Letters to the Editor
TO THE EDITOR
Earlier this month, a drunk driver killed a Good Samaritan helping another motorist on the side
of the road. That drunk driver had four prior drunk driving convictions. That drunk driver was free on signature bond, as he was facing his fifth drunk driving offense.
Currently, the law in Wisconsin only allows judges to consider the issue of likelihood of returning
to court when deciding a bond amount. Public safety plays no part in the amount set under the law.
The law allows for public safety to influence bond conditions but let's be real. Who expects the person with four OWI convictions facing his fifth OWI to listen when the court wags its finger and says not to drink and or not to drink and drive? Same analogy for the wife beater, the drug addict or the child sexual assault perpetrator.
I reached out to Sheila Harsdorf on the issue. She very generously took the time to meet with
me and follow-up on the issue. She conferred with some attorney groups and returned with the
position that because they don't want it, it wouldn't be something she was willing to pursue. Well, of course the attorneys don't want bond reform: heroes who get their clients out of custody generally get paid more.
This is an issue of public safety. Reach out to your representatives, tell them that it's time
Wisconsin join other states that allow their judges to keep their communities safe and better protect survivors of crime. Unless and until the public demands better, we can expect more of the same to the detriment of the safety of our communities.
TO THE EDITOR
There's been a lot of talk about bullying lately. The First Lady's first priority was to advance the effort to curb it. I would like to commend her for any effort she can promote to find a way to reduce it.
With that being said, I just find it odd we have such issues with North Korea. I'm not sticking up for a crazy person or his administration, I mean North Korea's leaders, but North Korea hasn't invaded its neighbor like Russia. North Korea hasn't built an island in disputed waters like China. As far as nuclear weapons, Russia has had them pointed at the USA for as long as I can remember. China has more submarines then the USA, not even speaking of their military personnel.
For a country that is no bigger than Pennsylvania, we sure focus a lot of our attention and military expense on it, over the years. My understanding is the North Korean schools teach to hate Americans but Americans still want to travel there. Over my lifetime I have seen
countries invading other countries, having worldwide terroristic followers that cause destruction in every country they can, and we try to defend against them. As far as North Korea, are we just bullying them into doing something because of their size and to draw attention away from our administration's questionable issues?
Remove special purpose, one owner exemption
TO THE EDITOR
Thank you, Reps. Jarchow, Stafsholt, Zimmerman and Sen. Harsdorf, for looking at
streamlining Wisconsin's property rights laws. This does beg the question though, why you are
carving out a piece of your enabling legislation for one owner in a state of 6 million people.
The issue in question is a large piece of property purchased in 2013. It's a parcel that for decades was a Baptist church camp. It is located in the National Scenic Riverway in the Town of
Somerset. Prior to purchase, the owners had to discover that the National Park Service paid the
Baptist Church Camp over $186,000 in public funds for restrictive easements. The owners also
had to discover that the Town of Somerset and St. Croix County have zoning authority over the
But rather than follow laws and ordinances like the rest of us, these owners went ahead and
disturbed vegetation on the restricted bluff areas, built a deck and patio that encroached into the
scenic easements and expanded the use to include wedding venues, lodging and adult beverages — without approval from the town or county. Facing sanctions that could cost $100 to $500 per day for non-compliance, they ended up in court. Finally, in December of 2016 they agreed to take down the deck and patio, restore the vegetation and pay over $7,000 in court costs.
But here's the disturbing part. Even though they had been rebuffed by the town, county, and
circuit court, the owners contacted two representatives and invited them out for a tour. These
legislators somehow saw what town and county representatives couldn't and sponsored
legislation at the State level that specifically grants one landowner on one piece of property a
special dispensation. Undoubtedly representatives will continue to advocate for this legislation
saying it is about local control and preventing the DNR from having a pocket veto, but it's
also about granting a benefit to only one landowner.
As a lifelong Republican who has served over 26 years in town and county service, I can now
appreciate how much easier it will be to just let our state representatives make decisions for
everyone else at the local level. From now on, let's just let the State create spot zoning wherever they deem appropriate. Or better yet, get involved and contact your legislators and tell them to remove this special purpose/one owner exemption from their bill!
Town of Hudson
Star Prairie taxes
TO THE EDITOR
Star Prairie property taxes can be reviewed again on Aug. 16, when the town's Board of
Past years' property taxes have been shown to have been very flawed, when our state
Department of Revenue has studied them, in response to taxpayers' petitions for reassessment.
Another petition for reassessment of the township is being prepared for this year, but it's also
possible to take individual action on the assessments of individual parcels. To take action on
assessment issues, it's necessary to appear before the Board of Review, or have somebody
else appear as a taxpayer's "agent."
Taxpayers must notify the town clerk by Monday, Aug. 14, before 2 p.m., if they want to appear
before the Board of Review, or have an agent appear in their place.
Advice about this process is available free of charge, from several people (including myself) with
experience in how our local Board of Review curiously operates by instructions from the
Wisconsin Towns Association (a private entity, not a governmental one), instead of those from
the State Legislature, and the state Department of Revenue.