Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces $9.7 Million for Head Start and Early Head Start

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that more than 50 Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Wisconsin will receive $9.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding will help Wisconsin Head Start programs work with more children, improve classrooms, expand hours of operation and upgrade transportation services.

“I am very excited about the opportunities these new resources will create. Head Start and Early Head Start are programs central to our work supporting families and helping children thrive,” Governor Doyle said. “These programs unlock the potential in young children, giving them the opportunity to grow and shine.”

Head Start and Early Start programs provide comprehensive early childhood education services to children across the state. The increased funding will encourage the health and development of hundreds of Wisconsin’s youngest children.

All Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Wisconsin are eligible to apply for this funding. Guidance for applying for these funds will be issued in the coming weeks.

Head Start was established in 1965 to promote school readiness and to provide a comprehensive array of health, nutritional and social services to eligible 4 and 5 year olds and their families.

Early Head Start was established in 1995 for children from birth to three years of age and pregnant women in recognition of scientific evidence that a child’s earliest years are extremely important to healthy development. Early Head Start promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, enhances the development of infants and toddlers and promotes healthy family functioning.

The Department of Children and Families works with Head Start programs as a part of its mission to protect children, strengthen families, and build communities. The Department will continue to coordinate with Head Start and Early Head Start providers as additional ARRA resources become available through future opportunities.

Friday, April 24, 2009

OPD announces upcoming events

[We have received the following information about upcoming events from the Oshkosh Police Department and are pleased to publish it for our readers...]

The Helmet Challenge Oshkosh Area
Protect your melon. Take the Helmet Challenge.
Parents, join Affinity Medical Group and Safe Kids Fox Valley and make sure your child is geared up for safety. Bike helmets for kids in cool styles and colors will be available.
• Bring the kids. (Helmets available for children ages one and up.)
• Helmets are only $10. (Please bring cash in the exact amount.)
• Get a custom fitting from Affinity Medical Group staff and representatives from Safe Kids FoxValley.
• Learn important injury prevention information about buckling up, water safety, choking rescue, firearms safety, poison prevention, fire safety and other risks your family faces every day.
• Bike Rodeo for kids, weather permitting.
• Bike safety checks, so please bring your bike.
Saturday, April 25
9 a.m. to noon
Mercy Oakwood
2700 W. Ninth Avenue
Registration is encouraged but not required. Walk-ins are welcome!
• Click below to register online, or call Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900.


Also if you have medications that you would like to dispose of, please drop them off at this location instead of just flushing them.


WHEN: Thursday, APRIL 30
TIME: 8 am – 12 pm

 Bring medications in original bottles—Don’t mix !!
 Blacken out name & address only

Pills—ointments—lotions—drops—inhalers—pet meds



A free bike and skating safety program will be held on May 9th, at The Club, 501 E Parkway Av, Oshkosh. The clinic will run from 9am to 1130am and is open to children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
If you would like to volunteer, please call the Club at (920) 233-1414.



A free bike safety program will be held on May 16th, at Walmart in Oshkosh, from 11am until 1pm. If you have any questions, please call our crime prevention officer, Joe Nichols, at (920) 236-5742.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oshkosh National Night Out

[We have received the following information and are pleased to pass it along to our readers from the Oshkosh Police Department.]

The Oshkosh Police Department invites citizens to join them in the planning of the third annual Oshkosh National Night Out scheduled for Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at South Park . Oshkosh will join thousands of other communities around the country in hosting the event on the same night. The goal of National Night Out is to involve citizens in building a safer community by providing an opportunity to learn more about local fire and law enforcement; increase crime prevention awareness, and celebrate neighborhoods. The event is designed to be fun and to get people to come together in a safe, alcohol-free environment.

In 2007, nearly 300 people attended the event held at the Boys and Girls Club. South Park was the site of the 2008 event attended by nearly 700 people. In the past, this free event has included music, food, children’s activities and family games, door prizes, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, children’s fishing tournament, community resource fair, martial arts demonstrations, squad cars, fire trucks, armored vehicle, Community Blood Center Bloodmobile, child fingerprinting, Jail and Bail and more.

The first planning meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 6:00-7:00pm in the Department’s Erickson Community Room. The Oshkosh Police Department wants citizens to help with the planning of this event and as volunteers and/or to sponsor an activity at the 2009 event. A video of last year’s event can be viewed at If you are willing to help with planning or want to be a sponsor, contact Dorry Wilner, Community Programs Coordinator at 236-5714 or

Dorry Wilner
Community Programs Coordinator
Oshkosh Police Department
420 Jackson Street
Oshkosh, WI 54901
(920)236-5087 Fax

"We encourage citizens to join us as volunteers, partners and donors and thank you for your support and commitment to our partnership for a safe and strong community."

