NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Milwaukee leaders stressed the deep cuts they will be forced to make to police and fire departments if a bill to fund local governments doesn’t cross the finish line.

Testifying before lawmakers, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley warned members of the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection about the dire financial situation they will face without a new funding mechanism to pay their bills.

Both the Assembly and Senate are currently split over how the city and county can receive more money by increasing their sales tax, in addition to the bill providing a funding increase to all local governments.

With Milwaukee facing a $156 million dollar budget deficit next year, city officials estimate cuts to libraries, police, and fire services could range from 10% to 25%. That alone would result in the loss of anywhere from 355 to 890 employees.

“That will dramatically increase our emergency response times, it will harm quality of life in Milwaukee and reduce basic city services to unacceptable levels,” Johnson said. “If the bill doesn’t pass…those doomsday scenarios will come to fruition.”

To avoid these outcomes, the proposal would allow the city to levy a 2% sales tax increase while also adding a 0.375% sales tax on top of the county’s current 0.5% tax. The revenue collected from the sales tax would be used to pay down pension obligations and keep essential services running.

—CBS 58 Milwaukee

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson, Wisc., and Chuck Grassley, Iowa, on Tuesday pressed special counsel John Durham on his efforts to secure information from key FBI officials and relevant persons who declined to be interviewed during his investigation.

Durham recently published his findings after a years-long investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax that determined the FBI began its investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign with no predicating evidence and revealed that key intelligence officials were aware of the Clinton campaign’s plan to fabricate links between Moscow and the former president’s campaign before the election even occurred.

“[W]e noticed that several high-level former government officials directly involved in Crossfire Hurricane either declined or partially declined to cooperate with your investigation,” the pair wrote to Durham following the release of his final report. Among those individuals were former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Assistant Director Bill Priestap, former Agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson.

“Congress requires additional information with respect to this refusal to cooperate and how it ultimately concluded,” the pair wrote. “It seems odd that individuals would be allowed to avoid fully cooperating with your office, particularly given your authority to compel testimony and records.”

The lawmakers asked Durham to state whether he issued any of those individuals a subpoena and, if not, to explain why. They also asked him to provide details on his statement that some personnel in the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI refused to cooperate and that bureau leadership intervened to urge them to do so.

Grassley and Johnson also asked him to identify those who refused to cooperate and those who ultimately relented.

—Just the News

A white lawyer who spat on a Black high school student during an anti-racism march in suburban Milwaukee in 2020 has chosen jail over probation.

Stephanie Rapkin, a 67-year-old Shorewood attorney, was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.

Milwaukee County Judge Laura Crivello on Tuesday offered Rapkin leniency, staying a 60-day jail sentence for a year of probation with the condition that she put in 100 hours of community service.

But Rapkin said no one would ever accept her and she wanted to go to jail.

“It’s not viable,” she said. “I’d rather go to jail right now and take care of it.”

Crivello imposed the 60-day sentence and bailiffs led Rapkin out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

It wasn’t immediately clear what exactly Rapkin meant by her comments. Her attorney, Anthony Cotton, told reporters the day she was convicted that her career has been ruined. Cotton didn’t immediately respond to an email Tuesday from The Associated Press seeking clarification about why Rapkin refused probation.

Cotton told the Journal Sentinel on Tuesday that Rapkin own neighbors won’t associate with her and that she has received death threats and been labeled a racist.

In June 2020, Rapkin showed up at the protest in Shorewood and parked her car in the street, blocking the anti-racism march that was one of thousands held around the U.S. in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.

When protesters approached her to urge her to move her car, video shows Rapkin spitting on Eric Lucas, then a 17-year-old junior at Shorewood High School. Lucas helped organize and lead the march.

—Wisconsin AP

Milwaukee has some of the worst road conditions in the nation, according to a study from California-based software company Teletrac Navman.

Tied in fourth for the worst road conditions in the country, more than half of Milwaukee’s road are currently in “poor condition,” according to the study. The average cost to maintain or repair a car damaged in Milwaukee due to bad road conditions is $944. The only other cities with equally bad or worse roadway conditions are San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Honolulu, according to the study.

