NOW:53150:USA01489
http://widgets.journalinteractive.com/cache/JIResponseCacher.ashx?duration=5&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdata.wp.myweather.net%2FeWxII%2F%3Fdata%3D*USA01489
36°
H 48° L 28°
Light Rain | 6MPH

Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

No sales tax holiday in Wisconsin

Taxes, Economy

 
Soon it will be back to school.

That means sales on clothes and supplies, and 16 states have a back to school sales tax holiday. Eighteen states utilize some form of sales tax holiday. Wisconsin is one of 32 states without the marketing ploy and that might be in our favor. While retailers love the concept, evidence suggests the limited, temporary tax break is ineffective. 


Stateline.org reports, “Louisiana and South Carolina kick off hunting season with a tax break on guns. Louisiana and Virginia begin hurricane season with a tax break on preparedness items such as flashlights, batteries and generators. And six states, including Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia, offer temporary sales tax breaks on Energy Star appliances.”

Come August, sales taxes for a brief time are forgiven on items like pencils, notepads, even computers. Budget crisis infested Illinois welcomes their new sales tax holiday. However, Georgia decided to drop its tax break this year.

Two organizations, The Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. and the liberal Citizens for Tax Justice, according to Stateline.org concur on sales tax holidays: “Since the holidays only include special items — school items during back-to-school season, guns and ammunition during hunting season — they still unfairly impose sales taxes on everything else. In other words, they discriminate against consumers who don’t go hunting every fall and don’t have to buy their children notebooks and pencils.”

The Tax Foundation has just issued a new report on the impact of sales tax holidays. Their conclusion: Bad policy that sounds good. The report states:

“Despite their political popularity, sales tax holidays are based on poor tax policy and distract policymakers and taxpayers from real, permanent, and economically beneficial tax reform. Sales tax holidays introduce unjustifi­able government distortions into the economy without providing any significant boost to the economy. They represent a real cost for busi­nesses without providing substantial benefits. They are also an inefficient means of helping low-income consumers and an ineffective means of providing savings to consumers. Sales tax holidays do not promote economic growth or significantly increase consumer purchases; the evidence shows that they simply shift the timing of purchases. Some retailers raise prices during the holiday, reducing consumer savings."  

Well...I say,The Tax Foundation and the liberal Citizens for Tax Justice can cry me a river.  The vast majority of my constituents appreciate any tax break they can get.  A sales tax holiday is a more worthy stimulus that the stimulus Washington D.C. recently provided.   I do agree that sales tax holidays "still unfairly impose sales taxes on everything else".  Maybe we should eliminate the unfairly imposed sales tax on everything else, rather than use it as a justification not to enjoy a sales tax holiday.

Read more from Stateline and the Tax Foundation.


Flag owners take note

News you can use


The U.S. Flag Code has been amended with information about flag-lowering orders by the President and Wisconsin Governor.

You can read the details and also sign up for an e-mail alert about the issuance of flag-lowering orders here. 

Last day to comment about proposed rules claiming use of words Indians and Chiefs are discriminatory

Legislation


A complaint has been filed with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) claiming the Mukwonago School District’s use of the nickname, “Chief,” is discriminatory.

The Mukwonago Chief newspaper reports a Mukwonago resident and former Mukwonago High School student initiated the complaint, claiming he was the subject of racial taunts attending the high school and that school officials refused to take action about his complaints.

Paul Strobel, Superintendent of the Mukwonago School District commented, “I did indicate that we believe the decision relating to the use of the logo is a local decision. We don't necessarily appreciate politicians in Madison who are not connected to the district making decisions for the district.”

The state Legislature approved a bill banning racial logos and mascots. Governor Doyle signed the bill into law. I voted against the legislation.

Thursday, July 29, 2001, DPI held a public hearing about the e
mergency and proposed permanent rules related to the legislation. DPI states:

 “Enacted this spring, 2009 Wisconsin Act 250 allows a school district resident who objects to the use of a race-based nickname, logo, mascot, or team name by the school board of that school district to file a complaint with the state superintendent. The legislation requires immediate review of the complaint to determine whether the use of the nickname or team name, alone or in connection with a logo or mascot, is ambiguous or unambiguous in being race-based.

