Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rep. Hintz to Return Portion of Legislative Pay; Joins bi-partisan effort to cut state spending

MADISON – Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) issued the following statement regarding his decision to return 16 days of his legislative salary over the next two years as part of the bi-partisan effort to cut state spending. Following Governor Doyle’s recent announcement of a 16 day furlough for all state employees over the biennium, many legislators have decided that they will return 16 days of their salary. The Wisconsin State Constitution prohibits legislators from being furloughed.

“As we continue to look for ways to solve Wisconsin’s growing budget deficit, a number of difficult decisions have to be made. The original proposed budget already includes $2.2 billion in spending cuts – the largest and deepest in Wisconsin history. However, the recent deficit numbers prove that there are additional cuts that need to be made. While the Constitution does not allow legislators to be furloughed like state employees and legislative staff, I will return the equivalent of 16 days of my legislative salary over the next biennium.

"The current economic downturn has had a devastating impact on our economy as well as state revenues, which has threatened our government’s ability to fund basic services, schools, and tax relief. As a result we need to find equitable ways to fund these crucial services without placing a higher burden on Wisconsin families that are already struggling. We are asking Wisconsin state employees, legislative staff, and their families to make a significant sacrifice in these difficult times, and it is only fair that we in the Legislature do the same.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces State Angel Network Investments Rose 28 Percent in 2008

ATLANTA – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that Wisconsin angel networks and funds posted a 28 percent increase in early stage investments in 2008, reaching more than $15 million invested in 53 deals. Recently released data showed that angel investing was down 26 percent nationally for the same year compared to 2007.

“Wisconsin’s angel networks and funds are finding good deals in Wisconsin, despite the economic downturn,” Governor Doyle said. “Wisconsin has a nationally admired strategy for building angel capital, and it’s important we keep moving forward. This is why I’ve included in my budget funding for the Wisconsin Venture Fund, which will increase venture financing in Wisconsin and continue turning this research into viable, job-creating businesses.”

“Wisconsin’s angel networks and funds are the backbone for our early stage market, dramatically increasing funding levels at a time when the entrepreneurial economy needs it the most,” said Joe Kremer, Director of the Wisconsin Angel Network.

While Wisconsin’s overall early stage investment market has followed the national trend, down 33 percent to $98 million in 2008, the increase in angel network and fund investing demonstrates the success of Wisconsin’s focus on building and retaining angel networks and funds.

Governor Doyle has worked hard to spur creation of risk capital in Wisconsin, including investor tax credits, the formation of the Wisconsin Angel Network and the proposed Wisconsin Venture Fund to help facilitate deal flow, investor exchanges and network creation. In February, Governor Doyle expanded the investor tax credit law as part of an early economic recovery bill. Enhancements include: raising the cap on tax credits for angel investments from $1 million to $4 million; tripling the annual pool of credits available for angle credits, from $5.5 million to $18.25 million per year, and venture credits, $6 million to $18.75 million; and allowing angel investors to claim the entire 25 percent credit on their investment in the first taxable year.

Angel investors are high net-worth individuals who invest in start-up ventures, sometimes alone and sometimes as members of a group. More than 250 angels in 28 groups are affiliated with WAN, which is a public-private program of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Governor Doyle announced the survey results during the 2009 BIO international convention in Atlanta, Georgia, which is being attended by a Wisconsin delegation that includes representatives of many early stage companies. The survey was produced by the Wisconsin Angel Network, which is managed by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Surveyed for the report were Wisconsin angel groups and funds, as well as major law firms that handle deals for individual angels and others.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Governor Doyle Makes Wisconsin Smokefree

MILWAUKEE, GREEN BAY, MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed legislation to make public places, including restaurants, taverns, and other indoor workplaces, smokefree. The Governor was joined at bill-signing events around the state today by business owners, health officials and smokefree Wisconsin advocates.