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 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, April 24th 9:15am-12:00pm

Where: Oshkosh Area Senior Center, 200 North Campbell Road

Governor Doyle, Superintendent Burmaster Announce $366 Million for Wisconsin Schools

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle and State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster today announced $366 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for Wisconsin school districts which will be used for special education and for schools with a high percentage of low-income students. The Governor and Superintendent made the announcement at Thoreau Elementary School in Madison. Madison schools will receive about $11.7 million of the allocation.

“During this tough time it is incredibly important we remain focused on our most basic principles, especially education,” Governor Doyle said. “Without this critical funding from the ARRA, we would have been looking at cutting school funding and laying off teachers. Instead we are investing in what is most important to our state – education. We cannot ask a second grader to come back and complete their studies five years from now when the economy has turned around. The education we provide now will be the strength of our state and nation for decades to come.”

“When we invest in education, we not only boost the economy right now, but in the future as well,” Burmaster said. “Today’s students will be tomorrow’s workforce, drivers of our future economic growth. We need to leverage the use of these funds for innovative programs that focus on student achievement, and that can be maintained in the future. Along with protecting jobs, there is no more urgent goal than closing achievement gaps and ensuring a quality education for all students.”

The $366 million in ARRA funding will flow through two existing programs: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, which supports special education and early academic and behavioral interventions; and Title I, Part A, which supports educational services for economically disadvantaged students and outreach to parents. The state’s total ARRA allocation through IDEA, Part B, is $218 million. Title I, Part A, allotments in Wisconsin total $148 million.

The statewide and local funding amounts were determined using formulas and procedures prescribed by ARRA and other federal laws. School districts have through the 2010-11 school year to spend their funds.

IDEA has historically been underfunded at the federal level, with the federal government never fulfilling its statutory commitment to 40 percent of expenses incurred by local school districts. Currently, federal funding accounts for an 18 percent share of special education costs; estimates suggest ARRA funding combined with an increase in the regular appropriation will bring the federal share of support to approximately 29 percent. The Department of Public Instruction will advocate for maintaining this level of funding in the future.

The Governor and Superintendent Burmaster are working together to ensure these funds are wisely spent by schools to bolster the economy and support student achievement. The Department of Public Instruction is providing districts with a set of suggested strategies for using this increased federal funding. The strategies will help districts make wise investments in educational programs and avoid potential funding cliffs after the expiration of the ARRA funding in two years. The DPI is also providing a series of webinars and other technical assistance to districts and Cooperative Education Service Agencies (CESAs) to help them work with these funding streams.

The ARRA also provides competitive grants for teacher incentive funding, teacher quality enhancement, state-wide longitudinal data system development, school lunch equipment purchases, and enhancing education through technology grants.

Local funding allocations for IDEA, Part B, and Title I, Part A, are viewable at:

More information about the impact of the ARRA on Wisconsin schools and libraries can be found at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What’s up with the Wisconsin Street Bridge

Since last week the Wisconsin Street Bridge has been restricted to one lane of traffic on each side – the other two lanes closed for some kind of road work. Part of the newly poured road appears to have been torn up for whatever work is being done and it looks like more may be torn up in the future, as the lanes that are still open appear to have grooves made in them – much like we often see when a road is going to be worked on.

So now I have a few questions: (1) What exactly is being done (2) Why could this not have been done before the bridge work was completed and the bridge re-opening held, and (3) was our public works director Dave Patek notified by the DOT about this and, if so, why could he not have notified the city manager, common council members and/or the press about it? I spoke with Councilor Tony Palmeri about it earlier this afternoon and he was uncertain as to exactly what was going on. City manager Mark Rohloff had a similar response but said he had seen a brief press release about it, though it wasn’t too specific about anything.

The DOT’s web site does contain said press release, but here again, why did the public not know about this and why could this work not have been done before the bridge was reopened last November? Curiously enough, I see the Oshkosh Northwestern has an article online today about bridge inspections being conducted this week that are going to cause brief lane closures to three of the four bridges in Oshkosh (all but the Wisconsin Street bridge; of course it’s already got lane closures due to other reasons). Too bad we didn’t have the same kind of heads-up about this nine or 10-day closure, especially on a bridge that was under reconstruction for approximately two years and hasn’t even been reopened six months yet. Is such basic communication really that complicated, especially when taxpayers’ money is involved and they and other drivers are going to be inconvenienced? Clearly someone, somewhere along the way has dropped the ball on this one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An election of another kind

[We have received the following about a public hearing and election tomorrow, Monday, April 13 at 7 pm. According to the information there is a meeting and election in every one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Here in Winnebago County it will be held at the Webster Stanley Auditorium, 915 Hazel St., Oshkosh. The portions of the message that have to do with locations other than Oshkosh have been removed to keep the information simple.]

