HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It is coming down to the wire. Since avoiding the government shutdown, a "super committee" has been formed to deal with the budget. Named the Murray-Ryan Budget Conference Committee, after Senate Budget Chair, Patty Murray, Democrat, Washington State, and Wisconsin's Congressional Representative, Paul Ryan, The group was formed as part of the deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Murray and Ryan kicked off talks over breakfast this past Thursday morning.

Here’s what you need to know about the group, which the country will have a close eye on during the next couple of months:
1. It has 29 members. The bipartisan, bicameral group includes the entire Senate Budget Committee, as well as four House Republicans and three House Democrats. Here’s the full list:

House Republicans:
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.)
Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.)
House Democrats:
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)
Senate Republicans:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)
Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)
From Senate Democratic Caucus:
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.)
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.)
Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Angus King (Maine)
2. Nine of the Republicans voted against Wednesday's deficit reduction deal compromise, including Ryan. Of that deal the co-chairs of the bipartisan special joint committee said in a statement that "after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline."

Not everybody on the committee supported Wednesday’s compromise. Ryan’s vote was the most interesting. He bucked his leadership allies to vote “no.” There are a couple of plausible reasons for his decision.
One is the weight he carries among House conservatives. They are very loyal to Ryan, and by standing with them on the vote, Ryan didn’t sacrifice any of his credibility. Instead, headed into the talks, he telegraphed a sort of I’ve-got-your-back message. Second, he’s the lead negotiator in this group. Stepping into talks fresh off voting for a bill that was tough for many Republicans to swallow, they weren't exactly coming from a position of strength.
The other eight Republicans who voted against the bill were Price, Black, Sessions, Grassley, Enzi, Crapo, Toomey, and Johnson.
This group is worth keeping in mind because they are the most conservative members of the panel. To take the pulse of how conservatives feel about emerging deals or sticking points, listen to what these lawmakers are saying.
3. Policy-wise, there is a lot of daylight between Murray and Ryan right now. Murray summed it up this way Thursday morning: “Chairman Ryan knows I’m not going to vote for his budget. I know that he’s not going to vote for mine. We’re going to find the two common — the common ground between our two budgets that we both can vote on. And that’s our goal.”
4. Get used to hearing “sequester,” “entitlements” and “revenues” a lot. A big part of the talks will be deciding what to do about the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Democrats don’t like them and Republicans like Ryan say there is a better way to cut spending. So how to replace them? Well, that’s where we are going to see disagreements. Look for Republicans to call for replacement cuts in entitlements spending. Democrats might be able to accept such cuts, but under that scenario would probably push for new tax revenue to offset them. Republicans won’t like this idea. This much we know: With a new round of sequester cuts set to kick in early next year, the clock is ticking.
5. It’s a “supercommittee” reunion of sorts. Murray, Van Hollen, Portman and Clyburn were all part of the 2011 deficit-reduction “supercommittee” that failed to reach an agreement. Will things turn out differently? Murray thinks so.
“The supercommittee goals were much broader, much larger. We have a challenge that’s been handed us to have a reconciliation between the Senate budget and the House budget, and those issues are all on the table. We’ll be talking about all of them. And our job is to make sure that we have put forward a spending cap and a budget path for this Congress in the next year or two or further if we can,” she said Thursday.

To my way of thinking, here are very few members of this committee who have any concern about poor and middle class Americans. However, the one strong voice on our behalf is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Today, Senator Sanders put out a plea for all of us to make our voices heard by this "super committee". In an e mail Sanders states:

They’re at it again.

Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Pete Peterson, Stanley Druckenmiller and others are leading the charge to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

If they succeed, millions of senior citizens, working families, disabled veterans and children will suffer. We must not allow that to happen.

Today, the middle class is disappearing, real unemployment is extremely high, poverty is increasing and working families throughout the country are struggling to keep their heads above water economically. Meanwhile, the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider and the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well.


As Vermont’s senator, I have the honor of serving on the Budget Conference Committee which will be negotiating a new federal budget over the next few months -- and where I am fearful that a deal could be struck to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, please stand with me and our coalition partners in demanding; “No grand bargain in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Let’s be clear. Despite right-wing rhetoric:

Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible person for the next 20 years.

Social Security has not contributed to the deficit. Social Security is funded independently by FICA taxes which are paid by workers and their employers.

