Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harding for Mayor

I am impressed with mayoral candidate Jody Harding. I won't offer biographical info as you can look that up yourself at

Though interested in politics and even more so policy, I usually prefer to keep my distance from politicians. But I think I will make an exception for Jody Harding.

Harding is not by any stretch of the imagination part of any good old boys network in Racine. She is not a backslapper. What she is, it appears to me, is a mature, competent, experienced, decent, committed individual genuinely interested in the betterment of Racine.

Now the same might be said about many of the other candidates. The difference between her and them, to the best of my ability to discern, is that she will take the exact opposite approach to improving Racine.

So instead of more government, she will try to shrink it. Instead of higher taxes, she will try to lower them. Instead of more regulations on garage sales etc... she will seek fewer regulations.

If you want big government, don't vote for Jody Harding. But if you think 50 consecutive years of liberalism hasn't worked out so well for Racine, I suggest taking a good long look at Jody Harding for mayor of Racine.

Thought of the Day

Offer your time and money and you are engaged in volunteerism and charity. Offer another's time and money and you are engaged in slavery and theft.

On Public Discrimination

According to an AP article: Congress on Tuesday sent to the White House a bill that makes it easier for women and others to sue for pay discrimination. Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

Meanwhile, State Rep Bob Turner has "introduced a bill in the Assembly that would require all employers in Wisconsin to grant a paid leave of absence on Veterans Day to employees who are veterans" according to a JT article.

I wonder if the new federal bill will allow Wisconsins non-veterans to sue Bob Turner for wage discrimination.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Questions of the Day

Why is there such a thing as a stimulus spending package but not recessulus or depressulus spending packages? Is all spending stimulative?

Monday, January 26, 2009

More on Local Child-care Scams

I called County Executive Bill McReynolds today hoping to talk to him about the child-care scams recently exposed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. See two most recent posts. McReynolds returned my call and set up a meeting between me and Debra Jossart, Director of Human Services Department and three supervisors responsible for approving payments to child-care providers and rooting out fraud.

Bottom line, I have no idea whether county employees are doing an exceptional job, a mediocre job, or a lousy job of preventing fraud.

But the larger problem is the program itself. In order to encourage work, the state, with federal funds, will pay for child care expenses. Under some circumstances this could be a great idea. However, when the state pays a child-care provider $85,000 so that someone can earn $20,000 at a minimum wage job, I have to question the value of such a program. Because of the large difference between a minumum wage salary and the state payout for child-care services, an opportunity exists to defraud the system. Even without outright fraud, I fail to see how the larger society gains by paying huge sums of money so that someone can work a minimum wage job.

And I must admit, I don't know what to do with or for poor, single women and their multiple children. But I do think we should remove the incentives that exist for women to have multiple children and then use them to milk the government for profit.

And lastly, I have asked Bill McReynolds, via voice mail, what, if anything, county employees or county government could do to reduce the fraud. If I hear anything, I will let you know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Stingy, Child-Abusing Taxpayers

I love this tidbit from Charity Elison, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families, a nonprofit advocacy organization that has been studying W-2 and the Wisconsin Shares programs.

In a Milwaukee J-S article (see previous post) exploring Wisconsin Shares child-care scams, Elison defended the program, saying that "without child-care assistance, parents have been forced to leave their children in locked cars or in other unsafe situations."

Got that taxpayers! You are forcing parents to lock their children in cars. Shame on you!

Racine Scam-child-care Industry Exposed

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a very lenghty investigative article on child-care scams in Wisconsin. I would recommend reading the article, but in case you don't have a spare half hour, I will provide some of the lowlights and my observations.

The scam goes something like this: A woman with multiple children teams up with someone claiming to be a child care provider and someone claiming to be an employer. Even the most ridiculous employment claims are unquestionably accepted. So the state pays the child care provider money to take care of the children, and, presumably, the mother and the fake child care providers share in the take.

Now on to a few particular cases from Racine. One scammer, convicted cocaine dealer Katia Wright used her seven children to scam the state out of $85,000. She teamed up with a Kenosha man who claimed to employ her, though the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has no record of taxes filed for the business. Also, the fictitious business carried no worker's compensation insurance, and this should have disqualified him as an eligible employer.

And then there is Talisha Burkhart, a check forging mother of six, also from Racine. Her scam is much like Wright's, so I will spare you those details. But here is what she had to say when confronted by the Sentinel reporter: "I work. I work. It's 50,000 child-care providers around here... My auntie's a child-care provider, my uncle's a child-care provider, cousins are child-care providers, everybody's a child-care provider around me, but this is the only person that I know ya'll have talked to."

