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Wisconsin Wit

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Police, Dean Center Changes Detailed

The Janesville Gazette has an article that goes over the changes coming for Evansville. These have been mentioned on the blog previously.

Click on the post for the full story.

"Appliance Fees" Create Furor in St. Paul Schools; Or, One alternative to removing all appliances

All across America, schools have been forcing teachers to remove appliances such as coffee pots, refrigerators and microwaves from the classroom. Now St. Paul schools have an alternative----a fee paid by teachers for a sticker to be placed on the appliance to allow it to be used.

Click on the post for the full story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Janesville House Rep. Towns proposes increasing Math and Science HS requirement

Rep. Towns of Janesville has proposed increasing the math and science requirements for all Wisconsin high school students with the aim of increasing their scores in competition with other states.

Click on the post for the full story in the Janesville Gazette.

What are your thoughts on this proposal? You make the call.

Karate America announces new exciting changes; Open House Dec. 4th from 3-5PM

Karate America in downtown Evansville is
now open under NEW OWNERSHIP with a
NEW Chief Instructor, Ms. Susan Granger...
Stop by on Sunday, December 4th and see
the exciting changes we’ve made and our
completely remodeled school!
Come in on Sunday, December 4th
between 3:00 and 5:00 and
enter your name in our Drawing for
Door Prizes including:
· Free Martial Arts Gear!
· 6 Months of Free Karate Lessons!
· Local Restaurant Gift Certificates!
· Movie Rental Gift Certificates!
· $50.00 Best Buy Gift Certificate!
Starting at 4:00 in the atrium of
the Grange Building
local students from Karate
America Evansville will be part
of one of the hottest Martial Arts
Demonstrations you’ve ever
seen, including-
«Weapons Demonstrations!
«Team Forms!
«Self-Defense!
«Sparring!
«Musical Forms!
«Board Breaking!
«Sport Weaponry!
Karate America Evansville offers
Classes for Kids, Teens, and Adults,
starting from age 4 on up!
Students will develop both physically and mentally
in a challenging, safe, and FUN environment.
Our Professional full-time instructors help all our
students improve their physical skills such as
endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility!
We also work to give them a set of
POSITIVE LIFE SKILLS
such as self-discipline, respect, dedication,
responsibility, self-control, goal-setting and focus!
Karate is a year-round physical activity and is a
sport in which everyone can participate and
be proud of their accomplishments!
We offer a variety of classes based on a
student’s age and belt color, including
separate classes for Adults.
Call us at 882-2444, see our new school in
the Grange Building, or visit
our website at www.kaevansville.com
for more information!
882-2444
Don’t miss it!
Karate America Evansville’s
GRAND RE-OPENING &
Martial Arts Demonstration!!
Sunday, December 4th
Open House from 3:00 to 5:00 PM Martial Arts Demonstration at 4:00 !
27 West Main Street (Lower level of the Grange Building)

Quality Pre-School Day Care; Or, It's all in the covered hinges

One of the rages in Minnesota these days is the importance of placing your child in an upscale accreditted pre-K day care center. There are waiting lists. The admission process is sometimes as selective as yes, college. Well, maybe that is a little exaggeration.

My middle daughter, Julie, of California fame, did the data research in a pre-school day care study from Northfield, Mn. Parents were very focused on placement in the "right" pre-school since it had a bearing, so they thought, on their later life success.

Click on the post for the discussion in the Pioneer Press. Maybe I missed something, but I was never in a home with plastic covered hinges. I guess I never understood that this was the indicator of "quality." Yo. I feel totally deprived.

Anyway, the prices of $225 per week ---I cannot tell how high that is related to Wisconsin prices. Somebody help me out on what the range is here.

Enjoy the article. What do you think? You make the call.

Up In the Air: Or, Where the war is headed; Or, Reflections by Semour Hersh

Seymour Hersh has written an interesting article on the coming "air war" in Iraq.

Click on the post for the full article.

The Ballerina; Or, the Story of Julie

When Julie was in 7th grade, she came home one day to tell us of a fierce battle with one of her classmates, Adam. Right in the midst of the battle, Mrs. Berg, the music teacher, had spoken pretty directly to them both. She said, "You both are going to be cast opposite each other in lots of plays in the next 6 years, so you better get used to it, and quit fighting. " She was right.

For five years, Adam and Julie had major parts in lots of plays at school. Julie, who juat a few years prior had been so excited with ballet, now had her sights set on being a STAR. Not just in Wisconsin, but excuse me, in New York. Big Time.

In her senior year, she was cast in a play with lots of singing. No problem. The week of the play, however, she came down with a severe case of bronchitis.. Her doctor felt that due to the overuse of pharmacy in cases such as this that might in the long-term cause Julie to not respond to antibiotics, just herbal medicine would have to do and the virus should just run its course. In short---Julie lost her voice. The actors scrambled to adjust. A fellow cast member sang many of Julie's songs. She did just wonderfully.

At the award ceremony, this fellow actress took the BEST ACTRESS award. Julie was crushed. Dashed were the dreams of fame and stardom. As parents, we tried to tell her of some silver lining in it all. Julie was not buying any silver lining.

Julie did go into Psychology and is happily employed in California. The BEST ACTRESS went to school in Iowa and majored in Theatre.

Sometimes the Lord works in strange ways.

Monday, November 28, 2005

On Fontana; Or, What is the difference between law and ethics?; Or, On the death of community based policing

If you have been following the saga of the Fontana Police Department over the past month, you know that there has been a dispute, but all the facts are not perfectly clear. It does revolve around differences between the police chief of Fontana and the village on the role of community based policing. Because the Village has been unable to manage the dispute, or maybe manage the police chief, they have decided it might be just easier to completely dissolve the police department.

Click on the post for the full article in the Janesville Gazette.

To mediate the dispute, and resolve it, the parties have called on the Department of Justice, specifically the Institute for Public Safety Partnerships, IPSP, which offers at no cost to the parties, several seminars or "curricula" one of which is on ethics, the one they are using.

It might appear to the casual observer that this is really an extreme case. I would suggest that it is not. Many times in cases where there is a dispute between a professional and a village, where there are union contract issues involved, the legal resolution of the dispute is always narrow in scope, and does not resolve the larger public safety issues, which is what the public wants resolved. In Fontana, thus, since the community based policing system cannot be managed, the village is inclined to go to simply an incident responder mode, the Walworth Co Sheriffs Dept.

Two things about this case are interesting--First the Department of Justice offers these resources at no cost to police departments and cities of Southern Wisconsin. The web site that goes over the seminars and services is www.ipsp.us/c4cici.cfm

Secondly, at the very core of these services is the assumption that without ethics and trust, community based policing cannot work. That just jumps right out at you in the Fontana case. A thought to remember.

Are you solar powered? ; Or, the power of SAD syndrome

Seasonal affect disorder, SAD, is very common and affects 500,000 folks in the USA each year. Click on the post for an interesting article in the Monroe Times about this.

I like to think that lots of bright lights and loud rock and roll is the right combination for fighting the dark months. I also have a limitation of only one set of Bruce Springsteen per week during these months, especially the songs about "the darkness at the edge of town" etc.

Click on the post for the full article in the Monroe Times. If you have your own musical tunes that combat this SAD, I am open to ideas.

New 911 technology coming soon

The new 911 technology that can pinpoint a call from a cell phone for the 911 dispatcher is coming. Click on the post for a full article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

It is interesting that Menomonie county will not have the new 911. They have very small population and along with Trempeleau county seem to be adverse to using salt on the freeway also. It thus has always been a treacherous part of the I94 freeway system. Trust me. I just drove through there this weekend and there were lots of cars in the ditch.

It is unclear when we in Evansville will be live with the new 911. I will keep you posted.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Re: [CUUE] Petition Signatures Submitted

--- Fred Juergens <fredj608@yahoo.com> wrote:

> On Wednesday, Nov 23, 2005, CUUE submitted
> approximately 261
> signatures on a Petition for Direct Legislation to
> the City Clerk of
> Evansville, Jim Beilke. This is well over the 206
> required by law to
> place our resolution before the City Council.
>
> The resolution is posed as a question: Shall the
> United States
> Government immediately begin an orderly and rapid
> withdrawal of all
> military personnel from Iraq, beginning with the
> National Guard and
> Reserves?"
>
> The City Clerk must certify the sufficiency of the
> petition by
> December 8th, 2005. If sufficient, he then passes
> it on to City
> Council. Council may adopt the resolution or submit
> it to a vote of
> the people of Evansville in the April 2006 election.
> Council may not
> reject the resolution. If the petition is
> deficient, CUUE has until
> Dec 18, 2005 to make up any deficiencies, after
> which it may be
> submitted again.
>
> Anyone interested in the details can refer to
> section 9.20 of the
> Wisconsin Statutes, which may be found in this
> document:
>
>
http://elections.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=1837&locid=47
>
> I want to thank all those who circulated petitions.
> Together we did it!
>

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WXMan writes: Learning from Katrina, The science

WXMAN, our weatherman blogger, has sent us a scientific article on the science of Katrina. Since 1970, the prediction success of scientists has gotten steadily better. The prediction of 60 hours prior to Katrina was uncanny in its accuracy. Now, they are working to make it even better and earlier. The benefits of a further improvement could be enormous.

