Evansville Water: The Movie: Part 1

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Video; Citizen speaks; Compliments Council on addressing the issue of Lake Leota; Urges the Council to Proceed with the dredging even if the Public votes against it.

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Nostalgia: Feb 2005: "To Clean out Ditch to Croft Road before any construction begins...."

Click on the post for some nostalgia from the past.

Yahoo: Finance; 20% of Americans mortgage inverted---headed for 40%--Prof Roubini

Click on the post for the latest from yahoo News.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

3 of 3 Video: Straight Talk on the Floodplain meeting of 10-29-2008----Complete Gavel to gavel audio on the Observer.

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Gazette; Evansville Dredging Contract attracts many bidders

click on the post for the latest from Gina Duwe of the Gazette.
Video: Straight Talk on Floodplains--2 of 3 video: 10-29-2008

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Citizens: "We're in an Earthquake Here......"

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Gazette; Gazette announces cutbacks

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette: Consumers cut back most in 28 Years----

Consumers are speaking with their wallets---or the lack of what is inside: What's in your wallet? Stay tuned.

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Audio;2008: 'Straight Talk About the Flood Plain"---1 1/2 hours gavel to gavel audio: Concerned Citizens pack meeting.

Gavel to Gavel Audio coverage of meeting----the purpose of the meeting was to explain the mapping process for Westside residents ---and to explain flood insurance etc. etc. Packed meeting of very concerned citizens who have faced bill bills for insurance and repair.....selected video tomorrow.

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Video: AWARE: The Love Lite Tree---How it works

AWARE: 10-29-2008: Julie Hermanson Explains how the LoveLite tree works

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2008 Love Light Tree

AWARE is holding its 11th annual Love Light Tree campaign. The Love Light Tree honors and remembers the special people who have touched our lives.
For a $10 donation, you can purchase a white light in memory of a loved one you have lost or a colored light in honor of a special living friend or relative. Donations are tax-deductible and will be accepted through December 31st.

However, donations received before Friday, December 5th will be recognized that night at the official Love Light ceremony at 6PM at City Hall. It’s truly breathtaking when the switch is flipped and the tree comes to life for the holiday season. The names are then read of all the people who are being honored through the Love Light donations.

If you have trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift for someone who is always hard to buy for, you needn’t worry any more. A donation to the Love Light Tree in this person’s name is an easy solution. The money raised from the Love Light Tree is used to support AWARE’s work here in the Evansville community. Please contact AWARE at 882-9900 or aware@community-action.org if you have any questions.

Video: AWARE; Snackpacker Program and Toys for Tots===Julie Explains

Video: Julie Hermanson, program manager for Aware speaks of the Snackpacker program as well as the Toys for Tots program-------

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2008 Snackpacker Program and Toys for Evansville

Low-income families can still sign up for AWARE’s Snackpacker Program. The program provides backpacks filled with food and are sent home each weekend with children in Levi Leonard Elementary School and Theodore Robinson Middle School. The goal of this program is to make sure the children have nutritious food to eat throughout the weekend so that when they return to school on Monday morning, they are not distracted from hunger, but are ready to learn. Families may contact the AWARE office at 882-9900 or the school offices to obtain a registration form.

Low-income families are also encouraged to sign up for AWARE’s Toys for Evansville program. Participating families receive new toys, clothing, books, canned goods, and perishable items for their Christmas Dinner.

Registration forms are available at the AWARE office (209 So. First St.), the Evansville Ecumenical Care Closet, and the school offices. Completed forms are due back to AWARE by November 15th (preferably November 12th if possible).

On November 20th, ornaments listing either a toy or clothing wish for each child will be hung on trees throughout the community. Residents are encouraged to select an ornament, shop for the item listed and return it to the tree unwrapped and with the ornament attached. Many businesses will have ornaments available for their employees to choose from.

In addition, individuals can find ornaments at M&I Bank, Eager Free Public Library, Dave’s Ace Hardware, and R&A Heathing. The gifts are then due back to the trees by Monday, December 8th when they will be sorted. Distribution will be held Monday, Dec 15th from 4:30 to 6:30PM at the Grove Campus cafeteria.

We will update information regarding the Toys for Evansville program in a couple of weeks. Anyone with questions may contact AWARE at 882-9900 or aware@community-action.org.

Video: Julie Speaks: Koats For Kids Distribution THIS SATURDAY---NOV 1st---and Next Tuesday --Nov 4th

Video: 10-29-2008: Julie Hermanson of Aware, Inc, a division of Community Action. org speaks on Koats for Kids distribution this Saturday

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Koats for Kids

Distributions for Koats for Kids will be held Saturday, November 1st from 9AM to noon and Tuesday, November 4th from 2 to 5PM. Low income families in need of coats, boots, hats, and mittens may come to AWARE at 209 S. First Street to pick up these items. We also have a few blankets available for the distribution. Anyone with questions may contact AWARE at 882-9900 or aware@community-action.org. During the Koat for Kids distribution, families may also sign up for the Toys for Evansville program.

Yahoo: NYAG threatens banks if taxpayer bailout funds used for bonuses

Click on the post for the full article.

Yahoo: On Greenspan's "Shock"---Not just easy but no oversight---

click on the post for an interesting article.

Christian Science Monitor goes totally Web Based

Click on the post for the latest.

IMPORTANT MEETING-----:TONIGHT----" Straight Talk About Floodplains"---Wednesday, October 29, 2008---Evansville High School 6:30PM

(Ed.note: This is a section of the web site of the City of Evansville on this topic. Click on the post for the full agenda for the meeting.)

8. What is the City of Evansville doing about the new floodplains?

This webpage is just one piece of our public outreach efforts. Other obvious examples are having FIRM maps, FEMA technical bulletins, and other information available at City Hall and the Eager Free Public Library.

The City Administrator has written columns in mid July and in late August in the Evansville Review about the new maps and floodplain requirements.

In early October, we mailed a "Living in the Floodplain" brochure prepared by the Wisconsin DNR to residents and businesses with property in the floodplain. It presents a lot of the basic information in a straight-forward format. If you didn't receive a copy, we have extras available at City Hall.

We are hosting a "Straight Talk About Floodplains" public meeting on Wednesday, October 29. We're working with the DNR on this one, so it will be your chance to ask the experts in person. The meeting is at 6:30 pm at the Evansville High School.

The City is preparing an application to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS). After approval in CRS, the City will earn credit for its effort at 1) Public Information, 2) Mapping and Regulation, 3) Flood Damage Reduction, and 4) Flood Preparedness. Aside from the obvious benefit of preventing or reducing property damage due to floods, the CRS credit will translate into a 5-10% reduction in NFIP flood insurance premiums for properties in Evansville.

The developer of Westfield Meadows has submitted an application for a letter of map revision (LOMR) for its development. Since this is much larger than just an individual house, the developer had to conduct a hydraulic study of the drainage ditch. What this comes down to is that after FEMA presumably approves the application, the Zone A designation will be changed to Zone AE. In the meantime, the City has the un-official numbers and can provide them to neighboring properties to assist with other map change applications.

School Beat; Oregon Schools have referendum on Ballot Nov 4 to exceed levy limit--$400M per year for ten years

Click on the post for the details.

