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Monday, December 31, 2007

Gazette: Why Ruin Council With Pay?

Possibly in response to my recent posting about a dubious article the Janesville Gazette ran on their front-page last week about the lack of city council pay, the editors opined again about Janesville’s current council-manager form of city government.
JG Editorial:
The city adopted this method of government during the progressive movement early in the last century. It easily survived a referendum in 2004 after critics led a petition drive to switch to a mayor and aldermanic districts.
The Progressive movement Janesville's current government sprung from should not be confused with today's Progressive's. Not even the same animal.

But, they threw out democracy with just one referendum? We now know that Janesville voters have to be pressed at least three times before anyone knows for sure what they want to do. That one loss was a window of opportunity for future progress towards genuine representative democracy in Janesville to build on, but because of a lack of marketing and organization the movement lost momentum.

The editorial published this past Saturday titled “Unpaid council serves our city quite well” also gave reasons why the newspaper thinks the council members are better off without pay.
JG Editorial:
But we like it this way. It's tough to argue with success.
That's a matter of definition and opinion.
JG Editorial excerpt:
But through the years, Janesville has been blessed with quality council members who desire only to serve and contribute to the community.
No need to spoil them now, huh? The Gazette supporting volunteerism for this expanding civic duty can only be traced to their greatest fear - another tax increase. I've never heard of money being a dis-incentive unless it's an undeserved hand-out, but this cannot be the case with all the praise and thanks the Gazette heaped on the council. But oddly, they also implied that if council members truly care about the community, they should expect no pay. The paper posted this anonymous comment on Sunday.
Sound Off Excerpt:
On Council Pay
: Your headline on page 1A Sunday says "No pay, but that seems ok." Then you read that some council members want money. They know it's no pay when they run for the council. If they want to be paid, I don't think they should run for it.
I would guess (conservatively) that it costs a council member about $750 a year in out-of-pocket expenses (transportation, snacks, etc.) just to attend the council meetings, and that's the glamorous part.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
"What was meant to be a volunteer, very part-time, citizen responsibility starts taking on the trappings of a professional political position," Berry (WTA) said.
Does this transformation happen before or after pay?

Right now it's easy to see the Janeville council duties include library and on-line time spent researching projects and decisions, closed-door meetings, the loss of privacy, the time spent connecting with residents and going on field trips or even losing a friend over a comment or a vote. Might not be full-time, but it's got all the trappings of a profession.

For obvious reasons I don’t see paying council members, state representatives or other elected officials wages and benefits commensurate for their time and efforts as the reason corrupting their duty to perform. To the contrary, no pay or low pay makes gift money, perks and favors traded with outside forces such as friends or lobbyists all the more tempting. Volunteerism is a great and noble cause, sometimes even a high calling for many honest individuals, but it has its limits. Some can feel burned out, cheated and taken advantaged of.

And it’s not a fair question to ask of current Janesville council members or candidates, about whether or not they deserve some compensation. This is a question for every Janesville resident to answer, and my answer is a positively resounding and long overdue “YES!”

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Company Driven Economy

A conservative economics teacher at a liberal arts college explains…..
JS Online Excerpt:
So I tell them, "The next time you hear about the evil oil companies, the evil Wal-Marts or any other evil company, remember that without them, you would not be at this institution, I would not be here, your other professors would not be here and the new building would not be built."
But can these companies even once create the jobs from the profits that pay the wages to pay our taxes without the “evil?”
Companies are the economic engine that drives the economy of the United States of America.
But there is something missing from this equation. It's amazing how the writer gives such refined praise to companies as the singular economic engine powering the economy. And as long as companies can single-handedly generate self-sustaining profits and reap all the credit, who needs customers?

Read another view here and here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gazette Editor Wins Liars Award

Some good news for a change.
Liars Club Excerpt:
A man with a stellar name, Greg Peck of Janesville, is this year’s contest winner, which will bring him a grand prize of notoriety and a parchment certificate. Peck’s one-liner involved the Wisconsin River, which he said “was so low this year that the local government started taxing us for more property on our riverfront lot.”
This sounds like stock Gazette stuff to me. But a Gazette editor lying about taxes and winning an award for it? Wouldn't you just know it?
Peck said it is ironic that someone whose job it is to uphold truth and justice won a lie contest.
Pssst. Hey, Greg, you can stop now – the competition is over.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto, A Victim Of Culture War

After returning to her homeland after eight years, Benazir Bhutto was murdered in broad daylight by religious extremists.
JG Excerpt:
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. Her death stoked new chaos across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.
This came as no surprise coming just two months after a previous attack. But how does the media know for sure that the person(s) who shot Bhutto was the same person who blew himself up?

