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More reasons to be worried about medical marijuana


This news from the Christian Science Monitor is stunning:

“Around the country today, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of high schoolers are bringing pot to school, and they’re doing it legally. Not to get stoned, but as part of prescribed medical treatment. And they don’t have to tell school authorities about it. This is putting teachers and principals in a new and challenging position. In many counties and school districts, there are no clear guidelines – for school officials, students, or parents.”

A 17-year old Oregon student is quoted that this is not surprising:

“Some of them (students) have it for medical reasons, but others are just trying to get free weed and sell it, turn it around,” said Wesley Davis.

Outraged parents might be confused, thinking that federal anti-drug laws supercede state laws on medical marijuana. Not anymore. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, “the Obama administration has reversed that position.”

Even California is beginning to see the light and raise eyebrows about marijuana. The Los Angeles Common Council  has
after many years of debate, finally decided to restrict the number of pot dispensaries and restrict where they can be located. The Council took action to curtail the growth of pot stores that have popped up on Los Angeles’ major boulevards by the hundreds.

As Los Angeles is poised to shut down numerous pot stores, the national debate about the legalization of  marijuana rages on. The Los Angeles Times 
in an opinion piece opposed to the legalization of marijuana writes, “Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in….. There’s a reason the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse. It is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, and more teens are in treatment for marijuana addiction than for alcohol or any other drug. Do we really want this habit-forming drug easier to get, particularly as the nation has made significant strides in reducing illegal drug use?”

As a member of the state Senate Committee on Health, I continue to have very serious concerns about proposed medical marijuana legislation in Wisconsin.

Food safety workshop for produce growers

News you can use

The Buy Local Buy Wisconsin Workshop Roadshow will host three workshops during February titled “Food Safety on the Market Farm.” One of the workshops will be conducted in State Senate District 28 in East Troy on February 10, 2010.

The day long workshop will focus on providing produce growers the latest information about ensuring the safety of products delivered to markets.

Here is a news release and brochure from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection with more information.

"Don't hold your breath"

Economy, State budget

If you believe as many economists do that our recession is over, it will be disheartening to know that our recovery is going to take some time. As I wrote during November 2009, 
“’The recession is officially over’ should be a great headline. However, the good news won’t kick in for months, possibly years later.”

State Legislatures magazine in its February edition concurs with even more grim news reporting that high employment and lower revenues will haunt state governments “well into the next decade” despite some recent glimmer of hope.

The stock market rise continues and the third quarter GDP (gross domestic product) showed growth. However, tax revenues are flat or on the decline, unemployment is high, and demand for state government services also remains high.

Donald J. Boyd, a senior fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, says the timetable to real economic recovery is going to grind and grind. Boyd told State Legislatures magazine, “If you look at the last recession from the point at which the GDP began to recover, it was 17 quarters before employment wages got back to where they were when it started. Consumption is typically highly related to people’s incomes. You expect consumer spending to take a little time to recover. There are reasons to believe it will take a long time.”

NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) Executive Director William T. Pound offers analysis I have written about in the past. Pound calls it the “cliff effect,” the sudden end of stimulus funding to the states from Washington D.C.

“The combination of continuing state revenue shortfalls and the decline in federal stimulus funds over the next two years points to a very difficult road ahead for the states,” says Pound.

Rosy proclamations by some economists that the worst is over do not resonate or even matter to the average struggling American. Mitch Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency in the state of Michigan told State Legislatures magazine, “What’s important to most people is employment. People who are looking for work are not going to recognize the end of a recession because they are either unemployed or underemployed.”

Bean predicts economic conditions will actually get worse before they get better, a sentiment echoed by David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poor’s. Wyss says, “Don’t hold your breath. I think we’ve got at least four or five years before we get back to anything approaching normal.”

The time for fiscal restraint is greater now than ever before.

Read more in State Legislatures magazine

A February of Fun and Love...and a "nip" and "snip" too!

adopt, animals, donate, holidays, rescue, seminars, shelter

At HAWS we're having a heartwarming February with great activities and events – and our annual observance of Spay Day USA!

As part of the Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) national Spay Day USA on February 23, HAWS presents our Cat-“nip” Campaign and Pit “Snip.”  Our Spay-Neuter Initiative Program (SNIP) clinic will offer free spay-neuter services to qualifying Waukesha County residents, focusing on cats/kittens, Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes - the species and breeds found to be most in need of sterilization services in Waukesha County.  Applications for the free surgeries can be obtained at or at our facility.  HAWS also seeks participation and donations from the community:  “Sponsor-A-Spay,” enter the HSUS online photo contest and specify HAWS as your charity of choice, or purchase a special limited edition Spay Day t-shirt from HAWS for $10!

