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Archive for August, 2009

IAM Seeking “Clarity” on 2nd Vote">Mercury Marine / IAM Seeking “Clarity” on 2nd Vote

The mil­i­tary has a term for what’s going on in Fond du Lac these days around the 151 corridor…


This only adds to it.

In a sur­prise turn of events, a Mer­cury Marine spokesman said Mon­day night that offi­cials from the com­pany and the union’s IAM Mid­west Ter­ri­tory will meet as soon as Tues­day to “bring clar­ity” to the con­fu­sion sur­round­ing union vot­ing at the Labor Center.

We’re talk­ing,” Mer­cury com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Steve Flem­ing said Mon­day night.

He declined to elab­o­rate on the sig­nif­i­cance of the sit­u­a­tion but indi­cated that “talk­ing” did not mean nego­ti­at­ing at the bar­gain­ing table.

The brief Mer­cury state­ment fol­lows: “In light of the uncer­tainty sur­round­ing the vot­ing by Mer­cury employ­ees on the company’s ‘best and final’ offer made ear­lier to the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Machin­ists and Aero­space Work­ers, Mer­cury and the IAM Mid­west Ter­ri­tory have agreed to meet to bring clar­ity to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions regard­ing the unchanged ‘best and final’ proposal.”

The state­ment came on the heels of vot­ing at the Labor Cen­ter that was cut short with­out expla­na­tion Mon­day afternoon.

Union work­ers were under the impres­sion when vot­ing ended Mon­day after­noon that their attempt at a sec­ond vote had been dealt a mor­tal blow, and with it, the chance to save more than 800 man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs at Mercury.

Vot­ing ended abruptly by order of the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Machin­ists and Aero­space Work­ers Mid­west Office.

In spite of deliv­er­ing a vote on a pro­posed labor con­tract by the mid­night dead­line Sat­ur­day night, union work­ers were prompted by local union lead­ers to con­tinue vot­ing through­out the week­end and into Monday.

We were plan­ning on pre­sent­ing the out­come to Mer­cury hop­ing they would have a change of heart,” said union worker Fred Toth Jr. “The (Mid­west) union resisted the sec­ond effort for a vote, not the company.”

If you want to see some­thing, I urge you to watch this report for CBS 5 WFRV out of Green Bay.  In it, you will see the union stew­ard just take the uncounted bal­lots and put them in his truck never to be seen again.

He didn’t offer com­ment to the press nearby.

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Favre: “I May Have Cracked Rib”

How and when did this hap­pen exactly?

Did he fall out of bed wrong?  Was he not wear­ing the spe­cial QB Red Jer­sey, or did he fall off the tractor?

Brett Favre told ESPN before the Min­nesota Vikings’ game on Mon­day that he sus­pects he may have a cracked rib.

Favre hasn’t had an offi­cial diag­no­sis, but he says tak­ing a deep breath causes dis­com­fort. The 39-year-old quar­ter­back isn’t listed on the injury report and no other other Vikings offi­cial men­tioned the injury pregame.

The three-time MVP says he has no plans to wear any kinds of spe­cial padding, say­ing “the dam­age is done.” Favre is expected to play the entire first half against the Hous­ton Tex­ans.

Favre, who signed a $25 mil­lion deal with the Vikings on Aug. 18, com­pleted just one pass for four yards over two series in his Min­nesota debut just days later.

Me?  I’ll believe it when I see it.  Favre may indeed be injured, but it could also be all a stunt to either get more rest as he con­tin­ues to work the rust of not being at train­ing camp off or wants the Tex­ans to lay up on him.

That, or he’s not injured, fakes it, and then has a great game to grow the legend.

Sorry if that sounds overly cyn­i­cal, but I’m tak­ing this sea­son with Brett Favre in Vi-queens pur­ple as he is not the down home coun­try boy who plays for the love of the game, but is a mas­ter manip­u­la­tor who will do and say any­thing to get his way.

Also, when did he get a med­ical degree?  I doubt he’s qual­i­fied to self-diagnose.

