Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why Is This Woman Smiling?

You would, too, if you’d just been granted a half-million dollar bonus from a company that just three months ago was bankrupt.

This woman is Mary Junck, and she’s CEO of Lee Enterprises, the newspaper conglomerate that owns, among other things, the Wisconsin State Journal.  Lee went on a buying binge a few years ago, overpaying for a bunch of daily newspapers scattered around the country.  As a result, Lee racked up a billion dollars in debt (which their cash flow obviously couldn’t serve) and declared bankruptcy.

Why would such a company then turn around and give its CEO a half-million dollar bonus?  (Not to mention the 250-thousand-dollar bonus to the company’s CFO, Carl Schmidt.)

Because these two captains of industry….err, media….re-negotiated the company’s debt.

That’s the way it works on Wall Street…err, I mean in media….today.  It’s not whether your company is fiscally sound; it’s whether you can repackage the crappy debt you put out there, and find some investment banker outfit that will take your paper and charge your company dearly for doing so.

You just keep rolling the unsustainable debt, and collecting huge bonuses.

To make your cash flow support your debt, you slash payroll.  Ironically, as Ms. Junck was collecting her half-million-dollar bonus, Lee Enterprises was busy laying off a bunch of staff at its newspaper in Helena, Montana – the Helena Independent Record.  (By the way….how’d that paywall work out for you at the Independent Record?  Not so good?  Oh, that’s too bad.)

The company’s stock, which was almost de-listed a year ago because it had fallen below a dollar a share, is trading at about $1.21 today.  In 2004, Lee stock was trading at 48 dollars a share.

So, to summarize: Lee Enterprises stock has fallen totally into the toilet; the company has just emerged from bankruptcy; it has a billion dollars in re-financed and unsustainable debt; and it continues to cut staff in an effort to pay back the sharks they owe.

I’d say it’s about time to give the financial whiz kids who run this company a huge bonus, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Mifflin Street Beer Blast

It’s time for the annual spring beer blast on Mifflin Street to go away.  My prediction: it will die a very violent death this year.

It began in May of ’69, and it was more of a VietNam war protest than anything else.  But it’s gotten so far from its roots that it’s not recognizable.  It’s become a noisy, violent, drunken puke-fest.  Not that long ago it bordered on riot status.  The drunks were uncontrollable, started burning things, and had to be put to bed forcibly.  In one recent year, Badger football players – a few of them – roamed the crowd and beat down random people.  Last year there were stabbings and cops got hurt.

A word about the cops: you will not find a more patient group of law enforcement professionals anywhere on the planet.  They give a remarkable amount of leeway to the drunks.  You’ve got to be a real asshole to get arrested at the beer blast.  The cops are good-humored enough to allow the revelers to have their pictures taken with them.  Here’s a shot from the 2005 beer blast, with the cops putting up with my kids (Dru between the two cops and Mal to the right of the cop).

The beer blast usually starts in a benign fashion, like the shot above, which was taken at around 10:30 AM on April 30th, 2005.  But by early afternoon, most of the crowd is drunk, peeing and puking in the street, and getting surly.  After about 8 beers, those college kids suddenly become constitutional scholars on their “rights”, and that’s when the real trouble starts.

There were rumblings after last year’s beer blast that it was time for it to go away.  Even Mayor Paul Soglin, who was one of the architects of the original street party back in ’69, said it no longer served a purpose.  The bill for the cops was well over a hundred grand, and when it gets to that level in this kind of economy, the taxpayers are less forbearing about footing a six-figure-plus bill so a bunch of college kids can get drunk and trash the neighborhood.

With the dictum this year about no alcohol consumption on public property, with no sponsor (again this year), and no structure, things are going to get ugly in a hurry.  The rules will be defied, the cops will have no choice but to enforce the wishes (and commands) of their superior officers, and will be ordered to arrest violators.   There will be a lot of them (violators), it won’t be mellow, and even the most broad-minded of the citizenry will be saying Sunday morning “enough”.

And then, the beer blast will go away, as it should have a couple decades ago.

(Photo at top of post Copyright Isthmus.Read their article here.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are The Death Panels Back?

Shortly after the news broke that former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant (or, as the wags said, “heart implant” – because he never had one in the first place) the whispered questions began.

