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Elvis’ Graceland Makes Front Business Page Of Wall Street Journal

October 6, 2015

Smart public investments are something that can work and should be encouraged by local governments looking to add jobs and needed revenue base.  I was most emphatic over the need for Madison to work at making sure Exact Sciences was located on our isthmus.  Last week the city council took the vote that will make sure the finances are in place to allow the job-producing business to start construction later this year.

So it was a real pleasure to open my paper and see above the fold on the business section of The Wall Street Journal the face of Elvis in front of his beloved Graceland. It made me glad to read that Memphis is also making their tax dollars work for future growth and added revenue.  That city, is after all, much in need of finding new and innovative ways to grow economically.


Now the company that manages Graceland is making it even bigger, with a $125 million expansion that includes a new hotel and entertainment complex. But some people aren’t thrilled by one part of the project—the $79 million in local and state tax breaks through which taxpayers are helping to pay for it.

The Graceland incentives are the latest in a string of tax breaks handed out by Memphis, Tenn. to spur economic development, and they have made the city a flash point in a broader debate: Are the $70 billion that state and local governments award in such deals each year a smart way to boost economies, or a giveaway to private businesses which share too few of the risks?

Memphis officials expect the Graceland project to create hundreds of jobs and boost the city’s struggling economy. They say the tax incentives were critical to making the expansion a reality, and that ultimately the city will make back more than what it is laying out.

The Graceland expansion centers on the Guest House at Graceland, a new hotel adjacent to the mansion, with 450 rooms and 16,000 square feet of meeting space. Already under construction, it will open in October 2016, replacing Graceland’s smaller, aging Heartbreak Hotel. A planned 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex would house Elvis memorabilia, shops and restaurants.

Memphis and the state of Tennessee are helping pay for the project in three ways. Some of the sales taxes collected at Graceland, half of future increases in Graceland’s property taxes and a new 5% surcharge on merchandise sold at the site will all be steered toward paying off the project’s upfront financing, which was led by J.P. Morgan Chase JPM 0.05 % & Co.’s Highbridge investment arm.

Together, the three tax breaks have a present value of about $78.6 million over 30 years, said James McLaren, an attorney for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., which manages

Helicopter Parents At UW-La Crosse

October 6, 2015

As I read the newspaper article today about the uproar coming from the UW-La Crosse my mind raced to the famous segment of the film When Harry Met Sally.  I wonder specifically how did some of the parents of those now enrolled at UW- La Crosse explain that one to their youngsters when it was played on television or commented about in comedy routines?

The strange story results from a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse dorm director who apparently offended some people over an email tutoring men how to help women overcome what the message called an “orgasm deficit”.  It seems hardly enough of a story to get a blurb in any newspaper let alone a long column on page three of my Wisconsin State Journal.  I simply am having trouble seeing what it is that makes this worthy of any attention.

What really tripped my trigger–and no pun intended here–was the report that while the email did not faze some students it apparently left others feeling offended.   Then there came this nugget “and some parents called Legiste’s (the writer of the email) supervisors with strong objections.”


Parents of adult college students are calling the university to object to an email about human sexuality that might somehow–and I fail to even know what comes next–terrorize, illuminate, mar or in some way harm their child for the future in the bedroom?  Who are these parents who think their child would be harmed by the email?  ‘Children’ who are now adults at a university and statistics show the majority to be already sexually active.

At a time when male erection problems are the stuff that makes for many a television commensal the idea that promoting how a woman might repeat a Meg Ryan moment is just over the top.  That is really something that should trouble all of us.   The lack of honesty over how we deal with sexuality in 2015 is as much a mystery to me as the point of the email.

But the fact parents are calling the UW must make some of their adult children walking the campus wonder if they also need an underwear check-up.  After all college is about opening new horizons and broadening thinking skills.  If one is never to be offended–and I can not really think what happened was offensive–then there is never going to be a good time for a deeper education.  The offended  kids might as well return home and learn nothing about the world around them.

Grudging Respect For Congressman Jason Chaffetz

October 6, 2015

There are probably only a very small handful of issues where I agree with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz.  I could not even say what they might be at this time, but the odds are that at some point on some issues we agree.

But having said that I think it important to give a tip of the hat to his candidacy for speaker of the house.  Even though I think he would be a wrong choice for the institution and would do nothing to advance the degree of compromise and cooperation that is required in congress I still think his effort to just be a part of the contest for election to the speakership should be appreciated.    At a time when too many are timid to try in the face of the long odds at winning he stepped up and threw his hat into the ring.

