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V. of DeForest 5-Year Comprehensive Land Use Planning

11/30/12

To:                   DeForest Area Progressives

From:               John Scepanski

Subject:    DeForest Planning & Zoning Commission meeting 11/27/12

On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, I attended the Village of DeForest Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.  (Note FYI that this is a "commission," not a "committee."  There are important distinctions that matter in Wisconsin state law, which I can inform D.A.P. of at another time.)

Item #10 on the agenda was "Discussion/Presentation on Comprehensive Plan update, focusing on housing mix policy."  As you know, I had attended the previous P&Z Commission meeting as well, during which the similar discussion focused on building development phasing and transportation.  These P&Z discussions are preliminary to revision of the village's comprehensive land use master plan (commonly known as the comprehensive plan or the master plan).  The revision of the plan occurs about once every five years or so.  Typically, the Commission will schedule public hearings some time into the process to gather public input during its deliberations.  If D.A.P. desires, we might want to plan to offer some testimony at those public hearings.

Most of the discussion at this evening's P&Z meeting revolved around consultant Mark Roffers' draft policy on housing for the village: "Housing Mix Policy DRAFT 11/8/12."  The interest here is in defining and setting a goal for a percentage mix of single family and multi-family housing in the village.  The question is this: should the desired ratio of single family housing to multi-family housing be 65% to 35% or some other ratio or no stated goal at all?  According to Mr. Roffers, the current % of single family is about 60%.

Mr. Roffers and the Commission often refer to the "Future Land Use Map" in these discussions.  There is a corresponding "Map 2" (I think) in the FUDA report -- more of FUDA (Future Urban Development Area) later.  See the village website for the FUDA report and maps.  It is a good report, and I recommend it for up-to-date, sound, "progressive" land use principles.

Discussion included references to a "planned neighborhood" category in the plan, future multi-family housing, and high standards to be maintained in materials used in building, design, appearance, upkeep, etc.  Some of the discussion went like this:

Jim Simpson (Comm. member).              Has heard employers in the DeForest area complain that  affordable housing is lacking in the DeForest area for their employees.  Hard to get employees when they have to live elsewhere and commute too far.

Mark Roffers (staff consultant).             Developers in the current building climate and market seem reluctant to build multi-family housing (apartments, duplexes, etc.)  There seems to be a disconnect between the village's desire to promote more business development in the village and builders' reluctance to build more affordable, multi-family housing where workers can live close by.  There is flexibility, though, within single family development, along the lines of lot size, density of population, number of living units per acre, and so forth.

Simpson.          Can get a lot of living units on a smaller plot of ground if higher densities are approved, i.e., more families living on smaller plots of ground: e.g., five lots per acre rather than four lots per acre.

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There seems to be a dilemma here between the desire of the village to promote more economic development and the desire to promote relatively exclusive, single family housing (upscale suburban subdivisions, if you will).  Note, too, that the FUDA project resulted in DeForest residents' overwhelming preference for "compact" neighborhood design, which may also be in conflict with my perception of the commission members' preference for upscale single family residences.  I may be wrong at this preliminary stage, but it seems to me that upscale, large-lot, suburban-style, single-family residential development might conflict in other ways, too, with the FUDA results.

Q.'s for thought:

1. Will the P&Z Comm. conform to the residents' desires along the lines of neighborhood design, as expressed through FUDA, or will they choose another route when making comprehensive plan revision decisions about neighborhood design? 

2. How much attention will the Commission pay to the FUDA outcomes?  They are not obligated to pay any attention to FUDA at all.

I (John) am disappointed that there have been, as yet, no substantive references to FUDA at these P&Z Comm. meetings.  NOW is the opportunity to implement bold new, "progressive" FUDA-like ideas for the future of the village and surrounding territory, in my opinion.  We’ve missed so many opportunities in the past.  I hope we don't squander this one.

As you know, I like the FUDA report and think that it reflects mostly progressive land use ideals: more on that later.  In short, though, at this juncture I get the sense from sitting in on these two meetings, so far, that the DeForest P&Z Commission is not very interested in FUDA. 

Commission members seem to me not to have much enthusiasm when it comes to future land use planning for DeForest, which is okay, I suppose.  Status quo thinking seems to prevail.  That is pretty much as it has always been.  After all, status quo is status quo, and status quo can be either good or not-so-good.  Personally, I could wish for more imagination, though.  Maybe that will change at future comprehensive plan meetings.

DeForest has a lot going for it and can and could and may and might be unique in some wonderful ways.

                                   -end-

cc:        Mike Centinario, Kevin Brown

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Meeting Notes, 9/17/12

DeForest Area Progressives (D.A.P.)

