Wednesday, September 23, 2009

6-2;6-2;6-2; Damn I'm tired of this

We (me and one remaining ally; the other two were ABSENT!)tried to save the taxpayers a little money last night...maybe as much as $4 MILLION by waiting until the results of the grant application were announced..there was a chance, slim but still a chance, that we would get stimulus funding for the fire station. We successfully got a provision for an "additive alternative" for waiting 60 days for the bid awards in the bidding process in order to give the granting agency time to act but the dark side wanted to go RIGHT NOW and screw the grant application.

Their arguments were nonsense. They resorted to ad hominem attacks. and they knew that they had us by one vote even if our other two allies showed the vote to award the bids now went 6-2 in their favor.

Then there were alternatives that would being the project even MORE over budget...three alternatives for a total of $360K...and guess what....they went 6-2, 6-2, and 6-2....

So we're getting a new fire station and the taxpayers are getting stuck with the full $350,000 to $400,000 annual debt service for 15 or 20 years.

Nice move dummies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long, Contentious meeting

The meeting I mentioned in my "Al-Co-Hol!" post was just as long and contentious as I thought it would be.

Am I happy with the results?

It's a mixed bag. I'd say three of the four decisions I made were good, solid decisions based on law and justice but that 4th one........

Because of privacy and closed session laws I can't go into it but I can say what we said publicly. We found that the applicant for a servers license had a felony conviction that related to the unsupervised retailing of alcohol in a setting where minors were likely to be present and that presented a risk to the public.

Vague enough?

If it's too vague I'm sorry but that's as far as I want to go.

The establishment did not lose their license or get it suspended. That was fair and just.

One of the other servers did not get his license suspended or revoked. That was fair and just.

Two others were tabled because they did not receive proper notice. That was fair and just.

Two hours. Lots of arguments. lots of 2-1 votes. I think I earned my $1.40 per hour.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Existential questions....

I've come to that point in life where I understand that I am not immortal. Come to think of it, I got my first glimpse of that when I had a heart attack. But I did the most stupid thing possible after the heart attack: I "changed my lifestyle" so that I could live longer and cheat death for a little bit more time. That's stupid because I gave up on living to "live".

To be honest, I've struggled with the question of what do I want to do with my remaining days of life for about 5 years. I've been through all the common things...jump out of airplanes, cure cancer, change the world, have sex 10 times a day (did I mention that much of it is pure fantasy?), run off with my childhood sweetheart, etc., etc..

No. I wasn't drinking when I came up with these, but try the exercise for yourself sometime. Ask yourself, "what if I have only 5 years left in my life?" What would I want to do in those five years? It isn't as easy as it sounds.....I guarantee that at least SOME of the weird thoughts mentioned above will pop into your consciousness.

Well, I did something about these thoughts.

I applied to Law School (online) and passed their entrance exam. At least when they plant me (or write the memorial) my name will have ESQ. behind it which, means that although all my past glories faded, at least I left something behind. I haven't received final acceptance yet but I think I'm going to take the plunge and spend my next three-four years learning the law. I wanted to go to law school right after college but the draft board had other ideas. Now, it's online and I have more time on my hands than I want so.....why the hell not? With a little luck I'll be able to practice law for five or maybe even 10 years when I finish and I think I'd like would make me feel like I finished some "unfinished business" from a long time ago.

I'll resume my normal ranting tomorrow.....

Monday, September 14, 2009


I think I've mentioned before that I have a real chip on my shoulder about alcohol consumption. I grew up with an alcoholic in the family and have horrible memories about lying awake at night wondering when the other shoe was going to drop...I also have a pretty big grudge against a typical Wisconsin institution called "The Tavern League" because of the political power they wield, but if there's one thing I despise more than that, it's unbridled zealotry in local government...

Our local medical "outreach center" is receiving youth alcohol diversion grants and passing them onto our police department to conduct "compliance checks" in local bars. They work something like this:

The police department gets a couple (or up to five) paid "of age" informers to go into a bar with at least one underage informant and they order a drink. If they get served, then they go outside and inform a police officer and the bar gets nailed for serving to minors.

