Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Black and Voting

John, a small unassuming gentleman who is retired, lives on the near east side. He is a bit shy, impeccably polite, and always has a pleasant smile. One of John's friends (he has a lot of them) is Kathryn. She planned on voting and in several conversations with John she learned of his desire to vote. John had watched the ads, listened to debates, and liked what B. Obama had to say. On February 19, Kathryn offered to help John through the process of registering and voting. John didn't want to go. She coaxed him for a couple of hours and wouldn't take no for and answer. John finally gave in and got his coat on. They took bus (#1) to Winnebago St and walked several blocks west to Washington School. John was very apprehensive about voting. He lived a considerable part of his life in Milwaukee. The scars of a lifetime of predjudice became very evident to Kathryn as the afternoon wore on. He was terrified of voting due to some bad experiences much earlier in his life. He was very afraid and hesitant when entering the voting place but got through the registration and voting process without a hitch. When leaving John began to get extremely short of breath (he is not well and has been in the hospital several times of late). Kathryn asked a stranger if they would be kind enough to take John home. The good samaritan did.

Kathryn told me that this was the second time that John had ever voted.

Good for John. Thank you Kathryn. Kathryn, who is white, learned a lot about the current state of the black population in Oshkosh today. I did too. Did you?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The National Guard

Let's get this straight. I am in my extremely late 30's staring at the big six-zero. I was declared 1y for the military draft in 1967 due to being very overweight. I never served.

I asked my dad at that time to explain the role of the National Guard. When asked if the National Guard ever went overseas during a war he explained that it was not their purpose. They were to help out in the good old U. S. of A with natural disasters and to assist with keeping order among the citizens. He said they would never go overseas unless there was a major extreme war, a WWIII type disaster.

Readers: We've come a long way baby! I suggest we go back to basics with the Nat'l Guard. Bring 'em home from Iraq and save them and their families from any more separation and grief.

Ann Frisch and others were absolutely right! Paul Esslinger was wrong and I will tell him so when I see him. If you see him first, you can tell him.

George Bush and his president Dick Cheney are wrong wrong wrong for using the National Guard in this fashion.


Monday, January 28, 2008

John Lemberger for School Board

John Lemberger is running for School Board. I do not follow the school board. What little I do read does not bode well. I am fully unqualified to write about the school board, but I do know John.

John is a fifth generation Lemberger who has resided in Oshkosh. He is a very devout Christian who strongly thought about becoming a Roman Catholic Priest as a young man. He stayed in school long enough to get "Dr." in front of his name, raised a family in Oshkosh, and is still just plain "John" to me and you. He is Dr. Lemberger at UWO (where he works) but the rest of the time he is just some guy named John walking a dog on the east side. He cares deeply for this city and all who live here. He is a visionary but very pragmatic.

John has my vote in any endeavor he undertakes and I suggest you vote for him too. Here is the body of an email I received from him:


Hello, My name is John Lemberger and I am running for the Oshkosh school board because I care deeply that children have the best learning environment possible. An important part of such an environment is an effective system of neighborhood schools. I believe that children have social and emotional needs that must be met before they are ready to learn. Small, neighborhood schools do the best job of meeting those needs. Consequently, small neighborhood schools also do the best job of raising student achievement, especially for children of poverty and minority children. (I invite you to read the research yourself. A summary can be found at: was alarmed when I found out that the current Oshkosh school board was planning to close three to six more elementary schools. I have been told that if Oshkosh doesn't consolidate, we will have to lose programs. I have yet to hear a clear explanation of why we will lose programs if we don't consolidate. What is crystal clear (from talking to a wide range of people in Oshkosh) is that the proposed $46-$60 million referendum needed to fund this plan will not pass. Since this isn't slated to go to referendum until 2009 (as reported in the Northwestern), the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) will have spent several years on an initiative that will leave us with no progress towards bringing equity to the children in several schools that badly need renovation. I am therefore in this race as an advocate for retaining and renovating our neighborhood schools.This will be especially challenging because both nationally and at the state level it is likely that we are heading into a period of inflation and recession. Because of this bleak outlook on the economy, the OASD will have to move forward cautiously. A referendum in the $46-$60 million range at this time would be reckless, and I believe unsuccessful, because the voters in Oshkosh will be feeling the economic pinch. I would support a series of smaller referenda that target one school at a time for renovation over a period of 10 or 20 years, depending on the performance of the economy.To deal with our current problems, we must work through the Wisconsin School Board Association to put pressure on the state legislature to change the school funding formula. The state formula for school funding is a disaster. The Oshkosh school system isn't broken; the state funding formula is. I disagree that we have to "fix" our school system because of the budget problems the funding formula creates. Until the state changes the formula, we should ask through an annual referendum to exceed the state budget caps. The people of Oshkosh are smart and pretty generous. They understand the problem with the state funding formula and budget caps. I think the current BOE is underestimating the people of Oshkosh by not asking for permission to exceed the caps to save our neighborhood schools and programs.Please vote for me on February 19th (primary) and April 1st and I promise that I will be a strong voice for neighborhood schools. Thanks, John

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Main Street

Main Street will be redone in the next few years. There has been far too little attention and interest in what might be done.

Ideas range from the practical cement and curb to closing down the street to all vehicles except buses, cabs, and emergency vehicles (much like Madison's State St.).

One of the most exciting events downtown happened last fall during the Gallery Walk. The Running of the Goats, the student drinkfest, was called off but the gendarmes didn't get the message. The gendarmes were out in force ($$$) walking in pairs ($$$) and had blockaded ($$$) Main Street from the New Moon Cafe to Church St. Note that groups of students had scheduled bar-hopping events before which coincided with the Gallery Walk and there had been no problems.

The students canceled, the gendarmes spent a lot of taxpayer's $$$ needlessly, but the fun part was the street was blocked off. There was expertly done street theater happening downtown. My companion noted that a fellow on very high stilts and a very elaborate costume was far too good to be an amateur. She said it was as good as Cirque du Soleil. I agreed. The next day's Northwestern proved that right. It was Cirque du Soleil doing an impromptu show for the Gallery Walk.

We don't need all the $$$ gendarmes $$$ downtown, but YES: Close Main Street for the Gallery Walk.