Category Archives: Politics – Wisconsin

Shhhhhhh… I’m Hunting Woodchucks

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if you shot it in the butt?

Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Tom Tiffany began circulating the bill for co-sponsors Thursday. The measure would remove woodchucks from the state’s protected species list and establish a hunting season for them from the beginning of July through the end of December with no bag limits. The legislators say the animal is abundant and they’ve heard complaints about woodchucks eating gardens and flowerbeds and causing damage by burrowing along sidewalks, driveways and building foundations.

We had a couple of woodchucks in our yard a few years ago. The local hawks took care of them.

Walker Walks Fine Line on School Referendum

This looks like something of a semantic argument.

BLANCHARDVILLE (WKOW) — Gov. Scott Walker told 27 News Thursday he does not want to penalize school districts that increase operating revenues through referendum votes, putting him at odds with some Republican lawmakers who put forth that proposal last month.

Walker made those comments after speaking to students at Pecatonica High School.

[…]

“The question might be whether or not the aidable assistance goes up. realistically, if there was anything, that would be more of the adjustment, it wouldn’t be taking money away,” said Gov. Walker. “It would just a be a question of whether you’d be giving more to those districts who choose to do that, because one of the other complaints I hear from school districts is, if they choose not to do that, they feel like they’re penalized if they operate within their budgets and somebody else goes beyond that. But I certainly wouldn’t penalize it.”

As I read that comment, Walker does not want to “penalize” school districts that pas an operating referendum, but he is okay with an “adjustment.” Walker is saying that if a school district wants to increase their taxes and spending through a referendum, that’s fine, but state taxpayers won’t be kicking in anything extra.

Partial Repeal of Minimum Markup Law Introduced

Huzzah, huzzah.

[Madison, Wisc…] On Tuesday, Sens. Vukmir and Craig and Reps. Ott and Murphy introduced a bill to repeal portions of Wisconsin’s antiquated Unfair Sales Act. Also known as the minimum markup law, the Unfair Sales Act mandates higher prices and outlaws the sale of retail goods at below cost.

The minimum markup law requires that alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel are marked up 3 percent at the wholesale level, 6 percent at the retail level for alcohol and tobacco, and 9.18 percent at the retail level for motor fuel. It also forbids retailers from selling most other products below cost.

The Unfair Sales Act is a depression era relic of big government protecting the profits of businesses by limiting competition. The whole thing should be tossed into the dust bin. This is not the first time a bill to repeal some or all of it has been introduced and every attempt has failed. Why? Because there are a lot of Wisconsin businesses who like the law because it guarantees them a minimum level of profit and prevents their competitors from beating them on price. Who loses? Consumers who pay unnecessarily inflated prices.

This time it looks like Vukmir and Ott have limited the repeal to only cover alcohol, tobacco, and fuel. I assume this is an attempt to reduce the amount of opposition to the bill from the retail business lobby. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will work. Those same lobbyists will fight this bill because it would open up a crack in the law that could be expanded in subsequent sessions.

I completely support this bill and encourage my representatives to do the same.

Washington County Board Considers Moving Back to Old Courthouse

I look forward to seeing the results of the study.

Members of the Executive Committee convened a meeting Monday, but instead of gathering at the Washington County Government Center, they chose to assemble at the former Washington County Courthouse as an experiment for organizing future board meetings at the site.

Committee supervisors provided their blessing to evaluate the feasibility of moving the board’s meeting location because the venue does not provide adequate access for the public, especially for those with disabilities since the room does not conform to the American with Disabilities Act.

“It was brought up because of the ADA issues really in the current board room,” Clerk Ashley Reichert said.

It would be cool for the board to meet in such a historic building, but I’m not keen on paying more taxes for “cool.” I do think it is a bit funny that the Washington County Government Center, built a couple of decades ago, is not ADA compliant but the building built in 1889 is.

