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Post: Battle for the Hills
Yes, the people in the area could well use more jobs. At what price? In the Mesabi Range area today (after 60+ years of open pit taconite (iron) mining), 10% of the babies contain excess mercury at birth. (Mercury: think Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.) "Welcome to your new job. It will pay well, but it will cost one of your children. You don't get to pick which one." In _3 Among the Wolves_, Helen Thayer shows that wolf pups are the most precious things the adults have. How good is a job that poisons your children? Taconite mining is not the same as "the old days" when grandpa built a good life and family by pit mining high grade iron ore. Is there no way to recover the lower grade ore without destroying our environment - our woodlands, our water and towns where we live? The debate in Madison never raised this question, much less ask it of mining and taconite production experts who might answer it.
Post: Rough Patch
Patch (aol.com) appears to be a one-company illustration of all the trends & pressures on "journalism," at one time. It seems today that when anyone in authority complains something "costs too much" they really mean they didn't like the publicity & fallout of that something. My concern is that the trend toward more 'reader contributions' also suggests a decline in rigor, to say nothing of even hints of objectivity. Real 'value added' to serious reporting _must_ cost – the people with education, training & experience to do it must be paid. And frankly, I'd rather listen to them than to a bunch of amateurs, too many of whom need serious editing. Maybe the 'free' bloggers pull in less advertising revenue, too. Or maybe people interested in real news reporting don't click through to ads, and Patch (and 'news' sites like them) can go off in its own corner without them.
Post: Battle for the Hills
Excellent piece. The public hearings & other places gave links to vast amounts of technical data, which could be used to skewer whichever 'side' one is opposed to. But it's our countryside, and we've all got to live in it. Together. In this article I see people whose histories are directly from the 'nation' of the Empty Quarter - develop resources, it's what we do - and those directly from the 'nation' of the Breadbasket - treat the land well, it's what we have [Garreau's _Nine Nations of North America_]. If we do not consider the effects (outcomes, consequences) of both viewpoints, we will wind up with neither.
Post: The Declining State of Air Travel
I just flew to Lima and Cusco, Peru and back to O'Hare. TSA treatment was faster than immigration officials'. It was nice to hear the engines and entire system humming (more or less quietly), smoothly. Sputters and hesitations can really disrupt your time in the air. Footroom was abonimable. Most flights had a healthy, profitable loading factor (and less wiggle room for legs). I don't like to see pilots to smaller airports left to do their own air traffic control, but if Congress sets itself up to do nothing, then does it, maybe we should tell Congress that sequestering is keeping heavily used airports going at the expense of smaller ones. If hedging on fuel contracts keeps fuel costs down only so long, shouldn't we be grateful for the temporary reprieve, not complain about its end? Maybe we need high speed rail for shorter runs, and leave the airlines to the longer hauls. One more way to reduce the demand (and thus, price) for that fuel. And the train has plenty of room to stretch out, walk around, and avoid thrombosis.
Post: Dreams Deferred
Yes, "Raisin in the Sun" is a 'message' play, and yes it is about 'race.' But it is also NOT about race, any more than "Death of a Salesman" is about race. I think it is about one family's struggles to do a little better than their past, and for Walter Lee Younger (and the other people) to hold their heads up with recognized human dignity. At a time when the Governor of this State holds a distinct dislike for a large portion of his constituents, getting that recognition by anyone with a (socially defined) nowhere, throw-away job is extremely difficult. I thought it was a very powerful performance. Whatever the message might be, it suits today as well as 1959.
Post: An Open Book
Wisconsin education, and K-12 specifically, needs a serious evaluation to understand where it is going, plus where is headed and how we might influence that direction (if we wanted to). Race in the US has almost always been a contentious dividing point. This book should provide a long global view of Milwaukee's education development. Perhaps that will help us recognize the deep antecedents of this year's crises, and give direction to make the needed changes. I plan to buy the book.
Post: A Theory in Subway
A subway in Milwaukee? Only if it crosses the rivers. I would like to see this plan merged with the plans for commuter rail in the area - KRM on the South Shore to Chicago, out to Waukesha and beyond. there was even mumbling about a commuter rail to Sheboygan. And recall, please: commuter rail is NOT 'light rail.' Commuter rial is faster & covers more distance with fewer stops. Light rail covers within & near-cities, about as fast as a bus and with as many stops. We could probably have most of all this for less $ than rebuilding I-94 (an expense the DOT finds, in this late day, they can't afford.
