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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Evansville Community turns out for 4K Hearing------Let the hearing begin.

On Monday night at the Evansville High School LMC, the Evansville community turned out in large numbers for the 4K Hearing. It was a remarkable meeting. After the initial presentation of the proposed 4K program by Lou Havlik, questions were entertained, and then folks that wanted to make a short speech on pro or con were invited to speak.

In the course of the hearing, all of the daycare centers were heard from. In prior meetings, none had spoken. Whether it was politics, finances, diversity or any aspect of the proposed 4k program, the parents asked it. At the end of the "hearing" there was a very clear sense of the "community will" about the 4K program.

The Observer will post some of the audio of this meeting for the larger community to hear. Now----after the meeting----it is the time for the "hearing" to begin. To disregard the input of those present would be a very big setback for the Evansville community and the school district.

Stay tuned. The Evansville Observer. Even though the old Observer won't last forever----your words on the Observer will.

Kids Corner/ Jamie Fellows Speaks; 4K is Duplication of Services

At the 4K hearing on Monday night, Jamie Fellows of Kids Corner spoke on the development of the day care centers in Evansville over the past decade, and their role in the community. She pointed out that all the activities that the video presentation made by Lou Havlik at the opening of the meeting were currently being done by the daycare centers.

Of the current 4 Year old children, of the total number of 150 scheduled for next year, 142 are currently being served by the current daycares. She said "What's the point?"

She also indicated that the transportation is not a minor issue since some 4 year olds are not ready for multiple bus transfers throughout the day.

Click on the audio for her full remarks.

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"Time Out"----"Pipe Dreams"

Some of you wonder what the Evansville Observer worldwide headquarters looks like. How we operate etc.

Click on the post. It gives a little glimpse into the mind of The Observer...if he were musical. Enjoy.

Parent Asks Supr. Heidi Carvin: What will be the impact of 4K on taxes? What if no daycares are interested?

(poor audio. However, raise the volume and adjust the tone.)

In this segment, a parent asks what the tax impact would be. Supr. Carvin responds that the revenue gain per student for 4K would be $4400. Thus if 100 students were involved, the total revenue would be $440,000, with the state picking up 2/3 and the local taxpayer paying 1/3.

When asked about the impact on space, i.e. a referendum for additional space needs, Supr. Carvin responded that one of the reasons for a "community based model" was to minimize the necessity for a referendum for space for this.

When asked further what the district would do since the daycare's had indicated no interest in the program, Supr. Carvin said it would be "no problem" for a couple of years, since some other space in early childhood could be utilized.

Some casual observers have speculated that this is where the district is headed if they choose to ignore the feedback of the public at the public hearing. To do so would be to incur higher costs for the district. It would be essentially going head to head with the current daycares in Evansville for daycare services. Listen carefully to the audio.

Stay tuned to The Evansville Observer as we follow this developing story. Remember, it's The Evansville Observer, Where,

You make the call.

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Classic Audioblogger: "My Honorable Opponent----old tyme debate skills

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Gazette Corner: Gina Duwe covers the 4K Hearing

Click on the post. Enjoy.

Supr. Heidi Carvin Speaks: 4k plan was based on 53 returned surveys out of 500 mailed

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Tammy asks: Is transportation mandated with 4K? pilot program?

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Wee Ones Daycare Speaks:

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Observer asks the question: $178M deficit; Have the numbers changed? Supr. Heidi Carvin Responds--audioblogger---hearing is not for $$$ talk?

If you scroll down the blog you will see the post from the Evansville School Board Finance Committee where Supr. Carvin, Mr. Pierick and Mr. Larson go into some detail on the first year $178,000 deficit to be caused by the proposed 4K program implementation and how it would be handled---either from the fund balance or from .28 /1000 of property valuation on the property tax roles.

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At the 4K hearing on Monday night, there was a question on costs and the answer was that they were not known. The Observer sought to clarify whether the numbers had changed, had been forgotten, or whatever. Click on the audioblogger and enjoy.

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Parent asks about class size of 20---NEIR says any over 12-15 is ineffective

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Monday, October 30, 2006

School Beat: 4K Hearing on Monday 5:30PM--- Finance meeting; Either $178M fund balance Decrease or mill rate increase + state taxes first year

(Ed. note. As background for the 4K hearing that will be conducted at the Evansville School Board meeting on Monday night, 5:30PM, High School Media room, I have republished the post for the recent finance committee meeting. It is unclear at this time whether there will be video for this meeting on Monday night. But, just to be sure, wear your best. Remember---sound, makup, lighting. Roll)

Supr. Heidi Carvin reviewed the 4K proposal---its structure and its financial impact. There are three possible models for 4K. The first occurs in school facilities. This is not under consideration. The second, option 2, occurs at the daycare center with school hired staff. The third occurs at day centers with day center staff. The final package of 4k may be a blend of Option 2 and Option 3.

In the first year, assuming that Evansville has experience similar to Edgerton, which has the model that Evansville is following, the impact to Evansville taxpayers would be either a mill rate increase of .28 per 1000 of valuation or a reduction of the School fund balance of $178,000. There would also be the portion of the expense that the state would pay for that taxpayers in Evansville would pay for which would be 2/3 of the total expense.

The model assumed 100 students enrolled, but in the examples given, there were openings for 20 at each of two or three daycare centers. Supr. Carvin indicated that many centers increase their space when they are familiar with the program, and there may be other folks that are providing day care that might want to create a business plan and become a center.

It is unclear how many unfilled slots would be available for youngsters that are not already attending day care centers. Supr. Carvin stated there would be no cost, but the question would be how much space would be available. Mr. Hatfield noted that there would be no motivation for a provider to provide a slot for a 3 hour non regular enrolled student. This area remains open for discussion it seems.

Supr. Carvin is meeting with potential contracted daycare providers today and there will be an open house at the end of the month to inform parents about the structure of the possible program.

According to a spreadsheet that was not handed out to attendees, the program as envisioned would be lucrative after the first year and reduce the mill rate from the second year on. However, the blend of option 2 and 3 had not even been decided and the discussion with the daycare centers had not been finalized so one cannot give any further details about such speculation, since that is all it is.

Remember. The Observer. We actually do go to the meetings. Alleluia.

Stay tuned.

Click on the audioblogger icon to listen in:
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Supr. Heidi Carvin went over the fact that this program does not constitute a subsidy of day care. The parents will still pay the daycare the regular amount.
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4K---In-Depth Community Survey Analysis--Jennifer Petruzello Speaks

(Ed. note. Click on the audio icon for the unedited remarks of Jennifer Petruzello, former City of Evanville Administrator, as she provides an in depth analysis of the community survey on 4K Conducted by the School District--what it says, and what it does not. Enjoy. Orig post 7/31/2006)

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Classic Audioblogger:( Orig post 8-2-2006) School Beat: 4K; Sara Speaks on the "Level Playing Field Theory"

(Sara Tortomasi has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and spoke recently at the July Evansville School Board meeting. The audio of her remarks at the school board meeting is under these comments that elaborate on "the level playing field."

I spoke at the Evansville School Board meeting July 10, 2006 when the 4-year-old kindergarten proposal was submitted to the board. The concept of a "level playing field" was discussed at this meeting. I have been asked to elaborate on my feelings about this concept. The purpose of any pre-kindergarten program is to provide children with opportunities to learn how to function in a group, expand their social skills, practice communicating effectively, and foster cognitive and physical development. In short, the goal is to help children meet their potential.

1. There is also the added benefit of kindergarten preparedness. Children who have learned in a structured environment and are able to work with other children are more prepared to learn in kindergarten than those children who have not had a similar experience.

However, I do not feel that the goal of any pre-kindergarten program - public or private - should be to "level the playing field". This implies that there is a snapshot, a standardized description, of a child entering kindergarten. Not only is this not a necessity, it is not a possibility.

All children develop at different rates. All children bring their own experiences, perspectives, values and ideas to kindergarten. It is differences in learning styles and backgrounds that make a kindergarten class a dynamic, exciting place where 5-year-olds can learn together and from each other.

So while I agree that it is important to prepare a child to be ready to learn from kindergarten, I do not feel that the goal is to create a list of prerequisite skills or traits that a child needs to succeed in kindergarten. Kindergarten is there to teach all children, regardless.

( Ed. note. click on the audio icon for the remarks of Sara Tortomasi at the recent July Evansville School Board Meeting that addressed the 4K Proposal. )

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School Beat: Mark writes School Board: Re 4K

(Ed.note. Mark Schnepper will be unable to attend the hearing tonight at 5:30PM re 4K. Below are his comments to the Evansville School Board.)

When 4K was proposed it was stated that it must not result in a tax increase due to the high taxes in Evansville. Under the current proposal, this program indeed would result in a tax increase in year one or it would result in cuts to other programs. I think it is unfair to move forward with 4K after it was promoted as a program that would be property tax neutral.
f there will be no property tax increase to support this program it will mean a cut to other programs. If you move forward with this program without a tax increase by cutting another program, I would like the board to come to a consensus on what program will be cut before you make future cuts to other programs a reality by voting to implement 4k. It is not wise in my opinion to support this program at the expense of another program without identifying what program(s) will be impacted prior to approving the new program.

