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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Union Planning: Janes Residential Development

Presentation of proposed residential development; On parcel 6-20-167, Hwy M and Territorial Rd.

MP3 File

Union Planning: Re: Hatlen Bros Land division

Proposal to separate 7 acres out for A1 to build home. Approved.

MP3 File

Union Planning Commission: 1-31-2008: Wind Turbine Report

Judge Tom Alisankus presents the findings of the study group and the proposed draft ordinance

MP3 File

Mailbag: Stock Market Corner: What the Bear Market might look like: Observer instructed

(Ed.note: This is an email dialogue that I had recently with one regular reader and a follower of the Minyanville web site.)


I have heard pundits say that in a bear market, you get bear rally and a series of them, each weaker than the last. I also hear that housing prices are at the bottom, but as I see it, there has to be "capitulation" or a significant reduction in housing prices that maybe would come after growing unemployment.

What is your vision?---

Senior Trader:

"Capitulation" does not just mean the traders get disgusted and take a vacation. The 401k idiots who have bought into "buy and hold" have to give up in disgust, also. Those people haven't sold yet. This thing won't be over until the little people are out of the market and the bulls' stampede is over, animal spirits totally run out of them.

Currently the best bellweathers IMHO (Toddo of Minyanville uses BKX ) is BKX (bank index, Philadelphia exchange), and MBIA, Ambac, & FGIC for their credit dedfault swap exposure. If MBI goes down the major indexes follow swiftly. MBI is going for 2.5 price/earnings ratio.


Ann Taylor to close 117 stores, trim employees

ANN, Ann Taylor Stores stock moved sharply higher after it announced it would be closing some stores and trimming employees. The interesting thing is that the employees would be from corporate headquarter.

Click on the post for the story.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " 250 Who Count"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

ABC News: Hillary Clinton says she can Control her Husband

Click on the post for the latest.

Market Corner: MBIA announces 2.3 Billion Dollar loss

Click on the post for the latest.

One of the concerns appears to be that even though there has been some additional capital invested in MBIA, if Moody's downgrades this bond insurer of municipal bonds nationwide, investors in bonds rated and insured by MBIA might be forced to sell those bonds since they might have stipulated in their investment portfolio that all their investments are AAA rated and insured. The sell off of these bonds to a weak market would be untimely to say the least.

It is not clear to me whether all cities rely of MBIA to insure municipal bonds and what the effect of all this is. It does seem that cities would be unable to bring to market additional debt offerings which certainly would wreak havoc on some long term capital expenditure plans all across the country.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gazette Corner: Suit challenges Unique Wisconsin Bar Exam Rule

Click on the post for the story in today's Gazette.

Alliance Data Systems files suit agains Blackstone

Click on the post for the full story.

OpEd: Reflection: So Little Time: So Many Victims;or Reflections on "A President Like My Father";

Last week, right in the middle of a holiday celebration for Martin Luther King, our presidential politics headed for the rocks in a sideshow of debate of who was the bigger victim, who was the better friend of the disenfranchised, who was the (insert your favorite preference here.)

Right after Bill Clinton had raised his voice in rebuke, right after some gentle folks in the Democratic Party had politely told Bill to "Shut UP", it seemed as though just when the patient was near death, there was a CPR or shock event that brought everyone to their senses:

Caroline Kennedy shot the cannonball across the bow with her article in the New York Times: This campaign will be about the NEW and not about the OLD. It will be about HOPE and a future that will utilize the skills that the current generation of leaders has shown that they do NOT have. It will be different. It will not be about being the better or more qualified victim. It will be beyond gender and race.

Or will it? Stay tuned.

Beloit College: Duerst-Lahti Speaks tonight: "Moral Values in Presidential Selection 2008"

Click on the post for the latest.

The book "Creating Gender" etc. can be found in Amazon Books.

School Beat: School seeks Planning History Summary; Observer will respond.

(Ed.note: In the recent Evansville School Board minutes is the request that folks respond with ideas on the text of "How We Got Where We Are"-----or "Plunkett Revealed". The Observer is working on a package of text, audio and video that will be responsive. Stay tuned.)

January 2008 Evansville School Board Minutes:

Long Range Planning

There are a few resources in your packet that I have been pulling together to look at the history of our
land purchases and facilities. There are often inconsistencies or gaps in the records I have been looking at.
Some are as simple as dates being off by a year depending on whether or not the year ground was broken
or the year the building was occupied is used. If you have any additional knowledge or resources that
would help us create as accurate a record as possible, I would appreciate your input.

If you think another
format or way to present the information would be clearer, let me know. Eventually these documents need
to be in a format that will be of use to our ad hoc planning committee. I think it will be hard to picture
where we need to go, if we don’t have a fairly accurate picture of how we got where we are.

School Beat: Open Enrollment Info:

Open Enrollment – Application Period
February 4-22, 2008

All open enrollment applications should be picked up/dropped off at the District Office with Kelly Mosher, 340 Fair Street. Families do not need to reapply unless their child is going into high school. Please call to make an appointment to drop off the applications at 882-3387.

For more information, you may go to the DPI website: http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/psctoc.html

College Corner: Harvard, CalTech slash family contribution for college

Click on the post for the full article in Yahoo finance today.

Recently private colleges such as Harvard have announced----just in time to comply with proposed legislation that would require that private colleges pay out at least 5% of their endowment funds each year for current student financial aid----that they would charge middle income families no more than 10 percent of their family income to go to Harvard.

Competing colleges have spun this as just a response to the coming regulations, but the fact remains that the current battle for the best of the college crop is being waged in the financial aid arena-----and with the GAP growing between what the FAFSA determines as the family contribution and the total costs of college for the family---and the crisis in the student loan program---see the Sallie Mae saga on your daily business channel-----college bound families have a reason to be a bit skittish about their ability to meet college costs for the next four years.

The news that some colleges have been very successful in "Hedge funds" over the past couple of years, and have achieved 15% returns is tempered by the recent news that complex strategies relying on leverage of just one trader have resulted in the implosion of a French Bank and a 7 billion dollar loss. One it seems is prudent to wonder whether in a world where our colleges, our government, our banks, our corporations, etc.....are all using the financial strategies of ENRON ala Fastow to maximize results, whether these entities know any more than that lone French bank trader.

What indeed would the world do if a dozen or so traders broke up with their girlfriends? Would the result be a world crisis?

You make the call.

Channel 3000: Evansville Schools Closed

Per email to The Observer from Channel 3000, Evansville Schools are closed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Evansville Book of Minutes 2006 is Coming

Double click for the largest version. This is the clock that will be on the cover of the newest book from the Evansville Observer: Evansville Book of Minutes--2006. Each year will feature a clock from various travels. This is the clock from Notre Dame.

NYT: Caroline Kennedy: "A President Like My Father"

Click on the post for the article in the New York Times by Caroline Kennedy.

Gazette Corner: Schools Closing Early

Click on the post for the coverage in Gazette.

School Beat: WASB: Melissa Hammann reports: Student Achievement Data Update

(Ed.note: This essay is the last in the book of Melissa Hammann titled, "School Issues That Count.)

Student Achievement Data Update: January 2008

A strong reason for attending the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Convention on Wednesday was to observe the Education Forum presentation by Dr. Jeffery Braden entitled “A Policymaker’s Guide to Student Achievement Data.” I was impressed with the generally high quality of the speakers at the convention. Dr. Braden was fabulous, and he had plenty of handouts. I learned quite a bit about the origin or our own Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE), the variety of test protocols available to measure student achievement and, the biggie, whether or not the tests actually do measure student achievement. Here’s some highlights learned from Dr. Braden’s presentation.

The Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) has 4 Goals.
Provide clear expectations of standards for student learning.
Provide student achievement data relative to the expectations or standards.
Use assessment methods that promote high quality curriculum and instruction.
Provide feedback to students, teachers and parents to assist in educational planning.
The great drawback of the WKCE has been and continues to be the timing of #4. Feedback in May from testing in October is essentially useless in the goal of assisting in educational planning for the school year the test is taken. Educators have no way to direct their classrooms toward areas in need of improvement because they don’t know what those areas are until the end of the year. Our district recently instituted MAP testing to alleviate this issue. It provides immediate feedback, is a growth model test and aids in individualized (differentiated) instruction. The Evansville School Board is drafting a proclamation to the DPI urging them to replace the current WKCE model with growth testing protocols. The WASB had this in their resolutions as well. Dr. Braden is on a committee working to encourage the federal government to utilize such value added growth model testing as the standard in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy.

An interesting point addressed in the discussion regarded the classroom time spent taking the WKCE. This is a frequent complaint of many stakeholders in this process including parents, students and teachers. However, the most time intensive tests at grade 4, 8 and 10 only take 1.5% of total class time, with the other years in grades 3-9 averaging less than 1% of total class time. Dr. Braden compared that to the industry standard of 18-22% of time spent completing performance evaluations and 4-5% of the workday spent measuring product outcomes (quality assurance). That was an inspired comparison, which helps non-educators understand it in familiar terms. This analysis only included classroom time TAKING the test. Test preparation time is not included. Dr. Braden emphasized that it has been determined that time spent in class specifically on test preparation doesn’t pay off. A well-functioning school that teaches to the standards to begin with will perform well on the test.

