How Abandoned Big-Box Stores Can Bring Communities Together

I’ve blogged extensively about the ongoing debate about the so-called “Dark Store Loophole.” There will be attempts to kill this so-called loophole in the current legislative session in Madison. I’ve made it clear in my blogs I oppose such legislation.

That’s more than I can say for the proponents of the legislation (my mayor for one of dozens). At least I’ve been fair on this blog and have presented both sides unlike those (my mayor and dozens of others) who push for killing the so-called (I say so-called because I question the loophole nomenclature) loophole who have engaged in blatant one-sided propaganda.

At the risk of complicating this issue I go on by stating several groups representing cities, towns and counties have launched, AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE, a campaign to push lawmakers to close the state’s so-called “dark store loophole.”

The Wisconsin League of Municipalities, Wisconsin Counties Association and Wisconsin Towns Association have done so because they contend big box stores are employing strategies to avoid paying higher taxes under current law.

Large retailers argue their property tax assessments should include the values of similar vacant or “dark” stores. But 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.”

I’ve more than taken that nonsense to task in my blog. Just search for Dark Store to see it all.


Take it easy.


What follows is not another salvo in the loophole debate.

Everybody’s arguing and bitching and moaning about empty commercial space in this debate.

But what if that derelict commercial space could be turned into an overall community positive rather than a negative?

Granted, that would require thinking beyond one’s nose, along with eliminating the constant parade of posing for holy pictures of local elected officials, including my mayor Steve (Franklin is never ever wrong and don’t you forget it) Olson.

The positive aspect I mentioned has been done. It can and does happen when people work together on productive ideas.

Please read.

Should Franklin (and other municipalities) dump recycling?

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Is recycling popular in Wisconsin? Who knows?

That bastion of outstanding journalism, the Shepherd Express, without crediting sources reported that in Wisconsin, recycling supports 97,000 jobs and contributes to the $5.4 billion-dollar environmental industry, and 94% of households in the state support recycling and recycle regularly.

Then you have that reports:

Recycling rates in major cities throughout Wisconsin reveal one of the more wasteful states in the nation. Based on the most recent available data, only Madison and Waukesha have managed to eclipse the national average of 34.7 percent (see table below).5Due to a lack of reporting in certain jurisdictions, the state’s overall recycling rate is unclear. However, given low rates in major cities, evidence from other states suggests that Wisconsin’s statewide rate is even lower than the national average.

I’m guessing that here in Franklin recycling is immensely popular. Popular in that it doesn’t bring giddy joy and enthusiasm, but that the practice is one that’s embraced, with residents willing to comply for what they perceive to be a greater good.

And yet recycling is increasingly being frowned upon, not by the folks that drag their carts to the end of their driveways, but by the elected officials in charge. Why? The cost.

The NY Times reports more cities have decided to get rid of recycling, again, because of the cost.

Finally, to the major issue at hand.

Is recycling a waste?

Sorry. It is.

Today’s highly interesting read (03/19/19): STUDY: K-12 Spending Increases Unlikely to Result in Student Success


Today’s read is from WILL, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty that has analyzed K-12 spending in Wisconsin.

What many don’t want you to know…

Wisconsin has spent a lot on education – more than the majority of states. Will further massive increases in spending actually improve student outcomes? A new WILL report says probably not.

The Report: Truth in Spending: An Analysis of K-12 Spending in Wisconsin, by Research Director Will Flanders, PhD lays out the facts about K-12 spending in Wisconsin, where Wisconsin ranks nationally, and which school districts are getting the most bang for the buck. Most notably, using the most recent year of data available from DPI, Dr. Flanders examined the relationship of K-12 spending on public schools and student outcomes. The findings include:

  • K-12 education spending in Wisconsin is in-line with the rest of the country. 
  • Wisconsin, like the United States, spends far more on education – and gets less for it – than economically developed countries in Europe and Asia.
  • An econometric analysis finds no relationship between higher spending and outcomes in Wisconsin.

Read it all here.


Wisconsin might not get a Foxconn plant of any size, analysts say
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 6, 2019

Did Business Leaders Fail on Foxconn?, March 12, 2019

“All signs suggest the Foxconn project is on life support.”, March 12, 2019

Foxconn says it will move forward with Wisconsin flat-screen factory this summer, begin production in 2020
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 18, 2019

Look who turned 83 today

Ursula Andress was the first-ever Bond girl. She played Honey Ryder in the 1962 film Dr. No.

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“It was a big moment for me,” said Andress.

“I think that simple bikini made a complete difference to my career. It made me into a success I had made a few movies before then but nothing had the impact of that scene in Dr. No.

“After being the first Bond girl, I had offer after offer and could take my pick of the roles that were around.

“It’s a mystery. All I did was wear this bikini in Dr. No – not even a small one – and whoosh! Overnight, I made it. It gave me financial independence and changed my life completely.”

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Back again, it’s Final Jeopardy!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, yes it’s that time…..time once again for another This Just In edition of:

Are you ready?

Well then, let’s play!

Today’s Final Jeopardy category is:


Now, you know how this works.

In a moment, I’ll give you the Final Jeopardy clue.

You will have 30 seconds (if you play fair, that will be when the music runs out) to come up with an answer and remember, players……… your answer must be in the form of a question.


