Today is

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ryan Vilifies Constituents For Organizing Opposition

Media reports on Rep. Paul Ryan's listening sessions haven't slowed down at all yet.

The Janesville Messenger (Gazette affiliate) on Sunday carried a blurp about Rep. Paul Ryan's recent InsuroCorp listening sessions on the front page. It contained this piece of trumped up misinformation...
Janesville Messenger Excerpt:
Despite an effort by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Organizing for America and Community for Change to "overwhelm" the sessions with reform supporters, Ryan said the vast majority of those attending the meetings were opposed to the so-called public option for health care coverage...
Liberals "sabotaged" his sessions with love. That was about the extent of it.

Two things about these accusations thrown about by the media. One, the original email at the center of the controversy contained language that appears to be standard if not downright tame citizen grassroots rally talking points. I'm not making excuses for anyone but no shout downs were recommended, no violence was encouraged. That's a good thing. So they zeroed in on one word: overwhelm. No question it was a bad choice of words but what exactly does it mean? Well, we're not talking about "shock and awe" here.

And two, all is fair in love and war. I hate to admit this but I would do the same if I received a leaked email from the AFP or an official GOP source with the same information. I'd post it on my blog and send it to my buddy's radio station. Politics is a tough game. Except there's one glaring difference. I'm not anybody's elected representative.

Congressman Paul Ryan himself, or operatives from his office at some point made the decision to actively participate in undermining legal citizen activism when they became a willing link in the chain of misinformation. Everything seems to be pointing to his office. Bloggers battling the media or grassroot's citizen groups opposing legislators are one thing, but an elected official using his office to sideswipe constituents civil opposition? And exaggerating the claims and ginning up the already inflamed passions at a time when calm is required?
Community for Change Excerpt:
"The Office of Paul Ryan put a target on our backs during a time of incredible public hostility. They fabricated a story designed to incite hate and gave them a road map to our homes."
I'm not making any excuses for the community organizer, stuff happens.

However, because they became the target through deliberate misinformation and trumped up propaganda from a hybrid congressman/activist, the community organizer at the center of most of this attention should consider the heavy handed tactics employed against them as a badge of honor. Ryan is a hardball partisan game player and he's in it for keeps - be prepared.

Read more here >>>

Newspaper editorial here >>>

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Republicans Looking For "Great White Hope"

Tap Paul Ryan

[NOTE: Date on video is incorrect, should be Aug. 19]
Read more here >>>.

Mercury Marine: Never Waste A Crisis

No question this has been going on for years. But I've rarely seen such a blatantly direct approach to extort funds from the government.
Examiner Excerpt:
July 27,2009 -- "The State of Wisconsin cannot afford stand by while a major corporation commits an act of economic extortion in its own backyard," said IAM Business Representative Russell Krings. "Mercury Marine has benefited for decades from state and local tax incentives and public support. They cannot be allowed to use the current economic crisis to pit one small community against another for the privilege of their presence."
Took the words right out of my mouth. But...
FDLReporter Excerpt:
Aug.30,2009 -- If Mercury Marine accepts local government's incentive package to keep its headquarters in Fond du Lac, a county sales tax would likely be imposed for the first time to help pay the costs. enterprise at its best.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tallman House A Problem for Short Order Council

I don’t agree with the Gazette’s title Council gets behind Tallman House for the article on the recent Janesville city council discussion session on the Tallman House.

From my perspective, I see at least three of the seven council members have a long way to go before they will support the kind of capital investment this type of building requires in order to re-establish itself to the premier level it deserves. Two others are sitting on the fence thus leaving only two council members who appear to understand the dynamics that are at play. Because the future of the Tallman House remains in the hands of the city council is enough evidence to believe that we are probably going to lose it.
JG Excerpt:
Several members…advocated for an immediate plan to repair the roof, but the council also agreed a business plan for the house is a necessary tool going forward.
To give you an idea, they're talking repairs when restoration is needed.

I think asking for a business plan is a completely unreasonable demand to include at this juncture. Remember, this is the same city council that could not even write a break even rental contract when some of the wealthiest local businessmen requested primary control of one of the city’s most utilitarian buildings – the Ice Arena. And they expect the local historical society to develop a business plan now for the Tallman House before they consider repairing it? Get real.

For one thing, and this is extremely important, a structure like the Tallman House should be on a special “protected list” of the city’s most important historical, architectural, natural and culturally significant structures. But we don't have such a list. Places like the Tallman House, the Jackson St. Bridge, the Monterey Rock, the entrance gates and Devils Staircase at Riverside Park and even the “new” antique clock are just a few Janesville treasures that readily come to mind that should be protected. This of course removes any debate about whether an irreplaceable symbol such as the Tallman House should fall just because of a blip in the economy or a few council members don’t see it turning a profit. It should not be their call.

For starters, my idea or suggestion here is to first order the city administration to physically take inventory and photo images of all of Janesville’s significant sites and features. They probably have most of these documents already in stock. Then form a committee to mull through the information to develop our own “protected status” designation for our natural and historic landmarks and symbols.

