Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An open letter to residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama

Here in Wisconsin, our thoughts and prayers are with you. It is clear that the damage and destruction your region has suffered from Hurricane Katrina will be severe and lasting. The hurricane didn’t just hit the Gulf Coast, it hit America – and we will stand with you in your recovery.

Unfortunately, some Wisconsin State Legislators have looked at your situation and seen naked political opportunity. One of my state senators has sent a letter to President Bush asking him to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to make sure gas prices here don’t spike due to your devastating loss.

In a time of crisis, it is unconscionable to me that politicians can be callous enough to use this tragic event as merely a platform for political opportunity. Before a single rescue crew had been through what is left of the streets of New Orleans, Biloxi, or Mobile, legislators were pandering to the press to get a cheap story. Before a single drowned body has been pulled from a flooded home, some of my legislators were more worried about whether we here in the Midwest may pay a few extra cents at the pump.

Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves is an extremely complicated proposition with international ramifications. If the fuel is released, one of the problems we may face is a lack of refineries, not a shortage of crude oil. Having all the oil in the world won’t help us if the refineries cannot process it. The infrastructure in the Gulf Coast Region may be severely damaged, which would make transporting this oil costly. Releasing oil from the strategic reserves could signal a shortage crisis to the futures markets, which would actually drive the price upwards. Thus, releasing the oil in reserve may serve little purpose other than to spawn more press releases for political opportunists. While it may still be a good idea, the timing of this request is disturbing.

The only role Wisconsin State Legislators should be playing in this tragedy is to urge their constituents to donate food, clothing, and money to the relief effort. Nobody likes high gas prices, but it is a global problem. Unless a Wisconsin State Senator can convince India and China to reduce their demand for oil, altering the state’s gas tax is the most significant act we as a state can take, and we have not been willing to do so.

In the last day, we have seen video of streets and buildings underwater, power lines down, and substantial wind damage to structures. We have seen video of heroic rescues of people trapped on their roofs, and those are the lucky ones who managed to make it out of their homes. No doubt rescue crews will find attics with fingernail scratches in the ceilings where people were sentenced to death.

I truly cannot believe one could look at that scene and immediately worry about gas prices in Wisconsin, rather than the well being of families who have suffered casualties or total property loss. Apparently our legislators are willing to step over a few hundred caskets in search of an easy press hit.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and I urge all the residents of Wisconsin to help the relief effort to their full capabilities. Please make a contribution to the relief effort at the American Red Cross website or choose a worthwhile charity that is helping residents of the area. While kind Wisconsinites are helping you get back on your feet, Judy Robson and John Gard will be sending you a bill for the extra buck per tank they have to pay when they fill up at the pump.


Dennis York

Note: This post does not constitute a return to blogging.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

York Announces Blogging Retirement

In one of her recent posts, Jessica McBride asks the question: "Who is Dennis York?" A more topical question might be: "Who was Dennis York?"

After a few months of working on this blog, I have finally decided to pull the plug on this little project. Seeing as how discussion of my identity has really taken over any discussion of what I actually write, I think it's probably time. Some other reasons:

1. I have heard from numerous people who are accused of being me on a daily basis. In her article, Jessica actually posits a few possibilities (I am none of those people, FYI). It really isn't fair to those people to have to answer questions about whether they are me, and it's not fair for people to suspect them of holding some of the opinions I have expressed.

2. I do actually feel guilty for using a pseudonym, and I apologize to those who didn't know. If I didn't absolutely have to, I wouldn't. When I started the blog, I never expected anyone except my audience of about four buddies to actually read it, so I didn't think the pen name thing was a big deal. I support other people who want to blog anonymously, because I think it can be a good thing if done right.

3. I'm just a regular working stiff, and I need to consider the job that actually pays my bills. Continuing this blog would make things difficult in that regard, so I have to prioritize the thing that keeps a roof over my head. I would hope everyone else would make that choice, too.