The discussion finally got to the point where proficiency levels and their origin were discussed. This was fascinating to me. How good is good and who says so? Wisconsin has recently taken quite a beating in the press about their lax standards and all was explained here! The levels of proficiency were determined by a method called “bookmarking.” Experts for each subject were gathered by grade level and provided with bookmarks labeled Minimal, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. They were given a book with questions in their subject arranged in order from easiest to hardest and asked to place each bookmark where they thought each performance level should fall in the order of question difficulty. Naturally, there were differences in where this point was for each expert, so the next step was to get together and agree where the levels should be placed. This was done for each grade level from 3-10 for each subject tested within the WKCE. Wisconsin got into trouble when they ran numbers to evaluate where our schools would fall within the context of this first “bookmarking” session. Apparently, it wasn’t pretty, with only about 10% of the students scoring proficient or advanced using the original bookmarks. So, in a classic political maneuver, they went back and changed the bookmarks to inflate the scores. A little later in the presentation, Wisconsin’s performance on the WKCE was compared to it’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a National Test. The most bleak data shown were the 8th grade reading data: 2006-2007 WKCE showed 85% proficient or better where 2006-2007 NAEP showed only 33% proficient or better. I commented, “So that means that the teachers and experts who participated in the original bookmarking sessions in Wisconsin were right!” Dr. Braden agreed, remarking that since there were no National numbers to run, there were never any inflated bookmarks created for the NAEP test. Further information comparing WKCE scores with NAEP results can be found by Googling “National Report Card.”

This score inflation bodes no good news for Evansville. Our performance on WKCE test has waned over time. 85% proficient is really 33% proficient and Wisconsin sold out the true measurement to get those crucial federal dollars. As we tick toward 2014, when, of course, 100% of all the children in America will be proficient or advanced, I reckon the definition of proficient will evolve to mean mediocre.

Minutes; Evansville Redevelopment Authority: January 22, 2008

Evansville Redevelopment Authority
Board of Commissioners

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 7:30 pm
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin


I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm by Chair Chris Eager. Present: Chris Eager, Betsy Ahner, Tony Wyse, John Decker, Barb Jacobson, and Tom Calley. Absent: Roger Roth. Also present: Executive Director Dan Wietecha (late) and Mayor Sandy Decker.

II. Declare Quorum. There being a majority of the commissioners present at call to order, a quorum was declared.

III. Approve Agenda. Wyse made a motion, seconded by Jacobson, to approve the agenda as presented. Motion passed unanimously.

IV. Approve Minutes of December 18, 2007 Meeting. Calley made a motion, seconded by Decker, to approve the minutes as presented. Motion passed unanimously.

V. Old Business.
a. Economic Development Summit. Mayor Decker provided a brief recap of the Summit. Around 90 different businesses have been involved in the focus group meetings, the phone survey, and/or the Summit. She indicated that several task forces are currently organizing to explore and recommend specific topics to recommend for the Economic Development Strategy. It was noted that John Decker and Tony Wyse intend to serve on the Downtown Redevelopment group, so the Board would have some involvement in the strategy process.

b. Allen Creek & North Union. Wietecha noted that copies of the final, approved Allen Creek & North Union Street Redevelopment Master Plan had been mailed to property owners.

c. TID #5. The commissioners discussed formally adopting the criteria for projects meriting extra attention. They also discussed increased efforts to promote the availability of TIF and maintaining transparency of the process. Suggested ideas included publicizing success stories in the district, an increased presence on the city website, and advertising through Chamber of Commerce newsletter or business directory. Eager and Wietecha will draft a success story press release regarding the use of TIF in the renovation of the Eager Economy Building.

VI. New Business. No new business was brought before the Board.

VII. Other Business. No other business was brought before the Board.

VIII. Adjournment. Meeting adjourned without objection at 8:30 pm.

Monday, January 28, 2008

School Beat: WASB: Melissa Hammann Reports:

Click on the post for an article that Melissa Hammann has written for her book, School Issues That Count. It covers the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and specifically the discussion of 4K at that meeting.

Click on the post and enjoy.

The Men In Suits Disaster"; or Bigger than Katrina with no relief

Click on the post for the full story.

Dateline Duluth, Mn.: John Beargrease Dogsled Marathon

Thanks to some stringer reporters of the Evansville Observer, Mark and Bonnie, here is a glimpse of the John Beargrease Dogsled Marathon. With a name like John Beargrease you can imagine that the media attention is nationwide. I just wonder if we could to better.

What would you name our dogsled marathon here in Evansville?

Water and Light meets Wednesday Night: Replacing Historic Street Lights? New Water and LIght Addition?

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Reflection: Speculation: Are we there yet?

It is a little amusing that each morning on the Bloomberg News channel, the pundits speculate whether we are in a recession, if so when it will end, and in the alternative will the stock market begin the rally back this morning.

There was a brief summary last week in one article that said that the average recession lasts 10 months, and the average trough or low point is at the 6 month point. If you extrapolate the fact that the "stimulus" checks are scheduled or hoped to arrive in consumers hands in June, I must work backwards and assume that the recession started December 1st. Maybe we will be out of it in November 2008. I wonder how low interest rates will go. I suppose in order for young couples to buy a home on the incomes available that home prices will have to fall another 15-20% and interest rates on the 15 year mortgage would have to fall to 3.00% Then....after every mortgage holder in America refinances, we can start over. O.K. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Gazette Corner: WIAA tough on coupons

Click on the post.

St. Paul Newsman sets the standard---retires at 96

The retirement standard for newsmen has been set. And it was set by a guy from my old haunts---a reporter from the Highland Villager. Click on the post for the full story.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

NYT: Housing: "Hints of a Thaw"

The recent Fed rate reduction of .75 has led to an increase in applications for refinancing. Will buyers step forward with the new rates available? Will the Fed lower again next week? Have we reached the bottom of this housing slump?

Lots of disagreement on these issues. Click on the post for the article in the New York Times this weekend.

Obama Wins South Carolina; Wins Endorsement of Caroline Kennedy

Click on the post for the full article.

Dateline Normal, Mn.---"Four Sport Athletes the Norm in Normal"---FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Brett Davis Writes: On the Frankenstein Veto

Voters to Decide Fate of “Frankenstein Veto”

In an overwhelming 94-1 vote last week, the Assembly passed a constitutional amendment to kill the governor’s “Frankenstein Veto,” allowing voters to restore accountability to the governor’s veto pen at the ballot box on April 1.

Wisconsin’s partial veto is the most powerful in the nation, allowing the governor to create completely new sentences, intentions and laws out of unrelated words and fragments. In 2005, Governor Doyle erased 752 words from the budget bill to create a new 20-word sentence transferring $427 million from the segregated transportation fund to the Department of Administration. Governor Doyle has even used the partial veto to increase state spending.

“The voters have a great opportunity to reign in abuses of the partial line-item veto that's occurred under both Republican and Democratic Governors," said Rep. Brett Davis. “Successfully approving this amendment in April will restore the balance of power between the legislature and the executive branches of our state government, an important part of our government’s system of checks and balances.”

Gazette Corner: Seniors and Unemployed cut out of Stimulus Package

One of the objectives of the stimulus package was to inject the stimulus as fast as possible----and those in the lower economic categories would spend every dime as opposed to saving it.

Thus, the decision to cut out seniors on Social Security or the workers facing unemployment, which will be rising, from the stimulus checks does not add up with the declared intention of the stimulus package.

Do you think the final package that passes the Senate will include these folks? You make the call.

Click on the post for the article in the Gazette.

Nostalgia: Dateline Normal: "Reflection, Reassessment".....----FICTION

Click on the post for a post from the past.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gazette Corner: Belt Tightening for Wisconsin State departments

A predicted fall of revenue has caused a new round of belt tightening. Click on the post for the latest.

Business Owner: Looking for Savings on Credit Card Processing Fees?

Call 1-608-279-0244. Let me help you with a cost analysis of what your current costs are and how you could save.

Click on the post for the offer from Central Payment Corp.


LaCrosse High school students face discipline for face book photos

Click on the post for the latest.

Odd Corner: Canadian deals with Planning Commission

Click on the post for the latest.

Colbert Corner: Smithsonian rejects Colbert Portrait; National Portrait Gallary accepts

Click on the post for all the drama.

Art Phillips Appointed to Rock County Board for District #1

Last night, Chairman Richard Ott of the Rock County Board of Supervisors recommended Art Phillips to the board to fill the vacancy of Steve Eager until the election on April 1st, 2008 . The board approved his appointment.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Update: Soybean Oil--the look to December 2010

Click on the post to see the futures options---Looking as far out as December 2010 one does not see lower soybean oil.

I wonder what the fuel could be that could make the equation work for the plant here in Evansville? Stay tuned.

Natural Gas Problem cuts heat from 1700 homes in Hayward

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette Corner: Virtual School Agreement Close

Click on the post for the latest.

Minyanville: The bond Insurer Bailout

Click on the post for the analysis of Minyanville. Readers may be focusing on the stocks, but the real action may be in the bond crisis. Enjoy.

Soros: The Analysis

click on the post for the analysis of George Soros on the current economic crisis.

Consumer Alert: The Jury Duty Scam

(Ed.note: Check out the link to the FBI at the bottom of this post for further information on this scam.:)

Jury Duty Scam

The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity was just stolen.

The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado . This (swindle) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.

