August 9, 2008

Ryan gets an award he's unlikely to cherish

Milwaukee's Shepherd Express singled out Rep. Paul Ryan, R-1st District, WI, for an award this week ... one that's unlikely to show up in any of his campaign ads.

It's a shared award: Ryan and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-5th District, WI, were given it together.

They're both Shepherd Express' Jerk of the Week.

Here's Shepherd's complete announcement, from their Aug. 7 issue:
In just one week, this dynamic duo opposed allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco products, voted against requiring the government to curb excessive speculation in the oil futures market, opposed a bill that would make higher education more affordable, and voted no on a bill that would empower women who earn less than their male counterparts.

Quilts on Barns (cont.)

Racine County's Quilts on Barns project continues, with another barn quilt installed, and more ready to hang. Above is the Bear Paw hung on the barn of Sherri Shaver at 12305 Braun Rd. It was painted by the First Friday Quilt club.

Black-Eyed Susan painted by Potpourri Garden Club will go up on Sara Neubauer's barn, 5553 Short Rd., probably on Aug. 24 when five are scheduled to be hung. Johnson & Son Roofing and JM Electrical are donating time and a lift to put them up.

Above are Pot Pourri club members who participated in the quilt painting. From left are Susan Ermert, Sue Hammel, Carol Uebe, Joyce Waldoch and Sharon Andersen.

Here's our story and photos of the first two barn quilts hung, on July 25.

August 8, 2008

Serenity a playful Rhodesian/Belgian mix

Serenity is a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Belgian Malinois mix. If you're unfamiliar with both breeds, run to Wikipedia as we did. The Rhodesian side is, of course, indigenous to South Africa, while the Belgian half comes from you-know-where. Of more interest, perhaps, is that both breeds are shepherds..

Serenity is an energetic 10-month-old female. She needs an owner who will be firm and a consistent handler, as she is so smart she will walk on you if allowed. She will be a loyal friend to the end. She is affectionate and playful.

She's available for adoption at Countryside Humane Society, 2706 Chicory Road, or call (262) 554-6699.

UPDATE, 8/21: We're told by Countryside: "A couple as full of energy as Serenity adopted her."

And then there were three: Mogk drops out

John Mogk, the last candidate to enter the Democrats' once-crowded 1st District Congressional race, is now the second to withdraw. His announcement was a surprise, since he had been an active campaigner here in Racine; he worked the crowds during the July 4 parade and was doing so again a couple of Saturdays ago during the MicroCar show on Monument Square.

The winner of the now three-candidate primary on Sept. 9 gets to take on established Republican incumbent Paul Ryan, and his $1.8 million or so campaign warchest. At first, it appeared there would be five candidates, but perennial hopeful (and loser) Jeff Thomas, although having insisted he would run, did not submit the signatures or file papers necessary to get on the ballot when the filing period closed on July 8. With Mogk's withdrawal, the Democrats must choose among first-timers Paulette Garin and Marge Krupp, and 2006's second-place finisher Mike Hebert.

Mogk, who only announced his entrance into the race on June 8, posted the following announcement on his website:
I, John Mogk, a candidate for U.S. Congress representing the 1st Congressional District, am announcing today my decision to withdraw from the Democratic primary scheduled for September 9. I entered the race in late May of this year at the urging of many supporters, and am proud of the campaign we've run, bringing up important issues like the environment, renewable energies, and creating jobs in Southeast Wisconsin.

From the beginning of the campaign, we held to my message that the election was bigger than any one candidate. It has been a long standing goal of the Democratic Party in the 1st CD to defeat Paul Ryan in the November election, and I will not stand in the way of achieving that. For the good of the Party I feel this is the time to step aside. The election was never about me, but about making a positive change for the people.

I do plan to stay involved with the local and presidential races, and the reasons I entered the race still need to be addressed. This district is facing the growing problems of a failing health care system, lost jobs, and a national debt that will drown the country, and deeply impact Southeast Wisconsin. Paul Ryan continues to be part of the problem and offers no solutions for the people, just sweeter deals for his special interests in Washington. I will continue working to help Sen. Barack Obama be elected President, and will fully support the Democratic nominee of the 1st district against Rep. Ryan.

I thank you all for your support, and urge every single one of you to stay active in the local, state, and national races this Fall. This is too important an election to dismiss. We all need to come together to ensure a better, brighter future for everyone.

John Mogk
More about Mogk HERE and HERE.

