Making Democracy Work

Local Positions of the League of Women Voters-Janesville

The League of Women Voters of Janesville takes positions on key public policy issues after study, debate and consensus by our membership. Each year the members of the League review their local positions at the Annual Meeting in May. The local League also acts in support of LWVUS and LWVWI positions.

SUPPORT IMPROVED HOUSING CONDITIONS, ESPECIALLY THROUGH AN IMPROVED HOUSING CODE

SUPPORT IMPROVED HOUSING CONDITIONS, ESPECIALLY THROUGH AN IMPROVED HOUSING CODE, February 1980 Replaced with:

Housing Code Position

Position: Support improved rental housing conditions and neighborhood stabilization in the city of Janesville, Wisconsin.

Purpose: To ensure a minimum standard of living conditions, for the safety of both tenants and the public at large in the City of Janesville. The minimum level of acceptable living conditions for tenants shall be based on general safety and sanitation with adequate heating, electrical and plumbing, all in good repair; these systems must function at a capacity which is not below accepted standards for comfort and need. To promote safe and healthy neighborhoods.

To improve compliance with the Janesville Housing Code, the LWV Janesville supports:

  • Retain regular exterior inspections focused on target areas.
  • Retain policy of re-inspection fees when seeking abatement for viable complaints. The fee should adequately cover all costs to the city so as to provide incentive for prompt compliance.
  • Amend the Nuisance Ordinance to trigger interior inspection of all units owned by that property owner if said property owner has had four verified property complaints within a 12-month period. An inspection fee sufficient to cover the cost to the city would be charged for each unit's inspection.
  • Require code inspection by any certified inspector of all rental properties at time of sale. Violations are to be reported to the city inspector.
  • Make available on the COJ website a clear and specific set of code requirements to ensure general safety and sanitation as well as adequate heating, electrical and plumbing systems.
  • Create a Landlord and Tenant agreement template, which delineates the rights and responsibilities of each party. The agreement should be available for all to see on the City of Janesville (COJ) website.
  • Create a no-fee listing of all rental units by address, owner and contact information of a local responsible party.
  • If a complaint is received for a non-listed rental unit, a fine would be imposed at such a level as to encourage all properties to be listed..
  • Create a "Vacant Building" list for unoccupied buildings including those in foreclosure with owner contact information and plans for securing the building.
  • Encourage improving the city data system so that Police and Neighborhood Services easily share data on Nuisance Ordinance calls. Landlords should be notified if a ticket is issued.
  • Encourage property owners to utilize tenant-screening tools to maximize good maintenance of their property.

May 2013

SUPPORT RETENTION OF COUNCIL-CITY MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN JANESVILLE

SUPPORT RETENTION OF COUNCIL-CITY MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN JANESVILLE March 1981

The Janesville League of Women Voters reached consensus in March, 1981 after studying various forms of city government which included council-city manager; aldermanic-city manager; aldermanic-mayor. We agreed that desirable qualities in city government are accessibility, honesty, and efficiency. A representative, responsive government tat plans for the future is essential. It was agreed that Janesville's city government has possessed those qualities considered desirable, and therefore, no change is necessary. The council-city manager form of government should be retained and because Janesville had a full-time city manager, a full-time council is not necessary.

SUPPORT FOR MANDATORY ARREST IN RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

SUPPORT FOR MANDATORY ARREST IN RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE October 1987

Believing that domestic violence is a serious problem within our society and community, the League of Women Voters of Janesville supports the establishment of written policies and guidelines that require arrest and prosecution in cases where probable cause exists that a person has abused an adult family member or household member. Our policy is grounded in the safety, accountability, and dignity for all concerned. (May, 2007)

The LWV of Janesville believes that mandatory arrest and prosecution policies can protest victims and deter future violence when they are a part of a coordinated community-wide response to the crime of domestic violence. The community-wide response should provide for:

