Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, Feb. 13

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Gazette Editorial Board
Monday, February 13, 2017

Thumbs down to sloppy paperwork. Releasing an inmate who should be in jail sounds like the plot from an episode of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” But this isn’t fiction—it happened at the Rock County Jail. It gets worse, though. The mistakenly released inmate, Thomas D. Iverson, is accused of driving drunk, crashing into a car and injuring a 76-year-old woman. Iverson now faces his seventh OWI charge, though it never should have happened because Iverson’s bond had been revoked after he pleaded guilty to fifth- and sixth-offense intoxicated driving Dec. 15. A deputy at the Dec. 15 court hearing failed to record the judge’s order that Iverson’s bond be revoked. Iverson later posted bond and was released. The 76-year-old woman was injured because of a paperwork glitch, which thankfully rarely happens. The silver lining is that the sheriff’s office is reviewing its documentation procedures to ensure accurate information is always kept on each inmate.

Thumbs down to Walker’s transportation budget. Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget includes a lot of new spending, including for schools, but it lacks a long-term solution for dealing with the state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. A governor’s job is to put forth big ideas (as Walker did years ago in advancing Act 10, despite widespread protest), but Walker continues to sidestep the state’s transportation problems, promoting instead a Band-Aid solution of delaying roadway projects and borrowing money. At the very least, Walker could have proposed increasing the state’s gasoline taxes to raise some revenue, but he didn’t take even this modest step. Walker is perhaps banking that his no-new-revenue approach will win him votes in 2018 as he pursues a third term. We’re not so sure about that—his lack of leadership on transportation issues could become an Achilles’ heel, which his Democratic opponent will likely try to expose.

Thumbs up to combating homelessness. One of the most surprising aspects of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget is the funding increase to address homelessness and people at risk of becoming homeless. The biennial budget proposal devotes $660,800 each year to programs focused on mentally ill prison inmates, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The budget also includes grants for homeless shelters and funds to launch programs proven successful in other states. “We’re very pleased,” Joseph Volk, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness, told the State Journal. “This is the first time in 25 years there’s been anything in the state budget regarding homelessness and increased resources. This is a huge step forward.” Republicans in the Senate and Assembly might balk at the price tag of Walker’s initiatives, but reducing homelessness over the long run would likely save tax dollars.

Thumbs up to exploring YMCA partnership. The Milton School District is talking with the Parker YMCA about potentially sharing the cost of building a new pool. This is exactly the sort of arrangement district officials should explore before proposing another referendum to build a new high school. A perception among some voters is that November’s failed referendum was too expensive and included too many frills. By collaborating with the YMCA, school district officials could demonstrate that they’re doing everything possible to reduce the cost of a new high school. The district has also had discussions with Blackhawk Technical College about using the college’s facilities for shop classes. The district should continue to explore partnerships as a strategy for reducing the cost of any future referendum.


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