Sunday, July 24, 2016

AS AUG. 9 LOOMS, FIXATING ON CONVENTIONS IS WASTE OF TIME

By Dominique Paul Noth

Donald Trump’s lengthy gloomy vision of America as he accepted the Republican nomination sounded, until near the end, like outtakes from “Kill Bill.”

It confirmed him as the nation’s darkest buffoon, a red-faced visitor to a sunless planet. But it took place in such gaudy triumphant surroundings of cheering fans, cascading balloons and well-spoken offspring from three marriages and multiple nannies that some may still not perceive how deeply untruthful was this wallow in the slimiest, sourest instincts of America.

That’s the worst thing about the heavy television presence inspired by both party’s conventions. They are hardly democracy at work but coronations – in Trump’s case a crown dipped in venom.   Perhaps the Democrats will succeed in not seeming so far removed from real life but will that matter?

The media thrives on conflict. Expect more time by TV, radio, print and Internet devoted to digging out contrasting views, failures and fumbles. It is doubtful that any other convention could have as many of those as the Republicans just did.  But television producers are praying for big stumbles or a convention so boring that they can complain about that.

All that time spent worrying about the conventions is pulling attention away in Wisconsin from the real opportunities for democracy in action.  Let’s face it – Wisconsin will have minimal impact, one of 50 states and one of the modest ones in population, on the national scene or direction. There are ample months left to realistically accept our role.   

But in the next few weeks the electorate can land enormous weight on the state’s future, district by district, county by county, city by city.  And given who is now in charge of the state government, the time they have chosen for us to decide – August 9 – is the worst imaginable for strong turnout and strong change.

What are you doing August 9?  Students of all ages are out of school and hoping for a break from using their brains.  Families are on vacation. Baseball, Olympics and nearby lakes beckon. Everyone feels lazy. This is the worst time to impose a schedule on yourself outside stern orders from your doctor.  Early voting is possible right now, but even that requires getting out of the hammock.

You’ll hear lots of justifications for the Aug. 9 date, suggesting the post office is so slow that sticky August is required to handle absentee ballots in time for Nov. 8. Even Federal Express will find that hard to believe.

Yet August 9 is a vital date for the electorate to change the face of Wisconsin. It is the date voters actually have multiple choices that either decide Nov. 8 races or permanently shape them. 

Statewide as we recently surveyed, there are numerous contests from the House on down that either limit or expand the voters’ horizons. 

Milwaukee County’s most important race determines if the unruly children take over the district attorney’s office or if the incorruptible John Chisholm can provide four more years of nationally recognized progress on justice issues.  

And as has previously been reported in detail, 575,000 citizens of the city of Milwaukee are facing wrenching choices within the Democratic Party, from coalitions of the least progressive to coalitions of the most progressive – and the least progressive apparently have the most dark money and secretive campaign methods. 

Whoever wins the Aug. 9 battle determines the direction of legislation.  

Sure, that national arena is always interesting or amusing. (Notice how Trump slid away from blaming all Muslims to saying we should not let in people from regions of the world “compromised by terrorists”?  From that wording, folks from France, Belgium and Germany had better give up tourism plans.  After carefully pronouncing LBGTQ as if  he never heard it before, he wants to protect them from foreign terrorists, while they want protection from the hatred next door – including Trump’s choice for VP.) 

Oops, just proved how easy it is to get sidetracked by national jokes. 

Ignore the conventions. Get all the information you can on local contests. There’s lots of work to do here at home -- in a time frame deliberately chosen to distract us from real change.

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for urbanmilwaukee.com.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

CHISHOLM ONLY RATIONAL CHOICE – BUT THIS YEAR IS THAT ENOUGH?

By Dominique Paul Noth


Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm 
In a normal election year, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s opponent in the August 9 Democratic primary wouldn’t be worth a fleck of reporting space, not even the dot on a lowercase  i, so unprepared and ill-suited is she.

But this is not a normal year. Trump has taken care of that, as have other big money operators.  So have the state GOP machine engineers with their own brand of overreach – including packing the Wisconsin Supreme Court with their paid sycophants.

That court – accepting “evidence” that the facts refute -- halted the John Doe investigation into illegal financial coordination between Scott Walker’s campaign and the Wisconsin Club for Growth. 

More than that, frightened Republicans in the legislative majority have passed a John Doe amendment to make sure they never face such scrutiny again. They have declared that  the John Doe statute (once much admired as better than grand juries by requiring secrecy and a judge to oversee prosecutorial action) can no longer be used to pursue politicians or other (often related) “white collar”  crimes.

Chisholm is lead name among the state DAs who led that case, and three have now appealed to the US Supreme Court since so much of the “stop” John Doe decision seems to fly in the face of SCOTUS precedents.

Chatterbox Eric O’Keefe (who worked for Walker’s re-election and leads Wisconsin Club for Growth) has been the busy one-sided leaker of virtually all the public fantasies about this case, suggesting John Doe injured the privacy rights of the obscenely rich, and he still seems upset so many citizens have figured out what he was really up to, without being bribed into thinking ugly thoughts.

Now O’Keefe is trying to bury Chisholm, expending money and fury (both of which he seems to have in abundance) to deflect any resurrection of the corruption probe.

That means handing his pocketbook to local public relations friend Craig Peterson of Zigman Joseph & Associates who loathes the streetcar and Tom Barrett as much as Chisholm, a weird trifecta.

That means backing Verona Swanigan in how she dresses and campaigns, even getting conservative radio talk host Vicky McKenna to introduce her to North Shore Republican women as a cloud cuckooland knight to the rescue.  (Whoever wins the Aug. 9 primary is in effect the next DA, under Chisholm a hugely effective office of more than a hundred assisting prosecutors, from whom both conservative and liberal judges are often picked.)