“He’s too old for a heart transplant…isn’t he?”  “Wonder what strings he pulled to get a heart transplant at his age?”  “How many people in line for a transplant did he jump ahead of, to get his new heart?”  “The question isn’t that Dick Cheney got a heart transplant; the question is, who didn’t, because of it.”

Then, the whispered questions on social media became fodder for the 24-hour news cycle, and each TV network had to summon its “chief medical correspondent” to appear on the network’s nightly news broadcast Sunday, and explain to us why Dick Cheney was even considered for a heart transplant.  Reporters for the big print media outlets asked doctors questions about who gets a replacement heart these days, and implicit in their stories is the question “why Cheney?”.

As far as I’m concerned, Cheney has the blackest heart of any person who’s ever held a national elected office.  He was behind the stupid wars we’re in, in Iraq and Afghanistan; his “1% Doctrine” legacy is a huge load of horse-puckey; and what he did to Valerie Plame (Richard Armitage leaked the info to Bob Novak, but Cheney was behind it) gets Cheney a spot in the darkest and hottest level of hell, in my book.

That said, even though he’s 71, most reliable sources say Cheney didn’t jump anybody on the list; that even though there are 31-hundred Americans on the waiting list for a heart right now (and a little over 10% of them will die before they get one) it’s nearly impossible to “game” the UNOS system; and that the condition of your other vital organs and where you live has more to do with whether you’ll get a heart or not.  Most of these sources also say Cheney was at the top of the age range for those who’ll get a replacement heart.

It used to be that if you were 55, you were too old to get a heart.  Now, that’s changed.  Cheney met all the new criteria, and got his new heart at the same hospital that put the “boost-pump” into him a couple years ago.

The ironic part of the Cheney heart saga, to me, is that the very people who railed the loudest against Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels” meme are the people who would now act as a death panel and deny Cheney a replacement heart.  To those folks, I say “be careful what you wish for”.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Call B.S. on the Appleton Post-Crescent

A few days ago Genia Lovett, the president and publisher of the Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper, which is owned by Gannett, made note in her column in the newspaper that 25 Gannett Wisconsin media journalists, including nine employed by the Post-Crescent, signed the petition to recall Governor Walker.  She went on to say those employees broke the paper’s “Code of Ethics” by signing, and further said they would be disciplined.

This is the biggest load of BS that’s come down the road in a long time.

First, before we go any farther, I’m sure people more experienced and smarter than I, have already explained (in colorful language) to Ms. Lovett that Wisconsin has very specific laws in place to prevent organizations like Gannett from taking any sort of “disciplinary” or “retraining” action against employees who are exercising protected rights.

The concept that a reporter can’t write unbiased news coverage because he or she signed a recall petition is as ludicrous as saying a reporter who owns a Ford  can’t write about General Motors.  Or a reporter who's ever been treated by a doctor can't report on health care.

Ever since I was a boy who grew up in Hortonville reading the Post-Crescent, the paper has endorsed political candidates every election cycle.  So, the newspaper itself takes political positions.  And yet its reporters can’t?  What kind of cockamamie “code of ethics” does Gannett follow?

Shout-radio tea partiers like Charlie Sykes and Vicki McKenna loudly trumpet that they’re going to “expose” local reporters who signed the petition, apparently unaware that one of Appleton’s other notorious products, Senator Joe McCarthy, had a brief and failed career trying to “expose” the communists that he saw everywhere.

It’s being reported that Ms. Lovett (who apparently lives in Hortonville!) is on the board of the Appleton Chamber of Commerce.  If that’s true, I expect she will resign that position immediately - or resign from the Post-Crescent - so there can be no “appearance of conflict of interest” if her newspaper decides to report anything about a business located in Appleton.

In her column (and yes, there is a difference between a column and an article) Lovett talks about the “higher standard” she expects her reporters to adhere to, by apparently not having any opinion on any political issue.  Some of my long-time friends in the news business have made public posts on social media, clucking about how “wrong” it is for “journalists” to engage in such blatant political activity as signing a recall petition.

Next thing you know, reporters will be outed for voting.

In a world where Rush Limbaugh refers to himself as “America’s Anchorman” and people actually believe he is giving “news” on his program….in a world where Fox News and MSNBC both exist under the banner of “news”….in a world where George Stephanopoulos leaves the Clinton administration and suddenly becomes a “trusted, non-biased journalist”, it may be well past time for organizations like Gannett, and Ms. Lovett, to get off their high horse for a few moments and re-think their “code of ethics” for reporters.

