September 12, 2013
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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.
Fridays now through September 27 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: "Shooting Stars" will reveal the mystery behind the dazzling light streaks that shoot across the night sky. This show will explain what shooting stars or meteors really are and talk about the fireball that crashed into Russian soil last February. Guests will be able to learn how and when to see shooting stars. CLICK HERE for more information.
UWM Planetarium (MAP)
1900 East Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Description: The party lasts all month at Old Heidelberg Park. Grab your stein and head over for music, dancing, and great food. There is a big selection of German beers, games for the kids, and parking is free. Do not miss Milwaukee's original and most authentic Oktoberfest. In fact it is one of the best in the country. This event is open on Fridays from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 p.m. until Midnight. CLICK HERE for more information.
Heidelberg Park (MAP)
700 W. Lexington Blvd. Glendale, Wisconsin 53217
Description: The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and Saz's Hospitality Group will be hosting a two-day Oktoberfest celebration on Marcus Center grounds. This event is free and open to the public. It features authentic German beer, food, live music, and the Glockenspiel, a life-size replica of a cuckoo clock. Delectable food and drink will be available for purchase from Saz's Hospitality Group, which will feature a full bar and a concessions menu, including Saz�s Friday night Fish Fry and a Saturday Spanferkel (pig roast). The grounds will be open on Friday, September 20 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, September 21 from Noon to 10 p.m. CLICK HERE for more information, including the line-up of performers.
Marcus Center for the
Performing Arts (MAP)
10th Annual Bay
Date: Sat., September 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Stroll an illuminated path along the beach of beautiful Lake Michigan.
Gaze at the stars with stargazer Greg Gonia and his telescopes. S'mores
will be available for purchase at the campfire. This event is sponsored
by the Friends of the Mill Pond & Oak Creek Watercourse, Inc.
Grant Park Beach (MAP)
100 E. Hawthorne
This week, we take time out to remember the tragedy that befell our nation 12 years ago on September 11. Continue reading for more information about this and other important issues including the $500,000 sporting grant revocation, Making College Affordable Tour, and release of premium estimates on the health care exchange.
|Continuing to Remember 9/11|
This week, our nation recognized the
12-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On Wednesday morning,
I attended a 9/11 remembrance ceremony along with the mayor, county
executive, veterans, and many other dignitaries in the Veterans
Courtyard. We should all take a
moment to remember the lives lost and also recall the days afterward and
how our country stood united in our resolve to not be intimidated
by these acts of destruction and cowardice.
I was a student at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee then, and remember hearing the news from a friend
when I arrived to campus that morning. Like so many across our nation,
we watched in horror as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
Our nation is still in the process of rebuilding the landmark World Trade Center buildings that lay in ruins 11 years ago. The project aims to combine modern, safe, and sustainable commercial space, convenient transportation, and a destination cultural center. The National September 11 Memorial Museum will also be housed in the World Trade Center bearing solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. The Museum will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. It will further recognize the thousands who survived and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath. The museum is expected to open in 2014 prior to the next 9/11 anniversary.
$500,000 Sweetheart Deal Revoked
When legislators serving on the Joint
Committee on Finance unanimously supported a provision in the 2013-2015
Budget that would create a $500,000 biennial sporting heritage grant
they thought they were supporting Wisconsin's valued hunting and angling
tradition. Little did they know that this carefully drawn provision was
written in such a way that only one group would be able to apply. It just so
happens that this one group, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation
Inc., has ties to the Republican Assembly Majority Leader, who has since
left office to take a political appointment. These recent revelations
have left the public and legislators upset that this great opportunity
for sporting groups now has the appearance of being nothing more than a
sweetheart deal for a political supporter.
purpose of the grant was to provide funds to a conservation or sporting
group allowing them to reach out to Wisconsin's youth to increase their
interest in hunting and angling. Unfortunately, the language prevented
most established groups, such as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation,
Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Rocky Mountain
Elk Foundation, from applying for the grant. This left only United
Sportsmen able to apply with zero competition.
Although after closer examination, it appears that even the sole qualifying sporting group, may not have qualified after all. In fact, here are some of the problems with the group awarded the grant that have since become public:
Fortunately, the concerns of
taxpayers, legislators, and other sporting groups were heeded when the
governor surrendered to public pressure and canceled the controversial
grant to United Sportsmen. This action was followed up with a letter
from the Department of Natural Resources informing the group of their
cancelled grant. We have yet to hear what will happen to the $500,000 in
taxpayer dollars following the cancellation. It is my hope that the
grant process will be reopened and modified in light of recent events. I
will be sure to keep you updated on this important issue.
Health Care Premium Numbers...Cooked?
