By The Associated Press

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. January 23, 2022.

Editorial: Narcan belongs in Wisconsin schools

Back in November, we ran an article from one of our sister papers, the Ashland Daily Press. The story included interviews with emergency personnel about their use of Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses.

The results from Narcan are stunning. It’s an immediate reversal of an overdose caused by heroin, fentanyl, morphine or other opioids. The person who overdosed still needs careful observation — the amount in their system may be enough to outlast the Narcan — but the lifesaving potential is clear. One of the people interviewed in November compared the effects to “Lazarus (coming) back from the dead.”

Today we have a very different article from the Associated Press. It’s from Hartford, Connecticut. A 13-year-old student died after apparently overdosing on fentanyl at school. The tragedy has renewed calls there to make sure Narcan is available in all schools. That’s a path Wisconsin schools should follow.

We understand the reluctance to talk about the issue. No one wants to admit that there are drugs in schools, even though we all know there are. No one wants to think about the fact students may well use those drugs while at school, or that they can overdose there.

The age of the Connecticut student raises similar reactions. No one wants to think about children barely into their teens using drugs, much less students younger than them. It’s far more comforting to think of student drug use as confined to a small, easily identified subset of soon-to-be-dropouts, if we think about it at all. But that’s just not reality.

That was part of the problem in Connecticut. The mayor said the student’s age meant overdose wasn’t the first thing to come to mind when the school nurse reached the student. It didn’t occur to the first responders who arrived soon after, either, and they had the Narcan that could have been lifesaving.

The reality is that students will almost inevitably encounter drugs at some point, and many will do so through their circles of friends. Addiction doesn’t have a guaranteed look, either. If you want to know what addiction looks like, start by looking in the mirror. It can literally be anyone you encounter, and it can be hidden amazingly well.

Schools are one of the comparatively few places where we should be able to depend on some form of observation at most times. It’s a place where students and teachers are able to spot problems and respond quickly. That should, generally speaking, make it difficult for most overdoses to go undetected for long periods.

Quick detection is critical, and it is possible at schools. And, if the school nurses and administrators are trained in the use of Narcan and have access to it, they are well-positioned to respond. Having Narcan in school can save lives.

The National Association of School Nurses has pushed for Narcan to be in all schools since 2015. So does Ethan’s Run Against Addiction, an advocacy group formed after a 25-year-old in Wisconsin died of a heroin overdose.

Some will probably object on the specious grounds that having Narcan provides a safety net that will encourage students to use drugs. They’ll claim it runs counter to the anti-drug messages schools already have, and that it will muddle the issue. We don’t buy those arguments.

Having mats in gym class doesn’t encourage students to fall from equipment. Having materials other than asphalt or hard-packed dirt under playground equipment doesn’t make falling off a slide more appealing. Safety nets are part and parcel of schools’ approaches to any number of issues. They don’t encourage bad behavior; they protect against mistakes.

As for muddling the message on drug use, give the kids more credit. Children may be inexperienced, but they’re not dumb. They get mixed messages all the time from parents, friends and any number of the commercials for rival products that infest television. They sort through those. There’s every reason to think they will understand precisely why schools have Narcan on hand without thinking drug use is a good idea.

Should any of this be necessary? Of course not. Nothing would make us happier than for a school to stock Narcan, train people to administer it, and never have to think about the issue again.

But we’re talking about reality, not the way things should be. Drugs are in schools, and schools need to be ready to respond.


Kenosha News, January 21, 2022.

Editorial: No need to lower concealed carry age in Wisconsin

State Rep. Shae Sortwell, R-Gibson, is pushing a plan to lower the minimum age to legally carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin to 18 years old.

The Green Bay area lawmaker argues that 18-year-olds have the right to vote or go to war, so they should have the right to carry a concealed weapon.

“It is our obligation as the state Legislature under our oath to the Constitution of the United States and oath to the state constitution to ensure equality before the law,” Sortwell said at a public hearing on the proposed legislation.”