The so-called chained-CPI, which recalculates how COLA’s are formulated, is not a “modest tweak.”
If the chained CPI went into effect today, a senior aged 65 would receive $658 a year less in Social Security benefits when he/she is 75, and $1,100 a year less at age 85. Further, the average disabled veteran would lose tens of thousands of dollars in benefits over his/her lifetime.

Please stand with me today and demand that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

When one out of four U.S. corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes; when Bush’s tax breaks for the rich remain in place for many wealthy Americans; when the U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, there are much fairer and economically sound ways to address the budget than cutting programs desperately needed by the most vulnerable people in our country.

Please stand with me and our coalition partners in protecting the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Let’s go forward together. Thanks for your continued support.

Senator Bernie Sanders

It is truly imperative for each of us to contact each and every representative and senator listed above. You can do this by going to this link:


Don't wait! There is only a short time to make our position known!


Thursday, October 24, 2013


People that are frustrated trying to use the federal web site should know that they can also use the various state web sites as well as insurance brokers.

And something I wasn’t aware of, even if they qualify for and will get the federal subsidy, they can use the state web sites or insurance brokers. (I thought they had to use the fed site in that case…..)

I just spoke w/ a broker/friend who is able to enroll people……….and the advantage to using a broker is that they can help/advise/provide information about different policy options, whereas the “facilitators” (those that get certified for health care reform) cannot give any advice, they can only help people enroll.

You may have heard, or will hear (new talking point by Fox News and the Republicans) that “300,000 people in Florida are losing their health insurance due to Obamacare”. This is flat wrong!!! What is happening is that many employers that don’t want to spend the money to provide quality health insurance to their employees, enroll employees in what are called “limited medical reimbursement plans” (also called mini-meds). Similar to Aflac plans, they just pay a limited amount for each procedure an enrollee has. Legally they are not major medical insurance and don’t comply with insurance standards.

Example---they might pay $60 for a Dr. office visit…….which leaves the balance of the cost to be paid by the enrollee. Not too bad for a simple office visit, but for anything more complicated requiring lab work, pathology, hospital stay, surgery and the like, the amount paid by the employer is very minimal and the enrollee is left with huge bills.

These type of plans DO NOT QUALIFY as options you can buy to satisfy the health insurance requirement under health care reform, so if a person has one, they will still have to buy a qualified plan. That is why people and companies are cancelling them. Most of the people on these plans also have pre-existing conditions and can’t get coverage anywhere else which is why they enroll in them. Under health care reform, since there are no longer pre-existing condition limitations, these people will be able to get real insurance.

So they aren’t losing insurance due to Obamacare, they are dropping employers "limited medical reimbursement plans" because they can now get better plans under Obamacare.

Kirk Roebuck
Summa Health System

Just an aside regarding the ACA and health care reform……………….the problem with trying to educate people on it, especially the loons that watch FOX and follow the Republican talking points, is that they believe the lies and don’t want to listen to the rational answers, especially when the answer isn’t simply a 2 or 3 word sound bite.

Add to that that most people don’t even understand their own health insurance and want to be “hand held” whenever they have claims or need to use it. That has always been a big issue…..people need to understand their policies and actively participate in their health insurance……they need to be “smart consumers” of health care. That is a big change from the old days when most, if not all plans were basically a $100 deductible with the plan then paying 80% of the costs incurred.

That pretty much all started going away in the 1980s with the introduction of HMOs, PPOs and the many “hybrid” plans that grew out of the managed care boom.

So any time I hear someone whine and cry about either health care reform or their own insurance I immediately question them about their knowledge of it before I discuss it with them.

Kirk Roebuck
Summa Health System


As millions of consumers consider purchasing health insurance through the insurance marketplaces set up as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - and as some face problems accessing the program because of failures of the government's website, they should be aware of an option they may not know they have: Consulting their local professional, independent insurance agent or broker for help in enrolling.

Consumers may already know that there are "navigators" paid by the government who are available to assist them in enrolling in policies under Obamacare. But they may not be aware that under the law, navigators cannot offer advice or recommend one policy over another.

Professional insurance agents, on the other hand, are free to offer a much higher level of assistance. Consumers don't pay for this service. In addition, in most cases, navigators are not required to be licensed or to comply with state-mandated continuing education requirements; they are also not required to maintain professional liability insurance coverage. Agents and brokers must be licensed and must comply with all of these requirements, along with all state laws and regulations.

