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Etc.: Three
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While pondering if Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basketball officials can tell the difference between a block and a charge (see page 9A) …

Good decisions, or not: The Platteville Common Council at-large candidate forum Monday night was as always interesting. (Without bells to tell the candidates they need to stop talking, unlike with the presidential debates.) There is no story this week because by the time you read this one of the candidates won’t be in the race, having been eliminated in Tuesday’s primary.

Whichever pair survive the primary, and whoever gets elected April 5, should adopt candidate Darrel Browning’s motto of “do more with less.” Perhaps the Common Council gets along better in the three years since Alds. Barb Stockhausen and Mike Denn got elected, and the relationship between the council and city manager Karen Kurt seems better than with her predecessor, Larry Bierke. It’s not clear, though, that the decision-making process generally is better, and all that is improved about city finances is how bad they are, as shown by the city’s inability to keep up with street maintenance as big ticket items (the fire station, the Municipal Building) loom.

There has not been a real substantive effort to evaluate city operations, in terms of aligning services performed and manpower required (among other areas), since I’ve been here. There is a compensation study going on, but that is to align employees’ salaries with the market for those positions. The better question is to ask whether certain positions should exist, and whether city operations need the current number of city employees, or not. The purpose of a municipal government is to perform municipal services, after all, not to employ people.

Whoever does get elected (which presumably will include Don Francis, the only candidate on the ballot to replace Stockhausen in District 1) needs to push the council toward better decision-making. The Library Block project is a less-than-excellent deal for the city because the city needs tax revenue desperately, in large part because of decisions, or non-decisions, made by the council three decades ago in economic development. One of those decisions also should be figuring out how to promote new home construction in the city instead of in the Town of Platteville, by promoting infill development (which is difficult — try building a modern house among old, small houses) but also new subdivisions for modern-standard houses. (One word: Garages.)

Days off, and on: The Platteville School Board will revote Monday on its 2016–17 calendar, due to a clerical error that mistakenly gave students Oct. 31 off. (Teachers might want school closed Nov. 1 instead, so they don’t have to deal with sugar-crashed children following Halloween.)

I think the school board should rethink its vote about taking off Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That, according to Platteville Public Schools superintendent Connie Valenza and one school board member, is what teachers prefer, so it was surprising that what teachers prefer got voted down by the School Board. Teachers can teach about King, the civil rights movement, tolerance and diversity on MLK Day, while, as happens in some school districts and some colleges, students can perform community service projects to honor King. That is unlikely to happen on a day off.

Somewhat ironically as well, students have King Day, when most adults work, off, and yet Monday, Jan. 2, where most adults won’t have to work (Jan. 2 is the official observance of New Year’s Day since New Year’s Day is Sunday), students will be in school. (Unless it’s a fiendish plot on the part of us parents to have a day free from our kids. In which case, reserve a table for two for me for lunch.)

I went to a wrestling match and a hockey game broke out: Those who believe the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association was correct in reinforcing its (widely nationally derided) sportsmanship guidelines got some inadvertent ammunition at the Southwest Wisconsin Conference/Southwest Wisconsin Activities League Clash, when two fans — one parent of a Fennimore wrestler, one fan of Riverdale — got into an altercation following a match. 

The problem with that statement is that the WIAA’s sportsmanship code deals with students, not really non-coach adults. Schools have authority over students and school district employees. Schools can eject obstreperous fans, as happened in Mineral Point, but student conduct had nothing to do with what happened in Mineral Point. Of course, former Whitefish Bay Dominican basketball player Diamond Stone was subject to WIAA rules in his four years at Dominican, but ask UW basketball player Vitto Brown’s head whether the WIAA sportsmanship code stuck with Stone at the University of Maryland Saturday.