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The Summer of Recovery hits a brick wall

Economy


The nation’s economy continues to sputter in the wrong direction.  The latest ADP (
Automatic Data Processing) National Employment Report released this week has stunning news that private sector jobs declined by 10,000 from July to August of this year. The decline was seen throughout major employment sectors, a sign the projected economic recovery is in the pause mode. Prior to the August decline, there had been employment increases from February through July.

The ADP National Employment Report calculates employment using an anonymous subset of approximately 500,000 U.S. business clients. You can read the August 2010  ADP National Employment Report here. 

The erosion of private sector jobs is placing incredible hardships on American families. New figures from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) show the number of consumer bankruptcies filed during August 2010 declined nationwide by eight percent.  However, the August 2010 filings are six percent higher than the filings made one year ago, and the total number of bankruptcies is now the highest it has been since 2005. The ABI indicates consumer bankruptcy filings could surpass 1.6 million this year.

These developments are a clear signal that Washington’s spending frenzy exacerbated the economic crisis gripping America. Families are being forced to tighten their belts, and soon they will not have belts to tighten.  Government at all levels is obligated to heed the actions of the American public and act likewise. Placing a greater financial burden on the shrinking workforce and shrinking incomes is fiscally irresponsible.

Rising veteran's home rates under review

Veterans issues

The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) completed the first phase of its evaluation of Wisconsin veteran’s homes.

The state currently maintains two facilities for veterans in need of nursing home or assisted living care: the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home at King, and the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home at Union Grove.  King provides nursing home care for up to 721 eligible veterans.  Union Grove provides nursing home care for up to 120 veterans and assisted living care for up to 123 eligible veterans and spouses.

Expenditures for the two facilities increased from $54.6 million during 2004-05 to $89.7 million during 2008-09, a 64 percent increase in four years. During the same period, revenues increased by 49.4 percent, resulting in operational deficits that are paid using a one-time $20 million federal payment to King during 2005.

Both facilities receive Medical Assistance payments for the majority of nursing home patients. During January, 2010, King received an average of $199.86 per nursing home resident per day, while Union Grove received an average of $252.

This discrepancy occurs in private pay rates as well.  Since offering nursing home care for the first time during 2007, rates have been significantly higher at Union Grove than at King, with the exception of a period during 2007 and 2008 that the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) required Union Grove to set its rates at the same level as King. 

Since then, private pay rates for King residents rose 17.5 percent, while private pay rates at Union Grove rose 45.8 percent.

Since 2007, DVA has attempted to keep Union Grove’s rates from rising so much faster than King’s, first by simply requiring that Union Grove’s rates be the same as King’s, and then by deliberately setting rates lower to “limit the size of the rate increase.”

According to the LAB, these rate limitations are part of the reason Union Grove has an operations deficit in recent years.  They are also part of the reason Union Grove’s rates have risen since 2009, to make up for the gap between revenues and expenses.

The LAB identifies vagueness in the rules regarding rate-setting as a culprit.  DVA staff members used varying methods of calculating rates.  However, the vague rules do not explain higher costs at Union Grove taking in more money per patient every year and recording deficits unlike King. It could simply be that King, a much larger facility with far more residents, has an economy of scale advantage.

An effect that must be considered is the higher rates rise, the fewer residents will be able to afford the rates.  LAB estimates that at least 12 residents left Union Grove during 2010 due to rate increases.

The LAB is recommending the Board of Veterans Affairs develop a formula to determine private pay rates for nursing home and assisted living care at the Wisconsin Veterans Homes, that the Board of Veterans Affairs formally review and approve all rate-setting proposals developed by DVA staff, and DVA report back to the Legislative Audit Committee during January 2011.  

This was the first phase of the LAB’s examination of veteran’s home operations.  I look forward to the next audit release and commend the best state government auditors in the country for another outstanding analysis on behalf of Wisconsin taxpayers.

Wisconsin government keeps growing

Economy


While the private sector struggles across the state and country, state and local government in Wisconsin is growing.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data obtained by the Wheeler Report, state employment accounted for 70,457 full time employees during 2009, up from 69,019 during  2008. Local government employment was 222,214 during 2009, up from 214,332 during 2008.

 

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Who’s really running the medical marijuana business?


During the previous general legislative session, there was a push by legislative democrats to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin. As a member of the Senate Health Committee, I heard plenty of testimony that caused me great concern.

At a December 2009 hearing
, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Kevin St. John said, “Compassion centers (medical marijuana dispensaries) become targets for criminal activity.” AAG St. John noted crimes including homicides have been associated with dispensaries. Drug dealers are known to congregate outside the facilities, offering marijuana for lower prices.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca tells the Los Angeles Times that criminals have actually taken over the medical marijuana industry. An illegal sale of medical marijuana in West Hollywood that went bad resulted in a triple murder. One of the three men killed in the deal had not brought enough money to purchase the marijuana. Police have a man in custody who confessed to the murders.

