This is National Newspaper Week. Sometimes we editors write this week about the importance of our work. But I’m not doing that this week because there’s too much going on:
Democrats vs. Democrats: The letter in The Journal last week from Rita Wittwer, wife of former 17th Senate District Democratic candidate Ernie Wittwer, was certainly candid, and unsparing in its criticism of state Democratic Party leadership for picking the other candidate, Pat Bomhack of Spring Green, to give party largesse instead of letting voters decide.
You’d think the parties would have learned this lesson 35 years ago. In the summer of 1978, the state Republican Party endorsed one, and not the other, of the two GOP candidates running for governor. The candidate who got the party’s endorsement was U.S. Rep. Robert Kasten. The candidate who got the voters’ endorsement was UW–Stevens Point chancellor Lee Sherman Dreyfus, both in the GOP primary and in November.
When a party picks sides before the election, voters should ask themselves why party leadership would do that. The senator Bomhack would replace, Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center), spent more than two decades in Madison not necessarily toeing the party line. Whether you agreed with Schultz’s votes or not (and a lot of Republicans didn’t), it seems like a dumb idea for a party to pick a candidate who gives the impression by his pre-primary party endorsement that he will do everything party leadership wants him to do. It’s not as if Madison and Milwaukee Democrats have showed much interest in Southwest Wisconsin, besides Southwest Wisconsin’s votes.
Speaking of which: The final issue for political letters-to-the-editor to be published prior to the Nov. 2 general election will be the Oct. 22 Journal. That means the deadline for receiving letters will be Friday, Oct. 17. As always, depending on available space, not all letters will be printed.
Minus 5: I am underwhelmed by the proposal to reduce speed limits along Business 151, because I have a hard time believing traffic will actually slow down by 5 mph.
Apparently I’m not alone in this opinion. We post main stories on our Facebook page. Not a single comment on the story (and more than 2,000 people viewed the story) favored the speed limit decrease. That’s despite the fact that indeed there are no sidewalks along Business 151 and no real pedestrian crossings.
Minimally reducing speed limits doesn’t get to the heart of the problem along Business 151, particularly between Chestnut Street and Valley Road. The city really can’t promote pedestrians and bicycles over cars when there is no safe way to get across the city’s bigger-retail main street. The $500,000 price tag of just putting a pedestrian crossing at Business 151 and Water Street makes one grimace, but it’s hard to see a better alternative. (Pedestrian overpasses are much more expensive.) The city better get moving on pushing economic development for property value increase (as we reported last week) for increased property tax revenue to fund that project.
Speaking of which II: Maybe I’m the only person in Platteville who believes this, but Business 151 really needs a better, more marketing-friendly name than Business 151. It is apparently called Dubuque Road on some maps, but few businesses use Dubuque Road as their address. Some still use U.S. 151, which hasn’t been accurate since the four-lane opened in 2005. Maybe we should begin a Name Business 151 contest.
Family firsts: Two weeks ago at the Platteville/Lancaster boys soccer Parents Night match, I did something I’ve never done before. I have sat through probably more than 100 Parents Night games I’ve covered. Never, however, was I introduced as a parent and got the flower from a child of mine, until that night. That was the night before I covered a football game with a child as a participant, since Thursday’s varsity reserve soccer player became Friday’s high school band trumpet player.
Not to be outdone, one week later our other son scored a touchdown. His grandfather played football for Richland Center (yes, an email was sent about the Platteville–RC game afterward), but he was an end in the 1950s when the forward pass was something only desperate football teams tried. You know how unqualified I was to play football, so he may be the first Prestegard to score a touchdown in an organized football game.
Ole, Sven and Lena were driving one day … The funniest thing I’ve read in the past week was from last week’s Southwest Journal, the report that the U.S. 14/61 bypass of Viroqua and Westby, apparently proposed by no one who can be identified, won’t be built. The first stage already has been built, the four-lane from Viroqua to Westby, which apparently is known locally as the Uff-Da Bahn. Your one-fourth Norwegian editor cracked up about that. Ja.
I’d like to thank the Academy, and all the little people … I had to look something up in issues of The Journal from earlier this year, and I came upon an observation I made in this space June 11, about the 30th anniversary of the Barneveld tornado and how the National Weather Service issues too many tornado warnings. What happened one week after that? The two Platteville tornadoes, neither of which were preceded by a tornado warning. So I guess I win the Ironic Opinion Timing Award.