Sunday, January 15, 2012

Van Wanggaard: Midnight Cowboy

This week's installment of Van Wanggaard's "Year in Review" on the Patch, Van paints himself as a man of law and order. As a cop, he was tough and serious and he carried a gun ya'll...until Dirty Harry got a disability and hung up his badge and spurs for good.

Yes, Van wants the folks of Mayberry to know he's still fight'n to keep ma & pa from harm and he ain't afraid to play the "keeping the loved ones safe" card.

So let's amp up the criminal danger kids, Van's not afraid to put the fear in overdrive to stay in office a little longer...

Shall we review?

State Sen. Van Wanggaard Reflects on 2011 Public Safety Legislation

As the New Year progresses, I continue to reflect on all that was accomplished in 2011. Last week, which marked the beginning of my new “Year in Review” segment, I recapped some of the ways I helped encourage job growth in 2011. Okay, it's mid January, can we stop with the "New Year" theme? Everyone knows you didn't suddenly start writing your 'I'm The Best Senator" series because it was your New Year's resolution. It's pretty clear your sudden interest in corresponding with your constituents has far more to do with your inevitable recall and the cheap price of newspaper commentaries. Geez.
For the second installment of the segment, I am reviewing how I helped protect southeastern Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens over the past year. From additional taxation? No, you raised taxes. From out of control government spending? No, you increased spending. By providing basic health care to the poorest children in the state? No, you kicked thousands off Badgercare.  I understand the importance of keeping our communities safe, and over the last year I have authored multiple bills specifically designed to protect our citizens and give Wisconsinites peace of mind. Peace of mind. Do you mean the scarcity of jobs, the rise in taxes, deregulated pollution and crowded classrooms? As we look forward to the year ahead, here is a look back at what I’ve done over the past year to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Yes, Van singularly has been keeping you and your loved ones safe. Just him and his Suburban. 
At the beginning of this legislative session, I was pleased to have been appointed Chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee. With my 30 years of experience serving Racine as a police officer, I’ve been able to bring a much-needed law enforcement perspective to state government. My days spent as a traffic cop - sorry - a traffic investigator and high school security guard has made my input invaluable. Too bad your law enforcement perspective did not extend to the right to collectively bargain - a benefit which allowed you to retire early. Protecting our communities, and the most vulnerable members within them, is the number one priority of government. And have nothing to do with the campaign contributions I have personally received from the National Rifle Association or my support and sponsorship of bills written literally by ALEC lobbyists and corporations. As you may expect, given my background and committee chairmanship, I’ve offered multiple bills on public safety. I am pleased to say many of these bills have already become law. Like anyone could have stopped them right?
One of the first bills I introduced this session was “Maddie’s Law.” The idea for this bill was brought to my attention by a local mother whose daughter was sexually abused at a local school. After hearing about this extremely unfortunate incident, we discovered that only teachers and administrators were required to report suspected abuse – other school employees were not. Not true, social workers have also been mandated reporters. Simple facts should not be this difficult. To remedy this, I partnered with Representatives Robin Vos and Bob Turner to draft “Maddie’s Law.” The bill requires all public & private school employees to report suspected abuse, and provides necessary training in spotting abuse. I’m pleased to say that this bill received near-unanimous support in the Legislature and was signed into law last month. Let's spend a moment examining how Van is using this law and a very sad story as a human shield...oh, and to lie about it as well. 

"Maddie's Law" SB 42 is almost everything the Senator says it is and did receive overwhelming support in the State Legislature. It should have. Wisconsin was one of only a few states left which did not have a mandatory abuse report procedure for all school staff - a failure of previous administrations to be sure.

"Maddie's Law" in spite of what Wanggaard (or his staff) has written does not cover private schools. This is either a huge mistake or a blatant lie. Van's bill to include mandated reporting for all school staff and abuse training is for public school districts specifically - not private or parochial schools. 

Read it for yourself. 

Under the guise of child safety and a sincere belief to close a loophole which resulted in a sad and criminal incident - Van excluded private schools in the bill but says he did not. The Siren understands that media outlets like the Patch have limited resources and budgets, but this kind of distortion presented unchecked is disturbing. Again, simple facts should not be this difficult. 

Sexual abuse is a very serious subject and as adults we are all responsible to protect children from harm. No one can argue that point. "Maddie's Law" is a good start, but grossly incomplete. Try finding statistics on sexual abuse in children by educators without wading through dozens of results on sexual abuse by Catholic priests - you can't. In his crusade to protect the children, Van also left intact a provision in state law which exempts clergy from reporting sexual, physical and neglect if it was discovered through confession. Weird.

On the subject of child safety, partnered with "Maddie's Law" and signed in to law on the very same day was a bill that Van doesn't mention so much - but voted for - was SB 45. 

Senate Bill 45 reduces the training for school nurses by half and also allows school staff,volunteers and even bus drivers to dispense OTC medication without any training at all. NO TRAINING AT ALL.  The bill allows for medication to be brought to school in unmarked packaging without manufacturer instructions, advised medical dosage or ingredients. 

Wanna guess the kind of pills kids have brought from home in baggies that smart and trained school nurses knew was incorrect?

