Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wisconsin's Other Dynasty

If I asked you to name the most successful college basketball program in Wisconsin over the last 20 years, which team would you choose?  Would you guess the Wisconsin Badgers under Bo Ryan and Dick Bennett?  Would you pick the Marquette Warriors/Golden Eagles with Buzz Schneider and Tom Crean?  Nice picks, but the most successful college basketball program in Wisconsin over the last 20 years has the been the UWGB Lady Phoenix.

Twelve consecutive 20-win seasons, 12 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, 13 straight Horizon League Regular Season Championships, a 34-win season, a Sweet Sixteen appearance and now--for the first time in program history--a Top Ten ranking.  The Lady Phoenix have enjoyed this run of success under three head coaches--starting with Carol Hammerle (who built the program up from its Division II roots back in the early 80's to its first NCAA Tournament bid)--to Kevin Borseth (who got the program its first Tournament victory)--to current Heach Coach Matt Bollant (who got the Phoenix to their first Sweet Sixteen--pushing Number One Seed Baylor to the limit last year).

And now, the Lady Phoenix are enjoying their best season ever.  Undefeated at 19-0--just one of two teams without a loss in Division 1 as we head into February.  And it looks like they won't have to play their early NCAA Tournament games on some other team's home court (a policy that continues to hurt the competitive balance of the Women's Tourney).

All of this success has been built with ladies coming from right here in Wisconsin--usually from just Northeast Wisconsin.  In how many other states are a Big Ten and a Big East program also-rans when it comes to getting some of the top girl's basketball recruits every year?  By the way, it's been a few years since either the Badgers or the Golden Eagles have beaten GB in their annual matchups.

Despite all of the success, the Lady Phoenix still play fourth or fifth fiddle in local sportscasts--buried behind the Packers, the Badgers, the NFL Draft, Boys High School hoops and fishing or hunting--but their time to get top billing is finally here.  Their games are carried live on our sister station 107.5 FM The Fan--and the Horizon League also streams most of its games live on its website.  There won't be any dunks or many fancy passes.  But what you will see or hear is some of the best basketball in the state.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hello, Miracle Ear!!

One of the first things you learn in radio is that people hear what they want to hear.  Two phone calls to the WOSH Newsroom proved that last week.

The first came from a very angry (and as I found out, confused) woman Wednesday morning.  The woman wanted to know why we only had Republicans on to talk about the previous night's State of the Union Address.  (On Wednesday morning we had reaction from Senator Ron Johnson provided to us by ABC Radio News--and Congressman Tom Petri joined Bob Burnell for a live interview from Washington as well).  I told the woman that the WOSH listening area is represented, for the most part, by Congressman Petri--with most of the rest covered by Congressman Reid Ribble and a little bit by Sean Duffy--all of whom are Republicans.  Senator Johnson is from Oshkosh--and the next time Senator Herb Kohl joins us for a live interview will be the first time that Senator Kohl accepts our invitation to do a live interview (not during campaign season).

The angry woman thought there were some "Democratic Assemblymen who probably had something to say about the speech."  (No offense to State Lawmakers--but if you want info or reaction to Federal Government matters, you are better off going to Federal Lawmakers).  I told her that Representative Gordon Hintz would be joining us Thursday morning for his reaction to Wednesday night's State of the State Address.  There was a pause from the other end of the line and then the angry (and confused) woman told me "You know full well that the State of the State doesn't exist.  Good bye."

I was left with two thoughts after that "conversation".  One: that woman probably votes--and two: I sure hope she doesn't turn on Wisconsin Public Television tonight to see that the State of the State Address actually does exist--I wouldn't want to burst her bubble of "reality".

The second phone call came in Friday morning from an angry custodian who works for the Oshkosh School District.  He "had heard" that Bob Burnell "was telling people that school custodians make $50 an hour".  He believed he was at the high end of the pay scale--and even with benefits, he wasn't making close to fifty-bucks an hour.  He wanted to "set Bob straight" so he could "make a correction on the air."

Because I do the news on a couple of different stations every morning, I don't hear everything that is on the air on WOSH--so I went to the background record to hear what Bob was saying.  Bob was telling a story about renting a facility--not in Oshkosh--that required a $100 an hour fee for custodial services--meaning he was paying 50-bucks an hour for two janitors to be on duty during the event.  There was NO mention of Oshkosh in the story--and NO mention of the School District either.  Yet somebody listening was positive that Bob was telling people that Oshkosh School District custodians make fifty dollars an hour.

I know the public sector is on a self-persecution kick here in an effort to win sympathy from taxpayers--but not every mention of overpriced services is an attack on you.  Needless to say, Bob will not be "correcting" something that he never actually said. 

Meanwhile, any audiologist or hearing aid providers that would like to capture our "hard of hearing" audience share should contact the Cumulus Broadcasting Sales Department.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Trillion Dollar Solution

Lost in all of the hoopla this week over the "State of this" and the "State of that" was a report from UW-Milwaukee that found just 45-percent of working age African-American men in the Milwaukee actually have a job.  When the economy was "better" in 2008, that percentage was still just 53-percent.  The study blames the exodus of manufacturing jobs out of Milwaukee, high incarceration rates for black males in the metro area and a lack of transportation options to the suburbs--where most of the jobs are now available.

When you consider that "working age" is 18-60, that represents nearly three entire generations of African-Americans that have basically dropped out of society--becoming comfortable with living on the dole--or choosing to make their livings outside the law.  That would explain the 5,000 black men who are incarcerated in the Milwaukee area every year.

So, what is the solution?  I have three radical suggestions.

Option 1: A complete takeover of the African-American community by the government.  Every unemployed black person will be assigned three "state guardians".  Those guardians will work rotating eight hour shift making sure that their "customer" is trying to get a job, showing up to work if they get a job, driving them to the job, making sure that they are doing what they are getting paid to do, keeping them from being disrespectul to their bosses, making sure they aren't wasting whatever money they make on alcohol, drugs, weapons or 20-inch rims, ensuring that they get to bed early enough to be well-rested and that they aren't engaging in unprotected sex--thereby not adding to the number of single-parent families.