Verona is black and has tried to tie herself belatedly to the movement against police killings of black men, which many feel sympathy for.  So the O’Keefe forces are trying to apply a double vise to Chisholm – right-wing money to fund her race and right wing money to capitalize on the fringes of Black Lives Matter.  

If I were the inner city community, I would be outraged to expect the black voters to fall for this canard. If I were a North Shore Republican, I would ask why Peterson wants me to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary.  This blandishment is not taking place among Republicans within Congressional District 1 on the south side.  That House seat has a hot primary race between challenger Paul Nehlen and Paul (I’m With Racist) Ryan. (I can’t resist inserting the NY Daily News headline into his name.)

Stop reading here if you don’t like Black Lives Matter in either name or intent – the issue as well as the term is a moment of cross-pollination and decision for white liberals.  There is much truth in African Americans’ belief that they are fighting a white supremacist system and have been for 400 years – and that law enforcement has not moved enough to rectify the meaning of justice.  The danger comes in blaming the DA for entrenched procedures, and not recognizing that it takes a strong DA to take upon himself the burdens of following the law no matter what emotions are telling you to think.

A further problem – the clear bias of DAs in other jurisdictions, particularly the South and among those hogtied to police sentiments.

As Chisholm has commented to friends, if one case came along he could win to wipe away centuries of racial injustice, he would be there. How many DAs do you know who have that desire? Or know what will work in court?

The lesson may now be unfolding in Baltimore. In response to personal and community fury, the prosecutor there charged seven police offices in the death in custody of Freddie Gray.  An African American judge you would expect to be sympathetic has tossed out every case so far, as a matter of law.  Passion seems to have led to overcharging.

There is also much truth that we hire police to act as instant judges on the street, where they face unimaginable pressure. Yet we also have a right to expect a higher standard from them of how they behave, given the higher favoritism they get in court considerations. Let’s not deny that police feel deep levels of fear on black streets and expect insulation in court verdicts, as many even moderate reporters and thinkers have observed

Does our society too easily permit this sense of isolation and invincibility we visit on law enforcement?  Or should they act even more ferociously? Political sides are muddled. Who do we ask to balance this? The district attorneys, for one, yet few have shown the empathy, ability and desire to maneuver these thickets as has Chisholm, who has reduced incarcerations in the black community mightily and has led many efforts to encourage a balanced sense of justice – sometimes taking the pressure on his own back rather than seeking to inflame the public’s desire for satisfaction. 

That requires a high degree of courage under fire. Knowing no side will be satisfied or supportive, he goes about his job with what judges and lawyers call bravery and distinction. I call it a vibrating inner moral tuning fork.


Nine years ago, as he has been many times since,
Chisholm spoke during Workers Memorial Day.
I have covered Chisholm throughout a decade in office and have come to see more than the prosecutor who puts drug lords and mass murderers in prison (a 95% conviction races in homicides). He has gone after criminal behavior in high places by Democrats or Republicans because he regards public office as a sacred trust particularly vulnerable to the perversion of money.  

What set Chisholm vibrating about shenanigans around Gov. Scott Walker was not the myths of vendetta O’Keefe is trying to sell voters. It was that moral tuning fork. 

That also struck me when viewing a Chisholm campaign video.  Usually these videos are mere ego self-approving, fulsomely one-sided.  But this one explores how much real difference Chisholm has made, aside from the testaments from almost every one who has worked with him.  It shows much of his core. 

Chisholm has been a leader in reform of judicial practices – alternative sentencing, meetings among perpetrator and victim, steps to separate curable addictions from criminal intent, consulted by the White House and in other national forums on criminal justice.  
Any judge will tell you such reform approaches don’t get far without a thoughtful DA.


He walks regularly amid the community rather that locking himself in the ivory tower Courthouse.  He was key to Milwaukee’s successful drug court and to using Sojourner Truth House to create a one-step center for family services in cases of domestic abuse, offender rehabilitation and family abandonment.  His tough law and order approach is equally tough on defining what is law and what is order.

He also has openly admitted these efforts aren’t perfect, though the statistics reveal remarkable success. Someday, somewhere, he notes, an offender will slip through the cracks and repeat. But he and other leaders of restorative justice and similar justice reform ideas forcefully and eloquently argue that this humane approach is working, and also saving a lot of taxpayer money. 

No wonder that a quiet, thoughtful international leader of restorative justice, former state supreme justice and county executive Janine Geske, was seen by the Swanigan team as too “biased a moderator” for a now canceled candidate debate on the issues. 

Along with lame excuses about canceling, Verona is on another apology tour of sorts. She is sorry she represented slum landlords regularly as a lawyer. She is sorry she struggled several times with bankruptcy.  She is not sorry she wrote a book of erotic poetry, though she may want to apologize for video selling it wearing a slinky dress and come-hither smirk.

What she ought to be most sorry for is simplifying the complicated issue of justice reform. It’s particularly annoying since Chisholm is one of the few DAs who has actually convicted dozens of cops and sent some to prison when the evidence warranted. 

The right-wing money attack was almost inevitable after the Walker case, though it deliberately ignores how many Democratic officials have also come under Chisholm’s gun for corruption and that his John Doe actions were completely within existing law (upheld by many courts).

But it has to pain Chisholm that right-wing money is being tied to left-wing anger (without the left knowing what the right is doing, apparently). 

Elections are worrisome even with such a clear difference in ability between the candidates. As a British economist recently noted after Brexit, “Democratic elections are always uncertain, since they tell us if emotion can be tempered by reason.”

If so, Chisholm stands alone.

Chisholm contest is countywide, but check were you live: Most city of Milwaukee’s legislative seats in Madison are up for grabs



About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for urbanmilwaukee.com. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MOST OF MILWAUKEE UP FOR GRABS IN AUG. 9 PRIMARY

By Dominique Paul Noth

A fascinating pattern emerges when you examine August 9 contests in Milwaukee. With some notable conflicts (voucher schools, castle doctrine, debt methods) all the candidates describe themselves as reliable votes on issues near and dear to Democratic hearts.

