Letters to the Editor 02-27-13

To the Citizens of Lincoln County:
I am writing to ask you to vote for Robert Russell for Circuit Court Judge on April 2. Rob is a young man that I met in 1976 as a thirteen year old young man when my wife and I moved into his parent’s neighborhood. Rob grew up and followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a lawyer. He moved back to Merrill joining his father in the Russell Law firm.
He is a dedicated family man, raising his children on his own after losing his wife. Rob has a long and proven history of serving his community. Take the time to check his credentials. His desire to serve Lincoln County is demonstrated by the many organizations that he is or has been associated with.
Rob has no intention of leaving the community that he grew up in. As Circuit Court Judge, Rob Russell would continue to serve the people of Lincoln County as he has for the past twenty years. His future is bright, and with your help he will continue to foster his giving and caring personality.
I encourage you to vote ROBERT RUSSELL FOR CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE on April 2.
Charles R. Phelps,
Lifelong resident of Lincoln County

Bobcat Tags Need Change
There is a very high population of bobcats on private land. Where there were few or no bobcats 15 to 50 yrs. ago there are lots of bobcats and quite a few BIG bobcats.
Public land has a stable population of bobcats but has a lot of smaller bobcats as bigger cats are being harvested fairly heavy.
I know a lot of coyote hunters south of Hwy. 64 who see 5 to 10 bobcat tracks a day. Deer hunters who have a lot of bobcats and big ones all the way to Madison; the entire state should be open to bobcat hunting.
There could be 100 bobcats (amount allotted for the whole state) harvested in Lincoln County and not deplete the population entirely. 100 tags for the northern half of Wis. is absolutely ridiculous!!!
Snowshoe rabbits, one of the main food sources for bobcats can not sustain a good population. Mainly because of our owls and hawks and migration of snow owls from Canada when the rabbit population is low in Canada. Fishers also are a HUGE influence on rabbit populations.
The D.N.R should confer with hunters, we could give you a wealth of info on these critters. Also bear, lynx and cougars!!!
Your bobcat survey is good, but you have to reach more hunters than just the few 100 who received a harvest permit.
There is an over population of bear on private land and, again like bobcat, a stable population on public land but a lot of smaller bear as larger ones are harvested heavily.
Write to this address and inform them we need more bobcat harvest permits: Dept. of Natural Resources, Bobcat, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI. 53791-9051.
Chipper Mosser

There is a way in which the current trench warfare over the issue of gun violence in America is (or at least contains) a weird kind of gallows humor. “Conservatives” argue on behalf of the Second Amendment as if it were the Holy Writ or a divine relic, while “liberals” seem to believe it’s all about gun design and clip capacity.
What I find perversely funny – all trees, you know, no forest – is that we live in a country founded in violence, enlarged to its present continental size by violence, and kept in place as the number one SuperPower in the world because it has the biggest, best, most deadly and most expensive assemblage of violence the wold has ever known. We have, all in all, more violence packed per capita into the American citizenry than any people ever or anywhere.
Violence oozes out of our entertainment. Violence excites and amuses us. We celebrate violence as our protective savior. It supposedly keeps us “safe.”
In fact, I would say we hover – sometimes on one side of the murky line of consciousness, sometimes on the other – right on the boundary of the worship of violence. If God, as Luther said, is what we fear, love, and trust, then violence is our God.
If we called, for instance, the Department of Defense (DOD) by its real name–Department of Violence (whose acronym, oddly enough, would be DOV, we would catch a whiff of hysterical violence worship: a Trinity dressed in Red, White, and Blue, all three Persons–Army, Air Force, and Navy–ready and even eager to kick down doors for American Empire.
If the other guy’s violence is always nasty and evil, our violence is always righteous and good.
Why don’t we have the moral courage to just say violence is our God, quit this wussy Prince of Peace stuff with all its pansy servant hood and stewardship crap, unleash the thermonuclear arsenal, and get it over with?
No joke. There are enough nuclear weapons to do us all in. Isn’t it time to consider that packing greater and greater magnitudes of heat can only result, finally, in spontaneous combustion and meltdown? Or is all this homicidal fantasy just a mask for a suicidal deathwish lurking just below the surface?
We call ourselves “Christian.” That my be the biggest joke of all.
Paul Gilk

Dear Editor,
In less than two months, Lincoln County will decide whether to retain Judge John Yackel. Since last October, Judge Yackel has proven himself to be an efficient and capable Judge. He has proven he can make the right decisions based upon the law and not based on emotion or outside influences. In his court, decisions are made based upon the facts and not last names or family history.
Judge Yackel has also gained the respect of Law Enforcement and those of us concerned about the safety of our community. Lincoln County is slowly but surely becoming a County where criminals are thinking twice about committing crimes here. The revolving door of criminals and drug dealers being released to the streets on signature bonds is ending. Honest citizens and Law Enforcement have a friend in the courthouse who is working hard to help keep our streets and business’ safe.
I support Judge John Yackel because of his proven record. I ask the citizens of Lincoln County to support him as well by voting on April 2, 2013.
God Bless,
Karen Cournaya

To the Voters of the MAPS District:
Thank you very much if you cast one of your votes for me, Lin Kautza, in the School Board Election last week. I was excited to have come in where I did in the race.
I am optimistic about the MAPS School District, my Alma Mater, MHS, and my Hometown, Merrill.
With Gratitude,
LIN Kautza

I would like to take this opportunity to urge the voters of Lincoln County to cast their vote for Rob Russell as Lincoln County Judge.
I have known Mr. Russell for over 30 years, both personally and professionally. He has the characteristics we need in our County Judge. His honesty and integrity are above question and his role as a fair impartial judge would be an asset to our legal system.
He has demonstrated over the years, his commitment to the welfare of our community through his involvement and leadership in many of our local organizations. He not only has demonstrated his legal expertise, but he is also the type of citizen that is truly representative of the Lincoln County community.
As a final point, I think we should elect our officials in our county. We should not be electing officials that have received their political appointments from someone in Madison.
I hope you will lend your support to Rob Russell in the coming election.
Richard J. Schmidt

