NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, May 25, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


A survey of Wisconsin’s high school students found more youth are suffering from depression and anxiety, while screen usage is continuing to rise.

The survey results come shortly after a United States Surgeon General advisory found that although social media has some benefits, “social media can also pose a risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the summary report of their Youth Risk Behavior Survey Wednesday, while some results from the survey were released in December. The survey included 90 questions asked to over 1,800 high school students in 43 public, charter and alternative schools across the state in the fall of 2021.

The survey found that more than 1-in-2 students reported having anxiety — a 12 percent increase from 2017. The survey found that 1-in-3 students reported depression. It also found that 1-in-5 students reported non-suicidal self-harm.

Dr. Jenny Walczak, the clinical director of mental and behavioral health for Children’s Wisconsin, said the pressure for youth to compete academically and socially, a lack of mental health resources, an increase in screen time and social media usage and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to continuing mental health concerns for youth across the state and nation.

When it comes to screen use, 3-of-4 students reported three or more hours of recreational time in front of a TV, computer, smartphone or other electronic device each day. That doesn’t count time spent using devices for schoolwork.

Walczak said more screen usage can expose children to information and content that isn’t appropriate for developing brains.

“Kids are spending a lot of time on screens, on social media, which means that it takes away from in-person time with families, with friends,” she said.

—WI Public Radio

Two Green Bay-area lawmakers are asking colleagues crafting the next two-year state budget to include $2 million to pay for costs associated with the Green Bay Packers hosting the National Football League draft in 2025.

Rep. David Steffen and Sen. Robert Cowles, both Republicans from Green Bay, said the money would cover a portion of the expected costs to the Packers to host the event, which Cowles and Steffen said could cost $7.5 million overall.

The measure would require the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to provide a grant to the Experience Greater Green Bay Corp., according to a draft of the budget motion Steffen’s office provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday.

The league awarded Green Bay the 2025 draft during the league meeting Monday in Minneapolis. The Packers estimate 240,000 people will attend the draft in Green Bay, generating a $94 million economic impact statewide and $20 million locally. Kansas City reported 320,000 visitors for the 2023 draft held in April.

“A $2 million investment for a $94 million return is phenomenal,” Steffen said in a statement. “I am proud to have advocated for state support of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, given the significant positive financial impact this event will have on our state.”

Cowles said, “with a reasonable request to ensure the event goes off without a hitch and that we put our best foot forward, Northeast Wisconsin and the entire state would be able to see a great return on our investment.”

Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, who oversees the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, said the committee is “aware of the request by the Packers for the state to provide financial support for the NFL draft. Conversations about this request are ongoing as part of the larger budget conversation,” Born said when asked whether the Republicans who control the budget committee plan to support including the allocation in the state budget.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee-area leaders for years called on the state to give local voters the opportunity to raise a Milwaukee County sales tax — but now, with a bill winding through the legislative process in Madison, local leaders are framing such a referendum as one of the least desirable options.

As far back as 2017, then-Mayor Tom Barrett called for a referendum on a local sales tax to fund public safety. In 2019, Milwaukee County’s “Fair Deal for Milwaukee County” workgroup called for sweeping changes to avert a financial crisis, and local leaders announced plans to seek permission from the state for a binding referendum to raise the Milwaukee County sales tax.

But much has shifted since that time.

As it stands, the legislation passed by the Assembly and now before the Senate would allow the City of Milwaukee to levy a 2% sales tax while Milwaukee County could add a 0.375% sales tax on top of its current 0.5% tax, if voters approve.

However, while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said his caucus was “done negotiating” on the local government funding bill that applies to communities across the state, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said his caucus won’t support a provision that would require Milwaukee officials to get approval from voters before raising sales taxes. LeMahieu’s move is one Milwaukee officials and Gov. Tony Evers would support but that Vos said could “kill the bill.”

(Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier) Johnson has cited concerns that a referendum would not pass, in part given the complex issue that voters would have to absorb on a very short timeline.

“As we continue to have negotiations, we have been asking and talking about the fact that … if you have us go to referendum that’s going to be an uphill battle. But if you want this to pass and you want to make sure we are solving problems for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, the best route to go would be to do this through enabling legislation,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

The bill being debated by the Legislature now includes a higher sales tax than the previous legislation contemplated. It would also move new city and county employees to the state pension system.