To ensure future generations don't get themselves in the same mess.  We should assign three guardians to each child in the Milwaukee Public School District.  They will make sure that the kids actually show up for class, pay attention in class, eat their school breakfasts and lunches, do their homework, don't bring weapons or drugs to school, don't spend all their free time running the streets, playing video games or chatting on the internet, not being mistreated at home, and aren't engaging in unprotected sex--thereby not adding to the number of teen parent families.

Milwaukee schools should be rebuilt to provide the same opportunities as those in other parts of the state--meaning every school should have a multiple-function fieldhouse, a performing arts center, a solarium ( like at Bay Port) and a planetarium (like they have at Wausau West).  And transportation needs to be improved--so buses need to run up and down every street every ten minutes--and we should probably add some light rail and some trolleys as well.  I would put the cost of Option 1 at about 1 Trillion dollars--annually.

Option 2 (and remember we are being radical in our thinking here): Legalize illicit drugs--but only allow African-Americans licensed by the government to sell them.  This is the same approach the Government took with an equally-depressed Native American population back in the 1980's when it gave them the right to operate casino gambling.  When you consider that two guys who moved from Chicago to Oshkosh were able to move $2.5 million dollars of heroin and cocaine in less than three years, this is probably the most lucrative option for the black community.  The drop in drug-related prison and jail sentences would save taxpayers a ton of money as well.

And then we have the most outrageous idea: Option 3:  Have those in the African-American community in Milwaukee stand up and say "We are sick of this" and take action to demand more from their brothers and sisters.  They could certainly do most of the steps I outlined in Option 1--without being paid to do it.  Unfortunately, I think we will hear far more calls for Options 1 and even 2 before we see any action on Option 3.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The State of Me

Since we are getting updates on the "State of" everything else this week.......

My fellow fiscally responsible Americans, the state of Jonathan is improving.  (STANDING OVATION)

After two years of reduced income, personal setbacks and challenges, Jonathan is coming back (STANDING OVATION).

Jonathan saw the smallest increase in his property taxes in the four years since becoming a homeowner (EXTENDED STANDING OVATION)

By the end of this week, Jonathan should know if he ended up paying less in personal income taxes--both federal and state--this year.  And if I do, how I will end up using the excess to help stimulate the economy (STANDING OVATION).

Jonathan became more energy efficient in the last year by installing new windows in his house.  And the milder winter that may be due to global climate change has lowered my heating bills as well (STANDING OVATION).

Jonathan remains debt free (LONGEST AND LOUDEST STANDING OVATION OF THE NIGHT).  And Jonathan has returned to putting money away for neccessary large purchases in the future like a new car for his wife (STANDING OVATION AS CAMERA SWITCHES TO MY WIFE IN THE GALLERY) and new carpeting in the bedrooms.

Past fiscal responsibility allowed Jonathan to refinance my house at nearly half the previous interest rate--and substantially reduce my monthly payment--allowing for even greater contributions to the savings account each month (ANOTHER LONG AND LOUD STANDING OVATION).

And who can forget the Boston Bruins ending 39-years of frustration for Jonathan by finally winning a Stanley Cup Championship.  (STANDING OVATION WITH CHANTS OF "BRUINS! BRUINS!)

Perhaps most importantly, Jonathan has trimmed three strokes off his golf handicap--and I continue to move toward my goal of becoming eligible to qualify for the State and US Mid-Amateur golf tournaments (STANDING OVATION WITH LOTS OF WHOOPING AND HOLLERING).

However, Jonathan is still facing challenges.  I am about five pounds over my ideal weight (CONCERNED GRUMBLE).  Jonathan has also passed the two year mark in waiting to adopt my first child.  And Jonathan is still looking at not getting a raise anytime in the near future--as costs for gas, food and other necessities continue to rise.

Things are getting better for Jonathan, but we must remain ever vigilant and resist the temptation to go back to ways that set us back in the past.  Thank you and ON WISCONSIN! (FINAL EXTENDED STANDING OVATION).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Credit Where It Is Due

I have to give credit today to a few people who have earned it.

First, a ton of credit to Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords for stepping down from her office.  By doing so Giffords spares those living in her Arizona district from what would have been the most uncomfortable campaign in recent memory.  Given the extent and effects of the injuries she suffered in the shooting last year, her ability to perform the duties of the job would have been a fair topic of discussion and debate for any candidate from either party that chose to challenge Giffords.  But, any candidate choosing to even refer to the issue would have been demonized as "uncaring", "vicious" or "opportunistic".  Now, any campaign for Giffords' district can focus on the issues (unless of course a candidate has been arrested, divorced several times or worked for a private equity firm).

Credit also goes to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for learning the lessons of the Penn State scandal and releasing its investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Associate Athletic Director John Chadima without forcing the media to file Freedom of Information requests.  Chadima came under investigation during the Badgers Rose Bowl trip for allegedly grabbing the genitals of a male Athletic Department employee--then threatening to fire the kid if he said anything.  Chadima resigned a few days after the team returned from Pasadena--so we don't have to worry about a Jerry Sandusky still-allowed-to-hang-around-the-football-facility situation in Madison.  Now Barry Alvarez has to hope there isn't a parade of former employees coming forward saying Chadima assaulted them as well--and nobody did anything about it.

And finally some credit to State Representative Richard Spanbauer.  Spanbauer announced yesterday that he will not run for re-election this year--after facing backlash within his own party for his vote on the Collective Bargaining Law last year.  Granted, most GOP power-brokers always thought Dick was a Democratic operative sent to infiltrate the party and report back on its strategies through his neighbor in the 54th District--but Representative Spanbauer voted his concience knowing full-well it would likely cost him his seat.  If nothing else, it is a departure from the normal in both Madison and Washington where just being part of the show is more important than what you actually accomplish on stage.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tea Party Hockey

I would like to welcome members of the Tea Party to the Boston Bruins Bandwagon.  The 2011 Stanley Cup Champions (I will NEVER get tired of saying that) have become the new darling of the Tea Partiers after my favorite player--goaltender Tim Thomas--refused to accompany the team to the White House yesterday for the annual photo op with President Obama. 