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The “Mouse” Engulfs the “Spider”

A moment of silence please…

Walt Dis­ney Co said on Mon­day it plans to buy Mar­vel Enter­tain­ment Inc for $4 bil­lion in a deal that would add char­ac­ters like Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Fan­tas­tic Four to its enter­tain­ment empire.

Dis­ney is strik­ing the biggest media deal of the year so far — one that will unite the Incred­i­ble Hulk and Mickey Mouse — at a time when the media busi­ness is strug­gling to cope with spend­ing cut­backs by both con­sumers and advertisers.

Mar­vel, how­ever, has a sta­ble of wildly pop­u­lar char­ac­ters that it has brought to the big screen in home-run films like “Iron Man.” A sequel, “Iron Man 2″ is due to hit the the­aters next year, while “Thor,” “Spider-Man 4″ and the first “Avenger” movie are slated for a 2011 release.

For Dis­ney, movies like those should help address a key area of con­cern among investors: How it can bet­ter reach more young males.

Indeed, Dis­ney has long been a block­buster brand with girls thanks to char­ac­ters like “Han­nah Mon­tana,” “Cin­derella” and “Snow White,” but has strug­gled to achieve the same kind of suc­cess with boys.

To do so, Dis­ney agreed to pay $50 per share in cash and stock for Mar­vel, a pre­mium of 29 per­cent to Marvel’s clos­ing stock price of $38.65 on Fri­day. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies.

Marvel’s shares shot up to $48.85 in early trade.

On a sheer busi­ness deci­sion, this is the smartest thing both com­pa­nies could do.  Mar­vel is often still seen as “Just a Comic Book Com­pany” while rival DC Comics is part of the Time Warner empire.  So, look­ing at it that way, Mar­vel would have been stu­pid to turn this deal down.  They get to keep their char­ac­ters, con­tinue doing what they’re doing, and can con­sol­i­date a mess of over­lap­ping enti­ties with the Walt Dis­ney Company.

Mar­vel over the past three years has evolved into “a comic book com­pany which sells its char­ac­ters for movie rights,” into “a film com­pany that makes comics” as it has done a spec­tac­u­lar job with not just the Spider-Man and X-Men fran­chises, but made hits out of ‘lower tier’ char­ac­ters like Iron Man, The Pun­isher (at least the one with Thomas Jane), Ghost Rider, and the Hulk films.  Many peo­ple may not know this, but “Iron Man” was the first film done by the company’s newest divi­sion, Mar­vel Stu­dios and was a hit beyond all expectations.

With the Mar­vel acqui­si­tion, Dis­ney gains a built-in infra­struc­ture it can now use to can­cel and con­sol­i­date their still (though barely) oper­at­ing comic books and adds a sta­ble of char­ac­ters for movies which have a proven track record of suc­cess at the Box Office in demo­graph­ics they have a hard time with.  Mar­vel gains a built-in ani­ma­tion stu­dio at their dis­posal, a well-known movie stu­dio with its own infra­struc­ture, a series of TV chan­nels to use their char­ac­ters in pro­grams for, and enough syn­ergy to make you hurl.

This deal is as win-win as you’re going to get when it comes to media marriages.

IGN.com, the video game and comics news web­site, posts part of the press release on the news of the mar­riage.  Nobody in the cor­po­rate struc­ture seems to be unhappy with what’s going on.

Dis­ney Pres­i­dent and CEO Robert A. Iger explains:

    “This trans­ac­tion com­bines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of char­ac­ters includ­ing Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Cap­tain Amer­ica, Fan­tas­tic Four and Thor with Disney’s cre­ative skills, unpar­al­leled global port­fo­lio of enter­tain­ment prop­er­ties, and a busi­ness struc­ture that max­i­mizes the value of cre­ative prop­er­ties across mul­ti­ple plat­forms and ter­ri­to­ries. Ike Perl­mut­ter and his team have done an impres­sive job of nur­tur­ing these prop­er­ties and have cre­ated sig­nif­i­cant value. We are pleased to bring this tal­ent and these great assets to Disney.”

