Wausau Area Businesses that have Posted Signage Banning Weapons

Today, for the first time in many years, I am legally carrying a concealed firearm.  The reason I am carrying – it is laundry coin day and I will be walking around with fairly heavy bags that could contain over $1,000 in quarters.  The reason I am legal, because I have Wisconsin-issued permit to do so.

I am not one of those people who plan on carrying every day because I can.  On days where I might be transporting large deposits, carrying coin from laundry machines, or delivering eviction notices is when I am most likely to use this newly granted right.  Therefore, today is the first day since getting the permit I am actually using it.

However, up until today, I have been paying attention when I run my errands.  I have been looking at places that I visit to see if they have posted notices banning weapons.  Basically, because I think this is good information to know ahead of time.  Like most CCW permit holders, it is my intention to be a law-abiding citizen.  Therefore, when I see that a business bans weapons, I am going to respect that ban even though technically, there is no way they would know I actually have one.

I know that some CCW permit holders are going to start boycotting those businesses that cause them the inconvenience of getting to the door, seeing the sign, and then having to go back to the car to secure the weapon before going inside.  I am not one of those.  Where I do business depends on the value and the service of the business.  They have a right to ban weapons just as I have the right to carry one.  I am not going to stop using a business solely because they are not comfortable with Wisconsin’s CCW law.

To avoid those incidents where law-abiding, armed CCW permit holders are inconvenienced with weapon prohibition signs, this blog post will serve as a public service announcement to Wausau area CCW permit holders to know where some of these signs can be found.  That way, if you are going to this business, you know AHEAD OF TIME to secure the weapon in your vehicle.

This is a list of places where I have personally seen weapon prohibition signs.  If you see a business in the Wausau area that prohibits weapons but don’t see it on this list, post a comment to this blog post.  As I have some time, I will go by and verify the property is in fact posted and will add it to this list.  (If you wish to remain unnamed to the general public, let me know this in your blog comment and I will post the location of the sign after it is verified, but will NOT post your comment.)

PLACES IN THE WAUSAU AREA WHERE DR RENT HAS SEEN SIGNS NOT ALLOWING WEAPONS.

ACE HARDWARE CENTER – WESTON, 2606 Schofield Avenue, Weston

The GRAND THEATER, Downtown Wausau (Added to list 12/27/11, picture sent to me)

H T COBBLERY, 327 Third St, Wausau (A picture of the sign was sent to me)

MARATHON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 500 Forest Street, Wausau

SPRINT, 705 S. 24th Avenue, Wausau

WAUSAU CENTER MALL, Downtown Wausau (A picture of the sign was sent to me)

WAUSAU CITY HALL, 407 Grant Street, Wausau  (Note, I have not actually seen the weapons signs at Wausau City Hall, but based on meeting minutes, I know they are coming.)

Again, the purpose of this list is NOT so that CCW permit holders can boycott these businesses.  Those places where I have seen the signs are businesses that I use and am very happy with the services they provide and I will continue to do business with.  I am simply trying to save CCW permit holders the inconvenience of having to walk back to their car to secure the weapon after seeing the sign, by knowing the sign is there ahead of time, hopefully I can save you that trouble.

Posted in Concealed Carry | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Wausau Daily Herald and Facebook

Even though I don’t post blog entries every day, I do venture onto my blog once or twice a day to check the statistics.  WordPress has awesome web tracking stats that can be broken down by day, week, month, year, etc.  Not only does it tell me how many people visited my blog each day, it tells me which blog entries they read.  What I have found very interesting is they also track what people typed into search engines that lead them to my blog.  (NOTE:  The most common search term that brings up my blog is when people are looking for information on Rent Certificates, which tells me I will need to do a new rent certificate post a little closer to tax time.)

 

If someone came to my blog because they were lead there from a different website, that is also listed.  The most common reference here is when people go to the blog of my friend Tristan Petitt who is an attorney in Milwaukee(http://petriestocking.com/blog/).  He sometimes mentions my blog, or I sometimes comment on his posts, and people get to my blog from his.

 

However, yesterday I noticed that someone got to my blog from the Wausau Daily Herald’s website.  However, the exact location they got there was a very long website name.  Out of curiosity, I clicked on it.  Recently, the Daily Herald had a story about how the comment section of their articles was going start being done as Facebook posts.  The person who came to my blog got there from the comment section of this post.  At that time yesterday afternoon, there was well over 100 posts, the vast majority of which were not to pleased with this decision of the Daily Herald internet gods.  I went through each and every comment, to see which one might have lead to my blog… but I was not mentioned once.. so I am perplexed.

