Morrison Restricting Political Speech

It appears the Morrison Town Board has an issue with opposition and free speech.

According to the latest census, there are fewer than 2,000 people living in Morrison, Wisconsin. There are at least 10 times that many cows.

A drive along any one of the country roads criss-crossing rural Brown County reveals one after the other of the area’s many family-owned dairy farms (mega farms are still the minority). In fact, Brown County, home to Morrison, is one of America’s largest dairy-producing regions. Such pleasant landscapes are common to most of the surrounding communities dotting this rolling prairie of bucolic midwestern hamlets that are home to the salt of the earth.
Hidden from sight, however, is the petty tyranny of the Morrison Town Board and its egregious agenda of quashing the freedom of speech. This ham-fisted oligarchy is threatening to stain the idyllic tapestry woven by generations of good, law-abiding citizens and muzzle their ability to have a say in the making of the laws that govern them.
So constitutionally offensive are the recent policy positions taken by the Town Board, there is a distinct possibility that legal challenges could bring down serious repercussions upon some members of that council.
The cause of this opposition? The board’s cozy relationship with a wind energy company when developing a wind farm ordinance.
Records of the Morrison Town Board show that in April and July of 2006 the subject of creating a new wind ordinance was discussed by the members of the board. By August 2006, a Chicago-based wind developer, Invenergy, officially requested a permit for erecting a meteorological tower to test wind strength and consistency.
Over the next two and a half years, the town’s Plan Commission, following the advice of Town Chairman Todd Christensen, worked closely with representatives of Invenergy to draft a new wind ordinance that would grease the skids for the construction of the Ledge Wind Energy Project.
As reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette on March 17, 2007, “Koomen [Morrison Zoning Administrator] said a representative of a wind energy firm has been attending the wind ordinance meetings and providing input.”
After years of back-room brokering and back scratching, the Town Board of Morrison finally went public with Invenergy’s scheme to build 100 400-foot wind turbines in Morrison and three adjacent townships — Glenmore, Wrightstown, and Holland. Additional details of the surreptitiously formed proposal (arranged without adequate public notice of the magnitude of the project) revealed plans to locate 54 turbines in the 6 x 6 mile area of Morrison; of those, 27 would be hosted by Morrison town officials or their family members who had earlier in 2009 and 2008 signed contracts with Invenergy guaranteeing their participation in the project.
It should be noted that the Morrison Town Board failed to consult with town residents at any point in the establishment of this partnership with Invenergy.  Once the plan became public there was opposition that voiced its’ opinion.
In response to this official disregard, concerned residents of Morrison formed an association aimed at increasing public awareness of the potential damage to health and property associated with construction of the wind farm. At town meetings attended by members of the group, discussions between themselves and the board members who had colluded with Invenergy grew increasingly contentious, as video recordings of the proceedings reveal.
In order to ramp up its visibility in the area, the non-profit, called the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE), initiated a very effective outdoor sign campaign; signs popped up everywhere decrying the wind project.
One would think the response of the board would be to change course and listen to the opposition.  That didn’t happen.
As awareness spread, opposition to the turbines grew and town officials responded by attempting to limit free speech by severely restricting the size of BCCRWE anti-wind turbine signs. In order to force opponents to remove the signs, Town Chairman Todd Christensen decided to classify signs regarding wind development as “political signs,” same as those covering elections, which the town already restricted as to location, size, and duration, thus relieving the Town Board of the onerous task of passing a new ordinance or rewriting the previous one.
Next, in May 2010, in order to compel obedience to his decrees, Christensen hired a “code enforcer” to cruise around town issuing citations of $10 to $200 a day per sign to those citizens defying the “political sign” restrictions.
In an effort to wipe out opposition, the town board is now considering taking action in the form of ordinance changes to restrict “free” speech.
as part of the town’s vendetta the Plan Commission has drawn up various unconstitutional proposals to completely eradicate yard signs altogether.
Initially the Plan Commission wanted to set back all political signs 25 feet off the right of way, which would put some signs on front porches and barely readable at 55 mph. They also attempted to limit the size and number of political signs — one per candidate — and wondered about declaring them nuisances and worthy of disorderly conduct charges for being “annoying, disturbing, or derogatory.”
So, the self-interested Town Board of Morrison, Wisconsin, has carpet bombed the wind farm opposition leaving as collateral damage a severely abridged right of free speech.
Here’s the wording of the proposed change:
2. Political message: A message intended for a political purpose or a message which pertains to an issue of public policy of possible concern to the electorate, but does not include a message intended solely for a commercial purpose.
The problem for the Morrison Town Board is that similar restrictions have been found by the U.S. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.
In 1994, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously overturned a restrictive yard sign ordinance passed in Ladue, Missouri. In the case of City of Ladue v. Gilleo, the court held that residential yard signs were “a venerable means of communication that is both unique and important.”
The high court’s decision in the Gilleo case has been followed repeatedly by lower courts considering the issue. In Curry v. Prince George’s County (1999), a federal district court in Maryland threw out a sign ordinance limiting the placement of political campaign signs in private residences. “There is no distinction to be made between the political campaign signs in the present case and the ‘cause’ sign in City of Ladue,” the court wrote. “When political campaign signs are posted on private residences, they merit the same special solicitude and protection established for cause signs in City of Ladue.”
Earlier, in the case of Arlington County Republican Committee v. Arlington County (1993), the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a county law imposing a two-sign limit on temporary signs for each residence. The court noted that “the two-sign limit infringes on this speech by preventing homeowners from expressing support for more than two candidates when there are numerous contested elections.”
What’s even more amazing than this assault on free speech by the Morrison Town Board, is that it continues despite the fact Invenergy has withdrawn from the project and cancelled all contracts.
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Tollefson named AP Player of the Year

