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(singing) It's the Most Wonderful Day of the Year (/singing)


You hear that?  It's my phone not ringing.

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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.

Intervention 102

Last week I covered approximately .001% of my experience regarding alcoholism.  The reason for me sharing is because I believe we are all affected in some sort of fashion.  We are all connected throughout this life by a loved one’s choice to consume this type of beverage in an excessive manner.  

Although I would love to solve the world’s problems, my job first and foremost is to help individuals take steps regarding their own personal health.  Unless we take care of ourselves, there is no way in heck we can help anyone else.  

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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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I ran some errands today

Nutjobs, State Fair, Taxes, West Allis


On my way back from lunch I was heading west on I-94 from downtown.  By the time I got home, I had compliled these words of advice for our friends at the Harley Davidson festivities this weekend.

  • If I am behind you in the center lane on the freeway, and neither of us is going 45 MPH, then you are not just one lane too far left, but about one mile from where you should be.  Get off the freeway and use Bluemound Road
  • If I am in the left lane (getting around dufus number one) and you get so close to my rear bumper that I can count the mosquitoes in your teeth, you may be in the wrong country.
  • You and your bretheren are the only ones who want to hear your potato-potato-potato.  Today is one of the first car window open days in weeks, and gunning your motors under the overpass impresses nobody.  All it does is make me wish that the roadway loses its integrity.

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NFPA Study: Nearly all structure fire deaths happen in home fires.

NFPA study:  Nearly all structure fire deaths happen in home fires.

Home fires cause annual average of 2,840 civilian deaths.

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Revenge of the Nerds LIVE

James family, YouTube


(Subtitled: The Second Most Wonderful Day of the Year)


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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.

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.

School Time

It’s back to school time. Parents are cheering, kids are griping, and the Greenfield Police are going to help get those kids to school in a safe manner. It’s time to give yourself a little extra time to get to work because of school busses, school crossings, and school zone speed limits.

Remember:

-School zone speed is 15mph
-Pedestrians have the right of way if they are in the crosswalk, especially if being escorted by a crossing guard
-You must stop 20ft from the front and rear of a stopped school bus displaying its’ flashing red lights and you may not proceed until the flashing red lights have stopped.  If it is a divided highway, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus do not have to stop.
 
Violations of these laws can not only be costly but can injure or kill. Every year kids are injured or killed by violators of these laws when they are trying to get to or from school. Let’s keep our kids and roads safe by following the laws and being attentive drivers.

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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Greenfield School District AGAIN Wants To Increase Property Tax Levy!!!

Proposed School District Tax Levy Increase...............

The Greenfield School District will present its increase in the property tax levy to electors at the September Annual Meeting on Monday, September 13th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield High School Performing Arts Center located at 4800 S 60th Street.  

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Walk in the Park Registration

A Walk in the Park, Community Walk is schedule for October 2nd at 9:30am.  There will be 3 routes to choose from a 1 mile, 2 mile, or 3 mile for your family to enjoy.  Pre-Registered participants will recieve a t-shirt, gift bag, popcorn, apple, & water.  Register by Sept. 20th to ensure a shirt in the size requested.  A special registration form is linked below.  Hope to see you at Konkel Park :)

DEAR JOHN

Dear John*:

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The poker gods were not happy


You know, even I am tired of going on vacations.  It started when My-Sugar-Na didn't come along to Reno with me in May, so I treated her to a few days in Manhattan in July.  But I couldn't let the poker boys down in September now, could I?


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Greenfield mayor wants resale ordinance rescinded

Resale shops

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke will ask city aldermen tonight to rescind ordinances they passed this spring that require resale stores to make daily reports to the police on transactions, and to pay fees on them.

"Passing this ordinance places us in a position where leases for these enterprises are not renewed, commercial properties lay vacant, and commercial property value declines (raising taxes for everybody else). That's a bad thing," Neitzke said in a e-mail to a constituent that he shared with me.

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Audiobooks and Ebooks

Overdrive, audiobooks, ebooks, Technology

Did you know that the library has free audiobooks and ebooks that you
can download to your home computer and transfer to many portable
devices such as an iPad, iPod, or Nook?

What you need:
An active Library Card
Windows or Mac computer, some smartphones also work (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows Mobile)
Internet connection

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District Attorney Kratz

The recent story regarding District Attorney Kenneth R. Kratz may ring a bell with more individuals than not..

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Zumba - A - Thon

People are doing more than burning calories in Greenfild.  They are exercising and dancing for a good cause.  The City of Greenfield will host a Zumba Thon to raise funds for the renovation of the Greenfield Community Center.

To learn more about information/ details about the Greenfield Community Center renovation project and sponsorship - check out the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Website at www.greenfieldwi.us/theu  100% of the procedes will be applied towards the renovation of the Community Center - no tax dollars are to be used.

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