The team issued a statement saying that Timmy passed on the trip because of "personal political reasons."  Later in the day, Thomas--who is one of just two Americans on the Bruins--issued a statement on his Facebook page:

“I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people. This is being done at the executive, legislative, and judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ vision for the federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a free citizen and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion, both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an individual.’’

Thomas was immediately assailed in the blogosphere and Twittersphere for stiffing the President--with the general consensus being that Timmy should "stick to hockey".  I find this ironic, as many of the same reporters and commentators have criticized Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan for failing to be more political.  Jordan explained his silence with the famous phrase "Republicans buy shoes too."

It will be interesting to see how Thomas is received by the fans in Boston when they return to the TD Garden Arena later this week.  Let's not forget, we are talking about Massachussetts--which gave us the Kennedeys, McGovern, Dukakis and Romney.  The encroachment of Government on personal liberties apparently isn't much of a concern in the Commonwealth.

I would hope that people would consider that Tim Thomas was exercising his right as an American citizen.  There is no law that says if the President wants you to see him that you have to go.  And that is a beautiful thing--that the leader of the country has no right to compel you to do anything (except--according to the current administration--purchase health insurance).  Compare that to the story the Beatles' former publicist--Peter Brown--tells about how the band was detained by soldiers in the Phillipines after they cancelled a visit to Imelda Marcos and her children.

Personally, I would have liked to see Timmy go to the White House--and then chop the President in the back of the knees or give him a waffleboard in the chops--just like he gives to forwards who try to camp out in front of his crease.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sonic Assault

We can now add another entry to a disturbingly long list of embarrassing performances of the National Anthem before an American sporting event:  http://www.tmz.com/2012/01/22/steven-tyler-national-anthem-video/

Aerosmith frontman and American Idol "judge" Steven Tyler is the latest to take a rallying point for patriots (small p) and to turn it into a sonic assault on fans.

What makes me laugh about the reaction to this latest debacle is that people were surprised that Steven Tyler couldn't sing.  Has anyone ever listened to an Aerosmith song?  Why do you think he fronts a 70's rock band that plays the guitars at 500-decibles?

This won't sit well with the jingoistic crowd, but I think it might be time to take a break from performing the National Anthem before sporting events.  The tradition started in periods of war (WWI and WWII)--when patriotic fervor was at its highest--and when people both knew the words and could sing them.  There was no need to "promote" the stars of whatever shows are on the network broadcasting the game or a singer with a new album or single.  And does anyone really feel comfortable singing the song in a smaller venue, like a girls varsity basketball game with 25 people in the stands?

So let's take a break from the National Anthem at sporting events for awhile.  Maybe if we go a couple of years of just having warmups, the coin-flip and the start of the game--people will start saying "I really miss singing the National Anthem--I wish they would bring that back"--and them teams (and more importantly TV networks) will bring back tasteful, in-tune presentations of the song.

EXCEPTIONS!!--Two teams are allowed to continue the pre-game anthem tradition:  The Chicago Blackhawks, the originators of the "The Roar" and home of the greatest National Anthem performance in history: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvpxVE_kQXg   I'm ready to hit someone everytime I hear that--and the Philadelphia Flyers, who still use Kate Smith singing God Bless America: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=kate+smith+god+bless+america+flyers&mid=828FF19E3BAF654B39CE828FF19E3BAF654B39CE&view=detail&FORM=VIRE5

Now, THAT is how you honor America.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thanks, Mr President

I wish that I could draw.  I've known that I have no artistic talent since kindergarten--when my construction-paper Christmas stocking didn't turn out and my drawings of dogs, my parents and people playing baseball always had to be explained.  (SIDENOTE: I hated kindergartern.  My attitude was "If I need to be here this early in the morning, let's at least read something or learn about dinosaurs or airplanes.  I don't need to sing songs or draw my house, thank you."  First grade and getting to do math and science was welcome relief.)  Anyway....If I could draw I'd create this fantastic political cartoon summing up President Obama's decision to deny a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline from the oil sands of Western Canada to refineries in Texas.

On the left side of the panel I would draw a house engulfed in flames--with a couple and their baby out on the 2nd story ledge calling for help.  The people would be labeled "Middle Class Americans"--while the flames would be labeled "Rising Energy Prices" and "Dependence on Middle East Oil".

On the right side of the panel would be a hydrant to which firefighters have attached a hose.  The hydrant would be labeled Canadian Oil Sands (we could put a little Maple Leaf flag on there too to reinforce the idea)--while the hose would be labeled the "Keystone XL Pipeline".

Then smack dab in the middle of the panel would be President Obama standing on the lawn in front of the White House.  He would be preventing the firefighters--whom we will label "unemployed construction workers"--from going over the White House property line by holding up his left hand and saying in his first quote bubble: "I'm sorry, but I can't let you run your hose across my property."  In his second quote bubble I'd have President Obama saying "I suggest you use this instead"--as he holds out in his right hand a pinwheel--with the Solyndra logo on it.

I think that pretty much sums up the decision from the White House this week--"Yes, I could open the door to an energy source provided by our friendly neighbors to the north with a project that would put thousands of Americans to work--but I have to solidify support from my base for this year's election and they want me to continue throwing taxpayer money at a solution that will never come close to actually meeting our needs."

If only I could draw....then I could just sit back and wait for the Pulitzer Prize to be delivered.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh The Hypocrisy!!

I'm glad to see that the internet remains safe for the unauthorized broadcast and distribution of copyrighted TV shows, movies and music.  You may have seen the ballyhoo yesterday as websites like Wikipedia and Google "blacked out" some content as a form of protest over what they feel is undeserved Government regulation of the "freedoms" of the internet.  Their argument is that while the anti-piracy legislation would not affect them directly--it would "open the door" to further Government regulation of internet content down the road.  The public outcry fostered by these "brave stands" have lawmakers in Washington now backtracking faster than Vice President Joe Biden after being allowed to say anything at a public function.

I'm sorry, but aren't these the very same people who have been demanding more Government regulation of health care, banking, Wall Street, food production, tobacco use, vehicle emissions, sex education in schools, product safety, air travel, political advertising, wages, energy use, cellular phone rates, recycling, what light bulbs we can use in our homes, home mortgages, hiring practices, mining, and oil drilling--to name just a few?  Amazing isn't it, that as soon as Uncle Sam comes to the wild, wild west of the internet and wants to lay down a few laws--suddenly the Government is trying to take away our freedoms!!

