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Wisconsin Wit

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: Little Tidbits

More people listen and watch the meetings of the City of Evansville, Wi nationwide than attend the meetings in person:

More people listen and watch the sermons of local Evansville Pastors than listen locally.

More people listen and watch the meetings of the Town of Union nationally over the past year virtually than in person-Union has been a leader nationally in the definition of the problem of the setback of wind turbines from human population--the traffic has been worldwide listening.

Members of Congress have watched.

Natives in the Philippines have listened to the sermons.

When the new Transparency of the Obama Administration takes shape and uses UTUbe and podcasting to send forth to the nation the inner workings of government---they can use the Observer as one little example of how we did it locally.

Video: The Fireside Chat: Chris Eager Speaks on Economy, How UBT is responding...and more

Video: The Fireside Chat: Chris Eager, President of UB&T speaks on the economy, banking and how UB&T is responding, and has some thoughts for the community on surviving and thriving in these times.


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Dateline Normal, Mn.: In Normal, ALL the kids are rated AAA by AM Best."---FICTION

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

Wall Street Journal: 2008: "We are all Kenesians now."

Click on the post for a look back one year.

The phrase "We are all Kenesians now" is a very famous quote of Richard Nixon midst the recession of 1970.

Things are pretty clear. Last year, 2008, America was living beyond its means, with wars, credit cards, overheated housing sector,.....and in 2009 we are pledged to bail everybody out----the key distinction seems to be that massive overspending in the new year on items that will not create jobs on a continuing basis rather than pork barrel basis is still good, whereas all that a year ago was bad.

Kind of a timewarp. Stay tuned.
A supressed outake from Christmas.


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Water and Light Meeting for New Years Eve Cancelled--make other plans.

NOTICE

Water & Light Committee Meeting
Regular Meeting
Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Due to a lack of pressing business, the December 31, 2008, Water & Light Committee regular meeting is CANCELLED.

The next regular meeting will be at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, at the Water & Light Shop 15 Old Highway 92.

Gazette: The Rising Cost of Municipal Charges---

Click on the post for the latest.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Video: Christmas: Fr. Dooley's Christmas Story

Click on the post for the mediafly podcast of Fr. Dooley's classic Christmas story ( three videos) from Christmas Day, St. Paul's Church, Evansville as well as the Musical Bonus of George and Jacob Wollinger in two songs. Click on the screen size on the right to get full screen. Enjoy.

BREAKING: Mary Beaver, Evansville, Chosen to Replace Art Phillips on County Board

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Tradesman Stocking----with wrench --classic from Duluth Trading

 
Posted by Picasa
Christmas Day; St. Paul's Church: George Wollinger with son Jacob making musical debut at St. Paul's.


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Musical Debut: George Wollinger and Jacob Wollinger----Christmas Day---St. Paul's Church--Evansville, Wi.


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Video: Pub Works: Dec. 22, 2008: ( 3 of 3) Presentation of Wastewater Treatment Plan by Evansville City Engineer Dave Sauer


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Video; 2 of 3; Dave Sauer, Evansville City Engineer reviews Wastewater Treatment Plant Plan prior to public hearing.


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Video: (1 of 3)Dave Sauer, Evansville City Engineer, presents proposal for Wastewater treatment plant, three videos.


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Public Works Meets TODAY_-- Monday--Dec. 22nd----Wastewater Treatment on Agenda

Click on the post for the full agenda.
Audio: Public Works Committee: Monday, Dec 22, 2008: Dave Sauer Discusses the new Evansville Waste Water Treatment Plant and current cost proposal and timeline.


MP3 File

WSJ: Journal Carrier dies from Hypothermia in Green County

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Dream: What to do with the empty GM Plant

(ed note: a reader had a dream about the GM plant and sent it our way.)

The clock has finally struck midnight on GM in Janesville, now what to do with the buildings that are glaring reminders of the past. I have my thoughts, I wonder if anyone else was thinking the same thing?

As far as future plans for the GM plant, since they accepted the public's money, the city of Janesville should be able to have use of the facilities.

I think a Willy Wonka experience theme park is a guilty pleasure all of us would love. I bet the city could hire Milwaukee native Gene Wilder as a Tour Guide. Then, with all the leftover robotics and tooling, a new and improved Wonkavator could be constructed for the premium tour patrons.

Since Janesville would need to get the word out about this new theme park, why not a throwback golden ticket contest for the chance to be the first people to go on the tour. I'm thinking, put them in the property tax bill. It sure would be nice to feel like Charlie Bucket did when you open that envelope! The city of Janesville and Rock county for that matter, need something to get excited about.

I'm not sure what to do about the Oompa Loompas, I think Verne Troyer or Wee-Man would fill the void, if not, what's Danny Devito done lately?

I have a bad feeling that without this theme park there will be a lot of Grandpa Joe's and Grandma Josephine's, pre-golden ticket, in the Janesville area. This is my dream, but most of all, I bet old Slugworth would give his false teeth to have an chance at having a theme park.

