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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The future of America


At some point during 2008, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test. That’s according to a survey of nearly 30,000 students in high schools across the U.S. conducted by the Josephson Institute.

The Institute reports, “More than two of five (42 percent) said that they sometimes lie to save money. Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it’s getting worse. A substantial majority (64 percent) cheated on a test during the past year.”

What’s also troubling is that these figures are probably conservative. Today’s high schoolers  have a nonchalant attitude about their lying, cheating ways with more than one in four (26 percent) confessing they lied on at least one or two questions on this survey!

No doubt echoing the sentiments of their parents (“Oh, no, my Johnny would neeeeeeever cheat!),
93 percent said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character and 77 percent said that when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.

Not very promising.

Ban Black Friday?

Holiday Shopping Black Friday

A woman struggles as she comes through the doors with other shoppers at a Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, N.J., shortly after 5:00 a.m., Friday, Nov. 28, 2008. Hundreds of people lined up to get into this Wal-Mart for the annual pre-dawn Black Friday bargain hunting. (AP photo)


On the morning after Thanksgiving, a temporary Wal-Mart worker died after a throng of eager shoppers broke down the doors and trampled him moments after a Long Island store opened.

An attorney for Jdimytai Damour, the man who was trampled, is claiming he had been working at the Long Island store for only about a week when he was knocked over. In the attorney's view, the cause of death: lack of training. I prefer the current approach of law enforcement, and that is to find the people who actually trampled this poor man.

And how many people stepped on, jumped over him, or ignored him?  For what? A VCR?

There’s now the incredible overreaction of a call to ban Black Friday shopping.

This from the New York Post:

"We are not aware of any other circumstances where a retail employee has died working on the day after Thanksgiving," said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman at National Retail Federation.

What happened was tragic. But ban early shopping on the morning after Thanksgiving?  There has to be a way for stores to set up an orderly system outside for people waiting to get in so that shoppers are lined up single file. It's been done elsewhere for people waiting to buy concert tickets and what not. Beef up your security inside and outside the store. Have people enter the store at each doorway single file with security at the entrances armed with stop watches, allowing one person in every 15-30 seconds.

If people behave like animals over a video game, then changes have to be made. But certainly that shouldn't and won't include banning Black Friday shopping.



And those wacky liberal proposals just keep on comin'


You think Democrats aren’t poised to hoist their loopy liberal agenda upon the rest of us, now that they’re in power? Please, don’t be naïve.

State Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee), who is a friend by the way, hasn’t introduced more than 2-3 bills of substance since he joined the state Senate. Now that Democrats control both houses of the Legislature….BINGO! Coggs comes out of nowhere with his self-proclaimed “progressive agenda.”

Don’t you just love liberals? They can’t come to grips with or stomach calling themselves or their moonbat proposals, “liberal.” Instead, they hide behind the moniker, “progressive.”

Just take a look at all these LIBERAL proposals from the suddenly awakened and rejuvenated Spencer Coggs. While you read, just imagine one right after another being sucked away from you:
    • Require a background check when a gun is sold or transferred between two private parties. The proposal would also close the “gun show loophole” by requiring purchasers to undergo background checks when firearms are purchased at a gun show.
    • Ban most sales of handguns  to persons under 21.
    • Prohibit the possession or purchase of a gun by anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor involving a firearm.
    • Require licensed and certified day care centers to equip day care vehicle with occupant alarms, which require manual disarming each time the vehicle’s engine is stopped.
    • Prohibit liquor establishments from opening within 300 fee of an existing day care center.
    • Require that pay and benefits be ended for Milwaukee police officers fired for rules violations.
    • Seek additional funding for local district attorneys to cover costs of operating witness protection programs.
    • Make illegal and provide criminal penalties for those attempting to block, intimidate, suppress or deceive in such a way as to disenfranchise citizens from the right to vote.
    • Seek to implement several findings of the Governor’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Criminal Justice System.
    • Incrementally raise the state minority procurement goal to 7% in 2010 and 10% in 2012.
    • Create a legal holiday in Wisconsin to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth Day.
    • Allow the City of Milwaukee and other cities to create a Housing Trust Fund to promote and support affordable, quality housing in Wisconsin.
    • Require a child to attend a 5-year-old kindergarten prior to entering public school as a first-grade student.
    • Provide a process for school district residents to object to an ethnic name, nickname, logo, or mascot used by a school.

 

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"Klaatu barada nikto"- 2008

Keanu Reeves poses for photographs before a screening of the film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" in Rome, Italy on Monday, December 1.

Keanu Reeves poses for photographs before a screening of the film, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" in Rome, Italy today. (Photo: ALESSANDRO DI MEO, EFE) 



Those 50’s drive-in sci-fi flicks were the perfect “B” movies. There were few true classics in this genre. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 was one of them. The 2008 remake about an alien visitor and his giant robot counterpart who visit Earth opens in theaters around the country on December 12, 2008.
 

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They just don't get it in Madison: IT'S A CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!!!


A 35-foot balsam fir now sits in the state Capitol Rotunda. Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense or an ounce of the brains God gave him/her knows it’s a Christmas tree. But this is Madison we’re dealing with, folks.

It’s been called the “Holiday Tree” since the 80’s when cowards at the Capitol succumbed to the PC Police. In the last legislative session, the state Assembly passed a bill to call it the, "Wisconsin State Christmas Tree." While the Assembly was exercising good judgment, our clueless governor said he “couldn’t care less” what the tree is called.

So what’s it being called this year?

Christmas tree?

Uhh, again, this is Madison.

Xmas tree?

The same old Holiday tree?

None of the above.

Are you ready for this?

Jim Doyle's state Department of Administration has issued a release outlining some of this year's holiday events and it refers to that 35-foot balsam fir as…..

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The Capitol tree.

At this time, no one knows how or why that stupid designation was chosen and no one’s talking.

Madison. Pathetic.

Report: US will be hit by terrorists by 2013


A bipartisan task force appointed by Congress reports that a nuclear or biological attack by terrorists with weapons of mass destruction on a major U.S. city by the end of 2013.

The task force does say a nuclear catastrophe can be prevented and urges President-elect Obama to take a hard line with both Iran and North Korea.

No one wants to see another destructive terrorist attack in the United States. But one must wonder how the cut-and-run Democrats now in command would respond.

Read more in the Washington Post.

HT: Jo Egelhoff and Foxpolitics.net


Memo to DNR: We are in a big deficit


The brainiacs at the Wisconsin Department of Resources strike again.  The news story I’m about to share with you could only be the result of one or more of the following scenarios:


1) Governor Doyle forgot to memo the brainiacs at the DNR.

2)  The memo was sent but the brainiacs at the DNR haven’t read it.

3) The brainiacs at the DNR have read the memo and are ignoring it.

4) The brainiacs at the DNR don’t read newspapers, watch TV, or listen to the radio.

5) The brainiacs at the DNR have been in a cave the past few weeks.

6) The brainiacs at the DNR don’t understand what a budget deficit is.

7) The brainiacs at the DNR fully realize the dire straits the state finds itself in.

8) The brainiacs at the DNR have chosen once again to display the characteristics they know best (pompous and arrogant) and don’t care that the state is deep in debt.


Governor Doyle has announced the state budget deficit is $5.4 billion. Even if the numbers are wrong, as some believe, the state budget is still a big mess. We’re broke, again, big time.

The governor has instructed agencies to make big budget cuts. How does the DNR respond?

The Lakeland Times reports:


“The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking for a $27.3 million increase in its 2009-11 biennial budget, according to Department of Administration documents released this past week.”


A reader named Mike Brostowitz commented, “What part of across the board cuts’ doesn't the DNR understand? Why should the DNR get the big increase when other state departments suffer, either by employee lay off or cuts.”

More than any newspaper in the state, the Lakeland Times has put heavy scrutiny on the DNR.

Want more?

DNR wardens rack up more than $2 million in guaranteed overtime.

It’s nice to see that when the state is in a horrible financial crisis, Governor Doyle and the DNR are on the same page, doing their part to help beleaguered taxpayers.

Dear Franklin City Hall...


IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE!




And they're called Christmas carols, thus, it should be called Christmas caroling.

Award winning reporting at the state Capitol


Because I work for the state legislature and follow state political news quite closely, I was very interested to see the 2008 winners in state government reporting awarded at the ninth annual conference of CapitolBeat, an association of reporters and editors who cover state government.

There are two winners from Wisconsin and both articles are very good reads:


Wire Services and Newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation

IN-DEPTH REPORTING:
  • Honorable mention: Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, Wisconsin, Financial Aid for Sex Offenders  (Foley's reporting led elected officials to take acton)
Newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation

SINGLE REPORT:

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Madison 911 operators....


Clueless


We should be mad at the oil companies...why?


Remember Governor Doyle’s state budget address delivered in February 2007 when the governor said:

"Oil companies have gouged this country in every way they can think of.  Exxon announced forty billion dollars in profits…That's not just pure profit, it's coming right out of our pockets. Let's turn the tables on big oil."

Doyle’s brilliant idea? Tax the oil companies to get back at them for their gouging.

Where’s the talk of gouging now?

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board has figured out just how ridiculous Doyle’s idea truly is, but Doyle will push for it again in the next state budget. Dioyle needs to read the paper and pay attention:

"Drumming up oil company outrage was phony back when gas prices were high. So it certainly won't work now that gas is cheap."

Why can't Franklin (and everybody else for that matter) be more like...


Sheboygan?

It was 20 months ago today...


Franklin
voters were told that if they didn’t approve school referenda totaling over $78 million, students would be forced into trailers.

On April 3, 2007, the referenda were soundly rejected.

I’ve looked and looked and looked. Still haven’t seen those trailers.

A UW Band parent speaks out


I recently responded to a Wisconsin State Journal editorial that suggested UW Band Director Michael Leckrone should be fired if there are any more incidents involving questionable behavior (i.e. hazing) on the part of his musicians.

I wrote, “While it’s true Leckrone is in charge, personal responsibility must come into play. Leckrone cannot serve as babysitter for hundreds of so-called young adults 24/7.  His job cannot be put on the line because some boneheads decided to get really stupid. The ones who are stupid should be held responsible and dropped immediately, from the band and possibly from school.”

A UW Band parent e-mailed to say my blog was “spot on.” The parent then wrote the following:

The recent band turmoil has taken a toll on both of my daughters.  It’s apparent that the school’s administration has decided to make much ado about not much….over, and over again….the conspiracy theorist in me believes the intent is to eliminate the band as a creditable course and eliminate Leckrone.

I liken the band experience to my time in the military.  Leckrone puts them through hell and breaks down their selfishness until they commit 100% to the band as a whole.  There are no individuals and no individual is more important than the band.  Because of that shared experience and camaraderie, the band members tend to be very, very tight.

I’m well aware of the downside of that (groups can tend to lose the conscience when shenanigans are afoot), but this group is really not like that.  There’s definitely a few individuals that have crossed the line from time to time, but Leckrone deals with them harshly.  Mike actually went all the way to the US Court of Appeals to force a member to pay one of his fines (the “F-bomb” is considered “the $200 word). http://badgerherald.com/news/2005/04/25/judge_clears_leckron.php Gauder v. Leckrone, 366 F. Supp. 2d 780 (W.D. Wisc. 2005).

Most of the behavior alleged was boorish, crude and for a lot of “normal” people, offensive. Drinking?  Definitely.  Excessive drinking? Probably.  Underage drinking?  Certainly.

But, let’s not forget…these are COLLEGE STUDENTS.  Sincerely, the behavior alleged by band members (much of which is unsubstantiated legend) is nowhere near the level of debauchery that occurs every single weekend at most frat houses and athletic team parties.

As the university began the most recent investigation, they asked aggrieved students to come forward and state their grievances.  When no one voluntarily went in to talk to the Dean of Students, she sent an email stating words to the effect of:  'because no one is coming forward to talk to us, the band may remain suspended indefinitely.'

The upperclassmen decided to go in on their own and talk to the dean.  These 'talks' quickly turned into a witch hunt.  Questioning went like this (per my oldest daughter):

'Have you ever _______?'
'Have you ever witnessed anyone else doing ________?'
'Have you ever HEARD of anyone doing _________....if so, who did you hear it from and who did they say did it.'

So, now that all is said and done, what was the outcome?  At last count, seven members out of 350 were found to have violated the university code of conduct.  All seven received letters of reprimand, which remain in their file…..until graduation….when it is to be removed and destroyed.

The reeking stench of fishy-ness is rampant here.  The university tipped off the media to the situation originally.”


In a subsequent e-mail, this parent added:


“Just to illustrate the effect the university’s actions have had on many of the band students, my oldest, called us one night the week the story was in full bloom in the media.  She was sobbing.  Her comment:  ‘I’ve worked so hard for four years…..I always thought being in the band would be such a great thing to put on a resume….now I can’t do that.’

It’s not so much the fact that the university did an ‘investigation’.  It’s the way it was handled, the fiasco it created and the way they besmirched the reputation of 350 people when a handful were responsible.

Can you honestly think of any organization, having received an email ‘tip’, that would suspend an entire group and hold a press conference detailing the tip?

You would think the normal response would be:  ‘We’ve received an allegation of potential hazing and will investigate.  We won’t comment until the investigation is complete.’”


In my view, the university totally botched this entire affair.

The ACLU opposes a Drexel Avenue Interchange


In keeping with the loopy, warped, twisted, moonbat tradition of the ACLU, read why they're so upset:


WISDOT VIOLATED CIVIL RIGHTS RULES, ACLU ALLEGES
For Immediate Release: December 3, 2008
Contact: Karyn Rotker, Senior Staff Attorney, (414) 272-4032 x 21; krotker@aclu-wi.org

The ACLU of Wisconsin today requested a federal investigation of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for violating civil rights laws when it decided to expand I-94.

In a complaint filed with Offices for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, the ACLU object to WisDOT’s plans to widen I-94, build an new interchange at Drexel Ave., and close much of the interchange at 27
th St. and I-894. The ACLU is requesting that the government investigate WisDOT, stop the widening of I-94, and prevent construction of the Drexel Interchange - especially if the 27th St. Interchange is closed.

“WisDOT’s own environmental impact statement shows that building the Drexel Interchangeis likely to hurt development in the city of Milwaukee - the state’s only majority-minority city -while it helps development in non-diverse suburbs,” noted Karyn Rotker, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin. Rotker added that the disparities will worsen with closure of the 27
th St. Interchange. “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act makes it clear that agencies can’t take actions that have a discriminatory effect on communities of color - even if the discrimination isn’t intentional.”

There are similar problems with spending hundreds of millions of dollars to add lanes to I-94, added ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty. “WisDOT has said adding the lanes is going to have only a minimal effect on travel times - and that not adding lanes could increase the market for development closer to downtown Milwaukee, thus helping city residents,most of whom are persons of color.” WisDOT, however, rejected that approach.

The ACLU complaint also asserts that expanding highways without moving forward on public transportation projects has a discriminatory effect on communities of color, who are disproportionately dependent on public transit. “In a time of limited resources, WisDOT needs to ensure that it isn’t increasing the disparities between those with access to cars and transit dependent persons. But that’s what this plan does. Instead, WisDOT needs to ensure that a fair share of the benefits of its transportation programs are going to communities of color - who will be much more likely to benefit from increased transit access than from the bigger highway WisDOT wants to build.”



Boy they're really sharp at the ACLU. WisDOT wants to put in that Drexel Interchange because they're racist.

Greg Kowalski, are you out there?


I'm guessing that Greg and I agree that:

1) This new holiday flavor looks really, really good, and

2) It would be very cool for a CF to come to Franklin.

The Cheesecake Factory
   

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I repeat: Who says Franklin has no culture?


Brings back memories of watching Roller Derby on TV in the 70's with Joan Weston and Anne Calvello 

Brewcity Bruisers
 
Bring a non-parishable food item for $2 off the admission at the door! 

Dec 08 Bout flyer

Be Cool!  Be Green!  Save Green!
Take the Party Bus!

Bus
Since drinking and driving isn't cool, take the party bus instead!  
 
Check it out, Bayview! We're heading out your way! 
 
Shuttle departs at the following times and locations:

5:00 Roast Cafe
2132 E Locust St.
5:15 Landmark Lanes
2220 N Farwell
5:30 Club Garibaldi 2501 S Superior St.
6:00 Cataldo's / VFW  2860 S. KK in BAYVIEW!! 

$5 round trip, returns to all locations. 
 
$10 Bout tickets can also be purchased on the bus!! 
 
Come party with us at Cataldo's/VFW in Bayview! 

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A top Franklin official reacts to ACLU lawsuit


Here is The Daily Reporter story on the ACLU's civil rights complaint against the DOT and the proposed Drexel Avenue Interchange:

ACLU tries to kill I-94 widening

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Illegal immigrants: Come on in!

Illegal immigration


One of the main reasons why America has such an out of control illegal immigration problem is that we are our own worst enemy. As a nation, we not only tolerate illegal immigration, we encourage it.

The most egregious example is in New Haven, Connecticut. In July 2007, I blogged about an outrageous action by New Haven officials. New Haven now offers illegal immigrants municipal identification cards that allow access to city services. Besides serving as identification for bank services and if police ask for ID, the card can be used at municipal locations such as libraries, beaches, and parks – and as a debit card for city parking meters and at more than a dozen  downtown shops.

Gee, you think New Haven might be a place illegal immigrants might flock to?

Over a year later, Governing Magazine has an update on how the red carpet continues to roll out for the illegals.

As you read the article, note the subtle, sympathetic spin by the reporter, with my spin in red that follows:

“Some have responded with a hard-headed approach, passing ordinances that call for fines or jail time for property owners who knowingly rent to illegal immigrants or employers who hire them.”
If you oppose illegal immigration, you are hard-headed.

“To backers of the idea, though, the card's greatest effect may never be measurable: the extent to which it eases the burdens of daily life for immigrant residents….”
Yes, it’s good and proper to make life easier for people here illegally.

“We have a percentage of our population that was afraid to do things, and now they're less afraid. They're more a part of the community than they were without the card."
Well, isn’t that special?

“The influx of immigrants from all over Latin America — both legal and illegal — has put Fair Haven on a more promising track…”
It’s so much more promising for a community to attract more illegal immigrants.

“When the city finally did introduce it (the ID card), there was an explicit attempt to broaden its appeal beyond immigrants, mostly by emphasizing that it could be useful for all residents.”
An ID card that offers all kinds of goodies for illegals is actually good for legal citizens, too. Huhhh????

“You've created this population that is — because of their fears and the status the federal government has created for them — afraid to interact with us.”
Uhh, HELLO! They’re supposed to have fear. They’re not supposed to be here!!!!

"They're here already," Ramos says of the illegal immigrants he visits. "They're here. Should we not protect their health and safety while they're here? Are we going to close our eyes? We can't turn our backs on them."
We’re here. We’re illegal. Tough. Get used to it.

"Cities and counties around the country have to think about local measures to address the realities of new immigrant populations and how institutions like libraries, the police, fire departments, hospitals and schools can adapt to the realities of those populations — whatever happens in Congress.”
Don’t you understand, you law-abiding, taxpaying citizens who subsidize all these illegals? You have to adjust that attitude and embrace policies that accept these illegal immigrants into our communities.


The Governing Magazine article is as informative as it is nauseating. But this is what’s going on in our own country. As the title of the article suggests, we are throwing down the WELCOME MAT for illegal aliens. Come to America. We won’t harm you. If anything, we’ll take good care of you.

Why this wasn’t a bigger Presidential campaign issue is beyond me, unless both candidates didn’t want to ALIENate the Hispanic vote.


Wisconsin remembers the Day of Infamy


From the State of Wisconsin, Department of Veterans Affairs:

Pearl Harbor Day to be observed
Ceremonies to be held at the Milwaukee War Memorial and at the Wis. Veterans Home at King

(MADISON) – To mark the 67th
anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and America’s entry into World War II, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) will host two ceremonies on Sunday, December 7, 2008. Governor Jim Doyle has proclaimed December 7, 2008 as a day for the recognition of Pearl Harbor Day in Wisconsin, and the proclamation will be read at the ceremonies. In the evening of Dec. 7, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs will co-host a Pearl Harbor Day ceremony with AMVETS District 2, at the Milwaukee County War Memorial in Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m.

Kenneth Sweet of Milwaukee, a Pearl Harbor Day survivor, will be one of the featured speakers. Those attending the event will include members of AMVETS District 2, the Badger Detachment of the Marine Corps League, members of the Wisconsin veterans services community, and World War II veterans who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kenneth Sweet, and LeRoy Knurr, of Brown Deer.

“As we observe Pearl Harbor Day this December 7, we will also remember two Wisconsin men who lost their lives in the attacks on December 7th and 8th and whose remains have just been identified and returned to their families this year,” said Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Ken Black (who will also speak at the event in Milwaukee).

U.S. Navy Fireman Second Class Lawrence Boxrucker of Dorchester, Wis. was among 400 seamen killed on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. U.S. Navy Ensign Robert G. Tills of Manitowoc was killed when his craft was sunk by Japanese aircraft while defending the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941. “We must never allow to be forgotten the valiant service of the countless U.S. service members like Lawrence Boxrucker and Robert Tills, who gave their lives defending our nation as it entered the Second World War,” said Black.

The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, Wis. will also host a ceremony to commemorate the observance of Pearl Harbor Day, at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 in the Marden Memorial Center, with the keynote speaker Ken Schweiger, who along with his father Lester are both residents of the King Home and are both veterans of World War II. Lester Schweiger will turn 103 years old this month.

Another oldie, but not a goodie from state Democrats


If the Democrats are the party of change, then I’m Julius Caesar.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and state Representative Cory Mason plan to introduce the oldest, most tired, least creative idea from the Democrats’ playbook: increasing the minimum wage. From Decker and Mason to legislators today, looking for co-sponsors:

We are introducing legislation that would increase the minimum wage from its current level of $6.50 per hour to $7.60 per hour effective on June 1, 2009.  The separate minimum wages for minors, opportunity employees and others would be increased by the same percentage and are specifically enumerated in the bill.  Beginning on June 1, 2010 the minimum wage will be indexed for inflation.  The bill further eliminates the current prohibition against allowing a city, village, town or county from enacting an ordinance establishing a living wage.”

What’s wrong with raising the minimum wage? Let’s count the ways.

1) Supporters claim raising the minimum wage will help the middle class. Liberals obviously don’t know much about the economy if they seriously think raising the minimum wage will help the middle class. How many people that fall under the category of “middle class” that you know are working for the minimum wage?

2) Most economists believe the minimum wage law costs the economy thousands of jobs.

3) Teenagers, workers in training, college students, interns, and part-time workers all have their options and opportunities limited by the minimum wage and might even lose their jobs.

4) Liberals say the minimum wage needs to be increased so the wage can support families. Wrong! A low-paying job remains an entry point for those with few marketable skills. Minimum wage jobs were never intended to be family-supporting positions.

5) When you force American companies to pay a certain wage, you increase the likelihood that those companies will outsource jobs to foreign workers, where labor is much cheaper.

6) Non-profit charitable organizations are hurt by the minimum wage.

7) Increasing the minimum wage can drive some small companies out of business.

8) Raising the minimum wage hurts the poor, the very faction of society Democrats are always crying need more help that only they can provide.

9) It takes away jobs, keeps people on welfare, and encourages high-school students to drop out.

10) Jobs lost will be entry-level jobs, thus, teens living at home with mom and dad will be hurt the most, not parents trying to raise families.

11) Jobs lost mean fewer opportunities of employment for the poor.

12) Raising it keeps welfare mothers on welfare longer. Mothers on welfare in states that raised their minimum wage remained on welfare 44 percent longer than mothers on welfare in states where it was not raised.

13) Raising the minimum wage means fewer jobs are available.

14) With a larger pool of applicants, competition is stiffer. Low-skilled workers have a more difficult time getting those job skills that are crucial to economic well-being.

15) A raise in the minimum wage increases the number of high-school students who drop out.

What’s unfortunate is that the poor fail to understand how Democrats are really hurting them by suggesting the minimum wage be increased. That begs the question once again; just how poor are the poor?


Friday night on InterCHANGE

Here are the topics the panel discusses on InterCHANGE on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10 at 6:30, with a repeat Sunday morning at 11:00:


1 – AUTOMAKER BAILOUT.


Automakers head back to Washington to beg for even more money than they asked for a few weeks ago.  The threat is that if they don’t get the money, they’ll possibly go bankrupt, and things could get so severe that it could throw the country into a depression.  Are they being a little too dramatic?  Wouldn’t bankruptcy be an option?  Do we lend them all this money and just hope that they come up with a better business model?  Americans won’t stop needing cars, so won’t people just buy an even higher number of Honda and Toyota vehicles, which would allow those companies to grow and employ more people?  Is this the end of the U.A.W. as we know it?  Are we at the point now where the average Joe doesn’t even appreciate (or care?) about the amount of money ($34 Billion) that these car makers are asking for?  Is it pathetic pandering to the media for these executives to show up in Washington in their experimental hybrid vehicles and pledge to work for $1 in salary a year? Should the entire question be put on hold until an Obama administration takes its place?


2 – Mumbai.


Why does the United States have to be concerned with the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India?  Does it put a strain on our relationship with Pakistan, if that’s where the terrorists were from?  What would Hillary Clinton and an Obama administration do that Bush and Rice are not doing?


3 – Packers.


As the N-F-L season begins to wind down, we’ve had some time to watch how the Brett Favre matter has played out.  Should the Packers have held on to Favre?  Is Favre the main reason that the Jetts are doing well?  Is Rodgers the main reason that the Packers have not done as well?  Is Rodgers doing the job?  Is McCarthy a failure as a coach?

Justice, finally?


How can he find the real killer of his ex-wife, as he promised he would,  if he's going to prison, possibly for the rest of his life?


UPDATE: Simpson sentenced

Prostitutes and St. Nicholas


Tonight, the kids hang up stockings before going to bed. That’s the custom on St. Nicholas Day Eve. Good boys and girls will wake up on December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, to find goodies in their Christmas stockings.

Of all things, prostitution helped to inspire the legend of St. Nicholas. From Christianity Today:

"According to tradition, a poor family in Myra had three daughters who were being courted for marriage but who had no dowries. This doomed the girls to a life of shame and possible prostitution. The good bishop took it upon himself to supply their dowries, anonymously slipping bags of gold into their home—some say into stockings that were hanging up to dry. In securing their dowries—and so their right to marry—he rescued them from an otherwise degrading destiny. When Nicholas's identity as the benefactor came to light, so began the adulation of this gift-bearing saint. As a result, he also became the patron saint of children.”

Read how St. Nicholas is celebrated around the world, including Austria where St. Nicholas doesn’t work alone. He’s aided by a gruesome monster.

Christmas comes this time each year....



Read more

Keeping the atheists happy at the PO


The Post Office is one busy place these days, and that’s a good thing. Venture out to your friendly neighborhood PO (no, that was not meant to be sarcastic, but it could have been) and you may feel like you’re in a Perry Mason episode if you’re purchasing stamps.

“Do you want the Christmas or the regular?”

Tis the season, so you reply, “I’ll take the Christmas.”

The interrogation isn’t over.

“Will that be the religious…..



Read more

Kissing and Kristyna (Wentz-Graff)

That's quite a picture in today's MIlwaukee Journal Sentinel of Josie Kinnunen getting her first kiss from Ben Schmiedeck as he arrived Wednesday at Mitchell International Airport. Watching are Ben's stepfather, Bob Young; mother, Robin Young; and sister Sarah Marson.




Yes, there's a story that goes along with that nice shot.

The smooch was photographed by Kristyna Wentz-Graff. It's not the first time Wentz-Graff has captured a touching kiss.

Pray that Wisconsin Democrats....


Don't get wind of this.

Doyle dishonest on Social Security taxes


With a state budget deficit at $5.4 billion, according to Governor Doyle, the phrase, “Everything’s on the table,” is being bandied about when talk surfaces about how we crawl out of this ugly mess. A report this week suggests that the state might reconsider its decision to exempt Social Security Income from taxes. The taxes are being phased out and will be eliminated completely for tax year 2008 after the exemption was made part of the 2005-07 state budget.

