Dane County’s Badger Prairie Health Care Center Is Like Nursing Home On Steroids

Difficult decisions to make need not be dreadful ones thanks to Dane County’s Badger Prairie Health Care Center.

If you are like me then you have a certain image in your mind of what a nursing home looks and smells like.  To be honest, far too often that image is still an accurate one, especially in small rural areas.

But in Dane County there is a bright and noteworthy exception to the ingrained images of nursing homes that deserves praise and mention.  Thanks to the commitment of taxpayers to put our money where our mouths are this area has nothing short of a nursing home on steroids.

That is a most remarkable achievement that makes it easier for all involved when making tough decisions.

Badger Prairie Health Care Center is a brand new facility that cost over $22 million and opened earlier this year.  It made me think of the grand Hospice Care building in Fitchburg.  Each facility has been able to transform and soften the rougher edges off tough decisions with the use of design and character of a building.  As such, though it seems impossible to be impressed with a nursing home, after touring Badger Prairie that is exactly how I felt.

Best of all I was made more easy with the decision that had to be made due to the place being staffed with some very commendable people.

James and I have sought out the best care available over the past number of years for a friend who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  As this most frustrating, unforgivable, and damning disease continues to take control of our friend more advanced skilled nursing services are required.

Last week after having visited a number of community-based residential facilities in Madison and the surrounding area I made a phone call to Badger Prairie.  It was late in the day, and the places we had already looked at were coming up short in terms of where we would feel comfortable in placing our friend.

So shortly before 4 P.M. I called the Director of Social Services at Badger Prairie and asked if there was any way to see the facility that evening.  I would accommodate in any way if we could take a tour.

I explained a bit of the back story which involved seeking guardianship of our friend in court this week, his being placed at the VA hospital while we sought a safe home for him, and the clock that was ticking.

With compassion and professionalism I was informed that she did not have kids at home that evening and a tour could be arranged.  Later she commented that the care we showed for our friend was obvious, as was the stress level of making a good decision over his future.  James and I have taken on this task as volunteers and are committed to following through as best we can.

From that point forward things moved quickly.

Clean and fresh surroundings greeted us, along with all the services one would need from barbers to dentistry all under one roof.

I was also very impressed with the ‘green’ technology that has been used to not only help the planet, but also be economical for Dane County taxpayers.

A solar hot water heater warms water used for laundry, showers, and baths.  More than 100 geo-thermal wells were drilled at the site to pull up water from the earth to help heat and cool the site.  These wells are all 300 feet deep and will reduce the need to run costly air conditioners and heaters by helping control the inside temperature.

As always I somehow latch onto odd facts, and this experience was no different.  Most will know that Badger Prairie is one of the oldest, continually operating health care facilities in Wisconsin.  That is very impressive.

Which leads me to my historical trivia angle to this story.  During the Civil War this center helped Civil War widows and their children with their  health care needs.

In a few hours this will be home for our friend.

We think a wise and medically prudent decision was made.

A sincere thanks to those at Badger Prairie who made a tough decision not be a dreadful one.

Judge Sumi’s Ruling On Wisconsin Bargaining Law Notice To Republicans That Process Matters

One of the foundations that makes our government work, be it at the local, state, or federal level is that the process for making laws must be uniform and fair.  The reason for this is that if all the players understand the rules, and follow them accordingly regardless of the outcome, no one can claim they were not treated fairly.  While there can be, and often are, extreme differences over policy directions there should never be a time when the process itself is shredded in order to favor one partisan group over the other.

During my time in government while working in the Wisconsin State Assembly I saw the process play out over and over.  It is a most remarkable process, and one that has proven over time to work.  Sometimes my side were the victors, and at other times we came up short.  But I never recall when the process itself was the result of the anger among the players.

Until this past winter when the conservative Republican forces that seemingly can not play fair, or shoot straight attempted at every turn and bend in the road to ram down the throats of this state a bill to severely curtail collective bargaining rights for state workers and public employees.

It was jarring to me as I saw the shortened voting procedure in the Assembly when the Republican leadership did not even hold the roll open long enough to get all of their own votes tallied.  The open meeting fiasco that led to the legal challenges were not only the last straw for most of my fellow citizens, but perhaps the worst political theatrics I have heard about in the Wisconsin Statehouse.  Mind you, I have seen and followed my share of events over the decades.  Nothing reeked as much as what the Republicans were doing to the process this winter.

