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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Issue of the Week:Saving Mass Transit

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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Transit advocates should be applauded for their tireless support of legislation that would allow interim regional transit authorities (RTAs) to be launched throughout the state. That move would foster reliable mass transit systems in communities as diverse as the Fox Valley, Eau Claire, Madison and southeastern Wisconsin. Here in Milwaukee County, thanks to County Executive Scott Walker’s anti-public-investment “starve the beast” philosophy, the bus system is on life support. In contrast, an RTA would provide dedicated funding for mass transit using a half-cent sales tax increase, thereby taking transit costs completely off of the property tax rolls. Strong mass transit—local and regional buses as well as the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail line and proposed high-speed rail—is essential for the state’s economic and environmental health. Legislators should pass this bill quickly.

Event of the Week

Repairers of the Breach Fund-Raiser

Help the homeless by having a great time at the April 12 fund-raiser for Repairers of the Breach, an exceptionally well-run nonprofit that is one of the city’s best support systems for this vulnerable population. The event will be held at the Harley-Davidson Museum’s second-floor Rumble Room, where from 6 to 8 p.m. there will be free food, two complimentary glasses of wine or beer, music, videos and a free ticket to the museum. Tickets cost $125. For more information and tickets, call 291-6161.

Hero of the Week

Christian Kerhin

When Christian Kerhin, an I.T. professional at Stamm Business Technologies, saw the desperate need for a computer systems upgrade at Gilda’s Club of Southeastern Wisconsin, he took direct action to make it happen.

Gilda’s Club (4050 N. Oakland Ave.) offers a free environment where people with cancer and their families and friends can gather for social and emotional support. A longtime friend of Gilda’s Club, Kerhin took it upon himself to organize an independent fund-raising event at the Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden on March 25.

Thanks to his efforts, this crucial community resource for individuals and families coping with cancer diagnoses will be better equipped to serve those in need of support.

Readers who wish to volunteer their time at Gilda’s Club are urged to visit www.gildasclubsewi.org for more information.

Jerk of the Week

State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin)

Seems that conservative Republicans love the Constitution so much they can’t stop changing it. Not content with the recent homophobic amendment to the state Constitution, now Republican state Sen. Mary Lazich wants to add paranoia to it. Lazich is calling on legislative leaders to hold a hearing on her proposed amendment, which would prohibit the health insurance mandate in the recent federal reform package from taking effect in the state. Lazich is just playing on paranoid fantasies with this stunt. First, the health insurance mandate is a Republican idea, one that even had the support of Wisconsin’s own Tommy Thompson. Second, the “mandate” is so weak it’s laughable, despite what right-wing entertainers will have you believe about IRS storm troopers. Lazich should cater to the extremists in her party on her own time—not the Legislature’s.