Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Notes on Planning Commission Meeting 3/21/11

Notes on Planning Commission Meeting 3/21/11 Patty Kubetz

I attended the Planning Commission Meeting last night. There was a lively discussion on several topics.

First was the potential sale of Lots 12 and 13 to Kiel Vet Clinic for expansion and various other uses. The plan presented includes expansion for more large animal treatment areas, expanded parking lot (allowing large trucks with trailers in and out of the lot), a boarding and daycare area, a crematory, an outdoor dog run, and a possible pet cemetery. The plan was approved, and will go before the Council at the April 12, 2011 meeting.

Second was the potential rezoning of Lots 8 and 9 in the Rockville Industrial Park for an assisted living facility similar to the one on Tekla Place in Kiel. The developer, Mike Check, along with the potential buyers, presented their plan to the Commission. They want to purchase both lots, have them re-zoned for residential use, and build an assisted living facility on the lots, with the possibility of expansion in the future. The Commission approved the rezoning; now it goes before the Council. This will be addressed at the April 5, 2011 Council Meeting.

The next item was the potential leasing of land from the City of Kiel to AT&T for a cell phone tower. This tower would be placed in a small area behind Tri-County Building Supply. The numbers that Dennis Dedering presented were $500 a month for 30 years. I raised my hand to comment and had the following information I shared with the Commission.

1) Aesthetic value. With the wanted/needed improvements to the City buildings (Fire Station, City Hall, Shopko Development, etc.) why would anyone want to have this 200 foot tower as one of the first things people see as they drive into Kiel from Sheboygan or Plymouth?
2) Financial value. $500 a month may seem like a good deal now, but with inflation realistically skyrocketing in the future, that $500 will be worth less and less as time goes on.
3) Health issues. This is of high interest to me, as I have seen and heard so much anecdotal evidence pointing to the dangers of the radio frequency waves (RF) and electromagnetic frequency waves (EMF). I was able, before the meeting, to print a copy of two studies done on the effect of radio frequency waves on humans and animals to back up my own stories. I presented this to the Commission, and there were those who listened with an open mind. The information I presented is as follows:
1. We currently have 4 cell towers in the City of Kiel.
2. We currently have 19 antennas in the City of Kiel.
3. There have not been many studies done on the health risks of the towers to humans and animals. While cell phone industry spokespeople continue to assert that the towers pose no health risks, nearly all scientists in this field would disagree, at the very least claiming that no such assurance can be given.
4. A study done in Germany found that the risk of cancers increased by 3.38 percent in the people living near the tower. Looking at the first 5 years, there was no significant risk , but for the following 5 years, the risk increased to 3.38%.
5. A study in Israel found a 4.15 percent increased risk of a variety of cancers in people living near a cell phone tower. Seven out of eight cancer cases were women.
6. A study in Germany, published in 1998, showed the effects of the RF waves/EMF waves. The herd was pastured near a cell phone tower. The resulting stress on the herd caused a “measurable drop in milk yield.” Relocating the herd restored the milk production. Moving them back to the original pasture recreated the problem.
7. I included several cases that I am familiar with near my mom's home in Bonduel, WI. One farmer, living across the road from a tower, reported that his previously healthy dairy herd had breeding problems, increased somatic cell counts, and decreased milk production within 4 months of the tower being erected. He placed a large sign with words to the effect of “Cell Phone Towers Killed My Farm” along the highway for a number of years.
8. A family living across the road from a tower lost their 21 year-old daughter to brain cancer within 4 years of the tower being erected. Now, several years later, they are facing losing another daughter to brain cancer as well.
9. Four miles south of the previous family, another family is dealing with multiple cases of cancer in their family, again, across the road from a cell phone tower.
4) I asked that the Commission take into account all the information before making a decision such as this, especially as they approved an assisted living facility not even a mile from the proposed tower site. As a final note on this, the Rockville subdivision is home to a large number of families with children. EMF and RF waves seem to cause the most destruction in children, as their bodies aren't fully developed. There have been tenuous ties made between families that have children who are autistic and the tower placement/exposure. The EMF and RF waves work against the body in the areas of weakness in each individual. That is one of the reasons that the studies don't show how dangerous the EMF and RF waves really are—they don't affect everyone in the same way.