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mailbag: Zweizig responds to Wis. State Journal On wind and NIMBY----

(ed.note; Reprinted with permission is the response of Mr Doug Zweizig of the Town of Union Plan Commission on the assertion by the Wisconsin State Journal last week that the State of Wisconsin should proceed to overturn or sidestep the ordinances of local townships that establish setbacks for wind turbines to protect human health as simply NIMBY politics----The Town of Union has been a leader nationally in the investigation of the effects of wind noise on human health. )

From: dougzweizig@hotmail.com
To: smilfred@madison.com
Subject: response to editorial
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2008 19:39:33 +0000

Dear Mr. Milford,

The editorial, "Give wind farms a fair shake," in the December 12 WSJ misses the story regarding wind farms. By relying on wind industry and Public Service Commission sources, the editorial writers missed the injury to humans from sound produced by large wind turbines, a phenomenon that can be experienced by typing in "wind turbines" on Youtube. If Youtube videos are not persuasive, Brownsville and other sites can be visited.


As a member of a Town's Plan Commission, I have learned that the Public Service Commission failed in its duty to protect the citizens of Wisconsin by relying on wind industry lobbyists and producing a Model Ordinance dictated by them. The result is that local governments have had to do the Public Service Commission's job by doing thorough research and in creating ordinances, at considerable local expense, that protect the health and safety of their residents. The injurious sound produced by large wind turbines is not blocked by walls and is only mitigated by distance from the turbines. A distance of a half a mile appears to be the minimum required to avoid negative effects.


Characterizing the protection of citizens as simply self-interested NIMBY demonstrates ignorance of the issues. It is disappointing that the Wisconsin State Journal, a newspaper that prides itself on seeking out information, would base an editorial on such superficial and interested sources.
Best regards,
Doug Zweizig

Doug Zweizig 6037 N. Finn Road Evansville, WI 53536 608-882-4225

------------------------------

Here is the article from the WSJ:

THU., DEC 11, 2008 - 6:10 PM
Give wind farms a fair chance
A Wisconsin State Journal editorial
Wisconsin cannot afford to let the statewide interest in developing wind farms be frustrated by communities that adopt a "not in my backyard" attitude.

That's why the state should develop reasonable wind farm siting standards to guide and limit local government regulation of wind farms and to provide an avenue of appeal for developers.

Links
• NEWS ARTICLE: Wind over water

The goal should be to prohibit the "not in my backyard" disease known as NIMBYism while preserving local authority to restrict or reject wind farms when warranted.

Recent proposals to erect wind turbines on and near the Great Lakes demonstrate that it's in the public interest to take advantage of wind power. Wind power is expected to meet 90 percent of Wisconsin's goal to more than double the renewable energy contribution to electric needs over the next six years.

When developers propose wind farms of more than 100 megawatts in size they face a rigorous review from the state Public Service Commission, which protects both the public interest in regulation and the interest in wind power.

However, small wind farm developers fall outside the PSC's jurisdiction and are left to local regulation. Too often, they are blocked by unreasonable restrictions.

Local governments are frequently cowed into imposing impossible-to-meet requirements, or even moratoriums, after opponents raise alarming concerns, commonly based on misinformation.

Trempeleau County, for example, in 2007 adopted a wind power ordinance requiring turbines to be set back at least a mile from any neighboring residence, school, hospital or business. The ordinance effectively banned turbines.

The Legislature should step in. The Sensible Wind Siting Bill, which failed to pass earlier this year, offered a sound solution.

The bill -- proposed by Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, and Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay -- required the PSC to issue model rules specifying what restrictions local governments can impose on wind farms. Furthermore, the bill granted developers a right to appeal a local decision to the PSC.

The adoption of similar legislation should be a top priority for lawmakers in 2009.

Wisconsin should not let NIMBYism harm the public interest in a clean, renewable source of electricity.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Video: The U of Minn Marching Band will be going to the Champ Bowl in Arizona; This is a clip of the warm up for the "thriller segment" of the half time performance. Stay tuned.


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Minn: Pioneer Press: Gov. Pawlentry plans cuts to Cities, Higher Ed, Health Services

The governor of Minnesota has announced his plan for cuts----and they will affect aid to the cities and counties scheduled for Dec. 26th. They will also include a take back of some 40 million previously approved for the University of Minnesota. Click on the post for the full story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

How will Wisconsin deal with its shortfall---Will Wisconsin also cut aid to cities that will increase local property taxes?

Stay tuned.

NYT: Japan as the Role Model?

It took Japan using these methods a decade to recover from their severe recession. How long will it take the US? Stay tuned.

Pioneer Press: Wisconsin Oversight of Independent Contracts -----unfunded, lax, and much more

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

AWARE: Julie Hermanson speaks of the Holiday Gift Campaign.---Make AWARE a part of your giving plan this Christmas

Julie Hermanson of Aware Agency, a program of Community Action, Inc. gives an update of the Snackpacker program as well as the Holiday gift campaign that is coming up and holiday activities.


