July 3, 2010

Everything you need to know about the parade...

Because July 4th falls on a Sunday this year, Racine's Fourth Fest Parade will be held on Monday, July 5.

 One of the largest parades in the Midwest -- this year, there are 140 floats, bands and marching units -- it will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the pre-parade, followed by the parade itself, comprised of horses, clowns, floats, bands, firetrucks, antique cars, local officials and more. The parade can take three hours to pass a spectator.

The route will follow the map at right. The parade begins at the intersection of Goold and Main Streets, runs south down Main through Downtown, and turns west on 14th Street.

Be sure to arrive early, as parking downtown is at a premium. An estimated 100,000 spectators views the annual extravaganza.

And don't forget the fireworks! The 40-minute fireworks exhibition will begin at dusk on July 5,  approximately 9:20 p.m. The fireworks show can be seen from anywhere up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Below is a list of the parade entries, in order.

#  1. First Team Troopers Colorguard
# 2. 4th Fest President - Mark Hinkston
# 3. Honorary Parade Marshall - Maragos Family
# 4. Agerholm-Gross Det #346 - Marine Corps League
# 5. Racine Concert Band
# 6. City of Racine Mayor - John Dickert
# 7. Racine Police Chief - Kurt Whalen
# 8. Mr. Fourth Fest - Jerry Buck w/Calliope
# 9. Alderman Jeff Coe
# 9A. Alderman Raymond DeHahn
# 9B. Alderman Greg Helding
# 9C. Alderman Jim Kaplan
# 9D. Alderman Eric Marcus
# 9N. Alderman David Maack
# 9E. Miss Racine Scholarship - Miss Racine 2010 April Dovorany
# & Miss Racine Outstanding Teen Elise O'Connell
# 9F. Racine County Register of Deeds - Jim Ladwig
# 9G. State Rep - Cory Mason
# 9H. State Rep - Bob Turner
# 9I. Senator Russ Feingold
# 9J. Senator John Lehman
# 9K. Congressman Paul Ryan
# 9L. Racine County Board Van Wanggaard
# 9M. Racine County Executive William McReynolds
# 9P. Attorney General Van Hollen
# 9Q. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
# 10. Stilt Walkers
# 11. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare/All Saints - Bucky Badger
# 12. UW-Madison - Marching Band
# 13. Boy Scouts of America - Lighthouse District
# 14. Boy Scout Pak 206
# 15. Post 1391
# 16. Vietnam veterans of America - Chapter 767
# 17. Daughters of the American Revolution - Racine Chapter
# 18. Boys of '76 Colorguard
# 19. American Legion Post 310 - Harvey R. Hansen
# 20. Case H.S. Cheerleaders
# 21. Wacky Wheeler
# 22. Otto Last
# 23. Donald Dinges
# 23A. 501st Legion - Wisconsin Garrison (Star Wars)
# 24. Dream Girls USA - Alexis
# 25. Debbie Hahn
# 26. Pet Pals Grooming Salon
# 27. Theresa Peterson - Leprechaun
# 28. Carthage College
# 29. SAFE Haven of Racine Inc.
# 30. Washington Park H.S. Pom Pon Squad
# 31. First Friends Animal Rescue Inc
# 32. Racine Habitat for Humanity
# 33. Dickies Bar
# 34. La Societe 40ET8 Voiture 410
# 35. Sons of Norway Nordlyset Lodge 5-183
# 36. Racine Horlick Vocal Music Department
# 37. Red Apple Elementary School
# 38. Girl Scout Troop 5822
# 39. SC Johnson
# 40. Racine Art Museum
# 41. Kangaroo Kayaking, LLC
# 42. Racine Gladiators Youth Football
# 43. Lighthouse Birgade Sr Band
# 44. Dream Girls USA - Taylor Stafanski
# 45. Racine Horlick H.S. Cheerleading
# 46. American Professional Driving School LLC
# 47. Racine P.H. Shrine Club Zembo Temple #70
# 48. Navy Club Ship 60
# 49. United States Submarine Veterans (Great Lakes Base)
# 50. Vittoria Colonna - Italian Women
# 51. Racine Zoo
# 52. Jimmy Johns
# 53. Katt Construction Corp/Racine Unified Summer Show Band
# 54. University of Wisconsin - Parkside
# 55. Racine Heritage Museum
# 56. Todays TMJ4 HD - Caitlin Morrall
# 57. Racine Scouts Drum & Bugle Corp
# 58. Racine County 4-H
# 59. It's All About Racine Radio Show - Mr. Racine Mark Eickhorst
# 60. Snap-On Inc
# 61. Baby Boomers Bikers
# 62. QPS Employment Group
# 63. Central Bark Doggy Daycare
# 64. Anchor Fitness
# 65. Penguin Players
# 66. Academy of Dance
# 67. Burlington Senior Shuttle
# 68. City of Racine Belle Urban System
# 69. Cheryl McCrary & Heir-Born Praise Band
# 70. Caledonia Baseball/Softball League
# 71. Erickson Mobility
# 72. Sturtevant Memorial Post #9948
# 73. Trinity Lutheran
# 74. Bob Weber Auto Mart
# 75. The Golden Show Band
# 76. City of Racine Parks, Recreation Cultural Services
# 77. Oak Creek Academy of Performing Arts
# 78. Dairy Statesman
# 79. Racine Rotary West & Rotary Clubs of Racine
# 80. Racine Studio of Performing Arts
# 81. Freddie's Friki Tiki
# 82. St. Rita Family Festival
# 83. Old Timers Athletic Club
# 84. Miss Latina Racine Scholarship Corp
# 85. Gorgie Porgie's
# 86. Racine Raiders
# 87. Wisconsin State Patrol - Deb Reis
# 88. Racine Horlick H.S. Pom Pon Squad
# 89. Knights of Columbus - Council 697/Assembly 1207
# 90. Boys Scouts 203 Drum & Bugle Corps
# 91. Focus on Community
# 92. Hispanic Business & Professionals Assocaition
# 93. La Tapatia
# 94. Alicia Villa
# 95. Hispanic Community & Resource Center
# 96. Racine Flag Football League
# 97. Indentity Crisis
# 98. Jack Dudley
# 99. Dinos Restaurant
# 100. Finishing Touch Auto Body
# 101. Racine Horlick H.S. Student Government
# 102. Lite Rock 92.1 / News Talk 1400 WRJN
# 103. 5th Street Yacht Club
# 104. Point West Business Association
# 105. St. Catherines High School
# 106. Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency Inc
# 107. The Bruce Company of Wisconsin, Inc
# 108. Lighthouse Birgade Jr. Band
# 109. Human Capital Development Corp Inc
# 110. Racine Masonic Center
# 111. Masters of Movement Arts
# 112. MY-N-ERGY Inc
# 113. Zumba Fitness
# 114. Schmidt Industrial Truck
# 115. New Day Drum & Bugle Corp
# 116. Dr. Schmid's Mobile Veterinary Practice
# 117. Imperial Tankless
# 118. NB Enterprises LLC
# 119. Racine County Ham Radio
# 120. Everyday Adventure
# 121. Express Medical Transportation of WI LLC
# 122. Grace Church
# 123. Scott Walker
# 124. Racine Youth Sports (RYS)
# 125. Corvettes for Christ Org
# 126. Hardtop Asphalt Sealing Inc
# 127. Washington Park H.S. Cheerleaders
# 128. North Central Maltese Rescue, Inc
# 129. ABC's for Healthy Families (Journey of a Lifetime)
# 130. OCD
# 131. RUSD Lighted Schoolhouse Program
# 132. Topper's Pizza
# 133. Harbor Lite Yacht Club
# 134. Pier 29
# 135. Racine's Next Rising Star
# 136. Salmon Unlimited / Salmon-A-Rama
# 137. Designated Driver
# 138. YMCA / Racine Threat
# 139. Rick Baumgardt & Paul Braun
# 140. Racine Kilties Drum & Bugle

