Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Moanin'

Growing up in Michigan I always loved reading Bob Talbert's (right) column in the Detroit Free Press. Especially on Mondays when he would trot out random thoughts and odd bits and pieces in what he called "Monday Moanin'." With all kinds of thoughts on my mind I thought I'd pay homage to that.

The memorial ceremony for the St. Louis Church held at Marian College Sunday was nice. It was like a Sunday social with cake and lemonade after and for some a chance to share the memories of a lifetime.

Sitting in court last Friday for the preliminary hearings of four people accused of drug transactions that lead to the overdose death of a Campbellsport man, it struck me how much his death could affect the lives of others. One young woman hugged a baby shortly after her hearing and another looks like she's on the verge of starting her own family. Should the law prosecute others for a drug death when the victim makes a decision to take drugs?

Why is it that the guys who egg you the most about being folliclely challenged (bald or going bald) choose to wear a toupee they think you're not smart enough to spot?

I think most women look pleasant or even beautiful whether they're 18 or 80. That being said why can't some be happy with the way they appear? I saw a woman in her late 40's or early 50's the other day trying to pull off a mini-skirt look that someone half her age would have had a tough time managing.

Did you second guess the Packers on their draft this past weekend? I don't recognize any of the names, but who ever heard of Donald Driver or Aaron Kampman before they blossomed into All-Pros?

I saw a couple good movies on DVD over the weekend. Night at the Museum and Deja Vu. Night stars Ben Stiller who can be funny without mugging for the camera and Deja Vu stars Denzel Washington as an ATF agent looking into a ferry explosion. If you watch Vu look out for the beginning. If you're like me you may be thinking your DVD player is on the fritz.

Why is it I can never sleep on Sunday nights? Mondays are tough enough as it is. Especially if you worked every day the previous week. Starting out Monday morning talking about a house fire that left a family homeless and a traffic accident in Washington County that claimed two teens lives, it didn't seem things could get much worse. Unfortunately they did when three teens lost their lives in a fatal Fond du Lac County accident. Sadly Monday Moanin' turned to just mourning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Monday, April 16th. I was actually home sick when I flipped on Court TV and saw a "Breaking News" headline and a caption about 30 some people being killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech. My first though was that it was some kind of fictional drama. That's a newsman's skepticism. To make sure I flipped over to CNN and was automatically hooked.

Although I was actually sick, the real life tragedy made me feel heartsick. Once again America was center stage for a tragedy that as the Tech President said was of "monumental proportions." I watched him talk about it in a live press conference. I know my media colleagues were focusing on getting the story and every bit of detail, but I felt as though they should be concentrating on the more than 30 families that were going through an unimaginable moment.

United again in tragedy we gleaned details from radio, television, newspapers, the Internet. Students were e-mailed on the Virginia Tech campus about a shooter, but not until after the damage had been done. Another Columbine, another disgruntled student, another national debate on campus security and gun control. Another nationwide wound that will eventually heal over, but leave a permanent scar.

If you went to college you'll know what I'm talking about. Even if you're years removed from being a student, when you step on a college campus memories flood back. A sense of optimism, a feeling that all you aspire to, the key to having what you want in life is within your grasp. Bang, it's gone!

One student caught the sounds of gunshots on his cell phone and became an instant correspondent for CNN. I won't forget that. Let's hope there are not any moments ahead like it. Columbine has been replaced by a new national tragedy. One that's put across by cell phones and text messaging and silent loudspeakers on the Virginia Tech campus.

We're learning more about the shooter, but let's take time to learn more about the victims and their families. Their lives meant nothing to him, they should mean something to the rest of us.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Judge Not

$7.25 Remember that number and think about what you can buy for that much money these days.

I'm not sure how you feel, but the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race made me sick. The barage of attack ads both on the radio and television, mailers and computerized phone calls at home from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and others. Come on!

I interviewed both candidates during the primary and leading up to the spring election. During the primary both focused on their records and talked about what they thought the role of a Supreme Court justice should be. They differed on that somewhat.

In the days before the election it was a different matter. I had to ask Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler (pictured) about the accusations made against her by her opponent Madison lawyer Linda Clifford. You know conflict of interest, ethics, etc. Most of it boiled down to cases involving West Bend Savings Bank, a bank whose Board of Directors her husband sits on. She spent about half of the interview talking about that and her record on sentencing sex offenders.

Linda Clifford spent more than half the interview pushing the public records search of Ziegler's cases. She then talked about her own experience, which covers many areas of the law but not criminal law. I mentioned it would have been nice to spend more time talking about Linda Clifford the candidate. She agreed, but the interview had to be kept to a certain time length due to programming constraints.

I spoke to Judge Ziegler again on election night to congratulate her and talk about what's next. She said she hoped to put the campaign negatives behind her and concentrate on more positives like being sworn in this August to take the seat retiring Justice Jon Wilcox is leaving. At 42 years of age she could be on the Supreme Court a long time, like another woman that sits there now. Shirley Abrahamson.

As for the $7.25 According to my shaky math skills there were 828,707 people combined that voted for either Ziegler or Clifford. There was also more than $6 million spent on the campaign, by the candidates and other interests. That comes pretty close to $7.25 spent for each vote. Political experts say it may be the first of many Supreme Court campaigns to come in which we will see more and more money spent by the candidates and political interests.

I talked to a local election official after the Supreme Court race and mentioned it was supposed to be nonpartisan. She said tell that to the talk show hosts who characterized Ziegler as the Republican candidate and Clifford as the Democratic candidate. To me that comment was just..supreme!