation 96-1,” said Rep. Hintz. “This legislation is necessary to keep our state program viable and to protect and provide for our citizens during these financially difficult times.”

Because Wisconsin’s jobless rate is so high, it has put extra pressure on the Unemployment Trust Fund, and has triggered a federal assistance program to help the state cope with increased unemployment claims. AB 5 will suspend the state funded Wisconsin Supplemental Benefits program and shift unemployment benefits funding to the federal government.

The shift will save the Wisconsin Unemployment Trust Fund an estimated $44 million. The move will also enable Wisconsinites in need to access extended federal unemployment benefits from the current 8-week schedule to 20 weeks – an extra 12 weeks of breathing room for Wisconsin families who are currently weathering this economic storm.

“We must all continue to work to get our state’s economy back on track,” said Rep. Hintz. “I shall continue to work with my colleagues to create jobs, grow our economy, help businesses and support our workers.”

Rep. Hintz is available for comment today, both before and after Governor Doyle’s State of the State Address which is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. Interested parties can contact Rep. Hintz toll-free at 888-534-0054.

House Defeats Bill to Delay Digital TV Transition

Bucking the Obama administration, House Republicans on Wednesday defeated a bill to delay the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 — leaving an estimated 6.5 million U.S. households unprepared for the switchover. Read the complete story by going here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rep. Hintz & Rep. Spanbauer to Push for “John Doe” Legislation

MADISON – Representatives Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) and Richard Spanbauer (R-Town of Algoma) announced their plans to support a bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly that would reform the flaws of the current John Doe process and provide greater protections for corrections employees from frivolous, costly, and time consuming lawsuits.

"I’m glad to be a part of introducing this important legislation,” said Rep. Hintz. “This is has been a priority of mine on behalf of the hard-working men and women serving in our corrections facilities since I was first elected to the State Assembly. It is important that we stop the exploitation of the current law so corrections officials can do their job without the constant threat of being sued for unfounded reasons. This bill maintains the ability for inmates to file reports while giving judges the discretion to prevent unnecessary and wasteful legal proceedings.”

“The time has come for this bill to be introduced and signed into law,” added Rep. Spanbauer. “I’ve heard time and time again that our current John Doe process is flawed and wastes time and money in our court system, not to mention taking correction officials away from the jobs that they are paid to do. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both side of the aisle, including Representative Hintz, as well as the State Senate to get this important legislation passed and signed by Governor Doyle as soon as possible.”

Under current state law, an inmate who believes that a crime has been committed against them by a corrections officer may report this claim directly to a judge, who is required to examine the alleged offender under oath and determine whether or not a crime has been committed. The proposed legislation would allow judges to consider law enforcement reports, records and case files of the district attorney, and any other written records that the judge finds relevant when determining whether to convene a hearing or issue a complaint.

Two competing bills were introduced and passed in their respective legislative body during the 2007-2009 legislation session to address the growing number of John Doe cases filed. However, neither of these bills was passed by the other legislative body, and thus were not brought to Governor Doyle to be signed into law.

“When I was elected to serve in the State Assembly this past fall, this legislation was one of the most important items that I wanted to get to work on,” said Rep. Spanbauer. “The important thing that we have to do is to look past the politics involved and recognize that this bill is no-nonsense and protects hard-working people. I’m glad that I have a chance to work with Representative Hintz on this bill and will do what it takes to help it through the legislature.”

“I’m proud to have this opportunity to work with Representative Spanbauer on this crucial bill,” added Rep. Hintz. “We have discussed this issue with our constituents and know that this bill will prevent abuses of the legal system and protect corrections employees while maintaining the rights of inmates to pursue legal action if a crime is committed. I hope that our fellow legislators will join us in a bi-partisan fashion to pass this bill.”

Rep. Hintz to hold Office Hours

OSHKOSH– Representative Gordon Hintz will be holding office hours at the Oshkosh Senior Center to discuss a variety of topics, including the proposed federal economic stimulus package and what it could mean for Oshkosh and the upcoming 2009-2011 Wisconsin State Budget. The event is open to the public and those with questions regarding state issues are 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-Office Hours
When: Friday, January 30 9:00am-12:00pm
Where: Oshkosh Area Senior Center, 200 North Campbell Road

Governor Appoints Hintz to the Building Commission as Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee

MADISON– Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) was recently named to serve as one of eight members to the State of Wisconsin Building Commission. Rep. Hintz is one of 3 members of the Wisconsin State Assembly to serve on the Building Commission for the 2009-2011 Legislative Session. Yesterday, Governor Doyle appointed Hintz as Chair of the Building Commission’s Higher Education Subcommittee.

