December 8, 2007

Snow + Kids + Sleds + Hill = Joy

What more need we say, except that these were taken Saturday at Lockwood Park on Ohio. Enjoy! (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

More photos after the break.

Many ways to come down the hill.

Then turn around and climb back up for another run!

And finally: Sisters, in Five Acts

Girl, 16, shot dead in Sixth Street bar fight

Racine has another homicide, the result of yet another bar shooting.

At 1:15 a.m. this morning, Racine Police responded to a report of a fight and shots fired at Cera's Tequila Bar, 607 Sixth Street, and found a 16-year-old girl suffering from a single gunshot wound to the back.

She was taken to the Wheaton Franciscan emergency room where she died. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Racine Police do not have anyone in custody or a suspect description. Investigators would like to speak to anyone who was at the bar Friday night or early Saturday morning prior to the incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Racine Police Department at 635-7700, or Crimestoppers at 636-9330.

UPDATE, 12/10: The victim has been identified as Autumn A. Ford. Racine Police have not identified a suspect. Autumn was a student in the Racine Unified School District.

December 7, 2007

Acoustic Yuletide concert at the Theatre Guild Dec. 21

Acoustic musicians Paffrath, Johnson and Ward

Racine singer/songwriters Zachary Scot Johnson, Mark Paffrath and Jeff Ward will present “An Acoustic Singer/Songwriter Yuletide,” at the Racine Theatre Guild on Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m.

The event will reprise some of the songs they presented in an April concert, as well as new material and seasonal selections.

The Racine Theatre Guild is at 2519 Northwestern Ave. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Call the RTG at 262.633.4218.

The evening will take on the tradition of a “singer/songwriter round robin” or “song swap,” with all three singers on stage, taking turns, possibly with others joining in. The result is an evening with interesting juxtapositions of artists, material and styles with improvisation and spontaneity.

More on the performers after the break.

Zach Johnson is a recent graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, with a triple major in music performance, acting and psychology and is pursuing work in theater and music. His debut CD, Moment of Clarity, was released in 2004. He has performed with The Be Good Tanyas, Jane Siberry and Grammy winner Shawn Colvin, whom Zach credits (along with Joni Mitchell) as the artists who inspired him to become a singer/ songwriter.

His second CD, To Whom It May Concern, due in January, was influenced by Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams. A multi-instrumentalist, he plays piano, guitar, violin, banjo and more.

Zach is teaching music at the Prairie School. For more info, visit his website and MySpace page.

Mark Paffrath, a pop/folk singer and songwriter has been performing for 25 years. He's a longtime Racine musical fixture in groups like Paffrath & Dykhuis, Marvin & the Dogs, Moulin Rouge, Paffrath & Holly, Big Nick & The Cydecos and over the last decade as a solo act. He plays mandolin, violin, guitar, drums and percussion.

In the mid 1980s Paffrath & Dykhuis won a WI Area Music Industry award for “Best Folk Artists.” In 1999 Paffrath & Holly released the CD Rainbeat which won “Best CD” in a Journal Times reader’s poll. Mark has also been “Best String Player” for several years in the Journal Times poll. In 2002 Mark won in five categories, and in 2003 he was named "Best Musician."

Mark is a founding member of the Racine Emergency Shelter Task Force, and served for 15 years as a founding member of the "Thoughts for Food" event which benefits the Racine County Food Bank. He has his own music booking, management and publishing operation, New Leaf Music Enterprise.

He and his wife, Amanda, who owns Funky Hannah’s and Hot Shop Glass, have two children. His CDs are available at Funky Hannah’s or at his website.

Jeff Ward has been performing on the local and regional scene since the early 1980s.

His interest in music began early, as part of a musical family. In his early teens he learned to play the guitar and sing the songs of Ireland and Scotland, as his Irish heritage (from counties Cork and Donegal and the surrounding English/Scottish countryside) became an integral part of his influences.

Jeff founded the Carlisle Folk Club, in the North West of England, hosting the top Celtic and contemporary performers. He worked as MC and support artist and built a reputation as a performer.