Since 1937, one of the best 4th of July parades in the U.S.

By Julie A. Jacob

Millions of Americans were out of work. People worried about war in distant countries. Some citizens staged protests to express their anger at the government. Partisan political feelings ran high.

No, it wasn’t 2010. It was 1937, the year that Racine held its first Fourth of July parade. It was a time of tense relations between labor and management and, in an effort to boost city morale, community leaders organized the inaugural Fourth of July parade. It was known then as the Goodwill parade in recognition of its goal to create goodwill between management and labor.
for kids, about American values
Ever since, for 73 years, Racine has held its Fourth of July parade and fireworks display through wars, recessions, and cultural upheaval. John Adams, who in a letter to his wife prophetically wrote that America’s independence from Great Britain should be marked with “pomp and parade,” would be pleased if he could see how much Racine has taken the “parade” part to heart. Racine’s Independence Day parade (which decades later was renamed the Racine 4th Fest) attracts about 100,000 spectators each year. In 2008, USA Today included Racine on its list of the 10 best places to be on the Fourth of July.
Parade time, route and entries are here
But what does it take to stage the Fourth of July parade each year? RacinePost decided to find out.

Organizing the parade and fireworks is a year-'round effort, said Mark R. Hinkston, this year’s president of Racine 4th Fest. The parade and fireworks are run by a volunteer, 28-member board, which meets at least once a month. The board, in turn, is divided into 13 committees, including executive, parade, fireworks, long-range planning, funding, publicity, and legal and insurance committees. The committees also meet at least monthly. Representatives from the police department, city council, and parks and recreation department serve as non-voting liaisons on the board.

“It is much more time consuming than people think,” said Hinkston, who has been involved in Racine 4th Fest for 10 years. “Many members spend hundreds of hours a year devoted to all the various committees and parade functions.”

The parade committee picks the theme by January. This year’s theme is “July 4th —Our Family Reunion.” Groups that want to be in the parade must complete an application form that includes a detailed description of the entry, the type and length of vehicles that will be driven in the parade, and proof of insurance. No entries deemed overtly political or controversial are accepted. A driver or representative from each entry must attend a briefing session a few weeks before the parade.

Once the deadline passes for parade entries, the parade committee sets the line-up of the approximately 150 entries. The committee has to make sure, for example, that bands and floats are spaced evenly throughout the parade and that two entries with animals are not next to each other.

It costs about $50,000 to produce both the parade and the fireworks display, said Hinkston. Most of the funding comes from corporate donations, with the remaining money raised from city and private donations.

On the day of the parade, the board members, assisted by about 75 additional volunteers, direct the line-up of entries, staff the judging stand, drive golf carts up and down the 2.6-mile parade route to make sure all is running smoothly and collect donations, and do all the dozens of other things that have to be taken care of to run a parade.