Many independent insurance agents and brokers have already been trained and certified to assist consumers to enroll in health plans offered as part of the Affordable Care Act. They can also make consumers aware of insurance choices not available through the exchanges.

"Choosing a health insurance plan is a serious matter," said PIA National President John G. Lee. "it is a complex process that cannot be compared to purchasing a book from a website. Insurance is not a commodity. the implications of making a poor choice due to the lack of adequate knowledge include paying too much or getting inadequate coverage for yourself or your family. When it comes to health insurance, making an ill-informed decision can end up costing you your life's savings - or your life."

"Professional agents and brokers have the training and expertise needed to advise consumers about their insurance choices," Lee said. "We have always been licensed, regulated, and required to carry professional liability insurance coverage. We recommend that people shopping for health insurance - or any kind of insurance - make the smart choice and not leave anything to chance. Consult a local ACA Certified Professional Insurance Agent."

I will publish more tips and help as it is fed to me through Mr. Roebuck.



“Wisconsin health insurance exchange premiums for single coverage will be on average 79% to 99% higher than premiums in Minnesota, before tax credits are applied,” according to a new report.

If you’re wondering why there is such a disparity in healthcare insurance costs between similar states like Wisconsin and Minnesota, it’s because Tea Party Governor Scott Walker rejected enhanced federal Medicaid dollars and Wisconsin Republicans decided not to implement more robust rate reviews. Translation: Republicans rejected money to expand Medicaid and Republicans choose not to oversee rate regulation (if this doesn’t ring a bell, when Republicans discuss it, they call their refusal to check corporation’s “freedom” and “free markets”).

These decisions may cost Wisconsinites $1,800 or more a year over what their Minnesota counterparts pay for health insurance. Wisconsinites will pay between 79% and 99% higher premiums before tax credits are applied, and the middle class will be hit the hardest. Some cities will pay as much as 136% higher premiums.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a new report documenting the vast differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the cost for health insurance on the individual insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

• Wisconsin health insurance exchange premiums for single coverage will be on average 79% to 99% higher than premiums in Minnesota, before tax credits are applied. That is a difference of over $1,800 a year.
•The health insurance cost differential will be even worse for some major Wisconsin cities. Rates in La Crosse are 136% higher than the Minnesota average, rates in Eau Claire are 116% higher, and rates in Milwaukee are 112% higher.

• The cost gap with Minnesota has the biggest impact on middle class Wisconsinites because Affordable Care Act tax credits mitigate the impact on lower income people who buy insurance on the exchange.
Additionally, when Walker announced his Republican plan to reject Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, he was warned that this would cost Wisconsin state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Walker, with his eye on 2016, was at war with President Obama and what better way to prove his conservative bona fides than by rejecting as much of ObamaCare as he could.

It’s not as if Walker can run on his job creation numbers or making a great climate for business. Wisconsin is failing in both departments under Walker. He’s got to be able to run as the guy who fought Obama and won — a feat he has not actually managed to do, regardless of how many times he and his BFF Paul Ryan blame Mitt Romney for the 2012 election loss. Reality plays a small part in Republican politics these days that Walker won’t be hurt by inventing his own world so long as he is the comic book hero who said No to the Illegitimate President.

Comic book narratives aside, the Walker administration is still confused about how this fiscal stuff works (sure Walker didn’t graduate from college, but that is no excuse — plenty of Americans can add and subtract without going to college). Walker’s secretary of health services, Kitty Rhoades, claims to believe that they didn’t walk away from money - the state will have more money by petulantly keeping the working poor off of Medicaid expansions at the fed’s expense.

This belief earned her a Mostly False from PolitiFact. It turns out, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says Walker’s decision is going to cost state taxpayers $119 million and could exceed $459 million through 2021.

Scott Walker justifies this by claiming to believe the federal government won’t come through with the money because of the debt (along this failed logic, why wait for anything to be proven – if you feel it, it must be – leadership by hysterical emotion of the mentally impaired has worked out so well in the past). To be fair, perhaps Walker knew of his party’s plans to tank the economy with a shutdown and threat to refuse to pay our bills. If so, conspiracy charges are warranted, immediately following the mandatory Republican math class.

The Walker administration champions their plan to instead drive the money to health insurance companies and health care providers. More transferring of the wealth to corporations, or “job creation” in Republican speak.

