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Neil Johnson 

Janesville officials dedicated Sheiffer Park, named after former City Manager Steve Sheiffer, on Friday. The 87-acre park—formerly Northeast Regional Park— now has a nearly completed, paved bike trail that runs through its hilly grasslands and wooded areas, linking two neighborhoods that the park bisects.


Local
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Despite cold, snow, city leaf pickup to proceed as planned

JANESVILLE

Despite snowy and freezing weather, the city leaf pickup will go on as scheduled starting Monday, Nov. 11.

Cullen Slapak, parks director, said some leaves already swept from yards to curbsides are now frozen and stuck to the ground because of freezing weather and a rain and snow mix that has come the last several days.

And throughout the city, a fair number of trees haven’t yet begun to drop leaves.

Slapak said despite a later than normal leaf drop for some trees and despite recent cold and snowy weather and an extended forecast that shows continued freezing, the city’s schedule for leaf pickup won’t be affected.

This isn’t the first year snow or freezing weather could hamper fall leaf pickup.

People should continue to rake leaves along the curb for pickup, Slapak said. If the city can’t remove all leaves or if some leaves remain frozen to the ground during scheduled pickup, city street sweeper crews will clean remaining leaves from curbside in the coming spring.

Slapak said anyone unable to rake leaves to the curb in time for street pickup can bag leaves and place them out for pickup the first week of December.

He said that the city’s compost landfill off Black Bridge Road will likely also be open and accepting loads of residents’ leaves until early December.

The city’s leaf pickup begins Monday, Nov. 11, but residents might see leaf vacuum trucks out and about sooner.

The city added a second leaf vacuum truck to its leaf-sucking arsenal this year, Slapak said.

Vacuum trucks supplement the city’s traditional trash trucks with leaf pusher trucks following behind, Slapak said.

The city could add two more leaf vacuum trucks next year. Slapak said it has not yet been determined whether the city will eventually switch to all vacuum trucks for leaf pickup or continue to use them as a supplement.

Loose leaf pickup will go on from Nov. 11 to 22. Bagged yard waste pickup will be held Dec. 2 to 6.

Leaf pickup days are decided based on when leaves historically have fallen, Slapak said.

Things to remember during leaf pickup season:

  • Rake leaves into the gutter but avoid blocking storm drains.
  • Residents on well-traveled streets should rake their leaves as close to their pickup date as possible to avoid cars traveling over leaves.
  • Do not place tree limbs, stumps or other materials in leaf piles.
  • Do not park on dry leaves because a vehicle’s hot exhaust system could start a fire.
  • Cars should not be parked on the street during pickup.
  • Street sweepers will come by for leftover leaves in following days.

Education
‘I miss it’: Meet Jim Shaw, Whitewater’s interim district administrator

WHITEWATER

Jim Shaw doesn’t excel at retirement.

Since he started as a social studies teacher in Waukesha, he has worked in education in Menomonee Falls, Racine, Madison, Milwaukee and the Kettle Moraine School District. He has been a teacher, school psychologist, superintendent, professor and consultant.

He came out of retirement and took a job leading the Racine School District—in 2008.

“I have failed at retirement,” he told The Gazette. “I’m just not good at it.”

Why?

“I love my work. I love public education. I love teaching,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to work with teachers and kids and parents. I miss it.”

His latest post-“retirement” gig is interim district administrator for the Whitewater School District. The school board announced his appointment in a news release Monday.

Shaw, 74, will serve for the rest of this school year, filling in after Mark Elworthy left to become interim superintendent for the St. Francis School District south of Milwaukee.

Whitewater plans to search for a permanent district administrator, but in the meantime, school board President Casey Judd said in the release that district officials are “excited” to have Shaw at the helm.

Shaw’s first day was Tuesday. So far, he said, his experience has been “very positive.” He has met with teachers, students and administrators, toured schools and even accepted a $250 donation for school lunches from Nate Parrish and First Citizens State Bank.

He said the community support in Whitewater has impressed him. Shaw credits community support, as well as “engaged students (and) involved parents,” for earning him recognition as the 2001 Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year.

“I think this is a very solid school district,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for a permanent superintendent.”

Part of Shaw’s agreement with Whitewater allows him to meet the requirements of a previous contractual obligation: helping the Lake Mills School District with its superintendent search.

Shaw, who will commute from Madison, is set to make $613.64 per day while he is performing district duties, according to his contract.

He holds degrees from three Wisconsin universities—Marquette (bachelor’s), UW-Milwaukee (master’s) and UW-Madison (doctorate).

He also was a clinical professor and director of the Wisconsin Idea Executive Ph.D. program at UW-Madison, where he said he was preparing superintendents. They worked on equity, as well as opportunity and achievement gaps.

“The program was on issues of equity and excellence,” he said. “Equity without looking for the highest possible goals is not meaningful.”

Part of what motivated him to return to the superintendent ranks in Racine in 2008 was putting what he learned to the test, he said.

Shaw also brings a school psychology background to a district that just expanded its mental health support services with four additional positions.

Student mental health, he said, is a top priority in public education. He thinks public schools are seeing more children coming in with trauma.

“It’s the reality we deal with today,” he said. “We want all children in our schools, and we have to figure out better ways to assist children who have serious mental health needs.”

