Coming soon, a new look for Dailytakes.
I've had it with Blogger.com.
Not so fast.
County sales tax proposal stalls
A referendum on a proposed new 1% sales tax for parks, recreation, culture
and transit stalled in a Milwaukee County Board committee today.
On a 3-3 vote, the Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee in effect blocked the measure from being taken up for discussion. One of its sponsors, Supervisor John Weishan Jr., had sought to substitute the 1% proposal for an earlier version that called for a 0.75% county tax for the four programs. Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. was absent.
But of course, sales tax proposals never die, they just get shuffled around. This pig could rear its ugly head again next week in front of another committee.
If Doyle's veto had been overridden Tuesday, Wisconsin would have joined 46 states that already allow residents with proper permits to carry concealed weapons. Now, supporters must wait until at least 2007 for another chance at passing the legislation, and many on Tuesday promised to make it a campaign issue in this fall's elections.
In the end, Democratic Reps. Terry Van Akkeren of Sheboygan and John Steinbrink of Pleasant Prairie were the deciding votes. Both earlier had voted for the bill but switched and backed Doyle on the override attempt.
Flanked by Gov. Jim Doyle and surrounded by about 75 friends and supporters, Sheboygan native Terry Van Akkeren announced Monday he is seeking a third term in the state Assembly.
Van Akkeren, 52, a Democrat first elected to represent the 26th Assembly District in 2002, made his formal announcement at Hops Haven Brew Haus, 1327 N. 14th St.
Van Akkeren said in an interview that if elected, he would work to provide adequate funding for local public schools and cities.
"That's the best way to control property taxes is if we send money from the state here, that then goes directly to help the city keep their budget down and help the schools keep their budget down," Van Akkeren said.
I know there aren't that many incumbent Assembly Dems left, but even Governor Doyle would have a hard time flying to all their reelection announcements. But make no mistake, there is no way Doyle is going to risk losing Steinbrink or Van Akkeren.
By not sticking to his guns, the Sheboygan Democrat ensured Governor Doyle will stick with him.
The data indicates the annual pension payments to county retirees averages out to only $17,600 per retiree per year. But there are more than 6,000 retirees.
"We must continue to do all we can legally to keep County pension costs to a minimum," said Holloway. "But it is wrong to portray all County retirees as receiving large pensions, as this data shows."
So while retiree costs are not the only component squeezing the Milwaukee County budget, they are a significant concern--regardless of whether the board will admit it or not. Their 'head in the sand' mentality is what put Milwaukee County in this budget crunch in the first place.
First, it will give Milwaukee County the highest (by far) sales tax in the state. If you go out to eat in the county, add 6.85% to your bill. Can you say 'tax island?'
Second, even if the voters passed a resolution (unlikely), the state government still has to approve an increase in the sales tax. Last I checked both candidates for Governor and the leaders of the State Legislature were opposed to new taxes. In other words, residents could be dragged through this entire debate only to find out that the state says no.
Third, it hasn't worked before. In 1991, the county enacted a .5% sales tax increase for 'property tax relief.' From 1992 to 2002, the property tax levy went up 52%.
Fourth, it is not that we don't have enough money; it is that the county does not spend it well. Our parks system costs $37 million. Pensions will cost the county $50 million next year. Free health care for life will cost $29 million in 2007.
The next best thing to a hug.
No word on whether Blockbuster will press charges for him renting DVDs under the name Michael McGee Junior when his name is really Michael Jackson. Or was that under the name Michael Jackson when his name is really Michael McGee?
Wauwatosa - A day before they were to go to trial, the city and Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee today reached a plea agreement on the municipal charges stemming from a traffic stop outside a Wauwatosa video store late last year.
Under the terms of the agreement, McGee will plead no contest to a municipal charge of resisting and obstructing an officer, and pay the $103.50 forfeiture. In return, the city will drop a second municipal charge of disorderly conduct, City Attorney Alan Kesner said.
(Madison, WI)...Prosecutors in the bid-rigging trial of the Doyle administration are exposing an organized cover-up by Jim Doyle's top officials to deceive the public over the governor's personal involvement in his Travel-gate scandal. Statements made by Doyle and his aides are in direct conflict with evidence presented in a bi-partisan investigation into pay-to-play in Jim Doyle's administration.Tough stuff.