The Commission agreed that, since the tower was only a proposal and they had no firm details or request from AT&T, that the issue would be tabled. I will continue to watch this and do all I can to protect the health of the citizens of Kiel.

The Commission approved the renewal of all of the Conditional Use Permits. There were a few minor changes, such as the incorrect name for one development, that will be addressed at the City Council Meeting on 3/22/11.

The Commission looked at a Certified Survey Map of the acreage east of Cemetery Road. A brief discussion on what to name the proposed street was tabled until such time as a business is actually located there.

Dennis gave a brief updated on the Shopko Development. Things seem to be moving along as they should at this point. The Planning Commission Meeting Public Hearing for TID Creation will be held on April 5, 2011 at 6:00pm. The Council Meeting will follow at 7:00pm.

The meeting then adjourned.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Please vote April 5th

Please vote on April 5th and choose my wife and I

America is a Constitutional Republic...NOT a Democracy

How often have you heard people refer to America as a Democracy? When was the last time that you heard America referred to as a Republic? There is a very good reason that our Pledge of Allegiance refers to our country as a Republic and there is a very good reason that our Declaration of Independence and our constitution do not even mentioned the word "democracy". Many people are under the false impression that our form of government is a democracy, or representative democracy. This of course is not true.

Our Founders were extremely knowledgeable about the issue of democracy and feared a democracy as much as a monarchy. They understood that the only entity that can take away the people's freedom is their own government, either by being too weak to protect them from external threats or by becoming too powerful and taking over every aspect of life. The Founders were deliberately doing everything in their power to prevent having a democracy here. This quote is from John Adams in 1814 "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

A Constitutional Republic does have some similarities to a democracy in that it uses a democratic processes to elect representatives and pass new laws, etc. The critical difference lies in the fact that a Constitutional Republic has a Constitution that limits the powers of the government. It also spells out how the government is structured, creating checks on its power and balancing power between the different branches. The goal of a Constitutional Republic was to avoid the extremes of a tyranny or dictator. However in the past few decades these checks and balances have been thrown off kilter by giving the Presidents given more power through signing statements. We also have "czars" that are not elected or even answer to congress.

In a Republic, the sovereignty resides with the people themselves. In a Republic, one may act on his own or through his representatives when he chooses to solve a problem. The people have no obligation to the government; instead, the government is a servant of the people, and is obliged to listen to its owner, We the People. Many people and politicians have seemed to have lost sight of that fact.

America today seems to be far from the Constitutional Republic our forefathers brought forth to us. The power seems to have switched from the people to the Government. The Founders believed that our rights were given to us from Natures God, not through regulations of the Government. They also believed that people might get things wrong, but "We the People" are smart enough to fix them and get it right.
I am asking again to have people to get involved in their government. To do this you need to take time to hold elected officials responsible by going to your school boards and city council meetings. Voice your opinion as the taxpayer; as the boss of those we have elected and of the people who work in the public sector.

Randy Kubetz
Wisconsin Citizens Involvement

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

City Council Meeting Notes 3/8/11

City Council Meeting Notes 3/8/11

I attended the March 8, 2011 Planning Commission and City Council meetings. Sorry about being late in getting the notes out.

The Planning Commission Meeting centered around the proposed Shopko Development at the corners of Hwy 67 and Rockville Road in Kiel (across from McDonalds). The Planning Commission approved their portion of the proposed Shopko plan after discussion with a representative from Shopko, a lawyer for Shopko, a representative from the construction company, (Smet Construction), the lawyer representing the sellers of the land in question, and Phil Cosson, the executive VP of Ehlers, (Kiel's financial lawyer).

The representative from Shopko, Mr. Pete VandenHouten, (sp?) CEO of Shopko, explained that the store they're looking to build would be about 35,000 square feet, with about 75% of the merchandise found in the larger Shopko stores in the bigger cities. There would also be a pharmacy and they would tailor the merchandise selection to cater to the area. Pricing is the same as the larger stores—same ads would go out to the public as the larger stores use.

