Friday, May 30, 2014

Peaceful World

What a difference 2 years make. This yard was well on its way to toast at this time in 2012.



Dictionary Check: Skyrocket


Meat prices are skyrocketing.  (The Atlantic, 5/30/2014)

The threshold for 'skyrocket' is 10% over the course of a year?   If your plans for this weekend include barbecuing a platter of pork chops and sizzling some steaks, get ready to pay up: Meat prices have skyrocketed nearly 10 percent compared to this time last year.

OK, let's say a New York strip cost $12.99 a year ago.  Now it'll set me back $14.29.

Does this column graph illustrate "skyrocket" for you?


Better to say, simply, meat prices have increased 10%.

Another Case of Overcompensation


Read about the mission of Open Carry Texas.

I think #4 might be a non-starter.

Related post:
Probably not a big resume enhancer.  (3/17/2014)

The Heroin Scourge Shows No Signs of Abating

Woman shoots heroin at busy crossroads. (Reedsburg Times-Press, 5/29/2014)

A very public display of suffering “I think that public displays of this type of abuse are relatively rare, but heroin is at an epidemic level in this, and probably every, area,” Becker said. “Normally these folks suffer with this addiction in private and unfortunately die from it at some point."


 
Related posts:
An increasingly steeper red line: Heroin-related overdose deaths in Wisconsin.  (4/15/2014)
Heroin at the Ann Arbor District Library.  (3/18/2014)
Hudson Wisconsin as the face of America's heroin scourge.  (2/11/2014)
Wisconsin heroin crisis.  (12/8/2013)

Marshfield Library/Community Center Construction Pushed Back to 2016

From 2013



Construction of planned public library delayed to 2016.   (Marshfield News Herald, 5/29/2014)

The project.  The new Library and Community Center is a collaboration between the city and community members with the city budgeting $3 million of the total $7 million to construct a new library and renovate the existing library into a community center. A common lobby will connect the two buildings. The council approved a $3 million allocation because it will not raise the tax rate based on projections completed by the city’s financial consulting firm.

The Library and Community Center Project Committee deadline has been extended to September 30, 2015.  To date, the fundraising committee has raised $1,800,000.

Related articles:
The Marshfield Common Council takes a deeper look at the library/community center project.  (8/16/214)
Point/counterpoint.  (4/26/2012)
Latest version of Marshfield capital improvement program reduces library/community center contribution by $5 Million (4/25/2012)
Marshfield City Council supports new library but questions concept of community center. (1/25/2012)
Marshfield library/community center project continues to move forward. (11/12/2011)
Design development for new library/community center.  (9/15/2011)
Better to plan for a new library now than when the roof starts to leak.  (11/12/2010)
Design development in progress.  (11/9/2010)
Community input sought for library improvement plans.  (6/9/2010)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Waiting for our Peonies to Pop Open




Once Upon a Time, Long, Long Ago....


Actually, the most recent Democrat to represent Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives is Dennis Moore, who served the 3rd District from 1999 to 2011.

On the other hand, the last time a Democrat represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate was 1939.  George McGill was elected to fill a vacancy in 1930 and re-elected in 1932.  He unsuccessfully ran for re-election 4 times:  1938, 1942, 1948, and 1954.

Except for Wyandotte County (Kansas City) and Douglas County (Lawrence, University of Kansas), the Sunflower State is decidedly red.

Tiedeman Pond Water Quality and Trails Enhancement Project

And here I thought I had the sign perfectly framed.


I'd been wondering why this excavation is taking place.  Now I know.


A view across Woodside Heights Park.


Visit the City of Middleton Public Lands website.


City of Middleton Conservancy Lands Committee

Big Blue Sky Over Tiedeman Pond (Three Views Along the Boardwalk)

What a beautiful day!




A Pushback on Green Power? It's Got the Koch Brothers' Fingerprints All Over It

A victory for the Koch Brothers in Ohio.


A Pushback on Green Power.  (The New York Times, 5/28/2014)

See ALEC model legislation on energy issuesEli Miller, Americans for Prosperity’s Ohio state director, backed by the billionaire industrialists David H. and Charles G. Koch, called the proposed law “a prudent step” to re-examine standards that could be a “potential impediment to job creation and job growth here in the Buckeye State.”

But Gabe Elsner, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a pro-renewables group that sees efforts to weaken incentives and mandates as part of a campaign by utility and fossil fuel interests, said the temporary halt could do away with the law entirely.