And this is liberal-on-liberal violence that we are trying to prevent here!  How can Disney continue to afford to provide benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees if people are just downloading illegal copies of Toy Story 3 instead of buying the Blu-Ray/DVD +BD Live combo packs for for $30.99?  And if people watch secretly-videotaped posts of their new release movies--instead of actually going to the theater--how will Sean Penn afford to provide rescue boats for the people "Republicans don't care about" after our next hurricane?  And how will Steven Spielberg be able to host gala Hollywood fundraising receptions for President Obama?

I guess none of this outcry over trying to make people actually pay for something that has value should surprise us.  Especially when we're dealing with those who think health care, higher education and transportation should all be "magically" provided to everyone "for free" as well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Good Ship Lollipop

This Italian cruise ship accident is giving me a much greater appreciation for commercial airline pilots.  The revelations this week that Captain Francesco Schettino was one of the first people to abandon ship after the liner struck a reef and started listing--and the audio recordings of Schettino literally begging the Italian Coast Guard not to make him go back on the ship are the greatest examples of cowardice and negligence that we have seen in some time.

Can you imagine the pilot of an airliner announcing an on-board emergency and then walking through the cabin with a parachute on his back--popping open one of the exit hatches and jumping out?  And then the co-pilot and the flight attendants following him out the door--leaving all of the panicked passengers to fend for themselves?  (Side note here--as an experienced skydiver, I wouldn't mind having on-board parachutes for passengers who think they might have a better chance of surviving a jump from high altitude than an emergency landing.  The same goes for offices in high rise buildings in case of fire or suicide terrorist attack again.)

There is a reason there aren't ejection seats and parachutes on commercial planes:  Those hired by the airlines, and entrusted by the passengers, are expected to do all that is humanly possible to save the lives of everyone on board.  Unfortunately, the cut-rate business model for commerical aviation has really eroded the public's perception of pilots and flight attendants to the point where we consider them nothing more than cabbies and waitresses in the sky.  Stewards aren't paid to pass out peanuts and soda--they are paid to make sure you get your fat butt out of one of the emergency exits in case all hell breaks loose.  And pilots are paid to handle the "situations" you never even notice back in coach--instead of just three takeoffs and landings every day.

I am vehemently against taking a cruise for a vacation.  I've had friends tell me how "wonderful" it is to just unpack once for the entire trip--not to have to pay for your food and drinks all week--and there is "so much to do on-board".  But it is stories like the Costa Concordia and the disappearance of people at sea and the crime rates reported on-board (often involving ship staff) that cement my stance that you won't catch me dead on a cruise ship.

I'm not sure which comedian said it first--but they were absolutely correct when they said "Being on a boat is like being in prison--with an increased risk of drowning."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Reluctant Candidate

So the recall petitions are turned in today against Governor Scott Walker--but where is the Democrat that is running against him?  As I recall, candidates were announced before any petitions were filed against the Republican State Senators last summer--and there are declared candidates running against the GOP Senators targeted this spring as well.  But as of this morning, no prominent Democrat has stepped up to say they will challenge Governor Walker.

From a strategic standpoint, anyone getting in now is going to find themselves way behind in terms of financing and organization.  Governor Walker has had the money to run statewide TV and radio ads for about three months already.  While there will likely be a number of court challenges to the petitions and the process used to collect them pushing the election into late summer or early fall, the short nature of a recall election will make it almost impossible to raise the kind of cash necessary to challenge the warchest already built by the incumbent.

Despite the financial challenges, the real reason no one is rushing to get in the candidate's pool first is that being the recall challenger is going to be a no-win situation.  I don't mean that person has no chance of winning the election--they just have no chance of making anyone happy if they do.

The recall challenger is hamstrung by some unfortunate (for them) realities.  They won't be able to run on a platform of repealing Act 10--which did away with collective bargaining for public sector workers and required them to contribute toward their health insurance and retirement benefits (you know, the entire reason we've gone recall crazy in Wisconsin)--because that would automatically put red numbers into not only the state budget but the budget for every county, city and school district in the state (most of which were balanced on the savings seen by reduced personnel expenses).  That's why the unions fought so hard and protested so vociferously last year--because they knew that once the gig was up--Joe and Jane Taxpayer wouldn't be jumping up and down demanding we go back to the "old way of doing things".  It's also why it was so important for recall organizers to get as many signatures as possible before people got their property tax bills last month and saw the much smaller increase than they were used to the last decade or so.  And when was the last time you heard a public outcry over that?

Any Democratic recall candidate would also be faced with the likelihood of at least one and probably both houses of the Legislature still being under Republican control.  I tend to doubt GOP leaders will be in any mood to work with a recall election winner--meaning two years of absolute gridlock in Madison (which may not be all that bad, when you think about it).  And then there is the fact that if you do knock out Walker, you really have to start campaigning again in just a year for the 2014 regular election. 

It is far more advantageous for anyone who thinks they have a chance to win a race for Governor to sit out the recall effort and focus on 2014.  If President Obama wins re-election this November, the economic malaise will continue for at least another two years--so you can run on a platform that Governor Walker "failed to turn things around in Wisconsin".  Plus you have almost two years to put your organization in place, raise your money and canvass the state building name-recognition.  And if you win--you get a full four years in office--instead of barely two.

So look for someone like former Congressman Dave Obey or soon-to-be-former Senator Herb Kohl to reluctantly step into the recall race sometime in the next two months.  Their political careers are over--so they have nothing to lose if they do lose--or if they win.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Good Move

University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is coming under fire for his handling of the WIAA Basketball Championships at the Kohl Center.  http://host.madison.com/sports/columnists/tom_oates/tom-oates-alvarez-shoots-an-air-ball-with-lame-offer/article_6cbcadf0-3e62-11e1-abf0-001871e3ce6c.html

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Alvarez would like the traditional weekends Madison hosts Boys and Girls State available for the Badger Hockey teams to be able to host Big Ten Tournament games or a Women's Final Four from now on.  Last week, Barry basically gave the WIAA a "take it or leave it" option of playing its tourney games Tuesday thru Thursday--or forget about using the Kohl Center.  That has the WIAA looking for a new home--most likely the Resch Center in Green Bay.  And you know what I say?  That sounds great to me.