Since settling in Racine, Jeff has performed on Irish TV and at major Irish music festivals.

His music represents traditional and contemporary songs from Ireland, Scotland and America. Jeff has opened or performed with some of the premier Irish performers, including Lunasa, Sharon Shannon, Robbie O'Connell, Maura O'Connell, Danu, Luka Bloom, Gaelic Storm, and Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl.

YWCA closing; CEO Debbi Embry is out

The Racine YWCA, as we have known it here for 113 years, is no more.

The distinctive brick building on College Avenue, up for sale since October, will close this weekend. The gym, fitness center and pool will be empty.

The organization's CEO for the past four years, Debbi Embry, "is no longer with the Y," after a board meeting Wednesday night. (She is the daughter of legendary NBA star Wayne Embry of the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.)

A lot is still up in the air, but a visit to the Y this afternoon found it a bustle of activity. In the gym, a mixed group of volleyballers -- four men, four women -- were enthusiastically competing against bandaged knees, their age and the occasional spike.

Volunteers hauled dozens of poinsettias to their cars, delivering them to buyers, evidence of a successful fund-raiser.

But there was an air of sadness, of uncertainty. Employees were getting a lot of hugs, and questions were everywhere, as members asked, "what about my membership?" A letter is being prepared; it will state, among other things, that the YMCA has offered a month's free membership to any YWCA member -- there are about 400 -- and will waive its usual initiation fee if they decide to join.

Members were told in October, when it was announced that the building -- designed by architect Fitzhugh Scott in 1950 after Frank Lloyd Wright withdrew his design (or was rejected; stories differ) -- that the Y would try to keep the building open until the end of the year; it's falling just three weeks short. The property at 740 College Ave. is listed for sale HERE for $650,000.

There are unconfirmed reports that a local doctor toured the building on four occasions, and said he was interested in locating his office there and in keeping the pool and fitness center operating.

As recently as two weeks ago, Embry was insistent that the YWCA would be able to keep its core programs -- as opposed to physical fitness -- operating from smaller rental quarters, despite the financial difficulties besetting the program.

And, indeed, such appears to be the case. Programs like Dress for Success, and Women's Economic Empowerment Programs will continue, as will all the outreach programs for kids like Before and After School fee-based programs based at a dozen school sites, and programs at Riverbend Nature Center.

Presumably, the YWCA will take with it the large hand-lettered document listing past presidents of the YW, all the way back to the first, Mrs. Charles Erskine, 1894. Many familiar names pepper the list: Gittings, Fratt, Eastman, another Gittings, another Fratt, Parrish, Kontra. Nobody knows what wall the framed remembrance will hang on in the future, but it won't be the same.

Mobile library out of service for awhile

The Racine Public Library's Mobile Library is experiencing technical problems and will not be in service today and Saturday, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8.

Depending on the nature of the problem and how long it takes to make repairs, the Mobile Library may be out of service additional days. Patrons who normally use the Mobile Library are advised to call the Adult Services Department, 262-636-9217, for an update before planning a visit to the Mobile Library.

Materials due at the Mobile Library while it is out of service will be renewed, and fines will not be charged.

NY Times giveth; Journal Times taketh away

Why is it always outsiders who love Racine, and locals who run it down?

Just last week, the New York Times printed a love note about the city, featuring its art galleries, converted factory space, lofts and gritty charm. "A port of call for art," they called us; "the bedrock of revitalization."

So how does the local newspaper respond? With a column pointing out some things the reporter might have missed; the need for another cop house, the loss of thousands of factory jobs over the years, an attack on an 80-year-old woman. Columnist Mike Moore doesn't just write this stuff, he calls the Times' editor in charge of the Travel section that featured the piece to ask why they wrote about about us for the third time in three years.

And to suggest that perhaps the conflict between good and bad, the balance between glowing reviews and the fact "our city is pretty screwed up" could make another story next year.

Gee, thanks for nothing! Ever hear the expression, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth?"

Ever hear the expression, "Don't foul your own nest?"