The 4k program will cost approximately $2000 per student enrolled. I think it is not financially responsible to spend $2000 of taxpayer money on students that are already in a full day preschool program. This money will be spent in addition to the approximately $6500 parents already are spending for 4 year old daycare (likely more in future years). What additional benefit are these students receiving for the additional $2000 of taxpayer money that is spent on students that will be in the same setting for 4k that they are already in the rest of the week anyway? It is my understanding, that this program is supposed to "level the playing field" for the children that don't have the opportunity to attend preschool. It would be much more responsible in my opinion to focus on the children that have a financial need, rather than spending money on every 4 year old child whether they need assistance or not. Please keep in mind that we all pay state taxes and "gaming" the system to obtain more state money does come at a price to all who pay taxes in this state.

Classic Audioblogger: Dateline Normal: The Reduced Lunch--the tale--FICTION

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Classic Audioblogger: The Power of "NO"

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School Beat: 4K: Parent Mark Schnepper Speaks

(Ed. note. Orig post 7/11/2006)

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Half-Day Math---Short and Long Term; Cutting Back on pasta--Loading up on Ice Cream

As a young man, I had the pleasure of working in an accounting firm. It was a firm that specialized in start up companies, and also firms that were struggling. Sometimes stock rather than cash was the method of payment for services.

In start up firms, costs were always a very important matter for attention. One of the accountants always used to smile and say, "Did I ever tell you about the guy that lost a little on each sale, but made it up on volume? Then the pause. Then the laughter all around.

It is basic in start up firms that are in financial trouble that when managers discuss where they are financially, after quickly talking about the numbers, they quickly spin to ideas of larger revenue down the road. It is a deadly sign that there are cost problems in their analysis.

Thus, in the discussion of the Half-Day Kindergarten, we see in the paper that it is supposedly all about transportation. Yes. Transportation is part of it. That will be discussed further in depth. And Revenue is part of it. But before all the spin. Let's meditate a bit on COSTS.

12 Students, Half Time teacher costs of $21,000. Cost per student for salary and benefits is $1750 per student.

Full Time Kindergarten, Most recent Hire in district, compensation package $70,295---Comparing apples to apples. Cost per student in class of 12---Cost per Student in salary and benefits is $5859.

Now---compare apples to apples---- move to ideal class size of 16: Half Day Cost per student is $1313. Full Day teacher cost with 16 students is $4388.

So---just like in a troubled company---the jugler is always trying to distract the public, or the accounting firm as to where the problem is.

That is the short term cost view; Now the long term view:

Recently I discussed the long term view of half day kindergarten with one of the many newspapers that is covering the issue here in Evansville.

The reporter had lived in a small town with one sibling and both had gone to the same school system all their school career. Both had attended---half day kindergarten. I mentioned the obvious----families come to school systems. One must look at this from the family perspective.

Over their 13 years each in the school system, assuming that "x" is a standard and constant reimbursement amount from the state, over the 13 years, the two children earned 25/26 of what was possible. So---what was the "loss" or what what was the less that top amount--less that 4%. Now consider that reimbursement amounts always go up, and Kindergarten is the first grade, so over 13 years what is the "lost" amount-----I would guess 1% or less.


In summary---whether it is dieting or accounting, one cannot cut back on pasta and load up on ice cream.

There are cost problems---but it has nothing to do with our half-day kindergarten teacher salary----this is one of our most bargain basement cost elements.

At the School board meeting in November, expect the families to present the spreadsheets. After all-----when we do budgets.....we do numbers....Numbers are not letters and words.......Numbers are not rants.

Stay tuned.

Classic Audioblogger: The Strong Finish

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Classic Audioblogger: Natural Accounting--Why you can't cut back on Pasta and Load up on Ice Cream

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"Stormy Monday" by D.P. Cooper; The Observer--News, Analysis...the Blues at No extra charge

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Gazette Corner: Miracle Play boosts Evansville over Brodhead

There is the Hail Mary pass and then there is the total miracle play. This was the miracle. Click on the post for the latest on the Evansville Blue Devils in the Janesville Gazette.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"The Zero Sum Game"---a True Story

The other night as I was eating dinner, as I launched into a second helping of barbequed chicken breast, I mentioned to my daughter that I had just burned off 600 calories on the Nordic Trac, and thus felt very entitled to enjoying a second helping.

"Dad," she replied, " I don't think you get it. There is 1000 calories on your plate right now. No matter what you say, your body does the accounting. You are gaining weight!"

Being the parent, naturally, I was a little taken aback at the insubordination involved in a youngster speaking when not spoken to. Yet, as I reviewed the content of her little speech, I had to admit that the accounting certainly did not add up to the rhetoric. In fact that has been an ongoing theme lately. I have been encountering rhetoric that simply does NOT add up in a lot of areas of my reporting career.

"But....but... I have been cutting back on PASTA," I explained......"O.K., I guess I have been eating a little more ice cream......Maybe that is the problem. Ya think?"

"DA", she responded.

In dieting, the pea pod game just does not work. One cannot get away with saving a little in pasta and making it up in ice cream. The Lord does the accounting----the net result is obvious to all.

So. It's time to get the spreadsheets out. Time to get the pea pod specialists a little light to shine on the numbers. Time to get the real accounting.

Gazette Corner: "Don't Do Away With Half-Day K"

Click on the post for the article written by Gina Duwe in the Janesville Gazette today. Enjoy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Classic Observer--Orig date 2-1-2006------TRUST

(Ed. note. The following is a rough recollection of an actual sermon delivered recently in Evansville.)

Recently one of our parish members was driving on HWY 14 to Madison. He was having trouble concentrating. Everything in his life was going wrong. His wife was sick. He had just lost his job. The kids seemed to be struggling in school. Things were looking pretty bleak. The energy bills were due to arrive next week. Dispair was deep.

Just then a Mercedes sedan pulled around him quickly. On the license plate was one word -------TRUST.

Wow he thought. Suddenly he felt that the Lord was speaking directly to him. "Well," he thought, "I guess this is just how the Lord works."

As the days passed by, things got better for him. He kept thinking of the word TRUST and he seemed to have one good day followed by another.

He had just assumed that it was a minister who had passed him in the Mercedes. There was a vague wonder though as to what kind of minister had a Mercedes coupe. So....he sent for a DMV and low and behold the car belonged to a TRUST Officer of a local bank.

One day on a whim, he stopped in the bank and spoke to the trust officer and laughed and related how important the license plate had been to him. How it had been a big comfort at a very vulnerable moment.

A week or so later a package arrived in the mail. On opening it, he found one license plate with the word TRUST on it. The loan officer simply said that he wanted him to have it as a keepsake since it seemed to mean so much to him.

In a lot of ways, we associate TRUST with religion, but the real deal is that it is imbedded in every aspect of our lives. Like every time we drive and hope that fellow driver follows the rules. O.K. there is HOPE in the case of some of you that have teenage drivers. But mostly it is TRUST. Even in banking it is about TRUST. It is an essential for our lives.

The Circle of Trust has been broken----a true story

The time was twenty years ago. My sister has just been through a perilous period as a public relations pro for a major Fortune 500 company. The pension assets of her world wide company had been threatened because some bonds---yes bonds peddled by Michael Milliken and such--- had comprised such a large portion of the company pension plan that in the panic that ensued with the bond scandal, the retirement of thousands was threatened.

She was called in by the CEO. He told her the mission----to regain trust.

She told him directly that the only way to regain trust was to remove the barriers to communication and unite the employees worldwide, for better for worse---in an internal blog of sorts. To dispel rumor. Quickly.

A year later. The panic was over. The employees had shared their worst fears. They had fashioned a financial solution together with management. It was not pretty. They were in it together.

A year later, Susie was invited to speak in front of the Conference Board in Washington. They wanted a speech about broken trust, and how to regain it. The Conference Board is the board that each month releases the economic index of confidence. They wanted to hear some ideas on trust. On confidence. On how to regain it once broken.

In her speech, Susie reviewed the conditions of employment of our fathers and mothers through the first 70 years of this century. Folks working their careers with one company. A spirit of compact between employer and employee. Then she described the total breakdown that was underway in America.

She likened the breakdown to the experience of the American Indian. She referred to one of the Indian speeches, I believe it was by Black Elk, of the Sioux nation. He described the situation of the Indian. He said that they had made compacts with all the Presidents and all the compacts had been broken. Was there not one person left who could keep his word?

Black Elk went on to describe the vision of his people---a vision of interdependence world wide. A sacred circle. A sacred hoop.

I relate the story in this season of politics since it is a time when promises are made with ease and easily broken. Too easily broken.

This year especially, it seems that it is simply out of fashion to even talk about issues whatsoever. It is all about scandal, diversion and smear.

Being a leader as Black Elk saw it is more than a shell game. A game of deceit. It is a sacred role. Something to think about.
Ed. note---the following is one of the many poems of Black Elk titled, "Sunset."


The Sunset

Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.

And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy...

But anywhere is the center of the world.

News Desks Shift Focus to --- Holloween Party---Arrests--etc. -Secure your Yellow Vest Now

Relax. The content of the big news chains for the entire weekend will be the Halloween party in Madison. Please do not be disappointed if there is no other content. I expect that the news desks will be shut down. I know some of you are waiting for some breaking stories and are wondering what the deal is. Relax. After the melee is over, the news will come.

