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Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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Friday - July 13, 2018 8:59 am

WEDC writes off $1 million loan

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation doesn't exactly have a great track record of success. The state agency tasked with creating job has a long history of giving our tax dollars to companies which promise to create jobs, but don't. They have provided job creation grants to companies which don't deserve them, and they have not always followed up to ensure the companies are doing what they promise. So it is little surprise that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation isn't always getting our money's worth. Now comes word that the agency is writing off more than $1 million in loans it made to a now bankrupt company in northeastern Wisconsin. Green Box, a waste recycling company has been plagued by scandal for years.They lied on their application for the state grant and after not creating all the jobs it promised, simply stopped paying the state back. Its owner has been sentenced to prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. So that is $1 million of our tax dollars we will never get back. Critics of the job creation agency wonder if WEDC can't enforce a $1 million loan, how can we trust them with to ensure the $4.5 billion the state is giving to Foxconn to build its new plant and create all those promised jobs is money well spent? State lawmakers should hold WEDC's feet to the fire and make sure that with the Foxconn grant, Wisconsin taxpayers don't get conned yet again.

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Thursday - July 12, 2018 6:01 am

Play fair in Supreme Court nomination process

Some are understandably worried about the nomination of a conservative judge to the United States Supreme Court. And they may be willing to do just about anything to keep Brett Kavanaugh from gaining a seat on the nation's highest court. Increasingly we are seeing the politicization of the process of appointing Supreme Court judges. It likely began in 1987 when Robert Bork was nominated for the position by President Reagan. It was the first time the public really paid much attention to the process of vetting potential Supreme Court justices. It really became an issue however when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. Republicans in control of Congress refused to hold nomination hearings, saying that would better be done after the next election. Because of that political power play, Garland never got a nomination hearing. Now with Kavanaugh's nomination, some democrats are suggesting that they should work to prevent Kavanaugh from getting his nomination hearing. But that is not the way this process should work. It wasn't right to block Garland's hearing, and it wouldn't be right to block Kavanaugh's hearing. The Constitution outlines that the President nominates Supreme Court justices, and the Senate then holds hearings and a vote. That should happen in this case, even though some see blocking the hearings as the only way to keep President Trump's appointment from being confirmed. It wasn't right when republicans turned the process into political gamesmanship, and it wouldn't be right for democrats to do it now.

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Wednesday - July 11, 2018 5:58 am

More choices needed in road referendum

Should marijuana be legalized? And should our potholes be filled? Those two questions could appear before La Crosse County voters on the November ballot. The County Board of Supervisors is being asked to approve specific language for those questions in an advisory referendum. The results won't lead to any specific change, but could send a message to state lawmakers about our feelings on legalizing pot, and give county board members an inkling of how people feel about road funding. Under the current proposed language, the road referendum would present three options for raising an estimated $5 million in new revenue to fund needed road work throughout the county. But none of those options suggest the county do nothing, and let the state figure out how best to fund our road repairs. The options which could be presented to voters include pursuing a new premier rest area tax, an additional half cent sales tax on a number of “tourist related” goods and services. The second option would be to adopt a wheel tax, which could be more than $50 per car registered in the county. And the final option would be to hike the property tax levy by 15%. But if the option of do nothing isn't offered, some may skip the question, skewing the results. The board should include the do nothing option, so board members have a clearer view of how we really feel about fixing our roads.

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Wisconsin is spending millions of dollars to try to lure people to move to Wisconsin and get a job. The ad campaign is largely targeting Illinois, telling would-be Wisconsinites how great a place this is to live and work. Perhaps the ads could even offer specific jobs, in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. The Corrections department has been dealing with staff shortages for several years. And that shortage has gotten so bad, that some prison employees are breaking the bank by racking up overtime. Correction worker Bradley Thiede worked an average of 95 hours per week in the year before he retired. He made a salary of $175,000, much of it in overtime. That salary was more than the warden at the prison where he worked, even more than the Secretary of the Department of Corrections, and more than the Governor. He volunteered to work all those hours, because in addition to boosting his salary, it also boosted his pension for which he will receive for the rest of his life. But is it a good idea for someone to work that much? Particularly while working in a prison, where fatigue could make safety an issue. The Corrections department spent a record $42 million on overtime just last year because of all the vacancies. Wisconsin should work to fill those vacancies, to save taxpayers overtime costs, and to ensure our prisons aren't being staffed by sleepy guards.

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Candidates for Governor in Wisconsin are campaigning on many issues. Health care, the economy and social issues. But one issue that not one of the nearly one dozen candidates have even brought up is the notion of legalizing sports betting in Wisconsin. The United States Supreme Court has opened the doors for states to begin offering legalized sports betting. Some states are getting an early start. New Jersey and Delaware have passed laws to legalize betting on sporting events. There has been no movement on legalizing such betting in the Badger state, and there are a number of hurdles to doing so. Foremost, the state’s constitution would have to be changed. Currently the constitution prevents any legal games of chance other than bingo and the lottery. Compacts with the state’s native American tribes allow them to operate casinos. Changing the constitution would not be easy, or quick. But it is possible. Yet not one candidate for Governor is making legalizing sports betting a campaign issue. Despite the fact that if sports betting was legalized in Wisconsin, it could bring in billions of dollars in new revenue. People like to gamble. Just look at all the office pools during March madness, or all the people throwing a few bucks on the final score of the Super Bowl. If just one candidate got behind the idea, the notion of legalized sports betting would begin to get some traction, and at least begin the discussion. Which would be at least farther along than we are now.

