Newsmakers, January 22, 2015

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers

Congressman Ron Kind; Sledding In Public Parks

Featured in this Show

  • Congressman Ron Kind

    Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind hopes a better economy will break the gridlock that Congress has faced during the past two presidential administrations.

    Private sector job growth in 2014 was the strongest the United States has seen in 15 years, and the La Crosse Democrat says the economic recovery could lead to more opportunities for common ground among Republicans and Democrats.

    “Politics gets ugly when the economy gets ugly,” he said. “When the United States had that Great Recession and everyone was living in fear of where the economy was taking us, that was reflected in the political system. We had to try and govern in that period of crisis. Now we are starting to see the strength of an economic recovery happening and jobs being created.”

    President Obama used his State of the Union address this week to call for a number of new initiatives including a free two years of community college, a federal government-led expansion of broadband services and an expansion of paid leave for all workers. Many of the ideas have been declared dead on arrival by Republicans in charge of the House and Senate.

    Kind challenged Republicans to show some leadership now that they control the legislative branch and work with the president and Democrats to accomplish items like modernizing the nation’s infrastructure to help the economy even more.

    “When you look at us (the United States) in comparison to the rest of the world, there is no comparison,” he said. “We’re doing laps around the rest of the world when it comes to economic growth. That doesn’t mean everyone has benefitted from it. We still have tepid wage growth. That is usually one of the last things to recover in a deep recession. I’m expecting stronger and healthier wage growth for working families this year.”

    Kind just started his 19th year in Congress. He spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio about a number of topics including terrorism, race relations and an investigation launched this month by the Veterans Administration about problems with overmedicating veterans and problems with the work climate at the Tomah VA.

  • Sledding In Parks

    The city of La Crosse is hosting a three hour sledding party for the public on January 30. That La Crosse is offering sledding as part of its 29th annual Winter Recfest isn’t unusual, but it comes in the middle of an environment when many Midwestern communities are ending sled hills in public parks because of the liability associated with breaking a bone or suffering a head injury.

    The cities of Dubuque and Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska have recently ended sliding in municipal parks. Juries have given multi-million dollar awards to people who received serious injuries while sledding in Boone and Sioux City, Iowa.

    City of La Crosse Parks and Recreation Coordinator Adam Young says the city hasn’t paid much attention to the sledding issue that other communities are dealing with by saying no to the winter pastime. The city doesn’t have any park land that’s devoted to sledding.

    “We have no areas designated for sledding in city parks,” Young said. “We’re not saying they can’t do that, (sledding) but there is no sledding designation within city of La Crosse Parks and Recreation.”

    Young says safety is a primary goal of any activity the department gets involved with. He compares sledding to the swimming pools the city staffs with lifeguards during the summer.

    “With a designated sledding hill, you would have to have staff and certain safety measures in place,” he said.

    The city of La Crosse has more than 20 parks. Sledding has been known to occur in Myrick and Red Cloud parks. There’s also a popular hill at Forest Hills Golf Course which has been the site of the city-sponsored Family FUN Night during Winter Recfest.

    “We do take certain measures to enforce safety such as having floodlights out there to make sure everything is lit up,” he said. “We have several of our staff that is on duty out there to ensure safety measures are in place. We have designated sledding lanes with staff (at the top of the hill) to make sure the lane is open (for the next person) to go down the hill.”

    Young says if someone is signed up for a Parks and Recreation event, they sign a waiver that ensures their health and safety, but if they are doing a sport on their own in a city park and they get hurt, it is at their own risk.

Episode Credits

  • John Gaddo Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Representative Ron Kind Guest
  • Adam Young Guest