Signs: "Just Say No to Lake Leota" can be ordered from Staples

Black and White laminated versions of various sizes of the "Just Say No to Lake Leota" signs can be ordered from Staples in Janesville---call 1-608-756-5096. Prices vary by size. You could be the first in your neighborhood to have such a distinctive sign.

Turnaround is quick on lamination and should be ready by the time you go there. Ask for details.

Video: Paris Hilton for President Video: moves up tempo--how will the candidates counter it?

click on the post for the latest.

Gazette; Brodhead Woodridge Group announces Mass layoffs

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

Christmas Corner: Employment: On-line retailing still looks strong

Click on the post for an article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Chasin Corner: "Joe the Plumber" can't afford the Lake

Click on the post for a classic.

Blog Corner: The Strategy of Giant Yard Signs-----

Click on the post for a blog post that suggests that John McCain may be using giant yard signs as a strategy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mailbag: Matt Writes Re: Lake Leota

Matt Gaboda has left a new comment on your post "Mailbag: Jim Hurley Writes: Re: Lake Leota Refere...":

That was a great well thought out piece Mr. Hurley.

The reason I will vote NO for the Leota Referendum is partly what was covered by Mr. Hurley and partly timing. I think the want to dredge far outweighs any conceivable need. We need a waste treatment plant, we need safe drinking water, and we need more songs about rainbows.

The vocal minority of downtown Evansville has no problem pulling at the purse strings of the city with little regard to people who may not live a block or two away from Leonard Leota Park. What lake environment? The baseball games were still played, the Fourth of July still happened, and Allen Creek pushed on.

The city of Evansville has a habit of using tunnel vision when making major decisions, from the westside soggy bottom developments, the bio plant, and this issue. I want more options, not just, " Chicken or Chicken." I'm not taking the butchers word on this steak. S.O.L.E. wants to rub a bunch of pine tree air freshener on the millpond and call it good enough.

I want choices and other voices. There is more than one way to eat a Reeses. I want people from both sides of downtown to be ushered in on this issue, new blood if you will.

I think s.o.l.e has good intentions, but are only doing what they think is best, not so much the public. If s.o.l.e. wants the lake dredged my way or the highway style, set up a lemonade stand and start saving. If you want to use any public money, don't shove this down our throat, give us something to chew on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Floodplain terms: Background: Zone AE

Click on the post for the explanation as given by Dane County.

Mailbag: Jim Hurley Writes: Re: Lake Leota Referendum

Why I’m voting “No” on the Lake Leota Referendum

I must say that since we moved to Evansville 18 years ago, the Lake Leota non-binding referendum is probably one of the most controversial measures on the ballot. That is, except for the school referendum back about 10 years ago. That first school referendum (the one before the new high school approval) also has some parallels to the Lake Leota issue and probably the reason that on its first try, the referendum failed. At the time, the school board decided to put an intermediate school project on the ballot that in effect, was decided from the top-down. The feeling around town was that there was no buy-in from the residents on the intermediate school because no other options were discussed.

How did the school referendum finally pass? Gary Albrecht, the new superintendent of school, worked with a facilitator and held a series of listening sessions and fully engaged the community. There was no excuse for any resident to not get involved in the decision-making process for the referendum. I have to admit that I wasn’t in favor of the high school at first, but after several meetings with many of my fellow residents of the district, we agreed that the high school was the best option and that it was well-reasoned. We all had a stake in the outcome. We then helped convince others. The ballot measure passed and I think most people are happy with the results.

So what does this have to do with Lake Leota? I just don’t think that I have really heard about all of the possible options and the long-term effects. While I realize that $2M is a lot of money, I would be comfortable with a tax increase if I knew how to compare the options and that I would receive direct benefits of the decision. The group “Save Our Lake Environment” should be commended for the great work that they have done, but as the title implies, it appears that there is only one option. I can’t recall hearing about any sort of similar group called something like “Friends of the Allen Creek Watershed” who would devote similar efforts along the entire upstream portion of the creek to ensure that soil-laden runoff would not run downstream and collect behind the dam. Since the problem with the lake is the filling of sediment derived from the watershed, the two really need to be coupled or we will be putting this back on the ballot for our kids to decide. If we could ensure that sediment wouldn’t fill in the lake in a 20-year window, I’d be more willing to support the referendum.

I also recall the initial meeting with DNR where the DNR representatives said that they were not in the business of dredging any more, that millpond structures are being removed all over the state, and that we would have the opportunity to restore continuous trout stream from the wetland south of town through the park and further upstream. The upstream portions of Allen Creek are fed by cool spring water and trout restoration could include portions of the park. I haven’t heard anything since.

With all of us feeling the squeeze of the economy, we really have to think about whether we are willing to spend the extra taxes on a true benefit. While I love to watch the reflection of the Fourth of July fireworks off the lake, I’m just not certain that we would be making a sound investment. If I were certain that we fairly looked at all the options, like Gary Albrecht asked us to do with the schools, I would be willing to support the Lake Leota referendum. At this point, I don’t feel like I’ve seem all the options, nor has the City considered all the possibilities.

I’ll vote no on the Lake Leota referendum. This time.

Jim Hurley

223 W. Main St.

Going for Broke--the boardgame--1985.

If you want to "Go For Broke"----just click on the post and buy the old boardgame. It goes for under $5.

Buying the game is better than playing the game with the community in real time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Video: Council: Lake Leota: Ald. Jacobson urges full disclosure---council rejects

Council discusses whether to add $400M for box culvert project to the Lake Leota Referendum.Alderperson Barb Jacobson urges inclusion of everything related so the taxpayer can see the total cost that will be paid for by taxes---her recommendation was rejected.

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Video: Richard Nelson of Evansville speaks on the Lake Leota Referendum

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Business: A Bit on Municipal Bonds--why shorter maturities make sense

In the current environment, shorter maturities make sense---from the investor perspective. Click on the post to read the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Now go to the other side---what are the prospects for a 20 year municipal bond financing??? for a millpond??? you make the call.

As I see it---and as the article suggests----The term must be shorter to be successful in placement---a fact that voters should consider in their calculation on election day. The annual property tax increase for Evansville residents for such a shorter term municipal bond placement for municipal bonds financing the Lake Leota Project would be double the amount indicated by the city. Make a note of it.

Nostalgia: Tales From Normal, Mn.: "When Buffett Bought Millponds"-------FICTION

(Ed.note: This is one of a long series of tales that are published by Blurb Press. They are searchable on Google, and are available on audio podcast through Itunes and mediafly podcast nationwide. Click on the post to see current list of episodes. They are fictional, but other than that....)

Recently while I was up in northern Minnesota at my favorite fishing village, Normal, Mn., the guys were gathered together for morning coffee at Betty Lou's---where the coffee was just very strong with lots of sugar and whipped cream, and where no mochas were served cause it was too weak and besides it was too complicated to make.

Right after the second round of coffee, one of the guys, appropriately dressed in a lumbermans flannel shirt, and sporting a Loon Lodge fishing cap, was reading the local shopper, the Normal Nugget, when he came across the following words of the revered local mayor:

"I have given a lot of thought to the lake restoration project in light of the current volatile economy. Last week, I listened to a television interview of financier Warren Buffett. He believes it is timely to make wise investments."