The acreage needed by the Shopko store would be approximately 4.4 acres but Shopko would purchase 7 acres. Smet Construction assured the Planning Commission that they have interested parties interested in building/leasing the additional land from Shopko with a 5 year lease, with options to continue leasing in 3-5 time increments of 2-5 years. They are looking at a long-term investment in the City of Kiel.

Tom Ungrodt, lawyer for the sellers of the acreage, said his clients are willing to annex the remaining land to a TIF and to the city. That way, the entire parcel will be in the City of Kiel and the City has First Option to Buy the property in the future. The City of Kiel and Shopko would jointly purchase approximately 17 acres along Hwy 67/Rockville Road. The house that is currently on the property would then belong to the City. (Noises were made about the possibility of building the Police Station there and remodeling City Hall—that's for another discussion.)

Phil Cosson, from Ehlers, spoke to the creation of a mixed use TID to finance this venture with Shopko. A Public Hearing was set for April 5, 2011 at 6pm for the TID creation. In order for the TID to be mixed use, the 3 industrial lots currently held by the City would be part of the TID, as well as the annexed land held by the sellers.

The TID would be created to offset the costs of the land purchase by the City ($250,000); the water, sewer, street and storm sewer development ($500,000); and the Development Agreement between Shopko and the City of Kiel ($20,000). With the additional finance related expenses, the TIF would have to cover approximately $840,000. Shopko is estimating that their development would bring an approximate worth of $2,500,000 to the community.

The City Council Meeting was immediately following the Planning Commission Meeting. The Boy Scouts attended the Council Meeting.

The Council set the Public Hearing for the creation of the mixed use TID to finance the Shopko development and purchase of the land adjacent to the Shopko property. The Public Hearing will be on April 5, 2011 at 6pm.

The Council approved the Right of First Refusal to Windwalker, Inc. in regards to lot #3 in the Rockville Industrial Park.

The Council approved an additional $6,000 worth of soil borings at the Stoelting property to determine exactly how much soil needs to be removed to clean up this site. Annette Weissbach is requesting the additional borings be done, with the City incurring the costs. Mike Check, the developer, wanted to know if the TID covers the cost of the additional borings, as he doesn't want to have to pay the difference. (A personal observation here, the City has already incurred over $40,000 for legal fees, and is taking on another $6,000 in debt, without knowing positively that Ms. Weissbach will purchase the land.) There are grants available from the WDNR and Department of Commerce, but until those grants come through, the City is liable for the cost.

The City approved a bid for the completion of the construction on the Vollrath property at 503 9th Street in Kiel. The bid was from Homestead Enhancements, LLC in the amount of 13,800. This was to complete the roof on the addition, the siding and soffit on the addition and the installation of all windows necessary on the addition. The request for bids was published and only one bid came in. The cost will be added to the taxes for the property owner.

The last issue that came before the Council was a complaint about a resident allegedly repairing cars in his garage. The complaint came from the person who first instigated the fence issue last summer. The complainant stated that they have pictures of vehicles being dropped off, and vehicles in the yard, and “large trucks” dropping vehicles off. Dennis Dedering stated that he has spoken with the property owner and that the Police Chief has also observed the property. At this time, no action will be taken, but Council members are encouraged to drive by to observe whether this activity is a nuisance.

Respectfully submitted by Patty Kubetz

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Price of local electricity goes up

If you have noticed that the price for electricity was $.087 per KWH in January and is now at $.092 per KWH for February and March. This is not the price increase that will be going in affect in the near future.

I asked City Administrator Dennis Dedering and he said "The electric rate increase has not taken place, our costs for purchasing the power has gone up slightly. We are hoping to not have changes for purchased power over the next couple of years, if the federal government does not impose regulations which could impact costs for power."

So be aware of the 5% increase in electrical costs and price of gasoline. The cost of energy continues to climb but we are told that there is no inflation.

By: Randy Kubetz

Wisc Gov’t E-mails Reveal Plot to Stall Budget Repair Bill While New Union Contracts Signed

So you say it is a fair game between the government, the unions and the taxpayers?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UWM profs considering strike action tomorrow?

