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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Governor Scott Walker: Not "dawning of age of Aquarius" but a new direction

Elections, TAXES, THE ECONOMY, WISCONSIN

Yesterday, Scott Walker was sworn in as Wisconsin's 45th governor. For conservatives, this day was a long time coming. While I didn't watch the ceremony, I did hear some of it on the radio. As I tuned in, I heard a choir singing, of all things, The Age of Aquarius! It was such a bizarre choice that I scolded the car radio, who picked this? But it was indeed the Walker Inauguration, for soon the ceremony was under way.

If you didn't hear our new governor, do take a look at his speech. It seems pretty obvious that while this isn't the "dawning of the age of Aquarius" it is the beginning of an era of fiscal responsibility and limited government.

Walker quoted from our state Constitution a few times, going back to our roots. He said our Constitution "speaks to the source of our liberties: 'We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution.' Powerful words."

Then he added, "
Our rights as free people are given by our creator, not the government. Among these rights is the right to nurture our freedom and vitality through limited government." (My emphasis)

Knowing he faces an uphill battle to turn this state around hasn't quelled Walker's enthusiasm in the least. He seems energized and ready to tackle the projected $3 billion dollar budget deficit. Job creation, sizing our govenment to what we can afford, and the economy are his top priorities.

As he said in his speech, "It is through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people."

Walker concluded with, "'Justice… Moderation… Temperance… Frugality… Virtue.' [from Article I, Section 22 of our constitution] These are the values upon which our state was formed and the values that will drive us forward."

Will we always like this new direction? Probably not. Belt tightening and being responsible is seldom pleasant or easy.

Can we who are Conservatives just sit back and allow the Republican controlled Assembly and Senate to conduct business as usual? No. We must remain vigilant. A Democratic Republic doesn't run on autopilot.

So Godspeed, Governor Walker, in the journey set before you. It's an uphill climb!

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Brr, it's cold. It's also skating season at Brookfield parks

Just for fun!, Musing, Brookfield

The temperatures have dropped and that means Brookfield's skating ponds are OPEN! I noticed the park department swept off a spot on Kinsey Park's pond and posted the sign for skating. For my neighborhood, this is a relatively new amenity.

When I was a child, Kinsey Park pond was a popular skating spot during the winter months. Our park system even provided gas heat in the warming house! (Warming house/picnic shelter is pictured at left. Open doorways were closed off during the winter months.) Those were the good ole days.

I don't recall the shelter being closed off since we moved here in the late 1980s, but they did still allow skating. At least until the fateful day when the snow sweeper machine fell through the ice!

Many of us in the neighborhood felt the weather had been a little too warm to be driving on the ice at that time, but alas, because of the accident, the pond was deemed unsafe for skating from then on.

But last February I noticed a parks department worker sweeping off the pond again and a new sign: Skating Pond OPEN. So I asked what changed their minds? He said they did some studies* and found the pond's ice was stable enough to support skating again. Great.

So this weekend, maybe you and your kids might want to grab the skates and hit the ice? Have fun.

*The City of Brookfield has done several storm water projects in our neighborhood and with Kinsey Pond. In years past, it was thought there was too much drainage water flowing into and out of the pond, under the ice. This is why they thought the ice was unstable. I believe there were some changes made since the sewer projects, and so that is no longer the case. Last winter was the first time I noticed the pond was OPEN for skating in a l-o-n-g time.
 

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Elmbrook, what if Wisconsin defunds 4K?

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES, WISCONSIN

Wisconsin changed from a very blue state to very red one last November, with the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker and a Republican majority in the Assembly and State Senate. And from all appearances, it seems we will no longer continue business as usual (or more accurately spending as usual) on government programs that don't work.

Our state is in a serious fiscal crisis, being $3 billion in the red, in this budget cycle. We must look at how we spend our money and then eliminate those line items that do not show benefit. Just because we have had a program in the past is no longer reason enough to continue that program.

One such program is 4K. State Senator Glenn Grothman has talked about defunding 4K several times in recent weeks. His reason? It doesn't work, and it is EXPENSIVE!

Grothman states:
"Recent studies have confirmed that any academic benefits of government funded preschool disappear by the fourth grade... Studies in Oklahoma, the state which has the model four-year-old program, show a decline in their fourth grade reading scores over the past eleven years, after benefits of their 4K programs should have been realized."(My emphasis)

Since 4K is one of the remedies being considered for Elmbrook's budget woes, it is important we consider the What if Wisconsin defunds 4K? before we rely on its curative powers for our budget.