Congratulations to West De Pere QB Jay Tollefson.

Jay Tollefson put up some impressive numbers while competing in three consecutive WIAA Division 3 state championship games.

In leading West De Pere to back-to-back state titles, the 6-foot, 180-pound quarterback was a combined 18 of 28 for 194 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 56 times for 326 yards and five touchdowns.

As a sophomore when the Phantoms lost to Reedsburg 34-27 in the Division 3 state title game, Tollefson caught a team-high six passes for 48 yards and a TD and rushed once for 18 yards.

West De Pere coach Bill Turnquist, though, said the most important statistic is the one that describes Tollefson the best.

“He’s a winner,” said Turnquist, who just completed his 37th season at West De Pere. “He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever had.”

Not only that he was the best player in the state of Wisconsin this year according to the AP.

For his efforts, a statewide panel of media members voted Tollefson the 2011 Associated Press Wisconsin state football Player of the Year.

Tollefson rushed for 1,358 yards and 25 touchdowns and completed 99 of 178 passes for 1,618 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed his two-year run as a starting quarterback with a 28-0 record.

As prep writer Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette points out, Tollefson winning the award shouldn’t shock anyone.

Tollefson, like Walker did in 2003 when he had 1,023 yards and 13 TDs as a tight end and 17 sacks as a defensive end, made it almost impossible not to pick him.

He won championships. Put up crazy numbers. Played amazingly well in state title games when all eyes were on him.

Consider that in 14 games this season,

Whether it was on the ground or through the air, he accounted for at least two touchdowns in every game.

He had four games in which he had three TDs, three games with four TDs, two games with five TDs and one game with six.

You could make a strong case Tollefson was at his finest in the biggest of games. He threw for 125 yards and two TDs and rushed for 191 yards and three scores in a 53-0 win over Notre Dame in the semifinals.

He then broke the D3 state title game record and tied the record in any division with five TDs in West De Pere’s 39-24 win over Wisconsin Lutheran, rushing for 176 yards and three scores and throwing for 61 yards and two TDs.

Numbers like that, combined with what he’s done over his prep career, should eventually lead to a D1 scholarship. Especially when you consider 7 of the last 8 winners of the award went on to play D1 ball.

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High winds no problem as Phantoms roll

Not even Mother Nature could hold back West De Pere’s scoring machine.

Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (

The unbeaten Phantoms made two big plays into the teeth of heavy winds early in the game and went on to blow away Little Chute 40-6 in a WIAA Division 3 first-round matchup Tuesday.
“Against the wind, I didn’t think I could do it,” West De Pere’s Jay Tollefson said.

The junior quarterback managed to cut through the southerly gusts of nearly 40 mph with a short pass over the middle to tight end Joe Hebert, who started the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown.

“It wasn’t a great pass. I’m not going to lie,” Tollefson said. “It was a wobbler, but it got it done, and he ran it in for a touchdown.” (Source: Green Bay Press Gazette)

Up next for the unbeaten Phantoms a trip to Bay Conference rival Seymour to take on the Thunder.

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Five straight …


Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (


Bay Conference titles for the West DePere Phantoms.  Congratulations!

As it has done so many times this season, West De Pere delivered a performance fit for a king Friday.

The unbeaten Phantoms turned Hortonville‘s homecoming game into their crowning achievement. They dominated all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — and put the exclamation point on an unprecedented fifth straight Bay Conference title with a 48-8 victory at Akin Field.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” West De Pere senior Randy Hill said. “They’re a competitive team, but we practiced hard all week and we earned it.”

Hill was on the receiving end of two clutch touchdown passes from junior Jay Tollefson and also kicked two field goals as the Phantoms (8-0 overall, 7-0 Bay) built a 27-0 halftime lead.

West De Pere’s suffocating defense intercepted three passes, including two by senior linebacker Zak Rottier, and shut out the Polar Bears until the final seconds of the game when both teams had emptied their benches.

The Phantoms forced five turnovers in all, as their coverage unit recovered two fumbles on kickoff returns. (Source: Green Bay Press Gazette)

A prime example of what it takes to consistently win championships.  Considering that West DePere has basically throttled all of its opponents this year, is it safe to assume they are playing with a chip on the shoulder after falling short in last year’s D-3 championship game?  For those keeping track the Phantoms have outscored their opponents 373 – 26.

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