Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Right to Work, Rally, and Committee

Early this morning, I met with a group going up to Madison for the rally against the "Right to Work" legislation.  For those who are unsure what this is, basically the "Right to Work" status would first, make it illegal for a company or work place make it mandatory to join the union.  Currently, if a certain employer has a union, you have to join.  Second, it would force the unions to fight for you, even if you decided not to join, because the union would have to defend everyone, not just members.  In other words, those who aren't paid members of the union would be getting free services.

At first glance, it sounds good, right?  Some people may not believe in unionizing, and they don't have to join if they don't want to.  I am actually ambivalent on this one, though we could use the Republican stance of, "If you don't like it, don't work there".  On the other hand, the unions can be of huge help.  Unions kind of act as the FDIC for jobs, setting the gold standard for what would be appropriate in certain fields.  They help set the goals of keeping work places a safe place to do your work.  Unions also set what kind of benefits vs. monetary pay would be fair.

At second glance, ethically, if you're going to receive a service, you should pay for them.  Which is why I don't understand, since many conservatives believe that others shouldn't pay for health care, but think it's okay to accept free services from the union?  Unions help make it so that the boss can't fire you without due cause, and even then, they help you keep your job.

So, okay, why is this a bad thing?  Because when union bosses have to put out a lot for non-paying members, they lose money, and may have to fold.  I don't think there is anything wrong with having separate categories, as in a full member vs. partial members, I don't know.  Thing is, if we could ensure that employers do the right thing, we wouldn't need unions, but, let me tell you.  Not all employers are fair about letting you go.  It's not always for a due cause.  I will come back to this later.

I can kind of see why it shouldn't be mandatory to join the union or you can't go work there.  On the other hand, if you're not paying dues, you shouldn't get full services.  This is a way to try to drive into the ground the rest of the private sector unions.  They have a work load defending too many members/nonmembers.  The union loses money, and eventually has to fold from each different employer, which brings down the number of people in the management of the union.

The other reason it is bad, is the fact that when these unions are going to be eradicated, it is only a matter of time before safety hazards, pay scales, and even the minimum wage will be attacked.  Studies show that states that have "Right to Work" laws has lower wages and benefits than those who are "At Will" states.  So is it really "Right to Work" or "right to steal from workers"?  With Wisconsin having a sluggish economy, and S.E. Wisconsin being desperate for not just jobs, but good paying ones that are also full time with benefits, we cannot afford to lose what ever grounds we have as hard workers.

Now, back to the firing for due causes...  I have never worked for a place that had a union.  I have been terminated for a couple or so jobs.  Out of these jobs, the VA was the only one that I was terminated with a reason.  Technically, since I was still within my probationary period, they did not owe me an explanation.  I'm not even sure if they would have owed me one after that.  But, I was making mistakes, and they let me know.  But, I've had other ones where the excuse was, "You're going back to college so it doesn't matter".  Or "You're just not a good fit".  Or "You love International Relations.  So, you should do that".  Huh, so I can't finish out the summer or the Christmas season, or what?  It would be nice if they really told my WHY I wasn't a good fit, or why they weren't going to let me finish the summer out.  I really don't know what I did at these places that merited being let go.  I've gotten criticized about it by other people, as if I can read minds.  No, I don't know why.  A union would have been nice.

On the flip side, I have seen where a person really DID deserve to be terminated on several different occasions, and the Union saved his butt.  He came to expect that he can do and act as he pleases, and as long as the job got done, he could just go ahead and curse like a sailor in front of the people that hired his company to do work for them.  The boss had tried to rid him at least 6 times, and the union saved him every time.  Unions need to practice their ethics, also.  Insubordination is not something that should be tolerated if it will lose business for the owner.

What stinks, though, is that this isn't the only issue.  Education is getting slashed on the k-12 level as well as the post secondary level.  With lesser quality education during k-12, as well as fewer people going to get higher education, this means that lower pay could be merited by future employers.  These are interrelated, as is how much goes into your social security and pensions.

It is also interesting to learn that home care agencies are exempt from unions to the point that they are not allowed.  Yet home care personnel are the lowest paid health care workers.  Not only that, but raises are also few and far between, and it's no easier than working at a nursing home.  But, this isn't something that should be discussed in this blog...

Anyway, here are some pictures, just to give you some idea about how many people showed up.  It was interesting, considering that I actually lost my group for the duration I was there, and I got to talk to welders, construction guys, other laborers, and a lady who wanted to see a copy of the Right to Work legislation so she could share the info with others. 

Then, I actually heard that they stuck it into a committee last night.  Don't know how true, if so.