Enter Governor Doyle, posing for holy pictures. From wispolitics.com:

"'This is something that I fought really hard for and people have been counting on it. We've been phasing it in, and I'm really proud of the fact Wisconsin no longer taxes Social Security,' Doyle told reporters following a reception for the opening of a Google office in downtown Madison."

Sounds like a nice sound bite, perfectly timed and appropriate. Problem is, that part about, “This is something that I fought really hard for,” simply isn’t true.

Assembly Republican Leader Jeff Fitzgerald sets the record straight:

“The repeal of the Social Security tax is clearly a Republican initiative. For Governor Doyle to publicly claim it as his own is disingenuous at best. Governor Doyle has introduced two budgets – neither one of them included even a reduction of Social Security taxes, let alone repeal. Make no mistake; Republicans repealed the Social Security tax.”

Fitzgerald adds Republicans did more than that.

“Republicans stood firm and removed 98% of the tax increases during the last budget
negotiation.”

Read Fitzgerald’s news release.

Governor Doyle, not being completely truthful? Shocking, isn’t it?

Franklin bloggers unfairly rip Franklin official


Many, many years ago, while working in radio news, I covered a noon hour press conference by then-Milwaukee County Parks Department Director Dave Schulz. Schulz had called the media together on his own lunch time to tell reporters he was endorsing John Norquist for mayor of the city of Milwaukee.

When he got back to his office at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, County Executive William O’Donnell was waiting. O’Donnell fired the young, bright, articulate Schulz on the spot.

It didn’t take long before the unemployed Schulz announced he would run against O’Donnell. Not only did Schulz trounce O’Donnell, but the man he endorsed for mayor also won. Not only did the voters see exciting change in the much younger Schulz, they thought he was treated badly by O’Donnell.

Schulz exercised his free speech rights, and it backfired on him, but only for awhile.

A few days ago, I blogged that a top official in city of Franklin government, Department of Administration head Mark Luberda was quoted by the Daily Reporter on the ACLU’s lawsuit against a proposed interchange at Drexel Avenue, claiming the project was racist in nature. I merely posted the article and offered no opinion one way or the other about Luberda’s remarks to the Daily Reporter.

These days, any movement of any kind at Franklin City Hall and the cabal of Franklin bloggers goes into cardiac arrest. Sure enough, it happened here.

How could Luberda talk to the press? My God, he has no business doing that!!!

I guess they can spout off on anything and everything, but someone close to the issue is not supposed to?

Maybe the Three Wise Bloggers, led by Greg Kowalski and the others who took his lead, Fred Keller and Janet Evans didn’t take into consideration why the Daily Reporter sought out Luberda. Luberda didn’t go after the Daily Reporter.

A logical explanation could be that the Daily Reporter, on tight deadline, couldn’t reach any Oak Creek officials (it is the holiday season, after all) because they were unavailable. Ditto for certain Franklin officials. But Luberda was. Luberda’s a big boy. I’m sure he can tie his own shoes and cross the street by himself.

For the record, here is the excerpt from the Daily Reporter piece that Franklin bloggers found so offensive that they went into orbit:

“To try to manipulate that system to restrict commercial development seems to fly in the face of the purpose of the interstate system,” he said. “It really needs to be a technical engineering question: What’s the traffic demand and demand for access on and off the interstate at that point?”

WisDOT studies determined a need for more access at Drexel, Luberda said, and removing the interchange would only add more traffic to the highway because cars could not get off.

“Sometimes, to evaluate a proposal, it’s helpful to take that proposal to an extreme,” he said. “And to an extreme point, it would be that you get on at Racine and you can’t get off until Milwaukee.”

Seems logical and downright truthful to me. What’s the big controversy?

Let’s see.

If the mayor of Franklin commented, he would have been ripped. Had Franklin Alderman Steve Olson commented, oh my God, all hell would have broken loose.

Had Franklin Common Council President Steve Taylor commented, Janet Evans would have been in tears, singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Franklin bloggers should have attacked the SUBSTANCE of the remarks made by Luberda. Instead, they attacked Luberda, which was unfair and flat out wrong, especially when his comments were dead on.

Luberda talked to the Daily Reporter, not 60 Minutes for Christ’s sake.

I, for one, appreciate that a member of Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor’s administration doesn’t have a gag in his mouth and is allowed to speak to the press on an area that he feels comfortably he has some expertise.

Now, I’m posting this blog shortly after 9:00 on Friday night. Rest assured when the cabal reads this blog, they will burn up their computers e-mailing one another.

“Did you see what that no good, rotten Fischer wrote?”

Guaranteed, I’ll be skewered in the next 24 hours. Somehow, I think I’ll survive.

Luberda used his free speech. Want to do the right thing? Analyze what he actually said. He has every right to make those comments given the interchange will have far-reaching implications for Franklin.

Good for you, Mark.

Week-ends

Week-ends


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week.
Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


HEROES OF THE WEEK


James Lewin, one helluva grandpa


Foster care protesters


World War II Pacific Vets


Wisconsin National Guard


Andrew Kinard


Michael Phelps


Former NBA star, now smooth jazz star Wayman Tisdale




VILLAINS OF THE WEEK


Michael Andrew Stephens


Seattle artist Deborah Lawrence UNC's Sarah Michalak


Leonard Taylor



QUOTES OF THE WEEK


"I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn't campaign and say: 'Please vote for me. I'll be able to handle an attack.' In other words, I didn't anticipate war. Presidents -- one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen."
President Bush, in an interview with ABC News.


“I’m sure some people voted for [President-elect] Barack Obama because of me. Obviously the economic situation made it awfully difficult for John McCain to get a message out. And I felt that Barack Obama ran a very disciplined campaign. I mean, he inspired a lot of people and was in a position to take advantage of the inspiration. It was well-organized, he raised a lot of money, and ran a textbook campaign.”
President Bush, speaking to ABC News.


"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me. They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked.'"
Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fl.) explaining why she hung up on President-elect Barack Obama. But, the Miami Herald reports, this was no prank.


"Put everything but food and medicine on the table, because everybody has to share the pain."
State Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) who wants to draft a bill that continues food and health-related sales tax exemptions, but apply the 5% tax to everything else to address the state budget deficit. The idea was called “radical” by the Journal Sentinel that also reported Jauch is the only lawmaker making such a proposal.


"We have to take a position that everything's on the table. We have to consider that somebody's going to put on the table a plastic bag tax of 25 cents until there's not. We have to assume there will be a bottle deposit fee until we're told there's not. We have to assume there will be a soda tax until we're told there's not."
Brandon Scholz, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Grocers Association, assuming there will be plenty of proposed tax increases.


"No matter the technique, pulling more money from the private economy to send to Madison is a tax increase. Forcing struggling families to pay sales taxes on services that they did not have to pay before will make everything from getting a haircut to a membership at the gym more expensive."
Assembly Republican Leader Jeff Fitzgerald of Horicon.


“Are you serious...Wisconsin Democrats want to raise taxes? Well, alert the national media! Seriously, why is this even a story? It's no surprise our taxes are going up...again. I am out of here as soon as the housing market improves. Our state officials make me sick.”
A person identified as OakCreekMom, commenting on the Journal Sentinel website on a story that State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) will only support raising taxes a last resort to solve the state budget deficit. 


“I would have for sure killed some people if that was real. That was really crazy. They were scaring me. I’m shaking! It was so hard to text. I knocked over so many cones. I was swerving over there. I was ready for this car to roll over. If my mom was here, you would’ve given her heart attack.”
Teenager Chelsea Cross, talking about a test that she and two friends took for Channel 12 News. They drove through a course at Milwaukee Area Technical College to see how safely they could drive and text at the same time. Five states currently ban texting while driving for all drivers. Another 10 states ban teen drivers from texting.


“Two more years left now, starting in January —“
An Associated Press reporter, interviewing Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen.


“Oh, you're throwing me out of office already? Come on. Where's the love?”
Van Hollen’s quick response to AP reporter after the above question.


“I think we sent a very strong message that I don't care who you are or what position you hold, if you violate the law, we are going to enforce it. We are going to do something about it. Nobody is above the law. Individuals aren't. Certainly government agencies aren't.”
Van Hollen, on what he accomplished with his lawsuit demanding the state Government Accountability Board abide by federal law and verify the identities of tens of thousands of voters before the election. A judge threw the lawsuit out a little more than a week before the election. 


"I don't believe there's any significant dispute as to the fact that they did not attend significant portions of the conference. But it appeared more a matter of incompetence rather than intentional conduct."
Assistant District Attorney David Feiss, head of the public integrity unit, on the decision that Milwaukee School Board member Charlene Hardin and a high school secretary didn't do anything criminal when they went AWOL instead of attending a school safety conference in Philadelphia earlier this year.


“It’s actually going to shift development likely out of the city of Milwaukee and into the suburbs. That’s having a discriminatory effect because of who’s living in the suburbs that are going to benefit.”
Karyn Rotker, ACLU senior staff attorney, on the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plans to build a Drexel Avenue Interchange. The ACLU contends the project would be a violation of civil rights.


 "Look, somebody has to do it. It's cost-effective because the alternative is to pay a county worker to do the job. With pay and benefits, that comes to $30 an hour. This isn't heart surgery, and it's not like we're asking them to handle nuclear waste. It's janitorial work, and they do have to be trained properly because of AIDS and hepatitis."
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke on giving inmates one hour off their sentence for every hour they work cleaning up blood, urine, ***, saliva, vomit and other bodily fluids at the House of Correction and the Criminal Justice Facility.


"Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication."
The Dalai Lama in an interview with reporters. He said conjugal life caused "too much ups and downs. He said the "consolation" in celibacy is that although "we miss something, but at the same time, compare whole life, it's better, more independence, more freedom."


"I'm chubby and I'm pregnant and it's awesome. I'm used to living my life in a bikini, and I'm definitely not bikini-ready. I think the chubbiness is all relative, but it's for the very best cause in the whole wide world, is what I keep telling myself. And I'm pretty proud of it."
Two-time Olympic beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh found something to keep her busy after winning her second successive gold medal: She's pregnant.
Walsh and husband Casey Jennings, a fellow pro beach volleyball player, are expecting a child in the spring.



OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK


Dane County mishandles a 9-1-1 call.



MOST UNDER-REPORTED STORY OF THE WEEK


Apparently when it comes to Governor Doyle, the Capitol press corps has no fact-check.



MOST OVER-HYPED STORY OF THE WEEK


CEO's of the Big Three once again go begging Congress for a bailout. I agree with columnist Rich Galen: Get back in your jets and go home.



STRANGEST, MOST UNUSUAL STORY OF THE WEEK


Wisconsin company sued
over toilet bowl......AHEM......incident.


In rush hour traffic, ticket delivered.



REMEMBER: Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me.

The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot


THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.

TODAY:  Windy, blowing snow, cold.  "F"

SUNDAY:  Sunny but very cold. "F"


You may remember a few months ago about the terrible case in Maryland…  A case of mistaken identity where a small town mayor and his family were thought to be part of a drug ring.  During an overzealous and unnecessary raid on this man’s family, police officers shot and killed the two family Labradors.  

In these crazy times of kindergarteners bringing weapons to class, soccer moms selling street drugs at their children’s’ games and parents prostituting their daughters to pay rent, anything is possible, including a small town mayor being a drug lord.  Generally I am extremely supportive of law enforcement.  I am grateful to the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line every day so that I may live safely and free from harm.

Tempers and emotions run high during situations where a split second action or hesitation can mean life or death for either the officer or perpetrator of a crime.  You don’t need to watch Law and Order or CSI for examples of the battles between officers and criminals.  Just turn on your 10 o’clock news.  However, not every law enforcement official makes a good decision every time he or she is on duty.  Mistakes can be, and are, made.

One example of how criminals attempt to keep police at bay is the use of violent or dangerous dogs, often but not always Pitt Bulls.  OK, I know Pitt Bulls have a bad reputation but it’s not without plenty of stories to fuel the debate about this particular breed.  Again, I understand if an officer is facing being ripped to shreds by a dog, that officer is more than justified in taking action.

But something I find disturbing is the fact that over the last decade, there have been over 400 dogs killed in the line of duty by Milwaukee police officers. 400 dogs in 10 years… 40 dogs in one year… or at least three dogs per month.  I’m not a statistician or a criminal expert but to me, that seems like an extraordinarily and possibly unnecessarily high number.

In 2004, officers shot Bubba, a seven-year-old  Lab/Springer Spaniel mix as they were searching a South Side neighborhood for a wanted man they were told had a Pit Bull.  Read the details of the case here. 

They didn’t find the man, and even if you are not a judge for an American Kennel Club dog show, surely you know the difference between a Pit Bull and a Lab/Springer mix.  Based solely on the information from this article, it appears to me that the police were not justified in executing this dog.  Even if the dog was baring its teeth after it had been shot the first time… that is the way an injured dog reacts.  I’ve known owners bit by their own dogs when they were trying to help it after an injury.

I would be extremely curious to find out the details of the 400+ dog shootings this past decade.  I am sure that the majority of them are justified.  If my husband was the police officer facing a dangerous dog, I’D be happy to pull the trigger myself.  Yet I wonder how many family pets were destroyed because of someone being a bit too eager to do away with a dog.

In our overly litigious society I’m not a big advocate of lawsuits over spilled coffee, fights between neighbors over a fence or tree on property line, or thieves suing the homeowner for an injury they incurred during an attempted robbery of that person’s house.

But if I were in Virginia Viilo’s place, I would probably file a claim too.  It will be interesting to see the outcome of the trial.  Quite frankly I don’t hold out much hope that the ruling will favor Viilo and Bubba.  I think there are times when law enforcement officers should be held accountable for their actions.  And I think this is certainly one of them.
---Jennifer Fischer


Thanks, Jennifer! My turn. That means it's time for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.

The SPCA put out this notice, asking those concerned to sign a petition to stop the inhumane killing of dogs in Iraq.

From the, "Some people shouldn't own pets" category... so please, take some advice from your friends at the state of Wisconsin.

Pet therapy is becoming more popular.

F
or the person who doesn't have time to take care of the pet...these gizmos.

Don't forget to protect the paws.

A promise is a promise...please pass the ALPO.

Jesus Christ!

We close out this week's entry with a dip into The Barking Lot e-mailbag:


Dear Jennifer and Kevin,

Just had to drop a note, mates, that I love The Barking Lot, I honestly love it.

If not for The Barking Lot, I couldn't even find the door. Why, I couldn't even see the floor, I’d be so sad and blue, if not for you every Saturday morning.This is pure and simple and you must realize that it's coming from my heart and not my head that I honestly love your blog. The first time I read it, I was happy in your sunshine. I grew to love it more each passing week. I guess you could say I'm hopelessly devoted to your blog.

But I have a friendly observation I need to pass along. I couldn’t help but notice, and I can’t imagine why, that you’ve managed the last two weeks to work John Travolta into the blog. I’m not sure if that was intentional but I can’t wait to see if you decide to work John into The Barking Lot for a third straight week.


Sincerely,


Olivia


Dear Olivia,

Gosh. Jennifer and I are blushing. To be honest, there was no intent to highlight John Travolta two consecutive weeks. It just worked out that way. As for incorporating him into our dog blog for a third week in a row, well, I'm just not sure that's possible. But thank you for reading and for that lovely note.

Kevin and Jennifer




That's it for this week. We always try to end with some kicker as they call it in the radio/TV business, a cute or funny story or, in the case of the Barking Lot, a video. Gosh, we're so sorry to disappoint Olivia. Let's see.

Maybe......


She'll like.............


This..........

 

Read more

Recommended reading

Recommended reading


Here are, in my view, interesting, noteworthy columns and articles from the past week that I highly recommend:


Bush did good, but the hateful left won't give him credit


'At least Bush kept us safe'


Life on the border


State directors out of touch


Doyle oil tax riding on rims


MPS to taxpayers: Not to worry, everything's good


And reparations would consist of blowing up Ryan Road


An enduring crisis for the Black family


Convicted sex offenders live under stringent set of rules. Gee, what a shame.


Every week on my Saturday morning blog, Week-ends, I pick a MOST UNDER-REPORTED STORY of the week. Chuck Norris has the most overlooked story of 2008.


The liberal doth vote too much, methinks  (Note: this column does contain language that some may find offensive)

I am leaving This Just In...


It’s true. I’ll be leaving this blog. For a week, that is. And then I’ll be back.

I have some exciting news about my week off. Details coming Sunday, right here on This Just In…

This woman is scum

Lori Drew, right, and her daughter Sarah Drew arrive at federal ...

That's Lori Drew and her daughter Sarah Drew. Lori Drew was accused of making unauthorized use of MySpace to cause emotional harm to a 13-year-old girl, who then committed suicide. Lori Drew was found guilty of misdemeanors in a case that everyone who uses the Internet should be interested in. Drew posed as someone she wasn't, assuming a false identity. Her disgusting, despicable behavior led to the death of an innocent young girl.

I've talked about this story on WISN and blogged about it, but have not written about all the specifics surrounding this warped, twisted woman. I'll have more details about anonymity on the Internet that kills, Sunday.

Neutering Christmas


That's what "diversity" attempts to do every December.

Read...

Remembering one of the worst days in American history


Pearl Harbor
was bombed by the Japanese 67 years ago today. For your Pearl Harbor anniversary reading:

The theme of this year’s anniversary: The U.S. response.

There are fewer survivors left to discuss their stories.

The sacred relics of Pearl Harbor


A 98-year old woman, now living in a New Jersey nursing home, learned recently that bits of her brother's body might have been recovered decades ago, and might lie in a grave marked “unknown’” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawai'i. She provides the DNA to help ID the remains.


Sixty-seven years ago, Marcus Butts couldn’t wait to enlist.

“Butts, like so many other Americans, heard the first sketchy reports over the family Philco radio. Still only 16, he went downtown two days later to enlist in the Navy. A sharp-eyed recruiter told him to come back on his birthday.

'
Everybody was swept up,’ he said. ‘The recruiting station was mobbed with guys, all smoking cigarettes and talking how they would do this or that. I thought I was as big and tough as everyone else down there. Why not take me?’”

Here's the full story.

No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial would not have been possible if not for Elvis Presley.




Read more

Tim Tebow: the pro-life poster child


On Saturday, led by 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner and 2008 Heisman Trophy candidate Tim Tebow, #2 Flordia defeated #1 Alabama, 31-20.

I have blogged in the past about Tebow, a young man I truly admire.

If the liberals had their way, Tebow would have been dead a long time ago.




My most popular blogs

Most popular


As I post every Sunday, here are the top five most popular of my blog entries from the previous week:

1) Photos of the Week (11/30/08)

2) Culinary no-no #89

3) Why can't Franklin (and everbody else for that matter) be more like...

4) Do you feel any sympathy about this?

5) I don't know, she looks pretty good to me

Photos of the Week (12/07/08)

Photos of the Week



JOBS ECON CRISIS

People look for jobs at an unemployment office at the State of New York Department of Labor on Fri., Dec. 5, 2008. With the economy deteriorating rapidly, the nation's employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, the 11th consecutive monthly decline, the government reported Friday morning, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent. (Michael Nagle/The New York Times)


 

 APTOPIX Congress Autos

Auto executives, from left, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner, Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli, Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mullay and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 5, 2008, before the House Financial Services Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


Read more

If you read (or write on) the Internet, this is important

Topics talked about on WISN


Lori Drew is one of the most evil women in America. Drew was indicted on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on a 13-year old girl who committed suicide. Drew was recently found guilty of misdemeanors instead of felonies.

This is a troubling case that could have implications for Internet users that remain unclear. Here’s the background that demonstrates that Internet anonymity and deception can be deadly.

Lori Drew was doing well in her own local advertising business and was well thought of in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Her daughter, Sarah, was a good friend of another seventh-grader, 13-year old Megan Meier. Megan had a problem with her weight, and also suffered from Attention-Deficit Disorder and depression. Megan had been seeing a therapist since she was in the third grade after she began talking about suicide.

Sarah Drew and Megan Meier went to the eighth grade together and for whatever reason, their relationship became strained and the two were no longer friends. Sarah told her mother, Lori Drew, that Megan was mean to her.

Lori Drew created a profile on MySpace with the fake name “Josh Evans” and included a picture of a good looking young boy of the supposed 16-year old. Josh Evans claimed he had just moved into the area from Florida, was being home-schooled, played the drums and the guitar, and didn’t have a phone number. Oh, and he wanted to be friends with little Megan Meier.

Megan was overjoyed that this teenager wanted to put her on his friends list and shared her thrilling news with her mother, asking if she could add Josh Evans to her own friends list. Tina Meier, Megan’s mother, approved.

For the next month and a half, Megan and Josh chatted back and forth about subjects teens talk about. Posing as ‘Josh Evans,’ Lori Drew tried to use her adult cunning to persuade Megan to reveal all of her secrets to her online boyfriend. But Lori Drew told others about her scheme, including one of her employees at her advertising company who was brought in on the plot along with another neighborhood girl who had the login details to the Josh Evans account.

O
n October 15, 2006, Josh Evans changed. He became angry, mean.

Josh wrote to Megan, “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.” Megan responded that she didn’t know what Josh was talking about.

The next day, Megan handed out invitations at school to her birthday party. When Megan went home, she asked her mother to log into Megan’s MySpace account for her so she could see if Josh Evans had replied to her e-mail. Megan was hoping Josh would show up at her party and finally meet her parents.

But Josh had sent all of his computer correspondences to other online friends who suddenly knew all of Megan’s innermost secrets, feelings, and thoughts. Kids at school ridiculed Megan.

Megan’s mother had a dental appointment and was pressed for time, so she told Megan to sign off as she walked out the door. But Megan didn’t sign off. After her mother got to the dentist, she called Megan to find that her daughter was still online, sobbing. Megan told her mother everyone was making fun of her and again, Megan’s mother told her to log off.

Megan called her mother, and told her that people online were calling her, “fat,” and a “***.” Once again, Megan’s mother told Megan to log off.

When Megan’s mom got home from the dentist, she went to the computer and looked over the messages and then logged out of the MySpace account, finishing Megan’s computer use for the night. But before logging out, she failed to see the last message in Megan’s inbox from Josh Evans that read:

“Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a s***** rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”

Megan’s parents were preparing dinner when they suddenly suspected something was wrong and ran upstairs to their daughter’s room. They found Megan, who had hung herself with a belt in her closet.

An ambulance was summoned and Lori Drew called a 13-year old boy who was in on this evil joke and instructed her to keep quiet. The Josh Evans account was deleted. Megan Meier was dead the next day. The 13-year old boy eventually told Megan’s parents about what really happened.

Lori Drew isn’t directly responsible for Megan Meier’s death, but if not for her using a fake identity on the Internet to manipulate the innocent girl, Meier would be alive today.

One has to be pretty sick and twisted to concoct the despicable, sinister plot Lori Drew orchestrated.

Of course, not every individual who uses an anonymous or fake name is a Lori Drew. But there are such people who are mean and cruel who possess diabolical motives.

It’s unfortunate the jury couldn’t convict Lori Drew of felonies. She deserves a lot of prison time. Her case raises many questions about the Internet and the demented people who use it for evil purposes.


RELATED READING:


Is lying on the Internet now a crime?


Internet anonymity is as bad as Internet porn


Anonymity kills


Culinary no-no #90

Culinary no-no's


From my June 2, 2007 blog, “Fischer does Dennis Getto”:


"There’s a great concept going on for the next week in Milwaukee. It’s downtown Milwaukee dining week through Thursday.

Several fine restaurants downtown are offering prix fixe menus, $10 for lunch, $20 for dinner. Diners choose an appetizer, entrée, and dessert from a small menu.

My wife and I went to Coast last night, a restaurant we’ve been to before and always enjoyed.

We ordered our three courses all at once from the special menu. Appetizers were amazing, but both our entrees were cold, so we politely sent them back.

After the entrees, we waited for the final course. Remember, we had already made our dessert selections earlier. So we waited, and we waited, and we waited, and we waited.

One half-hour, and no sign of our waiter. It also had been over two hours since we placed our orders. Over two hours…….for three courses???

When the flourless chocolate cupcake and the banana-rum bread pudding finally were brought to our table, I firmly asked our waiter to explain why, after entrees had to be sent back due to temperature, desserts took 30 minutes to arrive? Wouldn't there be an effort to avoid another problem after cold entrees?

Of course, he apologized, offered to take the cost of two drinks off the bill, and said he was having his 'own frustrations' that night. I really don’t care and should that matter?"


So, what kind of tip did I leave? To be honest, I don’t remember. But I do know that I did leave a tip.  And that begs the question: Would it have been appropriate to leave nothing?

Food arrives late.

Food isn’t prepared properly.

A fork or knife is dirty.

Is that the waiter's/waitress’ fault? Not at all. He/she should not feel the sting of a zero tip.

Walking out without tipping has ramifications. If the restaurant pools its tips, you not only hurt the waiter/waitress, you just stuck it to the busboys, bartenders, and other staff.

Phoebe Damrosch, author of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter and a former server at the 12-star New York restaurant Per Se, says, “If you don’t tip, it’s easy for the waiter to rationalize that you’re cheap or European. Revenge doesn’t feel all that good in the long run.”

Let’s go back to my blog on Coast and pick up as Jennifer and I are leaving the restaurant where, remember, over two hours for three courses, one of them cold, another that we had to wait 30 minutes:


"On our way out, we just happened to run into the manager, and I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done……..and that’s complain to the person in charge.

He seemed to know the waiter I had, and said, 'He’s having a bad night.'

My reply was that I didn’t want him to get in trouble for problems beyond his control (like cold entrees) and that if Coast couldn’t handle this prix fixe concept, it shouldn’t participate next year.

The obligatory apologies followed, we wished each other a good evening, etc.

I recall reading a Dennis Getto review that encouraged diners to do what I did last night, if for no other reason than to help the restaurant improve its performance."


The so-called experts suggest leaving 10 percent and then telling someone why the tip wasn’t bigger. You may never return, but you may help make the restaurant a better business and save future diners the same experience.

Always leave something.

RELATED READING: 20% IS THE NEW 15% 


Culinary no-no BONUS:

I'm a tea drinker. In summer, it's iced tea, often sun tea made in a jar outside. Then it's hot tea all winter long. There are seemingly countless varieties of tea, but some preparations in some countries would definitely qualify as culinary no-nos.

From this weekend's broadcast of American Public Media's "Splendid Table":

Listen

Very exciting news about This Just In...


Jennifer and I are off on a babymoon so This Just In will have a different look this week, a much different look.

J.Gravelle of The Daily Scoff will once again step into the batter’s box to pinch hit with his sharp, witty writing style. J. always does a fantastic job filling in and I’m grateful I can always count on him for outstanding contributions.

But since we are in the holiday season, there will be a Christmas bonus on This Just In this week as we expand our list of guest bloggers.

Joining J. Gravelle will be a suburban female writer, a former NOW blogger on another community site I know some of you will know and all of you will enjoy. Karen makes her guest blogging debut on This Just In.

There’s more.

Another guest blogger is one I’ve blogged about and am very impressed with, a young blogger with great writing skills and a fantastic future ahead of him. He’s a Greenfield native attending the University of Minnesota. This past summer, he interned at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. It is so refreshing to see such a young writer with such talent.

Our third guest blogger this week will be the young man who calls himself the Conservative Casanova.

What a lineup! I am extremely pleased and proud to have such an impressive trio helping me this week with true, authentic, genuine conservative commentary. There will be no sucking up to liberals on this blog.

They will blog whenever they choose, so there's a good chance you'll see entries from each guest blogger every day.

Thank you for supporting these guest bloggers and This Just In beginning Monday, December 8th through next Sunday, December 14th.

TEMPLATE

xxx

Rules for Kev's Fill-In Bloggers

by J. Gravelle
Guest Blogger

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Move Over Gravelle

by Guest Blogger Karen 

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Outrage

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova

 I would like to start out by thanking Kevin very much for this exciting opportunity to share ideas with new people. I am a loyal follower of This Just In and only hope my blogging can help compensate for the week.  

Thomas Jefferson was once asked if he would rather do away with government or newspapers.  

He chose government because he felt newspapers served as watchdogs for the public. In his view, they were the first line of defense for the American people from a meddlesome government.  Theoretically that same principle holds as true today as it did more than two centuries ago.  

Theoretically.  