Pretty simple huh?


What if:

There was a group of 6 with five of age persons and one underage and the underage person went to the men's room while one of the five of age persons ordered the drinks?


What if the underage informant was 6-2 with a bald spot and a thick, bushy beard AND they cops put gray hair coloring in his beard?


What if the bar had a bouncer to check IDs and the the of age informants came in and then let the underage informant in a back door?

What if all this is on video tape?

Now here's where it gets tricky:

What if four licensed servers (bar tenders) and one licensed establishment were summoned by the police department to appear before MY committee for a hearing on the revocation or suspension of their licenses (and livelihood) because they accumulated demerit points to warrant suspension from these compliance checks...which they now refer to as stings...

Welcome to my world.....

I think this is border-line entrapment. I am also concerned because the local outreach center is going after these compliance checks with an evangelistic zeal that reminds me of the old Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

The incentives to create a "youth drinking problem" are backwards. The outreach center needs a problem to exist because without the problem there are no federal and state grants to fund personnel positions at the center. The cops need a problem to exist because they collect overtime pay from the out reach center to do the checks....therefore, no problem, no overtime.

I think this is a youth alcohol problem here but it's not in the bars and taverns. It's in the homes that let kids have parties where alcohol runs comes from the more traditional source of kids having friends and relatives who are old enough to buy liquor and beer buy it for them and give it to them. The concentration on the taverns is overstating the source of the problem.

I hate to admit it but some of the tavern owners are working their butts off to keep kids out of the bars and this compliance check (sting) nonsense is just unfair. I've got to work to change it.

Excuse me Mr President....but.....

Like there was ever any chance that Barack Obama would ever actually listen to me......

But if I had the chance to see him, this is what I would say:

As of this morning, I see Joe Wilson is receiving Wingnut-welfare to prop up his campaign and counter the huge sums being donated to his opponent.

In your 60 Minutes interview you said that demanding an apology on the floor of the house is just another “circus” and will distract from the debate over healthcare. I have a shock for you, Mr President:


The neocons are going to create a circus no matter what…either over Joe Wilson or how many idiots can fit on the head of a pin….we might as well make them look like the uncivilized asses they really are because you’re never going to get a single repub vote in the house or senate anyway…the Health Care reform bill will be a democratic party effort alone…they repubs will talk compromise;they’ll talk bipartisanship but in the end they’ll vote straight party line…

(remember Mr. President, they already did this to you once before)

Go ahead and make a fuss over Wilson…then put the Health care bill that is best for the country on the floor and vote on it! Crack the party whip and pass it with your Democratic majority…the Repubs won’t join you anyway.

(by the way…the simplest bill….is to delete the 65 year old age limit for meidcare….IOW Medicare for all!)

For eight long, miserable years, the Republican Party ran roughshod over Democrats in Congress and felt not one single pang of remorse over it. If we are ever going to defeat the demons of stupidity we must stop feeling "sorry" for winning. We must stop feeling liberal guilt over the effective and moral use of political power for the greater good.

Stand up Mr. President....

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Back again.....

I think I need to rant a little bit.

I've tried to stay off of this blog because I know my political enemies are aware of this site and use it for ammunition against me. But I feel like I've got to let off steam.

The past two weeks have been hell. An "ALLY" had charges filed against him for threatening a city worker....WHILE the "ally" was busy trying to file criminal charges against another ally friend of mine. Suddenly, the "ally" switches sides, supports the "dark side"....changes his tune about the city employee he allegedly threatened and then the dark side files a federal criminal complaint against the other ally. I suspect charges against the first "ally" have been dropped and I suspect this is the worst kind of corruption.

Now that the "ally" has flipped to the dark side, the balance of power on the council has changed against the reformers again. Now we're on the wrong side of a constant 6-4 coalition. I sometimes wonder if it's all worth it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So much fun....

Actually, it was fun to force the conversation in the four meetings on capital improvement budgeting into real, honest-to-goodness policy wonk discussions.....

Like everybody else, I think we're in for some rough times. Our needs as a community keep growing and the amount of $$$$ available is shrinking.