Today, then, the only outcome that could take place happened.

A Dane County judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers. 

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled on Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run up passing the controversial measure. She said that renders the law void. 

In her ruling, Sumi said that there was “no conflicting Senate, Assembly or joint rule in effect on March 9, 2011, that would have excused compliance with the public notice requirement” of 24 hours notice. She went on to say, “The evidence also demonstrated a failure to obey even the two-hour notice allowed for good cause if 24-hour notice is impossible or impractical.”

It should be noted all along that Judge Sumi stated that all Governor Walker and his Republican allies needed to do was pass another collective bargaining bill, in a proper and legal way.  That the GOP is nervous as hell about this route, and know the results that will follow is not the concern of the courts.  That is a political matter that the people of this state will handle.

The process of government is important, and it is quite marvelous when looked at closely.  It works as a system for passing bills and making laws.  However, when it is tampered with and made to be the object of partisan chicanery it can become dangerous, and even force a judge to straighten it out.

Today the political process was the victor in Wisconsin thanks to Judge Sumi.

Damage Estimates OVERBLOWN By Republicans Concerning State Capitol Protests

Is this the same methodology that Governor Walker and his budget team used for arriving at their fiscal analysis for the state?

Like thousands of others I have been in the Wisconsin State Capitol often over the past three weeks.  I can attest that there was no damage to the building.  The floors needed to be cleaned….but other than that the building did not need to be replaced.  

State officials charged with overseeing the state Capitol are now backing away from their estimate that demonstrators did more than $7 million in damage to the building.

“I think that’s more of a worst-case scenario,” said Jeff Plale, the former Democratic state senator who is now the state facilities administrator. “There are other estimates.”

Touring the Capitol Friday morning with state architect Dan Stephans, Plale said he had not immediately observed any damage from demonstrations over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill, though the pair was just starting their tour. Plale said that he didn’t believe the state had had any experienced contractor provide the quote on the damages.

Officials said in Dane County court Thursday that the damage could come from tape used for posting fliers and papers and other materials.

Workers were already beginning to remove those Friday. In one second-floor hallway at least, a Journal Sentinel reporter could see no damage to the marble where the tape had been removed.

In court Thursday, officials with the Walker administration said that damage from the demonstration to the marble inside and outside the Capitol would cost an estimated $7.5 million: $6 million for damage inside, $1 million for damage outside and $500,000 for additional expenses. State officials made the claim as they were arguing their case for restricting access to the statehouse.

When Governor’s Budget Address Is Not Necessarily Biggest News Story Of The Day

Most reading this blog know what took place at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday was not typical for what happens at this beautiful building.    The best one can say the events on Tuesday were most unusual.

I am not referring to the fact that a special session of the State Legislature was being held to hear a budget address from a governor.  That might qualify any other time as the biggest event of the day.

But not on Tuesday.

Instead what took place was s series of actions and counter-actions, that while all expressions of our democracy, was also symptomatic of great political dysfunctionalism.

If a stranger were to have landed at the Capitol Square, not knowing the events of the past weeks, the first thing that might raise qualms would be the high number of law enforcement around the area.  When Governor Walker made his address in the State Assembly the number of security personnel was stunning.   If nothing else the image of a Capitol in the midst of a security ‘crisis’ made for great photographs.

The once open and accessible State Capitol had become more a fortress that required something akin to a secret handshake in order to enter. 

In the midst of the near shutdown of the State Capitol came the decision from Dane County Judge  Daniel Moeser who issued a temporary restraining order opening the building to the general public.  That there was not a general flow of people in and out of the building was due to the Department of Administration trying to control events in the Statehouse in a partisan fashion.

It is quite telling that Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney addressed the press and underscored the constitutional concerns that many have with the manner in which the Walker Administration is trying to control events.

“I refused to put deputy sheriffs in a position to be palace guards”, was the way Mahoney summed up the matter that is now taking a legal turn on the Isthmus. 

Also weighing in on Tuesday, and making the day anything but typical, was the comments from Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.  He said in reference to the consideration by Governor Walker of placing “troublemakers” into the peaceful protests, that while there was no criminal activity, the governor’s statements were concerning and alarming and speak to character.

Not the headlines any governor wants to read the following morning in the newspaper.

