Archive for June, 2009

Cafe Montmartre is “on vacation”

June 30, 2009

A bar that was much better than Wando’s is no more.

Cafe Montmartre, the wine bar and music club that has been at 127 E. Mifflin St. since 1992, has closed, according to the club’s owners.

“After nearly 17 years of operation, Cafe Montmartre closed its doors this week,” Craig and Kevin Spaulding wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “We tried to hold on, but the current economic conditions have left us no choice. We are very grateful for our many loyal customers, clients and vendors. It’s with tremendous sadness that we’ve made this decision, but we also feel it’s the right decision given the circumstances. We will cherish the memories forever.”

This represents a modest personal loss for all of us [me] chez le Sconz. I went to the bar last night for the weekly French conversation group only to find an ominous “closed for repairs” sign on the front door. Confused, my two companions and I went to the Great Dane, forfeiting the French, although the rest of the Frenchies ironically showed up later at the same place.

It was truly heart breaking to find out this morning that “closed for repairs” was apparently just a euphemism for “closed for good.”

It reminds me of that line from Forrest Gump. “Mama, what does ‘vacation’ mean?” “It means when you leave and you never ever come back.”

Frankenstein returns

June 30, 2009

Apparently Jim Doyle, or one of his aides, may have accidentally brought him back from the dead.

LFB director Bob Lang said in the agencies initial review of the Doyle’s vetoes, a partial veto of a provision on a study of intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded struck parts of three sentences to create a new one. That use of the veto would appear to be contrary to the April 2008 state constitutional amendment, Lang said.

As passed by the Assembly and Senate, the provision required the DHS Secretary to appoint a committee to study the need for and preservation of the care facilities. The legislature’s version required the study be submitted to the JFC by Dec. 1.

Sue, sue, sue!


June 30, 2009

It is somewhat ironic that Kyle Szarzynski is the one to report on CFACT. Kyle is perhaps the only person on campus who gives CFACT a run for its money in the “craziness” department. But to Kyle’s credit, he can generally present his allegations articulately, even when he’s accusing namby-pamby Canadians of being white supremacists.

No organization was a bigger headache during my time at the Herald than CFACT. Day after day we’d receive some letter from a starry-eyed recent convert, lauding the org for teaching them a lot of cool new stuff,  “serving the public,” and best of all, “working for the environment.” The vague slogans and unspecific goals were oddly reminiscent of the Church of  Scientology’s video on “human rights.” Unfortunately, because we were often short on content, we were forced on several occassions to run their propaganda. Who were we to discriminate? When we weren’t printing crack-inspired conspiracy theories by the head of Students for McCain we were running articles in favor of abolishing all drunk-driving laws.

Plus, despite the creepy cult vibes, the org definitely provided some good laughs. The best was when my co-editor Sam Clegg got a hold of a CFACT pamphlet alleging that Earth Day is actually a secret celebration of communism.

Wisconsin’s own Gaylord Nelson was compared to Nikita Khrushchev for deciding to place Earth Day on April 22, which is, coincidentally, Lenin’s birthday. Or as CFACT so eloquently implied in its pamphlet, Nelson consciously did this to insidiously work communism into the environmental discourse.

All that time, however, I had no idea that it was actually a segregated-fee funded organization. That Wisconsin, the home of Joe McCarthy, would be duped once again into funding such tactless liars, is truly unfortunate. Thankfully the Student Services Finance Committee ruled correctly last year by denying the group funding. Unfortunately it only did so because of a couple technicalities. CFACT failed to turn in some papers on time. Boring. SSFC should have gone farther and denounced the group for advancing an ideological agenda, rather than pushing one that “benefits all students,” which is the standard a group must satisfy to receive seg-fee funds.

Now CFACT is getting ready to sue the university unless its funding is restored. It enlisted the help of a few clueless blowhards at the State Capitol as well.

A conservative college group is threatening to sue the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claiming the school wiped out its funding as retaliation against its stance on global warming and other issues.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, was one of nine state legislators to ask the chancellor to reconsider.

“Without CFACT on campus, discussions about environmental and social issues will be completely one-sided,” they wrote in May. “The diversity that CFACT adds to these issues is invaluable to the UW campus and should be maintained.”