I have a constituent who is 83 years old and is (obviously) on a fixed income. She has been calling me two or three times a week to complain about all the "spending, spending, spending" going on in City Government. I have patiently explained to her that I am doing my best to keep the costs down but at the same time I have to spend money to keep her safe (new fire department) , to protect her car on the road (new street construction and maintenance) (oh yeah, she STILL DRIVES!) and to build new access roads for an industry that has decided to locate in our town which will, eventually, bring new taxes into the city to reduce EVERYBODY'S tax rate.

There is truth to the rumor that the more detail you have to provide the more likely you are to lose the argument. My sweet, little old lady constituent doesn't understand most of this but I'll try again and again and again to help her understand.

It's a nasty little balancing act. And, in the end, I think most of the taxpayers are going to end up like the guy at the left. Public safety comes first, then comes infrastructure and then "economic development". Staff and bureaucracy are last....DEAD my scheme of things. I blame most of it on the fact that our priorities have been completely screwed up for about 10 years. We've spent money on "pie-in-the-sky" projects and we've let the bureaucracy in the "palace" grow beyond control. Now we have to pay the piper (if you will).

My opponent apparently has another blog post up blasting me to high heaven....too bad. If he had a life (or a real job) he wouldn't have time to do that kind of thing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pre-caffine morning thought

My watch has this imprinted on it:


So I wonder.....If I suddenly find myself under 160 feet of water, will my first concern be whether my watch will still work?

I think I definitely need some coffee.....desperately!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday night thread....

I ran into a lot of people while I was "out and about" this afternoon. One of them was a constituent who introduced himself to my wife by saying, "I'm the guy who's going to replace your husband on the City Council next year." I think I'll run again just to annoy this asshole....

I remember something from my religious past ...something from the 23rd Psalm, I think...something about "He preparest (ed note: "preparest"?) a table for me in the presence of my enemies." Well, that's exactly what happened yesterday afternoon.

I arranged to meet a good friend at our favorite coffee shop at an appointed time and when I walked in, my two biggest political enemies were sitting right in the middle of the place. We had a pleasant conversation that I no doubt will be skewed into some horrible shortcoming on my part on this guys blog site again but I fully intend to provide another reasonable, rational, calm response just like the last one (see previous post).

Council meeting Tuesday night....Mayor will be absent...Council President will Chair meeting...could be heaven...could be hell...

BTW....that Alderman I wrote about? The one with the three DWIs and two "Driving After Revocations"?....he lost in a three way primary on Tuesday night....he got 24 votes (you need 20 signatures to qualify for the ballot)...the next guy got 26 and the next got 113.....low turnout for sure but there doesn't seem to be much question about who the voters want.
Time for a second glass of wine...sit by the fireplace and zone out....


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A calm, rational response

I am reliably informed that one of my political opponents has written two lengthy criticisms of one of my proposals. Both dissertations (lol) are filled with inaccuracies and petty cheap shots at me personally.

I won't link to the site but I will give a calm, rational response here.

Let me begin:


That is all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fun and furious

Last night was frustrating to say the least.

It's awful to fight a battle when you know you're going to get pummeled by a 4-1 vote, but you say your truth and you go on from there. I got some blows in but I wonder if anybody out there was actually listening. If they were, then they got an inside peek at just how corrupt this regime really is....

There, I said the word:


In all my years of public service I have only seen one or possibly two instances of real, honest-to-god Adam Clayton Powell type of corruption (I saw HIM too!) and I've been telling myself that what I'm witnessing here isn't corruption, it's just STU-PID-I-TEEEEE!

But after last night, I'm not so sure anymore.

If there was any saving grace to the evening, it was that I got to give an INSPIRATIONAL speech to a civic group...It was successful and I got "rave" reviews.

chicken one day and feathers the next...that's the way it goes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


A brief message for my "distinguished colleagues" on the "dark side":

That is all........

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meeting hangover!

The 3 + hour ordeal of last Tuesday night still isn't over There is fallout all over the place and some of it isn't good.

I think the opposition ambushed us, beat us up and stole our lunch money.

And I think I have some of our "allies" to thank for that little (Little?....hell was MAJOR!) fiasco.