A word of caution. According the story in Isthmus,( click on the post ), last year a news reporter was tear gassed in the confusion, so----- all news personnel need to secure a yellow security vest to avoid this happening.

Oh. And Bloggers. Let's just go ahead and buy our own. Thus the general rule----if you don't have a yellow vest don't go near downtown Madison.

There was a little tension yesterday as it was speculated that there might not be enough beer to go around. Relax. There will be enough.

Gazette Corner: Edgerton eyes Residential, Commercial Development Downtown

Click on the post for the latest in the Janesville Gazette about the proposed downtown development in Edgerton.

Classic Audioblogger: "Car Care and Cardiology"

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Monroe Times: School Beat: Monroe: Board Discusses "Eclipse Curriculum Tracking Software" and "Exit Interview", Trust and Responsibility

(Ed. note. The following is a portion of the minutes as noted in the Monroe Times for the school board meeting of Oct. 23, 2006)

* Heard a special report from Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Thayer regarding curriculum and data software. Thayer said teachers have been researching and mapping curriculum on paper, which is cumbersome and impractical, for about five years. She also said the district has needed to begin data warehousing to track student achievement and other data. Thayer presented software called Eclipse Curriculum Manager from Eclipse Academic Systems, a company based in Madison. Compared to other curriculum and data management software, the Eclipse software is "relatively inexpensive" and still "very high quality," Thayer said. Several area districts using Eclipse, including Albany, Black Hawk, Juda, Monticello and New Glarus, have given the software positive reviews. The software would cost $20,000 in the first year, which would be covered by the Monroe Alternative Middle School grant, and carry under $10,000 in ongoing costs. In the second year, the software could be paid for with the Abraham Lincoln Accelerated Learning Academy grant. This item will be brought back to the board at its next meeting for official approval.

* Heard a special report from Superintendent Craig Jefson and Monroe High School Principal Mark Burandt about the Graduate Survey Report, conducted by LifeTrack. Jefson said several years ago the board issued a directive for an exit interview of all graduating high school seniors and then a follow-up. Jefson and Burandt presented the results of the survey with the class of 2004. Of the surveys sent, 70 percent of students responded. Some of the results were as follows: 58.9 percent were attending a four-year college or university; 93.7 percent said they received a quality education in Monroe; 89.6 said Monroe teachers held high standards; about 72 percent said co-curriculuar activities were an important part of their education; about 79 percent said they received "good" or "excellent" preparation for continuing education. Burandt said the report shows the school district is "doing a pretty good job," but offers no comparative data. The results also do not address the district's weaknesses. At a cost of $3,000 a year, Burandt and Jefson were unsure if the district was getting something valuable. The board voted to not renew the contract with LifeTrack for the Graduate Survey. ........

* Discussed findings from several focus group sessions. Board member Bob Erb said he's had "positive" discussions. Board member Joseph Tomasiewicz said the public still has issues with "trust and credibility" in the district. Board member Pam Wyss said people have expressed concern about maintaining staff morale in light of difficult times.

Common Council: Minutes: Special Budget Meeting, Oct.5,2005

(Ed. note. The following is an edited portion of the minutes of the special budget meeting of Common Council. Some of these numbers may have changed a bit since Oct. 5, 2006. Stay tuned to The Evansville Observer for the latest.)


Ms. Petruzzello reported the draft budget has been prepared with the primary goal of continuing to provide basic services to a growing community, while maintaining a stable tax rate. In addition, the budget will be prepared to meet the guidelines of the State of Wisconsin Expenditure Restraint Program and ensure that the City’s levy complies with the State’s property tax levy limit. An effort has been made to include all items previously recommended by governing committees and all items incorporated into the 2007 Capital Plan.

The City tax levy will again be held to a Property Tax Levy Limit by the State of Wisconsin. This limit is equal to the ratio of the increase in equalized value form January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2006, from new construction divided by the total equalized value as of January 1, 2005. The 2007 Property Tax Levy limit will be 6.11%. Therefore, the City may levy no more than $1,953,018 for the purposes of general operations, EMS, Library, Cemetery, Debt Service and Capital projects. The proposed budget includes the maximum levy allowable.

The levy included in the proposed budget would result in a modest property tax rate increase of 0.59%. Under this scenario, the City tax on an average residential value would increase $18.66 from $993.46 to $1012.12 because of an increase in the average residential assessed value and the 0.59% increase in the tax rate.

Electric and Water Utilities

Mr. George presented the Electric and Water Utilities budgets. The budgets showed revenues without increase in water rates, and the substation project was moved from the 2006 to 2007.

General Government

Mrs. Petruzzello, and Mr. Jepperson presented the budgets for Common Council, Mayor, City Administrator, Clerk/Treasurer, Finance Director, and Other General Government. The Clerk’s budget included one additional staff member. Ms. Skinner reported the Senior Citizens Transportation and Senior Citizens Program have not received a raised in many years. She requested a $600 (or 3%) increase for transportation totaling $20,600 and $1,500 increase for Senior Program totaling $6,500. The Economic Development budget in the packet was $5,000. Now, Economic Development Committee is requesting a budget of $15,000, so that they can fund a proposed Evansville Chamber of Commerce Promotional Director position. The Committee discussed the pros and cons of funding the proposed new position.

Public Safety

Scott McElroy presented the Police Department budget, which shows the inclusion of one additional full-time police officer and the elimination of part-time officers. Council discussed the cost and safety issues related to the proposed change in staffing for the police department.

Mr. Beaver presented the EMS budget, and Mr. Halvensleben presented the Fire Protection budget.


Ms. Kemp presented the Library budget. The Committee noted, in prior years, the Common Council raised the Library’s budget 5%, so the Library could buy need materials and books.

Municipal Court

Judge Alisankus presented the Municipal Court budget.

Capital Budget/TID #5/Debt Service

Mr. Jepperson presented the Capital Projects, TID No. 5, and Debt Service budgets. The Committee noted that additional capital fund balance be utilized to reduce the amount of the note issue when borrowing in 2007.

Building Inspection/Public Works/Recycling & Refuse/Cemetery/Parks & Recreation/Wastewater Treatment Utility

Mr. Wartenweiler presented the Building Inspection, Public Works, Recycling and Refuse, Cemetery, Parks and Recreation, and Wastewater Treatment Utility budgets. The Public Works’ budget included one additional staff member to address the increase workload due to growth of city infrastructures, new parks, and new businesses. The Committee discussed the implementation date of the additional employee on March 1st and May 1st. The consensus was to delay the implementation date to May 1st. "

Minutes: Planning Commission: Oct. 2,2006----Pending noted

(Ed. note. The following was noted in the Planning Commision minutes of Oct. 2, 2006.)

"In regards to the update on determining break-even point (tax revenue equals tax expenditures) for housing in Evansville, work is pending.

In regards to the update on adopting a requirement that prior to annexation, the petitioner pays for a fiscal impact analysis of the proposed annexation, work is pending."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dateline Normal: Reduced Lunch---the tale--fiction

(Ed. note. The following is one of a long series of fictional sketches from a city up in northern Minnesota, called Normal. It is just south of Garrison. These stories are available on cd. They come in a brown paper wrapper and are clearly marked--FICTION)

It has been a real hectic week. I just felt it necessary to head on up Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cities, and try out the new car. It just was not that old Lincoln ride. But is was a whole lot more relaxin. I just didn't have to worry all the time about breakdowns. Maybe this year I could stay within my three AAA calls. Alleluia.

Anyway, I arrived ahead of schedule, and met Herman at the little diner. Yes, it did look a lot like the Mickey's diner in the movie, "The Prairie Home Companion." It was an old railroad car conversion thing. Right across from the Spruce Good Motel. And the coffee was so dependably good. Very rare in northern parts.

I mentioned to Herman cause he was on the Normal School Board, that I just did not understand how Normal could get the full measure of educational benefit of diversity as we know it in the larger cities of America.

"Shucks--that is real simple. Up here in God's country, we are totally diverse. It just comes with the territory."

"How could that be? I asked.

"It's real simple. Up here, we just have EVERYBODY sign up for reduced lunches. If they need some help, we just help em with the numbers."

"Even the kids that go home at 11:30AM?" I asked."Even the kids who do not eat lunch at school?"

"Yep----EVERYBODY," Herman laughed.

"It's all a matter of gettin your data sets in order. This ain't no sliderule stuff up here, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me). We just keep it real simple.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where AAA has fast response times. And where data sets are real and not just played with.


Re: Mailbag: Mr. Connors Writes: Impact of School Levy on Property Taxes

William Connors <weconnors07@yahoo.com> wrote:
Dear School Board Members:

I read in the October 25 edition of The Review that
the school district’s estimated property tax rate on
equalized assessed value (estimated full market value)
will be $9.80 per $1,000, down from last year’s rate
of $9.83 per $1,000. Do you know whether this will
result in a property tax increase or decrease for
property owners? If not, how can you make an informed
decision about next year’s property tax levy? Without
knowing the property tax impact, how can citizens
provide meaningful input at the meeting on Monday,
October 30?

