Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Excellent summary of Walker's power grab

If one really wants to know what this so-called "budget repair bill" is all about and why it's nothing more than being about political paybacks and power grabs, check out this editorial by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. It sums up things with Gov. Walker and his cronies in Madison pretty well.

re:TH!NK Increases Access to Recreation Opportunities in Winnebago County

(Oshkosh, WI) 02/21/2011 – re:TH!NK, Winnebago County’s Healthy Living Partnership, organized a successful volunteer day to establish a new snowshoe trail at Lakeshore Golf Course. The coalition is in the process of expanding is focus and will be working towards increasing recreational opportunities in Winnebago County.

Under beautiful blue skies, local volunteers gathered at Lakeshore Golf Course on Saturday February 12 to mark out and place signs along the new Lakeshore Snowshoe Trail. After five hours of hiking through knee-deep snow, the trails were marked and ready for public use.

The new trail system begins at the Lakeshore Golf Course Clubhouse located on Punhoqua Avenue. Snowshoe participants can choose to hike the entire two mile outer loop or take the cut-off trail and make it a one mile loop. Whether hiking one or two miles, users will enjoy hiking through trees, out in the open and along beautiful Lake Buttes Des Mortes.

“Winter in Wisconsin can make it tough to get outside and be active,” said Matthew Madsen AmeriCorps Member serving at the Winnebago County Health Department. “By providing residents of Winnebago County with increased options for recreation, we can increase the amount residents who are out and active.” The Centers for Disease Control state that an increase in physical activity will lead to better health and an overall better quality of life.

For those who do not have access to snowshoes, rentals are available from local Oshkosh businesses. Contact information for those businesses can be found by logging on to the re:TH!NK website http://www.rethinkwinnebago.org/.

Volunteers for the day came from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the Fox Valley Backpackers, the Fox River Runners and the Winnebago County Health Department. The new trail was also made possible by the generous support from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Xpeditions program, Hergerts Sport Center and the Oshkosh Park’s Department.

For more information about re:TH!NK and its’ efforts to create an environment that enables healthy lifestyle choices in Winnebago County, please contact the Winnebago County Health Department at 232-3000, the Oshkosh Health Services Division at 236-5030, or email re:TH!NK@co.winnebago.wi.us.

9th Avenue interchange in Oshkosh closing to traffic Feb. 28

For more information, contact:

Kris Schuller, US 41 Project Communication Manager
kris.schuller@dot.wi.gov (920) 492-4109

9th Avenue interchange in Oshkosh closing to traffic Feb. 28
Second phase of $53 million highway expansion project about to start

(Green Bay) The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Northeast Region office in Green Bay is announcing the 9th Avenue bridge carrying traffic over US 41 in Oshkosh will close at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28 for demolition. Ramps carrying traffic to and from US 41 at 9th Avenue will also close, as the second phase of the US 41 mainline expansion project between WIS 26 and Witzel Avenue in Winnebago County gets underway. The demolition is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 1 and requires full-freeway closures during nighttime hours. Motorists are encouraged to plan alternate routes.

The project involves replacing the 39-year-old bridge over US 41 and constructing multi-lane roundabouts at the ramp terminals and 9th Avenue intersections at Washburn and Koeller streets. Overpass demolition details include:

Close 9th Avenue at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 to all traffic between Washburn and Koeller streets

Remove the 9th Avenue bridge over a period of three nights beginning March 1, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. If another night of demolition is needed, work would take place Sunday, March 6 or Monday, March 7

Full-lane closures on US 41 northbound and southbound while the overpass is dismantled. During demolition US 41 northbound and southbound traffic will be detoured up the off-ramps of the 9th Avenue interchange and directed back to the freeway using the US 41 on-ramps

The 9th Avenue bridge and US 41 northbound on-and-off ramps reopen to traffic in July, but southbound ramps remain closed until November 2011.

