Nice to see Wisconsin obliterate Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl

The final score from Yankee Stadium:

Badgers 35
Miami      3

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier (12) throws an interception as he gets hit by Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (97) in the second quarter as the Miami Hurricanes play against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y. on Thursday, December 27, 2018.

“He’s not suspended,” Richt said. “He is available to play as of right now.”

“We are aware of an inappropriate video posted on a social media account associated with one of our student-athletes,” a UM spokesman said in a statement. “The video has been removed and the posting has been addressed with the student-athlete. We will continue to be committed to high standards of conduct at UM.”

What a joke.

The incident was the second time this season Perry was involved with a questionable online video. Perry was also seen in a video on Instagram flashing a wad of cash while riding in a car this past October.

The appropriate action by any upstanding university would have been to suspend Perry, short of booting him off the team.

Way to rub their faces in it, Wisconsin!


The Franklin Common Council voted 3-3 at its April 17, 2018 meeting to approve financing the design of a roundabout at 51st and Drexel just north of Franklin High School.

Aldermen Steve Taylor, Kristen Wilhelm and Mark Dandrea voted YES. Aldermen Dan Mayer, Mike Barber, and John Nelson voted NO.

Mayor Steve Olson then broke the tie by voting in favor.

The approval meant the city would spend $89,933.78 to have the firm R.A. Smith design a one-lane roundabout at the intersection.

The resolution presented to the council at the meeting noted that 51st and Drexel is a heavily congested intersection in Franklin. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) in its analysis of the intersection determined that a single lane roundabout design is the most appropriate solution for that location.

Prior to the vote some residents spoke in opposition.

One woman said during the citizen comment period the proposed roundabout was  “too close to the high school and fire station.” She asked other residents to attend the meeting to speak out but they told her it wouldn’t do any good.

“They don’t listen to us, they already have their minds made up,” she was told.

Another woman voiced concern that accidents would increase at the intersection because of a roundabout.

Mayor Olson said the issue boiled down to leadership.

“You make your decision based on what’s best for the community in the long term.”

Aware that motorists may not know how to maneuver the roundabout, including senior citizens (Claire Meadows Senior Apartments is right down the street on 51st), Olson noted that he recently traveled to Rome, drove through a roundabout there, and he was “just fine.”

Well then, I guess the entire matter is settled, right?

Olson then continued with an ill-conceived statement that rightfully riled many residents.

“Seniors complain they don’t like roundabouts. Well, how much longer are they going to drive? I’m sorry. It’s a plain fact,” said Olson.

Alderman Steve Taylor argued doing nothing is not an option and that motorists would be able to handle the roundabout.

“I think the residents of Franklin are pretty smart,” said Taylor.

Is that intersection unsafe?

Proponents of the roundabout at 51st and Drexel, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Franklin High School might claim/believe it will make the intersection safer.

They’d be wrong.

Following the tie-breaking vote by Mayor Olson I asked Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva to supply me with data about serious accidents that have occurred at the intersection dating back the past ten years. The chief responded quickly via e-mail.

“We can’t search specifically for the intersection.  We have to search the hundred blocks east-west and north-south of the intersection.”

Chief Oliva continued.

“In the last 10 years there was one personal injury accident in the 5000 block of W. Drexel.  There were 6 property damage only accidents in the hundred blocks E-W and N-S. Since you’re looking for serious accidents, it would only be the one.”

Thank you, Chief Oliva.

Seems if you’re approaching this matter from a public safety perspective it’d be best to just leave well enough alone.

Last August the Wisconsin State Journal reported the following that like Oliva’s information blows holes in the contentions of the pro-roundabout crowd:

A study of 30 roundabouts in the state completed by (Andrea) Bill, (a traffic safety engineer at the Wisconsin Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory at UW-Madison) in 2013 that looked at crashes three years before and four years after they opened showed that 23 had more crashes after they opened.

Overall, there were 572 crashes four years after the 30 roundabouts opened versus 311 during the three years before the intersections were converted. Of those, 464 crashes resulting in property damage occurred after the roundabouts opened versus 194 before they opened. Both periods saw similar numbers of accidents with injuries.