George read those words aloud to the whole cafe---the guys were just dumstruck. After all, Warren Buffett was the wisest man on the planet---as the head of Berkshire Hathaway, he had made wise investments over the past decades that had made him one of the richest men in the universe. So---quickly---the guys tried to understand the deeper meaning of Buffett's move to buy millponds. What did it mean for their portfolios.

There was a lot of shouting in Betty Lou's that morning. Some guys thought that Warren had just hit upon a strategy that was of the scope of President Lincoln's famous Illinois Waterway con....and a project that Abe had regretted till the day he died.

After a short review of the guys at Betty Lou's cafe---the vote was unanimous---Warren Buffett had lost his mind. It was time to bail out of any of Warren's other favorite projects as well. The guys all broke for the phones to make calls to their stockbrokers.

Then one lone voice of reason stood in the midst-----"Guys....Guys.....listen up...it was just a fantasy of the local mayor...it is not real....After all, they are doing Escanabe in da Moonlight this weekend....cut them some slack."

I am so grateful. Even though I was not wearing my lumberman shirt with a Loon Lodge fishing cap---still they took a moment and regained their senses. I guess that is why I am called to join them once in a while.

Friday, October 24, 2008

yahoo: Fat Cats remain FAT: Will the market move ...lower...till things change????

click on the post for the latest from yahoo news.

Mailbag: Ginnaty CPA writes: How much is a trillion?

I was trying to find a credible estimate of total mortgage debt in the US, and I stumbled onto an incredible website called "Grandfather Economic Reports" (http://mwhodges.home.att.net/).

On this site you can find out the total US mortgage debt ($11 Trillion or so), the total of America's debt (that is governmental, household, business and financial institutions debt) which is a robust $53 Trillion, the total of the debt owned by foreigners (12.5 Trillion) comprising 46% of all US Treasury bonds, 27% of all corporate bonds, 14% of all government agency debt (remember Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae).

This site is an absolute must for any one who's trying to figure out the current mess.

One gem from the site: An answer to the question "What is a Trillion? (Remember the Bailout number) "It's the year 0, the beginning of the first millenium, and you have a trillion dollars to spend, at the rate of a million dollars a day. At just before three years, you've reached a billion. You keep spending, and now you are in the year 2001. You still have 737 years to go, spending a million every day, before you reach the end of your trillion dollar pile."

Gold Anyone?

P.S. The debate is not about Republicans vs Dems..they are both hopelessly lost parties!!

Gazette: Markets: Wall Street Braces for Sharp Decline Friday, Oct 24, 2008

Click on the post for the latest.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voter Resource Corner: Lake Leota: Meetings Audio and Video

Audio and video of key meetings of the City of Evansville that discussed the Lake Leota Referendum issue are now available on Mediafly podcasts---click on the post to see and select the meeting of interest. Click "View Episodes" to see complete listing going back two years.

Meetings are also free and searchable on ITunes. Meetings can also be searched on the top of the Observer by topic.

Remember: This is the Evansville Observer. Our work is good enough to save. We do not throw out our stories and audio and video each night. We save it for history.


Mailbag: View from Big Sur: Ginnaty CPA writes: Who got Saved...Alleluia

What could be even scarier is all the reaction could be to a problem that could have been handled by less draconian measures. Example: Mortgage meltdown: Typical Calif. inland empire(one of the worst effected areas) house sold for 500,000 in 05' with no down. It was foreclosed on in 07'. What's the loss? The fed etc seems to think it is $500,000, the total loan. The real loss of course is $500,000 less what it re-sells for after foreclosure (guess: 200,000 - 250,000). Of course, not every home sold in 05' is in default. So what seems to be missing in the policy discussion is the size of the problem. As an aside, Orange county home sale activity is up % wise on a yr to yr basis, so is Riverside County (one of the inland empire counties, referred to earlier). The market is working and people who just 18 months ago could not afford a home are not buying.

As to the "credit swaps", nobody I know wrote them....hmm!..could it be that the only ones on the hook, are the Goldman Sachs of this world??? Since the Fed. and US Treasurer are all fraternity bros with the wall street boys, I suspect they feel any "street" pain should be shared with all us folks. Good of them, don't you think? Of course, they would say what would we do if there wasn't a Goldman Sachs? And I would say the traditional functions of Goldman would be reconstituted virtually overnight in a newly named firm. There will be a morning tomorrow even if GS is gone.

At this point, the Treasury and the Fed has the nation's credit card without any card limits, and they are a spendin.'

God save the Republic!


Video: "Rudy" lives---at the NEW Evansville Ford

Video: Meet "Rudy" Bennett, the new manager of the NEW Evansville Ford.

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Video: Citizens Speak on Lake Leota:

Video: Richard Nelson of Evansville speaks on the Lake Leota Referendum

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Gazette; UW Rock to offer Mental Health Counseling

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

Video: Common Council: October 2008: Lake Leota: Ald Barb Jacobson urges Council to include box culvert 400M in referendum for voters to decide

Council discusses whether to add $400M for box culvert project to the Lake Leota Referendum.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WSJ: Middleton, TIF ------

Click on the post for the story in the Wisconisn State Journal.

Gazette: M&I may seek Federal Bailout

Click on the post for the latest from the Gazette.

Markets: Sharp Downward Open suggested for Wed

Click on the post for the futures that indicate a sharp downward action this morning. Stay tuned for some midweek excitement.

Nostalgia: 9/10/2008: Video: Common Council: Lake Leota: Mr. Prentice Eager speaks: Urges dredging even if public votes NO.

Video; Prentice Eager speaks; Compliments Council on addressing the issue of Lake Leota; Urges the Council to Proceed with the dredging even if the Public votes against it.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Video: LIN'S GARDEN is now open on East Main Street. Click on the video to tour the new chinese restaurant. Stop by and tell them that The Observer sent you. Enjoy.

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Lake Leota: Tax Impact---20 years is not realistic for muni funding

Click on the post for the data presented for municipal bond financing for the Lake Leota project----

It is deceptive on its face.

Show me the muni bond that will be financed for 20 years for a millpond when the states all across this country cannot finance ESSENTIAL basic operating costs through municipal borrowing-----

This bond will be financed--- if at all---- for 10 years and the tax impact will be higher per year than projected----

Count on it.

If you disagree---send the statement from the financial consultants like Ehlers and Associates that guarantee a placement for a 10 year muni bond.

Chasin Corner; SOLE could have dredged for 500M in 2006

Click on the post for the SOLE memo on the estimated costs in 2006. After a round of tough negotiating---the cost is now 2,000,000.


Mailbag: Ginnaty CPA writes: A Bit on Swaps:

(Ed.note: There is a current questioning of what the exact total amount of the exposure of the "swaps" is that the governments of the world wish to stabilize. This letter is timely.)

