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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Events of the Week: Iraq Invasion Anniversary

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

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This week marks the sixth anniversary of the United States’ invasion and occupation of Iraq. While they don’t create the headlines they used to, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are still costing us the lives and well-being of our soldiers and a huge sum of money that could be used more productively for peaceful ventures at home.

On Thursday, March 19, a forum titled “Postcards from the Front: Impact of the War on Our Community” will be held in the main building at the MATC Milwaukee Campus. Speakers include veterans of the Iraq war, Desert Storm/Desert Shield and veterans’ family members. The forum begins at 10 a.m. and is free and open to the public.

On Friday, Peace Action-Wisconsin will hold its monthly vigil from 5 to 6 p.m. at Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue. If you can’t join them, honk when you see them.

On Saturday, March 21, Milwaukeeans will join hundreds of local actions across the country to protest the war and call for its end. The Milwaukee Coalition for a Just Peace is organizing a rally and march at 1 p.m. at Civic Square/Clas Park on Tenth Street and Wells Avenue. Participants will march past sites that desperately need funding, such as St. Ben’s Clinic for the Homeless and the Milwaukee Public Library.


Heroes of the Week:
Milwaukee County’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Program

A new study of the county’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program confirmed what many have long suspected: Nonviolent offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction are best served outside of prison. The study found that 59% of TAD participants in 2007-2008 changed their ways, so much so that their original criminal charges were reduced or dropped altogether. That saved taxpayers more than $1 million, since TAD participants didn’t need to stay in a prison or jail while undergoing treatment and performing community service. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a champion of TAD, said he was “pleased, but not surprised.” Despite this success, the program’s state funding of $375,000 annually will remain level; the rising cost of providing services means that fewer TAD participants can be served unless other sources of funding can be secured.


Jerk of the Week: State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

We can’t help it. State A.G. J.B. Van Hollen is a frequent Jerk of the Week because he’s on the wrong side of the issues again and again. This week he’s spouting off on Gov. Jim Doyle’s plans to save money in the corrections system—namely, by starting to roll back Wisconsin’s draconian truth-in-sentencing law, an irresponsibly expensive plan hatched by Van Hollen’s frequent rival for Jerk of the Week, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, back when he was in the state Assembly. Doyle’s plan would allow some nonviolent offenders to be released from prison early. Even the union that represents correctional employees supports the plan, saying that it would provide inmates an incentive to get serious about drug treatment or education, and relieve pressure on overcrowded prisons.