There are a number of conclusions to draw from the prolonged presidential election: Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo; they blame (justly or not) the lion’s share of today’s problems on the Republican Party; the presidential public finance system is obsolete; style is certainly more important than substance; and so on.  

But another revelation stemming from the election would surely anger Mr. Jefferson: The news media has blatantly and overwhelmingly sided with the liberal agenda.
They have inexplicably abandoned their objectivity and are hopping on the Democrat bandwagon.  

‘Revelation’ may have been a bit exaggerated as a number of individuals have hinted at the media’s closet liberalism for years. This presidential contest should have convinced even the most stubborn naysayer of a clear bias.  

I have advocated since November 4th for the GOP to reinvent itself with fresh faces and bold new ideas. To avoid future losses, renovation is crucial. Republicans are now taking responsibility for two consecutive, disheartening elections. We are getting our house in order, but it is equally important to recognize the media as a megaphone for the Democrats.

It is crucial for the electorate to realize the media is no longer a non-partisan element; they now openly promote shifting this country drastically left of the center.  They failed in their responsibilities to their audience. Facts were manipulated or ignored in some cases. False accusations were hurled on a daily basis. Stories were crafted and liberal spin was rampant. The media did not live up to any degree of professionalism and the American people, who own the airwaves, should be outraged.  

Where was the investigative journalism? Where were the Woodwards and Bernsteins of today? Where were Teddy Roosevelt’s muckrakers?  

What happens when the top watchdogs of government become its’ most faithful cheerleaders?  

I have a sneaking suspicion we are about to find out.

Will the Recession Mean a Toned-Down Inauguration?

by Guest Blogger Karen 

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A Cinderella Story

 

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova

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If Unhooking Bras Were a Federal Offense...

...I'd be on death row.

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Say it ain't so, Joe!

By guest blogger: Karen 

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In Rod We Trust

 By Guest Blogger: Conservative Casanova


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested today by the FBI on very serious corruption charges.

Of all the accusations, perhaps the most troubling is that the governor was preparing to 'sell' Obama's vacant senate seat to the highest bidder. He was hoping to garner the most benefits for himself in exchange for using his gubernatorial authority to appoint someone to the seat.

FBI special agent Robert Grant had this to say about the history of corruption stemming from Illinois “If it is not the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor”.

The "Land of Lincoln" has certainly become a breeding ground of corruption over the years.

Blago's own predecessor, George Ryan, was incarcerated last year for separate corruption charges.

This has caused a major headache for the president-elect and will test his ability to manage crisis.

The Chicago machine is alive and well. It has modernized with the times. Its ability to sink to new lows is a source of constant amazement to me.

"Honest politician" is an oxymoronic phrase in Chicago. And now we have several Chicagoan politicos holding top spots in Washington D.C.

I just hope Rahm Emmanuel isn't already working on Blago's pardon.

Playing Doctor

...is Washington Setting Us Up for a Health Care Bailout too?
 
by Guest Blogger: J. Gravelle
from: the DailyScoff.com blog
 
 
I'm mostly getting inquiries from businesses in the health care sector for new assignments in January of 2009.
 
As I've mentioned, I'm an independent computer services contractor/developer/programmer/whateverer. 
 
I get called in to automate (re-engineer) a company's processes when:
  • business is booming, and a company wants to avoid hiring a proportionate number of new workers to handle the load; or
  • business is stagnant or declining, and a company needs to be able to scale back on labor as much as possible but not allow their service level to suffer.
 It's safe to assume that the demand for health care services, in general, isn't declining.  But that doesn't make providers immune to the effects of the economy.
 
Combined with a greater demand for services is a lack of skilled labor and perhaps most ominous: an onslaught of ever-increasing record keeping and reporting regulations imposed by our friends in the government.  No other sector comes close to having the onus of "having to do more with less" foist upon them than health care providers do.
 
(My friends and colleagues in the Financial Services arena might balk at that somewhat, but the fact of the matter is that it's easier to put off an investment than to postpone an appendectomy "until you can afford it".)
 
The auto makers were careful not to squawk about the cost of burdensome regulations when they went crawling to the very lawmakers who set UP those regulatory hurdles.  The time to DO that had already passed.  The rest of the nation's industries and service sectors had best seize this opportunity to complain about the weight of Uncle Sam's thumb, before they too collapse beneath it.
 
If the health care industry doesn't unite NOW and demand preliminary relief from the cost of placating Washington, it is quite foreseeable that Big Doctor, Big Nurse, Big Hospital, and even Big Insurance will find themselves crawling to the capital in the not-too-distant future just like the car makers did...
 
-J. Gravelle
Gravelle is lucid when he stays on his medication.  This is unlikely to last...

Snow Blower Etiquette

by Guest Blogger:  Karen

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Jindal Declines

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova


In the past I have spoken at length about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He is an incredibly bright rising star within the party and is highly regarded as a future contender in the GOP primary.

Jindal, 37 years old, was the first Indian-American elected to a statewide office.

After being born "Piyush" and a practicing Hindu, the Governor changed his name to Bobby as a child and later converted to Catholicism.

He is a highly educated man; receiving his undergraduate at Brown University and master's at Oxford.

He shares Reaganesque principals both socially and fiscally. This man is a conservative's conservative.

At a rally in Virginia today with Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor in 2009, Jindal was asked if he would run for the presidency in 2012.

His response was sharp:

"No"

He went on to state he will run for reelection in Louisiana in 2011.

Jindal is a young man at 37. While he may change his mind in the coming years, there is no question he would serve as a formidable opponent for the left if given the vice presidential nod.

But there may be some different logic at work here for Jindal...

Seeing as our president-elect has already made statements claiming victory in 2012, Jindal may be looking further into the future.

In 2016, he will have built up a thick résumé culminating as Governor of Louisiana.

He will be 45 years old, a ripe age in presidential politics.






Planned Parenthood Stunt

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova

 Planned Parenthood of Indiana is offering the most vile, heinous, and disgusting Christmas gift this year: Gift certificates.

These certificates will range between $25-100 and are redeemable for all clinic services, including abortion.

The Indiana chapter of PP has the certificate link posted on their website and advertise it by saying "Give the gift of health".

PP argues they are not making a political statement and are "shocked" by people taking it so offensively.

I will give the last word on that to Sister Diane Carollo, director of the Office for Pro-Life Ministry for the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis:

"It's offensive because Christmas is about the celebration of human life."

Schmegulation

(You'd think that with two other people helping me row Kevin's boat this week I wouldn't resort to shortcuts like piggy-backing off somebody else's work like this, but you'd be wrong.)

Guest-Blogger:  J. Gravelle
Zookeeper at the DailyScoff.com

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Music Used During US Military Interrogations

by Guest Blogger:  Karen

Good to know...   

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Not So Ordinary Press Conference

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova

President-elect Obama held a press conference this morning to announce Tom Daschle as his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

He then went on to talk about health care initiatives and opened up the floor for questions from the press.

Obama was expecting inquiries regarding policy and health care reform; what he received was a barrage of questions regarding Governor Blagojevich.

He gave lackluster responses to a number of the reporters, particularly when he was asked if any member of his staff had contact with the corrupt Hot Rod.

He replied that he will get back to the reporter in 2-3 days so he can get "all the facts in order".

Why does it take 72 hours to answer that simple question?

The transition team is obviously getting all their ducks in a row and straightening out their respective stories.

What is worse than his response was that the reporter never followed up to ask the president-elect why he needed so much time?

There was one high point in the press conference however:

On the last question, one journalist finally had a health care policy inquiry.

At that point, ABC switched back to "The View".

Jeff Gordon, Tom Cruise & Cole Trickle

by Guest Blogger:  Karen

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Oak Creek Hesitates to Throw Away +$100,000

Sooo, I guess what I'm saying here is... "Bravo Oak Creek."

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How The Mighty Have Fallen

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova

Colin Powell's resume is powerful to say the least: A general in the United States Army, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.

He is a principled man, a strong leader, and a role model for millions of Americans.

Had this been any day before October 19, 2008 I would have stopped right here.

But since that day of Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, he has engaged in behavior that tarnishes his record.

There is no doubt that Powell holds frustration and anger at the Bush administration on the Iraq policy. He is not a puppet, and began to resent being presented as such.

Disagreement is fine. Lively debate is encouraged. But his comments in the last two months have disheartened his admirers; including myself.

In an interview set to air Sunday morning on CNN's "GPS" program, Powell claimed he was angered with the GOP for "[using] polarization for political advantage".

This statement is laughable. The media made this election about polarization, not John McCain.

McCain was opposed to using Obama's middle name due to the unfounded fear it may have conjured up.

He then went on to attack a conservative icon saying "Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?"

Powell does not believe El Rushbo to be a good spokesman for the GOP.

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country".

Shouting?

This is closet liberalism at work here. This is what the left is desperately seeking.

Suppression of our voices. Obedience to the Messiah. Cessation of American dominance in the world.

And despite all his ramblings ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Powell remains a registered Republican.

While I do not believe Powell has aligned with the extreme left wingers, his veering off course displays what is at work within the Democrat Party.

Socialists have infiltrated their party for years and are now effectively shifting large numbers of individuals towards their warped ideology.

This is a serious threat to the American way of life. But we can stop it.

Nearly all Republicans are convinced our party must revise its' strategy.

But we must go about the rebranding by adhering to conservative philosophy.

And then America will prevail. 

No "Week-Ends" but a few "Odds & Ends"

By Guest Blogger: Karen 

Just checking in to water the plants...

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She Deserves a Lump of Coal in her Stocking

By Guest Blogger:  Karen

I swear, some people have no class. 

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The Low Road

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova of The Conservative Corner

 Al Franken wrote jokes for Saturday Night Live for years. He was entertaining and performed well at his craft.

The Senate recount in Minnesota however is turning into a bad SNL sketch.

This man has lost to Senator Coleman three times now but has made it abundantly clear that he will stop at nothing to steal the Senate seat.

The more repulsive fact is that the state of Minnesota is complying with Franken's ludicrous requests.

He won two key rulings this week: The state canvassing board will now allow previously rejected absentee ballots which could exceed 1,500 and they have also decided to include 133 ballots that were "misplaced" on election day.

The Franken team even produced a six minute video entitled "Recount", presumably to sway the committee.

As it stands today, Coleman leads Franken by 192 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s official count.

I can not even begin to imagine the backlash a Republican would receive if he were engaging in this behavior.

The media and the Democrat Party would tear him to shreds. They would draw undeserved comparisons to W's 2000 victory through the courts.

Maybe Franken should move to Illinois and throw his hat in the ring there.

I wonder if that state is one of the seventeen in which he cheated on his taxes.

One Year Ago Today - My How Things Have Changed

By Guest Blogger:  Karen 

At this time one year ago it was Packer-mania.  People were rushing to the stores to get their North Division Champions t-shirt, Packer garb was everywhere.  Packer Friday's and Packer Monday's were back at schools and places of work.  Everyone was reveling in it.

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I appreciate the Three Musketeers


My three guest bloggers, J.Gravelle, The Conservative Casanova, and Karen all did a fantastic job filling in for me this past week. I appreciate their time, their quality work, and their friendship.

The day isn’t over, so it’s possible there could still be another guest blog or two today. Again, my sincere gratitude to these fine individuals.

The Barking Lot, Week-ends, Photos of the Week, Recommended Reading, and Culinary No-No all return next weekend.

My most popular blogs

Most popular


As I post every Sunday, here are the top five most popular of my blog entries from the previous week:

1) Photos of the Week (12/07/08)

2) Very exciting news about This Just In...

3) Outrage

4) Culinary no-no #90

5) Rules for Kev's fill-in bloggers


And juuuuuust missing the top five:

Move Over Gravelle

Wait, I'm Not Done Yet!

By Guest Blogger:  Karen 

Kevin, what did you do - take the earlier flight home?

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The Celebrity President

By Guest Blogger Conservative Casanova of The Conservative Corner

First I would like to thank Kevin again for this opportunity. I have very much enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you folks this week. 

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I am truly sorry, Jennifer...


But this simply couldn't wait for this Saturday's Barking Lot.

RELATED INFO

Favre: More than 40......Rodgers: 0


You’re either in complete denial or just irrational if you still think the Brett Favre trade was a good move.

Karen, who helped fill in for me last week, does a marvelous job tearing apart that bonehead deal. My friend, Dad29 in a comment on Karen's blog just couldn't resist apologizing for Aaron Rodgers one more time. Dad29 and others like him need to read today’s column in the Green Bay Press Gazette. If Rodgers blames himself, then the Favre-bashers need to point fingers at #12 as well.

The column references Rodgers’ inability to engineer a come from behind victory. That just happens to be a Favre specialty (more than 40 in his career), dating back to his very first game in green and gold.

Watch, enjoy, and remember what it used to be like.


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You call this a story??!!

In this image from APTN video, a man throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad. The man threw two shoes at Bush, one after another. Bush ducked both throws, and neither man was hit.

When an Iraqi "journalist" tosses not one, but two shoes at the President of the United States, yes, that's news.

But think about it. The elected offcial is having the shoe thrown at him. What if it were the other way around, with the elected official winding up and letting her rip?

What's that? You say that could never happen? Oh yes it could.

But I'm sure it was all just in fun and fairly misunderstood.

Diane Baranowski for Environmental Commission!

I don’t know Diane Baranowski. I have never met her. I have never engaged in any e-mail correspondence with her. Until now, I never even knew who she was.

Baranowski has my strong endorsement for a position on the Franklin Environmental Commission.

If you wanted supporting evidence for why she’d make a good candidate, all you need is this for Exhibit A. There’s no need for an Exhibit B.

This ranting, whiny, crybaby blog from a guy who quit, quit his position on the Environmental Commission because the makeup was changing and he didn’t feel it would be one big buddy’s club anymore……so much for his desire to serve the public.

Franklin blogger Bryan Maersch is right. You disagree with Greg Kowalski and he goes into orbit.

Obama and abortions: I told you so

 From Wisconsin Right To Life:


Life - Wisconsin Right To Life - News Release

OBAMA POSTS PRO-ABORTION MARCHING ORDERS ON TRANSITION WEBSITE

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not even Santa can help Fountains of Franklin this year


After months and months of my chiding for its absence, the Fountains of Franklin website is back up again. Should we assume that everything’s hunky dory? I’m not. The year will come and go without progress at 56th and Rawson.

The website links to an old BizTimes.com article, nearly nine months old that proclaims an Azana Spa will be one of those luxury tenants we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for. Construction was supposed to have begun in spring. You should have been getting your massages and facials last month.

David Hintzman, president of Equitable Development said, "We are also currently working with a 4,000-square-foot European bistro, a fine dining restaurant and a variety of specialty shops.”  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but my friend Hintzman has made more promises than our President-elect.

Believe it or not, as I have commented repeatedly being the most pro-business, pro-development blogger in Franklin, I want Fountains of Franklin to prosper. I have amended my wish that I want Fountains of Franklin to prosper…….in my lifetime.

Go to the website and read about everything that’s been approved and headed our way. Again, sorry, but I’ve heard this song and dance before. Given that it took months just to get a website up, why should we believe anything we’re fed now about actual businesses opening? I will need to see shovels in ground and bricks laid before I’m convinced. When it happens, trust me, my wife and I will be regular patrons. But until something more concrete develops, Fountains of Franklin will, for me, look and sound more like this than any elaborate site plan:

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PLAYBOY comes to FranklinNOW and This Just In...


Now that I’ve given this website’s editor Mark Maley a heart attack, let me say that this is not, repeat, it is not some blatant, pathetic attempt to sensationalize.

The brainchildren that put out Playboy magazine in Mexico are now apologizing for their issue that was put out right about the same time as the feast of
Our Lady of Guadalupe. The cover has a model who is supposed to look like the Virgin Mary. She’s nude underneath a cloth covering her head and chest.

To be honest, the scene is, in and of itself, not all that bad. You’ll see worse at the mall in summer or at Bradford Beach.

But in the intended context, it can be offensive to many who are fed up with the bashing and trashing of Catholics and Christians demonstrated in so many media outlets. The editors certainly should have known better.

To see the Playboy cover and other related articles, click here.

'T'was the night before Christmas and all through the town, not a sign of Baby Jesus...


You know, of course, how you get those mass e-mails, today, tomorrow, and next week. The same e-mail, different senders. Some are farshtunken, but others are pretty good. Here’s one I received and you’ll probably get, too, if you haven’t yet. Read before you hit the delete button.



A Christmas Poem

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Christmas Culinary no-no's


Because of my vacation travels, I was unable to post a Culinary no-no on Sunday.
So, here are some Christmas Culinary no-no’s from the This Just In vault:

How NOT to throw a holiday party

Fruitcake gets no respect


A fresh, not artificial Culinary no-no will be here this Sunday.

Please listen to the music of Christmas


Last December, I put together The Music of Christmas, 25 straight days of the carols, tunes, and songs of the most blessed holiday of all. Some of the accompanying videos are no longer available, but the stories, I feel, are still captivating.

Go to my tags section, or click here to see of my most popular blogs of all of 2007.

BOOM!


It's coming.

In just one week.

Coming to This Just In....

You don't want to miss it.

Stay tuned.




More music of Christmas - "A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight"

More music of Christmas

I so very much wanted to create a series of blogs this year as I did in 2007 highlighting Christmas music. Time this season just didn't allow me to produce the blogs in the manner I wanted to. Instead, for th next several days right up until Christmas, I will sign off my blog with a song I find special or enjoy and hope you will, too. I might even toss in a number I consider obscure that deserves more exposure and radio play.

The newest Christmas CD in the Fischer collection this year is the incredible ELVIS Christmas Duets CD. The CD features a remixed version of a rockin' Christmas classic, performed the way only the King could. I believe Elvis' version of this popular toe tapper is the best ever. Written back in 1934 and a favorite among the big bands, the song enjoys tremendous airplay today. Please enjoy the 2008 version by Elvis, then go out and buy the CD.

Go ahead. I dare you to try not to sing along. Goodnight, FranklinNOW, and Merry Christmas.



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Dan Shelley (Sykes basher) upset that talk radio beats lefties at their own game


My former colleague at WTMJ, Dan Shelley took off on one of my other former WTMJ colleagues, Charlie Sykes in a much ballyhooed Milwaukee Magazine article. (Former WTMJ News Director bares all about talk radio.........and the Charlie Sykes response.)

I knew when I worked with Shelley that he was a flaming lib, but he and I got along great. He more or less left me alone to fill, at that time, a rather unheard of role of newsman and opinion maker.
That’s why I was disappointed, to say the very least, at Shelley’s rant against his former employer and Sykes.

I prefer linking to an analysis by another friend, Dad29, who offers a rather insightful piece on why Shelley and the lefties who cheer on his talk radio attack are so ticked off at how and why conservatives have become so popular and successful on the airwaves.

Yeh, that Brett Favre...


He's washed up, alright.


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Eliminate the Franklin Environmental Commission


I’ll be brief. It’s time to simply get rid of Franklin’s Environmental Commission. Just dump the doggone thing.

Why? The Reader’s Digest answer is that it’s ineffective and unnecessary.

For more analysis, read a previous blog.

However, it seems that Franklin will continue to have some sort of entity, whether it’s an Environmental Commission, the Nuts and Berries Commission, Beads and Sandals Commission, or whatever the hell name City Hall comes up with.

If we’re going to have this group that nobody knows or cares about, then at least I’m happy to support Diane Baranowski as a member. Anyone that gets former member, the irrelevant, irresponsible Greg Kowalski all tied up in knots in a hissy fit must be pretty qualified.

This is either amazing, or flat out wrong


I haven't totally analyzed this story yet but on the surface, and knowing how quickly my gut reaction reacts to issues, I would initially say I'm fine with this.

The first face transplant is sure to be controversial.

A photo that will drive liberals nuts


Take a look at this picture:

Cold Snap

It's a photo taken on Monday by the Associated Press of Dick Claytor riding his bike through the snow while smoking a pipe in Laramie, Wyoming. Temperatures in the region plunged below zero the night before and stayed in the single digits during the day making a bike ride awfully frigid.

Yes, it's rather unusual to be riding a bike in single degree weather. And while smoking a pipe. But there's more.

Upon gazing at this shot, liberals are no doubt chanting, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

What’s the first impression nanny state lefties get when they see this? The instant outrage should be pretty obvious.  Oh my God! The old goat isn’t wearing a bike helmet!! Cycling on snow without a helmet?  Why, there oughta be a law!

I’m lookin’ for a light. Do you see one?

What about a horn or one of those buttons you press that activates a buzzer-like beep? I had one on my Raleigh when I was a kid. Can't seem to pick up this highly technological safety device on Claytor's bike.

Shouldn’t he be required to be wearing some vest with bright fluorescent stripes so that nobody hauls off and slams into him?  I don’t care what time of day it is, he needs to be wearing the proper government inspected/sanctioned clothing that will protect him from other motorists, marine /animal life, earthquakes, tornados, typhoons, and skateboarders.

License plate? Negative.

There is safety in numbers, but he’s sadly riding alone. If only he’d enroll in a government bike-pooling program.

What else is he doing? That’s right. He’s, GASP, smoking…….IN PUBLIC!  He apparently has no idea the danger he’s putting himself and countless others in by his irresponsible (but entirely legal) behavior.

He obviously hasn’t gotten the message. Despite what the monster said in “The Bride of Frankenstein,” smoke BAD. Smoke not good, Smoke BAD.

It’s pretty clear the cigarette/tobacco tax needs to be increased in Wyoming. It’s for this man’s own good.

Is that a government-approved bike trail he’s on? I don't think so.

Why isn’t the fool using public mass transit? Don’t you see? If we only had more rail systems and busses, this feeble old man wouldn’t have to ride his bike in freezing temperatures.

The lack of personal responsibility is astounding, crying out for one government program or law after another.

Can you just imagine? How many more pipe-smoking, bike-riding Dick Claytor's are out there?

Oh, the carnage!

Of course, he's old, and probably eats raw beef every New Year's Eve, and feels comfortable enough to be out there biking when it's 5 degrees. Doesn't matter. He obviously can't take care of himself. Government has to do it for him.
 

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If you really love her, you'd get her this for Christmas


I thank God every day I have a wonderful wife.

For all you single women, I have nothing but the utmost sympathy. I’ve maintained a theory about men for decades. It goes like this.

Most men stink. They’re no good. Bums. Simply take, at random, any 10 guys walking down the street or in a mall, any 10 you wish. Odds are 7-8 of them are no damn good.

That makes it oh so tough for the 2-3 out of every 10 who are quite nice, like me, the perfect gentleman.

Imagine that 20-30%, at a bar or lounge, attempting to engage in friendly chit chat with a woman of the opposite sex (Yes, that was a feeble attempt at humor). He could be the catch of the century. He’s out of luck. The woman he’s trying to impress, or least talk with, has been burned so often that she subscribes to the same theory as the all-knowing Kevin Fischer, assuminmg that  this guy is just another Neanderthal who walks on his knuckles, and it’s get lost chump.

Actually, this is quite serious. Most men truly are no good that I wouldn’t trust with anyone’s daughter. There are far more good women than good men today, period.

Earlier this year, I acknowledged that because the planet is overrun with male creeps, more women should, and are, arming themselves.

Granted, a gun might be too much for many a female. So instead of putting an S and W in their Coach bag, how about a touching, warm Christmas present that shows how much you really care: Jiu-Jitsu lessons.

One of my favorite columnists, Doug Giles endorses the idea. I have no problem at all with women becoming more confident in their ability to clobber a would-be attacker. It beats being raped or sent to the morgue.

More music of Christmas-"Christmastime is Here"

More music of Christmas


Earlier tonight, ABC broadcast one of the greatest Christmas TV classics, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


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A devasting economic forecast


If you think we’ve hit rock bottom in our economic plunge and are finally ready to emerge from the deepest depths, guess again. CBs’ “60 Minutes” reports the mortgage crisis isn’t over. Like a December snowstorm in Wisconsin, another wave of mortgage defaults is on the way, meaning worse economic times, and a longer trip back to recovery.

If you missed the “60 Minutes“ report Sunday night, watch.

Sex offenders can never be trusted


They can always pose a risk, always be considered dangerous. They must be closely watched. Communities must know where they are. They simply can't be trusted.

Here's a classic example.

Care to comment? If you're one of the several anonymous sex offender sympathizers that like to wring out your crying towels whenever I blog on this subject, new rules for you. You certainly may comment, but not anonymously. Please leave your full name and the community or state where you live. Your pro-pervert comment will then be posted.

More great ideas from Madison Democrats


Here are some bills being proposed by the Democrat-controlled state Assembly. The analysis of each bill by the Legislative Reference Bureau is provided.

The first bill relates to requirements for ordering maintenance (emphasis mine).

Under current law, in an annulment, divorce, or legal separation, the court may order one party to pay maintenance (formerly known as alimony) to the other party. The statutes set out factors that a court must consider in ordering maintenance, such as the length of the marriage, the educational level of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the commencement of the action, the age and physical and emotional health of each party, and the contribution that a party has made to the increased earning power of the other party. The amount of maintenance and the length of time that it must be paid are in the court’s discretion.

This bill provides, as an overall guiding principle, that maintenance is a rehabilitative measure to enable the party for whom it is ordered to acquire the education or skills to become self-supporting and sets out more specific standards for courts to use in ordering maintenance. Under the bill, a court may not order maintenance unless the parties have been married for at least 15 years, which eliminates the availability of maintenance in most annulment actions, and the party seeking maintenance shows either: 1) that because of the marriage he or she lacks sufficient resources to provide for his or her minimal, reasonable needs; or 2) that employment is difficult for the party to obtain or maintain because of a physical or mental disability that was incurred during the marriage.

The bill, for the most part, retains the factors under current law for the court to consider when ordering maintenance, but eliminates some of the factors under current law, such as the tax consequences to each party and any mutual agreements made before or during marriage concerning any arrangement for the financial support of the parties. The bill adds as factors to consider all financial resources of the party seeking maintenance in addition to the property division, the contributions and sacrifices of each of the parties during the marriage, and the efforts of the party seeking maintenance to obtain suitable employment before and during the pendency of the action. The bill provides that, regardless of the court’s findings after considering the other factors, the court may deny maintenance if the party seeking maintenance engaged in extramarital activities during the marriage or has not made reasonable efforts to obtain employment or develop skills to become self-supporting.

The bill limits the length of maintenance to the shortest time necessary for the payee to become employed at a level that provides for minimal, reasonable needs, but not more than three years, with two exceptions. If the payee contributed to the education of the payer, maintenance may continue until it equals the amount that the payee contributed; if the payee became disabled during the marriage, maintenance may continue for the shorter of: 1) as long as the disability continues but not past the age at which a person the same age as the payee would be eligible for unreduced social security benefits; or 2) until the payee receives or is eligible to receive disability payments or other benefits on account of the disability. The bill limits the amount of maintenance to the amount necessary to meet minimal, reasonable needs, but not more than 20 percent of the payer’s monthly income, based on a 40−hour work week or the payer’s base pay.

Under current law, the court is required to terminate maintenance, upon application by the payer, if the payee remarries. The bill adds that the court must also terminate maintenance, upon application by the payer, if the payee cohabits with another adult person of the opposite sex.


The second bill relates to domestic abuse identification training. (emphasis mine).

This bill requires the Barbering and Cosmetology Examining Board to require all licensed cosmetologists, barbers, aestheticians, electrologists, and manicurists (licensees) to attend a course in recognizing victims of domestic abuse or violence and referring the victims to appropriate agencies for assistance. The bill requires the board to design a course, determine how often the licensees must attend, and design a training program that would allow licensees who have attended the course to train others.

Who pays for this mandated course? What if the workers, for whatever reason, feel uncomfortable about taking the course or simply don’t want to?

This is just the beginning. The wacky ideas will just keep coming and coming. That’s what happens when the Democrats are in control.

More Music of Christmas- 40 years later and still swingin'

More music of Christmas


In 1968, Tony Bennett recorded a Christmas album entitled, “Snowfall.”  Other than some recordings for a special Hallmark CD a few years ago, Bennett hasn’t recorded a Christmas album in 40 years. This Christmas season, Bennett has released, “A Swingin’ Christmas” that also features the Count Basie Big Band.

