All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving or Thanks-getting?

How ironic. On the day set aside to "Give Thanks", thousands of people interrupted their day of thanks to leave hearth and home to stand outside inline for another annual event: Black Friday!

I was relieved that my crew decided to forgo the late Thanksgiving Day sale at the local computer store. It would have meant leaving home at about 5pm! Why, dishes were not even done yet and we still had pies to eat! At least we enjoyed a full day of "thankfulness". (The store did not open until 9pm, but if you are going to go, you have to be in the first 50 in line to make it worth your while.)

The guys at my household held off from greedfest until technically the day after Thanksgiving for their annual Thanks-getting sales. They left the house at 12:30am, stood in line until 5am, and then shopped til they dropped at about 11am. Incidentally, they were NOT the first 50 in line. They found out the lucky first 50 had been in line since 5pm Thanksgiving day! Some of those early birds were SELLING their product vouchers for $50 apiece (rather like scalping tickets).

Another Thanksgiving irony is the debut of the Tur-duck-en. I did not know what this was until after Thanksgiving. Some Food Channel guru came up with the idea that you stuff a boned turkey with a boned duck, with a boned chicken. Yes, that is right. You stuff a bird with meat and more meat! Only in America I guess!

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving ~ A Presidential Proclamation

The father of our country understood that every action he took while president would establish a precedent for future officeholders, and he kept that in mind throughout his eight years in the White House. He wanted to make certain that future presidents acted with humility and respected the separation of powers among the three branches of government.”

That quote came directly from, The Everything American Government Book. Keep that quote in mind, that George Washington understood that every action he took established precedent, as you read his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1789. Other presidents have made Thanksgiving proclamations since Washington. Tom Gehl included excerpts from Lincoln’s proclamation in his excellent blog piece, For The Giving of Thanks.

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness".

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

The Christmas & Grinch spirit lists

It seems other people found the omission of the word Christmas from all aspects of the Christmas season last year just as offensive as I did. Retailers and governmental entities must have thought they could just replace the word Christmas with Holiday and no one would notice? The Christmas omission led to the onslaught of slogans and phrases like: Happy Holidays, holiday tree lighting, holiday cookies, holiday gifts, holiday lights, holiday dinner, etc. One hospital listing the year's paid vacation days on their callendar designated Christmas as "December 25", yet named every other holiday!

But enough is enough; people are starting to fight back. The Catholic league boycotted Wal-mart last year because of the store’s anti Christmas greetings and advertising policy. Evidentially, Wal-mart felt the pinch last year and this year will again be using “Christmas” in their decorations, advertising, and customer greetings.

Two ordinary citizens in Massachusetts have started a group: Saving Christmas in Mass. The tide is starting to turn on Christmas vs. holiday because of ordinary people joining their voices (and wallets) together.

Here is my list of retailers etc. that I have heard or seen use Christmas in their advertising or decorating. Please feel free to share any I have missed.

The Christmas Spirit list:
City of Milwaukee ~ They are having a Christmas Tree Lighting
Brookfield Library ~ They are having a Traditions of Christmas presentation. This sounds interesting.
Macy's ~ Says they will use Christmas in their ads this year.
Target ~ Displays one "Merry Christmas" in a red cut out amid snowflakes in their store decorations.
K-mart ~ They used the slogan, "A Christmas to remember" in a TV ad.
Menards ~ Advertised "Christmas trees"

The Grinch list - stores etc. not using the word Christmas:
City of Brookfield ~ They had a City Tree Lighting (that is the wrong C-word!)
Best Buy ~ So far said they would not be using the word Christmas.
The GAP and Old Navy ~ They say they don't want to offend people by using the term, Christmas

I will try to update this list as I spot who is in the Christmas or the Grinch spirit. It wouldn't hurt to tell the various retailers your feelings on the subject too. And of course, you can always vote with your wallet. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go put up my Christmas Tree.

Link: Coalition to Save Christmas in Massachusettes Takes Action This site also had interesting Christmas information and fun facts

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just say NO to higher taxes Tuesday night + P.S.

Want lower taxes? Contact your aldermen before Tuesday! Why not make that all the aldermen and mayor? Just let them “know you support the effort to lower the tax levy”. It does not need to be a long email or phone conversation; it could just be a Please vote to lower the tax levy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006, the Common Council votes on the 2007 budget. Their decision Tuesday night will affect the size of check you write come Dec. 31st.

The council meeting begins with a public hearing: an opportunity for you to address the council and voice your opinion about taxes and spending in Brookfield.

Some food for thought:
A budget summary “Over a million dollars of the Mayor's budget is being taxed and then stashed using special accounting moves this year. It's not being spent on public services. The city already holds more than $155 MILLION of surplus in its working and utility funds. The budgets have overstated potential expenses by more than $4 million dollars in the last 4 years alone.”

Tuesday’s special Finance Committee meeting “When a municipality has enough stashed away to run the current government for almost 5 years, there is no threat to the AAA bond rating.”

Valid places to lower the 2007 budget “There is more than $12 MILLION in savings right now for the general fund alone. Finance committee policy suggests that only $3.7 million is necessary for good financial planning.”

Brookfield stays course on levy “The mayor and aldermen Tuesday soundly rejected (more) attempts to significantly lower the city's tax levy and rate, saying they were concerned that taxes would rise in the future.” Since we hold Millions of surplus in working and utility funds, this seems unlikely.

Surpluses bedevil Brookfield, Some aldermen wonder whether they’re doing too much taxing “In the last three years, city departments have spent almost $3.5 million less than what aldermen budgeted for them, city data shows.”