The problem is that the amount of property tax a
property owner pays is calculated based on assessed
value, not equalized assessed value (estimated fair
market value). Unless there is a revaluation, the
assessed value of the vast majority of properties
stays the same from one year to the next.
Consequently, the property tax rate on assessed value
might increase, even if the property tax rate on
equalized assessed value decreases.

The following scenario illustrates this point. For
2005/2006 property taxes, a house in the City of
Evansville with an assessed value of $100,000 had an
equalized assessed value of $97,837.78, because last
year’s assessment ratio was 1.0221. For 2006/2007
property taxes, that same house will again have an
assessed value of $100,000, but the equalized assessed
value has increased to $101,290.72, because this
year’s assessment ratio is 0.987257273. If one
applies the 2005/2006 school district rate on
equalized assessed value, $9.83, to last year’s
equalized assessed value, the school district property
tax is $961.75. If one applies the estimated
2006/2007 school district rate on equalized assessed
value, $9.80, to this year’s equalized assessed value,
the school district property tax is $992.65, an
increase of $39.90 (3.21%).

The calculation of property taxes actually is more
complicated than that. In the actual calculation,
total equalized assessed value in the City of
Evansville is divided by total equalized assessed
value in the school district, and the resulting ratio
is used to allocate the same percentage of the school
district’s levy to property in the city. Then the
part of the school district’s levy apportioned to the
city is spread on the total assessed value of the
city, resulting in a property tax rate on assessed
value. One would need to do this calculation to be
able to compare the school district’s rate on assessed
value in 2005/2006 to the rate in 2006/2007, and
factor in the impact of tax increment financing
districts, to know precisely how much school property
taxes on properties in the city actually will
increase. But it appears there will be a property tax
increase, even though the rate on equalized assessed
value is anticipated to decrease.

Bill Connors
622 E. Countryside Dr.
Evansville, WI

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Dean Center Announces Kringle Fundraiser

The youth center is holding a kringle fundraiser and we were wondering if you could share this information.

Kringles are perfect for the holiday season and make for a wonderful, quick breakfast on those busy days. Kringles are even perfect for a party appetizer!
We are selling Racine Danish Kringles (22 oz ovals). They come in 10 Delicious flavors--almond, raspberry cheese, pecan, strawberry, apple, cherry, chocolate eclair, raspberry, cheesecake, and chocolate chip. They are only $7 a piece. We need to have all orders in with payment by November 7th, so that we can have them in for you right before Thanksgiving.

Orders can be emailed to deanyouthcenter@sbcglobal.net or called into the Evansville Youth Center at 882-0372. Payment can be mailed to Evansville Youth Center , 209 S First Street , Evansville 53536 or dropped off!
Thank you for your support!!!

Gazette Corner: New Home Price Decline Largest in 35 Years.

Click on the post for the latest on the home building front.

The current situation brings some feelings of dejavu---like 1980's style. When nobody could sll a home and interest rates were going through the roof.

WSJ: Feature Story on Evansville Economy Store

Click on the post for the coverage in the Wisconsin State Journal on the Economy Store.

Mailbag: Melissa Writes: A Reflection on Statistical Prinicples ; or, "Bring on the DATA"

Bring on the Data!

When attending a Finance Meeting, one expects to see spreadsheets. At the very least, the data on those spreadsheets need to reflect a realistic snapshot of the real budget world being faced by the program at hand. For instance, using potential revenue increase data for the existing class size of 12 instead of the revenue increase predicated on a class size of 16. Extrapolating the class size to 16 is a gratuitous exercise that either uses 4 imaginary students or is an attempt to count 4 existing students twice.

Likewise, one expects to see realistic salary compensation costs for a full day kindergarten teacher instead of extrapolating the admittedly bargain salary package of the veteran teacher from part time back to full time ($51,173). In the absence of true values, one uses existing average values or similar data available in your existing subset, such as the current compensation for that last kindergarten hire in the district ($70,295).

When preparing a budget, one does not pick and choose values that present projects in the best (or the worst) light. One defines one’s criteria and consistently quotes values from within the boundaries of that definition. Any other approach is disingenuous.

Gazette Corner: School Beat: Walworth Co.: Supr. Has lost credibility due to web gaffe.

Walworth Co-----click on the post for the latest from the Janesville Gazette.

Classic Audioblogger: The Theory of the Frozen Tundra, OR; The Mystery of the Viking Love Boat Cruise Revealed

this is an audio post - click to play

Classic Audioblogger: The CB Radio; or, If You Need Help, Call 911

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Review: "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell---The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

this is an audio post - click to play

Memories of Aretha Franklin---On "RESPECT", On " ROCK STEADY" and Much, much more

One of my memories of some years back was the prep rituals that my older daughters always did before heading out to do a little swing dancing, or yes--- even tango dancing--- in Madison. They always used to get pumped by turning on a little Aretha Franklin. Yes, even turning it up a bit. In fact, very loud. They always liked RESPECT and the follow up song---- ROCK STEADY.

I suppose there is a real thrill as one enters the workforce, or the real life of adulthood, in feeling the exhileration of paying your own bills...yes there is pain...but there is a lot of pride in being independent.

I remember how in Mr. Steve's class back in kindergarten--how that idea of RESPECT was one of the very first concepts that was essential for each child to learn in order to make that classroom work. What is mine? What is Your's? What is our's? How do we treat each other?

No---I don't remember back to my own kindergarten. Just 10 years ago I had the pleasure of helping in the classroom, as most of the parents do. I wanted to help. I was surprised how much the kids taught me.

The proper adjustment of curriculum--choosing the half day for a child and allowing that child's needs to be met, sends the signal of respect to that child--In Steve's class, there is a huge diversity of readiness, and yet there is a wonderful acceptance and respect for each other. It does not happen right on the first day. Mr. Steve works on developing it over the year. Trust me. Some kids learn RESPECT real fast. Some kids learn RESPECT real slow. And yes---some kids never do learn RESPECT.

Whether it is in the classroom, or the boardroom, we expect this type of mutual respect in order to be successful as a community.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Classic Audioblogger: Baby Seats in Squad Cars--Fiction

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Dateline Normal, Mn.; Normal v. Sophia in Sectional Final; Election moved to bait shop--fiction

this is an audio post - click to play

Dateline Oregon; Half-Day Kindergarten Seminar Scheduled--Info on program, Why and How

Title: Half-Day Kindergarten: Did You Know It's an Option?

Attend an evening of information and discussion about the Oregon School District's Half-Day Kindergarten Program

When: Monday, November 6, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Where: Sue Ames Room, Oregon Public Library (across from the swimming pool)

Purpose of the Meeting:
- to receive information about Oregon's Half-Day Kindergarten Program
- to discuss the benefits of Half-Day Kindergarten
- to connect with other families who will choose or have chosen Half-Day Kindergarten for their child

Who Should Attend:
any parent considering Half-Day Kindergarten for their child, ages 0 - 5, in the Oregon School District


School Beat: Big Foot: School faces deficit: Fund Balance drop; Error in equalized Aid; Retiree expenses

Click on the post for the story today about the Big Foot School District. They had a drop in their fund balance to 1 million. They are concerned. This is also the level of the fund balance of Evansville.

Then Big Foot made an error in estimating their equalized aid--like a $250,000 error. Then they faced retiree health expenses of $250M. As I understand the analysis at the Finance committee last week in Evansville, the premium estimated over 30 years backward, calls for a premium of over $400,000 this year. So---health care benefits are going to be a big number watching forward for all school districts.

Stay tuned. Big Foot Schools will be interesting to watch. The Observer will be on the job to follow this story.

School Beat: Brodhead: Enrollment Down---Tax Levy UP----7.4%

Click on the post for the latest from Brodhead on their tax levy rise due to lower enrollment. The building permits have fallen 50% in Evansville. Are the numbers of Brodhead coming our way?

Stay tuned to the Evansville Observer.

Dateline Normal, Mn.---Turmoil as Election Voting Center Moves to Bait Shop---Fiction

(Ed.note. This sketch is one of a long series of fictional sketches from Normal, Mn., a fictional town near the famous Lake Woebegon. These stories from Normal are available on CD. The cd comes mailed in a brown paper wrapper, clearly marked--FICTION.)

Well it seems that panic has turned all of Normal, Mn. into chaos. I received a frantic call from Rex, the mayor of nearby Sophia, where all the folks of Normal County vote. He was just beside himself. Looking to me for guidance. You can just imagine his desparate straits. Anyway.

It seems that two sweet ladies approached Rex, the Mayor of Sophia, as well as the Suprerintendent of the Normal School District, and requested to take a survey of football fans at the sectional final between Normal, and Sophia coming up this week. The survey was about preferences of fans on food and quilting.

Rex---being the total football fan that he was, put his foot down. "Absolutely NOT," he said. "There cannot be any political activity on school property---and expecially during football games," he said.

Over the next 24 hours, the town was abuzz. They were respectful. After all, they just loved Rex. He was their man. He was well meaning. But....but....somebody needed to mention to him that they had an election coming in a couple of weeks, and the election was held on school property....and according to his own rule....something would have to change to keep Rex a man of his word.