According to Bennett’s website, “’Tony Bennett: A Swingin' Christmas was recorded live on the stage of Bergen Pac in Englewood, NJ, keeping with Bennett's mandate to embrace the live aspect of performing in the recording process. The Count Basie Orchestra joined Bennett for the sessions and jazz pianist Monty Alexander took on the role of Count Basie at piano.”

Tony Bennett is one of the few, if only crooners left from a golden age of great male vocalists.Over 80, he still can belt it out a great song. Here's Bennett singing from his new CD on the Today Show:


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Rod Blagojevich = D = MSM ZZZZZZZZZZZ


Rod Blagojevich doesn’t have an “R” after his name. Therefore, he gets special treatment from the mainstream media (MSM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party.

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center puts it in the proper perspective:

“In a Republican scandal, the offending politician is usually described as a Republican in the very first sentence, and deservedly so. In a Democrat scandal, the party identification of the perpetrator can arrive in paragraph eight. Or not at all.

Then, reporters declared that a Blagojevich resignation or impeachment could arrive any day, and suggested the story could soon be finished. (When Republicans are in the crosshairs, reporters announce ‘this story isn’t going away any time soon.’)”

And just when is the Illinois governor going to resign? You can bet a Republican in this very position would have left office a long time ago.

Read Bozell’s entire column.

Guys, you fell for this last December...


Don't let it happen again this year!

And we choose to live here...


Why?

Oh, why?

A Milwaukee legend is dead

Milwaukee polka king Louie Bashell died Wednesday after a long illness.

In January of 2007, Rick Romell of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote:

"If you're younger than, say, 50, you probably don't know it, but in Wisconsin, Louie Bashell and 'Concertina Millie' Kaminski are polka royalty, which is why they're here.

Not here literally _ although on a recent afternoon that's true _ but here figuratively and permanently, enshrined at the Chandelier Ballroom in the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame.

For 75 years, until he was pushing 90, Louie worked spots like the Chandelier, cut records and generally tore up the Slovenian-style polka world. In his Hall of Fame photo, he's rearing back with his Lo Duca accordion, a shock of thick white hair topping his head and a fierce grin on his face.

Millie still plays. For that matter, she still cuts her own lawn. She started in music at age 12 and, while she's coy about her age _ 'What you don't know won't hurt you,' she says _ the fact is she's within a few laps of Louie. She's played on TV and radio, in many taverns and at lots of weddings. Lately, she's been playing funerals.

In her Hall of Fame photo, Millie rests her chin on crossed hands, cradling her concertina like it was a favorite pet. She's pleased to be here, but has an interesting way of keeping the honor in perspective.

'When you're dead,' she says, 'at least there's still a picture of you up there. If your relatives got your pictures, I think they kind of throw `em away.'

Thanks to the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame, that won't happen to her and Louie. Now they belong to the ages."



A February 1996 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reported:

"There was more than enough 'those were the days' nostalgia to go around.

More than 70 polka addicts dropped into the Cedarburg Cultural Center Saturday night to hear the Louis Bashell Orchestra play. Bashell, 'the Polka King of Milwaukee,' fondly recalled days long gone.

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I'll ask the question again


Walk into the Franklin Public Library, straight ahead, through the front doors, there it is, a large Christmas tree.

Inside Franklin City Hall, there is no large Christmas tree. Outside? Nope.

Inside the City Clerk's Office, there on the reception desk, there's one of those minature jobs, about a foot tall. If there's a larger tree somewhere else in the building, I'm unaware.

A tree is one thing. How about a creche? My, wouldn't that be.....authentic. Try appropriate.

And so I ask, as I did in a blog last December, should Franklin City Hall display a Nativity scene?

I say .......

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YES.
 

It’s too late for this year, but I would wholeheartedly support setting up a Nativity scene inside or outside Franklin City Hall next year.

Numerous city halls around the country or city owned property have Nativity displays. 

By the way…..if you were even slightly upset or a bit uneasy reading this blog, then, I'm sorry, but you just don’t get it and never will.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday night on InterCHANGE?????

 
As many of you know, Channel 10’s InterCHANGE is taped in the studios of MATC. If the weather conditions force the closing of MATC, there will be no InterCHANGE Friday night at 6:30, Sunday morning at 11:00. If there is a show, here are the topics we’ll discuss:


1 – FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR KILLING HER BABY.


An emotionally troubled woman gets five years in prison for drowning her baby.  Is five years enough for murdering a baby?  What kind of message does that send?  Will the woman who recently murdered her foster child here also get 5 years?  Does the court system forgive you if you are “emotionally troubled” or “mentally ill” or if you had a “tough and abusive background.”  Or, does the court system (rightfully so?) not hold mentally ill people responsible for their criminal actions?


2 – CAROLINE KENNEDY.


Is Caroline Kennedy qualified for the position of United States Senator?  Or, is it just because some people want Camelot to continue?  Is she any more qualified for a big time position than Sarah Palin was?


3 – S.N.L.


Saturday Night Live made fun of the blind New York Governor.Was it funny?  Did it cross the line?  Is it funny to make fun of someone with a disability?  Do different rules apply because it is Saturday Night Live?  Because he is a politician?  Or, was SNL just being irreverent like it always has been?


4- 2009.


Any predictions for big things that might happen locally, statewide, or nationally in the coming year?  Any major things that you’d like to see happen? 

The questions of the evening....


1) How freaked out are people?  Are they in full panic mode?

2) Nothing’s happened yet, but I think it’s fair to ask if the weather people have once again over-hyped their forecasts.

A photographer's labor of love for City Hall


My many years of work in radio news took me often to cover stories at Milwaukee's City Hall, an incredible work of architecture. A special ceremony was held tonight to honor its restoration.

Paula Haberman, a photography buff, on her own, at no cost, took a few hundred photos of the reconstruction of City Hall and individual photos of all the workers involved in the historic rebuilding.  A representative of the Mayor's office recently acknowledged her time-consuming effort.  She was allowed to traverse the exterior scaffold elevator to record the interior of the upper limits of the building. She works at a nearby office building and viewing the massive undertaking spurred this undertaking that took several months.

You can see her incredible photos by clicking here, then clicking on Milwaukee City Hall over to the right.

More Music of Christmas-Hawaiian style

More music of Christmas


My wife and I just spent our babymoon in the 50th state. Right along with the tropical breezes and warm temperatures were plenty of seasonal decorations and lots of holiday music. This could be construed as audio and/or video torture, but given our climate as of late, I thought it would actually be nice to share some tunes Jennifer and I saw performed in Hawaii. 

Bing Crosby recorded 6 Christmas songs with the Andrews Sisters for Decca Records. Here's the well-known 1950 tune, "Mele Kalikimaka." (If this becomes too painful and you must turn away, I think I understand).



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If you're still up...


This is the very latest weather information. (as of midnight)

UPDATE


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Be on GAARD!


It's coming.

In just a few more days to This Just In...

Let's ask a liberal bunch: Who did the most smearing in state races this November?


The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) based out of Madison bills itself as a nonpartisan political watchdog group.  Even a novice observer of state politics knows the WDC is anything but nonpartisan. Its pet issue is campaign finance reform, not exactly a conservative priority.

The WDC does a good job of keeping track of campaign contributions, election spending, etc. The group just released its report on what groups spent the most on political ads for state legislative races the last election cycle. Both sides of the political spectrum spend money trying to get their candidates elected.

The WDC, not me, uses the term, “smear” groups who doled out a lot of money on “smear” ads. So who smeared the most? Who spent the most on smear ads according to the left-leaning WDC?

Take a look.

The Beatles and Christmas


Just about anybody and everybody has recorded Christmas music. Great singers, lousy singers, symphony orchestras, barking dogs, you name it, they’ve done a Christmas album.

Care to buy it? It’s probably here. Over 34,000 possibilities.

Now, I love Elvis. That’s no secret to my regular readers. I also love the Beatles almost, but not quite as much as the King.

Shall we check the above-mentioned link for the Beatles Christmas album? Don’t bother.

Save yourself the journey through 34,000 Christmas CD’s. The Beatles never recorded a Christmas album. They did record special Christmas messages for members of their fan club members. Recordings of Jingle Bells and Let it Snow? Forget it.The Beatles literally gave messages to their fans rather than record Liverpool versions of holiday tunes.

One of the best nationally syndicated programs on radio about the Beatles is Beatle Brunch, heard every Saturday morning in these parts at 8:00 on WRIT-FM. This week, Beatle Brunch will feature all the Beatles special Christmas recordings they manufactured for their fan clubs.

Problem. WRIT is doing all-Christmas music, all the time. No Beatle Brunch this Saturday.

No problem. Here is the listing of stations nationwide that broadcast Beatle Brunch. Many stations broadcast online and you can hear an entire hour dedicated to these special, rare Beatles recordings. This is a must for Beatles fans.

Enjoy and Happy Crimble!

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of those fan club records:



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Franklin garbage pick-up


At 10:30 this morning, Veolia pulled all their trucks off Franklin streets and suspended pickup of trash and recycling.  Veolia will finish their routes Saturday morning.

You are advised to pick up any debris that may have blown out of recycling bins.

And remember, if a fire hydrant is on your property, please dig it out.

No InterCHANGE tonight


For those of you who watch the program, because MATC was closed today due to the storm, and MATC is where the Channel 10 studios are, there will be no taping of the show today. So, no program tonight or Sunday morning. The next InterCHANGE is scheduled for Friday, January 9, 2009.

Making selections for Week-ends not that simple


RECENTLY, THE “THIS JUST IN… WEEK-ENDS ADVISORY COMMISSION” HELD A SPECIAL EMERGENCY SESSION TO DISCUSS A POTENTIAL ITEM TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS SATURDAY’S WEEK-ENDS BLOG. HERE IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF THAT MEETING. NAMES OF THE VOLUNTEER COMMISSIONERS HAVE BEEN WITHHELD FOR THEIR PROTECTION.


KEVIN: OK, let’s get started. We all know why we’re here.

COMMISSIONER: What, no donuts?

COMMISSIONER: Yeh, what the hell kinda meeting is this?

KEVIN: Order, please! We want to get right down to business. I’ve got a VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY meeting to get to after this. Alright, there is only one item on the agenda, but it’s very important. Any discussion?

COMMISSIONER:  Sure. I think we better make sure we know what we’re doing. This has never been done on Week-ends ever that I can recall.

COMMISSIONER: Never.

COMMISSIONER: So, what are you saying? It shouldn’t happen?

COMMISSIONER: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m just suggesting we need to be extremely confident in this selection.

KEVIN: People, people. We don’t have much time. I don’t have to remind you this is a weekly blog and we must reach a decision, yes or no, right now.

COMMISSIONER: Is it appropriate? Does this selection truly fit the category in question?

COMMISSIONER: Those are legitimate questions. I say while it comes close, it might fall just a bit short.

COMMISSIONER: Wait a minute, we’ve had borderline calls in the past. After all, it is isn’t easy putting this baby to bed every week, what with everything going on all over the place. It’s virtually impossible to include everything and everybody. Something or someone’s bound to get overlooked.

COMMISSIONER: That’s why I think this selection is on the money. It gets the benefit of the doubt, especially if you say it’s real close.

COMMISSIONER: It’s not close. It’s an obvious choice. Makes sense. Fits the category. Personally, I think when people read it, they’re going to love it and have no problem with it. No one’s going to say, “Why the hell did Fischer put that in there?”

COMMISSIONER: What about any downside?
 KEVIN: Good point, Commissioner XXX. What about it, everyone? Any downside you can see?

SILENT PAUSE

COMMISSIONER: By golly, I can’t think of any negatives.

KEVIN: No repercussions, nasty e-mails, calls for my head…

COMMISSIONER: No, no, no, not even close.

COMMISSIONER: You know, the more I consider this, the more I think it’s a terrific idea.

KEVIN: I’m thinking there might be a few who don’t see it that way.

COMMISSIONER: Kev, don’t start that junk. There’s always going to be….you know….the naysayers…..the ones who don’t like what you say.

COMMISSIONER: Yep! No good right winger!

COMMISSIONERS: (LAUGHTER!)

KEVIN: Soooo self-serving!

COMMISSIONER: (MORE LAUGHTER!)

COMMISSIONER: Don't forget nasty and rude!

COMMISSIONER: Yeh, cruel and mean, mean and cruel!

COMMISISONERS:  (EVEN MORE LAUGHTER!)

KEVIN: (POUNDS GAVEL) Alright, let’s not get unruly here. I get your point. No, you’re not going to please everyone. But I firmly believe this selection for this category is so deserving that even my harshest critics, even those hateful lefty nutjobs won’t be able to find any of their sophomoric stupidity to say about it. Unless I hear a compelling argument otherwise, it’s going in the blog Saturday. Any objections?

COMMISSIONER: I guess there’s a first time and this is as good a time as any.

KEVIN: Then it’s settled. It’s in. Any other business?

COMMISSIONER: Oh, yeh, about donuts for the next meeting…

KEVIN: We are adjourned! (GAVEL)


* NOTE: After a week off, special features, "Week-ends" and "The Barking Lot" return to This Just in Saturday morning

I wonder

Lots of schools are closed today. Can't expect those youngin's to make it to class now, can we?

But, how many are in the malls? How many managed to get to a movie theater? Local indoor waterpark?

Is it ok to come out now?


Nope.

More music of Christmas- "I am a fine musician"

More music of Christmas


When you talk Christmas classics, there are those chestnuts, the Christmas songs that have lasted decades, generations.

Christmas classics on TV usually involve animated specials like Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.

What about TV shows that weren’t cartoons?

How about the All in the Family episode, “The Draft Dodger,” when Christmas dinner at the Bunkers finds Archie playing host to a draft dodger and a father whose son was killed in the war. A back and forth conversation between the Gold Star father and the draft dodger leaves Archie stunned and speechless.

As good as that was, I think the best Christmas TV classic that wasn’t animated or a variety special was the Happy Days episode, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas?”

From tv.com:

“At Arnold's, Fonzie comes and brings everyone presents.  Potsie tries to invite Fonzie over for a Christmas turkey dinner, but Fonzie says he's planning a trip to visit family in Waukesha.

Howard and his employees have a party at Cunningham Hardware. Howard and Richie have car problems. Fonzie fixes their car and turns down their invitation to drive him to Waukesha. As Richie goes back to the garage to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench), he sees Fonzie sitting alone eating a sandwich and ravioli out of a can.

Howard and Chuck decorate the tree, and Richie mopes around thinking about Fonzie. Richie and Howard go over to Fonzie's apartment and try to convince him to come over to the house to fix the Santa. Fonzie is able to fix the Santa and the Christmas tree lights which were not working.

At this point, Fonzie has ‘missed his bus,’ so he stays and pops some popcorn in the fireplace and reads The Night Before Christmas. Richie takes a picture of Howard with Chuck, and Joanie and Fonzie look at a Viewmaster. The family sits down to eat, and Fonzie says grace.”

Then there’s the Dick Van *** Show from December of 1963, “The Alan Brady Show Presents.” From answers.com:

“This half-hour musical comedy-revue is staged as the Christmas episode of ‘The Alan Brady Show’ (though clearly played by Carl Reiner, we still don't see Alan's face, since he is hidden behind a Santa beard). The program is a showcase for Brady staffers Rob Petrie (Dick Van ***), Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam), Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), and Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon) as well as Rob's wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and son Ritchie (Larry Mathews) “

This might be the best Christmas episode of classic television.

The Dick Van *** Show cast


Here's that famous episode in segments. Let's take it from the top, shall we!


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The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot


THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.

TODAY:  Windy, cloudy, cold with afternoon snow showers. "F"

SUNDAY:  Windy and colder, snow showers. "F"


A few weeks ago, Remy and I had a delightful day.  We spent a good part of it window shopping at Bayshore Town Center but did make several purchases as well.  Williams Sonoma was a must for their pumpkin bread mix.  To clean our paws and hands before making it we needed more antibacterial soap from Bath & Bodyworks.  Of course there was a stop at the Coach store to see if any new collar styles had arrived for the holidays.  We finished at Trader Joes for some locally made biscuits (a kind for Remy and a kind for me.)  By then we were famished so a late lunch at Bar Louie rounded out the shopping excursion. 

Remy was the perfect companion the entire day.  She didn’t tire, drank nicely from her collapsible bowl, and didn’t relieve herself in any place that was inappropriate.  People stopped to pet her on several occasions, and she received many compliments about her outstanding behavior and personality.  We went home pleasantly pooped and spent the evening making our pumpkin bread.

If the two paragraphs above were made into a skit for viewing, it would start & end in that wavy pattern and have harp music to signify I was dreaming.  Of course I don’t own a dog named Remy (though I will some day) and the Bayshore Town Center’s pet policy is “No pets - Only animals in the company of, and trained to assist physically challenged persons are permitted on Bayshore property.”  (Will that policy change some day?)

I think it’s a safe assumption that the majority of people who read The Barking Lot are true dog lovers like I am.  But how do you feel about sharing your shopping space with four-legged friends who are NOT service dogs, just ordinary house pets whose owners can’t bear to leave them behind while they spend a day shopping?

What if it is not an outdoor town center-style shopping center, but an average enclosed mall like Mayfair?  Or why does it even have to be a mall?  Maybe you’ve made a quick run to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a new coffee maker.  As you are deciding between the Cuisinart and the Krups, you are wondering why your asthma is quickly acting up.  You fidget for your inhaler in your purse, and look down to see a fuzzy face staring up at you, tail wagging a happy hello.  How about if you’re trying to place an order for filet mignon at the Sendik’s meat counter and Fido next to you “can’t hold it” any more?  Suddenly your appetite is gone and it brings new meaning to an overhead speaker announcement of “Clean up in Aisle Four!”

According to the LA Times, more stores are becoming dog-friendly.  (At least in California.  I haven’t seen that trend here with the exception of stores that cater TO dogs such as Greendale’s locally owned PawPrints Across Your Heart.)

Of course I don’t have to tell you that I am a dog lover, a supporter of all things canine.  But I’m not sure I’m too keen on carte blanche entrance to dogs in all shopping venues.  (Then again as the stress of Christmas shopping gets to me, I believe I would rather be shoulder-to-shoulder with mutts than with crabby shoppers or “sales associates” who would literally have to look up the definition of customer service in a dictionary before they could actually offer it.)

After asking permission of the owner, I will pet any dog I meet.  However, I understand there are many people out there who don’t feel the same urge to do so.  Some people are downright afraid of dogs, from a Teacup Yorkie to a St. Bernard.  Some people have terrible allergic reactions, including asthma attacks, when they come in contact with dogs.  And there is the obvious fact that dogs can’t make a bee-line for the nearest rest room when nature calls.  As well-trained as they may be, even the best dog can’t help an occasional accident.

So, while I continue to enjoy going to pet-friendly PET stores, I’m going to say “paws down” to the idea of making all stores accommodate our four-legged friends.  (Kevin, this might be a CANINE version of your famed Sunday “No No” blog.)

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He put Milwaukee Public Television on the map


Longtime Milwaukee Public Television manager Otto Schlaak has died.

The first time I met Schlaak was back in the late 70's when I started hosting one of his creations: The Great TV Auction. Schlaak was a great manager and a super guy. Read his obituary with some fitting tributes from current MPTV manager Ellis Bromberg.

Week-ends

Week-ends


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week.
Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


HEROES OF THE WEEK


Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City


Tristin and Breyden Sweeney


Kyle Davies of the Kansas City Royals


Franklin blogger Bryan Maersch. If you've noticed, FranklinNOW and other CommuinityNOW websites are now posting the honor rolls of community schools online. Bryan proposed this idea to NOW management last year. Wisely, they finally listened. And if you look closely at the Franklin list, I think you'll see why Bryan is smiling so much as of late. Congratulations to Bryan and all those sharp kids. This also marks the first time a Franklin blogger has made HEROES OF THE WEEK on Week-ends.



VILLAINS OF THE WEEK


Mother Nature


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich


88 new fees and a host of tax increases??? New York's governor


Thomas Hutchins


Keele Maynor


PTA mom



QUOTES OF THE WEEK


Look, everybody likes to be popular. What do you expect? We've got a major economic problem and I'm the president during the major economic problem. I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don't approve of the economy. ... I've been a wartime president. I've dealt with two economic recessions now. I've had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy."
President Bush in an interview with Fox News.


"I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath. I'm dying to answer these charges. I'm not going to quit my job. I'm not going to do what my accusers and political enemies have done and that is talk about this case in 30 second sound bites. I am dying to show you how innocent I am. I intend to answer every allegation that comes my way."
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), publicly addressing for the first time corruption charges filed against him.


"There is no excuse for my actions and I accept full responsibility. This is not typical behavior for me, but unfortunately I drank too much and exercised very poor judgment"
State Representative Jeff Wood  (I-Bloomer), in a statement on his arrest in Columbia County. Wood, who according to the police report had a damaged car and had pulled off to the side of westbound I-94, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 and was found with two bags of marijuana and a pipe.


"You're going to reach a point where I could pretty much tell state employees not to come to work for six months and that still wouldn't deal with the size of the deficit that we're dealing with."
Governor Jim Doyle on the potential of cutting state agencies in order to resolve the budget deficit. Doyle said he expects to introduce his budget in mid-February, but it could be pushed back a few weeks if the federal government stalls in providing help for state governments.


"For decades cities have suffered government cutbacks that have pressured decisions that have under-funded cities’ long-term infrastructure and maintenance needs. Funding these projects will begin to reverse that trend."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett requesting aid to Milwaukee as part of a federal stimulus package.


"In my neck of the woods, I've got a lot of guys in the paper industry out of work, and they just don't have any confidence that we're working to help them. You can't forget about the rest of the state."
State Representative Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), on utilizing stimulus money outside Milwaukee.


"If we want to compete to be the majority party in this country again, we have to expand our appeal beyond the angry white male."
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), about the GOP.


“I’m expecting us to make the playoffs, as I hope the rest of our team is. It very well could be my last (year). It could be my last three games or last four games, I don’t know. I think that every player, you’re always an injury away. I have no idea, as most players don’t, what direction a team would want to go in. This is 18 years. Sixteen have been nonstop. It’s been a pretty good run, but it’s not over yet.”
NY Jets QB Brett Favre about his future.



OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK


Woman drowns her baby, gets only 5 years in prison.


With economy struggling, Congress gets a pay raise.



MOST UNDER-REPORTED STORY OF THE WEEK


Ever notice when some study comes out about impoverished, struggling families, it always gets media coverage, front and center? How about a study that says kids that are raised at home by both of their biological parents who regularly attend religious services have far fewer problems at home and school? Gee, we certainly wouldn't want that news to get out...


And Baby, it would really be cold outside if not for us, thousands of years ago.



MOST OVER-HYPED STORY OF THE WEEK


The impending end of civilization, or, this week's snowstorms. This time, the weatherpeople didn't over-dramatize, but they never passed up a chance to tell us: a) The snow is coming and b) The snow is falling.



STRANGEST, MOST UNUSUAL STORY OF THE WEEK


Have it your way with some beef body spray.


You threw a shoe at President Bush? Take my daughter, please!


Santa's reindeer: male or female?



REMEMBER: Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me.

Brett Favre is "good," not "great"


My friend, blogger Dad29 and I have engaged in some cordial sparring about the entire Brett Favre situation. In one of his recent posts, Dad29 wrote, “Some local bloggers have an altar and shrine built for Brett.” I’m pretty sure that was a reference to yours truly and Karen, one of my guest bloggers.

It’s hyperbole, but that’s not as bad as the rather silly (I could use stronger language but Dad29 is a friend) theme of his blog entry that Brett Favre isn’t a great player because he doesn’t play defense. Dad29 used the death this week of legendary QB Sammy Baugh to try to justify his, AHEM, goofy analysis. Baugh, you see, played offense, defense, and even punted.

Dad29’s bottom line: “Real ‘greats’ play 60 minutes.”

So, to use Dad29’s fractured logic, these guys aren’t "great."  They’re just “good.” Taking that thought a bit further, most of these guys aren’t "great." They’re just “good.”

The fact is that other than a few examples in recent years, because of the specialty nature of pro football, no one’s played both ways regularly for decades.

I submit that if Sammy Baugh were alive today, he’d tell you, a la Bart Starr, that he wasn’t as good as Favre.

Brett Favre is good, not great?  Absurd.


Is it a "storm" or an "event?"


Massive amounts of snow and icy cold temperatures are frustrating. The seemingly never-ending blizzard of Apocalypse bulletins from local media outlets, especially television can be almost as annoying.

A friend of mine is upset that one popular weatherman has been referring to our more frequent winter storms as “snow events.” His point that calling a dumping of a foot of precipitation an “event” trivializes the storm is well taken.

A Broadway play is an “event.” A Packer game is an “event.”  A snowfall that results in schools and business closing, trucks and cars in ditches, and people keeling over with heart attacks is not an “event.” Today’s TV meteorologists don’t need their millions of dollars worth of state of the art equipment to inform them that it’s a storm.

Is a car accident or plane crash an “event?” How about a hurricane, tornado, or flood? Should an impending snowstorm listed on community calendars as one of this weekend’s “events?”

Storms are risky and dangerous and pose many hazards. They are not “events.”

STORM UPDATE

Congratulations to Franklin businesses


Franklin businesses are in the running for honors to be presented next month at the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner.

It's an impressive list. Good luck to all!

Recommended reading

Recommended reading


Here are, in my view, interesting, noteworthy columns and articles from the past week that I highly recommend:

Person of the Year
"Well, there's not much drama this time around because of Barack Obama's amazing achievement. But there are other folks who have influenced us greatly, as well. Please consider the following list:"


Should Christians honor Barack Obama?
"Christians, who take the scriptures seriously, are about as happy about an Obama presidency as a pig is a bacon sandwich.....What concerns Christians who are governed by the scriptures, and not Oprah, are Obama’s liberal-to-the-core stances on abortion, marriage, socialism, freedom of speech, big government, taxes, guns and his associations with Marxist radicals. That’s what freaks believers who actually believe, and not, I say, not the levels of melanin in Obama’s epidermis."


The good Obama could do
"Imagine him lecturing young people about the need to get married before having babies."


Cinderella vs. The Barracuda
"For people who think there’s no cultural divide in this country, consider the treatment of two women much in the news in 2008."


Most of our military come from red states
"And tellingly, the map of military service since 1973 aligns closely with electoral maps distinguishing red from blue states."


10 problems with governors in DC with tin cups
"1. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS BROKE."


Public employees, please step up
"The perception is that government employees come to taxpayers every year with their hands out. And every year, they go away with raises -- and better health care benefits and more job security than anyone in the private sector has."


Felons for thee, not for me
"In Wisconsin, an employee cannot be fired, prevented from being hired, or otherwise have any action taken against them because of arrest or conviction record.  So if Rod Blagojevich was working the drive-thru at Popeye’s Fried Chicken and charged with a felony, his coworkers would be stuck listening to his foul-mouthed tirades about f’ing biscuits and gravy in perpetuity."


Wisconsin never enforced 1998 child support law
"Wisconsin Medicaid officials have never enforced a 1998 law requiring them to kick out health care providers behind on their child support payments, a recent report found."


Christmas symbols deserve more than athiest insults
"
The most explosive proposal arrived from Topeka, Kansas, courtesy of the militant Westboro Baptist Church, demanding a large sign with a poem proclaiming that 'Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell' and condemning the Jolly Old Elf as the source of the nation's moral and economic breakdown."


Why Christmas matters
"So far, only Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington State have caved in to the atheists, but it is just a matter of time before the nonbelievers come to a State House near you.The problem with the atheistic displays in Washington and Wisconsin is that the message is hateful, an attack on religion rather than a positive message."


Why atheism is morally bankrupt
"If there is no God, there is no freedom to choose. If there is no freedom to choose, there is no good or evil. There is merely action and inaction. There is no way to be good for goodness sake -- that would require an act of voluntary will far beyond human capacity. Atheists simply gloss over this point."


Tis the season for porn
"I will be called names for writing this column. It always happens. Raise the issue of the pornification of the culture and its fanatical devotees will come gunning for you."


Return the impact fees


Franklin
blogger Fred Keller has written that the city of Franklin should return collected impact fees to the taxpayers instead of pursuing a community center.

