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Other Views: Another shooting: How can I tell my son he’ll be OK at school?

As we waited for the school bus on a recent morning, my 9-year-old son asked me what he should do if a shooter walks into his elementary school and starts killing people.

It was not a question I was expecting. Usually, we talk about things like what he has for snack or whether Darth Vader or Yoda is smarter. So, I wasn’t ready to answer.

I asked him what he thought he was supposed to do. He said he should, “listen to the teacher.”

I told him that was a good idea. He has a beautiful, smart and caring teacher. She’d know best. He seemed satisfied. But, I wasn’t. My heart was racing because my son, my sweet, compassionate and concerned son, was scared of going to school. He didn’t feel safe.

And, I as his mother, the trusty solver of his problems, the bandager of all of his boo-boos (physical, mental, emotional) couldn’t guarantee that everything would be OK.

I thought the worst had passed. It hadn’t. He had a second question.

“So, what happens if I’m in the hallway when the shooter comes?”

He meant, what if there was no teacher there to tell him what to do.

I told him to think about where he could go to be safe. Run there. And stay put until he saw someone he trusts.

He nodded grimly. I think he believed he might not see me at the end of the school day. That this conversation might be our very last.

He said he was cold and leaned on me. That’s pretty rare. At the bus stop he tends to stand apart from me; just in case the bus comes around the corner and the other kids see us having a mom-son moment. I get that. But, he was all about the hugs.

He needed courage. I told him that school shootings are rare, so the chance of one happening in his school is pretty slim. But, I admitted, school shootings do happen.

He nodded. Then, he asked the saddest question of all.

“Why would someone want to kill me?”

I told him that there are sick people in the world, and that trying to understand a person who would harm a stranger is impossible. I told him that people who do these sorts of things aren’t healthy. And that most people would help a stranger and never hurt one.

I told him what Mr. Rogers said, so smartly—whenever there’s a terrible thing, look for the helpers. Because, there are always helpers.

Right? Most people are good. They see suffering and they want to stop it. We cook for the hungry, run holiday gift drives for those down on their luck and help our neighbors in need. We are a caring, loving species.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people on Wednesday was reportedly the 18th school shooting in the U.S. since New Year’s Day. It’s hard to believe. Of course, I didn’t tell my son how many there have been. How does a mother explain that the all-knowing adults around him haven’t been able to fix this? That shootings are a fact of life because nothing has happened to make them stop.

As parents we try to make the world feel secure for our kids. We know grownup life is turbulent and unpredictable and scary. We want our kids to be calm and at peace so they can focus on the difficult task of growing up. But, reality intrudes on us all.

I wish we had the collective will to alter this reality.

The bus came and my little guy squeezed me for all he was worth.

“Bye, mom,” he said.

“I love you,” I said. “See you at the end of the day.”

He got on the bus and I watched him walk to a seat and sit down. He immediately looked out the window at me. He usually ignores me completely and plays with his friends.

The bus door closed and the bus drove away.

My guy’s face didn’t move. It was pressed against the glass and he kept staring at me. I waved. He continued to stare at me until his bus turned the corner and disappeared.

Letters to the editor for Saturday, Feb. 17

Second Amendment relates to states maintaining militias

I’m not a constitutional expert. I’ve read the document and the “Federalist Papers” as written by our Founding Fathers in support of the Constitution. From what I glean, debate over a federal army was hot, and states’ rights were paramount.

The newly formed nation did not want to risk a standing federal army, which could overthrow the still-forming government. The Continental Army was mostly disbanded in 1783 after the revolution ended. The states maintained their own militia for their defense.

“A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” This was a popular opinion of the framers of the Constitution.

The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

If we objectively read the arguments over the amendment prior to its ratification, I believe it is allowing the states to maintain their militia. These militia have morphed into the National Guard. Logically, therefore, the Second Amendment affords the “right to bear arms” to the guards and Army Reserves.

I know that most gun owners are responsible citizens, but does the average citizen out there really need assault weapons?

No! Enough!



On Feb. 20, vote to stop Milton’s bad spending habit

The Milton School District just keeps on finding ways to spend taxpayer money even after they have been told three times to live within budget. They claimed they needed to fix safety first: secure entrances, alarm problems, bell systems and communications. So now they spend our money on driveways and renting a building for sports. None of the major safety and security issues have been addressed, and now they want to buy the rental sports building.

We have an election coming up, and we need to replace the members who keep this spend-at-any-cost mentality.

If you live in the district, please vote only for those running for office who are against the spend-the-money members!



Event highlights importance of voting, community inclusion

On Feb. 10, I had the pleasure and honor of attending the annual Susan B. Anthony celebration held on the UW-Rock County campus.

The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Janesville and Beloit and was open to the public.

The event featured keynote speaker Rick Daniels, director of campus inclusion at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois. Daniels spoke on many important issues in our society today. Some of those included women’s voting rights, voter suppression, Martin Luther King Jr., social injustice and racial bias.

Of particular interest were Mr. Daniels’ comments about the importance of our communities and the need to find leaders that understand and advocate for a community of “inclusion” where all people are included. “If it affects one person, then it affects all of us.”

Additionally, when we exercise our right and privilege to vote, our vote is symbolic of the “hope” we have in a person or decision (referendum) for change. Do not allow for what you believe in, stand for and put your dreams in ever to die. Please remember to vote in the upcoming elections.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government with a special focus on local elections. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters does not support or oppose political parties or candidates.

I would encourage everyone to check out their website at



Solution to DACA, gun violence isn’t that complicated

The Trump administration has ordered an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting a March 5 expiration date on Dreamers’ legal protections and potentially subjecting them to deportation from the only home they have ever known.

Rep. Paul Ryan acknowledged, “It is important to keep in mind that young people, who came into this country through no fault of their own, are at the heart of the issue.” Unfortunately, Ryan complicates a simple solution by adding border security, visa immigration and family unification to the DACA issue.

The majority of Americans want Dreamers protected and allowed to remain in the United States. Put the politics aside and pass a singular DACA bill that protects these young people and beats the deadline that President Trump unilaterally imposed.

It’s not complicated. Do the right thing and protect these young people. Take action!

There have now been 18 mass shootings already this year. Most have involved military-style assault weapons. There are now 8 million AR-15 assault rifles owned in this country.

Refuse to allow the National Rifle Association’s purchase of our elected leaders and our Congress and ban the sales and ownership of these weapons of war in this country.

Which is easier: attempting to find and help every troubled individual who possibly poses a threat to life or liberty or denying access to rapid-fire killing machines?

Make it impossible for children ever again to be gunned down by military-style assault weapons.

It’s not complicated. Take action now!



Other Views: Tolling only realistic option for funding Wisconsin highways

The stars are aligned for Wisconsin to rebuild and modernize its Interstate highways using revenues from all-electronic tolling.

Bipartisan legislative support in Madison combined with the Trump Administration’s promise to remove federal restrictions and match toll revenue with federal dollars suddenly make the idea more than plausible.

In fact, our research confirms that tolling is the only realistic, long-term solution to Wisconsin’s road funding dilemma.

Claims made this week by Wisconsin’s former Transportation Secretary, Mark Gottlieb, regarding operating costs are outdated and inaccurate. Concerns expressed by Gov. Scott Walker about imposing an effective tax increase on Wisconsin drivers, meanwhile, can be easily resolved through what’s known as value-added tolling—the implementation of tolls only after highways have been upgraded or expanded.

We’ve long advocated this approach for numerous reasons:

  • Raising gas taxes on everybody isn’t fair or logical. Fuel-efficient cars already burn less gas and soon enough—when the price of electric vehicles plummets—many of us won’t be buying much gas at all. We need to wean ourselves off gas taxes, not increase them.

Concerns about double taxation—payment of gas taxes at the pump and tolls on the road—are understandable, but easily addressed. Modern technology makes it easy to rebate fuel taxes paid by drivers on electronically tolled roads. This should satisfy concerns about double-charging users.

  • Former DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb contends that tolling is “wasteful and inefficient,” and suggests 23 cents of every dollar collected in tolls will be spent on building and operating the system.

This is a familiar criticism. The American Trucking Associations claims that toll collection costs eat up 20 to 30 percent of toll revenue. That may have been true of all-cash 20th century tolling, but is no longer true today. A 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service found average U.S. toll collection costs requiring 8 to 11 percent of toll revenue. But even those numbers are dominated by large, legacy toll roads that have only begun the transition from cash to electronic tolling.

A peer-reviewed Reason Foundation study by electronic tolling experts found that toll roads using only electronic toll collection and streamlined business rules have collection costs between 4 and 9 percent. Those researchers suggested that 5 percent of toll revenue was an achievable target once all-electronic tolling is fully phased in.

The fact is that we need more revenue to prevent widespread deterioration of our roads. Unless something is done, Wisconsin’s infrastructure will become an increasing drag on state economic growth. A policy study just released by the Reason Foundation ranked each state’s highway system by 11 different categories. “Ranking the Best, Worst, Safest, and Most Expensive State Highway Systems—The 23rd Annual Highway Report” gave Wisconsin an overall rank of 38th in highway performance and cost-effectiveness.

There are no viable solutions other than tolling.

Revenue from gas taxes will slowly disappear in the years to come. More debt is not the answer either. Over 20 percent of all transportation fund revenues are already used for debt service rather than improving our roads. All told, we spend over half a billion per year just servicing transportation-related debt.

Let the people who use the roads pay for them. Tolling is fair, quick and convenient. Modern all-electronic tolling includes no toll plazas, no toll booths and no lines—just better roads that get us to our jobs and safely back home to our families.

We can’t grow and flourish on lousy roads. Electronic Interstate tolling is a logical, fair, modern solution to a problem—deteriorating highways—that must be solved for the good of all Wisconsinites.