Friday, May 06, 2005

Mike Moore: Golden spotlight shifts to readers - THE RACINE JOURNAL TIMES

y Mike Moore

In the name of Christian values, my alma mater passed on the option of returning to the nickname Warriors. (Sigh).

A Warrior revival would've brought a huge cash flow from disgruntled Marquette University alumni. That's not a valid reason to change, but you'll see why I brought it up in a second.

Instead, the trustees chose to go with a nebulous new name: Gold.

So what if it's universally laughed at? As Homer Simpson would say, maybe they're "stupid like a fox." An image of gold bricks on each contribution card and, subliminally, they've got us.

Hey, where's my checkbook?

Enough about me and my fellow Golds. Goldies? Goldians? This is about you. It's the "monthly" mailbag column, your golden opportunity to fill in the gaps in what I've written about: Feral cats Charlotte Baumeister of the Town of Burlington saw my column on Bling Bling, the gold-colored cat apparently wounded by gunshot, and my take on the feral cat issue, which is this: Don't legalize shooting them. It isn't like other hunting, since nobody can tell a feral cat from a barn cat.

"Please tell the other side of the stray cats story," Baumeister wrote in a letter to me. "A year ago when I looked over the farm fields, I saw two stray cats, very starved. One was pregnant. The pregnant one was an expensive Grecian Blue variety, probably a former house cat.

I told a friend about it. It was decided if I could catch it, she would take it as her house cat. I borrowed a cat carrier (not a trap). ... I put food into the carrier and both cats went into it. When I went to shut the door, the Grecian Blue jumped backwards, biting my left hand five times.

I immediately washed my hands, put antibiotic salve on the left hand and bandaged it."

Baumeister went on to write that a couple of days later, despite wet compresses and a shot from her doctor, her condition got worse. Her husband took her to the emergency room, where she got five rabies shots.

"I stayed in the hospital five days with antibiotic IVs running constantly. Cost of $15,000.00."

Luckily the cat was caught, she wrote, and didn't have rabies.

"I'd vote `yes' for killing stray cats. Yes, I've had the Humane Society catch some but still have four stray cats permanently around here."

The good news? Since she wrote, the strays have left the area.

Tasers and pigs Right about the time Tasers were introduced to Racine's police force, UW-Madison announced a researcher was going to study the zap guns on pigs. I wrote about both.

Erik Guenther, who was president of the Young Professionals of Racine while he lived here, offered his two pennies. On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, he's volunteered to monitor Taser policies in Wisconsin.

Guenther, who works for a Madison law firm, helped convince the department there to change its policy so Tasers are at a higher level of force, something like firing a beanbag round.

The ACLU, he said, doesn't want Tasers off the streets, or even to have them equated to real guns. Its stance is that, until more studies are done to be sure they're safe, officers should use them sparingly. Not studies on police officers who know the charge is coming, but to find out how the Tasers affect people with heart conditions, those using drugs, et cetera.

If a few pigs have to be sacrificed to get there, I'm fine with that. In fact, I'm golden.

"At some point, it may be appropriate for the Taser to be placed on the same level as pepper spray," Guenther said.

That's where it is now under Racine's policy.

And one quick update: Taking back government Last weekend, a whopping one person from Racine County attended the regional meeting of the People's Legislature. It's a new organization directed toward the "politically homeless."

As one of those, I attended the virgin event in January.

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filled me in on what happened at Saturday's Milwaukee meeting. A group called the Raging Grannies came armed with specific issues, but the majority of the 203 in attendance focused on the campaign reform plans started at the state event.

Seven or eight volunteered to be on an organizing committee to figure out the next step, McCabe said.

"I haven't seen this kind of spontaneous activism," he said. "A lot of people are just reaching the breaking point. That's what the People's Legislature has tapped into."

They were sitting on a gold mine.

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