Library celebrates benefactor's 159th birthday

In 1927, the Racine Public Library received its very first bequest, from Mrs. Emily A. Lee, wife of Charles H. Lee, the first president of the Racine Public Library board of directors. Mr. Lee oversaw the development of the library from its first inception and Mrs. Lee's bequest continues to provide the library with funding to enhance library activities and programs.

August 10 marks the 159th birthday of Mrs. Emily Lee and the library will mark the occasion with a birthday celebration at 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11, at the library, 75 Seventh St. The public is invited to enjoy birthday cake while supplies last.

Iron Workers endorse Krupp

Marge Krupp, the Democratic candidate for Congress, earned another endorsement, this time from the Iron Workers union. It's a good sign for Krupp's campaign, which is trying to win a Democratic primary to challenge Paul Ryan in the fall. Krupp has also received endorsements from the National Organization of Women, the Women's Campaign Forum and Women's Action for a New Direction.

Here's her statement on the Iron Workers:
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisconsin - As her campaign to unseat incumbent Congressman Paul Ryan continues to gain momentum, Marge Krupp, the Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin's First Congressional District, today earned the endorsement of another labor union. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, an AFL-CIO associate, and their 140,000+ members have endorsed Marge Krupp in her run for U.S. Congress.

Krupp said of the endorsement, "We are absolutely thrilled over the Iron Workers decision to endorse us. The coalition of labor, which now includes the Iron Workers, behind my campaign is a testament to the efforts of organized labor to help turn the 1st District from Red to Blue." The Iron Workers are the fourth labor union to endorse Krupp before the primary election on September 9th. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Longshoremen's Association, and the American Postal Workers Union are the other three to pledge support to Krupp's campaign. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have also contributed generously to Krupp's campaign.

Krupp has also earned the endorsement of three national women's political groups: the National Organization for Women, the Women's Campaign Forum, and Women's Action for a New Direction. No Democratic primary opponent challenging Krupp has earned any endorsements.

August 7, 2008

Strange subject for the funny pages?

Back in 1990, no mainstream American newspaper printed same-sex marriage announcements. But by the summer of 2002, when the New York Times printed its first, there were 115 doing so. By 2004, a list compiled by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) showed 504 newspapers printing them -- approximately one-third of the U.S.'s 1,500 dailies.

That list, published by Partners Task Force, included the Journal Times, Kenosha News and Wisconsin State Journal. No doubt, there are more today.

I am not a regular reader of the local paper's wedding announcements, but a disapproving letter to the editor on June 15 confirms that the JT does indeed publish same-sex announcements, although whether this was its first, as the letter states, is something I don't know.

Thomas Rivers of Racine wrote: "By publishing a photo and write up of a homosexual “marriage” in the Sunday paper the Journal has shown a blatant disregard for the values espoused by the vast majority of the citizens, attempted to legitimize that which is unlawful in Wisconsin, and insulted the One who instituted marriage in the beginning.

"I don’t suppose it is necessary to again go over the facts that such unions are described by God as an abomination, a sin, and a behavior that will keep one out of heaven. All people know this to be so. Let us hope this radical first by The Journal Times will also be the last."

But even if wedding pages have given way to the growing reality of same-sex marriages being conducted in California, Massachusetts, the Netherlands and a few other places, and commitment services being held right here in River City (JT columnist Mike Moore wrote on June 1 of one conducted at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church) -- I was still surprised to have the subject show up in an unlikely place this week: the Journal Times' comics page.

There it was in For Better or Worse, a strip directly above Peanuts, and to the right of Dilbert; not a plot point but rather a gratuitous same-sex marriage reference. I've long given up on the quaint notion that the Funny Pages are supposed to be funny -- but this still struck me as out of place.

August 5, 2008

McCain's nuclear waste plan: NIMBY?

The Wisconsin Sierra Club has come out in opposition to a major part of Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain's energy plans.

When McCain was in Racine last week he proposed construction of 45 nuclear powered electricity generating plants by the year 2030.

More nuclear plants would, of course, increase the amount of nuclear waste that would need to be transported across the country. The Wisconsin Sierra Club today called attention to a YouTube video that surfaced earlier this year which shows John McCain "clearly saying, while shaking his head ‘no’" that he would not be comfortable with nuclear waste traveling through Phoenix, Arizona, on its way to the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, nuclear waste storage site. (The question and answer begins at 1:14 of the video.)

But, the Sierra Club points out that increased use of nuclear power would require the bulk of Wisconsin nuclear waste (approximately 222 casks, each holding between 2 and 15 tons of high level waste) to be transported through Milwaukee, including waste shipped via Lake Michigan into the Port of Milwaukee.