The Resch Center is a perfect venue for the state basketball championships.  With a capacity of 10,500--instead of the 17,000+ of the Kohl Center--the arena won't seem so cavernous, especially for the girls' tournament games.  They haven't ever had to open the upper deck at the Kohl for a girls game--and few seats are sold upstairs for the boys either.  The same size crowd packed into a smaller venue will create much better atmosphere for every game.

Getting to the Resch Center is certainly easier than getting to the Kohl Center.  An simple exit from Highway 41 to Lombardi Avenue (or from Highway 172 to Oneida Street) and you are just a few blocks away from the arena.  Unlike getting to the UW campus--which requires navigating the narrow, clogged streets of Madison for half an hour.  And once fans get there, you have plenty of on-site parking available in the Lambeau Field parking lot--or free parking on the surrounding streets--rather than the exorbitant rates charged by the City of Madison for its ramps--or running the risk of being towed if you park on the street four miles away.

For the thousands of fans that take in Madison's other "attractions" when they say they are going to the games, don't worry.  Bay Park Square Mall offers plenty of shopping and dining options--just like State Street.  (OK, maybe you won't find as many skull bongs or "street artists" on Oneida Street.)  And the burgers at Kroll's West are better than those at the Nitty Gritty or Dotty Dumpling's Dowry.

Opponents of the move decry the loss of "tradition" if the championships are not played at the Kohl Center or the Fieldhouse.  Believe me, no one walking past the school trophy case 25-years from now will look at the Gold Ball Trophy and tell their kids "Yeah, we were State Champions--but we won that game in Green Bay."

One of the best scenes in sports movie history is in Hoosiers when coach Norman Dale has his Hickory Huskers players measure the height of the rim (10 feet) and the distance to the free throw line (15 feet) at Hinkle Fieldhouse--to show them they are the same as their small gym at home.  And you know what?  The distances will be the same for the kids who play for state titles at the Resch Center or the Kohl Center.  And that is all that matters.

Friday, January 13, 2012


A new war started this week in Oshkosh.  It's not a new War on Drugs or a grudge match between Oshkosh North and Oshkosh West in some sport.  Instead, it is the personal war that Oshkosh School Board President John Lemberger has declared on the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper.

(Side note, since Lemberger does not return calls from WOSH Radio, I'm guessing he doesn't listen to our school board coverage--or else he would probably be pretty upset with us as well.  I'm guessing he is more of an NPR "All Things Considered" listener)

Lemberger went on a 10-minute and two-second rant during the School Board meeting Wednesday night railing against what he perceives as negatively-biased coverage of the Board and district administration.....

"I am going to be on the Northwesten like a biting sow.  And they had better up their journalistic integrity."

None of my friends growing up "in the country" raised pigs on their farms--so I'm not sure if sows are tenacious as wolverines or honey badgers.

Lemberger started by taking umbrage to the Sunday Northwestern headline "School Superintendent Resigns".  Lemberger believes that is "factually inaccurate" since the School Board has to "agree to let the superintendent resign" before he can resign.  I guess the more accurate headline would have been "Viegut Wants Out of Town".

Next Lemberger attacked stories about School Board discussions of closing Oaklawn Elementary School during improperly noticed closed session meetings this summer--which was raised by Boardmember Ben Schneider II in an interview here on WOSH Radio..................

"There's been some innuendo about that.  In particular a meeting that I did not attend on June 22nd.  If the Northwestern has evidence that the law was broken they should turn it over to the DA so it can be prosecuted--because it is a crime to withhold evidence of a crime.  If you don't, then stop reporting it."

This is classic obstructionist posturing right there.  First, Lemberger admits that he wasn't in the meeting cited by Schneider--which begs the question: how then would he know that improper items were not discussed?  And secondly, a transcript of the closed session was not entered into the record of the meeting--so the only people who have "evidence of criminal activity" are the six board members, the administrators and the clerk who kept very general minutes of the conversation in that room.  And one of the people in that meeting is on the record as saying items not listed on the agenda and not covered by closed session statutes were discussed. 

And then Lemberger railed against the paper's use of school capacity numbers--which have been cited in the debate over the need for a new Oaklawn................

"I'd love to see the source for your numbers.  If they came from the school district, we've already told you there were wrong.  So why do you keep printing them?"

So the School Board President admits that erroneous information was provided to the reporter.  Did you hear him offer up the correct information?  That was the main point of his entire ten minute rant: "correcting the errors in the newspaper".  So put the "correct" capacity percentages out there.  Or are you worried they would still not make the schools look "full enough"?

In his screed, Lemberger cited an adage from Mark Twain and called him a "pretty good journalist"--missing the fact that Twain wrote fiction and was a satirist.  Perhaps he should have instead read the old adage "Never start an argument with a man who buys ink by the barrel".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Old Media vs New Media

We had an interesting clash of "new media" versus "old media" this week. 

On Monday afternoon, we had the news that a body had been recovered from the Fox River here in Oshkosh.  Both the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department and the Oshkosh Police Department refused to issue information on the identity of the person--or if the discovery was connected to the earlier reported disappearance of Michael Philbin--son of Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin.  We were told that the identity would be released after a positive identification was made and the family had been notified.

Until a couple of years ago, that would have been pretty much the end of the story until a press release or a news conference was held to release the name and the circumstances surrounding the person's death.  But now, the rules have changed.  It wasn't even an hour after the recovery of the body that those of us who follow Green Bay Packers players on Twitter started getting tweets about "the loss Joe Philbin and his family have suffered."  TJ Lang, JerMichael Finley and his wife were among those "confirming" on their own that the victim was, in fact, Michael Philbin.  NFL.com was one of the first to go with a story that Joe Philbin's son had died--and the rest of us pretty much followed suit by 5:00 pm.

