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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Right: Blogs: Nihlist in Golf Pants: "Earth Hour"

Click on the post for the latest from the "Nihlist" blog on the Earth Hour movement last night.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Schools Eliminate Reading.....and Math too"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest from the fictional land of Normal, Mn.

Yahoo: Finance: Rates going down for Banks; Up for purchasers of homes

30 Year Fixed 5.75% 5.62%
15 Year Fixed 5.27% 5.09%

The mortgage rates listed in Yahoo today present the bare bones of the problem. After the Federal Reserve rescuing Bear Stearns and many other financial entities through lower interest rates, the rate for mortgages for 15 and 30 year loans has gone up.

When new home buyers can purchase homes at affordable prices at affordable rates under traditional lending formulas, then the current economic situation will change. Looks to me like the situation is getting worse rather than better.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Electric Cars Come to Stoughton:: Ozee Cars Opens Dealership

Click on the post for the story in WKOW. The web address is www.ozeecars.com and the location is on Main Street in Stoughton right next to the Chamber of Commerce building aka the old train depot. Their telephone number is 608-873-6254. Stay tuned for some video of these cars.

Star Tribune: Bush Administration proposes New Financial Regulation

Click on the post for the latest.

Markets: Yahoo: Trash Talking and the "Uptick Rule"

Click on the post for an interesting video from Jim Cramer on the "UpTick Rule."

Right now on Wall Street we are seeing a pattern of bear investors taking positions in "Puts" and then trash talking the stocks down, creating a panic of sentiment and rumor, and then profiting from their positions in puts. In some ways, this the is the flip side of pundits that go on shows and tout their positive beliefs about a certain stock.

After the Crash of 1929, the federal government passed the "Uptick rule that allowed for a short or a put to be placed only after an uptick in price. This had the effect of reducing the piling on by speculators that occurs in a panic. This is one more rule that was removed some time back when times were good and when people forgot why they existed. We do need to bring back this rule. That is how I see it, and I was pleased to hear Cramer's analysis.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mailbag: Rep. Brett Davis writes Re; Frankenstein Veto

Voters to Decide Fate of Frankenstein Veto on April 1st

On April 1st voters will have an opportunity to restore some balance between our branches of state government. The constitution gives the legislature the power to write laws and the governor the power to approve or reject those proposals. This separation of powers is a cornerstone principle of a successful democracy and it must be preserved. Governing is about checks and balances; no single elected official should have the ability to re-write laws without any oversight. That’s why I have long-supported a proposal to amend the constitution to prohibit any governor from combining parts of different sentences to create new sentences.

I am a cosponsor of this constitutional amendment and will voting "YES" to the following question:

"QUESTION 1: Partial veto. Shall section 10(1)(c) of article V of the constitution be amended to prohibit the governor, in exercising his or her partial veto authority, from creating a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences of the enrolled bill?"

This amendment will end the so-called Frankenstein Veto, which is used to stitch together words from various, unrelated sentences to craft entirely new policy that was never approved by the legislature. This constitutional amendment was first considered by the legislature in 2005 because of the excessive use of this power. The Frankenstein Veto was used 139 times to transfer $427 million from the segregated transportation fund to the general fund. This was done by crossing out 752 words and forming individual, unrelated words into a new sentence that authorized this transfer.

The Frankenstein Veto was also used in the most recent budget. Numbers in the levy limits section of the budget were creatively used so the 2% levy limit turned into a 3.86% increase, almost twice what was originally agreed to. This Frankenstein Veto meant that property taxes in Wisconsin increased by an additional $41.4 million. No matter what party is in charge, this is too much power for one branch of government to wield when handling Wisconsin's finances.

This amendment has wide-spread, bi-partisan support and I am hopeful that Wisconsin voters will join in its approval. This isn’t the first time the legislature and Wisconsin voters acted to restrict the veto powers. Years ago Governor Tommy Thompson vetoed individual letters to create new words and new laws the legislature never intended. The legislature and the public swiftly responded by amending our constitution to stop what had become known as the Vanna White Veto. We need to do the same thing here with the Frankenstein Veto. Hopefully this good government reform will pass on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Union Town Board: Re: Janes Bakers Crossing

Specific review of all the concerns regarding plat approval by the Engineering firm, Combs and Associates.

MP3 File

Union Plan: 3-27-2008 Re: Janes Preliminary Plat

Discussion of Process under Union Ordinance re plat approval: Phasing of development for Bakers Crossing Estates by Robert Janes, 8739 Territorial Rd, Evansville. etc.

MP3 File

Union Planning: Wind Turbine Committee

Committee on Wind Turbine Ordinance will NOT meet on Saturday, March 29, 2008 at Village Square Restaurant . This meeting will be rescheduled. Stay tuned.

MP3 File

Union Plan Commission: Road Repair Motion #2

Second Motion on Long Term Repair of Hwy 59 by Doug Zweizig on 3-27-2008

MP3 File

Union Planning: 3-27-2008

Review of Hazardous road situation near gravel pit re Hwy 59: Recommendation to Town of Union Board

MP3 File

NYT: Homeowners who won't cut the price----

Click on the post for the latest.

Town Of Union Planning Commission Meets TONIGHT, March 27, 2008

Town of Union
March 27, 2008

The Town of Union Plan Commission will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, March 27, 2008
at the Eager Free Public Library, 39 W. Main Street, Evansville at 7:00 p.m. (use 1st Street
entrance; lower level meeting room). The topics of discussion and action will be:
I. Approve February 28, 2008 Plan Commission Minutes

II. Discussion, review and possible approval of preliminary plat map, development phasing
plan, zoning change from A1 to RR, and ROW dedication for Bakers Crossing
Estates/Robert Janes, 8739 N. Territorial Rd. Evansville.

III. Discussion of Large Wind Turbine Siting Regulating in Union Township. During the
current moratorium the Large Wind Turbine Citizens Committee has developed a
recommended ordinance to protect the public health and safety of residents. The Plan
Commission may make a recommendation for adoption to the Town Board at their
regularly scheduled April meeting.

NOTE: There may be a quorum of Town Board members present; however no Town Board business will
be discussed nor decisions related to such business made.
Requests from persons with disabilities who need assistance to participate in this meeting should be
made to the Clerk by calling 608-882-0285 prior to the meeting date.
Published March 19 & 26, 2008
Regina Ylvisaker, Clerk 608-882-0285

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yahoo; Treasury Secretary Paulson says new regulation needed for Financial Markets

Click on the post for the latest.

Public Works: 3-25-2008:Evansville, Wi: Lake Leota

Discussion of Lake Leota: Soil Borings, DNR application, possible refill etc.

MP3 File

Public Works: 3-25-2008: Snow Removal Costs

Discussion of Snow Removal Costs---equiment expense and payroll expense last year and this---costs have doubled. Proposal to lease two new snow plows for $50M per year within current budget.

MP3 File

Public Works: Westside Park Construction bids, revenue etc.

Discussion of what jobs are to be bid this summer and where the money will come from since Capstone Ridge has not paid the parkland dedication funds due because of slow construction sales.

MP3 File

Public Works: 3-25-2008: Waste Water Treatment Plant:

City Engineer Dave Sauer talks about the progress of examining the alternatives for design paramaters and costs of a new WWTF.

