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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nostalgia: Video; Evansville School Board: Mr. Pierick speaks: The Observer Salutes the Service of Michael Pierick as Evansville School Board President

Video; Evansville School Board; Monday, March 15, 2010: Mr. Pierick speaks: "Just Say NO"----the math of taking all the Brodhead Open enrollment students does not add up---it causes Evansville Taxpayers to ante up about $4000 per student taken, in a situation where Brodhead taxpayers pay less than Evansville residents, and in addition it exhausts the physical resources of the schools.

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Bloomberg Sues ECB over Greece Hidden Borrowings: UK Telegraph

The bond saga unfolds. Click on the post.

Peace and Best Wishes for the Holidays

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mailbag: Bear Trader reflects on a bond panic; on renouncing pensions etc; and holiday wishes

(Ed.note: The Bear Trader is a regular contributor to the Evansville Observer, and his comments are bearish even when giving Holiday Wishes. His bearish views are never to be considered investment advice.)

Notice that Pimco Total Return made a hell of a drop Dec. 8 and has not recovered. Dec.8 took out all the moving averages, including the 400 day SMA, and did so big time. Dec.3 PTTRX was 11.50, Dec. 8 was 10.80, a 6% drop in three trading days. This has never happened before. PTTRX is by far the largest bond fund. Some stability since, see wise crack.

MMT took out the 200 day EMA Dec. 13. Looks to be recovering, maybe. Looks like the FRB (Federal Reserve Board) is buying like a maniac on speed.

10 year Federal bond return was 2.4% Oct. 8, now is 3.346%. This is a 28% drop in price. Some stabilizing the last three days, ditto the "maniac on speed" wise crack.

So. A "real" bond panic? You mean when the lid blows off Japan and Europe Government bonds (sometime in the next two years, sooner rather than later)? Depends on what the USA does in the next weeks. Get Bernanke kenneled, stop monetizing the debt, let USA interest rates rise, (causing a USA bond panic,) run the USA like Cristie does New Jersey, let the Big Boys take their losses in bonds as interest rates return to somewhere more than inflation (say, 4.5% on Fed 90 day notes) and everything will turn out fine in the end. Otherwise the entire world's bonds will crash together simultaneously unless the USD can be the "strong currency of last resort". Otherwise gold and silver will go to the moon. Maybe even a hundred times higher in USD, Yen, and Euros. That would mean gold and silver confiscation, and Weimar - Zimbabwe inflation.

You get your social security check and buy a loaf of bread. Runs on the banks and everyone buying anything at all with it while cash still has some value.

So, "a real bond panic"? One's running now, and the Fed is monetizing like crazy. The dikes are bulging and the Fed is out of fingers.

ON that cheerful note, on to municipalities, states, etc.

The statutes are real hazey, Federaly there is no real way to roll up pension obligations except bankruptcy, Washington DC is talking about some sort of new set of laws to let States, Counties, Municipalities, etc. dump their pension obligations. We shall see.

I don't think that pension law that applies to the private sector applies to government bodies. For sure government entities are not covered by Federal pension reserves requirements applied to the private sector.

The States have sovereign immunity in lawsuits, meaning that if a State does not care to be sued in cannot be forced. Essentially their pension obligations can be terminated by States at will. Then the Feds would probably take it to Federal Court (14th Amendment). California, Illinois, Rhode Island, etc. would plead poverty, and residents of Texas, Wisconsin, and many others would balk at paying amazingly huge out of state government pensions. Also the States can unilaterally de-recognize the public unions, no unions, no contracts, no pensions. The States are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, you see. The same is true of the Federal Government - unions are allowed there only because of JFK's Executive Order. A few words on a piece of paper above the President's signature and Federal unions are history.

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Turning Natural Gas into Diesel: NYT

Click on the post for the latest.

Paul Soglin Campaign Statement: Mayor of Madison--2011

I love the city of Madison and everything about it…its past, its people, its present and its potential.

I have seen this City from many sides: as a student at the UW and as a member of its faculty…as a City Council member, as your Mayor.

I’ve worked in the private sector as an investment advisor and as a project manager for a major Dane County corporation. I’ve worked on area-wide economic development and housing issues for the State.

I’ve seen what works in Madison and what doesn’t. I’ve been a part of moving Madison forward. I’ve never been shy about suggesting new ideas and advocating for change when I thought we could do better.

This is one of those times.

The Edgewater, the downtown library, Overture...snowplowing …taxes that are too high, a budget that is structurally unsound, the exodus of talented city managers, neighborhood groups whose input is ignored and whose participation is devalued. Good ideas that go nowhere and bad ideas that won’t go away.

Madison isn’t moving forward or working together or getting things done as it should…as it has…as it can. The next Mayor of Madison needs to have the know-how and vision to get Madison working and moving forward together during difficult, complex and challenging times.

That’s what I offer. That’s what I’ve done. And that’s why today, I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor.

Some of the news reports about my candidacy have described me as a “politician.” But let me tell you the truth: I am a lousy politician. I am too forthright. Too honest. Too interested in the nuts and bolts of leading a city. I like the exchange of ideas and the good ideas that come from open debate and discussion and collective reasoning. I like to get things done.

I’m not a politician. I am a Mayor. The inability of the current administration to get things done and to address challenges before they become crises threatens the future of our city. It undermines our ability to come together as Madisonians and focus our considerable talents and energy to collectively solve the issues – big and small – that confront us.

We can do better. During my terms as Mayor, we build the Capitol Centre and Monona Terrace, turned State Street into a bus and pedestrian mall. We laid the foundation for Madison Metro. We had a triple A bond rating recognizing our strong fiscal management. We balanced budgets.

We combined civic pride with civic responsibility. We made things happen.

Together, we can do it again. One of the first things I’ll do as Mayor will be to meet with every member of the city council to get their recommendations for their own and citizen appointments to city committees so we create a committee system that is diverse with people and ideas.

I’ll get governmental, labor, business, and educational partners together and get to work to create opportunistic programs that will expand employment, training, and workforce development for all Madisonians.

We’ll collaborate with County Government, environmentalists, urban planners and neighborhood groups to adopt a Madison Plan that comprehensively addresses our land use and transportation goals in order to create a safe and healthy environment for all Madisonians to live work, study, and play.

I’ll organize a broad based city commission, modeled on the Monona Terrace Commission, that will produce a working solution for Overture.

People from all across Madison and from across the political spectrum urged me to run for mayor. The people of this City value the services their City provides while demanding they get value for their dollars. The people of Madison want their mayor to envision and enact initiatives that ensure a positive, common future for this city, its neighborhoods, its people, its downtown, its suburbs and its parks. They want us to get things done now, for this generation without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

With all the serious challenges we face, Madison is still the best City in this country to live, work and raise a family. We are home to a world class university, great public schools, gorgeous lakes, a thriving bio-tech sector. We are situated in a County distinguished by beautiful and productive farms, miles of bike trails, innovative County government programs and hard working, caring residents.

Being Mayor of Madison is the toughest job I’ve ever loved. I am prepared to focus on nothing else but working with every one of you to make Madison work -- for all its citizens -- once again.

Thank you.