Check it out here: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/june06/jury_scams060206.htm

Governor Doyle Calls for Smoke Free Legislation

The State of Tobacco: Governor Doyle Calls on Lawmakers to Pass Smoke Free Legislation This Session

Madison - In his State of the State address Wednesday night Governor Doyle again made clear his dedication to reducing Wisconsin's tobacco burden by calling on the legislature to pass a comprehensive smoke free bill this session.
The Breathe Free Wisconsin Act, ending smoking in all workplaces including bars and restaurants, passed a senate health committee earlier this month but needs action on the full senate floor.
"Protecting workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke, including increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease, is the critical last step in a series of steps made this session toward improving Wisconsin's public health,” said Alison Prange, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. "We applaud the Governor for his continued commitment to giving everyone in Wisconsin the right to breathe clean air no matter where they work. We hope the legislature follows suit.”
The other two steps aimed at reducing Wisconsin's tobacco usage this session were the implementation of a new $1 per pack cigarette tax January 1st and increased funding to the state's tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Already these actions have been immensely successful. More than 9,000 people have called the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line in just the first two weeks of this month, more than all the calls for last year.
"The governor understands the whole scope of Wisconsin's tobacco problem from increased health care costs to the devastating loss of a loved one to lung cancer. His efforts to curb tobacco use are saving lives. We greatly appreciate his support,” said Prange.
The legislature now has until the end of March to deliver Doyle and the people of Wisconsin the comprehensive smoke free law they want.
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1.800.ACS.2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
# # #

Lone Trader Causes 7 Billion Loss for French Bank: One of Largest Bank Losses in History

A lone futures trader. An employee of the bank. Executing futures transactions that he was able to bypass the security detection of the bank. Executes these transactions and does not even profit from them?

This is a chilling story that raises questions of the entire futures industry and whether we need to completely revamp the supervision of the futures exchanges----If we allow the futures traders to take over the world, then if eggs are $1.75 now, they could go to $10 a dozen and then they would go side by side with milk at $10 a half gallon. It would probably be ok because we would all blame the ethanol producers for the spike. HUH.

The French 7 Billion dollar loss is getting small attention this morning, but I think it deserves a larger billing for what it suggests about the internal controls of our Futures Exchanges, which have become the Wild West.

Click on the post for the full story.

Gazette: Compliance Checks Begin

Compliance Checks of Retail locations selling alcohol will begin shortly. Click on the post for the article in the Janesville Gazette.

NYT: Dateline Davos: "The Wounded Giant"

The United States was an object of scorn at Davos. Click on the post for the full story in the New York Times.

Dateline St. Paul: Streetscape Program Progresses:

The areas involved in this streetscape are well familiar to the Observer and it is interesting that St. Paul waited a little longer so that the neighborhoods could be fully invested in the changes. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Twin Cities: Officer Fired in Waunakee/DeForest incident; You make the call.

Click on the post for the full story.

Wrestling Corner: Volunteer Needed:

Good morning,

I’m sending this on behalf of Evansville’s Youth Wrestling Group. Volunteers are needed for the tournament on Sunday, January 27th to help run the concession stand. The location is the Evansville High School . Sounds like fun and a chance to get to know new people. The shifts available are:

6:30 AM to 10:00 AM

10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Please contact Christia Hunt at 882-5200 ext. 1132 or chunt@ub-t.com for more information or to sign up for a shift. If you could pass this on to others who may enjoy this volunteer opportunity, that would be appreciated.


Robin L. Grignon

Evansville Community Partnership

Community Coordinator

8 W.Main Street


Building Our Future Together

Gazette: Gifted and Talented Program in Janesville under review

Click on the post for the story in the Gazette today that includes the reports.

The Man who voted "NO" to the Fed move---William Poole of St. Louis

Click on the post for the bio of the lone Fed Governor that voted not to lower interest rates today.

Finance: Technical Trader; a Bit on Margin Calls

One of the interesting aspects about today's plunge on Wall Street is that it is all about "safety" and "security" and the margin calls have not begun yet----margin calls are based on the closing values, and the last time the markets in the US closed was on Friday. The Martin Luther King holiday prevented margin calls this morning which would have been a more realistic situation.

Professional traders anticipate their margin calls but many private investors do not. Hence, the first forced trading if the markets close at sharply lower levels will be at tomorrow's opening. To the best of my knowledge there are no interday margin calls---although there is a case that there should be...this is a technical loop hole as I surmise...and it can lead to traders getting in trouble in very volatile trading sessions if they abuse the margin levels intraday.

In forced margin selling, one can see the "baby thrown out with the bathwater." The trick is if one can determine which is which, to focus on it.

Lazlo Berrini mentioned on Bloomberg this morning that it is best to buy with the wind at one's back, and his tendency is to observer till that happens.

He also mentioned something interesting: The two golden rules of Wall Street are "Don't fight the Fed" and the second being "Don't fight the Market Trend. The Trend is your Friend." The problem of course is that those two traditional platitudes are suggesting different courses of action for traders. So much for platitudes.

Stay tuned to The Evansville Observer. Where we suggest that active traders sip ice water during today's action. I have switched to Starbucks bold, since I am not in the market.

CNN Money: Subprime woes to hit student loans

Click on the post for the latest.

(Orig Post: April 2007)Continuing: Overture Fund: WSJ: Going the Wrong Way

(Ed. note: Click on the post for the story in the Wisconsin State Journal this morn. If you search on the Observer search box under "Overture" you can find the earlier articles.)

The Observer has had a series of stories on the saga of The Overture Center in downtown Madison. The City of Madison did not listen to the advice of Mayor Dave and chose a risky refinancing plan, as I see it anyway, and now has "repositioned" their assets hoping to get a 8.25% return going forward, while their assets have dropped below the desired target. Whenever you get a phone call from an investment advisor telling you of a wonderful oppurtunity to "reposition your assets" it always means---bad news. You are "bleeding".....financially. I suppose death itself would be the ultimate repositioning of assets.

I did ask Mayor Dave at a meeting in Madison whether anyone had ever said " You were right!" He just smiled. "No", I don't want to make them feel bad."

The mayoral campaign is over. Now is the time for the city of Madison to review the structure of their earlier decision. The cycle of fear and greed inherent in investing suggests that as they "reposition" their assets they will attempt to find riskier and riskier investments so as to deny what is happening. This denial is bad for the city, the Overture Center and .....all of us. That is how I see it.

Yes. Mayor Dave was right. You heard it here.

Fed cuts Rates by .75---breaking news

Quick response---just as I posted this, Bernanke and the Fed cut rates by 75 basis points. Indicated extreme response to the current market conditions. Stay tuned.

Global Markets Plunge----

Click on the post for a review of world markets before the stock market opening this morning.

This morning would be a good time for the Federal Reserve to sharply lower Fed Funds Rate by .50. On the day of the stock crash in 1986 and also after the September 11, 2001, the Fed took action. The time for action is NOW. Mr. Bernanke wrote this Phd. thesis on this and it is time for him to follow or ...eat...his own words.

Last night, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for a moratorium on housing foreclosures implemented immediately. The Observer agrees. An announcement this morning would be good. There is no way the bipartisan efforts so far will respond fast enough to meet the challenge of the variable mortgages that are set to rachet higher now. The moratorium would allow time for the mortgage industry and government officials to thoughtfully respond rather than respond in a panic.

After and during the Crash in 1929, government officials filled the airways stating they had "confidence" in the robustness of the economy. Just mouthing the words will not do in the modern internet age. Folks are looking...and looking closely for action and the prior platitudes will not be sufficient.

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brodhead Municipal Court Report--Jan 16, 2008

Click on the post for the full listing.

Gazette Corner: Grants next step in Crushing Plant for Evansville

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Bill Connors Writes:

(Ed.note: This was a comment that I have posted for better visibility. "

Bill Connors has left a new comment on your post "Nostalgia: Mailbag: Mr. Connors Explains--"On Ba...":

Local governments all over this country set standards for what sort of mix of development they allow, including housing development, and it works. It could have worked here, too, if we had elected officials with foresight and courage. If a local government does not let the builders build whatever they want, they will build and sell what the local government wants them to build and sell, or they will be replaced by other builders who know how do it. In the name of the respecting the all mighty "free market" (which does not exist where only a handful of builders and two groups of developers own all the lots), Anonymous advocates selling the taxpayers of the city short.

Bill Connors
Former Evansville City Administrator

Public Works Meets Wednesday, January 22, 2008

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Dateline London: "Black Monday"; American investors frozen out on Holiday

Click on the post for the full story.

Global Markets Plunge---Will Fed Wait till Regular meeting to act?

Click on the post for the action of world markets today.

The Futures market is open till 11AM ET and reflects a decline of about 3% overall. Will the Federal Reserve wait till their regular meeting to lower interest rates and risk a panic. The economists are predicting a .50 rate cut at that meeting. Can the Federal Reserve afford to save face and wait? Will they be forced to act tomorrow morning....before the markets open.?

Stay tuned. The future is unknown. You make the call.

Mailbag: Wisconsin Biofuel: Jeff Pieterick writes:

The annual Detroit Auto Show is underway. This year's offerings are decidedly "green" in tone. It seems the new mileage standards approved in the Energy Bill are having their impact on the market, and diesel has moved to the fore. This week, we review the revolution that is occurring in the car industry while sharing a glimpse at the new models and concepts that were introduced.

There is also exciting news published in Biodiesel Magazine about a potential new feedstock for biodiesel. Expect to hear a great deal more about field pennycress in the months ahead.