National and state historic registers are great, but they don't have the proper protections in place. We could give A-B-C labels to designate the various important relationships and significance the site has to Janesville. For example, Rotary Gardens might be rated "B" now, but 40 years from now it could move up to "A." These designations would then direct what level of priority and capital liability the city must be willing to become responsible for. Once they're classified "A," the city should cut no corners to maintain the structure's existence. Of course this new system would take the financial decision on maintenance of the city's treasures away from the city council, as it should.

You might disagree, but I think the Tallman House has irreplaceable intrinsic value. It’s art, it’s iconic. It’s not practical or utilitarian. Probably never will be. But it is Janesville and Janesville only. It's a class "A" symbol. It's Janesville’s Picasso. We shouldn't let a few short-sighted individuals destroy the historic fabric of the city. Do it now before it’s lost forever.

The button for the Tallman House at the Janesville City Web Site links to the Rock County Historical Society which displays a picture of the RCHS headquarters (not the Tallman house) and carries only a small block of text referencing Tallman.

Did You Know? That twenty percent of all Wisconsin's buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be found in Janesville. Why isn't that marketed more? Is it because we don't care?

Is Ryan Killing Our District For Spite?

House Energy and Commerce Excerpt:
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin: up to 14,000 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 9,400 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,600 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $41 million in uncompensated care each year; and 51,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
Of course, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act is HR3200, the health care reform bill Ryan distorts in his "Good, the Bad and the Ugly" town hall circus act.

I saw this House report posted first at Folkbum's Rambles and Rants yesterday and find myself hard pressed to add anything to Jay Bullock's excellent Why does Paul Ryan hate the people in his district? Check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Government Scorned While Ryan's Supporters Reap Benefits

From the moment Paul Ryan walked into the Craig auditorium and received a loud round of applause was when I knew most in attendance were his hometown partisans. It caught me by surprise because a good half in attendance looked to be Social Security and Medicare recipients or only a few years away - the very people Ryan has been working against most of his career. Go figure.

Ryan spoke fast and loose during his well rehearsed power point presentation on HR3200 as well as throughout the meeting before taking questions from the audience. He offered no new information or willingness to collaborate with the majority party.

As far as attendance goes, I'm not good at counting heads but if I had to guess there were at least 600 people in attendance for Ryan's InsuroCorp meeting. Possibly more.

One person getting a chance with the microphone claimed to have a degree in accounting, described himself as neither a Democrat or a Republican, but admitted he voted for Ryan before taking verbal potshots at Pelosi and Reid. Who would'a known? Still, this guy was representative of the audience when he complained about the amount his social security was being "taxed" to pay for his current health care (Medicare, I suppose he expected it was free), at the same time insinuating we don't need no "socialized medicine." The crowd roared in agreement. This general theme was repeated throughout much of the event.

Ryan of course came pre-loaded with all the talking points and only used the word "insurance" when he really had to while overusing "government" at every chance available. Regarding his own plan, he described the $5,700 tax credit as a "subsidy" that would help families pay their premiums under their current plans. Never mind the fact that if you accept the subsidy, you are no longer a member of your employers' group plan. Apparently, Ryan's plans never add to the deficit because the money to fund "Patients Choice" comes from out of nowhere. And how does Ryan's "Patients Choice" work for employees of the government? It doesn't.

Neither does Ryan ever clarify the reality that the public option is merely government sponsored insurance, meaning the actual health care is still administered by private health care professionals.

A spokesperson from the League of Women Voters gently implied that Ryan’s rigid opposition to HR3200 is premature since many changes can happen before the bill is finalized. This was a sharp observation because Ryan has disengaged himself from the architectural planning of HR3200. Instead of working with Congress, he has chosen to present his own weakly written and unworkable insurance proposal.

Ironically, the one person from the audience who asked Ryan to take a stand against the astro-turf thugs disrupting health care town halls held by democrats was the only person who was heckled and almost shouted down astro-turf style by Ryan's cane-carrying brigade. But it was a mild outburst and the citizen was given the chance to finish her statement. Other than a few more rounds of loud applause mingled with a few grunts and boo's, the meeting went along without any real shout-downs or threats. None was expected after all since Ryan is a Republican.

It did seem like there were one or two applause starters near the center rear of the auditorium. Ryan could have passed gas and they would have clapped. But by far the most glaring irony of the event was the insanely illogical mindset and gullibility of the socialized pensioners in attendance supporting Ryan and his deceptive plans. As long as they got theirs (Social Security and Medicare, etc.), they are fully prepared to take a stand to make sure others don't.

SNL or Comedy Central can't touch it.

WKOW's report on the event

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Clarification: Ryan's InsuroCorp Clinic At Craig H.S.

Rep. Paul Ryan's Janesville listening session on health care was originally scheduled to be held at the Janesville Municipal Building on Jackson St.

It has since come to my attention the location has been changed to Craig High School, Large Auditorium, 401 South Randall Avenue to accommodate larger crowds.

Paul Ryan's Insurance Clinic Coming To Janesville

JSonline Excerpt:
Top donors for Madison Democrat Tammy Baldwin this year include the National Association of Retail Druggists, which has given $2,000 to her campaign. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have made roughly $295,000 in donations to Baldwin since she was elected to the House in 1998.

JSonline Excerpt:
Health professionals have given Kind $335,000 in donations since his first congressional election in 1996, putting them among his top contributors.
JSonline Excerpt:
The Janesville Republican has collected more money from the insurance industry - $493,000 - than from any other interest group during his 10 years in Congress.

