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Friday, Sept. 26, 2008

Issue of the Week: The Non-Issue of MPS’s Breakup

Plus Winners and Jerks of the Week

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In an appalling attempt to create news, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in its usual role as the lapdog for the right-wing elements of the business community, distorted and blew up an innocuous vote by a Milwaukee Public Schools board committee to explore the question of the state’s role in public education. Wisconsin has been cutting back on its state aid to public schools, which is hurting all of the poorer school districts.

Education is an obligation of the state that has been delegated to the local school boards. MPS has a unique status because it is the state’s only public school system in a city of the first class. Because of that unique status, there are unanswered questions as to the role of the state in Milwaukee’s public education system. The committee voted 6-3 to ask, essentially, what would happen if MPS could be dissolved? The right-wing faction of the business community—which mostly lives in the suburbs—has been meeting and plotting ways to seize control of MPS since it has had only limited success at the ballot box. Right-wingers want an appointed school board that they can more easily control. So the Journal Sentinel took the vote to promote this concept of radical and anti-democratic change.

Instead, the responsible first step should be to demand that the Legislature re-examine the funding formula for local school districts and bring the formula into the 21st century. We must find ways to move as much of the school funding off of the property tax as possible or we will ensure that all poorer communities have weak school systems.


Blog of the Week:
Michael Horne at MilwaukeeWorld
(www.milwaukeeworld.com)
Van Hollen? Or Vanhollen? JB’s Voting Records in Disarray

If I were up to the sort of mischief our attorney general promotes, I’d head up to Polling Place #2, 333 S. Madison St. in Waunakee, Wis., on Election Day and challenge JOHN BYRON VANHOLLEN when he shows up to vote. VANHOLLEN, born Feb. 19, 1966, better known by the alias “J. B. Van Hollen,” is the attorney general of the state of Wisconsin. He’s been busy meddling with the state court system to insist that election commission officials go through a punctilious scrutiny of voters, which he feels is mandated by HAVA [Help America Vote Act]. I don’t think he’d pass his own test.

JOHN BYRON VANHOLLEN is the same guy as JOHN B VAN HOLLEN, who once lived at 816 Chalfont Drive, Sun Prairie, Wis., when he served as United States attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. But a search of “J. B. Van Hollen” (with or without the space) would not turn up his name in the state register of voters, even though he uses the initials and the space as his legal designation in court documents and when he ran for election, and in his official biography in the Wisconsin Blue Book. And, once you find out his first name is John, things don’t get much better, since when he was registered in Sun Prairie on Nov. 5, 2002, he went by JOHN B VAN HOLLEN, [no middle name, and a space between “Van” and “Hollen”] (again, search for yourself). Oh, by the way, it appears that Van Hollen registered at the polls, since he also voted on Nov. 5, 2002, on the spot, according to records.

Apparently Van Hollen likes the convenience of registering at the polls—I wonder what sort of ID he had to produce when he registered in Waunakee on Sept. 14, 2004— also an Election Day! That’s when he signed up as JOHN BYRON VANHOLLEN— adding a middle name, and merging his two last names into one. Interestingly, he bought his house at 1303 Lawton Court in Waunakee on March 15, 2004, but continued to vote from his Sun Prairie address as late as April 6, 2004. He didn’t sell that house until June 17, 2004, so I guess he had his choice.

Clearly, if a U.S. attorney and Wisconsin attorney general can’t see to it that his name is clearly and consistently entered into official documents, what right has he to insist on onerous requirements for those who lack his professional credentials and sophistication?

(To read more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.)

Jerks of the Week: Westboro Baptist Church

Perhaps better known for disrupting the funerals and harassing the grieving families of U.S. servicemen and women killed defending our country, troglodyte Fred Phelps is dispatching the brainaddled followers of his Westboro Baptist “Church” to Milwaukee, the “most evil city in the nation,” on Oct. 10. Phelps’ paltry band of picketers will first annoy Hamilton High School because “Hamilton has a Gay Straight Alliance Club, and includes sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.”

Follow their slime trail later in the day to the Soulstice Theatre (3195 S. Superior St.), where they will object to the theater’s production of The Laramie Project, which tells the true story of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming man beaten to death because he was gay. The Laramie Project “seeks to explore the depths to which humanity can sink.” One need look no further than Phelps and his intolerant band of bigots.


Hero of the Week: Growing Power’s Will Allen

Although vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is derisive of community organizers and activists, more enlightened individuals recognize and reward people like Milwaukee’s Will Allen, who was awarded a $500,000 fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation this week. The fellowships are awarded annually to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction…for the benefit of human society.” Allen’s nonprofit organization, Growing Power, strives to provide “healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.” In a 2005 Shepherd Express interview, Allen explained, “If you have a community where the kids, the adults, the seniors aren’t getting enough food, and healthy food, why would they care about doing anything in their community?”

Allen’s innovative growing techniques produce high-yield crops on small plots of urban land, and have been studied by domestic and international governments and academics. Individuals wishing to learn more or get involved are directed to www.growingpower.org.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“And rest assured, those lobbyists who are working day and night to elect my opponent aren’t doing it to put themselves out of business.” —Barack Obama


 

PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
Doorway to Another World, by Angel Wangrud

"[This] photo was taken in an abandoned train station near the casino.  A friend of mine wanted to show me this place because of all the interesting junk everywhere, and graffiti.  People live there, and you can see evidence of that.  In fact, this hole leads to a room where people sleep.  I used a Canon EOS Digital Rebel to take the photograph, and adjusted the contrast a bit."

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