According to prosecutors, Jim Doyle personally met with Adelman Travel officials about a lucrative state travel contract in April of 2004. In attempts to distance themselves from the scandal, Doyle Administration officials have said the travel contract "never registered on the radar" of Jim Doyle or his political appointees. Yet notes from the meeting specifically state that Doyle's "maxed out" campaign donor pushed for a master contract to be "enforced from the top." The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Rick Graber, says Doyle's fingerprints are all over the Travel-gate scandal.
"Based on what has been presented in the court room so far, it looks like there was an organized cover-up from Doyle officials to conceal the truth from the taxpayers," Graber said, "The facts we've learned certainly seem to show that Jim Doyle and his top aides were very much involved in the travel contract that went to their campaign donor - even though they previously said otherwise."
According to the Doyle Administration:
...Marotta said the contract was "very, very small" and never registered on the radar of anyone in upper management. "Nobody at that level would have ever thought about it," Marotta said. - former DOA head and current Doyle campaign chair Mark Marotta in the Wisconsin State Journal, January 26, 2006.
"We'll see," he said. "I don't know Georgia Thompson. I had nothing to do with the contract. I have been repeatedly assured that the correct procedures were followed in how it was done. The U.S. attorney may have a different view of that. He has a job to do, and we'll see what the facts are." - Jim Doyle in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 27, 2006
According to Federal Prosecutors:
Both Doyle and Marotta met with Adelman officials about the travel contract. According to a prosecution witness, Thompson said she did not know "how I'm going to tell my bosses it's not Adelman" after the company failed to get the highest score from contract evaluators.
Two Adelman Travel officials have donated $20,000 to Jim Doyle's re-election campaign - the maximum allowed by state law. Jim Doyle has kept that money for 128 days since canceling the deal because of media and public scrutiny.
So, you thought I was joking earlier today when I wrote:
Yet, that's exactly what County Board Supervisors John Weishan, Gerry Broderick and James White are saying.
Some members of the impotent Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors are suggesting raising the sales tax in Milwaukee County from the current 5.85 percent to a whopping 6.85 percent. That's a 17 percent hike in the local sales tax.
The humorous part about this proposal?
They are going to claim that part of this hike will go toward 'tax relief.'
Three Milwaukee County Board supervisors today proposed an advisory referendum on a 1-percentage-point increase in the county sales tax that they say will shore up shrinking county funding for parks, cultural institutions and the bus system, while lightening the property tax load.The County's current portion of the sales tax is .5 percent. These three supervisors are proposing a 300 percent increase in the County's portion for an overall sales tax increase of 17 percent.
The history of this proposed tax hike is almost as funny as the claim that it would provide tax relief.
So, in order to gain support for their tax hike, they had to hike the tax even more to cover more spending.
By incorporating public transit as a beneficiary of the tax, the new 1% proposal attempts to build a broader coalition behind a measure that could force a referendum onto the Nov. 7 ballot over Walker's objections. The new plan could get its first public airing Wednesday morning at the board's Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.
At one point, Weishan and a second sponsor, Supervisor Gerry Broderick, had structured the measure as a 0.75% sales tax. But the third sponsor, Supervisor James White, said that their proposal would not provide enough revenue for transit needs, even though it would fully fund all parks, recreation and culture needs.
The real reason June 6th is important, any year.
Minute by Minute Account of D-Day, courtesy of the
National WWII Museum
17,000 British and American paratroopers and glider troops drop behind German lines into
British Airborne troops take control of bridges over the
and River. Orne Canal
First Navy hands ordered to man battle stations. Landing craft begin to be lowered into the water; on shore, Airborne troops cut phone line and knock down telephone poles.
First bombers take off from bases in
to attack targets around the beachhead. England
03:00 hrs03:09 hrs
More glider troops begin to reinforce Airborne troops.
German radar detects Allied invasion fleet. A dmiral Krancke orders shore batteries to prepare for invasion.
The assault troops begin loading into landing craft.
British capture the Merville battery, clearing the way for troops to land on Sword beach.
Allied bombardment of beaches begins,
U.S.troops land by boats on St. Marcouf, a German-held island just off beach. Utah
German 7th Army HQ informed of heavy Allied bombardment.
Utahand . Omaha Beaches
The recent WisPolitics Straw Poll mirrored results of my open call on dailytakes. Wisconsin activists are not fired up for any particular 2008 contender. But the folks in Minnesota sure like Newt.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the easy winner of a straw poll Friday night that tested 2008 presidential candidate support at the Minnesota Republican Party state convention.