Bill was also quoted that she thinks, she thinks there will be fewer crashes. And that could be. But it hasn’t happened. Au contraire, just the opposite has taken place with roundabouts.

The roundabout at 51st and Drexel is unnecessary ($89,000 just for the design services) and may very well cause MORE crashes given the data we have at our disposal.

This argument for roundabouts is lame

My blog about the roundabout back in April caused a virtual explosion on social media. Lots of folks who are giddy about the roundabout are sticking it to the opposition.

Learn to live with it.


Get used to it.

Learn how to drive in it.

Excuse me is right.

Learn to live with it?


Get used to it?

Learn how to drive in it?

Seems the anti-roundabout folks can say the same to the bunch that despises the four-way stop that’s been around for, well, forever.

Learn to live with it.


Get used to it.

Learn how to drive in it.

Finally, let’s not forget the larger issue at hand

The city of Franklin did very little to inform the general public about this item beyond the required meeting notices.

Whenever BallPark Commons needed to kiss rings for even the slightest approval everybody in town seemed to know about it.

Not so with the roundabout.

Franklin Mayor Steve Olson and Common Council members Steve Taylor and Kristen Wilhelm all voted for the roundabout. They are all actively involved  in social media. Yet none of them to my knowledge (and I could be wrong because I don’t monitor everything they post) published anything prior to the meetings.

You, Private Citizen, are supposed to check the city website, check the meeting agendas, come to meetings, ask questions and make public comments (good luck getting an answer or response other than “thank you”). The powers that be know that 99.99% of residents don’t do any of that, and submit it’s their fault for not being informed.

So the roundabout matter was settled quickly, a lot of money was spent unnecessarily,  and there are some hoping this will die down and go away, banking on Franklin’s citywide political apathy.

Opposed to the roundabout? Not happy with how it all came down? Once again in 2018 you were served a big heaping helping of how things are done in Franklin. On April 17 the Common Council did what it does best. It voted to spend a lot of money that I submit could very well be unnecessary and result in less, not more safety.

The design services have been approved so this issue is just a formality. Next will be the actual construction that is planned to begin after the last day of school for the 2018-19 school year (June 7, 2019) with the project set for completion prior to the start of school that fall (mid-August 2019).


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6) Like it or not Franklin, you’re getting another roundabout
7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin



Our #7 selection was also Franklin’s most under-reported story, getting almost zero coverage in 2018.

On October 24, 2018, the Franklin School Board voted 6-1 to approve implementing a four-year-old kindergarten program. Board member Larry Gamble was the lone “no” vote.

A source close to Franklin Public Schools told me he was very surprised this issue that had been researched for several months didn’t get more attention and public scrutiny.

“Putting a 4K program in place makes sense, not only for the district but for the Franklin community as a whole,” said Board of Education President, Janet Evans. “I think we take for granted that all Franklin students have access to 4K through the excellent private preschool choices in the community. The reality is that not all students do, due to finances, transportation, or other family reasons. The decision we made gives all 4K families access to an equal learning opportunity.”

“Research has shown that students who attend preschool compared to students who do not participate, generally have a greater degree of success in school and in life,” said the Director of Teaching & Learning at Franklin Public Schools, Chris Reuter.

Following the vote,  Board Vice President Tim Nielson delivered quite the overstatement, calling it “a historic day” for Franklin.

There are pros and cons when it comes to the concept of K4.

Preschool programs are intended to offer families of all financial backgrounds with more supportive educational options for children of a younger age. There is, however, a benefit seen for lower-income families who aren’t able to secure adequate child care, resulting in children left at home with televisions instead of teachers.

According to “Head Start,” children enrolled in early education programs receive a variety of benefits, such as: “school readiness by focusing on the child’s development in: language and literacy, early math, social skills, self-help, nature and science;  daily meals; close review of health history; active ‘hands on’ involvement in learning.”

