Hope you had a joyous Christmas. It has been quite merry here at Stately Blaska Manor, where manservant Ruben Mamoulian is fast asleep where he lay down his sweet head. The Harvey's Bristol Creme is but a memory amid the clutter of colorful wrapping paper and empty trays of Russian tea cakes. Wish he had saved some for me. A fresh blanket of snow is replacing that which was washed away in the Christmas Day rain. The Pope survived an attack during Midnight Mass at the Vatican for the second straight year, this time being wrestled to the ground by a woman. It is becoming a tradition. A decade I never thought to see is days away from yielding to its successor and who knows what.
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It is at this season of giving that one thinks of the less fortunate. That is why the good burghers of Shorewood Hills are much in my thoughts today. For those hills are alive with the sounds of angst and dread. For you see, low-income housing is threatening the land of the tenured progressive. The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
One of Dane County's wealthiest enclaves faces a tough test of its liberal ideals.
Yes, one of those hated developers has alighted on the privileged banks of Shorewood Hills, that leafy land of enlightened Leftism on the lake, like Jean Nicolet coming ashore in the Green Bay of 1634, clad in a robe of China damask, firing off his thunder sticks in both hands, threatening to change forever a cherished way of life.
This interloper proposes to unleash the most devastating change a culture can know. He proposes that affordable housing -- that holy grail of the progressive liturgy -- actually be constructed in the very midst of those that profess to support it! Instead of at a safe and respectful distance! Like, Somewhere Else But Not Here!
For Shorewood Hills could be an Obama model village. The village's professoriate chose The One by a vote of 1,032 to 157. Its forward thinkers put Progressive Dane's Al Matano on the County Board and environment-firster Spencer Black in the State Legislature. It has its own Frank L. Wright-designed Unitarian church of liberal doubt. Katie Couric would feel right at home!
All of this kumbaya is threatened by what Jonathan Swift might have described as a modest proposal. Just 2.4 acres for a mere 69 apartments at the deserted Pyare Square building which, itself, is separated from the cozy single family homes (average value: $497,000) by the proverbial railroad tracks AND by the village's own private golf country club. That would be Blackhawk CC but the irascible rascal in me wants to say, "Whitehawk."
Renters would qualify for the proposed subsidized housing with incomes of just half the county median -- only $28,000 for a single person to $40,000 for a family of four. Why, that is barely the annual membership dues at the Club in Shorewood Hills, where the median household income is $153,380.
In other words, low income people! Well, you can imagine the sturm und drang. If one was not careful, one would almost think that the objections were being voiced by raucous town hall tea partiers instead of dues-paying Democrats.
(I am indebted to the fine report from the Wisconsin State Journal: Shorewood Hills apartment plan divides village.) The introduction of low-income subsidized housing would:
"Strain our police force."
"Bring in people with "different values. I'm not saying bad values -- but different values from what we have here."
"Ten years down the road, the mix and the kind of people who move in there would be very different."
Imagine the pathos evoked by residents who, when contemplating the coming summer's grand tour of Europe, fear that greater scrutiny of renters would make it difficult to rent out their home when the family travels abroad.
To which, your faithful BlaskaBlogger responds: Tut, tut.
Yes, you heard me right. Tut and tut again!
Why should Meadowood have all the fun?
My part of town should not be the only Section 8 dumping ground. You haven't lived until you lie awake in bed while the merriment of another all-night party sounds outside your window on a summer workday, punctuated by loud music and car horns, followed by arguments and the sound of breaking glass.
Imagine the surprise of encountering a police stakeout just down the street, the swat team arrayed in their finest dark blue bulletproof vests, barking through bullhorns. Bring your cameras!
Hear the M-F word sprayed for all to hear as you pause to let a threesome of slow walking teenagers cross the middle of the street, their sullen hoodies pulled tight.
Join the hardware club as you replace damaged lawn ornaments and replant trampled flowers. You'll appreciate the frequent shopper savings these cards can bring. Don't forget to stock up on motion-detector lights, padlocks and deadbolts!
The metro area is blessed with many fence builders of excellent renown but a word of warning -- they need at least 30 days of advance notice, so busy they are.
Want to start a friendly argument? Say Dobermans make fine pets and be prepared to get set straight by a Rottweiler aficionado. One thing you can both agree on: get 'em young and keep 'em hungry!
Learn to knock on your own door when you return home so as not to unduly surprise whomever may be inside.
Finally, say not a discouraging word, lest ye be accused of intolerance by Miss Brenda! Learn to ignore that which you have taught your own children to abjure. Learn to adopt a double standard. Celebrate diversity in all things -- especially in behavior!
Law of unintended (but predictable) consequences
Woodman's Food Market, the giant employee-owned grocery retailer, is dropping mental health benefits from its health insurance plan because it claims it cannot afford to comply with a new federal law that will require mental health coverage to be equal to benefits for other illnesses.
The federal mental health parity law, passed in 2008, takes effect this January. The law does not require companies to offer mental health benefits, but if their health plans do offer mental health coverage, it must be as generous as coverage for other diseases. Critics of the bill, including many businesses, had warned that it would backfire by forcing companies to drop what limited mental health benefits they do offer.
"We have one of the best health plans in Wisconsin, and we can't open up our employee-owners to a bunch of unidentified costs. We can't have an open checkbook," says Clint Woodman, a vice president at the company and the grandson of Bill Woodman, who opened the first food store in Janesville in 1930. Today the chain includes 12 stores, 9 in Wisconsin and two of them in Madison, and employs over 2,800 workers, around half of whom also own a stake in the company. [The Capital Times: Woodman's Drops MH Coverage]
Merry Christmas from the United States Senate