The emergency and proposed permanent rules specify that the use of certain nicknames or team names are unambiguously race-based and presumed to promote discrimination, pupil harassment or stereotyping unless the school district produces clear and convincing evidence refuting this presumption. The proposed rules establish procedures for a school district resident to submit a complaint about a race-based nickname or team name; information a school district must provide when there is a complaint and if the nickname or team name is found to be ambiguous; and depending on the result of the complaint review, the timeframe for the state superintendent to notify the parties or schedule a contested case hearing.”

Here is an excerpt from DPI demonstrating subjective government decision making:

“The rules specify that the use of any of the following nicknames or team names are unambiguously race-based and presumed to promote discrimination, pupil harassment or stereotyping unless the school district produces clear and convincing evidence refuting this presumption. 

                         A nickname or team name is unambiguously race-based if it includes any of the following terms: 1. the full or partial name of any specific, federally recognized American Indian tribe, 2. Indians, 3. Braves, or 4. Redmen.                        

                        A nickname or team name is unambiguously race-based if it includes any of the terms arrows, blackhawks, chiefs, chieftains, hatchets, raiders, red raiders, warriors, or warhawks and is used in connection with any of the following logos or mascots: 1. A depiction of an American Indian person or persons, 2. Feathers or feather headdress, 3. Arrows, bows, spears, tomahawks, stone hatchets, or other historical or traditional American Indian weapons or tools, or 4. Historical or traditional American Indian drums, pipes, beadwork, clothing or footwear.”


Comments are accepted by DPI through August 4, 2010. Here are more details including information to contact DPI via email.

I predict future reminiscence of the many schools that were named in honor of Native American culture, much lament about the loss of the remnants of Native American culture, and future requests to name schools and other buildings in honor of Native American culture.

A Serious Blow to Photo ID Opponents

Photo ID


For three days, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial writer and columnist James E. Causey turned himself homeless.

“I slept on a park bench. I slept on church steps. I slept in my car and at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. I ate at free meal sites. I panhandled for nearly three hours, collecting just enough change to buy a flatbread sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts,” Causey wrote in the newspaper’s Crossroads section June 27, 2010.

Standing in line at the St. Benedict's Community Meal Center at N. 9th Street and W. Highland Avenue, Causey heard obscenities, cursing, and idle threats from those waiting for mashed potatoes, meatloaf, green beans, and day-old bread.

Causey wrote of deplorable conditions at the Rescue Mission’s men’s shelter. Calling it his “most eye-opening experience,” Causey detailed the communal shower and sleeping arrangements that had bunk beds placed three feet apart.

A jolt came as Causey described his Rescue Mission experience. This surprising line jumped out about two paragraphs into Causey’s column:

“You need a state ID to get a bed.”

Absolutely stunning. A homeless individual, in order to secure a bed at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission is required to display a state ID.

You need a photo ID to, as the slogan goes, Make it a Blockbuster Night and rent a video.

Want to purchase a six-pack of beer at Pick ‘n’ Save? Have your photo ID ready at checkout.

Getting your ears pierced? Yes, you will need a photo ID.

Is the Post Office holding your mail because you were on vacation? What about some credit card purchases? Applying for a driver’s license or library card? Boarding a plane? Entering a federal building? Renting an apartment? Cashing a check? All require presentation of a photo ID. Add to the list getting off the street and finding a spot to sleep at Milwaukee’s Rescue Mission.

One of the loudest, most common arguments by opponents of a photo ID requirement to vote is that the stipulation will disenfranchise voters, especially the poor and minorities. James Causey’s column describes the “extreme poverty that has a vise grip on so many people,” and he witnessed “black and white” during his 72 hours of research. According to those that have obstructed every attempt to enact a photo ID law in Wisconsin, this group of people, the poor and destitute that Causey encountered would be the most affected. Somehow, this downtrodden faction of society has the wherewithal and ability to secure a state ID necessary for a cot at a homeless shelter.