MP3 File

Audio: Public Works: 3-18-2008: Westside Water

Discussion of Stormwater Utility Formation Process: Draft with options to be presented in April. Discussion of

MP3 File

Public Works: 3-18-2008: Site Plan Reviews

Reviews of Fire Station and Senior Community Center Site ----Dave Sauer, City Administrator, Public Works Director and Public Works Committee

MP3 File

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Evansville Police Commission to Meet April 7, 2008; Process revision, candidates on agenda

Click on the post for the latest.

Public Works Meets TODAY: 6PM

Click on the post for the full agenda.

CapTimes: Bender: "Doyle and Dirty Air Politics"

Click on the post for a recent OpEd piece in the CapTimes.

"Above and Beyond Award"

Click on the post for this story from the Twin Cities. I wrote about this briefly at the time of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

When the bridge goes down, it is time to put down the cameras and step up to help. The Observer sends congrats.

OpEd: "The Night Clarice Called": or, On the Service of Fred Juergens

Some years ago, after the new Evansville Common Council had been put into action, it was a Friday night and I was not going out on the town---and right in the midst of a leisurely bath, I heard the commotion downstairs----the family was yelling that "Clarice is on the Phone.!!!!!"

"Clarice" was one of the classic bloggers of Evansville, and had strong opinions about a lot of things, and some of these, The Observeer even published. One of her favorite targets of comment in those early years, was Fred Juergens, who had been the leader of the anti-war referendum and thus was on the opposite side of the war issue from Clarice.

I just wondered what "Clarice" was unhappy about in The Observer this Friday night.

Then I heard her say:

"I was wrong about Fred. He is doing a wonderful job. And I wish more people in Evansville would step up and serve like he has. It would be a completely different town."

Then she went on about how grateful she was that he had spearheaded the renewal of the Franklin Street Park. She was amazed that he cared about it even though he was not a 4th Ward resident.

"Have you told Fred this?" I asked.

"I have left some messages," she said.

Later I mentioned to Fred that I was amazed that one of his blogger adversaries had been totally converted.

He just laughed and said that he was surprised and pleased and that there were a few others he needed to convert also.

In my lifetime I can count the number of people that have called me or pounded on my door telling me that they were wrong ....well....on one hand. It is an extremly small number. How about you?

She was right about Fred. And I join the late "Clarice" in congratulating Fred on his service to Evansville over the past two years. I have reviewed each and every page of minutes of meetings of Public Works, Park Board, and for a while Finance too, and in additon have viewed the big change in the Evansville web site, and it all adds up to remarkable service. Congrats, Fred.

Nostalgia: (April 2007): Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Cameras"--FICTION

Click on the post for an episode from the past.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn: "LifeSkills Curriculum Success"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest in a long running series of fictional sketches from the land of Normal, Mn., a land of FICTION, but other than that....

Is a Trucker's Strike Next?

Click on the post for the latest.

Bloomberg: "Commodities Drop......"

Click on the post for the latest.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

TwinCities Planet: Targeting of Hispanic community?

Click on the post for the latest.

NYT: OpEd; Krugman: "Partying Like It's 1929"

Click on the post for an analysis by Paul Krugman.

Pioneer Press: Twin Cities: More Schools make move to Weighted Grades

Click on the post for the story in the Pioneer Press today. The purpose of weighted grades is to provide a structural incentive for students to take difficult courses, rather than encourage students to take easy courses and get A's. The quality of a students transript has always been equal to the difficulty of the courses taken for top tier colleges. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mailbag: Jim Writes re: Wind Turbine Siting

On Thurs. March 13th the Public Service Commission granted eminent domain to a Pipeline LLC. Maybe this is the fair way to site turbines. A onetime payment of $1000.00 for ¼ acre of land required for each turbine. That payment would be good for the entire 30 year life of the project. This makes it equal for the participating and nonparticipating landowners. We will all be doing are part to be green. The wind developers will pick and choose the prime locations for turbines and the Public Service Commission will take the land for them. Under this arrangement I wonder how many farmers will be standing at the end of their driveway with open arms. Or will they be standing there with a shotgun when the wind developers start to prowl the back roads of the Towns.

It takes a person with the highest level of integrity to put the concerns and needs of the community and their neighbors ahead of their own personal financial gain. How many people like this do we have in Rock Co.? In Wisconsin?

Jim Bembinster

Town of Union

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Soybean Story

Click on the post for the latest from yesterday in the soybean market. Has a top been made in the price for soybeans? Has the craze in funds buying commodities contracts peaked?

For Evansville that had dreams of the soybean plant at the edge of town, this is not an academic question, but one with real consequences. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Redevelopment meets: Approves project for 16 West Main

Click on the post for the minutes.

Public Works: DOT: Gary Sassman Speaks

Gary Sassman is the project manager for the HWY 59 road project in Evansivlle beginning this summer. He explains the project in a nutshell.

Download File


AWARE: Julie Hermanson announces Easter Program---still time to donate.

Download File

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Observer Welcomes Visitors

A Warm Welcome to all of you across America that are visiting Evansville Wisconsin, and The Evanville Observer. Click on the post to see where everyone is coming from.


Mailbag; Zell Writes: 5 Year Anniversary Iraq War: Vigil Tonight

On March 19th, tens of thousands of people across the country will gather to observe the fifth anniversary of the war with candlelight vigils. We'll commemorate the sacrifices too many families have made, and the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq that could have been better invested at home..

Join us at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, March 19th. Honor the sacrifice. Change our priorities. Bring the troops home.

You can sign up for the New Priorities Vigil I'm hosting, or to host your own, at:

Here are the details of my vigil:
War Was Never the Answer: Candlelight Vigil
Near the cannon in Leota Park
Leota Park along Madison St. just off Hwy 14
Evansville, WI 53536
Wednesday, 19 Mar 2008, 7:00 PM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

OpEd: Reflections on Bears; On Bear Stearns; On Bear Markets

Yesterday, after listening to the Bloomberg News channel since 5am or so, I had turned the T.V. to "mute" so I could just see the breaking news on the bottom rather than listen to the spin by the pundits. It is a lot quieter that way.

Soon after the markets opened, I saw President Bush speaking, a little stressed it looked like, and after watching him for a while, I tried to guess what he was saying. It looked like he was mouthing that "There really are WMD in Iraq." Or maybe "We are really victorius in Iraq." or maybe that 'I am a compassionate conservative."

What a disappointment to turn on the sound and hear the actual words: "Trust me, the economy is sound. Our markets are resiliant. These are tough times....."

I did recall that these were almost the exact words that Herbert Hoover had mouthed in 1929.

The markets plunged right after President Bush had got done speaking. Nothing could be worse that a President trying to inspire confidence when his approval rating is historically low.

The markets are a matter of FAITH. A confidence Game. Always have been. Bankers rely on their counterparts to ensure that when there is a peak of outflow they can sustain it. No one bank alone has the cash on hand to do so; In fact, cash is probably less than 1% of assets. This is why when the faith of the investment community left Bear Stearns, they sold for $2 per share----the plunge in value is simply stunning for those involved.

The "Big boys" at Bear Stearns walked away with their bonuses from January. The regular employees walked away with nothing. At least bankruptcy would have been a little more equitable.

Now that the Federal Reserve has indicated it can intervene creatively, we will see whether it will intervene directly into the mortgage maket and specifically provide a remedy to homeowners who are in their homes and facing foreclosure. They have the power to do this. So far there has been rhetoric. Treasury Secretary Paulson opposes such a move. President Bush opposes such a move. Such a move may be necessary. Stay tuned.