Gingrich got about 40 percent of the 540 votes cast, putting him far ahead of Virginia's Sen. George Allen, who got about 15 percent. Next were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Arizona Sen. John McCain, each with about 10 percent.
"This shows activists think that Gingrich has the cachet to help set and drive the conservative agenda, just as he did when he led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994," said Tony Sutton, a Gingrich supporter and secretary-treasurer of the party. "He and Ronald Reagan were the two most important conservatives in the last 30 years."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Mike Nichols has penned another very good column. I don't always agree with him, but I envy his writing ability.
A self-described "casual acquaintance" of Susan and Lev Baldwin informed me over the weekend that I owe them an apology for a recent "attack" and suggested I don't really know how pensions work.
So here goes.
I would hereby like to apologize for not realizing that, in Milwaukee County, it is wholly understandable that a couple of former government employees should have combined annual pensions of over $110,000 a year.
And that one of them, Susan, should be suing for even more than the $52,000 a year she currently gets while her husband takes in about $59,000.
And, I guess, for not realizing it is also completely appropriate that a former sheriff like Lev be able to retire with an additional $333,000 lump sum "backdrop" at the advanced age of 54.
The Legislative Audit Bureau has completed its review of Fish and Wildlife funding at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. An initial review of the summary of the audit is not encouraging.
Amazingly, the DNR’s accounting system does not link revenues from user fees, including the different types of hunting and fishing licenses, to particular expenditures.
This is why hunters and anglers have been skeptical of the DNR. Many of us contend the DNR uses our fees to fund and staff a liberal environmental activist agenda.
Jim Doyle's DNR is so woefully managed that the Audit Bureau had to undertake significant audit steps to categorize expenditures according to their purpose and primary beneficiaries.
What the Audit Bureau uncovered is alarming.
Only 57.3 percent of user fee–funded expenditures in FY 2004-05 were spent primarily for the benefit of those who provided those fees.
The audit “also found that 2.4 percent of the $68.2 million in user fees expended in that year, or $1.6 million, did not directly benefit hunters and anglers.”
And a whopping 11.1 percent went to administrative costs (read feeding the bureaucracy).
User fees funded $7.5 million of DNR’s administrative costs at the department and division levels in FY 2004-05 and represented 11.1 percent of all user fee–funded expenditures.Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife account is in a sad state:
To assess the financial condition of the Fish and Wildlife Account, we examined its year-end balance from FY 2000-01 through FY 2004-05. We found that expenditures exceeded revenues each year, and the account’s ending balance declined significantly.This audit will be spun thusly:
Uecker to Ann Ladd, his alleged stalker.
The high-stakes trial of Doyle Administration official Georgia Thompson begins tomorrow.
The fate of Georgia Thompson, a purchasing division supervisor, will likely determine whether more charges and other defendants will follow in the investigation Republicans have dubbed "Travelgate."
Thompson, 56, of Waunakee, was on a team of evaluators that reviewed bids for the three-year contract to handle travel arrangements for state employees. It ultimately was awarded to Adelman Travel, whose chief executive, Craig Adelman, made $10,000 in donations to Gov. Jim Doyle over a 10-month period.
Thompson is charged with two felonies: causing misapplication of funds and participating in a scheme to defraud the State of Wisconsin of the right to honest services. The indictment does not allege a pay-to-play scheme in which the contract was awarded in exchange for the donations. Rather, it alleges that Adelman Travel would not have gotten the contract if Thompson had not illegally inflated the firm's scores. Thompson steered the contract to Adelman "to cause political advantage for her supervisors" and to bolster her job security, according to the indictment.
Thompson has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Stephen Hurley of Madison, insists no crime has been committed. The prosecution alleges that Thompson did the right thing for the wrong reasons, which isn't illegal, he said in February. Because the committee members subjectively arrived at their scores for vendors, there was no way to illegally inflate them, he said.
The criminal charge against Thompson has turned the issue of corruption in state contracting into a major focus of the campaign for governor.
Doyle, a Democrat up for re-election in November, has known Adelman for decades. Adelman gave the Doyle campaign the maximum $10,000 allowed by law before and after the process that awarded the contract. A company board member, Mitchell Fromstein, also gave $10,000 after the contract was awarded.
