Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.
Vanguard Coverage this Posting
Obama's Fairness "Silence" Doctrine comes early to Menomonee Falls
Attendance records of Village President and Trustees examined
School district enrollment on the decline through 2017-18
IRS cites Falls Cable Access
Police Department apologizes to false arrest victim
DA contradicts Village Clerk on her documents for 2004 voting irregularities that apparently don't exist
$700 billion taxpayer bailout follow up with Obama appointments
Jeskewitz unused sick leave payout
Donate blood at St. Mary's on December 9th
Obama Fairness "Silence" Doctrine Comes Early to Menomonee Falls Village Board for Citizens at Budget Hearing
The Vanguard attended the 2009 Menomonee Falls Village Board Budget Hearing on Monday, November 24, 2008 and was surprised to learn that President Obama's Fairness "Silence" Doctrine (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6597380.html?rssid=193) has already been implemented by the Village Manager and Village Board without any federal legislation being passed.
This appears to be the Village Manager and Village Board's idea of hope and change along with President Obama to silence anyone who wants to ask questions, make suggestions or challenge public policy decisions of the Village Manager and Village Board.
Never in the history of the Menomonee Falls Village Board have citizens been silenced at any Budget Hearing. Budget Hearings are required by law where taxpayers are given the opportunity to ask questions about the budget and engage with the Village Manager and Village Board.
The 2009 Budget is over $30 million.
The Vanguard wrote about the 2009 Budget matters (https://bloggers.mycommunitynow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/11/23/2009-village-board-budget-hearing.aspx) before the hearing to try and give the taxpayers a heads-up.
Any citizen could speak at the Budget Hearing for a maximum of 180 seconds and were then silenced by the Village Board. You read that correctly, 180 seconds for comments, to make suggestions, ask questions about the over $30 million in expenditures or public policy.
Only one of the three local newspapers attended the meeting. How sad.
The Budget Hearing, by design, was poorly publicized by the Village Manager and Village Board. It should have been included in a newsletter, if the Village had one, and it could have been included in the water/sewer bill mailings, but of course wasn't. There was little if any notice in the local newspapers of the upcoming Budget Hearing without any detail that mattered.
Rechlicz and McDonald are No Shows
Village President Rechlicz and Trustee McDonald were no shows at the 2009 Budget Hearing. This is consistent with their attendance records of the last few years. More on that later.
The Budget Hearing is probably the most important meeting of the year for Village Board Members to attend for discussion of the $30 million in expenditures funded by the taxpayers.
Seeing that there is only about 20 meetings (+/-) a year, is it asking too much of elected officials to attend the most important meeting of the year?
It's good to know the Village President is not going to be running for re-election in 2009 if he can't make meetings.
$2-$3 Million in Taxpayer Saving Ideas Squelched by Village Board Because of Their 180 Second Obama Fairness "Silence" Doctrine
The Vanguard was only able to submit a partial list of the following taxpayer saving ideas because of the Village Board silencing the complete list due to their 180 second Obama Fairness "Silence" Doctrine:
Renegotiate and restructure the $5 million unused sick leave lump sum cash payouts (http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/08/20/5-million-taxpayer-tab-for-unused-sick-leave-backdrop-pension-cash-payouts-to-retirees.aspx) to retirees. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $120,000
Renegotiate and restructure employee contributions for health care premiums from 7.5% to 10% of the monthly premium (https://bloggers.mycommunitynow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/08/13/village-health-care-plan-a-really-good-deal-gone-bad-reeeeeeeeeeeeally-bad.aspx). Annual Taxpayer Savings: $80,000
Eliminate Contingency Fund. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $100,000 (Note: This may have already been done for the 2009 Budget if citizens would have been allowed to ask questions at the Hearing)
Utilize Health Savings Accounts (HSA's) for employee health care plan. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $500,000
Renegotiate and restructure employee retirement and disability income plan where employees contribute 10% of the premium instead of the current 0% amount. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $130,000
Require Waste Management to pick up our garbage for free (http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/07/10/the-great-garbage-debate.aspx). Our garbage used to be included in our property tax bill until Village President Rechlicz made it an additional cost of $90 in new taxes above and beyond the normal tax bill in 2006. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $1.3 million or $90 per household
Liquidate the majority of the taxpayer surplus account from Falls Cable Access. Taxpayer dividend: $400,000
Cap legal fees and take any overruns out of the $7.5 million Taxpayer Surplus Account. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $200,000
Freeze or cap employee salary/wage increases. Annual Taxpayer Savings: $150,000
Re-qualify for the State of Wisconsin's Expenditure Restraint Program (ERP). Annual Taxpayer Savings: $200,000
Look for higher interest rate bearing accounts for surplus and unused cash accounts. Annual Taxpayer Dividend: $100,000
These are very simple, practical and easy ideas to implement if our community only had a Village Board that would ask the necessary questions and had the courage to do the right thing for the community instead of the special interest groups.