 

Early today, I popped over to Citizen Wausau and noticed there was a comment there also about the whole Daily Herald-Facebook thing.  So.. as a past “power user” over at the Herald, I thought I would throw in my two cents.

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I was one of the contributing writers to a local blog called, of all things, WausauBlog.  I spend a lot of time atWausauCity Hall, and at that time, the reporter who covered that “beat” was D J Slater.  He told me to check out the Daily Heralds forum boards and I did.  And from there it all started.

 

I became one of the more regular and recognized users of their site.  Back in those days, all comments went to the forum area.  Then they changed the format of the website and the comments stayed with the articles and the forums were all separate.  Many (including myself) didn’t care for this, because articles basically were hard to find after a few days, so the long discussions that would happen would be gone within a week.  But, I kept with it.

 

The Dr. Rent blog started out a long time ago as a Yahoo 360 page that basically gave radio show previews… but it was revised as a true blog covering all sorts of topics on the Daily Herald website, and they gave that blog some pretty top billing.  I was listed on the website as a featured blog… and when the print version would do an article of the best of the blogs, my blog would be featured more than it wasn’t.  My participation in their online community lead to an invitation to serve as a reader-member of their editorial board.  Times were good.

 

However, my blog fell under attack there, and I started doing a duplicate blog over at Citizen Wausau.  They then changed formats again and I was no longer able to post blog posts in the normal method I did… so the Dr. Rent blog came to an end at the Daily Herald’s website.  Also, my computer is not new, it is a 7 year old system running Windows XP and some old version of IE, and the newest version of the Herald’s new website would constantly lock up my computer.  Because of that, I now check for the daily news on the mobile version of their website on my Blackberry and spend very little time on the actual internet version of their site.

 

Also, when it crashes my system, it logs me out and it is a pain to look up my password in order to log back in only to be logged out again.  For this reason, you have not seen Dr Rent commenting on articles or on forum board topics on that site in quite some time.  However, had I not already brought my commenting to a close, this Facebook thing would have.

 

I set up a Facebook (and MySpace) account a long time ago because I attended a landlord-tenant seminar that said that these sites were good tools in tenant underwriting.  You can learn a lot about a potential rental applicant by doing a facebook search.  I did find some interesting things on a few applicants, but did not stick with it because I wasn’t sure how to use this as a screening tool and still comply with fair housing laws.

 

Then, some people who I served with in the military found me, and I started “friending” them.  I also “friended” people who asked, who were “fans” of Dr. Rent, and that is where I went wrong.  Long story short, some people who were not happy with some business decisions (i.e. evictions or collections) found ways to start harassing my friends on facebook, and that was drama I simply didn’t need, so I shut the whole thing down.

 

The Daily Herald is a private business, and as such, they have every right to modify their website in any way they want.  Personally, I think the dialoge that people could add to articles added value, it made things interesting.  It made the newspaper interactive.  I understand from the comments made by WDHAdministrator in that comment thread, this is a business decision that probably makes pretty good financial sense if I have to be honest.  However, I do think it will kill most of the article discussion, as I know I am not the only one who chooses not to be part of the Facebook phenomenon.

 

I wish the Daily Herald luck and I miss my online friends from that site.  Who knows, once I go to a more up to date operating system, I may try to get back on the forum boards… however… if comments to articles are to be done by Facebook, they will NOT be done by Dr. Rent.

Posted in Citizen Wausau, Facebook, Wausau Daily Herald, WausauBlog, WDH Editorial Board, WDH Forums | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Future of HazMat Response in Wausau?

Every now and then I attend city council and committee meetings not because there is something on the agenda near and dear to my heart… sometimes I attend just to get a pulse for what is going on.  (Okay, and sometimes I attend for entertainment value.)  The agenda for Monday evening’s Wausau Public Health and Safety Committee looked like it would give me a good mix of items.  They were going to discuss with the owner of Malarkey’s their concerns now that this popular downtown bar has 125 points assessed against their liquor license.  They quickly passed ordinances for firearms in reaction toWisconsin’s conceal carry law and those ordinances already needed to be tweaked, and there was going to be a discussion ofWausau’s HazMat contract with the state. 

 

Of course, there were some other things that really made the meeting interesting that I may very well discuss in future blog posts, including two people turned down for bartending licenses (one because they had outstanding felony charges but were not convictions yet, so they disputed license denial on the “innocent until proven guilty” concept; and another who was guilty of some felony arrests, but more than 10 years ago and was disputing his denial on the “how old most those charges be before I have served my time” argument).  NOTE:  On my rental applications, I ask about arrests and I ask about evictions.  An arrest or conviction does not automatically mean I will turn you down, neither does an eviction.  I need to know the situation to determine the risk factors involved… but whenever an applicant looks at those questions and responds with the words… “Here’s the thing….” – I can almost guarantee “the rest of the story” isn’t going to help their case.  The same was true last night.

