Monthly Archives: March 2007

Friday Dudley: March 30, 2007

People had requested a shot from the west side. I tried to take one from Sparta, where I spent the last couple of days, but the low clouds seemed to have blocked the view. This shot from 1st Street will have to do instead.

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A good day…

By Lisa Stahl 

…is a day when I go to La Prima and am greeted by Ben, Rollie and Cassie with soup, salad and coffee (!). I eat, laugh and am challenged by Samantha regarding a host of current events unfolding in my life. Cyrus from church, comes over to talk about Bob Dylan’s Modern Times, The Raptor Center and the importance of exposing children to nature. And as Paul Westerberg said, “A good day is any day that you’re alive”. What’s a good day for you?

Music is a Restorative Art (When the Devil Leaves the Porch Light On)

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

I confess to being burnt out, at the thin end of the spectrum, the thin part of said long tail, a little bit crispy, a tired big man.  Sad droopy eyes, and short fuse and rage in my heart.  Boredom, city life treating me badly, workload overwhelming.  All of it.  Questioning my life choices, the way I live my life, all of it.  But Saturday something changed.  A giant geyser of hope opened in front of me, and made it all right.  Made the sky brighter, the water cleaner, the soapy soapier.  It made every pen a Parker Jotter, and every laptop a Powerbook G4, and everyone interested in Web 2.0.  It was amazing.  Tom Waits sat giggling on my couch.  Yeah, Tom Waits was giggling on my couch.

All of this because I went to Scott Street Pub to see a band.  Yeah, I am a homer for the Pub — but its more than that.  Bars take on new personalities from time to time.  Right now the Pub is Mohawk Matt, and I like Mohawk Matt.  Its funny to see him change to a grown up, but that is another thing.  The live music venue reflects the taste of  the boss, or the guy booking.  It just does.  And Matt has a pretty static palate as far as music goes.  His name is Mohawk Matt, so what do you expect.

The band was Lucky Stiffs from San Fransico.  A truly amazing band.  So tight, so rehearsed, so fearless.  They are a five piece, two guitar players, a singer, a bass player and a drummer named Rico, I think.  They are on a 70 day tour, 70 shows in 70 days.  Living in a van, selling their wares around the country.  Amazing young men.

The rock power was unstoppable.  Dangerous, aggressive, and amazing.  It reminded me the difference once again between a local talent and a national talent.  Local guys kind of sing songs, smirk and go about their business.  Not willing to risk alienating anyone with greatness, they settle in the shallow water musically.  Not nationals — they come to your town, rock your socks off, drink your beer, kiss your sister, and sleep on your floor.  They play their show, and while they want you to like them, they trust themselves to rock harder than your hometown guys.  They have committed to this adventure.  They are living in the van, they love each other, and this is what they are doing.  And Lucky Stiffs do that.  They bring the heat.  They blew the other two bands away that day, and honestly they blew everything I have seen away this year.  Across all genres

I like the spectrum’s end musically.  I like bands that are dangerous, and music played with real emotion.  It had been so long since I saw risk, that seeing this risk on stage made me happy in a way that only comes from seeing real rock and roll.  It was funny to see the crowd faced with greatness, unflinching power and passion, the crowd at the pub literally shirked.  It is funny to see in so many ways.  We scream for greatness, for inspiration, for someone to rise above the tree tops — and when they do, we have no idea how to respond.  My soul leapt to heights I had not expected.

I remember a few years ago seeing a band called The Shakin’ 78’s.  They will always be one of my favorite bands.  Always.  They dared to be great, and they delivered on it.  And people had no idea what to make of them.

So I say this: “Thank you to rock and roll.”

It Must Be Nice To Be Government Owned

John H. FischerBy Dr. Rent

There will be political discussion in Madison this year, one that will probably not generate much press, but one that has landlord’s and municipal government’s closest attention, both parties waiting to weigh in.

The proposed new law has to do with municipal owned utilities.  In the Wausau area, electric and natural gas service are provided by Wisconsin Public Service (WPS).  However, the water and sewer service are provided by utilities created by the City.  Wausau Water Works provides water to Wausau residents, Weston Utilities to those living in Weston, etc.  In some communities (such as Shawano), the municipal utility also provides electrical service.

The city itself does not provide you with water, instead it is an agency owned and controlled by the city.  It may look like this is just splitting hairs, but it is legally a fairly important split.