Meeting September 17, 2012

John's Notes

 

Fourteen members met from 6:00 to 8:00 at HQ, 6610 Lake Road, Windsor, Wisconsin.  It was a rousing meeting, one of the most energetic we’ve had recently!  Behave, you all!  There is a lot going on at D.A.P.

 

Mary S. made sure we were all set for the movie showing this Saturday of Gasland, the documentary about fracking and drilling.  Good going, Mary, and you others who have worked to make this project go!  Some of us will be meeting this Saturday afternoon at HQ to set up.  Social hour (i.e., half-hour) is at 6:30, movie 7:00 to 8:30, and discussion led by John-Ski after the movie.  Keep talking it up and bring your friends and neighbors.

 

Ginny and John G. reported on the sign they are putting on John's truck for election day, complete with message, lights, maybe music, and other hoopla.  J   John St. is also involved with this.  Wanna be in on it too? See one of the above.

 

Marcia reported on this weekend's canvassing jointly with OFA (Obama for America).  About 20 people anticipated from Portage and other surrounding areas, including D.A.P., of course.  Almost all of the target districts were covered.  Well done, people!  The group put together and distributed a packet that included President Obama, Mary Arnold, Paula Cooper, and Tammy Baldwin.

 

Karen reported on her and Judy's attendance at the Village of DeForest Planning and Zoning Commission's public hearing and regular meeting, in which the new changes to the DeForest signage ordinance were discussed.  John-Ski had also checked in on it at the Village Hall with Mike Centenario, the Village Planner, and let Mike know of D.A.P. interest.  There is a copy of the new ordinance changes available at D.A.P. HQ.  Karen said the issue involved mostly a need to allow for a commercial sign at the new high school stadium in a residentially zoned neighborhood.  Also involved are requirements for entrance signs to the village.  Mr. Centenario said that it had to do with appeal at the entrances to the village.  It does not appear as though any of this will affect our on-going political and message sign projects.  Be that as it may, we once again let our presence be known.

 

Carl reported on his membership and attendance at the VillageParks and Natural Resources Committee.  Further reports on this committee will be forthcoming from Carl.  Other D.A.P. members are encouraged to find a local government committee they might be interested in and volunteer for appointment by going to the Village or Town Halls and filling out a form.

 

Frank led a discussion on this Saturday's Yahara River Cleanup, sponsored by Friends of the Yahara.  We should hook up with that organization as a sister outfit with similar interests.  Volunteers will meet at VeteransPark in DeForest for assignment to a section of river to work on.  Bring tools you have such as saws and chain saws, boots and work clothes.  Work will include brush removal and trash pickup.  The event is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but you can work any period of time.  D.A.P.-ers are meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the park to work together and let it be known that our organization is there in a group: more community networking.  Further information can be found at the Friends of the Yahara website.

 

John Glowacki told about the changes he perceives are coming to The Mic and other progressive radio.  He sees more recorded programming that does not allow for call-in.  He sees programming on Sundays being replaced with sports broadcasting.  He thinks there might be a conspiracy afoot to disrupt liberal radio programming.  There is a new source called "Progressive Voices" that people can check out, having to do with internet, web, IPad, etc., access to progressive radio.  There is also Tune-in Radio and Head-on Radio.  It might be a good idea for D.A.P. to start a resources list or file, where interested parties can go to find these sorts of alternatives, books, magazines, videos, etc.

 

Isabelle reported that the food collection project for the striking workers at Palermo in Milwaukee is going well.  Much non-perishable food was collected last night for her, Ginny, and other D.A.P. members to take in a van down to Centro Hispano.  Isabelle and Ginny will represent D.A.P. in this worthy and serious project.

 

Someone mentioned that a new CostCo is opening soon in Sun Prairie and that the CEO of CostCo is an active supporter of President Obama.

 

The Wisconsin Grassroots Network Festival is scheduled for February 16th.  Tens of thousands were in attendance last year (just kidding, but there were hundreds).  There will be a Grassroots fundraiser October 7th at the Lake Wisconsin Country Club (note: Lake Wisconsin, not LakeWindsor) in SaukCity.  Make a dessert to be auctioned off or participate in the silent auction.  There will be a meal served, a bar, singing, and other entertainment.  It was a blast last year and promises to be the same this year.  By the way, the Wisconsin Grassroots Network (WGN) steering committee meets at our D.A.P. HQ and will be there this Wednesday; drop in if you like.

 

John St. reported that there will be a voter registrars' meeting this Wednesday at D.A.P. HQ.

