Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday 6-17

More random thoughts today:

Do you know why government bogs down and doesn't run nearly as efficiently as it should? Because promotion from within is darn near impossible. The Oshkosh School Board proved this by refusing to promote Todd Gray to even an interim Superitendent's position. I find it ironic that the very same search firm that the board hired to help them find the best available candidate for the Oshkosh district was the firm that recommended Gray for Waukesha. Wouldn't being the best fit for a larger district make you think the guy would do a great job here? Apparently the school board doesn't think so.

Actually, I think Gray's experience as a finance director--being a "numbers man"--hurt him in the eyes of the Oshkosh board. They prefer "ideas people"--because "we're not running a business here." I'm guessing the Waukesha district won't be facing the same financial difficulties in the future that will plague Oshkosh.

I want to give a big "thumbs up" to Oshkosh Acting City Manager John Fitzpatrick. I don't think Fitz expected to deal with flooding, having to shut down part of downtown for movie filming and the retirement of several other department heads. There's another guy that won't be promoted from within.

Am I the only person surprised that Ned Yost wasn't the first manager in Major League Baseball to be fired this year? The Brewers continue to underachive--and are still one of the worst road teams in baseball. Ned was outmanaged badly by Ron Gardenhire of the Twins over the weekend at Miller Park. It's just a matter of time before the good young players on that team start to believe that .500 baseball is acceptable and don't put in the extra effort needed to be better.

I got the feeling all weekend that if Tiger Woods needed to make a 300-yard 3-wood to tie or win the US Open--he was going to make it. Kudos to Rocco Mediate for taking Tiger to the limit. I thought he had absolutely no chance heading into Monday's playoff.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday 6-16

If there is any silver lining to last week's flooding here in Oshkosh it could be a chance to bring the city closer together. I've seen several examples of it already. On Saturday, I was in the store behind a group of high school girls covered in mud and muck. They had spent the day helping clean up Lourdes High School--which saw several lower level classrooms, storage areas and both gymnasiums flood out. Now if you know anything about teenage girls, there is nothing they hate more than being covered in smelly muck and being seen in public. But those girls were out there telling stories about what they had done to help clean up the building, almost wearing that slop as a badge of honor.

In another positive note, one of the guys in my neighborhood went door to door on Saturday just making sure that everyone was doing okay and seeing if they needed any help cleaning up. Fortunately, my wife and I didn't need his help--but we did see him helping a few others who did have water come in the basement. That's the definition of a "good neighbor". I also saw a lot of that reporting from some of the hardest hit areas on Thursday night. I talked to at least a half-dozen people who were helping an elderly neighbor pump water out of the house or get their belonging to a higher level. There was even one man helping a young family get their baby and supplies to a safer place.

It really makes you proud to see that. There was no concern about being a northsider or a westsider. We were all neighbors that night and we were stepping up to help each other. Wouldn't it be great if we could stay "together" in that way and keep up that commuity spirit in the future? Maybe those development, school improvement and community image problems might be solved as well.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday 6-12

If you listen to the show regularly, you know that I am a huge golf fan. That's why I am so giddy today. My favorite tournament--the US Open--starts today at Torrey Pines near San Diego.

A lot of people think the US Open is boring because the conditions are so hard that par is a good--and often times a winning--score. But that is what I love about it. I like seeing the pros struggle with the very same things I do on the course. Why shouldn't pros be punished for missing the fairway and having to play out of four-inch thick rough? Why shouldn't they have to worry about carrying a huge water hazard or ravine from the tee? Why shouldn't they sweat out a slippery little downhill putt that breaks more than it looks?

The USGA gets a lot of grief for the lengths to which it goes to make it as hard as possible for the pros. All of the players will complain of the length of the course--a record 76-hundred yards--the speed of the greens--an estimated 13 on the stimpmeter (or about three times as fast as the greens you'll find a the typical public course)--and the rough so thick it requires a boy scout troop to find errant shots. But to me, the look of disbelief on Tiger or Phil's faces when they don't come close to pulling off a shot makes me feel great--because that look is on my face half the time I'm out on the course.

As for a prediction on this week's tournament--I don't think Tiger can come off such a long layoff due to his knee surgery to pull out a win. My dream scenario--since the tournament ends on Father's Day--would be Phil Mickelson making a tricky birdie putt on the 72nd hole with his father, Phil Sr.--the man who taught him the game and built a putting green and bunker in the backyard so he could develop his masterful short game--sitting at greenside to watch it happen and then giving his son a big hug. Get out the hankies for that one.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday 6-09

Just a few odds and ends today:

Since I am here at work today, it's obvious I did not make a hole in one Sunday at Walleye Weekend for the million dollars. I hit a great shot--a high fade that ended up right in line with the pin--but 20-feet-five and three-quarters inches short of the cup. That was good enough for fourth place. The wind was directly into our faces--and the driving range at Whispering Springs was absolutely soaked--but I decided to stick with my 8-iron, figuring adrenaline would add enough distance to make up for the wind and the lack of roll. I guess I was wrong. The guy who came the closest was just outside nine feet and left of cup. He won a boat that I would have had no use for anyway.