Even if everything is above board, as in real children, a real employer, and real day care providers, does it really make sense to pay someone $85,000 so that a mother of seven can earn less than $20,000 at a minimum wage job? It would be far less ridiculous to just pay the woman minimum wage to take care of her own children.

Friday, January 23, 2009

No Current Aldermen for Mayor

I can not, in good conscience, recommend any of Racine's current aldermen to be the next mayor. Here is why:

I have personally brought to the attention of the entire city council that one of their ordinances is unconstitutional. I have also witnessed several others make nearly identical claims.

Here in the US of A, we have a right to appeal to the judicial branch of government when the executive branch accuses us of something. Remember that separation of powers, three branches of government stuff from civics class? Yet, when Racine's Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) fines residents for various infractions, said residents no longer have the right to state their case in court. Instead, they have to appeal to the same people that fined them in the first place. This is simply not right and it is not how we do things in this country.

I suppose I am just a crank for caring about such things. Even so, when EVERY member of the city council is able to casually dismiss serious charges without, to the best of my knowledge, any attempt to refute said charges, I must conclude that each and every one of them is quite comfortable with curtailing the rights of the citizens they claim to represent.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back from Vacation

Sorry readers for the extended blog break. I went on vacation to San Antonio and while their I tried to avoid thinking about politics. I failed.

In San Antonio, there was news that the city had "found" $30 million from unspent bonds or something. The pols were positively giddy about the ways they would spend the money. Giving the money back to taxpayers was not among the proposals. Politicians thinking they know best is not a problem unique to Racine.

I talked with a shopkeeper in SA who was worried that the city would sell the property and that new owners would raise the rent. Or, to put it another way, a shopkeeper has enjoyed artificially reduced rents (for thirty years) while consumers, taxpayers and retail competitors have paid the price. At least Racine isn't in the commercial real estate business, thank goodness.

And San Antonio is quite nice. They have a famous river walk area, the people were friendly, the food was good and the weather was sunny and 60's and 70's.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thought of the Day

I miss the mild winters we used to have before global warming.

Move On Racine

I don't wish to pile on here but Mayor Gary Becker should resign or be removed from office. If you read the entire complaint against the mayor, you will understand.

The mayor of a city is the public face of a city. Our public face would hereafter be met with snickering or disgust or even rage. How could we possibly move forward with this baggage? What would we attract to Racine if we become known as a pedophile tolerant city? Yes, the question does sort of answer itself.

This is no longer about Gary Becker. The issue now resides squarely with the city council. They should move now to remove Becker from office, not for retribution sake, but for the health of our community. Gary Becker will have his day in court as he should. But Racine needs to move on with new leadership.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stimulating Voters/Harming the Country

Receiving money is stimulating, no doubt. Conversely, giving it up, or paying taxes, is destimulating. So when governments hand out cash or advantages that will result in cash, some people are being stimulated while others, namely those who are paying more in taxes than they are receiving in cash, are being destimulated.

The Obama administration will no doubt seek to stimulate those who voted for him and hope that the rest don't notice how much they have been destimulated. The problem for the entire country is that too much stimulus given to less productive people or entities (public education, unionized auto manufacturers, cost inneffective green businesses etc...)and too much destimulation of the productive will cause great harm to the economy which will in turn destimulate, or depress, productive and unproductive alike.

But it worked politically for FDR and I suspect it will work politically for BO, even as it damages the country.

Inauguration Indoctrination

According to a Journal Sentinel article, MPS School Board president Peter Blewett has called for a special meeting in order to encourage MPS schools to

"suspend the use of its normal curriculum and encourage teachers to develop appropriate lessons focused on presidential inauguration activities.... Milwaukee Public Schools should instill in its students a keen awareness of the presidential inauguration as a sign of continuity or the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy and encourage active participation of schools in emphasizing the importance and historical significance of the Inauguration."

Sounds great, but I don't recall a similar effort to urge students to participate in the peaceful transition of power from Bill Clinton to George Bush.

I wonder what it is about this particular inauguration that captures the fancy of Peter Blewett.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helping the Poor

There is a fellow over at RacinePost grousing that he didn't get a $5.6 million subsidy for his low income housing project. You can read more about it here:

According to the article, the $9 million project would have included 4500 square feet of retail and 24 housing units. Even if they spent $1 million on the retail portion, that would mean each of the housing units would have cost $333,333 each. And that is considered low income housing?