In his press conference Tuesday, Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel seemed a bit irritated that everyone was reporting the name without his "official" confirmation--saying the department had waited out of "respect for the wishes of the family"--and that is certainly understandable.  I know I would prefer to hear from family about a death than to hear it on the radio or see it on TV.  But then somebody has to put a muzzle on others in the know as well.  Those Packers players who tweeted have follower numbers larger than the WOSH listening audience--making them their own form of mass media.  They need to consider that as soon as they hit "send" it's no different than if they had stepped up to the microphone in their own press conference.

Does that mean that everything we reporters see on Twitter or Facebook should be reported as true and accurate?  No way.  The key is--and always should be--the source of the information.  Another good example followed our other ice-related tragedy so far this winter, where an Oshkosh North student drowned in a pond near his home.  Before his name was released I was directed to several Twitter posts and Facebook "tributes" that mentioned his name.  But in those cases the posts all came from teenagers.  And if there is one thing any parent can tell you, it's kids will believe anything and they aren't above lying about stuff or spreading unfounded rumors about someone as well.

As my first boss in radio news told me, you'd better be sure when you report someone is dead--because only one person has ever been able to bring people back to life--you ain't him.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cover Your Eyes, Kids...and Your Ears Too

If you were looking for another reason to get rid of your television, the US Supreme Court may be giving it to you soon.  This week, the high court heard arguments in a case that would strip the Federal Communications Commission of the power to regulate over-the-air networks when it comes to issues of indecency.  The case stems from fines the FCC handed down to Fox Television for profanities uttered by celebrities on some made-up awards show.  Fox believes the days of banning George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" are over--along with the ban on nudity.

Fox argues that the FCC has been inconsistent in the way it deals with such "taboos"--allowing Bono of U2 to drop the "s-word" in a live broadcast--and allowing ABC to show frontal nudity as part of its airing of Schindler's List in prime time--but leveling fines against them for the "f-bomb" and against CBS for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in the Super Bowl.  Fox believes the networks themselves should be allowed to decide what is and is not suitable for broadcast.

Let's be honest, the "broadcast standards" have been lowered for years now.  In fact, two of Carlin's original 7 Dirty Words are now used in prime time fairly regularly (piss and shit).  And both male and female body parts have been displayed on shows like NYPD Blue.  Of course, at one time, even married characters had to sleep in seperate beds--and you couldn't show a toilet in a bathroom.

The only issue I have with the networks going "uncensored" is that their arguments aren't about "freedom of speech" or "artistic liberty"--they are about ratings.  You'll notice the big hits on TV today: "Mad Men", "Walking Dead" and "Entourage" are all on cable--with its already relaxed standards on profanity and sexuality.  The folks at Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS think that their shows are being hurt because their characters still have to say "gosh dang it" and "phooey"--while keeping their underwear on.  But, if you were able to tease a topless scene involving a certain actress on "Modern Family" or a bottomless scene involving a certain detective on "Castle"--you could expect a huge ratings. 

But only for that first time.  Once people get accustomed to seeing that type of thing wears off, the novelty factor is lost and rating go right back to what they once where.  In the meantime, kids tuning in get a real "education" their parents may not want them to have at the age of six.  If you want a perfect example, watch the "South Park" episode where they use the "s-word" 200-times in a half-hour show.  It's humorous the first five or six times--but by the end of the show you wish that you would never hear the word again.  And ironically, that is exactly the point the writers were trying to get across.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Year Without a Winter

With all due respect to ice fishermen, snowmobilers and ski hill operators--I could live with this kind of winter every year in Wisconsin.  No major snowstorms, no prolonged periods of below zero temperatures, not even a windchill warning. 

It's amazing the benefits that come with a milder winters in these parts.  Lower home heating bills mean less budgetary pressure on low-income families living in draftier houses.  Decreased demand for natural gas and home heating oil keeps prices lower for all customers.  The homeless are at less risk for hypothermia and warming shelters aren't overwhelmed on bitter cold nights.  With no snow and ice, slip and fall incidents are nearly non-existant.  It's been safer for kids to walk to school and for seniors to walk in store parking lots. 

We haven't had any stories yet about people having heart attacks shoveling their driveways.  We haven't had any major pileups on snow-covered Highway 41 and school districts haven't had to cancel or delay class days because of heavy snow.

Counties and cities haven't had to pay overtime to plow drivers for 18-hour shifts trying to clear the roads in blizzards.  Salt supplies are well stocked.  Crews have been able to spend more time doing maintenance work.  The Highway 41 project is moving ahead of pace--as workers don't have to battle the elements and the construction season is extended.

People are being more active--choosing to walk in the mild temperatures instead of just sitting on the couch watching the snow fly outside the window.  Golf courses are making some totally unexpected revenues by catering to January players.  Without snow cover, deer and other animals are finding food more easily--meaning a bigger herd for hunters next year.  Birds aren't stressed nearly as much by lack of food and warmth--with some migratory species not even bothering to leave this year.

Before all you climate change alarmists start telling me about the damage to polar bear habitat and the ice caps, keep in mind that the Arctic is seeing a fairly average winter so far.  Just ask the people of Nome, Alaska if they are concerned about mild temperatures in Wisconsin right now--as they need to have the Naitonal Guard and Russian ice breaker ships called in to get them emergency supplies of fuel and food due to way-above-normal amounts of snow and cold they have had so far this season.  We are catching a a more northerly jet stream this year thanks to La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.  Our friends in Canada just a couple hundred miles north of us are still in the teens for highs this week.

However, if this kind of winter is going to be the "new normal" in Wisconsin--caused by global warming or not--then sign me up.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nice Timing

The old adage is "Timing is everything"--and that was never more true than this past weekend.

Take for instance, our learning that former Appleton Police Chief David Walsh "earned" himself an extra $10,400 payout from the city by resigning from his position on January 3rd--rather than December 31st.  By "working" the first three days of 2012, Walsh made himself eligible to collect all five weeks of vacation that he "wasn't able to take" by quitting his job.  In addition, Walsh got a full month of taxpayer-funded health and dental insurance coverage as well.