Sheriff Baca is heading up a campaign to defeat a medical marijuana provision on the November ballot in California, tells the LA Times,
“The medicinal marijuana program that voters authorized years ago has been hijacked by underground drug dealing criminals who are resorting to violence in order to control their piece of the action. There are predators armed and seeking easy dollars in sales of marijuana.”

Wisconsin AAG Kevin St. John was right. Medical marijuana in Wisconsin? No thanks.

Federal Government against Arizona

Constitution, Presidential power, Federalist Papers

Entry 52     

Current Event

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Puppy Mill Law - State wants public input about dog seller licensing regulations

Legislation


A new state law creates a system of regulation of dog breeders, dealers, and certain animal shelters. A person involved in any of these activities is required to secure a license from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) by June 1, 2011. DATCP is required to inspect the premises where activities are conducted before issuing a license. License holders must adhere to specific procedures outlined in the new law that was approved by the state Senate, 32-0 and the state Assembly, 96-0.

This month, state officials are holding five public hearings about proposed regulation designed to protect dogs and dog buyers. A hearing in Milwaukee is scheduled September 30.

Here is a Legislative Council memo about the new law and a news release about the public hearings.

Purr-ade at our FAN-tastic Fundraiser!

adopt, animals, parade, fundraiser, event, homecoming, football, donate, pets, humane society

This weekend, be sure to join HAWS Mobile Adoption Center, the Friends of HAWS and lots of other pet-friendly people/places at Dog Day Afternoon at the Waukesha Expo Center.  Sunday, Sept. 12th, from 10am - 2pm!

(And now, a *PUN ALERT*)


A big part of our fall fundraiser, HAWS Homecoming '10, is an old-fashioned Parade, complete with floats.  The processional will wind through the entire Olympia Resort venue where our event is being held, leading our guests to the main room for a Live Auction - which will feature a 'KLH hosting gig, front-row-behind-home-plate Brewers tickets, a year-long massage membership, a dinner/moonlight boat cruise and more great items.

Want to PARADE your business? 

Get in the game and help animals come home with a HOME-COMING float

It is sure to be a HIT PARADE and a PURR-fect way to keep your biz a-'float.' 

So go with the 'float.'

Forget Sunday/sundae - we'll have a FLOAT!

So how do you go about securing your very own 'float"ation device for HAWS?  It is very easy:  you give us a $100 donation and a 2'x3' sign with your business logo on it.  We do the rest!  We'll decorate your wagon (and we mean that literally - we're using little red wagons) and have an enthusiastic volunteer ready to be the wheels!  All floats will be on display before and after the parade, too, in a pretty noticeable spot (the hallway to and from the Resort entrance) so you'll get lots of "play" at our Big Game!

Interested?  Call us at 262-542-8851, x107 or email marketing@hawspets.org

By the way - adopters from now until October 9th will be able to purchase 2-for-1 tickets to HAWS Homecoming '10...and will be entered in a contest to win 2 VIP tickets!  NOW is the time to adopt 4 paws from HAWS!

Identity Theft-Part Three

News you can use


“Identity theft is a crime. Someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

The U.S. Justice Department

“Every 3 seconds another identity is stolen.”
Javelin Strategy and Research

Identity theft victimizes about ten million people annually, blasting our economy with a $50 billion hit according to Laurie Green of the Milwaukee Post Office. Green spoke at a special summit at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in Franklin and delivered a disturbing message about identity theft: no one is safe.

Internet use and identity theft correlate. Your personal ID is at greater risk the more you surf the Net. Lost or stolen wallets loaded with credit cards and checks are gold mines to identity thieves who could be co-workers, friends, or even family members.

The keys to your ID that thieves desire are name, address, date of birth, driver’s license, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, and any account numbers. Credit cards, financial transactions, stolen mail, and computer information are common targets. However, identity thieves have become quite sophisticated.

Special Agent Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was the main presenter at the Franklin summit. Ivey told attendees Albert Gonzalez pulled off the largest identity heist in the United States through a technique called “wardriving.” By driving through different locations armed with a laptop computer, Gonzalez was able to literally intercept retailers’ wireless Internet signals. He claimed 130 million victims. Earlier this year, Gonzalez was sent to prison for 20 years, the longest identity theft sentence ever imposed.

An increasing number of identity thieves are funding terrorists in other countries.
Remember, the September 11, 2001 hijackers used phony IDs to board planes. Thieves forge military IDs, threatening national security. They pile up traffic tickets in a victim’s name without intending to pay. They obtain passports in attempts to bring people into the country illegally.