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The Madoff Scandall: Observer "Shocked and continuing to Monitor developments"

Recently someone asked me what I thought of the Madoff scandal that has been the largest Ponzi scheme of history---to which I felt obligated, since the rest of the nation or at least the fashionable country club set of New York, has been using the tailored text of a local PR agency and responded----"Naturally I am shocked and am continuing to monitor developments."

This deft phrasing gives me the aura of having been associated in a subtle way with the moxie of the country club set, and yet reveals no details. Of course, my dear readers know that the ideas of the Observer much less investments do not come from locker room talk at country clubs....clearly.

Still you have to wonder. Here is a guy that year after year promised returns in the 8.5% range even though others struggled. That could have been the first clue---but was it... or IS it?

This phrasing was identical to the phrasing of the Overture Fund the last time they refused to follow the advice of our Madison Mayor---they claimed to have someone who could get 8.5% returns---OH ya, that was Bernie Madoff.

On Peace; On Holiday Shopping: A mostly True Story

Last week, in working up a story on the Christmas shopping trends, I was browsing a Madison store, and indeed purchasing something---or waiting in a long line to purchase something in the men's section.

The woman ahead of me was purchasing one of the hottest items of the season. A ball cap ear band for a man, and some merino wool socks for a woman. As she finally got to the register, she asked the cashier:

"This ball cap ear band comes in two sizes, a M/L and a XL/ XXL. This thing is for a guy, and I just assume that the M/L is for the women since I assume all the guys have the big heads."

The sales clerk just paused and said nothing.

Then the customer turned to me next in line.....and said:

"You're a guy. It's the guys that are the big headed ones. Is that not so?"

As the woman had asked the question, her voice had rose, and a group of shoppers had stopped to listen to the answer. I said:

"Well, in my national survey, I think it is pretty evenly distributed who has the bigger heads, so I think you have to go with your feelings on this one."

"That's just what I thought she said----and purchased the larger size.

See. Right in the middle of a peaceful activity like purchasing a gift, one can walk into a landmine that might have touched off a little frenzy over who has the larger heads, women or men.

As the Observer, I have taken some ribbing that I just look for controversy----but see. Right here. I proved that thesis wrong. Right in the middle of a landmine in a shopping line, I can step aside nicely thank you.

Make a note of it.

Mailbag: Mr. Connors responds on Tax Question

(Ed.note: This was a comment post that I have brought forward for better visibility.)



I’ll try to answer these questions, Observer. Others can chime in if they disagree with me or want to refine my answers.

The property tax bill we just received was based on your property’s assessed value as of January 1, 2008. Any increase in the value of your property shown on this tax bill would have been between January 1, 2007, and January 1, 2008, and thus would not reflect what happened to house values during 2008. However, if you are like most people, your assessed value was the same on January 1, 2008, as it was on January 1, 2007, because there was no city-wide reassessment. If your assessed value did not increase, then the property tax increase you see had nothing to do with any change in value of your house.

Your tax bill probably shows that your estimated fair market value increased from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2008, but that has no significant impact on your property taxes. The “net assessed value rate” (also known as the mill rate) is applied to your property’s assessed value to calculate your property tax, not to the estimated fair market value.

If your assessed value did not change, your property tax increased this year because the local governments—the technical college district, school district, county, and city—increased your property taxes. The amount by which each of these units increased your property taxes this year is listed on the right-hand side of the bill. On my bill, it shows the technical college district increased my property tax 5.3%, the school district increased it by 12.2%, the county increased it 3.0%, and the city increased it 4.4%. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time the City of Evansville has increased its mill rate by more than a tiny amount in many years—since back before I was the city administrator.

On last year’s property tax bill, the net assessed value rate was .0227 (with rounding). On this year’s property tax bill, it is .0243 (with rounding). That resulted in a property tax increase (before credits) of 7.0%. Again, this increase was because the local governments decided they needed to increase your property taxes.

Bill Connors

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gazette: Blogs: Duwe announces Depression Audio Project

The same folks that brought you the WWII audio memories are working on an audio Great Depression memories. Click on the post for the latest from Gina Duwe.

Nostalgia: March 2007: Why the Theory of the Frozen Tundra Failed? The Minn Viking Love Boat Cruise

(ed note: Time flies. I still think tango dancing might relieve some of the burden of football as total diversion.)

Because The Observer is a native Minnesotan who grew up on the sailboat lake, White Bear Lake, and married the girl from the powerboat lake, Lake Minnetonka, I believe I am in a perfect position to explain the problem that the recent love boat cruise or "team building" outing of the Minnesota Vikings presents to local Minnesota voters.