 

The other was someone who had come to the meeting hoping for some ordinances on quiet hours.  Apparently, he lives in a lower rental and the tenant in the upper unit plays their TV loud and is noisy in general after 10 PM so this person cannot sleep.  He has called the police a number of times.. however Chief Hardel reported that when officers responded, the noise level was not unreasonable.

 

In spite of those entertaining issues, the discussion that I found most interesting was the HazMat discussion.  Now keep in mind, I have not done any research on this issue so I really can’t go in depth on how HazMat calls have been handled in the past.  Also, I didn’t realize until the discussion was almost over that this item would be blog-worthy, so I did not take any notes.  I am going 100% off of my memory of what was discussed, so if I am getting something wrong, please leave a comment on this blog and tell me.

 

Up until now, the state had regional HazMat teams all over the state.  Instead of dedicated teams, these teams would be based with various fire departments.  These departments would then buy equipment to handle HazMat (which stands for Hazardous Material by the way) emergencies, and have personnel trained and certified to respond to situations within their region.  Needless to say, this created some fairly significant expenses for those departments.  However, those departments would be compensated by the state for this additional capability.  The Wausau Fire Department is currently receiving just under $100,000 per year from the state to be the regional HazMat response team.

 

Because I have not seen any news reports in recent years about Hazardous Material emergencies that have not been able to be handled with the available resources, I have to assume that this system that has been in place for many years seemed to be working just fine.  However, government in general has never been a strong believer in my personal philosophy of “if it works, don’t f_______ with it”.

 

The State ofWisconsinis completely changing how they set up their HazMat response teams.  They are going to have Level 1 response teams, which can pretty much respond to anything including nuclear and weapons of mass destruction.  You then have Level 2 response teams who are fairly similar to the current regional response teams except they will not be able to respond to nuclear issues.  Finally, there will be Level 3 response teams who are basically able to handle small issues, or at least secure the scene until a Level 2 or Level 1 can get there.

 

Under this new program, the State has submitted a draft contract toWausauto become a Level 2 response team, and would basically serve an 11 county area.  The problem is, that the state wants the Wausau Fire Department to cover an area larger than the one they cover now… and they want them to do this for about $73,000.

 

So, by the end of this year, the City ofWausauhas a choice when it comes to a HazMat response team…

 

First,Wausaucan accept the contract and become a Level 2 state HazMat team and receive $73,000 from the State for doing so.  The problem is, that this is a gamble.  Depending on what services are needed, these funds may not cover the expenses needed.  Actually, based on my understanding of the conversation, it will NOT coverWausau’s expenses.  For example, the state will only pay for a 7-person team to be deployed to an emergency.  However,Wausau’s Fire Chief says that for many responses, a crew of 12-14 is needed to ensure the safety of all who respond.  The Chief states he cannot in good conscience (and therefore will not) send 7 people when that is all the state will pay for when he knows more people are needed for a proper and safe response.  Because this is an 11 county area, a dozen ofWausau’s firefighters could be over an hour away.  So, in addition to the expense of the HazMat response, additionalWausaufirefighters may need to be called in to ensure thatWausaucould handle a major structure fire here in city limits.

 

Basically, choice one is take the state up in their offer.  This puts $73,000 intoWausau’s Fire Department budget… but if the actual expenses of being a Level 2 team exceed this, thenWausau’s taxpayers have essentially picked up part of the check for HazMat coverage for this 11-county area.

 

Second,Wausaucan keep its HazMat team, but not sign the contract with the state.  We already have the equipment (although it does need to be maintained and periodically to be replaced).  However, there is a cost involved in training and certification. Wausauwould then continue to have HazMat coverage for any emergency that happened in the City ofWausau(and probably the greater metro area whereWausauhas mutual aid agreements), but our HazMat team would be OUR HazMat team.  The down-side, the department loses $73,000 from the State, which is money I assume they were budgeting on receiving.

 

The final option… Wausau decides that based on budget issues, that HazMat coverage is not going be something provided by the Wausau Fire Department and if there is a HazMat issue in the greater Wausau area, we will need to wait for response from HazMat teams in either the Eau Claire area, or the Appleton/Oshkosh area.

 

Personally, I really don’t care for any of these options.  I don’t mind paying taxes for the services provided by the fire department to me… but I am not a big fan of paying taxes so my fire department can go handle emergencies hours away.  I am not a big fan of the possible local budget problem having local HazMat capabilities that are not part of the state program… and I am not a fan of not having any type of HazMat capabilities at all.