Related posts:
Are the Koch Brothers going all touchy-feely on us?  (5/13/2014)
The tentacles of Charles and David Koch.  (3/21/2014)
Shocker: Wall Street willful ignorance on editorial page.  (3/9/2014)
People like us, sez Charles and David Koch.  (2/22/2014)
Americans for Prosperity (of Koch Brothers) already pumping big bucks into 2014 election attack ads.  (1/15/2014)
They pledge allegiance to the Koch Brothers.  (7/3/2013)
Scott Walker does his masters' bidding.  (2/14/2013)

Expert Testimony at Trial for Wisconsin's "Admitting Privileges" Law



Admitting privileges hold abortion doctors accountable, physician says.   (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/28/2014)

The witness's procedure took place in 1995.  On cross-examination, she testified she obtained her medical records in 2002 so she could better understand what happened to her. She said she had read them numerous times but did not know what some terms in the records meant.

She said she believed the abortion caused her illness but acknowledged she had no facts to support that contention.

Background: 

2013 Senate Bill 206
  • 5 Senate Republican sponsors
  • 19 Assembly Republican sponsors
  • Passed by the Senate 17-15 on 6/12/2013
  • Passed by the Assembly 56-39 on 6/13/2013
  • Signed by the Governor on 7/5/2013

Scott Walker signs abortion bill; providers quickly sue.  Legislation requires doctors to have hospital admitting privileges.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/5/2013)

Check Twitter Before You Hit the Road


Despite Internet alert, Wisconsin State Patrol still nab speeders.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/27/2014)

For some drivers, speed is a drug. The Wisconsin State Patrol has been conducting aerial enforcement missions for 50 years, but for the first time the agency is publicizing the times and locations of air patrols through Twitter. As the summer driving season begins this week, the State Patrol is hoping motorists will get the hint and slow down.

History of the Wisconsin State Patrol

Aircraft program

The Toronto Public Library Opens Its 99th Branch

Rendering of the Fort York Branch
 
Mayor Rob Ford will be unable to attend today's celebration as he has been in rehabilitation for substance abuse since early May.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Here's Another Small Pennsylvania City That Has Lost More Than Half of Its Population Since 1930



I drove through Oil City many times on U.S. 62, particularly during the year I attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh.

Oil City was also part of the sports conference in which my high school participated:
  • Corry Beavers
  • Franklin Knights
  • Meadville Bulldogs
  • Oil City Oilers
  • Titusville Rockets
  • Warren Dragons
Naturally, whenever we traveled to Franklin, we saw numerous signs exhorting the Knights to "slay the Dragons".  And when the Knights came to town, we were determined to "singe" them.

Related post:
Bradford, Pennsylvania:  Home of the Zippo Manufacturing Company.  (5/26/2014)

Full-Service Grocery Store to Open in Florence County

$250,000 state grant will help re-open vacant grocery store in Florence County. (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation news release, 5/27/2014)
 
 
Most Florence County residents probably do business in Iron Mountain, Michigan.
 
Florence County is home to the Spread Eagle Chain o' Lakes, a family vacation spot since 1959.
 

More Evidence That Scott Walker and the Republican State Legislature is Increasingly Out of Touch with the People They Serve

Michigan, in bipartisan move, raises minimum wage. (Reuters, 5/27/2014)

Rick Snyder is not running for President.  The increase in the minimum wage was approved by bipartisan votes in both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature. The House vote was 76 to 34, while the Senate vote was 24 to 12.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law later on Tuesday.




As for what Wisconsin residents say.

Majority of state residents support wage increase, UWM poll shows. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/13/2014)

Start paying attention and voteBut chances of boosting the Wisconsin minimum by nearly $3 are all but nonexistent. Gov. Scott Walker has reaffirmed his opposition to an increase, and a Democrat-backed proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 has gotten no traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature.  (Charles and David don't allow.)

Mary Burke backs minimum wage hike Scott Walker calls 'job-killing'.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/1/2014)

Related posts: 
Earning minimum wage and looking for a place to live? Check the "Dumps" listings! (4/25/2014
Scraping by on $83.65 an hour.  (3/17/2014)
Minnesota legislature looks to boost minimum wage from $6.15 to $9.50 per hour.  (3/4/2014)
The minimum wage:  It's not the same all over.  (2/18/2014)
A border debate on the minimum wage.  (2/16/2014)
The MacIver Institute's Pavlovian response to an increase in the minimum wage. (1/10/2014)
The view from the other side of the counter.  (11/29/2013)
The minimum wage and the poverty guideline.  (11/20/2013)
Most of us don't buy into U.S. Chamber of Commerce handwringing over minimum wage.  (11/12/2013)
A look at the minimum wage.  (9/28/2013)

The Reporter as Press Release Re-arranger

No need to take notes for this article.