Darcy Ann Olsen has a different perspective. She was director of education and child policy at the Cato Institute where she explored education reform policies and private initiatives to strengthen the K-12 educational system.  Prior to joining Cato Olsen served as a transitional house manager for the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless.

Olsen has written:

Most advocates of public preschool argue that early schooling of low-income children is an investment that pays off in the long term by reducing the number of children who will perform poorly in school, become teenage parents, commit criminal acts, or depend on welfare. Other advocates of public preschool see it as a way to subsidize child care.

Experience provides little reason to believe universal preschool would significantly benefit children, regardless of family income. For nearly 40 years, local, state, and federal governments and diverse private sources have funded early intervention programs for low-income children, and benefits to the children have been few and fleeting. There is also evidence that middle-class children gain little, if anything, from preschool. Benefits to children in public preschools are unlikely to be greater or more enduring.

Public preschool for younger children is irresponsible, given the failure of the public school system to educate the children currently enrolled. The desire to ‘do something’ for young children should be tempered by the facts, and proposals for universal preschool should be rejected.

It must be emphasized that Franklin is not a failing school system. However the question raised about K4 across America can also appropriately be asked here: Should taxpayers be paying for services they may not be using?

There is also the inescapable assertion that K4 essentially amounts to subsidized glorified daycare.

Franklin plans to run the 4K program next fall in each of the five district elementary schools and will be offered as both a.m. and p.m. half-day sessions. Registration has already begun.

During a presentation to the board at its October 24th meeting it was mentioned that K4 would result in a slight tax increase initially, but then taxes would decrease. Sorry, but I’m unaware of any government program, especially one of this size, that will reduce taxes.

In the end there was a larger issue at play here again. The School Board that rarely displays any independent thinking one more time rubber stamped an administration directive. Maybe in 2019 the taxpayer-elected board will finally understand the administration works for them, not vice versa.

At the October 24, 2018 board meeting after the 6-1 vote was taken on K4 the small crowd in attendance made up mostly of Franklin school officials clapped enthusiastically in support.

Ultimately K4 could work and be quite popular in Franklin. As policy analyst Olsen noted, though, K4 is not a golden ticket. There’s plenty of ammunition for a two-sided debate that can be heated when it comes to this topic. But in apathetic Franklin that wasn’t the case during 2018.


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7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin

The District plans to run the 4K program in each of the five district elementary schools and will be offered as both a.m. and p.m. half-day sessions.

“We are very excited to offer Four-year-old kindergarten in the fall,” said Dr. Judy Mueller, Superintendent of Franklin Public Schools. “As a district, much of our focus is on the important work of equity, personal growth, stewardship, and wellbeing. With 4K in place next fall, we will make great progress in these areas.”

Registration will begin in early December. Residents can follow the district Facebook page, @franklinpublicschools, or check-in regularly at for information regarding how to register.

Today’s highly interesting read (12/24/18): Heartwarming Christmas Stories Happening in 2018

Image result for image, photo, picture, heartwarming christmas

From Katie Yoder:

In today’s political atmosphere, media rarely report good news. But Christmastime can be an exception. This year’s Christmas stories reveal an 8-year-old writing hundreds of cards to nursing home residents, a young boy welcoming his military dad home, singer Michael Bublé surprising kids with Down syndrome – and much more.

Please take time to read these wonderful stories.

Merry Christmas!


The “Dark Stores” loophole.

The terminology just sounds so ominous. What’s it mean? It’s complicated.

Large retailers contend their property tax assessments should include the values of similar vacant or “dark” stores. However local government advocates say that reasoning doesn’t make sense.

“That would be like me assessing your house as if it were foreclosed, abandoned and boarded up. These are active, growing, thriving businesses on busy street corners in downtown Wisconsin,” said Jerry Deschane, executive director with the Wisconsin League of Municipalities. “They’re being valued at what they’re actually worth, not what theoretically they would be worth if they were vacant.”