Have the hiring standards for news reporters plummeted since I was last in that business, four years ago, to the point where reporters can’t be trusted to hold a political opinion and still write balanced, unbiased work product?

Or, are we “safe” because Ms. Lovett and her ilk are carefully monitoring the work-product of these reporters, making sure no “opinion” slips into their work?

Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here's a Scoop: Politics Sucks

The smiling people in the photo above are happy because they’re watching Governor Walker sign the Seclusion and Restraint bill.  If you don’t follow the news closely, you may not know what this is all about.  Briefly, the new law carefully regulates the way schools can discipline children by forcing them into solitary confinement in a small room (“seclusion”), and under what circumstances manual manipulation or the use of a mechanical device can be used to restrict freedom of movement (“restraint”).

The picture above was taken by my friend Julie Lund, who now works for Governor Walker’s media team.  During her days as a reporter for Channel 27, Julie did a series of hard-hitting stories about the locked seclusion rooms in the Monroe school district.

The distinguished-looking gentleman with the suit and tie standing over Governor Walker’s shoulder is Madison attorney Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, the managing attorney at Disability Rights Wisconsin.  DRW fought long and hard to get this bill passed, because children with disabilities are often the victims of cruel and thoughtless seclusion and restraint.  I’ve come to know Jeff after having done quite a few news stories about this issue over the past couple years, and I’m happy that his tireless work helped make this new law happen.

This bill-signing yesterday should have been cause for celebration not only by parents of children with disabilities, but for members of both political parties.  This bill-signing was the culmination of a lot of hard work, compromise, give-and-take, and cooperation among Democrats and Republicans.  That’s something that happens all too infrequently these days: when people who have legitimately different views can set aside their personal opinions, listen to what the other side is saying, and come together to make Wisconsin a better place not just for children with disabilities, but for all of us.

But – shortly after the photos of the bill-signing were released by Governor Walker’s office,  the Democrats decided to turn this happy occasion into political fodder, and the head spokesman for the Democrats in Wisconsin, Graeme Zielinski, accused Governor Walker of using the people with disabilities in the photos as “political props” to make him look good.  This hateful accusation was accompanied by a rant about how Governor Walker is an enemy of the disabled community.

They couldn’t just leave it alone; they had to attempt to make it a political football, and (as Jeff said on his Facebook page) “insulted people with disabilities, their families, and their advocates”.

Governor Walker signed four bills yesterday, including one banning the “r” word.  It was a good day for all Wisconsinites, and a victory for bipartisan effort to make our state better.

But they couldn’t just let it be.  Instead of celebrating unity, they had to try to make it an occasion for divisiveness.

Politics sucks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Advancing Backward

Single parenting is an indicator of child abuse.  Women must be counseled face-to-face by a doctor, who must ask them if they’ve been coerced into an abortion.  Public schools must teach that abstinence is the most reliable way to prevent pregnancy.

Well, I guess that last sentence is true, at least the last part of it.

Now that the dysfunctional state legislature has ended its session, the stuff in the first paragraph above is what it got done before it left.  Mining: FAIL.  Venture capital: FAIL.  Job creation: FAIL.  But by God, we’re going to make damned sure any woman who goes in for an abortion (“abortion on demand”, as the wackos say) is going to get counseled and questioned.

The party which was in power tells us it’s all about job creation and getting the government out of the way and out of our lives, has nothing to show for its efforts in the past session except things that get the government even more involved in our lives, and not just our “business” lives, but the extremely personal parts of our lives.

Right now, only the big fans of political news are paying any attention to what the state legislature accomplished in its just-completed session.  The Republican primary is still a couple weeks away, and gradually, over the next week or so, more people will start paying attention to what they’ll be told, countless times on television ads, what that wacko Santorini is up to, to whether Romney is still a liberal or if he’s truly become a conservative, and how Mr. Newt is going to roll back gas prices to $2.50 a gallon with some secret plan.

