Thumbs up/down for Monday, Sept. 23, 2013

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Thumbs up to the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser. The YWCA Rock County event is just as it sounds. Men don women’s shoes with heels and walk to build awareness and solidarity about domestic violence. Last year’s walk raised $70,000 for the Y’s Alternatives to Violence and Transitions for Women programs. The alternatives program sheltered 139 women and 143 children in 2012, and the 24-hour crisis line at 608-752-2583 fielded 339 calls. The transitions program served 60 households by helping single moms find jobs and housing. It’s fitting that Milton’s Sharon Baker Bucklin will be keynote speaker at Friday’s walk because her sister was a victim. Susan Anderson was beaten and stomped to death by her husband in 1995 in her Janesville home. Registration and shoe fitting starts at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 Pontiac Drive, Janesville. The walk begins at 5, and a dinner reception is afterward. For information about walking or donating, call Jeff Bealles at 608-752-5445, ext. 206, or visit ywcawalkamile.org.

 Thumbs down to mandatory minimum drunken driving sentences. Reforms to stiffen drunken driving penalties are moving through the state Legislature. Yes, Wisconsin needs tougher laws, but one provision would create new mandatory minimum sentences for those who kill or injure others in crashes. Yes, that would make more drinkers consider risks before getting behind the wheel. However, as The Gazette reported last week, it also would circumvent the judicial role and remove any discretion judges have to consider extenuating circumstances. For example, what if a father of young children stops at a bar to celebrate good news at work, has one too many, then kills someone in an accident only partially his fault and is found with a blood-alcohol level just over the legal limit? Should he get 10 years in prison and be unable to provide for his family? First-degree intentional homicide might be the only other type of homicide in Wisconsin that triggers a mandatory sentence. Let’s keep the focus on repeat drunken drivers—the real hazards on the road. Why not slap alcohol-detecting bracelets on them after second offenses?

Thumbs up to a landlord list in Edgerton. The city council is in the process of approving an ordinance change that would require owners of residential or commercial rental properties to provide the city with their names and contact information. City Administrator Ramona Flanigan says the city only has a loose estimate of the number of residential rental properties but that water bill records suggest the number is substantial. Why should city staffers, paid by taxpayers, waste time tracking down landlords over code compliance concerns or even emergencies? This list will be helpful for problems as simple as a door left open in a commercial building. Failure to register by Jan. 1 might result in fines of between $25 and $500. Sure, the list might be a precursor to more regular checks for code compliance. But what’s wrong with that? Such checks protect the health and safety of renters.

Thumbs up to Edgerton Books and Art. Speaking of Edgerton, this store is expected to open Friday, in time for this weekend’s Edgerton Sterling North Book and Film Festival. The shop won’t be like most other bookstores. Of course, in this age of digital books, many traditional bookstores are struggling. Retirees Russ and Jan Veitch are opening the store at 4 W. Fulton St. They own the downtown storefront and want proceeds above rent to benefit the Edgerton Alumni Foundation. They hope to use foundation volunteers to run the store, selling donated used books and art on consignment, and be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The foundation has paid for educational initiatives in recent years, and if sales go well, it could fund even more. We wish the store good luck. Call 608-501-7601 for more information.

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