Post: The Third Degree
Yes, there is a lot of "waste" in our post-secondary educational system. but that by no means gets for-profit schools off the hook. Students fork over sizable dollars plus sign for student loans that cost them nothing up front, on the promise that they will receive something of value in the months ahead. Suppose that a school had to return 33% of the tuition funds if a student dropped out. 33% is about the highest profit margin reported in the article. Suppose that a student who failed to get a job related to the area of interest within 6 months of completion would receive a refund of 25%. Enrolling in another school for further education with 70% transfer credits could count as 'successful completion.' Then we'll apply these rules to non-profit as well as for-profit schools. WE'll need to tighten up the definitions of 'drop out,' 'part time,' and 'graduation,' as well. Not every school aims to place their graduates in employed positions, but if the school's educational objectives are spelled out and explained to potential enrollees, there will be far fewer unhappy students. "Evening" ("nontraditional") students generally _are_ different than "traditional" (18-22 yrs. old, direct from HS) students. The older students are more focused in their aims and more stressed by work & family. And they tolerate much less guff and blather from instructors. Some local non-profit schools, with their instructors, have learned how to teach and work with them well. For-profit schools cannot claim a distinction on that basis.
Post: Bye, Bye Byline
. “With more competition around, people are able to distinguish more between bad reporting (the extremely biased kind) and the best ..." :trouBle is, the 'bad' reporting is far more vocal, insistent, and inflammatory. I don't think most of us readers do (or can) make the effort to locate the rational reporting, enough. including me.
Post: The Science of Editing
Please pass on to the new editor in chief that archeology is also very popular, Esp. Human archeology. At least to this subscriber -- I read each of these articles.
Post: Powerful Wind
Yea! See, it can be done! I'm sure SCJ didn't do this completely out of the goodness of their hearts; there must be some economic advantage. This installation was on their immediate property partly because the rules for power generation require longer distances to fall under the PSC, controlled private company requirements. We need to find a way to let anyone generate power, and feed it to a single customer. Or feed it into the grid for that customer, at a rate set by the customer & supplier, not by WE Energies.
Post: Cease and Desist
1) I disagree with the 9 legislators on ObamaCare - It will ensure that almost all of us are reasonably healthy & free from communicable diseases. It will free 'small' and larger business from the burden of providing health care, putting them on the same level playing field as Japanese companies. 2) As for the other issues, let them present & argue them in public, where both sides can hold everyone accountable for the accuracy of the claims. Can Wisconsin withstand a 'contaminated' raw milk scare? Maybe. Can we withstand everyone packing heat, concealed or open? Are we ready to suffer this social change? Let's have some public discussion on it. Maybe not.
Post: Yard Sign Wrangle
I guess the 'word' about not bullying hasn't yet got around to all the places it needs to. Some people may want to make a political thing of this – "they" are harassing us – but aside from possible motivations of the perps, the real issue is how do we reduce the amount of, and frequency of resort to, violence to express opinions. I hope the perps end up doing time, and that we all find out about it.
Post: Death by Fracking
Gov. Walker thinks the EPA & the "federal gov't" obstruct energy companies with unneeded regulations? Does that include requirements that workers receive training implemented 10 years ago? Does that mean that extreme emergency guidelines have not changed in 12 years? Oh, must be that no one thinks there will _be_ an extreme emergency near the Kewaunee plant. Same as the Japanese never thought a 9.2 earthquake would occur near Fukushima. Of course we don't look forward to these things, and of course making risk assessments, and preparing for them, are very difficult decisions. But really, training is relatively cheap; don't cut those corners. It makes us wonder what other corners have been cut, inspections or no. And it makes me wonder what else Walker would throw under the bus to reduce corporate costs - mercury fumes from taconite and coal fired plants, VOC emission restrictions on painting plants, plating plant effluent.. This _will_ increase jobs - medical jobs treating us all.
Post: Repackaging Charlie
Clearly, a person's or company's Weltanschauung influences how they report and publish a story. For some people the link between attitudes and report are obvious (such as Mr. Sykes); some scientific papers may provide examples of minimum influence. We _expect_ papers of record to work hard to muzzle or recognize their biases and consider alternative interpretations. ON subjects as emotion and implication laden as reporting police behavior & performance, I would like to see a public consideration of those alternate interpretations - they may be 'more right' than the original. Certainly additional consideration is more likely to produce a complete & accurate conclusion, whether or not the story changes in the process. Can any publication hit the nail correctly on the head every time, however hard they try? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, like most newspapers, needs high credibility - 'truthiness' - not splashy headlines or overwrought copy.
Post: Repackaging Charlie
Will there be a place on Right Wisconsin's page for listener input - including corrections of factual claims? Mr. Sykes holds forth for hours every day; he can hardly speak absolute truth from established facts 100% of the time.