The annual Friends of HAWS Have a Heart Bake Sale will take place on Friday, Feb. 12 from 9am to 5pm and Saturday, 2/13 from 9am to noon. Come to Waukesha State Bank at 100 Bank Street in downtown Waukesha to purchase sweet treats for your valentine – person or pet! Want to become a Friend? Join us at our next monthly meeting on 2/10 at 7pm at HAWS.

The HAWS Mobile Adoption Center has several special stops planned this month.  We will again attend the Great Lakes Pet Expo at State Fair Park THIS Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10am – 6pm.  And, come Wash Your Dog for HAWS at Petlicious Dog Bakery and Pet Spa on Sunday, Feb. 14 from 11am – 3pm. Join us at 2217 Silvernail Road, just off the I94 and Hwy. T interchange.

HAWS Event Calendar: Our free puppy seminar will be held on 2/7, small animal pedicures are offered on 2/10 (at Pet Supplies Plus) and 2/20 (at HAWS), First Aid for Pets is 2/20, and our general HAWS volunteer orientations are scheduled for February 21 and 23.

By the way - looking for the perfect Valentine?  Find your match at HAWS!  Unconditional love can be yours when you adopt a pet...

The Census is coming, and so are phony Census takers

The process of counting Americans began last week in the Alaskan Eskimo village of Noorvik. A dog sled was used to get to the village.

Most Americans will receive census forms around or after March 1, 2010. According to U.S. Census 2010:

The form package, which will consist of the initial form, a cover letter and a return envelope, will be delivered between March 15 and March 17, 2010, in areas where the United States Postal Service delivers the census forms for the Census Bureau. Census Bureau workers will deliver forms between March 1 and April 30, 2010, in all other areas.

One of the shortest census forms in history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Read more

Cellphone, texting bans have not reduced accidents


During the past few months, I have blogged that banning texting while driving is unnecessary 
and that texting bans are essentially ignored.

There is more data shedding doubt on the effectiveness of such laws. In what is being called a shocking report that was highlighted in a front page story in USA TODAY, the Highway Loss Data Institute HLDI) has found that laws banning the use of hand-held devices have not reduced the number of accidents in three states and the nation’s capital.

The HLDI writes, “As state legislators across the United States enact laws that ban phoning and/or texting while driving, a new Highway Loss Data Institute study finds no reductions in crashes after hand-held phone bans take effect.”

"The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk," says Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI. "If crash risk increases with phone use and fewer drivers use phones where it's illegal to do so, we would expect to see a decrease in crashes. But we aren't seeing it. Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect. This is surprising, too, given what we know about the growing use of cellphones and the risk of phoning while driving.”

Lund concludes, “This finding doesn't auger well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving."

Read more from the USA TODAY  and the HLDI.

Not now, mommy's on FaceBook

Many posts back, I swore I wasn't interested in social networking.  I resisted invites to LinkedIn, and eventually relented because it was a good step in getting my resume out there.  Being unemployed, I figured it couldn't hurt, and I swear I'm trying to keep up.

However, my daughter asked if she could join facebook, and explained that through her cousin's account, she found many of our relatives - adults and students alike.  Wouldn't it be a great way to connect?

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Congratulations BuySeasons!

Good news from Senate District 28

More good news from New Berlin-based BuySeasons,
the largest online retailer of costumes and party supplies.

BuySeasons is adding 125 jobs. 

Congratulations Buy Seasons! I am very proud you are in state Senate District 28!

An incredible traffic safety statistic for Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation
 reports, “
January had the lowest number of traffic deaths in Wisconsin of any month on record, going back to 1937 when the state began compiling monthly fatality figures.”

Congratulations, Wisconsin motorists. Let’s keep this pattern moving throughout the rest of 2010.

Green initiatives create jobs……….outside the U.S.


As a member of
the Senate Select Committee on Clean Energy, I have deep concerns about proposed global warming legislation now being reviewed by the Legislature.

One of my chief worries is the potential for the legislation to be a jobs killer.The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute reviewed 13 of the governor’s Global Warming Task Force’s recommendations and finds that if enacted would result in a loss of 31,000 jobs over the next 11 years. Toss in cap and trade provisions and the job loss mounts to 49,000.

Where could so-called “green” jobs created end up? Try China.

