Archive for December, 2009

No holiday from local politics…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 30, 2009 by Jim Rosenberg

Yes, I’ve taken the Amsterdam-Detroit flight on a number of occasions.  They do a secondary security screening at the gate in Amsterdam, but not with a metal detector.  Some international flights elsewhere do that and the last one I recall was Bangkok to Tokyo last year.  

As I recall, much of the security at Amsterdam Schiphol is handled by I-SEC, an international contractor specializing in aviation security:

With all of the focus on the TSA, the Dept. of Homeland Security and U.S. airports, it’s important to remember that this was an inbound international flight.  That’s not to say there isn’t a concern with domestic flights, as the September 11 attacks made clear.  It’s just that I think some of the discussion and coverage of this latest incident seems misdirected and leaves out important elements.

Some of the “new” practices I’ve heard about following the latest incident such as keeping people in their seats and not allowing anything on laps for the last hour of the flight strike me as ineffective, inconvenient gestures and not worthwhile improvements to flight safety.  And no, I don’t think that doing the wrong things for the right reasons is necessarily a justifiable response. I also don’t think the hysterical negative responses to following up on known risk factors by screaming “racial profiling” is a very realistic response to the nature of the threats that we know exist. Get serious, people.

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After the 2000 census, I sat on the redistricting committee for the city.  It wasn’t that big of a deal, since much of the heavy lifting is actually done at arm’s length with the help of software that is made to order for such things.  But as things turned out, it was a pretty good outcome.  The 1st District in the City of Wausau became a much more cohesive community of interests by consolidating into a relatively compact neighborhood on the west side of Grand Avenue from the south city limits to Thomas Street.  This also placed what had previously been my two biggest and most consistent pains in the butt into the 2nd District: a nightclub previously known as Vibes (which is now I.C. Willy’s) and the Humane Society, which is now in a new facility near Sunny Vale Park on Wausau’s far west side.  The city will need to set up another redistricting committee following the 2010 census and while the animals are no longer an issue in this neck of the woods, that nightclub is still a big pain.  Their license is suspended for 15 days from January 4-18 after this week’s meeting of the Public Health & Safety Committee.

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A letter from Rev. Gary Froseth at St. Stephen Lutheran Church offers some good discussion points for keeping Public Access cable on the air.  I hope that it gets good consideration.  Failing an outright reversal of the mayor’s decision to close down Public Access at the end of January, Froseth calls for a task force of stakeholders to work out the issues, with the city continuing to fund the present operation until the end of June.  Assuming some kind of solution, he further asks for the city to provide $10,000 in annual funding for 10 years.  While we can argue whether Public Access is worth $90K each year, it is certainly worth SOMETHING and the pastor’s ideas seem well worth the time to explore.

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Deb Hadley, Bill Forrest and Tom Miller have announced that they will not seek new terms to the Wausau City Council in April.  Coupled with the vacancy in District 10 from the seat formerly held by Steve Foley, it means that at least one-third of the council will be new folks by the end of April. 

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Support for the City Square project has continued strong, following the announcement that a half million dollars has already been raised.  As of Sunday, the fundraising now exceeds $585,000.  With the Third Street project and traffic direction question now resolved, it should be an interesting year in the downtown next year.  Meanwhile, Main Street manager Leah Alters is off to Columbus for a new position so that will be another change in 2010. 


‘Tis the season…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2009 by Jim Rosenberg

So, I’ve taken some time off from the blog and in checking back today, on the cusp of Christmas, I see that the entry with the most hits is my recipe for prime rib.  That’s cool for a couple of reasons.  First is that I picked up a really awesome standing rib roast tonight at Pic & Save for $5.99/lb., which is a steal.  And I’m guessing some other people did, too.  If you didn’t, there’s still time and here are those fool-proof instructions:

You’re going to love it. 

The second reason is that it’s practically Christmas and I don’t feel like talking about politics, the health care bill or any of that stuff.  This is a time for family, food and reflection.  Next year, which will be upon us in a bit more than a week, will have plenty of opportunity for politics since it’s an election year.  But if you want to read a quick review of Sarah Palin’s book, here’s one from my favorite political commentator: 

I stopped by the Domino for a couple of Tom & Jerrys and they’re just as good as ever, so be sure to put that on your list of places to stop over the holidays, if you happen to be in town.  Tomorrow is “mens’ day” at the stores and I’ll probably have to join in — even though I don’t really get into Christmas shopping all that much.   The weather looks like it’s going to be bad, so I’m happy that we’re not traveling and you have my sympathy, if you are.  There is a bottle of Chandon chilling for New Year’s Eve and some foie gras at the ready. 

Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to all.


Turning off the noise in Europe

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2009 by Jim Rosenberg

A number of years ago, we got into the habit of traveling for Thanksgiving weekend.  It started out because it was difficult to string together a useful number of days off at other times of the year and it has since become an annual tradition that is a particularly welcome and timely respite that falls between the muncipal budget season and — every other year — the municipal election season.  In short, it’s a great time to leave the country and leave it all behind.

Having the Euro going for $1.50 U.S. isn’t such a great backdrop for European travel right now and we can fondly recall when it was as low as 87 cents.  But for all we know, a Euro could be $2 next year — so what’s the point in giving it all up over the exchange rate?  With a stash of frequent flier miles and hotel points to play with, the transportation and lodging part of the game was easy enough to cover so the trip wasn’t very pricey on an overall basis regardless (and they can change the rules on that stuff, too — another reason not to wait for better times.) 

For this trip, we chose Amsterdam and Paris because they’re familiar and there’s nothing left for us to have to figure out.  One of the things that makes it all so convenient is a great transportation system that will do everything from take you in from the airport for a few Euros to taking you to all parts of Europe at reasonable rates.  After a couple of nights in Amsterdam, we took the high-speed Thalys train down to Paris for a few days of walking, shopping, eating and Bordeaux (along with the obligatory Beaujolais Nouveau, at this time of year.) 

I probably paid too much for the Thalys tickets because I wanted to have them in hand before we left the U.S., but at $108 roundtrip per person from Amsterdam to Paris, it’s still not a bad deal.  The train isn’t as fast during the first part of the trip because there are stops along the way at Schiphol, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Antwerp.  In addition, the rails haven’t been brought up to a standard that allows for the Thalys to reach it’s maximum potential.  But from Brussels to Paris, it really flies and that segment only takes an hour and 25 minutes. 

Once in Paris, the Metro system can drop you to within no more than 1,000 feet from any address in the city proper — (although it’s not such a bad idea to spend a lot of time walking, so we get around plenty by that mode, too.)  I left the guidebooks at home and it wasn’t a problem.  It’s Paris, so who cares where you end up?  That said, we still managed to hit a couple of the regular spots and they were everything we remember them for and more.  The weather was a little undecided, but comfortable enough in the 50s.

Heading back with some great cheese from Holland and a bit of foie gras from France, we were just a little bit better prepared to face the winter that was just beginning to arrive. 


Back in the loop…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2009 by Jim Rosenberg

It’s been a great week away from it all and I even left the cell phone turned off for a solid week.  There were many interesting experiences, but no time to write about any of them right now.  Things will be back to normal — whatever that is — soon enough.