State parties loaning staff to Oshkosh Assembly candidates
By Bethany K. Warner of The Northwestern
All politics is local, the saying goes.
But that notion gets called into question, campaign watchdog groups say, when legislative staffers from Madison are loaned to local candidates.
The two candidates running for the 54th Assembly District seat – Republican Julie Pung Leschke and Democrat Gordon Hintz – both have campaign staff members currently on leave from their legislative staff positions.
Craig Trost a legislative staffer for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, is helping the Hintz campaign. Brian Pleva, a legislative staffer for Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, is helping the Pung Leschke campaign.
The arrival of outside campaign help underscores the importance both parties are placing on the race in the 54th. Some, like Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, argue it also shows the need for further campaign reform.
The whole story: Craig Trost is an Appleton native, UW-Oshkosh graduate who was active in local politics, very involved in the UWO Democrats and even worked for a short time after graduation for the Northwestern. After becoming involved in politics directly, Craig co-ordinated the Fox-Valley (including Oshkosh) area for both Jim Doyle in 2002 and John Kerry/Russ Fringold in 2005.
Craig requested a leave of abscence to come back to his home territory and work on a campaign that he cared about. He was not assigned by shady Democratic Party officials in Madison to excert thier control. He is a proud Fox Valley resident and UWO alumni who is coming back home to be part of the change that we are creating in an area that he deeply cares about.
Group pushes for emergency contraception for rape victims
By Krista B. Ledbetter of The Northwestern
Judie Koeppler is looking for some compassion for rape victims. But a bill that would've offered what she was looking for died at the end of the 2006 state legislative session.
Compassionate Care for Rape Victims, a bill introduced in both the state Assembly and Senate, would have required all Wisconsin hospitals that provide emergency services for rape victims to provide information about emergency contraception and dispense it if requested by the patient. Because it was pending at the end of the legislative session, the bill expired, and will need to be reintroduced in January if it is to be considered again.
Koeppler and Susie Elbing, both members of Concerned Citizens for Women's Health in Winnebago County would've liked to see the bill become law. They said offering information about and providing emergency contraception, or Plan B, directly at the hospital would help the thousands of women per year who get raped prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
"Eighty percent of rape victims are under the age of 16," Elbing said. "It is inexcusable and senseless to not tell this girl there's emergency contraception."
A study conducted by the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Coalition in late 2005 and early 2006 concluded that 33 percent of hospitals in the state dispense Plan B unconditionally. The remaining hospitals either never, or sometimes provide the emergency contraception.
"This is all about preventing abortion," Koeppler said. "Emergency contraception is not going to cause an abortion, it's going to prevent a pregnancy that could likely end in abortion."
Opponents of CCRV said recent legislation to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter renders the bill needless.
Sen. Carol Roessler, R-Oshkosh, said the bill's flaw was that it mandated that faith-based hospitals would have to provide something that went against their moral mission.
"That is where I see the problem," she said.
However, in Oshkosh, both Aurora Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center have procedures in place to offer information about emergency contraception, and provide it if requested, said Koeppler, who sits on Affinity's professional activities committee.
Mercy, a faith-based hospital, follows Directive 36, developed by United States bishops in consultation with the Vatican. It states a rape victim should be allowed to defend herself against possible conception from a sexual assault, and should have access to emergency contraception if she is not pregnant.
The Whole Story: We are in the middle of a very important election season in Oshkosh. If the Northwestern felt it important to get this information out to Oshkosh, why did they not take the time to call the candidates for the 54th and report their views on this? They will most likely have to cast a vote on this issue in the next session.
Final Thought: The Northwestern needs to be more responsible and complete in their coverage of the 54th Assembly district.