Michael Horne
The Roundup

Carpenter to Run For Congress

By - Jan 26th, 2004 08:00 am

Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-3rd) said Sunday that he will run for Kleczka’s seat in congress. His decision came after the announcement in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Jerry Kleczka (D-4th) would not seek reelection to the seat he has held since a special election in April, 1984.

The Journal Sentinel speculated that Carpenter might be among the candidates to replace Kleczka. Instead, milwaukeeworld.com actually spoke to the legislator.

“I checked with my family and my kitchen cabinet, and they said, ‘yes.’”

Carpenter, elected to his senate seat in 2002, would not face reelection until 2006, giving him a breathing room that other speculative challengers, including any representative to the assembly, and senators Gwen Moore or G. Spencer Coggs would not enjoy: they are all up for reelection this year and would have to forfeit their seats to run for congress.

Carpenter campaigns continuously. “I was out doing doors, and I will do some doors today, even though I am not up until 2006,” Carpenter said. “I am happy about my chances. I represented all but 7 wards of the south side. Jerry is a hard act to follow, but I am completely in the race.”

Carpenter will likely not be the only one in the race. The assembly is practically a breeding place for the office. In addition to Kleczka, Reps. Tammy Baldwin, F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., David Obey and Mark Green all served there – so it would not be unusual for a candidate or two to emerge. Although the political orthodoxy has it that the seat is securely democrat territory, so was the county executive’s seat until the ambitious republican Scott Walker left the assembly for that position. What if he does really well in the county executive race this spring? Might he not give the race a try? (Walker could not be reached by deadline.) One thing is certain: the republicans, lacking a primary race for president, are also mindful that they must have their candidates in all races, and that the candidates must be amply supported, if only to get republicans to the polls to vote for the guy who really counts – George W. Bush. This rule was neglected in 2000, and may have cost Bush the race here. Thus, the edict has gone forth: a challenger for every race!

The State of the State: Milwaukeeworld.com travels to the state capital to listen to the governor.

MADISON – According to the constitution, Governor James E. Doyle is the “commander in chief of the military and naval forces of the state.” Last Wednesday he turned his attention briefly away from his soldiers and sailors to attend to another constitutional duty, the one requiring that “he shall communicate to the legislature, at every session, the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to them for their consideration as he may deem expedient.” His communication is known as the “State of the State” address, and it followed by one day the president’s State of the Union address.

“I’m not here to unveil a host of expensive new programs,” Doyle said, warning that “we’ll have to guard against returning to the old habits of passing bills our state can’t afford.” No colonies on Mars for us!

The basketball devotée then announced a $10 million public private partnership to equip 100 school gymnasiums with fitness centers, along with a plan to run a state web site providing cheap Canadian prescription drugs, a plan to offer grants to establish kindergartens for four year olds, raises for public school teachers, and, on the other end of the pay scale, raises for those making just the minimum wage.

The democrat pronounced these expedient matters before both houses of the republican-controlled legislature in the Assembly chambers, addressing members and visitors under the bright lights of television.

Unfortunately, in Milwaukee the speech was broadcast live only on radio, hardly a sufficient medium to convey the vivid color of Doyle’s dynamic rhetoric.

Actually, Doyle’s speaking style does not even meet the minimum standards of Marconi’s medium – he probably could have just mailed the speech, but since it was broadcast live on television in the state capital, it seemed good enough reason for milwaukeeworld.com to make the journey to Madison, where we could enjoy it with the pros in real time.

Hanging With the Pros
By the “pros,” we do not mean the state’s 132 Senators and Representatives to the Assembly (the $45,569 jobs are full-time employment for only 52 of them). The “pros” are the state’s lobbyists, and we gathered with the fat cats to watch the address in the basement Teddy Roosevelt room of the austere Madison Club. There, a television set was installed in the dining room so lobbyists could eat and drink while the governor addressed the starving, thirsty legislators who were holed up in the chamber. Such indulgence has made our lobbyists noticeably large – as a whole, they do look every bit the fat cat part, just the way editorial cartoonists have depicted them for over a century. (If there is any place in the state that could use a fitness center, it would be the Madison Club.) A few lobbyists, grazing upon their ribeye steaks, took notes on the governor’s proposals, trying to figure which ones could be pitched to their clients to provide the lobbyists income and their clients benefits. Unlike the legislature, obliged to respond to the governor’s applause lines with applause, the lobbyists continued grazing, more or less silently.