Essentially big retailers have sued local municipalities, arguing their property assessments were too high. The courts have regularly ruled in favor of the retailers. Thus, municipalities that lost in court have to repay the businesses what they over-charged. Local leaders have resorted to the following talking points.

Big corporations.

They are bad.

They are evil.

They do not pay their fair share.

Because big, bad corporations are evil and don’t pay their fair share, who suffers? That’s right. You, the little guy.

You have to pay higher taxes because big, bad, evil corporations don’t pay enough.

We’ve tried to fix this but the big, bad state of Wisconsin won’t listen to us.

It’s such an easy case to make. But it’s not automatically correct.

Lots of local officials around the state, including Franklin mayor Steve Olson and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett spent a great deal of time lobbying against the so-called “loophole.” So they were mighty upset that legislative leaders in Madison early in 2018 said legislation to address the so-called “dark store” tax loophole was dead for the current legislative session.

Olson presides over a city in Franklin that has a horrendous business climate. Yet he continues to fight openly, publicly against businesses located in his city.

The mayor pleads innocence, that he’s not bashing businesses like Menards. That’s laughable, especially when he publicly states places like Menards “own” the legislative leadership in Madison that refuse to schedule the bills he supports because of their financial contributions to said legislative leaders.

I’m stunned Olson would make such inflammatory and irresponsible remarks.

Olson fired back on social media.

I’ve been trying to raise public awareness of the efforts by big box stores to reduce their property assessments and property tax bills due to a loophole in state law. My post with the picture of the refund check to Lowes reached more than 40,000 readers.
Steve Olson’s Facebook page, 2/23/18

While the State Legislature is pushing through bills with little meaning for taxpayers municipalities are writing checks to big box stores who have sued us using a bad court interpretation of the STATE tax manual allowing them to reduce their property assessments by a lot. I was sick to my stomach this afternoon signing the first of two checks to Lowes after they sued Franklin. This one for $25k and the next for about $35k. YOUR money. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and John Menard own the legislature leadership. You get to pay the bill.
Mayor Steve Olson’s Facebook page, 2/16/18

I was sick to my stomach this afternoon signing the first of two checks to Lowes after they sued Franklin.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) offered some common sense when he spoke to the Racine Journal Times.

Vos said he’s skeptical of the legislation.

“I don’t believe we should be raising taxes on anybody,” Vos said. “Whether they own a business, a dark store, a shopping mall, a home … unfortunately, I think what they’re hoping to do is try to have business pay higher taxes and I’m just concerned about that.”

Vos, however, said that there are some abuses that need to be fixed.

“I certainly believe we need to have assessors do a better job … but I’m not sure that this bill is the right answer for that problem,” Vos said.

As far as the loophole shifting the tax burden to property owners, Vos said that is not true.

“Businesses today pay a higher percentage of the overall property tax burden than they did 10 years ago,” Vos said. “If that’s true, we would have seen the opposite and we’re not. I think that’s an example of rhetoric getting ahead of the reality.”

Vos said he would like to see the issue evaluated in greater depth to find a more appropriate solution.

“I would prefer to take the summer to do a study to try to determine the best way to solve this problem,” Vos said. “It’s going to take time and study to find the proper answer, and I think this is people looking for a political solution to say they did something rather than looking for the right answer.”

The bills were dead as of February.  Franklin didn’t toss in the towel. They spent more money.

Mayor Steve Olson had proposed a referendum:

“A Resolution  Scheduling  an  Election  for  an  Advisory  Referendum  that  Recommends the  State  Legislature  Protect  Local  Businesses,  Apartment  Owners,  and  Homeowners from  Property  Tax  Burden  Shifts  by  Passing  Legislation  to  Close  Property  Tax Loopholes Related to the “Dark Store” and Walgreens v. City of Madison Commercial Property Valuation and Taxation Interpretations.”

You will  note the incredibly biased spin of that wording.

To their credit the Franklin Common Council voted 4-1 in August against placing the referendum on the ballot. Alderman Dan Mayer was the lone affirmative vote.


