One look at the crowded parking lots affirmed my suspicions: Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner's Town Hall meeting was going to be packed!
The meeting was in Elm Grove's Village Hall courtroom. About 175 people packed the room with about another 75 out in the hallway. Prior to the meeting, one woman summed up the sentiment in the room when she greeted a friend in the audience, "I've never been to one of these before, but I'm so mad!"
The colossal 1,990 page bill was sitting on the judges bench. Congressman Sensenbrenner posted the bill on his website, if you need a little light reading. State Representative Leah Vukmir was also present, but since ObamaCare (my term throughout for government health insurance reform) is a Federal issue, most of the questions were directed to Congressman Sensenbrenner.
To aid you in viewing the subject matter, the question - Q: - or concern will be stated first, the response - A: - after. Subjects are in bold.
Q: Government control: Nearly all of the attendees who spoke, were against ObamaCare in any shape or form. The first question cut to the heart of the issue, This isn't about health care, it's about controlling our lives. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, the vast majority agreed with her statement.
A: Congressman Sensenbrenner pointed out that ObamaCare doesn't train 1 more doctor, 1 more nurse or build 1 more hospital, yet it is to cover millions more Americans. [How many more? 36 million is often referenced.] When you put all these new people in the system, we are going to have delays. I hate to use the word rationing, but we are going to end up having delays and [some government board] will decide, this person's problem is worse than this person's, Sensenbrenner explained.
Q: We're broke! Question 3 was puzzling. A woman, who was quick to point out she was an independent, chided Sensenbrenner and the audience, I'm angry at all people who think the government must pay for them. We're out of money! In other words, she was yelling at us for wanting ObamaCare!
A: Sensenbrenner replied, With all due respect, we [Republicans] all voted against the stimulus, etc....then added that the President said he will not sign a bill that adds "1 cent to the deficit". [The audience laughed.] We should not be spending money on ourselves and sending the bill to our grand and great grandchildren.
Q: What can we do to stop this?
A: Sensenbrenner: Contact your Senators and remember who votes which way 1 year from now! Good advice. Calls do influence.
Q: Republicans shut out? Is it true that Republicans aren't allowed into meetings?
A: Our bill was written in Democratic Caucus. [Yes] I will give Baucus some credit, he welcomed 3 Senate Republicans in committee [Olympia Snowe was one of them] BUT since it got out of committee, Reid re-wrote the bill. Snowe doesn't support the government run [insurance option] now in the bill.
All new private insurance company policies illegal after 2013: Sensenbrenner affirmed what we have all heard, but the president, senate, and house leaders have denied: The bill does make it illegal for anyone to sell private insurance after [ObamaCare] takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013! He then gave the example of an employer who opts out of providing group insurance to their employees after the January 1st deadline. They might do this because they can choose to pay the 8% penalty instead of the average 15% of payroll costs. Opting for the penalty saves them money. Now you, the employee, have no choice but to sign onto the government run option because it is now illegal for private insurance companies to write policies.
This private insurance policy prohibition also carries over to Supplemental Medicare plans. Not to be confused with Medicare Advantage, these are the plans that seniors purchase--at a monthly premium--to pay for the remainder of health care expenses that Medicare doesn't cover. So Supplemental Medicare policies will also be outlawed under ObamaCare.
Medicare Advantage, the privately run voluntary Medicare plan, will also suffer under ObamaCare. In Sensenbrenner's district alone, about 25,000 of those enrolled now, will lose their coverage.
Q: Constitution: What provisions in the Constitution are there to order an individual to buy a product they don't want? (Applause)
A: They say the Commerce Clause, "necessary and proper" will be used. [Sensenbrenner didn't believe this was a proper application for that clause. The Constitution's Commerce Clause deals with the activity of commerce or regulating interstate or international commerce, not mandating or regulating activities.]
Q: Hardship for small business: A small business owner expressed concern that by being forced to pay an 8% penalty because he didn't provide insurance for his workers, he would either have to drop employees, vacation days, or other benefits to pay for the new 8% penalty.