This spring, Milwaukee has already received more than 2,500 requests to fill potholes, said Department of Public Works spokesperson Brian DeNeve. The warm weather in February and colder temps in March resulted in an increase in potholes, he added.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an outspoken cultural conservative long seen as Donald Trump’s leading rival for the Republican nomination, is set to launch his 2024 presidential campaign today.

The 44-year-old Republican governor plans to announce his decision in an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the announcement publicly.

The audio-only event will be streamed on Twitter Spaces beginning at 6 p.m. EDT. He will follow up with a round of prime-time appearances on conservative programs, including Fox News and Mark Levin’s radio show.

DeSantis will join a crowded Republican contest to decide whether the party will move on from Trump in 2024 as it works to retake the White House from President Joe Biden.

Beyond Trump, those already in the GOP field include former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce his candidacy in the coming weeks.

DeSantis has embraced Trump’s combative style and many of his policies, but casts himself as a younger and more electable version of the former president.

In choosing Twitter, DeSantis is taking a page out of the playbook that helped turn businessman-TV celebrity Trump into a political star.

—Associated Press

Bud Light’s marketing team has unveiled a new effort to bolster sales in the midst of ongoing boycott by essentially giving away a 15-pack of beer for free for Memorial Day.

Until May 31, consumers can get up to a $15 rebate on the purchase of Bud Light, Budweiser, Budweiser Select, and Budweiser Select 55 in a 15-pack or larger. The rebate comes in the form of a digital prepaid credit card that will be equivalent to up to $15.


The marketing campaign, launched May 17, said that it’s because of Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 29. The purchases can be made until May 31 with the digital prepaid card.

The rebate means that consumers can get a 15-pack of Bud Light for basically free. According to a cursory check of Target’s website, the 15-pack of 12-oz. cans sells for about $12.99, while other websites show the product selling for $14.99.

The rebate can be accessed through a website where customers must upload a picture of the UPC and receipt between May 17 and May 31 to obtain it. Customers have to be at least age 21 or older, according to the site’s terms and conditions.

It comes as Bud Light sales have dropped for another consecutive week since a transgender influencer shared a post of a custom Bud Light can that was sent to celebrate “365 Days of Girlhood” in early April. The influencer and activist, a biological male, also posted “#BudLightPartner” in one of the social media posts that included the can.

—The Epoch Times

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, faces demands from state Democrats to apologize for a remark he used to refer to them during a Republican Party event over the weekend.

“I look forward to the day that Democrats are so rare, we have to hunt them with dogs,” McMaster said at a state GOP convention, a reporter for The State newspaper, Joseph Bustos, tweeted during the event.

The Anderson County Democratic Party shared a petition online with a statement from its chairman, Chris Salley, asking McMaster to apologize.

“As a Black, gay man in America, I’ve had to be on guard for people trying to ‘hunt me down’ most of my life and I know thousands of people across South Carolina are forced to feel the same,” Salley said. “This rhetoric emboldens violent extremists, chills political discourse, and needs to end.”

In response to the outcry from Democrats, a spokesperson for McMaster, Brandon Charochak, said the governor had issued the same comment at previous GOP conventions, and that “everyday South Carolinians understand that it’s a joke.”

“If South Carolina Democrat partisans can no longer bear light-hearted jokes made at their expense, then maybe they should focus their energy on winning and not whining,” Charochak said in a statement.

-NBC News

Three months after entering end-of-life care at home, former President Jimmy Carter remains in good spirits as he visits with family, follows public discussion of his legacy and receives updates on The Carter Center’s humanitarian work around the world, his grandson says. He’s even enjoying regular servings of ice cream.

“They’re just meeting with family right now, but they’re doing it in the best possible way: the two of them together at home,” Jason Carter said of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, now 98 and 95 years old.

“They’ve been together 70-plus years. They also know that they’re not in charge,” the younger Carter said Tuesday in a brief interview. “Their faith is really grounding in this moment. In that way, it’s as good as it can be.”

