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home : opinions : our editorials August 1, 2014


Walker ads rankle supporters
Maybe it's not good to have an obscene amount of money available in a campaign war chest. That's a thought that perhaps crossed Gov. Scott Walker's mind after the second time in as many weeks he's received scathing criticism from publications that have strongly supported him in the past.
The flak he's been encountering from the likes of The Wall Street Journal and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has come over television ads attacking Democrat challenger Mary Burke and Trek Bicycle Corp., the Waterloo, Wis., company founded by Burke's father-a company in which Burke had been an executive.
Burke had criticized the Walker administration for giving tax credits to businesses that then sent jobs overseas. The Walker camp struck back by launching ad campaigns criticizing Burke and Trek, because Trek manufactures nearly all its bikes overseas.
But the Milwaukee paper's editorial staff, which twice has endorsed Walker, pointed out that Trek had not ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Playing politics with our schools
Gov. Scott Walker's call for a repeal of Common Core education standards does an injustice to the hundreds of Wisconsin citizens, students, educators and curriculum experts who have worked on standards over the past 4 years. If he succeeds it could put our children at a competitive disadvantage for the best colleges or career opportunities.
His one-sentence pronouncement last week that he will ask the Legislature in January to repeal the standards and "replace them with standards set by the people of Wisconsin" was ill-timed at best. It reeked of political grandstanding and suggested an ignorance of the process.
There are no standards to repeal, since they've never been codified in state statutes. They remain voluntary for local school districts to adopt or reject. What is law is the mandate, which Walker signed, that schools accepting public funding administer-in the coming school year-new state tests for math and reading based on these standards. Furthermore, the standards in place were written "by the people of Wisconsin" who have been working on them since 2009, when Wisconsin became one of 49 states that made commitments to develop the standards.
Up until last week the process seemed to have at least Walker's tacit approval. The standards for math and language arts have been in place since 2010. And the governor signed the 2011-13 biennial budget bill that specifically directed the Department of Public Instruction to create an assessment that will "measure mastery of the common core standards." He also did not back a proposed bill introduced in the Legislature earlier this year that would have done away with Common Core standards here. That bill never made it to the floor because of strong opposition on both sides of the political aisle.
But Common Core ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Moratorium is good idea
The Town of Dovre Board is holding a public hearing Tuesday night, July 15 on whether or not to enact a 2-year nonmetallic mining moratorium in the township. The three operating frac sand drying plants, three operating mines, two other planned drying plants and proposed 4.7-mile sand conveyor system would not be subject to the moratorium. But with this much frac sand action in the rural township, taking time to re-evaluate the industry presence there is a good idea.
All of this development has popped up in less than 4 years, giving the small community little chance to brace itself for the explosive industry. Eventually, after some sand mining had begun, a nonmetallic mining ordinance was adopted late in 2012.
Now the town is considering using a highway safety specialist to evaluate the heavy truck traffic, hiring a firm to assess environmental impact, reviewing the property value guarantee program and rewriting the town's comprehensive plan. This shows there is a reason for the moratorium. As a document signed by Town Board members states, "We believe we have an obligation to stop and assess the impacts in order to chart the best course for the future."
Trucks come one after another ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Extension heads in right direction
Last month the Rice Lake Planning Commission approved a Certified Survey Map of the Kern Extension, creating a road and bike route in an area between Tainter Elementary and Gordy's County Market. With approval from the City Council, the project will begin in 2016 or 2017. The project was first proposed more than a decade ago.
Post-recession building, better employment figures, an improving housing market and community projects create potential for a city growth spurt. The Kern Extension in the city TID 4 ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Politics crippling high court
Our system of government has worked well because of the separation of power among the three branches of government-executive, legislative and judicial. Each branch provides a mechanism of checks and balances on the other two. But the judicial branch is unique in that its role is to uphold the rule of law independent of the political forces that are essential to the functioning of the other two branches. That role, however, is being undermined by the impact of special interest spending in judicial elections.
Nowhere is that more clear then in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court elections. Five Supreme Court elections took place between 2007 and 2013. In three of them, more than $5 million was spent on each of those campaigns. By contrast, in the four Supreme Court elections in 1997 to 2003, only one election exceeded $1 million.
The increase in spending in recent elections has come from special interest groups like the $2 million in contributions from the group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce on Supreme Court elections in 2007 and 2008. In 2011 conservatives and big business groups-most notably Americans for Prosperity-spent $2 million backing David Prosser and attacking his opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg. At the same time groups affiliated with labor unions spent more than $1 million trying to undermine the Prosser campaign.
So much for remaining independent of political forces.
These forces are, at least in part, the cause of some much publicized rancor on the court, ...The Chronotype

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Not so fast on ATV routes
City government, commerce and tourism leaders are trying to fast-track a plan establishing ATV routes and rules in the City of Rice Lake. The ordinance, which is not completely drafted, is likely to be considered by the City Council as early as next month.
Members of a committee formed to establish the ordinance have touted ATV routes as a major tourism booster. However, the proposed street route extending from the Wild Rivers Trail connects to just one hotel, one gas station and a few taverns or restaurants. ATV riders, of course, do not seek out paved streets for riding, especially ones that do not bridge other remote trails. This raises the question of how much can really be gained from more access in the city.
It should be noted that the proposed route, which impacts just a small residential stretch of Macauley Avenue, could be a sort of test run for more routes in the rest of the city, which is by and large more residential. Additional routes would magnify impact in both economics and quality of life for residents. Some residents will be annoyed, while others will be pleased that they can take their own machines right onto the route without using trailers.
Not all residents will ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Time to rethink school officer
It's time for the Rice Lake Police Department and School District to think about renewing the school liaison officer program. The previous program ran from 1997-2006. Police Chief Steve Roux, who was a patrol officer in the department then, said it was "very successful and positive." It ended because of a funding issue on both the school and city's end.
The full-time officer had an office in the high school, and the expense was split between the school, 75%, and the city, 25%. Grant money was available but when the grant money went away, so did the program. That's why if the program were to be renewed, police and school officials would have to find a way within their two budgets to make the program financially sustainable, Roux said.
Even without the program, police officers respond to the school when needed. Lately that seems to be a ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Don't miss out on best fest yet
The area's premiere summer festival, the Rice Lake Aquafest, is in the midst of celebrating its 50th year. It began last weekend and continues through Sunday. Try and attend as many of the entertaining events as you can.
Our thanks go out to the Aquafest Committee, a group of volunteers who began planning the festivities back in January. In cooperation with many volunteers, civic groups, business sponsors, the Chamber of Commerce and others, the 50th annual Aquafest is proving to be the best ever.
Some of the upcoming ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Task report incomplete
While the idea for a legislative task force on rural education was a good step toward solving issues in Wisconsin's small school districts, the task force's reports came up short on solutions. Last week this newspaper reported that area school leaders were disappointed in the results from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' Task Force on Rural Schools.
The task force members provided some good recommendations, but they failed to come up with two things critical to meaningful change in rural school districts: a better funding formula and bipartisan leadership.
Chairman Bob Swearingen, R-Rhinelander, issued the final report, but vice-chairman Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, issued his own that was supported by minority members of the task force. Both reports determined more aid was needed in rural school districts, but neither offered specifics on making that happen.
Such recommendations as increasing transportation aid, expanding high-speed Internet access and mitigating teacher shortages through flexibility in licensing and offering student loan-forgiveness to teachers committed to working in rural districts are good. The Legislature should pass bills bringing those ideas into being.
But this all needs funding, ... The Chronotype

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


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