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May 14, 201411:24 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Nature calls on a Madison backyard

(page 1 of 2)

After one of the cruelest winters I can remember, this has been a joyous (if belated) spring. Visiting the Blaska Experimental Work Farm this week were new visitors: a bright blue indigo bunting and three rose-breasted grosbeaks (two of them male). All are related to our over-wintering and sweet-singing cardinals.

Must be the sunflower seed in the feeders, which replaced the safflower seed. The goldfinches are back, too. They take the Niger seed. 

Our house cat, Young Bluster, on Tuesday alone took a baby bunny and a chipmunk. These are cute creatures but, heaven forfend, Orchard Ridge is overrun with these two species! If they’d just leave the tulips alone!

Their survival strategy is to multiply; mine is to subtract. They are why hawks circle overhead; one even perched on our fence line a week ago for the longest time. Our kitty cat is the successor to the much-loved Mr. Bluster (a snorter and explorer of cardboard boxes, RIP). Our game keepers are sensitive to songbird predation and Young Bluster leaves them be. Indeed, he seems not to stray beyond the perimeter of the premises.

Nor did he trouble a tiny creature the chief game warden spotted clambering through the lawn — it must have seemed like a forest. The tiny painted turtle must have just emerged from his in-ground gestation; he already knows how to right himself if turned upside down. Number One Son and I carried him to the nearby pond, which seemed like a more conducive environment. Who knows? Perhaps it has been devoured by a predator less choosy than Young Bluster.

Last year about this time, we found turtle egg shells (they’re soft) and an empty hole on the Blaska Memorial Walkway — a raccoon’s breakfast. I guess turtle moms can’t sit on their eggs — they would crush their progeny — so they bury them and wait for old Sol to do the work. The white coats here at the Policy Werkes are fascinated by turtles, elephants, the great apes, and octopuses. 

Now if I could just stop Worm Boy, our returning (and regular) robin, from relieving itself all over my little red car. He likes to see himself in the mirrors, so I cover them with plastic drugstore bags secured by rubber bands. It’s been a good year for worms, apparently.

Mary Burke’s teachers union quid pro trek

Madison Teachers Inc. was among the first to endorse Mary Burke for governor. (Recounted here.) No doubt the union will contribute money and manpower to elect her. MTI retains one of the few collective bargaining agreements for government employees remaining in the wake of Walker’s Act 10.

MTI’s contract has already been extended through the next school year; now MTI wants more. (But don’t they always?)


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
May 14, 2014 12:47 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Is it too much to expect even a little context on this organ? Mary Burke didn't just support Madison Prep, she pledged $2.5 million to help pay for it! She didn't just tap out a few blogs about education, she put up her time and cash. She sold her old house to pay for AVID/TOPS, a runaway success. And don't forget that the Madison teachers union fought against her school board candidacy because of her advocacy of these innovative solutions. Do you follow the school board in your town, Mr. B? If you did, you might note that there's no love lost between it and Burke.

May 14, 2014 02:26 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Mary Burke voted no on Madison Prep. The teachers union then gave Our Ms. Burke some of that endorsement love for governor. Quid, meet pro quo. Hope you follow the school board in your town better than in mine.

May 14, 2014 04:10 pm
 Posted by  Leo

I knew Mr. Bluster and I can tell you that so called 'young bluster' has a long ways to go to measure up to the namesake.

As for Our Ms. Burke, she has never met a union give away she didn't like. I'm quite sure she is already assembling the surrender strategy for the Madison School Board when it comes
to the upcoming "negotiations" with MTI.

First shot will come from taxpayer wallets stuffed into the MMSD
cannon and fired over toward the union troops. And then Ms. Burke
will whine about how hard it was to give all that taxpayer money
over and how they really had no choice.

May 14, 2014 10:02 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

We elect school boards to represent us, the taxpayers, in the everyday business of the schools. They are not there to get buddy-buddy with the teacher's union. They are the board of directors, whose job it is to make sure our schools are not being run by the union and that our investment gives us a payoff. Mary Burke should be ashamed over her tenure on the Madison school board. She would make a very poor governor. And the editorial board at the non-Capital Times is off the chart delusional on the scrutiny of the governor. Does anyone have a count of the number of articles in which they have scrutinized the governor? Their editorial board has not faced enough time with their shrink.

Dave, not B

May 15, 2014 09:04 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The vote for Madison Prep was in December of 2011. Remember?

Mary Burke was elected to the Madison School Board in the spring of 2012. Remember?

So she could not have voted "NO" on Madison Prep. Instead, she pledged $2.5 million of her own money to the project. In addition, she funded a position at the Urban League to research and advance the proposal.

May 15, 2014 09:28 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

I do stand corrected. And I was present for that meeting!

May 15, 2014 10:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

You may stand corrected, but your post remains inaccurate, not to mention insulting to one of Madison Prep's biggest backers. Burke put her money and her name behind the project. For that, she gets no credit from the GOP mud flinging campaign. If your guy Scott Walker has done as good a job as you claim he has, then he can beat relatively unknown and untested Mary Burke on the merits, straight-up and without prejudice. So why are you so tempted to make stuff up to degrade her campaign? Is it "mindless hate"?

May 15, 2014 10:48 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Are you telling us that Mary Burke will vote against the union that endorsed her? I asked the question — what is your answer?

She did vote against a budget increasing school spending by $16 million and property taxes by 3.4% last August. But as Wisconsin State Journal reporter Matthew DeFour reported at the time, “Burke didn’t respond to a follow-up question about what she wanted done differently.Not until November, after she announced her candidacy for governor, did she give a reason. Not enough of that extra money went to the teachers union, she explained.

If you are so proud of Mary Burke why do you hide behind a pseudonym?

May 15, 2014 10:55 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I would sooner vote for the turtle than I would for Mary Burke.

May 15, 2014 11:16 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

"Not enough... went to the teachers union, she explained." That's not a quote. It's fabricated and also inaccurate. What she actually said can be found here:

We all understand that you're about blasting away with both barrels (even when you do so under a photo of a cute turtle), but you got this one wrong.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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