This was not an attack on democracy, the religious fanatics want democracy...a theocratic democracy. It was an attack on progressive secularism.

Culture warriors killed off Bhutto. Bill O'Reilly should be proud.

War On Iraq Nearly 10 Times The Waste

The omnibus budget bill passed by Congress and signed by Bush funds most of the federal government for this entire fiscal year, which actually began more than two months ago. The original bill was estimated at $516 billion but expected to balloon to $560 billion as more money will to be added for Iraq and Afghanistan. It contains more than 9000 domestic earmarks, a phenomenal exercise in tax dollar allocation, but still woefully shortchanges domestic interests.

Some organizations have actually slammed the earmarks, and had they been omitted, the $516 billion Omnibus would have dropped way down to $508 billion, a difference of less than one-half of one percent.
Budget Contains 9,000 earmarks:
Taxpayers for Common Sense estimates that the 8,983 special earmarks will cost taxpayers more than $7.4 billion, though additional costs will become apparent in coming months.
Bush, who has repeatedly used his veto power to kick sand in the face of the majority will in Congress, signed the measure, which includes a $70 billion down payment towards a whopping $196 billion executive earmark requested for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 10 times the amount Congress is accused of wasting in America.

MSM Defending Bush/Cheney
Excerpt: The current right-tilted asymmetry of the American news media has made it difficult if not impossible to achieve any sustained accountability for any of the Bush-Cheney offenses.
I remember a time when newspapers led the charge against government corruption, deception and irresponsibility - now, they defend it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It’s Heeeeere! The Peak-Bush Economy

Financial Crisis Looming

After a slow and stumbling start fueled by low Fed interest rates following 9-11, officials in Washington are scrambling to try to prevent the eminent failure of Bush’s “ownership society” from pushing the country into recession during an election year. There is a strong feeling, though, that the government will need to do more to avert a complete meltdown.

And if that doesn’t cheer you up, perhaps this will.
Blown Away By Property Taxes And Assessments:
Then he got his property tax bill that had nearly tripled. His bill in 2005 was about $2,900 and was $4,600 last year. This year's bill -- $7,568. "I almost had a heart attack," said Gunyon. "My reaction was one of pure anger." His problem is not unique. The amount paid in local and state property taxes in the country increased 50 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to Census data cited by some U.S. Congress members when discussing the topic. During that time, inflation rose 17 percent and median household income dropped 2 percent.
The old “higher local taxes fueled by Republican Fed tax-cuts” trick. Stage two to the GOP destroy-taxes-on-wealth plan involves alleviating the very problem they caused by eliminating property taxes all-together and offset by a flat-tax or consumer tax.

Time to put on the rose-colored glasses and look for a democrat to blame.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Would Democracy Make A More Diverse City Council?

Sunday’s Janesville Gazette had what amounted to be an opinion piece titled No Pay, but that seems OK, posted on the front page. The news story (if I may call it that) contained comments and opinions from nine people not counting the subjective creativity of the columnist or the objective steering from its editor(s).

You see, the seven members of the Janesville City council receive no pay or stipend for work or attendance, not even gas money, and three members in the past two election cycles have vacated their seats. Several weeks ago, the Gazette ran a seemingly negative editorial mockingly describing what they believe residents must consider before they run for council. And surprise, surprise - fourteen residents decided to step up and accept the challenge for the three empty chairs. This seemed to have caught the Gazette off guard.

So, as if fourteen citizens are not enough, the paper then runs this absolutely meaningless story now, at the beginning of the election campaign. And instead of feeling fortunate and congratulating the plurality of candidates, they wish to discourage them. This article was an invention without cause, clearly designed to have only an effect.

But the willing participants also explained that Janesville city government is “progressive” in what seemed to be a half-baked attempt by the paper to dispel any notion of the city’s needs to evolve politically for reform.
JG Excerpt:
The city has held fast to its tenets even as other cities in the state have moved to the center.
Other cities didn’t just merely move – they evolved, leaving Janesville behind.
JG excerpt:
“Janesville does have this history of being a pure, progressive (government),” Dresang said. “… Other cities in Wisconsin didn’t really go quite that far. I think it’s a legacy of that period.”
I beg to differ. Legacy? Remnant is more like it.