 

It will be interesting which way our city leaders decide to go…

Posted in Budget, City Council, Fire Department, HazMat, Malarkeys, Wausau | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Can a Landlord Keep your Earnest Money?

When you look at my consistency in posting blog entries, you pretty much can see the consistency of my life as late.  I was doing really well with regular blog posts, 2 to 3 per week.  Then here goes another stretch for nearly a month without one.

 

A lot has been going on the World ‘o Rent, both professionally and personally.  But, like a lot of other people out there, I am fighting the battles one day at a time.  Every evening, when the day comes to an end, it is a small victory and every morning when the alarm clock goes off, a new battle begins.

 

There of course has been excitement.  A few weeks ago I did an interview with the Wausau Daily Herald where I played the roll of “political pundit” as it related to theWausaumayor’s race.  I talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Mayor Tipple in his bid for re-election, and also discussed other likely candidates and then brought up some names we might also see as the race gets closer.  Being a regular in City Hall, I was worried a little bit about this because everyone likes reading about their strengths, but some people really don’t take criticism of their weaknesses very well.  I did catch some flak from two people regarding the article that came out over a Sunday while I was inOklahoma.  Because of internet issues, I was able to get multiple emails demanding apologies, but it was not until a day or two later where I could read the article to see what exactly I was supposed to apologize for.  So… a good time there was had by all.

 

Shortly after said trip toOklahoma, Mrs. Rent’s mother fell and broke her hip.  Needless to say, an injury like this does cause a great deal of stress to a loving family.  It doesn’t help much that Mrs. Rent’s mom is a retired nurse.  And, it is no secret that the people who make the absolute worst patients tend to be doctors and nurses.  However, to add a level of drama, her mom is also pretty much the glue that holds that family together.

 

But, enough about the drama ala Rent.  I was emailed a question about an earnest money earlier this week.  A landlord takes a $100 earnest money with every application, if you don’t pay the $100, they don’t process the application.  An applicant was approved for an apartment, but never signed the lease.  Instead, the applicant applied for a number of places and signed a lease somewhere else.  However, now they want their $100 back.  The landlord has told the applicant because they were approved, they don’t get the money back, the application even says this clearly.  The applicant is telling the landlord that earnest money is refundable and if they don’t get it back, they are going to file a small claims action for return of the money – doubled.

 

Did the applicant automatically forfeit their earnest money when they signed the lease elsewhere after being approved?  The answer….. sort of.

 

Money that a landlord gets prior to entering into a rental agreement is “Earnest Money” by definition.  And the tenant is correct that “Earnest Money” is refundable.  Some landlords charge non-refundable application fees.  However, by legal definition, if you get the money before signing the lease, it is refundable “Earnest Money” no matter what the landlord tries to call it.  The only exception to this are funds collected for “Credit Check Fees”.  “Credit Check Fees” are NOT refundable, and I will talk about those in a little bit.

 

Since the Earnest Money is refundable, when must aWisconsinlandlord refund it?

 

If the landlord rejects the application, or refuses to rent to the applicant, the Earnest Money must be refunded to the applicant.  If the applicant withdraws their rental application BEFORE they are approved (or, more accurately stated, before they are notified that they are approved), they get their Earnest Money back.  Finally, if the landlord does not approve the application within three business days, it is assumed inWisconsinlaw that the application is denied and the earnest money must be returned.  (The 3 business day guideline can be extended out to 21 calendar days if agreed to in writing.)

 

Something important to note… although a landlord has 21 days to return the security deposit to a tenant, that same 21-day rule does NOT apply to Earnest Money.  If the applicant is eligible to have their earnest money refunded, it must be refunded by the end of the next business day.

 

In our situation though, the applicant withdrew their application AFTER acceptance, so none of the situations above apply.

 

If we read farther into the regulation that covers Earnest Moneys (ATCP 134.05), if the applicant does enter into a lease agreement, the Earnest Money is still refundable.  It can either be applied toward the applicant’s (now tenant’s) security deposit, to their rent, or in some cases get directly refunded back to them.  Again, in our situation, the applicant never signed the lease.

 

The law then goes on to discuss what happens when an applicant is approved, but does not enter the rental agreement.  In those situations, the Earnest Money is NOT automatically forfeited to the landlord.  However, the landlord can withhold from the Earnest Money “an amount sufficient to compensate the landlord for actual costs and damages incurred because of the prospective tenant’s failure to enter into a rental agreement.”  This can include new costs to re-lease the property, more showings, more advertising, etc.  This can also include rent that the landlord lost because they pulled the unit off the market and could have rented it to someone else.  Of course, in order to add lost rent to the list of damages, the landlord does need to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the property.