Last night, I googled "credit swaps" and was duly impressed at the response. Wikipedia and something called "investipedia" gave numerous short succinct explanations of the vocabulary involving "credit swaps"

Some facts, credit swaps are traded on the OTC, and are unregulated. If you substitute the word "insurance" or "hedge" then I think there starts to be an understanding of what they are. In short, people holding any stock, loan, bond etc. can attempt to gain insurance from the sellers of the swaps on the principal or interest of the underlying security. That is, the sellers of the swap, warranty that if there is a problem on the underlying security they will make it up (ie. like property insurance)

What is amazing is the $ volume of swaps in existence. Depending on which article you read there was/is $45 Trillion in swaps (twice the size of the US securities market) or $250 Trillion. The only way these numbers make any sense, is that one loan, stock, bond etc is covered by multiple swaps. There just isn't that much stocks, bonds, or loans in the world. What I am suggesting apparently happens with quite regularity is that when A sells a swap, A buys a swap from B, and B buys a swap from C and so forth. The "notational" value of the swaps in my example is 3 times the original security. Unwinding this mess incase of a problem would be a nightmare.

Just as in any insurance contract, the strength in the contract lies in the seller of the contract, and whether there was adequate loss provisions established (based on adequate pricing to begin with).

The Feds and US Treasury, and E.C Community's reaction indicates they didn't think the loss provisions were adequate, and decided that it was their job to underwrite the entire world's swap industry. Good luck to them, if the 250 Trillion $ figure is correct.


Gazette: Federal Reserve to buy Mutual Fund Commercial Paper---$540 Billion possible

Click on the post for the story.

School Beat; AdHoc Committee: September 2008: Land Purchase Options discussed

Click on the post for the minutes of this meeting. The next meeting is Nov. 3rd?. The purpose of the committee is get feedback from the community. Feel free to share yours with the school district.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

OpEd: School Beat: Background; AdHoc Planning Committee:

(Ed.note: This is a summary of some of the history of school development in Evansville--the audio and video of some of these meetings can be found at: http://woulfe98.hipcast.com/rss/evansville-school-district-meetings.xml
This audio and video is available on search free from Itunes, as well as Mediafly podcasting. )

The current bonds that the Evansville Schools have is not the original funding that they had at the time of construction----after they completed the building, they discovered that they were short on unfunded pension liability and refinanced till 2021. At the time of the refinancing they had to settle for back loaded bonds, or bonds where the payment went up every year till maturity----they were hoping that the appreciation of real estate and growth would ---somehow---make things relatively cheaper and more affordable. The problem with that logic was that there was not the proper analysis of what the effect of growth would be on funding by the state or by an early exhaustion of the resource.

Then, right as they took occupancy of the new school configuration, they switched from half day kindergarten, which had been the standard for 30 years or so, and switched to full day kindergarten----that had the effect of raising the revenue as well as the expenses---and again the effect of changing the time of reckoning for new school space.

Finally---at the time of the study in 2000, there was a "maximum utilization rate" used and used a fixed square foot per student as the standard for describing need. In 2007, at a meeting at city Hall, Supr Heidi Carvin explained, audio on the blog, that this had been changed to a more modern computation---and hence rather than the building space being exhausted in 2012 or so, it was really exhausted NOW. In 2001 there was a group process initiated where there were circles of folks and then in the final analysis, the school team decided.

Overall this worked pretty well, but there was not a critical component of analysis to it-----and right after the new high school had been built, they determined that they needed more space. This was a 30 million dollar bond issue that was at the height of the development of evansville housing. It did not address the primary need that was determined earlier in the first, and defeated bond issue--the primary need was for elementary school space. The reason for the defeat of the first referendum was that the goodwill of the Supr. Benzinger had been lost and nobody trusted him. He proposed an addition to the intermediate school that would have forced removal of the trailer park on Fair Street.

In the subsequent plan presented by Bray Associates, the ultimate strategy was to appeal to the athletic and musical interests and build a new high school with theatre, and new sports gym, weight room etc. and the essential need---the one clearly identified in the population growth estimates was ignored.

The plan for future development as of 2001 was that if there was needed space in the future, the new high school that was geothermal, would have the capacity to add another wing. And that is STILL the plan on paper---although you can hear the resistance from administration on this option. The situation is that the census and Rock County population projection show no additional need for space at the high school for about 10 years, but... a proposal was made to make it a Junior-Senior High---and allow 7-8th graders to move to the added wing---and thus be able to take higher difficulty math and science classes like they do now. Combined with the idea presented by John Mourning at last meeting--that senior high school curriculum will most likely be more diverse and decentralized in ten years, with everyone having a laptop computer and having work study etc and hands on instruction, the day of total obsession with physical facility is OVER.

All of the options listed in the options, mostly talk of "repurpose" of the middle school. This was supposedly a library, community center, senior center, or place for city offices---however, the city and other organizations have never been interested for various reasons in any joint agreement with the school system.

The primary symptom of the planning process in 2001 was to NOT consider all options, and to NOT have pointed dialogue about the issues at hand. The other night, this was still present with a rushed attempt to have folks rank options. REPURPOSING the Middle school if it is really taking over daycare in Evansville and keeping all the huge costs on the taxpayer books will not compute. Outright sale might work. Supr. Carvin mentioned that "if the discussion is divisive maybe we should just reform a new committee in a couple years to reconsider this." My reply would be that the composition of the current ad hoc committee with Union, Evansville, plus builders, teachers, board members is as good as its going to get. Each of the elements of the past will have to be unraveled...and it is going to be painful and the avoidance of pain in the past is the primary reason that there is the current difficulty.

The essential source of all the current problems occured PRIOR to our current Superintendent, and hence EVERYTHING can and must be reviewed in order for the planning process to be effective. Example of this---the 4 period day---Jeff Farnsworth walked right into it and was correct in his questions. The defensive responses we saw at the meeting were inappropriate since the board asked many of the same questions, and it is not correct that this can not be reconsidered in light of Edgerton experience.

Finally--what is needed is a strong facilitator----not weak. All of the questions have to be answered and all the options on the table to have any chance of success. And the expensive options I think will be vetoed by the taxpayer till the economy gets better. However---it might take 5 years to get the proper sequence of planning to be ready to dig---and that would not be digging in a flood plain----

Friday, October 17, 2008

Star Tribune: Mervyns Retail Chain will Liquidate all stores

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Ginnaty CPA writes: A Bit on Deregulation: Who caused the meltdown?

I know this got us into trouble last time, but the predominant spin that it was de-regulation that caused the mortgage meltdown is not accurate.

Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae were creations of your beloved government meddlers. They created these GSE's (Government sponsored entities) to provide a purchaser of mortgage debt from the banks,etc who were generating the loans, and would purchase any such debt as long as they were "conforming" loans..meeting the specific underwriting requirements at that time (in our time it was 20% down, 80% loan, w-2 showing 2 years employment, tax returns, and credit history/worthiness).

Over time, the definition of "conforming" loans became politicized...ie. no longer subject to economic sense, but to Congressional/Presidential whim. In it's last version, conforming loans were only requiring in many cases - no down, no verified work history, no tax returns, no w-2s..just "stated" income..that is whatever income that the borrower stated. This meddling by Congress/Presidential Admin (please note here I am pointing to both parties) led us to the melt down. The governor (as in engine governor) has always been the person/entity lending the money. There has always been borrowers who want loans they can't afford. There has always been loan brokers that for a big enough fee will try to get loans for these people. There has always been appraisers that for a big enough fee will give ridiculous appraisals. The governor on the system was always the man/entity having the money to lend, requiring reasonable proof/security that the loan would be repaid. The beloved government took the "governor" off the system. More regulation does NOT solve the problem of governmental interference unless congress forbids itself the right to interfere...hardly a likely outcome.