The number of 4-year-olds in kindergarten has tripled in the last 10 years, and more school districts in our state are proposing it for this year. Last year alone, Grothman stated, "four-year-old kindergarten programs cost this state $140 million in state tax collections and cost local property taxpayers another $82 million." That adds up to $222 Million for a program that doesn't show long term educational benefit. And that is not FREE money, that money comes out of the taxpayers' pockets!

The Madison School District is starting a 4K program this year for an additional $10 Million, and other districts are considering it too. At present, 85% of Wisconsin school districts have a 4K program.

So why are these districts so gung ho on a program that doesn't work? Money. It is a school district budget funding tool.

In Campbellsport, for example, "The district receives an additional $423,000 in state aid for the 70 students enrolled. Cost to employ two teachers and two aides for the program is approximately $164,000." This doesn't reflect all the hidden costs of the program, but it does give you an idea of why 4K is so seductive.

Grothman writes: "For the past 15 years, Wisconsin has encouraged adopting four-year-old kindergarten by allowing school districts as much revenue authority for a four-year-old as they have for their more costly to educate high school students. "

But if there were no state revenue authority or funding for 4K, would Elmbrook still be casting an eye toward starting the program? I sincerely doubt it.

Our board will be discussing 4K and other budget enhancing options such as school closings and increasing non-resident enrollment very soon. I have heard we have our own study of how our pilot program 4K-ers perform, compared to Elmbrook students who didn't attend 4K.

Many of our board members are not in favor of 4K, but the make up of the board will be changing in April with Gary Jones stepping down and Kathryn Wilson up for reelection.

Please contact your representatives about this. Wisconsin and Elmbrook cannot afford to spend precious tax dollars on programs that don't work.

Elmbrook School Board Members

State Assembly:
Representative Dale Kooyenga, 14th Assembly District,
(608) 266-9180, Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wi.gov
Representative Paul Farrow, 98th Assembly District, (608) 266-5120 Rep.Farrow@legis.wi.gov

State Senate:
Senator Leah Vukmir, 5th Senate District,
(608) 266-2512 Sen.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Rich Zipperer, 33rd Senate District, (608) 266-9174 Sen.Zipperer@legis.wisconsin.gov

Governor Scott Walker (608) 266-1212 govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

More Reading: Time to Stop the Expansion of Four-year-old Kindergarten
Reason Foundation: Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten
 

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Call Wisconsin Legislature to move on Photo Voter I.D.

Elections, Legislation, Voter fraud, WISCONSIN

Last week, State Senator Joe Leibham and Rep. Jeff Stone introduced a Photo Voter I.D. bill, a measure that most Wisconsinites agree is long overdue. It would be great to have this in place for the spring election, when we select a new justice for the State Supreme Court. But to do that, the bill needs to be scheduled for joint hearings a.s.a.p. That's where your phone call comes in--contact numbers below.

While I am pleased to see Photo Voter I.D.'s introduction, I think we could do much more to protect the integrity of Wisconsin elections from voter fraud. But at this point, all the bill deals with is the requirement that voters present an approved photo I.D. when they go vote. At present, it does nothing to stop same day voter registration or allowing a 3rd party, such as ACORN, to conduct voter registration drives.

Considering the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly both have Republican majorities, can we please clean up these other two potential voter fraud provisions too?

Those critical of the Photo Voter I.D. requirement say that requiring a Driver's License or State Photo I.D. would discourage voting if the person didn't have an approved I.D. This is a stretch, since most people over 18 years of age drive have a driver's license. In the odd case where an 18 year old doesn't have a drivers license (as was the case with my own offspring) a State I.D. was obtained. The bill has a provision to provide the appropriate I.D. for those who cannot afford one.

Last November, I volunteered to be a poll watcher with We're Watching Wisconsin Elections and was assigned to 2 different inner city polling places. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of voters during my 2 shifts voluntarily showed their photo I.D.s to the poll workers checking them in. Though the driver's license was not asked for, the voter usually started getting it out of their wallet as they approached the table. Sadly, some other voters needed someone to vouch for them as for their change in address.

Since I voted absentee that election, I did wonder if there would be some designation on the voter roll at my own polling place. I checked later in the day and thankfully, there was a notation next to my name. But not all City Clerks are as efficient as our Kris Schmidt! This is an area where fraudulent votes could be cast that Photo Voter I.D. would eliminate.