Post: The Bridges of Milwaukee County
Replying to: Noodle
Clearly a man after Mitt Romney's heart - As Governor, Romney raised & created fees on a whole host of items. They weren't taxes, but they _were_ $50 to $200 private additional expenses for each one. And they went a good way toward balancing his State budgets.
Post: The Bridges of Milwaukee County
Land transportation (roads) and water transportation (canals) have crossed for at least two centuries in the US; the settled rule is that the bridges accommodate whatever river/canal traffic they can - opening on a schedule or on demand. I'm sure the boat owners pay various fees to operate on the river - dockage fees, etc. - and that those fees do not cover the cost of the bridges. We and the boat owners receive other benefits as well. What is the benefit to the community - all of us - from these boats? What is the benefit to all of us from the bridges?
Post: Picture Book
Thank you so much for writing (& illustrating) this book, Michael Goodwin & Dan Burr. And you, Erik Gunn, for finding & writing about it. The first day I got it, you restored my faith in Adam Smith (loves free market capitalism, distrusts capitalists). Now for the rest of the book.
Post: November Photo Contest Finalists
All are excellent shots, that I would feel good having in my own collection. But "Witch's Gulch" makes me jealous. I put it at the top.
Post: Missing Data
Excellent digging, Erik! How bad is it? We don't know,a nd th public data doesn't show us. Is 6% error 'bad'? Certainly not good, and if we intend to reduce violent crime in Milwaukee, we need all the sound information possible. Sixteen percent error? No way. I think the MPD needs to deeply review (and tighten up) the protocols they use to categorize cases, and then internally audit to assure that the protocols are being followed. I suspect they would be happy to show off that system/procedure to an outside auditor.
Post: Fancy Talk
Generally, the educational & speaking level of one's _parents_ strongly influences the day-in-day-out speaking level of a person. Professors, known for higher grade level speech, usually express considered topic and thought. In textbook and general interst writing, it usually pays to review the text to simplify it, lest any of those convoluted obfuscations creep in. But more importantly, we should be looking to see if each of those solons is thinking (and legislating) precisely, or is limited by the grade level understanding they express.
Post: A Time for Commitment
So where does that leave us, or equally important, where does that leave an editor, trying to set some sort of policy? 'Objectivity' was impossible in Selma, 1965. When Gandhi marched on the salt factories, objectivity was impossible for the reporters. When Gov. Walker, and/or the Republican Central Committee, calls me, an aging geezer, a "labor thug" for standing around the Capitol building, is 'objectivity' or neutrality possible? Maybe; nobody beat me up. When a Walker supporter refers to teachers as terrorists, must the reporter maintain 'objectivity' and neutrality? Or can they ask said supporter if we are to turn over our children to said terrorists each day? Certainly that's a reasonable question; a parent would want to know whether the implications of such a statement had been considered. I think we're looking at a continuum here, perhaps a continuum of starkness in values. Some people think the values demonstrated by Walker and friends are so extreme they can't be tolerated; others find them superlative. If the reporters can't reveal and express their opinions to some extent, we may wind up with newspapers touting the line most suited to the publisher's finances. Or the line most suited to the loudest whiners. I think it's time to push your thinking a little further, to see if you can find a place for a rationally opinionated reporter and editor.
Post: Threading the Needle
Excellent discussion. difficult to follow with all the characters, but you led me through it! Clearly, those who claim a high road of 'impartiality' and 'non-partisan' need to get their terms down carefully, before they claim to be holier than anyone else. this piece is getting much closer to explaining what I would like to see in news, _and_ in opinions.
Post: The Cost of Free News
My how the plot thickens! I am sick of all the blatantly slanted polemics that pass for news & information, and would dearly love something that covered that news with something close to balance. But real information in the cacophony is certainly not obvious, as your details of the twists and turns for just one 'back and forth' shows. I am concerned that demanding to know funding sources may not be sufficient light on the debates; but let's try it.
Post: Abstaining
If the Sun-Times did a serious evaluation of political claims & assertions, by both candidates _and_ the 'uncoordinated' yellers & screamers, then I think their impact on an election could climb considerable. Both the polarized sides seem to think that only wild eyed extreme claims can attract the electorate's attention and penetrate our thick skulls. Politifact frequently focuses on arguably irrelevant minutia in its attempt to find "truth." (although I may be off on this claim myself.) How about a comparison of one speaker's claims, with and without the adjectives & adverbs? What is the intent of so much highly slanted language, without a sign of 'truthiness'?
Post: The High Cost of Sheriff Clarke
"You can't re-create that knowledge base overnight." Absolutely the case, as it also is with software 'code writers' and some other jobs.