Because of the possibility for medical mishap, not to mention tragedy, Van and his friends were careful to insert an immunity clause for staff members who accidentally harm or kill a student...cause he cares for the safety of our children that much.   

Half of all nurses in a recent University of Iowa survey reported medication error in their schools. With a stunning increase in childhood asthma, food allergies and prescribed medications to treat learning and behavioral challenges (to name just a few) - all ingested while at school - Van supported and voted to erase the training and knowledge necessary to dispense prescription and non-prescription safely by properly trained nurses and turned back the clock on Wisconsin law by over 20 years according to one school nurse.

The Beaver Dam school district alone, dispenses over 14,000 oral medications year each not to mention the variety of illnesses and injuries that pass through a school nurses door each and every day - by all means, lets train them LESS.

Which law do you suppose has a greater effect on the safety and well-being of Wisconsin's children?    

Another early success was the repeal of Governor Doyle’s misguided Early Release Program. The Early Release Program essentially repealed truth-in-sentencing, and allowed bureaucrats to release convicted felons from prison early. Why pass up the opportunity for the state to pay $2750 a year on parolees when it can spend $29,000 on a prisoner instead. Sadly, this included people convicted of reckless homicide, drunk driving, child abuse, and arson who often reoffended. In Racine alone, the initial recidivism rate of these offenders was more than 35% - twice the typical state average. Either false or a highly selectively used number - we could not find one supporting source of this number. However the PEW Center revealed a recidivism rate for early release prisoners in Wisconsin as 17% statewide compared to 28% for non early release - a pretty good result. Despite claims that the program would save the state money, little savings materialized. As it existed for an entire 15 months. While Wisconsin's prison budget grows to a stunning $1.3 BILLION - three times the cost of Minnesota's prison system. A bipartisan group of legislators opposed Early Release when it passed, 15 opposed and 18 for it. and an even larger group of bipartisan legislators agreed when we voted to repeal this dangerous program last spring. Overwhelmingly bi-partisan with 11 opposed and 22 for it. (Sarcasm intended.)
An important part of public safety is empowering individuals to protect themselves and their families. That’s why I authored the “Castle Doctrine” bill that passed in the fall. Also my new friends at ALEC and campaign contributors at the NRA PAC have been trying to pass this one for years. (Understand that Van did not first introduce this bill, he was just the latest. Van did not "author" the bill in the way he'd like you to think, that was done for him by ALEC.) This bill has a simple premise – people shouldn’t have to worry about defending themselves in their own home. And they haven't since the 1950's - the presumption of justified force has been around for decades. What Van's bill adds to an already adequate law is the presumption of mistaken justification. As in...I thought it was an intruder, but I mistakenly shot my cheating husband in the face. Oops, my bad. Can I go home now? My bill provides a presumption of self defense if you are attacked in your own home, car or business. Even if it comes out in trial that it may not have been a clear case of self-defense. It is important to note that this bill is about protecting life, not property. Or the poor schmuck who rings the wrong door bell.... and it is also about buying more guns, lots more guns You shouldn’t have to flee the sanctuary of your own home when threatened, and victims shouldn’t have to decide between the potential of being sued and protecting their loved ones. And you never really had to worry about it before. The Castle Doctrine is on the top 10 hit list for the billionaires at ALEC and since Wanggaard charged you - the taxpayer - for his membership to ALEC - he's just making sure you know he's all over it. This bill also passed both houses with strong bipartisan support, and was signed into law last month. Even though the Wisconsin State Bar's Criminal Law Section of 600 judges, prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers and academics all opposed the bill. What do they know anyway?
Finally, with personal safety in mind, And not my recall at all. I’ve taken the lead on several bills to address domestic violence in our state. Isn't it a shame that Van used the first nine months of his time voting lock step with Republicans instead of collaborating on some bills that actually help people. By the time he awoke to the fact that it is all those first votes that have turned voters against him - he decides now to try legislating. One of these bills helps victims of domestic abuse by simplifying the process to apply for and receive restraining orders to protect themselves from cyber-harassment or threats through social media in Wisconsin. Which sadly, law enforcement officers say they don't know how they will prove. The second bill strengthens the penalties for violating a 72-hour no contact order, and strengthens protections for domestic abuse witnesses. Van doesn't even mention the bill raises the fine for violating a restraining order from $1000 to $10, makes you wonder if he even has read it. Both of these bills passed the Assembly with wide support, and were voted out of my Senate committee this past week. That I signed on to them this fall when my recall looked like a real proposition is a mere coincidence. There was no cynical motive to save my skin involved at all.  January is “Stalking Awareness Month” which raises public awareness and reaffirms the need to strengthen protections for victims. So it seems appropriate I began with this month to stalk my constituents with free media space trying to prove I'm really not such a bad guy - a refrain used by many a stalker before me. I was pleased we could take action on this important issue, and I hope both of these bills will pass the Senate this spring.
Keeping our community safe requires constant vigilance. And maybe some corrections officers who's jobs you have cut. People have a right to feel safe in their homes, in their city and in their state. A high crime rate leads to economic decay and job loss – a trend I am working to reverse. The state crime rate is down cowboy. How about some jobs? That’s why I remain committed to public safety, and why it will continue to be one of my top priorities during 2012. Van's top priority in 2012 will be staying in office.