But after the primary the first week of April, things will start to pick up steam for the recall elections coming up.  That’s when the great masses in the middle will start paying attention.  And when they figure out the party of job-creators is really the party that’s not relevant, with its backward-looking social policies and failure to deliver more jobs….well, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This Rampant Exercise of Democratic Rights Must End

Now, the local scribes have a new game to play: combing through the online database of signers of a petition to recall Governor Walker, and reporting it as “news”. Today, we were shocked and astonished to learn that Paul R. Soglin and Joseph T. Parisi had the unmitigated gall and crass naiveté to sign the petition to recall Governor Walker.

Late last week, a breathless Charlie Sykes (Milwaukee shout radio host) informed us that several senior executives of the United Way campaign had signed the petition, thereby endangering contributions to the charity from those who chose not to sign the recall petition.

And then there’s the Dane County Judge, David Flanagan, who was outed not only for signing a recall petition, but for signing a recall petition his WIFE was circulating! When my bride first informed me about this while reading the article in the local morning print media, I said “next thing you know they’ll be finding out that judges have actually VOTED in elections!!!!!”. 

 In the alternate universe in which I live, it would be news if the Mayor of Madison and the Dane County Executive (Soglin and Parisi) did NOT sign the petition. But in my alternate universe, it is also headline news that Judge Flanagan did not recuse himself from sitting in judgment of one of Walker’s pet new laws, the ALEC-induced Voter ID law. 

 The reason this new pastime of reporters combing through the online database to uncover names of petition signers is news is that we have been conditioned by the extreme partisan politics of the past decade, and the clueless failure of our state’s highest court to operate in a fair and non-partisan manner, to believe that NO public figure can possibly conduct themselves as a professional and set aside their personal preferences to act in the best interest of John and Jane Doe. 

 The justices of our state’s highest court have amply demonstrated that they haven’t the foggiest clue of what “impartial” means; what is and isn’t ethical behavior; and they’re operating in a microcosm where “appearance of impropriety” has no basis in their reality. 

 There’s a reason the founding fathers made sure that we elect our nation’s political leaders via secret ballot. And, there’s a reason that signing things like nomination papers and recall petitions is not done secretly or anonymously. 

 The inability to discern why one is secret and the other is public has apparently become a lost art.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Night in CPAP Hell

Until I was in my 40’s, I took sleep for granted.  Years of being on the road as a musician as a younger man, with “unusual” hours, helped me develop the skill to fall asleep almost anywhere, under any circumstances, regardless of the noise in the environment, pretty much on a moment’s notice.

In my early 40’s, there was a period of five or six years where I did a fair amount of travel by car, consulting radio stations.  The longest trip by car was five hours from Madison, and the trips involved an overnight stay.  I’d “make the circuit” every six weeks or so, and I began to notice that it was often very hard for me to stay awake during any drive that lasted more than a couple hours.  I was driving big-ass Cadillacs at the time, land-cruisers that were designed more to put you to sleep than keep you alert at the wheel.  I would carry a pillow and blanket in the car, and when I got tired, I’d pull off the road and sleep for a while.

I always just assumed that I was burning the candle at both ends, and that’s what made me tired.  It never occurred to me that I might not be getting good sleep.

The life-changing experience came when I fell asleep while having a “conversation” with my bride.  We were having a disagreement about something-or-other; the kind of minor flap married couples have every so often.  Somewhere in the exchange I fell asleep, and when I woke up, my bride was sitting down next to me on the couch.  While many women of Italian heritage might have heaved a frying pan at me for falling asleep during a tiff, she waited until I woke up and realized what had happened, and she told me it was time for me to have a sleep-study done.

To shorten the story, I got in line for an overnight sleep study at the UW-Hospital; they determined within about 90 minutes that I had sleep apnea so bad that I would stop breathing sometimes for 90 seconds at a time, fitted me with a CPAP machine, and since that time (1998) I’ve slept with a CPAP every night.  Briefly, if you don’t know, CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure; it’s essentially a pump that blows air down your throat via a face mask connected by tubing to the pump, specially calibrated to each individual user’s precise needs.  Some people never adapt to the mask-and-hose arrangement; others, like me, take to it immediately, because it improves your quality of sleep exponentially.  I can doze without the machine, but I can’t really “sleep” without it.

These CPAP machines are good for about 5 years of nightly use, and the machine I had was in its sixth year.  So last week I made an appointment with the sleep authorities and they set me up with the newest, most modern, hi-tech CPAP on the market.  It’s pictured above.  That little thingy sticking out of the machine is where you attach the hose, which then goes to the mask that goes over your nose while you sleep.