Today this is no longer enough. There may be times when working across the aisle makes sense, but these “reliable Democratic voters” who frequently do so either poorly explain themselves or tack to the right,  more to  accept the status quo than challenge it.

Constituents are toughening up. In community after community they want to sense a passion, a ferocity for the downtrodden, an intelligence with tactics, something deeper than social patter about general values.  They can still be conned by old allegiances, but who really speaks or knows how to speak for the people on the street, high and low?  Who really wants to be measured by accomplishment not rhetoric?

A fire for neighborhood needs is building in this election. It is no longer vaguely stabbing  at  the core issues the Democrats fight for in the Senate and  Assembly.

What the constituents want is that sense of belonging, despite fancy clothes and social parties required by etiquette, to the hearts and souls of long neglected children, schools, environment and communities.  It’s not change for change’s sake – in several cases it is retaining or elevating a proven commitment, not just any new face in the storm.

These sentiments underlie many Milwaukee races and explain why contests are erupting where veteran Democrats can’t yet grasp why they’re in trouble. Officials who once placidly believed they were shoo-ins have reason to fear an upset.


Mandela vs. Lena

Mandela Barnes looks like the face of change for SD4
Once upon a time, Lena Taylor was highly regarded by state Democrats and her senate colleagues for her energy  –  a graduate of my favorite MPS high school, Rufus King, a property rights lawyer, elected to the Senate in 2004 and every four years after, taking time to run for Milwaukee County exec in 2008 against Scott Walker (she lost by 18%), one of the 14 who fled to Illinois to block a senate quorum and force the Republicans to change Act 10 into a non-financial bill,  This action alone gave her oodles of speaking minutes on cable television.

Today’s Taylor is a far different creature – the peppy flirtatious manner more annoying than effective, the days long past when Emily’s List posed her with Gwen Moore and the late Tamara Grigsby as a female black trio to watch.  Things change. Remember 2013 just before her relapse and death, when the highly regarded Grigsby was contemplating a return to elected life? She  got unusually personal on Facebook and accused Taylor  of going to any lengths to "ruin my personal life and professional career."

Those  flights of rhetorical fury  with which Taylor  mouths off  on inner city issues?  Well, they no longer cause fear or create attention in Madison.  Some believe her work as a lawyer has diminished her progressive credentials. Journalists digging for truth have become furious at her tendency to talk her way around any issue they raise. Her personality positions have become controversial and testy – such as when she openly suggested that  Sandy Pasch, as a white woman, had no business running in AD10 (Pasch won), or  her two-step with the voucher school movement (whose campaign money dump into this race will arrive too late for this cycle’s financial reporting). 

Her instincts to drive a wedge between the black and white communities are still alive and being pushed today by surrogates, such as WNOV-AM talk radio host Sherwin Hughes, who rails against Mandela Barnes for something most political observers call astute – holding some fund-raisers in the more affluent and more politically involved Shorewood, part of Taylor’s district.

Anyone close to Barnes knows of  his visceral commitment to inner city issues and his dedication to effective solutions. But his common sense in a tough campaign only brings radio sneers from Hughes that “They’re buying something” -- on a station heavily accepting advertising from a group supporting Taylor that Hughes has been linked with,  the anonymous Leaders for a Better Community. (I called WNOV to ask for details and they offered nothing.)

Is this Taylor’s secret money group? It’s dropping flyers under the name Leaders for a Better Community -- and not just for her. Under the state’s new partisan ethics board, the public can’t begin to find who they are till next week.

The same printing style and name are helping the least progressive candidates in several races, playing on understandable but backwards-looking suspicion of all whites. At the time of Dallas, when Obama seeks to bring together Black Lives Matter and the killing of white policemen, pleading for shared improvement, these campaign cackles seem particularly regressive shout-outs to the black community.

Then there are Taylor’s  philosophical differences with Democratic colleagues, such as backing the castle doctrine that allows  home owners to shoot trespassers on sight in an era when the residents of Senate District 4 wish fewer people owned guns and were more cautious about using them.

In the legislature she is more known for starting fights than accomplishing results. Her once celebrated charisma has waned.  Otherwise she would not be under such notable danger from Barnes, who abandoned the Assembly to take her on – and seems likely of success.


Years ago on Fourth Street Forum, Barnes (right)
was considered expert enough on mass
incarceration to share a panel with DA John Chisholm
and Benedict Center's Jeanne Geraci.
I first became aware of Barnes when, as a young community organizer, he spoke on a Milwaukee labor council panel about runaway incarceration of blacks.  Soon after he became a social justice organizer for  MICAH, the interfaith group, and in 2012 against all predictions (except mine) he beat 8-year veteran Jason Fields to represent Assembly District 11. That was largely based on Fields’ support of voucher schools and payday loans, along with a seeming indifference to the progressive goals of his Milwaukee peers.  Fields became facetiously known in Madison as the Republicans’ favorite Democrat


Darrol Gibson
Barnes announced his shift to the Senate race in April  but filed notice of noncandidacy for the Assembly late. That did not help his handpicked successor, veteran progressive organizer Darrol Gibson. It opened the door for Fields to climb back in to a chorus of hallelujahs from right-wing talk radio and websites – along with another opening for outside secret money, this  new coalition that raises past specters of the tampering of American Federation for Children, voucher allies and dark money aimed at the inner city.  Many suspect that is what “Leaders” is really all about.

Gibson in contrast has gained widespread grassroots support with a platform that emphasizes an end to mass incarceration and improved public education.  He has been slogging away at such issues behind the scenes at many levels of government.