Scott Walker replies to Tammy Baldwin, continuing debate over BadgerCare enrollment. (Capital Times, 5/27/2014)
 
Office of the Governor press release, 5/23/2104.  Letter to Tammy Baldwin.  (408 words)

Here is what I found wholly or mostly lifted from Walker's press release in Jessica VanEgeren's news article:
  • Under my predecessor Governor Jim Doyle, there was actually a waiting list for access to health care for many people living in poverty. Now, the list is gone. 
  • We sent you a more than 1,600-page report documenting all of the ways that our administration has worked with stakeholders from across the state to ease the transition into this marketplace.
  • As we know, the rollout of the program was problematic at the federal level.
  • I didn't want people to slip between the cracks because of the initial failures of the federal government.
  • Second, the ongoing problems with state exchanges, as well as problems with the federal exchange, suggest there may be problems with the law itself.
  • [I]t only seems logical that concerns about their ultimate status be directed to HHS, which operates the exchange, or to a critical review of the law itself. Clearly, your status as a member of the United States Senate should enable you to successfully direct this comprehensive review.
[163 words.]
 

These Doesn't Seem to be Any Savings in Scott Walker's Self-Insurance Plan

Wisconsin is looking again at self-insuring state workers.  (Wisconsin State Journal, 5/27/2014)

Excerpt:

Better to have written  Self-insurance will eliminate $20,000,000, such as Affordable Care Act fees, but additional costs will more than likely wipe out this savings.

Here's the conclusion from the 2013 Deloitte report, Self-Insurance Advisability Assessment and Actuarial Cost-Benefit Analysis.  (Bold added)

At a state level, the gains from the absence of ACA fees, premium taxes, profit and contingencies is offset by the potential increase in claim costs arising from the absence of the tiering model. However, as noted the impacts vary by region.

A comprehensive RFP process is strongly recommended to further refine the analysis and validate the provider discount/reimbursement rates and potential cost savings. In particular, the impact of potential health provider disruption and any potential cost-shifting to employees due to provider disruption needs to be further investigated.

Based on the need to complete a comprehensive RFP process before implementation of a self-insurance arrangement, a 2014 effective date is not feasible for a pilot program. If the State decides to pursue a formal comprehensive RFP to select potential self-insured TPA/carriers for a pilot program anticipated to be effective January 1, 2015, the timing will need to be carefully managed. Such an RFP would require significant lead time and would likely need to be released in early 2014.

Finally, it should be noted that the short term “quick-wins” of a self-insured arrangement need to be balanced against the potential long term risks of a self-insured arrangement. The risks range from uncontrolled utilization and trend increases to catastrophic claim events which could possibly be managed through reinsurance at a cost.

Thus, any move to a self-insured arrangement needs to proceed with caution, and particular attention paid to the drivers of claims experience as the State becomes liable for unexpected variances in costs. Consideration of the impact on the Local program also needs to be evaluated as part of the process

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wisconsin Department of Revenue Dumps Some Bad News at the Beginning of the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

When they figured we wouldn't be paying attention.

As announced on The Wheeler Report:  "Collections". 


State tax collections trail estimates, 2013 amount. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/23/2014)

Expect an outbreak of pretzel logic.  The state Department of Revenue released tax collections for this fiscal year through April, showing that the state has collected $10.53 billion since July 1, down 0.2% from the same period in the previous year. The state budget has built in 1% growth for this year.


The year-to-date comparisons
are not as extreme.

However, a 1% growth rate means that total GPR taxes through April 2014 should be $10,665,871,780 - a shortfall, by my calculation, of $128,255,780.

Walker is not the only governor, and presumed 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, whose rosy budget scenario doesn't seem to be going particularly well.

Anything But Pacific: Bullets Fly When Local Control Goes Out the Window


Wisconsin: Makeshift shooting range pits neighbors against state. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 5/26/2014)

The wild, wild western part of Columbia County.  Gunfire has rung out at Swan Lake for years but neighbors say it's getting out of control. Gun lovers are blasting away almost every day now and leaving behind so much debris that the site has become a dump.

The problems underscore the state's love affair with all things firearms and have put the Republican-controlled Department of Natural Resources in a delicate position as it works to promote shooting sports. Residents and local officials have pushed for three years to force the DNR to prohibit shooting on the land but the agency won't go that far. DNR officials hope to release an alternative plan soon but local leaders want more.

