Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Everyone!

As we are about to embark on a new year, I thought you might appreciate this article I found on how to make meaningful New Year resolutions. Here's another one for people in businesses and organizations, though anyone could find something here to apply to their own life. I hope you enjoy them and here's wishing you and yours a safe and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Candidacy statement from School Board candidate Stephen Dedow

[We have received the following candidacy statement from Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education candidate, Stephen Dedow and are pleased to publish it on his behalf.]

Here are a few words about me and why I am running for the Oshkosh Area School Board.

About me:

I am 54 years old and have lived in Oshkosh for 51 of those years. I am married to a wonderful woman (Ellen Kempf-Dedow) and we have three small children ages 7, 4, and 2. I am proud to say that all three children were born at home with the assistance of mid-wives. I will never forget the beauty of this experience as these little babies came into our lives.

I have served as the Business Representative for the stagehands local union IATSE #470 for a total of 12 years. I was president of the Winnebago County Labor Council for 8 years. I have been a sitting board member of a payroll corporation for 12 years. I am and have been very active in the local political arena and was instrumental in gaining the film tax credits in the state of Wisconsin which brought the film crews to Oshkosh in regards to “Public Enemies”. For better or worse…I am a product of the Oshkosh Public School System.

Some of the reasons that I am running for School Board:

• While I believe the OASD long range facilities plan has many good concepts within its framework, I also believe that the funding provisions which rely on successfully passing referendums totaling more than 39 million dollars to complete phase 1 of the plan are not achievable for the foreseeable future. Therefore the plan in and of itself has serious flaws.

• Perhaps a more viable option would be to redesign the referendums in regards to phase 1 to include increased maintenance and renovation expenditures on a smaller scale that stand a reasonable chance of success within the community. This past April one such referendum was successful in passing. A suggestion might be the inclusion of the phase 1 long range plan Merrill K-8 addition/renovation concept (which would permit Merrill K-5 to become a SAGE school), the South Park Middle School addition/renovation (which would achieve flexibility in future decisions and staffing efficiencies) plus the creation of a maintenance reserve fund to exploit times of economic downturns when maintenance and construction bidding is historically lower than normal. These should be placed on the November 2010 ballot individually for consideration. Total cost roughly 7 million dollars.

• I also believe that the plan does not include enough cost control initiatives. The closing of schools and a reduction in staff are the main areas being considered within the plan. While these reductions may become necessary (as a last resort), I believe there are other areas worthy of consideration. In my opinion the plan must aggressively address energy conservation programs and green technologies to reduce costs, conduct external audits to ensure financial accountability of the various departments of the OASD, look to increase efficiencies with existing departments such as purchasing and human resources, utilize modern technologies to reduce paper consumption and printing costs, seek corporate sponsorships to supplement athletic programs , conduct an inventory of current district assets, consummate the creation of a reserve fund, and other such fundamental considerations which will help truly build a stable foundation for our future generations to grow upon.

• I am against closing schools, especially elementary schools. In my opinion unless a facility is in dire need of maintenance based on safety concerns or enrollment has fallen to the point where the facility is operating at 70% or less of capacity, I believe closing a school should not be a consideration. This is not merely about budget, this is about community. In 2009, Business Week magazine voted Oshkosh the best place to raise a child in Wisconsin; this was partially because of our neighborhood school system.

• When Green Meadow Elementary was closed last year, four students were removed from the Oshkosh School System. As a result the district lost $36,932.00 ($9233.00 per kid) with state aid computed. How much was really saved here? No one seems to have an answer as of yet. The current School board is considering closing Smith School in the future when just a few years ago we poured 9 million dollars into the facilities. Where is the savings or the sanity in this reasoning? This will continue to happen as more schools are closed; more students will be pulled, thereby negating any savings generated by the closures.

• If consolidations are necessary how about closing the Oshkosh Area School District Administrative Office at 215 S. Eagle Street (relocating them back to Oshkosh West High School where they were) and using the entire building for academic purposes in conjunction with Perry Tipler Middle School…which is 150 feet away? It could save on renovation costs and we would not have to close a school to generate the savings. We all share in the pain right?

• I believe that the School Board should be presenting resolutions and concepts to the Superintendent in a clear and concise manner. In my opinion this is not occurring at the present time. The main function of the School Board is to lead, to give a direction in which to follow. This is our community and if we are to be in control of it, leadership at this level is crucial.

In conclusion I would like to say that educational funding should go to the kids first and those closest to the kids second. The rest of the funds should go down the chain incrementally until those farthest from the actual educational process receive the dollars that are remaining. That being said any cuts or reductions should occur in a reverse order, protecting the children to the last.

Steve Dedow for Oshkosh School Board
353 Old Oregon Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pop-up Advertisements Offering Anti-virus Software Pose Threat to Internet Users

[The following information is provided to citizens as a courtesy of the Oshkosh Police Department and we are pleased to publish it on their behalf.]

An ongoing threat exists for computer users who, while browsing the Internet, began receiving pop-up security warnings that state their computers are infected with numerous viruses.

These pop-ups known as scareware, fake, or rogue anti-virus software look authentic and may even display what appears to be real-time anti-virus scanning of the user's hard drive. The scareware will show a list of reputable software icons; however, the user cannot click a link to go to the actual site to review or see recommendations.

The scareware is intimidating to most users and extremely aggressive in its attempt to lure the user into purchasing the rogue software that will allegedly remove the viruses from their computer. It is possible that these threats are received as a result of clicking on advertisements contained on a website. Cyber criminals use botnets to push the software and use advertisements on websites to deliver it. This is known as malicious advertising or malvertising.

Once the pop-up appears it cannot be easily closed by clicking "close" or the "X" button. If the user clicks on the pop-up to purchase the software, a form is provided that collects payment information and the user is charged for the bogus product. In some instances, whether the user clicks on the pop-up or not, the scareware can install malicious code onto the computer. By running your computer with an account that has rights to install software, this issue is more likely to occur.

Downloading the software could result in viruses, Trojans and/or keyloggers being installed on the user's computer. The repercussions of downloading the malicious software could prove further financial loss to the victim due to computer repair, as well as, cost to the user and/or financial institutions due to identity theft.

The assertive tactics of the scareware has caused significant losses to users. The FBI is aware of an estimated loss to victims in excess of $150 million.

Be cautious — cyber criminals use easy to remember names and associate them with known applications. Beware of pop-ups that are offering a variation of recognized security software. It is recommended that the user research the exact name of the software being offered.

Take precautions to ensure operating systems are updated and security software is current.

