NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer is all about appearances.

First, there was the updated dress code, which one person said sounded like it came from the 1950s: no revealing or tight clothes, no cleavage, no dresses or skirts above the knee, no bare backs, no halter tops, no open-toe shoes.

And now there’s this: a new “office appearance policy.”

Last month, Spencer’s human resources director, Sharon Crowe, sent a note to lawyers, paralegals and support staff in the City Attorney’s Office saying she would be doing a walk-through the next week to determine whether their offices and cubicles are “in line with the values of efficiency and professionalism.”

“Employees in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures” under the new policy, Crowe wrote at 12:04 p.m. on March 9. The email does not spell out the consequences for having a messy desk.

But a copy of the policy obtained by the Journal Sentinel via an open records request shows that Spencer’s team is not messing around.

The one-page policy lays out how his staff may decorate their offices and workstations. It adds that employees are to keep their designated work areas as neat as possible during the day and must “organize their areas to secure work materials and to present an orderly and professional image” at the end of the day.

The possible punishment for not doing so?

“Employees in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures, up to and including discharge from employment, for repeated or egregious violations,” it states.

The staff did not respond well to the Crowe’s announcement about enforcement of the new policy. The city agency provides representation and legal advice to City of Milwaukee employees, Common Council members and police officers.

“They lost their (expletive),” said one employee.

You’d think Spencer would be focused on other things, such as the 50-plus staffers who have retired, resigned or were fired from his agency since he was elected in April 2000. Or the discrimination complaints filed against him and his office. Or the claims of a toxic work environment. Or allegations of unethical behavior by Spencer himself.

—Dan Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany this week signaled he’s considering a 2024 Senate run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, buying two website domain names in preparation for a potential bid.

Tiffany told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday that his team bought the domains “” and “” as he weighs a run against Baldwin, who announced her run for re-election last week. No Republican has declared a formal challenge to Baldwin for the swing-state seat that could help determine which party controls the Senate.

Tiffany, a Republican in his second term representing the 7th Congressional District, said his decision to run or not will hinge largely on what he feels is “best for the state of Wisconsin.”

“You’ve got a career politician in Tammy Baldwin,” Tiffany said. “Why do we have the highest inflation since the 1970s? Cost of living has gone through the roof for people in Wisconsin. Why do you have the high energy costs that are going up once again?”

“It’s because of career politicians like Tammy Baldwin,” Tiffany added, also mentioning crime and deaths from fentanyl as issues. “There needs to be changes made.”

The move makes Tiffany the latest Republican to publicly signal he’s considering a run for Senate as Democrats and Republicans alike ponder who might challenge Baldwin. Madison businessman Eric Hovde has said he’s strongly considering a bid, and Republicans in Wisconsin are quietly hoping U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher mounts a run. Gallagher hasn’t ruled it out.

Tiffany, 65, on Monday said what other potential challengers decide to do won’t influence his decision. But when asked if he spoke with Gallagher about a Senate run, he told the Journal Sentinel: “I think Mike Gallagher should run,” later noting Gallagher’s more than $3 million in cash on hand and new chairmanship of a select committee on China.

“He’d be a good candidate,” Tiffany said. “And that’s ultimately what we’re looking for.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

State and local governments in Wisconsin would not be allowed to ban gas-powered vehicles, snow blowers, lawnmowers and other machines under a pair of bills up for a vote Tuesday in the state Assembly.

The bills’ Republican sponsors hope to outlaw measures similar to a law passed in California last year requiring that all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state run on electricity or hydrogen by 2035. That decision left 17 states with vehicle emissions standards tied to California laws facing tough decisions on whether they would adopt the same ban on gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Wisconsin was not among those states. But in a message to lawmakers seeking cosponsors, the Republican authors of the Wisconsin bills stoked fears of “runaway state bureaucrats and excessive local governments” taking matters into their own hands to ban gas engines.