The work also includes the widening of US 41 to three traffic lanes in each direction between WIS 26 and Witzel Avenue. From March 8 through mid-July, all US 41 traffic will be shifted to newly widened southbound lanes (two lanes in each direction) as the northbound lanes are reconstructed. From mid-July through Nov. 4, all US 41 traffic will be shifted to the newly constructed northbound lanes (two lanes in each direction) as the southbound lanes are widened to three lanes.

Please note: All scheduled closures are weather dependent and subject to change.

Law enforcement will monitor traffic during the demolition and portable message signs are being placed to inform motorists. During the project, US 41 may occasionally be reduced to one lane as needed during overnight hours and shoulders will be closed to facilitate construction. 9th Avenue interchange construction continues through November 2011. During the project, motorists are encouraged to use WIS 44 or WIS 21 interchanges to access US 41.


WisDOT is initiating expansion and improvement of 31 miles of US 41 in Brown and Winnebago Counties. The project will include road expansion to accommodate increased traffic volume, 44 new roundabouts, improved interchanges and expansion of the Lake Butte des Morts Causeway. Current construction information and details about the project can be found at http://www.us41wisconsin.gov/ or by calling the project hotline: (920) 492-4120.

And this is from the Oshkosh Police Department...

It may be hard to believe, especially after this last weekend’s snow storm, but road construction season has arrived. This is just a reminder that the 9th Ave overpass will be shut down beginning February 28th starting at 7pm. I have included the information that I have regarding the closure and will keep all of you up to date with new information as I receive it.

Construction will begin on MON, FEB 28th at 7pm. The 9th Avenue Interchange will be closed from S. Washburn to S. Koeller. Asbestos removal will occur that night. On TUE, MAR 1st, the demolition of the overpass will begin and will be conducted from 7p-5a and should continue on the nights of WED, MAR 2nd and THU, MAR 3rd. If it is still not completed, then work will resume on the demolition on the night of MON, MAR 7th.

The signals will come down 1st at the 41 on/off ramps as this portion of the road will be closed to traffic.

The signals at S. Washburn / W. 9th and S. Koeller/W. 9th will be set to flash red in all 3 directions. The City Transportation Department will begin to bag the lights at S. Washburn and S. Koeller and then temporary stop signs will be in place.

The finish date for the 9th Ave Interchange is expected to be JUL 16th. 9th would be open to East/West traffic and the roundabouts will be operational. The Northbound ramps from 41 will be open. The Southbound ramps are not expected to be open until NOV 4th.

It is expected that the intersections of S. Washburn and S. Koeller would be shut down sometime at the end of April to allow for roundabout construction.

Additionally, the City Department of Public Works has a waterline project scheduled to begin the 1st week of April and continuing to July on W. 9th from Westfield to Knapp. They are going to try to coordinate with the contractors to minimize the impact on traffic.

As for a detour on W. 9th, per the City Transportation Department…

There will not be a posted detour. It will be up to motorists to identify their own detours. It is expected that most people will tend to use Witzel Avenue to cross Highway 41 instead of 20th Avenue , since Witzel is closer to 9th Avenue than 20th Avenue is.

Brent J Buehler
3rd shift Patrol Sergeant
Oshkosh Police Department

OWI information, courtesy Oshkosh Police Department

This is a link to the Wisconsin DOT website with information on Drunk Driving Changes (2010) http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/enforce/owi.htm. The site has good info on the law changes and the required ignition interlock devices (IID’s). Here’s a summary from that webpage:

2009 Wisconsin Act 100 Summary

Wisconsin Act 100 strengthens Wisconsin ’s drunk driving laws. Provisions of Act 100 apply to violations that occur on or after July 1, 2010. There are four main changes to existing law, including:

A fourth offense Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) will be a felony if it occurs within five years of an earlier offense.

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) will be required for repeat offenders and first-time offenders at or above 0.15 blood alcohol level.