Around the time the crème brûlé was served – a mortar-like custard with embedded blueberries and burnt (not caramelized) sugar topping – it was clear to the lobbyists that the speech was dragging on, impinging on the post-prandial cocktail hour. A sign that the end of the speech was near came when the governor started mixing metaphors. (At the beginning of the speech, he said that Wisconsin was back on track, by the end, it was “taking off.”) Finally, with the benediction, “On Wisconsin!” the governor finished his remarks, and it was Forward! to the Badger basketball game on the club TV. “Look, Doyle’s already at the game! one lobbyist joked. Actually, he was on his way to the official residence where invited guests enjoyed snacks and light refreshments in the company of the teetotaling chief executive.

Elegant as it is, the governor’s mansion has been no refuge for the thirsty since the days of the Thompson administration, and since legislators can’t afford the Madison Club, much of the party adjourned to the nearby Madison’s, a wedge-shaped tavern not far from the capitol, awaiting the arrival of the legislators.

Hanging with the ‘slators
Former Gov does a Header

Among the attendees were assembly majority leader Steven M. Foti, Sen. Alberta Darling (who probably could afford the Madison Club), Sen. Jeffrey T. Plale and others. The first bit of news was current gossip – a couple of legislators, on their way to the speech, noted a man walking erratically along Madison’s erratic and slippery peninsular streets. The poor fellow took a tumble, and when the legislators helped him to his feet they realized he was Tony Earl, who has given a few State of the State addresses in his own day, now long past.

The lobbyists and the legislators then performed their social niceties before getting down to business: What about the speech? Rep. Foti said, “well, the governor only announced about ten things that we don’t have any money for,” and that was that. Alberta Darling mentioned that whenever it rains she and her husband like nothing more than to step outside and pull buckthorn from their River Hills estate, conditions being best then. A close friend of former governor Thompson said that when Tommy moved into his new apartment in Washington upon becoming secretary of Health and Human Services he didn’t have any furniture, so Sue Ann shipped him their old stuff – from their place in Elroy. (Tommy’s now on his third condo.) We learned a few other things, best saved for a future novel, and by 10:30 p.m. the party was over. With the gleaming Capitol building at our back, we returned to Milwaukee, where the beer selection is wider and people know how to play bar dice, you bet.

Call it Journalism Ethics 101 – Second Semester: JS editorial smacks of self-righteousness

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an editorial Wednesday, January 21st that was in the finest tradition of journalistic self-righteousness. Entitled “Call it Journalism Ethics 101,” it expressed the paper’s shock – nay, outrage – in a report by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post that “found that more than 100 journalists and executives at major media companies have made political contributions in recent years. The companies include NBC, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and CBS.”

Credit Kurtz: at least he fingered his own paper along with the others. Not so the editorial writers at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel! Left unsaid in the editorial is that Journal Communications, the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also made political contributions. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let’s continue to savor the paper’s editorial outrage: “In our view, any organization that doesn’t bar its newsroom employees and some [emphasis added] key executives from donating money is making a mistake.”

Well, then, if I could borrow your truck, I would like to drive it through that loophole. I twice called Mary Alice Tierney, who handles communications for the corporation, to ask her who are the exceptions in her company. I haven’t heard back from her yet, possibly because I’m not certain the company really has a policy on who the elected few are.

I do have a few names for her (and you) based on a simple search of the records of the Federal Elections Commission. They include Carl Gardner of Milwaukee, the president of Journal Broadcast Group, who gave $500 to the National Association of Broadcasters Television and Radio Political Action Committee in June 2003. That may not be that big of a deal – a couple hundred bucks to an industry group. How about John Conte? I wonder if he is on Tierney’s list? He is an employee of Journal Broadcast Group, based in Indian Wells, California. In 2000 he gave $500 to Tom Campbell for Senate, $2,000 to the Elizabeth Dole Committee, Inc., and $1,000 to the Henry J. Hyde for Congress Committee. You remember Hyde – in 2000 he was just coming off the headlines after his impeachment of President Bill Clinton. How many pages did the Journal Sentinel devote to that story? Jennifer Nunn, a Journal Broadcast Group employee, apparently is another “key executive” with permission to donate money to candidates. She is based in Tucson, Arizona, and gave $500 to the Jon Kyl for U.S. Senate campaign in 1999.I hope this list aids Ms. Tierney in her compilation of names of key executives approved to donate money to the candidacies of politicians their media organization covers.