I had the machine on for 90 minutes and absolutely could not adapt to all the new hi-tech features the new machines have, like much more precise pressure ups-and-downs in an attempt to match your natural breathing rhythm, and – since this this is essentially a glorified air pump – every time the pressure changes, when you exhale, the machine emits a small noise.

Since we live in exurbia, it’s REALLY quiet at night – and that small change in the pitch of the tiny noise the new machine made sounded like – well, my wife described it as a sheep bleating.  When I finally gave up trying to adapt to the new high-tech machine and shut it off, she was awake (couldn’t adapt to the new noise, either), and I told her I was going to have to hook up the old machine again in order to sleep. 

I called the sleep authorities the next morning and made my report, and they were more than appropriately concerned.  I have to go in and see them again Thursday morning, so they can figure out if the new hi-tech machine is behaving normally and it’s just something I can’t adapt to, or if the machine itself if defective.

I suspect the former, and that I’ll end up asking them to equip me with a restored OLDER model, so I can continue to enjoy 8 solid hours of sleep every night. 

For some of us, not every medical advance is a good one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mr. Limbaugh, Your “Talent On Loan From God” Has Been Recalled by The Lender

I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but it’s from my friend Holland Cooke, one of the top-rated radio consultants in the nation.  He’s a busy man these days, with a client base that includes plenty of stations that carry Rush, and plenty which do not.

Cooke says the Limbaugh story is closer to the beginning than the end, and I’d be a fool to disagree.  But I’ll bet Rush and his handlers do not have an effective emergency communications plan to deal with what’s yet to unfold.

One thing that sets this latest shout/hate radio debacle aside from prior incidents (like Imus’ rant against the Rutgers women’s basketball team) is that social media has truly come of age in 2012, acting not only as a first source for news (where did you find out that Whitney Houston had passed away?), but also as a lightning-fast tool for mobilization of an angry public, which pushed back hard when Rush wouldn’t back down.  Rush and his handlers had no idea how hard and fast they’d get hit.

The other thing the EIB crew is going to get blindsided on is the legal action which is more than likely to come.  Can you not picture a number of high-profile lawyers who are right now lining up to ask Sandra Fluke for permission to sue Limbaugh on her behalf?  If you’ve never been in one of these situations, the first thing that happens in the lawsuit is discovery.  Rush will be subjected to giving a deposition, and he’s proven time and again that he's only good when he's alone in the studio, not face-to-face with a talented interrogator. Remember his failed TV show years ago? His brief affiliation with ESPN?  EPIC fail.

The Southern Command, as he calls his Florida coterie of sycophants/employees, is not going to be prepared to deal with what lawyers call “Request for Production of Documents”.  By the way, the word “request” is a legal pleasantry.  You don’t have a choice but to comply.

I’ve mentioned before that Cumulus, one of the nation’s largest radio group owners, is a few weeks from launching The Mike Huckabee show to compete directly with Rush, and when the show launches, here are some of the Cumulus stations that will be kicking Rush off: WLS-Chicago, WABC-New York, WJR-Detroit, WMAL-Washington DC, and WBAP-Dallas/Ft. Worth, just to name a few of the powerhouse stations that will be ordered by the Cumulus home office to dump Rush and run Huckabee.

Limbaugh’s stunt to spike the ratings has really backfired.  But, with the Republicans talking about women’s reproductive rights and separation of church and state (which the vast majority of Americans consider settled law), they may have already given Rush what he secretly wants most: four more years of President Obama.  Rush and his ilk do much better railing at Democrats.

So…..although he may get what he secretly wants, whether he’ll be around to enjoy it is more and more an open question.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Shout Radio (Take Two)

A few more thoughts about the devolution of shout radio, and the latest publicity (ratings-building) stunt from Rusty Limbo.

If you are not a broadcaster or haven’t worked in the advertising industry, you may not be aware that “suspending” your ads is not the same as “cancelling” your ads, yet the widespread misunderstanding of that important distinction when talking about Limbaugh is the same as the misuse of “innocent” when talking about Ryan Braun.

For those not as cynical as I am, you may not want to believe this, but these “suspensions” have become more and more common (even long before Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos”) in the world of shout radio.  If you still haven’t figured out the difference between suspension and cancellation in the advertising world, suspension simply means you’re putting your schedule on hold until the heat dies down.

