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Letters to the Editor

CPS handling of case is appalling


St. Croix County's CPS organization should be renamed. It should be called PTA (Protect The Abuser).

Earlier this summer, my grandson was violently pushed into a wall by his father, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and resulting neural damage as diagnosed by two physicians. He tells his doctors that dad pushed him because he wouldn't eat the tomatoes on his plate.

After visiting the child, the CPS intake worker — despite the physician's reports — decides there is no injury. She phones his father who tells her he didn't do anything and "that kids get concussions all the time." Strange his concern was not about his son, just that he wasn't guilty.

The intake worker decides that the child lied, completely disregards numerous other reports including one made by his pediatrician about inappropriate genital touching and a report of the father driving over 100 mph with his son in the vehicle which dad denies but, ironically, he receives a speeding ticket the next day with his son present and then threatens to "off" his son if he tells mom. All that evidence but the intake worker closes the nine-month investigation based on the testimony of a child she has seen once in a 15-minute interview.

She also ignores the father's extensive criminal history which includes five DWIs, a felony assault conviction, a child neglect charge for leaving his 9-month-old son alone while he went out drinking at topless bars and the lengthy time he has spent incarcerated.

Then the intake worker appears at a closed hearing, aligns herself with the father, and in response to the court commissioner's question about who was present, says "family members." The final straw is when CPS proposes that the abuser's wife, the woman guilty of failing to protect a child and the only other person present when the child injured, be the "supervisor" in the court-mandated supervised visits.

Why does this intake worker side with dad? My daughter is Hispanic — dad is Caucasian. Yet the CPS website explicitly explains its non-discrimination policy.

The bias and mismanagement of this case is appalling. Why is this caseworker not held accountable by her superiors? I guess a dead child means less work for her. The Wisconsin

statute is very clear: "Whoever recklessly causes bodily harm to a child by conduct which creates a high probability of great bodily harm is guilty of a Class H felony." That CPS has chosen to ignore it is criminal.

Carole Rieg


WisDOT ought to be held accountable


Activities of the WisDOT should be of concern to all Wisconsin citizens, regardless of political party. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently discovered that the department overpaid a contractor a sum of $404,250 for gravel which was not used for construction of the Milwaukee Zoo Interchange. Worse, this money was "explained away" as "just an oversight." There has been no attempt to recover the funds. And believe it or not both those who signed off on the overpayment and the contractor who demanded the money are teamed up on the mega road construction of the WisDOT for the Foxconn project.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the Journal Sentinel was able to obtain information related to this overpayment only from the Federal Highway Administration under the Freedom of Information Act, rather than from WisDOT. WisDOT's attitude is that correspondence related to its management of spending ought to be circulated only to WisDOT management and key staff. Persons involved in the massive overpayment do not respond to attempts by the Journal Sentinel to communicate with them by phone or email. This keeps decisions related to things like the overspending at the zoo Interchange, as well as facts like allowing Tom Collins, who owns an engineering firm and has contracts to do work for the WisDOT, and was allowed to sign work orders on behalf of the state—something which the Federal Highway Administration has criticized—to avoid transparency.

The lack of transparency regarding money management, the cavalier attitude that overspending $404,250 can be explained away as an "oversight," with no attempt to recover what ought to be considered waste of taxpayer monies, and the employment of a contractor who demanded the overspending dollars on yet another massive highway job should be of concern to all taxpayers in Wisconsin. And the DOT ought to be held accountable.

James A. Benson


The world our grandchildren will inherit


Recently the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that if the world doesn't seriously address the threat of runaway climate change, we may lose our chance to avoid the worst consequences of our inaction. Guterres sees the window closing by 2020. Time is running out.

Meanwhile the Washington Post has just reported a jaw-dropping study by the Trump administration concluding that the world is headed toward "climate disaster²" by 2100.

Irony runs deep here. The 500-page report was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) according to the Post, "to justify President Donald Trump's decision to freeze federal fuel standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020."

Though Trump himself has called climate change a hoax, his NHTSA predicts a worldwide rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, in agreement with scientific consensus on the worst-case scenario should we fail to meet the challenge of climate change.

In essence the administration's study argues that nothing can be done to turn aside the disasters ahead, so let's further weaken environmental regulations to allow companies to make as much money as possible while they can.

This is a breathtaking betrayal of not only America but of a world that has already begun to face proliferating superstorms, wildfires, and the beginning of destabilizing climate-driven human migration.