There's no denying the numbers, they're out there for all to see. This is the ugly part of politics that I will always detest no matter who is collecting the money.

Still, all things being equal, certain facts remain. The two Democrats above have the weighted support from health care professionals. You know, the people who come between you and the insurance spreadsheet analysts. Paul Ryan has the total support from the insurance industry. They have little to do with health care and all to do with profits coming at the expense of our health. They're the ones who stand between us and the health care professionals. Who would you rather have in the operating room?

That is the stark reality.

"Everybody knows where I stand," said Ryan. We sure do congressman.

Believe it or not, the opening act for Ryan's "health care" event with the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce was a sales pitch coming from an insurance executive!

Ryan's Janesville insurance clinic is scheduled to start today at 3:30 PM. It will be held at Craig High School auditorium, 401 South Randall Avenue.

It is important to note here that the location has changed. Ryan's InsuroCorp clinic was originally scheduled to be held at Janesville city hall.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Media Profits Trump Public's Right To Open Government?

At Monday night's Janesville City council meeting, council members discussed the feasibility of televising city council study sessions on public access JA-TV.

The debate centered mostly around two key elements: more government transparency and how to accomplish the task with as little disruption as possible. At one point during the discussion, Council member Tom McDonald seemed disinterested when he made it clear that he was not inclined to vote either way on televising the study sessions. He later re-entered the discussion and in a startling statement that garnered at least one gasp from the audience, he expressed a deep concern for how the camera's might hinder the Janesville Gazette's (Bliss Communications) ability to exploit the public meetings for profit. He then went on to ask if any folks from the Gazette would like to share their view on this matter.

The city council eventually approved of allowing public access TV to televise the study sessions. McDonald abstained from the vote.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Will Fox News Take Down The Obama Presidency?

I had a moment of deja'vu as I watched Jon Stewart from Comedy Central call the hypocrites at Fox News "liberals" since the Fox cranks have repeatedly referred to protesters against the Bush Administration as "liberals" and "loons."

Although in a slightly different context, last year I referred to Fox News as a member of the liberal media and never thought anyone would attempt to tackle that perspective again. Stewart did and ratcheted it up to the next level. He stuck a pitchfork in the eyes of the phonies at Fox.

On a more serious note though, I believe Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh along with the rest of the jack wads at Fox News Channel are as serious as a heart attack in their efforts to take down the President. Our country is faced with the prospect that a single cable news channel has thoroughly and effectively neutralized the office of the president by repeatedly and deliberately spreading lies. We should not take this lightly.

I have never before in my lifetime seen such a concerted presentation of political activism from a television station. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with offering the occasional strong opinion and even mocking legislators and authority, it comes with the territory. It's part of America. Instead, we have a cable news channel that broadcasts 24/7 nothing but malicious lies, half-truths and hatred against our government. Unwilling to give Obama the benefit of the doubt after only six months in office, they regularly describe him as a racist and weak and have demonized nearly every one of his moves as a calculated stroke towards socialism.

Say what you will, but the Left does not have a fully staffed 100 billion dollar 24/7 cable news channel working tirelessly to counter the lies from Fox. As good as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are, their daily shows don't stand a chance against the Fox smear machine, and any move by the White House against the network would be viewed as an affront to the 1st amendment.

No matter what happens after the dust settles from the health care debate, we will still be left with a powerful cable news channel that truly remains the enemy within. Somehow, "we the people" should not let that stand.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Van Hollen Legislating From His Mind?

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement on Friday for refusing to represent the state against a petition challenging the constitutionality of the creation of the legal status of domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.
Van Hollen Excerpt:
In November 2006, Wisconsin voters amended our State Constitution to declare that marriage was between one man and one woman. The amendment prohibits our government from recognizing any other legal status substantially similar to marriage. But the general domestic partnership provisions contained in Act 28 do just that – recognize a legal status that is substantially similar to the legal status of marriage.
Wisconsin Constitution Excerpt:
Article VI, §3 - ANNOT.
The attorney general does not have authority to challenge the constitutionality of statutes. State v. City of Oak Creek, 223 Wis. 2d 219, 588 N.W.2d 380 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-2188. a valid reason to refuse a state defense in the court of law?

Look, I understand Van Hollen is not the one challenging domestic partners (Chapter 770), but by refusing to defend against a challenge based on his interpretation of the law's constitutionality, he has pre-determined that the domestic partnership registry under the amendment is unconstitutional.

How can an attorney general establish the unconstitutionality of any state law or statute before the courts have had a chance to hear the challenge and decide? What do we need courts for? Why do we need an attorney general?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dr. Cuffe or Dr. Kevorkian?

Doctor Admits Current Health Care Industry Inadequate To Serve America

So how many sick people has Dr. Cuffe denied care to?