Franklin blogger Bryan Maersch has written in agreement.

It’s the taxpayers’ money. It belongs to them. I concur with Fred and Bryan. But knowing how government responds whenever they get their hands on a pot of cash, it will be spent foolishly.


More evidence Packer coach Mike McCarthy is a schlub


From the Wisconsin State Journal:

"By no means do I think we're where we are today because of what has left here — not at all. That's no disrespect to Brett Favre or (veteran long-snapper) Rob Davis (who retired after the season and is now the player programs director)," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Those are two veteran guys who had a ton of NFL experience and brought a ton to the locker room. (But) I don't feel leadership is missing from Brett leaving here."

TSA grinches


TSA workers reportedly are trying to change their image. Based on what I saw on my recent trip, they're not doing a real good job and they don't care.

An episode on the Travel Channel today reported the TSA will confiscate those charming, HARMLESS  Disney World and Disneyland snowglobes.

It's true.

More music of Christmas- "The Christmas Lounge"

More music of Christmas

In my "More music of Christmas" series, I've been trying to highlight holiday tunes you don't hear enough of, but should, especially with radio stations playing Chrsitmas music 24/7 since, it seems, Labor Day. Since it's a Saturday night, I thought I'd try to create a lounge-like atmosphere. The corresponding videos may not be anything to write home about, but the music, the music is the attraction with selections that take you back to a different time and lifestyle. So keep the tree lit, dim everything else, grab a Tom and Jerry or hot cocoa, relax, enjoy.

We begin with a married duo that were everywhere on TV in the 60's and 70's. Man, can they sing....Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

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On the 1st day of his special blog, Kevin Fischer gave to me...


?????????

That's all I can NAME for now.

Stay tuned.

I've seen Sarah Pailn and this guy is no Sarah Palin


Remember this from a previous "Photos of the Week?"

Palin in paint

Bruce Elliott, whose wife owns the Old Town Ale House in Chicago, painted this nude portrait of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. He said his daughter, who does a good impression of the Alaska governor, served as model. (Kuni Takahashi, Chicago Tribune / September 29, 2008)

Here's the corresponding story.

Well, Bruce Elliott, opportunist, is at it again. He's working on a sequel. Can you guess, given Elliott's place of residence, who could possibly be adorning his next painting?

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Nude painting sequel

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It appears Franklin (or wherever you're tuning in from), hasn't gone to sleep just yet...


AND THANKS FOR STAYING UP LATE TO READ THIS JUST IN...


So here's a question to ponder as the snow flies...

We all know what a hard job the people who run those snow plows have, and for the most part, they do a tremendous job. Last winter here in Franklin, they started off slow, but then performed magnificently the rest of the season (Some blogger had to raise this subject first. It might as well have been yours truly).

Here's the question, and again, I'm just askin'.

With that new snow falling, how are those plows going to manage that ice that's two inches thick on my neighborhood streets and probably elsewhere throughout the city? My street's an absolute skating rink. Again, no offense guys, but that's reality, and you're going to have to deal with it overnight and Sunday when the temperature drops like a tennis ball off a card table.

Just a question based on an observation.

Today, where does the nation have its sights?


Washington D.C.?

New York?

Los Angeles?

Nope.

Try Detroit, and It has nothing to do with cars.

My most popular blogs

Most popular


As I post every Sunday, here are the top five most popular of my blog entries from the previous week:

1) Dan Shelley (Sykes basher) upset that talk radio beats lefties at their own game

2) More music of Christmas-"A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight"

3) One year ago today-my how things have changed

4) BOOM!

5) Diane Baranowski for Environmental Commission!

Photos of the Week (12/21/08)

Photos of the Week

 Bush

President George W. Bush greets U.S. troops at Camp Victory Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008 in Baghdad. Evan Vucci/AP.


 Iraq Bush

Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based, Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadia television, winds up and hurls the first of a pair of shoes at US President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a press conference Sunday. al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground by security officials and then hauled away, moaning as they departed the room. Later, a trail of fresh blood could be seen on the carpet, although the source was not known. (APTN video image via AP)


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Beginning Monday on This Just In...

As I did last year, I'll present my TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008, beginning the countdown with #10 Monday. Every day between now and the end of the year, we'll look back at the Franklin stories that made news the past year.

Please check in every day to keep track.




Track Santa on This Just In...


Once again this year, we'll track Santa's sleigh On Christmas Eve.

Here's a glimpse of what it looked like in 2007:

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Christmas Reading: "A small, white envelope"


Nice, touching, heartwarming Christmas story about love, family, compassion, and tradition.

Read...

Is there anything good to say about today's weather?


Yes, actually.

Starting today, the days start getting longer.

Christmas Reading: Why atheists can't stand this time of year


Irreverent, sharp, witty columnist Doug Giles is, as many of you know, a favorite of mine. He’s refreshingly blunt, like a brick to the jaw.

His latest offering pounces on atheists:


Why do they make themselves societal hemorrhoids during this hallowed season? Is it because they are crusaders for equality, secularism’s saviors and humanism’s heroes? I’m sure that’s what they tell themselves when they’re pouting on their couches all alone on Christmas Eve after every single one of their friends has dumped them for being rabid idiots.

I believe, however, and I could be wrong, that the reason some rage against the machine is that they hate God and love their sin, and bringing up Jesus in December is not the way they wanted to finish off the year. Indeed, Christ really rains on their parade…..”


Societal hemorrhoids. I love it.

Read the entire piece.

Culinary no-no #91

Culinary no-no's


Here are some pictures of restaurants that all have one thing in common besides looking pretty good. Care to guess what that is?

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Photos: New York Times


These pictures were taken at restaurants inside American airports.

My wife and I have taken a few vacations the past month or so that required flying. Waiting for flights, we ate at the usual suspects: Burger King, Sbarros (We skipped Cinnabons).

Airport food, like airline food, is largely forgettable. The night before a flight, Jennifer or I make a quick trip to the Franklin Cousin’s and purchase two subs, put them in frig overnight, and load them with some chips in a carry-on the next day. When we pull those babies out to have with our free (for now) soda, envious looks from drooling faces are cast our way.

As crummy as airport food is, who’d want to eat it? Isn’t the whole idea to make connections as quickly as possible, more or less preventing enough time to be subjected to buying that junk? I know it is for me. But even if most travelers feel the way I do, sometimes they’re at the mercy of one of the most inept industries in the country.

An April 2008 report by the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research at George Mason University looked at U.S. airline passenger trip delays for 2007.  From the report:


Delays experienced by passengers flying domestic routes in the U.S. were up sharply over 2006. Total passenger trip delays were up 29% over 2006 to a total of 281.4M hours (or 32,477 years). A conservative estimate places the annual cost of these delays to be $8.5 billion in lost productivity to the nation’s economy.

In 2007, 647 million passenger trips were flown by U.S. domestic airlines between 267 airports on 7.4 million flights. This equated to a 4.5% increase in passengers over 2006.

The large increase in Total Passenger Trip Delays was the result of the combination of fewer empty seats on flights and an increase in the number of canceled flights. The passengers on cancelled flights were forced to wait significantly longer times for their re-booked flights. Many passengers were forced to spend the night before resuming their trip the next day.

In 2007, the average Passenger Trip Delay experienced across all airline passengers was 26.3 minutes, up 5 minutes (+23%) from 2006. Roughly 1 out of 4 passengers (26%) experienced a Passenger Trip Delay in 2007, a 2% increase over 2006. The average duration of the delay experienced by these disrupted passengers was 1 hour 54 minutes, a 24 minute increase over 2006.”


What happens when all those trips don’t take off on time? In truth, airport officials are smiling.

The New York Times reports because airports give inexpensive leases to airlines, the airports must make up the slack elsewhere. That means you, the air travelling sucker.  Crappy sandwiches cost 2-3 times as much. The price of bottled water is also inflated.

Professor Lance Sherry, who wrote the above-mentioned study on delays told the New York Times, “They’re (airports) incentivized to keep passengers longer.”

The aptly-named reporter Matt Gross was dispatched by the Times to sample airport food at  some of the nation’s biggest hubs — Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Dallas-Forth Worth, Los Angeles and, in New York, La Guardia and Kennedy, that combined  accounted for about 400 million passengers in 2007.

In a nutshell, Gross found some interesting menus and restaurants that boasted enticing  architectural designs. A few dining spots were even considered destination locations, with smartly-dressed customers celebrating, I fid you not, special occasions.

But when all was said and done, there were always problems, whether it was with certain entrees or service. No four stars, no perfect scores.

Gross thought he’d asked frequent airport diners, airline employees, for their “expert” advice. Surely they had to know the bright sports. Surely they gave their opinions. Surely Gross was disappointed. Why? Those airline pilots all get decent discounts, so of course that greasy cheeseburger is going to get rave reviews.

What about off-campus, leaving the airport to eat? Gross offered that suggestion, saying it’s worth it if connections can still be made.

Here in Milwaukee, that’s not a bad idea. Think about the options: The Packing House, Final Approach, America’s, Amelia’s, Jalapeno Loco.

But who wants to do that, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory?

Culinary prognosticators swear airports will substantially upgrade their fare in 2009. I’ll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, in one phrase, the New York Times sums it up nicely:  “No one likes to eat in airports.”

So unless absolutely, positively necessary, why the hell bother?

More music of Christmas: "The Rat Pack"

More music of Christmas



An editor with download.com writes this about the famous trio and Chrismas: "Holiday ditties and the Rat Pack go together like a dirty martini and Dean Martin's right hand. The low croons, the high kitsch, the cardigan sweaters in preposterous colors--December and its music were made for the Vegas charmers."

Well ring a ding ding, let’s get started.
 
 

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THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #10

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


TODAY I BEGIN A SERIES ON MY CHOICES FOR THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN NEWS STORIES OF 2008.  I WILL POST A STORY EACH DAY, COUNTING DOWN TO THE #1 NEWS STORY ON DECEMBER 31ST.


July 9, 2008: The second Sendik's in Franklin opens at the Shoppes at Wyndham Village.

 
Photos:FranklinNOW


Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor, Franklin aldermen, MIlwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, state Senator Mary Lazich and other dignitaries helped cut the ribbon for the new Sendik's at a ceremony under gorgeous sun-splashed skies.

July 9 was truly a great day for Franklin. A big crowd turned out for the celebration including many people who worked so hard to see the project come to fruition and their vision fulfilled.

Mark and Mary Carstensen made the quality development dream come true along with the mayor, Common Council, and the Franklin Plan Commission.

That sunny, picturesque July day was significant because the Franklin community collectively had been and is still crying out for quality destinations to shop and dine. When those scissors sliced through the tape, Franklin became the only community to have not one but two Sendik’s shopping outlets.

Two weeks later, the long awaited Target right next door to Sendik’s opened, and what many thought would never happen in Franklin, at least for many more years, finally transpired after what seemed like never-ending meetings, obstacle courses, and hoops to jump through. Par for the course in tortoise-paced Franklin.

Of course, there were the nitpicky naysayers.

Target wasn’t pretty enough.

Not green enough.

Not enough green space.

No bike paths.

Too much concrete.

Too many parking spaces.

Not enough pedestrian walkways.

My favorite was this bit of selfishness: No place for me to sit down and have my coffee and bagel.

Franklin blogger Greg Kowalski went after Target for selling food and wine, asking, “Can someone please tell me why I'm shopping at Sendik's Fine Foods?”

Kowalski, supposedly studying business, fails to understand that competition is desirable in the marketplace.  The one-size-fits-all model of the mediocre public school system doesn’t work and shouldn’t apply in the free market. We need Target and Wal-Mart and Kohl’s and Sendik’s and Pick ‘n’ Save and Sentry.

Competition is good for everyone. The more shopping options for Franklin residents, the better. To suggest that people won’t shop at Sendik’s because Target now has Merlot is, well, pretty dumb. Besides, the food offerings aren’t the same at Sendik’s and Target.

When Franklin blogger John Michlig compared the huge Target sign to the wall in the movie, “King Kong,” Kowalski had to jump right in the mud-tossing party. He took the rather juvenile step of having a contest on his blog, asking readers to write in with nicknames and phrases ripping the look of that large Target sign. While Franklin celebrated the grand opening of two very welcome retail establishments and basked in the glow of progress and success, two writers were taking potshots. Now that’s real community pride. The two went so far as to suggest that Target will force Sendik’s to close. One, I don’t think so, and two, why so negative?

I will repeat what I blogged this past summer:

“Congratulations, Mark Carstensen for seeing another dream become reality. Keep in mind that you’ll never win with some folks who will constantly moan and groan and cry that there aren’t enough flowers and there aren’t enough bike stands and there aren’t enough places for them to park their butts to sit by a fountain and have coffee and a bagel and there aren’t enough walkways for the droves of people who want to walk to Target.

You done good, Mark.

Congratulations, Franklin. You’ve waited a long time for these developments to take shape and they’re finally here. I have every confidence you’ll be loyal in your support.”


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) ?
9) ?
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

38 states, huh?


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made its position on sobriety checkpoints quite clear Sunday. Page 1, above the fold, above a photo, there was the headline:

38 states let police look for drunken drivers at random stops.”

Then came the article written by Rick Romell and right there in paragraph five:

Sobriety checkpoints can be used in 38 states - Wisconsin not among them - as a weapon against drunken driving."

And then in the Crossroads section, the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board writes in paragraph three:

“….when it comes to sobriety checkpoints - saving lives in at least 38 states but prohibited by statute in Wisconsin.”

Just what kind of drunk driving legislation will be taken up by the state Legislature when it goes back into session is anybody’s guess. No bill on any aspect of this issue has been drafted or introduced yet. There obviously have been no committee or public hearings. There are zero details at the moment.

Whether or not sobriety checkpoints are a good idea is not the subject of this blog. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has prominently submitted as one of its primary reasons why sobriety checkpoints should become law in Wisconsin is because 38 states use them.

Using that logic, I can’t wait for the newspaper’s upcoming crusades on these issues:


Conceal carry


Capital punishment


A photo ID requirement for voting

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wants to take your vote away


The same newspaper that editorializes against a photo ID requirement for voting because it would disenfranchise too many individuals opined on Sunday that one of your votes should be stripped away.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believes the Milwaukee School Board should be an appointed body. In other words, city taxpayers would not be allowed to vote for their School Board representation.

Wonderful. We should just let this bunch run amok without repercussions or accountability.

Don't forget this holiday special on MPTV


"The Birth of Christ," Tuesday night.


Elvis and you

ELVIS


During his lifetime, Elvis rarely did a duet withone else.

He did sing with Frank Sinatra on his TV show after he got out of the Army. And he also sang with Ann- Margret in "Viva Las Vegas." (Now you could go ahead and scroll past the embedded video but if you do, you'd miss out on the King singing a cute number with an even cuter Ann-Margret in one of his most popular movies. I'd click on the video).


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More music of Christmas: Smooth and mellow

More music of Christmas


I continue my audio Christmas card to you with Christmas music you should hear more often but don’t. This is good background while you’re working at the computer, and if you hear something you like, it’s all available at your favorite record, I mean CD store.

Tonight’s theme is smooth and mellow. No Brian Setzer or Harry Connick, Jr. this time. Let’s start with Milwaukee native Daryl Stuermer.


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THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #9

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


It took 364 days, but tonight, the owner of Franklin’s Buckhorn Inn will finally appear before city of Franklin officials to answer questions. The Franklin Common Council’s License Committee will interrogate Christopher Matecki about what happened on December 25, 2007 at Buckhorn.

Last Christmas day, 49-year old Eddie Lynn Keck, according to information he gave to police, drank six beers and three shots before leaving the Buckhorn. Keck got into a vehicle and struck and killed Gary and Barbara Kitchen of West Allis. The Kitchen’s were standing outside their truck on S. 35th Street in Franklin after visiting friends when they were hit. Keck drove away, telling police later he thought he hit a mailbox.

Keck was charged with two counts each of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and hit-and-run causing death. He entered a plea of guilty on the two homicide charges and was later sentenced to 36 years in prison.

What shocked, stunned, and outraged so many, and not just here in Franklin, was the inaction on the part of Franklin City Hall. Surely this horrific tragedy would spur the mayor and aldermen to take the only action they could: strip the Buckhorn’s license. Instead, it sounded like they all got together behind closed doors and rehearsed their lines ever so carefully. Early in January, every alderman who made a statement cautioned that “due process” needed to take place. Very early in 2008, city officials opened themselves up to criticism for mishandling the entire situation, a claim that would hound them throughout the year.

FranklinNOW blogger Janet Evans summarized a Franklin Common Council meeting in January where two citizens stepped forward to address aldermen about the Buckhorn fatal hit-and-run controversy.

From Janet’s blog:

Orville Seymer spoke first and told the Council he lives just around the corner from where the incident occurred and has family and friends who have been involved in accidents and death related to drunk drivers.  He said, ‘I am opposed to taking the liquor license away from the Buckhorn because that simply will not solve the problem. In my opinion, what will solve the problem is tavern owners and bar tenders who take more responsibility for their actions. In other words, they simply cannot refill a patron glass just because it is empty and they have money laying on the bar.

I am willing to go with any person who is willing to go with me and speak to every bar owner along 27th St. and exert a little peer pressure on them in a nice way so that they understand the consequences of these senseless deaths.’

Shari Hanneman spoke and said she disagrees with Orville Seymer. This also happened in her neighborhood.  She is a Mother Against Drunk Driving. She believes the Buckhorn's license should be revoked. She said the employees admitted that Eddie Lynn Keck had repeatedly been over served. The Buckhorn should lose the privilege of having a license. “

Hanneman, along with her Citizens For a Safe Wisconsin colleague Sandy Maher-Johnson did extensive research on one of the Wisconsin statutes that applies to this case. Hanneman referred to the statute in her testimony before the Common Council. Hanneman gave me permission to re-print her testimony: 

“The tragic accident of Christmas night occurred in my neighborhood. We heard the commotion and hoped that someone had simply burned their Christmas dinner.  Unfortunately two people died for no reason.  I am heartbroken and I am really angry that this happened and that it happened in my neighborhood. This incident is a black mark on the soul of this community.

I’m sure you have all read the criminal complaint.  I am sure you are as shocked as I am that the bartender at the Buckhorn Tavern discerned that the alleged killer was already “intoxicated at that time” when he continued to serve him beer and shots. The bartender also discerned that when the defendant left the establishment, his “ability to operate a vehicle was materially impaired because of consumption of an alcoholic beverage.”  There is no indication that any employee of the Buckhorn made any concerted effort to keep the defendant from driving away.  It was “assumed” that he would sleep it off as he had done in the past.  This indicates that employees of the Buckhorn Inn knowingly and repeatedly over-serve intoxicated customers.  This would seem to satisfy Wisconsin Statute 125.12, paragraph 2, item #3 which lists selling or giving away alcohol beverages to known habitual drunkards as grounds for license revocation.

I will say that if the criminal complaint is indeed truthful and reliable, I believe The Buckhorn Inn to be a very serious threat to our public safety.  In my opinion, a business that is that cavalier about the responsibilities that come with the privilege of holding a liquor license has no business doing business in my neighborhood.  I want that liquor license revoked!  I understand the complicated legal process that you are charged with.  I don’t like it but I understand it.

I am a Mother Against Drunk Driving.’  One of the core values of that organization is  Leadership- As the acknowledged leaders in the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking, we have the courage to set high standards of responsibility for ourselves and others, the will to work tirelessly for change, and the proven ability to achieve excellent results.

I will argue that we are a City of great Leadership – We are not afraid to stand up to the state, push for change, and do what is right.  YOU each must have the courage to set high standards of responsibility for those that you grant a liquor license.  YOU need to set the standard that anything less will not be tolerated by our people.”

In February, the Franklin Common Council voted to retain Roger C. Pyzyk, a private practice attorney who also is the Greenfield city attorney, as a special prosecutor to see if Franklin officials could take action against the tavern.

My first thought was, don’t we have our own City Attorney to make these kinds of decisions?

We do.

But the Franklin City Attorney is also the legal counsel to the members of the Franklin Common Council who, in this case, are the judges. So there’s an obvious conflict of interest.

The resolution adopted by the Franklin Common Council called for spending up to $5000 on the special prosecutor. The appropriation will come out of the City Attorney’s budget.

On July 29th, WTMJ-TV Channel 4’s John Mercure did a special report on Wisconsin law pertaining to over-serving. Mercure reported on the case of a young man who went out drinking on the eve of his 21st birthday with friends to the Slammer bar in Waupun. He drank 18 shots of liquor in an hour before the bartender stopped serving him. His friends (some friends) took him home, where he died later.

Mercure interviewed the Fond du Lac County District Attorney on camera who said he felt he couldn’t, based on current Wisconsin law, prosecute the bartender. Mercure reported that it takes about an hour for the young man in the story to have become intoxicated and that the bartender stopped serving while the customer did not appear to be drunk.

The Fond du Lac County DA also said he knows of no case in the state of Wisconsin of a bar being prosecuted and found guilty of over-serving.

In July, I wrote:

“It’s clear the Buckhorn over-served and that Keck, who has since entered a plea of guilty on two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, will be going to prison. The Buckhorn should have come up for a review of its license by city of Franklin officials a long time ago. The excuse that the city has to wait while the criminal justice system plays out is a copout. Franklin has a responsibility to ensure the public safety of its boundaries. I submit the Buckhorn license should have been stripped.”

The community was still waiting in August when I wrote:

“One can certainly understand the anger and frustration at the slow-moving wheels of justice in this case. There’s an outcry as to why the Franklin Common Council isn’t taking any action on the one area it has leverage in this controversy: Buckhorn’s license. Like it or not, there’s a specific process that is being followed.

I spoke with Franklin City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski to get some answers. You’ll recall that several months ago, Franklin named Greenfield City Attorney
Roger Pyzyk as the special prosecutor in this matter. Pyzyk’s responsibility is to examine the case and make a recommendation. His recommendation could be to strip the license, plea bargain, take action against the bartenders and/or the establishment, or do nothing.

Pyzyk’s recommendation will be submitted to the Franklin Common Council’s License Committee comprised of Aldermen Tim Solomon, Steve Taylor, and Kristen Wilhelm. Solomon years ago was instrumental in changing the city’s licensing procedure that now incorporates intensive reviews by building inspectors and comprehensive reports submitted by Franklin Police.

The License Committee can then conduct a hearing before being required to prepare a written report with its recommendation to present to the full Common Council. Then the Common Council can convene and take action.”

That, again, like it or not, is the process. And that's where we stand right now with a License Committee meeting on this matter scheduled at City Hall at 6:00 tonight. If you have concerns, you are urged to attend.

T
he criminal complaint in the case is damning.

Buckhorn is culpable in the deaths of two innocent people. And I will repeat a question I posed earlier this year:

If not this incident, Franklin aldermen, then explain to me what the Buckhorn or any other Franklin bar would have to do in order to lose its license?


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) ?
9) BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

"There's nothing wrong" with Brett Favre


I’ve been fawning over Brett Favre a lot this year. I don’t apologize and I’m not backtracking on any position I’ve taken.

But I always try to be fair, and Favre did not have a good game Sunday in a loss to the lowly Seattle Seahawks. His Jets played poorly, too. All season long, New York has risen to the occasion against really good teams. When the schedule had their opposition some of the NFL’s worst, the Jets turned mediocre, an inconsistency they need to correct.

The Jets have had 4 losses to inferior teams out west. Imagine if they had won those games as they should have. The Jets would be 13-2, and we’d be talking Favre for a 4th MVP.

Because the expectations for Favre are closer to the man in the cape rather than Clark Kent, when he doesn’t light up the stat sheet, the criticism flows. Likewise, the expectations for Aaron Rogers are lower. So when he puts up decent numbers as he did Monday night against the Bears, but the Packers still lose, Packer Nation, in its up North der aina style waxes poetic with something like, “Duuuuhhhhh, ya can’t blame Rodgers. Da guy didn’t get da field goal blocked, ya know. Give da kid a break! He’ll get better! We’ll get ‘em next year! Go Pack!”

Spoken like a true Packer fan satisfied with mediocrity simply because it’s the Packers.

Back to Favre. What’s with him lately?

Nothing.

And that’s from a guy who ought to know.

Read..

Foregone conclusion at tonight's Franklin License Committee meeting?


I took notice of the wording in the agenda for tonight’s Franklin Common Council License Committee meeting where Buckhorn Inn tavern owner Christopher Matecki will appear. Eddie Lynn Keck was retortedly over-served at the bar last Christmas Day and  was sentenced after he killed two people in a hit-and-run drunk driving incident.

According to the agenda, note that there was a “joint request” from “Special Counsel Roger C. Pyzyk on behalf of Complainant Police Chief Richard Oliva and Attorney Andrew P. Arena on behalf of Christopher Matecki, for direction as to potential of Committee consideration of a stipulated disposition of the Complaint in lieu of Hearing.

That reads to me as though both sides in this dispute made a request asking for direction on a possible stipulated course of action in place of a hearing.

The agenda also states, “The License Committee may enter closed session during the meeting pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 19.85(1)(a) to deliberate upon any proposed and submitted stipulated disposition and/or upon the conclusion of a Hearing to discuss its determination and recommendation, and to reenter open session at the same place thereafter to act on such matters as discussed therein as it deems appropriate.”

The wording raises the question of whether a course of action has been agreed upon that will be presented to the Committee for its consideration.

This has been dragging on a long time and a settlement, if you will, agreed upon in advance of tonight’s meeting may not be out of the question.

If that’s the case, then just what might it entail?


UPDATE ON 12/24/08 @ 7:56 A.M.

Track Santa's trip around the world...


Right here on This Just In...

It begins 5 a.m. on December 24th.

More music of Christmas: Sacred is the best

More music of Christmas


This is my final night of Christmas musical selections that if I could be a radio program director for one day, I’d slide into the format.

Christmas music is love and Santa and reindeer and hippopotamuses and chipmunks and marshmallows and winter wonderlands and your favorite things. But the best and true Christmas music reminds us of why we celebrate, as they’ve been saying in recent times, “the reason for the season.”

Every year, Hallmark puts out a special Christmas CD featuring guest artists, normally backed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The great Diana Ross loved to tell the story of that first Christmas in, “It’s Christmas Time.”

Diana Ross is a contemporary artist lending her voice to that contemporary song. Let’s go back in time to a traditional French Christmas carol done in recent years by Michael Gettel. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Il Est Ne.

I close with the greatest Christmas carol of them all.

Christmas historian Bill Egan, a retired Navy photojournalist and resident of Flagler Beach, Florida, is a staff writer for Year 'Round Christmas Magazine and provides Christmas research for Charles Osgood of "The Osgood File" on the CBS Radio Network. Gabriele Wolf of ANTO Media Relations says that Bill Egan is the foremost "Silent Night" scholar in the U.S. and the Daytona Beach News-Journal says that he is one of the world's leading experts on the origins of this carol.

Egan wrote this piece, “The Song Heard ‘Round the World.”

(190) years ago the carol "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht" was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened as the voices of the assistant pastor, Fr. Joseph Mohr, and the choir director, Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church to the accompaniment of Fr. Mohr's guitar. On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony.

On that Christmas Eve, a song was born that would wing its way into the hearts of people throughout the world. Now translated into hundreds of languages, it is sung by untold millions every December from small chapels in the Andes to great cathedrals in Antwerp and Rome.

Today books, films and Internet sites are filled with fanciful tales purporting to tell the history of "Silent Night." Some tell of mice eating the bellows of the organ creating the necessity for a hymn to be accompanied by a guitar. Others claim that Joseph Mohr was forced to write the words to a new carol in haste since the organ would not play. A recent film, created for Austrian television places Oberndorf in the Alps and includes evil railroad barons and a double-dealing priest, while a recent book by a German author places a zither in the hands of Franz Gruber and connects Joseph Mohr with a tragic fire engulfing the city of Salzburg. You can read claims that "Silent Night" was sung on Christmas Eve in 1818 and then forgotten by its creators. Of course, the latter are easily discounted by manuscript arrangements of the carol by both Mohr and Gruber which were produced at various times between 1820 and 1855.

In this age of tabloid journalism, it's not surprising that some feel it necessary to invent frivolous anecdotes and create fables for a story that is quite beautiful in its simplicity.