- prosecuting a case with a process that balances community safety along or in addition to the rights and safety of the victim;
- protecting the victim from further abuse after an arrest is made; including providing information about her/his legal rights and about community resources;
- consistent and on-going training and information about domestic violence for law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, and a coordinated community response team;
- collecting and publishing data that can aid in monitoring domestic abuse related arrests, prosecutions, sentencing, and services to victims;
- holding the abuser accountable through a range of alternative consequences, including treatment, within the criminal justice system;
- advocating for prosecutors that specialize in domestic violence;
- advocating for a special domestic violence court;
- supporting violence prevention programs;
- responding to domestic violence in a manner that is sensitive to the diversity of our community in terms of factors such as socioeconomic status, culture, race, language, religion, rural/urban, and sexual orientation. Definitions: Domestic Violence ~ A pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Coordinated community response team ~ A team consisting of key players in law enforcement, criminal justice, and other community systems who develop strategies and procedures focusing on domestic violence and the practices related to victims and offenders. These strategies aim to establish ways for the community to intervene in a way that ends abuse. October 1987 Revised May 2007, April 2015

SUPPORT COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR FORM OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT

SUPPORT COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR FORM OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT Adopted September 1975; Revised April 1988

The Beloit and Janesville Leagues of Women Voters in Rock County reached consensus after studying the merits of both a County Administrator and a County Executive. The Beloit and Janesville Leagues support the office of County Administrator because the position requires professional qualifications and because it can be a unifying factor of the rural, Janesville, and Beloit segments represented on the County Board.

SUPPORT FOR HISTORIC AND NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION

SUPPORT FOR HISTORIC AND NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION October 1979; Revised April 1988; Revised May 2014

The League of Women Voters of Janesville feels that historic and neighborhood preservation is important to Janesville's economic and cultural sustainability. The City has a definite role in preservation activities. Preservation should be integrated into the overall process of planning for community development. Plans for streets, schools, and other community facilities should be evaluated for their impact on historic resources. Zoning changes and/or variances should be evaluated in terms of their effect on the neighborhood and historic resources.

The City of Janesville receives grants under various federal and state programs. Funds should be used: to support neighborhood goals; to rehabilitate historic structures in an appropriate manner; to continue surveys of the historic resources of the city. Alternative housing should be made available for those who might be displaced by rehabilitation activities. In addition, reuse of historic buildings should be a major consideration in all redevelopment projects.

The League supports the City of Janesville's historic district ordinance and the work of the historic preservation commission. This allows interested property owners to take advantage of the various tax incentives for preservation. The affected neighborhood should be involved in the establishment and definition of historic district boundaries. The city should also
1. publicize the tax incentives which are available;
2. encourage property owners to find alternatives to the destruction of historic buildings;
3. reevaluate existing city ordinances for their affect on historic structures;
4. require that new construction in historic areas be compatible with the area;
5. require that renovation of historic structures and those in historic districts be in keeping with the style of the buildings.
6. allow variances to the ordinances to encourage the reuse or repurposing of historic buildings;
7. enforce the existing building codes so that historic structures do not deteriorate because of neglect. Adopted October 1979: Revised April 1988 and May 2014

SUPPORT SCHOOL PROGRAMS TO AID POTENTIAL DROPOUTS

SUPPORT SCHOOL PROGRAMS TO AID POTENTIAL DROPOUTS Adopted March 1980; Revised April 1988. The Janesville League of Women Voters recognizes that school dropouts have a difficult problem in coping with life, and that they constitute serious social and economic problems, not only for the schools, but also for the community, its government, and its institutions (i.e. social services, churches, criminal justice, etc.).