I want to thank all the people who have read this over the past few months, and the people who encouraged me to get it going in the first place. (I thanked some of them here.) I'll continue to read you all in the future, but unfortunately, I will have to vent quietly behind my desk. I'll keep all the articles I have written up on the blog, as my little contribution to the blog knowledge base.

Maybe someday I'll re-appear as "Phineas Ironsides" or "Grover Manlove" or something like that in the future. Keep a look out.

There's a good speech in the movie "Hustle and Flow" about those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. I had been talking for a while about writing and doing columns. I want to thank you all for letting me walk for a little while.

-"Dennis York"

Friday, August 12, 2005

Packer Preseason Game One: Observations

As is the case with most Wisconsin residents, I bleed green and gold. And since I now have a forum to vent my gripes about the Pack, I will do so occasionally. Often times, it will be after a tough loss, I will be drunk and despondent, and they will be only semi-lucid. Here are some thoughts from last night’s scrimmage:

I am as big a Brett Favre fan as anyone, but apparently he has super powers that turn announcers into oatmeal. The three hour lap dance he usually gets from the likes of Madden and Theismann is really getting to be embarrassing. I mean, in his last two playoff games, the guy has walked out and dropped a Cleveland steamer on the middle of the field. Does that count for nothing? (Painful stat update: In his last 5 playoffs games, Favre has thrown 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while the Packers have gone 1-4. Their only win came in overtime against Seattle, on Al Harris' interception for a touchdown.)

Jim Bates may be a great defensive coordinator, but any time a running back in pre-season that wears the number “8” is running wild on your defense, it may be time to re-think some things.

Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire shouldn’t even be allowed to buy tickets to the same game that Mike Patrick is working.

J.T. O’Sullivan will make a great life insurance salesman. Or realtor. In fact, I’m setting the over/under at two years before we see an ad that says, “Nobody knows the Monona – Cottage Grove area better than the O’Sullivan Team!”

Listening to Suzy Kolber really makes me want to end it all. With the praise she heaped on Favre for his pre-season workout regimen, you would think he saved an Indonesian city from the tsunami. I didn’t hear many of her other interviews because I was sitting in my closed garage with the car running.

Near the end of the game, I did a double-take when I actually thought I saw a white cornerback on the Packers. I would be less surprised if a saw a stegosaurus playing left tackle.

Instant update: The player I saw was some guy wearing #29, Todd Franz. This is on his official bio, and I am not kidding: "After football, wants to help wife start a business producing designer purses and baby bags, called 'Fränz Handbags.'" The jokes just write themselves.

What could Darrell Bevell possible have to say to Brett Favre as his “coach?”

Bevell: “Brett, you missed the read there – you should have thrown to the post pattern.”

Favre: “Darrell, can you go get me a soda? I think it’s somewhere in the back of my locker – behind my three MVP rings.”

The Najeh Davenport situation is a perfect example of the double-standard we have for athletes. Would he be re-elected if Fred Risser snuck into some UW Madison student’s dorm room and dropped a deuce in her laundry basket in the middle of the night? Come to think of it, that might be the only way he earns my vote.

Aaron Rodgers is still a long way away. In fact, Wisconsin residents better pray for good health for Brett Favre and Jim Doyle, because their backups are horrific.

How cool was it to hear LaDanian Tomlinson talk about touring the Packer Hall of Fame? A class act – someone on another team that is easy to root for.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Counterpoint: "The Yorkster" Speaks Out

Seeing as he has plenty of time on his hands these days, I have enlisted Bob Novak to help me come up with a response to Xoff’s critique of my blog. I figured I needed a master public relations strategist to counter Bill Christofferson’s pointed observations.

First of all, whenever there is a popular conservative issue that starts getting good press, the typical liberal response is to downplay it and say that there are much more pressing issues in the world. Witness Xoff's own post, "Who's Needling Now, Needlessly," where he says, about the used hypodermic needles delivered to Speaker John Gard's office by Governor Doyle's staff:

"I hesitate to mention this because it's one of those non-issues the right likes to stir up to keep everyone's attention off what really matters -- like the positive impact Jim Doyle's budget vetoes this week will have on countless kids and adults in Wisconsin...