Ever wonder whether there are any stories worth covering that don't originate at the Police Station? Ever wonder why the Journal Times didn't bother covering the wonderful artists' studio open house last Saturday, involving more than a score of local artists?

Moore and the Journal Times need to reflect on their role in the community and realize they affect, perhaps more than anyone else, what people think about Racine. It's time for the new leadership at the paper to set aside their cynicism and do some soul-searching about their commitment to our community. Some days, it's hard to tell if they even care.

New York, by the way, had 579 homicides last year. Keep that in mind when you plan your next visit there. Just for balance, of course.

December 6, 2007

New principal for Gilmore Middle School

Starting Monday, there will be a new principal at Gilmore Middle School, and new assistant principals at McKinley Middle School and Wadewitz Elementary School.

Gilmore's new directing principal will be Dr. Gary Jackson, who has been one of the school's two assistant principals.

Gilmore's current principal, Dr. Richard Larson, will move to McKinley Middle School as the assistant principal.

And Rebecca Zahn, currently an assistant principal at Gilmore, will move to the same position at Wadewitz.

RUSD offered no explanation for the assignment changes.

Ryan votes 'no' as House passes 'misguided' energy bill

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, voted no this afternoon as the House passed a comprehensive energy bill that President Bush already has threatened to veto.

The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed by 235-181, and now goes to the Senate.

It would:
-- Raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020;
-- Boost biofuel production to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022;
-- Repeal $13 billion in tax breaks to oil companies to fund renewable energy, biofuels and energy efficiency;
-- Force utilities to raise the portion of power from renewable sources like wind, geothermal and solar to 15% by 2022. Among other provisions.

Ryan called the bill "flawed" and "misguided" and said it "fails to increase the supply of many proven energy resources that exist in abundance in the U.S., raises taxes on American companies by more than $20 billion, and relies on a big-bureaucracy approach to energy policy that creates many opportunities for waste and abuse – and would likely increase costs for consumers."

He also said the "mammoth legislation" (it has 1,055 pages) "was only released yesterday -- offering little time for thorough examination."

Ryan said he supports the provision of the bill that requires electric suppliers, other than rural electric cooperatives and governmental entities, to provide 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy resources by the year 2020. "This policy builds on Wisconsin’s leadership in this area," he said. (The state already requires 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2011.) Ryan voted for this policy in August.

“As we’ve seen gas prices soar in recent weeks, it’s clearer than ever that we need to end our addiction to foreign oil imports. This bill won’t do that – and will actually make matters worse by raising taxes on U.S. oil and gas producers and tilting the competitive advantage to overseas producers. We need to develop renewable energy sources and improve energy conservation, while at the same time pursuing clean, conventional domestic fuel sources that will help lower energy costs. These approaches to energy security should complement one another – not work against each other,” Ryan said. “I was also disappointed to see this bill misuse taxpayer dollars to fund questionable ‘green pork’ tax credit bonds and other measures that open the door to waste and abuse."

Among its other "misguided policies," Ryan says the bill:
-- Wastes tax dollars on “green pork” – creating a new slush fund for governors and local officials in the form of billions in tax credit bonds, with only the loosest restrictions on how that money can be spent. For example, such bonds could be used to help complete an “indoor rainforest” project in Iowa, which is stalled for lack of local money, or to purchase hybrid snowmobiles for ski resorts in Aspen.

-- Creates “forestry conservation tax credit bonds” that appear to be a specific tax earmark. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this $500 million provision applies to only one parcel of land in Montana that is owned by a large private timber company.

-- Repeals the domestic manufacturing deduction for five American companies that explore, extract and refine oil and natural gas – forcing these companies to pay more taxes than other American manufacturers. Raising taxes on domestic oil and gas production reduces incentives to produce here in the U.S. and could lead to increased oil imports, and higher oil and gas prices.

-- Creates dozens of new, often duplicative government programs.

-- Authorizes funds for clean and energy efficient technologies in other countries.

December 5, 2007

Lehman proposing compulsory auto insurance law

What does Wisconsin have in common with New Hampshire? (Besides snowy winters.)