Other city's progressivism went further and evolved, while Janesville stood still, frozen in a promising time for progressive reform - from 90 years ago! The city has operated under the non-district council representation/manager form of government since 1923, longer than any other city in the state of Wisconsin.

And it also depends on what the definition of “pure, progressive” is in this context. It seems the “progressive” described here is in reference to the “insurgency” within the Republican party led by Robert La Follette during the first progressive movement in the early 20th century. The goal of this early movement was essentially to create government run on a shoe-string budget and a chain-of-command never making a move or a decision without the help of appointed academic experts yet at the same time stressed voter control and the use of referendums. It wasn't perfect but it was a beginning.

Throughout the course of the 20th century, Republicans, and more accurately the right-wing eventually abandoned the pioneering Wisconsin Idea leaving the true Progressive movement to gradually evolve and align itself with causes of the American Left. Contemporary progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism, social justice and equality. Modern day progressives also believe that by regulating large corporations including breaking up monopolies, they could liberate human creativity, individuality and energy from the restrictions imposed by industrial capitalism, thus creating a more favorable business/urban environment. They also support the goals of organized labor.

This could all change anytime because true progressivism never stops adapting or evolving to our ever-changing world. It's not a stagnant political force that adheres blindly or rigidly to past mistakes or failures. It doesn't rest on its laurels either.

However, none of this should be confused with whatever Janesville city government happens to be based on today because in retrospect, they never "progressed" past the first movement. The establishment right-wing refused to accept the second movement and abandoned the movement altogether but not before using it to disempower the growing political influence of the GM labor worker in the city. Progressivism became the perfect foil for the establishment to keep control of the city's leadership while simultaneously politically neuter and malign any action by the working majority as a power grab. In my view, Janesville became sort of a "safe haven" for those renegade republicans. This is why many progressives today feel it is important to describe themselves as "modern progressives," to show a distinction from the "ancient" progressives (actually, regressives) that still roam today.

Today, students and descendents of the regressives in Janesville refuse to be labeled or stereotyped as partisan or republican, and have been known to occasionally describe themselves as politically "eclectic."

Janesville voters need to base their choice for council on new ideas, individuality, consistent ideology, energy, commitment, passion and yes, a little controversy. Forget about the personality, that's personal, and if you're serious about the change diversity will bring, it's time to buffer your sensitivities.

If political diversity in Janesville city government is the goal, people need to stop replacing the outgoing council members with establishment clones. With fourteen choices for three seats, it’s time to ask the right questions and listen for the diverse answer. Again don’t let negativity from the clone supporters change your mind.

Note: The criticism and opinion in this posting is not directed towards the participants or journalist. This is all about the motive, message, placement and intentions this miscarriage of news represents.


Hugo Chavez Calling For Free Trade

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presided Friday at a regional petroleum conference in Cuba, pressing his efforts for genuine free markets by suggesting more of his neighbors could pay for cheap oil with goods and services, in lieu of cash.
“Free trade doesn’t exist,” he said, insisting Petrocaribe was based on fairness and promoting social equality – not profit margins.
The nerve of this guy!
Saudi Rape Victim Pardoned
I know, I know, this is already a week old, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Generous King pardons rape victim for violating religious law.
“President Bush expressed anger at the sentence earlier this month, saying he wondered how he would react if it had been one of his daughters. But he said he had not made his views known directly to the Saudi king, a U.S. ally.”
Bush wonders how he would react?

Jimmy Carter "Cheney a militant."
The 2002 winner of the Nobel peace prize accused Mr. Bush of making up his own definition of torture and the hawkish vice president, Dick Cheney, of being a "militant".

America's Hall Of Shame
What’s worse? Torture or steroid use? Bush can’t say whether water-boarding is torture, but he sure knows that steroids are bad, bad….bad.
Bush Concerned About Baseball Image:
U.S. President George Bush said Friday he was "troubled" by allegations of rampant steroid use, as outlined in Senator George Mitchell's report, and urged players who "violate their bodies" to clean up for the sake of young fans.

Oprah A Racist?
“So the fact that I would endorse Barack Obama and the fact that I would support Barack Obama,” Ms. Winfrey added, “I have not one negative thing to say about Hillary Clinton.”
Some right-wing knuckle-draggers have said her failure to bash the opposition qualifies Oprah’s racism with the logic that if you have nothing “bad” to say about Clinton who is white, or Obama who is black – all the while endorsing Obama, then the only difference must be race.