The best part of working on the parade, noted Hinkston, is “the camaraderie that comes from working with the other board members to put on the best event possible.”

The toughest part, he said, is finding the money to produce the parade and fireworks every year.

“We depend almost completely on corporate and private donations for funding and so normally this is an ongoing challenge. One would think that with the economy the way it has been that this would be especially problematic now but thankfully people have stepped up this year and donations have not seemed to wane.”

It’s also a challenge to please everyone in a crowd of 100,00 spectators, he said. Some people want more bands, some want fewer; some say that the parade is too long, others that it is too short; some gripe about the gaps in the line-up, while other welcome the chance for a bathroom break,

The Racine 4th Fest board takes comment and critiques on the parade seriously and welcomes suggestions for improving the parade, Hinkston said. Contact information for board members is posted online here.

While every part of the parade may not be to everyone’s liking, a little perspective helps, he noted.

“There are always going to be things that people do not like or complain about, but we should be grateful for what we have,” said Hinkston. “We should look around and feel fortunate – for example, 1,000 miles to the south, our fellow citizens along the gulf coast are struggling immensely. Our board members collectively spend hundreds of hours a year devoted to each and every aspect of the parade and have everyone’s best interests at heart.”

Parade is a 'teachable moment' for kids, about U.S. values

By Julie A. Jacob

On the surface, a Fourth of July parade may seem like simply a fun summer event—a chance to sit outside, hang out with friends and family, and be entertained for a few hours by a stream of colorful floats, marching bands, clowns and horses.

Beneath the summer fun, however, an Independence Day parade has a deeper purpose. It teaches children about American history, strengthens the bonds among residents in a community, and reinforces American values, noted Helen Rosenberg, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and faculty director of the Community Based Learning and Research Center for Community Partnerships.

Because many children participate in a Fourth of July parade—riding on a float or as a member of a band or drill team—and many more youngsters watch the parade, it is a perfect moment to teach children about American history and ideas, she said.

“This event become an opportunity to talk to our children about American values,’ said Rosenberg, citing individualism and pride in the American character as among the values children might be taught by attending a Fourth of July parade.

Parades also help create a spirit of unity, she said. First, parades are a chance for various groups in a city — corporations, small businesses, service organizations, athletic teams, youth groups, amateur theater groups and so on — to highlight their contributions to the community.

“The Fourth demonstrates the presence of diversity in our community,” said Rosenberg. “On the other hand, we might ask who is not in the parade and what messages that conveys about who is excluded or feels disengaged from the mainstream of the community.”

Also, in an era when many people work alone in cubicles or spend long hours surfing the Internet, a parade is a way for people to mingle with others face-to-face and draw closer to both their families and community.

“The actual parade unifies the community,” said Rosenberg. “However, many friends and family get together for a picnic or meal prior to or after the parade. In a sense, the parade is an opportunity for us to plan a group event with those close to us and then reinforce our relations through participation in a community event.”

Calling old-school gamers: Missile Command contest in Downtown Racine this weekend

Calling all classic video game buffs! Piranha Gaming at 234 Main St. is holding a "Missile Command" contest this weekend with a new X-Box 360 console going to the highest score. Owner Jason Jarstad had the video game (above) out on the street Friday night for all to play. A $2 entry fee gets you a chance at the Xbox and an entry into a drawing for a Nintendo Wii. All proceeds benefit the North Side Preschool in Racine. The contest runs through Monday, July 5 at 8 p.m. The high score, as of about 8pm on Friday, was an easily beatable 9,945 (set by this intrepid reporter). 

Stop by Piranha Gaming this weekend for your chance to enter. It's for a good cause, plus you could walkaway Missile Command champ of Racine!

For those who don't know the game, here's what it looks like.

Crowds, insects swarm Downtown Racine's First Friday

This blue moth tied for most creative costume in the Racine Art Museum's "All the Buzz Bugathon" on Main Street Friday night. The race featured kids dressed up as insects.

Perfect weather and a holiday weekend combined for a rollicking First Friday in Downtown Racine. Anchored by live music, sales and the Racine Art Museum's "All the Buzz Bugathon" race, which had kids dressed up as insects running down Main Street, a huge crowd packed Main and Sixth streets. Here's photos of from a fun night:  

Radio Disney, AM 1640, broadcast live from the event.

Over at Sheepish, Mila Dechant created henna tattoos for customers ... 

... the finished product.

A slightly tripped out look at Monument Square as First Friday wound down. 

Mark Paffrath doing his thing on the rubber sidewalks of Crosswalk Park on Main St. 

The talented duo known as "Springtide" played outside of DP Wigley at 
Wisconsin Ave. and Third Street.

Uncorkt was doing nice business Friday night. 

July 2, 2010

Air Force brass band kicks off our July 4 weekend in style

S. Sgt. Matt Kuebler on tuba put on quite a show all by himself...

One of the best-attended concerts on Monument Square opened our Independence Day weekend Friday.

The 10-piece "Hot Brass"  United States Air Force Band of Mid-America performed as part of the summer  Music on the Monument concert series. The audience filled the south side of Monument Square, and extended well past our Civil War monument to the north.

The audience was treated to a rousing selection of lively music, and a tuba player who for a while couldn't decide whether he was Michael Jackson or what?