The "Theory of the Frozen Tundra," a rare and lost text, explains that true virtue is inversely proportional to weather. The colder it is, the more Satan and all his pomps is destroyed. Time and time again in my youth it was instilled in me that the below zero weather of Minnesota was good for me. It caused wandering souls to come home early. It caused those with loose morals not to come to Minnesota in the first place. In summary, cold weather plus high taxes equal high virtue. This was the land of Lake Wobegon. Garrison Keillor country. Where all the folks were bright--------- and all schools had seven valedictorians. Anyway. Thus, my mother in law can tease me that my sketches are from Lake Woe--begotten. True Virtue is Lake Wobegon or Viking country, and Packerland is Lake Woe--begotten. You catch the ideology.

Thus the love boat scandal of the Minnesota Vikings comes as quite a blow to the citizens of the frozen tundra. What went wrong?

Click on the post for the view of Tom Powers. He feels that only if all the Viking sinners are purged and the righteous Viking reserves are elevated to starting positions will peace be restored in Minnesota. That would certainly be nice for the Packers on Christmas Eve.

It seems to the Observer that all sports, music, and all arts, are "divertido" in Spanish or "diversion" in English. It seems that since the realities of life....war..social discord...economic struggle...loss... are so difficult that we are completely dependent on diversion to numb the pain. Thus, a college student cannot walk from class to class without an ipod or a cell phone in the ear. Not possible to interact..Must block it..thank you. So.. it seems to me we have placed too high a burden on football to deliver us from the anguish. Who wants to deal with Wisconsin if the Packers lose? Not me. Yes there is hope if the Badgers win, but if both lose...God forbid.

In short, we need a new balance. Maybe a new diversion. Maybe tango dancing. We cannot keep relying on football for the Total Deliverance.

Point-Counterpoint: Bear Trader talks on Risk; Hedging: The "Law" of Large Numbers

The Observer wrote to Bear Trader:

> (Insurance folks, option traders, and "hedge folks") describe with some reverence, the "law of numbers" that insurance, or the passing of risk, depends on.
> In reflecting on this, I have looked up the law in wikipedia:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_large_numbers
> and have thought back to the Oct 1986 plunge when a broker asked a technical guru in New York what the charts looked like--to which th eguru replied: In a time of panic, the chartes are meaningless and do not apply....


> the Law of number thus, it seems to me, says that risk can be determined in a large set, if one assumes that only a few items of the set are losses and the pool can effectively distribute the loss among everyone-----the law of numbers does not say that in a time of generalized depression and deflation, that the total risk can be hedged---it cannot be---Indeed the history of mutual funds in bear markets has shown that distributing money around many of plunging funds results in plunging results.,.,,,,,,


> Indeed, when one considers that the Life insurance industry uses commerical real estate investments matched to the life expectancy of their life pool, one would surmise that all the reporting of A Best etc, etc, is simply bogus at this time.
> So---does the, did the, will the....law of numbers bail us out if simple faith and proper ratios of indebtedness does not?
> Talk to me.
> The Observer
>----------------------------
Dear Observer.

Yeah, this "law of numbers" you are getting pushed at you is an argument used by insurance companies to show that they are cool. It seems they claim an algorithmic model, computer model, mathematical model, same things, based on this "rule of large numbers". And, of course, as in so much computer modeling people are use the model wrongly, or don't understand anything about it, or the model has been hopelessly screwed up at it's foundation. I think what we are seeing is a wrong understanding of the idea of "random number".

I have had really very frustrating exchanges with people who have way more than enough math to know better on the web about the nature of "random numbers". They are just wildly screwed up.

My interest in random numbers arose in cryptography, and in the idea that a cryptographic system can be shown to be harder to attack by analysis than with a brute force exhaustive password search. Essentially, if this is true, a large bulk of encrypted materials when examined as elements an array, (that is, value #1, value #2, value #3, value#5.....,value the last), where, say, there are a million new values coming into your analysis system every day and maybe a billion values in your database, so "value the last" is some "value the trillionth", have to be indistinguishable from an array of random numbers.

(A brute force attack on the password can be a chore. Let's say that the password is less than 501 qwerty characters, then the total possibilities are about one followed by 1204 zeros. At one million attacks per second then the attack will exhaust the possibilities in about one followed by 1196 zeros years. If you started at the beginning of time with a trillion processors making a trillion attacks every second then you would still have one followed by 1181 zeros years left to go. Numbers this big are most easily dealt with with logarithms.)

So, back to random numbers. The "law of large numbers" is the (looks to me to be unprovable) idea that a string, an array, a series, of random numbers existing within an upper and lower value bound will tend toward a constant median value, and as the array gains more elements with time the median of ALL the elements will tend to be "closer" to a constant median value.

The problem, of course, is whether the data values in the array are random. If they are not random then the law of large numbers does not apply. Further, if the data values "cluster" around the median in a bell curve sort of way, then the series is and never has been random.