The developer claims "his market study showed a need for large, nice housing units for low-income families."

Interesting. My market study shows that the poor need 80ft yachts, country club memberships and vacation homes in the Hamptons.

I realize that I am regularly criticized for just writing and/or complaining. I am ready to step up now and help the poor. I will provide for all their needs so long as the rest of you subsidize my efforts. Deal?

Racine Unified Budget Info

Racine Unified has a projected spending budget of just under $260 million for the 08-09 school year. That amounts to roughly $12,380 per each of the 21,000 or so students. This information can be obtained by securing a copy of the budget or by reading this blog. It can't be obtained by listening/reading the false statements of Unified's chief financial officer quoted at the Racine Post:

I will be looking into the budget a bit more in the coming days, but for now just realize that the CFO at Racine Unified misunderestimated the budget by about $50 million. That kind of thing could have gotten him in trouble if he worked at, say, Enron.

Monday, January 12, 2009

City Discrimination Ordinance is Discriminatory

Thanks to Dustin at Racinepost, I have been scrutinizing a City of Racine ordinance concerning discrimination. The following is how the city defines discrimination:

Discriminate, discrimination and discriminating refer to any type of act or refusal to act prohibited by this article, which is based to any degree on a consideration by the actor of the age, sex, race, color, veteran’s status, disabled veteran's status, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, familial status or economic status of any other person.

Very well. So you can't act or refuse to act, to ANY degree, based on a person's sex, race etc...

And yet, in the very same ordinance, Racine attempts to tackle the problem of unequal employment in the following manner:

(b) Since the prohibition of discriminatory practices is not sufficient to effectuate the principle of equal employment without affirmative and direct action, the city adopts this article designed to increase the representation of under-represented groups in all departments, job classifications, and salary categories in city employment. The city, in developing the affirmative action plan, shall require an affirmative action plan from vendors, contractors, and firms with which it does business of $10,000.00 or more per contract.

If discrimination is acting or refusing to act based in ANY way on a persons race, gender etc... then any attempt to help under-represented groups is an action based to some degree on race, gender etc...

In other words, the attempt by Racine to help under-represented groups violates their own policy regarding discrimination.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

God Bless Armed Robbers

I have never been robbed at gunpoint, so I can't know for sure how I would react. But somehow I doubt I would say "God bless you" to the perpetrators as they left with my cash.

But this is how one Hilary Chavez, in a Journal Sentinel letter to the editor, claims to have reacted after having been robbed recently. While being robbed Chavez thought that perhaps the young perpetrators were "looking for a little Christmas money" or "may have had problems with addiction." Her larger point was to defend the idea of "restorative justice" which "provides the opportunity to show criminals that their actions have consequences for others" and that we can't "incarcerate our way out of the drug problem." Chavez is the Program Coordinator of Milwaukee Treatment Initiative, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.

I don't claim to know much about "restorative justice", but I can state, unequivocally, that we should be highly suspicious of any policy proposals coming from someone who's first instinct is to excuse and even bless the behavior of armed robbers.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On Middle East Peace

Dr. Kenneth Yorgan, chairman of the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice, has a commentary in today's Journal Times entitled "It's time for Israel to make a real commitment to peace."

How does Israel achieve peace with an armed enemy acting on their plainly stated goal of ending Israel's existence?

A prerequisite for peace, it seems to me, would be an acknowledgement that Israel and Jews have a right to live. And unless that acknowledgement is forthcoming from Israel's enemies, peace is obviously not possible.

Why is this not obvious to Dr. Yorgan and the members of the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

JT Endorses Racine's Subprime Housing Ventures

The following are excerpts from the Journal Times' editorial endorsing the city of Racine's continued forays into the subprime housing business, interspersed with my comments:

JT: Hope isn't a feeling that normally lingers around forclosures, but it might be soon.

DN: Hope... or willful delusion? We will see.

JT: The city of Racine plans to apply for federal funding to buy and renovate forclosed homes....Officials are prepared for ther own version of "Flip This House," but the city shouldn't be in this game for the profit.

DN: No need to worry about profit.

JT: If leaders receive the full $2 million they're requesting, that could cover up to 20 homes. That might not make a huge dent, at least initially. The difference will be measured years down the line.

DN: Very well. We are now "years down the line" from the city's previous forays into the subprime housing market. How about we measure how those investments panned out?

JT: The small size of the project should also inhibit any desires government might have to gentrify the city and push out existing residents.

