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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.

Weed Out at Mary Knoll Park this Saturday, May 17, 2014

Brookfield, Gardening, Special events, Nature

This year, rain or shine, the Weed Out at Mary Knoll Park in Brookfield will be held on Saturday, May 17th, from 9am to noon.  We may be having a slow spring, but the Garlic Mustard marches on!  In most places, it is already up and easy to identify--some of it is already blooming.

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Elm Grove business executive to explore evidence of a loving Creator, April 8, 2014

Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Education, Brookfield, Special events

Gerald Frye, President
of Benefit Services Group, Inc.    

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April 1, 2014 election picks: Ponto, Mellone, Liotta, Kratoska, & Vrana or Brunner?

City of Brookfield, Elections, Education, Elmbrook

Here are my spring election picks for Mayor, District 7 Alderman, and Elmbrook School Board with links to more in-depth postings, articles, websites and endorsements. (There are other races on my ballot, but they are uncontested.)  You may look up ward and preview your sample ballot at myvote.wi.gov  and find your Brookfield voting location here. Remember, the polls are open from 7am to 8pm. 

Mayor of Brookfield: Steve Ponto
It may feel like a moment of deja vu in Brookfield, but Steve Ponto and Jeff Speaker are again both on our April 2014 ballot. This time the tables are turned, however, with Ponto being the incumbent and Speaker the challenger.  Is Steve as conservative as I am? No, but I do believe he is the better choice. He brings an air of professionalism to the office, which is a welcome change from the Jeff Speaker aw shucks days of the past.
Ponto for Mayor
Ponto's campaign funding three times that of Speaker 

Alderman 7th District: Lisa Mellone
Lisa Mellone is a treasure. She has the perfect mix of brains, professionalism, grace, work ethic, and energy to do a top-notch job representing her district. Add Lisa's B.A. in Business Administration - Finance and post graduate Paralegal certificate and it is easy to see why she has a skill-set few possess. Her approach with development is particularly admirable. She meets with the neighborhoods and developers many times and manages to balance the wants and needs of each. This was not only true of the recent Underwood Crossing project (Target and Trader Joe's) but also the Moorland McDonald's, and Brookfield Marketplace (Pick 'n Save). 

Read through her endorsements from residents in our district and you will know why Lisa Mellone is the only choice. Here is mine: "Lisa Mellone has definitely raised the bar on what constituents expect from an alderman in District 7. She is dedicated to helping residents when they have  problems and to working with neighborhoods and developers to ensure optimal outcomes on new projects. Lisa works tirelessly for us all, and I am grateful she is willing to serve another term."
Better Brookfield: Lisa Mellone for Alderman 
7th District Aldermanic race: What a candidate doesn't say or do speaks volumes 
Come back, Lisa Mellone, District 7 needs you! 

Elmbrook School Board 
Elmbrook School Board election 2014: Liotta, Kratoska, and both Area I candidates-all against Common Core
Elmbrook candidates weigh 4K, Common Core programs 
Elmbrook candidates discuss board member roles, block scheduling at forum 
Common Core emerges as potent election issue for fed-up parents

Area III: Jeffrey Liotta
I really appreciate Jeff Liotta's strong opposition to Common Core, and I agree completely that teaching to the test is one outcome of adopting the standard. Standards do drive curriculum!  Jeff Liotta is a former Elmbrook graduate and School Board member, who served in the 1980s.
Elect Jeffrey J. Liotta Flyer
Endorsement letter for Jeffrey Liotta for Area III School Board 

At-Large: Write-in Jim Kratoska
Jim Kratoska states on his website, "We all have a stake in moderating or eliminating the effect of Common Core (CC) in the Elmbrook system. CC is as much about ideology as it is about education. Many of us have suffered through a variety of educational fads.  My first was ‘new math’, which like CC, taught an ambiguous, convoluted approach that could never be used on a tax form or purchase order; just like the cubes, squares, lines and dots of CC Math..." Please take the time to read through his webpage on Perspective on Education. Be sure to scroll down the entire page to the section of Here's why I am asking for your vote. It contains information on how Common Core standards are already being implemented in Elmbrook (without holding hearings.)

Jim has a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Physics, MS in Business Administration, MA in Philosophy, and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Electrical Engineering and Business Schools at UW-M. 