A: Sensenbrenner agreed the insurance requirement/penalty would be a hardship. One half of all jobs in the country are from small businesses...raising taxes is already a job killer, in a recession it's even more... the last guy who raised taxes during a recession was Herbert Hoover!
Q: How many unelected bureaucrats will this bill require?
A: The CBO doesn't talk about how many will need to be hired, but you don't administer a new program without people to do it. One recent program was Cash for Clunkers. It ran out of money early on, auto dealers weren't paid [on time]. ...IF we couldn't deal with a $2 billion clunker program, how will we with a $900 billion one for health care? [House Republicans have found 111 New Bureaucracies in the Health Care bill.]
Q: Voter Fraud: Our president took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. What can we do to relive this man of his office? ...Joe Wilson was right. [...crowd affirmation of President being less than truthful.] We don't have free elections anymore. How do we go about stopping voter fraud?
A: By showing a picture ID, Sensenbrenner said. [Crowd affirmation] Since this is a state issue, Rep. Leah Vukmir was able to address how Wisconsin had a chance to finally get a Voter ID referendum question on the ballot last spring, but a certain Senator voted against bringing it to the ballot. [State Senator Jim Sullivan was one of 2 who voted to defeat the measure last year, if memory serves correctly]
Q: ObamaCare and organ transplants: One woman was for ObamaCare because she was involved with [advocating] raising money for transplant patients. [I can't see the government program, which must delay and ration care to make it fiscally viable, will be handing out organ transplants.] Is there anything you see in ObamCare that is positive?
A: If they don't allow amendments, we can't make it better. If Sensenbrenner could, he would get rid of pre-exisiting conditions, allow shopping across state lines, offer group plan rates for small businesses, use vouchers for health insurance for the poor, add medical liability reform, use health savings accounts, equalize the tax treatments for employer and private purchaser plans. He then added, I don't know what will happen with organ transplants because Pelosi's bill will have government boards making this decision vs. doctors.
Q: Doctors paid only 20% of fees: A doctor from Elmbrook Hospital: The bill is said to be backed by the AMA, I haven't belonged to the AMA for years. This bill is strictly a vehicle to control the Dr./Patient relationship. It is a single payer option. I lose 80% of income under Medicare. [Who will want to invest in becoming a doctor to only be paid 20%?] It is a misnomer that doctors get reimbursed 80% under Medicare, It's NOT TRUE.
Other questions dealt with the crushing debt level, Amnesty bill, concern over the Copenhagen Treaty, ACORN funding [still unfunded until Dec. 19th], The Fairness Doctrine, and abolishing the Federal Reserve.
There is a lot of talk about abolishing the Federal Reserve, but Sensenbrenner was quick to point out that if that were the case, monetary control would revert to the Congress! The cure would be worse than the ill, he said. Sensenbrenner does favor the audit of the Federal Reserve.
One bit of excitement was a woman fainted in the back of the courtroom. Is there a doctor in the house? A nurse friend of mine, who happened to be in the audience, promptly attended to her needs. The Elm Grove police were also of service. I believe the woman was fine.
There was a little discussion of Cap and Trade, or Cap and Tax, as Sensenbrenner likes to characterize it, and our massive deficit leading to inflation, the tax increase no politician has to vote for but every politician can run against.
2 protesters: There were 2 young men there with protest signs, Health Insurance Reform Now [signs were loosely folded, not held up], in the back of the room. They left the courtroom before the meeting officially started. Another older man stated his support for ObamaCare.
The meeting ended at about 2:30pm. The remaining portion of time was devoted to specific problems with government agencies. Representative Leah Vukmir and Congressman Sensenbrenner stayed to assist their constituents.
Congressman Sensenbrenner was on the Jay Weber radio show on Monday. He mentioned many of the same points he made at Saturday's Town Hall meeting. Program highlights.
