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Wisconsin Wit

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:

http://wi.barackobama.com/RallyMadison

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.

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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.

MP3 File

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.

MP3 File

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A History of Poor Projections clouds Edgewater Decision: CapTimes

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SchoolScoop: Pros and Cons of being a former School Board member:

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Evansville Special Budget Meeting is Monday, September 20, 2010: 6:15PM

Common Council
Special Meeting – Budget Presentation
Monday, September 20, 2010, 6:15 p.m.
City Hall, 31 South Madison Street, Evansville, Wisc.

Agenda
1. Call to order.

2. Roll call.

3. Approval of agenda.

4. Citizen appearances.

5. 2011 Capital and Operating Budget Presentations. Each department head and/or committee will present their proposed capital and operating budgets. Presentations will include revenues and expenditures; each presentation is expected to run about 2 to 10 minutes depending on complexity and Q&A. The page listings refer to the Budget Worksheet dated September 14, 2010.

A. General Fund Revenues pg. 1-5
B. Library pg. 25-28
C. Youth Center pg. 18-19
D. Economic Development pg. 19
E. Marketing pg. 19 and separate handout
F. Police Department pg. 11-13
G. EMS pg. 22-24
H. Fire District pg. 12-13 and separate handout
I. Pool, Park Store, Recreation pg. 18-19
J. Finance pg. 9-10
K. Miscellaneous: Council (p 5-6), Mayor (p 6), Legal Services (p 7), City Administrator (p 7), Accounting/Auditing (p 8-9), Assessor (p 9), Municipal Buildings (p 10), Other General Government (p 10-11), Support for Outside Programs (p 16-17), Planning (p 20), Preservation & Restoration (p 20).
L. Public Works
• Building Inspector pg. 13-14
• Public Works, general pg. 14-16
• Recycling & Disposal pg. 15
• Parks Dept (maint.) pg. 17
• Cemetery pg. 29-30
• Wastewater Utility pg. 50-55
• Stormwater Utility pg. 56-58
M. Water & Light Utility Separate handout, pg. 1-9
N. TID #5-8 pg. 31-40
O. Debt Service pg. 41-42 and separate handout
P. Municipal Court pg. 6

6. Wisconsin Economic Summit Series.

7. Observations and recommendations by city administrator.

8. Adjourn.

Audio: Senior Center: 12/2007: Is the Site in the Flood Plain? Dean Schultz of Exel Engineering explains

Is the site in the flood plain?

MP3 File

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Use of WHEDA funds? CapTimes

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Park Board: No to Speed Bumps...Yes to everything else

Click on the post for the complete minutes.

Going for Gray....and Gold: Pioneer Press

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States Cutting Public Employee Pension Benefits--changing the deal?: Yahoo finance

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Second Annual " Pumpin' Up Evansville" Coming Oct 2nd: 10am--2 PM

Brown School Business Group presents the&
2nd Annual Pumpin’ Up Evansville

Sat, Oct 2nd 10am-2pm
Brown School Rd Area, Eastside of Evansville

Discounts and specials at participating businesses

Ronald McDonald appearing at McDonalds

Full service gas fill at Landmark Cenex w/complimentary gift bag while supplies last, sponsored by Brown School Business Group
NASCAR Simulator

Brat Fry by Evansville High Football team

Bouncy House sponsored by Dave’s Ace Hardware,
Activities for the whole family
1st Annual Evansville Cruise Inn

Sponsored by Evansville Ford, Symdons Chevrolet-Oldsmobile &
Main Street Motors
Registration 10am
No entrance fee for exhibitors and free general admission
Gas gift card drawings for entrants
“Fun for all and all for fun!”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Banking Reform lifts Stocks: Yahoo

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Wisconsin Sets Record Rainfall for Summer 2010: Professor Young

Hi All-
Summer 2010 produced record rains for Wisconsin, based upon up to 116
years of data. The State Climatology Office's nearly final numbers for
Wisconsin's precipitation [statewide, divisional, and individual
stations] are found on the following National Weather Service link:
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=mkx&storyid=57470&source=0

John

John A. Young
Professor Emeritus& Director, Wisconsin State Climatology Office
1503 Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
(http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/)
University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706
tel: (608) 263-2374, 262-5963, fax 262-0166

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dateline Northfield, Mn.: The Defeat of Jesse James Days Celebration

Click on the post for the complete list of activities---celebrating the day that Jesse James met his match as a community refused to be robbed of their savings, and got their guns out---it was the last bank robbery of Jesse James.....

