In my last blog, I opined that Barbara Lawton owes her supporters and her political party an honest reason for her volte face." Absent that, "speculation is bound to continue" for her sudden decision last week to quit the race for governor.
Where is The Capital Times in all this? Don't they have any sources in the liberal community? Or do different standards apply?
Bill Christofferson, a former State Journal reporter who moved on to become a highly paid Democrat(ic) political operative out of Milwaukee, does not leave Babs Lawton off the hook:
Before we shed too many tears for Lawton and deplore how her privacy is being invaded, let's consider how her bizarre handling of the announcement precipitated the media inquiries.
When someone who was, by all accounts, running full-tilt for governor on Saturday pulls out of the race on Monday -- and does it in an email of fewer than 100 words, citing only "very personal reasons" -- it is not surprising that it would prompt some speculation and questions.
She says no one in her family is ill. Her marriage is intact. And, basically, that it's nobody's business why she decided what she decided.
Technically, it is not anyone's business, one could argue. But it is incredibly naive to think that everyone's just going to accept her statement at face value and move on.
Why did she decide to quit? ... Is she moving to Indiana?
What would have been wrong with doing what 99.9% of people in public life would do and holding a news conference to make the announcement, explain the reasons, however serious or silly they might seem, and be done with it?
Bill Zaferos says:
Citing personal reasons is one thing. But "very" personal reasons? What does that mean? [Blaska: it's like double secret probation.]
The abruptness of her departure -- supporters received a fundraising letter as late as this week -- made it all the more curious.
There's an old saying in public relations: Tell it first, tell it fast and tell it all. Lawton told us almost nothing. As a result of her refusal to elaborate, her vague answers only fueled the rumor mongers. Some of the rumors were vicious, salacious and untrue.
Still, what did Lawton expect? ... Simply calling something a personal decision doesn't cut it in politics.
Former radio newscaster Tim Morrissey says:
I'm not going to repeat the story here. If you've heard it, you'll know why. It is simply so astonishing and shocking, that to repeat it would be, I think, unethical and wrong. Suffice it to say it was sensational and lurid. And it appears there was not a scintilla of truth in it. He's been suspended for two weeks, and after that, the station will decide if he still has a job.
Morrissey speculates that "Jerry got 'spun' by some Republican operatives ..."
Then TV-27's Tony Galli reports that Lawton's car - and only her car - was trashed in the protected garage of her near East side condo. Probably not related but ... hmm, a fish wrapped in newsprint?
Reminds me how The Kathleen famously stiffed her supporters at her election night party when she lost the attorney general's race to a Republican, J.B. Van Hollen.
Babs Lawton owes her supporters the truth.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have two very credible candidates in Scott Walker and Mark Neumann and may have a third, Dick Leinenkugel, currently the state's Commerce secretary and a member of the Chippewa Falls beer family. So says blogger Jeff Sherman.
I repeat here what I have said before: Tom Barrett cannot win the Democrats' nomination without the teachers union and he will not have the teachers union on his side due to his attempt to take over Milwaukee's public schools. No way the teachers union is going to give up without a fight its sugar daddy school board.
But the Democrats may have Kevin Conroy.
She's like a daughter
Good luck to Emily Mills. May she succeed as Isthmus's resident liberal blogger where so many others have failed. The roadside is littered with the smoldering wrecks of blogs that have attempted to overcome the Blaska brand (guaranteed farm fresh).
Emily, if you need some fatherly advice on how to succeed in the blog business, well, leave a message with my secretary.
O.K., honeymoon's over, Emily.
You took on my friend T. Wall for, well, doing business.
In particular, you recycled a story by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times who got it from the hyper-partisans over at One Wisconsin Now. To wit: T. Wall is somehow cheating the Republic by making use of the state's farmland use value assessment forf a 2+ acre lot as farmland in Middleton, thereby reducing his property taxes by 37 percent.
"Wall's various maneuvers, though, smack of being extremely disingenuous. He seems to be doing his level best to duck out of his financial and environmental responsibilities to the cities from which he draws his clientele and income."
Firstly, I don't know if you took the property tax and renter's deduction on your personal income taxes but I would never accuse you of "ducking out of your financial and environmental responsibilities." And how does keeping land planted in pumpkins qualify as "ducking" one's "environmental responsibilities." Now, if the topsoil had been allowed to erode into the watershed ...
But here's the kicker: Will T. Wall someday develop that property off Greenway Boulevard? Let's hope so. Will he make a tidy profit? If he's any good, he will. Will he pay what used to be called a "penalty" and is now called a "conversion charge." Yes, because that is the law. That is how farmland use value works.
That law is working now. It is keeping that land in productive agriculture. Some have suggested tinkering with the law - perhaps a minimum acreage. Go ahead, if you want to exclude a good many of the vendors at farmers markets throughout the county.
Of course, Terence Wall is talking about running for the U.S. Senate against Russ Feingold. That's enough to get him in the crosshairs of Madison's Left. Just as assuredly, Scot Ross and his mysteriously funded One Wisconsin Now did not have to knock twice at the door of The Capital Times to get some negative publicity going against a Republican. (Then they have the chutzpah to criticize Fox News for bias!)
Before the farmland use value law, farmers were taxed on the speculative value of their land for development. That was ruinous for many farmers near urban areas and actually contributed to helter skelter development as farmers had to sell of land in order to pay their taxes.
In the same way, the law makes for better, more thought-out development instead of forcing the landowner, whether he be a fourth-generation farmer or the hated developer, to take the first mini-warehouse deal that comes along in order to pay the taxes.
Whoa, Nelly! Who put the Teachers Union in charge?
Whoa, Nelly! Is Ed Garvey ever in the pocket of the teachers union, or what! He's in there with the lint, the spare change and the snot rag.
Over at Fightin' Mad Bob's, the usually genial Ed is compiling his own enemies list of DINOs - Democrats in name only. Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee; Tony Evers, state superintendent of education (nominally a nonpartisan office but who's kidding whom?); Jim E. Doyle, governor of Wisconsin; and now the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All turncoats! All supporting educational reform.
Yes, instead of throwing more tax dollars at the schools, or "worrying about the impact of poverty, homelessness, poor nutrition" and, no doubt, bed wetting, the afore-mentioned Democrats are talking about doing something different. They're talking about accountability. That's called reform.
Specifically, they're talking about merit pay for meritorious teachers and mayoral selection of the school district's administrators, instead of allowing the teachers union to hijack school board elections where only 4 percent of the electorate votes.
A cartoon the State Journal ran a while back perfectly summarized the current situation: a teacher in a classroom gives every student the same grade - brainiac and dunce alike - except for the overgrown kid in one desk who's been in school forever. That's seniority, right? The caption asked: What if teachers graded the way teachers are paid?
Gov. Jim Doyle announced last week he'll push to repeal a Wisconsin law preventing schools from using tests to help evaluate teacher performance. [Wisconsin State Journal: October 25, 2009] You mean, we have a law that prevents schools from using test scores to grade teacher performance? Whoa, Nelly! Who knew?
Now they have the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (the Fox News clone, to hear Ed tell it) in its lead Sunday editorial calling for mayoral control, which would bring
centralized accountability and authority, including the ability to hire the best possible superintendent, knocking down any obstacle preventing this person from enacting the kind of broad and substantive changes necessary to better educate MPS children.
I like that phrase - "knocking down any obstacle preventing this person from ...." Presumably, that means getting tough with the feather-bedding teachers union.
Count at least two Milwaukee legislators among the converted. State Sen. Lena Taylor and Rep. Jason Fields, both Democrats, are jointly authoring legislation moving accountability for the educational outcomes of MPS to the Mayor and an appointed Superintendent. The legislation, in drafting, retains the elected MPS Board of Education with modified powers. They note:
Milwaukee Public Schools is the only school district in Wisconsin to be classified at level 4 DIFI district (District Identified For Improvement) under federal education law. The district and 51 of its schools, which are identified as Schools Identified For Improvment (SIFI), failed to meet education outcomes for 5 consecutive academic years. The startling numbers are found in the Department of Public Instruction's Annual Review of District Performance: 2008 09 for MPS
Rep. Jason Fields (D Milwaukee) stated. "When I look at these numbers, I see a system that has to change. 50 percent of African Americans high school juniors are not proficient in reading. The future we provide for these children scares me."
Edgewater Hotel recruits jazz musician
Ben Sidran is siding with the mayor on the new Edgewater project. This e-mail was sent to all alders via Mayor Dave.
From: Ben Sidran
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 9:11 AM
I just want to throw my opinion into the mix on the plan for the renovation of the Edgewater property which I strongly support. Although none of us have seen final designs, I am excited about the new community destination and access to the lakefront, the fact that it will add to the tax base and generate some serious revenue for the
city, and also that it will mean jobs, for musicians among others!
But mostly, I am excited about the prospect that like Monona Terrace, the Edgewater site will no doubt spur continued beautification and development of our downtown, particularly among some of the hotels which, like the Inn on the Park, desperately need to be motivated to step up and invest in our mutual future.
David De Felice, county board supervisor from Madison's southeast side, is thinking of challenging Tammy Baldwin in the Democratic primary? I always did think David was full of himself. Now he's taking on St. Tammany Hall.
Hey, kids! Catch the squire of Stately Blaska Manor on WHA radio, 970 A.M., on Joy Cardin's Week in Review show from 8 to 9 a.m. this Friday, November 6 - a day that will live ... in infamy.