October 28th, 2015
On Tuesday October 27th, the Jefferson County Courthouse held a county board meeting where the items of the 2016 budget and a zoning dispute were all discussed. Currently there are no adopted changes to the 2016 budget and it stands at around $70 million. All this money will be spent on; general funds, the health department, human services, capital projects, the highway department, the mill department, and debt services. Debt services is when the county pays back money it has borrowed and it plans on using that money for a lot of highway progress, building two satellite facilities, etc. Nobody at the county board meeting commented on the budget, and it is set to be voted on by the board in November.
The other big item that was covered during the meeting was the zoning dispute of the Bittdorfs. Mr. and Mrs. Bittdorf have acres of land down Stony Creek Road in Lake Mills. This road is a quiet dead end road with a few neighbors and about ten houses on it. They own a forty acre area of land but 3.2 acres of that land have three sheds on it that are usually used to store agriculture equipment. However, the Bittdorfs don’t farm. They rent out the rest of the land to farmers. Therefore they want to use these sheds to store construction equipment from their construction business. That would mean that trucks would come up and down that road to pick up equipment for the day’s job. This idea bothers some neighbors as they are afraid of the safety factor considering children live down this road and trucks will be traveling there often. Also, the noise level that might come into play if this gets passed is another concern to these homeowners.
The rezoning request was approved by the town of Lake Mills, approved by the board, but then denied at the committee level. The Bittdorfs are now challenging to have it sent back to the committee level, saying that the committee didn’t have enough information at the time to make a well-rounded decision.
The Bittdorf’s attorney, Tyler Wilkinson spoke on their behalf, explaining that within the A2 section it says that the equipment they are requesting to store there is close enough to meet agriculture standards. The neighbor’s attorney, Jason Smith, explained the danger factor that his clients have and said that connecting a construction business to agriculture is a far stretch.
Thirteen people spoke for or against the matter. There were six that were against the rezoning and seven that were for the rezoning. Afterwards, a discussion amongst board members took place and a vote was made. They voted yes if they wanted to not send it back to the committee for another chance, and they voted no if they wanted to send it back to the committee for another chance. Majority vote was no, and so the vote for rezoning will go back to the committee again.
Other items that were discussed that night:
- An Alcohol Treatment Court- Henry, a man who was on his fifth pending OWI, went through the ten key component program for a year and is now a success story.
- Getting connected through a volunteer website. A speaker from United Way came to talk about a new partnership with Jefferson County and how volunteer opportunities and volunteers are needed. She then presented the website, www.volunteermain.com “Your main source of volunteer opportunities in Jefferson and Whitewater.” You can search volunteer opportunities nearby and use certain filters to find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s also great for kid’s who’re building volunteer resumes.
October 15th, 2015
It was the night of Tuesday October 13th, 2015 and the Democratic Debate was just minutes away from beginning. Pizza boxes were open with every topping possible, and a plethora of sodas lay assorted on the front table for all who dared to grab a drink. It was a moment, a great moment, history in the making even! Alright, so maybe it wasn’t that amazing, but the excitement in the room was quite palpable.
The Democratic Debate was a debate were all five democrat candidates who are running for the presidency were able to talk about and answer questions and concerns most important to the people of this country. Issues that were covered were climate control, gun control, when to use military force, do black lives matter or do all lives matter as well as other exhausted issues like Clinton’s email scandal. This was the first of the democratic debates and it was held at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada and hosted by Anderson Cooper. The two frontrunners for the democratic side are; Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Clinton was a U.S. Senator, Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, and of course our first lady when her husband, Bill Clinton was president. Sanders is a socialist democrat, a populist, and Senator of Vermont. The other three candidates are Martin O’Malley; who was Mayor of Baltimore, and Governor of Maryland, Jim Webb; a Vietnam War Veteran, and Lincoln Chafee; who was Mayor of Warwick, and U.S. Senator, and Governor of Rhode Island. And of course we can’t forget about the wildcard candidate that everyone is talking about right now; Joe Biden. Biden, who is currently our vice president for Obama is in the talks for running as a potential democratic candidate. He currently has about two weeks to make this decision which could change the frontrunners significantly.
O’Malley, isn’t necessarily a frontrunner, but he does know what he’s talking about and one of the answers that he nailed during the final moments of the debate was about the difference between the democratic debate and the republican debate stating, “On this stage you didn’t hear anyone denigrate women, you didn’t hear anyone make racist comments about new immigrants, you didn’t hear anyone speak ill of anyone because of their religious belief, what you heard was an honest debate of what will move us forward, to lead to a clean electric grid by 2050, and employ more of our people, rebuild our cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more people in the economic and social life in our country.” Meanwhile, Webb was busy fighting for his fair share of time up on the podium, but did manage to say, “I don’t think the revolution’s coming.” Which is super reassuring coming from one of our possible presidents. And then there was Chafee who, stumbled remembering his third daughter’s name in his introduction, but tried to pull himself back together by then telling the world that he didn’t know what he was doing in his first vote saying, “Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I had just arrived. My dad had died in office. I was appointed to the office. It was my very first vote–” Cooper had a field day with that one.
In attendance for the UWW College Dem’s Viewing Party were approximately 40 plus students and group members. The room was pretty full so it seemed to be a good turnout for the group. In observing the atmosphere of the party as the debate began, I got the sense that a majority of the students/group members there were for Bernie Sanders. It would come to my attention that every time Sanders was up to speak, the room got quiet and everyone paid close attention. Also, usually whenever he was done speaking people would bang on the tables or clap for him at the party. As far as all the other candidates go whenever they would speak the noise level in the viewing party would get louder, even if it was just by a little bit. And nobody seemed to applaud or react as much to any of their answers as they did to Sanders’ answers. Especially towards the middle of the debate right before we left, the group seemed to be really interested then.
The UWW College Dem’s Chairman, Tim Hankes had no problem voicing his love for Sanders over Clinton from the beginning of the event until the end saying, “It kind of ticked me off. I’m looking for a big change and she’s been in politics forever and yet she is the frontrunner over him.” This proves even more that Sanders is really reaching out to the college aged level with his issues on income inequality, loans, larger role in the government, etc. Two other members from the UWW College Dem’s, Andrea Johnson and Mark Klubertanz, agreed with Hankes saying, “Bernie is for income inequality, women, and color. He is for everyman. And Hillary is mainly all about the women and she changes her plans quite a bit.”
It was almost as if the entire room was for Sanders. Leaving me to believe that Clinton, who was supposed to be this huge frontrunner for the democrats, might not have this win in the bag after all.
October 8th, 2015
On Tuesday October 6th, Whitewater City Manager, Cameron Clapper opened the council meeting with proposing the 2016 budget to the rest of the Common Council. The proposed budget being $9,777,789, has increased 3.12% from the 2015 year.
This proposed budget comes from property tax levy, intergovernmental revenue, interfund transfers, amongst other things. The top three places the money will be going is; general government, public safety and debt service and sinking funds. Some of the highlighted budget changes that Clapper went over were; the 27th payroll, fund 450 to operations, solid waste recycling more toters, local state and federal elections, fire department operational costs (increased operating budget by $94,000,) self-insured retention sinking fund, and the Whitewater Aquatic Center capital funding. And while this budget isn’t final just yet, it will be approved by the entire Common Council later in December.
Clapper had a few words about the changes in the budget saying, “We need to look at ways to fund things, which is always a big issue every year since costs go up and levies stay the same,” he said. “We are bumping up against a ceiling that will require changes to how we fund things if we want to be successful in the future.”
Other mentions Clapper touched on about the budget were how transportation aids are increasing a little over $16,000, how none of the fund balance was applied towards the new budget, and Whitewater’s shared revenue is one of the highest numbers. Some of the issues Clapper mentioned were on the horizon are; Whitewater facility improvements, water utility rate increases, and storm water rate increases.
Right now the budget calendar is showing that Tuesday October 20th the revenues general fund, debt service revenue and expense, administration, parks and recreation facility maintenance, public works and transfer general fund budgets will all be reviewed. One week from then on Tuesday October 27th the council will review other budgets including finance and special revenues. November 3rd will review more budgets, November 17th will allow for revisions and the final budget will be distributed in mid-December.
Other issues that were covered in Tuesday night’s meeting were:
- A water sample that was done recently came out as mostly fluoride. However, our water here in Whitewater doesn’t have fluoride in it, it only appeared that way because the sample taken was actually being injected into the system that was three to four feet away from a fluoride tap at the time. Another big issue that Clapper touched on:
- The sample should always be taken from the water tap reservoir. The assistant city manager was the one to talk on this issue.
- The Whitewater Aquatic Center update
- The aquatic center, which currently operates at breakeven, is in need of an update because their agreement expires December 31st 2016. This agreement is a three way agreement between the school district, the city and the aquatic center board. The proposed change in framework for the center is that the common council and the school board would work together with the parks and recreation board. Underneath the parks and recreation board would be the parks and recreation director and at the bottom of the framework would be the Whitewater aquatic center manager. That means that the aquatic center board would be more there as a support system than a working force in this process.
- Appointing a new downtown Whitewater director
- Downtown Whitewater has come a long way in the past ten years and they want to keep moving forward with the next ten years. So, the process of finding the right fit for the new downtown Whitewater director is underway and will go until around February or later. There will be a board put together to help appoint the new director and the process will be slow so they find the right person for the job.
- Proposing for two main towing companies
- The assistant city manager proposed to have one main towing company and one secondary towing company in case the first one is busy. The main company would be Fero’s Automotive and the secondary company would be Mill’s automotive.