Post: A Mandate to Report
The lawyers are doing their job - making detailed molehills into mountain ranges. The truth is that the 'no coordination' rule is a thin, porous boundary. Until we know - promptly - where the funds come from, restricting them will be a secondary concern.
Post: The Recall Stall
The majority of people who signed the recall petitions were not "ideologues." The people who I talked with as they signed usually were concerned, but not dedicated enough to seek out a central location. I heard "I've been looking for one of you" frequently from people who had been driving by the petitioner site anyway. It is not clear how many of them voted in the Nov. 2010 election of the Gov. And of course, it remains unclear whether these signers will go out of their way to vote in the recall election, even if they are registered. Nonetheless, over 1 million signers (as per United WI this pm) should certainly give Walker pause, along with all hard core Republicans across the state.
Post: Panic Attack
In Racine last month the Children's protective services (or equal name) handled 40 cases of _possible_ child abuse or neglect, and 38 the month before. I'm told the monthly number can drop as low as 20; maybe 30 is typical. So yes, "Houston, we have a problem." Let us not make light of this societal problem. AS the piece shows, however, when you try to avoid "false negatives" - dismissing claims that should be dealt with - you increase the frequency of "false positives" - charging after claims that aren't 'real.' This will happen whenever you address something that falls on a continuum (various degrees of dubious behavior) and force it into one of 2 cases - acceptable and unacceptable. The only way to avoid such an outcome is to carefully, with serious understanding of various possible behaviors, examine each flagged 'event' for indications & evidence of unacceptable behavior. Having the media, or the public yellers & screamers, baying away like hounds on the fox's trail, ain't gonna cut it.
Post: The Many Opinions of Supervisor Eyon Biddle
AS I recall, the freeway extension south of the Hoan Bridge was done largely because the Feds said if we didn't do it, they wanted their Hoan Bridge money back. (a) is this true, and (b) if the Bridge is removed, do we owe the Feds anything? Oh, and bicycling through the streets of Milwaukee's south side is more enjoyable than pushing the bike up over the Bridge, in the (usual) wind, etc. How to fit automobiles into the neighborhood traffic is another question.
Post: The Shepherd Challenges Roundy’s
At about 11 am this morning, 11/02, the Roundy's Store on Rapids Drive in Racine had the usual newspapers on their newspaper rack, plus 2 free distribution items. One was the local PennySaver. The Shepherd Express was not available.
Post: Off and Running
You point out how dramatically different the reporting for the Civil Rights struggle of 1954 - 1965 was, due to the presence of video - TV. Newspapers survived, if somewhat diminished. Perhaps by observing the info input means to your 14 year old, you can get an insight into the dramatic changes in 'news' dissemination happening in the last 2-5 years, and whether/how hard copy newspaper will/may survive this change.
Post: More on the Venture Capital Scam
That Mr. Sullivan has not leaped onto the TEA Party/Republican band wagon tells me that he is smart enough to know that wagon has two flat tires already. Tim Sullivan was the guy who put on the big press conference supporting transit - busses and trains - at a time when most Republican "leaders" were trying to kill any transit with the word "public" in it. He has supported transit for years. He knows full well that business and working people have to think rationally if they want to stay even (much less get ahead), instead of following contorted ideologies. I think we _need_ someone who is not in the middle of the ideology debate, and is interested in solving some of the problems we all face. It's called facing reality, folks. Whether Tim Sullivan can or does fill that requirement is not yet clear. But he could.
Post: Psst, Dems do better on economy - Pass it on
So shout it from the roof tops! I'm serious. We need everything possible to get the point over to the 98% who do not kick in $ for political campaigns, and the 45% who don't vote, but could. It's not just Walker, as you suggest. It' all of those who will spout made up facts, when the real facts don't suit them.
Post: Has Kohl Been a “Model” Senator?
A number of analyses on "choice" programs have shown conclusively that charter schools, in the aggregate, do not improve education by the usual methods of evaluating learning. So maintaining or expanding charter schools on the basis that they are "charter" alone will not help. Dr. Fuller apparently figured that out. So he is working to get _effective_ charter schools by weeding out the ones that are run by people who don't understand how to educate the young. Or those who have ulterior motives. I applaud Dr. Fuller's objectives & goals. May he find more people who agree with him. The goals of Gov. Walker and his friends, if I understand them at all, are reprehensible.
Post: Strange Bedfellows
Wasn't there a further story on NPR's Ron Schiller - the released 'tape' showing him making wild-eyed statements was heavily edited, complete with (I believe) shifted time sequence in some statements. Not to excuse Mr. Schiller's wilder statements, but this appears to be the second time lately that we've seen people get fired for things they said very poorly. Maybe we need a public pillory for those who so willfully distort.