The typical victim according to Ivey spends 400 hours straightening out a case, 
a period of 12.7 months transpires before an investigation even starts. By that time, all critical evidence could be gone.

Ivey told me at the summit he is very impressed with Wisconsin’s identity theft law, calling it one of the best in the nation. The state Legislature approved identity theft legislation during the 1997 regular session, Governor Tommy Thompson signed it into law, and it went into effect April 28, 1998. Wisconsin Statute 943.201 contains great detail and important language that if an individual reports identity theft to a law enforcement agency, “the agency shall prepare a report on the alleged violation.”
Violators are subject to a class H felony including up to six years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

If you are a victim:

1) Call the police.

2) Check your bank accounts

3) Contact the credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

4) Work with your creditors.

5) Report your case to the Federal Trade Commission.

To prevent identity theft:

  • Don’t put outgoing mail, especially bill payments, in personal curbside mailboxes
  • Make sure no one is standing right behind you when you’re using an ATM machine.
  • Pay your bills online using a secure site if available.
  • Don’t give out your credit card number on the Internet unless it is encrypted on a secure site.
  • If you have to give out personal or financial information from a public phone or by cell phone, make sure no one is listening or wait until you’re in a more secure location.
  • Shred all financial statements, billing statements, and preapproved credit card offers and the like before tossing in the trash. Use scissors to cut documents if you don’t have a shredder.
  • Examine all of your bank and credit card statements each month for mistakes or unfamiliar charges.  
  • Pick up new checks at the bank.
  • Commit all computer passwords to memory.  
  • Don’t give out your financial or personal information over the phone or Internet, unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Don’t exchange personal information for “prizes.”
  • Destroy the hard drive of your computer if you are selling it, giving it to charity, or otherwise disposing of it. Physically remove it.
  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket so a pickpocket can’t take it. Hold your purse close against your body through its straps.

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Nine years ago today

Survivors of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks make their way through smoke, dust & debris on Fulton St. (© Gulnara Samoilova/AP)

Survivors of the World Trade Center terrrorist attacks make their way through smoke, debris, and rubble. AP photo 



New York firefighters William Eisengrein, George Johnson & Daniel McWilliams plant an American flag at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001 (© Thomas E. Franklin/The Record-Bergen County, NJ)
 

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A Moment of Silence, A Time to Remember

 The week started out with the report of a crazy pastor in Gainesville, FL who vowed to burn the Qu'ran, the holy book of the Islamic faith, today, the anniversary of the attack on America that left 3,000 non-military personnel murdered as they were going about an idle Tuesday.

As angry as everyone was, and still should remain, Terry Jones missed the point as much as the terrorists did on that day.

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Congratulations Claudia Felske!

Good news from Senate District 28


East Troy High School English teacher Claudia Felske has been named Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year by state Superintendent Tony Evers. The announcement was made during a special surprise ceremony at East Troy High School  Wednesday.

A news release states, “Using music as a bridge to poetry, Felske has her students analyze popular songs to tease out layers of meaning in the lyrics with the goal moving even reluctant learners to use interpretive skills independently. She revamped the entire sophomore English term paper unit to make it more meaningful to students and correct historic learning and performance problems.”

Congratulations to Claudia Felske for this prestigious honor! You can read more about it here.

Good luck, John Hushek!

Good news from Senate District 28


John Hushek of Hales Corners, a sixth-grade teacher at the Indian Community School of Hales Corners, is one of three Wisconsin finalists for the 2010 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Hushek represents Wisconsin’s science finalist.

Award winners receive $10,000 and a citation signed by the president.

Congratulations to John Huskek and the other Wisconsin finalists for their classroom excellence and dedication.

Here is more information from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. 


Last year, Karen Nesbit, a teacher at Prairie View Elementary School in Franklin, won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Jobs For Votes

Constitution, executive power, 10th amendment

Entry 53

Current Event

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Shop & Dine and Help the Animals!

fundraisers, pets, adopt, shelter, HAWS, dine, shop, donate

HAWS teams up this weekend with the Shoppes at Fox River, Sunset Drive in Waukesha, for a day of fundraising, awareness and fun. Shop and dine all day to help the animals at HAWS!

This Saturday, September 18th, HAWS’ Mobile Adoption Center “sets up shop” for the afternoon at the center’s common Pavilion for a meet’n’greet of pets available for adoption from HAWSPetco of Waukesha, a great new friend of HAWS located at 1240 W. Sunset, will be setting the mood with a DJ, special promotions and fun for all – pets and people.

Also on Saturday, Noodles & Co. sponsors a benefit dining event from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m. Have lunch or dinner at their restaurant at 1210 W. Sunset in Waukesha, mention the HAWS fundraiser, and 25% of sales will be donated to HAWS!