- Paul Soglin

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Markets; Taxes: " I Don't Remember:" Solved:

In 2011 when baby boomers fill out their tax return or go to a tax preparer, they no longer can say that they do not remembe their "basis" or cost of the original purchase. Yes...it can be a memory problem if one purchased the stock in the 1960's....Now the IRS is going to make sure you do not forget....

Click on the post for the story.

Minnesota Faces 6.2 Billion Dollar Deficit; Daily Planet

Click on the post for the latest.

Streetcars might be coming to Minneapolis----

Click on the post for the latest.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Evansville Park Board Meets Monday--Civil War Event on the Agenda

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Deal of the Week: Ace Hardware offers free fill of inkjet cartridge thru Dec 19th

Check it out. This offer applies to the 136 cartridges that they can do.. Recycling can save up to 50% of your cost. Tell them the Observer sent you.

The Rise of Cellphone Shopping: These are the "hunters": NYT

Click on the post for the latest.

QE2 as an Opportunity? CapTimes: Unger

Click on the post for a recent article in the CapTimes with a perspective on the recent activity in the bond market.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Scoop Expands On Chasin the News: "It's Up to You...It always has been"

Click on the post for a classic from School Scoop.

Home Prices Going Lower: Yahoo: Finance

Click on the post for the latest.

Blogs: Rock Net Roots: Looking for a Self Made Businessman----

Click on the post for the article. Enjoy.

St. Paul Holds the line on Property Tax levy---StarTribune

Click on the post for the latest. One assumption is that the State of Minnesota will not cut state aid to cities further...that is a big if...for Wisconsin cities as well. Stay tuned.

In a Global Economy What Does It Mean to Buy Local: Pioneer Press

Click on the post for the latest.

Land's End Launches Video Chat for Customer Service: WSJ

Click on the post for the latest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mailbag: Bear Trader Writes; "Some Thoughts on Equitable Taxes"

Warren Buffet has said that he pays taxes at a lower rate than does his secretary. This is so.

The truly rich make almost all of their income from their investments. When the value of an investment goes up, this is called "capital gains", that is, as return on capital, that is, on money.

Interestingly, from my viewpoint as one of the "little people", capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than "regular" income from wages, salaries, and the savings I have (taxed as "interest" at my regular rate). So it is for all but a very small portion of the population.

I cannot see why "capital gains" should be taxed as other than regular income. There a bogus arguments based on the idea that a low capital gains rate is merely to recompense for any "capital losses" - hey, I have capital losses, and certainly get no "recompense".

So, how about just abolishing "capital gains" from the tax laws? Income is income, right? Tax "capital gains" as regular income, WHICH IT IS.

Now my point.

Politicians are always laying on the B.S. that they are "for the little guy" and always pushing "the rich should pay their fair share". Well, then, why not get rid of this ridiculous "capital gains" tax treatment? Maybe the Big Boys wouldn't like it, eh? Maybe those Senators with net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars would have to pay taxes on their incomes? Maybe the Billionairs would be pissed?

So, anyway, you can tell if a politician is lying easily. Are his lips moving?

At least the Pubs don't lie as much as the Dems. "I'm for the little guy" is a lie. Maybe someday a Pol will push for getting rid of special tax treatment for "capital gains" and tax the really rich guy's income the same way as "the little guy's". Nobody since Huey Long has tried it and he died in a hail of bullets - from his own bodyguard. Oh, well, maybe Hell will freeze over.

November Retail Sales Top Forecast: NYT

Click on the post for the positive news.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tax Deal Drives Up Rates: Yahoo: Finance

Click on the post for the latest. It really feels like Argentina...maybe it's time to learn the tango....stay tuned.

In a market driven situation, driving rates higher will make municipal financing impossible. Nice way of inducing fiscal restraint huh?

Cuomo Urges Property Tax Cap for New York: New York Times

Click on the post for the latest. Is this what Wisconsin needs too?

Channel 3000: Evansville Schools opening two Hours late This morning

This is per Channel 3000 email.

Rising Property taxes Spark Protests in Minneapolis: StarTrib

Click on the post for the latest.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Governor declares Precautionary State of Emergency:

Click on the post for the latest from the Gazette.

Service of Rememberance For Tonight Cancelled due to weather:

Good Morning,

We are trying to get the word out that the Service of Remembrance scheduled for 7:00 tonight at St. Paul Parish has been canceled due to weather. Please forward this message on to anyone you know who may have been planning to attend. Thanks so much.

Nancy Hurley

Climate Change Conference In the News: Hurley Blogs Details

Click on the post for the detail blog posts from the climate change conference by Jim Hurley.

Roof on the Minnesota Metrodome Collapses: Monday Night Game in Doubt: StarTrib

Click on the post for the latest.

Normal, Mn. School District Moves to Provide New Born Care: Tales From Normal, Mn. : FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Blogs: A Note to Mr. Pierick from Chasin:

Click on the post for the latest.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Don't Forget Food for Fines: Eager Library

Click on the post for the latest.

Energy Independence Team Meets Tuesday

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Has Year End Tax Strategy Changed? Yahoo:: Finance

If one believes that taxes will rise in the upcoming years, what is the logical tax strategy or strategies? Click on the post for an article in Yahoo Finance today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CNN: Irish workers get "Haircut"; Bankers get bailout?

The pattern of banks getting bailed out on bonds at 100% and the everyday worker taking it in the shorts is not sustainable worldwide---click on the post for an interesting article in CNN:

Patriots Launch War Games; Determined to use live ammo::Tales From Normal, Mn.: FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yahoo: Finance: US to face Dollar Crisis by 2012: Davidowitz

Click on the post for the analysis.

CNN: Irish protest Austerity Plan

Click on the post for the CNN article today. Maybe it is a foreshadowing of the austerity plan for the U.S. Imagine the IMF moving swiftly to arrange austerity for US bondholders when the Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree to a solution.....

StarTrib: Incoming President of Mpls Realtors Assn faces Ethics Board on Foreclosure Sale Questions

Click on the post for the latest.

BTC Lowers Tax bite: Gazette

Click on the post for the article in the Gazette. Interesting to note that BTC recognized the decline in valuation of a 100,000 home by 4% whereas in Evansville only a decline of 2% was recognized.

Friday, November 26, 2010

With the Luck of the Irish, Corporate Taxation goes Untouched? NYT

Click on the post for the article in the New York Times...seems low corporate taxation did not save Ireland....the new austerity will be accomplished maybe on the backs of the working poor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Duluth Trading Flagship Store Now open in Mt. Horeb

Click on the post for the details plus a discount coupon.

What to be Thankful for Reviewed:

Many years ago I was attending a Dale Carnegie sales meeting conducted by Don Sheehan, a world famous sales trainer. It was 1982, the worst time to be in business, well...except for right now or the great depression. He spoke one Saturday morning on the notion of thanksgiving.

"Well, shukes he said, many guys don't get what to be thankful for....I urge you and your spouses to kneel down each night and be thankful....be thankful for the problems that you face in your life....yes...you heard me right...the problems.....

Remember that right down near here at 15th and Lyndale, there is a place where there are no problems...."

One of the guys in the group snickered a bit and said that that sounded pretty attractive...a place with no problems....

A guy next to him spoke up: " It's the cemetary".....

