Assembly district losing a true public servant

The city of Janesville and the 44th Assembly District will lose a true public servant this week as Steve Engelbert retires from the Wisconsin Legislature.

Steve has been the research assistant to Rep. Deb Kolste since she was sworn into office, and he has served Rep. Kolste and the constituents of the 44th Assembly District with great care and commitment. One of Deb’s first acts as a legislator was hiring Steve—and it was a smart choice. Prior to working for Rep. Kolste, Steve had gained a wealth of experience working for other legislators in the Capitol, and he brought that expertise to her office.

I had the privilege to work with Steve in Rep. Kolste’s office during the 2015-16 legislative session. He was a consummate professional and demonstrated daily his value as a staffer and as a public employee. After many years as a public servant, Steve is preparing for a well-deserved retirement.

Steve, I hope the fish are biting on the Kickapoo. Thanks for all you’ve done for the residents of the 44th and for the people of Wisconsin.



Follow the money to GOP’s acceptance of gun violence

America has a gun problem. Many think the problem is assault weapons, large capacity clips or armor-piercing bullets, but those are merely symptoms of the core issue.

Others think it’s mental illness or violent video games that are to blame. However, other countries have similar levels of mental illness and play the same games without the gun violence that plagues us in the “land of the free.”

The real problem is money. Yes, money. Since 1968, there have been about 1.38 million gun deaths in America. Since 1776, there have been a little more than 1.17 million Americans killed in all our wars, according to PolitiFact. In the last 50 years, more citizens have lost their lives to gun violence than have been killed in all wars and battles we have fought in our 242 year history.

In 2016, the NRA spent $54 million to secure Republican majorities, including $30.5 million to elect President Trump. In direct contributions to politicians, gun-rights groups gave $106,000 to Democrats and $5.9 million to Republicans, in effect purchasing them to not protect citizens from out-of-control gun violence. And who received more money from the NRA than any other representative? That’s right, our hometown guy, House Speaker Paul Ryan. His “moment of silence” is a career of obedience to his owners, the NRA.

The solution is simple. We need only endure until November to begin correcting the problem. It’s time for him to go.



School social workers play important role in student lives

Next week, March 4-10, is School Social Work Week. Children today are increasingly exposed to many social forces that negatively affect their role as students. When the family is in a state of change, until it becomes stabilized, children’s unmet physical and emotional needs will continue to interfere with their ability to learn and adjust in school.

School social workers provide services related to a person’s social, emotional and life adjustment to school and/or society. School social workers are the link between the home, school and community in providing direct as well as indirect services to students, families and school personnel to promote and support students’ academic and social success.

In our role as advocates, it’s important to advocate for ourselves a valuable resource to our school and community.

It is also important to take time to celebrate each other and our accomplishments so that we have fuel to continue to do the work.

Happy School Social Worker Week to all my colleagues!


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