If a user receives these anti-virus pop-ups, it is recommended to close the browser or shut the system down. It is suggested that the user run a full, anti-virus scan whenever the computer is turned back on.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone

Here is a little bit different version of some online cards you may have seen before. Jacquie Lawson always has the most beautiful work.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. May 2010 bring each of you health, happiness, hope, peace & love!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PHISHING SCAM - CDC Sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1

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

PHISHING SCAM - CDC Sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1

The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has received reports of fraudulent emails (phishing) referencing a CDC sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1. The messages request that users create a personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccination Profile on the web site.

An example of the phishing email is below (click to enlarge, but DO NOT try to create a personal profile by clicking on that link):

Users that click on the embedded link in the email are at risk of having malicious code installed on their system. CDC reminds users to take the following steps to reduce the risk of being a victim of a phishing attack:

Do not open or respond to unsolicited email messages.

Do not click links embedded in emails from unknown senders.

Use caution when entering personal information online.

Update anti-virus, spyware, firewall, and anti-spam software regularly.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) · 1600 Clifton Rd · Atlanta GA 30333 · 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

No Garbage or Recycling Collection on Christmas Day and New Year's Day

(Oshkosh, WI.) The city of Oshkosh Sanitation Division would like to remind residents that because of the upcoming holidays there will be no garbage or  recycling collection on Christmas Day (December 25, 2009) and New Year’s Day (January 1, 2010).

Garbage and recycling collection scheduled for Friday, December 25th moves to Saturday, December 26th. Garbage and recycling collection scheduled for Friday, January 1st moves to Saturday, January 2nd.

The city’s yard waste drop-off center at 639 Witzel Avenue is also closed on Christmas Day (December 25, 2009) and New Year’s Day (January 1, 2010).

If you would like more information please contact the Sanitation Division at (920) 232-5383.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Governor Doyle Signs Drunk Driving Bill

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed legislation to strengthen Wisconsin ’s drunk driving laws. At the signing, the Governor was surrounded by law enforcement officers, doctors and medical professionals, advocates and many people whose family or friends were killed due to drunk drivers.

“This bill is an important step in the fight against drunk driving in Wisconsin ,” Governor Doyle said. “We still have a long way to go. The bill is not everything everybody wanted, and it’s not everything I wanted. But it is a good bill and another major step forward to fight drunk driving.”

Senate Bill 66 makes four main changes to current law. The costs associated with the bill will be offset by increased fees and penalties for drunk drivers. Changes include:

Fourth offense OWI will be a felony if it occurs within five years of an earlier offense;

Ignition interlocks will be required for repeat offenders and first-time offenders with at or above a 0.15 blood alcohol level;

A greater emphasis will be placed on treatment for drunk drivers, helping reduce repeat offenses; and

Increases first offense OWI to a misdemeanor if a child under 16 is in the vehicle.

"On behalf of Wisconsinites who have demanded safer streets, I thank Governor Doyle for signing drunk driving reform today," Senator Jim Sullivan said. "I think it is particularly poignant that we were able to sign this important legislation into law leading into the holiday season. Our history in this state is full of instances where somebody's joyous occasion and holidays have been turned into tragedy because of alcohol-related accidents. The timing could not be more appropriate."

“I am proud to be a part of this momentous step towards strengthening Wisconsin ’s drunk driving laws,” Representative Tony Staskunas said. “Each session since I was first elected, I have introduced legislation to combat drunk driving and make our roadways safer. I am delighted that this session we were able to pass this comprehensive proposal that addressed punishment, prevention and treatment.”

Governor Doyle has spent his career fighting drunk driving – as a District Attorney, Attorney General and Governor. In his first few months as Governor, he signed legislation setting a .08 blood alcohol standard for drivers in Wisconsin . The Governor also signed bills strengthening the .08 standard, increasing penalties for underage drivers with alcohol in their system, and eliminating a loophole in the drunk driving law to help law enforcement and district attorneys.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Sullivan and Plale and Representatives Staskunas and Zepnick for their work on the bill.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let's stop doing business with tax bill deadbeats

An editorial in this morning’s Oshkosh Northwestern connected the dots between some local developers and some of the city’s biggest property tax deadbeats. For those of us who have followed city politics for any length of time, the realization that these people are often one and the same, comes as no surprise. Some names change from year to year while others stay the same, but the fact nonetheless exists that some local developers refuse to pay their property taxes until the last possible moment, saving their properties just before they’re foreclosed on.

The delinquencies are bad enough, but what’s even more insulting is the fact that some of these deadbeats are developers who have gotten tax-incremental financing money from the city to do those projects (or others) in the first place. I have said for years that governmental bodies should stop doing business with tax bill deadbeats. If the rest of us can pay our taxes, surely they can pay theirs. I think it takes some major brass to not pay your taxes on the one hand, then turn around and hold out your other hand for development assistance from the very community you’re stiffing. Yes, I know the county pays the city its portion of the taxes and then collects on it (or tries) from the deadbeats, but that’s just number juggling. No matter how you slice it, it’s still money our community at large doesn’t have that it is owed. I don’t know if an ordinance can legally be drafted, or if it just needs to be something elected officials resolve to do from a moral and ethical standpoint, but I believe it is high time that the people in elected office stop approving development deals for people who develop properties and then are not only delinquent in paying their taxes, but apparently have no shame in being so.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces Decrease in Smoking Among High Schoolers

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced a decrease in smoking among Wisconsin high school students. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the number of students who reported smoking a cigarette in the past 30 days dropped to 17 percent – down from 21 percent in 2007.

“Throughout my career, as Attorney General and Governor, I have worked hard to protect our kids from smoking and becoming addicted to tobacco,” Governor Doyle said. “Our efforts to reduce youth smoking are working - from raising the cigarette tax to preventing youth tobacco sales and involving them in our outreach campaigns. When goes Wisconsin’s smokefree in July of 2010 we will further improve public health, save lives and reduce health care costs.”

Governor Doyle has fought smoking throughout his career. Earlier this year he signed legislation making public places, including restaurants, taverns, and other indoor workplaces, smokefree. In 2008 Governor Doyle led the effort to increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 with a main goal of reducing youth smoking. In addition, he has taken a number of steps to reduce smoking in Wisconsin , including supporting 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 2009 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey was conducted by DPI as part of a national effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor health-risk behaviors of the nation’s high school students. DPI administered the survey to 2,434 students in 57 public schools in Wisconsin in the spring of 2009. The report contains findings in eight priority areas: protective assets; traffic safety; weapons and violence; suicide; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors; and nutrition and exercise.

DPI has administered the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey every two years beginning with 1993.

