Officials at the Oconomowoc YMCA are taking over executive leadership of the YMCA of Northern Rock County under an agreement the Y says will last three months and possibly longer.
Steve Yeko Jr., YMCA of Northern Rock County Board president, said in a statement released to media and Y members Friday afternoon that the Y is bringing in “interim” leadership from the YMCA at Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc to review Janesville operations and find areas of improvement.
The agreement takes effect Monday and will last three months “with an option to extend the engagement as appropriate,” Yeko wrote in the statement.
“Our YMCA is currently in a period of transition,” Yeko said in the statement. “Bringing in people from outside of our community can provide a fresh perspective and unbiased view of what steps we need to take to make our YMCA the best we can be.”
The move comes after the Y board’s announcement earlier this week that longtime CEO Tom Den Boer was leaving.
The Y has been in upheaval for weeks amid concerns by some members that its leadership lacks transparency in its governance and finances. Members also alleged Den Boer and a former board president had removed board members and paying members without due process after they questioned the leadership and sought documents.
The Y board in January launched an internal investigation over the concerns. Early this year, it had faced threats of a lawsuit by members who said the board had wrongfully denied them access to financial and governance records.
Yeko, Y leaders and the Y’s public relations firm have not publicly given any reasons behind Den Boer’s departure. Den Boer had been on paid administrative leave for weeks during an investigation the board was carrying out with a hired law firm.
On Friday, Yeko wrote that the Pabst Farms Y staff will “work closely” with Janesville’s management team. He said Angie Bolson, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Pabst Farms Y, will provide most of the leadership and guidance at the Janesville Y during the “interim” period.
Yeko wrote that Jon Lange, chief executive officer at the Pabst Farms Y, “will also work closely with our staff, our members and our community to help our YMCA succeed.”
Lange told The Gazette on Friday that the YMCA of the USA’s Wisconsin resource director, Jon Agnew, asked the Pabst Farms Y if it would be willing to help provide interim leadership and help with an assessment of the YMCA of Northern Rock County’s operations, finances and governance.
He said the YMCA of Northern Rock County Board approved the move.
Lange, who has worked for the YMCA for 35 years, said it’s “very common” for regional YMCAs to provide interim leadership, guidance and back-office support to nearby Ys when CEOs retire or depart.
Under the agreement, Lange said, Agnew will work with the Y board to cross-check its governance, and Lange and Bolson will provide guidance and assessment for the Y’s operating side.
Lange said during the transition, the Y board will maintain local oversight of the Y, and the Y’s local management team will maintain control of day-to-day operations.
Peter Daluge didn’t expect to get much money from a federal program intended to help farmers affected by tariffs—but he thought he would get more than $1.
Daluge, who operates a 140-cow dairy farm and raises 170 acres of corn and alfalfa south of Janesville, called the $1 payment “somewhat shocking.” He still has a copy of the statement.
The money came from the federal market facilitation program, which allocated $12 billion to American farmers struggling because of increased tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. The U.S. has been mired in a trade war with China for more than a year.
The trade war has exacerbated weak markets for many agricultural commodities. Farmers already were dealing with low prices and oversupply even before retaliatory tariffs took effect.
The $1 payment in October was intended for Daluge’s crops. The family also received a $1,985 payment for the dairy side of the farm.
A second round of payments in December brought the total to about $4,000.
The Daluges lose roughly $4,000 each month on milk production, so the money didn’t stretch far. Peter and his daughters, Megan Daluge and Erin Grawe, are trying to keep a positive outlook.
“You can laugh or you can cry, and we prefer to laugh. I farmed for 40 years myself, and I’ve seen low milk prices. I’ve seen high milk prices,” Peter said. “It’s just the way the market is … although this stretch has been a long stretch of low milk prices, longer than normal.”
Wisconsin farms received about $10 million under the federal program’s first level of payments. Data from the Environmental Working Group show 11 state farms received more than $50,000, including a payment of more than $80,000 to a Kewaunee County dairy.
More than 200 farms received less than $100.
Because most of the family’s 170 acres of crops are used as animal feed, only a tiny portion of what was grown was eligible for tariff relief money—hence the $1 check, Peter said.
The payment was the smallest in the state, according to the data.
“We just kind of laughed about the $1,” Peter said from inside a modest farm office. “Who would’ve known we’d be the lowest-paid in the state? That’s kind of ...”
“First for something,” Erin said.
“Yeah, we got first in something,” Peter continued.
