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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Issue of the Week: Supporting the Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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The latest news of children being abused by Catholic clergy is heart-wrenching. Innocent victims of a despicable crime must be able to seek justice, even if that justice is long delayed. Unfortunately, most victims are unable to have their day in court because the statute of limitations has run out by the time they have found the courage and resources to seek help in the criminal justice system.

The state Legislature can help these innocent victims by acting on the Child Victims Act, which has been approved by one Assembly committee, before the session ends on April 22.

The bill would eliminate the statute of limitations on civil cases involving the sexual assault of a child. It would also give victims a three-year window of opportunity to act on allegations that would otherwise be too old.

The Child Victims Act is absolutely necessary to bring child sex abusers to justice and also prevent pedophiles from acting again.

We understand that the Catholic hierarchy does not support this legislation. But church leaders have not acted in good faith in the past. They have denied and covered up decades of abuse instead of protecting the most vulnerable members of their congregation—children. Because of this horrific legacy, the state must intervene and allow victims to bring forward cases that would otherwise be buried.

Hero of the Week

E.B. Garner

Few rights of passage are as memorable as the first time a child goes fishing with an adult. For many city kids without transportation or access to outlying lakes, however, that opportunity never arrives.

Enter E.B. Garner, a crucial player in the Urban Ecology Center’s mission of connecting children with nature. Every Wednesday during the summer, Garner, a retired Milwaukee County Parks worker, leads dozens of youth on free fishing expeditions in Washington Park (1859 N. 40th St) from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Garner provides the poles and instructs participants in fishing techniques.

In addition to his weekly outings, Garner also hosts “E.B Garner’s Fishing Day” (June 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a free family event where all of the “how-to” basics of fishing are taught.

Adults who wish to assist Garner in fostering environmental stewardship among Milwaukee’s children are encouraged to contact the Urban Ecology Center’s Washington Park branch at (414) 344-5460 or visit www.urbanecologycenter.org.

Jerk of the Week

Scott Walker

It’s amazing how Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker can cook the books and twist the true meaning of words to boast about his management of Milwaukee County finances when the facts show quite the opposite. Walker is bragging about an unaudited report showing that the county may have an $8.9 million surplus for 2009. But Walker fails to note that the county also has a massive hole in its 2010 budget and hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities and deferred maintenance.

Honest accountants or comptrollers will tell you that you should responsibly address a deficit by either cutting costs or raising revenues. Essentially, you pay for your operating or recurring expenses in the current year. Walker did make some budget cuts, but that only goes part of the way. Instead of doing the difficult and responsible thing of raising revenues or increasing some fees, Walker just borrows the money, which puts the burden on future property taxpayers, or kicks the problem down the road so someone else will fix it. Thanks, Scott. Hopefully, you will not have the same opportunity to implement your voodoo economics on the entire state.

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