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The Capital Times, Madison, Aug. 28

DNC bureaucrats really seem to be trying to lose Wisconsin

The Democratic National Committee will never be accused of having its act together, especially when it comes to Wisconsin. The DNC's long history of misreading Wisconsin almost cost Democratic nominees the state's electoral votes in 2000 and 2004, and the bureaucrats in D.C. finally did enough damage in 2016 to tip the state into the GOP column.

So it should probably come as no surprise that the party is bumbling arrangements for the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Yet it is somehow shocking to see the Democratic insiders blow the simplest of tasks: hotel arrangements.

The party made the right decision when it chose to hold the convention in Milwaukee, a great American city that is ready to be mobilized to end Donald Trump's presidency. But now, the party bureaucrats have decided that thousands of delegates and alternates and convention guests will be spend much of the convention week in Illinois.

The DNC has determined that while 31 delegations will be housed in Milwaukee area hotels, 26 delegations will be staying in northern Illinois. In fact, so many large delegations are being sent across that state line that Wisconsin will barely house the majority of delegates. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In all, 2,926 hotel rooms will be used for delegates in Wisconsin while 2,841 hotel rooms will be used in Illinois, according to the list." In reporting the assignments, the Journal Sentinel explained, "It turns out the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee is going to be very good for the Illinois hotel industry."

It will not be so good for the hoteliers of Madison, Racine, Kenosha, Sheboygan and other Wisconsin cities that are as close or closer to Milwaukee than northern Illinois. Make no mistake, all of these cities have excellent hotels that would be outstanding bases for delegations. They are also more affordable than Chicago area hotels, which is no small consideration for a party that is supposed to maintain at least a minimal interest in attracting working-class voters.

We do not deny that there are fine hotels in the Chicago area, and we are aware that the Milwaukee bid for the convention proposed that some delegations would be housed in Illinois. That's cool. What is not cool is that almost half of the delegates will be spending convention nights outside Wisconsin. And what is simply stunning is the decision to prioritize airport hotels in Illinois over outstanding hotels in Wisconsin cities that are more easily reached than the congested O'Hare area.

But this is about more than logistics. This is about something the Democratic National Committee should understand, but apparently does not: politics.

From a political standpoint is difficult to fully describe the scorching stupidity of the DNC's approach. But let's try.

In 2016, Illinois gave 56 percent of its support to Democrat Hillary Clinton and just 38 percent to Republican Donald Trump. In 2020, the state is expected to maintain that pattern.

Illinois is not a battleground state, not by any measure. But Wisconsin is.

In fact, it is a classic battleground. When Wisconsin's electoral votes moved from the Democratic to the Republican column in 2016, along with those of Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Democrats lost the presidency.

Of the last five presidential elections in Wisconsin, three were exceptionally close calls. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won the state by 5,708 votes out of roughly 2.6 million cast. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won by 11,384 votes out of almost 3 million cast. Democrat Barack Obama won the state with ease in 2008 (taking 56 percent) and 2012 (with almost 53 percent), as he did the rest of the country, making him the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to win two consecutive national elections with over 50 percent of the vote.

But in 2016, Trump took Wisconsin by 22,748 votes out of just under 3 million cast. For the first time since 1984, a Republican carried a Wisconsin presidential vote. Fly-by-night pundits imagined that the state had tipped to the GOP. But two years later, Democrats won every statewide race — for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state. Several of those results were exceptionally close, however, confirming what anyone who knows anything about Wisconsin politics knows: This is a closely competitive state. And it is likely to be that in 2020.

So how will the race be decided? By generating lots of excitement in Democratic bases such as Milwaukee County and Dane County and by capturing counties that Democrats have won in the past but where they ran poorly in 2016. Such as: Racine County and Kenosha County to the south of Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan shore, and Sheboygan County to the north. Obama carried Racine and Kenosha counties in 2008 and fell just 400 votes short in Sheboygan County; in 2012, the Democrat again took Kenosha and Racine counties and was at a competitive 45 percent in Sheboygan County. In 2016, all three counties backed Trump.

So let's review: To win Wisconsin, Democrats need a huge turnout in Madison and they need to carry or at least remain competitive in the lakeshore counties north and south of Milwaukee. And which communities has the Democratic National Committee decided to give the cold shoulder when making 2020 Democratic National Convention hotel assignments? Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Sheboygan.

The DNC could have created good will and electoral excitement in the places it needs to win the battleground state of Wisconsin in 2020. Instead, it decided to head for Illinois. Good luck with that.

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Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Sept. 1

New MATC campus a grand achievement

Congratulations to Madison Area Technical College for opening a new South Side campus this week, serving 1,600 students with more to come.

This is a big moment for our community — one we should be proud of and strongly support.