For more information on the survey, visit

For more on Wisconsin ’s Youth Tobacco Prevention and Control efforts, visit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Landlords top deadbeat taxpayers

The Oshkosh Northwestern is out this morning with  its list of top delinquent property taxpayers in the city of Oshkosh and, lo and behold, several of those who top the list are names we hear time and time again in stories about landlording, development, etc. When their names pop up in those instances, one would look at them as being movers and shakers, successful business people helping to move out city forward. When you see their names in places like this article it's hard to view them as anything but tax bill deadbeats and loser landlords.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Assembly Passes Drunk Driving Reform Package

Oshkosh-Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) voted for the Drunk Driving Reform package today which was voted on by the Assembly during an Extraordinary Session. The package passed today addressed minor differences between Assembly and Senate reform bills passed earlier this year, and make significant changes to our state’s drunk driving laws.

“I am happy the Legislature has worked to address our state’s drunken driving problem. While there is no single solution to end this reckless behavior, the comprehensive approach taken in the amended SB 66, acknowledges the importance of treatment, diversion, and other tools that can help reduce recidivism.”

A main component of this Drunk Driving reform is the adoption of the Safe Streets Treatment Options Program (SSTOP) that has been successful in Winnebago County. This program has been very successful at lowering recidivism of offenders while reducing jail costs. SSTOP offers people convicted of a second or third OWI offense the option of having their prison period reduced if they complete a period of probation that includes alcohol and drug treatments. In Winnebago County this has led to a savings of over $700,000 and has a recidivism rate of 7% compared to the statewide rate of 50% since its inception in December of 2006.

“Winnebago County has been a statewide leader in smarter more effective ways to deal with OWI offenses,” said Rep. Hintz “At a time when county jails are at capacity and looking to lower costs, this model can be a blueprint for counties around the state. I am pleased to see that what has made Winnebago County successful is included into this reform bill.”

The Drunk Driving Reform package is a multi-pronged approach to address this troubling trend. The legislation is aimed at offering treatment options, preventing individuals from operating while intoxicated (OWI), and increasing penalties for drunk driving. The Drunk Driving Reform package will make a fourth OWI offense a felony if the driver has a previous OWI-related conviction, suspension, or revocation within the past five years. The bill would also criminalize the first offense OWI if children are in the vehicle.

“For years, the Legislature has failed to make progress on a number of important issues including drunk driving. I am proud to see this legislation pass today, and commend the Assembly leadership for a successful first year passing of bills stalled for years such as a statewide smoking ban, puppy mill regulations, and public financing for state supreme court races.”

Second Protect Wisconsin's Vote Summit Focuses on Registration Modernization, Voter Rights

Madison -- Preserving voter rights, ensuring timely access to the polls and modernizing voter registration are critical to protecting democracy across Wisconsin was the consensus at the second annual Protect Wisconsin's Vote Education Summit, held in the Madison Tuesday.

Hosted by the non-partisan, non-profit Institute for One Wisconsin, the summit featured a broad coalition of voter rights advocates, including the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, ACLU of Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, the Election Protection Legal Committee and the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice.

Among the topics examined during the evening's discussions were early voting and voter registration modernization, strengthening and protecting absentee balloting, accessibility to the polls, ex-offender reenfranchisement, pitfalls of voter ID and benefits of preserving Election Day registration.

"In Wisconsin, we have a tradition of clean, fair and transparent elections with high voter turnout," said Andrea Kaminski, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Executive Director. "Efforts at reform should focus on increasing accessibility and participation. Any reforms that make voting less accessible, while attempting to fix problems that don't exist, represent a net loss for democracy."

Participants also emphasized the need to enforce existing voter rights laws, as well as modernize voter registration efforts to increase participation in all corners of the state. A number of voter registration laws, most which were designed in the 19th century are struggling to keep up with 21st century technology and modern elections.

"Election officials, experts and policy makers agree we deserve a modern voter registration system and that the time for reform is now," said summit keynote speaker Adam Skaggs, Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "Modernizing registration will leverage existing technologies to reduce burdens on voters, increase the accuracy and reliability of the voter rolls, reduce opportunities for fraud, and save taxpayers millions of dollars each year by increasing efficiency and dramatically reducing the costs of maintaining the voter registration system."

Others emphasized the importance of voting and protecting communities against illegal voter suppression efforts, which have affected past elections.

"There is nothing more fundamental to democracy than the right to vote," said Matt Brusky, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund Political Director. "Working to increase access to voting is essential to strengthening our democracy and expanding economic and social justice for all Americans."

"In recent years millions of Americans, primarily those in minority communities, were denied their right to vote through a combination of illegal threats and intimidation, ineffective voter education, inadequately trained poll workers and voting machines that did not work," said featured speaker and panelist Ann Jacobs, attorney with the Election Protection Legal Committee. "Our goal at Election Protection is to advocate to insure that all persons who are legally entitled to vote can do so safely, easily, and without obstruction."

One piece of legislation now in the legislature would restore voting rights to ex-offenders who had served their time behind bars for felony crimes, but who because they remained on probation and parole, are unable to vote. Over 42,000 Wisconsinites are disenfranchised by the current law, including those who are working, paying taxes and raising families. Both voter rights advocates and law enforcement have supported the law change.

"National studies show that ex-offenders who vote re-offend at a rate of less than half the rate of those who do not vote," said Renee Shavers Crawford, ACLU of Wisconsin Associate Director. "Voting is the act of a responsible citizen and as we reintegrate people into society, we need every tool we have to ensure our communities remain safe by encouraging responsible behavior such as casting a ballot."

The evening also featured short films and provided attendees with information about becoming a non-partisan poll worker to assist local municipalities in administering fair and clean elections. The Institute for One Wisconsin also hosts a comprehensive, user-friendly website with information and resources for voters at

"The more people who vote, the more secure is our democracy," said Scot Ross, Institute for One Wisconsin Executive Director. "Laws which promote voter participation, such as no-excuse absentee balloting and Election Day registration must remain in place, while punitive efforts to limit voter participation like voter ID should remain off the statutes."

# # #

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oshkosh Area Humane Society needs foster homes for cats and kittens

[Editor's Note: As you can see from the letter below, the Oshkosh Area Humane Society has many cats and kittens needing foster homes, especially this time of year and as its life-saving mission to not euthanize an animal for space needs continues. They pay for food, supplies, medical needs and whatever else may be required. All you provide is a home and love. Please call them for additional information or to serve as a foster home. It could well be one of the greatest gifts you give this holiday season.]

From: Oshkosh Area Humane Society
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 3:52 PM
Subject: Could you make room?

Dear Friends,

I know this is a very busy time of year and everyone's life is hectic but could you make room in your heart and home for a homeless cat or kitten? You see the shelter is very full and we desperately need foster homes for cats. OAHS supplies everything you need if you can just please supply a temporary place in your home to care for these deserted pets.

OAHS has never turned an animal in need away nor will we euthanize adoptable animals for space. No animal should have to die just because it doesn't have a home and there is "no room at the Inn. Please, if you or anyone you know is able to lend a life saving hand contact Sharon at 303-3166 at

Who knows, foster care just might make your Holiday Season a little brighter.