The Pelosi version of ObamaCare, as well as the Reid Senate bill, both cover taxpayer funded abortion and insurance for illegal aliens. House Republicans have proposed many health care reforms, but they do not receive media or house floor attention. House Republicans are expected to unanimously vote against The Worst Bill Ever this week.
Will the Democrat Blue Dogs join in the nay saying? Time will tell.
Writing for a Brookfield publication from Japan can be tricky. At times I feel I have a million things to say at once, but admittedly more often I find myself scouring the internet for stories of interest I might be able to comment on. So it was that I found out about Nora Collins while sitting at work today.
For those who prefer not to click above and find out, Nora Collins is a 15-year-old sophomore at Brookfield East and an aspiring country musician. I know this because I've just spent the last 20 minutes on her website. She began playing music and writing songs in 2008 as an exercise in what she described as "summer boredom," and just over a year later she has an album of original songs released and a shot to win studio time and a private showcase with A&R executives at Valory Music in Nashville via CMT's Music City Madness competition. Presumably, she also attends class for seven hours a day, five days a week.
This fall at St. John Vianney, the sixth, seventh and eighth grades were combined to form the middle school. Middle school teachers now instruct in one subject area. The religion teacher, Mrs. Fischer, has introduced a new part of the curriculum which requires the students to perform community service. Her goal is to inspire a student to act for others, not oneself; in doing this, the students reflect the teaching that Christ’s love is demonstrated through service to others.
The students have been given suggestions to help them find service projects that suit them. Mrs. Fischer explained, “Many of the children are obtaining service hours right within the building. They have taken ownership of lunch room tasks such as wiping down tables and seats, monitoring disposal of waste and stacking of cafeteria trays, cleaning the floors. Students are cadets in the morning to assist in the supervision of children during the gathering time outside for the Pledge of Allegiance. The children lead us in prayer in the morning. They also deliver mail at the end of the day.”
The eighth graders are encouraged to find projects outside of SJV. “They are getting involved in the St. Ben's meal program and other volunteer service organizations in the Greater Milwaukee area,” said Mrs. Fischer. The students will turn in a service log at the end of each quarter and have a reflection in class.
Olivia Volkert, a seventh grader at SJV, spent five hours last Sunday morning volunteering at the annual SJV Justice Market. She assisted selling items from Ecuador to benefit the Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador. Through doing this, she learned more about what the Working Boys’ Center is and what is does for the people of Quito. “I thought it was a lot of fun. I wish I could go volunteer there [at the Working Boys’ Center] but you have to be 18. I will definitely go there in high school,” she said. Volunteering made Olivia feel “mature, helpful, nice and warmhearted.”
Olivia has exceeded her required hours by far, but plans to continue looking for volunteer opportunities. The experiences have shown her that she has a lot to give and by giving, the receiving is incredible. Olivia commented, “It is important for us to volunteer because it shows that you have to help others and not be selfish.” She is happy about the new volunteer requirement, but thinks it should call for more hours.
Mrs. Fischer feels the students are learning that service is recognizing need. She hopes to build the community element of the program. If any SJV parish members have opportunities, they can contact her at the school.
This is a blog I never thought would be necessary when I first started. I am certain that this is not a one time snafu for me and the other bloggers who all work hard to create interesting and sometimes provocative commentaries. We all expect to be taken to task , criticized and even be met by an angry comment.
But any person who by proxy uses foul language and writes jokes and puns that violate the moral standards of decency should not be allowed to comment. But, we bloggers no longer have control over the comments and they go in except for reporting abuse which does not always result in a sanction.
Wisconsin's State Assembly will vote on bill AB 458 today, Thursday, Nov. 5th. This bill would seriously alter Wisconsin's current human growth and development (sex education) statutes. If passed, AB458 would remove local school board's control over how sex ed is taught in each district.
Assembly Republicans were able to temporarily block the vote on Tuesday, but it will come to the floor today, the last day the Assembly meets for the year.
