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Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010

Issue of the Week: Reining in CCAP

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We generally like the state’s online Consolidated Court Automation Programs (otherwise known as CCAP) for providing information about individuals’ court histories. But there’s a downside to such openness: People who have been accused but later found innocent and people whose cases are pending and may be innocent still have this information on the CCAP Web site for the public, including potential employers, to see. That’s why we support AB 663, which would restrict access to CCAP. Under the bill, the general public could still access information, but it would be limited to criminal convictions, civil liabilities, evictions and restraining orders or injunctions. Information about pending charges and charges for which an individual was acquitted would not be available to the public. Law enforcement officers, court officials, attorneys, journalists and licensed debt collectors could access the full database. We think this is a sensible compromise between the public’s right to know and preserving innocent people’s privacy.

Hero of the Week

La’Ketta Caldwell

Many individuals and groups took part in last month’s annual “Day of Service,” inspired by the late Martin Luther King Jr. Others, such as La’Ketta Caldwell of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, make improving the community their life’s work. Caldwell heads the “Ladies Making a Difference Keystone Club” at St. Joan Antida High School. The student group, which works year-round to promote literacy and reading among area youth, visits local churches and other organizations to stress the importance of reading.

Working with the belief that those who cannot read cannot reasonably expect to become free thinkers or active members of society, Caldwell’s group helps children obtain library cards and familiarizes them with the library system. For her efforts with the young women of St. Joan Antida High School to cultivate a more literate Milwaukee, the ShepherdExpress honors Caldwell as our Hero of the Week.

Jerk of the Week

State Rep. Robin Vos

Not many people would complain about an $823 million investment in Wisconsin. But state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) isn’t happy with the federal government’s decision to fund high-speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison, and eventually to the Twin Cities. This huge injection of stimulus funds will no doubt bolster the state’s economy, create jobs and lessen our dependence on Big Oil by improving the infrastructure of much-needed public transit. And, besides, isn’t it time that Wisconsin got some of our tax dollars back from the federal government? We competed for this project and we won.

But that’s not good enough for Vos. Even though $8 billion for high-speed rail was included in the larger federal stimulus package passed by Congress last year, Vos is fuming about the cost. “It’s another example where when you don’t care about the debt burden we’re leaving for our children, it’s awfully easy to spend their money,” Vos told a reporter. Apparently Vos would prefer for the stimulus money to go to another state, while his constituents remain stuck in traffic and the state shells out money to the very politically connected road builders year after year after year.

Project of the Week

Dryhootch Finds New Home on Brady Street with NAMI and Steinhafels’ Help

Dryhootch is a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) support group for veterans, by veterans, that the Shepherd has written about and supported in the past. The group has found a new home at 1030 E. Brady St. with the support of the NAMI-Greater Milwaukee. At the new location, Dryhootch will offer its family support groups and peer meetings for the Milwaukee Police Department POST team. During the next few weeks, Dryhootch will be converting space into a coffeehouse for the veterans’ community. The vets will get a big boost from Steinhafels, which is donating $5,000 worth of furniture to help Dryhootch set up in its new home. For more information, go to www.dryhootch.org.

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