P.S Just wait, think what the possibilities there are now that the beloved government has effective control over our largest banks. Give government some time..and we can really have some fun.

PSS: A liquidity crisis is caused by some people needing money, and not being able to get it. Simple enough! The problem can be fixed if the borrower is solvent, and they offer a sufficient interest rate (and or collateral) to get the lender to agree to loan. The current problem is not there isn't dollars out there. In fact, the world is awash in dollars (China - 1.5Trillion in $ reserves, Saudia Arabia - $1.0 Trillion in reserves, Japan .5 Trillion in reserves etc.) The problem is that they (beloved governments) do not want to let interest rates (the grease that makes the money flow) rise to the level required. Bernake in particular believes in controlling interest rates.....a losing strategy. There solution was to double the money in the system (1 Trillion or so) effectively devaluing the dollar and keeping interest rates stable. Europe did the same with the Euro. The market is riled because it is trying to figure out who the winners and losers are going to be, after the effect of this effective dollar and euro devaluation.

Capitalist Tool and Die Maker...and proud to be one.

Video: The NEW Evansville Ford---NEW Owners, NEW Attitude---Meet Rudy the New General Manager

Meet "Rudy" the General Manager of the New Evansville Ford---NEW Owners, NEW Attitude

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video: Evansville Council: Lake Leota Debt Term Discussed: 10-14-2008

Council: 10-14-2008: Common Council extablishes recomended term of 20 years, level interest and principal for dredging project financing.

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Dateline Normal, Mn.: "When Buffett Bought Millponds"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Audio: 10-14-2008: Evansville Council: Debt Term Financing Discusses re Lake Leota

October 14, 2008: Council plans Lake Leota Dredging debt term financing--20 year level principal, level interest--- pending the referendum on November 4th.

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Council: Approval of rezoning of Curves property on East Main to Community Business District. Any new business would still have to complete the Conditional Use Permit process.

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Council: Dave Sauer discusses the process of establishing the amounts to be assessed to affected properties from the Madison Street construction project. State of Wis pays a portion of redo of existing but does not pay a portion on "new"--hence four properties will pay additional and this will be addressed in motion next month.

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CapTimes: Classic Dave Zweifel: "At Least We Saved Social Security"

Click on the post for a classic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dealscape: Paulson expresses "regret" at having to act

Click on the post for the full article in Dealscape.

CapTimes: Gasoline moves below $3 in Madison

Click on the post for the spcifics from the CapTimes.

Yahoo: Treassury: Bernanke Speaks:

click on the post for the remarks.

Mr. Bernanke noted:

"History teaches us that government engagement in times of severe financial crisis often arrives very late, usually at a point at which most financial institutions are insolvent or nearly so. Waiting too long to act has usually led to much greater direct costs of the intervention itself and, more importantly, magnified the painful effects of financial turmoil on households and businesses.

That is not the situation we face today. Fortunately, the Congress and the administration have acted at a time when the great majority of financial institutions, though stressed by highly volatile and difficult market conditions, remain capable of fulfilling their critical function of providing new credit for our economy. The Congress' prompt and decisive action in passing the financial rescue legislation made possible the critical steps that have been announced this morning. I also find it heartening that we are seeing not just a national, but a global response ...."

I would think in reviewing the actual text of the speeches from the past year, one must conclude that the Federal Reserve asked for more drastic actions earlier and that Sec Paulson, who came from Wall Street ties, delayed.

So----I think the first paragraph in which Mr. Bernanke refers to the delay, delay, delay of most governments facing these types of events----is very descriptive of what has transpired. That is just my personal conclusion after listening to some of the earlier speeches from early 2008. Congress and Bernanke were asking for bold action but Treasury was standing in the way. That is as I see it.

Evansville Common Council meets Tonight----

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: High Schooler solves World Crisis"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Nostalgia: The Tales of Loon Lodge---Fiction

In preparation for the coming theatrical production Escanaba in da Moonlight...etc...coming to Evansville on October 17th, I have reprinted the classic tale of loon lodge. Click on the post.

I hope you all are planning to attend this event. It is rated PG13---my theory was always regarding this type of off the wall comedy of them there parts is that it is really beyond classification....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Europe puts trillions on the line to save banks

Click on the post for the story.

Brodhead Municipal Court Report: October 1, 2008

Click on the post for the latest.

MoneyWeek: EU: The look from Europe--the case of Spain

Click on the post for the latest from Money Week.

Classic Tales From Normal: "FEMA Track and Field"-----FICTION

Click on the post for a classic from the past.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Jersey Joe visits Normal---explains markets"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Nostalgia: Fed; Bernanke on Transparency: 11/2007---- Did anybody listen or follow?

Fed. Chairman speech on transparency changes at the Federal Reserve. On why improved transparency is essential for banking and the markets.

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Evansville School Board Reports---October

Click on the post for the reports for October.

The Question of Christmas Shopping----and e commerce

It is too early to tell whether the stock market downturn will totally destroy Christmas retail sales, but ecommerce sites may see an increase in traffic from customers looking for "deals" and one aspect of those deals will be "free shipping." Some esellers have already begun offering free shipping through the internet for selected time periods.

Click on the post for a recent analysis.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Audio; Nostalgia: Treasury Sec Paulson: Dec 3rd 2007----Did the plan work?

On Monday, Dec. 3rd, 2007 Treasury Paulson spoke about the foreclosure crisis facing the United States and outlined a strategy. (These are partial remarks.) the plan did not work. The plan was to "bring the private sector together" to solve it----hang on now, October 12-19th 2008 as the Federal Government moves to bold measures, maybe. Stay tuned.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Video: Lin's Garden----Evansville, Wi----Chinese Restaurant NOW open on East Main Street --Evansville, Wisconisn

Video: LIN'S GARDEN is now open on East Main Street. Click on the video to tour the new chinese restaurant. Stop by and tell them that The Observer sent you. Enjoy.Click on the menu of Lin's Garden on the right of the blog to review the detailed entres available.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Yahoo: History: Video: TechTicker: "It Takes Time"

What do we mean when we say "It takes time"---click on the post for some perspective.

The Mystery of Historical Preservation----

If you click on the link, you can see the recent September 2008 minutes of the Evansville Historical Preservation Committee which has voted $600 to aid the digitization project putting old Evansville Review articles on digital for preservation---I do support that notion of historical preservation---however in reviewing the broader notion of historical preservation I recently got a note from our city administrator, Dan Wietecha in which he said, in response to my freedom of information request for the audio tapes from the planning commission meetings of 2005:


I’d be happy to help, but I don’t think there’s too much we can provide. Meetings are recorded to assist in typing the minutes, not to create an audio record of the meeting. The record retention requirement on such recordings is only 90 days. I think in practice we actually keep them longer, say a year, but we don’t have the tapes from 2005 any longer.


Here is the bottom line: We like to preserve some things, while we destroy the very basis of history itself. Other communities are placing their meeting audio on the internet on a regular basis and indeed converting the audio to ditigal is almost free.

We want to treasure bricks, but forget everything else. Kinda funny huh?

