Sunday, January 29, 2006

IS IT 2008 YET?

That was what the bumper-sticker said...spotted on Algoma and Jackson St. this morning.

Cheryl Hentz is in the news today. She scooped the Northwestern. Good for her. It is apparent to me from this terminal at the Oshkosh Public Library that blogging is changing the way that news is done. It may seem like slow change to some, but to others the change is abrupt and rocky at times. My own mini-revelation came when the Northwestern put a news item on page one about six days after I posted the same item on my blog. About December 27 I told how the Salvation Army bell-ringers had collected in excess of $113,000 in the kettles with more money to be counted. This was 'news' almost a week later in the Northwestern. Stew Reickman sez: "...Call us lazy, call us incompetent, call us corporate stooges...". Do I need to?


The Oshkosh Public Library now closes at 6pm on Fridays. Many haven't got the message and traffic is steady between 6 and 7 and folks are unhappy. The cheap shot is to stand by the entrance and remind people that someone has to pay for the Iraq War and those tax cuts for the rich.


Education about smoking might help, but the real education is at the transfer center for the Oshkosh Transit System. Our young impressionable children get to watch the bus drivers race off the bus between runs and light up. Would it be too hard to ban smoking on the transfer center property? This was done in Appleton. It works.

In Appleton

When the transfer center banned smoking the smokers went across the street to the Appleton Public Library to light up. Then the library banned smoking in the parking lot.

Oshkosh Public Library

Why is it that there is not one, but two big smelly ashtrays right by the entrance?

Any ideas folks?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gender and Sexual Identity

A forum was held two Sunday evenings at the First Congregational (UCC) Church on this subject. I missed the first one but was very glad I went to the second one on January 22. I frankly didn't know what to expect. Intimidation and disgust are two things which have never occurred to me in the presence of gay people, but I feel both of those things when I hear the name Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and that Oshkosh oozer of viscious hate: Teno Groppi.

In my years in the barroom music business in Madison I routinely went to the Monday night jams at the Washington Hotel on West Washington St. The hotel was gay-owned, the patrons were gay-straight, and it attracted a university crowd. The Monday night blues rivaled the finest Chicago might offer. It was a moment in time, cherished and never to be repeated since the hotel went up in flames some time ago.

Music is a common bond among people, it was music that brought the races together in the last century and this fellow feels that music will play a big part in breaking down gender barriers and ending needless hate.

Susan Allen led the forum. She is the faculty advisor for "Support the Rainbow", the gay-straight alliance at Southwest High School in Green Bay. 'From Right Wing Evangelist to Advocate for Gay Youth' was the forum title. Kay Springstroh sent me a formal invitation and greeted me at the door about 5:50pm. There was a wonderful snack table with several tasty soft cheeses. The program started late and I don't think the public address system was on.

A kiosk next to the podium advised the audience of 'rules'. It advised participants to be courteous and to have respect toward others. The first rule was a new one for me: NO BIBLE BINGO. I never asked what this was supposed to mean but I caught on. Bible Bingo is when people argue over particular verses to prove points. It never works. Many different points of view can be 'proven' by using bible verses which seemingly contradict each other. I like the term Bible Bingo.

Sue Allen has an interesting story to tell. She was a bible-thumping evangelical right-wing Republican for 20yrs and believed homosexuality was a sin. In her words: "So how in the world did I ever get from that point of being such a self-righteous, intolerant, born-again Christian living in Milwaukee, to being a single mother of three in Green Bay, who is an active ally and supporter of homosexual rights?" She then detailed in increments how her thoughts changed over the years.

She had the audience play games. One scenario had the 'most macho man' stand on one side of the room and the 'most feminine woman' on the other. Then she looked straight ahead at the audience and commented that the rest of us were somewhere between the man and the woman. (I have always felt that all women were 10% male and all men 10% female.)

Things I learned...
  • One baby in 2,000 is born with Down's Syndrome.
  • One baby in 1,600 is born with damage or disfigurement in the groin area.

Disfigurement in the groin area is more common than Down's Syndrome. We are, of course, familiar with Down's Syndrome since we can see it! We can't see the other.

M.D.'s are sometimes at a loss which sex to check on a birth certificate. Sometimes they must act immediately to make the excretory organs work to save the life of a baby. Years ago the slip of a knife during a circumcision might lead the Doc to 'make' the baby boy a girl. Life is not black and white but many shades of grey. Add color and it's a rainbow.

