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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Phony Non-Partisans Complaining About Open Advocacy

Two days before Tuesday’s election, the Janesville Gazette ran a front-page story redirecting the focus away from the local candidates, their positions and issues and instead chose to accuse their support groups of partisan politics. The premise of the article titled When Politics Comes Home could have been a break-through story exposing so-called taxpayer watchdogs, chambers of commerce, local newspapers and churches as GOP partisan front-houses, but that was not to be. The newspaper in that case would have had to do a massive internal philosophical investigation of itself.

The Gazette article primarily focused on labor support groups who have publicly endorsed a few candidates for local offices such as the Janesville city council. The newspaper was able to reroute the election discussion and question the candidates who by the luck of having democratic values and guiding principles earned endorsements and help from like-minded individuals. For this the candidates were placed in the newspaper's public square and forced to defend themselves as if accused of wrongdoing.

In doing so, the newspaper was able to beat up on the candidates strengths like a school yard bully and played up their supporters as having ulterior motives, all just two days before election. It was equivalent to their version of an October surprise in March.

This article was followed up by an editorial in Wednesday's paper as a support piece re-enforcing their own interests that open politics and pro-active citizen participation is something to be ashamed of in Janesville.

In addition, the newspaper was able to take advantage of the public outcry against the vicious negativity displayed in national and statewide elections and associate the positive intentions and endorsements of these local groups and individuals with that publicity.

Of course I find the above-board support, open endorsements and campaign help displayed by local citizens, labor and other individuals very refreshing, and a welcome reverse from the below-the-belt partisan politics newspapers wield along with the hidden partisans running the local chamber of commerce.

But more seriously, and this is at the heart of the matter, is the question: What truly genuine non-partisan voter cares about who is supporting whom anyways? Non-partisans do not vote for candidates based on party all. Non-partisans claim to look for qualities such as the candidate's education, community volunteerism, prior experience, church-going and other non-essential information for public office. Whether the candidate is Republican or Democrat is pointless, they just don't care.......or do they?

Those complaining about the help and positive support candidates receive (I’m not including negative ads and attacks) from openly partisan individuals and their friends are truly the real phonies.


Anonymous said...

The whole thing made me sick. They steamrolled Bishop. Deters quote about "basically stayed out" of local races was an absolute joke.

This quote "Local observers say partisanship is increasing in non-partisan local elections and is especially evident this year." is a direct contradiction of their own poll on their website. That poll asks "Did the Democrat and Republican parties influence this year's non- partisan local elections for schools, cities and counties?" As of April 3rd, 7:46pm, with 367 votes that answer was 'No' by a 56% to 43% margin. Now I'm not saying that poll is really credible but c'mon.

Do parties help in 'non-partisan' elections, sure they do. BOTH do. The fact that Deters 'basically' denied it says alot about her and her party. At least Rutter was honest.

Deters saying "They just want to have total control." I can't laugh hard enough about that! Now that the shoe is on the other foot they have to cry FOUL. It's funny but it seems the Republicans, while they are doing it, it's Ok, but when Democrats do it, they claim shenanigans.

The Gazette's crap should be illegal. They are a small news paper that plays with people's lives and livelihoods to suit their own needs. They sit there and blast anything labor/politic related and ironically those are the same people that keep them in business.

Lou Kaye said...

The Gazette is a small paper by national standards but they control the vertical and the horizontal in Rock County.

The only way local residents and groups can get a clean unedited version of their message out is by taking the bull by the horns and actively supporting their candidates with money, vocal support, web pages and door-to-door work.

Republicans have it easy here, the Gazette gets their message out and then writes stories like this one.

Anonymous said...

You people are the joke. You simply don't move to town one day and try to run things the next. Rashkin won with the endorsement of the Gazette and Labor. Just admit the truth that Kevin Bishop was a plant in Janesville. Tell your candidates they need some sort of local record. The person who raised the flag about Bishop was a complete non partisan.

Lou Kaye said...

Putting the words Gazette and Labor that close together should be a crime.

What is the minimum time residency requirements to run for Janesville City Council? 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? Yet, the council has no problem looking for a total stranger, not be a team player on the OUR council, but to run the entire city as manager.

Rashkin received no less or more support from the accused support groups yet in the follow-up article on the so-called non-partisan letter writer, the Gazette tip-toed around Rashkin because they happened to endorse him. THEY not only targeted Bishop, but also took complete advantage of the concerned letter writer's credibility and used his message to perform their dirty work.

The truth is Bishop was nobody's plant except for the one growing in YOUR imagination.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment about an outside City Manager. Strong consideration should be given to any local candidates.

My view is that the letter writter probably needled the Gazette into going farther than just reporting the court records of some candidates.

The irony is that Yuri Rashkin played the Democratic Party and Labor like a violin. He is extremely skilled at knowing what buttons to push. Rashkin is really not one of us but got labor support and votes. It could be said that it was Yuri Rashkin who really defeated Kevin Bishop. He joined the civic groups and gathered some credentials before running. Kevin Bishop got his letter to the Gazette printed twice. It was a defiant letter which only served to put his credability problem on display for all to see.