“It’s time for every person in Wisconsin to breathe freely at restaurants, taverns, and workplaces across the state,” Governor Doyle said. “A smokefree Wisconsin will save money in health care costs, improve public health and save lives. I wish the ban would be implemented sooner, but I am proud the state is embracing the healthy direction the world is going.”

Governor Doyle has fought the scourge of tobacco his entire career. In 2007, he launched a statewide anti-smoking initiative which included a proposal to make all public workplaces smokefree. In addition, he has taken a number of steps to reduce smoking in Wisconsin, including raising the cigarette tax by $1 and dedicating new funds to cessation programs, providing free quit-smoking medications through the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line, and increasing youth tobacco prevention efforts. In 1999, as Attorney General, he negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement for the state with Big Tobacco.

The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line offers free, confidential, non-judgmental coaching and information about how to quit. Research shows smokers who use the Quit Line are four times more likely to quit than if they try to quit on their own. In 2007, there were 13,950 calls to the Quit Line. In 2008, after the cigarette tax was increased by $1 on January 1, there were nearly 41,000 calls. In 2008, adult smoking in Wisconsin reached a record low – 19.6 percent – marking the first time ever below 20 percent.

SB 181, a comprehensive smoking ban, prohibits smoking in workplaces in Wisconsin after July 5, 2010. Existing cigar bars and specialty tobacco shops are grandfathered in and are not required to abide by the ban, but cigar bars or specialty tobacco shops that open after the bill’s effective date would be required to be smoke free. Any person who attempts to violate the ban is issued a first-time warning and will be subject to a $100-250 fine for each subsequent violation. Businesses can establish an outdoor smoking area that cannot be regulated by local governments. Thirty-seven Wisconsin communities have local smoking bans which will remain in place until the statewide ban takes effect.

According to the National Cancer Society, 5,000 kids try their first cigarette every day and 2,000 of them become regular smokers. One-third will eventually die from their addiction. Exposure to second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in America and has been proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease and serious respiratory diseases in nonsmokers. Bar and restaurant workers have a significantly greater risk of dying from lung cancer than the general public due, in part, to their continuous exposure to secondhand smoke at work.

For information on the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW), visit

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Esslinger Watch - Part 1

There’s been much talk this past week – both on the blogs and in the community – as our new mayor decided to not reappoint two longtime board/commission members to their posts. Some say it was dirty politics; some say it was both dirty and predictable; others say it was just Paul Esslinger making his mark on the city and giving it a breath of fresh air. Whatever it is, the timing of two of the applications – those of John Hinz and Kent Monte – are interesting and suspect. Yesterday I received an email from someone, who reviewed the applications at City Hall and wrote me with the following observations:

“Bob Fried applied to be appointed to the Park Commission on Dec 29, 2008. He runs a landscape company and wants to make Oshkosh more green.

"John Hinz applied to be appointed to the Plan Commission on May 11, 2009. His only employment listed was an ump for the Oshkosh Recreation Dept. He said he had experience during his recent campaign by having contact with many people as a candidate. He also said he had "upper level managerial experience"

"Kent Monte applied to be appointed to the Plan Commission on May 4, 2009. He wrote "I feel that I will bring a more common, yet diverse, outlook on the community and be able to facilitate progress."

It is possible that some of these people had applied previously to serve on a board or commission. But I believe when John Hinz appeared on our show as part of his recent candidacy he said he had not applied in the past. My co-host Dan Rylance and I both suggested to all the candidates we interviewed that they might want to do apply for service on a commission or board. Some said yes, they’d look into it. Yet, Hinz – recommended by Esslinger as an alternate for the plan commission – apparently didn’t bother applying until May 11, more than a month after Esslinger won the election, and was already being recommended only a few days later. People will have to draw their own conclusions about the timing of the applications, Esslinger’s motives and everything else associated with this situation. A lot of good comments and keen observations have already been made about Esslinger’s actions. Many of them can be found on the Oshkosh Northwestern’s OshKonversation site. For a very in-depth analysis by one local blogger, check out what The Chief has to say in this blog posting. The Oshkosh Northwestern also has a well-presented editorial about it.