Ike Perl­mut­ter, CEO of Mar­vel, adds:

    “Dis­ney is the per­fect home for Marvel’s fan­tas­tic library of char­ac­ters given its proven abil­ity to expand con­tent cre­ation and licens­ing busi­nesses. This is an unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­nity for Mar­vel to build upon its vibrant brand and char­ac­ter prop­er­ties by access­ing Disney’s tremen­dous global orga­ni­za­tion and infra­struc­ture around the world.“

Early indi­ca­tions are Dis­ney will allow Mar­vel Enter­tain­ment to main­tain its cur­rent lead­er­ship in both cor­po­rate and cre­ative and use them expand Mar­vel prop­er­ties across the global Dis­ney empire.

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AND Still a Slumlord">Lee Holloway: AND Still a Slumlord

This is just sad.

Asso­ciates of Lee Hol­loway said the pow­er­ful County Board chair­man was upset and embar­rassed with a report ear­lier this year that sug­gested he was a slum­lord because of the scores of build­ing code vio­la­tions at his var­i­ous properties.

But appar­ently Hol­loway wasn’t embar­rassed enough to elim­i­nate the problems.

City records show the Mil­wau­kee Demo­c­rat and his wife, Lynda, still face more than 150 vio­la­tions at their mostly north side apart­ment com­plexes and rental units. That’s only a slight drop from five months ago.

There’s been some­what slow progress,” said Tom Mishefske, oper­a­tions man­ager for the city Depart­ment of Neigh­bor­hood Ser­vices, which is mon­i­tor­ing the Hol­loways’ trou­bled properties.

The offenses range from minor mat­ters such as leaky sinks and unsan­i­tary base­ments to more seri­ous mat­ters such as roach and rodent infes­ta­tion and unsafe second-floor porches.

No Quar­ter first became inter­ested in the Hol­loway prop­er­ties after being con­tacted by a vol­un­teer adult tutor who was upset with the liv­ing con­di­tions for one of her stu­dents. The apart­ment had leak­ing pipes, no run­ning water in the kitchen, a hole in the ceil­ing in one room, win­dows that wouldn’t close and prob­lems with the heat­ing system.

The adult stu­dent, Cather­ine Alexan­der, has since moved out of the apart­ment but not before the Hol­loways took her to small claims court. The case was even­tu­ally dismissed.

The Hol­loways go on to tell the Jour­nal Sentinel’s Dan Bice they have hired a num­ber of con­trac­tors to deal with their many infrac­tions.  How­ever, they are so under watch by the city hous­ing offi­cials, they’ve been placed under a sin­gle audi­tor to watch over all of their Mil­wau­kee prop­er­ties.  The cou­ple seem to indi­cate the cou­ple they can have all repairs done by until the end of September.

An apart­ment like this seems to indi­cate otherwise.

Cat­rina Williams, who lives in an apart­ment at 2027 W. Atkin­son Ave., said she has repeat­edly com­plained about con­di­tions there. Dur­ing a recent visit, Williams, 28, pointed out roaches in her kitchen, a leak­ing kitchen sink, a poorly cov­ered hole in the ceil­ing of one room, extremely noisy neigh­bors and other prob­lems in her apartment.

Williams said she has talked with her build­ing man­ager and Lynda Hol­loway, but they have responded with lit­tle more than home­made con­coc­tions — a mix­ture of bak­ing soda and pow­dered sugar — for deal­ing with the roaches.

Lynda Hol­loway said Fri­day that she was unaware of the com­plaints. “What you’re telling me is news to me,” she said.

But Williams, who pays $525 a month in rent, said she is con­sid­er­ing mov­ing out of the apart­ment as early as today.

I can’t live like this any more,” she said.

Geez, and I thought I lived under a slum­lord when I first moved to Virginia.

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Is This the Start of the End of the Class of 2006?