This week's news also included stories about challenges that continue to confront the biodiesel industry. The European Union is threatening to limit imports of marginally efficient biofuels, choosing to direct its support toward biofuels produced in a way that provides maximum impact in reducing our carbon footprint. Meanwhile, the New York Times takes a look at the food-vs-fuel argument and other issues surrounding sustainable biofuels. Many of these concerns are legitimate, and we''ll explore these issues in greater depth in coming weeks.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, great progress is being made in the state legislature toward establishing a Renewable Fuel Standard that will make biofuels more available to Wisconsin consumers. Primary sponsor Senator Pat Kreitlow will be a guest speaker at the meeting of the WBA to be convened in Eau Claire on Monday, January 28. We expect to have a full report on the progress of this legislative initiative in our next newsletter.

There is indeed lots of excitement in the world of Wisconsin biodiesel. You can look to your WBA to keep you apprised of all the developments and news as it occurs. It's our way of promoting this industry while moving us ever closer to more fully offering "Home Grown Fuel for a Better Wisconsin."

Martin Luther King Day Observed

Over the past year I have had a chance to tour many college campuses. I have noticed a striking change in two areas: First there is an emphasis on educating students in cultural diversity---not just a language, but the experience. It usually involves foreign study.

The other thing I have noticed is a definite emphasis on community service--in one University I visited, it was called the Department of Community Partnership. Each student was counseled and directed to specific needs of the community that needed service and this was a required element of their course study....and a graduation requirement.

Those two ideas----a deep understanding and respect for cultural difference, and a committment to community service are the essence of what Martin Luther King was all about.

Economic Development Meets Tuesday

Click on the post for the full agenda.

NYT: Electric Car Comes to Israel

Click on the post for the latest.

St. Paul: Woodbury: Wind to Power New High School

Woodbury joins the growing number of school districts that are forming public-private partnerships to not only become energy independent, but to create a revenue stream in a budget conscious environment.

Click on the post for the full story.

Costs of Study Abroad Rise Sharply

Just when colleges have grown accustomed to having travel abroad as an accepted part of the college experience, giving that grad some international cultural exposure, it has become a very expensive deal.

Click on the post for an article on some specifics.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nostalgia: The Referendum:

Click on the post for some nostalgia of the most recent referendum in Evansville.

Nostalgia: Mailbag: Mr. Connors Explains--"On Backloaded Bonds"

Nostalgia: September 2005: On "Backloaded Bonds"----Classic Mr. Connors

Re:Bill Connors writes: School District Debt Service Heavily Back Loaded; Reflection on the Growth bicycle; or What mix and rate of Growth is right?

--- billconnors wrote:

Managing growth is essential. But it would not be
prudent to constrain growth too much. The school
district's debt service for 2005-06 is $1.98 million.
In 2014-15, the school district's debt service will
exceed $3 million, even if no additional debt is
issued between now and then. In 2020-21, the last
year of payment on the bonds for the new high school,
the school district's debt service will exceed $4
million. The school district heavily back-loaded the
repayment schedule on the bonds for the new high
school, which means they are counting on large
increases in the school district's property tax base
through new construction to be able to pay for the
escalating debt service costs.

This appears to be prudent financial planning on the
part of the school district, but I wonder how many
people are aware that continued growth is essential to
keeping the school district's mill rate in line.

Of course, we could get away with fewer new houses in
the school district if we had more commercial or
industrial development or a greater proportion of the
new houses were larger and more expansive, and fewer
new houses would save on operating costs for the
school district.

Bill Connors
Evansville City Administrator

Friday, January 18, 2008

Evansville Redevelopment meets next Tuesday

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Bond Insurer Downgrades may affect Cities Ability to Borrow

Click on the post for the latest.

Observer announces "School Issues That Count" by Melissa Hammann---

The Evansville Observer is pleased to announce the publication of "School Issues that Count" by Melissa Hammann. This short book contains essays on many of the issues that have come before the Evansville School Board in the past three years---4K, Half-Day Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented Funding, ACT Performance, Gender Disparity of Performance.....etc. Now these essays are in one handy place for easy reference.

Click on the book picture on the right or click on the post for details. A Preview of the first fifteen pages should be available in 24 hours. Stay tuned.

January Park Board Meeting Cancelled

City of Evansville, Wisconsin
Park and Recreation Board Regular Monthly Meeting
Evansville City Hall Council Chambers
Monday, January 21, 2008 6:00 PM



The next regular meeting of Park and Recreation Board is scheduled for February 19th, 2008,
at the time and location noted above.

Citizens who wish to speak to the PRB may contact its chair at 882-2489.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Fear of Handcuffs"-----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Council: 1-15-2008: Fred fears being hancuffed as council

Council: 1-15-2008: Fred Juergens makes motion , which dies for lack of a second.

Download File

Video: Common Council Mason Speaks

1-15-2007: Common Council: Mason Braunschweig explains will not be supporting ordinance

Download File

Video: Mason Speaks

Common Council: 1-15-2007: Mason Braunschweig as sponsor of ordinance proposal to allow referendum on proposals over 5 million explains his research on subject

Download File

Soucheray: "Progressives who continue to take our money and use it to go backward."

The next leg in the monorail system in the Twin Cities is from St. Paul to Minneapolis. Both St. Paul and the University of Minnesota have some design dreams that may bust the budget of the project.

Joe Soucheray weighs in on the controversy----"We Ain't Europe"-----

Are progressives just folks that take taxpayer money and use it to go backwards? Click on the post for the full story.

(Ed.note: Joe Soucheray is a famous columnist of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a champion X-boat sailor from Mahtomedi, and former neighbor of The Evansville Observer. He is the patented owner of the term "post necessity culture."

Yahoo: Finance: Social Security Debit Card Coming

Click on the post for the latest.

City Beat: City Hopes to Make Offer to prospective Finance Director shortly

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Mr. Connors Writes: Ordinance Nullifies key minimun house size provision of Smart Growth Plan

It is hard to read this, because some of the stricken text appears to still be there (without the overstrike font to make clear it is being removed). However, this ordinance appears to do just what Mason told me it would do: it establishes a minimum house size of 1,200 square feet in all residential zoning districts. Since almost no one wants to purchase a new house less than 1,200 square feet, this ordinance does nothing to influence the size of houses being built in Evansville. We will be back the the way it was when I arrived in Evansville in 2003: every house being built was a 3 bedroom of around 1,300 square feet, either a ranch or a split level. No variety of house sizes. No opportunity for those who have outgrown their starter homes to purchase larger homes. No protection for the property taxpayers of the city. A complete abandonment of the city's Smart Growth Plan. What a waste of time, energy, and money the Smart Growth plannning process has turned out to be.

Bill Connors
Former Evansville City Administrator

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ordinance 2007-21===City of Evansville--passed last night---mark up version

Ed.note: This ordinance passed last night has not been put on the city web site yet, but was sent compliments of Dan Wietecha, City Administrator.)



Relative to Dimensional Standards in Residential District One (R-1),
Residential District Two (R-2), Residential District Three (R-3),
Large Lot Urban Residential Districts (LL-R12 and LL-R15),
and Rural Residential District (RR)

The Common Council of the City of Evansville, Rock County, Wisconsin, does hereby ordain as following additions and amendments to the Municipal Code:

Section 1. Definition. Add the following term and definition to Section 130-6 to read:

Sec. 130-6. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.

Above-grade floor area means the total floor area within the exterior walls and at or above grade level of a building which is habitable as living quarters. Above-grade floor area may be comprised of the floor area of one or more floors. If a floor is partially above the grade level, the floor is counted as above-grade if it has direct doorway access to the outdoors and is habitable as living quarters.

Section 2. Residential District One (R-1). Add Paragraph 12 to Section 130-983 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-983. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the R-1 district only after issuance of a conditional use permit as prescribed by article II, division 4 of this chapter:
(12) Single-family dwelling units with an above-grade floor area of at least 900 and less than 1,200 square feet.

Amend Paragraph 11 of Section 130-984 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-984. Requirements for all uses.
Within the R-1 district, the following standards shall apply:
(11) Minimum first above-grade floor area for single-family dwelling: 900 1,200 square feet.

Section 3. Residential District Two (R-2). Add Paragraph 10 to Section 130-1003 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-1003. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the R-2 district only after issueance of a conditional use permit as prescribed in Article II, Division 4, of this chapter:
Single-family dwelling units with an above-grade floor area of at least 900 and less than 1,200 square feet.

Add Paragraph 15 to Section 130-1004 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-1004. Requirements for all uses.
Within the R-2 district, the following standards shall apply:
Minimum above-grade floor area for single-family dwelling: 1,200 square feet.

Section 4. Residential District Three (R-3). Add Paragraph 11 to Section 130-1023 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-1023. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the R-3 district only after issuance of a conditional use permit as prescribed in Article II, Division 4, of this chapter:
Single-family dwelling units with an above-grade floor area of at least 900 and less than 1,200 square feet.

Add Paragraph 13 to Section 130-1024 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-1024. Requirements for all uses.
Within the R-3 district, the following standards shall apply:
Minimum above-grade floor area for single-family dwelling: 1,200 square feet.