In politics that counts for a lot, and earns some attention, even on a  blog written by a decades long liberal.

Chaffetz even knows he will likely fail.  “I’m probably going to lose, but I’m okay with that.”

That’s a pretty surprising admission from someone who just announced they were running.  But again I applaud the effort.

Everything will come to a head (sort of) Thursday going into the closed-door speaker elections.  But the real test is when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s speakership is put to the entire House floor, where he needs 218 votes to win.

I think McCarthy will prevail.  While he is not ideal he will be a better fit for the position than Chaffetz who has too many crazed conservative ideas that must not be allowed more space for them to be played out.

Still he should be recognized for trying in the face of defeat.

Oregon Shooting: Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin Is One Sick Puppy, Needs To Resign Or Kicked Out Of Office

October 6, 2015

When tragic events like last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College occur, people want answers. What led the shooter to murder nine people in cold blood? Where did he get his guns? And, what can be done to prevent this from happening again?

Thorough and transparent investigations are vital to getting accurate answers. But we’ve now learned that the man tasked with leading this investigation is a 9/11 and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist who posted online propaganda claiming both events were staged by the government to “disarm” the American people. He even wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden stating he would not enforce background check laws.


Let that sink in as you recall the precious faces of those kids at the school in Sandy Hook.

This is unacceptable. We trust our elected officials will uphold the law, especially when public safety is on the line. And when it comes to conducting the investigation into last week’s shooting, the public needs confidence that it will be based on evidence and facts, not myth and political bias. Sheriff John Hanlin has proven he’s not the man for the job.

He should either resign or be pushed from office by those residents in Douglas County who know better about how government officials should conduct their business on the taxpayers dime.

I Will Be On Local News Tonight

October 4, 2015

I was interviewed by WKOW-TV (Channel 27) today and will be on the news tonight at 5:30 and 10:00 regarding lights on the bike path where a violent rape took place over three weeks ago.  I have been a strong advocate of lighting the path.

The American Fear Of ‘The Outsider’

October 4, 2015

For weeks my heart has gone out to the ones who are fleeing the ravages of war in Syria.  The small children who trek the long miles day after day alongside their parents with the look of such sadness in their eyes when filmed for newscasts has touched my heart.  The world effort to make a change in their lives by relocating them to nations that can provide safety and economic gain is surely a good thing.  A moral thing that should call us to action.

So it was with utter dismay when I read Saturday that Donald Trump while running for Republican presidential party nominee stated “This could be one of the great military coups of all time if they send them to our country — young, strong people and they turn out to be ISIS.”

Trump’s vision of America and my vision about who we are and what this place is all about are very different perspectives.  Very different.

The Trump way of looking at the influx of immigrants who might speak a different language or eat with different spices or connect with God in their own way is not knew.  That however does not make his statement any less sad regarding the current folks who need our help.  But it is worth reminding ourselves that xenophobia has always been a part of our history.  It is also most important to note that it has also been shown to be severely misguided.

In 1789 there was a massive national angst about French people when the fear of war with our former ally during the revolution spun out of control.  People then there calling for the expulsion of the French immigrants and even calling into question restaurants at the time who served French food.  It was simply absurd.

In World War 1 the great fear were the Germans who had come to this nation to make a better life and were called into question about their loyalty.  In the second World War it would be the Japanese who would be rounded up and sent to camps.

In the recent past children from Central America were treated horribly while trying to find a place to shelter when in California.  It was shocking to see that bus of kids surrounded by angry and loud white protesters.

There have always been those who seek to place national angst on the outsider and try to damage the human spirit of those who for whatever reason are slightly apart in custom or religion than the majority of the residents of the nation.  How pathetic and sad it has been for our nation to have to then read our history about the ways so many have had to deal with prejudice and endure the undermining of their attempts to make life work and live out dreams.

We are better as a nation when we hold firm to the guiding principles that this nation was founded on and move forward in the human spirit that binds us all one to another.  Our history confirms that fact.  Our inner compass tells us that to true.

Let us end the war on ‘the outsider’ and work to make this nation better for all.

World Looks At American Gun Violence And Wonders What Is Wrong With Us?

October 3, 2015

The Economist, in June:

The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become — for those not directly affected by tragedy — ritualised and then blend into the background noise. That normalisation makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.”


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