These are the only two states that don't require drivers to have motor vehicle insurance.

Not necessarily for long, if State Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, has his way. Lehman is circulating a bill, looking for cosponsors, that would require every driver in Wisconsin to have a valid motor vehicle insurance policy before taking to the road.

“Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right," Lehman said. "Wisconsin places a number of requirements on drivers like passing written and on-the-road skills tests. It’s common sense to also require drivers to be financially responsible for any injury or damage they might cause in an accident.”

Under Lehman’s bill, drivers would be required to have a liability policy or bond covering them for at least $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for one or more person’s injuries and at least $10,000 in property damage. The new financial responsibility requirement could also be met by having a deposit of $60,000 in cash or securities with the state Department of Transportation.

According to a recent study by the Insurance Research Council, Lehman said, if someone is injured in an automobile accident there is a one in seven chance that the at-fault driver is uninsured: “A person who is injured or suffers property damage as a result of an auto accident should not be doubly punished by the financial irresponsibility of another driver.”

While drivers could not be pulled over specifically to determine compliance with the law, a minimal fine could be imposed for failing to have proof of insurance in the vehicle. Larger penalties of up to $500 would be levied on drivers who fail to maintain the minimum level of coverage.

“Our state laws should help to make our roadways safe and secure and protect responsible citizens. This bill will help advance that cause by requiring every driver on the road to take financial responsibility for any damage or injury they may cause,” he concluded.

Frankly, it makes perfect sense to us. (Maybe because we also lived in New Hampshire for many years.) But then we remember, Wisconsin is one of the few states that doesn't even require motorcyclists to wear a helmet ...

McKinney coming to Wisconsin, seeks Green Party nod

I've lost count of the number of presidential candidates, can't name them all and frankly don't care. Those depressing TV debates, with six, eight, however many stiffs standing behind those matching podiums stretching left and right to infinity, answering questions from snowmen with self-deprecating humor.

Surely, this is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind?

So imagine my excitement at learning that yet another candidate is throwing her hat (yes, Hillary, it's no longer just the old guys ganging up on you!) into the ring.

Popping up in my inbox Wednesday night was the kind of press release designed to drive anyone concerned about the electoral process to despair.
Six-term Congresswoman, former Democrat and now Green Party member Cynthia McKinney is coming to Madison and Milwaukee on Tuesday, Dec. 11, as part of her "Power to the People" tour, promoting her campaign to win the Green Party nomination for President of the United States.
McKinney? Cynthia McKinney... that Cynthia McKinney?

None other. She's the congresswoman who walked around the metal detector at the entrance to the House Office Building, while not wearing her Congressional identity pin, and then got into a shoving match with the Capitol guard who tried to stop her. She's the congresswoman who's made statements accusing President Bush of involvement with 9/11. She's opposed aid to Israel, and anti-Semitic statements have repeatedly come from her campaigns.

This is the latest presidential candidate? This is the candidate Green Party members tried to recruit in 2000 and 2004? (According to Wikepedia.)

Well, here she is today, trying to win the Green Party nomination. Oh, joy. Here's the rest of the press release. Pay attention to the final paragraph...

Congresswoman McKinney will announce her candidacy and hold a press conference at the Madison State Capitol, room 330 SW at 12:30 p.m.

Rep. McKinney was the first African-American woman from Georgia elected to Congress, serving six terms in the House. Prior to completing her most recent term, she introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush charging him with manipulating intelligence and lying to justify the war in Iraq, failing to uphold accountability and violating privacy laws with his domestic spying program. The articles also included charges against Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Like Robert M. LaFollette Sr., Rep. McKinney has abandoned the establishment parties and chosen to run for president as a progressive, independent of the two-party system," said Ron Hardy, Co-chair of the Wisconsin Green Party. "During World War I, that establishment demonized Fighting Bob La Follette; today, during the Iraq War, Rep. McKinney is their target. We welcome her into the Green Party, to join us in our efforts to bring democracy, nonviolence, and justice to our country."