Barnes is friendly in person, but stoic compared to Taylor.  He works the doors with precise examples and controlled authority. Don’t underestimate his chops, lobbyists tell me – he is quicker to the point in legislative matters, where even Taylor supporters admit she is prone to ramble.  His effectiveness for Assembly 11 – which is within the Senate territory – is convincing over two terms. Almost out of nowhere his campaign has proven deeply rooted in the community and well organized. 

Even mainstream media recognizes that this contest is turning into a referendum on progressive values – Barnes the future, Taylor the fading past.  To that end the Working Families Party is among the groups throwing their full organizational weight behind both Barnes and Gibson.

Time for LaTonya



LaTonya Johnson -- moving up.
There is similar liberal enthusiasm for Rep. LaTonya Johnson who after a mere three years seems ready to elevate herself to State Senate District 6 – putting her support for replacement in Assembly District 17 to  another highly regarded progressive community organizer, David Crowley. Working Families supports both as do several groups like Wisconsin Jobs Now.

Johnson has notable shoes to succeed since in just four years Nikiya Harris Dodd (who is voluntarily leaving to raise her family)  learned the ropes quickly and became a strong player in the state legislature. Johnson may seem the inevitable successor because of how she identifies with constituents, but she has two curious obstacles.  One is a better known name in Milwaukee -- Michael Bonds, former chairman of the Milwaukee public schools board who also ran poorly for Common Council.  The other rather bizarrely is Lena Taylor’s chief of staff, Thomas Harris, who is benefiting as is Jason Fields from that curious flyer perpetrator, Leaders for a Better Community.  (Have you noticed how names mean nothing in this land of dark money?)   

Bonds’ presence in the race is mystifying since he has not demonstrated the sort of interest the community desires.  Johnson has. A former day care operator and head of the related AFSCME local, she boasts an organizational skill much needed in Madison.  She has spoken eloquently about helping children and standing up for corrections reform,  worker’s rights, women’s rights and economic justice – issues the legislature can indeed address.


David Crowley
She hopes to make even more noise in a fairly deaf senate. Her Northwest side district is home to many important neighborhoods  including much of Sherman Park, Lenox Heights, Enderis Park, Dineen Park and  Capitol Heights.

In her former District 17, Crowley has been working the doors hard for months. “You can't represent the people if you're not out there with the people,” he notes. He has also picked up an impressive array of endorsements – including former senator Nikiya Harris Dodd, Mayor Tom Barrett, the AFL-CIO and Working Families.


Token opposition


Elsewhere there are some token upstarts forcing races against established hard workers. Rep. JoCasta Zamarippa again has to fend off Laura Manriquez in Latino heavy AD8.  Out of nowhere, except a mental health meeting, Julie Meyer is tackling a stalwart of union and public school values,  Christine Sinicki,  in AD20, and it may be a sign of Meyer’s ineptitude that public school teachers are not supporting one of their own but embrace Sinicki, a longtime advocate for public education.  Over in Oak Creek AD 21, Teamsters business agent John Redmond seems to have massive support against one opponent in order  to take on incumbent Jessie Rodriguez in November. 

But there are also solid threats. 


Is Leon Young in Trouble?


Leon Young shouldn’t assume something from 24 years in office (his aunt, the late Marcia Coggs, helped him succeed her). After decades in a rapidly evolving district, Young is virtually unknown to many in District 16.  He is called a “reliable vote” aloud by colleagues but in private labeled “deadwood.”  To caring voices for the inner city, he has long been regarded as a major disappointment

He has sometimes faced no opponent and sometimes handily beaten others in a district that has notoriously shabby turnout– not the longed-for 18,000 but as little as 3,700. That has to change and probably will Aug. 9.


Edgar Lin's strong challenge
His district also has 53206, the ZIP code that signals extreme poverty and neglect. It is even the subject of a recent film and a center of outraged community brainstorming. Issues of mass incarceration and even economic development seem strangers to him, sneered colleagues (“Young couldn’t tell you which statute relates to criminal justice”). There is a quiet consensus -- Young has little to offer the Democrats but a reliable vote, often useful to trade.

The much vaunted Coggs political machine no longer exists though Spencer is city treasurer and Millele is city alderman, on merit not name. So this time Young’s best chance is that he  has drawn three opponents,  which might split the progressive vote.

Neither Brandy Bond nor Stephen Jansen has  drawn as much interest at the doors as Edgar Lin, a personable lawyer pointed out to me by several judges. But while he has distinguished himself as a public defender he sees his real calling as public service.

In interview and campaign literature he ticks off the problems and what he offers. “We need change. I’ve seen what neglect does to our communities. We’re worst in the nation for incarceration, jobs are gone, our public school funding has been gutted. I envision a Milwaukee where justice applies equally regardless of zip code.”

He even responded online after the shooting in Dallas and the deaths of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota: “We've seen what systemic oppression leads to all throughout history: Radicalization, and then, violence by the few. This must end now.” It is almost as if he anticipated Obama’s July 12 speech.

Lin acknowledges an uphill campaign hurt by two other opponents to Young, one entering late.  But he trusts the response at the doors in places like  Riverwest and the Harambee community. “It seems like an uphill battle but also very promising,” he told me.

Don’t Overlook Cabrera

The same optimism is riding another once unlikely campaign against Josh Zepnick in AD9. He has gone from strong labor and party support to a reputation as erratic and even quirky.   In any case it’s been a bad year for Zepnick, with a drunken driving conviction and a poor third-place showing against Ald. Bob Donovan despite the name recognition of 14 years in Madison.


Marisabel Cabrera
This time he is facing someone with a growing reputation for dynamism – Marisabel Cabrera, an immigration lawyer chosen by Mayor Barrett to sit on the Fire and Police Commission.  You can look out from anywhere in AD9 and see booming economic development nearby, but little affecting her district, which is one of her big arguments for change. She says the district needs someone leaning forward and positive – again, the argument that it’s not about the reliability of votes but the passion she lives.