Hang onto your wallets; it’s going to be a bumpy ride

Keep in mind the CITY portion of our tax bill is less than our SCHOOL DISTRICT portion. Your higher reassessment therefore not only affects the amount the city taxes you, but also the school district. Any attempt to lower these rates is a step in the right direction. But it will not happen if you do not speak up!

Many voices can make a difference!

P.S. 2 more excellent posts: City fund balances "The city has managed to underbudget revenues and overbudget expenses for at least 10 years."

Oops, I found another million "the Wastewater fund is hording $87 million"

LINKS: and
You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When did politics become so dirty? + P.S.

VanHollen’s win and the passage of the marriage amendment were the only bright spots from yesterday’s election results for me. In spite of the 1000’s of deceptive “vote no” phone calls made by “Fair Wisconsin”, the marriage amendment still passed. I thought I heard the Governor thank “Fair Wisconsin” last night, when he gave his acceptance speech. If he did, I think that says it all about his administration.

Reynold’s loss (by about 700 votes at the time I write this)* saddens me greatly. He was brave enough to go up against the Road Builders lobby. His loss sends the message to others in Madison “Don’t cross ‘em”.

The dirtiness of the spring and fall campaigns coupled with the obvious pay to play in Madison (local level too) is disheartening. Maybe when things get bad enough, people will finally start to pay attention. I can always hope.

P.S. I am so relieved. ;-) Now that the Democrats took over the congress, Nancy Pelosi pledged that her party wanted a return to civility between the parties. Guess that means they will no longer be referring to the President as stupid, a Nazi, or worse. This is good news--I am all for civility.

Many are saying that the Republicans need to move more to the center, but I think the opposite is needed. We already have enough RINOs to repopulate all of Africa! Did you see much fiscal difference between their spending and the Democrats these past 6 years? How about a new party: The REAGANITES!

*If you recall, the Reynolds, Sullivan race was deemed a tight race the night of the election. It was called for Sullivan, with him 700 or so ahead, at the time I posted that night, but not all the votes had been counted. All Politics Blog wrote: "With more than half the vote counted, the battle for the 5th Senate District remained too close to call, according to results from WTMJ-TV (Channel 4). Democratic challenger Jim Sullivan held a narrow lead, but incumbent GOP Sen. Tom Reynolds led earlier in the night. That west suburban seat is one of three that Democrats need to win to take control of the state Senate." The final vote tally was 36,148 Sullivan to 33,686 Reynolds, a 1.2% margin of 2,462 votes.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

YES? no? YES?..... IT IS YES!!! (Don't believe the vote "no" phone calls-UPDATE)

There is so much confusion about Wisconsin’s Marriage Amendment on next Tuesday’s ballot, I thought a little clarification was in order. YES, you vote “YES” on the amendment, if you wish to protect traditional 1 man + 1 woman = legally recognized marriage. (Monday) I just received another misleading vote no phone call that blatantly lied. It said, In Wisconsin, we know a marriage is between a man and a woman. You need to vote no to keep activist judges from interfering and to protect our children! That call is totally the opposite of the truth, they are purposely trying to mislead the public. That is wrong.

I heard the amendment will be on the back of the ballot. The amendment reads: "Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.” On that amendment, I WILL VOTE YES

I believe we need to protect the traditional definition of marriage by amending our constitution. Our State and U.S. constitutions do not define what constitutes a legal marriage because when those constitutions were written, NO ONE ever in their wildest dreams ever thought marriage would be anything but 1 man + 1 woman!

Some TV and radio commercials give the impression that a “no” vote changes nothing, which led people to believe that a no vote would stop gay marriage. NOT TRUE. There is already a case pending that will be brought before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Without language defining what constitutes marriage in our State Constitution, the judiciary can rule, as they just did in New Jersey and Massachusetts, that 2 men or 2 women could legally get married.

Our country has faced many issues as we continue to slide down the slippery slope toward becoming a Godless nation. I was in 5th grade when the Supreme Court removed prayer from school and a college senior when the court ruled on Roe vs. Wade. But this decision of redefining marriage could be the issue that sets off the avalanche. If the definition of marriage changes, what is to stop it from being: 1 man or woman + 2 men or women? Worse yet, 1 man and 1 minor male? (Some groups already advocate that arrangement.)

There is nothing new about homosexuality. The very term, Sodomy, comes from the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah, which was destroyed for this practice. We know it was rampant in the Roman Empire; one Emperor (probably more) had an “Empress” that was not a woman. True, our democratic roots can be traced to early Rome, but let’s not embrace all their practices. Remeber, the Empire also viewed gladiators slaughtering people as entertainment, and Christians were used as human torches for parties.

I am not advocating gay bashing; I am just trying to protect traditional marriage. One recent letter to the editor in the Brookfield News favored gay marriage, viewing it as necessary to protect a homosexual’s adopted children in need of emergency medical treatment or to assure custody if the adopting “spouse” died. I contend that a well written legal medical authorization form and a will appointing the partner as guardian could take care of those infrequent emergencies.

If I cannot appeal to you on moral reasons, what about monetary? Imagine what it will cost to include same sex “spouses” in health insurance and pension benefits for teachers and other government employees? IF we open the door to gay marriage, live in couples will also demand to be included in spousal benefits. But the real cost is the loss of a moral standard that has held for thousands of years. It cannot be violated without consequences.

LINKS: Read Tom Gehl’s excellent post We Have Decided. and
Matt Thomas of includes Waukesha County issues from time to time