Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 82. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:32 PM for 15h 16m 56s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 53% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1837, workmen arrive in Madison to begin construction of the first state capitol building. A ceremony to lay the building’s cornerstone was held three weeks later, on July 4, 1837. [Source: Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.]
There’s a tired and dull way of seeing office life as ‘clock in, at a desk all day, clock out.’ Discussions over office policy and remote work are sure to find someone who thinks that chained-to-a-desk is a responsible, serious, mature position. No, and no again. It matters most what a free, productive, market economy produces, with how following — not dictating — output. If someone sits around all day at home in a rabbit costume but produces twice as much as anyone else, that’s an individual and societal gain.
Wanting everything to appear just so is less important than everything running productively.
‘Clippit’ or ‘Clippy’ as you might know him, made his way onto millions of computers around the globe in the late nineties. The trusty paperclip fended off countless other characters before rising to fame upon his selection as Microsoft Office 97’s default assistant. Despite always being on hand to offer helpful suggestions and useful tips, Clippy’s input wasn’t always appreciated. His diligent gaze and shape-shifting animations divided opinion amongst the masses. The virtual character has left a lasting impression on those who worked alongside him. Now possessing a nostalgic charm, he continues to remind people of a simpler time in technology.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is a favorite to win re-election next year. See Baldwin as the Prohibitive Favorite and Closer to Unbeatable (‘Mike Gallagher would be a stronger opponent for Baldwin but he likely won’t run; Tom Tiffany will be a much easier opponent for Baldwin and he likely will run’).
Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher said he will not run for Senate in 2024, leaving wide open the Republican field for a seat in a key battleground state that could help decide who controls Congress’ higher chamber.
Gallagher told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he will not challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin next year and rather plans to run for a fifth term representing the state’s 8th Congressional District.
Gallagher was the only top-tier prospect for the WISGOP. A poll that The Bulwarkcited today shows he was running behind utter loon David Clarke:
2024 Wisconsin Senate — Republican Primary:
David Clarke 40% (+20) Mike Gallagher 20% Tom Tiffany 10% Eric Hovde 3% . Head-2-Head: David Clarke 45% (+19) Mike Gallagher 26%
It’s only a nutty WISGOP that would favor Clarke over Gallagher. One is reminded of the sheriff’s observation about zombies in the original Night of the Living Dead: “Yeah they’re dead, they’re all messed up.”
Tuesday, June 13th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of Boy Erased @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:
Rated R (language, sexual content)
1 hour, 55 minutes (2018)
A current topic of discussion is conversion therapy. In this thoughtful, well-acted film, the son of a Baptist minister participates in a church-supported gay conversion therapy program after being outed to his parents. Starring Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, and Nicole Kidman.
Sometimes a community, so entranced and distracted by every tree, cannot see the forest. What matters most is overlooked for the sake of smaller concerns. So it has been with Whitewater’s fire & rescue department.
For over a century, Whitewater had a volunteer fire department. Over time, and undeniably by the Aughts of this century, it was clear that a volunteer model no longer met Whitewater’s needs. In the 2010s, Whitewater commissioned an independent study to review the department and make recommendations. It began a long (almost dilatory) but necessary process.
Almost a year ago, Whitewater approved a referendum to fund a municipal fire department. This libertarian blogger supported that referendum.
It shouldn’t be hard to see why. A community must assure its members’ safety. If that can be done through volunteer efforts, then so much the better. When it cannot be assured through volunteer efforts, the government provision of these services (fire, emergency response, policing, defense) must still be provided, through government. This is the foundational expectation for state power: that people are kept safe with minimal intrusion into their lives. This was an increase in state power, but a specified, limited, and responsible exercise. (In no case is that power independent of law — police and fire departments are not separate nations within their communities, free to act as they wish. They are to be limited and closely regulated only in pursuit of specified objectives.)
No one will come to a town that cannot meet residents’ basic needs for safe streets, emergency responses, clean air & water, and good schools. In Whitewater, these are all public services (as we’ve no large private district or university in town).
There should have been a parade — truly — when the fire & rescue department became a city agency. There was a proper pinning ceremony, but there might have been more. Our move to this model has been to the community’s gain, as a necessary step toward modern standards of public safety.
And so, and so — no step local government has taken in the last generation has been as important for the city’s well-being. A municipal fire & rescue department keeps us safer and makes us more inviting to new residents and businesses.
Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 75. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:31 PM for 15h 14m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 85.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1889, American Temperance crusader Carrie Nation begins her campaign of vandalizing alcohol-serving establishments by destroying the inventory in a saloon in Kiowa, Kansas.
The Whitewater Common Council met last night. The agenda was full, but no particular part, no matter how significant, was more important than the whole. The meeting was illustrative of Whitewater’s condition, one of both challenges and hope.
A few remarks are below.
In-person and online. Whitewater’s council meetings are both online and in person. The online platforms are Zoom and streaming through Vimeo.
(Last night, and often, the Vimeo stream loads late and often far down on the city’s Vimeo page. Standard browsers and standard cache management often fail to resolve timely the stream. Worse, the municipal Vimeo page is disorganized, rather than in a proper chronological order. A resident looking to watch the stream should not have to hunt through old video after old video. This doesn’t bother me, as I’m accustomed to this condition, but residents shouldn’t have to fuss over it. The Vimeo page is, now, user-unfriendly.)
On Zoom, as I was last night, some residents kept their microphones or cameras open, and it was — truly! — comedic fare during the first half of the meeting. Residents talking to themselves or others, eating, rattling dishes, opening pop cans, chewing loudly, and belching at least twice brought a humorous tone to the meeting.
Online, the host should mute all residents’ microphones before the meeting begins, and open them when a resident signals that he or she wishes to speak.
But the significance of all this isn’t that some residents provided light comedy (although they did!), but that they’re unfamiliar with using these platforms. That’s not their fault, of course. Unfamiliar isn’t an offense, but rather a call for the council to add explanations of etiquette when a meeting begins.
Some of those attending mistakenly and inappropriately tried to use public comment for items listed elsewhere on the agenda, or tried to use public comment as a question-and-answer session with the council or city employees. Even some of those who have attended regularly betrayed their ignorance (or disrespect) of procedure.
Whitewater is socio-economically diverse. That’s the key insight: people who come to the council and residents who live here are from different classes and backgrounds. Whitewater is not a suburban, middle-class community. Residents should not be rebuked for what they do not know, but they should politely be instructed and reminded.
Timelines. What’s left of Old Whitewater habitually thinks that how they think is, necessarily, how the world should and must function. ‘That’s how we do things around here’ is justified only when the doing makes sense, so to speak. Perpetuating bad practices because they are long-standing ones holds Whitewater back.
And look, and look, expecting a city manager or a superintendent to meet the standard of a council or board is only justified when the council or board meets a proper standard. Whitewater residents know — as this libertarian blogger well knows — that there’s a worry that appointees are not in alignment with their overseeing elected bodies. Of course, they should be in alignment, but this then remains: the power to compel alignment under law does not lift the burden elected officials have to speak, reason, and represent the community capably and competently.
No one would say, for example, that a board of drunks or lunatics deserved deference within this community. Authority under law is not an immunity from competency.
The City of Whitewater, for example, chose a city manager who has years of experience in a suburban, middle-class community. Those communities move at a faster pace, and both this council and this city manager need to adapt to each other. He may seem to be moving too fast for them, but perhaps, just perhaps, they seem too slow for him.
One word of caution, however. When the city manager mentioned that he was surprised that a council member changed his mind after hearing only one public comment, the proper reply would have been that changing one’s mind after one comment is sufficient if the comment is well-reasoned. It’s not quantity but quality that matters most.
How this relationship develops over time between manager and council, well, I’m not sure. Everyone involved will have to make greater efforts to understand each other, as this local government shouldn’t be devoting time to managing kerfuffles over the pacing of city efforts.
Lakes and Pool. It’s no surprise that residents are concerned about both the viability of an indoor pool and the condition of our two lakes. The pool is more impressive than are other pools nearby, and the lakes are in the center of the city. These lakes have been in a diminished state for years, and yet there’s no agreed plan — between the government and residents — for improving their condition. The government has failed in its efforts and private residents aren’t united in their own response.
Last night’s meeting shows that there’s no public or private consensus.
Funding for two indoor pools and one fitness center remains in dispute between the city and the school district. There are intimations that a resolution is near, and perhaps that’s true.
What’s certain is that a Save the Pool ad hoc committee alone has not yet been enough to move the district to sign a new joint funding agreement. Understandably, people who like the pool have banded together, but that committee, alone, faces a steep hill to force a solution. A solution may come, but it’s likely to result from the outward pressure of the city government on the district and internal pressure within the district.
Whitewater is a fragmented community, no matter how much a few suggest otherwise, and the lack of agreement on these persisting problems is proof & demonstration.
For an earlier FREE WHITEWATER post about the pool seeThe Pool from 5/4.23:
Well, what to make of all this?
First, it’s a good-looking facility, and a source of community pride for members.
Second, the pool is in no danger of closing today, tomorrow, or the next day. There’s time for the public bodies arguing over funding to come to terms.
Third, while long-term costs between the parties are in dispute, there’s no claim that the Whitewater Aquatic Center needs $5,000,000 now or perhaps ever for repairs & maintenance.
Fourth, consider how odd this dispute is: Whitewater is a small town, and the City of Whitewater and the Whitewater Unified School District are the same communities. A dispute between these parties is not an arm’s length controversy between a buyer in Oregon and a seller in Arizona. On the contrary, the city is the heart and largest part of the district. A controversy like this is something like a dispute among siblings. Conflict here is internecine conflict. Different institutions may have different goals, but the officials of these institutions are, in fact, all neighbors in the same small area. (The idea of litigation between these parties over the pool is, needless to say, a bridge too far.)
Fifth, while the pool matters greatly to some, neither of these public institutions exists to be providing — or arguing over — a pool. The district and the city have more fundamental tasks before them (respectively, education and public safety). This suggests that ending this dispute with the least ongoing time, effort, and cost is the best course. (Closing the pool is what no one wants, and would only increase community time lost to an aggravated controversy.)
The rational course is a settlement that assures ongoing operation at minimal cost while further discussions on medium and long-term solutions are crafted. A reduction in political temperature — down to, let’s say, negative 30 Fahrenheit — would serve this community well.
The items on the Whitewater Common Council’s agenda are less important than grasping the conditions in which residents live and, consequently, through which local government must serve.
Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 77. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:30 PM for 15h 13m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 92.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1944, Operation Overlord begins the Allied invasion of Normandy, with the execution of Operation Neptune—commonly referred to as D-Day—the largest seaborne invasion in history. Nearly 160,000 Allied troops cross the English Channel with about 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. By the end of the day, the Allies have landed on five invasion beaches and are pushing inland.
For more than a decade, Republicans have used aggressive redistricting and other heavy-handed tactics in the state Legislature to press a narrow advantage into a seemingly permanent upper hand over Democrats. It began with the election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the tea party wave of 2010 and continued through a bold but unsuccessful effort by hard-line Republicans to decertify the state’s 2020 presidential election results. ButJoe Biden won the state in 2020. And in the April election, liberal Milwaukee County judge Janet Protasiewicz beat conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly by a whopping 11 percentage points, flipping the ideological majority of the court.
In the aftermath, even Republicans here are acknowledging that the state has now shifted leftward, and abortion has a lot to do with that. The end of Roe v. Wade last year effectively reinstated Wisconsin’s 19th-century abortion ban, which is already being challenged — and those challenges will likely be decided by the state Supreme Court. That’s why Protasiewicz campaigned heavily on protecting abortion rights, and the election turned almost entirely on the issue. Turnout was staggering. In 2015, in a similar spring election, a liberal state Supreme Court justice won reelection in a contest in which about 813,000 people voted. This year, the total number of voters who cast ballots in the Supreme Court race more than doubled to top 1.8 million.
That Protasiewicz’s win was important is undeniable. The court’s new majority is going to overturn Wisconsin’s abortion ban.
Afterward, however, Wisconsin will yet remain a gerrymandered state. Important for one significant issue is different from ongoing influence. It’s what happens legally and politically after an abortion ruling, notably on the allocation of state legislative power, that will determine whether Wisconsin’s move to the left in 2023 is enduring.
Filing taxes in the U.S. can be complicated, stressful and time-intensive. The IRS is aiming to fix this by piloting its own free online tax filing system at the beginning of 2024. Soledad O’Brien speaks with Nina Olson, the executive director at the Center for Taxpayer Rights and a former national taxpayer advocate at the IRS.
