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home : letters : letters April 30, 2016

12/31/2012 5:06:00 PM
Reader comments on letter, opinion stories

To the Editor:

A letter, an article and an opinion in “Our View” caught my attention. 

First, Mr. Boyd’s letter on the Dodd-Frank bill was compelling, but I wish he would forego the histrionic and unnecessary name-calling. Or as the mother of a returning soldier admonished her son: “At dinner tonight, would you please ask for the butter to be passed without describing it.” Using scathing words labeling Pelosi as the ‘Wicked Witch of the West” certainly diminishes the chances of the letter’s persuasiveness.

Reading Mr. Boyd’s critique of the Dodd-Frank bill and his disapproval of specific provisions one wonders, is he suggesting that those deficiencies cancel out the overall good of this bill? Maybe we should repeal it? So, reserving judgment, I was forced to do my own investigation of the pros and cons of this bill and came away with a different conclusion.

This bill is the most comprehensive attempt at financial reform and regulation of the financial markets conceived to ensure that another economic crisis is less likely to occur. In summary, it regulates credit cards, loans and mortgages; provides oversight of Wall Street and credit rating agencies; stops banks from gambling with depositors’ money via risky derivatives, brings hedge funds trading into the light; reforms the Federal Reserve and increases supervision of insurance companies.

The problem with the bill is that it is so huge that anyone can say anything about it to advance their particular agenda and be right. That is just what Mr. Boyd did. The fact is the Bill is 2,319 pages long and reading at 100 pages it would take a person a month to complete. Without benefit of a legislative staff Mr. Boyd and I have to depend on trustworthy summaries.

Scrutiny finds, despite its problems, Dodd-Frank is better than most alternatives, particularly no regulation. 


Because it’s been proven time and time again that large financial institutions cannot police themselves. And while there may be real problems with this bill the possible solutions are unlikely to work better or be politically feasible. It is fine to hint of repealing or watering down Dodd-Frank but, those options are not realistic, as long as we have big banks.

Which brings me to a Lakeland Times article, “Smith … Obamacare to drive [health] costs higher.” 

The article summarized WDHS Secretary Dennis Smith’s U.S. House testimonies where he voiced dire predictions of budget busting health care cost increases. What proof did he provide to back up his numbers? 

Well, none. 

Smith said that the state Department of Health Services hasn’t yet completed its financial projections on the impact of the federal law on the state budget (the WDHS hasn’t formally responded to an open records request by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for such projections). Furthermore, he stated the estimated impact was a simple “straightforward” calculation of cost but acknowledged that the state has yet to actually do it. “We’re still building our models.”

What one should keep in mind is this is the same person who minimized the importance of health insurance, espoused outright advocacy against Medicare, Medicaid and Wisconsin’s successful SeniorCare programs, in addition to, ending BadgerCare. 

What emerges from an examination of articles and interviews of Smith is a fanatical critique of the very programs he is now in charge of running. And lest we forget this is the same member of Gov. Walker’s cabinet who in August of this year was accused of an affair with Mary Spear, his chief legal counsel, that led to her attempted murder by her husband. A story covered by the Wisconsin State Journal and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His credibility, character, and his testimony are questionable.

Then there is the “Our View” column whose editor claims to remind people to be ever-vigilant of government no matter who won the most recent election. Oh, if that last part were only true. It is apparent, even to the casual reader, that there is uneven coverage of any news with a political undercurrent. Invariably, one party receives extensive favorable, prominent or preferential front page treatment. Whereas, the other garners honorable mention on the Northwoods Political Digest page, an article buried in the recesses of the paper or a tabloid full page exposé.

Some examples – The wolf hunt was given extensive coverage, but nary a word on Act 168 the misbegotten bill allowing hunting in our state parks (make sure you wear blaze orange and a Kevlar vest on your next nature walk or bird watching excursion). Yet again, The “Sunshine in Government” initiative gets annual exposure by this paper, but the DNR’s proposal to restrict public access to polluter hearings – nada. And what about the DNR’s failure to even prosecute polluters, which receives no play. Where is the full blown news analysis or investigation of Gov. Walker’s quasi-private agency WEDC, the outsourcing experiment gone wrong? An audit highlighted WEDC’s problems, including a lack of basic internal accounting controls tracking $56 million in loans and borrowers falling behind on loan payments that are now worth more than $12 million. 

Public-private partnerships like WEDC have been around for more than 20 years but were dropped in several states because they were so problematic. And major issues have occurred in states that were still using them.

