Thumbs down to committee members abstaining from voting. The Janesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee exists to give the city council its opinion about proposals affecting the park system. It's not helpful when three committee members abstain from voting as they did last week over a controversial proposal to build three small homes at River Valley Park. The members should have gone on record for or against the project, regardless of any criticism they might have faced. Public officials typically abstain from voting to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of one. Chairwoman Katie Udell and members Ann Hyzer and Brad Reents reportedly abstained because of uncertainty about the project. That's weak.
Thumbs down to Lafayette County officials. Many government officials wish they could control what journalists write about them, but most officials realize there's little they can do about news coverage except complain about it. It's been a problem ever since the Founders adopted that pesky Bill of Rights, the First Amendment in particular. Apparently, Lafayette County officials never got the Constitution memo because they drafted a resolution requiring media to print verbatim the county's news releases about water study results. The county board tabled the resolution last week after news stories about it circulated statewide. But the episode demonstrates the press and public cannot take their rights for granted.
Thumbs down to Gov. Tony Evers' potty mouth. One of Evers' former students should pull the governor aside and explain to him, "A governor must conduct himself with dignity. Calling your political opponents 'bastards' is beneath you, Mr. Evers." As a former educator and former head of the state Department of Public Instruction, Evers should know the importance of maintaining civility amid heated disagreements. He called it "absolute bullshit" after Senate Republicans rejected his agriculture secretary pick and later reportedly called the vote "stupid" and his opponents "bastards." It's almost as if Evers is taking speech lessons from President Donald Trump.
Thumbs down to Evers denying open records request. When it comes to handling open records requests, Evers has a lot in common with his predecessor Scott Walker, though Walker was arguably more responsive to media requests than Evers. His administration recently refused to release emails requested by WITI-TV, explaining it won't honor requests seeking documents within certain time frames. WITI-TV attempted to narrow the scope of request, but Evers' office rejected that request, too. His administration's response is another reminder that obfuscation is a bipartisan endeavor. Imagine what the two parties could accomplish if they directed these bipartisan energies toward something that actually benefits the public interest.