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Keeping their light under a bushel.

Village fasades.

I had the occasion to visit the Sherwin Williams paint shop on Edgewood and Oakland in Shorewood and I was quite impressed with the exterior treatment of the building, especially the Oakland street side facade.

I'm sure that the Shorewood Design Review Board had influence over its treatment and they should be congratulated.

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In my opinion, voting for the best candidates on Nov 4th is a split ticket --- Darling over Wasserman for State Senate, and Obama over McCain for President

Barack Obama, Campaign Financing, Darling, Democrats, Healthcare, Light Rail, Politicians & Politics, Republicans, State Senate, Wasserman

Nobody ever said that Sheldon Wasserman is stupid --- but he seems to be too clever by half when running for office.

Consider that it seems the Main Theme of his present campaign to unseat Alberta Darling for the State Senate is that he has saved taxpayers Thousands of Dollars by riding the bus to Madison, instead of driving and collecting mileage payments for his travels.

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Am I being unreasonable?

Local government accountability.

Even attending Shorewood Village Board meetings will not keep the ordinary citizen up to date as to what our government is doing in Shorewood.

The Board's subcommittees and standing bodies, made up of Shorewood citizens, cannot bring all the information together at a single meeting.

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Another historic improbable.

Anorher historic improbable

I wonder as to how many thoughtful Americans today, on one of the most significant election days since the days of FDR are giving any thought to the fact that a man of mixed race, one more readily accepted as a black man than as a white man is likely to become president, as a member of the democratic party, the anti-abolitionist party, the pro-slavery party of the civil war?

So-much for party labels and conservatives versus liberals. Incidentally another anomaly is that it was the liberal thought of our founding fathers that gave rise to the the development of our constitution and the democratic principles on which our nation is based, not on what Lincoln would probably today think are the superficialities of aristocracy in this country.

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Democracy. Was it always freedom of the people?

Freedom and democracy.

Thomas Jefferson, even had he not been president, would have been someone whom I would have admired because of his philosophy of government.  Abraham Lincoln held together the union, that Jefferson helped create, while abolishing slavery during the Civil War.  And Franklin D. Roosevelt, kept our country from going either fascist or communist during the early thirties, defending our country on two oceans against those who would destroy our union and our democracy.  

These three are my favorite Americans regardless of any of their personal foibles.

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If we can get away with it.

Speed limits

North Lake Drive is part of the highway system.

It extends from the freeway and then north along Memorial Drive and onto North Lake Drive through Whitefish Bay and beyond Silver Spring.

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Take the Opportunity to Downsize Your Life

As we all approach a season of debt, credit card debt, guilt, obligation and of course, joy, I think we need to educate our children in more meaningful ways of thinking about Thanksgiving and depending on your views, the next big reason to celebrate. What is actually left of them? We’ve all been succored into believing that the larger the expenditure, the more the love. Let’s bring it all down to the basics, save money, teach values and end up with the same outcomes only leave out the debt, waste, materialism and gluttony. While materialism and gluttony have always been attractive to me, they have not served me well as I sit at my annual rummage sales in pants another size larger.

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Congratulations to Shorewood Clerk, Village Staff and Poll Workers

Election, Poll Workers

 I went to cast my ballot on election day at Lake Bluff school at about 1:00 or so in the afternoon.

The entire process took less than 2 minutes.

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“we can't do that because . . . ”

Economic redevelopment

We live a in precarious and dangerous world.” This has been said many times before.

Now that we are in a financial and stock market-based recession and now that at the same time we are moving toward a number of significant social changes, many of the dangers arise out of our human built society, in fact they are built into its structure, developing there and awaiting the sparked events.

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Light more candles and go less on the humor.

Winter cometh.

We are now in November. As early as August I predicted but dreaded that Fall and Winter would come.  I make these predictions every year and the events come without fail.  I guess my hope is that I'll be wrong one of these days.

I couldn't predict how the election would turn out of course. It seems that nature is more reliable than are our institutions. But elections aren't supposed to be predictable, then what would be their purpose? 

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When a billionaire becomes half-a-billionaire.

Economic speculation

So the election is over, still proving that we want our princes and princesses and coronations.

But more importantly this event has made it clear that about 50% to 60% of Americans , in the middle of the political spectrum are for a rather free economic system, especially when everything is going right.

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Nature, beautiful but not always so kind.

Our nature.

