What do Kenosha and Milwaukee have in common?
Both city councils are considering ordinances to restrict where sex offenders are allowed to live in the community.
In Kenosha the council's Public Safety and Welfare Committee unanimously recommended approval of a proposed ordinance that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park, trail, day care center, place of worship or other place where children gather.
The Milwaukee Common Council hashed a similar ordinance over and sent it back for more study.
Surprisingly, members of Kenosha's Public Safety and Welfare Committee admitted that there may be flaws in the proposed ordinance that need to be worked out. If that's so, then why did they approve it before addressing those issues? Isn't that the committee's job?
Milwaukee's aldermen -- not known these days for a lot of collective wisdom -- did the right thing by shelving the idea until a workable plan can be developed.
What's wrong with the proposals?
For starters, the proposed ordinances essentially declare almost all of the city off limits to registered sex offenders. Sounds good at first but, as a matter of law, it's of dubious constitutionality. As a matter of fact, it concentrates registered sex offenders into a select few zones exponentially increasing the danger in those neighborhoods. And that's just for starters.
Nobody likes having sex offenders in their neighborhood. If it were up to me and I could get away with it, judicious application of "chain saw therapy" would be an ideal sentence. But this thing called the Constitution gets in the way.
An ordinance that more narrowly restricts where sex offenders live and "hang out" would probably stand a better chance of surviving a constitutional challenge. Plus it would make more sense.
Of course, politicians grab headlines to make it look like they're doing something about a problem. Maybe that's why the Kenosha Public Safety and Welfare Committee voted out an ordinance they know has problems. It makes them look like they did something.
But then the mark of a great politician is the ability to conceal jealousy when accusing an opponent of deceiving the public.