04-04 letters


This letter is in response to the letter last week from Patrick Hommerding, where he bashed Santorum and extolled Obama. I must alert Pat to some things he neglected to say about Obama’s first term so far.

He came into office with a congress controlled by his own party for the first two years. Yet there was little movement to solve the financial crisis we were and still are in three years later.

Starting from more recent times and working back toward the beginning of the term we can see many things that have made our situation worse rather than better.

Recently it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama Administration has approved subsidizing oil & gas exploration off the coast of Brazil. The first installment of taxpayers’ money is $2 BILLION. Now we can’t use private funds to do that here but we can give money we don’t have to Brazil so they can do it??? Obama has tabled the building of the Keystone Pipeline that would bring crude oil from “friendly neighbor” Canada to the USA for refining. We can’t expand our efforts to expand Anwar, again using private money. We haven’t built a refinery in over 40 years, might that not be a good idea to explore?

There hasn’t been a budget passed in 3 years. The way that process works is the President submits a budget, congress massages it and passes it, the President signs it and we have a budget. Well President Obama submitted one his second year in office and it was soundly defeated in a Democratic controlled house. No official budget that year. The house GOP submitted the Ryan budget it was side tracked by a Democratic Senate. Obama’s budget this year was defeated in the house 414-0, his own party didn’t vote for it. This to me shows incompetent leadership.

His spending spree the first 3 years has added $6 TRILLION to the national debt. The budget he proposed was going to add $1.3 Trillion to the already heavy debt – hardly an attempt at getting the financial crisis under control.

Obamacare – one of Obama’s milestones of his administration – isn’t going to help much as it is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to add $2-4 Trillion to our debt over the next decade.

Then we go to the GM Bailout, we’ve been told it has been paid back in full. Research shows there are taxbreaks, sale of more stock, Chevy Volt failures and other things that will cost taxpayers $50-80 Billion when it’s all said and done.

We still have unemployment at over 8%, that doesn’t include those who have quit looking for work for at least a year. Gas prices are nearing and in some places over $4 per gallon. When they took office it was around $1.90 per gallon. Groceries have gone up in the neighborhood of 10-15% since they took office. So I ask Mr. Hommerding if he still thinks Obama is the answer to the problems this country faces today??

This country needs fiscal responsibility and we need it NOW. The new Ryan budget cuts spending, reforms tax codes to eliminate tax breaks for most taxpayers including BIG CORPORATIONS and OIL Companies. This is more of an attempt at getting this country back on its feet and roaring like a Lion rather than bowing and apologizing to other leaders around the world.

Can some of the debt load be placed at Bush’s feet, yes it can. But a LEADER would have turned spending around and attempted to get it under control rather than spending more and proposing spending even more. There has been ZERO effort by Obama’s Administration to do what is needed. Definetly time for responsible change!!

Thanks for your time.


Chuck Bolder


Dear Editor:

There are going to be recall elections. On que OPINION letters from local Frankfurt Schoolers, and liberal TV ads, are surfacing. They are the same trite, worn, emotional narratives they always are, filled with partial truths, misstatements of fact, facts taken out of context, and scare and anger speech.

Governor Walker is being accused of causing the loss of 3,000 educator jobs, and targeted for reducing state funding to school districts by $800M.

Merrill Area Public Schools District (MAPS) renewed its existing union contract for 2011-12 and so was not obligated to implement Act 10 reforms. However, MAPS unions accepted a zero percent pay increase, and agreed to pay 5.8% of retirement package costs, and an additional 2.6% of the health insurance premium. MAPS also bid out its health insurance contract. These actions avoided having to lay off an originally planned 34 teachers, and the net teacher loss at MAPS in 2011-12 compared to 2010-11 was 5 teachers, none of which were layoffs.

Working with MAPS and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I found that the loss of state revenue to MAPS for 2011-12 was just over $1.3M, and is expected to be about $1.1M for 2012-13. Act 10 reform savings realized are: 1. Bidding the health insurance contract – $475,000; 2. Teachers paying 5.8% of their retirement cost – $660,000; 3. Teachers paying an additional 2.6% of their health insurance premium – $100,000; and 4. For 2012-13, the increasing of the health insurance deductibles – $600,000.

