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, August 25, 2010

America's National Park Service turned 94 this week

Did you know America's National Park Service just turned 94? The National Parks Foundation sent out an email this week to commemorate this birthday on Aug. 25th.

It read, "Turning 94 is a cause for celebration! ...Known to park rangers as Founders Day, this anniversary reminds us that America did something unprecedented when, at the urging of its citizens, it preserved millions of acres of pristine wilderness for the enjoyment of all people in perpetuity. Today that wilderness is called Yellowstone National Park. It was the world's first national park and remains an inspiration to our nation and the world."

Since we recently returned from our annual week and a half vacation at Yellowstone, the email caught my eye. Was that why Yellowstone chose August 25th as the grand opening date for their new, $27 Million dollar Old Faithful Visitor Center?

This new center has been under construction for 2 summers now, and the size of it is immense. Unfortunately, it seems out of scale to its surroundings and rather out of sync with the non-intrusive philosophy of the park system. My spouse quipped it reminded him of Disney's Blizzard Beach chalet. (It does!)

Many of us who frequent the geyser areas at Yellowstone wish they would have put a little of that money into providing much needed restroom facilities, instead of building the Taj Mahal of Visitor Centers. After all, people come to see the park's natural wonders, not museum displays.

I'm not asking for much, just an additional outhouse here and there. At present, one lone outhouse serves the entire Upper Geyser Basin trail area (where Old Faithful is located), and 2 serve at Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Geyser area--better plan ahead, there is always a line of at least 15 people there. Four geyser areas in this 12 mile stretch have no facilities at all.

Now most people don't expect the same creature comforts at a National Park as they do at Disney World, but this is where the Park Service could learn a few things from Disney. Disney provides ample restroom space that is kept pretty clean, considering the traffic volume. The Park Service provides woefully inadequate restroom facilities, some being absolutely filthy, for their 3.2 million or so visitors each year.

Still, millions of people each year put up with restroom shortcomings in order to see these wondrous, wild places. But I digress.

If you enter Yellowstone from the northwest entrance, you travel through what is known as the Roosevelt Arch.* The inscription above reads: "FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE".

As one who has benefited and enjoyed Yellowstone and 45-some other National Parks, Sites, and Monuments, I am grateful some of these very special places were set aside for our enjoyment. (I still have many more to visit, check out the complete list.)

It is not too soon to start planning your next National Park vacation to see some of the most beautiful scenery this side of heaven. Yellowstone, for example, is still booked up through September, so it pays to plan ahead. (Check Xanterra's website for availability.) There is still time to visit one of the many parks to our south, which offer great fall and winter vacation options. Let the planning begin!

If you have questions about a park or site, feel free to email me for specifics. If I have been there, I am happy to share information.

Coming up next: Going to a National Park? Have fun, be safe, & remember you aren't at Disney World!

Past Posts: You Can Make 2009 National Park Reservations Now
Make Reservations Now for Summer 2008, includes helpful book titles

*Yellowstone is known as America's 1st National Park, set aside by an Act of Congress in 1872. Yosemite was established as a park before that, but as a State Park, not a National Park. It later became a National Park.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wisconsin's primary is 3 weeks away - who are you voting for?

Although most of us are still in summer mode and don't really want to think about politics, Wisconsin's Primary Election on Tuesday, Sept. 14th is fast approaching.

If you are inclined to donate to a campaign, do it now. This is especially true if your candidate is the underdog, such as Rebecca Kleefisch*, who is running for Lt. Governor. She needs to get the word out and advertising is expensive. Donate here.

By the way, Kleefisch just received the endorsement from Conservative Republican Glenn Grothman. There are a total of 9 candidates running for Lt. Gov.: 4 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

Governor: Some of the primary choices are easy. In the race for governor for example, only 2 major Republican candidates are on the ballot. I am choosing Scott Walker over Mark Neumann**. Though the media only mentions Walker & Neumann vs. Barrett, there are actually 9 candidates on the ballot: 2 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 3 Independents, and 1 Write-in.

For U.S. Senate, there are 4 candidates on the primary ballot: 3 Republicans, 1 Constitution Party. Hands down, I am voting for Conservative Ron Johnson (R).

In Wisconsin's 14th Assembly District (the eastern part of Brookfield, where I live, Elm Grove, and parts of Wauwatosa), there are 6 candidates to choose from. The most prominent being candidates David Coon, Dale Kooyenga, and Chris Maurer. I have met Coon and Kooyenga, and from what I see on Chris Maurer's website, they all seem to be good, conservative choices. I am strongly thinking of voting for Maurer though, because he stated at a recent forum, "This isn't a part time job". He would treat his position in the Assembly as a full time job.

