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, June 27, 2007

Immigration Bill and the “R” word

I would call this Immigration Bill the bad Senate bill that just won’t die! Like the mythical Phoenix, just when you thought it was dead and gone, it emerged out of the ashes again.

The vast majority of Americans oppose this bill. They have voiced their opinions to their Senators, but their sentiments, against making 20 – 40 million illegals legal, have been chalked up by some to being racist.

But that is not the “R” word I am referring to. My “R” stands for RETIREMENT.

In our household, the “R” word is starting to frequent our conversation and thinking. Most 50-somethings start thinking ahead (and hopefully planning ahead) to that exciting and uncharted ground of retirement. My husband and I are no different.

If you look over Your Social Security Statement, provided every year by the Social Security Administration, it always ends with a cautionary statement.

The disclaimer roughly says:
there are 36 million Americans age 65 or older...unless something is done soon, in 12 years we will begin paying more in benefits than collected in taxes...without changes, by 2041 funds will be then those over age 65 will will then pay about 74 cents on the dollar (about a 25% reduction).

“We will need to resolve these issues soon to make sure Social Security continues to provide a foundation of protection for future generations...”

So now our Senate is working hard to increase the burden on an already stressed program? What do you think adding 20 million more non-contributors (plus their family members) will do to the solvency of Social Security?

We saw how willing our Congress was to start any unpleasant dialog about reforming Social Security. When the President tried to introduce the idea of voluntary privatizing of a tiny % of Soc. Sec. contributions, no one really wanted to address it. I don’t hold out much hope of any real reform until the fund is nearly bankrupt.

There are 100s of reasons to oppose the present Immigration Bill. If we cannot manage monitoring the return to their home country of those persons on a legal visa now, how are we going to monitor an additional 20 – 40 million? Can you imagine the additional bureaucracy required to attend to all of this? How is it that someone starts their legal status in our country by first violating our laws? Etc., etc. etc.

This legislation reminds me of someone who has severed an artery, but the Doctor is so concerned with the patient’s cholesterol level, weight, skin condition, etc. that the patient dies in the mean time. In triage, the life threatening problem is controlled first; then the other needs of the patient are dealt with.

We need to secure the border first, then work out what to do with those illegally here.

The impact of adding these illegals to Social Security and Medicare is real and will have a devastating affect on all who are receiving or hoping to receive any Soc.Sec. benefits.

Call or email your Senators. They are in favor of this bill They need to hear from you again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It is worth saving

This is long overdue... Garlic Mustard be gone!

Early in May, about 60 residents of various ages met at Mary Knoll Park for the 3rd Annual Weed Out. Despite the light rain earlier in the day, spirits were high, and the rain in fact, made the pulling easier.

Prior to the Weed Out, some people commented to me that attempting to rid an area of Garlic Mustard was a lost cause. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the decline in mustard population at Mary Knoll when compared to my Weed Out experience 2 years ago.

Patty Gerner showed me an area now chuck full of Jack-in-the-Pulpits that years ago used to be solid Garlic Mustard.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit - above

What made the difference?

She kept pulling the offenders out, and the area returned to native woodland plants. There are now 100s of Jack-in-the-Pulpits at Mary Knoll.

Yellow Violet - below

It is a lot of work, but saving our native Wisconsin wildflowers is worth the effort. It pays to pull out the mature weeds to keep them from going to seed. (The seeds stay viable for 10 years.)

My hat is off to Patty. Her efforts show that it is still possible for an individual to make a difference.

Ten years ago she was bothered by the increasing prevalence of Garlic Mustard in our neighborhood parks but did not whine for our government to solve her problem. Instead she did something about it herself—she mounted her own personal war on the weeds.

She has worked hard over the years pulling weeds and raising local awareness. A few years ago she entered into a cooperative effort with Gary Majeskie from our Park & Rec. Department and they now assist in the process. It would be great to see more of this type of public involvement.

After a very productive morning, Patty and Gary admire the bags of pulled weeds. (Another pile of full bags was stacked at the southwest end of the park.)

Weed control links: garlic mustard and garlic mustard's pretty cousin, Dame's Rocket. (It can take over native areas too.) Garlic mustard should be thrown in the trash and labeled Garlic Mustard--do not compost!

LINKS::Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Brookfield7,

Senator Kohl and Feingold's response

June 14, 2007

Dear Mrs. Prast:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I always
enjoy hearing from people back home in Wisconsin, and would
like to take this opportunity to address your concerns as they relate
to immigration reform.

I am deeply concerned about the current state of our
immigration system. As you know, Senate recently considered S.
1348, the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007," in
an effort to help repair our broken immigration system.

First and foremost, I believe that we need to control our
borders and vigorously enforce our laws. I will not vote for any
bill that does not accomplish this goal. To this end, S. 1348 would
add thousands of additional border patrol agents and authorize the
use of the National Guard to help secure our borders. It would
wisely increase the use of technology - including unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs), cameras, and motion sensors - so we can better
monitor who is trying to cross our borders. It also includes a
much-needed employment verification system, so that employers
can determine who in this country is eligible to work and punish
them when they employ those who are here illegally. These and
various other provisions in the bill would provide our immigration
officials with both the resources and the authority they need to get
control over our borders.

Border security alone, however, is not the entire solution.
We must also be practical about how to deal with the millions of
undocumented immigrants currently in this country. I do not
believe it is realistic to think we can deport them all. For those
hardworking, law-abiding people, who have been here for years
and set down roots in our communities, it is reasonable to allow
them to earn citizenship over a significant time period. This is
neither amnesty, nor automatic legalization.
The Senate-passed
bill requires undocumented workers to pay significant fines for
violating our immigration laws, work for a number of years, learn
English, follow our laws, and pay their taxes. Only then would
they be eligible to go to the back of the citizenship line. In other words, the bill will have given them the opportunity, over the course of eleven or twelve years, to demonstrate that they deserve to be Americans.

On June 7, 2007, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on S.
1348 by a vote of 45 to 53. I supported cloture because, although
not perfect, the bipartisan compromise strengthens our borders,
establishes serious penalties for employers who hire illegal
workers, creates a guest worker program and addresses the
millions of people who are here illegally. I will continue to work
with my colleagues to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I
appreciate knowing your thoughts on this important issue.


Herb Kohl
U.S. Senator

June 13, 2007

Dear Mrs. Prast,

Thank you for contacting me regarding immigration reform. I appreciate hearing from you.

I have consistently supported efforts to enact comprehensiveimmigration reform. We need a comprehensive, pragmaticapproach that secures our borders while also fixing our brokenimmigration system and addressing the estimated 11 million to 12million undocumented immigrants in this country.

As you know, on May 21, 2007, the Senate began consideration ofS. 1348, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. However, on June 7, a motion to end debate on the bill failed by avote of 45-50. I voted in favor of ending debate because, although I have very serious concerns about the bill, I wanted to move theprocess forward toward solving this difficult problem.

I supported efforts in the Senate to improve the bill, but a lot moreneeds to be done. I have doubts about whether the earnedlegalization program, as currently drafted, provides a workablesolution to the problem of undocumented immigrants. I am alsoconcerned that the temporary worker program does not do enoughto protect U.S. and foreign workers.

There are some positive aspects of S. 1348. For example, the billcontains critical provisions to increase or improve the personnel,equipment, infrastructure, and other resources our country needs toprotect the border. Border security is an essential element of anycomprehensive reform of our immigration system.

I hope that the Senate will still have the chance to address the need for comprehensive immigration reform. If the Senate resumesdebate on this legislation, I will work with my colleagues to fix thebill's flaws.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views with me.I look forward to hearing from you in the future.


Russell D. Feingold
United States Senator
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