Monday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 83. Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset 8:29 PM for 15h 12m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1883, William Horlick patents the first powdered milk in the world. He names his new product, intended to be used as a health food for infants, “Malted Milk.” Horlick’s product went on to be used as a staple in fountain drinks as well as survival provisions. Malted milk was even included in explorations undertaken by Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen and Richard Byrd.
In 2020, a bipartisan group of legislators formed Keep Our Republic. Ruth Conniff reports that a Wisconsin chapter launches today:
The group’s creed, according to its mission statement, is: “Let all eligible voters vote. Let all votes be counted. Let the vote count stand.”
Chapters in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well as Wisconsin are focused on informing the public about elections, voting rights and the democratic process in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.
Led by a national board that includes former Colorado Republican Congressman Tim Wirth and longtime Democratic House leader Dick Gephardt, on its website Keep Our Republic pledges to “to discover, highlight and help to prevent an array of extraordinary threats to American democracy, strengthen democratic guardrails, and educate the public before it is too late.”
Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, a member of the group’s Wisconsin advisory council, says Keep Our Republic grew out of a bipartisan, national recognition of “very real threats” to U.S. democracy and is working “in places where it’s really urgent, like it is in Wisconsin.”
“Think Gableman,” says Lawton, referring to the former state Supreme Court justice who was fired after leading a years-long, taxpayer-financed investigation that failed to prove claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
In deeply divided Wisconsin, Keep Our Republic wants to help usher in a return to values that prized civic engagement, functional government, and well-run elections, Lawton says.
The bipartisan nature of the group is critical to its mission of rebuilding trust, Lawton says. The 12-member Wisconsin advisory council includes former Assembly members from opposite sides of the aisle David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) and Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) as well as former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.
“We don’t agree on many things,” says Lawton. “But we agree we have a moment of fragility in our democracy and have to put our shoulders to the wheel.
Republican former state senator Kathy Bernier will lead the Wisconsin chapter. She knows it’s a difficult task to overcome conspiracy theories, as Conniff reports:
Bernier still talks to constituents who are convinced that the 2020 election was stolen. She says she is 99% sure she can never convince “a devout election denier when it comes to 2020.”
“I have a couple who’ve called me – both computer programmers – and I’ve been totally unsuccessful explaining anything to them.” She has spent hours telling people about Wisconsin’s system for checking and rechecking its paper ballots. “I say, ‘How can you hack paper?’”
Part of Bernier’s mission at Keep Our Republic will be to raise awareness of the security of Wisconsin’s decentralized election system.
“If they’ve closed their minds to facts, there’s nothing we can do,” she says.
Illinois is poised to become the first state to ban book bans. Legislation approved by the Illinois legislature, which Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) is expected to sign imminently, establishes an official policy against book bans:
It is further declared to be the policy of the State to encourage and protect the freedom of libraries and library systems to acquire materials without external limitation and to be protected against attempts to ban, remove, or otherwise restrict access to books or other materials.
The policy has some teeth. The Illinois government provides about $62 million in funding to libraries around the state. Last year, this money was granted to 877 public libraries and 712 school libraries. In order to be eligible for these grants, a library must “adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights… or, in the alternative, develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books or other materials within the library or library system.”
The American Library Association Bill of Rights states that libraries “should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.” Further, books and other materials “should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Instead, libraries should be committed to “free expression and free access to ideas.”
A libertarian perspective seldom calls for more legislation, but here one finds a suitable justification: local bans are constraints on individual liberty, and a state law against these constraints prevents restrictions in cities and towns.
Wisconsin, of course, will not adopt similar legislation.
That leaves liberty-minded residents in their respective communities to prepare against possible book banning. The conservative populists will light on issues to excite their ilk and inflict injury on their perceived adversaries. While they want their speech, the populists are quick to demand limits on others’ speech. They assert the demands of the mob, horde, and crowd to stifle and intimidate others. So much for liberty from these types — it’s not a defense of individual rights but an assertion of mob power that fuels their politics.
I was finishing my second semester of a master’s program in documentary filmmaking in Budapest when Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of refugees rushed into Hungary, and my classmates and I went to the train stations to offer our help.
Seeing those forced to leave their homes, I wondered what I could do as a documentary filmmaker. Can film express what they are going through? Did I even have the right to try to tell their stories? Even after finishing this film, these questions still haunt me.
The short documentary above is my attempt to capture the poignant story of two young Ukrainians, Andrei and Alisa, as they try to rebuild their lives away from home and without their parents.
Friday in Whitewater will see afternoon clouds and scattered thundershowers with a high of 88. Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:27 PM for 15h 09m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.8% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1924, President Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.
The national May 2023 jobs numbers are now out, and they show impressive job gains. There is, however, a need to place big national gains in context.
Job growth jumped in May, reaffirming the labor market’s vigor despite a swirl of economic headwinds.
U.S. employers added 339,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said on Friday, an increase from a revised total of 294,000 in April.
The strong figures emerged from a survey of employers. A separate component of the report, based on a survey of households, yielded a somewhat dissonant picture.
That data showed a rise in the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent, from 3.4 percent, and a decrease of 310,000 in the number of people employed, as participation in the labor force was little changed.
Second, an observation from Joe Rennison about the national outlook:
The numbers showed conflicting signals — with an uptick in the unemployment rate alongside a sharp uptick in the number of new jobs — taken as a sign that people are returning to the labor market as the economy softens. That’s being read by the [stock] market as enough to keep the Fed from raising interest rates in June while still pointing to a resilient labor market.
Third, locally (or in many small Midwestern towns) a call for jobs, jobs, jobs doesn’t describe the needs these communities now have. Places like Whitewater, Wisconsin do not have large numbers of unemployed residents waiting for work. We are not in the Great Depression in Whitewater; we are living through the lingering effects of the Great Recession.
(There are two quick measures of a local official’s or resident’s economic understanding. If he thinks we have an unemployment problem, then he’s wrong to the bone. Individuals may be looking for work, but the community does not have large numbers of unemployed workers. If he thinks that we are in conventional economic times, and does not grasp that all accurate economic analyses depend on understanding that the Great Recession still lingers in Whitewater socio-economically, then he is wrong below the surface. That’s still wrong, however. What’s left of Old Whitewater never understood the Great Recession as a dark transformational moment in this city, and that’s why one rightly describes Old Whitewater as ‘what’s left of.’)
Economic public policy, and there will always been some efforts at economic intervention from state and local officials in the city’s private economy, should begin with grasping that our problems are socio-economic, where the socio, so to speak, is more complex and difficult to heal than a simpler effort at jobs-creation.
Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 87. Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:26 PM for 15h 08m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 91.8% of its visible disk illuminated.
It’s June 1st, and the United States House of Representatives managed last night to pass a debt-limit bill, on a vote of 314-117, to send to the Senate. These two federal chambers are not known for cooperation between parties, or often even within one party. Nonetheless, the House passed a bill that is likely to pass the Senate and reach the president’s desk.
Here, in Wisconsin, we’re still waiting for a state agreement on shared revenue in conditions of one-party legislative control. Local talk that a deal was imminent was only true if one stretched imminent beyond any reasonable definition; a deal was only in the works if in the works meant someone, somehow will think of something. See from 5.23.23 A Wisconsin Shared Revenue Deal Hasn’t Been Imminent for Months (Obviously).
“What happens if we don’t pass the bill?” Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) asked the bill’s co-authors during the hearing in the Senate Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection committee.
Much of the conversation focused on the consequences for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, which is headed towards a fiscal cliff if it’s not capable of securing additional revenue.
Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) said they’ve had some conversations with Milwaukee and Milwaukee County officials about the possibility.
“The city does have some pension reserve money and some [ARPA] money left over, so they might be able to limp through for a year,” Felzkowski told the committee. “But then at some point, cuts are going to start to happen.”
Felzkowski cited estimates that the city would need to cut $25 million in funding for its public library or about 545 police officer positions and 209 firemen positions to offset the pension costs, if there is no increase.
“I don’t think that’s healthy for the city,” Felzkowski said. “If this does not happen, we have a lot of other tough decisions to make and none of those are positive.”
A large surplus, collected through taxation, that the state government simply holds (hoards, truly) benefits no community in Wisconsin.