A major Democratic figure and former legislator agrees. Interviewed about Cabrera and Lin, Gary Goyke noted, "These are the candidates asking the community to take a risk and choose someone who they believe can actually do something for the district.  Many in these districts feel they are in need of an active representative who can focus on local issues.”  

Commentator Gary Goyke
But Goyke’s analysis goes further looking at the entire city of Milwaukee. “Eight primaries involving some 575,000 citizens!  And only Sinicki and Zamarippa seem confident of making it through.”

“That means this August that SIX of the legislative primaries  are contentious,” he said. “The differences are certainly style but also actual dedication to the job, and an appeal to voters to expect more from their representatives. The incumbents are all more or less being challenged on that basis.” 

He’s talking about an earthquake -- nearly 10% of Wisconsin and some 468,000 voters in one city’s heavily uncertain races, probably the largest potential shift of legislative names in the state.

Here’s a discussion of those state races. 


About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for urbanmilwaukee.com.


MOST OF MILWAUKEE UP FOR GRABS IN AUG. 9 PRIMARY

By Dominique Paul Noth

A fascinating pattern emerges when you examine August 9 contests in Milwaukee. With some notable conflicts (voucher schools, castle doctrine, debt methods) all the candidates describe themselves as reliable votes on issues near and dear to Democratic hearts.

Today this is no longer enough. There may be times when working across the aisle makes sense, but these “reliable Democratic voters” who frequently do so either poorly explain themselves or tack to the right,  more to  accept the status quo than challenge it.

Constituents are toughening up. In community after community they want to sense a passion, a ferocity for the downtrodden, an intelligence with tactics, something deeper than social patter about general values.  They can still be conned by old allegiances, but who really speaks or knows how to speak for the people on the street, high and low?  Who really wants to be measured by accomplishment not rhetoric?

A fire for neighborhood needs is building in this election. It is no longer vaguely stabbing  at  the core issues the Democrats fight for in the Senate and  Assembly.

What the constituents want is that sense of belonging, despite fancy clothes and social parties required by etiquette, to the hearts and souls of long neglected children, schools, environment and communities.  It’s not change for change’s sake – in several cases it is retaining or elevating a proven commitment, not just any new face in the storm.

These sentiments underlie many Milwaukee races and explain why contests are erupting where veteran Democrats can’t yet grasp why they’re in trouble. Officials who once placidly believed they were shoo-ins have reason to fear an upset.


Mandela vs. Lena

Mandela Barnes looks like the face of change for SD4
Once upon a time, Lena Taylor was highly regarded by state Democrats and her senate colleagues for her energy  –  a graduate of my favorite MPS high school, Rufus King, a property rights lawyer, elected to the Senate in 2004 and every four years after, taking time to run for Milwaukee County exec in 2008 against Scott Walker (she lost by 18%), one of the 14 who fled to Illinois to block a senate quorum and force the Republicans to change Act 10 into a non-financial bill,  This action alone gave her oodles of speaking minutes on cable television.

Today’s Taylor is a far different creature – the peppy flirtatious manner more annoying than effective, the days long past when Emily’s List posed her with Gwen Moore and the late Tamara Grigsby as a female black trio to watch.  Things change. Remember 2013 just before her relapse and death, when the highly regarded Grigsby was contemplating a return to elected life? She  got unusually personal on Facebook and accused Taylor  of going to any lengths to "ruin my personal life and professional career."

Those  flights of rhetorical fury  with which Taylor  mouths off  on inner city issues?  Well, they no longer cause fear or create attention in Madison.  Some believe her work as a lawyer has diminished her progressive credentials. Journalists digging for truth have become furious at her tendency to talk her way around any issue they raise. Her personality positions have become controversial and testy – such as when she openly suggested that  Sandy Pasch, as a white woman, had no business running in AD10 (Pasch won), or  her two-step with the voucher school movement (whose campaign money dump into this race will arrive too late for this cycle’s financial reporting). 

Her instincts to drive a wedge between the black and white communities are still alive and being pushed today by surrogates, such as WNOV-AM talk radio host Sherwin Hughes, who rails against Mandela Barnes for something most political observers call astute – holding some fund-raisers in the more affluent and more politically involved Shorewood, part of Taylor’s district.

Anyone close to Barnes knows of  his visceral commitment to inner city issues and his dedication to effective solutions. But his common sense in a tough campaign only brings radio sneers from Hughes that “They’re buying something” -- on a station heavily accepting advertising from a group supporting Taylor that Hughes has been linked with,  the anonymous Leaders for a Better Community. (I called WNOV to ask for details and they offered nothing.)

Is this Taylor’s secret money group? It’s dropping flyers under the name Leaders for a Better Community -- and not just for her. Under the state’s new partisan ethics board, the public can’t begin to find who they are till next week.

The same printing style and name are helping the least progressive candidates in several races, playing on understandable but backwards-looking suspicion of all whites. At the time of Dallas, when Obama seeks to bring together Black Lives Matter and the killing of white policemen, pleading for shared improvement, these campaign cackles seem particularly regressive shout-outs to the black community.

Then there are Taylor’s  philosophical differences with Democratic colleagues, such as backing the castle doctrine that allows  home owners to shoot trespassers on sight in an era when the residents of Senate District 4 wish fewer people owned guns and were more cautious about using them.

In the legislature she is more known for starting fights than accomplishing results. Her once celebrated charisma has waned.  Otherwise she would not be under such notable danger from Barnes, who abandoned the Assembly to take her on – and seems likely of success.


