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Dolores Disher ‘Too Sick’ For Evaluation

July 29, 2014

And the miniature violins play.   She knows too much to be answering questions.  Let us cut to the heart of the case.  Delores Disher is charged with theft by fraud, forgery, unauthorized use of others’ personal documents, and mail fraud. All those counts are felonies.

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Prosecutors hoped to learn Monday whether one of three people accused of cashing a presumably dead relative’s Social Security checks — one who had previously been ruled unfit — was now well enough to stand trial.

That decision will have to wait until September.

Defense attorneys for Dolores Disher, 71, of Almond told a circuit court judge Monday that an evaluation on whether or not Disher was fit to stand trial couldn’t be completed because Disher was sick and in a hospital. Disher, her husband Ronald Disher, 73, and her brother Charles Jost, 67, of Amherst, were accused of cashing the Social Security checks of Dolores Disher and Jost’s mother, Marie Jost. Investigators contended that the Dishers and Charles Jost defrauded the Social Security Administration of at least $175,000 by cashing Marie Jost’s checks over the course of several years.

Although her body has not been found, authorities believe Marie Jost is dead because she would be more than 100 years old and she hasn’t used her federal medical benefits since 1982. Theodore Jost, Dolores Disher and Charles Jost’s brother, also has not been seen for several years and is believed to be dead. He would be 76 years old if alive today.

Portage County Assistant District Attorney Cass Cousins said he still plans to seek a competency evaluation. A new court date has been set for Sept. 2.

Israel Is Killing Innocents

July 29, 2014

There comes a time when the endless comments that war is a messy business and innocents die no longer can be allowed to be used as a response to needless carnage taking place in the Middle East.  If my counting is correct this is day 19 of the latest fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian blood-letting, and reports are coming in that 1,000 people have died in Gaza.  The vast majority of them are not the militants, but instead innocent civilians.  Of that number a crushing percentage are truly innocent children.

The bloodshed on the news is just staggering, and while both sides have reason for blame to placed at their feet there is more of the shame and condemnation to be carried by Israel.

While there is no justification for the missiles fired into Israel there is also no way to condone the Israeli land grabs and power tactics that have waged for decades against those who also call this place home.  An economic blockade of Gaze was never going to result in anything positive for Israel.  The Jewish state needs to be mindful that the world does care for the underdogs who fight for rights no matter where they reside.

While there needs to be tough judgment against Hamas for the way they conduct their brand of warfare it also needs to be plainly stated the Israel is playing the aggressor here as they are prone to do and overreact with the result of killing civilians in numbers that must not be allowed to continue.

The report that most stunned me–and there are so many–was of a family of 25 who was hosting a Hamas fighter for dinner as they observed the break in the Ramadan fast.  All were killed when Israel unleashed a missile strike.  There is no civilized nation with real morals that mean something other than as a talking point who would unleash the military in this fashion.  It simply does not make sense in any humane sense, and in a military/political context only stokes the anger and resentment that creates more problems for Israel in the long run.

Israel is out of joint over the inclusion of Hamas into the unity government that needed to be a step in the ownership of responsibility within the Palestinian government.    Israel does not like those who they have crapped on to form a united front and so worked to turn the killing of the three teenagers several weeks ago into the pretext of a military strike that could achieve their purpose.

And now there are 1,000 deaths in Gaza.

Israel conducting themselves in the fashion we have again seen over the past 19 days makes one thing sure.  There will be more young minds that watch the buildings explode and fall in Gaza and the funerals take place every day and who will turn their attention to retribution.

And who can blame them?

President Nixon And Panda Sex

July 28, 2014

The Nixon tapes are grand.  You just have to listen to this one.

Same-Sex Marriage Legal Trivia

July 28, 2014

Some legal history here as we applaud the second appeals court to say bans on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  Virginia is an important landmark because of the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving vs. Virginia, regarding interracial marriage.  Virginia is where the fundamental right to marry was born. In the 1967 decision the Supreme Court struck down the Commonwealth’s ban on inter-racial marriage.

 

Appeals Court Says Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

July 28, 2014

There are no places for a bigot to call home, anymore, when it comes to stopping same-sex marriage.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.   The 2-1 ruling from the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a district court judge’s ruling in February striking down the state’s prohibition on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Richmond, Va.-based 4th Circuit now joins the Denver-based 10th Circuit, which earlier this month struck down a similar ban in Oklahoma.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said Judge Henry Floyd, originally appointed a district judge by George W. Bush and elevated to the circuit court by President Obama. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

“The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society.”

City Of Madison Needs To Be The Winner After Next Mayoral Election

July 27, 2014

For several reasons I am really looking forward to the spring election for Madison mayor.

First, I truly am not sure who I will support in the primary that seems to have at least three contenders.

Second, I have no visceral reaction to any of the candidates as none of them seem polarizing or unable to fulfill the duties of the job should they win.

Third, as demonstrated over the years with blog posts (and all those dinner table and sidewalk conversations) I am really interested and concerned about some of the policy directions taking place in the city.

In other words I am looking forward to being informed, challenged with new ideas, and since this is politics and an election also entertained by the entire process.

As I talk with others about this race I am sensing there is clearly a desire, and perhaps even an acceptance, that new ideas need to be offered for consideration for the problems that we face.  The divide between the races with education and income needs to be addressed.  Homelessness seems to be as bad as ever, development concerns touch every part of the city, and making sure basic services are as good as possible always is a constant requirement for discussion.