Oprah is the mascot for “individuality.” We can take her endorsement or leave it. But calling her support for Obama an endorsement based on race is a vicious assumption. She did not endorse Jesse Jackson, Sharpton or Carol Mosely-Braun during their presidential campaigns. This makes Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama all the more dynamic and special. She marches to no ones beat but her own – wish I can say that for more people.

Read “fair and balanced” O’Reilly and Malkin complain that Oprah’s not fair and balanced.
Rove gets a tell-all book deal? More like a cover-it-all-up book deal.
California may release 20,000 prisoners:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering the early release of more than 20,000 low-risk prison inmates from the nation's largest prison system as a way to save money amid a worsening budget crisis, a newspaper reported Thursday.
California is a lot closer to Wisconsin than many people might think.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Don't believe In God? You Must be Crazy

A Janesville high school student tore up pages from a Bible during class earlier this month, quoted verses and exercised his freedom of expression. Then quietly sat down.
JG Excerpt:
The student was suspended, his mother said. She was told he couldn’t return to school until he had undergone a psychological evaluation. He was out of school for a week.
Read additional Gazette editorial
Some in the class apparently feared the boy might finish his speech by pulling out a weapon.
Why weren't the accusing fearful kids suspended for creating controversy and hate by negatively stereotyping the expressive student.

I'm also under the impression this entire classroom episode was a requested project, the student did not just act this out of the blue.

Read more opinion here and here and again here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Billionaire Ken Hendricks Dies After Fall

JG Excerpt:
Ken Hendricks, the Janesville native who rose from roofer's son to roofing-company billionaire, died this morning from injuries suffered in a fall at his Afton home Thursday night.
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Ken Hendricks. Through it all, I’ve always held out a certain amount of optimism about the legacy he might leave behind. This goes to show - you never know what’s in store.

Beloit Daily News Story Here

Read AP Chicago Tribune version - Billionaire Dies Falling Through Roof

Local Matters For Budget Boondoggler

After being chosen for the House Appropriations Committee in December of ’06, Rep. Paul Ryan assured his core base of scrooge conservatives that the new post won’t change his ways.
JG editorial excerpt:
”If people think this will help me bring home the bacon, that’s not the kind of guy I am,” – Rep. Paul Ryan, December, 2006
They applauded.

But Ryan’s economic liberalism of insufficient government, "anti"-social spending and political gamesmanship along with his tax cutting policies, actually will cost our country more money and more taxes in the long-run. But local newspapers and other GOP or so-called taxpayer Web pages and blogs have praised Ryan and others like him for what amounts to a zero return on their tax investment dollars. Even jumps on the neo-con bandwagon and writes up the shortchange artists favorably.
To his credit, a search for the name of RSC Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), turns up no earmarks. And Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), along with Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), also will go without any earmarks in this year's omnibus.
To his credit? Ryan is usually listed among this group, and it's nothing to be proud of. As far as I'm concerned, we won't need representatives or a Congress if there is no return on our taxpayer dollars.

But now comes word that Ryan captured a $750,000 earmark for his hometown. What will they say now?
Ryan Blasts Dems for Earmarks:
And Ryan of Wisconsin, one of a handful of 30-something up and comers in the GOP conference, will send home $750,000 for the Janesville, Wisc., city transit system.
Pundit Nation:
Some people may call this pork. Back home, even Ryan knows those dollars often mean jobs.
......or votes. Plus, Ryan knows this one earmark probably won't effect his string of consecutive bogus porkbusting and taxpayer zero awards. And since he also preaches the "government doesn't create jobs" club for growth mantra, if he has any consistency, his earmark really isn't meant for jobs. Timing is everything and election '08 is only eleven months away.

But Ryan never was the pork crusader he pretended to be during the past eight years of the GOP-led Congress. So, it comes as no surprise that he pledged not to bring home the bacon to his constituents and then break it with the $750,000 earmark for his hometown. But, as much as I’d like it to be, Ryan’s earmark for Janesville Transit doesn’t come close to my definition of pork. The truth is, the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin has been short-changed for too long.

Take for instance the Janesville Gazette defending Rep. Brett Davis (R) for earmarking $4 million of state money not for additional law enforcement, a fire station or a public bus garage, but for a ….. soybean…… crusher……..STUDY. That $4 million amounts to taxes collected on 3.2 million packs of cigarettes smoked by Wisconsin residents and was pulled from a state budget of $57 billion. When compared to the $516 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill - Ryan would have had to pickle the Fed for almost $38 million to put the earmark in “Davis” country. Again, I’m in no way defending Paul Ryan or the amount of money – only the substance of the transit earmark.