Don Sheehan went on: "Yes...it IS the cemetary...where there are NO problems.....and the fact that you are alive and in business today...means that you face problems....so you must be grateful for them...cause the Lord could give you a different set of problems that are a lot worse...or no problems....

So there it was....what to be thankful for...and I never forgot the lesson.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gov Warns Agency Heads About Shredding Files:;;;Tales From Normal, Mn.:FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

"Irish Don't Want no Bailouts...or austerity either:" Tales From Normal, Mn.: Fiction

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Fair Trade International Craft Sale; Sat Nov 20th

Fair Trade
Craft Sale

Sat, Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
St. Paul Catholic Church, Corner of Garfield and First Sts.
Evansville, Wisconsin

Gorgeous yet affordable handcrafted
gifts and foods from around the world.
• Jewelry and scarves
• Ornaments and nativity sets
• Soup, coffee, tea, chocolate
• Musical instruments
• Bowls, baskets, glassware

A lunch of soup and bread, along with beverages and baked goods, available for purchase from the Catholic Youth Organization.

Admission is FREE but a donation
of $1 or a packaged dinner or toiletry
item for the Care Closet is appreciated.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Observer mourns the loss of Fr. Campion of Monroe, Founder of the Apostolate to the Handicapped

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

Fr. Campion was a legend in Southern Wisconsin for his outreach effort to the handicapped. He redefined the word "Champion."

I had the pleasure of meeting him once at the end of a road race to raise money for the handicapped many years ago, and in the dead of winter, as he stood by the finish line, while all the fast runners were already in the warm bar, he chanted to the last runners, "Come on Champions....".

May he rest in peace.

Yahoo: Finance; Does the GOP Victory mean a boom for natural gas?

Click on the post for the latest.

"I Want Everything but don't want any Taxes party wins big: Tales from Normal, Mn.: FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Wanna Teach in Minnesota? Send them a video: Star Tribune

Click on the post for the latest.

Walker moves to block biofuels boiler at UW: WSJ

Click on the post for the latest.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Video: Cramer Speaks of the Gold rush in Natural Gas

What is next in the natural gas area? Jim Cramer weighs in. Click on the post.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Evansville Budget in Focus: Common Council Formal Budget Hearing tonight:

Click on the post for the current status of the budget. 73 pages of detail. It appears from page 73 that the Library addition project has been listed in 2015 with debt service additon of 1,900,000.

Wisconsin Women in business in Focus: I and E meeting Wed. Nov 10th:

Reminder: Come to I&E Club Nov. 10 to Learn What WWBIC Can Do For You!
Inventors and entrepreneurs can learn about money, consulting and other services offered by the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. Fausto Rivera, loan officer from WWBIC, will be speaking at the Evansville Area Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10. The group meets in the lower level of the Eager Economy Building, 7 E. Main St., Evansville.

Free and open to the public, this meeting is a convenient way to learn about options to launch and grow your idea or business. Bring a friend, ask questions and enjoy networking with a friendly group of attendees.

The sponsor for this month’s meeting is Radio Shack of Evansville, which will open its doors at 5:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 26, for post-Thanksgiving bargain hunters. For club information, contact John Gishnock, club president, at 608-882-6656 or john.g@formecology.com, or Sue Berg, vice president of marketing and outreach, at 608-882-0986.

Mailbag; Mr. Connors Writes; On Past Development

(Ed.note: I requested Mr. Connors to comment on the audios and videos on The Observer by MSA Joe DeYoung as well as Mr.Sauer that say "Flooding is what was expected". I essentially wanted to know who knew what when.)

"By the time that the development group led by Roger Berg was seeking to annex and plat the Westfield Meadows subdivision, the city had heard there might be water problems in that area. We heard a lot about these potential water problems during Mr. Abey's disagreement with the Town of Union over the annexation of the small Southgate subdivision. I think the first round of big floods just west of the Abey-Koth subdivision took place around that time. At any rate, the city asked the developers to provide data to show there was not a flooding risk in the area of the proposed subdivision. MSA demonstrated that to us satisfactorily, but in the process of investigating that issue they produced a model that showed there was a risk of flooding in the next to last phase of the Abey-Koth subdivision (S. 6th St. north of Vision). The city attempted to address this risk by allowing the same development group to annex land north of Porter Road and build a
large storm water detention facility. That facility was completely unnecessary for the Westfield Meadows subdivsion and the annexed land north of Porter Road. The city required it only to help mitigate the risk of flooding in the Abey-Koth subdivision. The city required Roger Berg's development group to pay for this storm water detention facility even though they had nothing to do with the Abey-Koth subdivision it was designed to protect.

I was not city administrator at the time the Abey-Koth subdivision was platted, so I have no idea if anyone examined the storm water management issue. I think that subdivision was platted before Foth & Van Dyke became the city's engineer. It appears whoever was advising the city about the Abey-Koth subdivision did not do a good job.

Regarding TID No. 5, if that is the downtown TID, you are correct that the city was hoping tax increment would pay the debt service on borrowing for public infrastructure projects the city likely would have done anyway because they desparately needed to be done. To the best of my recollection, the only redevelopment agreement in TID No. 5 that required the developer to make the city whole if the redeveloped property did not increase in value as much as projected was for the Coach House on N. Madison St. We did enforce that provision, although Chris Eager on the RDA board was critical of me for placing the provision in the agreement and enforcing it--he suggested I took advantage of Roger Berg by doing so. I was amused by the thought that anyone, let alone me, could take advantage of Roger Berg. There might have been some provision like that in the redevelopment agreement for the downtown Ace Hardware building, but I do not remember being involved
in negotiating that redevelopment agreement.

My only comment about the location of the senior center is that Baker Manufacturing has thrived on the other side of the creek for many decades despite the risk of flooding.

Feel free to post this on your blog."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cuba to Dismiss 500,000 State Workers: Merco Press

Click on the post for the latest.

Evansville Finance Holds the Line at $120 per hour

Click on the post for the minutes from October.

Agenda: Finance: Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

NOTICE: The regular meeting of the Finance and Labor Relations Committee for the City of Evansville will be held on the date, time and place stated below. Notice is further given that members of the City Council might be in attendance.

Finance and Labor Relations Committee
Regular Meeting
Thursday, November 4, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, WI

Note: Late Start Time

1. Call to order and roll call.

2. Approval of Agenda.

3. Motion to waive the reading of the minutes of the October 7, 2010, meeting and approve as printed.

4. Citizen appearances other than agenda items listed.

5. Motion to accept the W&L bills as presented.

6. Motion to accept the City bills as presented.

7. Unfinished Business:
A. Discussion: 2011 Operating and 2011-2015 Capital Budgets.

8. New Business:
A. Motion to recommend to Common Council approval of Resolution 2010-13, Approving Contract Extension for City Engineer.

B. Motion to recommend to Common Council approval of one-year contract with John Stockham of Stockham Consulting as City Planner.

C. Motion to recommend to Common Council approval of up to $2,932.74 to hire and train three part-time police officers.

D. Motion to recommend to Common Council approval of engagement of Johnson Block and Company, Inc., for the 2010 audit.

E. Motion to recommend to Common Council approval of 2011 purchase of services agreement with Rock County Humane Society.