The band is based at Scott Air Force Base, but has been deployed to Southwest Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to play for U.S. troops.

'This is the way the fountain was meant to be enjoyed'

All smiles, from Selena Badillo, Aliya Bender and Joseph Espinoza

Finally, some good news: The fountain is open!

Yes, Racine's Laural Salton Clark Memorial Fountain, built seven years ago as a splash pad for kids but living under the death sentence of uncaring state legislation since 2005, reopened Saturday -- safe and legal.

Mayor John Dickert was joined for a short press conference by Lynne Salton, younger sister of astronaut Laurel Clark who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 -- at the reopening. Lynne Salton's presence was by chance, serendipitous. A Horlick High grad like her older sister, Lynne just happened to be in town for her 30th class reunion.  Lynne graduated a year behind her sister Laurel, who was a 1979 Horlick grad as it says on the splash pad.

 The mayor focused on the "incredible partnership" between the city and the Johnson family, which offered approximately $200,000 this summer to bring the fountain up to code, in compliance with state laws imposed in 2005. The upgrades -- new chlorination equipment, fencing, an emergency telephone -- make the fountain "clean and safe," the mayor said, and the city will "continue to take action to make this entire project sustainable for years to come."

Lynne looked at it from another angle, from the point of view of the many kids already happily running through the fountain when she and the mayor arrived for his announcement. "This is the way the fountain was meant to be enjoyed," she said, remembering similar joy on the day it was dedicated.

"Whenever I come to Racine, I make it a point to come to the fountain," she said. "It was so sad when the public couldn't be enjoying it."

"I'm so excited! It's wonderful," she said.

To prove the point, she and Dickert ran joyously through the fountain -- he in suitpants, shirt and tie. Yes, they got wet; that was the whole point.

City Administrator Tom Friedel said the work done on the fountain in the past week "just restored what was damaged before." A pole for the law-required land-line emergency phone has been installed at the east edge of the fountain -- the phone itself is due on Tuesday.

More work will be needed, because the water system was not built to handle the volume of chlorinated water -- upwards of 50,000 gallons per day -- that the fountain now uses. The city has an engineering firm looking at alternatives; the main jet in the fountain's center may have to be scaled back, or a narrower nozzle used, and some of the other features of the fountain may be changed -- but not so much that it would affect children's enjoyment of it. Smaller grates, for example, to make sure that little toes can't get caught in them; that sort of thing.

"We don't want to lose the effect," Friedel said.

Mayor John Dickert gathered all the kids from the fountain, 
along with Lynne Salton, younger sister of astronaut
Laurel Salton Clark, to whom the fountain is dedicated...

...then he and Lynne Salton ran through the fountain together...

All smiles (and wet hair) as they obey the new rule for Splash Pad use:
'Having fun and laughing are strongly encouraged.'

Sturtevant's annual fireworks show and festival is Saturday

The Racine area has Fourth of July surrounded this year with fireworks celebrations. In addition to the city's fireworks display on Monday, July 5, the Village of Sturtevant is holding a day-long Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 3.

Sturtevant's festivities run from 2-11:30 p.m. and are free to the public. The schedule this year includes three bands, a jumping house for kids, and food and drink vendors.

Here's the schedule:

2-3pm - Racine Unified Summer Show Band
4-5pm - Great Lakes Navy Band
7:30pm - The Britins (a Beatles Tribute Band)
9:30pm - Melrose Fireworks Display

The celebration is held on Charles Street, just north of Highway 11 off of 90th Street. Parking on the grounds is $5.

If you'd like to help continue this Sturtevant tradition, watch for fireworks donation buckets at local businesses or donations can be made at Village Hall, 2801 89th Street, Sturtevant, Wisconsin 53177. Donations are needed to keep fireworks alive. Every little bit counts!

$10,000 reward offered for homicide information

An anonymous donor has put up a $10,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the March 12 murder of Mohammed A. Shehadeh, according to the Racine Police Department.

Shehadeh, 41, was was shot and killed at The Market at 1949 Racine St. at 5:30 p.m. He was the father of four children.

The $10,000 reward is being placed in a secure escrow account at a local banking institution. The account will remain active for a minimum period of 12-months, after which, the status of this case will be reviewed. This reward will be promptly paid out following the arrest and subsequent conviction of anyone directly involved in this crime.

If you have any information you are urged to call the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7700 and ask for the Investigations Unit, or Crimestoppers at 262-636-9330, or by texting to CRIMES (274637) and referring to Tipsoft I.D. #TIP417 with your text message.

July 1, 2010

Racine police arrest 45-year-old man trying to pass as 17 years old

The Racine Police Department helped arrest a Georgia man wanted for "contact" with a 13-year-old.

The 45-year-old Thomas Hass, of Athens-Clarke County, Ga., allegedly told the young girl he was 17 years old. Police initially met with Hass to tell him to stop seeing the 13-year-old, but the contact continued. 

On June 29th, Racine police, with the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation, executed a search warrant at 1316 Cleveland Ave. in Racine. Haas was located at the home and taken into custody. Several pieces of evidence were recovered from the home. Haas was arrested for several warrants from Athens-Clarke County Georgia relating to this incident.

The investigation into this incident continues. No charges are expected from the Racine County District Attorney’s Office.

Obama Notes: President calls mayor 'young, dynamic'

 President Barack Obama and Mayor John Dickert

Mayor John Dickert got a memorable soundbite from President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The president opened his talk at Memorial Hall with a round of introductions, which included an acknowledgement of Dickert.