Considering the countless hours Elmbrook's Human Growth & Development curriculum committee spent on evaluating our proposed HG&D program, the state usurping our and other school board's local control, disregards the sacrifice of time and talent these committees invested in their programs. The bill disregards the right of local boards to make decisions for their districts.
I urge you to call your State Representative and tell them to vote NO on AB 458. My Rep. is Leah Vukmir 608-266-9180. Rep. Rich Zipperer 608-266-5120 represents the west side of Brookfield. (Even though the Republicans are against this legislation, I still call to voice my support for their position.)
What is so bad about the bill? Senator Glenn Grothman explained on Jay Weber's radio program Wed. morning how AB 458 would change HG&D instruction in Wisconsin (should it pass) Here are my notes:
- We would have to do [teach] it in a way that doesn't create any bias against those sexually active.
- It would ban abstinence centered and abstinence only teaching like Thiensville['s program.]
- This would force districts to allow Planned Parenthood into the classroom for condom demonstrations, starting at age 12.
- It would normalize teen sex, which is illegal according to state law for children under age 16.
Sen. Grothman mentioned that the Assembly Republicans tried to get an amendment to "provide instruction in marriage and parental responsibility," included in the bill, but that provision was rejected by the Democrats. (That language is currently in the state statutes.)
Pro-Life Wisconsin's Monday Update outlined more specifically what AB 458 would do.
Living as one of a handful of foreigners in a rural town in Japan has its drawbacks. For one, elderly people and young children often don’t know how to react upon seeing you as you may well be one of the only non-Japanese people they have ever seen in their lives. In this same way, people often have a hard time telling you apart from the other foreigners, celebrities included, that they have encountered – indeed, I am still called by my predecessor’s name at least twice a week at school, and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, by his predecessor’s name. Also, people speak a strange language called Japanese. Go figure.
All of these things make for interesting stories and can be written off as “coming with the territory,” but there’s still certain things that I encounter in my daily life that don’t rub off so easily. Take this swine flu thing, for instance.
Now I realize that the current strain of flu going around is to be taken seriously. Any kind of flu (or “in-fu-ru-en-za” as my co-workers call it) that can spread so easily is potentially dangerous to a good number of people, and certainly given what happened here with the avian flu in 2004, people have reason to be on guard. Again, no surprise there. However, the Japanese are CRAZY about swine flu.
The following, I have learned, are factual statements regarding the H1N1 flu:
- wearing surgical masks in public is the most effective way to stop the spread of swine flu
- any public workers returning from overseas travel should be quarantined in their homes for no less than seven days to avoid giving others the disease they most likely contracted during their travels
- all swine flu comes from foreigners arriving to, and/or living in, Japan
And it’s that last point that gives me pause. Next month, the foreign English teachers of Tokushima will visit orphanages all over the prefecture as part of an annual gift-giving and activities Christmas event. It’s a wonderful occasion that both the teachers and the children look forward to, and this year the event (or at least one location) has been canceled due to swine flu concerns. Fair enough, except that the concern is that the foreign teachers will infect the Japanese children with a disease no one is known to have. Additionally, a Mexican food cooking class was canceled at a local school last spring because the class was to be cooking, well, Mexican food. Talk about stranger danger.
Irrational fear is one thing, but a complete misunderstanding of the facts is quite another.
So what does all this whining mean for my position here? Realistically, not much. It would be arrogant to assume that my role is somehow to “correct” Japanese attitudes or to induce shame due to ignorance. I am concerned, however, about these attitudes being passed on to the students who may never have a chance to form their own opinions.
My granddaughter, Allison 13, is a member of the Milwaukee Children's Choir thanks to her parents who drive her to rehearsals and concerts, one being at the local Wilson Center. Known as a premier children's choir with different age groups the children experience life skills and teamwork not otherwise available to them.
In a salute to our armed forces the choir sang a special rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and I have seen them perform pop, multi-language, traditional and other music not heard elsewhere.