9. Adjournment.

Mason Braunschweig, Chair

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

Gazette; Janesville Design & Development Center to close:

Click on the post for the story in the Gazette.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

WSJ: No stopping High Speed Rail: Agreement signed between Feds and Wisconsin

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

US Hwy 14 Corridor Study: DOT: Meeting of 10/27/2010: MOVIE Version on Mediafly now available

Click on the post for the podcast movie of the recent presentation by the DOT at Evansville High School on October 27, 2010 titled the US HWY 14
Corridor Study. There are eight video clips. Click on the icon and one by one they should load automatically.

Feel free to download to your computer or your ipad or portable video viewer. Enjoy.

DOT US Hwy 14 Corridor Study

DOT: Video: 1 of 8: Presentation by DOT on October 27, 2010, Evansville High School, Evansville, Wisconsin 53536

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DOT: Video: 8 of 8: Hwy 14 Study 10/27/2010

DOT 8: Video: Hwy 14 Planning Study: 10/27/2010

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video: 4 of 4: Open Enrollment 101: DPI

Video: 4 of 4: Open Enrollment 101: DPI: Evansville School Board, October 25, 2010

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Video: 3 of 4: Evansville School board: Open Enrollment 101

Video: 3 of 4: Open Enrollment 101: DPI: Evansville School board, Monday, October 25, 2010

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Audio: DOT Hwy 14 Meeting: 10/27/2010

Audio: Public Information Meeting: DOT: Regarding Study of Roadway from Wis 92 to I-39/90 along Hwy 14. Held At Evansville High School, 10/27/2010

MP3 File

Video: 2: Open Enrollment: DPI Presents

Video: Open Enrollment: DPI Presents: Evansville School Board: Monday, October 25, 2010

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Wisconsin DOT Hwy 14 Corridor Meeting in Evansville coming TODAY October 27: EHS, 4pm to 7pm.

Click on the post for the latest. The presentation is at 5:30 pm.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Key point: Open Enrollment:

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One of the key points made at the recent Evansville School Board meeting was that open enrollment is like having vacant seats on an airplane prior to takeoff---the district is given a marginal cost and not the full amount and thus it is not appropriate for a district to be near full capacity and then take open enrollment students and then have to build more classrooms or schools to handle the resulting overage---enrollment projections are used, and the whole point is that the district is taking students to fill slots that otherwise would not be filled.

Open Enrollment: final slide

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Open Enrollment slide 8

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Open Enrollment slide 7

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Open Enrollment slide 6

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Open Enrollment slide 5

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Open Enrollment slide 4

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Open Enrollment slide 3

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Open Enrollment Slide 2

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Open Enrollment Slide 1

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Duluth Trading Flagship Store Now Open!

Duluth Trading Flagship Store Now Open!

Video: 1 of 4: Open Enrollment 101

Video: 1: Open Enrollment 101; Department of Public Instruction presents:

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Video: School Levy: Mr. Pierick Speaks

Video: Evansville School District: Mr. Michael Pierick on 10/24/2010 urged the Board to apply some of the fund balance to reduce slightly the tax levy on taxpayers. He was outvoted 1-5.

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Audio: School Board; Levy Set

Audio; Evansville School Board: Levy Limit discussed, set; Monday, October 24, 2010.

MP3 File

Special Historic Preservation Meeting on November 8, 2010

(Revised 10/25/2010)
Monday, November 8, 2010
6:30 P.M.
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street
Third Floor Council Chambers

1. Introduction of presenters: Daina Penkiunas, National Register Coordinator, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, and Timothy Heggland, Preservation Consultant, Mazomanie.

2. Presentation by Ms. Penkiunas re: the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

3. Presentation by Mr. Heggland re: properties and districts in Evansville eligible for nomination to the registers.

4. Question-and-answer session.

5. Adjournment.

A quorum of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission may be present, but no regular business of the Commission will be conducted.

This program is funded in part by a grant-in-aid from the United States Department of the Interior-National Park Service.

Evansville Municipal Court Report: September 2010

Click on the post for the details.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Rollingstone Interview with Pres Obama

Click on the post for the latest.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: City cancels Youth Funding; Closes Library: Adds Historic Districts and Cemetary Theatre: Fiction

Click on the post for the latest.

Reflection: Election: Fear Rules the Street Posing: Consider this on Election Day

Consider the situation. Local communities have had the federal government cover their sewage plant, which they could not afford to finance. Cost 6 million. Local communities have had the federal government cover their school aid shortfalls, to avoid teacher layoffs.....local citizens have had their mortgages readjusted to avoid foreclosure...they have had their credit card terms adjusted to avoid predatory behavior by their banks....citizens have been given aid to trade in their clunkers...and aid to save energy with more efficient appliances.....

And after all that...considering everything....citizens have responded by saying that

They want no further debt....they want Atlas shrugged maybe....wearing clothes made in America maybe...just the belt and shoes I presume....

Citizens should consider on election day that they indeed WERE saved from an economic collapse that would have been worse than the Great Crash----their pensions, life insurance and all their bank holdings could have been vaporized.....

You were saved. Consider that on election day.

WsJ: Alt Vehicle Expo Coming to Monona Terrace Nov 5th

Click on the post for the latest.

Wind Corner: Oregon to Study Wind Turbine Health Effects: Oregon Live

Click on the post for the latest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Minn Debt Collection firm to pay big fine: Star Trib

Click on the post for the latest.

New Historic Districts Coming to Evansville?

Click on the post for the agenda for the meeting on Nov. 8, 2010.

Alert: Mailbag: Eager Free Library; Fred Juergens Writes re: Urgent Needs: How you can make a difference

Dear Friends,

As you may have recently learned, our Eager Free Public Library is facing a difficult economic situation. In order to keep its agreement with the Arrowhead Library System, Eager Free is obliged to buy a specified dollar amount of books and other media annually to share with the other ALS libraries through the RockCat inter-library loan system. Because of unavoidable rising costs for wages & benefits, insurance, utilities, building maintenance, etc., EFPL has fallen behind in these acquisitions. The Library Board of Trustees has begun a "Buy a Book" fund drive to raise $10,000 by December 31, 2010 to catch up.

The Executive Committee of the Friends of EFPL has decided to donate (from money we have raised through our Ice Cream Socials, Book Sales, membership fees, etc.) to the "Buy a Book" Fund in two ways:

a. The Friends will make an initial donation of $1500 to the "Buy a Book" fund. This presentation will be made at the Friends' Annual Meeting tomorrow night at 6 PM at the library. This coincides with our celebration of Friends of the Library Week in Evansville. We urge you to come to the celebration to show your support of your library.

b. We are also putting forward a challenge to individual Friends and to the Evansville community. The Friends of EFPL will match individual donations to the "Buy a Book" Fund, up to another $1500. Please consider giving a personal donation to "Buy A Book", and the Friends will match it. It would be great if you could bring a check to tomorrow evening's celebration at the library. No amount is too small. If your Friends membership is now on an annual basis and you donate at least $100, you will automatically become a lifetime member of the Friends; no more membership fees for you.

Imagine your life without your local library, and give generously to make sure that EFPL can continue to serve you. Even if you can't come to tomorrow evening's celebration and Annual Meeting, you can make your donation to "Buy a Book" by getting a check to the library as soon as possible.