... She was trying to get Gard's attention, and she certainly did that. I don't think this stunt is likely to change his mind, however. Can we move on now and stop the killing in Iraq, for example?"

So I’m going to play that card. Clearly, in a world where soldiers are dying, our enemies are gathering nuclear weapons, and the combover continues to be an acceptable hairdo, Xoff thinks my using a pen name to blog is a cornerstone issue. I guess the more he blogs about me and the less he acts on his unhealthy obsession with F. Jim Sensenbrenner, the better off we all are.

He is right in his skepticism about anonymous blogging. A lot of people may just set up an anonymous blog and start blasting away at people, seeing as how there are no negative repercussions. In a situation like this, there really aren’t any rules, and nasty stuff can happen.

I hope my blog has more integrity than that. (Now that I said that, I have to scrap my “Xoff Smells Like Cabbage” post.) Whenever I post something, or take a shot at someone, I’ll source it. Granted, I do take some shots, but generally in a joking manner. If anyone disagrees with what I say, I’d be happy to post any e-mail responses I get (within reason). In fact, I was hoping that my blog could become more of a public discussion area, with a lot more reader input.

While he thinks people should be skeptical of individuals that post anonymously, I would argue the opposite. By doing so, I can give an honest assessment, whereas spokespeople for a point of view generally give spin. If you want to hear that, you can just read press releases and columns online. The Republican and Democratic party talking points are easily accessible. I would hope that my blog either sinks or swims based on the content and insight I provide, not necessarily on who I am (trust me, it's not that exciting). If I started taking unwarranted shots at people or telling untruths, I would hope people would stop reading. In the end, the readers will be the judge.

Why am I using the name "Dennis York?" It's easy - "Mark Twain" and "Jeffrey Dahmer" were taken. In any event, this is the last time I am going to address this - I want to get back to writing stuff that people actually care about (assuming I do now). In closing, I would like to mention that publishing private e-mails isn't something that I would do, but you can make up your mind what you think about it.

This is a lot like “Spiderman 2,” when Peter Parker can’t tell Mary Jane Watson that he is Spiderman. I can’t reveal my true identity to my readers because, in fact, I am actually Spiderman.

As for his offer to $2 to anyone to “out” me – my wife (who sides with him on pretty much everything) thinks she might be able to talk him up to $5.

Join us for the next installment, when Xoff and Dennis York face off on the question: “Fat Lohan” or “Skinny Lohan?”

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

For the Lefty That Has Everything...

You've exhausted all the possible gifts for the left-winger in your life. Mondale cufflinks? Check. Lock of Al Gore's chest hair? $4.66 on EBay. Dukakis oven mitts? Done.

After perusing the web, I found a perfect gift that I GUARANTEE nobody owns. I give you the State Senate Democratic Committee merchandise page, where you can pick up a memento from a caucus that has lost three seats in two years - with a bullet. If you need to make a strong statement of support for a rudderless group comprised of individuals that nobody in the state can name, this is the spot for you.

For those that don't know, a campaign committee only exists to raise money - so by buying this merchandise, you are merely showing your support for the bland fundraising mechanism that many point to as being the big problem in politics.

For my grandmother's 75th birthday, we had T-Shirts printed up for the accompanying party. I would bet a hundred bucks there are more of those in circulation than SDCC t-shirts.

If buying merchandise from a nondescript campaign committee isn't your cup of coffee, then maybe a Dave Hansen for Senate coffee mug is. Going out for a picnic? Don't forget your Bob Wirch Tote Bag, in honor of the electrifying State Senator from Kenosha.

Since I'm sure these items are flying off the shelves, I thought I'd make some other product suggestions to fatten the wallets of Democrats in Wisconsin. When these become a reality, I expect a cut of the profits.