In a time when public sector compensation is such a hot-button topic, Walsh's three-day "bonus" doesn't help to calm any emotions.  Of course, the Appleton Police and Fire Commission is complicit in this boondoggle.  They had to know that allow Walsh to "hang on" for that extra half-week would cost the city thousands--but they signed off on the January 3rd resignation date.  Why didn't they say "Sorry, Jim--but your last day is going to be December 31st."  What was he going to do?  Quit?

Another example of nice timing comes from soon-to-be-former Oshkosh School Superintendent Don Viegut--who announced he is qutting at the end of the school year to head up CESA 8.  If I was a parent in the Oaklawn Elementary area, I would be marching upon the District Administration Building with pitchforks and torches--since Mr Viegut has pretty much screwed your chance of finally getting a new school.  Do you really think Oshkosh voters are going to rally around a lame-duck Superintendent as he tries to sell the "investment in our future" a new school would represent?

In another "thumb in the eye" to taxpayers, Viegut's plan to stay on through June 30th gets the search firm that recommended him for the position off the hook.  It didn't get a lot of publicity at the time, but the contract the School Board signed with the firm provided the district with a guarantee that if Viegut didn't work here for at least two years, they would conduct another search FREE OF CHARGE.  But of course, by staying on through the end of June, Viegut reaches the two year deadline--and the district will have to pay full-price for help on another search.  Thanks for that "commitment", Don.

I guess it would be good timing to point out now that former District Finance Director Todd Gray is in his fourth year as Waukesha School Superintendent--and getting good reviews in that position.  Gray was rejected as a finalist for the Oshkosh Superintendent position by the School Board back in 2008--because he was "too much of a numbers guy" and not focused enough on "progressive educational ideas".  (Of course Gray and his wife didn't run in the same social circles as Karen Bowen and Amy Weinsheim--so that hurt his chances as well.  I'm sure those two are telling their friends today "If we had just hired David Gundlach--and someone else to supervise his wife--we wouldn't be in this mess again"). 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Obama vs Obama

You know who I would like to see run against President Barack Obama this year?  2008 Illinois Senator Barack Obama.  Senator Obama would probably have a lot of issues with President Obama--and the spirited (and scripted) debates would make for some very entertaining television.

Senator Obama would take President Obama to task for keeping American troops in Afghanistan for four years--and in Iraq for more three additional years.  Senator Obama would decry President Obama's use of warrantless wiretapping of US citizens--arguing that state secrets are warrant alone for maintaining a practice Senator Obama promised to end.  Senator Obama would rail against President Obama sending in warplanes to provide support to rebel fighters in Libya--as Senator Obama pointed out that the 'President does not have the power to unilaterally authorize a military attack without imminent threat to the nation."

Senator Obama would also attack President Obama for continuing to keep open the "most egregious example of human rights violations in our history"--Guantanamo Bay.  Senator Obama would whip his liberal followers into a frenzy by pointing out the President Obama continues to hold terror suspects indefinitely--and just recently granted himself the power to hold American citizens without charges or trial--again indefinitely.  I can hear the laughter and the howls that Senator Obama would draw as he points out President Obama's promise that he would "never use that power myself".

Senator Obama would give President Obama a slight pat on the back for taking on trillions of dollars worth of health care expenses--but would quickly jab the President for not going to the only "fair" route and establish a single-payer system for all citizens.  Senator Obama would question President Obama's deporting more illegal aliens in his three years in office than the evil President Bush did in eight.  And Senator Obama would be leading the calls for the dismissal of Attorney General Eric Holder for authorizing "Operation Fast and Furious"--mocking the idea that giving Mexican drug cartels weapons to see what might happen is without a doubt the stupidest law enforcement strategy in the history of the country.

So lets fix the Flux Capacitor on the DeLorean and go back in time to bring 2008 Senator Barack Obama to 2012 to take on President Barack Obama.  We'll call it "Hope and Change" versus "Reality and the Status Quo".

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rewriting History....Again

You know what job must be really difficult nowadays?  American History textbook writer.  I say that because states continue to add more and more "requirements" to what must pass as American History.  The latest example comes from California--where a new law went into effect this week that requires schools to teach about Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gendered persons who "contributed to the history of the country and the state."  That is in addition to requirements that were already on the books requiring the inclusion of women, Native Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans and unions.

As I read through the list, I thought about a comedy skit I saw once where a director went to his studio executives to pitch an adaptation of Shakespeare--and the producers said they would green light the project--but only if he added a nude scene, a car chase, a shootout and a bunch of explosions.  And that it starred Adam Sandler.

Does that mean that American History texts should exclude any "minority" group?  No.  Students need to know that the Womens Temperance Union was the driving force behind the ill-fated Prohibition of alcohol.  They need to discuss the differences between early African-American leaders like Nat Moore, Frederick Taylor and W.E.B. DuBois as to whether former slave owners should have assets taken away and given to former slaves--or if Blacks should work toward self-sufficiency on their own.  Texts should include Democratic President Andrew Jackson forcing the Native tribes of Florida to march the Trail of Tears to their new "home" in Oklahoma and Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt requiring the internment of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and on the West Coast during World War II.  Even Democratic President Harry Truman threatening to draft striking coal miners in 1946 so the northern half of the US wouldn't freeze to death deserves a short section in a text.

The main problem with "re-writing" history to be more "inclusionary" of specific segments of the population is that it fails to provide the proper perspective on what is really important to know and understand.  In the promotion of gays and lesbians you are going to have to base a lot of "fact" on supposition for the first 500 years of the country--and promote very minor characters in much larger events.  Take for instance Friedrich von Steuben--the German military veteran who trained Washington's troops during the winter at Valley Forge--who was "believed to be gay"?  Does he need to be promoted to an elevated level of historical importance now?  And what difference does his sexuality make on how he trained those troops on European fighting techniques?

Abraham Lincoln was long rumored to have "lain with men" before his marriage.  Does that mean students need to debate his sexuality--instead of why he believed so strongly in fighting to preserve the Union?  Is James Buchanon to be elevated into the pantheon of Washington and Lincoln because he was the first "Gay President?"  Do his diary entries about "wooing" other men--and Democrat Andrew Jackson calling him "Miss Nancy"--deserve precious limited pages of a textbook?  Eleanor Roosevelt is believed to have been a lesbian.  How much of that needs to be covered in a class report on the Depression and the New Deal?