The longest-lived U.S. president, Jimmy Carter announced in February that after a series of brief hospital stays, he would forgo further medical intervention and spend the remainder of his life in the same modest, one-story house in Plains where they lived when he was first elected to the state Senate in 1962. No illness was disclosed.

—Associated Press

For those seeking to live in the most sustainable way, there now is an afterlife too.

A Dutch intrepid inventor is now “growing” coffins by putting mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, together with hemp fiber in a special mold that, in a week, turns into what could basically be compared to the looks of an unpainted Egyptian sarcophagus.

And while traditional wooden coffins come from trees that can take decades to grow and years to break down in the soil, the mushroom versions biodegrades and delivers the remains to nature in barely a month and a half.

Bob Hendrikx, the 29-year-old founder bedecked in a “I am compost” T-shirt at a recent presentation, said that he had researched nature a great deal “especially mushrooms. And I learned that they are the biggest recyclers on the planet. So I thought, hey, why can we not be part of the cycle of life? And then decided to grow a mushroom-based coffin.” Moss can be draped within the coffins for the burial ceremonies.

And for those preferring cremation, there is also an urn they grow which can be buried with a sapling sticking out. So when the urn is broken down, the ashes can help give life to the tree.

—Associated Press


Group pride is a characteristic of all left-wing thought and activism.

The most recent incarnation of group pride is LGBTQ pride. Every company, every professional sports team, every Democratic politician, even the armed forces and American embassies around the world are expected to celebrate Pride Month, Pride Night and year-round LGBTQ Pride.

This is problematic for at least two reasons.

First, what exactly is one proud of? What accomplishment is involved in being gay, lesbian or bisexual? Even trans is allegedly built into one’s nature. Isn’t the entire premise of the LGBTQ movement that one does not choose one’s sexual orientation or sexual identity? Wasn’t anyone who argued that homosexuality is a choice declared a hater and a science denier? So, then, if no choice is involved, no effort on the part of the individual — let alone no moral accomplishment — what is there to be proud of? Maybe I couldn’t identify with Jewish pride over great Jewish athletes, but at least they all actually accomplished something.

The other problematic element has to do with why the LGBTQ movement does everything possible to bludgeon every institution into celebrating Pride Nights, Days, Weeks and Months. The reason is the totalitarian nature of all left-wing movements. Unlike liberal and conservative movements, every left-wing movement is totalitarian. Therefore, it is not enough for people to tolerate or even show respect to LGBTQ individuals. We must all celebrate lesbianism, male homosexuality, the transgendered and queers. No left-wing movement is a movement for tolerance. They are movements that demand celebration.

For the first time in any of our lifetimes, the Left may have met an immovable obstacle. Americans are prepared to tolerate just about everything and everyone. But at least half of us will not celebrate girls who have their breasts removed — or the therapists and physicians who facilitate it. At least half of us will not celebrate men dressed as women, especially those who dance in front of 6-year-olds. And while some medical schools have been cowed into saying “birthing person” rather than “pregnant woman,” at least half of us will hold the cowards who run these medical schools in contempt.

I have devoted much of my life to helping my fellow Jews. It started when I was 21 years old, and the Israeli foreign office sent me into the Soviet Union to smuggle in Jewish items and smuggle out names of Jews wanting to leave the Soviet Union. I have brought many disaffected Jews back to Judaism. And I have constantly fought for Israel’s security. I am very happy to be a Jew. But I don’t quite relate to being proud of it — it was not my achievement; it was an accident of birth. That is equally true of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and orientation. You don’t get credit for, shouldn’t be proud of and have no right to demand others celebrate something you had nothing to do with.

Finally, if you’re honest, group pride must be accompanied by group shame. Yes, a disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners were Jews. But a disproportionate number of Western spies for Stalin were also Jews. If you’re not prepared to be ashamed of your group, don’t take pride in it. That rule applies to blacks, gays, women, Christians and every other group in the world.

—Dennis Prager

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1938 Carl Magee of Oklahoma was granted a U.S. patent for the first coin-controlled parking meter, which became ubiquitous on streets around the country.

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