What a tizzy of consultation....a virtual buzz of talk over coffee. Finally the solution. Rex thought of the solution himself. After all. He had got them into this mess. He knew just what to do. They would move the voting booths to his bait shop.

Well...it did take some gettin used to. The little booths with the cloth sides right up next to the minnow tubs. And the voting tabulatin machine, lodged right next to the lures and new fangled poles.

The folks, Lord bless em, adjusted. They were of the right stock and were tough. They wanted to made an honest man of Rex. Whatever it took.

And then there was the rest to get used to.....the strong fishy smell. But...after a while---- they got used to that too.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where there is no political activity on school grounds. Unless there are large tents with pork cutlet sandwiches involved. Unless approved political parties are involved. Where ladies with clip boards are not a threat to anyone. Where we don't have to hold elections in bait shops just to keep the story straight.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Dateline Minnesota: Roads v. Schools

Minnesota is voting on a constitutional amendment which would force all money collected from fuel taxes to be used for transportation. Click on the post for the full story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Presently, about 50% of this money is switched to the general fund, and pays for such things as education.

So, its a big battle in Minnesota because many do want the light rail system and they want good schools. Is it one or the other?

In Wisconsin, last year money was transferred from DOT to education. The battle of roads v. schools in Minnesota may be a forerunner of the battle over the amount that Wisconsin DOT will be transferring. Stay tuned to The Evansville Observer as we follow this story.

Minutes: Park Board: Skate Park Closed Indefinitely

(Ed. note. The following was noted in the Park Board minutes of 10-16-2006)

a. Bill Alt representing the Skate Club and four youth were now present. A free-wheeling discussion of problems in Lake Leota Park, suspected to be largely caused by skateboarders and bikers, was held among the citizens, members of the board and staff, and other citizens. The chair reported that Police Chief McElroy said that three arrests have been made in the aftermath of the vandalism at the pool, and more were expected. Those already arrested are expected to be dealt with in Juvenile court proceedings in early November. Hamacher said that he saw some 15-20 boarders in the pool on the day of the damage. Alt said that if there were that many people in the pool, he thought that the police department should be able to identify many more than three suspects and arrest them. He urged that those found guilty be made to pay restitution, a fine, and perform community service work. He also said that it didn't appear there was any way under current law to enforce the posted skate park rules. The youth in attendence pointed out that there are different groups of boarders and bikers, that not all boarders should be blamed for the damage caused by other groups. Jacobson and others pointed out that, if those in attendence knew anything about the identities of anyone responsible for any damage or vandalism, they must take the responsibility of reporting what they knew to the authorities. Juergens said it seemed that the Skate Club was moribund, and that people interested in having the park re-opened should re-organize the group. Anderson reported that there had been malicious damage to signs at the skate park, graffiti and trash problems. He said he was very disappointed in the actions of some people who used the park. It was noted that rules prohibit bikers using the skate park equipment, and that maybe those people are jealous and express their unhappiness by vandalism. (This prohibition is due to insurance concerns.) Alt urged more frequent patrols of the park by the police. Juergens suggested that the skate-park equipment not be replaced into the asphalt surface (it is sitting on grass nearby) until next Spring. It would only be replaced if it appears that substantial progress has been made in re-organizing a group of responsible youth who can demonstrate that they will care for the park. One of the kids present asked what would happen if no group formed, and it was suggested that the equipment could be sold to another municipality. Several board members stressed that the situation at the skate park was viewed as very serious and, if significant improvements could not be demonstrated, closing the facility was a strong possibility. Juergens said he would contact the police chief, the city attorney, school officials and staff at the Dean Community Center in an effort to bring together adults who could suggest ways of getting a handle on the situation. It was decided by consensus that the skate park will remain closed until further notice.

March 4, 2001 TV Pilot--The Lone Gunman---Eerie plot similar to 911

Click on the post for the video.

In review of the remote access capablility of these planes---was this classified feature stolen by the terrorists and used on 911?

You make the call.

NBC15: Madison begins effort to approve alcohol density plan

The alcohol policy coordinator of Madison has explained how implementing a plan to limit licensing of alcohol places in downtown Madison can improve the incidence of related police calls. Click on the post to get the video.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Re: CC Mailbag: Mr. Connors writes DPI---Asks for clarification of Supr. Heidi Carvin remarks and DPI: Reply STILL pending

William Connors <weconnors07@yahoo.com> wrote:
Ms. Haglund:

On October 17, 2006, you wrote the following to my
wife, Joan Sorteberg.

"A district can offer only half day, only full day, or
they can have both half and full day. If they only
have full day, they get full membership aid. If they
only have half day they can get .5 (or one half) of
the membership aid. If they offer both half and full
day, they get membership aid based on the number of
children attending each option.

"If a district "allows" a parent to take their child
home every day, then the district is providing an
option. In this case the 5K program would be adapted
to allow half and full day participation. Since they
have an option, they should claim those children as
half and full day children as appropriate.

"If the district only offered full day 5K, the program
would have to be set up full day and not provide
curriculum options for part day. However,
kindergarten attendance is not mandatory. If a parent
took their child home every day at noon, the district
would have to report that child as absent half of the
day every day. This would have to be considered
within the school district truancy policies."

I recently received a message from Superintendent
Heidi Carvin of the Evansville School District, which
said the following.

"Bill also asked how half day kindergarteners included
in full day sections are counted for attendance
purposes. They are counted as full day students since
the parents have the option at any time or on a
regular schedule to have them attend full day (I.e.
some parents want their child to attend full time one
or two days a week to participate in something, or
have their child attend full day for special events
such as assemblies or seasonal parties). They are
marked Absent Parent excused for the portion of the
day they are not present. I verified at a Rock County
Superintendent?s meeting today that this is how other
districts are doing this. Since school district
membership is audited on a regular basis by DPI, this
verifies that this approach meets DPI regs."

I am confused by these two messages. Please answer
the following questions for the benefit of the
Evansville school board, administration, and
interested parents.

If the Evansville Community School District makes
known to parents of incoming kindergarteners that the
daily schedule in all of the full-day kindergarten
sections has been arranged so that they have the
option of removing their children everyday at lunch
time, thus obtaining much of the benefit of a half-day
kindergarten program, and the parents of 15
kindergartens remove their children every day at lunch
time, and the school district reports these children
everyday as "absent parent excused," would the school
district receive "full-time" revenue for these 15

If the school district would receive "full-time"
revenue for these 15 kindergarteners, even though
their parents remove them every day at lunch time,
could all 15 kindergarteners be placed in the same
section without jeopardizing the full-time revenue, as
long as the section is officially a full-time section
and the teacher of that section is a available to
teach the full day if any parents in that section
elect not to remove their children at lunch time?

Bill Connors
Interested parent of children in the Evansville
Community School District

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Dateline Normal: " Police Squads with Kiddie Car Seats"-----Fiction

(Ed. note. This is one of a series of FICTIONAL sketches from Normal, Mn., a town near the famous Lake Woebegon up near Garrison, Mn.. These sketches are available on CD and are mailed to purchasers wrapped in a brown paper wrapper, clearly marked FICTION. Enjoy.)

Last week I turned the heavy Lincoln up north on Hwy 10 for a little getaway from the hussle and bussle of breaking news here in Evansville. I needed to get the little cabin in the woods ready for the winter months of the frozen tundra.

Just before I entered the city limits of Normal, something unusual happened. An older black Chevy Caprice roared by me in the passing lane, and then sped on. As I slowed down to enter the city limits, I noticed the police cruiser with the flashing lights and the black Chevy with the driver spread eagle over the trunk. I did not think there was much law up there in the north country, so I was very shocked.

I was also shocked at what I saw in that police cruiser. The police officer was a real large bruiser type, which was normal for Normal, but----- in the back seat of the police cruiser was a CHILD SEAT. That totally took me by surprise.

When I slipped into my usual seat in the coffee shop, just kiddie corner from the bait shop, I asked Herman:

"What's with the baby seat in the squad cars?"

"That's just Normal," he replied. Up here several years ago they intalled a full day 5k kindergarten program, and eliminated the half day option. They also of course have 4k, 3k and are considering implementing a 2K program. Up here, it's all full day. If a parent pulls the kid from school, the kid is considered "truant."

"TRUANT?" I asked in disbelief.

"Yup," Herman replied, "TRUANT."

"Up here we take education REAL SERIOUS LIKE. We have a real strong TRUANT policy in our schools, and folks are fired if they exceed the standard truancy rate. The police are real vigalent to enforce full attendance. So---if a kid goes astray, the squads need to have the child seat.

Thanks goodness I am back in good old Wisconisn. Where we don't have baby seats in squad cars. Where we know the difference between truancy and normal livin. Alleluia.

Mailbag: Kim writes: "Paris Baby--the pictures"

(Ed. note. Click on lower right for largest version of photo)

The Sacre Sueur Basillica at Night

Mailbag: Kim Writes: "Paris Baby--the Pictures"

(Ed. note. Click the lower right to enlarge pictures. Thanks, Kim.)

The Louvre at night.

Search for Mouline Rouge Successful.

National: Yahoo News: College Admission Anxiety Rising----

The Pre-Testing College Anxiety quotient is rising. Click on the post for the article in yahoo news today.