I did, in fact, write a form discussing this to our senator. I also signed a petition to go to the governor, state senator and assembly person. Though I don't know if it will work, it's always good to let your representatives know where you're coming from.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Continuum of Care and Point In Time - Community Outreach

Twice a year, once in January and the other in July, on the 4th Wednesday of these months, is a census type thing where we go in search of those who are homeless for what ever reason, and try to get as much information as possible.  I've been participating the last 4 years, and have participated 5 times, the last two, being a team leader...  I've met many interesting people who I've ridden/driven with, being that we go in teams of about 4 people.  These two nights, from about 10pm-3am, are the points in time we do the count, and that's why it's called Point In Time, and gets used to gather numbers for the city/county, state, and national counts to go into the official census.

This is all part of what is called the Continuum of Care, to ensure that those who need help get what they need, whether it's shelter, food, counseling, or anything else.  For those of you who know, Racine's Hospitality Center, run by Rev. Kevin Stewart, was in danger of closing it's doors earlier this month.  With the new funding, they are able to continue to stay open for the remainder of the winter, with other plans for the future, to have a 24/7 location and program for those who are homeless, but are not qualified to stay at the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO).  There are a number of reasons why people don't qualify for HALO, such as alcohol use, undiagnosed/uncontrolled mental illness, drug addiction, and more.  It has to be, for the fact that even though the men's and women's sections, while separate, are still in the same building, especially since many of the women have their children with them.  This is where the Hospitality Center comes in, to help with those who are in limbo even with a homeless shelter in town.

We did not find anyone last night with our Point in Time search.  This probably means that A) all of the other programs are doing an awesome job, or, B) people are more generous in the winter and taking in people.  But, this doesn't mean that this is 100% effective.  There is always that margin of error.  So, my fellow social media groupies, I would like for you to help me out on this, and try to help the homeless situation.

For the Racine/Kenosha area, here are places who can help with finding emergency shelter, for single people, those with children, or for kids who are runaways or otherwise displaced in many of these situations.

Just remember, when there is other crises, such as domestic violence and/or sex abuse, the homeless situation is compounded, and no, it isn't that easy to "just leave".  Racine still has a high level of poverty, despite the fact that the unemployment numbers have gone down.  Because so many are still underemployed, or their pay is so low, the poverty level is still just as bad, or maybe even worse, because of the lack of funds.  To have both issues of violence and poverty, it is even more difficult than ever, to be able to escape.  I am so very thankful to the Women's Resource Center is here - for those who need emergency shelter for domestic violence issues - 262-633-3233.

Housing Authority of Racine County - 262-636-3405

ResCare (for those with eviction looming, minor child(ren), significant loss of income, etc) - 262-637-9774

Energy Services (utility assistance including energy and possibly water) - 262-633-6000

HALO (permanent homeless shelter) - 262-633-3235

Women's Resource Center (for those victimized by domestic violence & sex assault) - 262-633-3233
                                       (Western Racine County) 262-763-6226 x113

Love and Charity (for those over 40) - 262-634-7059

Safe Haven (Youth shelter) - 262-637-9557

Inn Program (Kenosha) - 262-658-1713

Women's Horizons (Kenosha DV shelter) - 262- 652-9900

Hospitality Center (hospitality w/o agenda) - 414-405-4519

Bethany Apartments (affordable transitional housing with support for those exiting abuse shelters) 262-633-9446

Transitional Living Center (Burlington - temporary shelter & necessities to teach independent living skills) 262-767-1478

Center for Veterans' Issues (supportive housing and services for Vets) 262-633-3235

Medical and Counseling Support:
Center for Veterans' Issues (support and counseling for Vets) 262-633-3235

HOPES Center (counseling and case management for Racine's poor and mentally ill) 262-898-2940

Health Care Network (free or low cost health care including dental for those with limited income) 262-633-2400

Racine County Human Services (workforce development to apply for medicaid and foodshare) 262-638-6353

Med Advocates (discount prescriptions) 800-273-1842

St. Mary's Charity Program 262-687-4011

Women's Resource Center (support/counseling after DV) 262-633-3233

Legal, Vocational, and other:
Legal Action of Wisconsin (nonprofit legal service for low income in Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties for those needing help by other services listed above) 262-635-8836

Racine Vocational Ministry (employment assistance) 262-633-8660

United Way of Racine County (community encompassing program for education, income, and health of residents) 262-898-2240

Food Pantries:
Emmanuel Lutheran Church - 725 High Street - Racine, WI - Tu/Wed/Thurs - 9:30-11:15am - 262-633-4949

Harvest Outreach, Inc - 2000 W. 6th St. Racine, WI - Mon thru Fri 9:30-11:30am & Tue 1:30-3:30 - 262-632-6288

Holy Communion Lutheran Church - 2000 W. 6th St. - Racine, WI - Mon & Fri 1-3pm and Tue 5-7pm (except 1st Tue of month) 262-632-8802

Midtown Church of Christ - 1705 13th St. - Racine, WI - Wed & Thurs 1-3pm - 262-637-9133

Northside Food Pantry - 3825 Erie St. - Racine, WI - Tues & Thurs 2-4pm - 262-639-2441

Racine Northside Catholic Pantry (St. Vincent) - 926 LaSalle St. - Racine, WI - Tue 1-3pm, Wed 9:30-11:30am - 262-633-2243