If you click on the post, you can access the text from my recent book called "The Trader's Litle Black Book"---many of the essays in this book directly relate to the transition of Wall Street from traditional banking to securitization. Many of these essays are relevant to the current situation.

WSJ: Scenes from Columbus;

Nothing like a gangster movie on location to rev up the tourism----click on the post for the latest from Columbus, Wi..

Yahoo: Households face the Unthinkable: Budgeting

Click on the post for an interesting article in Yahoo.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Markets: Asian Markets Fall in Monday trade: Monday Wall Street Ahead--On one professor's theory

Click on the post for the story in Yahoo on the action of the Asian stock exchanges today.

The Federal Reserve acted today and lowered one rate and approved the sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan.

The Federal Reserve will also be meeting on Tuesday and is expected to lower rates at that meeting also. This brings up an interesting theory on the effect of fragmented "earnings announcements" for good and bad news and the effect of a fragmented sequence of "pre announcement" and subsequent "announcement." Many Wall Street firms do this.

There was a research paper by a professor at Notre Dame that I will try to find on Monday, but in summary, for good times, when there is a pre announcement and announcement, the result is better and bigger of a market bounce. The problem. When there is bad news, the bounce down is bigger too. Hence the Observer rule-----When there is bad news, deliver it all at once.

Thus you can see the problem. The Federal Reserve acted today, and has a blank day between now and their normal meeting on Tuesday. We will just wait and see whether that professors theory holds true.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "SIT pipe" Enters Historic Registry----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Evansville Observer" begins XML podcast index of meeting audio and video

On the right side of The Observer you will note an XML box under the title Evansville Meetings. If you click the post or the XML button, you can see an index of audio and video of recent city meetings. A similar index is for Town of Union meetings.

Those of you that want to "subscribe" to the XML feed and get the audio and video automatically sent to your computer for a particular index can do so. Hopefully this is an additional way of hunting for audio/video from a meeting from the past. You can download it to your Ipod to listen to while you are working out at the gym. I love to put some rock and roll inbetween the meetings just for variety.

"Observer" welcomes "Cover to Cover" Blog by Stacy Vogel of Gazette

How timely....just when a local school, Edergton Middle School, is considering dropping reading, Stacy Vogel begins her blog "Cover to Cover"------Click on the post for her first post.....on the book "Atonement."

The Observer salutes Stacy on this beginning and will be featuring her blog in a special "Book" section. After all, the love of books and learning has to be a regular part of our lives and not just a period exercise done in an institution. If you have a book review that you would like to submit to the Evansville Observer, send it to fre2observe@yahoo.com

Mailbag; OpEd: "Bear Trader" Writes; On Friday Markets

(Ed.note: The following is an email from last week. It is not intended as investment advice.)

"The Fed has put $1 Trillion into the money center banks and it hasn't been enough to keep them afloat. Bear Stearns went down 47% Friday. The torrent of cash has functionally nationalized the 31 primary dealers, the biggest investment banks. No end in sight. Clinton getting rid of Glass-Steagall and the Greenspan Fed has caused disaster. Barney Frank is pushing for a bill to allow the Big Boys to lie on their balance sheets. The Fed bought $200 Billion of absolute garbage CDOs at full face value last week (there is a fig leaf that these are repos, as if they won't be rolled over "for as long as it takes") and still that is not nearly enough. The Fed has spent over half of it's assets on this so far and their spending has only increased in speed. The Fed will likely have to be recapitalized by summer. "

Gazette Corner: Wind Siting: Gina Asks the Question-----

Gina Duwe of the Janeslville Gazette has asked the correct question in the aftermath of the wind siting legislative battle last week. Who should decide?

In the articles on the effects of nightime noise on human health in The Evansville Observer, one author made the observation that it is amazing that when one asks who should decide issues of impact on human health, "physicians" are never considered the correct answer, but "politicians" are. Even a cursory review of the documents regarding wind turbine effects reveals scientific data that should be reviewed by scientists---maybe we should have a panel of three cardiologists decide whether there is an effect of sleep disturbance on heart health, and then throw in a pediatric specialist to decide whether it affects early learning and then a gerontologist to review effects on balance. A nice panel of 5.

Thanks Gina for asking the question. Click on the post for the article by Gina Duwe in the Janesville Gazette.

Who would you have decide? You make the call.

Global Warming Corner: Did the equation forget one factor?

Click on the post for the latest.

Oh no. What would happen to all theose carbon credits folks if this was so?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Evansville Municipal Court---February 2008

Click on the post for the Evansville Municipal Newspaper Court Report for February 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gazette: Wind Energy Bill Withdrawn

Gina Duwe has the scoop on the Wind Energy Bill and what happened to cause it's withdrawal. Click on the post.

Wash Post: " A Bailout for Everyone"

Click on the post for an interesting article. He predicts no recovery till 2009 and then a jobless recovery for two additional years.

OpEd: Memories of the Slam Jam; Appendix for politics and the Wind Turbine Issue

If you click on the post you can review one of my favorite things----the up tempo game of basketball and the "slam jam." Great in Basketball. Terrible in Facilities Planning. Terrible in Public Policy. Terrible in wind turbine siting.

Yesterday as the Legislative session wound down in Wisconsin, lobbyists and their high priced PR firms mounted a little "Up tempo game" themselves in the matter of the Wind Turbine siting bill, SB544. The political folks that are very sensitive to the needs of birds and give them a 2 mile setback ala Horicon Marsh, were more sensitive to money and the interests of the Manufacturers lobby group and barely mentioned the little matter of public health that has been well documented by the World Health Organization and others. Citizens simply asked for a setback that protected human health----ironically health was big on the programs that that same political party wanted to refinance state debt to preserve programs for---and were in the municipal bond market last week selling bonds at 10% in a desperate move to preserve programs at any cost-----the picture of rushing the SB544 was of someone who was mopping up the floor and refused to turn off the faucet and wondered what the problem was. Kudos to those who derailed this to allow proper vetting. Let the vetting begin.

The details will out, but the news from the Wisconsin State Journal on this story was incomplete and the Gazette which had covered the wind story last month was mysteriously silent. This might have been since some of the sources might have had two versions or more of what was going on.

Stay tuned.

WSJ: Wind Farm Bill Runs Out of Gas

Click on the post for the latest on the Wind Farm Bill.

Gazette: Budget Shortfall Update:

Click on the post for the latest from the Gazette.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gazette: Janesville Schools Face Enrollement Decline

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

Dateline Normal, Mn: "Porta Pottie Time"---FICTION---

Recently, while I was back visiting in my favorite fishing town, Normal, Mn., I got carried away during a visit to the Hideaway Lounge---yes it had been after a few drinks. It was one of those guy to guy banter sessions and we were trying to best each other.

I had simply said that we in Madison had made a tremendous advance in cultural progress---after all, the Wisconsin Badgers, which in 1970 could hardly win one football game, now won many and besides--- folks came from all over the country to the games. All of the news media...... or at least the Wisconsin Journal only covered the Badgers. That was how important they were------ and just to prove how successful we are, all of Regent Street is lined with Porta Potties on game day. What could be more successful than that?

I could tell in a heartbeat that my argument had gone too far. Herman was offended.

"Shucks Wolfman, (that's what he always called me) up here in Normal we are An All Porta Pottie Town---and have been for at least TEN years. "

I was stunned. How could the whole town just rely on Porta Potties. I had thought the Spruce Goose Motel was unusual with their outback porta potties. I never realized that it was citywide.

