Letters to the Editor Dec. 15, 2010
To the People of Merrill who support our local Food Pantry,
On behalf of the Food Pantry Board, our many volunteers and all those that receive food from the Pantry, please accept our heartfelt thanks for all that you have done. The generosity of the Merrill community is in a word, inspiring. Your continued donations of groceries and money have allowed us to successfully supplement the nutritional necessities of our friends in need.
Even in these tough economic times local people have repeatedly stepped forward to ensure that our mission of service remains fulfilled. You have truly shown what community is all about.
Thank you and may you and your families receive God’s blessings in abundance.
Denis N. McCarthy
Food Pantry Manager
Letter to the Editor,
HAVEN, Inc., the agency which serves victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Lincoln County has certainly hit another milestone this past week! An Open House was attended by over 125 community members who toured the newly renovated Annex building at 1106 E. Eighth St., Merrill.
Speakers for the event included Donna Eckerle, Board President, Chris Malm, Capital Campaign Chair, Pastor Bob Smallman, Rep. Don Friske, Rep.-elect Tom Tiffany, Sen. Jim Holperin and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Executive Director, Patti Seeger. The Post 1638 VFW presented a new flag to HAVEN, Inc.
This was a proud moment for the citizens of Lincoln County because 148 volunteers worked 2,726 hours which equals $27,260 toward grant matches. In-kind donations totaled $28,175. Cash received was $451,183 and pledged to be received over five years is $143,821.
This show of support is of the utmost importance as we navigate these difficult financial times. Victims of abuse become even more vulnerable in tough economic times. According to the latest Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report 2006-2007, published in 2008, Wisconsin hit an all time high of 67 domestic violence homicides/suicides. The report shows a pattern of multiple homicides where a single perpetrator kills more than one person. At least four individuals survived a near homicide attack, where they were able to survive a gunshot wound.
Domestic violence most often occurs behind closed doors, however, the report shows homicides are occurring in public places as well. It indicates domestic violence homicides have occurred in a busy public park, in a parking lot of the victim’s place of employment, in front of an elementary school, in a church, on a neighbor’s lawn.
The impact on the children and other family members is profound. At least 22 children were at the scene at the time of the homicides. This does not include those whose Memorial Day picnic was marked by gunfire and homicide, or the children who may have seen a man run down with a car or passed a body as they left their school.
We indeed need to celebrate our accomplishments and as we do we are reminded it is necessary to continue to stay united and strong, as we work to ensure others no longer need to suffer or lose their lives because of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Thank you for your wonderful support. I look forward to continuing our partnership.
As I leave the Senate, I want to thank the people of Wisconsin for the incredible opportunity to serve them, and to represent our state. Serving Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate has been the greatest honor of my life. I have been so proud to work for the people of our state, and to continue the great traditions that run deep here, from the Progressive movement to our commitment to bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility.
Most of all I am grateful for the people I have met as I have travelled to every corner of Wisconsin. Wisconsinites from every community have come to my listening sessions to share their ideas and concerns. What I heard in those meetings has informed everything I have done in the Senate, from working to improve education and health care to strengthening our democracy. Those exchanges have been invaluable to me for the last 18 years, and I appreciate the time that so many people took to tell me what was on their mind, and to help me as I served our state.
Our state has a distinguished history of public service, and I am proud to be a part of that. I am deeply grateful for the chance I have had to represent the people of Wisconsin, and to help bring Wisconsin’s ideas to the U.S. Senate.
I’ve been watching the latest school funding issue with great interest and it’s time to bring a few facts to light. There have been some glaring omissions in the recent reporting and comments about State School Superintendent Tony Evers new school funding plan. The Nov. 24 issue of the Foto News reported that under Evers plan, Merrill schools would receive just over $1.1 million in additional funding. The article also states that incoming Assistant Senate Majority Leader Glenn Grothman blasted the plan. Both statements are true, but the most important fact was left out of the article.
That same week, Glenn Grothman was a guest on the Jerry Bader show carried by WSAU radio. He explained the many reasons he and others are opposed to Evers plan is the more than $400 million in new taxes Wisconsin residents and businesses will have to cough up. This is in addition to the huge amount we already pay. Grothman confirmed that the plan would add 5-7 percent additional funding to most rural school districts. But he also revealed that the wealthiest school districts in the state, the Madison Public schools, would receive over 26% in additional funding. Would that have something to do with the fact that most of WEAC’s power brokers live in that district? Later that week, I watched a televised interview with Tony Evers on Wisconsin Public Television. The first thing I noticed was the condescending sneer that was ever present on “Dr” Evers face during the interview. Evers indeed confirmed that his new plan. called “Fair Funding for our Future,” would require more than $400 million in new taxes, yet would hold the line on property taxes. When asked by the female moderator where he thought those additional tax dollars would come from, if not from higher property tax rates, Evers became visibly irritated, paused for a moment, and then replied, “Wisconsin has come through difficult economic times in the past, but even now I believe that funding strong Public Schools should always be our first priority.” Fair Funding indeed! A better name for this plan would be “Fraudulent Facade Foist by a Feckless Fop.” Perhaps our good Mr. Curtis from Gleason can tell us where that extra money will come from. I imagine he would approve of seeing 92% of our property tax dollars go to MAPS. But I digress…
The Sunday, Dec. 5 issue of the Wausau Daily Herald reports that more than 37% of our tax dollars go to public education… the largest single state expenditure. Unfortunately, most of the money is not actually going to educate children. Teacher and administration benefits are sucking up most of it. With only three states paying more, Wisconsin teacher fringe benefits are the envy of most of the nation… if not the entire civilized world. No other nation on the planet spends so much on its public schools. How does this happed? Can we fix it?
To get a better idea of what we’re up against, one only needs to access the 2010-11 Business News Book of Lists, published annually. Take a look at Wisconsin’s top spending lobbying groups. At #2 on the list, spending just over $777,000 is the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance. Considering all the insurance business and employers there are in the state, that should be no surprise. But at #1… and by nearly double what the insurance lobby spends, is the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). Over $1.5 million is spend convincing state policy makers to turn over ever more of our tax dollars to powerful teacher’s unions. In the Book of Lists is states that WEAC’s “business of interest” is to “Represent school districts and some State employees.” With approximately 80% of our school tax dollars going to teachers and administrators pay and benefits, I’d say they’ve reached the pinnacle of success.
I’m not trying to diminish the roles of teachers and administrators… their jobs are not easy. And they should be fairly compensated. But lots of other people have tough jobs with great responsibilities as well. They are usually held to a much higher standard of performance than our school’s employees… and all without the world class health care and retirement benefits. If our state is going to fix the school funding problem, the cuts MUST come from where most of the money is spent. We’ll need stronger leadership in our local school board than we currently have. When new school employee contracts are negotiated, significant pay and fringe benefit concessions will have to be made. If that doesn’t work, then non-academic recreational programs such as school sports may also have to be on the chopping block. The NFL might not be the only place with a lockout next fall. If you think that’s too drastic, maybe you’d like to find a better job!
Teachers and other state employees unions can no longer expect an easy ride while the rest of us do most of the pushing. The private sector has been forced to tighten its belt many times already. It’s time that our state does the same. I pray that our new incoming governor and other newly elected officials will finally show strong leadership in tackling these issues. We cannot afford another failure.