 

John also said that message-sign painters are needed.

 

There is a fundraiser October 27th at Rude's Lanes for the people whose house recently burned down.

 

Due to John St.'s efforts, we made $50 from button manufacture and sales at Bob Fest last Saturday.  Yay, John-boy!  Other D.A.P. members attended Bob Fest as well and reported another great time, meeting and mingling with progressive soul-sisters&brothers from all over the midwest and the country, as usual.

 

Carl went to a breakout session at Bob Fest that had to do with mining, and he passed around some literature he picked up there on iron mining.  There was also discussion of the adverse effects of silicon sand mining for fracking drilling operations.  Frank attended the session too and said that it seems that some blasting is done to get the sand out, and the blasting is suspected of leaving minute particles of silicon in the air, which are then breathed in.  Also, it is suspected that fine particles are left on plant life, which can then be ingested if eaten.  Mary noted that even though Wisconsin is not on the maps describing where fracking is being done, Wisconsin figures in prominently due to the big sand mining operations here.

 

John St. mentioned something as well about the dangers of wire electrical transmission.

 

Al Greene brought back some information from the monthly Dane County Democratic Party meeting last week (John Scep., Cindy, and Beth attended too).  Al's information stemmed from his meeting Ethan Corson there.  Ethan is Deputy Voter Protection Coordinator for OFA.  A handout was provided on voter protection and is available at D.A.P. HQ.  Contact Ethan at ecorson@ofawi.com or 608-556-1302.  We all heard a lot about regional Wisconsin plans to get President Obama re-elected, Tammy elected to Senate, and other campaign efforts.  "Fired up!  Ready to go!"

 

Finally, Mary informed us of an upcoming event at MATC on October 11-13: the Economic Democracy Convention.

 

Good work, one-and-all!  See you Saturday and/or at next Monday's meeting, 6 - 8:00 p.m., the 24th, at 6610, the usual.

 

John Scepanski

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The Party of Business Vs. the Party of the People

I think the Romneys are good, decent people. The money thing, however, points up the divide between where Republicans come from and where Democrats come from. As has been said many times in many settings, the American people have a clear choice about how they want their country governed for the next four years. The way I see it, and I respect some of my GOP friends's difference here, the people are coming around (as I predicted they would, although it has taken longer than I figured) to understand that the GOP is, as it always has been, the party of business and all that means, and the Democratic Party is, as IT always has been and all that THAT means, the party of the people.

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Tweaking Social Security

There are lots of things that can be done to "tweak" Social Security to make it sound forever.  Here are a few things Congress can do, if and when they get their act together.  What would YOU do?
======================================================================================
 

What Needs to Be Done to "Save" Social Security

(AARP)

 

To balance the system's finances,

 

  1. Trimming benefits to the highest quarter of the population, on a sliding scale up to 15%, would get 7% closer to the 100% balance mark.

 

  1. Trimming benefits to the highest earning half of the population (on a sliding scale up to 28%) would get 31% closer to the 100% balanced mark.

 

  1. Raising the full retirement age to 68 by the year 2028 would get 18% closer to 100% balanced.

 

  1. Raising the full retirement age to 70 by 2040 would get 44% closer.

 

  1. Switching to a chained consumer price index, which factors in peoples' tendency to switch to cheaper products when prices go up, gets 23% closer.

 

  1. Raising the payroll tax from the traditional 6.2% to 6.45% (e.g., adds an extra $125 a year to a person's SS tax for someone making $50,000) gets 22% closer.

 

  1. Raising the payroll tax from 6.2% to 7.2% ($500 a year more for a person making $50,000) gets 64% closer.

 

  1. Lifting the cap on earnings subject to SS tax from the current $110,100 to $215,000 gets 36% closer.

 

  1. Removing the cap on earnings subject to SS tax altogether gets us 86% closer.

 

***

 

So, mix and match to "save Social security in perpetuity.  What's your pleasure?  7%, 31%, 18%, 44%, 23%, 22%, 64%, 36%, 86%

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V. of DeForest signage ordinance amendments

Especially for you members of the Signs Committee, FYI:

Village of DeForest

Public Hearing on Amendments to Chapter 15 of the DeForest Village Municipal Code (Zoning)

September 14, 2012, 6:00 p.m., at Public Safety Bldg., 305 E. Holum

The public hearing will be held to gather public input on proposed amendments to Ch. 15 of the DeForest Mun. Code pertaining to sign regulations. The proposed amendments are available for review at the municipal building. If you prefer to submit written comments, they should be submitted before the public hearing to the Village Planner. All written comments will be forwarded to the DeForest Planning and Zoning Commission.

