There is blood in the water and dorsal fins are circling.
There can no longer be any question that the number one issue in Madison and in Dane County is law enforcement. Thuy Pham-Remmele changed the public debate in her successful aldermanic campaign in the spring of 2007 when she called for public safety, not trolleys. Her first August 2007 neighborhood listening session drew 750 concerned citizens -- grass roots that Progressive Dane could only dream of. That spurred similar sessions citywide.
Against a backdrop of the degradation of our public spaces by chronic vagrancy, the murders of Joel Marino and Brittany Zimmermann -- in their homes! -- have taken the issue simultaneously to the ground zero of leftist downtown Madison and to the wider county government. People are getting a crash course in why Dane County government matters. They are also learning why the world's greatest park system and all the beautiful lakes and rain gardens are for naught if people don't feel safe.
Who dreamed that, caught up in the glare would be one Kathleen Falk. Jeff Mayers' WisPolitics stock report, published in the Sunday newspaper, has The Kathleen's political stock falling faster than a subprime mortgage derivative.
The question now is whether the controversy will be enough to scare up an opponent or two for her expected re-election campaign next year. Insiders also say her statewide future... is downright dark now. Think of the attack ad material from this case, they note.
Did someone say "attack ad"? You have come to the right place, my pretty. What time is it boys and girls? TIME TO GO NEGATIVE!
It's 3 a.m. The telephone rings. Another public safety crisis. A woman with a pageboy haircut picks up the phone. And hangs up. "Something about life and death," she yawns. "Not lakes and trees."
Yes, it is Kathleen's turn to face the voters in April 2009. She can point to doubling the amount of greenspace -- much of it marshland -- purchased in her 12 years in office for a pretty penny. But will anyone this side of Brett Hulsey really care? Not to diminish the political clout held by the enviros -- they remain the single strongest political force. More powerful than the unions or the Democrat(ic) party.
But her Hillary Clinton-like knifing of Peg Lautenschlager in the A.G.'s race still rankles the Ed Garvey/Hugo Chavez wing of the party. And what does she have to show for it? J.B. Van Hollen.
God bless America!
Blaska Blog's short list
And her neglect of the county jail in favor of releasing inmates on ankle bracelets is a ticking time bomb.
A strong and credible challenger should convince the voters that 12 years and three terms are enough. But who? Here are some names that I am hearing or would personally like to hear from (in rough order of preference):
Rick Raemisch: Former sheriff, so he has won county-wide office. Former federal prosecutor, now head of corrections in the Doyle administration. UPSIDE: Nominally a Republican but with great cross-over appeal. Can anyone beat Raemisch's credentials on law 'n' order? DOWNSIDE: Can't think of any.
Tom Still: UPSIDE: Former State Journal editorial page editor can craft a believable message. As president of the Wisconsin Technology Council sups with influential academicians and entrepreneurs in this cutting edge and quintessentially Dane County field. DOWNSIDE: Would need to leave a job he could probably keep for life and take a pay cut to boot.
Mark Bugher: Runs the UW Research Park, so has a tap root in the university. Well regarded former secretary of Revenue and of the Department of Administration. Did county government in his native Eau Claire. Chaired Mayor Dave's Economic Development Commission. UPSIDE: President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, could bring business to the political table. DOWNSIDE: Notice, I said "could." Running for public office is like parachuting out of an airplane -- it takes courage. Inexcusably asleep on county issues four years after getting my wake-up call.
Scott Klug: UPSIDE: Beat all comers and retains good will from his four terms in Congress. DOWNSIDE: The last of those terms ended nine years ago. Still too good-looking. More UPSIDE: Can craft a message; could reassemble the old team on a moments notice; could shake the money tree.
Mike Blaska: UPSIDE: No one, to this day, knows Dane County better. Should have been county executive. Won more precincts in 1997 but The Kathleen heavily outspent him and won 51-49 percent. More moderate than his addled brother. Was right on the issues. (See the item below.) DOWNSIDE: Mike gave at the office. Brother problem.
Dorothy Borchardt: Former north side alderman. Still well respected. UPSIDE: Fiery, won't back down. She'll break through the background noise. Will excite campaign volunteers. DOWNSIDE: Mayor is probably a better calling.
Tom Clauder: UPSIDE: Has built a strong record since 2003 as mayor of Fitchburg, the county's third-largest city. Cleaned up the troubled Ridgewood apartment complex. Former cop and county board member. DOWNSIDE: Makes George W. sound like Demosthenes.
Eileen Bruskewitz: UPSIDE: This county board veteran is smart, knows the issues, is on the side of God fighting for a North Beltline against The Kathleen's passive-aggressive stall tactics. DOWNSIDE: Needs to call the executive on that stalling. Sometimes misses the forest for the trees. Will need help crafting a tight message and strategizing. Her own caucus is deeply divided.
More names: Attorneys Mark Hazelbaker, Mike Lawton, and Bill White and Verona Mayor Jon Hochammer. And, of course, Donna Shalala. No list is complete without the name of Donna Shalala. Got any more names?
Backward reels the mind
Turns out Mike-boy was right and The Kathleen wrong on the issues, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal in April 1997:
They clashed on highway and courthouse construction. Falk supported a two-lane alternative plan for Highway 12 between Middleton and Sauk City; Blaska supported a four-lane expansion.
Blaska supported preservation of a corridor for a future North Beltline; Falk opposed it. Falk tried to brand Blaska as a supporter of a new courthouse.
The courthouse was, of course, built. Score: Mike 3, The Kathleen 0.
Ask mo bettah questions
County Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz is petitioning County Board Chairman Scott McDonell to call a special, one-topic meeting of the entire County Board "to continue our question and answer session begun at the Thursday, May 8 joint hearing of the Public Protection and Judiciary and Personnel & Finance committees."
Because of the severe limitations imposed by time and the restrictions placed on the participation of all supervisors, [Thursday's] committee meeting did not allow the inquiry and answers necessary to gain the public's confidence in the 911 system.
This time she wants County Executive Kathleen Falk as well as 9-1-1 Center Director Joe Norwick in attendance:
The County Executive's ill-timed departure the day before the joint hearing to attend a conference in New York was unfortunate.
She wants specifics on the progress in implementing the 2004 911 Strategic Plan Report. But if they want better answers county board members must ask better questions. They should demand:
- A year by year accounting of the number of emergency calls per dispatcher. So far, the most recent year in which such statistics have been provided is 2002 -- six years ago!
- Those numbers should be set against similar data from like-sized counties: Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, Brown, Rock. (I have already reported that Brown County has more dispatchers per population.)
- The immediate reappointment of Supervisor Bob Salov to the 911 oversight board. He is an expert in emergency communications.
- A real program audit not on how to get inmates out of jail faster (that was the audit released last summer) but on the number of hard cells (or beds) in Dane County per capita as compared to communities of similar size.
- And, just for kicks, ask The Kathleen what she learned at the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health summit held in New York while the rest of the county was talking about emergency communications. Two minutes should suffice. Interrupt her in mid-sentence. "Alright, that's enough."
Mahoney sticks to his guns
I like Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. I really do. As reported in the Cap Times on Friday:
Dane County will not become a sanctuary for undocumented aliens, Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Friday.
"It's not going to happen," Mahoney said in an interview recapping his meeting last week with a leader in the Union de Trabajadores Inmigrantes (Immigrant Workers Union or UTI) after a rally on the steps of the City-County Building.
Now, Sheriff Mahoney, it is time to strike while the iron is hot. You have a budget to prepare. There will never be a better time to demand more hard jail cell space to accommodate a growing county.
In the wake of neighborhood meetings around the city spurred by Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz acknowledged that he should hire more police -- 15 more. Madison Police Chief Noble Wray used the occasion to say, no, make that 30. He got the 30.
Dave, you may think you owe your election to Kathleen Falk. But you owe your re-election to Dave Mahoney.
Known by the company they keep
Next time a political candidate claims an endorsement from The Capital Times, consider the company being kept. John Nichols long ago exhausted any credibility he may have had and is now in negative territory.
Shilling for The Kathleen ("leading the way") on the emergency communications imbroglio was not shameful enough. Now Nichols is promoting the candidacy of Kevin Barrett, the 9/11 conspiracist, who says he is running against Ron Kind to represent western Wisconsin in Congress. Yes, it is the same Kevin Barrett who says the U.S. attacked itself on 9/11 and took down the Twin Towers in a controlled demolition.
John Nichols is nothing if not clever -- too clever by half. Note this clever turn of phrase; Barrett is a:
skeptic whose questioning of the official story of the 2001 attacks drew fire from politicians.
Note the juxtapositioning of "skeptic" with "official story." We all know that official stories are always a cover-up, don't we? And this questioning drew fire from -- whom? Why, from "politicians." Those crooks!
Perhaps a commenter named Steve is himself a politician. Who else would counter:
If you think this was a controlled demolition, you're nuts. I've been trying to figure out for a long time why people think this was faked. Hatred of Bush? Distrust of the government? General insanity? Whatever the reason, give it up guys. I'm as liberal as they come, but if you think the US Government did this, you live in a fantasy world, and you frighten me.
He offers this antidote, video titled "World Trade Center Not a Demolition."
Kevin Barrett is only one of the impressive rogues gallery of charlatans, kooks, poseurs, tinfoil hat wearers, and hate-mongers that The Capital Times cozies up to: George Galloway, the British food for oil scammer; Ward Churchill, the faux Native American academic cheat; racial arsonist Al Sharpton; anger management class drop-out Cynthia McKinney, and on and on.
The Wall Street Journal on Saturday makes a common sense plea: kick Myanmar out of the United Nations for refusing humanitarian aid to its typhoon-ravaged people. If we can't unload food and medicine in the former Burma, then it is time to arm the freedom fighters. Dictators cannot survive a well armed citizenry.
Who was that cargo kicker from Wisconsin? We need him again. Forget the Peace Corps. America needs gun runners. The people of Myanmar need guns to topple the cruel regime. The butter will follow.