Section 35. Large Lot Urban Residential District (LL-R12). Amend Paragraph 1 of Section 130-942 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-942. Uses permitted by right.
The following uses are permitted uses in the LL-R12 district:
(1) One single-family dwelling unit with a minimum total above-grade floor area on the first floor and above of 1,3001,200 square feet; one or more private garages. The total area of any attached garages shall not exceed the area of the foundation of the dwelling. The total area of any detached garages shall not exceed the area of the foundation of the dwelling. In addition, the total area of the private garage(s) shall not exceed 11 percent of the total area of the lot.

Amend Paragraph 4 of Section 130-942 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-943. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the LL-R12 district only after issuance of a conditional use permit as prescribed by article II, division 4 of this chapter:
(4) One single-family dwelling unit with aan total above-grade floor area on the first floor and above of at least 900 and less than 1,3001,200 square feet.

Amend Paragraph 11 of Section 130-944 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-944. Requirements for all uses.
Within the LL-R12 district, the following standards shall apply:
(11) Minimum first above-grade floor area: 1,0001,200 square feet.

Section 46. Large Lot Urban Residential District (LL-R15). Amend Paragraph 1 of Section 130-962 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-962. Uses permitted by right.
The following uses are permitted uses in the LL-R15 district:
(1) One single-family dwelling unit with a minimum total above-grade floor area on the first floor and above of 1,4501,200 square feet. One or more private garages. The total area of any attached garages shall not exceed the area of the foundation of the dwelling. The total area of any detached garages shall not exceed the area of the foundation of the dwelling. In addition, the total area of the private garage(s) shall not exceed 11 percent of the total area of the lot.

Amend Paragraph 4 of Section 130-963 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-963. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the LL-R15 district only after issuance of a conditional use permit as prescribed by article II, division 4 of this chapter:
(4) One single-family dwelling unit with a an total above-grade floor area on the first floor and above of at least 900 and less than 1,4501,200 square feet.

Amend Paragraph 11 of Section 130-964 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-964. Requirements for all uses.
Within the LL-R15 district, the following standards shall apply:
(11) Minimum first above-grade floor area: 1,2501,200 square feet.

Section 57. Rural Residential District (RR). Add Paragraph 9 to Section 130-923 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-923. Uses permitted as conditional use.
The following conditional uses shall be allowed in the RR district only after issuance of a conditional use permit as prescribed by article II, division 4 of this chapter:
(9) Single-family dwelling units with an above-grade floor area of at least 900 and less than 1,200 square feet.

Amend Paragraph 10 of Section 130-924 to read as follows:

Sec. 130-924. Requirements for all uses.
Within the RR district, the following standards shall apply:
(10) Minimum above-grade floor area per family: 900 1,200 square feet.

This Ordinance shall be in full force and effect January 1, 2008upon passage and publication.

Passed and adopted this ____ day of ___________, 20072008.

Sandra J. Decker, Mayor

Judy L. Walton, City Clerk

Introduced: 11/13/07
Notices published: 12/12/07 and 12/19/07
Public hearing held: 1/3/08

Sponsors: Alderpersons Roberts and Wyse.

First Reading drafted by Dan Wietecha, City Administrator, 11/12/07.
Second Reading drafted by Dan Wietecha, City Administrator, 1/10/08.

Common Council: 1-15-2008

Barb Jacobson Speaks: The Public Has been Heard. Opposes ordinance. Urges Referendum when appropriate for large projects where controversy

Download File

Common Council--1-15-2007

Administrator Dan Wietecha: Describes Flood Control Grant Application

Download File

Minimum House Size

Council Speaks: Says ordinance was a compromise

Download File

Gazette Corner: Evansville Settles with Former Police Officer

Click on the post for the latest from Gina Duwe of The Gazette

Mailbag: Mr. Connors Writes: Was Ordinance on Minimum House size capitulation and a joke?

Observer, what was the minimum house size set in the ordinance? Mason told me it was 1,200 square feet when he told me about it around Christmas time. Maybe it changed. If it did not, this is a joke. No one builds new houses less than 1,200 square feet, not even in Evansville. No wonder the builders and developers have no problem with it. If the new minimum standard is indeed 1,200 square feet, this is a complete capitulation to the interests of the builders and developers and does nothing, absolutely nothing, to protect the interests of the property taxpayers. The Council is either grossly ignorant or in the pocket of the builders and developers.

To give readers a frame of reference, our house, a plain, 3 bedroom ranch, is 1,500 square feet on the main floor (we are fortunate to have a walk out basement with more finished space). A 1,500 squre foot, 3 bedroom ranch is a small house anywhere except Evansville, where the builders and developers claim it is a large house.

The old minimum house size standards were the result of negotiations with the builders and developers. The claim of the aldersperson that this new standard represents the result of people working together is incredible. It is a completely one-sided deal.

Bill Connors
Former Evansville City Administrator

Yahoo: The New Retirement----Working and Not Retiring

Click on the post for the latest.

Unified Land Development Code Committee set to begin


The regular meeting of the Evansville Unified Land Development Code Committee will be held on the date and time specified below at City Hall, 31 South Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin. Notice is further given that members of the City Council might be in attendance.

City of Evansville
Unified Land Development Code Committee

Thursday, January 17, 2008, 6:00 PM
City Hall, 31 S. Madison St., Evansville, WI


1. Call to order

2. Introductions

3. Selection of committee chair

4. Approval of agenda

5. Review initial draft of code

6. Set next meeting date

7. Motion to adjourn

Bill Hammann, Interim Chair

Please turn off all cell phones while the meeting is in session. Thank you!

Common Council-1-15-2008

Council clarifies by ordinance dimensional standards of new housing in various zoning districts. Gives developers some flexibility.

MP3 File

Common Council: Flood Control Grant

Common Council Passed a resolution to apply for a Flood Control Grant to help survey areas on 6th Street. This grant may help homeowners and the city in determining where the properties are in relation to flood plain etc.

MP3 File

Common Council: 1-15-2008

Complete Audio: Public Hearing on Ordinance to have referendum on any projects that exceed 5 million----

MP3 File

Yahoo: Biz: Stocks set to move sharply lower at open: Will Fed wait till Jan 29th?

Click on the post for the latest. The Fed is anticipated to cut rates on Jan 29th, but that seems a long way off. They may choose to act earlier.

Stay tuned.

Minutes: Evansville Fire District::: January 7, 2008

Meeting Minutes
Regular Monthly Meeting
January 07, 2008

The regular monthly meeting of the Evansville Fire District Board of Trustee’s was held on January 07, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. at the Evansville Fire Station.

The meeting was called to order. Roll call was taken of those present.

Present Representing

Kendall Schneider (President) Union Township
Fern McCoy (Secretary/Treasurer) Magnolia Township
Dennis Wessels (Vice President) City of Evansville
Barbara Jacobson City of Evansville
Jim Topel Brooklyn Township
Phil Hamilton Porter Township

Mike Halvensleben – Fire Chief
Gary Gard


The January meeting of the Evansville Fire District Board of Appeals was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Present Representing

Kendall Schneider (President) Union Township
Fern McCoy (Secretary/Treasurer) Magnolia Township
Dennis Wessels (Vice President) City of Evansville
Barbara Jacobson City of Evansville
Phil Hamilton Porter Township
Jim Topel Brooklyn Township

Mike Halvensleben – Fire Chief
Gary Gard

Motion made by Wessels, 2nd by Hamilton, to deny appeal for tabled invoice 7084, CO2 and smoke detectors sounding at residence, due to lack of communication from appellant. Motion carried.

Motion made by Hamilton, 2nd by Wessels, to adjourn Board of Appeals meeting. Motion carried. The regular monthly meeting was called back into session.


Motion made by Schneider, 2nd by McCoy, to approve December 04, 2007 minutes as written. Motion carried.


No continuing business discussed.


Communications lead to agenda items.


Excel Engineering presented revised preliminary floor plans for new station. Boards may be viewed at station. Discussion included stubbing plumbing to southeast end of building for future expansion of gender specific shower if needed in future per Jacobson request.

By unanimous roll call vote, Evansville 1 and 2 – yes; Brooklyn – yes; Porter – yes; Magnolia – yes; Union – yes; approval of building budget, in the amount of $2,400,000.00, was approved.


Motion made by Wessels, 2nd by Topel, to reimburse current land owner of Water Street property for re-zoning costs back to original status if land purchase does not occur. Motion carried.


Due to scheduling issues with City of Evansville for January 07, 2008 meeting, updates were not available. Special meeting for purchase may need to be scheduled before February 15, 2008 sale deadline.


Motion made by Wessels, 2nd by McCoy, to pay January bills in the amount of $20,338.66. Motion carried.


Motion made by Schneider, 2nd by McCoy, to accept fire calls 122, 124, 128, 131, 136, 138 from 2007 calls and 2 from 2008 fire calls as non-billable. Motion carried.


Invoices were reviewed by Board. Motion made by Topel, 2nd by Jacobson, to pursue legal action for user fee invoices 7035 and 7044B. Motion carried.


Halvensleben invited Board to next meeting with Excel Engineering on January 21, 2008, at 6:30 p.m., which will include discussion of 25% review of building finishes and HVAC.

Motion made by McCoy, 2nd by Wessels, to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried.
The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

The next meeting of the Evansville Community Fire District will be held on February 05, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Fire Station.


Board of Appeals Meeting
Minutes from the last meeting
Continuing Business
Communications from Chief
New Building / Fire Station
Land Purchase
Sale of Existing Fire Station and Lot
Fire Service Appreciation
Payment of Bills
Fire Calls
User Fee Invoices
Other Non-actionable Business Presented to Board


"Jeff" Returns

As noted in the Gazette, the man of mystery, Evansville Jeff, returns to the blogging community with an opening post that covered a lot of ground, but as pointed out by "Slammer" that post avoided the one socially conservative topic we might have expected...namely Prohibition.