Thank you for responding to this urgent plea.
Fred Juergens, President
Friends of the Eager Free Public Library

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mailbag: Kathy Kemp writes: Evansville Eager Library to have "Buy a Book" Campaign

Mailbag; Kathy Kemp, Eager Free Library writes:

"The Library's in a Jam and we need your Help!!
Rising costs ate our book budget.

We need to raise $10,000 by December 15, 2010 to buy books in order to remain a part of the seven library shared system which gives you free and easy access to thousands of books, cd's and dvd's.

We're asking you to make a donation to our book fund to help us out of this jam.

Stop by the library and make a donation today or make a check out to the Eager Free Public Library and mail it to Eager Free Public Library, 39 West Main St., Evansville, Wi. 53536

All donations are tax deductible and GREATLY appreciated.

Mortgage: Finance: Limbo Rock: How low can rates go?: Yahoo

How low will 15 and 30 years mortgage rates go? Click on the post for the story.

The Natural "Green" Burial: Gazette

Just think of the energy savings. Click on the post.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Changes in Evansville Budget: TIF Increment not meeting Expectations---

Click on the post for the changes noted on the City of Evansville web site for the budget since the department head presentations on September 20, 2010.

The changes in the expectations for the TIF districts are noted, and you can see that the revenue expectations are down...and the taxpayer will pick up the tab.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feingold Pollster says the "Creative Destruction" Agrument of Johnson has been the "game changer"

The tide is turning toward Feingold in the Senate Race. Click on the post for the recent note from the Feingold pollster.

Evansville Common Council Meets Tuesday, Oct. 12th.: Tax Levy to be set

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Should Evansville be forced to reasses all property due to valuation decline?

One of the things that comes up each year as folks get property tax bills that represent that their property is valued more and more, is whether there should be a comprehensive reassessment for communities where there has been a "shock" to valuation such as the current economic decline.

Our city represents in the current budget that the valuation decline has been about 2%---However if you click on the post, you can see that the city itself has lowered the sales price for the former police station from $178,000 to $149,900. One wonders whether the city budget figure is just a fiction to avoid facing reality.

There has been an argument that all residents suffer equally during a decline and thus, there is still equity with respect to the local owners. However....there is not equity to those coming to town or shopping to purchase a home in Evansville. One hint of that fiction is that there are homes that have been on the market for almost 5 years now and no buyers. thus...

Would it serve everyone better and fairer if there was a reassessment of all properties in Evansville? You make the call.

Nostalgia: July 2007: "Fireworks as the total Economic Development Program: Tales From Normal, Mn.: FICTION

Memories of summer 2010 in Normal, Mn. Click on the post.

Dateline Normal,Mn.: Republicans panic over Military Unemployment: FICTION

Click on the post for the latest.

Audio: 2009: Senior Ctr to eliminate fitness area

Audio: 2009: Senior/Community Center: Proposes to eliminate fitness area and a bathroom.

MP3 File

WSJ: Federal Jobs Money goes to 4K in Madison

Click on the post for the latest.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Audio:2009: Nostalgia: History: Senior Ctr to eliminate fitness area

Audio: 2009: Nostalgia: Senior/Community Center: Proposes to eliminate fitness area and a bathroom.

MP3 File

Pioneer Press: Tattoo Convention heralds new industry norm

Seems we have replaced regular manufacturing with body defacement as the major occupation of America...click on the post for the latest.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I and E Club: October Meeting 2010

Passion for Pets Becomes Paws-itive Business

Hear More Oct. 13 at I&E Club Meeting

On the east end of Evansville is a full-service pet store called Big Sweeties Pet Supply Center. It’s more than food and toys and cleaning supplies; it’s also a place where dogs can be groomed to look their best and homeless cats have hope for adoption.

Big Sweeties is the result of pet-passionate owner and entrepreneur Xandra Kashkashian. Kashkashian is the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Evansville Area Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club, set for Wednesday, Oct. 13. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., in the lower level of the Eager Economy Building at 7 E. Main St., Evansville.

Big Sweeties has grown from one store in Evansville to several in southern Wisconsin. At the club meeting, Kashkashian will talk about her business experiences, pitfalls, ups and downs. Prior to developing Big Sweeties, Kashkashian worked as a national sales trainer, and owned 23 Nutrisystem store franchises. She traded Chicago and a pressure-cooker corporate life for life in Evansville. Never idle, she saw the potential of combining her pet passion with her business savvy, and launched Big Sweeties.

After Kashkashian’s presentation, participants will have time for networking and refreshments. The sponsor for this month’s refreshments is another entrepreneur, Cathy Cryor Burgweger, who recently opened Franklin Grove Etc., in Attica. Just minutes from Evansville, Franklin Grove is a charming place where patrons can order food, enjoy a drink and shop for that perfect antique or resale item. The business is in a restored blacksmith shop on the edge of the Sugar River. Cryor Burgweger is not only the proprietor, she also is a realtor affiliated with Sugar River Crossing Realty.

Sponsors and donations enable the club to offer free meetings. For more information, contact club President John Gishnock at 608-882-6656, or Sue Berg, vice president of marketing and outreach, at 608-882-0986.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Moss Goes to Vikings: Star Tribune

Click on the post for the latest.

Nostalgia: 2007: Finance: Video: Ehlers and Assoc. Speaks "Assuming nothing new is Borrowed":

Greg from Ehlers and Associates, the financial advisors to Evansville, (2007)reviews the debt capacity of the City with respect to General Obligation borrowing, and where we are as a city.Assumes nothing "New" is borrowed, and assumes equalized valuation staying the same, and not declining.

Download File

Monday, October 04, 2010

WSJ: Duluth Trading's First Store to open in Mt. Horeb on November 1---

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette; Wind Plan Scrapped---Not an Adequate Wind Source

Click on the post for the latest.

Wis. Justices May move to curb online records releases: Gazette

Click on the post for the story in the Gazette. There has been release of charges in cases that were dismissed or unproven. For the record, the Observer Court report only publishes convictions from the official court report and not charges for this very reason.

Gazette; Fire at Evansville Landmark Grain Elevators-----

Click on the post for the breaking event.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Pioneer Press: Next Week Habitat for Humanity Big Push in St. Paul-Mpls; Pres Carter there

Click on the post for the latest.

Senior Center History: Podcasts available

On Monday, the Evansville Planning Commission will meet to consider a conditional use permit for the Evansville Senior Center. Click on the post for the podcasts of prior meetings on this Center.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WSJ: Video: Speech of President Obama in Madison

Compliments of the Wisconsin State Journal, click on the post for the complete video of Pres. Obama's speech in Madison.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SchoolScoop: Annual Meeting: Hang on..Taxes are Headed higher---

Click on the post for all the details of the annual meeting covered by Melissa Hammann.

Video: 6: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment: 9/2010

Final Video: Conclusion of the Robbery: Jesse James and Gang; Northfield: Reinactment 9/2010

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Video: 5: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment; 9/2010

Video: 5: The Actual Reinactment Begins: Northfield, Mn.: September 2010.

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WSJ: Madison Schools Oppose TIF for Edgewater

Click on the post for the latest.

Video: 4: Bank Robbery of Jesse James Reinactment: 9/2010

Video: 4: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment: 9/2010; Northfield, Mn. When Bankers were Heroes.