Years ago on Fourth Street Forum, Barnes (right)
was considered expert enough on mass
incarceration to share a panel with DA John Chisholm
and Benedict Center's Jeanne Geraci.
I first became aware of Barnes when, as a young community organizer, he spoke on a Milwaukee labor council panel about runaway incarceration of blacks.  Soon after he became a social justice organizer for  MICAH, the interfaith group, and in 2012 against all predictions (except mine) he beat 8-year veteran Jason Fields to represent Assembly District 11. That was largely based on Fields’ support of voucher schools and payday loans, along with a seeming indifference to the progressive goals of his Milwaukee peers.  Fields became facetiously known in Madison as the Republicans’ favorite Democrat


Darrol Gibson
Barnes announced his shift to the Senate race in April  but filed notice of noncandidacy for the Assembly late. That did not help his handpicked successor, veteran progressive organizer Darrol Gibson. It opened the door for Fields to climb back in to a chorus of hallelujahs from right-wing talk radio and websites – along with another opening for outside secret money, this  new coalition that raises past specters of the tampering of American Federation for Children, voucher allies and dark money aimed at the inner city.  Many suspect that is what “Leaders” is really all about.

Gibson in contrast has gained widespread grassroots support with a platform that emphasizes an end to mass incarceration and improved public education.  He has been slogging away at such issues behind the scenes at many levels of government.

Barnes is friendly in person, but stoic compared to Taylor.  He works the doors with precise examples and controlled authority. Don’t underestimate his chops, lobbyists tell me – he is quicker to the point in legislative matters, where even Taylor supporters admit she is prone to ramble.  His effectiveness for Assembly 11 – which is within the Senate territory – is convincing over two terms. Almost out of nowhere his campaign has proven deeply rooted in the community and well organized. 

Even mainstream media recognizes that this contest is turning into a referendum on progressive values – Barnes the future, Taylor the fading past.  To that end the Working Families Party is among the groups throwing their full organizational weight behind both Barnes and Gibson.
http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/lena-taylor-mandela-barnes-face-off-in-closely-watched-race-b99751868z1-385390981.html


Time for LaTonya



LaTonya Johnson -- moving up.
There is similar liberal enthusiasm for Rep. LaTonya Johnson who after a mere three years seems ready to elevate herself to State Senate District 6 – putting her support for replacement in Assembly District 17 to  another highly regarded progressive community organizer, David Crowley. Working Families supports both as do several groups like Wisconsin Jobs Now.

Johnson has notable shoes to succeed since in just four years Nikiya Harris Dodd (who is voluntarily leaving to raise her family)  learned the ropes quickly and became a strong player in the state legislature. Johnson may seem the inevitable successor because of how she identifies with constituents, but she has two curious obstacles.  One is a better known name in Milwaukee -- Michael Bonds, former chairman of the Milwaukee public schools board who also ran poorly for Common Council.  The other rather bizarrely is Lena Taylor’s chief of staff, Thomas Harris, who is benefiting as is Jason Fields from that curious flyer perpetrator, Leaders for a Better Community.  (Have you noticed how names mean nothing in this land of dark money?)   

Bonds’ presence in the race is mystifying since he has not demonstrated the sort of interest the community desires.  Johnson has. A former day care operator and head of the related AFSCME local, she boasts an organizational skill much needed in Madison.  She has spoken eloquently about helping children and standing up for corrections reform,  worker’s rights, women’s rights and economic justice – issues the legislature can indeed address.


David Crowley
She hopes to make even more noise in a fairly deaf senate. Her Northwest side district is home to many important neighborhoods  including much of Sherman Park, Lenox Heights, Enderis Park, Dineen Park and  Capitol Heights.

In her former District 17, Crowley has been working the doors hard for months. “You can't represent the people if you're not out there with the people,” he notes. He has also picked up an impressive array of endorsements – including former senator Nikiya Harris Dodd, Mayor Tom Barrett, the AFL-CIO and Working Families.


Token opposition


Elsewhere there are some token upstarts forcing races against established hard workers. Rep. JoCasta Zamarippa again has to fend off Laura Manriquez in Latino heavy AD8.  Out of nowhere, except a mental health meeting, Julie Meyer is tackling a stalwart of union and public school values,  Christine Sinicki,  in AD20, and it may be a sign of Meyer’s ineptitude that public school teachers are not supporting one of their own but embrace Sinicki, a longtime advocate for public education.  Over in Oak Creek AD 21, Teamsters business agent John Redmond seems to have massive support against one opponent in order  to take on incumbent Jessie Rodriguez in November. 

But there are also solid threats. 


Is Leon Young in Trouble?


Leon Young shouldn’t assume something from 24 years in office (his aunt, the late Marcia Coggs, helped him succeed her). After decades in a rapidly evolving district, Young is virtually unknown to many in District 16.  He is called a “reliable vote” aloud by colleagues but in private labeled “deadwood.”  To caring voices for the inner city, he has long been regarded as a major disappointment

He has sometimes faced no opponent and sometimes handily beaten others in a district that has notoriously shabby turnout– not the longed-for 18,000 but as little as 3,700. That has to change and probably will Aug. 9.


Edgar Lin's strong challenge
His district also has 53206, the ZIP code that signals extreme poverty and neglect. It is even the subject of a recent film and a center of outraged community brainstorming. Issues of mass incarceration and even economic development seem strangers to him, sneered colleagues (“Young couldn’t tell you which statute relates to criminal justice”). There is a quiet consensus -- Young has little to offer the Democrats but a reliable vote, often useful to trade.

The much vaunted Coggs political machine no longer exists though Spencer is city treasurer and Millele is city alderman, on merit not name. So this time Young’s best chance is that he  has drawn three opponents,  which might split the progressive vote.

Neither Brandy Bond nor Stephen Jansen has  drawn as much interest at the doors as Edgar Lin, a personable lawyer pointed out to me by several judges. But while he has distinguished himself as a public defender he sees his real calling as public service.

In interview and campaign literature he ticks off the problems and what he offers. “We need change. I’ve seen what neglect does to our communities. We’re worst in the nation for incarceration, jobs are gone, our public school funding has been gutted. I envision a Milwaukee where justice applies equally regardless of zip code.”

