Letter to the editor: Hudson Inclusion Alliance clarifies position; Don't forget to vote!
Hudson Inclusion Alliance clarifies position
TO THE EDITOR
In several exchanges with members of the Citizens for the St. Croix Valley, there has been an accusation that we are proposing that Hudson become a sanctuary city. This is simply not true.
We have never had this discussion nor is it on our agenda for the future.
In a recent letter to the editor, Darla Meyers, a frequent spokesperson for the citizens group, stated that this was our real agenda. Again, not true. She also makes claims about our liberal agenda and uses other tribal language that seeks to pit our group against her group. This comes as quite a surprise to our more conservative members. While we are dismayed and sometimes disgusted by the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-GLBT rhetoric, we do not see ourselves as being an opposition group nor do we seek to be compared to this group.
We have also been framed as wasting taxpayer money in promoting that the City of Hudson join the National League of Cities. The fact is that we were willing to pay for the first year, $1,500 membership fee, but the City Council felt that it would be more appropriate to be paid for by taxpayers. (We will be promoting benefits of joining the NLC, including prescription drug benefits to residents who do not have insurance in the future.) The continued criticism comes from the same people with the citizens group who waste untold dollars in constant requests for documentation from our public institutions. This is a burden that might be invisible but is a real cost to the city.
We are a non-partisan group who are concerned about the future of all residents of Hudson.
We are left scratching our heads over the continued framing of "us vs. them." This polarization and tribal mentality is not healthy for our community. We encourage all residents of Hudson to visit our website, www.hudsoninclusionalliance.org, and Facebook page for uplifting messages and opportunities to build a stronger, welcoming and kinder Hudson.
Members of the Hudson Inclusion Alliance Leadership Team:
Tony Bol, John Ramstad, Kerry Geurkink, Sarah Bruch, Laura Arthur and Chris Kost
Vote no on stealth attempt to eliminate State Treasurer
TO THE EDITOR
I'm writing to alert readers to a statewide referendum item on the ballot when we go to the polls on April 3. This referendum has gotten too little coverage in state media. It's urgent that voters understand what's at stake.
The ballot measure would amend the Wisconsin State Constitution to eliminate the nonpartisan office of State Treasurer who manages over $1 billion in State Trust Fund assets. As a commissioner on the Board of Public Lands Commission, the Treasurer oversees these funds for use in our public schools, local governments, and public lands. This money goes to improve public schools, libraries, local community infrastructure such as roads and sewers, parks, and the UW system.
The proposed ballot measure would place the Treasurer's oversight function in the hands of the lieutenant governor, effectively removing barriers to partisan use of public assets that belong to all of us.
The Treasurer's office is the public's watchdog for these funds, and if voters eliminate it, Wisconsin will become the only state in the country not to maintain a firewall against appropriation and misuse of public money by partisan politicians.
The current Treasurer and Scott Walker ally, Matt Adamczyk, ran for his office on a platform of getting rid of the Office of Treasurer. Clearly this move has been in the works for some time, and like so much in recent Wisconsin politics is being carried out in the absence of public discussion, away from the light of voters' scrutiny.
Our state's public assets, owned by every citizen, are at risk in this election. You can learn more about this issue at www.saveourfiscalwatchdog.org/whyvoteno.
Vote NO on this stealth attempt to grab state-owned resources on April 3.
Thomas R. Smith
Don't forget to vote!
TO THE EDITOR
We have another election coming up in The City of Hudson for Mayor, on April 3 and historically John Hoggatt has been very supportive of Hudson EMS, this is extremely important to me and the disability community.
This is just a reminder to everyone to vote on April 3 for Mayor of Hudson. EMS is very important to myself and others in this community. I have no doubt that whichever candidate wins they will serve this community well. Thank you to both candidates for their service and this is not an endorsement; this is just a reminder to vote.
Thank you Sandy Gehrke
TO THE EDITOR
I write to offer my gratitude to Sandy Gehrke for her six years of service on the Hudson School Board. Sandy at times was a lone voice in opposition to various topics during her tenure, but she never shied away from expressing her views. I have served with Sandy on the board for four years, and though we at times disagreed, the majority of the time we actually agreed on most issues.
But civil disagreement not only is not a bad thing, it's healthy. No governing body should be comprised strictly of like-minded individuals. Hudson — though by no means a diverse community in comparison to an urban city — has many different viewpoints. To a certain degree, Sandy ensured that some of those opinions had a voice.