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette Corner: Evansville Council Denies Ordinance

Click on the post for the story in the Janesville Gazette. Full Audio is coming on The Observer.

NYT: Asian Stocks Fall Sharply Overnight

Click on the post for the full story.

In the flight to bonds, the Japanese 10 Year Treasury fell to 1.38%, as it's face value rose. It sure would be nice to see our rates for mortgages go to.....well 1.35 for a 30 year mortgage might really get things going again.

Dateline Minnesota: WCCO: Binge Drinking; Minnesota, Wisconsin and No. Dak Lead the Nation

Click on the post for the full story. Raising the price of alcohol may be the answer?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Agenda: Evansville Common Council--1-14-2008 revised

Common Council
Tuesday, January 15, 2008, 6:30 p.m.
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, WI

Revised Agenda
1. Call to order

2. Roll call

3. Approval of Agenda

4. Motion to waive the reading of the minutes of December 11, 2007, regular meeting and to approve them as printed.

5. Citizen appearances
A. North Prairie Productions

B. SOLE Committee


D. Public Hearing: Ordinance 2007-18, Regarding Common Council Planning and Approval of Public Improvements Projects.
(1). Initial discussion by Council.
(2). Public hearing.
(3). Final discussion by Council.
(4). Motion to adopt Ordinance 2007-18, Regarding Common Council Planning and Approval of Public Improvements Projects. [Sponsors: Juergens and Braunschweig].

6. Reports of Committees
A. Plan Commission Report

B. Finance and Labor Relations Committee Report
(1). Motion to approve W&L bills and authorize their payment.

(2). Motion to approve the City bills and authorize their payment.

(3). Motion to approve non-represented employee contracts and wages.

C. Public Safety Committee Report
(1). Motion to approve EMS hardship case in the amount of $733.86.

(2). Motion to approve Resolution 2008-01, Addendum C to Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Agreement.

D. Public Works Committee Report
(1). Motion to approve Resolution 2008-02, Authorizing Submittal of a State Grant Application and a Subsequent Appropriation of City Funds for a Municipal Flood Control Grant.

E. Water & Light Committee Report

F. Economic Development Committee Report

G. Redevelopment Authority Report

H. Parks and Recreation Board Report

I. Historic Preservation Commission Report

J. Fire District Report

K. Police Commission Report

7. Unfinished Business
A. Second reading and motion to approve Ordinance 2007-21, Relative to Dimensional Standards in Residential District One (R-1), Residential District Two (R-2), Residential District Three (R-3), Large Lot Urban Residential Districts (LL-R12 and LL-R15), and Rural Residential District (RR). [Sponsors: Roberts and Wyse].

B. Second reading and motion to approve Ordinance 2007-22, Relative to Speed Limits. [Sponsors: Sornson and Juergens].

C. Second reading and motion to approve Ordinance 2007-23, Rezoning Territory from Agricultural District One (A-1) and Lowland Conservancy District (C-1) to Light Industrial District (I-1) in Response to Development Application 2007-36. [Nevell property. Citizen initiated ordinance, no sponsors required].

8. Communications and Recommendations from the Mayor

9. Communications from the City Administrator
A. Motion to meet in closed session per Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(c) and 19.85(1)(g) to discuss agenda items 9-B, 9-C, and 9-D and to subsequently reconvene in open session.

B. Discussion on Finance Director position – hiring update. Council will meet in closed session per Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(c).

C. Discussion on non-represented employee performance evaluations, contracts, and wages. Council will meet in closed session per Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(c).

D. Discussion on oral and written advice concerning legal strategy. Council will meet in closed session per Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(g).

10. New Business
A. Motion(s) regarding non-represented employee contracts and wages.

B. Motion regarding former police officer Jason Grooms.

C. Motion to approve appointment of Election Inspectors for 2008-2009.

D. Motion to approve Intergovernmental Emergency Ambulance Service Contract for 2008.

11. Introduction of New Ordinances
A. First reading of Ordinance 2008-01, Relative to Compensation for Mayor and Alderpersons. [Sponsors: Cothard and Roberts].

B. First reading of Ordinance 2008-02, Amending Chapter 122 of Municipal Code Allowing the Operation of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. [Sponsors: Juergens and Sornson].

12. Motion to adjourn

Sandra J. Decker, Mayor

Requests for persons with disabilities who need assistance to participate in this meeting should be made to the Clerk’s office by calling 882-2266 with as much advance notice as possible.
Please turn off all cell phones while the meeting is in session. Thank you.

"The Case of the Punk Driver"

Imagine yourself the parent of a young teen. You have enrolled that teen in the best of driver training programs. Spent additional time riding with that teen in teaching to merge to the speed of I90. Maybe occasionally clutching the door handle. You have been lucky. No accidents. And today is the day of the driver test. The great news. Your child has passed. You are both relieved and anxious. You make the insurance call and add the driver and put the additional premium on your Mastercard or Visa. Now you are ready for the trip home. You decide to let the new driver drive.

As you leave the city limits, and get up to speed on HWY 14, or HWY 90, ( insert your own highway here) you notice that something has changed. Your new driver accelerates up to 85 mph and ......very quickly. And seems almost giddy in the way and style that he/she changes lanes. Finally. Noting a little chest pain. You simply say: "Please pull over. I will drive the rest of the way"

All the way home, you ask that young driver what was in his/her mind. The youngster simply says, "Dad, you have the risk insured. What is the big deal? We have it covered!!!!!"

You then go over the simple truth, one that all of us know....maybe......that paying auto insurance for the risk, is not a substitute for prudent driving.

This mistake has also been made in our banking system--in our mortgages, in our securities,.....well in everything. The banks simply took some low grade mortgages and got insurance on them, and then marketed them.....with additional leverage....so that while the junk was 10%, with leverage, the entire investment was endangered. This strategy....the strategy that all of our best financial minds are trying to lie their way out of with successive notices of write offs of bad loans and then cell calls to the Asian or Saudi nations to get additional loans....is shameful....But the key point is that the original "DUE DILIGENCE" was not done. That was a point that our Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made over a month ago. The audio is on the blog.

Now locally---some very well educated pundits have said that with respect to building on a flood plain---it is really "No Problem. "Just buy the insurance." However----just remember the Punk Driver.

"DUE DILIGENCE" and "Insurance RATING" are different. One of the major problems in America, from Malibu to locally, is building in locations where development should not happen. And also one of the major problems nationwide, is governments unable to say NO.

So--there it is. The story of the "Punk Driver." Who did not know the difference between insurance premiums and sane driving. Ditto mortgage banking....Ditto site selection for major public projects. Boards know that due diligence requires more than simply getting an insurance quote. Stay tuned.

Orig Post 12/2007: "It is More than the Bricks that You Seek"

Click on the post for a reflection on our bricks.

One of the continuing themes of the Economic Development Summit on Saturday, January 12, 2008, was the necessity of nurturing the connections---the connections of the creative class of inventors and business owners, that can provide and GROW the vitality of our community.

The Keynote speaker, Mr. Terry Whipple, in his speech "Catch the Culture" gave the participants a vision of the problem----the speed of knowledge is exponential----and "the FAST will vanquish or "EAT" the slow." As a very slow runner, that tagline was a concern. This same theme is present in the school report from Evansville Schools as education comes to grips with the speed----some are continuing to stonewall progress with opposition to all virtual applications while maintaining the pretense.

In the focus groups in the afternoon there was continuing discussion. As the Observer, I was in a focus group with an EHS senior who was timing us to see that each person did not speak too long. I was on my best behavior. I did note that only 12 years or so ago, I was timing for him in Mr.Steve's class when he did his alphabet testing. It was deja vu time again. I did ask him whether he might be able to help a few older folks with social networking and come up to speed----He just smiled and said "Sure." This younger generation has some skills that are relevant for our inventers and business owners------Stay tuned.

Click on the post for the reflection.

Congrats to all those who were involved in the planning for this conference. It was very well done. Whether anything results will depend on what happens next.

Evansville School Reports: 1-14-2008

Click on the post for the Superintendent's Report as well as each building report

Evansville School Board Meets Tonight--5:30PM

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Gazette Corner: USDA Rural Development coming to Edgerton Tomorrow

Click on the post for the latest from the Janesville Gazette.

Gazette: Magnolia: Town Politics at its Worst

Click on the post for an in depth article by Gina Duwe of the Janesville Gazette on Magnolia, a town that is closed....divided...and much more.

Minyanville: "The Race for Corn"

Click on the post for the latest.

Reflection: "I Do NOT know best"

(Ed.note: This was a reflection on the eve of the Evansville Economic Summit, and this is the last reflection in the new book of Reflections. Click on the post to see the latest.)

One of the emotions of the newly engaged couple is that surely their love is like no other. And as a natural byproduct....any product of that love must be like no other. Indeed...every young parent believes, and I insist must believe, that it has been ordained from all time for them to raise the perfect child, a child like no other, a child that may have to change the world, since indeed....the parent has not had an opportunity to effect that revolution yet.

It is required that a young parent be so enthused. So confident. so entirely religious in devotion to that first born. As the parent of the first born, one is convinced that imparting every wisdom of the ages will give that youngster a headstart---the cutting edge to the life of unlimited success.