Second Missionary Baptist Church - 1250 Lathrop Ave. - Racine, WI - Mon & Tue 6-8pm - 262-633-6180

Wayman AME Church - 424 N. Memorial Dr. - Racine, WI - Tue & Thur 11am-1pm - 262-632-1650

Meal Sites:Sundays - Our Savior's Lutheran - 5-6pm - 2219 Washington Ave. Racine, WI 262-633-2243

Mondays - Our Savior's Lutheran - 5:30-6:30pm - 2219 Washington Ave.  Racine, WI 262-633-2243

Tuesdays - St. Vincent's (Head Start) - 5:30-6:15pm - 1020 Grand Ave. Racine -

Wednesdays - Zoe Outreach Ministries - 4:30-5:30pm - 2130 Racine St. Mt. Pleasant - 262-619-3027

Thursdays - St. Patrick's Church - 5:30-6:15pm - 1100 Erie St. Racine - 262-632-8808

Thursdays - All Nations' Church - 5:30-6:30pm - 1502 W. 6th St. Racine

Fridays - Greater Grace Temple - 5:30-6:30pm - 522 N. Memorial Dr. Racine - 262-634-6246

Saturdays - First United Methodist - Sack Lunch - 12pm (noon) - 745 Main St. Racine - 262-633-7632

I hope this is helpful, and if you meet anyone who needs this info, please help with a print out with this info on it.  I do have some printed forms for those who want it.  Thank you for helping.  Feel free to email me, lika.yvi@gmail.com for more info, if you need.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Good Eats & Healthy Treats

Most people who know me, especially if they've ever been at my house, know, that I like to cook, and not just cook, but, play with my food.  Er, I mean experiment...  It's not like I use gravy for finger paint or anything.  But, I do love to try new recipes and different things.  So, anyway, I fell upon this recipe, and wasn't sure, because when orange juice is one of the ingredients, it's usually too tart or sweet or something.  I was pleasantly surprised, and it's healthy and very tasty at the same time.

The original name of this dish is Tofu sauteed with broccoli and red peppers in a chili-orange sauce.  I'm just going to call it "Szechuan Tofu".

Szechuan Tofu:       Prep Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes       Number of Servings:  4

1/2 tsp sesame oil & 4 TBS vegetable oil, divided

14 oz. package of extra firm tofu, water pressed out.
2 TBS minced garlic
2 TBS minced fresh, peeled ginger
1 - 2 red bell pepper, depending on size in strips
6 cups medium broccoli florets, blanched until crisp tender and drained

Szechuan Sauce

1/4 cup orange juice
2 TBS Hoisin sauce
2 TBS Chili-Garlic sauce
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS corn starch - mixed well.

To press the water out of the tofu, wrap in paper towel, and place between two plates.  You want to have as much of the water out as possible, so you may have to change the paper towel a couple of times, so it is firm without being water logged.  After taking out the water, cut into small strips, about 1/4" thick, and 1" in length.

With half of the oil, brown the tofu, half at a time.  Once it's brown, set aside.  In the remainder of the oil, toss in the garlic and ginger until aromatic.  Put the broccoli until about half cooked, then add bell pepper.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, place to tofu back in.  In the last 2 minutes, add the sauce.

Serve over brown rice.  Try out different types and brands, to find what you like.

Lika's Alterations:
Instead of getting fresh broccoli to blanch, using frozen broccoli is just fine, the work is already done, and you just need to set out to thaw.  Tonight, I used a package of cauliflower and broccoli, and a package of fresh mushrooms.  Green beans would work just fine, and in any case, frozen veggies will take the work of blanching to perfection for you.  You may also substitute peanut oil or canola for the vegetable oil.  Without the sesame oil, it's just not the same.

If you cook the tofu just right, it's a lot like eating chicken, and you won't even miss the meat.  Because there is no saturated fat nor bad cholesterol, this is a very healthy meal.  It's good to do the meatless types of meals, just to be healthy.  This recipe is fit for everyone who needs a vegetarian or vegan diet, and is also gluten free, depending on the type of rice you use.


2 large onions, diced
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and diced
2-4 celery, sliced into bite sized
5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
(Optional:  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut to bite sized - when in the pan, you want the outside to saute until white, not brown)

In olive oil, saute the veggies until the outsides are getting tender.
Put in about 1/4 cup paprika (I like the Hungarian sweet one for this).  Use about 1 heaping tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Let the mix get sticky.  Cover with vegetable broth.  Let simmer until the potatoes are done.  Add sour cream.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Please write your federal congressmen and women?

Okay.  So anyway, I, myself am looking to eat healthier.  No, this is not a new years resolution.  This is just something I need to do for myself, and for my family.  My son and I have a chromosome disorder that makes it so that not only do we have increased appetite, but also a sluggish metabolism.  This anomaly makes it so that even if we were to eat the perfect combination of food in the exact proportions, we could still be overweight.  The fact that the insulin sensors can be affected, that's a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.  My husband's side of the family has other issues, such as diabetes and pancreas issues as well.  So, being healthy is important.