If your answer is "none," then those 50 million patients he's talking about - don't exist.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Newspaper's Anonymous Column: A Place To Offend

Today, one of the Janesville Gazette editors scoffed at the idea of a conspiracy theory purportedly leveled against the newspaper and references this blog as an example of those who help perpetuate the paper's credibility problems.
Gazette Editor's Blog Excerpt:
A few months ago, I ran a column by Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit. I don't recall the subject, but I do recall that I forgot to change our little standing header from "Other Views" to "State Views" above that column. A local blogger suggested I did it on purpose, as some sort of conspiracy.
He was referring to this observation I made in December of '08.
Partisan Publishing?
On Tuesday, the Gazette published another op-ed written this time by Sen. Judy Robson titled Civilian Corps Served As Bailout During Depression under the heading "OTHER VIEWS. Robson is a Democrat.....and a woman, of course.
That's interesting. To bring this up after eight months have passed by. Time does fly. But calling a title a standing header and not a default header implies it remains (standing) until it is changed. The day before Robson's column, the header was "State Views" for Kedzie's op-ed. But I'm not blogging here to play "gotcha" with the Gazette, and one little editing mistake would hardly qualify for a conspiracy. Yet these little “forgot to” events in editing by the newspaper always seem to be driven against one particular political ideology or in favor of another.

Back in July of 2008, they posted an op-ed written by private citizen James Buchen in defense of the WMC under the heading “state views.” So when the newspaper posts an op-ed written by a democratic state legislator under “other views” it does look partisan. But a conspiracy? Not!

Hey, no big deal. Maybe that was another minor oversight or perhaps it wasn’t. I really don’t care what their reasons are now because these seemingly minor mistakes make up only a tiny, tiny portion of the newspaper's mountain of distortions and omissions I've archived here over the past three years, and I've missed dozens more. Yet, I’ve never implied any of it was a conspiracy. Bias? Absolutely. Do they use their presses to shape public opinion? I think so. Do they project a quasi-conspiratorial behavior and distort the news for their own political and social agenda? I believe my blog has dozens of examples to build a solid case for that one. But an actual "WaterGate" type of conspiracy? Again, I have no proof of that.

I don’t really pay much attention to these so-called header editing "mistakes" anymore. When I brought up a few examples on this blog, my point was to have people become aware of them and the power these so-called mistakes can have over a reader's understanding of important issues. Or you can just ignore it all.

Others can read my observations and draw their own conclusions. In fact, I’ve asked readers not to interpret some of my postings as proof of a conspiracy. But they are what they are. Besides, the Janesville Gazette is entitled to its opinion and I’m in no position to scold these educated professionals – they know exactly what they’re doing. But I'll take issue with their pattern of political and social bias and slanted editorial behaviors as often as I can and post my findings here.

Now back to the editor's blog. After accusing me of creating some sort of a conspiracy, he then twists and ties my observations in together with a phone call he recently received.
Gazette Editor's Blog Excerpt:
This week, I got a phone message from a woman who wondered if we let politicians listen to messages in our Sound Off call-in line. I'm not making this up, folks. I talked to the woman yesterday. She says she's in business with her husband, so she likes to share her opinions through Sound Off so as not to offend any potential customers. That's understandable.
The Gazette has a twice-a week newspaper column called "Sound Off," which is filled with a dozen or so supposedly random and sometimes offensive rants collected from anonymous phone calls. This column has been used by gutless cowards (its a double negative but it works) to tear down hardworking GM workers, labor unions, politicians, school teachers and of course their own neighbor while at the same time prop up a right-wing conservative political and social agenda. Yet, the Gazette has defended the column against questions about its programming honesty and mission. They have no intentions of shutting it down and have in fact expanded its deception by selecting on-line comments from their blogs for a Web-based version in Friday hard-copy editions.

It's like the lady implied, the Sound Off column is a great place where you can offend your customers - anonymously. Now that's the community spirit!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Local Media Delivers More Than A Story For Kohl

After the Janesville Gazette posted this short but potent article prior to Sen. Herb Kohl's lunch time engagement with the Rotary Club at the Rotary Gardens in Janesville, he obviously was treated to a little more than he planned for.
JG Excerpt:
Lorenz said some media outlets and other organizations mistakenly told people that the meeting would be open to the public, and that’s why people showed up expecting to get in.
Hmmm. What media outlet in Janesville would do something like that?

Although the Gazette’s article did not imply the meeting would be open to the general public, they also did not imply that it was closed. Even commenters on the article at the Gazette blog were confused and rightfully upset that the senator might hold a discussion on health care behind closed doors.

Regardless, Kohl caught on and became aware of the odd situation and quickly began taking questions from the audience. The Rotary Club was also gracious enough to grant some limited public access to the event. The Senator reminded folks that he is holding open meetings across the state where anyone can attend.

Clearly, the Janesville Gazette was partially responsible for the disinformation that played a role in helping enflame the passions of residents who rightfully thought for the wrong reasons, that they were being shut out of public discussions on health care reform with their Senator.

This was a classic example on a local scale of how the media played a controlling interest in shaping the tone and outcome of a rather insignificant event.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sanford B2B Is Now Sanford J2M

As reported in the Janesville Gazette, Sanford Corp., the company that owns Parker Pen and other writing-instrument brands, said today it will close its Janesville operation early next year and lay off about 153 workers.
JG Excerpt:
In order to improve efficiencies, Sanford said it will move its manufacturing and distribution operations from Janesville to Mexico. Administrative functions will be shifted to other facilities, but primarily the one in Oak Brook, Ill.
This is the same company that only a few months ago jumped on the Feingold-Ryan line-item veto legislation dubbed the "Janesville Veto" and designed special pens in hopes to gain attention for its lines of premier pens.
JG Excerpt:
April 4,2009 -- In a letter to Feingold and Ryan, Sanford President Bob Stoltz said he hopes the pens can cast some positive attention on Janesville. "As you know, Parker pens started in Janesville over 120 years ago," Stoltz said in the letter. "Under its current iteration as Sanford, we still decorate hundreds of thousands of Parker pens right here in town. "Most of our employees live in or immediately around Janesville, so our local roots run deep."
Not deep enough apparently.