Gas stations and fossil fuel industry groups such as Kwik Trip and the American Petroleum Institute have thrown their support behind the measures. Meanwhile, environmental advocates and the American Lung Association oppose them.

—Wisconsin AP

Flash mobs (in Chicago) ran rampant, looting, creating mischief, and eventually exchanging gunfire. The incoming mayor, Brandon Johnson, condemned the violence (over the weekend) but urged people not to blame this gang of hoodlums that caused it.

“Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome both residents and visitors. This is one aspect of my comprehensive approach to improve public safety and make Chicago livable for everyone,” wrote Johnson in a statement.

It gets even more ridiculous when outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed the weather for the weekend of chaos, while also arguing that what had transpired wasn’t a frenetic outburst of criminality. Via WGN-TV:

When a reporter asked Chicago’s mayor to respond to a weekend that saw hundreds of teens descend on Chicago’s Loop with some jumping on cars, committing acts of vandalism and two people shot, Lori Lightfoot took issue with the reporter’s language: “I’m not going to use your language, which I think is wrong, to say it was ‘mayhem.’”

Lightfoot sought to distinguish between those committing crimes and others who sought a fun night downtown on the first warm weekend of the year.

“The vast majority of the young people who came downtown came downtown because it was great weather and an opportunity to enjoy the city. That’s absolutely and entirely it,” Lightfoot said.

A total of 15 people, nine adults and six children, were arrested late Saturday night as hundreds, or possibly even more than a thousand people, gathered near Millennium Park, with some engaging in “reckless and disruptive behavior,” Chicago police said. In one instance, two teenagers were shot in the area of State and Madison streets in the middle of a large crowd.

So, the teenage pandemonium was caused by…climate change?

—Matt Vespa, Townhall

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s second-degree murder conviction in the killing of George Floyd, and let his 22 1/2-year sentence remain in place.

Chauvin’s attorney had asked the appeals court to throw out the ex-officer’s convictions for a long list of reasons, including the massive pretrial publicity. He also argued that legal and procedural errors deprived Chauvin of a fair trial. But the three-judge panel sided with prosecutors who said Chauvin got a fair trial and just sentence.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, used his knee to pin the Black man’s neck to the ground for 9 1/2 minutes. A bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death touched off protests around the world, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.


Ten years ago, the Los Angeles Police Department celebrated a historic hiring milestone, announcing the city had reached a target sought by at least two mayors and multiple police chiefs: 10,000 officers.

Now, within a three-year span, those gains have been erased. The LAPD is hemorrhaging officers, with more leaving the force than are joining it. Police Chief Michel Moore reported last week that sworn staffing had fallen to 9,103, down nearly 1,000 from 2019, the year that preceded the outbreak of COVID-19.

Mayor Karen Bass is looking to confront the issue head on by ramping up hiring and lifting barriers to recruitment. Her proposed budget, which will be released Tuesday, will call for the city to restore the department to 9,500 officers — an extremely tall order, given the ongoing staff exodus.

“I know that that is ambitious, but I think it needs to happen.” she said.

Bass will release her proposed budget, her first since taking office in December, amid a growing number of departures from the LAPD, not just by those nearing retirement age but also some of the department’s much newer officers.

—Yahoo News

San Jose’s Calvary church in Santa Clara County, California, has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in fines due to violating health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

A Superior Court of California ruled that the church engaged in “egregious conduct.”

Judge Evette Pennypacker rejected the church’s argument that the public health orders prevented it from exercising religious freedom and were in violation of the Constitution.

According to local media, the church had services during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, largely unmasked, which violated health orders.

It was reported that between May 31, 2020, and May 2021, Calvary Chapel San Jose held services with 300-500 people in attendance, prayer gatherings and about 1,000 baptism ceremonies.

—Just the News

“A lot of people don’t understand, even down to road fatalities, it is not equal,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Saturday, repeating his claim that racism has made America’s roads deadly to minorities.