Dairy farmers feel slap of the Invisible Hand

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. In this age of populism and protectionism, it is bound to be unpopular. Here it is:

Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers with thousands of cows received a letter a few weeks ago that spoiled their year. Grassland, the company that had been buying their milk, told the farmers that they could no longer buy the farmers’ milk because of a new Canadian policy that has dried up the demand for American milk. The calls for government action throw kindling on the friction between Americans who believe in free trade and those who support protectionist policies.

The price of milk for Canadian dairy processors is set by the Canadian Dairy Commission. The way they set prices was based on a complicated process, but the end result is that the price that Canadian dairy farmers received for milk was substantially higher than in the rest of the world. By comparison, a Canadian dairy farmer received almost 50 percent more for his or her milk than an American farmer.

This artificial pricing sounds great for Canadian dairy farmers, but economies are dynamic and protectionist policies rarely have the desired effect. Canada’s participation in NAFTA and trade agreements with the European Union and other entities give other countries fairly free access to Canadian markets to sell their goods — including milk. While the high price of milk for Canadian dairy farmers sounds good on paper, the actual result is that Canadian dairy processors were buying most of their milk from American dairy farmers because it was cheaper. In other words, Wisconsin dairy farmers were directly benefiting from what was supposed to be a protectionist policy by Canada to prop up prices for their own dairy farmers.

The new pricing policy from the Canadian Dairy Commission would allow Canadian dairy producers to buy milk at whatever the global price is. The new policy is arguably promoting freer trade by dropping an artificial price of milk and allowing it to fluctuate with global supply and demand. Canadian dairy farmers will no longer get the higher prices for their milk, but they will be able to sell more of it. Canadian dairy processors and consumers will benefit from saving the cost of transporting milk from distant places. Wisconsin dairy farmers are being hurt by the policy because the artificial demand for their product that was created by the old Canadian policies has now dried up. While the new policy is arguably freer than the old policy, there is no question that it favors Canadian dairy farmers over foreign ones.

With so many Wisconsin families hurting, one question is what, if anything, should our government do in response? In an increasingly rare bout of bipartisanship, both of Wisconsin’s U.S. senators are calling upon the Trump administration to do something about the new Canadian

policy. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has called the policy an “unfair trade scheme” and Sen. Ron Johnson said Wisconsin dairy farmers should not be “victims of a trade dispute they didn’t start.”

What should the American government do? Should the Trump administration demand that Canada reinstate artificially high milk process for their own dairy producers? Should America enact retaliatory protectionist policies on other goods?

The free trade of goods and services in a market economy has proven to be the most efficient and economical way to align supply with demand. The United States has been a perfect example of this. Our large, diverse national land mass means that our nation has a diverse and robust internal economy that allows for specialization. Instead of Wisconsin having to try to provide our own milk, beef, oranges, wheat, iron, copper, etc., the lack of trade barriers with other states allows Wisconsin to focus on developing the natural abundances within our state and buy the natural abundances of other states. As Adam Smith said, “never attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.”

The same is true in a global economy. Free trade is the most efficient, economical and fair way to allocate scarce resources to the greatest benefit of the most people.

But getting to that greatest benefit means that some folks will feel the sting when they are slapped by the invisible hand. Problems arise when we react to that inevitable sting by trying to protect that which the market no longer needs.

Wisconsin’s dairy farmers have benefited for years by an ill-conceived Canadian milk pricing policy and are feeling the sting of that policy being changed.

Our reaction should not be to enact further barriers to trade and further distort the market. Instead, our reaction should be to help our dairy farmers find a new market for their milk, or help them reallocate their resources to produce something for which there is market demand.

Walker Signs Project Labor Agreement Neutrality Law

Great!

De Pere – Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 3 into law today at Amerilux International, LLC in De Pere. The bill promotes neutrality in the bidding process for public works projects as well as healthy competition between contractors.

“Accountable government means ensuring our taxpayers receive quality service,” Governor Walker said. “By forbidding state and local governments from requiring contractors to enter into agreements with labor organizations, we’re promoting healthy competition between contractors. At the end of the day, this means the contractor ultimately chosen for the project is the one that has demonstrated excellent service and will work at good value for Wisconsin taxpayers.”

