Green Bay possible host for WIAA state basketball tournaments

Potential good news for the Green Bay area.

Madison’s place as host to the WIAA state basketball tournaments has outlasted The Great Depression, World War II and the disco era, but it might not survive growing pressure to reserve the Kohl Center for University of Wisconsin sports during March.

WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said Friday the state’s governing body for high school sports is actively seeking a new home for its state boys and girls basketball tournaments, as early as 2012-13.

After holding the boys tournament in Madison for 91 of the past 92 years, that might mean taking both tournaments to Green Bay or Milwaukee.

Anderson told the WIAA Board of Control that PMI Entertainment Group, which represents the Resch Center in Green Bay, has made an official offer to host the tournaments beginning in 2014. He said the WIAA also has inquired about the availability of the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee to host the state tournaments for the two sports that are the WIAA’s biggest moneymakers.

It’s all but a given that beginning in 2014 both tournaments will need a new home.

“We have reached out to other venues, knowing that we’re certainly going to need a home for our tournaments by 2014,” said Anderson, whose association is under contract with UW to hold the state basketball tournaments on the Madison campus through 2013 but has been told that conflicts could force both tournaments to be moved from the Kohl Center.

“It’s a given. Whether that home is a facility in Madison, a facility in Milwaukee or a facility in Green Bay. We’re limited.”

So just what are the conflicts that are causing the WIAA to look at alternative sites?  One is the new Big Ten Hockey conference.

The long-term conflicts include the dynamics of the Big Ten men’s hockey conference, which debuts during the 2013-14 season.

The conference announced in June it will use a two-week postseason format that begins with the four lowest seeds meeting in a best-of-three series at the home of the highest seed. The winners will advance to face the top two seeds at the home of the No. 1 seed the next week.

The economic benefits in Green Bay could be huge if the tournaments were hosted here.

The 12 WIAA state tournaments held on the UW campus have an estimated economic impact of $10 million on the city of Madison and Dane County, according to Greater Madison Visitor and Convention Bureau figures. Boys and girls basketball, which bring in more than $3 million of the WIAA’s $6 million in annual revenue, account for most of that.

Were you disappointed when the WIAA moved the boys sectional tournaments from Green Bay?  If so start letting them know that you want the state tournaments to be held here.

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Facts on School Choice Green Bay

On May 17 the intention to expand School Choice to Green Bay was announced.  Not surprisingly when opponents of the program voiced their opposition.  Unfortunately this opposition is “straw man” in nature as pointed out in this response by School Choice Wisconsin.

First when looking at the Milwaukee School Choice Program:

• Graduation rates, a far better predictor of future success than test scores, have improved for students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and for students in Milwaukee Public Schools. MPCP students who stay in private schools graduate at the rate of 94 percent, compared to 75 percent for MPS students.
• State and local taxpayers pay less for a student in the MPCP than for a student in MPS. That would be true for school choice programs in Green Bay and Racine as well. Taxpayers pay less because support for an MPCP student is $6,442 while state and property taxpayer support for an MPS student is about $10,000.
• People who live in Milwaukee say the program is successful by a 2:1 margin.  They want more families to be able to participate, according to a recent poll.

Second DPI Superintendent Tony Evers attempted to use selective data from a longitudal study to falsely claim that School Choice in Milwaukee is failing.  Here’s what the study found according to the year four summary:

Although we have examined virtually every possible way that school choice could systematically affect people, schools, and neighborhoods in Milwaukee, we have found no evidence of any harmful effects of choice. Our major findings to date are:
• The MPCP remains popular among Milwaukee families, as evidenced by consistent and at times dramatic growth in MPCP enrollments over the past 12 years.
• The Choice program saves the government money — nearly $52 million in fiscal year 2011 — although not all types of Wisconsin taxpayers benefit from the
savings.
• Both the MPCP and the MPS have succeeded in denying public funds to, or closing, a substantial number of low-performing schools over the past four years.
• Attending a private high school through the MPCP increases the likelihood of a student graduating from high school and enrolling in college.
• Students in the MPCP appear to be performing at lower levels than MPS students in the younger grades but somewhat higher levels than MPS students in the older grades. When similar MPCP and MPS students are tracked carefully over time,
however, their rates of achievement growth are statistically similar after three years.
• MPS students themselves are performing at somewhat higher levels as a result of
competitive pressure from the school voucher program.

Another falsehood put forth by opponents of School Choice is in the area of serving special needs students.  As School Choice Wisconsin points out:

The SCDP reports that 8.7 percent of MPCP families said their child had a learning disability compared to 18.2 percent in MPS. The study said their findings “indicated that MPCP school personnel are less likely to identify slow learners specifically as ‘learning
disabled’ than are MPS school personnel. It is possible that some or even all of this large
difference in the reported rates of learning disabled students across the two groups is due to this difference in labeling practices and not necessarily because MPCP schools are serving fewer learning disabled students. There is very little difference in opinions between public and choice school parents regarding how well the school meets their
children’s needs regarding learning disabilities…”

Special needs students are identified differently in private and public schools. Private school students are given Service Plans while public school students receive Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). It is inaccurate to compare the percentage of special needs students in private and public schools by comparing the percentage of students with IEPs.

