How police saw it
Regarding Bonne Loughran's letter ("Why?" 09/07/07): On July 15, Madison police officers responded to a report of a man wielding a gun. Officers arrived on the scene moments later to find a man holding what appeared to be a gun by all those who saw it (officers and witnesses alike).
Despite repeated commands to drop the gun, the man pointed the "gun" in the direction of an officer. Considering these facts, the answer to Loughran's question of "What was the hurry?" is painfully obvious.
Officers had split seconds to react to what any reasonable person would have perceived as life-threatening circumstances. They did not have the luxury of information that could only be confirmed well after the incident occurred. This concept of confirmation is pivotal.
Two minutes may seem like a long time to communicate information received through dispatch, but contacting the officers on the scene is only one part of the equation. Officers still need to confirm whether or not the information is valid, and in this situation there was just not enough time to do so even if the information had been communicated immediately.
Imagine looking down the barrel of a gun pointed in your direction and trusting that someone in a room on the phone miles away providing information that the gun is not real actually has accurate information. Who among us would take that kind of risk?
Loughran was right about one thing: This was a tragedy. It was a tragedy that Ronald Brandon called 911 not to ask for help, as Loughran asserted, but to orchestrate a suicide that he could not carry out himself. It was a tragedy that his actions placed officers in the position of having to use deadly force to protect themselves from what they legitimately and reasonably believed was a life-and-death situation.
Loughran's argument that Ronald Brandon was "an innocent man" is premised on the notion that those who suffer from mental health issues are somehow absolved of personal responsibility for their actions. Such an argument is akin to excusing the alcoholic who gets behind the wheel and kills someone.
The real tragedy is not that Ronald Brandon was depressed but that his depression led him to set in motion a series of events that ended in the very way that he intended them to.
Lieutenant of Police,
Madison Police Department
Egregious and deplorable
While it is disturbing that the Landmark Legal Foundation, a national attack dog for right-wing union busting and anti-public school reform, is apparently focusing its microscope on our state university's School for Workers, it is not the most disturbing aspect of Bill Lueders' recent column item (Watchdog, 8/17/07).
The actions of our own state representatives are far more egregious and deplorable. The legislators have criticized the School for Workers for doing public outreach on worker-related issues.
This seems to imply a fundamental lack of understanding about the university as a whole and the UW Extension in particular, where the School for Workers is housed.
It is the extension's mission to do public outreach, and it is also an important part of the university's mission since it is a Land Grant institution.
In terms of the UW budget, while the School for Workers' portion of the budget is small potatoes, its public service is significant. The school has worked tirelessly with both employees and employers to create equitable win-win situations across the state.
But while businesses have myriad resources available throughout various university colleges, the School for Workers is unique in the services it provides to workers.
Were these legislators looking across the board at university expenditures (or external alliances), perhaps a case could be made for the "attack the mosquito with a sledgehammer" approach.
But the way they wield their financial swords of blatant partisanship makes clear their extreme cronyism, revealing that this is merely an attack on a disliked group (as is the Law School, apparently), and that they truly care little, if at all, about the majority of Wisconsinites who work hard daily for a modest living.
A toast for Maggie
I want to thank Robin Shepard for including the Grumpy Troll in his survey of local breweries ("Beer Here!" 8/10/07), but I would like to make a correction.
While "Captain Fred" is a great beer and a good seller, our signature beer is "Maggie." "Maggie" is an Imperial Pale Ale weighing in at 100 IBUs with a fantastic full-bodied taste, and is an award winner at the 2007 International Tasting Institute.
Master brewer Mark Duchow captured five awards from the institute. I am extremely happy to have Mark brewing beer for us. I would also like to mention that one of the biggest beer festivals in the area is right here in Mount Horeb on Sept. 22. The Thirsty Troll Brewfest features 35 brewers, live music by the Kissers and more than 1,000 beer-loving fans.
owner, The Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery
Hmmm. "Pedestrians do not have the right of way, says Arthur Ross." So starts David Medaris' You Are Here column ("Mean Streets," 8/24/07). Ross is Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator, and this is his weasel take on the issue? I guess those of us getting around town without cars are on our own.
Quoting state statutes, Ross says, "[T]he operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian." Not "may" - "shall," which in legalese means it's required.
Then Ross, or Medaris, concludes: "The right of way shall be granted by drivers to pedestrians entering crosswalks. Nobody possesses it outright." I ask, if nobody possesses the right-of-way, how would drivers be empowered to "grant" it to pedestrians?
Further quotations from the statutes make it abundantly clear that pedestrians actually do possess the right of way; apparently that's the very purpose of the language, in fact.
Of course, people walking shouldn't step in front of cars. But to resist the recognition that pedestrians have the right-of-way boils down the encounter to the underlying power equation: The person wielding a ton and a half of steel and glass at 30 miles an hour is the one who can get away with atrocious manners.
Lose the wrapper
Thank you for your story about the city's new "wrapped" buses ("Drinking and Riding," 8/10/07). Maybe now the city will pay attention. When I commented to a driver how difficult it was to see out the windows, he told me at night he couldn't see out of;them at all. Chilling. Car drivers can't have anything on their windows that obstructs the view; why is it allowed;on public buses?;
And a final, personal reason for my dislike of;these buses: My service dog doesn't recognize;them as buses,;and won't willingly let me on. Makes travel for me more difficult. Maybe she objects to the corporate advertising, too!