The rescue Mission revelation reported by Causey blows a significant hole in one of the primary defenses against photo ID.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that in 26 states, “All voters are asked to show identification prior to voting.  Eight of these states specify that voters must show a photo ID; the other eighteen states accept additional forms of identification that do not necessarily include a photo.  In no state is a voter who cannot produce identification turned away from the polls—all states have some sort of recourse for voters without identification to cast a vote.  However, in Georgia and Indiana, voters without ID vote a provisional ballot, and must return to election officials within a few days and show a photo ID in order for their ballots to be counted.”

In several states, the argument that some voters either do not possess or cannot obtain IDs is countered by providing them the opportunity to cast provisional ballots, giving them time to furnish proof of citizenship.

During a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case, the high court wrote, “Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised."

Quite honestly, photo ID opponents have exhausted all of their arguments, including their ace in the hole. How can one seriously submit a photo ID law would deny access to the polls to poor and minorities while they display state IDs to sleep at the Rescue Mission?

To reduce voter fraud and restore voter confidence in our critical election system, a strong Wisconsin photo ID law must be a top priority during the next Legislative session that begins January 2011.

Come visit me at the Fair, and buy some corn!


Call it a lip-smacking labor of love.


Eating at the Wisconsin State Fair

Bertha Hynek of Allenton is eating an ice cream cone while her grandson, Wesley Priesgen, 10, works on an ear of roasted corn at the Wisconsin State Fair. Photo:
www.wisconsinhistory.org.


Lion's Club corn roast by sokref1.

Photo: www.flickr.com

August 5 through August 15, 2010 at the Wisconsin State Fair, dedicated workers at the New Berlin Lions Club stand (shown above) will take picture perfect ears of Wisconsin sweet corn and lovingly dunk them into real, honest to goodness melted Wisconsin butter.

They will perform this mouth-watering ritual over 100,000 times, and the money goes to numerous charities statewide. All the corn dunkers and other workers are volunteers.



Photo

Read more

Bush tax cuts go away, your taxes go up

Taxes


Wisconsin
taxpayers stand to lose a lot if the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire.

The Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. has studied the effect the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would have on average middle-income families by all states and Congressional districts. The Tax Foundation explains its methodology:

“By the term ‘average middle-income family,’ we are referring to the average of the families in the middle 20 percent of the income distribution. This is different from the ‘average family,’ which would have a much higher income level than the ‘average of the middle-income families,’ given the skewed distribution of income.”

If the Bush tax cuts expire January 1, 2011, the average middle-income family in Wisconsin would pay a federal income tax in 2011 of $5,446. The national average is $4,964.

If the tax cuts are extended, the average middle-income family in Wisconsin would pay a federal income tax in 2011 of $3,929. The national average is $3,423.

The average Wisconsin middle-income family would see a tax savings of $1,518 if the tax cuts are extended. The national average is $1,540.

You can read the Tax Foundation study here.

Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal also did some number crunching and came up with the tax bumps Americans can expect if the tax cuts disappear:

For a typical single filer with adjusted gross income of around $40,000 it might be about $400 a year.

Read more

Creative, clever ways to cut the state deficit by 60 percent

State budget


Chris Schneider, a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) takes a humorous look at a very serious problem: the state’s $2.5 billion structural deficit.

Schneider laments at the lack of any serious effort to reduce the deficit: “Spend less, set money aside for budget downturns, don’t violate the Constitution by raiding poor, defenseless trust funds to plug the budget, don’t issue debt to fund ongoing commitments, etc.  Somehow, those ideas have become the radical ones.”

Since the state has been unwilling to take necessary deficit reduction measures, Schneider has developed his own “revenue enhancers” that he says would make a dent of “$1.536 billion per year in revenue, without anyone in the state really noticing any difference in their lifestyle.”

His ideas include the “Deluxe Package” driver’s license, the Vengeance Pass, the UW Professor “Fantasy Camp” Program, the “Visiting Legislator” Program, and the Violent Offender Telethon.

They are a hoot. Read about Schneider’s revenue enhancers here.

Wisconsin consumers becoming more savvy

News you can use


Unscrupulous scammers are always working overtime in their effort to bilk consumers. During 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) received 13, 648 official consumer complaints. The department takes thousands of calls each week.

