Bruce Murphy
The Chatter

Will Allen Goes Viral

From ABC News to Colbert, everybody is celebrating Will Allen.

By - Jun 20th, 2012 12:01 pm
Will Allen

Will Allen

Has Will Allen become the most famous person in Milwaukee? The internationally known urban farmer and MacArthur “genius” grant winner has just come out with a new book, The Good Food Revolution, and it’s generating a ton of coverage.

The most informative was a piece on ABC News, where we learned that Allen and his 40 farmhands grow 160 different kinds of crops, enough to feed 10,000 people. (With 59 more such farms, you could feed the entire city.)

Jan Kelly of Meritage, one of the city’s top chefs, raved about the $400 a week in spinach, sprouts and beans she buys from Growing Power, the non-profit organization started by Allen to run his farm. (The story also mentioned his vertical farm, see images of proposed model below.)

Allen tells the Seattle Weekly that the number of African American farms has dropped from 100,000 to 18,000 in the last 50 years, a trend he’d like to help reverse.

A story in the LA Times calls Allen “an icon of the urban agriculture movement.” Not to be outdone, the Bay State Banner calls him “the gucci of greens.” And Real Change News reveals that Allen once ran a disco in Wisconsin. That’s a new one.

But the corker, of course, was Allen’s appearance on the Colbert Report. Less informative than ABC News, to be sure, but a heck of a lot funnier.

Colbert and Allen got into a droll discussion about raising goats in the city, and the danger they might eat all the garments off a neighbor’s clothes line. And when Allen predicted the urban food revolution will spread to cities like San Francisco and Vancouver, Colbert’s rejoinder was “they’re just going to be growing weed.”

Abele Beats Fortis

The trial of Chris Abele for allegedly stealing a film festival, which I wrote about last week, never quite happened. Before Abele even took the stand, the case was dismissed “with prejudice” by Judge Angela Bartell, meaning Fortis can’t collect a cent. Will he be liable to pay for court costs? “Of course not,” Fortis answers.

Scott Walker vs. Jeb Bush

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, once seen as a likely candidate for president, could be in danger of being declared an outmoded RINO (Republican in Name Only), compared to the new breed of conservatives like Scott Walker.

A column in the Washington Post compared the two, noting Bush’s willingness to accept a deal cutting $10 in spending for every $1 in increased taxes. Bush argued that Ronald Reagan would have embraced the concept.

But Walker staunchly opposes this, noting that Reagan cut taxes and this brought on economic prosperity. But as columnist Ruth Marcus notes, “After Reagan cut taxes, he raised them — starting the very next year, spooked by deficits that seem quaint compared to today’s monster numbers. Ultimately, the Reagan tax increases took back about half of the cuts that Walker praises.”

Reagan, in short, was willing to raise taxes far more than the 10 to 1 deal Walker and the new GOP rejects.

More on Chief Flynn

You’ll find lots of comments after my story, The War Against Chief Flynn. My favorite was this from George Mitchell: “Once (Journal Sentinel managing editor) George Stanley is invested in a story, the die is cast.” Stanley loves the idea of being a crusading editor, and the paper is certainly on a crusade against Flynn.

The funniest aspect of this story came well into the one-hour interview with Flynn by reporter Ben Poston and watchdog editor Greg Borowski, which the police department taped in its entirety. When Poston and Borowski realize this, they express concern, wanting to make certain the whole thing would be taped rather than just excerpts. Of course, their story on Flynn only contained a few selected quotes from him — excerpts if you will.

And I should note the one exception to the party line within the JS newspaper, TV and radio station empire: Charlie Sykes. He interviewed Flynn on air and gave the chief ample opportunity to blast the newspaper.

Bradley Foundation Impact

A new study released last week that looked at the impact of having gay parents, was co-funded by Milwaukee’s conservative Bradley Foundation.  It was done by Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at University of Texas at Austin, who told the New York Times he sought financing from Bradley and co-funder, the Witherspoon Institute, because government agencies “don’t want to touch this stuff.”

The study looked at young adults from broken homes and found those who had same sex parents had “modestly more psychological and social problems” than those from other families.  The study, however, didn’t look at children of stable homes (whether traditional or same-sex), and mostly shows broken homes aren’t good for any kids, said one expert.

As I noted last week, Christian Schneider now does regular opinion columns for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which adds the second senior fellow from the Bradley Foundation as a columnist for the paper. (The other is former JS reporter Mike Nichols). Schneider is actually doing his column twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday. Perhaps the idea is to balance “liberal” columnists Eugene Kane and Jim Stingl, but the latter does mostly human interest and humor columns (where he’s at his best), and Kane ranges widely, too. Neither would do the sort of doctrinaire column Schneider did Sunday, a rote recitation of Republican talking points on cutting entitlement spending.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Bradley Foundation provided funding for experts who helped Mayor Tom Barrett in the search for a police chief, and who recommended Flynn. Some (like Kane) argue this is why conservatives back Flynn. Perhaps, but the performance of Flynn has been nothing like the law-and-order approach you might therefore expect. He has combined human-scaled community policing with data-driven responses to high-crime neighborhoods, an approach that doesn’t break down into simple right vs. left divisions. Not everything does.

Categories: The Chatter

4 thoughts on “The Chatter: Will Allen Goes Viral”

  1. jimspice says:

    “…those who had same sex parents had ‘modestly more psychological and social problems’ than those from other families.”

    As a result of the constant taunting from straight people’s kids for having gay parents, I’d assume.

  2. labellevie says:

    Agreed, @jimspice. If the study didn’t account for bullying as a result of the kids’ family situation, it’s kind of a useless statistic.

  3. xoff says:

    What about Rick Esenberg, who’s also at the Bradley or Wis Policy Research Institute trough the last I knew, and is one of the “Purple Wisconsin” bloggers, which is a lot more red than blue?

    Besides running his right wing drivel, the paper often cites him as some sort of legal expert.

  4. JTY says:

    Abele won and Fortis’ cloud matchine fell appart. Fortis says he’s go more tricks up his nonprofit sleeve. Must mean the sex adds that run in the back of his paper are what The future Foundation will be next. Fortis–you lost; get over yourself. The door has hit you in the ass too many times–go back to madison and bug them.

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