Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another score for common sense: Bald Eagle saved from extinction. For now.

Hi folks,

People complain about environmental protection because it's inconvenient and because they don't see how it affects them personally, and deeply, and in a way that improves their lives.

Here's proof that it was -- and is -- a good idea, no matter how inconvenient.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Bald Eagle Will Be Removed From Endangered Species List

Conservationists called the eagle recovery a vindication of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which has been under attack from property rights and business groups, and the subject of internal review at the Interior Department. Environmentalists worry changes in implementing the law will make it harder keep plants and animals from disappearing, especially ones lacking the symbolism of the bald eagle.

"No other species has that advantage," says Michael Bean, an endangered species expert at Environmental Defense. "It's the national symbol."

The kind of legislation that threatens our national symbol also threatens our nation.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Paris Hilton syndrome -- you can help save these kids.

Hi folks,

Just bumped into this on So much for the idea that the wealthiest Americans want to pull their weight.

Paris Hilton syndrome and how to avoid it.

Here's an excerpt:

Up to $15 trillion will be passed down to the children of millionaires between 2002 and 2052, according to a study by the Boston College Social Welfare Institute. Much of that will be passed down from baby boomers (and even younger parents) to their kids. While economists differ on the exact amounts that will be passed down, few doubt that the wealth boom of the past decade will create a cascade of cash flowing to the next generation.

A survey by Prince & Associates, a wealth research firm, found that most millionaires today plan to leave at least 75% of their estates to their children. The number is highest for families with households worth $25m or more, disproving the widely held notion that wealthier families are more likely to leave a greater share to charity.

And yet, the President keeps asking for more tax breaks for Ms. Hilton. Why is that?


Sunday, June 24, 2007

The recent tempest in West Bend's tea cup.

Hi folks,

Wow, you go away for a few weeks and .... well...

Here's what happened:
  • A majority of the city council, in accordance with the law, appointed an interim mayor.
  • A minority of city council members didn't want to.
  • The minority members initially walked out to stall the appointment and then later complained bitterly because they didn't get their way.
Mike Nichols summed it up in the Journal like this:

West Bend Ald. Scott Frederick is warning everyone that "the city of West Bend has just reached a new level of corruption."

Quick, somebody call in the FBI!

And Steve Biskupic!

Convene a grand jury!

So this is where Tony Soprano went.

Scott's reaction seems a bit over the top at first, but, if you look back over the last few years you could see it coming. He's unhappy about more than this one vote. His view of West Bend is, increasingly and now explicitly, becoming a minority view.

In fact, the council members who walked out in order to stall the appointment of Ms. Deiss have spent much of the last few years practicing the politics of "Just Say No" -- to everything. Funding education, good sewers, working with instead of against their colleagues on City Council: no No NO. They don't seem to like anything that's happening here.

Let's dub them "The Gang of No."

Anyway, the idea providing a little reasonable continuity in the mayor's office until the election next April got a "NO" from them as well. And some whining.

Mr. Nichols concludes this way:

He [Frederick] made the comment after acting mayor Kris Deiss was appointed interim mayor, an entirely logical move that provides a little continuity in government until an election can be held next April.

In West Bend, it seems, "corruption" is just another word for Scott Frederick not getting his way.

We still have to live together, even when we disagree -- so, Scott? Take a deep breath and get back to work, will ya?

Allen, Terry? You too.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The West Bend referendum: a chance to guarantee the future.

The West Bend School board is going to ask for a funding increase to help us catch up with our neighboring communities and keep our students competitive. Charlie Hillman, our capable and clear-headed school board president made this clear to the Journal.

West Bend has one of the lowest per-student costs of all state districts, and the district's property tax rate is below its neighbors, such as Cedarburg, Slinger and Germantown, Hillman said.

Approving the referendum would add about $1.80 per $1,000 of equalized value to the district's current tax rate of $6.35 per thousand, according to Hillman. At $8.15 per thousand, West Bend would remain below the statewide average school district tax rate.

Charlie also showed up in Mike Nichols column on Sunday making the compelling argument that, while the referendum might be a bit of a long shot, he believes it is possible and necessary. He's right.

Hillman points out that both per pupil spending and the tax rate in the district are far, far below average. He also points out that, even if the referendum passes, the rate will remain below average.

So, it's cost effective, will still keep our rates low, and -- and here's the only important thing -- it will make sure our kids get the kind of education that will keep them competitive in the global marketplace.

Listen up folks: I just got back from a month in Shanghai, China and it's lit a fire under me. The Chinese now have a middle class nearly the size of our entire population, most of them speak pretty good English, they're taking capitalism serioiusly and, most alarming of all, they're optimistic about their future. They think they could be the next America. If we do nothing, they will be.

Most school age kids in that middle class (because of the One Child Policy) have four grandparents and no cousins. All four grandparents focus their whole attention on the well being of that one grandchild. I can tell you from first hand experience that they spend every waking hour doing nothing but making sure that kid has a great education and will be prepared for the future.

If we scrimp on educating our next generation... well, hell, anyone can do the math from here.