“Why does John McCain think it’s OK for hundreds of tons of dangerous nuclear waste to go through Wisconsin, but yet too dangerous to go through his own state?” said Rosemary Wehnes, the Sierra Club's Midwest Associate Rep.

The full Sierra Club statement is here.

Children deepen compassion at Camp Bodhi Root

Words by Marie Block; Photos by Michael DeMark

Saturday's sun welcomed the Original Root Zen Center's 1st Annual Camp Bodhi Root at the DeKoven Center. The camp was designed by ORZC's community to provide a safe place for children to nurture connections through compassionate action and deepen interdependent relationships with each other and this environment. Ten children ages 2-11 and more than a dozen adults participated to make the first camp a great success.

Camp Bodhi Root

Morning activities began with a nature scavenger hunt in the gardens.
Each child had an adult guide and they thanked the earth for the freely offered gifts.

Jeno Somlai and Jay Mollerskov, professional jazz musicians, lead Earth Band.
The children created instruments using items found on their nature scavenger hunt.
Jeno asks the children to listen to sounds around them, then use their
instruments to mimic the rhythms they hear.

The children experiment with a variety of instruments.

After lunch, the older children form a human mural.

The group takes a silent walk around the DeKoven grounds with their eyes closed.
They listen to their environment and build trust in one another.

Go under, out, under, out.
Now wave the sheet and keep the bouncy ball on!

New friendships are discovered.

Smiles abound.

No outs here!

All campers participate in constructing the "Biggest Story Ever."
Ten pieces of four foot cardboard are painted on, colored on, and written on
to capture the energy and memories of camp.

An artist at work.

"Our path is to deeply plant the roots of wisdom."

110 attend Flashinski Assembly race fund-raiser

Linda Flashinski, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, in the 63rd Assembly District, sent us the following campaign update:

About 110 people attended a recent fundraiser at the home of 63rd Assembly Candidate Linda Flashinski and her husband, Stan. The cookout/fundraiser was an opportunity for people to meet and mingle, to support the candidate, and to discuss issues. The attendees heard from State Sen. John Lehman, State Rep. Robert Turner and from the candidate. They talked about the need for change in the Assembly to address reform in health care, the economy, energy, the environment, education, and more.

Linda also thanked her supporters for their work in many areas, including the circulating of nomination papers. She noted that she had turned in approximately 900 signatures from both east and west of I-94. “This has been so encouraging to me,” Linda said of the fund-raiser. “We have to keep our focus on the importance of this race for the people of the 63rd Assembly District and Wisconsin if there is to be real action on the issues of our day.”

Linda has been busy at other county-wide events. She was in the Union Grove parade, attended the Kansasville Pancake Breakfast with her husband and even milked a goat in the County Fair competition against her opponent -- and actually won that contest. She has also attended many local fairs, musical events, meetings, and other area festivals.

But it is at doors that Flashinski says she has received the strongest input to drive her issues. “The top state issues I hear are the need for improvement in the economy, health care, jobs, energy policy, and environmental protection. People are the best source of wisdom to direct state policies and they know that we need new vision. It is very rewarding to talk with them.”

There's more information at her campaign website.

City offering discounted tickets to attractions

The City of Racine Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department is now offering WPRA tickets for the following attractions:

Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor** Any Day - $36.00

Noah’s Ark **All Day Unlimited Pass - $26.50

Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Parks - Good for all 4 parks.
All Day Pass - $29.00 will receive the next consecutive day free.

Riverview Park & Waterworld **All Day Pass-Buy 1 ticket at $17.75 receives 1 free.

Milwaukee County Zoo** Adult - $9.00 Child - $7.00

Pirates Cove Adventure Golf-Wisconsin Dells**18 Holes - $5.00

Cave of the Mounds & Gem Mining** Adults $16.50 Child $ 9.00

Dells Boat Tours—Upper Dells & Jet Boat** Adults $17.40 Child $10.50

Army WW11 Ducks & Wild Thing Jet Boat Ride** Adults $ 16.00 Child $8.00

Original Wisconsin Ducks **Adults $17.40 Child $9.20

Chula Vista – Lost Rios Indoor & Outdoor Waterpark**$15.95

Top Secret ** $8.00

Rick Wilcox Magic Theater $23.00

For more information, please see The Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department 2008 WPRA Ticket Program Attraction Info brochure.

August 4, 2008

Emerald Ash Borers -- where are they now?

Click to enlarge. Red marks indicate positive sightings.