These are not all the savings the District will realize for either school year, but they alone total over $1.8M. The District should break even for 2011-12, and see a small net gain in 2012-13. Not the doomsday scenario WEAC and the state mainstream media wanted us to believe was imminent.

Look at the claim of 3,000 educator jobs lost. The ad does not say whether they are teachers only, or include all staff. The Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators fall 2011 survey of 355 of the 427 Wisconsin public school districts shows that Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Janesville school districts alone accounted for teacher and total staff losses of 923 and 2,065 respectively. None of these districts had implemented Act 10 reforms. Act 10 reforms where implemented avoided layoffs of significant numbers of teachers and staff. Had those districts, and may more that acted similarly to them, implemented Act 10 reforms, most of the claimed jobs lost would have been saved as they were at MAPS.

The other claim made is that by cutting state education funding $800M for 2011-123 students will suffer. If we believe this, they’ll tell us another one. From the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Educational Statistics and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) programs, we learn some interesting facts: 1. Improvement in the academic achievement of a 17-year-old high school senior since 1970 is zero. Over a 40-year period there has been no improvement based on NAEP standardized national testing. 2. Stated in inflation adjusted 2009 dollars, the total of all government spending to educate a student for the 13 K-12 school years in 1970 was $49,000. In 2009 it was $150,000. No improvement, in four decades, for triple the taxpayer dollars spent, despite 3. Average class sizes being cut almost in half, and 4. A more than doubling of the percent of teachers with masters degrees. High levels of spending, reduced class sizes, and advanced degrees have never been, and never will be, the answer to improving the American education system.

It is easy to present questionable information with the conscious intent of muddying the water and upsetting people. Why isn’t it being done here truthfully, objectively, and honorably? Because any means justifies their end. One has to question the character of both those who put out these intentionally misleading ads, and also those who gain from them.

Who has benefitted from the ungated flood of taxpayer dollars that has been flowing into a failed American educational system since 1970? The students? The school districts? The taxpayers? Clearly none of these.

Bill Fehrmann


To the Editor,

I would like to thank the people who encouraged and supported me in my candidacy for 1st Ward alderman.

I would also like to thank the people who voted for me.

Dean Haas



The staff and students of Trinity School would like to thank all the agencies, businesses, and individuals who made the student’s dream of lockers a reality. When the students came up with the idea of adding lockers for the middle school students at our school, ideas began to flow. The Middle School Task Force researched purchasing used lockers. Trinity’s P.T. O. donated much of the funding, and the Student Council filled in the rest. Lockers were ordered and shipped to KB Body Shop, where they underwent a significant facelift as they were sanded and then painted Trinity blue. On Friday, March 30, the “new” lockers were delivered to the school and installed by a team of volunteers headed by Tim Schneider. Thank you to everyone involved for sharing your time, talent and treasures to improve our school!

Kathy Yahr, Principal

Trinity Lutheran School

Dear Editor,

While this letter will be too late to change the outcome of our local BOE election, a response to Gene Bondioli’s campaign manifesto is certainly in order. His claim that the board, of which he has been a member, is to “represent 100% of the school district” is negated in one of his following sentences where he states that he will represent only 97% of the district. Apparently, he fails to see that district employees too are taxpayers, consumers, devoted citizens and constituents. Sadly, judging from his letter, he views district employees, past and present, with nothing but disdain and sees no reason to include them in his plans. Is his message the one that the BOE wishes to establish as they search for a new superintendent?

My wife and I came to Merrill in 1972 when I began my teaching career with MAPS. I am proud to say that I spent my entire career here in Merrill, our home. We do not plan to leave, but wish to continue as contributing members of a community that we value. “…they no longer bring any value to our students, school district, taxpayers or our community.” I understand that my hair may be a little lighter in color than when I came here in 1972, but I didn’t realize that at my age I serve no purpose to Merrill. At least give me credit for helping trees with carbon dioxide when I exhale and in that way contribute to making Merrill a Tree City! No value? Really, Mr. Bondioli?