Co-Pastors Ralph and Carol DiBiasio-Snyder made everyone feel at home. Go here:

The United Church of Christ (Congregational) has been at the forefront of social change as long as I can remember. Their theme "That They may all be One" is demonstrated constantly by their actions.

One man who attended has a gay son who teaches High School in another state. This man worries for his son. Every person hopes the best for their children.


Sunday, January 22, 2006


Unfinished business...
There will be some answers to the Mein Kampf / Omro item in my column later this week, possibly Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned.

I heard this next story on the streets downtown Saturday. Funny how little it takes to amuse me. A mentally challenged man who wanders around downtown is the focus of this. He has a beard and a large belly which precedes him by quite a distance. OK. He looks quite pregnant. He needed to do some shopping Friday and found an individual who would take him out to the bright lights and sounds of the frontage roads of Hy. 41. While going down Koeller he remembered he needed a 12-pack of Pepsi. Copp's being handy the driver offered to stop there. "No, no", was the reply. "Take me to Mall-Wart. It's cheaper there." The driver navigated over '41 at 9th St. and pulled into the parking lot. A 1/2-mile walk later they arrived at the Pepsi display and trudged back toward the checkout. Nearing the van he exclaimed what a rip-off it was...over 4-bucks for a 12-er of Pepsi with tax. The driver looked over the receipt: $3.88 plus tax. They sat in the van for a few minutes and having no where to go---and all day to do it in, got out and trekked the 1/2-mile back to the Pepsi display, receipt in hand. Sure enough the sign said $3.88 and not the $2.88 they imagined. They left Mall-Wart. The mentally challenged man has pretty good control of his wallet and knew he had paid far too much for the soda. He's not so sure he'll go to Mall-Wart anymore.

The moral: Even folks with half a brain know they aren't getting any deals at Mall-Wart.

A quick check of this morning's Northwestern shows those Pepsi 12-packs are $2.50 over at Target. Don't get trampled in the rush.

Those of us with slightly more than half a brain, (I hope this includes me), realize that when the Mall-Wart supercenter opened, about 250 local people lost their health insurance, i.e. the employees of Cub Foods and the Pig by the airport. At Wal-Mart a very low percentage have their high-priced, low payout health plan.

The net result of this is that some folks are not receiving needed health care and the ones that do are unable to pay. This forces health costs upwards.

Remind a Wal-Mart employee that changes are possible. Have them contact Grant Withers at the local office of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). It's in the phone book.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

May You Live in Interesting Times

Google has about 133,000 hits for the above term. I clicked on the first one and after ten minutes gave up. It may be Scottish in origin but also may be a Sci-Fi invention. The one thing it isn't: Chinese!

Lots of news...

Attendance at Father Carr's Mens Shelter over the weekend: about 11. The numbers increased by Monday and he housed about 20 men. My moles tell me that this is the largest number of men housed since the current shelter opened (Capacity 75-beds). I was also told that numbers were up in the Women's Shelter (same capacity), but I have no idea what 'up' means. This is good news. Desperate folks have a roof over their heads. Anyone who has checked job listings in the valley will note that the jobs are in Neenah, Menasha, and Appleton; not Oshkosh. I will continue to post, review, and update these numbers. Thanks to all that keep me informed.

I wish that Stew Reickman would begin blogging again. I enjoyed his writing. It gave a degree of depth to how his mind was working in regards to what went in the Northwestern. At the moment he appears to be putting to practical use the philosophy of Xavier Onassis. At various times in each one of our lives I think we all have used this modus operandi.

The first but not the last...

I am breaking this story. Remember you heard it here first. I have it on good authority but haven't tracked back on each part of it so will not be publishing many details today, just the skeleton outline. It is scary and will reverberate throughout the state.

A high school English student from Omro was given an assignment which involved the student picking their own source material. The student decided to use 'Mein Kampf'. A book on this was checked out from a library and internet sources were also used. (Reader: Please brace yourself.) 'A' national security agency called the student's parents and questioned why the student was studying this subject.

I'm going to leave it there today while the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you shiver. You won't hear the end of this one for quite a while. Is that what we want our tax dollars used for?


Monday, January 16, 2006

Bringing the Martin Luther King Holiday Home

Who'd a thought...?