We support:
1. Early identification of potential school leavers.
2. Adequate and accurate record-keeping of student files, testing results, attendance records, and careful follow-up evaluations of such students as identified above.
3. Adequate Guidance Counselor/Pupil ratios and more time spent in personal counseling rather than scheduling or curriculum advising. Counselor time spent with ALL students not just those designated in Exceptional Education. We recommend the hiring of more school psychologists. We strongly support and commend the Advisor/Advisee program.
4. A high standard of teacher competency at all grade levels. We support adequately staffed and carefully evaluated Alternative Programs as deemed necessary on the basis of long term record keeping to supplement existing curriculum. Hopefully, these alternative programs will provide opportunities for remedial classes, vocational and career education for those students identifies as potential school leaves. We strongly support and commend the "School Within a School" concept. We also support an expanded program of Homebound Instructional and an expanded program of Homebound Instruction and services to pregnant girls.
5. Informed and concerned community efforts toward evaluating and financing of the above mentioned programs. Despite inflationary costs and state imposed budget restrictions, we deem the costs incurred on such programs to be well worth the support of the taxpaying public + as balanced against the even higher costs in absorbing the school leaver into the social services or criminal justice systems.

FAIR HOUSING

September 1989 The Janesville League of Women Voters firmly believes that Fair Housing is an issue that should be addressed by city government. While there are State and Federal laws which protect a diversity of groups, it is important that local government also provide protection for the same groups to insure equitable treatment in the housing market.

A local ordinance should include provision for the following elements: testing, investigation of complaints, injunctive relief, conciliation or arbitration, fines, affirmative action requirements, and imposition of actual and punitive damages.

In the interest of fairness there should be a process by which appeals of administrative decisions can be made, recognizing that the courts have their own appeal procedure. The city should be party to any settlement reached n order to represent the public interest in assuring continued fair housing in Janesville.

The League of Women Voters believes that public education is a critical element in promoting Fair Housing. The City should, therefore, be involved in a significant way in community outreach that includes seminars, newspaper articles and radio/TV public messages.

In addition, there is a significant role for private fair housing groups in augmenting the public effort in areas including testing, education, legal assistance, and advocacy.

SUPPORT FOR APPROPRIATE JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITIES

SUPPORT FOR APPROPRIATE JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITIES September 1989 The League of Women Voters of Janesville believes the Rock County Youth Home is an appropriate non-secure facility for temporarily housing juveniles who need protective services or who are being monitored by the probation department. However, the Home should also provide a secured area for children who might need tighter security, such as runaways or other particularly troubled children. The Rock County Jail appears to meet the present minimum requirements for secure detention established by the State of Wisconsin, including adequate supervision. However, LWV Janesville believes that counseling and educational services need to be much improved if these children in trouble are to be set on the road to productive citizenship. We would strongly recommend a visit by a counselor within 24 hours of detention and visits at regular intervals thereafter. We also strongly recommend that all detained juveniles receive continuous daily instructions in the basics: reading, writing, and mathematics. LWV-Janesville supports the concept of programs such as In-Home and adolescent Day Services, which keep juveniles in the community for treatment and also work with their families. LWV-Janesville would also support a plan to encourage judges, advisory committee members and professionals dealing with juveniles to make a complete tour of each local juvenile detention facility on a yearly basis. They should also consider visiting the state facilities serving Rock County juveniles sometime within the first year after taking office or a position involved with the juvenile detention system in Rock County. General Instructions Education: We suggest a certified teacher be assigned permanently to serve both facilities as instructor and coordinator of volunteer tutors. Volunteer tutors might be recruited from the Jail Chaplaincy or other service organizations. It might be best to use individualized program materials (maybe GED equivalent) for short stay detentions rather than waiting to coordinate with school districts regarding their lesson plans. Juvenile Facility Tours LWV-Janesville should prepare a survey inquiring about the frequency of facility tours by judges, advisory committee members, and professional involved with the juvenile detention system in Rock County.

Edit. June 2011 Based on changes implemented since the adoption of the 1989 position. We recognize that the Detention Center is one of several aspects of the total Juvenile Justice System. We believe the County should provide a temporary housing facility (Detention Center) for youth who need protective services or who are a threat to the safety of the community. The facility should meet minimum state requirements and provide treatment and educational services on a timely basis. We support efforts, including on-site tours, to keep officials making decisions about youth in the Juvenile Justice System in touch with current operations and conditions. Educational plans for youth at the Center should be coordinated with the school systems. Use of volunteer tutors is suggested. Community based treatment and services should be maximized.