O.K. There is the anxiety over taking the test. Then there is the anxiety over getting accepted by the right school. Then there is the anxiety over paying the bill. By the way, have you checked the tuition numbers lately? Then finally---there is the burden of paying student loans over 20 years or so, if you have not paid the tuition from the family trust.

Seems that education is a very scarce commodity to be sought after very vigorously like gladiators fighting a big battle. Or is it? More on this later. Click on the post and enjoy.

Mailbag: Kim writes: "Paris Baby--the pictures"

Cathedral of Notre Dame

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cap Times Corner: Edgerton: Helen Thomas says Press has failed the Country

Click on the post for the latest from the Cap Times.

Helen Thomas says that the Press has gone soft. Has failed the country.

You make the call.

Speech of the Week: Jennifer speaks: Why Half-Day Kindergarten Must be preserved.

(Ed. note. Jennifer Petruzzello spoke at the Evansville School Board last Monday night. Here is her unedited remarks for those of you who were in the back and unable to hear as well as the larger community. This speech summarizes the essential points of the case for the half-day kindergarten.)

Presentation to School Board: 10/9/06

Good evening, My name is Jennifer Petruzzello. I am the mother of two girls, a 6-year old who had the opportunity to participate in last year’s ½ day kindergarten program, and a 4-year old who I hope will have the same opportunity.

Under the current half day program, the academic curriculum is scheduled for the morning. Students would miss lunch, recesses, rest time, 30 extra minutes of art class, and 35 extra minutes of music and physical education class each week. There is no academic argument for keeping students in this program in school for an additional 4 hours each day.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster states that “Full-day kindergarten is not “the answer” for all kids. Parents who are in a position to be home and/or prefer a half day or alternate day kindergarten should be fully supported in that desire. I strongly suggest that the most responsible position a public school can hold regarding kindergarten scheduling is to make available a choice of programming.”

The ½ day option is chosen by a variety of families with various social and economic backgrounds. Parents are making this choice based upon what they believe to be in their child’s best interest.

Some of the documented academic, social, emotional and physical benefits to a half-day kindergarten design include:

● Children attended at their optimal time of day. (Wenger, 1978)

● Children scored higher on four factors considered to facilitate learning on the Hahnemann Elementary Behavior Rating Scale (originality, independent learning, involvement and productive with peers (Hildebrand, 1997).

● Children exhibited the least amount of inattentive classroom behaviors (Hildebrand, 1997).

● Children scored higher on ‘approach to teacher’ (Hildebrand, 1997).

● Potentially less time in structure environment.

● More opportunity for social activities outside of the school setting.

● More opportunity for interactions with people not associated with school (adults, family, peers)

● May offer more opportunity for creative activities outside of school.

● Allows for a greater diversity of activities.

● The shorter period of time away from home, may ease transition into the school system.

● Less fatigue, particularly at the beginning of the year.

● Potentially more time in free play.

● Less classroom time may allow for more time to develop gross and fine motor skills.

Superintendent Burmaster also states that students who thrive in school tend to have strong families, working with teachers to support learning at home and at school. At the same time, schools that support family involvement enjoy a positive school climate, a richer school curriculum, more support from families and the community and better teacher morale”.

I’m sure that you have all heard that parental involvement helps students to succeed in school. There are numerous studies that show the positive link between parental involvement to student achievement. Parental involvement is something nearly all of the parents choosing the ½ day option take seriously. It is my understanding that they are more likely to volunteer at Learning Stations, and the one-on-one contact regarding follow-up to school activities is much easier and more likely to happen when you have the afternoon to work with your child.

The Levi Leonard Elementary School web page states that “Our educational philosophy involves a triangular approach: Parents, students and educators working together to provide a high quality education.” I hope that the School Board takes this philosophy seriously, and will listen to the desires of parents in this district as they explain what is in their child’s best interest.

If the ½ day stand alone option is eliminated, parents will be forced to send their child to school more often for purely financial reasons.

Before you suggest that parents pick up their child at 11:00, remember that this is not a desirable option. You have heard from another parent specifically how this impacted her child. Children will not have a sense of belonging with their classmates. In other districts parents choosing to do this have dropped substantially – this is because it is not a good option. Most importantly, if you believe this is a good option, and if every parent took this option, the district would not see their desired increase in revenue.

The School Board appears to be recognizing the value of quality early education opportunities on our youngest children by studying a four year old kindergarten program. If you are serious about improving educational opportunities, you should recognize that a decision to eliminate this ½ day option will be negatively impacting a group of children (and some of the same children you hope to serve in a 4K program).

If the stand alone program is eliminated, it will not be brought back. The estimated revenue gains this year are minimal, but the result would be permanent. I believe that the revenue gains in future years have been overestimated. If several parents choose not to enroll their children, the revenue gains attached to this program change are significantly reduced or disappear.

I believe there is much community support for this program. I have heard from neighbors, teachers, and parents with children in the full day program that they support this option for families who choose it. I believe the community support would be even stronger if they realized that the additional funding comes from our state taxes and an increase in local taxes.

The 1/2 day option worked wonderfully for my older daughter. She attended in the morning, which was the best time for her to learn new information. Scheduling the curriculum into a shorter time period helped her to stay focused. In addition, she was not so tired after school, that I could work with her on an individual basis to reinforce what she was learning in school. This one on one attention helped her to understand how important her parents feel school is and added to her overall enthusiasm for school. There was more time for free play (building her imagination and problem solving skills), relaxed social opportunities with friends, and more time with family.

I would like to enroll my younger daughter in the ½ day program next fall. Given her personality and challenges she experiences with sensory issues, I believe having a ½ day schedule is critical to her successful transition into the school system. I don’t believe that causing parents to consider enrolling in other districts, private schools, or home schooling will result in a stronger local school district.

In conclusion, there are real educational, social and emotional benefits to the half day option for some children. Research supports the link between parental involvement and success in school. The half day schedule allows for greater parental involvement. Pulling a child out of a full-day class at 11:00 is not a reasonable option. Eliminating this program makes providing a kindergarten education more expensive. There is community support for this program.

You can make the decisions, which will keep Evansville a quality school district.

I am asking the Board to support our decision to make the best kindergarten choice for our children and our family.

Thank you for your time.

"Families for 1/2 Day K" schedules parent's meeting on Saturday, October 21, Eager Library, 10AM to 11:30AM

(Ed.note. Saturday is Game Day. Arrive Early to get a good seat.)

A meeting is scheduled for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21st from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the Eager Free Public Library for parents who are interested in preserving kindergarten choice---namely the choice of half or full day kindergarten, depending which is in the best interests of their child.



Information will be given at the meeting on how you can make a difference on this issue.

Mark your calendars.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Community-Wide Petition Builds Momentum for Half Day Kindergarten or Kindergarten Choice

(Ed.note: If you would like to sign this petition, email jacquelineliebel@hotmail.com or call 882-6283

Petition to the Evansville School Board

Do you as a member of the Evansville school district support having a choice between full-day and half-day kindergarten in our school district?

Name Signature Address Phone

Update 10/13/06

NOTE: please only sign petition once per line per adult family member.

Do you plan to enroll a child in a half-day kindergarten program?

Next year/current 4 or 5 y/o: 2007-2008 In two years: 2008-2009/current 3 or 4 y/o

In three years: 2009-2010/current 2 or 3 y/o In four years 2010-2011/current 1 or 2 y/o

In five years: 2011-2012/current newborn or 1 y/o

School Year Your Name Phone No. Email Address

1. .

Gazette Corner: Big Foot Schools goes too far in Full Disclosure

Click on the post.

Big Foot Schools went a little too far in their effort to keep voters and taxpayers informed.

Relax. This extra effort by a school district does not happen much. It is unusual.

The Observer still gives them an A for effort.

The Theory of Love Equity---classic audioblogger

this is an audio post - click to play

On the death of Habeus Corpus

Click on the post and enjoy.

Any legal specialists on habeus corpus are free to weigh on.

Big Al's Budget System-----true story

this is an audio post - click to play

Dateline Normal: Option #3--the Leaseback School---the tale--fiction

this is an audio post - click to play

Historic Pres Notes--Oct. 18, 2006

(Ed.note. The following is a portion of the Historic Pres. Minutes of 10-18-2006.)


Intensive Survey and Wrap-up meeting - the event went well with a number of homeowners present from the proposed new districts. The next step will be to submit a grant application in the next grant period to fund the writing of the application for the creation of the historic districts. The application for the Standpipe is being prepared.

Bricks on Main Street – John Decker urged members to attend the next two Public Works Committee meetings at 6:00 PM on the 4th Mondays of October and November to give input on the final design work. 30 truckloads of bricks have been removed during the Madison-Main Street intersection work and they are stored at the public works department. It is estimated that 60-70% of them will be reusable. A pile of identical bricks has been found in Janesville and we can have them for the hauling away. Jeff Farnsworth and Chris Eager are still working on the application to the Commerce Department for funding. They must have an 80% response rate on their income survey of the residents in the project area. It is proving to be a difficult task.
Preserve America – the brick project is a key element in our application for Preserve America designation. Wes Webendorfer of the Wisconsin State Historical Society is working on the application. John presented a resolution which the City Council must approve for the application. Motion by Susan Finque to recommend the adoption of the resolution by the City Council. Second by Steve Culbertson. Motion carried.