 

So, in going back to our original question, did the applicant automatically forfeit their $100 Earnest Money when they backed out of signing a lease after their application was approved?  No.. they did not.  However, if the landlord feels that they suffered $100 in damages (and to be honest, that is a fairly easy number to justify), they can withhold the earnest money in compensation of those damages. 

 

What about this non-refundable Credit Check Fee that I had mentioned?  Well, first let me say that when this law was added to the books in 1999, it became (in my personal opinion), one of the top three most useless laws written – ever.

 

This is how it works.  If a landlord wants to pass on the expense of doing a credit check on the applicant to the applicant, they can do so if they follow some (what appear to be) simple steps.

 

First of all, the landlord can only charge for the actual cost of the credit report, not to exceed $20.00.  So, if the credit report costs $10, the landlord can only charge $10.  If the credit report costs $30, the landlord can only charge $20.

 

The applicant has to be made aware of this charge before hand.  That way, if they don’t want to apply to avoid paying the fee, they can.  Also, the applicant can avoid paying the fee by providing the landlord with a copy of their credit report that is less than 30 days old.  In the event the landlord gets a copy of the credit report from the applicant, they can still run their own to verify the information is still accurate, the landlord cannot charge for it though.

 

So far, this law seems reasonable…. Why is this on Dr. Rent’s list of useless laws?  Well… another requirement the landlord must follow in order to be able to charge a tenant for their credit report is that the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the report.  Which you are probably thinking makes sense, after all, if they paid up to $20 for it, why shouldn’t they be able to have a copy of it?

 

Well…. Because that is not the way credit reports work.  Credit reports are not easy to get, you have to contract with a provider and those providers will have a ton of requirements that are established by laws that they have to follow before you are even allowed to be their customer.

 

One of these requirements is that you, as the party getting the credit report, agree to keep that information confidential and to not share the contents of the credit report with anyone else besides you…. INCLUDING THE PERSON YOU RAN THE REPORT ON!!!  That’s right, if you give me written permission to run a credit report on you, I cannot tell you what that report says.  If you have ever been turned down for credit, you don’t get a copy of your report, you get a letter saying which report they used and who you can contact to get a copy.  (Of course, you can go to the website www.annualcreditreport.com and run a credit report on yourself once a year from each of the “big 3” credit reporting agencies as part of the FACTA laws.)

 

Now you see why this law is useless.  I can only charge an applicant a Credit Check Fee if I am willing to violate my contract with my credit report provider, which could make it impossible for me to run credit reports in the future.  It is like passing a law that says that you can only drive a car if it is red… and then outlawing red paint.

 

So.. there is a short review of how earnest moneys work inWisconsin.  If a landlord is charging any type of application fee that is not refundable (with the exception of up to $20 for a Credit Check Fee), you can tell thatWisconsinlandlord – YOU CAN’T DO THAT!

 

Posted in ATCP 134, Credit Report, Double Damages, Earnest Money, FACTA, Questions | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Concealed Carry Legal in Wisconsin in Two Weeks (but maybe not Wausau?)

As the classroom requirements for the concealed carry classes are being finalized, the City ofWausauis looking at how the ability for people to legally carry concealed weapons affects them.

 

The Public Health and Safety Committee addressed this issue last night at their meeting.  This first came up on their agenda a few months ago and a couple of people (myself included) showed up to comment on this item.  However, because so much of the actual new rule had not yet been finalized, the Committee thought it best to table the item until the specifics of the rule were more clear.  According to the minutes of September meeting when it was made clear that concealed carry would be on the October agenda, the Committee decided that their October meeting would be moved from the small conference room they normally have it to Council Chambers, as they expected a large turn out.

 

Well.. when it came to the concealed carry issue and the turnout, I was it.

 

The city attorney provided a complete and total list to the committee of all city-owned properties.  There was discussion concerning which properties would not allow weapons by statute (such as Council Chambers when it was being used as the municipal courtroom).  There was also discussion that certain city properties had to allow concealed carry by statute, including city-owned parking ramps, and residential rental properties owned by Community Development.  However, the majority of the discussion seemed to favor an outright prohibition on city property.

 

Being the only person there for that issue, I did ask to address the committee.  I told them I wasn’t going to talk about the liability issues or the constitutional law issues because to be honest, I am not experts in those issues.  Instead, I want to talk to the committee from a simple common sense point of view, where I feel quite qualified.

 

Although concealed carry is new toWisconsin, it is not new, 48 states already allow it in one form or another.  There is this vision that all of a sudden every man, woman and child is going to be “packing heat”, just out looking for a problem that they can solve.  That is simply not the case when looking at the other states where this is legal.  I asked how many on the committee had lived in… or better yet, visited a state outside ofWisconsinorIllinois?  When they were inTexasorMinnesota, did it occur to them that the person walking next to them on the sidewalk could have a .45 in a shoulder holster under their jacket or a snub-nose .32 in their purse?

