Monthly Archives: March 2007

Letter to Politicians Regarding CCAP

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March 12, 2007

 

 

Dear

 

 

I am writing today to express my opinion about the current request from Governor Doyle’s office to institute CCAP as a paid service. The revenue this would bring in is a positive attribute, but not my concern for this matter. I will try to explain briefly what has been a long, difficult story in my recent life.

 

Last year I accepted an Alford plea for a crime of which I was not guilty – misdemeanor battery.  The original charge was felony child abuse. Being a 32 year old mother with no history in the legal system, not even a speeding ticket; I was, needless to say, scared to death. I had been run through the meat grinder of the legal system without ever having been able to even be investigated or having had the chance to tell my story. I did not commit child abuse and the mere accusation was devastating to me and my family. My attorney explained to me that in Racine County, if a jury hears the words “child abuse” and “step mother” they will almost always automatically convict without even really listening to the case. This of course had me frightened out of my wits. There is no way I could risk jail time with a two year old at home that was and is my life. There is also no way I could ever accept having a felony on my record. Just the fact that I would not be able to vote was enough for me to cringe at the thought. It was a very hard decision and one I will never be certain I made correctly, but it is the choice I made.

 

I had many compelling letters written to the judge on my behalf. Some from family members, but others from mothers of children I have cared for, a family therapist, a family physician and a forensic psychiatrist. Even with these letters, I was given 12 months probation with the possibility of early release. I am going to court this Friday (March 16, 2007) for a hearing to attempt to get an early release from probation.

 

Before this happened I was accepted back into college to work towards a degree in social work. I was also very interested in teaching and politics. These goals are all now virtually futile with my current record.

 

Some people may think it is no big deal since I did not go to jail or get the felony conviction. But when you are accused, tried and convicted of a crime for which you are not guilty – it is a life altering and horrifying experience, especially one as heinous as child abuse. Especially for a woman who makes it her life to keep her family safe and healthy. Especially for a person who consistently writes about ways to make this world a better place, a person with genuine compassion and empathy. It was a stab in my back that went right through to my heart.

 

The fact that anyone (old friends, co-workers – if I am even able to get a job again, acquaintances…) can look my name up on CCAP so easily and see right there first thing “FELONY CHILD ABUSE” is heart wrenching. Even though it says I pled with an Alford plea – no one really knows what that means. Even though it says a plea of misdemeanor was offered, that doesn’t matter. They see that original charge and that is all that will be of concern. There is no explanation. There is no way for a person to say ‘this is what really happened’. I know that if this happened to me, it must not be too uncommon.  We are serving the sentences we were given – even those who are indeed guilty. We paid fines. We paid thousands in attorney fees. We paid. Why do we need to wear this scarlet letter for the rest of our lives by having this easily accessible website available for all to see?

 

Please know that I do vote in every election. This last primary in my district had only one vote on the ballot. I was still there. I write on a blog and to the newspapers, letters and articles. And I want to know that the politicians I support in many ways make sure this CCAP fee proposal passes.

 

I appreciate your time. Thank you for listening.

 

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Heather XXXX

 

 

 

 

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My Choices for the April 3rd Election…For What its Worth…

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This year on April 3rd, which happens to be my 33rd birthday (yikes) there will be a local election. Because I have been pretty preoccupied with other things these past months, I have not paid much attention to many of the elections and candidates. In the past couple weeks I have done some reading – what is available which is not much – and emailed a couple candidates. Through this information I have made my choices on most of the seats. However, I, myself, will only be voting for RUSD seats, County Executive and State Supreme Court Judge.
 
 
9th District Alderperson
 
Pete Karas
(no bio – but interview in another blog on this website)
 
I find this candidate to be the best choice for several reasons. He has a view that expands his neighborhood. He seeks a better Racine. He is very accessible and compassionate. Any constituent can contact him easily either by email or phone. I have personally contacted him several times with issues that were not even in his political realm, but nonetheless he was very helpful and considerate. Also very willing to help in any way he could. He also wants to bring Green alternatives to Racine which I think could make our city very unique, efficient and environmentally responsible. He is also in favor of the commuter rail which I think will greatly benefit the citizens of Racine for many reasons!!
 
 
 
7th District Alderperson
 
Ray DeHahn
(no bio)
 
The main reason to vote for this candidate is because of his opponent who is an extremist and an opportunist. From everything I have read and heard, he posted semi nude pictures of a man on his blog to embarress said man and virtually ruin his life. Then he deleted any evidence of this so as to not hurt his campaign. Not someone I would ever vote for. DeHahn supports the commuter rail and sees the huge importance of education and the joblessness related to lack of said education.
 
