Thumbs down to court reviewing open records law. An open records request by radio host Mark Belling for the email addresses of judges has become the latest flashpoint in the never-ending battle to preserve government transparency. The state Supreme Court is reportedly examining the request to consider whether open records law should apply to the judiciary. If the high court were to decide the law doesn't apply to judges, that might suggest the judiciary gets to pick and choose which laws to follow. There should be no question open records law covers all branches of government. Taxpayers pay for and elect members of the judiciary and deserve the right to obtain information about the courts.
Thumbs down to bashing Harley-Davidson. The iconic Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer has done nothing to deserve President Trump's angry tweets regarding the company's plan to move some production overseas. It's a business, and sometimes businesses move production to remain competitive. That's how capitalism works, and the irony is Trump's protectionist policies likely prompted Harley-Davidson's decision. The European Union recently slapped tariffs on many U.S. goods in retaliation for Trump imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Harley-Davidson got caught in the crossfire, adding about $2,200 to the cost of each motorcycle exported to the EU. If anyone deserves to be angry about this situation, it's Harley-Davidson.
Thumbs up to ending incentives for International Education Program coordinator. This position, previously held by Kevin Miller, allowed Miller to earn a commission for each student recruited to the program beyond Miller's $60,000 base pay up to $125,000. The arrangement made sense from a sales standpoint but wasn't fair to teachers, whose salaries do not reach into six figures. Miller might have done a fine job, but the International Education Program would not exist without teachers. How to fairly distribute the windfall generated by the program is controversial, and the Janesville School Board made the right call last week by eliminating this commission scheme and approving only a $85,000 base salary for the new coordinator, Mary Christensen.
Thumbs up to protecting drug-endangered children. A new agreement signed by multiple government agencies aims to better protect children of families with drug problems. The agreement seeks to improve communication among agencies to minimize children's exposure to trauma. For example, law enforcement plans to ensure child protective services staff are on hand at the scene of drug busts to provide prompt care for children whose parents are arrested. Behavioral science is increasingly linking drug abuse, obesity and health problems later in life to trauma experienced as a child. In signing this agreement, Rock County officials are taking preventative action.