"Yup", Herman went on, "Years ago, we needed to restore the historic bait shop. It was a city historical treasure, and we also wanted to redredge our city marina---after all, we live by the fishing trade. At that time we also needed a new sewage treatment plant. The problem was that we only had debt capacity to cover two projects. The choice was real clear cut.

"Do you mean that you have a restored bait shop rather than a new sewage plant? "

"Yup", Herman replied.

"It is true that some folks who were offended by the trip to the porta potties in the dead of winter, were upset. Over time, they toughened up. Yes...... their swearing lessened. And the city made some compromises. They switched to softer Charmin in the public porta potties to make it more comfortable in cold weather."

I was just stunned. How could they have got themselves into such a terrible mess. And denied it besides.

I just got back in the car and headed back to good old Wisconsin. Where we face our porta pottie problems head on. Where we could also switch to porta potties just as Normal did. And besides. We don't need no Softer Charmin. We are tough enough here to handle the regular brand.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Why Debt Comes First"---Fiction

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Herman explains how school financing works; Explains how recycling the housing stock is code words for something profound---and devastating for seniors

MP3 File

Value Investing

Memories of Don Sheehan, Dale Carnegie Salesman and trainer; On what things are worth, and much, much more.

MP3 File

"Sleepless Nights"----the poem

Ed.note: I found this short note wrapped up in a used Starbucks extra bold coffee cup lying in the gutter near the Wind Prairie. I have reproduced it without alteration.)

over you
It must be
I just

losing sleep
over you
It Must
30 years have passed
I knew
It must

My heart
is breaking
It must be
Night after
dreaming of
My heart is

My Wife
about you....
loss and
It can't
be you
It must
be the
wind turbine
next door

Finance: Nostalgia: Ehlers and Associates Discusses Evansville GO Debt Capacity (at 6.29)

Discussion of TID#6, TID 8, Financing of Fire Station and GO promissory notes for Post Office Acquisiton

MP3 File

School Beat; Gazette Corner: Jerry Roth Proposes to Cut Reading in Edgerton Middle Schools

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

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mailbag: Brett Davis Writes: On Health Care Transparency; Costs

(Ed.note: This is a portion of an email update of Rep. Brett Davis. It touches on an issue discussed previously in the blog.)

Another important way to keep health care costs down is increased health care transparency through full disclosure of the cost of procedures and treatments. Under current law, a patient who wants to know how much a procedure costs has no ability to ask or receive an answer. We passed Assembly Bill 872 in the Assembly requiring health care providers to present a cost estimate to any patient that requests it. Full disclosure of health care costs will enable patients and families to make better informed decisions and promote competition between health care providers, helping to drive down costs.

Wind Corner: Union Wind Turbine Siting Attracts Attention

Click on the post for one of many web sites covering the discussion in the Town of Union.

Council Corner: Evansville Moves to Increase Capital Budget for Madison Street Work this summer

(Ed.note: This is the resolution on the docket for tomorrow nights Common Council meeting.)


A Resolution Approving
Amendments to the 2008 Capital Budget

WHEREAS, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to repave TH 59 (Madison Street) this summer;

WHEREAS, in anticipation of this project, the City has budgeted for the resurfacing of Madison Street and the realignment of the Madison and Water Streets;

WHEREAS, in anticipation of this project, the City has budgeted for water main improvements under Madison Street prior to the resurfacing;

WHEREAS, at its November 2007 meeting, the Water & Light Committee voted to extend the water main improvements further than originally planned;

WHEREAS, the Public Works Superintendent wishes to construct sanitary sewer force main and lift station improvements prior to the resurfacing;

WHEREAS, the City has submitted its Intent to Apply to the Clean Water Fund in anticipation of this project ;and

WHEREAS, the Finance & Labor Relations Committee has considered the budget amendments and has recommended approval of the budget amendments herein;

NOW THEREFORE, be it hereby resolved by the Common Council of the City of Evansville to amend the capital budget for the year ending December 31, 2008, as follows:
1. Increase funding from $175,000 to $425,000 for GL Account #C830 S. Madison Water, listing Borrowing as the funding source.
2. Fund $120,000 for Madison Sewer Force Main as GL Account #C841, listing Borrowing as the funding source.

Passed by roll call vote this 11th day of March, 2008.


By: ___________________________________
Sandra J. Decker, Mayor

Attest: _________________________________ Judy L. Walton, City Clerk

Introduced: 3/11/08
Adopted: xx/xx/xx
Published: xx/xx/xx

Drafted on 3/3/08 by Dan Wietecha, City Administrator

CapTimes: WisOpinion: Erpenbach updates on "Healthy Wisconsin Plan"

click on the post for Sen. Erpenbach's remarks on the legislation that may become law next session.

School Beat; Evansville School Board Meets Tonight: Open Enrollment: Life Skills; Half Day at 19 for next year

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Evasnville Common Council Meets Tuesday: New Finance Director Named

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Bloomberg News: Municipal Bond Market in Turmoil; Costs to Cities Rising

Municipal bond rates have doubled in a month. The Cost for tax exempt floating rate bonds has skyrocketed. As I noted in an earlier post, some bonds have gone for 17% and one of the most popular last week was some Wisconsin agency bonds for 10%.

Click on the post for the analysis of Bloomberg news on the bond situation.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dick Morris to Hillary: "It's Over"----

Click on the post for the article by Dick Morris today.

Mailbag: Jim Writes: Re Wind Turbine Siting--SB 544; AB899

Comments on SB 544 and AB 899. After sitting through 15 Hr. of testimony there are a couple of things that never came up. The energy co’s, the PSC, environmentalists, and wind developers were well represented at both hearings. Not one of these groups gave any testimony on capacity factor or actual production. The reason is they are embarrassed. One of the developers stated they expected to achieve a 33% to 35% capacity factor. I can tell you this would be wind power generation in HEAVEN not in Wisconsin. The Glenmore facility has never gotten out of the low 20% for production.
The Glenmore wind facility near Green Bay, WI. Was the flag ship for WI. Gov. Thompson cut the ribbon the turbines spun up and we were living life large in WI. The first thing that happened was excessive noise from the blades. The developer had to install vortex destroyers on the blades to quiet them down. The developers that are again working that area are offering good neighbor contracts to people 1 mile from the proposed area. What does that tell you?

The other interesting thing was no one asked the question why would anyone want to force people to have a turbine 1000’ from their home? The answer is simple. They need to tap into the transmission lines. The transmission lines are put in to provide power to developments and are upgraded for people who are already there. The developers are not willing to spend one nickel of their own money for these lines so they must put the turbines in close to people. There is no Gov. fluff to compensate them. If you drive out in the country and look around you would see that there is a lot of places that could accommodate turbines and not bother anyone.

If the state lawmakers want to do something for wind development they should scrap AB 899 / SB 544 in favor of something that will pay or at least subsidize the construction of the transmission lines needed to get the power back to the power grid. They should not become the over protective mother for the wind developers. The developers caused this problem and the state should make them go back to the Towns and make it right.

The developers condescending and rude remarks about Towns not being able to figure out this complex issue is crazy. It does show the level of arrogance and disrespect that they take with them when they do finally show up at a Town meeting. They just can’t figure out why they are not greeted with open arms. Then they run to Madison and say Sen. Plale and Rep. Montgomery, the Towns won’t let us do what we want so you make them do it.