Some in the district have also brought up the need for more support services for teachers. Shaw said there’s a teacher shortage across the state, especially in rural districts, and he blamed it partly on reduced compensation for teachers.

“There’s not enough funding to raise salaries significantly,” he said. “But can we provide some kind of incentives when we are recruiting teachers so we get the best possible teachers in the Whitewater School District?”

While he’s still getting acclimated to Whitewater’s district, he said he’s drawing on his previous experiences with these issues.

Shaw said because Wisconsin schools have seen a boost in state funding after previous cuts, the new challenge is how to use that money in the most effective way.

Shaw might have enjoyed his first week, but he knows other challenges are coming.

“It’s very tiring work,” he said. “I don’t have the same energy level that I had then, when I was a younger man, but I still enjoy it.”

“Something is wrong with me,” he said jokingly.


Obituaries and death notices for Nov. 2, 2019

Arleigh D. Aschebrook

Michael P. Guiler

Austin P. “Ozzie” Hughes

Robert Oscar Lee

James R. Nordeng

Judith Joan Richards


Politics
AP
Elizabeth Warren announces $20-trillion Medicare for All proposal

WASHINGTON

Ending her monthslong silence on how to pay for moving the entire nation into a government-run health care system, Elizabeth Warren on Friday laid out a detailed plan that relies on trillions of dollars in new taxes on the rich and corporations, big pay-ins from employers and aggressive cost cutting.

With her proposal, Warren becomes the first of the Democratic candidates to fully describe how a “Medicare for All” plan would be paid for. Her chief rival on the party’s left, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has campaigned in favor of a government-run medical plan for years, has outlined various options for financing but has not committed to one.

Warren argues in her plan that America could do away with private insurance—entirely eliminating premiums, deductibles and co-payments—and move everyone into a single-payer system without sacrificing care and without hiking taxes on the middle class.

“When fully implemented, my approach to Medicare for All would mark one of the greatest federal expansions of middle class wealth in our history,” Warren wrote in a Medium post describing her plan. She vowed the single-payer system could be achieved “without a tax increase on the middle class—and, in fact, without any increase in income taxes at all.”

Warren maintains that a single-payer, Medicare for All system could cover everyone in the U.S. and provide expanded benefits, including long-term care, for roughly what the country is currently slated to spend on health care—about $52 trillion over the course of a decade.

Covering more people with more benefits for the same amount of money would require holding down the amounts paid to doctors and hospitals, limiting doctors to the amount currently paid by Medicare and hospitals to slightly above current Medicare rates.

And even if overall costs do not increase, government spending would surge under the Warren plan to cover the costs currently generated by premiums and out-of-pocket costs for families. The tab to the federal government would be more than $20 trillion over the next decade—roughly a one-third increase in the total federal budget.

Instead of income tax hikes, Warren would cover nearly half that cost by collecting $9.1 trillion in additional taxes from corporations and high-income families over the next 10 years.

The amount would eclipse the wealth tax Warren has earlier proposed to fund such things as student debt relief and free public college. Several liberal economists have already warned the wealth tax might only generate a fraction of the revenue she envisions.

Warren would cover much of the rest of the cost by requiring employers to continue paying, on average, what they currently pay to cover their workers. Instead of paying an insurance company, however, they would pay the government. Their bill would be tallied based on their average spending on employee health insurance over the last few years.

Warren argues the obligation is less onerous than what those employers currently face, as they would be shielded from existing runaway health care price increases. Costs would not rise faster than inflation under her plan.

“We can generate almost half of what we need to cover Medicare for All just by asking employers to pay slightly less than what they are projected to pay today,” Warren wrote.

The new taxes and the payment cuts for doctors and hospitals almost certainly will provide fresh lines of attack for Warren’s opponents as she moves to lock down her place as a front-runner in the final stretch before voting begins in February, starting with the Iowa caucuses.

Warren’s tax proposals include a substantial increase in her wealth tax, aimed largely at billionaires.

A new, annual capital gains tax would be billed to the richest 1% of Americans. Warren called for several trillion dollars of new taxes on financial firms and large corporations. They include rolling back the tax cuts signed into law by President Trump, but also go far beyond that.

Among the new taxes would be one on financial transactions, with levies collected as stocks and bonds are bought and sold. Large financial institutions would pay a new “systemic risk fee.” Corporations would lose trillions of dollars of tax deductions they are currently eligible to claim, and firms that move their profits abroad would be targeted with substantial new levies on the overseas money.

To collect all of this money—and trillions more Warren argues could be collected under current law if tax enforcement were adequate—the senator is arguing for a significant expansion of the Internal Revenue Service.

“The wealthy and their allies in Washington have worked to slash the IRS budget, leaving it without the resources it needs,” Warren wrote. She argued that the “tax gap” in the U.S., the money that is currently owed the IRS but is going unpaid and uncollected, is substantially larger than it is in other wealthy nations, such as the United Kingdom.

Yet most every element of her plan—from expanding the IRS to putting cost controls on health care to vastly expanding taxes on the rich—would be almost certain to face stiff resistance in Congress. The plan would be a historic political lift.

As Warren has with her other plans, she presented this one with a stamp of approval from pedigreed experts in the field. Among those who vetted Warren’s revenue projections were Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.