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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Without Castle Doctrine, could I protect myself? 2 UPDATES

Legislation, WISCONSIN

Updates below. Please READ the post before commenting. Castle Doctrine gives the property owner immunity against an intruder. That means someone who is inside.

If you live in Wisconsin, do you have the right to defend yourself from an intruder in your home, without fear of incurring thousands of dollars for legal fees in court later?

Suppose it is near midnight, and you are home working at your computer. It is quiet in the house but then you hear a noise coming from your garage. You decide to investigate. But when you open your garage access door, you discover 2 men standing inside. One is holding a crowbar.

Can you, as the homeowner, defend yourself and be within the law?

Well, in Wisconsin, that depends. Were they intent on causing you harm? Were you feeling threatened?

What if they were escaped convicts?

That may sound a bit far fetched, but that might have been my scenario, had I decided to investigate a noise coming from our garage area in 1995. (Thankfully, I didn't go check that noise out-- it didn't even occur to me it might be a burglar.)

We were in the midst of a major remodel on our Brookfield home, and our garage was removed. The only thing keeping intruders out of our house was a make-shift, ill-fitting piece of plywood with a hasp and padlock covering our home's doorway.

And my intruders? A pair of escaped convicts from a Wisconsin prison!* Their stolen car broke down on the freeway near our home, and the two climbed the embankment and scouted the neighborhood for an easy car to steal. That would be ours. Not only was our old Oldsmobile parked outside, but it was also a model known to be an easy target for thieves. Added bonus for them: all exterior lighting had been removed for our remodeling project.

The noise? I believe they were trying to open our plywood door but maybe decided against a break-in and just took the car. They used a crowbar a workman left out to break a car window and the column, to bypass the ignition, and away they drove.

As it stands now in our state, "if a resident uses deadly or severe force against an intruder and claims self-defense against criminal prosecution, the burden of proof falls to the resident to prove the force was needed to prevent imminent death or substantial harm to himself or others."

So without a Castle Law, had they broken in my home, would I have to interview the two as to their intent before acting in self defense? Oh, so you are escaped convicts, but you just want my car? You aren't here to harm me? Well then, you should know our car uses a bit of oil.

The Castle Doctrine bill would "create an automatic presumption of immunity for the resident...", ensuring that "courts in most criminal and civil matters would presume that property owners using deadly force had acted reasonably against anyone unlawfully inside their residence, business or vehicle, whether they were armed or not."

Wisconsin's Castle bill, AB69, passed the Assembly yesterday. Next step would be to pass it in the Senate today. There is some speculation if that will happen or not, for if not today, then hopefully in the next session.

I hope we don't have to wait until next year to become the 32nd state to pass a Castle Doctrine protection. It's time Wisconsin officially made a man's home his castle!

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It's Veteran's Day: Thank a Vet, Help a Vet

Holidays, History, United States, Veterans, War

Do you know a Veteran? Today is Veteran's Day, a day set aside "to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans." So make a point of saying thank you for your service today if you see a veteran. You also might want to drop off a pie, cake, or some other treat to express your gratitude. (Saying thank you is appropriate every day of the year to all enlisted and veteran soldiers.)

Another thing you can do that will help veterans and their families is to donate to the Wisconsin Fisher House project. Fisher House, was created to give families of wounded soldiers a place to stay while their serviceman underwent medical treatment at a VA Hospital. In our area, that would be at the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee. Just click the link to donate online or mail a donation directly to them: Fisher House Wisconsin, 5000 W. National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295.

Veteran's Day has always been celebrated on November 11th, but until 1954, the day was originally called Armistice Day, which marked the end of WWI in 1918. It was a day set aside to honor the cause of world peace and all those who served in that great war. The name was changed 57 years ago to Veteran's Day, so that veterans of all wars would be honored. This year's Veteran's Day is unique in that its date reads 11.11.11.

On this day, and always, Thank you, Veterans, for putting your life on hold, and for being willing to risk your life to serve our country.

Past Posts: It's Veterans Day, say thank you to a soldier today
Thank you, Veterans, for the final salute
Thank you & God bless you Veterans and enlisted troops
My Favorite Marine--Thank You Veterans!


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Former evolutionist Paul Frank discusses Creation/Evolution debate Nov. 29, 2011

Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Special events, Religion

Many people think the Creation Science movement is just made up of Christians who ignore the scientific evidence. Well, that thinking will be challenged by Paul Frank, this month's Creation Science Society of Milwaukee speaker.

Paul Frank offers an interesting perspective on the Creation/Evolution debate, since he graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh with a B.S. in biology and a minor in chemistry. But even more noteworthy than his scientific background, is the fact that he began his college years as an agnostic and devout evolutionist!