A gentleman from town is going to be slightly mad at me for posting this, but I can't resist. He drives a large white truck with 'Salvation Army' on the side. You may have encountered him over the years. He has today off. The Salvation Army recognizes the holiday and is closed. It was a year ago that I had a brief conversation with him. I asked him if it was a paid holiday. With a wide grin he said: "Yeah".

Four decades after "I have a dream...", this guy has the day off -and it's a paid day off to boot! Success is sometimes measured in small increments. This might be small or large depending on how you view it. It is definitely a great achievement.

Who'd a thought this possible in the city of Oshkosh in the early 1960's?

Who'd a thought...?

Poem for Gary

Yes Rachel. I get the subtle hint. Damn. You are so eloquent...

Captive Man
His hands in the dim light of a slow death
tremble at the need of a deceitful sin.
A captive man until his final breath,
He'll do it again and again.
Captive man, if I could
I would set you free
Captive man, if you would
please turn and flee
you would and should
If only...
In the other room I hear death at the door
The captive sooner to be free
I hear labored breathing and coughing
Captive man, no more excuses from you anymore
Your death at the hands of the pleasing soft glow
Will also be mine from loneliness
I just want to let you know
If only you would stop NOW
Then there would be none of this!
written on Jan 15, 2006 by Rachel Chapin Aka Angel Aiken

Monday, January 09, 2006

Comments on Northwestern Story

I appreciate Alex Hummel's work on the Father Carr story Sunday. He has laid a good foundation for future stories. Here are a few gut comments on a few items...

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'...

When Fr. Carr goes to the movies, everybody goes. He's not going to leave anybody back at the shelter where they might raise hell or smoke a cigarette. Anyone who saw this entourage saw the sum total: Fr Carr, one or two helpers and 100% of the clients. This means even the theatre employees know the count.

Note that my contention right along is that the big news story is: No One Stays There! If Green Bay is housing 90 at their main shelter, it would make sense that Oshkosh would be housing 40 to 50 (using population figures as a gauge).

My moles tell me that Carr's shelter for men housed:
  • December 20 -4
  • December 27 -5 or 6
  • January 8 -10 or 12

On shelter client curfews...

Carr not only prefers day shift but looks for excuses to boot out anyone working 2nd or third shift. If he follows what was said in the Northwestern he will have a stressful time the next few months learning to deal with odd work hours. Time will tell. We all know that the last person hired for any job gets the worst hours. My neighbor just started a new job: reported midnite Sunday for the first day of work.

Not only does Fr Carr want day shift jobs, he considers signing up for Temp Services as not even a real job. He expects clients to get real jobs...40hr day shift jobs. Maybe someone could ease him into understanding the reality of 2006. The Temp Services provide jobs that can be rolled into those real jobs after a while.

The fact that he had 10 or 12 clients the night of January 8 is encouraging. The Northwestern article was probably influencing Fr. Carr before it even came out.

As long as it's cold out, this story ain't going away.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Many deserve a 'Thank You' today. The Northwestern Staff and all the people who nudged the Northwestern to do a series on poverty and Fr Carr.

There is a lot more to come.

What has been accomplished (in my eyes) today?

Current residents of Carr's homeless shelter have a better chance of keeping a roof over their heads than they had last week.

I have my moles. If someone is booted out of there inappropriately it will become public in a matter of hours.

This is a great start. Thanks to all of you who helped.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Governor Doyle in Oshkosh

Mr. Doyle came to town today. The parking lot of the Oshkosh Public Library was jammed when I arrived a bit past noon. He was scheduled at noon, arrived at 12:30, did not apologize, and was met by an attentive crowd of 125. He gave a short list of accomplishments and then began taking questions. He was engaging, friendly, and relaxed. Folks wrote their questions on a form, an aide would call them by name, and they stood up and got to ask the question in person. He took the time to fully answer each question and reminded the crowd that he answers questions by mail too. He certainly is a political pro.

Doug Boone asked him about campaign finance reform. He gave a decent answer but not the answer you'd expect from someone who was adamant about it. Perfunctory...maybe lukewarm. I have been hearing about this subject for 30yrs, just hearing about it.

The P.A. system gave out at 12:55pm but most could still hear everything.

Things I learned...

Mr. Doyle's father grew up in a house about three blocks from the Oshkosh Public Library. That I never knew.

The Doyle administration has sold seven state airplanes. If I recall correctly the Wisconsin State Air Force had 29 planes. That would bring the number down to 22.