 

I thought that this prohibition that the City was looking at enacting was little more than a solution looking for a problem.  I indicated that the majority of people aren’t going to go out and get a concealed carry permit.  And, even those that do aren’t going to carry every time they leave the house.  I did admit that there are some who want the ability to carry so that they can step in and be the hero if they witness a bad situation.. and I also admitted that those type of people do worry me a bit and there are some legitimate concerns about that scenario.  However, the vast majority of those who will be exercising concealed carry will be doing so for their own personal protection, and are not likely to pull out the gun except when they, themselves are in a situation where they must protect themselves.

 

The gun in the woman’s purse scenario is what I see as the probable most likely case of a person carrying a concealed weapon for personal protection.  Some on the Committee were worried when different areas in the building had different rules.  Go into city hall to pay your water bill, you are fine…. But go into city hall for a municipal court hearing to contest a parking ticket, and the gun can’t come in with you.  One of their reasons for a complete ban is to prevent this type of confusing situation.  However, I would hope that an aspect of the classes is to teach those with the permit where they may and may not carry, that way a person knows if they are going to municipal court, take the gun out of the purse.  I think the “confusion” argument is over-rated.

 

I explained that more confusion was likely to happen when the City went above and beyond the statutory restrictions.  After a while, once the “new gun smell” wears off, concealed carry will be second nature and although a woman will not forget that there is a sidearm safely tucked away in her purse, it will not be a big deal.  You could go to City Hall for a city council meeting and get to the door and see the No Firearms sign.  Okay… so now one of three things happens.  The person truly did forget the gun was in there and entered council chambers.  The person did not want to walk all the way back to their car to secure their gun and just walked through the doors to city hall with the gun figuring it wouldn’t be an issue, or they will walk back to the car and now you have cars parked all around city hall the night of a city council meeting, and some of those cars will very likely have weapons in them because they couldn’t be brought inside.

 

To me, having signs that restrict carrying when there normally wouldn’t be a sign would be much more confusing for those who have gone through the training.  If they didn’t expect to see the sign, now they have to make other arrangements.

 

The Committee did make a very valid point that sometimes at Committee and Council meetings, emotions can take over some issues and debates have been known to get heated.  The fear there is that by allowing the weapons, when a situation becomes heated and emotional, would someone remember in the heat of the moment the access they have to the firearm they have in their backpack or purse that they have been carrying for some time and would the heat of the moment present them with a temptation to pull it out?

 

In my opinion, that is a lot of what ifs.  And, of course, you are really not doing anything to prevent someone from bringing a firearm to the meeting, you are only posting a sign that makes it illegal to do so.  A number of cities have passed bans for talking on cell phones while driving, but I have personally seen that posting a sign and making it illegal alone doesn’t often stop anyone.

 

Another concern presented by Police Chief Hardel has a lot more credence.  His worry, in addition to those who might draw a weapon while in a heat of the moment emotional debate, is those who will carry a weapon for reasons other than personal protection.  And, I stated earlier in this blog, those that carry weapons for the purpose of being ready to step in when they witness a bad situation worry me.  Let’s say someone does pull a weapon at City Hall during a Council Meeting.  Council meetings do have (at least one) uniformed police officer for security.  If someone pulls a gun, that police officer needs to assess the threat and react.  If the only ones in the room with drawn weapons are the perpetrator and the police officer, the possible scenarios that the officer has to work through are limited.  However, all of a sudden another gun or two appears.  Are those guns from people supporting the perpetrator making them additional threats, or are they there to assist law enforcement?  And, while law enforcement will be concerned about things such as cross fire and innocent victims and have gone through training for situations such as this, the concealed carry classes probably don’t go through these type of situations, and a well meaning citizen could actually complicate an issue that a well trained officer could have taken control of by just talking with the perpetrator.

 

It’s a complicated issue.  However, we are adults and at some point law-abiding citizens need to be treated as such.  If we have taken the class and pass the background checks and gone through the steps to concealed carry, then we should be allowed to carry as a matter of principle.  The law addressed arrears where common sense determined concealed carry to be a bad idea.  To expand prohibitions beyond the state law starts to cross the common sense threshold.  Does the increased SENSE of security and safety members of the City Council and members of the Public Health and Safety Committee get with a total ban truly represent an ACTUAL increase in safety or security?

 

Although members of the Committee contacted otherWisconsincities to see what they were doing, no one on the Committee (that I am aware of, and yes I asked) contacted city halls in other states where concealed carry is already allowed.