Naturally these appointments have to be confirmed by the rest of the council, but, frankly, I think we’ve already begun to see the stage set for that. Whatever Esslinger’s reasons or strategy, he could have handled this situation better, but chose not to. I’m certainly not surprised by that lack of class he displayed and many others apparently aren’t either. But as one blogger stated: What goes up, must come down. And another suggested that Esslinger will probably not learn from his mistakes, but they hoped Oshkosh will learn from its’.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Silent on $6.6 Billion Budget Deficit

Madison -- After months of insisting the state budget crisis was smaller than official estimates, the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has turned silent in light of decreased revenue collections putting the budget deficit at $6.6 billion.

"Todd Berry and the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance tried to convince us there was no looming budget deficit and no need to close corporate loopholes or raise taxes on the top one percent," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "With a $6.6 billion deficit, Wisconsin needs solutions, not a corporate-funded fiddle player supporting less taxes for the wealthy while Wisconsin's future goes up in smoke."

As early as mid-2008, Berry began insisting budget deficit numbers from officials at the capitol calculated at the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau were overstated. According to a November 2008 article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram,"The overall message Berry provided was that the current economy is not as bad off as it was during previous downturns." With states across the country facing record deficits as result of the failed Bush economic policies, experts agree this is the worst budget situation Wisconsin has faced in generations.

In an April 2008 column for the Capitol Region Business Journal, Berry estimated a budget shortfall as low as $650 million while official reports showed it much higher. In November 2008, when new official numbers put the deficit at $5.4 billion, Berry called the numbers "unreal."

"Todd Berry and the Taxpayers Alliance either have suspicious data or suspicious motives," said Ross. "The deficit is ten times bigger than what the Taxpayers Alliance predicted just one year ago and Todd Berry needs to be asked why WTA's predictions were so wrong."

One Wisconsin Now reported current and former board members of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated over $288,000 to Republicans and conservative candidates since 1991, compared to just $24,500 to Democrats and liberals. Berry was also a key speaker at the arch-conservative Americans for Prosperity anti-tax event in February joining Wisconsin's leading Republicans and GOP spokesperson and policy expert Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher.

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

Celebrity Chef Night comes to Becket's in Oshkosh


Becket's Restaurant in downtown Oshkosh will be
featuring Celebrity Chef Night beginning Tuesday April
28th. Guest chefs will design a three-course dinner, and
specialty cocktail recipe. Becket's will provide the
ingredients, kitchen staff, and wait staff. Becket's will
donate a portion of the cost of each dinner served to the
guest chef's favorite charity. The celebrity chef who sells
the most of his or her menu in 2009 will also receive a
grand prize donation to their chosen charity.

Upcoming Celebrity Chefs:
5/5/9: Stephanie Mataik to benefit WI Conservation Society
5/12/9: Nicole Brayton to benefit the Grand Oprea House
5/19/9 : Phyllis Leach to benefit the Oshkosh Area Humane

Interested chefs should contact Kris Larson at Becket's to
schedule their date and consultations. Cooking experience
is not required, and any level of involvement in the cooking
process is acceptable.
For more information or questions please contact: Kris Larson 920.230.3333

Sen. Hopper to Return Pay

[Madison, Wisc…] State Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) has announced that he will return a portion of his pay to the state to help address the state budget deficit. Last week, Gov. Jim Doyle announced that the state budget deficit had worsened by as much as $1.5 billion after reduced revenue collections this year. He also announced plans to furlough state workers to help makeup the shortfall.

“As a public official, I think it’s important to lead by example,” Hopper said. “Under Wisconsin’s constitution, public officials cannot be furloughed, but I pledge to voluntarily return an amount of my state salary equal to the number of furlough days imposed on state employees.”