Update: The emerald ash borer has been found in Ozaukee County, in a private woodlot in the village of Newburg, when forest health specialists responded to a report of dying ash trees. The surprise is not that the tree-killing beetle has come to Wisconsin -- state experts have been expecting it since 2004 -- but rather that it was found so far north (57 miles from North Bay). Expectations were that it would migrate here from Illinois, coming first to our neck of the woods in southeastern Wisconsin. Here's the press release detailing what the Department of Agriculture, Trade and consumer Protection and the Department of Natural Resources had to say about it.

The picture at right shows the S-shaped galleries or tunnels made by EAB larvae feeding under the bark of the ash tree. Their feeding cuts off the flow of water and nutrients within the tree. The tree gradually dies within 2-4 years. Click here for more pictures of the Ozaukee infestation.

Original story: As we wait for a hastily called news conference on the emerald ash borer from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Natural Resources (scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Riveredge Nature Center in Ozaukee County), here's a map from Wisconsin's Emerald Ash Borer Resource website, showing where the bug has been spotted so far.

Last updated on Aug. 1, there appear to be no infestations in Wisconsin.

But, as the Journal-Sentinel pointed out this morning, why would they be holding an emergency press conference today to tell us that?

Our April story about North Bay's fears of the ash borer is HERE.

August 3, 2008

A view from the top

There was a lot going on Sunday, under the bluest of blue skies, so we took the high road for some photographs. Above, the Starving Artists Fair, as seen from a balcony high up East Park Towers.

The picture below, of sailboats on Lake Michigan, was taken from the same balcony. Look closely at the enlarged picture, and you can count 10 sailboats.

At bottom are two shots from the Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse open house. First, the view from the top, looking north. And below, a vertigo-inducing photo of folks enjoying the view they had to climb 140 steps to see.

The lighthouse, built in 1880, is still functioning, warning boaters of a limestone reef that juts out a mile into Lake Michigan.

The 140 iron stairs, in a latticework design allowing visitors to see through to the ground floor 112 feet below ("Try not to look down!") , twist up a staircase with just a narrow handrail on one side. Visitors have to climb through two narrow hatchways to get to the top.

The observatory walkway is surprisingly narrow -- only about 3 feet wide -- and many visitors stay flat against the side of the lighthouse. Before the climb to the top, a volunteer dressed in costume as a 19th-century lighthouse keeper gave a short history of the lighthouse, describing how the light was fueled by mineral oil until 1923 when it was converted to electricity. The Coast Guard operated the lighthouse until 1964, when it was turned over to the Village of Wind Point.

Volunteers add gardens and a train at Ridgewood

Forget KRM: Amtrak is already making a daily run in Racine.

The proof is above, showing the train speeding along the track around the oriental water garden at the Ridgewood Care Center, Racine County's 210-bed nursing home located at 3205 Wood Road.

OK, it's just a model train (unless those are gigantic flowers!), but it sure is pretty. Volunteers have been maintaining the garden areas at Ridgewood since 1999. There are many gardens, but to the right of the main entrance is a lily pond, a small waterfall and a blooming flower garden. And snaking around the garden and lily pond is a double set of train tracks.

When I visited on Friday, there was an Amtrak train making the rounds. But resident Norm Voll, 86, a retired mailman who was watching the train from the lobby, said that on some days a 4x4 switching engine, pulling a caboose, makes the rounds. Voll knows his trains; he used to have his own N gauge set, far smaller than the one at Ridgewood.

Ridgewood's tracks were donated by Tim Zuch, whose wife, Rhonda, works at the center. Another train enthusiast, John Pixler, donated engines and assistance.

Here's another picture of the setup:

Doggie Happy Hour welcomes you and your pets

And now, a word from the dog of the house:
"Oh, sure, you call me man's best friend, but when you go out to dinner, or for a drink, do you take me along?

"No, Grrrrr, you leave me locked in the bathroom! And you put the seat cover down, too. What if I get thirsty?

"Well, here's your chance to make it up to me. The really good dog owners take their pets to the Doggie Happy Hour at the Friki Tiki outdoor bar on Monday nights from 3 to 7 p.m. It's alongside the Chancery Restaurant, overlooking the marina. While you eat, they'll serve me some free milk bones. Servers even bring a water bowl for every dog (yes, even for cats!), and for those of us who prefer "people food," there's a choice of a boneless chicken breast or a hamburger pattie. Yum!

"I hear that the idea for Doggie Happy Hour came from one of the servers, who lived in Washington, DC, where dogs are allowed in many places. And you said nothing good ever came from Washington!

"So what do you say? Let's go out and have some fun and let me meet some of my friends for dinner, too. It's a great night out for both large and small dogs, and we all promise to be on our best behavior.

"Or do I have to do a number on your slippers again, when you least expect it? Just sayin'. "