That is how I see it. And you?

Video; Nostalgia: School:" It is more than just the money"

Nostalgia: 2006: Art Phillips asks Rep. Brett Davis to explain the results of various school districts with wide differnences of per pupil aid. Is it just the money?

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In his daily interaction with everyday citizens as well as students, Art Phillips showed that it was more than just the salary, more than just the funding that got results---

This dialogue with Brett Davis is quite revealing---and it does reveal a mystery of educational funding---that some very small schools, that do not get the highest amount of funding, compete like crazy---I always assumed it was committed teachers and mentors and a committed community that made the difference.

Especially today, October 10, 2008, as our community, nation, and world face financial uncertainty and dispair, I think these words should give us determination to stick together in difficult funding times and keep our eye on the many intangibles that we do have in our arsenal.

Wall Street: Volume Headed for 12 Billion Dollar volume day--record

In moments of "capitulation" or total dispair, there is record volume and these moments usually, according to the pundits, mark changes in sentiment in the market----lets hope so.

Click on the post for the status on Yahoo Markets.

Yahoo: Oil Prices Plunge: Tell the local retail stations

There is a pattern of retail oil outlets raising their prices very quickly on increase in crude, and then sitting on their hands when prices fall. Prices need to fall, and fall just as quickly as on the rise side. Ask them about the pump prices.

Click on the post for the full story.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

UW Band: A pattern of upperclassmen bullying freshmen

Click on the post for the latest.

Business Week: States Asking for Bailouts?

Is Wisconsin on the list? Click on the post for the details.

Gazette: United Way faces cut in Funding

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

Vote NO---the top 10 Reasons

1. The price of 2,000,000 is not the real cost. The real cost is 2.65 million when one adds up the additonal costs ----repairing the creek walls plus changing the course of the stream up top of the lake. The city may try to bypass the prudent levy limits as given by the finanical advisor, Ehlers and Associates, by putting the creek walls expense in the stormwater utility, but the bottom line remains----the city debt is at the prudent limit and puts the city in a difficult position to face unexpected emergencies.

2. Incurring debt, municipal debt, during a time of local and national financial crisis should be for essentials, and not for fluff.

3. Incurring debt for the kids----for non essentials---- is not wise. If we would incur debt, and much debt has been proposed for our elementary school--44 million to be exact---for schools....schools are MORE important than millponds. Some school debt IS reasonably forseeable in the next 10 years. Denying that this is coming is not helpful for our community.

4. There is a natural process, and Lake Leota is just returning to its natural state.

5. The days of the 1930's have gone the way of the Camp Douglas wayside---they are sentimental, but times have passed. Rebuilding the lake will not restore anyone's youth. The city has placed substantial money in the Westside park and has moved to serve this new development area.

6. There is just as much prestige real estate to be gotten around millponds as around lakes---the greed of a few is not the cause for extensive public indebtedness.

7. At the Evansville Planning Commission, council members almost approved the resolution that would have come within $200,000 of exhausting what the financial planners have called a prudent limit to municipal indebtedness for Evansville, or 60% of the 5% of assessed valuation of our property. NOBODY asked the question what would happen if that assessed valuation went down from the 2005 assessment which occured at the tip of the real estate boom.

8. For months, the estimate of the project was 1.5 million. Suddenly it became 2.0 million. Why? Where is the extra half million going? Check it out.

9. Improved commercial development comes before millpond investment.

10. Fixing the current water flow problems near 6th and Vision is more important than millpond development.

Audio Memories: Nostalgia: Dreams of the new Evansville Community Center

Initial kickoff Meeting at Evansville Country Club detailing the plan for the New Evansville Community Center---gavel to gavel audio

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Audio: Nostalgia: Lake Leota Creek Walls: Ald Braunschweig states Creek Wall repair may be in Stormwater Utility scope---$300M?

Detailed discussion of Stormwater Utility Fee---that it may include creek walls for Lake Leota--what it might amount to on the taxes etc.

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Nostalgia: 6 mos ago: Fed Bernanke speaks:

Fed: Audio: Senator asks: Do you know more than they about CDO etc. The answer is telling.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Evansville Finance Committee meets Thursday---debt term for Lake Leota on agenda

Click on the post for the latest.

Video; SNL: Saturday night Live---the Republican equal fairness time?

Click on the post for the video.

Yahoo: TechTicker: Video: Roubini: Recession to last two years

Click on the post for the recent prediction of Prof. Roubini.

OpEd: Crisis in Municipal Financing--why bond insurance matters

Behind every investor that buys a municipal bond---known for their safety and tax exempt yield---is the knowledge and belief in their safety, and secondly their tradability----in the event of the death or illness of a senior investor, they must be able to be traded easily at fair value. The problem----without insurance and a way of quicly and easily rating the safety of these municipal bonds----these bonds are not salable in the first place and then are not tradeable in the event of need.

That all spells big trouble for municipalities---who typically take in tax revenue at one part of the year and have ebbs and flows of long and short term borrowing between their peak inflows.

Right now---the municipal bond market is "Seized Up" and not effective because the insurance as well as the rating mechanism is not working---whatever the system of the past obviously did not work very well as far as default swaps, and a new risk rating system has to be made effective. The delay on this new rating could wreak havoc on local governments nationwide.

Right now...if you want to borrow for a municipal dream----good luck. Just the essentials might be difficult to borrow for. Stay tuned.

OpEd: School Options: One option in depth

Video: School: Supr. Heidi Carvin presents building options: 9-10-2008; 4 of 4 video. Complete audio on the Evansville Observer.

Download File

One option of the several available for increasing the capacity of the Evansville School District---is to follow the original plan devised in 2000-----add the wing on the Evansville High School that is designed into the infrastructure---the efficient geothermal heating already has the capacity to handle it.

By adding a wing, and in effect, making a junior,senior high for just a temporary period of time----the rock county population study does not show an increase in high school enrollment for a long time out----this would enable a shift of some current middle school students to the new space, and then with the second step----an enhanced site for the current intermediate school which would entail picking up some parcels with voluntary homeowner involvement over five years, would enable an enhanced facility at the current intermediate school to house the increase in elementary students---and only the 1st to 4th grade will show increases in enrollment as I understand it for 2018.

The plan for the current middle school site under this option would be "repurposing" but in reality, in order to make the numbers work for the taxpayer---the site must be removed from tax roles. Dreams of expanding the role of the school system to take over daycare in Evansville must cease....as well as dreams of expanding the grade levels to 4k. The community has voted on that and it has been defeated.

The option presented above would be the lowest cost option available for taxpayers. It would require disciplined enhancement of the current intermediate school site and an allocation of funding for that purpose. It would also seem to require that a more detailed enginering examination be done of the current elementary and intermediate school to precisely determine what portions should be destroyed and rebuilt in a configuration that is two story and more effectively uses the footprint of land available.

McClatchy News: Fed cuts Key rates; World follows

Rather than the Fed having a personal relationship with each and every homeowner in America by taking over their mortgage---one of the key ways it can reduce costs is to lower lending costs, and assuming those lower lending costs are passed on to consumers, allow mortgage holders to refinance their homes to reduce their monthly expenses-----so.....let the refinancing begin.

Click on the post for the article in McClatchy News.