Click on the post for this interesting article.

O.K. bloggers, you have been asking for weather; here it is. Thanks WXMAN.

Monday, November 21, 2005

RE: Union Smart Growth Plan etc.

--- Douglas Zweizig <dougzweizig@hotmail.com> wrote:

> Dick,
> Thanks for linking to the Town of Union website.
> Draft chapters for the
> Smart Growth plan are being posted to the site
> today.
> I'm attaching a copy of the flyer being used to
> publicize our Town Meeting
> on Dec. 7. We would appreciate your getting the word
> out about this
> important meeting. The purpose is to get reaction to
> this early draft so
> that comments and concerns can be addressed in later
> drafts. A formal
> hearing on the report will be held early in 2006.
> Thanks,
> Doug
>
> Doug Zweizig
> 6037 N. Finn Road, Evansville, WI 53536
> 608-882-4225
&
>
>

Notice of Police Commission Meeting--Nov. 21, 2005--6:30PM

EVANSVILLE POLICE COMMISSION

Notice of Meeting

and Agenda

Monday, November 21, 2005

Please take notice that the next meeting of the Evansville Police Commission will take place on November 21, 2005 at 6:30 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers, 3rd Floor of the Evansville City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin. The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

1. Roll call.

2. Approval of minutes of November 1, 2005 meeting.

3. Citizen appearances.

4. Initial hearing in Disciplinary Proceedings Against William Fitters, Sergeant of Police, pursuant to Rule 11 of the Disciplinary Procedures of the Evansville Board of Police Commissioners.

5. Motion to convene in closed session pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 19.85(1)(a) to deliberate concerning any issue referred by the presiding Commissioner to the full Commission during the initial hearing. Vote to be by roll call.

6. Adjournment.

John R. Decker, Secretary

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Best of The Evansville Observer--2005----Going to Press Now--$9.95, 142pages.--All the EVIL of Evilleblogger, The debates on Iraq, and much, much more

Table of Contents:


Chapter 1: The Vision

The ECP Vision Statement
And Now, the rest of the story
A Modest Proposal for the Improvement of Public Meetings
Contruction Begins; "Grove" to become truck route
The Case of the Forged Appendix
Let the Public Decide on Lake Leota Restoration
The First Rule of the Lake---Get to the Lake
Dateline Lake Leota---Last Duck Heads South
California Still Loves its Prop 13
Virtual AND Brick and Mortar not OR
On the Power of One; Or Why Cindy Sheehan Matters
Do Organized Sports start too young?
Is Recession Around the Corner?
New Funeral Home Opens in Janesville---
Pension Crisis Looms--or Why United .....
That Vision Thang
Who pays when Wal-Mart comes to town?

Chapter Two: Dialogue as Strength; Differences as an asset

Differences As an Asset: Dialogue As Strength
The Fact that you have opinions....
The Story of Frug--

Chapter Three: The Count

In Praise of The "Count" of Sesame Street
On WHERE and WHAT to Count
The Count: On What, Where and HOW to Count

Chapter Four: The Planning Process

Doug Zweizig Calls For....
Reader Speaks: Why not Make All of Evansville a TIF?
Falling Off the bicycle
Reflections on the Growth Bicycle
On Homework
Let's Keep Everything just the way it was
The Old vx. Historic
The baby carriage and the paving bricks
Dreams of Noah's Ark; Or, why Vinyl Siding is not Historic
Invitation to the School Board to Consult
Evansville Library....
Monroe Acts
The Evansville-Albany Lineman:
Bill Connors Writes...
Bill Connors Speaks....
Planning Commission Adds Process...
Evansville Administrator notes Public dissatisfaction...

Chapter Five: The War In Iraq--The Red, White & Blue
One of Our Readers

Chapter Six: On Character:

The Power of "NO,"; Or, how to sculpt a David
What "Brick" means to me; Or, On the deeper meaning of "brick."
Memories of Fr. Erbe; Or, You are never too old to begin
On Why the High Ground is Always the Cheapest Ground; On Why we are the Blue Devils and NOT the "Swamp Dogs."
----X19-----
Memories of John Jones; Or, Why the equipment does not make the muscles
The Tale of Two Georges
In Praise of Hogans Heros; On Knowing Nothing, Seeing Nothing and Doing Nothing

Chapter Seven: Service

Report from the Side---I'm Not at the Front.
A Second Report from the Side

You can reserve a copy of this classic by sending $9.95 by mail to Evansville Observer, 255 East Main St. Evansville, Wisconsin 53536 This will be a limited printing and publisher reserves the right to return orders when the printing is sold out.

Who is Evilleblogger? This book may help you discover the secret. Who is Cueball? Who is Wxman? Who is Always a Packer Fan? Now all the cast of characters come alive to recreate the heated debates of 2005 in Evansville.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Drunken Driving Arrests set Record in Wisconsin

Arrests for drunken driving are at an all time high. Up 10% from last years.

Click on the post for an article in the Janesville Gazette that covers this problem.
Any thoughts on what might help in this matter? You make the call.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mayoral Candidate Karen Aikman and Family

Karen Aikman announces candidacy for Mayor

My name is Karen Lea Aikman and I am declaring my candidacy for mayor of Evansville.

I am currently a City Alderman elected by the 3rd district two years ago. I have served as Chair of the Finance and Labor Committee and on the Planning Commission. This has provided me the opportunity to get to know and work with the leaders of Evansville, the surrounding communities, and the State of Wisconsin. It has also provided me with direct experience dealing with the issues we all face.

I grew up in Madison and attended the UW where I pursued a BS degree in Economics. I have called Chicago, Tokyo, Atlanta and now Evansville home. I enjoy challenging work and have been employed by Chase Manhattan Bank, Chanel, and most recently MindSpring Enterprises (currently EarthLink).

I have a family history in Evansville that is balanced with my perspective as a newcomer. I understand that while some view the new traffic light as an end of a bottleneck, others view it as an end of an era. I am sensitive to the challenge of meeting the economic needs of our community while maintaining our small town charm. I have spent much of the past two years attending Economic Development seminars and meeting leaders of other Wisconsin communities to learn from their successes and failures.

I am asking to be mayor of Evansville because I believe it is a job I can excel at. It is an opportunity to continue in Mayor Ringhand’s efforts to keep the government open and in the hands of the citizens. And it is an opportunity to be a part of something exciting and something that much of the State of Wisconsin is watching!

Use of GPS by Janesville Police without warrant raises questions

The use of GPS tracking devices without obtaining a warrant is an area of law that has not yet been addressed by the legislature.

Click on the post for an interesting article in the Janesville Gazette.

The Coincidence of Opposites; Or, Why Due Process matters

In any dialogue, in any debate, in any reflection, there are two sides. Two points of view. From ancient times it has been known that the secret of wisdom is getting to the thing that unites them, the central thing they share. This is the "coincidencia oppositorum" or just simply the coincidence of opposites. Once you understand what this is, you can understand how to get beyond it.

You all know this. I say it's hot. She says it's cold. The thing that unites ---- the evaluation of life by temperature. There is more. To get to the more, you get separate heated seats or blankets or whatever. O.K.

This coicidence of opposites is why the US Military Lawyers are so insistent on the Geneva Convention. The enemy says all tactics, all terror is available. We say there is a code of conduct. Once we say everything is on the table, we are them. And, we lose. The thing that makes us free is the dignity we live by. That is why the Pentagon rank and file and all veterans want the Geneva Convention upheld. That is why John McCain, the war prisoner, is leading the way for a prohibition against terror tactics by the U.S. Military.

So, it is also that in all violence and abuse of power---- Whether it is local or national, the tendency is for the victim of abuse of power to turn to the same tactic. That is why the U.S. has the concept of due process. That is why we have the rule of law and not tribal eye for eye justice. Something to think about.