4:30 PM

Mailbag: Re; OpEd: Wind Turbine; Tom Alisankus Writes:

The following is in response to your Op Ed re: Wind Turbines.

When the wind energy proponents realized that the proposed Union Twsp. large wind turbine ordinance was supported by unimpeachable scientific and medical research--and thus completely defensible in court--they took their well financed lobby to the Wisconsin Legislature to stop us. They realized that our ordinance--the product of hundreds of hours of hard work--would likely become the REAL 'model' ordinance for local communities around the state, which would mean that the wind companies would not be able to put these turbines where ever they wanted, thus losing thousands of dollars. And you've already detailed the rest. Funny how fast the Legislature can move when it wants to.

This is government at its worst. It highlights how morally bankrupt some of our representatives in government actually are. And it all has to do with money. In other facets of society, they have a name for people who trade something immoral for money.

Markets: Mortgage Loan Rates Up Last Week

(Ed.note--this is from Yahoo Finance.)

Loan Type Today Last Week
30 Year Fixed 6.09% 5.80%
15 Year Fixed 5.49% 5.16%
1 Year ARM 4.69% 4.59%

It is hard to follow the reason why the 15 year mortgage rate would rise .33 over last week, when the Fed is infusing large amounts of money into the banking system---their efforts have certainly not resulted in any effect on mortgage applications that I can see. One pundit last week said that this was because banks were scared of solvency issues, and with the problems of unemployment, consumer credit and foreclosure, banks may be unsure of the real risks to their current portfolio. In an illiquid market, when homeowners cannot move to other areas to take jobs when their circumstances change, personal loss results in banking loss as well. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Yahoo: Markets: JPMorgan: Banks face 325 Billion Margin Call

Click on the post for the latest.

Energy Corner; "The Wheel of Misfortune"--- Citizen Alert SB544

On January 31, 2008, when the Town of Union Planning Commission met to receive the Wind Turbine study group report, which detailed the draft ordinance recommendation as well as the research support, citizens were shocked to hear that the State of Wisconsin had no supporting documentation behind the standards they had formulated for wind turbine setback in Wisconsin. The video of this presentation by Tom Alisankus has been literally seen around the world, and you can click on the sitemeter of The Evansville Observer to see the countries that have come to see it. In addition, the video is on U-Tube and other organizations have linked to it.

In response to the awareness of the safety hazards of improper siting of wind turbines----an issue that is distinctly different from opposition to wind energy and it is important to note that many if not most of the concerned citizens about siting requirements are not against wind energy, but rather are for public health.----the response of the state occurred last week in a quick time move to introduce Bill SB544 to bypass the siting authority of towns in Wisconsin and put it in the hands of the Public Service Commission.

The old television program "Wheel of Fortune" has been replaced with the "Wheel of Misfortune" and the beginning spokes of the wheel are disregard for public input, disregard for scientific research on the subject and Lobbyist run decision making. Regardless of your ideological position on the issue of wind energy, and even if our country is desperate for alternative solutions, you may need to click on the post and review the recent happenings regarding SB544 and make your voice heard.

Classic Soucheray: "Dumb Clucks Coming to the Midway"

The Midway of St. Paul is the centerpoint of the new rail corridor between Mpls and St.Paul, that has been talked and dreamed of since 1970 or so. The notion of raising chickens midst the high density Midway by an organization called "Eco-Education" is a real story and not fiction, and the response by the City of St.Paul to allow this unless there are complaints is not to be considered a role model for my dear readers. Yes. I know we have many unused chicken coops in our fair city, and I know that at $1.75 per dozen eggs, with the prospect of it hitting $10 at the current rate of inflation the idea of every home having a chicken coop is attrative to some---relax.....I am not suggesting it.

Click on the post for the full story in the Pioneer Press.

WSJ: When the Guards become thieves

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: " Grumps" votes for clock on Nathan's blog

(Ed.note: The Observer is open to suggestions for the cover of the upcoming Evansville Book of Minutes 2008. Any other clocks out there?)

Friday, March 07, 2008

OpEd: State Wind Process: Role Model for Open Govt?

If you click on the post you can listen in as the Town of Union Board discuss the current situation of the Wind Turbine draft ordinance and the possible options for moving to enactment in consideration of the possiblity of the State of Wisconsin moving to make the Public Utility Commission the key entity in reviewing permits.

The irony----as you will recall the study committee had found in its research that the State of Wisconsin had literally conducted zero legislative inquiry into the health and safety effects of set backs of wind turbines despite the fact that the WHO and the world community had plentiful data on these matters.

Responding to that egg on the face, the state moved quickly last week in meetings that were called on short notice and as described by Kendell Schneider, Town of Union board chair, the lobby representatives were given ample time to speak and then with the time expiring in the open hearings, the public was given a few minutes---most left unheard and in disgust.

The conclusion made by the folks from Union who had endured the week of meetings----why would the towns bend over backwards to give extensive public input, when the State acts in such disregard.

At the end of the day nobody gets it. The problem was that in haste errors were made. Now to compound the error, more haste and closed decision making is embraced by the state....and now possibly by the towns.

How will these matters all be decided? By the PUC over a three martini lunch?

You make the call.

Mailbag: Minyanville Bear Trader writes: Answers question of Observer on when to wear Rally Caps-----

(Ed.note: This is a sample of sentiment of investors that have written the Observer and is not intended in any way to be investment advice. Writer is a bear. The charts referred to were not able to be converted to Blog format.)

"Here is the spreadsheet I mentioned where the SP500 is corrected for inflation. Look at chart #1. The inflation calculation is the pre-1980 CPI algorithm. Notice that inflation (chart#2) using the pre-1980 CPI calculation is much higher than the current index. Also notice that the SP500 has been nearly flat for years. The peak in the 1990's was caused by the "dot.com" bubble, which in turn was caused by reckless Federal Reserve activity. Notice that there has been no real return on the SP500 since 2003 and that the current SP500, adjusted for inflation, is the same as it was in 1987.

Corrected for inflation the SP500 doubled from 1982 to 1996, 14 years, for an annual, after inflation, return of about 5.3%. Those were the days.

I've run some studies on the historic Treasury yield curve. They show Federal Reserve activity nicely. What a mess. They really could not have done more damage. The middle class was being destroyed and no one seemed to notice.

The greatest stability with reasonable inflation happens at about 50 - 100 basis points between the 3 month T Bill and the 10 year T Bond. Recently , Dec '04, the yield curve went inverted (Bernanke trying to defuse Greenspan's time bomb), and stayed inverted into 2006, marking the beginning of the credit "crisis". Borrowing short term to service long term obligations stopped being a gusher of money and went into the red. This is what killed the banks. Well, stupidity, greed, vanity, etc. of course, too, and an utterly incompetent voting public (stupidity, greed, vanity, etc.) . As far as when to be bullish in the market, the BKX going up along with Google has been working since the January lows. Banks plus high beta stocks, essentially. The big turn around in stocks is very much unknown, but it could be really low if the foreigners pull out for real. They are definately thinking about it. The only places to put money are pretty poor worldwide though."

Minutes; Finance: March 6, 2006

Click on the post for the minutes for the meeting last night.

Jeff's Corner: Homeowner, Taxpayer Alert

Jeff has the latest on a bill that threatens a citizens ability to petition on a level footing for a tax assessment review. Click on the post.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Union Town Board; 3-6-2008

Sand Ticket Incident: Provisions for sand for citizens discussed

MP3 File

Union Town Board; 3-6-2008:

Wind Turbine Process Discussion: Public Hearing timing; consultation; etc.