In a broader perspective, Obama voted NO on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005 and wants to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs out af America. On the campaign trail, he spoke about revising our trade agreements. But then again, he wanted health care reform too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Newspaper Mischaracterizes Kohl's Visit To Janesville

Sen. Herb Kohl will be holding a closed meeting at the Botanical Rotary Gardens in Janesville today to discuss federal funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, and education appropriations for Blackhawk Technical College. He will also likely touch on health care reform issues with the group. The Gazette titles his visit Kohl to discuss health care reform in Janesville."

City Management Divided, But Gazette Is In Lockstep

Wednesday's (Aug. 12, 2009) Janesville Gazette offered the newspaper's spin on the local process preceding a split Janesville city council decision to not pursue stimulus money for a second water tower. In an editorial titled "Refreshing change is percolating within City Hall," the newspaper sees these interactions within city management along with the council's decision as a new era of change and openness.

Never mind the fact that the city water utility director's series of health and safety claims made months ago against the city's ability to serve one-third of its customers had gone unchecked and was seemingly irrelevant in the council's decision on funding the project. The city government's eventual guarded response following the director's warnings along with the newspaper's seeming cooperative efforts to de-emphasize its implications portend a very strange relationship between the two entities almost bordering on collusion. The water tower funding decision had very little to do with change or openness and everything to do with money. Instead of digging deep and looking for the details, the newspaper looks the other way.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
That council members could hear opposite viewpoints from both employees is refreshing and a stark change from the previous administration, when the staff and administrator almost always marched in lockstep.

The Gazette’s attempt to turn this controversial episode into an exercise of expediency doesn't surprise me at all. They seldom if ever rock the council's boat and have been and always will be fans of Janesville city government management policies so long as they can tilt the wind their own way.

For years the Gazette championed the city's management and council's lockstep march and unanimous decisions as a bountiful reward and model of a united and efficient government absent of political discord and run by caring elected residents and academic professionals. And much like previous councils, today's city council members defend management and their economic policies against most any public criticism. Little has changed.

The newspaper's editorial almost seems meant to fabricate change, just in case you ain't noticed it.

Note: Unfortunately, the Gazette editorial referenced here is not on the open Web.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gov. Jim Doyle Won't Seek Third Term

Politico Excerpt:
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has told associates he will announce this week that he won’t seek a third term in 2010, POLITICO has learned. By deciding against a run, Doyle, a Democrat, sets off what could be one of the most competitive gubernatorial races in the country next year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wisconsin 'rednecks?' Crash Their Clunkers

"The idea was inspired last year by boredom and a strong desire to drive something off of a cliff."
USA Today Excerpt:
Instead of "Cash for Clunkers," you could call it "Crash for Clunkers." While it may not stimulate the economy, it sure stimulated his friends and neighbors.
Watch Wisconsin "Crash for Clunkers" video here.

Water Tower Funding A Matter Of Savings Over Safety

On Monday night (Aug.10) in a close and controversial decision (4-3), the Janesville city council voted to stop the city administration from seeking stimulus money to seed the funding for a water tower in the NE quadrant of the city. The Janesville Gazette wrote about the council's decision in an article on Tuesday misleadingly titled Council nixes water tower, and subtitled 'Struggling economy cited as key reason."

First of all, this recent council decision did not "nix" or cancel the city's plan for a water tower. It merely directed the administration not to seek stimulus funding. Secondly, how could city council members vote with any confidence on this funding without first erasing any doubt about the danger risks implied by the water director's earlier claims? Regardless of the economy.

Not so fast you say? After all, ain't I the guy who raised a ruckus on this blog portraying the water tower as nothing more than a socialized gift to encourage development into the farmland? Well, yes and no.

Back in April, I was livid when the Janesville water utility director explained that since 2005, the city experienced eight episodes of inadequate water pressure that placed nearly 20,000 people at risk of either bacterial contamination or fire safety, but he never came forward during the time frame since to recommend the council deny new development in that area based on 'public endangerment.' Not once. What does the director have to say for that now? Well, at Monday's meeting he said he dealt with those water issues "concurrently" at the time of the new construction. But that's like sending off an under fueled airliner knowing full well it has no place to land at the planned destination. And then finally thinking about the danger and consequences while the jet is still in flight, only to keep your fingers crossed tightly. That explanation doesn't work for me.