Sandy's primary concern and overriding interest has always been the Hudson students: their academic offerings, their safety, and their post-secondary prospects in education and the job market. Secondarily she wanted to safeguard the investment of the Hudson taxpayers while providing our students these opportunities, so has always pushed for the most fiscally responsible method of reaching our common goals.
Sandy, thank you for having the courage to remain true to your principles no matter the opposition or court of public opinion. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve with you. I wish you all the best.
(views expressed as an individual and not a collective body of the Board)
Protecting our groundwater
TO THE EDITOR
Pauline Goerdt wrote an excellent opinion piece last week stressing the need for to be concerned about water pollution, and outlining actions that homeowners can take to protect our water quality. She also referred to the St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association Garden U seminar held March 17.
The main thrust of Garden U this year was to alert people about threats to water quality, the need to protect our groundwater, and the need to prevent pollution from running into the rivers and lakes in our area. Speakers provided background information and resources gardeners can use in these efforts.
Monica Zachay addressed the effect of pollution on the St. Croix River Watershed which covers 7,800 square miles in Wisconsin and Minnesota. She covered some of the more technical aspects of water pollution, description, sources, and effect of run-off on the St. Croix River.
Janine Kohn and Dierdre Coleman outlined the many programs and efforts now taking place to educate communities and citizens about activities and methods to reduce water pollution such as Master Water Steward and Project Wet programs, the Freshwater Society to name a few. Channel 5 this week broadcast a story on the University's collecting samples of salt water and pollutants from the highways. There is concern, and there are activities happening. (Most seem to be in Minnesota though.)
Is it farmers with a lot of land and a gallon of herbicide over a field — or is the problem a whole lot of homeowners with five 30-pound bags of weed and feed that can pollute our groundwater, and where. Water shore plantings rather than grass, rain gardens, rain barrels, all are possibilities to ameliorate problems. Maybe we all ought to think about it and start taking action to protect our groundwater.
'Had it' with St. Croix County
TO THE EDITOR
I simply want to say that I've had it up to my eyeballs with St. Croix County. You know when our family has a financial decision to make, we use kitchen table economics to make our decision. Take buying a car for instance. Our current car is paid off so replacing it would mean selling the old one for as much as I could get for it, maybe even enough for a down payment. Maybe not. Do we go looking at the Escalades and Suburbans? Well only if we have some serious money after our bills are paid for each month. Can I afford $700 a month payments? Sure. But do I want to? Why not get one that is 5-6 years old with low mileage, runs and looks nice for 25 percent of what a new one costs? I could use the down payment and $700/month and would pay that sucker off in one year. What if I got rid of some of my monthly expenses on things I don't even need or use. The boat gets used once a year for the last four years. Do I really need two ATV's? How much do I really need a new iPhone X? Those are things I can live without. Maybe I can pay it off in six months. It's all about priorities.
Contrast that with what the county spends. The role of government is to supply infrastructure and maybe even to provide services to the people who can't help themselves. Even then, the county's role should be to only spend money on things that the state requires. I heard that over 30 percent of the annual budget of $84 million is for things that the state doesn't even require we do. We need the county to get out of the spending business. We need to put an end to it. I don't want a $30 million bike path. I don't want to pay for things not required for us to even do or pay for. I'm voting and want all of you to vote the big spenders out of office.
Town of Hudson
Agreed: We do need to vote April 3
TO THE EDITOR
Eden Penn and I agree we all need to get out and vote on April 3, but for different reasons. The majority of the St. Croix County Board leans quite liberal. Supposedly non-partisan, most of the members (75 percent?) vote progressive. Opposing views are a minor nuisance. A huge percentage of the county does not have a voice as evidenced by the multi-million dollar bonding measures passed. Through taxes, grants, and tax-exempt statuses we will be funding transit initiatives, bike and walking paths, and other progressive projects. There are even talks of a fugitive (sanctuary) county, which may contribute to a loss of revenue. As a citizen of the St. Croix Valley, I am encouraging people to vote for certain candidates in the hopes of getting more balance on the board. Some of our citizens fear balance. Is Ms. Eden Penn (a/k/a Mrs. Tony Bol) in fear of having a more a diverse board? I appreciate the surveys on the Citizens for St. Croix County website to learn more about the candidates. How many of you vote for the good neighbor/relative/co-worker or based on the number of signs? Hopefully you are someone who appreciates being informed. There are some in the county that fear you might become too informed. Ms. Penn expressed a number of serious inaccuracies in her letter last week ("Get out there and vote April 3"). Why would she do that? I would ask her to show proof that the Citizens for St. Croix Valley (1) endorses candidates; (2) was behind a fundraiser; (3) has a prejudicial philosophy; (4) disseminated false information; and (5) endorses or encourages bigotry. I have confidence that the citizens of St. Croix County will discover exactly who these candidates are and cast their vote for a county government we can afford.
