October 24, 2014

Keeping threat of Ebola in U.S. in perspective

A Madison College professor says media consumers need to keep the threat posed by Ebola in the U.S. in perspective. While it’s important to inform the public, Madison College marketing professor Steve Noll says 24-7 coverage of Ebola has little to do with the extraordinarily small likelihood of individuals in the U.S. actually getting the disease.

“It’s kind of an exotic disease, it’s been heard about for decades but it’s always been very far away. But then when you cross that with the horrific, horror movie type symptoms that the disease gives, I think it’s just a perfect recipe for media sensation and over-hyping of the outbreak,” Noll said.

Noll noted that while Ebola has garnered enormous media attention, preventable public health threats which kill far more people in the U.S. rarely get that level of media coverage. “All these news outlets are competing to get as many viewers involved in their stories on a regular basis, because they know that the higher they can get their ratings, the more money they can generate.”

Brett Hulsey reenters race for Wisconsin governor

Less than two weeks from Election Day, state Representative Brett Hulsey has announced an independent bid for governor. The Madison Democrat, who lost resoundingly to Mary Burke in the August Democratic primary (Hulsey received 51,830 votes to Burke’s 259,921), said at the time that he had no intention of running as an independent and would support Burke.

“I thought I could, but the more the campaign goes on, the more I realized we need real change in Wisconsin, and she’s just more of the same failed policies of Governor Walker and past administrations,” Hulsey said. The Burke campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked about the possibility that his candidacy could peel off enough votes from Burke to hand what appears to be a close race to Republican Governor Scott Walker, Hulsey insisted that’s not his intent. “It’s not my goal,” Hulsey said. “If it looks like at the end that that’s happening, I’ll pull out. I do not want to reelect Scott Walker.”

Hulsey won’t be on the ballot, but has informed the Government Accountability Board that he will run as a write-in candidate, joining three other write in candidates for governor. Election Day is November 4th.

Lawmaker wants audit of Walker’s plane use

A state lawmaker wants an audit of the governor’s use of state planes. Representative Melissa Sargent wants an audit of the usage and costs associated with state aircraft by Governor Scott Walker. “Governor Walker’s been using the state plane more in first term than his predecessors,” Sargent said.

The Madison Democrat said Walker used planes for 34 flights under 40 miles, and 275 flights to the Milwaukee area. Sargent has sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Audit Committee requesting that the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau conduct the review

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says nearly all of the shorter trips were legs on days during which Walker stopped in multiple locations, and nearly all the flights between Madison and Milwaukee were beginning or returning legs of much larger trips or returning legs. Patrick said Walker feels it’s important to get out of Madison and around Wisconsin to talk with the people of the state, and his schedule reflects that.

Mary Burke votes early in Madison

PHOTO; WRN

PHOTO; WRN

Mary Burke cast her vote Tuesday in Wisconsin’s closely contested governor’s race. The Democrat cast her early absentee ballot at the Madison clerk’s office – and there were plenty of media on hand as she did. Burke said she wants to make voters aware of the option. “It is to increase awareness of early voting, that there is that opportunity,” she said. The early voting got underway Monday at clerks offices across the state.

In a race that’s all about turnout, Burke said she’s not overly focused on specific numbers of early votes versus those cast on Election Day November 4th. “I look at the turnout overall by November 4th, and certainly need to have good turnout.” she said.

The race is generating support from big names: First Lady Michelle Obama has campaigned twice for Burke, former President Bill Clinton will be in Milwaukee on Friday, and a visit from President Obama is possible in the week prior to the election. “People wouldn’t be here unless they thought I had great chance of winning,” Burke said.

Burke expects turnout to be greater than in the 2010 race for governor, but probably not as large as in the 2012 recall. Republican Governor Scott Walker – who plans to vote on Election Day – has had only one campaign visit from a big name supporter so far – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Senator Tammy Baldwin doesn’t see need for Ebola travel restrictions

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says Congress needs to debate a policy towards ISIS. “I certainly believe that there is a role that the Congress of the United States should have already played, but we still have opportunities to have a full debate on what the nature of that engagement will be,” the Wisconsin Democrat said in Madison Monday.

Baldwin said the Obama administration is relying on a pair of resolutions on use of force that were passed by Congress more than a decade ago – which are “ill-suited” to the current problems in Iraq and Syria. “I do believe that there’s a role for debate, and have concerns that if we don’t have that, this could end up being an open-ended military engagement. Baldwin said “Iraq has to be able to stand up and fight for itself” and if it can’t, no international coalition will be able to do that for the Iraqis.

Baldwin also doesn’t see the need to ban travel to West Africa in response to the Ebola epidemic there. “I agree with the scientific community that says that it would be unwise, in terms of our ability to contain the epidemic in the three west African countries where it originated,” Baldwin said.

Wisconsin Republicans, Senator Ron Johnson and Representative Reid Ribble, where among the politicians who voiced support for such a ban.

“The measures that have been taken to increase screening at entry points in the United States where we receive passengers that might have been in west Africa are the right way to go,” said Baldwin.