Rather than rehashing all the twists and turns of the past about the city administration's portrayal of the need for the water tower, we're now better left to just consider the impact from water tower decisions the council will be facing over the next several months.
Voting with Steeber were George Brunner and Frank Perrotto. The three said a tower would improve water service quality and safety.
Because there was no closure on the safety issue, all the council members are now painted into a corner regarding future development in the NE or the water tower. Whether they want to believe it or not. The three voting for the funding based on safety issues should have to explain those safety concerns the next time a developer or parcel owner in the NE quadrant requests a hook-up to city water. Unless of course, money trumps safety. And the four council members (including the city manager) who voted against funding will have a difficult time bringing up the safety issue in future water tower discussions, lest they be accused of trading public safety for budget savings at this stage in the game.

Although they all seem to be in agreement that future growth does not play a major part into the decision regarding the water tower, the utility director said the city will eventually have to stop growing once it reached a certain elevation without the tower. The director at another point even implied that such a claim (for growth) is a false portrayal of the need for the water tower.

Despite the Gazette's "Council nixes water tower" claim, it looks like the council will still be entertaining a land purchase agreement for the tower site over next few months. This will be the next important decision to watch for.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gazette Editor Questions City Role On Curb Weed

One of the editors at the Janesville Gazette posted a complaint editorial with a photo showing a singular three foot tall weed that appears to be growing out of the joints between the curb and the road surface, and questions whether or not it is the city’s responsibility. No kidding.
JG Blog Excerpt:
Don’t these weeds violate city ordinance?
Is this the city's responsibility, or is the owner of the adjacent parking lot responsible?
Don’t these weeds violate city ordinance? Why they sure do, but only if they are growing on private property.

Is this the city’s responsibility??

The city is not responsible for tall grass or noxious weeds growing anywhere because the city government has exempted itself from the same laws they impose on their own residents.

In a section titled site planning and maintenance standards under the Janesville Noxious Weeds Ordinance is this little statement.
5. This section shall not apply to properties owned by governmental entities or where federal, state or local regulations provide otherwise.
So while you’re out there on your hands and knees pulling and bagging thousands of invasive garlic mustard sprouts from your yard and spraying dangerous herbicides and other poisons that eventually find their way into the Rock River and groundwater aquifers, the city’s own parks and right-of-ways of Garlic Mustard, Pigweed and Dandelions are packing their bags full of seed just waiting for the next windy ride into your yard. They have diplomatic immunity.

One has to wonder how backwards we've become as a society when government demands its citizens to adhere to restrictive ordinances and laws that are designed to hinder a natural growing landscape on private property. And we comply. Nature needs a permit to grow while we exhaust fossil fuels to comb a lawn or praise the cosmetic appearance of a chemically controlled garden. Good grief!

Sure, this all seems so trivial - to be analyzing a complaint about weeds when there are a multitude of economic challenges facing the city. But last year the city administration amended several ordinances with new language that not only exempts the city from following its own laws (that happened to include the noxious weed ordinance), it also allowed the city to trespass onto private property without a court order. The city council approved of such tactics. That was by far more obnoxious than some plant growing in a city parking stall. Where was the newspaper when it really mattered?

When it comes to most of its own ordinances, Janesville city government is simply above the law.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ryan Unwilling To Engage Evidence For Reform

A letter writer to the Janesville Gazette shared his story when he had the opportunity to ask Rep. Paul Ryan a few questions while attending the Rock county 4-H Fair. The subject was health care.
JG Letter Excerpt:
What kinds of statistics would he need to see, I next asked Ryan, for him to accept that for-profit health care is a disaster and that America should switch to single-payer system like the rest of the world? His matter-of-fact answer: Nothing could make him accept that. Nothing? -- T.B.
The writer went on to accurately describe Ryan's irrational response as the self-denying position of one who adheres to blind faith.

With that, Congressman Ryan has no ground to stand on when he criticizes Obama or Democrats for their seeming unwillingness to compromise with his rigid ideology. Why compromise with someone who has now gone on the record as being immovable? His blind faith is unworkable in today's political environment and a big part of the reason why the country continues to be polarized. Whether if a majority or a minority of his constituents supported a public option or single payer, it would be his duty to engage the evidence and build a framework representative of all of his constituents - not his own or Ayn Rand's. Or get out of the way and vote accordingly.

Paul Ryan was elected by a clear majority in our district, but if he will not do the people's work, he has no business being our congressman.

It should be noted that the subject of Paul Ryan's upcoming "listening sessions" is being publicized as "on health care reform".

View health care reform listening sessions schedule here.

Information on the "single payer" comprehensive health care reform can be found online at: Healthcare NOW!

More health care reform links can be found here.

Wikipedia single payer health care

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jack Booted Thugs Threaten WI Listening Sessions

Racine Post Excerpt:
That last listening session -- the one in Racine -- is featured prominently in a follow-up article on Huffington Post Saturday, and not in a good way. Union officials say the threats they've received "are punctuated by warnings that if organizers were sent to counter-demonstrate at health care town halls, they would be met with violence."
An official with the Service Employees International Union said she had received 50 threatening emails, including the following one, supposedly from a Marine, about Racine's session. (It's been cleaned up for publication.):
Huff Post Excerpt:
You socialist f---s have the nerve to say stop the violence at the town hall meetings when they weren't violent until you p---ies showed up because your n----- leader obama said to?????? When we have ours in Racine, Wi, I want you there. I want one of your little b----- to put his hands on this Marine. I want one of you to look or talk to me wrong. I'll be the last thing your ignorant faux body guards will remember for a very long time. You can f---ing guarantee that.
Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America's Dirty Work.

