Archive for January, 2010

So, how ’bout those, uh, BADGERS!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 25, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

So, the Badgers mens basketball team hangs in for the win against Penn State.  🙂

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What an incredible NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Vikings!  I would have liked to see the Vikings win, but five turnovers will kill you just about every time.  A lot is being made of Favre’s last interception.  It wasn’t good, but I felt that some of the earlier turnovers in the game were more important to the eventual outcome.  Not scoring at the end of the first half because of a turnover and another that resulted in a New Orleans touchdown really had more to do with what ended up on the scoreboard, to me. 

When you have 31 first downs compared to 15 and 475 yards of offense compared to 257 and more than 50 yards less in penalty yardage, your team should come out on top.  But like a lot of other things in life, being able to avoid costly mistakes can sometimes be more valuable than anything else.  Seeing the Saints go to the Super Bowl is a pretty good thing for New Orleans and I’m way past allowing people who get paid a lot of money as entertainers being able to really dictate my mood. 

Being a Vikings fan is probably a lot like being a Cubs fan.  In the back of your mind, you just know how it is almost certainly going to end, at some point.  What I really can’t understand is why fans of teams that came up short much earlier now seem to feel like they have achieved some kind of victory.  Sorry, but other people losing isn’t the same as you winning — and that’s like a lot of other things in life, too.

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Democrat Dana Schultz of Athens is running for the 87th Assembly district seat currently held by Republican Mary Williams.  This could prove to be an interesting race and it has been fairly close for Williams in the past:

Dana is a Newman High School grad and should bring a lot of energy to the race. 

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Colder weather is on the way, after Mother Nature giving us a serious break over the past couple of weeks.  The good news is that we are now officially over the hump, in terms of average daily temperatures.  (I’m not hauling out the scooter, but just saying…)

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It is estimated that 150,000 people in Haiti have been buried so far following the devastating earthquake that took place almost two weeks ago:

If everyone steps up a bit, we can make a difference.


Politics Thursday…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 21, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

Another day in Madison…

So I was in the capitol yesterday and it happened to be “Medical Marijuana Lobby Day and Patient Memorial” day.  Of course, that’s not what I was there for.  One of the associations of which I’m a member had a half dozen issues they were taking around to legislative offices and that was part of my mission.  I also stopped in on an informational hearing concerning proposed legislation arising from the state’s Global Warming Task Force.  While there, I ran into Bill Osmulski, investigative journalist for the MacIver Institute, which is a conservative think tank.  I’ve always said the majority of what I get done results from accidents arising from being in the right place at the right time.   Yesterday was no exception. 

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The Massachusetts election to fill the remaining portion of Ted Kennedy’s term has brought the usual overanalysis from pundits across the country.  Here’s what I think:

1.  It’s one election for two and half years in the U.S. Senate in one state.  It’s not a nationwide mandate, any more than New York’s 23rd Congressional Distict going Democrat from GOP last November was. 

2.  It was a good win for the GOP and it changes the dynamics of the U.S. Senate a bit — but that’s NOT what the people of Massachusetts were voting about.  They were voting for a new U.S. Senator and they picked the candidate that they thought would best serve them. 

3.  While Ted Kennedy held the seat for decades, that is not who Scott Brown beat.  And while the Dems have held the seat via Kennedy, it’s also a state that elected Mitt Romney governor.  Brown is right about one thing: it’s the people’s seat — not the property of any party.

I do think that significant improvement in the employment picture before November will be very important to the Democrats’ prospects in November.  As the party with the majority, they are also the party with the most to lose this fall.  That’s true in Wisconsin and it’s true across the nation. 

All politics are local department…

A couple of interesting items at City Hall tonight.  First, a group of bicyclists — “Critical Mass Wausau” — will be convening at 4:45 p.m. at Cafe Le Grand and proceeding down to City Hall for a 5:15 p.m. meeting in an effort to improve safety at the intersection of Thomas and Grand.  I don’t know if I agree with their proposed solution, but it’s a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and cyclists and something needs to be done about it.  One of the biggest problems in Wausau is the steadfast refusal of vehicle drivers to EVER yield the right of way to pedestrians. 

The second item is a 7 p.m. informational meeting about the planned demise of Public Access television at the end of the month.  My bias is to try to keep Public Access and I will be very interested in seeing what kinds of solutions are offered.  We may want to take some more time on this one before just letting everything go dark.