The full extent of the additional budget deficit is not yet known and it is too early to know how many days state employees will be required to be furloughed. Last week, Gov. Doyle indicated that it could be as many as sixteen days over the next two years. Sen. Hopper still plans to work on state business during those days, despite returning his pay.

Sen. Hopper’s return of pay is in addition to his donation of the biennial salary increase given to all legislators at the beginning of the year. Sen. Hopper donated the $2,500 raise to the Strong Kids Scholarship Funds at the Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Dodge County YMCA’s.

Program on upcoming health care reform initiative


The event will focus on the upcoming debate over President Obama's initiative to reform the health care system including an update on the major issues in the debate and the legislative process. The event will also provide health care reform advocates with the key message points that advocates will need to carry this historic battle. Robert Kraig, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Program Director, will be presenting.


Citizen Action of Wisconsin

For more information, please call Dan Wadle at 920-676-2028 or e-mail at or call Tina Haffeman at 920-235-5918 or e-mail at

Be informed!
What: Program on upcoming health care reform initiative
Who: Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Where: Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 311 Divsion, Oshkosh
When: Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 pm
Contacts: Dan Wadle or Tina Haffeman for more information

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CitiCable 10 and CATV 2 programs win 18 awards

(Oshkosh, WI) Oshkosh Community Media Services (OCMS) is proud to announce that locally produced and staff programs collected 18 awards at the eleventh annual Wisconsin Association of Public, Educational and Government Channels Video Festival. The programs were broadcast on CitiCable 10 and CATV 2 over the past calendar year.

Awards of Excellence
Talk show It’s Your Law - Ron Bullock
Entertainment The Falling Mule Experiment - Chris Nobbe

Awards of Achievement
Magazine Format: Oshkosh Today - OCMS Staff
Series: Focus on Health - Empyre Pyctures
Series: Happy Tails “Puppy Club” - Cheryl Rosenthal
Talk show: Eye on Oshkosh: Corporate Tax Loopholes - Cheryl Hentz
Talk show: Helping Hands - John Nieman & Judy Richey
Talk show: It’s Your Environment - Ron Bullock

Awards of Merit
Documentary: Old Oshkosh New Discoveries - Scott Williams
Education: Adventures in Investing - Jeff Kemp/Nebula Studios
Entertainment: Waterfest Concert Series - OCMS Staff
Govt. Coverage: Beyond the Badge - Steve Sagmeister
Crafts: Design Details - Jason Toney
Local events: Oshkosh Holiday Parade - OCMS Staff
Local events: WI. Street Bridge Dedication - OCMS Staff
PSA: OCM Card “Did I Say Wow” - Friends of OCM
PSA: 2009 OCM Card Testimonial - Friends of OCM
Seniors: Senior Savvy - Molly Butz

OCMS staff would like to congratulate and thank all the local producers and volunteers for their hard work and support of OCMS programming.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One city’s answer to redevelopment

We have so much land in Oshkosh that needs to be redeveloped, in particular along the river, but despite plans coming forward over the course of the last several years, not much seems to be happening. Sure, there is said to be activity behind the scenes, but to those of us on the outside looking in, and I suspect to some council members, as well, it’s not much more than a-wishin’ and a-hopin.’ Here’s an example of what one city is doing – working in concert with the state and private developers.

The city of Allen Park, Michigan had a huge area of land that needed to be redeveloped and Hollywood has come to the rescue. According to this piece from WXYZ-TV in Detroit a $146 million movie, television and new media production studio will be built along Southfield road near I-94. The studio is expected to employ up to 3,000 skilled workers while at full capacity, with most of them in unionized trades. Residents of Allen Park and laid off union workers will get first shot at the jobs at the facility. Also unique about this project is the fact that it will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits. In addition, the project will include a village where people can live, shop and find entertainment options.

