County Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz: Cap Times misstated by position regarding Prosser
Dear Editor: In its editorial, “Bruskewitz wrong to try to silence board members,” The Capital Times has completely mischaracterized my position regarding Justice David Prosser and the elected women who have asked him to step aside while there is an investigation of charges that he physically accosted Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The issue is not about “silencing” anyone, but rather the need for elected officials to exercise fairness and good judgment and not politicize serious issues in a way that may compromise the integrity of important institutions.
The claims against Prosser are suspicious on their face, since they were not reported for more than a week after the incident took place. In addition, eye witnesses have reportedly stated that Bradley was the aggressor and Prosser was simply defending himself.
The hypocrisy of the groups and officials calling for Prosser to step down is also transparent. Prosser and Bradley were both involved in the incident. An impartial official would ask both justices (or neither of them) to step down until the facts are known. Ald. Lisa Subeck has revealingly targeted the one party in the incident who she does not support politically. It should also be recognized that Subeck serves with a fellow alder who has allegedly committed a sexual assault, yet she has never issued a press release calling for him to step aside.
Young women who serve as elected officials must consider the damage they do to women’s issues when they prematurely condemn men for violence. I was a member of the Commission on Sensitive Crimes, and I can report that there was a great deal of angst over news reports that assume women are responsible for attacks against them. Subeck and her compatriots are making similarly unfounded assumptions in their calls for premature action regarding Prosser.
Dane County supervisor
Alan Harvey: Apply open meetings law to lawmakers
Dear Editor: While the Supreme Court decision exempting the Legislature from the public notice requirements of the Wisconsin open meetings law is probably legally correct on constitutional separation of powers grounds, the result is poor public policy. When even humble drainage boards and sanitary district commissions across Wisconsin must fully comply with the open meetings law, it makes no sense to exempt the state’s highest deliberative body — the Legislature.
Amending the state constitution to fix this glaring inconsistency deserves broad bipartisan support. The need for reform and transparency should not be defined by current political differences at the state Capitol — open government problems have their roots with both political parties.
Open meetings exemptions for legislative caucuses should be eliminated.
The open meetings law and Wisconsin’s other pillar of open government — the open records law — need upgrading to address the rise in problems posed by electronic communications being used to sidestep open government standards. There have been disturbing stories regarding local school boards and municipalities skirting the intent of these laws allegedly because of the need to quickly respond to new fiscal and collective bargaining issues.
Safeguarding openness in state and local government is the bedrock of our democracy.
Hans Noeldner: Our tendencies to outsource responsibility are staggering
Dear Editor: I would say that two worldviews dominate our public discourse. One holds it is the responsibility of government to ensure that people have jobs and that their basic needs are met. The other holds that an unfettered free market will provide sufficient employment (and other means of livelihood), thereby ensuring that people can take care of their own needs.
As divergent as they might first appear, they have much in common. Both assign responsibility to abstractions. Both relegate human behavior to the realm of mechanics. Both trivialize (or worse, ignore) issues of scale in human relationships. One usually demands more taxes (albeit from someone else) while the other invariably demands fewer, but neither demands much else in the way of citizenship. The difference between “The government is my brother’s keeper” and “The market is my brother’s keeper” pales to insignificance when compared to “I am my brother’s keeper.” Our tendencies to outsource responsibility are staggering.
One might think the tremendous political turmoil that has seized us in Wisconsin would have shifted our public debate beyond these two worldviews, but thus far I see little evidence of it. The sustainability and transition movements are still “fringe.” Most on the left, many in the center, and an astonishing number on the right instinctively reject traditional religious prescriptions for the public realm. One might be forgiven for concluding that Ayn Rand and Paul Krugman span the entirety of economic philosophy.
As for me, I find myself returning to the words of Edmund Burke, which I will paraphrase here: “We are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to our disposition to put moral chains upon our own appetites. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Our passions forge our fetters.”
Katrina Kurokawa: Don’t backtrack on protecting lakes
Dear Editor: Part of the wonders of Wisconsin’s geography are the beautiful lakes we all get to enjoy. They provide not only incredible scenery but numerous recreational activities, such as water skiing, boating, fishing, and wake boarding. Having grown up in New York, I always enjoyed the beaches during the summer. However, when I moved to Wisconsin I was pleasantly surprised with how much more I enjoyed the lakes. Water sports and activities in the lakes became my new favorite summer activity.
Having clean, clear water, where one can jump in and enjoy the water without having to worry about pollution and chemicals, is immensely important. For the past year, there have been stronger regulations on the protection of our lakes and streams. Horrifyingly, Gov. Scott Walker has now proposed that we roll back these protections, thus continuing the devastating pollution and toxic weed and algae growth.
This is why I ask our state representatives to support the continuation of protection to our lakes and streams. My hopes are that Sen. Fred Risser, the longest-serving state legislator in Wisconsin history, should understand and appreciate the importance of this issue and support Wisconsin’s lakes and streams.
Michael Fermanich: There are holes in tea party focus
Dear Editor: I have been researching tea party activities when it comes to our democracy in Wisconsin via mission statements, values, issues and other agendas and there seem to be some holes in their focus. On their calendar, recall voting dates are omitted. Why? I would think that would be very important for freedom.
I also see they’re slow on economics dealing with debt and taxes. More people working means more revenue, but they never communicate that theme.
Also they have very little concern about monopolies — who controls not just commodities but politics, culture, religion, media, education and other things. In fact they focus on one opinion as the only opinion or option. Example: no “collective bargaining.” They seem to practice “price control” or “mind control” or “colorful verbiage control” as a solution. They do seem to adore monarchism like good Tories via their partnering with the GOP.
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