Wendy’s Bathroom, and Other Items

Do you want to buy J-Lo’s ring?
Sensenbrenner “Disgruntled”
The Difference Between a Billion and a Trillion

Dare we say that Wendy Selig-Prieb must be a joy to work for? Days before Miller Park opened Selig-Prieb decided the color of the tiles in her skybox suite bathroom were not exactly the shade she had specified. The contractor had three days to redo the luxury latrine. … Jennifer Lopez is asking $5 million for her diamond engagement ring, according to a Milwaukee resident who has been approached to find a buyer for it. … If the conceal-carry gun law gets overriden by the assembly it will mark the first time since 1981 that a governor has been overriden on a bill he had completely vetoed. The last override of a partially vetoed bill and of a partially vetoed budget bill was 1985. Over 1,500 budget items were successfully vetoed in the Thompson administration …RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES … Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. is “disgruntled,” according to Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They call this “news”? You tell me the last time the guy’s been gruntled. At issue: the Chinese are ripping off American car designs, stealing patents from poor, defenseless General Motors. … DANGER: REPORTER DOING MATH – Hats off to my brother b who caught a mistake in a Journal Sentinel editorial Thursday, January 22nd. The paper cited a study that noted federal revenues would be reduced by $2 billion over the next decade if the president’s tax cuts are made permanent. The number seemed a bit light for Jim, “by a factor of a thousand,” he said. Horne called the paper and a correction was printed the next day on the editorial page. The amount “should have been $2 trillion,” the paper admitted, which is more like it. In the correction, the paper felt obliged to offer a “dog ate my homework” excuse for the mistake: “The writer hit the wrong key on the keyboard.” This leaves Jim to ask, “You mean to tell me the Journal Sentinel has a special key to hit if you write ‘billion’ or ‘trillion?’ Is their keyboard that specialized? The words aren’t even the same length. Did the writer hit the ‘b’ key instead of the ‘tr’ key? This doesn’t make sense.”

Fundraiser Update: Dems one Big Happy Family. Another Recall?

David Riemer drew about 50 to a fundraiser at the Y-Not Y-Not Y-Not (“The Three”) Tuesday January 20th … Meanwhile, on Water Street, Jim Witkowiak held a small fundraiser on Water Street, and that’s why I missed the State of the Union Address. … Marc Marotta wrote to say he had no idea what we were talking about when we wrote of a “rift” in the democratic party between the governor and other democrats. Never mind that Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton sat on her hands during some of the governor’s more obvious applause lines during the State of the State address, and that Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is upset she wasn’t consulted in the drafting of the jobs bill that she will be expected to enforce. Marotta says everything’s fine. Another take came from Sen. Jeff Plale, who alluded to the situation this way: “Ronald Reagan always said the eleventh commandment was ‘thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.’ Well, the democrats have never adopted that commandment.” … The wackos who are trying to recall Plale based on his vote on a property tax freeze will have to wait until May to collect the signatures they need. A ruling by the state elections board noted the constitutional requirement that one year must elapse before a recall can be instituted against an officeholder. Since Plale was elected in a special election in May 2003, his opponents, who seem entirely based in the south side of his district, must wait until this May to begin their drive, and not January, as they had hoped. Curiously, Plale was weakest in the northern part of his district, the east side, during his election when he faced a challenge from Jim Carpenter of the Green Party. The east siders have shown no interest in recalling the senator, since the tax freeze was never a big deal there. Ex Sen. George Petak, who knows a thing or two about recalls, having lost one himself based on his Miller Park vote, noted another angle: if Plale does face a recall, perhaps an opportunistic east side “liberal” might run against the more conservative Plale in a primary. Let’s just see if the recallers get enough signatures on their petitions. Good luck on the east side.

Give Me A Break Department: Calatrava a “Poet of Movement” – NY Times

When the Santiago Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum opened in September 2001, museum officials were quite upset they had never received “the visit.” “The visit,” or the preceding “call,” would be from Herbert Muschamp, the architecture critic of the New York Times. Surely the eminent critic would race to Milwaukee just as soon as President Bush reopened the airways to see the great Doctor’s magnificent creation – his first in the United States. Muschcamp couldn’t be bothered, but last week he did take a trip downtown (Manhattan) to witness the unveiling of plans for a commuter rail station to replace one destroyed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Train Center. The architect: Santiago Calatrava, who Muschamp calls, “the great Spanish architect and engineer. … Mr Calatrava has the creative magnetism that the Spanish know as duende. … Duende descends on great poets, musicians, and dancers at peak moments of inspiration. It has alighted on Mr. Calatrava once again.” Muschamp goes on and on in this vein about Calatrava, calling the proposed train station “civic architecture of the highest order.” He also draws a parallel between the station and the ice hockey rink at a Connecticut university called “Yale.” That one was designed by Eero Saarinen. If Muschamp is so crazy about Calatrava/Saarinen comparisons, he might come to Milwaukee where the Milwaukee Art Museum’s buildings by the two architects sit side by side.

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