MAPS employees and former employees have had a long tradition of service beyond the classroom. Check area community service clubs and volunteer lists and you will most likely see many MAPS people right along with the listing of others from our community. They continue to donate their time and expertise to help make Merrill a better place and often, work alongside former students who have that same sense of civic pride. Personally, I enjoy those former students and their families – they are the Merrill community and a major reason why my wife and I continue to call Merrill “home.”

Merrill’s BOE, like those found in many small Wisconsin towns, faces budgetary and administrative problems to address. That goes with the territory, How such problems are addressed often makes as much difference as the solution itself. However, when a board member like Mr. Bondioli makes such inflammatory, negative remarks in a newspaper and another board member calls for voters (in a letter to the editor posted in the Wausau Daily Herald) to elect member who would join her voting faction, a disturbing picture emerges. It is a picture that displays exactly what we don’t need this time. We don’t need a BOE made up of factions grabbing for power to promote a personal agenda. We need a unified board that will calmly and respectfully represent all citizens and provide intelligent, resourceful leadership that will help attract the best students and staff to MAPS. To accomplish that goal, Mr. Bondioli owes all of his constituents a better type of service and he owes 3% of his constituents an apology.


Jim Richardson



I am writing in response to misleading and unprofessional comments made last week by one Eugene Bondioloi. If you are to represent the Merrill area on the BOE, what is supposed to be a professional panel, then one should conduct themselves that way. There were many mistakes in your isolated view of a teacher and also in your math.

First you claim this group of well-educated hardworking professionals is the highest paid 3% in the district? Have you researched what doctors, chiropractors, dentists, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, insurance company executives, bank managers, or lawyer’s make? I make more than what you claim the top teachers make without having any collage degrees. I know very many people with a 4-year degree that make double this top teacher’s pay to which you refer. My wife has been teaching now for 22 years, has a master’s degree along with many more required extra college credits, and she does not make that much! Are there many teachers are at that pay level? In contrast you should have said what a bottom teacher gets paid, and how long it will take that teacher to reach that top pay.

Another flaw in your logic is when you combined a top teacher’s salary and benefits, and then you divided it by the hours you think they only work. If their total pay is the combination of the two, then a teacher pays 100% of their pension and healthcare, unlike the claim you make of only paying 12.6%.

Let’s look at the hours you state they work in a day. The amount of paper work and extra activities a teacher has to do would never get done in a 7.5 hour day! In fact, very often they take papers home to work on for a couple of hours. You also claim they only work 190 days in a year, another false assumption. Many weekend days are spent in the classroom catching up or at home working on papers. I’ve seen this many times first hand. I have seen most all teachers in their classrooms several days before the contracted time is to return in the fall and get their classroom set up for the new school year. Not to mention the required college courses. These are time and monetarily consuming. Most often those required classes are taken over the summer break. The district does not pay for these state required professional licensure renewal classes or for the time it takes to complete them.

Let’s look at the economics of what this group can do for a small community. First and foremost they bring state money to the economy. These are real dollars that otherwise would not come in to the Merrill. As more and more state funding gets cut from education, the worse off we will all be in the long term.

If this group makes as much as you claim, then imagine what would be the economic impact of them making much less? With a higher pay scale comes a higher tax bracket, which in turn contributes more to the economics of the state in the form of income tax. When Gov. Walker took over $700 million dollars right out of the pockets of the people who spend it, this has a huge ripple effect especially in small communities like Merrill.

As a BOE member, one of your responsibilities is to hire a new superintendent. How is that going? Why exactly do you think there has been no interest in coming to work for the Merrill district? Do you think some of the BOE current members has anything to do with it? It is my opinion there is no place for this type of unprofessionalism, and that you should resign from the BOE! At the very least you should retract your statements and send out a formal apology to the teachers and the community.

Ted Schmelling


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