Thanks for your consideration.

Merry Christmas,

P.S. Please send this on to anyone you think might want to help, even if you can't. Thank you for your time and effort.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Governor Doyle Announces $525,000 to Renewegy to Create Green Jobs for Oshkosh

OSHKOSH – During a visit to Oshkosh today, Governor Jim Doyle announced that Renewegy, LLC will receive $525,000 in federal funding to help the company purchase new manufacturing equipment and create 40 new green jobs. The funding builds on the Governor’s efforts to make Wisconsin a national leader in green jobs and clean energy.

“ Wisconsin has a tremendous opportunity to be a leader in clean energy,” Governor Doyle said. “With these funds, we will help Renewegy not only create new green jobs in Oshkosh , but also manufacture renewable energy and energy efficient products.”

Governor Doyle has laid out an ambitious strategy to achieve energy independence by calling on the state to generate 25 percent of our electricity and 25 percent of our transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025. Under the Governor’s plan, Wisconsin will also capture 10 percent of the market share for renewable energy by 2015 and utilize the state’s tremendous research capability to become the country’s leader in making alternative energy more affordable and available.

The funding is part of the State Energy Program (SEP) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) fund. Renewegy will invest more than $3 million in equipment and working capital to achieve commercialization and plans to create 40 clean energy jobs. A recent start-up company, Renewegy is refocusing on the manufacture of light commercial wind turbine products

Governor Doyle also announced in Milwaukee today $3.1 million in SEP funding to three Milwaukee area companies to help them invest in manufacturing equipment and create 276 new green jobs. In September, the Governor announced a $500,000 loan to Cardinal Glass Industries to upgrade photovoltaic glass production capacity at its Portage facility.

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce (Commerce) administers the SEP program and will give priority to projects that:

Reduce fossil fuel use in Wisconsin manufacturing by deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies;

Retool Wisconsin businesses to enable them to produce components of renewable energy systems and energy efficient products; and

Invest in renewable energy projects.

The funding is pending final approval from the U.S. Department of Energy. Applications and program information are available at

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

City of Oshkosh Declares Snow Emergency

(Oshkosh, WI.) The City Manager has declared a snow emergency for Oshkosh effective immediately through noon on Friday.

Following the rules adopted by the Oshkosh Common Council last night the odd-even street parking schedule will be enforced.

On odd days, vehicles must be parked on the odd numbered side of the street.

On even days, vehicles must be parked on the even numbered side of the street.

For today, December 9th, vehicles must be parked on the odd side of the street from noon today until noon tomorrow.

For December 10th, vehicles will need to be moved to the even side of the street.

The snow emergency will be lifted at noon on Friday, December 11th.

Please check the city website, for updates.

City of Oshkosh Cancellations

(Oshkosh, WI.) The following city of Oshkosh facilities, meetings, and events have been cancelled because of inclement weather:

The Oshkosh Public Museum is closed today, (December 9th). Normal hours will resume on Thursday, opening at 10:00 a.m. and closing at 4:30 p.m.

The Winnebago County Landfill is closing at noon today (December 9th). As a result some garbage will not be collected today. All garbage not collected today will be collected tomorrow in addition to all material scheduled for Thursday, pending the landfill being open. All recycling will be collected today.

Tonight’s (December 9th) public information meeting about the Melvin Avenue street reconstruction project for 2010 has been cancelled. The meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, December 14th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Webster Stanley Elementary School in the gymnasium.

Today's (December 9th) Parking Utility Commission meeting is cancelled. The next meeting will be at its regularly scheduled date on January 13th.

Today’s (December 9th) Landmarks meeting at the Paine Art Center has been cancelled.

Today’s (December 9th) Board of Appeals Meeting has been cancelled.

Today’s (December 9th) activities and programs at the Oshkosh Senior Center have been cancelled.

Celebration of Lights at Menominee Park is closed for today (December 9th).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Oshkosh school district closings for Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

The Oshkosh Area School District Cancels ALL Classes, Activities, Athletics, Events, Community Forums, Vaccination and Dental Clinics for Wednesday, December 9, 2009.

OASD reschedules districtwide public meeting - PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING FOR CHANGES, NOTED IN RED


Oshkosh West High School – F‐Room

(Use the Auditorium Doors #29 & #30)




6:30 P.M. Meetings will go as long as necessary


The Oshkosh Area School District is beginning to develop the 2010‐2011 budget, and again the district is in a similar position as last year in regards to a large budget deficit. Last year the budget was reduced by over $5 million due to changes brought forth in school funding by the State biannual budget. In the second year of the biennium it is anticipated that the same or a slightly larger deficit will exist. The deficit is addressed by reducing expenditures, raising revenues or a combination of both.

Understanding that change is inevitable, the district must be prepared to continue to change how it operates. In order to develop a list of over five million dollars in expenditure reductions, input from the community and staff is crucial. Two open meetings, for all citizens and staff, will be held for the purpose of reviewing the options listed below and adding other options to the list.

The meetings are scheduled for 6:30 pm and will go as long as discussion cotninues:

December 9, 2009 is  NOW SCHEDULED FOR January 5, 2010 at West High School – F Room (Doors #29 & #30), 375 N. Eagle Street ‐ 54902

 January 6, 2010 at North High School – Theater, Door 7, 110 W. Smith Ave, ‐ 54901

Over 80% of the district budget is used for salary and benefits. Therefore, some reductions must come from efficiencies such as consolidating buildings and reducing personnel. The Board of Education has asked for a list of options to consider as they address the 2010‐2011 deficit. Some of the options will come from the Public Management Partners and Bray Reports on facilities.

2010‐2011 options include:

 downsizing from five middle schools to three or four middle schools

 repurposing a middle school into a larger elementary school

 closing or repurposing smaller elementary schools

 transferring students, and making boundary adjustments based on closing or repurposing schools

 moving students who reside in leased space into district buildings

 raising class sizes

 downsizing the number of staff in the district

The board of education will begin deliberations on the 2010‐2011 budget at the January 13, 2010 meeting and continue until the goal is met.

More than one Board of Education member may attend thereby establishing a quorum of the board.

There will be no Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education action taken on any item at this meeting.

Upon request, reasonable auxiliary aids and services will be provided for individuals with disabilities. If accommodations are required, please provide 24-hour advance notice by calling 424-0120. The Board can only discuss items noticed on the formal agenda under provisions of the Open Meetings Laws. During a period of public comment under s. 19.84(2), a governmental body may discuss any matter raised by the public.

The American Red Cross Urges Residents to Get Ready for Winter Weather

[We have received the following press release from the American Red Cross and are pleased to publish it on their behalf.]

