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Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009

Events of the Week: Fighting Bob Fest and Center Street Daze Festival

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

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Fighting Bob Fest Returns

Fighting Bob Fest, a gathering inspired by Wisconsin’s leading progressive of the 20th century, Robert La Follette (former Wisconsin governor and senator, as well as a presidential candidate in 1924), returns to Baraboo on Sept. 12. Headliners include Jim Hightower, Blackwater investigator Jeremy Scahill, insurance industry whistle-blower Wendell Potter, investigative journalist Greg Palast, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Wisconsin speakers are well represented, and include Bob Fest organizer Ed Garvey, Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s Mike McCabe, rural development expert Stan Gruszynski, and many more.

Bob Fest will also feature breakout sessions on the attempted mayoral takeover of MPS and an appreciation of Belle La Follette and progressive women. Entertainment will be provided by the Piper Road Spring Band, the Namakagon String Band, Peter Leidy and the Raging Grannies.

For more information, go to www.fightingbobfest.org.

Center Street Daze Festival

The vibrant Riverwest neighborhood hosts a variety of street festivals throughout the year, culminating with Center Street Daze on Saturday, Sept. 12. Bid a bittersweet farewell to summer from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Center Street, between Humboldt Avenue and Holton Street. Local restaurants, clubs and churches will offer food and drinks. Live music, a shopping bazaar, children’s art workshops and an outdoor pool tournament to raise money for the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic are among the scheduled activities. Don’t miss the human-powered Art Cart Race at noon.


Heroes of the Week

Volunteers Who Participated in the All-City People’s Parade & Pageant Along with the Labor Day Parade

The first All-City People’s Parade was added to the massive Labor Day Parade that culminated at the Summerfest grounds on Monday, Sept. 7. The All-City People’s Parade is a free-flowing artistic effort to enable all citizens in the area to channel their creative energies into expressing their views and solutions to the city’s ills. The organizers of the All-City People’s Parade held numerous community meetings to get input to develop the theme for the first year’s parade. The two main issues were retooling our economy to create well-paying jobs and confronting violence in the city. Organizations and ordinary citizens developed floats, puppets and various costumes to convey their messages in a fun and entertaining manner, and also to celebrate the great city we live in. With all of the negativity coming from talk radio and the Journal Sentinel, it was nice to see so many volunteers channel their energies into such a positive creative outlet. The Shepherd Express salutes you as our Heroes of the Week.


Jerks of the Week: The Anti-Education Crazies

A handful of local school districts opted not to show President Barack Obama’s television address to students on Tuesday because of the pressure they received from a band of right-wing, paranoid people. These people believe that the president of the United States is going to pollute the minds of their children by giving a pro-education pep talk to young people across the country at a time when the United States is fighting hard to keep our competitive position in the world economy. Obama’s talk encouraged kids to work hard, stay in school and take responsibility for their own education. That message should be applauded not only by parents and educators, but by every American who believes in the promise of our nation for those who work hard and play by the rules. But apparently a “stay in school” pep talk is too radical and dangerous for some suburban school districts, most notably the Elmbrook and West Bend districts, which caved to the pressures of this paranoid right-wing faction and shielded their students from an inspiring and pro-education talk by Obama in real time. Both President Obama and his wife, Michelle, overcame enormous childhood obstacles to achieve an Ivy League education. No one can better argue that working hard and taking responsibility for yourself can actually lead to the White House. It is unfortunate that these right-wing zealots deprived some students from hearing a positive, nonpartisan, pro-education statement from our democratically elected president. This presents a serious problem for rational, mainstream Republicans like late-Gov. Lee Dreyfus, who was saddened to see his party being taken over by extremists like this.

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