It appears as though this space in your favorite weekly newspaper is being occupied by someone with a short attention span:
Running (for) sheriff(s): There will be more interesting races to watch besides just governor and the 17th Senate District.
Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman is running for his first full term, opposed by sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Breitsprecker. Lafayette County Sheriff Scott Pedley is retiring, with Darlington Police Chief Jason King and Deputy Sheriff Reg Gill running to replace Pedley. (So far, in both cases.)
Dreckman, Breitsprecker, King and Gill are all running as Republicans. They shouldn’t be running under any party banner at all, because county elected officials — sheriffs, district attorneys, clerks, clerks of circuit court, treasurers and registers of deeds — should not be partisan positions. The only way a Republican is superior as a candidate for sheriff to a Democrat, or a Democrat is superior to a Republican as a candidate for county clerk, is in the opinion of the voter. (And county board seats are not partisan offices either.)
One could even argue that sheriffs shouldn’t be elected at all, since police chiefs aren’t elected. However, this state does have a tradition of electing judges from circuit court to the Supreme Court, plus the attorney general and district attorneys. (Maybe some town somewhere still elects a constable, too.) Sheriffs also have law enforcement powers that are broader than police chiefs. Law enforcement should be nonpartisan, however, therefore the candidates should be nonpartisan.
Selective snow: Last week’s Common Council meeting started with a complaint by a homeowner who got a ticket for not removing snow from his sidewalk after one of our 3,822 snowfalls this winter. The homeowner was irate, to say the least.
What I find interesting is that I know people who would argue the exact opposite — that the city isn’t stringent enough enforcing its snow removal ordinances, from the perspective of people who walk a lot, particularly downtown. I walk a lot (but you knew that), so I too have seen some houses with immaculately cleaned sidewalks and others with piles of snow and sheets of ice. This makes me curious how the city decides where snow and ice need removal, at the homeowner’s expense, and where that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Common Council at-large candidate Darrel Browning has accused the city, on this page and at council meetings, of selective enforcement of its building codes, specifically targeting elderly homeowners. I don’t know if Browning is right, but he’s not the only one to accuse the city of less than even-handed, impartial enforcement of the city’s municipal code and ordinances. Before the April 1 election, Browning needs to be more specific about what he sees as unfair enforcement, and opponent Amy Seeboth needs to say whether or not she agrees with Browning about city enforcement.
A televised airball: Here is proof that change may be inevitable, but positive change is not.
Wisconsin (coached by former UW–Platteville coach Bo Ryan, but you knew that too) plays American University in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament Thursday morning. For the past few years, the NCAA basketball tournament has branched out from CBS to TBS, TNT and truTV, meaning fans can watch every game of the tournament live.
Every game, that is, except the Badger game if you’re a Centurylink subscriber. The Badger game is on truTV for the second consecutive year. Centurylink doesn’t carry truTV, so if you were planning on watching the Badgers over lunch, find a restaurant or bar to do so, or quickly order DirecTV or Dish Network. That may also be the case Saturday, when UW would face Oregon or BYU, since the NCAA schedule says the Milwaukee games will be on “CBS or Turner Network,” which includes truTV.
Gambling and, or on, gaming: Meanwhile, if you are a casual fan of NCAA basketball, you probably either have filled out at least one tournament bracket, or are hurrying to do so before the tipoff Thursday morning. You may even have put money into a tournament pool. And if you have, you are, of course, breaking the law. Does it seem hypocritical to you that Indian tribes can legally run casinos and the state can run a lottery, but you can’t legally bet on sports?
Speaking of (legal) gambling: Iowa is going in two different directions on gaming. There is an effort under way to close Dubuque Greyhound Park and end greyhound racing in Iowa because it loses money. At the same time, a casino is proposed for Cedar Rapids, even though two reports say it would “cannibalize” the nearest casino, south of Iowa City. It seems likely to decrease business at casinos in Dubuque and Marquette too — taking more pieces from a finite-size pie, to mix metaphors.
That, along with the Kenosha casino proposal, should give proponents of the Shullsburg casino pause. I’m not against casino gaming, but it seems logical that expanding gaming facilities is going to take away from the existing gaming base, not grow it. Given the prevalence of legal gaming, anyone who wants to gamble already is, so expanding gaming could be, well, a gamble.