Thumbs down to criminal justice lunch meetings. Walworth County criminal justice officials gathered Wednesday to hammer out the future of the county’s drug treatment court, but the gathering of judges, prosecutors and others resulted in no answers. Instead, District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld, who has expressed concern about the treatment court, will meet during lunch to hammer out where the DA stands on a list of 16 concerns he detailed in late 2017. That’s not how transparent government operates. Issues of public interest should be decided in public, not during private lunch meetings.
Thumbs up to maximum sentence for Nathan L. Leopold. Some readers criticized a judge sentencing Leopold to only 15 years in prison for killing a 70-year-old Juda man in an Oct. 20, 2017, vehicle crash in Green County. They wanted him to spend the rest of his life in prison because this is the second time Leopold has killed somebody with his vehicle. He also killed a woman who was jogging near her home in Dane County in 2002. A life sentence would seem justified, but it's important to point out Judge Thomas Vale gave Leopold the maximum sentence allowed by law. The real shame in Leopold's case may be that Leopold successfully avoided tougher penalties in the 2002 death, getting sentenced to only five years and seven months.
Thumbs down to more redistricting shenanigans. Some Democrats believe Republican legislators want to redraw district boundaries in 2021 by passing a joint resolution instead of a bill that would require Gov. Tony Evers' signature. Republican leaders deny they're plotting to circumvent the governor, but Democrats' fears aren't as farfetched as some Republicans are portraying them. This is, after all, the same group of legislators who passed a series of bills in a lame-duck session to weaken Evers' powers before then-Gov. Scott Walker's exit. No matter what Republican legislators do next, it won't involve bipartisanship because, regrettably, they've already rejected Evers' call to form a bipartisan commission to take over the redistricting process.
Thumbs up to fines for bridge delays. The $2,070-per-day fine starting Aug. 15 for the contractor building the Milwaukee Street bridge won't help nearby business owners who've lost money because of project delays. But at least the fines will show the contractor, Waukesha-based Zenith Tech, there are consequences for missing deadlines. The bridge should have been finished by June 21, but Zenith Tech pushed out the completion date until Aug. 14, citing high water in the Rock River. Then it indicated the bridge likely wouldn't be completed until Oct. 24. Kudos to city and state officials for holding firm to the Aug. 14 date. Hopefully, the fines will inspire the contractor to pick up the pace.