A Modest Proposal for the Improvement of Public Meetings; Or, The Famous Wee-Ones Daycare Meeting

Recently I have been attending a lot of meetings. It has occurred to me that it would be a large benefit to mankind if they could be a tad more efficient. My mind searched over the past year for the best meeting of the year. NO CONTEST. It was the famous Wee-Ones Daycare meeting a couple of months ago.

The purpose of the meeting was for West side residents to choose a design for the new park. The meeting was held on a Saturday morning... A time when groggy residents could have, without the proper mocha, launched into a long debate. Instead something pretty wonderful happened.

The meeting was held in the playroom of the daycare. There were 20 kiddie chairs lined in two neat rows. There was one large lazy-boy chair. The people who attended deferred to Mr. Berg, although he preferred to hold the door open for late arrivals. So, the plush lazyboy chair remained empty. Folks just sat in those little chairs six inches off the ground.

Mayor Ringhand and Bill Hammann presided over the meeting, but rather than sit in elevated chairs in front of paneling, because we were short easels, they held up the various designs to choose from. Their role as easel bearers made everyone feel very down home comfortable.

It is not true that sitting in those little chairs made citizens passive. When Ald. Hammann suggested that possibly the rest room central location was not too important, the wife of "Grumps" spoke courageously up to protest. The rest rooms central location IS important. OK. Everyone agreed.

In a heartbeat the meeting was over. 31 minutes flat. Good debate. Quick decision making.

So, I think we should order 30 or 40 wee-ones chairs quickly. Yes, even the alderman could sit in them. Just think of all the money and time we will save as a city.

Union launches Web Site---Meetings, Smart Growth and More

Union has launched its web site. Click on the post to explore it.

This comes just in time for those who want to participate in the Smart Growth Planning Process for Union. The web site lists the upcoming meetings and will also have the rough drafts of the sections of the plan as it is developed.

If you have questions on how you can participate in the Union Smart Growth planning process, call Judy Whalen at 455-2090 or email her at unionsmartgrowth@whalen.com

The Evansville Observer will list a link to Union on its web site and cover their progress in the Smart Growth saga. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Redevelopment Authority meeting Minutes of 11-15-2005

Evansville Redevelopment Authority

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 7:00 PM

City Hall, 31 S. Madison St., Evansville, WI

MINUTES
Chairperson Hagen called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM. Present were Chairperson Hagen, Vice-Chairperson Eager, Ald. Anderson, Betsy Ahner, Dean Arnold and John Decker. Bill Connors, Executive Director, and James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Authority, also were present. Ald. Sornson and Ald. Aikman were present in the audience.

The agenda was approved as presented by the executive director, except that item 8a was moved to be immediately after item 5.

Motion by Eager, seconded by Decker, to approve the minutes of the July 11 and October 18, 2005, regular meetings. Motion passed.

There were no citizen appearances on items not listed on the agenda, and no public hearings.

New Business
Ed Francois and Roger Berg made a presentation regarding a potential project to redevelop the building located at 7, E. Main St., which originally was the Economy Store, and which currently is occupied by Dave’s Ace Hardware. Ace is moving to a new store on the east side in the spring of 2006, and the developers think it is likely that the building will be hard to lease back up between then and the completion of the Main St. reconstruction project in the fall of 2007. They have an option or contract to purchase the building with contingencies, and believe the street project provides a great opportunity to redevelop the building during 2006-07. Their vision is to have retail/service/office space on the main floor and in the basement, and possibly 10 one-bedroom apartments on the top floor. To know if the project is feasible, they need to spend about $10,000 on the services of an architect and the Virchow Krause accounting firm. They anticipate that they will need to receive all of the tax increment generated by the project, to the full extent allowed by law, to make the project work financially. They want to know if the Redevelopment Authority or other city committees see any roadblocks to the project before they spend the initial $10,000 to determine if the project is feasible.

Vice-Chairperson Eager raised the issue of parking. Mr. Berg said they have discussed this issue with the Council and will need assurances that the current city policy of allowing one permit for parking in the city lot for each residential unit would continue well into the future. He said they would like the parking stalls in the city lot for their residential tenants to be marked as such.

The commissioners said they saw no roadblocks, and were unanimous in their enthusiastic support for the project.

Redevelopment Authority Policies and Application Form
The commissioners decided to hold a public hearing on their policies and application form after some expressions of concern about them, particularly the text about providing assistance in the form of an interest-bearing loan. The commissioners pointed out that the text also says the commissioners have the discretion to alter the loan rate and/or term. Mr. Eager said he thinks criteria should be established for altering the loan rate and term, and those criteria should be ranked in order of priority. Mr. Decker pointed out that the current policy does list some criteria.

Mr. Connors said he thinks the policy should be changed to say that the commissioners also have the authority to give a grant, because in his mind, a forgivable loan means there are performance requirements the developer must meet after the project is completed that will justify forgiveness of the loan, and there will not be meaningful post-construction performance requirements for all projects. Mr. Otterstein said that if the policy says grants are available, everyone will ask for a grant, and that since there are performance requirements for all grants, any benefit that could be conferred in the form of a grant also can be conferred in the form of a forgivable loan.

The public hearing was opened at 7:50 PM.

Ald. Sornson said developers are going to want grants, not interest bearing loans. He said that giving grants is what the Redevelopment Authority has done thus far, and that is his understanding of how a TIF district is supposed to work. Repayment of the city’s investment is supposed to come from the tax increment, not from the developer repaying a loan. Mr. Connors said that most of the projects in TID No. 5 thus far have involved grants, but for the Grange Building project, the assistance was given in the form of forgivable loans. Chairperson Hagen pointed out that the current policy says the commissioners have the discretion not to charge interest on the loan or even to require it to be repaid.

Ald. Aikman asked whether the commissioners could make a forgivable loan into the functional equivalent of a grant by making the requirements for forgiveness quick and easy to perform. Mr. Otterstein said that is correct.

Vice-Chairperson Eager said the problem in the situation with the potential exterior restoration project at 19 W. Church St. is that some people thought Mr. Connors should be the Redevelopment Authority’s point person for discussing what forms of assistance are and are not available, and he does not think that should be the case.

Richard Woulfe, 255 E. Main St., asked what would be the criteria used for adjusting the loan term and interest rate, for example, in the case of the potential project at 7 E. Main St.

Ms. Ahner said that she would prefer that the policy say that the commissioners have the authority to give assistance in the form of grants, forgiveable loans, or interest bearing loans, depending on the merits of the project. She believes the current text is not inviting. Mr. Otterstein reiterated that if the policy says grants or forgivable loans are available, everyone will ask for grants and forgivable loans. Mr. Decker said that completing the project alone was often a major accomplishment and could be sufficient performance to justify forgiveness of a loan.

Ald. Aikman said the Council could overrule the Redevelopment Authority if the Council thinks the commissioners have become too loose with the TIF money, but the Council cannot override the commissioners if the Council thinks they are being too conservative. She encouraged the commissioners not to be too conservative. She said some projects just will not pay for themselves, but still are good projects.

The public hearing was closed at 8:17 PM.

Mr. Decker said he thought the potential historic restoration project at 19 W. Church St. was a good candidate for TIF assistance because it added housing units to the downtown area, increased the tax base, and accomplished historic restoration. He thinks all of these should be included in the criteria for altering the loan term and interest rate.

Vice-Chairperson Eager said he thinks the policy should be written more clearly so that everyone can understand it without need for assistance interpreting it, and that if there are gray areas in the policy, city staff should not attempt to explain the policy but instead encourage the potential applicant to come to a Redevelopment Authority meeting and ask questions or call individual commissioners. Mr. Connors said that when Mr. Berg caught him as he passed through the big room on the second floor of City Hall and asked him, under the new policy, was an interest-bearing loan the only assistance he could receive for the projects regarding which he and Mr. Connors had had past discussions (including the potential historic restoration project at 19 W. Church St.), Mr. Connors responded he did not know, because the policy was new. Mr. Connors said he pointed out to Mr. Berg that the policy provided that the commissioners have the authority to alter the loan rate and term. Later, Mr. Berg called Mr. Connors and said he understood that he could obtain more generous assistance than an interest bearing loan, but that he did not want to have to ask for assistance more generous than the standard policy, so he was not going to submit an application for assistance with the historic restoration project at 19 W. Church St., and instead would use vinyl siding on the building. Mr. Otterstein said that at Mr. Connors’ request, he called Mr. Berg to explain the purpose of the policy and the kinds of assistance that might be available to him, and it is his impression that Mr. Berg decided not to apply for assistance with the project at 19 W. Church St. for a variety of reasons. The consensus of the commissioners was that if Mr. Connors or any other city staff are asked a question about the Redevelopment Authority’s policies, staff should politely decline to answer the question and instead encourage the questioner to attend the next meeting of the Authority or to call individual commissioners.

