Letters to the Editor, 4-24-13 edition
Dear Taxpayers of the Merrill School District,
As our student enrollment continues to drop in the Merrill area, the school board failed to make the cuts needed to prevent an 11.4% increase in taxes this year. Once again, we have fewer students but are demanding more money.
Over the past year, we also spent a lot of time working to change an unaffordable teacher early retirement healthcare benefit that has been in our district for the past 17 years. Our board came up with a program similar to that of most districts in our area, however when we got to the “lame duck” meeting on Monday, April 8, our proposal was nowhere to be found. Instead, the superintendent and the school board president only presented one option that was never even discussed by the board as a whole. No other options were permitted and we were not allowed to put these votes off until the new board is sworn in.
You can understand the frustration by some of us on the board when deals are cut before a meeting by a few people at the expense of ALL taxpayers. We are fortunate the taxpayers voted to eliminate some of the problems. However, we should never be allowed to vote on any financial or benefits issues during a “lame duck” session. They put these votes off all year because they did not want their names associated with the votes prior to an election, but here they are. Board members voting to raise taxes by 11.4% and to pass one of the highest cost early retirement healthcare plans in the area were: Brad Geiss, Jen Seliger, Brad Kanitz, Meredith Prebeg, Chuck Bolder and Lin Kautza. Those opposed were: Eugene Bondioli, Loretta Baughan and Kelly Collins.
Board members who voted to raise taxes, just because they could, do not understand how every business owner, landlord, farmer and family will be impacted by this decision. We have all invested a lot of money, time and commitment into our communities. Just driving to work every day, I pass numerous farms, then Church Mutual, Reindl Printing and Merrill Distributing. Each of these businesses have built two or three additions, or more, and have added employees to help grow the economy and employ our citizens.
How do we thank the people who live in and invest in our community? The board punished the business owners and home owners with a tax increase that could have been cut in half or totally prevented.
This past election was just one step needed to correct many of the missteps of the past. I hope our new members reflect upon the concerns of the students, taxpayers and teachers before relenting to the pressures of a few who think they run our community.
MAPS board member
Northwoods Citizens Can Help Reduce Property Taxes!
Rhinelander, Tomahawk and many other Northwoods school districts need your help. Over the past 20 years, the State of Wisconsin general state aid formula for school districts has morphed into a formula that no longer distributes state school aid on a uniform basis.
The formula is causing school funding for many northern school districts to fall primarily on property taxes. This imbalance is actually violating one of the two provisions in our State Constitution (Article X section 3) which states one of the primary goals of general state aid funding is to “reduce the reliance upon the local property tax as a source of revenue for public education.”
Here are a few examples which point out the wide discrepancies and problems created by the current malfunctioning school aid formula. Figures are from the 2012/2013 school year as provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Rhinelander, with 2,534 students and $2.4 billion in tax value, receives $1.2 million in state aid; Whitefish Bay, with 2,691 students and $1.9 billion in tax value, receives $2.4 million in state aid; Wisconsin Rapids, with 5,282 students and $2.1 billion in tax value, receives $32.8 million in state aid; Tomahawk, with 1,325 students and $1.4 billion in tax value, receives $0.5 million in state aid; Hartland-Lakeside, with 1,271 students and $1.4 billion in tax value, receives $3.4 million in state aid.
These glaring discrepancies are just a few out there, but they clearly illustrate that the current school funding program needs to be reworked to meet the requirements of our State Constitution.
If you would like to help fix this problem for the Northwoods and other school districts, please take a few minutes of your time and send an email with your concerns to the state budget and finance committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1, 2013.
All emails received will be recorded and presented to the committee as they listen to citizen input before voting on the final state budget for the next two (2) years. Contacting our local politicians will also help. Senator Tom Tiffany at: Sen.Tiffany@legis.wi.gov, Representative Rob Swearingen at: Rep.Swearingen@legis.wi.gov and Representative Mary Czaja at: Rep.Czaja@legis.wi.gov.
Dear Senator Johnson,
I would like to address the problem of ammunition shortages. I would like to know is there any truth to the rumor that Department of Homeland Security or any other government agency is stockpiling mass amounts ammunition thus creating ammunition shortages for the general public. If this is the case, I would like you as my Senator to explain why or try to put a stop to this act. At a minimum, expose the facts to the public. I feel this is a form of gun control and I feel it is infringing on my 2nd Amendment Rights. The people of Wisconsin need to be made aware of the true reasons why a law abiding citizen of the state of Wisconsin cannot go to their local store and buy the most common of ammunition. I look forward to your response.
VFW Post 1638 and Auxiliary have a banquet every year to honor each member for their years in the VFW. Also honor the students that entered and placed in the Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen essay programs.
We have a meal, free beverages and give our the awards. Throughout the night we have door prizes.
I’ve been chairman of this banquet for over 10 years. Myself and several other members go to the businesses in Jeffries (Bundy), Parrish, Gleason and surrounding areas, and Merrill and surrounding areas and ask for donations for the door prizes. It is amazing how these businesses from these areas donate to the VFW.
There are too many to name: So VFW Post 1638 and Auxiliary and myself would like to thank you.
To the editor:
The media is saturated with details about the firearms Adam Lanza used in his killing spree in Newtown, Conn. But information about his medical history is scarce, leading to speculation that he may fit the profile of school shooters under the influence of psychotherapeutic medications. There is a striking connection between school shootings and the use of these drugs, also known as psychotropics. Consider these:
Toby Sincino, 15, shot two teachers and himself, was taking Zoloft.
Kip Kinkel, killed his parents, two in school and wounded 25, was taking Prozac.
T.J. Solomon, 15, shot six in school, was taking Ritalin.
Eric Harris, shooter at Columbine, was using Luvox.
Jason Hoffman, wounded five at his high school, was on Celexa and Effexor.
Jeffrey Weise, Red Lake High School, killed 10, wounded seven, was on Prozac.
Matti Saari, student in Finland, killed 10 and himself, was taking an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication.
Shawn Cooper, fired two shotgun rounds at his school, was on an antidepressant.
Steve Kazmierczak, killed six and himself, while on withdrawal from Prozac.
Tim Kretschmer, student in Germany, killed 15 and himself, was taking prescriptions to treat depression.
“In virtually every mass school shooting during the past 15 years, the shooter has been on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs,” observed Lawrence Hunter of the Social Security Institute. “Yet, federal and state governments continue to ignore the connection between psychiatric drugs and murderous violence, preferring instead to exploit these tragedies in an oppressive and unconstitutional power grab to snatch guns away from innocent, law-abiding people who are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution the right to own and bear arms to deter government tyranny and to use firearms in self defense against any miscreant who would do them harm.”
Instead of more restrictive gun laws, Hunter suggests: “It is pharmaceutical makes, not law-abiding gun owners or gun manufacturers who should be held to account for the series of ‘lone wolf’ mass shootings that have occurred since the widespread use of psychiatric drugs began.”
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International states that government officials are well aware of the drugs and violence connection. “Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the FDA’s Med Watch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence,” including 300 homicides. The FDA estimates this total is less than 10 percent of the actual number since most incidents go unreported.
What is the possible mental state of the individual when taking these drugs? Take the case of Cory Baadsgaard, a 16 year old who held a high school class hostage in Washington state. He remembers the day this way: “In the morning I didn’t feel like going to school. I felt sick, didn’t feel like I could get up very well. So I went back to bed. And the next thing I remember I’m in juvie in the detention center where I used to live.” Cory says he has no memory of the incident. His crime was the result of adverse reactions to the antidepressants Effexor and Paxil.
My suggestion to “doctors” and school board: Stop drugging our kids!
Citizens of Merrill:
Over the weekend of April 13 and 14 someone decided to damage some freshly planted boulevard trees on 7th Street in Normal Park. Park and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf noticed the damage while inspecting parks on Monday. He contacted the Merrill Police Department and myself to inform me of the damage in the Second District. The damage to the trees is over $1,000. The Merrill Police Department has notified Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County to help find the people responsible. The Park and Recreation Director along with myself are asking for your help in locating the people responsible for this senseless act of vandalism. We all take great pride in the city of Merrill and our parks and are asking for your help. If you know or hear of anyone involved in this act of vandalism please contact the Merrill Police Department or Crime Stoppers of Lincoln County. Thank you.
Steve J. Hass