Everybody has a different "sniff test" for pork, but when local Republicans write earmarks for the locals, their local supporters never call it pork. Because according to the local republican newspaper, Local matters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Janesville Seeking "Big Brother" Code Enforcement

The televised recording of the Janesville city council session on the property maintenance program was shown immediately after the aquatics study Tuesday on public access JA-12. You needed well over two hours to view them both, but if you lasted through, you may have been as entertained as I was after hearing what the city intends to do to “enhance” housing and nuisance ordinances.

Change Law Language To Get Inside Homes

Although city staff admits the existing laws have been very successful enforcing voluntary compliance, it turns out that the city attorney is not quite comfortable with the language in current ordinances. They suggested if a landlord, renter or resident fails to comply with ordinances, city officials would like…….
”……to have the ability to go onto private property….without going through the court system. That’s our current practice…to get an injunction.” – Janesville City Staff
It appears that the U.S. Constitution is not quite the model they have in mind to guide their housing code and nuisance abatement methods.

Unfortunately the session transcript is not published.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Efficient Landfill Policy Keeps Trash Out

Last week Monday at the Janesville City Council meeting a citizen approached the podium to address the council after their unanimous vote renewing wastehauler (tipping fees) contracts. The city contract it seems, is based on competitive pricing to encourage more garbage dumping at the landfill, not less, and places taxpayer savings at the core for success.

The resident, who I’ll refer to as citizen JB, gave a fiery speech of disappointment directed not only at the council, but also at the very policy that ultimately will threaten our groundwater supply.
JG letter excerpt:
City Manager Steve Scheiffer says the budget would be short $1.4 million annually without contracts. That's $24 per year to keep garbage out. How much is your groundwater worth? Scheiffer stated he originally vowed their will be no fees for garbage pick-up. Where's his flexibility? -- Citizen JB
Why, how and when did this become policy? Even if we add 50% to the $24 for error, it's still only $36 a year.
JG Excerpt:
Combined, the three contracts guarantee a minimum of 95,000 tons of waste and more than $1.9 million, annually, Whitcomb wrote in a memo to the council. Janesville’s landfill will take in about 210,000 tons of garbage in 2008, Whitcomb said.
Assuming these figures are correct, that would logically translate to nearly doubling the lifespan of the landfill if only without the contracts. And without even considering the risk factors of water contamination, general pollution or accelerated expansion, the city manager and staff think this is worth a savings of $24 a year?

Sometimes I am beside myself over this stuff. The city of Janesville gave away a $2.7 million water tower to a private development when this could have been a special assessment much like sidewalks, and then encourages waste haulers to dump tons of trash in our landfill for what amounts to a nominal savings.

These two publicly held assets, groundwater and landfills, are unlike libraries, swimming pools or other structures that can be replaced. They are highly vulnerable and finite resources. Janesville is very lucky to own and operate their own landfill and water utilities. They must be held and guarded – not auctioned off or used as political fodder for short-term gains.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Video Competition A Secret

AT&T Access Plan Promotes High Prices:
AT&T says it has kept the U-verse rollout plan secret for competitive reasons. If cable companies knew where and when the service was coming, they could blitz those areas with special deals.
Wasn’t that the whole point? Is this for real? The bogus Video Competition Act was/is hyped up as legislation designed to create an open environment so video companies can engage in competition to lower prices – but let’s keep availability a “secret.” We certainly wouldn’t want to give anyone the idea that we’re willing to lower prices in order to compete.

Read more video competition secrets here

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Organized Labor In School Classrooms?

Back in March, I wrote my thoughts about business executives and chambers of commerce activists attending Janesville High Schools under the auspices of Junior Achievement in an effort to restore lost confidence due to corporate scandals in the business world. Junior Achievement felt it was vital to rethink what and how children are taught in order to succeed in a global economy. Apparently though, organized labor is not included among the vitality's of a U.S. global economy.

A bill proposed by Sen. Dave Hansen, D- Green Bay, would require every school district to add organized labor history to their curriculum. The bill of course has its opponents.
Thonline Excerpt:
But groups representing school boards and administrators don't want the state micromanaging their curriculum.
Who exactly are these people representing our taxpayer school board representatives and administrators? And not surprisingly, the GOP also stands against introducing labor ethics and history to school kids.

Since corporatists and globalists have been given the welcome mat in our schools, I see no reason why organized labor leaders and union officials can’t even the score and offer organizational seminars and labor friendly educational sessions in an effort to prepare and inspire our children for the global future, and restore lost support and confidence in worker rights and collective bargaining.