Somewhere along the way....maybe after the third child......for some parents this never occurs......

One comes to the conclusion that one does not indeed know best. That this child is a mystery to itself and one's parents..... and a wonderful mystery indeed. And that behold even without the wonderful wisdom of the parent...it is going to be and do just fine. One begins to have confidence that this first born can deal with the NEW just fine. That the OLD is not relevant. Call it an OBAMA moment.

The OBAMA moment will come for Evansville tomorrow as folks convene for the Economic Summit.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Keynote Address: Economic Summit

Mr. Terry Whipple, Executive Director, Juneau Economic Development Corporation---speech titled "Catch the Culture." 1 of 3 video

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Keynote: Mr. Terry Whipple

2 of 3, Video: Mr. Terry Whipple, Executive Director, Juneau Economic Development Corporation. "Catch the Culture."

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Video: Keynote: Terry Whipple--

Terry Whipple is the Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Corporation: His speech is "Catch the Culture." 3 of 3

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Mayor Sandy Decker: 1-12-2008: Evansville Economic Summit

Evansville Economic Summit: Mayor Decker explains the purpose of the summit and some of the history.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Speaker: Evansville Economic Summit 1-12-2008

Mr. Bud Gayhart, Program Director, Small business Development Center, UW Whitewater----speech titled: "Differentiating Your Business from the Competition

MP3 File

Keynote Speaker: Economic Summit

1-12-2007--Evansville Economic Summit: Speech of Mr. Terry Whipple, Executive Director, Juneau Economic Development Corporation

MP3 File

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mailbag: Rep. Brett Davis Writes: Re: Virtual Schools

The Debate Over Virtual Schools Begins: 3,000 Wisconsin Students’ Education in Jeopardy

The Wisconsin State Legislature is set to have a serious debate regarding the future of technology in our K-12 education system. The District 2 Court of Appeals ruling on December 5 in favor of the Madison-based teacher's union, and against innovative Virtual Schools, has set the stage. The Legislature must act. If education laws are not modernized by the Legislature and the court ruling is not overturned, an educational option for 3,000 students will end.

The court ruling is the perfect opportunity for our state to look to the future, and instead of supporting the status quo, embrace technology in education and provide a strong, high-quality educational option for our students. It is time to get our education laws out of the 20th century and take a giant step into the 21st Century. To do this, we must allow the 12 Virtual Schools to flourish and continue promoting them. As the Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I am ready to take the lead and help move us forward.

By utilizing computers and the Internet, virtual charter schools have become a popular high-quality and efficient alternative education choice for parents and their children. Virtual schools are not for every student and will not replace our traditional bricks and mortar schools. But they are a wonderful way to bring an effective, new style of learning to both gifted and special needs students.

This education issue should not be a partisan one. That's why I made a good faith effort to work with Senator John Lehman (D-Racine), the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, to find a way we can resolve our differences. Unfortunately, Senator Lehman was unwilling to compromise and he recently introduced a bill that goes well beyond the scope of addressing the court case.

The bill introduced by Senator Lehman would cut funding to virtual schools by 50 percent. Under current law, virtual schools are already receiving only half the funding that brick and mortar schools are. In fact, a 2006 national study illustrates the cost to educate a student in a virtual school and a traditional brick and mortar school is similar. In addition to the funding cut, Senator Lehman’s bill also imposes arbitrary enrollment restrictions, which would result in fewer virtual schools for parents to choose from.

Along with State Representative Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade), I have been working with school districts, parents, and teachers from all over the state in an attempt to craft a bill that will allow virtual schools to continue operating by addressing the issues raised by the Court of Appeals. This legislation will truly protect virtual schools and allow them to continue their unique and innovative role in our education system.

Virtual schools need to remain an option for parents and students across Wisconsin. I look forward to the public debate on this issue during the weeks ahead.

Merrill Lynch announces 15 Billion loss; Makes stock recommendations: "The Time Out Rule"

If you have a chance to visit New York-----stop by the Merrill Lynch headquarters. Not sure where it is. Just look for the location with all the stretch limos parked to wisk the brokers at closing to their homes, or maybe over to Harrys for a quick one on the way.

I would propose a rule. On any day that a brokerage firm suffers a 15 BILLION dollar loss....one would suspend brokerage recommendations for at least 24 hours out of humility. Today...right after the news of the loss broke....Merrill had some timely buy advice on Time Warner stock....excuse me....Time OUT.

(Orig Post-Sept 2007) "The Cookies"; or "The NEW"----- a true story

Years ago, one of my friends was the savings manager of the downtown Minneapolis Minnesota Federal. Minnesota Federal was a very staid old line savings institution. The two benefits of this job were the Athletic Club membership he was given to entertain depositors and woo new deposits. The other duty was to manage the depositors on "cookie day" each week. I think it was Tuesday.

All customers were treated to cookies and coffee. It was great to stop off while switching busses and get a cup of coffee and one of those great chocolate chip cookies. I suppose I could have felt uncomfortable standing around chatting with the older folks about stuff----actually I loved it cause they always had some great stories, and besides....the cookies were great.

Depositors who created a new account for $5000 or more, or added $5000 to an existing account got a wonderful set of stainless steel silverware. I can see it now in the classic wooden case. How elegant. Someday I thought. Someday I will get some of that silverware.

One day I stopped in and there was NOTHING. What a shock. What a letdown feeling!! It had been a terrible winter day battling traffic on 35W and ...well...I really was in the mood for some coffee....and the cookies. What a blow!!

I went right over to my friend, Mike, and asked, "What the heck is the deal, Mike? How could you destroy such a sacred tradition like the cookies?"

Mike just smiled. Then he went on: "The stainless steel silverware was a reward for those folks that deposited NEW money. The plain truth is that we had a large number of present customers that threatened to take their $5000 out of the bank if they did not get the silverware. It became a blackmail game. The incentive just did not work. So---we discontinued it, along with the coffee and cookies."

Over the years I have thought a lot about that incident. Things have changed. Yes I have learned how to make my own coffee.

Mike taught me a wonderful lesson that morning. A lesson about Economic Development. A lesson about sales. Economic Development is about going out and getting the NEW money---not about being blackmailed by the old. The stainless silver cookware goes to the NEW.

Thanks, Mike.

E-Arts: A Hot Night in February

It Will Be A Hot Night In February!

Mark your calendars and save the date! Do whatever you need to do to be at the Evansville Performing Arts Center for the hottest night of the winter. E-Arts is bringing Westside Andy Linderman and the Mel Ford Band to town on Saturday February 23 at 7:30 PM for one hot performance.

Since he was first invited to sit in for a set with the legendary Siegal/Schwall Blues Band at age 15 Andy has been recognized as one of America’s premier blues harmonica players. Andy has shared the stage with James Cotton, Luther Allison, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Charlie Musselwhite, The Doobie Brothers, Richie Havens, Muddy Waters, Gary Primich, Jimmy Johnson, Tab Benoit, and Hubert Sumlin. He performs regularly in the Madison area and has recorded more than 15 albums

For the Evansville show he will be joined Mel Ford, a blues guitarist/vocalist/songwriter of wide acclaim to “bring the heat” of the blues to town. Mel, along with his own band The Fairlanes, has opened for or performed with Blues greats Bo Diddley, Sunnyland Slim, Zora Young, Junior Pettis, Ben Sidran and Paul Black and the Flip Kings. Jimmy Voegeli, Tony Menzer,and Steve Dougherty make up the rest of the Westside Andy/ Mel Ford Band. Andy has promised a show that is unlike any the group has put on before.

Tickets for the show are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the show. You will want to get your ticket early for this one. Tickets are available at Kopecki’s Piggly Wiggly, The Night Owl and by calling Peter Diedrich at 882-3570.

And don’t forget to give a gift of the arts. E-Arts Gift Certificates are available in any denomination and can be purchased by calling Peter Diedrich at (608) 882.3570. They are perfect for Valentines Day gifts.

Crowds have laughed along with Second City, stomped their feet to Gaelic Storm and Rising Gael and rocked with American English at previous E-Arts shows. If you braved the weather to see The Mad Hatters and Tangled Up In Blue at the PAC you know that nothing warms a winter night better than sharing it with a few hundred of your closest friends. Now, E-Arts is promising a Hot Night In February. You won’t want to miss this show.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yahoo: Finance: Is Bank of America buying Countryside "salvation"?

Ever since Lee Iococca gave his pep talk on TV telling all America that back in 1985, the "K Car" was going to get America going again, that it was going to be "salvation," I have been just a tad cynical when I hear the term "salvation" used in conjunction with financial firms that are nearing bankruptcy.

It must be really ironic to all the Bank of America employees in mortgage finance that were forced out of their jobs in the downsizing over the past year or so, to know that now, Bank of America is going to be "salvation." Who wudda thunk?

Evansville Finance Committee meets TODAY: 5:30PM

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Gazette Corner: On the Public Hearing Next Tuesday----what's it all about?

Click on the post for an article written by Gina Duwe of the Janesville Gazette that attempts to clarify the hearing coming at next Tuesday's Evansville Common Council.

OpEd: Reflection: The Case of the " Farsighted " Pundits

It is a curious matter that when one reviews pundits, on political, finance, sports or whatever it appears that most of the visionary talk is about politicians a long distance away--2000 miles or so is best.