Somebody once told me that one of the problems with liberals is that they firmly believe that if they just sit down with their adversaries and reason with them, then, naturally, the adversary will "see the light" and come around to your side, or, at worst, compromise with you in a reasonable and rational manner.


Sometimes your enemies will meet with you only to find out "where you're coming from" and use that to mount their attack.

And that's exactly what happened before the last meeting. One of my "allies" (I'm really taking liberties with that term here) sat down with an opposition leader and calmly, rationally and forcefully laid out our side of the agenda and told him also who had been 'BRIEFED" on the agenda......

The result?

Well, now I know how General Custer felt.....

If there's any good point about what went down of Tuesday night, then it is only that it drew a different line in the sand as far as the public is concerned. It might be that a good portion of the public is happy only that a decision has been reached and that 2/3 of the issues to squabble about have been put to rest. That's okay....I don't like the decisions but I can live with them.

I didn't want this issue to be divisive in the community but there are people here with an agenda who demand that they get "their way" some extent they have and it isn't a tragedy for the community (at least not yet) so I won't throw myself in front of the bulldozers to stop it....(like I should be doing on the $35MM power plant that won't serve us...)

Next battle please.....

Monday, February 09, 2009

Of bloggers

This is a present for that "special" blogger we all know and "love".

photo courtesy of WTF Is it Now?!?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Candidate's Forum?

Our local newspaper ran a "candidate's forum" in yesterdays paper in advance of the Feb 17 primary. In one ward of our city, there are three candidates vying for election to the council seat. The incumbent has had more than his share of problems. Problems like

  • Arrested for driving while intoxicated, THIRD OFFENSE
  • Arrested for driving after revocation TWICE
He never speaks at Council meetings and his voting is erratic. He may, at times show up at council meetings in a three-piece suit and purple streaked hair, or he may show up in a sweater, jeans and a Harley-Davidson jacket. I would normally write all of this off to personal "style" but I think it goes, far, far beyond that.

He's young and I have talked very frankly with him on a lot of occasions in an attempt to build or strengthen coalitions on various issues. The problem is that he insists on flat-out lying to me from time to time so my trust in him has disappeared. I don't even try any more.

Both of his opponents are well-educated and appear to have done their homework....which impresses me. One of the candidates has six prior years experience on the Council and knows how things actually work. I think he's the one I'm most likely to support.

But again.....god only
knows what's going to happen in the next two weeks. The incumbent thinks he is going to WIN the primary. I think he'll even drink to it! In truth, I think he's TOAST:

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Perfect Spy **

** With apologies to the great John LeCarre'

I read that book some time ago and I'll admit, at the time, I thought it was the most depressing novel LeCarre' ever wrote.....but I've changed my mind since then.

I think LeCarre' told a basic truth about how "spies" and not just "spies" but "double agents" are groomed. But let me tell you about "double agents" and then maybe it will all become clearer.

My beloved spouse sometimes refers to me as a "double agent"...that is, I sometimes tell her a "version" of the what happened to the last piece of German Chocolate Cake...or if my son and I (during his much younger years) wanted to do something she would object to we sort of "massaged" the information to make it more acceptable.

Okay...double agent DOES = LIAR. But, at least in my case, LIAR for a good and noble cause.

Politicians are sometimes the best "double agents" in the world. They are privy to information from both sides and sometimes they even work "both sides of the street" in order to accomplish their goals. They work overtime to create narratives about both themselves and their enemies that will appeal or repulse the public opinion. Sometimes the narratives are founded in truth, and other times.....well....not so much....

Personally I don't vary from the truth because I have a bad memory and couldn't possibly remember all the lies necessary to keep from tripping myself up...

So you see, there's a little bit of "double agent" in us all. And for good reason.

In my lifetime, primarily my childhood and adolescence, I needed to be a double agent to survive in my family. I don't know if I ever said this before but alcoholism was a problem in my family and life could get....let's say INTERESTING at survival and ability to avoid beatings and humiliation in front of my peers depended on how good of a "double agent" I could be. How could I avoid my peers seeing my family at its worse? How did I explain some of the more bizarre incidents involving my family to my peers at school? How could I explain not asking a girlfriend to the prom? It depended on how good I was at creating a couple of good narratives: one for my peers and one for my home.