In order to make organized labor the future, the very idea of the audacity of hope must be taught in schools - not something to reminisce about in history books.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Corporate Populists Want Freedom To Monopolize Media

Kevin Martin, George Bush's hand-picked FCC Chair, is trying to ram through new rules which would further consolidate media ownership and give big media even more power. Last week, the Chicago Tribune, one of the Big Media populists pasted a column on the subject.
Tribune Excerpt:
WASHINGTON - A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill that would put the brakes on a plan to let broadcasters own a newspaper in the same media market.
Who are they trying to kid with the title and opening sentence? The Senate actually surrendered to the corporate populists by confirming the Act in a voice vote which would merely delay ownership rules for 180 days and even after that it only wants to study the effects of media consolidation - after the damage is done.
Tribune Excerpt:
However, the vote might be too little, too late for opponents of media consolidation. The FCC is expected to vote Dec. 18 on a proposal by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that would eliminate the ban on one company owning a radio or television station and a newspaper in the same community in the nation's 20 largest markets.
This is written like it’s a done deal. People need to call their legislators now!! or e-mail the FCC and tell them we need more than one voice when it comes to local information, opinion and news.

Sign On-Line Petition. Time is running out!!

Watch Media Consolidation Video. Warning: Some bigoted and discriminatory language on display from vicious right-wing commentators and columnists - for educational purposes only.

Your Job Participating In Health Care Revolution

Three stories, all with the central theme of health care were laid out in 1-2-3 fashion in the Saturday’s edition (December 8) of the Janesville Gazette. The issue seemed to be one of those “agenda” drives designed in an ever so subtle way to steer the reader into a defensive frenzy over taxpayer funded benefits of teachers and local public employees.

The front page began with the headline title “Insurance looms in talks,” followed by the sub, “Teachers oppose paying part of premiums.”
JG Excerpt:
Evert said the board agrees that the district’s self-funded plan costs less than most school district plans in the state.
JG Excerpt:
Evert said that although the board is firm on premium sharing, it is willing to compromise in other areas of the budget.
The Gazette steadfastly perpetuates that the school board, in it’s efforts to protect the taxpayer is the agreeable party in the teacher negotiations. Flip the page over to the next one and on page 3A, the top headline was “Hiring freeze shrinks Milton police force,” sub-titled with “Union, city could face showdown over health benefit for retirees,” once again pitting taxpayer against the public wage earner over the cost of health care benefits, in this case over “gap” insurance to cover early retirees. The health care crisis it seems, is never directed at the health care sector, but only those who can’t afford it. But just turn over the page to the next one and the Gazette continued to pump up the same theme again with yet another top-page bold headline with the title “County might alter mid-level contracts.” This one snuck up a little differently because the reader had to at least read the first paragraph to get the gist of it all.
JG Excerpt:
Any mid-level manager thinking of working for Walworth County may have a decision to make: take the county’s health care insurance or take an annual $5,000 stipend.
The brightest spotlight is on the front page teachers negotiations in Janesville, and then finished off by the supporting cast of other top page headline players. The message of course seems to be that teachers shouldn’t feel singled out as the only victim of a hi-jacking, they are not alone. They need to go along to get along. All employees of the public and private sectors are being forced to forfeit or trade wages, benefits and protections for any sense of job security. The revolution is not in health care and it’s not being televised.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Government Health Care's Worst Spokesman
Why, weeks later, was Bush warning about Iran's nuclear weapons program possibly leading to World War III? That's …..misleading at best.

After seven years people still don’t get it. Bush IS OUT OF THE LOOP……always has been. It’s Cheney, the guy who wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for socialized medicine - who is running the show. NOW I KNOW WHY the Heritage Foundation, Cato and the rest of the unmedicated Clinton-hating neo-cons blame socialists for this fine mess.
It’s the home loan that was unaffordable
"When do my husband and I get a break? We were responsible and bought a house that we could afford," a Los Angeles reader named Ann wrote among the nearly 500 comments on's blog. "Bitter, you better believe it!"