You can read the entire article here about the history of this beloved, sacred hymn.

Here is a lovely rendition in a lovely setting of Silent Night by Andre Rieu. Goodnight, FranklinNOW. I wish you and yours a very joyous Christmas!



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THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #8

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


2007 was not a good year for the Franklin School Board and the Franklin Public School District for essentially two reasons:

1) They made horrible decisions.

2) An alert public
, led by blogger watchdogs was paying more attention and being more critical. It was no longer business as usual.

Board members (most, not all) tried to ram two referenda totaling over $78 million down the taxpayers’ throats. They failed miserably as over 60% of voters rejected the massive property tax increase.

Through diligence and the use of open records, Franklin blogger Janet Evans obtained embarrassing e-mail exchanges between Franklin school officials about the failed referenda before and after they went down in flames. Shortly after the election in spring 2007, the Franklin superintendent, whose job it was to shepherd the referenda across the finish line to victory, was instead designated the scapegoat. He was fired and a new superintendent who coincidentally had a positive record on getting buildings built was hired.

Quietly, the Franklin School Board dumped its president and chose another.

The most egregious kick in the teeth to taxpayers came at budget time when Franklin School Board members swore they approved a property tax levy increase of just under 6%. It was actually (taxpayers be damned) just under 13%. They didn’t tell you that. I did in on my blog. Taxpayers never got so much as an, “I’m sorry.”

That was 2007.

The shameless antics of the Franklin School Board led to four candidates running for two open seats in April 2008. The winners were David Works and Linda Witkowski.

Franklin blogger Janet Evans sat down and conducted lengthy interviews with all the candidates. Their answers appeared on Evans’ blog and mine (you can still see them in my tags section).

Here’s an excerpt from Janet Evans’ blog about her interview with David Works prior to the election:


David conveyed to me he has a strong passion for “educational excellence” and, if elected to the position for School Board member, he would want to work to improve our standards whenever possible, to prepare our students for the future.

As a School Board member, he would be there to represent the best interests of every student and taxpayer, and do so in a professional and ethical manner, establishing better trust and communication within the school district.  David also thinks it is essential to exercise sound financial judgment, only after the review of convincing data, also in a professional manner.

Some items of importance to David that he would like to see accomplished as a member of the Franklin Board are:

 

  • Scheduling regular listening sessions (perhaps on a monthly basis) at the Franklin Public Library.
  • Discuss with city officials, about having an outdoor Community Calendar with key dates and events. One possible location for this would be at the intersection of Drexel and Loomis Ave.
  • Have a Board representative attend organization meetings in Franklin (such as PTA/PTO, Lions, Women's Club) at least once during the year.
  • Have an information table at the Civic Celebration to meet and discuss questions from residents.
  • Treat all constituents with respect and address their concerns in an honest manner. 

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Track Santa all day


Watch for updates at this site all day to see where Santa is on his travels all around the world.

MORE DETAILS

Merry Christmas!

This Just In hopes you all get ...


that very special gift from Santa.

Merry Christmas!


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Seen at Mayfair Mall...


At the, "From The Locker Room" kiosk...

T-shirts that say:

"Ted Thompson Ruined My Christmas"

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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What ARE you doing December 26th?


By guest blogger Jennifer Fischer


What ARE you doing December 26th? 

Well, since we are one of the few countries who don’t celebrate December 26th, I doubt you are participating in Boxing Day festivities.

Perhaps you are one of the brave souls who head to a mall the day after Christmas… either to snap up some post-Christmas sales (who can pass up a Chia pet for 80% off?) or to return the P.J.’s  Auntie Mary bought you that bring nothing but images of Aunt Clara’s gift in the Christmas Story:



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Did you shop "naughty" or "nice?"


Which retail outlets proudly proclaimed, “Merry Christmas” and which succumbed to political correctness and advertised, “Happy Holidays?”

Liberty Counsel kept track. Liberty Counsel describes itself as, “A nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. Established in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a nationwide organization with offices in Florida, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and hundreds of affiliate attorneys across the Nation.”

Here’s what they found.

HT: Robert Knight at townhall.com

Another Christmas comes and goes


Christmas is almost over.....or is it?

Christmas Day is certainly almost history. It does tend to sneak up and fly right by, doesn't it?

It's the perfect time for winding down and some musical reflection, and who better to provide it....


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"The most exciting woman in the world"


That’s what Orson Welles once called Eartha Kitt. Millions hear her voice every year during the Christmas season doing the original, “Santa Baby.”

Kitt died today at the age of 81.

I blogged about her famous Christmas song last December.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #7

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


What’s in a name? In Franklin, everything, and then some.

The Boomgaard debacle wasn’t the most important Franklin news story of 2008, but it certainly got the most attention. And the boondoggle was by no means a high point for area bloggers.

The S. 27th St. Steering Committee was searching for a moniker to brand and target the business corridor that bridges Franklin and Oak Creek. The local agency, Zizzo Group Advertising + Public Relations was hired and paid a reported $370,000 to come up with a magical nickname.

Zizzo selected, “Boomgaard,” the Dutch word for “orchard,” a reference to the orchards of the area in the 18000’s. Zizzo submitted the name Boomgaard was, "a strong-sounding word that brings to mind thoughts of progress, momentum and positive energy."

When word of the word got out, it triggered the Richter scale.

Immediately ridiculed, Boomgaard became the topic du jour, day after day, minute by minute for bloggers, and was even picked up by talk radio’s power duo of Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling.

This website asked readers to respond to a Boomgaard forum. There were 93 total comments made on the Boomgaard name:

89 comments were negative or made fun of the name to some extent.
2 comments were supportive
2 comments were indifferent, taking neither side

Of the 89 negative comments:

41 were from Franklin residents
21 were from Oak Creek residents
27 were from residents outside Franklin and Oak Creek or who didn’t give an address

This was not a complicated issue. You either liked the name or you didn't. There was no way to determine the number of Franklin and Oak Creek residents who were undecided, didn’t care, or were totally unaware of this issue. My guess is the percentage is rather high.

Franklin bloggers went bonkers over Boomgaard. The term I used to describe them was, “obsessed.” Shortly after the story first broke, during the week of Sunday-Saturday, May 11-17, there were many blogs about “Boomgaard.” Who wrote ‘em and how many?

GREG KOWALSKI:  11 (out of the 13 blogs he wrote the entire week)

FRED KELLER:  7

KEVIN FISCHER: 4

JANET EVANS:  3

JOHN MICHLIG:  2

BRYAN MAERSCH:  0


That was 27 blogs on Boomgaard in one week written by Franklin bloggers.

Now, was there anything wrong with that?

Absolutely not.

I’ve said it often, especially to other bloggers who’ve asked me about topic selection. I tell them  that you write about what you’re interested in or passionate about.

Here’s what I found interesting.

During that same time period, how many Boomgaard blogs appeared on OakCreekNOW?

After all, this was the hottest topic ever in the history of Franklin and Oak Creek, wasn’t it?

Congress needed to investigate. Governor Doyle should have called in the National Guard.

So, how many blogs did the OakCreekNOW bloggers write that week on this potential Pulitzer?

Try ZERO.

Other Franklin bloggers saw a major scandal and government malfeasance and were quite vociferous in their collective anger. I chose, instead, to lampoon the entire affair.

I wanted cold, hard facts and evidence (I’m just funny that way) that we had a full blown scandal, and so I was criticized for not being critical enough. As more and more of views got mischaracterized, I began running a disclaimer on my blog to try to be as clear as possible:


DISCLAIMER FOR EVERY SINGLE BLOG KEVIN FISCHER WRITES ABOUT BOOMGAARD FROM 5/4/08 UNTIL HIS LOVELY AND MUCH YOUNGER WIFE, JENNIFER FINALLY DOES HIM IN:  KEVIN FISCHER ENTHUSIASTICALLY SUPPORTS THE VISIONARY BIG PICTURE CONCEPT OF THE S. 27TH STREET CORRIDOR, BUT HAS PROBLEMS WITH THE NAME, “BOOMGAARD DISTRICT” AND HOW IT CAME TO BE (i.e. zero input from public).


It didn’t matter. The Boomgaard tar and feather crowd had formed. And what, at first, started out as a silly name quickly turned ugly. Very ugly.

In May, Franklin blogger Fred Keller quoted from an anonymous individual who calls himself Unfettered Candor (Although we know who you are, don’t we, UC?). UC had written some untruthful stuff in the past and had been called on it. This time, bloggers took UC’s foul-smelling bait. Fred Keller wrote on his BULLSEYE blog:


The keen eye of BULLSEYE  “groupie” Scott Thinnes alerted me to the following comment posted on Greg Kowalski’s “Today’s Concerns” . As Scott said, “Can you make 'this' stuff up?” Not in a million years, brother…not in a million years.

Unfettered Candor wrote:

It’s too bad I did not get an email reply from my Dutch friend from Amsterdam before the public comment site for the Boomgaard District expired. Several days ago I mentioned the crazy Boomgaard controversy and how there was such a public outcry in opposition to this title.

Today I learned that there is a district in Amsterdam that has been dubbed the “Boomgaard District” as well. It is a homosexual red light district. He said the title “Boomgaard” [fruit orchard] was a lampoon of that area .

Now I hope that this title is adopted. It will be entertaining to see how the prophecies of some promoters of the Zizzo group will unravel if this title is adopted. One promoter made a flimsy statement, 'the corridor will promote itself no matter what it is called.'

Yowzer…let the fun begin. If Zizzo’s 'fruit orchard' name is adopted, the floodgates will open with information about the 'Boomgaard District'  in Amsterdam and that might change a lot of things on South 27 Street!!!

May 4, 2008 12:52 AM

That warrants further investigation, wouldn't you say?.......


Fred’s idea of investigation was to then quote extensively from the article, “Gay Amsterdam: Last Vestige of the Sixties."

Fred would later update this blog, writing:


“To date, I am still working to independently confirm whether there is a gay red light district in Amsterdam that has been dubbed the ‘Boomgaard District.’ Should my research reveal that there is no gay red light district in Amsterdam dubbed ‘Boomgaard District,’ I will publish a follow-up."


In other words, I’m not sure all of this garbage that I just plastered on my blog is true, but it’s going to stay there while I look into this further. Now, I expected this kind of irresponsible blogging from Greg Kowalski who originally posted Unfettered Candor’s trash, but not from Fred Keller.

The correct, appropriate, and ethical thing to do would have been to study first, and publish the findings later. Fred wasn’t alone. FranklinNOW’s Janet Evans couldn’t resist the temptation to gleefully pile on about this unproven allegation.

Of course, their response would be that it’s just a blog and it’s their blog, so how dare anyone tell them how to write their blog. Fine. Wouldn’t you want to get it right? Wouldn’t you want to print the truth, not some wild accusation made by some unreliable, anonymous source?

Then-chairman of the S.27th Street Steering Committee and longtime civic volunteer in Franklin, Ted Grintjes said, “"I've talked to the University of Amsterdam, the tourism bureau, my business partners, my family - there is nothing of the sort."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on two occasions ripped the charge that Boomgaard was a red light homosexual district. The newspaper said, The buzz is, Boomgaard actually means gay red-light district, which is a false rumor but would be repeated until the end of time anyway.” It also called the vicious Boomgaard rumor, “an unsubstantiated claim that's circulated online.”

I’m not sure the bloggers who made a field day of this outright lie perpetrated by a highly questionable contributor on the blogs felt any remorse or even cared about what the damage they had caused.

There was more.

Another zany accusation was made that the Franklin Common Council had voted behind closed doors to approve the Boomgaard nickname, a ridiculous charge that was made numerous times without any factual background. The claim was false.

I blogged the following:


The Franklin Common Council did NOT take any vote during closed session at its March 18, 2008 Common Council meeting pertaining to the 27th Street Corridor, and that includes the name ‘Boomgaard District.’ (See G-14 on Page 4)

I discovered that information today during a teleconference with Franklin City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski and Franklin Alderman Steve Olson, both of whom were behind closed doors during that closed session.

Wesolowski told me during the teleconference that because he represents the Franklin Common Council, he could not violate attorney/client confidentiality. However, he said that any Common Council member who wished to discuss what happened in closed session could do so.

‘I think he (Kevin) wants to know if a vote was taken,’ Wesolowski said to Olson.

Olson replied immediately that he had no trouble answering that question.

‘No vote was ever taken,’ said Olson on ‘Boomgaard’ or anything else.

Olson also told me that he has known Wesolowski since 1991 and he has never known Wesolowski, whom he called a ‘stickler,’ to ever violate the Open Meetings Law.

This is why the nickname could be referred back to the Steering Committee for further study so easily. There was no vote by the Franklin Common Council to officially reconsider.

I believe City Attorney Wesolowski and Alderman Olson.

Erroneous blogs, fueled once again by unsubstantiated rumor and opinion rather than fact on this ‘vote’ of which there is no record of ever taking place have led to other erroneous discussions in reader forums and on talk radio. Stirring up controversy just to prop oneself up and accumulate blog hits is irresponsible.

Believing earlier blogs to be true, I did post in a few of my entries that the Franklin Common Council voted in support of the name, 'Boomgaard.' This information is not true. I regret that I wrote it in some of my blogs on this topic and retract those statements and encourage other bloggers to do the same.

I also believe the Franklin Common Council is on solid ground having gone into closed session.

Please direct your attention to
Page 18 of the “Wisconsin Open Records Law Compliance Guide” written last year by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Look at #4 under the section, 'When is it permissible to convene into closed session?'

Let’s review:

The Franklin Common Council, I believe went into closed session legally on March 18, 2008 to discuss the 27th Street Corridor.

NO, I repeat, NO vote was taken on the name ‘Boomgaard’ or any other matter.

Thus, there was no violation of the Open Meetings Law.

The fact that no vote was taken allowed the ‘Boomgaard’ matter to be referred back to committee.

Once again, someone tried to pass off wild speculation as fact on these blogs. It turned out to be false, leading me to wonder what other opinions that we've been fed are inaccurate. I doubt we’ll get an apology or retraction from that individual.”


On May 22, 2008, Franklin’s 2007 Citizen of the Year, Casper Green wrote into a forum on FranklinNOW. His piece read in part:


What bothers me most, personally, is the way second-guessers work. In this case, they have started rumors that are not true and have no foundation, according to those on the committee and the Zizzo Group.

Yes, the name Boomgaard is different, but certainly not offensive.

The committee expects to eventually attract $2 billion worth of tax-paying businesses to the corridor with only $300,000 budgeted for advertising. If the committee is successful, it would be a very small price to pay.

The name Boomgaard is strange to those of us who have lived here all our lives. Some of us have never gone outside the United States and maybe have not even ventured outside of Wisconsin. But if we intend to further 27th Street's long-term image and status, maybe instead of second-guessing professionals, we amateurs ought to pull in our horns and allow the name to be used.”

Casper T. Green
Franklin


In the end, the name Boomgaard was dropped, Ted Grintges resigned from the S. 27th Street Steering Committee citing a conflict of interest, and Franklin Alderman Steve Olson replaced him. Grintjes had argued the committee didn’t publish their original interest in the Boomgaard name because they didn’t want anyone else to steal the name. In hindsight, they had nothing to worry about.

The cities of Franklin and Oak Creek now find themesleves months behind in finding a brand for the business corridor.

This entire PR nightmare should be a lesson to all involved: local officials, public relations experts, and bloggers.

Local officials: Openness is extremely important, especially when it comes to public expenditures.

PR experts: Sometimes it isn’t as good as you think it sounds.

Bloggers: Your credibility suffers when you don’t print the truth.

Important lessons? You bet, far more important than a silly nickname.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

Aren't radio stations great this time of year?!


Not only are they playing Christmas music all across the country, but they’re giving away Christmas wishes in the form of expensive gifts to needy listeners.

It’s a great promotion, and I mean that sincerely. But I have to wonder how many of these stations have also handed out pink slips this month.

Franklin, and others, remember Christine Rathke


The Christine Rathke Tournament is being held today and Saturday at Franklin High School featuring high school girl’s basketball teams from the area.

Middleton (6-1) plays Whitnall (5-1) at 3 p.m. today and Cudahy (5-1) takes on Franklin (4-1) at 4:30 p.m. The consolation and championship games are scheduled for 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The tournament is named after the late Franklin High School basketball star, Christine Rathke.

UPDATE

THIS IS PRICELESS!

Kevin's favorites


Yes, I'm a bit late on this one, but it's a must –read, this parody of the New York Times, with the date of July 4, 2009. It reads like a lefty’s wish list to Santa. Even the links work.

Beautiful stuff.

HT: Charlie Sykes

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #6

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


In politics, the incumbent has decided advantages: name recognition, experience, a record to run on.

When an incumbent loses an election, it’s generally big news. When two incumbents lose, especially in a small city like Franklin, the news is huge.

Incumbent Franklin aldermen Alan Hammelman and Peter Kosovich were defeated in the April elections, each by narrow margins. Kristen Wilhelm defeated Hammelman for the 3rd District seat by just six votes, 608 to 602. Steve Taylor knocked off Kosovich in the 4th District by 11 votes, 741 to 730.

Hammelman and Kosovich each asked for a recount, and both lost.

All of the candidates in April’s elections wrote guest blogs here about why their experience and why they should be elected. Kristen Wilhelm shared, in part, the following:

“I have the experience that would allow me to fulfill the duties as the 3rd District representative. My recent career with the River Revitalization Foundation has allowed me to develop key leadership, coordination, and organizational skills that have forged relationships with a wide variety of municipalities and organizations throughout Milwaukee County. I will bring to the Council the careful budgeting knowledge of the non-profit world, which requires frugal use of funding and meticulous accountability to our donors. My aeronautical background will bring an eye for detail and detail-oriented strengths to the Council. 

I believe I have both private and public experience that will allow me to manage the job of Alderman for the city of Franklin. Appointed by both Mayor Klimetz and Mayor Taylor, I served as a volunteer on the Environmental Commission with no budget, and as a mere ‘recommending’ body. This is one of the most challenging positions to make a difference. Through it all, I have learned the city's various codes and ordinances.”

Here is an excerpt of what Steve Taylor wrote:

“The reason that I want to be the next alderman on the 4th district is because I feel it is my civic duty to serve the public.  No matter where I have lived I have always gotten involved in some capacity.  I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with bachelor’s degrees in political science and public administration.  I figured that while I was studying how government works I might as well apply it in a practical manner.  I ran for the La Crosse City Council as a junior and got I elected to a four-year term.  I served all four years, three of which I was the vice chairman of the finance and personnel committee.  I moved to East Lansing, Michigan in 2002 with my future wife so she could get her masters degree.  While living there I was appointed and served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for two and a half years.  In December, Mayor Taylor appointed me to the Environmental Commission.  As an alderman, I will be able to make a positive impact by combining the experience I gained from serving in those two other communities along with what I have learned while living here in Franklin.”

The close margins of victory (or defeat, depending on your perspective) demonstrate an obvious split electorate with no clear mandate for Wilhelm and Taylor. I submit this is a case of Hammelman and Kosovich losing their races rather than Wilhelm and Taylor winning them.

Hammelman stopped at my home during the campaign, dropped off a one-page sheet, and talked briefly to my wife who told me that Hammelman focused on the concrete welcoming slab he procured for our subdivision. I found that, of all accomplishments to emphasize, a bit odd.

Kosovich, it has been argued, made the mistake of targeting, not Steve Taylor, but mayoral candidate and former recalled Franklin alderman Basil Ryan. Read for yourself.

In an age of brutally negative campaigns, the Kosovich-Taylor match was a virtual love-fest.

Taylor wrote in his guest blog, “I respect Alderman Kosovich a great deal.  It is refreshing that two candidates running for the same office can conduct themselves in a positive manner and only on the issues. At the end of the day I know that the two of us will continue to have a positive working relationship.”

Kosovich told John Neville of FranklinNOW after the election and prior to the recount, “Steve Taylor's a very nice guy. If the recount doesn't come out in my favor, I think Franklin will do fine with him as an alderman."

Kosovich was later nominated for the Franklin Planning Commission by Mayor Tom Taylor and the Common Council gave its approval. Steve Taylor was voted Franklin Common Council President, replacing Lyle Sohns.

To be fair, Wilhelm and Taylor have been in office for less than 9 months. They haven’t stumbled, but they have yet to make their mark.

The two serve on the all-important Finance Committee, affording the newbies a chance to work on the city budget. The committee all but rubber-stamped Mayor Taylor’s proposed budget, which was significant because the budget set a much-needed cap on the tax levy.

Personally, Wilhelm and Taylor disappointed me with their votes in September against a proposed ordinance to suspend expense and mileage payments for City of Franklin elected officials. The proposal made perfect sense. In these tough budget times, why should the city taxpayers fund gas mileage, dining, or any other expenses for the mayor and aldermen? If they wish to travel out of town to attend a government-related seminar or conference, let them pay out of their own pockets.

In a phone conversation I had with Wilhelm, she acted as though without the payments, she’d be on welfare tomorrow.

Taylor wrote the following in his guest blog: “When economic times are tough, we have to tighten out belts.  The city should have to do the same.  It can not continue to pass the buck on to its taxpayers.  There are for sale signs popping up everywhere around the city.  People are leaving because they can’t afford the taxes.  We have seniors on fixed incomes that want to be able stay in their homes until they are ready to go.  I know these things because while out campaigning this is what they are telling me. I will take a long and hard look at how we spend your tax dollars.”

Yet Taylor said it was important the expenses be paid for aldermen so they could travel to other cities and attend conferences on municipal government.

If more people understood how this mileage system works, I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy. Every month, the aldermen receive a check courtesy of city taxpayers to offset mileage, postage, whatever. There are no questions asked. Aldermen do not have to provide a list of expenses or exact mileage. They are simply forwarded a check. Sounds a lot like the Milwaukee Public Schools to me.

Wilhelm and Taylor have another chance to make their mark as they consider the fate of the Buckhorn tavern license as they serve on the License Committee.

Both aldermen are good, decent, committed individuals. But the jury’s still out. If were a teacher, my grade for them would be incomplete.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

Week-ends

Week-ends

A look back at the people and events that made news the past week.
Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


HEROES OF THE WEEK


Santa Claus, who truly is
conservative.


The USPS that delivers 19 billion letters, cards and packages every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll also throw in those great UPS and FedEX drivers.


Snow plow drivers.


Andy Kochanski


Milwaukee Police Officers Steven Roufus and Timothy Gauerke


Nick Nelson


CRG Network



VILLAINS OF THE WEEK


Bruce Pardo



QUOTES OF THE WEEK


“This one-size-fits-all mandate is not only bad economic policy, it is also bad law. We believe this measure interferes with employers’ rights to negotiate labor agreements with their employees and is an illegal extension of the city of Milwaukee’s authority into areas of law and regulation reserved to the state.We do not take the issue of suing the city lightly. This has the potential to be a long and extremely costly fight. However, the negative ramifications of this mandate are so extreme for our member companies and our regional economy that we are convinced it is a fight we cannot afford to sit out.”
Metropolitan MIlwaukee Association of Commerce Presdient Tim Sheehy.The MMAC filed a legal challenge to the city of Milwaukee’s paid sick leave mandate. MMAC also will request that the court enter a temporary injunction blocking the city from enforcing the mandate while the court considers its validity. If this injunction is not granted, employers will need to begin implementation of the new mandate on Feb. 10, 2009.The paid sick leave ordinance would require Milwaukee employers to provide up to nine days of paid sick time per year based on the number of hours worked and the size of the business.


"We dominated the game. We felt very confident they weren't able to stop us. But we didn't score enough points. It's just really frustrating."
Green Bay Packer QB Aaron Rodgers after the Packers lost at Chicago Monday night in OT, 20-17.


“The Obamas, along with close friends, rented three houses, worth more than $30 million -- each a spacious 5,000 square feet, with waterfalls and a lagoon pool that flows throughout.”
ABC’s Yunji de Nies reported on “Good Morning America” Monday on the Obama's trip to Hawaii.


“Halfway through his round [of golf], as Mr. Obama stopped by the snack bar, he unexpectedly bumped into a small group of reporters sitting outside the club house. Asked how his game was going, he smiled and conceded, 'I’m not that good,’.He chatted for a moment, telling the traveling press pool to have a beer and put it on his tab. No one took him up on the offer.”
The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny


“Giving that kind of mark of approval and honor to someone who has frankly spoken in ways I and many others have found personally very offensive, I thought that was a mistake for the president-elect to do,”
Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass) on Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give his Inauguration invocation.


 “Christmas falls on Thursday, but in the nation's capital it will come in early January, when the 111th Congress convenes and begins assembling an economic stimulus plan worth anywhere from $600 billion to $850 billion, and counting. However, lawmakers first must write a bill that, in legislative terms, doesn't become the year's biggest Christmas tree, festooned with billions for pet projects and special interest ornaments that are pleasing politically but not necessarily what the economy needs right now. One example: On Friday, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums issued a news release calling for ‘shovel-ready zoo and aquarium infrastructure projects to be eligible for federal stimulus funding.’ ” 
McClatchy's David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall


“I thought he merited it at the time.”
Vice President Dick Cheney on Fox News Sunday, not apologizing for telling Sen. Patrick Leahy to f*** himself.


“How many shots do you need?”
President-elect Obama to the photographers with him on the golf course in Hawaii.


'He was so anti-Bush, at first people just assumed he was an American journalist."
NBC's Tonight Show host Jay Leno, joing that the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush was "offered his own show on MSNBC."


And from conservative columnist Thomas Sowell-Random thoughts:

A reader suggests that members of Congress should wear uniforms, like NASCAR drivers, so that we will know who their corporate sponsors are. Many of those in Congress should also wear logos representing the teachers' unions, environmentalist extremists and other special interests.


People who are impressed by how many of Barack Obama's advisors have Ivy League degrees seem not to remember how many people with Ivy League degrees mismanaged the Vietnam war and how many people with Ivy League degrees mismanaged economic policy during the Great Depression of the 1930s.


T
he fact that sales at Starbucks are going down, while sales at McDonald's are going up, shows that people are adjusting to economic adversity by cutting back their spending. Only in Congress do people adjust to economic adversity and growing deficits by spending more money.


Wal-Mart has done more for poor people than any ten liberals, at least nine of whom are almost guaranteed to hate Wal-Mart.


Ronald Reagan had a vision of America. Barack Obama has a vision of Barack Obama.


One of the signs of how easily we are bullied by small and vocal groups is how many universities, among other institutions, dare not even refer to the Christmas vacation but instead refer to "the winter holiday." 


If you didn't know that Governor Rod Blagojevich was a Democrat, you are unlikely to find out from the mainstream media. But, if you didn't know that recently convicted Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was a Republican, the media made sure to tell you.



OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK


Home values go down, property taxes go up



MOST UNDER-REPORTED STORY OF THE WEEK


Stories about important numbers often get ignored.



MOST OVER-HYPED STORY OF THE WEEK


Barack Obama shirtless.



STRANGEST, MOST UNUSUAL STORY OF THE WEEK


Please don't try this at home.


REMEMBER: Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me.

Dodging a bullet


It will be unseasonably warm, albeit wet today. Thank goodness.

WTMJ-TV weatherman Brian Gotter writes in today's Journal Sentinel:

"If it were cold enough today, this storm would have dumped an additional 12-16 inches of snow."

The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot


THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.

TODAY:  Rain, heavy at times, much warmer. "D"

SUNDAY:  Windy and colder, snow.  "F"


Kevin has given this weekend’s dog walking forecast a “D.”  Great if you want to walk Fido today but you’ll have to actually FIND him in all this fog!  Maybe a little flasher on his collar today is in order.

Today’s warm temperatures are nothing but a short and welcome break from the bone-chilling averages that we should be used to by now in Wisconsin.  So let’s not get too enthused about a snow-free rest of the winter dog walking season.

I’ve mentioned Mickey many times in my blog, a precious Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier in our neighborhood.  Her owner George puts a purple sweater on her when the temperature dips but she does not wear boots.  (She does, however, have dryer-warmed towels waiting for her upon her return.)  George takes her about three blocks to stretch her legs and do her “doggy duty.”  Then it’s home to hot towels and probably a hot beverage for him!  He is also dressed appropriately in hunter orange polar-weight pants and jacket.  But just looking at the twosome makes ME shiver from the warmth of my home.