With a bad back, it's not so easy to just say, oh, I'll go exercise.  I won't go into details, because this is NOT a feel sorry for me blog.  The concern is, with all of these various produce items that are GMO, as well as the hormones and antibiotics injected into our food, as well as other poisonous waste being dumped into our oceans, I just think it's high time that we take our health back by insisting that farmers go back to the greener ways to farm the old fashioned way, where the food was 100% legit, and no junk needed.  the food will even taste better, also, because there is just no comparison.  This also has a lot to do with being humane to our fellow earth species.

Just remember, it's not necessarily about being vegetarian or vegan.  It's about being healthy and being humane to our fellow earthlings.

So, if you don't mind, please use this as a guide.

Dear Representative or Senator (fill in name),

I am writing in regards to our farming practices becoming toxic for the health of our fellow Americans in bad ways for the sake of the dollar.  Our food is literally causing health issues, such as obesity, early puberty of our children, heart disease, etc.  The ailments are costing more in medical expenses than what is being earned by corporate farms.

Here is a video that shows the in-humaneness of our livestock. Earthlings - Full length documentary (multi-subtitles)

The images in the video is not for the faint of heart, but,it is a sad reality of how we treat the animals we eat.  It is not only inhumane, it is abusive.  And it’s not just our pets, but, every animalwe can think of.  Cows, including thecalves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, etc. are tortured on so many levels thatit isn’t funny.  To call ourselvesChristian is hypocritical, because God commands us to take care of what isgiven.  Having dominion does not meanabuse another.  That would be like sayingthat because the husband is the head of his wife, that domestic violence andrape should be legal.

Factories are abusive to the animals that go toslaughter.  It’s high time that we goback to a more traditional ways of animal farming.  Especially in cases where factory farmingpractices also end up injecting hormones and antibiotics into the livestockthat are sold for food.  Our children,especially our girls, are hitting puberty at a younger age every year.  This is also feeding into MRSA and othersuper bugs that end up being resistant to antibiotics, and is making our healthrisks raise.  This isn’t about just our health;it’s also about the greed of the dollar being the bottom line, rather thanpeople, as a community.  Jesus commandsus to love one another, and poisoning the food and food sources is not the wayto love anybody, except the money god. The way the babies are taken away from their mothers’ bosoms; is thisthe way to honor the planet that was so generously given to us?

I am giving you, as an elected official, to view this wholevideo, before commenting back.  This isnot just an isolated incident.  Our farmbill condones these corporate farms, both on land and at sea shore.  The waste that gets dumped into our watersources is also a bad thing.  Again, wetry to say that the earth heals itself, yet we are caving to some of the worstwaste in the name of the capitalistic dollar. After such, the poor people who are at the highest risk of obesity arethe ones that are at the mercy of low prices while the wealthy factory farmsare looking for more money.  Just look atthe Farm Bill to subsidize them to give us hamburger at low prices.  Hamburger, bacon, chicken, etc. that has beeninjected with the antibiotics to ensure that the overcrowded stalls to ensurethat if one cow gets sick, they don’t lose the whole herd.  To have chickens in crates where they are defecatingon each other is also a disgusting practice. Here, too, if they were in regular spaces, you wouldn’t need antibioticsto prevent disease, either.  Maybe if thecows were kept more naturally, the sickness would not be a problem.  Or the hormone injections to make themplumper to sell more meat, is causing girls as young as 8 already needingtraining bras.

Here are links that show how the hormones in our foodcontribute to early puberty.





Here are links showing how the uses of antibioticsnegatively affect our ability to fight infection.  This includes information from the FDA.






There are other articles on federal and departmental levelsthat also point in this direction.  As aconstituent who is actively voting as well as a public advocate, I urge you tolook into this and act on it.  This is for the health of all of our people, not just for the wealthy, but for those who live in poverty and are enslaved by budgets that limit how and what we can afford.

Thank you for your time, and for doing the right thing. 

Sincerely yours,

First Name MI. Last Name

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Paul Ryan, Unions/Non-Competes, and Governor Scott Walker - OH MY!

In Thursday, November 20, 2014 edition of the Racine Journal Times, the top billing story is about how Paul Ryan is expanding his reach as a legislator & politician.  While on one hand, it's cool that a Wisconsin person is there, it is also very disturbing.  At least to me.  Paul Ryan is on a House of Representatives (federal level) committee called the "Ways and Means Committee" for his new term, which will be starting shortly, later this month.  You may ask yourself, so what?  Well, this is big enough that even those of my readers who are NOT from Wisconsin should be concerned.