The good news is that DATCP is witnessing more and more smart consumers that have caught on and refuse to be taken by con artists. DATCP says consumers are becoming more aware of shady deals, are refusing to give out personal information, and are closely examining g company records.

Read more about how consumers are making smart decisions here.

The state’s unaffordable debt problem

Economy


More bad economic news for Wisconsin. To confront a decline in tax receipts, the state finds itself in an ugly pattern of issuing debt at a faster rate than other states.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WRPI) reports that since the Legislature voted to allow the issuance of bonds during 1969, our dependence on debt has skyrocketed. Wisconsin ranks #12 in the nation among the states in debt per capita.
Our $1,720 in debt per capita  is $423 above the national average.

In Wisconsin, we tax, spend and borrow more than we have the ability to pay. The same holds for true for debt that is being issued at a pace the state is unable to afford. Negative ramifications are the result: a strain on the state budget leaving less money  for important programs and services,  an increase in the cost of ongoing programs, and a reduction in the state’s bond rating.


“When the new governor takes office in January of 2011, he’ll have the state’s large debt burden to thank for much of the state’s shabby fiscal condition.“

Read more here.

Special deer hunt for the disabled

News you can use


A special Wisconsin deer hunting season for hunters with disabilities is scheduled October 2, 2010 through October 10, 2010. Hunters wishing to participate must have a sponsor by September 1, 2010.

The special hunt is the first of the season, providing disabled hunters better access and weather.

Here are more details including a sponsor list for the hunt.

Scams at the checkout line?

News you can use


Back to school shopping sales may not be what they seem. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is warning bargain hunters to make sure they are paying the right price on popular back to school items.|

According to a news release, during 2009, “DATCP weights and measures inspectors tested more than 25,000 items for price accuracy in stores all around the state. The total price scanner accuracy rate for 2009 was 96.5%. That percentage includes both overcharges and
undercharges. Seven companies paid civil forfeiture settlements – totaling more than $250,000 – as a result of weights and measures price scanner inspections. None of the companies involved admitted to having committed violations.”

DATCP reports investigators save the average Wisconsin family about $600 a year.

Here is more from DATCP about how to prevent scanner errors.

Identity Theft-Part One


The meeting room at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy was filled with law enforcement officials, many of them armed, attending a  special summit. The main presenter opened with a Bible story.

Rebekah and Isaac had twin sons. Born first, Esau grew to be a hunter and was extremely hairy. The smooth-skinned Jacob was a soft spoken home-body.  As Isaac grew old, he became blind. He asked Esau one day to catch some game for a special meal so that he might bestow upon his eldest son his blessing. As Esau hunted, Rebekah and Jacob joined forces to trick Isaac. Rebekah cooked a separate meal and helped disguise Jacob with hairy arms and Esau’s clothes. Jacob presented his blind father with the meal, and Isaac, feeling a hairy body and smelling Esau’s clothing mistakenly gave his blessing and his inheritance to his youngest son. Esau returns too late from his hunt to prevent the stolen blessing that Isaac, regrettably, refuses to revoke.

Special Agent Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told those at the summit that the Old Testament account marks the first recorded case of identity theft. The Biblical anecdote demonstrates identity theft is not new; it has simply evolved into the fastest growing crime in the world

Listening to the startling information presented makes one realize that this crime is scarier than most imagine. The former police chief of Columbia, South Carolina, Dean Crisp called identity theft the “most under reported, least cared about” crime. Most police officers receiving a complaint about identity theft according to Crisp have a simple, nonchalant, lackadaisical response: “So.”

Even scarier are these discouraging words from Agent Wayne Ivey:

“No one is immune. There is no silver bullet to stop identity theft.” As evidence, Ivey asks if anyone has been victimized. Several police officers raise their hands.

One out of 10 will be targets. Only one out of 700 identity thieves are actually apprehended, convicted, and go to jail. Law enforcement, unfortunately, are unable to keep up, are saddled with funding limits, and are admittedly focused on violent crime.