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Details on the Pres. Obama Rally today in Madison:

What: Moving America Forward Rally with
President Barack Obama and
Musical guests Ben Harper, The National, and Mama Digdown's Brass Band

Where: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Library Mall
Enter from Park Street at the base of Bascom Hill

When: Tuesday, September 28th
Doors open: 3:30 p.m.
Program begins: 4:45 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is encouraged. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Use of public transportation is encouraged. No bags, signs, banners, or laptops are permitted -- you should expect airport-like security.

An ADA entrance for wheelchairs will be available at the corner of Lake St. & Langdon St. until 4:15 p.m. One accompanying person will be admitted, and limited parking for ADA-labeled vehicles will be available in Lot 3 on Lake between University Ave. and State St.

RSVP here:


Monday, September 27, 2010

Video: 3: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment: 9/2010

Video: 3: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment: Northfield, Mn.: 9/2010.

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Video: 2: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment: Northfield,

Video: 2: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment, Northfield, Mn. September 2010.

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Video: 1: Jesse James Bank Robbery Reinactment

Video: 1: Jesse James Bank Robbert Reinactment: Northfield, Mn.: September 2010: Jesse James Days Celebration. When Bankers were Heroes.

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SchoolScoop checks out the "Spinning" for tonights Annual School Meeting:

Click on the post for the latest from SchoolScoop.

"City Daytrades Room Tax Receivable to Reap Millions for Social Good": FICTION: Tales From Normal, Mn.

Click on the post for the latest.

Real Estate: Wind: Corner: Declining Property values concern Realtors---

Click on the post for a review of the recent Wisconsin Wind Turbine siting report as viewed from a real estate perspective.

Target Launches Literacy Initiative: TwinCities

Click on the post for the latest. The local literacy run in next Weekend in Madison.

Tales From Normal, Mn.: Fiction: "Government Agency declares Recent Wall Street Plunge to be "Miracle":

Click on the post for the latest.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Minn: City Mayor's Magical Thinking: Budgeting for No State Decrease in Aid: Star Tribune

Click on the post for the story in the Mpls Star. Cities such as Minneapolis are proposing budgets as though the State will not decrease their aid....and in doing so are sending a signal to the States to keep their promises...but is this wise thinking in not preparing and planning for the cuts that are coming?

"Reflections on Evanville--1994-2002" by Paul Baker

A Healthy Community
A Healthy Community: Introduction
At the request of Dick Woulfe I offer reflections on my experience as a resident of Evansville from 1994 through 2002, and as an alderperson 1998-2002. I welcome this opportunity.

As Dick observed recently, “Just as in the current financial mess on Wall Street, we are hearing that "nobody knew"..."it was all a surprise." Although Evansville has no Wall Street crisis, but it does face challenges that result from plans made and actions taken years ago. And those connections are sometimes missed. Dick continued, “There are things that everybody knew and we seem to have forgotten what they were. That is the burden of history and one that can be difficult.”

So Dick asked me to share my reflections on the issues that seemed to shape the character of Evansville during those years in hopes that maybe cloudy issues might be clarified.

In summary, this is what I’ll discuss. At its best, Evansville is a healthy community with social capital: Engaged, involved citizens donate their time and energy to local organizations. Citizens contribute to local government by serving on committees, running for elected office, and working with city staff to solve problems and plan for the future. Healthy businesses prosper by offering high quality products and services, by collaborating with elected and appointed officials as partners, and by observing the letter and the spirit of the law. Together, citizens, government staff, elected leaders, and business owners work toward visionary, comprehensive, and sustained, community planning. Planning considers the long term welfare of the local environment, housing, quality of life issues, business growth, and infrastructure. Finally, community residents expect and deserve responsible journalism which provides accurate news and insightful commentary on civic challenges and opportunities.

A good educational system is certainly an important part of a healthy community, that’s beyond the scope of this article.
All these issues interrelate. None is less or more important than another.

A Healthy Community: Part 1. Social capital

Evansville provides many opportunities for citizens to participate. Newcomers like my wife and me in 1994 found these opportunities introduced us to new friends, offered training in leadership skills, and helped us appreciate the city’s history and its resources.

As new residents in 1994 my wife and I were eager to become part of the community. Our ability to integrate was limited because of a couple things. We don’t have kids and didn’t participate in school activities which do form a large part of Evansville’s social capital. Second, we were among the 50 percent of Evansville residents who worked out of town, so we were around only during the evening and on weekends.

But there were still plenty of opportunities to make friends. We joined the Friends of the Library and eventually took leadership positions. I joined the Lions club and eventually served as president. I participated in community theater. My wife participated in downtown redevelopment. I played in a community band and contributed a few articles and photographs to The Review. We met some really cool people in the process.

During this time the Evansville Community Partnership was formed. My wife and I were eager to participate because this new organization promised to bring together people with different agendas and different priorities in a new and productive way.

After living in town for a while we noticed a low rate of citizen participation in local government. That vacuum allowed for policies and planning to be disproportionately influenced by assertive people with financial interests. Granted, meetings can be boring, but when citizens don’t attend local government meetings, or show up only when they have a complaint, they’re handing over their community’s future to those who want to make a quick profit. One citizen’s letter to the editor of the newspaper of record rightly observed that “whatever the developers want, they get. There are no citizens at the plan commission meetings.”
I know newcomers to any town are reluctant to get involved, to “rock the boat,” but lack of participation in public issues hurts the community. If your alderperson is not very good, don’t settle for that. Don’t be afraid to run yourself. But be prepared for a wall of resistance. Some residents who were born in Evansville made a strong distinction between themselves and everyone else. At that time, one major and overriding qualification for being elected to city council was the claim, “I have lived here all my life.” We weren’t born in Evansville, so were somewhat suspect. Some labeled us “transplants.”

A Healthy Community: Part 2. Government

A healthy community has an effective government that involves its citizens. An engaged citizenry serves on committees, runs for public office, and votes regularly.

One recurring problem, probably not limited to Evansville, was relatively light turnout at election time. And it was often the case that incumbents ran unaopposed. Sometimes a council seat was vacant and people had to be recruited just to run. When nobody runs for office, and when voting turnout is light, citizens deserve what they get.

Among the challenges we observed during our eight year residency were antagonism between a small core of outspoken businesspeople and city hall. The city administrators who served during those years were often seen as impeding business growth. Their professional training and objective viewpoint often did not align with the local ingrained business culture. It was a continuing struggle for both administrators (and their allies) to justify their existence.

After living in Evansville for 4 years and getting a feel for local issues, I ran for a seat on city council, challenging the incumbent. I enjoyed campaigning and meeting people in my Ward. At that time Steve DiSalvo was mayor and Mike Davis was the recently hired city administrator. I was elected in Spring 1998 to represent Ward 1 and was re-elected in 2000. By serving on the plan commission, park board, and the public works committee I began my education in local government and city administration.

Later that year our city administrator resigned to accept a good job in a nearby city. A professional talent scout helped us find a replacement. The young woman we hired was articulate, bright, dedicated, and well trained, and she had a spine of steel. She grew into her role as city administrator and, in my opinion, did a good job.

