Last week Isthmus delivered a bomb to the local news cycle when we reported that Brittney Zimmermann had phoned the 911 Call Center at about the time she was slain by an unknown assailant, a crime that had rocked the city a month earlier. That this fact was kept from the public has been reverberating through news reports ever since, with ancillary revelations about the effect on the police investigation and the efficacy of Dane County's 911 operations.
The story was brought to Isthmus by regular contributor Jason Shepard, a Ph.D. candidate at the UW Journalism School who, as a result of his revelation, was catapulted briefly into media notoriety. He even drew the attention of national commentators such as Greta Van Susteren, the assistant D.A.-turned-Fox News TV personality by dint of her involvement in the O.J. Simpson case. This week Shepard is back with another story that calls into question the competence of local officials, this time involving the unsolved murder of one Joel Marino, killed in roughly the same part of town in roughly the same manner as Zimmermann. Whether this story's impact equals that of the Zimmermann article remains to be seen, but it does highlight the value that a free and nosey press brings to the common good.
If only someone would have delivered such a blockbuster on the topic of the real estate bubble before it burst, sending economic shockwaves throughout the world. In fact, some folks did, but they were drowned out by the sound of financiers printing money in the form of dubious financial instruments based on faulty mortgages. We in the Madison area were not spared, as demonstrated in our real estate package this week. In "The Hurt Is On," contributor Rick Berg describes the tightening of the local housing market and its effect on home values. Mary Ellen Bell offers "Help Out of the Subprime Crisis," about agencies that are working with those trapped in onerous mortgages. The package also contains the opinions of Bill Perkins, executive director of the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, and former Madison alderman Andy Heidt.
All is not grim. There is always Gomeroke. The Tuesday night phenomenon at the High Noon Saloon attracted the attention of music critic from another planet John Mendel(s)sohn, who spends a night listening to civilians taste their brief moment of rock stardom in front of Madison's iconic rockers, The Gomers. It's a parade of Madison Idols for whom we reserved the cover.