Obama twice described Dickert as a "young, dynamic' mayor. A beaming Dickert, who sat near the front, greeted the capacity crowd with a wave.

PRESS RELEASE: The city's public information officer, Mark Eickhorst, was hanging out with the media Wednesday handing out a press release emphasizing some positives about the city. A few points the mayor's office tried to impress upon local and national media included:

Stimulus Money: The city used federal stimulus money to buy $500,000 in LED street lights from locally based Ruud Lighting. The city then used unemployed union electrical workers to install the lights. The project is expected to save the city $40,000 per year in electrical costs.

Crime: Violent crime is down in the city.

Housing: The city created a Neighborhood Stabilization Program to purchase and rehab houses in high-crime areas. The city has bought 23 homes to date, more than five times any previous year.

Energy Efficiency: The city's Racine Energy Efficiency Program, or REEP, is paying for retrofits of qualifying houses in Racine. The program allows homeowners to improve energy efficiency with no upfront costs.

Industry: The city worked with A&E Incorporated to stay in Racine and to bring 55 jobs from Texas to the city. It also helped Treasure Christian Books find warehouse space in the area. The city also cited the ongoing work of SC Johnson, CNH and InSinkErator.

Joint Dispatch: The city said Racine County, Mount Pleasant and Caledonia plan to create a joint dispatch center in 2011.

Green Initiative: The city unveiled a rubber sidewalk in Crosswalk Park and is working on a city ordinance to give homeowners a choice on the type of sidewalk they would like.

North Beach: Racine's North Beach is a nationally recognized "Blue Wave" beach. It now features a handicap-accessible beach mat to improve beach access for the disabled, elderly, parents with strollers and others to reach the lakefront.

National Events: Pro beach volleyball and international cycling races are annual events in Racine, which also features a variety of church and ethnic festivals. USA Today named Racine one of the Top Ten destinations in the U.S. for Fourth of July.

NO CHRYSLER: A downside of Obama's Town Hall format was no one asked the president about Chrysler pulling out of Kenosha. The president didn't address the topic, either, and it was a missed opportunity to hear an explanation for why the auto-industry bailout led to Chrysler pulling out of southeastern Wisconsin.

SIGH: The president's visit brought local excitement, but did little to offset Racine's image as a struggling industrial city. While the city tried to spin positive (see above) an NPR interview with a Milwaukee Biz Journal reporter about Racine focused on the city's high unemployment rate.

The NY Times and CNN characterized Racine as "an economically hard-hit area,"while the Washington Post discussed the city's "troubling" unemployment rate.

FoxNews actually talked about the city's "rebound" with the help of federal stimulus money. It's the only major media we could find that didn't report Racine's unemployment rate or classify its economy as struggling.

TRANSCRIPT: For a full transcript of Obama's Racine appearance, visit here.

Related Links:

CAR25 to rebroadcast Obama's Racine appearance

CAR25, Racine's cable-access network, will re-broadcast President Barack Obama's recent speech at Memorial today at 1pm, 3pm, 8pm and 10pm. Replays of Obama's appearance will take place throughout the upcoming week. 

The local network will also broadcast live the Racine Fourth of July parade, on July 5th this year. 

Time Warner cable TV subscribers can watch CAR25 on channel 25. 

June 30, 2010

Ryan unimpressed with Obama's visit, speech

Congressman Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, sent out the following press release after President Obama's visit to Racine today:
“I’m pleased the President came to Racine today, but I was rather shocked by the harsh partisan tone the President brought with him. The very real challenges facing Southern Wisconsin cannot be met by Washington’s failed economic policies. Wisconsinites understand that you can't take money from the productive sector of our economy, funnel it through Washington, and create jobs.

"His speech sounded more like a campaign speech by a divider, not a uniter; by a partisan, not a President. It tells me that the President is not interested in learning from economic mistakes; but rather is set on repeating them.

"The President told a city with an unemployment rate over 14%: ‘The stimulus worked. You just don’t know it.’ That is out of touch and it encapsulates the frustrations I hear every week in Wisconsin.

"The President told Wisconsinites that if the Federal government hadn’t taken over two auto companies, workers at Chrysler and General Motors would have lost their jobs. These comments are hardly a comfort to the thousands of former auto workers in Janesville, Kenosha and Oak Creek. The disconnect between Wisconsin and Washington couldn’t be wider. Those running Washington have doubled-down on a failed debt-financed spending spree. We need to chart a new fiscal and economic course, reform government and put in place a plan for growth - and a plan for prosperity.”

For those left outside, a Presidential motorcade...

Dustin and I were sequestered inside Memorial Hall Wednesday, waiting for President Obama to arrive at 1:15 p.m. So we missed seeing Air Force One fly overhead on its way to Milwaukee, and then the arrival of the Presidential motorcade through the streets of Racine.

Luckily for all of us, Richard R. Wilson was waiting outside with his camera, and sent us these pictures. The fly-over was taken at State and Main; the motorcade pictures at 12th and Main as it approaches Pershing Avenue.

Seventh-graders crawled through crowd to ask Obama a question

Spencer Kane and Gerald Davis, both seventh-graders at The Prairie School, asked President Barack Obama a question about financial aid during Wednesday's Town Hall meeting at Memorial Hall in Racine.