Oshkosh, WI…December 7, 2009 – With heavy snow and freezing temperatures predicted throughout the week the American Red Cross recommends taking a few steps that will help you stay safe despite the winter weather.

“Winter storms can knock down power lines, make travel difficult because of icy road conditions, and keep people isolated in their homes for several days,” said Steve Hansen, the Regional Chapter Executive. “That’s why now is the perfect time to get ready before this winter storm hits our area. Make sure you have the food and supplies on hand now that you may need if it’s not safe to travel or if the power goes out.”

The Red Cross recommends stocking up on easy-to-prepare foods, medications for family members, diapers, baby formula, pet food, extra-batteries for flashlights, and hygiene items like toilet paper and tissues. Make sure you have enough wood or coal for fireplaces or coal-burning stoves. In addition, the Red Cross offers the following ideas to help stay safe during winter storms:

Tips for Staying Safe at Home

• Be careful with candles – do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
• Don’t use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement or garage. Locate unite away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
• Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing. Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you plan on using a fireplace to stay warm, keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a lit fire unattended.
• If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
• Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
• Check on your animals and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles. If possible, bring them indoors.

Tips for Protecting Yourself While Outdoors and Traveling

• When possible stay indoors during the storm.
• Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks and stairs.
• Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.
• Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
• Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
• If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks, stay hydrated and avoid overexertion.
• Minimize travel whenever possible. If travel is necessary keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle with extra food and blankets.
• Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.
• Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
• Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

Visit for more information on how to keep safe and prepared for any emergency.

The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of six chapters serving 19 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Fond du Lac County, Lakeland, Manitowoc/Calumet, Neenah-Menasha and Outagamie Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Winter is "officially" here - Things to keep in mind about driving and shoveling

[Though winter hasn't officially arrived according to the calendar, you sure couldn't tell it by looking outside or listening to the weather forecasts. With the today and tomorrow's storm getting underway, I received this information from the Oshkosh Police Department that I wanted to pass along to you. It is good information to keep in mind. You may even want to post the snow shoveling ordinance somewhere where you can refer to it, if need be.]

Well I think it is finally official, winter is here! By this time tomorrow we will have several inches of snow with more on the way. I wanted to make everyone aware of the municipal code regarding snow removal. Municipal Code 25 section 68 states you have 24 hours from the cessation of a snowfall to remove the snow from your sidewalk. This section also states that it is illegal to push or blow the snow from your property onto any City of Oshkosh street . I can honestly say there is nothing worse than driving down a freshly plowed street only to see individuals blowing the snow from their property back onto the street thus causing hazardous driving conditions as well as more work for the snow plows.

Let’s all remember to drive safely when the streets are covered in snow, and give yourself extra time to get to your destination. More importantly don’t forget to grab the sleds and the kids and head outside and enjoy the snow!


(1) Sidewalks

Every owner of real property within the City shall within twenty-four (24) hours following cessation of a snowfall or other precipitation, remove all snow and ice from the sidewalk located adjacent to the premises; provided that, when ice is so formed on any sidewalk so that it cannot be removed, the person owning such premises shall keep the sidewalk sprinkled with a material to accelerate melting or prevent slipping. Every person who owns property abutting sidewalks on two intersecting streets shall remove all snow and ice from the sidewalks bordering the crosswalk, including the curb ramp. Additional snow events will not extend the snow removal deadline. Prior snowfalls are required to be removed by the original deadline.

(2) Deposit On Streets and Near Fire Hydrants Prohibited.

(A) No person shall throw, or put, or cause to be thrown or put, any snow or ice onto any fire hydrant, or cause to be blocked or covered or interfere with the use of fire hydrants.

(B) No owner of real property within the City shall remove or cause or allow to be removed any snow or ice from private property including but not limited to driveway, parking lot, parking area, business property, or other area onto any public right-of-way or public property. No owner of real property within the City shall remove or cause or allow to be removed any snow or ice from a sidewalk or driveway apron onto any alley or street.

(C) Snow removed from public sidewalks shall not be stored in any manner which will unreasonably obstruct or limit vehicular or pedestrian vision, movement, or access.

(D) If the owner of such premises shall fail to remove such snow and ice or to sprinkle a sidewalk as required, or if the owner deposits or causes to be deposited or allows snow or ice to be deposited upon any public right-of-way or public property contrary to these provisions, such actions shall be considered a nuisance. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be subject to a forfeiture of not less than twenty dollars ($20) nor more than fifty dollars ($50) for a first offense and not less than thirty dollars ($30) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100) for any subsequent offense. Each day any violation of this ordinance continues shall constitute a separate offense.

Brent Buehler
Sergeant of Patrol
Oshkosh Police Dept.
Office 236-5700 Cell 379-3557

Governor Doyle Announces $100,000 Regional Marketing Grant for New North

GREEN BAY – Governor Jim Doyle announced today that New North, Inc. of De Pere has received a $100,000 Regional Marketing grant from the Department of Commerce. The announcement was made at the New North Summit in Green Bay , where the Governor gave welcoming remarks.

“We must draw on the resources and talent of all our communities to grow the state’s economy,” Governor Doyle said. “I look forward to working with the New North as we invest in Northeastern Wisconsin and drive economic growth in the region.”

Governor Doyle has made strengthening Wisconsin ’s economy a top priority. Under his leadership, the state has gained some of the most powerful economic development tools in the country. The budget Governor Doyle signed earlier this year made unprecedented investments in Wisconsin businesses, including powerful new tax credits designed to keep and add jobs. The budget also offered companies major new incentives to spur research and development and gave investors new tools to promote start-ups and new companies. These efforts have strengthened a continuous drive to modernize and grow all segments of Wisconsin ’s economy.

New North will use these funds to advance the region’s competitive advantage in two target markets: wind energy and cellulosic ethanol. New North will spearhead the work around these two industry clusters, assist with industry research, drive collaborative marketing and trade show presence, and cultivate prospective investors to help fulfill the commercial promise and workforce potential of these two industries for Northeastern Wisconsin.

New North was established in July 2005 to foster collaboration among private and public sector leaders throughout an 18 county region in Northeast Wisconsin . Its mission is to harness and promote the region's resources, talents and creativity for the purposes of sustaining and growing its regional economy. The New North counties include Outagamie, Winnebago, Calumet, Waupaca, Brown, Shawano, Oconto, Marinette, Door, Kewaunee, Sheboygan , Manitowoc , Fond du Lac , Green Lake , Marquette , Florence , Menominee, and Waushara.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

“Let Happiness Ring” Celebrating its 20th Year, Connects Seniors with Loved Ones for the Holidays

[We have received the following press release and are pleased to publish it for our readers.]

DE PERE, Wis. — December 4, 2009 — While many people delight in the holidays, the season can actually be a lonely time for some, especially seniors. Fixed incomes and long distances mean many cannot share the season with family and friends. To alleviate the feelings of social isolation, a unique program called “Let Happiness Ring” is helping to bring joy to older Wisconsinites.

