Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Wood’

Poor Steve Nass

March 3, 2010

Proposing to expel a guy who’s been caught drunk driving five times is about as easy as introducing a resolution supporting Wisconsin cheese. Even if you’re representing a people who loves drunk driving as much as the Sconnies do. Even if Jeff Wood’s calculations are correct, and the people of the Chippewa Falls  area don’t chase him out of office for his antics, Steve Nass has got nothing to lose by suggesting an early exit. But God forbid Nass do something uncontroversial.

Nass didn’t show up for Wednesday morning’s public hearing because he was concerned about the circus-like atmosphere created by Wood and Democratic partisan politics, his spokesman Mike Mikalsen said.

Committee chairwoman Mary Hubler, D-Rice Lake, said she would not yet schedule an executive session to vote on Wood because Nass didn’t show up Wednesday to testify or be cross-examined by Wood and his attorney.

Right, the Democrats want to use one of their members’ public humiliation and alcoholism to publicly ridicule and exploit Steve Nass.

Wood no wanna go

February 1, 2010

It’s not that Rep. Jeff Wood doesn’t want to resign. He just respects precedent.

Wood, an independent from Chippewa Falls who has been arrested three time since late 2008, faces a Feb. 17 committee hearing on his expulsion from the Legislature. But he argues kicking him out of the chamber “would really set an unusual precedent.”

Wood, in an interview on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” said no lawmakers have been kicked out in more than 90 years despite a series of felonies in office — including corruption and sexual assault. He said courts have traditionally handled lawmakers’ legal issues, while voters have been allowed to handle recalls or elections.

“I think it’s up to the constituents who represents them, not necessarily one person from Whitewater,” Wood said, a reference to GOP Rep. Steve Nass, who authored the resolution to expel him.

What trick does Wood have up his sleeve? My guess –– Rep. Marlin Schneider. The longest-serving member of the Assembly in state history and the only opponent of recent OWI legislation, will burst into the committee room, point at Nass and shout “HAVE YOU NO DECENCY SIR? Let us not assassinate this lad further!”

Jeff Wood’s expulsion hearing scheduled

January 14, 2010

It looks like Rep. Jeff Wood, who managed to drive safely to Madison and vote in favor of increasing penalties for OWI offenders (before trying to climb out a window to escape reporters), will finally face political justice next Wednesday, when the Assembly Special Committee on Ethics and Standards will vote on a resolution to expel the independent legislator from Bloomer.

Here’s a vote I’d keep my eye on: Marlin Schneider. Will the lone opponent of the OWI bill, who has decried the services offered for alcohol issues in the state, extend his compassion to Wood in the form of a vote against expulsion?

Drunk or not, Wood right on OWI

December 17, 2009

Although Rep. Jeff Wood clearly has substance abuse problems that prevent him from serving as a competent member of the State Legislature, his statement in response to the new OWI law, which he voted in favor of, was considerably better than that of many of the (supposedly) non-drunken state legislators:

After ducking reporters — including possibly going out a window to avoid those waiting outside his Capitol office — Wood issued a statement saying he supported the bill due to its mandates on ignition interlocks and because of its expansion of Winnebago County’s Safe Streets program, which he argues will reduce recidivism.

“I have learned first hand how difficult it is to combat this disease,” Wood said in a statement, noting he has had to take out a personal loan to cover his stay at an inpatient treatment facility.

“Unfortunately, for most people, obtaining the treatment they require is out of reach due to financial constraints,” Wood said. “I hope Wisconsin continues to look at helping people treat the disease instead of addressing the punishment alone.”

As I’ve argued repeatedly, tougher penalties for the worst repeat offenders, such as Wood, is not the key to getting drunk drivers off the road. For those people, the vast majority of whom are alcoholics, treatment is the only realistic deterrent to future reckless behavior. Tougher enforcement and stiffer penalties for first offenders would make a bigger difference.It would discourage the many people who figure they’re not going to get caught to think again, and it would perhaps further stigmatize drunk driving in a state where many people drive somewhat drunk on a regular basis and think nothing of it.

Assembly refuses vote on drunk driving reform

November 5, 2009

Expect to see an editorial from the Badger Herald and perhaps a few words from James Rowen on the Assembly’s refusal to bring OWI reforms to a vote. The increased penalties had earlier been approved by the State Senate unanimously. A beautiful display of how the most important political decision is not how to vote, but whether to vote.

There will be an outcry, especially in light of the Jeff Wood debacle and lawmakers’ subsequent refusal to sign a pledge to resign if convicted of drunken driving. However, the legislature is right to re-examine its approach to OWI. Penalties should exist and they do work, but increasing penalties for repeat offenders usually just means putting more alcoholics in jail. If anything, Wood’s arrests gave a glimpse into the despair and illness that most of the worst offenders suffer from. They’re not stubborn. They’re sick. They need help.

Meaningful OWI reform will include stricter measures for first time offenders, including immediate suspension of license and ignition-interlocks. However, if the state is actually interested in protecting people on the roads, it will also have to start offering more alcohol treatment services to OWI convicts. And of course, the state will have to pay for it all – preferably by raising the beer and liquor taxes.

Drunken state rep stands up for 4th amendment

July 29, 2009

It’s good to see Wisconsin be at the forefront of the fight for American principles – whether it’s Russ Feingold casting the lone vote against the Patriot Act (and the recent defense appropriations bill) or David Obey pushing for health care reform. However, it’s extra special when the state’s unique flavor of inebriation is injected into battles for noble causes.

Take State Rep. Jeff Wood, a Republican-turned-Independent from Chippewa Falls. In December Wood was arrested and pleaded no contest to his third OWI offense, as well as for possession of marijuana, which was found in his car by the arresting officer.

Wood is now asking a judge to reverse the conviction for pot possession, arguing that the state trooper did not have a warrant to search his vehicle. Wood is arguing that the search violated 4th amendment because the officer did not have probable cause to snoop around in his car. If the judge agrees, the marijuana found will have to be suppressed and the conviction would almost undoubtedly be overturned.

In other news, Wood is also seeking to have a 1991 OWI conviction thrown out because…it’s not explained.

Either way, this goes to show that electing drunken public servants may not be as detrimental to democratic government as many-a-Wisconsinite seems to think. Rep. Wood has the rare opportunity of truly standing up for our constitution in a way that Russ Feingold, despite all of his speeches and votes in favor of civil liberties, never will.

Budget depends on drunks

June 24, 2009

You can’t have a state full of drunks and simply hope that they’ll only affect drunk driving laws. They’ll probably write the budget as well.

Just look at the conference committee that’s going to try to hammer out the differences between the Senate and the Assembly’s versions of the budget. The lead Democrat on the committee is Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, a proud OWI convict.

Additionally, success for the Democrats’ is likely hinging on the vote of independent Rep. Jeff Wood. Wood was a Republican until he decided to desert the party because it had abandoned the principles of limited government and low taxes. So now he caucuses with the Democrats…strange.

Well, one day you start voting with the Democrats…the next day..

State Rep. Jeff Wood (I-Bloomer) had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 – nearly twice the legal limit – when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of marijuana, according to a police report released Monday.

Wood said he ran into college friends at a biofuels event Thursday and went to a bar. He said he accepted marijuana and a pipe someone offered him and got in his car.

Now it looks like Woods may not be a reliable vote for the Dems on the budget. He’s been complaining about earmarks and a bunch of other vague illusions to things he doesn’t like. With one Democratic representative tending to a sick wife, the Democrats may be wishing they had an even bigger party guy (pun absolutely intended) to depend on for passage.


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