“I’m honored to be given the privilege of serving on the Building Commission and to be appointed as Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee,” said Rep. Hintz. “One of the most important aspects of maintaining our state institutions is ensuring the quality and integrity of the buildings in which people work, learn, and govern. With the 3rd largest State University along with Winnebago Mental Health Institution and Oshkosh Correctional Institutions, the Oshkosh area has a strong concentration of state facilities that employ hundreds of local residents. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to develop strong, comprehensive plans to develop, improve, and maintain these and other facilities around the state.”

“Rep. Hintz understands the opportunity we have at this moment, to partner with the federal government to improve our infrastructure,” said Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan. “I know that he will make sure any stimulus dollars approved for building projects will help us bring state facilities into the 21st Century, and in the process, create good, family-supporting jobs.”

The Building Commission was created by Wisconsin Law in 1949 to oversee the planning, improvement, major maintenance and renovation of state facilities, and was expanded in 1969 to include the supervision of all matters relating to the contracting of public debt. The eight members consist of Governor Jim Doyle, 3 members each from the State Senate and Assembly, and a citizen member appointed by the Governor. The building commission held their first meeting yesterday.

“This is both a challenging and exciting time to be a part of the Building Commission,” added Hintz. “With the projected budget deficit we have many difficult choices ahead. However, it is important that we maintain the facilities that are crucial to our state institutions. I’m ready to work with the Commission to develop a building program that meets the needs of Wisconsin citizens without straining their pocketbooks further.”

Driving too fast for conditions causes many wintertime troubles

Even when snow and ice-covered roadways are as slick as a skating rink, some drivers barrel along as if they're immune to the laws of physics. Not surprisingly, they often discover that they are not immune to a long, cold wait for a tow truck-and possibly an expensive traffic ticket-when their vehicle slides into a ditch or crashes because they were driving too fast for conditions.

"When road conditions are treacherous or visibility is reduced, driving at the posted speed limit may actually be too fast for conditions," says Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent David Collins. "On ice and snow, drivers must slow down to keep their vehicles under control and to be able to stop safely. They also must provide more space for vehicles around them to prevent rear-end collisions and other crashes."

Slowing down when driving conditions are poor is not just sound advice-it's also the law.

It is illegal to drive at speeds that exceed what is "reasonable and prudent" under existing road conditions. Drivers are required to adjust their speeds to take into account both the actual and potential hazards due to weather, highway conditions or other traffic.

A violation of this state law costs $198.60 with four demerit points added to the driver's record. A second offense within a 12-month period costs $249 with an additional four points.

"The slogan 'Snow Means Slow' also applies to four-wheel drive and other heavy-duty vehicles, which typically need the same stopping distance as other vehicles on slippery roads," says Superintendent Collins. "It's too late to change your driving behavior after your vehicle is in the ditch or involved in a crash. If you drive too fast for conditions, you may end up with an expensive ticket in addition to towing and vehicle repair bills."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oshkosh Police Dept Notification reference suspicious calls

RE: Suspicious phone call reference "Law Enforcement Child Safety Fund" solicitation.

I received information regarding a suspicious phone call a citizen got this morning. The female party got a call this morning from a person identifying them self on the phone as being with the “Law Enforcement Child Safety Fund” which was working with the Oshkosh Police Department gathering donations. The citizen said they worked with the police department and asked which officer they (the caller) were working with. There was silence and then the phone was hung up. The citizen does not have caller ID and did not get a phone number.

The police department is not working with this “so called fund” and I want to caution you if someone solicits you on behalf of the Oshkosh Police Department.

Sgt Sagmeister from our Crime Prevention Unit wanted me to pass along to you another apparent scam in which a large number of people, my self included, got a text message from Associated Bank regarding some bad credit.