Some of us are fortunately located here in Shorewood where over the years we've been visited by deer, raccoons, I believe even by coyotes and other sorts of animals that city dwellers should not be able to see on a daily basis.

The other day I saw a beautiful fox. Of course there are the squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits. Our bird feeder attracts many types of birds. In a sense, we might as well be in the country. We live where, in the winter time, we are barely conscious of the traffic noise of the street.

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Stop Messing With Your Tooth and Finish Your Report About How Presidents Are Elected

Children’s perceptions are beautiful. I don’t know which little bits of aural information they hang on to, or why they come to conclusions, but just conversing with them is just plain fun. They say funny things like, “I fell and I think I broke my butt.” or “I have all this stuff in my nose and it’s going up in my brain and it’s hard to think.”

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Open Letter (includes his View of the Performance of Village Board & Officials)From Tim Vargo, Former Resident of Apartments at the Now Defunct Sunrise Project

CDA, Housing, Sunrise, TIF, Village Administration, Village Board

Dear friends in the Village of Shorewood and Shorewood Village Trustees

Many of you have already informed me of Sunrise Senior Living's recent pullout from the property where I used to live and where the Riverbrook Restaurant was located.  For those of you who haven't, here's the story:

My final words at the Village Board Meeting that decided this were: "I really hope I'm wrong on my concerns and that this development ends up being successful, butSunrise does not have the Village of Shorewood as it's primary concern, it has it's shareholders."  During discussions I had brought up several cases nationally where Sunrise did this exact same thing - bought property, pulled out and sold.  Someof you assured me there was more oversight and this wouldn't be the case.

It is distressful that a Milwaukee Landmark was closed and that many low-income and diverse families were forced out of Shorewood and this latest development rubs salt in that wound.

The reason I'm writing is two-fold: 1) to encourage you to watch this development closely and to keep pressure on the Village to make smart decisions on this valuable piece of riverfront property, and 2) to give you a final rundown on how I thought the players, our elected and appointed officials, handled this case.

Winners:  Trustee's Jeff Hanewall and Dawn Anderson

These two Board Members answered my concerns in a respectful and thoughtful manner.  I didn't always agree with them but I knew that they heard my concerns and addressed them.  Justice Hanewall actually spent a half-hour with me on the phone - very well appreciated. 

Trustee Anderson addressed the concerns about credit and finances of Sunrise at the Board Meeting - and I'm not sure her concerns, prophetic as they were, were adequately addressed by the others.

The verdict is still out:  Trustee's Margaret Hickey and Michael Maher, President Guy Johnson, Village Manager Cris Swartz

Trustee Hickey was the only other person to respond to my e-mail, which I appreciated, but I was disturbed by an incident that happened at the final Board Meeting.  After the public input session while the Board went into closed discussions, one "public" individual, who appeared to be a developer  very close to Village government, was allowed to speak.  When the apartment manager later tried to do speak, Trustee Hickey shot back in an angry tone "Public input is over!".   (But apparently only for some)

Trustee Maher and President Johnson were silent observers.  Neither replied to my concerns.  I reminded all the Board members, and this is also addressed to the new Trustee, Sean Cummings, It is infinitely better to get a reply that I don't like then no reply at all.

Village Manager Swartz was respectful throughout the process.  The only thing I didn't like was his periodic comment to the effect that "either you're getting Sunrise or you're getting a huge condo".

Most frustrating: Pete Petrie, Chair CDA, Trustee Ellen Eckman, Trustee Michael Phinney, Laura Hester, Sunrise Senior Living

Pete Petrie was by far the most frustrating figure to work with.  He produced these terrible ad-hoc "studies" that showed that 100% of the communities that Sunrise were located in benefited.  Of all the people he appeared most driven to plow this thing through - and I don't know what he had to gain.  His constant threat: if we don't get Sunrise in this property, it could be five years before another proposal came through.  Not the kind of forward-thinking and patience I want from a government official over a project that will be around for many years to come.

Trustee Eckman also did not reply to my e-mails, and after I called her and the others out at the meeting, I got a list of excuses but not an apology.  Please, just be honest and straightforward.  She was also frustrating at the CDA meetings.  Her response to our concerns: "The public brought up the same concerns over a development by Downer Woods and everybody ended up loving it".  Not sure what to make of that, are you saying the public shouldn't bring up concerns and just trust the board?  (By the way, I checked with many of you residents over that development and there are a lot of people that are still very bitter about the process and the development - I don't think we can count them among the everybody who loved it)

Of course Laura Hester, the representative at Sunrise was just plain awful.  In fact, her associate came to me after a meeting saying Sunrise is working out a compensation plan for the residents of the apartment - clearly an attempt to appease and quiet us as nothing was ever in the works.  When things didn't go her way at meetings, her ire would come out, threatening to pull out, and being appeased by certain members of government.