 

Last night, the Committee voted to recommend a prohibition of weapons in City owned buildings.  However, they did not decide which city-owned buildings.  They will have another meeting Monday (October 24th) to discuss and recommend which city buildings should and should not be subject to the weapons ban.  The City Council will address this issue on Tuesday, October 25th.  If I am again the lone voice of common sense, I anticipate a vote favoring the ban by a fairly large majority.

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Do You Have Nothing Better to Complain About??? F__ You – Eat S____ – F You – Eat S – F You …..

Late last week, I learned that Badger football coach Bret Bielema and UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez issued a statement asking the famed Badger student section to become a little more family friendly.

 

As a Badger alum, I have gone to my fair share of football games in Camp Randall, including being in said student section during my student days. Last year, for the final game of the season, I took a long time friend who had never been to a Badger game. She and I go to Packer games on a fairly regular basis, but that was her first Badger game. Although she continues to be a die-hard Packers fan and is really not “into” college football, she did state that was the most fun she had ever had at a football game. (And, because of the stands rushing the field, she formed that opinion without Wisconsin’s famed “Fifth Quarter.”)

 

Many student sections are known for being loud, and ours is no different. However, our student section is hands down the most organized student section in college football. How many does the student section seat? I am guessing at least 10,000 if not more? The level of coordination it takes to do some of the stuff they do, and the fact that they do it without any real formal coordination is simply amazing.

 

For those not familiar, there are some who have made the comment that the student section is an event all in of itself, and there just happens to be a football game going on also. The wave doesn’t happen unless the student section wants it to happen, and then the control they have over it is simply amazing… they will control the speed (they use three of them), the direction (changing the direction mid-wave), and the famous split wave where they send it back going both directions at the same time. Then there are the chants. Of course the entire section has to count out Bucky’s push ups. (One of the reasons why our school is one of the best in the country, our student section can count up to 70 if needed – LOL.) And, in the event of a first down, the entire section will chant “First and Ten Wisconsin”. Many of these the entire stadium will join with.

 

These are not the activities that have caught the attention of our coach and athletic director. At some point during the game, half of the student section will turn to the other half and yell, in unison, F___ You. To which the other half will respond, Eat S____. And this will go on for a few minutes. Also, when some type of mistake is made by the other team (they got a significant penalty or fumbled the ball or threw an interception), the student section reminds the guilty party You F_____’ed Up.

 

Apparently, people have been sending those in charge letters complaining about the language, and conversely those in charge have asked the student section to stop. I hope that Coach Bielema and Director Alvarez understand that by issuing their statement, all they are doing is making it possible for them to report back to the complainer that they tried. The Badger Football Student Section is an entity all its own, and I truly don’t believe they are going change who they are or what they do.

 

If you don’t want your young children being exposed to the F word or the S word, taking them on a college campus the day of a football game was probably not wise. Instead of trying to lower things to the lowest common denominator, you could be a responsible parent and let your young child know that the use of that language is not appropriate in your household.

 

I remember going to the Michigan game a few years ago and 4 Michigan students were sitting in front of us. They were in awe of our student section and two (who were not actually from Michigan, just students there) indicated that had they known ahead of time what our student section was like, they might have gone to the UW instead.

 

Here is my letter to Coach Bielema and Director Alvarez concerning student section use of four letter words….

 

Director Alvarez, you brought our football program back from the hallows and turned it from an “also ran” to a Big 10 contender year in and year out. You will be forever an honored man on campus because of it. Coach Bielema, you picked up where he left off and have positioned our team for a run at a national championship.

 

You are both big men on campus… but realize that as big as you are, the student section is a bigger part of the campus experience. I think you are both smart enough to know you are not going to change the student section… I just wish that you both had the courage to tell those few who can’t handle a little Saturday afternoon fun that you aren’t even going to try.

 

Sincerely,

John H. Fischer, ‘97

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The Lost Art of the “You Suck” Letter

Dear _____:

We would like to thank you for taking the time to respond to our job opening for a _____________.  We would also like to thank you for taking the time to come into our office for an interview.

We did have a number of qualified applicants, and all of the people we chose to interview were very well-qualified.

Although well qualified for the position, when matching the long-term goals of our applicants against our long-term plans, we did decide on another applicant.

Thank you again for the opportunity to get to know you, and thank you for taking the time to get to know us a little better.  We do wish you the best on your future employment search.

Sincerely,

 

We don’t have a great deal of staff turnover and therefore it has been a very long time since we have advertised for a position.  However, I do have three “form letters” still in my computer for telling applicants that they were not chosen.  We have one that we sent to applicants who based on their application we decided not to interview, we have one that we decided against after an interview, and then a third letter that were sent to finalists who we did not hire after a second interview.  Above is one of our “you suck” letters.