Brookfield's other Assembly candidates for the 98th District (west side of Brookfield) are Republicans Paul Farrow, and perennial candidate Tom Schellinger. (Yup, the Vote Schellinger signs are popping up all over Brookfield.) Unless the planets align in a very strange configuration, Farrow will win on Sept. 14th, to face Democrat Victor Weers in November.

View the list of active candidates here. (The number of people running might surprise you. This listing includes links to the candidates' websites.)

So in the next 3 weeks, you have the opportunity to investigate the candidates for yourself. Get to know who is on the ballot and what they stand for, then vote on Tuesday, Sept. 14th.

*Lt. Gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch on Fox & Friends

**I heard today on Jay Weber that Mark Neumann's Kenosha Town Hall only attracted 30 people! As Weber pointed out, contrast that with Walker's more impromptu Hoan Bridge rally of 225 or so (my estimate). 2 points of contention: "Mr. Neumann promised he would stop the Milwaukee to Madison train [good, I'm glad to hear that] and return that money to Wisconsin residents in the form of a tax cut. How he can promise to give back these federal funds as a tax cut is beyond my ability to comprehend," [mine too] and in regard to Global Warming legislation, "Neumann did say he thought the free market would pass environmental breakthroughs and that he would not support any subsidies or government mandates on climate change legislation." That statement is also very puzzling since his company, Renewable Energy Solutions, accepts green energy subsidies all the time! (My emphasis)

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Walker rally made political hay, ad gained national attention

At a rally held in the shadow of the Hoan Bridge on Monday, Scott Walker drove home his point: "Yes we can" stop the train!

Wisconsin cannot afford this $810 million dollar train, that virtually no one will ride, and we certainly cannot afford the $10 million per year siphoned off from the Wisconsin Transportation Fund to pay for its operating costs! Or in other words, we must spend our precious tax dollars wisely on Roads not Rails. (My phrase.)

The weather was indeed perfect for that rally on Monday, but the sun didn't just literally shine on Walker and the attendees in Milwaukee, Walker also captured national attention with his "Yes We Can" stop the train ad.

Here is just a sampling: "The Wall Street Journal: 'Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a Republican candidate for governor, has been running a campaign advertisement attacking another stimulus program Democrats had hoped would prove popular: a high-speed rail link between Milwaukee and Madison', Time: 'Essential viewing,' Fox News : '...Walker, by the way, is running an ad that ties Barrett to the Obama stimulus package by way of a controversial rail project,' Politico: “Today, when Obama is in Wisconsin, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker will capitalize on all the attention to the presidential visit by holding a rally to protest the construction of a stimulus-funded high-speed train...' PBS : 'Walker hammers away at what he calls an $810 million boondoggle to build a high-speed rail line from Madison to Milwaukee,'" and more.

Walker calls our $810 million dollar "high" speed train stimulus grant a "perfect example of the out of control taxing and spending in Washington and Madison." I couldn't agree more.

If you are against the waste-of-money train, go to Scott Walker's to register your opposition.

More reading: WSJ: Wisconsin GOP Candidate Jabs Obama
What They're Saying ...Scott Walker Ad Receives National Attention

Past Posts: STOP the Obama & Doyle waste-of-money train

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

To Do List: Email Aldermen & Mayor re: Brookfield train station, Walker rally in 3rd Ward

Monday's To-Do List:

1. Email my aldermen stating my opposition to the Obama/Doyle "high" speed train station in Brookfield. Since both* Republican candidates for Governor are against the train, why move forward on this in Brookfield?

It is also important to email Mayor Ponto at

From Brookfield City News: "Tax-subsidized train expansion is not popular in our conservative community. Mayor Ponto has been incredibly quiet about the whole thing." As the posting indicated, the mayor has the power to lead and influence. I would like to see him take a strong stand against the train station.

You may also go to Scott Walker's to register your opposition to the "boondoggle" train.

And speaking of Scott Walker....

2. Attend Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Walker rally today downtown, in the 3rd Ward area: Summerfest Parking Lot P, across from Riptide Seafood at 649 East Erie Street, at 2:30 - 3:15 PM. and

*Both Scott Walker and Mark Neumann are against the "high" speed train boondoggle.

Past post: STOP the Obama & Doyle waste-of-money train

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tax the rich? Every job I had was because of richer person!

The Democrats keep talking about taxing the rich as a solution to our deficits and debt. But it isn't that we don't tax enough; it is that we spend too much!

Most Democrats* don't want to extend the Bush tax cuts because they include tax cuts to the wealthy. They also think taxing the rich plays well to the middle and lower class. They ignore the fact that the lowest income levels get a 50% tax increase (the highest increase), and every other bracket increases too, once Bush's tax cuts expire.

Taxing the rich will have a devastating affect on small businesses, employment, and our economy. As Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said, "They can talk about the wealthy all they want, but this is about stopping a job-killing tax hike on small businesses during tough economic times."

It is true: You can't get a job from a poor person. Every job I ever had was because of a rich person--richer than me at least. If you have worked for a small business, I bet it is true for you too. Think about it.

Here is a quick list of my employers:
  • Don's Super Value food store - Don owned the franchise. He employed maybe 70 locals and college students. I did cake decorating in the store bakery in my college days.
  • Shorewood Village Bakery - This was an upscale, family owned bakery, where I cake decorated after college. They employed about 7 workers. Owners worked along side employees.
  • Mullenbach's Fashions - A small custom bridal and ball gowns shop, owned by James Mullenbach. This was my 1st full time job after college where I was one of 7 workers. Little did I know the experience gained there would prove invaluable in my real job years later at Milwaukee Ballet.
  • T.A. Chapman's Department Store - Golden Thimble Fabrics. Chapman's was an upscale department store, owned by a very wealthy Milwaukee family. They employed a few hundred people.
  • The Snow Goose - a boutique on Jefferson St. where I designed and created custom clothing. I was the only employee. This business went under in less than a year.
  • Elna Sewing Machine sales at Mary Lester Fabric Stores. The sewing machine sales area within the store was owned by a sole proprietor. I was one of maybe 3 employees besides the owners. They went under also.
  • Milwaukee Ballet Costume Department. Here you might say, that is a non-profit arts job, not a small business. True. But if you look in the back of any program for the list of donors, you see if it were not for the donations and grants of wealthy patrons, the show would not go on. While I was there, the ballet company nearly went under several times.
So you see, had it not been for the rich, I wouldn't have had a job. Some of the rich business owners were barely making it themselves. Some worked right along side the employees. Some filed their business income on their personal tax return--they would be hurt by the Obama tax increase on incomes above $250,000.

In the case of dress designer Jim Mullenbach, no one worked harder, or longer hours than he did. Often he worked so late into the night, he would sleep on the cutting table after getting the work ready for the handful of employees for the next day. He knew if he didn't get the work done at night, his workers would have nothing to do the next day. Time is money and no owner can afford to have his employees sit idle while the owner prepares their work.

Most small business owners I know (20 or fewer employees) and the self employed, work long hours and endure times of plenty and famine. Plenty often means so much work that they have to work a 70 hour week. Small business owners hesitate to hire extra help because they don't know if there will be enough future work. That would be the famine--long stretches of little or no work coming in. They deserve the fruits of their labors--profits--without this new threat of higher taxes. ObamaCare taxes heaped another burden on these employers.

Obviously, none of the Liberal/Progressives spouting tax the rich understand the entrepreneur/small business owner and how they struggle to maintain cash flow and payroll. Maybe that is because they have so little private sector work experience.

Why do we care about small businesses? Because they create most of the jobs. The government defines small businesses as 500 or fewer employees. Until the recession and Obama's Stimulus, small businesses employed over half the workers in the U.S., about 60.2 million. Those 20 or fewer employers accounted for 1/3 of those workers--20.6 million. (Stimulus drastically increased the number of government employees--a drain on the economy.) The government Small Business Administration statistics web page tells us:
  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
  • Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
Small business job creators are important. The key to turning our economy around is not increasing the tax rate on the rich or anyone, it is reducing the tax burden on employers and workers.

Next time someone says tax the rich as a solution to our red ink, think of what that means to the workers, the ones who were hired by those rich. That worker just might be you.

*Democrats are betting that ending tax cuts for the rich..."Republicans say the tax cuts are critical to bolstering a feeble economic recovery. And with unemployment at 9.5%, even some Democrats are queasy about raising taxes on high earners -- a category that includes many small-business owners -- when policymakers are trying to encourage them to create jobs."

Six Months to Go Until The Largest Tax Hikes in History

Majority of Small Business Sector Facing Higher Taxes Under Obama Plan

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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