The lawsuit brought this week by the parents of Brittany Zimmermann and her fiancé, Jordan Gonnering, puts the elephant squarely in the room where the race for county executive will be decided this spring.
It is one thing for challenger Nancy Mistele to criticize incumbent Kathleen Falk's mishandling of the 911 emergency call center. But Mistele may not need to strain her voice doing so. Nor can such criticism be wished away as partisan campaign rhetoric.
The lawsuit shouts j'accuse - almost from the young victim's grave - and in the voice of the other victims themselves, her family and loved ones.
On a purely political level, this will keep alive the shocking story of April 2, 2008, when a young woman's call for help was mishandled, to understate the situation in the extreme, and she was repeatedly stabbed to death. Certainly there will be motions and other developments in the case to keep this story alive. Perhaps further releases of tape recordings and transcripts.
The Wisconsin State Journal earlier this week reported on the filing of the lawsuit. Its story noted that the claimants allege that Falk and Dane County "negligently or intentionally" caused emotional distress by at first denying knowing about a 911 call from Brittany's cell phone. But the newspaper was remarkably spare in quoting from the lawsuit. (Why would that be?)
The lawsuit has much to say and is cutting in its language. Noting a consultant's four years prior had called for improvements in equipment, staffing and supervision, the lawsuit claims:
"Kathleen Falk, as the county executive of Dane County, deliberately saw to it that Dane County did not correct the deficiencies listed in the (consultant's) report and denied funding to the 911 call center to correct such deficiencies."
That is very strong language. But there is more:
"Subsequent to the receipt of such report, Dane County and Kathleen Falk … failed to provide proper supervision, proper training, proper cell phone GPS equipment, … proper policies between Dane County and the City of Madison Police Department concerning dispatch of police officers by the 911 call center."
These all go to stewardship of county government's primary responsibility - to safeguard its citizenry. (Manure digesters, anyone?) And finally, this …
"It was the negligence of the defendants, Dane County, Kathleen Falk, and (911 operator) Rita Gahagan, that led to the death of Brittany Zimmermann."
I'm still waiting, John Nichols, as to how "Kathleen has a good story to tell."
More sweatshops, please
A good long time ago, I participated in a seminar arraying myself, as the lone conservative, against the usual liberal suspects. It was sponsored by the Madison Urban Ministry. We were asked what program would help Madison's less fortunate. I was forthright: more minimum wage jobs.
This, of course, contradicted then as today the received wisdom on the Left that no job is a worth taking unless it is a "family-supporting job." (Because some jobs do not support families is why, paradoxically, we must have illegal immigration.) Thus, the perpetual pursuit of the Holy Grail to raise the minimum wage. The result, of course, is fewer jobs for the young George Baileys of delivering prescriptions, bagging groceries, delivering newspapers and otherwise making oneself useful. Instead, too many of our young people are hooked on video games or gangbanging.
In the same hymn book is the crusade to boycott all goods made abroad in "sweatshops." Sweatshops are defined as foreign manufacturers whose workers do not have union contracts comparable to those of the United Auto Workers. It is, of course, rank protectionism - as if America's future rested on banging out pots and pans instead of high technology.
That is why the message from Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times earlier this week is so incendiary.
While it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don't exploit enough. … a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty.
... Living standards soared - including those in my wife's ancestral village in southern China - because of sweatshop jobs.
The best way to help people in the poorest countries isn't to campaign against sweatshops but to promote manufacturing there. … But global campaigns against sweatshops make that less likely. [Where Sweatshops are a Dream]
I have written before that I do not believe Barack Obama holds too many core beliefs. That this is in contrast to George W. Bush is said to be a good thing. But it also means that Obama may not be the doctrinaire leftist that John Nichols and Ed Garvey might wish.
Abe Greenwald writes in Commentary on-line: "voters may not be in sync with Republican leaders. But if the current political climate is any indication, they could end up feeling mightily betrayed by Democratic ones."
The punitive tax hike on the "rich" that Obama spoke about throughout the campaign is on hold, while a program of new business tax cuts and personal tax credits has been offered in its place.
Between the President-elect's previously ignored stand against gay marriage, Proposition 8 support from a key Obama voting bloc, and his scheduling of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration, the liberal gay community isn't quite sure what hit it.
On a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, Greenwald says look no further than "Obama's choice to stick with George W. Bush's last Secretary of Defense Robert Gates." [The Coming Rift]
Now, why could not the mainstream news media have taken after the revolting Bill Ayers the way Katha Pollitt does, post-election, in The Nation. The uber liberal trashes Bill Ayers as an unrepentant - and history rewriting - narcissist.
It's hard to imagine anyone now applauding the Manson murders, as (Bernadine) Dohrn notoriously did in l969, or dedicating a manifesto to, among others, Sirhan Sirhan. But just because it's ancient history doesn't mean you get to rewrite it to make yourself look good, just another idealistic young person upset about the war and racism.
I wish Ayers would make a real apology for the harm he did to the antiwar movement and the Left. [Bill Ayers Whitewashes History, Again]