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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Divided We Stand

Bad Legislation, Misguided Priorities, Parenting, Politics, Public Policy, Senator Grothman

I had a chat with my state senator recently and among other things she asked me to share my opinion about the mining bill.  I offered that mining has been part of the economy and culture of the iron range for as long as it’s been settled.  If a mining bill could be passed that adequately addressed environmental and tribal concerns I had no problem with it.  We could use the jobs.

In the intervening month the mining bill appears to have died.  A victim of legislative intransigence.  Will there be a demonstration of executive leadership to resuscitate the bill?  That’s anybody’s guess.

Wisconsin has had a difficult time of it lately.  Instead of Packers, dairy, forest products and manufacturing we are now known for unparalleled capitol rallies.  We’ve had protests and bedlam under the rotunda and legislators fleeing across state lines.  Prank calls?  One call, recall.  We even have John Doe investigations and legal defense funds.

You can’t make outrageous stuff like this up.  If you’re a political junkie this is the mother lode. 

Every week I happen to speak with someone from outside of our borders.  If you talk to political junkies in other states they tend to see events playing-out in Wisconsin through the same lens that like-minded Wisconsinites see things.  If you speak with ordinary, non-partisan folks their take goes something like this: Oh!  Wisconsin.  You cheese heads have got some serious bad craziness going on.  It looks like a civil war.

Even in a social setting or a locker room I've witnessed the exchange of sharp words and raised voices.

We are a deeply, deeply, divided state. 

You’d think that the last thing we need is more to fight about.

Nevertheless, just about the time you think that you can savor a short respite of calm before the next fracas you can count upon Senator Glenn Grothman to introduce some superfluous legislation with little purpose except to incite and inflame.  I think he wants to resurrect the culture war.

That’s right. Grothman asserts that there's an epidemic of single parenthood.  And Grothman’s magic elixir for this contagion is to rebuke single women for their transgressions.   In all fairness - SB 507 has a cosigner – Representative Don Pridemore - but Grothman (perhaps deservedly) is attracting most of the attention.

They want to amend existing state law to equate single parenthood with child abuse and neglect.  Here it is:

Section 1. 48.982 (2) (g) 2. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 2. Promote statewide educational and public awareness campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness of the problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

Section 2. 48.982 (2) (g) 4. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 4. Disseminate information about the problems of and methods of preventing child abuse and neglect to the public and to organizations concerned with those problems. In disseminating that information, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

Section 3. 48.982 (2) (gm) of the statutes is amended to read:  48.982 (2) (gm) Provide, for use by the board in its statewide projects under sub. (5) and for use by organizations that receive grants under subs. (4) and (6), educational and public awareness materials and programming that emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect and the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.

I’m the first to agree that there is much work that can be done to reverse a trend that few people approve of.  But adding a dozen or so incendiary words to the law is pretty thin soup in the real-life world of problem solving.

So instead of burning the midnight oil on something exceedingly powerful like salvaging the mining bill Grothman spends his time on nonessential legislation that amounts to nothing more than red meat for the far right.  My sense is that for this Senator provocation over accomplishment should be the order of business.

Odd sense of priorities don’t you think?

I spent a good part of my life raising a daughter by myself without the benefit of marriage so I submit to you that I know more about this subject than the officious senator.  I guess that my former circumstances make me guilty of child neglect as well. 

But I doubt Grothman has the courage to say that to my face.

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