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Often times, when government gets its hands on a pile of money, it can't wait to spend it. Such is not the case with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. The state legislature gave the Corrections department more than a half million dollars in the most recent budget to help improve prison safety. The money, $591,000, was to be spent on body cameras for correctional officers who work in solitary confinement at each of the state's six maximum security prisons. The hope is those cameras will reduce assaults on both inmates and prison staff. Such assaults are on the rise. There were more than 400 documented assaults on Wisconsin prison staff in the past year, a record high. The legislature set a July first deadline for reporting to the state the impact of the new camera policy. Turns out, not only are the cameras not operational, the Corrections Department doesn't even have them yet. Corrections Secretary Cathy Jess told legislative leaders this week she couldn't provide an update on the body camera's success because they haven't even received the cameras yet. She claims there is plenty of blame to go around. That it took time to figure out which cameras they wanted, that they had to find the vendor they want to work with, and that there were delays in fulfilling the order. She now hopes to have some of the cameras operational by the end of this year, while others won't be in place until next year. It seems that if the Corrections Secretary really thought prison assaults were a problem, they would have moved much more quickly to get these cameras installed.

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Wisconsin's schools are getting safer. The state set aside $100 million in grants awarded to schools across the state in the wake of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida. A majority of the state's 147 school districts have applied for and received the money to improve safety with more door locks, more secure entrances and video cameras. The La Crosse district received more than a quarter million dollars from the state to improve security in its schools. But there are still millions in grants available, and Attorney General Brad Schimel is considering how to distribute the remaining money. It is good that the physical security of our schools is improving, but Schimel would be wise to use the remaining funds to fund mental health treatment in our schools. So far not one dollar of that $100 million has been allocated to address mental health issues among students. That is despite the fact that a majority of those who have committed school shootings have had a long history of mental health issues. The money is there to fund this treatment. Before we buy any more door locks, we should at least try to help those who may be battling issues before they resort to violence.

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Increasingly, Wisconsin's Attorney General is becoming an island unto himself. As a number of states filing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the nation's opioid epidemic, Attorney General Brad Schimel is declining to join them. The lawsuits seek to hold big pharma accountable for their role in creating the epidemic. The lawsuits seek settlements for the public health costs of prescription painkillers. Schimel is not filing a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Wisconsin, even though 71 of the state's 72 counties, including La Crosse, have passed resolutions calling for the state to sue. Schimel says he thinks a settlement is still possible with the drug manufacturers. But that certainly doesn't mean he can't sue. Lots of lawsuits are settled out of court, before they go to trial. Schimel's critics are quick to tie his lack of support for a legal remedy to his connections to the pharmaceutical companies. Schimel will benefit in his upcoming campaign for re-election from donations from the Republican Attorneys General Association, which accepted more than a half million dollars from Purdue Pharma, one of the drug manufacturers that the lawsuit targets. Schimel may be correct that seeking a settlement is better than filing a lawsuit, but as long as he is lining his pockets with special interest cash, the appearance of impropriety will be enough to cast doubt on his real motivation.

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Monday - July 2, 2018 5:57 am

Shopping local is often best

It is more clear than ever that the retail landscape is changing. More and more people are choosing to buy the things they need or want not by walking the aisles of the store down the street, but by sitting in front of a computer. We are seeing the evidence of that with the announcement that longtime downtown La Crosse retailer Wettstein’s will be closing its doors after 67 years in business. The appliance and electronics retailer has been a fixture in the downtown, and a vocal proponent of shopping local. But with the advent of online shopping, it became too difficult for Wettstein’s to continue to compete. It is understandable that people are doing more and more shopping online. After all, it is very easy to shop from home and have it delivered to your front door. But there is a price to our changing buying habits. We are seeing more and more longtime successful businesses shutter their doors. The mall is missing two anchor stores, while another clings to life. The trend is seemingly likely to continue, but shoppers can help reverse the trend by buying local. La Crosse has many unique stores providing quality products at affordable prices while offering wonderful customer service. If those stores are going to remain viable, shoppers need to patronize those businesses, many staffed by their friends and neighbors. We are saddened that a well-run store like Wettstein’s is being forced to call it quits, but perhaps it can be a reminder that shopping local is often the best way to shop.

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Friday - June 29, 2018 8:30 am

Costs up, plans shrink for Foxconn plant

And so it begins. With a ceremonial gold shovel dug into the ground, the construction of what could be Wisconsin's largest private sector employer is officially underway. President Trump, Governor Walker, House Speaker Paul Ryan and others helped commemmorate the groundbreaking for the Foxconn Technology plant in southeastern Wisconsin. We certainly hope the project pays off. After all, there is much on the line. Taxpayers are already on the hook for over $4 billion of the investment into what is scheduled to be a $10 billion facility that could employ 13,000 people. It is the largest subsidy by any state to a private employer ever in the U.S. Since the deal was made, costs have risen, environmental regulations have been waived, and now comes word that th eplans are significantly different from the initial agreement. Rather than building a plant to make giant flat screen LED panels, the company now confirms Foxconn will instead build a smaller plant that makes significantly smaller display panels. Foxconn had denied reports just two weeks ago its Wisconsin footprint would be shrinking. That is hardly encouraging. If these promises pan out, Wisconsin could have much to gain. But if they don't, Wisconsin taxpayers could be losers like never before.

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