Children's Museum Lobby On Track For Local Aid

On Friday, the Janesville Gazette gave front page headlines to a privately funded group of activists pushing to prove how desperately the Janesville community needs a children's museum. The article titled "Not Just Fun And Games" and subtitled, Children's museum group hopes field trip to Illinois museum exhibits similar need described how the group hopes the field trip will further convince "community members" to support the museum sponsors efforts. But who is behind the children's museum and who paid for the field trip? For the answer, we have to go back to 2007.
JG Excerpt: (Nov.20, 2007)
Members of the Janesville Museum, Inc., steering committee are about to find out, thanks to a $30,000 grant offered by Alliant Energy and two charitable organizations. Alliant Energy, the Janesville Foundation and the Nancy B. Parker Charitable Trust approved the grant, which will fund a feasibility study for the proposed museum.
And of course, the idea grew out of a think tank at Forward Janesville. The children's museum it turns out, is just another project in a long line of pet projects designed to be built using a majority of local taxpayer dollars, but initiated and sponsored by folks who complain about high taxes and demand tax credits for themselves. Why are they so willing to enlist taxpayer dollars and government participation in so many of their projects? Simply because, from start to finish, these ventures are unprofitable. Members of Forward Janesville are not stupid. They are in business to make money. So for these red-ink projects, they turn to government (never mind that they think government is too big and incompetent) under the guise of a public/private enterprise.

The Janesville city council was first approached on the museum idea back in the summer of '08.
City Web Site Excerpts from Council Agenda: (Aug. 12, 2008)
Annual operating costs for such a facility are estimated at $648,000 a year with a full time staff of seven.

Childrens Museum’s do not operate at a profit.

The Administration is suggesting that the children’s museum be developed as a public-private partnership in which the city funds the capital building costs.
City Web Site Minutes From the Meeting:
Councilmember Voskuil moved to support Alternative 1 which includes $5.0 million in public capital costs and up to $125,000 in annual operating costs for the museum with the condition that the private sector raise $3.0 million to support this project. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Rashkin and passed unanimously.
None of this should surprise anyone familiar with Janesville's form of insider driven non-representative government. Yet after reading some comments over at the Gazette blog from the current article, some residents think that the current state of the economy warrants a stronger defense in the name of taxpayers. One commenter even suggested the council create a simple wants and needs list when deciding on the necessary things for the city. The fact is, it was just one month ago when the council re-affirmed their position by creating their own agenda which included continued support for the children's museum.
JG Excerpt: (July 10,2009)
-- Start a facility maintenance and replacement program to address major capital/facility needs such as Fire Station No. 1, the transit facility, children’s museum, aquatics, Tallman House and the ice skating center.
City council members adopted these plans during their July 13th meeting with little to no public opposition at the meeting.

I wrote my take on it here.

The bottom line is the children's museum lobbyists are doing all they can to petition for tax dollars in order to fund their unprofitable venture. They have that right to public resources just like the WHP. The Janesville city council committed the taxpayers to these projects in funding and in general agreement. The monopolized media has already framed the museum as a family issue, for the children and the community. The truth is, not enough citizens have the same commitment as Forward Janesville and paid lobbyists to organize and take back their local government.

It's time to give it up - stop fighting the power.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

RNR's Five Most Popular Posts This Year

To mark my 900th post written here over the three year existence of Rock Netroots, I thought it a normal curiosity to list the five most popular stories (based on total hits) since the beginning of this year. They are listed below in chronological order.

This one really surprised me. I had no idea people would enjoy reading the last sentence of the Declaration Of Independence and the message as it relates to today's health care debate.

TOP FIVE Return to Founding Roots In Health care battle. (July 28)

Cartoon created Aug. 6, 2009 by Tony Auth.

TOP FIVE Warning #9 Issued For Janesville Water (May 8)

TOP FIVE Past City growth Elevated danger to thousands (April 28)

TOP FIVE Can Jobs Be Created Without Subsidies And Tax Credits? (March 30)

TOP FIVE Will Junior Hockey Team Skate Right In? (January 19)

The number one all-time read page and hit champion at Rock Netroots is actually from last year just before Election Day Tuesday titled……Reject Ryan For Tomorrow’s Future

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Another Grand Achievement For Our Congressman

Save The Rich Excerpt:
"Astro Turf." Fake grassroots. It’s what you get when big business and rich zealots hire pricey consultants to manufacture public outrage. With big budgets, limitless manpower, sophisticated targeting, and a sympathetic media channel, it's not difficult to generate anger.
Think Progress Excerpt:
The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform.
AFP Excerpt: (Feb. 2008)
The Wisconsin Chapter of Americans for Prosperity announced today that United States Congressman Paul Ryan, will receive the Defender of The American Dream Award for National.
AFP is just one of several groups distributing the “Rocking the Town Halls – Best Practices” political action memos.

It did take a high level of arrogance and cock-sureness to lead the charge for a tea party in a congressional district you're not representative of and organized by a rent-a-mob group.

