TCD’s week in review
Dan Shafer runs down the winners and losers of the past week in Wisconsin. Plus, a few words on the tragic shooting in Brookfield.
On Nov. 7, this Era of Constant Campaigning in Wisconsin will come to an end. Since the 2010 campaign that resulted in the elections of Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ron Johnson, the state has been in constant, divisive political turmoil—unprecedented protests, the introduction of Act 10, the flight of the Wisconsin 14, the Kloppenburg/Prosser State Supreme Court election, the Kathy Nickolaus recount, state senate and assembly recalls, hundreds of thousands of recall signatures, the Falk-Barrett gubernatorial primary, the failed attempt to recall the governor, a contentious GOP primary for U.S. Senate won by Tommy Thompson, the vice presidential nomination of Paul Ryan, these final months of Tammy v. Tommy and Obama v. Romney, and the millions and millions and millions of dollars spent on the constant barrage of viciously negative campaign ads. This state needs this to end. The onslaught has been relentless. But it’s coming to an end. It has to.
When tragedy struck last Sunday in Brookfield, members of the Sikh Temple were there to support the victims. Gurmukh Singh and Pardeep Kaleka (son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, the temple president who was killed in the shooting) were two of the Salvation Army volunteers there to counsel victims. Later on Sunday, members of the temple gathered for a candlelight vigil to show support.
A (mostly) successful protest
The 85 anti-voting “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY!” signs around Milwaukee were removed by Clear Channel this week, after pressure came from groups like the African-American Roundtable and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and other groups around the country. A total of 145 of these billboards were up nationwide. However, what has still not been made clear by Clear Channel representatives (or anyone else, for that matter) is the identity of Clear Channel’s client who paid for these rather large and intimidating messages. Why is that a secret?
Unemployment dropped in all 72 of Wisconsin counties, according to a recent report from the state Department of Workforce Development. Of particular interest is the unemployment decline that occurred in all 32 of the state’s largest cities.
The son of Wisconsin State Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) was attacked by two people outside his Whitewater home last Friday by two people who were stealing Romney/Ryan signs from his front yard. Sean Kedzie was held down in a chokehold and struck repeatedly in the face and head. Kedzie said, “During the beating, they said stuff like ‘F Romney, Romney sucks, Go Obama.'” The Wisconsin Democratic Party called the attacks “completely unacceptable,” and Whitewater police are looking for the men responsible.
Tommy vs. Tammy: Race to the bottom
As you’re surely aware, the race for Herb Kohl’s seat in the U.S. Senate has been an ugly one. The campaign is among the most hotly contest senate races nationwide, and now claims the title of being the most expensive senate race in state history, with more than $40 million already spent. The campaign is reaching for new lows of negativity, as recent Thompson ads have drawn headlines for making Sept. 11 a campaign issue, and positive ads from either side have been almost non-existent.
With less than two weeks until election day, most polls have the race at a virtual dead heat, in yet another chapter in this politically divisive era in Wisconsin.
Former State Senator Randy Hopper
The former state senator from Fond du Lac was arrested Sunday night for disorderly conduct-domestic abuse, criminal trespassing to a dwelling, unlawful use of telephone charges, and was cited with drunken driving. The 46-year-old was placed on unpaid administrative leave from his job as executive director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. on Wednesday. His arrest Sunday was not the first time he had been accused of drunken driving. He was arrested for it in October of 2011, but was acquitted after Hopper claimed the charges were a political vendetta against him for supporting Gov. Scott Walker.
Hopper, a Republican, was elected to represent Wisconsin’s 18th state senate district, which covers Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Waupun, in Fall, 2008. He lost his seat in summer, 2011, after being defeated by current state senator Jessica King in a recall election. He is also the owner of Mountain Dog Media, which owns news-talk radio station KFIZ (1450 AM) and FM station 107.1, both based in Fond du Lac.
A federal housing complaint was filed against Bank of America on Tuesday by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and other groups from Chicago and Indianapolis. The complaint accuses Bank of America “treating homes it maintains and markets in white neighborhoods in a better manner than homes it owns, services or maintains in minority neighborhoods,” according to the Journal Sentinel.
A few words on Sunday’s tragedy
It’s far too trite to categorize what happened in Brookfield on Sunday within the general context of this column, but it would be remiss not to mention it when looking back at the news of the week. The tragedy that occurred at the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield was truly despicable.
It was only 77 days earlier that this community was shocked by the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. It was only last week that Punjab Singh, the last patient still hospitalized after being injured in the shooting, was released from Froedtert. Another mass shooting happening on another otherwise peaceful Sunday morning was incomprehensible, and having grown up in close proximity to Brookfield Square and the Azana Spa, I was stunned by the reports when they emerged. Though the nature of the shooting in Brookfield was in many ways different from the shooting in Oak Creek, both were violent, deadly attacks on innocent people. Human nature does not get much worse than that.
Information that has emerged in the wake of this shooting has not made this any easier to process. Radcliffe Houghton was issued a four-year restraining order and ordered to turn in any weapons to authorities on Thursday, Oct. 18. He purchased a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun on Saturday, Oct. 20. The Journal Sentinel Watchdog Report also details more than a decade of dangerous, abusive incidents perpetrated by the shooter. Brown Deer police had also been to Haughton’s home 20 times, and one of these incidents, in January, 2011, involved a police standoff where they saw him point what appeared to be a rifle at his wife. Surely, something could have been done to prevent what happened on Sunday. The way authorities respond to domestic violence clearly needs serious reevaluation.
Gun violence, too, demands more substantive discussion. The tragedy in Brookfield wasn’t the only alarming incident involving gun violence that happened in the area over the weekend—three gun-related homicides occurred in a 10-hour span in Milwaukee on Friday night.
There’s no clear answer as to what needs to be done to solve these problems, but it’s time to start asking some tougher questions.