Minnesota also took ObamaCare up on the money provided to review rates – aka, oversight, but Wisconsin hasn’t. They’re cool with whatever the insurance companies want to charge citizens. Regulation is the death of corporate freedom, after all, and when corporations aren’t free to rob citizens, they allegedly won’t create so many crappy jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

Appeasement of the corporate beast is a must in Republican circles and so Wisconsinites are getting it again. No doubt Republicans will blame Obama for this, too, since they are loath to take responsibility for their own behavior, ideology and policies.

Thanks to Scott Walker, Wisconsin Will Pay Up To 99% Higher Insurance Costs was written by Sarah Jones for PoliticusUSA.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


PHOTO: State Senator Kathleen Vinehout and yours truly at "Save the Hills" meeting, Menomonie, WI, Saturday, October 19

State Senator Vinehout spoke to alert us to a bill that appears to roll back the ability of locals to control what happens within their boundaries, especially with regard to sand mining.

This legislation is aimed at taking away local ability to protect health and safety in communities; including locals’ ability to put limits on water quality, water quantity, air quality, use of explosives and road use contracts.

The Walker Administration has been very reluctant to provide adequate resources for the enforcement of existing laws to protect health and safety. Local rules are the last line of defense for people.

This bill is related to sand mines. However, in Senator Vinehout's preliminary discussion with Legislative Council attorneys, the bill is not specific to just non-metallic mining (sand and gravel extraction). For example, if a community sets rules in a way other than zoning (such as police powers) they may lose this authority.

The bill, which is currently in draft form but is expected to move very quickly through the legislative process, was just released late yesterday. Vinehout learned that there will likely be a joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly committees related to mining on Thursday October 24, 2013 at 9 AM in Madison. If it is at all possible, we should make plans to attend this hearing. The bill could potentially be voted out of committee at this hearing. THIS LEGISLATION COULD BECOME LAW IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.

The bill comes on the heels of other legislation that takes away powers from local people to control what happens in their neighborhoods. This is part of a larger pattern in Governor Walker’s administration. The bill appears to be written by mining interests – many of which are owned by out-of-state companies.

Everyone who cares about having a voice in what happens in their neighborhood needs to pay attention to this bill. It certainly appears to take away local ability to protect communities and gives sand mines the ability to run roughshod over local people.

It prevents all local authorities from passing protections for their own air and water quality and water quantity....

It prevents all local authorities from monitoring their own air and water quality and water quantity.

It further erodes local governments' ability to regulate frac sand mining, only giving them a say when it comes time to clean up the mess and even then, holding them to the lowest possible standard.

It prevents local governments' ability to control blasting in their communities.

It effectively prevents local governments from collecting funds from those - like frac sand companies - that destroy local roads.

The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship through Monday.

Kathleen strongly opposes the legislation and wonders why politicians in Madison should seek to control our local communities. They don’t live there.

I don’t know why any legislator from western Wisconsin would turn control over our land to politicians in Madison. We all need to contact our representatives on the mining committees and ask them the same question.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I thought about posting this on Facebook but then decided that everyone would think I am a picky person, which I don't think I am, until it comes to language use.

My long time pet peeve is when people refer to a cap as a hat. In these two photographs, the top photo shows Robert One Man Johnson playing guitar and wearing a HAT.

In the lower photo, both my brother John and I are wearing CAPS. Anybody see the difference between the two? Well, of course, anybody with half a brain can see that a hat has a brim and a cap has a bill. Yet even big time writers will refer to players wearing "baseball hats". Baseball players would look pretty silly wearing ten gallon baseball hats, don't you think?

Yeh, I know it's a small thing, but it bugs the hell out of me because it is not correct nomenclature!

The other very strange misuse of the english language is something that I have begun noticing more recently and that is when a person is telling another person a story and wants to tell that person exactly what a friend of his said. Instead of saying: "So my friend says ..." it appears to be acceptable to say: "So my friend goes ...

What the heck?? People GO places, they SAY things, plain and simple. I think it sounds really ignorant for anybody to say something like this: "So I told him to stay off my lawn" and he goes "Well, excuse me, but there is a puddle on your sidewalk!"

I hear stand up comics use "he goes" on Comedy Central all the time. This morning I read the HuffPost online stories about the movie "Captain Phillips". In the article titled "Captain Phillips On What He Thought of 'Captain Phillips' (go to the following link to read it) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/captain-richard-phillips_n_4098947.html

Scroll down to: What did Tom Hanks say to you when you guys met?
Phillips uses "goes" instead of "says" TWICE!

