TUE AM News: Former exec transitions to sailboat charter business; Dems, locals balk at price tag for Milwaukee in Brewers bill

— For nearly 20 years, Dan Siedlecki sat behind a desk at Madison-based CUNA Mutual Group, when he wasn’t on the road. 

For the most part, Siedlecki said he enjoyed his time with CUNA — which changed its name to TruStage in May of this year. He said he worked hard and traveled to all 50 states during his tenure as he rose to an assistant vice president with the company that provides insurance and investment services to credit unions and their members around the country.

“But I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bug,” said Siedlecki, who lives in Middleton and now runs a sailboat charter business in Door County. He stepped down from his job at CUNA in 1997 to start his own home services company, which still exists.

“It was a nice long run and I made a lot of friends, but I left after CUNA merged’’ with the Century Companies of Waverly, Iowa, he said.

“There was a changing of the guard and it was no longer fun. That’s when I noticed that several younger guys I knew were starting their own companies and I figured I could do that, too. So I went out on my own.”

Siedlecki, who grew up in the Detroit metro area and graduated from UW-Madison, ran his own painting business when he was in college. After he left CUNA, he launched a business called TIPLOK, which offers a variety of home services, including gutter cleaning, power washing, snow removal, tree trimming, lawn maintenance, fall yard clean up, debris removal and shrub trimming.

In recent years, his youngest son, Brock, has taken on many of the company’s operations, so Siedlecki can spend more time sailing on the S/V DELIA out of Sturgeon Bay in the waters off Door County during the summer and fall. He also sails across Lake Michigan to Grand Traverse Bay. His 48-foot Jeanneau “Trinidad” sailboat, which was built in 1985, can sleep six guests in three staterooms and has two berths for crew. Its interior is trimmed in golden teak. 

“And while DELIA isn’t a glitzy, brand new boat, she’s a seaworthy ol’ gal with personality and a great spirit well suited for Lake Michigan’s waters,” he said of his yacht, which is now berthed at the Center Pointe Marina in Sturgeon Bay. “We always have a good time sailing her and telling her stories.”

See the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1489682 

— Asking taxpayers to help cover the cost of a professional sports stadium for the second time in eight years, GOP lawmakers again argued it would be cheaper to put public money into the Milwaukee Brewers ballpark than to lose the team.

But Dem lawmakers said the $202.5 million Milwaukee County and the city would have to cover of the more than $700 million deal was too high a price on local taxpayers. The mayor also criticized the plan for not giving city or county officials a spot on the new board that would oversee the stadium as part of a deal that would keep the team in Milwaukee through at least 2050.

Rep. Rob Brooks, a key architect of the plan, told WisPolitics he expects the price tag for the state and local governments to change as final details are hammered out. He expects the $411 million from the state over the next 27 years now envisioned in the bill to drop. Meanwhile, the contribution from the city and county — a $7.5 million a year through 2050 — will depend on how they approach coming up with their share.

The Saukville Republican said they could front load the money to drop the overall commitment. Meanwhile, if they seek to delay starting to pay part of the cost beyond 2024, that price tag could go higher. Brooks said GOP lawmakers offered local officials the opportunity to propose a plan to put in a combined $5 million annually, but they didn’t produce one ahead of the bill being released yesterday. 

“We’re trying to give the locals as much flexibility as they can,” Brooks said.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, D-Madison, and Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, both said they are willing to negotiate a bipartisan agreement. But they said the bill “falls short.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. La Tonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said the proposal is bad for the city and county. Even with an uptick in shared revenue coming their way starting next year, both are facing financial difficulties that make coming up with $7.5 million a year not feasible, she said.

“Where is this money coming from?” she asked.

See more at WisPolitics: https://www.wispolitics.com/2023/mon-pm-update-dems-locals-balk-at-price-tag-for-milwaukee-in-brewers-bill/ 

— Field work at Wisconsin farms is largely proceeding more quickly than the five-year average, though dry conditions persist. 

The USDA’s latest crop progress report shows 28 percent of the state’s winter wheat crop had been planted as of the end of last week, which is four days ahead of last year and two days ahead of the average rate. 

Meanwhile, 53 percent of the potato crop has been planted. That’s six days ahead of last year and five days ahead of the average, the report shows. 

And the fourth cutting of alfalfa was 81 percent — equal to last year’s progress at this time, but 10 days ahead of the average. 

The state’s ongoing drought is contributing to low soil moisture levels, the report shows. While fewer Wisconsinites are now living in areas of drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System, much of the state remains very dry. 

About 20 percent of Wisconsin is under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions, the NIDIS site shows. Those areas are scattered across the state, though the most severe zone spans central to southwestern Wisconsin. 

Still, the number of state residents living in areas of drought has fallen 14 percent since last week, reaching 3.6 million at latest count. 

See the USDA report: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2023/WI-Crop-Progress-09-18-23.pdf 

See the NIDIS site: https://www.drought.gov/states/wisconsin 

— UW-Madison and Marquette University have been ranked among the top 100 national universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. 

UW-Madison was ranked 35th in the country, tied with New York University, University of California Santa Barbara and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

According to a release on the report, this is the highest it’s been ranked on this report in the past 15 years, and marks the fifth year in a row its ranking has improved. The university also touted its 12th place ranking among public universities. 

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin noted “rankings are only one thing to consider” when selecting a college. 

“Each student is unique, and there are many tangible and intangible factors that determine which school is the best fit,” she said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Marquette University was ranked 86th, tied with Clemson University in South Carolina and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Milwaukee-based private institution was also ranked 46th in the “best value schools” category. 

Other Wisconsin universities also made the top national colleges list, including UW-La Crosse at 249, Concordia University at 304, Edgewood at 320, and UW-Milwaukee and UW-Oshkosh tied at 332. 

See the full rankings here: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities 

See the UW-Madison release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2023/uw-madison-ranks-35th-in-2024-u-s-news-best-colleges-rankings/ 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report…</b></i> 

— In a recent “UpFront” segment, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said she’s working to rebuild trust in the agency as federal health officials issue new recommendations on the COVID-19 shot.

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