And yes...they have a special gravesite memorial...no theatre though.

Memories of the World Trade Center

As a young man, I had the opportunity to work in the securities business...and I remember just like it was yesterday, the celebration at the top of the World Trade Center in the circular restaurant with all my fellow brokers...and the whole world of the World Trade Center, where the rest rooms came complete with butlers that had warmed hand towels....but I digress....

On the 24th floor on the way up that night, I noticed that a famous bond trading firm had their headquarters there...and I made a mental note of it that that would be the dream...to be a successful bond trader and work in the World Trade Center.....

It was not to be....and years later as I watched the World Trade Center crash in flames, it did occur to me that I was a lucky guy indeed to not get every dream that I had wished for......but my heart went out to those on that floor that died in the flames.....

Breaking: The New Holographic Speed Bumps----Check it out

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WSJ: OpEd; Old MacDonald's Farm part II:

Click on the post for the latest on factory farming and the contamination of our food supply.

Midwest Oil Pipeline shuts down----prices may rise in near term? : Yahoo

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Toxic Debt must be Dealt With: Video: Yahoo Finance

Click on the post for a video explaining when the recovery will occur.

Evansville Park Board Meets Monday, September 13, 2010: Budget, Speeding in park on Agenda

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Nostalgia: 2009: The Case of Credit Derivatives---why the big boys looked white last week

If you click on the post you can review a short article on Credit derivatives from Wikipedia. Pretty heavy stuff. But still this should provide a starting point for an understanding of how large, how leveraged and how much there is at stake in the market for these products---which as far as I can tell is unregulated by anybody---and it is unclear if the big boys even know how much is at stake.

I have asked the famous "Bear Trader" to work up a little article on the subject and he is working on it. He did send me some initial thoughts:

"Publicly traded interest rate derivatives (not including CDS), 12/07, worldwide, per BIS., was $336,187,052,000,000

See attachment. Interest rate derivatives are also daisy chained throughout the financial system and some people besides US mortagees are taking a brutal beating on the LIBOR/(Treasury and Agency) spreads. Not the catastrophic dominoes of the credit default swaps, though, but a LOT more money is involved.


World GDP is about $67 Trillion. OTC CDS are about Notional $58 Trillion. Most CDS are not traded over the counter and I have no real data on the notional value these untraded contracts, but five times the notional value of the OTC contracts seems reasonable to me, or about $300 Trillion more. "


Here is the bottom line: Let's talk in TRILLIONS and not billions---and it just occurs to me that this is why all the pundits look white as a sheet on television. Stay tuned. I will publish the finished thoughts of "Bear Trader" when he finishes.

NYT: The State of Housing----Let it Fall or Not?

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

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Blood Drive at St. John's Lutheran Church today

via facebook: Greg Whitemore:
Greetings to all my FB friends, If you have time today you have the opportunity to help save a life! The American Red Cross is holding a Quarterly blood drive @ St. Johns Luthern Church in Evansville from noon to 6 p.m. All bllood types are needed! It's something you can give that costs you nothing & can be very helpfull to someone in need.

New Gulf Oil Explosion: Yahoo

Click on the post for the latest.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Two Janesville Schools honored for high test scores: Gazette

Click on the post for the good news.

SchoolScoop: ACT scores drop again for Evansville: The analysis

Get behind the numbers with School Scoop analysis. Click on the post.

Breaking: Mailbag: Alternative ways to deal with Wind Turbine Affect on Human Health----

Telephone: (608) 266-5481 Fax: (608) 266-3957 Home Page: http://psc.wi.gov
TTY/TextNet: In Wisconsin (800) 251-8345, Elsewhere (608) 267-1479 E-mail: PSCRecordsMail@wisconsin.gov

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Eric Callisto, Chairperson 610 North Whitney Way
Mark Meyer, Commissioner P.O. Box 7854
Lauren Azar, Commissioner Madison, WI 53707-7854

August 31, 2010
The Honorable Fred Risser The Honorable Michael Sheridan
The State Senate The State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 220 South State Capitol, Room 211 West
Madison, WI 53702 Madison, WI 53702
Re:
Wind Siting Rules, Clearinghouse Rule 10-057


Dear Senate President Risser and Speaker Sheridan:


I write to explain my concurrence with the Commission’s rule on the siting of certain wind energy systems (Wind Turbines) in Wisconsin. While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a Wind Turbine located near their home. The safety net I propose would be a minimal burden to wind developers while simultaneously protecting Wisconsin citizens who are sensitive to the noise emitted from Wind Turbines.


