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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rise Up, Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Unity Campaign threw a party with a purpose

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Aide cross-section of Milwaukee gathered on Saturday night at the Rave for “Rise Up Milwaukee,” a party with a purpose. Organized by the Milwaukee Unity Campaign, a coalition of labor unions, community organizations and committed residents, the event included great music, good food, meet-and-greets with almost 20 candidates for office and some political organizing.

The speakers and performers got the crowd charged up. Pam Fendt, director of the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition, stressed the need for community benefits whenever public money is used for development projects. And she asked for support for a new sick-leave policy in the city being championed by the working women’s organization 9to5. “Parents are forced to choose between being good parents and good workers,” Fendt said. “We shouldn’t be forced to send our kids to school when they’re sick so we can go to work.”

Jennifer Epps, acting as emcee, said that the residents of the Near North Side and Near South Side need to join together to keep their tax dollars in the city. “Your money makes jobs in the suburbs when your neighbors are out of work,” Epps said. “You should be mad.”

Fun with Penis Puppets:
TheMiramar Theatre decided to bring back the nationally acclaimed Puppetry of the Penis show on its “Res-erection Tour.” The show was performed at the Miramar twice before, in 2004 and 2005, with much success. So the Miramar’s owner, Bill Stace, decided to once again advertise the April 15-20 performances in the Journal Sentinel. But this time he got blow-back from the right wing—radio blowhard Mark Belling and a few bloggers—so the JS pulled the ad and is refusing to run it.

The problem? One of the ads appeared on Good Friday and the term “res-erection” offended some Christians. But Stace said that the JS won’t run a revised ad without the term simply because it contains the word “penis”—even though it did in 2004 and 2005. What’s more, the paper reviewed the show in 2004, and called it “silly, not salacious.” Stace contends that although the ad suffered from “bad timing,” he didn’t intend to upset anyone. He wrote a letter of apology to any readers that may have been offended, but the JS refuses to publish it. He’s asking supporters to contact the JS and express their outrage over the paper’s squeamishness about penises.

The Money Reappears:
That elusive $91 million that’s supposed to fund Milwaukee’s mass transit projects has been restored, after a combination of bureaucratic red tape and a political stalemate put those millions in jeopardy. On Monday, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker announced that the money can be used for studying the region’s transit options. The problem, though, is that political leaders still don’t agree on what’s best for the area. Walker wants to establish express buses, while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants express buses and streetcars in the city. More studies, obviously, will be needed.

Foul Ads:
OK, we’re sick of those awful state Supreme Court campaign ads. But here’s the last word from the independent, bipartisan Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC): four anti-Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler ads were foul, and four anti- Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman ads stunk. Plus, the WJCIC immediately criticized one ad sponsored by Gableman because “the ad was so offensive and misleading.”

Gableman kept running the ad, despite calls to pull it from the airwaves. The WJCIC also criticized a fund-raising letter from former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow (who supported Gableman) because it contained a factual misstatement. The organization asked Gableman to correct or retract the statement “and he refused to do so.”

Although Butler signed the WJCIC’s clean campaign pledge, Gableman did not.

Feingold Fights Back:
After hearing a claim from the director of national intelligence that, during the debate on warrantless wiretapping, some senators— Democrats, of course—said they wanted to abolish the intelligence community and send President Bush to jail, Sen. Russ Feingold struck back. In a letter to Director Mike McConnell, Feingold demanded some proof. “I would therefore appreciate your providing a list of all statements made by senators during the debate that you believe support these assertions. If there are no such examples, you should issue an immediate correction and an apology.”

Hegerty Claims Gender Discrimination:
Former MPD Chief Nan Hegerty filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development contending that she’s the victim of gender discrimination because the new chief, Edward Flynn, earns more than she did when she left the force. Hegerty earned $132,544 when she left in November, and Flynn was given a $143,881 salary when he was hired.

Hegerty seems to neglect the facts that Flynn took a pay cut, has more years of experience, needed to relocate from out of state and was a police chief in other cities. The Milwaukee Common Council had to approve pay changes for other city officials to allow the incoming chief’s salary to be raised to that amount, since the MPD chief can’t earn more than the mayor.

Frank Moore II Murder Back in Court:
On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review an appellate court decision on the death of Frank Moore II, who was shot and killed in 2006 by Sidney K. Gray, who had been released from police custody just one day prior to the shooting. Moore’s lawyer had requested some emergency detention reports from the MPD to shed light on Gray’s mental health. But the MPD—then under the command of Hegerty—declined to provide those reports, saying that they are confidential mental health records. The circuit court ruled that the MPD had a right to withhold those documents, but the appellate court reversed that decision.

Think About the Kids:
The Greater Milwaukee Chapter of the United Nations Association-USA is sponsoring a forum called “Child Survival: Globally and Locally” on April 12, from 10 a.m.-noon at Redeemer Lutheran Church on 19th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Featured speakers are Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, who will talk about local child survival issues, and Susan McGovern, past president of this chapter, who will talk about the new UNICEF report on the state of the world’s children.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

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