“We have a crisis when it comes to roadway fatalities in America. We lose about 40,000 people every year. It’s a level that is comparable to gun violence,” Buttigieg told MSNBC Host Al Sharpton on Saturday, blaming “discrimination” for “disparities” in the number of minority drivers and pedestrians killed on the nation’s roads:

“And we see a lot of racial disparities. Black and Brown Americans, tribal citizens and rural residents are much more likely to lose their lives, whether it’s in a car or as a pedestrian being hit by a car.

“There are a lot of reasons related to discrimination and related to even the ways that roads are designed and built, who has access to a safe street design that has crosswalks and good lighting, who doesn’t have that access that can drive disparities, and we have a responsibility to act on that.”

—CNS News

Whether hoping to save time, money, or the environment, many Americans make the mistake of washing and refilling single-use plastic water bottles. Experts say this can pose a danger to your health—not to mention to the environment. But just how different is reusing a grocery store-bought bottle from the truly reusable kind? We reached out to a range of experts to find out whether reusing your bottles could be harming your health—and their answers may surprise you. Read on to learn the four reasons that single-use water bottles are just that, and to find out why stainless steel and glass bottles are considered by far the best.

Reused water bottles can harbor harmful bacteria.

According to Brian Campbel, founder and chief water treatment expert at, the best argument against reusing a plastic water bottle is that they tend to harbor harmful bacteria. He notes that when people clean water bottles to reuse them, “they may not be cleaning them properly, which can lead to bacterial growth. Additionally, the plastic may develop small cracks or scratches over time, which can create areas for bacteria to grow and accumulate. This can lead to potential health risks, including gastrointestinal illness and other infections,” says Campbel.

If you happen to leave your water bottle in a warm or hot environment between uses—in a sunny car or your gym bag, for example—you should assume that bacteria has multiplied even more efficiently. Truly reusable water bottles are designed to stand up to frequent washing, so they won’t incur the scratches and dings that help bacteria hide.

They can leach chemicals into your beverage.

Water bottles can be made from a range of plastic types, some of which are safer than others, Campbel says. To find out which material your bottle is made of, you can look at the recycling code on the label, which will include a number from one to seven on it. These days, most single-use water bottles will be marked with a one, meaning they’re made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). Though these are free of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, they can sometimes contain antimony, a semi-metal material which is considered a possible carcinogen.

They also contain microplastics.

Heather Wilde, NMD, a naturopathic doctor based in Tempe, Arizona, warns that single-use water bottles can also leach microplastics into your drink if you reuse them. In fact, a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Chemistry looked at samples taken from 259 bottled waters and found that 93 percent of those samples showed signs of “microplastic contamination.”

Though scientists are still working to understand the effects of ingesting microplastics, one study published in the medical journal Endocrine Reviews found that consuming microplastics can disrupt the endocrine system, the network of hormone-releasing glands and organs that regulate metabolism, growth and development reproduction, and more. Another study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science concluded that consuming microplastics could cause oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and immune system disruption.

Wilde believes that many people consume microplastics at dangerous levels, and suggests that quitting single-use water bottles could help curb the problem.

“It is estimated you eat about a credit card’s-worth of plastic a week, and these invisible particles are one of the main culprits,” she tells Best Life, referencing a 2019 report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

They’re an environmental hazard.

Finally, there’s one more important reason to never refill single-use water bottles—from an environmental perspective, it’s best to skip buying them in the first place. “The entire life cycle of bottled water uses fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, and causes pollution,” writes Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability. They add that every year, 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand for bottled water, and 86 percent of single-use water bottles wind up in landfills or as litter.

—Best Life

A microbial makeover.

The saying “try before you buy” may not apply before trying out the in-store makeup samples from Sephora, according to one TikToker’s finding.

TikTok user @howdirtyis conducted an experiment by swabbing the sample lipsticks, blushes, eyeshadows, multi-sticks, and mascara publicly available from the multinational makeup retailer to determine if any bacteria were present on their sample merchandise.

After swabbing the samples and incubating them for several days, the TikToker was shocked to discover the blushes, eyeshadows, and multi-stick samples were the only products to produce microbes.

In an ever stranger surprise, the lipstick, concealer, and mascara samples were clean.

Microbes, also known as microorganisms, are small bacterial agents that live in the water, soil, and air, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Frequently touched objects can contain harmful bacteria that could lead to viruses that could cause respiratory illness, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and staph infections.

“You can get infectious diseases from using testers in makeup stores,” NYC Dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman told TODAY Style. “I don’t ever recommend it.”

—NY Post

It’s the end of an era on Broadway as the long-running musical “The Phantom of the Opera” delivers its final performance.

Sunday marked the show’s 13,981 performance, cementing its record as the longest running show in Broadway history.

Since its debut in 1988, the show has been seen by 20 million people, earning $1.36 billion at the box office.

Based on the Gaston Leroux horror novel of the same name, the musical tells the tale of the titular disfigured genius who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young soprano named Christine.

After its original West End production in 1986, the show debuted on Broadway in 1988 and was a smash hit, earning seven Tony Awards in 1988, including best musical.

Since it’s debut, the show’s soundtrack has gone four times platinum in the United States and has played in 45 countries and 17 languages.

The show’s producer, Cameron Mackintosh, also teased that the show isn’t leaving Broadway forever.

In an interview with Variety ahead of the final performance, Mackintosh said, “Of course it will return. All the great musicals do.”

—FOX News


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appeared on John Catsimatidis’ “Cats Roundtable,” with his remarks on the 2024 presidential election in particular gaining attention as he reminded that “incumbent presidents have enormous power.” Such comments were specifically in regards to Biden facing a primary challenger from within the Democratic Party. “It’s very tough to take out an incumbent president inside his own party,” he told Catsimatidis, using the examples of how then incumbent presidents Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan in 1976 and Jimmy Carter beat Ted Kennedy in 1980, though both went on to lose reelection.

Gingrich also isn’t even sure that Biden will be the nominee for next year. “You don’t know this far out if Biden will feel healthy enough, or what’s going on,” he told Catsimatidis. “My working assumption is that whoever runs, whether it’s Biden or somebody else, they’re going to have to carry the burden of four years of bad government, bad economy, open borders, weakness around the world, rising crime rates, all the different things you and I know are going on, and that’s all going to be causing them enormous problems.”

When Biden will announce his reelection plans has become something of a moving target. It was once thought to be shortly after he gave his State of the Union address, but that was over two months ago, on February 7. The president himself gave a bumbling non-answer last week, and now sources say that the announcement is not expected before the summer.

Gingrich and Catsimatidis had discussed those problems earlier in the segment, including and especially how they apply to 2024. Gingrich framed it as a debate “between those who think it’s okay for America to get weaker and weaker and weaker and those who believe we have to get back to being the leading country and being capable of what is in our education system, our manufacturing system, our defense system.” He added how “today we weak leadership which has the wrong ideas, which seems to be relatively happy to see America decay and decline while our enemies get stronger.”

The former speaker also believes that Biden is to blame for those problems, which also extend to the world stage and how other countries view the United States. As Catsimatidis lamented foreign policy issues and how “it’s just getting out of control,” Gingrich offered that “when you have a very weak president who doesn’t understand that we have real enemies and doesn’t understand the requirements of real strength, and the world begins to realize that the United States is very unreliable.”

Gingrich listed the “chaos” of the withdrawal in Afghanistan and the “confusion about Ukraine as such examples. “People watch all this and they think ‘you know, the great America that was competent and powerful and capable doesn’t exist and I better make a new deal because I can no longer rely on the Americans,’ and that’s what’s going on,” he added.

—Rebecca Downs, Townhall

President Joe Biden spends too much time on vacation and not “working” for the American people. For example, he just returned from a four-day vacation in Ireland but has ignored the victims of the poisonous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. In fact, Biden has been on vacation for an astounding 326 days, or 40% of his presidency.