Among other things, 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 requires the Commission to develop rules that “provide reasonable protection from any health affects” associated with Wind Turbines. Wis. Stat. § 196.378(4g)(b). There is substantial evidence that noise from Wind Turbines could negatively impact the health of a small percentage of the population. To better ensure compliance with Act 40’s mandate, I proposed the following safety net: under limited circumstances, the owner of a Wind Turbine must purchase, at fair market value, the home of someone who can prove that a nearby Wind Turbine is directly causing a significant adverse health outcome. 1
Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accurately identify the precise line between safe levels of noise from Wind Turbines and those levels that will negatively affect human health. Nor do we know why a small percentage of the population is affected more negatively by Wind Turbines than the rest of the population. As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule. While more study is needed to better understand the full health impacts of Wind Turbines, it is important that we establish some remedy for the people who can prove that their health is being compromised by nearby Wind Turbines before the Commission has an opportunity to revise this rule.

To be clear, this safety net does not include awarding damages to the injured party; instead, it allows the injured party to move quickly from the area, thereby abating health concerns. The safety net would be limited to landowners who provide evidence (in the form of a certification) from a licensed Wisconsin medical doctor that one or more Wind Turbines have directly caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party. The only impact to the owner of the Wind Turbine(s) would be
1 The operation of this safety net proposal is not unprecedented. The Commission recently identified that the purchase of property at fair market value was a potential remedy for two landowners affected by a large wind energy development. Because the two landowners had a significant number of Wind Turbines within view from their homes, the Commission required mitigation, including the possibility that the utility purchase the properties at fair market value. The utility did not object to this potential remedy and has since purchased the properties. PSC REF#:137660
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin


RECEIVED: 09/01/10, 9:23:27 AM
The Honorable Fred Risser
The Honorable Michael Sheridan
Page 2
the need to resell the house. Hence, the proposed safety net would not be an onerous requirement on the Wind Turbine owner and should not hamper wind development in Wisconsin.

The safety net could be structured as follows:
“PSC 128.XX Individual Hardships. If the owner of a nonparticipating residence experiences adverse health outcomes that are shown to be the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system, the owner of the nonparticipating residence may petition the political subdivision for mitigation of the adverse health outcomes. The petition for mitigation shall be referred to the Commission, which may order mitigation of the adverse health outcomes. A medical doctor licensed in the State of Wisconsin shall attest that that one or more wind turbine(s) have caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party before any relief may be granted under this section. Mitigation may include requiring the owner of the wind energy system to purchase the nonparticipating residence at fair market value.


Note: The Wind Siting Council may make recommendations with respect to the form and type of information that is required to show that adverse health outcomes are the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system.”
Absent a safety net provision like this, it is unclear how an injured party could obtain mitigation of adverse health outcomes from a Wind Turbine owner. If they are unable to sell their property for fair market value, injured parties would be forced to file suit against the owner of a Wind Turbine. This could require the injured party to incur significant legal costs that are not recoverable in a lawsuit and may dwarf the value of the home. The State of Wisconsin should not place its citizens in this position.
In conclusion, while I concur with the rule as a package, I remain concerned that this rule fails to protect the most vulnerable of our community and, therefore, I must qualify my support of this important rule. When this rule is referred to the appropriate standing committees, please forward a copy of this letter with the rule.