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

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

The Oshkosh Police Department received a grant from Wisconsin DOT that supports more frequent alcohol enforcement traffic details. Using data provided by the Department’s crime analyst, we schedule these special details at times when there is the potential for a high frequency of impaired driving and other traffic violations. Winnebago County is fortunate to have the Safe Streets Treatment Options Program; the Options Alcohol Diversion Program for people under 21 who have violated alcohol age laws for the first time; a strong alcohol prevention and intervention program on the UW Oshkosh campus and re:TH!NK, Winnebago’s Healthy Living Partnership http://www.rethinkwinnebago.org/. These combined efforts direct offenders to assessment services and help keep our streets safer for all drivers.

OPD warns of new scam

Below is a new credit card scam to be aware of, as notified by the Oshkosh Police Department:

Just a heads up for everyone regarding the latest in Visa fraud. Royal Bank received this communication about the newest scam. This is happening in southern Alberta right now and moving.

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want...

Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it.

This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself. One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'MasterCard'.

The scam works like this:

Person calling says - 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460, Your card has been flagged for an un usual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona ?' When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?' You say 'yes'.

The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud Investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'

Here's the IMPORTANT par t on how the scam works - The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the Security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?'

After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back. Within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we were glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card. We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation...

The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit; however, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason Richardson of MasterCard' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA Scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening. I dealt with a similar situation this morning, with the caller telling me that $3,097 had been charged to my account for plane tickets to Spain , and so on through the above routine.

It appears that this is a very active scam, and evidently quite successful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee
Contact: Jef Hall - 920.203.6883 – jef@jefhall.com

Madison, WI – Today, Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall delivered the following remarks to the Joint Finance Committee at the Budget Repair Bill Public Hearing:

Thank you for taking the time to listen to testimony today.

My name is Jef Hall. I am an elected member of the Winnebago County Board, a resident of Oshkosh and a constituent of Senator Hopper's. I am here to speak in favor of Winnebago County's working families.

We have heard from Governor Walker, the majority of this committee and Senator Hopper that these radical changes and abuses to our hard working middle class employees are necessary because the state of Wisconsin is broke.

And because Wisconsin is broke, working families need to take pay cuts, benefit concessions and bear the local economic consequences these will entail.

We have also been told that because Wisconsin is broke, we need to cut Wisconsin's working poor off BadgerCare. This will result in the loss of healthcare for 1,000 Winnebago County residents alone.

We are told we need to do this because Gov Walker, the majority members of this committee and Sen Hopper say Wisconsin is broke.

However, even though Wisconsin is broke, Senator Hopper recently circulated a bill to eliminate the capital gains tax in Wisconsin. This will cost the state up to $250 million per year in lost revenue, more than the savings from gutting Wisconsin's working and working poor families.

Now, as a member of the Winnebago County Board and specifically the Human Services Board of Winnebago County, I know and have spoken to many of the working families affected by this bill. They are not making huge capital gains; they do not have large amounts to invest.

What this is is a shameful movement of funds from Wisconsin's working families to wealthier Wisconsin residents.

Senator Hopper, before his election paid personal state income taxes once in 10 years, and that was on a capital gain, the tax he proposes to eliminate.

So I would urge the Governor, this committee and Senator Hopper specifically not to take healthcare, benefits and rights from our hard working Wisconsin families; just so Senator Hopper and those who find other ways out of the Wisconsin tax system can continue to enjoy Wisconsin’s great government services without paying their fair share.

Governor Walker, Joint Finance and Senator Hopper: Throw this bill away and start over with a bill that is truly fair to all of Wisconsin's working families.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Walker to Announce Radical Attack on Middle Class

[The following is a press release from Citizen Action of Wisconsin...]

Milwaukee: According to widespread press reports and leaked documents, Governor Scott Walker is poised to announce a shockingly radical attack on Wisconsin workers. Under the guise of a budget repair bill which he seeks to pass with no time for serious public deliberation, Walker proposes for all practical purposes to abrogate the right of public employees to form and maintain unions. The right of public employees to form democratic organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining is a fundamental human right that has been established for over half a century in Wisconsin law, and is enshrined in the UN Charter.