No one in Wisconsin has been following this issue more than Scott Manley of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. I worked with him for many years when we both were employed by the Wisconsin State Senate. Manley is extremely sharp, and quite frankly, I trust him more than anyone else on this matter.

On  a whim I called my old colleague Manley back in March and asked him if he was pursuing any update on this story.

At that time Manley told me he just finished writing an op-ed piece he was going to pitch to local newspapers. Manley forwarded me his op-ed piece:

Dark Store Issue is Really About Higher Taxes

Everybody loves an underdog, and that’s especially true when a storyline pits the “little guy” versus a large corporation.

This is the narrative local governments have spun in the so-called “dark stores” debate.  They’ve positioned the issue as greedy corporations attempting to shift their tax burden to homeowners.  This makes for an interesting story, but it’s simply not true.

In reality, there are two indisputable facts that have been left out of the debate on this issue.  First, the property tax burden has actually shifted from homeowners to businesses over the last decade – the exact opposite of what your local politicians have likely told you.

Second, the dark store legislation is an effort to legalize tax hikes on businesses that assessors have been attempting to impose, illegally, for more than a decade.

This debate isn’t about “closing a loophole” or forcing someone to “pay their fair share.”  It’s about local governments wanting to tax to the max and villainize the businesses that provide jobs in their communities.

Let’s look at the data from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. From 2008 to 2017, the share of residential property taxes statewide has actually decreased 2.4 percent. On the contrary, the share of property taxes paid by businesses has increased by more than 10 percent over the same time period.

In other words, if property tax collections were a pie, the slice from homeowners has gotten smaller, while the slice from businesses has increased.  Any politician who tells you businesses are shifting their burden to homeowners is simply wrong.

Why are businesses paying more?  It’s due in part because some assessors have unlawfully raised the property assessment of businesses by inappropriately adding the value of certain lease payments to the value of the land and building.  The Supreme Court declared this practice illegal in 2008, but that hasn’t stopped assessors from continuing their efforts to impose this illegal tax hike on businesses.

Some politicians have criticized businesses for challenging these unlawful assessments — as if it’s their patriotic duty to be overtaxed.

Keep in mind that cities, towns and villages have a self-interest in assessing property higher because it means they can collect more taxes.  That’s why it’s so important that our laws allow property owners to challenge their assessment with an unbiased third-party review to ensure fairness and adherence to the law.

When these disputes go to court, businesses consistently win because the higher assessment was not lawfully imposed.  The courts then force the local government to give back the amount of the tax that never should have been collected in the first place.

It’s frustrating that local officials complain about having to give back money they illegally took from property owners.  After being forced to return the money they had no authority to take in the first place, local governments then have the gall to complain that businesses aren’t paying their fair share.

Here’s some advice to local officials: if you don’t like paying back money that you took illegally, and if you don’t like paying legal fees when taxpayers take you to court to get their money back, just follow the law.

Instead of following the law, local officials are looking to change it.

They’re vigorously lobbying for a new law that will allow them to raise taxes in a manner the courts have consistently told them they cannot do.  They’re asking the legislature to give them taxing authority that no other state in the country has allowed.

This municipal “tax to the max” scheme is so bad, even big-taxing Governor Jim Doyle had the good sense to veto the idea in 2009.

There are many other concerns with these bills, including unconstitutionality, which I cannot mention in the limited space afforded by this column.  I will, however, give an example.

Through no fault of their own, and with no changes to their land or building, Badger Meter’s facility in Mount Pleasant would see a $68,000 per year increase in their property taxes if the dark store bills became law.

Raising taxes on homegrown companies like Badger Meter, who are actively bringing workers back to our state, is not the way to make Wisconsin prosperous.  It also happens to be incredibly unfair.

WMC negotiated a compromise prohibiting a vacant property that is dilapidated or distressed from being used as a comparable for assessment purposes.  Lobbyists for local governments could have taken that compromise and declared a legislative victory.  They rejected that compromise because that’s not what this issue is really about.