OpEd: "Every day...In every Way....things are getting cheaper."

Over the past several months, whenever we have heard the pundits discuss solving the current economic crisis, they have used the words, "We need to stabilize housing prices etc...."

It is natural I suppose. For folks that have overpriced assets to believe that the crisis will be over when the decline in pricing ends. For them it would. However---the essential problem was...and still is...overvaluation.

In the larger view---in times of ASSET DEFLATION, there is no hurry. No hurry to buy. No anxiety at all for the wise purchaser. Because. In every transaction. In every day...in every way...things are getting cheaper.

Asset deflation in the 1930's was countered by bold federal action with the programs of FDR----bank holiday----foreclosure holiday----etc. We are seeing the first of the boldness that will have to take place for an extreme deflation to be avoided. There is a time for government...and a time for regulation...and that time is now.

WSJ: Sour Economy may mean referendum defeat in Madison?

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette: Winter Heating Bills Coming---info on Weatherization Assistance etc.

Click on the post for an informative article in today's Gazette. Contact the weatherization program through Community Action of Rock County for further info.

Gazette: Parkview Schools stops enrollment losses

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

Monday, October 06, 2008

CapTimes; UW Chancellor will not interfrere with "self rule" of UW Athletics?

Click on the post for the story. Self Rule in our financial, energy, airline etc markets has not worked out too well. Click on the post for the story.

Gazette: Milton puts new high school plans on hold

Milton responds to local and national trends---enrollment has been flat to down. Click on the post for the latest in the Janesville Gazette.

Wind: Washington Post: National Article mentions Judge Tom Alisankus re Wind Energy

The article was regarding offshore wind projects. Click on the post for the article.

School Beat: Ad Hoc School Board Meeting tonight

Click on the post for the agenda.

LaTimes: The Price of DeRegulaton is coming

The consequences of the deregulation of the past decade and beyond is coming to fruition. The effects will be felt by every American. The notion that freedom means not regulating the essential things of our public sector---airlines, energy, financial transactions, telephone, etc, etc. is dead. The age of regulation has begun----the only problem. The current folks, who stood by and watched the looting are not qualified to guard the remaining assets. New folks are required. Stay tuned.

Click on the post for the article in the LA Times.

Minyanville: Markets: OpEd:

Click on the post for the Minyanville OpEd for Monday.

Breitbart: Germany plans Financial "Shield"====not to include other EU nations

Click on the post for the latest.

Jim Cramer Warns: Urges Investors to Sell

Pundits urging "sell" are rare. Jim Cramer in video explains---click on the post for the latest.

yahoo: Wild Day on Wall Street:

Click on the post for the latest. Fear has spread around the world.

Board of Appeals Meets October 16, 2008


The Evansville Board of Appeals will meet 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
Board of Appeals

Thursday, October 16, 2008, 6:30 PM
City Hall (Third Floor), 31 S. Madison St., Evansville, WI


1. Call to order

2. Approval of agenda

3. Citizen appearances other than agenda items listed

4. Action items
a. Variance for Eager Fox LLC, applicant (Application 2008-33)
b. Variance for ADEVCO LLC, Roger Berg (Application 2008-34)

5. Next meeting date – none scheduled

6. Motion to adjourn

Harlin Miller, Chair

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

Nostalgia: July 2007: Art Phillips: What the Numbers say, and what they do not: On the uncertainty of the future----

7-16-2007--Building and Grounds, Evansville School District, Art Phillips, Board member cautions that review of sites is fine, but with respect to building anything, the recent slowdown in building activity must be taken into account---the future is unknown. It can go either way.

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Evansville Plan Commission Meets Tonight---October 6th

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Video: Lin's Garden----Chinese Restaurant NOW open on East Main Street --Evansville, Wisconisn

Video: LIN'S GARDEN is now open on East Main Street. Click on the video to tour the new chinese restaurant. Stop by and tell them that The Observer sent you. Enjoy.

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Daily Reporter: More transmission lines coming?

As Wisconsin harnesses more energy from wind, American Transmission Co. LLC admits it still doesn’t know how to spread out that power. “If you’re talking gas, coal or nuclear plants, they’re all sited closer to where the infrastructure needed to carry that power is located,” said ATC spokeswoman Annemarie Newman. “Wind power is found in remote areas … and we have to try to look at ways to get that on the grid.”

According to ATC’s 10-year Transmission System Assessment Report, Wisconsin needs about $2.7 billion in transmission upgrades in the next decade to meet rising electricity demands. That includes adding 210 miles of new transmission lines. If wind power becomes a larger part of the state’s energy mix, ATC and wind developers will need to determine the best ways to carry that power. “In the last year alone, we’ve added 391 megawatts of (wind) power to our transmission system by improving grids,” Newman said. “But there’s clearly a lot more wind in the queue.”

The question then becomes whether local municipalities, some of which are reluctant to allow wind farms, will approve a project that not only brings turbines, but also new power lines. “I think that will be addressed with landowners before it would be with a town,” said David Olsen, a supervisor for the town of Magnolia, which recently passed an ordinance with half-mile setback rules for wind farms. “But if it’s something that adds onto the cost of the project, and that cost is then passed on to the consumer, it could make these projects very expensive,” Olsen said. Curt Bjurlin, Wisconsin project developer for Elgin, Ill.-based EcoEnergy Engineering LLC, said the transmission upgrades will be necessary. “Our transmission systems all over the nation, really, are antiquated,” he said. “If we’re going to continue to enjoy the resources and lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to, we will need to make changes. “And a sustainable landscape will look different from the landscape we have now.” State Sen. Jeff Plale, the South Milwaukee Democrat who authored a failed bill in the last legislative session to give the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin authority to create statewide standards for wind farm development, said he expects heated debates on the topic in the next session.

“Wind power bills will be back and in a strong way,” he said. “It’s the most readily available renewable resource we have, and if we’re talking about relying more on renewable resources, it has to be part of the mix.” Plale said he understands transmission lines will have to be built to carry increased wind power. “I was talking to a Minnesota senator who said there are 360 turbines in the southwest part of that state that are just spinning,” he said. “They’re not connected to anything. That just underscores why we have to give the PSC control to set parameters. We can’t have that debate here between people that want renewable power but don’t want lines. “You can’t have it both ways.”

Newman said figuring out how to move wind power to the state’s energy grids will slow the development of wind farms. “Certainly, we’re working closely with wind farm developers,” she said. “But we have to try to look as far ahead as we can because, in most cases, the permitting and construction process for transmission lines takes longer than it does for wind farms.” © 2008 Daily Reporter Publishing Co., All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Warren Buffet Speaks: On the "Economic Pearl Harbor"

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: CPA writes followup: re; Bailout--the lesson in civics

Students of American History should note this proud moment in the workings of the US Congress in regards to the bailout bill.
Proposed roughly 12 days ago, in a three page memo from the U.S. Treasurer, it turned into a failed 120 page House version within 8 days, followed by a passed 451 page Senate version within 4 days. Wow! Contemplative, seriously examined legislation at it's best. Thank God, it wasn't over anything important, as we all know $700,000,000,000 and granting unfettered (and probably unconstitutional) financial power isn't what it used to be.