For Republican leaders looking to oust Doyle, the charges against Thompson prompted a name for the scandal - "Travelgate" - and they began demanding that the Doyle campaign return the donations. He has not.
Not returning the donations has proven to be a tactical mistake by Doyle. Imagine how much better the story would have read if he had.
Doyle has returned the contributions from Adelman and Fromstein, and he is on record saying, "I am setting aside these contributions, not because they are tainted, but because there must be no doubt in the minds of Wisconsin citizens that my Administration and my campaign are both run ethically. I am confident that at the conclusion of this case it will become clear that my Adminstration did not harm taxpayers for the benefit of my campaign."But he has refused to make such a statement.
I've been watching HBO's Band of Brothers all week. It got me thinking about the sacrifices of my own father, a World War II vet. Like hundreds of thousands of others, he selflessly served the duration of the war.
Actually, this isn't a light day. Just got a call (actually a series of calls), saying my dad's in surgery right now. The heart transplant is going on today.
Thanks ahead of time for the thoughts and prayers.
This is great news for Republicans.
Republicans no longer need to rely solely on a couple of talking heads in Milwaukee to tout their failed policies and misplaced priorities. The GOP is plotting a massive takeover of Wisconsin airwaves. This stop-at-nothing assault has triggered an epic battle to ensure media outlets across the state don't become mouthpieces for the narrow, misguided, and divisive agenda embraced solely by extremists on the radical right.
You need to get involved.
Attempted domination by the Radical Right The tired myth perpetuated by the extreme right about the media being a giant liberally biased beast is growing harder and harder to peddle.
This week it was reported that former Governor Tommy Thompson and his one-time right hand man, currently under federal indictment, are principal investors in a group that's shelling out millions to buy radio stations in the Midwest. When he's not working to puppeteer the slumping gubernatorial campaign of one of the GOP's most extreme, you can bet Thompson and his radio partners will spend this summer shopping. Wanted: countless radio towers to help elect Republicans and paint Wisconsin red.
Wisconsin doesn't need more venom-spewing radio talkers. Wisconsin doesn't deserve airwaves with nothing but vitriol. Those who hide behind the thin veneer of being talk radio "journalists" have only generated public cynicism against writers and reporters who were truly "fair and balanced" long before it became a bumper-sticker slogan.
Should the same people who want to write discrimination into the state constitution, take us back to the Dark Ages with the death penalty, and stop stem cell research be in charge of programming the radio station in your hometown? Their politics of divide and conquer can no longer be propagated over what are supposed to be publicly owned airwaves.
There is Hope, Progressives fight back!
Senate Democrats have not sat idly by while conservatives clone partisans and plant them at radio stations across the state. Following the stunning success of Air America's arrival in Wisconsin with Madison's 92.1, Democrats have been working to bring a balancing voice to vital regions of Wisconsin. Imagine...national progressive talk combined with local hosts that feature honest news from across the state, nation, and world.
Senate Democrats have not stood alone in this progressive endeavor. We have worked with Milwaukee progressives and Democrats to kick off a grassroots campaign to raise funds to help bring progressive talk to Milwaukee. In addition, we are working with the founders of Air America radio, Anita and Shelly Drobny, to identify and acquire other Wisconsin radio stations for progressive formats. Their company, Nova M., has already begun radio acquisition discussions in several communities. We believe Democrats, progressives, and libertarians across the state are ready to help raise funds and build the grassroots support needed to ensure the success of this endeavor.
Playing for keeps.
In Phoenix, Arizona Air America was ripped from the air when a conservative group purchased the station and dumped the progressive programming.
Left-leaning listeners revolted and raised funds through a creative web-based campaign. They organized and with the help of progressive investors from Nova M, were able to bring Air America back to their city in just three weeks.
Efforts are under way to build a similar grassroots campaign here in Wisconsin, potentially starting with Milwaukee, a city desperately needing some balance and honesty.
The Republican media spin machine can no longer get away unchecked with a message so disconnected from mainstream Wisconsin values. Their version of the "news" plays on people's fears and fuels perceptions far-flung from reality.
Wisconsin is a battleground state, and our politics are seen by many as a bellweather for the nation. After the last couple of elections we have seen the costs of turning off and tuning out from politics. It's time that we stand up and secure our own future. It's time to bring an honest, progressive alternative to Wisconsin's airwaves.
