- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wisconsin State Journal, April 8

Badgers won with discipline, smarts

It wasn’t that they won all those games, reaching the Final Four and then some.

It was how they won.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team stood out on the national stage this season for reasons the Dukes and Kentuckys of the college sports world can’t touch.

Thank you, Coach Bo Ryan and Co., for the example and lift your team gave to our city and state.

Sports does matter, far beyond its entertainment value. And in many ways, this year’s UW team reflected Madison and Wisconsin - who we are, and who we want to be.

The Badgers didn’t win it all, of course. Monday’s loss to the Duke Blue Devils in the national championship game was heartbreaking.

But what a ride it was. The team methodically built large leads or came roaring back from deficits throughout the season, using heart and discipline to drive its unprecedented success.

The Badgers never had the raw talent of the blueblood teams loaded with future NBA stars, many of whom have no intention of graduating from college.

Yet the Badgers proved nearly unstoppable because of how they worked together as one and believed in themselves. Our city and state could use more of that.

They made their free throws and rarely turned the ball over (though that slipped at the end). They played tough defense without committing many fouls. They followed their game plan of crisp passing and patiently waiting for open shots or mismatches.

The Badgers were never the flashiest team, just as our state isn’t showy. Jet-setters on the Coasts dismiss Wisconsin as “flyover country.”

But Wisconsin understands work hard. And the Badgers always exemplified that. They played with guts. And they played for fun.

Most of all, they played smart, living up to the reputation of the university and city they represent.

They even did their homework.

The Badgers men’s basketball team has graduated all of its players in recent years. And that’s unlikely to change. All of this year’s seniors - Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and Duje Dukan - are on track to earn diplomas, according to UW officials.

Sophomore Nigel Hayes even taught the nation some new words, such as “cattywampus” and “antidisestablishmentarianism,” while playfully testing the skill of stenographers drafting transcripts of press conferences during the NCAA tournament. His quirky sense of humor matched Madison’s offbeat charm.

Our city and state aren’t known for high culture or fashion. Heck, some of us wear blocks of foam cheese on our heads.

But this Badgers team was undeniably classy, helping to brand Madison and Wisconsin as a winning city and state.

Congratulations, Badgers! We can’t wait until next year.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 7

Walker’s budget taking state in wrong direction on runoff pollution

Once again, Gov. Scott Walker’s budget is taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction. Instead of spending more to curb runoff pollution, the 2015-‘17 budget actually cuts programs that address the problem. That not only weakens protections for the state’s waterways, it undercuts administration officials who say they’re committed to reducing runoff pollution.

Last week, we urged both the state and federal governments to do more to reduce runoff pollution from farms and urban landscapes. With so-called point pollution from treatment plants and industrial sites at least under a watchful eye thanks to the Clean Water Act and other laws, non-point runoff from farms and other sources has become the state’s most serious water pollution problem.

A dead zone in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay highlights the problem, as we noted in last week’s editorial: In 1990, the dead zone in Green Bay was gone after four days, according to figures from the City of Green Bay’s wastewater utility. Last summer, areas of the bay where virtually nothing lives lasted 43 days. This summer’s dead zones are expected to be bigger and last longer.

The problem is largely the result of phosphorus (used in fertilizer) and other nutrients that wash off of farms and development and produce conditions that create oxygen-deprived stretches in the bay. It’s not just a farm problem, but farms that are less regulated than industrial facilities and sewerage plants, are a big part of the problem.

And the state budget over the next two years doesn’t help those farmers: It would cut $5.7 million in spending in various natural resources and agriculture programs designed to stem the flow of fertilizer, manure and other grit and grime into the state’s lakes, rivers and streams, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Yet, at a runoff “summit” in Green Bay last week called by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said that fighting runoff pollution is still a high priority for the department. And she said that counties were the “boots on the ground” agencies that could get voluntary cooperation from farmers and others, something the DNR has struggled with.

That’s right, but it doesn’t help if the state cuts funds that help counties work with their communities. Jim VandenBrook, executive director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, which represents county land conservation departments, said, “The irony seemed a bit thick to me. The idea that the counties have this trust with farmers is true, but the budget whacks them.”

Since 1997, VandenBrook said, state funding for county land conservation staff has fallen 38% to $8 million for the biennium.

And Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, had this to say: “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say addressing runoff is a priority and undercut or underfund the very resources that do something about it.”

He’s right. Stepp cannot keep her commitment if the budget doesn’t give her the resources to do so. Since Walker’s budgeteers have failed to do that, it’s up to the Legislature to provide those necessary resources.


Post-Crescent Media, April 4

Get child porn victims restitution

It’s all about making it easier for victims of one of the most horrific types of crimes.

As much as we try not to think about it, there are Wisconsinites who were raped and abused as children, and the sick men and women involved filmed the incidents. Then, they distributed the digital files around the globe.

It’s absolutely stomach-turning.

But, fortunately, there is something we as a state can do about it. In fact, we have a responsibility to help make the futures of these victims just a little more normal.

The problem is that victims of child porn cases deserve to be paid restitution from those who made money off of them. They deserve the money to help pay for counseling because they know the images can never really be scrubbed from the Internet. They deserve money because they went through an incredibly disgusting experience and the money belongs in their bank accounts, not in the hands of deranged criminals responsible for this $3 billion industry.

They never get it.

Gannett Wisconsin Investigative Team reporter Shereen Siewert sorted through horrible documents, talked to victims and consulted with legal experts. She found that, although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that victims are entitled to restitution, no Wisconsin victim has ever been awarded restitution in a federal child pornography case, according to Wisconsin Department of Justice records.

It’s quite a complicated problem, but one that can and must be solved.

In many cases, victims aren’t identified until well after the criminal responsible for distributing the images has been sentenced. Judges can’t go back into the case at that point, so victims are forced to file a civil suit, either by hiring an attorney or by attempting to navigate sometimes complicated legal waters alone.

It’s going to take a statutory change to make it easier for victims to get what they’re legally entitled to. Wisconsin should make it as easy as possible for these victims who could be in a fragile emotional state.

We have to find a way for victims verified by the National Child Victim Identification Program or a similar group to be able fill out a simple form and get the restitution due to them.

Should a victim be identified months or even years down the road, the judge should be able to re-open the case and order restitution.

We know it sounds like a simple fix, but it does present legal challenges for our legislators. We have the confidence that they can sort through it and find a solution.

If anyone needs the law on their side, it’s these victims of child pornography.



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