Fellow Merrill Area Residents:
My name is John Shull and I am a candidate for MAPS Board of Education. I first want to thank you for your support during the February 19 primary. I again ask you to cast a ballot for John Shull on April 2.
My FotoNews letter of 2/13/2013, in relevant part, stated: “Our school district must live within its means and do more to trim its budget without going to taxpayers for additional revenue. At this point, I do not favor a tax increase for our district. We must first be sure that our district has exercised every reasonable option to trim its budget.”
Despite my statement against a tax increase, Mr. Ralph Carlson of Harrison Hills recently wrote “I know as a taxpayer if I elect John Shull, Jeffrey Verdoorn and/or Lin Kautza I will see another big tax increase . . .” I attempted to contact Mr. Carlson to learn why he wrote a letter which distorts my position on the tax issue, but could not reach him. I am not aware of Jeff Verdoorn or Lin Kautza’s positions on taxes. The bottom line is John Shull does not favor a tax increase for our district without first exhausting all reasonable options to trim the budget. Again, I do not support a tax increase.
In his letter, Mr. Carlson also referenced the alleged exorbitant salaries and benefits earned by our teachers and staff. A new teacher in our district earns approximately $34,600 plus benefits. Teachers have at least a 4-year college education. Classrooms have anywhere from 15 to 30 students. As the parent of a first and second grader, I can imagine how difficult and stressful it must be to teach 15, 20, or even 25 kids in one classroom. A highly qualified teacher earning $35,000, $45,000 or even $50,000 per year is NOT overpaid. Excellent and experienced teachers provide a higher quality education for our kids. The bottom line is our district’s scale for compensating teachers and staff must remain competitive with other local districts or those other districts will steal our best teachers.
In his letter, Mr. Carlson stated he would “vote for the new people to hopefully get new ideas and parents that care about kids and budgets.” John Shull meets all of Mr. Carlson’s requirements for a board member. I am “new” in that I am not a politician and have never held political office. I care about the kids in our district because I am a parent whose kids currently attend Merrill schools. Finally, I am a taxpayer who demands that we get 100% value for every tax dollar spent in the school district.
Like everyone, I am tired of the petty politics. Partisan politics does not belong on the school board. Unlike Mr. Carlson, I hope you will research the positions of each candidate before sending in a letter with incorrect information. I will talk with anyone who wants to discuss the issues facing our school district. Feel free to contact me at (715) 536-5848 or by email at [email protected].
Thank you again for your support. Please vote for John Shull on April 2.
John Shull
Pine River
Candidate for MAPS Board of Education

Dear Editor,
How soon people forget!!! I’m very disappointed that Jeff Verdoorn appears to be on his way back to the Merrill school board. You might recall that Verdoorn was ousted from the board by the voters mostly for making misleading statements about the urgent need for a huge spending referendum. He wrote impassioned letters to local papers and even threatened that many school programs would have to be eliminated. One might think he took his marching orders directly from former superintendent Sally Sarnstrom, who has since pulled the ripcord on her golden parachute retirement.
Fortunately, Merrill district taxpayers decisively voted down two such referendums. It was later discovered that the district was NOT in the absolute dire straits that Mr. Verdoorn had indicated. In fact the district was able to meet their budget without a referendum. The only thing actually cut was a sizeable staff pay/benefit increase that Sarnstrom and her minions were hoping to secretly foist upon the unsuspecting taxpayers. Sarnstrom quickly exited into retirement and Verdoorn was voted off the board in the next election. SERIOUSLY, MERRILL…do we REALLY want that kind of “leadership” again? Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them! Think about that when you vote on April 2.
Thank You!
Jeff Krall

Dear Editor,
A thank you to Wayne Russ and Ralph Carlson for expressing so well what so many of us are feeling.
I was reminded this week by a friend of an axiom that is too pertinent to the ongoing campaign for three seats on our Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Board of Education (BOE). It is that BOE are elected by the employees of the school district.
BOE elections are low-interest, low-turnout events. They usually: Take place in the spring, have no earth shaking issues, do not directly impact the roughly two-thirds of eligible voters without children in the district schools, are not concurrent with more high profile elections, and offer the voters candidates about whom they know virtually nothing. This breeds disinterest and opens the door for special interests who are well organized and unobserved by the taxpaying public to gain disproportionate power.
The special interest in a BOE election is obviously the district employee base. And why not? It is the most directly affected by BOE activitiers and actions. Were I a MAPS employee I would do what I had to do to insure the strongest representation of my interest on the BOE.
This is not healthy. It insures a very small minority – in MAPS what, roughly three percent? – of the eligible voters base has its vested interest in the sympathetic hands of if not the entire BOE, the overwhelming majority of its members. This leaves the taxpayer; that is, the employer of the district employees, virtually unrepresented. This will never change until MAPS taxpayers start taking these elections seriously.
It is unfortunate that the question of election ethics violations came to light at the time it has. Or maybe not. Pretty solid evidence is out there now that MAPS is not immune from you scratch my back I’ll scratch your politics.
We taxpayers must be involved in the affairs of our school district. We must stop ignoring these “minor” elections. We must support candidates who don’t care if their backs get scratched, for they will best represent our interests at the table.
In the interest of vetting each remaining BOE candidate as thoroughly as possible, I challenge any area community organization to sponsor a candidate forum, open to the public and to public questions, to allow we MAPS taxpayers to educate ourselves so we can make the best decisions come election day.
Bill Fehrmann

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