RECYCLING POSITION

RECYCLING POSITION May 2012 Recycling is an important step in the conservation of natural resources, promoting sustainability, and economic development. The City is currently required by state statute to ban recyclable items from the sanitary landfill. If state law changes, the City should continue to ban these items. Curbside collection of recyclables is the most effective method of promoting recycling and should be continued. There should also be transparency on how recyclable materials are ultimately disposed of. This could be in the form of an annual report or press release. The City should ensure that out-of-city waste haulers follow the same recycling rules as the City of Janesville. The City should make arrangements for the recycling of appliances and electronics, or minimally, provide information regarding the methods for recycling these.

Financing Recycling should be financed and encouraged by a combination of tax revenue, user fees and tipping fees. It would be equitable to have a small surcharge per ton for solid waste generated by Janesville's commercial and industrial facilities. ) Property taxes pay for any shortfall in landfill expenses which are mot generated by the tipping fees charges for solid waste from outside of Janesville.) The surcharge should be large enough to encourage these faculties to recycle, but not so large as to be inequitable.

Economic Development Post consumer waste has been the focus of most recycling efforts to date. Finding outlets for post=production waste increases manufacturing efficiency and can be especially healthy for companies that locate their business together in industrial parks. We strongly urge the City of Janesville to work with industries to form these partnerships and locate in eco-industrial parks, which encourage the sharing of resources, including the use of one another's unwanted by-products.

Promoting Recycling Citizen education is a key element in an effective recycling program. We strongly urge the City of Janesville to promote recycling with greater vigor, including pamphlets, TV and radio spots, and occasional newspaper ads, to include information in water or tax bills, to use billboards, and to include handbooks with the new containers being provided for mechanized collection.

The City should require that public places, which have trash containers for public use, also include properly marked recycling bins nearby. Sports and entertainment venues, schools, and government facilities should all be required to have adequate and appropriately marked containers for recycling along with the trash receptacles. Retail stores (in addition to supermarkets) should be encouraged to make the location of depositories for plastic bags more visible and encourage the use of reusable bags for purchases.

The League of Women Voters of Janesville should assist collaboratively in the educational efforts to encourage recycling in our community. These efforts could include producing pamphlets and flyers, supplying speakers, encouraging recycling education in the Janesville schools, and encouraging other groups to educate their members and the public at large. Members could also make individual efforts to monitor the placement and use of recycling containers in the community.

MULTICULTURAL DIVERSITY AND THE JANESVILLE SCHOOL SYSTEM

Background The League of Women Voters of Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1993 created a position that supported an emphasis on multicultural educational efforts in the Janesville School District. We recognize and support the work of the Janesville School District to bring greater understanding and appreciation of multiculturalism throughout the entire school system.

Five years ago the District Equity Leadership Team (DELT) was formed. The purpose was to work to close the cultural/racial achievement gap in the District. The progress toward closing the racial/cultural achievement gap is reflected in the District Report Card as published in the Janesville Gazette and on the DPI website. New history textbooks have been introduced in the classrooms at all levels. The new books acknowledge the perspective of persons of color. In many chapters history is viewed through the eyes of the minority. The Library Media Specialist works hard to make available books written by authors from racially and culturally diverse backgrounds. There is now some racial/ethnic diversity in the Central Office Staff and in the individual building Administrative and teaching staff. The Platinum Plan was introduced to the weekly mandatory staff development two years ago. It has three components: White Privilege or Unconscious Bias; Poverty and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Currently there are six Youth Advocate Staff members who have been hired to coach and mentor students of color. Their goal is to help students of color succeed. March of 2008 a scholarship committee was created which is now administered by the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. They raise funds to pay up to $5,000 tuition for five years for minority students from Parker and Craig High Schools who will work toward a degree in Education. The students are required to apply to teach in the Janesville District. Currently a 2013 graduate is teaching at Edison School, a second student graduated in January, 2014 and four more students are on schedule to graduate in June, 2014. The League of Women Voters, Janesville supports and encourages the followings actions:

  • Because Latinos are conspicuously absent from leadership and teaching roles within the District, there will be a strong effort to recruit Latinos for these positions since 11% of the students are Latino.
  • The Platinum Plan needs to be expanded. We suggest it be offered a minimum of four to five times a year in every building.
  • The Janesville School Board will be aware of these changes and become vocal in support of them. Adopted April 1993 and May 2014

Diversity Position
We are committed to making Janesville a more inclusive community, defined as a diverse community with equal access to respect and opportunity, goods and services, civic participation and decision-making, and the ability of all to thrive. We believe this work begins with our own membership. We will demonstrate this commitment through the following actions:

  • By engaging and educating our members and our community on topics related to inclusion and the challenges encountered by our diverse residents in achieving the vision ascribed to by the LWV.

  • By conducting intentional voter registration and education outreach to diverse populations, with an initial emphasis on Hispanic/Latino citizens. Registration activities will address language barriers.

  • By soliciting diverse input and including questions related to diversity and inclusion in LWV sponsored candidate forums.

The LWV shall
  • Encourage members to actively participate in groups representing and responding to the interests of Janesville's diverse residents such as 4th Ward Neighborhood Groups, the Diversity Action Team/Courageous Conversations, the YWCA Racial Justice Program.

  • Secure an organizational membership in the Beloit/Rock County Chapter of the NAACP and encourage individual LWV members to join as well.

  • Incorporate diversity as an element of new-member orientation.

  • Challenge study committees to include input from diverse communities in study exploration and to integrate the needs of diverse citizens in study work and conclusions. Recommend additional study topics related to the issue of diversity (e.g., no-box policies, criminal justice reform including but not limited to alternatives to incarceration, driver's licenses for immigrants)

  • Encourage inclusiveness within all public institutions serving Janesville residents including diverse representation of decision-makers and staff at all levels of these organizations, ongoing education of staff, delivery of culturally relevant services including the interpretation of key materials, and regular input from diverse stakeholders.

  • By placing the following diversity statement on our website and publishing the same in our monthly newsletter.

The Janesville LWV commits to the diversity of Janesville. This means that there will be no barriers to participation in any activity of the Janesville LWV on the basis of race, national origin, creed, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, economic status, political activity or disability. (Note: pursuant to LWV policies, LWV Board Members are prohibited in active participation in any partisan election)

Next Steps

  • Recommend renewal of the Diversity Study Committee for at least one year. The Study Committee will accept the task of organizing educational activities and may pursue additional study as noted in the above recommendations.

  • Recommended focus of educational work includes but is not limited to white privilege and expansion of community understanding of minority status, experience, and barriers.

  • Host, or collaborate to host, specific educational opportunities for LWV and community members (e.g., Book Club in a bag or alternatives).

  • Incorporate information regarding Voter ID assistance and complaint resources on the Janesville LWV website and encourage the WI LWV to create a Voter ID assistance hotline to centralize submission of concerns related to Voter ID.

  • Advocate the creation of a Community Ombudsman position at the community level to advocate for the vision established by the LWV and to support both public and private organizations in efforts to position themselves to engage and serve Janesville's growing diverse population.

Adopted May 2017

ROCK COUNTY PARKS (LWV-Beloit AND LWV-Janesville)

ROCK COUNTY PARKS LWV BELOIT/JANESVILLE

The Beloit and Janesville Leagues of Women Voters support an updated five-year Rock County "Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan".