Unlike the 2019 legislation, the current bill requires that the funding be used for pension obligations at the city and county, and for public safety services. Questions that would appear on voters’ ballots are expected to be complex, as are the pension issues both local governments face.

Although it’s hard to predict how voters would respond, the size of the proposed sales tax increases and the use of the money may have an impact on the outcome of any referendums, state Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee said.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A bipartisan group of legislators wants teachers who sexually harass students go to prison and lose their licenses.

Democratic state Reps. Tip McGuire and Tod Ohnstad along with Republican Sens. Jesse James and John Spiros released a bill Wednesday that would make school employees, contractors or volunteers who engage in sexual misconduct against a pupil guilty of a felony punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison. Employees would automatically lose their licenses for at least six years if convicted.

The new bill defines sexual misconduct as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or sexual contact that substantially affects a student’s academic performance or create a hostile or offensive school environment. Any police officer or county department that learns of such sexual misconduct must report the violations to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Wisconsin already has extensive laws against sexually assaulting students and exposing children to pornography. Existing statutes also prohibit child enticement, causing mental harm to a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child.

But McGuire and Ohnstad said during a news conference that no existing Wisconsin law specifically outlaws sexual harassment in schools. They pointed to an October analysis from the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau that concluded that Wisconsin’s sexual harassment laws target the workplace, not schools.

—Wisconsin AP

Protests over comments an Outagamie County Board member made about transgender people spilled into the board’s meeting Tuesday night, shutting down the proceeding for roughly an hour.

Before the meeting, about three dozen local activists called for county supervisor Tim Hermes to resign as they assembled outside the Outagamie County Courthouse, the group angry about comments Hermes made at a board meeting earlier this month.

On May 9, following a presentation on diversity to the County Board, Hermes insinuated that men were pretending to be transgender to go into bathrooms or changing rooms with young girls, before saying, “I find it disgusting,” according to the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Although the meeting was not recorded, County Executive Tom Nelson, Supervisor Sara MacDonald, Supervisor Steve Thiede and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Major Cooper corroborated the newspaper’s story.

Hermes’ comments were condemned by several public officials, and Thiede also called on him to resign.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there’s “no evidence” that transgender people using bathrooms that align with their gender identity leads to violence or undermines safety. The LGBTQ+ advocacy group said such claims are “contrived” and “not a real concern based on habits of actual predators.”

Hermes did not respond to Wisconsin Public Radio’s requests for comment. But he did send a statement to WBAY-TV last week.

“I have no issues with the trans community. Everybody deserves the same equality, respect and the right to feel safe,” Hermes told the TV station. “I did nothing wrong. I have a right to free speech. I don’t find it appropriate for me to be bullied for doing my job.”

—WI Public Radio

Conservative commentator Megyn Kelly warned about a possible Trump and Biden 2024 matchup, insinuating that “they could both die” as they fight for a second term in the White House.

Kelly expressed her concern over both candidates’ ages, which could potentially leave the U.S. without a president.

Trump, who is currently 76 and would be 82, and Biden, who is now 80 and would be 86 years old by the end of a second term, poses several risks as the two gear up to the campaign.

Kelly discussed the issue on her podcast.

“You know what’s crazy is if it winds up being Trump, Biden in the contest, forgive me, but they could both die. Like, they’re old enough that one might not make it to the actual election day, never mind through a first term or, in Biden’s case, a second. I mean, this is something we actually have to factor in when you have presidential candidates who are around 80 years old,” Kelley said.

Biden’s age has been at the forefront of concerns among both parties as he is often caught falling over his feet and struggling to get through public speeches.


Target is no longer selling LGBT+ Pride products online from a fashion designer who sells Satan-inspired merchandise, but the U.K.-based fashion brand Abprallen said the company was aware of the controversial designs before they partnered together.

Target removed three Abprallen Pride products, including a messenger bag with the phrase “We belong everywhere,” a “Too queer for here” tote, and a “Cure transphobia not trans people” adult sweatshirt. However, Abprallen designer Erik Carnell, who identifies as a “gay trans man,” said Target was aware of the brand’s satanic work before they partnered together.