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John Edwards FINALLY fesses up on the paternity thing.  Shocking, huh?


Well shut my mouth!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

We had some really obnoxious Cowboys fans in the row behind us at the Vikings game in Minneapolis yesterday.  But they got pretty quiet well before halftime and they left early, too.  At 40 years old and with the Vikings taking their playoff run on the road to New Orleans this coming weekend, it’s highly possible that yesterday will turn out to have been the last chance to see Brett Favre play an NFL game within 1,000 miles of here.  Whether or not that’s true, it was a great game to see.  I dropped a souvenir rally towel off for Stacy Cole over at WIFC.  She’s played the role of persecuted Vikings fan over there for years and she deserves a week to wave that towel any time she wants to. 

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Tom Schuette hosts yet another GOP announcement at Wausau Homes this week; this one for Madison real estate developer Terrence Wall, who is running against U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.  Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Barrett will be in Wausau tomorrow to get his campaign rolling with a visit to the Wausau Business Development Center in the afternoon and an evening fundraiser.  Barrett had a lot of support in these parts for the 2002 primary against Jim Doyle and he’s been mayor of Milwaukee for nearly a half dozen years now.

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For the record, January 20-24 are the coldest average days of the year.  After that, the daily average temperatures begin to warm up.  With the present state of the weather in these parts, that may not turn out to be true this year.  One thing is for sure: as of later this week, we begin to climb out of this thing known as winter.  There will be more cold and snow to come, but we’ve made it through the first half and in some ways, we’ve been kind of lucky.


Travel stuff…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

I see that City Pages has posted this web address as a place where people might find some of my travel stuff, but if you came for that reason, you’re having to wade through a lot of political stuff with not too much TRAVEL.  There are a couple of places where I’ve posted things over the years more in line with the travel theme.  One is: 

It’s not all GREAT stuff, but you might pick up an idea or two from places I’ve been and whatever notes I may have entered. 

I also sometimes review hotels where I’ve stayed.  It’s kind of fun and you can do it, too.  Here are some reviews over the past half dozen years or so: 

Happy travels!

Feingold on war; new race in the 35th Assembly District?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

Speaking to a group of supporters in Wausau yesterday, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reiterated that he respectfully disagrees with President Obama’s Afghanistan policy, just as he disagreed with the Iraq War. Trying to bring the complicated scenarios to ground level, Feingold suggested that people think of the terrorist threat in the Middle East as if was a street gang that works in a large neighborhood of a city. So there’s an incident in some alley in the neighborhood and you send all the police there and say ‘well, we’ve got that alley under control now.’ It doesn’t work. They’re just going to show up somewhere else and it’s going to happen over and over again.

It makes a lot of sense.

Feingold also said that while the health care bill is far from perfect, it is a significant accomplishment that moves things in the right direction and it needs to be passed while the opportunity to do that is here.

Also in attendance was Wisconsin Attorney General candidate and former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett. (His last shot at elective office, ironically, was a primary contest for state senate back in the early 1980s against Russ Feingold. Today, he says he’s grudgingly willing to concede that the best person may have won that contest.) Hassett says GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has pursued a partisan agenda in which he picks and chooses when he will defend the State of Wisconsin and when he will sit on his hands.

As usual, the best tidbits were under wraps or simply matters of speculation by various attendees.

First was the thought that Kevin Hermening is running for 29th Senate District against Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker primarily to position himself for a shot at Dave Obey’s 7th U.S. Congressional District seat at some point in the future. It makes some sense, because as difficult as it might be to unseat Decker, it isn’t nearly as tall of an order as Sean Duffy will have going directly after Obey this year. As an incumbent already holding office in a good-sized chunk of geography in the 7th gaining recognition and coverage for a few years, a person would be in a far better position to take the congressional seat someday. That would be particularly true if the congressman ever retires and the race becomes one for an open seat. Republicans represent two of the three Assembly districts in the 29th already. Of course, that is no guarantee of anything. Democrat Jim Holperin represents the 12th Senate District with all three Assembly seats comprising it held by the GOP.

Could the 35th Assembly District heat up?

Republicans can’t just assume that any off-year gains they’re likely to make on the national scene will assure them of wins back home in Wisconsin. One rumor: That Republican 35th Assembly District Representative Don Friske may not be looking forward to doing another term in Madison. Friske is a likeable guy and he has won re-election by decent margins. But he also has a business and being in the minority isn’t that much fun because it’s far more difficult to influence policy. (Incidentally, we have nothing from Friske to indicate this is even a remote possibility, but it’s January, after all.)