  • The plan should contain a clear vision and mission for parks, outdoor recreation, and open spaces in Rock County.
  • The plan should include site development plans with an inventory of parks, clearly saying how county park improvement priorities are set and how the priorities are monitored.
  • The plan should be "user-friendly", i.e. written at a general-public reading level.
  • The plan should provide mechanisms which intentionally seek public participation at every step of setting and monitoring park priorities.
  • The plan should meet national and state standards. for quantity and quality.
  • The plan should identify sources of funding for implementation.
  • The plan's provisions should be achievable.
  • The LWV endorses the use of outside consultants, when funds can be secured, to plan for park improvements in order to ease the county staff workload and to benefit from the expertise that consultants could provide. The Beloit and Janesville Leagues of Women Voters recommend that the "Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan" be fully implemented.

  • The LWV recommends use of the following options to implement the plan:
  • Provide funding through general tax revenues as well as governmental and private grants;
  • Utilize the Rock County Green Fund and other volunteer funding support;
  • Consider user fees while allowing accessibility to the public;
  • Acquire additional land for parks or open spaces through purchase, abandonment, donation, dedication or designation or land given `in lieu of';
  • Seek and maintain partnerships with special interest user groups.

The Beloit and Janesville Leagues of Women Voters recommend that the county administrator and supervisors address more effective ways to oversee the administration of Rock County's parks.

Note: The LWV finds the present county organizational structure "Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan" planning process less than ideal confusing when the roles of the Planning and
Development Committee and the Public Works Department/Parks Division are unclear.
  • The LWV recommends the continuation of the an additional staff person position, serving under the parks director, to coordinate volunteer efforts in planning, developing, maintaining, promoting, and funding our county parks, recreational facilities, and open spaces.

Adopted March, 2002 Revised May, 2014

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH POSITION (LWV-Beloit AND LWV-Janesville)

Behavioral Health Position (AKA Mental Health)
The Janesville and Beloit League of Women Voters firmly believes that effective treatment of behavioral health is important to overall health and social well being of Rock County residents.
We encourage the Board of Supervisors, in their role as policy makers, and the County Administrator to support evidence based policies and practices regarding mentally ill and/or addicted individuals and their families.
We encourage the Rock County Human Services Department to continue to follow proactive procedures and policies by:
Providing an affirmational, welcoming atmosphere/service that is culturally competent, trauma informed, and recovery oriented. Building respectful and compassionate relationships with individuals and their families Managing co-occurring disorders (mental illness, substance abuse, and other issues occurring simultaneously) together with coordinated treatment When involuntary treatment for mental illness and/or addiction is required, providing the least restrictive option to meet the needs of the individual in a location close to their home. Pursuing harm reduction options when an individual is not yet ready for treatment such as wet housing, halfway housing, and needle exchanges Separating behavioral health issues from criminal activities through diversion courts, deferred prosecution, realistic probation rules. After detox or crisis events, following up with the individual the next day to try to connect the individual with services. Identifying and advocating for the needs of mentally ill and addicted individuals.
We encourage the Rock County law enforcement and courts to provide alternatives besides incarceration for mentally ill and addicted individuals.
We encourage all County, municipal, and district governments and agencies to:
Provide training for employees to become "Behavior Health friendly", so employees may understand mental illness and AODA issues and become more competent working with these individuals. Provide first responders, correctional officers and youth workers with training, resources and skill building opportunities to de-escalate and manage crisis situations Adopt policies to allow agencies to cooperate and communicate with each other about mentally ill and addicted individuals and issues, as allowed by law. Provide mental health and addiction resources in schools
We ask the Board of Supervisors to provide sufficient funding so these evidence based practices can be carried out by County employees. We recognize that funding preventive measures saves money in the long run, and support funding in the following areas:
Staff to provide the range of treatments needed to treat this population, including
  • counselors and therapists
  • case workers,
  • child psychiatrists,
  • professionals who can prescribe and monitor medications,
  • social workers for assisting incarcerated individuals to successfully integrate into the community to reduce recidivism Sufficient staff for agencies to provide effective treatment, to communicate between agencies, and to communicate with families of those affected. Local resources for inpatient care, including single occupancy psych beds. Harm reduction options such as wet housing, halfway housing, and needle exchanges for individuals who are not yet ready for treatment Diversion courts to separate behavioral health issues from criminal activities

Adopted May 2017