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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Milwaukee International Film Festival Update

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

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There were many questions last fall regarding the fact that there was no Milwaukee International Film Festival. After five very successful festivals, the event came to a sudden halt. The Shepherd Express was the founder of the festival, and we have intentionally refrained from discussing this issue once it became clear that our only viable option to move forward was to file a lawsuit. On Friday, the Milwaukee International Film Festival filed suit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Chris Abele et al. In the spirit of full disclosure, the Shepherd Express and its publisher, Louis Fortis, are plaintiffs along with Milwaukee’s Future Foundation, the nonprofit entity that owns the Milwaukee International Film Festival. A copy of the complaint that was filed on Friday is on the Milwaukee International Film Festival’s Web site, www.milwaukeefilmfest.org.


Hero of the Week: Rep. James Sensenbrenner

The Hero of the Week is Rep. James Sensenbrenner—yes, you read that correctly. The Shepherd Express has certainly criticized Sensenbrenner’s policy ideas many, many times over the past years, but when he takes a strong stance on an important social-justice issue and stands up to his conservative Republican colleagues, we stand up and applaud him. Recently, Sensenbrenner joined four leading Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to file a friend of the court brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, an important section protecting the voting rights of minorities. Congressman Sensenbrenner was a leader in reauthorizing the critically important Voting Rights Act in 2006 when he was chair of the House Judiciary Committee and the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.


Jerk of the Week: Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Looks like happiness is a warm gun for state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. The overreaching Republican politician, who’s supposed to be above partisan politics, gave a shot in the arm to his beleaguered fellow conservatives by announcing that Wisconsin residents can openly carry guns without fear of being charged with disorderly conduct. As One Wisconsin Now helpfully pointed out, Van Hollen made this announcement on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Not only is Van Hollen insensitive, but he’s clueless about the dangers guns pose in distressed cities. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn—who knows more about the real dangers of urban gun violence than Van Hollen ever will—said his officers would continue to stop and question folks who carry guns out in the open. Van Hollen’s decree won’t make the cops’ jobs any easier, or make this city any safer.