DN: Yes, this gets to the heart of the problem. The government of Racine, and the JT evidentally, share the view that policy should favor government dependents over taxpayers. Thus they both want to take money from wealth producers and funnel it to people who aren't productive enough to buy a home.

JT: Left to the market, forclosed homes could easily land in the hands of slum landlords.

DN: Let's do away with the market and have the Journal Times decide who gets to buy homes and for how much.

JT: As buildings fall into disrepair and fill with unscrupulous tenants...

DN: Maybe it would make sense to gentrify and "push out existing residents," especially the unscrupulous.

JT: Owners are the ones most invested in a community, and they're more likely to pounce on a home that's already in decent shape.

DN: So who's stopping anyone from buying these homes now? Oh wait, I get it. You want these homes to go to people who can't afford to pay for them.

JT: Racine is already piling up experience in real estate, having taken on several homes from the defunct Southside Revitalization Corp and a few others that were forclosed for nonpayment of city-issued loans.

DN: In other words, the city has experience FAILING in the real estate business.

JT: Affordable homes must be exactly that, and prospective buyers should be scrutinized to ensure the forclosure cycle doesn't start anew.

DN: Banks traditionally are the ones that "scrutinize" prospective home buyers. Anyone who passes this scrutiny can buy these homes now, so this entire program is pointless.... except the purpose here is to get homes into the hands of people that the bank considers too risky. Ie, these are subprime loans we are talking about.

JT: We would hope the city learned enough lessons from the financial crunch to handle this carefully.

DN: Ha, this is funny. The financial crisis was caused by banks loaning to people who couldn't pay pack the loans. And now the city wants to loan money to people that banks are taking a pass on. What has the JT learned from the financial crunch?

JT: Times are too dire for leaders to sit back and wail about what's going wrong.

DN: Yes, dry your eyes and do the same thing that didn't work the last time.

JT: Let's hope the key fits.

DN: It doesn't.

Tax Inequity Exposed

City officials are reacting favorably towards a proposed $7.2 million West Racine residential/retail development. The project is dependent on a $5.2 million tax credit according to an article in today's JT.

According to my back of the envelope calculations based on my own property tax obligations, I figured that a $7.2 million property would owe approximately $170,000 per year in property taxes. Therefore, a $5.2 million tax credit would amount to thirty years worth of property taxes waived, or more accurately, assumed by those who do pay property taxes.

As some of you may know, I recently concluded my own redevelopment project. My taxes are now over $11,000 per year. Not having to pay property taxes for thirty years would mean $330,000 more in my pocket. And I am sure any property owner reading this would be more than happy to be relieved of thirty years worth of property tax obligations.

Now I am all for tax relief, don't misunderstand me. But it should be fairly applied. In this case, out of town developers are getting a thirty year tax break while you and I get stuck paying their share of the tax burden for the next thirty years. Why would we want this?

Monday, January 05, 2009

On Second Thought

Regarding the fairness of the JT, during the last 10 days or so I have seen the following photos on the front page: a bloody Palestinian reaching out from a pile of rubble, Israeli soldiers firing guns, A Palestinian woman holding up a red (signifying blood) hand in protest of Israel's military actions, an Israeli tank near the border of the Gaza strip, a crater and severely damaged buildings resulting from an Israeli bomb, a Palistinian man crying while holding the body of one of his children, and finally, today a young Palestinian girl crying because, according to the caption, a relative had been killed during an Israeli air strike.

The message being sent via these heartbreaking pictures is unrelenting Israeli aggression and loss of innocent Palestinian life. The message is a lie.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fair and Balanced JT

Not surprisingly, the Journal Times covered the publicity seeking Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice's protest of Isreal's offensive against the rocket launchers in Gaza.

Very surprisingly, they also wrote an article entitled "There's no reason for Isreal to commit national suicide" which was essentially a response from members of a local Jewish congregation.

Congratulations JT for being fair and balanced. And if you need a person on staff that can consistently articulate the position of the other side, well, you know where to find me.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Identify the Course Offerings

I am thinking about taking a course at Parkside. The following are some of the course I am considering. Try to identify the bogus course offerings.

1)Understanding White Privilege
2)Feminism in Philosophy
3)Dead White Male Appreciation
4)Capitalism and Economic Growth
5)LGBT Studies
6)Lesbian Literature
7)History of Conservative Thought
8)Literature Classics
9)Problems in Industrial Society
10)Problems in Socialist Society