This is an updated version of an article I first posted on May 18, 2008. In the coming week I plan to post several more articles on speed signs, engineering traffic counting tools, the police SMART radar trailer and the proposed new radar speed signs. It's an important issue for all of us and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes an issue in the upcoming election.
You've never been shy about posting your comments, but please try to keep them on topic. If you wish to discuss something else with me, please send it to my email at: email@example.com and I will reply as soon as I can. If you prefer to remain anonymous, use the comment box on my web site home page at: www.scottberg.com
Remember the fall of the wall in 1989? It was like a dream come true to those like me who recall it's construction and lived through the height of the Soviet Union's power.
Fast-forward 20 years and today we celebrate the anniversary of that momentous day. But when I compare the state of our country in 1989 to the U.S.A. of today, it saddens me.
Our House of Representatives just passed the most expensive and oppressive health care reform bill AGAINST the wishes of the majority of Americans.
Ordinary citizens have risen up in unprecedented numbers for Tea Party rallies, Town Hall meetings and an impromptu' House Call press conference on the stairs of the nation's Capitol, all to no avail. Turning a deaf ear, 220 Representatives ignored their constituents' wishes and voted for it.
The house bill includes what I believe are unconstitutional mandates for insurance purchase and a hefty $25,000 fine and/or up to 5 year imprisonment for noncompliance. So much for America being called the Land of the Free.
I don't know which saddens me more: the fact that our president didn't think the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall was important enough to merit his time? Or that if he would have gone, any commentary from him about New Berliners being freed from oppression would ring hollow, considering his own socialist agenda.
Sunday's news, Health Bill Passes House, sickened me, especially because the vote was so close. Although there was little hope that the Pelosi version of ObamaCare would fail, if ever there was a week that might give a House Democrat pause to rubber stamping Pelosi's ObamaCare legislation, you would think the recent turn of events would do it.
For Democrats, last week was not a good one:
- Tuesday's Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey
- The expose' of falsely reported stimulus jobs
- Congressmen and Senators challenging ObamaCare's Constitutionality
- Rep. Michelle Bachmann's impromptu "House Call on Washington" rally on the Capitol steps attracted about 20,000 citizens
- October's 10.2% unemployment numbers (highest percentage since 1983)
- President Obama's flip response to the Ft. Hood murders (Video).
We often compare the slow creep toward controversial positions to a frog being boiled in a pot of water: The water heats so slowly, the frog fails to notice he is in danger, the frog doesn't jump out to safety.
It's a movement you're unlikely to read about in the House's latest health care bill (a topic I wouldn't touch here with a ten foot pole), but for my money the most enjoyable story in global health this month is the return of Movember.
For the second time in three years, I will be joining men around the world this month in growing a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues - specifically, prostate and testicular cancer. Movember ("mo" from moustache, "vember" from...you get the idea) began in 2003 with a group of about 30 men in Melbourne, Australia who thought it would be funny to grow moustaches while raising money for a good cause. In six short years, it has exploded into a global movement with nearly 200,000 participants. This year, funds raised in the US will benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation as well as the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Shortly before Memorial Day, my father, a WW2 Veteran, died. He was 90 years old and even though declining health had taken its toll since his stroke, he still held his Marine Corps days with high regard.
In planning his funeral, we were asked if we wanted military honors. Knowing how Dad valued his Marine Corps service, we said, yes.
At the internment, 9 senior veterans from the Badger Detachment of the Marine Corps League and 3 young Marines performed the honors.
First there was the 3-volley salute. Eight of the 9 Marine Vets raised their rifles and fired 3 rounds,* while the 3 active duty Marines stood at a distance facing the casket.
After the 8 gun salute, the 3 Marines approached and commenced with their ceremony.
The bugle player paced to the left and played Taps while the remaining 2 soldiers gave a final, white gloved salute.
The 2 remaining Marines then removed the flag from the casket and performed the flag folding ritual.