The Russ Feingold Mirror - When you're looking out for #1. That's right - you da Senator, beautiful. (Side note: Whoever owns "Just for Men" hair coloring sent his kids to college based solely on the business he gets from U.S. Congress.)

Frank Boyle Adult Diapers - Comes in "Absorbent," "Super Absorbent," and "Oh, Sh** I just plowed into a concrete barrier while a cop car was following me."

Russ Decker Chewing Gum - For when smokey is on your tail, and your breath is premium octane.

Peg Lautenschlager Resume Paper - When you absolutely have to get a ton of resumes out in a hurry.

Chuck Chvala Soap-on-a-Ro... I'm sorry, it's just too easy. Moving on...

Jim Doyle White-Out - Perfect for those loved ones who need to erase comments they made while they were Attorney General, such as "The Legislature should have a say in Indian gaming compacts," and "The governor should not be allowed to use his veto to create new sentences."

Gwen Moore Tire Repair Kit - Comes free at Taco Bell with purchase of a three pack of Soft Taco Supreme Solar Allahs.

The Gary George Board Game - Learn to move money seamlessly between the Police Athletic League, offshore television stations, your check cashing business, and the women who have filed suit against you for sexual harrassment. But look out - if you get caught by the FBI's black helicopter, you have to go to prison in Minnesota, without collecting a cent.

Mike Ellis Kiddie Backpack - For carrying your dependents around. Fits Rob Cowles and Mike McCabe comfortably.

In researching this post, I came across the Robert Fyrst for State Treasurer website, unfortunately titled "Adding Up For Wisconsin." In other words, Robert Fyrst's only actual qualification for the office is that he owns a calculator. Go get 'em, Rob.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Shocker: Vrakas' Mustache to Serve as Campaign Manager

Just so everyone doesn't think that Jessica McBride has all the good scoops on the Waukesha County Executive race: My sources tell me that Dan Vrakas' mustache will make a command return appearance to run his County Exec race.

The presence of Vrakas' mustache explains why other qualified challengers are all bowing out of the race. Ultimate respect should be shown to any individual that would sport a "cookie duster" like this.

In all seriousness, can you believe this look? Was he in the witness protection program at any time? An adult film career, perhaps?

Voters simply have no choice but to vote for someone that at one point looked like they could have won a Ron Burgundy lookalike contest.

Vrakas' mustache was unavailable for comment.

The Official York/Xoff Rebuttal

I know, not exactly the Lincoln-Douglas debates, but here goes:

Last week, liberal in-house Wispolitics.com blogger Xoff took me up on my challenge to come up with what he considered to be his five best Republicans in Wisconsin, at any level of government. I appreciate his work on this, and I sent him an e-mail thanking him for taking the bait. We have got a lot of hits on that topic.

As I think about it more, though, I am having more and more reservations about his list. Two points in his defense:

1. Unless you have people who know politics helping you out, this list would be impossible to put together. Since he lives in Milwaukee and probably has no idea who two-thirds of state legislators are, that kind of narrows the field.

2. He is a blog posting machine, so I imagine he didn't have the time to sit around and think about this stuff like I did. He actually posts on a variety of subjects, while it takes me a while to get around to posting something I like that interests me. In fact, he is now in the middle of an uncomfortable cyber-flirtation with Jessica McBride that seems to be taking up a lot of his time. At the point you start flirting in public with a DA's wife, you might as well just stop and write yourself a speeding ticket every day on the way home, to save the sheriff time. The bottom line is, he probably enjoys a healthy social life, while I sit at home debating whether Spencer Black looks better without a beard (answer: he does not.)

Notwithstanding those two points, his list leaves a lot to be desired. There is a common thread that runs through all of his picks - and that is they almost all have embarrassed the Republican party at one time or another (or continue to). For instance:

Curt Gielow recently introduced a universal-style government health plan that would be disastrous for health care in Wisconsin.

Mike Ellis has made a career out of criticizing Republicans - he caused a bloodbath on the state budget by voting no, presumably because it left too big of a deficit (which he caused as majority leader in the 90's).