The city’s mayor commented on the project, saying it represents a creative and progressive approach to community-based economic development and redevelopment and that under the agreement with Jimmy Lifton (the Hollywood executive and native Detroiter whose concept this is), the city will own equity in the studios. In addition, the studios are being developed on brown field property currently occupied by various buildings and open fields, so it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

Obviously this project took the collaborative efforts of city officials, state lawmakers, various state agencies and private parties. It also was made possible through film tax credits/incentives for the film industry - something, sadly, Wisconsin's Gov. Doyle wants to eliminate. But it just goes to show what can be done when people come together to work on a project and have an open mind to the possibilities. We’ve had success – and there was certainly a lot of excitement – with the partial filming of “Public Enemies” in Oshkosh. As I read the press release and news articles about this story from Michigan I thought to myself, yes, the situations are different, but wouldn’t it be nice to have such a project here and experience filmmaking year-round, while providing excellent jobs and tourist opportunities at the same time? More importantly, wouldn’t it just be nice to do something special and unique with some of our undeveloped property instead of sticking with the same old, boring concept of a hotel and office building? Let’s get creative and develop some real mixed use along our riverfront. And let’s make technology a part of it because that’s a field that continues to grow (and there are tech zone tax credits available in Wisconsin for many technology-related projects). This story is proof positive that when you think outside of the box, amazing things can happen.

Locomotive could return to Oshkosh, council to decide Tuesday

We read in this morning’s online version of the Oshkosh Northwestern that The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay has offered to donate a 1963 GP-30 Diesel Locomotive to the city for the purpose of displaying in Oshkosh. The locomotive once ran on the Soo Line Railroad, which passed through the city up until the 1960s, the article notes. Kudos to Mayor Paul Esslinger for expressing interest in getting the locomotive back here, after the museum tried – though unsuccessfully – to sell it. I agree it would be nice to have a piece of our history back home. The Oshkosh Common Council will vote on whether to accept the gift this Tuesday night; let’s hope council members approve it.

Where to put the locomotive then would be one of the next obvious questions. The City of Fond du Lac has had a similar Soo Line display near one of the entrances to Lakeside Park for as long as I can remember and the city’s miniature train runs past it several times a day in the summer months (see photo). We would not necessarily have to follow suit, though. At the entrance to the city might be a possibility, as could the planned park in the Michigan Street area where the train used to run (as Esslinger has suggested), or even somewhere along the riverfront. Before it can be displayed, though, they’ll have to figure out where to temporarily store it and who might repaint it to remove the current Wisconsin Central Railroad logo on it and make it resemble the old Soo Line railroad. Ordinarily I would say to have some of these questions answered before accepting something. (The city also has yet to establish a gift acceptance policy, and I wonder if it ever will.) But in this case the railroad museum would likely destroy the locomotive if there is no place for it to go. It would be a shame to see part of our history destroyed; I think we’ve already had enough of that.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fraud warning from the Oshkosh Police Department


I want to make everyone aware of a fraudulent e mail going around regarding the Bank of America credit card. The headline indicated: “Bank of America Alert: Online Access Suspension Message®” I made a copy of the following e mails that I received on my home computer. These fake e mails look just like the real ones that the Bank of America sends out. The first photo is of the original e mail sent out. Unfortunately if you would click on the original e mail “click here” it will take you to the second e-mail photo and they ask for your state & online ID (credit card number).

I have attached copies here so you can not actually do any of the above. I thought it was suspicious and called the card service and they have received other calls about this and it was confirmed to be a fraudulent phishing e mail scam. Also make sure that if you call the credit card company to check on this, use the phone number on your credit card, NOT the one listed in the fake e mail. This is most likely a fake number also.

If you notice the website address in the second e mail copy it begins with “http”. If it is a secure website it will have an “s” after it, such as “https” and also a lock will be displayed in the lower right corner to make sure that confidential information remains that way. Neither of these was on that second e mail.

Just remember if you receive an unsolicited e mail asking for personal identification or confidential numbers make sure to check into it before sending anything out. This goes for phone calls also!