Proving a number series is random, by the way, is impossible. Sometimes it is possible to prove that a number series is not random though.. Google "tests of randomness". It is therefore bogus to use the "law of large numbers" in writing insurance. More accurate, and more like what actuaries use, are trend following curve fitted models. You take the birth, death, astrology charts, interest rates, whatever-you-like-time-series, as data and force a curve fit using matrix algebra, and hope that you have found the independent variables (which you won't have). Independent variables are hard to find. Even when variables correlate over some time interval, or don't, is not a very good clue. Sometimes when you find good independent variables "The Brass" don't like the models built on them (like what caused the recent credit crash). My own experience is that people fear, and therefore hate, the truth generally. After all, reality is just so darn INTRUSIVE!!

Mailbag; Reader asks about taxes-----

"Dear Observer"---:


I am hoping you will publish an article about the recent property tax bills for the year 2008. Upon reading my bill I noticed a couple of issues with it. The first issue was the most concerning. As you and the rest of country know (except those in Evansville City government) housing values across the country are on the decline. So my question is why oh why would some one any believe that property in this city is worth more today than it was last year. Not to mention to the tune of 10k more... there have been no improvements to the property but yet my tax bill was increased significantly in a market that value is steadily decreasing. Sounds like fancy book keeping to me. On to my next issue, the mil rate, .024 does any one know what it was last year? I thought it was .021, was there yet another increase?
I would love to see a article with the above questions answered.
Thanks

OpEd: Reflection: Is Michigan just a lost Historical District?

Last week something remarkable happened---our US Congress asked the automakers to draw up a business plan that showed how saving the current industry made business sense----that action made the CEO's scurry to their private jets and head back to Michigan.

The bottom line of of the recent events might be that only a bankruptcy court can void the necessary contracts, void the compensation programs for the current ineffective executive staff, and fashion a new vision, of what a non-gasoline based, green, eco-friendly, and sustainable auto industry might look like.

Recently both the auto workers UAW heads and the company heads were heard to mutter, "Not me, Mom" just like two kids in kindergarten-----the situation is way beyond the blame game. It is about painful and quick change, and it will happen soon.

One pundit was heard to mutter lately that maybe one should create a giant historical museum, under the Smithsonian I presume, and mothball a giant area of Detroit for the lost historical site---and bring tourists to see it. Of course they would pay admission. Recently in our fair city, the notion of looking for lost historical districts has gained fashion---the idea is that if one assumes that one is of value and an esteemed destination that people have forgotten to visit---then it follows that one must search for a lost historical district to preserve as a major area of economic development. Hence---maybe we should just mothball Detroit---and place the new high tech automobile development somewhere far, far away where labor and management can begin again--fresh.

yahoo: Weather: More Snow Coming-----

Watches and Warnings
Evansville Forecast

/O.CON.KMKX.WS.A.0010.081219T0000Z-081219T1800Z/
MARQUETTE-GREEN LAKE-FOND DU LAC-SHEBOYGAN-SAUK-COLUMBIA-DODGE-
WASHINGTON-OZAUKEE-IOWA-DANE-JEFFERSON-WAUKESHA-MILWAUKEE-
LAFAYETTE-GREEN-ROCK-WALWORTH-RACINE-KENOSHA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...MONTELLO...BERLIN...FOND DU LAC...
SHEBOYGAN...BARABOO...PORTAGE...WISCONSIN DELLS...BEAVER DAM...
WEST BEND...PORT WASHINGTON...DODGEVILLE...MADISON...JEFFERSON...
LAKE MILLS...WAUKESHA...BROOKFIELD...MILWAUKEE...DARLINGTON...
MONROE...JANESVILLE...BELOIT...ELKHORN...LAKE GENEVA...RACINE...
KENOSHA
349 AM CST WED DEC 17 2008

...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING
THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING...

A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING
THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.

A POWERFUL WINTER SYSTEM WILL GATHER STRENGTH OVER THE CENTRAL
PLAINS ON THURSDAY...THEN TRACK ACROSS NORTHERN MISSOURI...
REACHING NORTHERN INDIANA BY FRIDAY MORNING. THIS IS A CLASSIC
STORM TRACK FOR HEAVY SNOW ACROSS SOUTHERN WISCONSIN. WIDESPREAD
SNOW WILL DEVELOP LATE THURSDAY AFTERNOON AND BECOME HEAVY AT
TIMES THURSDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY FRIDAY MORNING. THE SNOW WILL
TAPER OFF LATE FRIDAY MORNING.

SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 12 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE...WITH THE
HEAVIEST AMOUNTS ALONG AND NORTH OF A LINE FROM DODGEVILLE TO
MILWAUKEE. ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE...WHICH MAY
ENHANCE THE SNOWFALL TOTALS IN LOCALIZED AREAS. LOCATIONS NEAR THE
ILLINOIS BORDER SHOULD SEE A MIX OF SLEET...FREEZING RAIN AND SNOW
DURING THE EVENING...BEFORE CHANGING OVER TO ALL SNOW. THIS WILL
LIKELY CUT DOWN ON SNOWFALL TOTALS SOMEWHAT.

IN ADDITION TO THE HEAVY PRECIPITATION...STRENGTHENING EAST TO
NORTHEAST WINDS OF 15 TO 20 MPH...WITH HIGHER GUSTS...WILL PRODUCE
AREAS OF BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.