I quote Mr. Doyle. He used those words to describe the record profits of the five major oil companies in the quarter following Katrina. He reminded us there was never an oil shortage, no lines at the pumps. He compared the oil companies price gouging to a 'tax' none of us could afford.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006 News Recap, December '06

Readers will note that I am writing this one-year in advance. Nothing like getting a jump on the news...

Bob Poeschl is still recovering from his accident. You may remember hearing about Bob's commission to paint the ceiling of a local chapel and his subsequent fall from the ladder. Many were surprised that he would want to do a religious painting at all, but he did say he was "just in it for the money." He hasn't been the same since that fall, and has been seen at times babbling in tongues and claiming to communicate with long deceased artists. He is now painting at a feverish pace...12 to 18 hours a day, and refuses to take a paycheck saying: "God will provide."

Bob has joined forces with Jut M. in a new venture called "BOB & JUT'S TRU-GREEN DAPPER DIAPER SERVICE", which began due to added expenses at home. Jut says business stinks. Amanda does the 'paper-work', Jenna washes the diapers, and Jut delivers the goods in their new state-of-the-art methane powered van, the methane of course recovered from the dirty diapers. Bob has been too busy to help plus the fact that all he seems to accomplish (when he is there) is to insert bible tracts in the outgoing orders.

Ron Hardy is still behind bars regarding his arrest in November 2006 for book burning. He is charged with stealing books from UWO Polk Library and using them in his recently refurbished living room fireplace at home. It is claimed that he has routinely stolen any and all right wing books which don't suit his politics. Ron's counterclaim is that politics and censorship had nothing to do with the book burning, the real culprit was an out of control power and light bill. He also claims that the books he took were not singled out for political thought, but picked for lower creosote levels. Good luck Ron.

Tony Palmeri's website is decidedly not as hard-edged as it used to be, but is still the most popular in town. It is much bolder, sleek might be a better word. His much expanded news coverage is great but he is downplaying the recent start of war with Iran. I have an inside track on this. A student of his suggested that he might improve his website with an infusion of outside money. Tony took the dare and now has a corporate sponsor. I personally think that they could have come up with a more original name than: "". Tony says nothing has changed but some things just stick out like a sore thumb. I know he makes a few more bucks than most of us but how many people own a brand new Hummer, painted green with 'Time for Tony' on the sides and 'Tony for Governor' on the front and back? He made a big thing out of hopping a city bus to catch the Greyhound to take him to the train station for his annual trip to the Big Apple to see his brother, but was spotted out at the airport walking right past the Greyhound ticket desk and hurriedly walking out the tarmac onto a private jet. Need I say more?

Earlier this year it became public knowledge that Stewart Rieckman from the Northwestern was having his Sunday column and his blog, 'Everyday Editor' ghostwritten. Everyone knows Stu doesn't give a damn about writing anything so this news came as no surprise. The real news is that this blogger has uncovered who these ghostwriters are. This may come as a shock to some but the principal ghostwriter is none other than Kay Springstroh. Kay may not be happy about this becoming public but face it; I'd take the extra bucks if I could write as well as she does. Go girl! I was tipped off about another ghostwriter he uses from time to time by a little green man from Oshkosh. This writer has her own blog which operates in a sometimes windy city with a 'beer lodge' about 10-miles from the town the Flatlanders (Illinoisans') call E-Claire (Eau Claire). Her name is Judy and her blog is called "The Side Street". I think Judy does a good job ghostwriting and critiquing same.

Yours truly: 'Gary' has teamed up with Rev. Ralph Ovadal and spent summer weekends preying(?praying?) on tourists on the lower Wisconsin River. For more go here:

In other news a new Junior High School is scheduled to open in the old Wal-Mart building. Rev. Moon recently leased the property and is anxious to begin collecting Wisconsin Taxpayer $bucks$ under the expanded School Choice program and give our children some religion. Rumor has it that Miles MaGuire, a former employee of Rev. Moon, will go back to work for his old boss, and run the 'moonie' school.

On the national scene...

Astute readers will remember that the color-coded terror alert system has only been raised in the 2-months before the 2004 elections, at the start of the U.S./Iran War earlier this year, and in September and October 2006 just previous to the November 2006 elections. Is there a pattern here or am I just imagining things?
Readers: If I forgot something or you have something to add for the December 2006 news please post your comment here while there still is time. Happy 2007 folks.