Opinion Archives for 2018-11

Civil Discourse: An Occasional Attempt to Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse

By Roger Utnehmer


Picking the Right People New Governor’s First Challenge


As Governor-elect Tony Evers populates his administration with appointments he would be wise to follow the practice of former Governor Tommy Thompson.


Thompson’s first major appointment as a Republican governor was a Democratic state senator, Tim Cullen, to head the Department of Health and Social Services. Doing so fulfilled a pledge Thompson made to be a governor of all the people, not just those who voted for him. Thompson crossed the political aisle many times. He compromised. Tommy Thompson worked well with members of the opposition. His appointments occasionally created opportunity for fellow Republicans to replace Democratic legislators but he produced an environment of comity and bipartisan civility in state government that is missing today.


Tony Evers can help return a more civil government to Wisconsin. Appointing respected Republicans to positions of power will demonstrate confidence and strength.


Former state senator Dale Schultz should be considered. He knows his way around the capitol has a reputation for independence and integrity. Schultz would make a great secretary of Health and Family Services, Administration or Revenue.


Former State Rep and Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb could step back into his former position and work effectively to restore Wisconsin’s crumbling infrastructure. Gottlieb, like Thompson, recognized the need to raise and index the gas tax.


Few Republicans in Wisconsin know how to navigate both the state and federal governments as well as Dave Anderson from Wausau. Evers would have an instant entree into the offices of Republican legislators, and many Democrats as well, if he hired Dave Anderson to work in his administration.


And if there is one Walker appointment worth keeping in a new administration it is Stephanie Klett at the Department of Tourism. If her enthusiasm could be taxed we would never have to worry about balancing a state budget.


Those without political affiliation could also contribute to a successful Evers administration.


Kewaunee County board member Lee Luft would make an outstanding head of the Department of Natural Resources. Luft is well-informed and passionate about air and water quality. His background in the paper industry makes him a good choice to balance job creation and environmental common-sense.


Few farmers are as articulate as Door County’s Rich Olson. His strong advocacy for family farms would make him one of Wisconsin’s most effective secretaries of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The family farm is vanishing fast. A family farmer heading this important agency would say strongly that Tony Evers stands with them.


Education played a big role in Evers’ victory. Returning former UW Board of Regent member Mark Bradley would be wise. His experience and knowledge of higher education would assure continuity and historical perspective. Evers’ second appointment to the important Board of Regents should be former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton. Her service to Wisconsin is not over. Her talents need to be tapped to make Wisconsin better.


An important appointment will be Secretary of the Department of Corrections, a problem-plagued agency in need of reform. The DOC now expends more money than the entire UW system. For too long Wisconsin politicians have been “tough” on crime at the expense of being “smart” on crime. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections needs a leader who appreciates restorative justice, recidivism and the sociology of crime. If I were Tony Evers I’d ask former State Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske to either serve long enough to change the direction of the DOC or recommend someone who can. Geske is an internationally-recognized expert on restorative justice whose voice in changing corrections policy would be invaluable.


Picking the right people is the primary challenge for a new administration. Some of these suggestions could make Tony Evers as effective as many Wisconsin governors who have come before him.


That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.

Thank you from the next Door County Sheriff

By Tammy Sternard       

First I want to thank Pat for being willing to run for office, running for office is never easy. I was so glad we both ran clean campaigns and focused on what we believe in, our values and our community issues in a respectful manner.

I want everyone to know I'm confident that Pat and I will be able work together and our department will move forward in a positive manner. Our department is full of men and women who bring honor and professionalism to the badge each and everyday and it is my honor and privilege to get the opportunity to lead them.

I would like to take a moment to thank and acknowledge my family. Throughout the ups and downs of this experience they were always there for me whether it was to offer words of encouragement, keep me focused, help me find the positive or simply kick me in the butt. I knew I could always count on them to help me keep moving forward.

They have sacrificed a lot of family time over the last several months helping me run this campaign. I believe it really showed our kids how to be respectful and responsible while chasing a dream and that playing fair is always the best way to go, regardless of the outcome. I love them very much and hope I've made them proud over the last year. I'm grateful to have such a loving and supportive family.

For many of you that know me personally I'm generally a pretty quiet and shy person. This process had often times taken me way outside my comfort zone. This experience truly has been very rewarding. It has given me the opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally. I truly do appreciate all the support from friends, co-workers and the community.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my career and very honored to get the opportunity to be your next Sheriff.

Again, thanks for all the support over the last year!


Door County Sheriff-elect

Nine More Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

By Dan Powers         

On November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine more communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.


All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities: Jackson County (69%), Sauk County (72%) and Wood County (80%); as well as the villages of Readstown (91%), Westfield (87%) and Weston (83%); and the towns of Kickapoo (85%), Rib Mountain (78%) and Vermont (86%).


That brings the total to 142 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. According to Wisconsin United to Amend, in total, about three million people (55% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.  Across the country, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 780 towns, villages, cities, and counties.


In Wisconsin, resolutions calling for a non-binding statewide vote on Citizens United (the 2010 Supreme Court ruling) have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 53 /SJR 54). The referendum asks voters if the Wisconsin legislature and the Wisconsin congressional delegation should support and ratify an amendment stating: "Only human beings - not corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations or similar associations - are endowed with constitutional rights, and Money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to restricting political speech."  


In Door County, 18 of the 20 municipal government units (including the Door County Board) have overwhelmingly passed and sent resolutions of support for holding the statewide referendum.  Still, neither house has let the bills out of committee for public comment. Hopefully, in the next biennium, Rep. Kitchens and Sen. Jacque will help to get the bills to the floor.  


A large majority of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.  And several polls indicate that government corruption is either the most important or a very important issue facing the country. However, only a strong outcry from the public will ever overcome the sway of big money in our state and federal elections.


Dan Powers

Civil Discourse: A post-election call to civility

By Roger Utnehmer                          

Thank you to those who cared enough about democracy to vote and to the candidates who cared enough to put their names on ballots and compete for public office.

Congratulations to the winners. May this be an opportunity to recommit to civility in our civic discourse. We need public officials confident enough to compromise when appropriate, to cross aisles when it serves the common good and to reject the rhetoric of division.

People of good will are divided. Many today are frustrated with the inability of elected officials to cooperate. Elections present opportunity to improve as incumbents are affirmed and new leaders are elected.

We owe sincere appreciation to those who serve. Far too few today are willing to sacrifice their privacy and endure the personal attacks leveled at public officials. We need civil disagreement or few will have an interest in public service.

Again, I say to those who ran, thank you. To those who won, please commit to civil discourse, compromise and bipartisanship.

And to those who allow others to manage the affairs of government please give public servants the respect and civility they deserve.

That's my opinion. I'd like to hear yours.

Vote for Frostman

By John Hauser      

As we consider the choices we face on Election Day, the contrasts between candidates are not limited solely to their positions on the political issues of the day.  There is room for legitimate debate between intelligent people on how best to create a flourishing society, but we have little chance of achieving that unless we elect representatives who place service about self.

I know Caleb Frostman to be an individual who is motivated by the success of those around him rather than his own, and who will work tirelessly to achieve that success.  I know Caleb Frostman to be somebody who will decide what is best for his District, not by obeying the will of the leaders in Madison, but by listening to the citizens that he represents.  Caleb embodies the virtues of wisdom, respect, integrity and, perhaps most importantly, service.

We need more people like Caleb working for us in Wisconsin.  Please join me in voting to re-elect Caleb Frostman as Senator for Wisconsin District 1.

John Hauser

Sturgeon Bay, WI 

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