I have vowed that our future dog will have the run of the back yard but will NOT become accustomed to twice-daily walks in all sorts of weather.  I don’t walk MYSELF in this, I’m not waiting for my future Remy to decide what just the right spot is when it’s ten degrees below zero.

The Dog Lady from the Chicago Sun Times offers us reassurance for the sanity of walking in all weather, and some tips on appropriate time limits
for this time of year.

So enjoy the mild temperatures today but remember, you and Fido will probably need to bundle up until our June thaw.
----Jennifer Fischer


Thanks again, Jennifer. I'm not sure I totally agree with the Sun Times' Dog Lady. That's cutting it close. Look at question #8 for a chart on how long humans can stay outside when temps are cold and winds are howling.

Time once again for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.

Milwaukee Magazine examines puppy mills.

There's controversy in Texas over the shooting of wild dogs.

If the economy gets too tough, would you give up your dog? Many people are.

Meet Dexter, an Iraq war hero.

Bentley makes it home for Christmas, and that wasn't easy.

Would a dog be better than Rod Blagojevich?

Is your dog a ham? That's not unusual.

Here's some advice from the state tourism folks on traveling with your dog.

Want more advice? How about getting your dog ready for holiday parties?

Is there advice on how to keep your dog from being a kleptomaniac?

There are plenty of reviews out about the hot movie, Marley and Me. Guess how many dogs it took to make the film?

This is our last Barking Lot for 2008. Jennifer and I have enjoyed bringing this special feature to you every Saturday morning and we are extremely gratified by the response. We'll be back in 2009, and close this week's installment with the trailer for Marley and Me.



Read more

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #5

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


Basil Ryan has a “history” in Franklin. That history probably didn’t do him any favors in his bid to unseat Franklin mayor Tom Taylor.

In early January, sparks started to fly after I blogged about Ryan’s past, as documented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and I received a response from Ryan’s spokesman, my friend Paul Bucher. You can read that blog here.

Both candidates accepted my invitation to write guest blogs. Taylor wrote exclusively about his accomplishments, avoiding any mention of Ryan’s past. Here’s a portion:


“As Mayor, I have chaired the Common Council, the Committee of the Whole, the Plan Commission, and the Community Development Authority (Business Park). I also served as an Environmental Commissioner, a Technology Commissioner and an Economic Development Commissioner.

I am pleased to report that the City of Franklin still has one of the lowest municipal tax rates in Milwaukee County. In 2006, I proposed a budget that reduced the tax rate in a non-reassessment year and some residents received tax bills that were lower than the previous year. I went over my last three years of tax bills and my wife and I paid an additional $111 in new city taxes for years 2005, 2006 and 2007 even though the assessed value of our home went up. As you know, the mayor and the Common Council are only responsible for the City taxes and not the school district or other taxing units of government.

I am also pleased to state that we have new restaurants. Some of these restaurants are opening and many are being constructed. Places like Gus' Restaurant are now open.

In the last few days the opening of the Wheaton Franciscan Medical Center, a new five story hotel near 76th and Rawson and a new multi-million dollar AZANA Spa for the Fountains of Franklin were announced. All of these new commercial developments will help pay for expenses for the city and our schools.

Since I have been mayor, we have many new shops like Sendik's, Lowe’s, a Target and many smaller stores. We will have hundreds if not thousands of new family supporting jobs created with the new addition to NML at a time when other communities are losing jobs.

In the last three years, the city has moved forward, and its reputation as a place to live and work has increased significantly.”


The pattern over the past several years in booming Franklin has been one of taxing and spending. While Taylor can’t bear all of the blame, I thought it was wise strategically for Ryan to stress taxes in his campaign. Here’s a portion of his guest blog:


“Since Mayor Thomas Taylor took office, city property taxes have risen 16% and spending is up almost 30%, according to the city's own records. I think that's too much. We can do better without sacrificing the quality services that Franklin residents appreciate. Most other cities have done better, and there is no reason Franklin can't do so as well.

Numbers compiled by the respected, non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance found that three fourths of Wisconsin cities had lower tax levy increases than Franklin during Mayor Taylor's tenure. 135 cities did better than Franklin, and only 55 cities did worse. I will reverse that trend.

When you add in schools and other taxing entities, Franklin's overall tax increase was the worst in Milwaukee County and also one of the worst in the state. But, even when looking at only the city in isolation, as one must do in a mayoral race, we are still shouldering one of the fastest growing tax increases in the state.

Taylor also recently underscored on his campaign website that he never promised to NOT raise taxes. This is where we differ. I AM promising to not raise taxes.”


Ryan also made this accusation:


“As a Milwaukee County labor official, the mayor accepted a pension buyback and lobbied for workers trying to get them. The media reported that the buybacks are in apparent violation of IRS rules. They could cost taxpayers another $50 million.”


Both men signed a pledge to submit budgets that did not exceed a property tax levy increase of 3%.

The final result? Not even close. Taylor got 67% of the vote.

But the Taylor-Ryan dispute wasn’t and isn’t over.

Late this summer, Taylor was charged with election violations that are still pending.

Who complained about Taylor?  Ryan.

It appears that there were four violations, all on March 11, 2008, all within a few hours of each other or less.

We need to put the charges in perspective. Taylor’s been charged with .........election violations. I don’t dismiss the allegations, but Mayor Taylor isn’t guilty of graft or any incredibly serious offense. If, and I emphasize the word, “IF” he’s guilty of anything, it’s this:

HE’S A POLITICIAN ENGAGED IN POLITICS!

Maybe he even wrote a press release in his office. For shame!

I submit that these allegations were made before the April elections. Tom Taylor still won by a hefty margin and I believe would have won even if these charges had been officially issued prior to April 1, 2008. Why? Because the vast majority of Franklin residents remembers Basil Ryan and rejected his brand of politics and political behavior.

When you boil it all down, Mayor Taylor has been hit with…….a possible fine.

Major political scandal? No way.

The Journal Sentinel reported on September 16, 2008, “According to the claim, Taylor asked finance director Calvin Patterson ‘to provide information that would be useful in responding to’ a flier by his opponent in this past April’s election, former Franklin Ald. Basil Ryan. The flier stated that during the ‘Taylor Years’ — 2005 to 2008 — city property tax levies and expenditures 'rose significantly.' The claim further alleges that Patterson provided Taylor with information on city tax levies and expenditures during Ryan’s term on the City Council. It also noted that Patterson provided Taylor a copy of council minutes that indicated Ryan was absent for the vote on the 2004 city budget. Taylor used the information on his campaign Web site to respond to Ryan’s flier, according to the claim.”

I repeat a statement I made in a previous blog: “So let me get this straight. A mayor cannot ask his very own budget director to do research, essentially looking up numbers, on budgets the mayor prepared and actually worked on? “

Read more

Still to come on This Just In...


Photos of the Week, and a special year-end version of Culinary no-no, along with my daily pick for The Top Ten Franklin Stories of 2008.

On New Year’s Eve, we close out the year on a positive note, as we did in 2007, with an all-day look at the heroes of the past year. Also on New Year's Eve, a special year-end edition of Week-ends.

My most popular blogs

Most popular


As I post every Sunday, here are the top five most popular of my blog entries from the previous week:

1) Photos of the Week (12/21/08)

2) THE TOP TEN STORIES OF FRANKLIN: #10

3) THE TOP TEN STORIES OF FRANKLIN: #9

4) Culinary no-no #91

5) TIE

More music of Christmas: "The Rat Pack"

THE TOP TEN STORIES OF FRANKLIN: #8


Weather advisory for Franklin


Read.

Hochuli being punished?


Ed Hochuli
, having a troubled NFL season, is reffing the Packer-Lions game today.

Two losing teams, one at 0-15, in the cold, in late December, in Green Bay.

What an assignment! Coincidence?


Are the Green Bay Packers racist?


That, of course, is a ridiculous question.

Even so, on today’s pre-game show on the Green Bay Packers radio network, during the opening roundtable discussion segment, “Around the Horn,” the panel discussed this question from an e-mailer:

If Ray Rhodes was fired as head coach of the Packers after going 8-8, why isn’t Mike McCarthy’s job in jeopardy?

It’s an issue that could be raised again in the mainstream media from the usual suspects.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading


Here are, in my view, interesting, noteworthy columns and articles from the past week that I highly recommend:


Grow Up! An Obamafied American Idol Christmas

"What does all that mumbo-jumbo about 'aggregate demand' mean? Well, that’s a fancy term for you — yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful cool refreshing thirst-quencher after you’ve been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room all morning with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn’t be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don’t ramp up the demand, we’re kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed."


Wreaths Across America

"This voluntary effort was started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Company, in Harrington, Maine. Arlington was the largest focus of the commemorative ceremony, but not the only one; nationwide, some 100,000 wreaths were laid at over 300 cemeteries in all 50 states. Its goal is to put a wreath on as many service members’ graves as possible."


All I wanted for Christmas was a newspaper

"Bloggers are no replacement for real journalists."


If you’re going through hell, keep going

"What follows is my attempt to Dr. Phil you folks thru this crap-laden crunch we’re currently getting crushed by with seven hard learned lessons about God and life from the last 25 years of getting my butt kicked."


Hollywood’s best and worst

"
There's a reason why 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' never gets old, and 'Miracle on 34th Street' remains timeless in its black-and-white glory: They champion the good, and the holy, and the pure innocence of Christmas. And it's worlds apart in tone from today's usual TV fare."


Reflections-2008

"We have nearly made it through another year without having suffered an attack on our soil; a tribute to the outgoing president when those are seldom heard by him today."

Photos of the Week (12/28/08)

Photos of the Week

 Was2093025

A neighbor places some flowers on the street near the crime scene after a shooting incident in Covina, California, on December 26, 2008. A ninth body was recovered from the charred rubble of a Christmas Eve massacre as sketchy details emerged about the gunman responsible for the deadly killing spree. Los Angeles County Coroner's office confirmed a ninth body had been found in the wreckage of a home in the eastern suburb of Covina, where a man dressed as Santa Claus opened fire on revelers late December 24. The gunman, Bruce Pardo, 45, burst into the party at his former in-laws home and sprayed guests with bullets before setting fire to the house and later taking his own life. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)


 

A portrait of Pakistan's slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is seen as supporters place candles in Multan, Pakistan, Saturday, Dec. 27. More than 150,000 Pakistanis flocked to the mausoleum of Bhutto after some walked hundreds of miles to offer flowers and kiss her grave on the first anniversary of her assassination.

A portrait of Pakistan's slain former Prime Minister enazir Bhutto is seen as supporters place candles in Multan, Pakistan, Saturday, Dec. 27. More than 150,000 Pakistanis flocked to the mausoleum of Bhutto after some walked hundreds of miles to offer flowers and kiss her grave on the first anniversary of her assassination. (KHALID TANVEER, ASSOCIATED PRESS)





Signs at an employee parking lot at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin caution that foreign vehicles are not allowed to park on the companies lot December 22, 2008. The plant will produce its last vehicle on December 23, 2008 after manufacturing trucks, automobiles, SUVs, and tractors since 1919. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Signs at an employee parking lot at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin caution that foreign vehicles are not allowed to park on the companies lot December 22, 2008. The plant will produce its last vehicle on December 23, 2008 after manufacturing trucks, automobiles, SUVs, and tractors since 1919. Photo: Reuters


Read more

Special year-end edition of Culinary no-no


Culinary no-no, normally posted on Sunday, will appear tomorrow, Monday. Culinary no-no #92 will be a special end of the year installment.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #4

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


“I’ve never failed” at anything I’ve been involved in.


That’s what David Hintzman, President of Equitable Development LLC, the developer of the Fountains of Franklin parcel at 56th and Rawson told me and my wife at the VIP party for the  Sendik’s Food market the night of October 30, 2007.

Prior to that conversation, and for several months after, I chided Hintzman for the lack of movement or any progress whatsoever at his site.

I have always been, and continue to be, supportive of this promising development. I want it to open and succeed.

In my second blog on FranklinNOW.com, I wrote a lengthy piece about the huge potential of Franklin, including some thoughts about our developments:


“I must admit, I am a bit impatient. I want to see these developments sooner rather than later. Construction on both the Shops of Wyndham Village and the Fountains of Franklin is set to begin this spring. And yet a huge gas station is being built right now at a furious pace at the corner of 51st and Rawson. Yes we need places to fill up our tanks. Let’s not wait too long to get going on these other projects.

I had the opportunity to meet David Hintzman, President of Equitable Development LLC, one of the developers of the Fountains of Franklin. He impresses me as being fully dedicated to making the project work, complete with much sought after amenities and attractive architecture and landscaping. My advice to Hintzman: crank up the public relations/marketing campaign. I would venture to guess a great deal of Franklin has no idea how ambitious or enticing the Fountains of Franklin is. Heck, I bet a lot of people have never heard about it, period. Get the word out, pitch your project, and make people aware of what you’re planning in your office where I see the lights on late quite frequently. Get the media to do stories, and update your web site ASAP.”

---This Just In, January 29, 2007


Then in February, 2008, Hintzman and I spoke again, this time at the Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin fundraiser on February 29th.

“Give me one month,” he said, implying there would be some movement at his ghost town on 56th and Rawson.

In late March, Hintzman announced that Azana Salon and Spa would be opening its second location at FOF. That was to go along with a Dairy Queen.

The Dairy Queen never received final approval,and to date, Azana hasn't opened. There have been no shovels in the ground. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Let’s move to June when my patience officially ran out.

As a staunch supporter of economic development and continued growth and progress in Franklin, and being deeply concerned about the disappointingly slow pace and lack of progress at what should be an encouraging project, the Fountains of Franklin, I respectfully requested an analysis of the monthly lost tax revenue to the city of Franklin caused by the continued dormant site at 56th and Rawson. How much tax revenue is it costing the city of Franklin each and every month that site fails to operate with open businesses?

It was a simple request. The project lies in Alderman Lyle Sohns’ district. He provided some assistance, if you will, with my request. Sohns suggested I come down to City Hall with a copy of Einstein’s theory of relativity, a Rubik’s cube, and a No. 2 pencil, or something to that effect, and figure it out myself.

My alderman, Kristin Wilhelm, nicely and respectfully, and I ‘m sure with a Joker-like grin, told me to take a hike.

Weeks later, Mayor Taylor told me the request could be met easily utilizing little staff time, but I declined, feeling my point had been made.

So 2008 rolled merrily along with nary a fruit fly casting a shadow at 56th and Rawson. Did anyone seem to care?

Then in late summer, things got ugly.


Following numerous entries by other bloggers (I had stayed out of it), The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about a Franklin development issue that became quite messy.

Here’s the background, with pertinent details, in my view, in a chronological fashion:

1972: Leonard and Verna Fox open a multi-faceted business at their home at 5510 W. Rawson Avenue in Franklin, known today as Castle Concrete Products and Franklin Storage.

UNKNOWN: The Foxes allegedly violated city of Franklin ordinances. At what point they may have begun violating the ordinances is unclear, but it may have been as long ago as the first day they opened their business. Who knows?

APRIL 2003: Lyle Sohns defeats an incumbent to win a seat on the Franklin Common Council. That was over 5 years ago.

2006: Developer David Hintzman of Equitable Development purchases land just west of the Foxes’ property at 5610 W. Rawson to build Fountains of Franklin, an 80,000-square-foot retail and office complex.

SOMETIME THEREAFTER: According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Developers began wooing the elderly couple (The Foxes) -- one even approached the city about having their property condemned--but they resisted."

EARLY 2007: I begin my blog on FranklinNOW. I had met Hintzman and offered my support in any way possible toward his project. When the project is plagued by inactivity, I begin to chide Fountains of Franklin on my blog. This year, I became more critical, raising the issue of lost tax revenue the longer the project is delayed.

JUNE 2007: According to the Journal Sentinel, “An attorney filed a complaint with the city’s Planning Department on behalf of an unnamed neighbor — Hintzman won’t say if it was him — alleging violations (by the Foxes).”

UNKNOWN: Alderman Sohns, whom I actually like and respect, but tends to pull some questionable things every now and then (keep reading), has a “grandstanding” transplant performed. The exact date is uncertain, but it probably came after….

MARCH 2008: In a meeting with me, Franklin blogger Fred Keller, Franklin citizen Scott Thinnes and Franklin Alderman Steve Olson, Sohns glares at me as he informs Fred and I that he will not sign a pledge to promise to keep the next city of Franklin budget tax levy increase to a maximum of 3%. Sohns makes it emphatically clear that he believes he understands budgets and knows how to put them together and resents the charge that Franklin taxes and spends too much (Sorry, Lyle, it does) and offers one excuse after another why Franklin can’t toe the line.

Still glaring, Sohns tosses onto the table charts containing the property tax records of every Franklin blogger and Common Council member.

MAY 20, 2008: Sohns produces the same charts that he did at the private meeting in March and brandishes them at a Franklin Common Council meeting.

MEANWHILE: There is little, if any activity or progress whatsoever at Hintzman’s Fountains of Franklin site. No tenants have been procured.

JULY 2008: Hintzman takes pictures of a Cadillac owned by well-known hometown Franklin developer Mark Carstensen parked at the Foxes’ property/business. Hintzman supplies the photos to Franklin blogger Greg Kowalski, knowing full well Kowalski will write blogs critical of Carstensen, whom Hintzman regards as a competitor (competition is good, by the way) suggesting a conspiracy that Carstensen is working in concert with the Foxes. Or maybe Carstensen was just paying a friendly visit.

The seed is planted that the Foxes have violated city ordinances. The paper reports the city has been working with the Foxes since February on compliance.

UNKNOWN: The light bulb goes on and Alderman Sohns, a Common Council member since 2003, realizes that not only does Franklin have ordinances, but they’re not being enforced. Earth to Lyle: Franklin also has running water, stop signs, and a McDonald’s.

AUGUST 2008: Sohns (Remember, he likes to grandstand) issues a letter to Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor suggesting he may have broken state law by suppressing complaints about ordinance violations against the Foxes. Sohns does so without consulting the Mayor first. Was a courtesy call in order? Sohns says he’s received e-mails and phone calls complaining that ordinances aren’t being enforced.

In unison, other Franklin aldermen like sheep, nod their heads and say we must enforce ordinances. We must enforce ordinances. We must enforce ordinances.

The issue is raised at the next Franklin Common Council meeting and Mayor Taylor comes out guns a blazing. Taylor responds, “I believe that unless Alderman Sohns can substantiate his claims and explain his actions that he should resign immediately.” Taylor says he, too, is getting correspondences from city residents worried that the city is forcing the Foxes out of their property.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2008: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

There are no heroes in this mess.

If you want to blame the Foxes, they certainly haven’t exercised criminal intent. And if they’ve been in violation for over three decades, my goodness, where has the city been?

David Hintzman surely knew the lay of the land when he made his purchase and proposed the Fountains of Franklin. The Foxes were entrenched, he knew it, and now was crying foul. It’s like the guy who moves into a house along the expressway and then complains he can’t sleep at night.

Hintzman can’t so much as get a dandelion to pop up on his site and it’s the Foxes' fault. Hintzman wants us to believe he’s not behind the complaint filed against the elderly couple. Sure. And he didn’t take those pictures of Carstensen’s car either and feed them to a blogger he knew would aid his cause.

Hintzman didn’t do himself any favors in the Journal Sentinel article discussing the Foxes, both in their 70’s, one who was having chest pains over this ordeal.

Hintzman said, “I love these people. I go to church with them. It isn’t about us and them. This is not the kind of business retailers want to be next to. Am I saying shut them down? Not necessarily directly. But indirectly? Maybe.”

What’s that old expression? With friends like these….

I’m not sure what political dance Alderman Sohns was doing. I think he set the Guinness World Record for fence-sitting. The paper says Sohns isn’t “carrying water for anyone” — not Hintzman, not the Foxes, not Carstensen. He wants ordinances enforced, yet he feels for the Foxes. Paging Alderman Sohns and his true motivation, please!

So, as I stated earlier this year, there are plenty of players, not a single hero.

The old saying goes that politics is the art of compromise. That never occurred in this case. Hindsight is 20-20, but the concerned parties should have gotten together a long time ago and worked toward a mutual agreement.

The Foxes have now been unfairly put right smack dab in the middle, suffering physically and emotionally, all because a developer won't own up to his inabilities to build his project. I repeat, I want the project to succeed, but I've run out of patience. How long do we have to wait? And if the Foxes stay put, which I'm sure they will, is that going to be this developer's never-ending scapegoat?

A South Milwaukee judge will now consider the zoning dispute in what was one of the saddest, if not the saddest Franklin stories of 2008.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) FRANKLIN'S UGLY MESS: FOUNTAINS OR THE FOXES
5) TOM TAYLOR IS RE-ELECTED....AND HOW
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

Franklin's unemployment rate


The unemployment figures for November 2008 have been announced.

Franklin’s unemployment rate is up slightly, but well below the national rate of 6.7%.

Here are the details.

States can't/won't comply with federal anti-sex offender law



Not a single state thus far has met a July 2009 deadline to comply with the federally mandated Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

Granted, no funding is included, and granted, states are battling all kinds of fiscal problems.

But it’s amazing what issues suddenly transform politicians into fiscal conservatives.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #3

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


The Franklin School Board made some incredible blunders in 2007, the most egregious and unethical being the sneaky manner in which they handled the annual budget.

Board members told the public they approved a  school tax levy increase of 5.6%. That was untrue. In fact the final tax levy increase was more than double that. What’s worse, they didn’t tell anybody.

Here are all the ugly details.

One year and two new school board members later, it was déjà vu all over again. At the annual meeting of the electors in August, the public was told the school tax levy increase was going to be 3.7%. Franklin School Board President David Szychlinski made a promise.

“One thing I can tell you is that the board has the intent that it’s going to hold to these numbers,” Szychlinski said. “If the state makes an adjustment sometime down the road, we’ll seek the input of the community as to how we might adapt.”

But hadn’t we heard this routine before?

To their credit, after years of fiscal irresponsibility, the Franklin School Board finally held the line. At its October 22, 2008 meeting, a proposed school tax levy of $29, 464,517 was approved, up from $28,550, 076 the year before. That’s an increase of 3.2%, far better than the 12.7% highway robbery pulled off in the previous budget.

The School Board gained two new members in April 2008 and will get two more next April. More people are paying attention and speaking out about School Board actions. The Board and Superintendent Steve Patz appear to be listening. For now, this is real, positive change. And that’s good news for Franklin taxpayers.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) ?
3) WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
4) FRANKLIN'S UGLY MESS: FOUNTAINS OR THE FOXES
5) TOM TAYLOR IS RE-ELECTED....AND HOW
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

Culinary no-no #92

Culinary no-no's


THIS IS A SPECIAL YEAR-END EDITION OF CULINARY NO-NO

Reflection is everywhere this time of year as we not only look in the rear view mirror, but also look ahead, and the world of food is no exception.

Award-winning Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema spoke with culinary experts about what’s in and what’s out to dine in 2009. Since the theme of this weekly blog is all about what’s taboo, we’ll focus on the trends that we’ll see less of in the coming year.

Let’s start with this…

Expensive wine shown in San Francisco wine shop
(Photo: Reuters)


Those are bottles of wine shown in a wine shop in San Francisco, California from January of this year. Note the price of that second bottle from the left. Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology discovered that because people believe wines that are more expensive to be of higher quality, they fool themselves into thinking the wines with the inflated price tags are more enjoyable.

That was then, this is now as value-conscious diners and wine afficianados opt for more inexpensive options.

Next...
 

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A look back...


From the creative folks at Jib-Jab. You may have to play this more than once to catch it all...


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Do you know who this woman is?




You're going to be hearing a lot more about her very soon. Remember that NY Times story that claimed John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist?

Good to see that she's fighting back against the liberal press.


Sometimes, the victims win


Wisconsin’s video voyeur law has been upheld.  It states that photographing or videotaping nude people without their knowledge or consent is illegal.

The law
was authored by state Representative Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) and co-sponsored by state Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin).

Another tool to combat sex offenders


I make no apologies and it drives the sex offender sympathizing wackos that read my blog crazy. I’m all for making life tough and miserable for the scum that have sexually abused others, and that includes innocent children.

A new law goes into effect this week in Georgia that will have pervert apologists screaming bloody murder. If only they cared that much about the victims.

The sickos, I'm sure, are now desperately in search of a liberal judge.

Tis the season to be frisky


DON'T LET THE TITLE FOOL YOU. THIS TOPIC IS QUITE SERIOUS.

One of those Christmas songs you just don’t hear enough of is called, “It must have been the mistletoe,” by Barbara Mandrell. The lyrics go like this:



It must have been the mistletoe,

The lazy fire,
The falling snow,

The magic in the frosty air

That feeling everywhere

It muts have been the pretty lights,

that glistened in the Silent Night,

Or maybe just the stars so bright that shined abiove you


It could have been the holiday

the midnight ride upon a sleigh

the country side all dressed in white

that crazy snowball fight

It could have been the steeple bell,

that wrapped us within its spell

It only took one kiss to know

It must have been the mistletoe

 

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Throughout the day on New Year's Eve on This Just In...


We end the year as we did last year on a positive note with stories of the Heroes of 2008.

I hope you enjoy.



THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #2

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


On a grey, gloomy Saturday morning this past March, a meeting on city of Franklin taxes was held at the now defunct 5-Star Coffee. In attendance were Franklin aldermen Steve Olson and Lyle Sohns, Franklin blogger Fred Keller, Franklin citizen Scott Thinnes, and myself.

Keller, who arranged the meeting, had corresponded with me prior and asked me what I thought about extending an invitation to Franklin mayoral candidates to sign a pledge to hold the city property tax levy increase to the rate of inflation, in this case, 3%. I told Keller it was an excellent idea.

More on the mayoral candidates later; Back to the meeting at 5-Star where we attempted to get Olson and Sohns to sign a similar pledge.

I like Alderman Sohns and respect him. But to be honest, on more than one occasion at this meeting where he said he would not support the pledge because it just couldn’t be done, he condescendingly spoke to me about budgets as if I didn’t know the difference between a dollar bill and an electric shaver, apparently forgetting that state document totaling billions and billions I work on every two years.

Sohns riddled me with one excuse after another about why holding the line on taxes was impossible. He also presented me with a copy of the last city of Franklin budget and a rundown of the property tax records of some of the Franklin bloggers, his point being that in his view, taxes weren’t all that bad in our fair city. Seeing the bloggers’ numbers made me chuckle and react with a big, fat, “So what!” I didn’t give up my time to meet with Sohns and Olson to lobby for my own personal tax break. The issue was the property tax levy for every single property taxpayer in Franklin.

Sohns claimed that holding the line was just too tough. His attitude that day was also troubling, that the only way to budget is to tax and spend, tax and spend, without even seriously considering a 3% ceiling.

My goodness, I thought. What if we had asked Sohns to cut 3%? He would have gone right through 5-Star’s ceiling.

Neither alderman signed the pledge, but each said he'd work to produce a responsible budget. But the pledge did get signed.

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor signed a pledge to, if re-elected, keep the tax levy increase in his proposed budgets at 3 %. Taylor met with Keller to officially sign the pledge just a few days before the April election.

Keller had proposed that the mayor sign a pledge that he would not propose a budget with a property tax levy that exceeds the rate of inflation and would not support a budget forwarded to him by the Franklin Common Council that contains a property tax levy increase that exceeds the rate of inflation.

Here is the pledge Mayor Taylor ultimately signed:


I pledge if elected to another term as Mayor of the City of Franklin that I will not recommend an annual budget to the City's Finance Committee that exceeds a 3% tax levy.  This pledge is related to the years 2008 to 2011.

Thomas M. Taylor
Candidate for Mayor
3/30/08


Here are the tax levy percentage increases for the past three City of Franklin Budgets:
Keller then got Taylor’s opponent, Basil Ryan to sign a similar pledge the next day. There was reason it took until the next day: logistics. I blogged at the time:

"Basil Ryan contacted me that he is having trouble connecting with Fred Keller. Ryan writes:
Kevin, Please consider this email my official signing of such a pledge.I hearby official certify to you, Kevin Fischer, that I agree to all of the terms of the Fred Keller pledge. And you can take that to the bank.I will continue trying to reach Fred, but I want it on the record, that I have now officially agreed to/signed onto the pledge.Also, I would note for the record that Mayor Taylor's signing of the pledge is too little, too late. As you noted in your blog, every year Taylor has been in office, the tax levy has risen above the parameters of the pledge. I don't need an election to promise to keep taxes under 3%. I will do so every year I am in office.Thank youBasil RyanI have informed Ryan that this isn't good enough. The pledge must be signed.