And don't think that these laws passed in California don't affect kids here in Wisconsin.  California and Texas are the largest textbook purchasers in the country--and publishers don't make texts specific to those states--so what is required there become "required" here.  We won't get into Texas requiring evolution be taught only as a "theory" in biology and science textbooks--that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish we don't have time to get into right now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Election Stuff

This is my day to be disappointed in my fellow citizens.  For 11 months every year I get calls in the Newsroom and emails from people complaining endlessly about the City Council, the School Board and the County Board.  But in the first week of January, just a handful of people file candidacy papers to run for those bodies.  This year, there will be just four contested races for the Winnebago County Board.  One of those is for a vacant seat and John Daggett is running in the other one so that really doesn't count.  There will be no change on the Oshkosh Common Council as John Daggett is the only challenger to the three incumbents.  And the Oshkosh School Board will have two incumbents and two newcomers vying for three open seats--and of course John Daggett will be taking up a spot on the ballot as well.  Maybe my responses to the complaints from now on should include directions on how to file candidacy papers as well.

Speaking of the Oshkosh School Board, the UW-Oshkosh influence there could be growing again.  Challenger Kelli Saginak is an associate professor at UWO.  If she was to win, that would make three University employees filling seven of the seats.  That makes it a serious challenger to the "Secret Government" that the black helicopter crowd believes is running things here in Oshkosh.

Elsewhere, I hope Rick Santorum enjoys his one week of fame.  New Hampshire is where Evangelicals-Who-Do-Well-In-Iowa go to die.  The headline a week from this morning after the "First in the Nation Primary" will be "Can Anyone Stop Mitt?" 

This might also be a good day to tune in for Rush Limbaugh from 11 until 2 on WOSH.  "The Man Who Controls The Republican Party" apparently has some work to do on his "controlling of the party".  Does Rush suddenly dump Newt Gingrich and jump on the Santorum bandwagon?  Or--gasp!--does he warm up to Mitt?  Should be entertaining radio.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Explaining Ron Paul

I had someone ask me recently what is the appeal of Ron Paul as a Presidential candidate.  Paul heads into the Iowa Caucuses tonight neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney for the lead in the polls--despite getting ZERO attention from the cable news networks.  I gave that person my new answer to explain Ron Paul: He is Barack Obama for people who actually know something about politics.  By that, I mean that when Ron Paul speaks everybody is able to hear what they want to hear.

In 2008, Barack Obama was truly a blank canvas upon which a majority of voters painted their own picture.  He was young and optimistic, hip and funny, he was multi-cultural and he didn't have a twenty year voting record in Congress to actually define his stances on anything--all he really promised was "hope and change--so anything you hoped for or you wished would change became "his" platform--to you.  Now, those voters have found out that President Obama is not an agent of "change" and everything they "hoped" they would get they did not.

So enter Ron Paul to become the new voice of the disaffected.  For those of us Deficit Hawks we hear him talk about reducing government spending and balancing the books (the only candidate to do so in the 2008 campaign).  Those opposed to expansion of government hear him talk about limiting Federal powers to those only contained within the Constitution.  The anti-war crowd hears him talk about bring the troops home immediately.  The Occupy crowd hears him talking about doing away with the Federal Reserve and breaking down the big banks.  The potheads hear him talk about ending the war on drugs.  Gay rights activists hear him say he doesn't care who gets married to whom.  The Tea Party hears him talk about doing away with the IRS.  Even the anti-Semites hear him talking about ending unquestioned support for Israel.  Like the Apostles who spoke in tongues in the Bible--everyone hears Ron Paul talking their language.

But by being everyone's candidate, Ron Paul is no one's candidate.  Even if he was elected by some major miracle, he would have ZERO political base in Washington.  As other pundits have pointed out, there is no "Ron Paul Caucus" in Congress.  Outside of the deficit reduction idea, he would have no chance of passing any of the other legislative ideas he proposes--and Washington would be plunged into even deeper gridlock.

I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 as a form of protest against two other candidates who were only talking about new ways to spend even more money we don't have.  If he somehow was the GOP candidate in November, I'll be writing in Paul Ryan on my ballot--as a form of protest against two candidates who have no ability to lead a country.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I've Got A Really Bad Feeling About This

Normally, I am a huge Wisconsin Badger booster.  I predicted back in September that Bucky would go 12-1 this season, win the (insert stupid name here) Division of the Big Ten and capture the inaugural (money grab) Conference Championship Game.  I was one loss shy of getting all of that right.  I also predicted a Badger victory in today's Rose Bowl game.

But this morning, I do not have a very good feeling about that prediction.  I thought back in September that Wisconsin would be taking on Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal as the Pac-12 Champions.  Stanford is much like the Badgers.  They play a pro-set offense, like to run the ball and they aren't particularly fast at the skill positions or on defense.

Unfortunately (for Wisconsin), their actual opponent today--the Oregon Ducks--are anything but slow.  They run a play ever 15 seconds on offense in a spread formation, read-option that for two decades now the Badgers have shown no ability to stop or even slow down.  It is the WORST possible matchup for a Wisconsin team that struggles to make tackles in space, cover fleet wide receivers downfield and cover kickoffs and punts.

Am I throwing in the towel on Bucky today?  Absolutely not!  There is a way for this slow-footed bunch of Midwestern kids to actually pull out a win today--and its the same formula that unfortunately was not followed in the last Rose Bowl game--GROUND AND POUND!

As much as I like Russell Wilson, I hope he doesn't throw a single pass of more than ten yards today.  If I was Wisconsin Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst, I would make it my goal to set the Rose Bowl record for time of possession.  Run the ball between the tackles every play--all day.  Hopefully Montee Ball got a good night's rest because he should be looking at 40-carries today--with James White getting another 20.  Six, eight minute drives that end in one-yard touchdown plunges by Montee Ball should be enough to overcome a kickoff return for a TD, a punt return for a TD and a blocked punt to set up another TD for Oregon and give the Badgers a 42-40 win over the Ducks today.

Please Bret and Paul, RUN THE BALL ALL DAY LONG!!