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Issue of the Week: Politicizing the Department of Justice

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

Oct. 8, 2008
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In the spirit of former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is under investigation for politicizing the Department of Justice, J.B. Van Hollen may be using our state attorney general’s office for partisan political shenanigans. The Republican Party has spent the last several years unsuccessfully trying to find evidence of coordinated voter fraud in Wisconsin, and especially in Milwaukee. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for southeastern Wisconsin and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office have found no evidence of coordinated voter fraud. Now Van Hollen has a new trick. He filed a lawsuit to force the Government Accountability Board (GAB) to run ID checks on new voter registrations dating back to January 2006 rather than the Aug. 6 date that the GAB proposed. This will cause massive confusion at the polling areas and end up discouraging many people from voting.

The question is whether Van Hollen was coordinating with the Republican Party about this lawsuit. Van Hollen denies any contact with GOP officials about this suit, yet at the Republican National Convention Van Hollen discussed this issue while addressing the Wisconsin delegation and told the delegates that they would be hearing more about it from the state Department of Justice (DOJ). In addition to these statements at the convention, it has been revealed that the state DOJ and GOP attorneys conferred about this suit before it was filed. Has Van Hollen stooped to the level of Alberto Gonzales and politicized the Wisconsin Department of Justice?

Hero of the Week:Len Zubrensky

Len Zubrensky is truly a hero for being one of the leading progressives in Wisconsin for more than 50 years.

Zubrensky will discuss his political autobiography, Let the Hi-Jinks Begin: The Memoir of a Democratic Activist, at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Shorewood at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Don’t miss it. He’s a great storyteller and his life provides many great stories. He was legal counsel to Gov. John Reynolds, campaign manager for Bill Proxmire when he ran for governor in 1952, and a major player in the open-housing struggles in Milwaukee. Wisconsin needs more Len Zubrenskys.

Jerk of the Week: Rep. Jeff Stone

After failing to build a case for voter fraud in Milwaukee, Rep. Jeff Stone has developed a new tack to thwart the democratic process. The Greendale Republican, an apparent believer in “free-speech zones,” is devoting his energies to blocking street theater performances at urban polling places. The nonpartisan pieces by My Vote Performs, sanctioned by the Government Accountability Board, are intended to celebrate voting as an act of citizenship and encourage more people to vote. With the electorate moving steadily toward Obama, Stone’s actions clearly reveal him as a pawn in statewide Republican efforts to discourage voter participation.

Blog of the Week

Jeff Wagner, “Wagner on the Web”
The Shepherd seldom agrees with WTMJ’s Jeff Wagner, but in this case we completely concur.

“Frank’s Folly: Tearing Down the Hoan?”

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Frank Busalacchi’s trial balloon about tearing down the Hoan Bridge is an idea that—if it were any dumber—would bark! The fact that Busalacchi has just blown $175,000 in taxpayer money for a “study” designed to justify the plan doesn’t make it any better. It simply makes Busalacchi look even more irresponsible.

This new “study” produced by a consulting outfit called HNTB and commissioned by the DOT at a cost of $175,000 (!) claims that tearing down the Hoan Bridge would lead to $5.7 billion in development on land under the Hoan and the creation of over 8,000 jobs. Right—and I promise that I’ll love you in the morning.

By the way, HNTB executives are enormous campaign contributors to Jim Doyle. I’m certain though that any link between these contributions and the fact that Busalacchi chose HNTB to be the beneficiary of $175,000 in taxpayer largess was purely coincidental. By the way, did I remember to tell you that I promise to love you in the morning?

The basic idea is that if you tear down the Hoan Bridge and install streets, commercial and residential development will flock to the area under the bridge. This is the same area that is, of course, in the immediate proximity of Milwaukee’s sewage treatment plant. Forgive me if I’m somewhat skeptical about the number of people wanting to purchase $500,000 condos in the shadow of Jones Island.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK“I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built. So pray for that… I can do my job there in developing my natural resources. But all of that doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart is not good with God.” —Sarah Palin, addressing the Wasilla Assembly of God Church in 2008.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Milwaukee's Unseen Art, by Lynn A. Allen

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