Ms. Ahner reiterated her belief that the text of the policy needs to be changed to make clear that more forms of assistance are available. She said that if Roger Berg, who has had past dealings with the Redevelopment Authority, could misunderstand the policy and be discouraged by it, there is a good chance that others without experience with the Redevelopment Authority would also be discouraged.

The commissioners will consider bringing proposals for changes to the text of the policies to the next regular meeting of the redevelopment authority.

Unfinished Business
Mr. Connors had no new information on the financial condition of the TID No. 5. He reported, as he had indicated in a previous email message, that the roller rink property has been sold again. He also reported that he soon will receive large maps of TID No. 5 to provide to the commissioners.

New Business (continued)
Mr. Eager reported that he has been contacted by a Beloit College student who would like to work with the Redevelopment Authority to study the impact of public opinion on expenditure of public funds for economic development or redevelopment projects. The commissioners expressed interest in working with the student.

Motion by Eager, seconded by Arnold, to convene into closed session pursuant to Wis. Stats. Sec. 19.85(1)(e), deliberation or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reason requires a closed session, to discuss possibly pursuing the purchase of or acquisition of options to purchase property located within TID No. 5, subject to approval by the Common Council, and not to reconvene into open session. Motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote at 8:35 PM.

Motion by Eager, seconded by Anderson, to adjourn. Motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:57 PM.

Prepared by William E. Connors, Executive Director

The Minutes are not official until approved by the Authority.

Restoration of Old Ace Hardware: Or, the Rise of the Economy Store

Last night in back to back meetings, the Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority met and heard presentations from a development group that presented the first brief sketch of a restoration project for the old Ace Hardware building at 7 East Main. This was the Economy Store in the past, and it competed with the Grange Mall. It is constructed in similar fashion.

Ed Francois, one of the investors, presented the picture of the restored building with three levels, with 10,000 sq. ft. on each level. The top level will be 10 single bedroom apartments. The main level will be retail and professional. It appears that there was skylights in the original building and it is hoped that they can be reconstructed and also a banister similar to the Grange Building for access to the lower level.

The developers were seeking a general indication of support from the city, and indicated that they would need the full possible contribution from TIF money to make the project happen as well as other state tax programs. The project would be the cornerstone of the redevelopment of lower East Main.

As the Tom Petty song says, "the future is wide open" on this project because there is the financing to figure out as well as the design, as well as any unexpected challenges. The concept was exciting. The details will be challenging. Both the Economic Dev. Committee and Redevelopment Authority indicated they were very interested and looking forward for more details in the future.

The project would begin in April of 2006, before the street project begins, and would finish in 2008 at the exact street opening of upper East Main.

After the presentation, the Redevelopment Authority discussed details of the process of applicants for assistance under their program and the details of approval of projects. The goal of the discussion was to be more efficient in responding to project inquiries as well as developing a process of evaluation of proposals that would be fair to all. This will be discussed further next month.

The Ace restoration project was presented as a joint private-public effort. As such it must be a win for both the city and the developer. In time it will become clear whether the proper tax increment can be achieved to make the project possible. Stay tuned to the Observer for the details as this proceeds.

Pictures of the Old Economy store can be found in Mrs. Montgomery's history of Evansville available at the Eager Library.

College Graduation Rate in Focus;

For years the big push was to get the kids to college. Now that the statistics are showing that even after six years, on the national average, only 54% graduate, the focus is turning to what the problem is.

Click on the post for the full article on yahoo news.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Evansville School Board Meets: Supr Carvin details financial position

If you click on the post and then click on the minutes of the meeting last night, you will see a detailed report on the change of position of the school district from last year to this.

If you proceed past the financial stuff, you can read of the efforts each school level has made in adjusting the details of the instruction to meet the state recommended achievement levels. Enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2005

RE: Supr Carvin Explains Evansville Schools Transportation Costs

--- "Carvin, Heidi" <carvinh@evansville.k12.wi.us>
wrote:

> Richard,
> In Wisconsin, districts are required to pay for and
> provide
> transportation for students who live more than 2
> miles from school:
>
> (From Department of Public Instruction
> website)"According to Section
> 121.54(2),Wisconsin Statutes, a pupil attending a
> public elementary or
> secondary school, including kindergarten, is
> entitled to transportation
> by the public school district in which the pupil
> resides if the pupil
> resides two or more miles from the nearest public
> school the pupil is
> entitled to attend.
>
> School districts may also elect to provide
> transportation for pupils who
> are not required by law to be transported. If a
> school district elects
> to provide such transportation to some, but not to
> all such pupils, the
> law requires reasonable uniformity in the minimum
> distance that pupils
> attending public and private schools will be
> transported."
>
> The Evansville district provides free transportation
> to students who
> live 1.5 miles or more from school. Most districts
> have elected this
> shorter distance as a practical matter since if
> students have to cross
> or travel a hazardous area, you end up having to
> provide transportation
> anyway. An area is hazardous based on factors such
> as presence of
> sidewalks, controlled intersections, traffic counts
> and speed limit.
> About the only non-rural area that falls in this 1.5
> to 2 mile radius
> where we are providing transportation is
> Countryside. This area was
> declared hazardous several years ago due to a lack
> of sidewalks in this
> area (now somewhat remedied), railroad tracks and
> the intersection of
> Union and Main. Because of these factors, anything
> beyond Countryside
> would also be declared hazardous.
>
> The area south of Old 92/Croft Rd is also considered
> hazardous. Two
> years ago, this hazardous area also include the
> Francis addition
> subdivision and would have included the Bewick
> property development. We
> made sure that paths were established directly onto
> school property so
> that we no longer provided transportation for
> students who live within
> these three blocks of the school. At this point all
> of the students in
> the new westside developments are walkers.
>
>
> As you can probably gather, we have considered this
> idea and found it
> didn't provide any opportunity for cost savings.
>
> Heidi Carvin
> District Administrator
>

Green County considers costly Public Safety Software Upgrade

In the 11/02 Albany Vision News, there is an article (click on post) that reports on the presentation to Green County supervisors by the Green County Sheriff about proposed software upgrades that would include 911 wireless, records management upgrade etc.

The cost before grants is over $500,000.

Click on the post and access the article on the 11/2 issue. The cost of services is going up. Plan for it.

WATERCOOLER: ( ORIG post 9-23-2005) Should School Districts charge bus fees rather than make teacher layoffs?

( Ed note: I have reposted this from 9-23-2005. Evansville Schools is up to renew its bus contract in December. I believe the plan is to use the reserve fund for energy shock expenses this winter. One alternative would be to begin to charge students for bus service just like lunch service. Those unable to pay would be qualified for reduced fee. But the district would thus begin to get out of the transportation business and focus on the main mission, teaching. When teachers begin unplugging their coffee pots, it means the energy crisis has arrived. This post is for reflection in preparation for the school board meeting tonight.)

Even a quick review of a school distric budget will reveal huge expenses for transportation. In the Evansville School District for the coming school year for example, the expense is $522,050. Yes, there is some transportation aid of $26,000, but the cost is still big.

All across the country, school districts that are facing essential cuts in teaching positions, and yes, teaching assistant positions in the elementary grades, are asking themselves what their essential mission is. Is it transportation or teaching? They are choosing to charge fees for transportation, and allowing the bus company to structure the fees that make sense on mileage and frequency etc. In short, some schools are getting out of the transportation business and putting the money to work saving instructional staff.

Click on the post to see an article on this issue from San Antonio.

When we talk about budgets, it is always a case of adding fees or cutting costs. Period. Both ideas spark emotional response. Energy costs relate to transportation. Energy crisis requires response. There is no way around it.

What are your thoughts on this issue? There is no current proposal from Evansville schools to charge for transportation. This topic is for discussion on the WATERCOOLER. What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Evansville Announcement of Spring Election

NOTICE OF SPRING ELECTION

City of Evansville

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at an election to be held in the City of Evansville, on Tuesday, April 4, 2006, the following offices are to be elected to succeed the present incumbents listed. The term of alderpersons begins on Tuesday, April 18, 2006. All terms are for two years unless otherwise indicated.

OFFICE INCUMBENT

Mayor Janis Ringhand

Alderperson District 1 Thayne Anderson

Alderperson District 2 (Currently vacant)

Alderperson District 3 Karen Aikman

Alderperson District 4 John Sornson

NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that the first day to circulate nomination papers is December 1, 2005 and the final day for filing nomination papers is 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 in the office of the City Clerk.

NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that if a primary is necessary, the primary will be held on Tuesday, February 21, 2006.

Dated this 11th day of November, 2005.

Jim Beilke, City Clerk/Treasurer

Minutes of "Big Box" Committee meeting on Thurs-11/10

Evansville Large Scale Commercial
Development Study Committee
Thursday, November 10, 2005, 5:30 p.m.

DRAFT MINUTES


Present: Chris Eager, Dean Arnold, Kelly Gildner, Jan Ringhand, Rebecca DeMarb, Bill Hammann, Karen
Aikman, Sandy Decker, Tim Schwecke.

Also Present: Attorney Ron Trachtenburg, Desmond Murphy; Dick Woulfe, Evansville Observer.

The meeting was called to order at 5:30 p.m. by Chair Chris Eager. During opening round attendees introduced themselves to the invited speaker, Ron Trachtenburg, an attorney who represents commercial developers.

Attorney Trachtenburg provided much information regarding large scale commercial development. He identified merchandise selection and cost as the main advantages of large scale retailers.

Other information provided by Mr. Trachtenburg is summarized as follows:

When a large retailer considers development in a city, it studies demographics (including economic standards), car counts and location (near highways or highway junctions). Large retailers generally do not like to locate "downtown" because it is not near a highway.

Unless "big box" is close (within 4 to 5 blocks) to other retail establishments, business is siphoned to the large retailer.

One acre of land can accomodate 10,000 square feet of retail space. A 200,000 square foot supercenter would require 20 acres of land for development.

Outlet malls, such as found in Johnson Creek, are not generally located in urban areas because urban malls and stores do not want discounted brand merchandise competing with their inventories.

In developing a retail mall, merchandise mix is important so stores are not crippled by a critical mass of competing inventories. Most malls are designed with at least two anchors to provide traffic flow to establishments located between them. A mall with a grocery store needs a 1:1 size ratio of grocery/non-grocery retail.

It is the speaker's view that under Wisconsin law, cities cannot keep out formula businesses, i.e. chain and franchise businesses.

Attorney Trachtenburg gave the following suggestions for dealing with large scale commercial development:

Work cooperatively with the surrounding township(s).

Speak with a mall developer, e.g. John Flad, to understand what a developer would likely design as a successful retail mall in Evansville. This information would be helpful to the Committee when drafting a large scale commercial development ordinance or developing code and design requirements.

Use the zoning code to regulate development . Develop bulk use requirements such as setbacks, square footage, height, floor area ratios and parking.

Economic impact study requirements may stop some development. Motivated developers will meet requirements.

Identify urban design areas and develop urban design criteria to control facade and site design. Motivated developers can be persuaded to provide well-designed, aesthetically-pleasing sites.

The committee completed administrative matters following the speaker's departure. The minutes of the October 13, 2005 meeting were approved as written.

Because of business commitments, Becky Heimerl is unable to serve on this committee. Attempts to draft another representative from the Chamber of Commerce have been unsuccessful.

A Brookings Institution report on downtown revitalization and the implementation element of the Smart Growth Plan were distributed to members for study. Members were also directed to topical information at the following website: http://www.newrules.org/retail/econimpact.html.

Mayor Ringhand will contact the mayor of Mt. Horeb as a possible speaker for the next meeting. Mt. Horeb recently enacted a "big box" ordinance. Information regarding the ordinance drafting process, public education and enacted ordinance will be requested.

The next meeting is scheduled tentatively for Thursday, December 8 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. An alternative meeting date may be selected to accomodate the schedule of the Mt. Horeb mayor.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.



Prepared by:
Sandy Decker, Secretary


These minutes are in draft form until approved at the next meeting.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What "Florence County Schools" means for you; Or, Something has to change

Recently the Florence County School Board voted to dissolve the school district rather than continue in a sub-standard budget. The problem is that in small rural school districts, even with rising property values, if there is falling enrollment, the state funding formula is like a crushing hammer that pressures them to merge.

Until now, there has been some limit of transfers out of a school district, but the problem may get worse after that cap is lifted.

Thus, the problem of Florence, is as close as our neighbor, Albany schools. The problem is very widespread in Wisconsin.

Click on the post for the full article in the Wisconsin State Journal. What are your thoughts on this problem?

WATERCOOLER: What the Riots in France mean for us. Could this happen in the USA?

Recent events that have been like bookends, the hurricane aftermath in New Orleans and the dismal response for those of most need juxtaposed with the riots of French citizens, yes children of immigrants, but citizens, has raised the question of at what point in a society where there is a growing gap between rich and poor the rioting begins. Could it happen here? In fact the question might be why it has not been more widespread here.

Click on the post for the yahoo article.

The article suggests that in the USA, immigrant cultures blend in more and that is the reason that widespread violence has been avoided.

What are your thoughts on this? You make the call.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evansville suspends police officer

Click on the post for an article in the Janesville about the suspension of an Evansville police office. The facts of this case will be detwrmined at the disciplinary hearings to come.

SAGE school program in political tussle; Or, a good program caught up in political posturing?

The SAGE program is a grant program to schools who agree to keep their class sizes at 15 or less. Because some schools have been unable to stay in the program because of space limitations, it has been proposed to be a little flexible, and allow schools to participate for the classrooms that they can get under 15, say in K-4.

Click on the post for the full article. It is not clear whether Gov. Doyle will veto this bill.

I believe that Evansville has received SAGE money. Someone with the numbers might help me with that.

This bill will be one to watch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Evansville Police Commission Minutes---Nov. 1, 2005

EVANSVILLE POLICE COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

Second Floor, City Hall

Evansville, Wisconsin

November 1, 2005

7:00 p.m.

1. Roll call. Commissioners in attendance: Barbara Jacobson, Scott Brummond, John Decker, Steve Hagen. Also present: Chief Scott McElroy, City Attorney Mark Kopp. President Brummond noted Karla Baumgartner Alisankus's resignation from the Commission prior to the meeting, due to the fact she has moved outside the city.

2. Approval of Minutes. Minutes of the Commission's meeting of June 9, 2005 were reviewed. Motion by Hagen to approve the minutes as distributed, seconded by Brummond. Approved by voice vote.

3. Citizen appearances. None.

4. Chief's report. Chief McElroy reported orally on the chronology of the actions taken by the Rock County Sheriff's Department and the Evansville Police Department in response to the complaints of Megan Lowe relative to Sgt. William Fitters. Formal Complaints and Statements of Charges signed by Megan Lowe and by Chief McElroy were personally served upon Sgt. Fitters on October 26, 2005, as shown by the affidavit of service filed with the Secretary of the Commission on November 1, 2005.

Sgt. Fitters has been reassigned to the day shift, where he will be supervised by the Lieutenant and the Chief, and Patrol Officer Booth has been reassigned to the night shift. Chief McElroy advised the Commission that, if the formal charges against Sgt. Fitters are substantiated at the evidentiary hearing to be held in the matter, the Chief will request that Sgt. Fitters's employment with the Evansville Police Department be terminated.

City Attorney Kopp will represent the Chief in the proceedings, and it is understood Attorney Gordon McQuillen of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association will represent Sgt. Fitters.

Chief McElroy also requested the Commission to formally accept the resignations of part-time Patrol Officers Heather Harris and Neil Blau, effective October 12, 2005 and July 15, 2005, respectively.

Decker moved, seconded by Jacobson, to approve the Chief's report, including acceptance of the resignations of Patrol Officers Harris and Blau. Approved by voice vote.

5. Review of disciplinary procedures and Just Cause standards. The Commissioners and Chief McElroy reviewed the Commission's procedures in disciplinary cases and the requirements of Wis. Stat. section 62.13, including the Just Cause standards contained therein. An "initial hearing", nonevidentiary in nature, will be held for purposes of scheduling; to determine if issues can be simplified or if stipulations can be reached between the parties; and to receive Sgt. Fitters's Answers to the Statements of Charges, if not previously filed. The issue of access to personnel records might be an item of discussion at the initial hearing.

The evidentiary hearing will be held at City Hall on a date to be set at the initial hearing.

The hearings will be open to the public, excepting those portions devoted to the deliberations of the Commissioners.

6. Recording of hearings. The Commissioners discussed the limitations of the City's audio recording system for purposes of maintaining a verbatim record of an evidentiary hearing, and the necessity of producing such a record in a very short period of time in the event Circuit Court review of the Commission's decision is sought. Decker moved, seconded by Hagen, to request the City to engage a videographer or court reporter to record the evidentiary hearing. Approved by voice vote.