The fact is that under federal law 18, 19, and 20-year-olds can’t legally purchase a handgun from a federally licensed firearm dealer. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be gifted a handgun or purchase one from a private seller. And under Wisconsin state law anyone over the age of 18 can possess a handgun and carry it openly or, under Department of Natural Resources policies, hunt with a concealed handgun if he or she is the legal occupant of the land.

But here’s the rub. Gun violence is epidemic in the United States. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, “In 2019, 3,371 American children and teens were killed with guns.” The non-profit organization’s 2021 report, “The state of America’s children” said that gun violence became “the leading cause of death for all children and teens ages 1-19 in 2018, surpassing motor vehicle accidents for the first time in history.”

“Guns killed more children and teens than cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, HIV/AIDs and opioids combined,” the report said.

And for “every child or teen fatally shot, another five suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.”

Small wonder then that Sortwell’s proposal has drawn opposition from the city of Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort.

We read every day about shootings and carjackings in Milwaukee, often committed by teenagers and we don’t kid ourselves that the guns they obtain are gotten illegally.

The question then, is do we need to add another log to this fire of mayhem by encouraging young people to carry hidden weapons. We don’t.

We would urge Rep. Sortwell to buy a large black Sharpie, turn his proposed bill over, draw some large concentric circles and then take it to the gun range.


La Crosse Tribune. January 23, 2022.

Editorial: Election probe should conclude before primary voting day

Dozens of candidates have stepped forward to run for La Crosse County Board, and they should be applauded.

Dozens more are running for school boards throughout the region, deciding they want to become involved rather than sit on the sidelines.

The candidates facing Feb. 15 primary challenges are busy now, while those competing in the spring election April 5 have more time.

Those are just two of four elections in Wisconsin in 2022, which promises to be a challenging year for county clerks and elections workers all over the state.

Challenging, but they are experts at it. And they don’t need or deserve a threatening cloud hanging over them and the process.

The candidates don’t need or deserve a threatening cloud over their bid for local office either.

It should be up the voters, as it always is. Vote, count it, and move on.

Yet Wisconsin taxpayers are still paying for a probe into the 2020 race for president. And that probe — being conducted by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to ensure every vote is counted — is the threatening cloud over the four elections this year.

Gableman is threatening mayors as the $676,000 investigation grinds on, and of late key Republicans who pushed for the probe are sending a different signal.

Take state Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, chair of the Senate’s elections committee and former county elections clerk.

She sounded the alarm earlier for a probe. But in recent weeks she has called for it to end swiftly.

“No election is perfect but there is not evidence of intentional malfeasance. No evidence that the election in 2020 wasn’t accurate,” Bernier said last month. “So we cannot keep undermining our Republic. It is not easy to fraudulently vote in the state of Wisconsin.”

Bernier said Gableman’s investigation contains “made-up things” meant to play to the Republican base.

“Mr. Gableman is coming to my county and I will attend that meeting along with my concealed carry permit, to be perfectly honest, because (Gableman’s investigation) keeps jazzing up the people who think they know what they’re talking about, and they don’t,” Bernier said. “My advice would be to have Mr. Gableman wrap up sooner rather than later.”

Gableman has responded by calling for her to resign. She has announced that she does not plan to seek re-election.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has blamed Democrats for lengthening the probe by not responding to Gableman, now says he wants it to conclude this month and for Gableman to present recommendations in February. The GOP-led legislature, says Vos, would act on those recommendations in March.

Notice that Vos’ timetable extends this past the first primary and toward the spring election. That is ridiculous.

In the meantime, State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, is asking questions that many Wisconsinites would ask.

With a price tag of $676,000, Carpenter said the public deserves to know how every penny is being spent.

“I respect former Justice Michael Gableman,” Carpenter said. “I’ve talked to him many times during State of the State speeches, but his bully tough approach and the waste of taxpayers’ dollars is inexcusable.”

The clock should be ticking loudly on the Gableman probe, and it all should end — including his “recommendations” and legislative “action” — before the February 15 primary.

The candidates, county clerks and elections workers all over the state deserve that, as do the voters who should be able to go to the polls in 2022 knowing that they are still not paying for 2020.