Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deer management meeting scheduled for tonight

According to the folks from Save the Quarry Deer group, there will be a community meeting/forum this evening in the Oshkosh Common Council chambers (4th floor) at City Hall, 215 Church St., beginning at 6 pm and running until 9 pm. The topics of discussion will be the deer issues, best ways to manage the deer herd and the possible formation of a committee to work on these issues with the city. Group members are urging anyone interested in this issue to show up tonight. If you can’t make the meeting, call or write your Common Council members. All their email addresses are on the city’s web site. I personally like the idea of email because it gives you proof you contacted people – something a phone call doesn’t necessarily do. Group members fear if there is not enough interest or not enough people in attendance at the meeting, the city will take that as a sign that the interest and public outrage over the killing of the deer has waned and they will continue to cull the herds come autumn. Again, the meeting will be in the 4th floor Council Chambers at City Hall, 215 Church St., tonight, June 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rep. Hintz on State Assembly Passage of Budget

MADISON – On Friday, June 26, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed the Conference Committee Report on the 2009-2011 State Budget by a vote of 51-46. This was the final step in the budget process, and the bill will now be sent to Governor Doyle for approval.

"After a long, difficult process I’m pleased we passed a budget in the face of a global economic recession that maintains core public services without across-the-board tax increases on Wisconsin citizens,” said Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).

“While Wisconsin and 46 other states have experienced record revenue shortfalls, we have also experienced increases in demand for government services such as unemployment benefits, health insurance, education and job training programs, and the need for stable if not additional public safety resources to combat riskier behavior associated with a down economy. This budget includes the largest cuts in state history, but invests in education, public safety, and support for our local communities.”

Following action by the Joint Committee on Finance, the budget was passed by both the Assembly and Senate. Differences between the two were resolved in a conference committee. The conference committee report was first passed in the Senate early Friday morning before being sent to the Assembly. This was the first time since 1977 that the final budget version was submitted to the Governor on time.

The budget passed on Friday included over $3 billion in state spending cuts, the largest and deepest in state history. Most importantly, the budget does not increase general sales taxes, payroll taxes, or income taxes for 99% of Wisconsin residents, while still holding the line on property taxes.

“Our challenge is far from over. Tough decisions were made on state program funding and cuts; while other decisions were pushed into a future with plenty of economic uncertainty. It is my hope that this Legislature will not wait until the next budget to address some of the systemic problems that have plagued Wisconsin budgets for years. But rather we will get to work immediately on new ways to finance and deliver services in the short and long-term.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making the case for roundabouts

According to this story from WBAY TV 2 an Indiana mayor will be in De Pere this evening to talk about his firsthand experiences with roundabouts. As readers know the Wisconsin DOT is proposing the addition of more than 40 roundabouts at on- and off-ramps to U.S. Highway 41 during the highway’s reconstruction project. Many citizens don’t like the idea of roundabouts, citing everything from a waste of money and no compelling reason for them to not having enough evidence that they are safer or that they are actually less safe than traditional intersections.

But according to this report, Carmel, Indiana – a suburb of Indianapolis – is considered by some to be a model of how roundabouts can work. Since 1997 the city has built 60 roundabouts and another 40 are being considered. Why? Because, Carmel’s mayor says, they’ve seen an 80 percent reduction in accidents with injuries, roundabouts are less expensive than traditional intersections with signals, and they’re much better in the long-run for the environment.

Besides being proposed as part of the U.S. 41 reconstruction, roundabouts have been the subject of much heated controversy and debate in the city of Green Bay in recent months.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rep. Hintz Applauds Governor Doyle for Signing “John Doe” Legislation into Law Today

Madison – In a private ceremony held at Waupun Correctional Institution today, Governor Jim Doyle signed Senate Bill 51 into law, a bipartisan bill 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 am pleased that Governor Doyle met with our dedicated state employees today as this important bill was signed into law,” said Rep. Hintz. “John Doe reform has been a priority of mine since I was first elected to the State Assembly. This law allows corrections officer to properly do their job protecting our communities without having the constant threat of being sued for unfounded reasons hanging over them. This legislation carefully balances inmate rights while allowing judges to use their discretion to prevent unnecessary and wasteful legal proceedings.”

Under the previous state law, an inmate who believes that a crime has been committed against them by a corrections officer could report this claim directly to a judge, who was required to examine the alleged offender under oath and determine whether or not a crime was committed. This resulted in many frivolous and unfounded claims being filed as harassment against corrections officers. The legislation signed by the Governor today allows 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. In addition, the bill provides for legal counsel and reimbursement of legal fees for state employees in the event they are charged under a John Doe petition and ultimately exonerated.

“This bill being signed into law today is the result of hard work and bipartisan support,” said Rep. Hintz. “I thank Governor Doyle for taking action and signing this bill into law today.”

For more information, please contact Representative Gordon Hintz at 888-534-0054.

New Oshkosh leaders group to hold community meeting on state budget impact

Citizens for a Strong Oshkosh (CSO) will hold a public meeting on June 15 to examine the proposed state budget and how it will affect the Oshkosh community. The meeting will take place Monday at 6:00 pm at the Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 North Main St., Oshkosh.

Diverse community leaders formed CSO to preserve quality services and infrastructure that Oshkosh residents rely on every day. CSO includes business owners and union leaders, elected officials from all branches of local government and interested citizens. Although members have different roles in the community and reflect different political persuasions, all care deeply about Oshkosh. Steering committee members include John Nichols, Frank Tower, Mark Harris, Tom McDermott, Steve Hintz, Jessica King, Paulette Feld, Dennis Schwab, Kathleen Propp, Joan Wade, Ashley Hesse, Sean Fitzgerald, Vue Thao, Tom Willadsen, and Steven Powers.