Implementing these ideas would lower every home owner's property tax bill by a minimum of $100 just for the Village portion.
Now that's tax relief for the already overburdened homeowner heading into a recession who needs all of the extra money they can get especially for seniors and those on fixed incomes who have seen their account values, interest payments and pension plans take a huge hit recently.
The Vanguard has been asking for the elimination of the Contingency Fund and for employees to pay more for their health care premiums for over 5 years now. It's nice to see that employees now pay 7.5% or $90 a month toward their health care premiums instead of the previous 5% or $70 a month. It should now go to 10% for the new contract.
It would be nice to know this information, but the Village Manager and Village Board would not take questions at the Budget Hearing.
$50,000 here and $100,000 there and all of a sudden it adds up to a $1,000,000.
The Village Manager and Village Board refused to answer any questions or accept any suggestions about ideas to save the taxpayers millions of dollars without changing, compromising or re-calculating Village programs or services because of their new 180 second Obama Fairness "Silence" Doctrine.
This is a shame and is so reminiscent of 18th Century Scottish History Professor Alexander Tyler's, The Fall of the Athenian Republic (http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/21PbAr/Hst/US/DmocAthnsUS.htm there are questions about the accuracy of this, but it is very true of our society today), because citizens were afraid to stand up for themselves to challenge their leaders when those leaders would tell the public one thing only later to find out those leaders weren't being totally accurate or truthful to the citizens.
The boiled frog theory (http://allaboutfrogs.org/stories/boiled.html) also applies in this situation. If you want to boil a frog, don't put him in a boiling pot of hot water because he will instinctively jump out to protect himself. Instead, put him in a kettle of cool water and gradually turn up the temperature while he perishes with a smile on his face because he didn't detect danger.
The same is true for citizens of Menomonee Falls. If they get their news from the three local newspapers and cable access, it's no wonder the Village Manager and Village Board can get away with sky rocketing tax increases and no input from citizens.
The Vanguard believes it's time for new leadership on the Village Board if citizens want lower taxes and an open and honest government.
Like the 1986 movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", when Ben Stein is taking attendance for Ferris Bueller's class, The Vanguard has been made aware of several Village Board Members missing or being late for a lot of meetings in the last couple years.
The Village Board meets about 20 +/- times a year. If a Board Member misses a Board Meeting they also miss committee meetings.
In the last two years, the following is a summary of the number of meetings missed or arriving late for the following Board Members:
President Rechlicz has missed or been late for a total of 10 Board Meetings so far in 2007-08.
Trustee McDonald has missed or been late for a total of 11 Board Meetings so far in 2007-08.
Trustee Ellis has missed or been late for a total of 9 Board Meetings so far in 2007-08.
Trustee Steliga has missed or been late for a total of 11 Board Meetings so far in 2007-08.
Trustee Steliga lobbied hard to be on the Library Board and has missed, been late or left early for 8 out of 12 meetings in '05, 9 out of 12 in '06, 10 out of 12 in '07 and 8 out of 10 so far in '08.
The Vanguard believes that local officials should have a better attendance record than this if they truly want to serve on the Village Board.
Let the Village Board know if you think they should attend meetings when they were elected to serve (http://www.menomonee-falls.org/index.asp?nid=292).
School District Enrollment Continues to Decline
The school superintendent gave The Vanguard a copy of the 2008 Facilities Report and referred to page 23 and Table 15 in the report for enrollment projections.
The superintendent was very kind and did not charge for the report which is a fresh change from the way the Village Manager does business as the Village Manager continues to try and keep information from the public instead of giving it out to the public by trying to charge astronomical amounts to purposely discourage the public from asking for information the public is legally entitled to about Village Government.
The District's enrollment projections are as follows with Consultant Applied Population Laboratory including Chapter 220, K-4 and Open Enrollment:
Take out the new 215 K-4 students each year and the numbers are devastating.
This a far cry from what the community was told in 2002-03 when we were asked to pass a $32 million referendum including a new elementary school that was fortunately defeated by a 60%-40% margin in February of 2004 or we would be looking at closing even more schools than what we already are.
The superintendent also said for the future that new "open" seats each year would mirror the decline in enrollment for Menomonee Falls residents for the Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment Programs by limiting those new "open" seats to 10% of the enrollment for Menomonee Falls students.