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Bill Maher on the GOP Convention

Now, I'm not a big Bill Maher fan, and I don’t like him enough personally to meet him for a hamburger, and I do not like the way he uses too much off-color language too gratuitously, but here are a few of his comments last week on his HBO TV show that I found funny and to the point.

 

On Clint Eastwood as an icon of the Republican Party: "a confused old person yelling at a chair."  (Now, Clint Eastwood IS a guy I'd like to go out with for a beer.) 

 

Also, did you notice that the joke Clint was telling was old, lame, and trite, pretending that the President of theUnited Stateswas telling someone to go ____ himself.  Really!  You can do better than that, Clint, and you can do better than you are doing, Republican PartyUSA.

 

Also, Bill Maher commented that the stiff and wooden Mitt Romney makes Al Gore (famous a few years ago for his stiffness and woodenness) look like James Brown at the Apollo Theater.

 

One last one: Maher said that he interpreted Mrs. Romney's message in her speech to the convention to be something like, "Any woman, if she works hard enough and applies herself, can marry anyone.

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Health Care Reform & the Price of Pizza

A good one from this week's issue of The Week mag.; what I like about The Week is that you get several excerpts from several publications on the same subject in a concise presentation, digest-like.  I've highlighted what I consider the main message in the last paragraph.  What do you think?

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News+Opinion      Talking Points              ‘Obamacare’: The impact on the price of pizza                August 15, 2012

 

President Obama has added a pricey topping to your pizza, said Jeffrey Anderson in WeeklyStandard.com. John Schnatter, CEO and founder of pizza chain Papa John’s, last week warned that unless the president’s health-care law is repealed, he’ll have to hike the price of a large pie by up to 20 cents. That’s because the Affordable Care Act requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to their workers or face harsh penalties. Papa John’s has 16,500 employees, most of whom are currently uninsured.

 

“Papa John’s isn’t alone in seeing a price increase in their futures,” said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. Other chains, including Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Quiznos, have also said that Obamacare will add up to $30,000 to the annual costs at each restaurant—costs that will all be passed on to customers. Many of those customers are poor.

 

Schnatter is a Romney supporter who’s playing politics with his pizza, said the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger in an editorial. McDonald’s has already said that the cost of Obamacare is no greater than the kind of swings it regularly sees in the prices of meat, potatoes, and other commodities—and those fluctuations don’t substantially affect the sale price of a Big Mac.

 

Even if Obamacare does add an extra 20 cents to a pie, said the Louisville Courier-Journal, that’s a 1 percent increase. What a bargain if it means taxpayers no longer “have to foot the bill when hardworking but uninsured pizza chefs get ill and end up in the hospital.” Two dimes, in return for fast-food workers finally having health insurance: “That’s change we can believe in!”

 

There’s a much larger issue at work here, said Marc Charisse in the Hanover, Pa., Evening Sun. Schnatter has a point when he complains about absorbing the cost of providing health care for his employees. For American companies competing in a globalized economy, soaring health-care costs are a real competitive disadvantage. In the rest of the civilized world, society as a whole pays those costs in single-payer systems that provide high-quality health care to all citizens for about half the price. For now, our system remains deeply flawed. But if paying 20 cents more for pizza means that the “poor guy who delivers my pizza can go to a doctor if he gets sick,” that’s “a step in the right direction.”

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Affordable Care Act - Medical Loss Ratio rebates

My wife and I just received a letter from our health insurance carrier, informing us of a certain status under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), derisively known as "obamacare."  The letter refers to the law's "Medical Loss Ratio" rebate.  Under the ACA, insurance companies must spend at least eighty percent (in some cases 85%) of the premiums they collect on services, not administration or advertising or like expenses that typically increase health care costs without adding to the value of the services. 

 

One of the most egregious causes of exorbitant health care costs in our country are those non-services expenses, i.e., the costs of doing business.  One of the greatest achievements of the ACA is to drive those costs of doing business down and out of the cost of health care in theUnited States.  This is good -- it is very, very good.

 

As our insurance company representative explains in the letter, "If a health insurer does not spend at least 80 percent of the premiums it receives on health care services and activities to improve health care quality, the insurer must rebate the difference.  A health insurer's Medical Loss Ratio is determined separately for each State's individual, small group and large group markets in which the health insurer offers health insurance. ... No later thanAugust 1, 2012, health insurers must send any rebates due for 2011 and information to employers and individuals regarding any rebates due for 2011."

 

Did you get a letter like this from your health insurance company?