 

I don’t know where the term “you suck” letter started or how many people actually use it, but I can tell you where I learned of the term.  A good friend of mine lost their job inLa Crosse, and was applying for positions all over the state.  As they were going through their job searches, I would talk with them and get updates.  “I got a ‘you suck’ letter from so and so today” she would say.  She eventually found a job in northernWisconsin.

 

The term was revived again after Mrs. Rent was laid off from the Wausau Police Dept. a few years ago after a round of budget cuts.  She was searching for jobs in three states and for about a year, it seemed like “you suck” letters filled our mail box daily.  (She did get a job as a youth librarian in the southern suburbs ofOklahoma Cityearlier this year.)

 

Well now it’s my turn.  As I am stopped at this crossroads trying to decide if it is in my best interest to continue on in real estate, or change career paths, I find myself applying for other jobs.  So far, I have found the courage to throw my hat in the ring for two jobs outside of real estate.  Over the weekend, I learned that I didn’t make the first cut on one of the jobs.  The other job I was a final three finalist for, but learned yesterday that “they went a different direction.”  Considering how many jobs both my friend fromLa Crosseand Mrs. Rent applied for before finding a job, it would be naïve of me to think that I would land the first (or second) job I apply for.  However, it does bother me of how I learned that I was out.  I have yet to receive the dreaded “you suck” letter.

 

The job I was a finalist for was one that I really thought was custom made for me when I first learned of the opening.  Anyone who has been a long time reader and who knows my involvement with local government inWausau, Weston and Schofield will completely understand why I applied for the position of budget analyst withinOklahoma City’s city government.  During my final interview three weeks ago, I even commented to them how much I really liked their hiring process.  After the extensive application and supporting materials, those that made the first cut were given a test.  Using Excel, we were given two problems similar to those we might find on the job where we had to project expenses and make recommendations.  We had 90 minutes to establish a risk management budget based on cost trends over the last 5 years and then break them down by department.  The second problem was to make recommendations for utility rate increases to pay for needed infrastructure. 

 

The top ten or so scores on this test would proceed through the process.  The next step for those that made it through was a structured interview.  There was a panel of people doing the interview including people from the HR department and future co-workers who already have a similar job.  The five questions were given to the applicants 25 minutes before the interview, and then applicants had a 25 minute interview to answer those questions.  This process narrowed the applicant pool down to three.

 

The final interview was about 45 minutes long.  30 minutes were spent with the head of the department, and 15 minutes were spent with the applicants’ future immediate supervisor.  By now, the three finalists were determined to all be very well qualified for the job, and the final interview was more to learn about the person to determine who would be the best fit personality-wise.  At the end of that interview, I was told they were “a couple of weeks” from making a decision.  So, when two weeks passed without hearing anything from them, I was not overly concerned.

 

This last Friday was three weeks.  That seemed like a long time.  I thought maybe they had offered someone the position but were waiting on notifying the other two candidates until they were sure their #1 choice was going to take the job.  Mrs. Rent went through and extensive background check before being hired on for her job in OKC, and assumed that since the budget office looks over a nearly $1 billion annual budget, their background checks would be much more intense and therefore take longer.  It turned out we were both wrong.  I called them yesterday morning around 11 AM.  They called back around 4:30 PM to let me know they “went a different direction” and made the hire “some time ago.”

 

As I said, I was very impressed with their hiring process, but was very disappointed that no one in that very large department could find the time to send a very quick form letter, a short email, or make a quick phone call to let me know that they had made a final decision.  Every day for the last three weeks in the back of my mind I was going through what I would all need to get done before relocating to OKC if I was offered the job.  The test was done via email, the first interview was done via phone, but that final interview was done in person.  Am I being too selfish when I think that common courtesy would have been to let me know the final decision, especially when I drove nearly 1,000 miles each way for that final interview?  That was a disappointing end to what was otherwise a very well though-out selection process.

 

The other job that I am assuming I didn’t make the first cut for was the position of Village Administrator for Kronenwetter.  Based on reports from the Wausau Daily Herald, they had received just over 30 applications and they were hoping to narrow it down to ten candidates for a first interview.  An article in the Wausau Daily Herald this weekend reported that the job search committee in Kronenwetter had already interviewed 10 candidates by phone and were in the process of narrowing down that field to 6.  I am assuming I am out as I was not one of those 10 interviewed.  However, a “you suck” letter from Kronenwetter is not in my mail box.

 

Maybe I need to keep looking… maybe I need to stop looking and just stay in the career I am in.  However… I can say that no matter which direction my life takes, if I am in charge of filling a job opening, those that don’t make it will get a communication saying so… the lost art of the “you suck” letter is not lost on me.

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