Despite the escalation and severity of identity theft, Ivey says law enforcement lacks a clear understanding of the crime and compassion for the victims. To police officers and prosecutors, identity theft just isn’t sexy.

Senior citizens are prey for identity thieves for many reasons according to Ivey. Susceptible seniors are intimidated by, and therefore refuse to use computers. Some are senile, too gullible, too trusting. They are affluent and have nest eggs, and because identity theft is a crime driven by greed, seniors are desirable targets. The thieves know all too well that when victimized, seniors are much less willing to pursue the case fearing involvement and possible retaliation. So their crimes go un-reported.

Who is to blame for identity theft? Plenty of folks.

Financial institutions: Ivey says most will not target an identitty thief as a “perp” unless there is more than $10,000 involved.

Credit card companies: Are they losing money? Not on your life. The companies merely offset losses by passing on higher interest rates to other consumers.

Lending organizations: Ivey contends they are unconcerend because the money they lose isn’t worth the money they’re gaining.

Consumers: They are culpable, too, due to their lack of vigilance and falling for scams.

In Wisconsin, most identity theft is credit card-related followed by government document cases. That follows the national trend.  The Federal Trade Commisison reports nationally,
credit card fraud is the top identity theft complaint followed by fraud related to government benefits, utilities, phones and loans. Identity theft is the #1 consumer complaint in the United States. Again, everyone is vulnerable.

How the thieves operate in Part Two.


DNR requests website design advice by Monday August 16


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating the website.

Visit this page to read about proposed changes to the DNR site and to tour the new site.  The DNR is interested in website design advice not website content advice.

After reviewing the new design, you may fill out a confidential survey at this link.

The deadline for receiving your survey response is Monday August 16.

Legislative Audit Bureau report: Division of Gaming

Audits


Tribal revenue from gaming in Wisconsin was approximately $1.3 billion during each year from 2007 through 2009 according to a report by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).  Tribal revenue dwarfs the state’s gaming intake. The LAB reports the state’s revenue from all gaming sources totaled $124 million during fiscal year 2008-09, an increase of $52 million from fiscal year 2006-07. The increase was the result of a one-time $60 million payment to the state by the Ho-Chunk tribe during December 2008.

 

Read more

LAB Report: Test Score Data for Pupils in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

Audits


The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has completed a state statute required analysis of pupil test score data comparing test scores of Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students to test scores of students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The key finding is that the data “show no significant difference in the performance of Choice pupils and similar MPS pupils after three years.”

Researchers with the School Choice Demonstration Project that are conducting a five-year study of Choice and MPS students firsts elected during the 2006-07 school year supplied the test score data to the LAB that also interviewed researchers and officials familiar with the Choice program. They indicated the five year study (The LAB’s report is the third of five) is the most comprehensive effort thus far comparing test scores of Choice and MPS students and the LAB reports the sampling techniques are described as “innovative and vigorous.”


THE LAB emphasizes there are limitations on information that can be studied, analyzed, and determined:

“Although we understand that individual pupils cannot be identified, we had initially believed that the project would provide us with data that identified the school attended by each Choice pupil who took the tests. However, citing confidentiality concerns, the project did not provide information on these pupils’ schools. Federal law generally requires written permission from parents or guardians before information about individual pupils may be released. In addition, project researchers signed agreements with their universities stipulating that they would not release information that identified pupils or the schools they attended, and they signed similar confidentiality agreements with Choice schools and the parents and guardians of Choice pupils. Because the data available to us do not identify the Choice pupils and schools, we are limited in what we can report and confirm. For example, these data do not allow us to provide legislators and other policymakers with information about academic performance specific to each of the
127 Choice schools that operated in the 2008-09 school year.”

The School Choice Demonstration Project reviewed  the scores on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination reading and mathematics sections, that are scored separately, for pupils that were in the fifth through eighth grades or the tenth grade during the 2008-09 school year, and who also took the test during the  2006-07 school year. The LAB analyzed the project’s data and generally confirmed the results with some slight differences.