A WINTER STORM WATCH IS ISSUED WHEN HEAVY SNOW...AND/OR SLEET...
AND/OR FREEZING RAIN MAY COMBINE WITH STRONG WINDS TO CAUSE MAJOR
IMPACTS TO COMMERCE AND SOCIETY. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST
FORECASTS FOR UPDATES AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yahoo: New Credit Card Rules coming Thursday

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag: Matt Gaboda Writes:

Matt Gaboda has left a new comment on your post "Video: Finance: City Administrator Dan Wietecha ...": Even though this particular case was rightfully denied based on the information presented by Mr. W, I think the bigger question lurks in the form of the houses which were recently added to the floodplain.

Based on what Mr. Connors wrote recently in the Observer, my take is that since only a minority of houses are going to be devalued in Evansville due to the newly discovered flood plain, they should be eligible for a reduced assessment, and therefore lower property taxes.

The concept of this "flood plain" is a joke. It is highly unfortunate that even though the city had and has been constantly informed of negligent development, they continued to approve residential construction in areas where no person with an ounce of common sense would have.The "floodplain" that was created, yes created, around S. 6th St. was man made. What did the city think would happen when you develop the lowest spot around and try to ask water to defy gravity. Last time I check, a glacier hadn't rolled through Evansville in the last five years. Nothing changed. What did they think would happen when the bottom of a soup bowl was developed?

The flood plain in that area is not a modern day wonder of the world, but a showcase of greed, ignorance, tolerance, and lack of governance. I further reason that due to the cities involvement with approving housing in highly questionable areas, they should credit every homeowner who purchased a home in the "floodplain", before it was discovered. The amount of mandatory flood insurance should be credited to the unsuspecting, trusting, and misrepresented homeowners who now are forced to perpetually clean up after the party.

The city of Evansville has no business approving subdivision siting, they have a terrible track record with housing development.Dave Sauer has had a chance to stand up and resist this also, but then again, he needs job security.Dave Wartenweiler could have sounded the alarm back in 2001, instead, he just kept on giving the thumbs up.

Janis Ringhand knew about this as Mayor but continued to help approve development on Ringhand property.

Jennifer Petruzzello could have done more to remedy this situation, I contacted her about this starting in 1-03.

The City Council who approved Abey-Koth could have asked more questions, or any questions for that matter.I hold the city responsible for all things problematic when it comes to development. They choose to approve, oversee, permit, support and tax these developments. They should be held financially accountable when they mislead the public and all they can do for the unfortunate residents is kick them when they're down.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Video: I&E: Gary Smith speaks of "These Unprecedented Times.


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Video: Short Background of Gary Smith of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center Network who spoke at the I&E Club meeting on December 10, 2008 in Evansville, Wi.


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Video: Inventors and Entrapeneurs Club meeting 12-10-2008: Eric reviews puspose of the Evansville Club and invites members of the community to join.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Audio: I&E Club: Dec 10, 2008; Gary Smith, Center Director of Wisconsin Small Business Development Center Network: "Surviving and Thriving in Business in Turbulent Times


MP3 File

I and E Meeting: Dec 10th--TONIGHT

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release – December 5, 2008

Contact: Dan Wietecha City of Evansville
(608) 882- 2263 office
(608) 751-9811 cell


Evansville I&E Club Meeting: Gary M. Smith Guest Speaker
Evansville, WI – On December 10, 2008, the Evansville Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club (I&E) will host the club’s second meeting at Hagen Insurance Agency in Evansville , 15 North Madison Street , 6:30 - 8:30 PM. The guest speaker will be Gary M. Smith, Director and Business Counselor of the Southwest Wisconsin Small Business Development Center , University of Wisconsin – Platteville. His topic will be, “Running a Successful Business during an Economic Downturn.”

Since July 2005, Mr. Smith has provided free counseling to business owners, entrepreneurs and would be business owners in private, confidential sessions. Approximately 200 new clients are counseled by the SWSBDC each year.

Mr. Smith has over 25 years of experience in business, 10 as a private business consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and 15 as a manager in manufacturing. He has worked for and consulted with businesses from the manufacturing, retail and service industries. Working with start-ups, small, large and international businesses, Smith’s experience includes operations, operations planning and process improvement projects, and supply chain management as well as assisting clients in the development of strategic business plans, marketing plans and customer service plans.
Evansville ’s I&E Club hosts not just inventors and entrepreneurs, but welcomes established businesses, new businesses, and investors. Most importantly the Club will provide an environment to cooperatively collaborate.