Instead, they’re holding out for the oppressive tax-hiking authority that no other state is willing to authorize.  Governor Doyle rejected this idea before, and the legislature should reject it again.
—-Scott Manley, WMC

A new legislative session begins in Madison in January. “Dark Store” legislation will be proposed again, and our mayor will be in search of TV cameras. The same Republican leaders who killed the legislation this year are back in their same leadership roles.


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8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin

My Most Popular Blogs (12/24/18)

Here are my most popular blogs from last week, Sunday – Saturday:

1) Best Cartoons of the Week (12/22/18)

2) The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (12/22/18)

3) Goodnight everyone, and have a marvelous weekend in anticipation of Christmas!

4) Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “Probably the greatest Christmas album ever produced”


6) Let’s see if they work

7) The Franklin Public Library is open today

8) My better half, Jennifer, also blogs

9) A message to Franklin’s mayor, Common Council and School Board

10) My trip to the dentist was an education about our society




Local government meetings conducted during the dog days of summer generally aren’t very interesting. That was not the case at a Franklin Common Council meeting in August of 2014 as the mayor and aldermen got an earful. It came during the usually quiet and often predictable opening citizen’s comment period.

A member of Franklin’s Economic Development Commission, Craig Haskins said he was able to secure a report from Milwaukee County’s Economic Development Director Teig Whaley-Smith about retail leakage in Franklin. I considered the findings stunning and the quintessential wake-up call.

“Fifty percent of every dollar spent on food and beverage in Franklin is spent outside of Franklin,” said Haskins. “Ninety-two percent of every clothing purchase is spent outside of Franklin. This is by Franklin residents.

“Any home furnishings, between 43% and 53% (are spent outside of Franklin). These are some dollars Franklin is missing,” said Haskins.

Information Haskins said he received from both the Buxton Company that deals with business analytics and Milwaukee County indicates “Franklin residents spend about $500-million a tear on retail, food, and trade. Only about half of that is spent within the city of Franklin.”

Former Franklin Mayor Fred Klimetz advised the aldermen to be open-minded.

“I’m going to encourage everyone on the Council not to have tunnel vision and not to say we’re going to focus solely on retail and we’re not going to consider other options,” said Klimetz, who added that included an approach that only looked at a business park.

Another former mayor, Tom Taylor concurred with Klimetz.

“Don’t close the door,” said Taylor. “Look at everything. Yes, a business park is needed, perhaps three of them. But you also have to bring in retail. You have to do everything to try to hold down the price of taxes.”

Steve Olson, Franklin’s current mayor is an advocate for a business park. Then Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor who lost to Olson in 2014’s mayoral election had a cautionary note for his past colleagues on the Council.

“What I’m not hearing is we want another business park. Don’t let him (Olson) push you down a path you do not want to go.”

During his commentary, Tom Taylor reiterated his support for a minor league stadium pushed by The Rock earlier that year. The Franklin Common Council had quickly rejected The Rock proposal after emerging from a closed session in April 2014. Mike Zimmerman of The Rock said ever since then he had been waiting for an alternative from city leaders.

“One-hundred twenty days have gone by and I hear no strategy. No movement,” said Zimmerman. “At what point is this group going to say ‘this is our strategy, this is what we’re going to be doing in terms of retail’.”

That was more than four years ago and nothing’s changed in our city. Some developers have been very frank publicly about how difficult it is and has been to work and do business with Franklin officials.

And then last week a real stunner was reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. My automatic reaction was laughter.

Franklin trying to shed image and become more attractive to developers

But as I read on I realized the importance. At the same time I’m not sold at all. These are words. Action followed by results…if and when that happens I’ll be convinced.

Consider from the article:

Changes were implemented in the city’s inspection department — one as simple as a name change from “Building Inspection” to “Inspection Services” to highlight how the city wants to be helpful and to serve, not be an obstacle.

That’s just marketing wishful thinking. A shift in nomenclature is meaningless.

Still, it’s nice to see Franklin officials led by Mayor Steve Olson finally emerge from their cave of denial.

Unfortunately they’re 10-15 years too late.


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9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin