Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Molly Ivins was always a Democrat, but never a party hack and in her later years grew ever more frustrated with the Republican-lite goo oozing from the mouths of the party leadership. Her announcement in January of 2006 that she would not support Hillary Clinton for President has the kind of progressive vision and passion that I think she would want to be remembered for. I'll close with a lengthy quote from that piece.
AUSTIN, Texas — I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.
Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone. This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.
The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.
If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes." Bobby Kennedy — rough, tough Bobby Kennedy — didn't do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.
What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.
The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
*Tonight at 7 p.m.
*Thursday at 7 p.m.
*Saturday at noon and 4 p.m.
*Sunday at noon and 4 p.m.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The 300 word statement:
City government is broken. In recent election cycles candidates have told us that if elected they would be taxpayer friendly and ask tough questions. Instead we have gotten garbage fees, buck passing, and blatant open meetings law violations.
We can and must do better. As a member of the Council I will fight for open and accountable government, quality services delivered efficiently, and strong neighborhoods.
I’m 45 years old, own a home near City Hall, and have been a resident of Oshkosh for 18 years. I’ve taught at UW Oshkosh for all of those years. In addition to teaching I have served as Chair of the Department of Communication, President of the Faculty Senate, and president of the Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals. I’m currently serving as President of the Wisconsin Communication Association, an organization that named me “Communication Educator of the Year” in 2004.
Many Oshkosh residents recognize me from the public affairs television show “Commentary” I co-hosted with former Mayor Jim Mather, or from “Eye on Oshkosh” which I co-host with Cheryl Hentz. On those programs I have developed a reputation as someone who does his homework, asks tough but fair questions, speaks truth to power, and helps educate the community on important issues. I will bring those same qualities to the Council.
Our community faces some difficult issues over the next few years, including how to attract and create family supporting jobs, how to deliver basic services in an era of tight budgets, how to redevelop downtown, and many others. The current Council and City Administration have not gotten the job done, and as a result citizens no longer trust or believe that local government is on their side.
If elected I will work hard to restore public trust in local government.
The Responses to Questions:
Northwestern: Assess the performance of the city manager over the last year? Is it improving, declining or holding steady? How can it be improved?
Palmeri: Declining. In the part-time elected Council/full-time hired Manager form of government that we have in Oshkosh, the City Manager as a practical matter has to display visible leadership on all major quality of life and economic development issues. We’re not getting that kind of leadership today, mostly because the City Council has not insisted on it. City Manager Wollangk’s performance will improve when the City Council communicates to him in a clear, assertive manner that in the future he will be held accountable for Five Rivers and garbage fee style fiascos.
Northwestern: Is the amount of community leadership provided by the council not enough, too much or just about right? Why or why not? Please explain your answer.
Palmeri: Not enough. Community leadership requires working with citizens at the grassroots level to get their concerns addressed and needs met. Citizens in our community working on neighborhood improvement, poverty, housing, open government and other issues typically do not view our Common Council as part of the solution. Rather, the Council is seen as part of the problem because it is perceived as paying too much attention to favored special interests and not enough to the average citizen who pays the bills.
Northwestern: As the city finds more of its budget used to pay for basic services, what should be the role of public-private partnerships to fund quality of life projects, (such as the maintenance of Opera House Square, Pollock water park, Menominee Park Zoo?)
Palmeri: We need to continue to encourage the creation of public-private partnerships that result in developments that benefit the city at-large, such as the water park. The City Council needs to make sure that the “public” contribution to the partnership is reasonable and discussed fully in open session before any agreements are made with the “private” entity.
Northwestern: What should the city do with the convention center? Sell it, expand and renovate the facility or tear it down? How would you pay for improvements?
Palmeri: More visitors to Oshkosh means more customers for local businesses. Therefore, retaining the convention activity we have and attracting more should be a top goal for the city. Selling the convention center OR expanding and renovating it might accomplish that goal. I want to see the City Manager prepare a report identifying the pros, cons, and costs of each option.
Northwestern: Are you satisfied the city is doing enough to market, promote and execute development, from big projects such as the riverfront and big boxes such as Lowe’s to small business creation?
Palmeri: No, I am not satisfied that the city is doing enough, especially on small business creation. Oshkosh uses what I call a “faith based” approach to development in which the average citizen is reduced to hoping and praying that someone in City Hall or the Council knows what he or she is doing to facilitate progress in the community. I also find it distressing that urban development specialists at UW Oshkosh are rarely approached by City Hall for advice or consultation. That needs to change. And it will change if I am elected.
Northwestern: If the state continues some kind of local levy limit, what should be looked at in the city's budget if cuts need to be made? Is there so-called "fat" in the budget that can be cut or does the budget need to be looked at in a new way?
Palmeri: The Democrats now control the governor’s office and the state Senate. Every Democrat elected in November including the governor said that they are either against local levy limits or for allowing levies to grow by more than 2%. City Councils across the state, including ours in Oshkosh, need to hold them to their word. To handle budget cut and “fat trimming” issues, the Council needs to create a formal Budget Committee that would include citizens, members of the council, and members of the city administration. The Budget Committee would meet continuously throughout the year, and charged especially with looking at the budget in new ways.
Northwestern: If you were elected to the council, what specific impact could you point to after your two-year term?
Palmeri: If I am elected to the Council, the era of secrecy in Oshkosh government would be over. With me on the Council, the letter and spirit of the state statutes governing the way we do business will be enforced vigorously. In addition, citizens will know that there is at least one person on the Council demanding the highest standards of performance and accountability from all city officials.
Northwestern: What are the appropriate uses of TIF districts? Are there existing districts that you would have opposed and why?
Palmeri: TIF districts are fine as long as they are created in accordance with state law, which mandates TIF creation ONLY if development would not occur without it. I opposed the Five Rivers TIF mainly because it was created before the city even knew if the developer was credible and minimally capable of making good on his promises. Creating a TIF under those circumstances is the textbook definition of bad government.
Northwestern: Should the power of the mayor be expanded, why or why not? If you think it should, how should it be expanded?
Palmeri: If we keep the Council/Manager form of government that we currently have, I do not support expanding the power of the Mayor. If we want a strong mayor, we need to change our form of government to a Mayor/Aldermen system such as Appleton’s or Green Bay’s, in which a full-time mayor runs the day-to-day operation of the city. I do support changing our form of government so that we have a strong, full-time, accountable mayor.
Northwestern: Would you rate the condition of streets in the city as good, fair or poor? If fair or poor, how would you expedite the repair and upgrade of streets under challenging budget times?
Palmeri: Mostly fair to poor. We need to create a Citizen Street Repair Commission charged with making recommendations about how street repair should be done in the city. In our current system, too many taxpayers are confused about how or if the city prioritizes street repair, how repairs are paid for, what kind of repair options exist, and who should pay. A Citizens’ Commission could give the street issue the visibility it has deserved for too long in our city.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Jo Egelhoff today in Fox Politics explains how Republicans on the Elections and Constitutional Law Committee are trying to push forward an amendment that would prohibit the "Frankenstein Veto." They are especially upset at Jim Doyle's mangling of the budget to raid the transportation fund. The hypocrisy here is obvious: Republicans never objected to Frankenstein in the person of Tommy Thompson, whose budgeting was every bit as creative as Jim Doyle's.
Senate Democrats, now in the majority, will probably stifle any attempt to limit Doyle's budget power. Perhaps Assembly Democrat Spencer Black should be called upon to lobby the Senate Dems--in 2005 Black proposed an amendment similar to what the Republicans are asking for today.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The latest move to protect student speech is in the state of Washington, where Democratic Rep. Dave Upthegrove has brought forward House Bill 1307. The Bill would protect college and high school students against censorship, and would make it illegal for administrations to fire a media adviser who refused to censor students. A spokesperson for the Student Press Law Center told the Associated Press that Upthegrove's bill "would be the most comprehensive student-press bill in the country at this point."
Recently elected 54th district state representative Gordon Hintz was appointed to the Assembly's Committee on Colleges and Universities. Especially since he represents a university town and received substantial student support in the 2006 elections, Hintz is in a great position to initiate legislation to protect student speech and restore Wisconsin's reputation for guarding civil liberties. Gordon can be emailed at Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Below is the film's trailer, followed by a brief Q & A with the writer/director team of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, along with actress Shareeka Epps (who really should have been given a nomination also.).
In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Earth Charter, Fox Valley Pax Christi, the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation invite you to hear Erika Shatz speak about the Nonviolent Peaceforce Thursday morning February 1, 7:30- 9 a.m. Pollock House, 765 Algoma Boulevard across from Albee Hall, UWO campus. A continental breakfast will be provided. Parking is available in metered spaces across from Reeve Memorial Union on Algoma Street. For information, contact Ann Frisch firstname.lastname@example.org 920 279 7884.