MP3 File

Union Town Board: 3-6-2008

Snow Removal Issues: Possible Changes

MP3 File

Union Town Board:3-6-3008

March Building Permit Report 3-06-2008

MP3 File

Evansville: Public Safety Meets Monday, Mar. 10, 2008; Tavern; Liquor Store on Agenda

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Law Corner: "The Move Over Law"

Readers may or may not know of this law. It is important to know that the fine for it is hefty. Click on the post for the details.

Markets: Municipal Bond Rates Skyrocket

Schools, Cities, and States finance their capital expenditures through municipal bonds----and the yield for these bonds for investors, or cost to the taxpayer on the other side, has skyrocketed in the past month. In January 2008, the average rate was 3.63 and the rate today is 6.52. Pretty stunning. Then there is the fact that many of the bonds are not even bid for---no firm wants to take the risk of the time between buying the bonds and marketing them to individual investors.

Click on the post for the look at the highest yielding muni bonds for yesterday. The Wisconsin State revenue bond catches ones eye at about 10% yield----and there were lots of buyers.

So. If one was a city and had lots of dreams of financing projects----dream on.

St.Paul: Pioneer Press: Soucheray: Preparations Underway for RNC in St. Paul

Click on the post as Soucheray speculates on the upcoming Republican National Convention. Will the Evansville Observer get a press pass? Stay tuned.

yahoo: Business: Subprime analysis

Subprime mortgage marketing was a marketing targeted to minorities---and they are bearing the brunt of the consequences. Click on the post for the article in Yahoo.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Nostalgia; Economic Development; September 19,2006; Otterstein suggests Merger into a single entity



Tuesday, September 19, 2006
6:00 p.m.

1. Roll call. The meeting was called to order by chair Wyse at 6:05 p.m. Present: Gene Bass, Roger Berg, John Decker, Fred Juergens, James Otterstein, Tony Wyse. Absent: Cheryl Dickert, Dave Olsen. Also present: Becky Heimerl, John Morning, Mayor Sandy Decker.

2. Approval of agenda. Juergens moved, seconded by Berg, to approve the agenda as distributed. Approved by voice vote.

3. Approval of minutes of August 15 meeting. Deferred.

4. Citizen appearances, other than on items listed below. None.

5. Presentation by Chamber of Commerce. Becky Heimerl and John Morning appeared on behalf of the Evansville Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber's Board of Directors has noted that several neighboring communities have identified a "go to" person who responds to inquiries of potential new businesses or industries. Evansville does not have such an individual, at least on any kind of formal basis. The Chamber is concerned that potential new businesses may be "lost" to other communities unless Evansville hires an "economic development czar."

Discussion ensued as to pending efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, the Evansville Community Partnership and the Economic Development Committee to coordinate activities in areas of mutual interest or concern. Several participants in the discussion suggested that ECP's interests were of a broader nature than those of the C of C and the EDC, and that the latter two entities were most appropriate for sponsorship of an economic development coordination function.

Mr. Otterstein pointed to Milton's recent resolution of its coordination issues: three of its community organizations, including its tourism board and chamber of commerce merged into a single entity. He urged consideration of a similar merger in Evansville. Mr. Bass responded that all three of Evansville's entities are experiencing a resurgence of interest and activity, and that merger discussions at the present time are premature and potentially counterproductive. Ms. Heimerl observed that the ECP is having its annual planning retreat this coming Saturday, and that the topic of a better partnership with the Chamber and the EDC is on the agenda; the Chamber is also committed to its own similar examination.

Mr. Wyse asked for elaboration on the type of position the Chamber was suggesting. He noted the delay and difficulties inherent in creating a new position on the City payroll. Mr. Otterstein suggested the City could engage an independent contractor, rather than an employee, to serve as coordinator. Mayor Decker proposed that any employment or engagement decision await the hiring of a new city administrator; that search is now under way. Mr. Berg responded that time is of the essence in view of new industrial development activities, and that an economic development coordiator should be found as soon as possible.

Mr. Morning said that the Chamber Board hoped that the EDC would be able to work out a cooperative arrangement on the subject, and that the retention of existing businesses and recruitment of new businesses were central to the Chamber's mission. Mr. Juergens responded, saying that the EDC was eager to assist the Chamber, but that a better understanding of how the function is to be fulfilled would be helpful to the discussion.

Mr. Decker observed that the EDC would like to have a more-specific proposal from the Chamber. The Chamber may want to consider how an economic development coordinator position would mesh with the Chamber's other administrative functions.

Juergens moved, seconded by Decker, to request the Chamber of Commerce to produce a position description for Economic Development Coordinator, and bring it to the next EDC meeting with a proposed budget. Approved by voice vote.

6. Status of ECP, C of C and EDC Coordination efforts. Ms. Heimerl referenced ECP's planning retreat, and said the Chamber has a similar activity under discussion. The Chamber remains committed to a joint planning session, but concurs with ECP's approach of self-evaluation of each organization as a useful first step.

Twincities.com: Forest Lake; Mn School proposes broader background checks

click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag; Julie writes: Truthout: Beyond spin Obama has it by the numbers

Click on the post for the analysis.

Community Action Corner: "Brooklyn" coming to the Armory

March 5, 2008
Contact: J. Marc Perry
Director of Planning and Development
Office (608)755-2279

Community Action, Inc.
200 West Milwaukee Avenue
Janesville, WI 53548

Community Action, Inc. Hosts Midwest Premiere of Brooklyn at The Armory

JANESVILLE – On Saturday, May 17, 2008, Community Action, Inc. of Rock and Walworth Counties will be hosting its first ever dinner theatre fundraiser at The Armory in Janesville. The evening will feature a delicious dinner from The Armory’s elegant and diverse menu, the Midwest Premiere of the Broadway smash hit Brooklyn, a Cabaret Auction featuring the very talented cast, a chance to win a walk on role in a future Armory show and an opportunity to meet and interact with the cast. Seating begins at 6 PM.
This is the first time Brooklyn has ever been performed in the Midwest! From the heart of Brooklyn comes a band of street corner singers and story-tellers. For some spare change and a few moments of your time, they will shed their homeless skin, and before your very eyes, become larger than life characters where they discover the true meaning of family, fame and fate. With a mix of pop and soul, they set their stage and tell a wondrous sidewalk fairytale about a young girl searching for fame and the father she never knew.
Community Action is thrilled to partner with The Armory for this event. Originally built in 1930, The Armory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After several years of being vacant, the exterior was restored to retain its historical significance, and the interior combines modern d├ęcor and elegance with original elements making the Armory the area’s most exciting entertainment venue.
Please join us for this wonderfully unique event! Tickets are $100 each and are sold exclusively through Community Action. All proceeds will benefit Community Action programs in Rock and Walworth Counties. For more information, or if you wish to purchase tickets, please contact Jessica Amplo at (608) 755-2279 or jamplo@community-action.org.
Community Action is a 100% local, not-for-profit organization operating a broad spectrum of community programs aimed at preventing and reducing local poverty in Rock and Walworth Counties. They offer low cost childcare, at-risk youth programming, teen parent support, low cost or no cost healthcare, senior benefits counseling, homeownership programs, assistance in dealing with a housing crisis and food for area pantries. They also operate Twin Oaks Homeless Shelter in Walworth County which serves approximately 175 individuals every year.


