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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Event of the Week: Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

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Celebrate World Fair Trade Day and support more than 30 socially conscious retailers by participating in the second annual Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl on Saturday, May 9.

The Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition-sponsored event kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at the Outpost in Bay View, where Mayor Tom Barrett and the Universal Love Band drummers will make an appearance. Special guests include Peruvian artisans Evangelina Pizarro and Ayde Riveros, who will talk about the importance of having a stable, well-paid job when many employers can get away with exploiting their workers. The two women will also speak at Fair Trade for All from 1 to 2 p.m. and Four Corners of the World from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., before returning to Outpost from 4 to 6 p.m.

The crawl is free of charge and citywide, with clusters in Bay View, the West Side, the East Side and Riverwest, and locations in Waukesha and the outer suburbs. The Bay View Outpost will also hold a mini Fair Trade fair between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., but each site will have something interesting to see or do—including the World’s Largest Coffee Break in the afternoon. Get a passport (they’re available on the Web site at www.milwfairtrade.org) and you’ll win a cool prize after visiting six locations and returning to the Bay View Outpost between 4 and 5 p.m.


Hero of the Week: Mark Belling to Support Gov. Doyle for Re-election

 

 Talk about a long shot: WISN-AM radio host and former conservative Mark Belling cast aside his right-wing ideology and announced his intentions to help Gov. Jim Doyle reach the winner’s circle in the race for Wisconsin governor in November 2010.

Capitalizing on one huge surprise to create another, Belling used last week’s shocking Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, to throw his weight behind Doyle. In a pre-race blog about the unheralded Mine That Bird, Belling sent a coy message about his future political intentions—here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth: “If this horse wins, I’ll never bet on another race and will vote for Jim Doyle for re-election.”

At 50-1 odds, we couldn’t blame people for thinking that Belling was taking another empty shot at the Democratic governor, once again blathering on with false bravado on a topic he knew nothing about. But Belling was part owner of a horse that finished second at the Kentucky Derby in 1997, so he obviously knew what he was saying. And, lo and behold, when Mine That Bird stormed to victory, all became clear: Belling loves him some Democrats.

Perhaps inspired by Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-Pa.) surprise switch from Republican to Democrat, or merely looking for a way to change political parties without appearing like a flip-flopper, Belling chose a dark horse to storm his way into the left side of the aisle.

We had always looked at Belling—previously known for attacking minority groups, hyping false accusations of voter fraud and denigrating women for breast-feeding—in much the same way that Mine That Bird’s competition saw him at the end of the Derby: as a horse’s ass. But, like Belling, we’re not afraid to change direction. For dropping his conservative ideology to join the spirit of bipartisanship, this horse’s ass is our Hero of the Week.


Jerks of the Week: West Bend Common Council

Bowing to pressure from some vocal right-wing residents, five members of the West Bend Common Council voted not to renew the appointments of four volunteer board members of the West Bend Community Memorial Library. Why? The library has refused to remove or restrict books in the young adult section that deal with teen sexuality, health, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual matters. While a healthy number of West Bend residents support the library’s position on free speech, the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries— led by Ginny and Jim Maziarka— has carried on a deranged crusade against the library and a handful of books, labeling them “pornography.” But the National Coalition Against Censorship has decried the dismissals, saying in a letter that the Common Council is “imposing its opinions on the rest of the community.” The letter states: “None of the challenged books is legally obscene. To be obscene, material must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. … If parents have concerns about their own children’s reading choices, it is their responsibility to direct and supervise them, not to expect the library to reflect their views about parenting.”

 

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