The special day wraps with the “Rescues & Runways” Fashion Show, presented by Maurices of the Shoppes at Fox River. This benefit for HAWS, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Garden Pavilion area, will feature fall styles, a silent auction…and some very special HAWS alumni strutting their stuff with the Maurice’s models – in pet Halloween costumes provided by Petco.

HAWS Mobile Adoption Center brings happy tails to neighborhoods throughout Waukesha County!

By the way - in case you'd forgotten, HAWS’ annual fall fundraiser, HAWS Homecoming ‘10 is only a month away: Celebrate HAWS’ current and future alumni with a football-themed party, featuring a Homecoming Court of adoptable pets; a festive parade complete with floats; ‘fan’-tastic food buffets, silent/live auctions, casino gaming and more. Watch the UW vs. Ohio State game at the event and even win the flat-screen TV! General admission and VIP tickets for HAWS “big game” are now available, as are parade floats and event sponsorships. Call 262-542-8851 or visit hawspets.org.

CONSTITUTION DAY CELEBRATION THIS FRIDAY IN MILWAUKEE

Constitution

Federal Interference in State Religous Observation

Constitution, federal courts, Judicial branch, religion, separation between Church and State

Entry 54

Current Event

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Thanks for the Tail-waggin' Good Time!

shelter, HAWS, adopt, fundraiser, event, animals, pets

HAWS Mobile Adoptions crewHAWS and our Mobile Adoption Center had an AWESOME time this past Saturday at the Shoppes at Fox River on Sunset Ave. in Waukesha!

Thanks so much to the businesses there who made it a special day for the paws and claws at HAWS.

Noodles & Company's 25% dine-out for HAWS day made sure we had a great lunch and/or dinner while helping out the animals/programs of our shelter.  I know MY dogs were jealous when they saw what I was eating...

Maurices "Rescues & Runways" Fashion Show got us ready to shop for fall - and our HAWS alumni pet models really enjoyed strutting their stuff, too.  Ladies, you are just beautiful (and the cookies and cupcakes were pretty great, too)!

Petco-Waukesha not only provided the pet Halloween costumes for the shoe, but Nick kept us entertained and upbeat all day with his DJ stylings.  Tom, thanks for your patience during the costume fitting sessions...so glad your HAWS alumni pups were there with us.

But enough talking - check out our snapshots from the day to see for yourself!

By the way - We're always looking to put the fun in fundraising!  The Friends of HAWS, our Mobile Adoption Center and Fall Fundraiser committee would love for you to be a part of the team.  More into dog walking, cat cuddling or helping out at the shelter?  Become a HAWS volunteerWe'll see you soon!

A Good Idea Goes Dim

 I guess I remember hearing about this, but nevertheless the news that the last of the GE incandescent light bulbs would be made on Friday really bummed me out.

The GE factory in Winchester, VA was the last factory manufacturing the bulbs, ending an era that goes all the way back to the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison and the invention of electric light in the 1870s.  A measure passed by congress in 2007 sets standards that essentially bans the ordinary incandescent light bulb by 2014.

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October = Homecoming...all over!

Homecoming, fundraiser, event, adoptable, football, pets, shelter, HAWS

We’re completely in the Homecoming spirit at HAWS right now.  Not only are we having our own celebration – we’re joining in the fun at other homecoming fests, too!

Arrowhead High School’s DECA students have invited us to participate in Hawkfest this Friday, October 1st from 3-8pm. The kids have worked hard to make this a fun event – even securing an appearance by former Heisman Trophy winner and UW star Ron Dayne. Hawkfest includes food, a fun zone, silent auction, music and more. And this year HAWS Mobile Adoption Center is a special guest! We’ll have adoptable pets for viewing and we’ll also be doing a little fundraising along the way.

As a fun side note: several of the DECA student’s spent a few hours at HAWS recently, taking picture of our adoptables in AHS gear. They did a great job and the flyers and promo materials show off their amazing work! Tito and Niya look pretty awesome!

Carroll University has also asked us to ride along this Saturday, October 2nd in their homecoming parade! HAWS adoptable pets and their handlers (Lisa and the Mobile Adoptions crew) will be riding in convertibles throughout the city of Waukesha. Hmm, it may be hard to get them to ride in our simple vans after this…

By the way – you know HAWS has our very own Homecoming celebration coming up, right? Tickets are still on sale for our party on October 16th and we’d love to see you there. JUST ANNOUNCED: raffle tickets for our 42” LG LCD flat screen TV will go on sale WEDNESDAY (Sept. 29th). They are $20 each and will be available at the HAWS shelter up until our Homecoming event, and then on sale at the event, too. The drawing will be October 16th at 10pm, and you need not be present to win, but we really want you to join us anyway!

No Federal Authority Over Marriage Definition

Constitution, Legislative branch

Entry 55                   Current Event

Boston Globe, July 8. 2010(full article available on-line)

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