7. Engagement of hearing examiner or delegation of president's duties. The Commissioners considered whether the President, another Commissioner, or an outside hearing examiner should preside at the initial hearing and the evidentiary hearing. Hagen moved, seconded by Brummond, to approve President Brummond's proposed delegation of such authority to Commissioner Decker pursuant to Rules 11(3) and 13(2) of the Commission's rules of procedure. Approved by voice vote.

8. Retention of counsel for the Commission. Inasmuch as City Attorney Kopp is serving as counsel for Chief McElroy in his capacity as a Complainant in the Fitters case, the Commssioners considered whether counsel should be retained to advise the Commission during the course of the proceedings. Decker reported he had discussed the issue with City Administrator Connors, who recommended in favor of such retention. Decker moved, seconded by Hagen, to request that the City retain Attorney Robert G. Krohn and the law firm of Roethe, Krohn, Pope, McCarthy, Haas & Robinson, LLP, to provide such counsel. Approved by voice vote.

9. Motion to convene in closed session. Brummond moved, seconded by Jacobson, to convene in closed session pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 19.85(1)(f) for preliminary consideration of a specific personnel problem or the investigation of specific charge against a specific person, to wit: Sgt. William Fitters, which, if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person involved in such problem or investigation. Approved by unanimous vote of the Commissioners on roll call vote.

During such closed session the following matter was determined and voted upon: Motion by Brummond, seconded by Hagen, for the Commission to suspend Sgt. William Fitters administratively, and not as a penalty, with full pay, allowances and customary benefits, pending disposition of the charges against him, pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 62.13(5)(b) and Rule 9 of the Commission's rules of procedure. Approved on the following vote: Brummond, Hagen and Jacobson voting "yes"; Decker voting "no."

10. Adjournment. Motion to adjourn sine die by Hagen, seconded by Decker. Approved by voice vote.

Respectfully submitted,

John R. Decker

Secretary

Note: Minutes of the Commission are not official until approved by the Commission at a meeting called and noticed for that purpose.

WATERCOOLER: Should the City of Evansville contribute to the Crossing Guard Expense of School?

Last night at the Evansville Finance Committee meeting, it was explained that the Evansville School District had asked if the City could contribute half of the crossing guard expense for the coming year. About $9,000.

The Finance committee voted unanimously not to make a contribution. The logic here was that many taxing authorities have children bussed to Evansville to school. Why should the city be the one municipality to contribute and not the others?

The Evansville school district explained that due to a state formula which does not fully reimburse the school for the increase of 60 students they have, but only 20, they do not have the funds to fully finance the school crossing expense.

What are your thoughts on this issue? You make the call.

"The fact that you have opinions and feelings on issues means you are at the table; It is the ones that have no opinions.They are the dangerous ones"

Right before the Finance committee meeting last night, one of the alderman was explaining his position on an issue to Finance Chair, Karen Aikman ,and ended by saying, "I am sorry, I just have strong feelings on this issue."

"Don't ever feel sorry about it," Karen Aikman replied. "The fact that you have opinions or feelings about the issue means you are at the table. The one's who have no ideas or opinions. They are the dangerous ones."

While I was startled by the comment at the time, I have pondered on it, and believe that this is exactly so. Whether you are a young man who does not propose because he is worried about what his mother or mother in law or frineds might think or the person who does not speak out because of fear of being wrong on an issue, nothing happens till the person has enough committment to risk being occasionaly uncomfortable. Being at the table.

As we approach election time, it is helpful to realize that some do not want to be uncomfortable either in dealing with others opinions or their own. Yet that is what committment is all about.

Evansville Finance Committee Meets--decides not to allocate $450M of Exhange $ to TIF5

The Evansville Finance Committee met on Monday night and went over the pros and cons for the allocation of $450M of expenses of Exchange Street construction from Franklin to Water Street.

Mr. Connors explained that in discussing the project, people have referred to "Exchange Street expenses" but in reality there are two portions to this, first the portion from Main Street to Franklin that was originally in TIF 5, and then the portion from Franklin to Water(450M). The first portion was 350M and part of TIF 5. The second portion was not really decided on as to whether it was going to be in the TIF or not. Some had assumptions that it would be. Mr. Connors went on that the city is the principal owner of property on Exchange in the second portion, and the only tax increment that might occur would be if the city chose to sell the land. It is true that some lots next to the railroad tracks may be developed, but still this would result in a fairly small increment result.

Mr. John Decker represented the Redevelopment Authority and explained the reasoning for their recommendation not to include the second portion in the TIF. He explained that it is important for a TIF to have enough money available to be a motivation for developers to come to the table with their projects. Developers would look at a TIF with heavy loading of infrastructure costs as being a poor prospect for success and not be motivated to locate in it.

At the end of the discussion, Ald. Cothard stated, "Well, we have the money in the regular budget for this. Let's just pay for it." Everyone agreed. The issue will not be on the Council agenda for the Tuesday meeting since it is settled.

For the record, the Observer just observed.

Elections Coming for Evansville; Observer announces Role

Formal deadlines for filing for Evansville city elections in April are approaching, as well as filing for local school board elections. My intentions are to remain neutral in the election, and position The Evansville Observer as a forum for issues to be debated and ideas exchanged.

In addition to hosting the on line forum, I would be open to being the moderator of a live debate if one is held and my services are requested. Also, I would be open to moderating a debate of high school students debating local issues, prior to the adult debate. I believe that it is very important for students to be informed of local issues, and to begin learning how to debate these issues in a respectful way.

There are folks who have debated on line in The Observer, who should be running for public office. I will be encouraging these folks to participate, although I will remain neutral. I want to see lots of healthy participation on all sides of issues.

I would urge folks to remember the graduation address of Heidi Garvin to the 2005 senior class. It ended with the encouragement to the graduates to "Be the change you want to see."

It is not enough to sit on the sidelines. You can have a seat at the table. You just need to pull up a chair.

The Evansville Observer

Decker Announces Mayoral Campaign

November 3, 2005


Contact: Sandy Decker
deckercorp@charter.net
Phone: 608-882-5528


Sandy Decker
Announces Mayoral Campaign


Sandy Decker, 143 West Main Street, recently filed a Declaration of Candidacy for the office of Mayor of the City of Evansville. The mayoral position will be open in April 2006.

Sandy is a 1970 honors graduate of Evansville High School and received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors, majoring in psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974. She was most recently employed as the treasurer and office manager at Decker & Gunta, S.C., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sandy currently is a member of the Evansville Community Partnership Grant Writing Council, Large Scale Commercial Development Ad Hoc Committee, Grove Society, Women's Literary Club of Evansville and serves as chair of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission. She was the recipient of a 2005 ECP "Just Desserts" volunteer award.

Sandy is the daughter of Ken and Pat Kuelz, Evansville. She is married to John Decker and has one child, Jennifer. Her grandparents were from Evansville and all of her great-grandparents were Rock County residents, with three of the four couples from Evansville.

"It would be my pleasure and honor to serve the citizens of Evansville as mayor and, if I am elected, I pledge that I will work hard and use my best efforts on behalf of the City I love," states Decker. "I look forward to meeting my fellow citizens during the campaign and discussing the future of our wonderful community."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Evansville mourns loss of Fr.Edward J. Erbe

Monsignor Edward J. Erbe passed away on Saturday, Nov 5, 2005. His funeral Mass will be held at St. Bernard Parish, 2450 Atwood, Middleton, on Wednesday morning, 11/9/2005.

Click on the post for the full obit in the Wisconsin State Journal.


Father Erbe was the pastor of St. Paul's in Evansville as well as Our Lady Queen of Peace in Madison. When Sue and I moved to Madison in 1984, we heard a sermon by Fr. Erbe that convinced us to locate in the parish. We loved his sermons but did not know him as a person. We later moved to Evansville and when Fr. Erbe moved to Evansville we grew to know him as a friend and pastor.

Recently,one of our fellow bloggers got Fr. Erbe a Harley decal for his scooter at St. Mary's hospital as well as a Harley bear. The last time Sue saw him in the hospital she gave him the Harley bear and told him his friends in Evansville were rooting for him. It was a very special moment. Thanks again to those bloggers.

The spirit of Fr. Erbe will live on. We will miss him deeply.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

WATERCOOLER: Should Evansville Finance Committee and City Council Disregard Vote of Redevelopment Authority & put Exchange Costs to TIF#5

The Redevelopment Authority met last month and in a 3-2 vote, voted against recommending to Finance that they put the costs of rebuilding Exchange Street, $450,000, into the TIF#5.