It seems that though most Americans have "nearsightedness" and have their vision corrected routinely with eyeglasses, the fact is that few Americans have the problem of "farsightedness" where the vision is poor longer range but great short range.

Thus the irony----- pundits always act as though they are "farsighted"------mostly though, whether it is the local news, or local issues, it is rather that folks find it inconvenient to even admit differences in the nearsighted range. In the all consuming effort to please, like a little child being good for an ice cream cone, the pundits act ......blind......and look thousands of miles away.

The problem with bond rating agencies,insurers and reinsurers--like MBIA

Click on the post for the news on MBIA today.

The question is whether the rating agencies have given accurate ratings, whether the insurers can withstand the losses coming, and what it means to the investor, pension investor, who has little clue about the risk to their retirement.

Stay tuned.

Minyanville: Mortgage Refinancings Rise;

Click on the post for an article from Minyanville. Mortgage rates are falling, but the applicants may have a more difficult time meeting the FICO scores due to other areas of their life, like employment and high credit card debt, or a home mortgage that is upside down, and the current balance more than the house is worth.

Stay tuned.

The "Nano" from TATA Motors has arrived

Click on the post for the newest, and cheapest car on the road.

NYT: Is Bernanke too nice? Too Collegial? Not tough enough?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may know more about the Great Depression than anyone on Wall Street with respect to the necessity for bold action to prevent the damage of deflation. Yet. He likes to be a collegial leader. Listening to all points of view.

Time is not on his side.

Click on the post for an article in the New York Times that questions his toughness during these difficult times.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

UK: Bush Convenes Plunge Protection Team

This is not a plumbing story. Click on the post for the latest.

Lake Leota: Ald Fred Juergens Presents--PT1

Finance Committee--7-8-2007: Alderman Fred Juergens presents status of Lake Leota--"It's Crunch Time"--- Recommends binding referendum for the voters. First of three videos

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Lake Leota Update: Fred Juergens Pt 2

Second part of presentation of Fred Juergens on Lake Leota 7-8-2007 Finance Committee Meeting--Juergens recommends binding referendum; recommends listening to the voters after full education on the options

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Lake Leota Pt 3

Third of Three video presentation by Ald. Fred Juergens re referendum re Lake Leota etc.

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School Beat: Evansville School Board meets Monday

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Rock Net Roots: Urges no Primary for Janesville Common Council Race--Urges Gazette to stand down

Click on the post for the latest.

"Lonely Teardrops"---with Jackie Wilson--the video

Never underestimate the power of a single tear---done with class of course.

Today, all across America, after the stunning comeback of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire sparked by just one tear in a local diner...... candidates are rehearsing how to deliver that tear with effectiveness and style. As a Baby boomer, one could choose, "Never a Tear Has to Fall," or one of many such songs for background, but for me, "Lonely Teardrops" with Jackie Wilson is numero uno.

Click on the post for the video that brings back just the way it was in my youth on the dance floor.

Baby Boomer Retirement: The Teardrop---the trailer

In the wake of the famous "tears" yesterday that launched the comeback of Hillary Clinton, I have been researching "Lonely Teardrops"----and came up with this unexpected bonus---a look at the camper of the past----and who knows maybe of the future.

Click on the post for the full story.

I just wonder if the new TATA Motors car could tow one of these.

Dateline Normal, Mn.; "Development Summit Comes to Normal"--FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Fashion Corner:

Thinking of a career in Fashion and Clothing Design? Looking for a school with a Fashion major. Click on the post for some info on the University of Minnesota Senior Fashion Show where seniors present lines of clothing they have designed.

Wisconsin Bill would allow cameras at Stop Lights

Click on the post for the latest.

Chasin Corner: Tuesday Council Vote to Bypass Voters on Projects under 5 Million on Center Stage

The Evansville Common Council meeting on next Tuesday, January 15, 2008 will be one of the most important in many years----click on the post for the coverage in "Chasin the News" and discussion by Mason of key points.

As a helpful note to daily and weekly newspapers----this is local news.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yahoo: New Hampshire Up to the Minute Results

Click on the post for the up to the minute results.

NYT: TATA Motors to unveil $2500 car on Thursday

click on the post for the latest.

Dateline St. Paul: Nostalgia: Invocation of "Local News" spells trouble at Daily Papers

A little nostalgia from back in July 2007. Every time daily newspapers reflect, over an over again about how they would like to be local.....it is a sign of trouble. Weeklies have been doing local news for years.

Click on the post from last July.

Groundbreaking: Observer welcomes military family to Westside

(Ed.note: To enlarge photo and inspect the troops, double click on photo.)

In the light rain, with no formal welcome from others, on the lot right next to the electric solar home of the Evansville High School construction course, the Evansville Observer followed protocol----I distributed the necessary Evansville Observer pens, with the light up feature for dark, rainy days, and asked the troops to get in the proper formation. Then the photo and the formal welcome: "Welcome to Evansville." Only one of the guys was buying the house, but the rest were there to buy lunch. I liked the idea.

Gazette Corner: Why we heard the sirens yesterday----

Click on the post for a good explanation in the Janesville Gazette about he policy of notification in Rock County.

Nostalgia: Projects Chosen and Projects Not Chosen---the record

(Ed.note: The following are portions of Evansville Redevelopment Authority minutes for 2004 and 2005 that I have reprinted without comment.)

Redevelopment Authority---July 2004:

New Business

Mr. Connors asked members whether they would be interested in acquiring the property of Nelson Equipment Painting and assisting the business in moving to another location in Evansville so that the city could construct a new street connecting E. Main St. with the intersection of Enterprise St. and E. Church St. between the properties of the VFW and Main Street Signs. Members expressed some interest, but want to have more discussions of their vision for the downtown in general and this area specifically before discussing this specific issue further.

Redevelopment Authority---August 2004"

New Business

Discussion of Authority’s Vision for Downtown Evansville. After discussion, members concluded the authority should focus its efforts first on improving East Main Street from the intersection with Madison Street to the intersection with Union Street. Vice-Chairperson Eager commented that with the unfortunate passing of Mr. Quinnell, it was likely that the Auto Transformers property on this portion of East Main Street will become available on the market, and the authority might be interested in influencing the re-use of that property. The members asked Mr. Connors to provide each of them with an air photo of downtown Evansville with the boundaries of the new downtown TIF district superimposed for future reference.

Redevelopment Authority----October 2004:

New Business

Development Agreement with First Community Bank of Milton. Executive Director Connors discussed the history and the contents of the proposed agreement with First Community Bank of Milton, which he had negotiated and drafted with the bank’s attorney. There was extensive discussion among the commissioners about the merits of the agreement and the risk that the bank might not go forward with the project in a timely fashion. The commissioners asked Mr. Connors to provide agreements like this further in advance of meetings in the future, and he said he would do so. Motion by Ald. Kooyman, seconded by Ms. Ahner, to recommend to Council approval of development agreement between First Community Bank of Milton, the Authority, and the City of Evansville with the following change from Mr. Connors’ draft: the maximum value of improvements for purposes of determining the amount of payments to the bank under the agreement is $2 million. Motion passed.

Redevelopment Authority--November 2004---

New Business

No new business was discussed.

Communications and Recommendations from the Executive Director

Executive Director Connors reviewed with the commissioners the budget in the project plan for Tax Incremental District No. 5. Mr. Connors emphasized that most of the tax increment was earmarked for “pay-as-you-go” assistance for large redevelopment projects (e.g., new condominium projects) that would generate more tax increment than they consume and infrastructure projects such as the Main Street reconstruction project. The commissioners asked Executive Director Connors to draft application forms and review procedures for future applications for assistance, and suggested that he or the applicant should attempt to obtain an estimate from the city assessor of the value increase the proposed project would produce.

Redevelopment Authority: October 2005

Mr. Decker said he has heard discussion of the possibility of locating the new senior center on the roller rink site at the northeast corner of Railroad St. and E. Main St. Mr. Connors said he and Mayor Ringhand are encouraging discussion of that concept as part of a private redevelopment of that site, including condominiums. The senior center could be located on the ground floor and lend the appearance of commercial space on the ground floor.

Marketwatch: Starbucks, McDonalds move to the spotlight

The buzz on Wall Street this morn is the replacement of the head of Starbucks, SBUX, and the return of the original founder. It seems that McDonalds, MCD, is ramping up its coffee entries and making a run at the very profitable coffee trade.

It seems to have started with the "Senior Bold" coffee entry introduced last year. I believe it was priced at .69 for seniors. And the "bold" was just what I needed. The coffee tasted good, which was surprising for a retail spot other than specialty shop.

Does this mean we may soon hear in McDonalds, that oft heard: "I'll have a half caf, double whipped cream, extra bold latte with a ........" I will go out on a big limb here and say ....."NO".

There you have it on the Observer. Bold market analysis. On big subjects of local interest.

It's a changing world. Let's stay awake for it. A little coffee, bold, is a good way to start.

Dateline Normal: "The Magic of the Uncontested Race"---FICTION

Click on the post for the latest from the land of Normal, Mn. A land of fiction....but other than that....

Monday, January 07, 2008

Three Up, Three to Go; Students on the job tomorrow

These are the first three solar electric panels for the EHS student construction home at 6th and Badger. Another three will go up tomorrow aided by students in the construction class.

These six panels will provide 1 kilowatt of energy, and provide one third of the electric usage of the home.

More on the details of costs tomorrow.