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Letters to The Platteville Journal for Oct. 1
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After the recount

I decided to write this because I think it only right that the voters have enough information to make an informed decision on Nov. 4 when and if you vote for a candidate running for the 17th Senate District. My husband, Ernie Wittwer, was a candidate for that seat. As you may know, he won the primary election by two votes, won the vote certification by seven votes, but lost the primary through a recount.

Aside from the unbelievable number of crazy incidences in the election process, the absolutely stupid way we handle absentee ballots, the inconsistency and less than advisory rulings by the Government Accountability Board and the missing 110 ballots in Green County, the Senate Democratic leadership also played a leading and inappropriate role in the election outcome.

At the end of October 2013, Ernie announced his candidacy. From his resume, you would have thought he’d be the perfect candidate: lived in rural Wisconsin most of his life, 25 years of legislative and management experience, two master’s degrees and an incredible grasp of the issues facing Wisconsin and our district.

But by the end of December, having raised a little under $10,000 and getting virtually no help from the Senate Democratic staff — they would disagree; the writing was on the wall. It was time for the Senate Democratic leadership to take control. And, that he did. Senate Democratic leadership came up with a primary opponent by convincing the guy running for the 51st Assembly District (against Dick Cates, who he couldn’t beat this time, two years after he couldn’t beat Maureen May-Grimm) that he should run in the 17th Senate District. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

This guy certainly had all the experience that a Senate candidate for a very rural district should possess. He had a P.O. box and rented a room in the district for a little over three years. He was mentored by and worked a bit over a year for a U.S. senator who barely remembers him. He was a law clerk of questionable merit for a Republican judge. He has a law degree but has never practiced law. Aside from his university years, he lived his life in urban Waukesha, graduating from a private high school.

This was the beginning of the disenfranchisement of the voters in the 17th Senate District. In and of itself, a primary is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the Senate Democratic leader didn’t like leaving anything to chance — or, should I say, to the voters. He decided that he should endorse his chosen one and at the Democratic convention purposely failed to mention Ernie as the other candidate. That didn’t exactly go over well with our supporters and they made their feelings known to “his leadership.” Not that their views mattered. They were completely ignored.

When AFSCME and WEAC held a combined endorsement interview, guess who was going to get their endorsements? Ernie. Again, that wasn’t what the power hungry had in mind. With political influence and strong-arming, the endorsement went to the chosen one. The strength of the WEAC phone bank, from many parts of the state in the days and weekend before election Tuesday and the amount of influence that the leadership used, hurt our campaign. There is no doubt about that. We are also fairly certain that the outcome, had it been left to the voters, would have been very different. But, I quibble.

Losing an election is unbelievably painful. Losing an election because of political manipulation is even worse. To add insult to injury, we found out a few days ago that the list of supporters that we fought so hard to get was given to the chosen one without our permission. How special is that? Because our website was created under the Senate Demmocratic umbrella and because we loaded the names of anyone with an email address into our website for ease in communicating, the Senate Democratic hierarchy believes that they own our names and have the right to use them as they see fit.

In other words, if I use your bucket to store my apples, my apples become your apples. Isn’t that clever and a completely new way of looking at proprietary rights relative to data storage? Our people have already received emails from the chosen one. Please accept our apologies and unsubscribe if you wish.

This barely covers the surface of ineptness, bad judgment and political manipulation of the election process in the 17th Senate District, and may be a book someday, if we have the stomach for it. For now, this is enough for you to digest.

If you think my ranting is sour grapes, you’d be absolutely correct. Not only am I sour, I’m also angry and disgusted with Wisconsin politics. If this is democracy in 2014, I don’t want any part of it. I’m not sure why anyone else would, either.
Sadly, I don’t have a clue how to change it because that’s why Ernie ran for the Senate in the first place, and we saw how well that worked out. It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to get good people to run for office, regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It’s all about money and power. Intelligence, honesty and integrity don’t count.

Rita Wittwer

Ernie Wittwer lost the 17th Senate District Democratic primary to Pat Bomhack of Spring Green, who is running against Rep. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green) Nov. 4. Sen. Chris Larsen (D–Milwaukee) is the Senate minority leader.

Climate marching

I believe, as do the 300,000 people who marched in New York Sept. 21, that the most serious problem we face as a nation is climate change. 

ISIS is a scary word used by the likes of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–South Carolina) to scare us into doing stupid stuff in the Middle East. Our really frightening danger is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, now over 420 parts per million, and the amount of toxic chemicals in our environment.

Are we so ignorant that we are willing to commit to endless war and ignore the threat of Monsanto and other  corporations that seek  profit at all cost?

Walt Wisnewski

Election Day math

In the City of Platteville the overall voter turnout for the Aug. 12 primary election was 15 percent.

Fifteen percent is too low. If that number doesn’t leave an impression on you, think of it this way: In a group of 27, just four people made the decision for everybody.

We have the privilege to choose our government representatives by voting. Let’s not miss that opportunity. I would encourage all eligible voters to be informed of the issues and candidates, register at the Municipal Building before election day, make sure to have a driver’s license or valid picture ID, and get to the polls and vote on Nov. 4.

Gary Munson

On three-hour parking

The Downtown Parking Alliance appreciates the Platteville Common Council’s approving three-hour parking on Main Street. Main Street offers customers one-stop shopping, from wedding planning, gifts and clothing, grocery, restaurants, hair and spa services, among others. The longer parking time gives customers a more leisurely shopping experience.

Just to clarify a misconception: In 2012, downtown business owners were not asking for more parking; they were simply asking to keep the existing parking. This was a result of the proposal to use the Bonson Street parking lot for the construction of student housing. This would have increased the number of tenants seeking parking, in addition to the reduction of parking spots available in the downtown area, if the construction was approved.

Downtown Parking Alliance

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of The Platteville Journal.