In addition to McKinney, other Green candidates appearing on the Wisconsin Green Party's presidential ballot will be: Jared Ball, college professor from the District of Columbia; Jesse Johnson, filmmaker and film company owner from West Virginia; Jerry Kann, child welfare non-profit administrative assistant from New York; Kent Mesplay, air quality inspector from California; Joe Schriner, journalist and author from Ohio; and Kat Swift, non-profit bookkeeper from Texas.

[Distribution of this release by the Wisconsin Green Party does not imply endorsement of any candidate for the presidential nomination.]
Thank goodness for that last statement! But where's Ralph Nader when we really need him?

Procrastinators on parade

All this talk about Global Warming clearly has left many Racinians confused.

Proof of their confusion sits in the repair lot of Central Saw & Mower on Lathrop Avenue, where hundreds of snowblowers shiver cold and forlorn, under a blanket of the snow they are born to push around.

Instead, the first real snowstorm of winter came in and dumped tons of the white stuff on their owners' driveways, while they sit ignominiously, with a yellow "REPAIR TAG" on their handles. Waiting.

And they'll continue waiting. Central Saw has five snowblower repair technicians working fulltime on just these snowblowers. But it will take weeks for them to get through the 300-400 machines already on hand.

"All they would have had to do was bring it in for a tuneup in the fall..." said one of the repair techs. Yeah, right. That's sort of like asking directions, isn't it?

December 4, 2007

Classical Dance Arts to perform 'The Story of the Nutcracker'

This came in from a friend of RacinePost ... it sounds like a wonderful performance for the holiday season. Here are the details:

The story of the Nutcracker
A One Act Ballet
December 08 & 09, 2007
The Studio of Classical Dance Arts, LLC is proud to present “The Story of the Nutcracker”, a one-act ballet. The hour-long ballet will be performed at Racine’s Park High School Theater on December 8 and 9 at 2:30 pm. This annual family friendly production is in its second year and includes a cast of 42 students ages 6–18. Tickets are available at The Studio during regular studio hours and at the theater the day of the performance. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information please contact The Studio at (262) 633-4450 or online at

Students in rehearsal for "The Story of the Nutcracker"

Park, McKinley school bands combine for Winter Concert

The Washington Park High Music Department and McKinley Charter School will combine to present a Winter Concert on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Park High Theater, 1901 12th Street.

Park High's Wind Ensemble under the direction of Edward Bergles will be featured, along with McKinley Charter School's 6th grade band, White Band and Red Band under the direction of John Schoettler and Josh Sherman.

The McKinley Charter School Bands will perform selections by John Phillip Sousa, Elmer Bernstein and Robert Curnow. The Park High Wind Ensemble will perform A Festival Prelude by Alfred Reed; Anne Laurie by Arthur Pryor featuring Michael Pollock on Euphonium; Korean Variations by John Barnes Chance; Frank Tichell's Amazing Grace and Leroy Anderson's A Christmas Festival.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $1 for adults and $.50 for senior citizens and students. Children under six admitted free. For information, call Ed Bergles at (262) 619-4437.

Author of Big 10 book will speak, sign copies at Library

For pure spectacle, passion and tradition, nothing in sports beats a college football rivalry – and the Big Ten has some of the best.

The Racine Public Library will host a presentation and book signing by sports writer Todd Mishler author of Blood, Sweat and Cheers: Great Football Rivalries of the Big Ten on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.

Whether it's reminiscing over Wisconsin and Minnesota's battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, or rehashing Ohio State and Michigan scrapping for conference dominance, you'll discover the history, ritual and color of some of football's oldest and greatest blood feuds. Books will be available for purchase. The program is free and no registration is required; space is limited, however.

Wisconsin native Todd Mishler graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He previously authored Cold Wars: 40+ Years of Packer-Viking Rivalry, Baseball in Beertown: America's Pastime in Milwaukee, and Great Moments in Wisconsin Sports.

Minors and cigarettes? Who said no, and who sold 'em

Carrot or stick?

The Racine Police Department is trying both approaches as it participates in the Wisconsin Wins campaign to decrease youth access to tobacco. Today it recognized 11 retailers who refused to sell tobacco products to underage purchasers.