Democrat Jay Schmelling has run for the seat in the past and he’s still showing up in the right places where a potential candidate should, but it doesn’t necessarily make him the presumptive front-runner or even a candidate if the seat goes open. Another possibility is former Merrill Area Public School Board member Renea Frederick. She and her husband, Todd, are well known and have been politically active for years. They are co-founders of FM Enterprises, which was acquired by Graham Architectural Products of Pennsylvania last July – a development that brought Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton to Merrill for the announcement. The acquisition was expected to add 60 jobs in Merrill over the next two years and coming  during the depths of the recession as it did was quite a story. It also presumably leaves Frederick with resources, an attractive resume — and perhaps the time and desire to pursue something like public office at a higher level. She didn’t rule it out.



Politics Friday…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 8, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg
It’s been a halfway interesting week. The filing deadline for Wausau City Council candidates was Tuesday and we have nine of 12 seats being contested, with February primaries in four of those. Here is the candidate roundup:

District 1: Jim Rosenberg, Roland “Sonny” Neitzel
District 2: Greg Foye, Romey Wagner, Jay Carlson
District 3: Craig Gardner, Chuck Szalewski, Jonahtan Havel, Matthew Sann
District 4: Jim Brezinski
District 5: Gary Gisselman
District 6: Gary Lee Klingbeil, Edward Marek
District 7: Lisa Rasmussen
District 8: Karen Kellbach, Chris Barr
District 9: Matthew Kaiser, David Overbeck
District 10: David Nutting, Chuck Gering, Dan McMullen
District 11: Sherry Abitz, Debra Weiss, Tom Wohlfahrt
District 12: Ed Gale, Cody VanRyn

I’m not surprised to have an opponent on the city side because that is the rule, rather than the exception. It’s a good district with active participation and in addition to whatever issues are aired during the course of the campaign, I can always use the exercise. (I just hope the sidewalks will be a little less treacherous in the coming months than they seem to be right now.) I’m also not surprised to be running unopposed for the county board, because that is also the rule, rather than the exception. Only four of the 38 seats on the Marathon County Board will feature contested races for April.

Particularly in urban districts, county board seats don’t seem to draw a lot of attention. This is no reflection on the importance of the issues, since the county is often dealing with long-term and sometimes very wrenching issues for which any immediate gratification by way of solutions can be very elusive. It’s a much larger and more complicated organization, with extensive responsibilities. But for whatever reason, it doesn’t capture the attention that city politics “enjoys.” With a dozen years on the Wausau City Council, I’m the longest currently serving elected official by far. At the county, that might take me a third of the way up the seniority chart. In terms of atmosphere, the county board is like the staid and collegial Senate compared to the city council being the rough and tumble House of Representatives. It’s just the way it is.

Hermening going after Decker’s seat

Republican Kevin Hermening announced on Wednesday that he is running for the 29th Senate District seat held by Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker. I had breakfast with him a few weeks ago at the Mint and I think he spent quite a bit of time over the past few months meeting with a lot of different people from all areas of the political spectrum. This will be an interesting race to watch. While polling data for things like this is almost never available to the public, the manner in which funding shows up usually gives some indicators as to whether a particular race is competitive. Simply put, campaigns are expensive and neither party has enough in the way of resources to go all in on races that they don’t have some reason to believe that they have an opportunity to win. There will be a GOP primary in September and I expect Hermening to be able to emerge from that handily, but what happens in November will have a lot to do with some mega factors that will extend far beyond the district or even the state.

Our breakfast was at 6:30 a.m. – a time obviously not chosen by me. “This is why you were a Marine and I was in the Air Force,” I told Kevin. “In the Air Force, we will be happy to fly over in our planes at 10 a.m. and drop some bombs for you — but we’re not sleeping in tents, carrying packs, eating bad food or anything like that, okay?”

If you go to San Francisco…

Every year for at least a decade, I’ve done a travel feature for the annual Get Outta Town issue of City Pages. In honor of the recession, I chose a domestic destination last year (New Orleans) and this year, we go to San Francisco. No matter what I write, there’s never enough room for everything but I try to pick destinations that can be both affordable and stimulating. I won’t say much more about it except that it will be 61 degrees in San Francisco today and they have fresh seafood. It is 16 degrees here right now (and that’s probably going to be the high…)