Thumbs up to fully funding animal control. Janesville City Council scrapped last week a proposal to cut by half the $125,000 animal control budget, though some city officials still seem unsure whether the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin deserves the contract to manage stray cats and dogs. We don't fault the city for wanting to explore other options for managing stray animals, but as the humane society's director noted last week, it's a bit late in the year to be contemplating a switch in service providers. Unfortunately, the humane society appears to have a monopoly on the local animal control industry, in which case the council will need to get more creative if it wants to save money on this service. We encourage the council and police department to research how other cities manage strays and present possible alternatives in advance of the 2019 budget process.
Thumbs up to a bipartisan conversation. There was a rare sighting last week of a Democrat and Republican agreeing on the need to reform the way district boundaries are drawn. Kudos to former Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville and former Republican Sen. Dale Schultz for speaking about gerrymandering without blaming the other party for creating a rigged election system. Indeed, Schultz acknowledged he voted in 2011 in favor of the redistricting plan that's at the center of a case being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Schultz now believes such gerrymandering goes against democratic values. "(Too often) people decide to be good partisans, not good patriots," he said during a forum sponsored by the Janesville League of Women Voters. Schultz noted Illinois has a similar problem with gerrymandering, except there it favors Democrats. To create better public policy, we need more constructive dialogues such as the one with Cullen and Schultz last week.
Thumbs down to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Sen. Steve Nass of Whitewater usually plays the role of rhetorical flamethrower, but this time Vos went too far by calling Nass and Sens. Duey Stroebel of Saukville and Chris Kapenga of Delafield "terrorists." Soon after Nass issued a press release decrying Vos' word choice, Vos apologized for the comment he made during an interview last week with WISN's Mike Gousha. "Frankly, I wish Gov. Walker wouldn't have negotiated with terrorists," Vos said regarding the three lawmakers and reiterated the point after Gousha sought clarification. Beyond being inappropriate, Vos' statement highlighted the destructiveness of GOP infighting. The party's fracturing at the national level appears have caused fissures at the state level, and Republicans could pay a steep price at the polls next year if they continue to attack each other.
Thumbs down to the Harry Potter Festival. Attendees of the Harry Potter Festival in Jefferson last weekend must have felt like Lord Voldemort cast a curse on them. They spoke of long lines, underwhelming activities and overpriced merchandise -- all hallmarks of a failed event. The only winner in this debacle appears to be Edgerton, which last year told organizers Rob and Scott Cramer to go elsewhere after the two made too many demands on the city. The big loser was Jefferson, which the brothers persuaded to fork over $25,000 for marketing and between $15,000 and $25,000 for security, police overtime and other operational costs. According to the State Journal, the festival attracted nearly 15,000 people more than the Cramer brothers anticipated. In the coming months, the Jefferson City Council should beware of any magic potions concocted by the Cramer brothers calling for the city to sprinkle more tax dollars on next year's festival.