The biggest falsehood put forth by opponents of school choice and one that has been echoed by Green Bay Superintendent Greg Maas is that the program is an attack on public schools.  In reality the program provides parents with an option when it comes to their child’s education.

And it’s an option that costs taxpayers less in the long run.  Which is why it should be an option for parents in the Green Bay School District.

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Recall Dave Hansen update

A couple of updates on the effort to recall Dave Hansen in the 30th Senate District.  As you may have been aware there were in recent weeks two separate efforts taking place to recall Runaway Dave.  The plan is for the two groups to work together and combine signatures.

Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald spoke Saturday with David VanderLeest, a local activist in charge of the Recall (Sen.) Dave Hansen committee, about combining efforts with the Committee to Recall Hansen and eventually turn in their petitions together. Fitzgerald was in town that day for a rally to recall Hansen, D-Green Bay, near Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“(Fitzgerald) agreed that the Committee to Recall Dave Hansen is going to join with the original recall group, which is mine, before April 26, which is my filing deadline,” VanderLeest said Tuesday.

Republicans in Madison were initially behind the Committee to Recall Hansen, and around March 15, they asked individuals working with VanderLeest to branch off and join their cause. The group officially filed with the GAB on March 16. That created some confusion around town about the duplicate efforts.

VanderLeest had been working on collecting signatures since filing with the GAB on Feb. 25.

“It wasn’t really my decision to do that. It was more of a Madison decision. They wanted to have a second group for back up,” said Chad Fradette, listed as the group’s treasurer. “I don’t know what the intention was because I didn’t pull the trigger but my intention the entire time was to combine back with David.

“The party is now on board with the idea.”

That combined effort is now very close to having the required number of signatures after a surprising release of the total this afternoon.

After combining signatures and adding up the total, we are at 12,973. We need 13,851. Victory is a reality with 19 days to go.

The “Recall Senator Dave Hansen” Facebook page also points out how this has been a true grassroots effort.

“Recall Dave Hansen” spent under $1500 to date. This is an average expense of 8.64 cents a signature.

The recall for Republican Senator Robert Crowles spent $57,301 dollar as of their 30 day finance report. The group needs 15,960 signatures to succeed. If the group succeeds with out spending any more money, they will average $3.59 a signature upon success.

If you have completed petitions, want to sign a petition or pick up petitions to go out and collect more signatures be sure to stop by the “Recall Dave Hansen” headquarters at 1136 West Mason St. Green Bay between 8 am and dusk.

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Tremendous success

The “true” grassroots effort to recall State Senator Dave Hansen is seeing tremendous success.  Since the kick-off event back on Saturday, February 26 numerous residents of the 30th Senate District have signed the petition.  In addition many people have picked up or downloaded the petition to have their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers sign.

The “Recall Dave Hansen” headquarters opened last week at 1136 W. Mason St and has seen a steady stream of petition signers.  According to recall organizer David VanderLeest over 300 signatures were gathered yesterday (3/21) alone.  In addition the signature “blitz” event held Saturday saw overwhelming success as well.

Before the last of the recall Hansen signs were even taped up Saturday morning, people began showing up to Perkins Park in Green Bay, eager to sign the recall petition. “I’m a Vietnam vet and needless to say he’s saying he’s speaking for me, that’s not right, plus he deserts his, goes to Illinois, that’s just not the way it’s supposed to be done,” says Tom Christensen, who signed a petition. “There’s a lot of people I’m sure that are thinking the same way we are.”

What’s being seen in the 30th Senate District is that people are frustrated.  That happens when your state Senator flees the state and speaks only for the unions.

Bramschreiber says he’s tired of Senator Hansen fighting for unions and he believes the majority of District 30 is too. “They certainly don’t speak for me when they say the citizens of Wisconsin want collective bargaining to continue,” adds Bramschreiber.

It’s not the only theme heard.

Another common theme heard during the day was “Mr. Hansen needs to hear our voices too.” It’s a theme heard on a daily basis at the recently opened “Recall Hansen” headquarters at 1136 W. Mason St. when people stop in to sign the petition & take copies to circulate throughout the district. It’s another sign that numerous constituents of Senator Hansen feel unrepresented when the job of an elected official is to represent all constituents.

Want to help in the recall effort?  Check out the information in the sidebar.  Or just go to Recall Dave Hansen.  Or stop by the headquarters at 1136 W. Mason St. in Green Bay which is open from 8 am until dark.

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