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We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Today - Thursday, May 27, 2010 - "And that's the way it is..."

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John Eyster
Thursday, May 27, 2010

TODAY – THURSDAY, May 27, 2010 – is one of those regular days on which in the “good ole’ days,” Walter Cronkite would conclude with his signature sign-off, “Walter Cronkite: On his Signature Sign-off” - “'And that’s the way it is,' May 27, 2010."

WHO KNOWS WHAT TODAY WILL BRING? I do KNOW of 2 events which I hope YOU are aware of today: the ROCK COUNTY BOARD MEETING at 6 pm and the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY FAIR at 7 pm.

MEDICAL EXAMINER - CORONER decision - the on-going consideration of whether Rock County should have a CORONER or a MEDICAL EXAMINER will come to the floor of our Rock County Board tonight. You can read through the whole agenda Agenda for Rock County Board, May 27, 2010 with documents. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

When the Board originally moved to having a MEDICAL EXAMINER, I testified at a Rock County Committee meeting then chaired by ADAM PEER in favor of that move to a system which would review and select and hire a MEDICAL EXAMINER on the basis of QUALIFICATIONS. I felt that we ought to use a system like that used to hire the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief in Janesville and other cities using a non-partisan commission whose mission is to hire a well qualified professional. Why not for the very significant work of examining and determining cause of death for public purposes?

That action came in the aftermath of a very serious problem with the Rock County Coroner demonstrating the reality that under WI State Law, the elected coroner is not really accountable to anyone. Rather, the coroner is elected and then ON HER/HIS OWN! There is really NO meaningful supervision of the elected coroner. Rock County suffered through months of problematic attempts to remove its elected coroner.

In reality, while the election process is appropriate for POLICY positions, I do NOT believe it is appropriate for administrative positions. The situation in 1848 when the WI State Constitution was written and ratified was very different from today. There was the wave of “Jacksonian Democracy” which had the idea that if only ALL persons working for the public were elected, we would have the PERFECT situation for public service. I would assert that perspective has long since proven inadequate and inaccurate. YES, I am a very strong advocate for appropriate elections for POLICY-MAKING offices, e.g., Governor, legislators, County board members, City council members, School board members. ALL of these offices are POLICY-MAKING! Partisan principles and priorities really do matter when setting public policy!

I am totally unable to comprehend that whether a person is a Democrat or Republican makes any difference whatsoever in the administrative role of the coroner. Can you help me understand?

We need and deserve ACCOUNTABILITY of the coroner. As I see it, the optimal is to have the MEDICAL EXAMINER who would be selected by administrators – I dare to HOPE for a non-partisan commission like the Policy & Fire Commission of Janesville – and SUPERVISED regularly by that commission! WHY NOT?

The Wisconsin State Journal joined in the discussion about coroner vs. medical examiner in Dane County earlier this spring, I think their editorial statement if very informative and helpful, “No good reason to elect coroner” – Editorial, Wisconsin State Journal – April 28, 2010

They report, “More than a third of counties across Wisconsin have moved in the same direction to better ensure professionalism.” I AGREE with the move to better insure professionalism! What is your perspective?

YOU may want to call your Rock County Board Supervisor today to register YOUR view with her/him. To get her/his identity, check the roster of our Rock County Board, Phone numbers are listed with picture and postal address if you click on the District number w/Supervisor’s name and picture. Easy access! Try it!

Voting is an important process in our republic, but citizen participation through INFORMED COMMUNICATION with the elected representatives is equally – perhaps – MORE important! A representative democracy REQUIRES informed, thoughtful, critical, committed and INVOLVED citizens!

I hope to read the news in tomorrow’s Gazette that we have moved to the MORE APPROPRIATE arrangement with a MEDICAL EXAMINER in ROCK COUNTY, WI through the vote of our Rock County Board tonight! Time will tell…

Discovering Democracy Fair - I myself have made my commitment to go to the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY FAIR at Milton High School at 7 pm this evening. Open to the public. I am VERY excited to learn more about the outcomes of the inaugural DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY FIELD STUDY led by AP US Government & Politics teacher, VAL CROFTS. I know it was a VERY effective educational experience for his students. NOW, I want to have opportunity to see and hear (from them in person) their recommendations re. PUBLIC POLICY on the basis of their research both “book” research and “field study” research.

IF you want to get a feel of the Discovering Democracy Fair this evening, listen to the podcast of STAN MILAM’s segment with VAL CROFTS and a student from yesterday. “Milton HS Discovering Democracy Fair.” Easy to access and play on your computer.

Readers of WE THE PEOPLE will know that I have been much interested in this work of my former student, Val Crofts. There are several posts on WE THE PEOPLE covering from the “birth” (announcement of) through the Field Study in Washington, DC to the follow-up report on air on THE STAN MLAM SHOW. Here are those links if you want to read: “DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY BORN at Milton High School!” – March 23, 2010. “NEWSEUM for Discovering Democracy group!” – March 31, 2010. “DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY on air” – April 6, 2010.

We desperately need effective DEMOCRACY/CIVIC education if the future of our republic is to be healthy! I salute VAL CROFTS for his extra-mile involvement and commitment as a teacher and as a citizen for starting DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY! And now, on air yesterday, he announced that plans are CLEARLY IN PROCESS for the 2nd annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRAY Field Study for the 2010-11 school year. GO FOR IT, VAL & ALL!

So, what will be the report at the end of TODAY – Thursday, May 27, 2010 for YOU and for me? "'And that's the way it is' - May 27, 2010."

Here we go…

Mr. E.


Last updated: 10:48 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.


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