Don’t let this paper become a parody of journalism. True journalism is about presenting both sides of a story without judgment or bias.

John Kocovsky

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: Daniel Holzman

Spring, Fall, Winter, and Summer, every time I drive on Highway 33, 5 miles east of Baraboo, past the Lower Narrows of the Baraboo Range, I want to stop at the wayside and take it in. It is spectacular. A quartzite quarry scars one face of it.
The scar is a reminder. Twenty years ago, it took the united action of the people and their elected representatives to preserve the Lower Narrows. Otherwise, there would be a man-made hole in the ground where stands a natural landmark.
Gov. Walker’s Tea Party is pushing SB1AB1.
According to The Nature Conservancy, 71 miles of rivers and intermittent streams flow through the proposed mining area, into the Bad River and eventually Lake Superior. The proposed pit embodies a large portion of the headwaters of the largest undeveloped wetland complex in the upper Great Lakes.
When the mining lobby is asked for some specifics of their plans to operate their big pit such as how many Wisconsin people would be hired for how long, their answer is basically to pass the bill and trust them. They also promise to not pollute the areas around the proposed pit by keeping water away. If by chance there is pollution, they say an unspecified sum amount bond will cover those costs.
The Flambeau Mine was permitted 1991 the same promise was made it rained, and to this day toxic metals flow into the Flambeau River watershed.
The Flambeau Mine is 181 acres. The proposed Penokee pit is 4.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. That is a big area to protect from rain. The Penokee Range is far too valuable to give away to the vague and risky promises of a polluting, open-pit mining lobby backed by their Tea Party. The Penokee Range currently turns rain into pristine waters.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Hansen

Kay, I think Gary thought you were making that up. No response usually means swallowing of pride.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013
Article comment by: Kay Samz

Gary, his from the Milwaukee Journal on the recent conviction of Tim Russell, Walker's former top aide and friend of over 20 years. Russell took a plea deal in exchange for information on "John Doe" and his sentence was reduced from a possible ten years in prison to two and a half.
"Russell is one of five former aides and associates of Walker who were charged as part of an investigation that has lasted more than 2 1/2 years and is now the fifth to be convicted.

Included in that group is Kevin Kavanaugh, a Walker appointee to the county Veterans Service Board, who was convicted in October of stealing more than $51,000 that was donated to help veterans and their families. Kelly Rindfleisch pleaded guilty last month to felony misconduct for doing campaign work while working in Walker's county executive office.

Darlene Wink, Walker's county constituent services director, pleaded guilty in February to two misdemeanor counts for doing campaign fundraising from the courthouse. William Gardner, a railroad executive, pleaded guilty to laundering campaign donations to Walker and others.

In addition, Brian Pierick, Russell's domestic partner, faces child enticement charges that grew from the investigation of Russell."

Thirteen others close to Walker have been granted immunity including his current Spokesperson, Cullen Werwie.
You can look up the other twelve yourself.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013
Article comment by: Richard Collins

John, in your last paragraph you state "don’t let this paper become a parody of journalism." I'm afraid that has already happened. Sometimes I have to ask myself . . . am I reading the Lakeland Times or am I reading The Onion?

Sad to say, I doubt that your letter or these comments will make the editorial staff be even a little bit introspective. They know what is "right." Their ideology is "right,: and anyone who strays even a bit from that orthodoxy is not just wrong, but dangerous and evil. Further, the actions of anyone who shares that ideology are not to be questioned . . . ever.

The underlying truth that can easily be detected is that for the Lakeland Times, the ends, if you share the beliefs of the Times, always justify the means.

Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Meinert

Mr. Kocovsky and Ms. Samz: You both use the one-string banjo routine of criticizing the Lakeland Times for being partial yet the same paper prints your submissions. Ms. Samz: you stated that "Just about everyone he knows" referring to Gov. Walker goes to prison or given immunity. Could you please list this long list of people for me? I thought those rumors were dead long ago and appears to be old news.

Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Article comment by: Kay Samz

The Lakeland Times is nothing but a cheerleader for the Walker administration, no matter what he does or the how many people around him go to prison or are given immunity. (Except for his wife and kids, just about every one he knows) They printed article after article slamming State Senator Jim Holperin for violating open records laws by not giving them a few emails. But Scott Walker's BFF for 25 years, Tim Russell, recently pleaded guilty to setting up a secret email system while working side by side with him. The purpose of that secret email system?....to keep the information going back and forth on it from the public and media. Any outrage from the Lakeland Times on that? Nope!! I can't wait to see what they come up with when John Doe Walker is indicted. Tick tock!

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