Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Facts Be Damned

The JT weighs in on the Harvard professor/Cambridge cop flap today. You can read it here.

After some common sense suggestions such as "know the facts" and "words have consequences" the JT shifted gears and wrote "Did Gates react strongly because he thought he was being targeted, was just another black man denied simple respect in a nation with a history of poor race relations, especially where police are concerned? Had the police officer already seen enough obnoxious citizens that day, and was he running low on patience, even though he appears to otherwise be an exemplar of good race relations?"

So after lecturing the president regarding the facts, the JT then enters pure speculation mode. Notice the speculation involves putting the professor in the best possible light, that he "was just another black man denied simple respect etc..." Are there any facts to support this? No, the known facts suggest otherwise.

And again, the JT speculates about the cop, a good guy that was having a bad day and lost his patience. Notice that this puts the cop in a poor light on the day in question. Is there any evidence to support this? No.

The JT concludes with "perhaps this will become the genesis for an honest re-examination of police race relations instead of a recitation of old stereotypes."

Right. The JT, in contradiction of the known facts, makes up a scenerio that includes the old stereotype of the cop having a bad day and taking it out on the oppressed minority. And then they have the nerve to call for a re-examination of old stereotypes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Helding for Socialized Health Care

I have to take issue with Greg Helding with such regularity that I am concerned that he might think its personal. It isn't personal Greg. It is all about policy. The following quote is from the Racine Post article on a local health care forum. Read it all here

Alderman Greg Helding (above) discussed the potential impact of health care reform on the local level. Helding estimated 20 percent of the city's budget pays for employees' health care. Switching to a single-payer system that charges an 8 percent payroll tax would save the city millions of dollars it could use for additional street maintenance and city services, like police.

This year alone the city is expecting an 11 percent increase in its health care costs, Helding said. Over time health care costs could grow to 10 times the amount of the city's property tax levy, a number that is simply unsustainable, he said.

"(Health care) costs us a lot of money and it's increasing rapidly," Helding said.

Greg has it partly right. We are spending a ton on medical care for city employees. My guess is the reason for that is that virtually everything is covered ( viagra etc...), there is little co-pay or employee contribution towards premiums etc... Thus we have created incentives for employees to overuse the health care system since others are paying the bill. Of course this is a recipe for the financial disaster that is looming in Racine and no doubt elsewhere. But Greg Helding thinks that nationalizing the idea that is bankrupting Racine would be a good idea.

Not a good idea. Our local politicians over the years have offered benifits to municipal employees that are now obviously unsustainable. Faced with this looming disaster that they created, they now want to foist the bill on to federal government/taxpayers. The problem of course is that every local or state government entity that has been irresponsible will be doing the same. Not sure how any savings will miraculously appear out of such a maneuver.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Customer Always Wrong at Jimmie Johns

I normally don't write negative posts about local businesses, but I am going to make an exception here. Today I went to buy a couple of turkey sandwiches from the Jimmie Johns at Highways 31 and 20. My son wanted only turkey and lettuce while my wife wanted turkey with everything. They had a sub that was a bit cheaper that included just meat and cheese. I asked if I could substitute lettuce for the cheese. No I could not. This seemed kind of odd and slightly annoying. Fine, just turkey then and the turkey with everything. So the employee starts making the turkey with everything and he puts gobs of lettuce on it. I stopped him and asked if he could take that lettuce and put it on the other sub. No, he couldn't. Now I am getting seriously annoyed. This kid wouldn't take five seconds to scoop the lettuce off one sub and put it on the other, but I could order a side of lettuce. So I walked out and took my business to the Cousins Subs down the street. An employee on break outside the Jimmie Johns said that this was their policy. This seems extremely odd to me, but if it is indeed their policy, my policy will be to shop elsewhere.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dickert Sighting Update

Not exactly earth shattering news here but in a follow up to a previous post it now turns out that Mayor Dickert did visit my store last week. And what's more, I was in the store at the time. I was in my office but the mayor opted not to have my employee call me from my office. Perhaps he thought I was working and didn't want to interrupt. Or perhaps he had another reason for visiting besides talking to me. I have no idea. All I know is that I have been hoping to meet with him about ideas for improving the city but have had no luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

JT Welcomes Crude Sexual Insults

The Journal Times, following the lead of the Racine Post, is now accepting the use of the term "tea baggers" in its letters to the editor. Serial letter writer Earl Christianson used the term today in describing a person who introduced him as a socialist.

Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, teabagging involves, er, scrotum and face contact - sorry readers and there goes my pg rating.

Now again, to the best of my knowledge, the political rallies that generally involved protest against excessive government spending did not, I repeat NOT, involve any scrotum and face contact.

It has been a while since I have attended any left leaning political parties but I suppose it is now permissible to suggest, in crude detail, all manner of sexual activities that occur there. Just not on my site please. But by all means share your crude thoughts with the Journal Times.

