The editor of your favorite weekly newspaper is asked questions from time to time. (Which could include: Why are you referring to yourself in the third person?)
As a professional opinionmonger, I am required to have answers. They may not be the right answers, and they may not be answers you agree with, but consider that for subscribers in Grant, Lafayette and Iowa counties, this column costs you, by my estimation this week, 0.7867 cents.
Q: What can be done about tragedies like the Orlando shooting?
A: The only answer I have is what should not be done, and that is abridging people’s constitutional rights, like the First (freedom of religion), Second (freedom to bear arms), Fourth (unreasonable search and seizure and probable cause), Fifth (due process of law), Sixth (rights in court) and Seventh (trial by jury) Amendments, all of which have been proposed to be abridged in the past two weeks as the result of the shootings. There is a sandwich sign west of my office that quotes my favorite Founding Father, Ben Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Q: Well, shouldn’t something be done?
A: Your definition of “something” (or anyone else’s, or mine) is not necessarily the right answer. I think it is better to do nothing than the wrong thing. Newspaperman H.L. Mencken (who I may be becoming) said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
Q: Are you allowed to make controversial statements?
A: Franklin also said, “If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
Q: Why was Ashley Javon Toney, who is on the Indiana sex offender registry, released on $1,000 signature bond after he was arrested last week?
A: This (paraphrased) question was asked on our Facebook page last week. I’m not a lawyer, I wasn’t present at Toney’s first court appearance, and to quote “Cops,” all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But it seems to me (and I’ve said this before in this space) that such questions deserve an answer for us taxpayers, whose taxes pay for our criminal justice system.
Q: Why is the speed limit 55 mph at the U.S. 151/County XX interchange?
A: I was asked this a couple years ago. I would guess it’s because the Platteville city limits end west of the interchange. So you’d have to inquire of Grant County, not the city, the wisdom of traffic going 55 mph through that interchange with two left turns without stop signs. (The speed limit through the 151/Wisconsin 80/81 and 151/Grant County D interchanges is 45 mph.)
Q: Why is the city redoing Furnace Street this year when Southwest Health EMS is moving from Furnace Street later this year?
A: I assume it’s because the city is also redoing Bonson Street. But redoing Furnace this year instead of next year required the construction of a temporary driveway so the ambulances could get out. Neither the driveway nor the building will be needed after that.
Q: What are the city’s plans to upgrade Greenwood Avenue and Bradford Street if the St. Augustine housing project is approved?
A: That’s a very good question. That subject hasn’t come up in the discussions about the project, and it would be good to know the answer before the vote to pass it takes place, because those two streets will get considerably more traffic once construction is completed.
Q: Is that a prediction that it will get approved?
A: Yes. That’s because the city’s first priority is more property tax revenue, both because of big-ticket capital items (streets, the fire station, streets, the Municipal Building, streets, possibly water and sewer on Enterprise Drive and streets) and because of, as I’ve argued in this space before, failure to develop the city to generate more tax revenue in past years and decades.
Q: Why are you typing this standing at your desk?
A: For the same reason I walk a lot. Supposedly sitting is the new smoking. I’m not sure I buy that (I am not breathing in cancer-causing materials when sitting), but I am aware that I sit a lot, though as anyone who watches me at one of my children’s games knows I also pace a lot. If anything this saves me a step as I pace around the office while writing, to the annoyance of my coworkers.
Q: You think you have all the answers. Why don’t you run for office?
A: Believe it or not I was asked that a couple months into starting work here. My answer then and now is: Who would vote for me?