“Although this stunningly radical move is being cloaked as a budget necessity, it is a cruel hoax because Governor Walker and the Legislature have full authority to balance the state budget without attacking the fundamental rights of workers,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “In reality this is a naked power grab by the large corporate interests that back Scott Walker and who seek unfettered control over Wisconsin politics.”

Even conservative legislators who have had their differences with union leaders should oppose the process Governor Walker proposes for making such a sweeping change in Wisconsin traditions.

“Fair minded people of all political persuasions ought to oppose a snap decision on issues of such magnitude,” continued Kraig. “It is undemocratic to pursue such a radical change without a full public discussion that engages the people of Wisconsin. The abrogation of democratic rights for public employees was not a topic in the campaign, and has not received any significant public vetting. It is outrageous that Governor Walker proposes passing such sweeping changes so quickly that most citizen of the state will not even have the opportunity to understand his proposals. Acting precipitously risks a massive public backlash later once the public realizes what has been done without their consent.”

Walker Concocts ‘Scoop and Toss’ Borrowing Scheme to Pay for $140 Million in Special Interest Spending

The following is a press release from One Wisconsin Now...]

Madison -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to pay for $140 million in new special interest spending signed into law in January by extending the state’s long term debt in a "scoop and toss" refinancing scheme that will cost untold tens of millions of dollars in additional debt for Wisconsin.

"Scott Walker railed non-stop against budget gimmicks as a candidate and now as governor he’s put together a scheme that would make a pay-day lender blush," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "Gov. Walker created this problem by handing out $140 million in special interest spending to his corporate pals and he’s going to make our children pay for it by taking loans the state was ready to pay off and borrow more money on them."

Walker is refusing to provide full accounting of how much in additional costs his “scoop and toss” scheme would cost taxpayers down the road. Since his inauguration in early January, Walker has approved $140 million in new special interest spending that includes:

$25 million for an economic development fund for job creation that still has $73 million due to a lack of job creation. Walker is creating a $25 million hole which will not create or retain jobs. [Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 1/7/11]

$48 million for private health savings accounts, which primarily benefit the wealthy. A study from the federal Governmental Accountability Office showed the average adjusted gross income of HSA participants was $139,000 and nearly half of HSA participants reported withdrawing nothing from their HSA, evidence that it is serving as a tax shelter for wealthy participants. [Government Accountability Office, 4/1/08; Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 1/11/11]

$67 million for a tax shift plan, so ill-conceived that at-best the benefit provided to job creators would be less than a dollar a day per new job, and may be as little as 30 cents a day. [Associated Press, 1/28/01]

Walker made numerous statements before and after his election as governor criticizing borrowing schemes as a means of balancing the state’s budget, a sample of which includes:

Soon, we will lay out our plans for the next state budget and we will successfully tackle the three billion dollar deficit. We will do it without raids on segregated funds, or excessive borrowing. [Walker Inaugural Address, 1/3/11]

I throw out a couple examples of things we pointed out there to get this next budget intact to make sure we don’t do what the governor has done the last couple of times, which is kick the can down into the future and create even bigger budget deficits we got to get our legacy costs under control. [Walker-Neumann Debate, 8/25/10]

Our budget repair bill will lay the foundation for a structurally sound budget that doesn't rely on short-term fixes and other gap measures that only delay the pain and create perilous uncertainty. [Walker State of the State Address, 2/3/11]

In addition to not disclosing how much more this will cost the taxpayers in the long-run, Walker has not released how much the Wall Street firms and bond lawyers will profit off this deal.

"Gov. Walker’s unprecedented power grab is turning his office into the state’s largest lobbyist waiting room," said Ross. "Wisconsin deserves to know immediately the long-term cost of this borrowing scheme and what Wall Street firms and bond lawyers stand to make from our tax dollars."

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