LeCarre's main character in "A Perfect Spy" was in the same kind of fix. LeCarre' s character described each day in his home life as a child as "learning to survive in enemy territory"....which served him well in his future profession. I know what he was talking about.

The experience has served me well in public service becasue I know that not everybody involved in public service is your friend....not everyone in public service is there to serve the public or provide good government and, as I noted elsewhere, some people in public service are just plain EVIL.

I bring this up because I cannot help but keep looking over my shoulder....especially when my companions spend time with my opponents.

Who is the perfect spy?


Or them?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Of audits, fire stations and just plain meanness....

I promised another post on this so here it is....(I suspect I'm only talking to myself here but, hey, it's therapeutic...)

I think I wrote about my outrage last year when the audit report was delayed because of sicknesses both on the part of staff and the lead independent auditor. I didn't mind that at all but the administration wanted to stay "on schedule" and present the audit on time so they presented us with three or four pie graphs and and a verbal statement that "there were no significant findings" and recommended we "approve the audit"..

Being my normal, mild-mannered self, (insert roflmao image here) I went ballistic and within a couple of months worked up an audit committee ordinance to present to the council. You would have thought I was raping nuns by the reaction I got. Anyway by the time it finally came around to being heard, two weeks ago, the battle lines were clearly drawn. It was voted out of committee and will go to the council.

I'll probably lose this on the council floor but I think there needs to be a check and balance on the executive branch's ability to control the conversation about the city's finances. I don't think the auditor understands that he works for the COMMON COUNCIL and not the administration. I've tried to convince my colleagues about this but I think they are marching to a different agenda....(I wish I knew what the hell it actually is!!!) Anyway that's been keeping me quite busy.

The Fire station issue is roaring ahead full speed and I suspect it will occupy a great deal of my time for the next couple of months. At this point my only objection to the proposal is the cost. I think letting nine (9) firefighters design the station without any aldermen, citizens or taxpayers to constrain their wants versus needs was a huge mistake.

The original estimate was for $3.1 Million for the project and now it is zooming toward $7MM including land, demolition, FFE and construction. I am not happy. I would be happier with something around the $4MM mark or maybe just slightly over that but this 26,000 square foot palace is a bit too much to bear. I mean it has private "berthing quarters" for 10 firefighters and a "fitness center" which they generously tell us that City Hall Staff can use too!!!! whoopee!!!! I'm sure the taxpayers are going to be thrilled that we're building a fitness center for all city employees....there is a "classroom" and a public meeting room (because there obviously isn't enough public meeting space in the city.....although I don't remember ever hearing any complaints...oh, yeah....that why we built a CONVENTION CENTER in 2001!) Anyway....

I think it's over-designed and I want to proceed but I'm not going to agree to the costs....

In the meantime.....

My political adversaries are currently stalking me....(see old post)

My adversaries are referring to me as a "cancer on city government that must be cut out". (Sounds a bit ominous, no?) I think that's one of the strange things about our City's all underground and all done through "whisper campaigns".

Oh well, got some more reading to do....more later.....

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Same old, same old...

I can't believe that local issues I wrote about over a year ago are still making front page news in our local rag.....

Worse than that...the former City official who has decided to stalk me....("....thoroughly researching my history and background", writing a blog about every statement I make on televised committee meetings and council meetings, and hiding in the break room so he could peek through the door at my presentations before a committee....yeah, I think that's pretty much "stalking") is still at it and seems to be obsessed with me. For a while, he was obsessed with another alderman but now he's back at me. cheeezzzzzzzz......

I guess nothing ever changes.

I have a full day ahead of me starting with a work session in an hour....a working lunch with a staff member....and then two committee meetings within an hour of each of which I have to make a presentation to....


Why am I wasting time writing here?

Good point...


Monday, February 02, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaaccccckkkk!

I've been on a self-imposed hiatus....but I've got a few things to get off my I'll be posting some more soon!