Bloomberg reports jobs to manufacture components for clean air technology will be shipped overseas where costs are significantly lower. The report opens with this startling news:

President Barack Obama is spending $2.1 million to help Suntech Power Holdings Co. build a solar- panel plant in Arizona. It will hire 70 Americans to assemble components made by Suntech’s 11,000 Chinese workers.”

Bloomberg also reports, “Last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus package included about $80 billion for energy programs and created 200,000 jobs in construction and clean energy.”

Think about it: $80 billion for 200,000 jobs. Is $400,000 per job a wise use of taxpayer dollars?

The United States is boosting job creation in China in order to develop a supposed “green” economy and clean earth. This is incredibly ironic given that China is the world’s biggest polluter

If these revelations weren’t so scary, they would be funny.

APAM: Abstinence works


“Theory-based abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in preventing adolescent sexual involvement.”

That is the conclusion of a new abstinence study released this week in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (APAM).

The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of an abstinence-only intervention in preventing sexual behavior by young adolescents. A random trial was conducted in urban public schools with a total of 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7.

Students were split into four different interventions plus a control group during a 24-month period: An 8-hour abstinence-only intervention targeted reduced sexual intercourse; an 8-hour safer sex–only intervention targeted increased condom use; 8-hour and 12-hour comprehensive interventions targeted sexual intercourse and condom use; and an 8-hour health-promotion control intervention targeted health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.

The study measured self-reporting on the part of the participants about their sexual behavior during that time, including intercourse.

Here is the major finding: The abstinence-only intervention reduced by about 33 percent the percentage of students who reported ever having sexual intercourse by the end of the 24-month study period.

Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage summed up the results: “The abstinence-only approach, in this one rigorous study, was the only one that ‘worked’.”

In light of this study that Gallgher calls, “the gold standard for intervention research, a bright and shining pinnacle of research design that social science seldom ever reaches,” Gallagher poses the following: “Will President Obama step forward to restore abstinence-only funding?”

Noting that critics of abstinence programs abound, Gallagher writes in the National ReviewSo I would like to propose this as the new minimum standard for government-backed social programs: not one dime unless you can show at least one random-assignment study that demonstrates effectiveness. Oops, there goes Head Start. Oops, there goes, er . . . most of the budget deficit?The standards of science are trotted out only to swat down policies that support sexually conservative ideas. They are almost never applied to progressive ideas. And never to sexually liberal ideas, ever.”

Here in Wisconsin, a state statute I authored about abstinence is in serious jeopardy. Governor Doyle is poised to sign legislation into law making dramatic changes in the way sex education is taught in our public schools. 

Reducing the emphasis on abstinence in our school is inherently risky and will have severe implications for the health and welfare of our youth.

Sandy's Stories - Wonderful Walter

adopt, foster, animals, pets, rescue, shelter

Please enjoy another of Sandy's Stories!

Animals are a gift!In my many years of working in animal welfare, I've seen the horrors of animal abuse. It is a constant struggle not to let your heart be broken. One never gets used to seeing abused animals, but one does learn how to deal with the feeling that arises. If you don't, you will never be able to help others!

That very feeling was the one I had when I saw Wonderful Walter, a gray and white 4-year-old cat. There he was, sitting in the back of his cage at HAWS, curled up on a nice fuzzy blanket.  He had been treated for an eye infection, but when it did not heal he was sent out for an x-ray. The x-ray revealed that he had been shot in the right eye with a b.b. gun. Anyone that has ever had anything wrong with their eye knows how painful that can be and can only imagine the severe pain and fear that this cat went through.

The x-ray revealed that the b.b. had traveled inside his body, and was now lodged inside of his cheek. The vet was able to remove it, and the surgery site was stitched shut with dissolvable sutures. We all hoped that Walter would have a rapid recovery.

Walter’s foster home had taken in another foster animal during his surgery leave, and I was only too happy to take Walter to my home as a foster. I already knew in my heart that we would probably be keeping him. 

(When I am around animals there is a feeling that I get about certain ones that I just know were meant for us…I had that feeling with Walter, or as we say at home, "The sucker sign on our foreheads was blinking again!")Walter waits at the snackbar...

When I brought him home I put him in our guest/foster bedroom. He stayed curled up in his basket and would not eat. I finally put canned cat food on a small plate and heated it in the microwave to let the savory juice entice him. It worked - and it wasn't long before he was eating like a champ! However, now we have created a monster: he now regularly sits at our snack bar counter with that cute little face, waiting for me to heat his food in the microwave. There are times during the day that I find him sitting there and, of course, I always give him a taste of his warmed food. Yes, I am spoiling him but isn't that why they are here?  Besides, the time they have with us is always too short.

