Thursday, April 19, 2012

All Collapse Is Local

These are some stories that appeared in the online newsfeed of my local fishwrap over only the past couple of days. I’m not cherry-picking these. OK, I am a little, but I’m only leaving out neutral stories, I’m not just picking all the bad news and leaving out ’positive’ stories. (See for yourself: How can one not scan the headlines and see what is happening? How in denial are we? I’ve added a few comments to some of the stories. So without further ado – scenes from the breakdown in Cheeseland:


Hovde invests in bailout recipients

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press
April 18, 2012 | Madison - U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde has purchased a bank that received federal bailout money, even though the Republican hedge fund manager says he remains staunchly opposed to the program.

When announcing his candidacy last month, Hovde stressed that he never owned a bank at the time it received bailout money from the federal government. But at the same time he was entering the race, his private equity firm was in the process of acquiring a failed bank that got $9.1 million in bailout money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP.

Hovde, 47, a political newcomer, is trying to win the Republican nomination in the Senate race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat.

Yup, the candidate for U.S. senate is a hedge fund manager. But I’m sure he’ll run against “Big Government,” right? Here’s more predictable rhetoric from our one percent hedgie friend:

Hovde pledges to overhaul tax codes

Businessman Eric Hovde on Thursday released his tax overhaul plan, pledging that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, he will vote to reduce individual income tax rates across the board; reduce corporate tax rates; eliminate corporate welfare; simplify the tax code; eliminate the so-called death or federal estate tax; and cut down the size of the Internal Revenue Service.

Hovde, running in a crowded field of well-known Republican hopefuls, including former congressman Mark Neumann; former governor Tommy Thompson; and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, said he wanted two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

He also wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25%, which he said would create 5.3 million private-sector jobs.

I’m sure he can count on the “Tea Party” vote.

GOP has big advantage in Senate recalls, poll says

By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2012 | Madison -- Republicans hold commanding leads in three state Senate recall elections, and a fourth race is a statistical tie, according to a new round of polling.

The Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling surveyed likely voters in the four districts Friday through Monday for the liberal Daily Kos blog. The Republicans had double-digit leads in three of the races.

Tonette Walker to hold listening session on trauma

By The Associated Press
April 19, 2012 6:48 a.m. | Madison - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's wife, Tonette, is holding the first of several planned listening sessions designed to help children and families dealing with trauma.

Ironically, most of the trauma is caused by her husband’s policies. Remember, problems are solved by listening.

PolitiFact: Testing Thompson claim on gas prices, money to Saudi Arabia

By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel
April 19, 2012 9:12 a.m. | New today from PolitiFact Wisconsin:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson says that every time the price of gas rises 1 cent, "it's a billion out of our economy that goes to Saudi Arabia." We do the math.


Cost of health care services rises 5.75% nationally

Today, April 19, 2012, 15 minutes ago

The average per capita cost of health care services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare increased 5.75% over the 12 months ended February 2012, according to the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index.

Costs covered by commercial insurance plans increased 7.73%, as measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index. In contrast, Medicare claim costs rose by 2.72%, as measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index.

In the past eight months, annual rates of change in per capita health care costs have generally been rising, S&P said.

We Energies begins disconnecting delinquent accounts

By The Associated Press April 18, 2012. We Energies says it has started disconnecting Wisconsin and Michigan residential customers who are behind on their energy bills.

A state-imposed moratorium on disconnecting customers ended Monday. Commercial and industrial customers are exempt from the Nov. 1 to April 15 moratorium and can be disconnected for non-payment anytime throughout the year.

The Milwaukee utility company is urging customers to keep their accounts current by making payment arrangements if they're behind.

We Energies says it can offer payment plans, including a minimum payment option.

And natural gas prices are at an all-time low thanks to fracking. Still not cheap enough, I guess.


Milwaukee County faces repayment of more than $542,000 in federal funds

Patient found dead at Mental Health Complex

Heit, who died early Monday, was a resident at the county hospital for most of his life since the age of 12, the report says. He had a history of schizophrenia, anemia, stroke and heart disease, the report says. He was also on a lengthy list of medications.

Waukesha council blocks funds for fire chief search

By Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2012 | Waukesha - The search for a new city fire chief is back to square one with the Common Council's refusal to spend $16,900 for a recruiting firm to search for candidates.

The council was split 7-7, Tuesday night and Mayor Jeff Scrima broke the tie, rejecting the payment to Voorhees Associates, the recommended search firm. Ald. Brian White was absent.

Aldermen opposing the expense said they did not see the necessity of paying a consultant to search outside the department for candidates because enough qualified candidates were already within the department.

Recruiting firm? Government waste at its finest, even in the reddest area of Wisconsin. At least they has the sense to block it, barely.

Town of Mukwonago reconsiders motion to bill village for fire department expenses

By Andrea Budde
April 18, 2012 | The Town of Mukwonago board reconsidered a motion made on march 21 to "invoice the Village of Mukwonago for the budget overage in the fire department budget" during their meeting this evening.

The motion was made in March in an effort to collect $12,000 from the Village the town said they are owned for unauthorized fire department expenses. The new motion this evening was to send the village a letter asking them to invoice the town for the amount, after which the town will consider the expense during a future board meeting.

What’s the difference between a town and a village? Is this redundant? Would this even be considered in better economic times? Maybe they can give that $12,000 to Waukesha to find a new fire chief!

Jackson County town votes to disband police force

By Associated Press April 17, 2012 Town of Brockway - A town in west-central Wisconsin has voted to disband its police force.

The Town of Brockway Police Department in Jackson County has closed indefinitely. It consisted of two officers and two squad cars.

No need for law enforcement, we’ve got pot to find (see below).

New Employment Opportunities:

Thieves stealing copper from Wausau-area power poles

By Associated Press
April 18, 2012 | Wausau - Wisconsin Public Service says someone is stealing copper from power poles in the Wausau area. Thieves have tampered with about two dozen lines.

Utility workers say the thefts are not only costly to fix but potentially dangerous.

The thefts are blamed on the rising prices offered for metals. Police believe whoever is stealing the copper hopes to recycle it for cash.

Illinois men caught allegedly trying to steal 600-pound railroad rail

The salvage economy is here. What other jobs are there, anyway?

Additional charges in fake Facebook stock sale

By The Associated Press
April 19, 2012 7:40 a.m. | Oshkosh - A woman accused of selling phony shares of Facebook stock is facing nearly two dozen additional charges.

Marianne Oleson was charged Wednesday with 22 more felonies, including theft by false representation and perjury. The 46-year-old Oshkosh woman is due in Winnebago County Circuit Court Thursday.

The charges are in addition to 34 counts Oleson is already facing. Prosecutors say Oleson duped at least four people into buying some shares. A criminal complaint says one man gave Oleson $28,000 in cash and concrete work in exchange for stock documents that appeared to be legitimate.

The people investing in the “real” Facebook are probably suckers too. At least they’ll be able to cash in.

Feds warn hikers, campers to stay clear of pot farms

By The Associated Press April 18, 2012 Madison - The U.S. Forest Service is again warning hikers and campers to steer clear of pot farms this summer.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials say drug trafficking organizations typically plant farms in the spring and harvest their crop in the late summer. They say the tell-tale signs of a farm include isolated tents, garden tools, bags of fertilizer, garbage, disturbed soil and cleared stumps.

Forestry officials say growers may be armed. Anyone who runs into any signs of a farm should leave, try to mark the location by landmarks or waypoints and notify law enforcement.

Police have eradicated about 80,000 marijuana plants in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest over the last two years.

Because that’s a good use of scare government resources. Stock scams, pot farming and metal recycling: Who says Americans aren’t entrepreneurial?


Plexus 2Q earnings fall 16.4%

By Journal Sentinel staff
April 18, 2012 | Plexus Corp. said Wednesday fiscal second-quarter earnings fell as networking and communications revenue declined 21% for the second consecutive quarter.

The Neenah contract manufacturing company said net income dropped 16.4% to $20.0 million, or 56 cents a share, from $23.9 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier.

Revenue was up less than 1% for the three months ended March 31, to $573.5 million from $568.2 million.

Badger Meter 1Q earnings nearly double

April 18, 2012 | Badger Meter Inc. reported a surge in quarterly earnings Wednesday that showed the supplier of water meters measures more than water usage.

Profit nearly doubled due to renewed spending by the nation's cash-strapped towns and cities, which in the past two years had scaled back on investments by their municipal water authorities - often the main customers for new meters. Fiscal tightness at the municipal level in 2010 and 2011 coincided with spending cutbacks at government agencies across the nation.

"There's some stability in the economy," said Badger chief financial officer Rick Johnson. "There's a feeling that things are returning to normal.

I include this to show that government spending isn’t all waste – much government spending on necessary improvements and services actually goes to the private sector! That’s why cutting government and “austerity” actually harms economy, including the private sector, more than it helps. And no, Rick, thing’s aren’t returning to “normal.”

Apollo raises bid for Great Wolf to $7 a share

April 18, 2012 | The New York-based company seeking to buy Great Wolf Resorts Inc. has agreed to raise its offer to $7 a share, and Great Wolf's board is recommending shareholders accept the bid.

K-9 Acquisition Inc., an affiliate of Apollo Global Management LLC, had previously agreed to pay $6.75 a share for Madison-based Great Wolf, which operates 11 water park resorts in the United States and Canada, including one in the Wisconsin Dells area.

The latest offer represents a premium of 142% to the six-month average of Great Wolf's share price before the announcement of Apollo's original $5 a share offer on March 13, the companies said in a statement released Wednesday after the close of trading.

American capitalism: Don’t build, buy. Who knows who owns what anymore? Everything’s just pools of money sloshing around. Mitt Romney would be proud! Personally, investing in frivolities like water parks seems like a losing bet to me, but I’m not a Wall Street sharpie.

High-frequency stock trader, SXP Analytics, files for bankruptcy protection

By Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel
April 19, 2012 9:58 a.m. | A Milwaukee firm that does high-frequency stock trading - a practice that uses elaborate mathematical formulas and powerful computers to buy and sell shares quickly, sometimes within fractions of a second - has sought protection from creditors in bankruptcy court.

SXP Analytics LLC filed a Chapter 11 petition this week in federal court in Milwaukee. The company is majority owned by local attorney and start-up financier Emmanuel Mamalakis.

Mamalakis generally declined to speak about the case, but said the filing was prompted by litigation and not operational issues.

Three former M&I wealth management executives leaving BMO

Three former Marshall & Ilsley Corp. wealth management executives who joined BMO Financial Group last summer after its takeover of M&I have left or soon will be leaving BMO, the company said.

The three are Kenneth Krei, executive vice president and head of BMO Global Private Bank; Jim Duca, who reported to Krei as executive vice president of BMO's private banking in the U.S.; and Jamie Cahn, who was president of BMO Institutional Trust Services.

Krei, 62, who led M&I's wealth management division and was put in charge of private banking after BMO's acquisition of M&I, is retiring, the company said.

"Ken Krei decided to retire to spend more time with his family and also continue in his civic involvement," said Jim Kappel, spokesman for BMO Harris Bank, the U.S. subsidiary of Toronto-based BMO Financial Group. "He had a very successful career that spanned four decades and includes numerous senior leadership roles. He has also been very active in the community."

A number of M&I executives have left since the merger, several joining former M&I executive Tom Bolger at Racine-based Johnson Bank, where he is CEO.

Krei was brought to M&I in 2003 to head its wealth management division. Krei consolidated various segments of M&I - such as trust-related services, brokerage and insurance - and put them under the umbrella of wealth management. That created new opportunities to cross-sell products and services to customers who had already been doing business with M&I.

When the recession and housing crisis began taking a toll on M&I's loan portfolio, its wealth management unit remained a bright spot for revenue growth in the company.

Last year, after BMO named Krei head of BMO Global Private Bank, it noted in a press release that "client satisfaction feedback from private wealth management clients has been outstanding" under Krei's leadership.

The one percent made their pile and are jumping ship. And I'm so happy that "wealth management" is a bright spot in the economy.


Uthoff's appeal moves forward and he is set to meet with UW officials Thursday

Pat Summitt's son to be an assistant coach for MU women's basketball

By Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel
April 19, 2012 6:16 a.m. | Tyler Summitt, the 21-year-old son of legendary University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, will be an assistant coach under Marquette women's coach Terri Mitchell.

Tyler Summitt was a member of the Tennessee men's basketball team. He will graduate next month from Tennessee with a degree in communication.

Sports is yet another method of becoming a part of the 1 percent and it runs in the family. Imagine if American universities were about, ummm, learning stuff? I notice there are no salary figures in the articles.

Vikings stadium update: NFL flexes its muscle

The National Football League is the nation's most popular professional sport. It also excels in the ability to put pressure on people and institutions.

In the wake of a decision by a Minnesota legislative committee to reject a proposed new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL bull-rushed the Twin Cities with warnings and threats.

As theMinneapolis Star Tribune reports, Eric Grubman, the NFL's vice president of business operations, said there were plenty of buyers willing to purchase the Vikings and move it elsewhere. Grubman said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was dejected" by the actions of Minnesota politicians.

Said Grubman:"There are plenty of willing buyers. I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded. "I would not be surprised if [Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested."

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Commissioner Roger Goodell told Gov. Mark Dayton that there would be "serious consequences" for the team and the league if a bill is left unfinished.

Gotta love “private” industry in America. Extortion anyone?

Sportservice to take over as Packers' concessionaire

The Green Bay Packers on Wednesday officially named Delaware North Companies Sportservice, the same company that handles food and beverage for the Milwaukee Brewers, as its new concessionaire.

The company will handle all general concessions, premium dining and catering operations at Lambeau Field. That includes non-football events, such as concerts.

“We are excited to begin our new partnership with Delaware North Companies Sportservice,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Much like the Green Bay Packers, they have a distinguished history of success, and we are looking forward to the quality of food and beverage experience and service they will provide for our fans.”

In addition to the Brewers, Sportservice also runs food and beverage services for the St. Louis Cardinals. In the National Football League, the company has deals with the New York Jets and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams.

Can’t wait for the $10.00 beers and $15.00 hot dogs. Why not just provide stalls where independent vendors can set up and compete, like on the street? Why enforce a monopoly? Why do the big sports cartels and Sportservice hate competition and free enterprise? Are they communists?

School Daze:

16 students at Milwaukee south side school ill with whooping cough

MILWAUKEE- Milwaukee's health department has confirmed a pertussis cluster investigation at St. Matthias Parish School on Milwaukee's south side.

St. Matthias staff noticed a pattern of illnesses over Easter break and began sending notices home to parents.

Is this 1850?

Student suspended for bringing gun to school

A Waupaca High School student faces expulsion for allegedly bringing a handgun to school Tuesday. At 3:30 p.m., a student told high school administrators that a female student had a gun in her handbag while she was at school. By the time the gun was reported, the student had left school.

Remember show and tell? Time to bring in the metal detectors. Too bad we can't afford them.

Former New Holstein school leader gets 5 years in child porn case

A former New Holstein School District Administrator has been sentenced to five years in prison for possessing child pornography on his work computer, the Sheboygan Press is reporting this morning.

Christopher J. Nelson is already serving a five-year term after being convicted of trying to arrange to have sex with a boy while he was in Milwaukee for a 2011 school board convention.

Nelson was fired from the New Holstein job in March of 2011, two months after his Milwaukee arrest.

Accused Germantown teacher placed on leave

April 18, 2012 | A teacher with the Germantown School District who was seen having "inappropriate contact" with a student is under investigation by Milwaukee police, the district said Wednesday.

The contact was witnessed at a nondistrict sponsored event outside the school district, according to a news release from the district. No information on the age or genders of the teacher or student was disclosed.

The teacher was placed on paid, administrative leave and the findings of an investigation by the district were filed with the Milwaukee Police Department, according to the release.

Our children are our most precious resource, especially to sexual predators.

Our Crumbling Infrastructure:

Roundabouts opposed in Sussex

By Kelly Smith
April 18, 2012 | Village of Sussex - A proposal to install three roundabouts along Main Street encountered stiff citizen opposition during a series of public information sessions tonight and appears headed for rejection by the Village Board.

Everybody knows roundabouts are part of Agenda 21 and harbingers of international European socialism/communism.

River Hills to line 15 sewer laterals

By Mary Buckley
April 18, 2012 | River Hills will use its private property infill and infiltration allocation of $115,000 from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to line approximately 50 feet of laterals extending from the main sewer lines under the road to private laterals serving 15 homes on Pheasant Lane. The property owners previously agreed to participate in the program.

Originally the village planned to televise the laterals with the funding, but Village Engineer Mustafa Emir said it didn't make sense to spend money on that.

"We know we have leaky laterals," he said at the Village Board meeting tonight. "We will use the allocation to fix the laterals."

Leaky laterals, how embarrassing!

Becher St. on-ramp to reopen late Wednesday

The Becher St. on-ramp to northbound I-43/I-94 is to reopen by late Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Transportation announced.

State officials shut down the ramp March 13 after a bridge inspection showed "serious deterioration" of two supporting pillars. Workers from Waukesha-based Zenith Tech Inc. demolished the bridge, filled in the site and paved it over with asphalt, erecting a new ramp in just one month at a cost of $415,000, about half the original estimate.

Before this situation arose, the Transportation Department had been planning to replace the bridge deck next year. The ramp carries about 5,000 vehicles a day.

Fall River driver who was hit by concrete identified

By Sharif Durhams of the Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2012 | Authorities said Wednesday that they don't believe a softball-sized piece of concrete that struck and injured a driver in the head in Dane County fell from a bridge. Meanwhile, the 50-year-old Fall River man injured by the concrete remains in a hospital in serious condition, according to the Dane County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities are seeking any witnesses who might have seen a large chunk of concrete on the interstate in the area. They can call the Dane County Sheriff's office tip line at (608) 284-6900.

Good thing we killed the choo-choo train! Watch out while driving. Hey, what’s that cracking sound?

As I’ve said before, breakdown. Drip, drip, drip… And think: this is just a couple days of news items from one state. However, stay tuned for a “positive” story tomorrow.


  1. Looks like Detroit is not alone. Change the names in the headlines from Wisconsin to local people and institutions and it could be Michigan.

  2. I'm always amused when people talk about collapse - we here in the rust belt have living with it for thirty years (that's why it's called that). The peak of U.S. wages was in 1973, so I've been living my entire life in a collapsing country, just in slow motion. As I've said before, if you were to describe a post-collapse US to an American of the 50s and 60s, it would look pretty much exactly like today.

    Now it's catching up to the coasts. Everything outside of the wealthy enclaves is turning into a third world country. Soon we'll be in a league with Columbia and South Africa rather than the Japan, the Netherlands and Germany, if we aren't there already.


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