Jim Kratoska is a registered write-in candidate, which means in the uncontested Area I (correction) At-large race on your ballot, you must connect the arrow next to the write-in line and print in "Jim Kratoska" (Write his name down and take it to the polls or remember this acrostic one clever supporter sent me to help voters spell Kratoska: Kindly Remind All Taxpayers Of Spelling Kratoska At-Large 
Jim Kratoska Website  
Jim Kratoska Endorsement Letter 
Kratoska to run as write-in for Elmbrook at-large seat

Area I:  This still is a difficult choice for me. Young Zackary Vrana is running against incumbent Richard Brunner (senior citizen). Both are opposed to Common Core--Vrana adamantly so, which I like; Brunner it seems in general principle. But Vrana is also emphatically for 4K; Brunner again supports 4K in general principle. Vrana would offer a unique perspective on the board, in that he graduated from Brookfield East in 2012 and will graduate from Marquette in 2015.

Hope this was of some help to you. If I learn anything new, I will try to post it Monday night. 

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Elmbrook School Board election 2014: Liotta, Kratoska, and both Area 1 candidates--all against Common Core

Elections, Education, Elmbrook, Conservatives

When you vote on April 1 this election cycle, you have a choice in each of the Elmbrook School Board races. For the Area III and the At-Large race, whether you support Federal Common Core curriculum standards or not might be your deciding factor.

Common Core has been increasingly in the news. I believe it is not just the latest flavor of education reform but a new form of Federal government overreach.  Last month, the Germantown School District opposed adopting Common Core standards and instead, will set their own, higher ones.

Here in the Elmbrook School District, in the Area III race, Jeff Liotta is challenging incumbent Tom Gehl. This is what each stated at the Candidate Forum: (Emphasis mine)

           Liotta: "Quite frankly, I look at the big picture. I reject the philosophy that is behind the Common Core. I think local boards of education are better suited to determine the standard for their individual communities, and I disagree with the concept that curriculum is separate from standards. I guarantee you that if testing is involved (with Common Core standards), it's going to drive the curriculum and staff, despite what we say, will teach to the test. Elmbrook has a 50-year history of excellence in education. We've done it right. Why would we abdicate our right and authority to determine our destiny and to determine the standards that we want our students to achieve?"

          Gehl: " In Elmbrook, this community and this board has demonstrated our commitment to local control and will maintain that commitment. I believe there have been many good things happening the last two years with our curriculum and content than ever before in our district. The Common Core standards focus on skills...and can be used as a reference. They do not prescribe or demand particular content — that will be determined by the local board and administration — but in many areas, they represent a higher bar than what was in place before."

Area III seat: I am voting for Jeff Liotta.  I really appreciate Liotta's strong opposition to Common Core, and I agree completely that teaching to the test is one outcome of adopting the standard. Standards do drive curriculum!  Jeff Liotta is a former Elmbrook graduate and School Board member, who served in the 1980s. For more information, contact Jeff at jliotta3@wi.rr.com  View Flyer

In the At-Large race, Write-in Jim Kratoska will challenge incumbent Kathryn Wilson, who is unopposed on the ballot. Read through his webpage on Current Issues:

          Kratoska: "My principle objection is with the ‘common’ part of the core.  Synonyms for common include ordinary, commonplace, and regular.  Elmbrook district residents expect a much higher level of education.
"CC is as much about ideology as it is about education. Many of us have suffered through a variety of educational fads.  My first was ‘new math’, which like CC, taught an ambiguous, convoluted approach that could never be used on a tax form or purchase order; just like the cubes, squares, lines and dots of CC Math...

"...Two members of the original CC standards review board, stated before the Wisconsin legislature, that the CC standards would set the average student back 2 years by the time they finished high school."

          Wilson"I do support Common Core implementation. There's a lot of misinformation out there about the Common Core standards. The standards are very simple, high-level aspirations. They are plain, college preparatory, liberal arts, achievement-oriented goals. I really don't see how anyone could argue with these standards as they are. That said, school boards get to decide what is taught, how it is taught and what curriculum is used as part of that teaching. We're certainly not limited in anyway by the Common Core standards of what we do with those standards." (Quote from Forum)

While I realize Common Core is the standard, and it is the curriculum that is the bigger problem (often written with a humanist, liberal slant), I still do not believe any Federal program is benign.

Ask yourself, what Federal program has not grown in size and scope to exceed its original grasp? (As I am still working on my income taxes, I can't help but think how that has ballooned into something completely unmanageable! Social Security is another Federal program that initially had a more limited scope. Today, it has expanded to cover far more recipients than just retirees.) I want less Federal intrusion into my life, not more.  

At-Large choice: I will be writing in Jim Kratoska (Write his name down and take it to the polls.) He has an BS in Applied Mathematics and Physics, MS in Business Administration, MA in Philosophy, and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Electrical Engineering and Business Schools at UW-M. Visit his website

The Area I seat is a difficult choice for me. Young Zackary Vrana is running against incumbent Richard Brunner (senior citizen). Both are opposed to Common Core--Vrana adamantly so, Brunner it seems in general principle. Again, look at the Forum answers:

          Vrana "I don't believe the Common Core was written for Elmbrook. We are not a district that strives to meet minimum standards. We should be leading and setting the bar for excellence in the state. My issues with the way we've implemented Common Core are the choices we made with the curriculum, such as taking Speech out of the required English curriculum. I think that's a great disservice to our students. Common Core is great to ensure districts meet the minimums, but we should be providing the best education for our students."