If you are interested in participating in this free and professionally supportive club please join us, December 10, 2008, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at Hagen Insurance Agency, 15 North Madison Street , Evansville , Wisconsin . You do not need to have an invention or currently be an entrepreneur to participate. Join us and network with like-minded individuals - share resources, exchange ideas, and be mentored. You never know who you may meet and what you could learn!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Video: Finance: 12/4/2008: Evansville amends fee schedule; Discussion


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Video: Finance Committee: 12/4/2008: Municipal Judge salary discussed


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Office Hours; Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin: Tomorrow in Evansville

Good Morning,

Helen Forbeck, Field Representative for Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin will be holding Office Hours on behalf of the Congresswoman in Evansville tomorrow Wednesday, December 10 th. Please stop by if you have any need for help with the federal government or if you have questions or comments about legislation, federal grants or doing work with the federal government.


Wednesday, December 10 th
Video: Finance: City Administrator Dan Wietecha explains motion to recommend to Common Council denial of petition to reassess 566 Vision lower----


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Gazette: Gifted and Talented Cuts in Janesville?

Click on the post for the story in the Gazette.

Channel 3000: Evansville Schools Closed.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nostalgia: 2005: What Oliphant Said----

Click on the post for an oldie but goodie from Thomas Oliphant in July 2005 in the New York Times.

Mpls: Twin Cities Hospitals Cut 613 jobs

Click on the post for the latest.

Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candlelighting to be held Dec 14th

Candle Lighting Held to Honor Children Who Have Died
The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting to remember children who have died and the families who grieve them, will be held Dec. 14 from 7-8 p.m. Anyone who has lost a child of any age, knows someone who has lost a child, or would like to show support for a family who has is invited to burn a candle during that hour.
The Worldwide Candle Lighting has been held annually since 1997 and takes place each year on the second Sunday in December. The event is held to unite families and friends around the world as they light candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age of any cause. Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the Worldwide Candle Lighting creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.
The Compassionate Friends is an organization established to assist families toward the positive resolution of their grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. More on the mission and principles of the organization can be found at the group’s Web site: www.compassionatefriends.org.
The site also lists services that will take place in locations around the world to coincide with the Worldwide Candle Lighting. For those who would like to attend a service, St. Dennis Catholic Church, located at 505 Dempsey Rd. in Madison, will host a Candle Lighting service beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Evansville Common Council meets Tuesday--6:30PM

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Evansville School Board Meets Tonight---5:30PM--New Board Member sworn in

Click on the post for the full agenda.

StarTribune: "The Crash of Trash"

The economics of recycling has tanked. Click on the post for the story.

WSJ: Madison Commercial Real Estate Inventory

Click on the post for the months outstanding.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Audio;Video; Reflections of The Observer now on Mediafly nationwide

Episodes of the Evansville Observer audio version are now distributed nationwide on mediafly. Click for a sample.

NYT: Will the News be outsourced---and bloggers too?

Click on the post for an interesting article.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Common Council Meets Next Tuesday---Dec. 9th

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Mailbag: Mr. Connors Writes: Re Assessment:

If houses in one part of the city have been damaged by a flood, then yes, they clearly should be reassessed. If everyone's houses have decreased in value roughly the same percentage, then it would be a waste of time and money to reassess everyone, because it would have no impact on anyone's property taxes. The property tax rate is determined by the tax levy (total dollars) divided by the total assessed value of all property in the city.

If the assessed value of all property goes down by the same percentage, the total tax base goes down, the rate goes up, and everyone ends up paying the same amount. Similarly, if all houses increase in value about the same percentage, increasing the assessments has no impact on how much property tax anyone pays. There are only two things that can affect your property tax: the property tax levies set by the local governments during their budget processes, and a reassessment that changes your houses value differently than most other properties in the same jurisdiction. If you want to pay less in property taxes, focus on the local governments' budgets and levies, not on the assessments.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

yahoo; Europeans cut interest rates sharply---

click on the post for the latest.

NYTimes; The Fund that broke the buck---the continuing story

Holders of this legendary money market fund are faced with a difficult choice---click on the post to read what it is.

Gazette: Polls: 60% of poll think services should be cut to solve State Deficit

click on the post for the latest.

FT: Push Mortgage Rates lower?

There was a day last week when mortgage rate on the 30 years mortgages fluctuated a point in like 48 hours---stay tuned. The mortgages rates may go lower according to this article in the Financial Times. Click on the post.
Video: Finance Committee: 12/4/2008: Council President Mason Braunschweig discusses qualifications of new city planner.


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Audio: 12/4/2008: Finance commttee denies lower assessment request for home purchased from foreclosure. Says technical process reasons dictate no other outcome.


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Audio: Finance Committee: 12/4/2008 Municipal judge salary discussed.


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Audio: Finance: Committee discusses new city planner, Mason reviews his experience.


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Dateline Mpls/St. Paul: Major Cuts Hit KSTP Radio/TV

Click on the post for the latest.

OpEd: Christmas Shopping Profile--2008

The Elves of the Observer have noticed in the Christmas retail trade, the following: Shoppers are reviewing their lists, looking for deals....and waiting, waiting, waiting.

Secondly, shoppers are paying from debit rather than credit cards, or...are paying with cash.

Thirdly----- if there is no deal....there is no deal.......