In more important matters....The Oshkosh Common Council selected Grand Chute Town Administrator Mark Rohloff as the new City Manager. Mark wins immediate points with me by admitting he listens to the Morning News Focus. I was a bit disappointed that he put riverfront development as his top priority. I would have preferred re-structuring city spending to guarantee enough to provide basic services without extra fees. All and all, I expect Mark to do a good job and to be more open with the public and the council than his predecessor.

And finally, can someone please turn off the rain? We had a small amount of water in the basement when we got back from Fond du Lac last night--and more in the basement again this morning. The sump pump just can't keep up with five inches of rain a day. There is nothing worse than living in fear of rain. I was lying awake for nearly an hour last night, cursing the thunder and the sound of the drops on the roof--knowing the work put in to soak up the earlier water was all for naught. If anyone knows any anti-rain dances I would suggest doing it now.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday 6-06

On Sunday I get a chance to live out every golfer's dream: One shot for a million dollars. I am a finalist in the Milion Dollar Hole-in-one Shootout at Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac. All that stands between me and a cool mill is 140-yards. For me, that's a "smooth" 8-iron with my gentle high fade curling the ball toward the pin. And over the last few weeks, I have been hitting my irons very crisp and accurately.

That being said, I'm not exactly counting my million dollars just yet. I've been golfing for 22-years now and have never made a hole-in-one. I've hit the stick on the fly at least three times. I've rolled one off the stick once. I've had one tee shot lip out. I've had balls end up just a few inches short of the hole or just a few inches left or right. I've even had a ball get wrapped in the flag and drop right next to the cup. But I've never scored the elusive ace. That's why I want to give up the game when I hear about a seven-year old who makes a hole-in-one or that woman in Florida who claims to have made over a hundred last year alone.

While collecting this million may seem unlikely, my odds are better than winning the same amount in the lottery. The USGA estimates the odds of an amateur golfer making a hole in one are about one in 5000. The odds of winning the Wisconsin Lottery's Megabucks game is one in 14-million. And with the golf challenge, I control the outcome.

Despite the long odds, it's only human nature to wonder what I would do if lightning struck and my ball found paydirt. The first thing I know is not to count on getting a full million. You lose one-third right off the top to taxes--so now I'm down to just 670-thousand. That's where the Dave Ramsey plan kicks in. Fifteen percent has to go to my retirement accounts--that takes me down to 520-thousand. Then I have to save up for the kids college educations. I'm hoping to have two little ones--so we had better salt away another 150-thousand. Now I'm down to 370-grand. Next we pay off the house--that leaves me with 260-thousand. Another ten percent will go to non-profit entities. I've always wanted to see Oshkosh have a First Tee program to introduce kids to the sport of golf. I'd also love to help Oshkosh Youth Baseball build their new "Field of Dreams" complex--if the airport officials don't put the kibosh on it. One thing I promise not to spend the money on is an amphitheater or water park that taxpayers have to pay to maintain for the rest of eternity.

Alright, so now I'm down to just over 100-thousand dollars. Not even enough to retire on, but certainly enough to get a few toys, right? Classic cars are out--since the gas will bankrupt me now. And I just got new golf clubs last year so I don't need those yet. I guess I'll just turn it over to the wife so she can catch up on all of the purchases she has delayed since we went on the Dave plan. You might want to make sure you have plenty of Kohl's and Ikea stock in your 401k portfolio.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday 6-05

Have you ever gone to a restaurant that was your favorite as a child--or had some food you loved as a kid--and it just wasn't as good as you remembered? That's the way I feel about the NBA--which tip off tonight in Boston.

When I was a kid in the 80's, a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics was pretty much the norm every June. And it was absolute must-watch TV. Sure, it would have been nice to have the Milwaukee Bucks make the Finals one of those times but LA and Boston were obviously the two best teams of that era--and as far as I'm concerned, the best in NBA history.

The talent on those teams was outrageous. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish forming the greatest front line in basketball history. The Celts were so good they had all time greats like Bill Walton and Quinn Buckner COMING OFF THE BENCH!! The Lakers were just as loaded with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo.