To Be an Attorney, You First Need to Graduate from College

Walker unsure about effect of legalizing gay marriage.  (Green Bay Press Gazette, 5/24/2014)

An excerpt.


Related posts:
Your state tax dollars at work (to keep Walker's base happy).  (3/25/2014) 
Did you know that it's National Heterosexual Marriage Week USA?   (2/8/2014)
What else would you expect from someone who needs to pander to a Tea-Party base in order to keep his dim 2016 hopes alive? (2/6/2014)
Virginia Republicans hang down their heads.  (1/6/2014)
Beware of Cal Thomas.  (4/1/2013)

Considering the DNR's under-the-radar approach, I'd suggest it should worry all of us


Enbridge oil pipeline expansion plan in state worries environmentalists. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/26/2014)

Wisconsin is open for pollutionUntil recently, the Houston-based company's plans have attracted little attention. In one instance, an application to the state Department of Natural Resources for a permit to construct and upgrade pumping stations on land with wetlands failed to generate a single public comment.

Critics said the lack of response is because the company and the DNR made little effort to publicize the project. Both the agency and company say they followed state rules on such matters, which included public notices published in February in newspapers in Marshfield and Spooner, two communities along the route.

Not
  • Hawthrone
  • Minong
  • Stone Lake
  • Ladysmith
  • Sheldon
  • Owen
  • Vesper
  • Adams
  • Portage
  • Waterloo
  • Delavan

And not to mention numerous other communities along the pipeline route.

Chronology of WWA's oversight of Enbridge pipeline construction activities, November 2006 to May 2014.  (Wisconsin Wetlands Association)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Buyer's Remorse in New Jersey

Christie's Budget Woes May Hurt More Than Scandal.  (The New York Times, 5/23/2014)

An excerpt from the article.


What happens when voters don't pay attention.  And let themselves be bullied by a blowhard.

Related posts:
Christie conducts his own investigation, exonerates himself.  (3/24/2014)
Chris Christie circling the wagons.  (1/17/2014)
Meet Some Jersey Democrats Who Enjoy the Slop from Christie's Trough.  (1/14/2014)
Another storm hits Chris Christie's world.  (1/14/2014)
Pew Research emphasizes wrong element of poll.  (1/14/2014)
Bill Baroni, a regular Fred Astaire.  (1/11/2014)
Let's look back to September 2013.  (1/11/2014)
Chris Christie & the I/Me/My's (Appearing with Word of the Day).  (1/11/2014)
"Refreshing Forcefulness": A Euphemism for "Misguided Bullying".  (1/9/2014)
The Chris Christie option:  No October surprise here.  (6/5/2013)
New Jersey's Gov. Christie does not love and value libraries. (5/20/2010)

Frankie Manning and the Lindy Hop

Comeback for the Lindy Hop (Give Credit to Sweden).  (The New York Times, 5/23/2014)

The Lindiest.  It was there that he met Mr. Manning, a legend among Lindy hoppers who died in 2009 at age 94.

The festival in New York was named Frankie 100 because Monday would have been Mr. Manning’s 100th birthday, and the events include a parade on Lenox Avenue in Harlem.

He Lindied from Harlem to Hollywood when he was a young man, appearing in the 1941 comedy “Hellzapoppin” in a marathon sequence that many Lindy hoppers revere as the best such performance ever filmed.

Frankie Manning & Ann Johnson at 1:56.


Lindyhopmoves.com

"Love is Blue": The Company It Kept

AndrĂ© Popp, French Composer of ‘Love Is Blue,’ Dies at 90. (The New York Times, 5/25/2014)

Correction.  An instrumental arrangement by the French conductor Paul Mauriat reached No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100 chart in January February 1968 and retained the top spot for five weeks.

The top 10 when "Love is Blue" reached #1 for the first time.
 
The top 10 when "Love is Blue" spent its 5th and final week at #1.



Memorial Day 2014: What People are Reading in the Fond du Lac Reporter


Fond du Lac Reporter

Bradford, Pennsylvania: Home of the Zippo Manufacturing Company


Zippo was founded in 1932, when Bradford was at its population peak.

Bradford is located 34 miles northeast of Warren PA, where I spent my formative years.  Outside of a 9th grade basketball game, I never had any reason to go there.

This group certainly has some challenges.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jeanne Williams (1941-2014) Warren High School Class of 1959




Jeanne's best years were from 1922 to 1931 and from 1945 to 1953 when she cracked the top 100.  Best year:  1946 at #83.  She fell off the list after 1990 and has not been heard from since.


I'm sure they dance to this song at The Spot in the spring of 1959.