Sincerely,
/ Lauren Azar /
Lauren Azar
Commissioner

Those Wind Jobs: The Accounting: MacIver Institute

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Facts About ‘Green Job’ Creation Elusive as the Wind
MacIver News Service | September 1, 2010
[Madison, Wisc...] Although they are touted and promoted by policy makers and opinion leaders across the
state, accurately defining and keeping track of ‘green jobs’ has proven nearly impossible in Wisconsin.
Take, for example, ‘green jobs’ associated with the wind industry.
Wisc. Governor Jim
Doyle (D)
“Clean energy technology and high-end manufacturing are Wisconsin’s future,” Governor Jim Doyle said
in his final State of the State address. “We have more than 300 companies and thousands of jobs in the
wind industry.”
That statistic is impossible to verify.
The State of Wisconsin does not track those companies nor the jobs within the industry. When contacted,
the Office of Energy Independence (an agency created by Governor Doyle in 2007) directed MacIver News
to Wisconsin Wind Works, a self-described “consortium of manufacturers representing the wind
manufacturing supply chain within Wisconsin.”
The advocacy group maintains an online wind energy-related supply chain database, although a routine
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examination of the data proved just how unreliable the figures are.
When the online, searchable database was utilized earlier this summer, it listed 340 companies in Wisconsin
connected to the wind industry, a fact which, without additional investigation would appear to be in line
with the Governor’s statement. However, further examination showed many of those companies were not
currently serving the wind industry and were only listed because they someday could serve the wind
industry.
For example, the database listed 38 manufacturers, but only 24 of them have anything to actually do with
the wind energy sector presently.
Of those 24 Wisconsin manufacturers, only eight were categorized as primary suppliers. Another four
companies were listed as both primary and secondary suppliers. A MacIver News Service reporter contacted
all eight primary suppliers and the four companies listed as primary/secondary suppliers in our initial query
and what we found further eroded the credibility of Governor Doyle’s claims.
When contacted, the companies listed as both primary and secondary suppliers all described themselves
merely as secondary suppliers. That means they produce products that are not exclusive to the wind energy.
For example, Bushman Equipment manufactures lifts that move heavy pieces of equipment, which, among
many other uses, can be used to handle wind turbines.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database is not only generous with the number of companies within their supply
chain it associates as being primary suppliers, there are issues with the actual job numbers listed for each
company as well. Many of the figures are either inflated, the jobs are not located in Wisconsin, or they
cannot be tied to wind energy.
For example, Rexnord Industries was one of the eight Wisconsin manufacturers listed in our query as
directly serving the wind energy industry. The database shows the company has 6,000 employees. Yet a
Rexnord official told the MacIver News Service that the company only has 1,500 employees in Wisconsin,
and only five of those have jobs which are directly tied to the wind industry.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database says Orchid International has 600 employees, but a company
spokesperson told MacIver it only has 150. Amsoil Inc. in Superior has 236 employees listed in the
Wisconsin Wind Works database, but a company representative told the MacIver News Service that only 6
of them work on wind energy-related products.
In all, at the time of our search, the database claimed 7,632 jobs among the eight manufacturers that were
current primary suppliers to the wind industry. Yet, the MacIver News Service was only able to identify 31
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jobs at those companies which were specifically tied to wind energy related products.
Manufacturers told MacIver News that other employees might work on wind-related products occasionally,
but it does not represent the bulk of their workload.
Another 1,077 workers are listed among the secondary suppliers and we did not investigate that claim.
VAL-FAB, one of the companies listed as both a primary and secondary supplier, explained to MacIver
News that it initially had high hopes for the wind energy industry that never materialized. The company
specializes in fabrication for the energy sector.
William Capelle, Director of Business Development at VAL-FAB, said “At first we thought we might be
able to manufacture the actual towers, but it turns out 90 percent of those are imported from Spain.”
Since the MacIver News Service first examined the Wisconsin Wind Works database, the number of
companies listed has increased to 360. A reporter attempted to contact the organization for comment about
the veracity of their data, but Wisconsin wind Works, which solicits members by selling itself as the
“preferred partner of wind energy professionals,” did not respond.
They are, however, holding a Wind Energy Symposium in Milwaukee on October 13th.
Meanwhile the Office of Energy Independence continues to pursue the Doyle Administration’s green energy
policies. As Doyle said during his final State of the State address, “anyone who says there aren’t jobs in the
clean energy economy had better open their eyes.”
There is no doubt that some jobs in the wind industry exist in Wisconsin. The accurate number of these
‘green jobs’ is proving to be, at best, elusive
Representatives of Doyle’s office did not respond to repeated request for comments regarding the
information contained within this article.
By Bill Osmulski
MacIver News Service Investigative Reporter
Wisconsin Wind Works’ directory