Bravo - Mister Congressman - Bravo

Read more here: Unruly Mob Harasses Seniors At Kagen Listening Session

And here: Angry Mob Wins Shouting Match

And here: Shut up, They Teabagged

And here: Freshman Democratic lawmaker ‘physically assaulted'

Guess how much Paul Ryan received in contributions from the health care industry over the past ten years? Answer here.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

4H Welcomes Hip Hop At The County Fair

A series of excerpts from articles recently published in the Janesville Gazette.
JG Excerpt:
Trouble plagues bars that cater to growing minority population
JANESVILLE — Hip-hop clubs have run into problems with the authorities in Janesville, which raises the question: Can a community accommodate the entertainment desires of a growing minority population without conflict?
JG Excerpt:
Quotes and Corvina's serve energetic, young crowds
Both bars had boisterous, dancing crowds, although Corvina’s had less elbow room and lower lighting, and an edgier, hip-hop-dominated sound boiling from the speakers.

“Nine-tenths of things related to hip-hop culture, sadly, are also related to gang culture,” said Matt Schreier, who runs Looking Glass, another downtown bar.
JG Excerpt:
New, hip act a hit at the Rock County 4-H Fair
Some were mesmerized. Others tapped the tips of their umbrellas to the beat of the music. Some seemed awed.

As hip-hop music blared from the speakers, the dancers took turns performing solo then sometimes together on a 9x6 piece of aluminum flooring.
JG Excerpt:
Republican urges party to welcome outsiders
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday urged fellow Republicans to welcome outsiders into the party ranks, not scorn them…
Hip hop equals black culture plus Obama times first black president minus republican party divided by race. Got that?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Paul Ryan Playing Usual Games With Health Care Reform

Here's a twist that's been working well for republicans and their gaggling gang of supporters in the gamesmanship being played against President Obama and congressional supporters of the public health care option.

The core premise behind the public option is that it offers the public an alternative to choose from along with traditional privately held health care insurance. It's an option. Obama has been saying all along if you like the health care plan you've got, you can keep it. If you don't, you can choose a different privately held insurance plan or consider the public option.

With that said, those against developing public-run competition in the health care industry swamped the traditional media, cable news and talk radio by claiming the government will eventually force everyone to accept the public option. That there really is no choice. Afterwards, they attempted to one-up the President with the question "Will you and your family give up your current health care program and join the new "Universal Health Care Plan," that the rest us will be on? It's a fair question only if you completely ignore the core premise of the public option. From the beginning Obama has been saying, "you can keep your plan if you like it. Lets just say Obama really likes the health care plan he's got. I don't blame him. Secondly, public option supporters never really claimed it is equal to what Congress gets. It's merely an affordable and competing option. Simple. I'm not defending it, or trying to make it into something it's not - it is what it is.

However, in this local radio interview last week, Rep. Paul Ryan made a series of statements supporting claims that his plan dubbed Patients Choice offers everybody the same plan Congress has right now. Yep, that's precisely what Ryan says. In fact he said it's literally in law what he proposes. But Ryan went even further. He said not only will the public get the same plan members of Congress have, it'll be at a better cost!

I don't know how important or fair it is to have the very same health care plan or coverage congress has. There certainly is a populist flavor to that idea, but I would rather see the impact of health care costs on their paychecks be the same impact as on everyone else. In other words, I would rather see Congress have the same plan I have, then have the plan they have - if you know what I mean. After all, how else can we make sure Congress has the very same experience with health care costs as everyone else.

But Ryan conveniently sets himself up by implying that because members of Congress would not be as well subsidized from the government as participants in the "Patients Choice", they (congress) will courageously and responsibly pay more and keep the plan they got.

We need to get past Ryan's typical blast of smoke and angling of mirrors and ask him to go on record with his own plan. Would Congressman Ryan drop his employer provided health care plan if by some chance "Patients Choice" became law? And since Ryan and his Republicans advocated a failed amendment that would have forced all members of congress to buy the public plan, thereby circumventing the option of choice, will Ryan drop his employer provided health care plan if a genuine public option became available? Or was that amendment just a another ploy to unfairly portray the public option and its supporters?

Companion article to this post.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Trickle-Up Clunkers Program A Wild Success

Detroit News Excerpt:
"It's a huge success," Ken Czubay, Ford's U.S. sales and marketing chief, told reporters Thursday.
WKOW Excerpt:
Late Friday, Senator Russ Feingold in a statement said he supports expanding the program, calling it a bigger success than anyone predicted.
Caffeinated Politics Excerpt:
Talk about a federal program that worked! Wow! The ‘cash for clunkers’ program aimed to stimulate the economy, and help the environment took off like a rocket and is close to running out of money in just days. As such I think it essential that Congress allocate another huge chunk of money for this program.

JG Excerpt:
President Barack Obama said the program has "succeeded well beyond our expectations" and praised the House for moving quickly to establish new financing. "This is a test drive," Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said of the program, "and people bought it big time." Bell, in Glen Burnie, said the rebates have "pulled forward a tremendous market."
Fox news Excerpt:
Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., wrote in a letter to House leaders on Wednesday requesting additional funding for the program. "This is simply the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spent during the entire economic downturn," Miller said Thursday.
The $1 billion program sparked over $3 billion more in economic activity in less than a week. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan voted against it, calling the program poorly designed and another burden on the national debt.

RockNetroots On Tweeter – “Cash for Clunkers? Is that a new Wall Street PAC to jumpstart the Republican Party?”