          Brunner:  "I've read a number of Common Core analyses in the last several weeks...and every time I read one, I think I change my mind. As far as Elmbrook is concerned, I do not believe we need to implement this program. I understand we do already have it, but I don't think it's necessary for the school district. I think we can (set standards) very well on our own."

I believe Vrana is spot-on here with Common Core; Brunner is less emphatic.

But their stance on 4K makes me lean to Brunner over Vrana, Vrana cheer-leading for 4K--even calling it day care, which it is; Brunner is just supportive.

          Vrana: "I absolutely support a 4K program. I believe district parents need day care for their 4-year-old children, and it is time for us to provide for that...."

          Brunner: "I think the district could benefit from a 4K program. We would, in effect, have a complete school system where the kids could start at four years old and go on through to high school. It's an incentive for people to move into the city ..."

So, Area I is a tossup for me... at least for now.

Brookfield and Elm Grove go to the polls on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.  You can find your ward and preview a sample ballot at myvote.wi.gov  All Elmbrook School District voters vote for all of the School Board candidates, regardless of what area of the district you live in.

I will be posting a final election pick post on Sunday or Monday.


In the news:  Elmbrook candidates weigh 4K, Common Core programs

Elmbrook candidates discuss board member roles, block scheduling at forum

Germantown School Board opposes adoption of Common Core standards 

Germantown sets higher standards than Common Core

Flyers, Websites, and Letters of Endorsement:  

Jim Kratoska Endorsement Letter

Jim Kratoska Website

Jeff Liotta Flyer 

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7th District Aldermanic race: What a candidate doesn't say or do speaks volumes

City of Brookfield, Elections

Can you spot what is wrong with this picture? Answer below

Two term Alderman Lisa Mellone is up for reelection this spring, and I am enthusiastically casting my ballot for her on April 1st. She is an exemplary Alderman. Surprisingly, she has an opponent this year--and not District 7's usual challenger.
 
This year, Kris Seals from the northeast corner of our district threw his hat in the ring. But what do we know about him?  Not much.
 
There was the Brookfieldnow article, but that didn't really tell me much about the man. The article didn't mention anything about higher education, such as a Bachelors or Associate degree. Nothing about whether he was single, married, or had a family was referenced, just that he lived here since 1969. The article did state he had worked with the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce in the past but was now with the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce.
 
The reporter did state that Lisa Mellone was a litigation paralegal at Ratzel and Associates (located in Brookfield) but failed to mention that in addition to obtaining her Post Graduate Paralegal Certificate, she also had a B.A. in Business Administration - Finance from UWM.
 
Development is a very important issue to Lisa Mellone, because she was once unpleasantly surprised by an unannounced project right in her backyard. (This is why she takes the time to meet with neighborhoods and developers many, many times during the development approval process.)
 
In the article, she voices her concern over a future project area, "Looking ahead, Mellone said, those representing the district will have to keep a close eye on development, with one in particular coming up. Briscoe Development and Management is proposing a 13,000-square-foot retail center at Moorland Road and Hackberry Lane, the site of a former city fire station."
 
I mention this section on development from the article because when I received Kris Seals' flyer this week, portions of it were oddly familiar.
 
First of all, he again tells us nothing about himself personally--nothing about family, education, civic involvement in Brookfield, not even his address. Then I noticed he had several sentences in quotes that were his own. He quotes himself in his own flyer! Actually, they were lifted in part from the Brookfieldnow article. (I don't know why he used quotes, since they were his own words.) But that isn't the only thing he lifted.
 
Refer the above section on development (in bold above) from the article. And then read what he wrote in his flyer. (The words from the article are in bold) : "Representing the district  I  will have to keep a close eye on development, with one in particular coming up. Briscoe Development and Management is proposing a 13,000 square foot retail center at Moorland Road and Hackberry Lane, the site of a former city fire station."  Sound familiar? 
 
He lifted the paragraph from the article, eliminated the words, "Looking ahead, Mellone said, those" and started his own paragraph with "Representing the district" and added " I ", as if these were his thoughts.
 
By stating, "Representing the district", his re-crafting of this section also makes it seem as if he already is our alderman.  He repeats that theme with his invitation to contact him with concerns in his closing, "I am here to serve the 7th district and its fine citizens." and gives a phone number and email address. He did not state, if I am elected, but rather as if he is already on the job.

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