Bush battling name-calling addiction
"There's a group in the opposition party who are willing to retreat before the mission is done. They're willing to wave the white flag of surrender." -- Bush Link

"The Democrats are the party of cut and run ...They talk tough on terror, but when the votes are counted, their softer side comes out." -- Bush, who's not into name-calling

"The most disappointing thing about Washington has been the name-calling. And I've tried hard not to do that. I've tried to be respectful to all parties." -- Bush Link
NOT name-calling should come easy to someone in the position of president of the United States, but some things don't come easy for Bush.
Abducted and Gang Raped - God Willing
Tribune Excerpt:
An analogous controversy has erupted in Saudi Arabia, where a court has seen fit to sentence a rape victim to some 200 lashes for being in the company of a man to whom she was not related. She was abducted by seven other men and gang-raped. Again, the Saudi court and its apologists have attempted to justify this travesty on religious grounds, citing "Islamic law" and values.
Good ol’ religious values and the seperation of church and state…………oh, never mind.
Money Trumps Peace
"One, many companies are fearful of losing market share in Iran to another company. So I spend a fair amount of time trying to convince our counterparts that they need to convince the private sector folks that it is in their interests and for the sake of peace that there be a common effort to convince the Iranians to change their ways, and that there's a better way forward. -– George W.Bush 12-4-07
Isn’t Iran labeled as a terror state, axis of evil, etc.? What are American companies doing there? If Iran is such a major threat to America – why is Bush so concerned about the profits or safety of foreign companies?
Clinton Losing Traction?
Clinton Iranian Diplomacy Vote:
Clinton said her vote was aimed at encouraging diplomacy and deterring the administration from using military force against the Iranians. She sharply objected to Edwards's characterization of the vote. "I understand politics, and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far," Clinton said. "Having designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, we've actually seen some changes in their behavior."
Exactly what changes? It certainly wasn’t the scuttling of their nuclear weapons program. They supposedly scrapped that in 2003, four years before the questionable senate vote. What Iran proceeded to do was call a parliamentary session of their own and label the CIA and U.S Army as terror organizations. How's that for encouraging diplomacy? It’s one thing gravitating toward the center to get support but this vote by Hillary appeases only apocalyptic right-wing neanderthals – Clinton doesn't need their support to win.
Fear This
An Observation: I do a lot of image searching on Google and it seems no matter what keywords I use with "cartoon", the image of the turbin-wearing bearded guy with the bomb seems to show up. It might not be on the first page, but its there one way or another. For instance, I searched “doctors nurses convention cartoon” and it was on the second page. Of course the message is - this guy is everywhere and that’s what someone wants you to know. Talk about spreading fear.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

GM, UAW Targeting Health Care

If it's not a misplaced title, then it's a misleading one:
GM, UAW Set To Spark Health Care Revolution
JG Excerpt:
“We’re viewing it as an opportunity to work with the union leadership and their retired members to design a better mousetrap that keeps them healthier, have a better standard of living and reduces the cost of providing that,” Carter said.
If you really want to reduce health care costs for UAW union workers and retirees – you’re talking to the wrong people, they build cars. However, if your goal is to design a business model to cut employer health care obligations, reduce employee benefits to boost dividends and adapt an American labor union to compete with unregulated global labor practices and compensation - I guess it could be called a revolution.

Congress redesigns the automobile with CAFE, auto manufacturers
reform? health care, and mortgage lenders won't charge high interest rates ONLY IF borrowers can prove they can't afford to pay the high rates. Is the world upside-down or just sideways?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

With Or Without Nukes - Iran Has Oil

The latest report from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded Iran scrapped their nuclear weapons program in 2003.
Here's the bizarre closing statement by Bush at the Tuesday morning press conference.
Press Conference Transcript
Bush: It makes it -- the NIE makes it clear that the strategy we have used in the past is effective. And the reason why we need to make sure that strategy goes forward for the future is because if Iran shows up with a nuclear weapon at some point in time, the world is going to say, what happened to them in 2007? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? What caused them not to understand that a country that once had a weapons program could reconstitute the weapons program? How come they couldn't see that the important first step in developing a weapon is the capacity to be able to enrich uranium? How come they didn't know that with that capacity, that knowledge could be passed on to a covert program? What blinded them to the realities of the world? And it's not going to happen on my watch, Mark. And so, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working. I understand the issues, I clearly see the problems, and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace. Thank you very much.
Despite the findings by the NIE, President Bush said it did not change his mind about Iran, and that they still pose a threat. His reasoning was similar to this………Germany invaded Poland and bombed England during WWII, they can do it again. Once Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, what’s to say they won’t do it again? So the theory goes that since Iran at one time pursued nuclear weapons, they too can do it again.

The rhetoric of fear promoted by the president leaves the door open for another attack based on flawed logic as he verbally demonstrates that once we invaded a country on false pretenses – we can do it again.