May 3rd, 2015
At the end of April, ESPN announced exciting news that it would be introducing a huge re-design to all of its online versions. The last time these web versions were updated for readers was back in 2009, and ESPN thinks that it’s time to have a newer and better web experience for its users. The old 2009 version included a complete desktop version of the ESPN website, and a complete mobile version of the ESPN website. This new 2015 update however, will be responsive. A responsive design is one that can figure out what type of screen a viewer is reading on, and change the website in order to fit that screen accordingly. That means ESPN’s usual three column view on the desktop version will shrink down to a one column view on the mobile version.
ESPN is not the only webpage that is going through this type of update, as many websites are becoming responsive these days. However, there are still some that have not made the change over yet and with ESPN being a big name out there, they hope to set a path for other companies, especially those in Disney. Disney is desperately attempting to make this jump to mobile, and so they hope that success comes from this ESPN adventure. Now, the only thing left for ESPN to do is to attract its viewers with this new change and they’re hoping that won’t be that hard to do.
ESPN Head of Product, Ryan Spoon said, “The benefits of adding more personalization and a more unified experience will outweigh the otherwise dramatic changes to the way its web presence feels. ESPN has also religiously tested the new user experience.”
April 29th, 2015
April 26th, 2015
This week we talked about how tweeting publicly on Twitter can help your newsroom gain traffic with its readers, however what about when you want to take that public conversation and make it a little more private? Twitter is now making that an easy option for all users by changing their direct messaging in order for Twitter users to be able to talk with anyone in a more private message setting.
Now, direct messaging was involved on Twitter before, but new changes include the following:
1. A brand new direct messaging button that will appear on the Twitter profile pages of who you want to message. This new button will be for iPhones and Androids.
2. You may now reply back to any direct Twitter message whether or not that person is a follower of yours.
3. A new setting that will let users receive direct messages from followers or non followers of theirs.
These new direct messaging rules and updates were all activated on Monday, April 20th 2015.
April 20th, 2015
An article on Adweek.com this past week spotlights a few select brands and how they are doing well with gaining traffic using Google+. The article makes it clear that if brands want to “connect with consumers, build traffic, and benefit from SEO,” then Google+ is the ideal way to do it.
The four brands that are spotlighted are:
4. Christian Dior
Each brand uses a different technique to bring in traffic and attract consumers to their content. For Cadbury it is their visuals. They use stunning images and videos that grasp the readers attention and make them want to share the content with their friends. ESPN on the other hand uses emotion in their content to connect with the reader and allow them to laugh when they should laugh and feel touched when they should feel touched by a story. Destinology, a brand known for travel, now allows users to participate in virtual tours through google maps. Each user can then review, like or share the virtual tour with others. Finally, Christian Dior is using Google+ to give out special exclusives to its viewers. If you want behind the scenes, then Dior has behind the scenes. If you want special footage, then Dior has special footage.
All four of these brands are succeeding because they are doing exactly what our readings were telling us about. Adweek’s article also recaps what other businesses can learn from the above brand’s successes:
-Be more personal with your content.
-You want to focus on SEO? Well Google+ benefits SEO big time!
-Follow in Christian Dior’s footsteps and offer exclusives.
-Your users love to be entertained so offer as many stimulating visuals as you can!
-And last but not least, know your audience, know your audience, know your audience.
April 13th, 2015
HudsonMOD, a luxury magazine, recently decided to make its instagram account private due to the situation going on with its photographers and freelance writers. According to journalist, Terry Ward, many of HudsonMOD’s workers are having “collection issues” with the magazine and are demanding their money in a very unique way; through the comments section of the magazine’s instagram account. One photographer who got paid in full for his first job with the magazine, was then never paid for his second.
Now, after all the comments are flowing in on the magazine’s instagram account asking for the money they’re owed, HudsonMOD publisher, Shannon Steitz, has announced that at the request of her lawyers, she will be accepting a non-paid position due to the fact that these writers and photographers are attempting everything they can to get their money from her. Nothing else further has been heard on this story.
I find it quite intelligent that these workers knew to go to the comments section in order to get this publisher’s attention. Comments are read by the company and would have been seen by anyone who went on that instagram page before it got switched to private. It was a sneaky but smart move.
April 6th, 2015
Photojournalist Ben Canales wrote an article for a magazine called Backpacker a couple of years ago when the magazine had asked for some material of Canales’ to be featured. Canales agreed and gave them the above image to use in their magazine. This past Friday the magazine brought the image into its magazine again to re-promote it, however Canales pointed out over the weekend that there is one minor mistake in this photo; they added the silhouette of the dog. In the original image the yellow glowing camping tent is left empty with no one and nothing appearing inside, but Backpacker’s image had this added dog silhouette as he sat alone camping by himself. “Who the hell added that dog silhouette?” asked Canales. The assumption was that an intern published the picture before letting another editor look it over for mistakes. When asked about it the magazine’s digital editor replied, “I asked an intern to re-promote the article on Friday and he mistakenly used an incorrect version of the image sourced from the web.”
I thought this went along kind of well with what we referenced in class this week because if Backpacker magazine didn’t fix their mistake couldn’t Canales have sued them for tampering with his work or putting up the incorrect image in their magazine spread and putting his name by it? Just a thought.