Government Safety Net

Literally.

(CNN)The Golden Gate Bridge has a problem: horrifyingly high suicide rates. The community has a solution: a net covering the perimeter of the bridge.

It sounds like a simple response to a complex problem, but the barrier is a big task. In May, crews will begin to erect fencing along the approaches and tower legs, but that deterrent is only temporary. From there, workers will take careful measurements to begin installing a net that extends 20 feet out along both sides of the 1.7 mile long bridge.
The installation will begin in 2018 and the Golden Gate Bridge, Transportation and Highway District expects construction to be completed in 2021.
And this isn’t your average net. It will be constructed from stainless steel — light enough to be inconspicuous, but strong enough to save lives.
[…]
Costing $211 million to design, plan, and construct, the project is a group effort. The funds are coming from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, state mental health provisions and private donations.
Isn’t it interesting that a city that prides itself on free expression and individual liberty (as long as it’s liberal) would deny people the ability to kill themselves? Who are they to interrupt someone exercising an alternative deathstyle?
Also, if someone jumps off of the bridge and lands in the net, couldn’t they just crawl over to the edge of the net and jump again? It’s not as if the slightly reduced distance is any less deadly.
$211 million and three years to put up a 3.4 mile net… only in government.

Roggensack Reelected Chief Justice of WI Supreme Court

Great!

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack will continue to serve in that role for another two years.

Justices on the court have voted to keep Roggensack in the position, which she has held since a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2015 that changed the process for naming the chief justice. Prior to the amendment’s passage, the position was held by the most senior member of the state Supreme Court – which is currently Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

This story reminded me of how things used to be when Abrahamson ran the court. Remember how dysfunctional and controversial the court had become? There were stories of bitter fights, open hatred, and it all spilled into the public resulting in vicious campaigns and partisan warfare.

Now? Not so much. The court appears to be running pretty well and people are generally happy with its functioning – as evidenced by the fact that Justice Ziegler just ran for reelection unopposed. What a difference a change in leadership makes.

Middle Class Hit Hard by Wisconsin’s Income Tax

From the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

MADISON—With tax season fresh in mind, many residents know that Wisconsin’s individual income tax ranks relatively high among the states, 12th highest according to available federal figures. What is not well known is that rank varies depending on taxpayer income from as high as 10th to as low as 32nd. A new analysis from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) shows that middle-income filers with taxable incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 are particularly affected.

For a hypothetical married couple in that range, income taxes rise surprisingly quickly as income increases. Drawing in part on calculations from the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, WISTAX found that:

– At $20,000, a typical couple owes -$591; that is, no tax is owed and a refund of $591 is received. That is 51% below the national average (-$391), and places the state 32nd among the 41 states with income taxes. At $35,000, the Wisconsin burden (+$125) is 65% below the US average (+$353) and ranks 25th.

– At $50,000, the typical Badger State bill is $1,383, 19th highest and on par with the US norm ($1,358).

– Over the next $100,000 of taxable income, however, state income taxes here jump quickly compared to the average. At $75,000, a Wisconsin bill averages $2,811, 13th highest and 16.4% above the US mean ($2,415). At $100,000 of income—appropriate for spouses each with $50,000 of taxable income—the state burden is again 16.4% above average ($4,297 vs. $3,693) and ranks even higher (10th). Finally, at the $150,000 level, the average Wisconsin tax ($7,069) ranks 13th, 13.7% above average ($6,217). At higher income levels, burdens were 7.8% to 15.4% above average, with ranks in the 13th to 18th range.

Why are income taxes relatively high on middle-income filers? One reason is that they are the state’s main revenue source : “With only 10% to 15% of income either under $40,000 or above $500,000, the state turns to those between $40,000 and $150,000—where over half of income to tax is found,” notes WISTAX President Todd A. Berry.

Prevailing Wage Repeal Reintroduced

Good.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R–Brookfield, and Rep. Rob Hutton, R–Brookfield, Tuesday reintroduced a bill that would repeal Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law for state projects following the announcement the initiative was removed from the budget last week.