Spencer Kane and Gerald Davis will have a pretty strong endorsement if they run for homeroom president at The Prairie School next year.

The two 12-year-old seventh-graders got the opportunity to ask President Barack Obama a question during Wednesday's Town Hall meeting at Memorial Hall. Spencer and Gerald, trading lines, asked the president about financial aid for college students.

Obama, who had just talked at length about financial aid, took the question in stride. He first asked the students if they had spent so much time rehearsing their question that they forgot to listen to his answers. The comment drew laughs from the audience.

But Obama also applauded the students' question because it left no doubt that both boys planned to go to college.

"We want all young people to take for granted they're going to college," Obama said.

In response to the question, Obama said the federal government was working to increase the amount of financial aid that's available while also working with universities to control the cost of higher education. Both steps should help keep college affordable when Spencer and Gerald enroll in college.

Afterward, Spencer and Gerald reveled in their close encounter with the president. Gerald held out his right hand and said he'd never wash it.

The boys used a little trickery to get the president's attention. They were actually sitting several rows back from the stage in a room off to the side of Memorial Hall's main floor. With the encouragement of their parents, they crawled through the crowd during the president's speech and wound up just a few rows away.

After getting passed over a few times by Obama, the president called on Spencer for the Town Hall meeting's final question. Gerald then jumped right up, slightly confusing the president, who thought Gerald was trying to steal the moment. But really the boys had worked out a deal to ask the question together, each one alternating a few words.

Lynn Davis, Gerald's mom, said she was frightened when she realized how close the boys had crawled. She'd urged them to move closer so they could see the president, but then realized they might accidentally knock something over or pull a plug.

"At first I thought they were going too far," said a proud Davis.

As for political ambition, Spencer and Gerald both ran for homeroom president last year, but lost. After their encounter with Obama, they said they may make another run.

"I'll have to run again," Spencer said.

Analysis: Obama returns to Racine with talk and glamour, but little substance

What could he say?

President Barack Obama spoke for an hour Wednesday at Memorial Hall convincing a partisan crowd of some thousand people that the economy was recovering and the country was headed in the right direction. Whether successful or not was irrelevant.

The starry eyed crowd held their cameras high and gave celebrity cheers. Afterward, people had little to say about policy, the country's direction or even about what the president had said. It was more about the "experience" of being in his "presence."

The afternoon talk was billed as a "town hall forum," which it really wasn't. The president took a few questions from the audience, but his answers took so long it drained any sense of interplay with the audience. Snappier answers would have allowed for more questions and more of a sense of a forum. But that isn't what this visit was about.

Tucked underneath the smooth delivery and warm reception was a political message. Things may be bad, Obama said, but Republicans will make them worse. In the heart of his opening remarks he lambasted Republicans for being out of touch and aligned with the super rich. He singled out one Republican Congressman for apologizing to BP for the U.S. forcing the company to setup a $20 billion fund to pay victims of the oil spill in the Gulf. Another Republican was chastised for suggesting a proposed overhaul of the financial regulatory system was akin to killing an ant with a nuclear bomb.

The attacks played well with the audience and helped underscore Obama's, and Democrats', message. You think we're bad? You should see the other guy.

Overall, it was a different feel from candidate Obama's visit to Racine in February 2008. Obama joked at the start of his talk that he had a lot less gray hair back then, and no doubt that's true. When you're a candidate all  you have to do is make promises. When you're president, you're expected to deliver.

Leading into Obama's Racine visit was a looming question: What's he going to say?

I thought he'd use the visit to highlight some local companies and bring some needed positive attention to a city that's struggling with unemployment, foreclosures and public education. On this point, he was oddly silent. In past talks he'd taken a few minutes to acknowledge local businesses that were models of success in this economy. There are certainly good examples like Ruud Lighting, Modine and its fuel cell technology, and SC Johnson and its commitment to green causes.

But a visit like this isn't meant for local consumption. The key people at the speech were the national media relaying images of the president visiting a downtrodden city to deliver messages of, well, hope.

So we all feel good that the president put us on the map for a day or two, and it's fun to see one of the world's largest celebrities talk in your hometown. It's too bad he brought little more than images and political posturing to a city in need of Obama's elusive campaign promise: change.

'Don't tell Michelle' I want a brat, Obama told the crowd. (P.S. He also had kringle.)

And then it was time to say goodbye...

June 29, 2010

What's your 10-year plan for Racine?

Check out our latest contest at: http://editorsblog-racinepost.blogspot.com/2010/06/racinepost-open-floor-whats-your-10.html

We're asking readers to submit their 10-year plan for Racine. Submit your name with your entry and be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate to Circa Celeste cafe! See the link above for details.

What's Obama going to talk about at his Racine visit?

Update: Lynn Sweet, at the Sun-Times, has the background on Obama's visit to Racine.

Look for the president to talk about the benefits of stimulus spending for Racine and Wisconsin, and about Small Business Association loans for Motovend LLC and Bright Star Healthcare.

Original post: So what's President Obama going to talk about during his Racine visit? Here's what we know:

1. It's a town hall meeting on the economy.
2. He'll be talking in a city where one of every seven people is out of work (and that's optimistic).
3. Democrats have a big mid-term election coming up in November that will hinge on Obama's popularity.