Sponsored by Humana, “Let Happiness Ring” provides free, unlimited use of telephones for seniors during the holidays. Special phone lines are installed at the De Pere Community Center, and seniors are invited to make free long distance calls within the continental United States. Over the course of 20 years, Let Happiness Ring has paid for an estimated 20,000 calls and 160,000 minutes of talk time, allowing seniors to speak with distant family members, reconnect with far away friends and catch up with military buddies.

“Let Happiness Ring is a meaningful service that brings people together at this special time of year,” said Jerry Ganoni, president of Humana Small Business, Humana Specialty Products and HumanaOne. “It’s so gratifying to receive letters of thanks from seniors who were able to laugh with their grandchildren or contact a long lost friend without having to worry about their phone bill.”

This season, “Let Happiness Ring” will have phones in six Wisconsin locations, including one location in the De Pere area and five locations in and around Madison. Dates and hours vary, but most locations are open weekdays beginning December 7 and running through December 24 (see attached schedule). The program is open to all seniors – participants do not need to be Humana members to take advantage of the free calls. While walk-ins are welcome, seniors are encouraged to call their local center in advance to reserve phone time.

Depression is the most prevalent mental health issue among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and seasonal affective disorder is part of that.

“Humana has provided a great opportunity for seniors in our community with the Let Happiness Ring program,” said Lori Pazdera, senior program coordinator, De Pere Community Center. “Some come in to make that one yearly call, and others may call three or four old army buddies and reminisce through laughter and tears. It’s a great chance to catch up with long lost friends and distant family members.”

“The Let Happiness Ring program is one that many of our seniors look forward to each year,” said Diane Mikelbank, director of the Monona Senior Center in Monona, Wis. “The program allows the seniors to enjoy the stories and conversations of their loved ones without having to watch the clock or worry about adding to the phone bill.”

“Let Happiness Ring” 2009 – Green Bay – area location and hours

• De Pere Community Center, 600 South Grant St., (920) 336-6054 or (920) 339-4097 (December 7 to 24; weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; please call ahead to reserve phone time)

“Let Happiness Ring” 2009 – Madison-area locations and hours

• Colonial Club, 301 Blankenheim Lane, Sun Prarie, (608) 837-4611, ext. 101 (December 7 to 18; weekdays only; times vary, please call to reserve phone time)

• Fitchburg Senior Center, 5510 East Lacy Road, Madison, (608) 270-4290 (December 7 to 28; weekdays only; times vary, please call to reserve phone time)

• Madison Senior Center, 330 West Mifflin St., Madison, (608) 266-6581 (December 7 to 25; weekdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; some evenings and Sundays available; Christmas Day 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; please call to reserve phone time)

• Monona Senior Center, 1011 Nichols Road, Monona, (608) 222-3415 (December 7 to 23; weekdays only, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; please call to reserve phone time)

• Oregon Area Senior Center, 219 Park St., Oregon, (608) 835-5801 (December 7 to 23; weekdays only, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; please call to reserve phone time)

If you have loved ones who are seniors living in wither of these areas and they could benefit from this program, please pass the information along to them.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Esslinger deemed Weenie of the Week by radio personalities

Following his admission of being involved in a bar altercation last month over some skipped songs on a jukebox, Oshkosh mayor Paul Esslinger has been named the Weenie of the Week by radio personalities Rick and Len at station WAPL. According to the station's web site, "Every Friday, Rick and Len find someone who has achieved such a level of stupidity over the past seven days that they must be proclaimed the Rick and Len... Weenie of the Week!" This week, the honor went to Esslinger.

You can check it out here. While Esslinger may have been deemed this week's WAPL "weenie," he also remains the "butt" of a lot of jokes - something I imagine will be going on for longer than his dubious "Weenie of the Week" distinction. 

Thanks for filling your constituency with such pride, Paul. And just think: Now, not only can all of Oshkosh see this other side of can the entire world.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

OASD schedules community meetings on 2010-11 budget

Oshkosh West High School – Alberta Kimball Auditorium



6:30 P.M.


The Oshkosh Area School District is beginning to develop the 2010‐2011 budget, and again the district is in a similar position as last year in regards to a large budget deficit. Last year the budget was reduced by over $5 million due to changes brought forth in school funding by the State biannual budget. In the second year of the biennium it is anticipated that the same or a slightly larger deficit will exist. The deficit is addressed by reducing expenditures, raising revenues or a combination of both.

Understanding that change is inevitable, the district must be prepared to continue to change how it operates. In order to develop a list of over five million dollars in expenditure reductions, input from the community and staff is crucial. Two open meetings, for all citizens and staff, will be held for the purpose of reviewing the options listed below and adding other options to the list.

The meetings are scheduled for 6:30 pm:

  December 9, 2009 at West High School – Alberta Kimball Auditorium, 375 N. Eagle Street ‐ 54902

  January 6, 2010 at North High School – Theater, 110 W. Smith Ave, ‐ 54901

Over 80% of the district budget is used for salary and benefits. Therefore, some reductions must come from efficiencies such as consolidating buildings and reducing personnel. The Board of Education has asked for a list of options to consider as they address the 2010‐2011 deficit. Some of the options will come from the Public Management Partners and Bray Reports on facilities.

2010‐2011 options include:

  downsizing from five middle schools to three or four middle schools

  repurposing a middle school into a larger elementary school

  closing or repurposing smaller elementary schools

  transferring students, and making boundary adjustments based on closing or repurposing schools

  moving students who reside in leased space into district buildings

  raising class sizes

  downsizing the number of staff in the district

The board of education will begin deliberations on the 2010‐2011 budget at the January 13, 2010 meeting and continue until the goal is met.

More than one Board of Education member may attend thereby establishing a quorum of the board.

There will be no Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education action taken on any item at this meeting.

Upon request, reasonable auxiliary aids and services will be provided for individuals with disabilities. If accommodations are required, please provide 24-hour advance notice by calling 424-0120. The Board can only discuss items noticed on the formal agenda under provisions of the Open Meetings Laws. During a period of public comment under s. 19.84(2), a governmental body may discuss any matter raised by the public.

What a week – and it’s not over yet

Besides the usual stories on things like economic development projects, budgetary issues - and at this time of year – the beginning of several weeks of political race stories, (not to mention the occasional fire truck story) this week has so far been a treasure trove of stories you don’t see every day in Oshkosh. And while they’re each different, the common denominator in them is that the key players either are or have been associated with each other politically, socially – and, yes, even electronically.

On Sunday, the Oshkosh Northwestern ran an editorial telling of the possible birth of a new shadow government in Oshkosh, then attaching to it several email exchanges their Open Records request turned up between Paul Esslinger, Ben Schneider II and Melanie Bloechl. The emails showed some behind-the-scenes collaboration of these individuals, not to mention pointed out in less than flattering words, how at least some of them feel about constituents with differing political opinions than their own. I don’t imagine any of them felt too happy or proud about the newspaper’s “revelation.” But as the saying goes: It is what it is – and it has people talking.

On Tuesday, it was learned that Michelle Monte had resigned from the school board, effective Nov. 24, after taking a job in Milwaukee that requires her presence on Wednesday nights and subsequently missing two months worth of school board meetings. It’s one thing that she had to resign a position she’d only been elected to in April, but what galls people in the community, myself included, is that she accepted the position knowing she would have to teach on nights the school board met, yet she continued drawing a paycheck from the district – small as it may be - and did so for two months before deciding to step down. I also take issue with the fact that, in my opinion, she didn’t have enough character, decency, or moral integrity to go directly to the tax-paying public she represented to explain her absences and tell of her resignation. Sorry, but emailing a letter to the school board president who read it into the record at last night’s school board meeting and answering a few questions from the media when they come to you doesn’t cut it. Someone asked me if I was going to print her resignation letter on this blog, to which I responded “No.” After all, she didn’t see fit to post it on her own blog, why should I post it or any portion thereof on mine? She left open the possibility that she might run for political office again someday, but I can’t imagine this helping her cause should that day ever come.

Then on Wednesday came another Paul Esslinger story. Seems our mayor did Oshkosh proud after getting into a bar scuffle a couple weeks ago over some songs he tried to play on the jukebox, according to this story on the Northwestern’s web site. I wasn’t there when this incident took place, but some questions came to mind immediately upon reading the article. Why does a fellow bar patron have access to a remote control in the first place? Why did Esslinger not just let it go? It couldn’t have been much more than a few bucks or so, I would think. But hey, he paid for songs and had a right to hear them. In that case, though, why did he not do the more mature, responsible thing and instead of confronting the patron – acquaintance or not – go to the bar owner, manager or bartender and either express his concern or ask for his money back? I would think that’s how he’d want such things handled in his own bar, and it would certainly make more sense. But nope, apparently that’s not how Paul Esslinger rolls. Perhaps in the future he should remember he doesn’t have the bully pulpit outside of City Hall.

Clearly, this was not Esslinger’s finest moment and he’s put another black mark on our city and his political career, not to mention he’s added another piece of ammo to the growing arsenal of controversy that will likely haunt him in future races for office. And he certainly does seem to attract, or cause, controversy. In fact, I cannot recall a mayor who has ever had as much controversy in his or her entire term as Esslinger has had in just under eight months in office. The question is why? Are some of the things he says and does just not too well thought out or are they done to attract press and attention? Maybe it’s some of both. But whatever it is, it’s got the characteristics of Peyton Place, small town politics – and it’s embarrassing.

Finally, on an unrelated note, Dennis McHugh announced this week he will not be seeking re-election to the Oshkosh Common Council. This longtime public servant to both the Oshkosh Area School District’s Board of Education and the Common Council said due to health reasons he will not seek another term when his current one is up in April. I’ve certainly not always agreed with McHugh, but he has given years of public service to our community and I believe always voted in the way he thought was best for it. Some people have unfairly blogged about his announcement, even going so far as to compare his leaving after finishing out his term with Monte’s resignation from the school board. These situations are light years apart and have no business being compared to each other, other than the fact the news was perhaps surprising and has people talking. Though he has four months left in his term, it’s not too early to say “Thanks for your years of service, Dennis. Best wishes and make the most of your well-deserved time off and retirement from public service.”

So it has been quite a week so far, and with this only being Thursday, I wonder what else might still follow, lest we all stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Governor Doyle Signs Impartial Justice Bill to Provide Full Public Financing of Supreme Court Campaigns

[We have received the following from Governor Doyle's office and are pleased to publish it here.]

Governor Doyle Signs Impartial Justice Bill to Provide Full Public Financing of Supreme Court Campaigns;
Also Signs Bill to Strengthen Dog Breeding Regulations, Nine Other Bills

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law legislation that will provide full public financing for Supreme Court campaigns. Senate Bill 40 creates a democracy trust fund that will provide publicly-funded grants for qualifying Supreme Court candidates who voluntarily agree to abide by a spending limit of $400,000.

“We have all seen how interest groups can sway the outcome of Wisconsin Supreme Court Cases,” Governor Doyle said. “This legislation is an important campaign finance reform that will ensure impartiality and public confidence in our state’s highest court. I have long championed this reform and I am proud to finally sign it into law today.”

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Kreitlow and Taylor, and Representatives Hintz and Hilgenberg for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle also signed into law Assembly Bill 250, a bill that significantly strengthens the regulation and oversight of dog breeders and dog breeding facilities. This bill requires dog sellers, dog shelters and animal control facilities to be licensed, sets uniform standards for living conditions, and provides new penalties for those who don’t obtain licenses.

“With this bill, we are taking important steps to protect innocent animals from irresponsible breeders and shut down puppy mills in Wisconsin ,” Governor Doyle said. “We need to ensure all dogs have access to proper food, water, exercise, and enclosures. And we need to end Wisconsin ’s reputation as a safe haven for puppy mills.”

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Smith and Sinicki, and Senators Kreitlow and Darling for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle also signed into law the following bills:

Senate Bill 241 modifies the definition of all-terrain vehicle.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Holperin and Taylor, and Representatives Hraychuck and Brooks for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 253 creates further color and size allowances for traffic control devices that contain advertising and are used by school safety patrols.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Kreitlow and Lehman, and Representatives Dexter and Suder for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 259 relates to the homestead exemption and increases the value in the exemption for various properties (such as motor vehicles) that is exempt from execution.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Taylor and Lehman, and Representatives Hebl and Sherman for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 111 sets the lifetime limit at $1 million for an individual’s major medical coverage under the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan and allows the HIRSP Authority to raise that limit.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Bernard Schaber and Clark, and Senators Vinehout and Lehman for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 112 changes the eligibility requirement for the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan to individuals who have been denied coverage by one or more insurers, rather than two or more insurers.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Bernard Schaber and Clark, and Senators Vinehout and Lehman for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 164 grants to a relative, other than a parent, who is housing a child the same rights as the head of a foster home, treatment foster home or group home relating to notice of intent to remove a child from the home and review of decisions or orders involving the placement and care of the child.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Grigsby and Seidel, and Senators Taylor and Lassa for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 258 prohibits disposing in landfills used automotive oil filters and materials that have been used to absorb spilled or used automotive engine oil in landfills.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Hubler and Black, and Senators Harsdorf and Taylor for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 266 requires support services information to be given to employees who are affected by a business closing or mass layoff and provides a penalty to employers who do not comply.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Dexter and Bernard Schaber, and Senators Kreitlow and Sullivan for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 297 relates to child abuse and neglect prevention grants and broadens funding beyond six rural counties, three urban counties and two Indian tribes.