Visit our website at "www.ssdc-wi.org" or go directly to "airamericamilwaukee.com" to learn more about how you can own a piece of Air America in Wisconsin.
A statewide Air America advocacy website will be set up shortly at airamericatowisconsin.com.
Senate Democratic Leader
Paid for by State Senate Democratic Committee, Mark Miller Treasurer
Well, better late than never.
Gov. Jim Doyle's office has scheduled an 11:30 a.m. press conference at Milwaukee City Hall to announce "state action" to help curb the violence on Milwaukee streets. He'll be joined, according to a release from his office, by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Police Chief Nannette Hegerty.Yesterday, Mark Green and the Doyle team had the following exchange:
U.S. Rep. Mark Green, a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle Thursday for inaction on Milwaukee's Memorial Day weekend violence, which included the slayings of two people in South Shore Park.What a difference a day makes.
"You can't wait for somebody to call," Green said at a Milwaukee news conference. "He should be here. . . . As governor, I would not have stood silent after a weekend like the one we just saw."
Doyle spokesman Matt Canter said Doyle had been "in serious conversation with the city" constantly since the weekend shootings and would lead an effort to address the issue. Doyle's physical presence in the city wasn't necessary, Canter said.
Packers sign Levens; RB plans to retire
Green Bay - In a symbolic move, the Green Bay Packers on Thursday signed former Pro Bowl running back Dorsey Levens so that he can officially retire Friday a member of the team with which he began his National Football League career.
The Regents have the wrong priorities.
MADISON, Wis. -- Resident students in the University of Wisconsin System would see a 6.8 percent tuition increase next fall under a plan released on Thursday.
The increases would translate to $382 more per year for students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, $374 more at UW-Milwaukee and $291 more at all other UW campuses.
The plan would also lower out-of-state tuition at all campuses except UW-Madison as part of a plan to attract more students from other states.
The UW System Board of Regents is expected to consider the plan at a meeting at UW-Milwaukee next week.
UW System officials said that the tuition hike will generate $44 million in revenue, which will be used to pay for utilities, technology improvements and employee salary and benefits.
Poor Wisconsin State Representative David Ward.
Ward's Wednesday surprise: Won't seek re-election
Madison -- Seven-term Rep. Mark Ward (R-Fort Atkinson) was the latest Assembly Republican to announce that he will not seek re-election, telling his fellow Republicans on Wednesday afternoon that he had a chance to take a job in private business. It was the final scheduled day of the Legislature's 2005-'06 session.
Forty years for this scumbag seems about right.
Ben Stibbe, who's been linked to at least three heroin overdose deaths in Ozaukee County, pleaded guilty today to supplying the heroin that killed Cedarburg teenager Angela Raettig last November.
In addition, Stibbe's attorney, William A. Mayer, said Stibbe is likely to be charged in at least two other overdose deaths, that of Matthew Kobiske, 21, of Grafton, last fall and of Lynn Smaxwill, 43, also of Grafton, who was found dead by her 12-year-old son in December 2002.
Mayer said Stibbe changed his plea Thursday because "the state could probably prove its case" regarding Raettig's death and that he's "ready to take responsibility."
According to the criminal complaint, Stibbe, Caitlin Schuette, 17, of Cedarburg, Raettig and Ryan Hinkle, 19, also of Cedarburg, went to Milwaukee on Nov. 29 to buy heroin from a dealer that Stibbe knew using money supplied by Schuette and Raettig.
Stibbe received some of the heroin as payment for being the middle-man in the purchase. Raettig and Schuette injected themselves with the heroin at a Cedarburg apartment, the complaint says. Raettig then went home and was found dead in bed the next morning by her mother.
Schuette and Stibbe were charged under the state's rarely used so-called Len Bias law, which allows for someone who provides drugs that are a "substantial factor" in a death to be prosecuted for homicide.
The law, which was enacted in 1989, is named after a University of Maryland basketball player who died of a drug overdose in 1986.
Schuette pleaded guilty to the charge on May 16. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 9. Stibbe's sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 11.
I received several comments to recent posts, including yesterday's take on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial, which I called a Typical Reaction Violence. Many anonymous comments chastised me for either not offering any solutions (Yes, leave it to the bloggers to be our leaders) or for being a racist for any of a variety of thinly-argued reasons.