Nonviolent Peaceforce is a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of trained civilians from around the world. In partnership with local groups, Nonviolent Peaceforce members apply proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. NP has been successful in Sri Lanka in helping parents recover children who have been abducted into guerrilla armies, has reduced violence in elections through the use of election monitors who protect candidates with cameras, has helped to resolve local issues such as tension between fishing communities, and routinely accompany local clergy and other peace activists who are mediating conflicts. NP also currently is preparing deployments in northern Uganda, the Philippines, and Colombia, and is creating an international reserve force. Both the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Cristi are member organizations of Nonviolent Peaceforce.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Campaign update. A recap of the week and some future events:
*On Monday I had the opportunity to speak at a poverty forum held before the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. dinner. My main points:
- We need to do a better job in Oshkosh of keeping the issue of poverty in the headlines for the entire year, and not just on Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King day.
- We need to fight hard to get shared revenue monies restored, as that program over the years guaranteed that all citizens regardless of income would be able to live in cities in which funds existed for providing basic services.
- W e have too many citizens in Oshkosh who are not labeled poor because they make too much money to be classified as such under the federal guidelines, but they are struggling. What we need to do is hold a jobs summit and/or create an Economic Development Commission to come up with real strategies for maintaining, attracting, and creating family supporting jobs in the community.
*On Thursday I submitted a 300 word statement to the Oshkosh Northwestern, along with my answers to 10 questions that they asked all of the candidates. When the newspaper publishes the statement and responses I will also place them on this blog.
*The League of Women Voters will be holding a candidates' forum on January 30. More information about this as we get closer to the event.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
After the film, my colleague Doug Heil from the UW Oshkosh Radio/TV/Film program led an engaging discussion of Elvis and cinema. Not to be outdone, Grand Opera House Executive Director Joe Ferlo cooked fried peanut butter & banana sandwiches for everyone.
There's lots of catchy tunes and dance numbers in the film, but Elvis singing "I can't help falling in love with you" to his girlfriend's grandmother is the show stopper.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I personally had mixed feelings about building the new facility until I had the opportunity to visit the current UW Fox "theatre." That structure is clearly a safety hazard, inferior to most high school auditoriums, and an embarrassment to the County and the UW System. It's good that the Board finally took some responsibility to upgrade its own property. But because county executives and boards for years chose to defer maintenance on the theatre (at the same time they were spending over $30 million for a jail), we now have to spend more money to get a smaller building.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Mark C. Nielsen
Bryan L. Bain
Jessica J. King
I also learned to today that the only candidates declaring exemption from filing campaign finance reports (meaning that the campaigns will not raise more than $1,000) are Kent Monte, Tony Palmeri (yeah, me), and [mayoral candidate] Paul Esslinger.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
But as I've argued in the past, a major problem with large scale developments in Oshkosh is the lack of executive level leadership in place to explain the projects and build public support for them. City Manager Dick Wollangk seems content to farm out the responsibility for these important tasks to Director of Community Development Jackson Kinney. The result is that the public discussion of major development projects gets mired in a kind of "bureaucratic babble" that always seems to be concealing some crucial piece of evidence that could turn the Council or the public against any project.
AAG may end up providing Oshkosh with an outstanding, multi-use development that benefits the population at large in a way that the Five Rivers luxury condo plan never could have. Unfortunately, the lack of confidence and trust in City Hall means that we can only have faith that something good will happen. That's not good.
Regardless of what happens with AAG, the next City Council must insist that the faith based model of development be retired and replaced with a model of professionalism that is supposed to be the essence of the Council/Manager form of government.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
The interview was conducted by Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Husseini lurks outside the major network studios when politicians do the "official" interviews with people like Tim Russert and George Stephanopolous. He then fires questions at them outside the studio. How sad that the only time a politician gets some tough questioining is when he is being "staked out" by someone like Husseini. What a powerful indictment of the corporate, mainstream media.
The Obey interview can be found here.
Monday, January 08, 2007
For what it's worth, I thought that Dylan's 1994 MTV Unplugged performance of "John Brown" was his best live work since his collaboration with The Band in the 1970s.
Friday, January 05, 2007
January 5, 2007
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.
The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.
Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.
Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.
In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:
“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It’s easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.
We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Previous Barry Weber recordings include "We'll All Get To Heaven If We Get God Drunk" and "The Bush Song . . . And Other Songs I Shouldn't Sing."
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Back in April of 2004 authors Robert Weissman and Russ Mokhiber wrote an excellent piece on "The Rising Corporate Military Monster." They wrote
"The larger become the military contractors, the more influence they have in Congress and the Pentagon, the more they are able to shape policy, immunize themselves from proper oversight, and expand their reach. The private military firms are led by ex-generals, the most effective possible lobbyists of their former colleagues -- and frequently former subordinates -- at the Pentagon. As they grow in size, and become integrated into the military-industrial complex (Northrop Grumman has swallowed a number of the military contractors, for example), their political leverage in Congress and among civilians in the executive branch grows."
If that statement is accurate, and I think it is, it suggests that Murtha may have difficulty getting meaningful hearings off the ground. Let's hope his Democratic colleagues support him on this.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
My background. Originally from New York City, I came to Oshkosh in 1989 for a teaching position at UW Oshkosh. Today I am an associate professor of communication studies. I've twice been nominated for the campus' Distinguished Teaching Award, and this year received the Barbara K. Sniffen Faculty Service Award. I have served as Chair of the Department of Communication, President of the Faculty Senate, and President of the UW Oshkosh chapter of The Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals. In 2006-2007 I serve as President of the Wisconsin Communication Association, an organization that chose me as recipient of the Andrew M. Weaver "Communication Educator of the Year" Award in 2004.
I have been active in local politics as a candidate and media activist. As a candidate, I ran for the 54th State Assembly District in 1996 and 2004. As a media activist, I've produced and/or co-hosted a variety of projects including Commentary (with former Oshkosh Mayor Jim Mather), Radio Commentary, Eye on Oshkosh (with Cheryl Hentz) and the monthly column Media Rants. In 2005 my daily news website TonyPalmeri.Com earned recognition from the Oshkosh Public Library as "Best News and Commentary" site in their "Best Website in Oshkosh" contest.
My Message. The message of my campaign is simply this: City government at all levels must be held to higher standards of performance and accountability. Let me repeat that: City government at all levels must be held to higher standards of performance and accountability.
The serious issues facing this community, including poverty, deteriorating neighborhoods, how to deliver basic services in a period of tight budgets, lack of enough family supporting jobs, downtown redevelopment, and many others--have not been addressed adequately by the current Council and City Administration. In our Council/Manager form of government, the Council is charged with developing a vision for the city and demanding that the Manager display the leadership necessary to put that vision in place. Today, we have no Council vision and managerial leadership is absent. Public trust in city government is the lowest I've seen it in my 18 years as an Oshkosh resident. It's clearly time for a change.
I want to help usher in a new era of government in Oshkosh, a government that is open and accountable, treats all citizens with respect, and does not shy away from making tough decisions.
Over the next few weeks all of the candidates will be called upon to answer questions and take positions on specific issues. I look forward to being a part of that process. Anyone who would like to speak with me privately can call me at 235-1116 or email email@example.com
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
There will be a Peace Vigil at 6pm Wednesday evening.
WHY? To remember the 3,000-plus deceased soldiers of the Iraq War, the 20 to 30,000 injured soldiers, and the Iraqi dead and injured.
WHEN? 6pm Wednesday evening January 3rd.
WHERE? Peace Park, Oshkosh. Downtown, corner of Main & Algoma, by the Sundial.
Program? Five minutes of silence followed by comments. Everyone welcome.
Informal discussion before and after at the New Moon Cafe.
Bring a flashlight in lieu of candles. Weather conditions as of this writing: Temperature 40, Wind 13mph-sw.
Monday, January 01, 2007
I first met Woody and Dale in 1996, when I ran for the 54th State Assembly district seat as a Democrat. At that time they were active members of the Winnebago County Democratic Party, and were super supportive and encouraging. Woody was probably the most talkative human being I have ever met in my life--while sitting in a room with him you would NEVER be bored. And if there is a public servant more dedicated to his job than Woody Weber, I have yet to meet him or her. Woody studied every issue in depth, while speaking passionately and fighting like hell for things he believed in.
I did not know Dale as well as Woody, but she too was a scrappy fighter for a variety of causes. They were an incredibly fun couple to be around, and their dedication toward and love for each other was obvious.
Woody and Dale Weber were "small d" democrats in the best sense, always speaking out and fighting for the little guys and gals. They will be missed--much.