The Committee on Ways and Means can make a LOT of decisions affecting just about everything.  Not only is it the budget, but the issues also affect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, health care, Food Share, other social programs, and of course taxes.  While the Republicans will woo the country with the promises of lower taxes for all, yet, it's not entirely true.  Thing is, giving tax breaks to the rich doesn't create more jobs.  We found that out in the 1980's, when Reagan supported the "Trickle Down Economics" theory actually seem plausible.  But, in later years, we find out that even when billions of dollars get cut from the rich, only about 2% went out to create jobs.  Even if my numbers are not exact, here is an article that goes to show that the numbers are pretty dismal when we expect certain people to do the right thing. 


What is scary, is, while Paul Ryan tried to shake hands with his liberal counter parts, we can't predict what will happen with pressure from his conservative peers.  Not only that, but, some of these decisions play hand in hand with some of Wisconsin's issues as a state, in which many conservative legislators want to push this "Right to Work" deal.  Thing is, this state of right to work isn't as simple as it looks.  It's not JUST about private sector jobs not forcing employees to have to join a union as a condition of their hire.  We all remember how the bargaining rights were pretty much stomped out just a couple of years ago.  While Scott Walker is trying to play his cards more diplomatically since he's considering a presidential run in 2016, but, this may be one of those things where it could go either way, if he thinks the decision could get him into the White House.

So, while they herald the "Right to Work" states as being able to still benefit from certain Union actions, such as protecting everyone's right, not just those in the Union, it also gives the employers the right to terminate your employment for the simple reason that 'they can'.  Thing is, if you're a loyal employee of 20 years, and the company gets bought out by a new owner, you could get laid off because the new owner doesn't like the shape of your nose.  So, yes, the "Right to Work" state does not protect you from unfair firing practices.  If a union is in place, the union must protect EVERYONE, including those that are not Union members on their own time and dime in these states.

I am kind of mixed on the Union issue.  On one hand, yes, I do agree with the fact that if I don't want to have to join the union, I shouldn't have to.  I don't agree with the Republican stance that unions are evil.  I also don't agree with the Democrats that the unions are the working person's savior.  Unions have a time and a place.  In certain circumstances, yes, they do actually help.  In cases where there are dangers, such as in mining, a union may be of great use, to save as many lives as possible.  On the other hand, I do realize that unions can be corrupt, as I've heard from a guy who worked in the cement and construction field, who would have his job saved for him by the union over situations that most normal people would agree with the boss that he should have been fired.  It wasn't just a case of calling in once too often for illnesses, or that a light on his cement truck got broke which could be disputed on who actually broke it.  There have been times where he had gone out on a job, whether it was for a state highway project or to do a big parking lot or for a privately owned mansion's driveway...  He had flipped off one of the DOT supervisor for a highway job, and basically told the mansion owner to buzz off while being told the way the owner wanted the project to be done and completed, and told him he knows how to do his job.  Well, if a union is going to defend this action, it's proving all of the Republicans right, that unions are corrupt.  On the other hand, when protecting the 20 year work veteran, the union should have some say in being able to keep this guy's job, especially if this person is a descent worker.  I've seen these situations, and well, if employers were always doing the right thing, maybe the use for unions would disappear.  But, it doesn't always go that way.

There is also this article in Saturday, January 3rd's paper about Governor Walker wanting to put a stop to abortions after the gestational stage of 20 weeks.  While I am strongly pro-choice, this is one of these sensitive issues.  Considering that I have heard of women giving birth in their 23rd weeks gestation, and their premature babies make it.  Not all of them end up with learning issues.  And, of course if aborting the pregnancy is your final decision, the earlier you do it, the better.  Survivors of rape and sex assaults should have that freedom to choose.  So many times, the court cases last 2 years.  40 weeks, or about 2/3 of a year, is the normal length of a pregnancy.  Remember, pro-choice means exactly that.  A choice.  A rape victim should be able to choose to abort, keep the pregnancy and adopt, or keep her baby.  The rest of us should not tell her what she should or have to do.  But, as a mother who lost my first born due to health problems at 33 weeks gestation, it bothers me that under other circumstances, I would have been able to raise 2 boys, but, my 14 year old is being raised as an only child, because I lost his big brother, and could have died myself.  I truly wanted both of my babies.  I would never wish that on anyone.  So, for those who feel they aren't fit or ready, I would hope they would consider being extra careful on using protection.  Because it's never 100%, that if abortion is the choice, to ensure it gets done as early on as possible.  But, at 20 weeks, that is only 3 weeks short of viability...  Yet, what I find interesting is, here, this abortion issue is very decisive and divisive amongst we, the people.  Yet, Viagra is covered by medicare and most insurance policies.  Ahem, Viagra leads to an activity that could potentially cause pregnancy.  I don't see anyone protesting that.  So, why is it okay for men to take part in an activity that leads to pregnancy, but, if a woman is not ready for motherhood, she is held responsible for taking part in a relationship?  Until we can get men and women on the same page as equally responsible for bringing children into this world, abortion will always be an issue to argue about.  Sex is not something that men are entitled to, and women are supposed to defend.  Not many of our young men are taught that this should be just as sacred to them as it is for our young women.  Sexual freedom is a term that is useless until we are on level playing grounds, and no, don't pin in on the women, but that is for another blog.

