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Madison Alder Marsha Rummel Is “Trump-Like”

June 25, 2017

When reading today’s Wisconsin State Journal I had to laugh out loud, and in so doing brought two walkers who live in my neighborhood closer so we could all talk and get a smile from the column by Chris Rickert.

In defending his veto of the chief-of-staff position on Tuesday, Soglin hurled perhaps the most cutting insult that can be hurled at a liberal these days at perhaps the council’s most liberal member, President Marsha Rummel: He accused her of being Trump-like. 

Rummel’s June 16 statement on why she was seeking to override the veto is “an effort to bring the kind of discussion about facts from Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump into this body,” he said. “It is disgraceful.”

I have long felt that Rummel is perhaps the most factually distorted and clueless member of Madison’s City Council.  To see Rummel in action is to witness the problems of democracy.

Madison has the biggest council, at 20, of any of Wisconsin’s 10 biggest cities. It’s more than twice the size of councils in many U.S. cities with similar populations, such as Buffalo, New York, and Lubbock, Texas. With the addition of the chief of staff position, it will have access to four staffers. The mayor has 11 on his staff, but then the mayor answers to the entire city, council members to just their districts.

I was asked by several folks in my immediate neighborhood this past election cycle for alder, as well as some outside this district, to seek a contest with Rummel.  For several reasons I chose not to seek office.  But the cornerstone of why some wanted me to run, and why there is a need to have Rummel take up a new hobby outside politics, remains very clear.

When the mayor makes a strong statement about the foolish and unprofessional way Rummel tries to do her job that then sends notice to voters that there is a problem with the alder.  Many of us in this district have understood that fact for years.  Now the whole city is a witness.

Rummel may want competent city staff for the council. But first she needs to recognize the need for competent alders.   Starting with the person she sees in the mirror.

State Supreme Court Ruling On Madison’s Pro-Golfers

June 25, 2017

Last week on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal  a story appeared that made me aware (again) of how long it takes for the legal process to play out.  On Thursday four golf professionals learned they can now sue the city of Madison over claims their contracts with the city were terminated in 2012 without good cause.

There was a great deal of conversation about the matter when the city council allowed the professionals to be axed for budgetary reasons.  Some lauded the move as necessary, others argued the move was short-sighted and sure to be mired in legal action.

One can claim there were fiscal reasons that prompted the move, but as the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 5-2  there was clearly plenty of reasons to justify why the four men needed to mount a legal challenge.  What happened was nothing short of what I suspect every lawyer wants to have happen in a legal career.  Pursue a case that ends in establishing a new precedent.  Which is what took place.

The court ruled Madison is subject to the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law, which governs contractual obligations between those who sell goods or services and those who benefit from the sales, and rejected the city’s assertion it was protected from such lawsuits under governmental immunity.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Annette Ziegler, concluded that the golf pros’ contracts were “dealerships” under the law, and as such could only be terminated for cause. The city ended the contracts in 2012 and replaced the four longtime pros with one golf pro, some assistant golf pros and unionized concession workers as a cost-cutting move.

There are of course some in the city–perhaps even many–who disagree with the ruling.

In a political sense Mayor Paul Soglin is correct to label the broad ruling a “classic example of right-wing hypocrisy.”  After all the conservative members of the court who like to tout a rigid way of doing their work on the bench when it suits them did alter the legislative intent of the law to come to a ruling as it pertains to this case.  But to be fair to the conservatives they also just used the language that is now part of legal dictionaries.  The ruling notes the law’s definition of a “person” includes a corporation, and the city is a “municipal corporation.”

As one who thinks laws are always demanding to be viewed and altered to stay in sync with the times and needs of society allows me to be comfortable with this ruling.   I suspect many people at large  agree with that foundation when it comes to laws and our courts.

While I have tremendous regard for Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who strongly dissented in the case, the fact was the four professional golfers and their attorneys found a legal rock to stand on and aggressively demonstrated to a court the power and correctness of their positions.

Expanding the breadth of a law to cover the men and thus allow for their suit may rattle some inside local government.  But perhaps this will also alert those who at times make short-sighted decisions–for some fiscal reason–to stop and think about the ramifications of such actions.  After all, at the time this issue was making headlines in 2012, there were those who warned of the consequences.

The court’s action last week sends the lawsuit back to Dane County Circuit Court.  At one point the pros were seeking $1.8 million in compensation.

Bernie Sanders And The Unanswered Questions

June 25, 2017

During the 2016 election there was talk about the actions of Mrs. Sanders and Burlington College.  Now that discussion is once again in the national news coverage.

CBS News reports.

Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane Sanders have hired prominent defense attorneys amid an FBI investigation into a loan Jane Sanders obtained to expand Burlington College while she was its president.

According to Politico prosecutors might also be looking into allegations that Sen. Sanders’ office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan.

Oh, Gosh, there goes the theory that Bernie was so above and better than others in politics.

There Is Trouble In Paradise

June 25, 2017

Colorado Republican power couple Rep. Mike Coffman and state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman have filed for divorce. The Coffmans are breaking up after 12 years of marriage.  