Their argument was that 1) these costs were the usual costs of constructing a road; 2) There was zero prospect of any tax increment to these costs; 3) Any inclusion of these costs would be outside the plan that was approved by the city financial consultants and the board of electors that certified to the taxpayer that it was forseeable that the projects included in TIF#5 would have the necessary tax increment to be successful. 4) The inclusion of these costs would increase the likelihood of TIF#5 failure. It would be better to just recognize the costs now on the tax role rather than park the debt and doom TIF#5.

If you review the agenda for the Tuesday night Common Council meeting, you can see on Resolution 2005-50 that the city plans on disregarding the advice of the Redevelopment Authority.

Before the TIF #5 was created, it was suggested that one way to ensure TIF success in an atmosphere of high turnover of city council members, was to create an independent management of the TIF. This did not happen. The fact that Resolution 2005-50 is on the agenda is recognition that the necessary independence is not there. Mr. David Wagner, the city financial consultant testified in open session that his recommendation WAS that the city have an independent administration of the TIF.

The issue is not whether it was good to create the new Exchange Street. Everyone I have talked to loves it and is thrilled with the change. The issue is how to do the accounting for it that will not imperil the TIF#5. The issue is not whether people like TIF's but about making them effective and transparent to the taxpayer. There are important aspects of TIF#5 for the improvement of the lower East Main and Union that might not have enough capital to address if the TIF is jammed with these costs early.

Rather than let these accounting issues become skeletons in the closet for the future, I think it is important for city leaders and citizens to discuss this issue BEFORE the vote occurs on Tuesday.

I have begun the issue clarification. I urge you to contribute to the discussion if you have an opinion one way or another.

You have the answers. I just begin the questions. You make the call.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Evansville Man finds bones in attic

Hats off to the Janesville Gazette who beat me to this story. A man renting an apartment above the Village Square found some bones in the attic.

Click on the post for the full story in the Janesville Gazette. Have you checked your attic lately?

Book Reviews and Misc. Stories moved to Sept 1, 2005

At the suggestion my daughter, Julie, I have separated out the book reviews and reflections and put them on September 1st. Eventually, I hope to have a separate link for them.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Re: A second report from the side

--- Fred Juergens <fredjuergens@charter.net> wrote:

> I'm two weeks into my first-ever volunteer service
> with the American Red Cross, and my understanding
> of its mission, accomplishments and needs is growing
> daily.
>
> First, I've learned that, even before Hurricane
> Wilma struck south Florida, RC's efforts in the
> aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have
> required over fifteen (15!) times the number of
> volunteers and resources that have ever been needed
> in a single year in the history of Red Cross. Think
> of the incredible outpouring of donated time and
> money from the American people to assist fellow
> Americans in need.
>
> Since Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Red Cross
> has donated direct financial assistance in a variety
> of ways, including debit cards, vouchers, checks and
> cash, to about 1.2 million families, totalling more
> than 3.7 million men, women and children. Red Cross
> has provided hurricane survivors with nearly 3.4
> million overnight stays in nearly 1,100 shelters
> across 27 states and the District of Columbia.
> More than 211,400 Red Cross disaster relief workers
> from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin
> Islands have responded. Red Cross, in coordination
> with the Southern Baptist Convention, has served
> more than 26.3 million hot meals and 23.2 million
> snacks to hurricane survivors to date. And through
> the Emergency Response Call Center, where I
> volunteer, we've answered almost 900,000 calls from
> hurricane victims to direct them to other resources
> for assistance, help that is outside the scope of
> the RC's mission of immediate emergency relief.
>
> Second, I've also learned that Red Cross' efforts,
> massive as they are, do not always measure up to our
> mission. Red Cross estimates that half a million
> callers hung up because our hotlines were so busy.
> Hopefully they called back and finally got through.
> Yesterday a distraught lady from rural east Texas
> called me on the hotline. She was a day-laborer who
> hadn't worked in several weeks, because no work was
> to be had. She needed money for the co-pay required
> by her state's program to assist low income people
> in paying for their prescriptions. She needed money
> to buy more propane to heat the mobile home in which
> she lived. She finally received RC's debit card in
> the mail, more than a month after she had applied at
> a temporary service center RC had set up in the
> little town near her home. She was so grateful it
> came, she said. She barely had money to buy gasoline
> to drive to the nearest ATM. And then...it didn't
> work. The temporary service center had closed weeks
> before!
> , she didn't know how to reach RC in a larger Texas
> city, and so she called the hotline. She was
> crying, and I felt so inadequate to help her. I
> informed the Red Cross in Texas of her plight, so
> they could imediately look into why her card
> wouldn't work; however, on the phone, all I could do
> was listen sympathetically to her story and suggest
> that she contact a local church or other charitable
> agency to request more immediate help. It's
> experiences like these that really take a toll on me
> and the many other hotline volunteers. We're trying
> to do so much, and sometimes we fall short. It's
> very frustrating and humbling.
>
> Third, I've come to realize how much most Americans
> take for granted as we proceed through our daily
> lives, how fragile is the hold on a decent life for
> many of our neighbors and countrymen, and how
> inadequately most of us are prepared to take care of
> ourselves in a disaster, let alone "promote the
> general welfare", as it says in the Preamble to the
> United States Constitution. The Red Cross has a
> brochure available that details what every family
> should do to prepare, well in advance, for a
> potential emergency; what supplies every household
> should store up, just in case; a communications plan
> to let others know where they are and if they're
> safe. I'd be surprised if more than 1/4 of
> Evansville's households have made such emergency
> preparations; I know I haven't. It will be high on
> my list of priorities when I return home. Don't say
> it won't happen to you; remember the tornado that
> hit Stoughton a few months ago. The Janesville RC
> office can either send you such a brochure !
> or tell you where to get one.
>
> Four other Wisconsin Red Cross volunteers here at
> the Call Center, Beryl from Union, Jane from
> Madison, Paul from West Bend, and Arley from Lac
> Courte O'reilles, and I made an excursion to our
> nation's capital yesterday. We had a purpose; it
> was not just for fun. First, we visited Senator
> Herb Kohl. Senator Kohl meets his constituents for
> a regularly scheduled breakfast in his office each
> Wednesday whenever Congress is in session. With
> some 15 other Wisconsinites not there on Red Cross
> business, we talked with Kohl and his staff about
> concerns we had. Naturally, we five described our
> work as Red Cross volunteers and asked him to
> evaluate and improve the government's programs to
> assist disaster victims. We wanted to impress on
> him the continuing needs of people in the Gulf Coast
> area, to tell him of our first-hand experiences to
> bring the message home. It was a very cordial
> visit. From there, we made a spontaneous stop at
> Senator Russ Feingold's office to take our mes!
> sage there. He was not in, but one of his aides
> generously sat down with us for an extended
> discussion; I feel confident that Feingold will
> learn of what we've been doing and the need to aid
> people in the south. After that, we visited
> Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's office. She was
> attending Rosa Parks' services; we again pressed our
> message to her aides. One of her interns, Carley, a
> college student in Washington for a semester through
> a Marquette University program, generously gave us a
> behind-the scenes tour of the Capitol Building, and
> we had lunch in the basement cafeteria used by the
> staff of the House of Representatives. Then we
> returned to the Call Center to work our 3pm-11:30pm
> shift on the telephones.
>
> This morning a good friend of mine, Carolyn from
> Madison who's a long-time Red Cross volunteer,
> called me from Key West, Florida, where she is
> working after Hurricane Wilma. She and her Disaster
> Action Team are walking the streets of the city,
> looking for people who may need assistance. She
> says trees and power lines are down all over, cars
> damaged by the salt-water storm surge are abandoned
> in the streets, it's hot and humid, and conditions
> are made worse by continuing rains in the last few
> days. She says they just have to pick their way
> through the rubble everywhere. Fortunately the power
> is back on in parts of the city. I told her that,
> two nights ago, I had talked with a disabled man in
> a wheel chair in that city; he was running out of
> food and had no one else to turn to for help. His
> cell phone cut out before I could get more details.
> He was just lost to me. I wonder what happened to
> that man, if Carolyn will find him, if he's found
> the help he needs, somehow, !
> somewhere.
>
> I'll never again be the same person I was before I
> took on this task with the Red Cross. I feel so
> fortunate that I have had the opportunity to help
> other people -- people I've never seen and whose
> future lives I won't ever know about. My sense of
> responsibility for other human beings has vastly
> increased. On the other hand, I've learned how hard
> it is to do this work; I'm really tired. I know I'm
> doing important work and I will persevere to the end
> of my three-week stint here at the Call Center. I
> will volunteer again in the future. I have immense
> respect for the Red Cross volunteers actually
> working in disaster areas. Their task is much
> harder than mine. One older lady working at the call
> center told me this is her 27th national disaster
> volunteer position, that she regrets she's too old
> to actually work in the field any longer. I hope
> that all who read this can find a way to contribute
> to the Red Cross mission to aid the victims of all
> the disasters, big and small!
> , that strike Americans year after year.
>
> Best wishes,
> Fred Juergens
>

Tidbits from the Evansville Planning Commission Meeting-Wed, Nov 1

----The Planning Commission discussed the draft ordinance proposed to amend the section of the zoning code which limits reconstruction of non-conforming structures. The problem addressed here is the small non-standard older home that burns by fire. This amendment would allow 18 months for the home to be reconstructed on the same lot, and an extension of 18 months if necessary. This amendment will be subject to public hearing in December and will be sponsored by Ald Tom Cothard and Ald. John Sornson. The current code does not allow reconstruction and hence some insurance companies might not pay the settlement of the fire claim.