IRS In Their Authority Cites Falls Cable Access on Lack of Federal 990 Tax Returns for the Last 15 Years
The Vanguard has obtained a copy of IRS Form 886-A, Explanations of Items, citing Falls Cable Access (FCAC) and requiring FCAC to file Federal 990 Tax Returns per the original IRS order from 1992 when FCAC was incorporated and granted federal tax exempt status for a 501 (c) 3 private non-profit corporation.
The IRS in their Explanations of Items advises FCAC of the following:
To follow the guidelines found in the letter dated April 29, 1992 from the IRS which granted FCAC exemption from federal income tax under section 501 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in section 501 (c) 3.
This letter established the 990 filing requirement.
Based on information received from FCAC, a May 12, 2005 IRS letter from Debra Kawecki stated that FCAC was an "affiliate of a governmental unit" and is not required to file Federal 990 Tax Returns.
Upon IRS examination of FCAC records, the IRS determined that FCAC functions according to its classification granted on April 29, 1992.
IRS and FCAC agreed that FCAC should file Federal 990 Tax Returns.
The "governmental unit" never reflected FCAC operations as a part of its operations.
The IRS then obtained Federal 990 Tax Returns for the years 2004-06.
FCAC established reasonable cause for not filing 990's in the past and therefore would not be penalized by the IRS.
The IRS final review concluded that FCAC is required to file 990 Federal Tax Returns.
The Vanguard has written extensively about FCAC (http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/tags/Falls+Cable+Access/default.aspx and http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/09/23/public-employee-benefit-costs.aspx) and their repeated negligence over the last 15 years along with the lack of any oversight or accountability by the Village Manager and Village Board of over $1 million in taxpayer's money in cable fees.
Maybe the $7,500 of the taxpayer's money that was used on legal fees by FCAC in 2005-06 could have been used for something more beneficial to the community if FCAC would have simply done the right thing since 1992 and filed tax returns as they were ordered to do by the IRS since inception.
Of course with this being Menomonee Falls, nothing will be done to the violators. Usually personnel who make mistakes like this are disciplined or reprimanded. But this is Menomonee Falls where mediocrity is rewarded. As a matter of fact, they will probably get a raise and look for some more awards that they could apply for to improve their public relations.
The taxpayers paid a consultant somewhere between $10,000-$20,000 in 2005-06 that concluded the Village Board and Village Manager needed to have much more oversight of FCAC that unfortunately has not been followed.
Why have consultants then if their recommendations are not going to be followed or at least debated for implementation? It's just the taxpayer's money right?
It is nice to know FCAC will now be accountable to the public with the filing of their 990 Federal Tax Returns even if the Village Manager and Village Board want nothing to do with FCAC even though it has been recommended by outside consultants for the Board and Manager to have more oversight of FCAC.
To all of those citizens who endured the threats, taunts, scorn, ridicule, nasty emails, mockery, stonewalling for the release of public records and unprofessional behavior of FCAC representatives, thank you.
Thank you for hanging in there when your Village Manager and Village Board would not do their job and protect you, the citizen, from these unfortunate attacks from FCAC.
It must be nice to know you were right all of these years.
FCAC's tax returns can be viewed at www.guidestar.org.
The Attorney General's Office is yet to render an opinion about FCAC as a result of the July 11, 2008 Supreme Court Ruling on the Beaver Dam Economic Development Corporation, Case Number 2006AP662, which ruled in favor of the people and not the politicians for transparency and openness of how the taxpayer's money is spent.
Police Department Apologizes to False Arrest Victim
The Vanguard has obtained a copy of a Police Department communication to the citizen who was falsely arrested by the Menomonee Falls Police Department earlier this year over a citation the Department said they had not paid (http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/08/09/quot-sir-please-put-your-hands-above-your-head-and-spread-your-legs-quot.aspx) even though the citizen had.
It is nice to know the Department took responsibility and apologized for their error.
The Chief, in a written communication to The Vanguard, has made it known this type of human error will not reoccur.
We're still seeking to see what type of discipline, if any, was enacted for this error.
We're still working on an update for The Phoenix Computer Program that taxpayers paid $169,375 for in 2006.
DA Says He Doesn't Have Any Record of 2004 Voting Irregularities from Clerk's Office
The Village Clerk, through the Village Attorney, admits to several voting irregularities in 2004 that she says were forwarded to the DA's Office, but didn't keep copies, which she is required to do so by State Law, when The Vanguard asked her for copies of the documents she allegedly forwarded to the DA.
The DA's Office, in a communication to The Vanguard, states that he does not have any documents from the Village Clerk regarding 2004 voting irregularities that she alleges to have forwarded to him.
