It appears as though there are a few more things struggling to get out of my notebooks:
That’s the way I like it: Proving that the term “normal Wisconsin weather” is an oxymoron, within one week Platteville went from a record low of 10 below zero March 3 to 48, seven degrees warmer than the normal high, though 25 degrees colder than the record high for March 10.
After the winter we’ve been having, Monday was a revelation. Apparently three bicycles, abandoned sometime before the snow started (which, by the way, was Nov. 24), revealed themselves after snow started melting this weekend. I’d say UW–Platteville students’ wearing shorts was another sign of spring, except that (1) I’ve seen UWP students wear shorts most days this winter, even as subzero as this winter has been, and (2) a walk to campus actually revealed few shorts-wearers, perhaps out of fear of blinding others from pasty-white flabby winter skin.
Wrong Side Schultz: If you haven’t read the rest of this page yet, you’ll see that Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) is ending his Senate career on the wrong side of at least one bill. I noted in this space last week that Senate Bill 526 would remove from the state circuit court database information about criminal charges filed against people when those charges are later dismissed. Brett Healy of the MacIver Institute and Bill Lueders, formerly of Madison’s Isthmus weekly newspaper, are rarely on the same side of an issue, but they’re right — as in correct — on the issue of public records from our publicly funded government, including the court system.
Schultz is also wrong in his crusade to reform legislative redistricting, even though what he seems to think would happen is probably less than would happen. Schultz and Sen. Tim Cullen (D–Janesville) are touring the state claiming that there should be more Democrats in the Legislature because more people voted for Democrats than Republicans in the 2012 legislative elections. Neither bothers to tell you that one reason for more Democratic votes is that, in the 2012 Assembly elections, Democrats had seven times as many unopposed candidates as Republicans had. (I generally don’t vote for unopposed candidates, but most voters apparently do.)
Schultz should explain why he wants to disenfranchise the historical majority of his district’s voters. Since statehood, most of what now is the 17th Senate District has been represented by exactly two Democrats, and none since Jimmy Carter was president. Schultz took advantage of that to get reelected five times, never getting less than 57 percent of the vote. That’s not a statement favoring Republicans (for one thing, I’m not a Republican); that is historical fact.
The bigger problem of the political process is the advantage of incumbency, partly the result of those of us in the news media reporting (often uncritically) on what politicians do. The only way to get rid of the incumbent advantage is to get rid of incumbents — that is, not allow legislators to run for reelection. Sheriffs were prohibited from succeeding themselves deep into the 20th century, for better or worse. (Sheriff’s wives and sons sometimes ran for election, after which the former sheriff was appointed undersheriff. Any political rules can be gamed.)
A state too far: Belmont and Cuba City are still alive in the WIAA girls basketball playoffs. A pair of wins for each will advance them to the state tournament next week.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that state is in Green Bay, for the second consecutive year. It’s one thing to go to Madison, which is close enough that you can go to a game, come back here, and then go back for the championship game Saturday. That’s a more difficult option when, thanks to the move and the change in tournament format, Division 5 plays Thursday afternoon and Division 4 plays Thursday evening, with the title games Saturday, four hours from here.
That is probably why, as was noticed when Cuba City played at state last year, there were far fewer black and gold-wearing fans than at Madison state tournaments. Neither Madison nor Green Bay is close to the geographic center of the state, but Madison is far closer to the population center of the state than Green Bay. Of course, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has made bad decisions before, as fans of Southwest Wisconsin Conference football teams know.
Above and beyond: I should have noted this well before now, but kudos are due to Art Beaulieu, the Platteville School District’s business manager. My son and I were to play trumpet at the annual Alone for Christmas dinner Christmas Day. That was before school was canceled the day before winter vacation due to ice, when I had neglected to suggest he bring his trumpet home. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before Christmas Eve eve, but upon the suggestion of a school board member I called Art. The next morning, with temperatures far below zero, he opened up Platteville Middle School so the trumpet could be procured, and the two trumpet players could hopefully not chase away Christmas diners with their playing.
Obligatory seasonal message: The final issue for political letters to the editor to be published before the April 1 general election will be March 19. (Hey, that’s next week!) Depending on available space, not all letters will be printed.