One thing I’ve been won­der­ing as the August town halls have been going on is if this is the moment we finally see the end of the House Class of 2006.  For the first time, it’s those Democ­rats — elected under the ban­ner of an unpop­u­lar war run by an unpop­u­lar Pres­i­dent — finally don’t have him to use as the polit­i­cal weapon of last resort.  We’ve seen it up in Green Bay with Steve Kagen, who now has to be reduced to hold­ing union-organized and Democratic-funded “town halls” which in fact are noth­ing short of cam­paign ral­lies to boost the man’s leg­endary ego.

Take Kagen’s class­mate Carol Shea-Porter (D) of the 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict of New Hamp­shire who threw some­one out of her town hall — BY POLICE FORCE — why?  Because the guy didn’t have a ticket to ask a question.

Who knew democ­racy worked like a deli counter?

It’s truly amaz­ing to watch peo­ple like Shea-Porter, who was once seen as one of the right­eous bar­bar­ians crash­ing the gates sud­denly seize power and then slam the door in the face of those who put her there.

In four short years Carol Shea-Porter has evolved from a rabble-rousing, town hall dis­rupt­ing anti-war activist who once had to be forcibly removed from a Pres­i­dent George Bush event in Portsmouth to a Mem­ber of Con­gress who instructed armed secu­rity guards to remove a frus­trated voter from her own town hall event in Man­ches­ter on Saturday.

In the appended video, Shea-Porter can be seen instruct­ing secu­rity to remove a man for stand­ing to ask a ques­tion with­out a ticket. Shea-Porter pre­vi­ously held a lot­tery to deter­mine who could ask ques­tions. She can also be heard taunt­ing the man on his way out by say­ing, “I do hope the movie the­ater can be a lit­tle qui­eter for you.”

Things seem to only be get­ting inter­est­ing for mem­bers of the Con­gres­sional Class of 2006 if you ask me.

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No Governor’s Run for Erpenbach

Seri­ously, was the only per­son who though Jon Erpen­bach had a chance was Jon Erpenbach?

Demo­c­rat Jon Erpen­bach will not run for gov­er­nor and will instead seek re-election to the state senate.

With Gov. Jim Doyle not seek­ing re-election, Erpen­bach, of Wau­na­kee, had con­sid­ered a run for the office. But Erpen­bach said he would be unable to com­mit to it fully because he needs to spend time with his two teenage children.

It’s going to be huge,” Erpen­bach said of the 2010 governor’s race. “This is going to take a tremen­dous amount of national atten­tion from both sides and it’s going to take some­one who can be extremely focused and not have other issues that they’re going to be deal­ing with.”

Not have other issues that they’re going to be deal­ing with,’ that’s the kind of eyebrow-raising state­ment which makes guys like me stand-up and won­der if something’s about to hit the fan against Erpen­bach.  I per­son­ally doubt that, though his push­ing of “Healthy Wis­con­sin” again would be polit­i­cal sui­cide — even in Wis­con­sin.  No, Erpenbach’s like way too many Wis­con­sin leg­is­la­tors, roar one minute and a mil­que­toast when the really tough deci­sions come their way.  So he’s not going to do some­thing rash which would cost him his ever-so-safe State Sen­ate seat, short of the old “dead girl/live boy” sce­nario of course.

No, Jon Erpen­bach is a God only in his own mind and the fief­dom of sub­ur­ban Madi­son he inher­ited from Fein­gold in which he rules.

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Thank Goodness for Public Education!

My occa­sional drink­ing buddy Robert Stacy McCain points out how Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift seemed emo­tion­ally grounded in the fact an entire gen­er­a­tion of school chil­dren wasn’t taught the full events of the mid­dle of July 1969.

The city edi­tor at a small daily in Iowa sent a reporter out last week to gather rem­i­nis­cences of Sen­a­tor Kennedy. “Be sure to ask about Chap­paquid­dick,” he said, a request that drew a blank look. The young reporter had no idea what he was talk­ing about. When this story was related to me by the editor’s wife, who is a baby boomer steeped in Kennedy lore, I thought how relieved the Kennedy fam­ily must be that a gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans doesn’t auto­mat­i­cally reflect on the tragedy that for so long clouded Ted Kennedy’s life and career.

