Voters in the cities of Whitewater and Fort Atkinson showed their support for the Move to Amend Referendum on April 2. An overwhelming majority voted “yes” to the movement.
In Fort Atkinson 76 percent of voters supported the referendum totaling 1,312 votes with only 325 “no” votes. Whitewater reported 84 percent of voters saying “yes” to the referendum totaling 1,013 and 198 “no” votes.
Dan Fary, of the Town of Oakland, who helped organize the Rock River Affiliate of Move to Amend said, “it just shows the overwhelming support that citizens have for a constitutional amendment to return control of the democracy to the citizens.”
The referendum was placed on the April 2 ballot, through petition, in response to the United States Supreme Court ruling from 2010 in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The proposed referendum read, “Resolved, that ‘We the People’ of the City of Fort Atkinson (Whitewater), Wisconsin, seek to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending. We stand with the Move to Amend campaign and communities across the country to support passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution stating: 1. Only human beings – not corporations, limited liability companies, unions, nonprofit organizations or similar associations and corporate entities – are endowed with constitutional rights, and, 2. Money is not speech, and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech. Be it further resolved, that we hereby instruct our state and federal representatives to enact resolutions and legislation to advance this effort.”
The purpose of the referendum, brought by the Rock River Affiliate of Move to Amend, is to repeal the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision which granted corporations the same rights as individual citizens and OK’d “corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections.”
James Hartwick of Whitewater said, “I am surprised and pleased by the outpouring of the average person saying enough is enough,” and the result showed “strong bipartisan support to get big money out of elections.”
Move to Amend was formed in September 2009, and is a coalition of hundreds of organizations. The coalition currently has affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
The Citizens United ruling has been a controversial topic. President Barack Obama has leaned toward supporting the Move to Amend movement which became a big campaign talking point during the last presidential elections. In a statement made from the White House on July 26,2010 Obama said, the Citizens United decision “is damaging to our democracy.”
Groups in favor of the ruling have argued that the Supreme Court decision upheld citizen’s First Amendment rights acting through corporations and allowed them to participate in political processes. Supporters also claim that the decision struck down statutes limiting their rights to political speech.
The Citizens United organization’s goal, according to their website, is “to restore the founding fathers’ vision of a free nation, guided by the honesty, common sense, and good will of its citizens.”
It is very difficult for the Constitution to be amended. An amendment must first be proposed by either two-thirds of the members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Congress or at a convention called by two-thirds of the states. After the proposal the amendment must be ratified by either three-fourths of the state legislatures or three-fourths ratifying conventions in the states.
In the past 200 years there have only been 27 amendments to the Constitution.
Melissa Haffner @ April 9, 2013
By MELISSA HAFFNER
In a unanimous vote Tuesday the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors welcomed the Wisconsin College of Osteopathic Medicine to the community. The community is enthusiastic about the project as it is has the potential to bring the local economy up to $65 million per year in new revenue.
Dr. Gregg Silberg, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin College of Osteopathic Medicine, presented to the board and said classes are projected to begin in August 2015 with at least 100 students registered. Dr. Silberg is anticipating that 85% of the students will be from Wisconsin and tuition will be approximately $40,000 a year.
The school will be located on the Eastern side of town where the former St. Coletta’s was located, now known as Sanctuary Ridge. The development of the site is set to begin as early as this summer.
The college has chosen the Jefferson location for numerous reasons including the city’s broadband availability which will assist in the functioning of the highly technologically advanced equipment that will be used on the campus. The university will be almost entirely electronic.
Currently the school is working towards its accreditation and is roughly 20% complete. Jefferson County will not be contributing any funds, which was a concern for board members. Funding for the college will come from various contributors including private donors, foundations, and possibly state and federal grants and loans.
An open house will be held on April 19th for the public. Anyone who is interested can tour the areas at Sanctuary Ridge and see what is going to be built.
In other action Tuesday:
Kathi Cauley named Interim County Administrator
County Administrator Gary Petre attended his last County Board meeting. Petre, is retiring, and will be replaced by Kathi Cauley as Interim County Administrator.
Cauley, who currently is the Director of Human Services for the county, will serve on a part-time basis until a replacement for Petre is found.
The county is working with a consultant and will be looking at roughly 40 to 60 potential candidates. The board hopes to have the position filled by the end of May.
Cauley will begin serving as Interim County Administrator on April 1st.
Asbestos found at Old Countryside Home
The county has been negotiating to buy the Old Countryside Home to serve as the new headquarters for the highway department. During a recent inspection of the property approximately $330,000 worth of asbestos was discovered that would need to be removed prior to the county purchasing the property.
The county had been informed that this asbestos problem had been taken care of by the previous owner. Now the issue has become bigger than anticipated. The asbestos is located in a shaft underneath the building that will be difficult to reach without compromising the integrity of the property.
The bank has requested more time to investigate the asbestos problem, and the closing date has now been pushed back.
April 2013 named Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month
The board proclaimed that April will be Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in Jefferson County. The dedication will be a way to bring awareness to the ongoing issues in society affecting many children in Jefferson County.
The idea was brought forth by the Human Services Board to help citizens learn about maltreatment prevention and ways to encourage parents to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.
Development of Highway Department’s Storage Facility Stalled
A project which has been in the works since 2011 has been stalled yet again. A proposed salt storage facility which will be located in the Lake Mills area will serve as additional salt storage space for the Jefferson County Highway Department.
The Highway Committee and Infrastructure Committee proposed Tuesday to have Barrientos Design complete the project for $77,215. The board members however were not ready to authorize the final contract for the completion of the project.
Many members commented showing concerns about the project, the general consensus being that the project should be allowed to be bid on by other companies. In a vote of 8 to 20 the project was sent back to the committee for reconsideration.
Melissa Haffner @ March 19, 2013