The flip-side: Was Bush Behind Report? Bombing Iran, it seems, is now off the table. At least that’s what the Bush Administration wants Iran to think. Did Bush just reconstitute the element of surprise for an imminent attack against Iran?

This one press conference was riddled with enough Bushisms and corporate/war/country disinformation and partisanship and to keep a guy like me busy for months.

Watch Iran question video: Bush: Nukeless Iran Remains Dangerous

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

When They Say "Reform" They Really Mean "Cuts"

In one of my early postings from last year about education, I wrote that the quality of a public school and it’s teachers in Madison, Wisconsin should be no different than the schools and teachers in Biloxi, Mississippi. For this, only the Federal government, acting as a great equalizer can make up for the differences and shortcomings in local wealth and taxes collected. The goal of course is that every child no matter what race or economic class, would have access to a good education. The GOP followed by the club for growthers, various so-called citizen taxpayer watch-dogs and school choice advocates would like nothing better than to cut off this federal funding – under the guise of “reform.”

On the other hand and particularly here in Wisconsin, I feel the local property taxpayers could use a solid 50% reduction in the school district portion of their property tax bills – not resulting from cuts in spending – but a reduction replaced by a durable corporate tax. I feel that corporations should be at least half responsible for the education of their future employees. Again, a school tax reduction in property taxes is often promised by GOPers as property tax “reform” only to really mean “cuts” in school spending. Poor schools + poor teachers + lousy curriculum = dumb kids.

I believe Federal dollars are being systematically cut off in all categories of discretionary spending, with schools, the environment and security getting shortchanged the most. The tax cut mantra during the presidential national campaign has snowballed to the point where some people are seriously looking at a sales tax or flat tax system over the current sliding scale income tax system we now have. This is dead wrong. The Fair Tax promoted by some GOP presidential candidates including Mike Huckabee not only would force huge cuts in discretionary spending, thus endangering the country, it’s an income-blind tax that would raise the cost of living tremendously to anyone earning less than $200,000. More accurately this idea should be called “Fat Tax” and it shouldn’t be given more than a fat chance to survive. It’s a dream killer.

I bring this all up because as I was watching the CNN/GOP Presidential debates, one of the questioners asked the candidates, “What are the top three Federal programs they would CUT?” to reduce discretionary spending. Only three Republicans were brave enough to entertain the question.
CNN Debate Transcript:
“But my point is that we're going to have to reform Social Security, we're going to have to reform Medicare…..” -- Fred Thompson

“I would like to change Washington, and we could by cutting three programs, such as the Department of Education -- Ronald Reagan used to talk about that -- Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security….” -- Ron Paul

“… the first thing that I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service…. “ -- Mike Huckabee
Two things here, presidential candidates talking like this a few years ago would be laughed off the stage and called anti-American. Secondly, people are so desperate for something different, they seem willing to accept any kind of talk of change, radical or not so long as it's different. However, the reforms and cuts these three spoke of actually illustrates the philosophy of the same direction our country has been heading in over the past fifteen years. They explained little will change if you elect them.

The FDA: Just another safeguard duty of the government in a long list of federal programs underfunded well before Thompson, Huckabee or Romney and company commit to doing the same thing.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Annette, You're No Georgia

State Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler's case of judicial misconduct moved ahead as a special panel of judges heard arguments. Presiding Judge Ralph Adam Fine did not say when a decision was expected. But he suggested Ziegler's punishment would not be harsh, saying her misconduct did not compare with cases involving other judges who were reprimanded.
Leniency For Ziegler:
"It seems to me, Justice Ziegler's case is not even, forgive me, a blip on the screen compared to those cases," he said.
This sounds eerily familiar.
Georgia Thompson Acquitted:
I have to say it strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin," federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood told prosecutors. "I'm not sure what your actual theory in this case is."
Ziegler’s attorney, James Troupis, said she did not know she had been violating the code and has already been punished. And when you add this to the mix......
Leniency For Ziegler:
He questioned the timing of the allegations, which surfaced during Ziegler's successful campaign to defeat Madison attorney Linda Clifford in the April election. "Had there not have been a political campaign, there would not have been this scouring of everything and this finding in the first place," he said.
And there you have it. They’re practically painting Annette Ziegler up to be Georgia Thompson, the innocent victim of a political vendetta.

Read More Opinion: Ziegler Should Quit Bench

And it's always worth remembering the Janesville Gazette disendorsement of both candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court at election time. If the choice is between an irresponsible and unethical candidate whose actions have broken the public trust, or a liberal candidate with a clean record - vote no one.