A recently released study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has found that premium prices for the Health Insurance Marketplace are coming in below initial estimates, which is a positive and reassuring sign for consumers. The study looked at 17 states and the District of Columbia and found that 15 of these 18 regions had average premium prices below what was previously projected. This is also leading most to assume that the remaining states, which have yet to provide their premium numbers, will likely follow suit offering more affordable options than predicted, and in-turn prove the "rate shock" political scare tactic to be invalid.
While Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was poised to release its rates around the same time as these other states, they unnecessarily delayed the release by weeks. This has left Wisconsinites, including myself, concerned that the governor--who has been outspoken in his opposition of the Affordable Care Act even rejecting federal dollars to create jobs and cover thousands--and his OCI appointees delayed the release of important information in order to work on manipulating the numbers to scare people into thinking that their rates will go up.
In fact, the numbers they released did
just that. These cooked up numbers showed an average premium increase in
eight large cities for certain populations. However, what the governor
and OCI are forgetting to tell you is that these estimates are based on
the current individual insurance market, which only makes up 3%of the
total insurance market in Wisconsin. It differs greatly from the makeup
of the pool of individuals who will be covered by the exchange. These
rates also have no relationship to the actual rates insurers will charge
for plans on the exchange. Further, these rates do not take into account
federal subsidies, which will reduce rates for as many as half of those
buying insurance online. Through the new Health Insurance Marketplace,
everyone who is uninsured in Wisconsin, currently 10% of the population,
will be provided access to quality affordable coverage, rather than just
those healthy enough to be considered a good risk for insurance
Visiting a College Near You
With university and colleges resuming
classes, my colleagues and I thought it would be the perfect time to
visit various higher education institutions this September to discuss
important issues facing Wisconsin's next generation of workers. This
will include addressing the cost of higher education, access to
affordable health care, and Wisconsin's prospects for economic recovery.
We want to hear from students, parents, recent graduates, and educators
as they have been affected most by the astronomical costs of higher
I have already visited the UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee campuses. Details for remaining events that are a part of the Making College Affordable Tour are provided below. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding these events.
September 16 at 12:30 p.m.
UW-Marathon County Terrace Room
518 S. 7th Avenue
Wausau, WI 54401
UW-Green Bay Student Union, Phoenix Room A
420 Nicolet Drive
September 23 at 2:30 p.m.
Harmony Cafe by Lawrence University
233 E. College Avenue
Appleton, Wisconsin 54911
September 24 at 11: 30 a.m.
UW-Eau Claire Davies Student Center, Council Oak Room
105 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54702
*Time and location TBD
September 26 at Noon
UW-La Crosse Cartwright Center, Port O' Call Room
1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
If you do not have time to attend one
of the Make College Affordable Tour stops, feel free to share your
thoughts by taking my brief online survey about higher education
affordability. I created this survey to learn more about you and your
perspective. Please take the time to fill it out. I look forward to
hearing back from you.
I often have neighbors contact me
looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very
much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion
of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open
dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
Recently, Republican senators introduced legislation that would allow the open-pit iron mining company drilling in Northern Wisconsin to be exempted from some requirements of this program. Under the bill, property owners be allowed to close public access to up to 4,000 acres of managed forest land indefinitely. This sweetheart deal is excessive, unjustified, and unfair not only to taxpayers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts, but also to the other 30,000 Wisconsin landowners participating in the managed forest program. It also treads on our stewardship tradition and shared Wisconsin values.
Forty acres might be modest but 4,000 acres by any rationale and reasonable standard is excessive. Therefore, in contrast to this partisan proposal, Senators Cullen, Jauch, and Schultz have introduced an alternative that would provide additional protections to mine workers, while still allowing the public to utilize these lands. This bipartisan solution would create a defensible public safety zone around bulk sampling and drilling locations to protect workers and the public. It would require football field separation from the five bulk sampling sites and a 50-foot safety zone away from a drill site. If explosives would be used a separate safety zone could be determined by the permitting agencies.
It is important to remember that this
company is no better nor is it more important than the other 30,000
property owners who respect and follow the law, as well as Wisconsinites
who use the land. Therefore, I encourage the adoption of this bipartisan
solution, which is a win-win for both community members and the
company, rather than just the mining company alone.
|Did You Know...?|
You may know that as Wisconsinites we commonly refer to drinking fountains as bubblers, but did you know that our colloquialism has even reached Portland, Oregon?
The city of Portland currently boasts
52 Benson Bubblers, which have become iconic drinking fountains that
span the city limits. The founder of these creations, Simon Benson, was
a business owner and philanthropist that brought this idea with him when
he moved from Wisconsin to Portland. The drinking water in these
routinely cleaned bubblers is fresh and bubbles, or flows, continuously
from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily unless the weather is excessively cold or
Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey
I created a survey for the 2013-2014
Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to
our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly
appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many
surveys door to door as possible before winter arrives. In addition, I
have also made this survey available online.
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