Building Improvement Grant Committee – the committee met on Tuesday evening and approved
the application of Peter Dast for funding of the door installed on the east side of the building. Mayor Decker also asked if the HPC would consider removing the stipulation that the $3,000 donated to the fund be used only for updating nonconforming signs in the historic district. This will be on the November agenda. The committee will also reopen the application period until the end of December to accommodate businesses that want to do work on an alternative entrance for 2007.

Steve Christens joined the meeting at this time.

History Hunters – each year the HPC gives a small grant to the school for this active 4th grade
group. Their activities will also be a component of our Preserve America application. Motion by Susan Finque to give $200 to the History Hunters. Second by John Decker. Motion carried. Commission members also requested a printout of the 2006 expenditures to aid in discussion in November meeting.

Grove Society – Betsy Ahner distributed a list of upcoming activities that the Grove Society has
planned to the end of this year and invited members to participate. She pointed out the Eager Free Public Library is hosting an open house to highlight the books it has purchased. The $600 remained from the Intensive Survey grant and the State Historical Society allowed us to give it to the Library for new materials on historic preservation, architecture, etc.

Baker Building – a copy of a bid from architect Melissa Destree was distributed and Ahner asked
for input from the Commission on the proposal and also inquired if there would be any interest in partnering financially on hiring Destree Design. This will be discussed further at the next meeting when we have a financial statement. (Destree is doing the design work on the Eager Building.)

Dennis Wessels and Mayor Decker joined the meeting at this time.

Redevelopment Authority – John Decker reported the owners of the Eager Building Project have been
very active in applying for grants, loans, and tax credits to make their project work. They have successfully applied for a Commerce Department loan of $300,000. As this is paid back the money will stay in our community to establish a revolving loan fund for future projects. They have also received design approval from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Roger Berg and Jeff Farnsworth have been doing all the application work and will be a very valuable information resource for future projects.

Easement Form Draft – a discussion on using this as a means to prevent the destruction of healthy mature trees. This will need to be researched. The City Attorney is currently reviewing this document.
Plaque Program – waiting approval and adoption of the Easement document.
A motion to adjourn was made by Steve Culbertson. Second by Dennis Wessels. Motion carried.

These minutes are not official until approved by the Historic Preservation Commission at the next regular meeting

Gazette Corner: Scientists create INVISIBLE CLOAK----guess who is first in line to buy one.

Click on the post for the latest in the Janesville Gazette on personal stealth technology---the invisible cloak.

Who would you suppose is first in line to purchase one?

You make the call.

Gazette Corner: Free Speech: Marquette staff "felt" offended by Dave Barry

Click on the post for the latest in the free speech wars. Some staff at Marquette "felt offended" by a quote by Dave Barry, the beloved humorist. Supervisors removed the offensive quote. It was not in a "free speech zone."

It would be good to have some "free speech zone" signs so we all know where the appropriate spot to speak freely is.

The Observer is open to some design suggestions for the sign...color...design etc. you make the call.

Classic Audioblogger; "X19"

this is an audio post - click to play

Classic Audioblogger: "What Brick Means to Me"

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gazette Corner: Evansville selects semi-finalists for City Administrator

In an anonomyous article in the Janesville Gazette today, it was written that
Evansville has selected the semi-finalists for the open City Administrator position.
Click on the post for the full story.

There has been some speculation among local pundits, that with the departments spending to the wire, little would remain to pay a city administrator except possibly if the position was downsized to an administrative assistant type position.

What is the position of the Observer on all this? The Observer is neutral. The Observer is busy preparing for winter and getting all the windows ready etc. I have been pondering, as I always do, in the picture on the front of the Observer, watching always the birds feeding on the birdfeeders. I have observed that when the birdseed is gone, the birds do not come.

Cap Times: "Roundabout" delayed in Monona till 2012

Click on the post for the latest in roundabouts.

Mailbag: Travelogue: Kim writes; "Paris Baby!"

(Ed.note. Pictures will be posted when received from Paris. As soon as Kim's exams are done I presume.)

Subject: PARIS BABY!
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 03:57:52 -0500
>well you would think i've only been here a month and a half...thats not that
>long, but um...when i got off the plane in france i started saying things to
>people in italian!!! i asked for a ticket for the bus in italian!!! crazy i
>know...and i KNOW i say this about every place i go...but paris was
>AMAZING!!!! i LOVED iT!!!!
>so first of all...they have grass and trees!!! something that is rare and
>usually pretty ugly if you find it in rome. It was like fall
>weather...which we completely missed becuase you like sweat when you walk
>ANYWHERE here!!! and it was sooooooo cute!!! i mean i don't really know what
>movies are in paris, but i swear any movie that has been placed in paris
>well...watch it and that is it for you. I seriously felt like i was in a
>disney movie! but i just couldn't think of what one. haha...and now that i
>think about it, i know thats what i said when i first got here to.
>but anyway...chris can stop worrying now because i DID start doing a little
>homework this week and maybe next becuase its mid-terms this week and
>next...but then don't worry i'll be back to my old self! ;) but
>anyway...about paris...so cute i loved it! and the people were not mean at
>all!!! there was this really really really good creperia right by our hotel
>and we went there every morning and the guy like knew we'd be coming so he
>like had everything ready for us! hahaha it was so cute. It was so clean
>there they like sprayed the streets down every day and sweeped the curbs!!!
>i couldn't believe it!!
>the first day we went in the catacombs which is where all the people that
>died from the black plague bones were put. There are liike piles upon piles
>of bones it is CRAZY!!! and kinda creepy. Then we went to the eiffel tower
>and night and went ALL the way to the top. I LOVED IT!!! its cool during
>the day, but at nights its gorgeous with all the lights and stuff!!! and OMG
>it is HUGE!!! i see pictures and always think its this tall skinny
>thing...but no....we were shocked at how big it was!!!
>On saturday we went to the Louvre. I'm not too into art but i loved it! we
>were there for 3 hours and i totally could have stayed there longer if my
>legs weren't about to fall off!!! my feet were so sore from standing and
>staring at art all day that i didn't even enjoy it anymore, but man was it
>HUGE!!! and the art was amazing. And yes, i saw the mona lisa or however
>you spell it. but the cupid statue was by far my favorite!!! we also saw
>notre dame after that which i LOVED! I think it is my favorite church
>ever!!! its from the gothic period so it was the pointed arch door ways and
>the gargoils on the buildings and ah...i didn't wanna leave!!! That night we
>went to the basillica and hung out on the hill where you coudl see the
>entire city. THen we walked through the red light district to find moulin
>rouge!!! and we found it!! we didn't go in though cuz its like 140 euro a
>on sunday we went to the best creperia in france. And man was it good! i
>think i have to learn how to make crepes!!! and then we went on a bike tour
>through paris. it was really fun, lead by college age kids, and we saw the
>bridge from the last scene of sex and the city and the hotel and is in
>bourne identity and we road our bikes through the louvre and around the
>pyramid!!! i felt like i was going to get arrested...but oh well!!
>And monday we saw a few things for the last time and shopped, ate at a cute
>cafe and had some yummy yummy french onion soup! and came back to rome.
>It's good to be home though! not so good to be working on homework!!! i'll
>send some pictures later, today or tomorrow, but for now i have to study for
>my next mid-term which is in an hour! YIKES!!!
>i love you guys! see you in less than 2 months!!! and becky...stop
>worrying....i'll bring you home SOMETHING cool! :) CIAO!!!

Dateline Monroe: Underage Drinking Citations, Athletes involved

Click on the post for the latest from the Monroe Times.

Cap Times Corner: Feingold speaks on signing of torture bill

Click on the post for the comments of Russ Feingold on the signing of the torture bill recently.

Election Corner: A time to hide....not debate

Click on the post for an article from Minnesota that describes the current election cycle as a time to hide. Not debate.

The Theory of "Love Equity"-----the last of our Constitutional rights

(Ed. note. The Observer has felt remiss that he has been unable to weigh in on the current tabloid speculation regarding Jen and whomever, or even Paris Hilton. It is so hard to do analysis in the checkout line. So, I have offered this short article instead.)

Recently at a local meeting, the word "equity" was used so often that it brought back memories of contract law----yes, there are actions on the contract and then actions on the basis of "equity." It has been a long time. Too bad that "Ambulance" has been silenced. Ah, the good old days when a wild and crazy discussion was possible. But---I digress. The word "equity" brought back memories of a time some thirty years ago when I thought I had driven the stake in the heart of one foolish theory---the theory of "love equity." Maybe you have heard of this theory.

As a young married man, one of my friends who was the first of the guys to get married, was watching Monday night football with me, when he went over the fact that because he had gotten married first.....and since all the younger guys seemed to be reveling in the new morality, that....well...he felt that he had been cheated out of his just due...... his "love equity". It just was not "fair."

The more he discussed his "love inequity," the more he seemed to become agitated. So....I let him talk...and talk...and talk...till the first half of football had ended. The Vikings were winning so I thought I could proceed with some friendly advice.