UWM profs considering strike action tomorrow?
by Vicki McKenna on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 5:47am

I am an instructor at UW-Milwaukee . Should any of the following information be used, I respectfully ask to remain anonymous.

According to a series of exchanges with colleagues across campus from various departments, there is a strong possibility of a campus-wide (and possibly a UW system-wide) strike beginning on Wednesday, March 2nd. I am attaching a copy of email communications that I received via a campus listserv from 2/22 to 2/28 in which the possibility of a “failed semester” was discussed and the potential impact on our students was debated. While it remains to be seen whether the strike is ultimately “called,” there are disturbing comments in these emails that reveal a crass disregard for our students, their families and their economic situations; likewise, there is (as one would expect with academics) an attitude of self-serving intellectual superiority that seeks to pit students against their own families. While this attitude has long been assumed, some of my colleagues revealed this as an actual sympathetic strategy to gain potential student allies and pit them against their families (many of whom are – unbeknownst to them - financing this attempted wedge) all for the sake of scoring political points.

Sadly, it appears as though many of my colleagues at UW-Milwaukee will attempt to accomplish their goals by “any means necessary” with little thought to the collateral damage to our students. This is why I am bringing this information (and potential appeal to inform the public) directly to you. Given that many Wisconsin taxpayers choose to spend precious resources financing the tuition of their children, I believe some external pressure can be exerted on the university by the families themselves. In addition, attention should be brought to the public at large about the potential for this egocentric move at great expense to the students that many of these “professionals” claim to serve. Much like the K-12 teachers who walked out on their students during the early days of this public debate, the UW system educators would illegally abandon their contracts and their students. Unlike the K-12 teachers, this strike could have more dire consequences for individual students and their families in terms of financial aid ramifications, delayed graduations and careers, etc. Below I have included a sampling of the troubling comments of my colleagues that reveal the dismissive nature of their aims as well as the potential impact on our students:

● From 2/25: “In yesterday's meeting, Rodney brought up the possibility of a "failed semester" if there was a strike. I have searched Chapter 36 and Chapter 227 (and google, of course), and asked my UWM mentors, but can't find a mention of this term. Rodney, can you (or anyone else -- Connie Jo? Winson?) direct us to the documents explaining "failed semesters," who declares them, under what circumstances, etc.?”

● From 2/25: “Let us remember what an outrage such an event would be. Our students come here seeking a better life through the education we provide. A failed semester would only occur if we denied them our classes…A strike under such circumstances would not only be an outrage against the students but also counter-productive to the goals of continuing the growth of UWM.”

● From 2/25: “It is my understanding that our MGAA (GTA, RA, PA, etc) current contracts have a specific "no strike" stipulation, rendering it against the law. However, these contracts expire on March 13. If, under the current radical restructuring to promote the upward redistribution of wealth, new contracts are not created and/or unions are broken, there could conceivably be no more stipulation against strike. This is all worth fact checking, as I am certainly no expert in this matter….If TAs (etc) strike, will we cross the picket lines? And also, how will we, as their teachers, handle their absences from our seminars, labs, etc? In my understanding, our "not crossing picket lines" would mean that we, too, are on strike. Collective actions only work as a collective, and are sometimes thrust upon us by outside forces, and yet, we certainly have serious duties and responsibilities to *all* current students, both present and future.”

● From 2/25: “If it is any comfort as we cry in our porridge... from my vantage point, I believe most of our students know. Many are also getting conflicting messages from home, and they are grappling with the issues. I am so very very impressed with their sincerity and sense of fairness.”

● From 2/26: “I think it is important to frame the so-called "failed semester" argument as a possible red herring. As an instructor, I certainly care about my students and place their learning environment as one of my top priorities. In this framing, I do not see an absolute separation between my working conditions (including my collective bargaining rights and contract) and my work. I therefore see my efforts to defeat Walker's budget and budget "repair" bill as in line with preserving and improving the educational environment for my current AND future students. Another point that should be made in regards to the claim of "outrage" that a labor action may have: what this discussion is not accounting for is the vast numbers of students here and elsewhere who support their teachers and oppose Walker's budget bills. The "failed semester" concern presupposes that our students would not be our allies were they to be educated on the real effects of it, that they would not take a stand with their university's workers who provide the educational environment they deserve. To treat students only as consumers of education or to treat them patronizingly as "students" rather than potential allies is a disservice to them. I'm not one to resort to historical judgement, but if we were to lose this struggle for collective bargaining rights and the quality of education they ensure, a possible historical reexamination of our efforts would not judge us dignified for "respecting" our students' "investments" in education, but judge us harshly for refusing to build alliances with the very people whose support we need and indeed already have.”