We GM workers have minds of our own and have no obligation to march to Mike Sheridan's orders.

I regret not publishing my name. It has been a few years since I spoke out and I will not expose my family to UAW harrassment again.

Lou Kaye said...

Well taken.

Bishop and O'Brien came out of nowhere to win strongly in the primary. This made the Gazette nervous.

But Bishop did nothing wrong or different to be accused of anything, and I don't blame him for pushing back a little at his accusers.

I'm holding my opinion on Rashkin until he performs on the city council, but you might want to consider he may have played the Gazette like a violin as well. I'm far more concerned about Voskuil and McDonald.

The newspaper on the other hand has the power to shape elections by ill-informing their readers as well. They and a few others have controlled this privilege for decades in Rock County. The power of the press has the ability to reroute the discussion at any given time.

I like what I saw in the civic openness but the most important thing is to NOT let the newspaper discourage citizen's excitement or enthusiasm for any candidate. The newspaper should be taken to task for their underhanded ways.

Anonymous said...

Once again I agree with you - in this case about Rashkin playing the Gazette as well - I should have been clearer on that in my previous comment.

Voskull was on the planning commission during the Walmart thing. The end result of that as far as traffic and noise goes was pretty good. I was always troubled by another Democrat (O'Leary) and his work for Walmart. That is the kind of stuff that caused me to lose faith in the Democratic party.

In the early 60's a Democrat Governaor (Reynolds) fought tooth and nail against a Republican Sales Tax. Now it is Democrats who constantly push the sales tax. Studies show that even with the food exemption sales taxes are the most regressive.

Perhaps I still live in the past when I thought the party stood for working people rather than power elite like the Trial Lawyers. Today it seems that Democrats and the Union are to happy to sell the next generation down the river. A perfect example is the two tier wage structure. I remember the recession in 57 - at Fairbanks everyone shared the sacrafice by dropping to a 3 day week. Now the younger workers are simply put out the door. Why would they want to join a union? Why would workers in a transplant auto plant unionize?

Regardless - thank you for posting my comments. People can disagree and still be civilized. You are performing a public service with your blog.

p.s. I don't think the Gazette is really that bad - It is not the same paper that broke the union back when.

Anonymous said...

I am truly tired of the Gazette's interference in local politics while claiming to be an objective source of information to the public. A newspaper's endorsement of a candidate flies in the face of any claim to objectivity. If they are objective, why is the backing of a labor group wrong? Why would support of a group like Forward Janesville be acceptable? Does a person's political party affiliation necessarily make their desire to serve within their community suspect? I think Kevin Bishop's experience as a leader of his political party is a good thing, not because he has a particular partisan viewpoint, but because he has shown leadership, dedication and communication and organizational skills. The Gazette seems to feel that these are good qualities in a Republican such as Adam Peer (former Rock County Republican Party leader and "non-partisan" county board member) but not in a Democrat. Are we to believe that Adam's partisan politics never came into play during his campaign and that they had no influence on his decisions as a county board member? The Gazette loved him. But Bishop's political affiliations and support are just unacceptable. Has a member of the Gazette editorial staff ever run for public office? I wonder what the Gazette's coverage of that campaign would be like.

Anonymous said...

You make some good points. A quality newspaper should seperate news from opinion. The Gazette is not perfect but to be honest they are better than most. Look at the Capital Times in Madison for an example of a complete mix of news and opinion. The best example I know of that keeps it seperate is the Wall Street Journal.

On the other hand political and labor papers don't have that responsibility since they are by definition biased.

I have never heard of Forward Janesville formally endorsing a candidate. They have agreed with Labor on the endorsement of issue votes like school referendums.

Unfortunately, the truth is sometimes absent from all communications and it is left to specualtion. Kevin Bishop's situation is a case in point - kind of like Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon. We just don't know what is said in private conversation. You can be sure Ford and Nixon talked around the pardon without using the words. My speculation, and it is only specualtion, is that Mike Sheridan is looking ahead to running for the State Senate when Judy Robson retires. He is obviously very close to Kevin Bishop - based on his endorsement call and Kevin's past position as County Democratic Chairman. I think Kevin moved to Janesville at Sheridan's suggestion and planned to use the City Council as a stepping stone to replace Sheridan when Mike tries to move up. That is a reasonable supposition. There is nothing wrong with his trying but there is also nothing wrong with the Gazette questioning his committment to Janesville (which they did not publish until after the election). The Gazette actually performed their responsibility quite well.

It is interesting that Adam Peer, a Republican, was the county supervisor who got Rock County signed up for the drug card. I have used that card and it has saved us money. Where were the Democrats? They were busy putting Obama stickers on their foreign cars.

Thanks for reading

Lou Kaye said...

Forward Janesville may not have endorsed candidates but they are very politically active in Rock County. Probably more so than the parties themselves. Their mission, position statements and legislative goals are aligned with the GOP. It's just not a coincidence.

All the talk about Bishop replacing Sheridan or Sheridan replacing Robson is pure speculation and irrelevant to his run for council. How do we know Voskuil wasn't a plant? How do we know she isn't using the council as a springboard for state assembly? We can go on and on about this with all the others.