As is unavoidable for anyone in such a position, she rubbed some people the wrong way. Those who had for a long time profited from traditional ways of conducting business in Evansville were accustomed to relatively informal ways of getting things done. Their “old boys’ network often got what it wanted from cronies on city council. When it became apparent that this (quite young) administrator (and a woman, at that) brought with her a different way of doing things, the fireworks began to fly.

Following her professional training, she respected the city’s planning guidelines and zoning maps. She was friendly yet firm when people wanted special exceptions. Because she knew how to say “No” when necessary, she was accused of being “mean and cold.” She was said to cause “headaches and restrictions” for people trying to start a new business. She was painted as a hateful dictator who had “our entire business community in turmoil.” Some with vested interests argued that Evansville didn’t need an administrator, period.

But she wasn’t alone. Councilpersons were sometimes punished for trying to do the right thing. I often saw interpretations of private property rights run smash against city regulations, with prolonged and very public consequences. One city resident had a sizeable (and illegal) collection of junked and rusting cars on his property. Neighbors complained to their alderperson (me). When the resident was asked to align with city regulations and clean the place up, he became The Victim. He claimed the city was “picking on him.” He not only blamed his councilpersons, he painted personal vendettas on his rusting vehicles. [For further reading, see the Wikipedia article on histrionic personality disorder.]
I had never before lived in a city smaller than a quarter million people. I had never before served in elected office. My limitations as councilperson were repeatedly brought to my attention in stinging and all-too-public letters to the editor of the newspaper of record.
Had I to do the Council thing again, I would certainly do some things differently.

I would make more effort to understand long-time residents who seemed particularly disillusioned with, and sometimes bitter about, city government.
I would spend more time talking in private with the strong personalities in the business community, because back-and-forth discussions at city meetings are not sufficient.

I would not react so defensively when letters to the editor called me out for decisions I made or things I (allegedly) said.

A Healthy Community: Part 3. Business

Living in Evansville my wife and I met many business people who served the community well. They gave back to the community by supporting activities and programming, like the Lake Leota race, concerts in the park, etc., and by volunteering for community projects including highway trash pickup and downtown cleanups. The people managing the grocery store, the insurance agencies, the banks, the pharmacy, and accountancy services come to mind.
Businesses like these prosper by offering high quality products and services, by working productively with elected and appointed officials as partners, and by observing the spirit and the letter of local ordinances.
But there were exceptions. One local businesses had for years defied local ordinances. Located along Main Street, it took in old cars and fixed them up for sale. Its properties along East Main Street included some decent looking rehabbed cars and far too many junkers still awaiting repair: Cars and trucks with shattered windshields, mirrors broken off, rusted out bodies. Not only an eyesore and an embarrassment, they were illegal. This business repeatedly ignored warnings to clean up its property. After extended discussion, city council finally moved to revoke its permit. Then all hell broke loose. Among its small core of supporters was one resident who complained to the newspaper of record: If this business lost its conditional use permit “it would leave these people with no means of making a living.” Well, I wondered, whose fault is that? Who’s the victim here? The business finally decided to comply with regulations. It cleaned up its act, and kept its permit.

This was one of many clashes between business and city hall. Finally, someone contacted a community development agency and asked them to come to town and check things out. In Spring 2000, prior to the establishment of the Evansville Community Partnership, Bert Stitt and Associates met with the ‘business owners group’ to hear and consider their position. After listening to their complaints about perceived unfair treatment from city staff, Stitt responded, “Then you are being a victim. You’ve got to stop being a victim and figure out how to make people listen to you, without yelling.”

It was my opinion then, and is now, that businesses often fail not because of over-regulation, but because of a serious lack of business know-how. Some store fronts opened to provide a product or service without apparently first researching whether there was actually a demand for that product or service. But we often heard complaints that it was just too hard being a business person in Evansville. It was all head-achey and stressful. Typical thinking in those days went along the lines, “My business isn’t making much money, and it can’t be my fault, so the solution must be. . .

(a) Blame City Hall staff or the nearest alderperson.
(b) Ask the city to install more parking spaces.
(c) Install a drive-through window.
(d) Move my business from downtown out to the East side.
(e) Erect a giant electric sign along the road (and leave it on all night) and attach a big sign on the side of my building. Plus a sign in front of the building.
(f) Blame Evansville residents for shopping in Janesville and Madison.
(g) Diversify my business. I’ll get a stack of conditional use permits and onto my property I’ll add an electronics store, a florist, some office space, a goat farm, an exercise gym, a nursery, storage mini-warehouses, and a nuclear munitions plant. I don’t care whether they belong in this part of town. Why should anyone else?
At that time the city’s Economic Development Committee was trying to come up with solutions, but didn’t have the capacity to serve as an effective resource. I hope that the Community Partnership and the Chamber have been able to improve things since then.

A Healthy Community: Part 4. Planning & Development

First, three brief anecdotes.
One bright weekend morning I was out in Ward 1 distributing my little newsletter or campaigning for re-election. A woman living on Garfield Avenue west of South Fifth Street showed me the results of water runoff from new construction. Muddy water came from unfinished lots, across the street, into her yard, channeling by her house, and continuing southward into adjoining lots. That kind of thing hadn’t happened before, she said. How long was it going to continue?

On January 13 1999 residents living along Lincoln Street complained to city council about recent flooding in their yards and in the streets, thanks to aging storm sewers. What was the city going to do about it? Thanks to new housing developments West of South Fifth, the dated storm sewer system was serving more streets and houses than originally planned. This was a reminder that expensive infrastructure maintenance had been put off. If the problem weren’t addressed, more property damage would result.
Four months later, the newspaper of record ran a front page story and large photos illustrating a swollen Allen Creek and a submerged Leonard-Leota Park. As it curved from the park to Hwy. 14 and then on toward the Varco-Pruden plant, it spilled over into East Main Street, threatening a restaurant and flooding Varco Pruden.

The story made for great headlines and photos but, as I recall, the newspaper presented the flood as some sort of freak accident, an out-of-the-blue event. If the story had been contextualized, the flooding would have been seen as a direct result of mismanaging Lake Leota, its upper reservoir, and the farms upstream whose phosphates and topsoil drained into Allen Creek. The phosphates contributed to weed growth in the lake, while the topsoil slowly filled it in. Shallow water retains more heat, which further encourages weed growth and unwanted fish species. Over the years, swimming became undesirable and canoeing became difficult.
A healthy community has comprehensive sustained long term community planning which addresses things like maintaining infrastructure and controlling stormwater runoff.

During one spring election, one incumbent councilperson made an interesting comment in his campaign statement. He said he favored planning growth “by adhering to the Master Plan when possible yet being flexible enough to allow changes where results would be beneficial” (emphasis mine). He didn’t say exactly when the Plan might be impossible to follow, nor did he who would benefit from such changes. He didn’t really need to. This was a wink and a nod to the folks who constantly pushed for development and chafed at irritations like land use planning.
These were the same people who would attend plan commission meetings with news of an exciting opportunity: A major national chain is scouting Evansville as a place to put in a store! And we’d be lucky to get them here! (Unstated: And I’d personally profit from helping them build and locate here.) These were the same people who decided to become mini-developers and landlords and to pour new concrete and build more aluminum buildings and rent space to motley conglomerations of little shops. The same people who became existentially defensive when city staff and elected leaders decided it was time to create an ordinance that would limit the size and height of signs.

