Before I get into each race, I would like to give some thoughts.
School Superintendents, School Board Directors (Members), and Judicial posts (Supreme Court and Circuit Court Judges) are all to be Non-partisan.
The email said volunteers were needed to help usher at the April 4 Parks and Rec Department's dance recital. Since I was going, thanks to a 5-year-old blossoming hoofer granddaughter, I could help out at the same time. So I said yes.
The dancers were adorable, but the conversation with one of the other ushers was confounding. The nine of us who had volunteered -- turns out by volunteering for the recital, I had actually signed on as a member of the team of regulars who help out on an ongoing basis at Performing Arts Center events -- chatted for a bit before the curtain went up Saturday evening. One fellow usher talked about her knee-replacement surgery of nearly eight months ago, which included 13 days of inpatient rehabilitation. Takes about a year, she said, before her knee would be completely recovered.
Then, for some reason, she moved on to universal health care, saying she was really opposed to "international healthcare." Socialism! I disagreed. Although citizens of countries that have universal healthcare pay higher taxes to cover the costs, everyone was covered. Plus the difference in taxes they pay is less than what Americans pay for their privatized coverage, either directly or indirectly, and 50 million of us have no coverage. Well, she said the care in "those countries" was terrible. Not from what I understand, I said, and related situations I knew about of Americans who had medical emergencies when they were either living in or visiting European countries, and the care they received at no cost to them.
Then it was time to get to work and I kept the rest to myself. I'll share it here, though.
No question the woman was over 65 years old and under Medicare. Who, I wanted to ask her, did she think paid for her knee-surgery and 13 days in the rehab facility? Most certainly it didn't come out of her pocket. Medicare is no less socialistic than England's or France's system, except it's limited to people like her. In fact, all healthcare coverage in the United States is based on a socialistic model. While an insurance company might pay the costs of a surgery -- minus deductbles, co-pays and before caps kick in -- the premiums of those who don't have major or high-cost medical conditions and events help pay for those who do.
A brew pub serving a half-dozen of its own beers along with lunch, dinner and brunch opened at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Francis.
St. Francis Brewery & Restaurant, at S. Kinnickinnic and E. Howard avenues, is a $2 million project by owner Cupol Enterprises. The glassy, contemporary building was constructed on land sold for $1 by the city to promote development.
No fewer than 638 local runners completed the Badgerland Striders South Shore Half-Marathon on Saturday, April 11th. My son came home from college for the weekend and ran the race with me. I should say he ran the first half of the race with me. After the half-way point, youthful energy beat out middle-aged wisdom and I did not see him again until the finish line! My son finished in 2:01:30 (two hours, one minute and 30 seconds) and I finished in about 2:16. This was a great father-son activity and I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend some quality time running with my son.
The weather was perfect. I have done this race for the past four years and this year had the best weather by far. In every prior race it was cold, windy and wet. There was standing water and mud on the course which meant after a certain point you were running with wet feet. Not optimal conditions for a 13.1-mile run! This year, however, the course was dry with no standing water or mud. The temperature was in the 30's but it was sunny and the wind chill was not nearly as severe as prior years.
As everyone knows by now, Capt. Richard Phillips of the ship Maersk Alabama, was rescued by the US Navy.Believe it or not, people are now freaking out because of the rescue.
They are saying that the US has now made it harder for the rest of the countries to get their sailors freed from pirates.They believe that the rescue has now moved piracy into a much more dangerous situation for the hostages. Backing the Pirates against a wall and forcing them to take much more drastic measures.
Oak Creek neighbor Kathleen Slamka sent the following info about the next South Shore Community Group Potluck meeting
Sunday, April 26
1:00 to 3:30 PM, Community Room
My oldest son recently went to an interview at our church. Our church requires an interview with all children before they can receive their first communion. This was something we expected. The was something we prepared for.
So on the day of the interview, we sit in the large, old Nativity of the Lord school office.
Let me kick off things here at The Spotlight by welcoming those of you who are reading this. I'm glad to be a part of the SouthMilwaukeeNOW community, and I look forward to having some great discussions about issues making news. While this blog will try to focus on stories and issues making news in the South Shore communities, from time to time you might catch me writing about a stories making news on the state and national level.