I think it clear the three names so far on the list of those seeking the office, current Mayor Paul Soglin, Alderman Scott Resnick, and former Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci are all sincere, dedicated, and desirous of making sure this city moves forward.  To what degree that happens with boldness and how best to chart our path forward is what voters will seek to better understand in the months to come.

There is no doubt that Soglin is best known, and with the number of issues that comes before the city we can place him on both sides of the divide concerning acceptability.  I have agreed with him on some issues such as his anti-gun stands and taken him to task on others such as his budget that cut lifegaurds at some beaches.

There was perhaps no other issue I opposed Soglin over more than his refusal to understand the need for  Madison to keep promises for Overture funding.  Cutting investments in the very things that make our center of the city so lively and special is just the wrong way to proceed.  Thankfully the common council made sure the correct decisions were made in relation to Overture.

Which is why I have some concerns with Scott Resnick when it comes to the much-needed Judge Doyle Square hotel project that will aid Monona Terrace and our entire city.  It is essential that leaders of this city not back away or reject taking a bold step to make sure Madison has the strongest footing possible for convention and tourist dollars.  By being squishy on such an important development calls into question exactly how much spine one can expect on other controversial matters we will confront as a city.  I see this hotel project as much a question of how leaders–or potential leaders–act as I do with the actual issue of what to build and how to fund it.

But I admire Resnick for fighting for expansion of digital services in the city and thinking about future needs of younger generations when it comes to transportation issues such as Uber and Lyft.  While there clearly needs to be more thought given to how new models of rider services might not exclude certain areas of the city or not allow for unscrupulous pricing we should applaud the efforts at thinking about innovative ideas that will benefit the residents who live here.

Maniaci will probably have less money to use for her campaign than her opponents but has proven to be able to get her message imparted through the media for the efforts she undertakes.  I applauded her work at making sure more spaces for smaller vehicle’s in parking ramps were provided.    I gave Maniaci two-thumbs up for attempting to require that landlords provide voter registration forms when tenants move into a residence.

But I have serious concerns about Maniaci’s full-throttled advocacy of development projects.  I think we need to have more thoughtful guidance when it comes to ever higher developments in this city.  While I support and encourage density, and desire growth as it allows for more dynamic neighborhoods and economic return to the city I also strongly feel that local planning documents should be strongly considered and adhered to when planning future growth.   (For instance I supported five floors at 706 Williamson Street, but agreed with many in the neighborhood that six floors was not in the best interests of those who live around and best understand the needs of that area.)

When it comes to city policy I want the candidates for mayor to outline their views about long-range planning and how they would better implement development so it meshes with neighborhood planning documents and also zoning.  The current way of fighting over each and every project with what seems likes a moving set of criteria is frustrating and unseemly.   The concerns raised in a cover-story in Isthmus earlier this year about those who shape planning policy deserves city-wide attention, and the mayoral election is a perfect time for the discussion.

While there are many issues to dialogue over there is no doubt that the personalities of the candidates will, rightly or wrongly, define them as the race unfolds.

I will be the first to admit I find Soglin rumpled and grumpy-looking.  There are times I wonder if he just ate a magic brownie and needs a nap.  When I think he should be in a suit and tie at the city council he is sporting a shirt that looks like he ready for a trip to the Caribbean.   I am well aware others find him ‘comfortable in his own skin’.

Meanwhile there is a ready-made smile and accessible nature to Resnick that will make him a natural for meeting people and addressing the needs of the city.  Being bright and youthful is always a key to making for a media hit and so no one should be surprised when he makes headlines.

While I have never personally met Maniaci there does seem to be an edge that makes her appear on television to be curt and rather demanding.  There is no way to wash away the memory of her performance on the city cable channel erupting before her colleagues when TIF funds were cut for the Edgewater project.    I still recall that night as I sat in my home watching the council meeting (the only humane way to make it through the proceedings that are needlessly long) while reflecting on a cardinal rule in politics.

Never should a politician get angry in public.

The only politician I can recall who did so successfully was Ronald Reagan when he angrily stated “I am paying for this microphone.”  Plainly put Maniaci is no Reagan.

The words from Maniaci rang out that night and have followed and likely will define her in this race.  Still I am open to hearing what she has to offer for new ideas and goals that our city needs to consider as we move forward.

For at the end of the campaign come next April there will be two choices as to we will be governed during the next four years.  At this point we do not know what those choices are or exactly who will be asking us to elect them mayor.  Between then and now I am confident that with the quality of the candidates who have so far announced their intentions to run for mayor means we will have a healthy and robust debate on the issues of the day.

For that we all can be proud and hopefully by the end of the process we will have a leader who can thoughtfully lead us as a city.

Why People Are Moving Left

July 26, 2014

 

This is just one great column.

And this part below was perhaps my favorite–other than the line “The conduct of the GOP during the Obama administration has been a nihilist disgrace.”

I came of age when the right was bristling with new ideas and the left was pretty much exhausted. More important, the quality and civility of the conservative intellectual discourse encouraged eggheads like me to believe in a conservative future that was intelligent, reasoned and nimble. But it’s a long, long way from the heady days of Policy Review to the fulminations of the Daily Caller, a steep slope from Allan Bloom to Mark Levin, and a free-fall from the John McCain of the 1990s to the nomination of Sarah Palin as vice-presidential timber. Skepticism of a kind of liberal intellectual rationalism is one thing; scorn for the entire intellectual and academic exercise is quite another.

 

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