And it seems clear that’s what Rush’s sponsors are doing.  I have yet to see or read that any of the sponsors who participate on Rush’s show have actually cancelled their ad buy.

Several hundred thousand years ago when I had to help craft sales pitches to sell airtime in Rush’s show, the argument we advanced (in Madison) to the many potential sponsors who said “I don’t like Rush and I don’t stand for the same things he does” went something like this: Rush is the number-one rated radio program in the market in his time slot.  (You must understand that “number-one” can mean a lot of different things – like number-one among males 25-54, number-one AM radio program in the time slot, and so forth.)  We’d simply say to the potential advertiser, you’re not buying Rush, you’re renting his audience, and that’s what advertising is about.  You want your ad heard/seen by as many people as is possible.

Rush’s show is the number-one radio program in America – and in this case, it means more people listen to Rush when he’s on than any other radio program available – and Rush’s calculated attack on the Georgetown co-ed was nothing more than a ploy to boost sagging ratings.  Rush was doing what he’s done since 1988: whatever it takes to keep his show on top of the ratings.

In a few weeks, Cumulus, one of the largest radio group owners in America, is going to roll out the Mike Huckabee show, to compete directly with Rush in the same time slot.  Clear Channel, the largest radio group owner in the known universe, is keenly aware of this; and is also aware that this move by Cumulus is going to affect Rush’s ratings, hence affect how much money they can charge for ads on Rush’s show. And if you’re following the game at all, you know that radio today is leveraged to the hilt and it’s the unsustainable debt that’s killing the industry by forcing it to shed payroll (i.e., shed talent).

Rush’s ratings have been slowly but steadily declining; Cumulus is mounting a viable challenge; Rush is doing what he has always done, creating some huge stir that boosts his ratings back up.  And, that’s exactly what happened yesterday.  His ratings skyrocketed.

And, in a couple weeks when this latest flap with Rush has disappeared from the news cycles, the sponsors who suspended their ad schedules will be right back on the air with Rush.

I am not in any way defending any aspect of what Rush said.  It was disgusting, unfair, extremely objectionable, and downright nasty.

But it did what it was calculated to do: raise ratings.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who Could Do Such A Thing?

When I saw the picture above, of a young Milwaukee boy named Toby, and read the brief news account which said he’d been abandoned and was in the custody of Child Protective Services, I wondered what sort of heartless bastard could abandon a little boy like this, and I actually teared up.

I handed my iPad with Toby’s picture to my wife and said “can you imagine someone abandoning this kid at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee”?  We both shook our heads and commented on what a cold, cruel place the world can be.

I saw the story on Twitter – the de facto source for all breaking news these days – and the face of that sweet, innocent boy haunted me.  My mind kept coming back to the story, thinking “who could do such a thing?”  The world is full of enough dangers for anyone’s 3-year-old child, but to think that someone had dumped this kid at a McDonald’s on Mayfair at Burleigh in Wauwatosa and just left him to fend for himself – well, that’s a new depth of depravity.

Initial reports said the boy spent the night with the manager of the McDonald’s when no one came to get him by closing time, and that Wauwatosa police were going to extraordinary means to try and find out who this little boy’s people might be….and in the meantime, they’d taken him to Child Protective Services.

Decades of work in the nooz biz have left me pretty jaded – I’ve seen some horrible stuff – but Toby’s face kept popping up in my mind.

As it turns out, the cops asked the Milwaukee media to show this picture of Toby, requesting anyone who recognized the little boy to call the cops.  Toby’s mother saw the picture and rushed to the police station.

Toby is in one of those horrible custody tug-of-war battles between two apparently clueless adults.  Toby’s grandma dropped him off at the McDonald’s, which has been the designated drop-off point for several weeks.  Usually one of the parents comes to pick him up, but….nobody showed up.

How could any adult leave a 3-year-old child to fend for himself, without waiting until the other person actually showed up to take charge of the child?  C’mon, gramma….what kind of person are you?

As of this writing, Wauwatosa police and Child Protective Services have quite a few more questions to ask of Toby’s parents, and both agencies say they have to sort through a lot of details to determine whether Toby is better off with one of his parents – or in another situation.

Regardless of court-ordered custody arrangements, “misunderstandings”, parental disputes, and poor parenting and grandparenting….who could do such a thing to this child?