Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bottoms Up

Is it just me or are more of those people we elect to office making the news for drunken or drugged behavior? Wisconsin Assemblyman Jeff Wood was recently arrested for his 4th OWI. State troopers pulled him over in the Town of Rib Mountain. This time prescription and non-prescription drugs led to his erratic driving. Two of his arrests have occurred within the last year. Earlier this year I asked a fellow Assemblyman about Wood and all that lawmaker could say is, “That young man needs our prayers.”

Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan on the other hand didn’t break any laws when he was caught on video making sexual remarks about his sister-in-law. It became a YouTube sensation. He was definitely drunk in the barroom exchange with drinking buddies.

One law enforcement officer I spoke with says he feels sorry for Ryan because he was obviously filmed in the tavern on someone’s cell phone with no clue what was going on. That officer said while Ryan may have crossed the line with his remarks, he said them in what he thought was a private conversation. Ryan is also under fire for allegedly firing a human resources director who claims she was let go for refusing his sexual advances.

It’s not making national news, but an incident in the Upper Peninsula definitely caught headlines in my hometown of Manistique. An Alger and Schoolcraft County Probate Judge was arrested for drunken driving in July. Manistique is the County seat for Schoolcraft County. Judge Charles Nebel was over the limit and tried to get away from state troopers at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. He apologized later saying he used bad judgment. Ironic isn’t it.

Recently Nebel was sentenced to a year’s probation, weekend “impact programs” and had to pay over $1,200 in fines and court costs. He could also face judicial review. He was appointed to the bench this past February. If he runs for re-election it will be in November of 2010. It will be interesting to see what punishment awaits Wisconsin Assemblyman Jeff Wood. He gets an oral ruling on his 3rd OWI in Columbia County Court in December.

Recently a story was shared with me about a longtime Wisconsin lawmaker who took credit for another colleague’s work on a bill by reintroducing it with a few minor changes as his own. He was to have his moment in the spotlight, but instead another lawmaker called him on it asking him why he was taking credit for something they’d already seen before. It wasn’t an effort to show him up, just to get his goat. Several of his colleagues knew he got hammered the night before and wanted to see him suffer through his hangover.

Keep in mind Wisconsin legislators are working on a package to stiffen penalties for drunken driving. Maybe we should take the car keys away from them.

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