 

Our insurance company was glad to report that they had fallen within the ratio, so we were not receiving a rebate.  I say good, because that means that our insurance company is conforming to best practices, as laid out by the ACA.  It gives us confidence in our insurance company.  If we want further information on this aspect of the ACA, our company refers us in the letter to the government website, healthcare.gov.  I've been to that website many times and found it always useful.

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meeting notes frm August 20, 2012

DeForest Area Progressives

 John's notes on meeting ofAugust 20, 2012,6:00 - 8:00 p.m.at6610 Lake Road office suite

 17 people present including guests

 The whole 2-hour meeting was devoted to a discussion of message sharing and the technology available to us to do that.  Note that "messaging" is one of the five areas of emphasis chosen at a recent state-wide meeting of the Wisconsin Grassroots Network.

 Jan Moore from SPARC, Sun Prairie progressives, recorded the meeting and presentations.

 We first heard from Brian Utter, a veteran of McFarland cable TV.  Brian talked about "P.E.G.": Public, Education, and Government, services typically provided through local cable television.  The Charter company is the big operator in cable television, and Charter is a for-profit corporation. 

 Marcia asked Brian, "What do we need to know?"  Brian answered that we need to reach out to Charter by sending them a letter of intent.  We need to get a franchise from them through our local municipalities, i.e., thevillageofDeForest, the town ofWindsor, theDeForestAreaSchool District, or some such entity.  A private group like D.A.P. is not likely to get any response from Charter. 

 (A note for you, reader of these notes: I might get some of the details wrong on some of these things, but the essence and most of the details I report here are close enough to accurate for our purposes at this stage.  John) 

 If D.A.P. decides to get into a local cable TV project, we should probably organize as some sort of "Friends Of" committee.  We would have to petition one or more municipalities or their equivalent to apply to the state Department of Financial Institutions.  (If this sounds confusing to you, reader, then join the club.)

 Two contacts: Tim Bowell used to be the government relations guy for Charter; Mary Cardona, Wisconsin Community Media

 Nick Zweifel, recently elected new County Board Supe from Sun Prairie is a teacher in DeForest.  Nick was helped significantly by people using citizens' access to Sun Prairie local cable TV in his successful campaign.  Nick said that short message segments work best -- five minutes, 10 at the most.  Someone mentioned that research has shown that 12 minutes is the maximum attention span for most of the kinds of messages that we might be interested in putting out.  Most such messages need to be repeated at least five times to sink in. 

 Nick continued that most people will not watch a 30 minute video on YouTube.  (I looked it up and "YouTube" is the correct spelling and construction of that media phenomenon.  J.)  Basically, remember that what you need to do is 1) decide what your message is, and then 2) repeat it.  You've got to be "on it" all the time.  Be passionate, be fresh, keep bringing it back to your main website -- your website being the hub of your messaging: click on something on Facebook it brings you back to your website; click on something on your blog, it brings you back to your website; click on something on any social medium, it brings you back to your website.

 You must have something interesting for visitors all the time when they go there.  Today's world is not cable TV.  Today's world includes communities on all media -- websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and so on.  All form a community.

 Nick's neighbor and associate, Steve, is a tech professional who works for Trek.  He performs other tech services in other realms as well.  Steve is an expert's expert.  Steve said what we should want to do is called, "Building your community."  And, Steve emphasized, "It's the content that matters."  (Yes, these are direct quotations from Steve.  I, John, am fussy about what goes into my quotation marks  J.  J.)  We are looking for the easiest and cheapest way to distribute that content, and distribution should be in "small, digestible segments."  Steve said that many in media communities do not watch television anymore.  They are using their phones and laptops.

 One goal might be to put out a 2-minute YouTube video daily.  OK, it might be 3 minutes.  Look at Google Plus.  Google owns YouTube.  YouTube lately is putting out "hangouts": YouTube "hangouts on air." 

 The first question to ask ourselves is, "Do we have the content?"

 When we put out products -- content -- we must be conscientious about the quality of the product.

 

Nick said he has already put up a YouTube channel for Wisconsin Grassroots Network.  He says he is waiting for us to use it.

 

I, John, ask, "Well punk, do yuh feel lucky?  Huh Punk?  Are yuh goin' tuh use it, punk.  Huh, are yuh?  Go ahead, make my day."

 

The meeting adjourned right on time ateight p.m.

 

John Scepanski

DeForest Area Progressives

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Racism & Fascism in the U.S.A.

Please go to my blog to read some commentary about racism & fascism in the U.S.A.  Go to www.DeForestenews.com, click on blogs in the left hand column, and then click on RuleNo.1.

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