- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 16

A discouraged electorate is hardly a surprise

The picture that emerges from the latest Marquette University Law School Poll with more than four months to go before election day is of a discouraged, disillusioned electorate - a bunch of voters who don’t much like their choices.

This isn’t surprising, given that one of the candidates for president has done anything he can to coarsen the tone of politics in the nation. As a result, 74 percent of independents in the MU poll say they are uncomfortable with the idea of Donald Trump as president. Smart people.

But the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, doesn’t fare that much better. Of that same group - Wisconsin independents - 64 percent felt the same way about Clinton. In fact, the leader among independents was, essentially, none of the above. The combined 35 percent of those who said “neither” or “didn’t know” outpolls either Trump or Clinton.

As we have written previously, Trump has shown himself unfit for office - his lame attempts at political gain out of the tragedy of the terrorist killings in Orlando is only the latest of his many transgressions. He is proudly uninformed, promising only the shelter of a supposed strong man.

But Clinton has problems of her own. She has a long record of secrecy, going back to the earliest days of her husband President Bill Clinton’s administration. And fairly or note, many voters remain wary of her.

Two more polarizing political figures rarely have shared the same political stage.

In the Marquette poll, Clinton leads Trump by seven points among registered voters and by nine points among likely voters. Trump’s prospects among Republicans have improved with a bare majority now viewing him favorably, but 35 percent of state GOP voters do not - an astonishing statistic this deep into the campaign.

The shame in all this, of course, is that voters here and across the country deserve a real discussion with real proposals about the most important issues facing the nation: national security and terrorism, the economy, crumbling infrastructure, trade. They are getting none of that from Trump, whose prescriptions - including deporting all undocumented immigrants and walling off the country from Muslims - border on the absurd. Clinton, at least, offers deep experience and thoughtful ideas for discussion, though whether she will be able to engage Trump is anyone’s guess.

The only good news amid all this cynicism is that there remains plenty of time for both candidates to have an authentic discussion. And it still appears that Wisconsin, a longtime battleground state, may still play a key role in determining the winner. President Barack Obama is expected to campaign for Clinton in the state in the coming days as she tries to consolidate support from independents and supporters of her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It’s disheartening to see so many clearly disaffected voters. But given the tenor of the campaign so far - and what’s likely to come - it’s hardly a surprise.


The Journal Times of Racine, June 19

Taxpayers deserve to know UW budget details before it’s passed

It’s one thing to attend to due diligence, double-check your numbers and make sure final budget documents are correct before releasing them.

It’s another thing to withhold information from the public - and, more importantly, from the taxpayers.

Yet, that is exactly what University of Wisconsin System officials did when they withheld budget documents this month until 90 minutes before the Board of Regents voted on the $6.2 billion 2016-17 budget.

UW system spokesman Alex Hummel initially told reporters that the system would release the budget on June 8, the day before the system budget was to be voted on, according to media reports.

Then, in an email, Hummel reportedly claimed officials were still working “to finalize the budget information.”

It was not publicly released until the regents started their meeting.

It was then, that the public - through the media - learned the details of the system’s spending and revenue plan.

The state has prohibited the system from raising undergraduate tuition but that doesn’t mean they cannot find other ways to raise money.

Under the system’s budget, fees will increase an average of $59 per student across the system and La Crosse students will face a $259 increase to cover the cost of a new student center and field house.

It’s not unusual for government agencies to turn to fees, but it’s not the same thing as holding the line on tuition. Whether it’s a tuition increase or a fee increase, it still means the same thing: more money out of students’ and parents’ pockets. Happy Father’s Day, dads - now fork over the money.

Those fee increases should be vetted; they shouldn’t be passed through in the dark. It’s just as bad as the Legislature voting in the middle of the night on bills.

Of all public institutions, the UW System should be extra concerned about disclosure to the public.

About two years ago, the public became outraged after learning about the UW System’s $648 million in cash reserves, following six years of steep tuition increases.

Between the 2007-2008 academic school year and 2012-13 school year, tuition across the UW System’s four-year schools increased 5.5 percent annually, while the system built up its reserves.

Then the governor stepped in and said that enough is enough.

In addition, this year faculty on campuses throughout the system took votes of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross, concerning proposed tenure changes.

How does withholding budget documents from the public instill any confidence in the system?

It doesn’t.


Kenosha News, June 14

Speaker Ryan, please reconsider

Not quite two weeks ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan - Kenosha County’s congressman - took the plunge and endorsed Donald Trump’s Republican bid for the presidency.

It wasn’t a short leap for Ryan, who had earlier expressed concerns about Trump’s brash style and some of his positions. Ryan had said he “wasn’t ready” to endorse Trump, and Trump countered that he wasn’t ready to support Ryan’s House agenda.

Then the moment that many observers had believed was inevitable happened: Ryan, on June 2, penned a guest column in his hometown Janesville Gazette, writing that it was Trump, not presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whom he believed would sign into law the agenda that Ryan and his colleagues were setting forth.

Ryan-Trump never seemed an ideal match. Ryan, in a June 3 interview with this editorial board, continued to condemn Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from immigrating into the United States. “I think he’s wrong,” Ryan said then of the Trump controversy du jour, Trump’s insistence a “Mexican” judge - who was born in Indiana, by the way - was biased against Trump in a case involving one of his businesses.

“I will continue to speak out when the need arises,” Ryan said then. “I hope it doesn’t have to arise too often.”

Then came Orlando - and Trump’s doubling down on anti-Muslim rhetoric that threatens to drive an ever deeper chasm in our deeply divided country.

Trump said the temporary ban on Muslims coming to the United States that he is proposing would remain in place until the government can “properly and perfectly” screen immigrants, The Associated Press reported. Furthermore, he said he’d “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies.”

He effectively blamed Muslim communities for failing to turn in “people who they know are bad.” ”They do know where they are,” he added.

Of the Orlando nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, Trump noted he was “born to Afghan parents who immigrated to the United States.” Never mind that Mateen’s father had already, very publicly, denounced his son’s actions, saying he would have arrested him himself had he known of the deadly attack to come.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric “not the America we want.” And even high-ranking Republicans were quick to distance themselves from Trump’s anti-pluralist talk.

Which brings us back to Ryan, who, for his part, weighed in Tuesday, saying he didn’t think a ban on immigration was “in our country’s interest” or “reflective of our principles not just as a party, but as a country.”

Ryan is a politician whose principles have inspired us over the years, even when we’ve disagreed with his positions. Now is the time for him to exercise those principles.

Speaker Ryan, our congressman, we ask you, respectfully, to rethink your endorsement of Mr. Trump for president.

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