No matter what your political persuasion, this rush to decision is an historic example of congress abdicating their oversight responsibility. Let your House Representative know what you think of it. Congress should not be for sale. 331(451 less 120) pages of pork is apparently the going bid for Congress's blessing. You can stop this. Let your Representative know.

Richard Ginnaty
8732 Knights Circle
Huntington Beach, Ca. 92646
714 962-5810

NYT: Bank Limits College Fund Access----fears rise

Click on the post for the latest.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nostalgia: 11/08/2007: OpEd: Bernanke speech: Unsettling Questions

After the canned speech, the "on the other hand" Greenspan type of neutered accounting analysis, the forum was opened up for questions.

A senator asked Bernanke whether he thought it was pretty stunning that these genius "quants" that had devised the CMO derivatives, had so little knowledge as to the valuation of their invention.

He responded that yes, it was pretty stunning. And he offered that it was because they went by the "rating" of AAA and did not do "due diligence." In a heartbeat, he had called them "negligent." I believe that the point was not missed by observers.

Then the follow up question:

"Do you know more than they do?" she asked.

Bernanke hesitated. Then he said that it was not the Federal Reserve's role to know the valuation of the holdings or whether the firms had been prudent, since it was the free market, or something to that effect.

That was not the right answer.

The bottom line: NOBODY has a handle on the total exposure of the problem. And nobody is willing to take the leadership to find out and LEAD.

So. Mr. Bernanke did say he was working on a "template" for the workout process so at the end of the day, parties would have a standard format for equitable handling of mortgage foreclosures. That was welcome.

Jim Grant, of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, hit the nail on the head when he said that nobody wants to see---it is just too painful to see the reality of the losses right in front of their nose.

Stay tuned to The Evansville Observer.

Audio: Nostalgia: 2-28-2008: Federal Reserve: Bernanke:: Rep Barney Frank speaks on Deregulation run amuk

Opening Introduction by Barney Frank: On the Essential Cause of this problem of the markets---Deregulation run amuk

MP3 File

yahoo: Finance; Time to Slash Expenses, Stash Cash

Click on the post for the article in Yahoo today.

Reuters: Fuel Shortage Grips Atlanta.

click on the post for the latest.

Original Post: May 2008: Book Beat: Who is teaching Who? Lessons for Ben Bernanke from the Observer

Well. It has been a bit unreal. The recent series of books being read in our family. First my wife began reading "Enron." After she read a paragraph silently, she would pause and say, "I just do not understand this part, could you help with it." Then she would read it aloud, and being The Observer, once having been licensed in commodities, should have been able to make sense of it----and I could not.

In school when one has a problem, one goes to the blackboard to diagram it. In the case of a long series of sham transactions and phoney shell corporations, one quickly runs out of blackboard space.

At the same time, I have been reading "Blood and Sport," the history of the Clintons during the early years---you know the ones where Hillary was trading commodities and turned a $1000 investment into $100,000. And it was very touching lately to listen to Chelsea Clinton speaking on the campaign tour, since Chelsea was conceived while Bill and Hillary were traveling in London ---on money made by trading commodities----yes. It all fits nicely together.

At the very time I was taking the commodities test, I remember being bent out of shape because of the notion of making 100,000 out of a thousand dollars was so off the wall. Till I heard the word "REFCO" as the brokers involved in her trading. (Click on the post for a recent article on Refco).

The commodites exchanges traders are not bound by insider trading rules. It is not clear to me what rules they are bound by. If you know of some, let me know. That is precisely why Chairman Ben Bernanke has proposed that the CFTC be placed under the SEC for supervision. It used to be that areas of public trust such as electricity and oil were regulated for the public trust. Now they are simply gambled for hedge fund financial joy. And then when things go skyhigh----we just blame those ethanol folks.

I do not recall if the commodity trades were ever made public that made Hillary such a great success in commodities-----however, in the matter of trading pools, i would suggest a theory of allocation that might make sense when real estate folks and politicians shared a pool-------If rich real estate investors who had passive gains were joining dirt poor politicians who needed cash, it might make sense in a quid pro world that those who needed the cash would get it, and those who needed the passive losses would get it, and then the politicians would be grateful down the road for their success. I do believe that this type of allocation has always been illegal. That being said, I would love to see the trading logs of the pool to determine what really happened.

What about Bernanke? What does this all have to do with Bernanke?

Just Pretend you are the Chairman of the Federal Reserve---You say to the banks "Give my all your worthless junk and I will give you cash." Then create more "Capital" by issuing more bonds and go forth and make more loans. Do not worry about the junk. "

Maybe it was just reading the improper books in sequence. It just seems that Ben Bernanke may have learned how to structure a banking system from the accounting system at Enron. Or maybe he learned it from the hedge funds or commodities traders.

For my part----my blackboard is just not large enough to diagram all this out. My motto has always been:

It the investment concept cannot be contained on a 3X5 index card, it is probably bogus.

yahoo: Finance: Memories of FDR: Campaign speech of 1932

Click on the post for an article in Yahoo about this speech.

CapTimes: Madison braces for Saturday Night football vs. Ohio State--the bad and the ugly side

Fan behavior, booze, and the result therof are a problem for residents around Camp Randall. Click on the post for the full story.

Mailbag: On Thoreau: On Self-Reliance: On Thoreau having his mom do his laundry

(Ed.note: Last Sunday, in conversing with "Bear Trader" he made a comment on the simple life to come if the markets came down this week, and one of the group mentioned Thoreau---and then Bear Trader made a comment about Thoreau having his mom do his laundry--which I disputed. Here is his reply:)

We were talking last Sunday about H. D. Thoreau. I made a reference to
Thoreau, while at Walden Pond, having his mother and sister do his
washing. I remember reading this in an edition of Walden. Here is the

From pages xxii and xxiv of Stephen Fender's introduction to the Oxford
World Classics edition of Walden, available at Amazon.

"The central question is, who is 'Thoreau" There is the man who wrote
Walden and the voice that talks to us out of its pages. The 'Thoreau'
inside Walden 'can do without the post office' and disparages
newspapers. But according to his contemporary, and Walden's first
editor, Frank Sanborn, 'few residents in Concord frequented the post
office more punctually or read the newspapers...more eagerly than
Thoreau'. What looks like a solitary life in the woods was nothing of
the kind. The woods themselves were sparser around Concord and Walden
than at any time before or since in the natural history of the area.
(That is why Emerson wanted Thoreau to plant new trees there.) Walden
Pond was not a wilderness, but a popular resort of the townspeople.
Thoreau did not really 'live' at Walden - more like camp out - and his
life was anything but solitary. He was continually in and out of town,
or receiving visitors at his cabin. Though on p.56 he slyly admits to
having 'dined out occasionally', in fact he ate regularly at other
people's houses in Concord in return for odd jobs. Walter Harding notes
that almost every Sunday dinner was shared with Emerson and his family,
and that on his way back from Concord to the Pond he would call in on
Edmund Hosmer, often staying for supper. Emerson's house was just over
a mile from Walden down Brister's Hill. With equal frequency Thoreau
would call in at the house of his mother and sister on Main St., a walk
of a mile and a half down the railroad tracks to Concord, to eat a meal
and get his washing and mending done, sometimes in return for odd jobs."
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