To determine whether enrollment  and participation in the Choice program contributes to academic achievement, the project calculated the average changes in test scores from the 2006-07 to the 2008-09 school years for pupils in the Choice sample and the MPS matched sample. The LAB writes, “For the most part, the researchers did not find statistically significant differences in test score changes. However, they reported that the test scores of seventh-grade pupils in the Choice sample increased more, on average, than those in the MPS matched sample on the mathematics section, and the difference was statistically significant. We did not find any significant differences in the average changes in reading or mathematics scores between the 2006-07 and 2008-09 school years.”

The LAB also found that test scores for Choice and MPS pupils tend to increase as they progress to higher grade levels, regardless of any changes in their performance.


Choice schools will be required during the 2010-11 school year to administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination to all pupils in the third through eighth grades, as well as to those in tenth grade, and to annually report pupils’ scores to the Department of Public Instruction.

You can read the entire LAB letter report that contains several tables with tests score data here.

Legislative Audit Bureau report: Division of Gaming

Audits

Tribal revenue from gaming in Wisconsin was approximately $1.3 billion during each year from 2007 through 2009 according to a report by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).  Tribal revenue dwarfs the state’s gaming intake. The LAB reports the state’s revenue from all gaming sources totaled $124 million during fiscal year 2008-09, an increase of $52 million from fiscal year 2006-07. The increase was the result of a one-time $60 million payment to the state by the Ho-Chunk tribe during December 2008.

Under state law, the LAB is required to conduct a performance evaluation of the state Division of Gaming every two years. The Division oversees the gaming operations of tribes that have negotiated compacts with the state.

During 2009, tribal gaming profits, or revenue in excess of expenses, totaled $543.4 million, a decrease of $56.1 million from 2007, or 9.4 percent.

The LAB reviewed financial and compliance audits conducted by the Division of Gaming to ensure the 11 tribes that operate 27 casinos in Wisconsin are following provisions of their negotiated state compacts. From January 2007 through December 2009, the Davisson of Gaming performed 67 financial audits and 50 compliance audits. Upon examination of a random sample of the documents, the LAB determined they were complete and accurate, demonstrating the Division of Gaming followed its procedures.

The LAB suggested the expenditures pertaining to the Division’s full-time legal counsel be monitored closely to ensure they are reasonable and necessary. The Chicago home of the Division staff attorney has been designated his office headquarters. From fiscal year 2006-07 through fiscal year 2008-09, the Division reimbursed him $26,300 for mileage between his home and the Division’s office and for food and lodging while he stayed in Madison.  The LAB reports, “Division officials believe that the experience and specialized knowledge of this employee justify this unusual arrangement, and they
assert that contracting for legal services would have resulted in substantially higher costs.”

The LAB noted the closing of the Dairyland Greyhound Park during December 2009. Money wagered at the park decreased from $56.9 million during fiscal year 2006-07 to $38 million during fiscal year 2008-09.


The Division licenses charitable organizations that conduct bingo and raffles, and it registers crane games. From fiscal year 2006-07 through fiscal year 2008-09, state revenue from bingo totaled $1.5 million, state revenue from raffle license fees totaled $634,100, and state revenue from crane game registration fees totaled $49,100.

You can read the entire LAB report here.

We need to maintain “a free, open, and vibrant Internet”


I signed on to a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing opposition to a federal takeover of the Internet. Numerous members of Congress and state legislators from across the country signed the following:

August 11, 2010

Federal Communications Commission

Read more

Toolkit to Surviving Road Construction on Janesville Road

News you can use


A special meeting has been scheduled Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at the Muskego Public Library to discuss the reconstruction project on Janesville Road. Here are more details:


 

Toolkit to Surviving Road Construction
 
Join us on Aug. 18th, 2010 (5:30 pm)
Muskego Public Library
S73 W16663 Janesville Road
 
Toolkit includes...
Workbook
Case Studies
Ideas
 
Program info compiled by Wisconsin DOT for businesses and
community leaders as an idea source as they plan for road construction in their area.
 
Through communication and cooperation, business can not only survive, but thrive, when road construction comes to town
 
Can’t make meeting?
Call Keith Hammit at (414) 840-7207 or
Kathy Chiaverotti at (414) 422-1155
 
Please share with neighboring businesses. 
Chamber might not have their contact info.
 
