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Local Government

Built Against Substantive Change

Over time, no matter how small the city, national conditions and trends make their way to the edge of town. Some towns will address these conditions, but others will be resistant to substantive change. For those towns in the latter category, business as usual and rhetorical feints suffice in response to powerful forces to which…

Mentoring

When a small community like Whitewater comes to rely on hundreds of non-resident commuters to provide services (for city, schools, or university), those commuters will have a different work relationship than resident workers. (About these workers see The Commuter Class.) Many will be less attached to the community (as they’ve freely chosen to live elsewhere…

After a News Desert

A news desert is a community without coverage from a daily newspaper. If coverage means timely newspaper reporting on a city’s principal public meetings and events, then Whitewater has been a news desert since the nearby Daily Jefferson County Union stopped reporting on Whitewater’s common council & school board meetings. If coverage means timely, insightful,…

Cameras, Not Committees

Recent protests across America against excessive and biased use of police force began after ordinary people in those communities recorded official (to the point of murderous) actions, and then shared their recordings with others. It was not government – local, state, or federal – that promptly shared these recordings of excessive force; it was ordinary…

The Lingering Problem of Local Exceptionalism

A common error in small rural communities is the persistent, false claim that local officials are examples of a local exceptionalism that makes them implicitly immune from the flaws and mistakes that beset the rest of humanity. Under this thinking, while there may be problems in the wider world, there are no local examples of…

Practical Implications After Wisconsin v. Palm: The Divide over the Novel Coronavirus

On March 24th, I first began a draft of this post. It seemed to probable then – and it is true now – that Trump would effectually abandon a social distancing or stay-at-home approach, and encourage business as usual to resume promptly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling in Wisconsin v. Palm has brought that abandonment to Wisconsin…

A Necessary Public Policy Question

Now, and ending one knows not when, public policy proposals that involve human interaction should address, as a necessary element, the question of whether the coronavirus pandemic affects the proposal. A person might assume that he could walk through a forest without ever encountering a wolf, and even convince himself that, by power of suggestion…

Consumer Sentiment

Much of the ‘reopening’ advocacy rests on the idea that after allowing a business to reopen, that business will see an adequate return of customers. While some businesses may see adequate customer demand, it’s almost certain that others will not. It has never been true that simply opening a business would assure its survival. If…

The Reopening Debate Will Turn on Consumer Demand

The push to reopen Wisconsin will only effectively benefit retail businesses if consumer demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.  Consumer demand will only return to pre-pandemic levels if consumers feel safe.  Some retail demand will return as soon as shops and restaurants open; the marketplace question is whether consumer demand returns to something like pre-pandemic levels.…

Local Voting & Voting Locally in Whitewater

The spring election, conducted during a pandemic, is now behind Wisconsin. There’s little question that statewide, it was a good night for Jill Karofsky and Lisa Neubauer. (I supported both candidates.) Whitewater – the city proper – also supported these candidates. A majority of the city’s voters did, in fact, prefer these voters even while…

APG Was Always Going to Play a Vulture’s Role

One reads that APG, the out-of-state newspaper chain that purchased two local family papers (Janesville Gazette, Daily Jefferson County Union) is slashing the salaries of those papers’ employees. A few remarks — I’m not a newspaperman, and have never aspired to be one. Bloggers are modern-day pamphleteers, reviving a tradition that was robust during our…