Sorry, I digressed.  Another issue is to perform drug tests on those who enroll for food stamps.  Yes, this is coming from our governor.  Of course, just like any program, I am sure that there is a little bit of fraud.  But, we can learn from Florida, that the level of drug users was what, about 1.2%?  The drug tests cost so much more than that.  So, okay, many of us when we start a job, we must take a drug test.  Why not for the food stamp program?  Because many of those on the food share program are already working.  Some are part time, and in a few cases, even full time.  In this economy, where our high paying jobs such as Chrysler, Jacobson's, and the many other factories that payed a living wage for families are gone, and then in many cases, now, are working jobs that can barely support a single person, it's not a thing that someone was being irresponsible by having kids they can't afford, but, more like going from a position of being able to support a family to all of a sudden not.  And with the fact that we have violent felons in prison that get health care, 3 meals a day, a place to sleep, etc...  Is it a crime for a poor person to be a parent?  Many a poor people are excellent parents.  Then there are wealthy people that hire nannies to take care of their children...  and the nannies are the ones who are poor, and actually doing the parenting.  I am not sure why some people think that the fraud is rampant...  if someone knows more than I do, please enlighten me.

But, anyway...  It's one of these things that it shouldn't be a republican or democratic issue for people to do the right thing.  A megacorporation like Walmart could afford to pay their staff better.  Is it really going to hurt them, to make "only" $28 billion a year, as opposed to $35 billion?  I think not.  Yet, even full time Walmart workers need medicaid or food stamps, energy assistance and rent assistance.  I am not sure how a tax break or tax incentives will help this situation, except that in this case, Walmart can make $41 billion in the tax savings, without paying out to their staff.  On the other hand, local businesses like our "mom and pop" type stores would greatly benefit from a tax break.  I'm talking the businesses we all know and love around Racine, such as Kewpee's, Wilson's Coffee, Nelson's Dime Store, DeRango's, Infusino's, etc.  These are the types that would benefit, and will be able to give raises to their staff, even if it isn't by that much.  But, a nickel an hour increase over how ever many hours worked in a week, times 52 weeks in a year, it adds up.

Then there is the fact that Racine's Uptown looks half like a ghost town, and there are many empty shops in the downtown area as well...  If the tax breaks are going anywhere, it should be to those who are going to revive our local economy by being able to afford those low interest loans to fix the place up, low taxes to help defer the cost of starting up a new business, and that sort.  Lets face it.  Big corporations like Walmart, McDonald's, Auto Zone, etc aren't going anywhere too soon.  If anything, they're not going to miss much of the competition because they ARE that big.  Plus, in areas such as Racine and Kenosha, many of us are desperately in NEED of these types of places close by, because we are either unemployed, low paid, under employed, etc... 

Another issue is expanding the voucher system, which doesn't always make sense.  In some ways, sure, private schools may or may not meet or exceed the regular public school ratings.  For some kids, the regular public school isn't for them.  For others, private schools aren't for them.  For my son, virtual school ended up being the best medicine.  But, the thing is, this is public tax money.  It is not supposed to be to teach everything, and, if the private school happens to be a religious school, that science gets taught.  And, scores should be transparent.

The education in this country as a whole, generally speaking, does not match up to many of our other fellow industrialized schools.  A student coming from Japan to start 10th grade probably has an education that is equal to a freshman in college.  My mom is hosting 2 teenage girls as foreign exchange students from Poland and Germany.  The German one can't find a math or science class she hasn't taken yet, and she is an 11th grader.  The one from Poland is also very advanced, and she, too, has taken just about everything that is offered in our high schools, aside from the English Literature and History.  And while I give the point that just throwing money at a situation doesn't always fix the problem.  But, I question taking money out of the public school system to give to private schools will solve much.  Some of our neediest students may or may not be able to fit into the structure of private schools.  I'm sure some will.  But, not all of them.  Then, to send them back to public school without refunding some of the money, will only stress the public school system even more.  History has taught us that nations that have a poor and uneducated public usually don't have good economies, health systems, technologies, etc.  At this rate, we cannot ignore our special needs students.  There is also a misconception that all special needs students are mentally retarded and is incapable of living independently in our society.  That is such a huge misconception, that it's very wrong.  Many of the staff at Goodwill are special needs.  There are plenty of special needs volunteer groups that clean churches, the kennel clubs, and to live somewhat independently with doing their own basic cooking and cleaning.  Then here are those that it isn't about not being able to learn.  My son is actually considered special needs, but, he is very smart, and in some ways smarter than many other kids his age.  Only his learning style is different, and is capable of reaching normal goals.  His type of special needs might not be met in a private schools, because there is no one available to pitch the material to him the way he needs it.  To alienate all special needs classes that serve these kids would be a travesty.  And, let us face it.  Even the severe special needs people are a permanent group in life, so, those of you who don't feel comfortable with these who will forever be dependent better get used to the fact that yes, eventually, when their parents can't take care of them, you will have to step up to the job, so, may as well see everyone as a normal part of life.  On top of which, privatizing schools will only make education a for profit entity, and this only serves to line the pockets of whom ever runs the schools, because money, not education will be the bottom line.