Since the Ireland trip was another debacle, House Republicans should immediately demand that Biden submits to a mental competency test. As usual, Biden made numerous gaffes and embarrassing statements in Ireland.

His mental incompetence is known both in the United States and worldwide. At this point, his inability to think clearly and articulate is putting our country at significant risk.

Domestically, Joe Biden’s policies have created multiple disasters. His fiscally irresponsible legislation has resulted in record levels of federal debt, high inflation, soaring interest rates, and a banking crisis.

Our country is also suffering from a crime explosion, a drug overdose epidemic, and an open southern border has allowed millions of illegal aliens to enter the country, including an unknown number of terrorists, Chinese agents, and Mexican drug cartel members. We have no idea what type of threat Biden has permitted to enter America.

In the view of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), our country’s confluence of emergencies is occurring while our President is “highly compromised” due to his questionable involvement with China. Sadly, this corruption extends beyond China as the Biden family has been found to have approximately 150 “suspicious bank activity reports” involving foreign transactions.

According to Senator Johnson, the President’s son, Hunter Biden, has been “peddling the family name, trying to sell influence” in “a dozen different countries.” It is widely believed that despite his assurances to the contrary, this “grifting” has been occurring with the full knowledge of Joe Biden.

Fortunately, an investigation has been launched by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY). He has concluded that “the business plan for all practical purposes is the Biden family takes money from our adversaries around the world for doing things that we haven’t yet determined.” However, Comer has also discovered that those activities do not include any type of “business.”

It seems clear that these activities include influence peddling and trading on the Biden name to gather millions of dollars in “consulting” fees for activities that place our country at risk. Comer states that “various banks” believe Hunter Biden has been “laundering money” and acting as an “unregistered foreign agent.” To make matters worse, Comer has concluded that the “bank records” show “direct deposits” coming from “our adversaries around the world.”

As Comer notes, all these revelations will be “very hard to explain for Joe Biden.” This explanation should be received during formal impeachment hearings. It is time for House Republicans to use their majority and begin the process.

Remember, Democrats impeached President Donald Trump twice for nothing of substance. The first impeachment was due to a “perfect” phone call, while the second one was after he gave a speech advocating “peaceful” protests on January 6, 2021.

What President Biden and his family have done is more egregious than anything Democrats fabricated to impeach Trump. Not only is Biden mentally compromised, but his family is also financially compromised in their dealings with communist China and other nations.

Republicans must treat Democrats the same way they have been treated. Unfortunately, Republicans always try to act in a more polite manner with Democrats. However, with our country’s survival on the line, the time for such niceties is over.

Once impeachment hearings commence, President Biden can be investigated for his ties to a plethora of questionable activities. For example, a Chinese spy balloon was allowed to travel across the country, and linger over sensitive military installations, gathering intelligence. Why did the President wait so long to destroy this balloon?

In January, it was reported that classified documents were found in Biden’s office, his home, and his garage, next to his Corvette. While the Attorney General appointed a special counsel to review these breaches of national security, it should also be investigated as a potentially impeachable offense as individuals and organizations associated with the Chinese Communist Party donated $54 million to the Penn Biden Center from 2014-2019. This is the “office” where Biden’s classified documents were kept in “an unlocked closet.”

Other potentially impeachable offenses include allowing an open southern border, permitting Afghan nationals to enter our country without proper vetting, and the disastrous withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of thirteen military service personnel.

Also, Biden depleted the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for purely political reasons. He used extortion to force the Ukrainians to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, the energy company connected to Hunter Biden.

For years, Biden has stressed that he had no ties to his son’s business deals. However, new evidence had revealed Hunter’s business associates met with Obama White House officials over 80 times when Joe Biden served as Vice President.

Republicans must start these hearings immediately before President Joe Biden inflicts more damage on our country.

—Political columnist Jeff Crouere

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – Paul Revere, a renowned silversmith, is better remembered as a folk hero of the American Revolution who this night in 1775 made a dramatic ride on horseback to warn Boston-area residents of an imminent attack by British troops.

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