Having said all that, here's a few random post-election thoughts:
- It's good to see a new face on the South Milwaukee Common Council in the form of newly elected alderman Erik Brooks. Brooks ran a great campaign in South Milwaukee's fourth district, and he should be a good addition to the Common Council. One issue he talked about during his campaign was improving the City of South Milwaukee's website to bring it into the 21st century, and as someone who uses the web a lot, I think that's a great idea. The internet is an amazing wealth of information, and it's a shame South Milwaukee's city government isn't doing more to utilize their internet portal as a means of communicating with residents.
- Now that the spring 2009 election is over, the rumor mill has already started working overtime speculating about next year's spring and fall elections. I'm hearing lots of names being rumored to be interested in either running for office, or running for higher office, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see serious challengers to both State Senator Jeff Plale and State Representative Chris Sinicki.
- Speaking of State Representatives, who'll step up to run against Rep. Mark Honadel in 2010? I'd like to see a rematch of the Brower-Honadel race from 2008, but if I were a betting man, I'd put the chances of a rematch at less than 50-50. However, if Glen Brower doesn't run again, who will? What brave Democrat will step up to challenge Rep. Honadel?
The Patrick Cudahy Park Friends is busy at work and involved in several events for this spring. First, the Friends Group will be having a clean-up of Cudahy Park on Saturday, April 18th from 9 am to noon. (Ok, I know I'm a little late with this news, but it has been a super-busy week and I was late checking my mail). This clean-up will be held in conjunction with the Great American Clean-up.
Secondly, on Sunday, May 17th, The Park People will be hosting a Sunday Fun-day Membership Recruitment Event from 1-5 pm. Admission is $10. The admission price includes four beers, a Collectors Glass and a tour of the brewery. Musical entertainment will be provided by our home-town favorite Celtic band The Garlic Mustard Pickers. Raffle tickets will be sold to help raise money for this worthy cause. Sounds like a fun time!
As has been reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and SouthMilwaukeeNOW, South Milwaukee Fire Chief Jay Behling has been suspended for 90 days without pay as a penalty for using a racial slur multiple times on the job in front of subordinates. According to a poll on the front page of SouthMilwaukeeNOW, 36% of those responding feel termination is the most appropriate punishment for Behling's actions, but what's interesting to me is that 23% of those responding felt Behling should not have been suspended or fired. Now call me crazy - and you wouldn't be the first - but I can't understand how anyone feels that the repeated use of the "N" word by the Fire Chief for the City of South Milwaukee doesn't merit any type of disciplinary action. Perhaps if Chief Behling's comments had only been made once, I could see the argument for leniency, but considering Chief Behling made multiple remarks to multiple individuals - a clear pattern of behavior - he can't even argue it was an "honest mistake."
The NFL's annual draft is set for a week from today, starting at 3 p.m. Central Time. Wisconsin's team, the Green Bay Packers, have the ninth overall pick in the NFL draft, and I know a lot of folks here in Wisconsin are eager to see who General Manager Ted Thompson will pick with the Packers' pick. Count me among those eager fans who are interested to see what the Packers will do with their pick, but I'd also like to take a look at what the pundits are predicting the Packers will do.
- Don Banks of Sports Illustrated has the Packers picking B.J. Raji, a defensive tackle from Boston College, who some have rated as the draft's top defensive tackle.
- Mel Kiper of ESPN also has the Pack picking Raji, as do the folks from the Sporting News' War Room, who've said of Raji, "the Packers need a nose tackle to make their 3-4 work. Raji is the only elite prospect in the draft."
While you obviously have to respect the experts who have the Packers picking B.J. Raji, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the Packers will pick DE/LB Brian Orakpo of Texas, barring a trade that moves a team into the top ten of the draft. I think the Jacksonville Jaguars will pick Raji with the eighth pick in the first round, and given the Packers' move to a 3-4 defense under Dom Capers, the team's new defensive coordinator, Orapko would be a nice pickup as a pass rushing defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. The Packers' pass rush was anemic at times last season, and Orapko has the potential to be a force as a pass rusher in the NFL. If the Packers don't pick Orapko or B.J. Raji with their first round pick, let's just hope the team addresses their defense early on in the draft, because the defense was definitely one of the team's Achilles' heels last season.