Here’s your clue.

9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to one

Good luck. Please click.

Alright players, time’s up.

Again, today’s Final Jeopardy category is:


The Final Jeopardy answer was:

9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to one

The correct question is:

What are the odds of filling out a perfect NCAA men’s college basketball tournament bracket?

The number of possible outcomes for a bracket is  9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s 9.2 quintillion. BTW, one quintillion is one billion billions.

If we treated the odds for each game as a coin flip, that makes the odds of picking all 63 games correctly 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

A group of researchers at the University of Hawaii estimated that there are 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on Earth. If we were to pick one of those at random, and then give you one chance to guess which of the 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on the entire planet we had chosen, your odds of getting it correct would be 23 percent better than picking a perfect bracket by coin flip.

Today’s highly interesting read (03/19/18): In colleges it’s not just the admissions that are scandalous

Today’s read is from Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Federal prosecutors have charged more than 50 people involved in cheating and bribery in order to get their children admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities such as Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, University of Texas, University of Southern California and UCLA. They often paid more than $100,000 to rig SAT or ACT exams. In some instances, they bribed college officials and secured their children’s admissions to elite schools through various fraud schemes. As corrupt and depraved as these recent revelations are, they are only the tip of the iceberg of generalized college corruption and gross dishonesty.

Read the entire column here.

My Most Popular Blogs (03/18/19)

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

1) Best Cartoons of the Week (03/16/19)

2) THE best part of Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Parade in downtown Milwaukee

3) Goodnight everyone, and have a totally Irish weekend!

4) Photos of the Week (03/10/19)

5) Did you hear about the Hales Corners Fire Department?

6) Highly successful developer to build at Ballpark Commons

7) The Best Memes of the Week (03/10/19)

8) The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (03/16/18)

9) Week-ends (03/16/19)

10) Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver, can’t control the quivering inside”


Culinary no-no #604

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

Suppose I mention O’Tacos. What comes to mind?

You’re thinking, hmm. Today being what it is that I must be referring to a popular Mexican item with a certain European twist. Like a hard shell or soft tortilla stuffed with shaved corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, maybe some onions, and  Thousand Island dressing.

No way Jose.

O’Taco’s is actually a restaurant chain.

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There are more than 200 locations… in France.

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Franchises have also popped up in Belgium and Morocco.

O’Tacos restaurants have become so popular that they’re now being described as a phenomenon. Their claim to fame as mentioned in an above photo is the French taco.

WTH is that? Taco shells with snails? Tortillas with ratatouille (tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, basil, marjoram, thyme and other green herbs)?

Again, no, but those would certainly be high on our list of more than 600 Culinary no-no entries.

What goes into a French taco?

It depends on your interpretation. Is it a grilled panini? A wrap?  What’s clear is that  everything is jammed inside a rectangular portion, fries or rice, that’s right, rice included. Different meats such as chicken nuggets and merguez sausage, combined with several sauces including one of French chesse.

Couldn’t track down the French food writer who said  described the French taco as a “hymn to junk food”

Here’s what you get.

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The French taco restaurants are especially favorites of the 15-25 year old crowd, not just because of the loaded transformed sandwich, but the establishments have become coffeehouse-like hangouts for this group that cherishes the opportunity to gather with friends.

Customers tend to appreciate the size and price of the French taco that is far more satisfying than a Big Mac that leaves the French taco clientele hungry later in the day. McDonald’s prices in France are among the highest in the world.  “Young people often say that after a Big Mac they’re hungry again at 4pm. After a taco, you wouldn’t be.”
Majd Hasnaoui, a former Paris nightclub events manager who opened four O’Tacos franchises in the Paris area in 18 months, said: “The kind of infatuation people have for O’Tacos – I haven’t seen that for a long time in fast food.”

Take another look at that taco.

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Patrick Pelonero, the co-founder of O’Tacos, describes the French taco as “a take on the traditional sandwich – tortilla, shawarma, whatever you like to call it – and it’s easy to eat. Everything is inside, it’s clean, nothing drips on you, the meat doesn’t fall out the side.”

Really? Apparently he’s never seen me eat. Looks kinda potentially messy to me. And the combo? Sure, lots of items on a sub sandwich, hamburger, or hot dog get two thumbs up from me. But massive concoctions don’t always look appealing.

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That’s an example.

Another I saw not long ago in Milwaukee featured Thanksgiving between two buns with a turkey burger, gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, and cranberry sauce.

No thank you.

I’m just not a fan of throwing everything from your frig into one container and then microwaving.

Whenever food is concerned it’s really easy to find suppliers for a no-no: the nutritionists. In this case, OMG, they are very worried about a French taco’s calories. Far more than a Big Mac it turns out.

But want another no-no in addition to the sloppiness of the all-you-can eat shoved into a French taco?

How about the fact the number of O’Tacos is growing at such a rate that some observers believe the franchise can challenge and possibly surpass the fast food superiority of McDonald’s.

Yes, O’Tacos is a booming big business, in France, with 15-25 year olds. What about the children where McDonald’s mops up? Could they, will they stomach the collective mess that is the French taco?

Topple McDonald’s?


Billions served?



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