“As lawmakers we have a responsibility to manage the transportation budget efficiently,” Vukmir said in a news release. “It’s unrealistic to do so without the accessibility of all tools. Repealing this burdensome red tape will ensure the use of taxpayer dollars are maximized.”

“Two years ago we passed prevailing wage reform for local governments,” Hutton said in the release. “It is now time to finish what we started and pass full prevailing wage repeal. As we look at the transportation budget this spring, we must ensure taxpayers are receiving the best value for their tax dollars.”

In the 2015-17 budget, the prevailing wage requirement was repealed for local governments, including towns, cities, counties and school districts beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. Now local governments can receive competitive bids for projects that don’t include unreasonably high prevailing wage costs, the lawmakers said

Lautenschlager’s Son Announces Bid for AG

Well, well… Peg Lautenschlager abruptly resigned as chair of the state’s Ethics Commission and now we know why.

Madison attorney Josh Kaul, son of former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, announced Monday that he will run for his mother’s old job next year.

He’s the first Democrat to challenge incumbent Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel for the right to run the state Department of Justice.

Kaul accused Schimel of using the DOJ’s solicitor general’s office to challenge former President Barack Obama’s policies in court. He also ripped Schimel’s decision to spend $10,000 on DOJ coins emblazoned with “Kicking Ass Every Day” and accused of Schimel of not enforcing the state’s consumer protection and environmental laws.

Transgender Folks Sue UW for Free Surgery

One lawsuit to drive up taxes AND health care costs. Awesome

MADISON – Two transgender University of Wisconsin employees sued state entities Friday in federal court over their refusal to pay for their gender transition surgeries.

The two employees sued the UW System, the Board of Regents, insurers and others with the assistance of the national and Wisconsin arms of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“As a result of (state policies), plaintiffs’ health insurance plans single out transgender employees for unequal treatment by categorically depriving them of all medical care for gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Madison.

A Message From Our Mayor

It has been 6 years since this community first trusted then elected me to be its’ Mayor.  Thank you for re-electing me to a 3rd term this past week.  Even though I ran unopposed, I used the occasion to reflect on our recent accomplishments and to listen to the public regarding their questions about the future.  Through those discussions, several common themes arose:

  • City Staff – our leadership team has several new faces and new professionals dedicated to improving West Bend. We recently welcomed Michelle Hoey as our HR Director and Stephanie Justman as City Clerk.  Jay Shambeau, hired last fall, is up-to-speed and well on his way to being the leader of our organization.
  • New Development is strong.
    • Soon to be opened Meijer and recently opened Delta Defense corporate headquarters will be joined by a 110,000 square foot home to Extra Space Storage on the City’s south side. Located in our Corporate Center, this state of the art, climate controlled facility continues the trend of high quality new development entering our market.
    • Nationally and locally a strong point of new residential development is in the apartment and rental markets. While the City has not rezoned any new green field property for multi-family since I have been Mayor, we are seeing strong demand for new, urban, non-subsidized rental units.  Generally geared toward both empty nesters and younger aged singles we expect properties already zoned appropriately and in-fill sites to be attractive.  Staff, the Council and Plan Commission are focused on following our strategic plan(s) to ensure a positive mix of single and multi-family options are available.
  • Partnerships are a key to ensuring efficiently run operations and help create a strong link between city hall and the public.
    • After several years of planning, construction is underway on the shared Washington County/City of West Bend employee on-site health clinic. Housed at the County this partnership is a fantastic example of your governments breaking down barriers and working together for the benefit of our employees as well as the public.
    • I recently had the honor of addressing the full team of West Bend Mutual employees. This organization was born here and I am proud they choose to continue to call West Bend home.  They exemplify the very fabric of who West Bend is.  Their entrepreneurial spirit and high quality work environment is only matched by their commitment to being the best corporate citizen we could hope for.  Their nature and positive influence is felt in every corner of our community.
  • Whenever I am at a community leader conference, without exception, our strong downtown environment is brought up. Other communities are begging to find out our ‘secret’.  I let them know the formula is simple.  A strong dose of gutsy entrepreneurs combined with great cultural attractions such as MOWA and an appropriate amount of public support equals a vibrant and exciting city center campus.
    • After 4 years of planning we have reached the stage where revitalizing the east river bank is becoming a reality. Pending final community fundraising efforts, we expect the two phase project to begin in late 2017 and be completed in the spring of 2018.  This combined with improvements unveiled in 2016 will continue the one-of-a-kind rebirth of downtown West Bend.
    • Strong interest in several remaining properties east of the river have the potential of adding significant tax base, high quality development and an exciting mix of commercial and residential opportunities. Progress such as this ensures a consistent flow of users to our businesses and other amenities.
  • Finances are the backbone of what we do and also direct our future.
    • Since 2011, overall City Debt has been reduced by about 20%. Debt levels were uncomfortably high and significant efforts by staff and the Council are getting them to appropriate levels.  We have work to do but we are trending in the right direction.
    • Reserves, once dangerously low, are up about 40% since 2011 and are now within a range our advisors deem acceptable. This was a significant undertaking and will be a focus moving forward.
    • We continue to invest heavily into road maintenance. Once a line item of $750,000 we now allocate almost 40% more annually, or $1,040,000.  This increase combined with recently enacted Prevailing Wage Laws will help us continue to maintain more road miles each year.
    • Overall, the true Cost of Doing Business, our real cost of operating West Bend was 8.8% less in 2016 than it was in 2011. This means we have reduced debt, increased reserves, allocated more toward road maintenance while costing the taxpayers significantly less.  Thank you to all involved.  To me, this is how government should be run.

As we continue through 2017 and already look toward 2018 we will be working hard to ensure we are investing each dollar wisely while also planning ahead guaranteeing a strong future for West Bend.  Please stay tuned, stay involved and thank you once again for allowing me to serve.

Kraig K. Sadownikow

Mayor – City of West Bend

Some Election Thoughts

You can find the full election results for Washington County here. Here are a few random thoughts.

First, turnout was pathetic. Only 16.67% of Washington County’s voters turned out. I realize that there wasn’t a lot on the ballot to draw people to the polls, but that’s truly pathetic.

Second, with the low turnout, it appears that the liberal voters of Washington County were more reliable at turning out. The race for DPI Superintendent makes that clear. Here are the results in that race:

super

Here’s what one always has to measure in this county… the election results for years show that Washington County is roughly 70% conservative. So if there was 100% turnout, the conservative candidate should pull about 70% of the vote. If liberals disproportionately stay home, then that percentage will be higher. If conservatives disproportionately stay home, then that percentage will be lower. And while that metric is county wide, it generally holds true in most elections in the county except in a few wards.

In this case, Holtz was clearly the conservative choice. This was a very clear election. While Holtz won the election in Washington County, he only did so with 53.53% of the vote. That tells us that conservatives disproportionately sat home this time.

Third, the three candidates who ran as a ticket for the West Bend School Board won. Here are the results:

sb

Congrats to them. All three of them ran as conservatives on a platform of transparency, accountability, and fiscal discipline. I truly hope that they are able to follow through on their platform.

This election marks a new era for the school board in a few respects. The three who won did so with a coordinated, well-financed campaign. This was the first time I recall seeing this happen for a school board race in West Bend. There have been candidates in the past who were of like minds and fell into factions together, but these three ran as a unified party. One assumes that they will govern the same way. They also ran a campaign differently than many in the past. The campaign had echos of the campaign of Tiffany Larson, which makes sense since Schmidt was Larson’s campaign treasurer. It was a sophisticated campaign for a school board.

The board itself is very different now. Combined with Larson, this group of like minds has a governing majority on the board. And with the resignation of Therese Sizer last month, they will also choose the interim replacement for that seat. That gives them five seats on a seven seat board. It’s their school district now. I look forward to the new era of transparency and accountability from the West Bend School District.