Walter is the dearest, sweetest little cat with a perfectly marked white and gray face and the cutest tail I have ever seen. It curls over his back like a Husky dog and when he runs it bounces back and forth. He has fit right into our household of other cats and dogs and parakeets. He loves sitting in his basket watching the outside birds and sitting on my husband's lap. 

I cannot ever imagine not having Walter in our family, and I hope that our love and caring will erase the pain that he has endured. We can see he is happy here and that alone makes us feel that in some way we are making a difference - at least to him. 

Oh yes, we ended up adopting Walter so he is a permanent member of our household. Follow-up examinations of his eye confirmed that he is blind in that eye, but it doesn’t stop him!  Thanks again HAWS for giving a little animal a second chance.

By the way - this weekend we have 2 neat fundraising events going on for HAWS!  The Friends of HAWS are holding our annual Have a Heart Bake Sale on Friday and Saturday, the 12th and 13th, hosted by Waukesha State Bank, 100 Bank Street in Waukesha.  Then, join us for the Dog Wash for HAWS at the "spa" part of Petlicious Dog Bakery & Spa, 2217 Silvernail Road (just off I94 and Hwy. T).  Rub-a-dub, all pups in the tub!

Why do kids get so many ear infections?

I remember having ear infections as kid. Sometimes they were so bad that it even hurt to lay my head on a pillow. Sound familiar?

Ear infections are a common health problem for kids. About 60 to 80 percent of kids have at least one ear infection before their first birthday, and 75 percent of kids will have had at least one ear infection by age 3.

Read more

Do you watch the Olympics?

The question seems simple enough, but when posed, it generally elicits a bit of debate.

Most of the people who do and most of the people who don't watch cite the same reason:  these are sports I've never seen before. 

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SIT, STAY...and Get Your Paintbrush Waggin!

animals, fundraiser, awareness, shelter, rescue, pets

Barnaby would like to do some finger, er, PAW painting...HAWS and the Waukesha County Museum are holding a Student Art Showcase open to anyone, Kindergarten through Post High School.

Original artwork must show one of the following values we learn from our pets: Joy and Laughter, Friendship, Love and Kindness, Loyalty or Nurturing.  Notes our Executive Director, Lynn Olenik: “We often stress the importance of core values for our youth, and our pets demonstrate these values on a daily basis.  We can learn so much from our pets!”

Student artists are encouraged to choose one of the values, and be creative!  Artwork should be either 8"X10" or 11"X14" and use media such as watercolors, photography, and the like.  Further details can be found on the entry form on the HAWS website.  Entries must be received at HAWS on or before Monday, March 15, 2010.  The winners of the Student Art Showcase will be announced at by Monday, March 29, 2010.

The “top dog” from each age (K-4th, 5th-8th, high school and post high school) and each value category will be chosen.  The winners will receive a ribbon, as well as having their artwork framed and displayed at the Waukesha Museum during The Nature of Dogs exhibit, which is being showcased April 10 - June 12.  After the museum exhibit, the artwork will return to HAWS where it will be permanently displayed throughout the newly remodeled shelter!

For further details, an entry form or more information, visit or email  The entry form must be included with the artwork when it is delivered to HAWS.

By the way - HAWS and the Museum will be offering many fun activities throughout the run of The Nature of Dogs - stay tuned for all the details!

Lessons from the Olympics

A follow up to my last group of Olympic thoughts...things I have learned (athletes, feel free to borrow these nuggets of wisdom) thus far:

  • Never state that figure skating is remaining simply a sport.  About 24 hours after my last post, the antics at the medal ceremony and subsequent comments by the Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko (and Vladimir Putin, for Petrov's sake!) have pushed it back into 'soap operaville'
  • No athlete should let the NBC cameras or microphones near them.  Intrusive and embarrasing, they've picked up on intimate, emotional conversations between athletes, sometimes having to publicly apologize for the f-bombs that came with them. 
  • Any sport can be made more interesting with a good wipe out (non-lethal, of course)
  • Canada's national anthem is darn catchy, and I'm hoping to learn all the words.
  • Bobsledders go faster when they turn to each other and scream into each other's face just prior to their run
  • Ice dancing is the exception to my previous point about wipe outs.  Nothing can make this riveting in my eyes, unless Johnny Depp takes up the sport.
  • I love Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", even though I initially thought it was They Might Be Giants - good call by AT&T (no pun intended)
  • Apollo Ono's soul patch still annoys me; I need to constantly fight the urge to grab a napkin and wipe his chin to make it go away
  • Bob Costas still annoys me; I need to constantly fight the urge to grab a napkin and wipe my television screen to make him stop talking and go away

Heart murmurs and kids: What parents should know

Heart murmurs sound scary, but don’t be alarmed if a doctor says your child has a heart murmur. There actually are many different types of heart murmurs, and the majority are normal or innocent. These innocent heart murmurs occur in about 60 percent of all school-age kids. Heart murmurs actually are the most common reason kids may see a pediatric cardiologist.