I then gently asked him whether he thought maybe the stories of his peer group might be exaggerated concerning their exploits or let's just say the large amount of "love equity" that they were experiencing. He said he had never thought of the possibility. I asked him to consider that sometimes guys did exaggerate. The thought shocked him.

Now that I had gotten his attention, I simply asserted that I knew that his wife did love him and that to run around on her would be a foolish mistake. Now that he had two kids, things had changed. Love had matured...hopefully. It was not like the movies.

Thirdly, I mentioned that he might benefit from some counseling----I always thought it prudent to recommend counseling for those who had feelings of "love equity deficit."

Thus, recently I have heard some weird "equity" analysis regarding the 5K controversy-----Is it possible to do a broad based diversity analysis on a sample of 12 vs. a sample of 1200 and reach any conclusion at all? Can folks who give not a wit about tolerance or diversity be suddenly concerned about "inequity." Can folks who sacrifice for their children be spun to be "rich" and not worthy of access to public education that fits their child's educational need?

For me----- It is about choice. I believe parents can make the choice which is best for their child.

For those who believe that the taxpayer should pay for the "level playing field" encompasing every perceived matter than one can be subject to inequity------------I say to them the same thing I told the confused fellow during Monday night football.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wellness; Illness; The politics of Scarcity----a true story

(The following story is in memory of Mark Stolpman, a young hospital planner some 30 years ago who introduced me to Ivan Illich. Thanks, Mark.

I told the story recently about out patient surgery, and the revolution that I witnessed in Minneapolis some thirty years ago as one innovative administrator disregarded the spreadsheets and focused on the mission of health--care, and not the mission of sickness care.

The reflection on that last point---wellness vs. sickness was the result of a study group among the administrative team. Our young intern at that time was Mark Stolpman, who I believe was a grad student from a univesity in DC and was reading the works of Ivan Illich. One of his first books was called "Medical Nemisis." The date of this story is 1976. Seems like just yesterday for me.

The thesis of the book was that we have become as a society obsessed with "illness" care and not "health" care. We are treated as patients only when the problem has resulted in an illness and can be treated with some surgery or pharmacy, and not earlier when it would have been more productive. The true healer is one who treats the patient far earlier, and far more inexpensively.

Well----this was a hospital. With doctors who made their living treating sickness. And paid very well for it. Imagine their enthusiasm on hearing that some adminstrators were reading such revolutionary books filled with such threatening ideas.

Mark Stolpman, after reading and sharing the book "Medical Nemisis" with us, made a recommendation that we as a hospital begin a "wellness program." It would be the first in the state. You can imagine the reception of the doctors. They moved in executive committee to have Mark fired. Sound familiar?

The head adminstrator intervened. He said that wellness would be no threat and that if the medical staff would have some patience with the idea, it would prove otherwise in short order. Again he was proved right. Soon all the hospitals began wellness programs. They became the hot "in" health program. Our hospital became a leader in "wellness" as well as "outpatient surgery."

Growing out of the wellness movement, were such things as the running craze, 5k fun runs, fitness centers, HMO care, and much, much more. Yes, before 1977 folks were active but they never were "totally buff" like they are today. Just kidding.

At the very center of this idea is the idea of SCARCITY vs. Plenty. The traditional notion of health care was that sickness care was expensive and scarce, and it had to be fought over. Ivan Illich goes over in his book that this is focusing on the wrong thing---focusing on the hole and not the donut. By focusing on the wellness and plenty of life and enabling the patient of all ages to begin a program of healthy living, one could transform the very nature of life to a higher level.

So---when you think HMO care or running or the fitness craze...Think of the father of these, who was Ivan Illich.

Oh, by the way----he also wrote a book called "DeSchooling." I bet you can guess what that is about. More on that later.

Legislative Corner: Monroe Times: Bill to be introduced to allow school safety expenses to exceed CAP

Several bills are being considered for introduction in the upcoming legislature that would allow for schools to exceed their state mandated spending caps in order to provide for improved student safety, particularly in response to several widely publicized incidents.

Click on the post for some details of one proposed bill and the response by two local Superintendents.

Billboard Advertising coming in 2007

(The following was noted in the Econ. Dev. minutes of 10/17/2006)

"Motion to approve expenditures from 2006 budget for Downtown promotional activity for Main Street Reconstruction. Decker moved, seconded by Juergens, to authorize payment from the committee's 2006 budget of $1950 to Lamar Advertising for rental of billboards on Hwy. 14 north of the City, and on Hwy. 213 south of the City during the period April - September 2007. Total rent will be $3900, per the contract previously executed. Local businesses have to date contributed $1100 toward the rent, and an additional $450 is expected to be received during the week of October 23. With follow-up calls, the private-sector contributions should easily exceed $1950. Further promotional activities for 2007 are under development by the Downtown Reconstruction Task Force. Motion approved by voice vote. "

Evansville moves to improve web site

(Ed. note. The following was noted in the Economic Dev. minutes for the meeting of 10/17/2006. Click on the post to access the web site of EMGraphics which is located in Madison, Mn.)

"Update on web site changes and maintenance. Decker moved, seconded by Dickert, to authorize the web site subcommittee to implement revisions and improvements to the City's web site, using EMGraphics as vendor, on a not-to-exceed cost basis of $1500 during 2006. Juergens explained that EMGraphics was the unanimous recommendation of the subcommittee to serve as supplier, and that the program it will utilize will readily permit updating by City staff, with minimal training. Changes will improve internal navigation and appearance, as well as convenience of use. A 3-page memorandum detailed numerous improvements. Wyse noted that the City's 2006 budget includes a $1500 line item for the City's web site, and that this item is in addition to the general committee budget. Motion approved by voice vote. "

Observer Speech of the Week: Diversity--the game vs. Diversity the life; Citizen rises to question Supr. Heidi Carvin

The other night at the Evansville School Board meeting, Supr. Heidi Carvin made the argument that the half day kindergarten was not as "diverse" as the full day kindergarten and hence it would be beneficial to be eliminated so as to promote diversity.

The audience was just a little bit stunned by the argument. Then someting pretty remarkable happened. A woman asked to speak. She was someone who could speak to the diversity of life, not just the game.

Click on the post to hear her remarks:

this is an audio post - click to play

To take a subset of 12 half time students and assert they needed to be eliminated because of some "diversity theory" was so outrageous it stunned most everyone. On that basis of that analysis, every department of school or city government could be eliminated.

The Observer salutes this woman for her courage in rising to challenge this flawed application.

Diversity is all about tolerance and Mr. Conners had spoken to this a few moments earlier. A little more tolerance and a lot less baloney would go a long way in the discussion.


Policy on " Links"

Over the past 17 months,on The Evansville Observer, I have referred to almost 4000 different links from around the world, in addition to text from Presidents, politicians, etc. The other day I got one call (1) from an individual who said that he did not think some facts on one of the linked articles was correct. I replied that the comment line was open and he was free to state where the error was, like the thousands of others who have been on the blog--almost 40,000. He just replied that "That's not my style." He felt that it was the job of the Observer to check each Presidential speech or article referred to on the blog to see that each and every fact was correct and true as he deemed it.

This is the only such call I have ever recieved like this. The purpose of the blog is to discuss and out of the discussion to hopefully reach some understanding of what the truth might be of things. Those who already know the truth of things really will find discussion or debate a total waste of time.

Make a note of it.

Minutes or Mush? School Beat: Finance: Supr. Heidi Carvin, Michael Pierick and Mr. Hatfield discuss minutes, procedure

Some time ago, I wrote a post on the open meeting law and the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith---about Brad Pitt and Angolina Jolie---about my view that in a community that is truly living by the open meeting law, there are naturally sharp differences expressed in the public discussion of things, yes...kinda like the elevator scene in the movie...but at the end of the day, good things result. Click on the post for the post. Still, the sharp discussion is something that takes some getting used to. And sometimes it feels better to just "mush" the minutes and forget it.

Our current Wisconsin Attorney General wrote about the current trend of school boards as well as city government tending to hide the contents of discussion in vague agenda items and vague or empty minutes of meetings. She strongly affirmed that this practice violated the spirit of the open meeting law and urged all governmental bodies in Wisconsin to not settle for "mush."

One of my observations in Evansville is that over the past year there has been sharper difference expressed publically and though in gentlemanly style, there is always the reluctance to write all this down for the record----- Not reluctance on the Observer's part, because a lot of this is on the audio recordings. It would be nice to just say "After a wild and crazy discussion, the following was the resolution approved by the committee. " Sounds pretty routine, but this version does not inform the public about what the issues were and does not serve the public interest at least as I understand the attorney general of Wisconsin.

The other night at the Evansville School Board Finance Committee meeting, there was a dialogue between Mr. Hatfield, Mr. Pierick and Ms. Carvin about the level of detail reflected in the minutes of Finance Committee meetings.

Click on the audioblogger to listen in:
this is an audio post - click to play

So. There are times when we all might like to be anonymous. Like to head on up Hwy 10 and get away and do a little fishing at Normal, Mn. However-----public service is a contact sport. There are differences. We need to express them in respectful style and let our elected officials know we appreciate their service even if they differ from us. AND, that we want the minutes to reflect the battle of ideas that took place.

That's how I see it.

And you?