The fact that the Capitol Rotunda is still the site of some who have stayed in the building to protest, and many more were amassed around the statehouse wanting to enter made for a strange day.  On top of that were the “Fab 14”, the Democratic State Senators who are still staying out-of-state in order to forge a better budget repair bill that does not end collective bargaining rights for public workers.

No matter what side of the issue one takes on the matters now facing the state one thing can be agreed upon.  Nothing is typical at the State Capitol.

As the events played out I thought back to the days when I worked under the dome and the budget address would be made.  I recall the large carts that came to each office and unloaded copies of the budget and accompanying documents and analyses. 

No matter how fond I am of those days, and yearn for the more calm and reasoned ways that political matters were once resolved, I am very aware that this is a new time. 

A loud and cantankerous time when a governor’s budget address is not necessarily the biggest news story of the day.

Joe Parisi For Dane County Executive, A Nice Person For Troubled Times


I am very proud to endorse Joe Parisi for Dane County Executive.  He is perfectly suited to provide leadership based on his skills, intellect, and temperament.

Joe Parisi tips the scale due to experience and the tone he has brought to politics in general, and to this race for county executive.

There is no doubt that even in Dane County, where our economic health is better than other areas of the state, we still feel the turmoil and angst of too many folks out of work.    It is not just enough to lure jobs to this region, but to make sure they are good paying jobs that provide benefits for all that live and work here.  We are not a bunch of faceless strangers but a series of  neighbors and communities that care about each other.  As such, we want and need to have economic gains for everyone.

Joe Parisi has stated often how he wants to use the county executive’s office as a place for businesses to get in touch with the resources they require to create and retain jobs.   But there is more to the task of creating jobs than just putting a paycheck in someone’s hand.

Whether we want to face it or not we are in a transformative age when it comes to job creation.  The question is do we look forward and create the jobs of tomorrow, or do we retreat and try to reclaim what was lost.

Future jobs in the green economy need to be pursued with all the speed and gusto Dane County can muster.  When Joe Parisi talks about making this county a leader in clean energy jobs I am hearing someone talk about a future with economic benefits for everyone.  When Parisi talks about these jobs I know he wants Dane County to be ahead of the curve in order to be more competitive with other regions of the country.

When Parisi speaks about the need for smart job growth in Dane County I am hearing a leader, not just a candidate.  Be it wind turbines, or solar panels on homes, Parisi has a vision for the future that blends our long-term interests with solid paying jobs.  The second largest county in Wisconsin would be well advised to heed his words.

With the green economy, and the needs of future businesses that will develop in Dane County, comes the vital questions surrounding our transportation policies.  For too long these issues have been mired in anger and confusion.  It need not be that way.

There is no doubt that commuter rail needs to become a reality if we are to be more competitive with other regions of the nation.  There is no way to deny that rail must be an integral part of real economic developement in the county.

Joe Parisi has the ability to communicate effectively without being antagonistic.  In this era  of mean-spirited political rhetoric Parisi will provide straight talk on a whole range of issues, up to and including trains, without resorting to the ugly side of politics. 

Kathleen Falk demonstrated how people with differing perspectives could work for the better good, and I know Parisi will do the same.  Parisi is known as a genuinely nice person, and that will go a long way in helping to shape policy goals with those who work with him.

While working to create a better economic climate in Dane County we can not neglect those who need social services.    While listening to responses of the candidates at the public forums there is no doubt  that Parisi is committed to making sure those who need help will not be forgotten.  All of us who share a set of values about the kind of  communities we want to live in understand the need to remain firm in protecting social programs. 

I truly think that Joe Parisi understands the old saying that we are only as strong as our weakest link.   That also seems to be the general view of the citizens of Dane County.

There will be many hard spots ahead for the new county executive, but I know Joe Parisi is well-suited to meet them.

We only need to look to the heart of the Madison isthmus to find political statehouse antagonists who snicker at what we have in Dane County.  The question then is how to deal with Republicans who have an ax to grind?

While there has been much talk of Governor Walker in this campaign the fact is we need to maintain civility in order to construct a working relationship for the next four years with the political opposition.

I know the maturity and decency that Joe Parisi has demonstrated over the years in the State Legislature, and in this campaign will enable him to best work with Republicans while always firmly grounded with his values.

Dane County is facing a future that demands solid leadership based on an open-eyed approach.  The best person to lead the way forward is someone many of us have long-known and deeply respect.

Joe Parisi is the best choice for Dane County Executive.