It's time to hold every elected official accountable on the issue of climate change and vote all deniers and do-nothings out of office. We must elect leaders who care about and will pledge to protect the country and world our grandchildren will inherit.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

Grateful for Lyme letter


How can words begin to let you know how grateful I am to you for making sure that my recent letter to the editor, regarding an important Lyme Support Group meeting, was printed in a very timely manner.

Our having a guest speaker like Rebecca Keith, F.N.P., speak at our next to last meeting was a "must" for everyone to know about. And know, they did! We had folks come from Minnesota, a man from Oseo, and who knows where else? All in all there were about 30 of us who attended—thanks in part for your making sure that people had time to plan to attend!

The final meeting of the Wisconsin Education and Support Group, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at Our Saviors Lutheran Church on County Road F, Amery.

Ann Krisik


Tell your senators to vote NO on Kavanaugh


During my nearly four decades as an attorney in good standing, I have followed the Senate

confirmation proceedings of many nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States, including those of Brett Kavanaugh.

Nominees have been rejected by the Senate because their record of political actions, legal

writings and judicial opinions were considered too far out the mainstream (Robert Bork); have

withdrawn from consideration because of revelations about long-prior personal actions, such

as the recreational use of marijuana (Douglas Ginsburg); have withdrawn from consideration

because of limited related professional experience (Harriet Miers); or have never had their

nomination considered by the Senate at all (Merrick Garland).

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the

SCOTUS have been deeply troubling.

It was alleged that he sexually assaulted a younger girl. The sexual assault of a 15-year-old

girl by a 17-year-old boy is a crime—it is far outside of the category of high school high jinks.

The allegation is not that he toilet-papered her house, but that he tried to rape her.

In addition, there was his possible commitment of perjury resulting from his apparent

misrepresentations about his previous behavior, made while he was under oath at the Senate

Judiciary Committee hearings. Remember, former President Bill Clinton faced impeachment

not for his consensual sexual activities with an intern or a hairdresser, but for lying about it

under oath.

But regardless of whether one comes to believe Christine Blasey Ford or Brett Kavanaugh,

what this nominee most demonstrated by his words and behavior at the Senate Judiciary

Committee hearings is that he currently, as a 53-year-old, entirely lacks the judicial

temperament required to serve on any court, let alone the SCOTUS.

Brett Kavanaugh now sits as a US Circuit Judge, and in that position he is subject to the Code

of Conduct for United States Judges. Its Canon 1 directs that a Judge should uphold the

integrity and independence of the Judiciary, and its Canon 2 directs that a Judge should avoid

impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. The Commentary to these Canons states that deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends on public

confidence in the integrity and independence of judges. This nominee has lost that public confidence.

Celeste Koeberl

Town of Hudson

Mother Nature and the election


A second 500-year rain event within three years in Ashland and Bayfield counties; record rainfalls and flooding in southern Wisconsin; unprecedented wildfires in California and British

Columbia; extreme drought and wildfires in northern Europe; record temperatures in many parts

of the world; unprecedented rainfall and flooding in the Carolinas; and all of this within the past

six months. Hmmm ... is Mother Nature trying to tell us something?

According to recent polling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, a substantial majority of Americans think so. Over 60 percent of U.S. adults have concluded that climate change is affecting our weather, are worried about it, and want Congress to take effective action to address it. So why isn't Congress doing so?

Certainly, part of the problem is that addressing climate change has become a victim of political

tribalism, but recent polling also indicates that substantial majorities of Republicans, Democrats

and independents all favor congressional action. Perhaps a better explanation is that all of us have not given high enough priority to the issue to insist that our congressional representatives

address it without further delay. Climate change has routinely ranked well down the list of issues of importance to voters.

But now Mother Nature has slapped us in the face. In light of the suffering that has resulted, "Thanks, we needed that," is probably not an appropriate response, but we do need to urgently

wake up and demand that those seeking to represent us in Congress commit to addressing this

increasingly severe threat before it's too late. Business as usual is no longer an option.

Climate change has no business being a partisan issue. It impacts all of us regardless of party affiliation. And there are bipartisan proposals for effectively addressing it. At this critical time, we need political leaders with the courage to rise above tribal politics and embrace such bipartisan solutions.

Fortunately, this election season provides us with a timely opportunity to impress upon our prospective representatives the critical importance of addressing climate change in the next

Congress. We need to raise the issue whenever possible, ask candidates what actions they're

prepared to take, and let them know that in this election, Mother Nature's warnings will not be

ignored. Then, for the sake of the one big tribe that we all belong to, we need to vote accordingly.

Bill Bussey