So, I urge people.  Please.  The budget and the talks and the negotiating and such will start right after Martin Luther King Jr. day.  It will go through February, and probably into mid March when it's finalized.  We have time to write to our state and federal legislators to fund the things that are important.  Really.

Here is Paul Ryan's contact information - and calling by phone or writing snail mail is still the best way to contact people to get their attention.

  • Washington, DC office
    1233 Longworth HOB
    Washington, D.C. 20515
    Phone: (202) 225-3031
    Fax: (202) 225-3393

  • Senator Tammy Baldwin
    • Washington, D.C.
      717 Hart Senate Office Building
      Washington, D.C. 20510
      Phone: (202) 224-5653
      Fax: (202) 224-9787
    • Madison
      30 W. Mifflin Street, Suite 700
      Madison, WI 53703
      Phone: (608) 264-5338
    • Milwaukee
      633 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 1920
      Milwaukee, WI 53203
      Phone: (414) 297-4451
      From Wisconsin Only: (800) 247-5645
    • La Crosse
      205 5th Avenue, Room 216
      La Crosse, WI 54601
      Phone: (608) 796-0045
    • Eau Claire
      402 Graham Street, Suite 206
      Eau Claire, WI 54701-2633
      Phone: (715) 832-8424

    Senator Van Wanggard - vwanggaard@gmail.com or facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Senator-Van-Wanggaard/147619011978714

    Senator Bob Wirch
    Room 127 South
    State Capitol
    P.O. Box 7882
    Madison, WI 53707-7882

    (608) 267-8979

    Representative Peter Barca
    Room 201 West
    State Capitol
    P.O. Box 8952
    Madison, WI 53708

    (888) 534-0064

    Representative Cory Mason
    State Capitol
    P.O. Box 8953
    Madison, WI 53708
    (888) 534-0066
    Governor Scott Walker
    Office of Governor Scott Walker
    115 East Capitol
    Madison, WI 53702
    (608) 266-1212

    I am refraining from putting down Senator Ron Johnson (federal) and Representative Tom Weatherston, because it's actually pretty pointless.  Johnson will thank you for writing, and then, not even address the issue that you wrote about.  Even more pathetic, is write to Weatherston, and you'll get more information back from crickets and your palm reader than you will from him.
  • Janesville office
    20 South Main Street, Suite 10
    Janesville, WI 53545
    Toll-Free: 1-888-909-RYAN (7926)
    Phone: (608) 752-4050
    Fax: (608) 752-4711
  • Kenosha office
    5031 7th Avenue
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Phone: (262) 654-1901
    Fax: (262) 654-2156
  • Racine office
    216 6th Street
    Racine, WI 53403
    Phone: (262) 637-0510
    Fax: (262) 637-5689
  • Friday, January 2, 2015

    A Call to Action - 4 R Disabled Vets

    I am encouraging everyone, especially my Wisconsin friends, to write the governor and your state representative(s) and state senators about doing more for our veterans, especially our disabled vets!

    Here is a post from a friend of mine, Hallis Mailen - https://www.facebook.com/hallis.mailen1?fref=ufi:

    "Governor Scott Walker! I've decided as of today to start facing off against you and your administration for your erroneous and complete disregard for the well being of military veterans, especially disabled veterans, whom you customarily herald at holidays that you stand by and support, contrary to members of your administration that have extorted or stole money from the 'Freedom Fund', and your most blatant abuse of veterans which was when you graciously signed the bill to allow cancer patients to receive medical marijuana, yet you completely left disabled veterans who suffer from PTSD, Chronic Anxiety, and other emotional disorders completely off the bill. Why would you do such a reprehensible thing? Perhaps because you'd rather support huge pharmaceutical companies and their marketing of dangerous legal barbiturates, antidepressants, and mood alter drugs that have higher rates of shortening life expectancy than do medical marijuana canabanoids?

    Well, I frankly am sick to death of your hypocritical attitude on such an important issue so close to the hearts and minds of veterans who such from nightmares and anxieties from the horrors they have faced while serving in the U.S. Military, while you comfortably sit in your high chair and accept payouts from lobbyists to harm us instead with dangerous drugs.

    I have decided to go on the offensive. I intend to write every congressional official that I know, even the President of the United States and First Lady, who have often supported Veterans, I am even going to encourage the support of various Veteran support groups like Madison Veterans For Peace and National Veterans For Peace and encourage them to face off with you as well until you do right by us and give us the natural medicinals we need to get healthier. Forget about your dangerous drugs and forget about your run for the presidency as long asd you continue to slap veterans in the face with your hypocrisy.
    You have been notified,,, you're on the wrong side of the fence!"