We need to get this legislation moving through the Assembly and Senate pronto. If it is to be in place by April's election, it must be passed and signed into law by February 15th, according to W.W.W.E.

Call your State Representative and Senator:
 

  1. Ask them to co-sponsor the Photo I.D. Bill
  2. Urge leadership to schedule joint hearing of both the Senate and the Assembly to expedite the Photo Voter I.D. Bill
  3. Make it clear to your legislators that you want to have Photo Voter I.D. in place by April 5th, 2011
  4. Explain that other election reforms need to be proposed and passed as soon as possible, but it is important to implement Photo I.D. NOW!!!
     


I also caught a bit about this on Mark Belling today. He mentioned there will be public hearings on the measure next week. According to Belling, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (608) 266-2540, Rep.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov is in favor of expanding this bill beyond just Photo Voter I.D. The President of the Senate's position on expanding the scope of the bill wasn't known, but you could urge him to include banning same day registration and 3rd party registration. State Senate President Michael Ellis (608) 266-0718, Sen.Ellis@legis.wisconsin.gov


State Assembly:
Representative Dale Kooyenga, 14th Assembly District,
(608) 266-9180, Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wi.gov
Representative Paul Farrow, 98th Assembly District, (608) 266-5120 Rep.Farrow@legis.wi.gov

State Senate:
Senator Leah Vukmir, 5th Senate District,
(608) 266-2512 Sen.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Rich Zipperer, 33rd Senate District, (608) 266-9174 Sen.Zipperer@legis.wisconsin.gov

Governor Scott Walker (608) 266-1212 govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

We're Watching Wisconsin Elections Website
 

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It's National School Choice Week - Register for Jan. 27th and/or Jan. 31st events

Education, Elmbrook, Free, Special events, TAXES

Americans for Prosperity and National School Choice team up this week to bring you 2 National School Choice events in our area.

On Thursday, January 27th, from 6pm - 8pm, there will be a showing of "The Cartel", a movie that deals with the failure of public education--especially for minority students. It is free, but you must register. Wisconsin branch of the AFP, Fight Back Wisconsin website, states there will be a Town Hall Q&A connected with this movie showing too. Held at 1126 S. 70th Street, Suite S211, Milwaukee. (North of Greenfield Ave.) Call 414-476-7900 for more information.

The 2nd event is probably of more interest to those of us in the Elmbrook School District, since in general, parents are satisfied with our school system. This one is titled, The Education Revolution Tour: Restoring America's Exceptionalism. This Town Hall will be held from 7 - 8:30 pm on January 31st, at the Country Springs Hotel (2810 Golf Road) in Pewaukee. Call 414-476-7900 for more information. The meeting is FREE, but you need to register. (There is also a pre-Town Hall reception and photo op with Dick Morris and Vicki McKenna at 6pm, for a $59 registration fee.)

Why are they doing this? Because, as their literature and ads state, "American 15-year-olds rank 35th out of 57 countries in math and literacy, behind almost all industrialized nations!"

Never heard of National School Choice week? Don't feel badly. This is a new grassroots movement in our nation and this is the first of hopefully many more nationwide events of this kind.

The Heritage Foundation informs us that over 150 organizations nationwide are hosting events this week. "It’s a grassroots movement of national proportions to highlight the benefits of school choice and demand access to quality educational options. Speaker John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – among many others – are all “in” for National School Choice Week.

And it’s a movement whose time has come. Nationally, thousands of children are trapped in more than 1,700 public schools labeled as “dropout factories,” in which less than 60 percent of students graduate within four years. But even for those students not assigned to the worst government schools, academic achievement has stagnated over the years, graduation rates have flat lined, and American students are out-competed by their international counterparts."
 

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Creation Science Conference in Brookfield January 30th & 31st

Brookfield, Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Special events, Free, Religion

This Sunday, January 30th and Monday, January 31st, Answers in Genesis is holding a Creation Science Conference at Brookfield's Brookside Baptist Church (Located at 4470 N. Pilgrim Road, between Capitol Drive and Lisbon Road.)

The conference is free and open to the public. You may come to one, some, or all of the talks on Sunday and Monday night. (Note that Sunday's 8:30am and 10:45am topics are the same.) Monday's daytime talks are geared to school age children; Monday's evening topics are for the general public.

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