There. I said it. Now I feel better.

Just a couple of days ago I wrote an editorial after reading that the Wisconsin State Senate is about to pass a law which will give the legislature the power to decide where and how much sand mining should be allowed in the State of Wisconsin. Here is my opinion:

The two faces of Wisconsin’s Legislative Tea Party membership continues to come into sharper focus. This week, a reliable source in the Wisconsin legislature informed Ms. Edie Ehlert of the Crawford Stewardship Project that presently a bill is being crafted in said legislature which would give frac sand mining regulation to the state, taking away local regulatory power from towns and counties.

The bill would be a “uniform” nonmetallic mining legislation that would not be as stringent or specific as the regulations that organizations such as the Crawford Stewardship Project and others are putting into place in so many of our communities in an attempt to put a stop to the disfiguring and polluting of the beautiful state of Wisconsin that we know and love.

It would be useful if the state legislature would be setting minimum standards to which local community organizations could add more thorough and stringent standards if they wanted. However, it is quite obvious that this is not the intention of the legislation.

Instead, the current Republican controlled legislature which continually trumpets the rights of the individual over the controlling state and federal governments, clearly intends to usurp the powers that they so vehemently say belongs to the people.

It makes a person suddenly come to the realization that the only time the Tea Party Republicans currently in power in Madison shout “don’t tread on me!” is if they disagree with whatever legislation is put forth on the floor.

If it is legislation that will further fill their pockets with the monies of lobbyists and big money industries such as RGGS Land and Minerals out of Houston, Texas, as well as the Florida based Cline Group, which has secured an option for all mineral rights in the Penokee range, and it is what our Tea Party Governor Walker wants, well, then it’s good enough for them as well.

Where did you put that rubber stamp?

However, I sense that the wind is beginning to blow in a different direction now.

The legislature can only urinate on our collective leg and tell us that its rain for only a short time before we, the people, come to our senses.

There. I said it.


Monday, October 14, 2013


This is a photograph of Patty Stangel, The St. Frances of Asissi of the Chippewa Valley, holding one of her many children. Patty, who has had several successful careers in her lifetime, is now doing the work that I think she was put on this earth to do: Minister to God's wild creatures who are in need of rehabilitation.

Patty first became interested in working with the sick and injured as a volunteer for the refuge that was originally between Eau Claire and Fall Creek, just off Highway 12 East. When the owners had health problems of their own and could no longer continue, Patty decided that she would take on the mantel of responsibility.

Her first step was to sell her Hamilton Avenue, Eau Claire, house and property. At the same time, she co-ordinated the purchase of a rustic house way out in the country, between Colfax and Menomonie. It is the perfect location for her work as not only does it have a walk out basement where she can store supplies and possibly the cages of some of her smaller charges, but there is also a large machine shed for more cages that will house her bigger animals in need.

In addition to owls, she has cared for rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, various hawks, and quite recently the most exotic patient, an emaciated baby lynx - also known as a bob cat. When the cat was first turned in, it was close to death by starvation as it had obviously been separated from its mother.

Immediately, Patty began working slowly and methodically to bring it back to health, feeding it milk with an eye dropper, and as it grew stronger, bits of cut up raw meat.

When the cat was somewhat stronger, Patty loaded it up in a cage and drove it in to see the veterinarian for shots and a physical examination. The veterinarian, of course, was very surprised to have this wild creature brought in for shots. He told Patty that in all his years of being a veterinarian, this was his first bob cat. Patty told him that it was her first, also.

She returned home, cat in tow, with instructions from the vet to give the animal deworming tablets every day By then the cat was growing stronger and bigger from Patty's good care. This made the "wild" in the animal become more prevalent and Patty found that giving it the daily deworming pill was starting to be a real challenge. she would don her heavy duty glove - the one she wears when dealing with the talons of hawks and other raptors - and when the cat would make that typical cat "hissing" sound, she would quickly pop the pill in its mouth and get it down the throat.

One day the cat proved that there was nothing wrong with its fangs. It bit right through the heavy duty glove and into Patty's arm! Patty was able to release the animal recently and I believe she said it was released in a large wooded area near Augusta. She told me that yes, it was her first bob cat and she hoped it would be her last!

Late this past summer I asked Patty what I could do to help her with the mounting accrued bills. together we decided to hold a silent auction/free music party to raise much needed funding.