Calling out Citizens For the St. Croix Valley
TO THE EDITOR
I feel it necessary to connect the dots about a few things. When Darla Meyers writes in the HSO, she's not only voicing her own opinion, but as a leader of Citizens For the St. Croix Valley sets a tone speaking on their behalf. Last week's letter titled "they won't stop until Hudson is a sanctuary city" represents CFTSCV's capacity to mislead and raises red flags.
Not once has the Hudson Inclusion Alliance brought up the idea of sanctuary status, nor does the National League of Cities promote this extreme position. I know these are false allegations and accusations that cannot be supported. However, they've already been repeated over and over on different platforms by the CFTSCV, until the point where they're now no longer questioned by anyone. They've been made up for everyone to believe that there's an imminent problem or cause for worry, when neither could be further from the truth. Along with these lies came a legal threat in last week's letter that states, "the likelihood of a lawsuit would be high," as well as these words, "we will be watching the City of Hudson very closely." Both intimidation and the fostering of fear are tactics used over and over by CFTSCV.
CFTSCV no longer have as their exclusive focus an anti-immigrant agenda. At the moment, they seem to shift their attention between anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant rhetoric, transportation concerns within our county, educational outreach for its members, and positioning themselves for a political stronghold through candidates running in the upcoming election on April 3. They even appear to have submitted an anonymous political ad in last week's paper that lists every candidate they want voted onto the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors.
CFTSCV have expanded their activity into different areas and if we all don't pay careful attention, their prejudicial agenda will infiltrate our local government. I believe that both CFTSCV's level of intolerance, particularly their disdain for others not like themselves, and spreading of blatant lies have brought about division within St. Croix County. Please make well thought out choices when you vote next week and don't let bigotry win.
Disappointed in no response
TO THE EDITOR
Below is my email that was sent on Feb. 10, 2018, to Mayor O'Conner without any response. Disappointing Yes, but not surprised with his silence.
My response, will be my VOTE.
When you first ran for Mayor two years ago, I met you at the Phipps during a forum. You stated that you would consider being supportive and promote freezing school taxes for low income seniors that are on fixed incomes. These people have been paying their share of the school taxes for years. The increased costs of health care, drugs, goods, labor, schools and other taxes are a real challenge and is a serious issue for many seniors. The impact this is having on low income seniors is real in our community. Some of these homeowners could literally be taxed out of their homes. Is this OK? I'm sure you are aware that taxes for schools have gone up $450 plus for the last two years.
I would appreciate your feedback on this very important subject on where you stand today?
Thank you for your time.
TO THE EDITOR
So when I hear that the St. Croix County budget has increased 34 percent-plus since 2014, what's that mean? I came up with a higher figure. Read on and I'll tell you how I calculated at the bottom.
So 34 percent is a figure that seems mostly ubiquitous; 34 percent of what? 34 cents on the dollar?
A handful of pennies. That;s $340 out of a thousand. That starts getting up there. That approaches the amount of property taxes people pay monthly for the privilege of owning a home in Hudson Township. One month's worth! So now let's look at $34,000 out of 100,000. That's a big chunk of change. You could purchase a new Mercedes, a 2018 CLA250 4-Door Coupe. Let's continue. Now let's talk some bigger bucks, $340,000 big ones out of a million. Well that's a new home in prestigious Carmichael Ridge. Nice ones too.
Now imagine if you could afford a community of those nice homes. Eighty homes sounds like a nice community. Now get this. The amount that the budget has increased for St. Croix County since 2014 could purchase that new community. Eighty new homes for just the 3-year increase in the budget. Really?
I figured the percentage this way. The average operating budget last three years is $79.6 million. The average of new borrowing during those three years is $21.9 million. Total comes to $101.5 average per three years of increase. Using the average yearly increase of 28.2 ($101.5 million minus the 2015 operating budget of $73.3 million) and divide that by the average operating budget ($79.6 million) over that time gives us around 38.6 percent.
I'm using 34 percent in the example above.
I don't know about you but I'd vote out any incumbent except those who are fiscally conservative. I've had enough of this.
The National Debt in perspective
TO THE EDITOR
A trillion, billion, or even million dollars, what do these have in common? What do you think of when you hear such numbers? For most they become abstract numbers, yet they are familiar numbers heard everyday listing to the news. So what do they have in common, the answer is government.
The federal budget is estimated to take in $3.37 trillion for 2018, yet spend $3.76 trillion for a deficit of $392 billion. The national debt is already at $21 trillion and growing and that does not include the $123 trillion in unfunded liability. Lets quantify these numbers by way of physical measurement to better understand how we stack-up, fiscally speaking.
Let's start by defining our tool of measurement, a single one-dollar bill. In order to clean up the decimals we will round up or down to make things simpler.
• A dollar bill is 0.0043 inches thick and a one-inch thick pile is $233.
• One foot is equal to $2,790.
• One mile is 5280 feet, so our stack of dollars becomes $14,734,884.
So far, so good, but we are not done yet. The average distance from earth to the moon is 238,857 miles.
• In order to reach the moon we will need a stack of 3.5 trillion dollars.
• At our current debt, we could go from earth to the moon just under six times (5.97 times to be more precise).
To help put this into better contexts, the median household income is $55,322. That is equivalent to a 20-foot stack of single dollar bills. However, we can do better than that.
• Every individual would be accountable for $64,252, or a 23-foot stack.
• Every taxpayer would owe $173, 548, equaling a stack of 62-feet.
Incase you were wondering, our $123 trillion would be a mind-boggling 8,347,538 miles high. Hopefully this exercise will add perspective to our fiscal health and leave you with the idea that this is unsustainable.
We, as individuals did not spend this money, our government has. It is up to us to say enough and enact a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution threw a Convention of States (see conventionofstates.com), were "We the People" take back our government.
Perplexed by big spending
TO THE EDITOR
I am perplexed as to what is occurring here in Saint Croix County. I can understand the cost of things the county does to go up, but 19 percent over the last three years is too much. A current Saint Croix County Supervisor was asked the question, "How much of the $84 million budget is mandated by the State of Wisconsin?" The answer I received was troubling. They said "We've been trying to figure this answer out for years." So asked what their best estimate was; they said "Between 25-49 percent!"
So this means we are forced to borrow money at a staggering rate yet spend between $21 million-$41 million on items out of the goodness of our hearts! We are forced to pay our property taxes where the county is using the force of a proverbial point of a gun or have our homes auctioned off to the highest bidder. Folks, this is the ultimate oxymoron, being forced to be benevolent. Please join me in putting a stop to property tax increases and the continuous "Spreading your hard earned wealth around." Vote April 3 for the three responsible incumbents and all the 15 challengers. For contact info on your candidate search https://www.sccwi.gov.
April 3 referendum discussion is worth watching
TO THE EDITOR
If you couldn't attend the recent presentation by Matt Rothschild at First Presbyterian Church on the "Citizens United" case, there is still time before the April 3 election.
Mr. Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, brought us up to date on the history of Supreme Court decisions going back to the 19th century dealing with the question whether corporations should be considered "persons" that should enjoy constitutional protections, including the First Amendment Rights to free speech. He then focused on the 2010 case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has received much attention.
Critics of that case have urged ballot referenda in many Wisconsin communities, in which citizens can express whether they support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn or supersede the Citizens United decision. This question will appear on the St. Croix County ballot on April 3.
Citizens United has come to stand for opening the floodgates for unlimited, anonymous political contributions by corporations. Mr. Rothschild explained just what Citizens United means and what it does not, and what the proposed amendment proposed by the April 3 referendum would mean if the amendment should pass, and what it would not mean. Voting "Yes" indicates you think that Citizens United should be effectively overruled or at least limited.
Contrary to a recent letter to this paper criticizing the St. Croix County Commissioners' action authorizing the referendum as a waste of time by left leaning politicians, you will find that this is a big issue, with lots of money involved, that affects you. The Commissioners have given St. Croix County citizens the opportunity to speak, which is reasonable and fair. It is not a waste of time to learn about the issue and cast an informed vote on it.
You can make yourself an Informed voter on the referendum question by watching Mr.
