Good riddance to bad rubbish
The good news is that the attorney for DA Ken Kratz has said his client will resign before an Oct. 8 hearing date to discuss his possible removal from office.
Gov. Doyle has stated that the removal process will continue, however, until he has the actual letter of resignation in his hand. Which, judging by Kratz's past behavior, is probably a good idea.
The bad news is that more and more information has come to light suggesting some fairly gross negligence on the part of the Department of Justice and Attorney General JB Van Hollen in regards to the case.
Turns out that, despite Van Hollen's multiple insistences that his office "fully investigated" the charges made against Kratz in regards to his inappropriate text messaging of an abuse victim whose abusive boyfriend he was prosecuting, the DOJ spent all of a few days on the matter. And never actually bothered to, y'know, interview Kratz himself.
Instead, DOJ executive assistant Dean Stensberg claimed that "it wasn't necessary to interview Kratz because 'The sum of his (Kratz's) contact with her (Van Groll) was through those text messages.'"
That's technically true, but the armchair psychiatrist in me suspects that in cases like this, where the perpetrator was in a distinct position of authority over the victim, actively harassing her for a sexual relationship, and showing signs of being deeply insecure, it would be more than worth interviewing him to get a better idea of his attitude and mental state. That is, like I said from the beginning, Kratz displayed some classic signs of a serial offender that if even I could pick up on, I would hope a trained investigator would notice.
It doesn't help that Van Hollen has, despite his vociferous claims that he finds the situation so terrible, consistently passed the buck of blame to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, and even to the victim herself.
But the DOJ doesn't get off the hook that easily, I'm afraid. Van Hollen's office, after all, initially determined that the texts "didn't break any criminal laws," but further review of the case would indicate otherwise that Kratz potentially engaged in the following criminal acts:
- Stalking (Wis. Stats. 940.32)
- Sexual harassment (Wis. Stats. 111.32)
- Disorderly conduct (Wis. Stats. 947.01)
- Misconduct in office (Wis. Stats. 946.12 a Class I Felony)
So what happened? Why was the case dismissed so easily, especially if Van Hollen now publicly agrees that it was so egregious in the first place?
Once justice is done for the woman who was victimized in all this, that's the immediate next question we should be looking to answer.
I'm already pretty well over the fence when it comes to Van Hollen acting as our AG, what after he refused to defend the state's domestic partner registry and pulled some serious shenanigans leading up to the '08 elections, so this certainly doesn't do him any favors. Fortunately, he's got some actual competition in the upcoming election in the form of Scott Hassett. You can watch the two square off in a debate on Oct. 7 at the Marquette University law school.
Carrying a gun in public doesn't make private citizens disorderly, it makes them look pathetic
I shook my head and sighed when I read about the latest dust-up between police and a group of citizen advocates of open carry laws at a local Culvers restaurant. The men, part of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., all wore handguns at their sides when they went out to eat last month.
Wisconsin allows for the open carrying of firearms (except on school grounds, in taverns, and public buildings) so what these men were doing was perfectly legal. Obnoxious, but legal.
When Madison police cited them all for disorderly conduct, then, they were playing right into the hands of the political agenda of their group, which advocates both for the exercise of current rights and for the addition of pro-concealed carry laws (our state is one of only two the other being Illinois which does not issue permits for concealed carry).
Police only came to the scene when a woman who was dining at the restaurant called to express her discomfort at the presence of the men with guns. (I have to wonder if our cops treat open carry similar to women who go topless in public. In the latter cases, it's only illegal once someone complains. I don't think there's a similar law regarding guns though you'd think society would regulate weapons more strictly than boobs.)
I would call for private businesses to implement their own rules about whether or not people can carry guns in their stores as a way to avoid situations like this in the future or at least make it more clear how to handle them. But as this article points out, that has the unfortunate side effect of pitting business owners against customers. It might also have the effect of creating a confusing patchwork of "laws." So I can't say I know the perfect solution to this problem, but I do know that it's a problem.
It's a problem when a segment of the population gets so paranoid and fearful of their neighbors that they don't feel secure unless they pack heat in public. Frankly, stunts like this one give more responsible gun owners, the ones lacking the Wild West mentality, a bad name. But until we figure out a more sane approach to gun rights and control, I would hope that police at least stop giving these people yet more ammunition for their cause. If you still really want to at least chastise them for something, do it for inconsiderate conduct.