I am confident Ryan and Keller will make the necessary arrangements very soon to get the pledge signed."


And they did.
Here are the details.

The developments were significant because both candidates were now on record that they would not submit or support a budget that spends beyond the city’s means. The pledges were a direct message to the Franklin Common Council that any budget the aldermen craft that contains a 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9% increase in the property tax levy will be a non-starter with the Mayor, regardless who it is.

Some residents who commented on my blog weren’t satisfied.

Paul McKenna  

Too bad the Mayor didn't sign a pledge last year. The damage is already done. When will the Mayor & Common Council realize that they don't have a blank check on spending. This city is out of control with its spending and taxes!

Kevin Fischer   

I agree, Paul. We certainly put pressure on the city during last year's budget talks. Previous tax levy increases were unacceptable, well above the rate of inflation.But hopefully we can do something about future budgets.

Walter Steiner   

I agree with Paul McKenna on this one.  Where was this pledge earlier?  While I applaud the current efforts, it seems a bit contrived on the eve of the next election.  

Kevin Fischer   

There's no question the pledge came late in the campaign.However, what's important is that BOTH candidates are now on record that they will not submit or approve a budget that imposes a tax levy greater than the rate of inflation. It was critical to get those pledges cemented before the election, and Fred Keller did.Last year, for months, I put the pressure on the School Board and the city to tow the line on over-taxation and spending.  I wrote blog after blog, literally begging people to contact their representatives and tell them to hold the line.Not enough people did, and the city and especially the School Board taxed like crazy.So now we took the action we could at this juncture. This could help Franklin taxpayers down the road for the next few years.


Mayor Taylor submitted his budget, the one that “couldn’t be done,” and met the pledge. To their credit, aldermen Olson and Sohns did make motions to try to reduce the budget even further, but those efforts failed.  The Common Council approved the budget, holding the line on the tax levy just as the pledge called for. It wasn’t easy, I know. But it was accomplished. Truly, this was democracy at its finest in action.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) ?
2) MAYOR TAYLOR TAKES THE PLEDGE, AND KEEPS IT
3) WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
4) FRANKLIN'S UGLY MESS: FOUNTAINS OR THE FOXES
5) TOM TAYLOR IS RE-ELECTED....AND HOW
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

It's New Year's Eve-Hero Time


All day long, as we did last year on This Just In, we present the stories of the heroes of the previous year.

Here's our first entry, Reggie Damone.

Heroes of 2008: Kevin Everett


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

A medical mystery

 

Read more

Heroes of 2008: Wayne Leyde


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Not your ordinary lottery winner.

Heroes of 2008: Choi Yo-Sam


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


"A brusque man with a big heart"  .............
gone, but saving lives.

Heroes of 2008: Leo Fiyalko


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Truly amazing!

Heroes of 2008: The Milwaukee Police Department


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


An investigation that needed to be done and reported....

Heroes of 2008: David Harmon


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Harmon made an incredible rescue.

Heroes of 2008: Belle


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Good dog!

Heroes of 2008: Midwest Express, right here in Franklin


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


ADVOCATING MOM, who comments frequently on my blog, for saying this about the snow plow efforts in Franklin:
The crew that plows my end of town did a great job!  They were past my house 2 or 3 times on Wed. and then again this morning.  Either they're doing a great job or they just love the warm chocolate chip cookies I take out to them everytime they come by.”

Heroes of 2008: Andrew Symonds


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

This cricket player had seen enough.


Read more

Heroes of 2008: Jane Hambleton


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Tough love.

Heroes of 2008: Leonel Cesar



THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008



You're not bringing that on his bus.

Coming up later on This Just In...


1) The Year-end edition of Week-ends

2) My pick for Photo of the Year

3) I conclude my series of The Top Ten Franklin Stories of 2008 with #1.

Thanks for checking in and Happy New Year!

Heroes of 2008: Jack Davis


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Pretty sharp for 11-years old.

Jack's big day!

Heroes of 2008: Mike Rivera


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Tonight Kansas plays Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

Heroes of 2008: Fairgoers in Florida


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Lifesavers.

Heroes of 2008: Karrie Davis and her son


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Brave.

Heroes of 2008: Honor Flight


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Veterans get a chance to visit memorial.

Heroes of 2008: Jorge Orozco-Sanchez


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


Colorado trucker.

Heroes of 2008: Elizabeth Roess


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

A 5th grader makes Halloween right in her town.

Heroes of 2008: 911 survivors


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Maimed, trying to be whole again.

Heroes of 2008: Christian the lion & his friends


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


"Hugging" lion is inspirational.

Heroes of 2008: Greg McKendry


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


A true martyr.

Heroes of 2008: Lisa Alberte


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Phenomenal nurse.

Heroes of 2008: John Wallen


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


He fought crime, with a sign.

Heroes of 2008: Keela Carr


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008


She really supports our troops.

Heroes of 2008: Michael Phelps


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Athletic.

Generous.

2008 Year-end edition of Week-ends

Week-ends


Every Saturday, I present Week-ends, a look back at the people and events that made news the past week.

With 2008 coming to a close, this is a special Year-end edition of Week-ends.



HERO OF THE YEAR


I could go the easy route a la Time Magazine and name Barack Obama. But he hasn’t done anything yet, and that includes his short tenure in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Legislature. And quite frankly, the thought of an Obama presidency scares me.

Last year, I selected our brave men and women in the military all over the world. They are supreme heroes every minute of every day.

My choice this year is Sarah Palin and for one specific reason, not because she was the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.

In the months before the election, I wrote two blogs that even if Sarah Palin should lose in her bid to be the next Vice President, society wins because Palin will have raised awareness about the blessing a Down syndrome baby can mean and the joy the baby can bring to a family.

Palin’s impact was reinforced by a column in this month’s edition of, “Voices,” written by registered nurse Nancy Valko of St. Louis, president of Missouri Nurses for Life, and a spokesperson for the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses. Valko writes, in part:

“I must admit that I had tears in my eyes when I saw Sarah Palin carry Trig with such obvious loving pride and also when I saw Trig’s 7 year old sister Piper lick her hand and smooth his hair during their mother’s acceptance speech. Liberal commentators might not acknowledge the beauty of such actions but apparently the average person does. The issue of “choice” fades when we see the smiles surrounding such a baby.
And what we parents of children with disabilities know but few liberal commentators apparently do is that this kind of acceptance and grace does not always come easily or automatically, although it usually does come eventually. This is why support is so necessary for families dealing with disability issues.

The common mainstream media stereotype of a prolifer is that of a rigid, unsmiling religious fanatic who doesn’t care about women and their lives. Sarah Palin has challenged that stereotype just by being a warm, loving mother herself who affirms life in all circumstances. Her courage in publicly living her principles has made her a target of the abortion industry but her extraordinary example has helped reshape and reinvigorate the public debate about abortion."


Here is Valko’s column, “The Sarah Palin Effect: The Power of a Mother's Example”



VILLAIN OF THE YEAR


Starbucks



QUOTES OF THE YEAR


In an election year, there are all kinds of gaffes and guffaws from members on each side of the aisle. I've narrowed my search down to some clips featuring the greatest, the most articulate, the brightest, most talented individual God ever put on this planet, the man who will singlehandedly fix every problem our country faces, our President-Elect, Barack Obama.



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Photo of the year-2008


In June of this year, I was struck by the amazing photos of the floods that ravaged Wisconsin and posted several. The response was so tremendous that I kept adding more pictures and it inspired me to add a regular feature to my blog, Photos of the Week.

I’m gratified that many photographers have personally contacted me to express their interest. Their great work makes it all possible.

Photos of the Week wasn’t around in early 2008, but if it was, this featured photo would surely have been included. It’s my pick for Photo of the Year.

Baby

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THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008: #1

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008


For the past 10 days, I have highlighted what I believe were the top Franklin news stories of the past year.

Today, I unveil what I believe was the #1 story in our city in 2007 because it affected our most prized commodity: our children. In fact, this story had a potential impact on every child in the state of Wisconsin. The #1 Franklin story, the city's victory in its lawsuit against sex offender Steve Hanke, was far more important than any election, ribbon-cutting, or silly nickname.


One year ago today, I blogged my New Year wishes for convicted sex offender Steve Hanke…

“For the convicted sex offender who has gone to court to try to live in Franklin 600 feet away from a middle school in defiance of a Franklin ordinance, I wish the following in 2008:

An appearance before a court or judge that has some common sense, the one way ticket out of Franklin you deserve.

And may you never, ever harm another innocent child because if you do, I fear you'll slip through the cracks again because of an all-too liberal judicial system.”


In June of 2007, convicted, but now released sex offender Steven Hanke purchased a home in the 8200 block of South 77th Street in Franklin. Hanke was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1996 for second-degree sexual assault.

Problem: Hanke moved into his Franklin several months after the city had passed a milestone ordinance severely restricting where sex offenders can live. Hanke lived not far from Forest Park Middle School in complete defiance of the Franklin ordinance, and now was refusing to move.

The city of Franklin filed a lawsuit against Hanke in an effort to force him out.

At stake was not only Franklin’s ordinance, but numerous other laws just like it that were patterned after Franklin’s and were now either in place or being considered in numerous communities around the state.

To truly understand the magnitude of this issue, some background is in order.


HISTORY

From an earlier blog of mine on Franklin’s top issues:

Franklin has been Wisconsin’s leader in the fight against sex offenders. It has had to be.

Not too long ago, busloads of Franklin residents stormed a public hearing at State Fair Park to protest a special state committee’s thought of building a facility in Franklin to house numerous sexually violent persons. Franklin was considered an ideal location, having the most open space in Milwaukee County.

The loud and strong stand by Franklin residents couldn’t be ignored. The special panel wrapped up its business without recommending any site in Milwaukee County for a sex predator house.

A flurry of activity ensued at the state Capitol. A key piece of legislation was approved and signed into law that killed funding for the facility for sexually violent persons and also disbanded the special committee assigned to find a location for the facility. Another bill signed into law makes first degree sexual assault of a child punishable by life in prison. Both bills were authored by Senator Mary Lazich.

After sailing through the state Senate, a bill requiring that the worst sex offenders in the state be monitored by Global Positioning System or GPS was finally approved after much wrangling in the Assembly and signed into law.

Still, Franklin officials worried that released sex offenders would be dumped in Franklin. Sparking that fear was the state allowing notorious offender Billy Lee Morford to travel back and forth between his northwest side Milwaukee home and Franklin for 18 months without properly notifying Franklin.

After several public hearings and a thorough legal review, the Franklin Common Council late last year approved an ordinance with tight restrictions on where sex offenders could go and live within the city limits of Franklin.

Other communities quickly took notice, with several surrounding municipalities and some out-state either approving or considering Franklin-like ordinances of their own.

The Franklin Police Department has already used the new city ordinance on restrictions to force offenders out of areas they’re not welcome. Several local web sites now feature links to the sex offender registry and the family Watchdog offender map.

So far, no one has challenged the constitutionality of Franklin’s ordinance, or any other Franklin-like ordinance around the state. If they do, they’re in for a battle.

Jim McCarthy, a member of the City Council in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania wrote the following in a letter to the editor in American City and County Magazine. McCarthy was responding to an article that predator protection laws around the country are coming under fire. McCarthy writes:

“As one who has been trying for eight months to pass a law restricting where convicted sexual predators may reside or work in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., my research shows the majority of such laws have already passed court muster. Currently, 30 plus states, and hundreds of local communities, have passed such laws, most of them based on the “original” proposal passed by Iowa, which was upheld by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court (see Doe vs. Miller), and Ohio's “Distance Marker” legislation, which was similarly upheld as constitutional by federal courts.

In challenges to the Iowa and Ohio laws, the courts have ruled that these laws do not infringe upon a person's rights in that they are a form of civil regulation and not a form of punishment, they are intended to protect children and are rationally related to that end, and they represent a rational argument that prohibiting sex offenders from places children congregate will advance a community's interest in protecting children. Two federal courts have upheld city actions to ban individual sex offenders from parks and recreation areas where children congregate.

There have been some isolated cases where a poorly written law was struck down by courts, but that was because the authors failed to do the research required to make their law iron-clad. It is up to us, the legislators, to make sure “they” do not have access to our little children, whose rights far outweigh the rights of someone who preys on the weakest of our society.”


THE JUDGE

The case of Hanke and the city of Franklin went before Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Franke. Franke is a very liberal judge with a history.

In June of 2003, Franke released one of Wisconsin’s most notorious predators, four-time-convicted child molester Billy Lee Morford, to a home reportedly less than a mile from two schools and a park. Morford was the first sexual predator given supervised release in the city of Milwaukee.

In 1997, Franke granted predator Shawn Schulpius supervised release, contingent on the creation of a plan for housing and monitoring him in Milwaukee. But for more than two years, officials could not find supervised housing for Schulpius in the city. In 2000, Franke reversed himself, saying Schulpius didn't deserve release after all.

Why was this all so important?

The city of Franklin had a lot to lose if it did not prevail in this case. A ruling against the city would have essentially nullified the Franklin’s tough restrictive ordinance that communities all across the state are using as a model to pass their own similar laws. If  Franklin lost this lawsuit, the teeth would have been taken right out of its ordinance and the fear that a facility to house numerous sexually violent persons could be built in Franklin would have started all over again.


ORAL ARGUMENTS

On April 14, 2008, oral arguments were made in the case. I blogged:

"Arguments were made today before Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Franke in the city of Franklin’s lawsuit against convicted sex offender Steve Hanke.  Hanke moved into Franklin several months after Franklin adopted a strict ordinance on where released sex offenders can live.

I was not in the courtroom but concerned sources who were inform me of what transpired.

Franke acknowledged there is no dispute that Franklin’s ordinance has been violated. However, he identified three constitutional issues he’s considering.

1) Ex Post Facto

An ex post facto law is one that changes the legal circumstances of acts made or the legal status of facts and relationships that were in existence before the enactment of the law. It can, among other things, criminalize actions that were legal before committed, or add new penalties or terms.

2) Validation of due process – does the strict scrutiny test apply.

The strict scrutiny application comes up in two situations: when a fundamental constitutional right is infringed, or when a government action uses a suspect classification such as race or national origin.

3) Unconstitutional taking of property

Franklin City Attorney Jesse Wesolowski argued Franklin’s ordinance compliments state policy with regard to sex offender monitoring and management.  Hanke’s attorney Andrew Arena said the ordinance is fear-based, unreasonable, and emotionally charged and therefore Franke could strike it down.

A bill has been proposed in the state Legislature to define high-risk sex offenders and child safety zones. Another bill would prohibit local municipalities from enacting ordinances like Franklin’s.

Franke submitted it might make more sense for the state to address the issues in a uniform manner.

Arena argued Franklin’s ordinance amounts to banishment, pointing to signs posted throughout the community and the negative treatment Hanke gets from his neighbors.

Franke responded that sex offenders can still work, visit, and travel in and through Franklin.  In his view, banishment would mean that no offenders would be allowed in Franklin at anytime.

Franke then challenged Wesolowski about what the threshold is for prohibiting sex offenders. If all sex offenders were prohibited from living in Franklin, would that be constitutional?  If Franklin allows them to live in only 30% of the city, is that constitutional?

The argument of residency vs. occupancy came up.  What is the definition of residency?  How does that differ from occupancy?  Technically, Hanke can still own the property but not “reside” there.  He could visit there.  Could that, in essence, blow holes in the argument of unconstitutional taking of property?

Wesolowski also argued that Hanke’s presence in the neighborhood may result in decreased property values for the other residents and that represents a public nuisance. He added that zoning laws are in place to ensure the protection of property and that presents a reasonable basis for the ordinance.

Franke raised the question as to the notion of actual public safety vs. the public 'feeling' safe.  Is it the responsibility of the government to make the public 'feel' safe?

Wesolowski contended that yes, under the constitutional provision of home rule, local municipalities can decide what constitutes “comfortable enjoyment” and “freedom of fear” in determining a public nuisance so long as it is reasonable."


THE RULING


In early July, Franke ruled in favor of the city of Franklin, a huge victory for not just the city of Franklin, but the entire state of Wisconsin.  Ordinances that are in place right now to restrict where sex offenders can live or congregate in could remain in effect. Other cities, towns, and villages watching anxiously, waiting from the sidelines to see what would transpire could now move forward with their plans to adopt such ordinances.

Franklin actually has two ordinances that are very similar but deal with the same issue.

There’s an ordinance that deals with what Franklin City Attorney Jesse Wesolowksi described as a “public order.” This ordinance basically states that Franklin is taking these restrictive measures to protect its citizens, and then it also lists all the nuts and bolts, the details of the ordinance, the 2000 feet limits, and so on.

Then there’s the all-important zoning ordinance, and this is critical. This sealed the deal for a Franklin victory.

I’m told that it appears Judge Franke made his ruling based on Franklin’s zoning ordinance that includes all those nuts and bolts details, but was crafted and adopted based on statutes that allow municipalities like Franklin to pass laws that control its land use. This ordinance, that is almost identical to the 1st ordinance except for some legal terminology, saved the day for Franklin.

Also, Hanke presented in court at least 10 arguments that questioned the legality and constitutionality. Judge Franke found nothing to support any of those arguments.Franke also ruled against Hanke’s motion that the claims made by the city of Franklin were invalid.

What did it all mean?

#1- Franklin’s tough ordinance is constitutional.

#2- Other ordinances in other communities are safely in place.

#3- Other municipalities considering adopting such ordinances can safely move forward.

#4- Hanke had to move or face substantial fines, 
anywhere from $1  to $2500 per day for every day he was in violation of the ordinance.


A REMARKABLE RULING


Franke’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of both of Franklin’s ordinances restricting where sex offenders can live or congregate was surprising for a few reasons, including the fact Franke’s quite liberal and he has ruled in favor of sex offenders in the past.

The most surprising aspect of Franke’s ruling to me after digging through his 30-page decision is that it’s apparent he has problems with the merit of the ordinances. Even so, he realized that he’s a member of the judicial branch of government and made the proper decision not to legislate from the bench.

Throughout his ruling, Franke makes references to issues he has with the substance and motives of the Franklin ordinances. However, after each concern raised, he then offers a qualifier, a reason why he can’t support the arguments raised by Steve Hanke, the offender who moved into Franklin in violation of the ordinances. Let’s go through the court document.

Hanke contended that restrictions like those in the Franklin ordinances “actually increase the risk that a child will be sexually assaulted.” In addressing Hanke’s claim, Franke’s sentiment about the Franklin ordinances, I believe, comes through:


"The 'evidence' relied on by the defendant is a confusing mix of reports, studies, expert opinions and logical arguments, some of which are conveyed to the court through press releases and newspaper articles. This evidence has not been the subject of a hearing or trial where the relevance and integrity of the studies and opinions could be explored. While defendant has no real 'evidence,' he does have rather compelling arguments as to why the restrictions are unlikely to accomplish their stated purpose. The material relied on by the defendant reflects a number of opinions held by professionals or groups with some degree of relevant expertise."


Then comes Franke’s qualifier:


"However, unless such 'expert opinions' reflect studies that establish facts and inferences that cannot be debated, such expert cannot trump the judgment of a legislative body."


Franke then cites three studies Hanke claims show that the location of a sexual offender’s residence is not at all related to whether or not that person will reoffend. Hanke writes, with what could be considered personal opinion:


"A review of these documents raises a host of obvious questions about whether any conclusions can be drawn concerning the effectiveness of Franklin’s residency restrictions. The studies themselves, as well as the expert opinions that recycle this limited data, only purport to demonstrate that there is no evidence that residency requirements work."


Then, the qualifier:


"But the burden is not on the City to prove that ordinances will work. The burden is on the defendant to prove that there is no rational basis for the belief that the ordinances will accomplish their intended purpose."


Franke then writes that Hanke made repeated references to evidence from Iowa that residency restrictions there led to a dramatic increase in the number of sex offenders who did not comply with state registration requirements. This is a common argument against residency rules. Hanke also argued restrictions work against rehabilitation efforts. Franke’s response:


"As troublesome as these concerns may be, a court cannot give them weight unless the defendant demonstrates by undisputed evidence that the law will do more harm than good. No such evidence exists in this case."


Next come Hanke’s argument that in the majority of child sexual assaults, the perpetrator has a trusty relationship with the victim, an argument the city of Franklin didn’t dispute. Franke writes:


"Suggesting that the typical child sex offender poses a risk of assaulting children as they walk home from school creates a bogeyman that does not really exist. Leaders who take credit for keeping such bogeymen more than 2000 feet from a school unnecessarily promote fear and give the community a false sense of security. Protecting children from the real danger can only be accomplished by educating children about such things and by the efforts of parents and others who are close to a child."


Then, the qualifier:



"While these arguments might be persuasive as matter of public policy, they are ineffective as a matter of due process law. A city council is not constitutionally barred from attempting to solve a small part of a problem simply because it cannot or does not attempt to solve the 'larger' part of a problem."


Franke then jumps right back on his soap box:


"The Franklin ordinances neither eliminate nor minimize access to children, and significant 'common sense' questions arise as to whether residency restrictions make any difference. It seems reasonable to assume that child traffic increases as one gets closer to places children visit, but in a city where children reside in all neighborhoods, how much difference is there, and does a small reduction in access to children mean any reduction in the risk of an offense? It seems reasonable to assume that putting sex offenders slightly farther away from schools might make it slightly more difficult for an offender to go to that area, but is there any reason to think this reduces the risk of an assault? One does not need the defendant’s 'evidence' or expert opinions to question whether an offender inclined to assault a child stranger is most likely to commit the offense right near his home?


Is it possible that high child traffic actually reduces a sex offender’s 'opportunity'? Is the larger number of children found close to a school really worthy of more protection that a smaller number found farther away? If Franklin forces its share of sex offenders into the unrestricted zones, what are the risks to children living in those areas?"


Franke has left no doubt about how he feels about the Franklin ordinances from a policy standpoint. Then, his qualifier:


"Despite these obvious questions and perhaps because the answers are so obviously uncertain, a court cannot conclude with any degree of confidence that keeping sex offenders distant from places where children congregate will have no appreciable impact on the risk of a sexual assault."


Throughout his written ruling, Franke makes no reference with any specificity to Franklin’s arguments in support of its ordinances. Instead, he systematically outlines his concerns about Franklin’s restrictions. Then, one by one, he lays out why even with those reservations he can’t rule against Franklin and for Hanke.

If Franke was an elected member of a local municipality or a state legislator, I think it’s evident he’d vote against residency restrictions for sex offenders. What’s amazing is that Franke put what troubled him aside and based his decision, not on what was in the ordinances, but on whether the ordinances were constitutional.

On July 24, 2008, Franke ruled that 
Hanke had 60 days to move out of his Franklin home. Franke ruled:

1) Hanke’s presence in a restricted zone does constitute a nuisance.

2) There is cause for the issuance of an injunction for Hanke to move out of the designated restricted area. Franke believes the risk of recidivism is low in Hanke’s case, but substantial enough to warrant an injunction forcing Hanke to move.

3) Franklin’s ordinances impose fines ranging from $1 to $2500 per day for every day an offender is in violation. Franke imposed a fine $40 per day dating back to June 1, 2007 up until September 22, 2008. Hanke has 60 days to move out of the restricted area. That date would be September 22, 2008.

4) The judge stayed the imposition of fines until September 22, 2008, the latest date Hanke has to move out of the restricted area. If Hanke has not moved out by then, he will be fined $500 per day from September 22, 2008 and thereafter plus the $40 per day from June 1, 2007 to September 22, 2008 until he moves out.

Hanke asked for more time to find a place to live. His request was denied. Hanke did move out in time, barely, to a motel on Highway 100 in Greenfield. Ironically, Greenfield is grappling with whether or not to enact an ordinance similar to Franklin's.

Again,
Franke’s ruling was amazing because of his restraint in exhibiting judicial activism. For that, Franke deserves credit, and many thanks.
I have publicly criticized Judge Franke in the past and worried about how he would rule. He made the right decisions.

But there are other, bigger heroes, starting with the people of Franklin, the Franklin-based Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin, The Franklin Common Council and the Mayor, and especial Alderman Steve Olson, the architect of Franklin’s ordinance, and yes, state Senator Mary Lazich, who set the table for the creation of the Franklin ordinance through her collaboration with Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin to author anti-sex predator legislation that became law in Wisconsin.

The winners are every single child in the state of Wisconsin and their parents.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008

1) FRANKLIN WINS, STEVE HANKE LOSES
2) MAYOR TAYLOR TAKES THE PLEDGE, AND KEEPS IT
3) WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
4) FRANKLIN'S UGLY MESS: FOUNTAINS OR THE FOXES
5) TOM TAYLOR IS RE-ELECTED....AND HOW
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7)  BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) 
THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) 
BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE

Heroes of 2008: Michael Monsoor


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The ultimate act of heroism.

Heroes of 2008: Kenton Stufflebeam


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

W.C. Fields wouldn't have liked Kenton.

Heroes of 2008: Terry and Mary Briscoe


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Wonderful generosity.

Heroes of 2008: Steven Christofferson


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Tears from the heart for a fallen soldier.

Heroes of 2008: Jason Sadler


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Moviemaker

Heroes of 2008: Hannah


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Quite a dog!

Heroes of 2008: Women college softball players


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Make sure you watch the video

Heroes of 2008: Dale Davis


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Perfect!

Heroes of 2008: Melissa Stockwell


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Iraq War Vet.........swimmer.

Heroes of 2008: Sgt. Merlin German


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The Miracle Man

Here's more (Caution: Contains graphic photo)

Heroes of 2008: John Challis


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Courageous teen.

Heroes of 2008: Strangers


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

 They were at a soccer game.

Heroes of 2008: Jin Jing


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Disabled torch bearer

Heroes of 2008: Anthony Rueda


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Milwaukee firefighter

Heroes of 2008: Norma Haddad


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

And the family that helped her.

Heroes of 2008: Flood heroes


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

"Doing what they can"

Heroes of 2008: Lisa Harrell


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Disabled torch bearer.

Heroes of 2008: Boy Scouts


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Victims.........and survivors.

Heroes of 2008: Jenny Masche


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Supermom

Heroes of 2008: A sports bra


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Well actually, it was more this woman's ingenuity.

Heroes of 2008: Allan Kieta


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Don't mess with him!

Heroes of 2008: Johnny Depp


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

He kept his promise

Heroes of 2008: Joseph Dwyer


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

His photo touched many

Heroes of 2008: Not your ordinary birth


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The heroes: those who made this possible

Heroes of 2008: Chellsie Memmel


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The pride of West Allis

Heroes of 2008: Kelley Becherer


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The pride of Sheboygan

Heroes of 2008: Disney housekeepers


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Talk about your pixie dust!

Heroes of 2008: Postal worker


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Aided ID theft investigation

Heroes of 2008: Amazing doctors


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Doctors work inside mother's womb to save twins

Heroes of 2008: If you mention Michael Phelps...


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

You have to include this guy........and this woman.

Here's more.

Heroes of 2008: New Yorkers


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

The rescuers .....and the woman they tried to save.

Heroes of 2008: Steve Oswald


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

For doing what few others would

Heroes of 2008: Angels


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Good Samaritans help little girl

Heroes of 2008: Jane and Tim Strand


THROUGHOUT THE DAY, A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE HEROES OF 2008

Mother and son


This is our final HEROES entry. I hope you've enjoyed.

Goodbye 2008


Thank you very much for patronizing my blog. Jennifer and I appreciate your support and kindness. We hope you have a blessed, prosperous and healthy New Year! We close the year in the traditional way, with Andre Rieu.

Read more

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Here's to a healthy and peaceful 2009.


And in case you missed them during the blizzard of HEROES blogs yesterday, here are:

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN NEWS STORIES OF 2008: #1

2008 Year-end edition of Week-ends

PHOTO OF THE YEAR-2008

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