He picks Tom Petri because he votes against Republicans on his committee, occasionally.

Luther Olsen is known as a moderate, to put it generously.

Terry Musser has co-sponsored legislation to repeal the caps on teachers' salaries and benefits (the QEO) and is currently circulating legislation to raise sales taxes for counties.

David Prosser is a good pick, but completely disengaged from partisan politics, as he is on the State Supreme Court.

As I made clear in my qualifications for the "Best Democrats" list, I didn't want to pick the most moderate Democrats. This appears to be what Xoff did, for Republicans. I wanted to try, as a mental exercise, to pick the Democrats that I, if I was a Democrat, would want to carry my party's message forward. Therefore, uber-lefties like Baldwin, Falk, and Coggs made the list.

I don't know if you can find a Republican that would be comfortable with any members of his list being the voice of the party.

I will now go slink back "into the shadows," as Xoff put it.

The "York Idol" Competition is ON!

So just a little background on my blog - I essentially just started it to make the guys I work with, and other guys that are in politics (that feed me the good stuff) laugh. If there's a little bit of perspective and opinion thrown in here or there, that's kind of just extra.

Well, this thing has gotten completely out of hand. Bloggers who are a lot smarter and better than I have started linking to my site and people are actually starting to read it, which really was never supposed to happen. It's actually kind of embarrassing.

Last Friday, I got an e-mail from Wisconsin Public Radio, who wanted me to go on air for an hour to debate Bill Christofferson (Xoff) about my "Five Best Democrats in Wisconsin" post (note: WPR didn't know my blog existed until the lefty bloggers started linking to it - interesting).

Followers of my blog know that, for obvious reasons, I couldn't possibly go on air - although it would be a blast. So I propose that anyone that wants to go on air as Dennis York, be my guest. We could even turn it into a little competition, to de-pants Xoff on air. Debate to your heart's content. I already told them I couldn't do it, so it may take a little backtracking.

I am almost serious.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Doyle's Veto Flip Flop: Part II

From an article by David Callender at the Cap Times:

"No one should be able to create new laws through the use of a veto," Doyle told a legislative panel considering the amendment in 1992. "As we all learned in our studies of good government, laws should be written by the Legislature and either approved or rejected by the governor."

Doyle took a similar tack when he was running for governor three years ago, telling a candidates' forum, "I don't think you should be able to go in and take a word out there and a word out here and create a whole new sentence."

Look for a generous helping of these quotes in the next few months as the Republicans push their plan to rein the governor's veto power in. I mean, they're just doing what Attorney General Doyle wanted, right?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

State Democrats: We Mean What We Mean (Unless We Don't)

For years now, Wal-Mart has been the whipping boy of Democrats nationwide. They decry Wal-Mart's "low" wages, "terrible" benefits and aesthetically displeasing "big box" stores.

The latest hit against Wal-Mart has been the benefits they offer employees. See press releases from Service Employees' Union here and from Wisconsin Citizen Action here.

On June 1st of this year, state Democrats held a press conference announcing introduction of a bill that would increase taxes on large companies to fund increased Medicaid benefits for their employees. At the press conference, Representative Terese Berceau said Wal-Mart stores "have gotten outrageously rich by outsourcing health care costs. ... You can afford low-cost prices when you force Wisconsin taxpayers to pick up the tab."

From the Capital Times article covering the event:

Sen. Dave Hanson (sp), D-Green Bay, and Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee, also are proposing legislation aimed at remedying what rally organizers described as an abuse of public health program funds. "We have one of the most profitable corporations in the world refusing to pay its way," Hansen alleged. (See Hansen's concurrent release here)

Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said he is working for a bigger solution - universal health care coverage for everyone.

Strong words. You couldn't imagine that Democrats would want anything to do with a company so evil. Could you?


