Standards... Something to remember in online journalism:

OshNW Executive Editor Stew Rieckman, Executive Editor in their online forum:

If you read the print version of the Northwestern and compare it with the Web you will notice that most of the strange, bizarre and titillating stories from Sheboygan and Fond du Lac never make into print. The reason is that the print version of the Northwestern has different standards than the Web version. So we're not selling any extra papers with the Web only content.

While I understand his point, I think this is a real problem with journalism today. The focus on the 'titillation' over substance. We understand this from the blogs and the tabloids, but you would hope that the print mainstream would hold their standards no matter the forum.

Even more in light of the anonymous quotes that the Northwestern pull from their website and publish in the print edition, as pointed out in this recent letter to the editor:

Letters: Online comments not fit to print in newspaper

I would like to question the purpose of, and helpfulness of, publishing on the "Today's Conversation" page snippets of on-line chat, especially as the chat is anonymous. Is it because you think that the published chat is somehow representative of Oshkosh, and therefore newsworthy?
How does the publishing of anonymous, apparently uninformed (no substantiating evidence is offered by the writers) opinions contribute to the betterment of our city? By all means continue the online chats -- but let's leave it there, just as we leave the bar banter at the bar. At least there we know who's talking.

How can the OshNW claim that they have "different standards" between the print and online aspects, when they use content across both platforms?

I would hope the OshNW would hold the same (high) standards for their brand no matter what the delivery method.


WI GOP's #1 Priority.....

Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) said property taxes were controlled by limiting the 2008 property tax levies of cities, towns, villages and putting the first limit - 4% - on the levies of vocational colleges.

"That was obviously a No. 1 priority of Republicans," Huebsch said.

Yep, that's right. The Assembly GOP's #1 priority is reducing the amout of money the local units of government can levy.

It is not to keep their own house in order. It is not to find efficiencies in the governmental units that they are elected to oversee. It is, when you boil it down, to pick on those weaker than they.

Why weaker? They are putting limits on local government that they are not following themselves. To quote Huebsch:

As a point of reference, the US Department of Commerce recently announced that Wisconsin's per capita personal income grew at 4.6% in 2006. With the growth in all funds spending averaging 3.3% annually, the bipartisan budget agreement appropriates almost 1.3% per year below personal income growth and lives within the taxpayers' means.

By his own numbers, he is increasing the state budget increase of 3.3% annually as "within taxpayer's means." What does his budget hold city and county to?

State Senate and Assembly leaders ironed out a compromise with Doyle Friday evening that included allowing local tax levy spending to increase the greater of 2 percent or the value of new construction
Yep - 3.3% for them is "within taxpayer's means" but far out of bounds for the local ans most accountable to the citizen's government units.

After watching how the Assembly Republican's managed their budget, I'll thank them to stay out of ours.


Rep. Ryan Creates New Govt Waste Award... Gives it to Petri!

Ryan, colleagues unveil new version of Golden Fleece award

That's why Ryan and other Republican lawmakers, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled the "Budget Boondoggle Award."

The award is their version of the late Sen. William Proxmire's "Golden Fleece" award, which highlighted examples of government waste.
Another example cited by the group was money allocated to bike paths and other "cosmetic projects" while more than 73,000 bridges in the United States are considered "structurally deficient."

Funny, I personally do not think bike paths are a waste... But, I do wonder if Ryan dropped the award off at Petri's office after the announcement (from a Petri press release)?

$286.45 Billion Highway Bill Approved by House
Wisconsin Highway Funding to Rise More Than 30 Percent

Sheboygan County will receive $25 million to carry out its plan for bike and pedestrian trails. Rep. Petri was successful in having the county included in a new program to demonstrate the value of nonmotorized transportation facilities. Rep. Petri said that "This is an exclusive group. Sheboygan County is joining Marin County in California, Columbia in Missouri, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in receiving these funds."

David Hayford Makes Sense...

OshNW Community Columnist David Hayford has been someone I have disagreed with often, however he has a good article here.

Commentary: All presidential contenders plagued by missteps, foibles, stereotypes

By David Hayford

Barack Obama is a black man. This country has never had a black person as a serious presidential candidate. The Newsweek poll cited above states that 4 percent of Americans will not vote for a black person, no matter what the qualifications. Another 4 percent are undecided.

But fewer than 60 percent of respondents believe this country is "ready to elect" a black President. Not sure exactly what "ready to elect" means. But the disparity in numbers seems to indicate that many believe fellow Americans will be adversely influenced by the color of Obama's skin. And only 57 percent believe that Obama "could get enough votes from white supporters to be elected President."
Mitt Romney has a bigger problem: 28 percent of respondents in the Newsweek poll stated they will not vote for a Mormon for President. And nearly half believe that America is not "ready to elect a Mormon president." That rates highest on the bigotry scale.

One might have thought that JFK, the first Catholic president, destroyed the religious denomination test nearly half a century ago. Or Richard Nixon, a Quaker, as a member of a "non-mainstream" sect. But one would, evidently, be wrong.

I believe an Obama vs. Romney campaign would be fascinating. Perhaps Americans would vote for principles over prejudices. Wouldn't that be a giant leap forward for mankind? It would not end bigotry and racism in this country. But it would be a step in the right direction. It probably will not happen.

Dane County to Remove Inmates From Winnebgo County Jails

The OshNW has this story today:

County will no longer house Dane County inmates
By Jennifer K. Woldt
of The Northwestern

A canceled contract for housing out of county inmates will result in Winnebago County losing more than $1 million in annual revenue.

Winnebago County Sheriff Michael Brooks learned earlier this week that Dane County will not renew its contract with Winnebago County to house approximately 60 of their inmates at the Winnebago County Jail.

The contract called for Dane County inmates to be held at the Winnebago County facility at a rate of $51 per day, Brooks said, which brings in about $1.3 million in revenue to the county. Brooks said the removal of Dane County inmates will happen in a "phased out" manner.

At the last meeting, I discussed the possibility of this, in the context of this Dane County Press release:

Falk, Mahoney Agree: More Public Safety, Less Cost in 2008 Dane County Budget

Some of the new deputies will be used to staff the expanded use of the electronic monitoring program from the current 40 to 60 inmates to 200 inmates. “This was one of the recommendations included in the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILLP) audit by Alan Kalmanoff,” Falk said of the report which stressed modernizing some of the county’s policies to promote more public safety and cost efficiencies.

With the expansion in electronic monitoring and several other key proposals which hold inmates more accountable than does the Huber Center, Falk said the county will reduce its costs of shipping inmates to other counties from more than $2 million to $150,000.

This could make a big dent in the budget. And it shows that we need a comprehensive study of the jail needs.

I propose that it be conducted as a joint effort between the offices of the Sheriff and the County Executive.

We need to make sure there is more than one set of eyes looking at the numbers. It may well be that we need to expand jail space, but I want to know that we are looking at a comprehensive picture of the situation, both from a view of jail needs and the current political reality of WI budgeting.