Hello! This is a reminder that Monday, April 13 at 7 pm there is an important vote in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the only state in the country that gives citizens the opportunity to vote for delegates to represent each county in the Conservation Congress, a citizens advisory body to the DNR and the Natural Resources Board…For 75 years this meeting has been held the 2nd Monday in April, but most Wisconsinites know nothing about it. It has been attended almost exclusively by hunters, trappers and anglers. That means other citizens concerned with how our natural resources are managed are not being heard – hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, wildflower enthusiasts and other recreationists have no representation. I urge you to get involved and commit to attending this election every year. If the incumbent delegates are unopposed, consider running for a delegate position. I am running for a delegate position in Milwaukee to give a voice to the unrepresented, draw attention to this event and broaden the focus of Conservation Congress. Please attend the election Monday April 13 at 7 pm and VOTE! For a list of election locations in every county go to this DNR’s web site page. Thanks for your interest!

- Barbara Eisenberg

[Again, by way of reminder, though Barbara is running for a position in Milwaukee County, each county in Wisconsin will hold a hearing and election. Ours in Winnebago County will be held tomorrow, Monday, April 13, 2009 at 7 pm at the Webster Stanley Auditorium, located at 915 Hazel St., Oshkosh.]

My take on Tuesday’s elections

A number of people I spoke with the day after the elections were rather surprised that I was not too upset about the outcome. In fact, they commented on how amazingly calm I was. I guess I was – and still am – because I’m looking at the whole thing with a realistic approach.

First with respect to the mayoral race, Paul Esslinger as mayor is something I would have preferred not to see, but let’s face it; it’s also not the end of the world as we now know it. After all, by himself he can’t screw up too much or even make any changes for that matter. He’s still just one person and only has one vote. I expect he’ll do a lot of chest-thumping and be filled with even more puffery than we’ve witnessed in the past because he has the so-called “bully pulpit” now. While some have not used that position as such, I think it’s safe to assume the mayor-elect will. I will, however, be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. We’re going to see, I suspect, pretty quickly, just how much Esslinger really believes in listening to the people and doing what they want, as opposed to moving forward with his own mission.

One of his first “tests” of not only listening to the majority of his constituents, but also working with others and being willing to compromise, will be in the selection of a successor for his council seat. I’ve blogged on this in the past that it should be the runner-up in the council election. But since that person was Steve Cummings and Mr. Cummings doesn’t necessarily have the Paul Esslinger anti-development, anti-budget mindset, it’s unlikely he’ll get the nod from the mayor-elect. It will be interesting to see who Esslinger recommends for this position. But considering any successor will require an affirmative vote by four council members, this could be an interesting, but let’s hope not lengthy or dragged out, situation.

I did find Esslinger’s comments interesting in that he wants to sit down with the city manager to discuss their individual “visions” for the city and try to find some common ground. Inasmuch as he only has one vote, I would think the mayor-elect would want to discuss the council’s collective vision as opposed to just his own, then compare it with the city manager’s. Of course, I would have thought that would have been done when they hired Mark Rohloff. But since they didn’t enough foresight – or “vision” to bother setting any goals for their new hire last summer, it’s possible they didn’t compare visions either.

Next we come to the school board race. Imagine a Becker, Schneider and Monte all on the school board at the same time. Even if they can sway one more vote their way I think we can expect to see as little getting done in the district as we have under other school board compositions. Let’s hope Ben Schneider II was sincere when he said he could have handled certain situations differently when he was on the board previously, and that he will carry that attitude forward as he takes his new oath of office. To just vote no because you don’t get your entire way, as we’ve seen some board members do in the past, solves nothing and proves only that you’re a spoiled brat who wants everything their way or nothing at all. But these candidates have made some rather bold statements during candidate forums and in interviews, so it will be interesting if they can actually accomplish what they said they were going to do. For the sake of the district, let’s hope so, but I have my doubts, just based on the reality of the situations and circumstances they’re dealing with.

One thing some people are expecting is that the district – and city, for that matter – under new “leadership” will “get a handle” on salaries and benefits. Good luck with that. It doesn’t matter who you have in appointed/hired positions or who you have in elected office. The fact remains you have certain controls put in place under state laws and while it might be nice to see public sector benefits brought more in line with those of the private sector, it can only be taken so far. And if our newly elected people try to take it too far they will find themselves in arbitration – and probably losing – more than we’ve seen in the past.

I am hopeful the new school board – once seated – can get the repairs made to buildings, as provided for in the referendum question that did pass. I also hope they find a way to maintain other buildings, without sacrificing safety for cost. And I will be curious to see exactly what they do with facilities, long-range planning, the calendar, etc. I wonder if it will be as easy as the newly elected board members have made it seem. Some citizens I’ve talked to are already talking a recall if they can’t make the things they’ve promised happen within the first year.