Janesville Road Reconstruction Project Timeline
2011-Utility Work
2012 /Phase 1 Construction Moorland to Lannon
2013 / Phase 2 Construction Lannon to Racine
 

It's true, the economy is recovering

Economy


The future of the economy is looking brighter. The economy is expanding. Economists are predicting an increase in growth.  The construction industry is bouncing back. So are investments in machinery and equipment.

The above is true. However, the pleasant economic outlook is permeating, not through America. Optimism instead is being felt in Britain and Germany.

Allan Meltzer, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute submits the economic turnaround in Europe is a direct result of announced plans to reduce spending. Meltzer writes in the Wall Street Journal:

“President Obama is the victim of bad advice and misinformation. From his advisers, the Democratic caucus and the New York Times, he hears that markets have failed and the country needs more government spending to increase consumer spending. He is told that any plan to reduce government spending and the deficit will bring on another recession and even a new Great Depression. And he repeats the foolish claim that, since the rich spend a much smaller proportion of their incomes, it is good for the country to raise their tax rates.

Nonsense. After Britain's new government announced a multiyear program to reduce government spending, the pound rose against the dollar and the economy continues to expand across the board.

In the euro area, Germany has reduced the growth of government spending to bring down the budget deficit. Following the recent announcement of a credible, long-term German program to reduce future deficits, the euro appreciated strongly against the dollar. Forecasters expect a surge in second-quarter growth when it is reported later this month. A rebound in construction and investment in machinery and equipment shows renewed optimism.”

Meltzer makes the case that the Obama administration should mirror the spending reductions in Europe rather than push another wasteful stimulus package.

In the private sector, businesses attempt to protect themselves from inevitable rising costs of health care and worker benefits by increasing labor-saving capital. Unfortunately, that means layoffs. What can the public sector do? Meltzer suggests putting a stop to new regulations on the private sector.

I appreciate this Meltzer line:

“People are not dumb beasts. Told that the government will spend more, many will expect to pay higher taxes in the future.”

Meltzer says Europe has jumped off the Keynesian bus. America needs to hop as well, and soon.

You can read Meltzer’s entire column here.

Identity Theft-Part Two

To support his methamphetamine habit during the late 1990’s, Stephen Massey resorted to dumpster diving. On one of his nightly searches, Massey discovered a treasure chest of recycled paper containing a gold mine of personal information: names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. Massey and a partner created one of the most notorious identity theft operations in the country. Eventually apprehended and convicted, Massey’s partner served one year in prison, Massey, two.

Special Agent Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement talked about Massey and other identity thieves at a special summit at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in Franklin. Thieves utilize all kinds of unscrupulous methods to ruin innocent peoples’ lives.

How can culprits like Massey get their hands on shredded papers chock full of personal data? Simple. We allow the criminals easy access.

Are businesses shredding? Not exactly. They hire other businesses to do the work. However, the coveted information to be shredded is placed in huge bags left in break rooms allowing cleaning crews a feast.

Ivey says far too many unsuspecting, naïve individuals like to place mail for pickup in their mailboxes and pull out the red flag as an indication to the postal worker. Red flag is right. Ivey says it’s like screaming out to identity thieves, “Please steal my mail!”

Identity thieves burglarize. Computer hard drives are popular targets. So are women’s purses. The number one place for a woman to have her purse stolen is dropping her children off at school. The number two place is at the gym. Beaches and parks are also prime locations for predatory identity thieves.

Do you use the Felony Lane at your bank’s drive-thru? The felony lane is the lane furthest away from the bank window, a prime spot according to Ivey to cash stolen checks and make phony withdrawals, especially with the lane usually having the worst quality surveillance videos in the bank parking lot.

Check washing bilks consumers to the tune of $815 million each year. Personal checks are stolen, and then the ink is washed from the face of the check and is re-written. Thieves erase the ink on checks using various chemicals and then change the payee and the amount. Acetone is the most widely used chemical along with bleach and carbon tetrachloride that is used to clean carpeting. As Ivey pointed out, these materials are easily purchased at Target and Wal-Mart.

Guess what inmates are learning in prison as they await their release to commit more crimes? Memory techniques that can be used to shoulder surf. Common at ATMs and check out lines and becoming more frequent at Internet cafes, the identity thief is literally memorizing and stealing your personal information by peeking over your shoulder.

Protecting against corrupt employees is difficult. Thieves will stalk and hand pick their partners to steal information at departments of motor vehicles and restaurants. These are typically single moms that agree to a certain fee for each identity they can turn over. At an Orlando TGIF restaurant, 75-thousand credit cards were recovered by authorities. Two waitresses had been using credit card skimmers easily hidden in their uniforms to quickly zap and store names and numbers. Counterfeit equipment is available online with parts sold at Radio Shack.

Thieves have placed overlays on top of ATMs that appear to be authentic, and return days later to remove their wizardry that has captured a host of new victims. Funeral companies have been fooled by thieves posing as insurance company agents calling to verify information about deceased individuals. Another prized document by thieves: a divorce decree.

Your cell phone could do you in. Ivey cautioned to always assume when talking on a cell or cordless phone that someone else could be listening.

The MOs used by identity thieves run the gamut, and as Ivey noted, there is no silver bullet to stop this evolving crime. However, consumers can and should take steps toward prevention.

More in Part Three.

You do not tax your way out of a recession

Taxes, Economy


Just ask Oregon. The Beaver State has had a long history of scorning taxes.

Nine times residents went to the polls to consider implementing a state sales tax. Nine times voters rejected the idea. Oregon’s constitution contains a ceiling on property taxes. If revenues surpass projections by two percent or more, taxpayers get automatic rebates thanks to an amendment adopted by voters.


It is stunning Oregon residents voted for large income tax increases during January 2010 rather than accept possible spending cuts. It was the first time since the decade of the Depression that Oregon voters approved tax increases.

With an increase of $727 million poring into Oregon coffers, it is the end of budget problems, right? Wrong.

Stateline reports, “In May, stunned lawmakers listened as the state economist outlined a new, $577 million shortfall in the current, two-year budget — the result of continued hemorrhaging in income tax collections. Last month, the National Conference of State Legislatures released a report showing Oregon and Illinois as the only states projecting shortfalls at the end of the budget year that ends next summer.”

What happened to the money from the January tax increases? 

The January tax increase ballots provide a lesson, and will be a hot campaign issue this fall in Oregon. Read more here.

No Call List deadline fast approaching

News you can use


Have you signed up for the Wisconsin No Call List? You’d better hurry. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reports Tuesday, August 31, 2010  is the final day to register for the next list.

Registering is simple and free. You can visit the No Call List website here or call toll-free at calling 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255). Registration could take 30-120 days.

More  than 2.14 million landline and cell phone numbers are on the state’s No Call List. Cell phones comprise 43 percent of the current total. However, registering your cell phone is unnecessary and may be a very bad idea. Cell phone numbers are unpublished. If, for example, you provide your cell phone number to the national do not call list, suddenly, it becomes a published number. The lists of numbers must be purchased by telemarketers so they can comply with the do not call registry. It would be extremely easy for unscrupulous entities and foreign, international entities to get their hands on the numbers. Your best bet is to avoid registering your cell phone.

Exceptions to the No Call List include:


·                               Calls made to an existing customer like a bank or credit card company. 
·                               Calls made responding to a request or made after permission was granted      permission.
·                               Calls asking for a donation to a "nonprofit organization."
·                               Calls made for noncommercial purposes such as polls, surveys and political purposes.
·                               Calls made to a business telephone number.
·                               A call made by an individual acting on his or her own behalf, and not as an employee or agent of any other person. 

Here is more information.

Electronics recycling law coming

Legislation


Beginning September 1, 2010, Wisconsin’s new electronics recycling law goes into effect. The law bans
TVs, computers, DVD players, printers, and other electronics in landfills. Electronics that normally were tossed in the garbage will now have to be recycled.

Here is more information from the Department of Natural Resources 
and the Wisconsin Legislative Council.

 

Page Tools