● From 2/26: “You will do what you want but please understand there are real consequences for your potential allies. There are several thousand students who expect to graduate this May - some with jobs lined up that require them to have a degree - others with plans for grad school, med school, or other professional schools where again a degree is necessary. A "failed semester" will likely not result in a degree being completed for these people. I don't even want to begin to ponder if there are financial aid paybacks that students will need to make in a "failed semester". I also worry about the visa status of our foreign students in such a case. So please do not idealize the consequences of a labor action because some students are going to be severely impacted.”

● From 2/26: “What I understand are the "real consequences" of allowing a tyrant and extortionist like Walker to determine the choices faculty and students must make about their fundamental values as members of the human community. Education is more than amassing enough credits to land a job--I don't even want to ponder the cost to our culture of accommodating a bankrupt moral policy just so faculty and students won't be disrupted. This is not about idealization--this is about hard choices, social responsibility, and a vision of education that goes beyond self-serving credentials. I believe we are now at war for the very soul of Wisconsin, its working people, and the integrity of its university system--business as usual isn't acceptable, and sacrifices will have to be made by EVERYONE if we hope to preserve our common dignity and academic freedom.”

● From 2/26: “I think the concept of "failed semester" may not have an exact definition but I think its meaning is reasonably clear. A colleague described it as follows:

Under any definition it involves denial of classes to enrolled students. If applied to a situation of, say, epidemic, war, or asteroid collision, it would be understandable that those classes would be cancelled in such numbers as to render the semester educationally meaningless.

Everyone has an oar in the water on this and everyone has an agenda both here and in Madison. There may be eventual winners but I believe it is our students who will end up the losers in a prolonged labor action regardless of who wins.”

● From 2/27: “… I don't think a teaching staff walkout is likely to have much of an impact on the people who *temporarily* have charge of our government. They haven't listened to 150,000 plus. They don't appear to care at all about education or having an educated public in Wisconsin, so why would a walkout by instructors phase them? A walkout will only hurt our students and their families. Yes, so will this appalling budget "repair" bill, but we can undo some of that damage by working to recall these "officials" and then changing this retched bill. Laws can be changed. In fact, this will be easier to do than undoing the damage done to public opinion if there is a lengthy teaching staff walkout. And, Lee, I do think you have a point that many of our students support us, but they likely won't continue to do so if supporting us ends up hurting their education, their pocketbooks, and their futures. I think our energy would be better served working to recall these officials. This is where I plan to spend my energy.”

● From 2/27: “In my mind, a “failed semester” is not an option. Such a situation would be a public relations disaster that would undo the progress that we have recently made in the eyes of the general public. I believe a ”failed semester” would further galvanize the public’s anti-educational and anti-intellectual views. A “failed semester” would irreversibly harm this institution. It would greatly harm our public image, it would hinder the future of our students by keeping them from making timely and meaningful progress towards their degrees, it would hinder our ability to recruit quality students and new faculty to our programs, it would obstruct our probationary faculty from timely developing their scholarly records, it would damage our future research potential by preventing timely completion of currently funded projects, and it would be a financial disaster to our students, their families, our staff, this university, and to us personally. Our current state government has no intentions of listening to our concerns and demands. Walker and the media are very good at framing us as irrelevant, insignificant, and out of touch with the needs of the populace. A “failed semester” would be used to emphasize their current views.”

● From 2/27: “If this means the semester doesn't count or doesn't finish, would the students get "Incompletes?" What would that do to financial aid students? Would they then be required to stay for an extra semester and finance their own education? Would they have to immediately pay back this semester's loans (as if they had failed?) This is something that I feel I need to know before possibly assessing the situation. If it means that the semester doesn't count but that students still have to foot the bill for it (as well as a make-up semester), I can't imagine that they would readily stay "allies" for very long.”