The following is a website from the Federal Government regarding how to avoid ID Theft and what to do if you become a victim:

David Gomoll
Patrol Sergeant, Oshkosh Police Department
Team 5 Patrol Supervisor

Press release from the Oshkosh Area School District regarding make up snow days and the school calendar

Dr. Bette Lang
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Oshkosh Area School District
(920) 424-0160

The Oshkosh Area School District will adhere to the district calendar as negotiated between the Board of Education and the teachers’ union which directs school closure make-up days to be added to the end of the school year. Wisconsin State Statute 121.02(1)(f)1 mandates that 180 days AND a specified amount of minutes of student contact be conducted in order to qualify for state funding. Therefore adding minutes to the daily schedule is not an option because the district is falling short of the mandated days requirement. In anticipation of student contact days now occurring during the week of June 15, we are delaying the start of all summer school sessions until June 22. This change provides the district flexibility if there are more weather related closure days. Maintaining the negotiated calendar also allows time for staff, students and families to make adjustments for the extended year.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Top Ten Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

Brrrr…it’s cold outside! The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Source: ASPCA

OASD Press Release Regarding the Development of an Audit Committee

[We have received the following press release from the Oshkosh Area School District and are pleased to publish it here.]


For more information contact:
Scott Altmann
Executive Director of Business Services
Oshkosh Area School District
(920) 424-0120

The Oshkosh Area School District is in the process of developing a District Budget and Audit Review Committee and is looking for community members who have business, financial or auditing experience to serve on this committee on a voluntary basis for a term of one year.

Please submit your resume or description of qualifications to:

Scott Altmann
Executive Director of Business Services
P.O. Box 3048
Oshkosh , WI 54903-3048

A more complete description of this Committee can be found at

Resumes will be accepted until noon on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces New Initiative to Further Improve Criminal Justice, Corrections Systems

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle today announced that he is directing his administration to join leaders from the state’s legislative and judicial branches to develop and implement new strategies to improve Wisconsin’s criminal justice system, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

“Ever since I became Governor, my administration has implemented smart, cost-effective programs through the bipartisan support of the Legislature to address many challenges our state is facing in criminal justice and corrections,” Governor Doyle said. “Now we have the chance to make Wisconsin even more effective at slowing prison growth, reducing the number of repeat offenders, addressing the disproportionate minority representation in Wisconsin’s criminal justice system, and continuing to ensure enhanced public safety.”

Earlier this year, Governor Doyle joined Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and leaders from the state Senate and Assembly in seeking technical assistance from the non-profit, nonpartisan Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to research and develop new ways to make Wisconsin’s criminal justice system function more effectively. Wisconsin was selected for the assistance based on its bipartisan, multi-branch commitment to improve its criminal justice and corrections systems.

“Currently we are facing the largest deficit in Wisconsin history, and unless something changes, the next decade shows additional growth in the state’s prison population, which will demand even more resources and capacity to house inmates,” Governor Doyle said. “We must find more effective and cost-efficient ways to hold offenders accountable and reduce the number of repeat offenders, so that valuable resources are not spent on a growing prison population but instead on schools, basic health care for children and core services for our communities.”

The initiative is receiving funding from the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States, and from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Monday, January 05, 2009

EAA reconsiders asking for TIF money

In a pleasant, yet somewhat surprising move, the Experimental Aircraft Association has decided - at least for now - to withdraw its request seeking tax incremental financing assistance for its expansion project. According to this article in today's Oshkosh Northwestern EAA CEO Tom Poberezny has said it's not 100 percent definite that the organization will never seek TIF financing, but it's not in their plans at this time. The article goes on to say that the request was pulled after it received heavy criticism from some city councilors and the public.

One of those councilors was Tony Palmeri, who has long fought for the use of TIF monies ONLY when the development would not occur without it, one of the requirements for TIF. In this particular case, it was believed, EAA did not need or even qualify for the TIF, since it had said from the beginning that the project would occur - albeit on a slightly scaled-back level and/or at a somewhat slower pace. That apparently still is the case.

I personally like EAA and see the value of having them in our community, but am glad the organization has pulled its request in this particular case. I am all for using TIF when it meets the requirements for which TIF is intended (and as long as it's not the only tool used to spur development). But clearly, that was not the case here. Kudos to common councilors like Tony Palmeri (and Paul Esslinger) for challenging this project as an appropriate use for obtaining financial assistance using taxpayer monies. Kudos also to EAA for being committed to doing the project nonetheless, but finding financial means other than taxpayer assistance with which to do it. I'm sure the expansion will be a welcome addition to both locals and out-of-town guests when eventually completed.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A big "oops" for the state's Government Accountability Board

A word commonly used in politics and government these days is "accountability." Here in Wisconsin we've even gone from having a State Elections Board to having a Government Accountability Board. And the board has started the year off on the wrong foot.

According to this story a new web site recently rolled out by the board, which will feature campaign finance information, shows the wrong skyline on its home page! Instead of featuring artwork depicting the Madison skyline or some other imagine altogether, the site contains a photo of the Minneapolis skyline. You can see the mistake by clicking here.

According to Ethics specialist Tommy Winkler, the Connecticut-based company developing the site was merely using the Minneapolis skyline image as a "placeholder" until it found a copyright-free image of the Madison skyline. Now, I don't develop or design web sites for a living, but it seems to me if your client is in Wisconsin, you should try using images from that state until you can get exactly what you're looking for. And if you can't find what you're looking for, contract with someone to take that copyright-free shot you need.

This was a poor choice on the part of the design company and it also seems like someone in the Government Accountability Board office should have signed off on this before it went "live." Question of the day: Who should be held accountable for this gaffe?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Red Cross Announces Year End Results

Northeast WI Region
515 S. Washburn Street, Suite 201
Oshkosh, WI 54904
Tel 920-231-3590
Fax 920-231-2016

December 31, 2008

It’s been a busy year for your local American Red Cross Chapters and we are proud to present our first Northeast WI Regional Report to the Community.

Throughout this past year, we have also grown as a Region. We have streamlined operations, implemented our strategic plan and are planning individual Chapter and regional growth to serve the Northeast WI Region including the Michigan border communities even better. We’re excited for the year ahead and we look forward to your partnership. Together, we can prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

You no doubtably know we provide emergency assistance. But did you know our teams are called into action basically ever-other day? The massive June flooding counts as one-disaster and more than 90% of our calls are for residential fires. Sadly, most could be prevented. With more than two-dozen fires in the past month alone, our financial resources have been strained. However, through thick and thin, all our disaster assistance is free just when people need a little help the most.

We supported nearly 2,000 military families through emergency messages, transportation, and pre-deployment briefings. Our work in multiple VA hospitals is year-round and expanding this next year thanks to new grant funding.

Our Health & Safety training spans from youth education to our elders. With more than 70,000 trained and refreshed in life-saving skills, we have saved countless lives. Our work isn’t over, kids still drown, not every business has individuals certified in life-saving skills, nor does every household. Our goals are high. A few hours in a class could mean the difference between life and death. One of the life-saving stories on CNN this past weekend was based on a babysitting class participant.

Our community programs are unsung heroes. These specialty programs are based on the need of our specific populations; they often focus on un-met needs. For example:

· Lakeland Chapter provided almost 68,000 rides to for those 60+ or with a disability to get to needed medical, employment and other appointments

· Neenah-Menasha Chapter provides an emergency food pantry

· Outagamie Chapter Shopping & Errands program helps senior, homebound and/or disabled with services so they can remain in their home

· Fond du Lac provides an outstanding teen & young adult leadership programs

· East Central Chapter administers the Bridges program to support heating, rental and emergency funding for residents. With tough economic times, the demand is growing. A medical equipment loan program also provides extensive cost savings to individuals and families.

Every two seconds someone in the USA needs the gift of life. Through 676 blood drives, our supporters saved hundreds of lives. This easy self-less act, give so much to someone you may never know. We’re proud to provide half the nation's blood supply.

The American Red Cross is a dynamic organization that has served the country since 1881. With this being said, it’s amazing to learn that much of what is accomplished 24/7/365 is done by countless volunteers whom give gifts of time, energy and knowledge. Each volunteer has their own story, their reason for giving back. It’s our honor to call them our partners and brand ambassadors.

Seasons Greetings!

Barbara Behling
American Red Cross – Northeast WI Region
Regional Community Development Officer
515 S. Washburn Street, Suite 201
Oshkosh , WI 54904