If you own an older home on a small lot in Evansville, be sure to let your alderman know that you support this ordinance amendment.

-----The planning commission discussed regulation of outdoor wood furnaces. There are many in Evansville now due to skyrocketing natural gas prices. Tim Schwecke, City Planner, went over what other communities are doing and possible areas of regulation. Ald. Cothad mentioned that Water and light is providing some rebates on purchase of these as an energy saving device and it makes little sense to make it too difficult for these folks with onorous regulation. The general consensus was that some rules about distance from lot line adjacent to a neighbor and possibly some rules on storage of fuel such as corn which might attract rodents. I believe a draft will be brought up next month for review.

-----There was some discussion of further regulation of banners and signs. However, some pictures were presented of the downtown in 1900 that show lots of signs and banners in a rich display of commerical activity. No alderman sponsor was ready to sponsor any further regulation at this time, so the matter died.

If you attended this meeting and would like to add to these notes, feel free to add your comments on the comment line.

Fitchburg lands prize for Business Tech Campus---Nanotech co.-- Platypus

Firchburg has landed a prize first tenant for their business technology campus. The firm, with ties to the UW Madison, has patents on substance detection technology and has large contracts pending with the government.

Click of the post for all the details.

Evansville East Main pleased with Radar Trailer Results

The placement of the new Evansville Police Radar Trailer on East Main has had an excellent effect on slowing the traffic to the 25mph. speed limit. Thank You.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Evansville Planning Commission approves Final Land Dividers Agreement for Westfield Meadows--What it all means for Evansville

The Evansville Planning Commission met on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005 and approved the final land dividers agreement for Westfield Meadows. The final documents presented reflected the complicated and difficult engineering, legal, and political work that has been done over the past two years.

That first meeting two years ago was contentious with unhappy Westside honeowners facing water problems and not wanting more problems for anyone. The developer was told that any vision for Westfield Meadows must look at the the larger water management system for the area for not just NOW but for 20 years ahead. That was a difficult thing to do, but that is precisely what was presented in final form last night.

Much of the preliminary work has been in Public Works meetings chaired by Bill Hammann, going over the checklists that were developed as a result of Smart Growth input. Some items of interest are:

---There will be three retention ponds in the total development, which makes it the most complicated engineering watershed project ever for Evansville.
----The most important retention pond will be constructed FIRST, before any home is built, and it will have a positive effect on all of the Westside in water handling.
----Each and every lot will have the elevation listed on the deed. The exact nature of the future development for the neighbors, such as duplexes will be shown to each buyer prior to purchase--full disclosure.
----Westfield Meadows will mark the end of Evansville for a long time to come----It will be the end of the capacity for Well Pump #6. Thus...
----The land designated for "future school site" needs to be renamed---it is in high water area and not available to sewer. Someone needs to tell the school. I guess it is The Observer. The site dream needs to be modified.
----The Westfield Meadows is a phased project that complies with the objectives of the Smart Growth Plan and the identified 27% growth rate the community seeks. The total number of units in this project is 158.
----Some of the homes may be no basement. It may be zero or 10, but the final number will be up to the engineers. The specifications for the decision making process have been agreed on.


If any who attended the meeting have anything to add, use the comment line, or email me at woulfe98@yahoo.com

What all this means for Evansville?

Hopefully this will be a homerun. A wonderful engineering story. A wonderful diverse development. Hopefully, also, the process of checklists will have prevented some of the problems of the past and result in a high quality development that all can be proud of.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Norwegian Wood; Or, the power of persistance

Norwegian Wood

Some time ago, I wrote an article about my friend, Denny, the agricultural science professor and rock star. My old roommate, Rich Ginnaty has prompted me, to relate the rest of the story.

The three of us, Rich, Denny and I had moved into the bachelor pad on the edge of Dinky Town in Minneapolis, just next to the railroad tracks. It was the fall of 1969 and it was that time of our lives when we were between steady girlfriends. Rich, who had just completed his BS in accounting and was working his first job, was for us a guru financial advisor. One evening after work, we noticed that three beautiful women had moved just next door. One especially was striking, tall, brown hair and we had heard a rumor that she was a beauty queen from somewhere up north---the really frozen tundra.

We had to ask ourselves then what three pretty commonplace guys could possibly have that might attract such fine women. Rich, ever the financial analyst had us list our assets and liabilities. Yes, we were light on cash. Yes, we had extensive financial liabilities. However, we had the musical talent of Denny and his guitar. We groaned. Alas, he knew just five songs. Quickly we went over the five. Ok. Number two was Norwegian Wood. Bingo. That was the answer.

Next we had to review our looks. They were ok, but we needed something of a “superhero look,” something that might elevate Denny from “roofers helper” to renaissance minstrel. Quickly we went over our clothing stock. There was a very large bath towel, purple. There were some white long johns and some red shorts as well as a white shirt. Quickly we put it together to form a “superman” effect.

When all the girls had gotten home from school we began singing “Norwegian wood” through the wall at first. After singing for an hour we realized that the wall was dampening our sound and it was possible that they were not able to clearly hear our plaintive message. So, we moved to the balcony. Presto. In just another 15 minutes there was a loud rap on our door.

Breathlessly we opened the door. “ Well,” the tall dark haired one said, “we will give you two choices! Either come over for coffee or we will call the police.” Bingo.

So there it is. The whole story. On persistence. On determination. On what it takes to succeed.

Even today, I always have confidence that even if the long-range memory and short range memory is failing, I will always remember the lyrics to Norwegian Wood and that may be the difference.

"The Count"; On What, Where and HOW to count

Some of you have emailed me wondering where I was last night as the "Count" in my purple cape, the black vest, rumpled white shirt and the vampire mask. I have to admit that my thick glasses did not go with the vampire mask, and further, purple capes are really hard to find these days. So, I just handed out some candy to all the kids who came.

But, since I have been questioned by some as to my theory of the "Count", I should expand on "HOW" to count, now that it appears that all the building expansion for the next ten years has been penciled in for Evansville.

There is good news and bad news. First the good news. All across this country, if you search on enrollment and housing permits, you will see a pattern of large urban school districts facing dispair as birth rates plummet, schools close, neighborhoods decline, programs in the arts cut etc. Bill Gates of Microsoft and reps from the DeJong company, specialists in enrollment projection are telling school districts that the perfect size of a school is 400 with 100 in each grade, and that in America, 99% of schools are ineffective.

So, the good news is----- we have the size right.

On the matter of "HOW" to count. If you click on the post,(you may have to search yahoo on "Akron schools +enrollment" it is #5 an Adobe document) you will see the planning document of the Akron School District. Using GIS software, and the enrollment data of the past plus housing starts and demographic data, they have done a projection of their needs. Evansville already has most of this demographic data. The bottom line is that not all housing starts create a burden for the schools. Upscale condo units or senior housing may not be the type of building that local builders want to build, but they are what would fit in the TIF district nicely and contribute to the downtown.

What is the bad news? At the recent Union-Evansville joint planning session, a Union attendee said " You can plan all you want, but if Albany schools is merged with Evansville, or a large development occurs toward Janesville at the edge of the Evansville School district or there is 2000 acres taken to R1 in Union, or all three, all bets are off. "( That is a rough quote. ) He is right of course.

Still, it is important to do the numbers. The GIS software is available for this purpose. It would hopefully establish a "HOW" of counting that would contribute to the discussion rather than to the rant. As Karen has pointed out in an earlier comment, without a precise way of talking about the issue of growth, it becomes a maze of confusion.