The turnover on the board is also significant. Unless they choose an old board member to replace Sizer, only two board members will have been on the board more than 2 years. That’s a lot of rookies. And only three of the board members voted to hire the district’s new superintendent – and that was just last year! What that means is that the superintendent is working with almost an entirely different board than the one that hired him. That presents a lot of opportunities and challenges to the superintendent.

Fourth, Milwaukee County voters overwhelmingly voted down as advisory referendum for a $60 wheel tax, but County Executive Chris Abele is still promising to propose it in his next budget. This seems to make it clear that Abele will not be running for Governor next year. He would be a fool to charge this windmill on the eve of a gubernatorial run.

Fifth, I haven’t seen a full report on school referendums, but it looks like they did not fare as well as they have in the previous few years. Referendums were voted down in Arrowhead, Burlington, Hustisford, Menomonee Falls, and West Allis-West Milwaukee, but passed in Verona and Grafton. The Mayville referendum passed by a mere 13 votes. Still, districts across Wisconsin added hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that will take generations to repay.

Finally, it is still amazing to me that Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler was unchallenged. These Supreme Court races had become wars of legendary proportions as the Left tried to secure the court in their favor as they continue to lose elections in the other branches of government. If the liberals could have unseated Ziegler and then Gableman next year, they could have taken control of the court. Now, even if they win against Gableman, the court will still have a majority of judicial conservatives. Given how important the court is – and the liberals know it – I can only attribute the lack of a challenger to the fact that Wisconsin’s liberals are worn out and their bench is empty. It seems that the only area where they are having consistent success anymore is in a few liberal enclaves and in the schools.

Another Election Day is Here

Be sure to get out and vote today. There are only three contested races on my ballot this cycle.

First, there is the contested election for the West Bend School Board. I’ll be voting for Ryan Gieryn, Bob Miller, and Richard Cammack. You can read why here.

Second, there is the election for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. I’ll be voting for Lowell Holtz. You can see why here.

Third, Judge Todd Martens is defending his seat as a Washington County Circuit Court Judge from challenger Robert Olson. I hadn’t written about this election, but I’ll be voting for Martens. Essentially, I have not heard anything negative about how Martens has been ruling or running his court. There isn’t a compelling reason to change.

Olson, who is a practicing attorney in West Bend and has represented clients in front of Martens, has brought up some serious concerns about the fairness of Martens’ courtroom and doubt about whether defendants are getting a fair shake. Those are very serious concerns. I think we all want a fair judicial system. That being said, I have not seen any evidence to back up Olson’s concerns. I’ll be voting for Martens, but we should all watch our judges a little closer to make sure they are fair and balanced, so to speak.

This is one of those elections where turnout will likely be below 20% statewide. That means that each individual vote carries a bit more weight. Get out and vote! 

Taking back our civil rights

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Shortly after the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, James Madison, whom John Adams labeled the “father of the Constitution,” began the arduous task of defending the intricate document signed by his fellow conventioneers and advocating for the state Legislatures to ratify it. The birth of a new nation was not to be had without some painful moments.

One of the immediate and most forceful attacks on the new Constitution came from his fellow Virginian, Richard Henry Lee. Lee was a powerful politician, forceful orator and fierce advocate for liberty. It was Lee who had called for the original resolution to break from Britain at the Second Continental Congress in 1776. But Lee turned his political prowess against the fledgling Constitution because he was fearful of the strong central government it created.

In order to retard the power of the new federal government, Lee proposed a declaration of rights that was to include the freedom of religion and the press. Madison was flabbergasted by the proposal because it was, in his mind, utterly unnecessary. The Constitution was firmly secured to the foundation that all power and rights rested in the People except for those few specific powers ceded to the government as enumerated in the Constitution. It was a bedrock enlightenment philosophical concept as articulated by the likes of Thomas Paine and John Locke.