“After much soul-searching we have made the painful decision to get a divorce,” they said in a written statement obtained by Colorado Politics and the Gazette. “This has been a difficult choice for both of us and we ask our friends and supporters for their understanding. We have a great deal of respect for each other and will remain each other’s strongest supporters in whatever we do in our continued service to the people of Colorado.”

The congressman and his wife were together for seven years before marrying in 2005. Their wedding was right before Coffman deployed to Iraq as a marine.

It was the second marriage for both.


Madison’s Shake The Lake Organizers Throw A Foul With Late Start For Fireworks Show

June 25, 2017

All the little boy wanted to see was the fireworks show.  All day long he was pumped and ready for what had been talked about for weeks and promoted heavily in the area.  His older sister was also enthused about the nighttime display that was to be performed over Lake Monona.

But for those kids and others who had converged on the isthmus, and had to deal with a rain and wind storm that moved through the area three hours earlier, could only look forward to a 30 minute delay which meant the first colorful burst did not take place until shortly after 10:30 P.M.

As I was walking in the area of B.B. Clarke Beach I spoke with a young couple who were walking away with their blanket.  It was 10:15 and I quickly asked why they were departing.  One of them taught a Sunday School class, the show had not yet started, was slated to last 30 minutes, and then there would be the crush of people wanting to leave.  It would just make for a too late of a night.  They were not pleased.

The saddest thing I saw was that little boy who had been so excited, and was so tired along with his sister, being taken home 20 minutes after the show had been scheduled to start.

Simply put the organizers of Shake The Lake have some explaining to do.

First, such an event–especially for parents–can mean a very long day.  Kids are excited and even though they are tired the main event is what drives them forward.  Once it begins they can place being tired on hold and be thrilled with the show.  But waiting and might I add–needlessly waiting–is hard for kids and tougher for parents to handle.

I saw several kids being led from the park with their blankets and coolers when the show did not start on time.  It was really not the way the evening should have ended.

I know it rained earlier in the evening and the music at the stage set up further down the lake shore was delayed.  I also just know that some vendors felt they had not sold enough beer.  So when the fireworks were to have started the music was still continuing.    But you know what?   That is just too bad.  That is the price of being in business and needing to perhaps bite a little less in profits than was anticipated.   The bottom line was the show should have started on time!

The last thing that should have happened was for the huge crowds assembled all along the lake to stand and wonder what in heck was the reason for the delay.  Worse was to have kids carried home unable to see the color and hear the booms.

The Survivors Of Gun Bullets

June 24, 2017

Amazing read.

When a bullet pierces flesh, it ripples through the tissue in a chaotic fury. It will inevitably shred nerves, blood vessels and muscle. It might fracture bone. Deposit in an organ. Or zip out through another body part, leaving blood to ooze from the open pit.

Sometimes, the bullet carves a fatal path: About 36,000 Americanswere killed by a firearm in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of those deaths — almost two-thirds — were the result of suicide and involved mostly men 45 and older taking their own lives. Another third of deaths were linked to homicides, while the remaining sliver involved accidental shootings.

Most often, however, the bullet fails to kill: In 2015, nearly 85,000 people who were treated in emergency rooms survived. For those gunshot victims, their wounds were likely non-life-threatening — in either the legs or arms, National Institutes of Health data show. A smaller percentage of assaults or accidental shootings involved getting struck in the head or neck, with only about one-third of those victims surviving long enough to reach a hospital.

An example from the read.

Shot by accident

Benedict Jones

The bullet entered Benedict Jones’ neck, cutting into an artery and embedding fragments of bone into his spinal cord. In 1991, Jones was 11 and invited a friend over to his Bloomington, Indiana, home while his parents were away. Jones’ father kept a collection of firearms, including a loaded .38-caliber handgun. The boys became curious. Clutching the weapon, Jones’ friend was four or five feet away when he accidentally fired point-blank at Jones’ throat. Jones became one of more than 1,000 children unintentionally injured by guns each year, according to the CDC. The shooting left him paralyzed: He has no feeling from the chest down, but retains some movement in his arms. Twenty-six years later, Jones struggles with daily spasms and endures the emotional weight of what it means to be “normal.”

Philando Castile And The Second Amendment

June 24, 2017

The NRA, once again, should be ashamed. 

The decision in the Castile case differed from other, similar cases of police violence in that it highlighted a kind of divided heart of Second Amendment conservatism, at least with regard to race. David French, in National Review, called the decision a miscarriage of justice. He wrote, “Castile was following Yanez’s commands, and it’s simply false that the mere presence of a gun makes the encounter more dangerous for the police. It all depends on who possesses the gun. If he’s a concealed-carry permit-holder, then he’s in one of the most law-abiding demographics in America.” Colion Noir, an African-American gun-rights activist who serves as the face of the N.R.A.’s black-outreach campaign, also criticized the decision, writing in an online post that Yanez’s mistakes cost Castile his life, and that “covert racism is a real thing and is very dangerous.” In the days after the shooting, the N.R.A. itself had offered only a tepid response, without mentioning Castile’s name: “The reports from Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated. In the meantime, it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing. Rest assured, the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.” After Yanez was acquitted, it said nothing at all. Noir, in his post, also questioned whether Yanez would have had the same reaction had a white motorist identified himself as armed. The same might be asked of the N.R.A.’s non-reaction to the verdict.

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