It was a solemn ceremony, and as the soldiers carefully folded the flag until only a triangle with stars** in the field of blue remained, the quiet time allowed each of us an opportunity to contemplate a life well lived.
When the young Marine came forward to present me with the flag, my eyes welled up with tears. I thought of this young man, and how my dad was once a young man just like him. They both had hopes and dreams. They both enlisted to serve, and possibly die for their country. I also thought of my neighbor, whose 2 sons had enlisted in the Marine Corps since 9/11. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for their service.
The young Marine handed me the flag with great solemnity and these traditional words: "On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and Corps." I managed to whisper, Thank you.
Our Pastor finished the internment service with some scripture, a few words, and prayer. It wasn't a sad occasion but a celebration of a life lived well. Because of our faith, it was a celebration of the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
Dad was always proud to have served as a Marine. It stayed with him until the end. They call these ceremonies, Military Honors. I can only say that it was truly an honor to witness these activities.
Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our country and for the final salute.
My Dear Foodies,
To tempt your taste buds, it is my honor to share with you an upcoming addition to my dinner menu at IL MITO ENOTECA - the Italian answer to a Cheese Tart with Chef Feker’s unique twist — a ricotta cheese quiche with prosciutto, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and Parmigiano.
Join me at your home away from home, on Saturday, November 14 to be one of the first to taste my new culinary creations AND help in celebrating 3 years of passion building and soul feeding at IL MITO (located at 6913 W. North Ave in Wauwatosa... to make a reservation today, call us at 414-443-1414)!
•2 cups all purpose flour
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
•6 egg yolks
•1/4 cup cold water
•1/4 pound sweet butter
•1/2 pound fresh sheep milk ricotta cheese
•1/4 pound prosciutto, sliced, coarsely chopped
•1/2 pound genoa salami, sliced, chopped
•4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
•1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, diced, 1/4-inch pieces
•1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
•10-inch springform pan
Go tell the Spartans, those that passeth by.
That here - obedient to their laws; we lie.
The City of Brookfield is voting on the proposed 2010 budget tonight. There is a short public hearing segment on the budget at the beginning of that meeting. This is your chance to voice a concern. The Hearing/Council Meeting will begin at 7:45pm, in Common Council Chambers at Brookfield's City Hall. Agenda/Alderman Packet (Thanks Fairly Conservative)
There are certain city services most of us would agree are necessities, regardless of cost. You know, police and fire protection, keeping roads in good condition, maintaining city utilities, etc.
As for the niceties, things like bike paths, sidewalks on one or both sides of the street, boulevard plantings, faux painted retaining walls, etc., one change I would love to see is that a price tag be attached to these unnecessary expenditures. Price tag being defined as the total cost and cost per average household for initial expenditure and yearly maintenance.
It is very easy to say, yes, I like having the boulevards planted with grass, trees and flowers, or faux field stone retaining walls, or paved sidewalks/bike paths. But what are the yearly costs associated with maintaining the plantings? How about the faux painted retaining walls? How much does path snow plowing cost?
I know this is small potatoes, but as we see these types boulevard plantings becoming more commonplace, know that the cost is not just for the initial installation, but in the maintaining. Ongoing nicety maintenance payroll costs are a concern to me.
In times of plenty, maybe we can afford these niceties. But in a troubled economy, where people are unemployed or underemployed, any increase in their property tax bill is a hardship. Commercial property owners also have a tough time paying their taxes in bad times. When the mall owner has vacancies, they can become delinquent taxpayers.
Creating labor intensive niceties is creating a larger dragon as they say, and that dragon must be fed in the lean times too.
We can play all sorts of bookkeeping magic to make the 2010 budget (bottom pp4) look like it is less than last year's, but the bottom line for me is, are my property taxes going up this year as compared to last year's bill?
2010 Proposed Budget
Summary of City fund budgets
Tax Levies and Rates
General operating fund budget summary
Finance Committee Amendments
Mayor's budget calls for 2.4% rise in levy