At the same time, citations were issued against four retail locations with no such compunction, when compliance checks were made on Nov. 30.

The 11 outlets refusing to sell cigarettes to minors are:
Fine Fare Foods, 1819 Durand Avenue
Christiano’s, 2054 Kearney Avenue
Open Pantry, 2731 Durand Avenue
Walgreens, 3825 Durand Avenue
Pantry Plus, 2056 Taylor Avenue
Pick ‘N Save, 2406 S. Green Bay Road
Speedway, 2110 S. Green Bay Road
Clark Station, 5302 Washington Avenue
Walgreens, 4810 Washington Avenue
CVS, Pharmacy 1122 West Boulevard
Lee’s Deli, 2615 Washington Avenue
And the four cited for non-compliance are:
Plaza Smoker Shop, 3701 Durand Avenue
S & H Petroleum, 3818 Durand Avenue
Dan's Liquor, 1856 Taylor Avenue
Cigarette Outlet, 5108 Washington Avenue

Health insurance costs more in Racine than most of state

Health insurance costs more in Racine than almost everywhere else in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee and Racine tied for second place in the cost rankings prepared by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, in a report released today. Actually, Racine moved down a notch "due to the additon of a new qualified health plan." Last year the city was the most costly in the state.

"The results very much distress me," said Mayor Gary Becker, in a statement read by William Altizer, coalition director of Americans for Democratic Action. "I am asking the Legislature to get to work on this problem, and pass real health care reform this session."

This year, the most costly region to buy health insurance is several metro areas in Western and Northwestern Wisconsin -- Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, River Falls/Hudson and Superior -- in part because the city of Eau Claire was hit with a 57% increase in its 2008 rates.

The study found that health insurance in Milwaukee/Racine costs 25% more than in the state's least expensive city, Madison.

Monthly premium for single coverage here is $622.58, vs. $499.68 in Madison. Monthly premium for family coverage is $1,552.78, vs. $1,245.50. "This amounts to almost a $4,000 annual difference in the cost of a family policy and over a $1,500 difference in the cost of a single policy for the same benefits package," the report states. Racine/Milwaukee costs are almost 10% higher than the state average.

"This is an ongoing concern," said County Board Supervisor Diane Lange. "We are at a competitive disadvantage in our economy affecting workers and employers."

Juan Ruiz, of Voces de la Frontera, said, "A lot of poor people in the community have to decide: to eat or to buy their medicine."

The figures were obtained by analyzing the 2008 rates paid by the State of Wisconsin's Group Health Insurance Program. In 2006, the program covered over 194,000 individuals, including state employees, state retirees, some local government employees and retirees, and their immediate families and dependents.

Some other findings:

-- A November 2007 annual survey by Mercer Health & Benefits LLC found Wisconsin health insurance costs 23% above the national average ($1,868 more per employee).

-- Wisconsin health insurance costs increased 1-3% faster than the national average in 2007.

-- According to an actuarial analysis by the Lewin Group, Wisconsin health care costs will nearly double in the next 10 years, from $18.5 billion in 2007 to $35 billion in 2017.

-- "Managed competition" between health plans, in combination with large buying pools -- as proposed in the Senate's Healthy Wisconsin plan -- may place downward pressure on health care coverage costs.

-- In 1979, 73% of Wisconsin workers had health insurance through their jobs, but by 2005 the share had dropped to 58%.

The report was written by Robert Kraig, Ph.D., of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Ad director promoted to publisher at Journal Times

Rick Parrish has been promoted from advertising director to publisher of The Journal Times.

He succeeds Richard Johnston, whose background also was in advertising; Johnston last week became publisher of another Lee Enterprises paper, The Pantagraph, in Bloomington, Ill. (The two publishers before Johnston came up through the newsroom and were former editors.)

Parrish has been advertising director at The Journal Times since 2005.

Before joining Lee, he was retail advertising manager at the Idaho Statesman in Boise. Before that he worked in advertising at The Seattle Times.

