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Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009

Hero of the Week: Growing Power's Will Allen

Plus Jerks and Blogs of the Week

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 He was unknown to most people before the Shepherd Express profiled him in a cover story on Sept. 22, 2005, but Milwaukee’s Will Allen is now enjoying the national spotlight for his revolutionary agricultural innovations. Allen, who received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2008, launched the urban farm Growing Power on Silver Spring Drive in 1993 as a means to produce healthy, locally grown food in a city setting. On Friday, Allen will speak (at the personal request of President Bill Clinton) at “The Future of Food” panel discussion at the University of Texas. Then he’ll address the Yale Sustainable Food Project at Yale University. Of the new importance being placed on sustainable agriculture, Allen says, “It’s pretty clear that food, pure and simple, is not being taken for granted anymore… We need to address hunger as a global threat.”

 Jerk of the Week:  Judge Rudolph Randa

 Aren’t federal judges supposed to be nonpartisan? U.S. District Court Chief Judge Rudolph Randa, who presided over the wrongful conviction of civil servant Georgia Thompson, had decided to “semi-retire” in 2007 and move to senior status—but only if George W. Bush could appoint his successor. Now that a Democrat is in the White House, though, Randa, a member of the ultraconservative Federalist Society, has decided to stay on the bench. Randa’s flip-flop is a disgrace. He is politicizing justice, just like failed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the rest of the Bush administration. Randa is an ideological dinosaur and should have the decency to resign, since he has proved that he cannot be an impartial, nonpartisan jurist.


 Blog of the Week:
Scot’s Thots, on One Wisconsin Now (www.onewisconsinnow.org)

 What do Randy Koschnick and a dirty mattress have in common?

 They're both regularly overturned.

 Koschnick [is overturned] at an alarming rate if you look at judges across Wisconsin. Koschnick, the Jefferson County Circuit Court judge whose ineffective leadership is causing one senior judge to retire rather than deal with him, distinguished himself as a below-average jurist, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

 Turns out that, since 2000, Koschnick has been overturned by higher courts at a rate that puts him in the bottom third of all circuit court judges in Wisconsin.

 The records show that of 235 circuit court judges, only 78 had a higher rate of being overturned than Koschnick, putting him in the bottom third of all judges ranked.

 And for 2008, Koschnick was even lower. His affirmation rate was in the bottom quarter.

 The stats are available in the Jan. 26, 2009, edition of the Wisconsin Law Journal.