But it's tough to be popular when the economy is sputtering and real people are hurting. The U.S. economy is adding jobs, but many of those jobs are short-term Census positions that will disappear in a month or two. Other jobs were created by the federal government's stimulus program, which is set to run out.

In an interview Tuesday, Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said governments can't let up on efforts to stimulate the global economy.

“We share the view that the economy is strengthening, that we are into recovery, that it’s actually led by some interesting sectors like manufacturing,” Obama said Tuesday.

“But,” he added, “what we also agreed is that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. There is a great concern about the 8 million jobs that were lost during the course of these last two years, and that we’ve got to continually push the pace of economic growth in order to put people back to work.”
So what's this mean for Racine? 

It's hard to imagine the president choosing a city like Racine without bearing some sort of gift. When he spoke in Buffalo, N.Y. in May, the president singled out two manufacturing companies that benefited from loans from the federal government. Look for the president to similarly laud companies like Ruud Lighting for developing green technologies with the potential to create jobs, and SC Johnson, which is a worldwide corporate leader in pursuing environmental responsibility. 

We also got a hint from Mick Wynhoff of Pacific Sands that his company may be up for some attention. Pacific Sands, which manufactures all-natural cleaning supplies, is preparing products to send to the Gulf of Mexico to help with the BP oil spill clean up. The president could even point to Racine's successful efforts to clean up North Beach and turn it into a premier attraction. 

There's also speculation Obama will use the speech to announce the U.S. Export-Important Bank was reversing its decision to deny Bucyrus International a loan to build a coal-fired power plant in India. The move would cost Bucyrus up to 1,000 jobs. 

Pressuring is mounting to save the jobs. Sen. Russ Feingold called for the court to reverse its decision, noting that denying the loan would not help the environment because India will simply find another manufacturer to build equipment for the plant. 

Feingold also wants the president to support a tax break to make it easier for businesses to hire employees. 

“Nearly 15 million people are officially considered unemployed, and millions more are looking for more work, or are so discouraged they’ve given up looking,” Feingold wrote Tuesday, calling for an expanded small business tax break. “We can help firms willing to take a chance on a recovering economy by making it easier for them to expand their payroll, and in doing so we can spur the increased demand that will contribute to a more robust recovery.”

Based on past speeches, also count on Obama to start off his talk with some light-hearted banter, reference an unannounced stop he made along the way to Racine, introduce local elected officials and generally play to the partisan crowd. 

People lined up for hours Tuesday outside of Festival Hall to get tickets, so no doubt the president will get the rock star treatment regardless of the substantive proposals he may, or may not, bring to Racine. 

Cigarette vending machines are now illegal; Federal rule went int effect June 22

With everyone preparing for the state's smoking ban in bars on July 5, another tobacco restriction slipped by this month. 

It's no longer legal to sell cigarettes through vending machines, according to a new Federal Drug Administration rule, which went into effect June 22. 

The FDA's rule only allows an exception for cigarette vending machines in businesses where no one under the age of 18 is allowed to enter. Bars are generally excluded from this exception because children under 18 can enter most bars with their parents. 

Here's the memo from the state's Department of Health Services on the cigarette vending machine ban, including info on how to report businesses violating the new rule:

The purpose of this memo is to inform you of a new FDA rule, which makes the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco via vending machines illegal in Wisconsin as of June 22, 2010.
Earlier this year, the FDA issued a final rule! containing a broad set of federal requirements designed to significantly curb access to and the appeal of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to children and adolescents in the United States. The new rule, Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents, becomes effective June 22, 2010.
In pertinent part, the rule states that "a retailer may sell cigarettes or smokeless tobacco only in a direct, face-to-face exchange without the assistance of any electronic or mechanical device (such as a vending machine)." It is up to each retailer to determine how best to comply with the rule based on their individual establishment. This may consist of removing tobacco products or the machine itself.
The FDA rule allows an exception for cigarette vending machines only "where no person younger than 18 years of age is present, or permitted to enter, at any time." Under Wisconsin law, persons  under the state legal drinking age are permitted to enter establishments licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages when accompanied by their parent, guardian, or spouse over the legal drinking age. These establishments would not qualify for the exception allowed under the federal rule, because individuals under the age of 18 are permitted to enter.
Members of the general public can report violations to FDA's Center for Tobacco Products through their website (http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/default.htm) by e-mail  (AskCTP@fda.hhs.gov), or by phone (1-877-CTP-1373).
Please take necessary steps to be in compliance with the FDA regulation as of June 22, 2010.
Contact Patrick Ellestad at Patrick.Ellestad@wi.gov or 608-267-9189 for additional information.

Both sides want Obama, during Racine visit, to explain Chrysler moving jobs from Kenosha to Mexico

President Barack Obama will be greeted in Racine Wednesday by some tough questions over his administration's decision to ax jobs in Kenosha.

The president-backed bailout of Chrysler last year allowed the car manufacturer to shutter its Kenosha plant and move the jobs to Mexico. That has liberals and conservatives asking questions about Obama's commitment to jobs in southeastern Wisconsin. 