Apparently these Democrats have selective outrage over Wal-Mart's profit margin - especially when the State Senate Democratic Committee accepted a $3,000 contribution from Wal-Mart's Political Action Committee on April 25th of 2005, a little more than a month before their press conference. I guess when your campaigns gain financially from Wal-Mart's obscene profits, borne on the backs of its underpaid workers, all is forgotten. I imagine that $3,000 of blood money would pay for more than a few workers' health benefits at Wal-Mart.

To make matters worse, guess who buys their office supplies at Wal-Mart? Once again, the State Senate Democratic Committee, who purchased $147 worth of office supplies at the Madison Wal-Mart on June 8th of 2005. Boy, those low prices are a good deal, aren't they? The workers won't be able to feed their children, but the Senate Democrats got a great deal on a Swingline stapler.

The State Senate Democratic Committee's treasurer? State Senator Mark Miller (D-Hypocrisy).

Springer's Final Thought: Both the Senate and Assembly Campaign Committees file their electronic finance reports in a sloppy way that skirts the law - they are completely illegible to anyone that doesn't know what they are looking for (like, the public). If they are legal, they are certainly a middle finger to anyone looking to extract any information from them. This appears to be the first time they've tried this tactic - and they should be called on it.

Sowa Sowa Sowa'cha Want?

So apparently some 27 year old young man named Justin Sowa has offered himself up as chum to the Paul Ryan campaign machine, declaring his congressional candidacy in Janesville on Sunday. I haven't seen Democrats this excited since McDonald's introduced the McDLT.

Youngsters overreaching and taking a shot at Congress isn't a new phenomenon. But a few things from Justin's website caught my interest.

From his bio:

Justin was born and raised in Greendale, WI. As a child, he had many problems. Born without a hip socket, he had to endure more than 10 operations to correct the problem. In second grade, he broke his femur and was in a wheelchair for 4 months. Because of all of his problems he had to learn to walk 4 times before his 10th birthday. These experiences led him to want to help those who cannot help themselves.

In high school, Justin was an athletic trainer, helping those who were injured the way he once was. He continued as a student athletic trainer at Louisiana State University. It was there, however, that his life took a markedly different turn. Realizing he did not want to be a doctor as he had always envisioned, he became active in politics on campus.

His senior year, he ran for student government president. Facing tough competition from conservatives on the, at the time, 5th most conservative campus in the country, he fell short of his goal. This only steeled his resolve. After the election, he became a voice for progressive causes on campus.

For "Justin Sowa Unplugged," see his posts on the Democratic Underground Website, a site that refers to conservatives as "idiots," has an advice column entitled "Ask Auntie Pinko," and sells erudite gut-busting t-shirts that say "FUGWB." Check it out - I'm sure it's a bastion of moderation.

So what have we learned about Justin Sowa today?

1. Apparently Justin Sowa considers walking with a limp to be a strong resume builder.

2. Justin Sowa bears a remarkable resemblance to "Flounder" from "Animal House."

3. Justin Sowa doesn't know how to spell the name of probably the most popular Democrat to hold the seat he's running for. Note to "Bugs" - it's Les "Aspin," not "Aspen." Is this guy getting public relations advice from Rafael Palmeiro?

4. His college grades were crappy, so he couldn't get into Med School (as he had always envisioned).

5. He has a willingness to cite statistics that are absolutely meaningless - I'm sure the "5th most conservative campus (at the time)" statistic is rock solid.

6. He wasn't even able to win a college student body race, appealing to the people that knew him the best - his peers. Would your next reaction be, "what I really need to do is run a race against one of America's most popular congressmen, who has $2 million in the bank?" Does this sound like a congressional decision making process? When he gets pounded by Paul Ryan does he turn around and run forthe job of Jennifer Aniston's next husband?

I don't want to sound mean-spirited and I do wish him the best of luck. Any comments I heretofore offer of Mr. Sowa will be repectful and dignified. I take pride in my blog as being a place where issues can be debated with insight and fairness, without cheap shots and unfounded accusation.