From the CSSM Newsletter: "[Paul's] evolutionary beliefs were challenged when a friend presented him with a book entitled Studies in Creation by Dr. John Klotz. The book piqued Paul’s interest and the next book he read on the subject, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, marked a watershed moment in Paul’s life. The theory of evolution seemed implausible to him after reading that book. Incidentally this was the same book that Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe read that turned him from his evolutionary beliefs and resulted in his seminal work Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. To this day Behe’s first book remains a benchmark for the new ID movement." (My emphasis)

Paul Frank will approach the Creation Science / Intelligent Design movement vs. Evolution from a scientific, bio-chemical viewpoint--that genetic entropy (deterioration) rules out progressive macroevolution (major changes occurring over a long time), and "the necessity of DNA and proteins arising at the same time. He will also present a formidable argument against chemical evolution using probability statics."

In layman's terms, mutations cannot account for changes necessary for large scale evolution (one cell animals to humans or even fish to amphibian), because we now know that mutations just take away or repeat code that is already written. We also now know that new genetic information cannot be spontaneously added by chance, because that is mathematically impossible--the sequencing is far too complex for chance.

As you might have guessed, this presentation will be more technical in nature and is intended for adults.

Mr. Frank will present his talk on the Creation/Evolution Debate on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 6:45pm at Grace Bible Church, 2643 S. 117th Street, West Allis, Wisconsin. (Located between Cleveland and Lincoln Avenue on 117th Street.)

Upcoming Events: Dr. Gary Locklair PhD., Tuesday, February 14, 2011, 7:15 pm, Concordia University
Jerry Frye, Tuesday, April 24, 2011, Brookside Baptist Church


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Last chance! Your 2-cents against Hoan bike path & Trolley could save millions

TAXES, Transportation, United States, WISCONSIN

Most of you have heard about these 2 transportation projects, the addition of pedestrian / bike lanes to the I-794 Hoan Bridge reconstruction project and the Milwaukee Streetcar project, sometimes called the Milwaukee Trolley. (I often refer to it as Tom Barrett's Folly Trolley.)

The 2 projects have little in common except that they are both located in Milwaukee, both serve a very tiny percentage of the population, both add to traffic congestion, and both carry a whopping price-tag! The public hearings on both projects have passed, but you may still submit your comments via email until Wednesday, November 30th for the I-794 Hoan Bridge Bike Path and until Friday, December 2nd, 5pm for the Milwaukee Streetcar project.

Since both of these projects are primarily Federally funded, you DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE IN MILWAUKEE to submit your comments!


The Hoan Bridge Bike Lane Project: Comments due by 5pm Wednesday, November 30th - Email

Bicycles on the Interstate? Though I have seen bicycle's permitted signs on interstates in other parts of our nation, these usually were in very remote areas where there were NO other roads. Here in Milwaukee, that isn't the problem; there are other routes that would allow for bicycle traffic. (Click link and scroll half way down the page to see street level bike routes.)

Another problem with the Hoan bike path is the elevation rise and drop.
Very few bikers are in the kind of shape necessary to make this route practical.

And then there is the wind and weather component. Having recently driven
on the high bridges on I-43 in a SUV through Green Bay, we experienced the gusty winds off the lake. I cannot imagine what the Hoan would be like on a bicycle! And what about biking or walking in the rain or in winter?

How many riders would utilize this route? Costs for just adding the bike path range from an estimated $9.5 million to $95.5 million for a totally separate structure.

Wisconsin DOT I-794 Project reports
Sheriff Clarke and Senator Larson clash over proposed Hoan Bridge bike path

The Milwaukee Streetcar Project - Comments due by 5pm Friday, December 2nd - Email

Does the price-tag of about $30 million per mile ($65 M total) seem a worthy expenditure to you for a streetcar in Milwaukee you will probably never use? How about an additional $32 million per mile to move the existing utility lines? So the initial route cost estimates add up to $135 million for that 2.1 mile route: $65 million for the trolleys and track, $70 million to move utilities. Plus, don't forget an additional $2.7 million a year to operate the thing.

And oh, if that were the only cost! For that cost only reflects the first 2.1 mile leg of the route, the anchor baby of the project, so to speak. Because if you look at the proposed route map, you see this $65 million original leg is only a tiny portion of the spider shaped route map (Scroll down the page to see 2nd map.)
Keep in mind each mile of tracks laid carry the exorbitant expense of moving utilities, take up a traffic lane, and/or eliminate street parking along the route.

Why do we need this when a bus route would accomplish the same?
I rode the Milwaukee Transit buses for years to work. It is beyond me why this expensive street-car is being proposed. A bus line would offer more flexibility in routing. Buses can be rerouted or eliminated to reflect demand. Plus, unlike Portland and Phoenix, Wisconsin has winter. Buses can run in slushy, icy, snowy conditions. Can streetcars on embedded light-rail tracks?

Giving back the high-speed rail "free pony" anchor baby
Milwaukee Streetcar Route and future routes
Streetcar Comparison: Milwaukee vs. Portland

So this is one of the few times your input, your 2-cents, could save millions of dollars--billions when you include the additional routes and other areas bike lanes would be added to Interstates.

Say NO now to this kind of spending--we can't afford it.

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