CSO has been looking at the large role that state revenue decisions play in our community. The budget proposed by the Governor and amended by the Joint Finance Committee is being debated now by the entire legislature in Madison.

According to Mark Harris, Winnebago County Executive, “At this community meeting, we will discuss the growing state budget deficit and how it may affect Oshkosh. We want to inform and involve citizens so state legislators hear their opinions before the budget is finalized. The decisions our state legislators make may raise our property taxes and jeopardize local services for years to come.”

CSO has met at least monthly since November to discuss the role that state revenue and decisions play in local public structures from law enforcement to schools to human services and economic development. They have been studying reforms at the state level that could make Oshkosh stronger.

Interested members of the community are encouraged to attend the meeting on June 15 at the Oshkosh Convention Center. Call 231-4770 for more information.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Community breakfast being planned, beginning in 2010

The story immediately preceding this one on this site talked about the tradition of the annual mayor's breakfast and how it would not be held this year. After making a couple of phone calls I learned that a community breakfast was being planned, hence, the tradition would continue. And I promised more information as I learned it.

When I logged in to my email this morning I had a very nice email from former mayor Frank Tower confirming that, indeed, a community breakfast was being planned, but that due to the short amount of time before the AirVenture convention happens, it just was not possible to pull it off this year yet. Instead it will begin next year - in 2010 - and according to Frank, they have a core group of organizers and volunteers who are taking over and putting it together. And, they've already booked the convention center for the Friday morning of next year's AirVenture event.

We certainly thank Frank for this information, and while I'm still happy to know the tradition of a community breakfast will continue, I am sorry - as I know many local and visitors to Oshkosh alike will be - that it won't happen this year. It's also a shame the convention center can't be shown off this year; but better late than never, I guess.

Thanks again to Frank, as well as to the group of people putting this breakfast together. And though the need for volunteers to help with the breakfast will still be there, I imagine it's not as critical for people to call Frank or anyone else immediately. Of course, I don't know that for certain yet and hope to talk to Frank soon about the best way - and time - for people to volunteer their time and talents. I will keep everyone updated either as a comment attached to this story, or as a new, separate posting.

Friday, June 05, 2009

UPDATED INFO IN COMMENTS SECTION: Annual Mayor's Breakfast - keep the tradition alive or start a new one

There’s been much written and talked about during this past week over the cancellation of the annual Mayor’s Breakfast – for approximately 20 years a celebrated event each summer which heralded the start of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. It has been a way for locals and visitors here for the convention and fly-in to break bread together and enjoy each other’s company, enjoy a little entertainment and kick off the weeklong convention activities. And as the Oshkosh Northwestern said in its editorial “it was a chance for convention goers to get to know the hospitality of the city first hand.” That is all being lost with the cancellation of the event, which according to organizers has lost several longtime volunteers to "busy schedules or other community events," thus making the organizing and holding of the event this year impractical. Economic conditions were also cited as a reason for the cancellation.

Of course, the news has stirred much conversation on the street and on the blogs, with suspicions being raised that people left the committee because Paul Esslinger has been elected mayor. While that can certainly be viewed as petty politics, one can somewhat understand such a position – at least at first blush – if that is, in fact, the case. Comments have been made and questions raised to the effect of why would those organizing the event want to continue doing it for a mayor who has historically put down so many of the people and/or groups associated with this event, or who continually harps about needs versus wants and this is likely viewed by him as one of those downtown events we don’t need and can do without. Indeed, for every person talking or blogging about it there is an opinion, coupled with a dose of cynicism or speculation.

The cancellation of this event is a shame on many levels, but especially given that we have a brand new convention center – one that was unveiled to the city earlier this year. This year’s breakfast would be the perfect time to unveil it to the world, especially when many of these guests are from companies or organizations where they may have a hand in being able to bring other convention business to Oshkosh. Not to mention it is at a time when the reconstruction of Main Street is not all that far off, and we are about to celebrate the release of “Public Enemies” with many activities planned for downtown.

My suggestion is this: Perhaps someone at the Chamber, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Community Foundation, other local organization, or even EAA itself (though I’m sure they have a lot already on their plate) could help get the breakfast organized, put out a call for new volunteers to pull it off, and hold the breakfast as usual, showcasing the new convention center in the process. Surely in a city that has never had a loss of people stepping up to the plate to help out when there’s been a need, this can be accomplished. And if there are hard feelings because of the Esslinger-factor, call the event something else. It doesn’t have to be called the Mayor’s Breakfast. But let’s not make citizens and visitors who look forward to the event, our downtown, or our image as a community suffer. After all, the world – quite literally – will be watching.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Armed robbery in Oshkosh

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

Topic: Armed Robbery
Date: June 4, 2009

Armed Robbery at Supreme Lingerie

On June 3, 2009 at 12:25 a.m. the Oshkosh Police Department responded to a call of an armed robbery at Supreme Lingerie located at 1911 S. Washburn St. in the City of Oshkosh.

The suspect entered the store and implied that he had a handgun. He then left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect is described as a black male, 30 to 40 years old, about 6’ to 6’1” tall and weighing 220 to 240 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, jeans, and a blue baseball cap.

The surveillance video of this robbery can be viewed at www.oshkoshpd.com. The robbery is currently under investigation by Oshkosh Police Detectives and anyone with information is asked to contact the Oshkosh Police Department at (920)236-5700.