Madison initially saw danger in what became the Bill of Rights because to enumerate specific individual rights to be protected by the Constitution would lead some to think that those rights not specifically enumerated for protection are within the power of government to restrict or rescind. This is why the 10th Amendment became a catch-all for rights not listed.

Madison eventually came around to support and author the Bill of Rights as a practical necessity to assure skittish state legislators and secure their support for ratifying the Constitution, but Madison’s fears were prescient. The natural momentum of government is to expand its power and our federal government has often run roughshod over natural rights not enumerated in the Constitution, as amended. But our government has also not been shy about trampling those rights that are singled out for protection.

That is not to say that all rights are absolute. It is the appropriate function of government to intervene and set boundaries when one right rubs up against another. For example, it is undeniably my right to speak out and protest against my government. But the government can, and should, deny that right to me if I try to do it on another citizen’s private property. The government can, and should, also restrict certain rights in a more systematic way when there is a substantial or pressing government interest to do so. But the standard for what constitutes a “substantial government interest” is, and should be, extraordinarily high.

Since the ratification of our Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms, as enumerated in the Second Amendment, has been steadily eroded thanks to fear, ignorance, and opportunistic politicians. For the first several decades, this right was rarely restricted. People regularly carried firearms either openly or concealed.

During Reconstruction after the Civil War, a wave of restrictions to the Second Amendment swept over the South as a means for the federal government to maintain order and, as white southerners regained

control of their state legislatures, to suppress black Americans. Subsequent waves of government restrictions of the Second Amendment came as politicians took advantage of various opportunities to disarm the public. New York City required its citizens to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm in 1911 after a brazen murder-suicide in broad daylight. Mayor Daley ordered that all firearms in Chicago be registered in 1968.

All of these restrictions of the Second Amendment grew out of fear, hate, ignorance, and complacency without anything that could rationally be called a “substantial government interest.” A couple of decades ago, Americans began to take back their Second Amendment rights with the steady loosening of gun laws in states and the universal legalization of concealed carry. Despite the lamentations of opponents, the evidence is clear that the public did not suffer any negative consequences of this movement. In fact, the data points to several possible benefits like lower crime. The nation’s most crime-ridden bastions remain those with the strictest remaining gun control laws.

The next progression in reclaiming our Second Amendment rights is the passage of what has been termed “Constitutional Carry,” and it has been introduced in Wisconsin. Constitutional Carry is simply the return to how our Second Amendment was originally conceived and how it was enforced for most of the first century of our nation’s history. Free Americans who have not committed a serious crime and who are mentally competent would be free to own and carry a firearm in any manner they so choose. All of the other restrictions, like respecting private property rights, would remain in place.

Opponents of Constitutional Carry rest their arguments in the same irrational fear and hate as those who opposed concealed carry. “It will be like the Wild West with blood in the streets,” etc. But history and facts disprove their arguments. As of right now, 12 other states already have Constitutional Carry. One of them, Vermont, has had Constitutional Carry since the Constitution was ratified in 1791. Alaska has had it for 23 years. Liberal New Hampshire and Conservative North Dakota both passed Constitutional Carry earlier this year.

None of the states that have Constitutional Carry have experienced any ill effects. The reason is simple and is the same reason why there has been nothing but positive effects since concealed carry was passed six years ago in Wisconsin: concealed carry or Constitutional Carry only really applies to good, law-abiding people. Much to our collective lament, the bad people already practice Constitutional Carry.

We should never allow our government to restrict any of our civil rights without a rigorous debate and an imminently justifiable cause for doing so. And when we have foolishly allowed our government to restrict our civil rights without just cause, we should take every opportunity to take back our rights. Wisconsin should return to Constitutional Carry.

Another Democrats Declines to Challenge Walker

Wow.

MADISON – For the third time this week, a potential challenger to GOP Gov. Scott Walker has ruled out a 2018 run against him.

This time it’s Madison tech executive Mark Bakken, who had been getting attention from Democrats because of his success founding an IT consulting company and because he could have brought formidable financial resources into a race.