A Target insider said Tuesday that the retailer is trying to avoid a “Bud Light situation,” referring to the backlash the brewer received for partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Target had received criticism for its Pride Month displays, with special concern for items directed toward children.

Abprallen came under scrutiny for selling controversial products online such as pins stating “Satan respects pronouns,” “Join my gay cult” and “Sorry you’re cis. Get well soon.”

“When I was approached to create products for Target they told me that my work such as ‘Satan Respects Pronouns’ wouldn’t be a good fit, they were observant enough and had the necessary critical thinking skills to realize that my use of occult imagery is as harmless as any horror movie targeted towards adults but wanted my collection for adults to be a bit less gothic,” Carnell said on Instagram.

“I have no desire to sell or market my work to children. They don’t have money, for one thing,” Carnell also said. “I am, believe it or not, not a Satanist. … I don’t believe in Satan (not [sic] do Satanists, actually) but I do think Satan, pentagrams, skulls, ghosts, and the occult are cool and interesting.”

—Just the News

Tina Turner, the unstoppable singer and stage performer who teamed with husband Ike Turner for a dynamic run of hit records and live shows in the 1960s and ’70s and survived her horrifying marriage to triumph in middle age with the chart-topping “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” has died at 83.

Turner died Wednesday, after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, according to her manager. She became a Swiss citizen a decade ago.

Few stars traveled so far and overcame so much. Physically battered, emotionally devastated and financially ruined by her 20-year relationship with Ike Turner, she became a superstar on her own in her 40s, at a time when most of her peers were on their way down, and remained a top concert draw for years after.

“How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?” Angela Bassett, who played Turner in the 1993 biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” said in a statement.

“Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like.”

—Associated Press


Joe Biden became president in 2021 because the alternative was four more years of Donald Trump. If Ronald Dion DeSantis wins the Republican Party nomination next year, it will also be because the alternative is you-know-who. Trump fatigue is a real phenomenon: even many Trump supporters think it’s time to move on, which is the key to the forty-four-year-old DeSantis’s appeal. He is Trump but he gets stuff done. He is Trump but you get two terms.

At the same time, DeSantis’s biggest problem is that he’s up against Donald Trump, one of the most effective political campaigners of the twenty-first century. DeSantis’s record as governor of Florida is impressive: he’s fought culture wars and come out on top; during Covid, he rebelled against the biosecurity consensus and won. In the November midterms, as various high-profile, Trump-endorsed candidates failed, DeSantis was reelected in Florida by over 20 percentage points.

DeSantis is an “introvert in an extrovert’s world,” as the Trump ally and Florida insider Roger Stone put it to me earlier this year. He often seems uncomfortable engaging with other humans. His “faulty robot” laugh at a meet-and-greet in Iowa last week went viral. Some pundits have compared him to Nixon, another distinctly uncozy figure, who nonetheless won the White House. But could Nixon have thrived in the internet age, when every cameraphone can catch every awkward moment?

For now DeSantis is far, far behind in the polls and has been slipping further back in recent weeks. That suits the Democrats fine, since their Biden reelection message appears to be essentially the same as 2020: i.e., he’s not Trump. Will DeSantis spare America from the same grim choice in 2024? It’s too early to say. For now, however, his chances look slim.

—Freddy Gray is deputy editor of The Spectator

According to the woke social justice types, not only can negative behaviors in society be blamed on “white supremacy,” but so too should practices that lead to higher levels of productivity — practices like waking up early to start one’s workday. In a recent article in Medium, a social justice warrior asserts that “waking up early is rooted in white supremacy.” The author goes on to claim that waking up at the crack of dawn was a European or white phenomenon that they have subsequently forced onto other cultures. This claim is blatantly false upon its face, as many cultures across the globe have long recognized and practiced that old adage of “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” It appears that the actual motive behind this dubious claim is to justify excusing laziness by labeling industriousness and timeliness as “white supremacy.”

—The Patriot Post

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In a speech before Congress in 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy committed the United States to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade; the goal was achieved with Apollo 11 in 1969.

AND in 1935, American baseball player Babe Ruth hit the 714th and last home run of his career; he retired later that year.

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