Got Plans?

Subject: Communication from the Director of the Racine County
Planning and Development Department and the Principal Planner for
the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
transmitting to the City of Racine for formal consideration of the Draft
Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan For Racine County.

Got that? Planners plan to announce their plans tonight to planners who no doubt will plan some planning meetings to consider the plan. It is tonight at the city council meeting. I can't attend the meeting as I already have plans.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Call Me

I called Mayor Dickert a month or so ago, shortly after he took office. I had hoped to speak with the mayor about a range of issues, mostly relating to economic development. The mayor was out of town, I was told, attending conferences etc... and he would get back to me. Fine, I thought, we have a new mayor, everyone wants his ear, he is busy. A few weeks later I left a message asking if I might be able to set up an appointment with the mayor. A week or so passed when I received a call from a gentleman from the mayors office who apologized and chalked up the mistake to inexperience. The mayor was out of town with family and he would get back to me soon. A few more weeks have now passed and I have yet to hear from the mayor or his office. I could call again but then I would feel like a stalker.

I am not all that keen on private meetings with public officials anyway, so I will share with readers some of what I had hoped to discuss. There was a businessman interested in purchasing a prominent (and empty) downtown building. He wanted to renovate it and had talked to me several times about my own experiences in rehabbing a downtown building. Like any sensible person risking his own money, he was exploring said risks, some of which involve the city and their approach/attitude toward development. I thought it might be wise for him to meet with Mayor Dickert. Of course no meeting with Mayor Dickert took place, the building was not purchased, I haven't heard from the businessman and I now wonder what might have been. Presently I am trying to help another family start their business in downtown but the game is rigged such that his venture is now entirely dependent on approval by our politicians. I am referring to the Chun family who hope to move to Racine and open a convenient store that also sells beer.

Meanwhile, news is that the mayor is busy attending conferences and hoping to bring businesses to Racine. That is all well and good I suppose, so long as some time remains, to return calls from the businesses that already exist, and to meet with folks eager to open businesses in Racine.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Equality Extremism on the Left

I have been arguing a bit with Kay and her pals over at Kay's Blue Racine. Initially I took Kay to task for insinuating that Van Wanggaard is a white supremicist because he used the Norwegian word for "welcome" on his campaign web site. Anyway, the discussion gradually came around to campaign financing and of course they all want public campaigns. But if you are going to level the money/financial support aspect of campaigns, why stop there? Make a law ensuring that each campaign gets an equal number of public campaign workers, working equal numbers of hours on identical campaign strategies. Of course, to be fair we need equal amounts of positive and negative press stories. There goes freedom of the press. But if we really want fairness, we need to ensure that each candidate gets equal numbers of votes...

But doesn't all this equality undermine the whole point of elections, which are contests to detirmine the inequality of support between prospective candidates?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free Racine/LiberTEA Racine Social Gathering

All are welcome on Friday July 24th to the third annual Free Racine social event. And since there is considerable overlap between Free Racine and the goals of LiberTEA Racine, what the heck, let's combine the two for an evening. I will be a guest bartender at Asiana, one of my favorite restaurants downtown, on the evening of the 24th. Asiana is located at 423 6th Street in downtown Racine. Among the attendees, I hope, will be the Chun family, who are hoping to get a beer license for their prospective pantry to be located accross from Asiana. As you may know, LiberTea Racine has agreed to help the Chuns get their license and we may need your help. Anyway, the purpose of the evening will be to fill Asiana with customers, to fill yourself with excellent food and drink, to fulfill the goals of LiberTEA Racine, and to get your fill of me for another year. Let me know if you might attend. Thanks, Denis.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

No Freebies for Government Employees

Racine Aldermen Aron Wisneski and Terry McCarthy have proposed a program wherein local government employees would be given land and lower taxes if they built a home on the property and lived their for five years. Read about it here.

Sorry aldermen but this is just plain wrong. If you are going to offer opportunities for free land and lower taxes, offer it to everyone. Otherwise it would appear to all that you are just rewarding your own.

On a positive note, at least you are implicitly acknowledging the problem of high taxes in Racine. And Wisneski is getting somewhere by showing interest in "studying the possibility of creating small TIF districts where homebuyers could receive benefits for moving into the city if they make improvements to the home."

This is something I have advocated numerous times on this blog. Instead of punishing people who improve their properties, in the form of a big tax increase, they should give them a tax break for several years on the improvements. Offer the program to everyone to ensure fairness.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Confrontation and Response

Yesterday before the Landmarks Commission meeting I asked commission member Bob Hartman if I might have a moment of his time. I had to hoped to ensure that my previous remarks at a public meeting were not misconstrued. Too late for that I discovered. I did not deserve a moment of his time he said with barely constrained anger.