What is an innocent heart murmur?
A heart murmur simply is an extra noise the heart makes as blood moves through its different parts. Innocent heart murmurs are not caused by a heart defect, and different types of innocent heart murmurs may be heard at different ages. Innocent heart murmurs are sometimes called a functional murmur or physiologic murmur. An innocent heart murmur may become louder when your child has a fever, has been exercising, or is excited or fearful. This is normal.

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Calling all Adorable Pets!!!

adopt, animals, spay, neuter, donate, fundraiser, humane, pets, rescue, shelter

Wendell is ready to hang out in YOUR home - let's raid the fridge!Do you have the world’s most adorable pet?  You can help HAWS, and commemorate Spay Day USA while showing off YOUR superstar!

Here's How:
Enter your pet's picture in the Humane Society of the US online photo contest, which they're running especially for Spay Day, and specify HAWS as your charity of choice.  Then, ask everyone you know to vote for your pet:  each vote translates into a $1 donation to help HAWS spay and neuter even more pets.  (Even if you don’t have pet or don’t want to enter, you can still make a difference by voting for one the pets benefiting HAWS.)

Fufu would like a nice salad - let's do lunch!Today, February 23rd, is Spay Day 2010 - the annual event sponsored by the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) to focus on the continuing importance of spay/neuter for our companion animals.

For the rest of this week our Spay-Neuter Initiative Program (SNIP) clinic is running a "Spay Day special" - providing free spays or neuters for the pets of Waukesha County residents that qualify for the program.  Program information can be obtained by calling the SNIP clinic at 262-542-8851, x109 or by stopping by HAWS - you can check out our newly remodeled shelter while your here!

To balance the cost of SNIP services, we're also “sniffing out” donations from the community. Notes Lynn Olenik, our E.D.:  “With the support we receive from our community for our SNIP clinic, we are able to save countless lives.”

Goofy needs you to help out the HAWS cause!Anyone can “Sponsor-A-Spay” - just choose the type of surgery and the amount you'd like to contribute.  Donations can be mailed to the shelter or done online quickly and easily through Paypal, using the DONATE button on our SNIP webpage.

By the way - Our Mobile Adoption Center has big plans for the month of does our entire shelter!  Save the date:  our annual Get Lucky Adoptathon is coming up on March 13th at HAWS.

Why you should give your kid a credit card in high school


          As our kids move through high school and beyond, it's important that they learn how to handle money and credit, especially credit.  I think the best time to handle this is when our kids are in high school when they are still in our households and we can help educate them on things.  If we wait for them to experience credit when they reach college, they might make poor use of credit and get themselves into debt quickly without our helping them.  We gave each of our kids a credit card when they started driving as we always paid for the gas so we wanted to make it easy for them to fill up.  We also said they could use it for items they wanted but with a very clear understanding that anything that they put on the credit card like that was to be paid for when the bill arrived.  The card also gets a cash reward once a year and doesn't have an annual fee.  For the most part our kids did ok, but our son purchased quite a few items one month and was surprised when I presented him with the bill.  It took most of his available cash to get rid of that month's purchases and was a wakeup call.  I wish that I had someone educate me about credit when I was his age as I used credit too much and ended up paying a lot of interest on items that in retrospect were not worth it.

           Small lessons like this with specific boundaries help our kids in many ways. They will will learn about and use credit whether you want them to or not. I think it's much better for us to help them through this very important experience.  Thanks.

Racism requires vigilance

A friend of mine is in a citizen's group allied with Police, and I will receive from time to time alerts or updates from her based on Muskego Police communications.

Last week, I paid attention to one regarding a red van, which I admit seeing during the week, driving slowly.  I quickly realized that once again we were receiving another of about a dozen yellow pages that seem to spring up just below my mailbox.  What really caught my attention in the email was the statement that neighbors noted two black men driving the van.

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