In closing, I would like to say that Justin Sowa's momma is so stupid, she sold her car for gas money.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stink Bond: Wisconsin's Backwards Building Program

I know, I know – the whole issue of bonding is about as sexy as Jim Doyle in a thong. I’ll try to spice it up using understandable terms.

So think about your first date – you finally have a girl with two eyes and a full set of teeth that said she’d go out with your stinky behind. You slap on the Polo cologne and load of your “love van” with a sixer of Pabst and your Zeppelin mix tapes. Only one problem – the "sin wagon" won’t start.

You immediately catch a ride down to the auto shop. After fighting off the mechanics who are drawn to you by your manly musk, you proudly announce that your Grandma just died and left you $2,000, and that’s what you have to spend on repairs.

Guess what your repairs are going to cost?

As goofy as it would be to announce how much money you have before you start a negotiation, that is exactly what the state does every time it starts a building project.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the process works like this: a state department decides it needs a new building. It then gets an estimate of what it would cost to build the building. The request goes to the Department of Administration Division of Buildings, which then can add the project to the capital budget. After approval of the State Building Commission, this budget is included as part of the state budget and voted on by legislators. Once passed by the full legislature, the project is then “enumerated,” and then the bidding process begins.

See the problem here? The bidding process only begins after a set dollar figure has been approved. If a contractor wants to make a bid, they know exactly how much money the state is willing to spend. This is like moving all your chips into the middle of the table in a hand with Phil Hellmuth, and announcing that you are bluffing with a seven and a two. Even if they could do the project for much less, they will want to milk the project for as much as possible.

This setup is nearly scandalous. Wisconsin needs to move to a system where bids are solicited to figure the cost of the project, not after the project has been enumerated. To make matters worse, these projects are usually paid with bonds, meaning the state will also be paying the inflated cost plus 20 to 30 years’ worth of interest. Think about how much interest you end up paying on the life of your home mortgage, then apply that to a $50 million research lab at the University of Wisconsin. Often times, legislators don’t apply as much scrutiny to spending funded with bonds, because the money is raised up front and the obligations are pushed off into the future.

This is no small potatoes. The budget that just passed enumerated projects totalling about $1.1 billion. That could mean tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars the taxpayers will pay back, with interest, that could be avoided by an independent bidding process. Click the above link and you will see clearly how much the state has authorized for each of these projects. And if you have a hammer and some nails in your basement, get your bid in now -there are some sweet deals to be had.

Just make sure you wear that cologne to the job site. It will drive your co-workers wild.

Side note: As you can see from Informational Paper #71 referenced above, special considerations are giving to contractors and construction companies that are minority owned (Page 7). This seems like it could be a lot of money for a relatively limited pool of businesses, which might lead one to think that some favorable contracts are given out. Something an enterprising reporter might want to look into.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The "Smoking Iguana" Story

I really admire the posting machines (like Jessica), but I'm exhausted tonight. So I will leave you with one of my favorite non-political stories.

In college, I worked at a fancy brew pub as a waiter. As is the case in most upscale restaurants, all the twentysomethings with too much cash on hand leads to a lot of drug use. I was talking to one of the guys there about a big party he and his buddies had the night before - it went something like this:

"So my hombres and I decided it would be fun to see if we could get our iguana stoned. I would take a hit, then blow out into his cage. Then the next guy would, and he would exhale in the cage, too. Then it would get back to me, then around and around. Absolutely no response from the iguana - he just sat still.

Then, after an hour or so, the iguana just plops over on his side, like he's dead. After an hour of inhaling smoke, he finally gives in. It's at this moment that I realize - THE IGUANA WAS TRYING TO GET ME STONED! He was purposely holding out until the last minute to make me and my friends smoke as much as possible! What an awesome iguana!"

Needless to say, the iguana lived on to trick other owners into smoking too much marijuana. In fact, maybe Ricky Williams' iguana should serve his four game NFL substance abuse suspension - I think being tricked by a reptile is a perfect excuse. Today, the iguana has his own show on "Air America" Radio.