David Gomoll
Patrol Sergeant, Oshkosh Police Department
Team 5 Patrol Supervisor
Office 920-236-5740, Cell 920-379-3539

Friday, May 08, 2009

Best-selling author Elizabeth Berg at Oshkosh Public Library

New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Berg comes to the Oshkosh Public Library on Wednesday, May 13, for an 11:30 a.m. presentation and book signing. The program, which will include a reading from Berg’s latest book, is co-sponsored by Apple Blossom Books LLC and the Oshkosh Public Library.

Berg’s newest release is Home Safe. The novel is a story of starting over, mother-daughter relationships and the nature of creativity. Apple Blossom will have Home Safe and many of Berg’s other titles available for purchase at the event.

Berg is the popular author of more than a dozen novels, including Open House, which in 2000 was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Other recent titles include Dream When You’re Feeling Blue, We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures and The Art of Mending. For a complete list of Berg’s novels visit

“Elizabeth Berg is so charming and she really makes a connection with her audience,” says Janice Dibble, Head of Reference and Adult Services at the library. “You can tell she enjoys not only talking about her work, but also hearing what her fans think about her books.”

Since Berg’s visit spans the lunch hour, Caramel Crisp & Café has been invited to the event and will have a selection of salads available for purchase.

Candy Pearson, who owns Apple Blossom Books, frequently hosts author talks at her bookshop and brings in authors to visit area schools. Pearson says that going to an author talk is a way to extend and enhance the reading experience. “You get to hear about the author’s inspiration for characters and story lines and ask questions about the way their book developed,” she says. “You also get the inside story about all the quirky little things that happen on the way to getting a book published.”

For more information visit or

Governor Doyle Announces $267 Million for Wisconsin Retirees and Disabled Veterans

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that Wisconsin retirees, disabled veterans, and other Social Security and SSI recipients will benefit from an estimated $267 million in one-time Economic Recovery Payments as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $250 payments are expected to be issued by late May 2009.

“Citizens on fixed incomes have been hit especially hard by the economic turmoil,” Governor Doyle said. “The Economic Recovery Payments will provide some financial relief this spring for the retirees, disabled veterans and others who have given so much to our state.”

Recipients of Social Security and Security Supplemental Income (SSI) will receive the recovery payments without any action on their part. A payment will be provided the same way a person currently receives Social Security benefits, either via check, direct deposit or direct debit card. The payment will be issued separately from regular monthly payments.

Nearly 1.1 million Wisconsin residents will receive a payment. The provision does not impact a taxpayer’s Wisconsin income tax liability.

The one-time Economic Recovery Payment is part of a total $5.2 billion in tax savings for Wisconsin families and businesses over the next three years included in the federal recovery plan.

For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration website at:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces Cuts to State Budget

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced more deep cuts in the state budget, as the state is facing a budget shortfall in the midst of the national economic crisis. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau next week will release figures that could show a deficit reaching $1.5 billion.

“What we all know is that reckless behavior on Wall Street – behavior that we’ve never embraced in Wisconsin – continues its negative effects through our state, our nation and now, the world,” Governor Doyle said. “Everyone is paying the price and suffering on some level. Here in Wisconsin we are facing tougher choices than ever about what level of state services we can sustain at a time when people need them most. I am fighting to protect the middle class, education, public safety and health care. These are my priorities. I don’t believe that we as a state will ever move forward unless we protect what is really important.”

The Governor is taking responsible steps under these extraordinary circumstances to address the problem.
• He will not propose new taxes.
• Governor Doyle’s budget already freezes pay and requires state employees to contribute more to retirement and health insurance. Today he said he will roll back 2% pay increases that were to be effective in June.
• All state employees, including those in the Governor’s office, will be subject to furloughs of 8 days per year. The Governor cannot be furloughed, so he will return pay for 8 days per year to the state.
• Governor Doyle said deeper cuts to state government spending will reach at least 5%.
• He is also directing all agencies to review all service contracts to reduce personnel costs.