 
 
3rd District Alderperson
 
Michael D. Shields
Address: 1850 13th St., Racine
Age: 57
Family: Married to Vivian, one adult daughter
Education: Master’s in social work from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Occupation: Racine County social worker for 20 years
Previous elected experience: 16 years on City Council, from 1989 to 2005, including a term as council president and service on all committees
Interesting tidbit: Works with the Optimist Club to help young people
 
I am drawn to him as a candidate because of his education background in Social Work. One who enters that field of study typically does so because they want to improve the world in some way. It is done because of well intended motivations. I believe that this and his desire to improve education (even though, as Alderman, may be out of his grasp) shows that he really has his feet planted on the issues that truly matter not only in Racine but in the world as a whole – as a human being.
 
 
 
5th District Alderperson
 
Kenneth Yorgan
(could not find Bio)
 
I am drawn to him as a candidate because he seems to be thinking out of the box. He wants to bring new, natural (Green) resources to Racine. And it is my understanding that he is also in favor of the commuter rail.
 
 
 
11th District Alderperson
 
Gloria Rogers

Address: 3700 Oakwood Drive, Racine
Age: 64
Family: Divorced, two children and two grandchildren
Education: High school in her native Mississippi
Occupation: Owner and operator of A-1 cleaning Service
Previous elected experience: None
Interesting tidbit: She finds it remarkable that she can run for office in Wisconsin when it was not that long ago that African-Americans couldn’t’t vote in Mississippi.
 
I am drawn to her as a candidate because she seems as though she is a real down to earth person who knows the struggles of the average Jane. Her views on livable wages is what got my attention. When I was a single woman living alone it was literally impossible to pay all of my bills. Education also needs to be more available so that people can become more hirable. She seems to share this view. Again, I really wish she supported commuter rail and this does make my decision more difficult. However, her opponent is also very hesitant about the rail even though he fully supports Point Blue. For me, I would be the other way around. I believe the commuter rail could benefit Racine citizens more than the Point Blue development which I see only being for the more elite of Racine as well as Illinois boaters.
 
 
 
County Executive
 
 
Ken Hall

Address: 205 E. 4 Mile Road, Wind Point
Age: 48
Family: Married, three children
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Carroll College
Occupation: CPA, operates his own consulting practice doing small business advising, operations consulting and venture capital work
Previous elected experience: Elected County Board supervisor in 2005
Interesting tidbit: Hall has played basketball almost every Tuesday night for the past 20 years. (He gave it up to campaign for office, he said.) He also enjoys disc golf.

I think this candidate is by far our best choice. Integrity and ethical are two words that come to mind while watching his interviews. I also agree with him on many issues including having been against the jail expansion as well as putting more focus on quality of life programs. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you will, which I do not feel I am…but out health and human services programs are a must to improve this community. Hall is also in support of the commuter rail (hooray).

I did attempt to interview both candidates, but did not receive responses. However, I must admit that I did so late in the game and I am well aware of how utterly busy they both must be.

 

Racine Unified School District Board (3 seats available)

This was a very difficult choice. To be perfectly honest from the interviews I have read I was not blown away or significantly impressed by any of the candidates. However I did choose 2 based on the way they answered their questions and whether or not they have or had children in the district. I have to think about and try to find more info in order to decide on the 3rd.

Rob Jankowski

I am 4 year resident of Sturtevant, originally grew up in a small town Grafton WI.  I am married to my wife Deborah and have 2 children (Alec is 2 and a half years old and Aimee 11 months old).   For  myself, I have a BS in Electrons Engineering Technology from ITT in addition to MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School.  All degrees were obtained while working full time taking advantage of my employer’s tuition reimbursement policy (employers funded 70% of my education).  I have a solid employment history, being recognized through promotions at the last 3 employers. 

Children: 2 as listed above, my son will be enrolling in the RUSD 4 year kindergarten within the next 2 years.

 

Julie McKenna

Employment:  I work as a Pulmonary Function Technologist at Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group

Education:  High School Diploma- Lincoln Senior High School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Associates Degree (AS) in Respiratory Therapy, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota, Bachelors of Art (BA) in Music Education, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Family:  I am married, I have one son.

I have one son and he has attended schools in the Racine Unified School District, currently he attends Starbuck Middle School.   He attended Goodland School prior to Starbuck Middle School.

 

Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge

Linda Clifford

While she has not had experience as a judge, this mother and wife has had many many years of legal experience as a successful and compassionate lawyer. She gave much of her time pro bono to serve people all over the world from unethical prosecution. She comes from a blue collar family and it is apparent her ethics and humanity is exactly why she deserves this position and why we need people like her in these positions.

 

So…for what its worth…here are my choices…I will update if and when I receive more information.

 

And remember VOTE APRIL 3rd (and don’t forget my birthday card lol). 

Pete Karas Press Release

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Alderman Karas calls for Reorganization at City Hall 

Offers thanks to retiring City Administrator for his dedication to the City 

First and foremost, Alderman Pete Karas offers his appreciation to the retiring City Administrator.   “I thank Steve Nenonen for his service to the City of Racine,” said Karas.  “Personally, I have always found him to be honest, responsive, hard-working, and to do what he felt was best for the City of Racine.   He is a fine individual with admirable core values and I wish him the best in any future endeavors, whether they involve other civic activities or an enjoyable retirement.”

With the announced retirement of our current City Administrator, Karas feels the timing is right for the City of Racine to make organizational changes in the City’s administrative structure.  These changes need to be tailored so they not only fit the needs of the people of Racine, both as taxpayers and users of our City services, but also enhance the democratic process.  Any new structure should ensure that City government’s administrative structure meets the criteria of being more accessible, efficient, effective, and democratic than the current structure.

 

Four years ago, Karas advocated against creating a City Administrator position and offered the alternative of creating a Vice-Mayor (or Deputy Mayor) position, filled by a person that would be more accountable to the people the City serves.  Karas’ position on this has not wavered in the last four years.  Karas believes that to now hire another highly-compensated City Administrator does not serve the people and taxpayers of Racine well and will have an adverse affect on the City’s future budgets.  This effect is especially apparent in these tight fiscal times when the City is reducing its workforce and services, while at the same time, generating revenue through the increased charging of fees to its citizens and businesses. 

“It is very bothersome to me that any individual the City may hire in the highly-compensated, powerful and authoritative position of City Administrator is too distantly accountable to the people of Racine,” said Alderman Pete Karas, who serves the ninth district residents.  “I do agree that in order to make the Mayor’s office operate at a high degree of efficiency, that there does need to be another position involved in our chief executive’s office.  I believe that an appointed vice-mayor, who is more directly accountable to Racine’s people and voters, as the elected mayoral position is, adds to democracy and transparency in City government.”

Karas envisions the vice-mayor position to be compensated at a level less that the mayor’s salary and appointed or terminated at the discretion of the mayor, with very few restrictions.  In addition, the term of the position would coincide with that of the term of the mayor, so that they could work together productively and be accountable to the voters as a team.  If this position is created, it should attract a highly motivated, dedicated local person who not only has an interest in serving the people of Racine through civic service, but also will have both strong administrative and communication skills, freeing up the Mayor, whomever it may be at any time now or in the future, to work on the broader issues facing the City.  With our local economy desperately needing local jobs, this position should allow for a mayor to work on key economic issues, while at the same time, having a right-hand person to help with administrative and constituent duties and services.

Karas recognizes that this new position will not be an elected official, as State law prohibits this becoming an elected position.  That said, just the title (whether it be vice mayor or deputy mayor) and coinciding term length of the new position will create and imply direct accountability to the position of mayor.

“In reality, I believe that it may be very difficult to eliminate an administrative position of this sort altogether,” noted Karas. “I believe the proposal I’ve again put forth could be a middle ground for those on the City Council who will be approving the future direction of administrative roles. I look at this recent retirement as an opportunity to make administrative position changes so that the City may better serve the people and taxpayers of Racine.”

Karas will be submitting a formal communication in the near future to the City Council that further expands on the details of this proposal.

Interview with Alderman Hopeful Terry McCarthy

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What are three issues that you believe Racine needs to improve upon? And do you have suggestions on how to make these improvements?

 

Issue 1 – Continued Revitalization of Racine

I believe that neighborhoods and downtown are important pieces of what makes Racine a great place to live.  We need to encourage programs to improve them.  Racine should be the residential community of choice for regional jobs.

 

Issue 2 – Responsible use of Tax Dollars

Increased and additional taxes are not the solution to our budget situation.  We need to eventually eliminate Madison’s involvement in our taxing and spending decisions.  Right now, we should eliminate spending and services where other community organizations already offer the same service.  Additionally, we should establish priority-based budgeting.  This means finding out what programs are important to the citizens of Racine and focusing our resources on those.

 

Issue 3 – Neighborhood Safety and Services

Crime is a problem in Racine.  The bigger issues need to be left to the police, but a lot of the petty crime can be reduced by citizen involvement in programs like Neighborhood Watch.  I am an advocate of Chief Whalen’s community policing philosophy.  I would much rather see the police knowing the kids in the neighborhood before there are problems than showing up to arrest them afterward.

 

 

What do YOU enjoy about living in Racine?

I love the lakefront and the trails.  I enjoy the setting of a smallish city where I always run into people I know but also having Milwaukee and Chicago just a train ride away.

 

 

What are some things you enjoy during your spare time?

Running – this virtue allows me to partake in my food vices.  I’m a very involved person with our school board, neighborhood watch, church choir and city Parks and Rec Board.  Hockey is my sport that I follow, including a fantasy league.

 

 

If you could hand pick our next president who would it be and why?

Not a specific person, but some who would have a rapport with the country as did Reagan or Clinton.

 

 

If you had 1 million dollars to donate to any charity, what would it be?

I tend to give my time volunteering.  I’d put the money into an endowment and use the proceeds to fund education for underprivileged youth, volunteering my time to find and work with them.  Teach a kid to fish…

 

 

If you win this next election, what is on your “To Do” list?

To organize a communication network in the district.  I want to be sure I know what my constituents want from me and they are informed about what I’m working on for them.  I also plan to simply run/ride/walk the district on a regular basis.  Next, I want to find out about every neighborhood watch organization in the district and get myself and the police to their meetings on a regular basis.  These are the people who make the neighborhoods that make the city.

 

If you do not win, what is next for you?

Relaxation, then catching up on the house projects I’ve neglected while campaigning.

 

 

Trying to put any humility aside, what three words/phrases would you use to describe yourself as leader in Racine?

Common sense

Beholden to no one

Fair-minded

 

 

What three words/phrases would you use to describe yourself as a person?

Sharp-witted

Involved

Approachable

 

 

What do you feel you have to offer that your opponent does not?

A strictly local focus. 

 

 

What do you feel has been you biggest success in life?

Moving my family to the UK for 3 years and our becoming fully integrated accepted at work, school, church, with neighbours…

 

 

Any regrets?

Not really.

 

 

What will you be doing after 8pm on April 3rd as you await the election results?

I’m out of town for work that day.  (I already voted!)   I’ll be waiting to land to hear the results.

 

Interview with Alderman Pete Karas

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After serving four years as an Alderman in Racine, what is the biggest force in your pursuit to run for another term?

 

When I first ran for office, I believed I could make a difference bringing new ideas and balance to the City Council.  The feedback I have received and my instincts have told me that I have made that difference.  I wish to continue to serve the people of the ninth district, the City of Racine, and also be an advocate with other governmental bodies and decision makers on behalf of the people of the City, as evidenced by my frequent testimony and communications to the State and County levels.

 

I have lived in the City of Racine my entire life and at my home in the ninth district for 20 years.  As I intend to spend the rest of my life here, I want to contribute as a public servant so that I and my fellow residents are able to thrive and feel secure in the city we call home.  I believe that my often out-spoken voice on the issues that are most important in Racine – jobs, taxes, and crime – have been heard by the people of Racine and elsewhere and that my words and actions have, and will continue to, better Racine and stimulate discussion on important issues.

 

 

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment/success as Alderman?

 

Of course, to the people of my district directly, I feel I have gone above and beyond what is the norm in constituent service.  I am most proud of the way I have been accessible, responsive, and inclusive to the people of my district and their specific personal or neighborhood concerns, often standing with them at City meetings and navigating the system for them.

 

On a City-wide scale, I believe that I have accomplished many things, but if I had to list the top few they would be:

 

  • Worked on public safety issues, both in the district and also citywide, creating a greater awareness of this problem and offered the solutions we have available to reduce violence, particularly gun-related violence.
  • Diligently been involved in the process and solutions to lowering the cost of healthcare for City employees, retirees, and the taxpayers —  an area that I have an expertise in and is the City’s largest and most addressable variable budget concern.
  • Created a greater atmosphere of openness and transparency in City Government
  • Offered out-of-the-box thinking and created a vision for Racine, including heading a group that is exploring the formation of an environmentally friendly, job-creating public electric utility.

 

 

Have you had any regrets as Alderman in the past 4 years?

 

On a personal level my biggest regret, while uncontrollable, was that I was unable to serve my constituents for several months in 2006 due to two major spinal fusion surgeries.  Fortunately, during that time Alderman DeHahn helped my constituents greatly and the surgeries were successful so that my chronic pain is now gone. 

 

On a policy level, I do look back and wish that I would have done more independent research and not relied only on the information the City provided the Council when I voted, along with the rest of the Council (15-0 vote) to form a Storm Water Utility.  Generally, I do diligently research issues on my own, but in this case, I did not dig deep enough.  If I would have, I would have realized that creating this utility was in effect a major tax increase instead of a budget and tax shift, which we were led to believe.   Lesson learned.

 

 

What are three issues that you believe Racine needs to improve upon? And do you have suggestions on how to make these improvements?

 

Crime:  We can not have further reductions in our sworn officers.  We are down from 211 to 198 in just a few years.  During last year’s budget process, I offered an amendment to keep the officers we were reducing this year and this was funded by a mistake I found in the actuarial estimates for our healthcare costs.  Unfortunately, this amendment was defeated on a close vote.  It is not only police that fight crime.  If reelected, I will continue to work with neighborhood groups so that they can make the places they live in the district.  As I mentioned before, I am very involved in gun violence reduction programs and will continue that passion of mine.

 

Jobs:  We need local jobs for local people.  I believe that we have exhausted our using of brownfields for high-end condominiums and that the City and its partners need to make bringing living-wage jobs to Racine a priority.  More living wage jobs would sove so many other problems in Racine.

 

Involvement:  Relatively few people are involved in the governmental process.  As Chair of the City’s Neighborhood and Housing Committee, I have led the effort to do bring these meetings into the neighborhoods instead of meeting only at City Hall.   I’ve also encouraged people who I believe to have the skills to be leaders in out community to seek positions on the City’s Boards and Commissions.  In the district, I am always working on increasing involvement as this gives the people of the Ninth a greater voice.

 

Racism and other prejudices:  This problem is ongoing and the solutions are not easy, here or anywhere else.  As Alderperson and as a citizen, I have first, tried to set an example through my own actions.  I’ve also been working on removing sexist language from our local laws and publications, something the City can do to set an example.  Too often, those who are isolated from the consequences of discrimination do not see the problem and the effect that this has on them, both directly and indirectly.

 

 

What do YOU enjoy about living in Racine?

 

This is my home where my family and friends are.  I believe Racine can once again become the thriving City it was a few decades ago and want to stay here and work on that change.  I personally enjoy the diversity of people, our great natural resources like the beach, the restaurants and the growing and thriving art and culture community.

 

What are some things you enjoy during your spare time?

 

Mostly, I enjoy spending time and being involved in my kid’s lives.  I am fortunate that we have a great relationship and friendship.  I also enjoy spending time with friends, as most people do.  I prefer a good conversation to most other things.  I am a very involved issue-orientated person politically and that does enter into my social life as many of my friends in Racine and elsewhere share the same core values.  Recreationally, I often bike, garden, and enjoy the outdoors.

 

 

If you could hand pick our next president who would it be and why?

 

Let me first say that many years ago (probably age 17) that I lost my faith in the two-party system and I have never voted for either of the “Corporate” driven party’s candidates for President, always voting for a third-party candidate.  In casting these votes, I feel I am voting for the future.

 

That said, her are a couple of names:  Howard Zinn,  Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Robert Morales, Juscha Robinson, and George Martin.  I highly doubt if any of these will be our next president.  (If we were talking recent, but past political figures, I would think Shirley Chisolm and Eugene McCarthy would be at the top of the list.)

 

If you had 1 million dollars to donate to any charity, what would it be?

 

The Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund of which I am Board President, with the contingency that the money be used on programming in Racine.

 

Priority question: (Sorry, I deleted the wording in error)

 

Of course, continue to diligently serve the people of the district.  Beyond that, my primary focus will be the budget (healthcare costs and administrative personnel modifications at City Hall,) which drives services and taxes in Racine.  Along with that, I will continue to promote a put-people-first agenda for City Government

 

 

 

If you do not win, what is next for Pete Karas?

 

I will, as I always have, stay active in the issues I feel are important, including spending more time working on the Bright Public Power Initiative, which if approved, would bring so many benefits to the City of Racine.  I may or may not run for another local office, depending on the timing and my personal situation at the time.  At this time, I do not envision running for a State office anytime in the future.

 

 

Trying to put any humility aside, what three words would you use to describe yourself as leader in Racine? What three words would you use to describe yourself as a person?

 

Leader:  Proactive, Outspoken, Populist

Person:  Thoughtful, Listener, Respectful

 

 

What has been the most difficult part of being Alderman?

 

Primarily, the biggest challenge is to balance monetary constraints with the needs of the people.  The cost-shifting from the State and the Feds to local government has been dramatic and borderline immoral.  This is why I spend the time needed to communicate to these other governmental bodies.

 

 

What do you feel you have to offer that your opponent does not?

 

While I respect Terry as good person and thank him for a clean campaign, there are differences which are evident from the forums we have jointly attended:

 

The experience of knowing how to get things done for the people of the district is an immediate difference as I have already gone through the learning-curve and done it in a shorter period of time than most people since I was involved in many City issues before being first elected.

 

I am self-employed in Racine and have a flexible schedule.  My office is two blocks from City Hall.  Terry works in Illinois, and I have found him accessible on his cell phone during the day, but during the work day he is located farther from City Hall.  I believe that makes constituent service more responsive.

 

Next, my record of taking on issues that others have not, because they are not politically safe,  e.g. the Racine Rave fiasco.  (I do not know that Terry would or would not do this, but I believe that I am one of the very few local elected officials that has consistently done this and Terry has stated that he would have primarily a district focus.)

 

My voice is broader geographically than his as I feel we need to speak to the other governmental bodies that have an effect on the people of Racine.

 

Recognizing the reality that in our relatively stable district, we will not have the community policing presence that some other high-crime areas in the City will have, and with this realization, using different approaches to our joint goal of crime-reduction in the district.

 

I believe we must and can locate employer-created jobs in the City, while Terry views us as a commuter town.

 

My belief is in local control, as evidenced by my support of lower-cost, more environmentally friendly municipal utilities, while Terry believes this should stay in the private sector.

 

I encourage the people of the Ninth to watch the CAR25 forum before the election to see other differences.  (I’m pretty sure we agree on this issue.)  I expect a link to the District 9 forum in the next day or so at my website:   http://www.petekaras.com

 

 

What will you be doing after 8pm on April 3rd as you await the election results?

 

Win or lose:  My son, who is my campaign manager and has been with me the entire way, and I have yet to decide this.  We may be at home with a few people, or join a group or two at local election night events that evening.  Win or lose, we will both be celebrating the clean campaign on both sides and the democratic process of the campaign and election.

 

Proposed Wisconsin Video Choice Bill

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On Tuesday March 27, 2007 I attended a hearing at the state capitol in Madison regarding the proposed bill that would allow for statewide video franchises. While this may seem drab and insignificant to many, it was actually very interesting and I am hoping for a positive outcome – which to me, seems obvious.

 

The hearing room was packed and the hallways leading into the room were also filled with standing observers. The hearing generated a much larger crowd than they had anticipated and they eventually had to open an extra room down the hall and pipe the testimonies and responses through their sound system. This bi-partisan bill is one that will possibly create many changes for consumers and businesses in Wisconsin. It is much larger then just a matter of who will be offering video service.

 

Representative Phil Montgomery (R-Ashwaubenon) and Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) have written and are sponsoring this proposed bill. From what I understood the political supporters of this bill feel this is only sensible considering the technology we have in today’s world. Currently when a cable company – which is currently held as a monopoly by Time Warner in our area – they need to negotiate with each and every municipality for a contract to service that area. This proposed bill would not only change the language from ‘cable’ provider to ‘video’ provider; but it would also allow for companies to negotiate their franchise fees with the entire state instead of each municipality.

 

Some individual community leaders seem to be against this bill as they are frightened the franchise fee will no longer go directly to them. They feel this can hurt their public local programming such as cable access channels in which the franchise fee (usually about 5%) pays for. However, it was also implied that many of the localities do not use the entire portion of the fee for such intended uses anyway. What was not mentioned during the time I was there – the intended 5 hour session went on for nine hours and we could not stay for its entirety – that cable access and PEG (Public, Education and Government) channels are only offered to paying cable subscribers as it is. And it was never said that these cities, towns and villages would not still retain the same amount of money as they are now. The opposition seems solely fear based.

 

Many democratic groups such as The League for Women Voters are also against this bill due to the unknown. They share the concerns about the PEG Channels and worry about income and racial discrimination.  They feel that some people may not be able to pay for these services they deem necessity. However, once again, it was not mentioned that these are services that already require a hefty monthly fee.

 

The fact is, in this day and age we must have legislation that matches current society and its technologies. We must also allow for a competitive business market which would ensure better customer service, lower prices and a consistently improving product.

A big supporter of this bill is, of course, AT&T who is now offering video service through its new UVerse system. Wisconsin president of AT&T assured the committee and observers that the CEO of AT&T made the statement that the competition will be more than beneficial for the consumers.

 

Scott VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin, told the committee that when AT&T will enter the video market the "prices go down and service goes up." As simple as that.

 

This bill will also bring many jobs to Wisconsin as well as encourage new businesses to venture to our state. And everyone knows how much Wisconsin needs that very thing.

 

What this boils down to is that this is the first hearing regarding this bill. It will be debated by the committee on April 24th. After nine hours of testimony from both the opposition and the supporters, I feel they likely have more than enough information on which to base their decision. Amendments to the written proposed bill are likely to be made to level the playing field and perhaps make the opposition more comfortable with the bill in its end result.

 

This bill means more jobs for Wisconsin. Possible new businesses to our state. Better customer service, lower rates and a better product for our citizens. In my opinion, the positives of this bill far out weigh any possible concerns for negative outcomes. In fact, I really cannot see any reason to deny this bill.

 

Please contact your local legislators to show support for this bill. Let them all know that we do care and we do want a choice!!

 

Premonition (2007) – A Review

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Premonition (2007) – A Review

 

Okay. So, I like Sandra Bullock. I don’t know what it is; I guess it is her humorous and real personality that shines through when she is on the screen either as herself or the characters she portrays. Now, do I like most of her movies? I wouldn’t say that. I really liked Hope Floats, 28 Days, and While You Were Sleeping. But I wouldn’t say they were sincerely ground breaking or over powering. Nonetheless, her starring in Premonition was a selling point for me when I first saw a trailer months ago. Of course the biggest draw for me was the subject matter. Anyone who knows me knows my fascination with death, paranormal, psychic activity, powers of the mind and all that sort of fun stuff. For these reasons, I simply had to see this movie opening weekend. I am so glad I did.

 

I feel as though I perhaps see more into movies than either: a) what may actually be meant or b) what others may see in the film.  This could be true with this movie as well, but I think it is the latter.

 

With many movies it is difficult to give a real review without giving away much of what needs to be experienced first hand. That is definitely the case with Premonition. So, first I will say that the exhausting but powerful performance by Bullock was commendable. She was in every single scene and the toll must have been heavy. She pulled it off with gold stars.

 

The story was very unique.  The dialogue did not stand out as incredible, but you have to understand that this is almost a one woman show. So far I see no flaws in the writing. I will watch it again, but I think that most of the common confusions with the stories lines can be explained.

 

The movie goes back and forth and you really need to pay attention and have a great sense of time. It can be tricky to figure out if what is happening is past, present or future. But if I could figure it out…I am sure anyone can.

 

Now, I want to discuss what this movie said to me. It may however be a gateway to spoilers. So, if you plan on watching this movie and want to do so with a fresh head…do not read any further. Just know that it is a movie worth watching, you need to pay attention and definitely open your mind.

 

Bullock’s character in the film was a housewife with a husband and 2 daughters. She was a stay at home mom and it was clear that she had been experiencing some depression prior to the news of her husband’s death. Through out the movie you go back and forth through moments when her husband is dead and alive. After she learns of his death, she experiences lapses in time when she seems to jump through timelines in her life changing little experiences here and there that impact the next timeline. Does that make sense? Anyway. She learns he was about to have an affair and for a moment, decides she prefers him dead and that even though she thinks she MAY be able to help avoid his death, she wonders if she should even do that. We learn during these times that their relationship was on its last breaths. They seem almost resentful and bitter towards one another.  She then has a conversation with a clergyman and asks his opinion on what she can/should do.  He basically tells her that she needs to find something to fight for…something to be hopeful about.  She finally decides that she wants to not only save her husband, but their marriage. The night before she thinks he is going to die she explains to him (in very little words – mostly tasteful and romantic actions) that she wants their marriage to survive. They end up making love. The next day she wakes up and it is the day he is to die. She does what she can to stop it. She finally gets in touch with him on his cell phone and tells him that she knows all about the affair and that she doesn’t care – she loves him. They exchange ‘I loves yous’ a few times and she sees his car ahead of hers right at the spot he was suppose to die. She tells him to turn around – thinking that will change the course and he would survive. But when he does this, a gas tanker hits his car – obviously killing him.

 

She wakes at the end, you know it is months later and she has a pregnant belly.

 

She was able to changes the details in her life. She was able to forgive her husband before he died; instead of him dying while they both lived in contempt of one another. She was able to come to terms with the possibility of his death; instead of the sudden shock. She was able to allow him to spend some quality time with his children; knowing she may not be able to stop his demise. And of course, she was able to create another child – one that would have never existed otherwise. But she was not able to change his ultimate fate. She was not able to stop his death. 

 

This is how the film spoke to me, being a depressed housewife and mother whose marriage has seen better days…

 

We can change how we behave and react in our lives right now. We can decide to make our lives better for the moments we are in presently. We can make little changes that can affect us forever. But we truly have little control over our ultimate fate. And when it comes down to it – we all have the same fate; death. It can come when we least expect it. It can come after a long, hideous illness. But it will come. What we need to do is live our lives for the happiness and love that sit in our paths right now. RIGHT NOW.

 

Not a new theory. Nothing I am saying hasn’t been heard a million times before. But perhaps this needs to be drilled into our heads – though movies, music, books, news…we need to start living the way we deep down know we should. You want to know the meaning of life? This is it, my friends. As simple as that. Life is short. Live, love, give and appreciate. Period.

 

Most of us won’t have the opportunities the characters had in this movie. We need to take those opportunities now because instead of waking up to yesterday…we may not wake up at all.

March 19, 2007

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I haven’t written in a while and I guess I have a lot to say.
 
First things first…
I had my court hearing Friday and it was a success. My probation was terminated early. (You can get a background on this reading the blogs under the section The Day That Changed My Life). A lot of relief, but for some reason I am not as on cloud nine as I thought I would be. Perhaps more time needs to help me sink it in. It all went pretty quickly. I give so many thanks to my attorney, my psychologist and everyone else who has shown support and genuine concern this past 18 months. Thank you all so much.
 
I will talk more about this later.
 
I found 2 pictures of myself from my honeymoon. That was September of 2003. So, that was 3 1/2 years ago I guess, right? Only 3.5 years. How on EARTH did I age so much in that short amount of time?? I look at these and feel so old and crappy looking. Here are the pics so you can see what I mean:
 
 
 
Here is a more recent picture:
 
 
What happened to me??? Ugh. It is so depressing.
 
 
On Saturday I went to see Premonition. I am writing a review and will post it later separately. I really liked it. Even more so than I had anticipated, it was a much different movie – and had a different impact than I had expected.
 
Saturday night after the kids went to bed we watched Stranger than Fiction. I also liked this. Wasn’t a terribly life changing movie, but just the nice little story I needed to end the day.
 
Sunday Charlie and his ex wife got into it and the morning was very stressful. We had found out that the 3 days his daughter was with her mom this past week, she ate nothing but crap. Including eight chocolate chip cookies for lunch on Saturday. Nice. Then she was over an hour late picking her up Sunday morning. We have an appointment for the three of us to see a counselor to learn how to better get along so we can provide my step daughter with some consistency and a healthy lifestyle. She told Charlie yesterday that if I go (which she is desperately afraid of and we all know why) she will bring her mother. Her mother, if you had read my other postings is a nightmare in herself. This is a woman who raised compulsive liars, taught my step daughter to pull the wings off of live flies (after I tried to teach her the importance of respecting even the lives of insects), cheated on her husband many times (from what I hear from many who knew the family through out the years), and then had her marriage annulled after 20 some years because God forbid she commit a catholic sin LOL. Yet she can throw her judgment around like a baseball hitting anyone she sees fit. She said that my husband and I weren’t REALLY married because we were married in a Unitarian Church by a homosexual minister. Whatever. She also is apparently the person who pushed and pushed until her daughter finally took my step daughter to the ER that infamous day to have me accused of abuse. Needless to say, my husband and I would have a difficult time even being in the same room with this person. Not to mention, she has no right or reason to be there.
 
Well, later that day his ex called to apologize…this is a common occurrence and her apologies are as often and meaningful as my husband’s gas. So we shall see…yet again.
 
Later that day Charlie and I went to see Children of Men. Very good movie. And yes, I will have a review for that soon as well.
 
After picking up Cass we decided to go grocery shopping. I had been feeling perfectly fine. But then all of a sudden I got super dizzy. Very lightheaded and felt like I was going to pass out. My breathing became shallow and my heart began to pound. Then, the tightness in my throat set in. I took a little extra of my beta blocker for the heart racing and half of an anti-anxiety med in case it was a panic attack. But I was mystified because I had been feeling just fine. Plus I haven’t had an anxiety/panic attack…well, I cannot even remember the last time. So of course I worry it is something physical and of course, serious.
 
I got home and went to lay down. I laid down the entire rest of the night. I would fall asleep here and there and the jolt awake as if struck by lightening. This went on until about 1am. I woke up about 5:30 this morning and still do not feel right. Real tense and sore all over. And worried "it" is coming back. Worried something is going on. I really thought all of this was behind me.
 
I wish Charlie had stayed home today. I just want to sleep. I am suppose to go to the dentist today. But I really don’t want to.
 
I will write more later.
 
***UPDATE***
I just saw this news story online:
 
 
There was a mine explosion killing at least 25 people in Russia at 11am Moscow time Monday. That would have been around 3am our time if I am calculating correctly. I don’t know if you have read my past posts about having strange physical symptoms before a tragic event. But a couple of them have had to do with mines and/or Russia. Very strange. Now, this is a mine IN Russia. Of course, I am not saying this is what caused my nasty feelings yesterday, after all – the time wasn’t right. I began feeling these symptoms around 6pm and they lasted until about 1am (when I finally fell asleep). I don’t know if time is a factor in empathic situations or not. Just saying….something to think about.
 
***Update***
As of 3/21/07 – the death toll in the Russian mine explosion has reached 107.

Please read…

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Today I was told by several people on a local blog site that it was "dangerous" or "nuts" or "irresponsible" to have pictures on my public website. In fact it seems many think that having a public website in the first place is crazy…especially one as personal as mine.
 
It is true…I do share a lot. Not all – trust me…but a lot. I have always been sort of proud of that. I felt I had nothing to hide, nothing to be afraid about sharing or ashamed in anyway.
 
This website has brought joy into my life. Especially during times when I felt no one could hear me…no one really understood. I could share it with the universe in this strange intangible place. I felt a lot of relaxation in that. It was/is my outlet. My only outlet.
 
I have come into contact with many people whom I haven’t heard from in years because of this blog site. What a great gift.
 
I have connected with others who would email me to tell me thank you for writing about a certain issue because they could relate and for so long they felt alone. Another wonderful opportunity.
 
I have been contacted by newspapers and even the Montel Williams Show – simply because of what I have written here in my little laptop galaxy. Dreaming of being a writer one day, exposure is definitely a plus.
 
And I have had the chance to communicate with people that I do not often speak to, never speak to, or cannot speak to….again, through my blogs.
 
I don’t know if I am ready to give all of that up. I do not know if I should. For now, I have taken down my pictures. I never felt at risk having them there. I always felt it was no different than allowing your children in public. Or writing a letter to the editor. People can find you easily these days…information is very accessible. However, I was made to feel as though I was doing something very wrong and I need time to think about this. If any of you reading have an opinion…please….let me know. I would love to hear from anyone on this.
 
 
***UPDATE***
As you can see, I decided to put the pictures back up. I may change my mind in the future as I gather more opinions and read about the actual dangers vs. paranoia. Thank you to all who have contacted me about this.