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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

The weary bones of Potter's Field

County Grounds

Potter Road ends where the Research Park begins, a sprawling cluster of mostly forgettable buildings in which the work of progress is done. But if you thread through the unpeopled streets, under Highway 45, and into the Milwaukee County Grounds, you still might find yourself in a tiny fragment of Wauwatosa’s “Potter’s Field,” a burial ground for the poor and nameless.

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Wisconsin supreme court race: written by Grisham


If watching political ads makes you feel like you need a shower, we're at the same heath club. It's bad enough on the executive and legislative sides of our government triangle. But when distortions, exaggerations, misrepresentations, and plain old lies come into play for judicial campaigns, the icky-ness factor doubles.

Judgment Day in Wisconsin is's first installment of their new Court Watch series. But it's the second year in a row that state judicial campaigns have come under scrutiny by the the nonpartisan  Annenberg  Political Fact Check. If the Annette Ziegler-Linda Clifford campaign ads weren't shameful enough, now we have the Louis Butler-Mike Gableman campaign,  "misleading voters about corruption, rape and murder in a battle to oust a Wisconsin justice."
The assault on Butler, a Democrat, is sordid enough for the FactCheck analysts to compare it to John Grisham's newest suspense novel, The Appeal: "All we can say is, John Grisham's story line isn't exactly far-fetched. It's playing out for real in Wisconsin."
The story parallels: business interests want to get rid of an incumbent African-American judge and tip the court balance from liberal to conservative. They start running ads that whip up personal and economic fear using the usual: coddling criminals, being too tough on business (and driving it away). The emotion-grabbing incident in both involves claims of setting a sexual predator free.

"In neither case is the accusation true," says FactCheck. "In Grisham's story, the molester escaped from a local jail and died long before the court campaign. In Wisconsin, the predator remains in the same treatment facility where he was confined when his case went to the Supreme Court."
FactCheck concludes that there are indeed grounds for the outrage brewing in this case. But they are dubious that the misleading ads will stop. The Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce aren't likely to cut off the funds for pro-Gableman ads on television and radio.
It's time for a judgment against campaign ads run by independent special interest groups. Let the candidates' own campaigns take responsibility for the sleazy tricks.

Sex, drugs, and county elections in Wauwatosa

County Goverment

I thought I'd toss in a totally irrelevant teaser to remind you that you'll also get to vote for county executive and supervisor on April 1. As far as I know, the only scandal is the lack of voter interest here in Milwaukee County elections.

Just in case you didn't know, Lena Taylor is running against Scott Walker for county exec, and in Tosa, Daniel Wycklendt is opposing incumbent Lynn De Bruin in the 15th District.

On Tuesday, March 11, a group of advocacy and human service organizations are hosting a briefing session and dialogue with county supervisor candidates specifically about health and human services. That's right: the county does more than parks and buses. It also provides critical services for older people, children, people with disabilities or mental health concerns, and more. Please join us from 6:30 - 8:30 at Summit Place, 6737 W. Washington Place, West Allis, in the 1st floor conference room.

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"Call me Eli--erm, George Fox"

bad behavior, Eliot Spitzer

I’m sure many of you are watching the train wreck of the sanctimonious Governor Eliot Spitzer with the same degree of fascination and disgust I am. It's like watching Jerry Springer's show, only we get to say we're following the news.

It turns out that Client #9 for the inflated-price rent-a-mistresses at the Emperor’s Club also went by the name “George Fox.” Which offends Quakers everywhere. For us, it’s sort of like appropriating “Martin Luther” or “St. Francis of Assisi” as your sin alias.

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Getting my mayoral campaign rant on

Jerry Stepaniak, Jill Didier, Politics

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, had an embroidered pillow on her settee that said "If you haven't got anything good to say about a person, come sit next to me."

I was going to analyze the candidates' website vision statements. But there are no rewards in blogdom for doing the hard work, so do your own! Plus I'm feeling cross. So tonight is take no prisoners night.

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Bodies on the parkway

Environment, Walking the dog

Walking along the Underwood Parkway, Idgy and I came upon a section of yellow crime scene tape.

Of course, it wasn't surrounding a crime scene. It was just part of the jetsam tossed up by the receding snows. Not the best sign of spring, but a sure thing.

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Why be negative about negativity?

Politics, Spirituality

When it comes to political candidates, most of us are pretty clear about what we believe makes a good one. There's really not much variety in those beliefs. They fall into the pot labeled "conservative" or the one labeled "liberal," with a few variants and outliers. 

From my pot, your pot doesn't make any sense at all. You can say the same about me. So we argue back and forth the same old predictable arguments and stay firmly planted wherever we were in the first place.

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Six of ten on the record books

Aging, Snow

This is the second snowiest winter in Milwaukee's history, according to this morning's Journal Sentinel.

I'm not surprised, having lived through six of the top ten snowy winters. And if that doesn't make a person feel old, I don't know what does.

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In the 'hood: mortgages and auto repairs

CSMC, Mortgages, Wauwatosa

The past two weeks have been full of encounters that could have been  painful--but weren't. Trips to auto repair shops and trips to refinance a mortgage at a higher interest rate aren't on anybody's top ten list of life experiences. But both neighborhood trips were painless, even pleasant.

Kudos to Landry's Automotive Service Station at 115th and  Bluemound and Central States Mortgage on North Avenue across from Mayfair Mall.

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Why we vote the way we vote

Fire station, Politics, Wauwatosa

Everyone is pretty sure that we vote for candidates based on rational decision-making. But the research says we're not rational. Instead, we are rationalizers. We hunt and sift for good sounding reasons for our decisions after we've already made them.

That sounds about right to me. Researcher Richard Lau says that the real reasons for choosing as we do are:

  1. The candidate shares our biases.
  2. Our neighbors say nice things about them.  
Number 2 doesn't mean rational arguments from our neighbors. It means things like "Assemblyman Schliffenpfeffer is a doo doo head" or "Senator Prysbyczeski looks like my mean old kindergarten teacher and has a yucky voice."

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