I agree, their is nothing wrong with the Gazette asking questions...unless the questions themselves project a bias. It was up to the city to reject Bishop's residency when he submitted his papers.

What intrigues me the most between the results of this election and the excitement generated during Clinton/Obama primary was the turnout for presidential candidates.

The democratic votes are there in huge, huge numbers for the right candidate.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I wasn't clear in my statement regarding Adam Peer. It was not my intent to attack his record. Only to draw a parallel between his chair of the local Republican party while serving in a non-partisan position on the county board and Bishop's past history of chair of the Democratic party and recent bid for a non-partisan position. It is the same set of circumstances. In fact one might question whether Adam used the county board as a stepping stone to further his political career. As you said, one may speculate about what another person's agenda may be. Even if it was true that Bishop had plans beyond the city council, what difference would it make as long as he served his full term with the city? We recently had several incumbents leave their positions with the city and the county, but no one is questoning their dedication or future plans. I believe such questions as the Gazette proposed in their article two days prior to the election were intended to undermine the voters' confidence in Bishop because someone doesn't like his politics.

And by the way, the Gazette quoted Dan Cunningham, vice president of government relations at Forward Janesville as saying "It is a model Forward Janesville might follow in finding business-friendly candidates" with regard to labor's support of candidates. So whether or not Forward Janesville is currently sponsoring their own candidates, it is clear they have a stake in local elections and are interested in promoting their interests. The Gazette knows this. Everyone knows this. Why else would a business oriented group need a vice-president of government relations?

And thanks for the Democrat bashing. You might consider that while Adam was single handedly brining prescription medication cost relief to the masses, the current presidential campaign was barely getting started.

Lou Kaye said...

Anonymous 2:35, I completely agree with your take on the recent series of events regarding the Bishop/Gazette episode.

Everything I wrote here is meant to be in defense of Bishop...he did nothing wrong. My comment about city hall rejecting Bishop's candidacy was meant to convey that once Bishop's application met all the requirements by city hall, anyone questioning his eligibility or intentions to run for council were smear tactics. But if something I wrote here is construed as democat bashing, please point it out. I'll make an effort to explain more clearly. Of course I can't speak for the others.

What the Gazette does with GOP candidates, Forward Janesville and other supposedly non-partisan institutions borders almost on farce. The "business friendly" comment from Cunningham was a double-edged statement assuming and projecting the same bias the Gazette delivers nearly every single day. Their rigid defense of the right and constant bashing of the left is so obvious, yet people continue to support them.

I believe this is the biggest issue in Janesville - the social and political engineering projected by the town's newspaper. Everything else trickles down from there.

Anonymous said...

This is my last comment on this subject as I am about out of things to say. I wanted to contribute some thoughts that might differ from regular contributors. Again, I thank you for allowing the posting.

I never said Kevin Bishop did anything wrong. I do have a problem with what I view as his attempt to gain office by who he knows rather than by proven dedication to Janesville. Influence peddling is not a progressive notion whether those doing it represent my views or don't. It does say that the Democratic party has arrive. They now use the same tactics as the Republicans I opposed for so many years.

Democrats use working people, minorities etc to advance an agenda which is simply to gain power. What does Mike Sheridan do to convince his Democrat friends in Madison to buy American? Toyota is the number one seller in the County with the largest Democratic majority in the state. Check the blue/red states and vehicle sales. USA today published research that showed 2/3 of foreign car owners voted for Kerry and 2/3 of Domestic car owners voted for Bush.

We are all in the economic struggle together. Sadly, the Democratic Party has sold out.

Lou Kaye said...

I understand where you're coming from - sort of. But I think all of us "use" people to some extent to get what what we want. Perhaps "use" sounds rather selfish and degrading but its accurate.

You have to promote and market yourself and if like-minded people are willing to help, you take it. Otherwise you don't sell. Whether Democrat or Republican.

I don't know why you've opposed Republicans in the past, but opposing citizens (who happen to be democrat) for doing all they can without smearing the opposition to get elected as "influence peddling" doesn't make sense to me.

If you use vehicle sales to guide your political persuasion, that's your prerogative and right. But that is just a microcosm of the big economic picture. I wish I could make up my mind that easily. As long as it works for you, that's all that matters.

Thank you for your comments. You're welcome anytime.

North said...

Louis, I apologize, my comments on 4/7 at 2:59pm and on 4/8 at 3:25pm were directed toward the anonymous poster on 4/7 at 7:03pm. I felt he was bashing democrats with his Obama bumper-sticker statement.

I have finally committed myself to getting a blogger name rather than posting anonymously. Again, I am sorry for the confusion.

RichE95 said...

Please accept my appolgies for adding to any confusion. I wrote the "Democrat Bashing" entries though I prefer the term "Frustrated with Democrats and Labor".

This is my new ID for future use.

Lou Kaye said...

Youze guys are starting to worry me. No need to apologize to me or for what's on your mind. I tend not to reply to anonymous comments, but the ones posted here seemed genuine. Appreciate the blogger id far more so at least everyone can get a some idea who is posting what. Thanks for that.

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