● From 2/28: “So let's make our positions clear. What do advocates of caution propose to do on the hypothetical Thursday above? Do we cross picket lines in order to teach our classes? Do we pick up the grading responsibilities of TAs? Their teaching responsibilities? Do we muddle through, making our own copies, filing our own documents, etc. in the absence of office support staff? Do we empty our own garbage cans, clean up messes in dirty classrooms, etc. in the absence of custodial staff? I submit: an answer of "yes" to any of the last four questions would make us scabs, and reserve for us a special place in one of Hell's innermost circles. The first question ("Do we cross picket lines to teach?") is trickier; a range of possibilities, some of which already mentioned, can be contemplated. Holding classes off-campus or on-line are options; these avoid a literal crossing of picket lines, but arguably amount to the same thing. (Anything we do to mitigate negative consequences of a job action--the very point of which is to bring about negative consequences--tends to undermine its aims.) Delaying instruction--pushing it into the summer, issuing incompletes, etc.--is another option; I have no idea the feasibility of this. I'm sure other possible courses of action are available; I second someone else's call for creative thinking on this question. My position is this: I won't cross picket lines unless it's clear I'll be fired otherwise; I won't be a scab under any circumstances.”

● From 2/28: “I'm not too sure just what's at risk of changing here except losing part of our summer if things are handled badly. You really can't be a "scab" laborer in a situation where there is no legal right to strike--and even union employees don't have that right. And, I don't know about you, but I already pick-up coverage for TA's I supervise when needed, do my own copies--when digital alternatives escape me, and empty the trash cans in my office--and have often found myself lugging overflowing trash cans to dumpsters behind our building. It would be nice if occasionally we had some changes that actually improved on the SOP of our workplace. So, the very last thing I want to see is anything that forces me to cut into what little time I have in summer because a probably well intended but ultimately ineffectual protest sandbags time already allotted to the spring term and forces it into summer.”

● From 2/28: “I share the concerns some of you have voiced about the negative effects a work stoppage might have on our public image and on our students. But I ask you to also consider what a positive message we might send our state (and one another) by peacefully and respectfully standing together to protect education and civil rights. When academics stand with and fight for the rights of nurses, prison guards, janitors, and road crews; when we risk our jobs and our public image to demonstrate our commitment to our students and our state, we show the public a side of us that they may not always see. We lead. We dare. We teach….The walk-outs at Michigan stand out as my most memorable, lively, and meaningful days on that campus. This is because we didn't stop doing our jobs when we opted not to enter the buildings… Some students supported us and some didn't, and that was A-OK. Because most of all, what they learned was that the political process isn't the job of some stale strongmen in Washington but the responsibility of each citizen, to pursue according to the better angels of his or her nature, through direct action, and with courage.”

In addition, there is evidence in these emails of UW-Milwaukee employees who are in violation of the UW System’s prohibition against “engaging in political activities” during work time and/or using university resources. In this case, the resources that are being used are (possibly) university computers, (clearly) the listserv, and (clearly) the email communications mechanism. Two employees in particular who appear to be in violation are Peter Blewett (a lecturer in the English Department who also serves MPS board VP) and Cathy Kaye (Director of the ESL program who also serves as the UWM TAUWP chapter President). Blewett has used UWM resources to forward his work at MPS. In the emails I’ve included, Blewett’s most recent MPS resolution. Earlier in the public debate, Kaye was openly organizing protests and performing union activities. Then, someone publically “reminded” the listserv that it was a violation to do this. However, after this warning and the formal “reminder” dated 2/22 from Rodney Swain (Interim Dean at the UWM College of Letters and Science), Kaye changed her tactics but still attempted to use UWM resources to organize. Below you will see her email; Kaye’s reference to a “lunch gathering” is in regard to a planned “tuition protest” at Spaights Plaza that is being promoted by SDS (Students for A Democratic Society) on 3/2.

See this link: http://www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org/?q=2011%2F2%2F16%2Fall-out-education-rights-call-protest-march-2nd-2011: