This Might Not Be Possible In Five Years:

Here’s a feel good human interest story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A curious Wisconsinite follows up on family stories to track down the deep woods northern Wisconsin crash site of a Cold War era B-52 bomber.

Fifty years ago this November, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber crashed into a hill in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, killing all nine people on board.

Residents and hunters gathering for the gun-deer opener the next morning heard and felt the low rumble and crash. A forest fire watcher named Roger Langham, whose farm was just west of the site, climbed a lookout tower to help searchers locate the wreckage.

Langham’s great-nephew, Tom Sybert, wasn’t born until six years later, but he grew up hearing stories about the tragic crash when he visited family living near Hauer in Sawyer County. Sybert is still curious about the plane crash of the gigantic bomber but couldn’t find anyone who remembered exactly where the B-52 skidded into the earth.

After years of searching the internet and scouring Google Earth, Sybert, of Northbrook, Ill., filled out an online request form for a map library in Madison.

It took Jaime Martindale just two hours to do what Sybert couldn’t — find the crash site.

The Arthur H. Robinson Map Library in Science Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has a half million items in its print collection, including maps, globes, charts and atlases. The print collection includes 250,000 aerial photographs dating to the 1930s.

When Sybert emailed a Google map with a rectangle of the general area, Martindale, a map and geospatial data librarian, requested more information. As she waited for a response, she began to do what librarians do best — dig.

“I found some newspaper articles that had been scanned online and local histories of Sawyer County that all described the event and provided details, not only the details of the location but what happened,” Martindale said in a phone interview.

Sybert was ecstatic to learn Martindale had solved the mystery. The remote spot where the plane skidded and crashed is partly owned by a friend of Sybert’s family and partly Lac Courte Oreilles tribal land.

Sybert paid for a plaque honoring the Air Force members who lost their lives: Capt. Curtis E. Robertson, pilot; 1st Lt. Darrick R. Negron, co-pilot; Capt. Edward E. Kamph, radar navigator; 1st Lt. Jerome P. Calligari, navigator; Capt. Michael J. Dunlap, electronic warfare officer; Airman 1st Class Gerald D. Turney, gunner; Lt. Col. Jack Atherton, instructor pilot; Maj. James H. Crook, instructor navigator; and Master Sgt. Lonnie Woodard, electronics and maintenance engineer.

The map library is named after a professor who taught cartography at UW-Madison from 1947 to 1980. Arthur H. Robinson was director of the map division for the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA, during World War II, and the library has a nice collection of World War II intelligence maps.

The service Sybert used is popular among members of the public who may not be able to drive to the Robinson Map Library in Madison, said Martindale, who has been a map librarian at UW for 13 years.

But this might not be possible in five more years…why yes the technology will still be there if not even better than what we have today.

But the online archives for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessor papers the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel just went behind a pay wall…and even the Milwaukee Public Library is being asked to cough up $1+ million dollars to have access…a library who provided 30% of the source material for the Sentinel archives. So how much longer before all of the newspaper archives on the internet disappear in a similar manner…when only the wealthy can access knowledge online. How would Ms. Martindale have faired without access to those local papers. (How can a newspaper retain rights to articles that have already been in the public domain…or that are decades old?)

Then we have the Robinson Map Library…how many more budget cuts will the University of Wisconsin endure before services like these get cut or become inaccessible because of staff reductions? Will Ms. Martindale or someone like her even hold a map librarian position in 5 years? How much many more cuts can UW sustain before auxiliary sources like this begin to disappear?

An Open Letter to British Petroleum

I am sorry for your loss…your gasoline station at Sherman Blvd and Burleigh in Milwaukee is apparently a total loss.

But here’s what you should do next:

I don’t know if the station operator was a lessee or franchisee…but whoever gets the insurance money…take it and throw down a few BP dollars and find them a new station…somewhere else.

Begin immediate plans to raze the rubble and build a bright new state of the art gasoline station. Sherman Park deserves it.

Perform a search for a new operator from the immediate neighborhood. And then provide him/her with an apprenticeship or internship or whatever you want to call it…at one of your most successful stations…and pay them.

When the new station is ready for occupancy put them in place. Provide them with management assistance for however long both of you deem appropriate.

Sell it to them on a land contract at under market rates.

Invest in this neighborhood. You can afford it. You can earn respect. You can earn a reputation as an investor in the economy and neighborhoods.

You can earn your investment back.

You can help return stability and normalcy to a shattered neighborhood.

You can help at least one minority owner begin to build some personal wealth.

You can help that owner provide neighborhood jobs…I don’t know how many that would be in a modern gas station…but it would be solid, visible, worthwhile jobs.

Are you up to the task?

Johnson Controls About To Leave Wisconsin?

Breaking news from JSOnline says Johnson Controls is about to merge with Ireland’s Tyco International. Tyco is a fire protection and security company. Although the article says that local miscreant and current CEO of Johnson Controls, Alex Molinaroli, will run the new combined company, will JCI’s legal headquarters end up in Ireland for tax purposes? Will they be the largest example of the Wisconsin business loss trend that Governor Walker’s ‘Open for Business’ policy has become?

Wisconsin’s largest public company, Johnson Controls Inc., is in advanced talks to merge with Ireland-based fire protection and security company Tyco International, according to a report Sunday by the Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with the talks, the business publication said a deal could be announced as soon as Monday.

Financial terms of the potential transaction aren’t known.

Alex Molinaroli, chief executive of Johnson Controls, would be expected to run the combined company, the newspaper reported.

Update 1/15/2016 6:18 PM Some of you are getting a bit carried away. I never suggested that JCI would move their manufacturing jobs and overall operations out of Milwaukee. The gist of the post was that JCI would use Ireland as their legal corporate HQ and do a ‘tax inversion’ to avoid taxes. And I got ragged on over on Facebook for wild speculation last night…when the actual announcement actually bore out my supposition. Go figure

Paul Ryan Is In For Speaker of the House?

Tonight is saying: Ryan to seek speakership if House GOP unites behind him. It seems like nearly everyone who has been an ally of Rep. Ryan has suggested he stay out of this fight…but sometimes ambitions and egos get in the way of common sense. OTOH: I don’t really care if the GOP pulls itself together under the circumstances since I don’t see a Speaker Ryan being anymore willing to work with the Dems or the White House than Speaker Boehner or the Freedom Caucus.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday that he will run for speaker, but only if they embrace him by week’s end as their consensus candidate — an ambitious bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House.

Dragged reluctantly into seeking a job he never wanted, Ryan spoke to the House GOP behind closed doors and said he will run only with the endorsement of the major caucuses in the House, including the hardline Freedom Caucus that chased out the current speaker and his No. 2.

“We as a conference should unify now,” Ryan told reporters later. “What I told members is if you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve, and if I am not unifying, that is fine as well — I will be happy to stay where I am.”

The 45-year-old Ryan gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support. The question will be whether he can win over the Freedom Caucus, which drove Speaker John Boehner to announce his resignation by threatening a floor vote on his speakership, and scared Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy into abruptly withdrawing from the race to replace him.

That left Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, as the only figure in the House with the national profile, stature and broad popularity to unite a caucus divided against itself, at a moment of deep turmoil. He had consistently said he does not want to be speaker and would prefer to stay on as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which he’s described as his dream job.

It would take a whole lot of convincing for me to give up my dream job for anything resembling the viper pit that is the GOP caucus in the house right now…I still think he’s not going to actually accept the position.

Senator Stroebel Worries About A Brain Drain And Comes Up With A Wholly GOP Style Solution

Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an op-ed piece by State Senator Duey Stroebel (R – Cedarburg) concerning a brain drain from Wisconsin as recent college graduates leave the state upon graduation.

Senator Stroebel is bemoaning the fact that recent graduates have left the state at the rate of 14,000 over the four year period of 2008 to 2012. He clearly understands the economic issues related to losing our most talented and discusses it at length. I was starting to become quite impressed until we got to the GOP style kicker at the end:

With these issues in mind, I recently unveiled a bill that seeks to entice the best and brightest high school students to remain here for college and, ultimately, work here and put down roots after graduation. Many of these students will be the next entrepreneurs, job creators, benefactors and leaders who will shape the future of our state. To accomplish this, my bill would restructure the current Academic Excellence Higher Education Scholarship, which is awarded to high school seniors statewide finishing at or near the top of their class.

Untouched since the early 1990s, the program has becoming increasingly less effective in accomplishing its goal of keeping the best and brightest here. Under the proposed changes, the scholarship amount would be increased to equal the tuition and fees of the in-state college or university attended, or to the tuition and fees of UW-Madison if the student attends a private university. The key, however, would be that 50% of the award would be in the form of a traditional tuition scholarship, and the other half would be distributed to the student in the form of a tax credit that may be used to offset state income tax obligations for the first five years following graduation — but only if the graduate lives in Wisconsin and earns a majority of his or her income in-state.

A tax credit?

Didn’t it ever occur to you…that while demeaning educators and taking millions of dollars out of the budget of the University of Wisconsin system…that it might just be kinda hard to convince students you mean something when your actions are saying exactly the opposite?

Want to staunch the brain drain? Bolster the reputation of the UW System by investing in it. Make tuition affordable by returning state funding to previous levels. Help to make student loans affordable so that our best and brightest can attend and graduate and afford to stay here.

And for crying out loud, invest in PUBLIC education so that our best and brightest are ready and able to go to college!!

Governor Scott Walker Is A Quitter

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was supposed to be the crown jewel among Governor Scott Walker’s first term accomplishments. It was part of his agenda to downsize government and privatize government functions in one fell swoop…as well as serve as a lynch pin in his promised job development in Wisconsin.

Well since then WEDC has failed two state audits. The audits essentially found that the agency didn’t follow state law and didn’t even follow their own internal rules on loans and verification of results from the firms receiving loans.

So what does the governor do when faced with issues surrounding the business loans his organization is making? Does he replace anyone in authority? Does he question why WEDC goes through financial officers like water? Does he call a board meeting (as governor he is board chairman) and get everyone in line like a chair of a business would? Does he hold a public forum and discuss the aims and goals of WEDC…it’s fit in the economy of Wisconsin…and the value and purpose of the loans? NO, he just throws up his hands and says that WEDC shouldn’t be making business loans.

A week after an audit documenting failures by the state’s top jobs agency, Gov. Scott Walker is seeking to end the authority’s $19 million a year in lending, shifting his plans for the agency for the second time in as many weeks.

The Republican governor Friday proposed phasing out the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s $74 million loan portfolio — one of the problem areas identified by nonpartisan auditors but not the only one. Within hours of the release of the Legislative Audit Bureau report last week, Walker dropped his proposed merger of WEDC with another state agency that deals with the economy.

And then apparently at his own behest (and that Zach mentioned yesterday), the legislature is removing the governor from his role as WEDC board chair:

GOP legislators voted along with Walker (emphasis mine) to remove him as chairman of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. but chose to keep their legislative representatives on the board of the embattled jobs agency.

WEDC has been plagued by lax oversight…

When the going gets tough…the tough bail out? That’s leadership?

I imagine Gov. Walker’s continued leadership of a failing state jobs agency would totally play against the image he is trying to portray on the presidential campaign trail. Time to bail before there is too much national media scrutiny on his major policy failure.

But let’s roll back to the lax oversight statement. Very recently there has been a lot of scrutiny of a loan WEDC made to a now defunct business owned by a contributor to the governor’s campaign.

Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides pressed for a taxpayer-funded $500,000 loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company that was collapsing and created no jobs, according to a newspaper investigation.

Walker’s economic development agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, awarded an unsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, according to records the Wisconsin State Journal obtained through an open records request.

The 2011 loan was for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency. The WEDC sued BCI last year in an attempt to get the money back.

It is among several WEDC loans recently questioned by state auditors in a report that led Walker on Friday to ask lawmakers to scrap the loan program.

Paul Jadin, the former head of WEDC, said Minahan and then-Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch pushed for a $4.3 million loan, but the agency couldn’t justify more than $500,000 — which Jadin said he considered “fairly risky.”

Minahan had given Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign a last-minute $10,000 donation on election day — the maximum individual contribution.

A loan that Gov. Walker claims he was not aware of.

State records say that Gov. Scott Walker received a copy of a 2011 letter pledging a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company headed by a Walker donor, seemingly contradicting statements by the governor and his aides that he was not aware of the award.

A spokeswoman for Walker said that, in spite of the records, a copy of the letter from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. was never delivered to the governor’s office.

So let’s see: the governor’s top aides pushed for a WEDC loan, the governor was copied on the letter regarding the loan, the governor is the board chairman of the loaning organization…and no idea about the loan? That is the definition of lax oversight and typical of Gov. Walker’s organizational style both in the governor’s office and his year’s as county executive in Milwaukee.

What should be happening at WEDC?
1: The governor should be holding up his hand and saying the buck stops here.
2: Attorney General Schimel should be called in to investigate potential violations of state law.
3: The officers of WEDC should make some major changes in the organization to meet state law and internal controls.
4: There should be a public discussion on the value of the WEDC and it’s role in Wisconsin.

And the people of Wisconsin should realize that this is a glaring example of Gov. Walker’s lack of governance in this state as he looks toward his campaign for president. None of us, left or right, are getting any leadership out of the governor’s office.

It is also interesting to examine the sideshow related to all of this:

A week ago when it looked like WEDC might be salvageable, Reed Hall, the secretary and CEO of WEDC, wrote a glowing op ed piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel supporting the bold approach to economic development taken by the agency.

And then four days later as things around WEDC continued to unravel Christian Schneider, the in house GOP mouthpiece at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, suggested that we don’t need a business loan state organization and that WEDC should be dismantled.

How quickly fickle the Madison GOP shows itself to be these days. You’d think being in control would be more fun (sarcasm)!

BTW: how’s the jobs thing coming? At the end of his first term the governor was 121,000 jobs short of his announced goal of 250,000 jobs.

What The University of Wisconsin Is Actually Doing:

As Madison continues to debate cuts to the University of Wisconsin system as part of the state budget, there have been a couple of news items coming out of the university. One that is pretty important on the world health stage and one that is actually helping Governor Walker ‘create’ jobs.

Health: Group led by UW scientist develops whole virus Ebola vaccine

Another vaccine has joined the race against the often fatal Ebola virus, and this one was developed by a group led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist internationally known for his bird flu research.

The whole virus vaccine that Yoshihiro Kawaoka and his colleagues developed was constructed using a novel experimental platform, and it has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the Ebola virus at a top biosafety-level National Institutes of Health laboratory in Montana, according to an article published Thursday in the prominent journal Science.

This vaccine differs from other Ebola vaccines in development because, as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it can prime the host immune system with the complete range of Ebola viral proteins and genes, which makes it more likely to trigger a robust immune response, according to a news release from UW-Madison.

Jobs: UW alums’ technology firm SnowShoe makes tracks to angel investors

The company creates pieces of plastic that can unlock digital content when touched to the screen of a smartphone or tablet, acting like a series of human fingertip touches that tell the phone what to do.

The devices, called SnowShoe Stamps, are created by 3-D printers at the company’s Madison facilities and have a wide range of uses.

“It’s the link to real-world objects and digital assets,” Moberg said.

The stamp costs about $1 to make, although the company is working to cut that down to about 50 cents. The young company has grown to eight full-time employees and a handful of contractors.

Yeah, so let’s cut state support of our world class university…makes all the sense in the world (sarcasm)!

Where Is The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce On The New Bucks Arena?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been updating their article on the budget hearing at Alverno University today…so the snippet I saw this morning about Tim Sheehy’s, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, testimony in favor of the state’s $220 million bond issue to pay for part of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks was removed.

Since I can’t cut and paste it in nor link to the actual article with the information, I’ll paraphrase it briefly.

Mr. Sheehy was in total support of building the new arena and making sure that we retain the Milwaukee Bucks…saying it was an important asset for the City of Milwaukee.

Well, that being said, where is the MMAC with their checkbooks? If it’s such a important source of revenue and economic growth in the region…aren’t the businesses and business leaders the guys that should be picking up the balance of the tab? Instead of the general tax payers?

Mr. Sheehy, I suggest that you and your organization actually put your money where your mouth is!

State Rejects Double Deck I-94 Plan But:

Today the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said they were rejecting their totally unpopular proposal to expand I-94 from 16th Street to 70th Street by creating a double decker freeway:

The proposed expansion of the I-94 east-west freeway between 16th and 70th streets in Milwaukee will be accomplished in the traditional way by adding a lane of traffic in each direction, state transportation officials said Tuesday.

Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb said the state has rejected a costly double-deck option for 2,000 feet of the corridor through the cemetery area immediately west of the Stadium Interchange.

The revised cost of the eight-lane expansion is estimated at $850 million — less than the $1.5 billion estimate for the most expensive option, Gottlieb said.

For the short stretch west of the Stadium Interchange, the department has proposed converting the outside shoulder to a fourth lane in each direction.

So we are still getting a fourth lane in each direction but losing an emergency shoulder lane instead. How completely unimaginative.

Has anybody from DOT actually ever visited other urban freeways? Didn’t anyone ever consider reversible express lanes? Sounds like a perfect solution for traffic flows that are pretty ‘time of day’ sensitive.

Those goofy movable center strips work just fine to move traffic one way or the other depending on time of day needs for the Hoan Bridge reconstruction. I wouldn’t advocate that method for this expansion but typical reversible express lanes would just be the thing!

And did they really decide it was the wrong thing to do or did the thought of additional borrowing to pay for highway construction dissuade them? I am not sure that even the Republican legislature has the stomach for more highway borrowing.

P.S. My original thoughts on the rebuild!