I'm a big fan of transparency in government, whether that government is on the national, state, or local level. I think government works best when it's operating in the light of day, and here in Wisconsin we're fortunate to have open records laws that allow citizens to be able to request information from their government. Exactly 10 days ago today (April 10, 2009), I made use of our state's open records laws to submit a request to the School District of South Milwaukee (through Superintendent David Ewald) for information regarding administrative compensation, specifically the pay raises the school district's administrators have received over the past four years. I've been told administrators have received raises in the neighborhood of 13% over the previous two years, a figure that doesn't include the 4.1% raise the South Milwaukee school board just gave to administrators for the 2008-09 school year. If the figures I've heard are correct, then a 17.1% raise over three years certainly seems generous, but rather than believe everything I hear, I want to get the facts for myself, hence the open records request.
According to the statute governing open records requests, the authority responsible for handling such requests shall, "as soon as practicable and without delay, either fill the request or notify the requester of the authority's determination to deny the request in whole or in part and the reasons therefor." As I mentioned, I made my request 10 days ago, and I have yet to receive a reply from anyone in the South Milwaukee School District regarding my request, which got me to wondering...what constitutes "as soon as practicable and without delay?" A few days, a few weeks...what's the time frame? What's more, how long will it take the South Milwaukee School District to honor the request I sent?
Just a few things on a crisp Wednesday evening...
- Isral Debruin of SouthMilwaukeeNOW is reporting South Milwaukee may not have a farmers market this summer. Due to health concerns, Fred
Bauer, the organizer of the South Milwaukee Green Market, will be unable to manage the market, and he's struggling to find
someone to take on the responsibility of managing the market. However, despite his health concerns, Bauer has been telling people to look for the market, which is usually held on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. between May and October at the Divine Mercy Parish in on Manitoba Avenue in South Milwaukee. As reported, anyone interested in taking leadership of the South Milwaukee Green Market should call Fred Bauer at (262) 835-4386.
To be honest, it would be great to see someone step up and take over the reins of the South Milwaukee farmers market, because farmers markets are a great way for folks in a given community to get fresher fruits and vegetables than they might get in the supermarket.
- It's now been 12 days (though only 8 business days since I made an open records request from the South Milwaukee School District, and still no response. I'm sure a response to my open records request is coming any day now, but it could be worse - I could still be waiting for a request sent in June 2008. The fact that a request made in June 2008 still hasn't been responded to is galling, and while I'd love to believe the request got "lost," I'm a cynic when it comes to the inner workings of local governments and their willingness to be transparent.
- It looks like the home of former NBA player (and Milwaukee native) Latrell Sprewell is back in foreclosure after Sprewell failed to pay the mortgage on the home between December and April. This is the second time Sprewell's house in River Hills has been in foreclosure, and he's also had his yacht seized and sold at auction. And did I mention Sprewell has judgments against him totalling more than $820,000? He does, and given the difficulties he's had managing his money, it makes me wonder if Sprewell regrets turning down a $21 million contract extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the irony in that being that when he turned down the contract extension, Sprewell said it wasn't enough money and he had a "family to feed." It's sad and more than a little disturbing that a man who made $96.62 million over the course of his careerin the NBA can't make ends meet now that he's retired, but then again, it shouldn't be surprising, considering how many professional athletes find themselves struggling to maintain their lifestyles once their playing careers are over.
Getting my book "Anatomy of a Trial" on people's radar is taking some doing -- sort of like walking around the world -- one step at a time.
One step out here in Los Angeles got a pleasant boost when an NBC staffer I met after one of my presentations at my alma mater, California State University, Fullerton, on Monday asked if we (hubby's here with me) planned to go to Jay Leno's show. We thought that would be fun, we said. She could arrange it, she said. I told her I had sent Leno a signed copy of my book -- in which he's mentioned -- a couple of months ago in appreciation for his generousity during the Simpson murder trial. He had performed a private show -- monologue, band, the works -- for the jurors after learning that we had to scrap the idea of having the jurors, who were sequestered, attend his show in Burbank because his production crew couldn't guarantee that they wouldn't be shown on TV. (California prohibits photographing and televising jurors.)