Being young and full of vigor at the time, Magic was my guy. Run and gun, Showtime at the Forum with behind the back passes that was the way I wanted to play the game--usually driving my grade school and high school coaches crazy--because they wanted to set it up and run the offense with seven passes before we shoot. I hated the Celtics, with their plodding style. But as I haved aged--and the court has somehow become longer on every trip--my appreciation for the Boston game has grown. How Larry Bird became one of the all-time greats with a four-inch vertical jump and average at best ball-handling skills is testament to hard work and desire. Kevin McHale turned out to be one of the final great "true" low post players in the NBA--with a myriad of back to the basket moves that bafffled defenders. Nowadays, big men just catch the ball, bump into their defender and try to dunk.

The NBA has been trying to play up the LA-Boston finals this year as a return to those glory days of the Association--but we all know it won't be the same. Kobe Bryant is great--but he is no Magic. And Pau Gasol and LaMarr Odom don't hold a candle to Kareem and Big Game James. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are a solid trio--but are they Bird, Parish and McHale? Hardly. And the new Garden in Boston isn't close to the venue the old Garden--with its uneven parquet floor and lack of air conditioning which turned the finals games into a steamy sweat-soaked battle of attrition.

While it won't be the same, I'll still watch the games--complaining to everyone younger than me that the game was much better when I was a kid--which I hated hearing as a kid. And my prediction? Lakers in six.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday 6-03

I hope you had the chance to hear our interview with Congressman Paul Ryan on the Morning News Focus yesterday. He joined Bob to talk about his new "Roadmap for America's Future". I applaud Ryan for actually proposing that Congress take proactive steps to fix some of the problems we face today.

I'm sure Ryan will take the greatest amount of heat for the part of his plan that would allow younger workers like myself to invest a third of our Social Security savings in a government-administered investment fund--just like Congressmen can do themselves. Alarmists---like AARP will pillory Ryan for "putting Social Security funds at risk". Never mind the fact that there is no way my generation can put enough into the SSA fund to keep up with the payments that will have to be made to Baby Boomers over the next 25-years. And it would be nice if I could get better than negative one percent growth on my retirment money.

Even if we didn't go to socialized medicine, Medicare and Medicaid are threatening to overrun the economy in the future--taking up 40-percent of all government expenditures. Ryan's plan would give working families tax breaks for buying their own insurance--and would set up 95-hundred dollar Medicare payments to help seniors and the poor to go out and get their own private insurance as well. That would go a long way toward shifting some of the future health costs back into the private market and off of the taxpayers backs.

Of course, everyone else in Congress will attack Ryan's plan. It would draw the ire of every special interest group that pays for Congressional re-elections--as they roll out the tired old scare campaigns about how we can't "privatize" Social Security and how nobody can be trusted to make their own health care choices--because we all know that the government knows so much more than the rest of us. As least Ryan is trying to get us off the slippery slope that threatens to bankrupt us all.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday 6-01

When I worked in TV in the Twin Cities, one of the more morbid duties we production assistants had was to prepare "obituary tapes" for celebrities and athletes. If someone famous was sick--or just getting very old--you wanted to have a "highlight reel" of their life ready to go. A story summing up their life was also needed.

Today, I will be writing my own obituary for those left behind here at WOSH to read. Based on recent experiences I know exactly how it will go:

A local radio personality is dead after being run over by several cars while riding his bike. Police say Jonathan Krause--Program and News Director at WOSH radio in Oshkosh--was struck by a car that was pulling out of the Wal-Mart parking lot on South Koeller Street. According to police, Krause was riding home from work when a woman driving a van failed to stop at the sidewalk crossing and collided with the victim's bike. The driver allegedly admitted to never checking the sidewalk for bicyclists or pedestrians--and that she was on the cell phone making sure she had bought all of the items she needed to get at the store.

Police believe Krause--who was wearing his beloved Dale Earnhardt, Senior Safety Helmet--likely survived the initial impact--but died after he was run over by two other vehicles that gunned it into the Wal-Mart parking lot trying to beat the on-coming traffic. Those drivers also admitted they never checked to see if anyone was in the crossing--and that they were on the cell-phone checking to see if anyone at home needed anything from Wal-Mart.

Friends say Krause had just taken to riding his bike to work to save on gas and stay in shape over the summer. His wife called his death "tragic--yet ironic" as Krause himself once hit a man on a bicycle pulling out of a parking lot. That man--who was in the country illegally from Mexico--survived that accident suffering only a minor elbow injury.

Prosecutors expect to file homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle charges against all of the drivers that ran over Krause. They would each face up to ten years in prison. The D-A says he hopes the filing of the charges will send a message to other drivers to hang up their cell phones and pay attention to the road--and to give bicyclists the room and the right of way they are allowed under state law.

Based on the near misses I've had in just three weeks of riding to work--I'm guessing the boys here at the station will be using this story before the end of the summer.