Governor Doyle thanked the Joint Legislative Council for its work on the bill.

[We have also received the following from Rep. Gordon Hintz's office and are pleased to publish it on his behalf.]

Impartial Justice Legislation Signed into Law;

Rep. Hintz applauds Governor Doyle for taking action today

MADISON– Governor Jim Doyle signed the Impartial Justice Bill (Senate Bill 40) into law today at a ceremony in the Capitol. Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) was the lead Assembly co-sponsor of this bill which makes public financing of Supreme Court campaigns a viable option.

“The Impartial Justice legislation signed into law today by Governor Doyle is a big step to improving the Supreme Court election process in Wisconsin ,” said Rep. Hintz. “The public deserves an impartial court free of the corrupting influence of special interest money and I applaud the hard work done by the Assembly and the Senate to get this important bill passed.”

The Impartial Justice Bill (SB 40) changes Wisconsin ’s campaign finance law to create a public financing option for Supreme Court Justice candidates. It is the most comprehensive campaign finance law to be signed into law in the state of Wisconsin since 1977. In 2007, $5.8 million was spent on the Supreme Court race, which is four times more than had ever been spent on a high court election before. Both general election candidates broke the all-time record for fundraising and spending, but ended up being outspent by a handful of interest groups. In 2008, that spending increased to $6 million.

“The increase in the amounts spent on Supreme Court elections highlights the great need for public financing options,” said Rep. Hintz. “We must protect the integrity of the state’s highest court and this bill is a crucial step in the right direction”

Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-54) and Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-23) were the lead sponsors of this legislation which was passed by the State Senate and Assembly with broad bipartisan support on November 5th.

Governor Doyle Creates New eHealth Board

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed Executive Order 303, creating the Wisconsin Relay of Electronic Data (WIRED) for Health Board to develop a structure for a statewide electronic medical records exchange by June 1, 2010.

“This is an important step in creating a structure for a statewide electronic medical records exchange,” Governor Doyle said. “A secure exchange will make it easier to transfer needed medical records from one hospital to another, benefiting patient safety while reducing duplication in medical tests and decreasing administrative costs.”

The WIRED for Health Board replaces the eHealth Care Quality and Safety Board and will develop a plan for a statewide health information exchange that will:

Outline provisions for oversight and accountability

Identify, secure and provide funding to build capacity and ensure long-term sustainability

Provide a technical infrastructure

Help health care providers use and exchange electronic records

Provide for the operation and flow of information

Create a common set of rules for exchanging health information while protecting patient interests

The Board will consist of 14 members representing: a commercial payer, a patient or consumer organization, hospitals, physicians, the business community, pharmacies, laboratories, higher education, quality/health organizations, public health, Medicaid and the State Chief Information Officer.

Governor Doyle’s Executive Order also sets a framework for legislative action to establish a permanent infrastructure for using and exchanging electronic records when the Legislature reconvenes in 2010. Discussions on a bill are underway with legislative leaders, including Rep. Richards and Sen. Kreitlow.

Regional health exchanges have already demonstrated how these systems can provide vital information during public health emergencies. Since the onset of H1N1, Milwaukee ’s regional exchange has provided immediate data on the number of flu related emergency room visits by hospital and by age group, tracking the spread of the virus in Milwaukee in real time.

Wisconsin is also receiving $9.44 million in Recovery Act funds to support efforts to create a state exchange. The Recovery Act provides an additional $34 billion in incentives for hospitals to begin using electronic records. Wisconsin is well positioned to capitalize on these opportunities.

Descriptions of board seats and committee positions, as well as nomination application requirements and forms are available at:

Breaking News: Monte resigns from school board

In the copy of board materials I just received for this Wednesday's school board meeting, one of the items listed on the agenda, under Board/Administrative Reports, is: "Acknowledgment of Board of Education Member Michelle Monte’s Resignation." Her letter of resignation is also included in the packet.

While I applaud Mrs. Monte for stepping down for whatever reasons she feels necessary, it is once again too bad that she can let the district directly know of her intentions, but not the public whom she has asked for years to entrust her with this elected position. And while she may at some point say something on her blog, it will be too little too late. Perhaps it doesn't matter anyway: Her actions, or lack thereof, toward the people she was elected to represent seem to pretty much say it all.

Michelle Monte missing "inaction" (pun most definitely intended)

As anyone following the meetings of the Oshkosh Area School District's Board of Education has noticed, Michelle Monte - elected to the Board of Education only eight months ago - has been noticeably absent from the last several board meetings. Teresa Thiel blogged about these absences last night. In her post, she mentions one of the possible reasons for Monte's absence, though I'm not sure if that's true or not. Someone else told me of another situation they believed was going on in the Monte household. Because there's no verification of that, however, I will not mention here what it is that people are saying (a courtesy that, based on Mrs. Monte's past behavior, I doubt she would extend me, but I will extend it to her, nonetheless). We've also heard announced by board president Ben Schneider II that there was some swine flu illness in her household.

Sooner or later in a person's political career, everyone will miss a meeting from time to time, but this many meetings in a row with no explanation from her directly to the people strikes me as both ridiculous and irresponsible. Moreover, at the end of the day, the reason isn't necessarily as important to me as the fact that she has not been doing her job, even though, according to Mrs. Thiel's post, there was a way in which she could have participated in the meetings without actually being present in the boardroom. And if that's the case, I find that even more offensive than her missing the meetings in the first place.

Whatever the reason for her not being present, she has a duty and a responsibility to explain to the electorate why she is not at meetings. And while she's at it, she might want to explain why she hasn't exercised the other option Mrs. Thiel says is available to her for meeting participation. I'm not convinced that she or her family members remain so sick that she can't jot off a quick post and put it on her blog and/or contact the media with a short press release. I bet the district would even post it on their web site if she'd send such a press release to them.

It is quite hypocritical that for the last several years while running for office, and possibly even before, we heard from her about practically every event going on in their lives and she stopped at nothing to attack every little thing certain board members and her opponents - both political and personal - did or said. Now that she's been elected and is being paid with our pennies, nickles and dimes, we don't even get the courtesy of being told, by her, why she's not representing the people at the meetings, yet - as Mrs. Thiel pointed out - she is cashing the checks. That, of course, leads to the other hypocrisy of Michelle Monte's, referenced in the Teresa Thiel blog posting.

But everything comes full circle and I imagine, as will likely also be the case with some of her political playmates, that if she runs for re-election when her term is up, the public will have questions about her past (in)actions, as well as concerns about her future ability to "serve."