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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

Former Marquette Coach Majerus Defies the Church

Angers St. Louis archbishop with political remarks

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Sheboygan native Rick Majerus, the former basketball coach at Marquette University who is currently coaching at St. Louis University, spoke in favor of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research at a Hillary Clinton rally in January.

But that’s only half of the story. Majerus was then denounced by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who has asked for the school, which is a Catholic university, to discipline Majerus. Burke also said he’d withhold communion from the coach unless he renounced his views on abortion and stem cell research.

According to a recent article posted on STLtoday.com, Majerus isn’t budging. He told a reporter, “I think religion should be inclusive. I would hope that all people would feel welcome inside a church, and that the church would serve to bring people together, even if they happen to disagree on certain things.”

Majerus said his Jesuit education at Marquette taught him how to make “value judgments,” and added, “My value judgment happens to differ from the archbishop’s.” This isn’t the only controversy that Archbishop Burke (who was the bishop in La Crosse) is embroiled in. Burke is currently attempting to defrock a St. Louis priest who participated in a ceremony at which two women were ordained as priests in the organization Roman Catholic Womenpriests. For years, Burke has been threatening Catholic politicians who do not follow his hard line. He obviously doesn’t understand the concept of a separation of church and state.

East Side Funds Race: The latest campaign finance reports are in, and the race to replace East Side Alderman Mike D’Amato is attracting a nice sum. As of Dec. 31, 2007, the biggest fund-raiser is candidate Patrick Flaherty, with $18,179 (which includes a $1,000 personal loan). Contributors include philanthropist Joseph Pabst, state Sen. Tim Carpenter and Julilly Kohler. Nik Kovac raised $12,520 (including a $1,072 personal loan), with sums raised from an October fund-raiser in New York and also from the Bondar family of Wolski’s Tavern. Sura Faraj raised $5,949 (including $825 from herself); contributors include MPS Board member Jennifer Morales, Rep. Gwen Moore and Ann Brummitt of Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers.

John Connelly raised the fourth-highest amount—$5,136, which includes $1,815 of his own money. MPS board member Danny Goldberg’s committee kicked in $312. D’Amato aide Sam McGovern-Rowen raised $3,636 ($100 of it his own); contributors include consultants Bill Christofferson and Thad Nation, former Mayor John Norquist, Fire and Police Commission member Leonard Sobczak and Mike D’Amato. Brewing Grounds for Change founder Matt Nelson raised $165; David Schroeder raised zero dollars. And Daniel Fouliard didn’t turn in the required forms as of Tuesday afternoon.

Lobbying for the Earth: The Forest County Potawatomi announced last week that they spent $730,000 in 2007 lobbying before state government, saying that it reflects the tribe’s “commitment to Wisconsin’s clean air, water and land” because a majority of that money went to advocating for the environment. The tribe is participating in the governor’s Task Force on Global Warming and commissioned a poll on Wisconsin residents’ views on climate change last summer.

The Senior Vote: Candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are said to be courting the youth vote, women’s vote, African-American vote and Hispanic vote. But like a good longtime incumbent, Sen. Herb Kohl knows the value of the senior vote. Last week, the Wisconsin senator held a hearing in Washington, D.C., about the barriers older voters face while voting. Some recommendations include helping residents of long-term care facilities vote on-site or with assistance; implementing a “vote-by-phone” system; and the drawbacks of mandating voter IDs, because it would disproportionately affect older voters. While Democrats seem to be more interested in ensuring seniors’ right to vote, Republicans should take heed. According to Kohl’s office, 45% of the Republican voters in the Nevada caucus were over 60, while 36% of Democratic voters in Nevada were seniors.

Public Funds for Private Education: A Public Policy Forum study confirmed what we’ve been saying all along: The voucher school program is merely a way to channel more money into private education at the expense of public schools. The organization looked at the effect of the 2006 bill that eased the limits on voucher school participation. It concluded that many new voucher students would have gone to a private school anyway.

So these kids aren’t benefiting from increased educational choices, but their parents (and the schools) are benefiting from having the taxpayers fund their education. The study also looked at the increased accountability measures that were mandated by the state. It found that schools can choose which agency accredits their program; and 42% of voucher students attended schools accredited by “atypical” accrediting agencies.

Crossing the Line: State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), one of the most reactionary members of the state Legislature, is advocating for a bill that would ban any city, village, town or county from prohibiting any public employee from asking individuals about their immigration status. It would also require those employees to notify the federal government about the presence of (as the bill itself puts it) “illegal aliens” in their midst.

Currently, local law enforcement and other public employees don’t ask about immigration status, because that’s the role of the federal government. What’s more, it would deter people who are not in the United States legally from seeking help from the police, fire department and health authorities. Immigration advocates and faith leaders have denounced Grothman’s bill as fiscally irresponsible, unconstitutional and “part of the ‘politics of hatred.’”

More Shenanigans on the Right: Americans for Prosperity, the reactionary right-wing group that tried to derail last year’s budget negotiations, is at it again. They’re sponsoring a “Defending the American Dream Summit” on Feb. 9 in Pewaukee. Confirmed speakers include state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (who runs as a Democrat when he’s on a ballot in Milwaukee), Michael Gableman, who’s running for state Supreme Court in a nonpartisan race, and many others.

The group hates taxes, universal health care, lobbyists and special interests (they should probably include themselves in that category) and, of course, the media. They feature photos of Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul on their Web site, but omit the current Republican presidential front-runner, John McCain.

Thanks, But No Thanks: The folks at Summerfest announced that CEO Don Smiley will be staying put, despite a little wooing from Florida State University, which wants to hire a new athletic director. Smiley had a talk with the Florida people last summer, then decided against it. His contract with Summerfest was renewed in December.

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