While Patty began rounding up items for the silent auction, I began rounding up musicians that I know to get them to volunteer their time for a good cause. The response was truly overwhelming. Here are some of the musicians that gave of themselves on that beautiful sunday afternoon at the Maple Lounge, following the 22-9 Packer victory over the Detroit Lions: Catya Von Karolyi, Mike Schlenker, Jerry Way, David Barneson, Tom Wieseler, Tim Keilholtz, Mike Richson, Ed Trienen, David Engedal, Duffy Duyfhuizen, John Utphall, and Billy Krause.

If I missed anybody, please let me know! Almost to a man, all the musicians told me that they had a ball and asked if and when we would be having another fund raiser for Patty.

Patty told me that she had hoped to raise a thousand dollars with the event. The final tally? Two thousand three hundred dollars!!

And there is going to be another one! I will be the planner again and I think it will be sometime in March, after Super Bowl and other distractions are not in the way. I have already thought of musicians that I missed getting an invite to last time. Also, through Facebook postings, I already have had two wonderful people offer items for the silent auction.

Somebody cue "In the Arms of an Angel" by Sarah McLaughlin!



An accurate reproduction of the Eau Claire Bears jersey and cap (by Ebbets Field Flannels of Seattle, WA.) and a replica of Pafko's Milwaukee Braves jersey that I had constructed this summer

Andrew (Andy) Pafko was born February 25, 1921, in Boyceville, Wisconsin. The third oldest of six children, Andy claimed he got his good grip on the baseball bat from having milked 16 dairy cows a day.

Andy first played baseball for the Connorsville, Wisconsin team of the amateur Dunn County League. At age 19, he decided to try out for the Eau Claire Bears of the Great Northern League. Manager Ivy Griffin signed him only to let him go later the same day upon realizing he had too many players on the roster.

Later that same summer, Andy was re-signed to an emergency contract because of an injury to an outfielder and he finished out the season with the Bears.

Pafko went on to play for the Madison, Wisconsin team, then signed with the Green Bay Blue Sox, and was eventually signed by Bill Veeck of the Milwaukee Brewers, who sent him to the Macon, GA, team.

Fully expecting to begin playing for the Milwaukee team, Pafko was shocked to read in the November newpapers that he had been bought by the Chicago Cubs. Pafko was deferred from military service because of high blood pressure and went on to a long and illustrious career with the Chicago Cubs, playing on their last World Series winning team in 1945.

He then went on to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and in 1954 was traded to the Milwaukee Braves, a team which had just moved from Boston. The highlight of his Milwaukee career was in 1957 when he played for the World Series Champion Milwaukee Braves, alongside Henry Aaron, who replaced him at his position in 1959.

Andy Pafko was one of my childhood heros even though he played for Connorsville! You see, my dad taught me the love of two things: fishing and baseball. Because our farm was just south of Menomonie, off Highway 25, my brothers and I were all Menomonie Eagles fans. On sunday afternoons, our dad would take us to see the Menomonie Eagles play at Wakanda Park. Of course, all the boys had a favorite players. Mine was "Budge" O'Connell, of the local television, radio sales and service in Menomonie. Budge was the catcher and one of the better hitters for the Eagles.

I will always remember the sunday that my dad took us to an Eagles vs Connorsville game at Connorsville. It had rained heavily the night before, and the Connorsville outfield was nothing more than soupy mud. There he was: Andy Pafko - playing center field for Connorsville.

In the fifth inning, with a man on at first, up to the plate steps "Budge". On the second pitch he hits a towering fly ball to right center. Pafko begins churning through the mud, his eyes skyward, trying to reach the fly ball. As he approaches the ball, he is aware that he will not be able to catch it on the fly, so he extends his glove hand downward to get the ball on it's first hop. But the ball doesn't hop - it plops! It hits that soupy mud and sinks almost out of sight. Andy reaches to where the ball should have been, and grabs air. He then over runs the ball, realizes what has happened, tries to put on the brakes, and like an uncoordinated ice skater, slips "ass over tea kettle" landing butt first in the mud.

In the meantime, before the ball is retrieved and hurled towards the infield, the runner that was on first has scored and "Budge" O'Connell goes on to third with a standing triple.

You know, I cannot remember who won that game - but I shall never forget the scene just described!

I wanted to publish this in honor of "Handy Andy" Pafko, a great ball player and human being. He died tuesday, October 8, in a Michigan nursing home. He was 92 years old.