He even responded online after the shooting in Dallas and the deaths of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota: “We've seen what systemic oppression leads to all throughout history: Radicalization, and then, violence by the few. This must end now.” It is almost as if he anticipated Obama’s July 12 speech.

Lin acknowledges an uphill campaign hurt by two other opponents to Young, one entering late.  But he trusts the response at the doors in places like  Riverwest and the Harambee community. “It seems like an uphill battle but also very promising,” he told me.

Don’t Overlook Cabrera

The same optimism is riding another once unlikely campaign against Josh Zepnick in AD9. He has gone from strong labor and party support to a reputation as erratic and even quirky.   In any case it’s been a bad year for Zepnick, with a drunken driving conviction and a poor third-place showing against Ald. Bob Donovan despite the name recognition of 14 years in Madison.


Marisabel Cabrera
This time he is facing someone with a growing reputation for dynamism – Marisabel Cabrera, an immigration lawyer chosen by Mayor Barrett to sit on the Fire and Police Commission.  You can look out from anywhere in AD9 and see booming economic development nearby, but little affecting her district, which is one of her big arguments for change. She says the district needs someone leaning forward and positive – again, the argument that it’s not about the reliability of votes but the passion she lives.

A major Democratic figure and former legislator agrees. Interviewed about Cabrera and Lin, Gary Goyke noted, "These are the candidates asking the community to take a risk and choose someone who they believe can actually do something for the district.  Many in these districts feel they are in need of an active representative who can focus on local issues.”  

Commentator Gary Goyke
But Goyke’s analysis goes further looking at the entire city of Milwaukee. “Eight primaries involving some 575,000 citizens!  And only Sinicki and Zamarippa seem confident of making it through.”

“That means this August that SIX of the legislative primaries  are contentious,” he said. “The differences are certainly style but also actual dedication to the job, and an appeal to voters to expect more from their representatives. The incumbents are all more or less being challenged on that basis.” 

He’s talking about an earthquake -- nearly 10% of Wisconsin and some 468,000 voters in one city’s heavily uncertain races, probably the largest potential shift of legislative names in the state.

Here’s a discussion of those state races. 


About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for urbanmilwaukee.com.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

NOVEMBER ELECTION ACTUALLY STARTS AUGUST 9

By Dominique Paul Noth

It is a ludicrous even pitiable date for a major election – Tuesday, August 9, the dog days of summer. It is hard to motivate voters or plead with them to step away from typical activity in vacation friendly Wisconsin.  Harder still to explain the confounding early voting rules, why you must bring ID this time or justify how absentee ballot requirements have been used to create such horrible primary placement. 

Few realize the importance of this August primary.  Sure, several state races don’t really face off until November – IF there’s only a lone Democrat and a lone Republican running. Many don’t even realize how many races will actually be decided August 9 in the Democratic or Republican primaries.

For unhappy Dems and disgruntled Republicans, a national tide is emerging that could benefit struggling Wisconsin, a rescue through an election blitz. But only if the blitz begins Aug. 9.


Harley lover Nehlen hopes to ride Ryan out in the primary
Expect some mischief crossover mainly by the right-wing unless their own party has an important race – such as is happening in Congressional District 1 where well-heeled businessman and patent owner Paul Nehlen is running hard against the better known and even better funded Speaker of the House, Paul (I’m With Racist) Ryan, as the NY Daily News famously labeled him (quickly following up with the equally pointed “NRA’s Li’l Lapdog”).

That CD1 contest forces Republican voters to stay in their own lane because every vote will count. More on that race later.

August 9 will decide many important contests or, as in the Ryan-Nehlen case, threaten unexpected newness.

In Milwaukee, several key races will be over August 9 depending on who wins the Democratic primary. On that ballot hinges the re-election of John Chisholm as district attorney. Or whether hard charging Mandela Barnes, abandoning his Assembly seat, will rise to be 4th District state senator over entrenched Lena Taylor. It also determines if the deserving Rep. LaTonya Johnson picks up the state Senate District 6 mantle of Nikiya Harris Dodd, who for family reasons is leaving. But first Johnson has to wrestle to the ground Milwaukee school board’s Michael Bonds, who failed badly in a recent run for the Common Council, and Lena Taylor’s outside-money-funded chief of staff, Thomas Harris.  These races and other decisive August contests will be discussed in depth in my next column.

If that is not enough reason to vote Aug 9, roll your eyes over the whole state and consider:


  • Russ Feingold has a token Democrat to overcome in August, then the real contest is between him and US Sen. Ron Johnson November 8.  August is still important because strength on the  ballot is often more revealing than who is leading in the polls.


  • August will determine which of two Democrats take on the GOP’s newest gift to insane House statements, Glenn Grothman,  for US Congressional  District 6.  The most likely is Sarah Lloyd and she could give Grothman a run for his life in November even in this long conservative region.



Sarah Lloyd
She is a far better fit for this district,  which ranges from Ozaukee County far west to Waushara County.  It is a deeply agricultural area. She  is co-owner of a dairy farm and respected state agrarian leader, with a Ph D in rural sociology.  And far more likable and articulate than the permanently sneering Grothman.


  • A similar primary before the November finale is taking place in CD 7, the largest district geographically covering northwest and central Wisconsin. Author and communication arts professor Mary Hoeft is hoping her passion for public education will defeat fellow Democrat Joel Lewis, a  Marathon County Board member, for the chance to face off in November against former reality celebrity, sportscaster and long-time pain in the austerity butt – Rep. Sean Duffy. Common sense wants him gone and Hoeft may do it.


  • Rep. Gwen Moore is predicted an easy repeat over a ghost from the patronage  past, Gary George, which on Aug. 9 will pretty much determine Congressional District 4 (gerrymandered by the GOP to be extremely Democratic in Milwaukee).