So there you have it.  I have sinced move from Shorewood, but I hope that something good can finally come from this mess.  I hope that all of the Village Board Members take my criticism in a constructive way and that in the future you do your best as elected officials to respect and acknowledge the people you represent.  If you feel I have been unfair or misrepresented the situation I will gladly discuss things further.

For those of you who supported me and the other tenants of the apartments - THANK YOU!  Thank you for coming out to the meetings, for writing letters, for helping to spread the word.  It meant a lot to us.


Tim Vargo


Ixney On the Iner Lays and Other Friendly Advice

Hey, have you stepped outside? It’s cold out there. Children don’t necessarily pay attention to the weather; they run right over it on the way to the equipment. You won’t believe what they don’t notice. We will find kids outside with no mittens, and they don’t seem to get that you can pull your hands up into your sleeves or put them in the pockets of the warm jacket they did remember to put on. Don’t bother with gloves. They are useless to little kids. First of all the kids can’t get their fingers in them if they are lined or when they are wet, and secondly half of them don’t know left from right so it takes a lot of time to twist the glove around. Many kids don’t even consider it’s on the wrong hand. Help a teacher, buy mittens. Thrill a teacher; buy mitten clips.

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Gunga Din's Math Lesson

There are some things teachers do not look forward to and November is one of them. Report cards, which take many volunteer hours to do, parent/teacher conferences which also take hours to appropriately prepare for are the first two. More than that, it is the welcome mat for the upcoming holidays. There are some things parents can do to make their child’s school life more productive than it normally is at the end of each year. Some teachers pretty much feel that come mid-November, the idea of teaching anything new, difficult or the least bit complex should be put on hold. The kids are falling to hype just the way many of us are. November brings Thanksgiving, which brings relatives in many instances. Children are excited to hear of all the plans for the day. They go along shopping for the turkey or turducken or tofurkey and see it become the 400 pound gorilla in the room until the holiday is over. Children know that right after Thanksgiving goes out the back door, _______ (fill in special day here) comes in the front. Even if your family doesn’t celebrate a holiday during this time, school is out. This is reason enough for kids to be excited. Something different is great, as long as it doesn’t last too long.

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Now that Sunrise is Sunset --- will Village Assessor Correct Last Year's Assessment

CDA, Sunrise, Taxes, TIF

 In a March 27, 2008 posting to my blog, I noted that the Sunrise Property was incorrectly assessed for value as "vacant" land, while it actually did --- and still does --- consist of land Plus "improvements" (buildings). 

Below is  part of the posting detailing that the assessor dropped almost $600,000 of value from the property, which means all Shorewood taxpayers picked up the difference on their tax bills.

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Turkey as Metaphor

Wow, I’ve never seen turkeys being slaughtered before. I’m one of those people who operates with my fingers in my ears, saying la,la,la,la over and over again until the truth teller goes away. My meat is grown on Styrofoam. There have been a couple times in the recent past, however, that caused me to erase my vote for eating meat. One was a newscast showing how Foie Gras was actually made. Stretching a goose throat and forcing it to feed was horrifying. I’ve never ordered it, but never complained about it either. This turkey slaughter debacle was the other. Shoving a turkey head first into a machine that punctures, then drains the turkey of its life blood was not easy to watch. “Well, where do you think turkey dinner comes from?” I ask myself as I’ve asked my students through the years. Seeing it was something different.

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Grandma 2, Willpower 0

Boy was that turkey good.

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Did You Ever Wonder Just How Long It Takes to Knock On A Door ?

Darling, Election, Politicians & Politics, State Senate, Wasserman

During his recent campaign to unseat Alberta Darling for the 8th District State Senate  --- Sheldon Wasserman emphasized that a Major Component of his Campaign was going "door to door" throuhout the district, to meet as many voters as possible "face to face".  He has said that this practice helps him to keep in touch with the thoughts of the folks in his district.

In this last Campaign, Wasserman says that he knocked on 24,528 doors during the year leading up to the election.

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