The same people who built restaurants, car washes, and gas stations a stone’s throw from residential housing and then seem surprised when homeowners complained about noise and industrial strength street lights that shone directly into their living rooms at night.
During those years, new business development plodded along, but housing starts soared. The Economic Development Committee realized that the city was being strangled by lack of taxable business property to help offset the expenses of new housing growth. But land purchases and subdivision development blossomed on the West side, leading to undesirable but completely foreseeable consequences. The new subdivisions near Porter Road gobbled up more farm land and upset the natural flow of water drainage. More houses required more streets, more sewers, and more utilities. New residents often owned more than one vehicle, adding to city traffic, and especially along Main Street, Garfield, and Lincoln.

A hefty percentage of these new houses were being built outside the city limits, in the Town of Union. Many people prefer new houses to old, and want larger lots and larger garages. That’s fine. But all those property taxes went to the Town, not to the City. And the city nevertheless ended up contributing resources for building the streets, and sidewalks ,and sewers; providing library services; maintaining parks; and providing , even recreational services. The idea of charging slightly higher rates for non-city residents to swim where the concept of non-resident rates at the pool or participate in youth baseball, for example, was considered was particularly offensive. The city’s property tax base, in fact, was being cut off at the knees by housing starts outside city limits. But this was rarely questioned.

These were visible and short-term consequences. A less visible, but equally daunting expense was the need to build more and larger school buildings. In the late 1990s and early 2000s Evansville’s elementary, middle, and high schools were bursting at the seams. We needed a new high school, and all the other buildings needed remodeling and expansion. Kids were being taught in broom closets because teachers didn’t have enough classrooms. Some teachers had no permanent classroom and had to push their carts of supplies from place to place throughout the day.
There’s an equation that was rarely discussed:
More housing + more young families + more children = more school buildings + higher property taxes.

A Healthy Community: Part 5. Journalism

If you’ve stayed with me thus far, thanks for your patience. I’m almost done. Now I’ll try to tie all these things together.
A healthy community has a hub for information sharing and discussion of civic issues. That role has traditionally fallen to the community newspaper. With the rise of blogs, the role of community newspapers has diminished somewhat. But still, a healthy community needs credible, responsible journalism. A local newspaper should support and inform discussion in all aspects of civic discussion. When there is no journalism, or poor journalism, everyone suffers.
In my 8 years as an Evansville resident I read the newspaper of record regularly. When this long-time family-run newspaper passed from the older generation to the younger I noticed something happen. What had been a folksy, upbeat weekly declined into a partisan, sometimes vicious publication that rewarded its cronies and punished its critics. I was appalled at how blatantly it skewed its articles in favor of its allies and how misleading was its coverage of city government. The new editor seemed to lack any journalism training. The articles regularly blurred, or erased, the line separating news from editorial opinion. The paper became defensive, sometimes childish, and sometimes mean.
Ranting letters were printed on the front page as if they were news articles. The tirades of one disgruntled councilperson who had resigned in a fit of bluster became a frequent front page item. Writers with perennial anti-government chips on their shoulders were allowed to viciously mock city government staff and elected officials and, for a while, to write anonymously as “A Concerned Citizen.”

The paper’s new editor/main reporter attended meetings of city government to cover the proceedings. But the standards of good journalism were breached as this person disregarded professional norms and treated these meetings as living room chats, often interrupting, voicing opposition, and complaining. Never before had I seen such a thing. That behavior should not have been tolerated. But it was.
It was with great relief that many of us welcomed a new competitor. Started by a credentialed journalist and co-edited by another good writer, this alternative weekly newspaper offered a rational voice, and journalism with integrity. It built a respectable subscriber base and survived for 3 or 4 years. As is often the case, a town of Evansville’s size could not support two newspapers.
With the rise of blogs and other forms of citizen journalism, it’s not as important for there to be another printed newspaper. Discerning people will turn to citizen journalists for information and analysis. Those who really care and want to get involved will contribute to these blogs or start blogs of their own.
-- Paul Baker

Friday, September 24, 2010

Video: 2 of 2: Room Tax Explained

Video: Dan Wietecha, City Administrator of Evansville explains marketing plan and possible sales tax uses.

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Video: 1 of 2: Room Tax Analysis

Video: City Admin Dan Wietecha explains Evansville marketing plan and room tax revenue

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Audio: Budget 2010: Pool,Park, Recreation

Audio: Evansville Budget Meeting, 9/20/2010: Pool, Park and Recreation budget for 2010/11 reviewed. Should the Park Store be privatized? Should pool rates be increased? Listen in.

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Audio: EMS: Budget 2010

Audio; Evansvilel Budget: 9/20/2010: EMS Chief Mary Beaver reviewe the budget for EMS for 2010-11.

MP3 File

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Audio: Evansville Squad Fleet Budget: 2010

Audio: Evansville Budget Meeting 9/20/2010; Chief Scott McElroy reviews the police fleet and the needs for the upcoming fiscal year.

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Audio: Evansville Police Operating Budget Reviewed: 9/20

Audio: Chief Scott McElroy reviews the operating budget of the Evansville Police dept for 2010-11. There was a heating surprise in moving to the new quarters.

MP3 File

Mailbag; Sue Wilbur of UB& T writes re; Picnic this Sunday, Sept 26th---

Greetings! Just wanted to remind you that our UB&T Customer Appreciation Picnic is this Sunday Sept. 26th from 11am to 1:30 pm in Lake Leota Park (upper shelter area). The Packers play on Monday night football against the Bears….so no interference with the game! Hope to see you there.

Pres Obama coming to UW next Tuesday for Rally---WSJ

Click on the post for the latest.

Ehlers notes rising TIF #5 principal and interest expense

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Ehlers notes rising GO Debt, prinicpal and interest


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Details of Chamber $20,000 project

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Evansville Hotel Tax Revenue and City Marketing Plan

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Audio; Evansville Marketing Plan: Evansville Room Tax Revenue Plan

Audio; The unedited audio of the plan presented with attachments to be published shortly that analyze the revenues of room tax, the expenses of marketing the city, as well as the review of how secure that revenue stream might be.

MP3 File

Audio: Evansville Budget: Economic Development--will delgate

Audio; Evansville Economic Development committee will delegate duties under a proposal to the Chamber of Commerce....and will reimburse accomplised achievements listed.

MP3 File

Audio; Evansville Budget Meetings: 9/20/2010; Youth Center

Audio: Revealed that Youth Center will not attempt to be placed on Fund 80, but prefers to remain under City direction at this time.

MP3 File

Audio; Evansville Budget Meetings 9/20/2010; Library

Audio: Budget Meetings 9/20/2010: Review of Evansville Library Budget

MP3 File

NYT: Men and Women, Anger and Despair, and what it means in the upcoming election

Click on the post for an article in the New York Times.

Doug Zweizig appears on Wisconsin Public Radio: Reviews Wind Turbine Setback Issue: WPR

Click on the post for access to the free audio from the Joy Cardin show---click on the download button to download the audio of the show. It is free.

Evansville to hire Bus Aide to Control Misbehavior: Gazette

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