Let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago I spoke at a public hearing concerning the south side historic preservation ordinance. Since it was often stated that the proposed ordinance would be modelled after the downtown Design Review Commission ordinance, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my experiences with the DR commission at the hearing. I had hoped to thread a needle, so to speak, in that I had intended to express my disagreement with the coercive aspects of the Design Review Commission, namely that I was compelled to obtain their permission, while not offering any criticism of Bob Hartman or his work. I had hired BH in part because I was offered an incentive to do so by the Downtown Racine Corporation. I thought then and I think now that BH's work was just fine and I had hoped that I would have been able to make that clear. However, my ten minute or so prepared statement had to be pared down to three minutes, so I was concerned that I was not as clear as I had hoped to be. Hence my request for a moment of BH's time.

So when Bob did consent to my request, he expressed his anger over my supposed accusation that I was compelled to hire BH. I was taken aback by this accusation, knowing full well that I did not hold that view then, now or ever. When given a chance to speak, I indicated as much and offered an apology if that was indeed what I had said.

My quasi-apology did not result in a more amiable conversation as BH apparently had other concerns on his mind. BH strongly suggested that I would have been unaffected by the proposed ordinance. He challenged my assertion that I would have been better off without having been subjected to the cost and effort associated with the Downtown Review Commission. And finally he said that I was confrontational, despite Mayor Dickert's admonition that speakers be respectful etc... I asked him to elaborate on the charge that I was confrontational but all he could muster was an exasperated response suggesting that it was quite obvious that I had been confrontational. "How so?" I implored at which point he said I should sit down (as we were approaching the meeting. At this point I admittedly had no more patience for his behavior and I told he has no right to tell me to sit down. And that was that.

So I share this with readers because I want to address BH's charges today as he offered me no opportunity to do so yesterday.

As to whether the proposed ordinance affects me personally, I must say that it is none of his business why I take an interest in the proposed ordinance. I of course have every right to attend public hearings. I find it curious that BH apparently thinks that only those with a direct stake in legislation should be concerned about said legislation. Of course citizens should be involved with issues that may not concern themselves directly. Slavery was an issue that didn't affect large numbers of Americans. Genocide in Germany had little affect on most Americans. Now my point is not to equate my political activism with fights against slavery or genocide - rather, it is to point out the obvious need for people to be concerned with the plight of others. So BH, I wanted to help people who would be inconvenienced and financially harmed by your ordinance proposal.

So am I worse off for having been forced to appear before and acquiesce to the demands of the Downtown Review Commission? Yes I believe so. Now BH's work was just fine but I am quite certain that collaboration between my wife and our contractor would have accomplished the same result, saving us time and a few thousand dollars. BH quite obviously disagreed with my assessment.

And finally, was I confrontational with BH at the public hearing? Frankly I don't even know what specifically he was referring to and he refused to tell me, making a response rather difficult.

So there it is folks. At least one member of a commission that would have had significant power over south side homeowners demonstrated that he was hypersensitive to criticism, real or perceived. Furthermore, he was completely dismissive of my points of view, namely my interest in the ordinance and my perception that I would have been better off without the Downtown Review Commission.

In a nutshell, he knew better than me on everything and he was rather belligerent. Is this somebody that should have power over your important decisions concerning your home?

And lastly, Bon Hartman is welcome to chime in here. I hope he will.

Triumph for LiberTEA

Yesterday the City of Racine's Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to "receive and file" (or kill, in other words) the proposed historic homes ordinance which would have compelled certain south side homeowners to obtain permission from the commission before beginning certain renovations and home maintainance projects. The vote is a victory for home owners and property rights advocates. LiberTEA Racine, along with numerous outspoken property owners in the affected area deserve credit for defeating this intrusive, unnecessary government power grab.

So while a pat on the back is deserved, we must remain vigilant. All or nearly all of the commission members suggested that a key problem was their poor communication, suggesting to me at least that they perceived the problem as a commuication problem rather than a substance problem. When given the opportunity to speak I suggested that the people opposed to the ordinance understood quiet well what the proposal was all about, that there was no communication problem but rather there was a clear and obvious rejection of the merits of their proposal. So I suspect that some version of this ordinance will be back. I wil keep you posted.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Catching Up

Sorry readers for the lack of postings of late. My excuse - working a fair amount and enjoying summer when not working.

Yesterday I rented a Jet Ski at North Beach. Great fun I have to say. Perhaps readers recall the recent fuss over Jet Ski rentals at the beach led mostly by neighbors concerned about noise. Much ado about nothing IMHO as you can't even hear them if you are standing on the beach. Besides, the vast majority of Jet Skiiers are not renting them at the beach anyway.

Also fun is kayaking on the mighty Root River. Kayaks can be rented at the 6th Street and the river, Thursday through Sunday for the absurdly cheap (and subsidized) price of $5 per hour.