Try it’s a gen­er­a­tion of kids with his­tory teach­ers who didn’t bother to inform them Eleanor.

Per­son­ally, I never heard the word “Chap­paquid­dick” let alone could spell the word until I was 15 and it was brought up in a video on the 1960s I watched in my spring semes­ter U.S. His­tory class as a fresh­man at Kiel High.  My his­tory teacher — a battle-axe of a woman and the type of his­tory teacher who focused on dates and facts they don’t make any­more — Miss Eichelkraut (Miss “Ike” for short), was no polit­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tive by a long shot, but she knew his­tory was impor­tant.  So after we watched video, I wasn’t as polit­i­cally charged as I am today, slowly raised my hand and recall ask­ing some­thing close the fol­low­ing question:

“Um, Miss Ike. Did Ted Kennedy just leave that woman to die in his car?”

Miss Ike didn’t really stand there dumb-founded, but she did pause in my state­ment and say some­thing along the lines of “Yes Kevin, in all like­li­hood he did.”

I didn’t really leave the class­room that day proud I pointed out to my class­mates what was the obvi­ous fact of Chap­paquid­dick.  I left it aghast that a man elected to such high office and held in such high honor by seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion would do such a thing, let alone not report it, let alone not be held respon­si­ble for it.  At that age, I cared lit­tle about pro­fes­sional pol­i­tics and the back and forth of who won and lost.  All I cared about then was typ­i­cal teenage stuff of the mid-90s and had a moral com­pass based on what my par­ents told me was right and wrong.

That’s why some­thing like this by Chicago Tri­bune columnist/blogger Eric Zorn is so telling to the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal and media envi­ron­ment.  In it, Zorn laments that if the 24/7 news media envi­ron­ment of today was around in 1969, Ted Kennedy would have been destroyed polit­i­cally.  That all of Kennedy’s actions that week­end — as well as all actions done by the inves­ti­ga­tors on Martha’s Vine­yard and Cape Cod — would have been under a media heat lamp from the moment the news broke.

Well no duh.

It’s that atti­tude around the events of Chap­paquid­dick that aston­ishes me the most around most media and lib­eral intel­li­gentsia I’ve run into this past week.  “Oh God, do we have to talk about Chap­paquid­dick?” seems to be the most telling squeal from a cable talk­ing head.

This is me no doubt spec­u­lat­ing, but I often won­der if lib­er­als have ever asked them­selves when it comes to Chap­paquid­dick if they’ve put some­one other than Ted Kennedy in his place, what likely would have hap­pened to them when dealt with by law enforce­ment.  Or does that just not mat­ter, that ‘equal treat­ment under the law’ and all the other plat­i­tudes are just that — empty phrases — when it comes to back­ing some­one who shares the same ide­ol­ogy as you?

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Detroit Unemployment Nearly 30%

Here’s hop­ing this isn’t the future of many more Amer­i­can cities.

Nearly 3 in 10 res­i­dents of Detroit need a job.

The unem­ploy­ment rate in the city of Detroit rose to 28.9 per­cent in July, the high­est rate of unem­ploy­ment since Michi­gan started keep­ing mod­ern num­bers, accord­ing to the Michi­gan Depart­ment of Energy, Labor and Eco­nomic Growth.

113,008 peo­ple in Detroit are with­out jobs, 277,815 peo­ple are cur­rently employed.

Despite news of an improv­ing econ­omy, many res­i­dents of Michi­gan haven’t felt the impact of the nation’s stim­u­lus pro­grams.  The state of Michi­gan has the high­est unem­ploy­ment rate in the nation at 15 %.  Other large cities in Michi­gan are extremely chal­lenges as well.  The city of High­land Park had a 36% unem­ploy­ment rate in July, Pon­tiac 35 % and Flint 28 %.

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