“We have a huge problem in society,” he said. “Too many of our universities hate any diversity of viewpoint other than that of the hard left. It’s appalling.”

Appalling that no other environmental group integrates the issue of leninism with earth day. I am simply not smart enough to respond to that one.

Gingrich raises money for guy he’s never heard of

June 30, 2009

Newt came to the Sconz to raise money for some guy who’s had a “tremendous record” as Milwaukee County executive. Instead he ended up raising a bunch of money for  Scott Walker.

Asked during a Q&A with reporters whether his appearance was an endorsement of Walker, Gingrich said it was not but praised Walker for his base of support and for having “a tremendous record” as county executive.

Translation: Look, I honestly have never heard of this guy before but he is the executive of Milwaukee County and he is a Republican for Christ’s sake! What the fuck do you want from me?

Gingrich said he was invited to come at the behest of Wisconsin Republican heavyweights Terry and Mary Kohler before Neumann said he planned to run.

What he should have said:

Scott Walker just looks like a winner – he reminds me of Rick Santorum back in the 90’s. Also, the welfare of Milwaukee County happens to be a cause extremely close to my heart. If I didn’t live in D.C. or Georgia…I would definitely live in Milwaukee.

Gingrich told the large crowd at the Milwaukee Hilton City Center that the party needs to follow a policy of inclusion, rather than outreach, to be successful.

“Outreach is when a bunch of white guys hide in a room, make up a policy and call three friends who are black or Latino; inclusion is when they’re in the room with you designing the policy,” Gingrich said to applause.

Translation: Plus, Milwaukee has blacks. If Scott won there he must know something about them.

Some wingnuts are upset about all this  “inclusivity” talk from Republicans. Don’t worry guys, I’m sure Newt hasn’t forgotten his roots. I’ll leave you with a quote from the good ol’ days, when being an unabashed racist was still fashionable in the GOP leadership.

“People in Cobb County [his district] don’t object to neighbors who keep their lawns cut and move to the area to avoid crime. What they worry about is the bus line gradually destroying apartment complex after another, gradually people come in for public housing who have no middle class values, and whose kids as they become teenagers are often centers of robberies and where the schools collapse because the parents of the kids who live in the apartment complexes don’t care that the kids don’t do well in school and the whole school collapses.” — Newt Gingrich

What are you talking about Mayor Dave?

June 29, 2009

Does everything the city does have to be marketed as a response to crime?

A new farmers market on the Southwest Side will not stop crime there. But it is one way to help neighbors meet each other, and we know that breaking down anonymity is one way to reduce crime.

What follows is a few paragraphs about how the city has dealt with crime, including adding new cops, blah blah blah.

The post then concludes:

So those who want to make people believe that the entire City response to crime comes down to a small new farmers market know better than that.

What will work is working together. What will work is having the courage to try new things and keep trying. What will work is a comprehensive approach. And will work is a strong partnership between the community and the government that serves it.

Who are you responding to? (Crossing my fingers for David Blaska)

Lawton for governor

June 29, 2009

A very real possibility. Caffeineited Politics comments on the prospect, with blogger Deke Rivers expressing excitement over the first female governor of the Badger State. Deke gets it wrong however, here:

To get to that point of course, Governor Jim Doyle needs to be appointed to a position by the Obama administration.

Nope. Doyle’s favoribility ratings have gone from bad to worse, and unless they drastically improve, which will only happen if the economy picks up, Doyle will likely withdraw from the running, either on his own terms or under pressure from state Democrats.

State dictator wields veto pen

June 29, 2009

Looking through the list of Gov. Jim Doyle’s vetoes of the state budget is revealing. Wisconsin’s legislative system resembles a constitutional monarchy much more closely a republican government. The governor, although no longer able to essentially re-write bills by crossing out letters and reworking sentences, can still drastically change bills without the legislature’s approval. It’s incredible.

In his role as state dictator, Doyle provided mixed results.

He prevented illogical passions from bogging down sentencing reform by vetoing an unfair provision of the budget that would have made future offenders ineligible for the “early release for good behavior” program that was set up to reform our backwards corrections system and save the state big money.

For all the whining from right wingers about a tax and spend governor, Doyle actually came down on the side of business on a variety of measures in the bill. For instance, he vetoed a fee for construction landfills, writing that it was unfair to require owners of landfills and that the provision may have unintended consequences for construction during a time when infrastructure projects are meant to be a key for economic development. He also vetoed a $15 sticker for out-of-state boaters, expressing concerns of a deterrent effect on tourism. I would classify this as bullshit –$15? It would only be a problem if those who fail to get stickers got huge fines.

He reduces funding for the film tax credit from $1.5 million to $500,000. Barbara Lawton is going to be pissed.

He strikes one digit from a grant to the Pleasant Prairie Incubator Technology Center to reduce funding from $700,000 to $70,000. Ouch.

Doyle signs budget – highlights for Madison

June 29, 2009

“Unfortunately we must now all make sacrifices due to reckless behavior on Wall St. and in real estate markets.”

Doyle, in a 73 page budget message, outlined the successes and failures of the budget. He commends lawmakers for being the first legislature since 1977 to pass a budget before the beginning of the biennium – meaning that this is the first time in over 30 years that Wisconsin has met its own deadline. The budget covered a variety of hot topics, including domestic partnership benefits for UW employees, sentencing reform in state prisons and a drastic cigarette tax increase.

Highlights for Madison:

Provides group health insurance and retirement survivor benefits to domestic partners of state employees and UW faculty and staff

Provides the faculty and research assistants of UW the right to collectively bargain

$15 million to strengthen the UW System’s ability to retain faculty

$250 million program to revenate the Charter St Heating and Cooling Plant to eliminate use of coal

$20.3 million for financial aid programs for low income Wisconsin residents

$8.2 million to support bio-tech, nanotechnology research at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (UW-Madison)

Other general highlights:

Allows certain inmates to earn positive adjustment time for good behavior

Increases income taxes 1 percent on single inviduals making over $300,000

Increases the cigarette tax from 75 cents per pack to $2.52 per pack

The long term capital gains exemption is lowered from 60% to 30%

Mandates that insurance companies cover autism

Covers dependents up to age 27 in group health policies.

Adds $823 million in transportation funding for highways and local transportation

Creates “regional transit authorities” in the Chippewa Valley, Chequamegon Bay region, Dane County and the Southeast


Bernie goes to the big house for 150

June 29, 2009

This sentence is counter-productive – when Madoff gets out at the age of 221 he’ll hardly be in a condition to re-integrate with society. Wall Street will have changed and he’ll probably live out the rest of his days on welfare.

Note: 150 years is about 5 times more than the maximum prison sentence allowed in the European Union.

Budget goes to Doyle – Veto time

June 28, 2009

Time to pull out the gubernatorial sharpie – it’s veto time. By “veto” I am of course referring to Wisconsin’s new and improved version, which allows governors to veto certain spending provisions in a bill while approving the rest of the bill. “New and improved” in the sense that the governor can no longer re-write entire bills by vetoing single words or even single letters, as they have in the past. Until voters struck down the “Vanna White Veto”, Gov. Tommy Thompson used to re-write entire bills by vetoing individual letters and making new words out of what was left over – “republican” government. Doyle didn’t have the chance to veto letters, but he certainly went ahead with words. But then the pesky voters changed the constitution again:

With the approval of the referendum, Doyle and future Wisconsin governors will no longer be able to create new sentences by crossing out words or numbers from two or more existing clauses.

But Doyle is still the man with the pen.

Even after the decision to limit the “Frankenstein veto” governors will still have the ability to remove single digits to create new figures or delete whole clauses from paragraphs to change their meaning.

It’s hard to predict what Doyle will go after in the budget. He was unsatisfied with the capital gains tax hike, but he has to recognize that it was necessary after the oil tax fell through. Hence, it will be hard for him to fiddle with the numbers on that. His proposals on agency cuts and furloughs for state employees pretty much went according to plan – there may be some minor changes, including earmarks, that he’ll try to eliminate. Doyle stayed out of the conflict over extra cuts that legislature Democrats proposed for the Department of Justice, so it would be interesting to see if he restores any of them with some last minute edits – I certainly wouldn’t count on it. He’s unpopular enough already – the last thing he wants to do is give J.B. Van Hollen another round of free media.