He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Central Washington University. He and his wife, Jan, volunteer with Racine Youth Sports as basketball and baseball coaches and at The John Paul II Academy School. They have a son, Troy, who is in the second grade.

December 3, 2007

Hargrove appointed to School Board

Pastor Melvin Hargrove was named to the Racine Unified School Board Monday night.

Hargrove was selected after three other applicants for an open seat dropped out and endorsed him. Keith Fair, Norris Johnson and Stella Young all back Hargrove for the board.

Hargrove will serve out the final four months of Randy Bangs's term. Bangs left the board in November for personal reasons.

Hargrove, who is the head of Zoe Outreach Ministries, said Monday night he will run for a full term on the board in April.

Along with Fair, Johnson and Young, Hargrove beat out Joyce Gregg, Karen Norton and Jeff Peterson for the seat.

Hargrove was one of five African Americans who applied for the board, and will be the only board member of color.

What's in a name? Racine for Governor!

Hang on to your hat, the headlines may get confusing.

The headline in the Rutland Herald this morning read:
Racine Considers Run for Governor
No, they weren't talking about us, but rather Vermont State Senator Doug Racine, a former lieutenant governor of the Green Mountain state, who is considering another run for the State House.

Racine narrowly lost the 2002 election to Gov. James Douglas, 45 to 42%, in a three-way contest. Now he's considering running again.

So far, we like him. There's just something appealing about his name...

Go Racine! Stories HERE and HERE.

Entering the Global Marketplace seminar, Dec. 13

A half-day seminar for businesses wanting to "Enter the Global Marketplace," will be held at CATI (the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation) in Sturtevant on Dec. 13.

Presented by The World Trade Center Wisconsin and the Racine County Economic Development Corporation, the briefing by regional practitioners will tell participants how to build a solid foundation for international success.

Key areas will include:
Setting a Strategic Plan
Legal and Tax Issues
Risk Management and Insurance
Banking and Financial Issues
Moving Product Logistics
Political and Cultural Nuances
There also will be case studies and a panel Q & A.

The session will run from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., including breakfast and lunch with the speakers. The cost for members of The World Trade Center, RCEDC & KABA is $50; others, $65. To register: Go HERE or call 414-274-3840.

Rifle raffle for autism; not everyone approves

Not everyone is pleased with Terry Jackson's latest charitable donation.

The Racine gun dealer who raffled off an AK-47 this summer has a new cause -- autism -- and a new rifle to give away.

Jackson, who sells guns from his store, DropZone Surplus 'N' Guns at 2501 Douglas Ave., is offering
an AR-15 rifle, a handgun or a $300 store credit to the person who buys the $10 winning ticket. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16, the rifle used by U.S. troops in Iraq. It is somewhat more civilized, in that it is "only" a semi-automatic.

Jackson says he came up with the idea for his first raffle after coming across an organization in Northern Wisconsin raffling off 20 guns for charity. "They have a different view of guns up north than we do here in the city," he said.

After August's AK-47 raffle, which raised $1,000 for AmericanSnipers, an organization that supplies sniper equipment to active military personnel, Jackson was contacted by a local autism activist, Cindy Schultz, who told him, "If you're going to do another raffle, why not do it for a local group?"

Schultz, mother of a 9-year-old autistic son, is Southeastern Wisconsin representative for Angel Inc. (Autism Network through Guidance, Education and Life), a support group for other mothers. "Autism strikes one in 150 kids," she says, "and although the state encourages 'early intervention' the waiting list for in-home therapy is two years!"

So, even though the blogosphere has lit up with opposition to the rifle raffle -- "blood money," one mother called it -- Schultz is unrepentant. "I talked to the president of Angel Network, and she said we shouldn't back down. We need more people like you to help us moms who have kids with autism," she told Jackson this morning, as she dropped off camo t-shirts for him to sell, to benefit the autism group.

Not everyone agrees. "This is grossly inappropriate and makes my skin crawl," wrote Jenni Mai, when she saw a story about the raffle on the internet.

"Perhaps the organization ought to consider changing its name, because this is not something an 'angel' would do," wrote Karen Jarosz.

Hasmig wrote, "In light of the fact that a toddler just shot himself in Kenosha with a loaded gun that his mother kept in her nightstand, I do not think Jenni's concern is an insignificant one."

But the raffle also has its online defenders. Amy Edwards wrote, "Let's not forget how expensive it is to take care of our kids, and be grateful for the generosity of people. On the Border (a strip club) has donated money for our cause and there are other non-profits that do Poker Runs or have benefits at bars. Are we really going to start being so picky?"

Schultz said her group hopes the raffle raises $2,500, or more, money that would go far toward sponsorship of a specific child, or for speech therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, creation of a sensory room. Harley-Davidson riders have done fund-raisers for the organization; there is an Indoor Autism Walk scheduled at the Burlington Wellness Center on Jan. 19.

Therapy does work, Schultz said from personal experience. "Autism is treatable," she says, showing pictures of her son, Gavin, whose smile has returned after ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) thereapies and biomedical treatment.

More information is available at the Angel Autism Network's website.

Gun dealer mulls run for City Council

Terry Jackson and rifle he's raffling for Autism
More on the auction HERE.

UPDATE, 12/17: We asked Terry Jackson if he's decided to run, and here's his reply: "That would be no. If your blog was a small indication of my support, it would have gotten ugly... People either love me or hate me militantly. I would rather have a life and go to Sturgis."

He's gunning for ...
Taking a bead on ...
There's sure to be fireworks...

OK, got those bad puns out of my system; now we can begin:

Terry Jackson, the Racine gun dealer behind this summer's raffle of an AK-47 rifle for charity, has his sights on (Oops!) another target: a possible run for a Racine aldermanic seat.

Jackson took out papers at City Hall last week, although he hasn't filed yet.

If he does run, his campaign platform is direct: "I want to get rid of the mayor," he says. And, "There are too many lapdogs on the council."

Jackson says he has nothing against Mayor Gary Becker personally. "But we don't need the position; it's obsolete." He cites other Wisconsin cities with Council/Manager governments -- he says there are at least 12, but he can only name Fond du Lac -- and said ever since Racine hired a full-time administrator a city this size didn't need a mayor as well.

Pressed on Becker, Jackson says "His approval rating is dropping," although -- this not being Iowa or New Hampshire -- he can cite no polls to support this.

Where the aldermanic application form asks potential candidates to state "Who do you represent?" Jackson wrote, "the average person." If he runs, it would be in District 6, against incumbent Sandy Weidner, who has already declared her intention to run for re-election in the April 1, 2008, election.

Jackson is 43, married, father of two boys aged 20 months and 6 months (and two kids, 22 and 20 from an earlier marriage). He spent 15 years as an Army paratrooper, in Korea, Germany, Ft. Bragg, and other posts.

His earlier run-in with the city council came when he opened a pawnshop. "The minute it opened, the city council passed an ordinance forbidding pawn shops that sold guns from locating within 75-ft. of any residence." So six months ago Jackson opened DropZone Surplus, strictly a gun shop, at 2501 Douglas Ave.

OTHERS who have filed declaration of candidacies at City Hall include:
Robert L. Anderson, District 2, incumbent
James E. Kaplan, District 4, incumbent
Sandy Weidner, District 6, incumbent
Aron Wisneski, District 12, incumbent
Ronald D. Hart, District 14, incumbent

PROPERTY TRANSFERS: Racine County sells gravel pit

Racine County sold the Krueger Gravel Pit in Rochester for $320,000 on Nov. 21.

The 65-acre plot at 815 N. English Settlement Road, was a former gravel pit the county hadn't used in over 30 years. A county official approached the Rochester Town Board in May to discuss the county's desire to sell the land. The town agreed as long as a condition of the sale was the land be used for residential or light commercial development. It will no longer be used as a gravel pit.

The former gravel pit was divided off of the Krueger Parcel, which the county rents out for agriculture use. The remaining Krueger Parcel is not for sale.

Here are the property transfers for Nov. 21-27: