Thumbs down to Gov. Tony Evers' intimidation tactics. Evers and his administration sent a threatening letter to an NBC News reporter who investigated a Milwaukee man's claim that Children's Hospital Wisconsin and the state Department of Children and Families falsely accused him of abusing the baby he and his wife are in the process of adopting. The letter targets reporter Mike Hixenbaugh and states that sharing the baby's investigative case file is punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. We believe the First Amendment protects Hixenbaugh in reporting this story, and we hope NBC isn't intimidated. Hixenbaugh acted in the public's interest by exposing an overzealous staff who apparently confused birth marks for bruises and an accident for child abuse.
Thumbs down to UW-Whitewater's sloth-like response to Gazette's open records request. The Gazette filed an open records request with the university Sept. 4 for information on former Chancellor Beverly Kopper's leave during the fall semester. The university waited until last week to release the records and only after Gazette reporter Jonah Beleckis informed officials he was working on a story about the request's status. The state Open Records Law requires government to fulfill record requests “as soon as practicable and without delay.” Hard to see how a five-month delay fits into that language. UW-Whitewater spokesman Jeff Angileri claimed the records release after Beleckis' inquiry was a "total coincidence." To which our response is: Yeah, right. The Gazette shouldn't have to prod government agencies to get them to comply with the law.
Thumbs down to another pointless referendum question. The Rock County Board plans to ask voters on the April 7 ballot whether they support nonpartisan redistricting, as if we don't already know the answer. Of course the voters support it, and polls show widespread support for nonpartisan redistricting across the state. The referendum is a public relations ploy, and the Legislature is bound to ignore it as it has every other Rock County referendum adopted over the past several years. These referendums are advisory and have no bearing on policy decisions at the state level. County officials claim the question won't increase election costs except for publishing notices. But it will waste voters' time.
Thumbs up to Democrats' "H.R. 3" chant during the State of the Union. President Trump during his State of the Union address last week called on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to lower prescription drug prices. Democrats responded by chanting "H.R. 3" in reference to the bill the House already passed that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to take it up. Trump's memory is short because as a candidate in 2016, he called for the same measure and complained the only reason Medicare cannot negotiate is "because of the drug companies." Why didn't Trump call on Republicans to help him fulfill one of his few campaign pledges that Democrats support? Voters should consider that question ahead of the 2020 elections.