In phone calls to close associates Friday, Bakken ruled out a run and said he would focus instead on his business ventures, according to sources who spoke directly with Bakken. The decision increases the chances that trial attorney and state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) could announce a run against Walker, since Wachs is a friend of Bakken’s and would have been unlikely to run against the executive.

What’s interesting is that, on paper, Walker is extremely vulnerable next year. His approval rating is below 50%. Historic trends says that next year should be a big Democratic year. If the Wisconsin Democrats can field a decent candidate, he or she should stand a pretty good chance. And yet, nobody of any prominence is stepping forward for the Democrats. In fact, many of them are pulling their names off of the list early.

I suspect hat two things are at play. First, the Wisconsin Democratic Party is devoid of any top tier talent. The last six years have decimated their bench. Second, Walker isn’t as vulnerable as he appears. He has never polled very high, but his strength lies in his ability to turn out nearly universal and massive turnout of the Republican base. While many conservatives in the base were frustrated with him when he ran for president and went wobbly, he appears to have returned to the fold. The Democrats know this too and no prominent Democrats wants to be the next Burke or Barrett and have their political careers run aground on the shoals of Isla Walker.

The Democrats have to run someone… theoretically. Who will it be?

Senator Craig Supports Constitutional Carry

Yep.

At a base level, the law would give citizens easier access to their constitutional rights, Craig said.

“This is a constitutional right, this is a fundamental right laid out by the Second Amendment,” he said. “Government should be examining that to determine and make sure people aren’t infringed of their rights.

Giving citizens access to those constitutional rights has panned out well in the past, he said. Already, Wisconsinites do not need a permit or training to carry a gun openly.

“In Wisconsin you can open carry (without a permit),” he said. “Are there any ill consequences of that in Wisconsin of any measurable amount? No, there’s not.”

Permitless concealed carry is already happening in 12 states, Craig said, ranging in ideology from Missouri to “Bernie Sanders’ own home state of Vermont.”

“What makes Wisconsinites any different?” he said. “And if other states are doing this without ill effect, and we’ve had the level of permitless carry in Wisconsin without ill effect, why would we not break down that barrier?”

Look for my column on Tuesday :)

Bait and Switch in Kewaskum

This letter to the editor points out some screwy stuff happening in the Kewaskum School District.

March 28, 2017 – Kewaskum, WI – I have quite a few questions concerning actions by the Kewaskum School Board and how it affects the community. I’m not alone.

An article was published in the Feb. 9, 2017 Kewaskum Statesman, ‘Kewaskum School District Considers New Building Plan.’

It said after 18 months of development by administration, the Long Range Planning Committee, Bray Architect and CD Smith, that 60 days after the referendum passed a board member indicated, “The whole board will be eating crow because it is the right thing to do.”

How can that happen? How do you meet for 18 months and the building plan you forward to referendum is not right?

He brings up a good point. The Kewaskum School Board put a referendum on the ballot to borrow $28.4 million to do some substantial renovations to several buildings. They showed the public a plan, drawings, cost estimates, etc. and touted how they had spent such a long time developing a detailed plan. Here’s what they touted:

Capturetrreede

Then, within 2 months of the voters approving the referendum, the School Board scraps the plan upon which it was based and is going with something else? That has all of the hallmarks of corruption, incompetence, and/or dishonesty.

Shady Dealing at UWO

This stinks.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation bought Chancellor Richard Wells’ home for roughly $120,000 more than it arguably was worth before he retired — the same foundation he’s accused of illegally using to help cement his legacy.

In addition to that windfall, Wells saved roughly $27,000 in Realtor commission because the sprawling, classic midcentury modern ranch house with brick privacy walls never went on the market.
The chancellor continued to live in the house about a half mile from campus rent-free per a standard contract until he moved to Florida 20 months after the sale. After he left, the foundation sank another $62,000 into the 3,247-square-foot home on top of the $450,000 sale price. They updated the kitchen, added a half-bath and coat room, resolved serious water drainage issues and made extensive repairs, including replacing two bulging concrete patios, according to UW-Oshkosh records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request.