Someone is not telling the truth here and one has to hope the DA can be trusted when it comes to matters like this.
The concern of course is that the people who have committed these irregularities (http://blogs.menomoneefallsnow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/10/15/cloud-hovers-over-integrity-of-menomonee-falls-election.aspx), as has now been admitted to by the Village Clerk, will go unprosecuted.
The Vanguard now hopes the Village Manager and Village Board will require the Village Clerk to follow State Law by forwarding matters of voting irregularities to the DA immediately and to keep copies of those irregularities to make sure the same people don't keep breaking the law.
It's also nice to know, through the Village Attorney, the Village Clerk is now following Federal Election Law of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) 2002.
Unfortunately, the 2,592 voting registrations of 2006 and the 325 voting registrations of 2007 in Menomonee Falls were not verified by the Village Clerk as was required by HAVA since January 1, 2006 because the Village Attorney says the Village Clerk takes her direction from the State Government Accountability Board (GAB) which didn't start following HAVA until August of 2008 as a result of a lawsuit filed against them by AG Van Hollen.
The only thing that can be hoped for in future elections is that the Village Clerk will finally verify voting registrations to protect the integrity of our elections in Menomonee Falls to prevent the voting irregularities of 2004.
We should have the number of new voter registrations for 2008 sometime in January of 2009.
We Want These Guys to Run Our Financial System Under Obama?
Cross your fingers and "hope" this works for the sake of our country on the bailout:
Our new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, whose job it was to oversee Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citi, Bear Stearns, etc (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/25/business/25sorkin.php).
Bill Clinton gets $2 million in speaking fees while banks struggle (http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=39902).
Citi Guru Robert Rubin didn't think there was a crisis (http://money.cnn.com/2008/01/31/news/economy/rubin_benner.fortune/) but got his $100 million while the meltdown continued all around him (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E6DD1338F934A35750C0A9669C8B63&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/R/Rubin,%20Robert%20E).
Citi's Vikram Pandit got his $216 million payout while his company collapsed and the taxpayers were asked to bail them out ( http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/14/business/citi.php).
Chrysler's Nardelli got $216 million for running Home Depot into the ground and now wants $25 billion more for GM and Ford from the taxpayers (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2007-01-03-hd-nardelli_x.htm).
We're supposed to give Citi $400 million so they can have their name on a ball park (http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN2149039220081121)?
The sad thing is the government knew about this and chose to do nothing about it because of pressure from the very banks that are now looking for handouts from the taxpayers (http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/01/news/ignored_warnings.ap/index.htm?postversion=2008120106).
These people are all supporters, advisors and or nominees of Obama.
God help us all.
The same thing will happen in Menomonee Falls with the $42 million Municipal Facilities Fund Bailout of the Village Board (https://bloggers.mycommunitynow.com/the_vanguard/archive/2008/09/30/public-employee-benefit-costs-ii.aspx) unless the citizens contact the Village Board (http://www.menomonee-falls.org/index.asp?nid=292) to let them know they want Waste Management to pay the $42 million and not the taxpayers as was originally promised in 2000-02 by the same members that are still on the Village Board (Steliga, McDonald and Jeskewitz) along with former Village President Greco.
Jeskewitz's Unused Sick Leave Payout Nears $22,000
The Vanguard has obtained the scheduled unused sick leave payout for retiring State Representative Jeskewitz.
The other legislators (Senator Darling and Kanavas and Representative Pridemore) representing Menomonee Falls have all publicly declined receiving this benefit when they leave the legislature.
The Vanguard has asked Representative Jeskewitz what her intentions are with the taxpayer's $22,000 for the unused sick leave payout and she has not responded.
We will continue to ask and hope that she will follow the lead of her colleagues and refuse the payout.
Sick leave should be used for sick leave, not cash payouts or health care premiums.
Is it any wonder the taxes are so high in Wisconsin?
Donate Blood at St. Mary's on Tuesday, December 9th
A number of readers of The Vanguard volunteer to donate blood to the Blood Center of Wisconsin (www.bcw.edu).
The next opportunity is Tuesday, December 9th, 1:30-6:30 P.M. at St. Mary's in Conference Rooms A & B on Main Street just east of the downtown bridge on the north side of the street.
Interested parties are invited to call Lori at 262-309-7292 or 414-353-8695.
Some 331 units or 993 components were received in 2007 toward the total amount of 20,000 components of blood products for hospitals in Waukesha County. Let's keep it going for 2008 as we finish strong to help others in need.
See you there.
Please feel free to leave comments below.
We appreciate you reading our blog especially when there are so many other interests competing for your time.
It's because of you and your encouragement that we keep writing.
Have a great week!