Instead of just talking about Madison's long-standing racial and economic disparities, MATC is doing something decisive about it.

The new campus, at the corner of South Park Street and West Badger Road, is strategically and conveniently located where data shows the most need for post-secondary education exists — on and around the South Side and Beltline. That's where an estimated 17,000 adults could benefit from certificate and degree programs, according to MATC research.

The Goodman South campus — named after the late Madison jewelers and philanthropists Irwin and Robert Goodman, whose foundation donated $10 million for the project — is spacious, gleaming and loaded with technology. Other extremely generous donations include $10.2 million from Ascendium, and $1.3 million from the American Family Dreams Foundation. The rest of the roughly $25 million project came from smaller donors and college coffers, not the state.

The campus will cater to Dane County's highest employment needs, including the health care and information technology professions. The 75,000 square-foot facility with two stories, 34 classrooms, a library and cafe will have state-of-the-art labs for nursing, anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology instruction. A simulated hospital environment featuring medical equipment and interactive mannequins are part of the nursing lab. Five classrooms can livestream classes. Students will have access to a legal clinic and community rooms.

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The mostly part-time students who attend MATC, also known as Madison College, will have flexible class times, including nights and weekends, to fit around their work schedules. The site has nearly 250 parking spaces and is across the street from a major bus transfer station.

MATC, under the leadership of Jack Daniels III, did its homework and planned this project well to accelerate promising students toward success. Countless adults will be able to improve their knowledge and skills closer to where they live, moving into better jobs our economy needs to fill. That's why the State Journal editorial board strongly supported this proposal from the beginning.

Prominent critics lamented MATC's decision to close its Downtown center just off the Capitol Square to invest more resources closer to students. We understand the desire to keep Downtown strong and buzzing with activity. MATC began as a vocational school at the Downtown site nearly a century ago. So leaving wasn't an easy decision.

But Downtown is doing well. In fact, the site that MATC is leaving is well on its way to being redeveloped as a hotel with an eight-story expansion.

Many people on Madison's South Side are not doing so well. They need more opportunity to advance. At the same time, Wisconsin needs more well-trained people to fill vital positions in the knowledge-based economy.

MATC's bold expansion on the South Side deserves applause. We wish the Goodman South campus great success in the coming years at improving people's lives and the vitality of our region and state.

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The Journal Times of Racine, Aug. 30

Andrew Luck doesn't owe you anything

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Andrew Luck, for the past seven seasons the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, retired abruptly Saturday night, less than two weeks before the start of the season.

"I'm in pain, I'm still in pain. It's been four years of this pain, rehab cycle," Luck said. "It's a myriad of issues — calf strain, posterior ankle impingement, high ankle sprain.

"I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away."

He played with shoulder pain for most of 2015 and 2016, and his 2015 season ended when he suffered a lacerated kidney, The Associated Press reported. He missed all of 2017 following shoulder surgery and then the happy-go-lucky former Stanford star dealt with more pain and more endless months of rehab.

Remarkably, some Colts fans booed him as he left the field Saturday, after word of his imminent announcement had made its way through the stadium during the Colts' game with the Chicago Bears.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I heard the reaction," Luck said. "Yeah, it hurt. I'll be honest, it hurt."

Those that booed should be ashamed of themselves.

Andrew Luck doesn't owe you anything.

No replay on ESPN, no NFL Films footage, however detailed in picture and sound, can capture how violent it is down on a National Football League field. People watching at field level have a visceral reaction to player collisions; just imagine how it feels to be one of the participants in such a collision.

Now put yourself in the shoes of an NFL quarterback, a man who is repeatedly obligated to stand still before passing the ball, knowing that a man just as large as him, or larger, has gotten a running start at crashing into him.

Luck has decided that he has had enough; that is his choice to make and no one else's. Only he can know how much of a toll the physical pain is taking on him mentally.

Some, however, claimed to know better than Andrew Luck about Andrew Luck.

"Retiring cause rehabbing is 'too hard' is the most millennial thing ever," Doug Gottlieb, a host on the Fox Sports 1 cable network, said Saturday night on Twitter.

Fox Sports commentator Troy Aikman, who retired after 12 years as an NFL quarterback, wasn't having any of that.

"That's total (expletive) Doug," Aikman tweeted in response on Sunday. "What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life? So you're now the authority on what motivates Andrew Luck? And if his decisions don't fit into what you think is best for him then you rip him?"

Aikman hasn't always been Packers fans' favorite TV commentator, but he's absolutely right in his response here.

If you think that Luck should keep playing for the sake of your Colts fandom, or for your fantasy football team because you just "drafted" him, you are no better than the citizens of ancient Rome in the Colosseum, rooting for one gladiator to literally kill another.

NFL players are not your playthings. They're free men who can decide for themselves when to walk away.

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