Here comes the sun ---- it's been a long, cold, lonely winter ! ("Here Comes the Sun" from Abby Road by the Beatles). Are you sick and tired of winter? Are your thoughts turning to summer and gardening? If yes, then you are in luck because the South Milwaukee Middle School will be holding a Native Plant Sale on Saturday, May 9th. The sale will start at 9 am and end around noon. The location is Door 49 at South Milwaukee Middle School.
Mother's Day is just around the corner and plants make great Mother's Day gifts! The cost starts at only $1.00 per plant so even if you are on a limited budget there is something here for you. Many of the plants actually cost less than if you purchased them at a Garden Store so make sure to mark this date on your calendar.
Exactly a week ago today, I wrote about South Milwaukee Fire Chief Jay Behling, who used racially insensitive - and many would say downright hostile - language in referring to African-Americans to fellow firefighters. The word used by Fire Chief Behling to refer to African-Americans is widely considered to be grossly offensive in mainstream English usage, but here in South Milwaukee opinion is mixed as to whether or not Chief Behling's language was really racist or offensive. For example, in a recent user-submitted story, John Thornton wrote that the remarks by the fire chief had nothing to do with race. What I'm wondering is how the use of the word Chief Behling used in front of fellow firefighters in reference to African-Americans in this community isn't racist and offensive.
A recent SouthMilwaukeeNOW poll that asked, "What is fair punishment for fire chief who made racist comments?" Surprisingly - or not surprisingly, depending on your point of view - 24% of those who responded to the poll indicated Chief Behling should not have been suspended or fired. While the poll itself is far from scientific, given the fact that anyone (including people living outside South Milwaukee) can respond to the poll, it's disheartening to see that almost a quarter of the nearly 2,400 people who responded think that racist comments by the fire chief of a community of 20,000 residents doesn't merit termination - or even suspension for that matter.
Cardinal Stritch University is dropping plans to buy the Cousins Center site in St. Francis, and will not pursue a planned $150 million expansion in that community, the university is telling its employees.
Cardinal Stritch will let its purchase option expire on Thursday, and will drop negotiations with the Milwaukee Archdiocese, which owns the property, according to a university employee who received an email about that decision.
So I guess I don’t understand why it’s ok for any member of congress to switch party affiliations in the middle of a term.
Arlen Specter a 29 year Republican has switched to the other side. He is now a democrat.I have no problem with someone switching their party affiliations, but I don’t think it should be allowed while you are serving an active term.
Yesterday was our "Jay Leno" day. An NBC official I met at Cal State Fullerton's Comm Week last week after my presentations there arranged for us to attend the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and meet him afterwards so I could give him a copy of "Anatomy of a Trial." While her connections didn't get us on the front row, neither were we in the nose-bleed seats. And true to our new friend's promise, we were escorted to the stage after the show's taping was finished where we shook Leno's hand, I gave him my book -- signed to him, which included a big 'Happy Birthday!' given that yesterday was his birthday, and we had a photo taken with him.
Imagine that! I gave Jay Leno my book on his birthday. Happy birthday, Jay!
Officials announced Thursday evening that at least two probable cases of swine flu have been identified in Milwaukee and said four city schools will be closed through the end of the week. One adult and one child in the city are believed to have swine flu, Bevan D. Baker, Milwaukee's health commissioner, said during a news conference. A third probable case was identified in Adams County, officials said. A number of children with connections to the two cases are exhibiting symptoms of swine flu, Baker said. Those children attend various Milwaukee Public Schools, Baker said.Officials said the following schools will be closed Thursday and Friday:
- Mitchell Street School, 1728 S. 23rd St.
- Riverside High School, 1615 E. Locust St.
- Clement Avenue School, 3666 S. Clement Ave.
- Rogers Street Academy, 2430 W. Rogers St.
It's important to keep in mind that the suspected cases of swine flu in Milwaukee are just suspected cases; they haven't actually been confirmed as positively being swine flu.