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Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

Issue of the Week: Lying Your Way to the Top

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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What’s worse: Knowingly approving a racially charged campaign ad that wrongly implies that your opponent did something horrendous, or determining that airing that lie-filled ad isn’t so awful?

That’s the problem created by a three-judge panel’s ruling last week stating that the scummy, Willie Horton-style campaign ad personally approved by state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman did not warrant discipline by the state Supreme Court. According to the panel, because every individual statement in the ad, when taken alone, was true—even though the implied meaning of the entire statement was false—the complaint filed by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission against Gableman should be dismissed. What’s more, the panel noted that Gableman didn’t break binding rules—just, you know, rules that are sort of nice to follow if you feel like it. Appellate Court Judge Ralph Adam Fine went even further, finding that regulating campaign speech at all, “in my view, violates the First Amendment.”

This ruling should be trashed and the state Supreme Court should ignore it and discipline Gableman. This misguided finding will only encourage future judicial candidates to draw on Gableman’s stated “right to lie” in campaign ads and further erode this state’s confidence in the integrity of our judicial system. Desperate candidates like Gableman shouldn’t be allowed to lie their way to the top while honest candidates get smeared.

Hero of the Week
Mattie Hollingsworth

A sudden rise in unemployment can be devastating at any time, but perhaps more so at the start of the holiday season. The Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with the help of two local groups, Ambassadors for Peace and Sharing with Families, is taking direct action to help area families who have been affected by the current economic downturn by collecting clothing, food, household items and toys and delivering them to those in need. They have been doing this for years, but it appears that this year may have the greatest need since the recession of 1982. Mattie Hollingsworth, of Sharing with Families, has been involved with this annual drive for the last 16 years. At age 78, Hollingsworth is still an active participant, personally collecting and delivering these needed relief items. The Shepherd Express thanks Mrs. Hollingsworth and her fellow volunteers involved in this drive for being true community heroes, and urges readers who wish to help with a donation of money, items or volunteer time to contact the NAACP at (414) 562-1000.

Jerk of the Week
Gov. Jim Doyle

This week’s honor goes to Gov. Jim Doyle for caving in to the special interest polluters and reversing his position on restoring the citizen Department of Natural Resources (DNR) board with the power to hire the DNR secretary (currently, the governor appoints the secretary). There are some legitimate arguments on both sides of this issue, but a strong bipartisan majority in the Legislature felt that the strongest arguments were for a citizen DNR board. Since Wisconsin’s natural resources are one of its greatest assets and a citizen DNR board provides a barrier of sorts from political interference, both Republicans and Democrats supported this policy change. Interestingly, so did Doyle as early as last year. Then the business community made it clear that it would rather deal with the governor, whose campaign business leaders contribute to, than an independently selected professional DNR secretary. The governor quickly changed his mind, went back on his promises and vetoed the effort to re-establish the citizen DNR board. Kerry Schumann, head of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, said, “It’s as simple as this: Governor Doyle made a promise to the people of this state and he broke it. The many conservationists we’ve heard from since his veto on Friday aren’t disappointed; they’re angry—angry that they were lied to.”