The number of Wisconsin dairy farms has dwindled over the past several decades. Cows and bull calves sell for a fraction of what they once did, making it tough to even leave the industry, Peter said.
He suggested a quota system could help control the supply of milk, where surplus production would net a lower price at market. That idea likely wouldn’t be popular with some farmers, he said.
The family has no plans to close the farm, but family members admit worrying they might be forced to someday. They love milking cows, and Erin and Megan want their future kids to grow up on the farm.
Their children would be the sixth generation to do so.
To compensate for changes in agriculture, Megan and Erin plan to make the farm an agritourism hub. Local schools will visit in spring for field trips, and the family will host summer camps for kids interested in hands-on work. They also will offer private tours for all ages.
Erin said the family will continue to apply for different farm subsidy programs despite the disappointing returns. If farmers stop applying, the government might stop offering the assistance, she said.
As Peter puts it, the money is “better than a poke in the eye.”
His pragmatic mindset has helped the family remain unflappable.
“Nothing really seems to ruffle his feathers,” Megan said of her father. “He’s always a pretty level-headed, logical thinker. Always thinking ahead for the next step.
“We could sit here and be depressed and complain about getting $1, but instead we’re going to say, ‘We’re going to keep going. We’re going to do what we can to keep this farm going.’”
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The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court.
The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers and require stricter financial separation.
Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options. However, that would no longer be required.
The move, decried by women’s groups and praised by religious conservatives, is the latest in a series of Trump administration efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health. But it could be some time before women served by the federal family program feel the full impact.
Women’s groups, organizations representing the clinics and Democratic-led states are expected to sue to block the policy from going into effect. Administration officials told abortion opponents on a call Friday that they expect legal action, according to a participant.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.
Planned Parenthood, whose affiliates are major providers of family planning services as well as abortions, said the administration is trying to impose a “gag rule,” and launched a full campaign to block it. Congressional supporters of the organization said it receives about $60 million a year from the federal program.
“I want our patients to know this—we will fight through every avenue so this illegal, unethical rule never goes into effect,” said Planned Parenthood’s president, Dr. Leana Wen.
She said the new policy would prevent doctors from referring women for abortions “even if your life depended on it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared: “Republicans must end their relentless assault on women’s health care and rights.”
It’s a gag rule “for all intents and purposes,” said the American Medical Association.
“The patient-physician relationship relies on trust, open conversation and informed decision making and the government should not be telling physicians what they can and cannot say to their patients,” the AMA said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood and other groups representing the clinics say the new requirements for physical separation of facilities would be costly and all but impossible to fulfill. Planned Parenthood said the administration is making another attempt to drive it out of business after efforts to deny funding failed in Congress.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway scoffed at that argument. “They’ve been saying for years they don’t commingle their funds, so this should be easy for them,” she told reporters at the White House. “Physically separate and financially separate.”
Religious conservatives see the administration’s action as a way to break down what they call an indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortion providers.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called it “a major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers’ forced partnership with the abortion industry.”
The regulation was published Friday on an HHS website. It’s not official until it appears in the Federal Register, and the department said there could be “minor editorial changes.” A department official confirmed it was the final version.
Known as Title X, the family-planning program serves about 4 million women annually through independent clinics, many operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates, which serve about 40 percent of all clients. The grant program costs taxpayers about $260 million a year.
Leaders of health associations representing black and Latino health care providers and patients joined Wen at a news briefing to decry the new rule. They said women from their communities make up more than half the beneficiaries of Title X grants and would be disproportionately harmed by the changes.
But abortion opponent Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said the administration rule “does not cut family planning funding by a single dime, and instead directs tax dollars to entities that provide health care to women but do not perform abortions.” Her organization is a political advocacy group that backs anti-abortion candidates.
An umbrella group that represents family planning clinics broadly, not only those affiliated with Planned Parenthood, said the administration was acting based on ideology and not in the best interests of patients.
“This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the health care they need,” Clare Coleman, head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.
Although abortion remains politically divisive, the U.S. abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 in 2014. Better contraception, fewer unintended pregnancies and state restrictions may have played a role, according to a recent scientific report. Polls show most Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
The Trump administration’s policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled it was an appropriate use of executive power.
The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule took effect requiring “nondirective” counseling to include a full range of options for women.
The Trump administration is now rolling back the Clinton requirement that abortion be discussed as an option along with prenatal care and adoption.