Finally......shoppers appear to be buying for themselves, not others. That is a little striking I suppose. In the catalog business, it would be shipping to another address, or buying gift cards etc, . It may be that shoppers just have not gotten in the mood yet, or are waiting for the end to get the best deal. The latter is my hunch.

The waiting for the last moment is a bad prospect for retailers who hope to survive this year Christmas. Many have off loaded merchandise to liquidators rather than fill their back rooms that are already stuffed to the gills. Some retailers have already notified their employees of the end of their employment at the end of the Christmas season.

This is a huge game of "chicken"----how low will retailers take the price? and when. Are they already beyond survival? We will know shortly. Stay tuned.

Breaking: Gazette: Evansville Applicants rejected for Rock County Board

Click on the post for the story in the Gazette.

Will Evansville Finance deny lower assessment petition?

On the agenda for tonight's finance committee meeting at Evansville City Hall is the following item:

"New Business:A. Motion to recommend to Common Council disallowance of Claim for Excessive Assessment at 566 Vision Drive.

"Some years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with our former assesor, and asked her about this matter. I said;

"If one can assume that value goes up and down, what are the obligations of the assessor to review or reassess a property if due to flood, or adverse happenings, the proerty value goes down---there appears to be no interest on the part of the government, the banks, the mortgage secondary market, the insurers,....or anyone...to reassess a property lower. Where is the imputus to reassess lower."

She paused for a moment,....then replied:

"'An assessor has an ethical obligation to reassess lower---it is part of the ethical obligations of the job"

To which I replied:

"Good. I look forward to seeing it."

Stay tuned. Finance meets tonight at City Hall.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Newsbiz Corner: Ad revenues plunge in 3rd Quarter----

Click on the post for the story from CNBC. Even online ad revenue was down. It makes one wonder who will pay the bills, or the reporters. Maybe robots will write someday. Stay tuned.

Snow Corner: Evansville Weather Advisory

Look for some snow. Click on the post for the advisory.

Pioneer Press: St. Paul/Mpls: Layoffs at AM WCCO----

WCCO, Channel 4--home of classic Steve Cannon and the gang in morning drive time in the days of yesteryear has announced layoffs-----click on the post for the story.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mailbag: Ginnaty CPA Writes: On Fed Logic...and much more

}
}Dear Observer:


"The latest from the Fed. seems ludicrous to me:

Step 1: Some Big Banks get in trouble.
Step 2: Fed determines the troubled banks are too big to fail so props them up with capital infusion (ie. Bailout money)
Step 3: Fed also gives it's credit rating to troubled banks notes getting them AAA rates while non troubled banks have to get by with their AA rating...at a substantial cost difference.
Step 4: Fed says "let the lending begin" and if effect goes around the banking system to lend directly (ala AIG etc.) Financial logic in action: If you are a good, well managed bank, you

a) Don't get any Fed bailout money
b) You have to pay higher bond interest than the troubled, poorly managed banks
c) The troubled poorly managed banks have cheaper money so they can beat your loan pricing.

I think it is called Fedlogic: Make it harder for well managed banks to compete with the losers, this fosters...ah...rewarding poor managers, and punishing the good ones. A prescription for a repeat performance if there ever was one. Rich

WSJ: Evansville Native, Smalley, to lead Wisconsin State Journal

Click on the post for the story.

Evansville prepares to hire veteran planner---John Stockham

Click on the post for the resume of John Stockham who the Finance Committee may recommend on Thursday night to be hired as planner for Evansville. Stay tuned.

Reflection: Founding Brothers Revisted----2009---Robert Rubin and Paul Volker---a duo to behold

Some years ago I had the pleasure of observing as my daughter read about the founding Fathers of our country---and the thesis of Mr. Ellis that the rivalry and competition between the very strong headed men who were our founders, turned out to be a strength.

Flip ahead---and indeed even the rivals were celebrated in the biographyof Lincoln by Doris Goodwin as a Band of Rivals that was present. However, after the details were all fleshed out, it always seemed to me that Grant's victories seemed to do more cementing of the team than anything, and the real success of Pres. Lincoln was only in the very last year.

So---As the new economic team for President Obama takes shape with the new Rivals being Robert Rubin, fresh off the bloom of being the architect of Citicorp which faced bankruptcy due to his leadership, and a staunch believer in the absence of any regulation, the very belief that has caused the current grief---Robert is going to be sitting at the table of rivals with Paul Volker---hero of those memorable years when interest rates were raised to dicipline the rambant inflationary times of yore.

I mentioned this train of thought to "Bear Trader" after church on Sunday----to which he replied; "Even Stalin had a team of rivals---and they all ended up killing each other---so there are some big limitations to the success track record of the "theory of team of rivals."

Stay tuned. This new team of rivals should be exciting.

Plan Commission Ponders Advertising in Parks: 12-1-2008: Doubleclick to enlarge


Evansville Finance Committee Meets Thursday, Dec. 4th---new City Planner on agenda

Click on the post for the details.