  • In CD8, where Rep. Reid Ribble has refused to run again, the primary contest is only on the Republican side. So progressive hopes have to wait for November. Then well-known Tom Nelson --  popular Outagamie County Executive, a nonpartisan position, and  former Democratic Assembly majority leader (in the long ago days of 2010 when bipartisanship had a chance) – gets to go full bore. Nelson is only 40, a reminder of how quickly political fortunes can reverse in Wisconsin.


This would be a key pickup for Democrats – a district that  spans Marinette, just east of Wausau, south through Appleton and Chilton, and also includes Door County. The GOP is likely to weaken itself in a three-way primary.
Ron Kind challenger Myron Bucholz

  • Other primary races look safe for congressional incumbents, except for a maverick uprising among progressives over CD3 incumbent Ron Kind who has hurt himself in trade stance and his  inability over 18 years  to reverse poverty trends and the loss of education funding.
Former teacher Myron Buchholz is making surprising inroads against Kind, who has often been talked about as a candidate for governor. This district ranges from La Crosse to Eau Claire in southwest and central Wisconsin.

It is a race that could profoundly reshape the Wisconsin political environment. So would a Nehlen victory over Ryan, which also changes the equation for the Democratic primary.  There two people who basically agree on principles offer a fresh choice – Tom Breu with a union background and Ryan Solen, an Iraqi war veteran. Either would have a stronger  chance against Nehlen, a staunch but less prominent conservative.


Nehlen without the sunglasses or the Harley
Yet Nehlen, a well-heeled well-spoken candidate,  has several advantages over Ryan. First, he hasn’t done the universally ridiculed  public dance around Donald Trump.  Also while Ryan poses for buff pictures at the gym, Nehlen has the toned muscle of business success in a modernized industry. 

CD1 was gerrymandered to be firmly in Ryan’s favor, but now that  is also working for Nehlen, since Ryan hasn’t even carried his home city of Janesville and struggles in Racine County and portions of Milwaukee County. Despite or perhaps because of his national prominence, the hidden edges of his reputation have been effectively exposed, leading past supporters – including, ironically, Nehlen – to look elsewhere. Even when he was Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president in 2012, party leaders ran away from his plan to disembowel Medicare. His actually economic policies have come back to haunt him as they did in a Nation story, written from the Democratic side but gaining resonance with Republicans:

"Years before Trump sold Republican primary voters on the myth of his own great success, Ryan sold a credulous Washington establishment on the notion that he was a serious thinker overflowing with political courage — a policy wonk uniquely willing to tackle tough issues such as entitlement reform,” wrote Katrina vanden Heuvel. “In the past month, however, it has become more obvious than ever that Ryan's reputation is worth about as much as a degree from Trump University."

Changing the US Congress is the big hope of the Democrats, but changes in the Madison statehouse  are also vital and more immediately in front of the voters.

New state Democratic Party chairman Martha Laning conceded in an interview that she is  committed to a 72 county strategy for Wisconsin, with Democrats fighting for every seat, upper and lower.  But she wants to involve the grassroots organizers and groups --  and that takes time and money,  so this  is not happening until 2018, she noted.

That is why, despite a real chance to take over the state senate, some Republicans even in the Milwaukee region have a free ride – the replacement for Mary Lazich will be the GOP’s Dave Craig, the lone candidate in Senate District 8; incumbent Alberta Darling stands alone in heavily gerrymandered Senate District 6. 

Despite such gimmes there is strong likelihood of Democratic takeover in the Senate, though some key races don’t poke up their heads until November. In SD12, GOP Tom Tiffany is facing an aggressive challenge from Bryan Van Stippen, a small business owner who originally intended to run for an Assembly seat but upgraded because of “the divisiveness and extremism created by the leaders in Madison holding our economy back --  and we need to end it.” 


Brian Smith
Similarly in November in SD14,  GOP Luther S. Olson is being challenged by Waupaca’s longest running mayor Brian Smith.  Diane Odeen in an uphill but do-able battle against SD 8’s Republican, Sheila Harsdorf. 

All these cases represent Democrats who fit the district and are motivated by such issues as transportation policy, education policy and environmental issues. Noted Smith, “I’m not a conservative tea party individual and I’m just as far away from being a liberal socialist -- I’m in-between, which makes me a moderate.”


Mark Harris
In open Senate District 18, long a Republican stronghold, Democrat Mark Harris has a token primary opponent. Yet, though the  GOP even passed a law to financially injure the popular Winnebago County Executive, he is favored to win --  if voters get him there Aug. 9. 

Democratic takeover of the state senate would stymie the worst instincts of the Madison lawmakers who have driven the state toward the economic and public education bottom.  Even longtime GOP voters tell interviewers they want a change.

By tradition where there are two or more candidates from one party, the state party machinery isn’t supposed to officially gear up and take sides (though I would argue that Feingold is the obvious exception – he’s already being promoted on party websites). 

So here’s another reason to value Aug. 9. No party is spoon-feeding its constituents through ads and billboards. Of course the better financed candidate may spend more – and where the money is coming from is often secret. But a high voter interest and turnout  would confirm an electorate deeply concerned and willing to think independently.

We are seeing other groups organize to take sides in the primary. Individuals, too.  Five members of CD4 have informally held “Field of Dems” fund-raisers for the NINE  women they want to see elected.  Hillary and Gwen Moore, of course, but they are also  raising funds for Sarah Lloyd (6th CD) and Mary Hoeft (7th CD), plus state candidates LaTonya Johnson (Senate), Diane Odeen (Senate), Jennifer Shilling (Senate), Marisabel Cabrera (Assembly), and Mandy Wright (Assembly).

Organizations independent of party coffers are speaking out – including Wisconsin Progressives, Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Working Families Party, which will release its backings this week. These efforts are particularly notable in the Milwaukee area primary races the next column will discuss.

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for urbanmilwaukee.com.