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CIVIL DISCOURSE - An Occasional Attempt To Restore Civility To Civic Discourse

Former Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus famously said the role of government should be limited to delivering the mail, defending our shores and staying the heck out of our lives. Today Lee Dreyfus would add patching our potholes and regulating water levels on the Great Lakes to that list.

Wisconsin’s gas tax, indexed to inflation from 1985 to 2005, has not been raised since 2006. Today we face a $2 billion transportation funding gap. City streets, town roads and county and state highways are deteriorating because there is not sufficient funding for maintenance.

An agricultural and tourism economy depends on safe, well-maintained highways. You may not agree that returning to an inflation-indexed gas tax is a good idea. Yet, our economy depends on transportation. We need to do something to protect the investment in infrastructure. I’m for an annual increase in the gas tax indexed to the consumer price index rather than an increase in vehicle registration fees. The gas tax is based on use and captures non-resident revenue a registration fee increase would not. What say you?


Lee Dreyus would also be advocating for a government role today in regulating water levels on the Great Lakes. Dreyfus often talked about water as one of Wisconsin’s most valuable resources. Property values and the tourism economy are threatened by Army Corp of Engineers decisions made years ago that need corrective action today. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Eagan has written an excellent series of reports on water levels. After reading Eagan’s series, it’s apparent that evaporation alone is not the cause of lower than normal water levels. As for me, I believe the Army Corp of Engineers has a responsibility to undo the damage done by dredging the St. Clair River.


Announcers on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee last week talked about human libraries. What a valuable and fascinating concept.

Check out an interesting person for a few hours of conversation. Think of what students could learn about World War II by spending an hour listening to stories told by a veteran. Hearing Ellsworth Peterson talk about shipbuilding would be worth the library card. Consider what could be learned from people like Shirley Senaraghi, Dick Purinton, George Husby and Cindi Stiehl at a human library. The rich local broadcast history of our down-the-dial friends at WDOR would make Eddy Allen worth checking out. Human libraries…a great idea worth pursuing in Door and Kewaunee Counties.


Words of appreciation are too often unexpressed. After seeing small-town American at its best this summer I thank the volunteers behind so many successful events. From Belgian Days and Shanty Days to the Washington Island kayak races and Jacksonport Cherry Fest, each community festival preserves heritage and continues tradition. It’s the volunteer fire departments, Lions Clubs, chamber of commerce and many other volunteers who keep the charm and character in community. Thank you to all.



The missing ingredient in far too much civic discourse today is civility. Let’s exchange ideas, disagree without being disagreeable, find common ground and, together, restore CIVIL DISCOURSE.

That’s my opinion.  I’d like to hear yours.  Email your thoughts to


(Via email:)
Roger, I agree that the decision to delete indexing was a bad idea form the get go. Than the state robbed the transportation fund on top of that to try and balance the budget and now we pay the price.

It will take more than indexing to get back the needed funds since todays cars and trucks are much better on fuel than the same in 2005.

We have to agree that a increase and indexing to keep the fund at a minimum level are the only ways to do this. I hate new taxes just like the next guy, however there are not many ways to get the current situation undone and I look forward to someone in the legislature taking that first step as unpopular as it may be.

John Mastalir


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