Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jeff Wood gets mild reproach from state's newspapers

Despite the outrage on the state's editorial pages about the small penalties handed out to drunk drivers, when given a chance to editorialize on a public figure's dangerous combination of drinking/driving/marijuana, the state's editorial boards can only manage a mild "tut, tut." If any of these editors sat in judgement on the sentence to be handed to State Rep Jeff Wood, it would be time to open the bar because the drinks would be on him.

While swerving all over the roads, Wood hit a caution sign. The Wisconsin State Journal points out, "that sign could have been a person." That's right, Wood could have killed someone. What does the WSJ propose should happen to Wood? Should he resign? Should his peers in the legislature think of an appropriate punishment? Should Wood's constituents call for his resignation? What about jail time?

With a new legislative session beginning next month, it's time to get serious. Assuming he keeps his seat, Wood should be the first to sponsor legislation in January cracking down on Wisconsin's drunken-driving scourge.

Whoah. Let's not go crazy here. Propose legislation? Wow. I know it was both possession of marijuana and operating while intoxicated, but proposing legislation might mean he'd have to talk to his staff.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the advocate for tougher drunk driving laws in the state right now, surely would have something a bit more draconian in mind. Ricardo Pimintel wrote in the "Across the Board" editorial blog a letter to Wood,

And we wonder if you would have made this grievous error in judgment if authorities had access to sobriety checkpoints. They may have served as a deterrent.

Ordinarily, this latest arrest -- you are among at least six legislators now who have faced drunken driving charges -- might constitute a conflict of interest, so to speak. We think you can model proper behavior in a couple of ways. 1. Don't ever do this again. and 2. Show that the lesson learned here is that you realize that you posed a risk to yourself and others and that legislation is needed to deter such behavior in others.

To be fair, Pimintel did call for a third conviction to be a felony, but did not suggest what should happen to Wood. But he gets to write on the blackboard 100 times, "I will propose new legislation supporting checkpoints." Oh, and it wasn't really Wood's fault because he was improperly deterred.

Pimintel should just give Wood a hug and tell him, "There's really no bad boys. It's just your environment."

The Chetek Alert actually asks if Wood should be forced out of office.

In the end, Jeff Wood should not be forced out of the Assembly. However, he may want to think long and hard about resigning in order to send the right message to his constituents. They can then choose to elect him to the position again in the next election if they feel he is still the best candidate for the job.

Now there's commitment to treating drunk drivers seriously. Wood should "think long and hard" about resigning. How long? A weekend? Should he be sent to his room without any supper while he thinks about it? They don't even ask Wood to write any legislation.

Latest update on Wood's situation:

WXRO is reporting that despite the distance in time between drunk driving arrests, Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey will charge Wood with a third offense OWI, and the marijuana found in his car is sufficient for Wood to be charged with marijuana possession. Third offense OWI can result in a one-year jail term and a fine of up to two-thousand-dollars.