All in all, despite a changing of the guard, so to speak, in both the school district and the city council, I predict there will not be quite the changes these newly-elected folks have promised and things may go along pretty much as they have for the last several years. And while I’d like to see some changes that I think would be for the better, we must be cautious to not go too far back in our history. It’s part of our history, after all, and some of the people involved with it, which caused the troubles we are struggling with today.

(For a very in-depth take on what one citizen expects under mayor-elect Esslinger, check out The Chief’s blog.)

Meanwhile, to those outgoing people on the Common Council and school board - Frank Tower, Bryan Bain, Amy Weinsheim, Dennis Kavanaugh and Wayne Traska - thank you for your years of time and service. It is a thankless job that you've done and some of you have had to endure more than your fair share of nastiness and non-relevant comments and personal attacks from certain people in this community. Those people may not like or appreciate the job you've done and they may disagree with your politics, but by their nastiness they've also shown that, political differences notwithstanding, they cannot begin to hold a candle to the class and maturity with which you've done your jobs. Best wishes to each of you in whatever you choose to pursue in the future.

Polk Library 5th Annual Book Sale

Tuesday, April 14th, 7:00am – 10 pm
Wednesday, April 15th, 7:00am – 1pm

801 Elmwood Ave
Enter on the mall side of the building
Sale is across from the circulation desk


Most books will be 50 cents each or three for a dollar

Books from all subject areas!

Classic Literature
Contemporary Literature
Social Sciences
Reference books & Atlases
Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

And many treasures & surprises, including some videos, sets, etc.

There will also be some specially priced items to choose from!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Filling vacant council seats

The April 2 editorial in the Oshkosh Northwestern, which can be found by going here focused on how best to fill a vacancy on the Oshkosh Common Council in the event Paul Esslinger is elected mayor next Tuesday, which would make his council seat vacant because he is in the middle of his council term. Council seats which become vacant during a council member’s term have traditionally been filled by appointment of a majority of the council.

According to the editorial, Esslinger has told the Northwestern’s editorial board that if he is elected mayor, he would seek applications and resumes from the public to fill his unfinished term. Presumably those applications would then be vetted through by he and the council and a vote be taken, with the majority winner filling that seat, but it is unclear for certain how it would be handled because the Oshkosh Common Council has not yet been faced with the situation of a popularly elected mayor needing to have his or her council seat filled. Nor has the council yet had any real discussions on how to do this.

The Northwestern has suggested that the best way to fill a vacated seat would be to have the runner-up in that same year’s council election fill the seat, and its editorial board points out the reasons why this is the best way to handle such a situation, as opposed to the method suggested by Esslinger, or by some other means. The editorial makes good sense. And it may be the best way to fill any council seat that becomes available at any juncture: Offer it to the runner-up from that year's council race.

But there is another issue that several people have brought to my attention. It’s come up every time Esslinger has run for mayor, but I’ve heard it more this time than in the past.

That is that the council should do something to fix this problem from even happening in the first place. The way the council elections are scheduled, three seats are elected one year; four the next year. As a result, when Esslinger runs for mayor or if someone on his same election cycle runs for the position of mayor, and they lose, they continue to serve on the council, Conversely, if someone in the other election cycle decides to run for mayor, they have to essentially decide whether they want to run for council or for mayor. Running for both positions, if even possible from a legal standpoint, would only cause confusion for voters – and a similar situation of having to fill a vacated seat in the event said person would get elected to the positions of both councilor and mayor. Again, I don’t know if it’s legally possible to run for both, nor do I know how to fix this pesky election cycle problem, but I see the concern some people have and agree that it should be remedied if it can be, and if so, sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, how do you think Esslinger’s council seat should be filled if he’s elected mayor? Vote in our online poll.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Please Help - Window for change in city's chemical policy

[We have received this from Justin Mitchell and are pleased to publish it on his behalf.]

April 13 at 6:00pm, the city parks board will be reviewing the current city's policy of applying synthetic chemicals to Lake Winnebago along Menominee Park - chemicals that are listed by the US Gov as hazardous, and a policy which is short sighted and irresponsible at best.

I posted a piece on this issue here:

Please take a look. It is really important that we get as many folks as possible to either attend this meeting, or send an email to city staff voicing their opposition of chemical applications to our water. City contact is included in the main street oshkosh post.

This won't take more than 5-7 minutes of your time, but will greatly help our city take a big step forward towards responsible, sustainable government.

Please also forward to any of your groups and contacts. Support from student groups and community agencies would be huge in this effort!

Thanks much!