Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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Tuesday - October 17, 2017 9:01 am

Wisconsin no longer needs all those maps

When was the last time you looked at a map? An actual map. The ones all folded up nice and neat that you can never seem to fold back in place just right. If you're like most people, it has probably been a while since you unfolded an actual map, the kind made of paper. Maybe you didn't even know maps are still being printed these days. Well, they are. At least in Wisconsin. Not that they are in much demand. But Wisconsin state law requires the maps be printed, and that they be distributed to lawmakers and others. In fact, every time a new map of the state of Wisconsin is printed, 500 copies of the highway maps are distributed to each of the state's 132 lawmakers. Each lawmaker also gets 50 copies of large laminated wall maps of the state highway system. Is that really necessary? Are people beating down our lawmakers doors to get a new state map every time one is printed? Nope. The state Department of Transportation has been printing these highway maps since 1918. But smart phones didn't exist way back then. People couldn't talk to their phones to ask for directions or ask Alexa to map the best route. Now, one Wisconsin lawmaker wants to end the requirement that the DOT print and distribute these maps. It wouldn't save a lot of money. Only about $10,000 a year, a tiny portion of the state's $76 billion budget. But that doesn't mean ending the maps is a bad idea. If nothing else, it will keep thousands of unwanted and unused maps out of the garbage.

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As far as I can tell, there isn’t a lot of rioting going on in Wisconsin. At least what most of us would consider to be an actual riot. But Wisconsin lawmakers think there is too much riotous behavior in the state, and are working on trying to pass what has been dubbed the “riot bill.” This legislation would threaten to arrest and jail people who participate in a riot, even if it is really more protest than riot. It would be a felony, and those found guilty could get more than three years in prison. Even if they never throw a beer bottle, overturn cars, light fires, or even so much as open their mouths. As written, the bill defines a riot as a gathering of three or more people. If one person in that group acts violently, all three could be slapped with a felony. That sounds a lot like guilt by association. We shouldn’t have laws that lock people up for doing nothing wrong other than being near someone who did. People who protest peacefully should be allowed to do so. After all, we still have First Amendment rights to assemble and protest. If Wisconsin lawmakers think that rioting is such a problem in the state that we need new laws to deal with it, they should at least make sure the laws target only those who actually cause trouble.

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Friday - October 13, 2017 9:11 am

Bad VA doctors shouldn't get rewarded

Just when we thought the mistakes made by the Veterans Administration couldn't get much worse. The VA hospital system has been under fire in recent years for a variety of mis-steps. The Tomah VA hospital became the poster child for the over-prescription of powerful medications. The facility earned the nickname “Candyland” for the penchant to hand out opiates like they were candy on Halloween. That has prompted some legislative changes from Congress, but clearly more needs to be done. We are now learning that the doctors who were passing out all those drugs, while no longer working at the facility, are still employed in the medical field. And, even worse, when they left they were handed golden parachutes. At the Tomah VA, Doctor Mario DeSanctis was fired following the death of a Marine who died at the Tomah VA from a cocktail of 13 powerful prescriptions. But DeSanctis fought the firing, and the VA ended up settling with him. He was awarded $163,000 in taxpayer money and left with a clean record, free to continue practicing elsewhere. A report by USA Today finds such payouts at VA Hospitals across the country to those who didn't deserve it totaled nearly $7 million. That is inexcusable. These are people who did not serve honorably, who failed to provide proper leadership and should not be entitled to a dime of taxpayer money. While many reforms have been made in the VA System in light of what happened in Tomah, clearly more reforms are needed.

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Thursday - October 12, 2017 9:19 am

Plan to merge UW System schools a good start

At least it’s a start. The University of Wisconsin System is unveiling a plan to become leaner. Under the plan to be presented to the Board of Regents, the state’s two year and four year campuses will be merged. It would cluster the two and four year schools by region. So, UW Marinette and UW Sheboygan would become a branch of UW Green Bay, while UW Barron County would become part of UW-Eau Claire. This is not suprising. Enrollment at the UW System’s two year schools has been declining rapidly. Unfortunately, the plan does not call for closing any existing UW campuses. But Wisconsin has more schools in its university system than nearly every other state. The UW System is made up of 13 four-year schools, and 13 two-year schools. Do we need that many? Do we need a UW Fox Valley and a UW Oskhosh? Do we need a UW Rock County and UW Whitewater? Supporters say this plan will help cut costs, and raise graduation numbers. But more can be done. Our university system should offer more online courses to save money and provide more convenience. And the system should work to make it easier for students to graduate on time. This is a start, but we should look at making even bigger changes to our system of higher education.

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Wednesday - October 11, 2017 9:19 am

Wisconsin environment under attack

The fight is on for clean air and water. Despite Wisconsin’s long history as a national leader in protecting our water, air and land, the state is suddenly willing to ignore that history in order to be more business friendly. A recent vote by our state lawmakers in Madison essentially ignores the state constitution which says the waters of Wisconsin belong to the people of Wisconsin. The legislature passed a law granting permanent access to groundwater for those with high capacity well permits. Another bill scheduled for debate calls for ending state protection for isolated wetlands in Wisconsin. In Washington, the EPA is working to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, which works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the fact that this rule is the most significant U.S. policy to reduce carbon emissions ever put into place. Our environment is under attack like never before. It wasn’t long ago that protecting our environment was not such a partisan issue. Just look back to great Wisconsinites like John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson. When it comes to protecting our environment, our lawmakers should think of future generations and work together to provide solutions which improve not weaken our state’s environmental health.