    Sincerely, Hallis D. Mailen , Military Disabled Veteran




    "Once I gain enough support locally in Madison for this push to confront Walker on this, and i get a response from the linked organization, I intend to hold a press conference, and invite allied local politicians to support a petition to amend the medical marijuana bill in Wisconsin.

    Walker signed the medical marijuana bill for cancer patients in Wisconsin, but to protect the lobbying interests of pharmaceutical companies doing business in Wisconsin, he completely rejected including veterans on this bill, despite his boasting every Christmas that he supports military veterans. Time to shove his hypocrisy up his nose!"

    Our legislators are as follows:

    Governor Scott Walker - govgeneral@wisconsin.gov
    Office of Governor Scott Walker
    115 East Capitol
    Madison, WI 53702
    (608) 266-1212

    For a list of who your state senators are, please click here:

    For your state representatives, please click here:

    Cory Mason
    (608) 266-0634
    (888) 534-0066

    Peter Barca

    (608) 266-5504
    (888) 534-0064


    Sample letter:

    Dear (Governor Walker, Representative Name, Senator So & So),

    I am writing to you today to help our veterans, especially the disabled veterans, get the medical help they need.  Our military gives freely for our country, putting the citizens and representatives above themselves and their own families.  When coming back from war, they need to ensure that their treatment is also important, and often, natural treatments that work with modern medicine is exactly what they need.

    Medical marijuana can not only help those in need of pain control from diseases such as cancer, PTSD, ghost pains from amputation, glaucoma, and so much more.  Along with the medical part, the rest is good to add to our economy by making paper, burlap bags, shoes, and other clothing items.  But more importantly, in order to help our veterans, they must be put first before anything else.  So when we honor our disabled veterans, let us ensure our actions are in tune with our words to give back to those who gave so much to us.

    Thank you for keeping our veterans in mind.  Please continue to do so, for the betterment of our future!

    Sincerely yours,

    (Sign your name)

    Saturday, December 27, 2014

    Serbian Cuisine: A Recipe Special

    I love to make foods from different places, and here is a sample of cabbage rolls, stew, and more.

    Sarma (Serbian stuffed cabbage rolls):
    1 small head of cabbage, pickled like sour kraut
    2 pounds ground pork
    1-1/2 cups uncooked real rice
    1/2 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
    3 TBS garlic powder
    1-1/2 cup salt
    1/8 tsp ground black pepper

    To pickle the cabbage, place head of cabbage into a large kettle with a 1 to 3 mix of vinegar and water.  Bring to a boil, ensuring that the whole head is pickled.  I like to use the left over juices from our regular pickles that we've eaten up.

    Cut out the core, and gently tear off of the individual leaves.  Use the first outer layers to cover the bottom of a baking pan.  Separate out the rest of the leaves, saving the small ones for aside for later.

    Mix the other ingredients together well.  Place about 3 TBS worth of meat mix into the "pocket" of the cabbage leaf, and fold over and tuck.  Fold sides over the top, and continue to roll.

    Place the rolls onto the layer of leaves that are lined into the bottom of the baking pan.  The small leaves that are too small should get cut up and put over the top of the rolls.  Cover with foil, and bake at 325F for an hour and a half to 2 hours.

    For a vegetarian alternative, you may use crumbly tempeh or something similar in place of the pork.

    Goulash/Paprikash (Serbian Goulash):
    1-1/2 # chicken, cut up in bite size pieces
    5-6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
    3-4 carrots, peeled and cubed
    1 large green bell pepper, cubed
    Optional onion, large diced
    Optional pureed tomato (for color)
    1/4 - 1/3 cup paprika
    3 TBS garlic powder
    1 tsp of salt
    pepper to taste (I like a dash of cayenne)

    Stew the chicken and veggies in a kettle.  You want the outside to turn white, not brown.  When the onion is tender, add the spices, and allow them to become aromatic.  Add water to about 2" above.  Bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer.  Cook until flavors are well blended.

    For goulash, serve with bread and butter.  For paprikash, add a dollop of sour cream.

    Ibanitza -
    2 or 3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
    16 - 24 oz sour cream
    16 oz cottage cheese
    1 stick of butter
    8 - 12 eggs
    Olive oil
    1 box of fillo dough

    Grease up 2 9x13 baking pans.  Place about 3 sheets of the fillo dough on the bottom.

    Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs.  (The more of the cheeses and sour cream, the more eggs you'll need).  Pour a bit of the mix over the bottom layer of dough.  Place another layer of about 3 sheets of dough over the cheese, and put butter into the corners, and some in the middle.  Add another layer of cheese mix.  The next layer of dough put olive oil.  Keep alternating to the top, with the very top being dough with olive oil.

    Bake at 350F until the top is a golden flaky brown.

    For only one pan, you'll only need one sleeve of the fillo dough, and 8 oz each of cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese, with 5 eggs.