Community Action is dedicated to empowering economically and socially disadvantaged members of our communities to strive for and reach their greatest potential, because when people succeed, our communities succeed. For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

School Beat; Minnesota considers fees for all day kindergarten

Click on the post for the story from Minnesota.

CNN: Age Gap shows up in Exit Polls

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette: Affordable Housing in the Spotlight

Click on the post for an article today in the Gazette.

Twincities.com: Mankato considers prevailing wage ordinance

Click on the post for the latest.

Yahoo: Markets; Bernanke Says Foreclosure Crisis to Continue

Click on the post for the full story in Yahoo today.

Chairman Ben Bernanke has urged banks to act boldly---and suggested that the banks write down the principal on some of their loans and suggested that recognizing the loss early would be better than later.....for everyone.

It is my guess that in the dialogue between Mr. Paulson of the Treasury and Mr. Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, Paulson has won the argument and "nothing" has been the action plan. The result of this policy has been the sharp sell off last week and the result will be a plunge in the price of homes since the Fed has signaled that they will talk the talk but will really do little. Bloomberg news even has used the term "forgive" loan principal-----"forgive" is not the normal word usage of bankers. Does not compute. Bernanke says that it does compute if they can look long term.

Click on the post for the story.

OpEd: Getting the Order of things Right

Economic Development Summit: The goal is to refine the objectives. 1)Workforce Development. 2)Downtown Revitalization. 3)Government Relations. 4)Marketing. 5)Entrepreneurial Environment."

This listing of the goals from the recent economc summit has a flaw. It is in the reverse order of priority. The keynote speaker of the conference was Terry Whipple and his speech was titled "Catch the Culture."

The rich environment for economic development is marked by openess to the new, by a tolerance of young, and yes flawed ideas that are being shaped and perfected. The rich environment is not marked by closed, rigid process that blocks through restraint of trade or quid pro quo arrangements where there are certain entities that require that they receive all the profit from the arrangement or the idea will be denied development.

In summary; Where there is restraint of trade and impediments to free flow of ideas, there will never be a vital economic process. There may be the show or "facade", but never the real thing.

Wind Turbine Background; California Set Back Standards for Wind turbines

click on the post for the background documents.

Memories of the Mansion Hill Inn

This morning in the Wisconsin State Journal is an article about the sale of the Mansion Hill Inn from the Alexander Co to the Trek Bicycyle company. They will be renovating the Inn. See the Journal for the full story.

Click on the post for the picture of the Inn. It has a special spot in my memory because it was right across from my apartment during college and the picture is the view that I had each morning as I went off to class.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dateline Normal: "Pres Bush Did not have 4K"----FICTION

(Ed.note: Click on the post for the full article in the Janesville Gazette.)

Recently I read in the local paper that Janesville is going to implement 4K beginning with the next school year, and will be having these at private sites--17 of them to be exact.

In the article, they note that;

" The fact that so many children were not ready for school at age 5 was a major argument that led to school-board approval of the new program.

Officials believe that when parents can’t afford to give their children a quality preschool experience, those children fall behind, and many never catch up, leading to behavior problems, truancy and other problems during their school years and poverty, crime and other social ills when they reach adulthood.

Some say quality preschool for all could be key in removing the student achievement gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

However, both “haves” and “have-nots” are welcome to join P4J."

I just did not know what to make of all this. It is right in the middle of the political season, and there is a record low of truth per column inch in the newspapers, and for that matter one gets so many robo calls from candidates who do not even let me interject a question that one just does not know what to think of it all. So....I just picked up my cell phone and called Herman, my friendly countryboy lawyer in Normal,Mn., a small fishing village just south of Garrison, and west of Lake Woebegone.

I got right to the point with Herman: "Herman, what do you make of all the 4K stuff. What do you folks do up in Normal, Mn.?"

"Shucks, Wolfman( that's what he always called me) years ago we had a kid who was a little unprepared for kindergarden and just could not handle a green crayon for the life of him. It was real serious. It is real important to have play based instruction that can prevent criminality in the later years. So----We have "the works" up here in Normal---4k,3k,2k---. And you can really see the difference. Why look at all those politicians like President Bush and VP Chaney----those guys would have been "on the level" if they had been on a level playing field in 4K. It really could have been the difference. One of the first things the kids learn in 4K is that when you are attacked by one kid, you do not hit another. It is real simple. Clearly Bush never learned it and thus he goes and starts the Iraq War. See. 4K. It could have been a real moral compass so to speak."

I admit. This was a hard argument to beat. I still wondered about the costs.

"Where do you get all the space for the program up there?"

"Shucks, Wolfman, it is no problem. We have such a wonderful program that folks simply converted old gas stations into daycare centers. Works real neat. Ya just open the doors when they go out to play. "

"But what about the crime,?" I asked.

"Herman replied, "Shucks, crime is virtually non-existant up here. Well. Besides, with the shortage of funds, we did have to eliminate the police force. It sure works wonders though. The chart for arrests just plunged....just like they predicted."

"Thanks, Herman."

Well it sure is good to be back home. Where we are good with the green crayola. Where we have gas stations and not convert em into daycare centers. And where everyone knows just after birth that when you are attacked by A one does not attack B. I wonder though whether 4K could have been the difference for Pres. Bush. With Cheney, I know that if you have an irregular heart beat, it might cause irregular thinking so 4K might not have helped. Still. I wonder.

Yahoo: Markets; United Tech makes offer for Diebold

Diebold, the infamous company that makes the voting machines that are the center of the controversy about the recent presidential elections, and featured in the movie "Hacking Democracy" which is available at the Eager Library, has been offered to be bought out by United Tech.

Those same voting machines will be also featured tomorrow night in Ohio. If there is a large discrepancy between the exit polls and the final votes, the knee jerk reaction will not be blaming the networks for shoddy work, but rather there might just be some review of the counters that count backward sometimes.

click on the post for the full story.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wind Turbine: Phd dissertation: GP VandenBerg; "Sound of High Winds"

This PhD thesis addresses the effect of atmospheric stability on wind turbine sound, or more directly, the way wind turbine sound at night travels and the new model that may be necessary to correctly describe it.

Click on the post for the dissertation.

Wind Turbines: World Health Organzation: Guidelines on Noise; Research Recommendations

Click on the post for the WHO site that has the documentation on research recommendations.

Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise by Nina Pierpont, MD.

(Ed.note: I have published without editing this article that was included in the Union Wind Turbine Study Committee. In this article she recommends 1.5 miles as the distance from residential as the proper distance.)

Pierpont 3/2/06 page 1
Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise
Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD
March 2, 2006

Industrial wind turbines produce significant amounts of audible and low-frequency noise. Dr. Oguz A. Soysal, Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of Physics and Engineering at Frostburg State University in Maryland, measured sound levels over half a mile away from the Meyersdale, PA, 20-turbine wind farm. Typical audible (A-weighted) dB (decibel) levels were in the 50-60 range, and audible plus low-frequency (C-weighted) dB were in the 65-70 range.1 65-70 dB is the loudness of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, or hair dryer.2 A difference of 10 dB between A and C weighting represents a significant amount of low-frequency sound by World Health Organization standards.3

The noise produced by wind turbines has a thumping, pulsing character, especially at night, when it is more audible. The noise is louder at night because of the contrast between the still, cool air at ground level and the steady stream of wind at the level of the turbine hubs.4 This nighttime noise travels a long distance. It has been documented to be disturbing to residents 1.2 miles away from wind turbines in regular rolling terrain,5 and 1.5 miles away in Appalachian valleys.6

At night, the WHO recommends, the level of continuous noise at the outside a dwelling should be 45 dB or less, and inside, 30 dB or less. These thresholds should be even lower if there is a significant low-frequency component to the sound, they add – as there is for wind turbines. Higher levels of noise disturb sleep and produce a host of effects on health, well-being, and productivity.7

The decibel is logarithmic. Increasing the dB level by 10 multiplies the sound pressure level by 10. Increasing the dB level by 20 multiplies the sound pressure level by 100 (and 30 dB multiplies by 1000, etc.). Thus the 65 dB measured day and night half a mile from the Meyersdale wind farm has a measured intensity 100 times greater than the loudest continuous outdoor nighttime noise (45 dB) recommended by the WHO.

