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Monday, January 19, 2015

School Board Candidates Insufficient Petitions Are Minor Compared To Activity That Ensued

The Janesville Gazette posted what I refer to as their editorial "follow-up" in their campaign to marginalize the AFSCME representative who recently discovered potentially disqualifying errors on school board candidates nominating petitions.

JG Editorial Excerpt:
This disturbing situation arose after an AFSCME Council 40 representative challenged the paperwork. That the union, which represents not teachers but support staff, sought to oust both candidates suggests it didn’t share their views on issues.

They are correct that a disturbing situation arose "after" discovery of insufficient paperwork, but there's no proof the union sought to oust both candidates.

But since when is making sure everyone is following the same rules become so scorned or labeled as politically motivated? What about the folks who follow the rules? Is it fair to them that their opponents nearly qualified without following the same standards?

JG Editorial Excerpt:
Absent formal challenges, might insufficient paperwork have been accepted in past elections? Schulte told us she would have no way of knowing but added, “The assistant board clerks I have worked with are very precise and detail oriented.”

So why was the assistant board clerks "precision" different this time around? And, why was the union's reps apparent attention to details so scorned and rejected?

JG Editorial Excerpt:
“It’s an unfortunate incident for two good people trying to do good things for their community—and yet the union has a clear interest in keeping them off the ballot,” Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler told us by email. “I hate to call it a game of ‘gotcha,’ but for lack of better words … ”

Here they go again. They paint this as a problem started by the union. Apparently, it's the union rep's discovery and report of doctored and/or insufficient nomination petitions that is the problem - not the suspect petitions or the bizarre activity that followed to clean them up.

The fact that the Gazette views the union rep's motivation as political conversely implies the strong possibility that they (the Gazette) are projecting political motivations of their own to shield those involved.

At this point, it's not wrong to believe that the nominating petition infractions discovered and reported by the AFSCME Rep are indeed disqualifying, but minor and possibly even forgivable compared to the activity that followed from both the superintendent to block his effort and the Gazette's to marginalize his character, followed by a second effort by the Gazette to whitewash the superintendent's involvement in this story.

To them, it's as if they did no wrong and it's this politically motivated absence-of-truth-in-reporting that is something we've seen in Janesville far too often. For people who continually refer to themselves as professionals, their role in this episode was unacceptable.


Man MKE said...

In another era of more vigorous reporting, it might have been the Gazette itself checking this "paperwork" (actually: official public documents subject to complete inspection and legal scrutiny). That era retained the quaint custom known as investigative journalism. If a tree falls in the forest -- or a crooked politician fakes his or her nomination papers -- do those events make a sound?

Lou Kaye said...

"Investigative journalism." Now there's an antique. You're absolutely right. This episode would not have happened if the clerks, superintendent and the local newspaper did their basic jobs checking compliance on the nominating petitions and reporting.

The Gazette is now in "look over there, squirrels" mode hoping to kill public interest in this story OR at the maximum keeping the focus on the messenger, the union rep, and not on the suprerintendent, clerks or newspaper's role in the cover-up.

It's no longer about reporting the full facts and telling the truth - it's all about what you can make people believe.

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