Opinion Archives for 2018-05

Letter to the Editor: Support Marsy's Law

By Steven Vickman, Executive Director of HELP of Door County       

While a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Marsy Nicholas was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Shortly after her murder, her brother and mother walked into a grocery store after visiting Marsy's grave and were confronted by her accused murderer. They had no idea he'd been released on bail. The pain experienced by Marsy's family is typical of the pain experienced by many domestic violence victims and their families.

At HELP of Door County, our advocates often see that survivors of domestic abuse feel powerless. Victims feel that they do not have a strong enough voice in the court process. After being brutally attacked, too many victims find that those who kept them in a cycle of violence have a stronger voice and a host of clearly understood rights that they themselves do not have. In many cases, victims have rights that end up being trumped by the rights of the accused, because the victim's right either is not in the Constitution or is not as strongly worded as it could be.

There is a bipartisan proposal in the Wisconsin State Legislature which addresses victim's rights. Marsy's Law for Wisconsin is about giving victims equal constitutional standing to those of the accused and convicted criminals. It enshrines in our State Constitution the rights of those oftentimes powerless victims - providing them with new tools in their journey out of domestic violence situations.

Wisconsin has a long and proud history of standing up for victims, but there is more to do. Marsy's Law for Wisconsin's would address the shortcomings of our current laws in two ways – by making some rights that are currently under state statute fully constitutional rights and by strengthening other rights that are already in the constitution. We are all familiar with the accused being read their Miranda rights – what about a victim's rights?

This legislation has the support of a large and growing bipartisan coalition of legislators, numerous victims' rights organizations, law enforcement groups, attorneys and others – including survivors of abuse in communities across Wisconsin who are supportive of this initiative.

At HELP of Door County, we simply believe that the victims we serve deserve to have rights equal to those of the accused – nothing more and nothing less. If passed in the next legislative session, Marsy's Law for Wisconsin would then come before the voters of Wisconsin for their approval. We hope that all residents of our state will join with us in support of Marsy's Law for Wisconsin so that no family in our state will have to suffer the same pain as the Nicholas family. Please join us: contact your local legislators and legislative candidates and ask them to take the Stand With Crime Victims Pledge and make a commitment to helping Marsy's Law cross the finish line in Wisconsin.

Steven Vickman

 

Steve Vickman

Executive Director

HELP of Door County, Inc.

Letter to the Editor- Defining your agenda

By Don Freix  

Doubtless, readers have heard of "Stockholm Syndrome," describing the psychological effect on those recent victims who were suffering under authoritarian injustice and politically partisan power structures working to benefit a favored few, while extracting heavy costs from the many. Victims, formerly conditioned to bow and scrape for any tiny favors under oppressive regimes, continue to do so, even when those old power structures have been decidedly overcome.  

 

While I see those manifestations locally, I understand it takes time to begin framing a new mindset to make the changes voters asked for.   Sturgeon Bay's new common council needn't essentially beg and plead with the city administrator to contact a new attorney to discuss dissolving the WRA.  Phone city hall and demand salaried staff have the proper attorney available for questions and advice this week, and demand the mayor put a WRA dissolution resolution on the next agenda, May 15th.  

 

Concerning a designated heavy truck route to minimize costly city street wear, instruct the city engineer to have a preferred route decided upon this week (there are likely city plans in existence), and demand a decision/action item on the agenda to get the process started. Examination of best routes, enforcement ordinances, fines and signage are needed.  

 

Respectfully, conducting council meetings needs a bit of attention.  Remember the numerous chair interruptions during the former public comment periods with a singular preemptive pronouncement that someone was improperly speaking to an agenda (or non-agenda) item.  There was however, no comment from the common council chair last week, immediately disallowing explanation of one city attorney's professional ethics concerns over WRA dissolution matters, which included a statement that arguably appeared as advice to the common council about the WRA's "interests." There simply was no agenda item allowing for it. WRA dissolution is a completely different topic than explaining motivations behind a professional recusal.  

 

Hopefully, the council chair will recall that Robert's Rules requires surrendering the gavel so-to-speak, to relinquish the chair if he or she wishes to take a position on any issue.  Maybe the chair could fill out a paper slip prior to the meeting and take three minutes during public comment, explaining any issue position.

 

Decisive direct language from the new common council majority is not automatically being rude or uncivil.  It is not automatically being abusive of the majority power. Changing the mindset of begging for furtherance of popular issues and continually being denied without explanation can negatively wear on anyone's psyche and often will take time to overcome, but please begin to practice using your authority and throwing off the old yoke.  It is as simple as standing up and stating "point of order to the chair."

Don Freix

Fish Creek, WI

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