Policy Topics for the Fall

I last wrote in February about local policy topics that I thought were interesting. See, Policy Topics for the Spring and before that Four Public Topics for the Fall (2014).

In February, these were my selections:  Whitewater School Budget Cuts, the Whitewater’s School Board Election, the UW-Whitewater’s Budget, UW-Whitewater’s Social Relations, and the City of Whitewater’s Waste Digester Proposal.

Looking out now, toward autumn, I’d keep most of these, adding one other.  Here’s the latest list, in no particular order.

Whitewater School Budget Cuts, School Curriculum.  I’m sure it’s a minority viewpoint, but I think the latest report to our school board on enrollment (from Sarah Kemp of the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) offers a huge opportunity for the district.  

I see that the district would prefer waxing enrollment, and that’s not what these data show.  Still, a clear report like this sets aside a decade of wishful thinking, and in doing so allows this district to make a break with the past, and with junk public-relations schemes.

I’ll outline what can be done, usefully, in conditions like our district’s, if only this will prove to be a shrewd district administration.  

UW-Whitewater’s Social Relations.  The safety of students on campus, and in this city, will always be incomparably more important than administrators’ concerns about institutional and official reputations.  The descent of selfish officials into ; act utilitarianism is risible, but it’s also far worse than that: individual are mistreated so that organizational misconduct may be concealed. 

Sadly, this topic lingers: there’s likely more disturbing news yet ahead. 

Economy, Population.  I took merely a first stab during a recent When Green in Brown post at a few population issues, and later with a post on the town’s student and non-student populations.  There’s far, far more to work out here (including, as one quickly sees, how some data are more robust than others, county-by-county.)  This leaves comparisons, location by location, sometimes ill-fitting. 

One would like – and should have – good and similar local information for each area county and community, but not every report has the same quality of information, leaving one to rely more on some measurements over others.  Solid data would be useful for many topics.  It’s worth spending the time to find good and similar estimates like that for all the area.

Along the way, it’s worth describing why some methods and measurements fall short, and how others can be improved. 

Much to do here.

When Green Turns Brown.  This is an ongoing series here at FREE WHITEWATER, and in time it will move to its own website, and will lead to a book and a video documentary about this digester-energy project.  I’ve good help and guidance for the undertaking.  (Even then, WGBT will continue to be featured at FREE WHITEWATER.)

I did not choose the project; I chose to write about what others have proposed and will build.  A commenter wrote here that this is a topic of interest in many places – it most certainly is. 

This topic didn’t begin in Whitewater, it’s not confined to Whitewater, and a discussion of it is part of a state and national discussion. 

Whitewater is a small and beautiful town, but she’s not separate from our vast and beautiful continental republic.  On the contrary, it’s American rights and American standards that uplift Whitewater

But this is a long project, with two-dozen posts so far being mere notes along a journey. 

These few, broad topics lie ahead, with other, unexpected topics possible, too.