Typical ordinances proposed or passed for NY State communities considering industrial wind turbines allow A-weighted noise levels of 50 dB and construction of turbines only 1000 ft. from dwellings. These ordinances meet neither WHO nor NYS DEC standards, especially compared to the very low ambient noise levels (with dB levels typically in the 20’s) in rural NY.8

The health effects of excessive community noise are carefully documented in the WHO report with reference to scientific and medical literature. Effects relevant to wind turbines, in terms of dB levels and noise type, are paraphrased and summarized from this report:

• For people to understand each other easily when talking, environmental noise levels should be 35 dB or less. For vulnerable groups (hearing impaired, elderly, children in the process of reading and language acquisition, and foreign language speakers) even lower background levels are needed. When noise interferes with speech comprehension, problems with concentration, fatigue, uncertainty and lack of
1 Soysal, OA. 2005. Acoustic Noise Generated by Wind Turbines. Presented to the Lycoming County, PA Zoning Board 12/14/05. osoysal@frostburg.edu
2 www.lhh.org/noise/decibel.htm
3 World Health Organization, 1999. Guidelines for Community Noise. Ed. by Berglund B et al. Available at

4 van den Berg, FGP, 2005. “The beat is getting stronger: The effect of atmospheric stability on low frequency modulated sound of wind turbines.” Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration, and Active Control, 24(1):1-24.
5 van den Berg, FGP, 2003. “Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound.” Journal of Sound and Vibration 277:955-970.
6 Linda Cooper, Citizens for Responsible Windpower, “Activist Shares Wind Power Concerns,” The Pendleton Times, March 3, 2005, p. 4.
7 WHO, 1999. Guidelines for Community Noise.
8 NYS DEC, 2001. Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts.
Pierpont 3/2/06 page 2
self-confidence, irritation, misunderstandings, decreased work capacity, problems in human relations, and a number of stress reactions arise.9

• Wind turbine noise, as described above and experienced by many turbine neighbors, is easily within the decibel levels to disturb sleep. Effects of noise-induced sleep disturbance include fatigue, depressed mood or well-being, decreased performance, and increased use of sedatives or sleeping pills. Measured physiologic effects of noise during sleep are increased blood pressure and heart rate, changes in breathing pattern, and cardiac arrhythmias.10 Certain types of nighttime noise are especially bothersome, the authors note, including those which combine noise with vibration, those with low-frequency components, and sources in environments with low background noise.11 All three of these special considerations apply to industrial wind turbines in rural NY State. Children, the elderly, and people with preexisting illnesses, especially depression, are especially vulnerable to sleep disturbance.

• Noise has an adverse effect on performance over and above its effects on speech comprehension. The most strongly affected cognitive areas are reading, attention, problem solving, and memory. Children in school are adversely affected by noise, and it is the uncontrollability of noise, rather than its intensity, which is most critical. The effort to tune out the noise comes at the price of increased levels of stress hormones and elevation of resting blood pressure. The adverse effects are larger in children with lower school achievement.12

• What is commonly referred to as noise “annoyance” is in fact a range of negative emotions, documented in people exposed to community noise, including anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, helplessness, depression, anxiety, distraction, agitation, and exhaustion.13 Numerous reports from neighbors of new industrial wind turbine installations document these symptoms. The percentage of highly annoyed people in a population starts to increase at 42 dB, and the percentage of moderately annoyed at 37 dB.14

Low-frequency sound is also sensed as pressure in the ears. It modulates the loudness of regular audible frequencies, and is sensed as a feeling or vibration in the chest and throat.15 Neighbors of industrial wind turbines describe the distressing sensation of having to breathe in sync with the rhythmic thumps of the turbine blades, especially at night when trying to sleep.

The participants in noise studies are selected from the general population and are usually adults. Vulnerable groups of people are underrepresented. Vulnerable groups include people with decreased personal abilities (old, ill, or depressed people), people with particular diseases or medical problems, people (children) dealing with complex cognitive tasks such as reading acquisition, people who are blind or hearing impaired, fetuses, babies and young children, and the elderly. These people may be less able to cope with the impacts of noise exposure and at greater risk for harmful effects than is documented in studies. Attention needs to be paid to them when developing regulations and setback requirements for industrial wind turbines and other sources of annoying and debilitating noise.

Wind turbines also create moving visual disturbances, especially early and late in the day when the long shadows of moving blades sweep rhythmically over the landscape. That portion of the population which is susceptible to vertigo, unsteadiness, or motion sickness (including many children and a large proportion of the elderly) will be vulnerable to unsteadiness and nausea when subjected to this visual disturbance. People with seizure disorders are susceptible to triggering of seizures by the strobe effect of seeing the sun through the moving blades.
To protect the public health, it is critical that industrial wind turbines not be placed within a minimum of 1.5 miles of human dwellings (homes, hospitals, residential schools, nursing homes, prisons, etc.) or schools. In mountainous terrain the setback should be greater, especially in topography with long parallel ridges and valleys as in the Appalachians.

9 WHO, 1999. Guidelines for Community Noise, pp. 42-44.
10 Ibid, p. 44.
11 Ibid. p. 46
12 Ibid. pp. 49-50
13 Ibid. p. 50
14 Ibid. p. 51
15 Moller, H. and CS Pedersen. 2004. Hearing at low and infrasonic frequencies. Noise & Health 6 (23):37-57.

Background; Wind Turbine Study Report

Click on the post for several of the articles by Dr. Nina Pierpont who has authored several articles on the health effects of Wind Turbine Noise. Her articles are part of the 1000 pages of reference material that went into the Union Wind Turbine Study Report.

Audio: "Green Energy Blues " by Robert Hays

Classic Blues about Green Energy--turn it up loud.

MP3 File

CapTimes: Budget Cuts come to forefront

Click on the post for the story today in the Wisconsin State Journal.

One of the "cuts" proposed by Gov. Doyle is to "refinance" some governement debt and achieve a "cost saving". Seems like many homeowners have done that in the past few years and now have been painfully forced to see that that is an illusory cost saving indeed. Real cutting seems to be not on the table since the mantra of no taxes must be believed.

The other item, hospital taxes is interesting. The state would tax hospitals, so they could pass on this cost in their Medicaid formula and then get reimbursed by the Feds for 3/4th of the cost. State tax payers would save because Federal taxpayers would be paying instead.....oh, I forgot they may be the same person if one is in a tax paying category.

So---in summary---two bold cutting proposals on the table at the onset of the discussion.

Stay tuned. The Minnesota "gap" is a lot bigger, like a billion dollars. They also are having a difficulty facing it.