For the most part, these municipal utilities have to play by the same rules as private utilities such as WPS.  They fall under the regulation of the Public Service Commission (for the most part, but there are some exceptions).

However, there is one tool that these utilities can use that companies like WPS can only dream about.  If a bill goes unpaid, the utility can ask its owner (the city – otherwise known as Guido) to have the past due water bill added to the property tax roll of the property as a special assessment.  That means that this past due utility bill will be a debt secured by the real estate that has priority over everything, including mortgages and civil judgments.  Wow, what a tool!  (I need a collection guy like Guido.)

You may be thinking… well that seems fair.  They need to get their money.  The problem with rental properties is that the property owner and the person who incurred the utility bill, not the same person.  A tenant can run up a $300 water bill.  Then leave without paying it, without leaving a forwarding address.  The City will try to send a final bill to the tenant, but when it comes back, they just send a copy of the bill to the landlord.  If, by late in the year, the bill has not been paid; there it is on the property tax bill.

The proposed law will not take away this power of using the tax rolls as collection.  It will, instead, make the utility make a bona fide effort to collect the bill from the party who really owes it before using that tool.

The way the system is now… if bill is unpaid, BAM-TAX BILL.  Why on earth should the utility make the responsible party pay if collection is that easy?  The proposal would put on the requirement that bills can only be put on the tax roll if they are a civil judgment against the person whose bill it is.

Wausau Water Works would have to try and locate the person, take them to small claims court, and get a judgment.  And maybe, in the process, actually collect some or all of the bill by making payment arrangements with the guilty party.  This is what every other utility (such as WPS) has to do.  If water utility has a judgment and isn’t getting paid, they will still have their secret weapon.

Will it create more work for the utility, possibly create lost revenues for bills they don’t obtain judgments on?  Yes, it probably will.  Will this create larger utility bills to recoup this cost?  Yes, it probably will (however, since they can still collect from the tax bill, I doubt it would be a significant cost increase).

Most importantly though, this law now makes the situation more fair.  Although land-owners will probably still end up paying most of these bills, at least the City had to make an honest effort to go after the responsible party.

Dr. Rent

P.S.  Madison landlords are currently facing a challenge on the municipal level.  The Sierra Club has approached the City Council, and they are seriously considering the proposal of requiring all lights in apartments either be Compact Fluorescents or LED’s.

Friday Dudley: March 23, 2007

Kind of a mooney eyed view of things.

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Remains of the Day

I have mixed feelings when any old building comes down. Are we removing an eyesore or just giving up on our history? The house that was formerly at the corner of 7th Street and Franklin was a classic piece of Victorian architecture, but had certainly seen better days. And now it is gone. Here are a couple of pictures of it coming down.

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Central WI Children’s Museum Focus Group Wants You!

Eds Note:  Along with the occaisionally talked about zoo, many parents also would like to see a children’s museum here.  Here is a way to offer your opinion.

By Christine Martens

We received this announcment at the CVB today. Maybe we don’t need a seperate Children’s Museum in Wausau- maybe a joint venture is a better way?

Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 474
Stevens Point, WI 54481

March 15, 2007
Tiffany Wilhelm
Executive Director715-344-2003
715-252-6868 (cell)
cwcmexecdir@charter.net

Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum Seeks Input from Wausau Area Families

Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum (CWCM) will host a public focus group with Wausau area families and other interested citizens on Wednesday, April 4th at 6:30-7:30 pm at the Wausau Public Library. The Museum is growing fast and is working toward an expansion. Part of the planning involves seeking out ideas on how the Museum can better serve families throughout the entire Central Wisconsin region. The one-hour meeting will be held in the third floor conference room at the Wausau Public Library. Parking is available in the parking garage across the street. The purposes of the focus group are to assess knowledge and perceptions about the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum and to provide CWCM committees with information needed to make decisions regarding the future direction of the museum.

The Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum is a non-profit family-based discovery place where children and adults play and explore together to strengthen confidence, capabilities, and creativity through hands-on investigation. The Museum opened in May of 1997 and has grown from 6,034 visitors in 2003 to 13,277 visitors in 2006. It is located in the CenterPoint MarketPlace in downtown Stevens Point; hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Daily admission is $3 per person and free for infants up to 12 months. Call the Museum at 344-2003 or visit www.cwchildrensmuseum.org for more information.