Friday, August 26, 2005


Today, August 26, Dave Wille, Chairman of the Wood County Democratic Party, appeared on two local radio stations including WDLB here in the Marshfield area. The program he appeared on is called the Insight Program, hence the title of today's blog. The program was totally refreshing and interesting. The moderator asked pertinent questions, allowed Dave to finish explaining his thoughts, and chimed in with helpful comments of his own when needed. Several of us, including me, called in with questions concerning education, mixing of religion with politics, the war in Iraq, and other current concerns. One person even called in to ask for more information on affiliating with the Democratic Party. Dave was adept at using many facts and figures to prove his points on education, the war, and other topics. It was so refreshing to listen to a talk radio program in which the parties were not yelling, screaming, and interrupting each other that I just had to email Ryan Lindsey, the moderator, to tell him how much I enjoyed the program. Here is the most amazing part: Ryan emailed back to say that today was perhaps the one with the most positive feedback he had ever gotten in the two years that he had moderated the program. So--this was a very exciting day for me and I want to share this good news with all of you party members.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My big fat disguise

I am able to blend in quite nicely among Republicans. I show up at an event that they are hosting and they embrace me with open arms. I guess that is because so few people show up at these events without being paid, as in the case of Rep. Mark Green's appearance in Wood County on Monday (most of the people there were part of Green's entourage). But aside from Republicans being desperate for followers in Wood County, I blend in because I am a bit fat. Fat is the Republican uniform. I guess it is because it is a visual representation of all the pork they pack into their bills. Such is the case with the 2002 Farm Bill that. While it introduced the MILC (Milk Income Loss Contract) provision, it also sought to decrease competition. But you can read that for yourself at
Now, you may have received a recent action alert that talked about how Rep. Green has changed his stance on MILC. Green claims that this is "liberal propaganda," and that he still supports the provision. I may have believed his chest-pounding message had he been able to stop blinking. You see, I teach a course in communication and I know a thing or two about body language. When someone cannot look you in the eye without constantly blinking, that is a sure sign that they are lying. Also, the overt gesture of placing one's hand over their heart when answering a question as mundane and unemotional as "why have you changed your position on the Milk Income Loss Contract?" signals that the politician protest too much.
When Green said that Rep. Dave Obey and Sen. Russ Feingold had initially voted against the bill, I thought there must have been a reason and the pork is the answer. Funny how such free-market martyrs, as the Republicans portray themselves to be, continue to do everything in their power to discourage competition. Oh well.
While speaking to Green, I also questioned him about what he would do with the UW system. He quickly replied "I would save it," and recounted his own college days. While I cannot deny that tuition has increased under Governor Doyle, I also cannot deny that Doyle has shrunk the deficit considerably. When I asked, "well, what would you cut to balance the budget," Green slipped up and said "nothing needs to be cut." He later commented that he would cut state funding for people in rehabilitation programs to attend college and that all non-teaching jobs in the UW system need to face the chopping block. This would mean cutting the very jobs that support students and enrich campus life. I felt like asking him if his comments would mean that he would be vetoing bills proposed by Republicans in the State Assembly and Senate, but I didn't have the heart to debate a man who appeared to have a sudden case of dry eye. I do hope that he gets over his blinking problem. It must come and go, since he hardly batted an eye when chit-chatting with well-wishers.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Security scam

This is a letter that was never published in the Daily Tribune, but one that I believe Lincoln High School Principal Gus Mancuso was allowed to screen. I still can't imagine what Editor Mark Treinen's reasoning for allowing Mancuso to read this letter prior to publication would be, but you can see for yourself what I mean:

In April of 2001, on the second anniversary of the Columbine shootings, an incident happened here, in our school district. While the incident did not end in tragedy, it very well could have. The greatest tragedy is that violence in our schools could be prevented if only school administrators took the time to assess what the real cause of such violence is. But instead, we see stop-gap, PR solutions.
When a school shooting happens, and I can tell you that the environment at LHS is rife for this, the geeks or the outsiders are always the ones who get blamed. But have you ever lived life as a geek? Even if you have, you would be out of touch because the situation has only worsened over the years. Not only are you an outcast among your peers, being constantly harassed, taunted and beaten, but you are shunned by most of the teachers and administrators as well. In a middle class community where sports are so prized, because let’s face it, they earn money for the financially strapped schools in a district such as Rapids, you have two school systems: one for the jocks and one for everyone else. To make matters worse, when it comes time to cut co-curriculars, while sports are seldom cut, programs that offered refuge to geeks, such as debate, are.
Instead of punishing bullies who are often popular jocks, school administrators crack down on the geeks, the outsiders, who are the subject of torment. This is often the tipping point that leads to a bloody massacre such as what happened in Littleton, CO.
When I was a student a Lincoln, I was told that I just didn’t have school spirit even though I was an active volunteer in my community, a member of art honor society, debate and forensics. I have written this letter because I have school spirit, and more than that, I happen to love this community… too much to stand by and let it be forever stained with the blood of school children.
I realize that LHS is looking at having security cameras installed. I agree that something needs to be done to heighten security, but installing cameras with visible shields and no one watching the footage during the day will not heighten security but rather only alienate teachers and service workers. When there is a school shooting, and I say when not if because if this administration keeps on this same road that they have been on for the past 17 years this will indeed happen, all of these cameras will prove no use in saving lives and will only provide footage for the nightly news. What a sorry state.
Gus Mancuso used to tell us LHS students every morning over the intercom to make all the right choices. Wisconsin Rapids School Board and LHS administrators need to make the right choices for the district. The district demands a real solution for heightening security, one that is more complex than spending $25,000 of the budget to install cameras that look good on the surface but provide no real protection. Cameras themselves are not a bad idea, but with no one watching them, they are utterly useless. Perhaps the district could save a little money by hiring some of their technically inclined students to install the cameras in exchange for class credit. Perhaps they would save enough money to hire someone to monitor the cameras. But even with someone watching, school violence will not be prevented unless a major paradigm shift occurs.

Since the letter was never published and I was not allowed to speak at a meeting last month, I brought the following questions to the school board on August 8th. I only asked the first six questions aloud and instructed school board members to get back to me on the seventh. The only question that I received an answer to that night was #7, as school board members, Superintendent Dean Ryerson and Gus Mancuso dodged my questions and replied with a familiar line about seven weeks of research. No one backed up any claim with evidence and Jim Geise committed numerous logical fallacies, most troubling of which was his slippery slope that $25,000 is peanuts if lives can be saved (remember, no one answered whether research shows that security cameras save lives or make schools safer, rather emphasis was placed on preventing theft and vandalism). Here are the questions:

To WR School Board and School Administrators

1) Mr. Ryerson mentioned at the last meeting that seven weeks of research was conducted regarding installation of security cameras at LHS, but was any research conducted to see whether or not security cameras actually make schools safer?
2) Has the School Board and LHS School Administration considered saving money by hiring some of your more technically inclined students to install cameras and/or software? If you are concerned with students using the system, you could hire only second semester seniors to work on this project in exchange for class credit.
3) If the camera footage is on a Web site or an FTP (file transfer protocol) site, couldn’t it be easily hacked into?
4) If the cameras have visible shields, wouldn’t that make them easy targets for destruction, particularly if there was a school shooting?
5) Have other means of making the school a more secure environment been explored by the district? If so, what are they?
6) How will a swipe card system enhance the security of LHS? Aside from the cost of the (I’m assuming Kronos) system, what will the cost of installation and upkeep be? What will be the cost for the replacement of lost or stolen swipe cards?
7) If debate was cut from the co-curricular budget because it was “basically the same” as forensics, why hasn’t cross country been cut when it is basically the same as track?

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Greetings from Lolo:

I am a first time ever blogger so will keep this short until I get the hang of it.

My musings lately have been mostly about 2 subjects: The first is the Karl "Rovegate" affair. I, of course, would like to see him fired, but more importantly, I would like the media to again focus more on how the outing of Valerie Plame has actually changed her life and work, and how it affects not only our national security but also how the whole affair affects our trust in our administration and how it refllects on and relates to the Downing Memo and our trumped up reasons for going to war in Iraq. For several days, the media did an excellent job of reporting on this; however, I have seen little or nothing in the news lately about this subject.

The second subject is the war itself. Not only are the insurgents becoming more numerous and more sophisticated in their use of weaponry and choice of victims, but also they are becoming so bold as to actually kidnap the mayor of Bagdad yesterday and replace him with a militant Shiite fundamentalist. I think it is time we put our energies into bringing a close this ill-conceived and terribly mismanaged preemtive war.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Blog How-to

In response to the Web site survey I emailed, I have seen a couple of common threads: 1) that events and meeting information is found to be the most useful feature of for our members and 2) the blog needs to be more "user-friendly." Since this is a free service offered through, there is nothing I can offer to change the format of this blog (other than to change some of the visual aspects), but I can, given a suggestion from one of our members, offer a how-to for people who wish to post on the blog.
You can post, even anonymously, by clicking on comments in the lower right bottom corner of each post.
In order to start a new thread, you must be invited to the blog. If you wish to be invited, email me at Once invited, you will receive an email from Blogger Invites. Follow the link in the email. When you get to the Blogger screen, scroll down and click on the "Create an Account" button. Choose a username and password for the account and you are on your way.
To post, just login (if you are on a private computer, you can click on the box where it says "remember me").
Once you are signed in, you will arrive at the "dashboard." Click on "new post" and type away. When you are done, hit submit.