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The Wisconsin Board of Regents apparently wants us all to get along. And will expel those students who dare to disagree. The Regents have adopted a new rule which threatens to kick out students at UW-La Crosse and other public universities simply for trying to exercise their rights to free speech. Under the rule, if students turn out to demonstrate against someone whose views they abhor, they can be sent packing. That is misguided, unnecessary and likely unconstitutional. Students should be encouraged to stand up for what they believe in. If they don’t like that their tuition money is being used to bring in a speaker who professes hate, they are well within their right to say, loudly, that they don’t agree. There are limits of course. If protesters on our campus commit or incite violence, there are already rules in place on our campuses against that. Under the language of the policy adopted by the UW Regents, students could be disciplined if even one person is offended by their protests. And why should our campuses be different? Such rules don’t apply to protests held elsewhere, like public parks or convention halls. The Regents call their new policy “The Freedom of Expression Policy.” It seems it should more appropriately be called the “Shut the hell up and get in line” policy.

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Friday - October 6, 2017 8:59 am

Body cam footage should be public record

In the wake of fatal shootings by police across the country, police body cams are becoming more popular. Many police departments, including La Crosse, are outfitting their officers with body cams so we can get a clearer picture of just what happened in these situations. But outfitting officers with cameras is not enough. We need to figure out the rules for what to do with the footage. Whether it will be a public record available for all to see, and how long the footage needs to be retained are among the issues that need to be decided. Wisconsin legislators are trying to decide those issues so far, but we're not encouraged by what we see so far. The bill being debated would largely prevent much of the camera footage from the public's eye. The footage would largely be exempt from the state's public records law. Part of that is to protect the privacy of footage recorded in private places, such as a person's home. But the purpose of these body cameras is to allow us to see with our own eyes what happened. Too many police involved shootings have not given us an accurate account of just what happened. And until we can see what happened, people are still going to discount one person's version of the events. Body cameras can be an effective tool to ending speculation about an officer's actions, particularly in racially charged shootings. It is in the interest of police and the public that the body cam footage be available for all to see.

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Thursday - October 5, 2017 9:26 am

Can we at least agree to outlaw bump stocks?

We have seen it after every mass killing. Democrats call for tighter restrictions on guns, and Republicans in control in Congress look the other way. It happened after Columbine. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Now, Las Vegas. But despite the tremendous loss of lives at the hands of deranged gunmen, America's gun laws have not changed. The divide is deep, but perhaps there is one area, in the wake of the worst mass killing in U.S. history, that members of both political parties can agree, and help keep our citizens safe. It appears Republicans in Washington may be at least open to having a discussion about the nation's gun policies in the wake of the latest tragedy. We're told the Vegas shooter had what are called “bump stocks” attached to some of his weapons. These are accessories that allow a person to turn a semi-automatic weapon into one which fires at rates mimicking automatic weapons. Now, fully automatic weapons, like machine guns, are outlawed for use by the public. But these bump stocks remain a perfectly legal after-market accessory that people can purchase. They are not outlawed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That should change, and Congress should begin the process of outlawing these devices. Because if we can agree that fully automatic weapons should be illegal, then shouldn't a device that turns a gun into a fully automatic weapon also be illegal?

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Wednesday - October 4, 2017 9:19 am

Stifling free speech is not protecting free speech

My recollection of college, so many years ago now, was that it was a time and place to learn new things, meet new people, many with different ideologies, and to form opinions that ultimately shape who we are as a person. But students at UWL and other schools in the UW System may be kicked out if they stand up for what they believe in. The UW Board of Regents, at its meeting later this week, will consider a bill that would crack down on free speech. Ironically, the university system considers the idea to be protecting free speech, but it seems to be just the opposite. The resolution would punish, even expel, students on those campuses who try to exercise their own rights to free speech. Any student who twice disrupts free expression on campus would be suspended. If they did so again, they would be expelled. The idea came about after some students on the UW Madison campus shouted down a conservative columnist who was scheduled to speak on campus. But threatening students who stand up for what they believe in is not protecting free speech, it is stifling it. Further, the definitions used to define disruption are quite vague, and could lead to students getting into trouble even if they were to shout “yes” or “no” during a campus rally. This resolution is unnecessary and is an overreaction to what happened in Madison. Making UW students afraid to speak out in no way protects their right to free speech.

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Tuesday - October 3, 2017 8:58 am

Supco takes up Wisconsin redistricting case

This is a very important day for the United States process of democracy. The nation's highest court today will hear arguments in a case that examines the constitutionality of how legislative boundaries are drawn. The case comes from Wisconsin, where plaintiffs argue that the current legislative boundaries, which determine in which legislative district voters reside, are unconstitutional because they benefit one political party over another. That is what the lower courts have ruled, but the state's appeal has sent this to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is hard to understate the importance of the court's decision. If the court rules that Wisconsin's map, drawn by republicans in 2011, they will have to be redrawn, which could serve to give all candidates an equal shot at getting elected. Under the current maps, the number of democrats elected to the state legislature has dwindled, even as they captured a majority of the vote. Democrats have been able to capture no more than 39 of the 99 legislative seats, despite capturing more votes. That is because the boundaries are drawn to be safe for the Republicans who drew up the maps. A rigged election is not the way our democracy is supposed to work. This ruling stands to impact more than just Wisconsin. Boundaries in 20 other states could also have to be drawn more fairly if the court declares the existing boundaries unconstitutional. But regardless of the outcome, a better system would be to keep the politicians out of the redistricting process, and establish a bipartisan commission to do the work. Because it is clear the current system is not fair to anyone.

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