Rothschild's presentation, including his answers to audience questions. You can find the video now on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gBBtY2GB_U and soon on the River Channel.
Fighting for SCEMS
TO THE EDITOR
Last year, the current mayor made a big push to privatize St. Croix County EMS. The community came together and fought hard to keep the current mayor's agenda at bay. Sadly, SCEMS is again under attack and vulnerable with the upcoming April 3 election.
Why does this matter? For one, SCEMS has been serving St. Croix County since 1970. They are an integral part of our community and their service cannot be matched. From a business perspective, the efforts to privatize SCEMS are a scam. They want us to believe that SCEMS is such a horrible unsustainable business model and yet a) it's survived for going on 50 years and b) why then would a private entity want to buy it if only to lose money?
The truth is that privatizing SCEMS is a terrible corporate profit-taking scam which will lead to poorer care, higher costs and even denial of service. It benefits the investor class at the expense of any given individual in the community and the community as a whole. Communities across the nation have successfully fought off efforts to privatize their EMS for these very reasons. The truth is that SCEMS will be just fine if we elect people who don't come with an agenda of shutting it down.
Please get out and vote Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Talk to your neighbors. Encourage others to educate themselves and to vote. Those looking to privatize SCEMS have a lot of money and their handouts are very misleading on where they actually stand on the issue. St. Croix County cannot be bullied or bought and we have a chance to make that clear at the voting booth on April 3.
Vote your conscience
TO THE EDITOR
Your County Board is not and should not be a partisan body. The reason for presenting the referendum question about adding an amendment to the Constitution regarding money in politics is to give all citizens a chance to have an opinion. In a recent paid political ad your County Board was accused of malicious intent for making this a ballot initiative. The facts are that a critical mass of support in other communities across Wisconsin have passed similar referendums. Counties which have passed this referendum include Chippewa, Dunn, Dane, Douglass, Jefferson and the County and City of Milwaukee.
In fact more than 110 municipalities in Wisconsin have passed either referendum or by resolution in support for this movement.
Taking the overwhelming support this measure has had with the public in communities which are both conservative and liberal leaning it was decided to give the people of St. Croix County the say. I am one of the Supervisors who supported putting this on the ballot. This is not in any way a political statement. I do not bring politics to the County Board. Please vote your opinion, your conscience on April 3. Thank you for participating in our Democracy.
Dan Hansen (District 12 Supervisor)
Live Supreme Court candidate debate
TO THE EDITOR
Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Rebecca Dallett and Michael Screnock will participate in a live debate to be broadcast statewide on Friday, March 30, at 7 p.m., on Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR), and streamed online at wpt.org, wpr.org and WisconsinVote.org. The debate will be moderated by WPT's Frederica Freyberg and WPR's Shawn Johnson.
The debate will occur four days before the general election on Tuesday, April 3, that will determine whether Dallett, a judge for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, or Screnock, a Sauk County Circuit Court judge, will win a 10-year term on the Supreme Court. The seat is currently held by Justice Michael Gableman, who was first elected in 2008 and is not seeking re-election.
Watch the debate to get to know the candidates and decide for yourself who is most qualified to hold this important position. If you are unable to watch Friday's live debate, visit wpt.org or wpr.org to view or listen to it at your convenience.
Support open skies to protect American jobs
TO THE EDITOR
As a lot of Wisconsin families head out for spring break, the prospect of plane tickets going up isn't ideal. But that's exactly what could happen if certain international airlines get their way. I recently met with Congressman Sean Duffy to discuss the Open Skies travel agreements that have been in place since the 1990s because some of the airlines in the Persian Gulf are being subsidized by their governments. This could result in U.S. airlines cutting routes, jobs lost and higher airline tickets for everyone down the road.
President Trump recently put the countries of Qatar and UAE on notice for these violations hoping to change their ways before it gets out of hand. That's good, he should continue to ensure these policies are enforced. They were agreed upon for a reason.
What's at stake is a potential loss of 1,500 jobs in the U.S. and fewer routes from our airline industry that is 5 percent of our GDP. Giving international airlines a monopoly over certain routes would hurt our economy.
Congressman Duffy has already led on this issue, signing a delegation letter calling for awareness. That's exactly the kind of leadership we need from our elected officials in Washington.
Call your elected official and get involved. The free market is important for our economy and unfair trade policies will be costly for each and every one of us.