The liberal Capitol Times in Madison said Obama should address the Chrysler decision during his visit to Racine. They write: 
We do wish he would explain to the people of southeast Wisconsin why his auto industry bailout plan - which he and so many Wall Street players hail as a success - helped pay for Chrysler's plan to shutter factories in U.S. communities and relocate work to foreign countries.
That's what happened to Kenosha, Racine's neighbor city, which was not "rescued" by the bailout but instead was devastated when Chrysler announced it would stop production in the city. The plant, with roots in Kenosha that go back more than a century, has been fully modernized and is ready to produce state-of-the-art engines.
Republican State Senate candidate Van Wanggaard jumped in this week, asking Obama to explain the Kenosha Chrysler decision and his administration not to support Milwaukee-based Bucyrus's efforts to build a power plant in India. Wanggaard called the decisions "ridiculous" and "devastating." 
These two unfortunate situations are similar in that the federal government played a direct role in facilitating massive job loss. What’s more upsetting is that in both cases, the administration displayed a disturbing attitude of disregard for the affected communities and our elected representatives who demanded answers.
Obama's visit Wednesday is something of a mystery. The J-S is reporting no one is sure why Obama chose Racine to hold his second town hall meeting on the economy. "Candidly, I don't know why he's coming to Racine," Racine Mayor John Dickert told the J-S.

Tickets to see Obama at Memorial Hall are available today starting at 10 a.m. at Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St. They are free and will be available until they run out. Obama is scheduled to start the Town Hall meeting at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Obama's visit to Racine in February 2008 drew about 1,500 people to Memorial Hall.

36-year-old Racine man dies in one-car crash

Thirty-six-year-old Robert Chacon, of Racine, was killed on June 25 in a one-car accident in the 300 block of Ohio Street. Chacon's 1999 Chrysler 300 was going south on Ohio Street when it left the roadway and hit a large tree. The car caught on fire. Rescue workers pulled Chacon from the wreck, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

June 28, 2010

Library closed Wednesday due to Obama's visit

The Racine Public Library will be closed Wednesday, at the request of the U.S. Secret Service, to accommodate President Obama's visit to Memorial Hall.

 The mobile library and the main library will be closed, and the book drops in front of the library will be removed on Tuesday night and put back Thursday. Books due back at the library on Wednesday will be renewed until Thursday; mobile Library material will be renewed until Wednesday, July 7.

Tickets to Obama's "Town Hall meeting on the economy" are free, and available at Festival Hall beginning Tuesday, June 29, at 10 a.m. The event is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.

Gateway, UW-P open degree path for some 'green' careers

Gateway Technical College and UW-Parkside are making it easier for some Gateway students to transfer their credits from Gateway into four-year UW-P degree programs.

Officials from the two colleges will sign an agreement Thursday at CATI giving students in two "green" career areas at Gateway expanded educational opportunities. This will allow associate degree graduates in two Gateway programs to transfer their credits to UW-Parkside toward a bachelor of science degree in Geosciences-Soil and Water Sciences.

Gateway students graduating in Freshwater Resources have the opportunity to engage in a 2-plus-2 agreement with UW-Parkside, where 72 approved Gateway credits transfer to the four-year college. Geoexchange graduates will have the opportunity to engage in a 1-plus-3 agreement, where 30 approved Gateway credits will transfer. Approved prior academic coursework will be fully recognized and transferable to UW-Parkside toward the completion of those degrees.

June 27, 2010

Landlord's foreclosure won't affect Raytown Roadhouse,
but reporter Mick Burke is persona non grata for now

When it came to newspapers, the old (pre-internet) adage stated: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Well, that was then, this is now. There are lots of other ways to get the word out, as Pete Karas, owner of the Raytown Roadhouse, well knows.

So when Pete was angered earlier this week by a Journal Times headline that kinda, sorta implied the  Roadhouse, his country/western bar and restaurant on Sixth Street, was in foreclosure, and thus in danger of closing, Karas took to the internet, posting a rebuttal on Facebook.

Here's what the Journal Times headline said (it's still cached on Google):

Foreclosure hits Downtown properties, Raytown Roadhouse; property owner Spodick may save home

Friday's story, by business reporter Mick Burke, began: "Property owner Jim Spodick is about to lose several Downtown parcels to foreclosure including the Raytown Roadhouse country-western bar - formerly the former Historic Century Market." In fairness, the story did say, about a third of the way down, "The foreclosure should not affect Raytown Roadhouse or owner Pete Karas." But the damage was already done, in Karas' mind.

So Karas posted this to Facebook on Saturday:
We are NOT closing!

You may have read the Journal Times today where they make it appear that Raytown Roadhouse is closing. The building owner is in foreclosure, but Raytown Roadhouse, owned by Pete Karas, is staying open as is.

We're disappointed in the second-rate journalism of the Journal Times and reporter Mick Burke. We are looking into legal remedies and have cancelled all advertising with our local two-bit newspaper.

If you have an event booked at Raytown, rest assured we will be here for you!
 And then Pete posted a picture of the Roadhouse's outside sign:


On Sunday, the Journal Times printed a story atop its Local section front, (ironically, right next to Burke's moving "Daddy Talk" column about his daughter, a Special Olympics athlete) with a much-too-big headline proclaiming:

Raytown Roadhouse open and doing well, owner says

The unbylined story begins,  "Raytown Roadhouse is open as usual, contrary to what people may presume from the pending foreclosure of the property..."

The JT has even rewritten history, changing the headline on the web version of its Friday story to:

Foreclosure hits Downtown properties; Raytown Roadhouse to remain open

So maybe Mick is welcome once again at the Roadhouse. (Although if I were in his boots, I wouldn't try riding the mechanical bull just yet. I hear they hold a grudge for a long time.)